Fukushima 128... 12/4/2020-2/19/2021

March 11, 2021

Today commemorates 10 years since the Fukushima nuke accident. Below is a sampling of today's 10th anniversary articles published in Japan's Press...

March 5, 2021 

  • Tepco finished transfer of fuel bundles from Unit #3 SFP to the F. Daiichi Common Storage Facility. The schedule was very close to that included in the mid-to-long-term roadmap for decommissioning. Four of the fuel bundles had deformed lifting handles caused by falling debris resulting from the unit #3 hydrogen explosion.  Other assemblies had debris atop them that needed to be removed in order to safely handle them. The final six bundles were transferred on February 28th. Now, Tepco can focus on the transfer of fuel bundles from unit #2 beginning in March, 2024, and unit #1 beginning in April 2027. https://jen.jiji.com/jc/eng?g=eco&k=2021022800271 -- https://www.jaif.or.jp/en/challenged-by-rubble-tepco-completes-removal-of-spent-fuel-assemblies-from-pool-at-fukushima-daiichi-3-npp/  

  • JAIF President Shiro Arai chronicles this past year’s F. Daiichi milestones. The most significant achievements are restoration of service to all closed-down sections of the JR Joban Train Line, the partial lifting of evacuation orders in Okuma and Futaba Towns, and progress toward restoration of suitable living conditions in both communities. With respect to F. Daiichi decommissioning, significant steps have been taken toward establishing a safe and effective work environment, the removal of spent (used) fuel from unit #3, and research & development on the removal of corium fuel debris. https://www.jaif.or.jp/en/marking-the-tenth-anniversary-of-the-fukushima-daiichi-accident/  

  • Slightly more than half of residents in the former Fukushima evacuation zones think reconstruction has not advanced! The combined statistics of two polls show 54.1% of those in Namie, Futaba, Okuma, Tomioka, Naraha, Hirono, Kawauchi, and Katsurao, believe post-disaster recovery has not made progress. The major stated problems are the impact of the prolonged evacuation orders, the ongoing decommissioning of F. Daiichi and that many evacuees have not returned. On the other hand, more than 34% say reconstruction is progressing because roads and other needed infrastructure have been restored. The polls were orchestrated by the Fukushima-Minpo News Company.  http://www.fukushimaminponews.com/news.html?id=1048  

  • Fukushima residents file another lawsuit over radiation exposure. A group of 29 people from Iitate claim they were exposed to F. Daiichi radiation due to delays in evacuation orders. The village is located northwest of the nuke plant site. Formal evacuation orders were not issued until April 22nd, more than a month after the accident occurred. They say that Tokyo knew of the elevated radiation levels by March 15th, but did nothing at the time to prevent the town’s population from exposure. https://jen.jiji.com/jc/eng?g=eco&k=2021030501175  

  • Former PMs Naoto Kan and Junichiro Koizumi continue their anti-nuclear crusade. Both urge a complete stop to the use of nuclear energy and a full commitment to so-called renewable energy generation. Koizumi says, "Japan has so much natural sources of energy like solar power, hydropower and wind power. Why should we use something that's more expensive and less safe?" At the same time, Kan attacked current PM Yoshihide Suga's vow to reduce Japan's net carbon emissions to zero by 2050, calling it a mere pretense to restart nuclear reactors. Kan added that the main obstacles in shifting to all renewables are the utility companies, government agencies and academics who constitute the "nuclear power village, "They know it would be too expensive to build new plants, or that there's no way to properly dispose of nuclear waste. But there are a lot of stakeholders and they want to keep it that way.” Kan added that he had been misled concerning nuclear safety, which made him assume that a severe nuclear accident was not possible, "Before the disaster, I had thought that a nuclear accident would not take place, but I was wrong. I feel grave responsibility for the death of many elderly people and people suffering illnesses when they took refuge in the early stages of the accident. “He then made yet another claim of his actions being the fault of incorrect information from Tepco and the government watchdog agencies, "The biggest problem" that the government faced in addressing the nuclear accident was that "correct information did not come" from TEPCO, the former Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency or the former Nuclear Safety Commission.  https://mainichi.jp/english/articles/20210302/p2g/00m/0na/022000c -- https://jen.jiji.com/jc/eng?g=eco&k=2021022700560  

  • Japan’s official 10th anniversary memorial event for the 2011 earthquake and tsunami that killed more than 18,000 people will occur on March 11th. It will take place at the National Theatre in Tokyo and attended by Emperor Naruhito and Empress Masako. This will be the first of the annual memorial attended by new emperor Naruhito. The ceremony was cancelled last year due to COVID19 pandemic concerns. The number of participants this year will be limited to 220 individuals. https://jen.jiji.com/jc/eng?g=eco&k=2021030200687  

A number of Press reports were posted this past week in anticipation of the 10th anniversary of the F. Daiichi accident, including... 

  • An NHK survey with 2,300 respondents indicates that 70% of Japan wants reliance on nuclear energy to be reduced, if not eliminated.  https://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/en/news/20210302_25/  

  • The Yomiuri Shimbun says Tokyo should think long and hard about nuclear energy. It points to the long path toward decommissioning, its high cost, and the ongoing buildup of mildly radioactive waste water. The editorial concludes, “It is important for the government to formulate a national strategy to respond to the global trend of decarbonization while steadily proceeding with disposal work at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant.” https://the-japan-news.com/news/article/0007201191  

With respect to the disaster recovery elsewhere... 

  • In Miyagi Prefecture, the issue of isolation is causing residents mental problems. Jiji Press says, “Those who look well may not be.” The town of Minamisanriku’s local social welfare council watches over disaster survivors living in permanent housing. One former staff member says, "The population is aging further, and many tend to have sudden changes in health conditions." In addition to paid staff, the town is asking disaster survivors to keep a watchful eye on their neighbors.   https://jen.jiji.com/jc/eng?g=eco&k=2021030400605  

  • In Morioka, Iwate Prefecture, 25 tsunami-displaced residents continue to live in prefabricated housing. Meanwhile, five people in Fukushima are in the same situation. The good news is that the Iwate residents should be able to move out by the end of March. At its peak, the number of evacuees in prefab housing in the two prefectures plus Miyagi, stood at more than 116,000 for. The last Miyagi Prefecture evacuee left prefab housing last April.  https://jen.jiji.com/jc/eng?g=eco&k=2021030200899 

February 26, 2021 

  • The IAEA offers to assist in the disposal of F. Daiichi wastewater. The head of the International Atomic Energy Agency, Director General Rafael Mariano Grossi, made this proposal on Wednesday, February 24th.  A Japanese government committee says that dilution and subsequent release to the sea is the most practical option. Japanese fisheries remain concerned about the negative impact of unfounded rumors on their business with a diluted release. Grossi says that local concerns, along with those of neighboring countries, make it important that the IAEA have a presence once Tokyo makes its final decision. https://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/en/news/20210225_09/  

  • F. Daiichi’s decontamination waste disposal cost will be $3.7 billion, says Tokyo’s National Institute for Environmental Studies. The estimated cost is based on the assumption that more than 90% will be recycled in public works. Less than 10% will need to be disposed of at sites outside the prefecture., and this is where the bulk of the cost will occur.  https://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/en/news/20210226_17/  

  • A Taiwanese computer programmer says the Fukushima’s recovery is largely unknown outside the Prefecture!  Taiwan's Audrey Tang is a Digital Minister. She joined an online meeting with a number of Fukushima high school and college students. She was asked how false rumors, such as Fukushima residents being radioactive, should be addressed. She responded that such gossip is the result of ignorance, and the best response is to tell the truth. Tang is widely known for her significant role in bringing the spread of COVID19 under control in Taiwan. https://english.kyodonews.net/news/2021/02/7ec010d9a839-taiwans-audrey-tang-discusses-fukushima-challenges-with-students.html  

  • Tepco has removed four damaged F. Daiichi unit #3 fuel assemblies from the spent fuel pool. The handles for removal and other underwater movements were bent by falling debris caused by the unit’s hydrogen explosion in March, 2011. The device used to grasp the deformed handles was developed jointly with a private firm. Tepco says that the fuel bundles tilted slightly once they were removed from their respective “sleeves”, but the result was nothing of safety significance. There are 22 other fuel bundles in the pool, that can now be removed by the end of March. https://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/en/news/20210220_07/  

  • A Fukushima resident’s death was caused by last Saturday’s powerful earthquake. A man was crushed by falling household goods

February 19, 2021  

  • Tokyo High Court finds both Tepco and the national government liable for the 2011 F. Daiichi accident. This is the second high court ruling to find both the government and Tepco both legally responsible and subject to pay financial damages for incurred mental distress. This reverses a September 2017 Chiba lower court ruling that absolved Tokyo of liability. It also reduced the total financial of financial damages to 43 claimants from $3.7 million for Tepco-alone, down to $2.6 million combined. All plaintiffs are evacuees from Fukushima Prefecture who have moved to Chiba and other prefectures, but refuse to return to their Fukushima homes even though the local living restrictions have been lifted. Presiding judge Shirai Yukio said the government could have foreseen the risk of a massive tsunami, if it had studied a long-term assessment of seismic activities released by a panel of experts in 2002. He added that if the plant had been equipped with tidal barriers it would not have suffered a prolonged full-station power blackout. He said, “If the government had taken (preventive) measures, the accident would not have happened. It went against the law by not exercising its power to impose regulations." In fact, he called the government’s failure to invoke its regulatory power “extremely unreasonable”! https://jen.jiji.com/jc/eng?g=eco&k=2021021901282 - https://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/en/news/20210219_34/ - https://mainichi.jp/english/articles/20210219/p2g/00m/0dm/001000d  

  • Kansai Electric Company says they will identify a site for used (spent) fuel storage by the end of 2023. The commitment has been the sticking point of whether or not Fukui’s governor would approve restarts of three nuke units in the prefecture, each of which has exceeded Japan’s largely arbitrary 40-year licensing limit. The Nuclear Regulatory Authority has found all three units worthy of an extended legal lifetime. Kepco president Takashi Morimoto met Governor Tatsuji Sugimoto to admit that the company had caved to the governor’s demand for an out-of-Fukui facility. Morimoto stressed that operation of nukes beyond the 40-year limit is safe and fiscally responsible. Also at the meeting, Industry Minister Kajiyama said it is essential to operate NPPs beyond 40 years to achieve the national government’s target energy mix for 2030 and beyond. He promised METI would provide maximum support for regional growth and development after the end of operations. https://www.jaif.or.jp/en/site-for-spent-fuel-intermediate-storage-facility-outside-fukui-prefecture-to-be-determined-by-end-of-2023/  

  • Miyagi fishermen say their poor catches since 2011 are mostly due to global warming. It seems the reduced business since 2019 is not being blamed on F. Daiichi rumors. Before the Great East Japan Earthquake and Tsunami of 2011, Miyagi ranked second in Japan in terms to yield thanks to rich offshore fishing grounds formed by the meeting of the Oyashio and Kuroshio Currents. the tsunami ravaged the prefecture's coastal areas.  It has partially recovered due to fish markets, fishing vessels, and farming facilities being rebuilt in reconstruction projects run by the central and prefectural governments. The yearly haul had returned to pre-calamity level in 2017, but has steadily dropped since then. https://jen.jiji.com/jc/eng?g=eco&k=2021021600600  


February 12, 2021

  • Okuma Town Clinic opens in the Ogawara District. It is the first medical facility to open in the F. Daiichi host community since 3/11/2011! There was no opening ceremony due to pandemic concerns. When the doors opened at 8:30am on Tuesday February 9th, townspeople were already waiting. The first examination began promptly at 9am. Currently, the facility will be open only on Tuesdays. The clinic’s doctor, Kenshiro Yamauchi, hails looks forward to being the primary care doctor for the 285 residents who have returned. One of the most common reasons why so few have returned is lack of a medical facility. https://the-japan-news.com/news/article/0007115605
  • The security breach at Kashiwazaki-Kariwa is judged serious by the NRA. Last week, we posted the discovery of control room worker using someone else’s ID card, which occurred in September. The K-K station is owned by Tepco. Tepco discovered and investigated the incident, finding that the worker lost his ID card, took another person’s from a nearby locker, then used it to enter the central control room. The NRA maintains there are several checkpoints workers must pass through before getting to the control room.  It seems a security person entered him in manually by rewriting data into the computer. The Nuclear Regulation Authority says this is a serious mistake, violating anti-terrorist rules. The government says they might conduct security reviews on ID checking systems at other utilities to find if the practice is endemic. https://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/en/news/20210211_26/

February 5, 2021

  • Four “deformed” fuel cells will be removed from the unit #3 Spent Fuel Pool (SFP). Actually, it seems the only deformities are to the handles on the tops of the bundles. The damage occurred when large chunks of debris fell on the handles during the explosion of March 14, 2011. The handles are grasped by fuel handling technology to lift, hold, and transport the bundles during refueling operations. A standard fuel handling machine might not be able to grasp the damaged handles sufficiently to preclude dropping during the movement. A “specially designed hook” has been made to do the job safely. 562 bundles have been removed from the pool, to date. Only the four with mangled handles remain. The work is expected to be done in the next few weeks. https://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/en/news/20210205_02/
  • The mayor of Takahama Town OKs two controversial nuke restarts. Both Takahama units Nos. 1&2 have operated beyond the NRA’s largely arbitrary 40 year licensing limit, making Mayor Yukata Nose’s approval the first of its kind in Japan. Both units have already passed the Nuclear Regulation Authority requirements for a 20 year extension. He told the town assembly, "The town understands (the need for the restart) as we comprehensively take into account the safety of the nuclear reactors and their importance. We have confirmed" that all of the requirements are met. https://jen.jiji.com/jc/eng?g=eco&k=2021020100514
  • A Fukushima centotaph will honor those who died because of a 3/11/11 dam break. The collapse was caused by the Great East Japan Earthquake on that date in the city of Sukagawa. The official unveiling will occur on March 11. The lake behind the dam held about 1.5 million tons of water designed to be an agricultural supply. Most of it suddenly rushed downstream, flooding 131 structures and killing eight. Some of the bereaved families don’t want the names of their lost kin etched into the stone because the bodies were never found and they still hold out hope they are somehow alive. Those who feel otherwise have assisted in the project. https://the-japan-news.com/news/article/0007115339
  • A Fukushima photographer has made a large picture of a rose garden linking two international tragedies. Specifically, the 3/11/11 earthquake in Japan and the 9/11/01 destruction of the Twin Trade Towers in New York. The quake and resulting tsunami hit the city of Ishinomaki hard. The photographer, Katsuhiro Noguchi, decided to create the work after meeting a Japanese-American doctor, Robert T. Yanagisawa, who was intimately familiar with the American tragedy. The photo is a composite of pictures taken at a memorial garden in the Ogatsu District of Ishinomaki. It is named “Ogatsu Rose Factory Garden". Noguchi says, "Flowers have the power of enabling people to share empathetic feelings beyond the barriers of nationality, culture and language." The large photo measures roughly 3 feet on a side. http://www.fukushimaminponews.com/news.html?id=1044
  • The Yomiuri Shimbun says Fukushima decommissioning still has a “very long way to go”. The news outlet has the largest circulation in Japan, and is known for its generally objective reporting. Because of this, Tepco granted the Yomiuri access to the plant site to preview the 10th anniversary of the accident, next month. Much of the visual visit focused on unit #1. The unit was enclosed by a temporary structure in 2011. That structure was removed in 2016 to facilitate removal of392 fuel bundles from the SFP. Another, much larger enclosure will be constructed around the destroyed upper floor to safely accommodate the crane that will lift and remove the fuel bundles. The report also chronicles the fact that most of the plant site has been cleaned up to the point where anti-contamination clothing is no longer required. While observing unit #3, the reporter said his dosimeter showed 235 microsieverts per hour. At that rate, it would take about 4 hours to reach the annual limit for ordinary members of the public. Though unstated in the article, this is a many times improvement over the past 10 years! https://the-japan-news.com/news/article/0007124523
  • Tepco’s K-K unit restarts possibly delayed because of an alleged “misconduct”. Restarts of any Kashiwazaki-Kariwa nukes depend on approval by local officials. However, a Tepco employee entered one of the control rooms by using another employee’s ID card last September. Tepco discovered it and dutifully reported the issue to the NRA. Neither Tepco nor the NRA made a public announcement at the time of the incident. Niigata Governor Hideyo Hamazumi said the incident violated “fundamental basics of security”. Public distrust is expected to emerge. https://jen.jiji.com/jc/eng?g=eco&k=2021013000437

January 15, 2021

  • A new library to open in Okuma. It will hold up to 50,000 books and become one of the largest collections at a Japanese public school. Books donated since the March, 2011 calamity will be displayed in gratitude for public donations. The library will allow Okuma will be called a “Town of reading”. The school housing the library will be dubbed because kindergarten, elementary, and junior high will be housed in the same location. http://www.fukushimaminponews.com/news.html?id=1041
  • A coming-of-age ceremony for the town of Namie was held last Saturday. 54 residents who turn 20 this year were honored in this annual celebration. Now an official adult, Ayumi Yoshida said,  "I feel happy that I was able to take part in this coming-of-age ceremony in my hometown although we are experiencing a host of difficult challenges." Namie Mayor Kazuhiro Yoshida said: "You are all gifted and have a bright future. I want you to keep watching your hometown Namie." All participants wore masks and practiced appropriate social distancing. https://jen.jiji.com/jc/eng?g=eco&k=2021011000043
  • One of the most tsunami-devastated coastal communities on the Pacific coast sees its massive ground-elevation project continue. The ten meter high civil engineering feat in Rikuzentakata, Iwate Prefecture, is scheduled to be completed this spring. The city was hit with a 10 meter surge on March 11, 2011, killing at least 1,606 residents. 223 remain missing and are presumed dead. The ground-elevation project will be more than 2.5 times the size of Tokyo’s Disneyland Park. Mayor Futoshi Toba has urged the size of the project to be expanded to its present size because, “It is meaningless if people say it’s too scary to live there.” Resident Toshihiro Kanno lost his home in the disaster and said: “Everyone had their hands full rebuilding their lives. We didn’t have time to think about what the city would look like after reconstruction.” https://the-japan-news.com/news/article/0007055573

January 8, 2021

  • Japan’s Atomic Industrial Forum says the country needs nukes to meet environmental goals. JAIF points to zero carbon emissions, “economic efficiency”, and stability in supplying electricity. The organization also looks forward to the restarts of Kashiwazaki-Kariwa units 6&7, Onagawa unit 2, Tokai Daini, Takahama units 1&2 and Mihama unit 3. JAIF also calls for extending operating lifetimes since the rate of degradation for nukes is extremely low. For 2021, the group wants to upgrade public understanding, assist in Fukushima reconstruction, improve development of human resources, and assist in international cooperation. https://www.jaif.or.jp/en/greeting-at-the-start-of-2021/
  • JAEA says the removal of fuel debris from F. Daiichi reactors should be under water. Japan Atomic Energy Agency research show that partially melted fuel may have clung to vessel internals. If not carefully removed, they maintain that a chemical reaction could occur resulting in a metal fire and another meltdown. JAEA’s Kurata said, “It became clear that what’s happening to the fuel debris largely differs with each reactor. It’s important to proceed based on the assessment of the samples taken instead of relying on past precedents.” http://www.fukushimaminponews.com/news.html?id=1040
  • Naoto Khan wanted to evacuate the emperor to Kyoto at the start of the Fukushima accident. However, the Imperial Household Agency dismissed the idea because it could have resulted in metropolitan panic. Kan, now a radical antinuclear activist, admits it was only his idea, but denies ever trying to do it. A senior Kan official says this is not true and that a “mediator” was assigned to make the idea known to the emperor’s Imperial Chief, Shingo Haketa. Grand chamberlain Yutaka Kawashima posted in a magazine, "It is utterly inconceivable for his majesty to abandon the people of Tokyo and leave Tokyo." https://english.kyodonews.net/news/2021/01/3f87b65872fe-emperors-evacuation-to-kyoto-weighed-after-fukushima-nuclear-disaster.html
  • An Asahi Shimbun poll says 32% support the release of essentially harmless F. Daiichi wastewater. However, 55% still oppose the possibility. Moreover, 80% fear that the release would damage the reputation of the local fishing industry. Whereas 44% of male respondents support the release, 62% of women oppose it. Also, 67 said Tokyo’s handling of the nuclear accident to date has been bad while 20 percent gave the government high ratings. The poll was taken in November and December. http://www.asahi.com/ajw/articles/14080736  (Aside – the 32% support for the release is the highest we have seen yet! – End aside)

January 1, 2021

  • Thirty percent of Fukushima residents feel reconstruction has been sufficient. Meanwhile, 80% of Miyagi and 66% of Iwate Prefectures feel the same about recovery in their prefectures.  Of the three hundred people in the three prefectures who were polled, 176 felt reconstruction was "progressing" or "progressing to some degree" and 123 said progress was insufficient. Among Fukushima residents unhappy with progress, many said they are disappointed that they are still not allowed to return home. https://english.kyodonews.net/news/2021/01/13fd3540b365-only-30-of-fukushima-residents-happy-with-disaster-recovery-progress.html
  • Another overly-optimistic projection for renewable energy is proposed for Japan. In December, the World Wide Fund formally assured Japan that it can be carbon-neutral by 2050. WWF’s “expert” Konishi Masako says that drastic change is needed, and the key is total elimination of coal-burning. While this is true, they reject nuclear energy as a viable alternative. Instead, they believe that strategically-located wind and solar plants, combined with hydrogen based generation, can off-set the loss of coal by 2030. Not only is their idea reliant on inherently intermittent solar and wind, but they say that enough excess energy will be produced by 2030 to make copious amounts for hydrogen as a fuel. Masako asserts, “When you fill energy demand with natural sources like solar and wind that are reliant on weather conditions, you end up producing a lot of surplus energy. But, this surplus energy can be used to break down water into hydrogen.” (Aside - We at the Hiroshima Syndrome understand that this concept is irresponsible and unrealistic. Total carbon neutrality is possible for Japan only with a drastic shift to nukes. – End aside!) https://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/en/news/backstories/1436/  
    • The Asahi Shimbun makes an unsupported claim about radiation levels at F. Daiichi! The headline reads, "Radiation levels at Fukushima plant far worse than was thought", but nothing in the subsequent article supports the claim! Of realistic interest, the article correctly points out that the shield plugs which seal up the containments have radioactive material attached to their undersides. NRA chairman Toyoshi Fuketa has said, "It appears that nuclear debris lies at an elevated place. This will have a huge impact on the whole process of decommissioning work." The body of the Asahi report is filled with huge numerical estimates of radiation levels inside the containments, but nowhere does it say that these estimates are any worse than had been expected! http://www.asahi.com/ajw/articles/14071742

December 25, 2020

  • Resolidified fuel removal from F. Daiichi unit #2 is further delayed due to COVID19. The Industry Ministry says the robotic arm that will be needed for the careful process has had its development stalled in England due to pandemic cutbacks. Tepco had planned to perform robotic arm experiments in Britain in August, but the plan has been suspended and will resume after the device has been transported to Japan. A Ministry official says, “"We will put safety first and make efforts to ensure that the delay of the process will be limited to around a year." The device is expected to arrive in Japan in April for further development. Unit #2 did not suffer a hydrogen explosion and must have the least damage of the three units that suffered meltdown, making it less problematic for the defueling process. Of the three units containing reactors with damaged fuel cells, robotic surveys have shown the most detailed images and data from inside that building. It is now hoped that the work can begin in 2022 instead of next year. https://english.kyodonews.net/news/2020/12/4e2ce29b334c-melted-fuel-removal-from-crippled-fukushima-reactor-to-be-delayed.html -- https://jen.jiji.com/jc/eng?g=eco&k=2020122301000 -- https://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/en/news/20201223_05/
  • Namie rice harvest is the first since the 2011 tsunami. The coastal evacuation order was lifted three years ago, and it has taken this long to restore the farmland. A Miyagi Prefecture company planted 24 hectares this past spring, leased from local farmers. 100 kilograms of the product have been put on sale at a roadside rest area. https://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/en/news/20201219_18/
  • An IAEA monitoring team is ready to support the release of mildly radioactive wastewater from F. Daiichi, if and when it happens. International Atomic Energy Agency Director General Rafael Grossi said, "We can cooperate if the government of Japan so decides and invites us. We could cooperate in the whole spectrum of the operation, before, during and afterwards. Regulated discharge to the open sea or evaporation, are technically feasible" and "in line with the current practice and best practices internationally." The Innocuous release is being delayed due to radiophobic local opposition and neighboring countries like South Korea and China. On Sunday, Japanese Chief Cabinet Secretary Katsunobu Kato said that the government can no longer put off the decision. Grossi also spoke in a positive fashion about geological burial of high level nuclear waste, citing the new facility in Finland. https://english.kyodonews.net/news/2020/12/b739b01e6cf5-iaea-ready-to-send-monitor-team-for-fukushima-water-release.html
  • How safe will the wastewater release from F. Daiichi be? Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute is checking the San Onofre (SONGs) facility’s environment to find out. It has had “liquid batch releases” to the Pacific Ocean for many years. To insure reasonable transparency, California’s Surfrider Foundation acts as an external, independent testing option, just to be a watchdog. While San Onofre was operating, all water quality testing was done by Southern California Edison. The releases from the facility are piped more than a mile offshore at a depth of about 50 feet. It must be “purified” and diluted before release, just as will be the case with the fluids from F. Daiichi. The volume for this year has been about 200,000 gallons. At no time did the contamination level exceed regulatory limits. Concerning the radiological impact, Wood’s Hole‘s senior scientist, Ken Buessler, said, “You could still swim or surf every single day for an entire year and the dose effect of the additional radiation is about a thousand times smaller than a dental X-ray.” Southern California Edison adds thatSCE has been safely cleaning and discharging these liquids for more than 50 years with no measurable impact on the environment! https://www.latimes.com/california/story/2020-12-01/songs-surfrider?fbclid=IwAR2zCuOHfugRRx6QAnA287tQMS-vREEvrNRd6wyJemRXBlP1OnUDguUveQE
  • Meanwhile, Mutsu Mayor Soichiro Miyashita continues to take umbrage with siting a used nuclear fuel facility in Aomori Prefecture. Now, he argues that his community is "not a nuclear dumping site" and there is "no need" for Mutsu to accept the spent fuel from across Japan. Federation of Electric Power Companies of Japan (FEPC) vice chair Shimizu Shigenobu responded, "We want to move forward with considering (the plan) while we make efforts to gain understanding from local residents." Miyashita maintains that the facility has been “imposed” on his town and other more appropriate locations should be considered. He believes that the Mutsu facility will not be a temporary location, as it has been purported, but rather a permanent storage site. https://mainichi.jp/english/articles/20201219/p2a/00m/0na/012000c

December 18, 2020

  • Tokyo will give about $19,000 to families that return to evacuated Fukushima towns. Businesses that reopen will get roughly $38,000. The incentive program will start next year. Eleven of the communities were ordered to flee by the central government, while another, Hironomachi, was evacuated by order of the town government. The money is intended to increase the rate of repopulation since only about 20% have returned since evacuation orders were rescinded. In order to qualify, the residents must agree to live at the locations for at least five years. The maximum amount for returning home is for those who have relocated in other prefectures. Tokyo hopes that the money will cause 300 people to return the first year of the subsidy. Other monetary incentives will be given to promote town development and area revitalization. http://www.asahi.com/ajw/articles/14031389
  • The government will remove the two remaining wind power units off the shore of Futaba. The reason given is lack of financial profitability due to a poor operating record. Three units were built beginning in 2012 to demonstrate renewable power feasibility. It was literally a pipe dream. Capacity factors for wind turbines must be at 30% or more to make a profit. None of the units came close to that! Capacity factor is the ratio of actual electrical output over a given period of time compared to the maximum output over that period if the unit operated at 100% all the time. The wind units off Futaba had capacity factors that varied between 4% and 36%. Local people complain that taxpayer money has been wasted and an investigation should happen. The cost of the project was more than $550 million. https://english.kyodonews.net/news/2020/12/cb1e52acc2bc-govt-to-pull-out-of-60-bil-yen-wind-power-project-off-fukushima.html
  • Japan’s FEPC says twelve units using pluthermal nuclear fuel is possible Pluthermal fuel (MOX) is comprised of recycled uranium and plutonium extracted from used fuel bundles. The Federation of Electric Power Company’s original goal was to have as many as 18 units running on MOX bundles by 2015. At this point, only four units are using MOX fuel. But, FERC maintains the original goal is still possible. In order to meet that goal, nuke utilities need to agree to the mutual usage of the recycled fuel. Currently, plans to recycle the used fuel and fabricate new fuel bundles are a matter of individual utilities using only their own spent fuel. By combining their efforts, the cost of the fuel will be mitigated. Presidents of nine electric power companies that operate nuclear plants, such as Japan Atomic Power Co., are scheduled to meet to approve the pluthermal vision. Exacerbating the planning is a sudden two-year delay in finishing the Rokkasho nuclear fuel project, which has already passed the Nuclear Regulation Authority safety inspection. Instead of a 2022 start-up, it will begin operation in 2024.  https://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/en/news/20201217_32/ -- http://www.asahi.com/ajw/articles/14013780 --  https://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/en/news/20201216_35/ -- https://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/en/news/20201216_22/
  • The NRA is inspecting the Japan Atomic Power Company for evidence of malfeasance. Allegedly, the company rewrote safety review data to have Tsuruga unit #2 restarted. This is a rare procedure for the nuke watchdog. NRA Chairman Toyoshi Fuketa explained, "We hope to clarify the Japan Atomic Power's vision through the inspection." At issue is whether or not a fault line under the unit’s reactor building is active. During an administrative safety review, the NRA found about 80 data alterations and/or deletions in the company’s official documents. https://mainichi.jp/english/articles/20201214/p2a/00m/0na/012000c
  • Hokkaido communities formally object to requests to apply for preliminary studies concerning locating nuke waste storage sites near them. The Shimamaki village assembly passed an antinuclear waste ordinance to prevent said waste from passing through their town. The vote was four to three, with the assembly president abstaining. Supposedly, potential host site Suttsu refused to hear the Shimamaki opposition, which infuriated some to the town’s assembly. One opposing assembly member said, “Suttsu was not even going to listen to (opposing voices). It has to be stopped completely before moving from the first stage to the next.” He takes umbrage with Suttsu Mayor Haruo Kataoka for overriding local opposition and offering the town as a candidate for nuclear waste storage. It seems that three other communities are in agreement with the Shimamaki ordinance. In addition, the Furubira town assembly approved an opinion paper saying nuclear waste should not be brought into the northern island of Hokkaido at all. The first stage can be carried out without the consent of local governments, but the second and third stages must have local agreement. http://www.asahi.com/ajw/articles/14025336

December 11, 2020

  • A Fukushima wild mushroom harvester questions Japan’s overly-strict contamination standards. Tanagura resident Tsutomu Jinno says he never thought nearby wild mushrooms would be restricted because the town is 80 kilometers from F. Daiichi. He was wrong. The fungus absorbs radioactive Cesium at a high rate and literally stores it for long periods of time. Matsutake mushrooms are renowned for their great taste and unique aroma. They are considered a delicacy. But because of Japan’s overly-restrictive contamination limit of 100 Becquerels per kilogram, they cannot be harvested and eaten. Mr. Jinno collects as many as he can, they throws them away to limit the illegal practice. He says, “Honestly, it is painful to throw them away.” He wonders if the limit might be overly-restrictive. Koriyama Professor Hiroi Masaru suggests this might be the case, “Strict standards are necessary for foods we eat on a daily basis, such as rice, but we only consume mountain vegetables or wild mushrooms several times a year. The current radioactive levels would cause almost no harm.” In addition, International food standards tell us that 1000 Bq/kg or less is safe to consume. https://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/en/news/backstories/1401/
  • The NRA takes issue with last week’s Osaka court ruling on KEPCO nuke restarts. The court order prevents restart of Kansai units #3 & #4 allegedly because the Nuclear Regulation Authority violated its own safety regulations by not considering the most extreme hypothetical earthquake, far worse than anything ever occurring in Japan, and ”only” using the “average” of the data behind the regulations. A lawyer for the plaintiffs posited, “It is extremely significant that the court pointed out that the central government had ignored the very rules it created.” The court’s decision threatens to shutter all of Japan’s nukes. After a day to consider the outrageous ruling, an NRA earthquake expert said, “We were confident about the results of our screening, so it is a shock to have that rejected.” Another NRA official says, “If we took into consideration all possible factors, we would end up reaching a calculation for a phenomenon that would never occur.” Although the ruling stands for the time being, the NRA has no plans to review their regulations. An NRA source said, “This is still at the court of first instance.  It will not mean an immediate review of how the basic earthquake ground motion is calculated. It is too early to say this will affect other screenings because the Supreme Court has not yet finalized the ruling.” http://www.asahi.com/ajw/articles/13992247
  • The NRA says Japan’s first MOX fuel fabrication plant meets regulatory safety standards. Japan Nuclear Fuel Ltd’s (JNFL) Rokkasho unit formally passed NRA review on December 9th, after nearly seven years of deliberations. It is located in Aomori Prefecture.  By doing this, the  NRA says it meets or exceeds all stipulations in the Law for the Regulation of Nuclear Source Material, Nuclear Fuel Material and Reactors (the Reactor Regulation Law). The facility will recover uranium and plutonium from used nuclear fuel and refabricated as mixed uranium-plutonium oxide (MOX) fuel for use in light water reactors (LWRs). NRA Chairman Toyoshi Fuketa referred to a MOX supply-and-demand balance presented by the Japan Atomic Energy Commission (JAEC). This means that used fuel reprocessing and MOX fuel fabrication ought to be treated concurrently so that safety and resistance to nuclear proliferation were “both enhanced.” In October, the NRA endorsed draft certification documents showing the plant cleared the screening requirements adopted after the 2011 F. Daiichi accident. The unit is scheduled for completion in the first half of 2022. https://www.jaif.or.jp/en/japans-nra-recognizes-compatibility-of-jnfls-mox-fuel-fabrication-plant-with-new-regulatory-standards-approving-changes/ -- https://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/en/news/20201209_32/ -- https://jen.jiji.com/jc/eng?g=eco&k=2020120900861
  • Japan’s Federation of Electric Power Companies considers joint use of a temporary used fuel storage facility. The Mutsu unit is co-owned by Tepco and Japan Atomic Power Company (JAPCO). It is located in Aomori Prefecture and scheduled to open in 2021. Originally intended for only Tepco and JAPCO used fuel storage, the F. Daiichi accident greatly reduced the potential influx of used fuel bundles. Thus, there should be room to accommodate fuel bundles from other companies for a fee. Some of the fee-based fuel bundles are expected to come from Kansai Electric Company, which is being pressured by Fukui Prefecture to identify a candidate site for its spent fuel storage. it is a condition for local authorities to decide whether to approve the restart of the Takahama units #1 & #2 and Mihama unit # 3 reactor. All three have exceeded Tokyo’s largely arbitrary 40 year operating limit. https://jen.jiji.com/jc/eng?g=eco&k=2020121100148

December 4, 2020

  • An Osaka court hands down a potential landmark by rejecting Japan’s revamped nuclear safety rules. The decision, if it is not struck down, could have far-reaching implications. The NRA uses the same method to judge the safety levels of all other nukes. The ruling made the roughly 130 plaintiffs virtually giddy with joy. They argued that Nos. 3 and 4 units of Kansai Electric Power Co.'s Oi nuclear station in Fukui Prefecture are vulnerable to a major earthquake. Presiding Judge Hajime Morikagi said the Nuclear Regulation Authority's safety screening "has errors and flaws that should not be overlooked", suggesting a quake far greater than what the NRA believes is possible. Plaintiff lawyers say the decision resulted from "sincere and serious deliberations." As a result, they demand the immediate abolition of all "dangerous" nuclear units in Japan. To the contrary. NRA Lawyers responded that the plaintiffs’ arguments are “something they came up on their own and not based on scientific knowledge. We believe we were unable to earn the court's understanding regarding our claims. We will have discussions with the ministries and agencies concerned and respond accordingly.” Plant owner Kansai Electric Company posted that decision was "extremely regrettable and totally unacceptable." The court interprets a recent NRA regulatory provision saying the screening guidelines should account for variability due to various calculation methods. The plaintiffs say safety measures must be based on the most extreme earthquake conceivable for the region, and the NRA’s current calculation method merely produces an “average” for the regulatory design basis. Both Oi units are currently shut down for refueling and scheduled maintenance. They may restart if the NRA appeals the decision. Regardless, the ruling applies to all units in Japan until such time as it is struck down.  https://jen.jiji.com/jc/eng?g=eco&k=2020120400954 -- http://www.asahi.com/ajw/articles/13989665 -- https://english.kyodonews.net/news/2020/12/8c717cf8568d-urgent-japan-court-nullifies-approval-of-oi-nuclear-reactor-safety-steps.html -- https://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/en/news/20201204_27/ (The court decision is immediately the lead story through-out Japan’s news outlets. The above-listed references seem to embrace the range of Press coverage.)
  • Many voluntary evacuees are paying the price for their radiophobic decision to flee. Some 40 % of Fukushima evacuees are making less than $29,000 per year, which is considered low income in Japan. A survey held by Kwansei Gakuin University's Institute of Disaster Area Revitalization, Regrowth and Governance found that 75% of the low income respondents were From Fukushima Prefecture. Of them, 60% evacuated voluntarily! Before the nuke accident, average income was about $38,000 annually. 90% of the voluntary single-mother evacuees are included in the low income demographic. Close to 70% of respondents said they had no intention of returning home. Gakuin University’s Shigeki Yamanaka, says,, "Single-mother evacuees …have to take on two or three jobs. There needs to be a basic income system guaranteeing a minimum income for people who evacuate in a nuclear disaster, as well as a fund to support those people." https://jen.jiji.com/jc/eng?g=eco&k=2020120100633 -- https://mainichi.jp/english/articles/20201128/p2a/00m/0na/013000c

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