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Fukushima 43...11/9/2012-11/30/2012


November 30

  • Shiga Governor Yukiko Kada’s new antinuclear party dominates the December 16 election headlines in Japan. Kada has named her new party the Japan Future Party (JFP). In a “kick-off” press conference, Kada said she hopes to send a powerful message to future generations and the world. She emphasized, "We'll abolish nuclear power plants as soon as possible. My proposal is that we will do so by 2022. We must show the path toward graduating from nuclear power generation. We'd like to send a message of hope to the world, to the Earth and to future generations." Kada boldly asserted that for people who oppose nukes in Japan "There's no other political party that such voters can cast their ballots for." This is all contained in the “Lake Biwa Declaration” which is the official platform of the JFP. Osaka Mayor Toru Hashimoto, who has created his own minority party, endorses the nuclear policies of the JFP, "Let's debate thoroughly on the nuclear power issue. Debate and friendly competition will benefit Japan. Let's sacrifice ourselves for future generations." While she and Hashimoto differ on many other national issues concerning tax increases and Japan joining the Trans-Pacific Partnership, Kada expressed sympathy with the Osaka mayor’s antinuclear stand, "My position is the same with his in that we have no choice but to be involved in national politics in order to assure the implementation of the policy measures of our local governments." Kada also said, "We will welcome anyone who wants to join us.” She admitted she was not fully committed until this past Tuesday (11/27) when she received a letter from Tetsunari Iida of the Institute for Sustainable Energy policies saying, "There's no turning back. Let's go all the way." While many antinuclear pundits have hailed the new party’s creation, members of the public aren’t so sure. A 56-year-old housewife from Tokyo said, "I don't trust politicians very much, so I have no excessive expectations. I will wait and see if they won't change their cause." Many politicians also have their reservations about the JFP. Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda lambasted the move saying that philosophies and policies of Kada's new party are "unclear." DPJ Policy Chief (and Industry Minister) Goshi Hosono said, "I don't know how realistically she thinks about [phasing out nuclear energy].” The opinion-poll-leading Liberal Democratic Party has criticized the JFP’s extreme anti-nuclear policies as “irresponsible” and unrealistic. It is believed that the new party could attract about 60 Diet members, out of the 770 now in office. Kada feels her party could have as many as 100 people on the ballot by election time. (Mainichi Shimbun; Yomiuri Shimbun; Japan Today)
  • In parallel with the creation of the JFP, the currently-ruling DPJ party issued its official policy platform. The DPJ vows to pursue alternative energy sources and abolish all nukes by the 2030s. They also favor Participation in the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade agreement. Prime Minister Noda announced the platform and said, "Looking back on the past three years we did achieve many things, but unfortunately there were promises we couldn't keep and we owe the people a deep apology. This manifesto was compiled based on our past reflections and the lessons we learned." Because of the territorial dispute with China over the Senkaku Islands, the DPJ promised to protect Japanese territory and try to reach a mutual understanding with China so that the East China Sea, where the Islands are located, is "an ocean of peace, friendship and cooperation." (Japan Times) In addition, the poll-leading LDP party believes the singular issue of nuclear energy will not fully unite the new “3rd parties” in Japan. "Such a large number of third-force candidates in one constituency will doom themselves to defeat. Our party can only benefit with that kind of competition," a senior LDP official from Kanagawa Prefecture said. (Yomiuri Shimbun)
  • Tepco has released more video footage of company activities during the early weeks of the Fukushima crisis. A most disturbing revelation is Tepco/Tokyo’s continual failure to grasp the gravity of the situation at F. Daiichi weeks after the three hydrogen explosions had happened. Plant Manager Masao Yoshida shows considerable frustration with the home office. On March 30th, Yoshida tells Tepco/Tokyo he must release a large volume of mildly radioactive water to the sea or else he will run out of space to store the intensely radioactive waters building up in the turbine building basements (units #1, 2 & 3). Yoshida says he has been trying to get permission from them for a week and he cannot wait any longer. A Tepco official he tells him the home office has been looking at ways to avoid the release of the decontaminated waters. Yoshida reluctantly relents. But, five days later he tells Tepco he has reached his limit and cannot possibly handle the situation “with his feet and hands bound”. Later that day the water was released to the sea, sparking sharp criticism from the Japanese Press and Asian neighbors. Whether or not Yoshida did this with Tepco’s permission is not mentioned in today’s Press report. (NHK World)
  • Tepco’s latest posting of contaminated water data at F. Daiichi shows a significant reduction in Cesium levels contained in the water remaining in the plant basements. On June 19th the concentration of the two Cesium isotopes was ~440,000 Becquerels per milliliter (cubic centimeter). On October 16th the levels had dropped to 23,000 Bq/ml. This should be compared to the May 22nd levels of ~330,000 Bq/ml which indicates the waters in the building basements maintained a relatively constant contamination concentration until recently. However, the new data suggests this is the first time Tepco has made sizable headway in the decontamination effort. Why Tepco is merely posting the data and not issuing a Press release on this very good news is a mystery.
  • The Nuclear Regulatory Authority says they have problems with the “safety culture” embodied by The Tokyo Electric Company (Tepco). Chief NRA commissioner Shunichi Tanaka said Tepco’s attempt to cover up problems in 2002 makes him wary, "To tell the truth, I think there may be something wrong (with this utility)." He stressed that if Tepco ever wants to restart any of its numerous nukes, they need to clearly demonstrate they have changed, "People on site, with their enthusiasm, knowledge and ability, should serve as a defense that prevents accidents and problems from occurring. But I wonder whether that function is working properly." Tanaka also spoke of the recently-reported spent fuel damage at Tepco’s Kashiwazaki-Kariwa station, unit #5, which amplifies his doubts. 18 tubes in Kariwa’s stored fuel bundles have been “warped” due to movement of the bundles. Tanaka feels this indicates that TEPCO has an ongoing problem, thus he cannot dispel concerns over its safety awareness. (Kyodo News Service; NHK World)
  • Several municipalities in northeastern Japan say they are now willing to consider hosting temporary storage facilities for the wastes building up in numerous treatment facilities. The facilities, which would have concrete walls, will be used to store containers of contaminated soil and other decontamination materials. The Environment Ministry wants at least eight such facilities established. The waste will be stored for three years in short-term repositories while the government constructs bigger facilities for a 30-year period. It seems that Okuma and Nahara municipalities, nearest F. Daiichi, have finally relented to the prefectural government’s pressure to at least allow surveys to be run. However, the municipalities say that this does not mean they will actually allow the facilities to be built. Fukushima governor Yuhei Sato said “accepting the surveys does not mean accepting the construction of the facility." Sato says he decided to accept the surveys on condition that the ministry will provide detailed explanations to his constituents and report work progress in a timely manner. One dissenting voice is Futaba mayor Katsutaka Idogawa who said, "I did not attend the [governor’s] meeting in protest, as the central government is pushing the [storage facility construction] plan forcefully." Tokyo plans to start the siting surveys in January. (NHK World; Japan Today; Japan Times)

November 27

  • The World Health Organization (WHO) reports there will be no statistically-significant rise in cancer due to the Fukushima Accident. It concludes the likelihood of a measurable increase in cancer over the lifetimes of Fukushima residents is low compared to what naturally occurs. WHO says accident exposures were so low that risk estimates have a significantly lower probability than that for naturally-occurring cancers, but it is wise to continue monitoring the exposed population’s health, none-the-less. A worst-case effect would be a 1% increase in thyroid cancer and 1%-3% increase in all other cancers. WHO points out this is not a report intended for closure on the issue. Children in Iitate Village and Namie Town should be monitored closely for the next 15 years for thyroid cancer and leukemia to establish a more-firm understanding of low level radiation exposures on the young. In addition, adults in Namie over age twenty should be monitored for some radiation-related cancers, like mammary gland and colon cancers, for the same 15 years as the children. The WHO based their judgment on the assumption that residents lived in the higher contamination areas for four months following 3/11/11 and ate locally-produced foods. Actually, people were evacuated well before the four month period was over and few ate much of the local foods. Thus, the conclusions are an over-estimation of what actually should be the case. The full report is not yet available to the public, but WHO says it will be published “soon”. (Kyodo News Service, Asahi Shimbun; Mainichi Shimbun)
  • Tepco has told America’s National Academy of Sciences that the company did not take sufficient anti-tsunami protection measures prior to 3/11/11 because of a public relations concern. Akira Kawano, manager of Tepco’s International Relations and Strategy Group, said the company "was concerned that safety measures, if taken, might rather fuel the anxiety of local people," while admitting that pre-existing tsunami protection at Fukushima Daiichi was "not enough to fend off the tsunami that was beyond earlier assumptions." (Kyodo News Service) comment – We should keep in mind Tepco and the Ministry of the Economy felt that upgrading tsunami protection to meet international standards was felt to be too expensive relative to the low probability of a worst-case tsunami. Is Tepco trying to shift the burden of guilt from a financial conflict of interest to fear of public anxiety? I hope not, but the possibility cannot be dismissed.
  • Fukushima governor Yuuhei Sato has been in Tokyo promoting the sale of rice grown in Fukushima Prefecture. He’s trying to convince shoppers that Fukushima-grown rice is safe. This month, rice from his prefecture is back in full production for the first time since 3/11/11. Sato was equipped with a radiation monitor which he used to show people that everything shipped to Tokyo is below the 100 Becquerel per kilogram national standard for Cesium-137. Last year, much of the prefecture’s crop was banned from sale due to failure to meet the limits. Since then, work has been done to remove the cesium-carrying minerals from the rice fields, and the effort has gone very well. (Japan Today)
  • The nuclear issue keeps slipping further and further out of the public focus leading up to the election. A Kyodo News Service telephone poll covering a wide range of election issues, found that 28.7% believe social security, pensions and health care top their concerns. Another 28.6% felt unemployment and general economic issues hold sway. In addition, LDP leader Shinzo Abe was found to be a bit more popular than incumbent Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda by 35% to 32%. The poll reached out to 1,776 eligible voters and 1,230 agreed to respond.
  • Another Poll taken by the Yomiuri Shimbun reveals that the ruling Democratic Party of Japan has slipped behind the newly-formed Japan Restoration/Sunrise party coalition in popularity. Twenty-five percent of the respondents favor the Liberal Democratic Party, which seems poised to become the ruling party in the Diet on December 16. The Restoration Party weighed in at 14%, and the DPJ dropped down to a 10% favorable position. On who should be Prime Minister, 29% said LDP leader Shinzo Abe, 22% want Restoration Party head Shintaro Ishihara, and 19% desire current PM Noda to remain in office. In addition, support for DPJ-generated policies (including nuclear energy) dropped to 8% and approval for PM Noda’s cabinet slipped down to 21%. However, more than half of the people asked to participate in the survey declined, saying they were undecided due to the large number of parties and candidates vying for office.
  • The governor of Shiga Prefecture says she is will form an anti-nuclear coalition party for the upcoming election in December. Yukiko Kada says she wants to head up the new party which would unite all of Japan’s antinuclear political forces. Kada believes the nuclear energy issue should be everyone’s focal point because this is the first national election since the Fukushima accident. Even though her constituency is between 400 and 500 kilometers from Fukushima, she believes the nation-wide impact of the accident is sufficient to make it the primary national issue. She wants the new party to become a “third force” in the upcoming election, implying that they will compete with the Japan Restoration Party and the increasingly unpopular DPJ. At least three minority parties say they are considering support for Kada’s efforts. The problem is that while all agree on nuclear abolition, they remain divided on the Trans-Pacific Partnership (free trade agreement), redistricting for the Diet and economic recovery policy. (NHK World; Japan Times; Kyodo News Service)
  • It seems Greenpeace has conceded that the antinuclear forces in Japan are going to be soundly defeated in next month’s election. They blame it on what they feel is a lack of credible antinuclear politicians in Japan, plus the success of the LDP to shift the public focus away from nukes and onto the state of the economy and national security. "This is the first election since the Fukushima nuclear disaster and if it does not result in an anti-nuclear government, that will be one of the wonders of the world," said Kazue Suzuki, a campaigner for Greenpeace. Greenpeace maintains that an overwhelming majority in Japan wants nukes abolished by 2030, but politicians are out of touch with the people. Greenpeace calls it a “democracy deficit”. Temple professor Jeffrey Kingston said, "It's as if public opinion doesn't matter at all." Kingston also feels the shift in focus is due to the ineptitude of the DPJ, "The LDP is the likely winner and is pro-nuclear, but it will not win because it is pro-nuclear but because the DPJ is so hapless." Andrew DeWit, a professor at Tokyo's Rikkyo University adds, "There are a number of factors that would likely stand in the way of a return to business as usual. But it's not impossible. I think we can't dismiss the capacity of the nuclear village to ram through a 'back to the future' scenario." (Reuters)
  • Japan’s Press Research Institute says public trust in the news media has reached an all-time low. The media outlet with the highest public confidence is NHK, with a 70% positive rating. Newspapers followed at 68%, commercial TV at 60% and other internet sources rated 53% positive. However, each news media category dropped in its rating since last November, with NHK having the worst decline at 4.2 “points”, followed by TV at -3.5, newspapers at -3.1 and internet at -3. The Institute has been running this annual survey since 2008 and follows the standards for scientific credibility. (Japan Times)
  • The Japanese government should do more to address fears over radiation in the area around Fukushima, a U.N. health expert said Monday. The UN’s Anand Grover believes the government should take the lead on dealing with radiation fears and not rely on outside experts to do it. He said, “I personally think experts know only part of the situation. Communities must be involved. I urge the government to ensure that the affected people, particularly the vulnerable groups, are fully involved in all decision-making processes.” Grover added that the perceived “inconsistency” between the nation’s 20 millisievert emergency limit and the 5-mSv dose allowed around Chernobyl before resettlement “created confusion among a significant number of the local population, who increasingly doubt government data and policy.” Grover also called for a wider area to be studied for the effects of radiation exposure, saying their present surveys are “unfortunately narrow”. He feels Tokyo is essentially ignoring recent studies that show exposures below 100mSv might cause cancer. As for the issue of a distinction between internal and external exposure-effects, Glover said, “As for internal radiation exposure… there is a view among scientists legitimately that there is no danger from exposure between zero and 100 millisieverts, but that is controversial. The government has to err on the side of caution and be inclusive.” Japan Today)
  • NHK World has surveyed all 47 prefectures and none of them are willing to have a spent nuclear fuel repository within their borders…at least not yet. Seventeen prefectures said they would never accept it, and thirty others declined to respond. Most prefectures rejecting the possibility said it was because there is no safe method of disposal, especially in a country with frequent earthquakes. Eight of the non-responsive states said Tokyo should make the decision on a disposal site and not leave it up to local officials.

 

November 25

132nd Carnival of Nuclear Energy Bloggers

The Hiroshima Syndrome is once again proud to be hosting the Carnival of Nuclear Energy Bloggers.  For the full reports, please click on the individual links.

 

From Next Big Future (3) –

Russia speeds up nuclear investment to get 50% of power from nuclear by 2050 and 100% by 2100 - http://nextbigfuture.com/2012/11/russia-speeds-up-nuclear-investment-to.html (and)

Laser enrichment for 100,000 tons of Paducah tailshttp://nextbigfuture.com/2012/11/laser-enrichment-for-100000-tons-of.html

China resumes construction of nuclear reactors…new reactor approvals will restart soonhttp://nextbigfuture.com/2012/11/china-resumes-construction-where.html

 

From Yes Vermont Yankee (2) –

Cheryl Twarog Guest Post –  http://yesvy.blogspot.com/2012/11/over-600-families-cheryl-twarog-guest.html (and)

Vital for the Region and My Family, A Teen-Agers View of Vermont Yankee: Guest Post by Evan Twarog –  http://yesvy.blogspot.com/2012/11/vital-for-region-and-my-family-teen.html

 

From Atomic Insights

Emotional evaluation of risks should favor nuclear energyhttp://atomicinsights.com/2012/11/emotional-evaluation-of-risks-should-favor-nuclear-energy.html

 

From The Hiroshima Syndrome

Is Nuclear Energy Losing its Political Thunder in Japan? - http://www.hiroshimasyndrome.com/fukushima-accident-updates.html

 

From Nuke Power Talk

Giving Thanks: Nuke Power Progresshttp://nukepowertalk.blogspot.com/2012/11/giving-thanks.html

 

From Things Worse Than Nuclear

Everyday Explosionshttp://www.thingsworsethannuclearpower.com/2012/11/everyday-explosions.html

 

From ANS Nuclear Cafe (2) -

Vermont Yankee supporters at Public Service Board hearinghttp://ansnuclearcafe.org/2012/11/19/supporters-public-service-board/ (and)

Post-election outlook for nuclear energy - http://ansnuclearcafe.org/2012/11/21/post-election-outlook-for-nuclear/

November 23

  • Tokyo’s gubernatorial race has split into two camps over the nuclear issue. Three parties back Kenji Utsunomiya who has pledged to phase out all nuclear energy. Four other parties support Vice Governor Naoki Inose who says it is premature to make specific policy commitments. The DPJ, which currently controls the Diet, has not backed either candidate, while the LDP has thrown in with Vice Governor Inose. This union of political parties in Japan is uncommon. Toshiaki Eto, a professor at Gakuin University, said, "It is a significant move in which political parties go beyond ideological differences to get together and cooperate on important policies. Energy policy has been an important policy issue for elections since the Great East Japan Earthquake. Conversely, it could become a message from the Tokyo gubernatorial election to the House of Representative election that 'the nuclear issue is important.'" Then again, it might not. (Mainichi Shimbun)
  • On May 14, 2011, the Hamaoka nuclear unit #5 had a major seawater leak while it was shutting down due to Naoto Kan’s worst-case-earthquake-based mandate. The leak was inside the steam condenser on the exhaust of the turbines. During power operation, the operating systems would have sealed off the leak before it ever reached the reactor pressure vessel (RPV). At the stage of shutdown when the leak occurred, the cooling water flow from the condenser into the RPV was high, which is normal for the process of reaching cold shutdown for plant. It is estimated that 5 tons of the freshwater/seawater mixture from the condenser reached the RPV itself before the inflow was stopped. RPVs normally contain water so pure that it barely conducts electricity and the rate of corrosion is vanishingly small. However, the brine content of the water which leaked into the RPV necessarily accelerated corrosion beyond design specifications. While most of the major damage was to the condenser and its attached technologies, the impact on the RPV has taken center stage. The former nuclear watch-dog, NISA, monitored the plant staff’s remediation efforts for the RPV endorsed the work as “appropriate”. Now, one of the former-NISA investigative staff has gone to the Press with a minority opinion, "Exhaustive checks and replacement of key components should be considered," on all unit #5 components…in addition to those already studied and remediated. NRA commissioner Toyoshi Fuketa, who served on the NISA investigative team, said, "Reuse and restart cannot be contemplated without confirming the potential consequences of major disasters involving coolant loss, on a case-by-case basis." (Asahi Shimbun)
  • The local government in Shimane Prefecture has completed emergency plans for the 30km radius around Shimane nuclear station. The plans account for the nearly 400,000 people who live in the emergency planning zone. This includes the capital, Matsue City. Evacuees would be sent to neighboring prefectures that have formally consented to be part of the plans. Shimane’s government began emergency planning actions soon after the Fukushima accident and now has the first EPZ to finish the job mandated by the NRA. (Kyodo News Service)
  • Higher than anticipated radiation levels make the news when discovered by Japanese citizens, even as far away as Taiwan. Oberlin University professor Katsumi Nakao and Tokyo Metropolitan University professor Yo Kato discovered a “hot spot” near a health clinic on Taiwan’s Orchard Island. They say a person would receive a yearly limit on exposure in just 10 hours. They cannot rule out the possibility the reading is connected to with a nearby nuclear storage facility. Lin Chia-lung of Taiwan’s Democratic Progressive Party says the government should immediately provide health check-ups for everyone on the island. However, Taiwan’s Atomic Energy Council says the readings are faulty because the Japanese professors were using monitoring devices subject to microwaves coming from a nearby tower. Nakao and Kato found high levels earlier this year near an elementary school on the island which was also near a microwave tower. (Japan Times)
  • Recent papers published in the United States have allegedly “proved” that natural background radiation (BKG) causes cancer. It seems that similar contentions recur every decade. Back in 1980, Professor Jerry. J. Cohen of prestigious Lawrence Livermore Laboratories published a detailed rebuttal to such claims. He pointed out that if these allegations are correct, then we must conclude that more than half of the cancer incidence in the world is due to BKG, which is absurd. Check it out… http://www.irpa.net/irpa5/cdrom/VOL.2/J2_76.PDF

November 20

  • The December 16th national election could usher in a new, less-antinuclear energy policy. Polls indicate that the liberal Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ) will no longer control the government and instead be replaced by the conservative Liberal Democratic Party (LDP). Shinzo Abe, LDP party leader, calls the DPJ’s zero-nuclear energy goal “irresponsible”. He says the LDP wants to "achieve economic growth in Japan by promoting policies on nuclear power." In the long term, the LDP wants to reduce, but not eliminate the nation’s reliance on nukes while increasing the use of renewables in the energy mix. Two popular new parties are split on the nuclear issue. Osaka mayor Tori Hashimoto’s Japan Restoration Party wants all nukes abolished by 2040, while former Tokyo mayor Shintaro Ishihara’s Sunrise Party supports continuing nuclear operations and construction of new nukes. Regardless of who wins in December, a change in nuclear policy will not happen quickly. One electric company official said, "It is too early to think that halted nuclear reactors will be reactivated soon after a change of administration." Other utility executives are cautiously optimistic. Osaka Gas Co. President Hiroshi Ozaki said, "I hope the current energy policies will be reset and a new plan will be made under a new administration." The DPJ’s no-nukes policy proposal brought sharp criticism from the business sector, resulting in PM Noda’s cabinet refusing to endorse it. "The country's energy policy is in disarray," said Harutoshi Funabashi, a professor at Hosei University, "After all, Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda has been in a deadlock on this issue." (Japan Times; Kyodo News Service)
  • Fear of radiation continues to hinder repopulation of the restricted zones around Fukushima Daiichi. Hirono mayor Motohoshi Yamada reports that although the government has lifted the “no-go” designation for his town, few residents have returned. He sees more decontamination workers and recovery contractors fixing earthquake damage in the streets than citizens. Hirono is about 10 kilometers south of F. Daiichi and received relatively little contamination because the winds blew away from the town most of the weeks that followed 3/11/11. The mayor says the main reason most people are reluctant to return is because they don’t have “certainty” about “the actual situation of the nuclear plant”. Concerning the fear of radiation, Yamada laments, “I kind of understand that it is difficult. Nobody knows that it is really safe.” About 60 of the previous elementary school children in town have returned for classes, but most live 90 minutes away in Iwate. The school now teaches rudimentary lessons on radiation, trying to have the children understand that low levels of radiation should not be scary. Unfortunately, that message doesn’t seem to have gotten home to the parents. Another repopulation problem is that no restaurants have re-opened in town because the owners can’t find enough people willing to work in them due to fear of radiation. Nearby Naraha town has also had the government restrictions lifted. However, very few former residents have exploited the opportunity. One Nahara issue is numerous bags of mildly contaminated waste which line many streets because nobody will take them for disposal. This sends a visual “danger” message to anyone who might try to return. It’s not that people cannot repopulate the two communities: it’s that they choose to stay away because they do not understand radiation and they are afraid of it. (National Journal Magazine)
  • The Nuclear Regulatory Authority (NRA) says Tepco is prepared for a sudden Spent Fuel Pool water loss at Fukushima Daiichi unit #3. The NRA called for Tepco to assess the worst-case scenario after a large metal frame was accidently knocked into the pool by a crane on September 22. Data from the investigation shows that a sudden, complete loss of water from the pool would allow the stored fuel bundles to heat up. Because the heat of radioactive decay is now quite low, it would take at least 24 hours for the Zirconium tubes that contain the Uranium fuel pellets to reach their melting temperature of 1200oC. The scenario also included an assumed complete loss of power (blackout) at the same time, which would make recovery of the water level by normal means unlikely. However, Tepco would use a concrete pumping truck garaged nearby and have it injecting water over the hot bundles within six hours of the sudden water loss. The NRA believes that Tepco has adequately prepared for this rare-but-not-impossible situation. (Kyodo News Service)
  • About 80,000 tons of sewage residues with Cesium contamination above the 8000 Becquerel per kilogram (Bb/kg) national standard has not been disposed of. The current Tokyo government is responsible for finding suitable disposal sites, but they have not had any luck in identifying any locations due to local opposition. 70,000 tons have piled up in Fukushima Prefecture and the remaining 10,000 tons languish in 11 other prefectures. The prefectures farthest from Fukushima are Shizuoka and Yamagata which have 11 tons of the material between them. (NHK World)
  • At least one Tokyo restaurant is not afraid to use Fukushima foodstuffs, and their business is hopping. All of 47-Dining’s dishes are made with Fukushima-grown produce…in fact, 80% of the total fare comes from the Fukushima area. Owner Kenji Suzuki’s business plan when he opened in June, 2011, seemed to defy logic. He wanted to use ingredients mostly from in and around his home town of Iwake, Fukushima. ''We were supposed to open in April that year but then the tsunami and nuclear accident changed everything,'' Mr Suzuki says, ''The day after the disaster, I thought this place was never going to open.” After he saw the tsunami’s devastation to the Tohoku coast, he decided to give Fukushima farmers whatever help he could. For weeks following opening, business looked bleak. After radiation levels dropped to below the new food-standard levels, he began a policy of reassuring his patrons that everything was safe. That brought people into his establishment “in droves”. ''I eat here regularly because the food is fantastic,'' Mika Matsumoto says. ''I'm not worried about radiation because we know that everything has been tested, and tested again.” (theage.com.au)
  • A trout caught in Fukushima’s Niida River has a radioactive Cesium content of 11,400 Becquerels per kilogram. This is more than 11 times the international limit for sales and consumption, and 100 times Japan’s overly-restrictive limit. In addition, a smallmouth bass and catfish caught at Mano dam in Fukushima have 4,400 and 3,000 Bq/kg, respectively. These findings conform very well with those found between December and February. "Like the previous survey, concentrations (of cesium) tended to be higher in rivers and lakes than in the sea. We want to grasp the extent of pollution by continuously conducting the survey," a ministry official said. (Japan Times) It should be added that the Ministry of the Environment has monitored these waters for Cesium content and found no detectable Cesium. However, the bottom sediments show a wide range of Cesium levels that vary between 47 and 11,000 Bq/kg. Thus, the fish contamination must be coming through the food chain which includes bottom vegetation and bottom-feeding fish. (MEXT report, March 30, 2012)

November 18

131st Carnival of Nuclear Bloggers

The Hiroshima Syndrome is once again proud to be hosting the Carnival of Nuclear Energy Bloggers. This week’s topics include (but are not limited to) – phobias should not be used to determine energy policy, a nuclear energy graduate school in Korea, the Japanese news media’s promotion of distrust, China’s developing of submarines carrying nuclear-tipped missiles, an appeal to rationally weigh the risks of using natural gas, and the possibilities of Small Modular Reactor technology. For the full reports, please click on the individual links.

From Yes Vermont Yankee (2)

Phobias Should Not Determine Policy –  http://yesvy.blogspot.com/2012/11/phobias-should-not-determine-policy.html (and)

More Nuclear Supporters than Opponents at Public Service Board Hearinghttp://yesvy.blogspot.com/2012/11/more-nuclear-supporters-than-opponents.html

From Nuke Power Talk

Fit for KINGShttp://www.nukepowertalk.blogspot.com/2012/11/nuclear-power-education-and-training.html

From The Hiroshima Syndrome

Japanese Press Promotes Wide-spread Distrust (November 16)-  http://www.hiroshimasyndrome.com/fukushima-accident-updates.html

From Deregulate the Atom

Social Risk Assessment and Data Mining vs. Good PR planninghttp://deregulatetheatom.com/2012/11/social-risk-assessment-and-data-mining-vs-good-pr-planning/

From Canadian Energy Issues

Nuclear power in Vermont and Ontario: The locals fight back, intelligently - http://canadianenergyissues.com/2012/11/16/nuclear-power-in-vermont-and-ontario-the-locals-fight-back-intelligently/

From Next Big Future (2) –

Indian Kudankulam Nuclear Power Plant Project to start production by first week in December -  http://nextbigfuture.com/2012/11/indian-kudankulam-nuclear-power-project.html (and)

China will field nuclear missiles on submarines in two years and this relates to the South China Sea dispute with Japan - http://nextbigfuture.com/2012/11/china-will-field-nuclear-missiles-on.html

From Atomic Insights

Time for rational risk evaluation of energy sources – natural gas versus nuclearhttp://atomicinsights.com/2012/11/time-for-rational-risk-evaluation-of-energy-sources-natural-gas-versus-nuclear.html

From ANS Nuclear Café

SMR designs once again a focus at ANS Winter Meeting 2012 - http://ansnuclearcafe.org/2012/11/14/smr-designs-once-again-a-focus-at-ans-winter-meeting-2012/

From Just Another Blog -

Risk in Perspectivehttp://blog.newsok.com/science-and-technology/2012/11/04/risk-in-perspective/

November 16

(For today's commentary - Japanese Press Promotes Wide-spread Distrust - please click on the "Fukushima Commentry" listing in the left-hand column.)

It seems that legal action concerning the Fukushima accident has become increasingly popular in Japan. In addition to our report on a civil complaint on Wednesday, we now have two more…

  • A nation-wide group of 13,000 citizens have submitted a criminal complaint against Tepco and the now-defunct Nuclear Safety Commission. This is the second such action filed by the group. However, their first legal complaint in June was submitted on behalf of 1,300 individuals from the Tohoku region around Fukushima Daiichi. The full order of magnitude increase in plaintiffs on the new filing covers nearly all of Japan. The complaint asks that 33 Tepco officials and the entire NSC be investigated and indicted on suspicion of professional negligence resulting in deaths and injuries. Among the accused was Tsunehisa Katsumata, Tepco Chairman at the onset of the accident. The Plaintiffs main focus is on their exposure to radiation, regardless of whether or not the levels are/were actually harmful. They also point to people who have died, for whatever reason, saying that if the accident hadn’t happened they would still be alive. According to the Penal Code, those who fail to exercise due care and thereby cause the death or injury of another, face a maximum of either five years in prison or a fine of 1 million yen (~$12,000). (Kyodo News Service; Japan Today)
  • Forty-one people evacuated from within 30 kilometers of F. Daiichi are jointly suing Tepco for about $25 million. According to their lawyers, they demand financial compensation for having their "homeland stolen and integrity as a human being destroyed." The amount being sought is based on a legal precedent involving the quarantine of Leprosy patients. Of the more than one million dollars per plaintiff, about $6 thousand is intended for emotional damage and $200 thousand for real estate damage. All 41 say they have lost all hope of ever returning home again, regardless of what the government and Tepco tell them is safe. The plaintiffs are all receiving state-mandated compensation from Tepco, but the lawyers say the amounts are small when compared to the catastrophic effect the Fukushima accident has inflicted on them. Naoko Kanai, 48, leader for the plaintiff group, says, "Going to court was the only option to stop more people from suffering." (Mainichi Shimbun)

Now for some non-litigious updates…

  • The lead story across Japan is Prime Minister Noda’s dissolution of the Diet’s Lower House (House of Representatives). Disbanding the Lower House is necessary to pave the way for a national general election, scheduled for December 16. All political parties can now prepare for 12 days of hard-core campaigning prior to the election itself. Japan’s controlling political party, the DPJ, had no other choice but to submit to a “snap election”. Polls across the country show a less than 20% favorable rating for the DPJ. This rivals the level of displeasure experienced by the Naoto Kan regime before he stepped down. While the DPJ recovered some popularity when Yoshihiko Noda became PM, public disfavor with earthquake/tsunami recovery, the plummeting state of the economy, the aftermath of the Fukushima accident, and escalating taxes have combined to make Japan’s ruling party no longer acceptable to the public…all of which is amplified by a general distrust of the government itself. It is believed the tax and nuclear energy issues will dominate the upcoming campaign. Noda remarked, “This is an election to decide on the nation’s direction – to go forward or to go backward.” Most of the Lower House shouted “banzai” three times in unison before erupting in applause. Commentators say no one party will have a House majority after the election due to the anticipated coalition of the Liberal-Democratic Party (LDP) and smaller fringe parties, which are expected to replace the unpopular DPJ itself.
  • Tepco is putting together plans to build a sealed outer structure around F. Daiichi unit #3. The structure will serve the same purpose as the one currently encompassing unit #1. The planned result will be two-fold. First, it will shield the demolished outer building from the impacts of storms, high summer temperatures, and the cold of winter. This will likely facilitate the work being done on unit #3. Second, the enclosure will block the low level radioactive airborne materials that continue to waft into the atmosphere from the damaged outer structure. The only part of the planned enclosure that will remain open is at ground level in order to allow equipment and materials to move in and out. (Asahi Shimbun)
  • Tepco’s deputy site manager for the Kashiwazaki-Kariwa nuclear station, Shiro Arai, says “It is too premature to talk about when [our] reactor restarts will happen.” A fifteen-meter –high tsunami protection wall needs to be completed, which won’t be done until next spring. The Kariwa station is the largest single nuclear power site in the world, with a total rating of 8,212 MWe (Megawatts-electrical) output when all seven units are operating. The wall protecting the three newest units (#5-7) is completed, but the one that will surround the four older units remains unfinished. Tall steel reinforcement bars can be seen surrounding the four older power plants, all of which will be encased in concrete. The completed wall will be about one kilometer long. Asai also pointed out the buildings on high ground which house mobile high-voltage generators, water-pumping trucks and portable heat exchangers that could be invaluable if the Kariwa complex ever experiences a full-station blackout. In addition a new 20,000 ton reservoir for emergency cooling water is being filled, airborne contamination filters are being installed on the site’s Emergency Support Center, and the reactor building basements are being water-proofed – all of which have been mandated by Tokyo to prevent a Fukushima-like accident from happening again. However, local geologist Masaaki Tateishi says Tepco isn’t doing enough. He wants Tepco to re-assess earthquake risks before restarting any of Kariwa’s seven nukes, “TEPCO has mostly finished implementing the safety steps required after the Fukushima disaster apart from finishing the tsunami walls, but I doubt whether these upgrades are enough to avoid a repetition.” (Japan Today)

November 14

  • The planned antinuke rally last Sunday in Tokyo fell far short of its desired attendance. The rally was called “Nov. 11 occupations by 1 million people against nuclear power plants” and was widely advertised across the Japanese internet. The rally took place, but the Tokyo metropolitan police estimated that 7,000 showed up. Some members of the Diet (congress) joined into the protest, including former People’s Party leader Shizuka Kamei and DPJ member Masako Okawara. Kenji Utsunomiya, who is running for Tokyo governor, also attended. It was the largest turnout for the weekly protest in many months. (Yomiuri Shimbun; Japan Times)
  • 181 residents living near the Hamaoka nuclear station have filed a lawsuit demanding the nuke’s decommissioning. However, the plaintiffs are planning to sue the Tokyo government as well. This will mark the first antinuclear legal action directed at Tokyo since the Fukushima accident. The Shizuoka residents have decided to begin their legal proceedings against the government in January. Tadakazu Shiozawa, a member of the plaintiff’s council, said "The Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant disaster has highlighted the risk of the Hamaoka nuclear plant, whose operation has been substantially supported by the national government." Shiozawa says the facility poses sufficient risk which imposes on the plaintiff’s legal right to the pursuit of happiness under the Constitution and Civil Code. (Mainichi Shimbun)
  • Vandalism with radiation monitors is Fukushima prefecture is becoming an issue. So far, five monitors have suffered damage that can only come from vandals. The radiation detectors inside the monitors have not been damaged or impaired, so they continue to provide on-going data. One monitor in Koriyama Park had damage to the external plastic housing. Another location outside the community hall in Motomiya had damage to its solar panel, apparently due to thrown rocks. Since 3/11/11, the government has set up more than 3,000 monitoring posts in Fukushima prefecture. Can anything be done to prevent future vandalism? "The monitoring posts have been set up at parks and other locations frequented by many people," a Science Ministry official said, "And some local residents don't want security cameras installed for the facilities. We can't find any concrete countermeasures." (Yomiuri Shimbun)
  • Forty-two countries continue to regulate food imports from Japan. The reason is the possibility of radioactive contamination being in the foodstuffs and fears of radiation among each nation’s consumers. An Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Ministry survey identified the scope of the problem. The Ministry also says that nine countries have lifted all restrictions, including Canada and Mexico. (Kyodo News Service)
  • Researchers at the University of Wisconsin were surprised to find that low level radiation (LLR) exposure might not be hazardous, and conversely may stimulate health benefits! It was also found that some anti-oxidant vitamins, such as C and E, tend to reduce the positive health benefits stimulated by LLR. A certain breed of laboratory mouse has the “agouti gene” that causes obesity, diabetes and increased cancer rates. But, LLR exposure apparently shuts down the gene’s operation. In addition, pregnant mice exposed to LLR had larger litters and healthier off-spring. Team leader Randy Jirtle was skeptical of the results at first, “Nobody wants to think that low dose radiation could be advantageous and the stuff you put in your vitamin pill would be bad.” The team points out that laboratory mice are bred to have the maximum genetic similarity to humans as is possible. “What goes on at high doses is not very predictive of what happens at low doses,” says Edward Calabrese, a toxicologist at the University of Massachusetts-Amherst. He adds that before antibiotics were discovered, people were successfully treated with LLR for arthritis and ear-nose-and-throat infections. He adds that LLR may also modulate the immune system and make it better-prepared to ward off disease. (Science News; FASEB Journal)
  • Respected American nuclear energy writer Rod Adams says it is time for a rational risk evaluation of energy-generating sources. He asks why numerous fires and explosions around the world caused by natural gas have not spawned the kind of public uproar we find with nuclear accidents. He says it is an “irrational contrast” since Fukushima has killed no-one and caused no physical damage to the surrounding communities, while gas fires and explosions since 3/11/11 have killed people and destroyed many nearby homes and businesses. For the full op-ed piece, go to… http://atomicinsights.com/2012/11/time-for-rational-risk-evaluation-of-energy-sources-natural-gas-versus-nuclear.html#more-13127

November 12

  • Tokyo will review the money being spent on the Tohoku region’s reconstruction. This is due to this fall’s discovery that 25% of the government’s Tohoku earthquake/tsunami funds were diverted to other projects not directly a part of the region’s recovery. Many of the non-Tohoku pay-outs were spent on the pretext they might contribute to Japan’s economic revival; a strategy the government now says was a mistake. Japanese law allows such fund diversions, but the slowness of the Tohoku region’s recovery indicates the law might be amended. The questionable diversions include; prison vocational training across Japan, subsidies for a contact lens factory in central Japan, renovations of government offices in Tokyo, aircraft and fighter pilot training, research on rare earths, a semiconductor research project, and funding to support whaling research. ~30 million yen was also diverted to promote “Tokyo Skytree”, the tallest transmission tower in the world. Nearly a third of a million people had to evacuate their Tohoku homes due to the quake/tsunami cataclysm, 96% of which have yet to return because they have nothing to return to. Included in these numbers are the 80,000 forced by the government to evacuate due to the Fukushima Accident, 65,000 of which remain in displaced. Virtually nothing has been done along the Fukushima Prefecture coastline for tsunami recovery due to radiation fears. A quarter of a million Tohoku residents,forced to evacuate due to the quake and tsunami alone, also remain expatriated from their homes. To date, 11.7 trillion yen has been appropriated for Tohoku reconstruction, about 3 trillion of which has been diverted. It should be mentioned that about 40% of the remaining funds have not been used largely because of radiation fears voiced by Tohoku residents who were not evacuated and remain in their homes. (Japan Today)
  • The Nuclear Regulatory Authority has essentially withdrawn its recent nuclear emergency contamination projections because of numerous flaws in the prognostic system. NRA spokesman Hideka Morimoto said "We would like to be sure that there will be no more errors, so the simulations are being thoroughly checked again."The projections are literally riddled with mistakes, far more than those already reported in the Press. The NRA planned on disclosure of new, correct projections last Thursday, but was asked to stop by the Japan Nuclear Energy Safety Organization.JNES was the body that drafted the initial report October 24. They are now saying there is further data-input available which is critical to projection correctness. There is no time-table for when the more-correct version will be completed. (Japan Times)
  • The NRA’s study group for the Oi geologic fissure continues to makes headlines; more correctly, one persistent voice on the team. Professor Mitsuhisa Watanabe refuses to accept the consensus decision to delay judgment on the seismic potential for the seam in the bedrock. He continues to say “It is an active fault. The plates shifted some 120,000 to 130,000 years ago for sure.” Meanwhile, others on the panel stress that it is too early to reach any firm conclusion because the evidence equally points to the possibility that the seam is not seismic. Group leader Kunihiko Shimazaki continues to hold that the geological scar may have been caused by an ancient landslide. Watanabe admits his opinion on the anomaly is not conclusive, but he feels the Oi nuke’s continued operation makes no sense to him. In fact, when asked if the Oi reactors should stay on line, he answered “It would be a very silly option.” He believes that if the fissure is actually seismic and if there is a severe earthquake, it could “cause a very serious problem…similar to the Fukushima one.” Finally, Watanabe points out “We are not seeking to decommission the plant. We should first stop [Oi] operation and then carry out underground investigation thoroughly before reaching a conclusion.” He feels we should proceed with and “abundance of caution…We have to sound the alarm as soon as we find the possibility of active faults.”  (Japan Today)
  • The Fukushima accident aftermath has evoked visions of the Chernobyl accident, more than 25 years ago. Fears proliferate that the most contaminated areas near F. Daiichi will remain uninhabitable, just like those near Chernobyl; but, it turns out there are people living healthy lives in the Chernobyl “no-man’s-land”, despite the radioactive contamination. Rather than summarize a lengthy report in the UK Telegraph, read The women living in Chernobyl’s toxic wasteland for yourself… http://www.telegraph.co.uk/earth/environment/9646437/The-women-living-in-Chernobyls-toxic-wasteland.html
  • Lastly, a non-nuclear chemical engineer in America feels energy decisions should not be based on “phobias”. Scientist Peter Roth made a presentation at a public hearing on whether or not to extend the operating license of the Vermont Yankee nuke. His opinion is explained in a guest post on the Yes Vermont Yankee blog site…  http://yesvy.blogspot.com/2012/11/phobias-should-not-determine-policy.html#.UKDbCuOe_Po

November 10

This week, Rod Adams’ Atomic Insights hosts Carnival of Nuclear Energy Bloggers #130 – “Best of the pronuclear blogs for week of Nov 10, 2012”. This week’s topics include; how biased selection of evidence can give the wrong impression on risks, a two-part chronicle on hurricane Sandy’s non-impact on nuclear plants, more pro-nukes than anti-nukes at a public hearing, the potential market for gas-cooled reactor systems, how some scientific groups do not adhere to the scientific method when it comes to nuclear energy and radiation exposure, and the relative risk of Cs-137 stored in Fukushima’s spent fuel pools. http://atomicinsights.com/

November 9

Commentary -How Hazardous is Cs-137? – Part II please click on "Fukushima Commentary" found in the left-hand column of this page.) 

  • Senior vice industry minister Isao Matsumiya is “begging” for the restarts of idled nukes in Japan. "I am begging the Nuclear Regulation Authority to enable the restart of the suspended reactors nationwide as soon as possible," Matsumiya said in a meeting with Hokkaido prefectural officials who are planning for their winter electricity supplies. Hokkaido is Japan’s northern-most major island with the country’s longest, coldest, snowiest winters. Hokkaido officials fear this winter could stress their existing electrical infrastructure. In addition, available supplies from Japan’s main island to the south (Honshu) will be limited due to the nuke moratorium. Matsumiya’s remark seems to contrast with his boss, METI minister Yukio Edano, says he is not making “any predictions” about local issues. (Kyodo news Service)
  • The drama surrounding the Nuclear Regulatory Authority’s (NRA) earthquake issue continues. Investigative team-leader Kunihiko Shimazaki’s decision to gather more evidence in order to break the panel’s deadlock on the issue has done two things. First, Kansai Electric Company will excavate as much as an extra 300 meters in order to find the exact extent of the stratum above the bedrock’s fissure. It will also provide the “three dimensional” picture of the rock layer suggested by one of the panel members on Wednesday. However, this in no way satisfies the most outspoken member of the panel, Mitsuhisa Watnabe, who feels his colleagues are merely delaying the inevitable. He says the rock stratum in question can clearly be considered an indicator of the fissure being an active earthquake fault. It was Watanabe who first suggested the geologic anomaly was earthquake-prone back in June. But, the rate at which the panel is deliberating has him frustrated, "I thought this panel's mission is to decide, with a sense of speed, whether there is no danger in terms of active faults, given that the Oi plant is actually operating." He openly demands the technical discussions end immediately and the two operating Oi units be shut down. On the other hand, team member Daisuke Hirouchi says it makes more sense to conduct further studies rather than make a hasty decision. The next team meeting will be held once the new excavations are complete and additional data becomes available. (Mainichi Shimbun; Japan Times)
  • Japan’s science ministry says that most of the radiation monitors in and around Fukushima prefecture have been reading about 10% lower than they should. The ministry has 675 monitors in 7 prefectures, including 545 in Fukushima. Public reports that a few of the monitors were “missing” hot spots spurred the ministry’s investigation. They found that the detection probe inside the monitors was partially shielded by a metal battery housing which stopped 10% of the radiation before it reached the detector. The ministry says it will cost nearly $2 million to modify the monitors so that none of the radiation field will be blocked. (NHK World)
  • The build-up of undisposed, detectably radioactive ash and sludge in Japan is becoming a problem. Waste treatment facilities in Fukushima and four nearby prefectures have been forced to store about 130,000 tons of the stuff, rather than bury it, because of radiation fears. Fukushima Prefecture has ~70,000 tons and Niigata some 56,000 tons. All of the material is below the government’s 8,000 Becquerel per kilogram limit for routine burial. Tokyo is responsible for handling the material if it is above 8,000 Bq/kg, but each prefecture is responsible for disposal of material below the national standard. Officials in the affected prefectures say the reason for the hold-up on burial is resident’s safety concerns about burying it with regular waste. (NHK World)

 

  

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