December 26, 2013

  • It seems that the fuel transfer operation at F. Daiichi #4 continues smoothly. A Web-friend from Japan’s Press, Joel Legendre-Koizumi, writes, “At Fukushima Daiichi, Tepco proceeded with 6 transport operations of 132 assemblies out of a total of 1533 as of December 26, 2013. [This is] according to a message I received from Tepco Thursday afternoon. Operations to monitor the strength of the reactor unit 4 infrastructure have been undertaken and concluded the unit 4 is confirmed as resistant and secured enough to carry on nuclear rods assemblies transport to the ‘common pool’." There has been nothing in the Tepco web pages since December 16.

  • This week, Tokyo gave Tepco $1.4 billion for their next compensation pay-outs. The total amount to date has been $32.2 billion, mostly for the 85,000 mandated evacuees who qualify for the monthly subsidies. The money has come from the government’s Nuclear Damage Liability Facilitation Fund (herein, the Fund). So far, each evacuated man, woman and child have received about $141,000 in evacuation compensation, totaling $12.6 billion. Therefore, a typical family of four has received ~$640,000 in evacuation compensation. In addition, corporate and property compensations have totaled $15 billion, thus a family may well have garnered $1 million by the New Year. The total pay-out to qualifying voluntary evacuees has been $3.53 billion. The Fund will surely cover more than $50 billion in payouts before all is said and done, and could well approach $90 billion. http://www.tepco.co.jp/en/press/corp-com/release/2013/1233172_5130.html -- http://www.tepco.co.jp/en/comp/images/jisseki-e.pdf (comment - meanwhile, the remaining tsunami refugees who haven’t given up and moved elsewhere, now estimated to be about 225,000, have received a little over a combined total of $20 billion and there’s little hope of getting any more.)

  • The Fund has approved Tepco’s plan for business reconstruction and has adopted the new guidelines for evacuee compensation which have been rumored for a few weeks. The plan is expected to be finalized today and forwarded to the Industry Minister on Friday. Final Ministry approval is expected in early January. The blueprint includes the expected restart of two Tepco nukes by this coming summer (Kashiwazaki-Kariwa 6&7) and Tepco’s becoming a holding company as early as 2016. The Fund now estimates that the total amount of money they will eventually transfer to Tepco will be about $90 billion. http://jen.jiji.com/jc/eng?g=eco&k=2013122500840

  • N-evacuees will get more money.  Tokyo’s damage compensation panel has decided to make Tepco give money help to those who have no plans to return home. It is intended to help them resettle elsewhere. The guidelines call for $70,000 per person to compensate for the emotional damage caused by their decision to not return home. The added pay-outs strongly suggest that Tokyo has given up on persuading many of the evacuees to repopulate. Panel Chair Yoshihisa Nomi said, “The new guidelines focus on putting the lives of evacuees back on track.”  http://the-japan-news.com/news/article/0000899302 -- http://jen.jiji.com/jc/eng?g=eco&k=2013122600572

  • Some evacuees have gone home for the holidays, but most are staying away. Tokyo decided to ease restrictions on people eligible for temporary visits so they could spend their holidays at home. However, less than 10% have exploited the opportunity. Radiation levels at the specified locations registered lower than what had been estimated after decontamination, and anyone staying until January 7 would not exceed the national limit’s. The lower levels have not reached the point where continuous residence would be allowed. Of the 27.150 who were offered the holiday opportunity, only about 1,700 registered to do it. The Reconstruction Agency says the reasons for the poor turn-out are fear of radiation and unrepaired damage to their homes.  http://www.japantoday.com/category/national/view/fukushima-evacuees-to-go-home-for-holiday-season?utm_campaign=jt_newsletter&utm_medium=email&utm_source=jt_newsletter_2013-12-26_AM

  • F. Daiichi evacuation zone radiation levels have dropped by 47% since November, 2011. Further, trial decontaminations in the most intensely radioactive rural locations indicate that full deconning will drop radiation current levels by more than 50%. The Environment Ministry has quietly run trial decontaminations at locations having greater than 50 millisieverts per year exposures, which is considered unsuitable for repopulation. However, after decontamination in three of the districts of Namie Town, radiation levels were less than half of what they were before. In fact, most of the deconned areas have dropped below the ~ 5.7 µSv/hr criterion (equal to 50 mSv/yr), and are now showing a range of between 3.5-6.6 µSv/hr. Thus, some of the trial locations now satisfy the criteria for easing their evacuation restrictions. If people are allowed to return, however, decontamination of the community will continue until reaching 1 mSv/yr above background. The Ministry says that before they decide to lift restrictions, they will negotiate with former residents. http://ajw.asahi.com/article/0311disaster/fukushima/AJ201312250062 -- http://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/english/news/20131225_05.html

  • Rice planting inside the F. Daiichi evacuation zone will be expanded. Since 3/11/11, rice planting has been banned by Tokyo inside the no-go zone, leaving some 5,300 hectares untended. In 2013, some Nagadoro District farmers grew rice on an experimental basis and harvested 3 kilograms for testing by the government. (Fukushima Updates – December 9, 2013) All samples were well below the national standard of 100 Bq/kg…in fact none registered above 10 Bq/kg. As a result, Tokyo will allow planting of up to 3,900 hectares of paddies in 2014. If farmers want their product sent to market, their crop from each paddy must pass government screening. http://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/english/news/20131224_28.html

  • The Environment Ministry has convened a panel on transporting Fukushima’s rural radioactive waste. Currently, the bagged materials are stored temporarily at ~460 locations in the prefecture. Before any transfer of the material can begin, intermediate facilities must be built adjacent to F. Daiichi and transportation regulations must be created to accommodate resident’s fear of radiation exposure as the trucks pass by. The panel will decide how to move the waste, minimize public from exposure, and avoid heavy traffic. Two other discussions concerned increased informational transparency and training for workers moving the trash. http://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/english/news/20131224_24.html

  • A Tokyo panel of experts is assessing the Tritium disposal issue. Nine panel members met at the Industry Ministry on Wednesday and feel they could reach a conclusion by March. Because Tritium is hydrogen, it is a part of the water molecule and difficult to remove. Because it is a very weak Beta radiation emitter, it is questionable as to whether or not it poses a realistic hazard. Thus, the panel will assess the risks of long-term storage and the technical difficulties posed by Tritium removal, and compare it all with releasing the tritiated water to the ocean after dilution to below national standards. The IAEA suggested Tokyo allow the diluted release to the sea earlier this month. However, before doing such a thing the government would have to alleviate the fears of local residents and gain the support of the Fukushima fisheries. http://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/english/news/20131226_03.html

  • The elevated child thyroid cancer rate in Fukushima is probably not due to the accident. While a few alarmist voices have received the lead in the Japanese Press, most experts say it is too soon to judge that Fukushima radiation is the culprit. The alarmist opinion of Okayama University professor Toshide Tsuda was presented in the last Updates, as well as criticism of Tsuda’s claim by professors Tetsuya Ohira and Shunichi Suzuki. Yesterday, Fukushima Prefecture officials said it is unlikely that the cancers are due to the nuke accident, basing their conclusion on the fact that Chernobyl thyroid anomalies did not happen until 4-6 years after the accident. Plus, the exposures from Fukushima were many times less than what occurred in the Ukraine. Dr. Choi Kin of Hong Kong Medical Association added that no one can prove the increase in cancer incidence was from Fukushima. He feels that other natural causess are at the root of the situation. http://japandailypress.com/cancer-cases-rise-in-fukushima-but-experts-unsure-on-the-cause-2341371/

  • The Nuclear Regulation Authority may have become isolated rather than independent. That’s what the ruling Liberal Democratic Party of Japan says. The LDP has submitted a list of proposals regarding NRA policies to Cabinet Secretary Yoshide Suga in the hope of preventing the isolation situation from becoming permanent. The document criticizes the NRA for its isolation tendencies rather than its intended role as an independent agency. Independence was intended to mean making decisions after consulting a wide range of experts, and avoiding unilateral decision-making. NRA Chair Shunichi Tanaka said they will meet with more people in the future. Included in the LDP-recommended future mix of experts will be utility managers experienced in power plant operations. http://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/english/news/nuclear.html

  • Tepco has released its English version of their new evaluation for the “situation of cores and containment vessels” at F. Daiichi, units #1 through #3. It is more than 300 pages. For those who want to read it, here’s the link - http://www.tepco.co.jp/en/press/corp-com/release/betu13_e/images/131213e0101.pdf 

December 23, 2013

  • The rumored creation of an F. Daiichi decommissioning company is now a fact. Tepco announced that “a new entity is being established to focus solely on the cleanup activity at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station.” Naohiro Masuda, former chief executive at undamaged F. Daiini in 2011, will head up the as-yet un-named company under the Tepco corporate umbrella. The move is welcomed by Tepco foreign advisors. American Dale Klein said, "This new structure will aid in the decommissioning process by focusing expertise and accountability.” American Lake Barrett added, "This is an important step that will enhance safe cleanup progress at the site." Britain’s Lady Barbara Judge praised the choice of Masuda to run the operation, "Mr. Masuda has demonstrated his ability both in his leadership at Fukushima Daini and in his work with the NSOO (Nuclear Safety Oversight Office). His promotion provides clear evidence that TEPCO has made nuclear safety a priority, and that service with the NSOO can be an important step on a nuclear engineer’s career path to the highest levels.” http://www.tepco.co.jp/en/press/corp-com/release/2013/1233100_5130.html  Tepco also posted an outline of the new decommissioning company, which can be found here - http://www.tepco.co.jp/en/press/corp-com/release/2013/1233102_5130.html

  • Dale Klein also praised making F. Daiichi units 5&6 into testing and training facilities. Neither unit was damaged by the 3/11/11 quake/tsunami and could be restarted to generate electricity. However, Tepco decided to decommission both units due to public and political pressures. They will be used to test decommissioning methods and technologies designed for the four damaged units at the station, as well as provide hands-on training for staff. Klein calls this a “wise decision” that demonstrates a commitment to developing a “safety culture” within Tepco. He added, “I believe the use of Units 5 and 6 as essentially a full-size mock up facility is the right thing to do.” http://www.tepco.co.jp/en/press/corp-com/release/2013/1233084_5130.html

  • Japan is adding still more nuclear compensation pay-outs. The amount will be $9,000 per person for those who return home between one and two years after evacuation restrictions are lifted. The add-on payments are designed to relieve problems due to limited infrastructure, such as markets and shops. A process of confirmation will begin in the spring to see who has actually returned home. Tokyo feels this money will be an incentive to those skittish about repopulating due to radiation fears. http://jen.jiji.com/jc/eng?g=eco&k=2013122000671

  • Tokyo has set a new timetable for Fukushima’s rural decontamination. The Environment Ministry had hoped to have all deconning done by March, 2014, but that is no longer feasible. Six of the eleven evacuated communities have fallen far behind in their work and will probably not be ready for repopulation by the 2014 date, and some might take until 2017. Plus, it is unlikely that one community, Futaba, will be cleaned up for full repopulation in the near-future. One community, Tamura, has been reopened and three more are expected to have restrictions lifted by March. Officials say the main reason for the delays is lack of temporary waste storage sites. The existing sites are effectively filled. http://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/english/news/20131222_04.html

  • F. Daiichi staff has found small concentrations of radioactive material in deep groundwater samples. The well is 25 meters deep and is located between F. Daiichi unit #4 and the inner harbor (quay). The water sample taken last Tuesday shows 6.7 Becquerels per liter of Cs-137, and 89 Bq/liter of “all beta” emitters. Since the sample was taken the same day as a cross-contaminated sample from another well, the company is investigating whether or not the same thing happened with this one. If the reading is correct, it indicates that a previously unknown leak may be emanating from the bottom of unit #4 turbine building. http://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/english/news/20131221_02.html

  • A few researchers say it is possible that that the unusual number of child thyroid cancers in Fukushima Prefecture may be due to nuke accident exposure. However, most experts say it cannot be due to F. Daiichi radiation. One person, Okayama University professor Toshihide Tsuda, says the frequency of child thyroid problems is “several tens of times” higher than before the accident. He said national statistics between 1975 and 2008 showed a variance of between 5 to 11 cases per million people. He feels 59 cases out of ~240,000 tested Fukushima children is so much higher that the possibility of Fukushima radiation as a cause cannot be dismissed. On the other hand, most experts say Tsuda’s conclusion is non-scientific because it is based national statistics from all age groups and cannot be compared to only the 18-and-under cohort. Tetsuya Ohira of Fukushima Medical School says it is not scientifically appropriate to compare the Fukushima child numbers with the national cancer registry. Another Fukushima Medical University professor, Shunichi Suzuki, says there is no actual link between the low radiation exposures and the confirmed/suspected child thyroid cancer cases in Fukushima. The expert opinions were presented at a December 21st meeting held by the Environment Ministry and the Fukushima government. http://ajw.asahi.com/article/0311disaster/fukushima/AJ201312220021

  • The Mainichi Shimbun has polled volcanologists about risks to nukes. The paper sent questionnaires to 134 university professors, with 50 responding. Nine said no Japanese nukes were at risk, 12 left the question blank, and 29 indicated various levels of risk from worst-case pyroclastic flows and ash fall-outs. The most-often mentioned at-risk plant is the Sendai station in Kagoshima Prefecture, on the southern tip of Kyushu Island. This is due to massive Sakurajima Volcano located in Kagoshima Bay. In mid-August, 2013, a significant eruption occurred with Sakurajima, sending a plume more than 5,000 meters into the air. There was considerable local ash fallout, but nothing significant occurred with the shuttered Sendai station, nearly 50 kilometers south of the volcano. Other stations listed as at-risk are Tamori in Hokkaido Prefecture, Higashidori in Aomori Prefecture, Genkai in Saga prefecture, Ikata in Ehime Prefecture, and Onagawa in Miyagi Prefecture. All lie within 160 kilometers of active volcanoes, which seems to be an academic criterion for establishing risk. Shintaro Hayashi, a professor at Akita University, commented, "If a pyroclastic flow were to reach a nuclear power plant, the safety of its operators could not be guaranteed." He added that the Sendai station carried “unacceptable risk”. However, most negative responders said the probability of a volcano causing a nuclear accident was “extremely low.” http://mainichi.jp/english/english/newsselect/news/20131223p2a00m0na013000c.html

  • A rather large demonstration against nukes happened in Tokyo. It should be noted that antinuke demonstrations occur every week in the capitol, but this had one of the largest turn-outs in the last year. The reason for the gathering was recent news reports that some nukes would be restarted in 2014, perhaps as soon as March. Banners said “Don’t restart nukes” and “Don’t create nuclear waste”. A woman from Saitama Prefecture said nukes should remain closed until all troubles from the Fukushima accident are resolved. A man from Tokyo said the country should abolish nukes and replace them with renewables to protect future generations. The metropolitan police said about 2,000 attended the rally, while antinuke organizers posted their typically-exaggerated figures, this time 15,000. http://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/english/news/20131222_18.html

December 19, 2013

  • Tokyo’s French chefs surprised some F. Daiichi child evacuees with a surprise gourmet Christmas meal. 360 meals and 200 snacks were delivered to a school in Koriyama with a large number of evacuees in their enrollment. Chef Christophe Paucod supervised preparation of scalloped potatoes, buttered veggies, and roast beef, plus a scrumptious cake topped with fresh berries. He said, “It’s a different flavor for their palates. For many it is the first time they have tasted French cuisine.” Caravan Bon Appetite has been providing meals to earthquake and tsunami refugees across the Tohoku region since April, 2011. This is part of a program started by French chefs in Japan due to the 3/11/11 natural disaster that left a lot of people homeless. They send their culinary delights to the region several times a week. However, this is the first Press coverage of their gustatory philanthropy. The reason seems obvious…the Fukushima refugees are more newsworthy than the tsunami refugees. http://japandailypress.com/santa-brings-a-different-kind-of-gourmet-christmas-to-fukushima-nuclear-evacuees-1741107/ -- http://www.japantoday.com/category/national/view/santa-takes-gourmet-dinner-to-nuclear-evacuees

  • The deposed Democratic Party of Japan has harshly attacked the current regime’s energy policy. The government of Shinzo Abe has announced repeatedly that they will work towards lessening reliance of nuclear-generated electricity and promote renewables. But, to the DPJ, it is nothing more than a smokescreen to keep the nuclear industry alive in Japan. The DPJ under Naoto Kan was in power when the Great East Japan Earthquake and Tsunami hit. Kan and his successor Yoshihiko Noda tried to end Japan’s nuclear age once and for all. However, the negative impact on the economy caused by their nuclear moratorium, their openly antinuclear agenda, and their lack of viable support for the 300,000 homeless tsunami refugees led to their landslide defeat a year ago. Undaunted in their antinuclear crusade, the DPJ says Tepco and Tokyo are not taking steps to alleviate the contamination of the Pacific by groundwater flow at F. Daiichi. They say Tepco should inject more water-stops and pump out contaminated groundwater before it reaches the shoreline. The DPJ’s current antinuclear tirade is due to Tepco announcing a new high radiation level for one of the dozens of near-shore sampling wells at F. Daiichi…63,000 Becquerels per liter. In addition, the DPJ condemned plans to restart safe, undamaged, fully-viable viable nukes while there is no firm nuclear waste policy. One DPJ politico also said nuclear power is not low cost energy because decommissioning and nuclear accident clean-up costs make it more expensive than alternatives. The DPJ has become little more than a Japanese sounding-board for time-worn criticisms of nukes borrowed from the world’s bastions of antinuclear rhetoric. http://jen.jiji.com/jc/eng?g=eco&k=2013121700419 -- http://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/english/news/nuclear.html

  • Fukushima Prefecture says the number of nuke-evacuation deaths has surpassed the number killed by the earthquake and tsunami of 3/11/11. The number of evacuee deaths now stands at 1,605 while the number directly killed by the quake/tsunami was 1603. The number of “indirect” post-evacuation deaths has been due to inappropriate medical care resulting in deteriorating health, development of new illnesses, and suicides of those who became mentally unwell. There are no firm standards for defining disaster-related deaths, but the prefecture believes the unprecedented duration of the evacuation warrants making this determination. One Tomioka official said, "We're seeing more and more diversification, and it's getting more complicated" to distinguish between fatalities related and unrelated to the evacuation. Tohoku Institute of Technology’s Kunihiro Fukutome added, "In Fukushima Prefecture, where evacuation is drawn out, damage from the disaster is on a different scale from what we've seen in the past.” http://mainichi.jp/english/english/newsselect/news/20131217p2a00m0na010000c.html (comment - Once again there is no distinction made between the Fukushima evacuees who will never go home because their abodes were swept away by the tsunami and the nuclear-only demographic. The tsunami-devastated group should be addressed separately because they would be suffering even if the nuke accident had never happened. Thus, we would like to see statistics on how many of the above “disaster-related” fatalities are from the tsunami-devastated cohort. We would also like to know how Fukushima’s tsunami-devastated evacuees living conditions and compensatory income compares with the tsunami refugees of Miyagi and Iwate Prefectures. To date, the government has avoided doing this and the Press seems satisfied with reporting on the Fukushima refugees alone.)

  • More compensation for Fukushima evacuees becomes law on Friday. The new pay-outs will include expanded support for those who want to go home (and can) plus additional money to those who need to settle elsewhere. Most already receive compensation for “lost” property value, but the new allocation is intended to let long-term evacuees buy new homes. The new package also allows mental distress compensation for long-term evacuees continuing until 2017. However, it also says that mental damages will end one year after the restrictions are lifted for residents allowed to go home. All of the government loans must eventually be repaid by Tepco and other contributing utility companies. In addition to the increased income for Fukushima evacuees, Tokyo has created new grants for Fukushima municipalities to accelerate the reconstruction of infrastructure. Lastly, the government has revised the estimate of the total loans that will eventually be extended to Tepco. The new projection is $90 billion, with nearly $50 billion devoted to evacuee compensation, $25 billion for rural decontamination and $11 billion for construction of waste storage facilities. http://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/english/news/nuclear.html -- http://ajw.asahi.com/article/0311disaster/fukushima/AJ201312190046 -- http://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/english/news/20131219_28.html

  • Tepco has announced the decommissioning of F. Daiichi units #5 & 6. Neither unit suffered damage to their power production or emergency systems from the 3/11/11 tsunami. Tepco’s board of directors made the announcement to the Industry Ministry on Wednesday. The decision to decommission will become official company policy on January 31. Tepco wants to use the two units for testing of remote-control decontamination and fuel debris removal technologies, in conformance with suggestions made by the International Research Institute for Nuclear Decommissioning. Tepco President Hirose met with Fukushima governor Sato to announce the decision, but all Sato would say was, "I want you to know that the complete dismantlement of reactors in Fukushima is the general consensus of people in the prefecture," which includes the four undamaged units at F. Daiini.  http://www.tepco.co.jp/en/press/corp-com/release/2013/1233020_5130.html -- http://jen.jiji.com/jc/eng?g=eco&k=2013121900500

  • The high groundwater radioactivity at F. Daiichi mentioned above (63,000 Bq/liter) was due to sample cross-contamination. The well from which Tuesday’s sample was taken was retested later in the day. It was found to have radioactivity below the lower limit of detection. Tepco attributes Tuesday’s reading to “the incorporation of radioactive material into the sample water” from an adjacent well sampled at the same time. The adjacent well has had high contamination readings for several weeks, thought to be due to seepage from a nearby equipment tunnel containing the highest levels found outside the turbine basements. Tepco says they will upgrade sampling procedures to prevent a recurrence.  http://www.tepco.co.jp/en/press/corp-com/release/2013/1233005_5130.html

  • A lawsuit filed by US Navy personnel in August of 2012 has been dismissed. San Diego’s federal judge Janis L. Sammartino effected the dismissal due to a jurisdictional issue. The plaintiff’s lawyers say they will re-file. The judge dismissed the lawsuit on Nov. 26 on grounds that it was beyond her authority to determine whether Tepco and Japan’s government had committed fraud. The suit claimed Tepco lied about the severity of the Fukushima atmospheric releases and that Tokyo was complicit in the lie. The plaintiffs were attached to the USS Ronald Reagan in support of tsunami efforts in Japan. They were all non-nuclear-trained. Plaintiffs say they suffered a number of post-accident ailments including rectal bleeding, gastrointestinal distress, hair loss, headaches, and fatigue. Some allege they now have thyroid and gallbladder cancer. Only hair loss and thyroid cancers can be caused by radiation exposures, and must be several orders of magnitude above the plaintiff exposures. http://japandailypress.com/us-judge-dismisses-fukushima-radiation-lawsuit-from-sailors-who-arrived-post-tsunami-1841170/

  • French journalists are touring Fukushima Prefecture to check if French news reports on food radiation have been correct. They visited Yanagawa Town in Date City to witness the processes for determining whether or not Fukushima Prefecture foods are safe. Le Monde reporter Pierre Le Hir said he was impressed with how hard people work to insure the foods they produce are safe for consumption. He hopes to correct biased reports that have occurred in the French Press. http://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/english/news/20131218_22.html

December 16, 2013 - Addendum

Thanks to two Fukushima Update readers for this… Tepco has moved 88 of the unit #4 fuel bundles as of today. Four complete transfers of 22 bundles each have occurred without a problem. One of the readers (John) said the third transfer was finished Dec. 9 and the fourth on the 16th. I’ve been looking for multiple Press releases for each transfer, like the first 2 weeks, but it seems Tepco has posted none. My personal opinion? The Press lost interest so Tepco decided to play it on the “down low” for security purposes. I’ll be following the following Tepco link from now on, but if you want to monitor it yourself… http://www.tepco.co.jp/en/nu/fukushima-np/removal4u/index-e.html

December 16, 2013

  • Tepco says a coolant leak and equipment malfunction with F. Daiichi unit #3 may have led to its fuel damage. Tepco says there must have been leakages out of the flow path from the fire pump to the Reactor Vessel which prevented all of the water getting to its intended destination. The company says the amount of water from the fire pump was greater than the amount needed to cool the fuel core, but the subsequent meltdown shows that much of the water was going elsewhere. The time of the onset of fuel melting remains unchanged from the company’s 2012 investigation – 10:40am on March 13th. [The revised Tepco timeline follows] The High Pressure Coolant Injection system shut down at 2:42am. This may have happened due to a system malfunction. Operator records show that unit #3’s reactor water level dropped to the top of the fuel core at 4:15am that day. It would take a few hours for the core to be completely exposed and heat-up enough to begin melting.  At ~9 am, automatic safety relief valve operation dropped pressure inside the reactor pressure vessel enough for low pressure, self-powered fire pumps to inject water into the RPV. This began at 9:25am. The manual depressurization of the Primary Containment (PCV) occurred a few minutes later. With the RPV and PCV depressurized, water flow from the fire pump should have begun the recovery of water level inside the RPV. But, this did not happen. [end of revised Tepco scenario] Tepco also says something similar may have happened at units #1 and #2 prior to their onset of fuel damage. http://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/english/news/20131213_38.html -- http://english.kyodonews.jp/news/2013/12/261658.html
  • Tokyo wants to pass a law making it illegal for permanent storage of low-level wastes in Fukushima Prefecture. The move is intended to relieve local concerns that the temporary storage of low level wastes will become permanent. The government wants 30-year temporary storage facilities built in the towns of Futaba, Okuma, and Naraha, which are nearest the damaged nuke station. However, local officials fear that once storage takes place, it will stay there permanently. They want a guarantee that if the facilities are built, they will never become permanent. http://jen.jiji.com/jc/eng?g=eco&k=2013121300849  On Saturday, Tokyo Ministers Ishihara and Takumi met with Fukushima officials, including Governor Yuhei Sato. The ministers asked permission to buy up 18 km2 of land to build low level waste storage facilities. They told the local officials that the government’s proposal to make a permanent storage location outside Fukushima Prefecture a law should give greater incentive to agree to the land buy-up. However, many local landowners say they will not sell properties handed down by their ancestors, and they feel building the facilities would discourage many evacuees from returning. The ministers said they will begin briefing local landowners on their plans after the New Year. http://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/english/news/nuclear.html
  • Tokyo is considering doubling the ceiling on loans to Tepco. The current limit on loans is $50 billion, but now the government wants to raise it to $100 billion. The new limit will apply to the combination of compensation pay-outs and rural decontamination costs. The cost of decontamination is now estimated to be as much as $25 billion. The rest is for compensation payments to Fukushima evacuees, which already totals about $30 billion. http://english.kyodonews.jp/news/2013/12/261774.html
  • The Tokyo government may sell its shares of Tepco stock to fund decontamination at Fukushima. Tokyo poposes to sell Tepco stocks valued at $10 billion, and use it to pay for decontamination of rural areas around the nuke station. Costs beyond the amount of the stock sale will be charged to Tepco. The Tepco stocks are currently held by the Nuclear Damage Liability Facilitation Fund, which also lends much of the money to the utility to cover public compensation pay-outs. It is feared that using stock sales to pay for decontamination will cause critics to say Tokyo is financially rescuing Tepco. http://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/english/news/nuclear.html

With the relative lull due to a week of no spent fuel movement at F. Daiichi #4, much of the Japanese Press has resorted to the promotion of fear, uncertainty and doubt (FUD).

  • The Asahi Shimbun posted an article of doubt concerning Fukushima evacuees, specifically a “dilemma” experienced by residents from locations where restrictions have been lifted. At least they head the article with a returnee who is glad he moved home. Kiyokazu Watanabe says, “Nothing is sweeter than being in my home. I want to get the feeling that things are moving forward.” But, most of the article contains stories of several evacuees who are staying away due to fear of radiation exposure. One is Watanabe’s son. Watanabe’s son and family will remain in a leased home, as will Seisaku Yoshida, a local farmer. He plans on planting rice on his property next spring, but not move home permanently. He estimates that repairs to his home will cost ~$50,000, and (like Watanabe) his son refuses to return due to radiation exposure. Yoshida says, “Perhaps I would be happier if I kept the repairs to a minimum and used the money to live with my grandson and his family.” The article adds that only 30 of the district’s 117 households have come back because they may lose much of their compensation income. The Asahi makes it seem that the $1,000 per month each person gets for psychological distress is the only money evacuees are getting, but those following this blog know that the monthly payouts are considerably greater. http://ajw.asahi.com/article/0311disaster/fukushima/AJ201312130073
  • The Mainichi Shimbun aran two FUD reports this weekend. In the first, The Mainichi says Japan is “incapable” of safely decommissioning F. Daiichi and calls for an international effort. The paper says Japan has never decommissioned a “full-fledged” reactor, unlike other countries like the United States. Idaho University Professor Akira Tokuhiro says, "Even for the U.S. nuclear industry, such a cleanup and decommissioning would be a great challenge." The article focuses on doubts about the extent of the three damaged cores, where they are actually located, and the unknown problems with removing them. The paper further says lack of expertise is “worse at the regulatory level”. The Mainichi says no-one in Japan’s NRA has ever been involved in reactor decommissioning. American Lake Barrett is quoted as saying, "The most challenging area is skilled nuclear engineers and managers that can plan, integrate and communicate effectively in Japanese." Then, near the end of the report, the Mainichi admits Japan has experience with scrapping one test reactor, and five others in various stages of decommissioning, including three commercial nukes. The decommissioning of Tokai unit #1 has been on-going for 15 years and at least 70 Japanese “experts” are involved. After contradicting itself, the Mainichi closes with another quote from Idaho Professor Tokuhiro, "It is clear that this very large undertaking requires an international effort. It is in the spirit of a global nuclear energy partnership." http://mainichi.jp/english/english/newsselect/news/20131215p2g00m0dm043000c.html   Next, The Mainichi says the temporary storage of low level decontaminated waste “shocks Fukushima residents”. The paper charges that the Prefecture’s government “failed to check” storage practices in Shirakawa City, located about 60 kilometers southwest of F. Daiichi, well-beyond the evacuation zone. The paper sent a reporter with a hand-held dosimeter because of a November report from an elderly woman to the Prefecture. She said she saw children playing on a pile of bags containing low-level wastes stored at an apartment complex’s park. The reporter said the bags had a contact reading of 2.23 microsieverts per hour, nearly 10 times the desired 0.23 µSv/hr (~1 mSv/yr). When the reporter moved away, the level dropped to 0.23 µSv/hr. The paper said they found a similar situation with four other apartment parks in the city. The reporter saw two high school students walking near one of the bag-piled parks and reported, “They said they didn't know about the danger of the bags.” The paper charges that this is an unsafe condition for children and must be stopped. The Prefecture has long-ago sent letters to all city parents announcing the temporary storage, but the Mainichi says they “did not mention anything about the danger of the waste bags or safety measures.” http://mainichi.jp/english/english/newsselect/news/20131216p2a00m0na015000c.html  (comment - Of course, there is no discernable danger to the children. The average American child receives about 0.7 µSv per hour and millions of children in the world lead full, healthy lives in background levels radiation much higher than 2.23 µsV/hr. But, the Mainichi ignores these facts, hell-bent on keeping the radiophobic demographic of Japan on edge.)
  • Jiji Press also adds its little contribution to the FUD, this time by re-hashing the now-trite notion that there is “no solution in sight…with the ever-increasing amounts of radioactive water at the accident-hit Fukushima No. 1 power station.” It’s the same thing Japan’s antinuclear-oriented Press been saying regularly since the first storage tank leaks were detected last spring. Regardless…here’s the link - http://jen.jiji.com/jc/eng?g=eco&k=2013121600319

December 12, 2013

  • More large one-time payouts are proposed for Fukushima evacuees. The Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology (MEXT) has proposed lump-sum compensation payments totaling between $100,000 and $140,000 per person for emotional damage due to the Tokyo-mandated evacuation. This means a typical family of four could experience a windfall of between $400,000 and $640,000. The higher payout is intended for evacuees from locations that have radiation exposure levels of more than 50 millisieverts per year. Existing emotional damage payments have been $1,000 per person per month, or $4,000/month to a family of four. The money will be loaned to Tepco in order to make the payments, but the company will eventually have to repay the government. The amounts per person came from data used for loss of home and property caused by landslides and traffic accidents as references. It should be noted that under the proposed rule, a limit on property compensation will be determined by equating the average between initial cost of a home and the most recent property evaluation prior to 3/11/11. The draft says the maximum pay-out should be between 50 and 75% of that value. For those who have rebuilt in a new location, they will be additionally recompensed at 50-75% of the difference between their old home’s value and the cost of building the new one. The generous monthly stipends already given to all 84,000 qualified evacuees will not change. http://mainichi.jp/english/english/newsselect/news/20131210p2a00m0na012000c.html  Predictably, some evacuees don’t like the MEXT proposal one bit. The few, loud outcries come from those who evacuated locations estimated to have long-term radiation exposures in excess of 50mSv/yr. One dissenter, Mayor Koichi Miyamoto of Tomioka, says no limits should be placed on the pay-outs because “It is impossible to decide on the entire amount of compensation while evacuees are still in the middle of their evacuations," He added that no rebuilding plan should be viewed as complete until all evacuees are able to return to normal lives. A 62 year-old evacuee from Okuma said, “I cannot understand this” because he has not had a job since 3/11/11. He also complained that the $2,000 per month he and his wife receive for emotional stress is not enough to give them their desired 50% savings. http://ajw.asahi.com/article/0311disaster/fukushima/AJ201312100062
  • The International Atomic Energy Agency has posted its most recent Fukushima evaluation. The preliminary report covers their expert team’s visit of 11/25/13 to 12/5/13. The report has some very positive things to say about the station’s decommissioning effort. Some of the remarks include, “Japan has achieved good progress in improving its strategy and the associated plans…the Government of Japan and TEPCO have increasingly adopted a more proactive attitude and approach towards addressing the many difficulties at the site…Japan appears to have adopted a well-oriented set of countermeasures.” http://www.iaea.org/newscenter/focus/fukushima/missionreport041213.pdf  As always, the international bell-cow of antinuclear dogma, Greenpeace, says the IAEA cannot be trusted and is in collusion with Tepco and the Nuclear Regulation Authority. The group says the triumvirate is trying to promote an “out of sight, out of mind” approach to what Greenpeace calls a “Permanent crisis at Fukushima”. http://www.greenpeace.org/international/en/news/Blogs/nuclear-reaction/permanent-crisis-at-fukushima/blog/47649/
  • The Industry Ministry (METI) says Tepco should intensify their F. Daiichi wastewater efforts. In addition to freezing the soil and building another wall along the nuke station’s shoreline, METI proposes paving the station with asphalt to prevent rainwater from moving surface soil contamination into the sea via run-off. METI believes current efforts have had dubious effectiveness and the two new barrier‘s construction will take too long. The panel also suggested expert teams be assembled to assess the risks and challenges associated with handling Tritium. METI minister Toshimitsu Motegi said the government should use state funds for technology deemed necessary for difficult projects. METI estimates that Tepco will not fully resolve all wastewater issues before 2020. http://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/english/news/nuclear.html -- http://english.kyodonews.jp/news/2013/12/261063.html
  • A leading Asian news outlet says there is too much anxiety about Fukushima. The Diplomat, a Tokyo-based news magazine, asks “How worried should we be about Fukushima?” Their answer – “Not as much as many headlines suggest”. The article says there has been a recent rash of headlines about radioactive leaks, exposed workers and contaminated fish, which paints a bleak picture. However, “to be fair, all is not bad”. In fact, the report says PM Abe’s statement of F. Daiichi being “under control” is a legitimate claim. The article adds that many of the “tremendous recovery efforts” have been given little or no media attention. The Diplomat admits that Tepco’s efforts have not been perfect, but the company should be given credit for the things it has done right. For example, a few of the thousand-odd temporary water storage tanks have leaked, but the vast majority have maintained their integrity. In addition, something entirely missing from the Press reports is the fact that the contamination level in the water-filled basements of units #1 through #4 “…is down a hundred-fold from its peak because of the constant dilutive effects of both [processing] cooling water and the inflowing groundwater.” Perhaps the Diplomat’s most significant statement concerns Japan’s ridiculously-low radiation and contamination standards, “Although the government has set stringent environmental containment standards in a [honorable] bid to reassure the public, doing so also raises expectations to an unrealistic level and entails greater difficulty and exponentially greater expense. Setting expectations so high encourages the impression of failure for falling short. Right now, water can only be discharged [to the sea] if it meets standards that are nearly as strict as those for drinking water.Drinking water standards for the radioisotope cesium are 10 Becquerels per liter (Bq/L). For Fukushima [only], the clean groundwater discharge limit is <1 Bq/L, and for all other discharges the limit has been set to 25 Bq/L. To help put this into context, the amount of natural radioactivity from potassium in the average person’s urine is on the order of 50 Bq/L.” In summation, the lengthy article goes into considerable detail while providing a relatively complete overview of the situation at F. Daiichi, and with no agenda-fulfilling spin-doctoring. I strongly urge everyone to use the attached link and read the report in its entirety. http://thediplomat.com/2013/12/waterworld-how-worried-should-we-be-about-fukushima/
  • A Japanese political advisor says all nuclear plants should have a “black box” similar to ones used by the airline industry. Political Policy Professor Kiyoshi Kurokawa, who headed the 2012 Fukushima accident congressional investigation (NAIIC), says that without such recording devices nukes will never achieve the level of transparency needed. He criticized Tokyo’s watchdog agency thusly, “Japan’s Nuclear Regulation Authority seems very isolated” not only from the domestic power industry but also from counterparts abroad. “Isolation in one nation is a very dangerous thing.” Kurokawa has received world-renown for his accident report calling the Fukushima Crisis “Made in Japan”, citing irresponsible collusion between Tepco and the government to avoid executing adequate tsunami protection. Kurokawa also feels the current regime under Shinzo Abe has largely ignored the NAIIC report or else they would not be pushing to restart currently-idled reactors. He also feels that recovering and containing the three damaged fuel cores at Fukushima is “maybe not top of the agenda for Abe”. http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2013/12/10/national/nuke-black-box-needed-investigator/#.UqcfnYAo4dU  The host town for Fukushima Daiini station wants all four units scrapped. F. Daiini is about 10 kilometers south of F. Daiichi and is fully functional. F. Daiini survived the 3/11/11 tsunami virtually unscathed. The town’s petition says it is highly unlikely that they will ever accept a request to restart for any of the station’s units because national energy policy has been called into question. Fukushima Prefecture has already called for the decommissioning of all units at Daiini and Daiichi stations, so the Tomioka petition seems intended to support the prefectural position. http://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/english/news/20131211_43.html


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