Fukushima 98... 3/10/16-3/24/16

March 24, 2016

  • Muon detection to be used in unit #2 later this month. Tepco says the detection system worked well in unit #1, showing no fuel debris larger than one meter remains in the core barrel. The system will be at ground level on the west side of unit #2 reactor building to scan the reactor pressure vessel down to a point lower than with unit #1. The entire core barrel area and much of the plenum beneath it should be visible. Tepco hopes the imaging will show how much fuel remains in the barrel, and whether or not any re-solidified corium accumulated in the bottom head of the RPV. The location for the detector was selected so that the spent fuel pool would not block imaging. http://www.tepco.co.jp/en/nu/fukushima-np/handouts/2016/images/handouts_160317_01-e.pdf

  • Kansai Electric’s chief is blasted for comments concerning the Takahama injunction. Kansai Electric President Makoto Yagi said, “If a higher court overturns the injunction, seeking damages [from the plaintiffs] could be a possible option.” The plaintiff’s lawyers claim the remark is the same as “threats” against their clients and “absolutely unacceptable”. Kansai Electric estimates that the injunction has already cost the company nearly $90 million and the amount climbs with every passing day. The Nationwide liaison group of lawyers seeking a break from nuclear power says Kansai Electric made the threat to keep people from trying to file restart petitions against other Japanese nukes. In response, the utility said, “The remark explained that in general terms, lodging a claim for damages could be an option only after a lower court ruling is overturned. At present, nothing has been decided about seeking damages. The remark was not made to intimidate the complainants (behind the injunction) nor to rein in (future legal actions).” http://ajw.asahi.com/article/behind_news/social_affairs/AJ201603230074  (Comment – Kansai Electric has done the right thing and made the public aware of the wages of this sort of legal action. I believe this came as a complete surprise to Japan’s numerous anti-nuclear lawyers, who expected Kansai Electric to be a typically timid corporate foe.)

  • Japan presses China to lift Fukushima-based import bans. Restrictions on imports from ten prefectures on agricultural, forest, produce, and fish products, have been in place since the nuke accident. A formal request was made by Vice Minister of Agriculture, Kazuyoshi Honkawa, at a bilateral subcabinet-level dialogue on agricultural in Beijing. Both countries have reopened diplomatic dialogue for the first time in six years, after suspending talks due to strained political relations. http://jen.jiji.com/jc/eng?g=eco&k=2016032100395

  • Tepco apologizes to Niigata Prefecture for delaying meltdown announcement. A Niigata investigative panel is studying the safety of units #6&7 at Kashiwazaki-Kariwa station, as a pre-requisite for restart. The panel found that Tepco’s corporate emergency manual said a meltdown announcement should be made at 5% core damage, which could have been deduced by March 14th of 2011. The actual announcement came two months later. The Niigata Panel says the failure to reveal the oversight for five years shows that Tepco cannot be trusted to operate the K-K units safely. On the same day as the apology, the Nuclear Regulation Authority said it is suspending the screening for restarts of the two K-K units. The NRA purports that the reason is to get more data on Tepco’s assessment of quake resistance with the K-K buildings and contained facilities. The safety screening was in its final stage, and the agency had previously said the two unit’s newer designs posed fewer safety risks that older ones. The K-K units were going to be the first Boiling Water Reactor systems allowed to restart. The NRA says that during the suspension of screening, other reactors of the same type will be moved ahead of the K-K units.   http://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/en/news/20160323_30/ -- http://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/en/news/20160323_30/ 

  • The new “311 Thyroid Cancer Family Group”, comprised of seven parents of five children who have had thyroid surgery, gets Press coverage. They do not believe that the thyroid cancers were not caused by F. Daiichi. The group is considering filing lawsuits against the central and prefectural governments, along with Tokyo Electric Power Co. One parent says, “We want the Fukushima prefectural government and doctors to demonstrate a better understanding of patients.” Hiroyuki Kawai, a lawyer from the Daini Tokyo Bar Association, leads the group. He says, “By having the patients and their families unite and cry out as one, it makes it easier for us to make policy suggestions to the government.” A doctor accused of telling a family to not share their opinions with the Press, said the family misunderstood him, “We have been paying the utmost attention to establishing an environment where patients can talk about their worries and doubts, having mental health care specialists getting involved with them at an early stage of their treatments. Such efforts continue well into the post-surgery period.”  http://ajw.asahi.com/article/0311disaster/fukushima/AJ201603240025

  • Numerous Fukushima evacuees complain of deteriorated health. An Asahi Shimbun poll found that 23% of the respondents say their health has greatly deteriorated and 46% said it worsened somewhat. Questionnaires were sent to 944 evacuees living in three prefectures, including Fukushima, and 619 responded. 48% said they had increased feelings of concern, 37% felt down or lonely, 28% were more irritated, and 25% said they had difficulty sleeping. On the other hand, 22% said their state of health had not changed since before the accident. Not all remain in temporary housing; some have returned home. When asked what policies they wished to have prioritized, the most popular concerned various financial subsidies. http://ajw.asahi.com/article/0311disaster/recovery/AJ201603220001 

  • Shikoku Electric will seek a July restart for Ikata unit #3. It passed its initial safety inspection last July, and has already received consent from local officials for restart. The Nuclear Regulation Authority passed the unit on its screening this morning. Shikoku Electric says it will apply for final site inspection as soon as the review is finished. They hope to load fuel in June and begin the restart sequence in July. One possible roadblock is a pending lawsuit against the restart filed by plaintiffs that include Hiroshima and Nagasaki survivors.  http://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/en/news/20160322_37/ -- http://www.japantoday.com/category/national/view/ikata-reactor-in-ehime-passes-safety-screenings-to-restart?utm_campaign=jt_newsletter&utm_medium=email&utm_source=jt_newsletter_2016-03-24_AM

March 21, 2016

  • All seafood caught within 20 km of F. Daiichi is below cesium limits. Tepco has been running tests on the near-station sea life every three months for more than two years. Of the 263 specimens from the 39 species tested between October and December of last year, none had above-standard concentrations of radioactive cesium. This was the first of the quarterly studies to show no seafood containing more than 100 Becquerels per kilogram. The tests run last summer, tests on 256 specimens from 36 species revealed one angel shark contained a slightly above-limit concentration. http://www.fukushimaminponews.com/news.html?id=642

  • The new low level waste incinerator at F. Daiichi begins operation. The original facility was destroyed by the 2011 earthquake and tsunami. There is about 70,000 tons of burnable low level waste materials currently being stored at the nuke station. The wastes include used anti-contamination suits, gloves and boots. Radioactive materials entrained in the smoke from the burning are being filtered from the incinerator’s exhaust and will be sealed in specialized containers for final disposal. Tepco says burning the wastes will reduce the total volume by a factor of 50. http://mainichi.jp/english/articles/20160321/p2a/00m/0na/004000c

  • Tepco balks at paying $175 million to prefectures for some of their claimed Fukushima costs. In 2011, Tokyo’s Dispute Reconciliation Committee for Nuclear Damage Compensation laid down guidance for Fukushima accident reimbursement to local governments. Since then, prefectures have submitted about $450 in claims. Reimbursements for decontamination of water and sewage systems, as well as support for evacuees, were clearly delineated in the order. However, there is a grey area in the formal guidance that has led to the company not covering all claims. It states, “…depending on circumstances, additional expenses may be recognized as damage that should be reimbursed.” With respect to Fukushima Prefecture, Tepco refuses to pay for the salaries of government employees overseeing decontamination projects and the ad campaigns intended to repair the image of the tourism industry. Yamagata Prefecture has received but a third of the money they submitted, relative to radiation inspections of agricultural and livestock products plus the salaries of additional teachers to handle the influx of evacuee children. Also, Miyagi Prefecture has not been paid on about half of its submittals. Both prefectures have appealed to Tokyo to try and get all claims paid. Tepco says, “We are processing and compensating claims for damage that meet the appraisal standards. For other expenses, we are making appropriate decisions as we consult with relevant parties about their circumstances.” http://the-japan-news.com/news/article/0002812484

  • Tokyo says manpower and ownership issues delay razing and rebuilding Tohoku homes. The government recovery program covers not only homes destroyed by the quake and tsunami of 2011, but also those that have been damaged during the prolonged Fukushima evacuation. Only about 30% of the razing requests have been processed in the three hardest-hit prefectures: Iwate, Miyagi, and Fukushima. Some Fukushima evacuees say that once evacuation orders are lifted, they will not be able to repopulate because they cannot return to damaged and/or destroyed homes. http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2016/03/20/national/razing-of-wrecked-homes-lagging-badly-as-fukushima-residents-ponder-return/#.Vu6h15Bf0dU

  • A Tokyo seismologist claims Tepco was warned of a monster tsunami ten years before the nuke accident. Tokyo University’s Kunihiko Shimazaki reports that the Headquarters for Earthquake Research Promotion predicted in 2002 that a recurrence of an 1896 earthquake could overwhelm Fukushima’s protective barriers. The 1896 quake occurred 166 kilometers off the coast of Iwate Prefecture and the tsunami slammed the Tohoku coast, killing 22,000 people. Shimazaki said the probability of recurrence over a period of 30 years is 20%, "Compared with earthquakes that occur in active faults once in thousands of years, the probability (of 20% in 30 years) is surprisingly high and cannot be ignored." http://jen.jiji.com/jc/eng?g=eco&k=2016031800690

  • Judges for an antinuclear lawsuit visit the F. Daiichi exclusion zone. Dressed in full anti-contamination gear, three judges and lawyers for both plaintiffs and defendants were included in what was obviously intended to be a show for the news media. There were about fifty anti-C clad members in the entourage. Plaintiff lawyers said this is the first visit by a court team hearing a suit against Tepco and/or Tokyo to cover damages claimed by evacuees.  A few evacuee plaintiffs said they need to be compensated. Of course, it was never mentioned that every man, woman, and child, already get huge monthly pay-outs totaling more than $8,000 each.  http://mainichi.jp/english/articles/20160318/p2a/00m/0na/003000c -- http://ajw.asahi.com/article/0311disaster/recovery/AJ201603180055

March 17, 2016

Before getting to the Fukushima News, I want to share a blog article posted by colleague Rod Adams on the 5th anniversary of the accident. He asks “Why haven’t world leaders learned the most useful lessons about Fukushima?” Among his points are the needless evacuation of Japanese for prolonged time periods, bagging up perfectly good soil as radioactive waste, and the fact that less than 20 of Japan’s long-idled nukes are actually at-risk with respect to tsunamis. I recommend this fine work to everyone. http://atomicinsights.com/havent-world-leaders-learned-useful-lessons-fukushima/#comment-138224

Now for the latest Fukushima news…

  • The NRA calls an Asahi Shimbun news report “criminal”. Nuclear Regulation Authority Chair Shunichi said a recent Asahi article misleads residents who live near Sendai nuke station. On Monday, Japan’s second-largest newspaper said more than half of the rural radiation monitors around Sendai “cannot measure levels that serve as a criteria for evacuation”. The NRA’s Tanaka made a stern response, “(The article) is criminal in the sense the content fanned unnecessary anxieties among municipalities hosting nuclear power plants and people living around them.” He explained that this is not an actual problem because the higher range monitors are sufficient to judge the need for evacuations. Tanaka also said the NRA takes umbrage with the article’s citing an agency official as supporting evidence for the Asahi’s brash, unfounded claim, “Our staff never said what was written.” Of course, the Asahi defends its scare-mongering, arguing that it is merely a matter of informing the public. http://ajw.asahi.com/article/behind_news/social_affairs/AJ201603170065 (Comment - The Asahi wrote that the monitors in question are “useless”. Does that sound like appropriate information, or overt FUD? The Asahi has had a long history of extreme antinuclear agenda, and this merely adds more fuel to the fire.)

  • An American oncologist says increased Fukushima child thyroid cancers are due to over-diagnosis. David Gorski, MD & PhD, has written Op-Ed articles about modern medical overdiagnosis issues for several years. In his latest report, he states that when searching for a prime example of overdiagnosis, and unnecessary invasive surgery, “…it’s hard to find a better example of this than the aftermath of the March 2011 meltdowns at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Plant…” Gorski then asserts, “There is almost certainly no thyroid cancer epidemic in Fukushima [Prefecture].” His rebuttal of the widely-broadcast claim of such an epidemic by a maverick Epidemiologist at Okayama University is detailed and pulls no punches. https://www.sciencebasedmedicine.org/confusing-overdiagnosis-for-an-epidemic-of-thyroid-cancer-in-japan-after-fukushima/

  • Japan’s emperor visits Katsurao evacuees. The imperial couple met with some of the 700Katsurao refugees in Miharu Town. The Katsurao mayor briefed the emperor on efforts made to lift the evacuation order. Then the imperial couple met with five evacuees. One said he can’t wait to return home and reopen his shop. http://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/en/news/20160316_25/

  • Shikoku Electric wants to restart Ikata unit #3 this summer. If all goes as planned, the Ehime Prefecture unit will clear its Nuclear Regulation Authority safety screening by the end of this month. The Ikata staff will then begin the pre-operational inspections and tests required for restart. The 890 MWe Pressurized Water Reactor could well be the fifth to restart after the Tokyo-mandated moratorium following the Fukushima accident. http://english.kyodonews.jp/news/2016/03/402295.html

March 14, 2016

  • A Fukushima researcher says Fukushima’s web-image is unrealistic. Dr. Sae Ochi, Director of Internal Medicine at Fukushima’s Soma Hospital, says, “I often log on to my personal computer in a joyful mood, but then get appalled at what I find there: a dark image of Fukushima being spread across the Web, swirling in conspiracy. The picture of Fukushima that one finds in Internet searches is not the real Fukushima.” She says many views about Fukushima are internet-inspired lies. While most internet reports on Fukushima are one-sided, in reality there is a mixture of proponents and opponents, and a large fraction who admit they don’t know what to think. She says people are always in a rush, so they depend on search engines to find out what is happening. With emotional issues like Fukushima, most people only go to the websites that reinforce their personal opinions. In other words, they do not want to know about something that challenges their view. As one actually involved with the Fukushima child thyroid screening program, Ms. Ochi knows what is true. But, she finds that many people are inverting the actual situation. She says, “I sense that there is a glut of misguided ‘information recipes’ that prepare scientific information with ethics ‘stirred in,’ as well as those that ‘season’ ethical issues with scientific evidence.” Ochi notices that some scientists manipulate reality to fit their opinion because negative opinions are the ones that get the most attention. http://www.jaif.or.jp/en/fukushimas-image-being-warped-by-search-engines-a-recipe-to-battle-against-the-deficiency-of-information/

  • SPEEDI will be used for evacuation purposes in future nuke crises. The System for Prediction of Environment Emergency Dose Information was approved by the Prime Minister’s Cabinet on Friday. SPEEDI combines radioactive release and meteorological data to provide local governments an idea as to which direction should be taken by people evacuating. The system was developed after the 1979 Three Mile Island incident. Tokyo has been sternly criticized for then-PM Naoto Kan’s decision to not use the system during the F. Daiichi evacuation because he felt SPEEDI predictions were inherently inaccurate. As a result, thousands of evacuating Fukushima residents fled into the direct path of the accident plume after the wind shifted on-shore on March 14. Since Kan and his party were voted out of office three years ago, local governments have lobbied to allow use of the system. Tokyo has finally capitulated. http://the-japan-news.com/news/article/0002805126 -- http://mainichi.jp/english/articles/20160312/p2a/00m/0na/020000c

  • Families of Fukushima child thyroid cancer patients form an information network. They held a news conference on Saturday, accompanied by a lawyer. Five families want to know why their children were diagnosed to papillary carcinoma nodules, and urge the parents of the other more than 160 diagnosed children to join the group. Obviously, they don’t believe the explanations provided by the Fukushima Medical University team that performs the thyroid testing. http://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/en/news/20160312_22/

  • Takahama unit #3 achieved cold shutdown status on Friday. The Fukui Prefecture unit was at full power, safely producing 870 MWe of pollution-free electricity, when a maverick district court in the neighboring prefecture ordered the plant to cease operations immediately. All power output ended last Thursday, and the primary coolant for the reactor was cooled to the cold shutdown criterion (below 100oC) on Friday. The unit had been at full power, generating electricity for 40 days. The Otsu district court in Shiga Prefecture issued the injunction because of a petition submitted by some of the prefecture’s residents claiming the plant owner, Kansai Electric, failed to explain the plant’s safety to them, and they feared being exposed to low level radiation. http://the-japan-news.com/news/article/0002805309

  • Kansai Electric has appealed the Takahama Injunction. The company says the Otsu Court decision is unacceptable because it was “not based on scientific and technical knowledge.” The court cited reasons for its injunction such as “problematic points” of accident response, plus unanswered questions on tsunami protection and emergency planning, which violate personal rights, “There is keen fear that the personal rights of residents are being violated, and that Kansai EP has not sufficiently explained that safety is secured.” In other words, the Otsu court based its decision on perceived uncertainties and doubts, and not on technical grounds. http://mainichi.jp/english/articles/20160314/p2g/00m/0dm/082000c

  • The Asahi Shimbun says half of the radiation monitors around Sendai station are “useless”. Japan’s second largest newspaper reports that 22 of the 48 devises measure area exposure rates up to 80 microsieverts per hour. Yet, Tokyo’s emergency guidelines say immediate evacuation orders are to be rendered at 500 µSv/hr. Thus, the Asahi calls the monitors with 80 µSv limits “useless”. The detection technology was installed out to the 30km radius around Sendai station by the Kagoshima Prefecture government before the station’s two now-operating nukes were restarted. A prefectural official says, “It will be no problem because we can monitor radiation levels with other monitoring posts nearby or transportable monitoring equipment.” http://ajw.asahi.com/article/behind_news/social_affairs/AJ201603140026  (Comment –Environmental detectors around nukes always include units with a variety of monitoring ranges. They are ALL useful. Either the Asahi fails to understand the situation, or intentionally declines to tell the whole story. Considering that the Asahi incorrectly calls area radiation detectors “airborne” monitors, it is possible that they do not understand the reasons behind the variety of monitoring ranges being employed. However, the newspaper’s penchant for focusing on notions of uncertainty and doubt concerning all things nuclear, suggests the omissions about these radiation monitors are intentional.)

  • 3,000 tons of rural decontamination materials have gone unreported. NHK World discovered that 30 municipalities in seven prefectures store 3,114 tons of wastes that measured greater than 8,000 Becquerels per kilogram when it was collected. The communities never reported it to Tokyo because of concerns about false rumors. In addition, without a firm decision on the part of the government to establish central temporary repositories for the stuff, the bagged debris would remain where it is now even if it were reported. Tokyo told NHK they would investigate into the situation with the “undesignated” wastes. http://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/en/news/20160313_14/

  • Tokyo will focus on decontaminating the so-called “difficult-to-return” zones. They have experienced a more than 50% drop-off in worst-case exposure estimates since the zone designations were created by Tokyo in 2011. The majority of the existing difficult-to-return zones no longer have estimated exposures greater than or equal to the 50 millisievert per year criterion for the designation. In fact, radiation surveys made in December showed that the current worst-case exposures in decontaminated “test areas”, are actually less than 20 mSv/yr; the criterion for repopulation! Tokyo says they will now bring serious focus to decontaminating the difficult-to-return zones in order to facilitate repopulation. http://the-japan-news.com/news/article/0002804416

  • Japan’s antinuclear activists say they want to “regain momentum”. Tokyo’s Metropolitan Coalition Against Nukes (MCAN) has seen the number of protesters dwindle at their weekly demonstrations since 2011. The say their “Friday Rallies” currently attract hundreds participants, where tens of thousands showed up five years ago. They blame the downturn on the government’s allegedly pro-nuclear policies. On activist says, “I have a sense of crisis about the current state of things. I guess people are tired of speaking up as nobody (in the government) seems to listen to them.” Kanna Mitsuta of Friends of the Earth says, “I’m not pessimistic about the situation. I don’t think the movement is dead. We should never forget that people are still suffering from the disaster.” http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2016/03/11/national/not-japans-anti-nuclear-movement-fights-regain-momentum/#.VuLn-JBf0dV (Comment – Antinuclear prophecies of cancerous doom have never manifested, causing credibility to plummet. Japan may have a radiophobia epidemic, but the public is not irrational and stupid.)

  • An antinuke rally in Tokyo commemorates five years since the accident. MCAN organizes weekly demonstrations, and this was the 187th in the series. The group said that 6,000 people took part, however some news sources say that only “dozens” attended. The two main topics of protest were to not restart any reactors and support for the people of Fukushima. A few of the protesters were Tepco employees. One of them fueled the antinuclear rumor-mill by saying, "Five years have passed, and there are still people who can't return home, and there are people who are getting sick. http://ajw.asahi.com/article/behind_news/social_affairs/AJ201603120026 -- http://mainichi.jp/english/articles/20160312/p2a/00m/0na/006000c -- http://www.ibtimes.co.uk/japan-2011-earthquake-tsunami-anti-nuclear-protesters-march-fifth-anniversary-1548983 -- http://www.ibtimes.co.uk/japan-2011-earthquake-tsunami-anti-nuclear-protesters-march-fifth-anniversary-1548983

March 10, 2016

Please excuse the lateness of this posting. The Japanese Press has obsessed on yesterday’s Court Injunction which stopped operation of Takahama units #3&4. It has not only the lead story with most major outlets, and the number of side-bar articles is huge, so there has been little or no Fukushima news. In a few other news outlets, there has been a lot of good stuff specific to Fukushima…some of it really good…which is all-but ignored by Press outlets that fixate on Takahama. As a result, we will break this unusually-long Update into two parts: first will be the important, mostly good news concerning Fukushima, followed by an overview of coverage relative to Takahama.

A. Fukushima and related News…

  • A team of experts from four universities conclude that the Fukushima evacuation was not justified. The team consists of experts from City University in London, Manchester University, the Open University and Warwick University. Team head, Professor Phillip Thomas, said “We judged that no one should have been relocated in Fukushima and it could be argued this was a kneejerk reaction. It did more harm than good. An awful lot of disruption has been caused.” A second finding was that the financial impact of the evacuation was up to 150 times greater than what might be judged as rational. Another says Tokyo failed to consider the physical and psychological effects of their actions, leading to more than 1,000 evacuation-related deaths. Further, the fact that prolonged separation from home and hearth causes a significant fraction of evacuees to never wish to return, was overlooked. Thomas argues that governments should carry out a careful assessment before ordering a prolonged “relocation”. In addition, he would like to see more real-time information available to the public on radiation levels in order to avoid hysteria. Funding for the study came from Britain’s Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council. http://www.japantoday.com/category/national/view/fukushima-relocations-were-unjustified-kneejerk-reaction-uk-academics?utm_campaign=jt_newsletter&utm_medium=email&utm_source=jt_newsletter_2016-03-10_PM  

  • Radiation exposures around F. Daiichi have dropped 65%. The Nuclear Regulation Authority routinely monitors radiation within an 80km radius from helicopters. The first such survey was in October, 2011. This was originally used to verify the efficacy of the extent of the evacuation. Areas with readings that extrapolated to 20 millisieverts per year or more, were considered to have warranted evacuation. The investigation has been run annually, ever since. The aerial survey run in October of last year revealed that there has been an average 65% decrease in exposure levels over the past four years. More than 80% of the drop is attributed to the passage of time, since radioactivity decreases as time passes. Professor Yuichi Onda, University of Tsukuba, says other reasons include isotopes sinking into the soil and decontamination efforts. http://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/en/news/20160311_04/

  • More than half of Naraha’s population is going home. Six months ago the evacuation order for the town was lifted. The latest Reconstruction Agency data shows that 7.6% of the original 7,000 person population have returned home. In addition, another 34.7% say the plan to return after all recovery plans have been realized, and some 8.4% say they will go back before then. Thus, 50.7% now say they have either returned home, or planning to return home, compared to 45.7% in October, 2014. http://www.fukushimaminponews.com/news.html?id=640

  • The chance of catching a fish off Fukushima’s coast with above-limit Cesium is almost zero. The finding was published in the journal, Proceedings of the National Academy of Science. The team of researchers was Japanese, headed by Hiroshi Okamura of the Fisheries Research Agency. They found the overall risk of contamination exceeding the standard has steadily dropped since the nuke accident, and is now almost zero percent when marine and freshwater fishes were taken together. The Japanese standard is 100 Becquerels per kilogram. They also found that the probability of catching a marine fish with greater than 20 Bq/kg was also almost zero, but 7.5% for freshwater game species. http://www.fukushimaminponews.com/news.html?id=638

  • No radioactive cesium was found in Fukushima meals for the second straight year. The study, conducted by Co-op Fukushima, tested home-cooked meals made with locally-grown products and regular tap water. The meals were prepared by 100 residents of Fukushima Prefecture. Due to these results, the Co-op concluded that the probability of ingesting radioactive cesium in Fukushima meals is “extremely low”. The Agricultural Ministry hopes these results will persuade the 12 nations that have varying sorts of bans on Japanese foods, to reconsider. http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2016/03/09/national/five-years-tests-find-no-radioactive-cesium-fukushima-meals/#.VuAerZBf0dV

  • A cattle ranch has been open inside the F. Daiichi exclusion zone as a “protest”, since the nuke accident. “Ranch Hope” is in Namie, about nine miles from F. Daiichi; well-inside the infamous no-go zone. Owner Masami Yoshizawa has tended his prize beef cattle since the accident, despite pressure from Tokyo to slaughter the animals. He feels his efforts protest the government’s attempts to cover-up the impact of the nuke accident on the surrounding environment, "An effort to eliminate a negative reputation is nothing but a cover-up… We'll stay here at the Ranch of Hope, and keep sending our message." Yoshizawa fled his ranch when Tokyo ordered everyone to evacuate, but returned a few weeks later to find that 200 of the 330 animals in his herd had died, of starvation. He then pledged, "I said I was not going to let any more cows die on my ranch." Tokyo has tried to block feed transports the force the rancher to kill his stock. However, the towns of Namie and Minamisoma, which border the property, have literally looked the other way. His cattle now number the pre-accident level of 330. He and his animals are hale and hearty. http://www.cnsnews.com/news/article/rancher-near-fukushima-tending-herd-act-defiance  (Comment – Associated Press reporter Mari Yamaguchi tries hard to make the report negative, in keeping with the Press outlet’s historically-antinuclear agenda. But, the facts show that remaining in the exclusion zone - defying government mandates - is not a demonstrable health hazard to anyone or anything.)

  • Still no Fukushima contamination on the North American Pacific coastline. Fukushima InFORM researchers have announced that samples of seawater from the British Columbia coast, mostly taken in October and November, contain no detectible Cs-134; the unmistakable indicator of Fukushima contamination. Meanwhile, off-shore waters indicate a slow, continuous rise in Cs-137, which suggests that the main body of the low concentration Fukushima plume is getting closer to British Columbia. http://fukushimainform.ca/2016/03/08/march-2016-informal-update/

  • A former Tokyo official “blasts” PM Abe, the NRA and Tepco concerning nuclear safety. Yukio Edano was then-PM Naoto Kan’s Cabinet chief during the Fukushima accident. He is now Secretary General of the deposed Democratic Party of Japan. He says that the nation’s new nuclear safety regulations are not as good as they have been touted, “The government explanation is mistaken. The regulations have not won international recognition as the world’s toughest.” As for PM Abe’s support of nuke restarts, he charges Abe with shirking his responsibility as Prime Minister. Edano says there are no proven emergency evacuation plans, so restarts should not be allowed. In response, current Cabinet Chief Yoshida Suga said that Edano’s criticisms were “way off the mark”. As for Tepco, he argues that the recent discovery of an overlooked meltdown criterion in the company emergency manual is condemnable. Edano asserts that Tepco hid the truth, and the company “doesn’t take responsibility like it should.” http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2016/03/09/national/face-of-government-in-fukushima-aftermath-blasts-abe-push-for-nuclear-power/#.VuBCM5Bf0dV

  • Tokyo’s chief nuke watchdog appeases Japan’s large antinuclear demographic. Nuclear Regulation Authority Chair Shunichi Tanaka says nukes passing his agency’s screenings for restart is “not enough” to insure safety. He urges surrounding communities to increase their vigilance and not drop their guard once a nuke resumes operation. Tanaka cautions against Japan’s new, more-stringent regulations promoting a new “safety myth”. He asserts, “If they [nuclear utilities] are to establish a new safety myth, it would be better to cancel nuclear power.” Tanaka also continues to doubt the efficacy of the ice wall barrier being frozen around the four damaged units at F. Daiichi. He believes the wall “will not essentially help reduce risk”. Tanaka makes one positive statement, saying that rural decontamination work has been effective and should allow people to return home. http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2016/03/08/national/japans-nuclear-watchdog-chief-urges-safety-vigilance-government-utilities/#.Vt71XZBf0dV

  • Tokyo wants to make hydrogen fuel by using geothermal and wind power in Fukushima Prefecture. The electricity from the two renewable sources is planned to be used to power large-scale electrolysis of seawater that generates hydrogen. The fuel will be shipped to Tokyo and supply fuel cell vehicles to be used during the 2020 Olympic Games. The government adopted the plan at a meeting of Cabinet officials on Tuesday. The technology for the project may come from Japanese and/or foreign companies familiar with seawater electrolysis. http://jen.jiji.com/jc/eng?g=eco&k=2016030800738

  • The idled Kashiwazaki-Kashiwa unit #5 had a minor control rod incident on Tuesday. During routine maintenance on the reactor’s control rod drive systems when one of the 185 fission-dampening devices moved a little, causing an alarm condition. The alarm cleared within a minute, indicating that the control rod had returned to its fully-inserted position. Station owner Tepco dutifully reported the unusual event to the NRA. The K-K station has seven Boiling Water reactor units. http://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/en/news/20160308_29/

  • Greenpeace goes “FUDing” over Chernobyl again. In a clear attempt to continue the promotion of radiophobia using rhetoric steeped in Fear, Uncertainty, and Doubt (FUD), the international antinuke propaganda group reports that “…people continue to eat and drink foods with dangerously high radiation levels.” This conclusion is purported as rational because Chernobyl contamination is still detectible, especially in forests. The group reports, "It is in what they eat and what they drink. It is in the wood they use for construction and burn to keep warm." Greenpeace also says the Ukraine is going broke, so it "no longer has sufficient funds to finance the programs needed to properly protect the public... this means the radiation exposure of people still living in the contaminated areas is likely increasing. And just as this contamination will be with them for decades to come, so will the related impacts on their health. Thousands of children, even those born 30 years after Chernobyl, still have to drink radioactively contaminated milk." The report makes the same sort of scare-mongering claims with respect to Fukushima. Greenpeace continues to propagate the false notion that if radiation is detectible – even at the most trivial levels – it must be branded as highly radioactive. http://www.msn.com/en-us/news/world/locals-eating-radioactive-food-30-years-after-chernobyl-greenpeace-tests/ar-AAgyhry

II. Japan’s Press obsesses with the Takahama injunction…

  • An operation estoppel order was rendered against Takahama station on Wednesday. The injunction was effective immediately Thus, Takahama unit #3, in full commercial operation, had to be shuttered. Shutdown of the unit was completed today. The court, though, is not one from the Takahama plant’s home prefecture; Fukui. Rather, it is the Otsu district court in neighboring Shiga Prefecture. Presiding judge Yoshihiko Yamamoto said, “Kansai Electric has not fully explained its measures for ensuring the safety of the reactors, despite continuing concerns about such issues as measures to tackle a severe accident.” He further argued that Japan’s new regulations were not credible. NRA Chair Shunichi Tanaka responded by defending the new regulations, stressing that they are based on the lessons learned from the Fukushima accident. Lawyers for the 29 Shiga plaintiffs that filed the case called the decision “fair, calm, and wise,” and attacked the NRA’s safety standards as not sufficient to insure safety. They also questioned Kansai Electric Company’s safety culture. When the decision was announced, Kansai Electric immediately said, “We will promptly take steps to file an objection and will do our best to assert and prove the safety of the Takahama-3 and -4 NPPs so as to obtain the lifting of the temporary injunction as soon as possible.” Later, the company stated that the court must not have understood the issue they were adjudicating, and the decision rendered was entirely unacceptable. Meanwhile, a Shiga antinuclear group said that the Injunction was reasonable because an accident at Takahama would exposed the public to radiation and contaminate Lake Biwa; a source of drinking water for the region. They also claimed that no effective evacuation plan exists for the few hundred Shiga residents within the 30km Emergency Planning Zone. The antinukes have filed their own lawsuit, which is pending in the same court. Meanwhile, the governors of the two prefectures reacted to the injunction in very different fashions. Fukui Governor Issei Nishikawa says the decision is extremely regrettable, and inconsistent court decisions make host communities to nukes worry about their future. He emphasized that restart decisions are the responsibility of the central government, but it is the combined obligation of Tokyo, the NRA, and nuke utilities to educate the nation so that the current level of confusion can be overcome. On the other hand, Shiga Governor Taizo Mikazuki said the injunction places emphasis on nuclear safety, and sends the message that Tokyo needs to take public opposition seriously.  http://www.jaif.or.jp/en/otsu-district-court-orders-halt-to-operation-of-takahama-3-4-npps/ -- http://jen.jiji.com/jc/eng?g=eco -- http://the-japan-news.com/news/article/0002800291 -- http://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/en/news/20160309_28/  -- http://abcnews.go.com/International/wireStory/court-orders-japanese-reactor-shut-2nd-offline-37510600 -- http://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/en/news/20160309_36/

  • The injunction gained considerable traction with other international Press outlets on Wednesday. Reuters reported that the decision could potentially throw the government's energy policy into disarray. AFP News said the injunction will be a blow to PM Abe’s government policy on nukes. Bloomberg Business reports the decision undermines the promotion of nuke restarts. http://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/en/news/20160309_33/ --  http://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2016-03-09/court-isues-injunction-to-prevent-operation-of-takahama-reactors

  • The Otsu Court questions the NRA’s new nuke safety standards. Presiding Judge Yamamoto charged that the NRA should not allow restarts until the cause of the Fukushima accident has been established, which he believes is still lacking, “The investigation into the cause of the nuclear accident at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant is still under way. Finding the cause of the accident is necessary to prevent a recurrence. If the NRA’s stance is to not pay attention to that point, I cannot help but say that I have major concerns.” He believes the tsunami might not have been the cause of the accident, and until a detailed internal examination of all damaged units at F. Daiichi is completed, the reason for the accident cannot be known with certainty. Yamamoto also attacked the NRA’s regulations and safety philosophy, “It is necessary to sincerely face the mistake that has been repeated every time a disaster occurs — saying that the disaster ‘went beyond our assumptions’. He asserted that the NRA should draw up safety standards “based on the goal of preventing reactors from reaching critical conditions even when a severe accident occurs.” He also charged that nukes should remain idled until “concrete, visible” evacuation plans are in place. Yamamoto feels Tokyo is violating public trust by allowing restarts while plans are incomplete. The Secretariat for the NRA responded, “The court apparently wants to say that the new safety standards are insufficient, but it does not provide clear reasons for that on some points. I cannot understand what logic the court used to reach the conclusion.” http://the-japan-news.com/news/article/0002802038

  • The Otsu Court decision has given new energy to antinuclear activists. Lawyer Kenichi Ido says the injunction could serve as a “tailwind” for similar moves by antinukes living in prefectures neighboring those hosting nukes, “It will no longer be an obstacle for plaintiffs not to be residents of prefectures that house a nuclear power plant.” He added that the ruling "is different from previous decisions because it calls on Kansai Electric Power Co. to verify how it reinforced the designs and operations of the nuclear plant and how the utility responded to requirements in light of the Fukushima nuclear disaster."  About a hundred residents of Shiga Prefecture gathered together and were literally ecstatic over the injunction. One Shiga resident hailed it as a “landmark decision” and “I got goosebumps when I read the (ruling)”. Another said, “I feel as if I’m in heaven.” A third stated, "The reactivation of the Takahama plant disregards the pains of people in Fukushima. It is only natural that the court has made this decision amid the ongoing Fukushima crisis. Today is the best day for me over the past five years (after the accident)." A Fukushima evacuee from Okuma said, “The ruling is good in preventing others from experiencing the same distress as we have." Finally, Iitate Mayor Norio Kanno hailed the Injunction, "It is absolutely necessary to provide sufficient explanations to residents who are concerned about safety regardless of the distance from nuclear plants. In that sense the ruling acknowledged the voices of residents in Shiga Prefecture even though it doesn't host a nuclear power station." http://mainichi.jp/english/articles/20160310/p2a/00m/0na/017000c

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