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Fukushima Accident Updates (Blog)

The internet's top source of objective Fukushima News. No "spins"...just summaries of the news reports in the Japanese Press. Often called the  Fukushima nuclear disaster, the Fukushima accident is a major topic around the world. (Updates are posted twice weekly; Monday and Thursday)

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March 26. 2015

  • Fukushima Prefecture dismissed F. Daiichi as a cause of child thyroid cancers. An interim report from the Fukushima Prefectural Government on March 24th stated that the 86 identified cases of thyroid cancer since 2011 were "hardly attributable to the effects of radiation." While reiterating that the exposures were too low to cause the cancers, the report added that no child thyroid cancers have occurred in children under the age of five - the cohort assumed to be the most susceptible to negative radiation health effects.

  • No radioactive Cesium detected with Fukushima students for 3rd straight year. Miharu Town’s children have been monitored since the nuke accident. In 2011, 54 of 1494 students had detectible Cesium contamination in or on them. But, since then none have shown ay. This year, 1,265 of the students were checked by a team from Tokyo’s Graduate School of Science, and none contained detectible internal Cesium. Team leader Ryugo Hayano said, “I guess it is now clear that it is fine (for residents) to live their daily lives the way they did prior to the Great East Japan Earthquake and that there is no need to be overly worried.” 23% of the families drink only bottled water and 16% said they do not eat Fukushima produce to avoid any possible ingestion. Hanayo implored, “I believe many families have been restricting their daily living (due to concerns about radioactive contamination), but I hope they can use (the test results) as reference and realize they can live more freely than they have been.” Miharu borders the government-mandated evacuation zone.

  • Tokyo auditors urge Tepco to seek compensation for failed F. Daiichi projects. Specifically, those associated with decontaminating and storing waste water. The government’s Board of Audit says that about $1.5 billion has been spent on systems that have either been unsuccessful, or not operated up to expectations. One system cited is the first Cesium removal system supplied by Areva in 2011, which operated for three months and treated about 77,000 tons of water; much less than what was needed to keep up with the buildup. Another problem was salt-removal systems supplied by Hitachi, Toshiba, and Areva which worked for less than six weeks. A third item concerned the bolted-together storage tanks, some of which leaked many tons of contaminated water into the surrounding environment. Many of the tanks have been replaced, and many more will be replaced by welded-together tanks as soon as possible. Yet another cited problem is the underground storage tanks used in 2013, supplied by Maeda Corp., which leaked and had to be drained. A fifth item concerns the inability to stop trench water outflow from the turbine building basements by freezing, using technology supplied by Tepco subsidiary Tokyo Power Technology. The Board says Tepco should pursue measures to gain repayment for the troubled projects and analyze the causes of the problems so they won’t happen again. --

  • Rural radioactive waste shipments begin in Futaba Town. Futaba is one of F. Daiichi’s two host communities, with Okuma. Tokyo plans to store all accumulated rural low level waste on a 16km2 site overlapping both towns, adjacent to the nuke station. Shipments to Okuma started March 13th. The delay with Futaba was due to a request to delay shipments while residents visit ancestral graves at the spring equinox.

  • Minamisoma declares it is “breaking” with nuclear power. Part of the city, north of F. Daiichi, is inside the 20km state-mandated evacuation zone. Thousands of its residents are now refugees. The City declaration states, "The nuclear accident forced more than 60,000 residents to evacuate and many lost their lives in the process. Such a nuclear disaster should never be allowed to happen again."

  • A group of business leaders say 20% of Japan’s electrical supplies should be nuclear. Officials with the Japan Association of Corporate Executives say nuclear power will be needed as a base-load energy source for some time to come. They add it's unlikely that renewable resources such as wind and solar power will supply more than 30 percent of energy needs by 2030. Thus, more than 70% must come from nuclear, hydro, and fossil-fueled sources.

  • Two nukes get negative earthquake news from Tokyo. The Nuclear Regulation Authority affirmed their previous decision that the geologic seam (fault) running below Tsuruga unit #2 is “an active fault that can move if it is pulled by the Urasoko Fault near it.” Japan Atomic Power, the plant’s owner, disagrees and says they will apply for restart, regardless. The NRA also said a fracture zone near the Higashidori station in Aomori Prefecture also appears active. Plant Owner Tohoku Electric Co. has already applied for restart safety screenings, so they will likely argue the fault is not active.

  • Taiwan says many Japanese food products from the areas around Fukushima have been mislabeled. It seems the original labels were removed and relabeled to make it seem the foods came from parts of Japan not near Fukushima. Apparently, the foods came from one of the five prefectures currently listed for import restrictions: Chiba (part of the Tokyo megalopolis), Gumma, Fukushima, Ibaraki, and Tochigi. Nineteen of the suspect foods come from areas that were exposed to detectible levels of contamination from F. Daiichi. Nearly 2,400 kilograms of products are under investigation. Products found in violation of the law have been pulled from the shelves.

  • The Pope compares Fukushima to the Tower of Babel. According to Takeo Okada, archbishop of Tokyo, Pope Francis said, "Mankind can become arrogant and create a society convenient to them, driven by an egotistical motive. Acts thought to help mankind are ending up destroying themselves." The statement was made in conjunction with a message about the production and export of arms and “how massive wealth is created through them”. No formal issuance of the statements has been made.

March 23, 2015

  • Tepco releases preliminary Muon images of F. Daiichi unit #1. Though blurry and difficult to visualize, the two Muon tomography units have separate images showing that most, if not all of the unit #1 core melted. Detector #1 shows no evidence of any of the melted then re-solidified material (corium) in the core barrel, while detector #2 indicates that some of the corium might still be there. The shape of the dense, steel-reinforced concrete Primary Containment Vessel and the reactor vessel side-walls are more clearly shown in both images. The Tepco handout says the relocation of the mass from its undamaged location agrees with prior Tepco computer simulations. However, the two images give no indication as to where the re-solidified corium might be currently located. Japan Times reports a Hosei University professor saying the images do not show the bottom of the reactor vessel, where the corium might have pooled and cooled. However, many Japanese news outlets are touting the images as proof of the core having melted completely through the bottom of the reactor pressure vessel’s bottom head and accumulated on the concrete floor below. There is nothing in the Tepco release to support this conjecture. -- -- -- --

  • Fukushima students find their radiation levels are normal. Five students at Fukushima High School were baffled that foreign teens could not believe life in Fukushima was back to normal. They contacted more than 200 students and teachers at websites in Japan, France, Belarus and Poland. Everyone had the same dosimetry as that used in Fukushima. Readings were taken between June and October, 2014. Background readings were extrapolated to annual exposures. Fukushima Prefecture ranged from 0.63 to 0.97 millisieverts per year, while France, Belarus, and Poland ranged between 0.51 and 1.17 mSv/yr.  Within the prefecture, Fukushima City was 0.86 mSv/yr, while Nihonmatsu was 0.97 mSv/yr. Nihonmatsu borders the F. Daiichi exclusion zone. Ena, in Gifu Prefecture, is about 600 kilometers from Fukushima City and had a reading of 0.87 mSv/yr. One of the Fukushima students stated that the differences were insignificant.

  • Tokyo raises the ceiling on Fukushima loans to $75 billion. Previously, the limit was about $50 billion. The funds are being issued through the Nuclear Damage Compensation and Decommissioning Facilitation Corporation. The total includes $1 billion in interest that is expected to build up by 2044. To date, roughly $45 billion has been disbursed on evacuee compensation. In addition, another $1.6 billion has been spent on F. Daiichi site cleanup. The government hopes to recover about $20 billion through sale of Tokyo-owned Tepco stock, once the company’s share price sufficiently recovers. Japan’s Board of Audit says the current stock value of about $10 per share will have to double to recoup the needed funds. The Board says, “The government should give sufficient consideration to ensuring the recovery of the state funds and boosting Tepco’s corporate value” to reduce the current taxpayer burden. It could take up to 30 years for Tokyo to be repaid all monies loaned to Tepco for evacuee compensation, site recovery, and rural decontamination. Tepco repaid about $415 million in 2014, and at that rate it will be 2044 before all monies will be recovered. However, continuing last year’s rate of repayment is contingent on future restarts of units at Kashiwazaki-Kariwa station. -- --

  • Tokyo has removed 20 food items from the list of items to be checked for radioactive Cesium. Those removed included broccoli, plums, and tea. The removals officially begin in April. There will be 45 items remaining on the list. Some, but not all, beef and milk will be tested depending on where the cattle were raised and what they are being fed.

March 19, 2015

  • A man has lived in the F. Daiichi “no-go” zone for more than two years. Naoto Matsumura defied government orders in 2012 and visited his Tomioka home to check on his farm’s dogs. He was struck by the plight of the abandoned neighborhood pets, and decided to remain and tend to all of them; including ducks, pigs ostriches, cattle, and a pony. The animals thrive today because of Matsumura. A Tokyo doctor has examined the man and says Matsumura’s body has the most contamination in Japan. He has no radiation-related health problems. Matsumura says, “The animals and I are staying here.” Because there are no laws forcing him to leave, he comes and goes from the no-go zone at will.  (Questions – Why has there been nothing in the major Japanese Press outlets about Matsumura? Why does the vast majority of the Japanese Press ignore the 53 families also living in the no-go zone, as reported here on March 16th?)

  • All fish caught outside F. Daiichi’s port continue to be safe for consumption. Six species of food fish were examined in late February. 70% showed no detectible Cesium-134 and 40% had no detectible Cs-137. Combined concentrations were non-detectible in 40%. The highest combined concentration of the Cesium isotopes was 66 Becquerels per kilogram. Japan’s safety limit for consumption is 100 Bq/kg.

  • Sixty percent of Fukushima Prefecture believes Japan is forgetting the nuke accident. This is 7% more than a similar survey in 2012. Specifically, 59.3% said they felt public memory was wearing thin with time, indicating that the government should do more to keep the crisis fresh in everyone’s mind. 61.3% said misunderstandings about radiation are continuing and 71.6% said the current understanding of the situation by the public is incorrect. Nearly 82% said there appears to be no end in sight for misplaced radiation concerns outside the prefecture.

  • Five idled Japanese nuclear units will be decommissioned. The Kansai Electric Co. (Kepco) board decided to scrap units #1 and #2 at the Mihama station, and Japan Atomic Power did the same for unit #1 at Tsuruga station, all of which are in Fukui Prefecture. The other two are Kyushu Electric’s Genkai unit #1 in Saga Prefecture and Shimane #1 in Matsue Prefecture. Although most of the Press coverage blames the decisions on the age of the units being greater than the recommended 40-year licensing limit, it seems that all five were actually victims of economics. Each has a maximum electrical output of less than 560 megawatts, which is small by today’s standards for base-load generators. The cost of upgrades needed to meet Japan’s new, more-rigid safety regulations would be more than the anticipated profits of operating any of the five units for 20 years. At present, licensing can be extended once for a 20 year period. In addition, the post-Fukushima national effort to conserve electricity makes the units unnecessary at peak demand. Kepco president Makato Yagi said, “We decided to decommission Mihama’s Nos. 1 and 2 reactors after making a comprehensive assessment of the technology needed for safety measures and construction costs.” -- --  Despite the obvious cause being economics, most of Japan’s largely antinuclear Press says all five are so old that they are not capable of being refurbished under the new regulations. They also add that the decisions were political, pointing to pressure from the current government under Shinzo Abe. Japan Times says, “By picking off aging reactors and carrying out safety screening of newer ones before resuming operations, it [the Abe administration] hopes to win-over the public, which according to opinion polls remains wary.” Mainichi Shimbun echoes, “By closing at least some reactors and carrying out safety screening of every reactor before it is allowed to go back on line, the government aims to reassure a Japanese public still wary of nuclear power’s risks.” --

  • Nursing homes should shelter the elderly during a nuke accident. This is the opinion of Ken Takagi, head of a Nahara facility at the time of the Tokyo-mandated evacuation order. Speaking to a UN disaster preparedness conference in Sendai, Takagi said, "There is an option to not evacuate, but to hunker down instead." He says that some of the residents he accompanied as they evacuated from location to location fell ill, and others suffered early death some time later. Takagi recounted the chaotic events that happened when moving patients as soon as the evacuation order was invoked on March 12, 2011. He says he has fretted over the decision to comply with the order ever since because merely placing the frail elderly in a vehicle for movement can be dangerous. He pointed to another nursing home within the exclusion, in Iitate, zone that did not immediately evacuate and subsequently moved the patients in a safe, orderly fashion. Unlike the Nahara experience, the “Iitate Home” has not shown elevated death rates over the years since 3/11/11. He concluded, “I think the best way to protect (facility users') lives is to block off exposure from radiation outside the facility and keep the users there until a safe evacuation route is secured, then move them quickly."

  • There’s a new antinuclear booklet on Fukushima evacuees. It was distributed at the UN disaster preparedness conference in Sendai City, which concluded on Wednesday.
    The 70-page "10 Lessons from Fukushima" was assembled by the antinuclear Japan Center for International Cooperation (JANIC) to document what JANIC feels are challenging Fukushima evacuees. JANIC Chair Masaaki Ohashi said, "We must share the knowledge and experiences of Fukushima. We want the residents of nations that will be building nuclear reactors to be familiar with the contents of this booklet." The booklet says people must flee areas threatened with imminent danger; people affected by disasters have the right to a comprehensive health examination and disclosure of information; local agricultural, fisheries and forest products be carefully checked for contamination to ensure their safety; complete decontamination is not possible; and how taxpayers will bear compensation costs. The booklet has Japanese, English, Chinese, and Korean versions.

  • Completion of the F. Daiichi “ice-wall” is further delayed. The 1.5 kilometer-long project will surround the four damaged F. Daiichi units and make an essentially impermeable shield against groundwater intrusion, all the way down to the underlying bedrock. Installation of the in-ground freezing units was supposed to begin this month, but has been postponed for about 30 days due to the development of upgraded safety procedures following the deaths of two Fukushima workers earlier this year. Further, Tepco needs to ask the Nuclear Regulation Authority for permission to begin, which has yet to happen.

  • The Sendai nuke restarts move a step closer. On Wednesday, Tokyo’s nuke watchdog approved “detailed design change” documentation for unit #1. The next step is for owner Kyushu Electric to apply for an NRA site inspection of the systems affected by the design upgrades. Kyushu also wants to submit the same sort of design-change documentation for unit #2 and the common systems between the two, sometime in April. Kepco wants the common systems analyzed first.

March 16, 2015

  • 53 families continue to live inside the Fukushima exclusion (no-go) zone. Some are located inside the most highly-contaminated areas. None of the families live in areas where even overnight stays are sanctioned. The law does not stipulate punishment for ignoring the evacuation or overnight stay orders. The families have been repeatedly told to leave by government officials, but they have ignored the requests. While living in the no-go zone is difficult, it is not impossible. Some residents say they have stayed to tend to livestock.

  • Tepco suspects the latest F. Daiichi leak comes from station soils. Specifically, the containment barrier surrounding fifty-two 1,000 ton wastewater storage tanks. A routine area monitoring survey detected an elevated radiation level outside the barrier. It was next found that the water level inside the barrier had dropped a few inches; indicating that up to 750 tons of mildly contaminated water had escaped the enclosure. Subsequently, a few of the seams in the barrier’s plastic covering were found to be leaking. One of the enclosure’s tanks holding highly contaminated water leaked in 2012 and about 100 tons soaked into the enclosed soil. F. Daiichi workers scraped up many tons of soil and felt they had removed all of the entrained contamination. Now, Tepco says they may have failed to get all of the 2012contamination. An official said, "There is no leakage from the storage tanks, and the underground water will not flow into the ocean." -- (Tepco’s Press handout of March 12)

  • Tepco says at least 90% of F. Daiichi wastewater will be processed by the end of May. This, plus continued cleanup of contaminated solid debris, will reduce exposure levels at the property boundary of the station below 1 millisievert per year. In fact, the 1 mSv/yr goal should be reached by the end of March. 90% of the wastewater falls into three general categories: water already fully processed, stored waters that need treatment, and already-processed waters containing detectible isotopes. About 200,000 tons have yet to receive any kind of treatment, and 20,000 tons have high levels of seawater which must be processed slowly to insure all contaminants are removed. -- --

  • Radiation levels in 88% of Fukushima Prefecture are below Japan’s decontamination standard. The standard is 0.23 micro-sieverts per hour. There are 78 inland areas that have been monitored by the prefecture. Only four were initially below the national limit created after the Fukushima accident. Now, 62 are below standard. Along the coast, only 22 of the 302 monitored locations remain above standard. The coastal monitoring includes locations in Futaba and Okuma; F. Daiichi’s host communities. The Nuclear Regulation Authority has another 3,661 monitoring locations. 88% of the NRA locations are less than 0.23 mSv/hr.  Monitors take readings in residential areas, parks, schools, and government offices. Release of this information has relieved many worried residents. One man says, “When I hear that radiation levels are lower than the standard in nearly 90% of the spots, I feel relieved.”

  • Many brokers say the public is not convinced Fukushima-produced food is safe. All rice and 58 species of food-fish have been cleared for marketing. While some of the rice can find buyers, most large-market brokers steer clear. Why? One Tokyo broker said, “Even if a product is of good quality, many consumers will avoid it when they hear it comes from Fukushima.” The head of Soma-Futaba Fisheries Cooperative Association, Hiroyuki Sato said he felt the buying public was about to shift gears until recent contaminated rainwater reports hit the Press. He said, “We’d been conducting strict checks and confirming that our products were safe, and then this happened. Now consumers might become reluctant to buy from us again.” Most dealers must sell at well-below market prices in order to move their product to smaller-market buyers. What is frustrating is that contamination levels range between non-detectible to barely detectible. But it makes no difference. Fear of radiation, even the mere possibility of radiation, pervades the Japanese buying public.

  • Non-destructive, inexpensive Cesium-only food monitoring is now possible. The technological breakthrough was announced by RIKEN (Japan’s largest comprehensive research institution) and G-Tech Corporation. The device is dubbed LANFOS, standing for “Large Area Non-destructive Food Sampler.” Currently, food testing requires grinding up the material before analysis. The new device allows the food to be analyzed without mincing it. Also, the system distinguishes Cesium emissions from the radioactivity released by other contaminants. In order to do all this, new scintillation detectors were created that are sufficiently sensitive and relatively inexpensive. LANFOS technology will analyze packages of food without destroying their contents, enabling the inspection of all packaged foods before shipment.

  • Rural contaminated waste transfer has begun. Soil and debris with radioactive particulates are being moved from several locations inside the prefecture to the temporary storage facility in Okuma Town near F. Daiichi. The planned interim facility straddles the towns of Okuma and Futaba.  The Environment Ministry intended to start transfers to the two towns at the same time. However, shipment to Futaba was postponed because Tokyo was unable to make timely arrangements with the town. So far, only enough property has been secured to hold 20,000 cubic meters of the trash. The entire 16 km2 facility is designed to hold 22 million m3. Some Okuma residents don’t like what is going on. One man doesn’t trust the government to move the material after 30 years. A woman says that her home is near the planned facility, so she does not want to back. --

  • The number of Fukushima’s “disaster-related” deaths continues to rise. The prefecture has had 1,867 deaths related to the calamities of 3/11/11, while Iwate has had 450 and Miyagi 909. Only Fukushima has more “related” deaths than the number actually caused by the massive quake/tsunami (1,603). Fukushima officials say the disparity may be due to the prolonged nuclear evacuation, which has not been the case in the other two prefectures. A death is recognized as disaster-related if it is deemed by a panel of doctors, lawyers, and other experts, to have a causal relationship with the quake, tsunami or nuclear disaster. Each identified death allows for about $50,000 in compensation to the families of the deceased.

  • A health survey on Fukushima workers has only 35% participation. More than 2,000 were initially wanted by the Radiation Effects Research Foundation, but only 704 will take part. The Foundation says some of the poor response (~3%) is being unable to find many who are migrant construction workers. About 28% declined participation, either because contractors would not pay them for lost time or centers for the exams are too far away. Another 18,000 will be asked to participate beginning in April. The 20,000 worked at F. Daiichi between March and December of 2011. During that period, Tokyo raised the worker limit on exposure from 100 to 250 millisieverts to facilitate labor tasks. The Foundation will try to determine the health effects on the workers to see if cancer rates are elevated or not.

  • Many voluntary evacuees and some from locations where evacuation orders have been lifted are unable to get alternative housing compensation. They can continue to be compensated for approved evacuation housing, but if they want to move to larger housing due to increasing family size, they are being rebuffed. One woman in Kawasaki who fled from Fukushima City, doesn’t want to go home because radiation levels are greater than 1 mSv/year. She wanted to move to a bigger Kawasaki property to accommodate her family, but governments of Kanagawa Prefecture, Fukushima Prefecture, and the Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare, rejected her alternative housing request. They had to relent, however, when her landlord said her rental contract would not be renewed. But, the government will only compensate her for approved evacuation housing, which she says is less then the new rent.

  • PM Shinzo Abe is criticized for his presentation to the UN conference on disaster risk. The conference is being held in Sendai, Miyagi Prefecture. Sendai gained a modicum of international infamy with the real-time videos of the tsunami on March 11. 2011. While the focus of the UN’s meeting concerns natural calamities, some Japanese criticized Abe for making only a brief mention of the Fukushima accident. Namie Mayor Tamotsu Baba said, “[Abe’s speech] was no good at all. He may not have wanted to give negative impressions [of Japan].” Still others speculated that the PM wanted to avoid the ongoing radioactive wastewater issue. Meanwhile, international speakers focused on the topics announced for the conference; natural disasters and preparing for them. French Minister Annick Girardin stressed that climate change is making the situation increasingly critical, saying, “[The Sendai Conference is] above all a call for lucidity because it is no longer possible to ignore climate chaos”. Other speakers (including Abe) called for improved disaster warning systems and increased female leadership in the effort.

  • (Comment - An international group of activists will publish an unfortunate booklet on Fukushima. The Global Citizen’s Conference on Fukushima was held this week in Fukushima City and has drafted the booklet called “10 Lessons from Fukushima – Reducing risks and protecting communities from nuclear disasters.” In it, many pure speculations and fabrications are presented as factual, including the false claims that many secret incinerators are being built by Tokyo to burn radioactive waste and thyroid cancer rates in Fukushima’s children are increasing. It adds that Tokyo has been reluctant to tell the truth about Fukushima because of the UN disaster conference. It seems the booklet will be published by Church World Service. --

March 12, 2015

Japan’s Press has posted a massive number of Fukushima 4th anniversary reports. Most of the reports are negative, which is to be expected from the plethora of Japanese news outlets that admit to being decidedly antinuclear. But one news outlet outside Japan has posted a complete fabrication. It is to be found on James Corbett’s (of Corbett Report fame) “Fukushima Updates” page. It copies a news posting out of Iran which openly states “A fresh report in Japan shows the number of deaths by radiation from the country’s Fukushima nuclear power plant disaster in 2011 increased by 18 percent last year.” (bold-face added for emphasis)  There have been exactly zero deaths in Japan as a result of the radiation from F. Daiichi! A retraction by Corbett’s Fukushima Update page and Iran’s Press TV is an ethical imperative. I expect neither will happen.

A summation of 4th anniversary reports was posted yesterday. Rather than indulge in unnecessary redundancy, please go to the following link…

Now, here is some current news concerning Fukushima Daiichi…

  • Tepco reports that 750 tons of mildly radioactive rainwater “may have seeped into the ground”. The company says that any of it having reached the ocean is “unlikely”. It appears that heavy rains resulted in the protective sealing of a dike around several storage tank coffer dams to leak around the seams in the sealing material. Inspections for possible tank leaks inside the diked area found nothing. Thus, all of the liquid that seeped into the ground must have been rainwater. Gross Beta activity of the residual water in the dike, and some puddles that have built up outside the barrier, varied from 150 to 8,300 Becquerels per liter. A minor fraction of the Beta activity is probably Strontium-90. Strontium analysis takes several days, so the actual concentrations are forthcoming. No radioactive Cesium was detected. After sampling, the dike area was drained by pumping the water into a wastewater storage tank. Tepco continues to study the cause of this specific dike’s elevated radioactivity.  The Tepco Press handout, including graphic depictions of the location of the diked-in area, can be found here… Two of the twelve groundwater sampling point around the spill point show increases. One Gross Beta reading is 18,000 Bq/l, and the other is 2,700 Bq/l. All others do not seem to have been affected by the spill.  (Comment - Much of Japan’s largely antinuclear Press is once again blowing this out of proportion. For example, The Mainichi Shimbun dubs the rainwater “highly radioactive” and The Asahi Shimbun calls the incident a “massive leak of rainwater”. Even the usually neutral NHK World has waxed sensational with the headline “Groundwater radiation levels surge after leak”, and the statement that Tepco “does not know yet if the contaminated rainwater has seeped into the Pacific Ocean.”Clearly, the Japanese Press desires to keep Fukushima angst elevated through elaboration designed to exploit FUD…Fear, Uncertainty and Doubt.)

  • Fukushima’s home cooked meals have no detectible radioactive Cesium. Three of the prefecture’s cooperatives tested two days-worth of meals from 100 households, and all were below the detection limit of 1 Bq/kg. The survey has been performed annually since 2011. Over the 4-year period, checks have covered 600 households. In 2011, 10% were found to have detectible Cesium, 4.5% in 2012, and 3% in 2013. A Fukushima Cooperative official said, "Testing by the prefectural government and efforts by producers, among other factors, led to the decrease."

  • The percentage of Iitate’s willing returnees increases. Iitate village is located at the further distance from F. Daiichi in the northwest contamination corridor. The entire community has experienced the Tokyo-mandated evacuation. In 2013, the Reconstruction Agency’s survey showed 21.3% of the residents were willing to return, but in 2014 it rose to 29.4%. 32.5% said they are undecided (down 3.6 points) and 26.5% said they will not return (down 4.3 points) A total of seven evacuated communities were surveyed in 2014, and five revealed the percentage of those wanting to return has increased.

  • Japan’s harmless research reactors were not exempt from the nuclear moratorium. Japan has roughly a dozen of these devices. There are two University reactors at Kinki and Kyoto Universities. They reactors produce so little heat at full power that no cooling systems are needed; in fact, there are no temperature increases in the surrounding room during operation. The Kinki reactor only makes one watt of power, and the Kyoto device 100 watts (a standard incandescent light bulb’s worth). The Tokyo-mandated idling of the reactors has left the universities in a state of bewilderment. One incredulous Kinki University professor said, "It is structurally impossible for a big accident like the one at Fukushima to occur at the Kinki University reactor." Regardless, NRA Chairman Shunichi Tanaka points out that a research reactor is quite different from a normal nuclear reactor. He has called on the agency’s staff to "also think a little bit about pushing the screenings forward". On the other hand, he stresses that safety must always be considered. (Aside – This is quite contradictory considering there is essentially zero chance of a nuclear accident with university reactors. First he says they are quite different from power plant reactors, then he makes a safety plea similar to those made concerning power plant nukes. What is he thinking? A college professor once told me that before making a provocative statement, always engage brain first! Tanaka would be well-served to keep this in mind. – End aside) University reactors are used for academic research and student training in the most-basic of nuclear operation. In addition to cessation of student training, experiments for medical therapies, reactor physics experimentation, and radiation testing have been stopped. Both universities have called for prompt restarts, but the NRA has essentially ignored them. Student training has continued at a great cost by sending them to Kyung Hee University in South Korea. Tetsuo Ito of Kinki University said, "This was the first time for us to do practical training at a nuclear reactor overseas." Computers that simulate the inner workings of a nuclear reactor are, of course, another option. But, Shinsuke Yamanaka, a professor Osaka University, says, "It can't be a substitute for the tension of handling the real thing. Even if we adopt a policy of not promoting nuclear power, universities will still need to produce graduates who work with nuclear energy. I'd like the NRA to conduct its screening with this reality in mind."

  • Japan’s nuke watchdog Chief continues to stoke the fires of fear. This time, NRA Chief Tanaka says, "There have been quite a few accidents and problems at the Fukushima plant in the past year, and we need to face the reality that they are causing anxiety and anger among people in Fukushima. There are numerous risks that could cause various accidents and problems.” He added that he suspects the lessons from Fukushima may fade from memory through the passage of time, saying, “As regulators, we must not forget what we’ve learned from Fukushima.” -- (Comment - one loud antinuclear voice in Japan has already used the Chairman’s words to further fan the flames, as we shall see later in this Update.)

  • Tokyo Electric Co. (Tepco) struggles to recover financial stability. Over the past four years, Tepco has seen its considerable investment in nuclear powered electrical generation lose mightily. Of the six undamaged units in Fukushima Prefecture, the two at F. Daiichi (#5 and #6) will be turned into a training and research facility. The four unharmed units at F. Daini seem unlikely to restart due to severe local public and political outcry. In addition, the seven units at Kashiwazaki-Kariwa station (KK), Niigata Prefecture, have been idled due to the post-accident nuke moratorium. In order to compensate, Tepco restarted old fossil-fueled units, nearly doubling the company’s fuel costs per year. 2012 marked the first time Tepco was “in the red” financially. This spurred significant rate increases and a streamlining of staffing everywhere but with F. Daiichi. Fiscal 2014 was the first year the company showed a profit since 2011. However, a major reason for the profit was due to “make-shift” cost-cutting measures and major delays in long-overdue planned maintenance on the fossil-fueled units. Plus, Tepco will eventually have to begin repaying the subsidies extended by the government to provide the generous monthly compensation payments to Fukushima’s mandated evacuees. Tepco needs startups of at least some of the KK nukes to begin to see light at the end of this dark economic tunnel. With Niigata Governor Hirohiko Izumida’s unwavering dissent towards restarts, Tepco is facing a dire financial future.

  • Tokyo signs a contract with local property owners in Okuma and Futaba. The government needs the land to store the huge amount of rural, detectibly radioactive materials generated through decontamination. While it but a small portion of the 16 square kilometers needed, it is an improvement over what has been the case until now. Roughly 2,400 people own plots inside the future facility, but procurement has not proceeded very well. The landowners want top dollar for their land, and most do not believe the materials will only be there for 30 years, which the government has made a legal commitment. Takashi Sugimoto, 73, an Okuma landowner said, “I’m sure they’re considering this site as a final storage destination for radioactive trash. I can’t trust them, no one can, about what will happen in 30 years’ time.” The Ministry says, “We understand that residents have concerns. But we have made this promise at the highest level.” --

  • Former NAIIC Chairman Yotaro Hatamura says Japan has learned nothing from Fukushima. The Nuclear Accident Independent Investigation Committee was created by the Japanese Diet in 2011. Its report was issued in July of 2012. The study included several speculations, such as the accident at unit #1 starting before the tsunami caused the full station black. Although the Nuclear Regulation Authority has proven that there is no substance to the supposition, Hatamura maintains “Sufficient investigations have not been conducted” and “Almost none of (our proposals) have been reflected”. He also made a left-handed swipe at the NRA, saying, “It does not appear that organizations to watch (government actions) are working properly…  There could always be lapses in oversight in safety assessments, and an accident will surely happen again.” As for restarts, Hatamura believes that they should “be declared only after sufficient preparations are made, such as conducting evacuation drills covering all residents living within 30 kilometers of each plant based on developed evacuation plans.”

  • Ex-PM Junichiro Koizumi continues to condemn Japan’s nuclear policy. In a not-surprising 4th Fukushima anniversary verbal fusillade, Koizumi said he was “dumbfounded” by present PM Shinzo Abe’s support of nuclear energy resumption in Japan. He also reiterated that he was shocked by Abe’s 2013 statement that the situation was under control, saying, “It is not under control at all. I cannot believe he would ever say something like that.” Koizumi added that Abe is being irrational by supporting restarts because “The chairman of the Nuclear Regulation Authority has said that even if nuclear power plants meet the NRA’s new regulation standards, that itself does not guarantee their safety.” In addition, the ex-PM asserted that nuclear is the “least cost-effective method of power generation.” He next broadsided Tokyo over the nuclear waste issue, “It is irresponsible for the government to make the decision and force other parties to obey it when the resumption of idled nuclear power plants is set to produce even more spent fuel.” Finally, he rejected the notion that nukes are needed to turn the nation’s economy around, saying, “The nation can see economic growth through natural sources of energy.” (Comment - Koizumi has no idea that all energy sources trace their roots to the sun. The sun makes 100% of its energy from nuclear processes, including a tiny fraction from fission. Further, he must have no idea that a group of natural fission reactors generated energy on Gabon more than a million years ago. Bottom line…nuclear is natural. Mr. Koizumi…get yourself educated!)


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