Fukushima Accident Updates (Blog)

Your most reliable source of objective Fukushima News. No "spins"...just summaries of news reports in Japan's Press, which calls the Fukushima accident a nuclear disaster. Posts are made every week or two on Fridays

There are three regularly-updated pages on this site concerning popular Fukushima issues; Fukushima Evacuee Compensation Payments (updated monthly), Fukushima Child Thyroid Cancer s and  Fukushima Radiation on North America’s West Coast? 

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May 24, 2019

  • Tepco decides to postpone its decision on employment of foreign workers at F. Daiichi. The company announced the possibility last month, following Japan’s new foreign visa program designed to stem the tide of a national labor shortage. The National Immigration Services Agency has created a system that assists foreigners in acclimating to daily lives in Japan. The system applies to all foreign workers, including those who might work in the decommissioning of the F. Daiichi station. The Labor Ministry wants Tepco to be doubly sure that any foreign workers are fully protected from high radiation exposures. The Ministry says most foreigners are unaccustomed to Japan’s language and customs, thus there may be critical misunderstandings in training for safety procedures. This is not accounted for under Japan’s radiation training programs, thus Tepco must be extremely cautious in having foreign workers engaged in work that exposes them to radiation. As a result, the company will not hire foreign workers at F. Daiichi at this point in time. Currently, there is no worker shortage at the nuke station, but it is possible that it could happen in the future. It seems that this concern is specific to nuclear power plant workers, and not to all new foreign workers intended to stem Japan’s worker shortage. https://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/en/news/20190521_26/ -- http://the-japan-news.com/news/article/0005758473 -- https://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/en/news/20190522_39/ -- http://www.asahi.com/ajw/articles/AJ201905220067.html
  • Japan’s Federation of Electric Power Companies intends to accelerate construction of anti-terrorism facilities at nuke plants. Member companies will cooperate as much as possible to meet Nuclear Regulation Authority deadlines. The NRA says it will block operation of nukes that have not completed their facilities in time. FERC Chair Satoru Katrsuno says member companies have insufficiently communicated details of their respective construction situations with the NRA, but are now fully motivated to complete the work “as soon as possible, to the best of their ability, to minimize the suspension periods or—if possible—avoid them altogether.” Last week, Kyushu Electric Company submitted a portion of its anti-terrorism plans to the NRA for currently-operating Genkai unit #3, hoping to avoid t the unit’s August 2022 deadline. Whether or not this will satisfy the NRA is unknown. https://www.jaif.or.jp/en/japanese-power-companies-to-cooperate-with-each-other-to-complete-anti-terrorism-facilities-more-quickly/ 
  • Former antinuclear activist Michael Shellenberger explained why he changed his opinion on nukes to the Japan Atomic Industrial Forum. He said his desire to tackle the global warming problem was central to his decision. The more he objectively studied the issue, the more his objections lessened. He wants to demystify the core of the debate. He says the bottom line problem has to do with radiation. He says, “When I listen to people talk about radiation, it sounds like they are talking about an evil spirit rather than a physical phenomenon. There is an impulse common to every culture to rid ourselves of the unwanted and to bury it forever—that is, to put nuclear power back in Pandora’s Box.“ Unfortunately, Shellenberger’s presentation has been largely ignored by Japan’s popular Press! https://www.jaif.or.jp/en/%e3%80%9052nd-jaif-annual-conference%e3%80%91-environmental-activist-michael-shellenberger-a-pro-nuclear-convert-meets-the-press/

May 17, 2019

  • Tepco tests the effect of ceasing cooling flow for F. Daiichi unit #2 RPV. On Monday, the three tons per hour injection to the Reactor Pressure Vessel was stopped to measure how fast the remaining internal temperature would rise do to residual decay heat. Estimates said the increase should be about 4oC over the seven-hour-long test. The actual temperature increase was not posted in time for this update.  https://mainichi.jp/english/articles/20190513/p2g/00m/0dm/071000c
  • Fukushima Sake breweries team up with KISS. You read that right… the legendary American rock icons! Representatives of the prefecture’s Okunomatsu Sake Brewery and Homare Sake Brewery informed Governor (and admitted fan of the band) Masao Uchibori on Monday. Bottle labels will display KISS album covers, and names from hit songs. Okunomatsu President Joji Yusa said he was surprised to get the chance to work with his favorite musicians. Homare President Hiroyuki Karahashi said it was an opportunity to promote Fukushima sake from to KISS fans around the world. The items have been on sale at a music store in Tokyo and on its website since April 29. https://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/en/news/20190513_27/
  • Okuma begins large-scale farming trials. The town's agricultural commission has had crops planted, including sticky glutinous rice and premium quality koshihikari rice, across 1,600 square meters of paddy fields. Earlier test crops revealed radiation levels well-below Japan’s 100 becquerels per kilogram safety standard. Last year the level was a mere 2 Bq/kg! https://mainichi.jp/english/articles/20190514/p2a/00m/0na/013000c
  • A Japanese utility plans an anti-terrorist facility to beat 6the 5-year deadline set by Tokyo. Kyushu Electric Company submitted plans for Genkai #3 to the NRA yesterday. The Nuclear Regulation Authority requires such a facility to be completed within five years of approval for restart engineering plans. In April, the regulator said those units not meeting the deadline could be shuttered. The electric company said prompt approval by the NRA should allow it to complete the structure by the unit’s August, 2022 deadline. All other owners of 13 units targeted by the NRA have said the deadline is not feasible!  https://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/en/news/20190517_04/
  • Tepco postpones the disassembly of the upper portion of the units #1&2 exhaust gas stack. The work was scheduled to begin on May 16th, but will not actually start until June, at the earliest. A Tepco official said, “We believe that the lifting angle of the crane arm turned out to be different from the original plan because of an error in measuring equipment,” which makes the crane 1.6 meters too short to remove the first, upper-most section. The deconstruction of the upper half of the 120 meter chimney is needed because of support structure weakening due to the March 2011 unit #1 explosion. http://www.asahi.com/ajw/articles/AJ201905170049.html
  • The current status of F. Daiichi decommissioning is presented to JAIF. Executive Officer Akira Ono of Tepco relayed the information to the 52nd annual conference of the Japan Atomic Industrial Forum. He pointed out that area radiation levels inside the Tokyo-mandated evacuation zone have diminished enough to eliminate living restrictions in many areas. He added that work is being undertaken strategically and on schedule, stressing that interactive communication with local residents is a priority. He stated, “All the units are in a state of cold shutdown. The volumes of water injections have gradually decreased, and the temperatures of the pressure vessels and the interior of the containment vessels have remained stable.” In addition, plans for removal of fuel bundles from units #1, 2,& 3 storage pools are progressing positively. Further, area radiation levels have been reduced so that 96% of the premises no longer need employees to wear protective clothing. The most troubling problem remains to be the on-going build-up of decontaminated wastewater, which cannot be discharged to the ocean due to radiophobic fears. https://www.jaif.or.jp/en/52nd-jaif-annual-conference-fukushima-daiichi-report/
  • Tokyo makes long term tank storage a possibility for F. Daiichi wastewater! While the problem had long been the ubiquitous and relatively harmless existence of mildly-radioactive Tritium in the waters, discovery of residual Strontium-90 in much of the treated liquids "completely destroyed the premise for discussions” and confounded the issue.  As a result, the Industry Ministry will add long-term storage to the list of some five pre-existing possible ways to deal with the issue. NRA Chairman Toyoshi Fuketa warned in March that "the time when a decision must be made (on how to deal with the contaminated water) is very close indeed." He added that dilution and open release remains the best choice for disposal. There is currently less than 5 years of storage space remaining on the F. Daiichi station property. https://mainichi.jp/english/articles/20190513/p2a/00m/0na/006000c

May 10, 2019

  • The new town office for Okuma opens for business. It is located in the Ogawara District where the evacuation order has been lifted. Municipal administration has been operating from Aizu-Wakamatsu, roughly 100 kilometers from Okuma, since the town was forced to become deserted by Tokyo mandate in March, 2011. Mayor Toshitsuna Watanabe and 80 officials moved on Tuesday of this week to handle returning local residents and other visitors. The mayor told office workers he wanted to create a safe and secure environment for returning townspeople, "We've reached a new stage of reconstruction. As we aim to improve residents' services and speed up the recovery, I want you all to use this building as the frontline in making Okuma's recovery more than just words." https://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/en/news/20190507_25/ -- http://www.asahi.com/ajw/articles/AJ201905070060.html -- https://mainichi.jp/english/articles/20190508/p2a/00m/0na/013000c
  • Japan will use drone technology to monitor area radiation levels around F. Daiichi. Japan’s Atomic Energy Agency has developed the system to measure exposure levels in the remaining no-entry zones near the nuke station. A recent test-run revealed that a 7,000 m2 survey that formerly took half a day using airplane-borne equipment, will now take about 30 minutes. Full implementation is planned to happen by next March. https://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/en/news/20190510_26/
  • Potassium Iodide tablets will be issued for immediate ingestion for those under the age of 40. The Nuclear Regulation Authority decided to restrict this measure to residents who live within 5 kilometers of a nuclear station, to be ingested if the nuke has an accident and the release of airborne radioactive material is possible. In addition, the measure will include pregnant and/or nursing women, regardless of age. The under-40 restriction conforms to World Health Organization recommendations. WHO suggests that KI ingestion is essentially ineffective for adults over the age of 40. However, The NRA says they will distribute the tablets to those over 40 who formally request it. https://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/en/news/20190508_36/ -- https://www.who.int/ionizing_radiation/pub_meet/tech_briefings/potassium_iodide/en/
  • Tepco plans to start disassembling half of the units’ #1 & #2 exhaust chimney on May 20th. The chimney was built to release radioactive gasses that accumulated inside the two reactor buildings. However, it was used as such only for unit #2 since the unit #1 hydrogen explosion of March 12, 2019, made a controlled release from that unit moot. The explosion caused fractures in the chimney’s support structures that have remained unrepaired for eight years due to the high radiation levels caused by the residual contamination inside the chimney. Tepco has been planning the removal of the upper half of the 120 meter chimney for years, but needed to come up with a remote-controlled disassembly process because of the ~10 Sievert per hour radiation level measured at its base in 2011. It has decayed down to a current level of about 2 Sieverts/hr, still to high for NRA comfort. The remote-control will be located in a bus about 200 meters from the chimney. http://www.asahi.com/ajw/articles/AJ201905100045.html

May 3, 2019

  • The latest Fukushima evacuee compensation figures are posted. http://www.hiroshimasyndrome.com/fukushima-evacuee-compensation-payments.html
  • An unregistered key to an F. Daiichi building is discovered missing, violating NRA rules. Japan’s Nuclear Regulation Authority has issued a warning to Tepco because an ensuing investigation found that it took more than a week to uncover the problem. Also, it was found that the key was not registered, along with 9,000 other keys for a padlock on a unit #1 door! Tepco says they are trying to find out why the padlock had so many keys and why one was missing for so long before it was reported. An unlisted key is a violation of NRA rules. The company says that a list of all keys has been created. https://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/en/news/20190427_10/

April 26, 2019

  • Tepco removes seven unused fuel bundles from the unit #3 Spent Fuel Pool. The remote-control process began on Monday with the bundles placed in a fuel transfer cask. The cask was moved to a fuel storage facility, some 100 meters away, and the bundles inserted into the facility storage rack on Tuesday. The seven relocated bundles, along with those already there from unit #4, will now undergo a required safety check. Because of this, the remaining 45 unused and 514 used (spent) bundles will not begin their transfer until July. The complete process should be finished by the end of March, 2021. Sometime later that year, removal of fuel bundles from units #1 & #2 should begin. https://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/en/news/20190423_39/ -- https://english.kyodonews.net/news/2019/04/0a6233fbd8f0-tepco-transfers-some-fuel-from-fukushima-plant-no-3-unit-pool.html -- https://mainichi.jp/english/articles/20190423/p2g/00m/0na/060000c
  • The Fukushima J-Village soccer center fully reopens. Located some 20 mile south of F. Daiichi, it was used as a base of operations for recovery for the nuke plant. Prior to the 2011 accident, the facility was used to train Olympic soccer players. The opening of the new local station on the JR Joban railway line marked the completed restoration of the facility for soccer. http://the-japan-news.com/news/article/0005687777 -- https://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/en/news/20190420_12/
  • Japan’s Para-Cycling Federation moves its base to Iwaki City, Fukushima Prefecture. The community is just outside the old Fukushima 20 kilometer-wide no-go-zone, to the southwest. The City hosts the Iwaki-Taira Keirin Velodrome which has a stable environment year-round. The JCPF will move into Iwaki in May, to coincide with a seven day training camp May 1-7. The 2020 Paralympics will begin less than 500 days there-after. Para-cycling is an official event at the Tokyo Paralympics. Japan will send about 20 men and women to the games. http://www.fukushimaminponews.com/news.html?id=945
  • None of the fish caught within 20 kilometers of F. Daiichi in March contained a detectible level of the Fukushima radiological “fingerprint”, Cesium-134. The four caught inside the station break-wall had higher concentrations of Cesium-137 in them that those taken outside the barrier. But, even the one with the highest Cs-137 concentration was many times less than eight years ago. This was the first posting where all tested fish from inside the break-wall showed no detectible Cs-134. For more than a year, none of those taken outside the break-wall have tested positive for Cs-134.  https://www7.tepco.co.jp/wp-content/uploads/handouts_190423_01-e.pdf -- https://www7.tepco.co.jp/wp-content/uploads/handouts_190423_02-e.pdf
  • Japan asks S. Korea to lift Fukushima food import restrictions, to no avail. Last week, we reported that the restrictions were approved by the World Trade Organization. Subsequently, Tokyo appealed to Seoul to lift the ban because Japan’s radioactive safety standards were more restrictive than WTO standards. However, S. Korea has turned a deaf ear to Japan’s request arguing that the restrictions prioritize the “health and safety” of their citizens. Fukushima Governor Uchibori says that thorough explanations should have eliminated fears and false rumors, but he truly regrets the WTO decision to uphold Korea’s restrictions. The WTO originally ruled that Fukushima-region food restrictions were actually unfair discrimination, but the body reversed that ruling on April 11th. Almost immediately, Tokyo said the latest ruling was not a defeat for Japan because the WTO admits that Japanese food products are scientifically safe and test below the standards set by South Korea. This has been attacked by legal experts from inside and outside of Japan, so the Farm Ministry has rephrased their objection to say the foods being shipped test below all international “numerical” safety standards. The dispute continues. http://www.asahi.com/ajw/articles/AJ201904230050.html -- https://mainichi.jp/english/articles/20190423/p2g/00m/0na/059000c -- https://www.jaif.or.jp/en/governor-uchibori-of-fukushima-says-that-thorough-explanations-are-the-only-way-to-eliminate-unfounded-fears-and-rumors/
  • Japan’s operating nukes could be shuttered for not meeting the NRA deadlines on anti-terrorism facilities. Once a nuke is approved for restart, the time clock begins ticking on the construction of “specific safety facilities” (i.e. a remote safe shutdown control room in the event of a jetliner crashing into a power plant control room), giving the unit operator five years to build, test, and bring the facility into operation. On April 17th, three company heads of restarted nukes told the Nuclear Regulation Authority that five years is an impossible time frame, and it will actually take more than six years, and perhaps as much as seven and a half years! However, the NRA turned a deaf ear to the utilities and re-affirmed the five year grace period. NRA Chairman Toyoshi Fuketa said that existing facilities followed the new regulatory standards via so-called back-fit measures, and the grace periods are currently firm. However, he added that the agency will discuss the matter promptly at a future public NRA meeting. Regardless, most of Japan’s Press has taken this to mean that all currently operating nukes are necessarily at-risk for being shuttered! https://www.jaif.or.jp/en/electric-utilities-ask-nra-for-understanding-on-extending-grace-period-for-building-anti-terrorism-facilities-at-npps/ -- https://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/en/news/20190424_21/ -- https://mainichi.jp/english/articles/20190424/p2g/00m/0dm/067000c -- http://www.asahi.com/ajw/articles/AJ201904240044.html

April 19, 2019

  • Stored fuel bundles are being removed from F. Daiichi unit #3. The fuel storage (i.e. Spent Fuel) pool contains 512 used and 54 unused bundles. The first four were slid from their pool locations and placed in a shipping container on Monday, April 15. It is generally believed that moving the bundles from the damaged pool structure to ground-level storage is a safety improvement. The bundles were handled by remote control because the 1 millisievert per hour area radiation level is considered too dangerous for people. It is hoped that all bundles will be transferred out of the pool by March, 2022. However, Tepco’s decommissioning and decontamination boss Akira Ono spoke in highly cautious terms about the time-frame, "We do not believe the process will proceed with zero problems." Toyoshi Fuketa, chairman of the Nuclear Regulation Authority, echoed his words, saying, "To be honest, it will be difficult to say that no problems will emerge that will force a change in plans." Regardless, the handling of the unit #3 bundles will serve as a learning tool for the removal of fuel pool bundles from units #1 & #2. https://www7.tepco.co.jp/wp-content/uploads/handouts_190415_01-e.pdf --http://www.asahi.com/ajw/articles/AJ201904120036.html -- http://time.com/5570471/japan-fukushima-decommissioning-reactors-fuel/?fbclid=IwAR2Mi_pEk5asM1_zkVrNDjT1Zjh1cqunBGqk6xCrB4vPVcMCbb1DeT5_CQE
  • Prime Minister Shinzo Abe visits F. Daiichi. Last Sunday, Abe observed decommissioning efforts, explanation of contaminated water countermeasures, and handed out letters of gratitude to key contractor employees. He said, “Let’s continue to work together until we have enabled Fukushima to completely recover.” He also attended a ceremony for opening a new town hall in Okuma, which will start providing local services on May 7th. Mayor Toshitsuna Watanabe said, "The new government building is at the forefront of the town's revival, and it is a symbol of the pledge to realize our reconstruction."  https://www7.tepco.co.jp/newsroom/announcements/archives/2019/prime-minister-shinzo-abe-visits-the-fukushima-daiichi-nuclear-power-station.html -- https://japantoday.com/category/politics/Abe-visits-Fukushima-to-check-areas-affected-by-2011-nuclear-disaster
  • Tokyo is urged to end overseas restrictions on Fukushima-produced seafood. Last week, the World Trade organization ruled that it favored South Korea’s continuing, radiophobia-based ban on Japanese seafood imports. On Wednesday, ruling Liberal Democratic Party members called the ban a diplomatic defeat and blamed the Tokyo government for it happening! Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga met with the head of the national federation of fisheries cooperatives, Hiroshi Kishi, who says Tokyo needs a drastic review of the country’s strategies for resumption of unrestricted seafood trade. https://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/en/news/20190417_34/
  • Japan’s largest news outlet makes a call for reason with Fukushima repopulation. Currently the partial revocation of the evacuation order for Okuma affects only about 400 residents… those who have been staying in their homes for about a year. More people will be moving into 50 new housing units in June. However, necessary infrastructure (e.g. medical facilities and supermarkets) have yet to be built. The town government will assist returnees to access these conveniences in the nearby town of Tomioka. But before anything like schools and job sources can manifest, a sufficient percentage of the population must say they are willing to return, and that is currently not the case. At least 50% “have decided not to return”. Long term plans should be made under this probability. This does not mean that the town officials should just give up because a viable, working community is necessary for F. Daiichi decommissioning. http://the-japan-news.com/news/article/0005673286
  • Tepco decides to allow foreign workers at F. Daiichi. A shortage of workers in various job categories has happened across Japan. The country has created a new visa program to try and alleviate the problem. The new system was instituted April 1st to bring in mostly blue-collar workers to 14 “job-hungry sectors”. Tepco will not be hiring these people, but subcontractors can hire foreign workers for general janitorial and food service jobs, as well as industrial and automobile maintenance workers at F. Daiichi. A TEPCO official explained, "The decision to hire foreign workers under the new visa system is up to our subcontractors” Negative xenophobic opinions assume that the radiation protection requirements for F. Daiichi workers are too complicated for foreigners and such naivety could produce disastrous consequences. Kazumi Takagi, a sociology professor at Gifu University, said, “Unless workers can instantly understand the (Japanese) language when minor mistakes or sudden problems occur, it could lead to a major accident.”
  • https://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/en/news/20190418_28/ -- https://english.kyodonews.net/news/2019/04/b839c3aba30f-tepco-eyes-using-foreign-workers-at-crisis-hit-fukushima-daiichi-plant.html -- https://mainichi.jp/english/articles/20190418/p2g/00m/0dm/079000c -- http://www.asahi.com/ajw/articles/AJ201904180027.html
  • Japan’s antinuclear Press continues to speculate that the location of fuel debris remains unknown. The Mainichi Shimbun posts that because the rubble bed in unit #2 was pebble-like, not a solidified mass, and emitted a several times lower radiation field than had been previously speculated, “This finding suggested that the sediment that TEPCO came in contact with in the survey was not the main nuclear fuel debris it was looking for. Many speculate that the surface of the sediment may mainly consist of metals including cladding tubes that used to cover nuclear fuels. The question now is whether fuel debris exists beneath the surface of the sediment or if nuclear fuel still remains within the reactor pressure vessel, or even somewhere else. There are currently no prospects for TEPCO to ascertain an accurate distributions of debris.” Such reporting only fuels the fears of unprincipled conspiracy theorists around the world, and serves no objective purpose! https://mainichi.jp/english/articles/20190409/p2a/00m/0na/021000c

April 11, 2019

  • The evacuation order has been rescinded for parts of F. Daiichi host, Okuma Town. The districts are Ogawara and Chuyashiki, each located about 5ive miles south of the nuke station. Municipal employees explained the specifics to interested residents on Wednesday, April 10th. A new town hall will open May 7th in Ogawara. 50 families will move into a public housing complex in June, and a convenience store will open. Bus services will also start to and from the neighboring town of Tomioka, which has a supermarket and a hospital. Okuma Mayor Toshitsuna Watanabe said the town is finally starting reconstruction and promised efforts to make the town ready for anyone who wants to return. Some 700 F. Daiichi employees have lived in a company dormitory since 2016. It is planned to lift restrictions on the rest of the town in 2022.  https://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/en/news/20190410_38/ -- http://www.asahi.com/ajw/articles/AJ201904100058.html  
  • Okuma’s “old man squad” ends its vigil. Six older men have patrolled the town for the last six years, removing weed, fallen tree branches, and assisted residents who made overnight visits to their homes. One team member said they did this because “There's no need for young people to risk their lives. We, old men, will make the rounds.” Mayor Toshitsuna Watanabe credits the evacuation order’s lifting to the efforts of the “old man squad”. http://www.asahi.com/ajw/articles/AJ201904060001.html
  • Tomioka Town’s no-go areas are visited by cherry-blossom tour busses. A 2.2 kilometer stretch of the town is well-known for its ~400 cherry trees that are now in bloom. 1.9 kilometers of the drive is inside the so-called difficult-to-return zone. Ten shuttle busses were chartered by the town government for the event. One resident said, "It's good that everyone could gather to see a symbol of our hometown." https://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/en/news/20190406_14/ -- https://mainichi.jp/english/articles/20190406/p2a/00m/0na/011000c
  • Fukushima had Japan’s largest growth in foreign visitors in January. The Japan Tourism Agency says there were nearly 18,000 visitors, which is 2.4 times the number recorded last year.  The largest number came from Taiwan, followed by Taiwan and Australia. http://www.fukushimaminponews.com/news.html?id=943
  • The Nuclear Regulation Authority (NRA) uses artificial intelligence for automated transcriptions of its private meetings with electric utility representatives for safety screenings. This is a change intended to increase transparency and improve the way information is disclosed to the public. The technology achieved about 90 percent accuracy in a preliminary test. Although mistranscriptions will be included, some parts of the text will be deleted upon review, including information that needs to be kept secret for safety reasons. https://mainichi.jp/english/articles/20190409/p2a/00m/0na/019000c
  • A bridge connecting Kesennuma, Miyagi Prefecture to a city island went into service on Sunday. The residents were isolated for about three weeks after the March 11, 2011, quake and tsunami. This will allow those who need medical services easier access to the mainland, and promote tourism. Kesennuma Mayor Shigeru Sugawara said , “I want many people to visit the scenic island.” http://the-japan-news.com/news/article/0005660710

April 5, 2019

  • Tokyo makes the partial lifting of the Okuma evacuation order official. The town co-hosts F. Daiichi with Futaba, where the full evacuation restriction still holds. The Okuma order ends next Wednesday, but less than 400 of the town’s pre-calamity population of 10,000 are expected to exploit the opportunity. Industry Minister Hiroshige Seko said, "Lifting the evacuation order is not the final goal. We will strive to restore a habitable environment for the population." The relaxing of mandated evacuation will affect about 38% of the town’s area. https://english.kyodonews.net/news/2019/04/2c721791be19-lifting-of-evacuation-order-formalized-for-fukushima-plant-host-town.html
  • The last dregs of previously contaminated wastewater have been placed in weld-sealed tanks at F. Daiichi. Flange-type tanks held together with bolts and other devices were initially used because they could be built quickly. However, some of them developed leaks that made world-wide headlines, and gave the impression that Tepco was incompetent. Replacing the flanged tanks with welded seamed units began after a 300 ton leak in 2013. Some flanged tanks are being kept for temporary storage of uncontaminated groundwater. http://the-japan-news.com/news/article/0005647263
  • Japan’s business federation (Keidanren) wants nuke plant licensing to go beyond the current 60 year limit. It also wants time frames where the units are shut down to be excluded from the operating lifetime period. Chairman Hiroaki Nakanishi will announce the requests at a news conference Monday. The Keidanren continually stresses the importance using nukes that have been deemed safe by the Nuclear Regulation Authority. https://jen.jiji.com/jc/eng?g=eco&k=2019040501352
  • Former Tepco Chairman Tsunehisa Katsumata apologized for the 2011 nuke accident at F. Daiichi. He explained that as chairman, he had no control over the decisions made by the company president and plant management. In Tokyo district court, he testified, "As someone who served as president and chairman, I apologize for causing enormous trouble to those who lost their lives, their bereaved families and the injured. I advised the (Tepco) president upon his request. My job was to take care of people outside the company and maintain contacts." https://mainichi.jp/english/articles/20181030/p2a/00m/0na/030000c

March 29, 2019

  • F. Daiichi Unit #1 containment to be robot-probed. A boat-shaped submersible will be inserted into the structure as early as this summer to put eight ringed objects and cabling at strategic locations. The installed technology will be used to guide the robots that will follow. In all, six robots will be used to survey the inner containment area. Units #2 & #3 containments have already been surveyed, but Unit #1 poses additional roadblocks, the most severe of which is the sandy-looking material covering the bottom of the vessel. It makes examining for possible fuel debris almost impossible. An official of Hitachi-GE Nuclear Energy, which helped fabricate the robots, said, "We'll do our utmost to collect a vast range of data in preparation for removing debris." https://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/en/news/20190328_28/ -- http://www.asahi.com/ajw/articles/AJ201903290051.html
  • The evacuation order for much of the town Okuma will be lifted April 10th. On Tuesday Iindustry Minister Yoshihiko Isozaki said that radiation levels have fallen significantly. As a result, two districts representing about 40 percent of Okuma Town will be opened for repopulation. 374 people have currently-registered addresses in the affected area. Mayor Toshitsuna Watanabe and Fukushima vice governor Masaaki Suzuki both expressed optimism with Tokyo’s decision. This is the first rescinding of living restrictions for both F. Daiichi host communities: Okuma and Futaba. https://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/en/news/20190326_20/ -- https://jen.jiji.com/jc/eng?g=eco&k=2019032600732
  • The most recent tally for population evacuation compensation payments can be found here    http://www.hiroshimasyndrome.com/fukushima-evacuee-compensation-payments.html
  • All flanged wastewater tanks at F. Daiichi have been replaced. Instead of bolted-together flanges for mounting pipes to the tanks, the newer versions leak-resistant welding of pipes to tanks. Freshwater now stored in flanged tanks will also be transferred to tanks with welded connections. https://www7.tepco.co.jp/wp-content/uploads/handouts_190327_01-e.pdf
  • A lawsuit for cessation of operations at Ohi Station is rejected. The Osaka District Court dismissed an injunction to shutter Ohi units No.3 and 4, both of which are safely operating. The suit claimed that Kansai Electric has underestimated possible earthquake intensity and placed undue risk on the surrounding population. Presiding Judge Kiyoshi Kitagawa ruled that it cannot be said that the plant lacks safety and poses specific risks of serious damage to residents. https://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/en/news/20190328_30/
  • Tepco is ordered to pay additional compensation for the 2011 F. Daiichi evacuation. More than 20 people who evacuated to Ehime Prefecture were awarded ~$245,000, above and beyond the compensations already paid-out. Presiding Judge Keiko Kuboi ruled that Tepco could have predicted the 2011 tsunami and taken adequate precautions before the natural calamity happened. Plaintiffs claimed they had lost the foundation of livelihood and suffered mental anguish which deserved the additional financial award. https://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/en/news/20190326_28/ -- https://mainichi.jp/english/articles/20190326/p2g/00m/0dm/072000c
  • Japanese doctor’s say iodine should be given to all nearby residents under the age of 40. This affects everyone living within 5 kilometers of a nuke station in Japan. The panel is part of Japan’s Nuclear Regulation Authority. World Health Organization guidelines say the tablets should be given to children and pregnant women first due to the allegedly higher risk of thyroid cancer to the demographics. Now, the tablets are to be distributed in advance to everyone under 40. Although the risk of radioactive Iodine-induced cancer drops significantly after the age of 40, those in that age group can get the pills if there are sufficient supplies. The panel added that during a nuclear accident, Iodine should be distributed regardless of age. https://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/en/news/20190329_39/

March 22, 2019

  • Evacuation orders might be lifted next month for parts of Okuma and Futaba, the first for the F. Daiichi co-host towns. The schedule for rescinding the orders is intended to coincide with opening the new Okuma town office. Hideo Yura, deputy chief of the Local Nuclear Emergency Response Headquarters said, "The town authorities intend to synchronize the removal of the evacuation order with the opening ceremony as much as possible." Okuma Mayor Toshitsuna Watanabe said, "We would like to see the evacuation order lifted as soon as possible in order to take a step forward toward our town's rebirth." The districts to be affected are Nakayashiki (11 households) and Ogawara (129 households). 21 of the households already have overnight privileges. http://www.fukushimaminponews.com/news.html?id=942
  • Japan’s opinion on nuclear energy seems to be changing. Japan Atomic Energy Relations Organization (JAERO) released the results of a nuke opinion survey taken last October. While most said nuclear was “unsettling” and/or “dangerous”, other opinion options signaled a positive shift may be happening. The “not reliable” notion fell from 30% to 22%, and those of the “bad” opinion fell from 19% to 12%. Further, those feeling future energy sources will include nuclear rose by 5.5% Whether or not this will continue cannot be determined. https://www.jaif.or.jp/en/jaeros-recent-public-opinion-survey-on-nuclear-energy-support-rises-somewhat-for-restarting-npps/
  • A Fukushima elementary school graduates its first class since the nuke accident. Unfortunately, it will be its last! Five students were graduated from Yamakiya School in Kawamata. Because there are no other students remaining at the school, it will close next week April. At the ceremony, Principal Jindo Saito said, "All of you have unyielding perseverance. I want all of you to hold on to your love for Yamakiya." Meanwhile, an elementary school in Iitate graduated 14, and will not close! Fourteen elementary or junior high schools in Kawamata, Tomioka, Namie, Iitate and Katsurao, reopened in April 2018. It seems only the Yamakiya School will not continue to operate. https://jen.jiji.com/jc/eng?g=eco&k=2019032200737 -- http://www.asahi.com/ajw/articles/AJ201903220060.html
  • On March 18th, Tepco announced that the amount of “treated water” at F. Daiichi is now more than a million tons. Further, the company says there is no room to add more empty tanks to accommodate additional wastewater. A spokesperson said, “There’s no more vacant space available, so it’s becoming difficult to secure enough tanks.” Chairman of the Nuclear Regulation Authority, Toyoshi Fuketa, presaged a possible release by saying, “We are entering a period in which further delays in deciding what measure to implement will no longer be tolerable.” The maximum volume that could be stored at the site is 137 million tons. The major issue is residual Tritium, which cannot be removed per existing technology (filtration or adsorption). Although detectibly radioactive, the Tritium is biologically innocuous. Most of the stored wastewater could safely by released to the Pacific Ocean, but fear of damaging rumors keeps it from happening. Tetsu Nozaki, head of the fisheries cooperative, says the release “will have a devastating effect on fishing in Fukushima”. It should be noted that nearly 120,000 tons of the wastewater has been run through a Strontium removal system to remove any residual Sr-90 from the water, and could be released immediately were it not for rampant radiophobia!  http://the-japan-news.com/news/article/0005616178 -- http://www.asahi.com/ajw/articles/AJ201903190042.html -- https://www7.tepco.co.jp/wp-content/uploads/handouts_190318_02-e.pdf
  • Tohoku Electric plans to donate $3.58 million to a local community, but denies it is a “payoff” to restart a nuke at Higashidori Station. The funds will be donated through the corporate version of a hometown tax payment system. The system allows people to give part of their taxes to a local government of their choice. The corporate version allows companies to reduce their corporate and other tax payments if they donate to local governments projects. Satoshi Shimoyashiki, vice manager of Tohoku Electric’s Aomori branch, says, “We decided to provide this form of cooperation because co-prosperity with local communities has been part of our management philosophy since the founding of our company.” Higashidori Mayor Yasuo Echizen added, “We believe that Tohoku Electric decided to support the village's regional revitalization projects.” http://www.asahi.com/ajw/articles/AJ201903200054.html


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