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Fukushima Accident Updates (Blog)


The web's top source of objective Fukushima News. No "spins"...just summaries of news reports in Japan's Press, which admits it is 94% antinuclear and calls the Fukushima accident a nuclear disaster. Posts are twice weekly; Monday and Thursday.

The are three regularly-updated pages concerning widely-reported Fukushima issues on this site; Fukushima Evacuee Compensation Payments (updated monthly), Fukushima Child Thyroid Cancer Issue and Is There Fukushima Radiation on North America’s West Coast? (both updated when new information is available) All can be accessed by clicking the titles in the left-column menu.

E-BOOKs - "Kimin: Japan's Forgotten People" - the untold story of Japan's 300,000 tsunami refugees, ignored by the world's news media. Available at all E-book stores/sites... Click here for more...

Fukushima: The First Five Days... taken from the hand-written staff records at Fukushima Daiichi the first five days of the crisis. Fukushima : Available here and all E-book stores. Click here for more...

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August 22, 2016

  • Some Okuma evacuees make temporary returns to home. Residents were allowed to stay at home to celebrate the Buddhist “bon” holiday in the part of the town that is officially going to have restrictions lifted next year. Only 12 people from six families took advantage of the opportunity. Hitoshi Izumisawa, his wife, and son, stayed overnight at their home for the first time in five-and-a-half years. He said, "I believe my mother would have wanted to come home, too. Let’s sleep together tonight." Izumisawa has made several prior visits to make home repairs and bring in household items, such as a refrigerator and microwave oven. He said he and his wife want to return home because it is cooler in Okuma than where they now live in Aizuwakamatsu. http://www.fukushimaminponews.com/news.html?id=711

  • Kawamata Town to be fully reopened by April 1, 2017. Yamakiya District is the part of Kawamata closest to F. Daiichi, and the only part of the town still under government living restrictions. The municipal assembly asked Tokyo to lift the order. Tokyo official Osamu Goto gave Tokyo’s draft plans to Kawamata Mayor Michio Furukawa and assembly head Hiromi Saito, and said, "We expect to see the living environment improved by the end of March 2017." Mayor Furukawa said. "The termination of evacuation is simply a first step. We will draw up measures together with the national government to prevent the daily living of returning residents from being adversely affected after the removal of the evacuation order." http://www.fukushimaminponews.com/news.html?id=710

  • Ikata unit #3 is now at 100% power. The 890 MWe unit was restarted on August 12th and was connected to the grid on August 15th. Output has been slowly increased since then, while tests and inspections were run on the reactor and turbine-generator. Full power was reached today at 10:15am, Japan time. Commercial operation is expected to begin on September 7th. http://www.jaif.or.jp/en/ikata-3-npp-back-in-full-operation/  

  • Antinuclear tents are removed from the Industry Ministry’s property. In September, 2011, antinuclear activists put up tents on the grounds of the ministry to coordinate a permanent protest until nuclear power is abolished in Japan. The government filed suit in March, 2013, because unauthorized occupation of state property is illegal and the protestors had ignored ministry requests to remove the tents. The suit also asked for financial compensation to be paid to the ministry by the activists. Tokyo courts approved the suit at every level, but the activists appealed each decision. The Supreme Court rejected the final appeal and is having the tents removed by force. In addition, the two leaders of the five-year-long occupation have been ordered to pay $380,000 in compensation. The squatters staged a rally in front of the ministry as the tents were taken down, and group leader Taro Fuchikami said sit-in protests will follow. http://www.asahi.com/ajw/articles/AJ201608210014.html -- http://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/en/news/20160821_14/

  • Officials continue to search for the remains of residents missing due to the 2011 tsunami. 197 remain on the missing list for Fukushima Prefecture, all from the communities with a Pacific coastline. Efforts last year found the remains of five people. At Tomioka Town, the first search in nearly three years occurred this month. The team of 20 “searchers” included divers and other people from the police and fire departments of the town, plus members of a riot squad from the Fukushima Prefectural Police Headquarters and officers from the Futaba Police Station. http://www.fukushimaminponews.com/news.html?id=712

  • Another ex-Fukushima worker gets workman’s compensation for low level radiation exposure. A man in his 50s worked at F. Daiichi for nearly four years. He developed leukemia in January, 2015, and applied for workman’s comp. He received 54.4 millisieverts of whole body exposure over the time he was at F. Daiichi. The man was granted workman’s comp because he satisfied the statutory criteria stipulated in the 1976 Industrial Accident Compensation Insurance Act. To be certified as an “industrial accident” associated with radiation, a claimant must have been exposed to at least an average of 5 millisieverts per year and have developed the illness more than a year after first being exposed. No requirement for a medical diagnosis relating the exposure to the contracted disease is needed. This is the second time a former Fukushima worker has been granted workman’s compensation by Tokyo for low level radiation exposure while employed at F. Daiichi. http://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/en/news/20160819_25/ - http://www.asahi.com/ajw/articles/AJ201608200036.html - http://www.japaneselawtranslation.go.jp/law/detail/?id=1920&vm=04&re=01

  • An NRA panel member says Tepco’s “ice wall” is failing. Nuclear Regulation Authority panel member Yoshinori Kitsutaka explained, “The plan to block groundwater with a frozen wall of earth is failing. They need to come up with another solution, even if they keep going forward with the plan.” The recent Tepco report upon which the NRA statement is based (covered here last week) shows that 99% of the “wall” allowed to be in operation by the NRA has frozen solid. But, 1% of the earth has yet to fully solidify. Regardless, the NRA conclusion of failure is because anything less than 100% success is unacceptable. Tepco has said they will solidify the unfrozen locations with cement if they do not fully freeze. http://www.asahi.com/ajw/articles/AJ201608190060.html 

  • Kagoshima’s Governor continues to garner Press coverage with his antinuclear crusade. Gov. Satoshi Mitazono was elected last month on an antinuclear platform, and has vowed to shutter both units now safely operating at Sendai station. Because his predecessor and host community Satsumasendai approved the Sendai restarts, Mitazono cannot order the two units to be shut down. The governor fails to believe that the inspections by station staff during and after the recent Kumamoto earthquake showed absolutely nothing. Mitazono has said he wants the station shut down so that his “experts” can check everything. He also believes that the approved emergency plans for the 30km radius are flawed. "I found problems with the roads, evacuation drills and other things. They should be tackled immediately," Mitazono told reporters. Regardless of the governor's obsession, the two units are scheduled to be taken offline for refueling on Oct. 6 and Dec. 16, respectively. The governor was formerly a TV commentator with Asahi Corporation, home base to the fanatically antinuclear Asahi Shimbun. http://mainichi.jp/english/articles/20160819/p2g/00m/0dm/077000c

August 18, 2016

  • Fukushima Prefecture is hosting a workshop to combat radiation misinformation. The “Radiation Protection Workshop in Fukushima 2016” opened on August 15, and will run through the 20th.  The event is for high school students from Fukushima, Tokyo, and three countries other than Japan. Attendees include 12 high school students from Fukushima, 14 students from France, Malaysia and Indonesia, and, three from Tokyo. Instructors are teaching the students radiation measurement methods so they can visit all around the Prefecture and record exposure levels. They will also monitor foods produced in the prefecture for radioactivity. Fukushima hopes the event will help combat unrealistic fears and irresponsible rumor-mongering. http://www.jaif.or.jp/en/fukushima-prefecture-turns-to-young-people-to-help-wipe-out-misinformation/

  • The Environment Ministry wants to build trust in Fukushima Prefecture. Minister Koichi Yamamato said, "I want to visit Fukushima frequently and foster trust with local people," while accelerating decontamination and rural contaminated waste storage. She added, "Fukushima and other prefectures with radioactive waste are facing a variety of challenges. But slow reconstruction won't satisfy the public now that nearly five and a half years have passed since the accident." Yamamoto also hopes that laws will emerge to build flood-prevention barriers and evacuation plans for natural calamity mitigation. http://jen.jiji.com/jc/eng?g=eco  (Comment – If Tokyo would admit that the 2011 evacuation was an over-reaction to the accident releases, and power-bomb Naoto Kan for his arbitrary evacuation mandates, Fukushima would be in a much better situation.)

  • Ikata unit #3’s September commercial operation will not immediately reduce the cost of electricity. Shikoku Electric Co. President Hayato Saeki said, “Our situation does not allow us to lower power rates immediately.” He explained that eventual operation of Ikata #3 was factored into the company’s 2013 rate base, which is what the customers are currently dealing with. In addition, the decision to decommission Ikata unit #1 and old fossil-fueled units which ran during the nuclear moratorium will cost a lot of money, further delaying eventual rate reductions. When asked about the possibilities for Ikata unit #2, Saeki said that issue will be considered when unit #3 reaches commercial status. http://www.jaif.or.jp/en/ikata-3-is-connected-to-the-grid/

August 15, 2016

The process of restarting Ikata unit #3 began Friday. The initial step of control rod withdrawal garnered headlines across Japan. On the other hand, the milestone of initial criticality received about half of the original coverage, and the first generation of electricity very little. In a clear appeal to nuclear phobia, most news outlets made it seem that the entire Ikata #3 fuel load is MOX fuel, when the MOX in the core is actually about 10%. MOX (plu-thermal) is recycled from previously used fuel bundles. The Press in Japan focuses on this because MOX contains recycled Plutonium, which necessarily appeals to nuclear anxieties stemming from the plutonium bomb that was dropped on Nagasaki...

  • Ikata unit #3 restarted on Friday. Control rods were carefully raised to uncover a small portion of the nuclear fuel; the first step in starting up the reactor. Shikoku Electric Company control room staff began the restart procedure at 9am. Ikata unit #3 has been shuttered for more than five years due to Tokyo’s mandated nuclear moratorium. All Japanese Press outlets reported on the Friday. The most antinuclear news media focused on the few dozen protesters marching in the host town of Ikata. The protestors called for halting the restart because they fear another Fukushima accident, even though Ikata #3 is a Pressurized Water Reactor System significantly different from Fukushima Daiichi’s Boiling Water Reactors. The activists have filed suits in three district courts (Oita, Hiroshima, and Matsuyama) demanding an injunction to halt the restart, similar to the recent injunctions that shuttered two perfectly safe units at Takahama station. Hiroyuki Kawai, a lawyer involved in all three suits, said, “The Otsu court decision to shut down the Takahama reactors sent a shock wave through the government and the utilities. Political measures including demonstrations are needed. But I’ve come to believe the best way to stop the restart of nuclear power plants is through legal means, such as filing lawsuits and requests for temporary injunctions.” Hiroshima and Oita City are both more than 100km distant and not even on the same island as the nuke plant. http://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/en/news/20160812_10/ -- http://mainichi.jp/english/articles/20160812/p2g/00m/0dm/035000c  -- http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2016/08/12/national/shikoku-electric-poised-fire-ehime-plant-mox-reactor-amid-protests/#.V62929Lr0dU (Comment – The above Japan Times link is perhaps the most antinuclear-focused report found in all Japan’s Press outlets.)

  • On Saturday, Ikata #3 achieved criticality. Criticality means the fission chain reaction is self-sustaining. An analogy would be starting your car and letting it idle. However, unlike you idling car, reactor criticality occurs at such a miniscule level of energy production that it cannot heat up the cooling water flowing through the core; natural heat losses to the RPV and other system components is greater than the amount of heat being produced by the fuel. Much of Japan’s Press reported on achieving criticality, while others ignored the milestone. Most articles continued to obsess on the minority of the core containing plu-thermal fuel. One new anxiety-inducing angle was used by NHK World… initial start-up at Ikata #3 includes a number of new reactor operators in-training because the more than 5-year shuttering has resulted in some staff attrition. NHK says the start-up is proceeding cautiously because “its operators now include those without previous experience.” In fact, operator training is a usual and customary part of reactor start-up procedure, and not-at-all unusual. http://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/en/news/20160813_06/ -- http://the-japan-news.com/news/article/0003146769 -- http://jen.jiji.com/jc/eng?g=eco&k=2016081200890 (Comment – the cautious start-up is probably because pre-startup testing found a leaking pump seal resulting from the extended period of shut-down.)

  • A Press outlet finds a local who fears the Ikata #3 restart. A resident of the town of Ikata was cited, but the report made it sound as if fear is common-place. A fisherman from the town says the recent quake in distant Kumamoto Prefecture has piqued his nuclear anxieties. He said he was “consumed with fears and anxiety” over whether or not he could evacuate if Ikata #3 had an accident. Ikata #3 is technically on a peninsula, located less than two kilometers from the main body of Shikoku Island at the peninsula’s widest point. The reason for the resident’s phobic trauma is because of news reports have constantly said a fault line runs about 8 kilometers from Ikata #3 which may be connected to the tectonic zone that produced the April 16th Kumamoto earthquake. A successful nuclear evacuation drill for Ikata station was run in 2012, including nearly 10,000 people. http://jen.jiji.com/jc/eng?g=eco&k=2016081200823

  • Ikata unit #3 began generating its first bit of electricity today, and sent it into the grid. Only two major outlets mentioned the milestone, and both obsessed on the MOX fuel in the core. One, The Mainichi, added that MOX bundles are more radioactive than Uranium-only bundles, which is fundamentally frivolous but appeals to Japan’s huge radiophobic demographic. http://mainichi.jp/english/articles/20160815/p2g/00m/0dm/071000c -- http://english.kyodonews.jp/news/2016/08/427413.html

Now for some Fukushima news…

  • The F. Daiichi “ice wall” is progressing steadily. All of the in-ground temperature monitors for those sections being frozen are now at or below the freezing point. The six small sections not currently allowed to be frozen by the Nuclear Regulation Authority are the only locations where freezing has not occurred. The Press has not reported on it, so we have linked to the latest Tepco posting on the process. https://www4.tepco.co.jp/en/nu/fukushima-np/handouts/2016/images/handouts_160812_01-e.pdf

  • Tokyo wants to gradually re-open the remaining Fukushima “no-go” zones; the locations designated as being “difficult-to-return”, where estimated whole body exposures were originally greater than 50 millisieverts per year. The government wants to set up strategic reconstruction bases (hubs) within the zones that remain in seven communities; portions of Iitate, Katsurao, Minamisoma, and Tomioka, and, most of Namie, Okuma, and Futaba. These zones had a population of about 24,000 before the state-mandated evacuation in 2011. If plans are enacted, residents will be allowed to return home when decontamination is completed and whole body exposures will be well-below the 20 mSv/yr evacuation criterion. Lifting of restrictions will no longer be delayed until an entire zone has met the benchmark. The plan calls for “reconstruction footholds” to be established where workers and other citizens can be allowed to live. Tokyo wants all “no-go” zones eliminated by 2021. http://www.fukushimaminponews.com/news.html?id=708

  • Less than 5% of the people affected by the July 12th lifting of restrictions in Minamisoma have actually returned home. Four hundred of the nearly 11,000 evacuees who were affected by the July 12th decision have gone home. The 400 number is more or less an educated guess because the city feels many who have returned home have not reported to the municipal office. http://www.fukushimaminponews.com/news.html?id=707

August 11, 2016

  • A Tokyo court rules against Tepco over a dementia patient’s disappearance. The Tokyo District Court ordered the company to pay more than $200,000 in compensation to the family of a woman who vanished from a Futaba hospital a few days after the earthquake and tsunami of March 11, 2011. The hospital staff left the facility on March 14th because of the Tokyo-mandated evacuation. Japan’s Self-Defense Force arrived on the 16th and was responsible for evacuating the patients. The woman was in the facility on the 14th, but was not there on the 16th. The front door was open because of the prolonged power blackout caused by the earthquake. The woman’s body has not been found. The court ruled that the hospital staff was “The woman died as a result of the emergence of exceptional circumstances which made it impossible for hospital staff to provide assistance to or keep an eye on the woman, because of the (nuclear) accident and because local residents left." Presiding Judge Yuko Mizuno told the Press, “Staff at [the patient’s] hospital continued to keep a sufficient watch over her even after the Great East Japan Earthquake and tsunami struck, and her disappearance could have been avoided if the nuclear accident had not occurred.” Tepco had argued that “the confusion stemming from the quake and tsunami is primarily responsible for her disappearance, not the nuclear accident,” but the court rejected the company’s plea. http://www.asahi.com/ajw/articles/AJ201608110045.html -- http://mainichi.jp/english/articles/20160811/p2a/00m/0na/008000c

August 8, 2016

  • Seabed radiocesium contamination is not transmitted to fish. A team from Japan’s National Research Institute of Fisheries Science ran a 70-day experiment to see if a typically-contaminated sea floor was being ingested by fish. They took actual sea-floor deposits from two Fukushima shore-line communities; Hirono and Iwaki. The seabed materials varied in radiocesium content, ranging between 140 and 220 Becquerels per kilogram. Two food fish were included in the experiment; Greenling and Marbled Sole. None of the fish were found to have more than 2 Bq/kg in them after 70 days in tank-simulated environments, and the concentrations remained constant throughout the experiment. http://www.fukushimaminponews.com/news.html?id=704

  • A demonstration experiment on radiocesium removal from edible seaweed will begin. Fukushima Prefecture’s Local fishermen have refrained from harvesting green laver from Matsukawaura lagoon in Soma City since the 2011 nuke accident. Before the seaweed can be reaped, the local fisheries want proof that the radioactivity is constantly less than 50 Bq/kg. This is half of the national standard of 100 Bq/kg. Fukushima wants to try an experimental drying process that should ensure safety and consumer confidence in order to return Matsukawaura to one of the largest green laver sources in eastern Japan. The methodology is going to be tested in the fall and resume marketing in the spring of 2017. The concern is that contamination in rivers and streams that feed the lagoon may be accumulating in the seaweed, causing an inability to market the foodstuff. http://www.fukushimaminponews.com/news.html?id=703

  • Pacific coast kelp remains free of Fukushima contamination. Results of the fifth sampling period by Kelp Watch 2015 - a campaign headed by Dr. Steven Manley (Cal State – Long Beach) and Dr. Kai Vetter (UC Berkeley). None of the samples collected from March-to-June, 2016, contained Fukushima’s “fingerprint” isotope, Cesium-134. Iodine-131 found in the latest samples from the Los Angeles and Long Beach ports was attributed to an as-yet unidentified local source. This was the fifth consecutive sampling period showing zero Fukushima-related results, so Kelp Watch 2015 has officially ended. https://fukushimainform.ca/2016/08/04/update-2016-sampling-of-north-american-pacific-kelp-finds-no-signature-of-fukushima-contamination/ -- http://kelpwatch.berkeley.edu/Home

  • The new Environment Minister vows to improve public relations with Fukushima Prefecture. Koichi Yamamoto said Friday he try to build trust with people in Fukushima Prefecture to speed up creating contaminated rural waste storage facility. The temporary (30-year) site covers 15 km2 adjacent to F. Daiichi shared by both host towns – Okuma and Futaba. There are more than 2,300 landowners that will be affected by the large land-area, and only 234 have agreed to Tokyo’s proposals. Yamamoto said, “I’m aware that getting landowners’ consent is a very tough issue.” Some uncommitted landowners are questioning the government’s commitment because Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has changed environment ministers four times since he took office. Yamamoto says the turnover has been within the Liberal Democratic Party so there has been much continuity, but conceded, “I have to make efforts to go to Fukushima often to make stronger connections than [former minister] Marukawa did.” http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2016/08/05/national/japans-new-environment-minister-pledges-build-trust-contaminated-waste-storage-facility-fukushima/#.V6XTz9Lr0dU

  • Ikata unit #3 is scheduled to restart this week. Ikata will be the third nuclear station reactivated since the end of Tokyo’s post-Fukushima moratorium. Shikoku Electric Company wants to begin the restart procedure on Friday (August 12). The original plan was to restart in late July, but problems discovered in pre-operational inspections needed to be resolved. (Aside - Ikata #3 had been shuttered for five years, so the pre-operational issues came as no surprise to this reporter – End aside.) Barring unforeseeable complications, Ikata #3’s reactor operator will begin control rod withdrawal on August 12, criticality should occur on the 13th, and electrical generation on the 15th. http://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/en/news/20160805_31/ -- http://www.jaif.or.jp/en/ikata-3-to-be-restarted-on-august-12/

  • Tepco says “no” to a suit claiming a dementia patient was lost due to the nuke accident. Tepco has admitted at least partial responsibility for many of the deaths of hospital patients during the evacuation of March 2011. However, in the case of a woman who walked out of a Futaba medical care facility following the 3/11/11 earthquake, the utility testified in Tokyo District Court that it "cannot recognize that the nuclear accident led to the disappearance." The Fukushima Family Court previously declared that she had "left the hospital alone after the earthquake, ended up wandering through a virtually uninhabited landscape, and encountered deadly dangers" due to the Fukushima accident. But, Tepco says the woman likely "wandered out of the hospital due to the earthquake itself," because the electrical blackout severed power to the door locks. The family insists that the woman would not have disappeared if the nuclear accident had not occurred. The woman’s body has never been found and Tokyo has ruled that she is most likely dead. http://mainichi.jp/english/articles/20160805/p2a/00m/0na/003000c

August 4, 2016

  • All fiscal 2015 marine products were found safe. Fukushima Prefecture announced the good news on Monday, July 25th, but no news outlets reported on it. The testing period ending in March, 2016, included 8,438 marine products existing within a 20km radius of F. Daiichi. This did not include the waters within the nuke plant’s port area. Analysis revealed that all products were below 100 Becquerels per kilogram of Cesium, and 7,702 contained no detectible radioactive Cesium. The highest concentration of 94 Bq/kg was with stingrays, which is not a food fish. It is important to note that 21 species of fish remain banned for marketing, even though none of them have Cesium concentrations above Japan’s highly-restrictive limit. (The international standard is 1,000 Bq/kg) http://www.jaif.or.jp/en/for-the-first-time-since-fukushima-accident-no-marine-products-show-radioactive-concentrations-above-the-reference-value/

  • Tokyo’s antinuclear tent village will be forcibly removed. Five years ago, tents we placed outside the Industry Ministry in Kasumigaseki by antinuclear groups in order to hold a perpetual protest against nukes in Japan. METI filed for a court injunction, and a fine to pay for the use of public property, against the antinuclear village in 2012. A Tokyo court invoked the injunction in 2013, but the apparently well-heeled protestors have appealed at every level since then. On July 28th (one week ago), Japan’s Supreme Court upheld the lower court ruling, and none of the popular Press reported on it. Not only will the tents be forcibly removed and protestors evicted, but those funding the antinuclear village will have to pay for land use. The fine will be about $100 for each day the tents were on METI property, for a total of more than $390,000 plus interest. The antinukes cried “foul”, claiming that the government was violating their constitutional right to freedom of expression. http://www.jaif.or.jp/en/japanese-government-wins-in-supreme-court-tents-of-anti-nuclear-groups-next-to-meti-ministry-building-to-be-forcibly-removed/

  • Mihama unit #3 will be the third Japanese nuclear plant granted extended operation. On August 3rd the Nuclear Regulation Authority said the unit has passed all first-stage screenings to qualify for a 20 year re-licensing. The nuke will reach its 40th anniversary of initial licensing in December, making it susceptible to Japan’s knee-jerk post-Fukushima limit for commercial operation. The 40-year rule gives no credit for non-operation caused by the nuclear moratorium ordered by Tokyo following the March, 2011, accident. The NRA is accepting public input on the approval for license extension for 30 days. After that, the regulator will review planning, such as upgrades for quake resistance, new spent fuel storage racks, and whether reactor internals can withstand the worst-case ground-motion of 993 gal. If Mihama #3 passes these additional NRA requirements by November, it could be restarted within the next three years. Owner Kansai Electric Co. says that, if approved, the planned upgrades could take around three years to implement. NRA Chair Shunichi Tanaka said, "If power companies are prepared to make any level of investment, then 40 years is not an issue." http://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/en/news/20160803_26/ -- http://the-japan-news.com/news/article/0003123985 -- http://jen.jiji.com/jc/eng?g=eco&k=2016080300167

  • Yamaguchi Prefecture renews the land reclamation license for a new nuke. Renewal of the license for landfill in the town of Kaminoseki to build the Nuclear Power Station had been an issue since 2011. Now, the Prefecture has granted permission saying that the plant is positioned "within the country's energy policy”, but work should not begin before the national policy on building new nukes is clarified. Strong local and national opposition to the decision is expected. http://english.kyodonews.jp/news/2016/08/424395.html

  • Re-use of radioactively-benign soil could save Japan as much as $15 billion. Tokyo has declassified rural soil that has decayed below 8,000 Becquerels per kilogram, and plans to use it for public works projects. Critics want Tokyo to wait until radioactivity drops below 100 Bq/kg, which is the standard for recycling metals in theAct on the Regulation of Nuclear Source Material, Nuclear Fuel Material and Reactors. As such, the additional storage time would be about 170 years. The Environment Ministry argues that once the material is covered by pavements, the radioactivity at the surface would be well-below the limit. The ministry says, "Considering economic and social factors, it is appropriate to set the radioactivity concentration of recycled materials at several thousand Becquerels… it is difficult to (set the standards for reusing tainted soil) at 100 Becquerels from a realistic point of view." Instead of spending an estimated $30 billion for 170 years of storage, the cost would be reduced to $15 billion. http://mainichi.jp/english/articles/20160803/p2a/00m/0na/014000c

  • Japan’s first nuclear terrorism-response facility is approved. The NRA has given the OK for Kansai Electric Company to build a remote reactor control facility should a main control room (or rooms) be unusable due to terrorist attack or plane crash. Standby control room plans for Takahama units #3 & 4 were found to fully comply with post-Fukushima regulations. It is expected that NRA approval for construction will ensue. The decision was announced at a behind-closed-door meeting between the NRA and Kansai Electric Co.  This was done to maintain secrecy as to the location of the standby control facility at Takahama station. The two units are currently shuttered by court injunction. http://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/en/news/20160802_20/

  • Many local governments have worries about “indoor evacuation” (sheltering) plans. Those within a radius of 5 to 30 km would be told to initially stay indoors, then evacuate in stages if necessary. Temporary sheltering is intended to facilitate prompt evacuation of the 5km radius around a nuke accident. A survey conducted from mid-June to mid-July, covered 21 prefectural governments and 135 municipalities within a 5-30 km radius of nuke stations. Of the groups that responded, 71 expressed concern about the guidelines, while 22 said they were not worried. The concerned officials say that planning does not take into account the destruction of evacuation routes, bridges, and other buildings in the surrounding area, should sheltering not be enough to protect citizens. The NRA says local governments should not be concerned. One NRA official said, “Indoor evacuation will not be for a prolonged period. Gyms and other public facilities would be available for residents even if their homes were destroyed.” http://www.asahi.com/ajw/articles/AJ201608030068.html

August 1, 2016

  • Tomioka Town begins preparation for repopulation. Tokyo plans to begin temporary home stays for two zones in Tomioka, which is located between 5-12km south of F. Daiichi and inside the mandated evacuation zone. The government wants to lift the current restrictions by next April. Decontamination efforts are nearly completed, two convenience stores have opened, and a medical facility will provide medical services beginning in October. Some assembly members called for the full resumption of the Futaba Police Station’s main office in Tomioka to dispel anxiety over public safety, while others requested the display of a town radiation dosage map showing radiation “hot spots”. One “difficult to return” zone in the town will not be affected by Tokyo’s repopulation plans. http://www.fukushimaminponews.com/news.html?id=702

  • There is more than 700,000 tons of water in storage at F. Daiichi. Out of the roughly 707,000 tons in storage, nearly 670,000 tons have been run through the multi-nuclide removal systems, of which almost 189,000 tons have been further processed to remove detectible levels of Strontium-90 so that only biologically-innocuous Tritium remains. Because of a popular aversion to radiation and the mere possibility of exposure, the purified water storage problem continues to amplify. One important point is that the current volume of water remaining in the basements of the four damaged units is roughly 60,000 tons, which is down from the 66,000 ton total in January. http://www.tepco.co.jp/en/press/corp-com/release/betu16_e/images/160729e0101.pdf -- http://www.tepco.co.jp/en/press/corp-com/release/betu16_e/images/160108e0201.pdf

  • Iodine Jelly will be stockpiled for infant ingestion in the unlikely event of another nuke accident. The jelly is strawberry flavored, and can be dissolved in hot water or milk for consumption. There currently are about 115,000 infants within 30 kilometers of Japan’s eleven nuclear stations. But, Tokyo will have 300,000 doses of the jelly stored around the nuke locations to cover a worst-case scenario. Previously, the plan was to have pharmacists dissolve iodine powder for infants after they have been evacuated. However, it has been decided that the protective measure could come too late for infants, whose thyroids are assumed to be more susceptible to small doses of radioactive iodine. The government has placed an order for the jelly and will begin distribution to municipalities in September. Tokyo will provide financial support for the communities to stock the medication. http://www.asahi.com/ajw/articles/AJ201608010008.html

  • Two more Press outlets report on unit #2’s non-melt-through. On Friday, the Asahi Shimbun and Kyodo News posted articles on Tepco’s unit #2 muon scan results. Kyodo News’ report contained rhetoric steeped in doubt, while the Asahi report was definite and indubious. In fact, the Asahi stated that the findings disproved prior speculations of a complete melt-through, “Most of the nuclear fuel inside the No. 2 reactor at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant apparently did not melt through the pressure vessel as previously believed… The latest finding negates past studies that have suggested that most of the nuclear fuel inside the reactor had melted through the vessel.” This brings the total number of Press outlets in Japan to report on finding the corium to four (out of more than 50). As yet, we have been unable to find any international Press coverage. http://www.asahi.com/ajw/articles/AJ201607290050.html -- http://english.kyodonews.jp/news/2016/07/423504.html

  • The Industry Ministry (METI) considers a new public fund for F. Daiichi decommissioning. Tepco will have repay any money to the national government over a long period of time. The scheme ensure steady progress in the decommissioning effort. It is estimated that total cost of decommissioning will be “tens of billions” of dollars. Tepco says they have been able to secure nearly $20 billion and the public fund would cover anything over that amount. This should provide assurance of the recovery of Fukushima Prefecture. However, METI says the creation of the fund would require yet another Tepco management reformation. The ministry plans to submit their proposal to the Diet (national congress) next year. http://asia.nikkei.com/Politics-Economy/Policy-Politics/Public-fund-may-help-decomission-Fukushima?page=2

  • Restarting all qualified nukes could cost utilities $32 billion. The expense includes meeting Japan’s new nuke safety regulations and licensing extensions. The cost estimate does not include money spent for precautions against terrorist attack, which could add another $1 billion to the total. This is the third-such annual survey, and has shown a $1.5 increase since 2013. The utilities believe they can recoup the costs once the shuttered units are restarted. http://www.asahi.com/ajw/articles/AJ201607310028.html

July 28, 2016

  • Unit #2’s re-solidified fuel (corium) is confirmed to be inside the reactor vessel (RPV). Tepco has posted a detailed Press handout concerning the muon scanning results for unit #2 (link below). On page four of the handout, we can see that the corium remains in the bottom head of the RPV. The image also indicates that some of the damaged fuel is still in the core area, where it was located before the March, 2011, tsunami-spawned nuclear calamity. Page six of the handout shows that of  the 210 tons of fuel and support structures that originally comprised the undamaged core, 20-50 tons remain in the core barrel and “about 160 tons” is collected in the RPV’s bottom head The inherently limited resolution with muon imaging compels approximation of the masses, which leaves the speculative door open for believing that as much as 14% of the core might possibly have worked its way through some of the bottom head and re-solidified on the base-mat beneath the RPV. However, if we compare the unit #2 core barrel image with unit #1, we see a drastic difference. Unit #1’s core barrel showed brightly, indicating full relocation. Unfortunately, but not unexpectedly, only one major news outlet in Japan, NHK World, reported on Tepco’s news release. However, NHK’s article makes it seem that the corium in the bottom head of the RPV is still molten, which is absolutely incorrect. (unit #2 imaging)  http://www.tepco.co.jp/en/nu/fukushima-np/handouts/2016/images/handouts_160728_01-e.pdf -- (unit #1 imaging) https://www4.tepco.co.jp/en/nu/fukushima-np/handouts/2015/images/handouts_150319_01-e.pdf -- http://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/en/news/20160728_31/  (Comment – Why is both the Japanese and international Press ignoring this highly-significant information? See the next item…)

  • A sociologist says “only sensational news [about Fukushima] is being reported.” Professor Hiroshi Kainuma of Ritsumeikan University told the Foreign Correspondence Club of Japan (FCCJ) that most news stories make Fukushima look like a horrific disaster. He then then asked, “Is this really how it is?” Kainuma then answers “No!” Getting housing as well as offices for companies involved in F. Daiichi decommissioning is easier than it seems. The problems faced by most people are not really different from those faced by all Japanese, such as garbage disposal and traffic congestion. Kainuma says it is time to “share reality as it really is” and “support those who will engage in the decommissioning. He has published an encyclopedia about the F. Daiichi decommissioning based on three principles: objectivity, neutrality, and empathy. The Encyclopedia “looks at the people living around the NPPs, not just engineering and technical issues.” http://www.jaif.or.jp/en/sociologist-says-its-time-to-update-recognition-of-realities-at-fukushima/ (Comment – This reporter has complained for several years that most Japanese and international Press is only interested in fomenting Fear, Uncertainty, and Doubt [FUD], while intentionally ignoring anything positive about Fukushima. Case in point – the above confirmation of the location on unit #2’s corium. Hopefully, the FCCJ will take Kainuma’s words to heart; but, I’m not holding my breath. Fukushima FUD sells, and the converse doesn’t.)

  • Less than 1% of food-fish caught near F. Daiichi remains contaminated. Only one of the 113 fish taken from within 20 kilometers of Fukushima Daiichi in April contains any detectible Cesium-134. The Pacific Ocean has a background concentration of Cesium-137 from post-WWII nuclear weapon’s testing. Cs-137 has a half-life of ~30 years, which means it will be detectible for more than 300 years. But, the Cs-134 has only a two year half-life and literally disintegrated from the Pacific two decades after atmospheric weapon’s testing stopped. Any Cs-134 currently found in the Pacific waters or its biota must have come from the Fukushima accident in 2011. Cs-134 was readily detectible in food-fish near F. Daiichi soon after the bulk of radioactive emissions were expunged from the four damaged units. The current lack of detectability strongly indicates that aqueous releases to the Pacific have greatly diminished and the fish caught within 20 km of the nuke station are safe to eat. https://www4.tepco.co.jp/en/nu/fukushima-np/f1/smp/2016/images/fish02_160722-e.pdf 

  • On the other hand, only 5 of the 18 fish caught inside the F. Daiichi port area have no detectible Cs-134. This should come as no surprise because the inner quay – where all releases to the sea originate - is barricaded and sealed with a permeable “silt dam” which allows water level inside the quay to rise and fall with the tides. The silt dam filters the greater amount of both Cesium isotopes and keeps them within the quay itself. But, the port area outside the quay, within the break-wall, continues to receive tide-spawned Cesium isotopes, slowing the drop in concentrations in the meat of port-area food-fish.  It is important to note that 55% of the fish taken from the port have less than the national limit for consumption of 100 Becquerels per kilogram – the highest percentage to date. https://www4.tepco.co.jp/en/nu/fukushima-np/f1/smp/2016/images/fish01_160722-e.pdf

  • The NRA says quake calculations for Oi nuke station are adequate. Recently, a former Nuclear Regulation Authority commissioner publically questioned the adequacy of the methodology used to calculate worst-case earthquakes. This spurred a reinvestigation by the NRA concerning Oi station. On Wednesday, the agency said that the alternative methodology suggested by the former commissioner actually resulted in calculated ground movement less than the presently used methodology. The NRA concluded that the recalculation method is not trustworthy and the figure obtained cannot be used for a comparison with the initial one. The Press alleges that there are “experts” who want the present methodology changed, but NRA Chair Shunichi Tanaka said they will make no changes unless actual proof of a need is submitted. http://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/en/news/20160727_21/

  • Tepco wants its nuclear stations removed from the “Pokemon Go” app. Virtual monsters are believed to be hidden at nuke plants, and this includes at least one of Tepco’s three stations; F. Daiichi. F. Daini, and Kashiwazaki-Kariwa. App creator, Niantic Inc., will only say that Fukushima Daiichi and Daini stations were not included in the design. However, some of the monster locations are within the government-mandated F. Daiichi evacuation zone, where players can enter after going through registration procedures. Fukushima Governor Masao Uchibori says it is “unfavorable” for citizens to enter the zone while playing Pokemon Go. No players have yet been found on Tepco premises or within the Fukushima evacuation zone. http://mainichi.jp/english/articles/20160726/p2a/00m/0na/015000c -- http://english.kyodonews.jp/news/2016/07/423087.html

July 25, 2016

  • Regional banks have been reopening in evacuation zone communities. Residents have been slow to repopulate after the lifting of Tokyo’s 2011 withdrawal order. The banks feel that reopening branches would be an incentive for the reluctant residents to return. The Namie evacuation order is scheduled to be retracted next March, so Abukuma Shinkin has reopened a branch in the town. “We hope our branch, where local people can stop by freely and enjoy chatting, will become a place that can console them,” said branch chief Takahiro Abe, “Being the first to reopen a branch in the town will hopefully allow us to attract people and see rises in deposits and loans.” The prior reopening of Toho Bank in Nahara has not had much impact. The branch was reopened in April, seven months after the evacuation order was lifted. Only about 8% of Naraha’s residents have gone home. http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2016/07/24/business/fukushima-banks-hope-to-lure-nuclear-evacuees-back-by-reopening-branches/#.V5SvQSnr0dV

  • A Russian company says it can be a part of the F. Daiichi wastewater clean-up effort. State-based Rosatom’s waste disposal facility has built a prototype system that strips all radioactive isotopes, including Tritium. The naturally-occurring isotope of Hydrogen is removed through distillation and electrolysis. Although biologically harmless, Tritium’s weak emissions concern millions of Japanese. These fears have kept Tepco from expunging the more than 600,000 tons of water that have been cleansed of all isotopes except Tritium. The Rosatom system is said to reduce Tritium by a factor of 6,000, which would bring the concentrations well-below Japan’s drinking water limit. Rosatom says duplicating the facility at F. Daiichi would probably cost about $700 million. http://asia.nikkei.com/Politics-Economy/International-Relations/Japan-nuclear-cleanup-next-target-in-Russian-economic-offensive

  • Tokyo declassifies 7.7 tons Chiba City’s contaminated waste. When collected, the wastes had a radioactivity level of greater than 8,000 Becquerels per kilogram and were designated as “specified”, which disallowed ordinary trash burial. However, natural radioactive decay has dropped 3.5 tons of zeolite down to 6,100 Bq/kg, and 4.2 tons of incinerator ash down to 4,000 Bq/kg. While this technically allows the 7.7 tons to be disposed as ordinary trash, Chiba Municipal Government will probably continue storage of the material because it is afraid regular disposal will cause residents anxiety and harm the trash disposal business. http://jen.jiji.com/jc/eng?g=eco&k=2016072200629 -- http://mainichi.jp/english/articles/20160722/p2a/00m/0na/021000c

  • Rent-free evacuee housing is extended for another year. Fukushima Prefecture’s government announced the decision on July 15th in Fukushima City. This will affect the evacuees from ten of the eleven municipalities impacted by the Tokyo mandate of 2011. The one community that has decided to not honor the extension is Naraha, which will consider the rent-free option on an individual basis. The prefecture decided to prolong the housing benefit because the lifting of the evacuation order differs from community to community inside the evacuation zone. The 10 affected municipalities are the whole areas of five towns (Naraha, Tomioka, Okuma, Futaba and Namie) and two villages (Katsurao and Iitate). In addition, it is applied to portions of Minamisoma City, Kawamata Town and Kawauchi Village. In Minamisoma, the program only applies to evacuees from “difficult-to-return” and “residency-restricted” zones, plus another zone preparing for the lifting of the evacuation order. http://www.fukushimaminponews.com/news.html?id=699

  • Tokyo tells nuclear operators to be wary of the new “Pokémon Go” game. The Nuclear Regulation Authority is calling for heightened security to prevent people from entering the premises of nuclear plants while playing the game on a smartphone. This is because three teens entered the employee parking lot of an Ohio nuclear plant while playing the game and were apprehended by station security guards. http://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/en/news/20160722_28/ -- https://public-blog.nrc-gateway.gov/2016/07/19/pokemon-go-not-a-go-at-nuclear-plants/

 

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