Fukushima Accident Updates


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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August 21, 2014

  • Tepco has begun testing their new groundwater plan. On Wednesday, about 500 tons of groundwater was pumped out of sub-drains near the basement walls of units #1 through #4. 290 tons were run through the isotopic removal system (ALPS). The results of effluent analysis have not been completed, as yet. Tepco says ALPS should reduce any groundwater contamination by at least a factor of ten thousand. The purified water is being stored awaiting test results. Once the treated water meets Tepco’s self-imposed limits for discharge, local governments and fisheries must agree to the release before it can happen. NHK World; TEPCO starts test-treating groundwater; 8/20/2014

  • Overseas rice exports from Fukushima will begin. National Federation of Agricultural Cooperative Associations (Zen-Noh) said it will send 300 kilograms of the grain to Singapore. A Zen-Noh official said, “Despite our efforts at explaining the safety of Fukushima-made farm products, up until now we have not been able to find retailers who wished to trade rice grown in Fukushima. From now on, we aim to export more Fukushima rice, including to Singapore.” Foreign sales of Fukushima rice were stopped in 2012 due to fears of contamination. The rice to be shipped was grown 60-80 kilometers from F. Daiichi and has passed all radiation monitoring. Local officials say rigorous testing proves there is no risk from consuming rice grown in Fukushima prefecture. One Fukushima official said, “Our rice is proved to have passed the government safety standard of 100 Becquerels per kilogram (a measure of radioactive contamination), and is mostly below detection levels.” In 2012, export of peaches and apples resumed to Thailand and last year exports of the fruit to Malaysia restarted. http://www.japantoday.com/category/national/view/japan-to-resume-fukushima-rice-exports?utm_campaign=jt_newsletter&utm_medium=email&utm_source=jt_newsletter_2014-08-20_AM

  • Public housing projects for evacuees are behind schedule. About 40% of the 3,700 planned units intended for those who do not wish to go home are experiencing up to 9 months of delays. The project’s costs are coming from Reconstruction Agency subsidies. The Prefecture says the delays are due to several reasons, including inability to satisfy landowners, forested area that has yet to be cleared, and transformation of rice paddies being behind schedule. The 3,700 units were supposed to be finished by March, 2016. Another 1,200 units were planned for the following year, but that deadline can no longer be met. The 4,900 public housing units are to be built in 15 municipalities across the prefecture. A lottery was held in July to select the residents of the 528 units to be ready by March, 2015. http://www.fukushimaminponews.com/news.html?id=389

  • Japan's Nuclear Damage Compensation and Decommissioning Facilitation Corp. has begun operation. In order to upgrade the work at F. Daiichi, Tokyo will provide about 50 decommissioning experts to Tepco and develop needed technologies through the corporation. Shunsuke Kondo, former chairman of the Japan Atomic Energy Commission, was chosen as chair of the committee to study decommissioning-related technologies. http://jen.jiji.com/jc/eng?g=eco&k=2014082100415

  • Most local leaders from around F. Daiichi want all of former plant manager Yoshida’s testimony released. Yoshida gave many hours of testimony to the Diet’s investigative committee (NAIIC) in 2012. He formally asked that his testimony not be disclosed. Yoshida died of esophageal cancer in July of 2013. The government has previously released a small part of the testimony, and plans to make a bit more available to the public. However, the heads of eight of the 13 communities either inside or overlapping the mandated evacuation zone want full disclosure. Five of them said they have no problem if all of their own NAIIC testimonies were released, so there should be no issue with a full release of Yoshida’s. The mayors of Futaba and Okuma, which host the Fukushima No. 1 plant, as well as leaders in Namie, Minami-Soma, Naraha, Kawauchi, Katsurao and Iwaki, said Yoshida’s testimony should be made public. Governor Sato says he is undecided. http://ajw.asahi.com/article/0311disaster/fukushima/AJ201408210044
  • A town near Tokyo says they will not support storage of locally-produced rural radioactive wastes. The mayor of Shioya, in Tochigi Prefecture north of Tokyo, has demanded that the government drop the plans to build a permanent storage site in his town. The site was planned for sewage sludge, incinerated ash, and other debris with more than 8,000 Becquerels per kilogram of activity. Last month, the ministry decided to use state-owned land in Shioya, but Mayor Kazuhisa Mikata says he and the town assembly want no part of it because it could have a negative impact on the town’s natural resources and local produce would be subject to damaging rumors. Environment Minister Shinji Inoue says the site is desperately needed and hopes to convince the officials to relent. A panel set up by Tochigi Prefecture will meet to examine the process used by the government to select the location. NHK World; Town rejects plans to build radioactive waste site; 8/18/14

August 18, 2014

  • A Japanese scientist calls for raising the exposure goal for Fukushima repopulation. Risk assesment researcher Junko Nakanishi of the National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology says, “It’s about time to think of ways to live under a certain level of risk.” Nakanishi said that the 20 millisievert threshold is too high for many residents to accept and the 1 millisievert figure is unrealistic, given the limits and cost of decontamination technology. She explains, "The risk is not zero, but we need to think about the amount we can tolerate." She proposes a maximum exposure level of 5 millisieverts per year as a target for decontaminating evacuation zones. http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2014/08/17/national/science-health/scientist-weighs-homecoming-risks-fukushima/
  • The Nuclear Regulation Authority has stopped accepting public comments for the Sendai restart. More than 4,000 have been received. The NRA has not released any information on commentary content, critics speculate that many call for stricter safety regulations as well as increased earthquake protection and full NRA control of emergency evacuations. Two Sendai Pressurized Water Reactor units  are expected to be the first Japanese nukes restarted to end the nuclear moratorium. NHK World; Thousands of opinions on nuke restart...; 8/17/14
  • A former defense minister may be behind an evacuee fraud scandal. A non-prfit company headed by former Defense Minister Fumio Kyuma did not submit its 2013 business report by the June 2014 deadline. Previous business reports showed no actual operations for 2011 and 2012. A Metropolitan Police investigation suggests that the NPO used its name to win the trust of Tepco, then filed fictitious claims for damages from rumors related to the nuclear accident. The NPO is suspected of being a dummy company. http://jen.jiji.com/jc/eng?g=eco&k=2014081600203
  • 80 residents of Kawauchi approve lifting the evacuation order. Gvernment officials proposed that the order be lifted after the start of additional decontamination work in September and some necessary road repair. Village mayor Yuko Endo accepted the proposal, saying villagers will be free to decide whether or not to return home. He said villagers can then go back to their lives before the nuclear accident. Industry Minister Kazuyoshi Akaba said, "An evacuation order is a very strong restriction on residents. Now that the conditions (for lifting the evacuation order) have been met, we can no longer continue to violate the constitutionally-guaranteed rights of living and property (by not allowing residents to return)." The community has 275 residents, most of which are either against repopulation or undecfided. A 53-year-old man said it is too early to lift the order because of radiation readings in some areas and some issues remain open. A 66-year-old man said he wants the order to be lifted as soon as possible because the Tokyo says it is ready to compensate residents and rebuild the village's infrastructure. http://mainichi.jp/english/english/newsselect/news/20140818p2a00m0na009000c.html -- NHK World; Fukushima village OKs lifting of evacuation order; 8/18/14

August 14, 2014       

  • Two Muon Tomography units are planned for finding the melted fuel at F. Daiichi. DSIC of Middleburg, Virginia, will design, manufacture and deliver two detectors that will be installed in the reactor buildings. Muons are sub-atomic particles made when cosmic rays enter the upper atmosphere. The devices detect and track the muons passing through objects. Changes in muon trajectory are caused by passing through dense materials, such as the melted fuel (corium) at F. Daiichi. Detectors measure the trajectory changes and provide a 3-D image of the dense material. This will give researchers strong evidence of what happened to the three damaged cores at the station. To date, estimates of the extent of damage, how much corium is inside the reactor vessels, the amount that may have melted through the reactor vessels and accumulated on the base mats beneath, and the condition of the corium, have been based on computer models. DSIC president and CEO Stanton Sloane said, "We are delighted to extend the application of our solution to assist in the recovery of the Fukushima power plant as well as support and secure a safe working environment for personnel." Los Alamos Laboratory officer Duncan McBranch says, “Muon tomography will enable plant operators to see the location of the nuclear material inside, determine its condition, and provide critical insight that can inform the design of a safer and faster cleanup." http://www.world-nuclear-news.org/RS-Cosmic-rays-to-pinpoint-Fukushima-cores-1108144.html

  • Tepco has announced its two-pronged system plans for reducing groundwater inflow with the turbine basements of units #1-#4. First, an upgraded sub-drain system will be used to pump out 500-700 tons of groundwater per day from around the basements. The water will be stored on-site for purification before releasing it to the sea. The second is the “seaside impermeable wall” to stop groundwater outflow to the station, currently under constration. Groundwater collected on the land-side of the wall will be collected, purified, and mixed with the sub-drain waters in storage. Each system’s diagrams are linked at the bottom of the Tepco Press release page… http://www.tepco.co.jp/en/press/corp-com/release/2014/1240604_5892.html

  • The first of new nuclear anti-tornado upgrades has been shown to the Press. Kansai Electric Power Company showed the improvements for 2 reactor plants at Takahama station in Fukui Prefecture. The upgrades make the seawater supply systems capable of withstanding tornadoes stronger than any ever experienced in Japan, with wind gusts of 360 kilometers per hour. The improvements were made because of Nuclear Regulation Authority concerns about seawater supply vulnerability. In addition to improved pump safety, emergency power vehicle protection has also been upgraded. NHK World; Anti-tornado facilities at nuclear plant unveiled; 8/12/14

August 11, 2014

  • The National Police Agency says 21,586 died due to the 2011 quake/tsunami. 18,498 died or continue to be missing as a direct result of the calamity, and 3,088 have subsequently expired due to related stress or illness. The direct deaths include 9,538 in Miyagi Prefecture, 4,673 in Iwate, and 1,611 in Fukushima. In addition, 1,269 persons remain unaccounted for in Miyagi, 1,132 in Iwate, and 204 in Fukushima. The remains of 90 victims remain unidentified. http://www.japantoday.com/category/national/view/no-of-dead-and-missing-from-2011-disaster-stands-at-21586?utm_campaign=jt_newsletter&utm_medium=email&utm_source=jt_newsletter_2014-08-11_PM

  • Tepco has applied for permission to build a new groundwater drainage system. The company is currently building an iron barrier along the station’s shoreline which should stanch contaminated groundwater seepage into the Pacific. In addition, Tepco has already announced they will also use sumps surrounding the basements of units #1 through #4 to pump out groundwater and strip it of all radioactive isotopes except Tritium. Subsequently, Tepco wants to discharge the purified water to the sea. To better facilitate the “pumping up” of the groundwater, fifteen new sumps will be made, but only if approved by the Nuclear Regulation Authority. The company says they have advised local fisheries of the plan, and there has been no objection. However, release to the sea will not happen without a positive consensus from local residents. NHK World; TEPCO files application for new drainage system; 8/10/14

  • Tokyo intends to give more than $3 billion (USD) to landowners for temporary waste storage. The subsidies are intended primarily for Okuma and Futaba to cover the thirty-year temporary storage limit. Some lands will be leased, and others might be bought by the government. It is intended to give the land the most environmentally appropriate treatment possible, as well as potentially aid in revitalizing the region. http://jen.jiji.com/jc/eng?g=eco&k=2014080800527

  • A temporary facility with three shops opened in Nahara on July 31st. Mayor Yukiei Matsumoto said the "Kokonara Shopping Center" is important and pledged to support it. The three shops include a supermarket outlet, ice cream store, and a noodle shop. Residents and reconstruction works are already shopping there. Mizuki Watanabe, a 73-year-old housewife living in evacuee housing in Iwaki city and staying at her Nahara home on a temporary basis, said, "I bought sashimi (sliced raw fish) for dinner at the supermarket. It's very convenient." It is hoped this will make repopulation more attractive to Nahara evacuees. http://www.fukushimaminponews.com/news.html?id=384

  • A pilot project for forest decontamination could begin as early as September. It is designed to identify effective methods of decontamination, minimize costs, and reduce workers' exposure to radiation. This will be the first attempt at forestry decontamination. One location will be in Tamura City's Miyakoji district, where the government lifted an evacuation order in April. Other locations are in Minamisoma city's Odaka district, Iitate village's Nimaibashi district, and Kawauchi village's Modo district. The last three districts are designated as areas preparing for the lifting evacuation orders. http://www.fukushimaminponews.com/news.html?id=383

  • Fukushima students try to get anti-nuke signatures in Nagasaki. Two Fukushima students are collecting signatures during the events marking 69th anniversary of the Nagasaki nuclear bombing. The students intend to assist in keeping the survivors of Nagasaki in people’s minds, and pass on their stories about Fukushima in the process. One said, "For people outside the disaster-hit areas, March 11 comes only once a year, but for us, every day is March 11." She also made an attempt to tie bombs and reactors together, “In Fukushima Prefecture, many people live in fear of harmful effects to their health (from radiation). Nuclear plants and nuclear bombs share the same root, don't you think?" The relative success of their effort has not been reported. http://fukushima-is-still-news.over-blog.com/article-for-us-every-day-is-march-11-124334129.html

  • An article in the decidedly anti-nuclear Asia-Pacific Journal says radiation makes people invisible. During the 69th anniversary of Hiroshima/Nagasaki, the report ties reactors and bombs together through the concept of “Hibakusha” – people discriminated against due to radiation exposure. Writer Robert Jacobs alleges that the bombings and the Fukushima accident makes those associated with radiation exposure “invisible” to the public. He writes, “People who have been exposed to radiation, or even those who suspect that they have been exposed to radiation, including those who never experience radiation-related illnesses, may find that their lives are forever changed – that they have assumed a kind of second class citizenship. They may find that their relationships to their families, to their communities, to their hometowns, to their traditional diets and even traditional knowledge systems have been broken. They often spend the remainder of their lives wishing that they could go back, that things would become normal. They slowly realize that they have become expendable and that their government and even their society is no longer invested in their wellbeing.” He adds that the problem is not only in Japan, but is something global. He also says “sickness and mortality” go hand-in-hand with radiation exposure, but the “Hibakusha” impact is seldom addressed. Further, he writes that it is “disingenuous for nuclear industry apologists to say things like ‘no one died at Fukushima’”. Roberts claims to be an historian of the social and cultural aspects of nuclear technology. [Comment – to the contrary, it is disingenuous for Roberts to infer that many people will get sick and die due to Fukushima. He obviously has no scientific understanding of the biological effects of low level exposure and distrusts anyone who does.] http://japanfocus.org/-Robert-Jacobs/4157

August 7, 2014

  • Tepco revised their unit #3 estimates of equipment failure and core damage. The equipment failure topic focuses on Reactor Core Isolation Cooling (RCIC) system. Although only designed for four hours of operation, it lasted for some 20 hours before stopping. RCIC uses steam from the reactor to spin a turbine connected to a pump that injects water into the reactor pressure vessel (RPV) during an emergency condition. The system will run as long as there is sufficient steam pressure and an adequate supply of water to be injected. There was more than enough water in the condensate storage supply tank when unit #3 RCIC automatically shut down. Thus it was assumed some sort of system failure had occurred. However, it now seems that RCIC automatically ceased because of high turbine exhaust pressure. Why this happened with unit #3 RCIC, and not with unit #2 RCIC remains to be understood. With respect to core damage, Tepco’s newest computer simulation suggests that the meltdown began as early as 5:30am on March 13th. This is about 5 hours earlier than prior estimates. Because of the earlier assumed onset of meltdown, Tepco now believes that most of the molten core ate its way through the bottom of the RPV and fell to the steel-reinforced concrete floor beneath. Some of the melted fuel is believed to still be inside of the RPV, however. The escaped molten mass would have been 0.85 meters thick and penetrated the base-mat up to a depth of 0.68 meters. Nearly a meter of concrete would have remained before the mass could have burned through and fell to the outer steel shell of the containment. Government researchers directing the Tepco engineering team said the reason for the higher core damage estimates is the improper shutdown of the High Pressure Coolant Injection system. http://www.tepco.co.jp/en/press/corp-com/release/2014/1240141_5892.html -- http://www.tepco.co.jp/en/press/corp-com/release/betu14_e/images/140806e0101.pdf  For a representative news media report, see… NHK World; Meltdown at Fukushima reactor 3 worse than thought; 8/6/14

  • Tepco wants decontaminated groundwater releases locally approved. The company wishes to pump water out of 27 existing sub-drains that surround the basements of units 1 through 4, plus 15 more which are in the planning stage. Tepco feels they might reduce groundwater in-seepage to the contaminated basements by as much as 200 tons per day. Before discharge to the sea, the waters would be passed through the advanced isotopic purification system (ALPS) and have only small amounts of Tritium remaining. The existing ALPS system, which has been fully operational for several weeks, will be upgraded with additional processing streams by this fall. Tepco also says their shoreline barricades have reduced the estimated groundwater seepage to the sea by about 50%, and is now believed to be 200 tons per day. Another iron barrier is being installed to provide further out-flow protection, also on-schedule for a fall completion. NHK World; TEPCO plans to release treated water to ocean; 8/7/14 -- http://jen.jiji.com/jc/eng?g=eco 

  • Yomiuri Shimbun says using actual dosimeter exposures for repopulation is realistic. Japan’s largest newspaper believes that “setting realistic targets to lower radiation exposure doses is essential” for expediting decontamination work needed for Fukushima exclusion zone repopulation. The prior use of airborne monitoring to assume approximate exposures is subject to variances and over-estimation. Personal dosimeter measurements have shown that airborne monitoring estimates can be as much as double the actual amounts. Thus dosimeter-based exposure levels is the viable option for setting decontamination criteria. In addition, the Yomiuri argues that using dosimeter-based values is not enough. The 1 millisievert per year “goal” is often interpreted as a “threshold of safety and danger”, but this is neither true nor practical. The 1 mSv/year goal has made many who have been allowed to return home, reject the opportunity because radiation doses are believed to be too high to be safe. Thus, “The 1-millisievert benchmark, set by the former Democratic Party of Japan-led government to meet requests of local residents that decontamination work be carried out thoroughly, still hampers reconstruction of the affected areas.” The Yomiuri believes that the IAEA guideline of 20 mSv/year is “tolerable” and should be used as the criterion for repopulation. http://the-japan-news.com/news/article/0001475240

  • Miyagi Prefecture will allow a radioactive waste disposal siting study. Miyagi Gov. Yoshihiro Murai will notify Environment Minister Nobuteru Ishihara of the decision. Tokyo has announced three candidate sites in Miyagi, but needed prefectural permission to proceed. The local officials of the three sites had voiced opposition, but it seems two have reconsidered. On July 25th, Ishihara asked Gov. Murai asked the mayors of 35 municipalities to cooperate with the ministry for a site-selection survey for a final disposal facility for "specially designated" waste, as defined by the Ministry. The Mayors could not reach a consensus, so the governor was left with making the decision unilaterally, which he was reluctant to do. On August 4th, Murai emphasized the need for a positive decision, saying "A massive amount of specially designated waste is stored at various areas of the prefecture, and needs to be disposed of at an early date. To dispel the three municipalities' concerns, it's inevitable for us to accept a detailed survey." Thus, Kurihara Mayor Isamu Sato and Taiwa Mayor Hajimu Asano decided to accept the survey. Kami Mayor Inomata continued his dissent, and some other mayors agreed with him. But, most said local communities should support the siting survey and continue open discussion on the matter, providing the consensus the governor sought. In response, Mayor Inomata said local residents may try to block the surveys, "A survey shouldn't be conducted without local residents' understanding. If the national government is to forcibly start its survey, it would cause confusion." The studies will include checks on unground geology and groundwater infiltration levels. http://mainichi.jp/english/english/newsselect/news/20140805p2a00m0na007000c.html

  • The groundwater bypassing effort at F. Daiichi shows improving results. Last week, the Press reported that one well had merely dropped 4 centimeters in level as result of the process. However, they failed to mention that levels in three other wells had dropped 10 centimeters. As of June 25th, the “pumped –up” water discharged to the Pacific totaled nearly 16,000 tons, all of which met the self-imposed limits set by Tepco which are roughly 10 times less than national standards. The company reiterated that heavy rainfalls the past few months may well have limited the impact of the bypassing effort because in-seepage from the surface has been high. http://www.jaif.or.jp/english/news_images/pdf/ENGNEWS01_1407137706P.pdf

  • The head of Tokyo’s nuke watchdog agency says Tepco is not doing a good job with groundwater management. Shunichi Tanaka, Nuclear Regulation Authority chairman, said, “The biggest risk is the trench water. Until that matter is addressed, it will be difficult to proceed with other decommissioning work. It appears that they are getting off track” because of the parallel work being done to upgrade ALPS. His rationale seems predicated on yet another worst-case scenario, “It would be the best if you can keep all contamination from spreading. But what if another tsunami hits the plant and the highly contaminated water in the trench is discharged while you are trying to do everything [else]?” http://blogs.wsj.com/japanrealtime/2014/08/07/fukushima-watch-regulator-says-tepco-must-focus-on-trench-water/

August 4, 2014

  • Four people have been arrested on suspicion of defrauding Tepco for compensation funds. The total amount is about $120,000 USD. All four are suspected of filing false claims on behalf of their clients through an “event company” in Koriyama City, Fukushima Prefecture. The investigation began when the company was faced with a raft of client cancellations. According to police, the event company did not actually operate. One suspect is the former official for a Tokyo nonprofit group that handles paperwork for evacuees making damages claims over harmful rumors. The NPO official denied the allegations, but the other three suspects admitted culpability. http://jen.jiji.com/jc/eng?g=eco&k=2014080200250

  • The shroud covering unit #1 will be removed for debris removal and fuel transfer preparations. Unit #1’s massive plastic and steel cover was completed in October, 2011, which significantly reduced atmospheric releases from the site. The debris inside has been stabilized and airborne levels are 1/100th of the levels when the cover was finished. To further minimize releases when the cover is removed, small debris and dust will be vacuumed, an anti-scattering agent will be sprayed over the exposed area, and large rubble will be sprinkled with water to minimize releases during its removal. The rubble will be stored onsite. Since the interior of the damaged building will be exposed to the weather, all rainwater will be collected inside the lower part of the structure which is still intact. The rainwater will be treated and stored onsite.  It is estimated that radiation exposure level at the site boundary will vary between 0.002 and 0.004 millisieverts per year due to the operation. http://www.tepco.co.jp/en/press/corp-com/release/2014/1239910_5892.html

  • Tepco has posted its latest quarterly report on F. Daiichi. Significant improvement in water management has been cited by American Dr. Dale Klein, chairman of Tepco’s Nuclear Reform Monitoring Committee. Klein says, "I am pleased and to see continued progress in a variety of areas at the Fukushima Daiichi site, at the company’s other nuclear installations, and in the management of its nuclear program. At the same time, it is clear that many challenges remain. While I am encouraged that the ALPS system is back online and that the number of incidents involving leaks of contaminated water have declined, the adoption and execution of a comprehensive water management plan should remain a top priority." Britain’s Lady Barbara Judge, deputy Chair of the Committee, expressed pleasure with Tepco’s Nuclear Safety Oversight Office for its efforts to instill a company-wide safety culture. http://www.tepco.co.jp/en/press/corp-com/release/2014/1239909_5892.html The executive summary of the report can be found here… http://www.tepco.co.jp/en/press/corp-com/release/betu14_e/images/140801e0101.pdf

  • The first evacuation-zone produce has been shipped to market. Forty kilograms of strawberries grown in an Iitate greenhouse is expected to be distributed by a Nagoya wholesaler. Tests run by Fukushima Prefecture have not detected any radioactive contamination. Farmer Hiroshi Sato, who runs Iitate Ichigo Land farm, says, "The fruit has a nice, sweet aroma. We can ship the produce with confidence." Sato has been traveling from his apartment in Fukushima City to tend to the berries. "I was unsure if I should resume farming while all the residents are still evacuated," Sato said, "But in the end, I thought that something had to be started. Although I do have concerns about negative publicity, I want to proceed with a positive attitude." http://ajw.asahi.com/article/0311disaster/life_and_death/AJ201408010041

  • Japan’s ruling political parties call for increased decontamination efforts. They want the government to do more to get people from no-entry zones back to their homes within 5 years. They demand speedy decontamination of areas around the plant and swift establishment of intermediate facilities to store radioactive soil and other contaminated material. The legislators also urge the government to quickly decommission reactors at the F. Daiichi and dispose of radioactive water at the site. In addition, to cope with possible future nuke accidents, they want joint rescue and recovery drills by personnel from the Self-Defense Forces, coast guard, police, and firefighters, by creating a new emergency situations agency. NHK World; Coalition parties form recovery proposals; 8/1/14

  • Tsunami projections for the Takahama nuke station must be upgraded. The NRA had approved the former calculations for a worst-case tsunami, but a recent screening found incorrect data in the Kansai Electric Company submittal concerning the impact of an undersea landslide. The company must now use the corrected data and recalculate.  Kansai Electric is erecting a 6.5 meter-high anti-tsunami wall to protect against the previously projected 5.7 meter tsunami. The recalculation could force Kansai Electric to increase the wall height and might cause upgrades to other countermeasures. NHK World; Tsunami projections for nuclear plant to be redone; 7/31/14

July 31, 2014

  • Unreported by the Press, it seems Tepco’s shoreline barriers are working quite well. The contamination levels inside the F. Daiichi break wall continue to lessen with no detectible (ND) Cesium-134 and no more than 3.1 Becquerels per liter of Cs-137. One of the five sampling points shows gross Beta activity of 18 Bq/liter, while the other four show ND gross Beta. In addition, the Tritium levels have dropped to 34 Bq/liter or less at all five locations. More importantly, the activity levels inside the inner port (quay) have dropped to new lows. Cs-134 varies between ND and 16 Bq/liter, Cs-137 between ND and 51 Bq/liter, and gross Beta between ND and 550 Bq/liter. In all cases, the levels are below Japan’s drinking water standards. Compared with the levels six months ago, these decreases are significant and indicate that current levels are probably residuals. There is no indication of increases coming from groundwater seepage into the sea. Thus, there can be little doubt that the soil solidification walls built along the immediate shoreline are doing a very good job of containing groundwater contamination. Data for this posting comes from Tepco’s latest report on sample activities.  http://www.tepco.co.jp/en/nu/fukushima-np/f1/smp/2014/images/2tb-east_14072901-e.pdf

  • The advanced nuclide removal system (ALPS) should be fully operational later this year. The three-stream system was upgraded and restarted this spring after problems with component wear surfaced. In order to further upgrade system efficiency, further “enhancements” have been successfully tested and are expected to be approved by the Nuclear Regulation Authority. The enhancements include upgraded isotopic absorption to bring all radionuclides below regulatory limits. All three streams are currently in an extended “hot test” stage for the removal of all radioisotopes except Tritium. Each stream can process 750 tons per day. So far, more than 100,000 tons have been purified and are in storage at F. Daiichi. The initial three stream system is expected to be in full operation at some point after mid-October. An second multi-stream system and an “advanced” process are currently being assembled, with hot testing scheduled through December. If all goes as planned, all three systems will be in full operation before 2015.  http://www.tepco.co.jp/en/press/corp-com/release/2014/1239858_5892.html -- http://www.tepco.co.jp/en/nu/fukushima-np/roadmap/images/d140731_01-e.pdf

  • The first detailed surveys of the unit #2 Torus (suppression pool) room wall penetrations show no leakage. One of the on-going unanswered questions about the Fukushima accident concerns the degree of damage to the containment surrounding the unit #2 reactor. Tepco believes that high pressures inside the containment caused piping penetrations through the thick, steel-reinforced concrete walls to spring leaks and release contamination and hydrogen gas to the outer reactor building. It is assumed that these leaks are still allowing water to pass through the wall and into the Torus room. Using two robots (one submerged and one crawling), Tepco has examined nearly half of the wall containing several penetrations and found no apparent leakage. A tracer was released in the water at each penetration point to show whether or not in-flow is happening. Five piping penetrations have been examined. http://www.tepco.co.jp/en/nu/fukushima-np/handouts/2014/images/handouts_140728_05-e.pdf

  • Oregon researchers say no Fukushima contamination has reached the coast. York Johnson of Oregon’s Tillamook Estuaries Partnership said their testing shows that no Fukushima radioactive material has reached the North American coastline. He added that the coast should be safe for recreation if radiation levels climb over the next several years as expected. Johnson predicts that water off the Oregon shore will peak at around 10 to 20 Becquerel per cubic meter [ton] of water in the years ahead. Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution senior scientist Ken Buesseler said, "We've seen [Fukushima] radiation halfway across the Pacific, north of Hawaii, but in U.S. waters there has been none, yet." http://news.yahoo.com/no-fukushima-radiation-tests-off-u-west-coast-231454163.html

  • Tepco is dumping ice into contaminated equipment tunnels. It is expected that this will allow the refrigeration system make an impervious ice block along the wall of the connected basements, stopping the influx of contaminated liquid. Two tons were dumped into the unit #2 tunnel and the temperature had dropped by 40C by the next day. On Wednesday, 15 tons of ice were placed in the tunnel. Sources say that Tepco wants the tunnel water to drop to 5oC to insure that the installed freezing system will form a solid ice block at the basement wall. If this happens, the more than 5,000 tons of water in the tunnel can be drained and a permanent water-blocking material can be used to replace the ice. NHK World; Ice put into utility tunnels at Fukushima Plant; 7/30/14

  • Tokyo has set policy to obtain land rights for rural contaminated waste sites. Many landowners in Futaba and Okuma refuse to sell their land to the government, so the new policy will allow leasing rights so that it can use the land without transferring ownership. This will permit landowners to decide whether to sell their land or lease it. Those who decide to sell will retain their legal residency which will let them return to ownership after the temporary facility has been decommissioned. http://the-japan-news.com/news/article/0001458669

  • The government will raise the limits for their decontamination “target”. Currently, the target is 0.23 microsieverts per hour for unshielded exposure estimates. However, personal dosimetry data shows that residents spend much of their time indoors and are shielded from outside radiation levels to some extent, reducing their actual exposure. The cities of Date and Soma gave dosimeters to their residents and compared ambient (outdoor) radiation levels with the actual doses. Individual exposure varies with location and daily activities. Based on the data, the Environment Ministry says they will raise to the target ambient radiation level to end decontamination efforts at somewhere between 0.3 and 0.6 µSv/hour. The ministry plans to use future dosimetry data to adjust cleanup operations accordingly and focus on areas of the most need. http://mainichi.jp/english/english/newsselect/news/20140731p2a00m0na022000c.html

  • Dr. James Conca writes that Japan’s regulators are creating a roadmap for economic destruction. He writes, “The country’s new nuclear regulatory agency is throwing its weight around to impress the public with a tough-on-nuclear stance.” Conca, a professional Geologist, says that the NRA has “decided to redefine what an active geologic fault is with respect to nuclear power plants, contrary to all the other scientists in the world” by describing a seismically active fault as one which has moved in the last 120,000 years. The consensus international standard is once in 10,000 years. He adds that this overly-strict criterion is keeping Japan’s nukes shuttered at a cost of $35 billion USD per year in increased fossil fuel imports. The impact on public and private electric bills has been considerable and threatens the entire economy of Japan. To make matters worse, when independent geologists find that anomalies show no movement within the 120,000 year period, the NRA cavalierly rejects the findings and asks for more costly investigations to be run. Conca says, “Many experts think the whole post-Fukushima regulatory situation is a mess and there are certainly accusations that NRA is posturing.” Further, if the nuke owner cannot provide 100% assurance that a fault is not active, the NRA concludes that the fault is necessarily active. This is ridiculous reasoning for there is nothing in the universe that has 100% certainty. Conca goes on to say that no nuke in the world has ever been harmed by an earthquake, not even the massive 9.0 Richter scale temblor of 3/11/11 in Japan, “In fact, Japan has performed many revisions to their seismic rules since they’ve had many substantial earthquakes in the vicinity of nuclear plants in the last 30 years, with no issues, even though ground movements were greater than expected for many of them. But given the recent difficulty of the new Nuclear Regulation Authority to promote science-based regulations, and to abstain from political shenanigans, it may be a long time before reason returns to Japan’s energy sector.” http://www.forbes.com/sites/jamesconca/2014/07/29/japans-nuclear-roadmap-to-economic-destruction/

  • Ex-Tepco officials may be indicted for nuke accident culpability. A lawsuit was filed by Fukushima residents in 2012 with allegations of criminal negligence against more than 30 Tepco officials. Prosecutors dismissed the suit last September, but the plaintiffs exercised their legal right to being heard by a public inquest panel, narrowing the focus to six Tepco officials. The panel has decided that three indictments ought to have been issued. The three are ex-Tepco president Tsunehisa Katsumata and two former vice presidents, Sakae Muto and Ichiro Takekuro. The panel admits it is uncertain whether natural disasters will occur, but Tepco should have taken mitigating measures because such earthquakes and tsunami were likely to hit F. Daiichi. The decision will be remanded back to prosecutors to decide if indictments are warranted. If they reject the decision, it will be returned to the public panel for a final judgment which could force the three men to stand trial. The following two links are indicative of what is a widely-covered story in Japan – the first (NHK World) is representative of an objective report and the second (Japan Times) exemplifies the rest of the nation’s antinuclear Press. NHK World; Panel: Ex-TEPCO officials should be indicted; 7/31/14 -- http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2014/07/31/national/crime-legal/indict-tepco-execs-over-disaster-judicial-panel/#.U9o6AKN0wdU

 

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