Fukushima Accident Updates (Blog)

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

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March 5, 2014

  • Fukushima’s nuke host towns jump on the rainwater run-off bandwagon. The four host communities for F. Daiichi and F. Daini have lodged a formal protest for failure to disclose that radioactive rainwater run-off has been detected for nearly a year. Naraha Town Mayor Yukiei Matsumoto, representative of the 4 towns, submitted the complaint to Tepco on Thursday. It didn’t matter that the mildly-contaminated rainwater flow had no impact on the ocean or the surrounding environment. Matsumoto said the situation has seriously undermined trust within the local communities. http://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/english/news/20150305_29.html (Comment - Undermined the trust of the local communities? The historical record shows that the local communities have never trusted Tepco following the nuke accident in 2011. How can a history of distrust be undermined?)

  • Most Fukushima residents are unhappy with Tokyo’s handling of the F. Daiichi situation. The Asahi Shimbun says 71% of a survey’s respondents are dissatisfied with government efforts. Only 14% expressed satisfaction. This is the fourth-such accident anniversary survey. All have shown the rate of dissatisfaction at between 70-80%. Concerning the recent rainwater run-off hullabaloo, 80% said it is a “major problem” while 16% said “it was somewhat of a problem”. On a more positive note, about 50% either highly or somewhat valued (appraised) rural decontamination efforts. This is nearly a 10% improvement over the previous surveys. http://ajw.asahi.com/article/0311disaster/fukushima/AJ201503040063

  • Tokyo and Tepco extend business compensation pay-outs. It had been planned to end compensation for damages to business owners who lost income due to the mandated evacuation in February, 2016. However, many business operators will not be able to continue if compensation payments stop. As of January, about $4.5 billion had been paid out. In addition, the compensation period for businesses outside the evacuation zone due to harmful rumors will also be extended. The harmful rumor compensation has totaled about $13 billion. An official with the Industry Ministry said, "The guidelines for the government's Dispute Reconciliation Committee for Nuclear Damage Compensation stipulate that there is a 'certain limit' to the compensation period. Paying damages for an extended period of time will not lead to reconstruction." The prior end-date for compensation met with furious opposition from the business community which said that business operators will suffer loss of income well into the future. The above figures are not part of the evacuee compensation pay outs that have totaled about $47 billion, nor the additional $1,000 per month given to each evacuee for mental anguish or “incapacity” to work. The “incapacity” damages were ended in February and the mental anguish pay-outs are to end when evacuation orders are lifted in each community. http://mainichi.jp/english/english/newsselect/news/20150303p2a00m0na009000c.html -- http://jen.jiji.com/jc/eng?g=eco&k=2015030300837

  • The NRA has created new nuke evacuation guidelines. Although the NRA has not yet publicly posted, NHK World reports that the new strategies account for the fact that many Fukushima evacuees lived more than 30 kilometers from F. Daiichi. Existing guidelines call for emergency planning within 30 km of a nuke station. It is believed that the strategies will address if and when distant residents need to stay indoors (sheltering). The decisions will be based on radiation monitoring data and meteorology. Any sheltering order may be lifted after the radioactive plume has passed. http://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/english/news/20150304_21.html

  • A brief update on the Muon Tomography project. Muon Tomography technology was set up in early February to find where the melted fuel is located in units #1 and #2. A team member from the High Energy Accelerator Research Organization (KEK) said, "We are gathering data, and it's going well. We believe we can produce results by the end of March." http://jen.jiji.com/jc/eng?g=eco&k=2015030300734

  • The target date for waste water purification has been deferred another year. Instead of removing all radioactive isotopes except Tritium by the end of March, Tepco now says it will probably take until May, 2016. The company says that about 200,000 tons of water has yet to be fully purified. More than 300,000 tons have been run through ALPS, but will also have to be run through the Strontium-stripping system so that all radioisotopic concentrations are below Tepco’s self-imposed limits. However, because there will be tiny detectible levels of some isotopes remaining after full purification, Tepco says they may have to re-run the purified water through ALPS and the strontium removal processes a second time. http://mainichi.jp/english/english/newsselect/news/20150303p2a00m0na003000c.html -- http://www.tepco.co.jp/en/press/corp-com/release/betu15_e/images/150227e0101.pdf

  • Many Tsuruga residents believe nuke restarts are a necessity. The city of Tsuruga has taken a severe economic downturn since the government’s nuke moratorium began. Tsuruga is the largest municipality on the Wasaka Gulf Coast; home to fourteen nuclear units. One resident says, "Money doesn't circulate when the reactors aren't in operation. It's suffocating." Many new businesses that opened in the last two years have been forced to shut down. Antinuclear Tsuruga assemblywoman Harumi Kondaiji admits the moratorium has damaged the local economy. She says the upcoming local elections will probably see restart-supporters win, yet "People are worried about their livelihoods, so even if they question (the wisdom of reactivating reactors), that's probably not reflected in how they vote." http://mainichi.jp/english/english/newsselect/news/20150304p2a00m0na003000c.html

  • The Japanese courts are the last hope for antinukes to bar restarts. Historically, courts have been hesitant to get involved with business and industry issues, however the strong public sentiment against nuke restarts may cause a judicial policy shift. Numerous suits have been filed across Japan over the past two years. Several may be decided in March due to the impending restarts at Sendai and Takahama stations. Antinuke lawyer Yuichi Kaido says, “Now that we are drawing closer to restarts, there is no other entity but the judiciary to realistically stop it.” Kaido represents the plaintiffs in cases against Sendai and Takahama. The suits allege that earthquake risks have been underestimated, the plant owners have not met Japan’s new safety regulations, and emergency evacuation plans have not been completed. Kaido’s team of lawyers plan to file injunctions with every plant approved for restart by the NRA. He says, “Judges must know that their decision could stop the next nuclear accident.” Last year, A Fukui court ruled against restart of any of the Ohi station units. Kaido said, “I am hopeful that the Sendai judge will feel the same.” Former Industry Ministry official Akihiro Sawa feels one pending suit might be successful, “I think residents could win the (Takahama) shutdown in Fukui District Court.” On the other hand, owner Kansai Electric Co. believes it is likely the suit will be dismissed. http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2015/03/05/national/court-battles-are-sole-remaining-obstacle-to-nuclear-restarts/#.VPhUW6McQdU

March 2, 2014

Japan’s Press, fisheries, and NRA continue to bash Tepco over the mildly-contaminated rainwater incident…

  • 20 officials from Fukushima Prefecture checked on the situation at F. Daiichi on Friday, inspecting the drainage ditch monitors, flow gates, and zeolite absorption bags for Cesium absorption. The officials asked whether or not other building roofs had been checked for similar levels of contamination and suggested increased surveillance of rainwater run-off. http://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/english/news/20150227_47.html  The National Fisheries Federation filed a formal protest with the Industry Ministry and Tepco. The issue is that Tepco has recorded fluctuations in drainage radiation levels since August of last spring. When it rained, the levels went up, and then returned to typical levels after the rainwater run-off had stopped. It makes no difference that there was no high radiation alarm condition until Sunday, Feb 22nd. The statement says (in part), “It is undeniable that (this failure) will further spread the harmful rumor that has been troubling fishermen nationwide and will largely affect the future of the fishing industry. The anger among local fishermen who have been waiting to resume their business is immeasurable.”  The Fisheries also complain that each and every fluctuation should have been broadcast by Tepco, even though it was not an alarm condition. Hiroshi Kishi, chairman of the National Federation of Fisheries, says that Tepco betrayed the fishermen and lost their trust. He demanded a full explanation on why these “leaks” were never disclosed and immediate action to prevent any rainwater “leaks” from happening in the future. Tepco responded that it had not broadcast the fluctuation in radiation levels because it did not indicate a serious problem and seawater testing showed no radiological impact on the sea. Kishi angrily retorted that Tepco has no understanding for the situation with Fukushima’s fishermen.  http://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/english/news/20150227_28.html -- http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2015/02/27/national/fisheries-group-lodges-protest-against-tepcos-failure-to-disclose-leak-of-radioactive-rainwater/#.VPC9SaMcQdU 

  • Adding insult to injury, the local Fukushima Fisheries said they refuse to allow any more releases from F. Daiichi to the sea. The Association says they were betrayed and can’t trust Tepco anymore. The company has asked the fisheries in Iwaki and Soma City to accept the plan to pump groundwater from wells around the station, remove any radioactive substances, and release the water. The association says that is no longer acceptable because they cannot be confident that the plan is safe. Association chief Masakazu Yabuki told reporters that the participants were very angry and he has no idea when discussions about releasing the ultra-purified waters can resume. http://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/english/news/20150227_43.html

  • The drains from the roof of the unit #2 reactor building “carry-in” entrance has been covered with waterproof sheeting to prevent rainwater from picking up contamination before it goes into the drains. The drains are surrounded with bags of Zeolite to filter out radioactive Cesium. The handout on the placement of waterproof sheeting and Zeolite-filled bags can be found here… http://www.tepco.co.jp/en/nu/fukushima-np/handouts/2015/images/handouts_150302_01-e.pdf

  • The Asahi Shimbun reports that the Nuclear Regulation Authority “slammed” Tepco for failing to announce every radioactivity fluctuation in rainwater run-off. NRA Chairman Shunichi Tanaka said, “TEPCO must reflect seriously (on the delay). We are concerned that the company's efforts to secure a safe environment will be unable to obtain trust (from the people).” Another NRA official said, “We should have pushed TEPCO much more strongly to tackle the issue.” (Aside - Does that sound like the NRA actually “slammed” the company? – end aside) It has been over a year since the radioactivity fluctuations were first noticed and told to NRA inspection team in January, 2014. The NRA advised the company to take countermeasures by the end of March, 2015. Tepco began recording regular measurements in April of that year. Tepco also covered all surrounding slopes because that was felt to be the source of the contamination. In December, the NRA was told the fluctuations had not ceased. It was only when an alarm occurred on February 22nd that the situation was reported. At the time, Tepco said that the cause was being investigated and that there was no increase in ocean activity. This seems like a weak excuse to the newspaper. The Asahi Shimbun alleges that Tepco “concealed” the information because nothing was reported to the Press about the rainwater run-off for more than a year. The Asahi speculates that Tepco “decided long ago there was no need to monitor rainwater for radioactive materials,” which seems to contradict that Tepco has been monitoring ditch activity since January, 2014. In addition, the newspaper exaggerates when it calls the rainy day fluctuations prior to last Sunday’s alarm “high concentrations of radiation”. The Asahi has been a decidedly antinuclear news outlet for four years. It is Japan’s second-largest newspaper.  http://ajw.asahi.com/article/0311disaster/fukushima/AJ201502280036

Now, for some other updates…

  • There was a “dramatic decrease” in F. Daiichi radionuclides in the Pacific from 2011 to 2012. Dr. Jay Cullen of FukushimaInForm reports that a recently published study shows a massive 100,000-fold drop in radioactive Cesium within the sea off Japan and China. Further, by 2012 the level of Strontium-90 was “virtually indistinguishable” from pre-accident data. In addition, the readings during 2011-2012 are completely consistent with the official estimates of total radioactivity released by the accident. What is most surprising is that by 2012, many of the samples analyzed showed no Cesium-134; the isotope that allows researchers to determine whether the Cesium comes from Fukushima or is residual from post-WWII weapons’ tests in the Pacific. Other samples had very low levels of detectible Cs-134. The average Cs-134 concentration was only about 1.2 Becquerels per ton of seawater. Average Cs-137 activity in 2012 was about 1.7 Bq/ton versus 1.2 Bq/ton before the nuke accident. http://fukushimainform.ca/2015/02/26/dramatic-decrease-of-fukushima-derived-radionuclides-in-the-northwest-pacific-ocean-2011-2012/#more-1136

  • PM Shinzo Abe inspected the new rural waste storage facility in Futaba. Abe was accompanied by Futaba Mayor Shiro Izawa. Izawa asked the PM for constant support because the decision to accept the facility was difficult and unpopular. Abe thanked the mayor and local residents for allowing the facility to be built, saying, “We will proceed carefully [with construction of the facility] while respecting people’s feelings about their hometowns.”  He also said, "I hope to speed up the decontamination work to ensure reconstruction." http://english.kyodonews.jp/news/2015/03/338837.html -- http://the-japan-news.com/news/article/0001971779

  • A major highway through the Tohoku Region is now fully open. The Joban Expressway runs along the Pacific coast from Tokyo through the northeastern prefectures, called the Tohoku Region. Much of the highway was too damaged by the March, 2011, quake to allow traffic through. Sections of Joban have been reopened as the damage was repaired. The final 14-kilometer section was opened between the communities of Tomioka and Namie, entirely within the government-mandated, 20 kilometer evacuation zone. It had to be decontaminated before opening it. PM Abe greeted some 800 people who attended the official opening. He said, “This will spark further progress in the reconstruction of Fukushima.” The public can drive through the exclusion zone without permit, but will not be allowed to stop along the way. The closest the road gets to F. Daiichi is about six kilometers. There are six radiation monitors set up along the 14 kilometer section. Passengers in a car going the speed limit (70 km/hr) will get about 0.2 microsieverts of exposure. http://the-japan-news.com/news/article/0001972046 -- http://blogs.wsj.com/japanrealtime/2015/02/19/highway-to-open-near-fukushima-nuclear-plant-no-exits-allowed/

  • The NRA considers nuke emergency measures beyond 30 kilometers. This is because of a swath of contamination from the F. Daiichi accident beyond 30 kilometers in the northwest direction. The NRA says they will probably instruct people to stay indoors if there is any possibility of radioactive material reaching them. Issuing the sheltering advisory will be dependent on radiation monitor readings around the affected nuke station. If there is a sharp increase in activity indicating a massive release, sheltering will be advised. http://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/english/news/20150227_03.html

February 26, 2015

  • The source of Sunday’s high radiation alarm has been found. Rain collection areas on the roof of the reactor building #2 equipment access area, drains into the ditch where the radiation monitor alarmed. One of the “puddles” on the roof tested at 23,000 Becquerels per liter for Cesium and 52,000 Bq/liter of Beta emitters, which would be sufficient to have caused the 90-minute-long alarming condition. Other “puddles” on the rooftop were found to contain between 920 and 1,900 Bq/l, which were not high enough to have caused the monitor to read in excess of 7,000 Bq/l. Records tracing back to May, 2014, show that the monitor recorded slight increases every time it rained, but this is the first time the concentration exceeded the alarm set-point for Beta—emitters of 1,500 Bq/liter. Tepco also announced that zeolite, a Cesium absorbing material, has been placed in the main drainage channel and around the unit #2 roof top drain outlet. http://www.tepco.co.jp/en/press/corp-com/release/2015/1248334_6844.html The Press handout on the incident, including pictures of the suspect “puddle” and positioning of Cesium-absorbing zeolite around the roof drains, can be found here - http://www.tepco.co.jp/en/nu/fukushima-np/handouts/2015/images/handouts_150224_01-e.pdf  Tepco says they have not detected “any significant increase” in the seawater inside the F. Daiichi port area. Actually, there has been no increase in quay water activity, but Tepco is too timid to say their data shows nothing. However, they have increased the sampling frequency from weekly to daily until the full investigation is completed. The concentration of Cesium and “gross Beta” activities inside the port area can be found here - http://www.tepco.co.jp/en/nu/fukushima-np/handouts/2015/images/handouts_150223_01-e.pdf For comparative purposes, he activity levels in the quay at the end of 2014 can be found here - http://www.tepco.co.jp/en/nu/fukushima-np/f1/smp/2014/images/intake_canal_141216-e.pdf

  • Beginning Wednesday, Japanese Press has gone haywire over the incident. Mainichi Shimbun called the sporadic, environmentally-harmless rainwater release “highly toxic”. The “toxic” modifier is commonplace whenever Fukushima radiation is the case, even though there is no evidence to support its use with levels this low. In addition, Thursday’s Mainichi editorial calls Tepco’s handling of the rainwater situation “terribly managed”, “deplorable”, and “insensitive”. It also says Tepco is “clumsy” when it comes to releasing information that is scarier than wild beasts. The piece closes by saying that Tepco is at fault due to “misreading what we need to fear most”. Thus in the opinion of the Mainichi, low level radiation is the most dangerous phenomena imaginable. Japan Times reported, “The utility admitted Tuesday it failed to disclose leaks of rainwater containing radioactive substances from a drainage ditch at the stricken plant even though it was aware of high radiation in the water last spring.” Even the usually-objective NHK World chimed in, “TEPCO knew last April that the density of radioactive substances in the channel rose when rain fell. But it did nothing to prevent contaminated water from leaking directly out to sea, nor did it make the finding public.” The obvious intent of the Press barrage is to make it seem that Tepco has covered up something unconscionably horrible. To make matters worse, the Nuclear Regulation Authority demanded that Tepco thoroughly investigate the drain-leakage incident, as if to say the company wasn’t already doing it. Chair Shunichi Tanaka said Tepco should not have allowed any contamination to drain to the plant’s port and a system of automatic gate closures should have been in place to stop flow if a monitor alarmed.  http://mainichi.jp/english/english/newsselect/news/20150225p2g00m0dm041000c.html -- http://mainichi.jp/english/english/perspectives/news/20150226p2a00m0na013000c.html -- http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2015/02/25/national/tepco-admits-failed-disclose-cesium-tainted-water-leaks-since-april/#.VO3J96McQdU --  http://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/english/news/20150225_13.html -- http://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/english/news/20150225_26.html (Comment - all of the hub-bub is because of a detectible contamination increase in a drainage ditch due to rainwater run-off. This affirms several points concerning Japan’s Press made by this writer over the past few years… (1) If radiation is detected, no matter how miniscule, it is treated as if it is necessarily harmful. (2) Even the most innocuous radiological events - and this one is completely harmless - are blown out of proportion. (3) Most of Japan’s news outlets admit they are antinuclear. When there is a lull in reports of problems at F. Daiichi, the Press will exaggerate anything possible to keep its antinuclear crusade fresh in the public mind. This is the first “negative” newsworthy incident in 2015, and the Press is treating it as equally important as the events of March, 2011.)

  • Fukushima fishermen add to the cacophony of anti-Tepco criticism, and the Press has exploited it to the fullest. Japan Times reports that Masakazu Yabuki, chief of the Iwaki fisheries cooperative, said, “I don’t understand why (Tepco) kept silent even though they knew about it. Fishery operators are absolutely shocked.” Jiji Press adds that Soma-Futaba fisheries head says, “[Tepco] concealed the leaks into the ocean” and “Our relationship of trust has collapsed”. NHK World reports, “Fishermen are accusing the operator of the crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant of betraying their trust.” NewsAsia spins the story to make it seem PM Shinzo Abe’s mislead the International Olympic Committee when he said Fukushima Daiichi is “under control”. Perhaps the most heavily “spun” report is to be found in the Asahi Shimbun. The Asahi says all negotiations with the fisheries “concerning TEPCO’s overall strategy for decommissioning” will be “put on hold” because one Fishery official said it. In a most egregious “twist” of the facts, the Asahi makes it seem that Tepco’s alleged cover-up began last August and has continued since. In addition, the Asahi takes a pot-shot at Tokyo by saying, “Central government officials did not appear as concerned as the Fukushima officials or the fishermen.”  http://ajw.asahi.com/article/0311disaster/fukushima/AJ201502260060

Meanwhile, other important events have occurred in Japan…

  • Area radiation levels in Kawamata have been cut in half. The entire Kawamata community is outside the Fukushima evacuation zone, but decontamination efforts have been on-going for more than three years. The Yamakiya District has dropped 49% with the 350 homes designated for decontamination. The effort will now focus on farmland and roads. An official with Fukushima Office for Environmental Restoration said, "Once we proceed with decontamination of the farmland and other areas, it is possible that the air radiation dose in residences may fall further." http://www.fukushimaminponews.com/news.html?id=472

  • Tepco may stop requiring full face-masks for some F. Daiichi decommissioning work. Beginning in May, Tepco wants permission to have workers wear half-masks or dust masks. If given permission, the relaxed requirement will apply to about 90% of the station. Full face-masks will still be required for work with the units #1 through #4 buildings. This will necessarily reduce the physical burden on workers in the all other areas. The Fukushima government committee monitoring decommissioning safety wanted Tepco to expand areas in which workers do not need to wear full-face masks to reduce the chance of injury and accidents, as well as speeding up work. http://www.fukushimaminponews.com/news.html?id=473

  • The antinuclear base-camp in Tokyo is ordered to be taken down. Back in September of 2011, tents were erected on the Environment Ministry’s property to act as a home-base for weekly antinuclear protests in Tokyo. Even though the weekly protests have had so little attendance that the Press has stopped covering them, the antinuclear activist leaders have kept three tents on the premises, using them for live internet feeds over the past year. Tokyo’s District Court says they have been there way too long, ordered them to remove their tents, and two lead organizers were assessed about $92,000 for property use since the summer of 2013. The useage fee will increase at about $200 per day until the tents are gone. http://english.kyodonews.jp/news/2015/02/338473.html

  • Fukushima InFORM says no accident Plutonium has been found in the Pacific Ocean seabed. Two recently-published papers prove it. The reports say that estimates of Plutonium releases from Fukushima were up to 5 million times lower than from Chernobyl and that’s the reason why no Plutonium is discernible from the remains of post-WWII weapon tests. Project leader Dr. Jay Cullen and the InFORM staff conclude, “Given the absence of both isotope ratio [Pu-239 vs. Pu-240] and activity anomalies thus far in the western Pacific traceable to the Fukushima meltdowns, it is unlikely that any impact on organisms or the North Pacific ecosystem should be expected.” http://fukushimainform.ca/2015/02/23/most-recent-measurements-of-plutonium-in-pacific-fukushima-fallout-undetectable/#more-1134

  • Former Prime Minister and vocal nuclear critic Naoto Kan wants atomic energy abolished. Kan made a speech in Paris, France, relating his personal nightmares during the Fukushima accident. At one point he feared he would have to evacuate 40% of Japan’s population. As a result of his nigh-apocalyptic vision, he believes all nukes in the world should be eliminated. He calls for the 21st Century to be “the age of solar energy”. http://english.kyodonews.jp/news/2015/02/338171.html

  • As expected, Fukushima’s governor has approved the movement of rural radioactive wastes. Governor Masao Uchibori met with the mayors of Futaba and Okuma on Tuesday after receiving the central government's response to 5 conditions they set for transporting the material. Okuma Mayor Toshitsuna Watanabe said that allowing the transportation of radioactive waste to an intermediate storage facility in his town was a difficult but necessary decision. Futaba Mayor Shiro Izawa says that two of his pre-conditions have yet to be fully met, but he would likely agree if they are accepted by Tokyo. Izawa’s agreement was issued this morning. http://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/english/news/nuclear.html

  • Die-hard antinukes in Tokyo refuse to believe the worst of the nuke accident has passed. Undaunted, some groups continue to monitor radioactivity levels. One group, Albireo, works out of a western Tokyo suburb. One member, Rumiko Hashiba, has become increasingly concerned about the steady drop in news media coverage of radiation levels and decreased interest by the public. She continues to take her own radiation readings, even though there seems to be nothing detectible. Hashiba says, "We don't know anything until we actually take measurements," which strongly suggests she distrusts the Tokyo government. Dwindling interest has made it difficult for the operators to cover expenses for rent and the cost of promotional material for meetings. Albireo says public requests have dropped from about ten per month down to one or two. Doctor Makoto Yamada, who started Albireo says, no one knows what will happen over the next 20-30 years, so citizen groups must keep memories of the nuke accident from fading.  Other citizen-monitoring groups claim they have similar problems. http://ajw.asahi.com/article/0311disaster/fukushima/AJ201502240004

February 23, 2015

  • A drainage ditch radiation monitor alarmed on Sunday morning. Beta-emitters suddenly jumped from about 200 Becquerels per liter to more than 7,000 Bq/l. The alarm set-point is 1,500 Bq/l, and the “high-high” set-point is 3,000 Bq/l. All water transfer operations were immediately ceased and the gate downstream of the monitor was shut. The ditch outlet is inside the Fukushima Daiichi port. Tepco says it is possible that some of the contamination may have leaked into the port area before the gate was closed, but the “latest radioactive data has shown no significant changes inside the port as well as upstream of the drainage”. The outlet of the port area shows no detectible activity of any kind, thus there is no evidence of leakage into the open sea. No storage tank water levels have dropped and none of the coffer-dams surrounding the tank clusters have indications of leakage. Tepco says typical rainwater run-off can show Beta activity at about 1,000 Bq/l. Tepco continues to investigate. http://www.tepco.co.jp/en/nu/fukushima-np/handouts/2015/images/handouts_150222_03-e.pdf Tepco has also provided a graphic depiction showing the locations of the drainage ditch, alarming liquid monitor, and the closed gate. Please note that the ditch’s outlet was changed from outside to inside the inner port area in November, 2014. http://www.tepco.co.jp/en/nu/fukushima-np/handouts/2015/images/handouts_150222_01-e.pdf  It should be noted that some of the typically antinuclear Japanese news outlets posted misleading headlines. Two examples are… (1) Mainichi Shimbun – “Toxic water at Fukushima plant leaked into bay”. From the Tepco data, there seems to be no contamination actually reaching the F. Daiichi inner port. In addition, the Mainichi is making typically cavalier use of the term “toxic”. (2) Japan Times - “Strontium-90 levels spike alarmingly at Fukushima No. 1 plant”. Strontium is a Beta-emitter, but is only one of more than 60 Beta-emitters in the contaminated waters. Japan Times’ headline makes it seem that Strontium is the only Beta emitter detected, which is false.

  • Fish recently caught outside the F. Daiichi port’s break-wall are below radiation limits. Japan’s national standard for fish consumption is 100 Bq/kg. Of the ten types of fish caught, only three contained detectible Cesium-134 radioactivity, and five registered Cs-137 activity. The highest total Cesium activity was with a species of flounder at 70 Bq/kg (Microstomus Achne). Five species were taken from inside the break wall with only one registering below the national standard; a flatfish containing about 55 Bq/kg total Cesium activity. One important point needs to be made; at least two fish of one species was caught both inside and outside the break wall (Marbled Sole). The Cesium concentrations are significantly different. Inside the wall, the Sole’s total Cesium activity was 1080 Bq/kg, but outside the wall the Sole registered but 29 Bq/kg. http://www.tepco.co.jp/en/nu/fukushima-np/f1/smp/2015/images/fish02_150217-e.pdf -- http://www.tepco.co.jp/en/nu/fukushima-np/f1/smp/2015/images/fish01_150217-e.pdf

  • The movement of rural radioactive wastes should begin on schedule. Tokyo has been working on preparing a temporary facility in Futaba to store the materials, but they needed Prefectural acceptance before transporting the first loads by March 11th. Jiji Press reports that the Fukushima government has accepted the proposal because Tokyo has included consideration for requests made by affected municipalities. It is expected that the formal announcement will be made Tuesday. According to sources, Fukushima Gov. Masao Uchibori may formally approve it at a meeting with Environment Minister Yoshio Mochizuki later this week. The government has been discussing the process with local officials in the host communities of Okuma and Futaba. http://jen.jiji.com/jc/eng?g=eco --  http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2015/02/21/national/fukushima-may-accept-delivery-of-radioactive-waste/#.VOiW26McQdU -- http://english.kyodonews.jp/news/2015/02/337555.html

  • MIT’s Richard Lester tells Japan that nuclear energy is needed to lower carbon emissions. At a Press conference in Tokyo, Dr. Lester said Japan is emitting much more atmospheric carbon than it was four years ago. He added, “There is, in my judgment, almost no likelihood that Japan will be able to achieve the kinds of reductions in carbon emissions that the world will look to.” Dr. Lester stressed that the debate between nuclear and renewables misses the point, “I think the central point that needs to be made here is that Japan and the U.S. and other societies will need much more of both, much more nuclear, much more renewables.” Dr. Lester was visiting the Kashiwazaki-Kariwa nuke station on Friday and met with the Press at that time. http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2015/02/21/national/science-health/japans-adherence-nuclear-power-critical-home-overseas-mit-luminary/#.VOiVp6McQdU

February 19, 2015

  • The IAEA urges Tepco to release treated F. Daiichi wastewater. After a nine day visit to the site, an IAEA inspection team advised the discharge the huge volume of water containing only the radioactive isotope Tritium. During the exit interview, team leader Juan Carlos Lentijo cited the continuing buildup of contaminated water one of the two challenges to be focused on (the other is dealing with the wastes generated during station decommissioning). Merely storing the fully-treated waters will eventually lead to running out of space for more tanks. Lentijo asked Tepco and Tokyo to seriously consider releasing the Tritiated waters to the sea. “Controlled discharges are a normal practice in the industry. Most of the nuclear power plants are discharging treated water,” he said in Tokyo, “This is accomplished with negligible impact on the environment and the safety of the people.” The team’s full report is expected by the end of March. http://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/english/news/nuclear.html -- http://www.latimes.com/world/asia/la-fg-iaea-japan-water-fukushima-plant-20150217-story.html

  • IAEA praises the progress made at F. Daiichi. Team leader Lentijo said, "Japan has made significant progress since our previous mission. The situation on the site has improved - progressive clean-up has led to reduced radiation dose levels in many parts of the site." Naohiro Masuda, TEPCO's Chief Decommissioning Officer, said: "The IAEA peer review has acknowledged our progress at Fukushima Daiichi, such as in the management of radioactive waste and contaminated water, removal of spent fuel assemblies and reduction of dosage on the site and in the vicinity.  The IAEA has also given us valuable points for improvement and we look forward to their continued advice." The IAEA’s preliminary report said Tepco and Tokyo’s combined efforts have resulted in removal of used fuel from unit #4, improved waste water cleanup systems, slowed the influx of groundwater into the basements, and reduced radiation exposure to workers. With respect to transparency, the report urges Tepco and Tokyo to "help lay audiences understand the relevance of the information by basing it on the health and safety aspects of both the workforce and the public, as well as protection of the environment." http://www.tepco.co.jp/en/press/corp-com/release/2015/1248191_6844.html

  • Fukushima’s birth defect rate is no different from the rest of Japan. The Prefectural government ran a survey on the rate of birth defects from 2011 to 2013. They found Fukushima’s rates were consistently in the 2-3% range, which is below the national average of 3-5%. In addition, there seemed to be no correlation between occurrence and location within the prefecture. Keiya Fujimori, professor at Fukushima Medical University, said, “The rates of occurrence (in Fukushima) do not differ from the commonly accepted figures so it is unlikely that there was any impact from radiation.” Kenichi Hata, head of the Fukushima Prefecture Association of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, said: “It is important to publicize the survey findings nationwide.” http://www.fukushimaminponews.com/news.html?id=468

  • Fukushima Prefecture fights radiophobia with discount travel coupons. In April, the prefectural government will begin issuing a 50% discount for visitor’s overnight accommodation. The Prefecture’s typical $100 coupon will be sold for $50. One coupon per person will be allowed per night. The coupons will be issued three times during fiscal 2015, which begins in April. The coupons can also be used by Fukushima residents making overnight trips within the prefecture. Fukushima Gov. Masao Uchibori says this should help the prefecture's recovery. It is hoped this will combat harmful rumors about Fukushima radiation and help recover the pre-accident tourism trade. Fukushima tourists numbered more than 57 million in 2010, but dropped about 40% to 35 million in 2011. It recovered to 48 million in 2013, but that was still 15% below the 2010 figures. http://mainichi.jp/english/english/newsselect/news/20150218p2a00m0na012000c.html

  • The total number of Fukushima refugees continues to drop. It is below 120,000 for the first time since March, 2011. The total includes both those forced to leave by government mandate, and those outside the mandated zones who fled out of fear. Voluntary evacuees from outside the exclusion zone are less than 50,000. Fukushima’s government says about 73,000 of the total remain in the prefecture, and nearly 46,000 live elsewhere. While only a few thousand have been allowed to return home within the no-go zone, it appears that tens of thousands of voluntary evacuees have gone home since June of 2012. Officials believe this is due to decontamination efforts and an overall reduction in radiation levels have spurred the return. In addition, economics may have also contributed. About 70,000 of the total are from the dictated “no-go” locations and receive continual monthly compensation checks. On the other hand, voluntary evacuees received compensation for about a year after the nuke accident, but that ended more than 2 years ago. http://www.fukushimaminponews.com/news.html?id=469

  • Canada’s citizen-scientist group says no Fukushima isotopes have reached the Pacific shore. The Integrated Fukushima Ocean Radionuclide Monitoring Network (InFORM) reports that as of November of 2014, no Cesium-134 had been detected along the length of the British Columbia coastline. Cs-134 is the “unambiguous fingerprint” of the radioactive material released by Fukushima Daiichi in 2011. InFORM concludes “The absence of detectable 134-Cs indicates that waters near these locations spanning the length of British Columbia have not been contaminated with Fukushima radioactive elements transported across the Pacific by prevailing currents as of Nov. 2014.” InFORM is a collaborative effort between qualified radiological and environmental scientists, and public volunteers. The citizens gather the oceanic samples and send them to Dr. Jay Cullen at Victoria University, where the liquids are scanned by a sensitive germanium detector. Radioactive isotopes can be detected to below 1 Becquerel per ton of seawater. http://fukushimainform.ca/2015/02/16/more-citizen-science-seawater-monitoring-results-no-fukushima-contamination-detected/

  • Japan’s Industry Ministry has drafted a revision in basic policy for disposal of highly radioactive wastes. Tokyo intended to inter the wastes in geological formations at least 300 meters below the surface, and leave it there. The new policy will be to bury in a fashion that will allow recovery in the future. The policy draft states, “In principle, we grant reversibility regarding policies on final disposal…so future generations can choose the best way to dispose.” Allowing recovery will facilitate currently unforeseeable technical issues and possible policy changes in the future. The main concern is used nuclear fuel bundles from nuclear power plants. Japan has reprocessed spent fuel, up to this point, stripping the fission products that inhibit continued usage. The recovered Uranium and Plutonium, about 95% of the used fuel, is recycled into new fuel bundles. However, the time frame needed to handle all of the spent fuel now stored at Japanese nukes is a problem, so Tokyo is considering deep disposal without reprocessing as a parallel option. A thirty day public comment period must be endured before the policy can be forwarded to the Prime Minister’s Cabinet for endorsement. http://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/english/news/20150217_25.html -- http://mainichi.jp/english/english/newsselect/news/20150217p2g00m0dm047000c.html

February 16, 2015

  • The restart approval of Takahama units 3&4 has other prefectures concerned. At issue is emergency planning within the 30 kilometer radius. Takahama is located in Fukui Prefecture, but the 30km radius touches into Kyoto and Shiga Prefectures. Prior policy with restarts has been to gain consent from host municipalities and the respective prefectural governing body. This policy excludes both Shiga and Kyoto from the consent process, and they don’t like it. Kyoto governor Keiji Yamada wants station owner Kansai Electric. Co. to provide a “thorough explanation” about the reactors, as per a prior agreement concerning restarts. However, the previous accord was specific to restarts for new projects in the region and during nuclear accidents elsewhere in Japan. However, the pact has no “right to consent” stipulations. Kyoto maintains that part of Maizuru City is but 5 kilometers from Takahama, and this should give the municipality the same consent rights as the host community. Meanwhile, Takahama town mayor Yutaka Nose said, "I take very seriously the fact that the safety (of the reactors) has been confirmed." Fukui Gov. Issei Nishikawa has added that "the responsibility for providing explanations to residents lies with the national government and the power company." Maizuru City official Yoshio Tani says, "I want the utility to restart the reactors after technology to eliminate radiation is developed." http://mainichi.jp/english/english/newsselect/news/20150213p2a00m0na011000c.html -- http://mainichi.jp/english/english/newsselect/news/20150213p2a00m0na006000c.html

  • Fukushima exclusion zone rice passes radiation tests. It is a “test crop” from a district in Namie. The entire municipality lies within the government-mandated exclusion zone. Under the national Food Sanitation Law, no rice with 100 Bq/kg, or more, can be marketed. The entire test crop was found to have 5 Bq/kg or less. Instead of being distributed via traditional sales channels, the rice cultivated on 1.2 hectares of farmland in Sakata District was distributed to events promoting the safety of Fukushima rice. http://www.fukushimaminponews.com/

  • The bus line through the exclusion area (no-go zone) is popular. The East Japan Railway Company route runs between Minamisoma and Nahara as an alternative to the railway line destroyed by the 2011 quake/tsunami. The service began January 31 with about 30 people initially taking advantage of it. Tomoko Takahashi, an office worker from Minamisoma, rode the bus that day to meet her three children, who were evacuated to the prefecture’s western city of Minamiaizu. She said, “I am happy I have more than one option.” 84 year-old Rei Nakagawa took the bus to greatly shorten his trip to Soma, where he teaches Koto (Japanese Zither). He says, “The new service helps me for sure, but I think it will also help the recovery of the region significantly.” There are about 700 residents of Minamisoma who evacuated to Iwake City, which is south of the exclusion zone. Minamisoma Mayor Katsunobu Sakurai says this provides the evacuees with a convenient way to make visits to their homes. http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2015/02/15/national/new-fukushima-bus-service-broadens-options-for-residents-near-no-go-zones/#.VOCePaMcQdU

  • Japan has a new technology for environmental radiation monitoring. The National Agriculture and Food Research Organization (NARO) has co-developed a device to detect Gamma activity that is more sensitive than those now in use, produces results in a relatively short time, and can be mounted on a variety of remote-controlled vehicles including ground robots, balloons, and unmanned drone helicopters. The system is intended to allow detailed exposure maps of areas deemed too radioactive for people to enter, thus facilitating decontamination planning. Devices now in use must remain essentially stationary for a minute or more at each location before readings are fully processed. The new technology reduces the time it must remain stationary in a location before moving on to the next. This allows speedier pre-decontamination monitoring. The system will be marketed by co-developer Clear-Pulse Inc. http://www.jaif.or.jp/english/news_images/pdf/ENGNEWS01_1424051551P.pdfn


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