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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.

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June 30, 2016

  • It appears that most re-solidified fuel (corium) is in the bottom head of unit #2. The Muon detection system at F. Daiichi has found a large, black shadow inside the bottom of the reactor vessel (RPV). Analysis strongly suggests that most, if not all, of the corium pooled inside the bottom head and plated out on other internal structures. Unit #2 is the first one where the Muon detection could see the bottom head of the RPV. This is the first of the three damaged units to have an indication of where the corium ended up. The Muon scan of unit #1 could not see any lower than the core support plenum, so there was no indication of whether or not the corium pooled inside its bottom head. Most researchers speculate that the unit #1 corium melted through the bottom head. http://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/en/news/20160630_07/

  • Tokyo considers repopulating Namie Town. The first step will be allowing temporary stays for residents who were forcibly evacuated by government mandate in 2011. On June 23rd, the government told 100 town residents they might begin “special” temporary stays in mid-August. These plans are preliminary and need approval by the town officials and municipal assembly. Namie Mayor Tamotsu Baba doubted Tokyo’s plan because there must be hearings with residents and talks with the assembly, which is why he says they are “considering implementing the trial home stays around mid-September.” It is speculated that Tokyo will announce when the evacuation order will be lifted by the end of this year.  http://www.fukushimaminponews.com/news.html?id=688 (Comment – Once again, Fukushima Minpo is the only Japanese Press outlet to report on good news relative to Fukushima.)

  • Evacuee psychosomatic disorder rates remain high. The percentage for fiscal 2015 was 62%, down more than 4% from fiscal 2014. Of those forced to evacuate by the government, more than 65% reported psychosomatic issues in 2015, a drop of 4.5% from 2014. The voluntary evacuee rate for 2015 was nearly 56% in 2015, a drop of less than 1% from 2014. The most common complaints were sleeplessness, “unable to enjoy anything”, irritated, dismal and depressed, and, isolated, in that order. http://www.fukushimaminponews.com/news.html?id=687

  • A Mainichi Shimbun headline says the NRA has doubts about the F. Daiichi ice wall. But, the Mainichi is mixing apples with onions. The Nuclear Regulation Authority says the seaward-side well-water levels have not decreased, and Mainichi uses this as its proof for the headline. But, the seaward wells are outside the wall, so their steady levels actually prove the wall is working. There would be something amiss if those wells were changing levels. One the other hand, the main body of the article focuses on Tepco being pleased with the system, and supportive expert opinion from a Mie University professor, Kunio Watanabe. He says that large ice walls have been successfully utilized in Japan for about 600 public works projects. Watanabe adds that the F. Daiichi ice wall is about double the size of a Tokyo subway tunnel – the largest one used previously. Consistent with its obvious antinuclear agenda, the Mainichi says Tepco has been “ominously silent” on the ice wall’s effectiveness, and speculates that it is reaching its “do-or-die moment”. This flies in the face of the fact that Tepco has been posting weekly on the in-ground temperatures around the nearly 1,600 thirty-meter-deep refrigerant pipes since the first 55% were allowed to begin operation in April. The data shows that all but a precious few have frozen the earth solid! Because of this, another 43% was started up in June, after the NRA gave them the go-ahead. Tepco says the “ice wall is going according to plan”. But the Mainichi fixates on the few gravel-impregnated sections that have yet to fully freeze, and makes the exception seem the rule. http://mainichi.jp/english/articles/20160630/p2a/00m/0na/006000c  

  • Chiba City wants the “radioactive” designation removed from stored rural wastes. The bagged debris was accumulated after the nuke accident in 2011. Chiba is 25 kilometers east of Tokyo, and roughly 250 kilometers south of F. Daiichi. Almost eight tons of the material have been stored at a city disposal center. All of it has decayed below the national standard of 8,000 Becquerels of Cesium per kilogram, and Chiba wants the “radioactive” designation removed so that it can be handled the same as all other municipal wastes. The Environment Ministry says it will decide on the City’s request in about a month.  http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2016/06/29/national/science-health/chiba-wants-radioactive-designation-lifted-fukushima-contaminated-waste/#.V3O0rinr0dU

  • Ikata #3 fuel load is complete. Actually, it was completed on Monday, June 27th, as scheduled, but none of the Japanese Press outlets felt it was “newsworthy”. The announcement of completion was posted by Japan Atomic Industrial Forum on Wednesday, the 29th. This is yet another instance where significant nuclear energy news is ignored by the Japanese Press; they would rather appeal to fears over Plutonium in 10% of the fuel bundles. http://www.jaif.or.jp/en/ikata-3-fuel-loading-completed-with-commercial-operation-to-resume-in-august/

  • F. Daiichi experienced a localized power outage on Tuesday. An electrical abnormality was detected in a power source at 3:40am. Some equipment in the water treatment and “ice wall” systems stopped operating. None of the reactor or spent fuel pool cooling systems were affected. The most severe impact was to the ice wall refrigeration units. 22 of the 30 ice wall freezing units were operating at the time, but no-one had reported how many were affected. http://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/en/news/20160628_19/ -- http://english.kyodonews.jp/news/2016/06/418467.html

  • A minority of shareholders call for nuclear power abandonment. 73 antinuclear motions were submitted at nine utility meetings on Tuesday. The motions are essentially the same as those proposed by the same shareowners for the past five years. As before, it is expected that all motions will be voted down. None of the nine utilities have any intention of capitulating to the minority shareowner demands. The antinuclear shareowners responded with the usual rhetoric. For example, a Tepco shareowner made the specious complaint, "TEPCO is trying to resume operations at the Kashiwazaki-Kariwa plant without taking responsibility for the accident" used since 2011. http://www.asahi.com/ajw/articles/AJ201606280064.html

June 27, 2016

  • Ikata unit #3 loaded fuel over the weekend. The operation should be completed late today. The 890 MWe Pressurized Water Reactor plant is expected to restart late next month, with full commercial operation in August. Three 20-member teams effected the fuel loading in round-the-clock shifts. The Reactor Pressure Vessel holds 157 fuel bundles, sixteen of which are Mixed Oxide (MOX) fuel. MOX is a mixture of recycled Uranium and Plutonium from used fuel bundles. Because MOX contains Plutonium, it has been focus of most Japanese Press reports, even though only 10% of the core (sixteen bundles) is MOX. The Nuclear Regulation Authority approved Shikoku Electric’s safety upgrades last July, meeting Japan’s post-Fukushima regulations. Pre-operational checks have been going on since April. Ikata will be the third station to have a restart in Japan, and Ikata #3 will be the fifth such unit. http://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/en/news/20160624_20/ -- http://the-japan-news.com/news/article/0003038243 -- http://www.japantoday.com/category/national/view/shikoku-electric-begins-loading-fuel-at-reactor-for-late-july-restart?utm_campaign=jt_newsletter&utm_medium=email&utm_source=jt_newsletter_2016-06-24_PM

  • A smattering of people protested the Ikata #3 fuel loading. The number of demonstrators at the nuke station was estimated at “around ten”. They chanted typical antinuclear slogans and read a statement protesting the fuel insertion. The demonstrators allege that the transmission system cannot withstand powerful earthquakes and the nuke plant’s safety cannot be guaranteed. One demonstrator said the fuel load is hasty, and should be delayed until the full impact of the Kumamoto earthquake on Kyushu Island nukes is known. [Aside – The full impact of the quake on the Kyushu Island nukes has been known since immediately following the quake. There was exactly zero safety impact. However, local nuke activists refuse to believe the truth. - End Aside] Ikata station is on Shikoku Island – not Kyushu Island - 170 kilometers from Kumamoto. http://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/en/news/20160624_21/

  • A Japanese court approves use of MOX fuels. The Fukuoka High Court says there is no evidence proving that MOX raises the possibility of a nuclear accident. Plaintiffs had filed for an injunction against using MOX fuel, specific to Genkai unit #3, in Saga District Court in March, 2015. The petition was rejected. Undaunted, the plaintiffs appealed to the high court, and the appeal has been similarly quashed. High Court presiding Judge Tsuyoshi Daiku said MOX fuel, and the Genkai unit #3 spent fuel pool “meet the standards set by the Nuclear Regulation Authority. [Owner] Kyushu Electric has confirmed their safety.” The plaintiffs had argued that MOX fuel is inherently flawed because gaps can occur between the fuel pellets and cladding during operation, and produce malfunctions resulting in catastrophic meltdown. http://mainichi.jp/english/articles/20160627/p2g/00m/0dm/074000c -- http://jen.jiji.com/jc/eng?g=eco&k=2016062700580 -- http://the-japan-news.com/news/article/0003044143

June 23, 2016

Japan’s Press continues to focus on the “meltdown” issue. Tepco’s current president says one thing, and the majority of Japan’s Press outlets twist it into something decidedly different. Perhaps the most extreme “spinning” comes from outside Japan, with the Associated Press…

  • Tepco apologizes for its delay in acknowledgment of meltdown. The company admitted that its leadership during the March, 2011, nuclear crisis had intentionally avoided using the term “meltdown”. President Naomi Hirose said, "We deeply regret that our previous leadership failed to live up to the standards of transparency and thoroughness that we strive to meet today. We sincerely apologize for it." This seems to conform to the Yomiuri Shimbun editorial we covered in our previous update; then-PM Naoto Kan’s order to stop using the term “meltdown” should have been ignored by Tepco. In addition, Hirose said it is natural for the public to interpret the decision to follow Kan’s orders as a cover-up, "It's natural for the public to regard the delay in the disclosure as an attempt to cover up the meltdowns, and I deeply apologize for that." http://www.tepco.co.jp/en/press/corp-com/release/2016/1300509_7763.html -- http://jen.jiji.com/jc/eng?g=eco&k=2016062100639 -- http://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/en/news/20160621_35/

  • Many Japanese Press outlets say the Hirose admitted a Tepco cover-up. The Mainichi Shimbun and Japan Times twist the Tepco president’s above statements into, "It is extremely regrettable. People are justified in thinking it a cover-up." Both popular Press outlets say the Tepco-funded investigative panel report points a guilty finger at then-PM Naoto Kan for ordering the ban of the term “meltdown”. However, they stress that the precise identification of the person who passed the mandate on to Tepco officials is not given in the report, and both Kan and his Chief Secretary, Yukio Edano, says it is a sham. In fact, Kan believes the panel finding is an attempt by Tepco and the current ruling party to sling mud prior to the Upper House election. Edano says the DPJ will consider legal action. http://mainichi.jp/english/articles/20160621/p2g/00m/0dm/079000c -- http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2016/06/21/national/tepco-head-apologizes-311-ban-issued-meltdown/#.V2kscylf0dV

  • The Associated Press further contorts Hirose’s statements into a false citation. The AP says,  "I would say it was a cover-up.” It further tries to absolve then-PM Kan’s culpability in the matter by saying there is no proof that Tepco was muzzled because Kan denied the allegation. The AP subsequently purports, “The report found that Shimizu's instruction to avoid using the term "meltdown" delayed full disclosure of the plant's status to the public, even as people who lived near the plant were forced to leave their homes, some of them permanently unable to return,” to make the speculated cover-up seem egregious and unconscionable. http://abcnews.go.com/International/wireStory/japan-utility-delay-declaring-meltdown-cover-40008157

Here are some other updates…

  • A researcher in Minamisoma says the world needs to know the realities of Fukushima. While a graduate student at Edinburgh University, Claire Leppold thought she understood what Fukushima accident had done to its neighbors. In February, 2015, she attended a guest lecture by Fukushima researchers. She found that her previous conceptions may have been wrong. So she set a goal of actually going to Fukushima to prepare her Master’s dissertation. It happened. But, she has not left. She is now a researcher at Minamisoma Municipal General Hospital. She writes, “…one of the most unexpected parts of this experience has been the confrontation between what I thought I knew, and the reality which I found.” She says the second-biggest thing she has learned is the damage caused by misinformation, “I never saw the actual results of misinformation until I moved to Fukushima. Now, I see them everywhere.” She goes on to detail how unfounded fear of radiation and wild rumors deeply damage people, then states, “…it is of paramount importance to be aware that misinformation carries consequences. Unfounded ideas have led to suffering, and misinformation is one of the biggest things to overcome for the future of Fukushima.” Her repot should be read by everyone! http://www.huffingtonpost.jp/claire-leppold/fukushima-and-the-art-of-knowing-en_b_10537440.html

  • All Fukushima school lunches found safe for the 4th straight year. The prefecture’s education board announced that samples of all 2,669 lunches served in 2015 were well-below the 100 Becquerel per kilogram national standard for Cesium. In fact, only two of the samples had any detectable radiocesium. One was 1.01 Bq/kg (Iwaki City) and 1.14 Bq/kg (Yanaizu Town). A prefectural official said, "We have been able to confirm the safety of school meals. We would like to continue monitoring in municipalities and at schools that desire testing." http://www.fukushimaminponews.com/news.html?id=685

  • Takahama units #1&2 have a number of hurdles to surmount before restart. The biggest technological hurdle is upgrading facilities and system, including installation of nearly 8,000 kilometers of fire-resistant cables. In addition, the tops of the two primary containment buildings must be covered in cement, new emergency response and control facilities must be finished, and, state-of-the-art control room panels must be installed. This will cost about $2 billion USD to complete. In addition, it is likely that Japanese antinuclear activists will petition the courts to stop the restarts. Takahama units #3&4 are currently shuttered because of a temporary injunction granted by the Otsu court in neighboring Shiga Prefecture, and residents of 14 prefectures have filed a petition with Nagoya District Court to bar restart of units #1&2. http://the-japan-news.com/news/article/0003030608 -- http://mainichi.jp/english/articles/20160621/p2a/00m/0na/015000c -- http://www.jaif.or.jp/en/nra-approves-extensions-of-operating-periods-to-60-years-for-takahama-1-and-2-the-first-for-aging-reactors/

June 20, 2016

On Friday, Japan’s Press fixated on whether or not deposed Prime Minister Naoto Kan banned use the term “meltdown” on March 14, 2011. The day before, a third-party investigative panel said Tepco officials were told to ban the term by the PM’s office. This is not a new revelation; in July, 2012, Tokyo’s Fukushima Nuclear Accident Independent Investigation Committee (NAIIC) said the same thing. Although the evidence makes the charge remarkably clear, Japan’s largely antinuclear Press seems committed to making it a mere “he said…she said” debate. Here’s some examples…

  • The Mainichi Shimbun says that when Tepco released images of the first hydrogen explosion on March 12th “…Prime Minister Naoto Kan and other government officials were furious. Shimizu was called to the prime minister's office on March 13 and was told to contact the office in advance when announcing important accident information.” In addition, the Mainichi reports, “The removal of a senior official of the then Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency from a public relations position on March 13 after he acknowledged a core meltdown in a news conference without first contacting the prime minister's office, is also thought to have influenced TEPCO.” The Mainichi adds that then-Minister Banri Kaieda told a Tepco employee, "There doesn't appear to be a clear definition of a core meltdown, so let's make it the melting of fuel pellets," and a fax was distributed within the company saying, "'Melting of fuel pellets' is to be used. This is because 'core meltdown' conveys the image that the whole core has melted, like the China Syndrome." http://mainichi.jp/english/articles/20160617/p2a/00m/0na/013000c

  • Naoto Kan denies he ordered the “meltdown” term banned. Kan says he never ordered Tepco to stop saying it, and further that he never told the now-defunct regulatory agency (NISA) to muzzle itself. Kan says that the new investigative panel was chosen by Tepco, so their allegation is biased. He alleges that his innocence is proven by the tele-conference recordings during the nuclear crisis. http://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/en/news/20160617_23/

  • Kan’s Chief Cabinet Secretary, Yukio Edano, says they never muzzled Tepco. He told a Press conference on Friday, "The fact that I or then-Prime Minister (Naoto) Kan ordered or requested then-President Shimizu to avoid using the term 'meltdown' under any circumstance does not exist.” Edano echoed Kan’s argument that the panel cannot be believed because it was set up by Tepco. He says the panel report defame Kan, the DPJ, and himself, and, the release was scheduled to influence the impending Upper House election. Edano is thinking about pursuing legal action against Tepco and the panel. http://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/en/news/20160617_20/ -- http://www.businessinsider.com/ap-japan-lawmaker-denies-pressuring-tepco-not-to-say-meltdown-2016-6

  • TEPCO says it will continue the third party investigation in parallel with another panel set up by Niigata Prefecture. Tama University Professor Yasuhide Yamauchi, a member of the Niigata panel, says they want to find out why the term "meltdown" was not used, its impact on society, and whether the omission was intentional. http://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/en/news/20160617_12/

  • Japan’s largest newspaper says Tepco should have ignored PM Kan’s order. The Yomiuri Shimbun says, “…the [panel’s] probe revealed that TEPCO was paying too much attention to the Prime Minister’s Office’s intentions in responding to the accident.” The newspaper says Tepco was at fault for allowing itself to be muzzled by the prime minister’s office, because the company’s primary responsibility to the public is full, transparent disclosure. Thus, “The operator cannot avoid criticism for having betrayed local residents with this decision. This kind of stance taken by the utility has caused increasing distrust of nuclear power plants.” http://the-japan-news.com/news/article/0003026750

Now, here’s some other Fukushima-accident and related news…

  • Kawauchi Village wants to further subsidize single-parent families. The municipality hopes this will boost repopulation. The village is offering up to $8,000 for each family of four that returns, to help buy a car and/or cover other expenses. This will be in addition to the huge compensation paid-out by Tepco every month of more than $8,000 each for every man, woman, and child. One town official said, "It's possible to live more comfortably in the rural village than in Tokyo and other urban areas." At this point, 60% of Kawauchi’s pre-evacuation population has returned. About 40% of the returnees are listed as elderly. http://mainichi.jp/english/articles/20160619/p2a/00m/0na/004000c

  • Tokyo lifted marketing restrictions on Fukushima flounder on June 9th. Flounder is a leading food-fish on the Japanese market. Test catches will be made and the flounder checked for radioactivity level to insure that it does not exceed Japan’s 100 Becquerels per kilogram criterion for Cesium. The prefecture surveyed radiocesium content in a total of 1,078 samples of the fish species between March 2014 and May 2016. The results of the survey showed an average concentration of 9.7 Bq/kg, and none topped the 100 Bq/kg limit. http://www.fukushimaminponews.com/news.html?id=681

  • The Environment Ministry a 5,000 to 8,000 Bq/kg as a formal limit for reuse of contaminated soils. The proposed policy specifies the levels of radioactivity in soil allowed for reuse, as well as how to use recycled contaminated soil. The levels are designed to keep workers’ exposure at 1 millisievert or less per year. The soils will be used for road embankments, then covered with uncontaminated earth, sand, and asphalt. The ministry says the average level of soil contamination is “6,000 Bq/kg or less.” If road embankments are covered with more than 50 centimeters of uncontaminated earth, sand and other materials, additional radiation exposure to residents in the neighborhood can be restricted to 0.01 mSv/yr or less. http://www.fukushimaminponews.com/news.html?id=680

  • NRA allows licensing extension for Takahama units #1&#2. The Nuclear Regulation Authority unanimously accepted an extension of up to 20 years on the condition that operator Kansai Electric Power Company carry out reinforcement work on aging pipes that fail to meet earthquake safety standards. Both of the units were first operated 40 more than years ago. Kansai Electric began checking on possible degradation of plant systems in December, 2014. After finding everything meets the NRA’s regulations, they applied for the extension in April, 2015. Kansai Electric wants to restart the units in October, 2019. http://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/en/news/20160620_17/ -- http://jen.jiji.com/jc/eng?g=eco&k=2016062000566

  • American TV personality Daniel Kahl reports that convenience stores aid disaster recovery. Roughly 2,000 convenience stores were damaged by the earthquake and tsunami in the Great East Japan Earthquake in March 2011, most opened within two weeks. However, a few of the stores remained opened as soon as the ground stopped shaking. Kahl says, “After the tsunami, convenience stores in this region played a critical role in helping people get back on their feet. But that was only possible because of the incredible devotion of the employees and the managers of each and every shop.” http://www.nhk.or.jp/japan311/tmrw3-conv.html

  • The temporary court injunction against Takahama 3&4 is upheld. The “stay-of-execution” request was filed by Kansai Electric Company in March. Interestingly, the Otsu court that dismissed the Kansai motion is the one-and-same that granted the injunction request on March 9th. In fact, it is the same presiding judge, Yoshihiko Yamamoto, as the March injunction. In Friday's decision, the court said it "cannot conclude that (the reactors) are safe, merely because they have met new regulatory standards on nuclear power plants." Kansai Electric said, "It is very regrettable that the petition for stay of execution was not approved," saying its safety measures are thoroughly proven and the court's decision lacked scientific basis and technological understanding. The injunction has cost the company 300 million yen ($2.88 million) in losses daily. Unfortunately, the annulment plea filed by Kansai Electric will also be heard by Yamamoto’s court, making a successful reversal of the injunction questionable. http://www.asahi.com/ajw/articles/AJ201606170022.html -- http://mainichi.jp/english/articles/20160617/p2g/00m/0dm/039000c -- http://www.jaif.or.jp/en/otsu-district-court-upholds-temporary-injunction-against-takahama-34-keeping-it-closed/

June 16, 2016

  • Tokyo’s evacuation order is lifted for all of Kawauchi Village. The full cancellation of the mandate has been a sporadic process, with most of the village re-opened in October, 2014. But the two eastern-most districts – Ogi and Kainosaka – remained restricted until Tuesday. Only 51 people lived in the districts before the 2011 evacuation, so only a handful are expected to make a quick return. Those continuing their estrangement complain that the forests are not decontaminated, going shopping or seeing a doctor will be difficult, and they are skittish about the effects of low-level radiation exposure. http://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/en/news/20160614_02/m

  • Fukushima Prefecture petitions Tokyo to upgrade recovery and restoration. The petition calls the five-year period starting in 2016 as "the moment of truth". It says large sums of money should be designated in the national budget for measures related to the recovery, including reactor decommissioning, water decontamination, rebuilding the lives of evacuees, and dispelling false rumors. The prefecture also wants Tokyo to listen to local residents concerning revision of the geographical areas designated as “difficult to return” zones. Finally, the prefecture wants continual upgrading of the working conditions at F. Daiichi, and further improvement in information disclosure. http://www.jaif.or.jp/en/fukushima-prefecture-presents-petition-to-government-concerning-recovery-and-restoration/  

  • Fukushima peaches are selling very well in Thailand. Following Fukushima Governor Masao Uchibori’s visit to the country on June 7th, orders for the fruit rose from 1.3 tons in 2015, to more than 20 tons for this year. The governor said, “Not only does this mean that many Thai people will get the chance to enjoy delicious Fukushima peaches, but it also ought to have the knock-on effect of introducing the fruit throughout the whole Southeast Asian region. Besides being safe, they are all delicious and will bring smiles to people’s dinner tables.” http://www.jaif.or.jp/en/peaches-from-fukushima-selling-well-in-thailand-thanks-to-governors-visit/

  • Tepco’s 2011 delay in reporting Fukushima meltdowns was due to Prime Minister “pressure”. Aside - This is a further verification of this writer’s reporting five years ago. – End aside. The conclusion comes from an investigative panel set up by Tokyo. The third-party commission is yet another in a five-year history of panels set up to investigate Tepco’s handling of the nuke accident. Here’s the finding… then-Tepco president Masataka Shimizu told a company vice president not to use the words "core meltdown” in a news conference 3 days after the accident onset. Shimizu told the panel he was instructed to do this by the office of then-PM Naoto Kan. However, the panel has not involved the office staff of the deposed PM, and Tepco officials could not remember which person in Naoto Kan’s staff passed along the order. They can only say the ban was conveyed through a public relations officer. Regardless, it is clear that the order to not use the term “meltdown” came from the PM and was intended to downplay the severity of the situation. http://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/en/news/20160616_32/ -- http://english.kyodonews.jp/news/2016/06/416780.html 

June 13, 2016

  • Katsurao Village had its evacuation order lifted on Sunday. It is the fourth municipality in the old “no-go” zone to be allowed unrestricted repopulation. This will make it possible for 1,347 of the 1,466 evacuated residents to return to their homes, without limitations. The restriction remains in place for nearly 120 former residents because radiation levels are high. Local officials say they will do what they can to get medical facilities and shops opened. Some villagers have already returned, while some say they are waiting until the infrastructure is re-started. Others say they have no desire to return because they worry about the radiation. The Asahi Shimbun puts as negative a spin on the good news, focusing on the fact that only 10% of the former residents have returned. In addition, half of the rice paddies are filled with bags of rural radioactive debris, about which the Asahi says local officials “…have no idea when the waste can be moved out of the village for permanent storage. The staunchly antinuclear newspaper focused on the estimated radiation levels posted in 2012, while ignoring the fact that the current actual readings are much less than half of the 2012 estimates. http://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/en/news/20160612_04/ -- http://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/en/news/20160612_13/  

  • The mayor of Katsurao says they will create a new village. Mayor Masahide Matsumoto spoke village officials on Monday. He said the decision to repopulate was made difficult because many former residents fear radiation exposure, however the resumption of farming is an encouraging sign. One village official said she wants to support both those who return to the village and those who stay away for a while longer. http://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/en/news/20160613_23/

  • Much of Katsurao’s tap water now comes from wells. When Tokyo’s evacuation order was issued in 2011, all tap water came from a mountain-fed stream. However, prospective returning residents feared that the stream could have contamination in it, so the Village began switching over to ground water at least 10 meters deep. About 40% of the homes in Katsurao now have well water. http://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/en/news/20160613_16/  

  • Tepco runs drills to assemble Unit #3 radioactivity containment cover. The structure has been fabricated at the Onahama facility in Iwaki City. It is an arched design, 54 meters tall, 57 meters long, and 19 meters wide. It has eight sections that will be slid over the part of unit #3 containing the Spent Fuel Pool where 566 used fuel bundles are stored. (specifications per World Nuclear Association) Tepco staff have been practicing installation of the cover, and the Japanese Press was allowed to witness the procedure on Friday. After practice sessions are complete, the metal structure will be disassembled and sent to F. Daiichi by ship. It has been built to relieve local fears of small amounts of radioactive material being released during the removal of used fuel bundles. Tepco hopes to have the cover in place soon so they can begin transferring the used fuel to the ground-level storage facility that already holds the ~1500 used and unused bundles from unit #4. http://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/en/news/20160610_34/ --  http://www.world-nuclear-news.org/RS-Tepco-readies-to-install-unit-3-cover-1308155.html

  • An ex-NRA official says the agency needs to revise seismic safety regulations. Former Nuclear Regulation Authority commissioner Kunihiko Shimazaki says the regulations underestimate the severity of quakes that might affect nuclear plants. He believes the design-basis modeling for safety standards is inadequate based on his assessment of April’s Kumamoto earthquake on Kyushu Island. Shimazaki asserts, “The NRA has to be aware that the current screening procedures have shortcomings,” and it is “very dangerous to keep using the method.” Shimazaki was in charge of NRA quake and tsunami assessment before stepping down in September, 2014. Aside - Shimazaki has been a severe critic of Tokyo’s earthquake predictions since he left the NRA, and has appeared as a witness for plaintiffs suing Tokyo and Tepco over the F. Daiichi accident. - End aside. http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2016/06/13/national/former-nuclear-regulatory-body-official-calls-for-review-of-safety-screening-method/#.V16zSylf0dV

  • Okuma offers municipal land to Tokyo for rural waste storage. Okuma shares hosting of F. Daiichi with Futaba. The town assembly approved the move on May 31st. Futaba is considering something similar. Okuma Mayor Toshitsuna Watanabe said, "We will convey our policy in a few days to the Liberal Democratic Party's prefectural chapter, which earlier requested the offer of town-held land." Okuma owns 95 hectares and Futaba 70 hectares of land skirting F. Daiichi, where Tokyo has decided to have a 30-year storage facility. http://www.fukushimaminponews.com/news.html?id=677

  • Ikata unit #3 is ready for restart. The completion of pre-service inspections opens the way for resumption of operations. The advancement in protection against tornadoes and tsunamis has been considerable. For example, withstanding winds with speeds up to 360 km/hr (~225 miles/hr), including double-walled steel sheeting around a water tank that supplies emergency cooling systems. Some additional work continues to upgrade protection against terrorist incursions. The unit has already received local approval for restart. http://www.jaif.or.jp/en/shikoku-electric-completes-seismic-work-and-tornado-measures-at-ikata-3/

  • 33 people file lawsuit to shutter Japan’s only operating nukes. The suit was filed in Fukuoka District Court, Kagoshima Prefecture, by residents from ten prefectures. The plaintiffs claim that the NRA illegally approved restart of Sendai units #1&#2 because new government regulations to prepare nuclear plants for disasters are insufficient and risks of volcanoes were underestimated. The suit also claims regulations are not based on scientific knowledge. A Kagoshima City plaintiff said a nuke accident would produce effects from radioactive substances for decades, which she says is unacceptable. Another suit was filed in the same court in 2014 to try and stop restart of the two nukes, but it was dismissed by the district court. An appeal to a higher court was also rebuffed. http://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/en/news/20160610_27/ -- http://mainichi.jp/english/articles/20160610/p2a/00m/0na/012000c

June 9, 2016

  • Iitate evacuation to end March 31, 2017. Tokyo has informed the village assembly of their intent to lift the evacuation advisory for all but the Nagadoro District. The entire municipality was subject to the Tokyo-mandated evacuation order in March, 2011. Last June, decontamination was completed in the village residential areas. The exposure level is currently 0.8 microsieverts per hour. This equates to 7 millisieverts per year, which is less than the IAEA evacuation guideline of 20 mSv/yr. http://the-japan-news.com/news/article/0002997896

  • Tokyo considers using rural radioactive soil for road building. Soils that have decayed below the 8,000 Becquerels per kilogram national standard will be used. The material will be covered with uncontaminated soil and topped with asphalt. The total top coverage will be between 50 and 100 centimeters (20-40 inches). The Environment Ministry estimates that the radiation level above the finished roads will be less than 0.01 mSv/yr. They plan to begin a verification project in Minamisoma as early as this summer. The material will also be used for raising the ground level in the construction of roads, seawalls, railways and other public works projects. The ministry says they expect public outcry if and when the Fukushima soil is used in other prefectures. A ministry official said, “Fierce resistance would likely arise if the contaminated earth were used in prefectures other than Fukushima Prefecture.” http://the-japan-news.com/news/article/0002999444 -- http://www.asahi.com/ajw/articles/AJ201606080056.html

  • All tsunami debris has been removed from the Fukushima evacuation zone. Tokyo the material had been shipped to temporary storage sites by the end of March. The debris included vehicles, logs and concrete fragments from the eleven evacuated municipalities. The materials will be either incinerated or recycled. However, Tokyo needs to continue disposal of the 8,400 homes damaged by the tsunami. Only about 3,000 of them have been demolished and the debris shipped to state-designated sites. Of the evacuation zone’s estimated 1.16 million tons of tsunami materials, about 820,000 tons has been handled. It is also noted that the total estimated tsunami debris for the entire prefecture was 4 million tons. 3.72 million tons have been disposed of. http://www.fukushimaminponews.com/news.html?id=679

  • Tepco posts its latest Press handout on expanding ice wall operation to 95%. A graphic shows where there will be designed non-frozen gaps on the landside (west) to accommodate Nuclear Regulation Authority fears of dropping the groundwater level too low. http://www.tepco.co.jp/en/nu/fukushima-np/handouts/2016/images/handouts_160606_01-e.pdf

  • Fukushima InFORM posts the latest data on Pacific Ocean testing, and still no Fukushima Cesium. Their website says, “Results from 34 samples, collected in December – March, did not find any of the Fukushima fingerprint isotope, Cs-134, in coastal waters.” However, the concentration of Cs-137 continues a slow but steady increase, though still below 2 Becquerels per liter; roughly 5,000 times less than Canada’s drinking water standard. With respect to Pacific biota, Salmon tested in 2015 showed no Cs-134. There were typical levels of Cs-137 from nuclear bomb testing in the 1950s, at less than one Bq/kg. https://fukushimainform.ca/ 

  • Fukushima InFORM has posted a summary of international standards for Strontium (Sr-90). The article was spurred by a recent Associated Press report stating that farms near Chernobyl are marketing milk which has Sr-90 concentrations roughly 10 times greater than the national standards in Belarus. The author, Dr. Jonathan Kellogg, says he was initially alarmed by the AP report, but his fears were quelled when he found that the 3.7 Bq/liter limit in Belarus was eight times less than Canada, 13 times less than Japan, and more than 40 times less than the United States. Dr. Kellogg says, “I’ve learned that not all [national] limits are equal.” After comparing the Belarusian limits to the rest of the world, he provided a detailed explanation on how limits are set, stressing that they are all highly conservative. Dr. Kellogg points out that Japan’s arbitrary lowering of the limits for food radioactivity in 2012 was supposed “to provide a generous safety margin. [But] the new limits are based on the false assumption that most food products are contaminated with cesium following the [Fukushima Accident].” Regardless, a poll showed that 76% of Japan’s population still felt foods near F. Daiichi were unsafe, three months after the standards were revised. Thus, Dr. Kellogg feels that “…these varying thresholds from one nation to another do cause some concern among the public.” https://fukushimainform.ca/2016/06/06/radiation-and-food-safety-a-story-of-standards/

  • A Japanese Plutonium shipment arrives safely in the United States. The 331 kilogram transfer is part of anti-terrorism measures agreed upon at the 2014 security summit. A local citizen’s group, Savannah River Site Watch, said plutonium arrived at a US Dept. of Energy facility in South Carolina on Saturday. Governor Nikki Haley opposes the receipt of the Plutonium, and said in a written statement to DOE chief Ernest Moniz, “It is imperative to the safety of our citizens and our environment that South Carolina not allow this to happen.”  Because the Savannah facility wasn't operational by a Jan. 1 deadline, the federal government was supposed to remove 1 metric ton of plutonium from South Carolina or pay daily fines for "economic and impact assistance" — up to $100 million yearly — until either the facility meets production goals or the plutonium is taken elsewhere for storage or disposal. http://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/en/news/20160607_21/ -- http://abcnews.go.com/US/wireStory/japanese-plutonium-arrives-sc-haleys-objections-39655553

  • Japan’s antinuclear Press resurrects the Fukushima child thyroid cancer issue. Although only one of the 131 cases of thyroid anomalies was found to be malignant, the Press treats all of them as full-blown cancers. One of the prefectural medical review officials said, “It is difficult to conclude that thyroid cancer cases found so far were caused by the nuclear disaster. There were a spate of thyroid cancer cases in children aged between zero and 5 years in Chernobyl, but there is only one case in Fukushima Prefecture. That does not immediately lead to the conclusion that (the thyroid cancers in Fukushima Prefecture) were caused by radiation.” Further, Hokuto Hoshi, head of the panel and a senior member of the Fukushima Medical Association, said it is unlikely that any of the anomalies were caused by Fukushima accident radioactivity, but, “Concerns have been growing among Fukushima residents with the increase in the number of cancer patients. We’d like to further conduct an in-depth study.” None of the children from the latest screening were under the age of five in March, 2011, and their “tumors” ranged in size between 5.3 millimeters and 35.6mm. The highest estimated thyroid exposure to any of the children was 2.1 mSv, which is many times less than the Chernobyl exposures that were linked to thyroid cancer. More than 300,000 Fukushima children have been screened with state-of-the-art ultrasound beginning in 2011, and 173 have tested positive for the thyroid anomalies. http://www.asahi.com/ajw/articles/AJ201606070042.html -- http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2016/06/07/national/30-fukushima-kids-diagnosed-thyroid-cancer-second-check-upping-total-131-radiation-unlikely-cause/#.V1a7qylf0dV -- http://mainichi.jp/english/articles/20160607/p2g/00m/0dm/011000c  (For a full, objective account of this issue, please go to our dedicated webpage “Fukushima Child Thyroid Cancer Issue” at http://www.hiroshimasyndrome.com/fukushima-child-thyroid-issue.html)

  • The Associated Press exploits one of the tested children. The AP makes it seem that there is some kind of muzzling of the kids who have tested positive, and this 21-year-old woman is the first to go public. The AP asserts that the Fukushima child thyroid cancer rate is “many times higher than what is generally found, particularly among children”, and the children keep their mouths shut because a Fukushima-exposed individual “carries a stigma in the only country to be hit with atomic bombs.” They also say “some researchers believe the prefecture’s high thyroid-cancer rate is related to the accident”, even though there has actually only been one speculative report published by a long-time antinuclear Japanese epidemiologist who has had absolutely no involvement with Fukushima Medical University’s thyroid screening program. At least the AP reports the young woman saying, “I can speak out because I'm the kind of person who believes things will be OK." http://finance.yahoo.com/news/woman-breaks-silence-among-fukushima-thyroid-cancer-patients-070035067.html

 

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