Fukushima Accident Updates (Blog)


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

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

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October 18, 2018

  • Japan’s NRA wants automatic power generators installed to keep radiation monitor locations operating during blackouts. The Nuclear Regulation Authority studied this possibility after the recent Hokkaido earthquake knocked out 11 such monitors within 30 kilometers of the Tomari nuke station, and decided to mandate installation of the generators. The NRA wants all local governments affected by the agency dictum to make such plans by the end of November. The generators are required to keep running for at least three days. https://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/en/news/20181017_32/
  • Tepco apologizes for radioactive waste water build-up at F. Daiichi. Tepco recently announced that most of the waters run through ALPS (Advanced Liquid Processing System) contain some residual radioactive substances in excess of national limits. About 750,000 tons of processed waters at F. Daiichi have these elevated radio-isotope levels. 65,000 tons (8.67%) have levels more than 100 times above the legal limit. Of most concern is the concentration of Strontium-90. A few tanks hold St-90 concentration at 600,000 Becquerels per liter, which is 20,000 times the national standard. Tepco’s spokesperson offered, "We will filter the water in the tanks one more time to bring the levels to below regulatory limits before release into the ocean if a decision is made to do so." The ALPS decontamination factor has run between 1,000 and 10,000 since 2013. https://japantoday.com/category/national/TEPCO-apologizes-for-still-radioactive-water-at-Fukushima-plant
  • A Tepco executive being tried for corporate incompetence says he did not procrastinate on anti-tsunami measures for Fukushima Daiichi. Former company Vice President Sakae Muto is one of three Tepco officials on trial in Tokyo District Court regarding anti-accident precautions at the nuke station. He said, he felt it was “an appropriate measure” to reexamine a 2008 government estimate of a worst case tsunami measuring about 15.7 meters high, because the evidence had a low level of credibility due to a lack of agreement between experts. He also added, "I had no intention to buy time and I'm offended by the claim that I put off taking measures!" Muto described the allegations against him as totally unthinkable. He also said he and his colleagues felt the estimated worst case wave height was too high, and that it came “out of the blue”. Moreover, Muto stressed that he had no decision-making authority over F. Daiichi in 2008, "I thought the long-term evaluation was unreliable. I was not in a situation where I could decide on measures based on it." The prosecution alleges Muto and his two co-defendants continued to operate F. Daiichi without taking safety measures to accommodate the estimated tsunami height. The alleged “proof” was an affidavit read aloud to the court, saying, "Our business environment was deteriorating because of the Niigata Chuetsu offshore earthquake of 2007 that halted the Kashiwazaki-Kariwa nuclear power station, and we wanted to prevent the Fukushima No. 1 plant from stopping by all means." Prosecution argues that management decided to postpone taking tsunami counter measures because they were more costly than expected. https://english.kyodonews.net/news/2018/10/2e5f6b4a7599-tepco-exec-denies-delaying-anti-tsunami-steps-before-nuclear-crisis.html -- https://mainichi.jp/english/articles/20181016/p2g/00m/0bu/084000c -- https://jen.jiji.com/jc/eng?g=eco&k=2018101600834 -- https://mainichi.jp/english/articles/20181015/p2a/00m/0na/028000c
  • Tepco says the delay in retrieval of unit #3 stored fuel bundles is due to miscommunication. On Monday, an official with Toshiba Energy Systems & Solutions said the company ordered the equipment from an overseas firm, which outsourced to another company with "unstable skills." The NRA urged Tepco and Toshiba to investigate the situation so that the issue will not recur in the future. https://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/en/news/20181015_28/
  • Japan’s Reconstruction Agency says about 58,000 Tohoku refugees remain in an evacuation status. This is a decline of 15,000 over the past six months. Construction of public housing stands at 96.3% for Fukushima Prefecture, 98.4% for Miyagi, and 91.1% for Iwate. About 20% of the residents have returned home in the Fukushima communities where evacuation orders have been lifted. Tokyo plans on phasing out temporary housing in Iwate and Miyagi by 2020, and Fukushima by 2021. https://mainichi.jp/english/articles/20180911/p2a/00m/0na/004000c

October 11, 2018

  • JAIF’s Chief predicts progress will be made in Japanese BWR safety screenings. President Akio Takahashi of the Japan Atomic Industrial Forum said that since the Nuclear Regulation Authority passed two units on safety screenings at Kashiwazaki-Kariwa, he expects subsequent Boiling Water Reactor screenings to proceed smoothly. He also mentioned the Hiroshima High Court lifting its temporary injunctions against Ikata unit #3 as further support for his opinion. He hoped that all nuclear plant owners would “present their arguments appropriately” with respect to all pending antinuclear filings in court. He also pointed to the instability of renewables as a reason why continued nuclear energy generation in Japan is likely. https://www.jaif.or.jp/en/jaif-press-briefing-president-takahashi-foresees-progress-in-bwr-examinations-by-nra/
  • Dr. Sai Ochi says the removal of the “Sun Child” statue in Fukushima City has not been popular as the Press makes it seem. While she acknowledges the popular Press reports concerning the objections to the statue by some Fukushima residents, she points out that it is far from an across-the-board opinion. Ochi states, “It is not clear if any of those views represent a majority of public opinion. Indeed, many people in the prefecture, while voicing their understanding of the feelings of the statue’s critics, personally wanted the piece to remain.” She points out that works of art seldom please everyone, “But can there be any message that never upsets anybody and pleases everyone all the time? The removal of the Sun Child statue puts that question squarely before us.” She also addresses the possibility that Press coverage saying there are a lot of false Fukushima rumors have cause the issue to diminish. But, positive commentary in social media concerning Fukushima continues to be deluged with negative comments, keeping those posting positivity from continuing to do it. She says, “Such experiences keep the people who want to be involved, and who want to talk about Fukushima, at arm’s length from the issue” and, “Now, the people who made such comments are thinking twice about getting involved again. I’ve been increasingly concerned about that trend recently.” Her commentary covers many other important topics relative to countering false social media claims, so we heartily encourage everyone to read Ms. Ochi’s piece in its entirety. https://www.jaif.or.jp/en/the-implications-of-removing-the-sun-child-statue-in-fukushima/
  • More than half of Fukushima’s residents have “no idea” about the facts concerning tritiated water stored at F. Daiichi. 51% of the respondents to a Fukushima Minpo survey say they “have no idea” about how the waters should be disposed. On the other hand, 49% say they do understand the proposed methods of disposal, however the majority says, "…opinions should be exchanged further with parties related to the agriculture, forestry and fisheries industry, and the tourism sector which are feared to be affected by reputation damage." Many also said that “measures” should be adopted to counter likely reputation damage before releasing any of the water into the Pacific Ocean. In addition, the Minpo article mentions that Tepco “is considering purifying tainted water again to reduce the density below the standards before releasing it into the natural environment.” http://www.fukushimaminponews.com/news.html?id=915
  • The IAEA is once again testing the seawater, marine sediment, and fish around F. Daiichi. The testing began October 9th and will continue through October 19th. This is the eighth time The International Atomic Energy Agency has held such an examination since 2014. https://japantoday.com/category/national/nuclear-experts-to-test-water-fish-around-japan-power-plant

October 4, 2018

  • Tepco says as much as 80% of the treated water stored at F. Daiichi exceeds Japan’s release limits, which are by-far the most restrictive in the world. The existence of biologically-harmless Tritium has long been known, but the co-existence of detectible, above-standards levels of other radioisotopes such as Strontium have not been reported until now. About 890,000 tons of the over-limit waters are now in storage. There is about 1,095,000 total tons stored at the nuke station. All of the waters have been run through ALPS (Advanced Liquid Processing System) that can remove all isotopes but Tritium, but the 10,000+ removal rate has left greatly reduced low levels of some other-then-Tritium radioisotopes. 146,000 tons have been successfully run through and additional system that removes the Strontium residuals. Some of the tanks that have not been stripped of Strontium are up to 20,000 times above japans standard for release. Tepco says the residual contaminants may be due to degraded absorption materials, equipment “glitches”, or other causes. The main public complaint is that the voluminous amount of data Tepco has posted, to date, has overwhelmed the understanding of many residents.  https://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/en/news/20181002_02/ -- https://www7.tepco.co.jp/wp-content/uploads/handouts_181001_02-e.pdf -- http://the-japan-news.com/news/article/0004863468

September 27, 2018

  • Tokai unit #2 satisfies its nuclear safety requirements for restart. The Nuclear Regulation Authority laid down its decision on Wednesday. The approval was unanimous. Tokai #2 is now the 15th unit to clear the safety requirements for operation, and the third Boiling Water Reactor system. It is the first nuke that was operationally-affected by the March 1, 2011, earthquake. The region’s blackout caused the automatic start-up and operation of the unit’s emergency diesels. The next step is getting approval for operating past the largely arbitrary 40-year licensing limit. It is likely to clear this hurdle before the November 27th statute. Approval to operate from local communities could be a problem, but owner Japan Atomic Power Company is confident that said permission is coming soon. Critics say the unit should not operate because the new fire-resistant cabling in the control room is insufficient.  https://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/en/news/20180926_24/ -- https://jen.jiji.com/jc/eng?g=eco&k=2018092600701 -- https://mainichi.jp/english/articles/20180926/p2a/00m/0na/012000c
  • The Hiroshima high court reverses its injunction preventing restart of Ikata unit #3. The decision was rendered on Tuesday. The initial estoppel order of September 25th, was based on a suit claiming that a volcanic eruption of Mount Aso, 130 kilometers distant. At the two formal appeals, owner Shikoku Electric demonstrated that there is no magma pool under Mt. Aso, and that no reliable long-term prediction method exists. Judge Masayuki Miki’s court had to concede acceptance of the company’s assertions, stating that the fears were “groundless”. He said, "The possibility of a destructive volcanic eruption during the plant's operating period is not backed by grounds and there is a small chance of volcanic ash and rocks reaching the plant.” He added that the public does not view the risks of a major eruption as a problem to the plant, “Unless the court is given reasonable grounds for the possibility of a major eruption, it is a socially-accepted idea that the safety of a facility will not be undermined even if measures are not in place to prepare for such a scenario.” Hiroyuki Kawai, a lawyer for the plaintiffs, said, “The decision is pandering to power and has contradictory points." Plaintiffs do not plan for an appeal. The Company plans to restart the unit on October 27th. The ruling may have far-reaching effects for antinuclear activists in Japan. The Hiroshima high court ruled that that the plaintiffs must have highly credible evidence of risk for a catastrophic volcanic eruption.   https://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/en/news/20180925_23/ -- https://mainichi.jp/english/articles/20180925/p2a/00m/0na/013000c -- https://english.kyodonews.net/news/2018/09/b3697605f02c-update1-japan-high-court-allows-shikoku-electric-to-restart-ikata-reactor.html -- http://www.asahi.com/ajw/articles/AJ201809260057.html
  • The Environment Ministry says that the nuclear contribution to the grid will be less than 10% in 2050. The ministry originally estimated the nuke contribution would be 21% in 2030, but has extended this forecast to less than 12& in 2040, and 7-9% in 2050. The reason are the assumption that renewables will be introduced to the maximum degree, no new nuke stations will be built, and none will be added to the existing nuke stations. On the other hand, the Economy Ministry says the new projection has no real basis. http://www.asahi.com/ajw/articles/AJ201809240032.html
  • The New York Times makes a flimsy attempt to connect Japan’s nuke recycling plans to building a nuclear arsenal. The News outlet’s rationale drips with antinuclear rhetoric and misleading terminology. For example, it says only nine of Japan’s 36 possibly restarted nukes are “operational”, when in fact they are all capable of operation. To date, nine have been allowed to restart by the NRA. Regardless, the Times fails to consider that plutonium produced by recycling used nuclear fuel is virtually worthless for use in weapons. This is because of the two neutron-scavenging isotopes Pu-240 and Pu-241 that do not fission. It is technologically very, very difficult to remove them from the matrix, plus the cost would so monumental that no country on Earth would consider it. The majority of the article is about the reprocessing facility in Rokkasho, under construction and scheduled for operation in 2021. It is fraught with speculation as to why it might not happen, and that the volume of Mixed Oxide fuel it will produce will not be enough to reduce Japan’s ever-growing stockpile of reactor plutonium. https://www.nytimes.com/2018/09/22/world/asia/japan-nuclear-weapon-recycle.html?smid=fb-nytscience&smtyp=cur

September 20, 2018

  • The latest state of evacuee compensation has been posted. http://www.hiroshimasyndrome.com/fukushima-evacuee-compensation-payments.html
  • Dairy farming returns to Katsurao. Tetsuji Sakuma has re-started his dairy business with eight cows. Before the 2011 Tokyo mandate to evacuate the community, Tetsuji had a herd of 129. He made sure his wife and child were moved safely to Gunma Prefecture, then he moved in with his parents in Fukushima City. He returned to his farm two months later and found ten of the cattle dead. He sent 25 of his younger stock to a Hokkaido ranch, and the rest shipped off to be culled for their meat. Eventually, he moved his family to Minharu and worked as an assistant to a civil engineer. Restrictions on milk shipments were lifted in December of 2016, a year and a half after the Katsurao evacuation order was rescinded. It was not until It took time to repair has dairy equipment and return his property to its former condition. He bought the eight cows on September 11th to rejuvenate his business. He hopes to have a herd of 300, at some point. Tetsuji says, "I hope to restore my finances and to lead this area (to recovery). I don't want to be perceived as someone who quit in exchange for compensation. If I stop farming, I would feel like I have lost to these circumstances." https://mainichi.jp/english/articles/20180919/p2a/00m/0na/031000c
  • (Late entry) The number of Tohoku region evacuees due to the 2011 quake, tsunami, and nuke accident drops to 75,000. Some 20,000who reside with relatives and 20,000 in prefabricated buildings. More than 100,000 have moved into permanent accommodations over the past two years. The main reasons for the drop have been the lifting of evacuation orders in Fukushima Prefecture and removal of voluntary evacuees from the listing. While most of the businesses in the region have returned to successful operation, rumors and concerns remain a barrier to Fukushima recovery. Also on the downside, over half of the residents in Ōkuma, Futaba, Namie, and Tomioka still say they do not intend to return home. https://www.nippon.com/en/features/h00169/

September 13, 2018

  • The NRA Chairman rejects the idea that the recent Hokkaido blackout would have been averted with Tomari restarts. Chairman Toyoshi Fuketa of the Nuclear Regulation Authority said such comments about the unrestarted Tomari nuke units fail to consider “Confirming the safety of a nuclear plant and ensuring the power supply are two entirely separate issues. The NRA’s judgment will not be affected by other considerations.” The three units at Tomari are currently being examined by the NRA for compatibility with the new regulatory standards. Some experts feel, however, that restarting the reactors would be acceptable out of human necessity, with examinations continued “in parallel.” However, federal and local political bodies avoid the issue early restarts. The dilemma is a question of prudence. What is more acceptable? Continuing the current process for restarts, or implementing a more responsible energy policy? https://www.jaif.or.jp/en/nra-chairman-rebuts-idea-that-hokkaido-blackouts-could-have-been-averted-had-tomari-npps-been-restarted/
  • The NRA Chairman defends his wait-and-see position on F. Daiichi unit#3 wastewater.  After two days of public hearings on the issue, Fuketa said, “Given that a precise process (of hearings) is proceeding, we are waiting to make a judgment.” Some are concerned about the damage of unfounded fears and rumors by the offshore disposal of tritiated water. Many others believe the water should remain stored for the time being while new treatment technologies are being sought. Fuketa added that it is natural for people to feel psychological resistance to once-contaminated things, even after those things had been cleaned. In addition, he recognized that people were concerned about unfounded fears and rumors. https://www.jaif.or.jp/en/nra-chairman-worried-that-tritium-water-storage-would-complicate-fukushima-daiichi-decommissioning/
  • The Tritiated water hearings took place in Tomioka Town, Koriyama City, and Tokyo. Experts from Japan’s Agency for Natural Resources and Energy (ANRE) were heard. There was strong opposition by some of the participants against the offshore release of the tritium. Their reasons ranged from fear that it would only worsen the damage from unfounded fears and rumors, to adverse effects on health and to concern about who would be held responsible. On the other hand, some criticized the hearing venue itself. One complaint was that the hearings “should not be used as a pretext to proceed with pre-assumed offshore release,” and that “the issue should be considered nationally, and opinions from overseas should be heard.” There were also opinions on how to form a consensus, including holding a referendum in the surrounding municipalities before tritium water is discharged, corresponding to the distrust in the government. https://www.jaif.or.jp/en/explanatory-meetings-and-public-hearings-held-on-handling-of-tritium-water-in-tomioka-koriyama-and-tokyo/
  • F. Daiichi will be reinforced against tsunami. Tepco wants to avoid another possible mega-tsunami from causing the leakage of highly radioactive water accumulated in the basements of units #1 through #4. The company announced its plan at a meeting of with the NRA on Friday. Research shows such a quake could send tsunami of more than 10 meters into the nuke station and cause highly radioactive water to gush out. Tepco will seal the building entrances and other openings to keep radioactive water from being released, plus extend existing sea walls. https://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/en/news/20180914_29/
  • The NRA criticizes Tepco’s delays in spent (used) fuel removal from F. Daiichi unit #3. Tepco says the cause of the delays is lax quality control of facilities and equipment. The removal of the used fuel bundles was supposed to begin in November, but the company now says it will be difficult to start the work as planned due to a series of problems with facilities and equipment. The NRA says Tepco’s over-all quality control system is “low”, beginning with top management. The company promised to find the cause of the problems and effect prompt resolution. https://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/en/news/20180914_31/

September 6, 2018

  • A powerful earthquake in Hokkaido causes Tomari station to lose all off-site power. At 3:07 am this morning, a quake measuring 7 on the Japanese intensity scale struck the northern island of Hokkaido, causing a major blackout. Nearly 3 million homes lost power. Tomari station was also struck by the island-wide blackout, so six emergency diesels automatically started to supply the station with all the power necessary for cooling all there reactors and spent fuel pools. The diesels kicked in so quickly that there was no measurable change in spent fuel pool water levels. No release of radioactivity has occurred. In addition to Tomari, all fossil-fueled power plants and hydro-electric units were knocked off the grid, resulting in the blackout. The only power to the island came from interconnections with Honshu’s electric grid. Power was restored to Tomari by 1pm through the Honshu connection and restarts of hydro plants. By 9pm, some of the fossil-fueled units were restarted, so some 412,000 homes had power. The industry ministry says that about 1.2 million home should get power back by Friday morning. 25 mobile generators have been deployed and it is expected that another 150 mobile units will be sent to Hokkaido from other parts of Japan. First priority to use the mobile generators to power hospitals across the island. The quake has killed at least 9 people, injured more than 300, and has caused another 36 people to be unaccounted for. https://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/en/news/20180906_16/ -- http://the-japan-news.com/news/article/0004713745 -- https://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/en/news/20180906_16/ -- https://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/en/news/20180906_33/ -- https://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/en/news/20180907_02/ -- https://mainichi.jp/english/articles/20180906/p2g/00m/0dm/082000c
  • The Nuclear Regulation Authority instructs nuke plant operators to install atmospheric monitoring systems for radioactive plumes. Government grants are available to pay for the monitors placed inside the 30 kilometer emergency planning zones around the nuke stations. The monitors will provide plume updates every 10 minutes. Each EPZ will have up to 48 monitors; 3 each at 16 locations. http://www.asahi.com/ajw/articles/AJ201809040018.html  
  • Fukushima residents voice strong objections to Tokyo saying the Tritium-laced waste waters at F. Daiichi should be released to the sea. Fishermen and local residents vehemently oppose the government’s plan to discharge the mildly radioactive water, saying it will damage a number of industries. The residents also blasted the Industry Ministry and Tepco for allegedly “misleading” the public by failing to disclose that radioactive substances, such as strontium, remained in the water to be discharged. Aside – The announcement of these trace amounts has been public knowledge for several months. – End aside. Although Tokyo says they will have all the stored water re-run through the purification system to remove the trace levels isotopes other than Tritium, such as Strontium, the nay-sayers were still up in arms. One said, “The (negative) influences of the measure will reach a wide range of fields, including not only the fishery industry but also tourism and restaurant businesses.” Another said any release of the Tritiated waters would strike a “devastating blow” to the prefecture’s fishing industry, “If the water is discharged in large quantities, it will inevitably cause confusion in Japan and abroad and lead to damage from groundless rumors.” The NRA says the discharge of the waters, after dilution, is the only feasible way to stop the constant buildup. http://www.asahi.com/ajw/articles/AJ201808310042.html
  • A former F. Daiichi worker dies of cancer, and his lifetime exposure is played by the Press as the reason for his demise. NHK World and Japan Today say the government “acknowledges” this, and the Mainichi Shimbun reports that the man’s cancer was indeed work-related. All news outlets are calling this the first death actually cause by Fukushima radiation exposure. The man’s lifetime exposure over a period of 28 years as a professional in radiation detection was 195 millisieverts. At F. Daiichi, he was exposed to nearly 110 millisieverts between March, 2011 and September, 2015. The Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare decided that the worker qualified for workman’s compensation under Japan’s ridiculous blue law on the subject, on September 4th. https://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/en/news/20180905_31/ -- https://japantoday.com/category/national/japan-acknowledges-first-radiation-death-among-fukushima-workers -- https://mainichi.jp/english/articles/20180905/p2a/00m/0na/004000c  (Comment – Residents of Ramsar, Iran, are routinely exposed to 250 millisieverts every year, and show no significant health differences from people who live in normal background areas. This important fact is always overlooked by Japan’s largely antinuclear Press! https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11769138 ) Addendum - the following link is for Dr. Jim Conca's Op/ed piece in Forbes showing why the worker's cancer death could not possibly be due to his Fukushima exposure. https://www.forbes.com/sites/jamesconca/2018/09/06/no-the-cancer-death-was-probably-not-from-fukushima/#7385a69721b5
  • A Tokyo court accepts a written statement by a former Tepco executive relative to an on-going negligence trial. The official says his boss abruptly postponed tsunami prevention measures at F. Daiichi 1 in 2008. The statement was made by Kazuhiko Yamashita and read aloud in court on September 5th. To prove negligence, prosecutors are trying to show that the top executives could have predicted the height of the tsunami that swamped the plant, and upgraded tsunami protection accordingly before the march 11, 3011 natural disaster caused a full-station blackout. Yamashita says that the upgrades were at-first approved by the three former Tepco executives on trial, but later delayed the implementation of the measures. Instead of sworn testimony, the court allowed the written statement because “(Yamashita) is not in a condition able to testify at the court.” http://www.asahi.com/ajw/articles/AJ201809060062.html

August 30, 2018

  • A public hearing was held concerning the Tritium-laced water stored at F. Daiichi. A panel of government experts discussed how to deal with the problem in Tomioka Town on Thursday. Roughly 100 residents and heads of stakeholder organizations attended. Among the possible options to dispose of the tritium-laced water, the government says diluting and releasing it into the sea is the quickest and most inexpensive way. But, local fishermen fear that the progress made since fishing resumed could be undone if the release happens. On the other hand, an Osaka participant supported the dilute and release option. More hearings will be held in Koriyama and Tokyo on Friday. https://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/en/news/20180830_17/
  • A double nuclear accident drill was held in Fukui Prefecture. The two day drill was simultaneously coordinated between the Ohi and Takahama stations, which are 13 kilometers from each other. Tokyo’s Cabinet Office planned the exercise to prepare for accidents striking multiple locations at the same time. The hypothetical scenario was a severe earthquake resulting in both nuke stations being blacked out, all cooling systems being lost, and the subsequent environmental release of radioactive substances. Roughly 21,000 people participated in the exercise. The 1,600 people who live within 30 kilometers of the stations were evacuated by bus or private vehicles to test the effectiveness of evacuation plans. Those moved to neighboring Kyoto Prefecture were scanned for radioactive contamination. Data from the drill will be used to upgrade the existing evacuation plans. https://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/en/news/20180825_15/ - https://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/en/news/20180826_19/  - https://english.kyodonews.net/news/2018/08/e25eab5cdb7f-update1-govt-conducts-evacuation-drill-for-multiple-nuclear-accidents.html
  • Fukushima’s “radiation boy” statue is removed from public view. Fukushima City Mayor Hiroshi Kohata says it was done because the statue causes the misconception that the city is contaminated. He said, “I sincerely apologize to people who have been saddened or discomforted (by the statue). We set up the statue as a symbol of people striving for reconstruction but have come to judge that the statue is not accepted by many citizens. We’ve judged that it is too difficult to continue to display such a controversial work as a symbol of the desire for reconstruction.” The 6.2 meter statue named “Sun Child” was made by contemporary artist Kenji Yanobe to express his wish for a world free of nuclear disasters. He said, "(The removal) is truly regrettable, but I thought we shouldn't provoke a confrontation anymore among people inside and outside the city." Of the 110 public responses concerning the statue, 75 wanted it removed and 22 did not. The question of what to do with the statue will not be easily answered because the city has no municipal art museum. http://the-japan-news.com/news/article/0004693866 - https://english.kyodonews.net/news/2018/08/9b560c15c4ec-controversial-fukushima-statue-of-child-in-radiation-suit-to-be-removed.html
  • Tepco plans to begin training in trial operations for de-fueling the unit #3 Spent Fuel Pool. On August 10th, the company told the Nuclear Regulation Authority that actual fuel bundle removal could begin by the end of the year. On August 6th, President Akira Ono of the Fukushima Daiichi Decontamination & Decommissioning Engineering Company said that the workers can now wear ordinary clothing or use light protective equipment in most 96% of the area, thanks to efforts reducing radiation levels. Besides alleviating the physical burden on the workers and improving their efficiency, being able to wear less-cumbersome outfits facilitates ordinary communications between them. https://www.jaif.or.jp/en/preparations-continue-to-remove-spent-nuclear-fuel-from-unit-3-at-fukushima-daiichi/
  • The removal of fuel bundles from the Monju Fast Breeder reactor begins. Japan Atomic Energy Agency has plans to relocate 530 used fuel bundles from sodium-based storage to a water pool by December 2022. The reactor is currently ear-marked for decommissioning. One bundle a day will be relocated to minimize the possibility of a violent sodium-water reaction. JAEA also plans to remove 760 tons of uncontaminated sodium from a secondary cooling system by year-end. https://jen.jiji.com/jc/eng?g=eco&k=2018083000598
  • Dr. Jim Conca answers the question, “How far do we need to run if a small modular reactor melts down?” He says no one needs to run because SMRs cannot melt down, and further that any plausible emergency condition would not release environmental contamination beyond the property boundary. Jim brashly states, “You can just stand there at the fence and watch what’s going on.” America’s Nuclear Regulatory Commission essentially came to this conclusion while evaluating a Tennessee Valley Authority application for a site permit! https://www.forbes.com/sites/jamesconca/2018/08/29/how-far-do-you-have-to-run-after-a-small-modular-nuclear-meltdown/#5c3857b77393
  • The Tokyo government holds public briefings on the disposal of highly radioactive nuclear waste. The Agency for Natural Resources and Energy has so far held 55 briefing sessions in the capitals of prefectures that may be geologically suitable for such a repository. Participants question whether or not high-level nuclear waste can safely be stored in earthquake-prone Japan. They are also concerned about how local people's opinions may be reflected. Although no municipality suitable for the repository has agreed to it, the briefings covering some 900 communities will continue. https://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/en/news/20180827_27/

August 23, 2018

  • Tokyo will not remove the installed public radiation monitors in Fukushima Prefecture. Nuclear Regulation Authority section chief Shoji Takeyama, told the Prefecture this on Wednesday. There are roughly 3,000 monitors located across the prefecture, costing the NRA about $4 million a year. The agency had said they would remove 2,400 on the devices through the next 3 years, but caved to the complaints of local residents. https://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/en/news/20180823_12/
  • Japan’s sweltering heat wave has raised heat-stroke concerns at F. Daiichi. A manager of sub-contractor IHI Construction told his workers, “Please limit your efforts to shifts of less than 90 minutes” in order to better manage the heat. IHI builds the large tanks for storing waste waters. The personnel must hydrate themselves while working, but many do not due to wearing required protective clothing and having to remove it in order to hydrate at water stations. Junichi Ono, the head of the IHI Plant Construction’s task force, said, “We need to pay attention because we work in a humid environment.  If a worker falls sick, we will lose valuable time taking that person to the doctor.” On-going efforts to protect personnel have dropped the number of heatstrokes from 23 in 2011 to 6 in 2017. Although this year has been one of unprecedented heat, only four cases of heatstroke have occurred. http://www.asahi.com/ajw/articles/AJ201808180033.html
  • F. Daiichi will have stronger tsunami protection. The upgrades are intended to prevent contaminated water in building basements from being spilled into the Pacific Ocean. Tepco will accelerate the schedule to block openings on the surface and the buildings’ ground floors. The new schedule is due to a December earthquake assessment the says a 8.8 Richter Scale quake is “imminent”. The resulting tsunami could reach a peak of 10.3 meters, which is nearly two meters higher than the ground elevation above sea level. There is about 50,000 tons of contaminated water in the basements of units #1 through #4. http://the-japan-news.com/news/article/0004670847
  • Tepco looks to create a consortium of key nuclear industry companies for maintenance and management services and decommissioning. The desired companies are Chubu Electric Power Co., Hitachi Ltd. and Toshiba Corp. The intent is to streamline operations and safety management, which promises to reduce costs for everyone. In addition, the consortium could discuss possible construction of new nuclear plants in the coming years. http://www.asahi.com/ajw/articles/AJ201808220046.html
  • The costs of making nuclear anti-terrorist upgrades are steep. NRA-mandated measures will have a price tag of at least $40 billion. Nuke operators must construct a facility to cool reactors via remote control in the event of a terrorist attack or an aircraft smashing into a plant. The upgrades are required to make the upgrades within 5 years of clearing NRA safety regulations. Currently, six of the 11 nuke companies have yet report on their anticipated costs, so the total price tag will probably be a lot more. http://www.asahi.com/ajw/articles/AJ201808230044.html  
  • Small-to-trace amounts of radioactive isotopes in F. Daiichi’s fully-treated waste waters make headlines. The reason is continuing radiophobic “concerns” by local fishermen and local residents. Allegedly, only the residual Tritium in the waters is of continuing concern. Also, the complainers say the 920,000 tons of stored water is not being checked for radioactivity once the water is safely in storage. https://english.kyodonews.net/news/2018/08/e52ba157d49a-treated-water-at-fukushima-nuclear-plant-has-radioactive-substances.html  (Comment - Stories like this serve no purpose other than keep the radiophobic demographic on edge!)
  • United Nation’s rapporteurs tell Tokyo to better protect workers at F. Daiichi from radiation exposure. The 3 independent “experts” appointed by the UN Human Rights Council jointly issued a statement on Thursday, August 16th. The report says workers are "being exploited and exposed to toxic nuclear radiation" and says they are deeply concerned about "possible exploitation by deception regarding the risks of exposure to radiation" and "the adequacy of training and protective measures." Lawyer Baskut Tuncak says their concerns have not been dispelled by the Japanese government. Tokyo has lodged a protest over the rapporteur’s report! https://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/en/news/20180817_80/

August 16, 2018

  • Fukushima holds an international forum on decommissioning F. Daiichi. On August 5th and 6th, domestic and foreign experts shared information on available technology and talked with local residents. It was the third such forum to be held. The first day focused on allowing locals to “know, talk, and question”, interacting with the experts. The second day was largely a technical session concerning remotely-operated and robotic technology, both in Japan and available from overseas sources. The experts came from around the world, including Dr. Jeff Griffin from Savannah River National Laboratory in the United States. The need for international cooperation was stressed both days. https://www.jaif.or.jp/en/international-forum-on-decommissioning-fukushima-daiichi-highlights-remotely-operated-systems/
  • A large statue of a child wearing Anti-Cs is unveiled and sparks local criticism. The 6.2-meter statue called Sun Child was made by contemporary artist Kenji Yanobe to express his wish for a world free from nuclear disasters. It is designed to show that the air in Fukushima Prefecture is free of radioactivity. Yanobe apologized on his website for the sharp criticism his creation induced. He said, "I wanted to make a work that encourages people (in Fukushima)...and made the statue of a child standing up bravely and strongly against any difficulties it faces.The clothing looks like protective gear, but it is also armor to confront major issues and, being like a space suit, it also carries a futuristic image." Criticisms included the statue giving the impression that everyone in the prefecture has to wear Anti-Cs, and the artwork is “unscientific”! Yanobe responded, "I should have paid more attention to the fact that accurate knowledge about radiation is needed much more now than before the disaster." https://japantoday.com/category/national/child-statue-in-protective-suit-in-crisis-hit-fukushima-criticized
  • Last Friday (Aug. 10) Chucogu Electric Co. applied for an NRA safety examination regarding Shimane unit #3. Shimane #3 is nearing the end of construction, at more than 93% completed. Work on the 1,373 MWe Advanced Boiling Water Reactor system  began in 2005, but construction was halted for several years following the accident at F. Daiichi. Requests for permission to operate were submitted to Shimane Prefecture and Matsue City in June and July. This is the second-such request for a safety screening on new nuke construction, following the one submitted relative to Oma unit #1, submitted in 2014. https://www.jaif.or.jp/en/chugoku-electric-applies-for-shimane-3-safety-examination-second-for-a-reactor-under-construction-after-ohma-npp/

August 9, 2018

  • Japan will not raise the cap on nuclear financial compensation funds. Currently, nuclear station owners must have a roughly $1.2 billion fund set aside in the unlikely event of a major nuclear accident. The Japan Atomic Energy Commission has been pressured to raise the limit, but an expert panel has decided it would not be needed. However, the draft report keeps operators' current unlimited liability for compensation that is stipulated in the law on compensation. The public comment period will last for 30 days, and the final report is expected as soon as October. https://jen.jiji.com/jc/eng?g=eco&k=2018080700265
  • Tepco temporarily ends the sale of Fukushima Daiichi souvenirs. Last week, the company began offering plastic folders with images of the four units which suffered damage on 3/11/11. The folders drew a considerable social media outcry, so Tepco pulled them off the shelf. They had been on sale for F. Daiichi visitors and workers at the station. Nay-sayers claim selling them was insensitive, especially to those forced to evacuate their communities. However, there were a number of people who thought the sale of the souvenir folders was appropriate. One said the merchandise could help visitors remember what they saw at the plant. The company is reviewing the large number of comments and will then decide whether or not to resume sales. https://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/en/news/20180809_38/

August 2, 2018

  • Fukushima’s J-Village has returned to being Japan’s national soccer training center. A high school “friendly” match marked the reopening on July 28. Since the 2011 nuke accident, it has served as a base for accident recovery activities, including personnel contamination checks, worker decontamination, donning anti-contamination clothing, and the distribution of personal dosimeters. The facility was Japan’s soccer training center from 1997 until 2011. J-Village Vice President Eiji Ueda said, “I am grateful especially to the devoted efforts of those involved in the work (to return the facility to soccer training).” He hopes the return of soccer training will help dispel on-going fears of lingering Fukushima accident radioactivity.  Though primarily focused on the 2020 Olympics, the J-Village will also be the site of training for the 2019 Rugby World Cup. http://www.jaif.or.jp/en/j-village-stadium-to-revert-to-original-role-as-soccer-training-center-having-contributed-to-the-stabilization-of-fukushima-daiichi/ -- http://the-japan-news.com/news/article/0004620584
  • (More on last week’s Fukushima ambassadors…) Three teenage Fukushima Reconstruction Ambassadors visited Taiwan to share insight on earthquake recovery. They met with the Mayor of Hualien, Taiwan, which suffered a major earthquake in February. Fukushima Minpo’s Jun Sakuma read a prepared message, which included, "The power of young people and strong bonds will help us open the way for a bright future whatever hardship we may face." Reconstruction ambassador Yumeka Ichijo , a 17-year-old, said, "I was surprised to find post-quake recovery well under way in Hualien, and would like to report on the present situation back at school." The ambassadors also met with students from Taipei Municipal Minquan Junior High School.  http://www.fukushimaminponews.com/news.html?id=906
  • Tepco will open a nuke accident and recovery museum in Tomioka town. It will open in late in November. The facility that will become a museum is now being used as a base for visitors to the plant site. The museum will have 1,900 m2 of floor space.The second floor will be devoted to the accident itself, recreated as a drama, and lessons learned from the experience. The first floor theme will be decommissioning of the reactors. A life-sized cross-section image of a reactor will be displayed so that visitors can see how a robot moves inside the reactor during a probe. Tepco says there will be no admission charge. https://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/en/news/20180730_18/
  • Namie resumes its annual samurai parade. The parade was part of the annual Soma-Nomaoi festival that has been postponed since 2011. Mounted warriors represented five hometowns covering the Soma-Nakamura domain that ruled northeastern Fukushima Prefecture. It was the first time the parade had been held in eight years. http://www.asahi.com/ajw/articles/AJ201807280033.html
  • Tepco considers decommissioning some of the units at Kashiwazaki-Kariwa station. The company responded to a request from one of the host municipalities saying it is too risky to operate all seven units at the station. Kashiwazaki Mayor Masahiro Sakurai wants Tepco to only restart units #6 & #7, which have passed the Nuclear Regulation Authority’s safety screening. Tepco says they will consider it. https://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/en/news/20180802_36/
  • The plan to use floating wind turbines to supply Fukushima Prefecture is failing. The windmills are being operated on a trial basis before diving into the full-fledged government-backed program. Theoretically, the windmills should produce a 30% capacity factor (the ratio of actual output to the maximum possible). Only one of the three test units has reached that level of reliability. Only the 2 MWe unit reached the desired capacity factor with 34%. The 5 MWE unit attained a CF of 12%, and the 7 MWe unit only a CF of 2%. The Industry Ministry says the reason for the tiny 7 MWe turbine CF is defects in the gearbox and “other parts”. Whether or not to commercialize the existing units will depend on their profitability. http://www.asahi.com/ajw/articles/AJ201807290001.html
  • The full relocation of Iwate and Miyagi prefecture disaster victims should be complete in 2020. Prime Minister Abe said, "Securing homes is an important step toward reconstruction. We'll do all we can so people no longer have to live in temporary housing.” The government has designated fiscal 2016-2020 as a period for the reconstruction and revitalization of disaster areas after a five-year intensive reconstruction period. As for revitalizing livelihoods, Abe said, "We'll continue to support livelihood reconstruction with full force." https://jen.jiji.com/jc/eng?g=eco&k=2018080201015

 

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