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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. Japan's Press is 94% antinuclear and calls the Fukushima accident the Fukushima nuclear disaster. (Updates are posted twice weekly; Monday and Thursday)

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July 2, 2015

  • The radioactive water has been removed from the unit #2 equipment tunnels. The tunnels have been slowly filled with cement that sets up and hardens under water, and the displaced water has been t and stored. The removed liquids were run through the Multi-nuclide Removal Facility (ALPS) just like any other contaminated waters. Also, the unit #3 tunnel water removal project nears completion, with Tepco’s graphic depiction showing that three vertical shafts remain to be filled. The unit #2 tunnels had 4,160 tons of the contaminated water in them, and unit #3’s had 5,440 tons. Tepco estimates that about 10,000 tons has flowed through the tunnels since the accident. The Tepco graphic indicates that a much shorter tunnel system for unit #4, which held 690 tons, was completely filled by the end of April. At this point, 93% of all tunnel waters have been removed. -- --

  • A “scorpion” robot will examine inside the unit #2 primary containment vessel. It will be used to identify fallen objects and possible damage inside the PCV. The robot is about 21 inches long, 3.5 inches tall, and 3.5 inches wide. It weighs about 11 pounds. The name “scorpion” comes from the robot’s ability to raise its lights and cameras on an arm from the rear of the device. When the arm is fully extended, it resembles a scorpion. Unlike the previous snake-like robots used to study inside the unit #1 PCV, this “scorpion” is built to be self-righting, in case it tips over as it traverses the inner PCV. It is planned to make entry through a piping penetration before the end of August. Unfortunately, the Press inside and outside Japan make the false speculation that the robot is intended to find melted fuel “in the pressure vessel”. This will not be possible since such an inspection would have to be inside the thick concrete “pedestal” supporting the reactor itself. The “scorpion” will only inspect outside the pedestal. Is the Press setting up yet another “failure” agenda when the robot doesn’t see any melted fuel? Only time will tell. Here’s an example of such incorrect reporting from the New York Times…

  • British nuclear energy expert Malcolm Grimston says Fukushima’s evacuation was not justified. In an August 2014 report, Grimston said, “…the irrational prevention of people from returning to their homes in areas where there was hardly any contamination, turned it [the Fukushima accident] into a serious human tragedy.” He adds, “Ironically, one suspects that the irrational exclusion was adopted in an attempt to reassure people. In reality, there is a demonstrable, dangerous but almost invisible myth that one should 'err on the side of caution' in radiological protection. Any action that is not justified on health grounds - let's say any exclusion from an area which is safer than living in London or Tokyo with all their air pollution - will do more harm than good.” Grimston is Honorary Senior Research Fellow at Imperial College Centre for Energy Policy and Technology. His paper, “Fukushima: The Response was Worse than the event” was published in the Journal of the Atomic Energy Society of Japan, Vol. 57. Here’s the summation Grimston wrote for World Nuclear News, August 26, 2014…

  • A Tohoku professor is studying slaughtered animals from the Fukushima evacuation zone. Manabu Fukumoto has been examining blood and other remains from domestic cows and pigs, plus wild animals hunted down inside the no-go zone. Over the past four years, he has checked 300 cows, 60 pigs, and 200 monkeys. He explains his reasoning, “Studying animals that lived in areas with high levels of radioactive material will help shed light on how radiation affects people… In fact, they provide us with a wealth of information,” Fukumoto said. He is convinced that “this is the quickest way to resolve questions regarding long-term radiation exposure.” It should be noted that the Press report suggests the reason why this type of research is happening is because “much remains unknown about the long-term health effects of the radioactive substances released.”

  • Rural radioactive waste will be removed from five Fukushima schools. The Environment Ministry says the materials produced by decontamination efforts at the schools will be moved to the new interim storage facility in July, when students will be off on summer holiday. Officials at the schools have been pressuring the removal of the packaged materials in order to ease student’s concerns. The five schools are elementary schools Kaoru, Asaka Daini, and Takakura in Koriyama, plus Yashirogawa in Tanagura and Yamashiraishi in Asakawa. The materials at the Koriyama schools are buried, and the two other schools have the wastes in bags stacked at various locations on their respective properties. All waste should be gone by the time schools reopen in late August.

  • Koori students plant grass seedlings to revive their decontaminated schoolyard. The Danzaki Elementary School schoolyard was turned into a lawn under the Fukushima Prefecture’s Utsukushima Green Project in June, 2010. But, when radiation levels increased after the nuclear accident, the upper layer of soil was removed. The stripped underlying soil has remained barren until now. Parents wanted it green again, and the Japan Football Association supplied the seedlings to make it happen. About 350 pupils, parents and guardians, local residents, teachers and others took part the planting. Koori is located just north of Fukushima City, more than 60 kilometers from F. Daiichi.

  • Tepco is ordered to compensate a suicide victim’s wife more than $200,000. Kiichi Isozaki of Namie committed suicide in July 2011. He and his wife fled to Koriyama on March 12, 2011, after the Prime Minister ordered an evacuation out to 10 kilometers from F. Daiichi. They stayed in a high school gymnasium, but later moved to another city when Kiichi said he was having trouble sleeping. He left his apartment on July 23, 2011, and was later found dead in an Iitate river. The suit filed by wife Eiko asked for more than $700,000 in damages. The Fukushima District court ruled that the suicide was not the only possible stressor leading to the suicide because he was a diabetic and had been forced to take early retirement before the accident. But the court ruled that the nuke evacuation caused loss of “foundation of his life”, and was 60% responsible for him taking his own life. This is the second suicide-related damages that have been awarded by the Fukushima court. Last August, they awarded $400,000 to the husband of a woman who burned herself to death. --

  • The IAEA is reviewing the safety of the world’s largest nuclear power station. The Kashiwazaki-Kariwa facility, Niigata Prefecture, is owned by Tepco. The company needs one or more of the units restarted to recoup at least part of their Fukushima accident losses caused. The International Atomic Energy Agency has sent in a 12 member team to assess the station’s safety level now that most of the upgrades mandated by the Nuclear Regulation Authority have been made. The initial inspections were of the new emergency vehicles, filtered venting technology for depressurization during a prolonged emergency, and the new 15-meter-high break-wall surrounding the station. The team’s report is expected in about three months. It should be noted that some of the Japanese Press describes the IAEA team in disparaging fashion, dubbing the group as the “so-called Operational Safety Review Team”. “So-called” synonyms include “inappropriately named, alleged, presumed, and/or supposed”, clearly implying that the team’s name is unsuitable or incorrect. -- --

June 29, 2015

  • Two popular Fukushima beaches south of F. Daiichi show no detectible seawater contamination. Yotsukura beach is 35 miles away, and Nakoso beach is 40 miles. Both are inside the city limits of Iwaki. The beaches were closed following the March 2011 nuke accident. Nakoso was reopened in July of 2012, and Yatsukura on July, 2013. Tepco has been sampling the seawater monthly since both reopened, but did not regularly posting the analytical results until after the rainwater run-off issue surfaced earlier this year. Since then, there has been no detectible Cesium, gross Beta, or Tritium activity. The most recent data posting is here…

  • Host municipalities for nukes could lose revenue due to decommissioning. In many cases, host towns are small and deeply dependent on taxes paid by the utilities that own the units. Decommissioning would eventually end the tax income from nukes and pose a serious threat to the community’s financial viability. To mitigate the situation, the All Japan Council of Local Governments with Atomic Power Stations is trying to obtain commitments from the national government to create supportive measures, including a new system of grants/subsidies. One example of the possible impact of lost tax revenue is Genkai Town, Saga Prefecture. One of the five units at Genkai station is going to be decommissioned, effecting a loss of nearly $3.5 million. The Town wants to impose a spent (used) nuclear fuel tax on the utility to compensate for the lost income. However, Tokyo might balk at the idea. Some nuke utilities have already been hit with post-Fukushima taxes from host towns. Traditionally, taxes are paid when units are operating, but the nation-wide moratorium on nukes has changed the revenue structure in some cases. Towns have shifted their tax assessments to make the utilities pay, even when the units are not operating. But, even that approach will end when plants are decommissioned. In anticipation, Genkai Town has come up with the idea of the spent fuel tax.

  • 86% of Fukushima High School seniors want to find jobs within the prefecture. This is the highest rate since 1989. The rate dropped to 77% in 2012 and 77.6% in 2013. The sharp decrease was largely due to fear that the Fukushima accident would dry up the prefecture’s job market. However, this has not happened, so the percentage has climbed markedly over the past 2 years. It is assumed that this positive trend is due to HS students wanting to do whatever is needed to recover from the 2011 quake and tsunami that devastated the coastline. The most popular job category for male students was manufacturing at 37%, followed by technicians or professional engineers at 16%, and construction/mining at 9%. For female students, the most popular was the service industry at 27%, followed by clerical work at 20%, and sales/marketing at 18%.

  • Some low level radioactive waste (LLW) containers were found with broken lid bolts. On Saturday, the Nuclear Fuel Transport Company reported that five bolts on the lid of metal transport containers were damaged. It is the only company in Japan that transports LLW by sea. The Land, Transport, and Tourism Ministry ordered a halt to all transportation operations until safety can be confirmed. The firm reported that a broken bolt was discovered on an empty container at the Rokkasho storage facility, Aomori Prefecture, in February. It was not reported because it was judged a “peculiar case”. Another faulty bolt was found last Thursday, and further investigation uncovered the rest of the broken lid fasteners. None of the bolts were damaged due to the transportation of LLW. There has been no environmental impact. --

June 25, 2015

  • There is no Fukushima Cesium in Steelhead trout or Sockeye salmon caught off British Columbia. InFORM (Integrated Fukushima Ocean Radionuclide Monitoring) reports,” None of the fish from 2014 were found to contain detectable levels of Cesium-134. What this means is that radioactivity from Fukushima cannot be detected in fish caught in BC waters as of August 2014… Samples (99 total) of sockeye salmon and steelhead returning BC streams and rivers were collected and analyzed and none were found to contain detectable levels of Fukushima derived radionuclides.” Cs-134 is the marker isotope that provides unmistakable evidence as to whether or not Fukushima radioactivity is present.We also measured naturally occurring radioisotopes Potassium-40 (40K) and Polonium-210 (210Po) that always contribute doses of radiation to human consumers of marine fish… Neither the exposure to artificial (weapon’s test residuals) or natural radionuclides represent a dangerous health risk to consumers in Canada.”

  • Tokyo eases restrictions on farming and businesses in Fukushima no-go zone. Agricultural activities will be resumed in residence-restricted zones in the hope of restarting full-fledged shipments. Until now, farming in areas with exposure estimates between 20 and 50 millisieverts per year has been banned “in principle” by the government. Farmers will be allowed shipments of rice, vegetables and other produce that clear limits set under the Food Sanitation Act. Fukushima Prefecture says there are over 3,000 hectares of farmland in residence-restricted areas. In addition, businesses deemed essential to resume and/or rebuild essential infrastructure may restart in locations where outdoor radiation levels are less than 3.8 microsieverts per hour. This would be approximately 20 mSv/yr if someone spent 24 hours per day outdors for 365 days. Further, businesses in zones with exposure estimates greater than 50 mSv/yr can reopen if they are deemed necessary to support infrastructure in locations where restriction are lifted. Details on the government decision will be shared with interested parties by local governments.

  • The new JAIF president says a Japanese nuclear renaissance is coming. Akio Takahashi (63), former senior official of Tepco, is the new president of Japan Atomic Industrial Forum. Former JAIF President Takuya Hattori (71) retired after nine years of leading the organization. In Takahashi’s statement following his ascension to JAIF presidency, he said, “I realize the issues lying before us: the swift restoration of Fukushima, the securing of nuclear safety, the regaining of public trust and the promotion of public understanding. I hope to reinforce the activities of JAIF as Japan’s nuclear industry moves toward a renaissance.”

  • Meanwhile, Japanese antinuclear utility shareholders reject all antinuclear proposals. All nine utilities with nukes held their annual shareholder meetings. At the meetings, minority antinuclear stockholders filed tenders to keep idled nukes shut down permanently. In each case, the proposals were summarily rejected by the body of stakeholders. For example, the Tepco meeting drew more than 2,000 attendees, but antinuclear proposals came from only 15. Regardless, the complaints from the greatly-outnumbered antinuclear contingents were given foremost Press coverage. Former Futaba Mayor Katsuaka Igodawa continued his antinuclear crusade at the Tepco meeting, saying that abandoning nukes is “the only way for the company to survive”. He compared the lives of the Futaba evacuees to living in hell. Futaba is banned from habitation by government mandate. In another instance, a few Kyushu Electric Co. stockholders called for the firing of the company’s president because the company is going to restart two Sendai units later this summer. The motion was voted down. --

  • High level waste (HLW) NIMBY is spreading in Japan. Tokyo’s Agency for Natural resources and Energy (ANRE) has been holding meetings across Japan to explain the process for HLW repository site selection. At the meetings, ANRE representatives explain the government’s policy to propose “scientifically-promising sites,” with the participating municipalities, then ask questions about specific schedules in order to hold future meetings. However, fears of public backlash resulted in poor attendance by many local officials. At some meetings, half of the prefectures did not attended. Their main reason for non-appearance is that vocal members of the public want no part of the safe handling of nuclear waste, including low level materials, so the officials stayed away out of fear that attendance will be construed as agreeing to have the repository in their prefecture. A few dissident prefectures say they haven’t attended because the meetings are behind closed doors, shutting out public participation.

  • Japan asks China to ease food import restrictions. A director-general of the Japanese Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries made the request in Beijing. China has banned food imports from 10 Japanese prefectures since the nuke accident in 2011. The sale of all Japanese food products has dropped sharply in China since the import ban went into effect. However, it is believed that demand remains strong for the restricted products. Future meetings between the two countries are expected in the future.

  • Fukushima university students will aid elderly evacuees. They will live in the same Fukushima City housing as some of the evacuees and give them help that is needed. Two students at a time will live in the Iizaka district complex for three months, followed by two others for the succeeding months, and so on. The cycle will continue for a year, thus involving eight students. The project was suggested by the Fukushima University Disaster Volunteer Center, which has promoted visits to temporary homes for elderly evacuees. It was adopted by the Reconstruction Agency as a state-subsidized "mental reconstruction" project.

  • Tokyo looks into possible voluntary evacuee situations following the 2017 end of free housing. The government has told prefectural governments to include voluntary evacuees in the routine “draw” policy for acceptance in public housing after the free rent period ends. After the 2011 accident, voluntary evacuees were provided rent compensation by Tokyo and were not included in public “draws”. That will end in March, 2017. The Reconstruction Agency says their basic policy has always been for voluntaries to return to Fukushima. When included in the draws, there is no guarantee that they will be selected for cheap public housing. They will be treated the same as any other low-income Japanese citizen. In addition, some municipalities have passed ordinances placing severe restrictions on voluntary evacuees applying for inclusion in local housing draws. The Agency says 40 prefectures and city governments are accepting applications, but only about 50 have been issued. On the other hand, a Land Ministry official said, "We cannot treat voluntary evacuees the same as forced evacuees, who are allowed entrance into public housing without entering draws. In the end, the methods taken are the decision of municipal governments." One dissenting Tokyo official criticized the policy saying it was established without addressing the desires of the voluntary evacuees.

  • Japan’s nuke watchdog will revise emergency medical preparedness for the public. In the past, hospitals near nuclear stations have been given help by the government to treat small numbers of emergency workers. However, the 2011 Fukushima accident revealed that large numbers of the public needing medical care, and also exposed to airborne contamination, overwhelmed the local medical facilities. On Wednesday, the NRA released a draft of new guidelines intended to create a network of medical facilities within the 30 kilometer emergency planning zones, designation 1-3 hospitals as base facilities in each. The hospitals are to have teams of experts to treat patients after accidents, and be available go to other prefectures where an accident might occur. The designated facilities will check evacuees for exposure to contamination, then treat the injured and sick accordingly. A 30-day public comment period began on Wednesday, after which the NRA will pursue making formal regulations.

  • Hamaoka unit #3 restart screening begins. It is possible that one of the two Hamaoka units under consideration will be the first BWR in Japan to restart. The Nuclear Regulation Authority says they will prioritize the screening of unit #4, indicating that they want unit #4 restarted first of the two. Chubu Electric Co. is in the midst of a nearly $3 billion safety upgrade in order to meet the post-Fukushima regulations. It is felt that the screening process will be long and drawn-out. One reason is the station’s proximity to the Tokai fault line, running several kilometers distant. The fault line is rated at 8.4 Richter scale-capable, based on geologic evidence. Secondly, the governor of Shizuoka Prefecture, Heita Kawakatsu, is wary of agreeing to restarts. He is leaning toward having the issue decided by referendum. Hamaoka station was asked to shut down in May, 2011, by then-PM Naoto Kan. Kan feared a Tokai quake would cause another Fukushima-like accident. The station is the nuke nearest the Tokyo metropolis, and Kan feared he would have to face evacuation of more than 10 million people. (Comment - The Japanese Press says Hamaoka sits at the “epicenter” of the Tokai fault. A quick map check shows the station is more than 5 kilometers from the fault line. Second, it is impossible to determine where the epicenter of a future quake will be. The last two quakes in 1854 and 1707 had epicenters more than 100 kilometers from Hamaoka station. In addition, there is no mention in the Press that a worst-case tsunami of 20 meters has been used as the post-Fukushima model. A massive anti-tsunami wall has been built to a height of 21 meters. Plus, the 9.0 Richter scale quake at F. Daiichi did absolutely nothing to the nuclear operating and emergency cooling systems. I guess these facts are not as “newsworthy” as stretching the truth with the false idea that Hamaoka sits on the epicenter of a future quake.)

June 22, 2015

  • A fully-contained Fukushima water leak gets headlines in Japan. Tepco reported that 20 liters of mildly contaminated rainwater leaked from a pipe joint and into an underlying receptacle. It is possible that the leak was spawned by incorrect valve positioning. There was no release to the environment. The leaked water measured 24,000 Becquerels per liter of beta activity. As usual, this relatively low concentration was billed as “highly radioactive” and “tainted” by the Japanese Press. Tepco has posted pictures showing the leaky flange and piping area. It is inside the Rainwater Treatment Facility on the Desalination Reverse Osmosis Membrane System. 

  • The number of Fukushima child evacuees has dropped 5.5% in six months. This was for both mandated and voluntary evacuee kids. In October, the number of child evacuees aged 18 and under, stood at 24,873. As of April 1st, the number had dropped to 23,498. 12, 006 were still inside the prefecture, and 11,492 were living in other prefectures. The percentage inside the prefecture dropped by 3.6%, while those in other prefectures dropped by 8.2%. Minamisoma City had the largest number of child evacuees at 4,729. Fukushima City had the largest number of children evacuated outside the exclusion zone at 2,034, followed by Koriyama city with 2,001. The number of child evacuees inside and outside Fukushima Prefecture has been on the decline since 2013. The greatest decrease seems to have been with those living outside the prefecture, apparently due to parents overcoming their fear of relatively innocuous low level radiation exposures and returning home. The lower radiation levels were largely due to decontamination work reducing airborne releases, natural isotopic decay, and childrearing support measures such as providing medical treatment at no charge for children aged 18 and below.

  • Tokyo’s nuke watchdog confirms exposure reduction at the F. Daiichi site boundary. The NRA acknowledges that effective doses were reduced due to treatment of contaminated water, as of the end of March 2015. The NRA says the highest measurement location 1.44mSv/year, and the average for all nine boundary monitors was less than 1 mSv/yr. Although the data was initially supplied by Tepco, the NRA found that their independent monitoring conforms to the Tepco data.

  • The exposure limit for nuclear emergency responders can be raised to 250 mSv/yr. The Ministry of Health has approved a proposal to revise the Ordinance on Prevention of Ionizing Radiation Standards which would set a “special emergency dosage limit” for nuclear emergency response personnel. The next step is a review by the Radiation Council in April, 2016. The proposed regulation also calls for special education on radiation exposure for the workers and post-exposure health care. In May, the Nuclear Regulation Authority said the new limit ought to be set at 250 mSv/yr.

  • Nahara Town Assembly holds its 1st regular meeting since the Fukushima accident. The meeting was held on June 9th at its regular location in the town itself. Naraha Mayor Yukiei Matsumoto said, "Evacuees from the town have been practicing preparatory lodging at their homes since April ahead of permanent returns. We decided to hold the regular June meeting at the usual chamber as a way to proceed with preparations to welcome townspeople back.” Motoi Aoki, chairman of the assembly, said, "It is deeply emotional to be able to meet at the usual chamber in our hometown Naraha."

  • Essential businesses can now operate in the F. Daiichi exclusion zone. Specifically, those businesses needed to rebuild infrastructure and provide needed reconstruction. The government completed a review of the existing guidelines on Friday. Under the revised guidelines, businesses will be allowed to operate in the no-entry zones if they are certified as indispensable for establishing infrastructure or waste disposal. In residential zones, growing and distributing farm produce will be allowed, except for rice, if approved by Tokyo and local authorities.

  • Fuel loading at Sendai unit #1 is scheduled to start on July 7th. It was hoped that the process would begin on July 4th, but re-examination of procedures has forced Kyushu Electric Company to move the schedule back three days. It is expected that the loading of new fuel into the core will take about four days. Once the fuel is installed, containment vessels and pipes will be examined to verify integrity. The fuel loading schedule change has not affected the anticipated mid-August restart of unit #1.

  • A Fukushima river’s radioactive Cesium levels fluctuate with the seasons. Researchers from Tokyo University suspect the changes are due to leaves and animal carcasses falling into rivers during the spring season. The team took samples of sediments from 35 locations in the Abukuma River, Fukushima Prefecture. Average Cesium concentrations were 1,450 Becquerels per kilogram in the spring of 2012, 1,270 Bq/kg in the fall, and back up to 2,700 Bq/kg the next spring. The highest reading at one of the 35 sampling points was 22,888 Bq/kg in the spring of 2013. Team leader Hirokazu Ozaki said, "There is a possibility that radioactive substances are concentrated in the bodies of fish through the food chain, so it's important to grasp what's happening in the rivers. This study is unprecedented, and we'd like to continue."

  • Reuters rues the lack of a permanent nuclear waste storage locations around the world. Finland and Sweden appear nearest to putting High Level Wastes (used fuel bundles) in deep geological repositories. But elsewhere, the issue of public acceptance has effectively stopped progress. Antinuclear groups allege that the materials will remain toxic for more than 100,000 years. Johan Swahn, director of a Swedish non-governmental organization known as MKG, says, “…it will be difficult to prove a safety case for 100,000 years." On the other hand, Stefan Mayer, team leader of the IAEA's waste technology section, says, "If we can provide socially and politically accepted approaches, we can implement solutions." The Reuters article was posted verbatim by the Japan Times.

June 18, 2015

  • Nahara Town to be fully reopened by mid-August. It will be the third evacuation order lifted inside the Tokyo-mandated exclusion zone. Previously, the Miyakoji district of Tamura City and the eastern part of Kawauchi village have seen the restrictions dropped. Nahara is located ~12 kilometers south of F. Daiichi and had a pre-accident population of 7,400. Response task force head Yosuke Takagi made the announcement at the town assembly meeting on Wednesday. He stressed that Tokyo will not force anyone to return to full-time residency, but the town’s environment and infrastructure are ready for repopulation. Takagi said, “Whether to return is up to each person. . . . Even if we lift the order, we want to continue working substantially on measures to rebuild Nahara.” He added that current compensation payments for mental anguish will continue even if people return. Temporary stays have been permitted since April so residents can prepare for full-time residency. Only about 100 households have taken advantage of the opportunity. A Reconstruction Agency survey last November indicated that only about 45% of the town residents plan to return. Those not willing to return generally say it is because they have concerns for their health and lack of available jobs. Meetings to address the evacuees' radiation fears and the status of infrastructure will be held before and after the order is lifted. Currently, the town’s average radiation level is about 0.3 microsieverts per hour (2.6 mSv/yr). One town official called the scheduled lifting of the order “abrupt”, while another said residents worry about the availability of safe food and residual contamination of their homes. One evacuee says, “Our homes and our lives are anything but stabilized. We feel the announcement of the evacuation lift is premature and does not address these issues.” -- -- -- -- --

  • Some bags of rural contaminated waste have been damaged while in make-shift storage. Last year, the Environment Ministry examined 580 sites outside the exclusion zone. The ministry says bags and/or their underlying water-proof sheets were found damaged at 78 locations, and 113 sites had rain damage to the underlying soils. No contaminated leaks were detected, however. The ministry promises to continue monitoring these storage sites and cooperate with local officials to insure against contaminated leaks.

  • Tohoku Electric Company says all upgrades to Onagawa #2 and Higashidori #1 units should be finished by April, 2017. The upgrades include burial of tanks for emergency diesel generator fuel and improved fire-protection. The company filed with the NRA for the compatibility examinations of Onagawa-2 in December, 2013, and Higashidori-1 In June, 2014. The NRA’s examination for Higashidori #1 was delayed due to NRA earthquake fault studies. Nearby geologic anomalies were deemed non-seismic in March, 2015. It is possible that these two units will be the first Boiling Water Reactor plants to restart.

  • More information on the revised F. Daiichi decommissioning plan. The Japan Atomic Industrial Forum has posted their summation of the roadmap. JAIF lists five primary areas of focus; (1) placing greater emphasis on risk reduction, (2) clarifying milestones toward goals, (3) strengthening mutual trust with local communities through more thorough information disclosure, (4) reducing workers’ exposure doses and strengthening work safety and sanitation management, and (5) establishing the “control tower” strategy for development of decommissioning technology. In addition, the plan clarifies the three principles of handling contaminated water; (a) removing the source of the contamination, (b) isolating groundwater from the contamination source, and (c) preventing leakage of the contaminated water. As reported here on Monday, revisions in the schedule for used fuel removal from units #1, #2, & #3, have not negatively impacted the envisioned 30-40 year time frame for decommissioning.  On a related note, The Japan News (Yomiuri Shimbun) has posted a relatively objective report on the use of robots to determine the condition of the inner containment buildings (Primary Containments) as a prerequisite for damaged fuel (corium) removal. Extraction of the corium is projected for 2021. It is hoped that all the corium will be removed from the three units by 2030.

  • More information on ending voluntary evacuee rent subsidies in 2017. The voluntaries have been provided money to pay for the apartments to which they fled in 2011. Fukushima Prefecture and Tokyo have agreed end the housing payouts, but will continue limited support for some of the voluntaries after March, 2017. The demographic of most concern is families living in poverty. Financial assistance to help the impoverished return to Fukushima Prefecture is expected to start this year. In addition, rent assistance for low-income evacuees could last a few years after 2017, publicly-managed homes both in and out of the prefecture might be provided, and the prefecture will seek financial assistance from Tokyo in order to provide these services. Meetings with voluntary evacuees are expected to start next month to establish the extent of need. The prefecture estimates that 25,000 Fukushima residents remain voluntarily estranged. Fukushima Gov. Masao Uchibori said, "The construction of publically-managed recovery homes [for evacuees] has made progress, and it will be difficult to maintain the emergency aid being offered under the Disaster Relief Act. We will think of a framework that allows us to respond to everyone's individual wishes. We want to enrich the contents of our support policies." The prefecture believes that as long as the free rent exists, there is little incentive for voluntary evacuees to go home.

  • A Tepco shareholder lawyer claims the company knew a 15.7 meter tsunami was possible long before the accident. A suit filed by more than 40 shareholders in 2012, demanding ~$50 million in damages, is being heard in Tokyo District Court. Attorney Yuichi Kaido said an internal 2008 Tepco document shows the company "had clearly recognized as of that year that measures against tsunami were inevitable, contradicting the company's explanations so far." Allegedly, the document says that Tepco anti-tsunami upgrades are “inevitable as we cannot help but expect bigger tsunami than currently projected” given the opinions of academics and the government, and “It is indispensable for us to develop measures against a higher tsunami than currently estimated.” The lawyers claim that Tepco’s inaction was to avoid spending “massive” amounts of money for the upgrades. Tepco responded that the 2008 document did not represent a consensus of the scientific community. They also submitted another internal report saying, “The (2008) document just mentioned the possibility of some sort of anti-tsunami measures required in the future and did not point out any specific risk of tsunami.” --

June 15, 2015

  • A new study shows no need to worry about Minamisoma children’s radiation exposure. The city stretches between 10 and 40 kilometers north of F. Daiichi. 881 students between the ages of six and fifteen had an average exposure on 0.7 millisieverts over the second year after the Fukushima accident. The highest single exposure during the period was 3.49 mSv. 80% if the students received doses less that the goal on 1 mSv/yr sought by Tokyo. Team representative Masaharu Tsubokura of Tokyo University’s Institute of Medical Science said, "The radiation exposure of elementary and junior high students has been kept low, and there's no need to worry about the effects on their health." The study included internal exposure monitoring, and 99.7% showed nothing detectible. The researchers say this is the first post-Fukushima screening of individual internal and external exposure levels within 2 years of the accidental releases. Minamisoma residents have been given free personal monitoring and screenings since the fall of 2011.

  • The revised Fukushima decommissioning plan focuses on reducing worker risk. A new roadmap was developed in meetings between government ministries, the Nuclear Regulation Authority, and Tepco. While the new roadmap delays used fuel removal by as much as three years from the previous plan, the 30-40 year time-frame for completing full decommissioning has not changed. The key change in the plan is a shift from “focusing on speed” to “safety and risk reduction”. The prime example is the longer time allowed for removal of used fuel bundles from the storage pools of units #1, #2 & #3. The lengthier schedule is intended to allow radiation levels to decay in the work areas and reduce stress on the staff. Keizai University professor emeritus Hiroaki Yoshii said, “It’s important to classify the risks since decommissioning work involves a range of procedures.” Tepco President Naomi Hirose said, "The revisions made to the mid-and-long-term roadmap are based on our experience over the past four years, and we will continue moving forward, adhering to the plan. Safety will always be top priority in the decommissioning of Fukushima Daiichi." Unfortunately, the full document released by the government is in Japanese-only. -- It should be noted that most Japanese Press outlets focus almost entirely on the estimated delays in used fuel removal, while making little or no mention of the main safety focus of the new roadmap. (two examples are linked, below) --

  • It’s official. Living restrictions for nearly 55,000 evacuees will be lifted by March, 2017. This will affect nearly 75% of those currently subject to the Tokyo mandate. PM Shinzo Abe commented, “The government will accelerate its efforts to lift evacuation orders early while presenting a vision of the future for local communities promptly.” The new guidelines focus on supporting local businesses to effect return of the population before the plan’s end date. The locations affected will have exposure rates less than 50 millisieverts per year. (Aside - radiation exposure measurements in these areas over the past year have shown that most people would actually receive doses much less than 20 mSv/yr. – end aside) The plan also calls for continuing the ~$1,000 per month (per person) mental anguish stipend until March 2017, regardless of whether or not restrictions are lifted before that date. -- (Comment - The above links seem the least tainted by the Japanese news media’s penchant for nuclear negativity. The following links are examples of the majority, which all taint the Tokyo announcement with a “despite strong public concerns over radiation contamination” statement in the lead paragraph. This is a subtle, but significant rhetorical ploy to make it seem that Tokyo doesn’t care about the Fukushima evacuees. -- )

  • The Environment Ministry has posted the latest data on groundwater by-pass activity. This is water pumped out of the ground west of the four damaged units at F. Daiichi. Groundwater flows west to east, so this water has not yet come in contact with the contaminated basements. The June 11th data shows no detectible Cesium-134, beta emitters, or alpha emitter activity. Cs-137 and Strontium-90 are barely detectible, and Tritium activity is merely 100 Becquerels per liter.

  • More than 7,000 Tochigi Prefecture residents to sue Tepco for fears caused by the Fukushima accident. The total damages sought by the plaintiffs will be over $15 million through an out-of-court settlement. The residents live in three Tochigi communities that are roughly 100km southwest of F. Daiichi. The plaintiffs also want a formal apology from Tepco for scaring them, and a fund to pay for any decontamination work and health checkups they want. The residents argue that people in Fukushima Prefecture who voluntarily evacuated from outside the Tokyo-mandated exclusion zone were compensated to the tune of more than $7,500 each. The plaintiffs say their exposures from the accident were similar to those experienced in southern Fukushima Prefecture, so they deserve to get the same money as those who voluntarily fled. The age-breakdown of the plaintiffs indicates that most are actual or prospective parents fearing negative health effects for their children. Lawyers for the group say the filing shows how many people are afraid of radiation. --


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