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

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July 10, 2020

  • A UN rapporteur says the F. Daiichi waste water disposal question is a human rights issue. Rapporteurs have criticized Japan for its radiological criteria concerning resettlement, and the alleged exploitation of migrant workers and the poor for decontamination efforts. Now comes another questionable concern specific to the release of the essentially harmless Tritium-laced water stored in more than a thousand sealed tanks on the plant site. Mr. Baskut Tuncak unabashedly raises the false specter of the 1945 atomic bombings in Japan, showing his radiophobic infection of the Hiroshima Syndrome! He calls the scientifically acceptable, slow, innocuous release of the waters to the sea “…a terrible blow to the livelihood of local fishermen. Regardless of the health and environmental risks, the reputational damage would be irreparable, an invisible and permanent scar upon local seafood.” The level of ignorance displayed by Tuncak is clearly on display! Further, he falsely accuses Tokyo of ignoring the concerns of the communities of Fukushima and disrespecting their human rights. He calls the possible release of the waters “transboundary environmental harm” which is steeped in the all-too-typical radiophobic appeal of “scientific uncertainty of the health and environmental impacts of exposure to low-level radiation”!  Those who follow our “Fukushima Accident Updates” can easily grasp the absurdity in Tuncak’s words! https://english.kyodonews.net/news/2020/07/1145e5b3970f-opinion-fukushima-nuclear-waste-decision-also-a-human-rights-issue.html
  • In parallel with the above, 17 Fukushima assemblies call Tokyo’s response to the wastewater disposal issue “inadequate” and “insufficient”. They oppose the release of the waters to the sea, out of fear of damage to the reputation of the fishing industry. Fukushima Minpo surveyed all 59 Fukushima assemblies and found that 17 purport this opinion. It seems that all 17 dissident groups acknowledge the scientifically innocuous nature of the liquid and wish to continue the needless, wasteful status quo. The Tokyo government has essentially committed to the ocean release in 2022when the available space for tanks at F. Daiichi will run out. The Municipal assemblies that oppose the disposal of the waters are Aizuwakamatsu, Iwaki, Kitakata, Soma, Nihonmatsu, Koori, Kawamata, Minamiaizu, Aizubange, Yugawa, Kaneyama, Nishigo, Ishikawa, Miharu, Namie, Shinchi, and Iitate. It should be noted that another 13 assemblies are deliberating on the issue. http://www.fukushimaminponews.com/news.html?id=1013
  • Japan’s NRA demands Tepco must clarify the nuke safety duties of the company president. The Nuclear Regulation Authority had asked the company to formally stipulate safety policies in its Kashiwazaki-Kariwa security rulebook, about three years ago. On Thursday, Tepco said they would include a clause requiring that the president be quickly informed of any risk with the potential to lead to an accident, whether or not the risk could be confirmed. It added that records of the event be maintained for five years. However, the NRA feels the storage period is too short. And that the president’s responsibilities need specificity. https://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/en/news/20200710_08/

July 3, 2020

  • Japan considers 80-year operating licenses beginning to occur in the United States. Japan’s Atomic Industrial Forum conducts an annual international survey of nuke plants on a variety of topics. This year, the JAIF survey asks about America’s decision to license for 80 years of operation. Many decades ago, the Americans issued 40 year licenses, which were based on the demonstrated operating experiences with fossil-fueled generating units. Japan did essentially the same thing when it began its program in 1954. While the American regulatory system has acknowledged the much less corrosive and thereby less deteriorative operating environment of nukes versus fossil fuels and extended operating lifetimes accordingly, Japan refrained from following suit. This is largely due to the Fukushima accident coupled with the national penchant for radiophobia. Japan has provided for 20 year extensions if strict regulatory mandates are met, which has resulted in early retirement of perfectly sound units below 600 MWe. Now, JAIF is starting a national inquiry into the idea of adding on another 20 year extension. https://www.jaif.or.jp/en/existing-npps-to-enter-age-of-80-year-operations-jaif-annual-survey-says/
  • A Tokyo University team gives the Japanese Press a failing grade for its Fukushima accident coverage. Kaori Hayashi led an investigation of 8 Japanese newspapers and 6 broadcasting networks by interviewing their newsroom executives. He was assisted by Nobuyuki Okumura of Musashi University, Koji Igarashi of Otsuma Women’s University, and Atsushi Tanaka of Tokyo University, the combination of which is called the “Disaster and Media Research Group”. They base their findings on the degree to which the Press reported what the government and industry sources shared with them, and did not seek out other sources for verification. It is well understood that the Prime Minister Naoto Kan regime and Tepco spokespersons were quite often less than expeditious in relaying information, and often presented incorrect material that was eventually found to have come from the Tokyo government. The paper also takes the Press to task for not having reporters who were familiar with nuclear technology because most were “negative to the idea of training reporters to specialize in nuclear science, nuclear plant safety measures, or radiation exposure… Only the newspaper Asahi Shimbun and public broadcaster NHK had correspondents specialized in   nuclear energy prior to the 2011disaster.” While all reporters were familiar with earthquakes and tsunamis, most of the news media was ignorant of nuclear technology and could not assess whether or not the information they were getting from provided sources was “adequate and appropriate. (Thus) the media failed to communicate information that people needed, so that they could take decisions and actions to protect themselves, their families, and assets.” In addition, reporters were unprepared to effectively confront neither Tepco nor the Tokyo government in order to disclose correct information in a timely manner.  The research group claims it has made the first comprehensive study of the “resources and preparations of mainstream media” in Japan at the time of the quake, tsunami, and nuclear accident of March, 2011. https://www.academia.edu/41372220/Japans_media_fails_its_watchdog_role_Lessons_learned_and_unlearned_from_the_2011_earthquake_and_the_Fukushima_disaster?email_work_card=minimal-title
  • A small portion of Iitate Village may be reopened before decontamination is completed. The Village wants 186 hectares of an 1100 hectare difficult-to-return zone (no go zone) to have its restrictions lifted in 2022 or 2023 in order to turn the land into parks. If approved, the designated area must be fully decontaminated, while the other 900+ hectares in the no-go zone remains contaminated. Approval by the Nuclear Regulation Authority is being sought by the Village. https://the-japan-news.com/news/article/0006642470
  • 90% on Japan’s outdated and largely inefficient coal-fired electric plants will be shut down by 2030. Tokyo wants to replace the lost capacity with solar and wind electric generation, combined with restarting the nukes now shuttered, but planned to resume operation by then. This means that some 100 of Japan’s 114 coal-fired units will have finite lifetimes. A government panel will be created to amend laws, ordinances, and industrial systems so that the coal plants can be closed without upsetting the Japanese grid. https://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/en/news/20200703_20/ -- https://mainichi.jp/english/articles/20200702/p2g/00m/0na/075000c -- https://the-japan-news.com/news/article/0006649282 
  • Though not specific to Fukushima, it should be noted that an “unexpected radiation spike has been detected over Europe”. The article stresses that while detectible and probably the result of a release from a nuclear power plant, "The levels measured are so low that they pose no danger to people or the environment." This should be compared (contrasted?) with typical radiophobic reporting common to the Japanese Press, which continually suggests that radiation is toxic to humans, no matter how miniscule the exposure might be! https://www.sciencealert.com/unexpected-radiation-spike-detected-over-europe-authorities-say?fbclid=IwAR2rofMGpo7foKh4-gTj51QLaTERh7oUjL8IHzt8ItruhOVQALsvpE5FSQs

June 26, 2020

There were no Fukushima or reasonably-related updates from this past week due to a dearth of such material in both the Japanese and International Press. We will continue our daily investigation, nonetheless!

June 19, 2020

  • Tepco posts a final overview of last week’s covering of the F. Daiichi Unit #2 SFP. The Spent Fuel Pool’s protective barrier is a bag, of sorts, that was spread over the open pool on Monday, June 8th. On June 10th, it was inflated, and the next day an injection of mortar was successfully undertaken. The filled bag has been anchored in place and should keep any falling material from damaging the fuel bundles stored in the pool. The following Tepco posting depicts the different stages of the bag’s installation and inflation.  https://www.tepco.co.jp/en/hd/decommission/information/newsrelease/reference/pdf/2020/reference_20200611_02-e.pdf
  • Tokyo plans on creating an international education and research center in the Hamadori coastal region, Fukushima. The facility will focus on the 2011 earthquake, tsunami, and subsequent nuclear accident. It is hoped this will stimulate the repopulation of communities that experienced Tokyo-mandated evacuation. Since evacuation orders were lifted, less than 20% of the pre-calamity population has returned. The model for the project is the Okinawa Institute of Science and Technology (OIST). The Hamadori facility will be a hub for regional revitalization while mitigating problems common to all of Japan such as population decline, a shortage of farmers, and global warming. Also in the plans are five research “spheres”: robotics, agriculture, energy, nuclear reactor decommissioning, and radiation safety. Reconstruction Minister Kazunori Tanaka said, “ We will develop the hub as a base for nurturing human resources in partnership with many universities in a manner leading to the establishment of a new university and other institutions." The number of researchers and staff should be about 600, while local job creation could be about 5,000. The annual budget is estimated at just under $100 million per year. Partial opening is planned for the spring of 2023. For comparison, the OIST facility has an annual budget of just under $200 million per year. https://the-japan-news.com/news/article/0006604899 -- http://www.fukushimaminponews.com/news.html?id=1010
  • Kansai Electric Co. (Kepco) sues former executives to try and recover local trust. The trust issue is critical because three of the company’s nukes (Takahama #1 & #2 and Mihama #3) need local approval in order to restart. Five former executives accepted about $3.6 million in “gifts” from a lobbyist; the former deputy mayor of the Town of Takahama. The company has investigated the situation and judges that the five executives are the culpable parties and should pay severe financial penalties to show that Kepco means business. The suit is expected to total out at about $20 million. The former executives have been silent because they have all resigned. Since this was not the first instance of giving lavish financial gifts to Kepco executives, company management is being investigated to determine whether or not this practice has been the norm. It should be noted that a civic group has filed a criminal complaint focusing on the executives. https://the-japan-news.com/news/article/0006619286

June 12, 2020

  • There are no impediments to removing used nuclear fuel bundles from the unit #2 SFP. On Wednesday and Thursday, Tepco used its new robotic, remote-controlled submersible to look inside the Spent Fuel Pool for the first time. All of the fuel bundles and their storage racks are intact and undamaged. There is no debris from the March, 2011, nuke accident atop any of the bundles. There appears to be a thin coating of white sediment on the racks which was probably the result of nine years of being immersed is salty water. Seawater was used to cool the pool after fresh water supplies ran out during the accident. Similar sediment was found atop the racks in Units #3 & #4 SFPs when they were inspected before their stored fuel bundles were removed (without incident). Both of those SFPs had considerable loose debris scattered about the tops of their fuel bundles due to their respective hydrogen explosion in 2011. There was no hydrogen explosion with respect to unit #2, so the lack of debris in the SFP should have been no surprise to anyone. Tepco says the inspection went smoothly, so much so that it was completed ahead of schedule. There are 615 fuel bundles in the pool, the overwhelming majority of which are used (spent). The construction of an adjacent building to facilitate the removal of the bundles and load them into transfer canisters has been delayed until the pool itself could be visually inspected. The structure can now be erected. Bundle removal and transfer to the ground-level storage building is scheduled for some time between 2024 and 2026.  https://www.tepco.co.jp/en/hd/decommission/information/newsrelease/reference/pdf/2020/reference_20200611_01-e.pdf -- https://english.kyodonews.net/news/2020/06/17d23c757314-tepco-finds-no-obstacles-to-removing-fuel-rods-from-fukushima-reactor.html  -- https://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2020/06/11/national/fuel-rods-fukushima-no-2/#.XuJpndVKiUl
  • A temporary protective barrier has been placed atop the F. Daiichi Unit #1 Spent Fuel Pool. The device is called a ”sheet”. It is designed to prevent any falling debris or machinery from damaging the used and unused fuel bundles stored in the pool during the removal of the loose material strewn around the deck. The loose material is the result of the March 12, 2011 hydrogen explosion. The sheet measures six meters by eleven meters, and is 50 centimeters thick. It will be filled with concrete to increase its protective ability. The company hopes to begin removal of the debris around the pool by the end of the month. https://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/en/news/20200612_02/
  • The United Nations cautions Japan to not rush to the discharge of treated wastewater from F. Daiichi. Although Tokyo has transmitted repeated communications about the possibility of a ridiculously prolonged release of the diluted liquid to the sea over the past few years, four UN human rights “experts” are acting like nothing of the sort ever happened! The “experts” press release said, "We are deeply concerned by reports that the Government of Japan has accelerated its timeline for the release of radioactive wastewater into the ocean without time or opportunity for meaningful consultations." The statement said the Coronavirus pandemic needs to be contained before Japan can move on the issue. The next round of consultations with the public and neighboring governments was planned for after the Olympic Games, but will instead begin next Monday since the games have been postponed due to the pandemic. The rapporteur statement chided Japan, saying, "COVID-19 must be not be used as a sleight of hand to distract from decisions that will have profound implications for people and the planet for generations to come." https://english.kyodonews.net/news/2020/06/6f6afd14d6a4-un-experts-urge-japan-not-to-rush-discharge-of-radioactive-water.html
  • Japan’s NRA Oks mandated changes to its High-Temperature Test Reactor, located in Oarai Town, Ibaraki Prefecture. The owner, Japan Atomic Energy Agency (JAEA), applied to the Nuclear Regulation Authority for approval under the new regulations in November, 2014. The safety review by NRA has confirmed that the changes satisfy the New Regulatory Requirements, and that no fuel damage would occur in the event of a beyond design basis accident (BDBA). The 30 MW unit has an outlet temperature of up to 950 degreesCelsius, vice the typical power reactor with an outlet temperature of ~300oC. Another difference is that Helium is used as the coolant instead of highly-purified water, and the core is Graphite-based. The HTTR was used to test for hydrogen generation, desalinization, and low level local power generation, before the de-facto nuclear moratorium was invoked across Japan in 2012. It began operation in 1999. With NRA approval, implementation of the design changes can finally begin! https://www.jaif.or.jp/en/nra-grants-permission-to-make-changes-to-reactor-installation-at-httr-under-new-regulatory-standards/ -- https://www.jaea.go.jp/english/news/press/2020/060301/

June 5, 2020

  • Quake/tsunami memorial museum opens in Iwaki. The Iwaki 3.11 Memorial and Revitalization Museum opened May 30th, intended to provide remembrance of the March 2011 catastrophe. Displays include a blackboard, power distribution board, time clock and other items from the old Toyoma Junior High School, as well as stories related by survivors. There are also panels depicting reconstruction, in chronological order. Mayor Toshio Shimizu said, "We'll use it (the museum) as a base to cultivate awareness for disaster prevention in order to develop a community that will be strong enough to overcome disasters." About 470 residents of the city died as a result of the multiple calamities. https://jen.jiji.com/jc/eng?g=eco&k=2020053000295 -- http://www.fukushimaminponews.com/news.html?id=1008
  • Tokyo passes a bill to keep the Reconstruction Agency operating until at least 2030. The position of Reconstruction Minister, heading the agency, will also be continued until 2030. The Agency was created in 2012, with a planned lifetime of eight years. https://jen.jiji.com/jc/eng?g=eco&k=2020060500485
  • The Asahi Shimbun reports local evacuation orders could be lifted before decontamination is complete. This assertion comes from unnamed sources. Evacuation orders were ordered if area radiation levels were higher than 20 millisieverts per year. Decontamination efforts have dropped exposure levels below that in many communities. Localized orders remain in diverse locations within seven communities. For evacuation mandates to be relaxed before planned decontamination is complete in all areas, several requirements must be met. For example, the area would not be residential, and/or the municipal government would have to decide that decontamination is not necessary. When exposures would be less than 20 mSv/yr., two other conditions must be met: local infrastructure must be restored and local governments must agree to relaxing the order. However, the Environment Ministry is considering ending evacuation orders for locations where natural radioactive decay and/or weathering have already dropped exposures below the 20 mSv threshold. Iitate Village requested the lifting of the order because of these conditions in February. The town says the new conditions will exist beginning in 2023. Other yet-unnamed districts are considering the same thing. http://www.asahi.com/ajw/articles/13426557
  • Japan Atomic Power Co. (JAPC) admits making unauthorized alterations to a research paper about a fault line under Tsuruga Unit #2. JAPC told the NRA that the modifications were made to reflect the latest information, with relatively minor impact on the document. For example, the word “unconsolidated” was changed into “consolidated” 55 times, and vice-versa 25 times. The terms refer to whether or not the fault had moved in the past.   The NRA scolded JAPC for rewriting scientific “raw data” without permission and further delayed considering the company’s desire to have the safety screening process for restarting the unit. JAPC appliedfor the safety screening in 2015. http://www.asahi.com/ajw/articles/13432865
  • Nuclear weapon abolitionists want the Rokkasho Reprocessing Plant’s construction to be terminated. They argue that the slow restarting process with Japan’s nukes makes the need for recycled nuclear fuel questionable. The recycled fuel is called MOX; a mixture of unused Uranium and Plutonium generated while fuel bundles are in the core of an operating nuclear power plant. Rokkasho began to be built in 1993, but has been hamstrung by nuclear weapon opponent’s concerns that the plutonium could be used to make bombs, and new safety requirements following the accident at F. Daiichi in March of 2011. Anti-nuke weapons opponent Dr. Suzuki Tatsujiro, Vice Director at Nagasaki University’s Research Center for Nuclear Weapons Abolition says the ever-increasing cost of the plant, along with ever-present security issues, outweigh the benefits. He adds, “Some Western countries have abandoned their reprocessing programs, and I can’t think of convincing reasons for Japan to continue.” https://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/en/news/backstories/1119/

May 29, 2020

  • An American Appeals Court rejected damages for US servicemen exposed to low level radiation due to the Fukushima accident. A lawsuit filed in a California Federal Court demanded that Tepco and General Electric be held responsible for alleged radiation damage that occurred during US Navy assistance with humanitarian relief following the March, 2011 quake and tsunami catastrophe in Japan. GE argued that only Tepco could be held legally responsible, and Tepco argued that the California Court lacked legal jurisdiction to hear the case. Both motions were upheld by the court, but the plaintiffs filed an appeal anyway. Hopefully, this will put an end to the issue! https://www.jurist.org/news/2020/05/federal-appeals-court-upholds-dismissal-of-fukushima-nuclear-disaster-claims/#
  • On Monday, Japan ended its national COVID-19 state of emergency. Tokyo had been sequentially relaxing restrictions for more than two weeks, but PM Shinzo Abe wanted to officially end “stay-at-home” policies after all 47 prefectures had met the national standards. The final prefectures were Hokkaido, Tokyo, Saitama, Chiba and Kanagawa. The PM said on Monday, "Today the government will lift the state of emergency across the nation. We've set some of the most strict (sic) criteria in the world to lift the declaration, and we concluded that prefectures across the country have met that standard." He added, "We exhibited the strength of the Japan model," because Japan was able to contain the epidemic in less than two months. Abe also explained that the nation’s economy will be re-booted in phases, "Our businesses and daily routines will be completely disrupted if we continue with strict curbs on social and economic activity. From now on, it's important to think about how we can conduct business and live our lives while still controlling the risk of infection.” Currently, the government allows concerts, exhibitions and other events to take place drawing up to 100 people indoors and 200 people outdoors. Events drawing as many as 1,000 people can be held after June 19. The decision was met with mixed public reactions. Some feel the re-booting may be premature because a second wave of infection is said to be probable. With respect to F. Daiichi, there are presently no plans to repopulate the workforce, which was downsized more than six weeks ago due to the pandemic. https://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/en/news/20200525_34/ -- https://jen.jiji.com/jc/eng?g=eco&k=2020052500753 -- https://jen.jiji.com/jc/eng?g=eco&k=2020052500946
  • The World Health Organization calls Japan’s effort at containment a success. Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said that Japan peaked at 700 new cases a day more than a month ago, but that has plummeted to less than 40 per day now. WHO Executive Director for Emergency Programs Michael Ryan cautioned that outbreaks might may recur in many countries, including Japan. https://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/en/news/20200526_06/
  • Fukushima farmers start a new project to promote consumption of local produce and livestock products. There has been a significant drop in demand since Tokyo declared the COVID-19 state of emergency six weeks ago. A blog has been developed to promote new menus created by cooking professionals, researchers, and housewives. The recipes will focus on locally produced beef, cucumbers, tomatoes, peaches and pears. Fukushima farm products have seen prices plummet with reduced demand caused by COVID-19 restaurant shutdowns. Consumers have been asked to respect the “three Cs” by avoiding confined, crowded and closed environments. One Fukushima official said, “The trend of eating at home is gaining momentum in the wake of voluntarily refraining from dining out. We would like to send out information widely on the attractiveness of prefectural food ingredients and raise the level of their consumption.” The Blog is only accessible in Japanese. http://www.fukushimaminponews.com/news.html?id=1006
  • A Fukushima hospital is using COVID-19 guidelines created by a medical school in New York. Two New York and Fukushima university hospitals have been involved in exchange activities since the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami. The guidelines were communicated to Fukushima Medical University by Icahn Professor Takahiro Yanagisawa. The professor was also involved with disaster victim support following the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks in New York. https://jen.jiji.com/jc/eng?g=eco&k=2020052400210

May 22, 2020

  • The NRA hopes to enhance the investigation of F. Daiichi’s Unit #3 explosion. This time, using local television footage to suggest the amount of hydrogen involved and the size the detonation. The inquiry was re-opened last year after the Nuclear Regulation Authority made a first-hand investigation. The footage comes from the archives of the Fukushima Central Television Company, home-based in Koriyama. https://the-japan-news.com/news/article/0006560947
  • A majority in Japan feel Donald Trump’s re-election would have a negative impact on the world. A recent NHK World survey with 2,100 respondents resulted in 57% saying a second term for America’s current president would not be good for Japan, while only 10% feel the impact would be positive. 32% said it would have no bearing! Keio University professor Nakayama Toshihiro, an expert on US politics, says the main reason is Trump’s unpredictability because he has pulled America out of numerous international agreements. Nakayama says, “I think most people feel that international cooperation is important so it's difficult for them to accept Trump's vision of America First. There's relative consensus on the idea that America is Japan's most important and effective partner in dealing with this situation (e.g. China).” He adds, “I think the election will be more of a referendum on Trump's handling of the (COVID19) crisis. It's going to be, in some ways, the coronavirus election." https://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/en/news/backstories/1096/
  • Kyushu Electric Co. shutters Sendai Unit #2 and extends the outage to meet NRA mandates. Specifically, Kyushu Electric will not be able to meet the government deadline for finishing the remote operation deemed necessary to mitigate acts of terror and aircraft crashes. NRA regulations, invoked in 2013, give the utilities five years to complete the facilities after construction plans have been approved. The regulator says its predecessor did not set clear deadlines for safety improvements, thus failing to prevent the F. Daiichi accident. The Unit was already scheduled for a periodic refueling and planned maintenance outage, but will extend it because the five year deadline will fall before the outage ends. Unit #1 was already shuttered for the same reason on March 15th. Both units restarted in August 2015 (Unit #1) and October 2015 (Unit #2). Unit #2 is expected to finish the remote facility and subsequently restart in February, 2021. https://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/en/news/20200520_13/ -- https://www.jaif.or.jp/en/sendai-2-starts-periodic-inspection-with-due-date-imminent-to-install-specific-safety-facilities/

May 15, 2020

  • Tepco will use a Submersible Remotely Operated Vehicle (ROV) to prepare for Unit #2 used fuel removal. Removal is scheduled to occur between fiscal 2024 and fiscal 2026. Use of the ROV will allow Tepco staff to understand whether or not there are obstructions in the Spent Fuel Pool (SFP) that should be removed before any used fuel bundles are removed and transferred to the ground-level st0orage facility. Initial training with an actual ROV has occurred between Wednesday and today in a Minamisoma City mock-up pool, similar to what should be the case with the Unit #2 SFP. The actual ROV investigation of the SFP is scheduled for the middle of June. It is noteworthy that none of Japan’s popular Press outlets have seen fit to announce this! https://www.tepco.co.jp/en/hd/decommission/information/newsrelease/reference/pdf/2020/reference_20200512_01-e.pdf -- (more photos) https://photo.tepco.co.jp/en/date/2020-e/202005-e/200513-01e.html
  • The NRA approves a draft report on the safety of Rokkasho used (spent) fuel reprocessing facility in Aomori. Nuclear Regulation Authority chair Totoshi Fuketa said, "We believe the facility's designing ensures high safety margins” and "The faults near the facility were sufficiently examined and the screening was conducted adequately." The facility will produce MOX (mixed oxide) nuclear fuel for power plants. MOX is a mixture of recycled Uranium and reactor-grade Plutonium. Now begins a 30 day period for public comments before a final decision on whether or not the facility will be licensed for operation. Construction began in 1993, but a series of niggling problems kept it from being completed before the 2011 nuke accident at F. Daiichi. The main issue was Japan’s inexperience with recycling used nuclear fuel. Mr. Fuketa explained, "It's like being first at bat, but also the only one at bat. When considering accidents at power plants, for example, we can look at Three Mile Island or of course Fukushima. But with fuel reprocessing plants, there is no precedent." Japan Nuclear Fuel Limited, the facility owner, says they want to begin operation between April and September of 2021. Currently four nukes are using MOX fuel, but many more will be added to the mix once they clear the NRA’s strict safety requirements. https://jen.jiji.com/jc/eng?g=eco&k=2020051300562 -- https://mainichi.jp/english/articles/20200513/p2g/00m/0na/064000c -- http://www.asahi.com/ajw/articles/13373093 
  • American rice is being turned into Sake by a Fukushima Brewery. The rice was grown by Koda Farms, California, and shipped to the Ninki Shuzo Brewery in Nihonmatsu. The Koda Farms owner is Ross Koda, whose grandfather is from Nihonmatsu. The rice comes from two organic California “breeds”: Kakuho Rose and Calhikari. http://www.fukushimaminponews.com/news.html?id=1005

May 8, 2020

  • The Environment Ministry will soon begin a trial project to demonstrate the safety of using decontaminated soil for growing crops. The problem with doing this sooner has been abject fear of radiation (radiophobia), even with substances where radioactive contamination has been removed. The fear is that the cleansed soil has been forever “tainted”. Over the past month, public comments on the ministry’s proposal have been collected, with most strongly objecting to cultivation with the decontaminated soil. Regardless, the ministry is moving forward with its plans. Environment Minister Shinjiro Koizumi explained, “I strongly recognize the fact that there are people who are opposing (the reuse of decontaminated soil). We will provide detailed explanations to seek understanding for our willingness to take a step forward even if it’s just a small one.” Repeated tests have shown that “the soil was safe enough (to be used for growing crops).” The soils have previously been used for flowers and crops used for biomass power generation. But, using the cleansed soil for consumption crops and construction projects has become a major point of public angst. A successful test in Nagadoro District of Iitate uses decontaminated soil 50 centimeters thick to cover a contaminated embankment. There have been no problems other than unfounded local fears. http://www.asahi.com/ajw/articles/13355472
  • F. Daiichi units #1&2 exhaust stack is capped. The top half of the stack was removed because its integrity had deteriorated since the quake/tsunami of March 11, 2011. A “lid” was placed atop the 10 meter high chimney on May 1st, marking the completion of the task performed by remote technology. A step by step progression has been compiled by Tepco, including new pictures of the stack’s capping. https://www.tepco.co.jp/en/hd/decommission/information/newsrelease/reference/pdf/2020/reference_20200501_01-e.pdf

May 1, 2020

  • The tedious process of removing the top half of the F. Daiichi units #1&2 exhaust stack is completed. The upper 61 meters of the 120 meter chimney has been cut off and lowered to ground level for disposal. The lower remaining section is 59 meters high. The job was finished by a local firm… Able Company. Able’s Isamu Okai said, “I think there are still many things left that local companies can do. We want to continue our involvement in the decommissioning of the plant by making use of the expertise we gained from the dismantling work.” The Chimney was internally contaminated due to radioactive vapors being released during the March, 2011 accident. The cutting of the metal stack was performed by remote-control to keep worker exposure to a minimum. The first month of work was troubled by the blades of the cutting device not working properly. However, once the problem was resolved, the remote-operated tool has worked smoothly since January. A photo montage and video of the final work is supplied by Tepco.  http://www.asahi.com/ajw/articles/13339580 -- https://photo.tepco.co.jp/en/date/2020-e/202004-e/200429-01e.html
  • The Nuclear Regulation Authority has completed its safety assessment of damaged F. Daiichi buildings. Ten of the roughly 580 buildings surveyed are considered to be in bad condition and a safety risk for workers. The damage was caused by the earthquake and tsunami of 3/11/11, and the three subsequent hydrogen explosions. The NRA cautions that these most-damaged structures could collapse with a severe-enough quake. Tepco says it will announce its countermeasures by the end of May. https://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/en/news/20200427_24/

April 24, 2020

  • Tepco’s newest plans for decommissioning F. Daiichi include local business involvement. The company says it will make public how much construction material needs to be ordered and the technology needed for the work, which should make it easier for local businesses to get involved. Many firms have complained they aren’t sure if they can get orders for the decommissioning project because the specifics have not been widely promulgated. It is expected that the company will spend between 20 and 30 billion yen per year on decommissioning. In the towns of Naraha and Tomioka, a local construction association and city development companies are being created to facilitate local participation in decommissioning F.Daini. Naraha Mayor Yukiei Matsumoto says, “It’s essential for Tepco and local companies where the nuclear power plants are located to cooperate with each other in making sure the plants will be decommissioned as planned.” http://www.fukushimaminponews.com/news.html?id=1003
  • Reopening of Namie’s Ukedo fish market stimulates the local economy. On April 8th, about 2 tons of seafood were caught by local fishermen and auctioned by 9am that day. While the prices were below pre-tsunami levels, the business was welcomed after nine years of dormany. Most of the catch was bought by Tokyo restaurant bidders, but some was sold to the Aeon Namie supermarket. Aeon has seven Fukushima outlet stores. Port and market facilities were completely washed away by the March, 2011 tsunami. Tokyo’s evacuation order was rescinded in March, 2017, and fishing operations were under limited test conditions, until recently. Local wholesaler president Koichi Shiba spoke at the market’s reopening, saying, "Today, we took a real first step forward." Another board member said he was moved to tears. http://www.fukushimaminponews.com/news.html?id=1001
  • A government panel says a deep-sea mega-quake could spawn a tsunami that might overwhelm F. Daiichi. The water surge could be as high as about 14 meters at Futaba town... co-host to the nuke station. An 11 meter high anti tsunami wall, currently under construction, might not be adequate protection. To form the devastating in-surge, a quake of more than 9 on the Richter scale would have to strike an undersea trough, located 50 kilometers off-shore. A Tepco spokesman said, "TEPCO will examine the latest projections and analyze the impact on the ongoing preventive measures against tsunamis that the company has been taking." The fear is an uncontrolled release of Tritium-laced wastewater stored in tanks at F. Daiichi. https://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/en/news/20200422_03/ -- https://japantoday.com/category/national/japan's-tepco-weighs-options-over-projected-tsunami-threat-to-fukushima-plant

April 17, 2020

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  • The IAEA has issued a report about the handling of purified F. Daiichi waste water. It is actually a report on a submittal to the International Atomic Energy Agency by Japan’s Agency for Natural Resources (ANRE) which is part of the Economy Ministry. State Minister for Foreign Affairs Kenji Wakamiya handed the committee report to IAEA Director General Rafael Mariano Grossi in February.  Contaminated water Fukushima Daiichi is being purified using the Advanced Liquid Processing System (ALPS). The purified water contains tritium, which ALPS cannot remove. Although tritium is biologically innocuous, since it is an emitter of super-weak Beta radiation causes anxiety in much of Japan’s population, is a deterrent to the fishing industry, and a source of radiophobic concerns across eastern Asia! The real problem is the proliferation of unfounded fears! The IAEA finds that controlled release to the sea is feasible, from a safety standpoint! Since April 6th, ANRE has been hearing the opinions of concerned parties. Governor Masao Uchibori was at the hearing, along with municipal heads and representatives of various Fukushima industries. The governor addressed reconstruction of the fishing industry, devastated by then March 2011 tsunami and subsequent false rumors of product contamination. He also talked about gaps between National prices and those with respect to Fukushima products, caused by radiophobic anxieties, “Tenacious activities are essential over a long period to eliminate unfounded fears and rumors,” and that information on present conditions in Fukushima and accurate understanding of radiation “are not being properly disseminated.” Many negative concerns, all grounded in radiophobia, were also voiced by Fukushima officials. https://www.jaif.or.jp/en/iaea-issues-report-reviewing-treated-contaminated-water-at-fukushima-daiichi-npps-praising-earlier-anre-report/ -- https://www.jaif.or.jp/en/anre-begins-hearing-from-concerned-parties-on-handling-of-treated-contaminated-water-at-fukushima-daiichi-npps/
  • The new Integrated Regulatory Review Service report has also been posted. The report is a joint effort by the IAEA and Japan’s Nuclear Regulation Authority. The IRRS review addressed all facilities and activities regulated by the NRA. The IRRS team commended the positive progress that Japan has made since the first IRRS visit in 2016. Japan’s commitment to nuclear safety was stressed, including an improved inspection program, staff qualification and training, regulatory review, emergency response preparedness, and decommissioning requirements. The NRA is encouraged to expand inspection programs and ensure preparedness for emergency situations. IRRS acknowledged that full cooperation from the NRA was a constant during the review. https://www.nsr.go.jp/data/000305662.pdf
  • A new robotics R&D base opens in Minamisoma. The Fukushima Robot Test Field is a government-funded facility, in conjunction with one in Namie. Research and development will focus on robots and drones needed for disaster management. Specifics will include unmanned aircraft, undersea/sea-surface robots, infrastructure inspection/disaster response, and fundamental development for on-shore and offshore scenarios. http://www.fukushimaminponews.com/news.html?id=1000
  • Nuke restarts contributed to Japan’s CO2 emissions dropping 4.6% in 2018. Much of the decrease was due to the country’s total energy consumption going down by 2.7%. Energy caused CO2 reductions have occurred for five straight years, but 2018 had the biggest drop. https://www.jaif.or.jp/en/japans-co2-emissions-fall-4-6-percent-in-fy18-thanks-in-part-to-restart-of-nuclear-power-plants/
  • The Coronavirus causes the Fukushima decommissioning work force to be downsized. The staff reduction was announced Thursday, soon after Prime Minister Abe declared a nation-wide state of emergency. About 3,000 Tepco employees and partner company staff work at F. Daiichi. The number of employees affected is not yet known. A prolonged state of emergency will delay the decommissioning process. A sufficient staff will be maintained at F. Daiichi to ensure safe management. https://the-japan-news.com/news/article/0006494729

April 10, 2020

  • The Namie fish market reopens after being closed for nine years. The Ukedo regional wholesale market is the first marketplace to reopen in a former “no-go zone”.  Ichiro Takano, director of the local fishermen's cooperative, said, "Nine years were long, and I'm so happy I'm in tears. “ Fisherman Keiji Sato added, "Sales are lower than usual due to the effects of the novel coronavirus, but I've been waiting for the market to reopen." https://jen.jiji.com/jc/eng?g=eco&k=2020040800552
  • The Fukushima City mayor proposes a novel way to solve the F. Daiichi wastewater problem. He wants to fill large tankers with the purified liquid and release it far away from Fukushima! At a recent press conference in the City, Mayor Hiroshi Kohata said,  "I want the water to be released into the ocean at a location that does not include 'Fukushima' in its name.  If it's released near the prefecture, it will certainly cause it to suffer harmful rumors. The water should be carried in a giant tanker and dumped in a place where it will cause as small an effect as possible.” He added that if this would not be allowed by Tokyo, then the tanker should sail to Tokyo Bay and dump it there! Why?  "It makes sense to dispose of it at a place that has benefited from the power generation at the Fukushima No. 1 plant," he said. Tokyo got most of the F. Daiichi-produced power before the quake/tsunami-induced accident. https://jen.jiji.com/jc/eng?g=eco&k=2020040900821
  • Tepco runs a waste-water release simulation. The assumption was that the release would follow the ridiculously-stringent restrictions recently posted by Tokyo. It would produce a plume with a bit more than one Becquerel per liter of Tritium. The plume would be 2 kilometers wide and stretch 30 kilometers north of F. Daiichi. The Wastewater itself would be diluted to well-below Japan’s drinking water limit before release. At maximum-allowable out-flow, the release would be no more than 100 trillion Becquerels per year. Regardless of the obvious safety of such a release, it drew opposition from local fishermen and paranoiac residents. This past Monday, the first official public meeting to hear local concerns was held in Fukushima City. The main complaint was with the damage caused by rumors. Others said that if the release is so safe, why doesn’t the government make this public knowledge? Still more alleged that Tokyo is jumping to a conclusion when public knowledge is “not very deep!” The minority that favored a release added the caveat that compensation for groundless rumors be made available. https://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/en/news/20200406_03/ -- https://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/en/news/20200406_39/
  • The disposal of large bags of contaminated Fukushima soil is covered by NHK World. The video piece is about as objective as an Japanese news report might be, considering the nation-wide radiophobia that plagues Japan. We suggest you take the two minutes to view it. https://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/en/news/ataglance/872/
  • Though not specifically about Fukushima, it should be noted that a considerable amount of Press has been posted about a wildfire inside the nearly 1000 km2 exclusion zone surrounding Chernobyl. The reportage focused on radiation levels inside the exclusion zone, inside the fire itself. Levels were no more than 16 times “normal”. One official, Yegor Firsov, said, "There is bad news— in the center of the fire, radiation is above normal." But, outside the exclusion zone, radiation levels were “normal”. Normal for the exclusion zone is said to be 0.14 millisieverts per hour, and lower beyond the zone. The radiation “spike” in the center of the fire was at 2.3 mSv/hr. https://www.newsweek.com/chernobyl-exclusion-zone-area-spike-radiation-16-times-higher-normal-forest-fire-1496287 -- https://www.upi.com/Top_News/World-News/2020/04/06/Wildfire-near-Chernobyl-releases-spike-in-radiation/6671586174766/
  • A Fukushima mother’s radiation monitoring laboratory continues as a mostly radiophobic clearing house. It was established in Iwaki November, 2011, 50 kilometers south of F. Daiichi. The initial10 mothers have shared the duty of checking on radiation in foodstuffs and soil because they feared that effects of low level radiation are especially hazardous to their children. Now, the staff has expanded to 18. They have recording data for 8½ years. Most of the women consider their efforts a matter of life and death. One mother, Kaori Suzuki, says, "If the risks of nuclear power had been thoroughly verified by the previous generations, I think the disaster would not have happened. But since it did occur, what we must do now is record our measurements and changes in the environment so we won't make the same mistake. Passing down something that will be useful when major decisions must be made is the only thing we can do." They scan such things as dust in vacuum cleaners, vegetables from home gardens, seasonal mountain mushrooms, and soil from parks. They post results monthly on their website. On the other hand, a few like Noriko Tanaka, have a less-fearful, more objective rationale. Tanaka says, “You don't need to fear everything, randomly. Rather than worrying about everything and being stressed out by that, measuring and seeing the data make you relieved to find that some things are safer than you presumed.” Regardless, she lets the data decide where to go and what to eat. https://mainichi.jp/english/articles/20200410/p2g/00m/0fe/089000c

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