Fukushima Accident Updates


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

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September 1, 2014

Former F. Daiichi plant manager Yoshida’s testimony continues to be debated in the Japanese Press. In many cases, the testimony issue is posted as a lead story.

  • The traditionally-antinuclear Mainichi Shimbun has taken issue with the Asahi Shimbun’s assertion that some 700 F. Daiichi workers fled the station on March 15, 2011, in defiance of Yoshida’s orders. The Mainichi says a former worker at the plant is grateful that the testimony is being released. Further, he and other workers have been insulted by the Asahi Shimbun’s false claims. They went to F. Daini, 10 kilometers to the south, because they felt they were following orders, "At the time there was a shared awareness among workers that we would be evacuating to the Fukushima No. 2 plant." After a few hours of much-needed rest, many were told to return to F. Daiichi to assist in fighting a fire which had broken out in the damaged unit #4 reactor building. Because Mr. Yoshida was not leaving the accident site, all asked-for staff returned to F. Daiichi. http://mainichi.jp/english/english/newsselect/news/20140901p2a00m0na025000c.html

  • The Yomiuri Shimbun (Japan News) continues to counter the incorrect Asahi report. This time, three “experts” are presented with their opinions. Masao Mukaidono is a member of a TEPCO-commissioned panel of external experts tasked with investigating the 2011 nuclear disaster. He says, “Our investigation revealed that a number of TEPCO workers volunteered to remain at the scene of the accident and risked their lives in the work… The moment I read an Asahi Shimbun report that [hundreds of workers] ‘had withdrawn [from the site] in violation of an order,’ I intuitively felt the article was incorrect and untrue.” Yoshio Omori is president of Nihon Bunka University and an expert in national crisis management. He said, “When I read the file, I could not help but suspect that the Asahi report was based on a stretched interpretation of some remarks taken from his interview transcript… The greatest problem is that the Asahi report left other nations to believe that workers at the No. 1 plant fled in direct violation of Mr. Yoshida’s orders… The Asahi report claiming they violated orders has disgraced the spirit and honor of the Japanese.” Hiroshi Miyano, chairman of the Atomic Energy Society of Japan’s Standards Committee, rejects the Asahi claim and says a more effective support system was needed for the staff at F. Daiichi. He states, “There was no practical, effective rescue [assistance] from [TEPCO’s] head office or anywhere else. I still have a huge amount of resentment and bitterness.” http://the-japan-news.com/news/article/0001537579

  • The Japan News also says the Asahi report has caused “serious misunderstandings among foreign media.” Examples of incorrect reporting include, “The New York Times dated May 20 read “Panicked Workers Fled Fukushima Plant in 2011 Despite Orders, Record Shows.” The Times of London carried an article on May 22 that said: “Far from being heroic exemplars of the samurai spirit, 90 percent of the workers at Fukushima [plant] fled, disobeying orders to remain in the stricken plant.” A headline in The Australian on May 22 said: “Fukushima ‘heroes’ actually fled in fear.” To the contrary, a former worker who had continued to work at the No. 1 plant was upset about the Asahi Shimbun’s report, “Retreat was never an option. It was a grave mistake to say so. I even sense some malicious intent. We had a strong bond of trust with Yoshida.” There has been no mention of this in the foreign news reports. http://the-japan-news.com/news/article/0001535680

Meanwhile…

  • The first instance of resentment toward Fukushima evacuees has surfaced. Specifically, residents are offended at the huge sums of money given to Fukushima evacuees who have relocated to Iwaki City. Reuters says (also posted in Japan Today) long-time residents of Iwaki have “come to resent evacuees and the government compensation that has made the newcomers relatively rich in a blue-collar town built on coal mining and access to a nearby port.” Ryosuke Takaki, a professor of sociology at Iwaki Meisei University, has studied the state of affairs and says, "The situation around Iwaki is unsettled and unruly.  There are many people who have evacuated to Iwaki, and there are all kinds of incidents caused by friction." Many Iwaki residents say they have grown weary of hosting evacuees in temporary housing, even though the money has caused an unprecedented economic boom. Evacuees and F. Daiichi workers living in Iwaki fear for their safety. Hideo Hasegawa, who heads a group looking after evacuees at a temporary housing complex in Iwaki, says, "When they [evacuees] move in to an apartment, they don't talk to neighbors and hide. You hear this hate talk everywhere you go: restaurants, shops, bars. It's relentless." At the core of the problem is the massive amount of money being paid-out to the evacuees. No one disputes the idea of compensation itself, but the amounts (regularly reported in these updates) offend Iwaki’s people because evacuees receive far more compensation from the government than Iwaki residents make at work. Further, evacuees do not have to pay rent on their government-provided temporary homes. Numerous Iwaki residents say the payouts to the newcomers have been frittered away on luxury cars and villas, locally dubbed “disaster relief mansions." Iwaki chiropractor Hiroshi Watahiki says, "The food the evacuees eat and the clothes they wear are different. They can afford it from their compensation funds. They have time and money to go gambling since they're not working." In the City’s community of Takaki, a poll shows that 2/3 "feel envious of their [evacuee’s] compensation." http://www.reuters.com/article/2014/08/31/us-japan-nuclear-resentment-idUSKBN0GV02S20140831 -- http://www.japantoday.com/category/national/view/fukushima-fallout-resentment-of-evacuees-grows-in-nearby-city

  • It seems the Tepco groundwater bypass operation is having a slightly positive effect, despite Press reports to the contrary. Currently, there is 70,500 tons of contaminated water in the basements of units #1 through #4. http://www.tepco.co.jp/en/press/corp-com/release/betu14_e/images/140827e0101.pdf  On June 25th, the volume was 73,200 tons. http://www.tepco.co.jp/en/press/corp-com/release/betu14_e/images/140625e0101.pdf Prior to June, the volume of basement waters had varied between 73,000 and 74,000 tons for more than a year. Despite this slight improvement, NHK World says the operation is not having a “significant” impact. Tepco has announced they have seen “little change” because external wells have only dropped 20-30 centimeters since the beginning of the process in May. Tepco adds that before a significant change will be measured, the wells would have to experience a drop in water level of about a meter. The water level decrease in the basements is not mentioned. NHK World; TEPCO bypass operation failing to have an impact; 8/28/14

  • Four subcontractor workers plan to sue Tepco for higher wages. They are plumbers who work on radioactive waste water storage tanks. The workers argue that the money they are paid is too low considering the risk of their radiation exposure. The workers want about $96,000 in compensation. One plaintiff says he worries about his health because he has been occasionally exposed to more than four millisieverts per month. The suit’s lawyer says he wants to bring the radiological working conditions at F. Daiichi into the open. NHK World; Fukushima Daiichi workers to sue TEPCO; 9/1/14

  • A fuel handling machine destroyed by the unit #3 hydrogen explosion was dropped into the spent fuel pool. The main console of the machine was about to be grasped by a large crane when the device slipped and fell into the SFP. The console weighs about 400 kilograms. Pool water level was not affected and there was no change in the level of airborne radioactivity around the pool. The airborne activity was constant at 0.00001 Becquerels/cm3. Underwater cameras showed no visible damage to the spent fuel racks in the pool due to the fallen console. http://www.tepco.co.jp/en/nu/fukushima-np/handouts/2014/images/handouts_140829_07-e.pdf

August 28, 2014

  • Tokyo offers Futaba and Okuma $820 million (USD) for land purchases and/or leases. The government hopes to locate local rural radioactive waste storage facilities in the two towns that co-host the F. Daiichi nuke station. Environment Minister Nobuteru Ishihara met with the 2 town’s assemblies on Tuesday to explain for the plan. He told them that the intermediate storage facilities are necessary for the decontamination and reconstruction process. He added that the money will be part of the previously-promised #3 billion to be granted by Tokyo. Leaflets on the plan will be sent to all residents and a hotline set up to answer questions. NHK World; $820 million grant plan for 2 Fukushima towns; 8/26/14 On Tuesday, the town assemblies agreed to planning for interim storage facilities. No objections were voiced during the plenary sessions with either community. In addition to the direct subsidies (above), another $150 million will be extended for revival of livelihood. But, some town officials remain cautious. Yukio Chiba, speaker of the Okuma Municipal Assembly, said, "This (today's meeting) is not a place to decide whether we accept (the temporary storage facilities) or not. There are still matters that need to be discussed." http://mainichi.jp/english/english/newsselect/news/20140827p2a00m0na015000c.html

  • More information on the latest Fukushima thyroid cancer discoveries. Earlier this week, Fukushima Prefecture said 57 minors have been diagnosed with thyroid cancer, one non-cancerous tumor diagnosis, and another 46 are showing symptoms. Of the 57 confirmed to have cancerous tumors, all were surgically removed and patients are recovering “smoothly”. The American Thyroid Association says thyroid cancer is “usually very treatable and is often cured with surgery.” Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said, “There is a possibility that early-stage cancer and small tumors were discovered because experienced doctors conducted thorough checkups using the newest machinery.”  Of the 367,707 minors hoped to be examined, 296,000 have been scanned. Researchers say there is no statistical difference between the many communities in the Prefecture, regardless of distance from F. Daiichi. http://blogs.wsj.com/japanrealtime/2014/08/25/fukushima-watch-early-data-on-thyroid-cancer-released/

  • World Nuclear News asks “What was deadly at Fukushima?” Malcolm Grimston of Imperial College in England says, “What created the human misery at Fukushima was the response - not the immediate precautionary evacuation but what followed and ironically what preceded… Clearly there is something in the way radiation from civil nuclear activities is being communicated which has created a set of fears which are not there in other contexts.” In a blunt summation of the situation, Grissom says that we are dealing with massive over-reaction, and he blames the government of Japan. There seem to be three possible explanations. 1. The authorities have gone stark staring mad (or are deeply uncaring) by blighting so many lives and incurring such vast costs for no defensible reason. 2. The authorities are simply lying about the levels of contamination in the exclusion zone. [or] 3. Man-made radiation is significantly more dangerous than the 'same amount' of natural radiation, so comparisons are meaningless.” Grimston concludes that the first possibility is true, and the other two are false. He closes with a bold assertion, “It can be argued, then, that an overzealous infatuation with reducing radiation dose, far from minimizing human harm, is at the heart of the whole problem. Maybe the key question is - how do we protect people not from radiation but from the effects of radiological protection?”  http://www.world-nuclear-news.org/E-What-was-deadly-at-Fukushima-2608141.html

  • Another ALPS water decontamination system will be tested. The existing system has dropped the activity of all but five isotopes below limits. The new system should remove four of them, but Tritium will remain. The system eliminates the vast majority of the four niggling isotopes, down to a level that is just a bit greater than Tepco’s extremely low standards. The Nuclear Regulation Authority approved the test run on Wednesday. A third ALPS system is due for completion in December. The three are expected to purify up to 2,000 tons of waste water per day. NHK World; TEPCO to test-run second water treatment system; 8/27/14

  • Whitebait fishing has resumed off Fukushima Prefecture. The immature fish, including some five species, are a food fish that is boiled and dried for shipment. On Tuesday, about three tons were gathered off Iwaki City and tested for radioactivity. None was detected. Whitebait was a mainstay of the Fukushima fishing industry before the nuke accident. The catch will be limited to once a week, unless demand is sufficient to warrant a greater frequency. NHK World; Whitebait fishing resumes off Fukushima Pref.; 8/26/14

  • Two Japanese newspapers hotly debate the released testimony of Masao Yoshida. Yoshida was the F. Daiichi Plant Manager during the nuke accident in March, 2011. The Sankei Shimbun says that the Asahi Shimbun misinformed their readers as to whether or not 90% of the plant’s staff fled on March 15, 2011. One headline in the Sankei suggested the Asahi “twisted the facts”, and it is an “injury to the newspaper’s honor”. The original Asahi report said, “Yoshida’s testimony revealed clearly that the plant management temporarily left their posts. Is it really proper to entrust disaster response to power companies?” On the other hand, the Sankei says the testimony shows that confusion, not intent to violate Mr. Yoshida’s command, caused the employees to move to the other Fukushima nuclear plant. They quote Yoshida, “Actually, I never told them to go to 2F [Fukushima Daini]. This is the typical stuff with relayed messages. We were discussing, ‘Should we head for 2F if we are ever going?’ I said, ‘Take shelter, get automobiles.’ And somebody who relayed my message told the drivers to go to the Fukushima Daini plant.” He later ordered the management staff at F. Daini to return, and they did. The Sankei points out that the incorrect Asahi interpretation is consistent with the newspaper’s unabashed antinuclear posture, and its desire to conform to Ex-PM Naoto Kan’s antinuclear perspective. http://blogs.wsj.com/japanrealtime/2014/08/28/fukushima-watch-plant-managers-testimony-stirs-debate/

  • Over 10,000 Tohoku children remain estranged from their former schools. 11,452 students from three prefectures – Iwate, Fukushima, and Miyagi – continue to attend schools in other prefectures. This is 1.351 less than last year. The numbers were released by the Education Ministry on Tuesday. A ministry official said,“(The figures show that some students) returned to their homes, but the impact (of the disasters) still remains.” Fukushima Prefecture, experiencing the Tokyo-mandated restrictions to tens-of-thousands of residents, had the largest number at 9,767, a drop of 1,219 students from the previous year. In Miyagi Prefecture, the number decreased by 74 to 1,400 students. The figure in Iwate Prefecture dropped by 58 to 285 students. The prefectures that have taken in the most students are Yamagata, Niigata, and Saitama. http://ajw.asahi.com/article/0311disaster/quake_tsunami/AJ201408270036

  • The Cabinet Office says Fukushima suicides are higher than in other disaster-hit prefectures. There have been 56 Fukushima suicides since 3/11/11, compared to 30 in Iwate and 37 in Miyagi Prefectures. The office links the higher number of suicides to the Fukushima accident because of the extended time evacuees have had to stay away from their homes. The Cabinet Office says the relationship is “most likely”. http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2014/08/26/national/social-issues/fukushimas-high-number-disaster-related-suicides-likely-due-nuclear-crisis-cabinet-office/#.U_yPHqN0wdU

August 25, 2014

  • Tepco gets more evacuee compensation money from Tokyo. The Nuclear Damage Compensation and Decommissioning Facilitation Corporation (NDF) has sent another $175 million (USD) to the company, making the total extended to-date to nearly $2.7 billion. This will allow Tepco to meet all mandated pay-outs through the end of September. http://www.tepco.co.jp/en/press/corp-com/release/2014/1240945_5892.html  As of today, the amount paid out to evacuees for personal and property compensation stands at $42.08 billion. http://www.tepco.co.jp/en/comp/images/jisseki-e.pdf

  • Meetings concerning rural radioactive waste storage in Futaba and Okuma are on-going. On August 8th, Tokyo said they would pay some $3 billion to the towns for local decontamination, repopulation preparations, and building of temporary waste storage facilities. The critical caveat was that the communities agree to host the waste storage units. The government has explained the plan to the prefectural assembly. On Tuesday, the plans will be shared with both town assemblies. On Wednesday, representatives of Futaba and Okuma residents will be briefed at two locations in Fukushima Prefecture. Senior officials of the Environment Ministry will explain how the subsidy will be used to restore living conditions for repopulation, including child care and restoration of jobs. The ministry hopes the decision of the two towns will be made before Prime Minister Abe’s planned cabinet reformation of September 3rd. NHK World; Issue of temporary storage entering final stage; 8/22/14

  • The number of Fukushima children with confirmed or suspected thyroid cancer stands at 104. 57 cases are listed as “definitive”, one tumor is considered benign, and 46 are “suspected” because of lumps measuring between 5 and 41 millimeters across. These results come from the 300,000 Fukushima Prefecture children being monitored. Prefecture officials say there is no link between the tumescent growths and the 2011 nuke accident. The Asahi Shimbun maintains that “experts” are divided over whether the cases should be linked to the 2011 nuclear accident. Yoshio Hosoi of Tohoku University says, “Many people are being diagnosed with cancer at this time, thanks to the high-precision tests. We must continue closely examining the people’s health in order to determine the impact of radiation exposure on causing thyroid tumors.” The Asahi takes this to mean that the discovered cancers could be due to the accident’s atmospheric releases. However, Hokuto Hoshi, who chairs a panel that discusses matters related to the issue, said, “In order to scientifically compare the results of the development rates of each region, we must take into account age and other characteristics (of the 104 people).” http://ajw.asahi.com/article/0311disaster/fukushima/AJ201408240011

  • Fukushima fishermen are briefed on groundwater drainage. Tepco met prefectural fisheries’ representatives to announce the latest situation with groundwater pumped out of service sumps, and run through the hi-tech water treatment system (ALPS). The company says tests of the water run through ALPS shows results actually lower in radioactivity then the groundwater taken from the “bypass” system and released to the sea. Union members opposed releasing the treated water, regardless of its level of purity because it could spawn negative rumors that might hurt business. They want Tepco to provide more details about the new groundwater system. Union official Tetsu Nozaki says they want confirmation that releasing the treated water will not contaminate the sea before supporting Tepco’s plans. NHK World; Fukushima fishermen briefed on new drainage system; 8/25/14

  • South Korea wants to link their electrical grid with Japan. Korea Electric Power Corporation (Kepco) wants to run a 200 kilometer undersea cable from Busan the Fukuoka, and a 105km feed from Jindo to Tsushima Island. Korea has an electricity-supply surplus which could be used to alleviate the Japanese shortage caused by the nuclear moratorium. A Kepco official said, “Softbank Chairman Masayoshi Son has shown interest in participating in the submarine power cable project. Recently Kepco management and Chairman Son held a meeting where we reached an agreement on this issue.” Son wants to eventually interconnect Korea, China, Japan, Russia and Mongolia’s power grids. The Kepco official explained, “The submarine cable connecting Korea and Japan will be the first step for Son’s Asia Super Grid vision. Depending on the geopolitical situation, this project could also draw in the participation of North Korea.” http://koreajoongangdaily.joins.com/news/article/Article.aspx?aid=2993919

  • Japan’s nuke watchdog (NRA) wants to cut the budget for a controversial computer forecasting system (SPEEDI). Due to the 3/11/11 blackout, SPEEDI could not receive any radioactive release data from Fukushima Prefecture, causing then-PM Naoto Kan to ignore the system’s projections based on real-time meteorology. Due to criticism following the nuke accident, the NRA downgraded SPEEDI to “reference material” in 2013. About $10 billion was budgeted for SPEEDI for 2014, but it will be reduced to $4.8 billion in 2015. The diverted money will be used for in-place radiation monitors around nuclear plants that can operate during blackouts. It is felt that actual readings can facilitate quicker, more appropriate decisions should another nuke accident occur. It is hoped that monitors will be posted at intervals of five kilometers, depending on the local topography. Some local governments say they want to continue using SPEEDI because it gives them ample insight into public protective actions. http://ajw.asahi.com/article/0311disaster/fukushima/AJ201408250028

  • Ex-PM Naoto Kan is taking his antinuclear crusade to Australia. He calls for Australia to “wean” the world off uranium instead of increasing exports. Kan told the Australian Broadcasting Corp., "I hope that Australia can be exporting not uranium ... but electricity created through renewable sources. All countries including Australia should be making efforts to do what can be done to reduce such dependence on nuclear power." Kan arrived in Darwin on Friday and planned on visiting the mine from which F. Daiichi’s fuel was extracted. After that, he will confer with the Australian Greens Party to speak with the Northern Territory’s parliament, meet with the aboriginal Mirrar people who oppose the mining, and visit a local wave-activated power station. Australia is believed to hold 1/3 of the world’s Uranium deposits and is the third-largest producer of uranium for nuclear power plants. http://mainichi.jp/english/english/newsselect/news/20140823p2g00m0dm091000c.html

August 21, 2014

  • Tepco has begun testing their new groundwater plan. On Wednesday, about 500 tons of groundwater was pumped out of sub-drains near the basement walls of units #1 through #4. 290 tons were run through the isotopic removal system (ALPS). The results of effluent analysis have not been completed, as yet. Tepco says ALPS should reduce any groundwater contamination by at least a factor of ten thousand. The purified water is being stored awaiting test results. Once the treated water meets Tepco’s self-imposed limits for discharge, local governments and fisheries must agree to the release before it can happen. NHK World; TEPCO starts test-treating groundwater; 8/20/2014

  • Overseas rice exports from Fukushima will begin. National Federation of Agricultural Cooperative Associations (Zen-Noh) said it will send 300 kilograms of the grain to Singapore. A Zen-Noh official said, “Despite our efforts at explaining the safety of Fukushima-made farm products, up until now we have not been able to find retailers who wished to trade rice grown in Fukushima. From now on, we aim to export more Fukushima rice, including to Singapore.” Foreign sales of Fukushima rice were stopped in 2012 due to fears of contamination. The rice to be shipped was grown 60-80 kilometers from F. Daiichi and has passed all radiation monitoring. Local officials say rigorous testing proves there is no risk from consuming rice grown in Fukushima prefecture. One Fukushima official said, “Our rice is proved to have passed the government safety standard of 100 Becquerels per kilogram (a measure of radioactive contamination), and is mostly below detection levels.” In 2012, export of peaches and apples resumed to Thailand and last year exports of the fruit to Malaysia restarted. http://www.japantoday.com/category/national/view/japan-to-resume-fukushima-rice-exports?utm_campaign=jt_newsletter&utm_medium=email&utm_source=jt_newsletter_2014-08-20_AM

  • Public housing projects for evacuees are behind schedule. About 40% of the 3,700 planned units intended for those who do not wish to go home are experiencing up to 9 months of delays. The project’s costs are coming from Reconstruction Agency subsidies. The Prefecture says the delays are due to several reasons, including inability to satisfy landowners, forested area that has yet to be cleared, and transformation of rice paddies being behind schedule. The 3,700 units were supposed to be finished by March, 2016. Another 1,200 units were planned for the following year, but that deadline can no longer be met. The 4,900 public housing units are to be built in 15 municipalities across the prefecture. A lottery was held in July to select the residents of the 528 units to be ready by March, 2015. http://www.fukushimaminponews.com/news.html?id=389

  • Japan's Nuclear Damage Compensation and Decommissioning Facilitation Corp. has begun operation. In order to upgrade the work at F. Daiichi, Tokyo will provide about 50 decommissioning experts to Tepco and develop needed technologies through the corporation. Shunsuke Kondo, former chairman of the Japan Atomic Energy Commission, was chosen as chair of the committee to study decommissioning-related technologies. http://jen.jiji.com/jc/eng?g=eco&k=2014082100415

  • Most local leaders from around F. Daiichi want all of former plant manager Yoshida’s testimony released. Yoshida gave many hours of testimony to the Diet’s investigative committee (NAIIC) in 2012. He formally asked that his testimony not be disclosed. Yoshida died of esophageal cancer in July of 2013. The government has previously released a small part of the testimony, and plans to make a bit more available to the public. However, the heads of eight of the 13 communities either inside or overlapping the mandated evacuation zone want full disclosure. Five of them said they have no problem if all of their own NAIIC testimonies were released, so there should be no issue with a full release of Yoshida’s. The mayors of Futaba and Okuma, which host the Fukushima No. 1 plant, as well as leaders in Namie, Minami-Soma, Naraha, Kawauchi, Katsurao and Iwaki, said Yoshida’s testimony should be made public. Governor Sato says he is undecided. http://ajw.asahi.com/article/0311disaster/fukushima/AJ201408210044
  • A town near Tokyo says they will not support storage of locally-produced rural radioactive wastes. The mayor of Shioya, in Tochigi Prefecture north of Tokyo, has demanded that the government drop the plans to build a permanent storage site in his town. The site was planned for sewage sludge, incinerated ash, and other debris with more than 8,000 Becquerels per kilogram of activity. Last month, the ministry decided to use state-owned land in Shioya, but Mayor Kazuhisa Mikata says he and the town assembly want no part of it because it could have a negative impact on the town’s natural resources and local produce would be subject to damaging rumors. Environment Minister Shinji Inoue says the site is desperately needed and hopes to convince the officials to relent. A panel set up by Tochigi Prefecture will meet to examine the process used by the government to select the location. NHK World; Town rejects plans to build radioactive waste site; 8/18/14

August 18, 2014

  • A Japanese scientist calls for raising the exposure goal for Fukushima repopulation. Risk assesment researcher Junko Nakanishi of the National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology says, “It’s about time to think of ways to live under a certain level of risk.” Nakanishi said that the 20 millisievert threshold is too high for many residents to accept and the 1 millisievert figure is unrealistic, given the limits and cost of decontamination technology. She explains, "The risk is not zero, but we need to think about the amount we can tolerate." She proposes a maximum exposure level of 5 millisieverts per year as a target for decontaminating evacuation zones. http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2014/08/17/national/science-health/scientist-weighs-homecoming-risks-fukushima/
  • The Nuclear Regulation Authority has stopped accepting public comments for the Sendai restart. More than 4,000 have been received. The NRA has not released any information on commentary content, critics speculate that many call for stricter safety regulations as well as increased earthquake protection and full NRA control of emergency evacuations. Two Sendai Pressurized Water Reactor units  are expected to be the first Japanese nukes restarted to end the nuclear moratorium. NHK World; Thousands of opinions on nuke restart...; 8/17/14
  • A former defense minister may be behind an evacuee fraud scandal. A non-prfit company headed by former Defense Minister Fumio Kyuma did not submit its 2013 business report by the June 2014 deadline. Previous business reports showed no actual operations for 2011 and 2012. A Metropolitan Police investigation suggests that the NPO used its name to win the trust of Tepco, then filed fictitious claims for damages from rumors related to the nuclear accident. The NPO is suspected of being a dummy company. http://jen.jiji.com/jc/eng?g=eco&k=2014081600203
  • 80 residents of Kawauchi approve lifting the evacuation order. Gvernment officials proposed that the order be lifted after the start of additional decontamination work in September and some necessary road repair. Village mayor Yuko Endo accepted the proposal, saying villagers will be free to decide whether or not to return home. He said villagers can then go back to their lives before the nuclear accident. Industry Minister Kazuyoshi Akaba said, "An evacuation order is a very strong restriction on residents. Now that the conditions (for lifting the evacuation order) have been met, we can no longer continue to violate the constitutionally-guaranteed rights of living and property (by not allowing residents to return)." The community has 275 residents, most of which are either against repopulation or undecfided. A 53-year-old man said it is too early to lift the order because of radiation readings in some areas and some issues remain open. A 66-year-old man said he wants the order to be lifted as soon as possible because the Tokyo says it is ready to compensate residents and rebuild the village's infrastructure. http://mainichi.jp/english/english/newsselect/news/20140818p2a00m0na009000c.html -- NHK World; Fukushima village OKs lifting of evacuation order; 8/18/14

August 14, 2014       

  • Two Muon Tomography units are planned for finding the melted fuel at F. Daiichi. DSIC of Middleburg, Virginia, will design, manufacture and deliver two detectors that will be installed in the reactor buildings. Muons are sub-atomic particles made when cosmic rays enter the upper atmosphere. The devices detect and track the muons passing through objects. Changes in muon trajectory are caused by passing through dense materials, such as the melted fuel (corium) at F. Daiichi. Detectors measure the trajectory changes and provide a 3-D image of the dense material. This will give researchers strong evidence of what happened to the three damaged cores at the station. To date, estimates of the extent of damage, how much corium is inside the reactor vessels, the amount that may have melted through the reactor vessels and accumulated on the base mats beneath, and the condition of the corium, have been based on computer models. DSIC president and CEO Stanton Sloane said, "We are delighted to extend the application of our solution to assist in the recovery of the Fukushima power plant as well as support and secure a safe working environment for personnel." Los Alamos Laboratory officer Duncan McBranch says, “Muon tomography will enable plant operators to see the location of the nuclear material inside, determine its condition, and provide critical insight that can inform the design of a safer and faster cleanup." http://www.world-nuclear-news.org/RS-Cosmic-rays-to-pinpoint-Fukushima-cores-1108144.html

  • Tepco has announced its two-pronged system plans for reducing groundwater inflow with the turbine basements of units #1-#4. First, an upgraded sub-drain system will be used to pump out 500-700 tons of groundwater per day from around the basements. The water will be stored on-site for purification before releasing it to the sea. The second is the “seaside impermeable wall” to stop groundwater outflow to the station, currently under constration. Groundwater collected on the land-side of the wall will be collected, purified, and mixed with the sub-drain waters in storage. Each system’s diagrams are linked at the bottom of the Tepco Press release page… http://www.tepco.co.jp/en/press/corp-com/release/2014/1240604_5892.html

  • The first of new nuclear anti-tornado upgrades has been shown to the Press. Kansai Electric Power Company showed the improvements for 2 reactor plants at Takahama station in Fukui Prefecture. The upgrades make the seawater supply systems capable of withstanding tornadoes stronger than any ever experienced in Japan, with wind gusts of 360 kilometers per hour. The improvements were made because of Nuclear Regulation Authority concerns about seawater supply vulnerability. In addition to improved pump safety, emergency power vehicle protection has also been upgraded. NHK World; Anti-tornado facilities at nuclear plant unveiled; 8/12/14

August 11, 2014

  • The National Police Agency says 21,586 died due to the 2011 quake/tsunami. 18,498 died or continue to be missing as a direct result of the calamity, and 3,088 have subsequently expired due to related stress or illness. The direct deaths include 9,538 in Miyagi Prefecture, 4,673 in Iwate, and 1,611 in Fukushima. In addition, 1,269 persons remain unaccounted for in Miyagi, 1,132 in Iwate, and 204 in Fukushima. The remains of 90 victims remain unidentified. http://www.japantoday.com/category/national/view/no-of-dead-and-missing-from-2011-disaster-stands-at-21586?utm_campaign=jt_newsletter&utm_medium=email&utm_source=jt_newsletter_2014-08-11_PM

  • Tepco has applied for permission to build a new groundwater drainage system. The company is currently building an iron barrier along the station’s shoreline which should stanch contaminated groundwater seepage into the Pacific. In addition, Tepco has already announced they will also use sumps surrounding the basements of units #1 through #4 to pump out groundwater and strip it of all radioactive isotopes except Tritium. Subsequently, Tepco wants to discharge the purified water to the sea. To better facilitate the “pumping up” of the groundwater, fifteen new sumps will be made, but only if approved by the Nuclear Regulation Authority. The company says they have advised local fisheries of the plan, and there has been no objection. However, release to the sea will not happen without a positive consensus from local residents. NHK World; TEPCO files application for new drainage system; 8/10/14

  • Tokyo intends to give more than $3 billion (USD) to landowners for temporary waste storage. The subsidies are intended primarily for Okuma and Futaba to cover the thirty-year temporary storage limit. Some lands will be leased, and others might be bought by the government. It is intended to give the land the most environmentally appropriate treatment possible, as well as potentially aid in revitalizing the region. http://jen.jiji.com/jc/eng?g=eco&k=2014080800527

  • A temporary facility with three shops opened in Nahara on July 31st. Mayor Yukiei Matsumoto said the "Kokonara Shopping Center" is important and pledged to support it. The three shops include a supermarket outlet, ice cream store, and a noodle shop. Residents and reconstruction works are already shopping there. Mizuki Watanabe, a 73-year-old housewife living in evacuee housing in Iwaki city and staying at her Nahara home on a temporary basis, said, "I bought sashimi (sliced raw fish) for dinner at the supermarket. It's very convenient." It is hoped this will make repopulation more attractive to Nahara evacuees. http://www.fukushimaminponews.com/news.html?id=384

  • A pilot project for forest decontamination could begin as early as September. It is designed to identify effective methods of decontamination, minimize costs, and reduce workers' exposure to radiation. This will be the first attempt at forestry decontamination. One location will be in Tamura City's Miyakoji district, where the government lifted an evacuation order in April. Other locations are in Minamisoma city's Odaka district, Iitate village's Nimaibashi district, and Kawauchi village's Modo district. The last three districts are designated as areas preparing for the lifting evacuation orders. http://www.fukushimaminponews.com/news.html?id=383

  • Fukushima students try to get anti-nuke signatures in Nagasaki. Two Fukushima students are collecting signatures during the events marking 69th anniversary of the Nagasaki nuclear bombing. The students intend to assist in keeping the survivors of Nagasaki in people’s minds, and pass on their stories about Fukushima in the process. One said, "For people outside the disaster-hit areas, March 11 comes only once a year, but for us, every day is March 11." She also made an attempt to tie bombs and reactors together, “In Fukushima Prefecture, many people live in fear of harmful effects to their health (from radiation). Nuclear plants and nuclear bombs share the same root, don't you think?" The relative success of their effort has not been reported. http://fukushima-is-still-news.over-blog.com/article-for-us-every-day-is-march-11-124334129.html

  • An article in the decidedly anti-nuclear Asia-Pacific Journal says radiation makes people invisible. During the 69th anniversary of Hiroshima/Nagasaki, the report ties reactors and bombs together through the concept of “Hibakusha” – people discriminated against due to radiation exposure. Writer Robert Jacobs alleges that the bombings and the Fukushima accident makes those associated with radiation exposure “invisible” to the public. He writes, “People who have been exposed to radiation, or even those who suspect that they have been exposed to radiation, including those who never experience radiation-related illnesses, may find that their lives are forever changed – that they have assumed a kind of second class citizenship. They may find that their relationships to their families, to their communities, to their hometowns, to their traditional diets and even traditional knowledge systems have been broken. They often spend the remainder of their lives wishing that they could go back, that things would become normal. They slowly realize that they have become expendable and that their government and even their society is no longer invested in their wellbeing.” He adds that the problem is not only in Japan, but is something global. He also says “sickness and mortality” go hand-in-hand with radiation exposure, but the “Hibakusha” impact is seldom addressed. Further, he writes that it is “disingenuous for nuclear industry apologists to say things like ‘no one died at Fukushima’”. Roberts claims to be an historian of the social and cultural aspects of nuclear technology. [Comment – to the contrary, it is disingenuous for Roberts to infer that many people will get sick and die due to Fukushima. He obviously has no scientific understanding of the biological effects of low level exposure and distrusts anyone who does.] http://japanfocus.org/-Robert-Jacobs/4157

August 7, 2014

  • Tepco revised their unit #3 estimates of equipment failure and core damage. The equipment failure topic focuses on Reactor Core Isolation Cooling (RCIC) system. Although only designed for four hours of operation, it lasted for some 20 hours before stopping. RCIC uses steam from the reactor to spin a turbine connected to a pump that injects water into the reactor pressure vessel (RPV) during an emergency condition. The system will run as long as there is sufficient steam pressure and an adequate supply of water to be injected. There was more than enough water in the condensate storage supply tank when unit #3 RCIC automatically shut down. Thus it was assumed some sort of system failure had occurred. However, it now seems that RCIC automatically ceased because of high turbine exhaust pressure. Why this happened with unit #3 RCIC, and not with unit #2 RCIC remains to be understood. With respect to core damage, Tepco’s newest computer simulation suggests that the meltdown began as early as 5:30am on March 13th. This is about 5 hours earlier than prior estimates. Because of the earlier assumed onset of meltdown, Tepco now believes that most of the molten core ate its way through the bottom of the RPV and fell to the steel-reinforced concrete floor beneath. Some of the melted fuel is believed to still be inside of the RPV, however. The escaped molten mass would have been 0.85 meters thick and penetrated the base-mat up to a depth of 0.68 meters. Nearly a meter of concrete would have remained before the mass could have burned through and fell to the outer steel shell of the containment. Government researchers directing the Tepco engineering team said the reason for the higher core damage estimates is the improper shutdown of the High Pressure Coolant Injection system. http://www.tepco.co.jp/en/press/corp-com/release/2014/1240141_5892.html -- http://www.tepco.co.jp/en/press/corp-com/release/betu14_e/images/140806e0101.pdf  For a representative news media report, see… NHK World; Meltdown at Fukushima reactor 3 worse than thought; 8/6/14

  • Tepco wants decontaminated groundwater releases locally approved. The company wishes to pump water out of 27 existing sub-drains that surround the basements of units 1 through 4, plus 15 more which are in the planning stage. Tepco feels they might reduce groundwater in-seepage to the contaminated basements by as much as 200 tons per day. Before discharge to the sea, the waters would be passed through the advanced isotopic purification system (ALPS) and have only small amounts of Tritium remaining. The existing ALPS system, which has been fully operational for several weeks, will be upgraded with additional processing streams by this fall. Tepco also says their shoreline barricades have reduced the estimated groundwater seepage to the sea by about 50%, and is now believed to be 200 tons per day. Another iron barrier is being installed to provide further out-flow protection, also on-schedule for a fall completion. NHK World; TEPCO plans to release treated water to ocean; 8/7/14 -- http://jen.jiji.com/jc/eng?g=eco 

  • Yomiuri Shimbun says using actual dosimeter exposures for repopulation is realistic. Japan’s largest newspaper believes that “setting realistic targets to lower radiation exposure doses is essential” for expediting decontamination work needed for Fukushima exclusion zone repopulation. The prior use of airborne monitoring to assume approximate exposures is subject to variances and over-estimation. Personal dosimeter measurements have shown that airborne monitoring estimates can be as much as double the actual amounts. Thus dosimeter-based exposure levels is the viable option for setting decontamination criteria. In addition, the Yomiuri argues that using dosimeter-based values is not enough. The 1 millisievert per year “goal” is often interpreted as a “threshold of safety and danger”, but this is neither true nor practical. The 1 mSv/year goal has made many who have been allowed to return home, reject the opportunity because radiation doses are believed to be too high to be safe. Thus, “The 1-millisievert benchmark, set by the former Democratic Party of Japan-led government to meet requests of local residents that decontamination work be carried out thoroughly, still hampers reconstruction of the affected areas.” The Yomiuri believes that the IAEA guideline of 20 mSv/year is “tolerable” and should be used as the criterion for repopulation. http://the-japan-news.com/news/article/0001475240

  • Miyagi Prefecture will allow a radioactive waste disposal siting study. Miyagi Gov. Yoshihiro Murai will notify Environment Minister Nobuteru Ishihara of the decision. Tokyo has announced three candidate sites in Miyagi, but needed prefectural permission to proceed. The local officials of the three sites had voiced opposition, but it seems two have reconsidered. On July 25th, Ishihara asked Gov. Murai asked the mayors of 35 municipalities to cooperate with the ministry for a site-selection survey for a final disposal facility for "specially designated" waste, as defined by the Ministry. The Mayors could not reach a consensus, so the governor was left with making the decision unilaterally, which he was reluctant to do. On August 4th, Murai emphasized the need for a positive decision, saying "A massive amount of specially designated waste is stored at various areas of the prefecture, and needs to be disposed of at an early date. To dispel the three municipalities' concerns, it's inevitable for us to accept a detailed survey." Thus, Kurihara Mayor Isamu Sato and Taiwa Mayor Hajimu Asano decided to accept the survey. Kami Mayor Inomata continued his dissent, and some other mayors agreed with him. But, most said local communities should support the siting survey and continue open discussion on the matter, providing the consensus the governor sought. In response, Mayor Inomata said local residents may try to block the surveys, "A survey shouldn't be conducted without local residents' understanding. If the national government is to forcibly start its survey, it would cause confusion." The studies will include checks on unground geology and groundwater infiltration levels. http://mainichi.jp/english/english/newsselect/news/20140805p2a00m0na007000c.html

  • The groundwater bypassing effort at F. Daiichi shows improving results. Last week, the Press reported that one well had merely dropped 4 centimeters in level as result of the process. However, they failed to mention that levels in three other wells had dropped 10 centimeters. As of June 25th, the “pumped –up” water discharged to the Pacific totaled nearly 16,000 tons, all of which met the self-imposed limits set by Tepco which are roughly 10 times less than national standards. The company reiterated that heavy rainfalls the past few months may well have limited the impact of the bypassing effort because in-seepage from the surface has been high. http://www.jaif.or.jp/english/news_images/pdf/ENGNEWS01_1407137706P.pdf

  • The head of Tokyo’s nuke watchdog agency says Tepco is not doing a good job with groundwater management. Shunichi Tanaka, Nuclear Regulation Authority chairman, said, “The biggest risk is the trench water. Until that matter is addressed, it will be difficult to proceed with other decommissioning work. It appears that they are getting off track” because of the parallel work being done to upgrade ALPS. His rationale seems predicated on yet another worst-case scenario, “It would be the best if you can keep all contamination from spreading. But what if another tsunami hits the plant and the highly contaminated water in the trench is discharged while you are trying to do everything [else]?” http://blogs.wsj.com/japanrealtime/2014/08/07/fukushima-watch-regulator-says-tepco-must-focus-on-trench-water/

 

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