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Fukushima Accident Updates (Blog)


The web's top source of objective Fukushima News. No "spins"...just summaries of news reports in Japan's Press, which is admittedly 94% antinuclear and calls the Fukushima accident a nuclear disaster. Posts are twice weekly; Monday and Thursday.

The are three regularly-updated pages concerning widely-reported Fukushima issues on this site; Fukushima Evacuee Compensation Payments (updated monthly), Fukushima Child Thyroid Cancer Issue and Is There Fukushima Radiation on North America’s West Coast? (both updated when new information is available)

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Fukushima: The First Five Days... taken from the hand-written staff records at Fukushima Daiichi the first five days of the crisis. Fukushima : Available here and all E-book stores. Click here for more...

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December 5, 2016

  • A volunteer group finds ocean fish near F. Daiichi safe to eat. The group, called "Iwaki Kaiyo Shirabetai Umi Labo" (Iwaki marine investigative squad ocean lab), formed three years ago because they didn’t trust the information released by the government or Tepco. The highest radioactivity they have detected thus far was a flounder registering 138 Becquerels per kilogram in July, 2014. However, all of the fish taken “lately” have been well below the 100 Bq/kg limit. One very old flounder surprised everyone. Group representative Riken Komatsu said, "This is the first time for us to check such an old olive flounder, and I thought there would be dozens of Becquerels detected. The result was lower than I had imagined and I feel relieved." http://mainichi.jp/english/articles/20161205/p2a/00m/0na/022000c

  • Cooling water flow was briefly lost at unit #3. The cause was a worker losing balance in full anti-Cs and breaking the switch lever for the unit’s water injection pump. He was also carrying some equipment which made his walking through the 2.8 feet-wide aisle past the control panel difficult. The Mainichi Shimbun said that although there was “no radiation leak or overheating of the core, or any injuries, the incident was a reminder that Fukushima's decommissioning work is running on a very fragile system.” http://mainichi.jp/english/articles/20161205/p2g/00m/0dm/079000c

  • A home improvement center opens in Tomioka to promote repopulation in the spring. Tomioka was wholly evacuated by Tokyo mandate in 2011. Daiyu Eight Co. of Fukushima City opened its hardware shop, called “Daiyu Eight Sakura Mall Tomioka Store,” inside a commercial complex on November 23. Three other businesses opened November 25th, providing foods - including noodles, full meals, and prepared dishes. All have the hope that resumption of operations will encourage evacuees to return home. Supermarket chain York-Benimmaru Co. and Sapporo-based drugstore chain Tsuruha Co. are scheduled to open outlets next spring. This will bring all businesses in the complex back into operation. http://www.fukushimaminponews.com/news.html?id=758  

  • Engineering students compete in a robot contest for Fukushima decommissioning. Fifteen teams from 13 national institutes of technology took part in Naraha Town on Saturday. Robots developed by the students traversed a steep stairway and took a video of a high place, modelled after actual buildings at F. Daiichi. The devices had to show ability to operate via cables because radio waves cannot penetrate the thick concrete walls in the reactor buildings. The organizers, including the Science Ministry, hope interested companies will begin joint research projects using the students' designs. “Decommissioning work may give you a negative impression. But it is the same as space development in that both of them challenge unknown fields,” said Shigekazu Suzuki, associate professor of mechanical engineering at the National Institute of Technology. A team from the Osaka Prefecture University College of Technology won.  http://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/en/news/20161203_25/ -- http://www.asahi.com/ajw/articles/AJ201612040025.html

  • Tokyo could extend its de-facto nationalization of Tepco well into the future. The Industry Ministry presented the plan at a meeting of their expert panel on Tepco reforms and related issues. The ministry announced creation of a new fund to cover the exorbitant cost that continues to inflate. Part of it will come from electricity customers, regardless of whether or not they have changed suppliers. The ministry also hinted at taking over the Kashiwazaki-Kariwa station to effect restarts. The ministry plan says, the government will "without hesitation enlist cooperation from other power companies toward the plant's restart" and not wholly entrust the K-K unit’s restarts to Tepco. http://asia.nikkei.com/Politics-Economy/Policy-Politics/Government-to-stay-involved-in-Fukushima-plant-decommissioning

  • Stories continue about Fukushima evacuee students being bullied. On Friday, the latest report concerned a fourth grade homeroom teacher using the term “kin”, which is not uncommon for students to use as a term of endearment. An alternative meaning for the term is “germ”, which is the way the student eventually took it. The student, whose family voluntarily evacuated Fukushima Prefecture after 3/11/11, said that after hearing of recent news reports where other evacuee students were being called the same thing, he became offended and could no longer attend school. The teacher said he heard some students use the term “kin” and thought it was meant as a show of friendliness. He said that the term comes from Anakin Skywalker of the Star Wars movies. School officials in Niigata said the teacher’s use of the term was inconsiderate, regardless of intent, and told him to formally apologize to the student and his family. Unfortunately, Japan’s most popular Press outlets failed to post the teacher’s comments. http://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/en/news/20161202_30/ --  http://www.asahi.com/ajw/articles/AJ201612020060.html -- http://mainichi.jp/english/articles/20161202/p2g/00m/0dm/082000c

December 1, 2016

  • Voluntary Fukushima evacuees oppose the March expiration of free housing. They submitted a petition to Tokyo’s Upper House, signed by 200,000 people, to have their allowance be extended. In June, 2015, the Fukushima prefectural government decided to end the subsidy for voluntary evacuees. The decision also affects those whose evacuation orders were lifted in 2014. The government has held numerous sessions since last December for low-income families to get other rent subsidies, but many evacuees feel the end of the free rent period is hasty. On the other hand, officials of towns where evacuation orders have been lifted feel the time has come to cease the subsidies. Kawauchi Mayor Yuko Endo said, “Assistance measures by the central and prefectural governments cannot continue forever. We might as well take a step forward to rebuild our livelihoods.” About 900 Kawauchi residents remain in voluntary estrangement from their homes.  Naraha Mayor Yukiei Matsumoto said, “More than five and a half years have passed [since the nuke accident]. It’s time for every one of us to think about standing on our own two feet.” Only about 10% of Naraha’s population has returned since all restrictions were lifted Sept. 4, 2015. http://www.asahi.com/ajw/articles/AJ201612010006.html

  • The Kagoshima’s governor’s antinuclear platform is called a “mere publicity stunt.” Governor Satoshi Mitazono garnered the antinuclear vote while campaigning for office by pledging to create an “expert panel” concerning the safety of the operating units at Sendai station. The panel has not been created, as yet. Now, former supporter Yukio Taira, chief of a Kagoshima labor union federation, says, “What he had done over the past months now appears to be a mere publicity stunt. He is breaking the campaign promise if he allows the resumption of the [Sendai unit #1] without obtaining the conclusion of the panel.” Tiara ran for governor until last July, when Mitazono proposed to shutter the Sendai nukes. It is widely believed that this was the primary reason why he won the election. Soon after election, he demanded an immediate halt to Sendai operations. But, Mitazono found he has no legal power to make it happen. Mitazono persuaded Kyushu Electric to carry out extraordinary earthquake safety inspections during the current refueling outage. He says he will request to the prefecture’s assembly in mid-December to form the investigative panel. http://www.asahi.com/ajw/articles/AJ201611290066.html

  • Ten Tsuruga unit #2 workers were splashed with mildly radioactive water. Fifteen workers were in the process of preparing to drain water from a pipe connected to a coolant storage tank. All were wearing full anti-contamination clothing, including helmets, gloves, and goggles. When a bolt was loosened on a valve, about 160 liters of mildly radioactive coolant splashed over most of them. News reports say four were sprayed from head to foot, and six were “partially soaked”. However, if they were really soaked, they would have received detectible exposure to the water with a radioactive concentration of 1,700 Becquerels per liter. But, plant owner Japan Atomic Power says none were exposed; not even the few that got some of the water on bare facial skin. The anti-contamination clothing must have been water-repellant. http://the-japan-news.com/news/article/0003380300

  • Toshiba points to China and India for multiple nuclear orders. The Danny Roderick, the president and CEO of the company’s Energy Systems & Solutions unit, plans to market their latest AP1000 nuclear plant. He says the recent election of Donald Trump in America created a more hospitable environment for energy companies. Roderick said, "I think Mr. Trump is much more supportive of thermal energy, and he has shown support for nuclear energy. I think that's probably the single biggest policy difference [from President Barack Obama]." He identified China as Toshiba’s “most important thing right now.” He speculated that China expects to eventually build 180 to 200 nukes, which would account for around 30-40% of the future global market. Roderick also mentioned the recent nuclear trade deal between India and Japan might result in ordering as many as six new units. http://asia.nikkei.com/Business/Companies/Toshiba-aims-to-nail-down-multiple-nuclear-orders-in-China-India

  • Reports of the demise of the Monju fast breeder project may be premature. Japan’s Press has pronounced the project doomed for months, led by the unabashedly antinuclear Japan Today and Japan Times. But, recent developments, completely ignored by the mainstream news outlets, shows that the popular Press has not provided the whole story. Governor of Monju’s home Fukui Prefecture, Issei Nishikawa, met with MEXT and METI ministers to discuss the fate of Monju. The ministers said they were following the recommendations of the Nuclear Regulation Authority by shifting control of Monju away from JAEA because of inadequate maintenance and management capabilities. MEXT Minister Hirokazu Matsuno also said that most of the project delays since 2011 have been due to increased regulatory burdens, adding nearly $5 billion to the cost. This led to announcing the possibility of scrapping the entire project and starting anew. However, the minister pointed out that the Press overlooked the fact that Japan “needs” the Fukui research facility and its staff in order to continue Tokyo’s policy of promoting the nuclear fuel cycle. Governor Nishikawa agreed that the nuclear fuel cycle is important to Japan, but he fears that Tokyo might suddenly sacrifice Monju, leaving his prefecture “high and dry”. He want Tokyo to sufficiently consider their actions and make reasonable explanations about whatever decisions may be in the offing. http://www.jaif.or.jp/en/fukui-governor-exchanges-views-on-fbr-monju-with-meti-and-mext-ministers/

November 28, 2016

  • A UN official says a Fukushima accident cancer rise is “inconceivable”. Malcolm Crick, secretary of the U.N. Scientific Committee on the Effects of Atomic Radiation (UNSCEAR), said there should be no rise in the rate of cancer occurrences stemming from the accident. His panel has studied the data on radioactive substances released into the atmosphere, ocean and rivers, their effects on food, and human exposures. He added that the incidence of thyroid cancer among Fukushima children greatly differs from the Chernobyl case. In Fukushima, the use of more sensitive diagnostic procedures has found tiny thyroid anomalies that have actually reduced the possibility of future thyroid cancer morbidity, no matter what the cause. http://www.fukushimaminponews.com/news.html?id=755

  • More evidence for Fukushima having no effect on North America’s coast. Analytical results of British Columbia’s shellfish meat and salmon reveal an absence of radioactivity from the Fukushima accident. Four types of mollusks taken from BC’s aquaculture regions - Pacific Scallop, Pacific Oyster, Northern Blue Mussel, and Manila Clam - were chosen for analysis because studies have shown that bi-valves bioaccumulate cesium at rates faster than many other sea organisms. Sockeye salmon were taken from Vancouver Island locations. The results assure that shellfish and salmon are safe to market and consume. In all cases, Cs-137 was detected, but no Cs-134. This assures that all Cesium in the meats came from post-WWII nuclear weapon’s tests, and not Fukushima Daiichi. https://fukushimainform.ca/2016/11/24/results-from-2016-inform-biotic-monitoring-shellfish-and-vancouver-island-salmon/

(Comment – In both of the above, we have information of considerable significance that promises to alleviate radiophobic angst in Japan and around the world, but the mainstream Japanese and international Press have completely ignored it!)

  • The NRA judges domestic nuclear components to be safe. Recently, doubts were cast about the strength of equipment made for a French nuclear plant by the Japan Casting & Forging Corporation (JCFC). The claim alleged there was too much carbon in the steel, making the components too brittle to be safe. The Nuclear Regulation Authority investigated and said it was “unlikely that any of the products” used by 11 Japanese units “contained carbon concentrations higher than prescribed limits” for safety-related systems. Thus, there is no possibility of “weaker-than-expected performance”. JCFC-manufactured vessel heads fare on eleven units at seven Japanese nuclear stations. No problems were found with any of them. http://www.jaif.or.jp/en/nra-ascertains-domestic-npp-components-to-be-sufficiently-strong/  

  • Fukushima accident recovery cost estimates soar. The Economy Ministry speculates the final expenditures to be roughly double the initial projections. The ministry says it could be 20 trillion yen (more than $175 billion). 40% is projected for compensation payments to state-mandated evacuees, as well as affected business and property owners. New decontamination cost forecasts are between 20 & 25% of the total. The rest is expected to be due to decommissioning of the six units at F. Daiichi. The new, larger projections are due to the increased number of people eligible for damages and greater costs for rural decontamination work, neither of which was fully foreseen when the initial estimates were made. http://asia.nikkei.com/Politics-Economy/Economy/Fukushima-decommissioning-costs-to-soar

  • A new Fukushima-related thyroid cancer fund offers financial aid to fifteen prefectures. The money will come from the private 3.11 Children's Fund for Thyroid Cancer, offering up to $1,800 to anyone who was aged 25 or under at the time of the nuke accident and has since been diagnosed with thyroid cancer, including suspected cases. The prefectures, including Tokyo, were selected in accordance with various atmospheric dispersion models for the spread of radioactive iodine. All currently-qualified persons will receive a lump sum of $900, beginning next month. Larger amounts may follow depending on individual factors. Fukushima has screened nearly 400,000 children who were aged 18 or younger in March, 2011. 175 have having confirmed thyroid anomalies (microscopic nodules) that may or may not be malignant. Of the 175 found to have the nodules, one case has been diagnosed as malignant. Further, none of the children in Fukushima Prefecture aged 10 and under at the time of the accident have any such anomalies. Nonetheless, the foundation's Ms. Hisako Sakiyama says young people in northern Japan will have to live with the risk of cancer for many years, so the foundation wants to provide money for diagnosis and treatment, as well as psychological support. http://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/en/news/20161128_17/ -- http://english.kyodonews.jp/news/2016/11/446184.html

  • A new Fukushima evacuee student bullying case crops up in Tokyo. A junior high student described his becoming the target of harassment while attending two elementary schools in the capital. He says, “Unless a person who experienced it speaks up, a true picture of bullying cannot be conveyed to the public. I was under the impression that I was not equal to my peers as I was an evacuee at my elementary school.” He was called a “germ”, told that everything he touched was “contaminated”, and chided because his family was granted rent-free housing by the government. However, the bullying stopped once he entered Junior High. The student’s family is voluntary evacuees. A Tokyo evacuee group says they have at least five other complaints on record. Group leader Yuya Kamoshita said evacuee students are called “dirty” because they come from Fukushima Prefecture, and asked school officials to make a “firm response” to bullying. http://www.asahi.com/ajw/articles/AJ201611270040.html

  • Last week’s Tohoku aftershock quake renews nuclear angst in the Kansai region, because of the Mihama station’s unit #3’s recent licensing extension. The Japan Times article moans that “Residents need to live with the fact that they are close to the Fukui reactors.” The article doubts about emergency evacuation plans are behind the concerns. What seems to be missing are the undeniable facts that last week’s aftershock did absolutely nothing of consequence to the Tohoku nukes, that the 3/11/11 mega-quake caused no safety compromises to any nukes on the Tohoku coast, and the Mihama unit is has a large containment building that was lacking at Fukushima Daiichi. http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2016/11/27/national/fukushima-aftershock-renews-public-concern-restarting-kansais-aging-nuclear-reactors/#.WDrejtK7odU

November 24, 2016

Early Tuesday morning, a major earthquake struck the Tohoku region, measuring 7.4 on the Richter scale. The off-shore seismic zone causing the quake suffered a geologic uplift spawning a tsunami, measured as high as 1.4 meters (4ft. 7 in.) at Sendai, well north of F. Daiichi. More than 15 people were injured and notable damage occurred with fishing boats and seaweed-harvesting rafts along the coast. But, with many Japanese news outlets, these facts took a back seat to reports of a brief electrical failure to the spent fuel cooling system at F. Daini and the intentional stoppage of contaminated water treatment operations at F. Daiichi so that the operators could follow their earthquake protocols and check for equipment damage. http://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/en/news/20161122_40/ -- http://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/en/news/20161122_46/ -- http://www.asahi.com/ajw/articles/AJ201611220029.html -- http://english.kyodonews.jp/news/2016/11/445505.html  Only the Japan Atomic Industrial Forum, with its relatively small readership, reported the actual situation with all nuke units on the Tohoku coast – “Insignificant effects”. (http://www.jaif.or.jp/en/insignificant-effects-from-earthquake-off-fukushima-prefecture-this-morning/) This showed, once again, that much of Japan’s antinuclear Press feels it is more important to deceptively resurrect images and fears connected to March 11, 2011, than sticking to the facts!

Unfortunately, some of the international Press followed suit. The NY Times blew the whole thing way out of proportion, based entirely on wild, paranoiac speculation. Its report began with an unabashed attempt to resurrect Fukushima accident angst. It said, “There was no avoiding fearful memories of the Japanese nuclear disaster of 2011” when an F. Daini SFP cooling system stopped “leaving more than 2,500 spent uranium fuel rods at risk of overheating”. Dredging up a willing critic of Tepco, the Times said that nothing happened…but, “…you never know until something happens. As far as this morning goes, they [Tepco] did a decent job, but mainly because it wasn’t that big of an earthquake or that big of a tsunami.” Another nay-sayer from Nagasaki lambasted the Nuclear Regulation Authority, charging that the agency allows the company to release all information, and inferred that Tepco cannot be trusted, “We should be informed fully whether this operation is reasonably done with cost effectiveness and safety and making sure that the best technology is being used.” The Times cited yet another a nuclear-critic, who is also a vocal opponent of nuke restarts in Japan, “I think we expect more of such readjusting plate movements and that has been reasonably predicted, and many volcanic activity and earthquakes have been rampant over the last five years. So why are we continuing to restart nuclear plants?” Thttp://www.nytimes.com/2016/11/22/world/asia/japan-earthquake-tsunami-fukushima.html?_r=1

On a less sensational level, Bloomberg focused entirely on Fukushima Daini’s minor SFP electrical issue. As it turned out, the shutdown of the SFP cooling system was automatic. It was caused by water in the pool rippling due to the earthquake, signaling a possible decline in level. The pumps were restarted after staff verified that the pool was not actually losing water level, with a total shutdown time of a little over an hour and a half, and a small but measurable increase in pool temperature. At the detected rate of heat-up, it would have been a week before the upper temperature limit would have been reached. But, these facts did not deter Bloomberg from posting an article devoid of the actual impacts of the quake and tsunami. https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2016-11-22/japan-probes-nuclear-cooling-system-shutdown-after-earthquake

Now, here’s some Fukushima, and related, news of actual significance…

  • Japan’s Atomic Energy Commission studies setting a limit for nuke liability. Currently, there is no upper limit for the compensation burden on electric power utilities. JAEC says the amount paid to Fukushima evacuees, to date, is $54.2 billion USD. But, the figures posted by Tepco show roughly $65 billion. Whatever the actual amount might be, it is clearly exorbitant and something needs to be done. Japan’s electric power industry wants limited liability, but if this were done it could harm the understanding of local residents in host communities, given the massive precedent set with F. Daiichi. Japanese law says that nuclear companies are liable for unlimited damages unless the accident were due to a “massive natural disaster”. However, the ruling Democratic Party of Japan, under the regime of antinuclear fanatic Naoto Kan, concluded that the F. Daiichi accident was not due to the massive natural disaster. Thus, Tepco has been shackled with massive public compensation pay-outs, and no end in sight. http://www.jaif.or.jp/en/committee-examines-lifting-of-compensation-amount-for-electric-power-utilities-unlimited-liability/ -- http://www.tepco.co.jp/en/comp/images/jisseki-e.pdf

  • Tepco has received a monthly compensation funding, this time for December. The amount is just under just under $400 million. This is the 58th such payment from Tokyo’s Nuclear Damage Compensation and Decommissioning Facilitation Corporation, since the Naoto Kan regime ruled that Tepco was entirely at fault for the Fukushima accident. By the end of December, the total compensation given to 75,000 Tokyo-mandated Fukushima evacuees will be roughly $65 billion. http://www.tepco.co.jp/en/press/corp-com/release/2016/1339554_7763.html

  • Small puddles of water have been found on the floor at Fukushima Daini station, seven miles south of F. Daiichi. Tepco believes that it was caused by water that “slopped” out of the spent fuel pools during Tuesday’s major earthquake. In keeping with the Japanese Press’ penchant for evoking nuclear FUD (Fear, Uncertainty, Doubt) as much as possible, the report says, “The utility has yet to confirm whether the water leaked outside the reactor buildings.” http://english.kyodonews.jp/news/2016/11/445693.html

  • The antinuclear Japanese Press continues to focus on the Fukushima student bullied in Yokohama. The Mainichi Shimbun says the boy’s parents are “irate over [education authority’s] tardy responses” when first told of the bullying. The Asahi Shimbun lauds the social media reaction to the boy’s plight. As with all prior news reports concerning the bullying, there is no mention as to whether the student’s family evacuated voluntarily or was forced to leave by Tokyo mandate. However, near the end of the Asahi article, the mother is quoted as saying that the family has received “only hundreds of thousands of yen” in compensation. This strongly suggests they are voluntary evacuees. http://mainichi.jp/english/articles/20161124/p2a/00m/0na/009000c -- http://www.asahi.com/ajw/articles/AJ201611240065.html

November 21, 2016

  • Full freezing of the landside “ice wall” is confirmed by Tokyo. Yosuke Takagi, State Minister of Economy, Trade, and Industry, visited Fukushima Daiichi today. He climbed into a pit along the western (landside) section of the wall and inspected temperature gauges penetrating the frozen soil. He then used a small hammer to confirm the frozen state of the ground. Thus, we have visual confirmation that the entire western side of the wall ice wall has been successfully frozen. http://photo.tepco.co.jp/en/date/2016/201611-e/161121-01e.html (Comment - None of Japan’s popular Press outlets have covered this story. If the minister had found the slightest indication of even the tiniest part of the wall unfrozen, it would have made national headlines, picked up by the international Press.)

  • A pro-nuclear mayoral candidate wins in Kashiwazaki. Kashiwazaki co-hosts the world’s largest nuclear station with Kariwa. Masahiro Sakurai, an independent candidate, has become mayor-elect in what is tantamount to a landslide victory. He garnered 30,220 votes, overshadowing the antinuclear candidate Eiko Takeuchi who amassed 16,459 votes. After being declared the winner, Sakurai said, “I will gradually but surely reduce the number of reactors in the nuclear power plant.  But, I recognize the value of resuming operations.” During the mayoral campaign, he said he would approve restarts of Tepco’s qualified Kashiwazaki-Kariwa units “if safety is confirmed and certain conditions are fulfilled.” The Mayor is sure to butt heads with the new Niigata governor who opposes K-K restarts. http://www.asahi.com/ajw/articles/AJ201611210053.html

  • Fukushima City high school students tour Fukushima Daiichi. Thirteen students were allowed to visit with the consent of their parents to see decommissioning work. The reason for the visit was that they will deal with issues that emerge in F. Daiichi accident recovery for as much as 35 years. From the inside of a bus, the students spent an hour touring the Fukushima plant. They saw the unit #1 reactor building, which recently had its cover removed, and storage tanks for radioactively contaminated water. They also entered the emergency response facility that has been operating around the clock since March, 2011. One student said, "I had mixed feelings toward Tepco, which caused the accident. But when I saw the response room, I realized they are working hard for Fukushima, trying to decommission the reactors." Another student said, “The tour made me realize that we should arm ourselves with accurate information if we want to change people’s perceptions of Fukushima as a scary place. For starters, I want to tell my fellow high school students ‘We went to the plant to see for ourselves what was going on there.’” The measured level of exposure for the students was about ten microsieverts. http://mainichi.jp/english/articles/20161119/p2a/00m/0na/008000c -- http://www.asahi.com/ajw/articles/AJ201611190023.html

  • Fukushima specialty persimmons are being readied for market. Farmers have begun producing "ampo-gaki", half-dried persimmons, in the Yanagawa district of Date city. The facility, built by the Japan Agricultural Cooperatives, has most stages of the production process automated, including peeling, drying, selection, and packaging. This has been an especially good year for the specialty fruit because of fortuitous temperature variations. There was a voluntary ban on the processing of persimmons in Date after the nuke accident. Date borders on the northern-most edge of the Tokyo-mandated evacuation zone. However, the ban has been lifted for 2016 because the “test” crop of 2015 was considered a success. This year’s product will be shipped to market after being scanned for radioactivity. http://www.fukushimaminponews.com/news.html?id=753

  • World baseball chief says Olympic baseball in Fukushima will not be dangerous. President Ricardo Fraccari says, “This can be an issue, but from the data I received, the situation at this moment is not dangerous in Fukushima.” He also believes that the sport’s top stars will not refuse to play games in the prefecture. He reminded reporters that the Under-15 World Cup was hosted this past summer in Iwaki City, saying, “Even at the last Under-15 World Cup, only one country refused to come. But the rest were there… so I think from this point there won’t be any problem for countries to come to Fukushima.” He said there are other considerations to be accounted for, including distance from the Olympic hub in Tokyo, the scheduling of the teams, and physical condition of the fields. Three locations are under consideration — Iwaki Green Stadium in Iwaki, Azuma Baseball Stadium in Fukushima City, and Koriyama Kaiseizan Baseball Stadium in Koriyama. http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2016/11/18/national/world-baseball-chief-plays-fukushima-olympic-fears/#.WC8G0tK7odU

  • A restaurant flourishes in sparsely-repopulated Nahara. The town’s evacuation order has been lifted for a year, but less than 1,000 of the town’s pre-evacuation population of 7,000 has returned. This has not deterred Junji Oshida, who opened a pork rice bowl restaurant along the main road through the town. His business is bustling, mostly due to vans transporting workers to F. Daiichi stopping for a hot meal. Oshida says, “I’ve never been able to predict the future, but I think taking on this challenge was a good idea.” His family had run an eel restaurant in Tomioka City for 140 years before the establishment was destroyed by the 3/11/11 earthquake. Oshida lived off of the generous compensation package mandated by Tokyo for about a year, then he got a decontamination job in Tomioka to escape boredom. He saw the large number of on-site workers passing through the town, so “I thought the workers would welcome a restaurant offering warm and casual meals if I opened one.” Oshida lives in an apartment in Iwaki with his family, and will probably stay there because they have settled-in after the five years of living there. http://the-japan-news.com/news/article/0003342971

  • Fuel removal from F. Daiichi unit #3 is likely to be further delayed. The bundles in the spent fuel pool (SFP) were originally planned for removal between April and September of 2015. However, the time needed for removal of debris has been extended due to local concerns about the work stirring up radioactive dust. Because of this, the target date was moved to January, 2018. However, Tepco now plans to install a cover and fuel handling equipment similar to the one built for unit #4. This will probably further delay fuel removal, though just how much is speculative. http://jen.jiji.com/jc/eng?g=eco&k=2016111800715

  • A leukemia patient will sue two Tepco and Kyushu Electric Co. for allegedly not taking adequate precautions to prevent him from being exposed to radiation. He will file for nearly $550,000 in compensation. His lawyer says, “TEPCO and Kyushu Electric, as the managers of the facilities, are responsible for the health of workers there, but they failed to take adequate measures to protect them from radiation exposure. The man was forced to undergo unnecessary radiation exposure because of the utilities’ slipshod on-site radiation management, and as a result had to face danger to his life and fear of death.” This is the first time Tepco will be sued following the granting of a work-compensation claim. The worker was awarded workman’s compensation for leukemia under a Tokyo blue law in October of 1985. His total exposure over a three year period was about 20 millisieverts (~ 2 REM). http://www.asahi.com/ajw/articles/AJ201611180052.html (Comment - For more detail on this, see “The Western Press spins Japan’s workman’s comp into a medical diagnosis” dated October 23, 2015, http://www.hiroshimasyndrome.com/fukushima-commentary-23.html )

  • A Nagasaki woman fears nuke accidents will make new Hibakusha in Japan. Hibakusha is the Japanese word for “bomb affected people”. Yoko Nakano was in utero when Nagasaki was bombed. She feels she was used as a “guinea pig” by Tokyo and the USA to monitor her and her peers in elementary school. She says, "I suspect that my data may have been used as reference materials for building nuclear plants" by playing a role in setting international standards for radiation exposure at nuclear power plants. She admits she has never had a serious disease over the past 70 years, but she feels that nuclear plants should not be allowed because people fear that low level radiation exposure can adversely affect their descendants. Yoko opposes nuclear plant restarts in Japan because “Such facilities could make their own Hibakusha even though they're not bombs. I'm not thinking negatively. I'm horrified because I feel that risks are becoming realistic; they're beginning to take shape." More than 650,000 have been officially registered in Japan since the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945, including the in utero children of those who were actually exposed to radiation and/or fallout. Nearly 175,000 Hibakusha are still alive.  http://mainichi.jp/english/articles/20161118/p2a/00m/0na/017000c

November 17, 2016

  • The IEA calls for Japan’s nuclear moratorium to end. In its September 21, 2016, publication on Japan’s energy policies, the International Energy Agency said the most cost-effective way to “decarbonize” and “diversify” its energy mix is by increasing the amount of generation from nuclear and renewable sources. The report says it “is important for the nuclear industry to be re-established in Japan, provided that safety is maintained at the highest standards possible.” The economics of the situation cries out for Japan to restart its nukes as quickly as possible. As a result of the Democratic Party of Japan’s nuke moratorium after the Fukushima accident, Japan’s energy dependence on imports rose 14%, annual CO2 emissions from power generation grew by 25 percent, and electricity prices increased by 16 percent for households and 25 percent for industry. http://www.iea.org/publications/freepublications/publication/EnergyPoliciesofIEACountriesJapan2016.pdf

  • Pre-construction work begins on Fukushima’s rural contaminated waste site. The project straddles Okuma and Futaba Towns, co-hosts to Fukushima Daiichi station. There will eventually be two facilities covering the 16 km2 area: one for sorting materials by size and contamination level, and the other for storage of the sorted material. Environment Minister Tadahiko Ito told personnel who began work on Tuesday, "I strongly request you to engage in daily work bearing in mind that safety must be a top priority." The Ministry plans to begin official 30-year storage next fall. Workers will first strip the contaminated layer of soil from the surface of the site. Full construction should begin in January. http://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/en/news/20161115_26/ -- http://jen.jiji.com/jc/eng?g=eco&k=2016111500412

  • Mihama unit #3 gets a 20-year licensing extension. The unit will reach the end of its 40-year license in December. It is the third Kansai Electric Co. unit to be granted an extension in Fukui Prefecture; the first two being Takahama #1 & #2. The 826 MWE Mihama #3 staff will now begin the necessary safety and earthquake resistance upgrades. Kansai Electric plans to resume operation in the spring of 2020, allowing plenty of time to recoup the cost of the required upgrades estimated at $1.5 billion. The procedure the licensing extension is three-fold: an examination to insure compliance with post-Fukushima regulations, a detailed construction plan for new facilities and equipment, and an “extension examination” on the effects of aging. Approval by the Nuclear Regulatory Authority was unanimous. Some of Japan’s popular Press used the announcement to criticize the NRA. Kyodo News said the extension signaled “a weakening in enforcement of the (40-year) limit” introduced by the antinuclear Democratic Party of Japan. Jiji Press says the “50-year rule is effectively becoming a dead letter”. Both Press outlets fail to acknowledge the seven smaller units that will be decommissioned because of the 40-year rule, and make it sound like it has made no difference.  http://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/en/news/20161116_18/ -- http://the-japan-news.com/news/article/0003352399 -- http://www.jaif.or.jp/en/nra-approves-extension-of-operating-lifetime-for-mihama-3-through-2036/ -- http://english.kyodonews.jp/news/2016/11/444416.html -- http://jen.jiji.com/jc/eng?g=eco&k=2016111600224

  • Yokohama’s mayor wants to know why city officials failed to follow Japan’s anti-bullying law, with respect to a Fukushima evacuee. We reported on the Board of Education’s explanation on Nov. 10th. Mayor Fumiko Hayashi said she wants to know why the Board didn’t respond sooner. On Tuesday, the 13 year-old boy had a written statement concerning his plight posted by a lawyer. He wrote, in part, “I wished to die many times. But I’ve decided to live even if it is painful because so many people died in the earthquake and tsunami. I decided to disclose the statement because I want people being bullied to keep living.” He has refused to attend school since this past July, rather than suffer the torment. http://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/en/news/20161116_26/ -- http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2016/11/16/national/young-fukushima-evacuee-suffered-bullying-urges-others-stay-strong/#.WCyAYdK7odV -- http://jen.jiji.com/jc/eng?g=eco&k=2016111501012

  • Japan’s popular Press ignores the antinuclear Kagoshima governor’s inspection of Sendai unit #1. Newly-elected Governor Satoshi Mitazono received wide Press coverage of his failed attempts to shutter the two operating units at Sendai. However, his inspection of unit #1, which is in a refueling outage, has received none. Reporters were there for the visit, but none of the news outlets saw fit to report on it. Only the Japan Atomic Industrial Forum posted an article on the November 11 visit. The Governor said he is trying to form a study committee to independently assess the safety of the two units, but gave no timetable on when it might happen. After taking office in July, Mitazono was given heavy Press coverage when he said citizens of his prefecture were concerned about safety due to the April Kumamoto earthquake, in neighboring Kyushu Prefecture, leading him to twice demand that the Sendai be shuttered immediately. The former Asahi news correspondent demanded that he get an inspection, and was granted his wish. http://www.jaif.or.jp/en/kagoshima-governor-visits-reactor-shows-some-appreciation-for-special-inspections-by-kyushu-electric-power/

Due to a reader’s request, here is the current status of nuke restarts in Japan…

  • Sendai units #1 & #2 were restarted in August, 2015. Unit #1 is currently off-line for a routine refueling outage. Unit #2 will enter into its first post-moratorium refueling outage next month.

  • Takahama units #3 & #4 restarted in late January, 2016. Unit #4 shut down after a few days of operation due to an equipment failure in the electrical generator. Unit #3 was shut down in March, 2016, due to a court injunction rendered by an Otsu court in neighboring Shiga Prefecture. Takahama station is in Fukui Prefecture.

  • Ikata unit #3 in August, 2016. It is currently operating at full power.

 

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