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Fukushima Accident Updates (Blog)


The internet's top source of objective Fukushima News. No "spins"...just summaries of the news reports in the Japanese Press. Japan's Press is 94% antinuclear and calls the Fukushima accident the Fukushima nuclear disaster. (Updates are posted twice weekly; Monday and Thursday)

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July 27, 2015

  • Sendai unit #1 could restart as early as August 10th. On Friday, Kyushu Electric Company submitted an application for restart to the Nuclear Regulation Authority. All fuel bundles have been loaded into the Reactor Pressure Vessel and water level instrumentation has been successfully checked for operability. Today, the plant staff began a prolonged severe accident drill, one of the steps needed to meet pre-operational requirements. The scenario began with a loss of coolant situation due to a simulated pipe rupture, followed by emergency cooling failure. Operator investigation and analysis established a total loss of electrical power. A massive release of radioactivity is to be averted through use of emergency generators and pumps, many of which have been required by the new NRA regulations. NRA Commissioner Toyoshi Fuketa and five agency staff are observing the drill. The exercise is expected to continue until Thursday. http://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/english/news/nuclear.html -- http://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/english/news/nuclear.html

  • A 20-ton crane will be removed from unit #3 spent fuel pool. The process is expected to begin later this week. A Tepco spokesperson said, “The debris will be pulled out using two cranes, but we had to create a specially designed hook with a unique shape for it to securely hold on to the object.” The crane fell into the pool as a result of the hydrogen explosion of March 14, 2011. The pool’s water level and area radiation levels will be monitored closely, using multiple cameras and monitors. The removal of the crane will be slow and careful to prevent contact with the SFP gates. All other procedures at F. Daiichi will be suspended while the crane is being lifted. http://blogs.wsj.com/japanrealtime/2015/07/27/fukushima-operator-prepares-to-lift-20-ton-debris-from-fuel-pool/?mod=yahoo_hs

  • Fukushima’s governor asks diplomats to help dispel radiation fears. Gov. Masao Uchibori addressed 40 international representatives in Geneva on July 13th. He asked for everyone to remember the nuke accident and spoke about recovery progress since 3/11/11, saying, "We are faced with the harsh reality that livelihoods prior to the disasters cannot be restored." He emphasized that consumers continue to be distrustful of Fukushima's agricultural and fisheries products, despite thorough tests for radioactive substances. Included in the audience were ambassadors of Ireland and Thailand, and other representatives from the Philippines, India and Switzerland. http://www.fukushimaminponews.com/news.html?id=537

  • A Fukushima cattle producer sues Tepco. Ueno Bokujo of Koriyama, near Fukushima City, filed a suit in Fukushima District Court on July 16th, demanding $4 million in compensation for reduced cattle prices and increased manure disposal costs due to the nuke accident. The market for Fukushima-grown beef seems to have been as negatively affected as the market for Fukushima seafood. In addition, decreased sales of manure as fertilizer have also occurred. Bokujo’s herds in Koriyama and Tamura have about 2,900 head of beef cattle. A sudden drop in beef prices in 2014 has cost the owner about $1.6 million. He estimates it will cost him about $16 million to dispose of the 17,000 tons of manure that has accumulated since the market virtually vanished. A Tepco official said, “We will respond sincerely after listening carefully to what the plaintiff has to say in court.” http://ajw.asahi.com/article/0311disaster/fukushima/AJ201507240084

  • (Only because of numerous fear-mongering news stories outside Japan.) Reports of Fukushima daisies having been mutated by Fukushima radiation are unfounded. In May, pictures taken of some daisies near Nasushiobara, Tochigi Prefecture, have gone viral on the internet. The plants show multiple stems, connected flower centers, and unusually-shaped petals. On course, Fukushima-mania in some international Press outlets make a guilt-by-association connection to nuke accident, although the city is about 100km from the nuke station. Radiation levels reported near the flowers are in the 0.5 microsievert per hour range, which is about the natural background level for the location. Botanists and biologists have all agreed that the cause of the unusual, but not uncommon phenomenon is what they term “fasciation”. Fasciation can be caused by a number of insults such as bacteria, viral infection, and/or physical damage. In order for any type of plant mutation to occur, radiation exposures would have to be many, many times greater than what was found in Nasushiobara. Even though this has not been given much attention by the Japanese Press (essentially, one Japanese-American outlet), international reports have emerged. I submit one objective report (http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/mutant-daisies-fukushima_55b13010e4b0a9b94853fb7b?), one less-objective article (http://www.independent.co.uk/news/science/mutant-daisies-found-near-fukushima-nuclear-disaster-may-have-nothing-to-do-with-radiation-10411188.html ), and one fear, uncertainty, and doubt (FUD)-oriented posting (http://news.yahoo.com/fukushimas-mutant-daisies-wonder-warning-180707326.html;_ylt=A0LEV1NecLJVn.sAAm9XNyoA;_ylu=X3oDMTEyMWZtdTBqBGNvbG8DYmYxBHBvcwMxBHZ0aWQDQjAwMjhfMQRzZWMDc2M-# ) as examples.

July 23, 2015

  • The first transfer of rural radioactive waste from a Fukushima school has begun. Yashirogawa Elementary in the town of Tanagura is located about 150 kilometers from F. Daiichi.  A total of 1,500 cubic meters of soil and other detectibly radioactive items have been temporarily stored on the school property. The material is being transported to the temporary storage sites that straddle Okuma and Futaba towns, adjacent to F. Daiichi station. Another 1,500 m3 will be transported from four other schools in Koriyama City and Asakawa Town by the end of the summer. The volume of wastes at the Yashirogawa School was collected between January and June of this year. About 43,000 cu. meters of material from 43 municipalities will be shipped to the storage site by April of 2016. The work has been completed in six towns, including Okuma and Futaba. It is estimated that 316,400 cu. meters of waste is currently stored at 1,173 locations in the prefecture. http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2015/07/19/national/science-health/transfer-of-radiation-tainted-soil-from-fukushima-prefecture-school-starts/#.VauU1JAw8dU

  • A Fukushima contractor is arrested for burying detectibly radioactive tree debris. Minamisoma police arrested him for allegedly disposing about 3.4 tons of branches and twigs in a woody area. The possibility came to light in February after the Environment Ministry was alerted by a competitor contractor. The police report the alleged perpetrator has denied the claim, saying he did no such thing and that he never told his employees to do it. http://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/english/news/nuclear.html

  • As of Monday, 7,000 tons of radioactive water remained in underground locations at F. Daiichi. The liquids are in several tunnels, ducts, and pits for units #2 and #3. The highest contamination levels measured were 990 Becquerels per liter of Cesium-134 and 3,200 Bq/l of Cesium-137. These levels are many times lower than what is found in the turbine basements and the waters recently removed from the main equipment tunnels for the two units. Removal of all waters is expected by the end of the month. http://jen.jiji.com/jc/eng?g=eco&k=2015072100628

  • Russia partially lifts its Fukushima-related seafood ban, and it is also being considered by Taiwan. Twenty-three fish processing companies in Aomori Prefecture can now ship their products to Russia. However, the trade embargo still remains for seven other prefectures - Iwate, Miyagi, Yamagata, Fukushima, Ibaraki, Chiba and Niigata. Russia says the decision was based on IAEA recommendations and the fact that Aomori Prefecture is quite far from F. Daiichi. Before the nuke accident, 520 Japanese companies exported to Russia, but the nuke crisis witnessed 200 companies banned. Meanwhile, Taiwan might lift food import bans on four Prefectures, other than Fukushima. A diplomatic source said, “We agreed in principle to relax restrictions on food produce from four Japanese prefectures except Fukushima. The fact is that all the food products from the banned prefectures pass the safety examinations and they are consumed by the Japanese public.” The affected prefectures are Ibaraki, Gunma, Tochigi and Chiba. http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2015/07/22/national/russia-eases-ban-seafood-imports-japan/#.Va_hp5Aw8dU

  • More on the NRA’s assumption that the Shika fault is seismic. On July 17th, the Nuclear Regulation Authority’s seismic panel published a draft report on a geologic seam running under Shika unit #1. The report stated, “Although no clear basis has been found to affirm that the faults were active after the Late Pleistocene (some 120,000 to 130,000 years ago), the possibility of their displacement and deformation cannot be denied.” Station owner Horuiku Electric. Co. says evidence shows that the fault has not moved within the last 130,000 years, and called the NRA finding “hardly rational”. The company says it is examining the entire report and will submit a written opinion. http://www.jaif.or.jp/en/nra-panel-activeness-of-faults-under-shika-cannot-be-ruled-out-again/

  • Another 3,000 Fukushima residents seek compensation money. All claimants live in the Watari District of Fukushima City, some 20km outside the Tokyo-mandated exclusion zone. None have previously qualified for evacuation stipends, voluntary evacuee payments, or mental anguish compensations. Tokyo’s guidelines allow residents in government-ordered evacuation zones and "specific spots recommended for evacuation" (where radiation levels are relatively high) to get 100,000 yen (~$800) each a month for emotional duress. The Watari residents say they were exposed to about 2 microsieverts per hour for the first six months of the accident, which was the highest in Fukushima City. They feel they are entitled to the same mental stress payments as mandated evacuees, and each should get double payments for the first six months after the accident when the radiation levels were at their peak. One claimant said, "The Watari district was not designated as a specific evacuation recommendation spot because the national and prefectural governments wanted to avoid a situation where residents in the center of the city evacuate. We should be entitled to compensation on par with that for residents in specific evacuation recommendation spots." http://mainichi.jp/english/english/newsselect/news/20150721p2a00m0na014000c.html

  • Greenpeace published a report on Tuesday saying that only a fourth of Iitate Village is decontaminated, including roads, homes, and buffer strips around inhabited areas, thus, “Levels of radiation in both decontaminated and non-decontaminated areas… make a return of the former inhabitants of Iitate not possible from a public health… perspective.” The rationale is that the surrounding forests are a giant reservoir of contamination that will eventually leach out and re-contaminate much of the decontaminated area. Greenpeace says this will effectively confine returnees to a relatively small area of their old hometowns. The report states, “The Japanese government plans, if implemented, will create an open-air prison of confinement to ‘cleaned’ houses and roads … and the vast untouched radioactive forests continue to pose a significant risk of recontamination of these ‘decontaminated’ areas to even higher levels.” Greenpeace adds that detectible radiation exposures above 1 millisievert per year will force people to relocate at some point in the future. http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2015/07/22/national/science-health/fukushima-scrub-aims-make-villages-safe-although-woods-may-remain-no-go-zones/#.VbDU4ZAw8dU

  • Greenpeace also says much of soon-to-be-repopulated Naraha Town might be unfit for habitation. They say that decontamination is incomplete and hap-hazard in Iitate, thus there’s no reason to think it is any better in Naraha. On the other hand, government data shows contamination levels in Naraha are much lower than Iitate, and a town survey shows that most residents want to go home. A statement made by Mayor Naraha Yukiei Matsumoto says the end of the evacuation order is “based on citizens’ real voices and plans to accelerate reconstruction,” and that a “prolonged evacuee life is not desirable.” http://www.japantoday.com/category/national/view/nuclear-refugees-face-dilemma-over-returning-home?utm_campaign=jt_newsletter&utm_medium=email&utm_source=jt_newsletter_2015-07-22_PM

  • A German multi-media outlet bashes Tokyo for re-opening Naraha. Deutsche Welle (DW) reports, “…environmentalists say many areas still show highly-elevated levels of contamination and are unfit for habitation.” It also alleges that it is merely a “…bid seen by critics as aiming to speed up reconstruction.” DW evokes the above Greenpeace report, and includes the statement that it will be “impossible for people to safely return to their homes.” Greenpeace activist Jan Vande Putte said, "Prime Minister Abe would like the people of Japan to believe that they are decontaminating vast areas of Fukushima to levels safe enough for people to live in. The reality is that this is a policy doomed to failure. The forests of Iitate are a vast stock of radioactivity that will remain both a direct hazard and source of potential recontamination for hundreds of years. It is impossible to decontaminate." Greenpeace Japan’s Mamoru Sekiguchi adds, "It's a shocking indictment of both the IAEA and the Abe government, which reveals how desperate they are to create the illusion that returning to 'normal' is possible after a severe nuclear accident.” Adding more fuel to the scare-mongering, French antinuclear activist Mycle Schneider says, "As there is no threshold, meaning there is no safe level of exposure, the health risk to people would be significantly increased." He also called Japan’s decontamination efforts “helplessly inefficient”. DW also states that repopulation is a money-saving move because compensation payments will eventually stop. DW again cites Vande Putte, "Stripping nuclear victims of their already inadequate compensation, which may force them to have to return to unsafe, highly radioactive areas for financial reasons, amounts to economic coercion." Schneider voices a parallel criticism, calling repopulation “a very simple goal; reduce the amount of compensation being paid out to victims.” (Aside – how ~$9,000 per month in total pay-outs for every man, woman, and child is “inadequate compensation” is beyond this reporter’s comprehension. The DW report only the $1,000 per month doled out for emotional distress, but the total stipends being paid are nine times greater. – end aside) http://www.dw.com/en/tokyo-under-fire-for-plans-to-speed-return-of-fukushima-evacuees/a-18597707

July 20, 2013

  • Radiation levels in and around the Fukushima evacuation zone have dropped considerably. The Reconstruction Agency released maps comparing estimated exposures in 2011 and 2014. The doses were based on the assumption that a resident spends 16 hours indoors and eight hours outdoors a day.  An Agency official said, "“Radiation dosages at the Nakadori and Hamadori regions have dropped significantly and this gives proof that we are no longer in a situation where one needs to evacuate from areas outside evacuation-designated zones.” Hamadori is the prefecture's coastal region, and Nakadori is the prefecture's central region. http://www.fukushimaminponews.com/news.html?id=535

  • Heavy rains caused a minor contaminated leak into the sea. A drainage channel, with its outlet blocked, was overflowed by an unusually heavy downpour. The channel has a pump to direct flow into the doubly-barricaded inner port (quay), but the rains exceeded the pump’s maximum capacity. Water in the channel measured 830 Becquerels per liter for radioactive Cesium and 1,000 Bq/l for Beta emitters. Tepco says the activity was probably due to the rains washing mud and loose surface material into the ditch. This is the same channel that had elevated rainwater contamination levels in February, sparking a major socio-political controversy. http://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/english/news/20150717_01.html

  • The Nuclear Regulation Authority is testing a new public radiation data system for Sendai station. The system provides Tokyo and local communities with online radiation data during emergencies. Other concerned organizations and citizens across Japan will be able to access the NRA website postings, as well. For Sendai station, the website provides data from 73 fixed observation points within a 30-kilometer radius, as well as from mobile radiation-monitoring. The NRA says that if the testing goes as planned, the system should be in full operation in August. They will also set up websites for other nukes at some point in the future. http://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/english/news/nuclear.html

  • A fault under Shika nuclear station is possibly seismic. An NRA panel rendered its decision on Friday. The seam runs under part of the station’s unit #1. The NRA report admits there is no clear evidence that the fault is active, but the geologic strata atop a small portion of the anomaly may have moved within the last 120,000-130,000 years. The panel said it is possible that the upper strata moved because of prior, but currently-undetected activity in the fault. Station owner Hokuriku Electric Co. challenged the NRA finding. Company president Yukata Kanai said, “We’re confident that the fault is not active”, and that they submitted detailed surveys to try and prove it. Hokuriku Elec. says that volcanic ash found inside the seam, and other evidence, suggests that the NRA has made a “factual error” and has drawn a conclusion based on assumptions and hypothetical calculations. The NRA panel dismissed this claim saying that it cannot be proven that the fault has not moved within the past 130,000 years. NRA regulations ban nukes built over faults deemed active. The report will not be finalized until opinions of independent experts and the body of commissioners has been garnered.  http://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/english/news/20150717_05.html -- http://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/english/news/20150717_25.html -- http://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/english/news/nuclear.html -- http://ajw.asahi.com/article/0311disaster/fukushima/AJ201507180040 -- http://mainichi.jp/english/english/newsselect/news/20150718p2a00m0na001000c.html

July 16, 2015

  • Removal of the unit #1 enclosure roof at F. Daiichi will begin later this month. Tepco needs to dismantle the enclosure in order to collect and discard rubble caused by the hydrogen explosion of March 12, 2011. The next step will be removal of the used fuel bundles in the spent fuel storage pool. The enclosure was built in late 2011 to stop the continual outflow of detectible radioactive particles into the atmosphere. Tepco wanted to begin dismantling the enclosure last year, but public fears about the possible dispersal of radioactive dust during rubble removal caused the company to postpone the plans. Tepco staff will first remove one of the six roof panels, then thoroughly spray chemical agents inside unit #1 to keep dust from going airborne. The process of taking off all six roof panels, with dust suppression following each removal, is expected to last about four months. http://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/english/news/nuclear.html

  • The IAEA has finished its inspection of the Kashiwazaki-Kariwa nuke station in Niigata Prefecture. The Tepco-owned K-K plant has seven units, the combined output of which is the largest in the world. The International Atomic Energy Agency completed a detailed 14-day inspection of plant safety and emergency response program. The team noted good progress with strengthening protection against worst-case natural disasters and upgrades to insure against a full-station power blackout like the one that caused the accident at Fukushima Daiichi. Team leader peter Tarren said, "We've had excellent cooperation from the TEPCO staff and the Kashiwazaki-Kariwa persons in particular. We would like to take both of those aspects (improvements and good practices) back to the rest of the nuclear industry as learning opportunities." He added, "We've seen very strong commitment to both the nuclear safety and the continuing improvements, not just from the people at the power station but also from the corporate organization right from the top.” Major upgrades that were noted include “comprehensive and robust measures against severe accidents”, frequent emergency preparedness drills, and minimization of fire risks. Proposals for further improvement include creating systems to better exchange lessons-learned with the rest of the industry, improving management guidance with spent fuel pool safety, and full integration of on-site emergency plans to make them easier to implement. http://www.tepco.co.jp/en/press/corp-com/release/2015/1255020_6844.html -- http://photo.tepco.co.jp/en/date/2015/201507-e/150713-01e.html -- http://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/english/news/20150713_24.html

  • Decontamination of the Fukushima “J-Village” has begun. The J-Village is a soccer facility 20km south of Fukushima Daiichi that has been leased by Tepco as the main location for recovery operations and housing of workers at F. Daiichi. Tepco plans on finishing clean-up in 2018. Tokyo would like to use the twelve soccer fields as a training site for the men’s and women’s teams to compete in the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. It is believed that many the fields will be fully decontaminated and open for use by the summer of 2018. Tokyo would like to relocate the soccer operation’s base to the J-Village in March, 2017. Fukushima Prefecture plans to fully open the facility in April, 2019. http://mainichi.jp/english/english/newsselect/news/20150714p2a00m0na006000c.html -- http://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/english/news/nuclear.html

  • Tokyo approves restart safety for Ikata unit #3 in Ehime Prefecture. On Wednesday, the Nuclear Regulation Authority unanimously agreed that the unit’s safety measures satisfy the post-Fukushima standards. Ikata is the third nuke station to reach this point since the NRA went into full operation more than two years ago. A draft approval was issued in May, but a final decision had to await a 30-day public comment period. There were 3,464 comments submitted. All comments were considered before the final judgment was rendered. Allegations of safety inadequacy, such as underestimation of quakes and tsunamis, were dismissed as unfounded. The next steps include on-going construction for upgrading facilities and equipment, enhancing programs for dealing with severe accidents, and consent from local communities. Shikoku Electric plans to make house-to-house visits within a 20km radius to explain the high degree of safety. The local antinuke leader, Tsukasa Wada, believes the unit should not be restarted because “the size of a possible quake was underestimated”, “the problem of spent fuel from the reactor can’t be solved,” and evacuation plans for the 30km radius are inadequate. Shikoku Electric hopes to clear all remaining regulatory hurdles in order to restart by the end of this year. http://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/english/news/nuclear.html -- http://the-japan-news.com/news/article/0002289545 -- http://mainichi.jp/english/english/newsselect/news/20150715p2g00m0dm047000c.html -- http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2015/07/15/national/ikata-reactor-ehime-wins-safety-approval-nations-nuclear-plants-inch-closer-restarts/#.VaZW75Aw8dU

  • Tokyo warns against increased dependence on fossil fuel for electricity generation. In the annual fiscal report on energy for 2014 was adopted by the Prime Minister’s Cabinet. It said rising electrical costs due to the nuclear moratorium have been a huge burden to households and industry. The average cost to the consumer has risen 25% and to commercial customers by 40% compared to 2010, the year before the nuclear moratorium began being phased in. The report says liberalization of retail electricity will begin in April, 2016, and city gas as early as 2017. It also mentioned the prospect of using shale gas imports from the United States as a possible cost-saving measure. http://jen.jiji.com/jc/eng?g=eco&k=2015071400137 

July 13, 2015

  • Sendai unit #1 Fuel loading was completed just after midnight on Friday. Now, pre-operational testing has begun. The plant’s staff will also run a four-day long accident-response drill and inspect emergency facilities, all under the scrutiny of the Nuclear Regulatory Authority. Kyushu Electric Co., the station owner, said it will continue to sincerely cooperate with the NRA and put safety first throughout the process. Kyushu Elec. Was the first to file for restart consideration after the new safety regulations were handed down in July, 2013. It was also reported that Sendai #1 may restart as early as August 10th.  http://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/english/news/nuclear.html -- http://the-japan-news.com/news/article/0002279085 -- http://ajw.asahi.com/article/behind_news/social_affairs/AJ201507110054

  • Four utilities are actively pursuing Boiling Water Reactor restarts. The safety requirements for BWRs are more complicated than with Pressurized Water Reactor systems, largely because Fukushima Daiichi is a BWR station. The main issues are with depressurization (venting) systems and prevention of releases of airborne contamination during a nuclear accident. The large, domed containments at PWRs are far more forgiving than the BWR-type used across Japan. The NRA will select which BWR unit(s) will be given priority for restart reviews, just as the two Sendai units were given primacy with PWRs. Five BWRs have jointly had their applications for restart examined by Tokyo’s watchdog; Onagawa unit #2 (Tohoku Elec.), Kashiwazaki-Kariwa units#6&7 (Tepco), Hamaoka unit 4 (Chubu Elec.), and Shimane unit 2 (Chugoku Elec.). One of the current review hold-ups is whether or not each plant’s seismic design meets the new regulations. The NRA says the first plant to be examined will be the one whose staff best responds to severe accident issues concerning protection of containment integrity. http://www.jaif.or.jp/en/nra-hears-from-power-companies-on-bwr-countermeasures/

  • Tepco has posted the current status of filling the unit #2 equipment tunnels shafts with concrete. Of the four vertical shafts, it appears that three are completed and one (shaft “B”) is still in process. All contaminated water was removed from the tunnels by June 30th. The linked Press handout has pictures of the concrete supply vehicle used for the filling of the shafts. Though not close-ups, it appears that none of the workers are required to wear full face-masks and anti-contamination suits. http://www.tepco.co.jp/en/nu/fukushima-np/handouts/2015/images/handouts_150710_01-e.pdf

July 9, 2015

  • Fuel load inside Sendai unit #1 began on Tuesday, while more than 100 protesters rallied outside. There will be roughly 40 fuel bundles installed in the reactor vessel every day. It should take about four days to load all 157 bundles. The process requires one bundle at a time to be taken from its storage position in the fuel pool, sent through the water-filled fuel transfer canal, gripped by the reactor building’s polar crane, and precisely placed in its proper location inside the reactor vessel. Trained staff will be working in shifts so that the fuel installation occurs around the clock. After installation is complete, the large reactor head will be returned to the top of the vessel by the polar crane and securely bolted in-place, the control rod drive mechanisms remotely attached to the control rods already in the core, and pre-operational tests run, including emergency core cooling system function. When everything checks out, the Nuclear Regulation Authority will be asked to allow start-up. The pre-operational phase will last about two months.

  • Meanwhile, protests occurred at Sendai station and in Tokyo. At Sendai, signs said "Loading of nuclear fuel is a step toward accidents" and protesters shouted "We will never condone reactivation!" Many were local activists, but some were from other parts of Japan. Long-time local activist Ryoko Torihara said the NRA, station owner Kyushu Electric, and local officials have rushed the startup. She claims a thorough analysis of volcanic risks has not made. She said, “It’s quite strange the NRA did not have any volcanic experts on its committee when it accepted the word of Kyushu Electric that the possibility of a gigantic volcanic eruption, called a caldera eruption, was extremely small.” Torihara also feels adequate evacuation planning for the public has yet to be completed. She further claimed that no nukes should be operated for the sake of future generations. Another local, Kiyaoki Kawabata, said, "Even though residents have been seeking an explanation, they ignored us. We cannot forgive them for that." Hiroshi Sugihara of Kagoshima University said all nukes should be abandoned. In Tokyo, some 200 people rallied outside the Kyushu Electric Co. branch office. Organized by the Metropolitan Coalition Against Nukes, they carried banners saying "Don't put in nuclear fuel!" and "Don't press the start button." http://jen.jiji.com/jc/eng?g=eco&k=2015070700170 -- http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2015/07/07/national/fuel-loaded-kagoshima-reactor-first-restart-nears/#.VZu2vaMw8dU -- http://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/english/news/20150707_16.html -- http://mainichi.jp/english/english/newsselect/news/20150708p2a00m0na013000c.html

  • Nahara residents take umbrage with an Industry Minister’s comment about public concerns over residual contamination. Vice-Minister of Economy, Trade and Industry Yosuke Takagi visited the town on Monday and was questioned about the safety of tap water. He responded that there is no detectible radioactive Cesium in the water, and then added, "People differ in how they think about radiation. I think whether you think [the water source is] safe or not is a psychological issue." One resident said, "That comment makes me lose my desire to go back. Does he intend to say it's people's own fault [that they feel unsafe]?" One evacuee now living in Tokyo, Noboru Endo, said, "We are reminded once again that the government can't be trusted." Endo alleges that he wants to go home, but "Even if the government tells us our tap water is safe, how can we relax? If my generation, who have children, do not return, my hometown will not recover. That's why I want to return, and I want the government to do everything it can to prepare a safe living environment there." The angry residents point to Cesium levels as high as 18,700 Becquerels per kilogram that have been found in the mud at the bottom of the Kido Dam reservoir, a major source of Nahara’s tap water.  http://mainichi.jp/english/english/newsselect/news/20150707p2a00m0na019000c.html

  • Tokyo politicians propose reconsideration of the 40-year lifetime rule for nukes. Law requires that the NRA’s organization be reviewed three years after the agency was in full operation, which would be September, 2016. The ruling Liberal Democratic Party has begun exploration into possible changes to be addressed at that time. A caucus of LDP Diet members concluded that a blanket 40-year operating limit for nukes should be reviewed, and perhaps replaced with limits based on a case-by-case basis. Also, the proposal calls for reconsideration of earthquake fault rulings. Just because a fault runs under a nuke station does not mean it could not safely survive a worst-case temblor. Thus, a special research committee of experts would be better than the current process of the single earthquake expert on the commission making seismic decisions. Finally, the proposal says it might be better to have the NRA made an adjunct of the Prime Minister’s cabinet, rather than an external bureau of the Environment Ministry. http://www.jaif.or.jp/en/group-of-concerned-ldp-lawmakers-proposes-reconsideration-of-40-year-rule-for-reactor-lifetime/

  • The NRA chairman says slow, careful nuclear restart screenings will continue. Chair Shunichi Tanaka made the statement on Wednesday, marking the second anniversary of Japan’s new, stricter safety standards. Screenings are taking place for 25 units across Japan, and only the two units at Sendai station are on the brink of restarting. Tanaka admitted the screenings are generally a time-consuming process, and 10 of the units will probably take more time than the other 15. He explained that seismic evaluations, especially with boiling water reactor systems, are the main reason for the longer time frames. Tanaka added, “The new safety standards have set considerably high standards, so I believe utilities are having to take some time to satisfy those requirements.” When asked about the possibility of extending plant operating licenses beyond 40 years, he said he does not have enough knowledge to say whether or not 40 years is scientifically valid and if a change to that rule is required. http://the-japan-news.com/news/article/0002276652 -- http://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/english/news/nuclear.html

  • Tepco says it will deploy water cannons for emergency use at Kashiwazaki-Kariwa station. The devices will be used to limit release of radioactive materials into the atmosphere which might otherwise drift off the plant’s property. Five cannons, each with a 1,200 ton per hour capacity, will be sent to the K-K station later this month. Tepco got the idea from the rain-out of atmospheric contaminants at Fukushima Daiichi on March 15, 2011, due to rainfall. The water cannons would spray around the unit(s) having an accident to limit off-site releases. http://jen.jiji.com/jc/eng?g=eco&k=2015070900660

  • Sputnik News says Russia will build a new water treatment system to remove Tritium from already-treated F. Daiichi wastewaters. Atomproekt, a subsidiary of Rosatom, has sent initial design documents to the parent company for review. The paperwork addresses land resettlement, architectural solutions, process piping, ventilation and electrical systems. If approved, a demonstration treatment plant will be built.  http://sputniknews.com/science/20150708/1024380744.html

July 6, 2015

  • The lifting of Nahara’s evacuation order is delayed three weeks. Nahara was one of the Fukushima communities entirely evacuated by government order in 2011. It was scheduled to be the first entire municipality to have its restrictions lifted in mid-August. It is now scheduled to occur on September 5th. However, town officials say many residents are not yet ready to return, and asked for Tokyo to delay the date when full repopulation will be allowed. Some citizens said they are concerned about the low levels of contamination that might remain, while others said they are not sure there is enough access to medical services and “other” needs. http://english.kyodonews.jp/news/2015/07/362244.html -- http://mainichi.jp/english/english/newsselect/news/20150706p2g00m0dm077000c.html

  • Sendai unit #1 is scheduled to begin fuel loading in Tuesday. It appears the unit will be the first to return to full, unrestricted operation since the Tokyo-mandated moratorium on nukes was invoked after the F. Daiichi accident. The Nuclear Regulation Authority has completed its pre-operational examinations and has given Kyushu Electric Company the green light to place fuel inside the reactor vessel. The fuel bundles will be moved individually from the adjacent fuel handling and storage building and into the reactor. In all, 157 fuel bundles will be installed over a four day period. The entire process is done under water. After all fuel is loaded, plant operators will test emergency coolant injection systems and operation of control rod drive mechanisms. A nuclear emergency drill will also take place before the unit start-up begins in mid-August. http://ajw.asahi.com/article/0311disaster/fukushima/AJ201507040027 -- http://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/english/news/20150703_36.html

  • Fukushima Prefecture refuses to meet Tokyo on the high level nuclear waste issue. The Industry and Environment Ministry is holding briefings across Japan to explain plans for the disposal of highly radioactive wastes. The meetings have been held with 39 prefectures, but a significant minority of local officials refuse to attend for fear that constituents will take their presence as agreement to host the final repository. Fukushima Prefecture is now officially among the dissenters. Although the meetings only address the process of identifying appropriate candidate sites and waste handling options, Fukushima argues that they already have more than enough of a burden dealing with F. Daiichi decommissioning and temporary storage of rural decontamination materials. http://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/english/news/nuclear.html

  • A ministry-appointed panel criticizes making the high level waste briefings “closed door”. The panel called for full information disclosure, but their request has not been honored. They said that closed door meetings could have a negative impact on the issue with respect to the public. Considering that after 13 years of wide-spread public aversion to the siting of a high level waste repository, it is unknown how holding the briefings behind closed doors could make it any worse. The Industry Ministry said the closed door decision was made to allow local officials to speak freely. Press reports do not identify which ministry the panel reports to. Panel head Hiroya Masuda said Tokyo must convince local officials that attendance does not mean candidacy for their prefecture(s). http://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/english/news/20150703_31.html

July 2, 2015

  • The radioactive water has been removed from the unit #2 equipment tunnels. The tunnels have been slowly filled with cement that sets up and hardens under water, and the displaced water has been t and stored. The removed liquids were run through the Multi-nuclide Removal Facility (ALPS) just like any other contaminated waters. Also, the unit #3 tunnel water removal project nears completion, with Tepco’s graphic depiction showing that three vertical shafts remain to be filled. The unit #2 tunnels had 4,160 tons of the contaminated water in them, and unit #3’s had 5,440 tons. Tepco estimates that about 10,000 tons has flowed through the tunnels since the accident. The Tepco graphic indicates that a much shorter tunnel system for unit #4, which held 690 tons, was completely filled by the end of April. At this point, 93% of all tunnel waters have been removed. http://www.tepco.co.jp/en/press/corp-com/release/2015/1253974_6844.html -- http://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/english/news/nuclear.html -- http://www.tepco.co.jp/en/nu/fukushima-np/handouts/2015/images/handouts_150630_01-e.pdf

  • A “scorpion” robot will examine inside the unit #2 primary containment vessel. It will be used to identify fallen objects and possible damage inside the PCV. The robot is about 21 inches long, 3.5 inches tall, and 3.5 inches wide. It weighs about 11 pounds. The name “scorpion” comes from the robot’s ability to raise its lights and cameras on an arm from the rear of the device. When the arm is fully extended, it resembles a scorpion. Unlike the previous snake-like robots used to study inside the unit #1 PCV, this “scorpion” is built to be self-righting, in case it tips over as it traverses the inner PCV. It is planned to make entry through a piping penetration before the end of August.  http://www.jaif.or.jp/en/toshiba-and-irid-develop-small-robot-to-investigate-fukushima-daiichi-2-pcv-interior/ Unfortunately, the Press inside and outside Japan make the false speculation that the robot is intended to find melted fuel “in the pressure vessel”. This will not be possible since such an inspection would have to be inside the thick concrete “pedestal” supporting the reactor itself. The “scorpion” will only inspect outside the pedestal. Is the Press setting up yet another “failure” agenda when the robot doesn’t see any melted fuel? Only time will tell. Here’s an example of such incorrect reporting from the New York Times… http://www.nytimes.com/aponline/2015/06/30/world/asia/ap-as-japan-nuclear-robot.html?_r=0

  • British nuclear energy expert Malcolm Grimston says Fukushima’s evacuation was not justified. In an August 2014 report, Grimston said, “…the irrational prevention of people from returning to their homes in areas where there was hardly any contamination, turned it [the Fukushima accident] into a serious human tragedy.” He adds, “Ironically, one suspects that the irrational exclusion was adopted in an attempt to reassure people. In reality, there is a demonstrable, dangerous but almost invisible myth that one should 'err on the side of caution' in radiological protection. Any action that is not justified on health grounds - let's say any exclusion from an area which is safer than living in London or Tokyo with all their air pollution - will do more harm than good.” Grimston is Honorary Senior Research Fellow at Imperial College Centre for Energy Policy and Technology. His paper, “Fukushima: The Response was Worse than the event” was published in the Journal of the Atomic Energy Society of Japan, Vol. 57. Here’s the summation Grimston wrote for World Nuclear News, August 26, 2014… http://www.world-nuclear-news.org/e-what-was-deadly-at-fukushima-2608141.html

  • A Tohoku professor is studying slaughtered animals from the Fukushima evacuation zone. Manabu Fukumoto has been examining blood and other remains from domestic cows and pigs, plus wild animals hunted down inside the no-go zone. Over the past four years, he has checked 300 cows, 60 pigs, and 200 monkeys. He explains his reasoning, “Studying animals that lived in areas with high levels of radioactive material will help shed light on how radiation affects people… In fact, they provide us with a wealth of information,” Fukumoto said. He is convinced that “this is the quickest way to resolve questions regarding long-term radiation exposure.” It should be noted that the Press report suggests the reason why this type of research is happening is because “much remains unknown about the long-term health effects of the radioactive substances released.” http://the-japan-news.com/news/article/0002159008

  • Rural radioactive waste will be removed from five Fukushima schools. The Environment Ministry says the materials produced by decontamination efforts at the schools will be moved to the new interim storage facility in July, when students will be off on summer holiday. Officials at the schools have been pressuring the removal of the packaged materials in order to ease student’s concerns. The five schools are elementary schools Kaoru, Asaka Daini, and Takakura in Koriyama, plus Yashirogawa in Tanagura and Yamashiraishi in Asakawa. The materials at the Koriyama schools are buried, and the two other schools have the wastes in bags stacked at various locations on their respective properties. All waste should be gone by the time schools reopen in late August. http://www.fukushimaminponews.com/news.html?id=527

  • Koori students plant grass seedlings to revive their decontaminated schoolyard. The Danzaki Elementary School schoolyard was turned into a lawn under the Fukushima Prefecture’s Utsukushima Green Project in June, 2010. But, when radiation levels increased after the nuclear accident, the upper layer of soil was removed. The stripped underlying soil has remained barren until now. Parents wanted it green again, and the Japan Football Association supplied the seedlings to make it happen. About 350 pupils, parents and guardians, local residents, teachers and others took part the planting. Koori is located just north of Fukushima City, more than 60 kilometers from F. Daiichi.  http://www.fukushimaminponews.com/news.html?id=529

  • Tepco is ordered to compensate a suicide victim’s wife more than $200,000. Kiichi Isozaki of Namie committed suicide in July 2011. He and his wife fled to Koriyama on March 12, 2011, after the Prime Minister ordered an evacuation out to 10 kilometers from F. Daiichi. They stayed in a high school gymnasium, but later moved to another city when Kiichi said he was having trouble sleeping. He left his apartment on July 23, 2011, and was later found dead in an Iitate river. The suit filed by wife Eiko asked for more than $700,000 in damages. The Fukushima District court ruled that the suicide was not the only possible stressor leading to the suicide because he was a diabetic and had been forced to take early retirement before the accident. But the court ruled that the nuke evacuation caused loss of “foundation of his life”, and was 60% responsible for him taking his own life. This is the second suicide-related damages that have been awarded by the Fukushima court. Last August, they awarded $400,000 to the husband of a woman who burned herself to death. http://ajw.asahi.com/article/0311disaster/fukushima/AJ201506300079 -- http://mainichi.jp/english/english/newsselect/news/20150630p2g00m0dm070000c.html

  • The IAEA is reviewing the safety of the world’s largest nuclear power station. The Kashiwazaki-Kariwa facility, Niigata Prefecture, is owned by Tepco. The company needs one or more of the units restarted to recoup at least part of their Fukushima accident losses caused. The International Atomic Energy Agency has sent in a 12 member team to assess the station’s safety level now that most of the upgrades mandated by the Nuclear Regulation Authority have been made. The initial inspections were of the new emergency vehicles, filtered venting technology for depressurization during a prolonged emergency, and the new 15-meter-high break-wall surrounding the station. The team’s report is expected in about three months. http://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/english/news/20150630_32.html -- http://photo.tepco.co.jp/en/date/2015/201506-e/150630-01e.html -- http://mainichi.jp/english/english/newsselect/news/20150701p2g00m0dm082000c.html

 

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