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. (twice weekly; Monday and Thursday)

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April 17, 2014

  • Contaminated equipment washing water has overflowed inside its storage facility. While cleansing a tank from the advanced water decontamination system, ALPS, F. Daiichi workers found water building up outside the washing area. It is estimated that about seven tons of water contaminated by from cleaning the tank overflowed from the containment area, but all of it is confined within the ALPS facility. Tepco estimates the volume of overflow is about 1 ton (1,000 liters). The water contains 6,700 Becquerels per liter of Cesium-137 and a total of 3.8 million Bq/liter of Beta-emitting isotopes. The cause of the incident is being investigated. This did not affect operation of the one ALPS unit operating at the time of the discovery. NHK World; Radioactive water overflows at treatment facility; April 17, 2014 

  • The water pumped to a wrong building has been returned to its system source. Last Friday, Tepco staff thought the water was being pumped to an intended storage building, but the level in that structure actually went down. This indicated the water was going somewhere else. It turned out that four pumps were running that were not supposed to be used during the transfer. About 200 tons of wastewater was incorrectly sent to the incinerator workshop basement instead of the main processing building. The reason these four pumps were running has yet to be determined. No wastewater was lost to the outside environment. Tuesday morning, the company said they are pumping the water in the incinerator basement back to its original location in the waste bunker building. NHK World; TEPCO pumping back contaminated water; April 15, 2014

  • Japan’s Atomic Industrial Forum (JAIF) has posted the reasons why the 3/11/11 tsunami did not cause accidents at three other nuke sites. The three stations are Onagawa (Miyagi Prefecture), Tokai Daini (Ibaraki Prefecture) and Fukushima Daini (10 km south of Fukushima Daiichi). The main reason they escaped the fate of F. Daiichi was because at least one off-site power source and two or more emergency diesels remained intact at each station after the tsunami hit. Thus, none of the three had a complete, prolonged electrical blackout. Onagawa station was in cold shutdown less than 10 hours after the tsunami hit, Tokai Daini just after midnight on March 15, and F. Daini at 7:15am on March 15. For more complete details, click the following link… http://www.jaif.or.jp/english/news_images/pdf/ENGNEWS02_1396588415P.pdf

  • The Asahi Shimbun continues to treat innocuous radiation exposure levels as biologically significant. Japan’s second-largest newspaper now reports that critical radiation exposure estimates for residents returning to their homes was withheld for six months, allegedly to not inhibit people from repopulating the Miyakoji district of Tamura City. Some of the 43 locations surveyed were also in the communities of Kawauchi and Iitate. Decontamination is complete in Kawauchi and repopulation is expected in the near future. The report released by the Cabinet Office on April 15 shows no estimated exposures in excess of 20 millisieverts per year (the criterion for repopulation), but slightly more than half of the monitored locations were in excess of the long-term goal of 1 mSv/yr the Asahi seems to feel should be the repopulation criterion. The government says releasing the data had nothing to do with Miyakoji’s repopulation and the delay in releasing the data gathered last July was because of a disparity between actual readings and estimated exposures taken from monitors carried in aircraft. Tokyo wanted to have the disparity studied by University experts before making the data public. The Asahi tacitly accuses Tokyo of a cover-up because the results were not released before Miyakoji was repopulated. http://ajw.asahi.com/article/0311disaster/fukushima/AJ201404160056  (Comment – this issue was first reported in the Mainichi Shimbun late in March and summarized in our March 27 update. For additional information please go to the “Fukushima Updates #68” which can be accessed through the sitemap at the bottom of this page.)

  • Two former Japanese PMs continue their antinuclear crusade. Undeterred by a crushing election defeat in January, Morihiro Hosokawa and Junichiro Koizumi say they will create a new antinuclear political group with the goal of ending nuclear power in Japan and replacing them with energy efficiency and renewables. They plan to kick it off May 7th with a convention in Tokyo. It is believed the meeting will be entitled “the conference for promoting renewables”. The group itself has yet to be named. Hosokawa and Koizumi will oppose all reactor restarts and promote all local election candidates willing to join their antinuclear bandwagon. They are currently planning town meetings in Niigata, Aomori and Kagoshima Prefectures. Hosokawa said, “I want to support efforts to build the local economy without reliance on nuclear power.” The two PMs also plan on backing an antinuclear candidate for the Fukushima gubernatorial election later this year. In January, Hosokawa placed a distant third (out of ~15 candidates) in the Tokyo gubernatorial election, garnering less than 20% of the ballots cast. The platform was almost entirely antinuclear. An official from Japan’s ruling LDP party says the group should not have significant impact, “They no longer have any clout to significantly sway public opinion.” It is believed the group will first to try and stop the restarts of the two Sendai nuke units in Kagoshima Prefecture, anticipated for later this summer. The Sendai units are expected to be the first nukes restarted under the new Nuclear Regulation Authority rules. http://ajw.asahi.com/article/behind_news/politics/AJ201404150059

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April 14, 2014

  • 638 fuel bundles have been removed from unit #4 spent fuel pool. 616 of the transferred bundles were actual spent fuel and 22 were unused. http://www.tepco.co.jp/en/decommision/index-e.html

  • Resolving radiation anxieties is the key to Fukushima repopulation. The lifting of living constraints for the Miyakoji district of Tamura City marked the beginning of possible resident returns to the exclusion zone. The two primary requirements for repopulation were completion of decontamination projects and reducing annual radiation exposures below 20 millisieverts. The actual radiation levels in Miyakoji are no more than 16% of the 20 mSv/year goal, and similar to readings in locations outside the exclusion zone that were never evacuated. The problem is resident hesitation to return primarily due to radiation fears over these low, biologically-innocuous exposure levels. International expert views on these exposures are virtually unanimous; health risks with doses below 100 mSv/yr are indistinguishable from typical lifestyle habits not connected to radiation exposure. The United Nations most recent report “finds no discernible changes in future cancer rates [of adults] and hereditary diseases are expected due to exposure to radiation as a result of the Fukushima nuclear accident; and, that no increases in the rates of birth defects are expected.” Efforts by the Fukushima Prefecture medical community to quell fears and unfounded rumors have had a positive impact, but the low return rate to Miyakoji shows that it has not nearly been enough. Activist-spurred calls for lowering the repopulation standard to 1 mSv/yr continue to hurt the repopulation effort. There are also other factors affecting repopulation, including a steady prefectural depopulation prior to 3/11/11 and few immediate jobs. http://the-japan-news.com/news/article/0001202646

  • Lack of nuclear energy and radiation education continues in Japanese schools. Only one out of the six approved new science texts for primary schools includes information concerning the Fukushima accident. The problem stems from a complete lack of curriculum fundamentals such as defining “atom” and “radiation”. Another problem is a decidedly negative tone taken by some prospective texts relative to Fukushima and radiation. One editor said, “We could not deal with the issue negatively when our textbook is used in some municipalities hosting a nuclear plant.” The only approved text merely mentions Fukushima and nothing about radiation as dollows, “The earthquake off the Pacific coast of the Tohoku region triggered an accident at a nuclear power plant,” and that effective use of resources is a lesson learned. One publisher tried to add basic radiation information because it is a scientific fundamental, but gave up because “there is no appropriate relation with the [existing] curriculum’s guidelines.” http://japandailypress.com/education-ministry-approves-of-only-1-elementary-school-textbook-mentioning-fukushima-disaster-1147137/ (Comment – This writer has long held that the major reason for Japanese over-reaction to the Fukushima accident and radiation exposure is due to a historical lack of these topics in Japan’s public schools. An old adage holds that “ignorance is bliss”. However, there is nothing blissful about what has happened in Japan since 3/11/11. This latest academic setback will only continue a situation where rumor and fiction hold sway over fact and reason.)

  • Another tank leak occurred at F. Daiichi. On Sunday, Tepco said about a ton of contaminated water escaped a plastic storage tank, but none of it reached the sea because the tank is 700 meters from the shoreline and there are no drainage channels near enough to allow run-off to the ocean. The water in the tank had 1,640 Becquerels per liter of Cesium isotopes 134 and 137, and 1,400 Bq/liter of other Beta-emitting materials. http://jen.jiji.com/jc/eng?g=eco&k=2014041300113  A little over 200 tons of wastewater was pumped to the wrong location. The liquid containing about 37 million Becquerels per liter was incorrectly sent to a building used as an incineration workshop. During routine transfer of water from the waste bunker building to the main processing building on Thursday, water level in the processing building dropped unexpectedly. The inadvertent pumping to the incinerator building was eventually stopped and no loss of contaminated water to the environment occurred. Tepco is investigating the cause. http://jen.jiji.com/jc/eng?g=eco&k=2014041400215

  • Residents of the Sendai station’s host town are eager to get its two Pressurized Water Reactor units restarted. Sendai is some 1,600 kilometers south of F. Daiichi on Kyushu Island. Although no quake or tsunami was experienced by the nuke plants on 3/11/11, Japan’s nation-wide moratorium has idled them for over two years. Most people in host community Satsumasendai are happy that the Nuclear Regulation Authority has placed the station at the top of the list for restart consideration. Resident Hiroya Komatsu says, “I know it [Fukushima] was a horrible accident, but right now I’m more concerned about the economy and my job. We saw it on TV, but it could very well have been the Philippines. It didn’t feel like it was Japan.” The town has received more than $250 million in government subsidies since construction began in 1974, and gets about $25 million added annually to the local economy from refueling and maintenance periods for both units. Satsumasendai was hit hard by a severe economic downturn in the 1980s and the local average income remains at about a fifth of the national average. The nuke moratorium has added to the economic suffering. Hotel owner Daisaku Fukuyama says, “This whole town used to be booked up and you couldn’t get a room even if you made reservations months ahead,” thus many hotels have closed since 3/11/11. http://www.japantoday.com/category/national/view/kyushu-town-rallies-for-nuclear-plant-restart?utm_campaign=jt_newsletter&utm_medium=email&utm_source=jt_newsletter_2014-04-14_PM

  • Japan’s new national energy policy continues to be a Press focus. Most news outlets say it is reinstating nuclear energy, which is a reversal of the prior regime’s plans to eliminate nukes from Japan. However the Yomiuri Shimbun, Japan’s biggest newspaper, says the new policy “takes a realistic stance”. A stable, affordable energy supply is essential to the national recovery from both 3/11/11 and the prior regime’s failed economic policy. It is also vital that the currently poor trade balance be reversed by cutting back on the expensive imports of fossil fuels caused by the nuclear moratorium. Nuclear plants operate both day and night at full power, which is a must for the country’s industrial base. The Yomiuri says, “The plan is appropriate for officially ending the policy line of phasing out nuclear energy that was upheld by the administrations of the Democratic Party of Japan.” http://the-japan-news.com/news/article/0001205376  However, in deference to outcries for a firm statement on the policy’s commitment to a reduction in reliance on nukes, Prime Minister Abe says they will set a ratio of nuclear-to-renewables after all qualifying nukes have been restarted. He stressed that the new policy includes developing an energy-efficient society and doubling of renewable generation, while not building any new nukes. He added that given Japan's increased dependence on natural gas and other fossil fuels, he can't say that Japan will ever completely abandon nuclear power. NHK World; Gov’t to set ratio for nuclear power; April 12, 2014

  • The former mayor of Tokaimura, Ibaraki Prefecture, says the new policy is wrong. He also says the economic benefits of nuke operations to the host communities is an “illusion”. Since retiring in September, Tatsuya Murakami has been lecturing on his antinuclear opinion and joined the Mayors for a Nuclear Free Japan. The group numbers about 90 former and incumbent Mayors from the roughly 470 municipalities in Japan. Murakami says host communities treat nuke operators “just like lords”, while opposing them is a taboo. He believes that so much money comes in from the operating nukes that communities become dependent on it and “as a result, we have failed to cultivate other businesses”. After the Tokiamura reprocessing plant accident in 1999, Murakami began to wonder “how to reconstruct our village”. He added, “We were thrust into notoriety -- Tokaimura was contaminated with radiation and the villagers were not being chosen as marital partners." http://mainichi.jp/english/english/newsselect/news/20140413p2g00m0dm103000c.html (Comment - several other members of the antinuclear mayoral group were cited, but none of the mayors from host communities who are not group members were approached. The practice of non-balance with antinuclear group reports is becoming more and more common in Japan.)

  • A foreign nuclear critic says Japan’s new energy plan is too-little, too-late for nukes. Frenchman Mycle Schneider, who has long followed the no-nukes persuasion, says, “I think it is unavoidable that the Japanese utilities will write off most of their nuclear ‘assets’ and move on. Given the slim realistic prospects for a major nuclear share, the challenge will be flexibility and the whole base-load concept flies out of the window.” http://www.japantoday.com/category/politics/view/japan-approves-energy-plan-reinstating-nuclear-power  (Comment – Schneider’s Fukushima bashing began in March of 2011, soon after the accident. http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2011-03-23/nuclear-cloud-comes-with-aura-of-arrogance-commentary-by-mycle-schneider.html His incessant antinuclear exaggerations using cherry-picked “evidence” have been published since the turn of the century. One of the most revealing news reports showing his anti-Fukushima biases is contained in a CNN piece of 2013. http://globalpublicsquare.blogs.cnn.com/2013/08/30/why-fukushima-is-worse-than-you-think/  He advertises himself as an energy consultant and nuclear analyst, but is clearly no more than a typical antinuclear mouthpiece.)

  • Distrust of the government hampers the gathering of radiation exposure data for the IAEA. Japan’s Foreign Ministry asked 18 local governments for the latest exposure readings from personal dosimetry and whole body scans at hospitals and other community facilities. But half of the communities have declined because they suspect "the effects of radiation exposure on residents' health could be trivialized" and that "it is senseless to request personal information via email." A news media survey found many said "It lacks common sense to request radiation exposure data, which requires careful handling, via email alone," and "The request came in all too sudden and we don't have enough time to sort out the data." http://mainichi.jp/english/english/newsselect/news/20140414p2a00m0na009000c.html (Comment - IMHO, the real reason is that data from dosimeters carried by evacuees who have returned home have shown the actual radiation exposures are much less than prior estimates gleaned from aircraft monitoring. It is quite likely that the IAEA request for actual data will show much the same results. Many Fukushima communities do not want this to happen, especially those affected by Tokyo’s mandated 2011 evacuations. Much lower exposures mean more people allowed to return home, including officials from evacuated towns. Once living restrictions are lifted, a one-year clock begins ticking for the cessation of generous evacuee compensation.)

  • The Vancouver Sun says Fukushima radiation is coming to British Columbia. Ken Buesseler of Woods Hole Oceanographic says that his west coast citizen’s sampling program is being pursued because “No one wanted to take responsibility”. US officials say the concentrations will be so low it will not hurt anyone so they are not checking for Fukushima isotopes. Buesseler said he realized that testing needed to be done when his website’s activity started to “go through the roof” in November of last year when an infamous YouTube video of a beach near San Francisco hit the internet. He said it is a prime example of how unbridled fear of radiation can run rampant and cause widespread anxiety. Buesseler says, “You can be anti-nuclear and you don’t have to scare people about Fukushima. There have been some really awful scaremongering — showing lesions in fish and things that have never been shown to be due to Fukushima. A lot of false and misleading claims, I think, are out there.” The program has 22 citizen-operated and funded sites along the west coast of North and Central America, and another 27 working on raising the money to do it. Each sample costs about $600 to perform, including packaging and postage. The samples are tested for Cesium isotopes. If both Cs-134 and Cs-137 are found to be present, then the sample contains Fukushima radioactive material. The American drinking water standard for Cesium is 7,400 Bq/m3, and Canada’s is 10,000 Bq/m3. Buesseler speculates that detected Cesium from Fukushima will be anywhere from 1-30 Bq/m3 when it reaches the Pacific coast…which it hasn’t, as yet. Buesseler cautions, “I would not be concerned swimming in those waters or eating seafood. I personally don’t have concerns about human health and safety from what the levels are predicted to be. But without measurement, we won’t be able to confirm that level of radioactivity. Since there is debate about doses, even at the lowest levels, it behooves us to get those numbers. Radioactivity can be dangerous — but not at the levels we expect on the west coast of North America.” http://www.vancouversun.com/news/Citizen%20scientists%20prepare%20test%20West%20Coast%20Fukushima%20radiation%20with%20video/9730931/story.html

April 10, 2014

  • Industry Minister says F. Daiichi groundwater releases should begin next month. Toshimitsu Motegi said that since the local Fisheries have agreed to the releases, the “pumping up” of groundwater into storage tanks can begin immediately. The waters will be tested extensively before actual release can happen. The testing is time consuming because some of the radionuclides must be analyzed over extended periods in order to provide confident results at the extremely low levels desired. Tepco has said they will not release unless the waters are below 1 Becquerel per liter of Cs-134 and Cs-137, 5 Bq/liter of “all beta” activity, and 1,500 Bq/liter of Tritium. All of these self-imposed limits are at least 10 times less than national drinking water standards. Testing will also be done by a third party in parallel with Tepco’s staff at F. Daiichi. The water will be removed from 12 wells drilled between the nearby mountains and the damaged buildings at F. Daiichi. Initially, the amount of water to be “pumped up” should lower the groundwater level in the land-side earth by one meter. Tepco will then be able to gauge the effect it will have on seepage into the contaminated building basements of units #1 through #4.  http://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/english/news/20140408_25.html -- http://mainichi.jp/english/english/newsselect/news/20140409p2g00m0dm060000c.html -- http://www.tepco.co.jp/en/press/corp-com/release/2014/1235426_5892.html

  • The Agency for Natural Resources and Energy posted its latest progress report on Fukushima site recovery. Topics in the report are testing of the preliminary frozen earth shield walls, status of the ALPS multi-nuclide removal system, spent fuel bundle transfer out of unit #4, and accident debris removal. http://www.jaif.or.jp/english/news_images/pdf/ENGNEWS01_1396864614P.pdf

  • Severe radiophobia and distrust of the government made a Fukushima family take extreme measures to keep their daughter from the exposure she fears. Thirteen-year-old Kokoro Kamiyama had developed nosebleeds, grown pale and lethargic, and skipped school over anxiety about radiation exposure. She said she was discriminated against by other children who accused her of being radioactive. Her older brother and grandparents thought she was being ridiculous, but her parents eventually decided to send her away. Much of Kokoro’s anxiety seems based on her mother, Yukie, who kept telling her daughter not to believe the government and that no-one really knows the real risks of low level exposure. Yukie still says, “The low-dose radiation is continuing. There is no precedent. We don’t know what effect that will have on our children. I didn’t really believe things are as safe as the government is telling us.” The Mayor of the Nagano ski town Matsumoto had offered to take in children like Kokoro and educate them. Kokoro is one of eight that have been moved to Matsumoto this month to start the new school year. The project is the brainchild of Mayor Akira Sugenoya, a doctor who performed many thyroid-cancer surgeries in Belarus after the 1986 Chernobyl disaster. The Hiroshi Ueki family is also making use of the opportunity. Hiroshi moved his wife and two children to Matsumoto when he became overseer of the project. He says, “The bottom line is: No one knows for sure. What we do know is that the cases of cancer are up, and so naturally we are worried.” Recently, the National Council for Child Health and Development found that one child in four who suffered from the quake/tsunami disaster of 3/11/11 has clinically-diagnosable mental health problems. However, it seems the Matsumoto project is only for the children of Fukushima evacuees. http://www.japantoday.com/category/national/view/fukushima-children-start-school-in-nagano?utm_campaign=jt_newsletter&utm_medium=email&utm_source=jt_newsletter_2014-04-08_AM

  • Many of the evacuees from the newly-unrestricted Miyakoji district are staying away. Twenty-six of the 117 affected families have either returned or are planning on going home. These are mostly elderly people. Most of those reluctant to return are younger families with children or unmarried adults. Some who are not planning to return cite radiation fears and distrust of the situation at F. Daiichi. Others say the reason is a lack of jobs and too little operating infrastructure. One mother named Masumi has moved to Koriyama, which is outside the exclusion zone. She says, “We cannot return to the Miyakoji area. There are few jobs available.” She also commented on the $9,000 lump-sum payment for each returning person designed to stimulate repopulation, “The lump-sum payment won’t lead to future security. It would be much easier to find work in Koriyama, where there are many prospective employers.” http://ajw.asahi.com/article/behind_news/social_affairs/AJ201404090045  (Comment - The Asahi article says there are 800,000 remaining Fukushima refugees, but the actual number is more like 80,000. Is this a typo? Also, the Asahi article makes it seem the only compensation evacuees get is $1,000 per month. This contradicts the Asahi report of October 26th that says the typical family of four gets $30,000 per month in compensation. It also contradicts Tepco’s weekly financial postings on compensation and the more than $1 billion per month in subsidies paid to Tepco by the government to cover the pay-outs. The $1,000 per month compensation is for mental anguish due to the Tokyo-mandated evacuation, per person, in addition to what was already being paid out. This brings the average monthly income per family to about $34,000.)

  • The reason for the latest problem with the ALPS water purifying system is resin failure. About 6 centimeters of compacted resin “chipped off” from one of the filter beds and allowed contaminated water to bypass it. This raised the system outlet contamination level into the millions of Becquerels per liter range. The resin material will be removed and tested. The same materials in the other two operating ALPS systems will also be examined. NHK World; Defect found in water treatment system; April 9, 2014  (Comment – the normally objective NHK World says there is now no prospect of bringing the system into full operation. This seems to be purely speculative and taints the news outlet’s repute.)

  • A filtered vent system at Kashiwazaki-Kariwa station has been tested. The system will strip airborne radioactive materials from depressurization venting should there be an over-pressure condition inside the unit #7 containment. The venting systems at F. Daiichi were not filtered. If they were, the resulting off-site contamination levels would have been greatly reduced and tens of thousands of people would probably not have been forced to evacuate by the government. The test ran nitrogen gas through the system and demonstrated that it flowed as per design. The filtering cylinder in the system measures 8 meters by 4 meters. NHK World; TEPCO tests filtered vent at nuclear plant; April 9, 2014 

  • The Sendai nuclear plants could restart this summer. Kyushu Electric Co. says they will submit the supplementary documents requested by the Nuclear Regulation Authority later this month. The NRA plans to subsequently write a draft report and seek public opinion over the month following Kyushu’s submittal. Barring unforeseen delays, the official approval for restart could be issued by late June, opening the possibility of restarting both Sendai nukes in the summer. http://jen.jiji.com/jc/eng?g=eco&k=2014041000520

  • Radiophobic American sailors have again filed for damages from Tepco. This time it includes 79 persons who want a combined $1 billion. Last year’s initial suit was thrown out of court in San Diego because the allegations of a conspiracy between Tepco and the US Navy were unfounded. The new suit filed in San Diego only names Tepco as culpable. Allegedly, the company lied about conditions at F. Daiichi causing the USS Ronald Reagan to be “blanketed” in high levels of radiation. The Associated Press speculates this has caused “dozens of cancers and a child being born with birth defects.” Tepco has filed a motion to dismiss the suit and has responded that the US Navy would never have relied on a foreign utility to determine the safety of its sailors, “It’s wholly implausible that military commanders in charge of thousands of personnel and armed with some of the world’s most sophisticated equipment, relied instead only on the press releases and public statements of a foreign electric utility company.” http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2014/04/08/national/u-s-sailors-sue-tepco-for-1-billion-over-alleged-radiation-exposure/#.U0PsxqNOUdU

April 7, 2014 

  • As of this morning, 594 fuel bundles have been safely transferred out of unit #4 fuel pool. There are now less than 1,000 of the original 1533 fuel bundles remaining in the #4 spent fuel pool. http://www.tepco.co.jp/en/decommision/index-e.html

  • Tepco has revealed the new head of the Fukushima decommissioning company. He is Naohiro Masuda and is now in charge of the "Fukushima Daiichi Decontamination and Decommissioning (D & D) Engineering Company". Masuda was the station manager at Fukushima Daini at the time of the 3/11/11 Great east Japan Earthquake and Tsunami. Tepco says his decisive actions at F. Daini prevented a nuclear accident after the site was struck by a nine meter-high tsunami. Upon accepting the position, Masuda said, "I take this role with full awareness of the great responsibility we have to the people of Fukushima, Japan, and the world to pursue this work diligently and safely through to its conclusion, no matter how long it may take." He added that solving the wastewater problems at F. Daiichi will be his first priority and he will seek input from "both international and domestic experts". Masuda added that he will address concerns about contractors and subcontractors. http://www.tepco.co.jp/en/press/corp-com/release/2014/1235345_5892.html

  • Tepco has formally agreed to all local Fishery requirements for groundwater discharge. The agreement includes clear standards for discharge and operation, independent verification of data, broad public communication on discharge safety, and compensation for fishermen who may be harmed by rumors. For example, the company says released water will have less than 1 Becquerel per liter of Cesium-134, which is a tenth the international drinking water standard. Tepco president Naomi Hirose said, "This is an important agreement that demonstrates our commitment to working with the Fukushima community, and the fishermen in particular, to move forward together in an environmentally responsible way." American Fukushima consultant Dale Klein says, "It is gratifying to see the fishermen and TEPCO reach agreement on this important step, which will protect the environment, ease the stress on water storage, and lay the groundwork for important improvements in water management at Fukushima." By discharging groundwater before it comes in contact with contaminated basements, Tepco believes that in-seepage to the buildings will drop from 400 tons/day down to 300 tons/day. http://www.tepco.co.jp/en/press/corp-com/release/2014/1235388_5892.html  (This link includes another link explaining the bypass system to be used.)

  • Tepco says they will nearly double their wastewater storage capacity by next March. This will be a year sooner than originally planned. The capacity will be expanded from the current 480,000 tons to 800,000 tons. The accelerated plan is said to be possible because tanks are now prefabricated at the manufacturing sites and carried to F. Daiichi by ship. Tepco also feels they have devised more efficient ways to build tanks inside the compound when needed. The company adds that they expect the amount of contaminated water will be less than the maximum storage capacity by 2016. NHK World; TEPCO to add more water storage tanks by March 31; April 5, 2014

  • Tokyo will designated at least two universities to research F. Daiichi decommissioning. Students and staff from the schools will work out of a base facility at F. Daiichi beginning in 2015. The International Research Institute for Nuclear Decommissioning (IRID) will lead the research on recovery of melted fuel from reactors 1 through 3 by remote control and how to dismantle the technology. The plans include accommodations for researchers to stay overnight when needed. There has been a noticeable decline in applications for nuclear courses in Japan since the Fukushima accident and Tokyo hopes this new program will reverse the trend. An Education, Science and Technology Minister says, “By gathering the knowledge and wisdom of plant operators, manufacturers and universities, we hope to accomplish the decommissioning work successfully.” http://the-japan-news.com/news/article/0001189927

  • Japan’s ruling coalition has approved Japan’s new energy policy. Thursday’s announcement marks Japan’s first official energy strategy since 3/11/11. The policy calls for renewables to account for about 20% of the nation’s electricity generation by 2030. In addition, the policy confirms that nuclear will remain an important power source for the near future. However, much of Japan’s news media doubts that the current regime in Tokyo will actually make the move away from nuclear. http://japandailypress.com/japans-ruling-coalition-agree-to-draft-of-energy-policy-0546853/

  • Futaba town reopened school for resident children today, albeit in the city of Iwate. Junior High and elementary students from Futaba may now return to school with their evacuee classmates for the first time since the mandated evacuation in the spring of 2011. Only 11 of the more than 600 possible Futaba students attended on opening day: one kindergartener, four elementary and six junior high students. The low attendance is attributed to parents concerned about the effects of long-term low level radiation exposure and ongoing problems at F. Daiichi broadcast by the popular Press. Also today, Furumichi Elementary in Tamura City reopened for the first time since 2011’s evacuation. 61 of 151 possible students attended on the first day, including four from the Miyakogi district which had all living restrictions removed about a week ago. Local residents held a banner saying “welcome back”.  http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2014/04/07/national/futaba-school-ceremonies-restarted-2/#.U0KYjaNOUdU -- http://japandailypress.com/fukushima-elementary-school-opens-as-radiation-evacuation-order-is-lifted-for-the-first-time-0746913/ 

  • The Reconstruction Agency has bought land for 3,741 evacuee housing units. This is a major portion of a project totaling nearly 4,900 units. The remaining land for nearly 1,500 units is expected to be purchased by September. The money will come from community revival subsidies through the Agency. The new homes will be built in Iwaki and Fukushima Cities for evacuees who have filed applications for permanent relocation. http://www.fukushimaminponews.com/news.html?id=329

  • 83% of Fukushima residents doubt that the government will ever dispose of rural radioactive waste outside the prefecture. 72% say legislation should be passed to ensure that Tokyo’s promises will be carried out. On the other hand, 5% said they were not concerned about the government meeting its commitment. Tokyo has designated Okuma and Futaba communities for temporary storage of rural low level wastes, promising to have it all moved to a permanent location elsewhere in Japan within 30 years. It seems the majority of Fukushima residents don’t think this will happen and want the government to be legally bound to their promises.  http://www.fukushimaminponews.com/news.html?id=328

  • No problems with anti-quake and tsunami measures have been found with the Sendai station. Sendai has two Pressurized Water Reactor units in Kagoshima Prefecture, on the southern tip of Kyushu Island and more than 400 kilometers south of Tokyo. The two-unit station has been prioritized by the Nuclear Regulation Authority as the first to be fully screened for restart. NRA Commissioner Kunihiko Shimazaki and his 14 member team inspected the Kyushu Electric Power Company plant on Thursday. They looked at the geology under the station and inspected the barriers under construction to protect against a worst-case tsunami. The team found nothing that would cause a change in the NRA’s initial assessment that the station meets the new regulations. After the NRA approves Kyushu Electric’s request for restart, the agency will seek hold local public hearings. NHK World; No problem found with Sendai nuclear plant; April 5, 2014

  • Tokyo says they will investigate into development of domestic, high-temperature gas-cooled reactors. Potential advantages over the current fleet of light water reactors include use of heat-resistant ceramic fuel pellets which are thought to make them less susceptible to meltdowns. Japan began research into gas-cooled reactors in the 1990s and built a test facility in Oarai, Ibaraki Prefecture. Tokyo says the plants could be built inland rather than on the seacoasts because Helium is used as a cooling medium instead of water. This would eliminate tsunami risks. http://the-japan-news.com/news/article/0001182327

April 3, 2014

  • All living restrictions have been lifted for Miyakoji district, Tamura, inside the “no-go zone”. This is the first complete reopening of any location inside the Fukushima exclusion zone since Tokyo mandated evacuations in the spring of 2011. The change means more than 350 residents can now return without restrictions…if they want to. NHK World reports that more than half will not take advantage of the opportunity because of radiation fears. However, the reported radiation levels (1-5 millisieverts per year) are well-below what the World Health Organization says is a threshold for cancer increases in populations (100 mSv/yr). Regardless, most Japanese Press has spent little copy space on the people who are relieved to be returning, and instead focuses on those who are afraid or angry. One reason for reluctance seems to be the prospect of losing their monthly compensation one year after evacuation orders are lifted. Edwin Lyman of the Union for Concerned Scientists believes Miyakoji was reopened before cleanup was complete and the government is just trying to save money, “People should not be forced to make a choice between losing their homes and not being compensated, and moving back to a region that’s still more radioactive than it was before the accident.” One angry returnee, Kazuhiro Tsuboi, says the returnee stipend of $9000 per person is a ploy, "Those who stood against the lifting of the evacuation order were told 'Do you want to get more money?'" He added that, as far as he knew, only 12 of the more than 170 households were returning.  To date, some $15 billion has been paid to the 85,000 evacuees and nearly $17 billion to corporations and property owners. But, not all of the Miyakoji returnees are upset. Returnee Kyoji Konnai is thrilled to be back to an unrestricted life in his own home, and celebrated over dinner with his wife, Fukiko, and three elementary school-age grandchildren. Fukiko said, "I feel more comfortable here than at temporary housing." However, the Asahi Shimbun points out that the order is “affecting only about 360 people, 0.4% of the total population from the evacuation designation zones”, which the paper says is about 80,000. The Asahi believes many are not returning because they “have become acclimated to their lives in evacuation shelters”. The government also wants to rescind evacuation orders in Kawauchi, home to 276 people, in late July, and subsequently with the municipalities of Katsurao, Nahara, Iitate, Minami-Soma and Kawamata.  http://www.japantoday.com/category/national/view/residents-allowed-to-return-to-town-near-fukushima-plant?utm_campaign=jt_newsletter&utm_medium=email&utm_source=jt_newsletter_2014-04-01_AM –- NHK World; Evacuation order lifted, but majority to stay away; April 1, 2014 -- http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/energy/2014/04/140402-fukushima-return-radiation/ -- http://mainichi.jp/english/english/newsselect/news/20140401p2a00m0na012000c.html -- http://mainichi.jp/english/english/newsselect/news/20140401p2a00m0na009000c.html -- http://ajw.asahi.com/article/0311disaster/recovery/AJ201404010052

  • Tokyo says decontamination is completed in three more municipalities inside the no-go zone. Environment Minister Nobuteru Ishihara says that the government has finished the work in the towns of Okuma and Naraha and the village of Kawauchi. Of the 11 municipalities inside the exclusion zone, four have now been decontaminated. Six of the remaining communities are scheduled to be decontaminated by 2017. Only Futaba Town, which has numerous hot spots at or exceeding 50 mSv/year, is not expected to be cleaned up enough for repopulation in three years. NHK World; Decontamination completed in 3 Fukushima towns; April 1, 2014 

  • The Mainichi Shimbun reports that Tokyo is trying to save money. The Mainichi posts, “The government is set to make all-out efforts to lift its evacuation orders for municipalities in Fukushima Prefecture as quickly as possible in a bid to hold down the amounts of compensation for damages.” They base this speculation on a statement by Reconstruction Minister Takumi Nemoto, who stated, "There is a need for us to use all our resources to lift evacuation orders for as many areas as possible where people can return home early”, combined with the removal of living restrictions at Miyakoji, the same being planned for Kawauchi this summer, and future plans for Katsurao, Nahara, Iitate, Minami-Soma and Kawamata. A Katsurao official is quoted as being against Tokyo’s projections, "For those municipalities that were forced to evacuate in their entirety, the longer the evacuation period becomes, the longer it will take to reconstruct them. It is too hasty and unrealistic to think they will be restored in one year and discontinue (compensation payments)." An Iitate official says plans to repopulate in 2015 are too optimistic and should be pushed back to 2016. Regardless, The Mainichi report only refers to the $1,000 per month mental anguish compensation which would terminate one year after the restrictions are lifted as the government’s savings; a total of $80 million per month. The report fails to mention the fact that each of the 80,000 remaining evacuees is also getting $7,500 per month in “evacuation compensation”, and homeowners are receiving a similar stipend for property compensation. http://mainichi.jp/english/english/newsselect/news/20140402p2a00m0na011000c.html

  • The UN’s prestigious radiation panel says there are no increases in cancer due to Fukushima.  Since all exposures were less than the 100 millisievert exposure threshold for cancer induction, there have probably been none. The Scientific Committee on the Effects of Atomic Radiation (UNSCEAR) adds the recent discovery of numerous thyroid gland anomalies in Fukushima children are unrelated to the nuke accident. This includes young children and those in utero at the time of the accident. The report points out that Japan has a 35% rate of cancer incidence in the population at-large, and if there were any cancers due to Fukushima the number would be so low that it would not show up. UNSCEAR also says that while there may have been about 6,000 child thyroid cancers after Chernobyl, exposures to Fukushima children were 5-30 times lower than what occurred in the Ukraine and Belarus. In a statement accompanying their report, UNSCEAR says, “No discernible changes in future cancer rates and hereditary diseases are expected due to exposure to radiation as a result of the Fukushima nuclear accident. The occurrence of a large number of radiation-induced thyroid cancers as were observed after Chernobyl can be discounted because doses were substantially lower.” With respect to repopulation, Wolfgang Weiss, who chaired the assessment, said, “The risk is low. Continue life. Don’t be scared.” http://www.unscear.org/docs/reports/2013/13-85418_Report_2013_Annex_A.pdf  

  • Reuters says Japan may only be able to restart a third of their idled nukes. Former Japan Atomic Energy Agency Chairman Tatsujiro Suzuki said the Reuter’s speculation is “a very good guess”. The article says that restarting 17 nukes would be sufficient to turn around Japan’s balance of trade that has been circling the drain since former-PM Naoto Kan’s nuke moratorium began. Reuters cites Jeff Kingston of Temple University who believes restarting the newest Japanese nukes may be a maneuver to get many, many more back on the grid, "I think the government is incredibly clever by doing the restarts in the most modern, advanced places that have the most local support and are yet far from centers of political activity. Then you use that to create momentum for the agenda of restarting as many reactors as possible." Reuter’s prediction on restarts is based on a perceived public disdain for nukes after the Fukushima accident, communities balking at making 30 kilometer evacuation plans, earthquake faults, and the 40 year licensing lifetime now in vogue. http://www.reuters.com/article/2014/04/02/us-japan-nuclear-restarts-insight-idUSBREA3020020140402

  • Two Japanese utilities have applied to Tokyo for money to stem severe negative cash flow. Hokkaido and Kyushu Electric Companies say they each need a large capital injection to off-set their losses due to Tokyo’s moratorium on nukes. Utilities with idled nukes have been forced to burn expensive fossil fuels for power generation and report a third year of net losses. Kyushu spokesman Yuki Hirano said, “We are in consultations with the Development Bank of Japan about receiving capital support, but since nothing has been decided I am unable to comment further.” His company wants the bank to buy $1 billion of its preferred stock to offset last year’s $1.25 billion losses, and Hokkaido Electric wants to sell the bank $500 million in preferred stock to offset theirs. http://www.japantoday.com/category/national/view/kyushu-electric-becomes-2nd-nuclear-operator-to-seek-govt-aid -- http://english.kyodonews.jp/news/2014/04/282475.html

  • Tepco has posted the latest radioactivity levels for the groundwater and seawater at F. Daiichi. Several points should be emphasized. First all groundwater and barricaded inner harbor analyses have been steadily this year. Next, all inner harbor analyses between the silt fences and seawater intake structures are now below the strict limits set by the government. Further, only three of the harbor (inside the break-wall) samples show barely-detectible Cesium 137, and no Cesium-134. This disparity should put the source of the detectible Cs-137 in question since Fukushima-based material should show both isotopes, and not only one. It is possible that what is being seen is residual Cs-137 from nuclear weapon’s tests in the pacific more than 50 years ago. Finally, all highest readings recorded at each sampling point, including their specific dates, are recorded at the end of the below link, which should be used for comparison to the most recent results. http://www.tepco.co.jp/en/nu/fukushima-np/f1/smp/2014/images/2tb-east_14040101-e.pdf

  • Hokkaido’s Hakodate City has filed an injunction to stop nuclear construction in neighboring Aomori Prefecture. The project in question is the new Ohma nuke, located 23 kilometers south of Hakodate across the Tsugaru Straight, which will use mixed-oxide fuel. The injunction says the new Tokyo regulations cannot absolutely assure safety and an accident at Ohma would cause the city to no longer function. This is the first filing against nuclear construction in Japan. Japan’s Nuclear Regulation Authority won’t comment on the suit’s allegation that new regulations are inadequate. NHK World; City files for injunction against nuclear plant; April 3, 2014 -- http://english.kyodonews.jp/news/2014/04/283003.html

  • The NRA has sent a 14-member team to inspect the two Sendai units in Kagoshima for restart. They will be visually verifying upgraded earthquake and tsunami protection. The NRA recently approved Kyushu Electric’s report saying a quake could cause acceleration of 620 gals and a maximum tsunami would be seven meters high. The plant was originally built to withstand a quake movement of 540 gals and a tsunami of 5.2 meters. Among the upgrades to be inspected is a new sea wall being built to a height of 15 meters. The Sendai station has been prioritized by the NRA for restart consideration. http://jen.jiji.com/jc/eng?g=eco&k=2014040300437

 

  

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