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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 a nuclear disaster. (Updates are posted twice weekly; Monday and Thursday)

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November 23, 2015

  • The Strontium level in Fukushima soils and crops is very low. Of the ten locations tested, the highest was 4.7 Becquerels per kilogram in soils, and 0.31 Bq/kg in crops. The United Nation’s Food and Agricultural Organization-recommended limit on Sr-90 in foods is 20 Bq/kg. Belarus has a much more limiting standard of 0.37 Bq/kg. Thus, the concentration found in Fukushima foods is below even the most restrictive standard in the world. Hirofumi Tsukada, professor at Fukushima University’s Institute of Environmental Radioactivity, released this important finding. He said, “This shows that the landward impact of strontium-90 from the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant accident was not that big.” -- (Comment - It is important to note that the FAO standard is based on the ridiculously conservative assumption that all foods consumed contain the Sr-90 limit, and no other foods are consumed, over a one year period. Also taken into account is Sr-90 accumulation, based on its biological half-life of 680 days; i.e. 1.86 years. This would result in an estimated internal exposure of ~5 millisieverts per year, so long as the rate of intake remains constant. Japan’s guideline/goal is to keep internal exposures below 1 mSv/yr.)

  • F. Daiichi’s subdrain operation is lowering inflow to F. Daiichi basements. One of the groundwater in-leakage points (a cable duct) for unit #1’s turbine building has stopped flowing. The in-flow seems to have been intermittent for some time, but could not be confirmed as terminated until Nov. 12th. Tepco says the stoppage is due to the operation of the subdrain system which pumps groundwater out of the ground before it comes in contact with the turbine basement walls. This indicates that the 300 ton/day in-leakage rate is dropping, but exactly how much has not been determined. There are other in-leakage points that need to be monitored before any firm conclusions can be drawn.

  • Tepco’s latest posting of outdoor area radiation levels at F. Daiichi. The linked graphic shows area radiation readings since April, 2014, for key locations outside units 1 through 4. There is a general trend of decreasing levels through October, 2015, with all but a few locations now showing much less than 1 millisievert per hour.

  • Communities battle over lightly contaminated pasture grass. Shiroishi City, Miyagi Prefecture, has been giving grass with detectible levels of contamination, below Japan’s national standard of 8,000 Becquerels per kilogram, to a cattle farm in Namie, Fukushima Prefecture. It was intended to be used as feed for the farm’s 330 cattle rescued from the Fukushima exclusion zone. Farmer Masami Yoshizawa accepted the grass bales, but it appears he found some contained more than 100 Bq/kg and he could not be used for cattle feed. Mayor Tamotsu Baba of Namie handed a written complaint to Toru Sasaki, the Shiroishi deputy mayor, saying the city's action “lacked consideration” for the sentiments of Namie residents. Sasaki’s responded, “It was a humanitarian act aimed at assisting farmers and stock farms.” An ancillary reason was that local residents opposed incineration of the grass due to radiation fears, so giving it away seemed to be a reasonable alternative. The Farm Ministry and Miyagi government ordered the shipments to stop on Nov. 18 because could spread misinformation.

November 19, 2015

  • Radioactive Cesium in fish caught near F. Daiichi continues to dwindle. Of the more than seventy specimens taken in October, only five showed any Cesium isotope 134, the “fingerprint” for F. Daiichi contamination in the Pacific Ocean. The highest Cs-134 concentration was with a Banded Dogfish, at 8.3 Becquerels per kilogram. Half of the sampled fish had detectible levels of Cs-137 in them, but all were well below Japan’s limit of 100 Bq/kg. The highest Cs-137 concentration was in the same Banded Dogfish (above) at 35 Bq/kg. Cs-137 is residual from nuclear weapon’s testing in the South Pacific six decades ago, and the Cs-134 produced by the blasts has long-since decayed away to nothing.

  • Seven of the nineteen fish caught inside the F. Daiichi break-wall had the Cs-134 isotope in them. Only five of them showed Cesium concentrations above 100 Bq/kg Japanese standard. The fish were caught in October. This is a huge reduction with respect to fish inside the break-wall since 2011.

  • Sendai unit #2 achieves commercial operation status. The unit successfully completed an integrated performance test by the Nuclear Regulation Authority, during which its operation was adjusted over a period of several weeks. NRA inspectors finished the final pre-commercial checks on Tuesday, including reactor temperature, steam generator operation, and key equipment performance. At 4pm, the NRA signed-off on certification that no abnormalities had been found and the plant could resume commercial status. Sendai unit #2 had been idled by Tokyo mandate for more than four years. --

  • A new radiation monitoring center opens in Minamisoma. Its goal is to provide an independent, round-the-clock source of radiation data concerning Fukushima Daiichi. The program is affiliated with the Fukushima Prefectural Center for Environmental Creation, located in coastal Minamisoma. Fukushima Governor Masao Uchibori said, “The center will conduct more minute and precise radiation monitoring and release accurate data to the public to dispel the anxiety of Fukushima residents and negative publicity [about radioactive contamination].” In addition to general radiation readings, the center will monitor airborne activity levels and conduct systematic soil sampling around F. Daiichi. It will be run by prefectural officials and about 15 people from Japan’s Atomic Energy Agency. (Comment - IMHO, if they think this will somehow dispel radiation anxieties and negative publicity about Fukushima contamination, they are living in a dream world. Trying to overcome eight decades of radiophobia spawned by the Hiroshima Syndrome, with a facility run by the prefecture is, unfortunately, doomed. It may diminish the level of radiophobia to some degree, but it will remain a significant problem, nonetheless. I wish them the best of luck, but I am pessimistic.)

  • NIMBY further constipates Japan’s nuclear waste disposal plans. The Environmental Ministry has announced it will not begin on-site environmental surveys for a possible radioactive waste repository in Miyagi Prefecture this year. The Ministry has sent people to the three candidate sites for more than a month, but each time was stopped by blockades set up by NIMBY (Not In My Back Yard) activists and sympathetic local officials. Minister Shinji Inoue says he will schedule meetings with local mayors to try and achieve some level of local understanding. Miyagi Governor Yoshihiro Murai says the problem is not local understanding, but rather because of a lack of Ministry leadership. The center of local activism is the town of Kami, one of the three candidate locations. Two other candidate towns say they might rescind their tentative offers to host the repository unless the ministry runs the pre-siting surveys by the end of the year. This is the second year in a row that the ministry has delayed environmental testing due to NIMBY obstructionism. --

  • The Canadian antinuclear zealot who made death threats goes to court. On Nov. 6th, he was charged with two counts of criminal harassment for posting videos where he threatened researchers Ken Buesseler of Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution in Massachusetts and Professor Jay Cullen of Victoria University in British Columbia. A third person who studies the Pacific Ocean has also been threatened, but declined identification. Buessler and Cullen have not commented on the case, but British journalist and former antinuclear activist Mark Lynas says harassment of this type from antinuclear hotheads is “all too common…This extreme is where the environmental movement goes pathological. Some activists are so ideologically blinkered in their attitude to things like nuclear power that in essence their worldview is faith-based, and they cannot conceive of the possibility of any scientific evidence challenging their worldview.” In one video, the fanatic said, “Every university, every academic, every nuclear scientist will be hunted down and f***ing murdered. We want you dead…They are liars; they are mass murderers; they are the most disgusting part of our society.” He is adamant that there is a powerful international conspiracy between corporations and academics to cover up radioactive damage from the Fukushima plant in the oceans off Canada. He contends that he is merely “exposing people for committing crimes. How am I the bad person?”

November 16, 2015

  • No Fukushima Cesium has been detected at Ucluelet, British Columbia, since May. The first traces of Fukushima accident-related Cesium were detected at Ucluelet on May 7th, but none has appeared since. Fukushima InFORM speculates the disappearance of the radioactive Cesium along the shoreline is due to estuarine fresh waters flowing over top of the denser salt waters. In addition, radioisotopic concentrations for various fish have been posted by InFORM along the coast from Nass River to Victoria. Species include Steelhead Trout and Chinook, Sockeye, & Coho salmons. All Cesium-137 levels were below 0.3 Becquerels per kilogram, with most having less than 0.1 Bq/kg. There was no detectible Cs-134 in any of the fish, thus the traces were not from Fukushima. Cs-134 is the indicator isotope for distinguishing Fukushima Cesium from post-WWII bomb-testing Cesium. Interestingly, the naturally-occurring concentrations of radioactive Potassium-40 varied between 134-168 Bq/kg! Potassium and Cesium have the same chemical properties…they are both generally recognized as “muscle seekers”. Both Cs-137 and K-40 are Beta and Gamma radiation emitters. Cs-137’s Beta is 60% weaker than K-40’s, and Cs-137’s Gamma is 50% weaker then K-40’s.

  • Japan’s largest newspaper says F. Daiichi’s new impermeable wall should revive the Fukushima fish industry. The wall was completed October 26th, dropping the assumed contaminated groundwater outflow to 10 tons per day. By Nov. 5, inner port (quay) waters had shown a considerable drop in isotopic concentrations. The Yomiuri Shimbun (Japan News) says “Concentration levels of radioactive substances in the sea outside the port area have now fallen to within the government-set standards for acceptable drinking water. At spots close to the port revetment [wall], concentration levels of all kinds of radioactive substances have also been falling markedly since the completion of the impermeable wall. These developments will probably be conducive to helping reinvigorate the local fisheries industry, which has been afflicted with harmful rumors.” But, the Yomiuri admits that the local fisheries are not as optimistic. The Yomiuri thus calls for Tepco and Tokyo to spread information on the wall’s closure, and its positive impact, “both at home and abroad”. The newspaper also addresses the constant build-up of purified waste waters, saying, “It is considered realistic to drain the purified water into the sea just as other nuclear-related facilities have been doing so.”

  • 59 Fukushima communities have filed for nearly $450 million in municipal compensation, but only about $50 million has been paid. The largest claim, $160 million, is from Futaba, co-host to F. Daiichi station. The next three are Koriyama ($58 million), Fukushima City (nearly $50 million), and Iwaki City ($29 million). The municipalities claim the evacuations greatly reduced their populations, causing tax revenues to drop dramatically. The communities feel Tepco is dragging its feet on their demands. The town of Tomioka is anticipating repopulation, but the lag in compensation payments is making it difficult. Its Press release says, “We are working on rebuilding local facilities ahead of residents’ return. But the money is not being paid and we are struggling to secure revenue.” Some municipalities are filing with Tokyo for alternative dispute resolution. But, most are waiting to see how the ADR process works because it was set up to address individual claims, and for those filed by municipalities.   

  • Most residents near Sendai station have iodine pills. Two Sendai units are in full operation. Potassium Iodide helps to prevent the thyroid gland from absorbing radioactive Iodine from a nuclear accident. However, Tokyo doesn’t want them given to people who have not been informed of the medication’s possible side effects. On Sunday, about 100 people attended a local distribution event, were advised by doctors, and got their KI pills. To date, about 3,000 of the 4,350 who live within 5km of Sendai station have received the KI. Local officials say some residents are hesitant to get their pills because they are confused on their use.

  • The nuke plant emergency control room deadline is extended. As an anti-terrorism measure, the Nuclear Regulation Authority mandated the installation of back-up control rooms in 2013. The NRA initially wanted all potentially restarted nukes to have them completed in 2018. This deadline has been modified to allow a time limit of up to five years after restart (for idled units) or construction (for new units). The emergency operating facilities are intended to be used if terrorists take over the main control room. The back-up controls are intended to maintain reactor fuel cooling functions. The facility must be located at least 100 meters from the main control room. Only five units at three stations have filed plans for the back-up canters. The NRA says this is probably because the utilities are focusing on meeting the new safety requirements for restarts. The new deadline means the two recently-restarted Sendai units have until 2020 to complete their back-up facilities, instead of 2018.

November 12, 2015

  • Test fishing near F. Daiichi shows little or no radioactive Cesium. An independent Iwaki group of aquarium employees have been running an independent monitoring program for Fukushima isotopes in fish caught as close to F. Daiichi as the law allows. Junichi Yagi, Iwaki aquarium worker, has been catching and testing fish for radioactivity since the nuke accident. But, he was not finding the contamination levels reported in the Press. He began a group effort in 2013, explaining, “I had been frustrated over my inability to counter an argument with data we took on our own that the sea we loved has been contaminated.” They have one fishing excursion every month, weather permitting. In August, 21 people participated. They first stopped 1.5km from the nuke station to gather sea-bed samples, but no fish were caught due to a pact made between Tepco and the local fisheries in 1966. They then moved to the allowed 2km distance and threw their lines in the water. The group caught several species, including flounder and rock trout. After catching a sufficient number for analysis, they returned to the Iwaki facility; Aquamarine Fukushima. Rock trout is a species currently prohibited from being marketed, but the ones caught on this day had no detectible radioactive contamination in them. One white rockfish measured the highest at 59 Becquerels per kilogram, which is below the national standard of 100 Bq/kg. The entire process was open to the public, and some locals were there to check things out. A mother from Nagano Prefecture was visiting the aquarium with family and said, “I now know that its sea is gradually recovering. Seeing with my own eyes the contamination level of the fish checked convinced me of this." Yagi says he hopes the team’s efforts will help people understand the actual situation with fish caught off Fukushima Prefecture.

  • The workman’s compensation award to an F. Daiichi welder is affecting other nuke workers. The award criterion of 5 millisievert exposure in a year has caused some current and former nuclear workers to question the safety of their 50 mSv/year and 100 mSv/5-years occupational limits. A 65-year-old Minamisoma decontamination worker said, “I was shocked when I heard the decision to recognize the disease as work-related. Although up to 50 mSv a year is said to be safe, the criterion for recognizing [exposure] as an industrial accident is five mSv a year. The gap, a difference of 10 times, makes me anxious about whether the exposure limit is correct. I want the government to explain in a way that is also understandable for workers at the sites.” When criteria for recognizing work-related diseases and injuries were established in 1976, there was virtually no scientific data in Japan about the long-term effects of low-dose radiation exposure. In other words, the radiation exposure criterion was essentially a speculation written into the statute. Kunio Sakai, a professor emeritus of radiology at Niigata University, says, “The criterion does not mean that people will surely develop leukemia if they are exposed to five mSv or higher a year. It is unlikely that the same kind of cases will occur one after another in the future.” Since 3/11/11, the government has extended special monitoring of the health of workers who have had greater than 50 mSv exposure…a total of about 900 individuals. The Yomiuri Shimbun says the government needs to inform workers at nuclear facilities of the system in order to prevent future workman’s comp awards from causing needless fear and confusion.

  • The children of quake and tsunami victims have their education paid through donations. The funds are being disbursed in three prefectures; Miyagi, Iwate, and Fukushima. The prefectures began a fund-raising drive soon after the massive natural calamity, hoping to raise about 3.5 billion yen each. They have actually accrued much more than that. Miyagi alone has nearly 9 billion yen (~ $70, million) from 12,700 donations. Children who were orphaned or lost one parent in the natural disaster are eligible to receive a monthly cash payment as a scholarship grant. Each elementary and junior high student gets 10,000 yen per month, high schoolers 20,000 yen/month, and college students get 30,000 yen/mo. A lump sum bonus of 100,000-600,000 yen is available upon graduation. A child too young for school before the disaster can be funded for up to 16 years. There is more than enough to cover the stipends, but there is also a lot of extra money. The question is what to do with it. It was donated specifically for educational purposes, so it should be spent accordingly. Iwate Prefecture has had 7.74 billion yen donated, and Fukushima Prefecture 7.56 billion yen. Miyagi has 1,064 eligible students, Iwate 583, and Fukushima 198.

  • Candidates for the Namie mayoralty complain of election problems. Of the 16,000 eligible voters, 4,000 live in 44 prefectures other than Fukushima. This makes it difficult for candidates to communicate with one-fourth of the eligible voters. In order to accommodate the complaints, the election commission has extended the official campaign period ten days. The town’s government has the evacuation addresses on file, but official policy will not allow them being shared with campaign staff. The candidates have little more than the internet to use as a tool for campaigning. Many estranged Namie evacuees try to stay informed through the town website, but there is no way to know how many have not used the web.  (Comment – News media polls show that a third of Fukushima’s Tokyo-mandated evacuees have no intention of repopulating, and another third say they are undecided. Most of those who say they will not return live outside Fukushima Prefecture. We suggest that Namie post a poll of for its evacuees on the town website and have the responders include their names. Make it clear that those with no intention of repopulating will no longer be allowed to vote in town elections, but the response will not affect their generous compensation packages.)

November 9, 2015

  • Two Japanese news services post good news about F. Daiichi. NHK World and Fukushima Minpo have reported on the completion of the near-shore, impermeable barrier and its dramatic effect on the flow of contaminated groundwater seeping into the Pacific Ocean. It is about time! We reported on the completion and sealing of the “steel wall” on October 26th. We also posted the before-and-after differences with contamination levels in the inner port (quay) in our November 5th update. Two of Japan’s Press outlets finally came on board with this important milestone on Friday. Unfortunately, no other Japanese news outlet has covered it, and the number of international Press sites remains at zero. --

  • Fukushima Prefecture Tritium levels returned to pre-accident levels…more than two years ago! Tritium is the naturally-occurring radioactive isotope of hydrogen found in all waters around the world. It is biologically innocuous. Nagayoshi Shima of Fukushima University has gone public saying that all river and Pacific Ocean samples show Tritium concentrations at or below those measured before 3/11/11. Actually, the ocean results were analyzed during the April-June, 2013 time-frame at four locations - Soma city, Minamisoma city, Tomioka town and Iwaki city. River water tests revealed Tritium levels had returned to normal by December, 2011. Why it has taken so long to share it publically has not been explained.

  • A Canadian antinuclear terrorist is charged with making death threats toward scientists. The charges were filed soon after posting a video on YouTube where he defended his attacks on Professor Jay Cullen of Fukushima InFORM and at least one other independent researcher. The perpetrator said, “I was arrested and the next morning (after posting a threatening YouTube video). I was in court and I was charged with criminal harassment of nuclear industry PR people. And one of those was from Woods Hole and the other one was from UVic, British Columbia, Canada [Cullen].” The man was charged under Section 264 of the Canadian Criminal Code, which makes it illegal to engage in conduct that causes someone to fear for their safety. When contacted by a Canadian newspaper, he threatened legal action “if you write anything about me.” The culprit has been posting antinuclear videos for a long time, and routinely accuses independent scientists of working for the nuclear industry. He says, “All I’m doing is exposing people for committing crimes.” (Comment – The dude is obviously deranged. Fukushima InFORM and Woods Hole have absolutely nothing to do with the nuclear “industry”. Also, the perpetrator’s name has been intentionally withheld because whack-jobs like him do not deserve free publicity.)

  • Tokyo makes lower public evacuation limits for nuclear powered ships. Previously, the exposure criterion for public evacuations around the Yokosuka Naval base was 100 microsieverts per hour. The new limit before evacuation is five µSv/hr. Tokyo says the reason for the change is safety concerns voiced by citizens living near the base. The new trigger-point applies to nuke aircraft carriers and submarines that may be docked at Yokosuka. Tokyo says this is the same criterion for evacuation of the public due to any nuclear accident. The move is clearly the result of radiation fears and rumors caused by the Fukushima accident. (Comment - If 5 µSv/hr is the public evacuation criterion, that’s news to us. It would equate to 44 millisieverts/year. The evacuation criterion regularly reported in Japan is the IAEA-suggested guideline of 20 mSv/yr.)

November 5, 2013

  • The head of Fukushima InFORM has received death threats. Fukushima InFORM provides independent data concerning the radiological risks of the Pacific Ocean off Canada due to the Fukushima accident. Their head is Dr. Jay Cullen of University of Victoria. Cullen has been the focal point of hate mail since 2012 when he began sharing the network data. He says, “The goal and motivation … was that people were asking me, family and friends and the public at large, what the impact of the disaster was on B.C. on the North Pacific and on Canada. I started looking for quality monitoring information so I could answer those questions as honestly and accurately as I could.” But, many have not liked that InFORM has found nothing that could spawn die-offs of biota or health impacts of any kind. Cullen says the hate mail and death threats were “somewhat of a surprise.” Some have called him a “shill for the nuclear industry” and a “sham scientist”. Some objectors believe there is an international conspiracy within the scientific community to hide the effects of Fukushima in order to make money. For example, one blog post said the world is at war with the scientific community, calling it the “most powerful of the elites in this world.”  Others believe that researchers saying Fukushima radiation isn’t a threat deserve to be executed! Cullen feels that these are frightened people who are not educationally equipped to differentiate science from pseudo-science, and they become angry when their beliefs are challenged. He says, “I feel their motivations are genuine and their desire to understand is laudable, but I think [the reaction of hate and fear] highlights the need for scientists to engage more directly with the public, to explain what we do, how we do it.” -- (The Cullen interview begins at ~9 minutes)

  • A non-profit group helping with rural cleanup gets death threats. On October 10th, the NPO held a decontamination event which was attended by 1,400 people, including 200 teens, along a 50 kilometer stretch of National Route 6 trough Naraha, Tomioka, Namie, and Minamisoma. No work was done in Okuma or Futaba. The students collected litter with tongs, mainly on abandoned school properties. Since then, the NPO has received about 30 defamatory and/or threatening messages a day, by fax, phone, and internet. The October 10 event has been routinely described as “murder-like” and “nothing less than madness” for including teen volunteers. Other messages include the following; “Are you a traitor?”, “This is child abuse in the name of a good deed”, and the death threat “We will kill you”. It should be noted that antinuclear activists tried to stop the event on October 10th. Iwaki City sociologist Hiroshi Kainuma said, “Since the nuclear accident (of 2011), incidents have increased of people seeking to hinder the freedom of activities that would aid the victims…With flimsy scientific grounds, their acts force socially vulnerable people into circumstances where they cannot offer counterarguments.”

  • The F. Daiichi seaside impermeable wall is slowing contaminated seepage to the sea. The seawater adjacent to the wall, inside the barricaded inner port (quay), shows a steady decrease in radioactive contaminants. At the end of August, Cesium levels inside the quay were all less than 10 Becquerels per liter, gross Beta activity nearly 10 Bq/l, and little or no Strontium. Even Tritium was dropping significantly. All levels were several times less than Japan’s regulatory limits for release. Outside the quay, the radioactivity levels for all isotopic groups have remained constant, probably because there is very little mixing with the open sea through the one opening in the break-wall. There is nothing detectible in the ocean beyond the break-wall.

  • A small residential area is planned for Okuma Town. Most of the F. Daiichi host community is indefinitely restricted by government mandate, but a significant fraction has radiation levels low enough to repopulate. One prime 40 hectare location is currently open fields. So, Mayor Toshitsuna Watanabe envisions building housing for 3,000 people. About 1,000 evacuees say they would return, with most of them elderly. The remaining 2,000 would be F. Daiichi workers. In addition to residences, there would be new offices and research centers for the F. Daiichi decommissioning. One high-ranking town official said, "Those who return here will likely be elderly individuals living on their own. For such people who have the desire to live here, we wanted to give them hope."

  • Japan’s largest newspaper urges Tokyo to be more pro-active in dealing with fear of radiation. The Yomiuri Shimbun reports that unwarranted fears are the main reason that the majority of the Naraha evacuees have not gone home. When Nuclear Regulation Authority Chair Shunichi Tanaka met with evacuees, he has said that they need to do their own research on radiation risks and decide for themselves, essentially avoiding any commitment. Many evacuees say they will not repopulate until radiation levels are less than one millisievert per year. The 1 mSv goal has been stressed by unofficial sources and most of the popular Press. But, the repopulation standard of 20 mSv/yr is safe because it is 5 times lower than the scientifically-acknowledged harm threshold of 100 mSv. When pressured, Tanaka did say he believes “about 5 mSv” should be the evacuee target for returning home. The Yomiuri says evacuees need to be correctly informed, and Tokyo should do the job “To prevent damage caused by irresponsible talk about radiation.”

  • A South Australian nuke blogger was angered by his visit to F. Daiichi. Decarbonise SA is a blog written by Ben Heard. In the second of a two part series on his visit to Fukushima Daiichi, “Not humbled, angered: The response to Fukushima is an ongoing mistake”, Heard says he did not find what he expected. What he found made him angry. On the way to F. Daiichi visit, Heard was driven through the evacuation zone south of the damaged facility. He wore a dosimeter. His recorded exposure was “…health-wise, a complete non-event.” As a result, Heard is convinced that the prolonged evacuations are the result of the situation being blown way out of proportion, doing much more harm than good. Once at the site, he found it “tidy and well-organised”, rather than the disordered mess everyone has been lead to believe. Heard found that isolated parts of the F. Daiichi station had high radiation levels, but most locations were either very low and/or near natural background. When the visit ended, Heard’s dosimeter had recorded an exposure one-seventh of that he would get when flying back to Australia. In hindsight, he believes the over-reaction to radiation and the resulting response is the real catastrophe from the nuke accident.

November 2, 2015

  • Sendai unit #2 reaches full power. There are now two reactors at full power in Japan. Since restarting the reactor on October 15th, Kyushu Electric Company operators has slowly increased the power level while performing required checks on equipment function at various points along the way. The unit finally reached its 100% power output of 890 MWe on Sunday morning. The Nuclear Regulation Authority has begun the final inspections needed to approve commercial operation. Approval is expected by mid-November, barring unforeseen problems.

  • Flanged wastewater tanks at F. Daiichi are dismantled. The breaking-down of 12 tanks began June 8th and was completed on Saturday. The flange-type tanks were erected immediately following the nuke accident, and some leaked highly contaminated water into the ground. The Tokyo government and Press reacted harshly, so new welded-seam tanks were installed by Tepco. The dismantling of the emptied flanged tanks awaited approval from the NRC for more than a year before authorization was issued last spring. There was no significant increase in radioactive isotope concentrations in the soils around the tanks during dismantling. Pictures taken before, during, and after dismantling are included in the attached link. (Comment - Once again, good news about Fukushima is disregarded by the Press. When the first tank leaks were discovered in July of 2013, the incident made major headlines in Japan and around the world. Over the ensuing months, more leaking flange-type tanks were found and the Press was all over it. The Press lost interest when the flanged tanks were emptied. The Press could care less about their disassembly.)

  • A Fukushima river opens for anglers. On Saturday, more than two dozen sport fishers tossed their lines into the Kido River flowing through recently unrestricted Naraha Town. There has been no rod-and-reel salmon fishing in Naraha for nearly five years. A local siren sounded at 7am, signaling the anglers to begin. One man said he was happy to be fishing for salmon in the Kido River once again. In addition to the sport fishing, a local fish store at a processing plant opened to the delight of several shoppers.

  • On Friday, two Japanese news outlets reported a 9.4 sieverts radiation field outside the unit#2 Containment. The reports were sketchy, but it seems that a preliminary radiation scan has been underway for nearly a month to prepare for putting a robot into the containment through a piping penetration. The high reading appears to have been somewhere on or near a “cell” covering a pipe that comes out of the containment wall. Both news reports say, “The highest contamination was detected on the floor.” The Press is confusing apples with oranges. A radiation field (millisieverts) is not contamination (Becquerels). It is also not stated whether the reading was made by a robot or a person. The reports say Tepco is halting the plans for inserting the robot until the situation can be fully investigated. There has been no further reporting on this. --

  • Voluntary Fukushima evacuees form a new group to get provisional housing and financial aid extended. About 130 self-obliged refugees have gathered in Tokyo to create a national evacuees association. Organization representative Seiichi Nakate said, “There is a risk even if radiation levels become lower. Especially, voluntary evacuees, who receive smaller support, are being forced to choose between living in poverty and returning to their hometowns with low radiation levels.” Kaori Kawai of Iwaki, Fukushima Prefecture, says she is on welfare and needs free housing to make ends meet. She said, “We chose to evacuate just to protect children…”, thus she feels government assistance to voluntary evacuees should not end. Free housing for them will end in March of 2017. Some attendees were from Fukushima Prefecture and some were from other prefectures. All bolted from their homes due to fear of low level radiation exposure. It was mentioned that Tokyo-ordered evacuees who refuse to go home will eventually become voluntaries, as well.

  • An antinuclear Fukushima accident archive site announces its existence. A non-profit group, Access-Info Clearinghouse, has collected more than 60,000 documents and is converting them to Japanese-only PDF for on-line access. The NPO says its goal is to establish responsibility for the Fukushima accident. The NPO’s head Yukiko Miki says, "In addition to boosting the number of documents in our archive, we also want to arrange the archive into such categories as 'compensation,' 'evacuation,' 'measurement of radiation levels,' and so on. We also want to shed light on what kind of information has not been released… The central government, Fukushima Prefectural Government, and other bodies simply force their conclusions onto the people who suffered in the disaster, without clarifying the negotiation and coordination processes. They might fear that if this information were disclosed, it could create confusion or a backlash, but it should be the job of administrative bodies to release the information and face the facts in spite of this.”

October 29, 2015

  • More information on Fukushima child thyroid cancers. Fukushima University’s Dr. Shinichi Suzuki presented his team’s screening results of nearly 450,000 individuals following the nuclear accident in 2011. His report was given at the 15th International Thyroid Congress and 85th Annual Meeting of the American Thyroid association in Lake Buena Vista, Florida. The report was loosely directed at the recent interest coverage concerning a Japanese researcher’s study claiming the increased child thyroid cancer rates in Fukushima are due to the nuke accident’s I-131 releases. Suzuki says the data does not support the new claim because the confirmed cancers thus far “appear to have occurred prior to [Fukushima] radiation exposure”. Further, the average size of the suspect thyroid tumors were significantly smaller with the post-accident screening cohort than had been the case with those screened before the Fukushima releases (1.4cm vs. 4.1cm, respectively). Plus, the average age of those from the post-accident cohort having surgery was much older than those recorded in pre-accident data (17.4 years vs. 11.9 years, respectively). If the tumors found post-accident were due to Fukushima radiation, the average age of the surgery patients should have been much, much lower. Ironically, Suzuki’s findings were supported by another Japanese specialist who made a plenary lecture comparing Fukushima to Chernobyl. Dr. Nagataki of Nagasaki University, the Radiation Effects Research Foundation in Hiroshima, and the Radiation Effects Association in Tokyo, said, “We were surprised to see so many children with thyroid cancer . We found a huge number of children [with thyroid cancer] by screening but […patient] ages were very different [from Chernobyl].” He added that “We did not find regional differences in the prevalence of thyroid cancer within Fukushima Prefecture” which should have been the case due to the wide range of contamination levels across the region.

  • Japan’s nuke watchdog chief says F. Daiichi recriticality is “physically impossible”. During his visit to Minamisoma City, NRA Chairman Shunichi Tanaka made what appears to be the first official confirmation of the obvious, “Recriticality is physically impossible.” It seems this was meant to show that there will be no further production and release of additional fission products, which appears to have been Tokyo’s reason for the prolonged living restrictions. However, when City Mayor Katsunobu Sakurai asked what residents could regard as safe radiation exposure, Tanaka hedged his answer, “We can’t say what amount will be good. It will depend on the residents’ way of thinking.” (Aside – this shows that Tanaka is a confirmed advocate of the no-safe-level of exposure assumption. End aside…)

  • More on the impermeable seaside wall… F. Daiichi staff finished sealing the 780 meter long barrier on Monday, October 26th. Soon thereafter, groundwater levels began to rise behind the wall, demonstrating the high integrity of the project. This confirmed that the concrete sealant between the steel piles is doing its job very well.

  • A new robot will be used to decontaminate high, hard-to-reach places at F. Daiichi. The device stands about two meters tall when fully contracted, but can extend itself upwards to about eight meters (~25 feet) for cleaning the upper reaches of the spacious rooms inside reactor buildings 1, 2, & 3. The robot will be deployed in mid-November on the first floor of unit #3. Ground-level decontamination of the first floor has been on-going using other robots, but the too-high spots on top of piping and/or equipment enclosures could not be reached. Thus, the new robot was built. It is felt that 70% of the existing radiation field is due to this hard-to-reach contamination. The first floor radiation level is 125 millisieverts per hour. Tepco would like to lower this to about 3 mSv/hr before letting people enter to perform work.

  • The Asahi Shimbun says only about 15% Of Tomioka and Okuma Town’s evacuees want to return home. 51% of Tomioka’s estranged residents say do not want to go home any more, as do 64% of Okuma’s evacuees. Both town pools show a small increase in the percentage refusing to return since last year’s poll. (Comment - Tokyo and Tepco have been patient with confirmed repopulation dissenters for long enough. Each of them gets more than $7,500 a month in compensation, plus much more than that every month if the family owns its home, and more still if they own a business. That means that the typical family of four, with home ownership, gets ~$50,000 per month. If Dad runs a business on the property, the monthly stipend swells even more. Two years ago, the Asahi estimated that the typical family had already received $2 million. This has probably more than doubled if we factor in the $800/month mental anguish payments for each evacuee, grandfathered back to April 2011. If a family says it will not ever return home – no matter what - all payments should immediately stop! The intent of compensation was to tide the evacuees over until they returned home. More than half repeatedly say they will never go home, even if Tokyo says they can. As I stated in my initial rant about this more than 2 years ago, being a nuke accident evacuee is big business. If they have no intention to go back, cut them off!!)

  • Japan’s antinuclear ex-PMs continue their no-nuke crusade. This time, Junichiro Koizumi and Morihiro Hosokawa visited Hakodate, Hokkaido Prefecture, to echo their long-held antinuclear opinions with a new audience. Koizumi said, “We reaffirmed that Hakodate has the core problems of Japan’s nuclear power issue.” Hakodate filed a suit against Oma nuke plant’s construction in April, 2014. The case has not been decided. Oma is in Aomori Prefecture across the Tsugaru Strait from Hakodate. Because the nearest extent of the town’s official border is 23 kilometers from Oma, the Mayor and other officials feel they should have more say in the plant’s safety because they will be required to draw up evacuation plans. (Aside - It doesn’t matter that such plans would be used for much-more-likely situations such as tsunamis, typhoons, and or blizzards. The town should be held accountable for any future injuries or deaths caused by natural calamities due to their refusal to create evacuation plans, and the two PMs for aiding and abetting.) --


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