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. Often called the  Fukushima nuclear disaster, the Fukushima accident is a major topic around the world. (Updates are posted twice weekly; Monday and Thursday)

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January 22, 2015

  • Two workers died Tuesday at Fukushima Daiichi and F. Daini, respectively. Both were “cooperative” staff, and not working for either Tepco or contractor companies. Cooperatives are worker-owned and operated groups specializing in various job classifications. At F. Daiichi, the fatality was a man sealing the top of a 10 meter-high rainwater storage tank and fell to the ground. At F. Daini, the death was a man inspecting a concentration apparatus on the 5th floor of a waste treatment building. Tepco says he was fatally injured when the apparatus unexpectedly rotated and impinged on his head. Neither man was found to have any bodily contamination. F. Daiichi chief Akira Ono said, "We will do our utmost to prevent such accidents and to steadily proceed with the decommissioning work." http://mainichi.jp/english/english/newsselect/news/20150120p2g00m0dm064000c.html -- http://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/english/news/nuclear.html The link to Tepco’s F. Daiichi Press release is http://www.tepco.co.jp/en/press/corp-com/release/2015/1247504_6844.html and an image of the storage tank from which he fell can be found here http://photo.tepco.co.jp/library/150120_01/150120_02.jpg. The link to Tepco’s F. Daini Press release is http://www.tepco.co.jp/en/press/corp-com/release/2015/1247513_6844.html and a Press handout can be found here http://www.tepco.co.jp/en/nu/fukushima-np/handouts/2015/images/handouts_150120_01-e.pdf

  • Japan’s nuke watchdog calls for the release of wastewaters containing Tritium. On Wednesday, the Nuclear Regulation Authority said Tepco can release fully-treated wastewater to the sea. NRA chair Shunichi Tanaka suggested the death on Tuesday at F. Daiichi shows that continually adding more and more storage tanks for essentially harmless waters has become a danger, “Tokyo Electric Power must consider whether it (storing the water) is really necessary. It is surely harmful if it leads to the death of workers.” However, a Tepco spokesperson says the company is not considering making the releases. The agency wants Tepco to set a firm timetable for the releases. The treated waters have been stripped of all radionuclides except biologically-innocuous Tritium; a naturally-occurring isotope of Hydrogen. More than a year ago, the IAEA made the same recommendation, but Tepco and the NRA have dragged their feet on discharging the harmless waters. Tepco also says they will not do it without approval from local officials and fishermen. One Kyoto University professor says the long-term effects of Tritium on animal genetics are not known, thus detailed monitoring of the sea-life during the releases should be performed to detect “worrisome signals”. http://blogs.wsj.com/japanrealtime/2015/01/21/fukushima-watch-regulator-calls-on-tepco-to-discharge-tritium-water/

  • The NRA has also approved Tepco’s plan to release decontaminated groundwater to the Pacific Ocean. Tepco wants to install drainage pipes around the buildings of F. Daiichi units #1 through #4, in order to pump it out and run it through the multiple decontamination systems now in operation. Conditions for the release are Cesium below 1 Becquerel per liter, Beta emitters less than 3 Bq/l, and Tritium below 1,500 Bq/l. Tepco says they will not actually make sea releases without approval by local residents. http://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/english/news/nuclear.html -- http://ajw.asahi.com/article/0311disaster/fukushima/AJ201501220054  Several Japanese news outlets have reported on this, and some are purporting that the waters are toxic. Kyodo News and Mainichi Shimbun both call it a “plan to dump toxic groundwater”.  http://english.kyodonews.jp/news/2015/01/332592.html -- http://mainichi.jp/english/english/newsselect/news/20150121p2g00m0dm071000c.html

  • Prosecutors will not indict Tepco executives over the Fukushima accident. This is the second time a non-indictment decision has been rendered on the suit. A claim of death and injury was filed more than 2 years ago by thousands of plaintiffs, but the suit was dismissed in September of 2013. A citizen’s panel, the Committee for the Inquest of Prosecution, said in July 2014 that the three men should be indicted, arguing that they could have avoided or diminished the accident by installing switch boards and power generators on higher ground, and waterproofing the plant buildings. In addition to the former TEPCO executives, the prosecutor’s office interviewed experts on tsunami, plant engineering, and other fields. The office concluded that even if added measures had been taken, the tsunami’s damage would not have been averted. The case's dismissal will probably not be the end of it. Plaintiff leader Ruiko Muto said that she intends to file yet another call for a second citizen’s group review. If the second citizen’s group calls for indictment, the court will be forced to appoint independent attorneys from outside the prosecutor’s office to try the case.  http://mainichi.jp/english/english/newsselect/news/20150122p2a00m0na001000c.html -- http://blogs.wsj.com/japanrealtime/2015/01/23/fukushima-watch-prosecutors-again-decline-to-indict-ex-tepco-executives/

January 15, 2015 

  • Futaba accepts Tokyo’s rural radioactive waste plan. Okuma agreed to the plan last month. The government wants to build a sixteen square kilometer facility between the two F. Daiichi host communities to store contaminated soil and other debris for no more than 30 years. The mayor of Futaba announced the decision on Tuesday in Iwaki City, where most of the town’s evacuated residents are living. Not all residents agree with the decision, citing distrust of Tokyo’s promise to move the material elsewhere after thirty years. Mayor Shiro Izawa explained that acceptance of the plan is an unavoidable part of post-accident recovery. Land purchase negotiations and creation of transportation safety arrangements are continuing. On Wednesday, the government allocated about $700 million for the facility, land purchases, and research for fiscal 2015. The budget allocation for 2014 was $1 billion, but inability to purchase the property has resulted in carry-over from last-year’s budget.  http://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/english/news/nuclear.html -- http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2015/01/14/national/futaba-accept-radioactive-soil-storage-facilities/#.VLZfHaMcQdU

  • Four utilities have decided to scrap five nuke units once they get local approval. The four units are located in three Prefectures – Fukui, Shimane, and Saga – and each assembly will be instructed on the decommissioning plans next month. The host communities will also be briefed. It is national policy to seek local understanding before making any decisions that could financially impact the host communities. All five units will have been licensed for the post-Fukushima 40-year limit by the end of 2015. They are all relatively small-output units and the owning companies feel that upgrades to meet new regulations makes them economically non-viable with only a 20 year possibility on further operation. Two other units that have reached to 40 year licensing limit, Takahama #1 & #2, are not going to be voluntarily decommissioned because they have much larger outputs and the costs of meeting regulatory upgrades can be recovered in 20 years. Tokyo estimates the decommissioning costs will be about $200 million per unit. To avoid significant financial adversity, the government is creating accounting measures to mitigate the losses. Specifically, the costs will be charged to each affected utility’s customers and spread out over a ten year period. Under current guidelines, the costs would have to be dealt with during the first year after the permanent shutdown of each unit is decided. http://the-japan-news.com/news/article/0001852229 -- http://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/english/news/20150114_36.html

  • A citizens group has filed their second criminal complaint against former Tokyo safety officials and ex-Tepco executives. Their first complaint was against Former Tepco chairman Tsunehisa Katsumata and others for not taking adequate accident protective measures. The new suit also names eight others besides Katsumata, including former government nuke safety official Yoshinori Moriyama of the defunct Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency. The plaintiffs include Fukushima residents as well as others from outside the prefecture. The complaint was filed with the Tokyo District Public Prosecutor’s Office accusing the nine of responsibility for the public being exposed to radiation. The Prosecutors Office is currently reinvestigating the first case which was dismissed last year, but ordered to be reopened by a citizen’s judicial panel. http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2015/01/13/national/crime-legal/group-files-fresh-complaint-over-fukushima-nuclear-disaster/#.VLVRrqMcQdU –- http://english.kyodonews.jp/news/2015/01/331188.html

  • Sendai District Court has ruled on the tsunami-deaths suit we reported on January 8. The court has ordered Joban Yamamoto driving school to pay nearly $19 million in compensation to the relatives of a driving instructor and 25 students who died in the 3/11/11 tsunami. Presiding Judge Kenji Takamiya said the driving school knew of a possible tsunami because some instructors at the school had heard the evacuation warning. The suit charged that school officials told the students to remain in the facility after the quake, but were not told to evacuate to higher ground. That order came nearly an hour later when the first indication of the tsunami hit the city shoreline. The suit claimed the tsunami was warned by local fire companies and the news media, but the company took no action to protect the students and instructor. This is the second time a court has awarded damages to grieving relatives of people killed in the tsunami. In September of 2013, Hiyori Kindergarten in Ishinomaki was ordered to pay nearly $1.8 million to the parents of four children who died. http://the-japan-news.com/news/article/0001851278

January 12, 2015

  • The Director of the Chernobyl Tissue Bank says Fukushima’s risk to the public is negligible. Dr. Geraldine Anne Thomas of London’s Imperial College has visited Japan several times to compare and contrast Fukushima exposure data with Chernobyl’s. She states that the only observable health effects with Chernobyl concerned child thyroid damage, but the Iodine releases from Fukushima were many times less and strict food consumption bans were imposed early-on, thus, “It is therefore important to understand that the risk to health from radiation from Fukushima is negligible.” Thomas stresses that the Fukushima accident is not really a radiation problem, but rather is a communication problem. One striking example concerns the child thyroid screenings being run by Fukushima University. “To me it was a big surprise that the residents were not made aware that the thyroid gland tests that are happening now are a [medical] ‘screening’. There seemed to be a wide-spread misunderstanding that the tests were being conducted to identify the impact of radiation from the accidents in 2011.” As a result, “…the thyroid gland tests, although they were originally designed to reduce the concerns of people living in Fukushima, have resulted in increasing confusion and anxiety amongst the residents.” She also found the notion that Fukushima people are terrified of radiation might not be the case, but the perception outside of the Prefecture may be doing harm, “People living in Fukushima are not concerned about the safety of radiation in Fukushima but are aware of how the disconnect with people who firmly believe otherwise may hinder the recovery of Fukushima.” http://www.gepr.org/en/contents/20141104-01/

  • Canadian scientists have used Fukushima isotopes to study ocean currents. Researchers from the Bedford Institute of Oceanography, Nova Scotia, have been following the slow migration of the radioactivity across the Pacific. Their work has not been due to any risks to Canada or any other part of the world because dispersion and dilution have reduced the concentrations to well-below dangerous levels. The team found that the activities for Cesium and other isotopes are actually less than safety standards for drinking water. But tracking the dispersal represented a unique opportunity to see how ocean currents work over a period of years. Team leader John Smith said, “We had a situation where the radioactive tracer was deposited at a very specific location off the coast of Japan at a very specific time. It was kind of like a dye experiment, and it is unambiguous - you either see the signal or you don't, and when you see it you know exactly what you are measuring." They have been monitoring out to 1,500 kilometers from British Columbia and first detected Fukushima Cesium isotopes in June, 2012. Based on their data to date, the peak concentrations off North America will be between 3&5 Becquerels per cubic meter (ton of seawater). Natural Pacific radioactive isotopic concentrations are about 13,000 Bq/m3. Smith and his staff are also working with marine chemist Ken Buesseler of Woods Hole Oceanographic in the United States. http://www.theweathernetwork.com/news/articles/scientists-use-fukushima-radiation-plume-to-track-ocean-currents/43196/

  • Tokyo wants to upgrade shelter facilities around nuclear stations for inpatients and the elderly. Many Fukushima residents forced to evacuate from hospitals or nursing homes died due to stress and inconsistent medical care. Guidelines were established to upgrade these facilities within 5 kilometers of nuke stations in order for the elderly and hospitalized to remain in place during an accident. The Prime Minister’s Cabinet has decided to expand this to a 10 kilometer radius. Improvements have already been made to 149 facilities across Japan, including double-paned windows and ventilation system filters designed to strip airborne contaminants from the air. $260 million has been spent to date, and it is estimated the expanded radius will cost another $76 million. http://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/english/news/20150109_01.html

  • The Asahi Shimbun says decommissioning five reactor units will help Tokyo’s desire for nuke restarts. Japan’s second-leading newspaper reports that seven currently-idled nukes will attain the age of 40 in 2016, and five will probably not be considered for restart. The NRA wants formal decisions on the seven units to be made by July. The Asahi purports that this is one of various measures being considered by the Industry Ministry to gain public support for nuke restarts. http://ajw.asahi.com/article/0311disaster/fukushima/AJ201501110012

January 8, 2015

  • Japan’s NRA will begin assessing nukes for anti-terrorist measures. The Nuclear Regulation Authority has anti-terrorist regulations, but evaluation of licensees has been delayed until July, 2018, in order to fully focus on natural disasters and other severe accident precursors. The new regulations include having remote emergency control rooms that can be used if the main operating facility is in jeopardy. These remote control rooms will be required to survive worst-case attack strategies, such as suicidal plane crashes similar to the World Trade Center of September 11. 2001. The facilities will be able to bring the reactors into a cold shutdown condition by lowering pressure and maintaining coolant flow to the core. These facilities will be built about 100 meters from reactors in case of a terrorist attack. The NRA feels the first nuke stations to be evaluated will be Tokyo Electric Power Co.’s Kashiwazaki-Kariwa plant in Niigata Prefecture and Kansai Electric Power Co.’s Takahama plant in Fukui Prefecture. http://the-japan-news.com/news/article/0001834791

  • Niigata’s governor refuses to allow the Kashiwazaki-Kariwa station (K-K) to restart. Governor Hirohiko Izumida has balked at extending a possible approval since restarts became an issue more than two years ago. He met with Tepco President Naomi Hirose on Tuesday for their annual New Year’s confab. The two men have not met since last January, and the meeting on Tuesday lasted only 15 minutes. Tepco wants to bring two of the K-K units online by March, 2016, or their currently thin profit margin will slip into a deficit condition. Izumida says he does not feel Tepco has thoroughly examined the causes of the March, 2011, nuke accident at F. Daiichi. Until he is satisfied, the governor will not even begin to consider restart approval. He said, “There has not been a sufficient investigation into the causes of the (Fukushima) accident nor in-house disciplinary actions, so we cannot stand at the starting line of discussions on safety.” One of the governor’s criteria is that all Tepco executives involved with the accident release their formal testimonies given to the Diet’s investigation of 2011 (NAIIC). Some Tepco officials have allowed this to happen, but not all. Japan’s Press has once again found voices of sympathy to support an antinuclear politician’s position. Hitotsubashi University professor Takeo Kikkawa says Tepco’s attempt to restart any K-K unit “an illusion”. K-K is a seven unit station, the largest in the world, with a full power output of nearly 8.000 MWe with all units operating. http://ajw.asahi.com/article/0311disaster/fukushima/AJ201501070051 -- http://jen.jiji.com/jc/eng?g=eco&k=2015010600925 -- http://www.japantoday.com/category/national/view/restart-of-japans-largest-nuclear-plant-still-in-doubt

  • Kansai Electric Co. (Kepco) and Japan Atomic Power (Japco) to decide on the fate of older units. Kepco President Makoto Yagi told Fukui Gov. Issei Nishikawa on Tuesday that the utility would soon announce what it plans to do with all 11 reactors it operates in the prefecture. Takahama units #1&2 will reach their initial licensing limits of 40 years by November, and all three Mihama units will have exceeded 40 years in February, 2016. The other six units owned by Kepco, including the four Oi reactors, are at least five years from the 40-year standard for initial licensing. Yagi added that he is willing to consider safety agreements with communities outside of the 30 kilometer emergency planning zones around the three station in the prefecture. He said, "We don't insist on 30 kilometers (from nuclear power plants)." Japco President Yasuo Hamada also met with Governor Nishikawa and reported that studies are still being performed on possible earthquake faults under Tsuruga unit #2, so it is not known what its fate will be. Tsuruga unit #1 is the oldest of Japan’s currently-idled nuclear fleet at 44 years. Hamada implied that it might be decommissioned rather than run through the NRA’s restart program. http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2015/01/07/national/kepco-faces-decision-on-aging-fukui-reactors/#.VK1EoKMcQdU -- http://mainichi.jp/english/english/newsselect/news/20150107p2a00m0na008000c.html

  • NRA Chair Shunichi Tanaka says 2015 will be a crucial year for nuclear safety. At least four nuke units are expected to restart this year, at Takahama and Sendai stations. Tanaka believes restarting a nuclear power plant is when the units face particularly dangerous risks of accidents or trouble. His rationale is that the units have been down for two or more years and have a lot of new safety equipment that’s never been used before. The Sendai restarts are assumed to be the first, and Tanaka promised that NRA inspection of the process will be diligent. It is important to note that 2015 will witness the first International Atomic Energy Agency evaluation of the NRA. http://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/english/news/nuclear.html

  • The IAEA will observe the situation with Fukushima and Kashiwazaki-Kariwa in mid-February. This will be the third IAEA mission with the Fukushima accident, and the first with respect to K-K station. The F. Daiichi visit will assess the status of the decommissioning, situation with radioactive water buildup, and damaged fuel removal processes. The K-K assessment will focus on post-Fukushima accident mitigation measures and compare them to international standards of safety. The K-K investigation is due to a formal request made by Tepco. It will be the first station-specific assessment made by the IAEA since 3/11/11. http://english.kyodonews.jp/news/2015/01/330451.html -- http://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/english/news/nuclear.html

  • Japan’s GEPR group has posted an informative radiation-based video interview. GEPR’s head, Nobuo Ikeda, and Japanese-Caucasian journalist Morley Robertson discus the Japanese versus Western Press coverages about F. Daiichi. One of the most important observations is that Japan’s Press tends to avoid using sensationalist terminology, while the Western Press literally drips with the melodramatic. Robertson and Ikeda agree that there are socio-political agendas adhered to by Japan’s news media, either blatantly antinuclear (e.g. Asahi and Mainichi Shimbuns) or more objective (e.g. The Japan News/Yomiuri Shimbun). But neither camp resorts to much sensationalist terminology, if any at all. When the Western Press searches the Web for Fukushima News, the antinuclear Japanese press comes up first due to a higher level of immediate internet activity. The Western Press takes the antinuclear perspective and adds the sensational terminology because that’s what sells to their audience. The Western Press seldom takes the time to expand their search to more objective Japanese Press outlets, so all the Western audience hears is melodramatic versions of the Japanese antinuclear Press. There’s much more, but in the interest of brevity, we ask interested readers to use the link (below). Be advised, the interview is an hour in length and while most of the dialogue is English, there are occasional ~5 minute-long summations in Japanese. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4752ZOpfSxk#t=18

  • Nuke evacuees are not the only post-3/11/11 litigious demographic. Sendai District court says it will rule on a suit filed by some of the families of those lost to the tsunami in Miyagi Prefecture. The claim includes the relatives of one employee and 25 students of a driving school in Yamamoto. All 26 died on that fateful day. They want about $19 million in compensation from Joban Yamamoto driving school. The plaintiffs charge that inadequate tsunami evacuation measures had been taken. One parent said, "Whatever decision the court makes, we'd like to keep on pressing the importance of disaster countermeasures at private firms." Another eleven of the school’s employees died, and their families have joined in the suit. In addition, the relatives of one bank employee who died in Onagawa have linked in the filing. The father of the driving school’s teacher, Maki Okubo, said, "When a tsunami hits, I want to see companies drop everything and make sure to get their employees to safety right away." There was about a one hour delay between the precursor earthquake and the school’s order to evacuate. Maki’s father believes this was unforgivable. http://mainichi.jp/english/english/newsselect/news/20150107p2a00m0na010000c.html

January 5, 2014

  • Five older Japanese nukes could be decommissioned. Four utilities plan to speak with local governments affected by the proposal this month so they can decide on the fate of the units by the end of March. All five units will reach the end of their 40 year licensing period by July of 2016. Twenty year extensions are possible under post-Fukushima guidelines, but the cost of upgrades to meet the new requirements must be weighed against foreseeable profits from prolonged operations. Actually, seven of Japan’s nukes will reach the 40 year threshold by July 2016, but two will probably seek the 20 year allowance. The five units at-risk are Mihama #1&2, Shimane #1, Genkai #1, and Tsuruga #1. Takahama units #1&2 are the other two plants that will reach the licensing limit, but work has already begun to qualify for extensions. Estimates concerning the cost of qualifying for extension run in the $1 billion range. The cost of decommissioning is projected to be about $210 million. The five at-risk units are relatively small with power outputs ranging from 320 to 560 MWe. http://mainichi.jp/english/english/newsselect/news/20150103p2a00m0na004000c.html

  • All Fukushima harvested rice passed radiation tests in 2014. This was the first time that all bags tested below the national limit of 100 Becquerels per kilogram, set in 2012. Nearly 11 million sacks were analyzed during the year. There were about 10 million bags checked each year in 2012 and 2013. In 2012, 71 failed the analysis, and in 2013, 38 were above the limit. (Aside -For comparison, America’s Food and Drug Administration has a limit of 1,200 Bq/kg. The European Union limit is 600 Bq/kg.) Fukushima Prefecture says the testing program will continue. http://ajw.asahi.com/article/0311disaster/fukushima/AJ201501030034

  • NRA chief Shunichi Tanaka says nuke restarts will bring greater responsibility to the watchdog. Since the Nuclear Regulation Authority’s inception, the agency’s task has been insuring new regulations are being followed by utilities applying for restarts. With the impending resumption of electric generation at Sendai station, inspections will shift to insuring safe operations. The NRA is currently examining applications for the restarts of 21 units at 14 locations. All of the first wave of reviews are for Pressurized Water Reactor systems. Screenings of Boiling Water Reactor plants may begin later this year. http://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/english/news/nuclear.html

  • Local social and political opposition is stalling rural radioactive waste storage and disposal. Twelve prefectures now have temporary storage sites for the material. Tokyo would like to move all of it to designated locations in five prefectures: Miyagi, Ibaraki, Tochigi, Gunma and Chiba. Four sites in Tochigi and Miyagi have been specifically designated, but local activists blocked access to them to stop preliminary work. The mayor of a Tochigi town near the proposed, government-owned site, submitted a petition with 17,000 signatures demanding the material not be stored in their prefecture. Mayor Kazuhisa Mikata says the contamination came from Fukushima Prefecture, so it should be dumped there. Sites in Miyagi Prefecture have run into similar socio-political roadblocks. An Environment Ministry official said, “As the waste can’t be left indefinitely in temporary storage facilities, we hope to create facilities as early as possible in order to ensure safety.” http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2015/01/05/national/permanent-radioactive-waste-disposal-facing-significant-hurdles/#.VKp18qMcQdU

  • Many British scientists believe nukes are the best option. In a forthcoming open letter in the journal Conservation Biology, 65 biologists say nukes are the best choice for a global strategy to protect the environment. They call for activist groups like Greenpeace and Friends of the Earth to drop opposition to building new nukes. The letter is signed by several leading British academics including Lord May of Oxford, a theoretical biologist at Oxford University and former chief scientific adviser; Professor Andrew Balmford, a conservation biologist at Cambridge; and Professor Tim Blackburn, an expert in biodiversity at University College London. http://www.independent.co.uk/news/science/nuclear-power-is-the-greenest-option-say-top-scientists-9955997.html

January 1, 2015

  • A Canadian ocean monitoring network says the risk from Fukushima is “insignificant”. The Integrated Fukushima Ocean Radionuclide Monitoring (InFORM) Network involves academic, government & non-governmental organizations, and citizen scientists to acquire data and assess radiological risks to Canada’s oceans from Fukushima’s radioactive contaminants. Samples supplied by Canadian citizens and the Fisheries and Oceans Canada group show that the levels on the Pacific coast of Canada are “so low they pose almost zero risk to human or ecosystem health. Salmon remain safe to eat and the ocean is clean enough to swim in.” The Bedford Institute of Oceanography says that detectible levels of Fukushima radioactivity have reached the continental waters. Bedford’s Dr. John Smith reports, “The resulting large ocean plume of radioactivity dissipated rapidly … but a significant remnant was transported eastward. By June 2013, the Fukushima signal had spread onto the Canadian continental shelf, and by February 2014 it had increased … resulting in an overall doubling of the fallout background from atmospheric nuclear weapons tests.” He adds that even at the worst-possible peak, the concentrations will be hundreds of times less than Canadian drinking water standards. As for fish, Smith says “predicted exposure level is many orders of magnitude less” than the baseline safe levels.” University of Victoria’s Dr. Jay Cullen, head of the InFORM project, says radiation levels are actually lower than in the 1960s when nuclear weapon’s tests in the Pacific drove Cesium concentrations up to 80 Becquerels per ton (cubic meter) of seawater. The Fukushima levels are not expected to go above three to five Bq/ton. https://fukushimainform.wordpress.com/ [Comment – the conclusion of very low risk is due to the researchers using the Linear/No Threshold assumption (LNT), which is used world-wide to set radiation standards. Even at its projected worst-case peak, and further if someone were stupid enough to drink raw seawater, the internal exposure would be but a small fraction of one millisievert per year. Considerable scientific evidence over the past 3+ decades shows that exposures below 700 millisieverts/year cause no actual observable negative biological effects. In other words, if InForm and Bedford Institute used science instead of the LNT assumption, they could confidently conclude that there is no risk whatsoever.]

  • Japan’s post-Fukushima “coal binge” fuels international criticism. Once a paradigm of lowering Carbon-Dioxide releases, Japan’s nuclear moratorium has caused a huge increase in using coal as a power plant heat source. As a result, the island nation is now the fifth-largest emitter of CO2, behind China, the United States, India, and Russia. Japan’s Industry and Environment Ministries deny any regressing on climate policies, but international confidence in the claim is low. The nuke moratorium resulted in relaxing pollution standards for coal burning plants in order to increase output by 40%. The lead Chinese delegate at Friday’s climate talks in Lima, Peru, expressed a modicum of optimism once Japan gets their nukes back in operation, “We expect Japan would certainly come up with an ambitious target for the post-2020 period. That is not just China’s expectation I think it is the expectation of the world.” But, from Japan we find pessimism. Nobuo Tanaka of the  Institute of Energy Economics said, “Japan cannot excuse itself in Paris [at the 2015 climate summit] by saying ‘sorry we don’t have nuclear power so we can’t reduce CO2 emissions.’” Japan’s CO2 releases rose 1.6% through March, 2014, to a new record. Regardless of the emission record, Japanese utilities plan to install 14.8 gigawatts of new coal-fired capacity over the next few years since the fuel is cheaper than gas or oil. http://www.japantimes.co.jp/life/2014/12/12/environment/japans-coal-binge-stirs-international-climate-fears/#.VKLOP3Dw

  • Most Minamisoma decontaminated “hot spot” residents say they will not return home. On Sunday, Tokyo lifted all restrictions on the 152 residences evacuated more than 2 years ago because estimated radiation exposures were greater than 20 millisieverts per year. Decontamination efforts and radioactive decay have dropped the measured exposure levels to well-below the standard, so everyone is allowed to go home. However, city officials say 80% of the residents will not repopulate because they fear the low levels of radiation. http://newsonjapan.com/html/newsdesk/article/110828.php

  • The Asahi Shimbun accuses Tepco of “sloppy handling” of dust suppressants in 2013. The suppressant was used to keep radioactive dust from wafting into the air and off the station’s property during debris removal from units #3&4. The suppressant was purchased in concentrated form and was supposed to be diluted with water by one part in ten. For unit #4 prior to erecting the outer building for transfer of used fuel, the suppressant was either sprayed undiluted or to the specified 10% dilution level. But, for dust suppression with unit #3 rubble, the dilution factor being used was about one part per hundred. The Nuclear Regulation Authority Secretariat says the under-specified 1% solution probably had reduced effectiveness and “likely led to the spewing of radioactive materials in the summer of 2013.” An official at the suppressant supply company says a 1% solution is about as effective as using only water and, “Because work should, in principle, only be conducted when the dust has been moistened with the suppressant, not using the suppressant for several days will naturally lead to the spewing of radioactive dust.” In August of 2013, some airborne monitors alarmed and 12 workers were found to have detectible levels of radioactive dust on their protective coveralls. One monitor 3 kilometers away showed a small increase during the August 12-19 period. Tepco says these incidents might possibly have been due to over-diluting the dust suppressant. http://ajw.asahi.com/article/0311disaster/fukushima/AJ201412310025

December 29, 2014

  • 127 more Fukushima accident testimonies have been released. 772 people were grilled by the NAIIC, a government committee investigating the nuke accident beginning in October, 2011. The report on the NAIIC findings was released in June of 2012. Nineteen interviews, including former PM Naoto Kan and Plant Manager Masao Yoshida, were released earlier in September. Another 56 were made public in November. The new releases were made public on Thursday after getting consent from the parties involved. Interviewees included officials from Tepco headquarters in Tokyo, various government officials, former Fukushima Governor Yuhei Sato, and Okuma Mayor Toshitsuna Watanbe. One Tepco official related that the Tokyo task force did not know that one of the emergency cooling systems for unit #1 had been turned off on March 11. Another said that he analyzed what had happened in April of 2011 and realized that at least half of the fuel core of unit #1 had melted. He added that Tepco refrained from using the term “meltdown” in March and April because there was no precise definition of the word and it could thus have been misunderstood. Governor Sato complained about poor communications between Tokyo and Fukushima’s prefectural government during the first day of the crisis. He said that his staff got most of its information from TV news. He admitted to have issued a 2 kilometer-wide evacuation at 8:50 pm based on the TV reports. His office began getting airborne contamination reports via Email on March 12. Sato said the poor communications network resulted in many Fukushima residents evacuating to areas where contamination was likely to spread. Tokyo had planned to have all 772 testimonies released by the end of the year, but many officials have not agreed to the release. The government will continue working on the project in 2015. http://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/english/news/20141226_11.html -- http://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/english/news/20141226_03.html -- http://ajw.asahi.com/article/0311disaster/fukushima/AJ201412260050

  • Kurion’s mobile Strontium removal system is exceeding expectations. Its first water decontamination system began operation in early October and has processed more than 11,000 tons of liquid. It has removed more than 99.95% of the contained Strontium. The target was for 99.9%. In other words, the system was expected to have a decontamination factor of 1,000, but has actually operated with a Strontium removal factor of 2,000. A second mobile unit arrived in Japan about the first week of December. Full operation of both units should treat about 600 tons of water per day. http://www.environmentalleader.com/2014/12/12/kurion-mobile-processing-system-exceeds-fukushima-decontamination-targets/

  • The water levels inside the turbine basements of units #1 thru 4 appear to be dropping. On November 4th, the total volume in the four basements was about 73,000 tons, which is roughly what it has been for more than two years. But, on December 23rd, the volume was down to about 63,000 tons. This is an indication that recent efforts to curb groundwater inflow, such as pumping up water before it reaches the basement walls and operating the external drain system, are having a positive impact. Unfortunately, there has been no mention of this in Tepco Press releases or news media briefing handouts. http://www.tepco.co.jp/en/press/corp-com/release/betu14_e/images/141105e0201.pdf -- http://www.tepco.co.jp/en/press/corp-com/release/betu14_e/images/141226e0201.pdf

  • Tokyo plans to accelerate Fukushima accident recovery. The Reconstruction Agency will locate based for homes and offices inside the mandated evacuation zone to prepare for the return of evacuees. A bill to make it happen will be submitted during the next Diet (Congressional) session. The plan calls for tax exemptions for sales of land in Okuma Town, meaning landowners will not have to pay income tax on sales up to $420,000. The bill will also allow business owners to write off reserve funds for capital investments as losses. http://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/english/news/nuclear.html

  • The government and Tepco may end some business compensation in February of 2016. They have proposed this to Fukushima Prefecture's commerce and industry federation. Those businesses that would not lose their post-accident subsidies would be in the agricultural, forestry and fisheries sectors. The Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry, and Tepco, are seeking input from the prefectural federation. Federation Secretary-General Hideki Endo doesn’t like it, "Fukushima business owners face different situations depending on their evacuation statuses and their business categories. While we understand the need to draw the line somewhere, we cannot accept the end of compensation payments within a year and a few months from now when the nuclear disaster has still not been brought to a conclusion and there are no prospects that harmful rumors will end in the foreseeable future." Those whom would at-risk include self-employed residents and small to medium sized businesses. The proposal seems to be the result of the Fukushima government’s asking for policy direction on compensation. When the compensation was first mandated in December, 2013, the committee charged with overseeing the program said it would be reasonable to end the pay-outs when owners are able to run their businesses at pre-accident level. Tepco’s records show that almost $17 billion has been paid in business compensation, up to this point. This is roughly 85% of the some $20 billion that has been disbursed under the heading “Corporations and Sole Proprietors”. http://mainichi.jp/english/english/newsselect/news/20141227p2a00m0na007000c.html

  • Five Minamisoma mothers have written a booklet about radiation. The information comes from regular informational seminars organized by the five women. The mothers call themselves “Veterans Mother’s Society”. Their booklet is entitled Radiation and Health Seminar. The seminars began in December of 2011 with Dr. Masaharu Tsubokura of the Tokyo Institute of Medical Science. Other doctors have since joined in the at-least-monthly presentations. Children are brought to the meetings and ask the experts many questions like, “Is it OK to lick the snow?” and “Can radiation be transmitted from one person to another?” Over the past two years, the questions did not change much, so the five organizers decided to create a booklet answering the repeated questions.  20,000 copies of the Japanese version have been distributed, and an English version has been ordered by international schools and other English-speaking groups. http://ajw.asahi.com/article/0311disaster/fukushima/AJ201412290023

  • The Japan News says nuke restarts are important to keep electric bills under control. The Japan News is the English edition of Japan’s largest newspaper, the Yomiuri Shimbun. The high cost of using fossil fuels is causing electric rates to skyrocket. One prime example is Kansai Electric Co., which owns 11 of the currently-idled nukes. Kepco has applied for a general rate increase of 10% and 14% for corporate customers. This is the second time the company has been forced to raise the cost of electricity. Last Year, general rates were hiked 10% and corporate rates were hiked 17%. Hokkaido Electric was the first to have a second rate increase last November. Kepco says they are forced to have another rate hike because four of their nuclear units which were assumed to restart in 2014, have been delayed by the Nuclear Regulation Authority requirements for restart becoming more time-consuming. Kansai also said that while the recent drop in oil prices will help, it will not eliminated the $50 billion per year increase in fuel costs inflicted by the nuke moratorium. Kepco’s cost-cutting measures and consumer energy-saving measures are nearing their limit. If NRA delays keep the two Takahama units from operating until autumn, a third rate increase could happen. Kepco’s situation is common to most of Japan’s utilities owning nukes. Thus, the Yomiuri says it is “Increasingly important to restart N-plants to reduce need for energy rate increases.” http://the-japan-news.com/news/article/0001815644

  • Tokyo prosecutors will likely rule against indictments of three Tepco executives concerning the nuke accident. The office was forced to consider indicting the trio when a citizen’s panel ruled that the issue deserved prosecution. The citizen’s panel order followed the Prosecutor’s Office declining to charge 30 Tepco officials with negligence relative to nuclear safety precautions at F. Daiichi, last year. The non-indictment decision is expected to be made public early in this coming year. The reason is likely to be insufficient evidence. If this happens, the citizen’s panel can force court-appointed lawyers to try the case if 8 of the 11 on the committee vote in favor of indictment. http://www.reuters.com/article/2014/12/26/us-japan-nuclear-prosecution-idUSKBN0K404320141226

 

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