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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October 30, 2014

  • An unexpected wind gust caused minor damage to the roof of the unit #1 outer cover. A crane was being used to spray anti-dispersal chemicals through holes drilled in the roof. The wind was measured at a steady 7 kilometers per hour. But, a sudden gust arose and caused the machinery to move, making an opening one meter wide and two meters long. No increase in airborne radioactivity was detected. Work was suspended to further investigate.  http://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/english/news/20141028_20.html For a picture of the damage, click here… http://photo.tepco.co.jp/en/date/2014/201410-e/141028-01e.html

  • The timetable for removal of fuel from unit #1 has been revised. It is now planned to begin transferring the 392 used fuel bundles from the fuel pool in 2019, rather than 2017. The removal of melted fuel is now set for 2025, rather than 2019. The schedule changes are due to several reasons such as the recent issue with dismantling the temporary cover around the unit, installation of special machines to facilitate debris removal, and installation of the cranes and other technology for used fuel removal. The 40-year timetable for complete facility decommissioning has not been affected. Tokyo and Tepco are also reviewing plans for used fuel removal from unit #2. http://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/english/news/20141030_05.html -- http://ajw.asahi.com/article/0311disaster/fukushima/AJ201410300071

  • Cesium levels continually drop in the two wells which spiked last week. Last Wednesday, the Press reported that one well rose to 428,000 Becquerels per liter and the other to 458,000 Bq/liter. On Monday, NHK World said that the levels had dropped to 470 and 5,200 Bq/liter by last Friday. There has been no Press report on the levels since then. We have posted that the levels had plummeted to 1,000 and 3,700 Bq/liter by Sunday. On Wednesday (yesterday), the activities were down to 95 and 1,100 Bq/liter. Tepco says the wells are connected underground and may have cross-contaminated each other. http://www.tepco.co.jp/en/nu/fukushima-np/f1/smp/2014/images/around_2u_14103001-e.pdf -- http://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/english/news/20141028_13.html

  • American Dale Klein hails Fukushima’s “seven samurai”. Former NRC commissioner Klein praised Tepco’s efforts at F. Daiichi in his presentation to the American Chamber of Commerce in Japan. Referring to the seven decontamination systems at F. Daiichi, Klein said, "The 'Seven Samurai' represent significant progress in putting in place a comprehensive and sustainable water management plan." He also addressed Tepco’s smooth shift from emergency response to the long-term tasks of decontamination and nuke station decommissioning, saying that “an important page has been turned”. Klein also pointed out that Tepco needs to do more. The company’s safety culture concept must be embraced by the entire chain of command so that individuals feel free to speak up, identify possible problems, and propose solutions. The full text of Dr. Klein’s presentation can be found here… http://www.nrmc.jp/en/news/detail/index-e.html#date_20141029-103000  (Comment – While reading Dr. Klein’s speech, I reflected on my days as a US Navy nuclear operator. All of us, down to the most junior staff member, were trained to “speak our minds”, respectfully of course. My first engineering officer evoked Hyman Rickover when he said, “Woe be the sailor who sinks this sub because he was afraid to speak up!” It seems Tepco has embraced this important safety concept.)

  • Klein also suggested that a U.S. utility inspect currently-idled nukes. Tepco they might follow the suggestion with respect to the Kashiwazaki-Kariwa station in Niigata Prefecture. Klein believes the opinion on safety by of an “experienced operator” from outside the Japanese nuclear community can only help Tepco’s efforts in resuming operations. He also believes the world’s largest nuke station at Kashiwazaki-Kariwa should now be considered for restart, “They have gone through and added back-up systems to back-up systems to back-up systems.” In addition, Klein said Kashiwazaki’s restart in Niigata prefecture and the situation with Fukushima should be considered separately, even though Tepco owns both. However, Niigata’s governor, Hirohiko Izumida, feels otherwise, “The Fukushima accident has not been thoroughly investigated and completely reviewed yet, so the idea of setting up new nuclear safety standards on that basis is questionable. The first step is to have a complete evaluation of what happened in the Fukushima nuclear power plant accident and where responsibilities lie. Until then we can’t be discussing restarting nuclear plants.” http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2014/10/30/national/tepco-may-ask-u-s-utility-to-inspect-kashiwazaki-kariwa-nuclear-plant/#.VFJGq6N0wdU

  • Completion of the Rokkasho used fuel recycling plant has been delayed for the 22nd time. Operation is now planned to begin in 2016. The project has been in the works for nearly 20 years. The president of Japan Nuclear Fuel Limited, Kenji Kudo released the new plan to Aomori Prefecture today. The company says this latest delay is due to the rigors of meeting the NRA’s safety standards. http://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/english/news/nuclear.html

  • On Tuesday Satsumasendai City voted to approve the restart of Sendai station. Satsumasendai is the host community. 19 of the 26 assembly members approved resumption of operations, four were opposed and three abstained. Mayor Hideao Iwahiri immediately gave his approval, but added that a nuclear accident should be the responsibility of the Tokyo government which deemed the station’s safety adequate by the country’s new rules. While other local communities have protested the decision, Governor Yuichiro Ito rebuffed them saying they are not part of the legal process for restarts. It should be noted that the below link from Japan Times includes mention of a small fire at Genkai station, 5 kilometers from Sendai. The Times called it a “blaze” but other news outlets said it was merely a smoking circuit breaker – one is posted as an example. http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2014/10/28/national/local-government-gives-ok-restart-sendai-nuclear-power-plant-kagoshima-prefecture/#.VE-bSKN0wdU - http://english.kyodonews.jp/news/2014/10/319410.html

  • Residents of Shioya Town, Tochigi Prefecture, have petitioned to stop a proposed rural waste facility. The town is one of five designated for storage of the material generated by decontamination work in the prefecture. The Mayor of Shioya submitted the petition to the Environment Ministry on Wednesday. Shioya has a population of about 12,000, but the petition has some 173,000 signatures from all over Japan. The petitioners claim a permanent storage facility would threaten the town's water supply and accelerate population decline. A resident’s group representative said he expects the Ministry to understand how strongly people feel about the government's plan. The Ministry plans a meeting for the Prefecture’s mayors on November 9th. http://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/english/news/20141029_33.html

  • The NRA accepted a new earthquake assessment for Oi (Ohi) nuclear station. The Nuclear Regulation Authority approved Kansai Electric’s revised estimate increasing the worst-case quake intensity from 700 gals to 856 gals. The company says the new numbers will cause considerable reinforcement work at Oi, taking as long as a year to complete. The NRA will next examine Kansai’s revised tsunami estimates. In May, a district court ordered Kansai to not restart the two Oi units based on resident’s concerns. The two units were operated through the summer of 2013 without incident, and were the last nukes to have been shut down for the moratorium. http://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/english/news/nuclear.html

  • An Asia-Pacific journalist says restarting Japan’s nukes is “akin to playing Russian roulette”. The article says that Japan’s new regulations should never be compared to other nation’s rules because the country is perennially threatened by massive earthquakes, tsunamis, and volcanic eruptions, and is in the path of mega-typhoons. Although the writer admits the human damage due to the 2011 tsunami was far greater than the nuke accident, it is sloughed off by saying the tsunami refugees “are now pressing ahead with reconstruction plans…But not Fukushima [where] large swaths of the prefecture remain unsettled”. This misleading statement overlooks the undeniable fact that much larger swaths of Iwate, Miyagi, and Fukushima Prefectures are also unsettled. Rather than continue rebuffing this quite opinionated article, read it yourself and decide… http://japanfocus.org/events/view/231?utm_source=October+27%2C+2014&utm_campaign=China%27s+Connectivity+Revolution&utm_medium=email

October 27, 2014

  • New Industry Minister Yoichi Miyazawa says nukes will be less than 30% of Japan’s energy mix. He told the Press, “We’ll never aim for 30 percent [of electricity generated by nuclear power].” However, it leaves the door open to bring the nuclear percentage up to the 28.6% level that existed before the Fukushima accident. When asked why Tokyo will not plan for a higher nuke input, Miyazawa said, “Some nuclear power plants will be decommissioned in the future.” He implied that building new nukes and/or expanding outputs with existing nukes would be politically difficult. Miyazawa has come under some mild Press pressure because he owns 600 shares of Tepco stock. He said he bought them before 3/11/11 and “I can’t sell the shares under the ministers’ code of conduct. So I will entrust the shares [to a third party].”  http://the-japan-news.com/news/article/0001666620

  • Initial environmental studies in Miyagi Prefecture were delayed due to local protests. The surveys were planned by Tokyo for the towns of Kami and Taiwa, as well as Kurihara City. A team was sent to Kami on Friday, but was blocked from the site by Mayor Hirobumi Inomata and perhaps 50 residents. Initial work at the other two sites was also called off. The Environment Ministry says the local protest made beginning the siting surveys difficult. One official said, "It's difficult to proceed with our work in a situation like this." The future facilities will be used to dispose of Miyagi-produced waste, including incineration ash, sewage sludge and paddy straw, that has higher than the limit of 8,000 Becquerels per kilogram. It seems the work had not been announced early enough to suit the locals. Mayor Hirobumi said, "We cannot accept any forcible start of surveys."  http://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/english/news/20141024_27.html -- http://jen.jiji.com/jc/eng?g=eco&k=2014102400582  A second attempt to begin studies was thwarted on Saturday. This time, some 60 protestors blocked access to the proposed site in Kami, causing the plans for the other two community locations to also be cancelled. All three locations are on government-owned tracts of land. Further, Miyagi governor Yoshihiko Murai accepted the Ministry plans to collect soil samples. At Kami, there was a human blockade of the property access road with chants of “Go Home” and “We’ll never allow the disposal facility”. Protestors fear contamination of the town’s groundwater. One 56 year-old protestor said, "There's no guaranteeing our safety if a final disposal site is built here. We will continue our protest." The 72 year-old head of a local antinuke group said, "The Environment Ministry has no idea how much we're worried about economic damage rumors about this place will cause. I will not let them (the survey team) pass, even at the cost of my life." The Environment Ministry says they will consider forcible removing the protestors if this happens again. http://jen.jiji.com/jc/eng?g=eco&k=2014102500138 -- http://mainichi.jp/english/english/newsselect/news/20141025p2a00m0na014000c.html

  • Two wells inland of units #1-#4 have reportedly increased contamination levels. From the Press reports, the two wells seem to be part of the sub-drain system around the turbine basement walls which began operation last week. The system is designed to keep groundwater from entering the basements. The pumping of water from the two wells has stopped in order to determine the source of the contamination. Tepco suspects the cause is down-flushing of the Cesium from the upper soil due to recent heavy rainfall. The water pumped from the sub-drains is stored for treatment by the site’s purification systems for eventual discharge to the sea. The two wells previously showed less than 500 Bq/liter of Cesium, but both allegedly rose to at least 450,000 Bq/liter. http://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/english/news/nuclear.html Today (Monday), Tepco has posted the most recent Cesium Isotopic levels (10/25 and 10/26) for the sub-drain wells. The most contaminated well showed a steady decrease over the weekend. On 10/25, Cs-134 and Cs-137 were at 1100 and 3,900 Bq/liter respectively, and on 10/26 the levels were 1000 and 3,700 Bq/liter. This indicates the cause of the increase was, in fact, down-flushing of material from the soil above the water table. http://www.tepco.co.jp/en/nu/fukushima-np/f1/smp/2014/images/around_2u_14102701-e.pdf

  • The decision on indictment of three former Tepco executives has been postponed. The Tokyo prosecutor’s office had planned to decide on the matter by Friday, but said it has been difficult to interview the former Tepco chiefs and all of the needed experts. Last September, the office dismissed a criminal complaint filed by a citizens' group against roughly 30 former TEPCO officials. The citizens’ group refiled under the charge of negligence on the part of the three people facing indictment. The prosecutors said they should be able to make a decision by early February. http://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/english/news/nuclear.html

  • A volcano 64 kilometers from Sendai Station shows increased underground activity. A public warning has been issued to keep sight-seers away from the summit. Mount Ioyama is experiencing small, but continuing tremors. One meteorological official said, “There is an increase in activity that under certain circumstances could even lead to a small scale eruption, but it is not in danger of an imminent, major eruption.” Recent public reaction to the sudden eruption of Mount Ontake, plus critics of the Sendai plants being less than 50 km. from non-erupting Mt. Sukurajima, has brought the nuclear/volcano issue to the fore-front. On Friday, the warning level for the Sakurajima volcano, which erupts frequently, was at 3, which means that people should not approach the peak. http://www.japantoday.com/category/national/view/agency-warns-of-increased-activity-at-volcano-near-nuclear-plant?utm_campaign=jt_newsletter&utm_medium=email&utm_source=jt_newsletter_2014-10-25_AM

  • Volcanologists say a worst-case eruption could destroy Japan. Yoshiyuki Tatsumi and Keiko Suzuki of Kobe University say, “It is not an overstatement to say that a colossal volcanic eruption would leave Japan extinct as a country.” They estimate there is a 1% chance it could happen in the next hundred years, adding “It would be no surprise if such a colossal eruption occurs at any moment.” This prediction comes from geological studies of a 23 kilometer-wide crater in southern Kyushu formed about 28,000 years ago. They made no mention of the possible impact of such an eruption on affected nuke plants. http://www.japantoday.com/category/national/view/colossal-volcanic-eruption-could-destroy-japan-study?utm_campaign=jt_newsletter&utm_medium=email&utm_source=jt_newsletter_2014-10-27_AM

October 23, 2014

  • Tokyo sent another $880 million to Tepco for evacuee compensation payments. The money came from the government’s Nuclear Damage Compensation and Decommissioning Facilitation Corporation. Tepco recently submitted its 33rd request for compensation funds because there were not enough funds remaining to make anticipated disbursements through the end of November. The amount sent to Tepco by the NDF, to date, has been $43.76 billion. http://www.tepco.co.jp/en/press/corp-com/release/2014/1243341_5892.html

  • Tepco demands that a woman repay $90,000 of her compensation monies. The 21-year-old had planned on going to college before the nuclear accident. She was among the residents forced to evacuate from the exclusion zone around F. Daiichi by government mandate. She enrolled in a Kanto nursing school in April of 2011, and made that her legal residence. She graduated this past spring. Tepco says she decided to enter the college before the nuclear accident, and her period of evacuation ended when she changed her address. In June, her family received a notice to return nearly all of the money for mental anguish, the cost of evacuation, and household effects payments made since she changed her residence. Her family went to Tepco to protest, and Tepco said they would crunch the numbers again. The final bill was received by the family in September. The woman believes she has been wronged and says, "I have no prospects of being able to return home, and my psychological pain continues." The Education Ministry's office on measures for nuclear damage compensation says that, in general, if a person can't return home, then their period of evacuation does not end because of academic advancement. However, the nuclear damage response office within the Agency for Natural Resources and Energy under the Industry Ministry says this is a borderline case in defining whether or not compensation is warranted. http://mainichi.jp/english/english/newsselect/news/20141023p2a00m0na013000c.html

  • The dismantling of unit #1’s temporary cover has started. The huge structure was erected some three years ago to stop the outflow of radioactive material into the atmosphere. F. Daiichi staff has begun drilling holes in the cover in order to spray in anti-dispersal chemicals. At the end of October, part of the cover’s roof will be removed to find out if radioactive dust is released. Data from surrounding atmospheric monitors will be posted on the Tepco website. When debris was removed from unit #3, locals feared that dust was stirred up and contaminated rice paddies outside the exclusion zone. The unit #1 cover removal has been delayed since July to insure this doesn’t happen with its debris removal.  http://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/english/news/20141022_16.html -- http://photo.tepco.co.jp/en/date/2014/201410-e/141022-01e.html (Images of drilling the first hole)

  • The second pair of nukes to restart appears to be Takahama units #3&4. Both are Pressurized Water Reactor systems rated at 870 MWe. Unit #3 began using MOX (mixed oxide) fuel in 2011. MOX contains several percent fissionable Plutonium, in addition to fissionable uranium recovered through the recycling (reprocessing) of used nuclear fuel bundles. Station owner Kansai Electric Co. says they will submit completed tsunami calculations to the Nuclear Regulation Authority as early as next week, making it the most probable restart site after the Sendai nukes resume operation. The NRA has already cleared Takahama for earthquake structural integrity, and the upgraded tsunami data appears to be the only open technical issue remaining. Takahama is located on the Sea of Japan in Fukui Prefecture, more than 200 kilometers west of Tokyo and 5km from the Oi station which is home to the last two nukes to operate in the country. http://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/english/news/nuclear.html

  • The adoption of a petition to restart the Sendai nukes has caused enough local debate to attract Japan’s Press. Many residents support the Satsumasendai assembly decision. One positive comment came from a woman who says the station is a pillar of the local economy. Another resident adds that Japan needs a steady power supply, and that he has toured the Sendai facility and was impressed with the attention to safety. Contrary opinions have also been posted. An elderly woman says officials should take more care so that future generations can live without worries. Another woman says the city assembly has acted too hastily and has not taken the feelings of other Fukui communities into account. http://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/english/news/20141020_45.html

  • New Industry Minister Yoichi Miyazawa tries to avoid the local Sendai restart issue. He said it is not up to him to say what constitutes local community approval, and that “it is best decided themselves”. There are no laws or regulations to determine the matter. The host city, Satsumasendai, has been besieged by other communities around the plant site since the assembly’s decision. Two municipalities within 30 kilometers of the station submitted safety concerns to Satsumasendai in the form of 10 petitions, but the city’s Assembly rejected them. Miyazawa says his main concern is implementing responsible energy policy, but e does not believe he should intercede in local community disputes. Miyazawa recently replaced Ms. Yuko Obuchi after she resigned due to concerns about her use of funds from political supporter’s groups. http://blogs.wsj.com/japanrealtime/2014/10/21/japan-industry-minister-leaves-key-term-unclear-in-nuclear-debate/

  • Tepco has begun “hot testing” of its new, improved water purification system. It is a “high performance” version of the pre-existing ALPS systems, and will process about 500 tons per day. When all three systems are operating, F. Daiichi will have a capacity of 2,000 tons per day. The new ALPS will be able to remove all radioactive isotopes to below detectability, including Strontium-90, except for non-hazardous Tritium. The hot tests will run contaminated water through the technology for six hours per day, increasing the duration of operation to 24 hr/day by next week. Also, the new ALPS will produce 90% less radioactive waste material than the two other systems. So far, 158,000 tons of wastewater has been processed by the two prior ALPS systems. For a detailed links explaining all three ALPS systems at F. Daiichi, go to… http://www.tepco.co.jp/en/press/corp-com/release/2014/1243241_5892.html

  • Prosecutors must decide on criminal charges against Tepco executives by Friday. Legal experts say the judicial review is unlikely to send the executives to jail, but rehashing the nuke accident could amplify distrust of Tepco and damage Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's effort to restart Japan's nuclear reactors. Last year, Tokyo’s prosecutor’s declined a criminal complaint filed by Japanese residents who said Tepco failed to protect the public. But, a citizen’s review panel reopened the complaint under the notion of criminal negligence. To date, there have been many civil complaints filed against Tepco, and legally rejected. This is the first one to have been reopened. Shin Ushijima, an attorney and former public prosecutor, said, "Prosecutors exhaust all means in their investigations and certainly would have in a special case like this, so if they were convinced they could not prosecute [former Tepco Chairman] Katsumata and the others earlier, they will not reach a decision to indict now. There is a 50 percent chance that some or all of the three ex-Tepco executives will be indicted and 99.9 percent chance those indicted will be found not guilty." http://www.reuters.com/article/2014/10/22/us-japan-nuclear-prosecution-idUSKCN0IB05H20141022?feedType=RSS&feedName=worldNews

  • Former Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi says Japan’s nuke regulations are not the best in the world. He told a Tokyo symposium, "The government says Japan has the world's toughest safety standards for nuclear plants, but are they really tough compared with the United States, France or Finland? Not at all." He added that the public will not cooperate in finding a final disposal site for nuclear waste unless Tokyo guarantees a total nuclear abandonment so as “not to increase nuclear waste any more.” This marks a major departure from Koizumi’s previous, albeit unsuccessful, attempts at criticizing PM Shinzo Abe’s regime. Now, he is attacking the Nuclear Regulation Authority, which Tokyo touts as having the toughest nuke safety standards in the world. http://www.4-traders.com/KYUSHU-ELECTRIC-POWER-COM-6491331/news/Kyushu-Electric-Power--Ex-PM-Koizumi-raps-Abes-aim-to-revive-nuclear-power-19236052/

October 20, 2014

  • More than 99% of unit #4’s used fuel bundles have been removed from the damaged building’s fuel pool. As of 10/19/14, the staff at Fukushima Daiichi has safely moved 1342 (87.5%) of unit #4’s 1533 stored fuel bundles to the ground-level common storage facility without incident. Only 11 (<1%) of the original 1331 used (irradiated) bundles remain to be transferred. http://www.tepco.co.jp/en/decommision/index-e.html

  • The percentage of evacuees refusing to go home continues to rise. The Reconstruction Agency says the number of dissents to repopulation has risen to almost half in the communities of Namie and Tomioka. This is an 11 point increase from last year for Namie and a 3 point upsurge for Tomioka. Officials say it seems that some of last year’s “undecided” have made up their minds. http://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/english/news/nuclear.html

  • Additional decontamination has begun in Kawauchi village. The specific locations are inside the district Tokyo says is safe for repopulation. The reason for the added cleaning is due to many residents are hesitating because radiation is still detectible, even though exposures will be considerably lower than Japan’s standard for repopulation. Tokyo has identified 23 specific locations for the additional work. Removing top-soils at two vacant houses on Friday lowered exposure 90%, and is now is about a third of a microsievert per hour. This equates to about 3 millisieverts per year which is a typical natural exposure level in the United States. Unbridled fear of radiation, no matter the level, is costing Japan time and money, as well as delaying Fukushima recovery. http://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/english/news/20141017_29.html

  • Nuclear volcano-phobia is supported by a Tokyo volcanologist. University of Tokyo professor emeritus Toshitsugu Fujii heads a government panel looking into the risks of volcanic activity with respect to nukes. He says it is impossible to predict when volcanoes will erupt, thus it makes no sense to operate nukes near them, “It is simply impossible to predict an eruption over the next 30 to 40 years. The level of predictability is extremely limited… Scientifically, they’re [Sendai station nukes] not safe. If they still need to be restarted despite uncertainties and risks that remain, it’s for political reasons, not because they’re safe, and you should be honest about that.” Sendai is 40 kilometers from the nearest volcano, but Fujii says that an eruption in the far-distant past hadlava flows of 145 kilometers. He said a pyroclastic flow from Mount Sakurajima, an active volcano that is part of the larger Aira Cauldron, could easily hit Sendai station. Fujii feels the impact of the resulting speculated nuclear accident would cause greater problems than the volcanic eruption itself. http://www.japantoday.com/category/national/view/expert-says-2-sendai-reactors-in-danger-from-active-volcano?utm_campaign=jt_newsletter&utm_medium=email&utm_source=jt_newsletter_2014-10-18_AM

  • Satsumasendai city approves the Sendai Station restart. Most of the city assembly’s special panel on the issue favored the restart because of a sluggish economy due to the nuke moratorium. Some were opposed because they felt NRA regulations cannot guarantee there will never be a nuke accident. The panel debated petitions both favoring and disapproving resumption of operations. The ten dissident petitions were rejected and the favorable petition was adopted. The full assembly is expected to adopt the positive petition as early as next week. http://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/english/news/nuclear.html

  • Tepco shows its advanced ALPS system to the Press. ALPS is the multi-nuclide removal system that has already successfully treated more than 130,000 tons of wastewater at F. Daiichi. However, the processed water contains detectible levels of five isotopes, including Strontium-90. Fear of Sr-90 has supplanted fear of radioactive Cesium in the Japanese Press over the past several months. The new ALPS equipment will remove all five of the niggling isotopes. In addition, the existing system’s absorption materials are being replaced with resins that will be just as effective. None of the ALPS systems can remove radioactive Hydrogen (Tritium), which is biologically innocuous but will undoubtedly be the main radiophobic concern at some point in the future. Regardless, the total daily purification capacity will be more than 2,000 tons per day when all of them are working in unison. http://mainichi.jp/english/english/newsselect/news/20141017p2a00m0na007000c.html

  • Greenpeace says electrical distribution problems due to renewable feed-ins are merely a utility company ploy to restart nukes. Greenpeace campaigner Hisayo Takada says, “It sounds inconsistent that a power company says it plans to restart a nuclear plant on the one hand, and on the other says it does not want solar power because there is not enough demand.” He adds that there is no way to verify the power company claims, so they can hide the truth, “If a utility says it can’t transmit solar power on its grid, currently no one can verify the claim because the grid system is a closed box to outsiders.” Hikaru Hiranuma, research fellow at the Tokyo Foundation, agrees with Greenpeace, saying that utilities should not be allowed to control electricity distribution, “[Utilities] can set up barriers to new entrants to the power market, by, for example charging for transmission and imposing penalties for unstable electricity supply. The causes of the emerging problem is not the [Feed In Tariff], but utilities’ failure to prepare for growth in solar power... which raises a question about the utilities’ suitability as business entities.” http://www.japantoday.com/category/national/view/green-power-floods-japan-grid-as-premium-prices-bite?utm_campaign=jt_newsletter&utm_medium=email&utm_source=jt_newsletter_2014-10-19_AM

October 16, 2014

  • As of 10/14/14, the staff at Fukushima Daiichi has safely moved 1298 (85%) of unit #4’s 1533 stored fuel bundles to the ground-level common storage facility without incident. Only 55 (4%) of the original 1331 used (irradiated) bundles remain to be transferred. http://www.tepco.co.jp/en/decommision/index-e.html

  • As of 10/10/14, Tepco has paid-out $43.5 billion (USD) in personal and property compensation to Fukushima evacuees. A full $40 billion has been disbursed to the roughly 75,000 that were ordered to evacuate by Tokyo. $3.5 billion has gone to voluntary evacuees from outside the exclusion zone. http://www.tepco.co.jp/en/comp/images/jisseki-e.pdf

  • Japan’s Cabinet Office has created a nuclear accident preparation team. The office will assist local authorities in drawing up emergency plans based on the lessons learned from the Fukushima accident in 2011. Previously, the Cabinet has been an advisor to Japan’s affected municipalities with no-one assigned to the job full time. This has brought harsh criticism from minority politicians in the Diet and most of Japan’s Press. The issue has come to a head with the impending restart of the two-unit Sendai station. As a result, the Cabinet created the new group and drafted about fifty full time persons from the Nuclear Regulation Authority and other relevant government agencies. While the initial focus will be on Sendai, all municipalities needing planning support will be assisted. Support will necessarily vary to meet the specific needs of each municipality. http://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/english/news/nuclear.html

  • Tepco has a reason for the recent upsurge in groundwater radioactivity. In April of 2011, a steady stream of contaminated water was found flowing into one of the equipment tunnels coming out of the unit #2 turbine basement. It was several days before Fukushima staff could stanch the outflow. A considerable amount of contamination must have seeped into the soil above the underground water table, and remained there. Officials say the heavy rainfall from Typhoon Phanfone likely caused radioactive substances in the soil to move down into the groundwater. The typhoon moved off-shore on October 6th. Over the next three days, activity levels increased in several observation wells between the turbine basement and the barricaded shoreline. One of the wells has shown its highest Cesium activity to date. Tepco will increase the frequency of sampling and testing at three of the wells, from twice weekly to daily. It is not known how far from the tunnel the contamination was spread. http://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/english/news/nuclear.html

  • Debris removal for unit #1 might be delayed. Before removal of debris can begin, the massive steel and polyethylene cover around the unit must be at least partially dismantled. But, because debris removal from unit #3 in August, 2013, resulted in detectible rice paddy contamination many kilometers from F. Daiichi, considerable Press and political pressure has occurred to prevent a repeat with unit #1 clean-up. The debris inside the unit enclosure must be removed before stored fuel bundles can be removed. Tepco says they will drill about 50 holes in the enclosure and spray resins inside to keep dust from becoming airborne. Work to remove the debris is scheduled for next March, which marks a several month delay with respect to the initial time-frame. Debris removal is now hoped to begin in 2016. The time-table for fuel removal is still for the spring of 2017, but a change in that schedule is now likely. http://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/english/news/nuclear.html -- http://ajw.asahi.com/article/0311disaster/fukushima/AJ201410160049

  • A Japanese nuclear expert recommends using the Fukushima Daini as a fast reactor research facility. Nobuo Tanaka, professor at Tokyo University and former executive director of the IAEA, says Japan should definitely restart its reactors to reduce the nation’s reliance on Middle Eastern oil and gas. The Wall Street Journal interviewed Tanaka on their Japan Real Time website. Concerning restarts, Tanaka says, “Japan has almost no natural energy resources. Giving up on nuclear power would put the country’s energy security at risk.” Tanaka also said he is a proponent of fast reactors because they are less prone to meltdowns than the current nuclear fleet, “[Fast reactors] are not necessarily prone to meltdowns, depending on their design. They also burn almost all problematic radioactive materials. What is leftover only needs keeping for 300 years or so. As they don’t need uranium enrichment, they also present less of a proliferation risk…I am suggesting that Tokyo proceed with the development of fast reactors using the Fukushima Daini plant.” He added that F. Daiichi could be decommissioning research facility. http://blogs.wsj.com/japanrealtime/2014/10/15/japan-could-use-fukushima-to-develop-safer-nuclear-technology/

  • Tokyo is having trouble finding all owners of the land intended for temporary rural decontamination debris storage. Of 2,356 plots within the proposed site, the government has only found 1,269 owners. The environment Ministry has had their staff searching for the property owners, but a significant fraction cannot be found. The ministry says that if the owners are not found, or do not come forward, it will consider using family courts to appoint property administrators. Environment Minister Yoshio Mochizuki said they will send out officials when land owners come forward. http://ajw.asahi.com/article/0311disaster/fukushima/AJ201410150056

  • The governor of Niigata Prefecture says the cause of the Fukushima accident is not fully understood. Governor Hirohiko Izumida is not convinced by conclusions about the accident reported by Tepco and Tokyo. Also, he charges the NRA with a lack of attention to emergency planning. Thus, Izumida says he cannot support the restarts of the two Sendai units in Kagoshima Prefecture, and will not approve any possible resumption of operation of units at Kashiwazaki-Kariwa in his prefecture. He added that because Tepco was responsible for the Fukushima accident, it has no qualifications for operating a nuclear plant in his region. Politicking in Tokyo, Izumida told reporters, “Protecting the residents’ lives and safety is the most important task for me as governor. I don’t even want to discuss a restart.” http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2014/10/16/national/niigata-governor-says-soon-reactor-restarts/#.VD-2yKN0wdU

October 13, 2014

  • Sendai station locals are briefed on nuke safety, and many are not convinced. Two Pressurized Water Reactor units at Sendai in Kagoshima Prefecture are expected to be the first Japanese nukes restarted, possibly as early as December. However, Japan’s nuke regulator (NRA) seeks local approval before Sendai operations can resume. The Agency ruled last month that Sendai station met all post-Fukushima safety requirements. Now, NRA officials are explaining their decision to Kagoshima residents; primarily from host city Satsumasendai, the municipality which is the most important in the decision chain. Meetings with four other nearby municipalities are planned. Some local residents objected, saying the revised earthquake standards underestimate the maximum conceivable temblor. Others argued that measures to cover tsunamis and serious accidents must be upgraded. The NRA responded that maximum conceivable quakes have been considered, as well as all worst-case accident scenarios. More than 1,000 showed up for another meeting on Sunday. They were barred from recording the proceedings and questions about emergency evacuation plans were not allowed. One woman complained, “What is the point of the meeting, then?” Greenpeace called the meeting a “farce”. http://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/english/news/nuclear.html -- http://www.japantoday.com/category/national/view/japan-pitches-nuclear-restart-in-tightly-controlled-town-hall-meetings

  • Japan Times reports new highs in groundwater radioactivity. On Saturday, Tepco said that heavy rains caused by Typhoon Phanfone probably caused the spike due to the unusually high influx of rainwater percolating down to the groundwater. The Times says that one well contains 150,000 Becquerels per liter of Tritium, allegedly 10 times the well’s previous high. But, Tepco’s record of highest well activity to date doesn’t show this. In fact, compared to most wells east of the turbine buildings have shown much, much higher levels in the past. Tritium is the innocuous isotope of hydrogen which exists naturally in all waters of the world. Also, it emits the lowest known energy Beta radiation. Further, because Tritium is hydrogen, it is part of the water molecule. Thus it will necessarily flow with the water it is in. The high influx of rainwater causing a new Tritium “spike” in one of the wells should come as no surprise. However, Tepco told the Times that they had no idea why this was happening. On October 2nd, one well in the units #1&2 cluster had 150,000 Bq/liter of Tritium (the same value as the “new” level), but the Times did not mention this. The Times adds that a new “all-Beta” level of 1.2 million Bq/liter was found. The report adds that another well between units #1&2 contained 2.1 million Bq/liter of “all-Beta”, including 68,000 Bq/liter of Strontium. In this case, the peak is a new high for a specific well (#1-6). Regardless, all of the specific wells are located in the cluster of about a dozen between the seawater discharge structures for units #1&2, but the report does not specify which of the piezometers showed the new readings. This has historically been the group of wells with the highest groundwater contamination levels, in most cases orders of magnitude greater than the observation wells between units #2&3 and units #3&4. It should be noted that all of the mentioned piezometers are inside the solidified soil barrier that seems to have stopped the seaward flow of groundwater.  http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2014/10/12/national/tritium-surges-10-fold-in-groundwater-at-fukushima-nuclear-plant-typhoon-effect-suspected/#.VDp5FKN0wdU -- http://www.tepco.co.jp/en/nu/fukushima-np/f1/smp/2014/images/tb-east_map-e.pdf  -- http://www.tepco.co.jp/en/nu/fukushima-np/f1/smp/2014/images/2tb-east_14100902-e.pdf  

  • Informed sources say Tokyo is considering a “freeze” on the renewable feed-in tariff. The tariff was invoked after the Fukushima accident as an incentive to accelerate Japan’s use of solar and wind-based electrical generation. The move has caused a virtual avalanche of companies building solar-powered sources. Under the tariff, utilities are forced to purchase all generated power at greatly inflated prices to offset the great costs of construction. However, the intermittent nature of solar generation, combined with the output peaks occurring at mid-day have caused troubling instabilities in utility distribution networks. If the instabilities worsen, blackouts could ensue. Freezing the tariff is a step to be presented to the Industry Ministry next week. Other possibilities are a surcharge cap on consumer costs specific to construction and allowing higher prices for electricity supplied by other sources.  http://mainichi.jp/english/english/newsselect/news/20141011p2g00m0dm104000c.html

  • The Asahi Shimbun says “now is the time to listen to nuclear pessimists”. Japan’s second largest newspaper cites several of the country’s most prominent antinuclear activists. Ex-Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi wants to stop any and all restarts of Japan’s nukes. He challenges current PM Shinzo Abe’s push for restarts, saying, “I am telling the prime minister every so often: Why don’t you go ahead with pulling the plug on nuclear power? There is no better time than now. You are such a fortunate prime minister. Why don’t you try when you can?” Abe responded, “The future of Japan depends on what we do now,” he said. “Let us not pessimistically come to a halt, but rather move forward, believing in our potential.” Another nuclear dissenter of note, Nobelist author Kenzaburo Oe, says, “The intense and unambiguous national sentiment and calls for resistance against the use of nuclear power, which immediately followed the 2011 Fukushima nuclear disaster, may be losing steam,” adding that nuke restarts are being sought by “the most narrow-minded optimists”. Another antinuke from Kagoshima Prefecture says restarting the Sendai nukes will place “our lives at stake”. The Asahi says now is the time for Tokyo to listen to the pessimists and keep the now-idled nukes of Japan permanently shut down. http://ajw.asahi.com/article/views/column/AJ201410120009

October 9, 2014

  • 94% of the used fuel bundles have been removed from unit #4 fuel pool. As of October 6th, 1254 0fthe 1331 used (irradiated) bundles have been safely transferred to the common storage facility. 77 remain to be moved. http://www.tepco.co.jp/en/decommision/index-e.html

  • The new ALPS water purification system is undergoing “hot testing”. A hot test runs contaminated water through the system. Stream A began its testing on Sept. 17, stream B began on Sept. 27, and stream C is expected to start its test run any day now. This three-unit system will be run in parallel with the pre-existing ALPS operation. The new system is expected to be fully operational by the end of the year, doubling the current rate of purification. The two systems will be able to process up to 1,500 tons of water per day. In addition, an “advanced” ALPS system with greater treatment capabilities is expected to begin hot testing later this month. http://www.jaif.or.jp/english/news_images/pdf/ENGNEWS01_1412582270P.pdf

  • Japan opens a new nuclear risk research center. Central Research Institute of Electric Power Industry (CRIEPI) formally established the Nuclear Risk Research Center (NRRC), headed by former American NRC Commissioner Dr. George Apostolakis. Dr. Apostolakis[ emphasized that “utilities are primarily responsible for risk management,” and the center is to support their risk measures. The NRRC has a staff of about 110, consisting of three teams: Planning/administrative, natural event research, and risk assessment. Chairman Makoto Yagi of the Japanese Federation of Electric Power Companies (FEPC) says he will make every effort to mirror the activities of NRRC in the business activities of the FEPC members. http://www.jaif.or.jp/english/news_images/pdf/ENGNEWS01_1412582200P.pdf

  • New American contributor Rebecca Terrell says “Fukushima’s children aren’t dying”. Terrell is a Practical Nurse specializing in Alzheimer’s and dementia, and an Associate Member of Scientists for Accurate Radiation Information. In her report, she uses a considerable amount of scientific evidence to reject sensationalist claims of a child thyroid cancer epidemic in Fukushima Prefecture. Terrell explains that the Fukushima child thyroid investigation is unparalleled in Japan, and the seemingly-alarming results are most likely due to it being the first study of its kind. In fact, she points to three other parallel studies in Japan, far from Fukushima, which reveal that the rate of Fukushima thyroid cysts and nodules is the lowest of the bunch. Terrell adds that the discovery of Fukushima Prefecture likely having he lowest rate of thyroid anomalies had virtually no Press coverage outside of Japan, which she says is “understandable since drama-seeking sensationalists have no nuclear power plants to blame.” [aside – We saw only two reports from inside Japan when the data from the three non-Fukushima prefectures was released. – end aside] In addition, Terrell also points to a Wall Street Journal blog that shows the rate of these anomalies in Okuma, one of F. Daiichi’s host communities, is no different than with Inawashiro, which is a hundred kilometers distant. If the nuke accident releases were actually causing thyroid anomalies in children, the occurrence nearest the damaged plant should be significantly higher than that happening far away. Much of Terrell’s report summarizes the work of prominent radiation biologists and other reputable researchers who have taken issue with the “no-safe-level” notion (a.k.a. Linear/No Threshold) continually promulgated in the Press and by nuclear-critical writers. She explains the historical sources of this flawed, unscientific assumption, and that large populations world-wide receive exposures many times greater than the limits mandated in Japan without negative health problems. Terrell concludes, “Anti-nuclear activists and nuclear disarmament proponents cling to the discredited hypothesis [LNT], sacrificing lives and economies for the sake of an imprudent political agenda.” Though lengthy, I highly recommend taking the time to read this report in its entirety. http://www.thenewamerican.com/world-news/asia/item/19253-fukushima-s-children-aren-t-dying

  • Japan’s nuke watchdog says the 3/11/11 quake did not cause the nuke accident. Rather, the the sole culprit was the tsunami that struck 45 minutes after the temblor subsided. On Wednesday, the NRA issued its findings which are based on a detailed examination of the factual evidence. The study was invoked because of Japan’s congressional investigation’s (NAIIC) suggestion that the quake-itself could not be dismissed as a possible accident cause. Convincing data showed the NRA that all operating units at F. Daiichi remained stable until the tsunami hit and destroyed the plant’s emergency power sources. Hokkaido University nuclear engineering professor Tamotsu Kozaki said “You cannot say there was no damage by the earthquake at all. But you can say the major cause was the tsunami, looking at the data.” Regardless, nuclear critics in Japan say the NRA report is merely an attempt to cease the accident investigation. http://blogs.wsj.com/japanrealtime/2014/10/08/tsunami-not-quake-seen-as-main-cause-of-fukushima-accident/

  • The NRA says they will not use “SPEEDI” to direct nuclear accident evacuations. SPEEDI is a computer-based system to predict the spread of radioactive releases into the atmosphere using topographic and meteorological data inputs. It was not used during the Fukushima accident because the Prime Minister (Naoto Kan) did not trust the forecasts, calling them inherently inaccurate. Politicians in Tokyo have mixed feelings about SPEEDI, with some echoing the PM Kan notion of inaccuracy, and others believing its use could have avoided unnecessary public exposure during the chaotic evacuation. It appears the NRA feels SPEEDI dissenters have the strongest case, so the system will not be used. http://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/english/news/nuclear.html

  • A large Fukushima rice “test crop” will be destroyed, even if it is not detectibly radioactive. The 25-acre paddy is in Okuma, located inside the mandated exclusion zone. The crop yield is considerable, but farmer Kanichi Hasegawa says he has mixed feelings because the rice cannot be sold even if tests show it is safe. Okuma officials say that the outcome of testing could be a step towards Okuma’s repopulation. http://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/english/news/20141007_34.html

  • Nuke plant restarts will probably not reduce Japan’s use of natural gas, but will decrease Japan’s costly oil imports. While most Press around the world (including Fukushima Accident Upd