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)

NEW E-BOOK - "Kimin: Japan's Forgotten People" - the untold story of Japan's 300,000 tsunami refugees, ignored by the world's news media. Now available at all E-book stores/sites... Click here for more...

Fukushima: The First Five Days... a book taken from the staff records at Fukushima Daiichi the first five days of the crisis. Fukushima : The First Five Days is available at E-book stores, including Amazon, Barnes&Noble and Koble.  Click here for more...

Please consider a holiday donation. Why not a gift for your Fukushima reporter? 

December 18, 2014

  • Earthquake and tsunami debris clean-up has finally begun in Futaba Town. Futaba is one of the two host communities for F. Daiichi. The work has begun in the Morotake area and along the tsunami-devastated coastline. Morotake is located inland, about three kilometers northwest of the nuke station. The tsunami debris to be removed from the Futaba coast is estimated to be about 5,000 tons, including beached driftwood and demolished housing material. The Environment Ministry estimates the full amount of debris to be removed from the two locations will be about 13,000 tons. Contamination and radiation levels are low enough to allow the work to occur. The debris will be taken to a provisional storage site for close inspection before a decision is made on final disposal. Community official Rokuro Saito said, “At last, Futaba town’s reconstruction begins.” http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2014/12/17/national/debris-clearing-starts-futaba-3%c2%bd-years-tsunami/#.VJGGRqMcQdU –- http://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/english/news/20141217_28.html

  • The draft NRA report for Takahama Station indicates that restarts are allowable. The Nuclear Regulation Authority review of the paperwork for units #3&4 indicates that Kansai Electric Company (Kepco) has passed all safety check-points. The 430-page draft indicates that measures to cope with possible severe accidents fulfill the NRA safety standards. Kepco has shown that earthquake and tsunami protection has been upgraded to meet the post Fukushima criteria. Quake safeguards were originally designed for a ground movement of 550 Gal, but has been improved to handle an acceleration of at least 700 Gal. 981 Gals is equal to acceleration due to gravity (~9.8 meters/sec2). The tsunami break-wall has been raised to 8 meters in order to handle the worst-possible wave height of 6.2 meters. In addition, Kepco installed back-up emergency cooling pumps and hydrogen mitigation units to prevent the core damage and hydrogen explosions suffered at F. Daiichi. A 30-day public input period begins today. http://the-japan-news.com/news/article/0001796949 -- http://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/english/news/nuclear.html -- http://jen.jiji.com/jc/eng?g=eco&k=2014121700244

  • Japan’s first all-MOX nuke is ready for government safety review. As reported in our last update, the currently under-construction Oma nuclear plant owners have applied to the NRA for preliminary assessment. It will be the world’s first all-MOX-fueled reactor. MOX is the acronym for Mixed Oxide, which is manufactured from recycled fuel bundles. The fissionable isotopes will be both U-235 and Pu-239. The Mainichi Shimbun says there are problems with MOX fuel which is different from Uranium-only fuels, and spins it to make it seem that MOX is more difficult to control. While this would be true if the same control rods were used as are found in Uranium-only cores, the Oma reactor will use control rods specifically designed for MOX-only cores. Thus, reactor power control should be no more difficult than with Uranium-only cores. The NRA has not approved the MOX design, as yet, which the preliminary safety application should cover. Approval will effectively resolve any regulatory concerns about the reactor power control technology. The Mainichi makes many other criticisms, all of which are more speculation than fact. The Oma plant is in northern-most Aomori Prefecture, across the Tsugaru Strait from Hokkaido City. The City is ~30km from Oma and has filed a lawsuit to have construction halted because of radiation fears. http://mainichi.jp/english/english/newsselect/news/20141217p2a00m0na009000c.html

  • Tepco says more than 3,700 Fukushima evacuees have not filed for compensation. Executive Vice President Yoshiyuki Ishizaki said 3,713 had yet to apply for full compensation as of the end of November. This is about half of the number a year ago. Tepco reports that roughly 400 of the non-applicants have yet to be found, indicating that about 3,300 of the non-applicants have been contacted but have not filed claims. The company’s Fukushima Revitalization Headquarters says 750 qualified voluntary (designated as “provisional”) evacuees have not filed for their temporary compensation. The total number of qualified claims stands at about 166,000, more than half of which are from outside the Tokyo-mandated exclusion zone and thus designated as provisional. http://jen.jiji.com/jc/eng?g=eco&k=2014121800656

December 15, 2014

  • 98% of the fuel bundles are removed from unit #4. All used bundles have been transferred to the ground level common storage facility for more than a month. The only bundles that remain (26) are unused. It seems that the last unused bundles will be removed within a week. http://www.tepco.co.jp/en/decommision/index-e.html

  • Evacuee financial indemnification now tops $45 billion. Cash compensation pay-outs are nearing $20 billion for the roughly 75,000 Tokyo-mandated evacuees. This averages to about $600,000 for every man, woman, and child ordered to evacuate by the government. Property and proprietor compensation totals more than $20 billion. Indemnification for voluntary evacuees still stands at about #3.5 billion. http://www.tepco.co.jp/en/comp/images/jisseki-e.pdf

  • A few Japanese news sources say Sunday’s landslide victory for PM Shinzo Abe’s party is expected to boost reactor restarts. Although the election did essentially nothing to change the nation’s political landscape, Japan Times and Kyodo News speculate that Abe will increase his efforts to get Japan’s idled nukes back on-line. http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2014/12/15/national/abe-set-boost-efforts-revive-nuclear-power-election/#.VI7pLKMcQdU -- http://english.kyodonews.jp/news/2014/12/327219.html

  • NRA chief Shunichi Tanaka says that cement should stop contaminated inflow to equipment tunnels. Tanaka visited F. Daiichi on Friday to tour the plant and look at the work being done. He inspected the multiple barriers keeping groundwater and possible leakage from reaching the sea and thinks the safety of the plant has improved. Tanaka then checked on the recent decision to pour concrete into equipment tunnels containing contaminated water. While stating the contaminated water situation is his greatest concern, he said the new method of stopping inflow to the tunnel out of unit #2 seems to be successful. http://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/english/news/nuclear.html

  • NRA chief Tanaka also said fully-treated water must be released to the sea. He sees no other way to mitigate the buildup of both contaminated and decontaminated water at F. Daiichi. Japan’s leading liberal newspaper (circ. ~ 7 million), the Asahi Shimbun, spins this into the following headline, “NRA head signals massive release of tainted water to help decommission Fukushima site”. In the article, Tanaka says, "I was overwhelmed by the sheer number of tanks (holding water tainted with radioactive substances). We have to dispose of the water." But, he added the caveat, “We also have to obtain the consent of local residents in carrying out the work, so we can somehow mitigate (the situation). While (the idea) may upset people, we must do our utmost to satisfy residents of Fukushima." Tanaka promised that the NRA would provide information to local residents based on continuing studies of radioactive elements in local waters. http://ajw.asahi.com/article/0311disaster/fukushima/AJ201412130042

  • Okuma Town OKs interim storage of rural decontamination material. The Okuma assembly made the decision after Mayor Toshitsuna Watanabe said he would accept Tokyo’s temporary storage plan. The assembly said the explanation of the overall plan is sufficient enough for them to approve interim storage, but the government’s proposed property compensation is insufficient. They also said they had no choice but to accept Tokyo’s proposal in order to speed up reconstruction of their town. Mayor Watanabe said it was time to make a decision. But, he said that he only accepts construction of the facilities, adding that the central government needs to sign a safety agreement before bringing in waste. Tokyo wants to begin shipments in January. http://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/english/news/20141212_30.html

  • Owners of Oma nuclear plant will apply for a preliminary safety screening on Tuesday. It will be the first application for a safety check with a facility under construction. Japan’s Electric Power Development Company (J-Power) plans on full-scale operation of the 1383 MWe unit in 2021. The Tuesday application explains J-Power’s plans to meet the new regulations set by Tokyo since the 2011 Fukushima accident. It is expected that the screening of the plans will take about a year before J-Power makes the the changes needed to meet the new rules. http://the-japan-news.com/news/article/0001792242

  • South Korea will run surveys on Fukushima fish products. This is in response to formal Japanese protests over Korea’s continuing ban of seafood products from Fukushima and seven other surrounding Prefectures, some as far away as the eastern Tokyo metropolis. The ban has been in place since September, 2013. A Korean research team will visit wholesale markets on the Fukushima and Chiba coasts, focusing on the analyses being run to check for contamination. Their findings could lead to Korea reconsidering the import ban. Japanese Deputy Chief Cabinet Secretary Hiroshige Seko said, "Japan strongly hopes that South Korea will deepen its accurate understanding through the survey and that the ban will quickly be abolished.” http://the-japan-news.com/news/article/0001786572

December 11, 2014

  • Japan’s nuke watchdog ponders higher emergency exposure limits for nuclear workers. Currently, the limit is 100 millisieverts per year. During the height of the 2011 Fukushima accident, Tokyo temporarily raised this to 250 mSv/yr. The Nuclear Regulation Authority is now considering a standard of 250 mSv, which will conform to limits set by other countries. In addition, the NRA says individual workers should give informed consent before being exposed to more than 100 mSv in a year. Along with the possible increase, nuke companies will have to educate and train workers in radiation protection before allowing them to be exposed. NRA Chairman Shunichi Tanaka says it’s appropriate to set the limit to 250 millisieverts because it was briefly used during the accident without any health consequences, and it would be comparable to medium exposure levels set by countries overseas. http://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/english/news/nuclear.html (By comparison,  the US EPA has the following annual limits for emergency workers... 5 rem (50 mSv) for all occupational exposures, 10 rem (100 mSv) for "Protecting valuable property necessary for public welfare (e.g., a power plant)", and 25 rem (250 mSv) for "Lifesaving or protection of large populations". http://www.remm.nlm.gov/pag.htm#worker )

  • Japan’s largest newspaper calls for a realistic debate on nuclear energy. The Yomiuri Shimbun says many of Japan’s minority (opposition) parties are calling for the immediate abolition of nuclear energy, no matter what the cost. The Democratic Party of Japan, in power until December 2013, said “every possible resource” should be employed to reduce nuclear energy needs to zero. The Japanese Communist Party calls for an “immediate reduction of nuclear power generation to zero”, while the Social Democratic Party insists that currently-idled nukes should never be restarted and all new construction be stopped. However, realistic plans on how this will be accomplished without placing Japan’s energy needs in critical jeopardy while reducing Japan’s deeply-negative balance of trade are never presented. The Yomiuri says, “Insisting on cutting nuclear power generation to zero without coming up with specific measures to find alternative power sources should be deplored as extremely irresponsible.” The newspaper adds, “Should nuclear energy be phased out in a haphazard manner, technology developed over the years could be lost. This could affect the technology needed to resolve the aftermath of the crisis at the Fukushima plant, the decommissioning of the reactors and the final disposal of radioactive waste.” Tokyo’s hasty decision to promote renewables and guarantee their profitability has placed Japan’s distribution system at risk. The Yomiuri says, “Depending excessively on certain types of power sources is considered too risky from the viewpoint of energy security.” http://the-japan-news.com/news/article/0001774736

  • A study on Fukushima children shows no detectible internal concentrations of radioactive Cesium. Whole body measurements of students attending 22 schools in Minamisoma City were administered between May and July, 2013. Of the 3,299 tested students, 3,255 were screened during school health check-ups. None had detectable levels of Cs-134 or Cs-137. Maximum estimated exposures indicate that none of the children will ever exceed the national goal of one millisievert per year. The report, Absence of Internal Radiation Contamination by Radioactive Cesium among Children Affected by the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant Disaster (Tsubokura, et.al.) has been posted in the Health Physics Journal. Since the report itself is behind a pay wall, we are providing a link to a surprisingly objective article on it in the Daily Kos. http://www.dailykos.com/story/2014/12/02/1348947/-Studying-Radioactive-Cesium-Contamination-of-Children-Affected-by-the-Fukushima-Disaster#

  • Believe it or not, canned Fukushima air is being successfully sold by a Tokyo teenager. He says he’s doing it to shock the public into reviving the debate over the 2011 accident. The 17-year-old high school student, mono-named Atsu, said, “I want to try to surprise people and renew interest in the nuclear accident.” Last summer, he went to the Fukushima Prefecture’s coast to inject its air into the cans. Upon return, he began selling it. He recalls thinking, “I’m sure it’ll attract both support and criticism and spur debate. And debate will generate interest.” Atsu says his sales have sparked a bit of negativity. Some say he is just seeking publicity for his budding art business, while others say Fukushima evacuees no longer need assistance. On the other hand, many people in Fukushima Prefecture express support. Atsu says, “I thought there would be more criticism.” The air in the cans has been analyzed and generates between 0.05 and 0.09 microsieverts per hour, well below the national goal of 0.23 µSv/hr. The cans sell for about $5 each (600 yen). All procedes are donated to the Japanese Red Cross. http://ajw.asahi.com/article/0311disaster/fukushima/AJ201412090007

  • An F. Daiichi worker claims that he and his co-workers have been forgotten by Tokyo. The man claims that they experience harsh working conditions, are not paid enough, and worry about their radiation exposure. As a third-tier contract employee, the man receives about $1,800 per month in pay and defines his working conditions as “harsh” because he must wear protective clothing and dosimetry. He adds that his most recent radiation exposure was 1.8 mSv and he is nearing his annual 20 mSv limit. He complains, “I feel that people are gradually forgetting about the nuclear accident. From now, our work will become even harsher because we will have to go inside the reactor buildings, where the radiation level is even higher. I want people to recognize that there are such workplaces.” http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2014/12/10/national/fukushima-forgotten-1-plant-workers-feel-voters-dont-realize-ordeal/#.VIhIE6N0wdU

December 8, 2014

  • Tokyo will have Fukushima’s rural contaminated material stored the facility’s land is purchased. Government sources say that companies owning land in Okuma and Futaba have agreed to let the wastes be moved to their plots. Environment Ministry officials say the materials will be transported to two industrial complexes straddling the two towns in advance of purchase agreement closure. It seems the storage will be “rent free” until all financial negotiations are complete. It is expected to take a month to prepare the storage facilities before materials can be shipped, therefore the goal of beginning the transportation process in January may be optimistic. Privately-owned lands are another issue. Owners are scattered throughout the island nation and some have been difficult to contact. In addition, other owners have been hard to identify because of confused inheritance procedures. Meanwhile, local communities currently holding the millions of tons of rural wastes continue to call for the government to remove the packaged debris as soon as possible. http://the-japan-news.com/news/article/0001771695

  • A new thermal decomposition complex will handle contaminated waste and debris. The new facility is in the Shimokawauchi District of Futaba County, and is the second in Fukushima Prefecture; the other is in Iitate village. The facility disposes of waste and debris from wrecked structures caused by the 3/11/11 quake and tsunami. It is located on a 7,400 square meter tract owned by the government and has an incinerator, ash-discharging room and ash storage facility. Waste and debris are crushed and subjected to a temperature greater than 800oC for complete destruction. Exhaust gas is released through a two-stage process for the removal of radioactive Cesium. Other facilities are planned to start in Minamisoma, Tomioka, and Katsurao between March and April. Two units are under construction in Namie and the Warbidaira District of Iitate. http://www.fukushimaminponews.com/news.html?id=439

  • Tokyo’s knee-jerk effort to promote unbridled development of renewables hits another snag. Two utilities, Kyushu and Tohoku Electric Companies, report they can only accommodate about 47% of the available renewable-generated electricity. Their reasons have to do with the existing transmission systems. Under the current “feed-in” tariff, renewable energy developers are literally guaranteed that their power will be bought by the utilities at inflated rates, which promise an immediate profit for the sellers. However, the amount of electricity that can now be produced by new, inherently-intermittent solar facilities poses serious risks in frequency and voltage disruptions that could cause power outages. Currently, Kyushu and Tohoku say that if they accept more than ~50% of the available solar-generated electricity, system reliability cannot be guaranteed. http://the-japan-news.com/news/article/0001773622

  • Another lawsuit is filed to try and stop nuke Fukui restarts. Nine plaintiffs from Fukui Prefecture, Osaka, and Kyoto say that the two units at Takahama station and two at Oi station are getting close to restarting, thus there is an “actual and looming risk” of a nuclear accident. They want the four units barred from operation. This comes on the heels of Shiga District Court’s rejection of another court’s ruling that the Oi units would be barred from restart since allegedly insufficient measures had been taken to cover all disaster contingencies. The Shiga court said it is unlikely that Japan’s nuclear regulator (NRA) would make hasty restart decisions. This new suit appears to be yet another attempt by the vocal minority to keep Fukui Prefecture’s nukes from ever operating. http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2014/12/05/national/fresh-suit-filed-in-fukui-over-plan-to-restart-kepco-reactors/#.VIGvJ6N0wdU -- http://english.kyodonews.jp/news/2014/12/325786.html

  • Two roof panels of the unit #1 enclosure have been replaced. The two were removed over the past month to see if any detectible radioactive dust would be released to the atmosphere. Since nothing had been detected, Tepco had the panels put back on. The company will wait until March to remove the entire roof and surrounding structure in order to clear away the debris caused by the March 12, 2011 hydrogen explosion. http://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/english/news/20141204_22.html

December 4, 2014

  • An esteemed radiation expert is snubbed by the Japanese Press. Dr. Wade Allison of Oxford University made a science-based plea to the Foreign Correspondents Club of Japan (FCCJ) yesterday, 12/3/14. There has been nothing in the Japanese Press about this…not even in the typically-balanced Yomiuri Shimbun (Japan’s largest newspaper) and NHK World. The reason? Dr. Allison said nothing scary or frightening about radiation! In fact he contradicts Japan’s ridiculously low, assumption-based radiation standards and instead calls for science-based realism. If something this different from the norm had been spoken by an antinuclear prophet of doom, many (if not most) Japanese press outlets would have made this a top story of the day. I am proud to be an internet colleague of Dr. Allison, and take distinct umbrage with Japan’s Press due to their complete lack of coverage. Dr. Allison has shared a summation of his presentation and graciously allowed me to post it here… http://www.hiroshimasyndrome.com/time-for-the-scientific-environmental-and-economic-truth-about-nuclear-power.html A YouTube video of the presentation can be viewed here… https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A2syXBL8xG0&list=UUaY31Acbdk1WUQfn304VCZg  A report on Dr. Allison’s presentation has been posted by fellow colleague Rod Adams at Atomic Insights… http://atomicinsights.com/wade-allison-foreign-correspondents-club-japan/

  • A global eco-radiation institute opens in Fukushima University. The Institute was formally established in July, 2013, to study the impacts of radiation from F. Daiichi, but was not in full operation until Wednesday. Takayuki Takahashi, director of the institute, explained its purpose, "With varying factors such as terrain, soil composition, water flow and vegetation, each region is influenced differently by radiation. Rather than conducting symptomatic treatments, we aim to take part in the recovery efforts by clarifying what effects radiation has in a scientific scope.” The Institute has 13 researchers, nine of which are from other countries. The facility has nine highly-sensitive germanium semiconductor units that can detect the most minute concentrations of radioactive isotopes, and an electron microscope that can magnify up 3 million times. Takahashi said, “When we make progress, we will inform the public to give them a better understanding of our work.” http://ajw.asahi.com/article/0311disaster/fukushima/AJ201412040069

  • JAIF releases details on filling equipment trenches with mortar. The report is posted by the Japan Atomic Industrial Forum. In April, 2014, Tepco began trying to freeze the water in an equipment trench leading from unit #2 to its sea=side water intake structure. It turns out it was not a total failure. 90% of the water did in fact freeze, but about 10% remained liquid. The company next injected filler material into cracks in the trench walls, but that did not stop the water inflow keeping the remaining liquid from freezing. Thus, on November 25th, Tepco began injecting a special mortar that will congeal under the water, while removing contaminated water that is displaced. The mortar takes about 12 hours to harden. It is believed this will eventually seal off the trench from further contaminated water in-flow. http://www.jaif.or.jp/english/news_images/pdf/ENGNEWS01_1417428481P.pdf

  • American Dale Klein says Tepco needs to have a foreign-based safety review. He feels that bringing in nuclear plant operators from outside Japan would provide the added assurance the company needs in order to regain trust. Klein told Reuters, “I would like to see what I call a readiness review. You’ve got regulatory aspects - Do you meet everything? Do you have right training? - and then, I think, because of Fukushima Daiichi, the Japanese public would feel better if another group came in and said operationally they are ready. I have been pushing for that.” Klein added that Tepco is making progress in developing a safety culture modeled after such companies as Toyota to ensure quality. Klein lamented that “it’s going slower than I would like.” http://www.japantoday.com/category/national/view/tepco-needs-safety-review-from-foreign-nuclear-operators-adviser?utm_campaign=jt_newsletter&utm_medium=email&utm_source=jt_newsletter_2014-12-03_AM

  • Conditions remain severe in the Japanese nuclear industry. JAIF has posted its annual fact-finding survey of the Japanese nuclear power industry for FY13 (April 2013 to March 2014. JAIF distributed questionnaires to 446 private companies in Japan that have nuclear-related expenditures, sales and workers, and had responses from 263 of them, including 11 utilities, 240 mining and manufacturing companies and 12 trading companies. The comprehensive summary can be found here… http://www.jaif.or.jp/english/news_images/pdf/ENGNEWS01_1417509837P.pdf.

  • Some evacuees fear politicians don’t have their interests in mind. Poet Chikara Kojima, a Katsurao village evacuee, writes, "The senseless radiation that falls on the Futaba region residents robbed them of their homeland, and the people, dispersed with ease, wander aimlessly under far away skies." His wife says that Prime Minister Abe cares more about money than evacuee needs, "The economy is more important to him than what is happening to us evacuees. The politicians have forgotten about Fukushima, about the disaster-hit areas." Katsutoshi Sato, 53, who heads a Shiga Prefecture association for evacuees, says, "Even now there are many people who cannot return to their homes. I want the candidates in this election to face that fact and debate about support policies." There are 235 evacuees living in free housing Shiga Prefecture, which is more than 300 miles from F. Daiichi. Many are concerned they will lose the prefecture’s housing stipend when it comes up for annual renewal after the impending House of Representatives election. One of them, voluntary evacuee Katsutoshi Sato from Soma, says, "Even now there are many people who cannot return to their homes. I want the candidates in this election to face that fact and debate about support policies…In the election [later this month], I want the candidates to clearly lay out what the issues are and specifically say how they will address them. Just chanting 'recovery from the disaster' will not bring our lives back to how they were." http://mainichi.jp/english/english/features/news/20141202p2a00m0na028000c.html (Comment - I think the interview with the two people above is the result of seeking out and finding evacuees that fit the Mainichi Shimbun’s journalistic agenda. If this was really a major issue, other news outlets would be covering it, as well. In addition, voluntary evacuee Katsutoshi Sato could have gone home long ago, but has decided to stay in Shiga Prefecture. Is his complaint really worthy of Press coverage? I think not.)

  • A British scientist tells Japanese antinukes that the United Nations cannot be trusted. Keith Baverstock has a long history of denouncing UNSCEAR and WHO reports on the biological effects of low level radiation exposure. He was brought to Tokyo by a local citizens group. Baverstock told the Asahi Shimbun, one of Japan’s most popular newspapers, that last April’s UNSCEAR report on Fukushima exposures was “not qualified to be called scientific” because it allegedly lacked transparency and independent verification. He called for UNSCEAR to be disbanded.  He argued that exposures to F. Daiichi workers will cause about 50 cancers in the group. Baverstock also suggested an internal conspiracy within the UN to cover up what he calls the truth. http://fukushimaupdate.com/british-researcher-blasts-u-n-report-on-fukushima-cancer-risk-as-unscientific/ (Comment – The wild speculations of a hardened critic of international agencies such as Baverstock gets Press coverage in Japan, while the science-based words of an internationally-respected scientist such as Wade Allison gets no coverage at all. This is so wrong that it defies finding words to describe it.)

December 1, 2014

  • Fukushima Medical School Professor Shinichi Suzuki says the reported Fukushima child thyroid cancers differ genetically from Chernobyl’s. 23 of the prefecture’s 103 confirmed thyroid cancer cases underwent additional genetic analysis. The study focused on gene variations in the cancer cells. Observed mutations were the same as those commonly found in Japanese adult thyroid cases. Also, the type of gene variations commonly found among the Chernobyl cases was not detected among any of the 23 analyzed Fukushima cases. Thus, it is highly unlikely that the child thyroid cases specific to post-accident Fukushima children are due to the nuclear accident releases. http://www.fukushimaminponews.com/news.html?id=435

  • Tepco has received another $738 million for evacuee compensation. Tokyo’s Nuclear Damage Compensation and Decommissioning Facilitation Corporation (NDF) sent the money to cover compensation payments for December. The NDF has thus far supplied more than $43.8 billion. As of November 28, Tepco has paid out nearly $45 billion. http://www.tepco.co.jp/en/press/corp-com/release/2014/1244500_5892.html -- http://www.tepco.co.jp/en/comp/images/jisseki-e.pdf

  • Japan is confident that all contaminated wastewater will be treated by the end of March. At this point, about 520,000 tons of wastewater is stored at F. Daiichi. Nearly 200.000 tons have been run through the multi-stage isotopic removal systems, including Cesium absorption technology and the Advanced Liquid Processing System (ALPS). Roughly 320,000 tons remain to be treated. The only radioactive isotope that remains after full treatment is biologically-innocuous Tritium. (click on Background Information on Tritium in the left hand column) ALPS can now process 1,500 tons per day, but upgrades will soon bring that to 2,000 tons per day. Tepco says they are still on schedule to meet the end-of-March deadline. Tatsuya Shinkawa, director of the government’s Nuclear Accident Response Office says, “We’ll continue to be vigilant to make sure Tepco meets the deadline.” Nuclear Regulation Authority Chair Shunichi Tanaka adds that the waters must be radiologically cleansed because another big earthquake or typhoon could break the tanks holding liquid yet to be ALPS-treated, sending large amounts of contaminated water into the environment. Tokyo University professor Hiromitsu Ino says that even after all waters are processed, the residual Tritium will not be able to be removed and, “For the real solution, they have to stop the flow of new ground water.” http://blogs.wsj.com/japanrealtime/2014/11/28/fukushima-watch-japan-confident-it-can-process-all-highly-contaminated-water-by-end-march/

  • Critics say Japan’s new secrecy law could have a negative impact on nuclear plant information during an accident. Tokyo says that nuclear energy information will not be classified as state secrets, implying the critics are wrong. The Mainichi Shimbun counters with a typical appeal to uncertainty and doubt, “Nuclear reactors, however, could be a terrorist target, and as such, there's no guarantee that information about nuclear plants vital to the safety of the Japanese people won't be classified.” Local officials near F. Daiichi seem to support the speculation. Soon after 3/11/11, then-PM Naoto Kan ordered all information on the nuke accident to be run through his office before release. The resulting level of transparency was horrendous. Minamisoma Mayor Katsunobu Sakurai remembers his shock that contamination estimates were withheld for more than two weeks, causing many evacuees to be unnecessarily exposed to radiation. He said, “I’d never seen anything like it,” and fears the secrecy law will make withholding of emergency information possible. Sakurai says he’s worried that information on nuclear accidents and emergencies could again be kept secret, adding, “We'd be in trouble if that ever happened." Namie Mayor Tomotsu Baba is also concerned, "The main principle here is not the protection of secrets, but the release of information" to the people. He stated that SPEEDI and other information "was hidden from us. They [Tokyo] told us that they didn't know how accurate the information was, and that they kept it under wraps to prevent a panic. Well, human lives are far more important than all that. This is a basic issue that comes even before any discussion about whether such information would be classified secret.” http://mainichi.jp/english/english/newsselect/news/20141128p2a00m0na016000c.html

November 27, 2014

  • The pouring of cement into a contaminated trench began Tuesday. 80 cubic meters of cement was poured into the trench, but did not increase the water level enough to required removing any of it. Work was then suspended for a month to allow the cement to harden and see if the measure has stopped the inflow of water from the turbine basement. http://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/english/news/nuclear.html  

  • Analysis for Strontium will be greatly sped up. A new water analytical technique has been developed by the combined efforts of Fukushima University, PerkinElmer Japan, the Japan Atomic Energy Agency, and the Japan Agency for Marine-Earth Science and Technology. Currently, analysis for Sr-90 takes at least two days, but the new technology will reduce that time to as little as 30 minutes at a minimum detectability of one Becquerel per liter. Professor Yoshitaka Takagai, team leader at Fukushima University, said, "This system is really quick and handling is very simple as compared with the traditional method. Indeed, we hope it to be useful in preventing the discharge of contaminated water and accelerating the decommissioning of the reactors." new technique is called "inductively coupled plasma-mass spectrometry" (ICP-MS) which measures differences in mass rather than Beta emission. It will be used in areas where prompt assessment of Strontium90 presence is important. http://www.tepco.co.jp/en/press/corp-com/release/2014/1244484_5892.html

  • JAIF says the NRA finding of the fault (K) under Tsuruga-2 as active is based on “thin reasoning”. Last week, the Nuclear Regulation Authority judged a fault line running under the nuke unit to be technically active because no one can conclusively prove that it has not moved in the past 120-130,000 years. Japan’s Atomic Industrial Forum sided with Japan Atomic Power Company’s rejection of the finding. The NRA announced the decision without any JAPCO representatives present, which appears like a convenience tactic. JAIF says the NRA finding completely ignored “the massive amount of survey data presented by the JAPC to show no active fault exists.” Further, “…there was scant demonstration of supporting data and interpretations at the meeting indicating the existence of an active fault, casting huge doubt on the ‘scientific fairness’ and ‘open decision-making’ espoused by the NRA.” JAIF makes three key points; (1) K fault includes volcanic ash from around 127,000 years ago representing a clear difference in era, (2) test borings confirmed that the ash accumulation corresponds to the era in which the rock stratum formed, and (3) an intermediate layer exists that has not been affected by the fault line. JAIF adds that the NRA used no evidence to reinforce its decision, although considerable geologic evidence exists to show there has been “no seismic activity there since the Late Pleistocene”. Further, JAIF says the NRA assumption of the K fault connecting to the distant D-1 fracture zone is incorrect. They are entirely different faults which indicates they are not connected. Thus JAIF concludes, “The NRA only mentioned “possibilities” and “inferences,” while failing to demonstrate any concrete evidence or supportive data that would be sufficient to overturn the evaluation that the JAPC had made based on its survey data,” and “All of the NRA’s judgments can be sufficiently rebutted and disproved, and can hardly be described as ‘scientific judgments’ based on the regulatory standards.” http://www.jaif.or.jp/english/news_images/pdf/ENGNEWS01_1416877039P.pdf

  • Rice fields 20 km from F. Daiichi were not contaminated by unit #3 debris removal. Some media reports in Japan speculated that detectible activity in the paddy fields of Minamisoma were “tainted” by radioactive dust stirred up by rubble removal with unit #3. The NRA reports that the levels of radioactivity in the fields were at most 30 Becquerels per square meter, which is far below the limit for arable soils. It is possible the detectable activity came from surrounding soils and trees that remain contaminated by the March 2011 releases from the nuke accident. http://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/english/news/20141126_31.html

  • Kepco shares some of the requirements for licensing extensions. As we have reported earlier, Kansai Electric Company is considering applying for 20 year extensions of the operating licenses for two Takahama Station units nearing the new 40 year limit. Kepco has revealed some of the inspections required by the NRA’s “stringent” regulations for licensing extensions. The special inspections will include ultrasound tests on the reactor vessels’ welds and eddy current tests on the primary coolant nozzles to identify cracks. There will also be an inspection of the reactors’ containment vessels and their concrete barriers, also for cracks. All monitoring sensors inside the reactor vessel will also checked. The inspections are expected to take several months and the results could be known by early spring. http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2014/11/26/national/kepco-wants-extend-lifespan-40-year-old-takahama-reactors-60-years/#.VHXsJqN0wdV

  • A lawsuit against Takahama and Oi restarts has been rejected. About 180 residents in the nearby prefectures of Shiga and Kyoto and elsewhere had filed the petition about 4 reactors at the Ohi and Takahama nuclear power plants. They pled that Otsu District Court says quakes and tsunami can be worse than anticipated and nukes should not be allowed to restart. Judge Yoshihiko Yamamoto said it is unlikely the NRA will be overly hasty in allowing the reactors to resume operation, dismissing the residents’ claim. He said here is no need to bar the restarts. Yamamoto added that the units will not be restarted until all NRA screenings are finished and emergency plans are completed. The Otsu court decision contradicts an earlier Fukui court decision that the Oi units should not be restarted because electric plants are “merely a tool for generating electricity and thus inferior to people’s fundamental rights.” One petitioner said the court’s finding to leave the restart decision to the NRA is unjust. http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2014/11/27/national/suit-against-fukui-reactor-restarts-fails/#.VHcZ0KN0wdU --  http://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/english/news/nuclear.html

November 24, 2014

  • Tsunami clean-up inside the Fukushima exclusion zone has finally begun. On Friday, 11/21/14, work on dismantling the ships beached by the 3/11/11 tsunami started. There are about seventy stranded vessels, mostly fishing boats; 62 in Namie, six in Tomioka, and one each in Minamisoma and Naraha. Cranes are being used to remove cabins and other open deck structures as the first step. The Environment Ministry plans to have the project done by the end of March. Similar efforts have been completed in Miyagi and Iwate Prefectures, but nothing had previously been done inside the exclusion zone due to contamination concerns. However, it seems that there is so little radioactivity on the ships that the Ministry feels there will be no problem with dismantling and disposing the waste materials. http://ajw.asahi.com/article/0311disaster/recovery/AJ201411210063 -- http://jen.jiji.com/jc/eng?g=eco&k=2014112100403

  • The first public evacuation drill in Fukushima Prefecture occurred on Saturday. It took place in Kawauchi Village, roughly 30 km southwest of F. Daiichi. More than 250 residents and about 1,000 local government officials took part in the exercise. The mock scenario was unit #3 at F. Daiichi having a prolonged loss of spent (used) fuel pool cooling due to an earthquake of “upper 6” on Japan’s scale, roughly similar in magnitude to 3/11/11. Japan’s scale runs from 0 (least intensity) to 7 (worst-possible intensity). The scenario assumed that radioactive materials were released, causing Kawauchi to register a 20 microsievert per hour radiation exposure level. (~175 millisievert/year) Residents evacuated to Tamura and Koriyama, while 27 students at an elementary school were moved to Tamura.  http://the-japan-news.com/news/article/0001738983  

  • Tepco will stop equipment tunnel water inflow with cement. Their unsuccessful freezing effort ended earlier this month and did not stop the inflow from the attached turbine building basements. Tepco made the formal announcement to the Nuclear Regulation Authority on Friday. The trench of most concern runs about 60 meters from unit #2 to its seawater intake structure, holding 5,000 tons of highly contaminated water. The company told the NRA they want to pour cement into the tunnel and remove contaminated water at the same flow rate as the cement pour. It seems Tepco will first fill the deepest part of the trench with concrete and see if that stops the inflow of water. If not, they will continue filling the tunnel. Tepco estimates that 1-3% of the contaminated water will mix with the concrete and become part of the hardened mass. The NRA questioned if the new plan would work and voiced concerns about cracks forming once the cement hardens. One commissioner asked why they didn’t do this in the first place. The other trench of concern runs from unit #3 to its intake structure and holds about 6,000 tons. Tepco says they should have both tunnels finished by January so they can complete building the frozen wall around the four units. http://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/english/news/nuclear.html -- http://mainichi.jp/english/english/newsselect/news/20141122p2a00m0na015000c.html

  • Kansai Electric Co. continues to weigh licensing extensions. Tokyo has told all Japanese utilities to decide whether or not to apply for license extensions for the units at or near the post-Fukushima 40 year limit on operations. Kepco has two units at the Takahama station that should be the first to be considered. Tokyo says the decision must be made by next July. Kepco President Makoto Yagi says they will base their decision on a 20-year economic forecast and whether or not the units will turn a profit during that period. Fukui Prefecture’s Governor Issei Nishikawa says local governments should also be involved in the process. He says, “Local governments, as well as utilities, have to check the decommissioning process and this will require funding. Where will midterm storage facilities be built? Where will a final storage facility for the spent fuel and nuclear waste be located? It’s necessary for the central government to be deeply involved.” Also to be considered is $200 million per year in state subsidies that the local communities will lose if the units are scrapped. Then there’s the general negative feelings toward nuclear plants expressed by most of the prefecture’s public. Further, if the units are to be restarted, the emergency planning and local consent issues must be resolved. In addition, the antinuclear entities want their say. Aileen Mioko Smith of Green Action, a Kyoto-based anti-nuclear lobby, said, “It is particularly unconscionable for the Abe government to open the way for old reactors to operate when the Fukushima accident is ongoing.” http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2014/11/23/national/kepco-weights-new-lease-life-geriatric-reactors/#.VHMvF6N0wdU

November 20, 2014

  • A Tokyo single mother laments her “radiation panic” over Fukushima. Yuka Shirai of Tokyo’s Tama district was mentally devastated by the quake and news of by the tsunami of 3/11/11. The next day, the nuclear accident became the lead news story across Japan. Shirai, who runs a self-owned seminar planning business, fell into a radiophobic panic. She writes, “I had a nervous breakdown; all I could think about was the situation at the nuclear power plant and radiation pollution, and I was always gathering information about it every waking hour… I couldn't shake my anxiety. I felt dizzy, had headaches, weakness, and was constantly harried by heart palpitations. My physical condition was at its worst.” She got all of her information from internet sources, social media, and like-minded people she met on the web. Shirai says, “The information sources were all people who were becoming well-known by spreading dark and tragic information. There were a lot of different people, from anonymous sources to university professors and researchers. Looking back on it, I think I believed a lot of strange people, but at the time, I thought they were right. As for people labeled as “government scholars” who were disseminating accurate information, I was certain they were wrong, and I ignored them.” Shirai’s anxieties also affected her family, “For my food, I only used ingredients from places far from Tohoku, such as Western Japan, Hokkaido, or overseas. I stockpiled large quantities of rice that was harvested before the nuclear accident. I'm a single mother, and I not only forced my kids to wear masks to school, I also raised questions to the Board of Education regarding the safety of their pools and school lunches. My kids resisted, and I fought with them every day. But even then, I was certain that I was correct and ignored how my kids felt. Every day, I gathered inaccurate information and disseminated it myself.” She came to realize she had become very discriminatory when she saw how poorly Fukushima refugees in her community were being treated. Her road to recovery has not been easy, but she feels much better now. Her biographical piece is fairly long, but well worth reading in its entirety. It gives us first-hand insight as to the devastating psychological and social effects of radiophobia in Japan. http://www.gepr.org/en/contents/20120507-03/

  • A minor water leak was discovered at Ikata nuclear station, Ehime Prefecture. Workers found traces of leakage on piping insulation in the wastewater treatment building for unit #2. The system solidifies concentrated low-level radioactive wastewater by mixing it with asphalt. It is estimated that 34 grams of dried leakage accumulated beneath the insulation, containing boric acid and Cobalt-60. The radioactivity was 1/500th of the level required for reporting to the government. http://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/english/news/20141118_39.html

  • Tokyo has passed a bill insuring Fukushima’s rural rad-waste storage will be temporary. The bill requires the government to have a final disposal site selected and operating in 30 years. Tokyo is currently acquiring sites adjacent to F. Daiichi in the communities of Okuma and Futaba for temporary storage of material generated by Fukushima Prefecture’s decontamination projects. The government hopes to start transporting existing material to the temporary facility in January. The interim facility will be run by Japan Environmental Safety Corp. http://jen.jiji.com/jc/eng?g=eco&k=2014111900364

  • Tokyo’s nuke watchdog says a seismic fault runs under the Tsuruga station, Fukui Prefecture. The geological seam in question runs under unit #2, an 1160 MWe Pressurized Water Reactor system. A Nuclear Regulation Authority seismic panel had judged the seam as potentially seismic in May of last year, but station owner Japan Atomic Power Company disputed the judgment and submitted additional data. The NRA panel says they considered the new JAPCO data, but found that it could not prove that the seam under the station would not move at some point over the next 120-130,000 years. The panel based this on the possibility that the crease under Tsuruga may connect to a known seismic fault in the region. Actually, there is no proof the seam under unit #2 is not connected to the seismic fault, but the panel assumed it is. JAPCO President Taiki Ichimura described the decision as a “unilateral assumption” and was confident that it could be proven incorrect. http://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/english/news/nuclear.html -- http://the-japan-news.com/news/article/0001733453


Earlier Posts >>