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Fukushima Accident Updates (Blog)

The web's top source of objective Fukushima News. No "spins"...just summaries of news reports in Japan's Press, which calls the Fukushima accident a nuclear disaster. Beginning in 2017, posts will occur weekly.

The are three regularly-updated pages concerning widely-reported Fukushima issues on this site; Fukushima Evacuee Compensation Payments (updated monthly), Fukushima Child Thyroid Cancer Issue and Is There Fukushima Radiation on North America’s West Coast? (both updated when new information is available)

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January 19, 2017

  • No Fukushima radioactivity was found in Alaskan fish for 2016. The results were released by the Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation. The data was similar to that of 2015. However, this was the first time a field-deployable gamma spectrometer was used, supplied by the US Food and Drug Administration. This device could be used during a nuclear emergency to effect rapid analyses of environmental samples. Alaska’s DEC says they will continue seafood monitoring through 2017, and possibly beyond.

  • Here’s a correction on last week’s Kyodo News report on Fukushima seafood contamination. Kyodo said that 95% of the more than 8,000 fish tested had contamination levels that were “hardly detectible”. Japan’s Atomic Industrial Forum reports, “…radioactive cesium was not detected (i.e., less than the detection limit value) in 8,080 specimens, or some 95.0 percent of the total.” Not detected is considerably different from hardly detectible. JAIF adds that the specimens were taken from the Pacific Ocean within a 20 kilometer radius of F. Daiichi. (Comment – With severe radiophobia infecting millions of Japanese, it is imperative that popular news outlets report accurately. Kyodo News ought to post a correction.)

  • Japanese flounder are thriving in Fukushima’s off-shore seawater. A new scientific report in Fisheries Oceanography states “…the waters off Fukushima have effectively been serving as a marine protected area (MPA) for Japanese flounder since the FNPP accident.” The report adds, “These findings indicate that the effective MPA has not only influenced the abundance of Japanese flounder but also the abundance of other commercial species.” The increases in flounder abundance have been at least two-fold, and may possibly have increased by a factor of six! An article on the report in Hakai Magazine says the phenomena mirrors what has happened to wildlife populations within the Chernobyl exclusion zone where “thriving wildlife populations in the absence of people and are “struggling to find” effects of the radiation on wildlife…” --

  • More rural debris is no longer designated as radioactive waste. The Environment Ministry has lifted the designation for about 200 kilograms of the material stored in Yamagata Prefecture. The reason for the declassification is that recent monitoring proved that the wastes are well-below the government standard of 8,000 Becquerels per kilogram. The private company storing the material can now dispose of it as general waste. This is the second instance of rural debris contaminated by Fukushima isotopes has been declassified.

  • Fukushima Prefecture plans on doing more to quell unfounded radiation rumors in the marketplace. Many Tokyo retail outlets continue to shun selling foods from the prefecture. As a result, Fukushima is considering an independent campaign to show these skittish food retailers that they are making a mistake. The prefecture wants to set up (corners) at supermarkets to disperse Fukushima foods using several marketing tactics such as free giveaways, sales subsidization, free tastes of the foods, and food lotteries for consumers. If Tokyo supermarket chains refuse to offer these safe foods, then Fukushima Prefecture will do it for them.

  • METI proposes that Tepco set aside funds for decommissioning F. Daiichi. The Ministry of Economy, Trade, and Industry will submit a draft bill to Japan’s Diet (congress) making the companies responsible for nuke accidents pay all costs for station decommissioning. Funds will be regularly deposited by the “organization” (in this case Tepco) and approved annually by the industry minister. Moneys will subsequently be withdrawn according to a plan created jointly by the organization and METI. All withdrawals must gain the minister’s OK.

  • The NRA approves the safety upgrades for Genkai units #3 & #4. The Nuclear Regulatory Authority issued its preliminary assessment in November, where post-Fukushima safety measures were accepted but a few additional measures needed to be taken based on submitted public comments. These measures were addressed satisfactorily. However, restarts cannot occur until final equipment designs are approved, inspections passed, and local government permissions are garnered. The final assessment of the NRA was issued Wednesday (yesterday) after more than 4,200 public comments were studied. The NRA concluded there was nothing new concerning regulatory compliance in the comments. There are now ten nuclear units that have met regulatory standards and are capable of safely restarting, with two operating (Sendai 1, Ikata 3), one in its first refueling outage (Sendai 2), two that would be operating if it weren’t for a court injunction from a neighboring prefecture (Takahama 3 & 4), and five in the process of making final preparations for restart. -- -- (Comment - An excellent graphic depicting the ten in-compliance units can be found with the above Japan News article.)

  • Toshiba Corps. Debit from American nuclear business could exceed $6 billion. While the obvious bottom-line reason is regulatory Fukushima-phobia, Japan News merely says, “Behind the massive loss is a surge in nuclear plant construction costs in the United States.” Specifically, post-Fukushima construction cost surges with four under-construction nuclear units. Last year, Toshiba’s equity capital stood at $3.16 billion, thus the company has experienced a debt problem. The company is considering several options to off-set the problem, including spinning off its flash memory division and accepting business investment from outside the firm.

  • Numerous cracks have been found in the reactor building walls of Onagawa unit #2. This may have dropped the “rigid structural integrity” as much as 70%. Tohoku Electric is pursuing restart of the unit, but the NRA says they must inspect the cracking before the company can begin repairs. The news report does not make a distinction between the Primary Containment (PCV) and the outer reactor building, but it appears the cracks are not in the PCV. The earthquake design criterion for the structure is 594 gals, but the 3/11/11 quake subjected the station to a ground acceleration of 607 gals. Thus, the crack are likely the result of the temblor. Onagawa was hit by the most severe ground motion of any nuke on the Tohoku coast because it was closest to the quake’s epicenter.

  • Another report on hardship with voluntary Fukushima evacuees is posted by Japan Times. In this one, a parent who evacuated from Koriyama, 55 km west of F. Daiichi and dozens of kilometers from the Tokyo-mandated evacuation zone, says their daughter developed nosebleeds and diarrhea over the nuke accident, so they fled to Kanagawa which is 250km from F. Daiichi. The father remains in Koriyama to run his restaurant, but their separate living locations could not provide enough income to live their preferred lifestyles without their 90,000 yen per month housing subsidy. Housing subsidies for voluntary evacuees end April 1st. A Fukushima official said, “The environment (in Koriyama) is safe for leading a normal life and that means we are no longer in a position to provide temporary housing.” --

  • Ventilation ducts in control rooms are inspected without removing insulation. Allegedly, integrity checks made without removing the insulation are not “detailed” enough for the NRA. It was found that most nukes inspect control room ventilation without taking off the insulating materials. It is based on finding a 12 inch-by-40 inch opening in a duct at Shimane unit #2, which was reported to the NRA. Other levels of degradation have been discovered in the past with Shika unit #1 in 2003, resulting in Hokuriku Electric Company replacing the ductwork. One un-named NRA official fears that the same problem may place unit #2 in violation of regulatory standards. It is suspected that the salt air-generated corrosion from turbine-generator condenser cooling may be the reason for the problem.

January 12, 2017

  • F. Daiichi host town, Okuma, will be partially reopened in 2017. Okuma shares hosting the station with Futaba. The entire town has been evacuated since 2011, but most residents will be allowed to return home for restricted visits in the spring. The order will be rescinded in the Ogawara and Nakayashiki Districts of Okuma which are designated "restricted residency" and "evacuation order cancellation preparation" zones. This will affect up to 384 residents. Decontamination was completed in March, 2014, and basic services such as water and electricity are restored. Okuma is planning to build a new town hall, a seniors' home, and public housing for some 3,000 persons, in a 40-hectare Ogawara district "recovery base".

  • Iitate Village continues to prepare for repopulation. The latest move has been holding the first Coming-of-Age Day festivities since 2011. The event signifies reaching 20 years; the “age of majority” when young people officially become adults. All of Iitate has been a “no-go” zone since 2011, but living restrictions will be lifted for about 90% of the land area by April 1st. Thus, the Village feels it is time to restart formal celebrations. 61 young people were made “shin-seijin”; literally meaning “new adults”.

  • A Fukushima laboratory says all 2016 seafood was below national radioactive limits. 8,502 specimens were analyzed in 2016, and 8,080 were at a radioactive Cesium level that is “hardly detectible”. The remaining 422 were well-below Japan’s 100 Becquerel per kilogram limit for marketing and consumption. Kyodo News has been the only major Press outlet to report this.

  • Sendai #1 goes commercial, and the Japanese Press ignores it. At 3:30pm on January 6th, the NRA approved a certificate of compliance officially making the unit commercial. Sendai #1 became the first Japanese nuke to qualify for commercial status following a regularly scheduled refueling and maintenance outage, since the de-facto nuclear energy moratorium was begun by Japan’s antinuclear Prime Minister, Naoto Kan, in 2011. The results of all safety inspections for both Sendai units will be shared with antinuclear Kagoshima Governor Mitazono on February 7th. While Mitazono‘s publicity-stunt attempt to have both units shuttered until he felt they were safe enough for operation was followed closely by Japan’s popular Press, the commercial operation milestone was totally disregarded.

  • The Institute of Energy Economics forecasts a 2017 nuclear energy upswing for Japan. IEEJ says that as more nukes restart, Japan’s dependence on fossil-fueled power will drop. While new wind and solar, plus continued energy conservation will also help decrease reliance on fossil fuels, the major impactor will be nuclear. In fact, the percentage of electricity from burning fossil fuels should drop below 90% for the first time since 2011. Five nuke units have been approved for restart by the end of 2016, and IEEJ foresees as many as another 9 units resuming operation in 2017. On the other hand, there could be as few as two new restarts this year (low-restart scenario). While the most optimistic possibility would be thirteen new restarts (high-restart case). However, IEEJ opts to project a restart number somewhere between the two cases. IEEJ concludes that nuclear power “will play an important role in achieving the 3E’s (energy security, economy and environmental protection).”

  • Voluntary Fukushima evacuees will get extended free housing from nine prefectures. Fukushima government housing subsidies for the voluntaries ends April 1st, affecting roughly 26,600 persons in more than 10,000 households. Of that total, nearly 14,000 persons in more than 5,000 households currently reside outside of Fukushima Prefecture. Tottori Prefecture will provide housing for low-income households, while Hokkaido, Nara, Ehime, and three other prefectures will waive rent for households living in prefecture-run housing units. In addition to these subsidies, Kyoto will exempt rent for prefecture-run units for up to six years, and, Niigata will give each low-income family 10,000 yen per month to help keep children in their current schools. The Tottori government says that voluntary evacuees now living in the prefecture want to stay there, but feel anxiety about their future housing costs. Thus, the prefecture has decided to make their permanent residence possible. Iwate Prefecture is also considering voluntary evacuees housing subsistence because Tokyo has not adequately addressed the issue.

  • The NRA blocks the Environment Ministry from using low level radioactive soils for road bases. The Nuclear Regulation Authority says the ministry cannot approach the NRA Radiation Council to determine standards for using decontamination soils registering less than 8,000 Becquerels per kilogram. The NRA says the paperwork submitted to gain permission to consult the Radiation Council contains insufficient information. The NRA requested the ministry to provide a detailed explanation on how such soil would be handled, management of the reused soil, the duration of monitoring after use, and how it would prevent illegal dumping. An NRA official explained, "We told the ministry that unless it provides a detailed explanation on how contaminated soil would be used and on how it will manage such material, we cannot judge if its plan would be safe.”

  • Tokyo NPO staffers donate $102,000 to Imari for having an antinuclear mayor. As non-profit organization employees, they can have part of their income tax diverted to favored local governments; the Furusato nozei (Hometown tax) system. When Yoshikazu Tsukabe became mayor using an antinuclear platform opposing the restart of a Genkai station unit in Saga Prefecture, the JBC CSR fund earmarked Imari as a Furusato nozei community. The fund provides scholarship money for worthy student’s whose families are financially limited. Imari will use the windfall to buy local beef which will be donated to 223 scholarship winners, including 129 affected by the Kumamoto earthquake last April. Upon receiveing the donation, Mayor Tsukabi reinforced his antinuclear persuasion, “Once the nuclear power plant is restarted, it will be difficult to stop again. As the plant’s operations are suspended now, it is time to switch to anti-nuclear policies.”

  • A nuclear plant project in Turkey is criticized for not using Japanese earthquake design criteria. The future Sinop station on the Black Sea is using Turkish design criteria, which is much less severe than that required in Japan. Japan’s lateral ground movement criteria similar geology is 500 gals, while the criteria in Turkey is but 400 gals. Kyodo News alleges that using the Turkish criteria is a “possible attempt to reduce construction costs.” The project will be a joint Japanese/French undertaking between Mitsubishi and Areva, respectively.

January 6, 2017

Japan’s largely antinuclear Press seems to have difficulty finding negative F.Daiichi stories. As those who regularly read this newsletter/blog already know, most of what is happening with Fukushima Daiichi is quite positive and not reported in most Japanese and international Press outlets. Thus, negative issues from the past are being rehashed whenever possible. Here are a few examples…  

  • Jiji Press says the “Fate of Fukushima No. 2 nuclear plant remains unknown”. The reason for resurrecting this old issue is a Dec. 21st Fukushima prefectural assembly vote calling for Tokyo to demand that Tepco immediately commit to decommissioning the four units. Fukushima’s General Assembly voted on eventual decommissioning of F. Daini in 2011. However, the new resolution is because demands made by local communities “have been ignored by the central government”. Tokyo says that until the in-principle 40-year lifetime has been reached by the four nukes, the decision on when to make a formal decommissioning policy is entirely up to Tepco. The prefecture argues that a recent minor power outage at F. Daini has rekindled nuclear meltdown fears. Restarting F. Daini is certainly not an option, considering that it cannot happen unless local (Naraha and Tomioka Towns) and prefectural governments extend express permission.

  • Tepco pursues agreement on Kashiwazaki-Kariwa (K-K) restarts with the Niigata governor, and most Japanese Press outlets make it a leading article. Governor Ryuichi Yoneyama told Tepco that prior investigation into the causes of the 2011 F. Daiichi accident are unconvincing and “It will be difficult to approve the restart as long as (the causes of) the accident at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant are not verified. In the present circumstances, I cannot accept the restart.” He says he will set up a process of verification that will require Tepco to provide more information than had been the case to date. In addition, he requires confirmation of the K-K evacuation plans. Yoneyama estimates that his demands will probably take several years to be satisfied. The governor was elected last October due to a staunchly antinuclear campaign, thus his stalling tactics are not unexpected. -- --

Now, here is one F. Daiichi-related report that is new…

  • Japan, America, and China may cooperate to build nukes in Turkey. Toshiba/Westinghouse is working with China’s State Power Investment group to potentially win an order for four third-generation pressurized water reactor units. A consortium source says the deal with Turkey could be cut sometime in 2017. Toshiba/Westinghouse will provide the technology, and China will be the source of funding. This should overcome any financial hurdles that would be presented by Turkish investors, especially in a politically precarious country. The concern in Japan is that China could acquire knowledge of advanced reactor plant design that might boost China’s competitive abilities on the world market. One Japanese government official acted shocked at the announcement, saying, “We weren’t asked anything in advance.” China and Japan are major economic competitors in Asia, and currently at-odds over Senkaku islands ownership in the East China Sea. On the other hand, Toshiba/Westinghouse believes it is unreasonable to keep the new technology to themselves. With new nuclear construction looking unlikely in Japan, Toshiba sees this as a viable option for staying in the competitive mix.

December 29, 2016

  • Nuclear Regulation Authority data on Pacific Ocean radioactivity indicates that Tepco’s efforts to stop contaminated groundwater outflow has been successful. The NRA has posted their “Current Information on Radioactivity in Seawater” since early November. (Listed as “F1 Issues” on the NRA home page) Since November 6th, the agency has been posting seawater data from three points, along the shoreline; two on the south side of Fukushima Daiichi station, and one to the north side. All of these analyses show no detectible radioactive Cesium coming from the power plant! In addition, numerous analyses taken within two kilometers off-shore of F. Daiichi, have been devoid of detectible radioactive Cesium from the nuke station since October 24th. Why the NRA, Tepco, and Japan’s popular Press have been neglecting to report on this regular, continual listing is a mystery! --

  • Tokyo allows Tepco to freeze the remaining “ice wall” sections. The Nuclear Regulation Authority says the ice wall is not abating groundwater buildup between the fully frozen seaside section and the shoreline’s steel and concrete impenetrable barrier. Thus, the NRA decided to allow Tepco to begin freezing the remaining openings on the landside ice wall, which the NRA has refused to permit being solidified from the beginning. Commissioner Toyoshi Fuketa said, “The frozen wall on the mountain side will not be able to block groundwater because the wall on the seaside was also unable to do so. It will not be very dangerous to freeze the wall on the mountain side as long as the work is carried out carefully.” Consistent with its “worst case scenario agenda”, the NRA was concerned about the wall totally blocking groundwater from the landside, hypothetically causing the water level inside the wall becoming too low and allowing contaminated water inside the basements to flow out, instead of in. But, Tepco’s regular ice wall status reports continually state that the ice wall is not supposed to abate buildup of groundwater outside the wall. Rather, Tepco’s posting says, “The purpose of the Landside Impermeable Wall construction lies not in freezing soil to form an underground wall but in keeping groundwater from flowing into the reactor/turbine buildings and preventing new contaminated [ground]water from being generated.”

  • Ten more thyroid anomalies are diagnosed in Fukushima Prefecture. This brings the total number of people with precancerous nodules to 145, out of more than 380,000 screenings since 2011. Fukushima Medical University, which is running the study, says that there is no connection with the 2011 nuclear accident for a variety of sound reasons. Details on this new report are sketchy, but Japan’s Press calls the ten new cases “thyroid cancers”, and downplays the possibility of “excessive diagnosis” not requiring surgery to remove the tiny nodules.

  • A Tokyo District Court says “no” to Tepco’s antinuclear shareholder’s suit to publish nuke accident transcripts. Transcripts of testimony given by 240 people to the Diets have been made public. About 550 other testimonies have not been released because the questioning was conducted on condition that it would not be used to assign blame. The only testimonies made public are those from witnesses who have agreed to the release. The antinuclear minority of Tepco shareholders filed with the court to make the government release all testimonies, regardless of agreement between parties. Presiding Judge Akihiko Otake said, “If the records are disclosed, it would be extremely difficult to gain cooperation from related parties in future investigations.” The rebuffed plaintiffs vow to appeal to a higher court.

December 26, 2016

  • Tepco releases a video of drilling through the unit #2 Primary Containment wall. The drilling unit is shown being positioned by remote control, and ends with a brief view of the actual drilling. Unfortunately, there is no explanatory handout and the video has no sound.  In addition, there is a picture of the cap on the hole that was drilled. (Incorrectly titled “Freezing condition of the Landside Impermeable Wall”)

  • Used fuel removal for Unit #3 is officially postponed. The transfer of 566 fuel bundles to the ground level spent fuel storage facility was scheduled to begin in January, 2018. But, clearing away debris has taken longer than expected, and refueling deck radiation levels have not dropped as much as hoped. A new timetable will be posted in a few weeks. It was initially projected that the bundle removal project would begin in 2015. However, rumors of radioactive dust stirred up by the debris clearing being carried to local rice paddies by the wind, forced major delays. As time passes, radiation levels constantly diminish, which will be considered when making the new schedule. 

  • Violent protests occur in Taiwan over possibly lifting the post-Fukushima food ban. President Tsai Ing-wen proposed three public hearings to debate whether or not to continue banning foods shipped from Fukushima, Ibaraki, Gunma, Tochigi, and Chiba prefectures. Ing-wen wants to lift the bans on all but Fukushima. However, the powerful Kuomintang Party (KMT) carefully planned two public demonstrations on Christmas Day to oppose rescinding any of the bans. Hundreds of protestors physically clashed with police at the hearing venue in Taipei City. A large sign called Ing-wen “Japan’s servile follower” and demanded her immediate resignation. KMT members inside the facility pounded on tables and shouted in order to disrupt proceedings. KMT Vice Chairman Hau Lung-bin argued that Sunday’s hearing was “illegal” and “meaningless” because the government had already planned to ease the ban. He says relaxing the ban is a bargaining chip for a new trade deal with Japan. KMT legislator Wang Yu-min said the government cannot ensure absolute safety of the foods from the five prefectures because some soy sauce had recently entered Taiwan illegally. The KMT said 10,000 people were prepared to march on the Ministry of Finance Building should the second scheduled public hearing be held, so Ing-wen cancelled it. --

December 22, 2016

  • Tepco posts a Press handout on the cover for unit #3 fuel bundle removal. There are a few excellent pictures of the “stopper” being delivered by sea. The “stopper” appears to be the main supporting structure for the domed roof. The images also reveal that the inner quay’s barricading is not compromised when materials shipped by sea are off-loaded from barges.

  • Fukushima InFORM’s 2016 biotic monitoring shows no radioactive Cesium from Fukushima. Specifically, no detectible Cesium-134 was found in 123 salmon specimens, nor the meat of scallops, mussels, oysters, and clams. Although tiny concentrations of Cs-137 from post-WWII weapon’s testing were identified in nine of the salmon, the levels were so miniscule that the nine fish had to be scanned for six hours in order to find anything. InFORM plans to freeze-dry future samples in order to make the gamma-spectrometry periods much longer, lowering the minimum detectability level. With shellfish, the meat was not only devoid of detectible Cesium radioactivity, but also the shells. However, the levels of naturally occurring Potassium-40 were easily detected in the shellfish meat at 90 mSv/kilogram.

  • Hiroshima University pledges increased medical support for Fukushima’s Futaba Region. Early next year, the university will begin support for local healthcare activities, in partnership with Fukushima Medical University. The Futaba region comprises eight communities, all of which were either partially or fully evacuated by Tokyo mandate in 2011; Futaba, Hirono, Namie, Naraha, Okuma, Tomioka, Katsurao, and Kawauchi. All but Katsurao and Kawauchi are coastal and suffered severe tsunami damage, injuries, and deaths. Hiroshima University will also assist in establishing a regional medical center.

  • Two more new technology programs are planned for Fukushima recovery. One is a testing area for “autonomous driving” in Minamisoma, and the other is a drone testing base in Tamura City. Both cities suffered mandated evacuations in 2011. The autonomous driving program will be run by the National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology, with a planned five kilometer route using a driverless bus in 2018. The route will be through the Odaka District, which had its evacuation order lifted last July. The drone testing will be run by Keio University, and train students at Tamura’s Funehiki High School to safety fly the drones. The project could begin as soon as next spring to make home deliveries for the elderly and assistance in land surveys. It is hoped that the two programs will stimulate repopulation of formerly evacuated areas, which has been disappointing up to now. --

  • A Tokyo government committee submits a new policy report for Fukushima recovery. For one thing, up to 2.4 trillion yen for compensation pay-outs will be covered by fees charged to electricity suppliers using Tepco’s power grid. At this point, 65 trillion yen has been doled out in compensation, with 28 trillion for personal indemnification and 32 trillion to corporations and property owners. (The current exchange rate is roughly 118 yen per USD) Every yen was to be repaid by Tepco, but Tokyo now admits that the burden is probably too great for any single utility to overcome. In addition, Tokyo will pay the bill for decontaminating the seven municipalities where repopulation is delayed because they are considered to have radiation levels that are too high. This decision is in response to PM Shinzo Abe’s statement that he wants all related cabinet ministers “to cooperate to set out a concrete path to help Fukushima achieve reconstruction as soon as possible." The 2017 budget will allocate about $250 million for the first year of the decontamination effort. However, the $36 billion already spent will be billed to the Tepco. Finally, the panel states that Tepco should work to improve “profitability” to pay for the Tokyo-mandated recovery costs. This includes the to-date cost of decontamination, decommissioning the plant, and most of the compensation payments. The current estimate of the total cost stands at ~180 billion USD. Other policy measures include continued support for Fukushima companies affected by the nuclear accident, measures to quell misinformation about radiation, and steps to prevent bullying of school children evacuated from Fukushima. -- -- -- --

  • Non-Tepco employees at F. Daiichi give highly positive ratings on their working environment. Over all, more than 90% of the responses to ten questions about the work environment rated either good or reasonably good. The survey was offered to nearly 7,000 non-Tepco workers between August and October of 2016, and almost 6,200 responded. Only usability of break rooms and health care measures showed a small drop in popularity since the last survey, run the first half of 2016.

  • Japan and Great Britain sign a nuclear energy memorandum of understanding. The MOU opens the door for Japanese companies to build nuke plants in Great Britain. It also allows for Japan to be involved in British decommissioning, decontamination, research and development, and security measures. Tokyo is considering state-backed financial assistance of up to $85 billion for nuke plant construction in Great Britain.

  • It’s official; the Monju fast breeder (FBR) will be fully decommissioned. This occurred despite continued opposition by Fukui Governor Issei Nishikawa. Tokyo also said it will supervise the scrapping of Monju and development of FBRs will continue. Nishikawa remains at-odds with the plan. He demanded that Tokyo get consent of the local governments around the Monju site before beginning the decommissioning. A senior ministry official said, “There has been a certain level of progress,” before the decision was made, and that local communities would be informed of the condition of Monju. But, Nishikawa insists that “the government is not reflecting enough on their actions regarding Monju” and the “the decommissioning is unacceptable without local understanding.” He added that the government’s promise to handle the decommissioning is not convincing, “The explanation is inadequate, and cannot be accepted whatsoever.” It seems the main reason for Tokyo’s decision is financial. The estimated cost of decommissioning is $3.2 billion, while the projected bill for upgrading the facility to meet Japan’s new regulations is $4.6 billion. --

December 19, 2016

  • Fukushima Prefecture will allow some evacuees to live in public housing after 2018. Many evacuation orders are scheduled to be lifted next year, disqualifying thousands of evacuee families from public housing after April, 2018. However, those with work and/or school commitments beyond the 2018 termination date in their new locations may be able to move into vacant public housing units. Removal of an evacuation order does not guarantee that they can make an immediate, permanent return home. The government will accept evacuees on a priority basis if there are empty public housing units available. There are almost 5,000 such units under construction and should be open beginning in March, 2018.

  • Tokyo is set to revise the Act on Special Measures for Fukushima Reconstruction and Revitalization in order to build reconstruction bases in “difficult-to-return” zones. It is hoped the amendment will enacted into law next spring after a formal Cabinet decision is made and Diet approval occurs. The plan will also allow government subsidies for reconstruction programs mandated by the Prime Minister and preferential tax treatment to encourage businesses in the affected municipalities. The program will affect “difficult-to-return” zones in Minamisoma City, the towns of Namie, Futaba, Okuma and Tomioka, and the villages of Katsurao and Iitate. Construction is already planned for April. All living restrictions are to be be lifted five years later. Current Fukushima reconstruction law does not allow for bases of this type in “difficult to return” locations.

  • Namie’s recovery and repopulation is threatened by too little money and too few evacuees who want to return. The town has plans to stimulate its economy by creating a robot testing facility, a robotics research center, a base for renewable energy, and a memorial park. But, without guaranteed financial aid from Tokyo, there is no certainty that these projects will be completed. The main problem is the town’s tax base. The population was almost 20,000 before 3/11/11, but the Tokyo-mandated evacuation of the entire community has cut residential tax income in half, and proposed tax waivers to induce repopulation will diminish it even more. Corporate tax revenue has taken a similar hit. Tokyo says it will subsidize Namie’s plans, but only until April 1, 2020. With only 20% of the current evacuees saying they will return home, the town’s financial future looks dim. Namie Mayor Tamotsu Baba said, “The financial resources we’ve lost due to the disaster are excessive. We desperately need the central government to continue its support.” Another official said that if the current grants are stopped in 2020, it will mean that Tokyo has abandoned Namie. Meanwhile, reconstruction minister Masahiro Imamura has said, “We must make the area attractive, so that people want to return there. I want to do everything I can to make it easy to go back.” --

  • A Tepco employee is given workman’s compensation for F. Daiichi exposure. The 40-year-old man was part of the operating staff combating the full station blackout. The Labor Ministry has found that the career nuclear worker qualifies under the blue law we have detailed since October, 2015. ( The statute states that if someone is exposed to at least five millisieverts in one calendar year and contracts cancer more than a year there-after, the person is entitled to compensation benefit. The first two grants were to men who have leukemia. This latest one is a man with thyroid cancer. In all three cases, no diagnostic connection between the exposure and cancer has been made by a licensed physician. The Tepco employee incurred nearly 140 mSv of exposure since the onset of the March 2011 nuke accident. One Press outlet (Asahi Shimbun) says 40 mSv of exposure was internal. Regardless, Japan’s most antinuclear popular Press outlets are making the incorrect statement that the workman’s comp award is an actual diagnosis. The Ministry stressed that the 5 mSv criterion is merely a yardstick for establishing whether or not compensation should be granted. -- -- (Comment - The average exposure of an American to a combination of natural and medical radioactivity is roughly 6.2 mSv per year. Clearly, the Labor Ministry blue law criterion of 5 mSv/yr is deeply flawed!)

  • Tokyo announces it wants to decommission Monju Fast Breeder, angering the Fukui governor. The government presented Governor Issei Nishikawa with its official policy document, and his response was, "We will never accept this. We demand that the government look again at it and reconsider it." The prefecture stands to lose a lot of money if Monju is decommissioned, and the people of Fukui don’t want to lose it. Tokyo says they would like to transform Monju into a research facility to support a future fast breeder project in Fukui. But, it seems the governors and many influential residents want assurance that these future plans will come to fruition. Joint research from France’s ASTRID and Japan’s “Joyo” demonstration reactors could produce a similar level of knowledge and experience as that obtained from Monju, thus making a future Fukui project unnecessary. Science Minister Hirokazu Matsuno and Industry Minister Hiroshige Seko informed Governor Nishikawa of the plan today in Tokyo. Tokyo says the roadmap for a final fast breeder project is scheduled for 2018. --  --

December 15, 2016

  • All Fukushima seafood has been below radiation limits since April, 2015. In fact, species tested in November including bass, rockfish, and flounder, showed no traces of radioactive Cesium at all. The absence of detectible Cesium is the first time since the March, 2011 Fukushima accident. Fish were taken from 30 locations within a 20 kilometer radius of F. Daiichi, mostly within hundreds of meters of the shoreline at a depth of five meters. Fukushima Prefecture officials attribute the change to fish passing the Cesium through their bodies over time, and a whole new generation of each type being born that grew in waters free of problematic Cesium concentrations. The initial tests in 2011 showed 90% of all fish caught off the prefecture had greater than the national limit of 100 Becquerels per kilogram.

  • Kagoshima Prefecture will likely approve a panel to review emergency plans. Antinuke Governor Satoshi Mitazono recently submitted a budget proposal for the group to the prefectural assembly, and the vote will come within the next week. The panel will consist of twelve members, including nuclear experts, seismologists, and volcanologists. The main purpose is to insure the emergency evacuation plans are as good as might be needed in the unlikely event of a Fukushima-level accident at Sendai station. The committee will also address “disseminating information that can be easily understood by prefectural citizens.” An approval of nuclear plant operations is not on the agenda. Though Gov. Mitazono opposes Sendia’s operation, a majority favoring nuke operations exists in the assembly and a recent election of a pro-nuke mayor to host city Satsumasendai, make his antinuclear agenda unwieldy.

  • Another Fukushima evacuee student gets bullied. The Tokyo junior high school student was intimidated by other students and made to pay a total of $87 for sweets, drinks, and other foods, beginning in the summer of 2015. What began as name calling, the taunting escalated to insults and threats before the extortions began. Tormenters also stole his textbooks and damaged them before placing them where they could be found. The student says, “Since my elementary school days, I have been bullied on the grounds that I am an evacuee. I was not able to tell that to anybody. It was painful. I thought that if I can silence [them] with money, I will do it.” The school’s principal said, “It is regrettable that bullying existed at this school. I will do my utmost to prevent it from happening again.” 15 students have been investigated, and three have admitted to their wrong-doing.

  • A new study indicates that social bullying is very common in Japan, and adults are to blame. Lund University professor Antoinette Hetzler and the National Institute for Educational Policy Research compared the nature of bullying between Sweden and Japan. The study covered hundreds of 6th & 8th grade students in both countries, from 2013 to 2015. More than 40% of the Japanese boys and girls were bullied during that period. Mitsuru Taki of the National Institute for Educational Policy Research, believes adults could be to blame. He says, “Japan, which has experienced school violence in the past, tends to take a firm stance on physical attacks, but regarding social abuse, children must feel that it’s OK to exclude others or talk behind their backs because adults are doing it too. One such example is bullying children evacuated from the Fukushima nuclear disaster by saying, ‘You’re receiving cash compensation, aren’t you.’”

  • Kyodo News reports that an “antinuclear” disaster drill was run at the Yokosuka naval base, Kanagawa Prefecture. Apparently, participating “officials” came from the US Navy, Japan’s Foreign Ministry, and the US Embassy. Details are lacking in the report, but the news outlet mentioned that the USS Ronald Reagan was docked at the base.


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