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Fukushima Accident Updates (Blog)


Your most reliable source of objective Fukushima News. No "spins"...just summaries of news reports in Japan's Press, which calls the Fukushima accident a nuclear disaster. Post are made weekly on Thursdays.

There are three regularly-updated pages on this site concerning popular Fukushima issues; Fukushima Evacuee Compensation Payments (updated monthly), Fukushima Child Thyroid Cancer s and  Fukushima Radiation on North America’s West Coast? 

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December 13, 2017

  • A Japanese court hands down an injunction against the restart of Ikata unit #3. It was issued Wednesday, and reverses a lower court ruling issued in March. The reason for the injunction is the remote possibility that pyroclastic flows from a volcanic eruption (Mount Aso) on the neighboring island of Kyushu could reach the nuke station and cause the release of radioactive contamination. Presiding Judge Tomoyuki Nonoue said the location of the plant is at fault and the NRA has not properly assessed the risk to residents from volcanic eruptions. He explained that a nuke “should not be allowed” to be sited where the Ikata station is located, the risk of a pyroclastic flow reaching the plant “cannot be judged to be small enough.” The rationale behind the decision is geological evidence for a major eruption every 10,000 years! Unlike a few past antinuclear court rulings in Japan, the judge did not find the NRA standards to be irrational or unreasonable. This surprised an electric company official, who said, “The court accepted the new safety standards but ordered the suspension of the reactor’s operation.” Ikata #3 was scheduled for restart in January, but cannot be restarted before September 30, 2018, under the ruling.  https://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/en/news/20171213_31/ - http://the-japan-news.com/news/article/0004127360 - http://www.asahi.com/ajw/articles/AJ201712130050.html
  • Japanese experts say volcanic eruptions cannot be predicted, but disagree on the Hiroshima court injunction. Hokkaido University Professor Tadashi Narabayashi says, "Stopping (reactor) operation based on personal rights requires an imminent danger. It's difficult to say that the chance of a cataclysmic eruption, which is thought to happen only about once in 10,000 years, meets that definition. The Ikata plant's No. 3 unit is protected from falling volcanic material and has an enhanced reactor core cooling system, so there is simply no probability of an incident that would endanger the lives of the people in the city of Matsuyama or Hiroshima." But, magma specialist Yoshiyuki Tatsumi of Kobe University disagrees, saying, “There is about a 1 percent chance of a cataclysmic eruption in Japan in the next 100 years, so mathematically speaking, one could happen at any time. At present, we do not know what kinds of signs would portend such an eruption. It is also unknown how much magma has built up under Mount Aso (in Kumamoto Prefecture), so the government needs to strengthen its observations there among other measures." https://mainichi.jp/english/articles/20171214/p2a/00m/0na/010000c
  • A business leader says Japan needs to expand nuclear stations or build new ones. Sadayuki Sakakibara, Chairman of the Japan Business Federation (Keidanren) made this statement when he visited Ikata station on Shikoku Island. After a tour of the station, he said, “As an important source of energy, we will continue to utilize nuclear power plants. We need to explore the expansion of existing facilities and building new plants as future options. It seems (Shikoku Electric) is implementing thorough measures taking in lessons from the Fukushima nuclear plant accident.” http://www.asahi.com/ajw/articles/AJ201712080051.html
  • A seven percent fall-off in planned nuclear restarts could cost Japan more than $20 billion. Tokyo’s goal is for nuclear to have 20-22% of Japan’s power sources by 2030. However, that goal might fall well-short, and only provide about 15%. The Industry Ministry has found that promotion of conservation measures has kept demand at a 2013 level, which has been the basis for the 2030 goal for nuclear. Renewables are projected to be at 22-24%, and thermal (fossil fueled generation) at about 56%. The Central Research Institute of the Electric Power Industry (CRIEPI) of Japan has posted two alternative scenarios and their possible impact on Gross Domestic Product. If nuclear only realizes 15%, and the short-fall made up by LNG, real GDP would drop by more than $22 billion. If the short-fall was covered by renewables, the GDP drop would be nearly $24 billion. http://www.jaif.or.jp/en/seven-point-contraction-in-nuclear-share-of-energy-mix-would-push-real-gdp-down-by-2-5-to-2-7-trillion-yen/ 
  • Another former Fukushima worker is granted workman’s compensation for radiation exposure, and the Press treats it as a diagnosis. The worker had spent 19 years at F. Daiichi before leaving in 2016. During his tenure, he received an exposure of 99.3 millisieverts (9.9 Rem), which the Ministry of Health finds to be sufficient to have contributed to the worker’s diagnosis of Leukemia in February. He was exposed to 96 mSv after the onset of the nuclear accident. The Ministry says the exposure level exceeded 5 millisieverts per year multiplied by years of employment, thus the cancer can be linked to his work at the nuclear power station. The rationale comes from the 1976 Industrial Accident Compensation Insurance Act, which is a revision of original worker’s accident insurance law of 1968.  https://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/en/news/20171213_39/m -- https://mainichi.jp/english/articles/20171214/p2a/00m/0na/001000c -- http://www.japaneselawtranslation.go.jp/law/detail/?id=1920&vm=04&re=01

December 7, 2017

  • Fukushima’s rural contaminated waste facility could be completed in 2021. This means that most, if not all bags of material spread over the prefecture will be interred in the facility by that time. The volume could be as much as 12.5 million cubic meters. The main hold-up in completing the project has been procuring the remaining private property, but the steps necessary to acquire the remaining land is now well underway. About 45% of the necessary land acquisitions have yet to be completed. Contracts for obtaining the remaining properties have been “concluded” and are expected to be signed by property owners in the near future. http://www.fukushimaminponews.com/news.html?id=868
  • Tepco posts a detailed handout of unit #3 reactor vessel CRDMs. The Control Rod Drive Mechanisms extend from below the vessel’s bottom head. Unfortunately, the handout is entirely in Japanese, but three posted images are worthy of viewing. Two images show damaged CRDM guide tubes, and the other the area near a CRDM housing. http://photo.tepco.co.jp/en/date/2017/201711-e/171130-02e.html
  • Radiation testing on Fukushima rice to be cut back. The scale-down is because none of the prefecture’s rice has failed the National limit since 2015. The annual cost of the program has been ~$53 million. Instead of testing each and every bag of rice produced, 47 of the 59 municipalities that grow rice will only have to scan representative samples. The other 12 communities surround the F. Daiichi station. The decision on the specific date of the scale-back will be decided in February. https://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/en/news/20171207_32/
  • There is a dearth of knowledge about Fukushima foods overseas. Fukushima University researchers held an online survey of ten countries, including China, South Korea, the United States, Britain, and Germany. While 30% of Japanese consumers worry about Fukushima foods, 80% in Taiwan, 70% in South Korea, and 60% in China have the same concerns. What’s worse, 30-50% have worries about all Eastern Japan foods! Significant percentages of these nation’s consumers are unaware of Japan’s radiation testing program and stringent limits on radioactivity. https://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/en/news/20171205_27/
  • The Industry Ministry will investigate into the possibility of building more nukes. The full-fledged discussions will be held next year. The driving issue is the target of and 80% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions. Nuclear plants release zero GHGs during operation. Panel member Masahiro Sakane has said, "We need to address both nuclear power and global warming issues to reach a conclusion." The current goal is some 30 nukes in operation by March, 2031. But to reach the GHG target by 2050, many more nukes will be needed. https://jen.jiji.com/jc/eng?g=eco&k=2017120400592 
  • Canada’s radiation monitoring network is detailed on Fukushima InFORM. An explanation of the three network system and a map of the numerous monitoring locations is provided at the following link… https://fukushimainform.ca/links/radiological-monitoring-at-the-radiation-protection-bureau-of-health-canada/

November 30, 2017

  • An American scientist says Japan should release purified Fukushima wastewater to the sea. Dr. Jim Conca explains that the waters run through the Cesium absorption system have been stripped of all other isotopes to well-below Japan’s limits for open release. The niggling problem is essentially harmless Tritium that cannot be removed because it is part of the water molecules, themselves. Tritium is merely a hypothetical carcinogen, but has not caused it in humans, even with an activity level of 37 million Becquerels. Japan’s government and radiological scientists know this, but Japan refrains from making the releases now because of public radiophobia that could doom Tohoku region fisheries. https://www.forbes.com/sites/jamesconca/2017/11/29/japan-should-release-tritium-contaminated-water-to-the-ocean/#131493b0d8ce
  • None of the fish within 20 km of Fukushima have detectible Cesium-134 in their flesh. Cs-134 is the universally-recognized “fingerprint” of Fukushima contamination. Ten of the 100 fish sampled from outside the Fukushima break-wall had detectible Cs-137, with the highest concentration of 23 Becquerels per kilogram in a Japanese Angel Shark. The limit for Cs-137 is 100 Bq/kg, which is ten times less than anywhere else in the world. Three fish were caught within the Fukushima break-wall, and none of them had detectible Cs-134. All analyzed fish were caught between October 3rd and October 27th. https://www4.tepco.co.jp/en/nu/fukushima-np/f1/smp/2017/images/fish02_171121-e.pdf -- https://www4.tepco.co.jp/en/nu/fukushima-np/f1/smp/2017/images/fish01_171121-e.pdf
  • Japan’s Press asserts that the Fukushima ice wall is “not living up to high hopes”. Supposedly, there is the sharp increase in rainwater that flows into the building basements during rain storms. However, a quick look at the record reveals a steady drop in the influx until the last week of October, 2017. Inordinately heavy and persistent rainfall due to two typhoons plagued Japan’s main islands for two weeks. As a result, the rainfall flow into the building basements briefly jumped by a factor of five; from about 70 tons per week up to more than 400 tons/week. Currently, the influx is back to the original level. The Asahi ignores this data. http://www.asahi.com/ajw/articles/AJ201711260031.html -- https://www4.tepco.co.jp/en/nu/fukushima-np/handouts/2017/images/handouts_171127_01-e.pdf (this week’s data on water flowing into the buildings)
  • Japco applies for a 20-year licensing extension with Tokai unit #2. This marks the first Boiling Water Reactor application for the extension. The first three have all been Pressurized Water Reactor systems: Takahama units #1&2 and Mihama unit #3. The safety screening by The Nuclear Regulation Authority for Tokai #2 is nearing completion. Thus, with the resumption of operation next year, Tokai #2 could operate until the end of November of 2038. http://the-japan-news.com/news/article/0004087145 -- http://www.asahi.com/ajw/articles/AJ201711240026.html
  • Japan’s largest newspaper calls for objectivity on the restart of Tokai unit #2. The Yomiuri Shimbun (Japan News), with a combined morning and evening circulation of over 14 million, admits that the resumption of operations will not happen before several hurdles are overcome. Perhaps the most difficult will be gaining enough capital to pay for safety up grades required by Japan’s post-fukushima regulations. It is estimated that the cost will be about 180 billion yen; more than $1.6 billion USD. The problem is that Japco has no power plants other than nuclear, and all of them are inactive due to the post-fukushima nuclear moratorium. Other issues to be addressed are specific to restarting boiling water reactor systems, which has not occurred as yet. Then there’s the problem with getting local approval, and not just from the host community. Tokai Mayor Osamu Yamada said, “Local governments are called on to establish workable evacuation arrangements. Overall judgment [on whether to allow restarting the plant] is still in the making.” If you think the Yomiuri is less than objective, compare it to the historically antinuclear Mainichi Shimbun (morning circulation of 4 million), which says “…there appears no prospect that the plant can be restarted…”  Regardless, the road to restart will be dicey in Fukushima-phobic Japan. http://the-japan-news.com/news/article/0004089091 -- https://mainichi.jp/english/articles/20171125/p2a/00m/0na/012000c
  • The Asahi Shimbun, with a daily circulation of more than 11 million, posts about the debate between science and public opinion. The news outlet calls it a stalemate “rooted in a fundamental conflict between science and human nature. The focus is largely on whether to continue increasing the storage of purified water at Fukushima Daiichi, but contains biologically innocuous radioactive hydrogen (Tritium) in its water molecules. The Asahi utilizes its typical FUD-fest (Fear, Uncertainty, Doubt) by creating images of catastrophic consequences if another millennial  earthquake would strike, dumping a million tons of detectibly radioactive water into the Pacific ocean! But, if the waters are slowly released over a period of months or years, the local fishermen cry loud and long that it would ruin their already crippled business. The Asahi says (correctly) that the seafood-from-Fukushima market is already hurt by fear of the possibility of contamination, even though none has been found to be above Japan’s ridiculously low radiation standards for years. The problem is that one consumer in five doesn’t believe the seafood is safe, even when shown it has passed all safety checks. The Hiroshima Syndrome and its radiophobic corollary reign in Japan. http://www.asahi.com/ajw/articles/AJ201711250021.html
  • The Yomiuri cries out for using decontamination soils wisely. More than 230,000 cubic meters of soils have already been brought to the site, primarily from temporary storage location at schools. It is expected that another 500,000m3 will be brought in by the end of March. Removal of all bags from school grounds is scheduled by the end of 2018. By lifting this psychological burden, it is hoped that more and more evacuees will return home. Only about half of the privately owned tracts of land in the 16 hectare location have been procured by Tokyo. The Yomiuri wants the government to expedite get the rest of the land by informing the owners of the necessity for the facility. The newspaper also want the volume of buried material to be minimized. Radioactivity in the wastes has diminished with the passage of time, so only the soils more radioactive than the minimum should be interred in the facility. http://the-japan-news.com/news/article/0004093782   
  • Fukui Prefecture’s governor approves the restarts of Oi (Ohi) units #3 & #4. Governor Issei Nishikawa announced, “I have agreed to the restart after taking into account the position of the Oi town government and Fukui prefectural assembly, as well as the response by the central government and the operator of the plant concerning our request to have an interim storage site for spent nuclear fuel to be built outside the prefecture.” Resumption of operations has been previously approved by the host community of Oi and the prefectural assembly. In addition, a prefectural “expert panel” on nuclear safety gave the restarts a green light. The approval was given despite a Fukui court order to not restart Oi #3 & #4 is still in place, although the decision has been appealed to a higher court. Unit #3 could be restarted in January, and unit #4 in March. Owner Kansai Electric Company adds that when the units restart, they will lower the cost of electricity. https://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/en/news/20171127_15/ -- http://www.asahi.com/ajw/articles/AJ201711270046.html -- http://the-japan-news.com/news/article/0004093716
  • Japan’s Kobe Steel scandal will set back restarts of four nuclear units. The owners of the plants want to take the extra time to make sure that all safety materials do not contain any of the questionable material. The four units are Ohi #3 & #4, and Genkai units #3 & #4. The previous restart dates for them were January for units #3 and March for units #4. Now, the restarts will happen two months later. https://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/en/news/20171130_34/ -- http://the-japan-news.com/news/article/0004099683
  • On a contrary note, the governor of Shiga Prefecture opposes restarts of the Oi units. Governor Taizo Mikazuki explained, “We’re not in an environment that allows us to agree to the restarts of the reactors, in view of persistent concern among the residents of our prefecture.” But, both nuke units are not in Shika Prefecture! They are in Fukui Prefecture. The reason is because a small fraction of the 30km Urgent Planning Zone for Oi station is in Shika Prefecture, and the governor feels obligated to cry foul! http://the-japan-news.com/news/article/0004090746

November 23, 2017

  • The large crane for unit #3 fuel removal is lifted onto the refueling deck. The crane will be used to lift casks filled with used nuclear fuel bundles. (photos only) http://photo.tepco.co.jp/en/date/2017/201711-e/171120-01e.html  The unit #3 refueling deck is briefly opened for the News Media. On Tuesday, the Industry Ministry and Tepco guided reporters on a deck tour. The deck was clear of debris and the radiation levels were a relatively miniscule 0.08 millisieverts per hour. This is 10,000 times lower than just after the nuke accident of 3/11/11. At the edge of the refueling pool, the level rose to 0.7 mSv/hr. Even at this very low exposure level, workers are allowed to be there for no more than two hours. This exemplifies the ridiculous exposure limitations placed on Tepco staff. Anything less than 100 mSv total exposure is scientifically agreed to be not hypothetically hazardous!  https://mainichi.jp/english/articles/20171122/p2a/00m/0na/017000c
  • The first bags of rural radioactive debris arrived in Okuma last Friday. The facility was formally opened October 29th, but receipt of the initial materials lagged by nearly three weeks. The Environment Ministry, which runs the operation, says it could take six years to bring in all 170,000 tons of debris from the myriad of temporary storage sites in the prefecture. Minister Masaharu Nakagawa said, "(The state) will continue giving first priority to securing safety and properly carry out the disposal with our best efforts to win local confidence.” Originally proposed to be run privately in 2013, Tokyo decided to assuage local concerns by nationalizing the site. https://english.kyodonews.net/news/2017/11/0a3d2de46838-disposal-of-low-level-radioactive-waste-from-2011-crisis-begins.html
  • Demolition work in Fukushima Prefecture is progressing. Of the nearly 12,000 houses scheduled for demolition in the evacuation zone, about 8,700 (70%) have been scrapped as of October 11. Most of those demolished (~7,000) have been in the coastline communities devastated by the 3/11/11 tsunami: Minamisoma, Naraha, Tomioka, and Namie. The numbers of scheduled demolitions slowly increases as people repopulate. This is because hundreds have not returned home since the evacuation orders were rendered, and many are now living far away from their pre-calamity homes. Further, the number of demolitions will surely escalate even more when evacuation orders are lifted for Okuma and Futaba. An Environment Ministry official commented on the relatively slow progress over the past few years, "We have to undertake demolition work while securing safety amid progress in the permanent return of evacuees. But we want to complete the work as soon as possible." http://www.fukushimaminponews.com/news.html?id=865
  • Japan Atomic Power has borrowed money from its decommissioning fund. The Industry Ministry requires nuclear power plant operators to annually accumulate funds to cover the estimated costs of decommissioning nukes. Japco should now have about $1.6 billion set aside, but “a person familiar with the situation” says the company has “diverted the majority.” Japco does not deny some financial diversion, but says it has “used the money appropriately in light of various circumstances and future forecasts.” To recover from the financial crunch caused by Japan’s nuclear moratorium, Tokai unit #2 and Tsuruga unit #2 must eventually be restarted. The Tsuruga unit will reach Japan’s essentially arbitrary 40-year licensing limit next November, so Japco has applied for a 20-year extension. An over-riding problem is that the Nuclear Regulation Authority has labeled a geologic fault under Tsuruga #2 as being active, thus restart is problematic, at best. The company wants to build two 1538 MWE Advanced Pressurized Water Reactors at Tsuruga station to further ease its financial burden. http://www.asahi.com/ajw/articles/AJ201711170054.html
  • The IAEA gives a good safety assessment to Kashiwazaki-Kariwa (K-K) units #6 & #7. In its 2015 report, the International Atomic Energy Agency identified 15 areas for improvement, reflecting Fukushima lessons learned. The 2017 report shows that eight of the issues have been resolved and the other seven have experienced satisfactory improvement. The IAEA concludes that Tepco has clearly made efforts to improve safety with respect to the two K-K units. http://www.tepco.co.jp/en/press/corp-com/release/2017/1466784_10469.html
  • An expert panel in Fukui Prefecture confirms the safety improvements at Oi nuclear station. The panel’s report says the safety measures for Oi units #3 & #4 have been secured. Fukui Governor Nishikawa said, "I came to understand that the reactors' safety has improved since they were reactivated in 2012." He is visiting the plant to verify the report. https://jen.jiji.com/jc/eng?g=eco&k=2017112200636

November 16, 2017

  • Three decades of studies show life may depend on low level radiation (LLR) exposure. In 1987, researchers in France discovered that when microbes are shielded from background radiation, their growth is stunted. This suggests the notion of there being no safe level of exposure is false, and that LLR is beneficial to life. Two places this discovery has been tested are under a mountain in Italy and at France’s Laboratoire Souterrain de Modane. In Italy, scientist Massimo Pinto found that when cells are kept at low radiation levels for a period of months, they can no longer survive when returned to natural background. While in typical background radiation fields, cells keep their natural repair mechanisms “switched on”. The problem is finding other places where background radiation is extremely low. One such location is located in a New Mexico salt mine. New Mexico State’s Hugo Castillo heads up the research team. They report that exposure to radiation levels as much as 80 times below background causes biological stress in microbe D. radiodurans, and grows slower than its control group exposed to New Mexico’s natural background. Another microbe, Shewanella oneidensis, initially has a population drop when underexposed, but after a short while the numbers return to the control growth rate. Castillo surmises about the two microbe’s differing responses, “…it appears the cells can turn some genes on and off to compensate for this lack of radiation.” What is the location of the American study? It is inside the Waste Isolation Pilot Project. http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/nova/next/evolution/life-without-radiation/
  • The unit #3 fuel handling machine (FHM) and crane arrive at F. Daiichi. The FHM and fuel handling crane were lifted onto the unit #3 refueling deck on Nov. 12. The two devices will be used to prepare fuel bundles for transfer to the ground-level spent fuel storage facility. Once a container is filled with fuel bundles, it will be tightly sealed before being lifted onto a transport vehicle by another crane. There are 566 fuel bundles in the spent fuel pool, 36 meters above ground level. It is expected that the removal process will begin in mid-to-late 2018.  http://www.tepco.co.jp/en/nu/fukushima-np/handouts/2017/images/handouts_171109_01-e.pdf -- https://jen.jiji.com/jc/eng?g=eco&k=2017111200203  A picture of the FHM atop the unit #3 refueling deck, and the crane being lifted to its right, can be found here… http://photo.tepco.co.jp/library/171112_01/171112_02.jpg
  • The governor of Fukushima Prefecture inspects the new Fuel Handling Machine at F. Daiichi – pictorial… http://photo.tepco.co.jp/en/date/2017/201711-e/171115-01e.html
  • Tokyo designates a “rebuilding hub” in Okuma Town, which is co-host to F. Daiichi with Futaba. Futaba was designated with its rebuilding hub in September. A 680 hectare area of Okuma accounts for 18% of the town’s “difficult to return” zone, and will be home to town government, residences, and shopping center, for an estimated 2,600 people. The area is currently vacant. Now, Tokyo can begin decontamination, water maintenance and infrastructure recovery using public funds. The hub’s evacuation order is scheduled to be lifted in the spring of 2022. http://www.asahi.com/ajw/articles/AJ201711130039.html
  • Tomioka’s traditional fall fair resumes for the first time since 2010. The two-day event, called Ebisukp-ichi, is a traditional way to pray for bumper crops and prosperous businesses. This year, fireworks were also held in memory of those who died in the Great East Japan Earthquake and Tsunami of 3/11/11. Local officials decided to hold the fair after the evacuation order for the community was lifted last spring. The fair dates back more than a century. http://www.asahi.com/ajw/articles/AJ201711120025.html
  • The European Union relaxes restrictions on Japanese food imports. The EU has required a radiation safety certificate for foods from 13 prefectures to insure that the products meet European safety standards. The phase-out of restrictions for 10 prefectures will begin December 1st. Foods losing the import restrictions include rice from Fukushima Prefecture, yellowtail fish, red sea bream, some mushrooms, and mountain vegetables. By relaxing restrictions on Fukushima rice means all prefectures can ship their rice without constraints. Some restrictions will remain in-place for specific agricultural and seafood products. https://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/en/news/20171112_06/
  • A “so what” article about Kobe steel in nuke plants. Kobe Steel Ltd. has been charged with fabricating quality data on some of its products, mostly on specific welding rods. There are nine Japanese nuclear units that have used Kobe Steel products, but none of the welding rods involved with the data fabrication charges. The Nuclear Regulation Authority was informed of this fact on Wednesday, November 15. Regardless, Japan’s news media makes hay from it with a misleading headline posted by Jiji Press. https://jen.jiji.com/jc/eng?g=eco&k=2017111501365  
  • Tokyo allegedly bribes students to attend nuclear waste disposal site events. The government has been holding meetings to provide a public understanding of hosting a repository for high level nuclear waste. The events started after the government published a map of potential disposal sites that are geologically-appropriate. However, poor attendance, especially by college-age students, has influenced Tokyo to provide an incentive to reverse the trend. It was not supposed to offer money as an enticement. One organizer said, “We weren't supposed to solicit participants by paying money, but the idea was not thoroughly shared inside the (organizing) company." One company, Oceanize Inc, promised 12 students 10,000 yen each for their participation in the city of Saitama, on Nov. 6th. Japan’s Press sees this as evidence of government bribes. https://japantoday.com/category/national/students-offered-reward-for-joining-gov't-events-on-nuclear-waste

November 9, 2017

  • UNSCEAR reiterates that there have been no detectible negative Fukushima health effects. On October 27, Secretary Malcolm Crick of the United Nations Scientific Committee on the Effects of Atomic Radiation (UNSCEAR) visited Japanese Vice-Minister for Foreign Affairs Manabu Horii to deliver the group’s 2017 white paper on the health risks stemming from the nuke accident at F. Daiichi. Presentations were made two days later in Iwaki City, but none of the Japanese popular news outlets had the decency to report on any of this. Only Japan Atomic Industrial Forum has posted, 13 days after the fact. Thus, the vast majority of Japan’s population, including those in Fukushima Prefecture, have no idea concerning the findings. The two most important findings are: (1) the most serious and noticeable effects of the March, 2011 accident are with mental health and social well-being, and (2) and a 2016 paper claiming a 50-factor increase in thyroid cancer with Fukushima children is seriously flawed, citing excessive bias in its planning and methodology, and insufficient consideration of the use of highly-sensitive ultrasonic inspection devices. http://www.jaif.or.jp/en/unscear-white-paper-reiterates-findings-that-fukushima-risks-are-low/
  • In the same report (above), on 10/23/17 Hajime Suzuki, clinic director at the International University of Health and Welfare, reported that the average thyroid equivalent dose from external and internal radiation exposure for one-year-old infants in the prefecture had been reevaluated and found to be less than 40mSv in all areas. This essentially verifies the projected exposures to infants found in the UNSCEAR report of 2013. Once again, Japan’s popular Press dropped the ball and kept the country’s population uninformed. http://www.jaif.or.jp/en/unscear-white-paper-reiterates-findings-that-fukushima-risks-are-low/
  • The fuel handling machine (FHM) for unit #3 used fuel removal is being shipped to F. Daiichi. Five of the eight sections of the roof over the refueling deck have been installed. But, the last three cannot be placed until the FHM is mounted on the deck. The FHM will remove the fuel bundles from the unit #3 Spent Fuel Pool. Each removed bundle will be lifted by the crane and inserted into a transfer vessel. Once filled, the transfer vessel will be moved to the ground-level storage facility. Unlike the fuel removal from unit #4 SFP, this operation will be performed entirely by remote control from the Main Anti-Earthquake Building. The machine is being shipped by sea and is expected to arrive at F. Daiichi in time for a mid-November installation of the device. http://www.jaif.or.jp/en/fuel-removal-system-leaves-yokohama-headed-for-fukushima-daiichi-3/
  • Attendance at Iitate schools nearly doubles. After last year’s lifting of the municipality’s Tokyo-mandated living restrictions, only 52 children attended the local schools. This year, there will be 90; an increase of over 70%. This good news was revealed by the Board of Education. Twenty-four of the students are from families that were previously undecided, and sixteen were from families who said they were not going to let their children be schooled in Iitate. Mayor Norio Kanno said, "We are happy to hear children say they would like to graduate from the school in Iitate. We will seek to deepen bonds with villagers and establish a sort of school that will be the core of reconstruction of our village." One of the reasons for the unexpected up-swell is making uniform costs and study material expenses free, for children ranging from babies to junior high. http://www.fukushimaminponews.com/news.html?id=863
  • Blanket radioactive contamination scanning of Fukushima rice is questioned. Since 2011, every bag of rice produced in the prefecture has been tested for its radioactivity. It has been years since a bag has failed to meet Japan’s tough standards. Many of the prefecture’s producers want the requirements pared back because the checks are costly. Others say they want the current checking of each and every bag of rice because a number of consumers continue to avoid buying Fukushima-produced foods. The prefectural government wants to make a final decision by the end of the year, and put an end to the debate. https://jen.jiji.com/jc/eng?g=eco&k=2017110500432
  • The NRA chairman says the pace of nuke restarts will not speed up. The Nuclear Regulation Authority Chairman Toyoshi Fuketa told this to Reuters, earlier this week. He said the problem is the pace with which units on the Pacific coastline might meet Japan’s tough safety standards, “We have accumulated experience in safety reviews, but… many of the plants in Eastern Japan that we are reviewing now have difficult natural conditions. It’s doubtful the pace of approvals would quicken.” When asked how many units will restart over the next five years, he said, “I honestly do not know.” https://www.reuters.com/article/us-japan-nuclear/japan-nuclear-regulator-says-restart-approval-pace-unlikely-to-speed-up-idUSKBN1D719N
  • The NRA doubts the effectiveness of the Fukushima Ice Wall. Last week, Tepco announced the last section of the in-ground ice wall at F. Daiichi was frozen, but now the regulator is said to be skeptical. The Japan News posts that “some members” of the NRA doubt the ability of the massive structure to greatly reduce groundwater influx to the basements of the four damaged units. The inflow has already been reduced from 400 tons per day to less than 100 tons. But, the NRA says much of the decrease is due to paving the surface of the ground which prevents rainwater from percolating downward, plus pumping out water from 40 sub-drains must contribute to the drop. However, the inflow has decreased every time the NRA allowed sections of the wall to be frozen, thus it seems the NRA merely remains distrustful of anything Tepco says. http://the-japan-news.com/news/article/0004052403 
  • A new Fukushima exploitation film is released in Japan. It is entitled “Nuclear cattle”, concerning the impact of Tokyo’s mandated evacuation on cattle farmers. It focuses on the farmers' response after the government ordered them to slaughter livestock exposed to radiation (actually…airborne contamination). You can read the Mainichi’s article on the exploitation flick here… https://mainichi.jp/english/articles/20171109/p2a/00m/0na/014000c

November 2, 2017

  • The Fukushima Ice Wall is effectively completed. In August, Tepco staff began freezing the final seven-meter section of the 1.5 kilometer barrier. Underground temperatures became sub-zero at the end of October, indicating that the entire 30-meter deep wall is now frozen solid. Some surface monitors remain above freezing, and it is likely that some of the ground around sub-surface pipes and equipment tunnels remains unfrozen. Regardless, Tepco has begun assessing the wall’s ability to reduce the in-flow of water to the basements of the Reactor and Turbine Buildings. It seems that NHK World is the only popular Press outlet to report on this milestone! https://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/en/news/20171102_13/
  • A Fukushima medical group says it is important to understand many types of risk, rather than focusing on one in-isolation. The group compared the risk of cancer due to a nuclear accident’s radiation, to risks stemming from diabetes. It was found that “loss of life expectancy” (how much a person’s life could be shortened) is 30 times greater with respect to diabetes than with low level radiation exposure. The doctors argue that it is important to deal with post-accident risks in a balanced manner. Diabetes was chosen because of a significant increase in the prevalence of the affliction following the Fukushima accident evacuation. It is important to note that the models chosen for the study were designed to overestimate the risk of cancer and underestimate the risk of diabetes. Minamisoma Municipal Hospital researcher Masaharu Tsubokura, M.D., said, “The consequences of a nuclear accident are more than just radioactive contamination and radiation exposure. There are also quite significant health risks from worsened chronic diseases, including diabetes, owing to changes in living and societal environments.” http://www.jaif.or.jp/en/medical-group-in-fukushima-emphasizes-importance-of-understanding-multiple-risks/
  • The rural contaminated debris storage facility opens in Okuma. The Okuma repository is the first of seven on the 1,600 hectare (16 km2) site, shared by Futaba. Environment Minister Tadahiko Ito said, “We are hoping to remove as many bags of contaminated soil as possible from people’s living spaces.” http://www.asahi.com/ajw/articles/AJ201710290026.html 
  • Japan Atomic Power Company (Japco) will file for a 20-year licensing extension for Tokai unit #2. The unit will reach the end of its 40-year operating license on November 28, 2018. If approved by the nuclear Regulation Authority, Tokai #2 will be the first Boiling Water Reactor plant to be granted the extension. It is expected that the filing will bring considerable public protests because of the large population living within the 30-kilometer emergency planning zone. In addition, the Asahi Shimbun, Japan’s second largest newspaper with a daily circulation of 11 million, is posting that Tokai “…narrowly escaped a catastrophe like the one at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant when it was struck by the magnitude-9.0 Great East Japan Earthquake and tsunami on March 11, 2011.” The rationale behind the claim is that one of the three diesels failed to operate after the station was struck by the tsunami, and some unidentified “experts” claim that a tsunami two feet higher would have made reactor cooling impossible. Japco owns four nuclear units… two at Tokai and two at Tsuruga Station. They are the only sources of revenue for the company. http://www.jaif.or.jp/en/japc-files-application-for-permission-to-extend-lifetime-of-tokai-2-npp-to-60-years/ -- https://jen.jiji.com/jc/eng?g=eco&k=2017102700899 -- http://www.asahi.com/ajw/articles/AJ201710270036.html

October 26, 2017

  • Fukushima’s storage facility for rural radioactive debris opens Saturday. Environment Minister Masaharu Nakagawa announced that Okuma Town will begin receiving bags of contaminated soil and other materials on October 28th. He said, "There are numerous challenges that must be overcome, but the start of operations at the facility is an important step toward the final disposal of contaminated soil." After receipt, the bags will be opened so that contents can be separated according to the degree of radioactivity. Burnable trash will be incinerated and the ash securely packaged for long-term storage. The underground operation has a capacity of 50,000 cubic meters of material. A twin underground facility is under construction in Futaba. When completed, it is estimated that the 16 km2 operation will have processed and stored about 22 million m3 of debris. Roughly 40% (~6.5 km2) of the land has been procured by the Environment Ministry.  https://mainichi.jp/english/articles/20171025/p2a/00m/0sp/012000c -- http://www.asahi.com/ajw/articles/AJ201710250040.html
  • Tokyo schools will resume annual Fukushima field trips. An October 19th Fukushima prefectural survey found that 37% of the capitol’s elementary or Junior high schools are either scheduled to recommence such tours or are “considering” restart. While this percentage may seem small, it really isn’t. An Education Ministry survey found that about 63% of the schools in Tokyo and its six surrounding prefectures did not visit Fukushima prior to 2011. Thus, the 37% planning to tour the prefecture is roughly the same as before the nuclear accident. The Fukushima government has provided a subsidy to schools for such visits since 2016.  http://www.fukushimaminponews.com/news.html?id=862
  • Tepco and Tokyo both appeal the latest Fukushima accident reparation ruling. On October 10th, the Fukushima District Court ordered both parties to pay out about $4.3 million to some 2,900 plaintiffs. On Monday, the government and the utility appealed to a higher court in Sendai, Miyagi Prefecture. On the same day, the awarded plaintiff’s lawyers filed an appeal demanding more money. Lawyer Izutaro Managi said the Fukushima court "clearly acknowledged the liability of the state", but the "level and scope of compensation is insufficient. We will seek compensation that better matches the actual damage.” The 2013 filing called for more than $40 million in compensation for 3,800 plaintiffs. https://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/en/news/20171023_25/ -- https://mainichi.jp/english/articles/20171024/p2g/00m/0dm/017000c
  • More of Fukushima’s main train line to the coast opens. The East Japan Railway Company opened a seven kilometer section of its Joban Line between repopulating Tomioka and Naraha. The segment was devastated by the earthquake and tsunami of 2011. Tomioka Mayor Koichi Miyamoto said the reopening fills him with great joy, and “Many residents were looking forward to the resumption of operation. We hope this will give a boost to the recovery of the town." One of the initial train riders said the rebuilding of the train tracks and Tomioka Station, totally destroyed by the tsunami, is impressive. Repairs on the remaining 21-kilometer sections in Futaba and Osuna remain to be finished.  https://jen.jiji.com/jc/eng?g=eco&k=2017102100430 -- https://japantoday.com/category/national/jr-east-partially-reopens-line-halted-since-2011-nuclear-disaster
  • Fukushima’s governor promotes his prefecture to Brazil. Governor Masao Uchibori held a seminar in Sao Paulo on Saturday. He stressed the extreme monitoring measures that insure the safety of Fukushima-produced foods. He told the audience of ninety people that over the past two years, all rice and fish have passed Japan’s stringent radiation checks and are safe for consumption. One participant said he was surprised to learn how hard the people of Fukushima have been working! Uchibori also stressed the technology exchanges with Denmark and Germany, and the advancement of renewable energy. https://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/en/news/20171022_11/

October 19, 2017

  • Lawson will use drones to deliver goods to repopulating evacuees of Minamisoma’s Odaka District. The program focuses on elderly people who have limited access to shopping facilities. A Lawson sales vehicle will carry many popular items for immediate sale. If a product is carried by the vehicle, it will be airlifted by un-manned drone from a store that has the commodity. The nearest store from the district’s Community Center is about seven minutes away, so inconvenience will be minimal. Rakuten Inc. makes the drones. Rakuten and Lawson say if Minamisoma concept is a success, it will be expanded across Japan. http://www.fukushimaminponews.com/news.html?id=859
  • Fukushima sake is served to Great Britain’s Parliament. An October 17th parliamentary reception provided the liquor from six of the prefectures breweries. The venue was organized jointly by the Fukushima government and the British-Japanese Parliamentary Group to demonstrate the degree of recovery from the Great East Japan Earthquake and Tsunami of 2011. Ian Bailey, a British company owner, said, "It's very smooth…is nice and subtle…and eminently drinkable.” Former Parliamentarian Derek Wyatt added that the sake had "same good taste on the back of the mouth and on the front of the mouth." https://jen.jiji.com/jc/eng?g=eco&k=2017101801362
  • Tokyo will require a new emergency cooling system (ECCS) for Boiling Water Reactors. The system will be in addition to the ECCS already in place on all BWRs. It will use seawater to cool the hot, radioactive liquids produced by a severe accident. The system was designed by Tepco for the two Kashiwazaki-Kariwa units that were recently given a safety approval by the Nuclear Regulation Authority. The NRA feels this is a better option than depressurization of the containments through filtered venting systems because there will be no radioactive material released to the environment. https://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/en/news/20171018_31/ -- https://english.kyodonews.net/news/2017/10/5bec015b1c23-japan-to-require-new-cooling-system-for-boiling-water-reactors.html
  • Kansai Electric Co. intends to decommission Oi units #1 & #2. These will be the first large-output nukes in Japan to succumb to Tokyo’s arbitrary licensing limit of 40 years. Both 1,175 MWe units will reach that point in 2019. Kansai Electric (Kepco) says the cost of upgrading the units to meet Japan’s new standards would be too great for them to remain profitable, even after a 20 licensing extension is granted. The decision is actually a preliminary one, but the final official pronouncement is expected by the end of the year. The reason for the scrapping of both units is that they are the only Pressurized Water Reactor systems in Japan with ice condenser-type containments. In addition, containment design is such that there is much less workspace around the Reactor Pressure Vessels than with all other PWRs. Getting Nuclear Regulatory Authority approval would require regulations that differ from all other Japanese PWRs, and the cost of meeting such unique regulations could be around $1 billion. The profits from 20 years of operation would probably not compensate for the added cost. http://the-japan-news.com/news/article/0004008184 
  • Nuclear energy may not be the big election issue in Japan that the popular Press makes it seem. The Mainichi Shimbun runs an article that spends a lot of copy re-hashing its typical focus on antinuclear sentiment. However, the report eventually gets to the meat of the matter. Meiji University Professor Masamichi Ida says opinion polls in the popular Press often misrepresent voting behavior, "You need to be careful in reading opinion polls. The way a question is asked influences responses. When a question asks whether you are for or against restarting nuclear plants, it is quite natural to say that you are against it, given the Fukushima crisis. But if the question was, is nuclear policy an important factor in choosing who to vote for, voters tend to pick more urgent issues such as social security. Past elections show that voters who are against nuclear power will still vote for the pro-nuclear LDP." Toyo University Professor Katsuyuki Yakushiji adds, "As Japan is no longer in a nuclear crisis due to stabilization of nuclear power plants, the general interest in the nuclear issue is fading more than six years after the Fukushima nuclear accident." https://japantoday.com/category/politics/focus-nuclear-power-issue-unlikely-to-be-decisive-factor-in-election

October 12, 2017

  • The IAEA confirms Japan’s Fukushima-related marine radioactivity results. The IAEA’s Environmental Laboratories found that the oceanic contamination level reports coming out of Japan are accurate. At a September 28th Press briefing in Tokyo, Laboratories Director David Osborn said, “After 3 years of inter-laboratory comparisons and proficiency tests, we’re able to make the conclusion very confidently that the results published regularly by Japanese authorities are precise. Over 98% of the results were not statistically different from each other, which shows a high level of consistency among participating laboratories. This demonstrates a high level of accuracy and competence on the part of Japanese laboratories involved in the analysis of radionuclides in marine sample...” Osborn added that fish samples from 2015-2016 revealed Cesium-134 were about 5 Becquerels per kilogram, which is far below Japan’s 100 Bq/kg standard. Professor Jota Kanda of Tokyo University’s Marine Science and Technology department, said “I do welcome the IAEA conclusion, and I do trust the data of the government monitoring program.” Fukushima InFORM’s head Jay Cullen praised the IAEA conclusions, and said Japan’s program is suitable to monitor on-going contamination impacts, even when the “partially purified” waste water stored at F. Daiichi is released to the sea. https://fukushimainform.ca/2017/10/11/iaea-affirms-japans-fukushima-related-radioactivity-monitoring/
  • A Fukushima court finds both Tepco and Tokyo culpable for the 2011 nuclear accident. About 2,900 plaintiffs will collectively receive 500 million yen ($4.4 million) in damages for mental distress due to the accident destroying the base of their livelihoods. The filing included 3,800 evacuees and called for 16 billion yen in compensation, but the court found that only 2,900 qualified for damages. The suit also demanded that 50,000 yen per month be paid to each plaintiff until their area radiation levels returned to the pre-accident level (0.04 mSv/hr), but this was denied by the court. At issue was whether or not Tepco and Tokyo could have foreseen the severity of the tsunami, taken appropriate measure to prevent the three meltdowns, and if the existent payment of damage compensation has been appropriate. Presiding Judge Hideki Kanazawa explained why Tokyo and Tepco were found culpable, "The government's inaction in exercising its regulatory authority (to order Tepco to take safety measures) was extremely unreasonable." Tokyo responded that it did not have legal power to compel Tepco to upgrade tsunami protection until after the Nuclear Regulation Authority was created in 2012. It is noteworthy that the Mainichi Shimbun reports most of those awarded damages are voluntary evacuees, but there has been no corroborative mention in the other news outlets we scan on a daily basis. https://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/en/news/20171010_24/ -- http://www.asahi.com/ajw/articles/AJ201710100060.html -- https://english.kyodonews.net/news/2017/10/4a4b353519fe-update1-govt-tepco-ordered-to-pay-damages-for-fukushima-disaster.html -- https://mainichi.jp/english/articles/20171011/p2a/00m/0na/014000c
  • Winning plaintiffs hail the Fukushima court decision for being a sharp criticism of Tokyo. Plaintiff leader Takashi Nakajima said, “If we do not try to make the government’s responsibility clear, a (similar) accident will be repeated. On that point, we obtained a complete victory.” Hitoshi Yoshioka, member of the 2012 government’s investigative team on the nuke accident, added, “The Fukushima District Court’s ruling acknowledged that if the government followed the long-term appraisal (of 2002), it would have been able to prevent the situation in that all electric sources were lost (and, as a result, the nuclear accident occurred). The ruling pointed out again that the government and TEPCO are bearing major responsibility for neglecting to take measures (to safeguard the nuclear plant against tsunami of that scale).” http://www.asahi.com/ajw/articles/AJ201710110042.html
  • Tepco is ordered to pay $6 million to a Minamisoma golf course. The award is to cover revenue lost due to the nuclear accident. Minamisoma’s Kashima Country Club is located in the 20-30 kilometer radius from F. Daiichi that was designated “emergency evacuation preparation zone” by Tokyo in 2011. The golf course was closed for three months. Since re-opening, some of the course has remained closed over contamination concerns. Kashima CC filed a suit for about $50 million and demanded Tepco fully decontaminate the parts of the course still unopened. The Tokyo court said Tepco should compensate based solely on the difference between revenue before the accident, and revenue thereafter. It also rejected the call for further decontamination measures. Presiding Judge Yuko Mizuno explained, “The contents and method of decontamination have yet to be specified and therefore the demand is inappropriate.” http://www.asahi.com/ajw/articles/AJ201710120039.html
  • More on the recent NRA approval of the Kashiwazaki-Kariwa safety screening. The Nuclear Regulation Authority approval is called a “draft screening document”. After a 30 day public comment period, the NRA will review “construction plans”, details of work on upgraded safety measures, and revised operation management rules. Enhancements to be studied include upgraded cooling functions during a loss of power and multiple depressurization systems. Although not required, new seawalls have been built and will also be inspected by the NRA. As for the extraordinary investigation into Tepco’s aptitude to safely operate nuke plants, the screening document concludes, “There is no reason to determine that [TEPCO] lacks capability as a nuclear plant operator.” The Yomiuri Shimbun adds that the Niigata governor’s requirement of his personal accident inquiry taking 3-4 more years is a “superfluous addition” to due process since such studies have already been performed. http://the-japan-news.com/news/article/0003987477 
  • Former PM and antinuke fanatic Naoto Kan is running for a seat in Japan’s Diet. He is among the first group of candidates from the new, liberal Constitutional Democratic Party, created out of the collapse of the Democratic Party of Japan. Party leader Yukio Edano says they are determined to topple current PM Shinzo Abe’s regime. https://mainichi.jp/english/articles/20171007/p2g/00m/0dm/004000c

 

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