Fukushima Accident Updates (Blog)


The internet's top source of objective Fukushima News. No "spins"...just summaries of the news reports in the Japanese Press. Often called the  Fukushima nuclear disaster, the Fukushima accident is a major topic around the world. (Updates are posted twice weekly; Monday and Thursday)

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November 20, 2014

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

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

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

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

November 17, 2014

  • Radioactive water continues to seep into some equipment tunnels. Tepco says the attempt to stop the inflows from the connected turbine building basements does not appear successful. Plugging cracks with concrete at the points of inflow in the tunnels ended more than a week ago, but the problem remains, at least in part. If the inflow had completely stopped, the removal of 200 tons of water would have lowered the level in the trench by ~80 centimeters. However, it only dropped about 21 cm. The water is either coming from the turbine building/tunnel interface or groundwater is flowing in. Tepco says they will monitor the situation and do what they need to do, including possibly filling the tunnels with concrete if the problem persists. It should be noted that the Press continues to reinforce the questionable worst-case scenario that the contaminants are flowing from the tunnels and into the sea with groundwater. http://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/english/news/20141114_05.html -- http://mainichi.jp/english/english/newsselect/news/20141118p2a00m0na005000c.html
  • Fukushima‘s new governor wants all of the prefecture’s nukes scrapped. Governor Masao Uchibori met with industry minister Yoichi Miyazawa today and said he would like all of his prefecture’s nukes decommissioned, including the four fully-functional units at F Daini. He also urged Tokyo to take the lead in all decommissioning efforts. Miyazawa said there are no government procedures for compulsory decommissioning of functional units and that the decisions concerning F. Daini are up to the station’s owner, Tepco. Uchibori also wants a thorough explanation of Tokyo’s plans for the temporary storage of rural radioactive material in Okuma and Futaba. He stressed the need for close communication between the central government, Fukushima Prefecture, the affected towns, and local landowners. Tokyo wants to have plans in place for material transportation by the end of the year. http://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/english/news/nuclear.html - http://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/english/news/20141117_26.html

  • The family of another suicide victim plans to sue Tepco. One month after 3/11/11, Tokyo ordered Iitate Village evacuated. 102 year-old Fumio Okubo chose to commit suicide rather than follow the government’s orders. Now, the family has plans to file a $260,000 lawsuit claiming Tepco culpable for Fumio’s death. http://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/english/news/20141114_30.html (comment - While the man’s death is tragic and Japanese law allows for this kind of compensation, the culpable party is the one that ordered the evacuation – the Tokyo government under the antinuclear Prime Minister, Naoto Kan.)

  • 2,800 Iitate evacuees want more money. The village, located 40-50 kilometers from F. Daiichi, remains evacuated and decontamination continues. About half of the pre-accident population feels they are not being adequately compensated for mental anguish, so they have filed with an arbitrator to try and have their monthly stipend tripled to more than $3,000. In addition, they want another $172,000 per person because they believe their lives have been ruined. The residents say that the prolonged evacuation is splitting local communities and families, plus the community’s history is being threatened. The group’s legal representative, Kenichi Hasegawa, says the evacuees feel this is the only way to fully express their anger over the prolonged government-mandated emigration. They want their lives back, but are not optimistic. http://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/english/news/20141114_34.html

  • Japan Atomic Industrial Forum posted summaries of recent developments. Topics for this week include Kansai Electric planning for a licensing extension, Shimane nuke station completes an emergency “base isolation” facility, Tepco’s removal of a second unit #1 roof panel, improved safety plans at Hamaoka Station are delayed by a year, and a new low-voltage mobile power source for Tohoku Electric Company. http://www.jaif.or.jp/english/news_images/pdf/ENGNEWS01_1416185623P.pdf

November 13, 2014

  • Tepco embraces Woods Hole Oceanographic’s (WHOI) report on Pacific Ocean Cesium content. WHOI says the waters off the coast of North America show very little Cs-134, the isotope used to identify radioactivity from the Fukushima accident. The research group says the concentrations are "well below what is thought to be of human health or fisheries concern." WHOI researcher, Ken Buesseler says the levels have no impact on the human body, or and shellfish. The analyzed activity of less than 2 Bq/m3 is more than 1,000 times lower than drinking water limits established by the US EPA. (aside – Who drinks seawater? – end aside) Buesseler added that someone swimming in the water would be exposed to radioactivity "1,000 times less than a single dental X-ray. It will not deter me from swimming in the Pacific,” and Cesium "does not bio-accumulate [in fish and shellfish] the way many other elements do, like mercury." http://www.tepco.co.jp/en/press/corp-com/release/2014/1243939_5892.html

  • The question of where land-deposited Cesium is going, may have been answered. University of Tokyo’s Toshihiro Kogure and his team studied soil samples from Iitate Village, Fukushima Prefecture. They found that most of the deposited Cesium was contained in the soil’s black mica. Mica is a common mineral found in most types of rock. Granite in Fukushima prefecture contains the mineral, and tiny pieces flake off from weathering. Kogure’s study identifies that much, if not most of the radioactive Cesium is trapped in the mica and may spur ideas on how to remove it. The team says they don’t know why the Mica entraps the Cesium. http://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/english/news/20141111_09.html

  • More post-accident transcripts have been released by Tokyo. Unlike the release of Masoa Yoshida’s and Naoto Kan’s testimonies last summer, there has been very little Press about the latest releases in Japan. On Wednesday, the government disclosed another 56 testimonies taken by the Diet’s independent nuclear accident investigation panel (NAIIC). Tokyo has now released 75 testimonies, but roughly 700 continue to be sequestered. One of the latest released testimonies comes from Manabu Terata, aide to then-PM Naoto Kan. Terata mostly parroted his boss’ rationale for Kan’s infamous invasion of F. Daiichi the morning of March 12, 2014. Terata said Kan’s move was ill-advised, but in keeping with his character. He added that he wasn’t optimistic about what kind of impact the visit would have on emergency actions at the plant. Terata also said, “[Kan] appeared to be quite menacing, and he was speaking in an extremely harsh tone of voice.” Another testimony, by Hidehiko Nishiyama of NISA, concerned whether or not he said anything about meltdown early-on in the crisis, “There was no denying the possibility of meltdowns occurring there, but I did not use words such as meltdown.” Another testimony, this time made by Atsuo Tamura of the Science and Technology Ministry who was sent to Fukushima Prefecture, says, “I was convinced [the facility’s] reactor cores had been damaged, judging from the fact that, even prior to March 12, high concentrations of iodine and cesium had been detected [around the nuclear facility].” http://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/english/news/nuclear.html -- http://the-japan-news.com/news/article/0001716505 (comment - So, who ordered meltdown to be a forbidden topic at press conferences? I’ve repeatedly reported that it was Naoto Kan who ordered Tepco to stop speaking about meltdown on March 12, and have all press statements cleared by his cabinet before release. Now, the non-transparency plot thickens. It wasn’t only Tepco that was withholding the information (as all antinuclear sources allege), but it was government spokespersons, as well. Only one person could have muzzled everyone – Kan!!)

  • Japan’s nuke watchdog will consider a formal public objection to the Sendai station restarts. The document was signed by 1,400 citizens from across Japan, roughly .001% of the country’s population. The objection contains the usual antinuclear complaints, including insufficient safety systems to protect against worst-case earthquakes, inability to confirm that emergency evacuation plans will actually work to protect the public, and restarting at this point-in-time is unacceptably hasty. The NRA says they will consider the objection. http://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/english/news/20141112_29.html

  • Kansai Electric is set to apply for licensing extensions on two units. Two Pressurized Water Reactors at Takamara station are approaching their politics-based 40 year lifetimes. One will be 40 by the end of the week, the other next November. KEPCO plans to ask for the allowed 20 year extensions. The company expects high returns on the money it will invest to meet the new regulations for extended licensing. Tokyo says it will allow the 20-year extension on conditions that plant operators conduct special inspections and upgrade safety measures. KEPCO is the first utility to announce plans for extensions, pursuant to Tokyo’s October request that companies decide on either lifetime extension or commitment to decommissioning for seven units approaching age 40. http://mainichi.jp/english/english/newsselect/news/20141113p2a00m0na001000c.html

  • Fukushima farmers continue to suffer from consumer radiophobia. Date City farmers produced 210,000 shipping-bags of rice this year, all of which met the Prefecture’s self-imposed 60 Becquerels/kg limit. The national standard is 100 Bq/kg. Regardless, market sales lag pre-accident levels by hundreds of millions USD. Another item, dried persimmons, has had a more difficult time. Although last year’s fruit met the local standard, drying concentrated radioactive isotopes by up to a factor of five and kept the item from being sold. None of fruit from the area’s 250,000 trees could be marketed. But, this year some of the dried persimmons have met the standard. Only time will tell if consumer radiophobia will hurt sales. http://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/english/news/nuclearwatch/20141112.html

November 10, 2014

  • A second roof panel has been removed from the unit #1 temporary enclosure. The roof is comprised of six such poly sheets. The first panel was taken off last month and Tepco waited to see if any radioactive dust would be released before removing the second. So far, no detectible releases have occurred. Tepco will continue monitoring for about another month now that the opening has been doubled. If nothing is detected, full-scale enclosure dismantling will begin in March. http://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/english/news/nuclear.html   Pictures of the removal of the second roof panel can be found here… http://photo.tepco.co.jp/en/date/2014/201411-e/141110-01e.html
  • American safety consultant Dale Klein praised the milestone of completing the used fuel removal from F. Daiichi unit #4. The former US Nuclear Regulatory Commission chair said, "Tepco is to be congratulated for this success. The processes used in planning for and successfully executing this complex year-long effort demonstrated that Tepco is incorporating concepts from its new safety culture into its work. As attention shifts to the other units this is not the time to become complacent, as challenges will be even greater, but I am confident that Tepco and its partners are approaching them appropriately." Tepco CEO Naomi Hirose echoed Dr. Klein’s sentiments, "This is a great achievement by our workers and the partners with whom we are collaborating.” He added, “They combined brilliant engineering with hard work to make this operation possible, and to execute it flawlessly and safely.” http://www.tepco.co.jp/en/press/corp-com/release/2014/1243876_5892.html

  • Sendai station has the required local support for restart. Kagoshima Prefectural Assembly passed a petition to resume operations and Governor Yuichiro Ito agree soon after. The Assembly’s extraordinary meeting was continually disrupted by about 200 prefecture residents, and the announcement of the petition’s passage was barely audible above the shouts of the angry audience. The protestors were loud, boisterous, and well-orchestrated. Their complaints included fears of a volcano causing another nuke accident, claims that the decision is hasty and not well-considered, the public’s feelings on the matter are being ignored, and assertions that evacuation plans are inadequate. After his approval was granted, Governor Ito said, “The plans drawn up by the central government for evacuation are concrete and logical.” Mayor Seiichi Tabata of nearby Ichikikushikino strongly disagreed with the governor, claiming that his constituency lives within the 30km emergency planning zone and their input was not sought, thus safely evacuating Ichikikushikino would not be possible. The assembly vote was not unanimous, however. One official stated, “The Sendai nuclear power plant has not been shown to be completely safe. It’s too soon to draw a conclusion.” About a dozen citizens from Fukushima Prefecture were in attendance and voiced similar dissent. One said, "The disaster taught us that there's no such thing as a safe nuclear power plant, and that humans and nuclear power can't coexist." Another dissenter complained, "We are seeing one fait accompli after another. I don't want the children and grandchildren of the future to have to pay the price."  http://www.japantoday.com/category/national/view/regional-authorities-ok-restart-of-sendai-nuclear-plant -- http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2014/11/07/national/kagoshima-assembly-oks-restart-two-sendai-reactors/#.VF0HU6N0wdV -- http://the-japan-news.com/news/article/0001702392 -- http://mainichi.jp/english/english/newsselect/news/20141107p2a00m0na021000c.html

  • Minamata disease victims also oppose the Sendai restart. The ailment has nothing to do with radiation, but is actually an effect of Mercury ingestion. The town of Minamata is about 60km north of Sendai station in Kumamoto Prefecture. An antinuclear group called “Stop restarting nuclear plants Minamata”, was formed in September by eight town residents including three with the disease. The group’s anti-Sendai complaints have been given major news coverage by the Asahi Shimbun and the Nuclear Information Resource Service. Group head Koichiro Matsunaga argued,  “If they miss the danger of nuclear plants because of economic priorities, they have not learned the lessons from Minamata disease. While human lives should take priority, the priority has been placed on corporate profits. (The government) has not learned lessons from Minamata and Fukushima.” He added that evacuation planning is insufficient and Tokyo cannot guarantee people’s security. NIRS cites a similar feeling on the part of Aileen Mioko Smith, executive director of Green Action, who says, “The Kagoshima Governor has failed to learn the lessons of Fukushima and to act to protect the interests of the people of his region.” NIRS also reports that Kumamoto Prefecture feels they should be involved in the Sendai decision, even though none of the prefecture is inside the 30km evacuation zone. Kumamoto wants the NRA to issue regulations for radiation exposure outside of 30 km and Tokyo to provide financial support for evacuees should an accident occur. The government has not responded to any of this.  http://ajw.asahi.com/article/0311disaster/fukushima/AJ201411090008 -- http://www.nirs.org/fukushima/greenactionprsendai11714.pdf

  • A Tochigi Town’s Mayor rejects Tokyo’s siting plan for the Prefecture’s rural radioactive material disposal. Shioya Mayor Kazuhisa Mikata met with other mayors and Environment Minister Yoshio Mochizuki concerning the planning process. Mikata said he opposes the planning because "The disposal facility could threaten the town's survival. ... Such waste should be treated intensively in the most contaminated areas." He wants all of the prefecture’s accumulated radioactive material taken to Fukushima Prefecture for final disposal. However, Minister Mochizuki dismissed the mayor's demand, saying, "Our idea that such waste should be disposed of in various prefectures remains unchanged. We can't place any more burden on Fukushima Prefecture." Tochigi Gov. Tomikazu Fukuda wants the highest level materials separated from wastes with the lesser activity, and also does not want the prefecture’s future facility listed as “final”. Mochizuki said the suggestion will be considered. http://mainichi.jp/english/english/newsselect/news/20141110p2a00m0na005000c.html

  • The Japan News (Yomiuri Shimbun) has posted a listing of nuke safety check status with all 13 of the nation’s stations. It seems the nukes at the top of the restart list are all Pressurized Water Reactor systems. However, Boiling Water reactor sites are included in the listing. http://the-japan-news.com/news/article/0001704865

November 6, 2014 

  • Tepco announces that all used (spent) fuel bundles have been removed from unit #4. The company plans to have the remaining 202 unused bundles transferred by the end of the year. http://www.tepco.co.jp/en/decommision/index-e.html -- http://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/english/news/20141105_02.html

  • Many governments in Japan’s 30km evacuation zones want control of restarts. Of the 155 municipalities and prefectures surveyed by the Asahi Shimbun, a significant fraction believe they should give their consent before their nukes are restarted. 123 of the surveyed do not host the nukes and currently have no power over resumption of operations. Of these, 66 (54%) said they should give their consent before restarts. On the other hand, of the 32 governments actually hosting the nukes, only three said all 30km governments should be included in consent granting and twelve believe only the host municipalities should make the decision on approval. "Only local governments hosting nuclear power plants have effective rights to give consent to the restart of reactors, which is why they have been given generous financial incentives," said Atsushi Miyawaki, of Hokkaido University, “This has created a rift between these municipalities and their neighbors. However, the Fukushima nuclear crisis demonstrated that damage from a nuclear disaster may not be confined to municipalities hosting the plants." The governor of Fukui Prefecture, which hosts four nuclear plants, said, “[The] concerned local governments are prefectures, cities and towns that host nuclear plants.” Meanwhile, the mayor of Niseko, Hokkaido, which is located within 30 km of the Tomari nuclear station, said utilities should obtain consent from all municipalities that could be affected by a nuclear accident. 39% of the surveyed groups want the government to create a binding procedure requiring nuke operators to gain restart permission from local governments. However, the mayor of Takahama said the legislation would only add an “excessive political factor” to the country’s energy policy. http://ajw.asahi.com/article/behind_news/politics/AJ201411040025

  • Japan’s government awards Kurion $10 million to demonstrate Tritium removal technology. Kurion had been competing with GE Hitachi of Canada and Russia's FSUE Radioactive Waste Management Enterprise for the job. Although Tritium is an essentially innocuous isotope of hydrogen with the weakest known Beta emission, radiophobia has made its removal from purified Fukushima wastewaters a socio-political imperative. Kurion president John Raymont said the demonstration project would begin immediately at the company's facility in Houston, Texas. Japan requires that the technology must be able to remove Tritium from water with concentrations between 0.6 and 4.2 million Becquerels per liter and process more than 400 cubic meters (tons) per day. http://www.world-nuclear-news.org/RS-Japanese-grant-for-tritium-removal-technology-0401148.html

  • Three Fukushima rice farmers want all detectible contamination removed from their properties. Though none of the three farms have produced rice with radioactive concentrations above the national limit (100 Bq/liter) for open sale, fear of detectible radiation on the part of buyers and consumers has seen their market dwindle. All three believe that if their multi-hectare rice farms had all detectibly contaminated soils removed and replaced with virgin earth, their market would recover. They filed formal requests with the damage claim resolution center in April, 2012, but were rejected by Tepco the following month. The farmers said the contamination caused “itae-itae” (it hurts-it hurts) disease, which previously has only been associated with Cadmium ingestion. A claim settlement was reached in May, 2013, covering reduced revenues. The farmers brought the case before the Fukushima District Court in October. Farmer Hiroyuki Suzuki said, "The claim for reduced revenues was an attempt to seek compensation for past damages, but if the land is not restored to its prior condition, we will have to ask for more damages every year, which means that we have no future outlook." The Claim Center refuses to comment on pending individual cases. http://mainichi.jp/english/english/features/news/20141105p2a00m0na017000c.html 

  • Taiwan has once again rattled its radiophobic sabers at Japan. The legislature’s Finance Committee ruled that all waste materials from Japan must pass through radiation checks before being accepted. The motion was filed because of a Liberty Times article saying that Kaoshing Customs had found 226 cargo containers with radiation levels above the Taiwanese limits since 3/11/11. After the nuke accident, Taiwan banned foods from 5 prefectures and conducts radiation checks on 11 types of imported foods. The new rule will take effect early next year if no objections are filed. http://fukushimaupdate.com/taiwan-to-check-waste-shipments-from-japan-for-radiation/

November 5, 2014

UPDATE ALERT

ALL F. Daiichi unit#4 used fuel safely transferred

This morning, Tepco posted that all used (spent/irradiated) fuel bundles have been safely removed from the unit #4 fuel pool. They all now reside in the ground-level pools of the common facility at Fukushima Daiichi. The remaining 202 unused (un-irradiated) bundles are expected to be transferred by the end of the year. http://www.tepco.co.jp/en/decommision/index-e.html -- http://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/english/news/20141105_02.html -- http://english.kyodonews.jp/news/2014/11/320699.html -- http://ajw.asahi.com/article/0311disaster/fukushima/AJ201411050045

November 3, 2014

  • Radiation experts appeal to international organizations over Japan’s “disastrous consequences” from using an incorrect risk model. Scientists for Accurate Radiation Information (SARI) has sent an open letter to standard-setting bodies around the world, including the IAEA, World Health Organization, and America’s Nation Academy of Sciences. The letter says, “The nuclear reactor accident at Fukushima Daiichi that followed the earthquake and tsunami in 2011 prompted well-intended measures that have had disastrous consequences. These were not caused by the radiation itself but by the social stress, the forced evacuation, and the ongoing displacement of tens of thousands of people. Both the stress and the population relocations are based on the fear of low-dose radiation that originated from the use of the linear no-threshold (LNT) model for radiation-induced cancers and its associated ‘no safe dose’ mantra.” SARI adds that the mistakes made subsequent to the Chernobyl accident in 1986 were repeated with Fukushima, causing adverse health consequences, but little discernable benefit to the affected population. SARI believes that most of the evacuated residents should have been returned home early-on, resulting in extremely low exposures that would have harmed no-one. The group asks that a firm, unconditional statement from the world’s organizations (above) should be shared with the Fukushima residents showing that repopulation would not increase their risk of cancer. Two of SARI’s esteemed members, America’s Dr. Mohan Doss and England’s Dr. Wade Allison, will be part of a conference in Tokyo on December 3rd, entitled “1st Scientific Advisory Meeting for Radiation and Accurate Information”. SARI asks that the above-mentioned “firm statement” be sent to the group, which will be subsequently conveyed to Japan by Doss and Allison. The full letter, as well as a survey asking for public opinion on the matter, can be found at https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/openlet

  • Unit #3 rubble dust did not contaminate Fukushima rice paddies. Nuclear Regulation Authority Commissioner Toyoshi Fuketa says it is unlikely that radioactive particles from the unit #3 rubble removal contaminated rice fields 20 kilometers away. In August, 2013, detectible contamination was found in the paddies, spawning Press-broadcast speculations by local residents which assumed the radioactivity was because of dust from debris removal. Last July, A Kyoto University professor made a formal claim that the rice contamination came from the debris removal based on radiation monitors they used which were nearly 50 kilometers from F. Daiichi. The Agriculture Ministry called for an NRA investigation, and the agency asked Tepco to delay disassembly of the unit #1 temporary cover to prevent the possibility of a recurrence. Although the NRA affirmed that the work stirred up 110 billion Becquerels of radioactivity, the particles were too big to be carried beyond the nuke site’s property boundaries. Fuketa suggested that the particles had an environmental impact inside the plant compound, but not beyond. He said that the rice paddy contamination may have come from river and/or well water. The NRA is considering the potential for radioactive dust dispersal during debris removal, nonetheless. Not to let the issue rest, the Asahi Shimbun found someone who disagreed with Fuketa, saying it is unlikely that factors other than debris cleanup could have caused the detected level of contamination at the rice farms. Nonetheless, Tepco and Tokyo over-reaction to initial speculations has caused a lengthy delay in the necessary removal of debris from unit #1. http://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/english/news/nuclear.html -- http://ajw.asahi.com/article/0311disaster/fukushima/AJ201411010037

  • Tepco has removed one of the six large plastic covers that comprise the unit #1 enclosure roof. It occurred without incident on Friday. None of the surrounding radiation monitors showed an increase. The removed cover will stay off for a month to see if any radioactive material will be dispersed. Then it will be re-installed for the winter. Tepco will not remove all six sections of the roof until March. Tepco initially planned to begin removing it by the end of last March, but the company delayed the schedule after local residents and a few researchers voiced concern that debris removal with unit #3 in 2013 may have contaminated nearby rice crops. http://mainichi.jp/english/english/newsselect/news/20141031p2g00m0dm064000c.html For images of the removal of the roof section, see http://photo.tepco.co.jp/en/date/2014/201410-e/141031-01e.html

  • Former PM Koizumi continues his antinuclear crusade. In the wake of Japan’s recent problems with bringing solar and wind-powered electricity into the grid (due to inherent oscillations in output), Koizumi rejected utility claims of being unable to insure the fluctuations will not cause grid problems. He said that with sufficient government support, these difficulties could be overcome. He added that if governments around the world would make the commitment, renewables could soon replace nuclear energy. Koizumi also attacked the situation at F. Daiichi over the recently delayed timetable for de-fueling unit #1, pointing to a history of human errors and technical failures that began on 3/11/11. http://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/english/news/20141102_05.html

  • The 233rd edition of the Carnival of Nuclear Energy bloggers, has been posted at Brian Wang’s Next Big Future site. This edition includes posts by Rod Adams, Dan Yurman, Meredith Angwin, Jim Conca, Brian Wang, Rick Maltese, Jim Hopf, and myself. http://nextbigfuture.com/2014/11/carnival-of-nuclear-energy-233.html

October 30, 2014

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

October 27, 2014

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

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

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

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

  • A volcano 64 kilometers from Sendai Station shows increased underground activity. A public warning has been issued to keep sight-seers away from the summit. Mount Ioyama is experiencing small, but continuing tremors. One meteorological official said, “There is an increase in activity that under certain circumstances could even lead to a small scale erup

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