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

There are regularly-updated pages on this site concerning popular Fukushima issues, such as  Fukushima Evacuee Compensation Payments (updated monthly)!

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January 24, 2020

The latest monthly data on Fukushima evacuee compensation has been posted. https://www.hiroshimasyndrome.com/fukushima-evacuee-compensation-payments.html

  • The 2020 Olympic Torch relay will include Futaba. While the entire town is currently under a Tokyo-mandated evacuation order, part of it is scheduled to be re-opened on March 4th. This will be well-before the ceremonial relay of the Olympic Flame begins from the Fukushima J-Village on March 26th. The route was formally approved by Fukushima’s torch relay committee on Wednesday. The route will pass through 25 Fukushima municipalities before it leaves the prefecture to traverse the other 46 prefectures of the island nation, culminating in Tokyo’s new Olympic stadium. Fukushima governor Masao Uchibori said that adding Futaba Town to the route sends a strong positive message to people inside and outside Japan. Both of F. Daiichi’s host towns -- Futaba and Okuma -- will now be part of the pre-Olympic mega-marathon of relays for the torch. The Olympic torch will arrive in Japan March 20th in Ishinomaki, and pass through Miyagi and Iwate Prefectures by train before arriving at the J-Village. https://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/en/news/20200123_31/ -- https://jen.jiji.com/jc/eng?g=eco&k=2020012300706 -- https://mainichi.jp/english/articles/20200118/p2g/00m/0sp/034000c
  • On January 17th, Tokyo decided to lift evacuation orders for parts Futaba, Okuma, and Tomioka Towns. This marks the first time lifting restrictions for any part of Futaba has been considered. It will positively affect 229 former residents in 75 households, and the new JR Joban train station. The Futaba restrictions will cease on March 4th, while sections of Okuma and Tomioka will experience the same on March 5th and 10th, respectively. Minister Kazunori Tanaka of the Reconstruction Agency said that this is a major step forward for Fukushima reconstruction and serves to refute unfounded rumors. https://www.jaif.or.jp/en/evacuation-orders-for-futaba-okuma-tomioka-towns-to-be-partially-lifted-in-march-with-jr-joban-line-to-be-completely-reopened-for-service/
  • 10 kilograms of Fukushima’s specialty persimmons have been shipped to the United Arab Emirates. This is the first export of the fruit outside Japan since the March 2011 nuke accident. The dried fruit is considered a favorite in the UAE. The Japan Agricultural Cooperatives and Fukushima government hopes this will be a stepping stone for other Middle Eastern markets. Additionally, several hundred kilograms of the “ampo-gaki” fruit is planned to be shipped to Thailand this winter. 1,231 tons of ampo-gaki were shipped from the Prefecture in 2010. The crop totaled 930 tons in 2018. http://www.fukushimaminponews.com/news.html?id=987
  • A Fukushima farming couple hopes to spur prefectural recovery with milk from Jersey cattle. Their farm is in Samegawa Village, some 100 kilometers from F. Daiichi. But, its reputation has been stigmatized because it is located in Fukushima Prefecture. The Jerseys are from a breed specific to the British Channel Islands and are known for a high-quality milk rich in crème. The farm is run by Daisuke and Nana Shimizu Daisuke says, "We want to be a symbol, a model, for children...who want to try their hand at dairy farming or agriculture." Jersey milk is considered a specialty since 99% of Japan’s milk comes from Holsteins. https://japantoday.com/category/national/feature-couple-dreams-of-revitalizing-fukushima-with-jersey-milk
  • The IAEA focuses on the importance of the NRA’s nuclear energy communication. On January 21, an eight-day mission by the Integrated Regulatory Review Service (IRRS), a team of experts sent by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), ended. Team leader Ramsey Jamal, vice president of the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission (CNSC), said Japan has made “quite significant improvement” in nuclear safety since the last IRRS visit, four years ago. One area stressed was improving training for regulatory inspectors and facilitating access to nuclear stations. However, Jamal added, “Although the independence of the regulatory body (i.e. the Nuclear Regulation Authority) should never be impaired, its communication with the industry contributes to nuclear safety” and could be improved. NRA Chairman Toyoshi Fuketa thanked the IRRS and said,  “…neglecting continuous improvement would never be allowed.” https://www.jaif.or.jp/en/finishing-mission-in-japan-iaeas-irrs-points-out-importance-of-nras-communicating-with-nuclear-industry/
  • Tepco expands its 40 years estimate for F. Daiichi decommissioning to 44 years. The revised schedule has four stages:  10 years for the first stage, 12 years for the second stage and 11 years each for the third and fourth stages. The first stage will focus on surveying radioactive contamination, the second on clearing equipment around the four damaged units, the third on the removal of the reactors, and the fourth on demolishing the reactor buildings. Tepco will submit its new plans to the Nuclear Regulation Authority after getting approval from the municipal governments of Tomioka and Naraha, as well as the Fukushima Prefectural Government. https://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2020/01/23/national/tepco-fukushima-decommissioning/#.Xinx9DJKiUl
  • The head of the NRA defends its safety assessment of Ikata nuclear station, despite the recent Hiroshima High Court ruling that ordered closure of fully operational unit #3. The court said the unit’s operation poses an undue danger to local residents, and the NRA underestimated the impact of the eruption of a volcano some 130 kilometers away. It also said the presence of a fault line near Ikata needed more attention. NRA Chairman Toyoshi Fuketa defended the conclusions of the Ikata unit #3 safety assessment, but said he has no intention of interfering with the court's decision. https://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/en/news/20200123_13/

January 17, 2020

  • Tepco will increase the F. Daiichi staff to enhance station decommissioning. The company says the added manpower should preclude series of minor mistakes and related problems that occurred in 2019. Misconnected power lines caused a minor fire at the undamaged units #5 & #6 in June, and mechanical issues have delayed the removal of used fuel bundles from unit #3. Tepco feels these things happened due to a lack of human oversight. Adding another 90 persons to the existing workforce of about 1,000 is believed to be the solution. https://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/en/news/20200116_35/
  • Tepco believes some of the F. Daiichi ice wall coolant is leaking into the ground. The ice wall around the four damaged units at F. Daiichi has been satisfactorily retarding groundwater influx for four years. About a month ago, the amount of refrigerant in the system began to drop. It has been discovered that supply piping may well be leaking at three locations. More than 20,000 liters has leaked out, but the integrity of the wall itself has not been compromised. https://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/en/news/20200117_10/
  • Tohoku region sea species struggle to recover from the 2011 tsunami, but their survival might be doomed. Biologist Osama Miura of Kochi University has studied the mudflats of Sendai Bay since 2006. When he returned after the tsunami, he was shocked at the destruction. Many of his study sites had vanished. He had studied the population of sea snails and their parasites. The snails began to return a year after the giant waves had struck, but their parasites took much longer to return. The fundamental health of the marine ecosystem can be determined by the abundance of trematodes… one of Biologist Omura’s parasites. Kevin Lafferty, a marine ecologist for the US Geological Survey says that trematodes are a useful indicator of food web integrity, “Host diversity begets parasite diversity because host diversity provides opportunities for a variety of life cycles to be completed.” The researcher’s studies show that the Bay is recovering, but ever so slowly. Now, the ecosystem is being threatened with an anti-tsunami wall. Miura laments, “I don’t like the destruction of nature, but on the other hand the people here also need protection, so it’s complicated.” https://www.hakaimagazine.com/news/japans-wildlife-is-still-reeling-from-the-2011-earthquake-and-tsunami/?fbclid=IwAR3Ep7ckhwvCkTw1v78tESQ-aC5G5_wgWD2AqGenvilpf4T07VChjGrqrhg
  • A used MOX fuel bundle has been removed from a Japanese reactor for the first time. MOX fuel is a mixture of fresh uranium and recycled reactor-grade plutonium. The bundle is one of 16 MOX bundles to be removed from Ikata unit #3 during its current refueling and maintenance outage. Although the refueling of reactors with MOX bundles is actually quite common around the world, this is the first ever for Japan, and the largely antinuclear Press is trying to make it newsworthy. Actually, it is much ado about nothing! Why? It may have been because another fuel bundle was removed along with its control rod…a definite no-no.  https://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/en/news/20200114_32/ -- https://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/en/news/20200114_32/ -- https://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2020/01/13/national/control-rod-mistakenly-removed-reactor-ikata-nuclear-power-plant-shikoku-electric/?fbclid=IwAR2XQ_mYQgFUGKihVZ5UhYA7nZNXur4tXnvlkktzuUiIcjocpbvImuK-DlQ#.XiEjyv5KiUn
  • The Hiroshima High Court has once again barred Ikata #3 from operating. The court issued an estoppel order to bar restarting the unit in 2017, but it was reversed on an appeal by Shikoku Electric Co. to the same court in 2018. Three residents living on an island about 50 kilometers away appeal through the Iwakuni branch of the Yamaguchi District Court was rejected in March 2019, but the Hiroshima High Court has invoke yet another legal reversal! Plaintiff’s lawyer Satoru Nakamura said, "It would not be an exaggeration to say that this is a sweeping victory.”  Presiding Judge Kazutake Mori explained the new ruling "Research on the active fault is insufficient and the Nuclear Regulation Authority's judgment that it is not a problem is incorrect. (Shikoku Electric) needs to also take into account less than catastrophic eruptions at the caldera of Mt. Aso.” (The 2018 and 2019 rulings verified that the safety considerations based on a worst case eruption were more than adequate.) Shikoku Electric’s response is, "The ruling is deeply regrettable and not one we can possibly accept”, and that they will immediately appeal. Industry minister Hiroshi Kajiyama added, "There is no change to the government's policy of reactivating" reactors that meet the new safety standards. Ikata Mayor  Kiyohiko Takakado said, he has “no choice but to accept (the ruling)”, yet expressed doubt about the immediate future of Ikata #3. https://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/en/news/20200117_28/ -- https://english.kyodonews.net/news/2020/01/d6cc992bcefd-update2-high-court-orders-shikoku-electric-to-halt-ehime-nuclear-reactor.html -- http://www.asahi.com/ajw/articles/AJ202001170057.html  (All major news outlets covered this today. The few referenced here are representative of the whole.)
  • The total cost to implement post-Fukushima accident nuclear safety measures is estimated at $123 billion. The estimate has come from financial documents supplied by Japan’s 11 power companies that own 57 nuclear units that could be operated. So far, about $50 billion has been invested in the 15 units currently approved by Tokyo for operation. Another nearly $8 billion is estimated to decommission those units that the utilities believe would be too costly to upgrade for restart. These estimates do not include the costs of decommissioning the six units at F. Daiichi units #1 through #4.   https://english.kyodonews.net/news/2020/01/8722fafaff9b-costs-for-managing-japans-nuclear-plants-to-total-13-trillion-yen.html

January 10, 2020

  • The Fukushima evacuation zone is teeming with wildlife. Specifically, wild boar, foxes, macaques, raccoon dogs and rabbits. A study published in the Journal of Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment by University of Georgia researchers shows wild animals have taken over. More than 100 cameras in three general zones, both inside and outside the “forbidden” areas. Georgia biologist James Beasley says, "Our results represent the first evidence that numerous species of wildlife are now abundant throughout the Fukushima Evacuation Zone, despite the presence of radiological contamination." Co-author Thomas Hinton of Fukiushima University echoed, "Based on these analyses, our results show that level of human activity, elevation and habitat type were the primary factors influencing the abundance of the species evaluated, rather than radiation levels." https://www.cnet.com/news/fukushima-nuclear-disaster-evacuation-zone-now-teems-with-wildlife/?fbclid=IwAR1NUyxCykfC99wPc_9flTzTgAwRpDrZvJfVrUOqxcHUPTdNPmZ2KSz7Z50 -- https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2020/01/200106124336.htm 
  • The Philippeans have relaxed restrictions on Japanese food imports. The island nation has eliminated the need for radiation test results for types of seafood and agricultural products from Fukushima and surrounding areas. Japan’s Foreign Secretary Toshimitsu Motegi said, "I look forward to safe Japanese food reaching many of the people of the Philippines." After the 2011 nuke accident, 54 countries invoked restrictions on Japanese food imports due to the possibility of accident-based contamination. With the Philippeans announcement, the number of countries still maintaining constraints is down to 20, which includes the United States. https://mainichi.jp/english/articles/20200109/p2g/00m/0bu/084000c
  • The November data for contamination in fish taken within 20km of F. Daiichi has been posted. None of the 69caught outside the F. Daiichi port breakwall had detectible Cesium-134… the “fingerprint” isotope for the nuke accident. Only four of them had barely detectible levels of the Cesium-137 isotope, which is probably due to residuals from nuke weapons tests after World War II. Eight fish were taken from inside the port breakwall, and two showed detectible Cs-134. One of them had a total Cesium radioactive concentration higher than the Japanese standard of 100 Becquerels per kilogram. https://www7.tepco.co.jp/wp-content/uploads/handouts_191225_01-e.pdf -- https://www7.tepco.co.jp/wp-content/uploads/handouts_191225_02-e.pdf
  • Japan’s Nuclear Regulation Authority is accused of possibly violating Japanese Law. The NRA’s closed-door pre-hearing concerning Kansai Electric Company in 2018 may have usurped Japan’s Public Records and Archive Management Act. Minutes of the meeting were not recorded and all documents distributed to participants were destroyed. A related proposal was made public less than a week later, without reference to the earlier meeting in question. The Mainichi Shimbun, infamously for being openly antinuclear, says it has come across a copy of the pre-hearing agenda.  In response to the Mainichi allegation, an NRA representative said, "It was a brainstorming session in which participants spoke freely about the issues and their views, and in which no conclusion was drawn. The session does not correspond to a decision-making process as defined in the Public Records and Archives Management Act." It seems the news outlet isn’t buying it! https://mainichi.jp/english/articles/20200104/p2a/00m/0na/013000c
  • Kansai Electric capitulates to NRA pressure to close two operating nukes later this year. Units #3 & #4 at Takahama Station, Fukui Prefecture, will be taken off line in August and October, respectively, because their NRA-mandated anti-terrorist facilities will not be finished by then. This is the second nuke utility to plan shutting down perfectly safe nukes because of not being able to meet NRA anti-terrorist facility deadlines. The other two are located at Kyushu Electric’s Sendai Station. https://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/en/news/20200107_06/

January 3, 2020

  • The Tokyo Education Ministry is surveying the need for radiation education in schools. Indications suggest that the need to teach the subject is waning! The subject of radiation had not been included in science classes at the junior high school level for about 30 years, prior to the 2011 nuke accident. Almost immediately, the number of schools teaching about radiation literally sky-rocketed. Fukushima University Professor Katsuhiko Yamaguchi says efforts to teach children about radiation have been declined over the past few years. The ministry will canvas some 4,500 schools to compile the data specific to need. https://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/en/news/20191229_04/
  • Japan hopes Chinese President Xi Jinping’s upcoming visit will ease the ban on Japanese food. Currently, bans on agricultural, forestry, fish, and other food products from some Japanese prefectures continue unabated. The stated reason is possible F. Daiichi accident contamination. Statistics show that only 0.1% of all these products have failed Japan’s extremely low standrds since 2015!

December 27, 2019

  • Actual monitoring of radioactive Cesium in the environment shows theoretical models overestimate effective half-life. Theoretical modeling does not account for the mitigating impact of either wind and water erosion, or soil sedimentation on the ground. Thirty-five monitors recorded radioactivity levels in Fukushima Prefecture from April 2012 through December 2018, showing that the actual half-life for the Cesium isotopes remaining in the effective environment is less than half of what the theoretical models predicted. (The abstract of the study is freely available. The full report is behind a pay wall… https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/31703017)
  • Tokyo reduces the number of ways to safely dispose of stored, treated F. Daiichi wastewater down to three. On December 23rd, an Agency for Natural Resources and Energy (ANRE) committee presented the three most reasonable scenarios, all of which involve environmental release… Off-shore release to the sea, “vapor” release, and/or a combination of the two. Scientific analysis has shown that if the more than 1million tons of the purified water is disposed in any of these fashions, general radiation exposures will be 1/1000 of natural background for Japan. These figures were gleaned from an evaluation by the United Nations Scientific Committee on the Effects of Atomic Radiation (UNSCEAR). Other disposal methods were largely hypothetical and dropped from the list of possibilities. Japan’s government and the largely radiophobia-oriented Press cater to ungrounded fears and rumors that the fishing industry believes will ruin their business. The problem is the existence of biologically-innocuous Tritium… a weakly radioactive isotope of hydrogen included in the water molecules of the waste liquids. (See “Background Information on Tritium”, on this website… https://www.hiroshimasyndrome.com/background-information-on-tritium.html) Attempts by Tokyo and Japan’s nuclear industry have been unable to quell the rampant paranoia. The Industry Ministry will use the ANRE report as a basis for an final decision on disposal. The international Press has used the announcement to allege that the release will be worse than reported, fueling antinuclear sentiment around the world. https://www.jaif.or.jp/en/anre-committee-clarifies-options-for-treated-contaminated-water-at-fukushima-daiichi-npps-viewing-both-offshore-and-vapor-release-favorably/ -- https://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/en/news/20191223_18/ -- https://japantoday.com/category/national/japan-gov't-proposes-fukushima-water-release-to-sea-or-air -- https://www.nytimes.com/2019/12/23/world/asia/japan-fukushima-nuclear-water.html
  • F. Daiichi unit #1’s stored nuclear fuel bundles will be transferred to the onsite spent fuel storage facility after the cover over the damaged building is completed. There are currently 292 used (spent) bundles and 100 unused stored in the unit’s Spent Fuel Pool (SFP). Tepco and Tokyo agree that the least problematic approach to transferring the bundles is completing the massive cover over the upper portion of the Reactor Building. President Akira Ono of the Fukushima Daiichi Decontamination & Decommissioning Engineering Company said, “As residents are increasingly returning to their homes in Okuma, the debris removal will be carried out even more carefully.” He also addressed the plans for removal of the fuel debris for unit #2, but the announcement of the unit #1 enclosure dominated popular Press coverage. https://www.jaif.or.jp/en/fuel-removal-from-fukushima-daiichi-1-npp-large-cover-to-be-installed-first/
  • Tokyo announced that removing fuel bundles from F. Daiichi units #1 and #2 will be delayed. After reviewing the decommissioning timetable for the first time in two years, it was decided that bundle removal for unit #2 will begin no sooner than 2024, and unit #1 no sooner than 2027. The start dates have been moved back due to concerns about the spreading of radioactive dust during the fuel bundle transfers to on site ground-level storage. Why they are concerned about dust dispersal from unit #2 is a mystery, considering there was no hydrogen explosion and the reactor building is essentially undamaged!  https://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/en/news/20191227_15/ -- https://jen.jiji.com/jc/eng?g=eco&k=2019122700337
  • The Nuclear Regulation Authority inspected the interior of F. Daiichi unit #3 on December 12Th.The event was captured on video, but was not shown to the Press until today (the 27th). The team entered on the ground floor and progressed up through the third floor. They could get no further because the stairway up to the fourth floor was destroyed by the hydrogen explosion of March 14, 2011. The highest radiation level found by the NRA team was 150 millisieverts per hour. They observed considerable severe damage to the building’s beams and air ducts, which seemed to surprise none of the team. https://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/en/news/20191227_02/ -- http://www.asahi.com/ajw/articles/AJ201912270035.html
  • Used Mixed Oxide (MOX) fuel bundles will be removed during the Ikata unit #3 refueling, and the Press treats it as newsworthy! Ikata #3 was shut down yesterday for a refueling and maintenance outage. 37 used fuel bundles will be removed from the vessel beginning in January, and 16 of the spent bundles are MOX. Five new MOX bundles will be among those replacing the used bundles. The only reason this reporter can envision for the Press coverage is because MOX contains recycled Plutonium-239 in the fuel matrix, and this is the first time any such fuel has been used to the point of needing replacement since Japan began including MOX bundles in 2010. Once again, Japan’s Press caters to unfounded fears concerning nuclear energy. https://mainichi.jp/english/articles/20191226/p2g/00m/0dm/038000c
  • Blanket radio-isotopic scanning of Fukushima beef will soon end. Instead, there will be random sampling of beef from cattle born within the last six years. Why? Because detailed scanning of beef has shown nothing detectible for more than six years! At least one animal will be checked per year for each farm not inside of "difficult-to-return" zones (where detectible contamination is considered possible). The decision will be formally approved next month. Japan’s limit for radioactivity in beef is 500 Becquerels per kilogram of meat. Regardless of the facts, 46% of the consumers want some form of testing. A meat distribution official said, “It seems that many consumers only trust products that have passed inspections." http://www.asahi.com/ajw/articles/AJ201912240049.html

December 20, 2019

The most recent pay-out figures have been posted here... https://www.hiroshimasyndrome.com/fukushima-evacuee-compensation-payments.html

  • The evacuation order for Futaba is on the verge of being partially lifted. National and local officials will make a final decision next week. In addition to Futaba’s order being partially lifted, two areas near train stations in Tomioka’s Yomiuri District will also be re-opened at the same time. Tomioka Mayor Koichi Miyamoto said, "We'd like many people to visit our town safely. We'll do our best to achieve the goal of lifting evacuation orders in all of the places designated as 'difficult-to-return' zones." The total area affected by this change will be only 4% in Futaba Town, but Tokyo and Fukushima Prefecture have long pointed to it as key to local revitalization because of critically-located train stations on the Joban Line. One caveat is that former residents of the Hamano and Morotake districts may have to wait until 2022 to be allowed to repopulate because of planned water supply upgrades. Now, all eleven municipalities that had Tokyo-mandated evacuations have had at least a portion of the restriction relaxed. Seven of them still have portions with off-limits restrictions in-place. https://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/en/news/20191220_26/ -- https://mainichi.jp/english/articles/20191220/p2a/00m/0na/018000c -- http://www.asahi.com/ajw/articles/AJ201912200060.html -- https://jen.jiji.com/jc/eng?g=eco&k=2019122000621
  • Tepco has decided to encase the demolished upper portion of reactor building No. 1 at F. Daiichi. The dimensions will be 65 meters high, with a length of 65 meters and a width of 50 meters. This means that all reactor buildings of units #1 through #4 will be totally encased for the full tenure of decommissioning. In addition to virtually eliminating the possibility of scattering dust during decommissioning work, it will also greatly reduce the influx of rainwater into the remaining lower portion of the structure. Thus, the build-up of contaminated waste water will be lowered. https://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/en/news/20191220_12/
  • Tepco stopped the removal of the upper half of F. Daiichi exhaust chimney #1 on Sunday, and then restarted the work on Monday. It was decided to remove the upper 60 meters of the internally-contaminated stack for units #1&#2 back in August, but so far only about 9 meters of it has been cut off. The reason for the stoppage was reported as faster–than-expected wear on the blade of the removal saw. The Nuclear Regulation Authority advised Tepco to improve its cutting methods and procedures, then resume working. Resumption occurred on Monday. The NRA cautioned that more problems could happen because this is the first time a chimney of this height has been demolished. https://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/en/news/20191216_10/ -- https://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/en/news/20191216_35/
  • Yamagata District Court orders Tepco to pay additional damages to five re-located plaintiffs. Originally, 734 evacuees who fled from outside Tokyo’s mandated evacuation zones had sued Tepco for about $73 million in damages. But, the court reduced the company’s outlay to about $4,000. In addition, the Tokyo government was absolved of liability. Presiding Judge Nobuyuki Kaihara said, "The consolation money sought does not exceed what they have already been paid by Tokyo Electric," and “there was a limit” on the degree of damage caused by the March, 2011 tsunami. Further, the court said, "we cannot conclude that the company committed gross negligence. Practically speaking, it is difficult to say that the firm could have implemented rational controls (at the plant) to prevent an accident." The head of the plaintiff’s legal team said, “The ruling was a result that betrayed our expectations”. An appeal is anticipated.  https://mainichi.jp/english/articles/20191218/p2a/00m/0na/006000c


December 13, 2019

  • An appeal for a Bikini H-bomb “survivors” lawsuit is dismissed! Takamatsu High Court has upheld a lower court ruling that rejected a claim by former Japanese tuna fishermen and their relatives for compensation over the 1954 Bikini Atoll hydrogen bomb tests. 29 plaintiffs demanded about $400,000 for Tokyo allegedly hiding radiation exposure records. Takamatsu High Court Presiding Judge Takahisa Masuda said, "It's unrecognizable that the government decided to hide the records and maintained its intention." In other words, there is no evidence to support the contention of the suit. (While not a Fukushima item, the decision could affect future Fukushima “survivor” claims.) https://jen.jiji.com/jc/eng?g=eco&k=2019121201116
  • Tokyo starts to dismantle the former Fukushima Prefecture Nuclear Emergency Response Center in Okuma. Located 5 kilometers from F. Daiichi, some 100 local officials gathered there for four days to plan and coordinate efforts to mitigate the nuclear crisis. However, the facility was found to be insufficiently hardened against the influx of atmospheric radioactivity and had to be abandoned. It has sat empty and desolate ever since. Though it sits within an existing evacuation zone, Tokyo decided to demolish the structure anyway. The order is expected to end in the spring of 2022. The building has represented the poor planning for a severe nuke accident for nearly nine years, but is being razed as part of Okuma being designated a local revitalization base area. http://www.fukushimaminponews.com/news.html?id=983
  • Evacuees from the F. Daiichi host towns doubt the decommissioning time table. More than two dozen residents of Okuma and Futaba attended a Tepco/Industry Ministry tour of the nuke station last weekend. After the tour, several people said the 40-year timeline for decommissioning seemed to be little more than wishful thinking. Others complained that the station is a technological burden they don’t want to leave to their descendants. The event was intended to dispel false rumors, but the result was disappointing. http://www.fukushimaminponews.com/news.html?id=984
  • An International Forum on Peaceful Use of Nuclear Energy was held on Tokyo. The event was held on December 4th, sponsored by the Japan Atomic Energy Agency. Panel discussions with domestic and foreign experts highlighted the one-day session. Topics included future challenges and possible measures for improving nonproliferation and security. The meeting was actually caused by Japan’s national concern with respect to nuclear terrorism. The first panel had Kenichi Tsuchiya of the National Research Institute for Police Science give two examples of “nuclear terrorism” possibly directed at large-scale public events: dirty bombs and silent source attacks (not using explosives). Also in the first panel, Roger Howsley of the World Institute for Nuclear Security emphasized the importance of “effective resource distribution” and “cooperation beyond national borders.” The second session featured four international experts. Topics included international framework for response, having sufficient human resources to combat nuclear terrorism, and the need for objective education to prevent unreasonable public panic. https://www.jaif.or.jp/en/jaea-holds-international-forum-on-peaceful-use-of-nuclear-energy-nuclear-non-proliferation-and-nuclear-security/

December 6, 2019

  • F. Daiichi corium removal is scheduled to begin with unit #2 in late 2021. Corium is the resolidified mixture of nuclear fuel and other in-core metals that are liquefied during a meltdown. The Tokyo task force on decommissioning made the announcement on Monday. It was based on the findings of the government’s Nuclear Damage Compensation and Decommissioning Facilitation Corporation. The major reason for choosing to start with unit #2 is that it did not have a cataclysmic explosion, thus conditions internal to the still-intact reactor building are better understood than with the three units that did have hydrogen blasts which compromised structural integrity. Also, robotic inspection of the corium debris bed shows it to be pebble-like, which will facilitate scooping it up for removal. The physical condition of the corium beds in the other two units is speculative. Further, unit #2 internal radiation levels are considerably lower than units #1 & #3, making it easier to establish a confident corium removal schedule. In addition, the taskforce said the removal of fuel bundles from unit #3 Spent Fuel Pool is steadily proceeding and should be completed in March, 2021. SFP removal should begin with units #1 & #2 in 2023. All Fuel bundles from Unit #4 have been removed from the SFP and safely stored in ground-level casks. https://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/en/news/20191202_13/ -- https://japantoday.com/category/national/fukushima-melted-fuel-removal-begins-2021-end-state-unknown -- https://jen.jiji.com/jc/eng?g=eco&k=2019120200199 -- http://www.asahi.com/ajw/articles/AJ201912020055.html
  • None of the 77 fish taken within 20 kilometers of F. Daiichi had more than national standard internal contamination. The limit is 100 Becquerels per Kilogram of total radioactive Cesium. None of the 72 fish caught outside the F. Daiichi port breakwall contained any detectible Cesium 134… the so-called fingerprint isotope for accident-released radioactivity. Only 2 of the five taken from inside the breakwall contained barely detectible amounts of the CS-134 isotope. https://www7.tepco.co.jp/wp-content/uploads/handouts_191125_03-e.pdf -- https://www7.tepco.co.jp/wp-content/uploads/handouts_191125_04-e.pdf
  • Tepco has posted pictures of the dismantling of the upper portion of the F. Daiichi units #1&#2 exhaust stack. The stack was damaged by the unit #1 hydrogen explosion and had to be removed for worker safety considerations. The inside of the stack is heavily contaminated, so workers must wear full anti-contamination garb with facemasks. https://photo.tepco.co.jp/en/date/2019-e/201912-e/191203-01e.html -- https://photo.tepco.co.jp/en/date/2019-e/201912-e/191204-01e.html
  • On Wednesday, Greenpeace reported finding “hot spots” in Fukushima’s J-Village. Specifically, in a parking lot near the starting point of the Olympic torch relay starting point. The Greenpeace readings were from October 26th. Though the environmental activist group said they reported it to Tokyo, but had received no response. To the contrary, the Environment Ministry says the location has been decontaminated following the Greenpeace alert! After the “alert”, Tokyo had Tepco survey the location and found a radiation level of 1.8 microsieverts per hour (mSv/hr) at one meter above the ground. This is one-half Japan’s limit for rate of exposure which allows human occupancy. Regardless, Tepco performed decontamination procedures, reducing the level down to 0.44 mSv/hr. However, Greenpeace doesn’t believe Tepco and wants fresh readings and continued clean-up efforts. Greenpeace says they will soon return to the J-Village to “determine if subsequent decontamination attempts have been adequately conducted.” https://japantoday.com/category/national/radiation-'hot-spots'-near-olympic-torch-relay-in-fukushima-greenpeace --  https://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/en/news/20191205_18/ -- https://in.reuters.com/article/olympics-2020-radiation/radiation-hot-spots-found-at-tokyo-2020-torch-relay-start-greenpeace-idINKBN1Y80TT
  • Another successful nuclear evacuation drill occurs in southwestern Japan. The accident scenario centered on Genkai unit #4. About 18,000 people live on 17 remote islands within 30 kilometers of the unit. Hypothetically, a worst-case accident could compel Tokyo to mandate evacuation of all islanders. In this drill, an Ise helicopter destroyer of the Maritime Self Defense Force participated, evacuating volunteers from and island in Karatsu. https://jen.jiji.com/jc/eng?g=eco&k=2019113000331
  • Industry Minister Hiroshi Kajiyama says Japan will continue using coal-fired (thermal) power plants. They will do this to minimize the need to restart and operate perfectly good nuclear units. Kajiyama explained this will necessitate Japan continuing use of pollution-producing coal gas, and oil burning units, as well as developing new alternatives. This despite the United Nation’s Environment Programme urging Japan to halt the construction of new coal-fired power plants, in its most-recent report. https://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/en/news/20191203_31/

November 29, 2019

  • Onagawa unit #2 is approved for restart by the NRA (Nuclear Regulation Authority). Onagawa station is the nuke in closest proximity to the epicenter of 2011 earthquake. It is the second Boiling Water Reactor design to be approved by the NRA, behind Tokai unit #2. Because Onagawa #2 is a BWR and located nearest the 2011 quake’s epicenter (~100 kilometers), the NRA has been exceedingly cautious about restart permission, even though the 2011 natural calamity resulted in essentially no damage to the 3 systems at the station. The station was hit by a 13-meter tsunami in March 2011, but it had been built nearly 15 meters above sea level and was not inundated with seawater. Regardless, a hypothetical tsunami of 23 meters is considered to be possible, so a massive seawall of 29 meters has been constructed, surrounding the station. In addition, extraordinary testing has been done to predict the worst-case quake for the local geology. Now that the regulatory hurdle has been surmounted, the regulator will solicit opinions from the local public. The governor of Miyagi Prefecture, Yoshihiro Murai, says he believes the NRA made a very strict assessment, but has stopped short in extending his official permission for restart. He is awaiting the findings of a local safety panel and the inputs provided by the NRA solicitation of local opinions before making his final decision. https://www.jaif.or.jp/en/nra-issues-draft-review-report-onagawa-2-meets-new-regulatory-standards/ -- https://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/en/news/20191127_22/ -- https://english.kyodonews.net/news/2019/11/7c1757918eaf-nuclear-watchdog-approves-restart-of-reactor-hit-by-2011-tsunami.html -- http://www.asahi.com/ajw/articles/AJ201911270077.html -- https://the-japan-news.com/news/article/0006191887?fp=95dfb4f0b9d54faef90ba40e59569102 -- https://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/en/news/20191127_38/
  • The Reconstruction Agency announces that Fukushima’s Nakodori Innovation coastline will be home to several global industry-academia-government cooperation bases. Three reasons for the plan are (1) Nakadori's reconstruction is the responsibility of the Tokyo government, (2) it is the responsibility of Japan to share lessons learned from the Fukushima accident to the world at-large, and (3) similar nuclear energy-related facilities abroad are state-run entities (e.g. Chernobyl in the Ukraine and Hanford in the United States). This Tokyo-run institution will focus on remote control of robots used in decommissioning nuclear reactors and nurturing specialists who study radiation. The Innovation Coast initiative is a national project under the Act on Special Measures for the Reconstruction and Revitalization of Fukushima. http://www.fukushimaminponews.com/news.html?id=981
  • Japan’s nuke restarts have measurably reduced the nation’s CO2 emissions. Japan’s emissions fell 9.9 percent over the five-year period that started in FY13. Sector-by-sector reductions have been 2.5% in industrial, 3% in energy production, 6.5 % in business, and 16% in transportation. While not all reductions can be attributed to nuke restarts, there is no doubt that they were a major contributor. The data was compiled and released by the Japan Business Federation. https://www.jaif.or.jp/en/keidanren-japans-commitment-to-low-carbon-society-shows-npp-restarts-helped-reduce-co2-emissions-in-fiscal-2018/
  • Nuclear-naive Pope Francis wants to abolish nuclear energy. While visiting Japan this week, the Pope called for japan to break free of its nuclear reliance. He cited concern for future generations as his main reason, “As we think about the future of our common home, we need to realize that we cannot make purely selfish decisions and that we have a great responsibility to future generations”. He added, “Important decisions will have to be made about the use of natural resources, and future energy sources in particular.” He dubbed the 2011 natural calamity a “triple disaster”, then lamented, “Our first word will be one of prayer for the more than 18,000 people who lost their lives, for their families and for those who are still missing, Some of those who lived in the affected areas now feel forgotten by others, and many must face ongoing problems: contaminated land and forests and the long-term effects of radiation.” He believes the abolition of nukes would be sensible! http://www.asahi.com/ajw/articles/AJ201911250073.html -- http://www.asahi.com/ajw/articles/AJ201911250073.html
  • Tepco speculates that rainwater from an F. Daiichi exhaust stack may be leaking into the groundwater. A 120 meter chimney was contaminated by the March 2011 radioactive releases. Rainwater collected inside the chimney has been ducted to a “box” and held there until it fills sufficiently to cause automatic transfer to wastewater storage tanks. But, water level inside the “box” has been dropping without the automatic transfer. Tepco suspects that the box may have developed holes, allowing some of the contaminated rainwater to leak out. https://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/en/news/20191128_13/
  • The NRA says the March 2011attempt to depressurize the F. Daiichi unit #2 Reactor Building failed. The regulator also said says it believes the venting was not conducted as planned due to unknown reasons. The conclusion is based on examinations of piping that was part of the depressurization system, and no contamination was found on the interior. This is the same conclusion previously rendered by Tepco. Although it is obvious that the unplanned depressurization was due to the mysterious opening of the large blow-out panel on the side of the structure, the NRA maintains they have yet to determine the cause of the depressurization! https://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/en/news/20191129_01/
  • South Korea demands accurate information relative to the possible release of treated, stored wastewater at F. Daiichi. South Korean Environment Minister Cho Myung-rae made the request to Japan’s new Environment Minister Shinjiro Koizumi.  Koizumi said Japan has already held a briefing session for diplomats about the matter, but stressed to Cho that Japan will continue to provide information carefully. https://jen.jiji.com/jc/eng?g=eco&k=2019112300520

November 22, 2019

The latest data for Fukushima evacuee compensation payments has been posted… https://www.hiroshimasyndrome.com/fukushima-evacuee-compensation-payments.html

  • On Monday, Tokyo said releasing Fukushima wastewater to the sea will be safe. Specifically, the impact would be “significantly small”. The source of the announcement was the Industry Ministry. The ministry said the release will primarily consist in Tritium, the essentially harmless isotope of Hydrogen. Because Tritium is mildly radioactive, release of the more than one millions tons of the purified liquid has not been allowed due to groundless radiophobic concerns. The Ministry says radiation levels near the release point will be between 0.052 and 0.62 microsieverts at sea and roughly 1.3 microsieverts in the atmosphere.  Compared with the 2,100 microsieverts that Japanese are naturally exposed to each year, there will be no measurable health consequences to anyone! As could be expected, the announcement was challenged by opposition officials and the Republic of South Korea. Officially, the government has yet to decide whether or not to actually permit the release to the sea. The announcement was intended to show a committee set up to study options for disposal of the water that a release to the sea would be harmless. The message was formally presented to the embassies of 19 countries in the western Pacific region on Thursday. Concurrently, Tepco told the embassies that the wastewater has been, and will continue to be treated appropriately. https://english.kyodonews.net/news/2019/11/69b8ea68fa78-govt-says-safe-to-release-contaminated-fukushima-water-into-ocean.html -- https://mainichi.jp/english/articles/20191118/p2g/00m/0dm/048000c -- https://jen.jiji.com/jc/eng?g=eco&k=2019111801000 -- https://mainichi.jp/english/articles/20191121/p2g/00m/0fp/081000c -- https://jen.jiji.com/jc/eng?g=eco&k=2019112100924
  • The reality of the massive volume of Fukushima wastewater was shared with Tokyo on Monday. Tepco said there are currently more than 1,170,000 tons of purified waters in tanks at Fukushima Prefecture’s F. Daiichi station. The waters will contain about 860 trillion Becquerels of Tritium-based activity by the end of this year. 150 tons of purified water is added to this every day. Tepco also announced hypothetical disposal plans based on release to the ocean. The proposed methodical release would remove 51 trillion Becquerels of activity per year. All wastewaters would be disposed by 2041. These estimates were submitted to the Industry Ministry by the Agency for Natural Resources & Energy (ANRE). The subject of unfounded fears and rumors was also addressed by Professors Ryota Koyama of Fukushima University and Hiroshi Kainuma of Ritsumeikan University. Tepco also said that is disposal does not occur, space on the F.Daiichi station property will be filled in the summer of 2022.  https://www.jaif.or.jp/en/tepco-announces-timeline-for-storage-and-disposal-of-treated-contaminated-water-at-fukushima-daiichi/ -- http://www.asahi.com/ajw/articles/AJ201911180042.html
  • The estimated cost of Japan’s heightened safety standards has been more than $50 billion. This was according to the Mainichi Shimbun. Prior to Tokyo’s 2013 upgrade in safety requirements, the total safety expenditures were less than $1 billion. Of the 11 utilities with nuke plants, Tepco has spent the most at around $1 billion, largely in the effort to restart two units at the Kashiwazaki-Kariwa station. Meiji University’s Tadahiro Katsuta says, "Countermeasures against accidents being taken now should've been considered before the (2011 Fukushima Daiichi) nuclear accident. The sharp increase in costs is the result of the firms' failure to do what was necessary." https://mainichi.jp/english/articles/20191116/p2a/00m/0na/004000c
  • Most work at Tepco nuke plants will be suspended during next summer’s Tokyo Olympic Games. Efforts to restart two Kashiwazaki-Kariwa units will be completely suspended. In addition, decommissioning work at the two Fukushima stations will be limited. Tepco says this will be done to assuage heightened terrorist concerns. https://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/en/news/20191117_02/

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