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

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March 27, 2020

The Fukushima evacuee compensation figures continue to rise. Here the numbers through March, 2020 can be accessed here… https://www.hiroshimasyndrome.com/fukushima-evacuee-compensation-payments.html

  • Tepco posts its plan for the agonizingly slow release of purified F. Daiichi waste water. The company’s draft subcommittee report says they will use raw seawater to dilute the liquid and bleed it out to the sea over a thirty year period. Further, the dilution will have an activity limit of 1,500 Becquerels per liter, which is one-fortieth of Japan’s regulatory limit for Tritium in seawater (60,000 Bq/l). For comparison, the World Health Organization limit for Tritium in drinking water is 10,000 Bq/l. (For the actual risk posed by Tritium, see…  https://www.hiroshimasyndrome.com/background-information-on-tritium.html) For residual radioisotopes remaining in a small fraction of the tanks that have a concentration of more than 100 times Japan’s regulatory limit, secondary retreatment. Secondary treatment includes Strontium removal by adsorption, followed by re-running the water through ALPS (the high-efficiency Advanced Liquid Processing System). Precautions to limit reputational damage, local communication initiatives to possibly preclude damaging rumors, and a policy statement on future countermeasures to dispel persistent rumors, are included in the draft. The references appendix posts a reasonable explanation of the essentially harmless nature of Tritium’s exceedingly weak beta radiation emission. For example, nearly all other betas pass through a thin piece of paper, but not Tritium’s. The piece of paper attenuates Tritium’s beta completely! Technically, Tepco has yet to formally decide between dilution/release and evaporation for eliminating the wastewater build-up at F. Daiichi. Tepco officer Junichi Matsumoto explains, "We haven't (officially) decided whether to release the water into the sea or atmosphere," while admitting that sea release is the better option.  Meanwhile, the die-hard antinuclear Press outlet, Asahi Shimbun”, continues its nine-year-long process of F. Daiichi disinformation and blatant obfuscation. For example, it states that essentially harmless Tritium is “a particularly nasty substance” that might be safe to release only because the affected area “…would be limited to around the nuclear plant”!  https://www7.tepco.co.jp/wp-content/uploads/handouts_200324_01-e.pdf -- https://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/en/news/20200324_42/ -- https://mainichi.jp/english/articles/20200325/p2a/00m/0na/012000c -- http://www.asahi.com/ajw/articles/13243911
  • Fukushima’s governor vows to enrich the prefecture’s future. Governor Masao Uchibori says he is determined to "work together to build a vibrant and appealing future for Fukushima" with "Fukushima pride". He is convinced that Fukushima’s work with respect to reconstruction will lead the way in regional “restoration and rebirth”. He added, "We want to thank everyone who has supported Fukushima and everyone who keeps us in their thoughts. We wish for people all over the world to see Fukushima shining with the light of hope as we move forward toward revitalization, one step at a time." http://www.fukushimaminponews.com/news.html?id=998

March 20, 2020

  • Tepco and Japan’s Atomic Energy agency will co-open a fuel debris laboratory in 2024. The joint analytical venture will be located on the F. Daiichi station’s property. The plan is to get corium samples monthly. Corium is the resolidified admixture of fuel and structural materials that were liquefied during the meltdowns in March, 2011. Tepco anticipates the first debris removal will occur next year from unit #2. Any material retrieved before the facility is completed will be analyzed at Tepco’s Ibaraki facility. https://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/en/news/20200318_03/
  • Japan’s main Pacific Coast train line fully reopens. The Joban Line was suspended by the 2011 quake-tsunami catastrophe. Its reopening has been long-delayed because of extensive decontamination efforts inside the Fukushima exclusion zone. Relatively few people have returned since living restrictions were lifted in Tomioka, Okuma, and Futaba. So far, fewer than 2,000 of the original 34,000 residents have returned home. The Joban line was the public’s main form of transportation along the Pacific coast before 2011. The Joban system is the last disaster-hit train line to fully reopen. Fukushima officials have long-argued that revitalization of the Pacific coast depended on reopening the Joban train line. Detractors say this will make little difference since most local residents have been using their cars for several years. https://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/en/news/20200314_15/ -- https://english.kyodonews.net/news/2020/03/a1246b526271-last-train-line-suspended-by-2011-triple-disaster-fully-reopens.html
  • Fukushima Prefecture plans to prevent large bags of contaminated rural debris being swept away by spring rains. Last year, hundreds of them were lost to torrential rains during Typhoon no. 19 in October. Of the more than 700 temporary storage sites remaining in the prefecture, about a dozen are considered at-risk for worst-case run-off. Officials say preventative measures include adding fencing and/or moving the bags to less susceptible locations. The sites at risk are: one in Namie, four in Kawauchi, one in Kawamata, and two each in Iwaki, Nihonmatsu and Date. https://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/en/news/20200317_44/ -- http://www.asahi.com/ajw/articles/13225077
  • Sendai unit #1 is the first nuke to experience an extended operational delay due to new anti-terrorist back-fitting rules. The regulations approved in 2013 require each nuclear unit to have remote operating capabilities during acts of terror, such as the intentional crashing of a jetliner. The Nuclear Regulation Authority has forced plant owners to build the facilities within five years of construction plans being approved for them. Kyushu Electric, Sendai’s owner, believes the remote facility will be ready to go in December. None of the other nukes under the same NRA ruling are expected to meet their respective deadlines, either.  Extended outages in order to finish the facilities will place a considerable financial strain on the companies owning the nukes. NRA Chairman Toyoshi Fuketa scolded the utilities, saying they should not expect to get their way by merely submitting formal requests. The utilities have also come under fire from the NRA for overly optimistic construction timetables and over-reliance on government support. https://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/en/news/20200316_35/ -- https://the-japan-news.com/news/article/0006424709 -- http://www.asahi.com/ajw/articles/13221568

March 13, 2020

The ninth anniversary of the Great East Japan Earthquake and Tsunami occurred on Wednesday, March 11th. As with the past eight anniversaries, Japan’s Press was alive with Fukushima articles, although fewer than past years due to coronavirus articles taking precedent. First, the more positive reports…

  • Area radiation levels within 80 kilometers of F. Daiichi have dropped about 78% since 3/11/11. The Nuclear Regulation Authority says the main reason is the natural property of radioactive decay. Officials also point to decontamination efforts and the wash-off of contamination due to wind and rain that both contribute to the lower exposure levels. The calculations have been made annually under almost identical circumstances using probes lowered from helicopters to about 1 meter above the ground. https://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/en/news/20200310_16/
  • The Tohoku region Sake industry is opening its doors to women. More than 100 Tohoku Region brewers of the rice wine have added young workers to meet post- calamity demand. One brewery in Iwate Prefecture has added eight employees in their 20s and 30s, including four women. Nation-wide, women have been traditionally barred from brewery work, but this has apparently changed in Iwate! https://jen.jiji.com/jc/eng?g=eco&k=2020031100782
  • Japan Today has posted a comprehensive overview of the status of the clean-up at F. Daiichi. It is quite objective! The highlights are… The four damaged units appear to have been repaired when seen from a distance, the much-criticized “ice wall” is actually working quite well, the ALPS wastewater decontamination system needs to “re-treat” about 80% of the one million gallons of wastewater stored on-site to remove the first-treatment residuals that are not Tritium, and between 4,000 and 5,000 workers enter and leave the station every day. https://japantoday.com/category/national/nine-years-on-state-of-the-clean-up-at-fukushima's-nuclear-plant -- https://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2020/03/11/national/japan-ninth-311-anniversary-coronavirus/?fbclid=IwAR2SgOEnZi3DRwmzfAJChSCwfE0q6uIRoG8KrhB6I0KsU_YMO0rgBXi13mE#.Xmp2Y3JKiUm
  • Fukushima Fisheries want full resumption of their livelihood ASAP! Fisheries head Tetsu Nozaki says, "We would like to launch full operations within the new fiscal year, starting with whatever we can, including with catching specific fish species." The group has politicked for full, unrestricted resumption for more than a year, but Tokyo continued restrictions on a few species, until last month. When the ban on one species of skate (komon kasube) ended February 25th, no further Tokyo restrictions existed. However, full scale operating will take some time to make happen. Kanji Tachiya, of the Soma-Futaba Fisheries Cooperative Association, said, "I think it may be difficult to operate on a full scale as the number of (fish sales) brokers has become fewer. It is necessary to examine the issue step by step, including how to reconstruct the crippled distribution system." Akira Egawa, head of the Iwaki Fisheries Cooperative Association, adds a further caution, "We have a lot of challenges yet to be overcome in view of our voluntary restraint on fishing still exercised in waters within a radius of 10 kilometers from the Fukushima Daiichi plant, among other things." http://www.fukushimaminponews.com/news.html?id=996
  • Information technology is proving invaluable to Fukushima efforts to revive farming in former evacuation zones. A Wagyu beef cattleman, Ichiro Sato, says data from IT devices “saves labor especially during the mating season and at times of births.” He adds that stored data should help train new cattle farmers. The prefecture is also developing a robotic tractor to disperse fertilizer and seeds while receiving “positional data” from GPS. In addition, satellite imaging monitors the growth of rice plants and indicates the right time to harvest broccoli. An Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Ministry official says the Prefecture is “advanced in utilizing IT and AI to address challenges from labor shortages.” https://the-japan-news.com/news/article/0006405070
  • Fukushima Governor Masao Uchibori cautions that the effort toward reconstruction must continue unabated! He supports Tokyo’s Reconstruction Agency that recently extended its official existence for ten more years. The initial 10-year duration was to end in 2021. Uchibori said, "We're facing a host of challenges that cannot be overcome in 10 years. For the time-consuming reconstruction of Fukushima, medium- to long-term efforts need to be made. I want the central government and related officials to take this fact to heart." https://jen.jiji.com/jc/eng?g=eco&k=2020031100693
  • Used nuclear fuel bundle removal continues slowly to minimize the atmospheric release of dust. Removal and ground-level storage of used bundles have been completed for unit #4, and both proceed steadily with unit #3. So far, 91 unit #3 bundles have been safely relocated since last April. Removal is not anticipated to begin until 2004 for unit #2 and 2027 for unit #1. Tokyo says removal of the bundles from unit #1 cannot begin until a large cover is installed over the refueling deck to prevent the atmospheric release of possibly radioactive dust. https://jen.jiji.com/jc/eng?g=eco&k=2020030901021

Now… for reports that have a more-or-less negative slant…

  • The sea-release issue for F. Daiichi wastewater continues in earnest. More than a million tons of water, almost totally stripped of radioactive material, is stored in large tanks on the station’s property. The only isotope of any consequence is naturally-occurring, biologically-innocuous Tritium… the radioactive isotope of hydrogen. The real reason the wastewater is not safely released to the sea is radiophobia – a morbid fear of radiation, as from x-rays or nuclear energy. (The Medical-Dictionary). Tritium is exceedingly difficult to remove from water because it is an integral part of the water molecule. Despite Tokyo’s constant insistence that it is nothing to worry about… echoed by all objective scientific organizations around the world… widespread public fears of eating fish containing Tritium and the dread of local fishermen that a release will ruin their livelihood has kept the super-pure, essentially harmless liquid building up in tanks at a rate of just over 100 tons a day! There’s also an antinuclear distrust of the Tokyo government and the scientific community that has existed since World War II (The Hiroshima Syndrome). Masumi Kowata, a displaced resident of Okuma, shared the paranoiac feelings of her and her neighbors, "We should not dump the water until we have proof about its safety. The government says it's safe, but how do we know (whom we should trust)?" Recently, a governmental panel said there are really only two options. Either dilute and release, or wait for the massive volume to naturally evaporate! But, the second would take so long that the space on the F. Daiichi station would be filled in two years, necessitating additional radiophobic-based measures! https://mainichi.jp/english/articles/20200310/p2g/00m/0fe/094000c
  • A Jiji Press poll finds that Fukushima residents say reconstruction from the nuke accident has made little or no progress. Some 70% of those polled responded in the negative. Only about 18% believe accident recovery has progressed to at least some extent! On the other hand, nearly 50% says they see progress with recovery from the earthquake and tsunami catastrophe. https://jen.jiji.com/jc/eng?g=eco&k=2020031001201
  • More than half of the bags of Fukushima’s radioactive debris remain near where the stuff was collected. This constitutes about 7 million cubic meters of collected soil and vegetation. The Environment Ministry says the bags should be transferred to intermediate storage facilities by March 2022. So far, 6.3 million m3 has been so-transferred. Environment Minister Shinjiro Koizumi promises that the waste will be transferred as quickly as possible so that local residents will feel secure. https://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/en/news/20200308_02/
  • The Japan News (Yomiuri Shimbun) says 48,000 people remain refugees. Tokyo’s reconstruction agency reported the data, but added that this was about 4,000 fewer than this time last year. In addition, the number of deaths recognized as being due to the natural calamity has been increased to more than 22,000! Nearly 16,000 immediate deaths and more than 6,000 people who died from “related causes” over the nine years hence. Please note… this is attributed to the people displaced by the earthquake and tsunami of March 11, 2011, only… not the Tokyo-mandated nuke accident evacuation! https://the-japan-news.com/news/article/0006410428
  • A Japanese court orders Tokyo and Tepco to pay additional compensation damages above and beyond that already awarded. The Sapporo District Court awarded the additional compensation on Tuesday. The 89 plaintiffs were all voluntary evacuees who have moved to Fukushima City. They had already received over $51,000 in compensation. However, it’s reported they have been awarded an additional $5,000 each. http://www.china.org.cn/world/Off_the_Wire/2020-03/10/content_75798149.htm
  • Another 32 deaths have been attributed to the stresses experienced by 2011 earthquake and tsunami refugees. It is estimated that more than 40,000 refugees still exist in Fukushima Prefecture. The revised data comes from Tokyo’s Reconstruction Agency and the Fukushima prefectural government. Of the 32 newly recognized deaths, 28 had been living as evacuees since the disaster. Such essentially wrongful deaths are judged by each affected municipality, after relatives of the deceased apply for the designation.  Many of the cases involve people with chronic diseases whose health condition deteriorated due to the change in their living environment. The disaster-related death toll for Fukushima Prefecture is now 2,304! http://www.asahi.com/ajw/articles/13199954

March 6, 2020

  • Part of Futaba’s Tokyo-mandated evacuation order is rescinded. The entire host community for F. Daiichi has been listed as a difficult-to-return (i.e. off-limits) zone since 2011. Lifting the order allows full operation of the town’s train station on the JR Joban line, although the return of residents is not expected until sufficient infrastructure has been restored. A town official said, "We are aiming to have the return of residents starting in the spring of 2022." 95% of Futaba remains restricted, but the partial lifting will accommodate the Olympic torch relay planned for March 26th. Olympic organizers have reported, "In addition to building excitement across the country ahead of the Tokyo 2020 Games and promoting the Olympic values, the Olympic Torch Relay aims to demonstrate solidarity with the regions still recovering from the 2011 earthquake and tsunami." Additional restrictions have also been lifted for parts of F. Daiichi co-host Okuma. https://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/en/news/20200304_07/ -- https://japantoday.com/category/national/japan-lifts-evacuation-order-for-part-of-disaster-hit-fukushima-town -- http://www.asahi.com/ajw/articles/13185645
  • IAEA Director General Rafael Grossi supports releasing purified F. Daiichi wastewater to the sea. He says offshore release and atmospheric release of vapor are both technically feasible and “in line with international practice.” He cautioned that everyone maintain close cooperation with the IAEA in the attempt to curb unfounded fears and rumors. https://www.jaif.or.jp/en/toward-understanding-on-disposal-of-the-treated-water-in-cooperation-with-the-iaea/
  • Canadian William McMichael brings students to Fukushima University to dispel misconceptions. He says, "I love Fukushima and couldn't accept the awful treatment the prefecture was receiving." He began the effort when he saw Press coverage of the disaster exaggerated the damage done, and said the region was uninhabitable and resembled ground zero after an atomic bomb was dropped. He says, "Fukushima isn't dead! I want people to know that they're looking ahead and moving forward." Unfortunately, his initial efforts in 2011 received essentially the same fake Press as the disaster itself. But, as time has passed, McMichael’s Hope Tourism program has grown in popularity and created ambassadors for Fukushima around the world. https://english.kyodonews.net/news/2020/03/228c61b5d796-canadian-leads-program-on-fukushima-for-overseas-students.html
  • Fukushima Prefecture is falsely depicted as deadly by an American sci-fi show. The series “Zoo” labeled the prefecture a “land of radioactive pollution”. One character says, “Fukushima? As in nuclear reactors, radiation leaks, and deadly fallout?” During the episode bats fly unusually high and horses turn violent due to the radiation. But, when the DVD of the show was made available in Japan, the misleading dialogue has been omitted. Why? The distributor said it is because of the sensitivities around the issue! https://jen.jiji.com/jc/eng?g=eco&k=2020030500725
  • Japan’s Foreign Ministry will not sponsor a United Nations Hiroshima exhibit because it includes images of Chernobyl and Fukushima. The exhibit is scheduled to open on April 27. It has been organized by a confederation of A-and H-Bomb Sufferers Organizations and jointly hosted by Hiroshima and Nagasaki city governments for more than 15 years. The exhibit is shown in New York every five years, but this is the first time Tokyo has had problems with it. The Ministry’s reason is “one of three pillars of the Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty is the peaceful use of nuclear power,” implying that bombs should not be confused with reactors. Foreign Minister Toshimitsu Motegi said, “The issue has been under review accordingly by the ministry and I cannot comment on the exchanges with (the exhibit organizers) at this time.” http://www.asahi.com/ajw/articles/13185549
  • Unfounded fears of Fukushima radiation continue unabated in South Korea. There is an historically poor bilateral relationship between Japan and Korea. South Korean President Moon Jae-in has voiced safety issues in the international community since he took office. He argues that Tokyo has not taken the hypothetical impacts on the human body and the marine environment if there is a wastewater release to the sea. Korea’s concerns have amplified since Tokyo announced a release to the sea was feasible, from the standpoint of safety. https://jen.jiji.com/jc/eng?g=eco&k=2020030401214

February 28, 2020

(The latest figures on government-mandated financial compensation to Fukushima evacuees is posted here… https://www.hiroshimasyndrome.com/fukushima-evacuee-compensation-payments.html)

  • All restrictions on Fukushima fish shipments have been rescinded. This good news was rendered by Tokyo’s Nuclear Emergency Response Headquarters on Tuesday. All 44 species are fully available to consumers without limitations for sale and consumption. A legal limit of 100 Becquerels of total Cesium per kilogram was invoked in June, 2012. By January of last year, only one species exceeded the limit… the stingray. However, none of the 1,008 stingrays tested since then have failed the assessment. As of January 23rd, tested stingrays showed no detectible Cesium-137 or Cs-134 (the so-called fingerprint isotope for accident-spawned contamination). In fact, none of the 43 fish taken within 20 kilometers showed any detectible Cs-134. Regardless of the legal restriction being lifted, The Fukushima Fisheries will voluntarily refrain from fishing the ocean within 10 kilometers of F. Daiichi. https://jen.jiji.com/jc/eng?g=eco&k=2020022501227 -- https://the-japan-news.com/news/article/0006379345 -- https://www7.tepco.co.jp/wp-content/uploads/handouts_200226_01-e.pdf
  • The head of the International Atomic Energy Agency says the sea release of purified F. Daiichi wastewater is safe. Specifically, the isotopic limits set by Japan for discharge meet global standards. After visiting F. Daiichi on Wednesday, IAEA Director General Rafael Grossi said, "Whatever way forward must be based on a scientific process, a process which is based on a scientifically based and proven methodology. It is obvious that any methodology can be criticized. What we are saying from a technical point of view is that this process is in line with international practice." He added that this practice is common around the world even when the water is not then result of an emergency. The IAEA promises to provide whatever support Japan needs to make it happen. Meanwhile, a poll of Fukushima residents finds that 57% oppose releasing the wastewater to the sea. 31% support the release, which is the highest supportive percentage since the annual poll has been taken. https://english.kyodonews.net/news/2020/02/88570e0acba2-update1-iaea-chief-says-fukushima-water-release-plan-meets-global-standards.html -- http://www.asahi.com/ajw/articles/13172248 (poll results)
  • Japan’s Nuclear Regulation Authority approves the plans for restart of Onagawa unit #2. Though the plant itself had little damage due to the March 2011 quake and tsunami, its being nearest the epicenter of the temblor (~100 kilometers) has made it difficult to convince the NRA and local officials that the plant is safe to operate. The NRA announced the decision on Wednesday, after reviewing the required documentation supplied by owner-operator Tohoku Electric Company and review of numerous public opinions. NRA Chairman Toyoshi Fuketa said that Tohoku Electric had “generally responded properly to the NRA’s requests.” Onagawa #2 is the second Tohoku-region BWR to be deemed safe according to the NRA’s stringent safety standards. The first was Tokai unit #2 in Ibaraki Prefecture. It should be noted that the Onagawa station was a safe haven for hundreds of local people during the 5-day blackout following the natural disasters, providing food, water, and bedding on-site and free of charge. Before restart can be allowed by the NRA, several safety upgrades must be completed, including a 29-meter high anti-tsunami sea wall. In addition, whether or not the unit will be approved for restart by local officials remains as an issue! https://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/en/news/20200226_21/ -- https://www.jaif.or.jp/en/nra-approves-changes-to-reactor-installation-for-onagawa-2-under-new-regulatory-standards/

February 21, 2020

  • The new IAEA director will visit F. Daiichi next week. This will be International Atomic Energy Agency Director General Rafael Grossi’s his first trip to Japan since he took office in December. Grossi will meet with Foreign Minister Toshimitsu Motegi, Industry Minister Hiroshi Kajiyama, and visit the Fukushima Daiichi site during his stay. His main concern with F. Daiichi is the disposal of purified waste water. https://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/en/news/20200218_42/
  • The remote visual examination inside F. Daiichi Unit #1 containment will be delayed. The initial plan was to begin the inspection before the end of March. Last June, Tepco began drilling a ten-inch access hole through the inner containment vessel door.  Radioactive airborne contamination was generated. Airborne monitors detected the increase and the drilling was terminated. On January 14, the drilling resumed for about ten days to determine if new precautions could keep airborne contamination at bay. It has been determined that further precautions are warranted. The hole is needed to gather some resolidified debris from the inner containment, as well as allow inspection of the physical status of the inner vessel. http://www.fukushimaminponews.com/news.html?id=994
  • Tepco is ordered to further compensate voluntary evacuees. The Fukushima District Court awarded local residents 50 plaintiffs, who admit their problem is fear of radiation, $108,000 more money for psychological damage. Mediators had previously recommended this sum as a settlement, but Tepco said they would not comply. Presiding Judge Toru Endo said voluntary evacuees live in a continual state of fear due to the prospect of radiation exposure, and should be compensated above and beyond the more than $3 billion already doled out to voluntary evacuees. The company is considering an appropriate response. Plaintiff’s Lawyer Yoshitaro Nomura condemned Tepco, saying, “Refusing the court’s settlement offer was outrageous. It amounted to ignoring the company’s responsibility for causing this unprecedented nuclear disaster.” http://www.asahi.com/ajw/articles/13144481 -- https://www.hiroshimasyndrome.com/fukushima-evacuee-compensation-payments.html

February 14, 2020

  • Tohoku Electric President Hiroya Harada says Onagawa unit #2 is “close to a major turning point toward restarting the plant.” He emphasized three “pillars” of leadership: nuclear safety, preparedness for severe accidents, and a trusting relationship with the local community. Nuclear Regulation Authority members asked Tohoku to make full use to the regulator’s new Corrective Action Program, scheduled for approval in April. President Harada pointed out that motivation and awareness with the staff at the nuke station continue to rise. Although much work still needs to be done, he feels all will be completed by March 2021. Onagawa #2 will probably be the first Boiling Water Reactor plant to restart since the 2011 nuke accident.  https://www.jaif.or.jp/en/nra-exchanges-views-with-tohoku-electric-president-who-says-major-turning-point-is-approaching-toward-restart/

·         An expert committee gives Tepco high marks on its state of improvement.  The Nuclear Reform Monitoring Committee, an independent group, is chaired by Dr. Dale Klein of the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission. The conclusion was rendered on February 4th. The committee reviewed Tepco’s latest self-assessment, based on past group recommendations, and gave the company high marks, across the board. Dr. Klein added that Tepco’s ability to recognize problems independent of his committee was noticeable. Plus, he emphasized the company’s ability to evaluate itself and identify areas that need improvement. In addition, he praised Tepco’s ability to explain technical subjects, especially radiological. Tepco’s efforts are reviewed by the committee quarterly. https://www.jaif.or.jp/en/nuclear-reform-monitoring-committee-cites-major-progress-at-tepco-giving-high-marks-to-its-state-of-improvement-on-priority-issues/

(It is noteworthy that neither of the two previous postings was picked up by Japan’s popular Press… yet another instance of its general antinuclear bias!)

  • The Tokyo Committee for the Olympics and Paralympic Games approves Futaba for the torch relay. The Fukushima prefecture’s government had requested the town to be part of the event. Formal Tokyo approval came today (February 14th). The Fukushima portion of the nation-wide Olympic torch relay will run for 3 days, from March 26th to March 28th. https://the-japan-news.com/news/article/0006356028
  • More Fukushima residents want random monitoring rather than blanket radiological screenings of rice. Last year, the prefecture’s government decided to canvas the populace to see how making a shift to random screenings might be received. 1,334 residents were surveyed. 46% said they would favor the change, while 40% said they wished for the current practice of blanket monitoring to continue. One official stated, "We think the outcome has resulted from progress made in people's understanding of safety." As for those favoring blanket inspections, the official said the authorities "would like to keep sending out precise and careful information that will lead to the ensuring of confidence" in the safety of local rice. http://www.fukushimaminponews.com/news.html?id=992
  • Reuters posts a report on a tour F. Daiichi. This was the reporter’s fourth such visit since the tsunami-caused accident in 2011. He stated that unlike his first visit many years ago, about 90% of the plant site has so little radioactivity, that full, whole body anticontamination togs are no longer required. However, he focused on his tour of the ALPS wastewater treatment facility where full protection is still mandated. The reporter’s ignorance concerning the significance between contamination and radiation itself is apparent. https://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2020/02/05/national/fukushima-no1-nuclear-plant-trip/?fbclid=IwAR3PWxMjQtSk_YhKrkvVkSh28PityRt0hfnU5RiquN9PBm7Tg6f4e6Xv20c#.XkWgOjJKiUn
  • The NRA questions Japan Atomic Power concerning a geological data modification. Japco wants to restart Tsuruga unit #2, located in Fukui Prefecture. An NRA investigative panel says an active geological fault lies beneath the station, but Japco refutes the regulator’s claim. The NRA says some of the scientific data from test drillings has been deleted and replaced without explanation. The NRA says it is "unthinkable to modify or erase original data." https://jen.jiji.com/jc/eng?g=eco&k=2020021401125

 

February 7, 2020

  • Japan explained the merits of releasing purified Fukushima wastewater to foreign embassies on Monday. The government held a briefing at the Foreign Ministry in Tokyo for interested officials from foreign embassies. 28 officials from 23 countries attended. None of the attending officials voiced concerns about the possibility, including South Korea which had been verbally contentious about a release until now. Japan says the health risks to humans would be "significantly small", resulting in between 1/1,600th and 1/40,000th of natural exposure. https://japantoday.com/category/national/japan-tells-embassies-merits-of-releasing-fukushima-water-into-ocean -- https://mainichi.jp/english/articles/20200203/p2g/00m/0na/065000c
  • A foreign expert says the unfounded rumors with F. Daiichi are due to “political intentions”. Lady Barbara Judge of England and Dr. Richard Lester of MIT proffered their opinions to Atoms in Japan. Lady Barbara is former chair of the UK Atomic Energy Authority and is currently deputy chairman of the Nuclear Reform Monitoring Committee, monitoring the safety efforts of Tepco. Judge pointed to Tepco’s overhaul of its safety culture after the F. Daiichi accident, and safety improvements due to the efforts of Japan’s Nuclear Regulation Authority (NRA).  Her words were echoed by Lester. In addition, Lady Barbara said, And although this is only my personal view, unfortunately, there appear to be political intentions behind the unfounded fears and rumors in the context of international relations.” (emphasis added) In addition, Lester added, “I want Japan to play an international role… I think Japan has become passive about nuclear power since the accident at Fukushima Daiichi… Importantly, in order to play a more proactive international role, Japan should jump into such discussions, rather than sit passively.” https://www.jaif.or.jp/en/interview-with-two-experts-former-ukaea-chair-says-political-intentions-exist-behind-unfounded-fears-and-rumors/ (Aside – Japan Atomic Industrial Forum is the ONLY outlet to report on these expert opinions! Further evidence of the Japanese Press’ antinuclear sympathies? No doubt about it! –End aside!)
  • Japan’s Environment Minister wants to expand the area where Iodine tablets will be distributed in advance of nuke accidents. On Tuesday, Minister Shinjiro Koizumi, son of former Prime Minister and fanatical antinuclear activist Junichiro Koizumi, voiced his official position on Tuesday. Current NRA guidelines call for the tablets to be disbursed out to 5 kilometers from a nuke station. The minister wants this expanded to 30 kilometers! This would increase the area of disbursal by more than a factor of nine! https://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/en/news/20200204_28/
  • (Opinion alert!) The NRA says high radiation levels have been detected inside F. Daiichi Unit #2 Reactor Building, which should come as no surprise to anyone. On Tuesday, Tepco posted the results of a robotic monitoring of the refueling deck, above the damaged reactor, performed last Thursday. The highest reading was 683 millisieverts per hour. Why this is worthy of sensational Press headlines is a mystery to this reporter. It is actually a much lower reading than just after the accident in March, 2011! https://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/en/news/20200204_41/

January 31, 2020

  • The Industry Ministry says releasing F. Daiichi’s purified wastewater to the sea is the best disposal option. A subcommittee has been considering a handful of possibilities for more than a year, but only two make “realistic”: release to the air and/or release to the sea. Both were seriously considered. Release to the sea will probably cause the greatest outcry (especially from the Fisheries) due to the spread of misinformation, but it would greatly reduce scientific and technical problems, such as how surrounding radiation levels might be affected by the very-low radioactivity of the Tritium contained in the liquid. In addition, the committee concluded that a sea release would result in about half the radioactivity added to natural background than an air release. Further, an aqueous release could be carried out “with more certainty”. Regardless, the committee said the final decision rests with the government… i.e. the Prime Minister and the Diet! https://jen.jiji.com/jc/eng?g=eco&k=2020013100571 -- https://mainichi.jp/english/articles/20200131/p2g/00m/0na/063000c
  • The F. Daiichi contaminated water purification system has treated a million tons of wastewater. The Advanced Liquid Processing System (ALPS) passed the milestone on January 24th. The system captures 62 nuclides, except for Tritium, which is bound in the water molecules and thereby not possible for ALPS to remove. Though biologically innocuous,Tritium is detectably radioactive, which triggers Japan’s rampant radiophobia. ALPS began operation in March, 2013. The multi-stage process begins with Cesium absorption, followed by desalinization, reverse osmosis, and a final nuclide absorption system for the greater number of nuclides. Each ALPS system (there are at least two always running in parallel) has a 750 ton per day capacity. Early on, there were some operating glitches due to the uniqueness of the process, each of which made headlines in Japan. Antinuclear detractors called it a failure, but the unreported lack of problems over the past four years proves the process reliable and effective. https://www.jaif.or.jp/en/alps-achieves-treatment-volume-of-one-million-tons-in-less-than-seven-years/
  • JAIF President Akio Takahashi calls the court order to shutter Ikata Unit #3 “quite regrettable”! The injunction mandated by the Hiroshima High Court on January 17th reversed an earlier High Court reversal of an  earlier-still lower court estoppel injunction. Takahashi inferred that the entire nuclear energy industry must be prepared  for such legal shenanigans and strive to better inform the public about the realities of nuclear power production. He stressed the Nuclear Regulation Authority’s scientific rationale for the unit’s safety. He also tossed a not-so-subtle barb at the NRA’s largely arbitrary limit of 40 years on nuke operations (with the possibility of 20 year extensions) by mentioning that the licenses for Turkey Pont Units 3 & 4  in America were extended to 80 years! He said this fact must be better “fed back” to Japan! Takahama also mentioned the economic advantages of extending lifetimes, per a report by the International Energy Agency (IEA). https://www.jaif.or.jp/en/jaif-president-takahashi-gives-press-briefing-describing-court-order-halting-the-operation-of-ikata-3-as-regrettable/
  • The Osaka High Court has rejected an appeal to shutter Ohi units #3 & 4! One person living in neighboring Kyoto Prefecture (the Ohi units are in Fukui Prefecture) had filed the appeal insisting that his livelihood and that of nearby residents were unacceptably at risk! https://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/en/news/20200130_45/
  • Shikoku Electric decides to temporarily postpone the appeal of The Ikata #3 estoppel order! The reported reason is heightened public concern over reported problems at the station has risen to an “unprecedented level”! The governor says public distrust has placed him and the company in a tough situation. Governor Nakamura has asked that the head of the Shikoku Company’s nuclear power department be moved to Ikata Station and hold discussions with local residents. https://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/en/news/20200127_27/
  • A brief, inconsequential power interruption at Ikata nuclear station makes headlines. Unit #1 is being decommissioned and Unit #2 will be scrapped because the cost of upgrades to meet Japan’s new safety requirements could never be recovered. Unit #3 is currently idled for refueling. Regardless, a loss of off-site power for 10 seconds was reported last Saturday by Japan’s Press. The outage was so brief that the automatic initiation of emergency diesel generators did not occur! https://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/en/news/20200126_09/
  • Two more perfectly safe reactors will be shuttered due to delays in finishing Tokyo-mandated anti-terrorist facilities. Takahama unit #3 must be shut down on August 2nd, for at least four months. Unit #4 will be shuttered October 7th, also for at least four months. https://jen.jiji.com/jc/eng?g=eco&k=2020012901237

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. The route was approved by Fukushima’s torch relay committee on Wednesday and will pass through 25 Fukushima municipalities before it leaves the prefecture for the other 46 prefectures of the island nation. 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 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 fruit is planned to be shipped to Thailand this winter. 1,231 tons  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 recovery with milk from Jersey cattle. Their farm in Samegawa Village is 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 a specialty since 99% of Japan’s milk comes from holsteins.  https://english.kyodonews.net/news/2020/01/96f471346bf5-hold-farm-feature-with-google-map.html
  • 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 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.  NRA Chairman Toyoshi Fuketa defended 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/

 

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