Fukushima Accident Updates (Blog)

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

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October 20, 2014

  • More than 99% of unit #4’s used fuel bundles have been removed from the damaged building’s fuel pool. As of 10/19/14, the staff at Fukushima Daiichi has safely moved 1342 (87.5%) of unit #4’s 1533 stored fuel bundles to the ground-level common storage facility without incident. Only 11 (<1%) of the original 1331 used (irradiated) bundles remain to be transferred. http://www.tepco.co.jp/en/decommision/index-e.html

  • The percentage of evacuees refusing to go home continues to rise. The Reconstruction Agency says the number of dissents to repopulation has risen to almost half in the communities of Namie and Tomioka. This is an 11 point increase from last year for Namie and a 3 point upsurge for Tomioka. Officials say it seems that some of last year’s “undecided” have made up their minds. http://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/english/news/nuclear.html

  • Additional decontamination has begun in Kawauchi village. The specific locations are inside the district Tokyo says is safe for repopulation. The reason for the added cleaning is due to many residents are hesitating because radiation is still detectible, even though exposures will be considerably lower than Japan’s standard for repopulation. Tokyo has identified 23 specific locations for the additional work. Removing top-soils at two vacant houses on Friday lowered exposure 90%, and is now is about a third of a microsievert per hour. This equates to about 3 millisieverts per year which is a typical natural exposure level in the United States. Unbridled fear of radiation, no matter the level, is costing Japan time and money, as well as delaying Fukushima recovery. http://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/english/news/20141017_29.html

  • Nuclear volcano-phobia is supported by a Tokyo volcanologist. University of Tokyo professor emeritus Toshitsugu Fujii heads a government panel looking into the risks of volcanic activity with respect to nukes. He says it is impossible to predict when volcanoes will erupt, thus it makes no sense to operate nukes near them, “It is simply impossible to predict an eruption over the next 30 to 40 years. The level of predictability is extremely limited… Scientifically, they’re [Sendai station nukes] not safe. If they still need to be restarted despite uncertainties and risks that remain, it’s for political reasons, not because they’re safe, and you should be honest about that.” Sendai is 40 kilometers from the nearest volcano, but Fujii says that an eruption in the far-distant past hadlava flows of 145 kilometers. He said a pyroclastic flow from Mount Sakurajima, an active volcano that is part of the larger Aira Cauldron, could easily hit Sendai station. Fujii feels the impact of the resulting speculated nuclear accident would cause greater problems than the volcanic eruption itself. http://www.japantoday.com/category/national/view/expert-says-2-sendai-reactors-in-danger-from-active-volcano?utm_campaign=jt_newsletter&utm_medium=email&utm_source=jt_newsletter_2014-10-18_AM

  • Satsumasendai city approves the Sendai Station restart. Most of the city assembly’s special panel on the issue favored the restart because of a sluggish economy due to the nuke moratorium. Some were opposed because they felt NRA regulations cannot guarantee there will never be a nuke accident. The panel debated petitions both favoring and disapproving resumption of operations. The ten dissident petitions were rejected and the favorable petition was adopted. The full assembly is expected to adopt the positive petition as early as next week. http://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/english/news/nuclear.html

  • Tepco shows its advanced ALPS system to the Press. ALPS is the multi-nuclide removal system that has already successfully treated more than 130,000 tons of wastewater at F. Daiichi. However, the processed water contains detectible levels of five isotopes, including Strontium-90. Fear of Sr-90 has supplanted fear of radioactive Cesium in the Japanese Press over the past several months. The new ALPS equipment will remove all five of the niggling isotopes. In addition, the existing system’s absorption materials are being replaced with resins that will be just as effective. None of the ALPS systems can remove radioactive Hydrogen (Tritium), which is biologically innocuous but will undoubtedly be the main radiophobic concern at some point in the future. Regardless, the total daily purification capacity will be more than 2,000 tons per day when all of them are working in unison. http://mainichi.jp/english/english/newsselect/news/20141017p2a00m0na007000c.html

  • Greenpeace says electrical distribution problems due to renewable feed-ins are merely a utility company ploy to restart nukes. Greenpeace campaigner Hisayo Takada says, “It sounds inconsistent that a power company says it plans to restart a nuclear plant on the one hand, and on the other says it does not want solar power because there is not enough demand.” He adds that there is no way to verify the power company claims, so they can hide the truth, “If a utility says it can’t transmit solar power on its grid, currently no one can verify the claim because the grid system is a closed box to outsiders.” Hikaru Hiranuma, research fellow at the Tokyo Foundation, agrees with Greenpeace, saying that utilities should not be allowed to control electricity distribution, “[Utilities] can set up barriers to new entrants to the power market, by, for example charging for transmission and imposing penalties for unstable electricity supply. The causes of the emerging problem is not the [Feed In Tariff], but utilities’ failure to prepare for growth in solar power... which raises a question about the utilities’ suitability as business entities.” http://www.japantoday.com/category/national/view/green-power-floods-japan-grid-as-premium-prices-bite?utm_campaign=jt_newsletter&utm_medium=email&utm_source=jt_newsletter_2014-10-19_AM

October 16, 2014

  • As of 10/14/14, the staff at Fukushima Daiichi has safely moved 1298 (85%) of unit #4’s 1533 stored fuel bundles to the ground-level common storage facility without incident. Only 55 (4%) of the original 1331 used (irradiated) bundles remain to be transferred. http://www.tepco.co.jp/en/decommision/index-e.html

  • As of 10/10/14, Tepco has paid-out $43.5 billion (USD) in personal and property compensation to Fukushima evacuees. A full $40 billion has been disbursed to the roughly 75,000 that were ordered to evacuate by Tokyo. $3.5 billion has gone to voluntary evacuees from outside the exclusion zone. http://www.tepco.co.jp/en/comp/images/jisseki-e.pdf

  • Japan’s Cabinet Office has created a nuclear accident preparation team. The office will assist local authorities in drawing up emergency plans based on the lessons learned from the Fukushima accident in 2011. Previously, the Cabinet has been an advisor to Japan’s affected municipalities with no-one assigned to the job full time. This has brought harsh criticism from minority politicians in the Diet and most of Japan’s Press. The issue has come to a head with the impending restart of the two-unit Sendai station. As a result, the Cabinet created the new group and drafted about fifty full time persons from the Nuclear Regulation Authority and other relevant government agencies. While the initial focus will be on Sendai, all municipalities needing planning support will be assisted. Support will necessarily vary to meet the specific needs of each municipality. http://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/english/news/nuclear.html

  • Tepco has a reason for the recent upsurge in groundwater radioactivity. In April of 2011, a steady stream of contaminated water was found flowing into one of the equipment tunnels coming out of the unit #2 turbine basement. It was several days before Fukushima staff could stanch the outflow. A considerable amount of contamination must have seeped into the soil above the underground water table, and remained there. Officials say the heavy rainfall from Typhoon Phanfone likely caused radioactive substances in the soil to move down into the groundwater. The typhoon moved off-shore on October 6th. Over the next three days, activity levels increased in several observation wells between the turbine basement and the barricaded shoreline. One of the wells has shown its highest Cesium activity to date. Tepco will increase the frequency of sampling and testing at three of the wells, from twice weekly to daily. It is not known how far from the tunnel the contamination was spread. http://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/english/news/nuclear.html

  • Debris removal for unit #1 might be delayed. Before removal of debris can begin, the massive steel and polyethylene cover around the unit must be at least partially dismantled. But, because debris removal from unit #3 in August, 2013, resulted in detectible rice paddy contamination many kilometers from F. Daiichi, considerable Press and political pressure has occurred to prevent a repeat with unit #1 clean-up. The debris inside the unit enclosure must be removed before stored fuel bundles can be removed. Tepco says they will drill about 50 holes in the enclosure and spray resins inside to keep dust from becoming airborne. Work to remove the debris is scheduled for next March, which marks a several month delay with respect to the initial time-frame. Debris removal is now hoped to begin in 2016. The time-table for fuel removal is still for the spring of 2017, but a change in that schedule is now likely. http://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/english/news/nuclear.html -- http://ajw.asahi.com/article/0311disaster/fukushima/AJ201410160049

  • A Japanese nuclear expert recommends using the Fukushima Daini as a fast reactor research facility. Nobuo Tanaka, professor at Tokyo University and former executive director of the IAEA, says Japan should definitely restart its reactors to reduce the nation’s reliance on Middle Eastern oil and gas. The Wall Street Journal interviewed Tanaka on their Japan Real Time website. Concerning restarts, Tanaka says, “Japan has almost no natural energy resources. Giving up on nuclear power would put the country’s energy security at risk.” Tanaka also said he is a proponent of fast reactors because they are less prone to meltdowns than the current nuclear fleet, “[Fast reactors] are not necessarily prone to meltdowns, depending on their design. They also burn almost all problematic radioactive materials. What is leftover only needs keeping for 300 years or so. As they don’t need uranium enrichment, they also present less of a proliferation risk…I am suggesting that Tokyo proceed with the development of fast reactors using the Fukushima Daini plant.” He added that F. Daiichi could be decommissioning research facility. http://blogs.wsj.com/japanrealtime/2014/10/15/japan-could-use-fukushima-to-develop-safer-nuclear-technology/

  • Tokyo is having trouble finding all owners of the land intended for temporary rural decontamination debris storage. Of 2,356 plots within the proposed site, the government has only found 1,269 owners. The environment Ministry has had their staff searching for the property owners, but a significant fraction cannot be found. The ministry says that if the owners are not found, or do not come forward, it will consider using family courts to appoint property administrators. Environment Minister Yoshio Mochizuki said they will send out officials when land owners come forward. http://ajw.asahi.com/article/0311disaster/fukushima/AJ201410150056

  • The governor of Niigata Prefecture says the cause of the Fukushima accident is not fully understood. Governor Hirohiko Izumida is not convinced by conclusions about the accident reported by Tepco and Tokyo. Also, he charges the NRA with a lack of attention to emergency planning. Thus, Izumida says he cannot support the restarts of the two Sendai units in Kagoshima Prefecture, and will not approve any possible resumption of operation of units at Kashiwazaki-Kariwa in his prefecture. He added that because Tepco was responsible for the Fukushima accident, it has no qualifications for operating a nuclear plant in his region. Politicking in Tokyo, Izumida told reporters, “Protecting the residents’ lives and safety is the most important task for me as governor. I don’t even want to discuss a restart.” http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2014/10/16/national/niigata-governor-says-soon-reactor-restarts/#.VD-2yKN0wdU

October 13, 2014

  • Sendai station locals are briefed on nuke safety, and many are not convinced. Two Pressurized Water Reactor units at Sendai in Kagoshima Prefecture are expected to be the first Japanese nukes restarted, possibly as early as December. However, Japan’s nuke regulator (NRA) seeks local approval before Sendai operations can resume. The Agency ruled last month that Sendai station met all post-Fukushima safety requirements. Now, NRA officials are explaining their decision to Kagoshima residents; primarily from host city Satsumasendai, the municipality which is the most important in the decision chain. Meetings with four other nearby municipalities are planned. Some local residents objected, saying the revised earthquake standards underestimate the maximum conceivable temblor. Others argued that measures to cover tsunamis and serious accidents must be upgraded. The NRA responded that maximum conceivable quakes have been considered, as well as all worst-case accident scenarios. More than 1,000 showed up for another meeting on Sunday. They were barred from recording the proceedings and questions about emergency evacuation plans were not allowed. One woman complained, “What is the point of the meeting, then?” Greenpeace called the meeting a “farce”. http://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/english/news/nuclear.html -- http://www.japantoday.com/category/national/view/japan-pitches-nuclear-restart-in-tightly-controlled-town-hall-meetings

  • Japan Times reports new highs in groundwater radioactivity. On Saturday, Tepco said that heavy rains caused by Typhoon Phanfone probably caused the spike due to the unusually high influx of rainwater percolating down to the groundwater. The Times says that one well contains 150,000 Becquerels per liter of Tritium, allegedly 10 times the well’s previous high. But, Tepco’s record of highest well activity to date doesn’t show this. In fact, compared to most wells east of the turbine buildings have shown much, much higher levels in the past. Tritium is the innocuous isotope of hydrogen which exists naturally in all waters of the world. Also, it emits the lowest known energy Beta radiation. Further, because Tritium is hydrogen, it is part of the water molecule. Thus it will necessarily flow with the water it is in. The high influx of rainwater causing a new Tritium “spike” in one of the wells should come as no surprise. However, Tepco told the Times that they had no idea why this was happening. On October 2nd, one well in the units #1&2 cluster had 150,000 Bq/liter of Tritium (the same value as the “new” level), but the Times did not mention this. The Times adds that a new “all-Beta” level of 1.2 million Bq/liter was found. The report adds that another well between units #1&2 contained 2.1 million Bq/liter of “all-Beta”, including 68,000 Bq/liter of Strontium. In this case, the peak is a new high for a specific well (#1-6). Regardless, all of the specific wells are located in the cluster of about a dozen between the seawater discharge structures for units #1&2, but the report does not specify which of the piezometers showed the new readings. This has historically been the group of wells with the highest groundwater contamination levels, in most cases orders of magnitude greater than the observation wells between units #2&3 and units #3&4. It should be noted that all of the mentioned piezometers are inside the solidified soil barrier that seems to have stopped the seaward flow of groundwater.  http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2014/10/12/national/tritium-surges-10-fold-in-groundwater-at-fukushima-nuclear-plant-typhoon-effect-suspected/#.VDp5FKN0wdU -- http://www.tepco.co.jp/en/nu/fukushima-np/f1/smp/2014/images/tb-east_map-e.pdf  -- http://www.tepco.co.jp/en/nu/fukushima-np/f1/smp/2014/images/2tb-east_14100902-e.pdf  

  • Informed sources say Tokyo is considering a “freeze” on the renewable feed-in tariff. The tariff was invoked after the Fukushima accident as an incentive to accelerate Japan’s use of solar and wind-based electrical generation. The move has caused a virtual avalanche of companies building solar-powered sources. Under the tariff, utilities are forced to purchase all generated power at greatly inflated prices to offset the great costs of construction. However, the intermittent nature of solar generation, combined with the output peaks occurring at mid-day have caused troubling instabilities in utility distribution networks. If the instabilities worsen, blackouts could ensue. Freezing the tariff is a step to be presented to the Industry Ministry next week. Other possibilities are a surcharge cap on consumer costs specific to construction and allowing higher prices for electricity supplied by other sources.  http://mainichi.jp/english/english/newsselect/news/20141011p2g00m0dm104000c.html

  • The Asahi Shimbun says “now is the time to listen to nuclear pessimists”. Japan’s second largest newspaper cites several of the country’s most prominent antinuclear activists. Ex-Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi wants to stop any and all restarts of Japan’s nukes. He challenges current PM Shinzo Abe’s push for restarts, saying, “I am telling the prime minister every so often: Why don’t you go ahead with pulling the plug on nuclear power? There is no better time than now. You are such a fortunate prime minister. Why don’t you try when you can?” Abe responded, “The future of Japan depends on what we do now,” he said. “Let us not pessimistically come to a halt, but rather move forward, believing in our potential.” Another nuclear dissenter of note, Nobelist author Kenzaburo Oe, says, “The intense and unambiguous national sentiment and calls for resistance against the use of nuclear power, which immediately followed the 2011 Fukushima nuclear disaster, may be losing steam,” adding that nuke restarts are being sought by “the most narrow-minded optimists”. Another antinuke from Kagoshima Prefecture says restarting the Sendai nukes will place “our lives at stake”. The Asahi says now is the time for Tokyo to listen to the pessimists and keep the now-idled nukes of Japan permanently shut down. http://ajw.asahi.com/article/views/column/AJ201410120009

October 9, 2014

  • 94% of the used fuel bundles have been removed from unit #4 fuel pool. As of October 6th, 1254 0fthe 1331 used (irradiated) bundles have been safely transferred to the common storage facility. 77 remain to be moved. http://www.tepco.co.jp/en/decommision/index-e.html

  • The new ALPS water purification system is undergoing “hot testing”. A hot test runs contaminated water through the system. Stream A began its testing on Sept. 17, stream B began on Sept. 27, and stream C is expected to start its test run any day now. This three-unit system will be run in parallel with the pre-existing ALPS operation. The new system is expected to be fully operational by the end of the year, doubling the current rate of purification. The two systems will be able to process up to 1,500 tons of water per day. In addition, an “advanced” ALPS system with greater treatment capabilities is expected to begin hot testing later this month. http://www.jaif.or.jp/english/news_images/pdf/ENGNEWS01_1412582270P.pdf

  • Japan opens a new nuclear risk research center. Central Research Institute of Electric Power Industry (CRIEPI) formally established the Nuclear Risk Research Center (NRRC), headed by former American NRC Commissioner Dr. George Apostolakis. Dr. Apostolakis[ emphasized that “utilities are primarily responsible for risk management,” and the center is to support their risk measures. The NRRC has a staff of about 110, consisting of three teams: Planning/administrative, natural event research, and risk assessment. Chairman Makoto Yagi of the Japanese Federation of Electric Power Companies (FEPC) says he will make every effort to mirror the activities of NRRC in the business activities of the FEPC members. http://www.jaif.or.jp/english/news_images/pdf/ENGNEWS01_1412582200P.pdf

  • New American contributor Rebecca Terrell says “Fukushima’s children aren’t dying”. Terrell is a Practical Nurse specializing in Alzheimer’s and dementia, and an Associate Member of Scientists for Accurate Radiation Information. In her report, she uses a considerable amount of scientific evidence to reject sensationalist claims of a child thyroid cancer epidemic in Fukushima Prefecture. Terrell explains that the Fukushima child thyroid investigation is unparalleled in Japan, and the seemingly-alarming results are most likely due to it being the first study of its kind. In fact, she points to three other parallel studies in Japan, far from Fukushima, which reveal that the rate of Fukushima thyroid cysts and nodules is the lowest of the bunch. Terrell adds that the discovery of Fukushima Prefecture likely having he lowest rate of thyroid anomalies had virtually no Press coverage outside of Japan, which she says is “understandable since drama-seeking sensationalists have no nuclear power plants to blame.” [aside – We saw only two reports from inside Japan when the data from the three non-Fukushima prefectures was released. – end aside] In addition, Terrell also points to a Wall Street Journal blog that shows the rate of these anomalies in Okuma, one of F. Daiichi’s host communities, is no different than with Inawashiro, which is a hundred kilometers distant. If the nuke accident releases were actually causing thyroid anomalies in children, the occurrence nearest the damaged plant should be significantly higher than that happening far away. Much of Terrell’s report summarizes the work of prominent radiation biologists and other reputable researchers who have taken issue with the “no-safe-level” notion (a.k.a. Linear/No Threshold) continually promulgated in the Press and by nuclear-critical writers. She explains the historical sources of this flawed, unscientific assumption, and that large populations world-wide receive exposures many times greater than the limits mandated in Japan without negative health problems. Terrell concludes, “Anti-nuclear activists and nuclear disarmament proponents cling to the discredited hypothesis [LNT], sacrificing lives and economies for the sake of an imprudent political agenda.” Though lengthy, I highly recommend taking the time to read this report in its entirety. http://www.thenewamerican.com/world-news/asia/item/19253-fukushima-s-children-aren-t-dying

  • Japan’s nuke watchdog says the 3/11/11 quake did not cause the nuke accident. Rather, the the sole culprit was the tsunami that struck 45 minutes after the temblor subsided. On Wednesday, the NRA issued its findings which are based on a detailed examination of the factual evidence. The study was invoked because of Japan’s congressional investigation’s (NAIIC) suggestion that the quake-itself could not be dismissed as a possible accident cause. Convincing data showed the NRA that all operating units at F. Daiichi remained stable until the tsunami hit and destroyed the plant’s emergency power sources. Hokkaido University nuclear engineering professor Tamotsu Kozaki said “You cannot say there was no damage by the earthquake at all. But you can say the major cause was the tsunami, looking at the data.” Regardless, nuclear critics in Japan say the NRA report is merely an attempt to cease the accident investigation. http://blogs.wsj.com/japanrealtime/2014/10/08/tsunami-not-quake-seen-as-main-cause-of-fukushima-accident/

  • The NRA says they will not use “SPEEDI” to direct nuclear accident evacuations. SPEEDI is a computer-based system to predict the spread of radioactive releases into the atmosphere using topographic and meteorological data inputs. It was not used during the Fukushima accident because the Prime Minister (Naoto Kan) did not trust the forecasts, calling them inherently inaccurate. Politicians in Tokyo have mixed feelings about SPEEDI, with some echoing the PM Kan notion of inaccuracy, and others believing its use could have avoided unnecessary public exposure during the chaotic evacuation. It appears the NRA feels SPEEDI dissenters have the strongest case, so the system will not be used. http://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/english/news/nuclear.html

  • A large Fukushima rice “test crop” will be destroyed, even if it is not detectibly radioactive. The 25-acre paddy is in Okuma, located inside the mandated exclusion zone. The crop yield is considerable, but farmer Kanichi Hasegawa says he has mixed feelings because the rice cannot be sold even if tests show it is safe. Okuma officials say that the outcome of testing could be a step towards Okuma’s repopulation. http://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/english/news/20141007_34.html

  • Nuke plant restarts will probably not reduce Japan’s use of natural gas, but will decrease Japan’s costly oil imports. While most Press around the world (including Fukushima Accident Updates) has focused on the huge increase in Japan’s natural gas imports due to the nuclear moratorium, few have mentioned that Japan is the world’s #3 importer of oil. The country is already weaning itself off oil. Its use has dropped 18% in the last year. When Japan’s nukes resume operation, it will be the old, expensive oil units that will be shut down, but the gas plants will continue to operate. There are 92 oil-fired plants running in Japan, half of which are more than 40 years old and ready for the scrap heap. They are the costliest to run of all fossil-fueled options. The new gas and coal-powered plants due to come on-line over the next two years will also be used to lower oil usage even more. The reduction of oil imports will be more beneficial to Japan’s economy that reducing the natural gas and coal imports. http://www.japantoday.com/category/business/view/japan-nuclear-restart-would-hit-oil-usage-hardest-survey?utm_campaign=jt_newsletter&utm_medium=email&utm_source=jt_newsletter_2014-10-08_PM

 October 6, 2014

  • Pay-outs for Fukushima evacuee compensation have reached $43 billion USD. About 44% has been disbursed for mandated evacuation compensation, 44% for business and personal property reparation, and roughly 12% for voluntary evacuees. http://www.tepco.co.jp/en/comp/images/jisseki-e.pdf

  • The new, mobile Strontium removal system is operational. In early June, it was announced that a Kurion Isotopic Removal unit would be used the strip Strontium from contaminated waste water. The first-of-its-kind, “at-tank” system will be moved from tank group to tank group for reduction of contained Strontium. The tanks to be processed have been stripped of Cesium isotopes by the existing highly-reliable, remarkably-efficient absorption system. In June, Kurion said that Strontium activity is the greatest emitter of radiation impacting exposure levels in the storage tank area. The new unit has begun its job on a tank group containing about 23,000 tons of water. http://english.kyodonews.jp/news/2014/10/315262.html -- http://www.kurion.com/newsroom/press-releases/kurion-awarded-contract-to-treat-tank-water-at-fukushima-daiichi-nuclear-power-plant

  • Tepco will use cement “fillers” to try and stop the flow of contaminated water in equipment tunnels. The company has tried several freezing strategies to stem the flow, but all have fallen short of success. Reasons for failure have varied; sometimes due to fluctuating water levels in the tunnels, and other times because of physical obstacles such as cables. NRA commissioner Toyoshi Fuketa says that if the concrete filler plan does not solve the problem by November, Tepco should look for further alternatives. The tunnel problem needs to be resolved before the sea-side portion of the fully-encompassing 1.5 kilometer underground frozen wall can be successfully completed. https://english.kyodonews.jp/news/2014/10/315363.html -- http://www.4-traders.com/TOKYO-ELECTRIC-POWER-CO-I-6491247/news/Tokyo-Electric-Power--TEPCO-taking-new-strategy-to-remove-toxic-water-in-tunnels-19135535/

  • The Prime Minister’s Cabinet has approved the temporary waste storage bill guaranteeing a 30-year time-limit. Futaba and Okuma, the designated towns for the temporary rural radioactive waste facility, have demanded a government guarantee on a 30-year maximum. However, the bill needs congressional (Diet) approval to become law. Environment Minister Yoshio Mochiduki stressed that the bill alone will not guarantee that the facilities will happen on time (January). Tokyo needs consent of local people and agreement by landowners on sale or leasing of the property. http://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/english/news/20141003_25.html

  • The remaining evacuation “spots” in Minamisoma should be reopened later this month. Tokyo announced the decision to municipal assembly members on September 26th. Various “hot spots” in seven districts were identified after 3/11/11, and Tokyo mandated that 152 families evacuate their homes. Nearly 580 persons were affected. When the evacuation order is lifted, Tokyo will continue requiring psychological and evacuation compensations for three additional months. The average measured exposure level for the “spots” is 0.4 microsieverts per hour, which is 20% of the estimated levels when the residents were ordered to leave in 2011. The highest measured level is about one µSv/hour, which is equivalent to 5 mSv/year. This is well below the 20 mSv standard used to determine repopulation. http://www.fukushimaminponews.com/news.html?id=411

  • Tepco and Tokyo (NRA) continue fixation with worst case scenarios. They now say the greatest earthquake conceivable for Fukushima could have a ground motion 33% greater than the one experienced on 3/11/11. They also purport that a 26 meter-high tsunami is possible (albeit highly unlikely), which would be about 10 meters higher than the one that swamped F. Daiichi. The estimated frequency of the historically-unprecedented quake is once per 10,000-100,000 years, and the frequency interval for the extraordinary tsunami is once per 10,000-1 million years. Tepco speculates that if such a tsunami hit F. Daiichi now, 10-100 trillion Becquerels of radioactivity from the turbine basements and open equipment tunnels could be released to the ocean. The company added that the worst-case quake would not compromise any of the site reactor buildings, and the tsunami would not reach the waste water storage tanks because they are on high-enough ground. http://jen.jiji.com/jc/eng?g=eco&k=2014100300919 -- http://ajw.asahi.com/article/0311disaster/fukushima/AJ201410040044

  • Japan’s mass-construction of renewables might wane due to distribution system issues. Tokyo ordered an artificially-high “feed in tariff” that renewable operators must be paid by Japan’s utilities. This was done to off-set the high cost of construction for solar, wind and hydro-electric generation, in the hope of reducing the massive trade deficit caused by the nuclear moratorium. However, Japan’s utilities have found that the intermittent nature of solar and wind generation is upsetting the nation’s electric distribution network. Last week, Kyushu Electric Company began limiting renewable provider access to its grid to prevent possible blackouts due to the fluctuating output of local renewable power generation. The outputs are not reliable and cannot produce the constant supply of electricity needed to keep the grid stable. Tokyo is considering rescinding the fixed tariff and instead impose a fixed, less generous pricing system for renewables. This would curtail some proposed expensive renewable construction projects. http://thediplomat.com/2014/10/japans-utilities-fight-back-against-renewable-energy/

October 2, 2014

  • Another no-go zone village is re-opened. Tokyo has lifted the evacuation order for part of Kawauchi Village which is inside the mandated exclusion zone. This give unrestricted residence 274 persons in 139 households. Decontamination has been completed, roads have been rebuilt, and utility services have been restored. Local restaurants and other businesses can now be reopened. Of the 274 people allowed to return, only 54 are expected to go home immediately. They have been staying in their residences for the past three months under the “long-stay” provision. Those not returning say it is because not all living conditions, such as local stores and medical facilities, are convenient. Other dissenters say they remain concerned about existing radiation levels being safe. On a related note, another part of the village has been re-designated to prepare for lifting of its evacuation advisory. http://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/english/news/20141001_13.html -- http://jen.jiji.com/jc/eng?g=eco&k=2014093000872

  • A young Fukushima rheumatologist says radiation is not the real health issue. Board-certified Sae Ochi (MPH, PhD) says, “What is happening in the coastal area of Fukushima is not an exceptional situation called radiation. ‘Invisible threats’ are causing health problems almost every day, all over the world.  Ebola, bird-flu, sarin and anthrax attacks also threat social disturbances because of their invisibility.  Unless we learn from the cases in Fukushima to develop more resilience in our society, we may yet again see unnecessary victims suffer if we should ever face a similar threat.” She addresses three major areas of health problems not caused by radiation; the effects of overreaction to the evacuation order, the impact of the evacuation itself, and the concerns caused by child thyroid screenings. Ochi adds that health problems not due to radiation are primarily caused by good intentions on the part of local and national officials being overly cautious. She believes “most of the people who magnify the fear of radiation in Fukushima are good-hearted people who genuinely worry about the children in Fukushima. In the same way, no policies or plans were aimed at harming people: the planning of evacuation zones, order of evacuation and thyroid screening... none of this was done with ill intent…As long as we are trapped in a narrow-minded state, searching for targets of accuse, blame, and criticize, the suffering in Fukushima will only increase and spread.” Her insights are thought-provoking and illuminating. Reading her entire report is highly recommended. http://www.gepr.org/en/contents/20140901-01/

  • Last weekend’s deadly volcano eruption spurs new nuclear fears. Nuclear regulation Authority Chair Shunichi Tanaka says it is “unscientific” to compare the eruption to possible, albeit unlikely eruptions near the Sendai Station in Kagoshima Prefecture. He explained that the volcanic potential near Sendai has been included in the station’s restart requirements, with possible eruptions predicted to be many times worse than what happened this past Saturday with Mount Ontake. Some volcanologists believe that lava flows from the active-but-currently-quiet volcanos near Sendai could stretch as far as 100 kilometers, which could engulf the nuke plant. Because of these concerns, the NRA will upgrade the surveillance system around Sendai. Sendai’s regulations call for complete removal of all fuel from the site if concrete signs of an impending eruption are detected. Kyushu Electric has identified 14 volcanoes within 160 kilometers of the Sendai plant that "may become active in the future" and "cannot be ruled out over the possibility of becoming active volcanoes." However, Kyushu Electric maintains that none would adversely affect Sendai. http://mainichi.jp/english/english/newsselect/news/20141002p2a00m0na009000c.html -- http://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/english/news/nuclear.html

  • Part of the unit #2 suppression chamber (torus) has been inspected and no leaks were found. Using a new, magnetic-wheeled robot, a bottom section of the torus was inspected below the water level in the room. The robot was lowered to the top of the circular chamber and its magnetic wheels allowed it to navigate most of underside of the torus. This proved the new robot could be used to inspect the underside of hard-to-reach places outside the Primary Containment Vessel and possibly find leaks. The entire circumference could not be inspected because the robot lost traction three times as it was climbing the farthest submerged side of the torus. The reason for the problem is being investigated and will lead to device improvement. Another issue is the cloudiness of the water under the torus. The robot’s field of vision is only about 350 millimeters (~14 inches). Regardless, the success of the investigation allows planning to observe the rest of the torus over the next two weeks.  http://www.tepco.co.jp/en/nu/fukushima-np/handouts/2014/images/handouts_140904_04-e.pdf

  • Tepco has an agreement with Sellafield Ltd about Fukushima clean-up. Tepco wants to share expertise with overseas companies having decommissioning experience, like Sellafield. The prospective deal was announced in May, but the final agreement was not inked until September 29th. The contract stipulates the agreement on information exchange, site management, environmental monitoring, radiation protection, and design engineering. http://www.tepco.co.jp/en/nu/fukushima-np/handouts/2014/images/handouts_140930_04-e.pdf

  • Tepco finished the absorbent barrier surrounding the tank that leaked last August. The tank, designated H4, lost about 300 tons of water to the surrounding environment. The tank’s water contained a Strontium activity of 10 million Becquerels per liter. The downstream side (seaward) of the area was excavated and filled to a 20 meter depth with an aggregate of apatite, zeolite, and crushed stone, in order to absorb any Strontium that might be entrained in the groundwater flowing through. 39 aggregate “piles”, each 1.5 meters in diameter, were placed in the ground. Groundwater flow in the area has been measured at about 100 centimeters per day. It is estimated that the groundwater exiting the matrix of “piles” will be much less than 1 Bq/liter for ten years or more. The detailed handout with excellent graphics, explanations, and photo images can be found here… http://www.tepco.co.jp/en/nu/fukushima-np/handouts/2014/images/handouts_140911_05-e.pdf

  • A city 12 kilometers from Sendai Station tries to bar its restart. The two-unit Sendai nukes in Kagoshima Prefecture have met the safety requirements stipulated by the Nuclear Regulation Authority. In order to restart, the plans must be approved by the Kagoshima government and host city Satsumasendai. However, Ichikikushikino City, located southeast of Sendai, has adopted a statement urging the governor to also seek its approval. The alleged reason is a number of Ichikikushikino residents have submitted petitions against the restart. http://english.kyodonews.jp/news/2014/09/314628.html Meanwhile, The NRA says the Sendai units will probably not be restarted before December. The problem is a huge body of paperwork to be reviewed. On Sept. 30th, Kyushu Electric submitted 600 pages of documents covering equipment and devices in use. Additional paperwork for unit #1 will be submitted in the next two weeks. The same amount of pre-operational paperwork for unit #2 will be submitted by the end of October. The NRA must assess the documentation and inspect the new equipment before the station can restart. This will push the restart schedule into December, and may hold things up until early next year. http://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/english/news/nuclear.html

  • Tokyo explains its landowner compensation plan for rural waste storage to Futaba and Okuma. The Environment Ministry met with about 150 interested parties on Monday. It was the first in a series of sessions aimed at outlining compensation plans for landowners. Fukushima Prefecture has approved the facility plans in principle, but getting the people who own the land to agree might be another story. Ministry officials said they want to buy the land at around half of its pre-accident value. Housing compensation will depend on the age of buildings. Tokyo says landowners who decline to sell but allow usage of their property would be paid 70 percent of the purchase price. The prefecture says they will cover the difference between pre-accident value and current worth. Many of the landowners in attendance did not like the plan. http://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/english/news/20140930_10.html

September 29, 2014

  • Decision Sciences International Corporation (DSIC) will send its Muon tracking system to F. Daiichi. Toshiba has awarded the contract to DSIC making the system’s use official. The technology has been covered in earlier Fukushima Updates, but only as a potential way to locate the damaged cores inside units 1, 2 & 3. The DSIC will design, manufacture and deliver detector and tube arrays that fit into the power plant’s damaged buildings. Company President/CEO Dr. Stanton D. Sloane said, “We are delighted to extend the application of our solution to assist in the recovery of the Fukushima power plant as well as support and secure a safe working environment for personnel.” Muon tracking detectors detect and track muons as they pass through objects. Subtle changes in the trajectory of the muons as they penetrate materials vary with material density. Nuclear materials such as uranium and plutonium are very dense and are relatively easy to find. The information provided by the detectors will assist Toshiba in developing a safe and effective remediation plan. http://www.decisionsciencescorp.com/ds-awarded-toshiba-contract-fukushima-daiichi-nuclear-project/

  • One of the advanced water treatment systems was shut down on Friday. The unit showed cloudiness in the water being processed and was stopped when it could not be cleared up. Operators found a calcium filter in the stream was inadequately filtering out radioactive Strontium. The affected line will remain off until the problem can be verified and subsequently resolved. http://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/english/news/20140927_03.html

  • The work-force at F. Daiichi has doubled since last year. Tepco says an average of 5730 people worked at the site each day between July 2013 and July 2014. This shows that numerous Japanese and international Press reports forecasting an imminent labor shortage were incorrect. Contractors at F. Daiichi say there are more than 10,000 registered workers available. Tepco says it will continue to improve working conditions and reduce radiation levels around the station. http://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/english/news/20140929_09.html

  • Tokyo has drafted legislation to guarantee rural waste storage will end in 30 years. Local acceptance of a storage facility in Okuma and Futaba hinges on irrevocable assurance that the low level materials be gone in no longer than thirty years. The bill maintains that the wastes will be safely stored and subsequently transferred to a permanent site in a timely fashion. It also says new technologies are to be pursued to lower the radioactivity of the collected materials. The legislation needs approval of PM Abe’s Cabinet before submittal to the congress (Diet) for political deliberation. http://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/english/news/nuclear.html

  • Another large antinuclear protest occurred, this time in Kagoshima Prefecture. Organizers say that about 7,500 were gathered to protest the anticipated restart of the two Pressurized Water Reactor plants at Sendai Station. The protest was organized by roughly 90 Kagoshima citizens groups. The main speaker was Naoto Kan, former Prime Minister and current international antinuclear activist. He said, “It is essential to have the city and town governments within a 30-kilometer radius of the plant make clear whether they agree to the restart of the reactors…I will fully support the movement to stop the planned resumption of the reactors.” Former Kawauchi Village (Fukushima Prefecture) official Chikako Nishiyama added, “I want (people) to know about the reality of Fukushima Prefecture. If a precedent is set at the Sendai nuclear power plant, it would encourage a resumption of other nuclear plants. I want to head off the move at any cost.” http://ajw.asahi.com/article/behind_news/politics/AJ201409290044

  • A group of Japanese scientists want the restart of nukes delayed. The Science Council of Japan believes that power companies should be required to build temporary storage facilities for nuclear waste before resuming operation. The Council charges it would be irresponsible to resume operations without securing temporary nuclear waste storage facilities. Current regulations make no such stipulation. The Council can issue its recommendation to the government’s Cabinet Office, but its proposition is not legally binding. http://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/english/news/nuclear.html


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