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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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April 16, 2015
A Fukui Prefecture court issues its second anti-restart injunction in a year. The order is effective immediately. The latest decision, invoked Tuesday, involves Takahama units 3&4, currently expected to be two of the first nukes to restart, perhaps this summer. The panel of judges handing down the ruling was headed by Justice Hideaki Higuchi, who is regarded as a maverick by the Japanese judiciary. Higuchi led the Fukui panel that issued a similar injunction against the restart of Oi units 3&4 last May. Of the dozen or so similar cases tried to date, only Higuchi’s court has found in favor of the antinuclear plaintiffs. Nine local residents from Fukui Prefecture submitted the claim citing allegations such as the Kansai Electric Co. underestimating earthquake magnitude, unreliable safety equipment at the station, and failure to meet Japan’s new safety regulations. The plaintiff’s argue that the reactors “pose a concrete risk of harming personal rights”. Not to be outdone by claimant rhetoric, Judge Higuchi’s panel said that the new regulations are lax and cannot provide absolute assurance of safety even if they are met. In fact, Higuchi went so far as to say, “The standards lack rationality.” Most of Japan’s Press says this is a severe blow the PM Abe’s desire to get nukes restarted and reduce the nation’s extreme use of imported fossil fuels, which has caused the worst trade deficit in the island nation’s history. It is believed the injunction will probably delay restarts at Takahama, regardless of whether or not the decision will stand up to appeals. http://the-japan-news.com/news/article/0002081116 -- http://www.japantoday.com/category/national/view/court-issues-injunction-to-halt-restart-of-takahama-reactors -- http://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/english/news/20150414_37.html
The Fukui court order has been widely criticized as being irrational and non-scientific. It has become clear to the Japanese Press that presiding Judge Higuchi has rammed his personal “zero risk” agenda through the Fukui court. Former Tokyo high court judge and current Chou Law School Professor Jun Masuda says, “It seems the judge has already had the idea of demanding absolute safety from the beginning. Judges are not experts on nuclear power plants, so it is imperative that they humbly pay attention to scientific knowledge. I doubt the presiding judge took that into consideration.” Japan News (Yomiuri Shimbun) adds that during the case’s examination period, the panel of judges was twice asked by Kansai Electric Company to solicit the written opinions of experts. Both times, the request was rejected. Clearly, Higuchi and his judicial cronies have no interest in educating themselves concerning nuclear safety. Japan News concludes, “We have no choice but to call it an irrational decision,” and, “Such a stance seeking zero risk is unrealistic.” The News also points out that the Takahama injunction flies in the face of Japan’s 1992 Supreme Court decision that the question of nuclear safety is too scientific, technical and comprehensive to be decided by anyone other than actual experts. Even the decidedly antinuclear Mainichi Shimbun said, “It would be too excessive if the restart of any nuclear plant were disapproved to pursue zero risk.” In addition, many Press outlets say the lack of credibility displayed by the Fukui court could undermine public trust in the judicial system across Japan. Adding to the cacophony of criticism, the Nuclear Regulatory Authority Chairman, Shunichi Tanaka, took exception to Higuchi’s unfounded attack on the agency’s safety standards, saying the court injunction “contained a number of factual errors,” and "I take the injunction as an indication that our work has not been fully understood." http://the-japan-news.com/news/article/0002082892 -- http://the-japan-news.com/news/article/0002083023 -- http://mainichi.jp/english/english/perspectives/news/20150415p2a00m0na003000c.html -- http://jen.jiji.com/jc/eng?g=eco&k=2015041500718 (Comment – this writer cannot believe that Judge Higuchi seriously believes the injunction will stop restarts. In my honest, unexpurgated opinion, this is merely a delay tactic by an antinuclear-friendly judge. I believe Higuchi has done his historical antinuclear homework and found that similar judicial tactics have been successful in delaying nuclear power plant operations since Three Mile Island in 1979. The injunction is not an example of ignorance or stupidity. It is a cold, calculated move that will reverberate throughout Japan. Using the Fukui decision as a model, we can expect similar judicial maneuvers with many, if not most, future attempts to restart nukes)
Not to take the setback lying down, Kansai Electric Company appealed the court’s decision the day after it was handed down. Japan News says, “It is reasonable that KEPCO objected to the court decision.” However, the wording of the injunction makes it virtually impossible to restart Takahama units 3&4 before an appeals decision is rendered. Regardless of the outcome of the appeal, the injunction will set back the resumption of operations many months, if not a full year. http://www.jaif.or.jp/en/kansai-electric-appeals-district-court-decision-halting-operation-of-takahama-3-and-4/
A second shape-shifting robot entered F. Daiichi unit #1 on Wednesday. The robot is a twin to the one that became stuck during its inspection on last Friday. The second device will follow a different path in order to cover locations other than those already inspected. The first probe collected valuable images in the vessel along with temperature and radiation data, thus the second one is expected to provide a considerable amount of new information. Tepco pointed out that the first robot’s monitoring equipment successfully operated for two days in the high radiation environment inside the unit #1 containment, so it should not be a problem for the second one. http://mainichi.jp/english/english/newsselect/news/20150415p2g00m0dm076000c.html -- http://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/english/news/nuclear.html Tepco’s detailed Press handout can be found here, including radiation levels along the new path being considerably lower than the first robot’s path… http://www.tepco.co.jp/en/nu/fukushima-np/handouts/2015/images/handouts_150416_01-e.pdf The first pictures taken by the second robot can be found here… http://photo.tepco.co.jp/en/date/2015/201504-e/150416-01e.html
Fukushima-phobia is extended to Great Britain. The Independent (UK) reports that “Food produced around the Fukushima nuclear disaster site could be making its way on to British shelves because of loopholes in safety rules,” and that some suspicious products have “already been exported from Japan under the cover of false labelling by fraudsters.” Further, “This raises the prospect of mildly carcinogenic ingredients entering the food system.” The decidedly fear-mongering report even goes so far as to attach a picture of a tsunami-spawned fire at what appears to be a Japanese oil refinery, with the sub-text of “The Fukushima disaster in March 2011 released radiation to the atmosphere – even outside the food-production exclusion zone”. (Deplorable!) A similar scare was raised in Taiwan at the end of March. The Independent cites on a food-safety consultant, Alastair Marke, as supposed proof for their scare-mongering. Marke said, “I suspect what has happened in Taiwan might well have already happened in the UK. Intermediary supply chain middlemen can buy food in bulk and package and label as they like – before shipping them to the UK.” It is important to note that the Independent failed to mention that no fruits, vegetables, rice, or meats from Fukushima Prefecture have exceeded Japan's ridiculously low limit of 100 Becquerels per kilogram for two consecutive years. http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/home-news/food-from-fukushima-could-be-hitting-britains-shelves-through-legal-safety-loophole-10174298.html -- http://www.fukushimaminponews.com/news.html?id=496
Fukushima InFORM, the Canadian Pacific coast monitoring network, has posted its most recent newsletter. It covers their latest monitoring results, including the first shore-detected Fukushima Cesium on Vancouver Island. http://www.icontact-archive.com/gkR_CVldWco6A5tPY8T0FsclY7IdmIeQ#.VS1r0GIMNik.wordpress
Average exposures for rural decontamination workers have been very safe. More than 26,000 people have participated in the prefecture-wide effort between 2011 and 2014. Their average measured exposure was about 0.5 millisieverts per year, which is 1% of Japan’s limit for workers. One cohort comprising 14.6% of the workers got slightly more than 1 mSv in 2013. Regardless, no-one exceeded the 50 mSv national limit for workers. http://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/english/news/nuclear.html [Comment - NHK says 1 mSv per year is the limit for the general public, but this is not correct. The decontamination goal is to reduce annual exposure to below 1 mSv/yr in addition to natural background (~1.5 mSv/yr average across Japan). This goal is not “the annual permissible level for the general public.”] True to its antinuclear form, Japan Times focuses on the exceptions as the most “newsworthy” aspect of the government’s report. The headline reads “Fukushima decontamination workers got up to 13.9 millisieverts of radiation.” This seems to be the highest recorded exposure for a single worker. The number of workers that exceeded 10 msv in a year was 34…about 0.1% of the entire cohort. In fact, the main body of the Times article focuses on the sub-cohorts that had exposures approaching or exceeding the 1 mSv/yr decontamination goal. http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2015/04/16/national/science-health/fukushima-decontamination-workers-got-up-to-13-9-millisieverts-of-radiation/#.VS-lY6McQdU
April 13, 2015
The shape-shifting robot inspection inside unit #1 containment began Friday, then stopped moving after about three hours of use. In its snake configuration, the robot was inserted into a pipe running from a relatively low radiation location outside the PCV, through the thick steel and concrete primary containment wall, and into the inner part of the PCV. Once inside, it was slowly lowered down to the walkway that surrounds the reactor vessel pedestal. While being lowered, the robot was re-shaped into its rectangular configuration. Once on the walkway’s grating, it began to slowly move and transmit data back to its operators. After moving about two-thirds of its planned traverse on the walkway, it stopped for an unknown reason. The device continued to transmit pictures, temperature readings, and radiation levels. Tepco says the reason for the problem is probably not the detected 10 sievert per hour radiation level because the robot was designed to handle much higher exposures. On Monday, Tepco said the robot or control cable may have hung up on something on the walkway and could be freed, so on Sunday they decided to sever the cable and abandon it. The robot’s camera and monitoring devices operated continually until the connecting cable was cut. The first Tepco link (below) show pictures and video from inside the PCV, depicting debris on the walkway at times. Monday’s detailed Press handout is the last link. In it, the company speculates that a fallen pipe and/or displaced grating may have caused the robot to become stuck at a “narrow point” along the planned path. http://www.nbcnews.com/news/world/japans-fukushima-nuclear-plant-reactor-examined-snake-shaped-robot-n339091 -- http://mainichi.jp/english/english/newsselect/news/20150411p2a00m0na005000c.html -- http://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/english/news/20150413_02.html -- http://photo.tepco.co.jp/en/date/2015/201504-e/150413-01e.html -- http://www.tepco.co.jp/en/nu/fukushima-np/handouts/2015/images/handouts_150413_01-e.pdf
A government group proposes three methods for melted fuel removal. The Nuclear Damage Compensation and Decommissioning Facilitation Corp (NDF) advised Tepco on possible methodologies associated with decommissioning F. Daiichi. NDF said the preferred method would be to fill the primary containments and reactor vessels with water, reducing radiation exposures to workers to a manageable level and minimizing the possibility of radiation releases. However, leaks from the containments, both confirmed and suspected, could make this infeasible. NDF Vice President Hajimu Yamana said, “The water-covered method is desirable from the viewpoint of safety. But it is not certain whether we can completely prevent water leakages from the containment vessels.” Thus, NDF presented two alternative “airborne” possibilities. One would be to fill only the bottom of the containment and lift the corium (melted fuel and inner reactor components) out of the water and through the air before placing it in a protective container. The other would be to drill a large-enough horizontal hole through the containment and RPV pedestal to remove the corium. In both cases, personnel exposure would be more than with the preferred option, and possibility of a release of radioactive material would be greater. http://ajw.asahi.com/article/0311disaster/fukushima/AJ201504100053
Fukushima Prefecture will use electronic data to better monitor the health of evacuees. Social workers keeping an eye on the currently 71,000 Tokyo-mandated refugees in temporary housing will be able to electronically document their mental and physical condition, later this year. The prefecture will be divided into five zones with 70 social workers per zone. Tandem teams will visit the homes and transmitted to a data bank where other social and medical experts can access it quickly. Suspected medical or psychological problems can then be expeditiously addressed by local medical institutions, municipal healthcare centers, the Fukushima Center for Disaster Mental Health and/or other appropriate organizations. http://www.fukushimaminponews.com/news.html?id=492
More insight into the non-impact of Pacific Ocean contamination on North America. Oregon’s Statesman Journal responded to five reader questions, with the help of Wood Hole Oceanographic researcher Ken Buesseler. One is why report on something that poses no harm to anyone? In response, The Journal says Fukushima radiation has been blamed for everything from starfish die-offs to seal tumors…none of which are possible at the trivial radiation levels found in the sea. Buesseler explains, "The lack of information leads to some very alarming claims. I think low numbers are just as important as high numbers." Buesseler adds that he is not concerned about the isotopic concentrations now in the sea, but he does worry about the hundreds of thousands of tons of wastewater stored at F. Daiichi containing radioactive Strontium. He says a massive earthquake might rupture the tanks and dump the Sr-90 into the sea, which could have health repercussions. He also answers why comparisons are made to x-ray diagnostics when we’re dealing with potentially ingestible Cesium isotopes in water. Buesseler says, "The bottom line is that the drinking water standard in the U.S. is 7,400 Becquerels per cubic meter (Bq/m3), and that would be consuming the water every day." The combined Cesium levels in the sea are about 6.5 Bq/m3 and Cesium flushes through sea life rapidly and has little accumulation, thus "I don't see how that could be of any concern." http://www.statesmanjournal.com/story/tech/science/environment/2015/04/08/five-questions-fukushima/25498007/
Fukushima InFORM also reports there has been no Cesium uptake in Pacific kelp. Kelp Watch 2015, home-based in California, analyze samples taken near the Pacific coastline of Canada. No radioactive isotopes from Fukushima were detected in kelp growing at sampling sites spread along our Pacific coast during the first three months of this year. http://fukushimainform.ca/2015/04/12/kelp-watch-2015-most-recent-results-looking-for-fukushima-contamination/ Kelp Watch 2015 explains that Kelp may look like vegetation, but it is actually a type of seaweed. Seaweed is actually algae found only in saltwater. Like most algae, it uses photosynthesis to provide food for itself and consumer sea life. Kelp is believed to be a prime species for detecting uptake and concentration of Cesium and Strontium isotopes. Some Fukushima Iodine was detected in the kelp after the Fukushima releases began, carried across the Pacific by the weather and deposited in the sea. The Iodine was gone after eight months because of its relatively short eight day half-life. It is felt that once water-borne Cesium reaches the California coast, the Kelp should show some uptake and concentration. http://kelpwatch.berkeley.edu/why-kelp
April 9, 2015
On Tuesday, Woods Hole Oceanographic Inst. And Canada’s Fukushima InFORM announced the first traces of Fukushima Cesium detected at the North American shoreline of the Pacific. The co-announcement spawned considerable Press coverage in Japan. The amounts detected are 1.4 Becquerels per ton of water (~0.0014 Bq/liter) for Cesium 134, and 5.8 Bq/ton (~0.0058 Bq/l) for Cs-137. For comparison, Canada’s limit for drinking water is 10,000 Bq/ton. Below are summations the respective Woods Hole and InFORM announcements, followed by examples of the type of coverage given by the Japanese Press. Links are provided.
Woods Hole says the detected Fukushima Cesium is below the safe limit for drinking water. Program Chief Ken Buessler said this is not unexpected, "Today's report is not alarming at all. It's kind of to be expected. We knew four years later it would be reaching our shoreline, and we had seen it offshore, and these numbers are quite small. As an example, even if they were twice as high and I was to swim there every day for an entire year, the dose I would be exposed to is a thousand times less than a single dental X-ray.” The discovery was made from a sample taken at Ucluecet, on the west coast of Vancouver Island, on February 19th. http://www.cbc.ca/news/technology/fukushima-radiation-measured-on-b-c-shore-for-1st-time-1.3022565
InFORM says the sample from Ucluecet and its analysis were actually part of its monitoring program. They agree with Woods Hole that the discovery was not unexpected. InFORM added, “These levels of 137Cs and 134Cs are well below internationally established levels that might represent a danger to human or environmental health.” They also point out that the detected level of Cesium is within the expected range. http://fukushimainform.ca/2015/04/06/fukushima-contamination-detected-at-shoreline-in-british-columbia/
Some of the Japanese Press makes their coverage on the discovery objective. NHK World says the detected levels are “well below the internationally set level at which human and marine life can be affected.” Jiji Press says “The detected amount of radioactivity is ‘well below internationally established levels of concern to humans and marine life,’ according to the institute [Woods Hole].” http://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/english/news/20150407_16.html -- http://jen.jiji.com/jc/eng?g=eco&k=2015040700346
Other Japanese Press sites make statements seemingly intended to maintain public radiation angst. For example, Japan Today says the levels are “too low to pose a significant threat to human or marine life”, meaning that some risk allegedly remains. Perhaps the most provocative spin comes from Jim Corbett’s Fukushima Update, which says, “those of us in the alternative media have been warning about this for years and yet the msm [main stream media] is still taking the ‘nothing to see here’ position even when the proof has been handed to them on a silver platter. And what’s the lesson we can learn from this for today? Throw out your TV and don’t eat the fish!” Fukushima Update is published out of Tokyo, and touts itself as having “neither a pro- nor anti-nuclear agenda and no axes to grind”. http://www.japantoday.com/category/national/view/radiation-from-fukushima-disaster-detected-off-canadas-coast -- http://fukushimaupdate.com/radiation-from-fukushima-has-reached-the-bc-coast/
Now... back to Fukushima.
Tepco considers evaporation and deep geological release for tritiated water. Hundreds of thousands of tons of contaminated water have been successfully run through the multi-step radionuclide removal processes at F. Daiichi. The only radioisotope that remains in these liquids is Tritium. Although biologically innocuous at even the highest concentrations found at the plant site, fear of radiation and its significant negative impact on the market for seafood has local fishermen fighting against releasing the harmless waters into the sea. A general lack of trust in the company and the government exacerbate the situation. Tepco has already considered the costly process of stripping the Tritium from the waters using a technology developed by the Kurion Company. Now, natural evaporation and deep geological release are being pondered, in addition. But, experts experienced in these matters have their doubts, especially with the evaporation notion. Tepco’s American advisor Dale Klein says the evaporation method was successfully used after Three Mile Island, but the volumes involved were much, much less than with Fukushima, "They have huge volumes of water so they cannot evaporate it like they did at Three Mile Island. If they did it would likely be evaporated, go out over the ocean, condense and fall back as rainwater. There's no safety enhancement." He adds that merely building more and more tanks is not the answer, so Tepco must eventually make an unpopular decision on what to do with the waters. US NRC Chairman Stephen Burns is visiting Japan and has inspected the situation at F. Daiichi. Burns agreed with Klein, saying, “I think they [Tepco] will need to make that decision.” http://www.reuters.com/article/2015/04/08/japan-fukushima-water-idINKBN0MZ0X620150408
Japan’s Business Federation (Keidanren) calls for up to 25% nuke generation. Keidanren surveyed 169 companies in January and February, with 88 replies. They found that 80% expect to lose profits if the current increases in electricity rates continue. To stop this foreboding trend, the companies said the government should introduce energy-saving products and expedite the restart of nuclear plants. What might happen if the current cost-trend continues? 56% said they would have to reduce domestic operations and 43% said they would consider moving overseas. http://www.jaif.or.jp/en/keidanren-survey-businesses-affected-adversely-by-rising-power-rates/
Industry Minister Miyazawa doubts the goals for renewable input to the energy mix. The Environment Ministry has said that renewables can provide up to 35% of Japan’s energy demand in the future. Miyazawa has his doubts because of the high cost of electricity produced from renewables. The Environment Ministry has cautioned, however, that their projection has not considered the feasibility of Japan producing the kind of technology needed to achieve the 35% goal. http://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/english/news/nuclear.html
Tepco announces their newest robot will soon examine inside the unit #1 Primary Containment Vessel. It will be the first visual, thermal, and radioactive survey within the PCV. Radiation levels inside the PCV prohibit people from going inside, so a special robot that can change shapes to fit through tight confines has been developed. The robot will take its snake-like form and pass through a pipe to get inside the containment. It will then transform to its rectangular configuration and move around the reactor vessel pedestal on the first floor personnel grating. It will cover about 270o of the space. A Tepco official says the robot will not be able to go inside the pedestal below the RPV because the access is under water. The linked Tepco handout has pictures of the robot and numerous graphics to show what is planned. The linked Mainichi Shimbun article is representative of coverage by the Japanese Press. http://www.tepco.co.jp/en/nu/fukushima-np/handouts/2015/images/handouts_150406_01-e.pdf -- http://mainichi.jp/english/english/newsselect/news/20150407p2g00m0dm031000c.html
Nearly 40% of Fukushima Prefecture’s new radiation monitors experienced start-up problems last week. Two of the glitches resulted in devices reading about 1,000 times higher than what was actually the case. The two are located in Minamisoma and Date. It is not felt that the devices themselves were the cause of the problem. Rather, the data transferal system was at fault. The prefecture says they waited on reporting the readings because the system was in a test phase and they wanted to see whether or not the fata was reliable. Due to the recent furor over Tepco’s non-reporting of radiation fluctuations in F. Daiichi rainwater run-off, a prefectural representative said, "We thought we would make a public announcement after investigating the cause [of the high readings]. We should have done so at the time we were first aware of the abnormality." http://mainichi.jp/english/english/newsselect/news/20150408p2a00m0na010000c.html
An old nuclear accident worst-case scenario is unearthed in Tokyo. The Foreign Ministry had a worst-case-scenario study run in 1984 after Israel had bombed a reactor construction site in Iran. The speculative conclusion was that if a similar bombing occurred on a Japanese nuke and caused a prolonged full-station blackout, Hydrogen generated by the overheated core could cause an explosion that could compromise the primary containment, potentially killing 18,000 people due to radiation exposure of there was no evacuation. Under Freedom of Information, the Tokyo Shimbun got a copy of the study and posted on it Wednesday. The newspaper alleges that the findings were kept secret to prevent provoking antinuclear sentiment in the public. Hideyuki Ban of the antinuclear Citizens’ Nuclear Information Center said, “The report should have not been held secret. [The government] should publicize it and consider how it can protect [nuclear power plants].” http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2015/04/08/national/1984-report-warned-attack-nuclear-power-plant/#.VSUj6KMcQdU
Discover Magazine asks if low-level radiation is good for people. The article focuses on the phenomenon of hormesis with low level radiation exposure. Evidence showing a clear threshold level of exposure exists, below which there are no biologically observable adverse effects (NOAEL). However, exposures below NOAEL show slight, statistically-evident beneficial effects. The Discover article explains the possibility in understandable fashion. http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/crux/2015/04/06/small-radiation/#.VSWvLFyWEyG
April 6, 2015
Nahara evacuees can now stay at home 24 hours/day. Today, Tokyo began allowing interested town evacuees to stay at home around the clock, in preparation to lifting the evacuation order. The measure will last three months. Roughly 7,500 Nara residents have been living elsewhere since the 2011 order was mandated. It is not known how many will take advantage of the opportunity, but the initial numbers are disappointing. So far, Tokyo says 182 0f the 2,700 households have applied for the allowance. Many town residents say they are still concerned about radiation exposure and are waiting until all infrastructure has been restored. One returnee said there are no medical facilities or stores in operation, as yet. http://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/english/news/nuclear.html
Oil Price.com says a return to nukes may be Japan’s only option. While new safety regulations and strong public antinuclear sentiment make the revival difficult, Japan’s ruling party realizes that ending the current moratorium could solve several pressing problems. In general, by having nuclear supply 20% of Japan’s electricity, the current trade deficit will literally vanish. In 2010, the country had a trade surplus of $65 billion, but that reversed to a $112 billion deficit in 2013. For example, since the start of the moratorium, Japan has spent $270 billion on coal; a 58% increase. At this point, Japan is the world’s largest importer of LNG, second biggest importer of coal, and stands third with oil imports. Whether or not the government’s 20% goal will be reached remains to be seen. http://oilprice.com/Alternative-Energy/Nuclear-Power/A-Return-To-Nuclear-May-Be-Japans-Only-Option.html
The Industry Ministry is thinking about a renewables goal to surpass nukes by 2030. While the ministry’s nuke goal is 20%, some officials believe nuclear generation will be greater than 20% by that year. In 2013, renewables accounted for 10.7% of Japan’s electricity, with most from hydro-electric. The government has financially boosted wind and solar, and is considering doing something similar for geothermal and biomass. http://jen.jiji.com/jc/eng?g=eco&k=2015040600613
Radioactive water was found on a waste container lid at F. Daiichi. Although the Press is calling it yet another leak, it appears that it is merely a pool of from either the container vent opening, rainwater, or condensation. There are roughly 670 filled liquid waste material containers inside a storage building at the nuke station, each with a volume of about 3.2 cubic meters. The suspect liquid was first speculated to be a leak from the container, but it was subsequently found that there was no seepage. The ~6.5 gallons of liquid were found to have about 3 million Becquerels per liter of Beta activity, and 8,700 Bq/l of Cesium. These levels are more than ten-thousand times lower than raw wastewater from the plant basements. Later in the day, another container was found to have about a liter of water on its lid. There was no release of radioactive water outside the storage building. http://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/english/news/nuclear.html
Half of the landowners in Okuma and Futaba are unknown. The roadblock to 30-year storage of rural low level wastes is gaining the land to build the 16km2 facility which will overlap both towns. There are roughly 2,400 owners of the property, and gaining access to the land is a huge headache. To date, negotiations between Tokyo and landowners have been at an impasse. The problem is exacerbated by the government being unable to find the about 1,200 of the owners. Government sources say the problems are two-fold. On one hand, many evacuees from the towns have been tough to contact. But, a more pressing issue is that many of the property deeds have not been renewed for more than 150 years, so identification of current ownership is very difficult. http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2015/04/05/national/half-of-owners-of-fukushima-land-for-site-to-store-radioactive-soil-are-unknown/#.VSEhUaMcQdU -- http://english.kyodonews.jp/news/2015/04/345343.html
Tokyo is hesitant to charge Tepco for voluntary evacuee rent compensation. Under the Disaster Relief Act, both government-mandated and voluntary evacuees have been provided rent-free apartments as temporary residences. Tepco pays covers rent for Tokyo-ordered evacuees, but Tepco will not pay for voluntary evacuee apartments. It seems the law says the company at-fault must eventually pay for all government costs with respect to recovery. But, the issue of cost recovery for voluntary evacuees is unclear because it has not happened before. The Industry Ministry agrees with Tepco on the matter, so Tokyo has been footing the bill. It seems both Tokyo and Fukushima Prefecture eventually want to charge Tepco for the costs, but cannot agree on which government should be the one to try and make it happen. The total being spent on this is about $300 million per year. The Dispute Reconciliation Committee might be who resolves the dilemma. They have found in favor of the voluntary evacuees in the past. They have awarded voluntary evacuees lump-sum payments of over $1,000 each for psychological distress, except for children and pregnant women who have been paid a lump-sum of about $7,000 each. http://mainichi.jp/english/english/newsselect/news/20150404p2a00m0na014000c.html
A Tokyo Professor calls for logic concerning Fukushima. Yasuhiko Fujii, Professor Emeritus at Tokyo Institute of Technology, says the nuke accident has caused significant negativity towards nuclear energy in Japan. However, he argues that “all parties involved in nuclear development… truly believe humanity cannot do without nuclear energy.” He acknowledges that the social and political environment towards nukes is “vastly different” from when nuclear development began in the 1950s, but it is essential to “sort out the logic of entangled arguments” in order to have people understand the critical need. Fujii’s lengthy posting with the Japan Atomic Industrial Forum covers several topics. First, he stresses that the purpose of nuclear energy is to secure peace and prosperity. Then, he explains Japan’s Atomic Energy Basic Law of 1955. The focus of the Law was to insure that nukes would never be used for military purposes. Another issue is what Fujii calls “The Ohi Judgment”, referring to a Fukui District Court decision stating that nukes violate citizen's personal rights. He says that the judgment overlooks the fact that a secure, stable, emission-free source of electricity is a “central tenet” of personal rights in the modern world. Next, Fujii examines what has been purported as the “societal causes” of the F. Daiichi accident. He counters that he finds it difficult to blame an entire culture for what happened. Fujii also addresses the successful survival of the Onagawa station that experienced much worse quake shaking and a tsunami than F. Daiichi, which he says was because of sound engineering and design, but not because of luck. Finally, he looks at the public reaction to the Fukushima accident, believing that over-reaction has been the rule and because of it nukes might someday disappear from Japan. http://www.jaif.or.jp/en/logic-and-sentiment-over-nuclear-energy-in-japan/
April 2, 2015
Tepco’s American advisor Dale Klein says tritiated water is safe to release. Klein is the former Chairman of the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission. He says, “Most people don’t know what tritium is, so what they will think about is that it’s bad, something that’s really dangerous. But tritium is an element that we know a lot about. It can be released safely into the ocean. We know worldwide what the safe limit for tritium release is.” Tepco says much of the wastewater stored at F. Daiichi contains 1-5 million Becquerels per liter of Tritium. Japan’s limit for unrestricted release is 60,000 Bq/l, so much of the wastewater would have to be diluted. Tepco is awaiting the decision of a government panel on what to do with the several hundred thousand gallons which are already processed, but contain Tritium. Klein said he understands the issue of a release “is intensely emotional” with local fishermen, but he feels they will eventually agree to let it happen. Klein also said that the news media’s role in covering Tepco and the government is indispensable, but, “I can tell you it isn’t always fun to be on the receiving end [of the scrutiny]”. http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2015/03/31/national/former-u-s-nuclear-chief-says-tritium-water-at-fukushima-no-1-can-safely-be-dumped-in-sea/#.VRr0T6McQdW -- http://www.tepco.co.jp/en/press/corp-com/release/2015/1249327_6844.html (Comment – This writer has no idea where the 1-5 million Bq/l numbers have come from. Regular testing of the raw waters in the turbine building basements register about 630,000 Bq/l of Tritium. Regardless, even at 5 million Bq/l, someone would have to drink nearly two gallons of the basement water to reach the lowest amount of Tritium ever shown to cause actual, but non-lethal harm…37,000,000 Bq/l. But, the problem is not the Tritium itself. The real issue is a nigh-mortal fear of radiation that grips millions, if not tens of millions, of Japanese. This fear has its historical roots in the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945… the core reason why the Hiroshima Syndrome runs rampant through the island nation, inflicting significant psychological harm.)
The IAEA will investigate the Fukushima rainwater run-off issue. On Monday, the International Atomic Energy Agency announced they will send a mission to Japan April 17-21 at the request of Tokyo. The reason is the mildly radioactive run-off that occurs when it rains at F. Daiichi. Tepco has been aware of the situation for a year, but only reported on it when a drainage ditch monitor alarmed last month. Tepco has been castigated my local fishermen and blasted by the Japanese Press for not publicly disclosing the relatively minor fluctuations in the run-off earlier. The IAEA will look into the situation and the Press says they will discuss how relevant information should be disclosed to the public when any trouble hits the plant. http://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/english/news/nuclear.html
A former British safety expert becomes Tepco’s Chief Nuclear Safety Officer. Dr. John Crofts will be the first foreign executive with any Japanese utility. He has spent the past two years as advisor to the Company’s Board of Directors. His move to the executive level will be effective today. However, he will not take on his new Safety Officer position until it is approved by the Nuclear Regulation Authority. Crofts said, "The last two years have been a deeply rewarding experience, and I very much appreciate the trust the company has placed in me. I look forward to the challenges ahead and to helping TEPCO continue implementation of the Nuclear Safety Reform Plan." Deputy Chair Lady Barbara Judge, also from Britain, said, "Dr. Crofts has done a superb job in creating the NSOO [Nuclear Safety Oversight Office] and making it a truly effective instrument in TEPCO's growing embrace of safety culture. Giving him executive authority to implement the recommendations the NSOO makes will help TEPCO take the important next steps on its safety journey. I congratulate both John and TEPCO on this appointment." http://www.tepco.co.jp/en/press/corp-com/release/2015/1249307_6844.html
Tepco announces its new Fukushima meal service center to the Press. The two-story facility is 9km southwest of F. Daiichi, in Okuma Town. It is scheduled to begin operation by mid-April. The center will cook warm meals for the thousands of workers at F. Daiichi. Currently, about 7,000 bring in their own meals in lunch boxes and/or prepared packaging, every day. The new facility will hand-prepare as many as 3,000 lunches daily, and as many other meals as needed throughout the day. The food will be meticulously prepared in the facility kitchen, loaded into insulated boxes, and transported to the worksite in food-service trucks. The meal service center will employ 95 people, 19 of which are from Futaba County. This will surely improve the F. Daiichi work environment and worker morale. It is planned to use Fukushima-produced cooking ingredients in the hope that it will dispel harmful, unfounded rumors about locally-produced foods and the safety of the prefecture’s work environment. Further, the center will be opened to local schools for tours, again in the interest of quieting harmful rumors. A pictures and graphics of the center are contained in the attached link. http://www.tepco.co.jp/en/nu/fukushima-np/handouts/2015/images/handouts_150331_01-e.pdf
Minamisoma residents plan yet another lawsuit, this time against the Tokyo government. They allege that lifting of evacuation advisories endanger their lives because of supposedly high radiation levels. Specifically, removing the advisories allegedly violates the government’s Law on Special Measures Concerning Nuclear Emergency Preparedness, which states that its purpose is to “protect the lives, bodies and properties of citizens from a nuclear disaster.” The attorney who will represent the plaintiffs says the government arbitrarily raised the annual dose limit from one to 20 millisieverts per year. Lawyer Kenji Fukuda said, “ “The government has selfishly raised the limit on annual public radiation exposure from 1 millisievert set before the nuclear crisis to 20 millisieverts, having residents return to their homes still exposed to high doses of radiation. This is an illegal act that violates the residents’ right to a healthy environment guaranteed by the Constitution and international human rights laws.” One government official responded, “With the radiation levels [20 mSv/yr] unlikely to have a significant effect on the residents’ health, we have called off the advisories by going through legal procedures.” On the other hand, chief plaintiff Shuichi Kanno, age 74, said, “Radiation levels have even increased in some areas. There is no way our children and grandchildren will be returning to their homes like this.” http://ajw.asahi.com/article/0311disaster/fukushima/AJ201504010062 (Comment – Either the attorney for the plaintiffs has not done his homework, or is perpetrating a bold-faced fabrication. There was no official annual limit on exposure in Japan prior to 3/11/11. In addition, the 1 mSv/yr level is a long-term goal for decontamination purposes, not a legal limit on exposure to residents.)
March 30, 2015
F. Daiichi unit #2 will have high-resolution Muon tomography. Scientists from Los Alamos National Laboratory and Toshiba showed the new device to the Tokyo news media on Friday. Muon detectors, each measuring 64m2 will record muons before and after they pass through the reactor. Some of the muons will alter their paths due to the high-density materials inside the primary containment, and the differences between the before and after detectors will provide an image inside the structure. The scientists say resolution with the new device is three times greater than with the much smaller one currently installed on unit #1. It is planned to set up and operated the technology on unit #2 later this year. http://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/english/news/nuclear.html
Tepco discovers fuel pool gate doors out of position in unit #3. Officials say that both iron doors in the Spent Fuel Pool gate have shifted, probably because the fuel handling bridge falling into the pool due to the explosion in March, 2011. Part of the machine continues to rest on the gate. There is no leakage out of the SFP. Tepco says that before the machine can be removed to facilitate transfer of the 566 used fuel bundles from the pool, they must be sure that its movement will not cause leakage from the SPF. Whether or not this will delay the start of fuel removal by the end of June is speculative. http://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/english/news/nuclear.html -- http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2015/03/27/national/debris-poses-risk-spent-fuel-pool-gate-fukushima-1s-reactor-3-tepco/#.VRVvFaMcQdV
Tepco says it will disclose all data on radiation levels at F. Daiichi. In addition, all of it will be reviewed regularly by a third party. This could double the already-considerable amount of data posted to date. http://english.kyodonews.jp/news/2015/03/344361.html
Two experts find that radiation exposures from Fukushima isotopes in the Pacific will not cause health damage. Researchers Pavel Povinec and Katsumi Hirose found that exposures from the ingestion of Pacific Ocean seafood, shellfish, and seaweed are “below levels when any health damage of the Japanese and world population could be expected.” They explained that exposure from ingestion of radio-cesium and radio-strontium with fish caught in the Pacific Ocean in 2012–2013 is considerably more that pre-Fukushima levels for cesium and strontium, but it is actually equivalent to the consumption of natural Polonium-210 in fish, and 10-times lower than with the consumption of natural Po-210 in shellfish. http://www.nature.com/srep/2015/150312/srep09016/full/srep09016.html#/introduction
An exclusion zone town holds a community festival. Nahara, which actually south of Fukushima Daini and lies between 10-to-20 kilometers south of F. Daiichi, held the large-scale event in the town proper on March 21st. Organizers said they wanted residents to see the progress of recovery as a group, rather than when individuals came for home visits. It is hoped the festival will encourage residents to move back. http://www.fukushimaminponews.com/news.html?id=487 (Comment – Nahara has a roughly 10 kilometer stretch of coastline that was surely devastated by the tsunami of 2011. However, there has been no mention of the condition of the tsunami-destroyed part of the community, and I can find no pictures of it. Yet another example of the invisible, hypothetical aftermath of the Fukushima accident taking precedent over the actual aftermath of the quake/tsunami.)
A recent Fukushima 4th anniversary article contains an important graphic on protective measures along the Pacific shoreline. Nippom.com ran a comprehensive review of the contaminated water situation at F. Daiichi last Thursday with the headline “Contaminated Water Prevents Decommissioning: No Fundamental Solution in Sight”. By scrolling about half-way down the attached link, we find a graphic entitled “Contamination Countermeasures at Fukushima Daiichi”. The depiction clearly shows where the future underground frozen wall will be located, and the existing impermeable wall that has been built along the shore, inside the inner port area (quay). It shows that all groundwater drains the Press routine reports as release points to the sea are inside the impermeable off-shore wall. http://www.nippon.com/en/features/h00100/
The Japan Times calls for punishment of Tepco for the recent rainwater runoff issue. The editorial says Tepco admitted they did not report the mildly radioactive runoff for nearly a year, and should be held accountable for it. The Times says, “In the 15 days since Tepco finally confessed, have investigators raided its Tokyo headquarters? Have regulators demanded that heads roll? Has Prime Minister Shinzo Abe used his bully pulpit to demand accountability from the company that gave the world its worst nuclear crisis since Chernobyl?” Because none of this has happened, the newspaper goes on to say, “It was all for show. Abe’s government never intervened, and Tepco stayed in charge. Four years to the day since the earthquake, Fukushima is still leaking; 120,000 people remain displaced; and Tepco’s opacity and incompetence are unchanged.” The Times calls for “at the very least” senior management to be fired without pensions and face legal charges. In addition, “The Company should also be nationalized” since taxpayers are already “bearing the costs of Tepco’s negligence anyway”. Finally, the Prime Minister should bring this “egregious offender to justice”. http://www.japantimes.co.jp/opinion/2015/03/13/commentary/japan-commentary/its-time-to-punish-tepco/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=its-time-to-punish-tepco#.VRmA_KMcQdX (Comment - It should be noted that Tepco has already been nationalized, for all intents and purposes. The government is the majority shareholder of the company, Tokyo loans nearly more than $200 million per month to cover the generous evacuee compensation payments, and Tepco can literally do nothing in their nuclear division withourt getting formal approval from the Nuclear Regulation Authority.)