Fukushima 55...7/11/13-7/29/13

July 29, 2013

  • Tokyo Electric Co. says water inside a cabling tunnel from F. Daiichi unit #2 is highly contaminated. Tepco’s analyses show 2.35 billion Becquerels per liter of radioactive Cesium and 8.7 million Bq/liter of Tritium. Total radioactivity from the other 60-odd isotopes in the water is 750 million Bq/liter. The company believes the water has been in the tunnel since April 2011 when a significant leak into it was stopped. Because the half-lives are long enough, there has been little reduction in the contained radioactivity over the past 2+ years. A half-life (t1/2) is the amount of time needed for radioactivity of a substance to drop by one-half. Cesium-134’s t1/2 is a little over 2 years, Cs-137’s t1/2 is about 30 years, and Tritium’s is 12 years. Thus, it is possible the analyzed tunnel activity is residual from the 4/11 outflow. Tepco and the Nuclear Regulatory Authority say it is also possible that the groundwater contamination found this month comes from seepage out of the tunnel. Today, the NRA has ordered Tepco to drain all cabling tunnels that run out of the four still-flooded turbine basements at the nuke station. The agency believes this will stop the contaminating of the groundwater beneath the power complex. The NRA feels water may be sseping through the gravel floors of the tunnels and mixing contamination into the groundwater. Tepco says they will use chemical injections to solidify the gravel beds and underlying soils. Tepco will run the waters drained from the tunnels through the same isotopic removal processes now being used on the turbine basement waters. Whether or not basement waters continue to enter the tunnels will be determined when the tunnels are drained. http://www.tepco.co.jp/en/press/corp-com/release/2013/1229300_5130.html -- http://jen.jiji.com/jc/eng?g=eco&k=2013072800100 -- http://mainichi.jp/english/english/newsselect/news/20130727p2a00m0na008000c.html -- http://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/english/news/20130729_27.html
  • Tepco’s foreign nuclear consultants have criticized the company for lack of public transparency. Dale Klein, former head of the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission, said “This action regarding the water contamination demonstrates a lack of conservative decision-making process. It also appears that you are not keeping the people of Japan informed. These actions indicate that you don’t know what you are doing… you do not have a plan and that you are not doing all you can to protect the environment and the people. We would like to express our frustrations in your recent activities regarding the water contamination. These events detract from the progress that you have made on your clean-up and reform for the Fukushima plant.” Klein dismissed allegations that the incident was a “cover-up”, however, explaining that Tepco waited too long to communicate what they had found. Barbara Judge, former chair of Britain’s Atomic Energy Authority, was also upset. She said she was “disappointed and distressed” over Tepco’s delayed disclosure, “I hope that there will be lessons learned from the mishandling of this issue and the next time an issue arises—which inevitably it will because decommissioning is a complicated and difficult process—that the public will be immediately informed about the situation and what TEPCO is planning to do in order to remedy it.” Tepco’s president Naomi Hirose vowed to improve Tepco’s public disclosure, saying “even if the evaluations do not show enough evidence, we will swiftly and honestly mention risks and worst-case scenarios without fearing the impact.” http://www.japantoday.com/category/national/view/foreign-nuclear-experts-blast-tepco-over-toxic-water-leaks?utm_campaign=jt_newsletter&utm_medium=email&utm_source=jt_newsletter_2013-07-27_PM -- http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2013/07/26/national/tepco-chief-admits-pr-fiasco-over-water-info/#.UfZzyevD8dV
  • Many residents of Tamura City will be allowed long-term stays beginning in August. The city’s Miyakoji district, which was inside the former 20-kilometer “no-go zone”, will allow repopulation for at least three months to repair earthquake-damaged homes and tend to farmland. The move applies to about 120 households and some 380 individuals. Stores and businesses in the district may reopen and dosimeters will be available to those who ask for them. The district was declared to be decontaminated last week. The highest radiation current level in the district is 1.6 millisieverts per year, which is far below the 20 mSv/yr standard for repopulation. Mayor Yukei Tomitsuka said, "This latest measure effectively ends the no-entry restriction on the area. It's a fortunate event, and we can expect residents to return. For these next three months, I will petition the government to remove its designation as a zone subject to preparations for the lifting of evacuation orders.”  Resident Kenichi Tsuchiya said, "To people who want to restart their jobs, being able to stay is a good thing. If people can come back during the Obon holiday (in August), their mood will improve." Another resident, Koichi Tsuboi, wasn’t as optimistic, "Miyakoji has higher radiation levels than those as the temporary housing complex where I live now, and the forests and mountains in the area haven't been decontaminated at all. An end to the evacuation order will also end compensation payments, and we may be abandoned (by the government)." http://mainichi.jp/english/english/newsselect/news/20130727p2a00m0na013000c.html
  • The Fukushima government has begun a campaign to market the Prefecture’s produce. This is being done to counter the rumors and radiation fears that have severely harmed sales, damaging the local economy. Officials and farming representatives are now at major markets, such as Tokyo, to tell consumers their fruits and vegetables are high quality and safe. The promotion will include nearly 100 events across Japan. http://the-japan-news.com/news/article/0000406020
  • This week’s carnival of Nuclear Energy Bloggers (# 167) has been posted at Meredith Angwin’s Yes Vermont Yankee website. Blog topics cover the recent problems at Fukushima Daiichi, plus, the past, present and future of nuclear power. http://yesvy.blogspot.com/2013/07/167th-carnival-of-nuclear-energy-blogs.html#.UfZ5g-vD8dU

July 26, 2013

  • The groundwater contamination issue makes daily headlines. Tepco is being castigated for delaying announcement of leakage into the site’s small seaport for more than a week. The company says they had no confirmable indication until they were told water level inside the near-shore sampling wells were fluctuating with the tides. This suggests the contaminated waters are mixing with the seawater through the groundwater system. Tepco reported the discovery to the Nuclear Regulatory Authority on July 18, but did not tell the Press until July 22. Tepco’s Fukushima Revitalization Headquarters knew of the water level fluctuations for months, but inter-departmental communications broke down. One FRH official said, "Our civil engineering department had confirmed water level variations in monitoring wells as early as in January, but that information was not shared by (sic) our department responsible for monitoring radioactive levels." Local fishermen are upset over the revelation. Fishery officials were considering limited operations off the Fukushima shores beginning in September, but it now seems unlikely. Masakazu Yabuki, head of the Iwaki fisheries cooperative, said, “This will pose a significant hurdle to the trial operation. Even if we can catch fish, will we be able to tell consumers with confidence that they can eat them?” Tetsu Nozaki of the Fukushima fisheries co-op said, “Never have I felt so shocked since we first learned during the early phases of the nuclear disaster that radioactive water was leaking into the ocean. It has become emotionally difficult to accept (Tepco’s groundwater release plan) due to the leakage of contaminated water (into the sea).” Meanwhile, the NRA suspects that there is another possible leak, this time through the same underground tunnel/trench that produced a leak in April, 2011. The watchdog believes contaminated waters are entering the tunnel from one of the turbine building basements and seeping into groundwater through the gravel that lines the bottom of the trench. NRA Chair Shunichi Tanaka says the contamination must be prevented from reaching the open sea, and the agency will form an expert panel to discuss possible solutions. http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2013/07/24/national/tepco-held-back-groundwater-news/#.Ue_RK-vD8dU -- http://ajw.asahi.com/article/0311disaster/fukushima/AJ201307230066 -- http://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/english/news/20130724_24.html
  • On Thursday, a national fisheries federation filed a protest against Tepco. Federation chief Hiroshi Kishi handed a letter of protest to TEPCO president Naomi Hirose. Kishi said Tepco had betrayed their trust when the company said contamination was leaking into the F. Daiichi seaport’s quay. He also demanded that Tepco devise plans to contain the radioactive water accumulating at the nuke station. Another fishery official said the new leaks are Tepco’s worst mistake since the nuclear accident happened. Tepco’s Hirose said the company is doing their best to keep contaminated water out of the Pacific Ocean. http://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/english/news/20130725_22.html
  • This morning, Tepco says three top executives, including their president, have had their pay cut. President Naomi Hirose and Vice President Zengo Aizawa will take a 10 percent pay cut for one month, while the deputy director of the social communications office, Shinichiro Kengaku, will have a 5 percent cut for one month. Hirose said the penalties were because they took too long to report the groundwater problem at F. Daiichi.  He explained the delay was because the company worried about making an announcement based on conjecture and they needed data confirmation. He promised that “even if the evaluations do not show enough evidence, we will swiftly and honestly mention risks and worst-case scenarios without fearing the impact.” American Dale Klein, one of Tepco’s expert foreign advisors, was not happy because the incident indicates “a lack of ability of keeping the people of Japan informed, and it brings into a question whether Tepco has a plan and it’s doing all they can to protect the environment and the people.” http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2013/07/26/national/tepco-chief-admits-pr-fiasco-over-water-info/#.UfJlpuvD8dU
  • F. Daiichi’s new waste water treatment system test has been halted due to a corrosion problem. One of the tanks used to store pre-treated water has developed leaks due to a combination of seawater and pre-treatment chemicals eating through tank welds. All three treatment streams being tested have been stopped and will not be restarted until all system tanks are lined with a rubber coating. The system is designed to remove residual radioactive isotopes that remain after the water is stripped of Cesium. Tepco says to coat the tanks will keep the system test shut down until sometime next month. http://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/english/news/20130726_02.html
  • A reactor cooling system for F. Daiichi unit #6 was inadvertently shut off for two hours. Tepco says the shutdown happened during a test on one of the emergency diesel generators. During the stoppage, water temperature in the reactor vessel increased by 0.5oC. The temperature increase posed no threat to the fuel bundles in the reactor core. Tepco says the incident was caused by human error. Although unit #6 was undamaged by the 3/11/11 tsunami and was already shut down at the time of the accident, some Japanese Press charge that this is another example of the “precarious” nature of F. Daiichi. http://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/english/news/20130725_30.html
  • The decontamination of Fukushima communities could cost as much as $50 billion. The National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology announced their conclusion on Wednesday. This is more than 4 times greater than previous estimates. One team member said the government should compare the cost-effectiveness of full decontamination versus the cost of helping displaced residents rebuild their lives elsewhere. The Institute says full decontamination of the exclusion zone could cost $20 billion and the surrounding areas $30 billion. So far, Tokyo has allocated $11 billion for the project. http://japandailypress.com/fukushima-decontamination-and-cleanup-estimated-at-50-billion-five-times-govt-budget-2432822/
  • Rezoning of Fukushima exclusion zone communities will be finished in August. The town assembly of Kawamata approved the rezoning after long, tedious negotiations with residents. It is the last town to agree to re-zone out of the 11 municipalities where evacuations were mandated. Kawamata is located about 50 kilometers northwest of F. Daiichi and was the town at the farthest point of the evacuation. 90% of the town will be prepared for repopulation and 10% will remain off-limits for the time being. Mayor Michio Furukawa said his town is the last to reorganize, but it gave them time to fully negotiate decontamination with Tokyo. http://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/english/news/japan.html
  • Fukushima prefecture has expanded their child thyroid testing program. Until now, only one hospital has been doing follow-up examinations. Now, two more have been added to the effort. The tests are for the children who have tested positive for thyroid anomalies. The Prefecture is examining 360,000 individuals under the age of 18 to see the radioactive Iodine released from the Fukushima accident may have increased their risk of cancer. So far, about 1,100 have been found to have thyroid lumps of 5.1 millimeters or larger, but only a third of them have received follow-up work. http://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/english/news/20130724_28.html
  • The walls and roof of the enclosure around F. Daiichi unit #4 was finished on July 20. The enclosure will allow the removal of all fuel bundles from the Spent Fuel Pool. The Tepco Press handout has excellent photos and can be accessed at http://www.tepco.co.jp/en/nu/fukushima-np/handouts/2013/images/handouts_130722_05-e.pdf

July 23, 2013

Before today’s updates, we should note that Prime Minister Abe’s Liberal Democratic Party has won a landslide victory in Sunday’s Upper house election. The Upper House is similar to America’s Senate. This gives Abe’s nuclear-friendly party a clear majority across both houses in the Diet. How this will affect future nuclear policy in Japan is speculative, but it is clear that nuclear issues have been reduced in political importance since the LDP took power in January. It is also noteworthy that the LDP candidate won handily in Fukushima Prefecture, defeating four opponents running primarily antinuclear campaigns.

Here’s today’s updates…

  • Tepco now says some contaminated groundwater may be leaking into the F. Daiichi seaport. The station’s staff has been monitoring water levels in 17 wells on the east side of units #1 through #4 since May. The steady activity increases in two wells between units 3 and 4, combined with fluctuations in groundwater levels and one elevated Tritium concentration inside the station’s sea port (quay), indicate that some of the material is finding its way to the sea-side. This announcement confirms the Nuclear Regulatory Authority speculation of a leak into the inner quay made earlier this month. Tepco stressed this is a preliminary assessment and more data must be gathered before a final judgment can be made. Tepco also said that while localized Tritium increases have been detected at the intake structure for unit #4, there is no indication of it spreading outside the quay and into the Pacific Ocean. Takeshi Takahashi, F. Daiichi station manager, said, "We apologize for causing concern. We'll take measures to prevent further leaks into the sea." Regardless, Tepco’s level of trust with local fishermen has taken a severe hit. The company met with about 100 members of the local fisheries cooperative on Tuesday. Tepco apologized for the incident and stressed that none of the contamination that has trickled into the inner quay has reached the open sea. In addition, the utility explained Tepco’s plans to stop any further leakage to the port and the numerous barriers being built to keep contaminated groundwater from further sea-ward flow. However, the fishermen were not happy. Most worried about the effect negative Press coverage will have on their ability to market their catch. Some accused Tepco of deliberately concealing the truth until after Sunday’s national election. The head of the cooperative was flummoxed by Tepco’s revelation and said there is no way that merely drawing a line on a map will reassure consumers that their product is safe. He lamented that this has dealt a serious blow to the future of Fukushima fishing. http://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/english/news/20130722_36.html -- http://www.tepco.co.jp/en/nu/fukushima-np/handouts/2013/images/handouts_130719_04-e.pdf -- http://mainichi.jp/english/english/newsselect/news/20130723p2a00m0na011000c.html -- http://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/english/news/20130723_42.html
  • The vapor emanating from F. Daiichi unit #3 stopped the day after it was first noticed. The vapor was detected coming from the rubble atop the primary containment dome last Thursday, but was no longer to be seen the next morning (Friday). This morning (Tuesday), the vapor was again seen emanating from the same location atop unit #3. By this afternoon (in Japan) the vapor release had again ceased. Tepco continues to suspect the vapor was caused by rainwater evaporating when contacting the steel dome beneath the rubble. But, because the company cannot make an absolute determination of the cause, “We still don’t know [for sure] what caused the steam and are currently investigating,” said a Tepco spokesman. The Press continues to trumpet this inconsequential situation in bold headlines while using the incident as “proof” of the F. Daiichi station’s “precariousness”. http://www.japantoday.com/category/national/view/fukushima-reactor-steam-still-baffling-tepco? -- http://english.kyodonews.jp/news/2013/07/237069.html -- http://www.tepco.co.jp/en/press/corp-com/release/2013/1229148_5130.html
  • A new radiation rumor is being circulated over the Asian internet. Scary pictures of allegedly mutated Fukushima tomatoes have been posted by the antinuclear website Fukushima-Diary.com. The site posted the picture of a bizarre, tomato-like vegetable with the following statement, “Attack of the mutant vegetables!! Are these our new tomato overlords?? Let’s all boycott the struggling Fukushima farmers for, oh, say 100 years or so. Lori Mochizuki, who edits Fukushima-Diary.com, reports that capitalists in Japan are now selling clearly discernible radiation contaminated and genetically mutated tomatoes. Mr. Mochizuki reports that such mutated plants are being increasingly found all over Japan, as the capitalist try to draw our attention elsewhere.” A few voices of reason tried to debunk the allegations, but they were overwhelmed by an avalanche of hysterical reaction to the posting. As it turns out, the vegetable is a “reisetomate”, which looks like a lot of multi-colored tomatoes fused together. Plus, it wasn’t grown in Fukushima Prefecture…it actually came from Saitama, hundreds of kilometers away. In addition, the picture of the bizarre object didn’t come from Japan…it may have originated in Romania, of all places. Exposure of the scam was run in the historically-antinuclear Japan Today newspaper on Monday. Suddenly the guilty website corrected itself by posting “these images aren’t related to the Fukushima disaster”. Regardless, the damage had been done and Fukushima farmers are suffering yet another false radiation rumor. http://www.japantoday.com/category/national/view/mutant-vegetables-wrongly-attributed-to-fukushima
  • A Tokyo professor says 94% of the public believes F. Daiichi is still not under control. Hirotada Hirose of Tokyo Women’s Christian University had a team survey people across Japan in March. About 1,200 responded, with ages ranging from 15-79. 94% said the nuclear “disaster” has not been effectively controlled. The primary reason was continual Press reports of radioactivity leaking from the damaged units. In addition, 33% found the information coming from the government to be “most untrustworthy”, but only 2% said local governments were unreliable information sources. In addition, 31% said nuclear power should be abandoned as soon as possible and 54% said it should be phased out. Further, nearly 80% believed another nuclear accident was likely if currently-idled nukes are restarted. 23% said a future nuclear accident is certain. Natural disasters and terrorist attacks were the main reasons given. Hirose says the survey shows that national nuclear policy must take the public’s opinion seriously, “An (effective) nuclear policy is impossible unless the central government wins the understanding and support of not only local residents living in areas that host nuclear power plants but also the support of all the people in Japan.” http://japandailypress.com/over-90-of-japanese-think-fukushima-disaster-not-under-control-survey-1932603/ -- http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2013/07/18/national/80-think-another-nuke-disaster-probable-poll/#.UeqbHuvD8dV
  • Decontamination has been delayed in Iitate, Fukushima Prefecture. The job was scheduled to have been completed by the end of this year, but disagreement between village districts as to the level of decontamination has held things up. The town government decided to let each district call their own shots, if you will, and the results are disappointing. Only 1% of the scheduled decontamination has been completed. This should be compared to Nahara Town, adjacent to F. Daiichi, where 38% of the community is decontaminated, and Kawuachi Village where the work is 100% completed. Decontamination began simultaneously for all three towns. The problem in Iitate is due to some residents feeling government standards are inadequate and should be much lower. http://the-japan-news.com/news/article/0000385184
  • Tepco will offer free life-long health check-ups to qualifying F. Daiichi workers. These are individuals may have had exposures of 100 millisieverts or more. The company estimates this could impact roughly 2,000 people. Those at risk were informed last year and asked to have a check-up. Only 37% have actually done it. Of the more than 500 who have had the examination, less than 200 actually surpassed 100 Msv level of exposure. Beyond this, there is considerable confusion with the Press. The Press says there will free ultra-sound check-ups for thyroid exposure and most experts say that a thyroid dose of 100 mSv is the threshold for an increased risk of cancer. However, the reports also say Tepco is looking for accumulation of Cesium in the thyroids, which makes little sense. Cesium tends to accumulate in muscle and other soft tissue…not the thyroid gland. Are they confusing Cs-134 and Cs-137 with radioactive Iodine? To add more confusion to the issue, Hiroshima University Professor Kenji Kamiya says the plant operator must make every effort to provide health care for the workers because it remains unclear how the large doses of radioactive Cesium will affect their health. However, the exposures for F. Daiichi workers are in the low level region where risk is controversial. Some experts say there is a 0.1% increase in risk of future cancer per person, while others say that there is no discernible risk in a society that has cancer rates above 20%. http://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/english/news/20130719_40.html -- http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2013/07/19/national/1973-fukushima-plant-workers-show-higher-risk-for-thyroid-cancer/#.UeqbBOvD8dV

July 20, 2013

166th Carnival of Nuclear Energy Bloggers

The Hiroshima Syndrome is proudly hosting the 166th Carnival of Nuclear Energy Bloggers. For the full reports, please click on the individual links. Blog topics include – The difficulties faced by the US regulatory system, the need for policy changes in our regulatory system, reasons why nuclear advocates can become abrupt with antinukes, and the possible consequences of Vermont’s Comprehensive energy plan.

From Nuke Power Talk (2) –

1. Pulling Rabbits Out of Hats http://nukepowertalk.blogspot.com/2013/07/nuclear-power-and-regulation.html

2. My Summer with the Wise Guys: An Update http://nukepowertalk.blogspot.com/2013/07/my-summer-with-wise-guys.html

From ANS Nuclear Café

Cost/Benefit Analyses of Nuclear Requirements  http://ansnuclearcafe.org/2013/07/18/cost-benefit-analyses-of-nuclear-requirements/

From Atomic Insights

Nuclear professional explains why he strongly reacts to antinuclear statements (guest post)http://atomicinsights.com/nuclear-professional-vs-energy-policy-expert/

From Yes Vermont Yankee (2) –

1. Vermont's Renewable Plan is Wishful Thinking http://yesvy.blogspot.com/2013/07/vermonts-renewable-plan-is-wishful.html

2. The Live and Local Podcast: Assessing the Energy Plan in Vermont http://yesvy.blogspot.com/2013/07/the-live-and-local-podcast-assessing.html

From Atomic Power Review

SCE Serves MHI with Notice of Dispute over SONGS Steam Generators http://atomicpowerreview.blogspot.com/2013/07/sce-serves-mitsubishi-with-formal.html

From The Hiroshima Syndrome/Fukushima Commentary

Naoto Kan: Japan’s Pinocchio http://www.hiroshimasyndrome.com/fukushima-commentary.html 

From James Conca -

Are Electric Cars Really That Polluting?http://www.forbes.com/sites/jamesconca/2013/07/21/are-electric-cars-really-that-polluting/

From Next Big Future

China feed- in tariff price for nuclear energy will boost nuclear power in China while still providing globally competitive electricity prices http://nextbigfuture.com/2013/07/china-sets-incentive-feed-in-tariff.html

July 18, 2013

  • Wisps of vapor have been detected off the fifth floor of F. Daiichi unit #3. Station staff noticed the vapor rising from the vicinity of the upper containment dome. The dome temperature is about 100oF due to the heat wave now blanketing most of Japan. In addition, near-constant downpours of rain have hit most of northeast Japan, where F. Daiichi is located. Thus, Tepco believes the vapor is due to rain seeping through the fifth floor’s debris and slowly evaporating when it comes in contact with the dome. Temperatures inside the Primary Containment, which is sealed by the dome, have not increased and radiation levels have not gone up. Also, surface contamination levels on the fifth floor have not changed. Much of the Japanese Press has exploited the announcement by doubting Tepco’s explanation of the cause, and stating that this is yet another example of an inability to bring the crisis under control. One newspaper, Japan Times, openly suggested the cause might have something to do with “highly lethal mixed uranium-plutonium oxide (MOX) fuel” used by unit #3, some of which is stored in the nearby spent fuel pool. http://www.tepco.co.jp/en/press/corp-com/release/2013/1229064_5130.html -- http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2013/07/18/national/steam-seen-in-fukushima-reactor-building/#.UefggevD8dU
  • The screening process for nuke restarts has begun. Four utilities, covering nine Pressurized Water Reactor units, have applied for restarts under the new safety regulations that went into effect last week. NRA officials have held formal meetings with utility owners to hear their explanations of how they comply with the new rules. The NRA is explaining the new rules and what they will focus on during inspections. Topics being discussed include protection from tsunami impacts and facilities to act as temporary command centers in case of an accident. On Tuesday morning, the NRA had discussions on Kyushu Electric Power Co.’s Sendai units 1&2 in Kagoshima Prefecture and Hokkaido Electric Power Co.’s Tomari units 1&3 in Hokkaido. Later , the NRA heard about Shikoku Electric Power Co.’s Ikata unit #3 in Ehime Prefecture, plus Takahama units 3&4 and Oi units 3&4 operated by Kansai Electric Power Co. in Fukui Prefecture. The Sendai and Tomari dialogues touched on the nearly 40 active volcanoes on Hokkaido Island. One NRA member commented on the impact of eruptions on the Tomari units,  “When looking at the possible effects of volcanic ash, we need to examine various cases, such as what effect volcanic ash and snow could have if they occurred at the same time.”  The Ikata units are considered most likely to clear the NRA’s safety checks first because they have less than 30 years of operation and the projected maximum tsunami heights are relatively low.  http://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/english/news/20130716_23.html -- http://the-japan-news.com/news/article/0000385343
  • Tepco briefed local officials on why restarts at the Kashiwazaki-Kariwa station would be safe. On Wednesday, Tepco president Naomi Hirose briefed assemblies in Kariwa Village and Kashiwazaki City, Niigata Prefecture. Tepco has delayed the applications for restart due to fairly severe local opposition claiming the company has ignored their concerns. Hirose explained that the off-shore tsunami barrier has been raised from 3.3 to 6 meters. There is also a 15-meter levee along the shoreline. Hirose added that new back-up emergency cooling systems are being installed, filtered venting systems will be built, and none of the geologic seams under the station have moved within the last 200,000 years. After the meetings, opinions of the local officials remain mixed. One said, “Tepco should submit the applications right away.” Another official said no nuke plants should be restarted until the Fukushima accident is resolved.  http://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/english/news/20130717_22.html -- http://the-japan-news.com/news/article/0000388660
  • Japan Atomic Power Co. has filed its formal complaint against the NRA over the agency’s finding of a seismic fault under the Tsuruga station. Japco says the geologic formation does not qualify as seismic under Japan’s existing criterion. This is the first time a legal administrative appeal has been filed against the NRA. Japco says there is strong evidence that the geologic seam has not moved within the 120,000-130,000 year legal criterion. The complaint is their first step in the process of trying to make the NRA rescind its judgment. The also NRA ordered Japco to file a report on how the Spent Fuel Pool of Tsuruga #2 might be affected by the underlying formation’s seismic movement. Japco says they will comply before the submittal deadline at the end of this month. http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2013/07/16/national/utility-seeks-to-overturn-reactor-ban/#.UeU8BevD8dU
  • Former PM Naoto Kan is suing present PM Shizo Abe for defamation concerning the Fukushima accident. On March 20, 2011, Abe posted an Email saying Kan was issuing false information concerning the use of seawater to cool unit #1 at F. Daiichi. Kan had taken credit for making Tepco pump seawater into the stricken reactor vessel to quench the overheating condition which caused the fuel to melt. Abe’s Email, entitiled “Mr. Kan’s instructions on using seawater are made-up”, said Kan actually told Tepco to stop using seawater and ordered plant manager Masao Yoshida to cease the operation. Based on this, Abe charged Kan with mismanagement and called for his immediate resignation. Kan has taken umbrage with the Abe Email for more than two years, and has demanded the current PM to delete it.  Abe has not complied with Kan’s wishes. Kan maintains Abe used “erroneous” information in the Email and that he must “immediately admit his misconduct, delete the stories and apologize. Abe has ignored my relentless requests to retrieve the posting and apologize. He has left them online even during this Upper House election campaign. His false accusation defames me and harms the credibility of the DPJ and the DPJ government at the time.” PM Abe has declined to comment on the suit’s filing. It is rare for a former PM to take this kind of action against another PM. http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2013/07/16/national/kan-sues-abe-for-311-defamation/#.UeU7fuvD8dU -- http://japandailypress.com/ex-japanese-premier-naoto-kan-files-defamation-lawsuit-against-pm-abe-1632429/  comment – Japan Today falsely reported that an independent investigative panel said Kan ordered the seawater to be used as a coolant and he also prevented Tepco from abandoning F. Daiichi. I cannot find any such statements in any of the several independent reports out of Japan. Japan Today should print a retraction, but it is unlikely given their severe antinuclear penchant.

July 15, 2013

  • Prime Minister Abe says Fukushima food keeps him healthy. While supporting Fukushima candidate Masako Mori for the upcoming national election, the PM said he has been eating Fukushima-grown rice every day and it keeps him energetic, “Whenever I go to a summit meeting, I tell other leaders [that] I eat Fukushima-produced rice.” Many Japanese consumers and some Asian markets avoid Fukushima’s produce due to fears of radiation poisoning. Abe says the shunning of Fukushima foods is due to rumor and misinformation. He wants to show the food is safe and revive the area’s economy, “We’re going to wipe away the financial losses from this misinformation, speed up the rebuilding of the infrastructure, and use all our power to take up the rebuilding of Fukushima.” http://www.japantoday.com/category/politics/view/abe-claims-fukushima-food-keeps-him-healthy?utm_campaign=jt_newsletter&utm_medium=email&utm_source=jt_newsletter_2013-07-13_PM
  • The PM has been visiting temporary living centers in Fukushima during his tour. However, some elderly people feel they are being left out of the loop. Many feel the Fukushima accident has not ended while others are frustrated because they cannot go home. They want to vote for candidates they feel will help them, but none have come to their prefabricated communities during the election campaign. While on-line campaigning is now available due to recent legislation, many of the elderly nuclear evacuees say they are not good at using computers so they really don’t know who to vote for. http://jen.jiji.com/jc/eng?g=eco&k=2013071500037
  • It seems most government funding for Tohoku reconstruction is either not being used or improperly spent. When PM Abe took office, he raised the reconstruction budget from $190 billion to $250 billion, but not much has changed. Only 1.2% of the temporary housing projects promised to tsunami refugees have been built, community relocation projects are at 1% and land reclamation stands at 2%. This is about the same as when Abe took office in January. Under the previous Tokyo regime, more than $10 billion of the money was diverted to projects that have little or nothing to do with Tohoku reconstruction. Abe is trying to get the money repaid, but only about $1 billion is expected to be reclaimed. Meanwhile, billions of dollars remain unspent because of a shortage of engineers and construction specialists willing to take on the work. The money is there, but there are not enough companies available to use it. Tokyo has a 2013 budget of $53 billion designated for making Japan more resilient to natural disasters and beefing-up tsunami protective barriers, but some politicians say it should be spent only on the Tohoku region to speed up its recovery. It also seems the government may be holding back about $1.5 billion intended for Fukushima decontamination work covering 36 communities in the prefecture. The Environment Ministry says the hold-up is due to their strict decontamination guidelines which make clean-up slow and tedious. Tepco must eventually reimburse the government, but much of the bill is being contested by the company because of decontamination ambiguities.  http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2013/07/14/national/reconstruction-work-still-slow-under-abe/#.UeP_q-vD8dU –- http://japandailypress.com/report-says-government-holding-back-over-60-of-fukushima-recovery-budget-1232258/
  • Mildly radioactive waste water was released to a Fukushima river in 2012. The 340 ton discharge was to the Iizaki river, which flows through the town of Minamisoma and is used for irrigation in areas outside the government-mandated exclusion zone. Nearly half of Minamisoma was outside the no-go zone at the time of the discharge. The town says they were never informed of the impending release, at the time. But JDC Corp., a government approved decontamination contractor, said they told the Japan Atomic Energy Agency of their plans, and JAEA says they passed the information on to the town. JAEA anticipated there would be no problems because the activity in the water was at 60 Becquerels per liter, well-below the limit of 90 Bq/liter. Now, the Environment Ministry is investigating to see if the information was shared in accordance with law. The problem stems from 60 tons of waste water at 100-120 Bq/liter having been mixed with 280 tons of water that contained very little contamination. The resulting mixture was discharged to the river, and now the town of Minamisoma doesn’t like it. http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2013/07/12/national/probe-launched-after-contractor-jdc-dumped-radioactive-water-into-river-for-irrigation-in-fukushima/#.UeAFlOvD8dU
  • A sea bass with more than 1,000 Bq/kilogram of Cesium was caught off the coast of Ibaraki Prefecture. The Cesium concentration is more than 10 times the national standard. Prefectural officials say it is the third-highest radioactive level found in a fish off the Ibaraki coast and the first since the spring of 2011. For the past two years, all fish from the Ibaraki waters have passed the health criterion, so they are surprised with the sea bass’ activity suddenly showing up. As a precaution, all Ibaraki sea bass will be removed from the marketplace. http://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/english/news/20130712_02.html
  • Tepco has posted a press handout detailing the water-proofing work being done at F. Daiichi. The effort is intended to prevent contaminated groundwater from reaching the station’s sea-barricaded inner port (quay). Diagrams show how hole-boring and chemical injections are being done. It also shows the locations of the groundwater sampling wells between units 1 and 2.
  • A Jiji Press poll shows less than half of Japan’s public opposes nukes restarts. Those opposed came to 49.7%, those in favor were at 41.1% and 9.2% were undecided. The newspaper felt the poll indicated many Japanese remain cautious about restarts despite the new, tighter safety standards.  The poll also found that of all political parties competing with PM Shinzo Abe’s Liberal Democratic Party oppose restarts. The proportion of party supporters who oppose the restart were 87.5% for the Social Democratic Party, 76.9% for the Communist Party, 68.2% for Your Party, 66.7% for the Democratic Party of Japan, 57.9%  for New Komeito and 57.1%for Nippon Ishin No Kai (Japan Restoration Party). While not one of the central issues in next weekend’s upper house election, nuclear energy remains an issue of significance with the popular Press. http://jen.jiji.com/jc/eng?g=eco&k=2013071200714

July 11, 2013

  • Elevated Cesium was discovered in the near-shore groundwater of F. Daiichi on Tuesday, July 9. One of the sampling wells 25-30 meters from the station’s port had Cesium increase by a factor of 100 over four days. Cs-134 was at 11,000 Becquerels per liter, Cs-137 at 22,000 Bq/liter and Tritium at 360,000 Bq/liter. Total Beta radiation was at 890,000 Bq/liter. On July 5, the levels in this well were 99 Bq/liter for Cs-134, 210 Bq/liter for Cs-137, 900,000 Bq/liter total Beta activities and 380,000 Bq/liter of Tritium. The more than 20 other wells used for sampling at the station showed no parallel increases in any of the isotopic concentrations. Tepco believes the source of the increased activity it is residual from a cable-trench leak in April of 2011, but they cannot rule out that small leaks may be adding to the concentration but feel it is unlikely.  The 2011 trench-leak was very near the well in question. No cesium or beta-emitting isotopes have been detected in the station’s port…only an elevated level of Tritium, an isotope of hydrogen many times more mobile in ground water than particulates like Cesium. The Tritium level in the port sample has been dropping for a week. http://www.tepco.co.jp/en/press/corp-com/release/2013/1228835_5130.html -- http://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/english/news/20130709_12.html comment - the above links are the tip of the Press’ iceberg on this. Tepco was chosen because they are the ones running the tests on and regularly reporting on the station’s groundwater. NHK is selected because its reports have the least amount of FUD (fear, uncertainty and doubt) when compared to all other news media in Japan.
  • The NRA “strongly suspects” the contaminated groundwater at F. Daiichi is seeping into the sea. NRA Chairman Shunichi Tanaka doubts that residuals from the trench leak of April, 2011 is the only source of increased radiation levels found over the past week, “It is strongly suspected that highly concentrated contaminated waste water has leaked to the ground and has spread to the sea. We must find the cause of the contamination . . . and put the highest priority on implementing countermeasures.” It seems the NRA is basing their claim on the Tritium levels detected in May at a point inside the sea-barricaded quay, located well-within the outer break-wall surrounding the plant’s port. All news reports say Tepco is not providing a definitive reason for the sudden increase in contamination found in a solitary sampling well and cannot explain why none of the other wells show similar increases. However, Tepco continued to say that the likely source is, in fact, the 2011 leak, but they stop short of ruling out other possibilities. This spurred Tanaka to add, “I see [TEPCO] has not been able to find the cause of these spikes in readings.” Subsequent to Tanaka’s statement, the NRA announced they will form a working group to devise ways of making absolutely sure that contaminated groundwater will not reach the sea. http://japandailypress.com/nuclear-watchdog-says-radioactive-water-from-fukushima-plant-contaminating-sea-1032091 -- http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2013/07/10/national/toxic-groundwater-reaching-sea-nra/#.Ud1aN-vD8dU -- http://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/english/news/20130710_28.html
  • This morning (July 11), Tepco said that the elevated radioactivity may be due to dirt in the samples. After filtering the suspended solids out of the sample water, the readings for Cesium dropped to the levels detected 5 days earlier. The filtered reading for Cs-134 is 99 Bq/liter and Cs-137 is 210 Bq/liter. Tepco points out that the sampling well is one of the most recently drilled and the dirt may not have settled completely. When plant chemists pumped up the sample water, the small, visually imperceptible solids came with it. Regardless, the NRA has reiterated that they cannot rule out on-going leaks contributing to the groundwater contamination so Tepco must continue with increased monitoring of all other sample wells and make greater efforts to stop potential groundwater flow to the sea. http://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/english/news/20130711_02.html
  • Tepco has been leak-proofing the sea-side embankments at F. Daiichi. The plant staff has been drilling holes deep in the ground, at 80 centimeter intervals, along the 90 meter-long embankment since Monday. They are inserting chemicals into the holes to harden and waterproof the surrounding soil. Tepco feels this will prevent contaminated groundwater from reaching the seaport. The port was completely enclosed with underwater “silt-dams” and “paved” with impervious material in 2011 to prevent contamination from getting into open water. While it is unlikely that any of the newly-detected Cesium and Beta-emitting isotopes have reached the port’s waters, Tepco correctly refrains from giving the press an absolute guarantee. http://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/english/news/20130709_33.html comment - It seems the NRA is giving Tepco no credit for this operation. Why? Maybe the next update suggests a clue…
  • The Japan News has leveled a strong criticism of the NRA’s public behaviors since its creation. In an editorial calling for the NRA to be fair and efficient in its restart decisions, Japan’s largest newspaper openly blasts the government watchdog, “The NRA has taken a blatantly biased approach in hastily concluding that topographic strains under some facilities are active faults. Its checks must be based on scientific facts… The NRA must shed its self-righteous mind-set and hold constructive and repeated dialogue with the utilities.” http://the-japan-news.com/news/article/0000367823
  • The owner of the Tsuruga nuke station says new data shows the geology is not seismic. Japan Atomic Power Company will file an administrative complaint over the NRA’s judgment of the underlying geology being seismic. The complaint procedure must be pursued before any lawsuit can be filed. In May, the NRA said the geologic seam under Tsuruga unit #2’s spent fuel pool has moved in the last 120,000-130,000 years, thus it fulfilled the government’s “seismic” criterion. Japco says the compressed ash above the seam is 127,000 years old and shows no signs of having moved since it was deposited, thus the geology could not have moved since. Japco president Yasuo Hamada told the Press, "We strongly urge the NRA to hold discussions and sufficiently examine our new findings to reach a new conclusion." Tsuruga #2 may have to be decommissioned unless the utility submits data convincing enough to overturn the regulators' decision. Regardless, President Hamada says he is confident that the unit will eventually be restarted. http://english.kyodonews.jp/news/2013/07/235367.html -- http://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/english/news/20130711_27.html
  • The NRA announced that some reactors might be allowed to restart next year, but not before. This contradicts the prevailing Press’ speculations that as many as ten nukes might resume operations as early as this Fall. Commissioner Kenzo Oshima said, “Some units are projected (to restart) one year from now, though I don’t know how many. It is hard to imagine that all the applications would be rejected, though we don’t know what the outcome will be at the moment.” He did not speculate as to which units might restart first. http://www.japantoday.com/category/national/view/japan-may-restart-reactors-in-a-year
  • The towns of Namie and Futaba can expect serious decontamination work to begin in September. The Environment Ministry plans to use the high radiation exposure areas to test whether or not they can be brought to within Japan’s unwieldy limit of 1 millisievert per year. Currently, the selected locations are believed to have exposure levels in excess of 50 mSv/year. The highest confirmed exposure level at one location is 50 mSv/year. 8 hectares in Namie and seven hectares in Futaba will be used for the tests, including roads, buildings and open fields. The methods will include high-pressure water washing and stripping of the upper layers of topsoil. Removed topsoil and other debris will be stored as radioactive waste within the community’s borders. http://www.fukushimaminponews.com/news.html?id=208


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