Fukushima 71...5/15/14-5/29/14

June 2, 2014

  • Tepco reports that 968 spent fuel bundles have been removed from the unit #4 pool. 946 of the 1,331 irradiated (used) fuel bundles have been transferred; roughly 71%. There have been 44 instances of transfer cask usage. http://www.tepco.co.jp/en/decommision/index-e.html  Also, As of May 30, 2014, Tepco has paid out nearly $39 billion in compensation to Fukushima evacuees. http://www.tepco.co.jp/en/comp/images/jisseki-e.pdf 

  • The radioactive Cesium levels in the F. Daiichi basements continue to drop. Currently, the Cs-134 concentration is about 9,000 Becquerels per milliliter, and Cs-137 at just below 30,000 Bq/ml. Thus total Cesium activity is roughly 39,000 Bq/ml. In May of 2012, the total Cesium activity was 240,000 Bq/ml, and in May of 2013 the total Cesium concentration was about 100,000 Bq/ml.  Samples are taken from waters being pumped into the Central Radioactive Waste Treatment Building and High Temperature Incinerator Building. From there, the waters are run through the Cesium absorption system. The outlet waters from the Cesium removal process are less than 1 Bq/ml. http://www.tepco.co.jp/en/nu/fukushima-np/f1/smp/2014/images/water_140530-e.pdf

  • The F. Daiichi Cesium absorption system will be upgraded. By using a new filtering material, contaminated wastewater will also removed at least 99% of entrained radioactive Strontium. The vast majority of the waters contained in storage tanks at the station have been run through the Cesium-stripping system, but the Strontium remains. Once upgraded, the SARRY pre-treatment process will drop Strontium activity from the current 40-500 million Becquerel per liter levels down to below 0.4-5 million Bq/l. http://jen.jiji.com/jc/eng?g=eco&k=2014052901050

  • Tepco has posted a graphic depicting the location of soil solidification barriers along the shoreline. The number of solidification borings is shown for each of the three seawater intake structures for the core-damaged reactor units. http://www.tepco.co.jp/en/nu/fukushima-np/handouts/2014/images/handouts_140530_07-e.pdf

  • Naraha Town government has re-opened their town hall. Officials of the evacuated community inside the Fukushima exclusion zone began work in their offices today. Mayor Yukiei Matsumoto said this will facilitate the town’s full reconstruction. Roughly 20 workers are now stationed at the town hall and are carrying out routine duties of government. The town’s administration has been working out of another city for more than three years. A formal survey of Naraha evacuees has indicated that as much as 40% 0f the town’s 8,200 residents want to return to their homes. NHK World; Evacuated town reopens its former office; June 2, 2014 

  • Two men have been arrested on suspicion of evacuee compensation fraud. Allegedly, they cheated Tepco for about $40,000 over the year after the accident. Investigators say the men created a bogus staffing agency and submitted a compensation claim saying they had a drop in job orders from Fukushima Prefecture hotels due to the accident. Police say there may be other individuals involved and the total money fraudulently expended may total in excess of $200,000. NHK World; Police arrest men for Fukushima redress fraud; June 2, 2014 

  • Former Naoto Kan advisor Goshi Hosono broke his silence concerning the Fukushima accident. He says there were numerous discussions between himself and F. Daiichi plant manager Masao Yoshida concerning whether or not F. Daiichi should be abandoned the first week of the crisis. Hosono says it seemed the Tepco home office in Tokyo considered abandonment, but it was not the case with Yoshida. Hosono recalls that the biggest disagreement between Yoshida and Tepco/Tokyo happened the night of March 14, 2011. Yoshida had mentioned that if station radiation levels became too great, full withdrawal might need to be considered. In a subsequent call a short while later, the plant manager said he and the plant staff would stay. However, Hosono recalls that Prime Minister Kan’s other advisors felt Tepco president Shimizu was going to order a complete abandonment, “The idea of withdrawing the workers [from the plant] was expressed by officials at the company [Tepco/Tokyo] including President Shimizu. I felt that their stance differed from that of Yoshida. TEPCO employees stationed in the Prime Minister’s office appeared to be operating in a mind-set that there were no more ways remaining to deal with the accident.” Hosono says that the PM’s staff was in full support of Yoshida. Hosono explained, “[My impression was] Yoshida had decided in his mind to stay in the plant. The Prime Minister’s office also decided to support him completely. The problem was whether TEPCO (headquarters) had the resolve to support him and other workers in the plant.” Hosono says he told Kan, “The situation at the Fukushima No. 1 plant is one in which workers can make progress there. We should respect Yoshida’s judgment.” Hosono’s decided to break his three-year-long silence because “My memory is approaching its limits. The time has about come for me to talk about the details.” http://ajw.asahi.com/article/0311disaster/fukushima/AJ201406010019 

  • Residents of the F. Daiichi host communities are displeased with rural radioactive waste storage plans. The Tokyo government held a meeting in Iwaki City to brief interested evacuees on the plans for interim waste storage facilities to be located in the two towns. About 400 people attended. Tokyo officials stressed that the facilities will hold the rural wastes for no longer than 30 years, but many in attendance weren’t buying it. Some said that since no community outside the area has agreed to host a permanent facility there is no guarantee that the wastes stored in Futaba and Okuma will ever be re-located. In fact, they believe Tokyo is not being honest and will never be able to build a permanent facility. Other objectors said that temporary storage will hurt the towns’ image and make it hard for farmers to sell their produce. There will be more formal public briefings over the next few weeks. NHK World; Fukushima people criticize waste facilities plan; May 31, 2014 

  • A robot has detected the highest radiation reading to date inside unit #1 reactor building. The high measurement was from a catwalk above the donut-shaped suppression chamber (torus) in the basement of the structure. The reading was 2.4 Sieverts per hour, which is up to ten times higher than any other location inside the torus room. The source of the reading was near the location of the robot at the time of the measurement, but could not be pinpointed. NHK World; Probe detects high radiation at Fukushima reactor; May 31, 2014 

  • Residents near the Sendai nuke station have filed a temporary injunction against restarts. The two fully-functional Sendai Pressurized Water Reactor units are at the top of the Nuclear Regulation Authority list for resumption. The plaintiffs argue that the two units drastically lack earthquake resistance and a massive quake could cause radiation releases. Plaintiffs claim the restarts could threaten the lives of all nearby residents. The proposed injunction was jointly filed by 23 Kagoshima residents. Kagoshima Prefecture has a population of more than 1.7 million. NHK World; Court order sought to stop reactor restart; May 30, 2014

  • Reconstruction workers in Miyagi Prefecture claim they are underpaid and overworked. Over 240 formal complaints have been filed with the local labor bureau. The jobs concern rebuilding the homes and lives of the tens of thousands of tsunami/earthquake refugees in the prefecture. One worker claims he has contracted lung disease and enlarged heart as a result of his employment. Of the working conditions in Miyagi, the man says, “It’s a joke.” He also says he has not been paid since September of last year. The man is employed by an Iwate Prefecture subcontractor. The Iwate subcontractor says the man gave them false records, so “we only paid him for the work that the original subcontractor authorized.” The labor filing only adds to the depressing situation with tsunami recovery in Miyagi, which includes a low supply of building materials and a severe shortage of manpower. http://japandailypress.com/subcontractors-working-in-disaster-hit-miyagi-prefecture-claim-exploitation-3048894/

  • Japan’s Atomic Industrial Forum has published a pamphlet on the Onagawa station and the 2011 quake/tsunami. Onagawa was closest to the earthquake epicenter and experienced the most severe ground motion and was also struck by the largest tsunami of any nuclear station on the East Tohoku coastline. However, the station experienced no damage to emergency systems or in-house power supplies. Onagawa stands as a testament to the high degree of safety of a plant with adequate beyond-design-basis tsunami protection. The pamphlet states, “The importance of learning the lessons from this accident in upgrading safety goes without saying, but at the same time there is much of value to be learned from the examples of the nuclear power plants that withstood the earthquake and tsunami.”  http://www.jaif.or.jp/english/news/2014/201405_onagawa-response_report.pdf

  • Singapore has lifted its ban on Fukushima food imports. The city-state banned all foods from Fukushima Prefecture following the nuclear accident. The announcement was made during a Saturday meeting between Premier Lee Hsien Loong and Prime Minister Shinzo Abe. Abe said, “It gives Fukushima great courage.” http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2014/05/31/national/singapore-lifts-ban-on-food-imported-from-fukushima/#.U4se46NOUdU

May 29, 2014

  • A leak has been discovered coming from F. Daiichi unit #1 primary containment (PCV). The location has been identified by robotic inspection inside the donut-shaped suppression chamber (torus) room. The outflow is coming from a pipe attached to a “metal bellows joint” on the PCV wall. Some officials feel the leak may have been caused by accelerated corrosion due to the use of seawater to cool the core in March, 2011. It is a source of water pooled in the bottom of the Torus room, but there may well be more. It is critical to find all leakage points coming out of the inner containment structure and plug them so that the PCV can be filled with water. This will greatly lower the radiation field inside the reactor building and facilitate the removal of melted fuel. Previously, a robot found a leak coming from the unit #3 PCV. Unit #2 will be robotically investigated to find leaks out of its PCV. NHK World; Water leak detected at No. 1 reactor; May 28, 2014 -- http://english.kyodonews.jp/news/2014/05/292793.html

  • Tokyo has nominated two replacement Nuclear Regulation Authority Commissioners. The first is Tokyo University Professor Satoru Tanaka. He is former president of the Atomic Energy Society of Japan and touted as a nuclear engineering expert. The second is Tohoku University Professor of Geology Akira Ishiwatari. If confirmed, they will replace incumbent commissioners Kunihiko Shimizu and Kenzo Oshima. Neither incumbent has a background in nuclear engineering and/or plant operations. Thus, the addition of Tanaka to the commission will improve the agency’s overall level of nuclear expertise. However, antinuclear voices in Japan say the action is an attempt to remove opponents to the restarting of the country’s reactors. Hajime Matsukubo, spokesman for the anti-nuclear Citizen’s Nuclear Information Centre, said, “The personnel change is a blatant attempt to prompt resumption of nuclear plants.” His remark is due to seismologist Shimizu’s being replaced, who has been the strongest opponent of restarts based on his personal opinions relative to geologic anomalies. http://jen.jiji.com/jc/eng?g=eco&k=2014052700553 -- http://jen.jiji.com/jc/eng?g=eco&k=2014052700553 -- http://www.japantoday.com/category/national/view/govt-to-replace-anti-nuclear-members-on-industry-regulator

  • In a hallmark decision, Shimane Prefecture has inked an evacuation accord with two neighboring prefectures. The plans are due to the NRA ruling to prepare evacuation of everyone within 30 kilometers of a nuke in the event of a worst-possible accident. There are nearly 400,000 people living within the 30 km zone around the Shimane nuke station owned by Chukogu Electric. Co. The Prefecture itself cannot accommodate all of them, so the local government asked neighboring Hiroshima and Okayama Prefectures for assistance. Both have agreed. This marks the first-such nuclear evacuation agreement between neighboring prefectures. http://english.kyodonews.jp/news/2014/05/292699.html  (Comment - It is important to note that one of the neighboring signatories is Hiroshima Prefecture, home to the atomic bombing of its capitol city in August, 1945. This update blog has previously noted that there is virtually no antinuclear power plant sentiment in Hiroshima, and is perhaps the prefecture with the smallest radiophobic demographic in Japan. Hopefully, Hiroshima Prefecture’s pact with Shimane will promote other prefectures across Japan to follow suit.)

  • Kansai Electric Co. might restart the Oi nukes despite the recent Fukui court order to not resume operations. The company has appealed the Fukui ruling to the Nagoya high court, insisting that both Oi units are safe to operate. Kansai President Makoto Yagi said they will probably start Shimane units #3 and #4 provided they pass all regulatory requirements and receive permission from the local communities before the high court hands down a decision on the appeal. http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2014/05/27/national/utility-may-restart-oi-reactors-high-court-ruling/#.U4XSmaNOUdV

  • Radiophobia has struck Ibaraki Prefecture, roughly 100 kilometers due-south of F. Daiichi. A portion of Hitachi Seaside Park has been closed due to higher-than-natural-background radiation levels. Tokyo estimates that Japan’s natural background is 0.23 microsieverts per hour. Three park locations in surrounding woods and open fields have registered 0.70 µSv/hr. Although these levels are in no way health-threatening, the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism (MLIT) has roped-off the areas as a precaution. Although the isotopic sources of the radiation have not been identified, NHK World suggests it’s due to residual contamination from the 2011 nuclear accident. A few other locations in Ibaraki Prefecture have previously measured as high as 2 µSv/hr. The seaside park is heavily visited in the summer and home to the “Japan Rocks” music festival, so the precautions were taken by MLIT because of widespread public radiation fears. It should be noted that 0.70 µSv/hr is the typical natural exposure for millions of Americans living healthy lives on the Colorado Plateau and ten times lower than the beaches of Brazil and Kerala, India. http://www.japancrush.com/2014/stories/beautiful-seaside-park-partially-closed-due-to-radiation-fears.html

  • Tritium has been found above Tepco’s ridiculously low limit in a groundwater well at F. Daiichi. The well is one of the twelve from which in-flowing groundwater from the inland mountains is being “pumped up” and stored before discharging it to the sea. The Tritium concentration found in a recent testing of the well was 1,700 Becquerels per liter. Tepco’s self-imposed limit is 1,500 Bq/l, some ten times lower that Japan’s national standard. Pumping from the well was terminated pending further testing. http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2014/05/28/national/tritium-in-fukushima-groundwater-tops-limit-for-discharge-into-sea/#.U4XQvqNOUdU  (Comment – Tritium is easily the most innocuous radioactive isotope involved with Fukushima groundwater. It is naturally-occurring, with many health spas and spring waters around the world exceeding the 1,500 Bq/l limit. For more objective information on this relatively harmless isotope, click “Background Information on Tritium” in the left-hand column.)

May 26, 2014

  • Tepco has moved 924 bundles out of the unit #4 spent fuel pool. This accounts for 60% of the 1533 fuel bundles originally in the pool. http://www.tepco.co.jp/en/decommision/index-e.html

  • The amount of money paid out to Fukushima evacuees now totals more than $38.4 billion. More than $16 billion has been disbursed evenly to the 85,000 evacuees mandated by Tokyo in the spring of 2011…more than $188,000 for each and every man, woman and child. The typical family of four has thus far been paid more than $750,000. In addition, property and business owners have been paid approximately $17.3 billion, above and beyond the individual compensation amounts. How the “Corporations and Sole Proprietors” volume is broken down has yet to be reported. http://www.tepco.co.jp/en/comp/images/jisseki-e.pdf

  • Tepco is ordered to pay additional mental anguish money to Namie evacuees. Last year, town oofficials filed a petition with the Center for Settlement of Fukushima Nuclear Damage Claims. The Center has granted an additional $500 per month above the $1,000 per month already paid to each resident for mental distress. 98% of the refugees have agreed to the settlement. Originally, the town asked for a $2,500 per month increase, but arbitrators reduced it. The increase will apply retroactively to February 2013, when the current mental compensation pay-outs began. There is a two year statute on the new amount, which ends next February. This will be paid to all of Namie’s 15,000 residents who evacuated the town in 2011. http://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/english/news/20140526_31.html Tepco has also been ordered to pay $4,000 per month to a single evacuee. The payments will last one year, totaling $48,000. Kyoto District Court said the man’s mental distress due to the nuke accident and subsequent evacuation has kept him from holding down a job. The original filing was for $1.3 million. The plaintiff’s lawyers said, “Many people might have accepted low damages through out-of-court settlements, giving up on damages suits due to the time-consuming processes before rulings. The decision could be useful for people to file damages suits even while being in economically difficult positions.” http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2014/05/26/national/tepco-ordered-to-pay-damages-to-nuke-evacuee/#.U4NBnKNOUdV

  • The high-tech wastewater isotopic removal system at F. Daiichi has restarted. All three units of the Advanced Liquid Processing System have been shut down since last week due to problems with a filtering resin. The system outlet waters had become cloudy and high in Calcium. Tepco believes the resin used in the Calcium filters could not stand up to the radioactivity entrained during operation, so the material has been replaced by a more radiation-resistant substance. The company restarted the “B” stream on Friday. The B unit has been off-line since March for renovation. Lines A and C are undergoing the same renovations and replacement of filtering medium. Both are expected to be restarted in June. NHK World; TEPCO partially restarts water treatment system; May 23, 2014 -- http://www.tepco.co.jp/en/press/corp-com/release/2014/1236858_5892.html

  • The results of samples taken during the last week’s release of groundwater to the sea are posted. The data includes the radioactivity levelsoif the water in the storage tank that housed the liquid to be released, and also measurements at the location where the water entered the Pacific Ocean during the discharge. In all cases, the isotopic concentrations were well-below Tepco’s self-imposed limits. http://www.tepco.co.jp/en/nu/fukushima-np/f1/smp/2014/images/gw_drainage_140523-e.pdf

  • The Nuclear Regulation Authority approved construction of the F. Daiichi ice wall. The plan is to surround the basements of the four damaged power plants with frozen earth, in the hope of stemming the daily seepage of groundwater into the buildings. This will either stop or greatly reduce the rate of increase in contaminated waste waters. The ice barrier will extend 30 meters deep into the ground and be approximately one mile (1500 meters) in length. The Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry and Tokyo Electric Power Co. (TEPCO) will start construction of the wall in June. The NRA had raised 30 points of concern with the plan, but all have been resolved to the satisfaction of the agency and their experts. The concerns included whether or not the ice wall will interfere with cooling the melted cores of units #1 trough #3, and whether or not the ice will cause the reactor buildings themselves to move. The NRA said the wall will have no impact on the safety of the plants. http://mainichi.jp/english/english/newsselect/news/20140526p2a00m0na009000c.html -- http://jen.jiji.com/jc/eng?g=eco

  • Antinuclear groups oppose restart of the two Sendai nuke units in Kagoshima Prefecture. It is believed the Sendai reactors may be the first to be restarted this summer. Representatives of seven civic groups from Kagoshima and Tokyo descended on a local government office on Thursday. Tokyo is about 850 miles from Kagoshima. A petition was presented with roughly 3,000 signatures of those opposed to the resumption of Sendai plant operations. The petition was given to Kagoshima officials one day after a lower Fukui court ruled against restart of two Oi station units over allegations of insufficient safety measures. The Kagoshima groups argue that the Nuclear Regulation Authority has not considered the possibility of volcanic ash and rock from the eruption of inactive volcano Aira Caldera, allegedly causing another nuclear accident. NHK World; Civic groups against restart of Sendai plant; May 25, 2014

May 22, 2014

  • The release of “clean” F. Daiichi groundwater has begun. On Wednesday, May 21st, Tepco discharged 561 tons of stored, fully analyzed groundwater to the Pacific Ocean. The radioactivity levels were below the ridiculously low self-imposed limits set by Tepco. All activity levels were verified by independent third-parties before the release began. President of the Fukushima Daiichi D & D Engineering Company, Naohiro Masuda said, "We would like to express our sincere appreciation to many parties, including Fukushima Prefecture and members of the fishing industry, for their understanding in the operation of the groundwater bypass, which plays an important role among the countermeasures to suppress the increase of contaminated water. In operating the bypass, we will pay strict attention to the management of the relevant facilities and, in conjunction with analysis by third parties, maintain the water quality to conform to operational targets." The discharge is the final step in the company’s “groundwater bypass” operation which pumps groundwater out of the earth before it comes in contact with the four damaged turbie and reactor building structures and becomes contaminated. Tepco can now begin a steady “pumping up” of groundwater which is hoped to reduce the amount of liquid seeping into the building basements by about 25%. http://www.tepco.co.jp/en/press/corp-com/release/2014/1236566_5892.html photos and video of the release can be found here… http://photo.tepco.co.jp/en/date/2014/201405-e/140521-02e.html A photographic overview of the “pumping up” locations, storage tanks used while the waters are analyzed for radioactivity, and the location of the point at which the release enters the sea, can be found here… http://www.tepco.co.jp/en/nu/fukushima-np/handouts/2014/images/handouts_140520_06-e.pdf

  • Tepco has received another $1.76 billion to cover evacuee compensation pay-outs for June. By the end of May, the total amount given to the 85,000 Tokyo-mandated evacuees will be $38.8 billion. The money was issued by the government’s Nuclear Damage Liability Facilitation Fund. http://www.tepco.co.jp/en/press/corp-com/release/2014/1236589_5892.html

  • A court has barred the restart of Oi units #3 and #4. Fukui District Court has decided to legally disallow resumption of operations at the Oi station. It is the first time that a Japanese court has ordered a utility not to bring a nuclear plant online. The lawsuit was filed by 189 plaintiffs who live within 250 kilometers of the nuke. One reason for the filing was "An evacuation advisory was considered for those who live within 250 km of the Fukushima Daiichi complex at the time of the accident." This was unquestionably based on former PM Naoto Kan’s paranoiac nightmare of possibly having to evacuate Tokyo during the early stages of the March, 2011 accident at F. Daiichi. The court also said their decision was based on what they call an “invasion of personal rights”. Presiding Judge Hideaki Higuchi admitted the importance of nuclear plants for society, but pointed out that they are "merely a tool for generating electricity and thus inferior to people's fundamental rights (to life). It would be only natural to suspend nuclear plants if they pose specific risks of danger." In addition, the court said the plant "poses a realistic, imminent danger in this quake-prone country", taking the “enormous” effect of the Fukushima accident into consideration. Further, the formal decision says that the plant owners (Kepco) have been too optimistic with earthquake evaluations and do not take into account that there have been 5 cases of nukes experiencing tremors exceeding expectation in the past five years. Lawyer Katsuhiko Kabuki, hailed the Fukui District Court's decision, saying, "It is a refined ruling that declared that the mission to protect residents' personal rights lies with the courts, while drawing a line from KEPCO's [Kansai Electric Company] economic and commercial interests." It was noted that earlier this month, the Osaka High Court turned down a similar lawsuit filed by a group of residents in the Kinki region of western Japan seeking suspension of the two Oi reactors, upholding a lower court decision. Takayoshi Igarashi of Hosei University said, "Judges hand down rulings according to their conscience. It is natural for decisions over nuclear plant safety to turn out different depending on how they perceive the Fukushima nuclear disaster. It is likely that courts will continue to make conflicting decisions, but I believe the Supreme Court will ultimately come up with a uniform decision." The Nuclear Regulation Authority has declined comment on the ruling. Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said the government's stance on restarts remains unchanged, despite the Fukui court decision. http://mainichi.jp/english/english/newsselect/news/20140521p2g00m0dm087000c.html -- http://mainichi.jp/english/english/perspectives/news/20140522p2a00m0na012000c.html -- NHK World; Ruling says plant operator too optimistic; May 21, 2014

  • Kepco has appealed the district court decision barring Oi restarts. Kepco filed with the Kanazawa branch of Nagoya High Court, insisting that the two Oi units are safe. Plaintiff head Tetsuen Nakajima says it will be difficult to overturn the Fukui court decision because it fully supported the plaintiff’s arguments. He added that Kepco must be aware that the plaintiffs are committed to stopping Oi restarts and will re-file if the Fukui decision is overturned by a higher court. Nakajima said he is appalled that Kepco has appealed the Fukui decision. http://jen.jiji.com/jc/eng?g=eco&k=2014052200523 -- NHK World; Kansai Electric appeals court ruling on Ohi plant; May 22, 2014

  • Japan’s largest newspaper calls the Fukui court decision irrational. Concerning the court’s barring of restarts at the Oi nuclear station, The Yomiuri Shimbun said, “This was an irrational court ruling obsessed with the elimination of every scintilla of risk.” In addition, the editorial states, “The Fukui court has ignored the new safety standards that came into force for nuclear reactors in July 2013, and exhibited scant scientific knowledge,” and “No safety steps could possibly be valid based on such unrealistic thinking.” There are other details in the article, which I highly recommend that everyone read. http://the-japan-news.com/news/article/0001299157

  • The Asahi Shimbun says the local public was not “warned” about the venting (depressurizing) of unit #3 on March 14, 2011. Tokyo allegedly told Tepco and the Fukushima government not to make any announcements about the situation at the No. 3 reactor to avoid panic among the public. The actual “dry venting” was never carried out. The Asahi found this in the voluminous testimony given to the government’s investigative committee (NAIIC) in 2012 by plant manager Masao Yoshida. Tepco simulations predicted Iodine exposures of up to 250 millisieverts in Soma, north of F. Daiichi. The threshold for oral thyroid gland protection is 100 millisieverts. All plans for venting were terminated with the unit#3 hydrogen explosion at 11am on March 14. Yoshida explained why no warning was given by him, “Public relations officials can do whatever they want to, such as issuing press releases, but we at the plant had our hands full trying to deal with the accident.” The Asahi says this shows that protection of the public might not be a high priority during a nuclear accident. Lawyer Hideaki Kobura said, “Companies have an obligation to protect the safety of residents during a serious incident. With the central government and TEPCO having failed to clarify responsibility even after three years, discussions should not begin on resuming operations at nuclear plants.” http://ajw.asahi.com/article/0311disaster/fukushima/AJ201405210045

  • The number of detected Fukushima child thyroid cancers has increased to fifty. This is a jump of 17 over the figures posted by the prefectural government in December. The panel releasing the data says it will be difficult to establish a causal link between the children’s cancers and the Fukushima accident. The prefecture’s unprecedented screening program is intended to cover roughly 370,000 children. 80% have been tested. It is hoped all remaining children will be screened and a final report posted by August. http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2014/05/20/national/number-fukushima-kids-thyroid-cancer-jumps-17-december/#.U33ooqNOUdV

  • Once again, the tsunami refugees are subjected to a lack of respect that would never be considered for Fukushima evacuees. The Natori court in Miyagi Prefecture is demanding that tsunami refugees must move out of their temporary housing units due to demands from the local landowner’s union. The Medeshima complex in Natori City houses 322 refugees. The landowner’s union says they will no longer extend the contract for keeping the people there, which expires in June. The landowners want the people out so they can begin land development in October. Because the prefecture's offer to subsidize residents who move into private rented apartments has ended, residents at the Medeshima housing facility will be urged to relocate to other prefabricated temporary dwellings in the city, which can only accommodate 70% of those to be displaced. One of the refugees said, "If we residents are to be separated after giving it our “altogether”, what were the past three years for? I want the city to at least allow everyone to relocate to the same place." http://mainichi.jp/english/english/newsselect/news/20140520p2a00m0na011000c.html (Comment - If this sort of treatment happened to Fukushima evacuees, it would cause a national uproar tantamount to absolute hell.)

  • A British Broadcasting station reports that Fukushima radiation kills people’s souls. This outrageous statement comes from Professor Niwako Yawanami of Brigham Young University. She says, "When I think about that [the line that no-one has died from radiation-related illness], I kind of laugh. Nobody has died from the radiation, but it may actually have killed their souls." Professor Yamawaki believes it is the ongoing fear of radiation and impossibility of returning home, as well as the triple impact of the earthquake, tsunami and nuclear accident, have caused severe mental distress that damages residents. She found that the degree of mental duress found in Hirono residents is greater than what has been the case with “other similar events. She states, "In addition to the natural disaster, the people in Hirono also experienced manmade disaster, which is the nuclear plant. So they are fighting with an invisible threat." The story was balanced by interviewing Professor Gerry Thomas of Imperial College, who said no-one is expected to die or become seriously ill due to Fukushima radiation exposure, "Japan did the right things [when Fukushima Dai-ichi power plant went into meltdown]. It was not perfect. There were mistakes, but everyone makes mistakes in these kinds of situations. Things they did like cutting the food chain, which it is important to do quickly, were effective.” The station also points out that The IAEA findings on Fukushima will cause no health effects other that mental stress and PTSD symptoms due to radiation fears. http://www.channel4.com/news/fukushima-radiation-mental-health-souls-killed-depression

May 19, 2014

  • As of May 19th, 880 fuel bundles have been safely transferred out of the unit #4 storage pool. This marks a 57.4% completion point with the project. http://www.tepco.co.jp/en/decommision/index-e.html

  • A Health Ministry group wants a lifelong analysis of all Fukushima workers. The panel says this will show if any of the 19,000 people who have worker at F. Daiichi have impaired health due to radiation exposure. The panel also says those who have received exposures above government limits should have blood tests with every checkup. Panel chief Toshiteru Okubo says the results could serve as a guideline for the health impact on local resident exposures. The group says they will submit a full report later this month and hope it will be approved so the testing program can begin later this year. NHK World; Panel urges lifelong survey for Fukushima workers; May 19, 2014.

  • The manga (comics) story about radiation-induced nosebleeds continues in the news. Comics are popular reading fare for adults in Japan, providing a break from reality much the same as western soap operas. The recent issue of a manga depicting repeated nosebleeds for its main character being exposed to ambient radiation by a one-time visit to the Fukushima has caused a furor. Areas outside of the exclusion zone in Fukushima are on par with – and in some cases lower than – background radiation levels in the world where healthy life continues. Objections from Fukushima officials have dominated the news reports. The Fukushima Prefecture’s government filed a formal complaint which says (in part), “The feelings of the Fukushima people were totally ignored and deeply hurt.” Now, Prime Minister Abe is involved. He said there is not a single case of someone's health being damaged due to Fukushima exposure and, "There is no confirmation that someone's health has been directly affected by radioactive substances. There is a need for the state to make all-out efforts to deal with baseless rumors." http://www.japantoday.com/category/national/view/nosebleeds-food-and-fear-how-a-manga-became-center-of-a-debate-on-fukushima?utm_campaign=jt_newsletter&utm_medium=email&utm_source=jt_newsletter_2014-05-18_AM -- http://mainichi.jp/english/english/newsselect/news/20140518p2g00m0fp005000c.html The final episode of the comic series was issued today, May 19th. The publisher announced that the series will be suspended and a special story will highlight the many criticisms of the manga. The publisher said the uproar caused by the story is not the reason for the suspension. Rather, it says the cessation of the comic had been planned from the start. The last issue includes the views of 13 “experts” from both the positive and negative camps. Chief editor Hiroshi Murayama said, "We take criticisms and the severe dressing-down seriously, and we will review the depictions in the series." http://jen.jiji.com/jc/eng?g=eco&k=2014051900483

  • PM Abe says that results of medical surveys with Fukushima residents show no differences compared to other prefectures. During a visit to a Fukushima Medical University on Saturday, he said, "I would like to disseminate this accurate information in a manner that helps people understand easily.  [The central government] bears responsibility for ensuring the health of Fukushima Prefecture citizens and children." He also stressed the Tokyo will do its utmost to wipe out unfounded rumors. http://jen.jiji.com/jc/eng?g=eco&k=2014051700279

  • The Fukushima government says all local fruits and vegetables were below government limits for fiscal 2013. It is the first such result since they began testing agricultural and marine products for radioactive Cesium in fiscal 2011. All samples of milk, meat and eggs were below the national standard for the second year in a row. In addition, the Health Ministry has reduced the number of items required for pre-marketplace testing from 98 down to 65. An official said, "We are seeing a lot of food in which radioactive cesium is not detected. We determined that a review was necessary to facilitate effective testing." However, the prefecture’s list of 461 items being tested has remained unchanged. Regardless, Fukushima growers are dissatisfied with the health Ministry because "The central government's perception is very different from that in the field. The effects of unfounded rumors are still strongly rooted." An official with the Shin Fukushima chapter of the Japan Agricultural Cooperatives (JA) group said, "It is inconceivable to say we have a choice of not conducting the testing just because radioactive substances have not been detected." On the issue of how long will the testing of foodstuffs continue, a Fukushima agricultural union official said, "Sometimes I wonder just how long we have to continue [conducting the monitoring]. We need to carry out the testing at least until the stage in which trouble at the nuclear plant, including the contaminated water issue, does not occur at all." http://www.fukushimaminponews.com/news.html?id=346

  • This past week’s compensation pay-outs to Fukushima evacuees has raised the total, to date, to more than $38 billion spread uniformly among the 85,000 mandated evacuees. http://www.tepco.co.jp/en/comp/images/jisseki-e.pdf

  • Numerous lawsuits against Tokyo and Tepco are pending. The common thread is the pain of a “loss of homeland” which money cannot assuage. The first suit was filed in December of 2012, and at least seventeen have been submitted since. All interviewed plaintiffs say the money they receive is not enough. One said, "There is so much sadness and suffering that only someone who has been driven from their homeland can understand.The current compensation system, in which the perpetrators of the damage assess the victims' needs, fails in trying to understand the suffering. That's why I decided to seek a court decision." Tsuguo Hirota, an attorney for some who filed suit, defines the loss of one's homeland as "the destruction of irreplaceable assets, such as nature and communities, as well as unique culture and traditions that people have created and built." He continued that this is a type of damage that has never been seen in pollution and lung disease lawsuits. http://mainichi.jp/english/english/newsselect/news/20140519p2a00m0na010000c.html  (Comment - The news reports continually post the $1,000 per month each evacuee gets for mental anguish, but universally fail to mention the other generous pay-outs each evacuee receives.)

May 15, 2014

  • The discharge of bypass groundwater at F. Daiichi may start next week. 600 tons was pumped out of the ground a few weeks ago, and stored in an uncontaminated tank. Samples were taken and found to be well-below Tepco’s self-imposed limits for release, which are many times less than those set by the government for discharge to the sea. Tepco says the groundwater has 0.047 Becquerels per liter of Cesium-137 and 220 Bq/l of Tritium. An independent laboratory, Japan Chemical Analysis Center, also tested the water and found 0.039 Bq/l of Cs-137 and 230 Bq/l of Tritium. Both testing groups say no radioactive Strontium has been detected. Once the data been formally presented to the local fisheries and all questions are answered, it is expected that the release will begin. Third-party officials will observe the discharge. NHK World; Release of Fukushima pumped groundwater to start; May 14, 2014 -- http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2014/05/15/national/fukushima-operator-release-safe-radioactive-groundwater-within-days/#.U3Sx-aNOUdU

  • Communities near the Hamaoka Nuclear Station say the plant does not qualify for restart. The mayors of all eleven municipalities inside the 30 kilometer evacuation zone (UPZ) say that that Tokyo’s new safety regulations are inadequate. Makinohara Mayor Shigeki Nishihara said, "The location (of the nuclear plant) is unacceptable." Nishihara has called for scrapping the three operational units at the site ever since former PM Naoto Kan ordered them shuttered in May 2011, due to earthquake fears. Omaezaki Mayor Shigeo Ishihara commented, "Just because you have designed [new regulations] does not mean it is alright to go ahead with the restart." Another dissenter, Iwata Mayor Osamu Watanabe, also feels that even the best evacuation plans are inadequate, based on a recent simulation, "The [simulation] was based upon mere bureaucratic calculations, and completely downplayed the psychological factors among residents, such as panic." Hamaoka is located a little more than 140 miles southwest of Tokyo, near an off-shore subduction zone fault believed capable of an 8.0 Richter scale temblor. Hamaoka’s design criterion for a quake is 8.5 Richter scale. Further, an 18 meter high anti-tsunami wall is being built since the worst-case scenario shows a wave height of about 10 meters. http://mainichi.jp/english/english/newsselect/news/20140514p2a00m0na012000c.html (Comment - Immediately following Kan’s sudden shuttering of Hamaoka, the Yomiuri Shimbun called the move “abrupt” and “a political judgment that went beyond technological worthiness.” Regardless, Fukushima-spawned radiophobia has infected the communities around Hamaoka, to the detriment of all involved.)

  • Tokyo is ordering all utilities to overhaul their “thermal” (fossil-fueled) power plants. Ever since the last Japanese nuke was idled two years ago, the nation’s electrical reserve margin has been minimal, with barely enough power to make it through Japan’s scorching summers. To replace the 30% of Japan’s electricity that came from nukes, companies have been operating old, previously mothballed oil, gas and coal burning units, as well as plants that were designed for intermittent “peak load” purposes. All of them have been running constantly since the moratorium began and they are in danger of abrupt, unanticipated mechanical failure. If this happens during peak summer demand, sudden blackouts could happen all over Japan. To reduce the chances for such an infrastructural calamity, the government has ordered electric companies to overhaul the old and/or peaking units ASAP, so they can be relied on this coming summer. http://mainichi.jp/english/english/newsselect/news/20140515p2a00m0na016000c.html

  • The “Fukushima nosebleed” manga dispute continues. Fukushima Prefecture’s formal complaint to the publisher has been posted and says, “The depiction could severely damage the agriculture, forestry, fisheries and tourism industries,” and, “there have been no confirmed cases of direct damage to health caused by radioactive materials emitted from the nuclear accident.” The comic has also upset Osaka officials by depicting eye and nose disorders allegedly due to the local incineration of tsunami debris from Iwate Prefecture. Osaka Gov. Ichiro Matsui told reporters there are already too many misunderstandings about the nuclear accident. He asked, “Please don’t do things that will lead to greater confusion.” Osaka Mayor Toru Hashimoto was disappointed with the manga, as well, “I think he [the artist] went overboard with the depiction that has no basis in fact.” Former Futaba Mayor Katsutaka Igodawa remains steadfast that he gave the artist correct information about Fukushima nosebleeds, “I only spoke the truth. It is wrong for the prefectural government to raise such a fuss.” Another character in the comic portrays a Fukushima University professor who says, “You simply can’t decontaminate a wide area in Fukushima and make it a place where people can live again.”  http://japandailypress.com/manga-series-oishinbo-under-fire-for-fukushima-depiction-1448413/ -- http://the-japan-news.com/news/article/0001274657 (Comment - exploiting people’s fears of radiation is a profitable business in Japan. The profiteers don’t seem to care about the damage their irresponsible work causes.)  

  • Attempts to tie Fukushima to movie icon Godzilla are resurfacing in an unusual fashion. Some critics believe that Japan’s movie-makers can say goodbye to their beloved monster because of the nuke accident. Waseda University professor of literature Toshio Takahashi believes that no Japanese movie company wants to make Godzilla movies because of the controversy over nuke power that exists. Although Godzilla has always been tied to nuclear bomb blasts, the professor says people would necessarily connect it to Fukushima radiation releases because “Godzilla gains strength from nuclear power and he spews radiation everywhere.” New Japanese-made Godzilla movies would make the existing nuclear controversy worse because “he’d ultimately force people to ask hard questions”. Fukushima is too touchy of an issue for Japanese film-makers to deal with. No matter which “side” of the nuclear issue is projected, it will offend large numbers of people. http://japandailypress.com/after-fukushima-godzilla-will-probably-never-come-home-to-japan-1548458/


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