Fukushima 72...6/5/14-6/26/14

June 26, 2014

  • Tepco reports that 1122 of 1533 fuel bundles have been removed from unit #4. 1100 of them are spent (irradiated) bundles, with another 331 yet to be transferred. Fuel bundle removal now stands at 73% without incident. http://www.tepco.co.jp/en/decommision/index-e.html

  • The restart of Tepco’s advanced isotopic removal system marks a “major upgrade”. The Advanced Liquid Processing System (ALPS) is back in full, three-stream operation, processing 750 tons of contaminated water per day. ALPS has been off-line for replacement of radiation-degraded filter gaskets and other technical upgrades. ALPS removes the radioactive isotopes that remain after the water is run through the Cesium absorption system (SARRY), except for Tritium. The B stream was restarted on May 23rd, the A stream on June 9th, and the C stream on June 22nd. Since ALPS installation began in October of 2012, the system has processed 86,000 tons of wastewaters. Tepco says they will begin installation of two additional similar facilities with more rugged, higher adsorption capabilities. http://www.tepco.co.jp/en/press/corp-com/release/2014/1238403_5892.html

  • Tepco says Tritium contamination has been found in a deep groundwater layer. A deep sample taken June 4th has shown 4,700 Becquerels per liter of Tritium. This is well-below Japan’s limit of 60,000 Bq/liter and the World Health Organization’s suggested standard of 10,000 Bq/liter. However, this is higher than had been previously found in any of the other deep wells. The deep groundwater layer is about 25 meters below the surface. The pressure in the layer is actually lower than the groundwater flowing above it, which Tepco says may make it possible for contaminated waters above to mix with uncontaminated below. The shoreline barriers along the shoreline go down about 100 meters, so the company says the deep layer’s lower pressure may be due to barrier construction. NHK World; Contamination could spread in deep water; June 25, 2014 

  • Tepco has posted radioactive concentrations in the unit #3 and #4 basements. In unit #3, Cesium-134 concentration is 5,600 Becquerels per milliliter, Cs-137 16,000 Bq/ml, and “total Beta activity” is 52,000 Bq/ml. In unit #4, Cs-134 is 840 Bq/ml, Cs-137 is 2,300 Bq/ml, and total Beta is 5,500 Bq/ml. http://www.tepco.co.jp/en/nu/fukushima-np/f1/smp/2014/images/tb_water_140624-e.pdf

  • Muon-detection may be used to find the location of the damaged cores at F. Daiichi. The system was used earlier this year to identify the exact location of the core of the Toshiba test reactor in Kawasaki. The Toshiba Company is expected to coordinate with Los Alamos National Laboratory to use the system at F. Daiichi. Los Alamos developed the dtechnology which uses Muons in cosmic rays to create x-ray-like images of extremely dense materials. Uranium is one of the densest known elements, and is much denser than the thick concrete walls surrounding the reactor vessels of the three damaged units. Until this year, the technology was used to screen shipping containers for smuggled uranium or plutonium that could be used in weapons. The lab’s new version is much more ambitious and focuses on mapping rather than mere detection. Muons are generated in the upper atmosphere and rain down on our entire planet’s surface, penetration a hundred feet or more. The bombardment of Muons is constant with a concentration of about 10,000 per square meter. When a Muon hits a massive atom, like Uranium, it changes direction. The process of mapping these deflections is called “Muon tomography”. http://www.nytimes.com/2014/06/18/world/asia/measuring-damage-at-fukushima-without-eyes-on-the-inside.html?_r=1 

  • Tokyo estimated what the radiation levels will be for Okuma and Futaba in seven years. These are the two “host” communities for F. Daiichi and experienced the highest concentrations of contamination from the nuke accident. Both communities will likely have radiation levels below the 20 millisievert per year threshold for repopulation by 2021, if planned decontamination is as effective as planned; locations now reading 100 mSv/yr will be at 9-19 mSv/yr for people living in wooden houses and spending 6.5 hours per day outdoors. Even without cleanup work the doses will reduce to 37 mSv/yr due to the effects of time and weathering. NHK World; Govt. estimates efficacy of decontamination; June 24, 2014 -- http://ajw.asahi.com/article/0311disaster/fukushima/AJ201406240055

  • The delay in assessing Sendai restart applications means Japan will have a “no-nukes” summer. The two Sendai units in Kagoshima Prefecture are thought to be the front-runners for restarts. The original plan was to resume operations in August, but Kyushu Electric Company had to re-submit its applications on June 24th with additional information mandated by the Nuclear Regulatory Authority. The NRA says they will not be able to process the 800-plus pages of the applications before the end of July. http://fukushimaupdate.com/japan-to-be-nuclear-free-this-summer-for-first-time-since-2011/ 

  • Antinuclear petitions were rejected at all nine nuclear utility annual shareholder meetings. There was a sparsely-attended antinuclear protest in Tokyo with heavy Press coverage. A few dozen people chanted antinuclear mantras and professed anger with restarts. A minority of shareowners inside called for a ban on resuming nuclear operations at Kashiwazaki-Kariwa station, and demanded its dismantlement. Futaba’s fanatic former mayor, Katsutaka Idogawa, garnered considerable Press. He bought a few Tepco shares in order to be allowed into the meeting. Idogawa joined with members of the group called "Nuclear Phase-Out TEPCO Shareholder's Movement" before the meeting and spouted, "Why did we have to leave Futaba? It is a crime not to take responsibility." Once inside, he lashed out at the company saying, “Why don’t you get exposed to radiation yourself? Why don’t you lose your homeland? You don’t pay enough compensation and don’t take responsibility. I can’t forgive you!” http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2014/06/26/business/corporate-business/tepco-shrugs-activist-investors/#.U6wQgaNOUdU -- http://www.japantoday.com/category/national/view/angry-scenes-as-tepco-shareholders-demand-end-to-nuclear -- http://mainichi.jp/english/english/newsselect/news/20140626p2g00m0bu056000c.html -- http://mainichi.jp/english/english/newsselect/news/20140626p2a00m0na017000c.html

June 23, 2014

June 19, 2014

  • F. Daiichi’s hi-tech wastewater treatment system (ALPS) will resume full operation. ALPS has been plagued by a series of problems since its test-operation period began last year. There are three parallel lines of operation, but technical issues have kept one or more streams off-line much of the time. Occasionally, all three lines have been down. Tepco now feels that the prior issues have been resolved and a final simultaneous test run of all three streams is scheduled to begin Sunday. ALPS will remove all radioactive isotopes from the wastewater except for biologically-innocuous Tritium. http://english.kyodonews.jp/news/2014/06/296706.html

  • The unused fuel bundles in unit#4 fuel pool will be temporarily transferred to unit #6 pool. Currently, 180 unused bundles remain in the unit #4 pool. It is planned that they will not be removed until all spent (used/irradiated) bundles have been transferred. As part of the fuel relocation, Tepco had planned on placing some of the much-older bundles in the Common Facility pool in dry casks to make room for all unit #4 bundles. However, a delay in confirmation of dry cask safety has prevented Tepco from fulfilling this strategy. The company will apply for the plan’s modification with the Nuclear Regulation Authority. Unit #6 sits several meters higher in elevation than the four damaged lower-level units at F. Daiichi, was off-line on 3/11/11, and avoided an accident. Tepco hopes the amended plan will be approved so they can begin the transfer in November. http://fukushimaupdate.com/tepco-to-transfer-unused-fuel-rods-to-new-location/ 

  • The freezing of equipment tunnels for unit #2 hasn’t gone as planned. In April, sub-cooled chemicals were piped through tunnel waters to begin freezing. However, the temperature cannot be lowered enough to freeze the contents. Tepco believes equipment in the tunnels may be keeping the coolant from spreading evenly. They plan to better-control currents in the tunnel and add more coolant pipes, if needed. The plan was to freeze the tunnels by the end of the month and clear the contents later this summer. This is not part of the “ice wall” Tepco is building around the units #1 through #4 basements to stem the inflow of groundwater. Several Japanese and international news outlets have confused the tunnel with the ice wall. The difficulties with freezing the contaminated trench water is not a setback in development of the ice wall, of which construction is proceeding as planned. It is hoped that the tunnels for all four units will be dried and sealed by the end of the year. http://www.tepco.co.jp/en/press/corp-com/release/2014/1237950_5892.html  

  • Japan’s government awarded another $80 million (USD) to Fukushima for reconstruction. The Reconstruction Agency says that the money will be spent across 16 municipalities for public rental housing for returning evacuees, plus the recovery of farming and industrial activities. The grant is part of a $1.6 billion fund intended to jump-start local repopulation after living restrictions are lifted. Minister Takumi Nemoto says the agency will continue to give necessary aid for reconstruction. http://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/english/news/20140617_18.html

  • Many quake/tsunami refugees have abandoned hope to rebuild their homes. The number of pending requests to rebuild on government-reclaimed land in Iwate and Miyagi Prefectures has dropped more than 20% in the last 15 months. One municipality experienced an 80% drop-off. Of the more than 25,000 stand-alone residences planned to replace the homes destroyed or swept away on 3/11/11, the number has plummeted to a bit less than 20,000. Many former homeowners are tired of waiting for the government to fulfill the plans. Instead, they are moving into disaster recovery housing complexes or leaving their communities to look for rental property. Local governments planned to help disaster victims rebuild their homes through collective relocation of communities to higher ground, and/or raising the ground level in devastated shoreline areas. Iwate University professor Junichi Hirota said, "The longer the decisions on relocation sites and land reclamation are delayed, the larger the number of disaster victims who will abandon their efforts to rebuild their homes will be.” http://mainichi.jp/english/english/newsselect/news/20140619p2a00m0na010000c.html

  • The NRA has posted the latest results of ocean monitoring. The data covers the coastline of Fukushima, Iwate, and Miyagi Prefectures, out to about 300 kilometers off-shore. Nearly all locations show undetectable levels of radioactive Cesium, Strontium, and Plutonium. None of the sites have levels in excess of national standards. http://radioactivity.nsr.go.jp/en/contents/9000/8534/24/Sea_Area_Monitoring_20140617.pdf

  • No active faults exist under or near the Hamaoka nuclear station. Chubu Electric Company has completed extensive investigations into the geologic anomalies associated with Hamaoka, and found none of them to be seismically active. The results of the study have been submitted to the NRA. Chubu Electric applied for a safety review by the NRA in February. Hamaoka received major Press coverage soon after the Fukushima accident when then-PM Naoto Kan ordered it shuttered because of his concerns about the station being located at the potential epicenter of an 8.0 Richter-scale earthquake. Kan based his shut-down order on Tokyo seismologist Shinichi Sakai’s prediction of a 70% chance of “the big one” happening by the end of 2015. Subsequently, other seismologists have said an off-shore subduction zone, the Nankin Trough, will likely produce a major quake in the next 30 years. The Trough is about 100 kilometers off-shore from Hamaoka, which is located nearly 200 kilometers south of Tokyo. However, the trough runs less than 50 kilometers off-shore from the Tokyo metropolitan area. Regardless, Hamaoka has severely beefed up its quake and tsunami protective measures to meet or exceed worst-case scenarios.  However, the NRA asked that the anomalies under and near the nuke plant be analyzed for seismic activity indications. http://english.kyodonews.jp/news/2014/06/296722.html

  • Jiji Press continues to promote Fukushima groundwater fears. Jiji says the situation at F. Daiichi is “far from being under control…the source of contamination remains unclear and new record levels of radioactive substances have been detected in groundwater taken at a number of measuring points on the ocean side of the plant's No. 1 to No. 4 reactors.” However, Jiji conveniently ignores two important facts. First, the entire shoreline along the four units has been robustly barricaded deep within the earth, effectively stanching contaminated flow into the harbor. Second, all seawater testing done by the NRA shows that there is nothing going into the Pacific (see above). Jiji is shamelessly reporting in a fashion clearly intended to perpetuate pre-existing levels of fear, uncertainty and doubt.  http://jen.jiji.com/jc/eng?g=eco&k=2014061800727

June 16, 2014

  • Tepco reports that 1078 fuel bundles have been removed from the unit #4 pool. This is slightly more than 70% of the total 0f 1533 that was in the pool before the transfer operation began late last year. Of the total number safely transferred, 1056 were used (irradiated) bundles. Thus, nearly 80% of the 1331 actual spent fuel bundles have been removed from #4 spent fuel pool. http://www.tepco.co.jp/en/decommision/index-e.html  Tepco also reports that the total money disbursed to Fukushima evacuees in compensation for the state-mandated evacuation now stands at $39.6 billion (USD). http://www.tepco.co.jp/en/comp/images/jisseki-e.pdf 

  • Well water in Fukushima Prefecture is clean and safe. The prefectural government has tested 185 wells in the Hamadori and Nakadori regions and found them all safe to drink. The wells are located in 41 cities, towns and villages in the two regions, including evacuation areas. All analyses had no detectible contamination from F. Daiichi. The Nakadori region runs along the Pacific coastline and Hamadori is the region immediately adjacent to the west. Most of the F. Daiichi exclusion zone is in Nakadori and the northwest exclusion corridor runs into Hamadori. 25 of the tested wells were inside the mandated exclusion zone. The results show that communities can use well water as an alternative source if their normal supplies are contaminated. The screenings were run between October of 2013 and this past March. http://www.fukushimaminponews.com/news.html?id=358 

  • Fukushima Prefecture’s birth rate recovered to pre-accident levels. After 3/11/11, the prefecture’s birth rate fell by 4% in 2011 and 7% in 2012. However, it rose 12% in 2013, the largest increase in all of Japan’s 47 prefectures. Since the quake/tsunami catastrophe and nuke accident of 2011, the government has instituted several policies to improve the childbearing environment by offering free medical care, increasing indoor play areas and detection of radioactive materials in school lunches. http://www.fukushimaminponews.com/news.html?id=357 

  • A new robot has been added to the F. Daiichi decommissioning team. Clean-up inside the unit #2 reactor building has begun using an advanced robot made by Husqvarna and modified by Toshiba for use at F. Daiichi. The floors of the building have been cleaned by an earlier robot, named “raccoon”, but the walls, cable trays and ducts could not be reached. The new robot can reach as high as five meters. A dozen cameras are mounted on the machine to allow remote-control operators the best-possible views for operation. The operators are located in a small structure outside unit #2 where radiation levels are well-below permissible levels for nuclear workers. http://www.tepco.co.jp/en/press/corp-com/release/2014/1237440_5892.html  For pictures of the new robot, see… http://www.tepco.co.jp/en/nu/fukushima-np/handouts/2014/images/handouts_140606_09-e.pdf  Pictures of the “raccoon” robot can be found here… http://photo.tepco.co.jp/en/date/2013/201311-e/131127-03e.html 

  • The new Nuclear Regulation Authority Commissioner met with the Press. Tokyo University professor Satoru Tanaka has been criticized by nuclear opponents because…to be blunt…he’s a genuine nuclear energy expert. Tanaka said he has been involved in nuclear energy-related education and research and will utilize his experience as an NRA commissioner. He fully recognizes that a commissioner should make independent decisions and added that the Fukushima accident should not have happened. Tanaka says he will make judgments while keeping in mind that human knowledge has limits and nuclear energy will always have risks. He and Tohoku University Geologist Akira Ishiwatari will replace two current commissioners in September. Ishiwatari has not come under attack. A few lawmakers say Tanaka is unqualified because he is the former member of the Japan Atomic Industrial Forum and has received more than $100,000 (USD) in research grants from Tepco over the past three years. NHK World; New NRA member rejects criticism; June 13, 2014 

  • The NRA has posted their latest analytical results of the seabed off-shore from F. Daiichi. The sea-bottom at 6 kilometers distance has about 2,000 Becquerels per kilogram of Cesium-137. At 4 kilometers distance, the Cs-137 concentration is about 1,000 Bq/kg. The highest reading was at the mouth of the Abukuma River, more than 40km north of F. Daiichi, with a level of 2,700 Bq/kg. The University of Tokyo and the National Maritime Research Institute ran the analyses covering a 1,000-sq.-km area. The new data compares favorably with that posted by the local fisheries in 2012, indicating that the Cesium is fixed in the seabed and not migrating. http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2014/06/14/national/nra-reveals-cesium-readings-seabed-fukushima-1/#.U5w0d6NOUdU  

  • US EPA Deputy Secretary Daniel Poneman agrees with Japan’s new energy policy. He feels that nuclear energy is vital in reducing carbon emissions. Japan’s new policy calls for a steady reduction in nuclear reliance, but allows for nuke operation as a base-load electricity source. Pone man finds this entirely appropriate. NHK World; Senior US official welcomes Japan’s nuclear stance; June 13, 2014 

  • A monthly Jiji Press poll shows a slight majority of their audience opposes nuke restarts. The most recent survey showed that 51.9% of the respondents disfavor nuclear energy resumption and 33.7% favor it. However, members of PM Shinzo Abe’s Liberal Democratic Party show 55.2% support for restarts and 31% against. Politically-independent respondents are 58.5% against and 26.2% in favor. http://jen.jiji.com/jc/eng?g=eco 

  • Japanese antinuclear forces held a restart protest rally in Kagoshima City. 700 demonstrators gathered at the prefectural assembly on Friday demanding that none of the Sendai nuclear units resume operation. They included locals as well as people from Tokyo and Fukushima Prefecture. One local, age 65, said he lives 30 kilometers from the nuke station and no evacuation plans have been drawn up. A Tokyo woman says Japan has been living quite well without nukes for a long time so the Sendai units are not needed. She accused nuclear companies of only thinking of profits and not caring if people’s lives are threatened. Kagoshima Governor Yuichiro Ito says he will decide on the restart if the plant passes the NRA safety screening, while taking into account the opinion of the prefectural assembly. Two Sendai Pressurized Water Reactor units are thought to be at the top of the list for the NRA safety evaluation process. http://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/english/news/20140613_28.html

June 12, 2014

  • Decontamination continues to significantly reduce radiation levels inside the F. Daiichi exclusion zone. Six locations where “experimental” decontamination has occurred were the focus of a new monitoring survey. Communities where estimated annual exposures were greater than 50 millisieverts per year are now at 20-50% of pre-decontamination levels. 50 mSv/yr and above is politically considered unsuitable for living. In Futaba Town, measurements near public buildings vary between 26 and 40 mSv/yr, which is 20-30% of the estimated levels three years ago. In Namie Town, residential districts vary between 29 and 75 mSv/yr, which is 40-50% of the values originally projected. Thus, test decontamination efforts inside these highly contaminated areas have had considerable success. Tokyo will now consider whether or not to begin full-scale decontamination inside the “unsuitable for living” zones after polling evacuees concerning their intent to return home. NHK World; Radiation levels remain high in unlivable areas; June 10, 2014 

  • Rice farming is now allowed in six formerly restricted communities near F. Daiichi. Soon after the 2011 accident, farming was restricted in 12 municipalities due to radiation concerns, plus farmers in other communities voluntarily suspended rice growing. The restrictions were lifted this spring in half of the communities, totaling 5,200 hectares of potential rice crops. However, only about 2% of the farmers have resumed rice planting. Some local officials say insufficient decontamination in fields and possible contamination in water supplies are two prominent complaints from those who are reluctant to return to their fields. The community with the highest resumption rate is Minamisoma at 3.4%. This is followed by Tomioka at 0.2%, Namie and Okuma at 0.1% and Katsurao at 0.06%. No-one in Futaba has taken advantage of the restrictions being lifted. NHK World; Resumption of rice farming slow in Fukushima; June 11, 2014 

  • Nuclear opponents say one of the new watchdog commissioners is a proponent of nuclear power and unacceptable. The lower house of Japan’s Diet approved the candidacy of two commissioners to replace the ones who will be leaving later this year. One of the two stepping down is a fierce critic of nuclear energy because of earthquake concerns. Thus, opponents of the move say the Nuclear Regulation Authority will lose its appearance as an independent regulator. The replacement candidate causing the protest is Satoru Tanaka, a nuclear engineering professor in Tokyo. Tanaka has received about $100,000 (USD) over the past three years in research grants from nuclear utilities, which critics feel makes him unacceptable. Tomoko Abe, an anti-nuclear lawmaker said, “Bringing someone like Tanaka on as a regulator changes the fundamental role of the NRA. This nomination could undermine the very role of the regulator.” To the contrary, industry analysts say any nuclear expert in Japan receives funding from the nuclear community. Hideyuki Ban of Citizens’ Nuclear Information Center responds, “But it is a matter of the degree of money you receive,” implying that Tanaka got too much money to be trusted. Activists had hoped Kazuhiko Shimazaki would remain. The government says he and Kenzo Oshima wanted to leave at the end of their two-year terms. NRA Chair Shunichi Tanaka is no relation to the candidate under fire. http://www.japantoday.com/category/politics/view/independence-of-japans-nuclear-regulator-questioned-after-shakeup 

  • The US Nuclear Regulatory Commission reports that the risk of a spent fuel pool (SFP) fire is miniscule. In fact, the risk of fire vanishes a few months after spent fuel is removed from a BWR and placed in a pool. The reason is the on-going nature of ever-diminishing radioactive decay. The NRC adds three important findings of their recently-completed several-year study. First, SFPs are built to safety levels far beyond design criteria, are “robust” and will survive “seismic forces greater than the maximum earthquake reasonably expected”. They cite what happened with Fukushima Daiichi which “did not result in any spent fuel pool leaks”. Second, “Spent fuel is only susceptible to a radiological release within a few months after the fuel is moved from the reactor to the spent fuel pool. After that time the spent fuel is coolable by air…” Plus, the likelihood of a radiological release from the spent fuel after the analyzed severe earthquake is about one in ten million per year. Thirdly, even if there was an early radiological release, the risk to the public would be negligible. These important findings show that continued concern about spent fuel transfers at Fukushima Daiichi leading to apocalyptic catastrophe is groundless. The NRC Commissioners approved the findings by a 4-1 vote. It is not surprising that professional American antinukes such as the Natural Resources Defense Council and the Union of Concerned Scientists insist that the NRC analysis is incomplete, that there are scenarios which were ignored, and there are hidden consequences that were not addressed. http://ansnuclearcafe.org/2014/06/10/spent-fuel-pool-fire-risk-goes-to-zero-a-few-months-after-reactor-shutdown/ -- http://atomicinsights.com/improvements-spent-fuel-pool-modeling/  (Comment – I wish to thank Rod Adams at Atomic Insights for writing the above-linked editorials, from which my summation was taken.)

  • Minority shareholders of Japan’s nuclear utilities want a withdrawal from nuke power. Although submissions were given to each individual utility, it seems likely this was jointly planned because they were tendered simultaneously. The action comes before the June 26 shareholder’s meetings to be held by all companies. It is unlikely that the submissions will lead to policy changes with any of the nine utilities because the signatories represent a very small fraction of total shares in each case. The submittal made to Tepco said the company should not plan on restarting any of its Kashiwazaki-Kariwa units, but rather decline resumption of operations “based on the assumption that all nuclear power plants will not be restarted”. http://ajw.asahi.com/article/0311disaster/fukushima/AJ201406120042 (Comment - Soon after 3/11/11, Japanese antinuclear groups asked their followers to buy shares in the nation’s nuke utilities for the purpose of making the antinuclear view known to mainstream investors. This tactic has been part-and-parcel to antinuclear strategy around the world since the American Three Mile Island incident in 1979. By owning a few shares, activists have the right to file “no-nukes” proposals for shareowner meetings, but no one in their right mind would expect minority opinions of this low magnitude to have any actual impact. Rather, this is little more than a ploy to garner Press coverage from sympathetic news media outlets, in this case the continually nuclear-critical Asahi Shimbun.)

June 9, 2014

  • 1034 fuel bundles have been removed from unit #4 storage pool (SFP). There have been a total of 47 transfer cask operations. This is more than 67% of the 1533 bundles that were in the SFP when the process began in November. 1012 of the transferred bundles were used (spent…irradiated) and 22 were fresh (unused…unirradiated). The percentage of irradiated bundles that have been transferred is more than 76%. http://www.tepco.co.jp/en/decommision/index-e.html   A Tepco posting for June 6 shows that $39.3 billion has now been distributed to Fukushima evacuees. http://www.tepco.co.jp/en/comp/images/jisseki-e.pdf

  • 3.4 tons of mildly contaminated rainwater may have leaked from a storage tank barrier. Tepco reported it on Friday. The leaks were from two tanks that hold rainwater with radioactivity above national limits for open release. The leakage was into a coffer dam surrounding the tank group, and a drain valve on the dam was found to be cracked open. The valve was immediately torqued shut. Radiation levels in the vicinity of the valve were somewhat higher than other locations. The last time the tank group was inspected was in March. Tepco says it was not checked more often because the tanks were smaller than those holding Cesium-stripped waters and the radioactive contents much lower. The company is collecting soil samples and will report the analytical results when the data is available. http://fukushimaupdate.com/tepco-contaminated-water-may-have-leaked-from-storage-tanks/

  • Radiation expert Dr. Jerry Cuttler says the remedy for radiophobia is to discard “politicized science”. His provocative paper is published in the Dose-Response journal. Cuttler says that the first UNSCEAR report on the impact of low dose exposures from Hiroshima/Nagasaki bombings in 1945 drew a conclusion not supported by the data. UNSCEAR said that excess leukemia incidence is proportional to dose, but the data itself clearly shows a threshold exposure level below which the effects appear to be beneficial. Cuttler says the conclusions were based on politics rather than science. Cuttler goes on to examine the threshold for harmful effects and the biological mechanism for beneficial effects of low exposures. Low level exposure “up-regulates” our natural cellular and DNA repair mechanisms, while high exposure impairs these processes. Cuttler argues the threshold for biological harm is 2,000 millisieverts per year, which is more than a thousand times greater than Japan’s widely-publicized limit of 1 mSv/yr. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4036393/

  • PM Abe’s Cabinet says Fukushima remains Japan’s biggest environmental challenge. This judgment is contained in a “white paper” approved June 6th. Specific challenges mentioned included the future construction of storage facilities for rural contaminated wastes and constant monitoring of the health of residents. The paper also says there is a need to do a better job of alleviating unfounded public concerns. In addition, solar power programs in Fukushima Prefecture are cited as a model for moving ahead with “environmentally-friendly” projects. http://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/english/news/20140606_18.html

  • More information on the new F. Daiichi Strontium removal technology. The system created by Kurion Inc. is designed to strip radioactive Strontium from the wastewaters now stored at the station. The stored water has been stripped of radioactive Cesium, but the Strontium remains. The first shipment of equipment has been delivered and is being inspected. The balance of the system should arrive in the upcoming weeks. Nuclear Regulation Authority Chair Shunichi Tanaka has told Tepco to prioritize Strontium removal in order to lower radiation levels around the storage tanks. A Kurion Press statement says, “The larger and more complex ALPS processing facilities are designed to decontaminate 62 of the 63 radioisotopes present in tank water to prepare it for release in to the environment. This is different than the purpose of Kurion system, which is a mobile system to accelerate improvement of safety at the site by focusing on strontium reduction.” http://blogs.wsj.com/japanrealtime/2014/06/09/fukushima-watch-tepco-eyes-radioactive-strontium-removal-system/

  • Tohoku Electric Company has received local permission to ask the NRA to make safety checks for unit #1 at Higashidori, Aomori Prefecture. Permission has been given by the Aomori prefectural and Higashidori municipal governments. Tohoku Electric hopes to restart the unit in March of 2016. The company has upgraded the site’s ground acceleration criteria for the unit by 33% and the maximum tsunami height from 10 meters to 11.7 meters. Currently, the NRA is examining geologic anomalies under the premises to decide whether or not one or more might be active earthquake faults. http://jen.jiji.com/jc/eng?g=eco

  • Former PM Naoto Kan is using the decision to release all 2012 accident testimony to attack the current government. Kan says he fully supports making all testimonies given to the NAIIC investigative committee. He included a verbal jab at PM Shinzo Abe, “They [transcripts] should be released to the greatest extent possible unless the current administration decides to handle disclosure in an arbitrary manner.” Former Cabinet member and Kan crony Yukio Edano echoed his prior boss’ words, “I will not oppose it as long as the records are not made available arbitrarily as a result of political intervention with regard to whose testimonies are subject to disclosure and which portions will be released.” There are 772 testimonies on file, but the ones where the interviewees do not give their permission will not be made public. http://ajw.asahi.com/article/0311disaster/fukushima/AJ201406060042
  • (late entry) Tokyo proposes a new town for 5,000 F. Daiichi decommissioning employees. The Cabinet Office and the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry say the new town will help create jobs and prompt evacuees to return to their homes. The town will be in Okuma Town, Onagawa District, which is adjacent to the F. Daiichi station. Vice Minister Kazuyoshi Akaba said the community will also be home to international research staff. Currently, most workers live outside the 20 kilometer radius often called the “no-go” zone. The new community will be inside the zone. Housing for 3,000 is expected to be ready in 2018, including hospital and restaurants. Akaba said, “We can create a unique base that would attract global attention by taking advantage of technological developments for decommissioning purposes.” Some local officials are not so optimistic. One said, “While the plan sounds like something like a dream, will evacuees want to return to a community where only workers (involved in decommissioning) are living? There is the possibility that the return of residents will only be pushed further into the future.” http://ajw.asahi.com/article/0311disaster/fukushima/AJ201406090045

June 5, 2014

  • Tepco has found a leakage point out of unit #1 primary containment (PCV). The general location of the leak was discovered in November by a robotic boat floating on the water in the suppression pool (torus) basement. The specific location is from a “flexible joint” in a pipe coming out of the PCV wall above the torus. Tepco feels the cause is corrosion. The leak rate is estimated to be between 190 and 375 gallons per hour. The precise location of the leak was discovered using a high-tech Hitachi/GE-Nuclear robot which was lowered to the suppression chamber’s catwalk and remotely operated from a building hundreds of meters away. The search continues in unit #1 for other possible PCV leaks. The attached Tepco link includes links to two graphic handouts on the discovery. http://www.tepco.co.jp/en/press/corp-com/release/2014/1237151_5892.html

  • Construction of the “ice wall” at Fukushima Daiichi has begun. Some Japanese Press, such as the Mainichi Shimbun, focus on local concerns. Other news media, e.g. NHK World, appear to take a more objective approach. The Mainichi posts that some local fishermen express uncertainty with notions such as "We can't tell if it will be truly effective until it is completed". Kenji Nakata of the Fisheries federation said, "In any case, fishery operators are praying that it will not move in a worse direction. We want them to carry out the work with no mistakes first." The newspaper suggests this worry is based on recent Nuclear Regulatory Authority concerns about removal of groundwater from around the basements and whether or not the structures might sink into the ground and cause the reactor buildings tilt. However, the article fails to mention that all four units are firmly grounded on sedimentary bedrock and any possible soil subsistence around the basements will have little or no effect. Meanwhile, Tepco points to concern resolution. Some cited evidence includes last month’s successful testing of a 10 meter stretch of soil, the ice wall being designed to survive a two month power outage while maintaining enough integrity to block groundwater, and the advantage of not needing to build a conventional wall around tunnels, pipes and cables. NHK World focused on the initiation of work while mentioning that a few open technical issues are being addressed, due to the unprecedented nature of freezing a 1.5 kilometer-long stretch of soils. One issue is whether or not lowering groundwater levels around the basements will cause the contaminated water in them to leach out and into the surrounding soil. NHK also mentions concerns about the stability of cable and equipment tunnels outside the basement walls after freezing.  http://mainichi.jp/english/english/newsselect/news/20140603p2a00m0na007000c.html -- http://www.tepco.co.jp/en/press/corp-com/release/2014/1237060_5892.html -- NHK World; Work of frozen wall begins at Fukushima Daiichi; June 3, 2014 

  • The on-going sea discharge of uncontaminated groundwater goes virtually un-noticed. In fact, the only mention of the third release on Monday is at the very end of Tuesday’s Japan Times report on the start of the ice wall project. Regardless, the three uncontaminated groundwater discharges have totaled 2,035 tons (more than 500,000 gallons). In addition, there has been no mews media mention of the on-going analytical results of the waters discharged or the radioactivity at the immediate point of release to the ocean. An example of the total safety of the operation is Tepco’s posting of June 4th, showing no impact whatsoever on the sea. In addition, the data chart includes the massive difference between Tepco’s self-imposed target for discharges and the national standards in Japan, which are the lowest in the world. Relative to recent “high radiation” headlines in Japan concerning Tritium in one of the wells from which the groundwater is pumped, we can see that the 1,700 Becquerel per liter concentration is just a bit more than Tepco’s target value (1,500Bq/l), but 35 times lower than the national limit (60,000 Bq/l). Tepco also posts Japan’s drinking water standard for Tritium (10,000 Bq/l), although the release is not into a potable source and no sane person drinks seawater.  http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2014/06/02/national/work-on-giant-underground-ice-wall-begins-at-fukushima-plant/#.U42XU6NOUdU --  http://www.tepco.co.jp/en/nu/fukushima-np/f1/smp/2014/images/pump_well_14060402-e.pdf

  • The Asahi Shimbun says that government inspectors were the first to flee the Fukushima accident. The article says the exodus of Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency (NISA) officials from the site unnecessarily compromised communications between the government and Tepco. The NISA inspectors traveled to what is termed a “makeshift” facility located 5 kilometers from F. Daiichi. The Asahi says, “With all government safety inspectors absent from the No. 1 nuclear power plant, the government had no direct means to grasp what was happening there. As a result, it was forced to depend entirely on TEPCO for information,” and prompted then-PM Naoto Kan to set up a joint government/Tepco task force in Tokyo. The Asahi then attacks post-Fukushima NRA regulations requiring inspectors to stay at the accident site in an emergency office, saying the rules are unclear and do not prevent inspectors from leaving. What the Asahi fails to mention is that NISA officials at the accident site were doing exactly what they were supposed to do! The 5 kilometer-distant facility was supposed to be a communications’ hub, but could not be run due to the regional blackout caused by the massive earthquake. http://ajw.asahi.com/article/0311disaster/fukushima/AJ201406030026 

  • Tokyo says they will release transcripts of 772 interviews recorded during the Diet’s accident investigation in 2012. The document releases will depend on permission from each person who was interviewed. Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said, “I’ve ordered (staff) to quickly carry out procedures to confirm the intention of [the interview subjects]. We will disclose the records if they agree, based on the Information Disclosure Law.” Additional information may be redacted if deemed it would violate the rights or interests of third parties, or harm “the safety of the nation,” Suga added. Until now, Tokyo had refused transcript releases because many persons — including government officials and Tepco employees — spoke on condition that their testimony would not be publicized. The panel granted them confidentiality to encourage honest answers. It has also been reported that a minority group of Tepco shareholders plan a lawsuit to force full transcript disclosure. http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2014/06/05/national/772-fukushima-no-1-interviews-slated-for-release/#.U5B5jqNOUdU – NHK World; TEPCO shareholders ask for interview release; June 5, 2014

  • The latest international nuclear plant issue is volcanic eruptions. The focus of the concern is the Sendai nuke station in Kagoshima Prefecture. Two Sendai units are at the head of the NRA list for possible restarts. The station is near the ancient undersea caldera of a long-dormant volcano. Kyushu Electric Co., owner of the facility, has run simulations on possible volcano eruptions and their potential impact. Kyushu’s worst-case scenario results in a station coating of volcanic ash 15 centimeters deep. The company has taken provisions to clear the ash and maintains the station would not suffer an accident. Critics charge that a caldera eruption could smother the plant under 60 centimeters of ash with devastating consequences. Tokyo volcanology Professor Setsuya Nakada, says, “No-one believes that volcanic risks have been adequately discussed." Toshitsugu Fujii, a Japanese meteorological expert, added to the uncertainty notion by saying, "It wouldn't be surprising for any part of Japan to experience earthquakes or volcanic eruptions at any time. The question is when, and we don't have the technology to predict that." On the other hand, Professor Charles Connor of the University of South Florida's School of Geosciences said the risk of a caldera-forming eruption near the Sendai plant was "very low on the time scale of the human experience". http://www.reuters.com/article/2014/06/04/us-japan-nuclear-volcano-idUSKBN0EE2BF20140604

  • Oxford Physics Professor Wade Allison has been interviewed by TCEtv of The Career Engineer organization. The topic is why we should not fear radiation, and Allison proposes a concerted public education program on the realities of radiation as the only way to overcome radiophobia. http://vimeo.com/97112852


<< Later Posts | Earlier Posts >>