Fukushima 76...9/18/14-10/13/14

October 13, 2014

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

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

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

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

October 9, 2014

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

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

  • Japan opens a new nuclear risk research center. Central Research Institute of Electric Power Industry (CRIEPI) formally established the Nuclear Risk Research Center (NRRC), headed by former American NRC Commissioner Dr. George Apostolakis. Dr. Apostolakis[DT1]  emphasized that “utilities are primarily responsible for risk management,” and the center is to support their risk measures. The NRRC has a staff of about 110, consisting of three teams: Planning/administrative, natural event research, and risk assessment. Chairman Makoto Yagi of the Japanese Federation of Electric Power Companies (FEPC) says he will make every effort to mirror the activities of NRRC in the business activities of the FEPC members. http://www.jaif.or.jp/english/news_images/pdf/ENGNEWS01_1412582200P.pdf

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

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

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

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

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

October 6, 2014

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

October 2, 2014

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

September 29, 2014

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

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

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

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

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

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

September 25, 2014

  • One of the Cesium absorption systems at F. Daiichi stopped briefly. The stoppage of a pump in the system is thought to be due to the improper closure of a valve. The shutdown occurred at about 8:30am on Wednesday. Tepco staff decided to shut down the entire system containing the pump. The company says another Cesium removal system is available and will be used until the cause of the problem is confirmed and resolved. Then, the system will be restarted. The Cesium absorption system treats about 500 tons of highly contaminated waste water per day. http://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/english/news/nuclear.html

  • More information on resentment toward Fukushima evacuees. The Asahi Shimbun surveyed about 1,500 of their readers in Iwaki City (pop. ~340,000) and received nearly 680 responses. 72% said they sympathize with the evacuees, but 74% said they feel the compensation paid to them is unfair. Plus, 65% said they feel “envious” of the evacuee compensation. It is estimated that 24,000 evacuees have taken refuge in Iwaki, contributing to housing shortages and difficulties at city hospitals. Ryosuke Takaki, an associate professor of Iwaki Meisei University, says, “The central government should make itself accountable for the improvement of the city’s infrastructure and the injection of human resources such as doctors to alleviate the city's obligations in taking in evacuees for a long period of time.” http://ajw.asahi.com/article/0311disaster/fukushima/AJ201409230032

  • Japan’s nuke watchdog says cementing contaminated tunnels is necessary. Acting NRA chief Toyoshi Fuketa believes the only way to stop water flow through contaminated equipment tunnels is solidification. Attempts to freeze the contained water to stop flow-through have been unsuccessful. Fuketa says concrete may well be the only solution, and prevent contaminating groundwater assumed to be seeping into the ocean. He added that unless the tunnel flows are stopped, it might not be possible to make the frozen wall in the ground on the sea-side of the turbine basements. Tepco wants to plug the tunnel points of in-flow with cement and then remove the remaining contaminated water for treatment. http://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/english/news/20140924_42.html

  • Japan’s Press keeps alive the notion that Naoto Kan prevented a Fukushima abandonment. Japan Times has re-posted a Kyodo News editorial saying the false rumor of site abandonment was due to Tepco being unclear in its communication with the Prime Minister. However, the article indicates the Prime Minister’s office over-reacted to Tepco’s state of helplessness after 3/11/11, and assumed the company was about to pull everyone out. Tepco maintains that a partial evacuation of unnecessary personnel was being considered, but full withdrawal was never deliberated. Tepco President Shimizu repeatedly phoned Industry Minister Banri Kaieda on March 15 to seek approval for the partial evacuation, but the minister incorrectly assumed a full abandonment was being requested. As the condition of reactor #2 seemed to worsen at 3am on the 15th, Kaieda told Kan abandonment was imminent. Kan over-reacted and said, “If people withdraw, the eastern part of Japan will be destroyed” and ordered Shimizu to not abandon the plant. Shimizu responded that “we do not have in mind such a thing as withdrawal”, but Kan and his staff did not believe the Tepco president. The Press article says, “While officials in the prime minister’s office had misunderstood Tepco’s intentions, Shimizu was also at fault for a lack of clarity in his statements.” Regardless, Kan went off on a 10-minute diatribe, which was watched by Tepco staff at F. Daiichi on a teleconferencing screen. Kan later denied “yelling at everyone” and said he merely meant to keep Tepco from making a withdrawal. At F. Daiichi, an equipment restoration supervisor, Takeyuki Inagaki, said, “Even though we were doing our best, we felt like we had been shot in the back with a machine gun.” http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2014/09/23/national/tepco-plea-evacuate-enraged-kan/#.VCK8lKN0wdU

  • Most evacuated children attend schools outside Fukushima Prefecture. The evacuation resulted in 15,281 children attending new schools. Of these, 9,767 are attending schools in other prefectures. Many are from inside the mandated exclusion zone, but almost as many are the result of voluntary evacuations from outside the zone due to parental radiophobia. One mother from Koriyama (outside the zone) moved to Kyoto and registered her son in a new school. She says, "I wish I could raise him in my hometown, but I'm worried about how the radiation will affect his health." http://ajw.asahi.com/article/0311disaster/fukushima/AJ201409250049 (comment - The listed Asahi article says 130,000 people remain in a state of evacuation. There are about 70,000 who continue to be estranged from their homes inside the mandated exclusion zone. Thus, ~60,000 voluntary evacuees remain separated from their homes due to radiation fears, and for no other apparent reason. Their fears are certainly severe because their government-granted compensation pay-outs ceased more than 18 months ago. They could return to their homes because the radiation levels are completely safe, but distrust of the government and the persistent false assumption that there’s no safe level of exposure keeps them from going back.)

  • A major antinuclear demonstration occurred in Tokyo. Rally organizers claimed that 16,000 people gathered Tuesday to protest the anticipated restarts of two Pressurized Water Reactor units at Sendai Station, Kagoshima Prefecture. The rally, "Goodbye to Nuclear Power Plants," was planned for Yoyogi Park in Tokyo's Shibuya Ward, but was hastily rearranged due to an outbreak of dengue fever. Socio-political author and Nobel laureate Kenzaburo Oe, one of the organizers of the rally, said, "Three and a half years has passed since the nuclear accident, but self-examination has yet to be made. The government is going ahead with the plan to resume operation at the Sendai plant without compiling sufficient anti-disaster plans,” and, “We must raise the voice of national resistance. Let's dissuade them from reactivating the nuclear plant without giving in an inch." http://mainichi.jp/english/english/newsselect/news/20140924p2a00m0na021000c.html -- http://www.japantoday.com/category/national/view/demonstrators-rally-against-restarting-nuclear-plants?utm_campaign=jt_newsletter&utm_medium=email&utm_source=jt_newsletter_2014-09-24_AM

September 22, 2014

  • Tepco will install real-time seawater radiation monitors. The new monitors will enable the company constant observation of the ocean radioactivity, rather than the periodic sampling analyses currently used. The devices will detect both Cesium isotopes of concern (Cs-134 & Cs-137) as well as Beta-emitting nuclides. This should give Tepco a better understanding of contaminated water leakage to the sea, which has been speculated but not analytically confirmed. The devices will monitor the entrance to the F. Daiichi port and the sea along the north and south breakwalls. Trial operation began September 4th. Tepco wants about three months of data for device verification, and plan installation between April and September of 2015. http://www.jaif.or.jp/english/news_images/pdf/ENGNEWS01_1411364118P.pdf

  • The groundwater bypass pumping operation is showing success. Tepco has been “pumping up” groundwater from wells inland from the damaged units, before it can be contaminated. So far, more than 35,000 tons have been pumped out of the wells, purified to be sure it is uncontaminated, then released to the sea. The operation has dropped levels in the wells nearest the contaminated turbine building basements by about 20 centimeters (8 inches), indicating a significant restriction to groundwater inflow with the basements. As a result, Tepco estimates that groundwater seepage into the basements has dropped by 50-80 tons per day. https://dunrenard.wordpress.com/tag/fukushima-daiichi/ (from NHK World)

  • The in-ground barriers to prevent groundwater leakage to the sea are apparently working. There are three monitoring wells between the soil-solidified barriers and the inner port (quay) at F. Daiichi. The latest readings from well 1-9 used to monitor the quay’s shore between units #1 & #2, now shows no detectible Beta emitters or Tritium, and barely detectible Cesium isotopes (Bs-134 @ 4.7 Bq/liter, and Cs-137 @ 13 Bq/l). Well 2-7, between units #2 & #3, shows no Cs-134, 1.2 Bq/l Cs-137, Beta-emitters @ 890 Bq/l, and Tritium @ 670Bq/l. Well 3-5 between units #3 & #4, shows Beta-emitters @ 43 Bq/l and no detectible Tritium. It should be noted that these levels are well-below Japan’s drinking water standards of 60 Bq/l for Cs-134, 90 Bq/l for Cs-137, and 10,000 Bq/l for Tritium. The above should be compared to the highest readings taken before completion of the in-ground barriers, to be found at the bottom of each page listed below. The most striking change is with well 1-9, which showed peaks of Cs-134 @ 170 Bq/l and Cs-137 @ 380 Bq/l in September, Beta-emitters @ 2,100 Bq/l in November, and Tritium @ 860 Bq/l also in November.  http://www.tepco.co.jp/en/nu/fukushima-np/f1/smp/2014/images/2tb-east_14092201-e.pdf -- http://www.tepco.co.jp/en/nu/fukushima-np/f1/smp/2014/images/2tb-east_14091901-e.pdf

  • Tokyo’s new Industry Minister says nuclear energy is necessary. On Sunday, Minister Yuko Obuchi said the resource-poor nation should be realistic about its energy needs, “It would be very difficult to make the decision not to have nuclear power right now.” Japan’s rate of energy self-sufficiency was about 35% with the nukes running, is currently just 6%, and the costs are soaring due to the nuclear moratorium. Obuchi pointed out, “After the Fukushima accident, the cost of fossil fuel imports jumped by 3.6 trillion yen, or 10 billion yen ($100 million) per day.” She also emphasized that no nukes will be restarted unless they meet or exceed Japan’s new, stringent regulations for safety and operation. http://www.japantoday.com/category/politics/view/industry-minister-tries-to-convince-public-on-need-for-nuclear-energy?utm_campaign=jt_newsletter&utm_medium=email&utm_source=jt_newsletter_2014-09-22_AM

  • Some Fukushima fishermen are complaining about the plan to discharge previously-contaminated water to the sea. Tepco and Tokyo held the preliminary briefing on the plans last Thursday. The company wan5ts to pump out water from 42 sumps near the four-unit’s contaminated basement, and discharge it after purification. Not everyone was convinced. One attendee said, “I can’t believe anything TEPCO says.” Another said, “If a critical problem should occur, (local fisheries) would be severely damaged, they wouldn’t be able to recover.” A third complained, “How many times will we have to make a similar painful decision?” It should be noted that these comments were not indicative of the entire number of fishermen, but the Asahi Shimbun made it seem that it is. Future meetings are planned to accommodate those who wanted to attend, but were tuned away due to limited space in the meeting room. http://ajw.asahi.com/article/0311disaster/fukushima/AJ201409190046

September 18, 2014

  • Less than 100 irradiated unit #4 fuel bundles remain to be moved. There were 1331 unit #4 spent (irradiated) fuel bundles to be relocated to the common storage facility when the operation began late last year. As of 9/16/14, 1232 had been safely transferred, leaving 99 yet to be handled. Of the 1533 total bundles initially in the unit #4 pool, 1254 have been removed. Twenty-two of the moved bundles were new, unirradiated bundles. There were 202 unirradiated bundles in the unit #4 pool when the operation began. All spent bundles will be transferred out of the unit #4 pool before the remaining unirradiated bundles are removed. http://www.tepco.co.jp/en/decommision/index-e.html

  • PM Shinzo Abe toured the candidate sites for rural waste storage. The sites in Okuma and Futaba are intended to be intermediate storage facilities for radioactive soil and waste from decontamination work. Okuma Mayor Toshitsuna Watanabe told Abe that property owners will lose land handed down for generations and wants Tokyo to fully explain its plans to the owners. Abe said the complete recovery of Fukushima Prefecture cannot be done without landowner cooperation, and promised legal and financial support for them. Abe added his opinion that a critical solution to the problem has begun. http://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/english/news/nuclear.html

  • Tepco has begun the first test run of the second advanced water treatment system (ALPS). There will be three new process streams with the new system, doubling the daily capacity from the current 750 to 1,500 tons per day. The first ALPS facility was installed in 2012 and has decontaminated some 130,000 tons of wastewater, currently stored in tanks on-site. ALPS receives waters after being stripped of radioactive Cesium by the SARRY absorption system. It then removes nearly all other isotopes before the purified water is sent to storage. The new three-unit stream has improved corrosion protection, flow monitoring, leak detection, backup equipment, and physical leak containment barriers, compared to the ALPS initially installed. The old ALPS has been upgraded to meet the same standards as the new ALPS. A third, more advanced version of ALPS is due to be installed and tested in October, along with a new Strontium removal technology. http://www.tepco.co.jp/en/press/corp-com/release/2014/1242012_5892.html

  • The Nuclear Regulation Authority approved new steps in frozen wall construction. Work to date has been stymied due to difficulty in dealing with contaminated water flowing in equipment tunnels coming out of the plant. The new plan appears to include pouring cement into the tunnels facing the hills surrounding the nuke station. The NRA approved the Tepco proposal on Wednesday. The new concepts are intended to resolve the tunnel water flow problem for about two-thirds of the 1.5 kilometer in-ground wall under construction. Tepco says the side of the plant facing the sea is a more difficult problem because the tunnel waters are highly radioactive. http://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/english/news/20140917_28.html
  • Some Fukushima fishermen oppose discharging uncontaminated F. Daiichi groundwater. Tepco wants to release the groundwater taken out of wells from the inland side of the plant buildings, before it becomes contaminated. The fisheries association said they agreed in principle, but the company would have to convince the union members of the well water safety before full approval would be given. Today, 90 fishing union members met with Tepco in Iwaki City to hear the company’s explanation of how any small amounts of contamination will be removed by purification before being released to the sea. Many in attendance were not convinced about the water’s safety, saying it could still be contaminated to a certain degree. Also, if detectibly contaminated water were mistakenly released, it could be the end of Fukushima’s fishing business. Tepco will hold another informational session because there was not enough space in the meeting room for all the fishermen who showed up. http://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/english/news/nuclear.html [Comment - It seems that the Fukushima fishermen are being confronted by some behind-the-scenes persons who argue that “below minimum detection” does not mean zero. The subtle but significant proliferation of fear, uncertainty, and doubt (FUD) continues in Japan.]


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