Fukushima 82...3/2/15-3/16/15

March 16, 2015

  • 53 families continue to live inside the Fukushima exclusion (no-go) zone. Some are located inside the most highly-contaminated areas. None of the families live in areas where even overnight stays are sanctioned. The law does not stipulate punishment for ignoring the evacuation or overnight stay orders. The families have been repeatedly told to leave by government officials, but they have ignored the requests. While living in the no-go zone is difficult, it is not impossible. Some residents say they have stayed to tend to livestock. http://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/english/news/20150313_02.html

  • Tepco suspects the latest F. Daiichi leak comes from station soils. Specifically, the containment barrier surrounding fifty-two 1,000 ton wastewater storage tanks. A routine area monitoring survey detected an elevated radiation level outside the barrier. It was next found that the water level inside the barrier had dropped a few inches; indicating that up to 750 tons of mildly contaminated water had escaped the enclosure. Subsequently, a few of the seams in the barrier’s plastic covering were found to be leaking. One of the enclosure’s tanks holding highly contaminated water leaked in 2012 and about 100 tons soaked into the enclosed soil. F. Daiichi workers scraped up many tons of soil and felt they had removed all of the entrained contamination. Now, Tepco says they may have failed to get all of the 2012contamination. An official said, "There is no leakage from the storage tanks, and the underground water will not flow into the ocean." http://mainichi.jp/english/english/newsselect/news/20150313p2a00m0na013000c.html -- http://www.tepco.co.jp/en/nu/fukushima-np/handouts/2015/images/handouts_150312_01-e.pdf (Tepco’s Press handout of March 12)

  • Tepco says at least 90% of F. Daiichi wastewater will be processed by the end of May. This, plus continued cleanup of contaminated solid debris, will reduce exposure levels at the property boundary of the station below 1 millisievert per year. In fact, the 1 mSv/yr goal should be reached by the end of March. 90% of the wastewater falls into three general categories: water already fully processed, stored waters that need treatment, and already-processed waters containing detectible isotopes. About 200,000 tons have yet to receive any kind of treatment, and 20,000 tons have high levels of seawater which must be processed slowly to insure all contaminants are removed. http://www.tepco.co.jp/en/press/corp-com/release/2015/1248751_6844.html -- http://www.tepco.co.jp/en/nu/fukushima-np/handouts/2015/images/handouts_150316_02-e.pdf -- http://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/english/news/20150316_26.html

  • Radiation levels in 88% of Fukushima Prefecture are below Japan’s decontamination standard. The standard is 0.23 micro-sieverts per hour. There are 78 inland areas that have been monitored by the prefecture. Only four were initially below the national limit created after the Fukushima accident. Now, 62 are below standard. Along the coast, only 22 of the 302 monitored locations remain above standard. The coastal monitoring includes locations in Futaba and Okuma; F. Daiichi’s host communities. The Nuclear Regulation Authority has another 3,661 monitoring locations. 88% of the NRA locations are less than 0.23 mSv/hr.  Monitors take readings in residential areas, parks, schools, and government offices. Release of this information has relieved many worried residents. One man says, “When I hear that radiation levels are lower than the standard in nearly 90% of the spots, I feel relieved.” http://ajw.asahi.com/article/0311disaster/fukushima/AJ201503120066

  • Many brokers say the public is not convinced Fukushima-produced food is safe. All rice and 58 species of food-fish have been cleared for marketing. While some of the rice can find buyers, most large-market brokers steer clear. Why? One Tokyo broker said, “Even if a product is of good quality, many consumers will avoid it when they hear it comes from Fukushima.” The head of Soma-Futaba Fisheries Cooperative Association, Hiroyuki Sato said he felt the buying public was about to shift gears until recent contaminated rainwater reports hit the Press. He said, “We’d been conducting strict checks and confirming that our products were safe, and then this happened. Now consumers might become reluctant to buy from us again.” Most dealers must sell at well-below market prices in order to move their product to smaller-market buyers. What is frustrating is that contamination levels range between non-detectible to barely detectible. But it makes no difference. Fear of radiation, even the mere possibility of radiation, pervades the Japanese buying public. http://the-japan-news.com/news/article/0001999476

  • Non-destructive, inexpensive Cesium-only food monitoring is now possible. The technological breakthrough was announced by RIKEN (Japan’s largest comprehensive research institution) and G-Tech Corporation. The device is dubbed LANFOS, standing for “Large Area Non-destructive Food Sampler.” Currently, food testing requires grinding up the material before analysis. The new device allows the food to be analyzed without mincing it. Also, the system distinguishes Cesium emissions from the radioactivity released by other contaminants. In order to do all this, new scintillation detectors were created that are sufficiently sensitive and relatively inexpensive. LANFOS technology will analyze packages of food without destroying their contents, enabling the inspection of all packaged foods before shipment. http://www.jaif.or.jp/en/cesium-only-measurements-now-possible-at-fukushima/

  • Rural contaminated waste transfer has begun. Soil and debris with radioactive particulates are being moved from several locations inside the prefecture to the temporary storage facility in Okuma Town near F. Daiichi. The planned interim facility straddles the towns of Okuma and Futaba.  The Environment Ministry intended to start transfers to the two towns at the same time. However, shipment to Futaba was postponed because Tokyo was unable to make timely arrangements with the town. So far, only enough property has been secured to hold 20,000 cubic meters of the trash. The entire 16 km2 facility is designed to hold 22 million m3. Some Okuma residents don’t like what is going on. One man doesn’t trust the government to move the material after 30 years. A woman says that her home is near the planned facility, so she does not want to back. http://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/english/news/20150313_01.html -- http://jen.jiji.com/jc/eng?g=eco&k=2015031300675

  • The number of Fukushima’s “disaster-related” deaths continues to rise. The prefecture has had 1,867 deaths related to the calamities of 3/11/11, while Iwate has had 450 and Miyagi 909. Only Fukushima has more “related” deaths than the number actually caused by the massive quake/tsunami (1,603). Fukushima officials say the disparity may be due to the prolonged nuclear evacuation, which has not been the case in the other two prefectures. A death is recognized as disaster-related if it is deemed by a panel of doctors, lawyers, and other experts, to have a causal relationship with the quake, tsunami or nuclear disaster. Each identified death allows for about $50,000 in compensation to the families of the deceased. http://www.fukushimaminponews.com/news.html?id=481

  • A health survey on Fukushima workers has only 35% participation. More than 2,000 were initially wanted by the Radiation Effects Research Foundation, but only 704 will take part. The Foundation says some of the poor response (~3%) is being unable to find many who are migrant construction workers. About 28% declined participation, either because contractors would not pay them for lost time or centers for the exams are too far away. Another 18,000 will be asked to participate beginning in April. The 20,000 worked at F. Daiichi between March and December of 2011. During that period, Tokyo raised the worker limit on exposure from 100 to 250 millisieverts to facilitate labor tasks. The Foundation will try to determine the health effects on the workers to see if cancer rates are elevated or not. http://ajw.asahi.com/article/0311disaster/fukushima/AJ201503150018

  • Many voluntary evacuees and some from locations where evacuation orders have been lifted are unable to get alternative housing compensation. They can continue to be compensated for approved evacuation housing, but if they want to move to larger housing due to increasing family size, they are being rebuffed. One woman in Kawasaki who fled from Fukushima City, doesn’t want to go home because radiation levels are greater than 1 mSv/year. She wanted to move to a bigger Kawasaki property to accommodate her family, but governments of Kanagawa Prefecture, Fukushima Prefecture, and the Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare, rejected her alternative housing request. They had to relent, however, when her landlord said her rental contract would not be renewed. But, the government will only compensate her for approved evacuation housing, which she says is less then the new rent. http://mainichi.jp/english/english/newsselect/news/20150313p2a00m0na015000c.html

  • PM Shinzo Abe is criticized for his presentation to the UN conference on disaster risk. The conference is being held in Sendai, Miyagi Prefecture. Sendai gained a modicum of international infamy with the real-time videos of the tsunami on March 11. 2011. While the focus of the UN’s meeting concerns natural calamities, some Japanese criticized Abe for making only a brief mention of the Fukushima accident. Namie Mayor Tamotsu Baba said, “[Abe’s speech] was no good at all. He may not have wanted to give negative impressions [of Japan].” Still others speculated that the PM wanted to avoid the ongoing radioactive wastewater issue. Meanwhile, international speakers focused on the topics announced for the conference; natural disasters and preparing for them. French Minister Annick Girardin stressed that climate change is making the situation increasingly critical, saying, “[The Sendai Conference is] above all a call for lucidity because it is no longer possible to ignore climate chaos”. Other speakers (including Abe) called for improved disaster warning systems and increased female leadership in the effort. http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2015/03/15/national/abe-mum-on-fukushima-at-u-n-disaster-risk-confab/#.VQWBs6McQdU (Comment - An international group of activists will publish an unfortunate booklet on Fukushima. The Global Citizen’s Conference on Fukushima was held this week in Fukushima City and has drafted the booklet called “10 Lessons from Fukushima – Reducing risks and protecting communities from nuclear disasters.” In it, many pure speculations and fabrications are presented as factual, including the false claims that many secret incinerators are being built by Tokyo to burn radioactive waste and thyroid cancer rates in Fukushima’s children are increasing. It adds that Tokyo has been reluctant to tell the truth about Fukushima because of the UN disaster conference. It seems the booklet will be published by Church World Service. http://www.cwsglobal.org/blog/the-situation-is-not-under-control.html -- http://english.kyodonews.jp/news/2015/03/341609.html)

March 12, 2015

Japan’s Press has posted a massive number of Fukushima 4th anniversary reports. Most of the reports are negative, which is to be expected from the plethora of Japanese news outlets that admit to being decidedly antinuclear. But one news outlet outside Japan has posted a complete fabrication. It is to be found on James Corbett’s (of Corbett Report fame) “Fukushima Updates” page. It copies a news posting out of Iran which openly states “A fresh report in Japan shows the number of deaths by radiation from the country’s Fukushima nuclear power plant disaster in 2011 increased by 18 percent last year.” (bold-face added for emphasis) http://fukushimaupdate.com/about/  There have been exactly zero deaths in Japan as a result of the radiation from F. Daiichi! A retraction by Corbett’s Fukushima Update page and Iran’s Press TV is an ethical imperative. I expect neither will happen.

A summation of 4th anniversary reports was posted yesterday. Rather than indulge in unnecessary redundancy, please go to the following link… http://www.hiroshimasyndrome.com/fukushima-four-years-after.html

Now, here is some current news concerning Fukushima Daiichi…

  • Tepco reports that 750 tons of mildly radioactive rainwater “may have seeped into the ground”. The company says that any of it having reached the ocean is “unlikely”. It appears that heavy rains resulted in the protective sealing of a dike around several storage tank coffer dams to leak around the seams in the sealing material. Inspections for possible tank leaks inside the diked area found nothing. Thus, all of the liquid that seeped into the ground must have been rainwater. Gross Beta activity of the residual water in the dike, and some puddles that have built up outside the barrier, varied from 150 to 8,300 Becquerels per liter. A minor fraction of the Beta activity is probably Strontium-90. Strontium analysis takes several days, so the actual concentrations are forthcoming. No radioactive Cesium was detected. After sampling, the dike area was drained by pumping the water into a wastewater storage tank. Tepco continues to study the cause of this specific dike’s elevated radioactivity. http://www.tepco.co.jp/en/press/corp-com/release/2015/1248631_6844.html  The Tepco Press handout, including graphic depictions of the location of the diked-in area, can be found here… http://www.tepco.co.jp/en/nu/fukushima-np/handouts/2015/images/handouts_150310_01-e.pdf Two of the twelve groundwater sampling point around the spill point show increases. One Gross Beta reading is 18,000 Bq/l, and the other is 2,700 Bq/l. All others do not seem to have been affected by the spill. http://www.tepco.co.jp/en/nu/fukushima-np/f1/smp/2015/images/around_h4_map-e.pdf  (Comment - Much of Japan’s largely antinuclear Press is once again blowing this out of proportion. For example, The Mainichi Shimbun dubs the rainwater “highly radioactive” and The Asahi Shimbun calls the incident a “massive leak of rainwater”. Even the usually neutral NHK World has waxed sensational with the headline “Groundwater radiation levels surge after leak”, and the statement that Tepco “does not know yet if the contaminated rainwater has seeped into the Pacific Ocean.”Clearly, the Japanese Press desires to keep Fukushima angst elevated through elaboration designed to exploit FUD…Fear, Uncertainty and Doubt.)

  • Fukushima’s home cooked meals have no detectible radioactive Cesium. Three of the prefecture’s cooperatives tested two days-worth of meals from 100 households, and all were below the detection limit of 1 Bq/kg. The survey has been performed annually since 2011. Over the 4-year period, checks have covered 600 households. In 2011, 10% were found to have detectible Cesium, 4.5% in 2012, and 3% in 2013. A Fukushima Cooperative official said, "Testing by the prefectural government and efforts by producers, among other factors, led to the decrease." http://www.fukushimaminponews.com/news.html?id=480

  • The percentage of Iitate’s willing returnees increases. Iitate village is located at the further distance from F. Daiichi in the northwest contamination corridor. The entire community has experienced the Tokyo-mandated evacuation. In 2013, the Reconstruction Agency’s survey showed 21.3% of the residents were willing to return, but in 2014 it rose to 29.4%. 32.5% said they are undecided (down 3.6 points) and 26.5% said they will not return (down 4.3 points) A total of seven evacuated communities were surveyed in 2014, and five revealed the percentage of those wanting to return has increased. http://www.fukushimaminponews.com/news.html?id=479

  • Japan’s harmless research reactors were not exempt from the nuclear moratorium. Japan has roughly a dozen of these devices. There are two University reactors at Kinki and Kyoto Universities. They reactors produce so little heat at full power that no cooling systems are needed; in fact, there are no temperature increases in the surrounding room during operation. The Kinki reactor only makes one watt of power, and the Kyoto device 100 watts (a standard incandescent light bulb’s worth). The Tokyo-mandated idling of the reactors has left the universities in a state of bewilderment. One incredulous Kinki University professor said, "It is structurally impossible for a big accident like the one at Fukushima to occur at the Kinki University reactor." Regardless, NRA Chairman Shunichi Tanaka points out that a research reactor is quite different from a normal nuclear reactor. He has called on the agency’s staff to "also think a little bit about pushing the screenings forward". On the other hand, he stresses that safety must always be considered. (Aside – This is quite contradictory considering there is essentially zero chance of a nuclear accident with university reactors. First he says they are quite different from power plant reactors, then he makes a safety plea similar to those made concerning power plant nukes. What is he thinking? A college professor once told me that before making a provocative statement, always engage brain first! Tanaka would be well-served to keep this in mind. – End aside) University reactors are used for academic research and student training in the most-basic of nuclear operation. In addition to cessation of student training, experiments for medical therapies, reactor physics experimentation, and radiation testing have been stopped. Both universities have called for prompt restarts, but the NRA has essentially ignored them. Student training has continued at a great cost by sending them to Kyung Hee University in South Korea. Tetsuo Ito of Kinki University said, "This was the first time for us to do practical training at a nuclear reactor overseas." Computers that simulate the inner workings of a nuclear reactor are, of course, another option. But, Shinsuke Yamanaka, a professor Osaka University, says, "It can't be a substitute for the tension of handling the real thing. Even if we adopt a policy of not promoting nuclear power, universities will still need to produce graduates who work with nuclear energy. I'd like the NRA to conduct its screening with this reality in mind." http://ajw.asahi.com/article/0311disaster/fukushima/AJ201503110041

  • Japan’s nuke watchdog Chief continues to stoke the fires of fear. This time, NRA Chief Tanaka says, "There have been quite a few accidents and problems at the Fukushima plant in the past year, and we need to face the reality that they are causing anxiety and anger among people in Fukushima. There are numerous risks that could cause various accidents and problems.” He added that he suspects the lessons from Fukushima may fade from memory through the passage of time, saying, “As regulators, we must not forget what we’ve learned from Fukushima.” http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2015/03/11/national/nra-chief-warns-of-ongoing-risks-at-wrecked-fukushima-no-1-plant/#.VQBEaKMcQdU -- http://english.kyodonews.jp/news/2015/03/340744.html (Comment - one loud antinuclear voice in Japan has already used the Chairman’s words to further fan the flames, as we shall see later in this Update.)

  • Tokyo Electric Co. (Tepco) struggles to recover financial stability. Over the past four years, Tepco has seen its considerable investment in nuclear powered electrical generation lose mightily. Of the six undamaged units in Fukushima Prefecture, the two at F. Daiichi (#5 and #6) will be turned into a training and research facility. The four unharmed units at F. Daini seem unlikely to restart due to severe local public and political outcry. In addition, the seven units at Kashiwazaki-Kariwa station (KK), Niigata Prefecture, have been idled due to the post-accident nuke moratorium. In order to compensate, Tepco restarted old fossil-fueled units, nearly doubling the company’s fuel costs per year. 2012 marked the first time Tepco was “in the red” financially. This spurred significant rate increases and a streamlining of staffing everywhere but with F. Daiichi. Fiscal 2014 was the first year the company showed a profit since 2011. However, a major reason for the profit was due to “make-shift” cost-cutting measures and major delays in long-overdue planned maintenance on the fossil-fueled units. Plus, Tepco will eventually have to begin repaying the subsidies extended by the government to provide the generous monthly compensation payments to Fukushima’s mandated evacuees. Tepco needs startups of at least some of the KK nukes to begin to see light at the end of this dark economic tunnel. With Niigata Governor Hirohiko Izumida’s unwavering dissent towards restarts, Tepco is facing a dire financial future. http://the-japan-news.com/news/article/0001991657

  • Tokyo signs a contract with local property owners in Okuma and Futaba. The government needs the land to store the huge amount of rural, detectibly radioactive materials generated through decontamination. While it but a small portion of the 16 square kilometers needed, it is an improvement over what has been the case until now. Roughly 2,400 people own plots inside the future facility, but procurement has not proceeded very well. The landowners want top dollar for their land, and most do not believe the materials will only be there for 30 years, which the government has made a legal commitment. Takashi Sugimoto, 73, an Okuma landowner said, “I’m sure they’re considering this site as a final storage destination for radioactive trash. I can’t trust them, no one can, about what will happen in 30 years’ time.” The Ministry says, “We understand that residents have concerns. But we have made this promise at the highest level.” http://english.kyodonews.jp/news/2015/03/340452.html -- http://www.japantoday.com/category/national/view/fukushima-residents-torn-over-nuclear-waste-storage-plan

  • Former NAIIC Chairman Yotaro Hatamura says Japan has learned nothing from Fukushima. The Nuclear Accident Independent Investigation Committee was created by the Japanese Diet in 2011. Its report was issued in July of 2012. The study included several speculations, such as the accident at unit #1 starting before the tsunami caused the full station black. Although the Nuclear Regulation Authority has proven that there is no substance to the supposition, Hatamura maintains “Sufficient investigations have not been conducted” and “Almost none of (our proposals) have been reflected”. He also made a left-handed swipe at the NRA, saying, “It does not appear that organizations to watch (government actions) are working properly…  There could always be lapses in oversight in safety assessments, and an accident will surely happen again.” As for restarts, Hatamura believes that they should “be declared only after sufficient preparations are made, such as conducting evacuation drills covering all residents living within 30 kilometers of each plant based on developed evacuation plans.” http://ajw.asahi.com/article/0311disaster/fukushima/AJ201503100048

  • Ex-PM Junichiro Koizumi continues to condemn Japan’s nuclear policy. In a not-surprising 4th Fukushima anniversary verbal fusillade, Koizumi said he was “dumbfounded” by present PM Shinzo Abe’s support of nuclear energy resumption in Japan. He also reiterated that he was shocked by Abe’s 2013 statement that the situation was under control, saying, “It is not under control at all. I cannot believe he would ever say something like that.” Koizumi added that Abe is being irrational by supporting restarts because “The chairman of the Nuclear Regulation Authority has said that even if nuclear power plants meet the NRA’s new regulation standards, that itself does not guarantee their safety.” In addition, the ex-PM asserted that nuclear is the “least cost-effective method of power generation.” He next broadsided Tokyo over the nuclear waste issue, “It is irresponsible for the government to make the decision and force other parties to obey it when the resumption of idled nuclear power plants is set to produce even more spent fuel.” Finally, he rejected the notion that nukes are needed to turn the nation’s economy around, saying, “The nation can see economic growth through natural sources of energy.” http://ajw.asahi.com/article/0311disaster/fukushima/AJ201503120038 (Comment - Koizumi has no idea that all energy sources trace their roots to the sun. The sun makes 100% of its energy from nuclear processes, including a tiny fraction from fission. Further, he must have no idea that a group of natural fission reactors generated energy on Gabon more than a million years ago. Bottom line…nuclear is natural. Mr. Koizumi…get yourself educated!)

March 9, 2015

  • Tepco announces a new disclosure policy. The Company has accepted a proposal to conduct an independent audit of disclosure practices. Tepco says it “will disclose promptly and thoroughly all radiation data that affects the surrounding environment, regardless of its level or whether it can be fully explained.” Company Chairman Fumio Sudo said: "It is important that we understand why the apparent failure of disclosure surrounding the drainage water happened and take steps to ensure transparency to which we are committed. We must regain public trust by making thorough disclosure of radiation data regardless of its level, and by increasing our communication with local stakeholders." The audit will be conducted by a Disclosure Subcommittee of the Nuclear Reform Monitoring Committee, chaired by Masafumi Sakurai, who previously served with the Diet's Fukushima Nuclear Accident Independent Investigation Commission. Sakurai said, "This audit will follow the facts wherever they lead, and will recommend whatever changes may be needed to prevent something like this from happening again." http://www.tepco.co.jp/en/press/corp-com/release/2015/1248564_6844.html

  • Water in another drainage ditch has elevated radioactivity. Tepco reported contamination levels of 1,900 Becquerels per liter in a drainage channel in the upper part of the station. Tepco officials say it is possible that water from the ditch reached the sea. The diagram shows the channel’s outlet inside the fully barricaded inner port (quay). Tanks near the suspect location were checked for leakage, but none were found.  http://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/english/news/20150306_05.html

  • F. Daiichi debris buildup is a problem. A total of 258,000 cubic meters of non-liquid radioactive wastes have been accumulated from units #1 through #4. 176,000m3 came from rubble strewn about by the three hydrogen explosions in March, 2011, and work materials that became contaminated. The remaining 80,000m3 is mainly trees felled to make room for new waste water tanks. Tepco estimates full on-site rubble cleanup will take until 2017. http://ajw.asahi.com/article/0311disaster/fukushima/AJ201503080013

  • Will the 46,000 who fled from Fukushima Prefecture ever go home? Emiko Fujimaki, now living more than 1,000 kilometers from Fukushima in Okinawa, says, “I guess more people might return to Fukushima when their rent subsidies expire.” The State-ordered rent subsidy ends in March, 2016. Unless her income somehow increases, Emiko will have to move into cheaper public housing. She says her family has firmly settled in their new location, so she doesn’t feel she will ever return to their former home in Soma. Soma lies outside the mandated exclusion zone, so she is a voluntary evacuee who fled out of fear of radiation. Fukushima Prefecture estimates that about half of the people who have left the prefecture were voluntary. As of May, 2014, only 17.5% of these evacuees say they want to go home, and another 36% say they are undecided. Thus, more than 45% say they no longer wish to return. http://the-japan-news.com/news/article/0001982214

  • Disposal of agricultural waste is slow due to local radiation fears. Contaminated grass clippings, compost, tree logs used to cultivate mushrooms, and other burnable materials having less than 8,000 Bq/kg, await incineration. 137 municipalities in five prefectures, Fukushima, Iwate, Miyagi, Tochigi and Gunma, have kept or still keep the material. Only eight have finished disposal, while another 41 say they are working on it. However, 88 have done nothing because residents fear incineration, and burial of the radioactive ash that results. In these communities, many farmers are forced to keep the materials on their property. The longer the waste sits unattended, the more it will decompose and become unsuitable for incineration. http://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/english/news/nuclear.html

  • Most residents have not returned to towns where evacuation orders have been lifted. The mandates were rescinded for the eastern part of Kawauchi last October, and the Miyakoji district of Tamura in April. Only 10.5% (29 of 275) of the Kawauchi residents have returned and about 40% (133 of 340) of Miyakoji have repopulated. The main reasons given by dissidents have been concerns about still-detectible levels of radiation and employment potential. The highest percentage of returnees are elderly. Hideo Akimoto, Kawauchi recovery policy chief, says there had been a steady trend of depopulation and aging of the community before 3/11/11, but “this surged after the earthquake disaster. It feels like time has advanced 20 years.” A Tamura official says the low rate of return is because people have moved their lives, found new jobs, new schools, and places to shop. http://mainichi.jp/english/english/newsselect/news/20150307p2a00m0na009000c.html

  • Most Fukushima municipalities do not expect full restoration before 2021. An Asahi Shimbun survey showed that about 80 percent of disaster-hit municipalities in Fukushima Prefecture will not completely restore their areas before 2021. The newspaper sent questionnaires to 42 municipalities - 12 in Iwate Prefecture and 15 each in Miyagi and Fukushima prefectures - that were damaged by the Great East Japan Earthquake and Tsunami of March 11, 2011, or were otherwise subject to nuclear evacuation orders. 13 municipal leaders in the survey, most of which are from Fukushima Prefecture, expect work to extend beyond the central government’s schedule ending in 2021. Only one said work will end before 2020. http://ajw.asahi.com/article/0311disaster/recovery/AJ201503060044

  • Tokyo will soon begin a nation-wide campaign to find a high-level nuclear waste repository. Symposiums are planned to include Sapporo, Sendai, Tokyo, Nagoya, Osaka, Fukuoka, and possibly four other cities, hosted by the Industry Ministry and the Nuclear Waste Management Organization of Japan. Symposiums were held in three cities in 2013, but attendance was disappointing. It is hoped the turn-out will improve this time, and facilitate establishing a candidate site. The government also wants to utilize social networking. http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2015/03/08/national/government-start-campaign-nuclear-waste-disposal-sites/#.VPxaUKMcQdU

  • Tokyo appropriates $50 billion for quake and tsunami reconstruction. The allocation begins in 2016 and will be spread over a five year period. This should bring the government’s total reconstruction outlay to about $300 billion. Tokyo says the increase in funding will not result in new tax increases. Tokyo plans to complete disaster recovery in 2021, except for specific locations near Fukushima Daiichi that might need further decontamination. Meanwhile, Iwate, Miyagi and Fukushima governments say their prefectures will need even more money for additional rebuilding and disaster prevention projects. http://mainichi.jp/english/english/newsselect/news/20150308p2g00m0dm034000c.html

  • A fourth anniversary antinuclear protest was held in Tokyo on Sunday. Organizers claim an attendance of 23,000. (Aside – Russia’s RT news says attendance was “more than 16,000”.) Protestors called for nuclear-free energy policy and demand that none of the county’s currently-idled nukes be restarted. Many say they came to the event because most people’s memories of the accident have faded. One elderly participant said she is disappointed that so few younger people were there. Chief organizer Misao Redwolf says she wants to raise awareness that the full human impact of Fukushima has yet to be understood and evacuees remain without adequate support. Activist-author Kenzaburo Oe said, “Three and a half years has passed since the nuclear accident, but self-examination has yet to be made. Japan’s government] is going ahead with the plan to resume operation at the Sendai plant without compiling sufficient anti-disaster plans.”  http://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/english/news/nuclear.html -- http://rt.com/news/190068-japan-nuclear-energy-protest/

March 5, 2014

  • Fukushima’s nuke host towns jump on the rainwater run-off bandwagon. The four host communities for F. Daiichi and F. Daini have lodged a formal protest for failure to disclose that radioactive rainwater run-off has been detected for nearly a year. Naraha Town Mayor Yukiei Matsumoto, representative of the 4 towns, submitted the complaint to Tepco on Thursday. It didn’t matter that the mildly-contaminated rainwater flow had no impact on the ocean or the surrounding environment. Matsumoto said the situation has seriously undermined trust within the local communities. http://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/english/news/20150305_29.html (Comment - Undermined the trust of the local communities? The historical record shows that the local communities have never trusted Tepco following the nuke accident in 2011. How can a history of distrust be undermined?)

  • Most Fukushima residents are unhappy with Tokyo’s handling of the F. Daiichi situation. The Asahi Shimbun says 71% of a survey’s respondents are dissatisfied with government efforts. Only 14% expressed satisfaction. This is the fourth-such accident anniversary survey. All have shown the rate of dissatisfaction at between 70-80%. Concerning the recent rainwater run-off hullabaloo, 80% said it is a “major problem” while 16% said “it was somewhat of a problem”. On a more positive note, about 50% either highly or somewhat valued (appraised) rural decontamination efforts. This is nearly a 10% improvement over the previous surveys. http://ajw.asahi.com/article/0311disaster/fukushima/AJ201503040063

  • Tokyo and Tepco extend business compensation pay-outs. It had been planned to end compensation for damages to business owners who lost income due to the mandated evacuation in February, 2016. However, many business operators will not be able to continue if compensation payments stop. As of January, about $4.5 billion had been paid out. In addition, the compensation period for businesses outside the evacuation zone due to harmful rumors will also be extended. The harmful rumor compensation has totaled about $13 billion. An official with the Industry Ministry said, "The guidelines for the government's Dispute Reconciliation Committee for Nuclear Damage Compensation stipulate that there is a 'certain limit' to the compensation period. Paying damages for an extended period of time will not lead to reconstruction." The prior end-date for compensation met with furious opposition from the business community which said that business operators will suffer loss of income well into the future. The above figures are not part of the evacuee compensation pay outs that have totaled about $47 billion, nor the additional $1,000 per month given to each evacuee for mental anguish or “incapacity” to work. The “incapacity” damages were ended in February and the mental anguish pay-outs are to end when evacuation orders are lifted in each community. http://mainichi.jp/english/english/newsselect/news/20150303p2a00m0na009000c.html -- http://jen.jiji.com/jc/eng?g=eco&k=2015030300837

  • The NRA has created new nuke evacuation guidelines. Although the NRA has not yet publicly posted, NHK World reports that the new strategies account for the fact that many Fukushima evacuees lived more than 30 kilometers from F. Daiichi. Existing guidelines call for emergency planning within 30 km of a nuke station. It is believed that the strategies will address if and when distant residents need to stay indoors (sheltering). The decisions will be based on radiation monitoring data and meteorology. Any sheltering order may be lifted after the radioactive plume has passed. http://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/english/news/20150304_21.html

  • A brief update on the Muon Tomography project. Muon Tomography technology was set up in early February to find where the melted fuel is located in units #1 and #2. A team member from the High Energy Accelerator Research Organization (KEK) said, "We are gathering data, and it's going well. We believe we can produce results by the end of March." http://jen.jiji.com/jc/eng?g=eco&k=2015030300734

  • The target date for waste water purification has been deferred another year. Instead of removing all radioactive isotopes except Tritium by the end of March, Tepco now says it will probably take until May, 2016. The company says that about 200,000 tons of water has yet to be fully purified. More than 300,000 tons have been run through ALPS, but will also have to be run through the Strontium-stripping system so that all radioisotopic concentrations are below Tepco’s self-imposed limits. However, because there will be tiny detectible levels of some isotopes remaining after full purification, Tepco says they may have to re-run the purified water through ALPS and the strontium removal processes a second time. http://mainichi.jp/english/english/newsselect/news/20150303p2a00m0na003000c.html -- http://www.tepco.co.jp/en/press/corp-com/release/betu15_e/images/150227e0101.pdf

  • Many Tsuruga residents believe nuke restarts are a necessity. The city of Tsuruga has taken a severe economic downturn since the government’s nuke moratorium began. Tsuruga is the largest municipality on the Wasaka Gulf Coast; home to fourteen nuclear units. One resident says, "Money doesn't circulate when the reactors aren't in operation. It's suffocating." Many new businesses that opened in the last two years have been forced to shut down. Antinuclear Tsuruga assemblywoman Harumi Kondaiji admits the moratorium has damaged the local economy. She says the upcoming local elections will probably see restart-supporters win, yet "People are worried about their livelihoods, so even if they question (the wisdom of reactivating reactors), that's probably not reflected in how they vote." http://mainichi.jp/english/english/newsselect/news/20150304p2a00m0na003000c.html

  • The Japanese courts are the last hope for antinukes to bar restarts. Historically, courts have been hesitant to get involved with business and industry issues, however the strong public sentiment against nuke restarts may cause a judicial policy shift. Numerous suits have been filed across Japan over the past two years. Several may be decided in March due to the impending restarts at Sendai and Takahama stations. Antinuke lawyer Yuichi Kaido says, “Now that we are drawing closer to restarts, there is no other entity but the judiciary to realistically stop it.” Kaido represents the plaintiffs in cases against Sendai and Takahama. The suits allege that earthquake risks have been underestimated, the plant owners have not met Japan’s new safety regulations, and emergency evacuation plans have not been completed. Kaido’s team of lawyers plan to file injunctions with every plant approved for restart by the NRA. He says, “Judges must know that their decision could stop the next nuclear accident.” Last year, A Fukui court ruled against restart of any of the Ohi station units. Kaido said, “I am hopeful that the Sendai judge will feel the same.” Former Industry Ministry official Akihiro Sawa feels one pending suit might be successful, “I think residents could win the (Takahama) shutdown in Fukui District Court.” On the other hand, owner Kansai Electric Co. believes it is likely the suit will be dismissed. http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2015/03/05/national/court-battles-are-sole-remaining-obstacle-to-nuclear-restarts/#.VPhUW6McQdU

March 2, 2014

Japan’s Press, fisheries, and NRA continue to bash Tepco over the mildly-contaminated rainwater incident…

  • 20 officials from Fukushima Prefecture checked on the situation at F. Daiichi on Friday, inspecting the drainage ditch monitors, flow gates, and zeolite absorption bags for Cesium absorption. The officials asked whether or not other building roofs had been checked for similar levels of contamination and suggested increased surveillance of rainwater run-off. http://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/english/news/20150227_47.html  The National Fisheries Federation filed a formal protest with the Industry Ministry and Tepco. The issue is that Tepco has recorded fluctuations in drainage radiation levels since August of last spring. When it rained, the levels went up, and then returned to typical levels after the rainwater run-off had stopped. It makes no difference that there was no high radiation alarm condition until Sunday, Feb 22nd. The statement says (in part), “It is undeniable that (this failure) will further spread the harmful rumor that has been troubling fishermen nationwide and will largely affect the future of the fishing industry. The anger among local fishermen who have been waiting to resume their business is immeasurable.”  The Fisheries also complain that each and every fluctuation should have been broadcast by Tepco, even though it was not an alarm condition. Hiroshi Kishi, chairman of the National Federation of Fisheries, says that Tepco betrayed the fishermen and lost their trust. He demanded a full explanation on why these “leaks” were never disclosed and immediate action to prevent any rainwater “leaks” from happening in the future. Tepco responded that it had not broadcast the fluctuation in radiation levels because it did not indicate a serious problem and seawater testing showed no radiological impact on the sea. Kishi angrily retorted that Tepco has no understanding for the situation with Fukushima’s fishermen.  http://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/english/news/20150227_28.html -- http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2015/02/27/national/fisheries-group-lodges-protest-against-tepcos-failure-to-disclose-leak-of-radioactive-rainwater/#.VPC9SaMcQdU 

  • Adding insult to injury, the local Fukushima Fisheries said they refuse to allow any more releases from F. Daiichi to the sea. The Association says they were betrayed and can’t trust Tepco anymore. The company has asked the fisheries in Iwaki and Soma City to accept the plan to pump groundwater from wells around the station, remove any radioactive substances, and release the water. The association says that is no longer acceptable because they cannot be confident that the plan is safe. Association chief Masakazu Yabuki told reporters that the participants were very angry and he has no idea when discussions about releasing the ultra-purified waters can resume. http://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/english/news/20150227_43.html

  • The drains from the roof of the unit #2 reactor building “carry-in” entrance has been covered with waterproof sheeting to prevent rainwater from picking up contamination before it goes into the drains. The drains are surrounded with bags of Zeolite to filter out radioactive Cesium. The handout on the placement of waterproof sheeting and Zeolite-filled bags can be found here… http://www.tepco.co.jp/en/nu/fukushima-np/handouts/2015/images/handouts_150302_01-e.pdf

  • The Asahi Shimbun reports that the Nuclear Regulation Authority “slammed” Tepco for failing to announce every radioactivity fluctuation in rainwater run-off. NRA Chairman Shunichi Tanaka said, “TEPCO must reflect seriously (on the delay). We are concerned that the company's efforts to secure a safe environment will be unable to obtain trust (from the people).” Another NRA official said, “We should have pushed TEPCO much more strongly to tackle the issue.” (Aside - Does that sound like the NRA actually “slammed” the company? – end aside) It has been over a year since the radioactivity fluctuations were first noticed and told to NRA inspection team in January, 2014. The NRA advised the company to take countermeasures by the end of March, 2015. Tepco began recording regular measurements in April of that year. Tepco also covered all surrounding slopes because that was felt to be the source of the contamination. In December, the NRA was told the fluctuations had not ceased. It was only when an alarm occurred on February 22nd that the situation was reported. At the time, Tepco said that the cause was being investigated and that there was no increase in ocean activity. This seems like a weak excuse to the newspaper. The Asahi Shimbun alleges that Tepco “concealed” the information because nothing was reported to the Press about the rainwater run-off for more than a year. The Asahi speculates that Tepco “decided long ago there was no need to monitor rainwater for radioactive materials,” which seems to contradict that Tepco has been monitoring ditch activity since January, 2014. In addition, the newspaper exaggerates when it calls the rainy day fluctuations prior to last Sunday’s alarm “high concentrations of radiation”. The Asahi has been a decidedly antinuclear news outlet for four years. It is Japan’s second-largest newspaper.  http://ajw.asahi.com/article/0311disaster/fukushima/AJ201502280036

Now, for some other updates…

  • There was a “dramatic decrease” in F. Daiichi radionuclides in the Pacific from 2011 to 2012. Dr. Jay Cullen of FukushimaInForm reports that a recently published study shows a massive 100,000-fold drop in radioactive Cesium within the sea off Japan and China. Further, by 2012 the level of Strontium-90 was “virtually indistinguishable” from pre-accident data. In addition, the readings during 2011-2012 are completely consistent with the official estimates of total radioactivity released by the accident. What is most surprising is that by 2012, many of the samples analyzed showed no Cesium-134; the isotope that allows researchers to determine whether the Cesium comes from Fukushima or is residual from post-WWII weapons’ tests in the Pacific. Other samples had very low levels of detectible Cs-134. The average Cs-134 concentration was only about 1.2 Becquerels per ton of seawater. Average Cs-137 activity in 2012 was about 1.7 Bq/ton versus 1.2 Bq/ton before the nuke accident. http://fukushimainform.ca/2015/02/26/dramatic-decrease-of-fukushima-derived-radionuclides-in-the-northwest-pacific-ocean-2011-2012/#more-1136

  • PM Shinzo Abe inspected the new rural waste storage facility in Futaba. Abe was accompanied by Futaba Mayor Shiro Izawa. Izawa asked the PM for constant support because the decision to accept the facility was difficult and unpopular. Abe thanked the mayor and local residents for allowing the facility to be built, saying, “We will proceed carefully [with construction of the facility] while respecting people’s feelings about their hometowns.”  He also said, "I hope to speed up the decontamination work to ensure reconstruction." http://english.kyodonews.jp/news/2015/03/338837.html -- http://the-japan-news.com/news/article/0001971779

  • A major highway through the Tohoku Region is now fully open. The Joban Expressway runs along the Pacific coast from Tokyo through the northeastern prefectures, called the Tohoku Region. Much of the highway was too damaged by the March, 2011, quake to allow traffic through. Sections of Joban have been reopened as the damage was repaired. The final 14-kilometer section was opened between the communities of Tomioka and Namie, entirely within the government-mandated, 20 kilometer evacuation zone. It had to be decontaminated before opening it. PM Abe greeted some 800 people who attended the official opening. He said, “This will spark further progress in the reconstruction of Fukushima.” The public can drive through the exclusion zone without permit, but will not be allowed to stop along the way. The closest the road gets to F. Daiichi is about six kilometers. There are six radiation monitors set up along the 14 kilometer section. Passengers in a car going the speed limit (70 km/hr) will get about 0.2 microsieverts of exposure. http://the-japan-news.com/news/article/0001972046 -- http://blogs.wsj.com/japanrealtime/2015/02/19/highway-to-open-near-fukushima-nuclear-plant-no-exits-allowed/

  • The NRA considers nuke emergency measures beyond 30 kilometers. This is because of a swath of contamination from the F. Daiichi accident beyond 30 kilometers in the northwest direction. The NRA says they will probably instruct people to stay indoors if there is any possibility of radioactive material reaching them. Issuing the sheltering advisory will be dependent on radiation monitor readings around the affected nuke station. If there is a sharp increase in activity indicating a massive release, sheltering will be advised. http://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/english/news/20150227_03.html


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