Fukushima 84...4/13/15-5/4/15

May 4, 2015

  • A new robot will inspect inside F. Daiichi unit #2 RPV pedestal this summer. It will be about 22 inches long and a width and height of about 4 inches. This will allow it to be inserted through a pipe that leads through the Primary Containment and into the Reactor Pressure Vessel pedestal. Once inside, its rear portion will flip up, giving it the appearance of a scorpion. The upper portion will hold a light and camera, and the lower part another light. It will also have temperature and radiation monitors. It is hoped the device will be able to show the underside of the RPV and determine whether or not vessel integrity has been compromised. Radiation levels are expected to be about 100 sieverts/hour, ten times higher than those registered inside unit #1 PCV, so the new robot will be designed to work in a radiation field up to 1000 Sv/hr. http://the-japan-news.com/news/article/0002126853

  • The source of the Tokyo park radioactive hotspot has been identified. It was a 4mm by 4mm capsule of Radium. The Japan Radioisotope Association identified the radioactive material as Radium-226, and resembles sources were once used for calibrating monitoring devices. The capsule’s integrity was not compromised, so there is no possibility of soil contamination. The small Tomisha Ward Park, Tokyo, was closed on April 23rd to facilitate investigation of a significant high radiation hot spot near playground equipment. A local counseling service provided support to worried parents. A lump of compacted ground material was removed and the radiation field literally vanished. The park was reopened on April 26th. However, very few parents have allowed their children to play there out of fear of radiation somehow being residual. Tokyo officials are now running detailed scans of all other city parks to see if there are other similar situations. http://the-japan-news.com/news/article/0002123554 [Comment - the paranoia displayed by worried parents shows two things. First, unbridled fear of radiation is a wide-spread psychological issue in Japan. Second, ignorance of what radiation is, what it can do, and (most importantly) what it cannot do, is just as common. Unless radioactive material is leaking, there will be no residual once the source is removed. Plus, all forms of radiation (except neutron) cannot make the surroundings radioactive. These facts ought to be stressed, and stressed continually, by Japan’s government and scientific community in order to quell unfounded fears.]

  • A small leak from an older F. Daiichi wastewater storage tank was found. On Friday, Tepco said a small puddle of water was seen emanating from beneath a storage tank. The wet patch measured roughly 8 inches by eight inches. The water was immediately surrounded with sandbags, but subsequent inspection showed the puddle was not getting any bigger. Tepco reports the volume of liquid in the puddle was less than half a liter. The water contained about 2.4x108 Becquerels per liter of beta activity. The tank is an older bolted-together type which is being phased out.  http://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/english/news/nuclear.html -- http://www.tepco.co.jp/en/nu/fukushima-np/handouts/2015/images/handouts_150501_01-e.pdf

  • Iitate village delays its repopulation date to 2017. The municipality stretches from 30 to, 40 kilometers, northwest of F. Daiichi, at the farthest extent of the Tokyo-mandated exclusion zone. The entire town population has been evacuated for four years. The village office in Fukushima City had previously planned to begin repopulation in the least restrictive locations in March, 2016. However, they now only plan to move their administrative functions at that time. The return of residents is being delayed to 2017 to further decontaminate farmland and roads. This will allow all residents to return, except for the few locations that Tokyo deems “difficult-to-return” zones.  http://www.fukushimaminponews.com/news.html?id=501 

  • Lawson convenience stores to hire voluntary Fukushima evacuees at its outlets. The program is for those who now live outside of Fukushima Prefecture, the large majority of which are voluntary evacuees. The company will also offer future employment to those who take advantage of the program and subsequently return home. One Lawson official said, “People can acquire job skills while working at a Lawson outlet in evacuation and take advantage of their expertise by continuing to work at a Lawson store near their homes after their return.” The program is intended to help financially-strapped evacuees who left Fukushima Prefecture in 2011 who fled of their own initiative. The program will also be offered to quake/tsunami refugees from Fukushima, Miyagi, and Iwate Prefectures. The chain has about 12,000 stores in Japan, but has recently experienced a worker shortage. It is estimated that 46,000 evacuees live outside of Fukushima. http://ajw.asahi.com/article/behind_news/social_affairs/AJ201505030022

  • A Kobe University professor says earthquakes from the Nanking Trough have not been considered for the Sendai nukes to be restarted later this summer. Seismologist Katsuhiko Ishibashi says he correctly forecasted the type of earthquake-spawned accident experienced at Fukushima Daiichi, and his warning this time should be taken seriously. He told the Press, “I don’t want to experience that again, warning about a disaster and then seeing it take place and causing so much damage. Taking the Nankai Trough earthquake into account is indispensable” in modeling the dangers facing the Sendai station. Ishibashi adds that by not considering that a Nanking-epicenter quake could last ten times longer than NRA projections, the statement that the agency is the world’s most stringent nuclear regulator is simply not true. NRA Chair Shunichi Tanaka said, “Professor Ishibashi has his own opinions,” that differ from the expert teams used by the agency. In response, Ishibashi said, “The NRA certainly seems to be feeling the pressure from the current [government] administration.” http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2015/05/01/national/nras-approval-sendai-nuclear-plant-ignores-nankai-quake-risk-seismologist-warns/#.VUTmoKMcQdV

April 30, 2015

  • Japan’s nuke watchdog approves building the Fukushima ice wall. On Tuesday, the Nuclear Regulation Authority approved Tepco’s plan to begin trial runs on 18 in-ground piping groups containing freezable liquid. If the ground between the pipes freezes solid, the company will ask for approval to expand testing to the other pipes already in place. Tepco began work on the project last June, but could not begin testing the technology until given the go-ahead by the NRA. If successful, the entire complex of buildings for units #1 through #4 will be surrounded by in-ground ice, stemming the flow of groundwater around and through the damaged unit’s basements. http://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/english/news/nuclear.html  Pictures of the part of the system to be tested can be found here… http://photo.tepco.co.jp/en/date/2015/201504-e/150428-01e.html

  • Start-up of the soil freezing system for the ice wall occurred today. The first refrigeration unit was switched on at noon, followed by the 30 other machines. Liquid at minus 30 degrees Celsius is being pumped into the first eighteen of the completed in-ground piping arrays, constituting the initial operational test. Installation is nearly complete on the inland side of the four damaged units. Together with other measures, Tepco and Tokyo feel the in-flow of groundwater into the four basements could be cut by 90%. Critics are skeptical, citing the inability to totally stop the outflow of water into underground tunnels and trenches on the sea-side. One concern is that if groundwater level falls below that of the wastewater in the basements, there could be a contaminated outflow. Tepco plans to closely monitor water levels to keep this from happening. http://www.tepco.co.jp/en/nu/fukushima-np/handouts/2015/images/handouts_150430_01-e.pdf -- http://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/english/news/20150430_14.html

  • The operator of the drone found atop PM Abe’s office building may have been looking for fame. A former high school classmate said had never heard Mr. Yamamoto talk about the issue of nuclear power. The former fellow student said, "It's a mystery why he started voicing anti-nuclear sentiment." The classmate recalled that Yamamoto had been a cheerful student and told classmates his goal in life was to do something to get him on the front page of newspapers. Yamamoto’s blog turned dark when he stopped working last year, voicing a general feeling of disenchantment that led up to the drone incident. http://mainichi.jp/english/english/newsselect/news/20150428p2a00m0na014000c.html

  • Three workers were splashed with mildly radioactive water at Shimane unit #1. They had been transferring water from a basement tank when a hose on a pump became disconnected. About 4 liters of water splashed on them before the pump was stopped. None of the contamination was absorbed by the worker’s bodies. The mishap occurred last week, on April 22nd. Station owner Chugoku Electric Company said they did not immediately report it to the Press because the liquid’s radioactivity was very low and none of the workers retained contaminants. http://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/english/news/20150429_02.html

  • Iitate Electric Company is upset with Tokyo’s 2030 projection for nuke-generated electricity. The Fukushima village of Iitate raised enough money for the local electric company to use renewables instead of buying nuclear-generated electricity. Iitate Electric Company president Minoru Kobayashi said, "Is the government truly planning to continue relying upon nuclear power, even after causing such a major disaster? As time passes, are they just going to go ahead and forget about what happened at the time of the accident, and about the disaster areas?" Kobayashi established the company last year based on the slogan "a power station of the villagers, by the villagers, for the villagers." http://mainichi.jp/english/english/newsselect/news/20150429p2a00m0na006000c.html

April 27, 2015

  • A localized high level of radiation was found in Tokyo on Thursday. The discovery was made in a small Toshima Ward park near playground equipment. The reading at the ground level was 480 microsieverts per hour. The park was closed in order to investigate. The earth at the point of the highest reading was dug up on Friday and a “lump” of material measuring about 4 inches was found. When it was lifted from the ground, the radiation level rapidly dropped. Regardless, the park remained closed after the clump was removed. Kyodo News says the source could be Radium, but officials need to analyze the material for a firm determination. A nearby public healthcare center is offering health consultations for concerned citizens. An official at the center said the extent of the high radiation was very limited and that playing in the park should cause no health problems. http://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/english/news/20150424_35.html -- http://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/english/news/20150424_42.html

  • The man who flew the drone atop PM Abe’s office roof was protesting nuke restarts. Yasuo Yamamoto of Obama, Fukui Prefecture, turned himself in to his local police on Friday. Fukui is home to the two Takahama units planned to restart later this year if a recent court injunction is reversed. Yamamoto’s blog said he got the radioactive Cesium by gathering sand from a public beach in Fukushima Prefecture. He put about 100 grams of the sand in a small bottle and attached it to the drone with a nuclear hazard sticker and a note reading, “Against restarting nuclear reactors”. The note was signed “Kantei Santa”. Kantei is the Japanese name of the Prime Minister’s Cabinet. The police say Yamamoto is probably the culprit because the bottle’s contents were not revealed to the Press. Yamamoto says he flew the remote-controlled drone over the PM’s office building property on April 9, lost control of it, and it crash-landed on the roof. He told police, “I was operating the drone around 3:30 in the morning on April 9 to express my opposition to nuclear power generation.” Yamamoto opened a blog last July. In it, Yamamoto wrote that he-alone planned the deed, writing, “I am a lone wolf.” Another of his blogs says, "In order to prevent the restarting of nuclear reactors, one can't rule out terrorism." When there was no mention of his act in the Press on April 9th, he bought another drone. His April 18th blog showed him preparing it, and he wrote, “I am steadily making preparations to fly the second arrow.” His final entry on April 24th was, “I am sad because the security at the Prime Minister’s office is incompetent.” However, the government is taking this circumstance very seriously. A full-fledged investigation was begun by Tokyo police on Saturday. Yamamoto could face up to three years in prison for obstructing business at the Prime Minister’s office. http://www.ibtimes.com/japan-arrests-yasuo-yamamoto-landing-radioactive-sand-laced-drone-shinzo-abes-office-1896688 -- http://mainichi.jp/english/english/newsselect/news/20150425p2g00m0dm009000c.html -- http://ajw.asahi.com/article/behind_news/social_affairs/AJ201504250021 -- http://jen.jiji.com/jc/eng?g=eco&k=2015042600018

  • Tepco says they have finished sealing the seabed inside the port at F. Daiichi. The quay (inner port) next to units #1 through #4 was sealed in 2012, along with the seabed adjacent to units #5 and #6. The rest of the port has had two types of coatings. The seabed between the already coated areas was a haven for sea slugs, so a double layer had to be formed. The first was bentonite slurry that covered the floor to prevent scattering of material. This was covered by layer of concrete for durability. The larger area out to the port entrance had no sea slugs, so only a double layer of concrete was needed. http://www.tepco.co.jp/en/nu/fukushima-np/handouts/2015/images/handouts_150423_01-e.pdf

  • A Chiba civic group seeks to block rural waste storage on Tepco property. Last week, the Tokyo government announced plans for storage of 3,700 tons of Tokyo-generated rural radioactive debris on Tepco’s property along Tokyo Bay. Presently, the bagged material is kept at numerous locations in the metropolitan area. The group from Ichihara City went to the Chiba Prefecture offices and delivered a petition to the governor opposing the government’s plans. The petition says the surrounding geology is rife with faults capable of powerful earthquakes which a low-level waste facility would not be able to survive. If such an accident happened, the sales of Tokyo Bay seaweed would be hurt. http://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/english/news/20150427_28.html

  • Tokyo projects that nuclear powered-electricity will cost less than thermal fuels through 2030. It is estimated that nuke electricity will cost 10.1 yen per kilowatt, an increase of 1.2 yen over last year’s projection. Liquefied natural gas-generated power will be 13.4 yen/kw (up 2.5 yen) and coal will be 12.9 yen/kw. Also, solar electricity is estimated to be 15.5 yean/kw. http://jen.jiji.com/jc/eng?g=eco&k=2015042700909

April 23, 2015

  • Another rainwater run-off incident at F. Daiichi hits the Press. After last month’s media bashing over mildly radioactive rainwater run-off possibly reaching the sea, Tepco brought in portable pumps to carry run-off out of drainage ditches and send it to the barricaded quay (inner port). The system began operation last Friday. A regular inspection found the one pump being used was operational at 2:30pm on Monday afternoon, but not on Tuesday morning at 8:45am. Tepco says water in the drainage ditch was leaking into the sea, but how the liquid by-passed the barricade at the channel’s sea outlet has not been mentioned. Tepco sampled and began analyzing the water for radioactive content after the discovery, but all reporting Press outlets said the company had no idea how much liquid had escaped and what the concentration of radioactive isotopes was. Tepco told the Press that the most recent analysis before the pump stopped was “extremely low”. NHK World said it was not raining heavily overnight and the pump could handle rainfall up to 14 millimeters per hour.  http://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/english/news/nuclear.html  The pumping system was down because the power supply generator had failed. A portable generator was brought in and attached to the circuitry.  At 8:09pm, the pumping and water transfer was resumed. Rainwater run-off has been diverted ever since. Seawater samples at the point of the temporary leakage showed nothing detectible. Many of Japan’s most popular Press outlets headlined that the leakage was “toxic”. For example, the Mainichi Shimbun headline read “Fukushima plant pumps halted; toxic water leaking into the ocean”. http://www.tepco.co.jp/en/nu/fukushima-np/handouts/2015/images/handouts_150421_01-e.pdf -- http://mainichi.jp/english/english/newsselect/news/20150421p2g00m0dm067000c.html http://www.tepco.co.jp/en/press/corp-com/release/2015/1249920_6844.html  Pictures of the portable pumping array can be found here… http://photo.tepco.co.jp/en/date/2015/201504-e/150421-02e.html

  • A Kagoshima court rejects a filing to block restarting the Sendai nukes. The ruling comes a week after a Fukui court blocked restart of two Takahama units. Kagoshima’s Presiding Judge Ikumasa Maeda effectively rejected the assertion made by Fukui Judge Higuchi of Nuclear Regulation Authority standards lacking rationality. Maeda said, “No unreasonableness is evident in new regulatory standards set by the NRA for nuclear power generation.” With respect to plaintiff claims that the Sendai units could not withstand worst-case earthquakes, the judge said, “Kyushu Electric conducted detailed investigations into earthquakes occurring in areas surrounding the grounds of the power plant and the geological features of the region and then determined the maximum seismic vibrations by considering a certain measure of uncertainty involved in the prediction of natural phenomena.” Plaintiff lawyer Hiroyuki Kawai said the decision is “extremely regrettable”. He added, “We will not give in, we will continue fighting. We will not let our emotions be swayed by any short-term results and we will fight until we get rid of all nuclear reactors in Japan.” The plaintiffs say they will file an appeal. Lead plaintiff Ms. Akiko Morinaga said, "The Nuclear Regulation Authority (NRA), the Satsumasendai Municipal Government, the Kagoshima Prefectural Government, and now the judiciary have approved the reactivation of the nuclear reactors. It's disheartening that no one is protecting the residents' lives." She also said that most local residents hide their true opinions because of friends and family working at Sendai station. She said they are “in truth, opposed to the nuclear power plant.” Finally, Morinaga vowed, “We’re going to press ahead with the principal lawsuit.” Undaunted, Kyushu Electric, Sendai’s owner, said they plan on restarts beginning in mid-July. The two nuke units are currently under final safety inspections by the NRA. http://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/english/news/nuclear.html -- http://www.theguardian.com/world/2015/apr/22/japan-moves-nearer-to-restarting-nuclear-reactors-after-court-gives-go-ahead -- http://the-japan-news.com/news/article/0002099564 -- http://mainichi.jp/english/english/newsselect/news/20150422p2a00m0na020000c.html -- http://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/english/news/20150423_20.html

  • 174 F. Daiichi workers have reached their five year limit on radiation exposure. The annual ceiling is 50 millisieverts, and the 5-year is 100 mSv. A bit more than 2,000 are presently between 50 and 100 mSv, most of which have been transferred to non-exposure jobs. A radiation management employee said, “Firms tend to transfer workers whose radiation exposure exceeds 20 millisieverts per year from their posts at the nuclear power plant.” An official with the Natural Resources and Energy Agency struck an ominous chord, saying, “It is unclear to some extent whether it will be possible to secure enough labor until the decommissioning process is completed.” Official Shigeaki Tsunoyama of Fukushima Prefecture seemed to agree, “If experienced workers leave the plant due to their radiation exposure levels, decommissioning will stall. The government and Tepco have to take some steps as early as possible.”  The nuke station currently has about 14,000 registered workers, and more than 41,000 have worked there since March, 2011. http://www.fukushimaminponews.com/news.html?id=497

  • Fukushima Prefecture had the lowest population decline in Japan for 2014. There has been a significant drop in the national population for nearly a decade. For 2014, Fukushima had the lowest, percentage-wise. This is a significant turn-around for the prefecture since the major population exodus after the Great East Japan Earthquake and Tsunami, and subsequent tsunami-spawned nuclear accident. The shrinkage for 2014 was 0.55%, while the previous year witnessed a 0.79% drop. These were the lowest shrinkage rates of all 47 prefectures for the two years. http://www.fukushimaminponews.com/news.html?id=500

  • A small camera-equipped drone landed on the Prime Minister’s office roof. It has become the lead story throughout Japan’s popular Press. The drone was emitting low level radiation. It carried a small bottle of liquid with radiation hazard sticker on it. Sources say it probably landed on Tuesday or Wednesday because the drone was dry, and it rained Monday. Tokyo police inflated a plastic dome around the device and carted it away in a large strongbox. The police said the radioactive source in the liquid appeared to be Cesium, perhaps from Fukushima Daiichi. The police said the radiation level was too low to be of harm to anyone. http://ajw.asahi.com/article/behind_news/social_affairs/AJ201504220015 -- http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2015/04/23/national/cesium-carrying-drone-landed-prime-ministers-helipad-time-march-22-abe-flight/#.VTjf0KMcQdU

April 20, 2015

  • 530 Fukushima evacuees sue Tokyo for allowing them to go home. On December 8th, the government lifted the evacuation order for 142 “hot spots” in Minamisoma City. The reason was that the radiation levels were measured to be less than the international guideline for evacuation, which is 20 millisieverts per year. However, the Minamisoma plaintiffs claim that the repopulation standard is only one mSv/yr, thus the government is not protecting the health and safety of its citizens. The plaintiffs also demand 100,000 yen ($850) each in damages.  For “hot spots” estimated to exceed 20 mSv/yr located outside the mandated evacuation zone, evacuation is voluntary. In addition, those who lived in the “hot spots” are entitled to subsidized medical treatment and the receipt of regular “consolation” compensation. These perks last for one year after the restriction is lifted. Tokyo’s response to the suit is that the lifting of the “hot spot” restriction is based on scientific findings, and they have been diligent in trying to “gain understanding from local residents”.  http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2015/04/17/national/crime-legal/530-minamisoma-residents-sue-government-hot-spot-delisting/#.VTD5dKMcQdU -- http://english.kyodonews.jp/news/2015/04/347764.html

  • The second robotic inspection inside the unit #1 containment shows no damage to any of the pumps, ventilation system enclosure, pipes, cabling, or valves. In addition, little debris was seen, unlike last week’s first robotic look on the opposite side or the reactor pressure vessel pedestal. Also, a comparison of detected radiation levels shows something interesting. Last week, one radiation reading taken next to one of the recirculation pumps was 9.7 Sieverts/hour – which resulted in numerous headlines. The second robot’s reading at the Recirculation Pump on the other side of the pedestal was about 5 Sv/hr. In fact, all readings near the two recirculation pumps showed a similar trend. Meanwhile, readings taken in other parallel locations were about the same for both robots. Of note, Tepco says the radiation levels inside the PCV are much lower than anticipated; less than a tenth of what was expected. On Saturday, Tepco announced that they have positively identified that the basement of the primary containment is flooded. A one minute and 20 second period of video footage showed light reflecting off the surface of water below the walkway grating where the robot is located. The company estimates the water is 2.8 meters (~9 feet) deep. This conforms to prior estimates. http://www.tepco.co.jp/en/nu/fukushima-np/handouts/2015/images/handouts_150417_01-e.pdf -- http://www.tepco.co.jp/en/nu/fukushima-np/handouts/2015/images/handouts_150413_01-e.pdf -- http://www.tepco.co.jp/en/press/corp-com/release/2015/1249780_6844.html -- http://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/english/news/20150417_42.html

  • The second robot in unit #1 containment has been abandoned. After completing its planned inspection, it was decided to use the second robot to look at the first, abandoned more than a week ago. It seems that one side of the robot is turned on its side, and the other part is blocked by a “structural object”. Photo and video of the first, stranded robot can be found here… http://photo.tepco.co.jp/en/date/2015/201504-e/150420-01e.html  When attempting to resume the inspection on Monday (today), it was found that the 2nd robot’s camera was no longer working. Without the camera, it was not possible to navigate the torturous path back to its point of origin, so the connecting cable was severed. Tepco believes the camera succumbed to the high radiation exposure it received over the weekend. However, data on radiation levels and temperature were received until the connection was cut. http://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/english/news/nuclear.html -- http://jen.jiji.com/jc/eng?g=eco&k=2015042000415 -- http://blogs.wsj.com/japanrealtime/2015/04/20/tepo-to-abandon-second-robot-inside-fukushima-reactor/  The latest Tepco Press handout on the second robot and its abandonment can be found here… http://www.tepco.co.jp/en/nu/fukushima-np/handouts/2015/images/handouts_150420_01-e.pdf

  • Rural contaminated waste in Chiba Prefecture to be stored on Tepco property. The government plans to have the nearly 3,700 tons moved available apace at one of the Tepco power stations on the shoreline of Tokyo Bay. It is several kilometers from residential areas. Chiba Prefecture is more than 200 kilometers south of F. Daiichi, on a peninsula just east of Tokyo City.  http://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/english/news/nuclear.html

  • Voluntary Fukushima evacuees face an uncertain future. They are categorized as voluntary because they come from locations outside the Tokyo-mandated exclusion zone and fled out of fear of radiation exposure. The roughly 50,000 voluntaries remain estranged because they remain in mortal fear of returning home and being exposed to levels of radiation below the 20 millisievert per year evacuation standard. Under the national Disaster Relief Act, temporary housing facilities were made available to all Fukushima prefectural residents. But, Tokyo soon differentiated between mandated and voluntary evacuees because the latter were in greater numbers than the former. (90,000 voluntary vs. 75,000 mandated) The Prefecture could not provide temporary living accommodations to all of them, so only the “mandated” were deemed to qualify. Voluntaries were forced to find temporary housing in other prefectures, with the Tokyo government providing compensation for rental costs. Under the Act, emergency housing provisions are supposed to last for two years, but was extended to four years after the Great Hanshin Earthquake of 1995. The same sort of extension has been the case with all Fukushima evacuees, mandated and voluntary alike. However, the current extension ends next March. If it happens, all mandated evacuees can move to public housing, but this would not apply to voluntary evacuees. They would literally be on their own. The possibilities are exacerbated by Tepco balking at repaying Tokyo for the money spent on voluntary evacuees. One Tokyo official is reported to have said, "It all comes down to the fact that no one wants to be held accountable." http://mainichi.jp/english/english/newsselect/news/20150417p2a00m0na006000c.html

April 16, 2015

  • A Fukui Prefecture court issues its second anti-restart injunction in a year. The order is effective immediately. The latest decision, invoked Tuesday, involves Takahama units 3&4, currently expected to be two of the first nukes to restart, perhaps this summer. The panel of judges handing down the ruling was headed by Justice Hideaki Higuchi, who is regarded as a maverick by the Japanese judiciary. Higuchi led the Fukui panel that issued a similar injunction against the restart of Oi units 3&4 last May. Of the dozen or so similar cases tried to date, only Higuchi’s court has found in favor of the antinuclear plaintiffs. Nine local residents from Fukui Prefecture submitted the claim citing allegations such as the Kansai Electric Co. underestimating earthquake magnitude, unreliable safety equipment at the station, and failure to meet Japan’s new safety regulations. The plaintiff’s argue that the reactors “pose a concrete risk of harming personal rights”. Not to be outdone by claimant rhetoric, Judge Higuchi’s panel said that the new regulations are lax and cannot provide absolute assurance of safety even if they are met. In fact, Higuchi went so far as to say, “The standards lack rationality.” Most of Japan’s Press says this is a severe blow the PM Abe’s desire to get nukes restarted and reduce the nation’s extreme use of imported fossil fuels, which has caused the worst trade deficit in the island nation’s history. It is believed the injunction will probably delay restarts at Takahama, regardless of whether or not the decision will stand up to appeals. http://the-japan-news.com/news/article/0002081116 -- http://www.japantoday.com/category/national/view/court-issues-injunction-to-halt-restart-of-takahama-reactors -- http://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/english/news/20150414_37.html

  • The Fukui court order has been widely criticized as being irrational and non-scientific. It has become clear to the Japanese Press that presiding Judge Higuchi has rammed his personal “zero risk” agenda through the Fukui court. Former Tokyo high court judge and current Chou Law School Professor Jun Masuda says, “It seems the judge has already had the idea of demanding absolute safety from the beginning. Judges are not experts on nuclear power plants, so it is imperative that they humbly pay attention to scientific knowledge. I doubt the presiding judge took that into consideration.” Japan News (Yomiuri Shimbun) adds that during the case’s examination period, the panel of judges was twice asked by Kansai Electric Company to solicit the written opinions of experts. Both times, the request was rejected. Clearly, Higuchi and his judicial cronies have no interest in educating themselves concerning nuclear safety. Japan News concludes, “We have no choice but to call it an irrational decision,” and, “Such a stance seeking zero risk is unrealistic.” The News also points out that the Takahama injunction flies in the face of Japan’s 1992 Supreme Court decision that the question of nuclear safety is too scientific, technical and comprehensive to be decided by anyone other than actual experts. Even the decidedly antinuclear Mainichi Shimbun said, “It would be too excessive if the restart of any nuclear plant were disapproved to pursue zero risk.” In addition, many Press outlets say the lack of credibility displayed by the Fukui court could undermine public trust in the judicial system across Japan. Adding to the cacophony of criticism, the Nuclear Regulatory Authority Chairman, Shunichi Tanaka, took exception to Higuchi’s unfounded attack on the agency’s safety standards, saying the court injunction “contained a number of factual errors,” and "I take the injunction as an indication that our work has not been fully understood." http://the-japan-news.com/news/article/0002082892 -- http://the-japan-news.com/news/article/0002083023 -- http://mainichi.jp/english/english/perspectives/news/20150415p2a00m0na003000c.html -- http://jen.jiji.com/jc/eng?g=eco&k=2015041500718 (Comment – this writer cannot believe that Judge Higuchi seriously believes the injunction will stop restarts. In my honest, unexpurgated opinion, this is merely a delay tactic by an antinuclear-friendly judge. I believe Higuchi has done his historical antinuclear homework and found that similar judicial tactics have been successful in delaying nuclear power plant operations since Three Mile Island in 1979. The injunction is not an example of ignorance or stupidity. It is a cold, calculated move that will reverberate throughout Japan. Using the Fukui decision as a model, we can expect similar judicial maneuvers with many, if not most, future attempts to restart nukes)

  • Not to take the setback lying down, Kansai Electric Company appealed the court’s decision the day after it was handed down. Japan News says, “It is reasonable that KEPCO objected to the court decision.” However, the wording of the injunction makes it virtually impossible to restart Takahama units 3&4 before an appeals decision is rendered. Regardless of the outcome of the appeal, the injunction will set back the resumption of operations many months, if not a full year. http://www.jaif.or.jp/en/kansai-electric-appeals-district-court-decision-halting-operation-of-takahama-3-and-4/

  • A second shape-shifting robot entered F. Daiichi unit #1 on Wednesday. The robot is a twin to the one that became stuck during its inspection on last Friday. The second device will follow a different path in order to cover locations other than those already inspected. The first probe collected valuable images in the vessel along with temperature and radiation data, thus the second one is expected to provide a considerable amount of new information. Tepco pointed out that the first robot’s monitoring equipment successfully operated for two days in the high radiation environment inside the unit #1 containment, so it should not be a problem for the second one.  http://mainichi.jp/english/english/newsselect/news/20150415p2g00m0dm076000c.html -- http://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/english/news/nuclear.html Tepco’s detailed Press handout can be found here, including radiation levels along the new path being considerably lower than the first robot’s path… http://www.tepco.co.jp/en/nu/fukushima-np/handouts/2015/images/handouts_150416_01-e.pdf  The first pictures taken by the second robot can be found here… http://photo.tepco.co.jp/en/date/2015/201504-e/150416-01e.html

  • Fukushima-phobia is extended to Great Britain. The Independent (UK) reports that “Food produced around the Fukushima nuclear disaster site could be making its way on to British shelves because of loopholes in safety rules,” and that some suspicious products have “already been exported from Japan under the cover of false labelling by fraudsters.” Further, “This raises the prospect of mildly carcinogenic ingredients entering the food system.” The decidedly fear-mongering report even goes so far as to attach a picture of a tsunami-spawned fire at what appears to be a Japanese oil refinery, with the sub-text of “The Fukushima disaster in March 2011 released radiation to the atmosphere – even outside the food-production exclusion zone”. (Deplorable!) A similar scare was raised in Taiwan at the end of March. The Independent cites on a food-safety consultant, Alastair Marke, as supposed proof for their scare-mongering. Marke said, “I suspect what has happened in Taiwan might well have already happened in the UK. Intermediary supply chain middlemen can buy food in bulk and package and label as they like – before shipping them to the UK.” It is important to note that the Independent failed to mention that no fruits, vegetables, rice, or meats from Fukushima Prefecture have exceeded Japan's ridiculously low limit of 100 Becquerels per kilogram for two consecutive years.  http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/home-news/food-from-fukushima-could-be-hitting-britains-shelves-through-legal-safety-loophole-10174298.html -- http://www.fukushimaminponews.com/news.html?id=496

  • Fukushima InFORM, the Canadian Pacific coast monitoring network, has posted its most recent newsletter. It covers their latest monitoring results, including the first shore-detected Fukushima Cesium on Vancouver Island. http://www.icontact-archive.com/gkR_CVldWco6A5tPY8T0FsclY7IdmIeQ#.VS1r0GIMNik.wordpress

  • Average exposures for rural decontamination workers have been very safe. More than 26,000 people have participated in the prefecture-wide effort between 2011 and 2014. Their average measured exposure was about 0.5 millisieverts per year, which is 1% of Japan’s limit for workers. One cohort comprising 14.6% of the workers got slightly more than 1 mSv in 2013. Regardless, no-one exceeded the 50 mSv national limit for workers. http://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/english/news/nuclear.html [Comment - NHK says 1 mSv per year is the limit for the general public, but this is not correct. The decontamination goal is to reduce annual exposure to below 1 mSv/yr in addition to natural background (~1.5 mSv/yr average across Japan). This goal is not “the annual permissible level for the general public.”] True to its antinuclear form, Japan Times focuses on the exceptions as the most “newsworthy” aspect of the government’s report. The headline reads “Fukushima decontamination workers got up to 13.9 millisieverts of radiation.” This seems to be the highest recorded exposure for a single worker. The number of workers that exceeded 10 msv in a year was 34…about 0.1% of the entire cohort. In fact, the main body of the Times article focuses on the sub-cohorts that had exposures approaching or exceeding the 1 mSv/yr decontamination goal. http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2015/04/16/national/science-health/fukushima-decontamination-workers-got-up-to-13-9-millisieverts-of-radiation/#.VS-lY6McQdU

April 13, 2015 

  • The shape-shifting robot inspection inside unit #1 containment began Friday, then stopped moving after about three hours of use. In its snake configuration, the robot was inserted into a pipe running from a relatively low radiation location outside the PCV, through the thick steel and concrete primary containment wall, and into the inner part of the PCV. Once inside, it was slowly lowered down to the walkway that surrounds the reactor vessel pedestal. While being lowered, the robot was re-shaped into its rectangular configuration. Once on the walkway’s grating, it began to slowly move and transmit data back to its operators. After moving about two-thirds of its planned traverse on the walkway, it stopped for an unknown reason. The device continued to transmit pictures, temperature readings, and radiation levels. Tepco says the reason for the problem is probably not the detected 10 sievert per hour radiation level because the robot was designed to handle much higher exposures. On Monday, Tepco said the robot or control cable may have hung up on something on the walkway and could be freed, so on Sunday they decided to sever the cable and abandon it. The robot’s camera and monitoring devices operated continually until the connecting cable was cut. The first Tepco link (below) show pictures and video from inside the PCV, depicting debris on the walkway at times. Monday’s detailed Press handout is the last link. In it, the company speculates that a fallen pipe and/or displaced grating may have caused the robot to become stuck at a “narrow point” along the planned path. http://www.nbcnews.com/news/world/japans-fukushima-nuclear-plant-reactor-examined-snake-shaped-robot-n339091 -- http://mainichi.jp/english/english/newsselect/news/20150411p2a00m0na005000c.html -- http://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/english/news/20150413_02.html -- http://photo.tepco.co.jp/en/date/2015/201504-e/150413-01e.html -- http://www.tepco.co.jp/en/nu/fukushima-np/handouts/2015/images/handouts_150413_01-e.pdf

  • A government group proposes three methods for melted fuel removal. The Nuclear Damage Compensation and Decommissioning Facilitation Corp (NDF) advised Tepco on possible methodologies associated with decommissioning F. Daiichi. NDF said the preferred method would be to fill the primary containments and reactor vessels with water, reducing radiation exposures to workers to a manageable level and minimizing the possibility of radiation releases. However, leaks from the containments, both confirmed and suspected, could make this infeasible. NDF Vice President Hajimu Yamana said, “The water-covered method is desirable from the viewpoint of safety. But it is not certain whether we can completely prevent water leakages from the containment vessels.” Thus, NDF presented two alternative “airborne” possibilities. One would be to fill only the bottom of the containment and lift the corium (melted fuel and inner reactor components) out of the water and through the air before placing it in a protective container. The other would be to drill a large-enough horizontal hole through the containment and RPV pedestal to remove the corium. In both cases, personnel exposure would be more than with the preferred option, and possibility of a release of radioactive material would be greater. http://ajw.asahi.com/article/0311disaster/fukushima/AJ201504100053

  • Fukushima Prefecture will use electronic data to better monitor the health of evacuees. Social workers keeping an eye on the currently 71,000 Tokyo-mandated refugees in temporary housing will be able to electronically document their mental and physical condition, later this year. The prefecture will be divided into five zones with 70 social workers per zone. Tandem teams will visit the homes and transmitted to a data bank where other social and medical experts can access it quickly. Suspected medical or psychological problems can then be expeditiously addressed by local medical institutions, municipal healthcare centers, the Fukushima Center for Disaster Mental Health and/or other appropriate organizations. http://www.fukushimaminponews.com/news.html?id=492

  • More insight into the non-impact of Pacific Ocean contamination on North America. Oregon’s Statesman Journal responded to five reader questions, with the help of Wood Hole Oceanographic researcher Ken Buesseler.  One is why report on something that poses no harm to anyone? In response, The Journal says Fukushima radiation has been blamed for everything from starfish die-offs to seal tumors…none of which are possible at the trivial radiation levels found in the sea. Buesseler explains, "The lack of information leads to some very alarming claims. I think low numbers are just as important as high numbers." Buesseler adds that he is not concerned about the isotopic concentrations now in the sea, but he does worry about the hundreds of thousands of tons of wastewater stored at F. Daiichi containing radioactive Strontium. He says a massive earthquake might rupture the tanks and dump the Sr-90 into the sea, which could have health repercussions. He also answers why comparisons are made to x-ray diagnostics when we’re dealing with potentially ingestible Cesium isotopes in water. Buesseler says, "The bottom line is that the drinking water standard in the U.S. is 7,400 Becquerels per cubic meter (Bq/m3), and that would be consuming the water every day." The combined Cesium levels in the sea are about 6.5 Bq/m3 and Cesium flushes through sea life rapidly and has little accumulation, thus "I don't see how that could be of any concern." http://www.statesmanjournal.com/story/tech/science/environment/2015/04/08/five-questions-fukushima/25498007/

  • Fukushima InFORM also reports there has been no Cesium uptake in Pacific kelp. Kelp Watch 2015, home-based in California, analyze samples taken near the Pacific coastline of Canada. No radioactive isotopes from Fukushima were detected in kelp growing at sampling sites spread along our Pacific coast during the first three months of this year.  http://fukushimainform.ca/2015/04/12/kelp-watch-2015-most-recent-results-looking-for-fukushima-contamination/  Kelp Watch 2015 explains that Kelp may look like vegetation, but it is actually a type of seaweed. Seaweed is actually algae found only in saltwater. Like most algae, it uses photosynthesis to provide food for itself and consumer sea life. Kelp is believed to be a prime species for detecting uptake and concentration of Cesium and Strontium isotopes. Some Fukushima Iodine was detected in the kelp after the Fukushima releases began, carried across the Pacific by the weather and deposited in the sea. The Iodine was gone after eight months because of its relatively short eight day half-life. It is felt that once water-borne Cesium reaches the California coast, the Kelp should show some uptake and concentration. http://kelpwatch.berkeley.edu/why-kelp


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