Fukushima 88... 7/20/15-8/10/15

August 10, 2015

  • The countdown continues for the Sendai unit #1 restart, with heavy news coverage. Kyushu Electric has successfully completed all pre-operational testing of key systems, and has announced the start of the slow, tedious process of restarting under Japan’s new regulatory system will begin tomorrow (Tuesday) at 10:30am (Japan Time). The control rods for initial criticality will be slowly moved outward from the bottom of the core, in precise sequence, until a self-sustaining chain reaction is achieved about 12 hours later. Criticality occurs at such a low energy-release level that the water in the reactor will not heat up. Power level will be slowly increased for about three days before enough heat is generated to produce steam to bring the turbines on-line, at some point later in the day on Friday. Commercial generation of electricity will obegin in early September. Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said that in terms of the government’s energy policy, it is important to restart nuclear reactors if their safety has been confirmed. Kyushu Electric says they will place the highest priority on safety and thoroughly comply with government inspections during in the restarting process. http://the-japan-news.com/news/article/0002346970 -- http://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/english/news/20150810_80.html

  • Japan’s nuke watchdog chief says Sendai will not be another Fukushima. Nuclear Regulation Authority (NRA) Chairman Shunichi Tanaka told the Press, “We will make completely sure that the reactor is operating as it should. A disaster like that at Tokyo Electric Power’s Fukushima Daiichi will not occur.” Since its inception in 2012, the NRA has stiffened nuke safety regulations to the point where the agency claims they have the most stringent in the world. Tanaka stated, “The new regulations are incomparably stricter than those under the old system,” but added an a cautionary point, “There is no such thing as absolute safety, [but any possible accident] would be contained before it reached a scale anywhere near what happened in Fukushima.” Critics charged that the NRA’s standards are too strict, but Tanaka rebuffed such allegations. http://www.japantoday.com/category/national/view/nuclear-regulator-says-there-will-be-no-repeat-of-fukushima-under-new-safety-rules?utm_campaign=jt_newsletter&utm_medium=email&utm_source=jt_newsletter_2015-08-09_AM

  • Protestors demonstrate to show their displeasure with the restart. On Sunday, an estimated 2,000 people from across Japan marched around the Sendai station. Protest organizer, writer Satoshi Kamata, alleged, "Past arguments that nuclear plants were safe and nuclear energy was cheap were all shown to be lies. Kyushu Electric is not qualified to resume operations because it has not completed an anti-quake structure to oversee a possible accident as well as a venting facility [for emergency depressurization].” On Monday, 100 protested at the Kyushu Company headquarters in Fukuoka City. Protest organizer Tatsuya Yoshioka said, "I cannot understand why operations are resuming. Nuclear energy is an issue that extends beyond national borders." Tokyo suburban Mayor Hiroko Uehara said emergency plans are insufficient around Sendai, thus "We cannot allow the resumption of operations that ignores the lives of residents." Meanwhile, a Mainichi Shimbun poll says 57% of their readers oppose the restart. Among supporters of PM Shinzo Abe’s LDP party (28% of the 1015 respondents), 47% agree with the restart and 38% opposed. Those opposed to Abe’s administration were only 18% in favor and 74% against. Those unaffiliated with any political party were 62% opposed and 26% in favor of restart. The Mainichi has been one of the most antinuclear of Japan’s major newspapers since the accident of March, 2011. http://ajw.asahi.com/article/behind_news/social_affairs/AJ201508100012-- http://mainichi.jp/english/english/newsselect/news/20150810p2a00m0na005000c.html

  • Fukushima’s top Fishery approves treated groundwater releases. The Fukushima Prefectural Federation of Fisheries Cooperative Associations will make it official on Tuesday. The Fishery’s approval is conditional on Tepco and Tokyo agreeing to their requested measures, including combating false rumors about Fukushima foods and other prefectural products. The Federation adopted its list of demands on Friday. Tepco says waters pumped out of wells will be run the through their multi-stage treatment system, and will release nothing that exceeds the company’s ridiculously low, self-imposed release limits; Cesium isotopes at one Becquerel per liter and Tritium at 1,500 Bq/l. The above applies only to groundwater pumped out of wells upstream from the four damaged unit basements. Already-treated waters now stored in huge tanks on-site will not be included in the release agreement. http://jen.jiji.com/jc/eng?g=eco&k=2015080700778

  • The Fukushima fisheries also eased their trawler depth limit. Since the nuke accident, trawling had to be done in “waters 120 meters or deeper”. The fisheries council has now changed it to “waters 90 meters or deeper”. The change was due to all fish caught in the shallower waters having tested less than the 100 Bq/kg limit. This will allow small trawlers of 15 tons or less to take part in fishing operations. At the Soma-Futaba Fishery Cooperative, the number of participating fishing boats will increase by one to 23. It will double from 12 to 24 at the Iwaki City Fishery Cooperative, and from two to four at the Onahama Trawl Fishery Cooperative. http://www.fukushimaminponews.com/news.html?id=542

  • The revised schedule for the next unit #2 robot examination is announced. The international Research Institute for Nuclear Decommissioning (IRID) and Tepco developed the robot. Before sending it through the chosen piping penetration through the Primary Containment wall, a telescopic inspection revealed the intended pathway was blocked by rows of concrete blocks. A remote-controlled removal mechanism has moved all but seven of the blocks. The seven cannot be moved, as yet, because they are stuck together by what appears to be some kind of rust. The plan is to move the blocks by November to allow the robotic examination. This means the installation of the muon technology now being used for unit #1 might occur before the robotic examination can happen. http://www.tepco.co.jp/en/press/corp-com/release/2015/1256987_6844.html

August 6, 2015

  • Four bent fuel bundle handles were found in the unit #3 spent fuel pool (SFP). Tepco used an underwater camera to determine the degree of the rubble removal that will be needed before transferring the stored used fuel bundles. There is a considerable amount of rubble to be extracted from the tops of the stored fuel bundles. They noticed four bent bundle handles protruding out of the rubble bed. Whether or not the bent handles will make the removal of the four bundle’s a problem, remains to be seen. Tepco says there is no indication that the bundles beneath the bent handles have any damage. http://www.tepco.co.jp/en/nu/fukushima-np/handouts/2015/images/handouts_150804_01-e.pdf -- http://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/english/news/nuclear.html

  • Tepco has been given approval to complete the “ice wall” surrounding units #1 through #4. The Nuclear Regulation Authority says the revised construction plan submitted by Tepco is permissible. The wall of frozen earth has been in construction on the inland side of the buildings since last June, but could not be started on the sea-side until all water had been removed from the equipment tunnels of units 1, 2, & 3. Once completed the wall will completely surround the four damaged unit’s buildings and severely limit the influx of groundwater into the basements. Ideally, the wall will stop the in-flow completely. Once it is completed, the NRA says Tepco must maintain the groundwater level inside the wall by pumping in uncontaminated water, if needed. http://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/english/news/20150804_01.html

  • Muon detection for unit #2 hits a snag. Muon detection has been used successfully inside unit #1 to establish the severity of fuel core damage. However, Tepco wanted a higher-resolution system developed before using the process on unit #2. The company and the NRA hoped to begin operation in the fall. However, the new device covers a 64m2 area, which is too big for the rooms where it would have to be installed inside the undamaged unit #2 reactor building. Station staff would have to remove and decontaminate other equipment to make enough room, which could hinder the decommissioning process. It would also cost twice as much money as that already spent developing the devices. Tepco says they will shift the smaller device being used at unit #1 after it completes its imaging run near the end of the year. http://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/english/news/nuclear.html

  • The opening of unit #1 enclosure allows for radiological measurements just above the destroyed refueling deck. Analysis showed no detectible Iodine, and barely detectible Cesium above one of the three sampling locations. The other two sampling points showed no Cesium. http://www.tepco.co.jp/en/nu/fukushima-np/f1/smp/2015/images/airupper01_150805-e.pdf

  • The NRA approved the long-term management plan for the two soon-to-be-restarted Sendai nukes. Steps in the long-term plan to assure extended-life safety for all emergency equipment must be addressed in one year. The plans cover the next 30 years. Under the Reactor Regulation Law, plants that have 30 years or more of licensure must submit plans for the long-term safety of installed equipment beyond that point. Sendai unit #1 began operation 31 years ago, and could begin ramping up for restart on Tuesday. Of course, antinuclear critics complain that the NRA has made a hasty decision and allege that restart before the extended-life checks are completed is illegal. Safety reviews required for the resumption of operation are conducted separately from those required for long-term operations. The safety review for Sendai unit #1 was completed last May. http://www.jaif.or.jp/en/nra-approves-operation-of-sendai-1-beyond-30-years/ -- http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2015/08/05/national/nra-approves-long-term-operating-plan-sendai-nuclear-plant/#.VcH3LZAw8dU -- http://english.kyodonews.jp/news/2015/08/367531.html

  • The NRA says the restart of two Tepco units will be prioritized. Kashiwazaki-Kariwa units #6 & #7 are located on the Sea of Japan in Niigata Prefecture. Both are Boiling Water Reactor systems. Tepco needs them to be reactivated to alleviate its financial stress. It is expected that nuclear critics will decry the NRA decision because they constantly question Tepco’s ability to safely operate BWRs. http://english.kyodonews.jp/news/2015/08/367824.html

  • The NRA has approved a bill raising the exposure limit for nuclear emergencies to 250 millisieverts. The previous limit was 100 mSv. The bill says that the 100 mSv limit is to be maintained unless there’s a possibility that radioactive materials could disperse beyond the property boundary of a nuke station. If an off-site release is possible, then the 250 mSv limit kicks in. The ruling stipulates a need for prior written consent from potentially affected individuals after they have been educated on the possible health impacts of exposure and measures taken to minimize risk. The new limit is supposed to come into effect in April of 2016. http://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/english/news/nuclear.html

August 3, 2015

  • Recent scientific reports find that the major nuke accident health issues are psychological. The studies, published in the Lancet science journal, point to mental stressors as the only actual health damage following the Fukushima accident. Nuclear accidents can have a "devastating" impact on people's lives that has nothing to do with the effects of radiation. One of the most vital lessons is the importance of preventing needless fear and panic after a radiation release. One point that should be stressed in the event of a nuke crisis is that very few people are exposed to a life-threatening dose of radiation. Further, mandated evacuations should be based on actual exposure readings, managed carefully, and that physicians should be trained in these matters. The Fukushima evacuations of 2011 failed on all three accounts. Fukushima surveys showed that the proportion of psychologically distressed evacuees was almost five times higher than it was in the general population. Akira Ohtsuru of Fukushima Medical University said, “In most nuclear accidents very few people are exposed to a life-threatening dose of radiation.” Dr Koichi Tanigawa, Fukushima Medical University, said: "Although the radiation dose to the public from Fukushima was relatively low, and no discernible physical health effects are expected, psychological and social problems, largely stemming from the differences in risk perceptions, have had a devastating impact on people's lives." Stress issues have been amplified by the large number of families separated due to the prolonged evacuation. Sir Simon Wessely of Kings College, London, said the studies show “the psychological and social consequences of nuclear accidents are more profound, long-lasting, divisive, and difficult to manage than the more direct consequences of radiation leaks. In future, far more attention needs to be given to community engagement and choice, and less to the extreme risk-aversion which currently dominates thinking.” Professor Geraldine Thomas of London’s Imperial College says, "These papers however suggest that the measures that we put in place (long term evacuation, & etc.) to protect ourselves from what may be a health risk, which is not definable at low doses, may be creating a greater health risk, unrelated to the dose of radiation, but related to our human responses to the situation. The major effect on health of the general population from both Chernobyl and Fukushima is not related to the actual effects of radiation, but the fear of radiation." She adds that mixed messages about the severity of the accident and “restriction of information … might further increase public anxiety, leading to distribution of inaccurate information and public distrust.” As a result, screenings for radiation exposure (e.g. child thyroid scans) added stress rather than relieving it. Dr. Thomas concludes, “An over-reaction can produce risks in its own right that may be greater than the health risks posed by the accident itself.” http://www.hampshirechronicle.co.uk/news/13521509.Psychological_fall_out_of_nuclear_accidents__most_serious_public_health_issue_/ -- http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2015/07/31/national/science-health/major-nuclear-disasters-mental-health-key-casualty-studies-find/#.VbvQwZAw8dW -- http://www.japantoday.com/category/national/view/health-fallout-from-fukushima-mainly-mental-studies?utm_campaign=jt_newsletter&utm_medium=email&utm_source=jt_newsletter_2015-07-31_PM [Comment – I have found links to two of the reports that are not behind pay walls… http://www.thelancet.com/journals/lancet/article/PIIS0140-6736(15)61106-0/abstract (free registration for open access) and http://www.thelancet.com/journals/lancet/article/PIIS0140-6736(15)61436-2/fulltext?rss=yes]

  • Canada’s Fukushima InFORM reports that radioactivity in fish should not be a matter of concern. Dr. Jay Cullen says, “Given the amounts of 90Sr released to this point by the disaster there is likely to little in the way of measurable impact on levels in seawater or fish in the eastern Pacific.” Cullen says he is responding to criticisms concerning the lack of Strontium testing being done with fish caught off the coast of North America. He points out that "as of April-June 2015 none of the fish caught in Fukushima Prefecture waters exceeded the stringent 100 Bq/kg Japanese safety standard. Across the Pacific, we have yet to detect Fukushima derived radiocesium in salmon and steelhead trout." Cs-137 combined with Cs-134 are the indicator isotopes for Fukushima-sourced contamination.  http://fukushimainform.ca/2015/07/30/radioactive-strontium-and-cesium-in-fish-from-the-harbor-at-the-fukushima-dai-ichi-nuclear-plant/#more-1301

  • The extraction of the unit #3 fuel handling machine (FHM) occurred on Sunday. This was the largest and most complex piece of rubble to be removed, to date. The FHM moved new and used fuel bundles between the reactor and spent fuel pool (SFP) prior to the hydrogen explosion of March 14, 2011. The blast dislodged the machine and it eventually fell into the SFP. Sunday’s extraction took between 60 and 90 minutes (depending on the news source) and placed the FHM on the ground next to the unit #3 building. This clears the way for removal of all other rubble, working towards the transfer of the 514 used fuel bundles stored in the SFP. After removing debris from the pool, Tepco will install equipment on to lift out the stored fuel assemblies, perhaps as early as January, 2018. Chief Decommissioning Officer Naohiro Masuda said, "The successful completion of this complex task is a credit to the hard work and collaborative spirit of many people from many organizations who have worked together. It paves the way for continued progress and is a milestone in reducing the risk of removing spent fuel assemblies. The workers should take satisfaction in this accomplishment even as we continue the work of decommissioning." No changes in area radiation levels occurred during the operation.  http://www.tepco.co.jp/en/press/corp-com/release/2015/1256671_6844.html -- http://www.tepco.co.jp/en/press/corp-com/release/2015/1256671_6844.html -- http://jen.jiji.com/jc/eng?g=eco&k=2015080200139 -- http://ajw.asahi.com/article/0311disaster/fukushima/AJ201508020026

  • A hearing on the injunction against operation at the Shika nuke station is being held. The station is owned by Hokuriku Electric Company. The company says the Nuclear Regulation Authority conclusion that a fault running under unit #1 is seismic is “based only on inference”. It further states the NRA’s view was “based on limited information, including a sketch and pictures of trial trenches made during investigations when Unit 1 was being built.” The company concludes that the sketch was not from an active fault but “created by erosion by the sea,” and stated that the “fault cannot be active in the future.” http://www.jaif.or.jp/en/shika-lawsuit-hokuriku-electric-power-says-suspicion-of-fault-activeness-is-merely-inference/

  • Three former Tepco executives will have to stand trial after being forcibly indicted. The Tokyo No. 5 Committee for the Inquest of Prosecution overturned prior decisions by the Tokyo District Public Prosecutors Office to not indict Tsunehisa Katsumata, 75, chairman of Tepco at the time of the accident, and two former vice presidents. The prosecutor’s office ruled against indictment in September of 2012, with respect to a citizen’s group filing that 42 Tepco officials and Prime Minister Naoto Kan were negligent. The plaintiffs appealed, and were again rebuffed last year. Under Japanese law, plaintiffs are allowed to request further examination of the case by the citizen’s panel. The (above) panel voted on the request for indictment two times, and both times at least eight of the 11 members voted to have the case formally prosecuted. The panel’s statement said, “Those in responsible positions in nuclear power generation are responsible for preparing measures by taking into consideration every possibility of a serious accident being caused by tsunami.” The report suggested that F. Daiichi should have never been running on 3/11/11, “If the operation had been suspended, the disaster could have been avoided." Plaintiff spokesperson Ruiko Muto hailed the decision, saying that having the former executives face a criminal trial will help create a society in which people can live in peace.  The plaintiff’s lawyer, Hiroyuki Kawai, said, “If this had ended with a decision not to indict, the real truth about the accident would have been forever buried in darkness,” in an appeal to cover-up rumors fomented by antinuclear groups and conspiracy theorists. Fisheries official Yuichi Manome stated the rumor that Fukushima has been forgotten by the rest of the world, "Despite the magnitude of the accident, no one has been asked to take responsibility. That leads to the thinking that perhaps the accident never happened in the first place." In an attempt to inject some needed objectivity, the Japan News (Yomiuri Shimbun) pointed out that the evidence might be insufficient for prosecution, “Under the criminal code, individuals are charged with criminal responsibility, not businesses. To file a charge for professional negligence resulting in death and injury, it is necessary to prove that the accused was guilty of negligence evidently while recognizing concrete dangers, not just having a vague sense of alarm.”  http://mainichi.jp/english/english/newsselect/news/20150731p2g00m0dm078000c.html -- http://the-japan-news.com/news/article/0002328110 -- http://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/english/news/20150731_80.html -- http://ajw.asahi.com/article/0311disaster/fukushima/AJ201508010032

  • The NRA’s Radiation Council proposes raising emergency radiation exposures to 250 millisieverts. The current limit is 100 mSv. The recommendation is but half of the international emergency standard of 500 mSv (ICRP). The new cap should become law in April, 2016, after revisions are made to nuclear regulatory law and the Industrial Safety and Health Law. The new limit will be used when certain emergencies arise. Affected parties include employees of utility companies and their contractors, inspection officers from the Secretariat of the NRA, and other emergency workers. The company owning a facility having an emergency must gain consent of workers before asking them to exceed the old 100 mSv limit, properly train the employees, and give them follow-up medical checks for cancer and other radiation-related health issues after exposure. http://ajw.asahi.com/article/0311disaster/fukushima/AJ201507310057

July 30, 2015

  • (In the “it’s about time” category…) Fukushima’s fishermen OK releasing some of the F. Daiichi waste water. Water “pumped up” from wells upstream (per groundwater flow) from the damaged buildings of units #1 through #4, will be sent directly to the sea because it has not-yet been contaminated. Sub-drain water from near the buildings will be released after passing through the multi-stage radio-isotopic removal system. Called the “subdrain plan” by the local fishing cooperatives, the proposal was first approved by the Soma-Futaba Fisheries and Iwaki Fisheries Union. The Fukushima Prefectural Federation of Fisheries Cooperative Associations is expected to endorse it in August. Tepco will pump 500 tons of water from 41 wells around the plant’s four damaged units each day. It expects that groundwater flowing into the building’s basements will be halved from the current levels. All flows will be closely monitored so that none will be released if Cesium activity exceeds 1 Becquerel per liter, an all-Beta activity of 3 Bq/l, and/or a biologically-harmless Tritium level of 1,500 Bq/l. Hiroyuki Sato, head of the Soma-Futaba Fisheries Assn., said, "We are compelled to agree [with TEPCO's plan] for the recovery of the fishing business in Fukushima Prefecture." Iwaki Cooperative chief Masakazu Yabuki says the move is crucial to keep the fishing industry alive. He added, "We just have to trust the government and TEPCO.” Some fishermen don’t like it. Trawler fisherman Takehiko Niizuma said, "The plan could give the government and TEPCO excuses that even highly contaminated water (stored in tanks) can be released into the sea if it's processed or treated through the subdrain system." (Aside – If it’s fully processed, what’s the problem? – end aside) The fisheries request that a third-party watchdog monitor the process to prevent contaminated water from flowing into the ocean, that all releases are closely monitored, and the government continue compensation to the fishermen for damages caused by harmful rumors in the marketplace. http://ajw.asahi.com/article/0311disaster/fukushima/AJ201507280063 -- http://mainichi.jp/english/english/newsselect/news/20150728p2a00m0na016000c.html

  • No contaminated water remains in the Fukushima Daiichi equipment trenches. Tepco announced the milestone this morning. Their Press release says, “After overcoming numerous technical challenges, TEPCO has removed the last of the retained water from the trenches [underground tunnels housing pipes and cables] on the seaside of Units 2 and 3 of the stricken Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station.” The removal for unit #2 was finished on June 30, and today for unit #3.  Naohiro Masuda, TEPCO D&D Engineering Company head, said "One of our most important goals this year is to reduce any risk of water leakage and to prevent the possibility of environment or ocean contamination. Completion of the water removal from the trenches is an important milestone towards achieving that goal. It has been a challenging task and I congratulate our workers on their persistence and their success." http://www.tepco.co.jp/en/press/corp-com/release/2015/1256382_6844.html  Tepco’s graphic Press handout can be viewed here… http://www.tepco.co.jp/en/nu/fukushima-np/handouts/2015/images/handouts_150730_01-e.pdf

  • The start of removing the damaged fuel handling crane from unit #3 fuel pool will begin on Sunday. The 20 ton device toppled into the pool due to the hydrogen explosion of March 14, 2011. To prevent damage to any of the 566 fuel bundles in the pool, two remote-control cranes with special gripping devices will be used. In the unlikely event that the damaged crane will slip and fall back on top of the fuel bundles, “cushions” will be placed over them. http://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/english/news/nuclear.html

  • A Canadian oceanographic expert explains natural background radiation. Dr. Jay Cullen of Fukushima InForm shows how the background levels of natural radiation have changed over geologic time; i.e. since the Earth was formed 4.5 billion years ago. He uses this to explain why we should not be concerned about the trivial levels of Fukushima radioactive isotopes in the Pacific Ocean. He points out that microbes found in the ocean are far more radio-resistant than humans, thus Fukushima cannot raise their exposures enough to harm them. He refers to papers by other experts showing how primordial radiation levels have dropped over the lifetime of our planet, and that natural radioactive exposures due to seawater were 95% higher than the peak bomb-test levels in 1963. The barely-detectible levels of Fukushima activity in the Pacific is essentially harmless. Perhaps the most stunning part of Cullen’s report refers to a Health Canada posting, which states, “We can be confident in concluding that the levels of artificial radionuclides present in our marine environment from Fukushima are very unlikely to have any negative impacts on marine microbes and the base of the food chain.” http://fukushimainform.ca/2015/07/28/background-ionizing-radiation-dose-through-geologic-time/#more-1299

  • The first roof panel is removed from the unit #1 enclosure. A remote-control crane was used to do the job. This is the first of six roofing panels to be removed. Tepco says it will be a few months before all roof units are taken off, and the process of removing the sides of the enclosure can begin. The enclosure must be fully dismantled to allow removal of radioactive debris caused by the hydrogen explosion of March 12, 2011. Then they can begin preparations to transfer the used fuel bundles out of the upper floor storage pool and into a ground-level facility on-site. The cover could have been removed a year ago, but politically-active radiophobic locals, widely-supported by Japan’s antinuclear Press, feared that radioactive dust could possibly be released into the atmosphere. Tepco and Tokyo yielded to these over-reactions and delayed enclosure removal to avoid continued negative Press coverage. NHK World has posted what is perhaps the most objective report here… http://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/english/news/20150728_13.html  Mainichi Shimbun has an article that focuses on concern for the “safety” of the local public… http://mainichi.jp/english/english/newsselect/news/20150728p2g00m0dm069000c.html  Here’s some pictures of the panel removal posted by Tepco… http://photo.tepco.co.jp/en/date/2015/201507-e/150728-01e.html

  • The power supply to the “ice wall” system was temporarily lost. On Tuesday morning, smoke was seen emanating from a power supply cable. Power to the refrigeration system used to freeze the ground around the four damaged units had stopped. An alternate power supply was connected to the system, and re-started in the afternoon. Tepco says that the smoking cable suffered a short circuit. http://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/english/news/nuclear.html  (Comment - Most of Japan’s decidedly antinuclear Press reported that the power interruption “disabled” the ice wall, which is misleading. The power supply was disabled, but not the ice wall. The completed portions of the ice wall remained frozen the entire time. Loss of power would have to be much, much longer for the ice wall to thaw...be “disabled”. This is yet another example of Japan’s Press making a mountain out of a nuclear mole-hill. Here’s a Jiji Press link as an example… http://jen.jiji.com/jc/eng?g=eco&k=2015072800999)

  • Another suicide-related lawsuit against Tepco is planned. Relatives of 102 year-old Fumio Okubo want nearly $500,000 in damages, claiming that the man killed himself because he was asked to evacuate his Iitate home due to the nuke accident. Iitate had been his home for his entire life. He was ordered by Tokyo to evacuate, with the rest of Iitate’s population, in April of 2011. The man hanged himself the day after the evacuation was announced by Tokyo. The plaintiffs say the suicide was because “He thought that if he was going to live away from his hometown while causing trouble for his family, it would be better to kill himself, so he took his own life. There is no other plausible reason for his suicide than being forced to evacuate as a result of the nuclear disaster."  http://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/english/news/nuclear.html -- http://english.kyodonews.jp/news/2015/07/365878.html -- http://mainichi.jp/english/english/newsselect/news/20150729p2a00m0na012000c.html

July 27, 2015

  • Sendai unit #1 could restart as early as August 10th. On Friday, Kyushu Electric Company submitted an application for restart to the Nuclear Regulation Authority. All fuel bundles have been loaded into the Reactor Pressure Vessel and water level instrumentation has been successfully checked for operability. Today, the plant staff began a prolonged severe accident drill, one of the steps needed to meet pre-operational requirements. The scenario began with a loss of coolant situation due to a simulated pipe rupture, followed by emergency cooling failure. Operator investigation and analysis established a total loss of electrical power. A massive release of radioactivity is to be averted through use of emergency generators and pumps, many of which have been required by the new NRA regulations. NRA Commissioner Toyoshi Fuketa and five agency staff are observing the drill. The exercise is expected to continue until Thursday. http://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/english/news/nuclear.html -- http://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/english/news/nuclear.html

  • A 20-ton crane will be removed from unit #3 spent fuel pool. The process is expected to begin later this week. A Tepco spokesperson said, “The debris will be pulled out using two cranes, but we had to create a specially designed hook with a unique shape for it to securely hold on to the object.” The crane fell into the pool as a result of the hydrogen explosion of March 14, 2011. The pool’s water level and area radiation levels will be monitored closely, using multiple cameras and monitors. The removal of the crane will be slow and careful to prevent contact with the SFP gates. All other procedures at F. Daiichi will be suspended while the crane is being lifted. http://blogs.wsj.com/japanrealtime/2015/07/27/fukushima-operator-prepares-to-lift-20-ton-debris-from-fuel-pool/?mod=yahoo_hs

  • Fukushima’s governor asks diplomats to help dispel radiation fears. Gov. Masao Uchibori addressed 40 international representatives in Geneva on July 13th. He asked for everyone to remember the nuke accident and spoke about recovery progress since 3/11/11, saying, "We are faced with the harsh reality that livelihoods prior to the disasters cannot be restored." He emphasized that consumers continue to be distrustful of Fukushima's agricultural and fisheries products, despite thorough tests for radioactive substances. Included in the audience were ambassadors of Ireland and Thailand, and other representatives from the Philippines, India and Switzerland. http://www.fukushimaminponews.com/news.html?id=537

  • A Fukushima cattle producer sues Tepco. Ueno Bokujo of Koriyama, near Fukushima City, filed a suit in Fukushima District Court on July 16th, demanding $4 million in compensation for reduced cattle prices and increased manure disposal costs due to the nuke accident. The market for Fukushima-grown beef seems to have been as negatively affected as the market for Fukushima seafood. In addition, decreased sales of manure as fertilizer have also occurred. Bokujo’s herds in Koriyama and Tamura have about 2,900 head of beef cattle. A sudden drop in beef prices in 2014 has cost the owner about $1.6 million. He estimates it will cost him about $16 million to dispose of the 17,000 tons of manure that has accumulated since the market virtually vanished. A Tepco official said, “We will respond sincerely after listening carefully to what the plaintiff has to say in court.” http://ajw.asahi.com/article/0311disaster/fukushima/AJ201507240084

  • (Only because of numerous fear-mongering news stories outside Japan.) Reports of Fukushima daisies having been mutated by Fukushima radiation are unfounded. In May, pictures taken of some daisies near Nasushiobara, Tochigi Prefecture, have gone viral on the internet. The plants show multiple stems, connected flower centers, and unusually-shaped petals. On course, Fukushima-mania in some international Press outlets make a guilt-by-association connection to nuke accident, although the city is about 100km from the nuke station. Radiation levels reported near the flowers are in the 0.5 microsievert per hour range, which is about the natural background level for the location. Botanists and biologists have all agreed that the cause of the unusual, but not uncommon phenomenon is what they term “fasciation”. Fasciation can be caused by a number of insults such as bacteria, viral infection, and/or physical damage. In order for any type of plant mutation to occur, radiation exposures would have to be many, many times greater than what was found in Nasushiobara. Even though this has not been given much attention by the Japanese Press (essentially, one Japanese-American outlet), international reports have emerged. I submit one objective report http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/mutant-daisies-fukushima_55b13010e4b0a9b94853fb7b?, one less-objective article http://www.independent.co.uk/news/science/mutant-daisies-found-near-fukushima-nuclear-disaster-may-have-nothing-to-do-with-radiation-10411188.html , and one fear, uncertainty, and doubt (FUD)-oriented posting http://news.yahoo.com/fukushimas-mutant-daisies-wonder-warning-180707326.html;_ylt=A0LEV1NecLJVn.sAAm9XNyoA;_ylu=X3oDMTEyMWZtdTBqBGNvbG8DYmYxBHBvcwMxBHZ0aWQDQjAwMjhfMQRzZWMDc2M-# as examples.

July 23, 2015

  • The first transfer of rural radioactive waste from a Fukushima school has begun. Yashirogawa Elementary in the town of Tanagura is located about 150 kilometers from F. Daiichi.  A total of 1,500 cubic meters of soil and other detectibly radioactive items have been temporarily stored on the school property. The material is being transported to the temporary storage sites that straddle Okuma and Futaba towns, adjacent to F. Daiichi station. Another 1,500 m3 will be transported from four other schools in Koriyama City and Asakawa Town by the end of the summer. The volume of wastes at the Yashirogawa School was collected between January and June of this year. About 43,000 cu. meters of material from 43 municipalities will be shipped to the storage site by April of 2016. The work has been completed in six towns, including Okuma and Futaba. It is estimated that 316,400 cu. meters of waste is currently stored at 1,173 locations in the prefecture. http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2015/07/19/national/science-health/transfer-of-radiation-tainted-soil-from-fukushima-prefecture-school-starts/#.VauU1JAw8dU

  • A Fukushima contractor is arrested for burying detectibly radioactive tree debris. Minamisoma police arrested him for allegedly disposing about 3.4 tons of branches and twigs in a woody area. The possibility came to light in February after the Environment Ministry was alerted by a competitor contractor. The police report the alleged perpetrator has denied the claim, saying he did no such thing and that he never told his employees to do it. http://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/english/news/nuclear.html

  • As of Monday, 7,000 tons of radioactive water remained in underground locations at F. Daiichi. The liquids are in several tunnels, ducts, and pits for units #2 and #3. The highest contamination levels measured were 990 Becquerels per liter of Cesium-134 and 3,200 Bq/l of Cesium-137. These levels are many times lower than what is found in the turbine basements and the waters recently removed from the main equipment tunnels for the two units. Removal of all waters is expected by the end of the month. http://jen.jiji.com/jc/eng?g=eco&k=2015072100628

  • Russia partially lifts its Fukushima-related seafood ban, and it is also being considered by Taiwan. Twenty-three fish processing companies in Aomori Prefecture can now ship their products to Russia. However, the trade embargo still remains for seven other prefectures - Iwate, Miyagi, Yamagata, Fukushima, Ibaraki, Chiba and Niigata. Russia says the decision was based on IAEA recommendations and the fact that Aomori Prefecture is quite far from F. Daiichi. Before the nuke accident, 520 Japanese companies exported to Russia, but the nuke crisis witnessed 200 companies banned. Meanwhile, Taiwan might lift food import bans on four Prefectures, other than Fukushima. A diplomatic source said, “We agreed in principle to relax restrictions on food produce from four Japanese prefectures except Fukushima. The fact is that all the food products from the banned prefectures pass the safety examinations and they are consumed by the Japanese public.” The affected prefectures are Ibaraki, Gunma, Tochigi and Chiba. http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2015/07/22/national/russia-eases-ban-seafood-imports-japan/#.Va_hp5Aw8dU

  • More on the NRA’s assumption that the Shika fault is seismic. On July 17th, the Nuclear Regulation Authority’s seismic panel published a draft report on a geologic seam running under Shika unit #1. The report stated, “Although no clear basis has been found to affirm that the faults were active after the Late Pleistocene (some 120,000 to 130,000 years ago), the possibility of their displacement and deformation cannot be denied.” Station owner Horuiku Electric. Co. says evidence shows that the fault has not moved within the last 130,000 years, and called the NRA finding “hardly rational”. The company says it is examining the entire report and will submit a written opinion. http://www.jaif.or.jp/en/nra-panel-activeness-of-faults-under-shika-cannot-be-ruled-out-again/

  • Another 3,000 Fukushima residents seek compensation money. All claimants live in the Watari District of Fukushima City, some 20km outside the Tokyo-mandated exclusion zone. None have previously qualified for evacuation stipends, voluntary evacuee payments, or mental anguish compensations. Tokyo’s guidelines allow residents in government-ordered evacuation zones and "specific spots recommended for evacuation" (where radiation levels are relatively high) to get 100,000 yen (~$800) each a month for emotional duress. The Watari residents say they were exposed to about 2 microsieverts per hour for the first six months of the accident, which was the highest in Fukushima City. They feel they are entitled to the same mental stress payments as mandated evacuees, and each should get double payments for the first six months after the accident when the radiation levels were at their peak. One claimant said, "The Watari district was not designated as a specific evacuation recommendation spot because the national and prefectural governments wanted to avoid a situation where residents in the center of the city evacuate. We should be entitled to compensation on par with that for residents in specific evacuation recommendation spots." http://mainichi.jp/english/english/newsselect/news/20150721p2a00m0na014000c.html

  • Greenpeace published a report on Tuesday saying that only a fourth of Iitate Village is decontaminated, including roads, homes, and buffer strips around inhabited areas, thus, “Levels of radiation in both decontaminated and non-decontaminated areas… make a return of the former inhabitants of Iitate not possible from a public health… perspective.” The rationale is that the surrounding forests are a giant reservoir of contamination that will eventually leach out and re-contaminate much of the decontaminated area. Greenpeace says this will effectively confine returnees to a relatively small area of their old hometowns. The report states, “The Japanese government plans, if implemented, will create an open-air prison of confinement to ‘cleaned’ houses and roads … and the vast untouched radioactive forests continue to pose a significant risk of recontamination of these ‘decontaminated’ areas to even higher levels.” Greenpeace adds that detectible radiation exposures above 1 millisievert per year will force people to relocate at some point in the future. http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2015/07/22/national/science-health/fukushima-scrub-aims-make-villages-safe-although-woods-may-remain-no-go-zones/#.VbDU4ZAw8dU

  • Greenpeace also says much of soon-to-be-repopulated Naraha Town might be unfit for habitation. They say that decontamination is incomplete and hap-hazard in Iitate, thus there’s no reason to think it is any better in Naraha. On the other hand, government data shows contamination levels in Naraha are much lower than Iitate, and a town survey shows that most residents want to go home. A statement made by Mayor Naraha Yukiei Matsumoto says the end of the evacuation order is “based on citizens’ real voices and plans to accelerate reconstruction,” and that a “prolonged evacuee life is not desirable.” http://www.japantoday.com/category/national/view/nuclear-refugees-face-dilemma-over-returning-home?utm_campaign=jt_newsletter&utm_medium=email&utm_source=jt_newsletter_2015-07-22_PM

  • A German multi-media outlet bashes Tokyo for re-opening Naraha. Deutsche Welle (DW) reports, “…environmentalists say many areas still show highly-elevated levels of contamination and are unfit for habitation.” It also alleges that it is merely a “…bid seen by critics as aiming to speed up reconstruction.” DW evokes the above Greenpeace report, and includes the statement that it will be “impossible for people to safely return to their homes.” Greenpeace activist Jan Vande Putte said, "Prime Minister Abe would like the people of Japan to believe that they are decontaminating vast areas of Fukushima to levels safe enough for people to live in. The reality is that this is a policy doomed to failure. The forests of Iitate are a vast stock of radioactivity that will remain both a direct hazard and source of potential recontamination for hundreds of years. It is impossible to decontaminate." Greenpeace Japan’s Mamoru Sekiguchi adds, "It's a shocking indictment of both the IAEA and the Abe government, which reveals how desperate they are to create the illusion that returning to 'normal' is possible after a severe nuclear accident.” Adding more fuel to the scare-mongering, French antinuclear activist Mycle Schneider says, "As there is no threshold, meaning there is no safe level of exposure, the health risk to people would be significantly increased." He also called Japan’s decontamination efforts “helplessly inefficient”. DW also states that repopulation is a money-saving move because compensation payments will eventually stop. DW again cites Vande Putte, "Stripping nuclear victims of their already inadequate compensation, which may force them to have to return to unsafe, highly radioactive areas for financial reasons, amounts to economic coercion." Schneider voices a parallel criticism, calling repopulation “a very simple goal; reduce the amount of compensation being paid out to victims.” (Aside – how ~$9,000 per month in total pay-outs for every man, woman, and child is “inadequate compensation” is beyond this reporter’s comprehension. The DW report only the $1,000 per month doled out for emotional distress, but the total stipends being paid are nine times greater. – end aside) http://www.dw.com/en/tokyo-under-fire-for-plans-to-speed-return-of-fukushima-evacuees/a-18597707

July 20, 2013

  • Radiation levels in and around the Fukushima evacuation zone have dropped considerably. The Reconstruction Agency released maps comparing estimated exposures in 2011 and 2014. The doses were based on the assumption that a resident spends 16 hours indoors and eight hours outdoors a day.  An Agency official said, "“Radiation dosages at the Nakadori and Hamadori regions have dropped significantly and this gives proof that we are no longer in a situation where one needs to evacuate from areas outside evacuation-designated zones.” Hamadori is the prefecture's coastal region, and Nakadori is the prefecture's central region. http://www.fukushimaminponews.com/news.html?id=535

  • Heavy rains caused a minor contaminated leak into the sea. A drainage channel, with its outlet blocked, was overflowed by an unusually heavy downpour. The channel has a pump to direct flow into the doubly-barricaded inner port (quay), but the rains exceeded the pump’s maximum capacity. Water in the channel measured 830 Becquerels per liter for radioactive Cesium and 1,000 Bq/l for Beta emitters. Tepco says the activity was probably due to the rains washing mud and loose surface material into the ditch. This is the same channel that had elevated rainwater contamination levels in February, sparking a major socio-political controversy. http://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/english/news/20150717_01.html

  • The Nuclear Regulation Authority is testing a new public radiation data system for Sendai station. The system provides Tokyo and local communities with online radiation data during emergencies. Other concerned organizations and citizens across Japan will be able to access the NRA website postings, as well. For Sendai station, the website provides data from 73 fixed observation points within a 30-kilometer radius, as well as from mobile radiation-monitoring. The NRA says that if the testing goes as planned, the system should be in full operation in August. They will also set up websites for other nukes at some point in the future. http://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/english/news/nuclear.html

  • A fault under Shika nuclear station is possibly seismic. An NRA panel rendered its decision on Friday. The seam runs under part of the station’s unit #1. The NRA report admits there is no clear evidence that the fault is active, but the geologic strata atop a small portion of the anomaly may have moved within the last 120,000-130,000 years. The panel said it is possible that the upper strata moved because of prior, but currently-undetected activity in the fault. Station owner Hokuriku Electric Co. challenged the NRA finding. Company president Yukata Kanai said, “We’re confident that the fault is not active”, and that they submitted detailed surveys to try and prove it. Hokuriku Elec. says that volcanic ash found inside the seam, and other evidence, suggests that the NRA has made a “factual error” and has drawn a conclusion based on assumptions and hypothetical calculations. The NRA panel dismissed this claim saying that it cannot be proven that the fault has not moved within the past 130,000 years. NRA regulations ban nukes built over faults deemed active. The report will not be finalized until opinions of independent experts and the body of commissioners has been garnered.  http://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/english/news/20150717_05.html -- http://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/english/news/20150717_25.html -- http://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/english/news/nuclear.html -- http://ajw.asahi.com/article/0311disaster/fukushima/AJ201507180040 -- http://mainichi.jp/english/english/newsselect/news/20150718p2a00m0na001000c.html


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