Fukushima 91... 9/28/15-10/15/15

October 15, 2015

  • Sendai unit #2 is restarted. The first control rods began withdrawal at 10:30 am (Japan Time), and initial criticality was achieved at ~11pm (11am EDT). Kyushu Electric Co. plans to start generating and transmitting power next Wednesday and resume commercial operation in mid-November. The unit has been idled by Japan’s nuclear moratorium for more than four years. This is the second restarted reactor at Sendai station, Kagoshima Prefecture. Kyushu Electric Power Co. President Michiaki Uriu pledged, “We will continue to cooperate with the central government’s inspection procedures and proceed with operational procedures at the plant by putting utmost priority on securing its safety.” Kagoshima Governor Yuichiro Ito added a cautionary note, "Japan's nuclear policy will end should local residents be forced to evacuate in a grave accident. I think the Nuclear Regulation Authority screened the facility, fully aware of such a scenario, and the utility should share the same recognition in proceeding with reactivation." On Tuesday, antinuclear demonstrators began a protest vigil, waving signs saying “Nuclear plants, no more”. They alleged that Kyushu Electric Co. has made a “suicidal” decision because the company considered upgrading a steam generator in 2009, but the plans were dropped. The protestors claim this was potentially catastrophic decision that places the public at mortal risk. Local antinuclear leader Ryoko Torihara added that local residents have done nothing to wean themselves off economic dependency on Sendai station, “Three decades have passed since the plant started operations, and residents no longer seem to have creative minds to come up with alternative methods to sustain the city’s economy.” Wataru Ogawa from neighboring Miyazaki Prefecture said that once deregulation takes place customers should stop buying electricity from Kyushu Electric. This morning, 70-100 protestors remained at the Sendai station gates, with the main complaint being that emergency evacuation plans are insufficient. Hisashi Ide from far-away Ehime Prefecture added, "The public wants to do away with nuclear power. Our voice of protest has been ignored.” A resident of host community Satsumasendai offered a mixed message, "If an accident occurs, I'm worried it could endanger [the health of] children… [but] We have seen more people walking around the city after the No. 1 unit started operating." http://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/english/news/nuclear.html -- http://ajw.asahi.com/article/behind_news/social_affairs/AJ201510130025 -- http://www.jaif.or.jp/en/sendai-2-restarted/ -- http://mainichi.jp/english/english/newsselect/news/20151015p2g00m0dm033000c.html  -- http://ajw.asahi.com/article/behind_news/social_affairs/AJ201510150020 -- http://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/english/news/20151015_18.html --

  • Japan’s wide-spread lack of knowledge about radiation is increasing. Japan’s Consumer Affairs Agency has run six surveys concerning general knowledge about radioactivity in foods over the 4+ years since the Fukushima accident. The percentage of people who said they had a basic understanding of radiation and its effects dropped from last year, and the portion who said they didn’t know anything about the effects of radiation on their bodies is at an all-time high of 31.1%. The proportion of those could not accept any radiation risk increased, and those who could accept such risk (to some degree) decreased. Those concerned about the possibility of radiation in their foods remained unchanged from last year (21.5%). However, the percentage of consumers who said they could handle small foods with “as little radioactive material as possible” declined, and more people said that the safety criteria should be stricter than it is now. Perhaps the most surprising fact is that nearly 35% said they didn’t know whether or not their foods were being checked for radiation levels, even though all Press outlets report about the testing program on a regular basis. (Aside -The results of the survey indicate that Tokyo’s efforts to improve public understanding about radiation are actually having a negative effect. – End Aside) http://www.jaif.or.jp/en/agency-reports-on-decline-in-peoples-knowledge-about-radiation/

  • Tokyo discloses a five-point plan for used fuel disposal. The concept includes a grouping of the government and nuclear-operating utilities to promote spent nuclear fuel measures, strengthening regional incentives such as grants, and improving public awareness of activities related to the nuclear fuel cycle. Until these measures are in place, the plan says, “The Japanese government will reinforce efforts toward facilitating the construction and use of new facilities for intermediate and dry storage, while studying a wide range of locations as candidates, regardless of whether they are inside or outside NPP premises.” The plan also said Tokyo will work toward the completion of the Rokkasho Reprocessing Plant and the Mutsu Interim Storage Facility, and resolved to study whether countries buying Japanese nuclear technology have appropriate safety systems in-place. http://www.jaif.or.jp/en/japanese-government-to-reinforce-measures-for-spent-fuel-disposal/

October 12, 2015 

  • There is no radioactive Cesium in the bodies of Fukushima children. An “extensive study” used the new, highly-sensitive “Babyscan” technology, developed following the nuke accident. Babyscan can sense as low as 50 Becquerels of contamination per child, and is 5-6 times more sensitive than the whole body counters used for adults. Researchers from the University of Tokyo and other institutions performed the study at three hospitals: Hirata Central and Minamisoma Municipal General Hospitals in Fukushima Prefecture, plus Tokiwakai Hospital in Aomori. Interestingly, 96% of the parents said they did not avoid Fukushima-produced foods and water. Thus, the study indicates that the results were the same for those children who did and did not consume possibly contaminated food and water. One researcher said, "Our study has confirmed that there is a low risk of internal exposure even among children who eat food produced in Fukushima Prefecture." The report also said that if the children had slightly less-than-detectible Cesium in them, their annual exposure level would be no more than 16 microsieverts; more than 60 times less than Japan’s ridiculously low goal of 1 millisievert (1000 µSv) per annum. Researcher Masaharu Tsubokura said it is disappointing that results like this have not reduced parental anxieties. He lamented, “There are people who want us to continue the examinations and reserve a place where they can consult about them. And, there are many people who say they can’t eat produce grown in Fukushima.” Thus, the study will continue. http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2015/10/09/national/science-health/extensive-radiation-study-finds-no-internal-cesium-exposure-fukushima-children/#.VhfZLpDosdV -- http://mainichi.jp/english/english/newsselect/news/20151009p2a00m0na025000c.html

  • Tepco prepares to start freezing the F. Daiichi “ice wall”. When asked about the status of the wall, Plant Manager Akira Ono said, “In the last half-year we have made significant progress in water treatment,” adding that the frozen wall “should be able to resolve the contaminated water issues before the Olympic Games.” Tepco says the ground surrounding the three inland sides of the four damaged units should be frozen by the end of the year. This should drop the basement’s in-seepage of groundwater from 300 tons per day down to 100. American consulting expert Dale Klein says, “It is a very important issue for the public, and good water management is needed for Tepco to restore the public’s trust.” Unfortunately, the Press report includes a contrasting view by former DOE official Lake Barrett, “Some of these areas may have different freezing and sealing capabilities. These types of problems were encountered when Tepco tried and failed to seal the seawater trenches by freezing.” Barrett fails to consider that the installed ice wall has literally nothing to do with the trenches on the sea-side of the complex. http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2015/10/10/national/tepco-expects-begin-freezing-ice-wall-fukushima-no-1-year-end/#.VhkkVZDosdX (Comment - It should be noted that when the ice wall is fully frozen and the impermeable sea wall just off-shore are completed, it is estimated that the assumed outflow of groundwater to the sea will drop to somewhere between 1/15 and 1/40 of the current notion.)

  • Dozens of local governments demand more money from Tepco. Seventeen prefectures and seven cities have filed claims totaling more than $1 billion USD. This is in addition to the payouts for personal and property compensation of more than $45 billion already given to Tokyo-mandated evacuees. All prefectures in the Tohoku (Northeastern Honshu Island) and Kanto (Tokyo-area) regions have filed, plus the western prefectures of Mie and Shimane. Tepco has agreed to pay more than $300 million for revenue losses with public businesses including water and sewage treatment, radiation tests on school meals and agricultural products, and the cost of collection and storage of radioactive rural debris. However, Tepco has balked at requests to compensate for loss of tax revenues caused by residents that have fled the prefectures and cities due to radiation fears. A Tepco official said, "We are paying local governments compensation in amounts that fall within a necessary and logical range based on interim guidelines set by the Dispute Reconciliation Committee for Nuclear Damage Compensation." But, the local governments want more. http://mainichi.jp/english/english/newsselect/news/20151012p2a00m0na006000c.html

  • Japan’s Press continues its ignorance concerning radiation. In a Mainichi Shimbun article about Tepco examining an exhaust duct’s supporting poles says the radiation level near the duct “…was actually 25 sieverts per hour – a level guaranteed to be fatal.” (Emphasis added) This caters to a false notion in Japan that when someone enters a large exposure area, that person will immediately swoon and die. This only happens in science fiction stories/movies. Actually, a person would have to remain in such an area for several minutes before experiencing subsequent fatigue and nausea, but would probably recover. Someone would have to be there at least 15 minutes to have a 90% chance of dying of Acute Radiation Syndrome some days later. Japan’s Press needs to do its homework concerning radiation exposure instead of merely reinforcing false paradigms. http://mainichi.jp/english/english/newsselect/news/20151010p2a00m0na007000c.html

  • The issue with releasing purified groundwater to the sea continues. Many Japanese experts now agree with international authorities who say releasing the 700,000 tons of stored, purified waters at F. Daiichi containing biologically-innocuous Tritium is not a problem. Prof. Ichiro Yamamoto of Nagoya University says, “The release standards are far stricter than those set by experts, taking into consideration the effects of radiation on the human body. I don’t think there will be any effect on fish and shellfish, either.” But, because the purified waters still contain biologically innocuous radioactive Tritium, local fisheries refuse to let Tepco do the right thing and discharge all the water into the ocean. This costs Tepco a lot of money, and the price tag increases every day. Prof. Jota Kanda of Tokyo University School of Marine Science and Technology said, “To lower the level of [Tritium] radioactivity to be near that of the groundwater, the processed water must be thinned down, at huge cost, or stored over an extended period that could span over dozens of years.” http://the-japan-news.com/news/article/0002463580

  • Ehime Prefecture’s assembly approves the restart of Ikata unit #3. After discussing the several petitions submitted concerning the resumption, the assembly voted to agree with those supporting restart. Next, they passed a resolution Ikata unit #3 operations is necessary. Having met with Industry Minister Motoo Hayashi, Ikata Mayor Kazuhiko Yamashita will visit Ehime Governor Tokihiro Nakamura to voice his agreement with the assembly decision. The governor will next meet with the minister before he voices his opinion. The Yahatahama City and Ikata Town have already approved the restart, but the rest within 30 km are waiting to hear what the governor decides. http://www.jaif.or.jp/en/ehime-prefectural-assembly-agrees-to-restarting-ikata-3-with-governor-to-make-final-decision-soon/

  • Takahama units 3&4 pass their government safety screenings. The Nuclear Regulation Authority announced completion of its safety system inspections on Friday. The NRA is currently running “pre-use” observations for unit #3, and the same will begin for unit #4 in the near future. http://jen.jiji.com/jc/eng?g=eco&k=2015100900647

  • The court case barring Takahama 3&4 restarts continues. Before Takahama 3&4 can operate, a Fukui court injunction barring restart must be repealed. The district court has barred restart, in agreement with a request by 9 residents of the prefecture (pop. 803,000). Station owner Kansai Electric Co. wants the injunction be nullified due to bias and irresponsible action on the part of the presiding judge. To date, there have been three hearings on the Kansai request under the jurisdiction of a different judge. A fourth hearing will be held on November 13th. Unless the injunction is annulled, the Takahama units will remain idled. http://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/english/news/nuclear.html

  • In an article critical of nuke restarts, an interesting fact emerges. News media polls indicate that a majority of Japanese oppose nuclear energy. However, the long-term weaning of Japan off nukes is far more popular than either immediate elimination or continued reliance. Thus, “…most people support the use of nuclear power for the time being.” However, when asked if they support restarts, the majority says “No!” This reveals a nation-wide contradiction. The report says the problem is PM Shinzo Abe’s addressment of the issue, which nippon.com says is confusing and shows a lack of willingness to “shoulder responsibility”. This convoluted rationale doesn’t address the obvious – the public is confused. http://www.nippon.com/en/currents/d00196/

October 8, 2015

  • Tepco has safely released more than 4,000 tons of purified groundwater to the sea. The discharge was on October 1st. The discharge included some water pumped out of the ground after September 3rd. All of the waters were tested by Tepco and an independent third party to insure the radioactive isotopic concentrations were below Tepco’s self-imposed, ridiculously low limits (10-60 times less than drinking water standards). (Comment – There has been nothing in Japan’s news media or the international Press about this.) http://www.jaif.or.jp/en/tepco-releases-decontaminated-groundwater-five-times-into-the-sea-from-fukushima-daiichi/

  • Evacuees making short-term stays at home show no adverse health effects. A team from Soma Central Hospital, headed by Dr. Takeaki Ishii, studied the health records of 500 Soma City evacuees. The study was done due to concerns about negative health effects resulting from reduced outdoor activities caused by fear of radiation. The investigation shows combined internal and external exposures have not caused a “worsening of lifestyle-related diseases”. In addition, the study found no internal exposure to infants and the exposure to the 27% of adults had detectible internal radioactive depositions and all had less than one millisievert per year exposure. http://www.fukushimaminponews.com/news.html?id=573

  • Evacuating out of Fukushima Prefecture minimally lowered internal exposures. Masaharu Tsubokura and a team of researchers at the Minamisoma Municipal General Hospital discovered that the relative risk factor between those who fled the prefecture and those who stayed was 0.88 and 0.86, respectively. The researchers say this is not medically significant. Further, they found that internal exposure resulting from contaminated air inhaled during the initial stage of the crisis was minimal, at most. http://www.fukushimaminponews.com/news.html?id=574

  • Parental radiation exposure has not increased cancer in children of the Hibakusha (A-bomb survivors). The joint Japanese-American Radiation Research Effects Foundation says it found “no indications of deleterious health effects” among second generation Hibakusha after 62 years of research; the third consecutive 10-year study by RERF showing no health impacts. The latest survey compared the health records of more than 75,000 second-generation Hibakusha to those of the second generation born of unexposed WWII-period parents. RERF said that despite the four straight studies finding nothing, they will do it again in ten years because of the continuing anxieties expressed by about half of the 90,000 A-bomb survivor parents still alive. One Hiroshima University professor said it is still too early to close the book on possible negative health effects with Hibakusha off-spring because cancer tends to be elevated in older people. (Aside –Nearly 25% of the second-generation Hibakusha are over 60 years old, and the average age of the entire cohort is 53. Since when are they not an elderly group? When will long enough be long enough? Forty years ago, it was believed that the maximum latency period for radiation-induced cancers was 20 years. Ever since, the speculated latency period has grown by ten years for every decade that has passed. When will this fear-prolonging progression stop? – end aside) The RERF report was published in the British medical journal Lancet Oncology on Sept. 14. http://ajw.asahi.com/article/behind_news/social_affairs/AJ201510060027 -- http://www.thelancet.com/journals/lanonc/article/PIIS1470-2045(15)00209-0/fulltext?rss=yes

  • Tomioka Town prepares for partial re-population. The municipal government resumed on-site duties on October 1st because round-the-clock habitation for the 1,500 residents of the southern third of the town and daytime visitation for 10,000 people with homes in the middle third of the community are now both allowed. In addition, the Town government anticipates Tokyo lifting restrictions on the lower third of Tomioka in a few months. 20 officials of the reconstruction promotion and restoration divisions are now working out of the health center next to the town office. Previously, they were operating in the neighboring town of Naraha, which had all living restrictions lifted last month. Tomioka Mayor Koichi Miyamoto said, “In aiming for the town’s revival, we have moved (two) important divisions back to town and I hope this will help accelerate recovery and reconstruction.” http://www.fukushimaminponews.com/news.html?id=572

  • A maverick Japanese professor contradicts the consensus on Fukushima child thyroid anomalies. Toshihide Tsuda, professor of Epidemiology, and three colleagues have published a report contradicting the Fukushima University Medical School, the Japanese Research Center for Cancer Prevention and Screening, and the National Cancer Center, that all say the detected child thyroid pre-cancerous anomalies in Fukushima Prefecture cannot be linked to the accident. Tsuda maintains that the rate of anomalies is 20-50 times the national average, and "is unlikely to be explained by a screening surge." He's been alleging that the nuke accident is causing a thyroid cancer epidemic for three years. http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2015/10/07/national/science-health/new-report-links-thyroid-cancer-rise-fukushima-nuclear-crisis/#.VhakAZDosdW -- http://journals.lww.com/epidem/Abstract/publishahead/Thyroid_Cancer_Detection_by_Ultrasound_Among.99115.aspx#  (Comment – The published paper linked above may be freely downloaded by clicking  the “Article as PDF” button on the page. One striking point that seems intentionally overlooked by the authors is that many of the areas with the low exposures have a high incidence of pre-cancerous child thyroid anomalies, and the lowest incidence seems to be in some of the higher exposure areas. One of my esteemed colleagues in Scientists for Accurate Radiation Information finds this inexcusable, thus the report “likely belongs in the trash heap”.)

  • PM Shinzo Abe says the Tokyo has responsibility for safety of the public in nuke accidents. At a meeting called by Ehime Prefecture’s Governor Tokihiro Nakamura, Abe said that if a nuclear accident were to occur, it is the government's duty to protect peoples' lives and assets, and deal with the situation responsibly. The meeting was requested by Nakamura as a condition for the restart of a nuke unit at Ikata station in Ehime. Ikata Town unanimously approved the restart Monday, but the Mayor and Nakamura balked at extending their permissions because several conditions still had to be met. Nakamura says another condition is to meet with the Industry Minister, which has yet to be scheduled. Also at Tuesday’s meeting, Tokyo’s nuclear disaster prevention council approved the Ehime Prefecture evacuation plans. Ikata mayor Kazuhiko Yamashita said, "Now we have all the criteria (to decide)." However, he stopped short of extending approval saying he also wants to meet with the Industry Minister. http://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/english/news/20151006_19.html -- http://mainichi.jp/english/english/newsselect/news/20151006p2g00m0dm059000c.html

  • Japan’s antinukes fear one of PM Abe’s new Cabinet appointees has sold out. Lawyer Taro Kono has accepted appointment as chairman of the National Public Safety Commission and minister in charge of administrative reform and disaster management. For two years, Kono has been a vocal critic of Abe’s national energy policy which points to 20% of Japan’s electricity eventually coming from nukes. He has said that nukes should not be restarted until the nuclear waste disposal issue is resolved. This has made him popular among Japan’s antinuclear demographic, however acceptance of his new position makes them wonder if he has not discarded his beliefs in exchange for political glory. Kono responded to Press inquiries, saying, “During the race for the 2012 LDP presidential election, Abe clearly pledged that he will work to reduce the country’s reliance on nuclear power in the long term. We are heading in the same direction on this issue.” http://ajw.asahi.com/article/behind_news/politics/AJ201510080034

October 5, 2015

  • Tepco has removed all roof panels from the unit #1 enclosure. The final 42x7 meter panel was lifted off this morning by a crane. There was no change in radiation levels around the destroyed reactor building during the removal of all six panels over the past three months. The large plastic sheets that comprise the walls of the enclosure will be removed next so that full debris cleanup can be implemented. The goal is to eventually remove all bundles from the spent fuel pool and transfer them to the ground-level storage facility. http://www.tepco.co.jp/en/nu/fukushima-np/handouts/2015/images/handouts_151005_01-e.pdf -- http://www.jaif.or.jp/en/ikata-town-assemblys-special-committee-supports-restart/

  • Tepco and Japan Atomic Energy Agency are making a new device to look for solidified core material (corium). The device will allow inspection inside the Reactor Pressure Vessel (RPV) and below the vessel. Muon-based examinations can only look at the mid-part of the RPV, where the fuel core is located during routine operations. The unit #1 muon images revealed a full meltdown, but could not show the bottom of the RPV or the base-mat floor beneath. The new device is to be remote-controlled and fiber-optics to provide visual inspection. It will be inserted through pipes that pass through the walls surrounding the RPV and supporting pedestal. It is planned to have the technology ready to use after March of 2016. http://www.fukushimaminponews.com/news.html?id=571

  • Fukushima-grown rice continues to be scanned for radioactivity. The Prefecture admits they have found no rice exceeding the national 100 Becquerel per kilogram limit for two years. However, they will continue the intensive, costly monitoring program because consumer confidence is not yet fully restored. At least 10 million 30kg bags are tested each year at a cost of around $40 million. 71 bags failed inspection in 2012, and 28 in 2013. None have been rejected since then. http://mainichi.jp/english/english/newsselect/news/20151005p2a00m0na009000c.html

  • The latest Fukushima Prefecture women/child stress report is released. After three years of surveying those who are not evacuees, the Fukushima University Center for Psychological Studies of Disaster included refugees in this year’s study. It also includes mothers in four Miyagi Prefecture communities, which is north of Fukushima. The report says non-evacuee stress due to radiation fears in Fukushima City remained the same over the past year, after three years of steady decline. The stress among evacuees is much greater than with non-evacuees. The Center’s director Yuji Tsutsui says the problem is radiation detectible above background, "“Even after decontamination work is done the radiation levels remain higher than in pre-accident measurements. Residents have no choice but to be conscious about radiation in their daily lives, and such anxiety prevents the stress levels from dropping…We want to support mothers and children with psychiatric treatment so they can live carefree and positively even with their stress.” Tohoku University’s Hiroko Yoshida adds that the radiation detected in southern Miyagi Prefecture is not different from northern Fukushima Prefecture, thus “The emotional effect caused by the nuclear plant accident is not an issue only for Fukushima Prefecture.” http://ajw.asahi.com/article/0311disaster/fukushima/AJ201510020006 -- http://mainichi.jp/english/english/newsselect/news/20151002p2a00m0na006000c.html

  • Sendai unit #2 is scheduled to restart on October 15th. Unit #1 was restarted earlier this fall and is now in full, safe commercial operation. Sendai station staff installed all 157 fuel bundles in unit #2 last month. The thick, domed reactor vessel head is being secured in place. Final pre-operational inspections will begin next Friday. Sendai Unit #2 will be the second nuke to restart following the end of Japan’s post-Fukushima moratorium. http://mainichi.jp/english/english/newsselect/news/20151002p2g00m0dm062000c.html

  • The host community for Ikata unit #3 approves restart. The Ikata Town assembly endorsed resident petitions supporting restart and rejected those submitted by antinuclear groups. It is expected that the town assembly will make it official on Tuesday, with Mayor Kazuhiko Yamashita announcing the decision. Ehime Prefectural Assembly will make a final decision on October 9th and Governor Tokihiro Nakamura will announce it. http://www.jaif.or.jp/en/ikata-town-assemblys-special-committee-supports-restart/

  • Japanese Lawyers intensify their antinuclear planning. The Japan Federation of Bar Associations has said they want nuclear energy eliminated because they feel its existence is a violation of the human right to healthy living. Now, the JFBA wants Tokyo to provide enhanced health care to all evacuees. This not only pertains to those forced to leave their homes by government orders, but also those who fled in terror out of fear of radiation. The Japan Federation of Bar Associations says, "The state should provide periodical and continual medical checkups for free to those who lived or live in radiation-hit areas. The results of the checkups should be widely shared, with consideration given to privacy, so experts can examine them to study the effects of low-dose exposure and map out countermeasures." The Association says that 110,000 remain estranged, of which 45,000 live in prefectures other than Fukushima and are uncertain about ever returning. The Association says, "The evacuees may face difficulties even if they return home, as many communities have been disbanded during the four-and-a-half years since the earthquake, tsunami and nuclear disasters, while medical and administrative services will not be sufficiently provided there. On the other hand, some of those who decide to stay where they are now will carry double debt loads for their old and present homes.” The lawyers also voiced their concerns about evacuation-related health problems such as strokes and diabetes, and promised support for of citizens who oppose having low level rural waste disposal sites outside Fukushima Prefecture.  http://mainichi.jp/english/english/newsselect/news/20151003p2g00m0dm003000c.html -- http://english.kyodonews.jp/news/2015/10/377404.html -- http://www.equities.com/index.php?option=com_k2&view=newsdetail&id=433915

  • Fukushima police send Tepco officials to prosecutors over contaminated water releases. Criminal complaints were filed in 2013 by Fukushima residents alleging negligence in converting temporary storage tanks to the welded type, and delays in building in-ground walls to stop groundwater from seeping into the basements of the four damaged units. Since 2013, the prefecture’s police have interrogated the 32 Tepco officials named in the complaints. With the investigation complete, the police forwarded the complaint and their findings to the prosecutor’s office in Fukushima City to see if the company violated national pollution laws. The police have not said they have asked prosecutors to indict anyone. http://ajw.asahi.com/article/0311disaster/fukushima/AJ201510030052

  • Japan Times wants nuclear plant operators held criminally liable for negligence. The Times cites the conviction of two JCO (formerly Japan Nuclear Fuel Conversion Co.) officials concerning the deaths of two Tokaimura facility employees due to over-exposure during the 1999 accident. The Times also cites the decision of a people’s court in Tokyo to indict three Tepco officials, even though the initial charges had been dropped twice because Tokyo’s prosecution office said it is not possible to prove negligence. Unfortunately, the Times report has several major error, including the restart of Sendai unit #1 implying that “Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and Kyushu Electric Power Co. don’t appear to remember this [Fukushima] accident very well”, which is a confabulation, and “seawater was detected in the [Sendai #1] reactor’s cooling system in late August” when it was not in reactor cooling system, but rather in the steam plant water that does not cool the reactor. http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2015/10/03/national/media-national/whos-responsible-fukushima-disaster/#.Vg_HM5DosdV

October 1, 2015

  • A panel of six Japanese women express their views on nuclear energy misunderstandings. The Japanese public increasingly misjudges nuclear power because accurate information is not circulated and intentionally incorrect material is distributed by anti-nuclear groups. The most-misinformed Japanese demographic is female. Thus, the National Nuclear Union held a women-only panel discussion. Former Japan Atomic Energy Commission officer Noriko Kimoto keynoted the discussion and explained that Japanese nuclear fears are linked to the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, and radiation literacy is lower in Japan than other countries. She stressed the need to publicize fact-based information. Noriko was followed by three other presenters: Dr. Katsuko Uno of the Louis Pasteur Center for Medical Research, political journalist Tamao Hosokawa, and Engineer Tomoko Murakami of the Institute of Energy Economics. Dr. Uno focused on the impacts of overstating and understating risks, explaining that both send incorrect messages. Ms. Murakami concentrated on the widespread misunderstanding that the rest of the world instantly reversed its direction on nuclear development when Fukushima happened. She also spoke on exaggerated information such as aging reactors being “uniformly dangerous”, which is simply incorrect. In response, a student said that unless the risk is zero, mothers should remain evacuated. Ms. Hosokawa responded that many women oppose nuclear power because they do not really study the subject. She stressed that women should red widely and give all information equal attention. http://www.jaif.or.jp/en/panel-talks-about-thoughts-on-misunderstanding-nuclear-power-at-national-nuclear-union-gathering/

  • The Futaba region’s police station reopens. It is now operating out of its pre-accident location in Tomioka. The Futaba region includes almost the entire 20km evacuation radius. The police feel it is needed because visitor traffic should increase through the area due to the lifting of evacuation orders by Tokyo. The station is physically located inside a restricted area with estimated outdoor exposures between 20 and 50 millisieverts per year. There will be officers at the facility Monday through Saturday, 9am to 5pm. At all other times, police operations will be home-based in fully-reopened Naraha. The Futaba police will consult with returning residents, make routine patrols, and attend to traffic control. Fukushima Prefecture’s police chief Katsuhiko Ishida told the Futaba staff, "I want you to renew your resolve and assist Fukushima's reconstruction from a security aspect." http://mainichi.jp/english/english/newsselect/news/20151001p2a00m0na008000c.html

  • Two public facilities open in the repopulating town of Nahara. A few hundred residents have taken advantage of it- the town’s reopening two weeks ago, but most have stayed away because there were few public services available. Now, a cycling terminal and a hot spring inn have opened with a commemorative ceremony celebrating the restart of the town’s major tourist attractions. About 100 residents and guests attended the event. Mayor Yukiei Masumoto spoke at the festivities, saying, “These two facilities have been reborn into places where one can relax and enjoy oneself. I hope you all can feel refreshed in both the body and soul in our hometown Naraha.” http://www.fukushimaminponews.com/news.html?id=566

  • Tomioka Town rice is harvested for market. Tomioka lies immediately north of Naraha within the 20km Tokyo-mandated evacuation zone. Round-the-clock habitation is allowed for the 1,500 residents of the southern third of the town, but most of the municipality remains under living restrictions, with daytime visitation for 10,000 people with homes in the middle third of the community and 4,500 people banned from entry to the northern third of the town. Regardless, rice farming has been allowed in decontaminated fields for more than two years. This year, 180 acres were planted with three popular rice varieties. The golden Ten no Tsubu and Kogane-mochi crops, covering 150 acres, are currently being reaped with combine harvesters. 30 acres of the Koshihikari variety will be reaped later this year. All bagged rice will be checked for radioactivity before being sent to market. http://www.fukushimaminponews.com/news.html?id=568

  • Tepco will install 20 more wastewater storage tanks at F. Daiichi. Each will hold 700 metric tons of liquid. This will bring the total storage capacity to about 965,000 tons. Currently, there is about 700,000 tons in storage, almost all of which has been run through the high-efficiency, multi-stage isotopic removal systems. If it were not for fear of the remaining, biologically-innocuous concentrations of Tritium, the waters would have already been released. But, fear of radiation among a numerically significant minority of Japan’s consumers, plus fear of losing further profits by Fukushima’s fisheries, has forced Tepco to keep the harmless waters in storage. A Ministry of Industry official justifies the continued storage by saying that the measures taken by Tepco may have “still unforeseeable” impacts. http://mainichi.jp/english/english/newsselect/news/20150929p2a00m0na011000c.html

  • Once again, Fukushima Prefecture tells Tepco they must reduce the release of radioactive rainwater run-off. Prolonged, heavy rainfalls occasionally overwhelm the drainage-diversion system used by Tepco to pump everything to the multi-barricaded inner port (quay). A drainage channel at F. Daiichi went around the heavily-contaminated areas and used to go directly to the sea. A radiation monitor on the channel began sporadically alarming last year showing mild, above-limits contamination. Tepco closed off the sea-side outlet and installed pumps to send the rainwater runoff to the quay. At least two typhoon-spawned torrential rainfalls caused brief overflowing of the channel and into the sea. Although there has been no detectible contamination outside the plant’s main break-wall, the incidents have made major headlines in Japan. Tepco has committed to, and is currently working on, a major restructuring of the channel, eventually sending all of its water directly to the quay. But, the Prefecture wants it done faster, with official Takao Kikori telling Tepco to speed up the work. Tepco says they will pump out rainwater further upstream and redirect it to other drains flowing into the port, once it determines the best place for the additional water removal. http://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/english/news/nuclear.html

  • Another Fukushima lawsuit is filed by government-mandated evacuees. 117 residents (32 households) of Namie have filed a suit against Tepco and Tokyo insisting on full decontamination of their district by March, 2020. The criteria for the decontamination is that no person will get more than one millisievert per year above natural background levels plus exposures for medical diagnostics and/or treatment. In addition, they have demanded a lump-sum of 6.5 billion yen (~$50 million) for damages, have each person’s metal anguish subsidy increased by 350% (100,000 yen/month to 350,000), and another $3 million yen each for unnecessary exposure due to Tokyo not immediately posting radioactive release predictions in mid-March of 2011. All claimants are from the Tsushima District of Namie, which is designated as a zone where residents will not be allowed home in the foreseeable future. The suit calls for another #3 million yen/resident if the decontamination criteria are not met by the March, 2020, deadline. All of this money is above and beyond the huge compensation payout’s they have been receiving since the spring of 2011. http://mainichi.jp/english/english/newsselect/news/20150930p2a00m0na015000c.html (For a running account of compensation payments since April, 2011, see http://www.hiroshimasyndrome.com/fukushima-evacuee-compensation-payments.html)

  • JAPC says the NRA’s judgement of a seismic fault under Tsuruga station is unfair and subjective. In May, 2013, the Nuclear Regulation Authority concluded that a geologic anomaly beneath Tsuruga unit #2 was an active seismic fault. Station owner Japan Atomic Power Company has filed a formal opinion paper with the NRA challenging the agency’s conclusion. Specific points include non-acceptance of submitted data, outside experts not being allowed to participate in the discussions, grounds and evidence for the NRA decision were not provided, and numerous scientific & technological problems that were not addressed. In December, 2014, the NRA stated that the 2013 evaluation was “important knowledge”. On September 25, JAPC asked the NRA to not “describe the panel’s evaluation as ‘important knowledge’ that would have a bearing on its examination to confirm whether the Tsuruga NPPs was compatible with the new regulatory standards.”  The request has not received a response. http://www.jaif.or.jp/en/japc-complains-to-nra-about-unfair-evaluation-that-tsuruga-nps-lies-above-fault-zone/

September 28, 2015

  • Emplacement of the steel sheet-piles for the F. Daiichi shoreline sea-wall is done. The wall will seal off all seepage of groundwater into the already-barricaded inner port (quay). The final nine piles have been hammered into the ground just off-shore, closing the last five percent of the wall. The entire shoreline surrounding damaged units #1 through #4 has been blocked off from the quay and outer port. Next, these piles will be interconnected to close leakage paths between the piles. This is expected to be finished by the end of October. The wall has been installed to address popular speculation that 300 tons of radioactive groundwater flows into the Pacific Ocean every day. The conjectures persisted even though there has been no detectible contamination in the ocean outside the outer break-wall for more than two years. The NRA and Tepco agreed the barrier should be built. Tepco’s Press handout on the milestone can be found here… http://www.tepco.co.jp/en/nu/fukushima-np/handouts/2015/images/handouts_150924_01-e.pdf (Comment - Once again, good news concerning Fukushima Daiichi has received no coverage by Japan’s popular Press, nor the mainstream news media outside Japan.)

  • A recent muon scan of unit #2 reactor vessel indicates little or no fuel remains in the core area. It seems at least 70% of the core melted and relocated elsewhere, and it might be 100%. Researchers from Nagoya University reported their conclusions at Saturday’s meeting of the Physical Society of Japan. The same team made their initial images public in March, indicating that unit #2 might have no fuel remaining in the core area. Subsequently Tepco and Tokyo said the equipment used was too insensitive to draw firm conclusions. Whether or not the new study used the same equipment as before is not reported, but the images posted on antinuclear sites indicate that it is the same device. The reactor vessel is scheduled to be scanned by the muon detection device that was used with unit #1 earlier this year, which was fabricated by Japan's High Energy Accelerator Research Organization (KEK) in collaboration with Los Alamos National Laboratory. http://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/english/news/nuclear.html -- http://ajw.asahi.com/article/0311disaster/fukushima/AJ201509270023

  • Fukushima Prefecture milk production will resume. Dairy products were banned from Japan’s marketplace following the Fukushima accident, and fierce rumors kept the business from restarting…until now. A stock farm with 580 dairy cattle opened in Fukushima City on Friday, and is expected to provide traction for future dairy businesses. The farm is being operated jointly by farmers from Minamisoma, Namie, and Iitate. They anticipate production of 5,000 tons of milk per year. Company president Kazumasa Tanaka said, "I have chosen to do this because of a sense of responsibility for the rebuilding of the dairy industry in Fukushima." http://jen.jiji.com/jc/eng?g=eco&k=2015092500872

  • Waste bags containing mildly-radioactive trash and debris will be moved to high ground. Last week, 439 filled bags were washed into rivers flowing through Iitate, Fukushima Prefecture, and another 340 in Nikko City. The incident was due to unprecedented torrential rains from a passing Typhoon, causing the rivers to flood and sweep away the bags. The Environment Ministry said many bags have been recovered, and with most of them torn open and empty. The Ministry will store rural debris bags on higher ground. Also, the bags will be formally registered with their location until they are moved to the future repository straddling the F. Daiichi host towns of Okuma and Futaba. In addition, Tokyo will have the rivers tested for radioactive isotopic concentrations. http://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/english/news/20150925_02.html

  • Tokyo says Tepco was warned of a massive millennial tsunami two years before 3/11/11. Geologic evidence of a gigantic tsunami was discovered in 2009. A company investigator told the now-defunct Tokyo nuclear safety agency, NISA, the tsunami would not exceed the 10 meter height of the plant above sea level. An agency official, Shigeki Namura, suggested that Tepco upgrade the barriers because seawater cooling pumps were only 4 meters above the sea. But the company replied they could not decide for themselves and needed consultation with the Japan Society of Civil Engineers. One Tepco official arrogantly asked Nagura “Do you think you can stop the reactors?” This flummoxed Nagura, who testified, “I wondered why I had to be told such a thing?”  He regretted that he didn’t press the issue and call for a budget increase to pay for an upgrade. Because of NISA’s lack of follow-up, Tepco felt that agency must have agreed to wait on the JSCE advisement was submitted. The disclosure is part of the newly-released transcripts of five testimonies given before the Diet’s Fukushima investigation committee (NAIIC) in 2011.  http://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/english/news/nuclear.html -- http://mainichi.jp/english/english/newsselect/news/20150926p2g00m0dm074000c.html

  • The restart of Tomari unit #3 is delayed. Hokkaido Electric President Akihiko Mayumi said, “I have to say that realistically it would be difficult to bring [any of] the reactors back into operation by the end of [March].” He said a new timeline would be developed by March. The cost of electricity has increased greatly due to the national nuclear moratorium following the Fukushima accident. Hokkaido had hoped that a Tomari restart would allow rate reductions. Mayumi said that despite the delayed Tomari restart “we hope to reduce out rates as soon as possible”. He declined to respond when asked if another rate increase might happen due to the delay. http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2015/09/24/national/hokkaido-electric-abandons-plan-reactor-restart-march-end/#.VgU9eZDosdV

  • A Japanese nuclear weapons adversary says 85% of the public does not trust nuclear energy.  Dr Tatsujiro Suzuki of the Research Center for Nuclear Weapons Abolition said public distrust is the root of the problem. He pointed out that there is now a widely held belief that Tokyo has not been transparent about nuclear energy and can’t be trusted. Suzuki claims nuclear cannot be a viable energy option until officials overcome public resistance. Further, the public feels that Japan has not experienced energy shortages due to the post-Fukushima nuclear moratorium, so there’s no compelling reason to restart reactors. He made his statement in Cape Town, South Africa at the University of the Western Cape. http://ewn.co.za/2015/09/22/Nuclear-expert-85-percent-of-Japanese-dont-trust-nuclear-energy

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