Fukushima 97...2/18/16-3/7/16

March 7, 2016

  • Rural decontamination is complete in more than half of the evacuation zone. Fukushima Prefecture has completed decontamination in six of the 11 municipalities inside the Tokyo-mandated exclusion zone. In addition, it has been finished in 11 of the 36 communities outside the zone. Outside Fukushima Prefecture, the work has been completed in 50 out of 58 communities. Decontamination of all locations is expected to be finished as early as next March. However, the Environment Ministry says that delays are possible because of public opposition to establishing temporary storage sites. http://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/en/news/20160306_15/

  • Tokyo finds setting a cap on evacuee compensation is difficult. The Special Committee on the Nuclear Damage Compensation System is studying whether or not there should be unlimited liability for nuke accidents. Some countries have limited liability, and others do not. All committee members feel that all evacuees must be fully compensated. However, it is difficult to clarify the scope of operator liability. Meiji University’s Kiyoshi Shimizu says the future of Japan’s nuclear businesses may riding on the committee’s decision, especially with Japan’s de-regulation the power retail market. Satoshi Onoda of the Federation of Electric Power Companies advocates limited liability, with the government covering compensation beyond the limit. http://www.jaif.or.jp/en/special-committee-on-the-nuclear-damage-compensation-system-finds-it-difficult-to-set-liability-cap/

  • Science Magazine posts a rather balanced Fukushima 5th anniversary article. It asks “is it safe to live near Fukushima”. While not providing a direct answer, some important information is provided. Perhaps the most significant point is Minamisoma Mayor Katsunobu Sakurai saying, “There has been no education regarding radiation. It’s difficult for many people to make the decision to return without knowing what these radiation levels mean and what is safe.” (Aside – As our regular readers surely know, this has been a continually emphasized by this writer. – End aside) Over-all, the article is well-written, contains few appeals to uncertainty, and (unlike nearly all 5th anniversary articles elsewhere) is unafraid to cite appropriately knowledgeable experts. It even mentions the recent study by Fukushima high school students showing they get no more radiation than the average European student. http://www.sciencemag.org/news/2016/03/five-years-after-meltdown-it-safe-live-near-fukushima?utm_source=sciencemagazine&utm_medium=facebook-text&utm_campaign=fukushimafeature-2703

  • Science Magazine also posted an overview on the Fukushima child thyroid issue. It says the apparently large number of thyroid anomalies detected since the nuke accident, is not unusual for Japan, in general. Using state-of-the-art ultrasound, researchers are finding the rate of anomalies with Fukushima children is not demonstrably different from the rest of the country. T Science also notes that a similar upsurge in the rate of detected anomalies occurred in South Korea 15 years ago, after the use of then-new ultrasound detection was used to screen patients. Seiji Yasumura, vice director of the Fukushima Prefecture Health Management Survey, says the upsurge in detected anomalies is not something to get upset about, but “finding small lesions causes patients anxiety.” He laments that it has caused over-reaction, resulting in Fukushima children having their thyroids surgically removed. Yasumura feels that “careful observation” would have been the better option. http://www.sciencemag.org/news/2016/03/mystery-cancers-are-cropping-children-aftermath-fukushima

  • The recent NRA finding of a “seismic” seam under Shika unit #1 is challenged. Hokuriku Electric, owner of the nuke station, says “it [the NRA finding] is far from convincing” and wants a “compatibility examination” to be run as soon as possible. The company believes that the Shika units all meet Japan’s new regulations and should not be barred from starting. Hokuriku added that if data obtained from its investigations were examined by the NRA, it would conclude that the geologic seam in question is not one “that could possibly become an active fault in the future.” http://www.jaif.or.jp/en/hokuriku-electric-power-voices-objections-to-report-on-crushed-rock-fault-zones-at-shika-npps/

  • Tokyo says 3,400 Miyagi, Iwate and Fukushima Prefecture disaster survivors have died due to prolonged personal disruption. As of last September, the Reconstruction Agency had documented 3.407 disaster-related deaths; more than half in Fukushima. In addition, the agency reported that as of February 12th, nearly 175,000 quake/tsunami refugees remain displaced from their former homes, with over 156,000 in prefabricated temporary housing or apartments rented by the government. Further, more than 43,000 former Fukushima residents now live in other prefectures. http://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/en/news/20160305_20/

  • The international antinuclear “5th anniversary” crusade keeps rolling. The Asahi Shimbun, Japan’s second-largest and perhaps most antinuclear popular Press outlet, reports that nearly 2/3 of Fukushima Prefecture believes “recovery [is] not in sight”. Of course, the percentage of doubters is high, but the fact that this most recent poll shows that attitudes for a small fraction are getting better is barely mentioned. On the other hand, the highly negative responses get heavy focus. For example, the poll shows that 77% disapprove of reactor restarts, which is much higher than the Asahi’s national poll showing 54% disapproval. Next, we have the Japan Times that gives free publicity to Greenpeace’s dire predictions concerning Fukushima’s forests. For example – “Greenpeace said signs of mutations in trees and DNA-damaged worms were beginning to appear, while ‘vast stocks of radiation’ mean that forests cannot be decontaminated. This is immediately followed by citing three pseudo-scientific reports claiming Fukushima-caused mutations in fir trees, butterflies, and worms. But, Greenpeace claims “most of the findings in [them] have never been covered outside of the close circles of academia,” - a clear appeal to those who blindly swallow conspiracy theories. Greenpeace antinuclear writer Kendra Ulrich is quoted as saying that Tokyo and the IAEA are spouting “misleading rhetoric” that Greenpeace counters with “accurate and complete information”. http://ajw.asahi.com/article/0311disaster/recovery/AJ201603040061 -- http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2016/03/04/national/science-health/mutations-dna-damage-seen-fukushima-forests-greenpeace/#.VtmJEZBf0dU

  • More international Press reports on the future trial of three Tepco executives. It seems the Press will go to extremes for new copy, citing impressive-sounding, albeit previously unheard-of sources. Case in point… CNN… citing Miwa Chiwaki, head of the Fukushima Complaints Criminal Prosecution of the Fukushima Nuclear Disaster group, said, “No one took responsibility although an irrevocable nuclear accident happened. Victims were spared and nuclear plant restart has been promoted in this irresponsible society. Clarifying the criminal responsibility of those who caused the accident will lead us to prevent the same tragedy from happening again and create a society to live without fear of death and threat to our health.” (Aside – I’ve Googled and Googled, and can’t find anything about this group. I can’t even find a website for them. CNN has given this person instant credibility, however. Don’t be surprised to see this name again. – End aside) Then there’s Greenpeace Japan talking head Hisayo Takada, who is cited in The Diplomat, “The court proceedings that will now follow should reveal the true extent of TEPCO’s and the Japanese regulatory system’s enormous failure to protect the people of Japan.” http://www.cnn.com/2016/02/29/asia/tepco-bosses-indicted-fukushima/ -- http://thediplomat.com/2016/03/3-tepco-execs-to-face-trial-for-fukushima-nuclear-disaster/

March 3, 2016

  • Washington Post says we can rest easy about Pacific seafood. The Post article summarizes a report published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences in late January. Lead author of the PNAS report, Hiroshi Okamura, said Fukushima-contaminated foods get the public’s attention which causes “Some people cry not to eat seafoods and other people argue many foods are not dangerous.” This is due to conflicting reports based on virtually the same scientific data. Thus, the lay public does not know who or what to believe. Further, most analyzed biological species have no detectible contamination, but to some this doesn’t guarantee the levels are zero. Thus, the PNAS report researchers “were careful not to say whether seafoods are safe or dangerous while writing our paper,” but rather post the probability a contamination for each species of biota and let the public decide the level of relative safety in each case. However, the report does say the risk of contamination of seafood is tiny and will probably never reach a concentration that exceeds Japan’s ridiculously low limits. It should be mentioned that the PNAS report includes the following sidebar, “Quantification of contamination risk caused by radioisotopes released from the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant is useful for excluding or reducing groundless rumors about food safety. Our new statistical approach made it possible to evaluate the risk for aquatic food and showed that the present contamination levels of radiocesiums are low overall.”  https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/energy-environment/wp/2016/02/29/with-fukushimas-fifth-anniversary-approaching-we-can-probably-start-to-relax-about-radioactive-seafood/ -- http://www.pnas.org/content/early/2016/02/23/1519792113.full.pdf 

  • F. Daiichi “fencepost” exposure will drop below the target level by April 1st. Tepco calculated the approximate date when the exposure level at the station boundary would dip below the one millisievert per year goal. It seems that this “fencepost dose” will be at about 0.96 mSv/yr by March 31st. Tepco made this announcement on February 25th, but none of the Japanese Press mentioned it. Only Fukushima Minpo, the weekly newspaper circulated primarily within the prefecture, has posted it. http://www.fukushimaminponews.com/news.html?id=636

  • Tepco’s “ice wall” is approved for operation… in part. The Nuclear Regulation Authority has been dragging its feet on issuing the formal go-ahead based on concerns that sudden changes in groundwater level might cause a radiological emergency. The first stage of the plan - freezing the soil down to 30 meters on the seaward side of the four damaged units – has been approved in-principle by the NRA. It seems each stage of Tepco’s plan to freeze the earth around the entirety of units #1 through #4 must receive individual approval before implementation. http://jen.jiji.com/jc/eng?g=eco&k=2016030300685  

  • Lawson’s has opened its convenience store at F. Daiichi. The ~650 ft2 store is located on the second floor of the spacious F. Daiichi worker rest facility. It will offer hot and cold drinks, rice balls, sandwiches, dessert pastries, ice cream, pre-packaged boxed meals, and some personal necessities like underwear. Lawson’s says they will expand the fare depending on worker’s requests. The store will be open Monday through Saturday, 6am to 7pm. Plant workers wanted a convenience store on-site because the nearest one to F. Daiichi was more than 10 kilometers away. Plant Manager Akira Ono said, “…milestones like this are especially important. They reward our workers for the progress they are making, and they reassure the public that things are steadily improving." http://www.tepco.co.jp/en/press/corp-com/release/2016/1268295_7763.html -- http://the-japan-news.com/news/article/0002783619 -- http://mainichi.jp/english/articles/20160302/p2a/00m/0na/005000cm -- http://jen.jiji.com/jc/eng?g=eco&k=2016030101028  (Comment – Unlike the vast majority of “good news” items being ignored by the clearly-antinuclear Japanese Press, this one was widely disseminated.)

  • The Takahama #4 SCRAM was probably caused by an electrical current fluctuation. The plant’s turbine generator had just begun producing the first trickle of electricity, when the current fluctuation occurred and tripped the automatic shutdown circuitry. Whether the power fluctuation actually occurred or the detection device malfunctioned, is being investigated. Other monitoring devices, in parallel with the one causing the shutdown, were not triggered. Kansai Electric Co. says they will not restart unit #4 until the cause of the problem is fully understood and reported to the Nuclear Regulation Authority. The unit was brought into cold shutdown today (Thursday). http://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/en/news/20160301_08/ -- http://english.kyodonews.jp/news/2016/03/399990.html -- http://english.kyodonews.jp/news/2016/03/400235.html

  • The head of the NRA blasts Tepco and Kansai Electric. Chairman Shunichi Tanaka slammed Tepco over their recent report of the meltdown criterion in their corporate emergency manual being overlooked during the first two months after the onset of the nuke accident. Tanaka said, "It represents the corporate culture of TEPCO that has remained unchanged since before the nuclear accident.” He explained that it took five years for Tepco’s home office to discover the error, which shows the company has learned little from the accident. At the same Press conference, Tanaka also blasted Kansai Electric Company over the recent SCRAM caused by a current surge in the generator output during startup of Takahama unit #4, "I had told the utility that being free from any trouble would lead to regaining public confidence. The accident has betrayed such expectations…” http://mainichi.jp/english/articles/20160303/p2a/00m/0na/008000c

  • The Japanese Press claims that restarts have been “too hasty”. Opportunistic news media and antinuclear activists are using essentially minor mishaps associated with one Sendai unit and the Takahama #4 plant to make this speculation. Jiji Press says, “…concerns have grown that the country's atomic authorities and power suppliers have been too hasty in putting idled reactors back into operation.” Hideyuki Ban of Tokyo’s antinuclear Citizens’ Nuclear Information Center said, “Kansai Electric was so hasty in resuming nuclear power generation that it skipped thorough inspections of the reactor before its restart.” Ban added that a complete overhaul of all nuclear facilities is “absolutely necessary”. In addition, he alleged that the NRA is incompetent because it failed “to look closely at [the] facilities and equipment.”  http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2016/03/01/national/science-health/japan-hit-hasty-bid-restart-reactors-problems-safety-fears-surge/#.VtWEgpBf0dV -- http://ajw.asahi.com/article/behind_news/social_affairs/AJ201603010066 -- http://jen.jiji.com/jc/eng?g=eco&k=2016022900941

  • The NRA seems prepared to stop Shika unit #1 restart over a seismic issue. The investigative panel says it is possible that a geological seam under unit #1 may have moved between 120,000 and 130,000 years ago, which qualifies as “active” under Japan’s new nuke regulations. Owner Hokuriku Electric Co. says the NRA is wrong and will submit a restart application, nonetheless. Two other geological seams are quite deep and run under unit #2, which has been submitted for restart by the utility. Seismic upgrades could further delay restart of Shika unit #2. http://the-japan-news.com/news/article/0002787506 -- http://jen.jiji.com/jc/eng?g=eco&k=2016030300667

  • Tokyo protestors claim Tokyo is ignoring the opinions and safety concerns about Fukushima radiation.  Nearly 800 people gathered at Hibiya Park on Wednesday to vent their anger over opening portions of the old exclusion zone for repopulation. The demonstration was organized by the new Fukushima plaintiffs group, called Hidanren. They were joined by Fukushima evacuees who have relocated to Tokyo. Before the rally, the Hidanren submitted a letter addressed to PM Shinzo Abe demanding a retraction of all policies that “abandon nuclear victims”. This was directed at last year’s announcement of Tokyo cutting off subsidies to voluntary evacuees who fled only because they fear low level radiation. Hinanren spokesperson Kenichi Hasegawa said, “I felt outrage. Let’s raise our voices and stand up against them together.” Voluntary evacuee Miyako Kumamoto said, “It is wrong for the central government to say ‘return home’… even though its own declaration of an emergency situation for the nuclear accident remains in place.” She added that the levels of radiation around her home in Tamura would have her living in fear if she returned. Thus, when her free rent ends in 2017, Miyako says she will be forced to wander the streets of Tokyo. http://ajw.asahi.com/article/0311disaster/fukushima/AJ201603030058

February 29, 2016

  • The latest Fukushima information on child thyroid cancers. Fukushima Minpo emphasizes that the February 15th release of current FMU results shows that one new cancer diagnosis was found since the last data release on September 30th. This brings the grand total since the program began in 2011, to 116. Hokuto Hoshi, who chairs the Fukushima Health Committee, reiterated that radiation exposure from the nuclear disaster is “unlikely to have caused any direct effect” on the local incidence of thyroid cancer. In addition, the committee announced that the rate of Fukushima’s babies born with congenital defects was 2.3%; significantly less than the 3-5% rate considered typical across Japan. http://www.fukushimaminponews.com/news.html?id=632

  • Takahama unit #4 restarted on Friday, and SCRAMed on Monday. The automatic shutdown occurred due to a problem in the unit’s electrical generator just as the first trickle of power was about to be produced. The incident posed no safety problem with the reactor or release of radioactivity. Regardless, the Japanese Press’ unbridled fixation on MOX fuel continued. Over the weekend, all of the major Japanese news outlets made sure to mention that the unit is running on Mixed Oxide fuel (recycled), although only four of the 157 bundles in the core are MOX! Meanwhile, Takahama unit #3’s full commercial operation, announced 37 minutes before unit #3 start-up, was largely ignored. http://the-japan-news.com/news/article/0002775073 -- http://jen.jiji.com/jc/eng?g=eco&k=2016022900677 -- http://english.kyodonews.jp/news/2016/02/399513.html

  • Two British Columbia newspapers report the “no Fukushima radiation” announcement we covered February 25th. The BC edition of the national Globe and Mail cites Fukushima InFORM’s Jay Cullen extensively. One quote is most definitive, “Because no c-134 was detected in these fish, it is not possible to say whether detectable cesium-137 can be attributed to Fukushima contamination.”  He adds that the detectible levels of the isotope in off-shore seawater is not hazardous, “It’s thousands of times below the maximum allowable [level] of cesium in our drinking water. It’s still a very trace level. In order for us to detect it, we have to use the most sensitive techniques that we have.” The Vancouver Sun posts another Cullen quote, "While we expect the contamination in fish to increase ... we don't expect those levels to approach levels that will be a danger to human health." http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/british-columbia/radiation-from-fukushima-nuclear-disaster-not-found-in-bc-salmon/article28846578/ -- http://www.vancouversun.com/news/radiation+from+japan+fukushima+disaster+found+fish/11737813/story.html (Comment - These are the only two news reports we have found on the InFORM announcement. The Popular Press inside and outside Japan obviously do not find it to be “newsworthy”.)

  • Jay Cullen, head of Fukushima InFORM spoke at Bucknell University on February 18th. He explained Fukushima InFORM, the group’s findings, and his experiences with conspiracy theorists. Cullen stated the reason for creating Fukushima InFORM, “The measurements that [the Canadian government] were taking and the monitoring they were doing was very good, but the outreach and communication were very poor.” After focusing on the levels of Fukushima contamination his group has found (or rather, the lack of it), he addressed the problems created by conspiracy theorists, which he has personally experienced. Cullen believes these people generally reject scientific data, have limited scientific literacy, and distrust their government. He added, “Many people don’t understand what radioactivity is … or how it happens … they don’t understand what academics do, how we’re compensated, how we spend our time.” Regardless, Cullen says the job of getting scientific understanding correct data into the mainstream of the public is critically important, “No matter what topic you’re working on, communicating with the public is fundamentally important … our duty as scientists is to communicate the results of research in a way that is useful and improves understanding.” http://bucknellian.net/61399/news/visiting-professor-discusses-radiation-communication-and-conspiracy/

  • A Fukushima medical team finds no internal exposures greater than 1 millisievert per year. The study was run by Jyoban Hospital’s Tokawakai Group in Iwaki City. Hospital head Hiroaki Shinmura, group adviser Shigeaki Kato, and Masaharu Tsubokura of Minamisoma Municipal General Hospital, presented their findings at a February 15th Press conference. Dr. Shinmura reported that the probability of negative health effects from this miniscule level of exposure is “extremely low”. http://www.fukushimaminponews.com/news.html?id=633 (Comment – Once again, Fukushima Minpo is the only news outlet in Japan to report this good news. Minpo is only circulated in Fukushima Prefecture.)

  • Japan’s largest newspaper says Japan’s 40-year licensing limit is “nonscientific”. The Yomiuri Shimbun says, “The rule that permits reactors to operate for no more than 40 years since they started has no scientific basis. The nuclear reactor regulation law should be reviewed again.” The newspaper also points out that the Mihama unit #3 will pass the 40-year limit in November, and the Nuclear Regulation Authority is literally scrambling to process owner Kansai Electric’s submittal for a licensing extension. The Yomiuri added that the review of license extensions, in addition to all other restart requirements, has stretched the NRA’s staff to its limit. If only the relative safety of the middle-aged units being judged, the licensing reviews would take no longer than those for restart. But, that is not the case because of Japan’s arbitrary 40-year operating rule. The Yomiuri argues that the extension of licensing should occur once the safety nukes is confirmed. http://the-japan-news.com/news/article/0002771643

  • Photos of terrible “radiation effects” on Pacific Ocean sea life are false. Snopes.com, a popular site for debunking urban legends, has posted an expose’ on the deceitful practice of finding frightening pictures of sick and diseased Pacific wildlife and blaming them on the nuke accident. The main focus of the posting is a devious piece published by Superstation 95 last October. Snopes says it “…used half-truths, misleading statistics, and unrelated photos in order to convince its readers that they had been ingesting radioactive seafood.” The Superstation 95 photos have been used recently by fear-mongering fanatics on social media sites to supplement negative Fukushima 5th anniversary reports.  Most of the pictures were actually taken years before the nuke accident happened. http://www.snopes.com/fukushima-radiation-marine-photos/

  • Three ex-Tepco executives have been indicted for the nuke accident. Court-appointed lawyers in Tokyo accused Tsunehisa Katsumata, Sakae Muto, and Ichiro Takekuro as being professionally negligent. They allegedly ignored evidence which showed a tsunami that would engulf F. Daiichi was predictable enough to upgrade safety measures. The indictment says their disregard supposedly caused the deaths of more than a dozen elderly patients during the evacuation of a Futaba hospital. The case was originally heard by Tokyo prosecutors in 2013, and charges were dropped because prosecutors said the tsunami could not have been foreseen. However, a panel of citizens voted to indict them last July. Trials are not expected to begin before the end of the year. The main point of contention in the trial concerns whether or not a 2008 prediction of the massive tsunami was enough to make Tepco upgrade protective measures.  http://the-japan-news.com/news/article/0002780607 -- http://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/en/news/20160226_23/

  • Former PM Noto Kan goes to sea with Greenpeace. As the group’s flagship, Rainbow Warrior, set to sea, former PM Kan was part of the crew. Before embarking, he said, “I once believed Japan’s advanced technology would prevent a nuclear accident like Chernobyl from happening in Japan. But it did not, and I was faced with the very real crisis of having to evacuate about 50 million people at risk from the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear accident. I have since changed my mind. We do not need to take such a big risk. Instead we should shift to safer and cheaper renewable energy with potential business opportunities for our future generations.” Shaun Burnie of Greenpeace Germany explains the reason for the excursion, “There is an urgent need to understand the impacts this contamination is having on the ocean, how radioactivity is both dispersing and concentrating and its implications. TEPCO failed to prevent a multiple reactor meltdown, and five years later it’s still an ongoing disaster. It has no credible solution to the water crisis they created and is failing to prevent the further contamination of the Pacific Ocean.” This is the 25th sea-going investigation by Greenpeace since March 2011. http://peakoil.com/enviroment/greenpeace-surveys-fukushima

February 25, 2016

  • No Fukushima contamination is found in Canadian salmon and steelhead trout. Fukushima InFORM has completed highly-sensitive analyses on 156 fish caught off the west coast of Canada last summer. Cesium-137 was detected in only seven of the fish, but this was the result of post-WWII nuclear weapons testing in the South Pacific. No Cs-134, the “marker” for F. Daiichi contamination, was detected. The seven fish with Cs-137 had levels much less than one Becquerel per kilogram. The data produced in 2015 almost exactly parallels what was found in 2014 by the Victoria University-based research group. InFORM concludes, “What this means is that radioactivity from the Fukushima meltdowns has not been detected in the InFORM fish samples caught in BC waters as of summer 2015.” It should be noted that the fish species tested are an important food source to First Nation Canadians and numerous animal species. Commercial, recreational, and First Nation salmon fisheries produce about $600 million in revenues, last year. http://fukushimainform.ca/2016/02/23/update-inform-monitoring-results-for-pacific-salmon-collected-summer-2015/

  • Tepco will soon relax protective gear requirements for 90% of F. Daiichi station. The tentative start of the process will be early March. This means workers will no longer need to wear protective clothing or gloves, making their tasks much easier to perform. This does not mean that all workers in the designated areas will immediately stop using protective clothing. The new policy will be executed in stages. Currently, workers must don full anti-contamination gear and two pairs of gloves for most jobs. Decontamination work, including paving-over much of the outer surfaces, is cited as the main reason for the change. Areas inside and adjacent to the damaged units’ buildings, and tanks containing highly radioactive waters, will continue to require full anti-Cs. http://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/en/news/20160225_02/

  • Lawson’s will be opening a convenience store at F. Daiichi. Tepco had asked major convenience store companies to do this as part of the effort to improve conditions for the workers, who regularly number more than 7,000 per day. Lawson built a “rest house” near the station’s front gate last year. Beginning March 1st, regular groceries may be purchased in-store, but not alcoholic beverages or prepared foods, such as fried chicken.  http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2016/02/24/business/lawson-open-store-crippled-fukushima-no-1-nuclear-plant/#.Vs32pJBf0dV

  • The Fukushima governor is dismayed by South Korea’s food ban. Governor Masao Uchibori had planned an event in Seoul this weekend to promote Tohoku food exports. But, the Foreign Ministry cancelled the trip because they could not get approval from authorities in Seoul due to radiation fears. At a Tokyo new conference, Uchibori said, “I’m dismayed by this…I know that it will take time to eliminate the unfavorable reputation in other countries.” Seoul says the inability to give permission for the event is because foodstuffs are not allowed to be imported from Fukushima, Miyagi, and Aomori Prefectures, and the event would violate the rule. http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2016/02/23/national/fukushima-governor-disappointed-seoul-event-cancellation/#.VsxVBZBf0dV -- http://english.kyodonews.jp/news/2016/02/398833.html

  • Tepco says they should have declared meltdown’s at F. Daiichi on March 14, 2011. A Tepco official said, "We could have concluded as of March 14 that core meltdown occurred [with units #1&#3].” Their formal declaration did not occur until May, 2011, spurring widespread allegations of cover-up. The company’s internal operations manual stipulated that confirmation of 5% core damage constitutes a meltdown. The criterion was overlooked in the chaos following the onset of the accident. It was March 14th when key sensors on the two reactors were repowered. At that point, 55% core damage for unit #1 and 30% for unit #3 were indicated. The recent discovery was because a Niigata governmental panel asked Tepco to look through its operation’s manuals. During this review, the 5% core-damage criterion was discovered. Niigata Governor Hirohiko Izumida said “it is highly regrettable” that the disclosure of meltdowns was not disclosed sooner, and said Tepco must have known the definition all-along. Tepco wants to restart some of the seven units at Kashiwazaki-Kariwa station in Niigata Prefecture, but this admission could hurt their chances. The company says they will begin a full in-house investigation on the issue. http://asia.nikkei.com/Business/Companies/TEPCO-could-have-determined-core-meltdown-at-Fukushima-plant-earlier -- http://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/en/news/20160224_33/

  • Takahama units #1&2 have their operating licenses extended, in principle. These are the only Japanese nukes to have been screened for extensions before the July 7, 2016, deadline. The Nuclear Regulation Authority decision on the matter came after eleven months of deliberation. The amended Law on the Regulation of Nuclear Source Material, Nuclear Fuel Material and Reactors stipulates that units more than 40 years old may be granted one 20-year extension as long as they meet the post-Fukushima regulations. For the next 30 days, the NRA will accept public comment on their decision, adding any revisions to the draft declaration that are deemed necessary by the agency. When Kansai Electric submitted for the extensions last March, the NRA prioritized them in order to be able to meet the regulatory deadline. http://the-japan-news.com/news/article/0002769634

  • Takahama unit #4 will be restarted on Friday. Kansai Electric Company says the first sequential withdrawal of 32 control rods will begin at 5pm (Japan time), and initial criticality should be attained at 6am Saturday. The first trickle of electrical generation is anticipated for Monday, and commercial operation declared by the end of March. In addition, Takahama unit #3 is expected to declare commercial operation on Friday afternoon, before the start-up process begins on unit #4. http://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/en/news/20160225_35/ -- http://jen.jiji.com/jc/eng?g=eco

  • The Mainichi Shimbun says the Takahama license extensions are a “brushing aside” the 40-year rule. In fact, the popular Tokyo-based newspaper says, “The 40-year rule appears destined to be watered down”. Time-worn allegations of the NRA moving too fast and showing lack of appropriate caution, fill two editorials. The Mainichi infers the reason behind the extension is Tokyo’s desire to eventually have 20% of the nation’s electricity from nukes. The Mainichi says that the 40-year rule was based on “precedents in the United States”, which is misleading. In almost all cases, US units that have reached the 40-year initial licensing point have been renewed for 20 more years, and several have even been granted a second 20-year extension. In America, scrapping a nuke after 40 years is the exception, and not the rule. http://mainichi.jp/english/articles/20160224/p2a/00m/0na/017000c -- http://mainichi.jp/english/articles/20160225/p2a/00m/0na/017000c

  • Some voluntary evacuee mothers are paying the price for their radiophobia. A woman who fled from Tamura with her two children is being divorced by her husband because she refuses to return to their home. The woman says she “could not trust the data released by the central government. I believed I could protect the health of my children. But my family has collapsed.” Another mother who moved to Koriyama from the Fukushima coast refuses to let her daughter eat school-provided foods because much of it is produced in the prefecture. She is not alone. A Chukyo University researcher found that some 30% of mothers in Fukushima Prefecture avoid Fukushima-produced foods. The constantly-lowering radiation levels over the past five years make no difference. http://ajw.asahi.com/article/0311disaster/fukushima/AJ201602230068

February 22, 2016

  • UNSCEAR finds no rise in cancer from the Fukushima accident. The prestigious United Nations Scientific Committee on the Effects of Atomic Radiation briefed Fukushima Prefecture residents at an Iwaki city meeting on Feb. 9th. UNSCEAR secretary Malcolm Crick and two other expert members said that their 2013 finding of “no discernable increase” in cancer still holds true, and the “none” of the new information since then have changed their conclusion. Many attendees wanted to know about thyroid cancer issues, to which the UNSCEAR representatives said the proportion of those found to have thyroid cancer in Fukushima Prefecture is equal to that found in three other prefectures far from Fukushima; Aomori, Yamanashi, and Nagasaki. http://www.fukushimaminponews.com/news.html?id=629

  • Japan's Press was in an uproar over some water (34 liters) found on the floor of a water clean-up system room at Takahama unit #4. Tepco has found that the leak was due to an improperly-tightened bolt on a valve. Start-up activities were temporarily halt after the discovery on Saturday, but will resume at some point today now that the cause has been identified. The concentration of radioactivity was below the level which requires notifying the Nuclear Regulation Authority. The reported level of radioactivity in the water varies among the Press outlets. NHK World says the radioactivity in the leaked water was "14,000 Becquerels”. However, the Asahi Shimbun says the level is 60,000 Becquerels. Whether or not it will delay the schedule for restart of unit #4 is largely speculative, but reports of an impending delay have gained traction in the Japanese Press. A Kansai Electric Co. spokesperson said, “We cannot say anything about the effect of the leak on the restart definitively at this point...” Takahama #4 has cleared restart approval from the Nuclear Regulation Authority and is preparing for resumption by the end of the month. http://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/en/news/20160221_05/  -- http://mainichi.jp/english/articles/20160222/p2g/00m/0dm/072000c --  http://jen.jiji.com/jc/eng?g=eco&k=2016022100112  -- http://ajw.asahi.com/article/behind_news/social_affairs/AJ201602210028

  • Tokyo plans to lift the Minamisoma evacuation order by May 1. However, only about 15% of the 10,000 resident evacuees are expected to immediately repopulate. The main reason given in the Press for the low expected response is continuing fear of low level radiation exposure. Tokyo representatives met with Minamisoma officials and ~350 residents on Friday to explain how radiation levels have dropped well-below the threshold for repopulation. But, the Mayor and a few vocal residents do not agree with the planned date. Mayor Katsunobu Sakurai said, "I will decide whether to accept the central government's plan once the municipal government confirms the completion of decontamination work." He added that he is looking at waiting to formally repopulate until after the “Golden Week” holiday in early May because it will take time to gain resident understanding, given the level of negativity voiced by those at the meeting. One resident said, "I don't think I can live in my hometown with peace of mind," because of a lack of confidence in the government’s decontamination efforts. http://mainichi.jp/english/articles/20160220/p2a/00m/0na/021000c -- http://jen.jiji.com/jc/eng?g=eco&k=2016022000237

  • The Asahi Shimbun feels voluntary evacuees deserve more compensation money. Last week’s award of substantial compensation to a Koriyama family that fled out of fear of radiation is the basis of the Asahi position. Rather than the blanket payments mandated by Tokyo, the newspaper feels that each voluntary evacuee should be compensated based on individual, post-flight circumstances. Tepco has paid-out the amounts of money stipulated by Tokyo, but the Asahi says this fails to make the benefit of residents a priority. The newspaper concludes, “TEPCO should respond with appropriate sincerity to the demands of victims entitled to compensation and review its compensation policy and procedures. The courts that are hearing these cases should hand down rulings that give sufficient consideration to the plight of the victims. http://ajw.asahi.com/article/views/editorial/AJ201602200024

  • Lawyer’s urge all voluntary evacuees to file lawsuits for compensation. Lawyer Kenichi Ido represented the family that was awarded more than $250,000 last week for mental health damages from their voluntary evacuation from Koriyama. Ido said, ''It's a commendable ruling in that it accepted our key arguments. There are many voluntary evacuees who have been compelled to settle for small amounts of compensation by TEPCO. They should file suit individually.'' Daini Tokyo Bar Association lawyer Naoto Akiyama also praised the decision as ''a ruling which offers hope to evacuees who moved voluntarily, reflecting individual circumstances without being bound to the standards.'' Akiko Morimatsu of the fledgling Fukushima plaintiff’s group said the ruling is “epoch-making” and that more voluntary evacuees should file suits. However, the ruling’s limitation of a voluntary evacuation having to have occurred before August, 2012, brought Morimatsu’s ire, ''It's wrong because it's based on government propaganda.'' http://mainichi.jp/english/articles/20160219/p2a/00m/0na/012000c (Comment - Japanese lawyers continue chasing the Fukushima ambulance.)

  • A Nuclear Regulation Authority commissioner says removal of all F. Daiichi fuel debris might not be possible. NRA Commissioner Toyoshi Fuketa told the Press, “I wonder if the situation would be desired that work is still underway to extract fuel debris 70 or 80 years after. There are a variety of options, including removing as much fuel debris as possible and solidifying the rest.” On another note… when asked about the recent Ice Wall controversy, Fuketa said he questions whether the technology will actually prove effective. http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2016/02/20/national/nra-commissioner-suggests-plan-remove-fuel-debris-fukushima-plant-may-not-best-option/#.VshvSpBf0dV -- http://english.kyodonews.jp/news/2016/02/398499.html  (Comment – These are not the first antinuclear-friendly statements made by Taketa since he became commissioner. For example, in October, 2013, he speculated that radioactive material from the melted cores may be leaking directly into the sea instead of mixing with groundwater before making its way into the sea,” which was entirely speculative and based primarily on a personal worst-case assumption. His questionable statements hold considerable weight with the international antinuclear demographic. His “message” posted on the NRA homepage reveals a possibly antinuclear agenda, “One of my prime responsibilities in the Nuclear Regulation Authority is to access the degree of risk existing in nuclear-related activities by using the state-of-the-art knowledge, technology and information, and to establish regulatory criteria and structures to cope effectively with the potential danger. I will carry out my duties always with considering how much of potential danger I have recognized.” (Emphasis added) It makes this reporter wonder if Taketa is not part-and-parcel to the Greg Jaczko concept of antinuclear-based regulation.)

  • Scientific American posts abject scare-mongering about Fukushima. Writer Madhusree Mukerjee has put together a terse summation of the most recent FUD written by antinuclear pundits Mycle Schneider and Jan Beyea. The posting is little more than exaggeration wrapped in assumption, with a slathering of outright fabrication. Perhaps the most condemnable parts of the article are the pure assumption of 1,000 deaths from cancers, and the materially-false statement that there have been 3,200 deaths due to the evacuation. http://www.scientificamerican.com/article/5-years-later-the-fukushima-nuclear-disaster-site-continues-to-spill-waste/

February 18, 2016

  • The amount of rural radioactive wastes in Miyagi has dropped 68%. This is the low level material with an activity of at least 8,000 Becquerels per kilogram, formally dubbed “designated”. Of the 3,404 tons now in scattered location across the prefecture, 2,314 tons had decayed down to below the “designated” criterion. The Environment Ministry says the quantity will drop to 252 tons in 2 years and 38 tons in 20 years; ~1 % of the initial amount. The ministry has shared this information with Governor Yoshihiro Murai. Minister Shinji Inoue wants to concentrate the materials at one location, but zealous locals have blocked every attempt to run preliminary studies at the three possible candidate sites. The ministry feels that the below-designated materials should be disposed of as regular wastes. The prefecture says they will discuss the proposal with the target communities by the end of March. http://mainichi.jp/english/articles/20160217/p2a/00m/0na/021000c -- http://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/english/news/20160218_02.html

  • Fukushima, Hiroshima, and Nagasaki Universities to jointly study the effects of low level radiation exposure. A joint research center will be established in Hiroshima in April. Mitsuo Ochi, president of Hiroshima University, said, “The study of low-level radiation exposure is growing urgent. We would like to fulfill our mission to contribute to Fukushima’s rebuilding efforts based on the results of basic research conducted by our university.” Teams will investigate ten regions across Japan to assess the impact of low-level exposures on patients, methods to diagnose internal radiation exposure, treatments of patients, radiation protective agents, and possible correlations between diseases and radiation doses. The collaboration will also offer training to health care professionals and any Fukushima workers who desire it. http://ajw.asahi.com/article/0311disaster/fukushima/AJ201602180036 (Comment - Hopefully this study will focus on the actual effects of low level exposure, and not dwell on the hypothetical impacts predicted by the scientifically-corrupt Linear/No Threshold assumption.)

  • The antinuclear fanatic who landed a drone on the Prime Minister’s mansion gets a two year sentence. Yasuo Yamamoto had filled a small bottle with sand from a Fukushima beach, attached it to the drone, and landed it on the PM’s roof last April, in protest of Japan’s intent to restart nukes. Yamamoto admitted the deed, but pled not guilty because he did not obstruct the routine operation of the Prime Minister’s staff. Judge Mihoko Tanabe said, “No matter what kind of assertions he wants to make, it has to be done through legitimate means of expression,” and that it did, in fact, obstruct official operations. http://www.japantoday.com/category/crime/view/man-who-flew-drone-onto-pms-office-roof-gets-suspended-sentence?utm_campaign=jt_newsletter&utm_medium=email&utm_source=jt_newsletter_2016-02-17_AM

  • The estimated total debris at F. Daiichi could reach 750,000 cubic meters. Tepco informed the Nuclear Regulation Authority of their estimate, based on continuing trends and circumstances. The number was part of a storage maintenance plan submitted on February 12th. Some 150,000 m3 will result from debris generated by contaminated water measures, including the eventual dismantling of storage tanks. The operation of the new incinerators (14.4 tons/day), plus the one planned for 2020 (95 tons/day), will produce roughly 200,000 m3 of ash and debris from burning hewn trees and anti-contamination clothing. http://www.jaif.or.jp/en/tepco-total-debris-from-fukushima-daiichi-to-reach-749000-cubic-meters-by-2027/

  • A Kyoto court orders Tepco to compensate some voluntary evacuees. The plaintiffs will receive over $260,000. Tokyo’s out-of-court settlement center had suggested a third of the court-ordered total. The family fled from Fukushima Prefecture to Kyoto in 2011. The father said he could not work in Kyoto due to insomnia and stress-related health issues. Kyoto News Service says he also contracted mental illness. Regardless, the court said the voluntary evacuation was reasonable given the lack of concrete information given about the danger of the unprecedented nuclear accident. Further, the health issues were because the family fled to unfamiliar surroundings. Tepco said they will study the matter and respond sincerely. http://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/english/news/nuclear.html  -- http://english.kyodonews.jp/news/2016/02/398311.html

  • A Tokyo government committee meeting in Fukushima hears local opinions on nukes. A Koriyama hotel owner says she is frustrated because “Nuclear power plants in the nation were restarted with very little thought when the nuclear crisis in Fukushima has not even been settled." The head of the Chamber of Commerce complained about bad publicity because “It continues to haunt not just agriculture and tourism, but various industries as well.” An official with the Compensation and Decommissioning group said, “The wishes of residents who want to return home should be granted, but at the same time we hope for the central government to assist those who are unable to do so.” http://ajw.asahi.com/article/0311disaster/recovery/AJ201602180062

  • The Press resurrects old news about Fukushima child thyroid cases. The problem is that there is no consistency between the news outlets in their reporting. Regardless, the story was reported here on December 14th, with the link to the Fukushima Medical University (FMU) report. [http://fmu-global.jp/?wpdmdl=144] The reports range from the realistic (Asahi Shimbun) to the absurd (Mainichi Shimbun). The Asahi correctly posts that the December FMU report states that only one new confirmed case of a thyroid anomaly biopsied as a carcinoma, and the accident is not related to the thyroid discoveries because “no case has been found among infants in Fukushima”. (Aside – Actually, no case has been found in the group that was 0-5 years old at the time of the accident. – End aside) On the other hand, the Mainichi headlines “Child thyroid cancer in Fukushima many times national average: report draft”, which is entirely misleading. The Mainichi makes the incorrect comparison to the national average for malignant thyroid cancers in adults, which fails to consider the age reversal data mentioned in the Asahi article. Plus, there is nothing in the December FMU report that makes any insinuation of there being a higher rate of malignant thyroid cancers due to the accident. The FMU report states, "We may be diagnosing many cases of cancer that would otherwise be diagnosed later in life or that are not life-threatening." The Mainichi ought to post a retraction, but it is doubtful that it will ever happen.  http://ajw.asahi.com/article/0311disaster/fukushima/AJ201602160050 -- http://mainichi.jp/english/articles/20160216/p2a/00m/0na/010000c -- http://english.kyodonews.jp/news/2016/02/397822.html  (Comment – The Press fails to consider the fact that the vast majority of the cases are most probably indolent and will probably never become malignant. See… http://www.hiroshimasyndrome.com/are-fukushima-child-thyroid-cases-a-matter-of-over-diagnosis.html)

  • Takahama units #1 & #2 are about to clear their restart screenings. Both units are more than the arbitrary 40 year-old licensing limit, so they will be the first to restart under the 20-year extension. The NRA announced they were on the verge of concluding the screenings this morning. A second screening specific to a licensing extension must be completed by July 7th before the units can be approved for continued operation. http://english.kyodonews.jp/news/2016/02/398337.html

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