Fukushima 99... 3/28/16-4/21/16

April 21, 2016

  • Only three of 80 fish caught outside the F. Daiichi port show any Cesium-134. Cs-134 is the unmistakable “fingerprint” of Fukushima contamination. 36 other fish contained detectible Cs-137 alone, indicating that it was residuals from the post-WWII nuclear bomb tests in the Pacific. Regardless, none of the fish had combined Cesium concentrations greater than Japan’s 100 Becquerel per kilogram limit. The fish highest in Cesium was a “Sebastes Cheni” (rockfish) at 55 Bq/kg. http://www.tepco.co.jp/en/nu/fukushima-np/f1/smp/2016/images/fish02_160415-e.pdf

  • Tokyo says releasing Fukushima’s tritiated water to the sea is the way to go. The Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry reports that discharging tritiated water into the ocean is the fastest and least costly way to resolve wastewater buildup at F. Daiichi. The ministry has been studying ways to dispose of tritium, which cannot be removed by the plant's "ALPS" multi-nuclide elimination technology. METI considered five methodologies including burial, vaporization, and releasing tritium into the atmosphere as hydrogen gas. The sea-release option will be cautious, taking as long as eight years. The cost is estimated at between $30 and $40 million. http://mainichi.jp/english/articles/20160419/p2a/00m/0na/019000c

  • A small contaminated water leak is found at F. Daiichi. About 2.7 liters fell in drops from a pipe connected to a waste water storage tank. It appears the tank was not storing fully-treated liquid. The water tested at 260,000 Becquerels per liter of beta-emitting Strontium, and 6.200 Bq/l of gamma-emitting Cesium. The leak was discovered Wednesday evening. http://the-japan-news.com/news/article/0002892928

  • The NRA will issue twice-daily reports on the unaffected nukes on Kyushu Island. Due to radiophobic concerns proffered by antinuclear groups and broadcast by Japan’s news media, the Nuclear Regulation Authority will provide assurance of nothing bad happening every day at 10am and 8pm.  This will not only address the operating units at Sendai, but also those that remain shuttered at Genkai, Ikata, and Shimane stations. http://english.kyodonews.jp/news/2016/04/407519.html

  • The NRA says Takahama #1 and #2 meet the nation’s new safety regulations. The two units will be the first to restart that were built more than 40 years ago. The agency officially passed the two units on Wednesday. Wednesday's approval came after a 30-day period of soliciting public opinions on the preliminary decision, announced in February.  Most were negative, with some claiming the NRA underestimated the size of possible quakes, while others said the restarts should not be allowed until actual tests on upgraded electric cables were done. The next step will be for Kansai Electric to meet their earthquake commitments and prove the facility has not deteriorated enough to be denied restart. The company says it could take three more years before the units actually restart. The antinuclear-friendly Japan Times says that allowing the restart of the two units could “stoke concern over the efficacy of the strict new safety standards amid renewed public worries over the safety of nuclear plants after two deadly earthquakes rocked the Kyushu area last week.” http://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/en/news/20160420_13/ -- http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2016/04/20/national/aging-takahama-reactors-road-operating-beyond-40-year-limit/#.Vxd_BJBf0dV

  • Two politicians share their fears of the Takahama station with the Press. Maizuru Mayor Ryozo Tatami said, “At present, has the safety of the plant been confirmed? We need scientific and technological explanations… We also need documentation from when the plant was originally built that proves it’s possible to operate the reactor for 60 years, especially since the core cannot be replaced.” Obviously, the mayor doesn’t know that the core gets regularly replaced. About a third of the fuel cells are removed and new ones inserted every 12-14 months. Meanwhile, Governor Taizo Mikazuki of Shiga Prefecture added his concerns. A tiny part of Shiga lies within the 30km EPZ. He is nervous about running “old” reactors that could leak radiation into Lake Biwa, Japan’s largest freshwater lake. In addition, Mikazuki says he is concerned about more nuclear waste being generated by the two units. http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2016/04/21/national/fears-grow-takahama-reactors-near-restart/#.VxkHUJBf0dV  

  • At least eleven Kyushu residents have died from post-quake complications. This brings the total morbidity caused by last week’s severe quakes to 58. The prefecture calls the reason “economy class syndrome” – deaths caused by blood clots due to prolonged physical inactivity. The reason we mention this in our Fukushima Update is two-fold. First, we can see that post-quake complications leading to death are not only due to the Fukushima evacuation. In addition, the quake of March 11, 2011, was at least 50 times more powerful than the Kyushu quake, so having at least 50 times more “related” Fukushima deaths should come as no surprise. Antinuclear citizens are trying to use the Kyushu quake as a crutch to block restart of Ikata unit #3. A civic group in Matsuyama City urged Ehime Prefecture and Shikoku Electric to not reboot reactors due to fears following the deadly Kyushu quakes. Tsukasa Wada, a member of the group, said “We can’t rule out the possibility that a big quake will hit near Ikata nuclear plant.” (Aside – Of course these people ignore the fact that the March, 2011 Tohoku quake, 50 times more powerful, caused no damage to any of the fourteen nuclear units on the coast. F. Daiichi succumbed to a massive tsunami…not the quake! Japan’s antinuclear fanatics NEVER accept this fact.) http://mainichi.jp/english/articles/20160420/p2a/00m/0na/018000c -- http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2016/04/20/national/aging-takahama-reactors-road-operating-beyond-40-year-limit/#.VxeNGJBf0dU -- http://english.kyodonews.jp/news/2016/04/407711.html

April 18, 2016

Last week’s deadly earthquakes on Kyushu Island did nothing to the island’s nukes. The two killed at least 58 people, injured more than three thousand others, and made 80,000 homeless. The two operating Sendai units continued full-power operation without a glitch, supplying nearly 1,800 MWe much-needed electricity to the Island. They are located more than 100 kilometers south of the two quake epicenters. The quakes have generated wide Press coverage over whether or not the Sendai nukes should be shut down. However, none of the Press reports mention the likely negative impact shuttering Sendai would have on victims’ health and safety, not to mention the limitations imposed on post-quake recovery.

  • The Nuclear Regulation Authority says there was no scientific reason to shut down Sendai station. Agency officials met on Monday to examine the impact of the frequent quakes and aftershocks on the region’s nukes since Thursday. They said the maximum acceleration at the plant was 8.6 gal, which is far lower than the 160-gal motion that would SCRAM the reactors. The NRA said that since plant's anti-quake measures are for much more powerful earthquakes, there is no problem with continuing operations. NRA Chair Shunichi Tanaka said the agency can shut down a nuclear plant if it poses safety concerns, but there is no scientific evidence showing that's required now. http://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/en/news/20160418_23/ -- http://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/en/news/20160418_26/

  • The NRA says it should have released information sooner about the non-impact of the quake on Sendai station. NRA Chairman Tanaka said, "We have been warned that our provision of information may not have been sufficient. We must reflect on our conduct in a candid way." Tanaka was responding to harsh Press criticism that alleged the NRA was failing to do its job by not immediately announcing the condition of the Sendai units when the two sequential quakes hit. Tanaka explained, "We will decide whether to stop the operations of nuclear power plants based on scientific and technological standards. Under the current circumstances, we do not see any safety problem." http://jen.jiji.com/jc/eng?g=eco&k=2016041800539

  • Antinuclear groups have made a formal appeal to Kyushu Electric Co. to shut down the two Sendai units, saying, “Based on the experience at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant, it is clear to everyone that it would be too late if you waited for some abnormality to occur.” In parallel, Japan’s communist party said Sendai should be shut down because some rail lines have been severed by the Kyushu Island quakes and there would be major evacuation problems if there was a nuke accident. Aileen Mioko-Smith of Green Action Japan told the Press, “We are very worried, for a number of reasons. The NRA failed to carry out a risk assessment for an inland crustal earthquake, which is precisely the kind of tremor that we have seen in Kumamoto. We are also concerned about the cumulative effect of all the aftershocks after the main quake.” Meanwhile, Environment Minister Tamayo Murakawa restated the Nuclear Regulation Authority statement that the tremor recorded at Sendai was well-below the limit for operation, “The NRA has judged there is no need to stop the Sendai plant.” Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said, “Under the current circumstances, there is no need to stop the plant because (the shaking) is sufficiently low.”  http://www.asahi.com/ajw/articles/AJ201604170044.html -- http://www.asahi.com/ajw/articles/AJ201604170031.html  -- http://www.scmp.com/news/asia/east-asia/article/1936923/activists-residents-japan-protest-against-restart-two-sendai

  • The Japanese Press broadcasts antinuclear actions concerning Sendai, both inside and outside Japan. An internet-based petition to shutter the Sendai units gained 42,000 signatures from around the world, Fukui Prefecture nuke activists criticized Kyushu Electric for continuing Sendai operation, and a national mayor’s group said the government should re-evaluate its standards for nuke operations during earthquakes. From outside Japan, the Union of Concerned Scientists’ Edwin Lyman said, “Given the general situation on Kyushu — including the ongoing seismic and volcanic activity, the large number of evacuees, and the damage to the transportation infrastructure — I believe it would be prudent for the reactors to be shut down until conditions have stabilized.” http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2016/04/18/national/despite-assurances-quakes-prompt-calls-switch-off-japans-nuclear-reactors/#.VxTMdpBf0dV

April 14, 2016

  • Japans Tritium fears get blasted by an EPRI researcher. Electric Power Research Institute’s Rosa Yang advises Japan on decommissioning reactors. Rosa believes the public angst over Tritium is uncalled-for. She says a Japanese government official should simply drink water from one of the tanks to convince people it's safe. Japan’s leading nuke watchdog, Shunichi Tanaka’s statement about Tritium being essentially harmless is located at the very end of the article, "Tritium is so weak in its radioactivity it won't penetrate plastic wrapping." The AP tries to rebuff both by using Fear, Uncertainty, and Doubt rhetoric (FUD). The topic has recently been given considerable Press thanks to NY Governor Cuomo relative to Indian Point nuclear station. Now, the topic is being extended to Fukushima by the Associated Press. http://www.msn.com/en-us/news/other/japan-prepares-for-release-of-tritium-from-fukushima-plant/ar-BBrE9uL (For an objective, detailed explanation of Tritium and its innocuous biological impact, click on “Background Information on Tritium” in the left-hand menu.)

  • Tokyo considers lifting the evacuation order for most of Katsurao Village on June 12. This will allow 1,352 of the 1,470 residents to permanently repopulate, if they are willing. This includes as many as 62 residents who fled from the “residency-restricted” zone. This will mark the first Fukushima residency-restricted zone to have the evacuation orders lifted. So far, only 104 residents have applied for preparatory lodging at home. It is felt that the majority of Katsurao’s evacuees are awaiting a doctor to be assigned to the village medical clinic and a food store to be opened. Mayor Masahide Matsumoto says living conditions will be improved gradually so that evacuees can consider returning home with peace of mind. http://www.fukushimaminponews.com/news.html?id=655

  • Two Japanese research reactors’ safety measures are approved by Tokyo. These are the first research units to pass the post-Fukushima screenings of the Nuclear Regulation Authority. The first is the 100-Watt reactor at Kyoto University and the other a one-watt unit at Kinki University. Both are located in Osaka Prefecture. Research reactors with a maximum output below 500 watts are not required to have the same severe accident prevention measures as commercial nukes. http://jen.jiji.com/jc/eng?g=eco&k=2016041300539

  • Salmon fishing resumes in a Fukushima lake. Lake Numazawa in Kaneyama Town has had sockeye salmon fishing banned for more than four years. On April 9th, local fishermen dropped their lines into the crystal-blue waters for the first time since the ban. Mitsukatsu Sato, a 73-year-old angler from Motomiya City, caught more than 30 salmon by noon and said, "Sashimi (sliced raw fish) tastes like 'toro' (fatty tuna). I'll come every day." Fishing has been banned since April, 2012, when a salmon was found to have more than 100 Becquerels of Cesium per kilogram. Since none have exceeded the limit for more than a year-and-a-half, the ban was lifted. http://www.fukushimaminponews.com/news.html?id=656

  • The Press has finally found a Tepco executive who says he read the meltdown criterion in the company’s emergency manual before the nuke accident. Yuichi Okamura, an acting general manager with TEPCO's on-site nuclear power division, said his understanding was a “personal knowledge” and did not shared it with colleagues. He explained, “I, in fact, knew it [the criteria]. I learned it while working in the field of nuclear technology with the company for over 20 years.” At the time of the accident, Okamura was in charge of pumping water into the unit #4 Spent Fuel Pool and was not involved with the meltdown investigation. http://www.asahi.com/ajw/articles/AJ201604120056.html -- http://mainichi.jp/english/articles/20160412/p2a/00m/0na/012000c

  • A small group of Japanese protesters file suit against licensing extensions for nukes. 76 plaintiffs from fourteen prefectures charge that the NRA’s statutes on extended lifespan are unacceptable. The focus is on the two Takahama units recently found to qualify for re-licensing by the NRA. The filing clearly attacks the NRA’s efficacy, similar to the latest series of suits getting wide news media coverage. The plaintiffs allege that the NRA has not strictly evaluated the problems accompanying the aging of nuclear reactors, or the danger of hydrogen explosions and other “disasters”. Sakae Kitamura, the head lawyer for the plaintiffs, asserted, "Five years ago we saw that nuclear plants are dangerous, causing such terrible disasters. We want to start a movement in the judiciary of halting nuclear plant operations." Another lawyer representing the group says, “In a serious accident at the Takahama reactors, there is a danger of radiation damage from the effects of a westerly wind.” http://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/en/news/20160414_28/ -- http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2016/04/14/national/crime-legal/nuclear-protesters-sue-nra-halt-takahama-reactor-restarts/#.Vw-A5ZBf0dV -- http://mainichi.jp/english/articles/20160414/p2a/00m/0na/020000c

April 11, 2016

  • Award-winning journalist Dave Ropeik says radiophobia is harming Fukushima children. He says a significant percentage of us have thyroid abnormalities that would test positive for carcinoma if subjected to the same high-tech scrutiny as the 360,000 Fukushima children. But while those cells or cysts might not hurt us, the fear of radiation and the fear of cancer certainly could, as an unfolding tragedy for children living around in the prefecture of Fukushima in Japan illustrates.Given the prevalence of suspicious cysts or nodules in everyone’s thyroids, “unsurprisingly” the Fukushima screening turned up thousands of abnormalities. Rampant radiophobia has led to the false assumption that the abnormalities were cause by Fukushima radiation. But the evidence says otherwise, especially the same testing in non-exposed children elsewhere in Japan showing the same rate of the cysts and nodules. Further, genetic tests run on thousands of the Fukushima thyroid abnormalities did not match those that were caused by the 1986 Chernobyl accident. Ropeik says “Emotionally, human-made risks scare us more than natural ones and any risk we can’t detect with our senses leaves us feeling vulnerable and powerless and more afraid… When we let our emotions override an objective review of the evidence it’s not radiation we should fear, or cancer. It’s our fears that we have to fear most.” http://bigthink.com/risk-reason-and-reality/how-cancerphobia-and-radiophobia-have-harmed-hundreds-of-children-in-fukushima (Comment - We thank Dave for the very nice mention of our postings on the Fukushima child thyroid situation - with link – at the end of the article.)

  • Two unattended police stations in the exclusion zone are manned again. Both communities are preparing for the evacuation orders to be lifted. One is in Kawamata Town and the other in the Odaka District of Minamisoma. The Kawamata station belongs to the Fukushima City Police and the other is run by Minamisoma City. The Kawamata station has had Sergeant Seiju Miura on duty since August, but only during the daytime since the residents were only allowed temporary stays in preparation for the evacuation order being lifted. Sgt. Miura began staying overnight, as well, on March 27th. He says, “A policeman always staying here puts residents at ease.” One returning resident, Shuichi Ouchi, says “Just seeing a policeman around makes me feel relieved.” http://www.fukushimaminponews.com/news.html?id=652

  • With the restarts of Sendai units #3 & #4, Kyushu Electric reserve capacity tops 10%. For the summer, the company expects at least 14%. Thus, the utility will no longer have to pay for “power interchanges” with other companies to insure a stable, uninterrupted supply of electricity to their customers. Kyushu Electric says summer power supplies have been a virtual “tightrope walk” since the post-Fukushima accident nuclear moratorium began. http://www.jaif.or.jp/en/kyushu-electric-power-sees-capacity-reserve-margin-above-14-with-restart-of-npps/

  • Kagoshima residents who lost their Sendai appeal change their minds. Lawyers representing the plaintiffs in the failed suit to try and have the two operating Sendai units shuttered announced they have decided to not appeal to Japan’s Supreme Court. A source close to the lawyers explained why they suddenly changed their minds, "If the Supreme Court also dismisses the case, it could have ripple effects on judgments of trials seeking to halt the operation of nuclear power plants across Japan." On Sunday, the lawyers said there are legal restrictions with the Supreme Court in claim verification that they might not be able to overcome. Regardless, the plaintiffs say they will continue to try and stop nuke restarts in the lower courts. http://english.kyodonews.jp/news/2016/04/405710.html -- http://jen.jiji.com/jc/eng?g=eco&k=2016040800751

April 7, 2016

For the past two days, Japan’s Press has been dominated by the Fukuoka High Court dismissal of an appeal to shut down Sendai units #3 & #4. It is the eighth dismissal of an antinuclear suit since the Fukushima accident, but this one has been given severe scrutiny by the Press for what seems to be two reasons.  First the filing charged the Nuclear Regulation Authority with being irrational for not demanding absolute, zero-risk safety. The Press finds notion of guaranteed, absolute safety to be quite “newsworthy”. The second reason is that the dozen plaintiffs are going to push their antinuclear agenda all the way to Japan’s Supreme Court. (Comment - There have been 30-odd antinuclear suits filed to stop nuke restarts since the Great East Japan earthquake and Tsunami of March 11, 2011. To date, nine (including two appeals) have been adjudicated. NONE have been ultimately successful. Only one is currently open to discussion… the Otsu injunction concerning the two units’ reactivation at Takahama. However, it seems that even that one will be quashed because there is no precedent for local courts making decisions that contradict Tokyo. But, this has not dissuaded the moneyed minority that will fight their hopeless battle to the bitter end. They will win occasional temporary victories – e.g. the Otsu injunction – but they are doomed to inevitable failure.)

  • Fukuoka’s High Court dismisses an appeal to shut down Sendai units #3 & #4. Presiding Judge Tomoichiro Nishikawa upheld last April’s Fukuoka court judgement which found that Japan's NRA and its new nuclear safety standards "cannot be regarded as irrational." Nishikawa’s concluded that there is “no concrete risk that the plaintiffs and others would suffer serious damage.” The plaintiffs had hoped that the recent injunction against the operation of two Takahama nukes would sway the Fukuoka high court. They were very wrong, and they are literally spitting-mad. Chief lawyer for the plaintiffs Masami Mori said, "It's extremely regrettable… The court interpreted the law in a wrong way in handing down the decision to dismiss the petition. The court is unaware of the seriousness of the accident at the Fukushima No. 1 Nuclear Power Plant." [Aside – In other words, the Fukuoka court is incredibly oblivious to the single-most popular issue in Japan over the past five years! End aside.] The plaintiffs also assert that there will never be sufficient earthquake or volcanic protection to quell their fears. Since their dreads are not making the NRA shut down the Sendai units, the plaintiffs claim the agency is an irrational and uncaring regulatory body. It is clear the plaintiffs saw the writing on the wall; as soon as the appeal was denied, they immediately unveiled banners saying "Unjust decision" and "We will never surrender."  The original petition to bar the restarts was turned down last April, but the 12 die-hard antinukes who originally filed the suit showed they have the money and perseverance to continue when they vowed to file another lawsuit with a higher court; perhaps even Japan’s Supreme Court. http://the-japan-news.com/news/article/0002854024 -- http://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/en/news/20160406_20/ -- http://www.jaif.or.jp/en/request-denied-for-order-prohibiting-operation-of-sendai-npps-new-regulatory-standards-are-rational/ -- http://mainichi.jp/english/articles/20160406/p2a/00m/0na/021000c

  • The formal ruling said, “There is no societal consensus yet that safety measures must be taken to reduce the risk of accidents to zero.”  The court’s ruling tacitly rejects the recent Otsu court decision that fully-functional, non-polluting Takahama units #3 & #4 must be shuttered because absolute safety cannot be assured to the satisfaction of the region’s antinuclear fanatics. The Otsu District Court says that Kansai Electric failed to sufficiently prove the safety of the Takahama nuclear power plant, and criticized the NRA for causing serious anxiety when the restarts were approved. In 1992, Japan’s Supreme Court ruled that nuke safety should be discussed from a viewpoint of whether or not Tokyo’s judgment on the matter is irrational, and this seems to be the point upon which the suits hinge. But, former Yokohama judge Toshiji Sato supports the Fukuoka decision, “In contrast to the Otsu District Court, which denied the new safety standards themselves, the latest decision shows a stance of respecting results of the inspections by the NRA based on the 1992 Supreme Court ruling.” Former Nagoya Judge Hideki Nakagome said, “Judging whether to stop operations of nuclear reactors, which gravely affects the social economy, is not appropriate under the framework of a temporary injunction that requires only simplified presentation of evidence.” http://the-japan-news.com/news/article/0002855546

  • The issues of evacuation plan adequacy and volcanic risk were also raised in the wake of the Fukuoka decision. The plaintiffs maintain that the rejection of their appeal fails to consider that (in their opinion) nukes should not operate before air-tight evacuation plans are developed, and should never be operated within 160 kilometers of active volcanoes. To the contrary, the Fukuoka decision states, "Even if the [evacuation] plans lack in rationality and effectiveness, they are not recognized to immediately infringe on residents' personal rights." With respect to volcanoes, it says, "We must say eruption predictions are difficult and unreasonable… (Thus) the danger of catastrophic eruptions can be ignored." On the other hand, Waseda Law School’s Shigeyuki Suto countered, "The decision lacks in an attitude that questions from the public point of view whether the new regulatory standards drawn up by a group of experts are reasonable or not. The decision that the nuclear reactors (at the Sendai plant) are not subject to immediate suspension even if resident evacuation plans are insufficient was also a sheer formality." http://mainichi.jp/english/articles/20160407/p2a/00m/0na/009000c

  • The apparently-moneyed plaintiffs voiced their distinct outrage with the Fukuoka decision. One spouted, "The court abandoned its independent judgment," and caved to the official Tokyo policy on nukes. Masami Mori, head lawyer for the residents, said, "I saw the ruling as saying, 'Nuclear power plants are accepted by society, so there is nothing to be done.'" Lawyer Hiroyuki Kawai, head of a national association of lawyers against nuclear power, said angrily, "The court's decision was a very careless legitimization of the national government's nuclear power promotion and plant reactivation policies." He added, "It appears to be a re-emergence of the policy of passive courts." The bottom line statement comes from Akiko Morinaga, 44, leader of the plaintiffs in a full-scale lawsuit on the issue, who said, "It's very unfortunate, but we will consider this as a long battle and calmly do what we can.” http://mainichi.jp/english/articles/20160407/p2a/00m/0na/008000c

  • Lawyer Hiroyuki Kawai (above) has a long history of fighting nuclear power in Japan. He began taking on antinuclear lawsuits in the 1990s. Until the Fukushima accident, he admits that it was an uphill battle. However, the Fukushima crisis has brought him to the forefront of antinuclear law. He is independently wealthy from his several-decades of practicing corporate law and has made an antinuclear movie “Nuclear Japan” to make his view known to everyone. He has formed an alliance of about 300 lawyers who want to rid Japan of nukes, and is personally representing the handful of Fukushima residents who believe their child thyroid anomalies were caused by radiation. http://www.seattletimes.com/business/ap-interview-japan-lawyer-wants-no-nukes-after-fukushima/

Now… back to Fukushima.

  • A Tokyo doctor says public education on radiation continues to be inadequate. Masaharu Tsubokura, M.D., isChief researcher at the Institute of Medical Science, University of Tokyo. He spends most of his work in Soma and Minamisoma hospitals, Fukushima Prefecture. He has found that radiation is not a common topic of conversation anymore, and people live normally without open concern about it. Not that they have no continuing concerns, but rather that they don’t want to talk about it anymore. Tsubokura argues that while there has not been, nor will there ever be discernible negative health effects caused by the low levels of radiation with Fukushima, the lack of education about radiation is an on-going problem. After five years of regular interface with Fukushima residents, he says, “At the beginning of the disaster, I didn’t understand, with exposure dose being low, why people wouldn’t return home? I’ve learned more, gradually, through associations with various people. To a mother who doesn’t want to be exposed to any more radiation, it means nothing to tell her that food in Fukushima is now safe… telling a mother—who may have decided to evacuate voluntarily, for the sake of her children, and who struggled a lot— that radiation levels don’t affect health is a challenge to her decision and judgment.” Tsubokura adds, “One of the major lessons of the accident at the Fukushima Daiichi NPPs is that the risks from evacuation are overwhelmingly greater than the risk of radiation exposure from 5 to 10mSv,” revealing that “Measures (based on ALARA) have to be considered from the beginning, not a determination to avoid all radiation by all means.” He has been spending considerable time trying to educate Fukushima’s anxious residents, but he seems to have made little headway, “The fear is completely unnecessary, and I want to do something about it. People talk about radiation in ways that are totally wrong. I want to show them the truth—the facts.” http://www.jaif.or.jp/en/special-interview-with-masaharu-tsubokura-m-d/

  • Tepco’s “Ice Wall” is progressing “largely smoothly”. A company spokesperson made this observation during Monday’s visit to F. Daiichi by Minister of the Economy Yosuke Takagi. The minus 30oC refrigerant is being circulated through the ocean-side section of the system, to freeze the soil and create a barrier to groundwater flow. Tepco says the soil temperature has dropped to between minus 4 and 6 degrees at some locations. Tepco also showed the new rainwater run-off outlets that discharge inside the barricaded inner harbor (quay). The outlets from the “K” drainage ditch monitors had generated sporadic alarms due to radiation levels in the runoff, causing an outcry from local fisheries. The mildly radioactive runoff will no longer have any direct path to the sea. http://www.asahi.com/ajw/articles/AJ201604050046.html Tepco’s Press handout containing pictures of the ice wall’s technology can be found here… http://www.tepco.co.jp/en/nu/fukushima-np/handouts/2016/images/handouts_160107_01-e.pdf

  • The NRA says the fixes with the transmission protective devices at Takahama unit #4 are appropriate. In February, just three days after restarting the unit, an abnormality was detected and caused an immediate SCRAM. Kansai Electric Company reported that the device causing the shutdown had incorrect settings. The device has been reprogrammed to avoid a recurrence. NRA chairman Shunichi Tanaka said the incident did not affect reactor safety, but the social impact was huge and the utility’s credibility was damaged. http://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/en/news/20160406_29/

  • Ikata unit #3 pre-restart inspections begin. The NRA began their final assessments on Tuesday to insure that all equipment required by the new regulatory standards is adequate. The improvements include reinforcing the Primary Containment and upgrading pumps to survive a hypothetical worst-case earthquake. Once the assessments are complete, Shikoku Electric Company will begin loading fuel by the end of June and restart the reactor by the end of July. Commercial operation is scheduled to begin in August. It should be noted - because Japan’s Press always does - that 16 MOX fuel assemblies will be installed among the 157 to be inserted in the reactor vessel. http://www.jaif.or.jp/en/nra-begins-pre-service-inspections-of-ikata-3-final-step-before-restart/

  • University nukes are hamstrung by the new NRA reactor safety regulations. The new safety standards have been written for large, electricity-production units; not small research and training reactors at colleges and institutes. Thus, these small units are being held to the same regulatory rigor as the power plants. All twelve of Japan’s university reactors have been of-line since the Fukushima accident. University of Tokyo Professor Mitsuru Uesaka said about 1,700 students and researchers used these reactors before the 2011 accident. Now, those in training must be sent to facilities overseas at a high cost. The academics plan to petition the NRA to create different criteria for research reactors, the severity of which should depend on maximum power level. http://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/en/news/20160405_27/

April 4, 2016

The dominant energy topics over the weekend have been the nuclear security summit in Washington, DC, and Japan’s de-regulation of electricity. Only two Fukushima-based reports have been posted. The first is actually old news. The second reveals that the Press’ speculations of a large Japanese public movement away from utilities with nukes were unfounded.

  • Fukushima high school students find their radiation exposures are safe. On February 8th, Fukushima High School student Haruka Onodera told the Foreign Correspondents’ Club of Japan (FCCJ), “The individual doses [of external radiation exposure in high school students] were almost equal inside and outside of Fukushima Prefecture, and in European areas.” She and her fellow students began a project in 2014 to see if Fukushima radiation exposures were greater than the rest of Japan, and how they compared to background levels of schools elsewhere in the world. They found their annual exposures in Fukushima Prefecture were between 0.63 and 0.97 millisievert. The range was between 0.55 and 0.87 mSv elsewhere in Japan and the exposures in fourteen European high schools were between 0.51 and 1.1 mSv. The students also found they experienced lower exposure rates at school than when they were at home; probably due to the school’s concrete walls which shield them better than the walls of their homes. Onodera explained her opinion on the significance of the project, “The experience has brought home to me how important it is to address reality objectively and scientifically.” http://www.asahi.com/ajw/articles/AJ201604040044.html (Comment - The FCCJ meeting was covered briefly in Japan Times on February 8th  and we reported on it promptly thereafter. Why has it taken nearly two more months for another Japanese press outlet to report this good news? And, why haven’t any international news outlets picked up on it? It seems anything positive concerning Fukushima isn’t “newsworthy”.)

  • Electricity deregulation has relatively little impact in Japan. On Friday, the retail sale of electricity was fully liberalized, allowing consumers to choose which companies they want to buy from. However, only 0.6% of the customers in Japan have filed to switch suppliers. Even more surprising is that only 1% of Tepco’s customers have filed to switch. The Yomiuri Shimbun, Japan’s largest newspaper, believes that Japan’s post-3/11/11 economic recovery demands a stable, uninterrupted supply of electricity, which can only be guaranteed if more nukes get restarted. The Yomiuri states, “It is indispensable to secure an excess in supply capacity by pushing ahead and reactivating nuclear power stations after their safety has been confirmed.” http://the-japan-news.com/

March 31, 2016

  • The long-awaited F. Daiichi “ice wall” is finally approved. On Wednesday, the Nuclear Regulation Authority gave Tepco the go-ahead to activate the soil freezing project. The process will be completed in stages, with the nearly 700 meter-long sea-side barrier frozen first. The technology was read to go two months ago, but the NRA would not approve start-up until Tepco caved to their demands for freezing the earth in stages. The wall will extend almost completely around the four contaminated basements at F. Daiichi, to a depth of at least 30 meters. The sequenced start-up process should be finished in about eight months. Tepco estimates that the inflow of groundwater to the basements will be noticeable in about 45 days. Seven small sections on the west (inland) side of the four damaged units will be left unfrozen to allay NRA concerns that completely surrounding the basements with frozen soil could drop groundwater level below the water levels in the buildings and cause an out-flow of highly contaminated liquid within the walled area. The effectiveness of the wall is doubted by some news outlets. The routinely-antinuclear Associated Press belittled the huge refrigeration pipes, calling them “giant popsicles”, and cited a Tepco official who said, "Its effect is still unknown, because the expected outcome is based on simulations." http://mainichi.jp/english/articles/20160330/p2a/00m/0na/012000c -- http://the-japan-news.com/news/article/0002842361 -- https://www.yahoo.com/news/japan-regulators-ok-costly-ice-070409610.html (AP report)

  • The ice wall system began operation this morning. The minus 30oC refrigerant began flowing into the first of the massive pipes at 11:20am. This begins stage one, to solidify more than two-thirds of the 1.5 kilometer perimeter around the four unit’s basements containing contaminated water. Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said, “I very much expect that the frozen soil shields will start to prevent groundwater from entering the reactor buildings at an early date.” Suga also hopes that TEPCO will “carry out the operation steadily while putting safety first.” http://the-japan-news.com/news/article/0002844243 -- http://www.tepco.co.jp/en/press/corp-com/release/2016/1272694_7763.html (Tepco Press Release) -- http://www.jaif.or.jp/en/nra-approves-start-of-freezing-of-land-side-impermeable-wall-at-fukushima-daiichi/

  • Most evacuees living in other prefectures want to remain where they now live. This was discovered by a Fukushima Prefecture survey announced March 25th. The survey was sent to families currently living in rent free housing. Of the nearly 3,200 that responded, 65% said they hope to remain in homes outside Fukushima Prefecture once the government stops paying their rent a year from now. On the other hand, 18% said they are considering a return to their former homes once the government money-spigot is turned off. http://www.fukushimaminponews.com/news.html?id=648

  • Another Fukushima lawsuit is dropped by a court. On Wednesday, The Fukushima District Public Prosecutor’s Office announced that it will not prosecute Tokyo Electric Power Co. or its executives for violating an environmental pollution law. A criminal complaint was filed two-and-a-half years ago by members of the public, alleging Tepco and 32 of its executives allowed contaminated water to be released. The prosecutors said there was “insufficient” evidence to press charges, and that most of the named executives “had no authority or responsibility to set measures to avoid the leakage in the first place.” Therefore, the accusation has “no grounds.” A spokesperson for the undeterred plaintiffs said the decision is unacceptable and they will appeal through the Committee for the Inquest of Prosecution. http://ajw.asahi.com/article/0311disaster/fukushima/AJ201603300068

  • Tokyo pushes for dry cask storage of used nuclear fuel bundles. Officials say they will promote the storage option because it is hypothetically safer than keeping the fuel bundles in deep water pools. The problem is getting local communities to agree to the possibility because they fear that the filled casks will be kept in their communities over long periods of time. Tokyo says they will raise annual subsidies to the host communities. Currently, the subsidy is $3,550 per year for every ton of used fuel. Tokyo wants to drop the in-pool storage pay-out to $2,670 per ton per year, and raise the annual subsidy for dry cask storage to $5,330 per ton. http://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/en/news/20160330_10/

  • Cesium concentrations in Japan’s wild game continues to drop. Seven types of wild game from Fukushima, Miyagi, Yamagata, Ibaraki, Tochigi, Gunma, Chiba and Niigata Prefectures, have been restricted since March 2011 due to radioactive cesium in the meat. Since then, cesium levels have dropped by a factor of two-thirds. Chiba University professor Masashi Murakami says cesium levels in wild game animals fall faster than the element's natural decay rate. http://mainichi.jp/english/articles/20160331/p2a/00m/0na/016000c

March 28, 2016

  • Another evacuee housing complex in Minamisoma is finished. The Odaka District site contains fourteen one-story houses with two bedrooms each, and six two-story homes with three bedrooms. Seventeen families have decided to move in once the evacuation order is lifted, and the keys to their new homes were given to them on March 18th. Evacuees from the district are currently allowed to make temporary stays in their homes under the “preparatory lodging” program. The complex is near a temporary shopping mall and the Odaka Hospital. This is the fifth complex built by the city, and six others are scheduled to be completed by April 1st. http://www.fukushimaminponews.com/news.html?id=646

  • A Fukushima fishery wants to lift its ban on littleneck clams. The Soma-Futaba Fisheries Cooperative Association approved ending the self-imposed ban of 2011. Samples of the Matsukawaura lagoon in the city show Cesium entrained in the seabed and aquatic organisms has declined. Plus, the substantial tsunami debris deposited in the lagoon has been removed. The fishery wants to begin “test fishing” the species to find what the contained Cesium level is. The harvesting will only be in the lagoon itself since recovery work on the beach is not finished. http://www.fukushimaminponews.com/news.html?id=645

  • The Environment Ministry outlines a time-table for moving rural wastes to temporary storage. The ministry says that by 2020 they will likely acquire 40-70% of the land for the interim storage site adjacent to F. Daiichi. Although only 1.3% of the designated 1600 hectare location has been procured, the ministry says 1,240 of the property owners have been contacted and a feeling of cooperation exists. Okuma Mayor Toshitsuna Watanabe says this is the first time-table presented by Tokyo and will relieve some local concerns. But, he questions if the government has the willingness to make it happen. Iitate Mator Norio Kanno says, “There are piles of bags filled with contaminated soil [in Iitate] and they are preventing disaster recovery efforts. I want the ministry to speed up the land acquisition process." http://mainichi.jp/english/articles/20160328/p2a/00m/0na/011000c -- http://jen.jiji.com/jc/eng?g=eco&k=2016032700127

  • The NRA chief wants the public better informed about wastes produced by F. Daiichi’s decommissioning. Nuclear Regulation Authority Chairman Shunichi Tanaka says the materials will eventually be transported to a permanent facility. Due to public concerns about nuclear waste disposal, it makes sense to begin informing the public sooner, rather than later. The primary concerns deal with the future removal of corium; the re-solidified mixture of nuclear fuel and other materials that were contained in the three reactor cores that suffered meltdown. TEPCO says that locations to store the melted fuel will be decided after it is removed from the reactors. http://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/en/news/20160325_14/

  • Two energy experts say the Takahama injunction makes little sense. Noriko Endo of Keio University says she doubts that the Otsu court ruling will have much of an impact on restarting Japan’s nuclear fleet, and not effect Tokyo’s energy policy. The injunction also makes little economic sense because Kansai Electric Company stands to lose hundreds of millions. However, she believes the ruling shows that companies have to do a better job of informing the local populations. Keiji Knodo, a lawyer with a PhD in engineering, also says companies need to improve public information. Although events can go beyond the expected, he says that nukes are built so well that even the worst unforeseen earthquake will not harm them. The public does not seem to know this. He points a guilty finger at the NRA for this. Knodo says the NRA has stopped nuke restarts based on faults that have “an extremely low chance of moving”. Instead, they should make sure that nukes can survive the worst quake these faults might ever produce. The massive quake of March 11, 2011 did virtually nothing to any of the dozen-odd nukes on the Tohoku coastline. He says, “It is ridiculous to assume that if a plant is located on a newly developed fault line, no emergency plan would be effective… Thoroughly examined risks can be mitigated through engineering solutions.” http://the-japan-news.com/news/article/0002824687

  • Most voluntary evacuees have yet to decide what to do after free housing stops next March. More than 6,000 responded to a prefectural survey sent to nearly 10,000 voluntaries, both inside and outside Fukushima Prefecture. 30% say they have definite plans after the free housing period stops. However, 70% say they remain undecided. Fukushima says they will cover half of the rent payments for low-income and single-parent families for a year following the cut-off, and up to a third for the following year. One voluntary evacuee said, “We have absolutely no idea at this point about the future, because we do not even know where we want to live -- much less whether we want to rent another apartment or build a new home. Without free housing, we will be unable to live. The free housing program is ending too early." http://mainichi.jp/english/articles/20160326/p2a/00m/0na/012000c

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