February 22, 2018

  • The unit #3 roof cover is completed a half-month early. The schedule had set the first week of March as the completion target, but it was finished on February 22nd. The semi-cylindrical domed roof will provide a two-fold benefit: shielding the exposed refueling deck from severe weather, and inhibiting spread of airborne radioactivity caused by removal of 566 bundles of fuel from the storage pool (SFP). The last of the dome’s 55-ton sections was lowered into place on Wednesday. The next step will be Tepco using remote debris handling devices to clear the enclosed deck of rubble that remains from the 2011 hydrogen explosion. It is anticipated that the removal of the used and unused fuel will begin in the fall. https://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/en/news/20180221_19/ -- https://www4.tepco.co.jp/en/nu/fukushima-np/handouts/2018/images/handouts_180221_01-e.pdf -- http://photo.tepco.co.jp/en/date/2018-e/201802-e/180221-01e.html
  • Informed discussion about Fukushima could be the key to countering false rumors! This is the opinion of Dr. Sai Ochi of Soma Central Hospital. The plague of false rumors began as fast as the nuke accident occurred.  One of the worst results occurred in 2012 when the Fukushima Ambassador Program brought foreign exchange students to the prefecture to experience what was happening for themselves. Fukushima University’s president was sent a pair of red-painted gloves from America with the message, “Are you trying to kill our students? Their blood will be on your hands.” The source was unfounded rumors spawned far from Fukushima, and eliminating such balderdash is at the core of FAP’s twice-per-year program. This year, the event added Tokyo to the agenda so the students could see the stark difference between what is actual with Fukushima, and the harsh rumor-based opinions only 125 miles away. One student said, “What I originally heard about Fukushima came only from the news, and people around me saying it was a scary place. My home is far from there. Now I’m shocked that many people in Tokyo—people so much closer to Fukushima than I am—know even less.” Ochi’s eye-opening posting of many more student observations can be found at the following link - http://www.jaif.or.jp/en/we-all-live-inside-the-boundary-of-fukushima/  (Comment - Dr. Sai Ochi has openly shared her factual Fukushima observations for several years, but none of Japan’s popular Press has cared to publish on it.)
  • Round-trip charter flights between Taiwan and Fukushima surpass the 2010 level. In 2010, the year before the Great East Japan Earthquake and Tsunami disaster, the number of Taiwanese travelers to Fukushima was 13,290. The number dropped to 3,860 after 3/11/11. But in 2017, that number swelled to 23,180, and there will be even more in 2018. The prefecture’s government has a subsidy program for airlines involved in to-and-from trips from Taiwan. The government has earmarked more than 88 million yen in funding for fiscal 2018. http://www.fukushimaminponews.com/news.html?id=879
  • Chugoku Electric wants Tokyo to approve completion of a 1373 MWe ABWR. Shimane #3, an Advanced Boiling Water Reactor system, was in the last stages of construction when the Fukushima accident occurred. Chugoku Electric, stopped work on the plant and waited until new regulations on Boiling Water Reactor units were in place. Now that unit #2 has passed its safety screening with the Nuclear Regulation Authority, the process of approval for completion of unit #3 can be sought. Before Chugoku Electric submits to the NRA, the company will seek consent of local and prefectural officials. This is the second ABWR safety screening in Japan; the first being for Oma unit #1, Aomori Prefecture, in 2014. http://www.asahi.com/ajw/articles/AJ201802170020.html
  • Tepco is ordered to pay damages to the family of a man who committed suicide. 102 year old Fumio Okubo was watching TV News on April 11, 2011, and found out that his town, Iitate, was designated for Tokyo-mandated evacuation. He was found dead the next morning. Okubo’s family argued that he had no other reason to take his life, other than the impending evacuation. Presiding judge Hideki Kanazawa said Okubo had lived in the village his entire life and suffered unbearable pain because he would likely die before he could return home. The Fukushima District Court awarded $142,300 to the family. The family filed for more than $520,000. Tepco argued that the amount should be reduced because Okubo’s health was failing, at the time of the suicide. https://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/en/news/20180220_26/ -- http://www.asahi.com/ajw/articles/AJ201802200039.html

February 15, 2018

  • Two American mothers accept the challenge of Fukushima fear-mongering. Kristin Zaitz and Heather Matteson launched their website “Mothers for Nuclear” in 2016. Their objective, no-nonsense approach has been attacked with a “barrage” of antinuclear criticism since the site’s inception. A common objection was that both women should actually go to Fukushima to find out that nuclear energy is really dirty and inordinately dangerous. Early this month they actually spent the time and money to visit Fukushima. Other than small mountains of large black bags filled with various types of detectibly radioactive debris, they found was the opposite of the horrendous-sounding problems spouted by the anti-nuclear demographic. Perhaps their most-telling statement is, “Callous exaggerations of the dangers of low level radiation and the branding of the Fukushima prefecture as a toxic disaster zone is a shameful attack on the many beautiful citizens of this area, their livelihoods, their identities, and their futures.” Kirsten’s report is well worth the time it takes to read it! https://mothersfornuclear.org/our-thoughts/2018/2/8/firsthand-in-fukushima
  • Namie decontamination to begin in May. The devastation along the Pacific shoreline has already begun recovery, as well as with seven northern districts. But, 80% of the municipality remains under the Tokyo-mandated evacuation order. The initial work will cover about 30 hectares (0.3 km2), and the total planned by 2023 is 660 hectares (6.6 km2) is less than 4% of the remaining restricted zone. Decontamination in Namie will begin some two months after the same type of work will begin in Okuma. https://mainichi.jp/english/articles/20180215/p2g/00m/0dm/069000c
  • Namie plans to resume rice planting in the spring, specifically seven northern districts: Tatsuno, Kariyado, Sakata, Fujihashi, Nishidai, Kitakiyohashi and Kitatanashio. Some of the municipality had its evacuation order lifted by Tokyo last March, allowing work to restore irrigation waterways for rice paddies. Of the 1,200 hectares of pre-2011 paddies in Namie, it is expected that up to 430 hectares will be planted this year. The problem is that there could be a shortage of people to work the paddies because many have moved and set down new life-roots elsewhere. A town official said, “We would like to throw our full support behind farmers who are trying to stand on their own feet amid the difficult agricultural environment stemming from protracted evacuation.” Only about 500 of the more than 18,000 former residents have repopulated Namie. http://www.fukushimaminponews.com/news.html?id=878

February 8, 2018

  • Radiation exposure due to the Fukushima accident is measured in “round-trip transoceanic” units, i.e. the amount of exposure due to flying across the Pacific Ocean and back. The typical person living in Japan received the equivalent of five transoceanic units, and the average Canadian was given one transoceanic unit from the nuke accident. This unique analogous method was presented by Nikolaos Evangeliou of the Norwegian Institute for Air Research at the annual meeting of the European Geophysical Union earlier this year. The estimated levels of exposure were deduced by studying the atmospheric Cesium-137 concentrations recorded by the international Comprehensive Test-Ban Treaty Network. https://fukushimainform.ca/2017/05/09/the-fate-of-atmospheric-fukushima-radiation/
  • The percentage of Fukushima foods in school lunches returns to pre-2011 levels. The rate was 36% before the nuke accident, and dropped to around 18% the year after (2012). In 2017, it had returned to 36%. There is a target of 40% for 2020. The prefectural official in-charge said, “There are still parents who are concerned about this, and it is natural for them to be so. We will listen closely to them as we continue our inspections and public information activities.” The prefecture regularly posts the results of random tests of school lunch food for contamination. Although the prefecture’s limit is more limiting than the national standard, the levels have never exceeded it. http://www.jaif.or.jp/en/usage-rate-of-locally-produced-materials-in-fukushima-prefecture-school-lunches-returns-to-pre-accident-levels/
  • F. Daiichi’s new rubble storage facility is shown to the Press. The building was completed in time to begin rubble removal from unit #1 last month. Debris from the 2011 hydrogen explosions is strewn atop units #1 & #3, impeding efforts to prepare for the removal of fuel bundles from the Spent Fuel Pools. The storage facility is a four-story structure, with two stories above ground and two below ground. The less radioactive debris will be placed in the upper two stories, and the highly radioactive material in the underground stories, using the earth as an effective radiation shield. https://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/en/news/20180208_32/
  • A Tokyo court awards more than $10 million in compensation to 318 Minamisoma residents. The Odaka District of the city was part of the Tokyo-mandated evacuation population in 2011. 321 of the district’s residents filed a suit for an additional total of nearly $100 million for psychological damage, but the court decided that the amount was not reasonable and cut it by roughly 90%. However, three of the plaintiffs were denied compensation because they lived overseas at the time of the accident. Each qualified plaintiff will receive about $30,000. All Odaka evacuees had already been awarded more than $75,000 for psychological damage, but the 321 who filed the suit said it was not nearly enough. They also feel they were slighted by this latest court award. Junichiro Hironaka, the plaintiffs' lead lawyer, said, “…the amount of compensation ordered does not correspond to the actual damages they suffered.” There is no mention in the Press reports of every man woman and child having already received roughly $400,000 in personal compensation, and each Odaka District homeowner and/or business proprietor gaining millions of dollars in compensatory restitution. It should be noted that most Odaka District evacuees had their personal compensation payments stopped in July, 2017. – one year after the evacuation order was lifted. https://mainichi.jp/english/articles/20180207/p2g/00m/0dm/064000c -- http://www.asahi.com/ajw/articles/AJ201802080065.html  
  • The above Press article adds that 2,400 of the 12,800 Odaka evacuees have returned home.A 19% repopulation level is one of the most significant of the old no-go zone and should have garnered its own news story. But, the Mainichi merely mentioned it in the mid-body of the posted report. Once again, good news about the repopulation is virtually ignored.
  • Tepco posts the full handout of last month’s investigation inside the unit #2 pedestal. The handout says no damage to the pedestal was observed, also no damage to the CRD replacement mechanism (with a picture of it). The new information includes area radiation measurements at for levels inside the pedestal. Surprisingly, the radiation readings were essentially the same from the personnel platform beneath the CRDMs, down to just above the cable tray encircling the bottom of the pedestal; about 8 sieverts per hour. Logically, if the debris on the cable tray is really re-solidified corium (formerly melted fuel), the radiation readings should have increased as the probe approached the cable tray. They didn’t! Another oddity was that the radiation levels outside the pedestal were actually higher than inside the pedestal, measuring over 40 Sieverts per hour. Several speculations on these peculiarities were offered by NHK World. https://www4.tepco.co.jp/en/nu/fukushima-np/handouts/2018/images/handouts_180201_01-e.pdf --  https://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/en/news/20180201_40/
  • This record-cold winter underscores Japan’s need for nuclear energy. Since the start of the nuclear moratorium in 2011, Tepco has totally relied on old, inefficient fossil-fueled (thermal) units and power bought from neighboring utilities to meet the peak demand periods of summer and winter. Since January 23rd, frigid temperatures have forced customers to use excessive amounts of electricity, with a peak of more than 51 gigawatts on Jan. 26. All thermal plants were at full power. A TEPCO official said, “We are in a situation in which all the thermal power plants have to be operated at full capacity.”  With snow covering solar panels, Tepco would have been forced to effect large-scale blackouts if it were not for purchased power. Even then, similar weather conditions across the Kanto region limited available electricity. One industry expert said, “In the worst case, there was the risk of a large-scale power cut.” Tokyo is not out of the woods, as yet. Harsh weather is expected to continue well into February. http://the-japan-news.com/news/article/0004222896
  • Sendai unit #1 had a capacity factor of 106.7% last year. Capacity factor of a power plant is the ratio of actual output to its potential output, if it were possible for it to operate at full nameplate capacity indefinitely. Anything over 90% is considered exemplary. Sendai #1’s best previous record was 2009 with a 105% capacity factor. http://www.jaif.or.jp/en/capacity-factor-of-sendai-1-last-year-was-106-7/
  • An emergency evacuation drill for the area around Sendai station is a success. The drill was ointly organized by the Kagoshima prefectural government and nine municipalities within 30 kilometers of the nuclear plant. About 4,400 people participated, including 1,800 local residents. Those living within 5 kilometers of the nuke were asked to evacuate by bus and personal vehicles. After they were out of the area, residents beyond 5 kilometers were told to vacate the region. This was the third such drill associated with Sendai station since 2015. https://jen.jiji.com/jc/eng?g=eco&k=2018020300370
  • Tomioka Town schools will reopen in April with about 30 students! Prior to the F. Daiichi accident, there were roughly 1,400 students enrolled. Last June, the Tomioka School Board surveyed former residents and found that only about 2%planned to return home, 11% said they “cannot make a decision”, and the rest said they would not return. Thus, the town has made the schools a community hub to link the schools with the returning townspeople. http://www.fukushimaminponews.com/news.html?id=877 
  • 70% of Japan’s utilities continue to experience falling profits due to the 2011 nuke moratorium. The three that have recovered somewhat are Kansai, Shikoku, and Okinawa Electric Companies. Kansai attributed the recovery to restart of its Takahama nuclear units 3 & 4. Shikoku profits have been bolstered by the power resumption of Ikata nuclear unit #3. Okinawa says their increased cash flow is due to cutting repair and maintenance expenses. While sales increased for all tem major utilities, the high cost of fossil fueled power resulted in less profits for seven of the companies. http://www.jaif.or.jp/en/seven-of-japans-ten-power-companies-see-falling-profits-due-to-higher-fuel-costs-key-is-restarting-npps/ -- http://www.jaif.or.jp/en/shikoku-electric-power-enjoys-increased-revenues-after-ikata-3-restart/

February 1, 2018

  • Last month’s investigation into unit #2 detected very high radiation levels. The area under the bottom head of the RPV, inside the pedestal, had a maximum reading of eight sieverts per hour. This was measured by the detector mounted on the end of the telescoping probe. This shows that removal of fuel debris in and around the pedestal will have to be undertaken with utmost caution. https://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/en/news/20180201_39/
  • The Associated Press says the “Worst-hit reactor at Fukushima may be easiest to clean up”. Unit #3 is scheduled for removal of fuel bundles from its Spent Fuel Pool (SFP) later this year. Tepco’s Daisuke Hirose said, "If you compare it with mountain climbing, we've only been preparing to climb. Now, we finally get to actually start climbing." The AP alleges that SFP defueling will the easiest of the three remaining units because of the severe damage caused by the March 14, 2011, hydrogen explosion. Unit #1 will be more difficult because of delays in removing debris and repairing key components. Unit #2 is allegedly more difficult because it had no hydrogen explosion and the walls and roof around the refueling deck remain intact, keeping the radiation inside. https://japantoday.com/category/national/worst-hit-reactor-at-fukushima-may-be-easiest-to-clean-up
  • The Japan Atomic Energy Commission has drafted potential revisions to the Nuclear Compensation System.  The report was compiled by the JAEC’s Special Committee on the Nuclear Damage Compensation System. Since 2015, the committee has debated whether the liability of nuclear operators should be limited or not. Some say nuclear operators should know the upper limit of compensation so they can set aside enough money. Others stress that the public might not readily accept a limited system which could delay or stagnate the compensation process. In order to advise the utilities on how to procure funding, the committee must consider three areas of need: the need to compensate victims promptly and fairly, the need to minimize the national financial burden, and the need for nuclear operators to anticipate possible accidents. The committee will hold more meetings to formulate its final report, taking into account its members’ opinions on the draft, consultations with the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology (MEXT), and other relevant parties’ inputs. http://www.jaif.or.jp/en/jaec-special-committee-addresses-draft-revisions-to-nuclear-damage-compensation-system/
  • Tokyo begins landfill work for disposal of contaminated soil in Ibaraki Prefecture. Ibaraki shares a border with southern Fukushima Prefecture. The landfill work will start in the village of Tokai and the town of Nasu in the spring. It is estimated that Tokai will bury 2,500 m3 of material, and Nasu 350 m3 for 30 years. https://jen.jiji.com/jc/eng?g=eco&k=2018013100890
  • The issue of Tepco refusing to accept a 2002 tsunami simulation is resurrected. The simulation was presented to Tepco and the company told the now-defunct Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency it would do nothing because the possibility of a massive tsunami was too-small to matter. NISA had no legal power to enforce its suggestion, so Tepco did not address the simulation’s conclusion that showed a small probability of a massive tsunami, similar to the one that hit F. Daiichi on 3/11/11. The 2002 rejection of the simulation has re-surfaced in a lawsuit filed by Fukushima evacuees in a Chiba court. Former NISA official Shuji Kawahara told the court the agency went along with Tepco’s opinion on the matter because the evidence for such a large tsunami was lacking. https://english.kyodonews.net/news/2018/01/2117de1b2523-govt-scrapped-proposed-fukushima-tsunami-simulation-9-yrs-before-crisis.html

January 25, 2018

Tepco’s investigation inside the unit #2 RPV pedestal with a telescoping device began last Friday. The new device we reported in our 1/11/18 Update, was used on the 19th and preliminary images were released to the Press. Several days of news stories followed, most claiming that re-solidified fuel debris was discovered.

  • Friday, January 19 - Tepco’s Press statement announces the first device insertion and provides details on the technology. http://www.tepco.co.jp/en/press/corp-com/release/2018/1473819_15409.html  A handout given to the Press graphically depicted the initial insertion and displayed images captured by the small camera on the end of the telescoping mechanism. The images show the underside of the Reactor Pressure Vessel and the debris-strewn cable tray that encircles the bottom of the pedestal area. The picture of what seems to be a hold-down clamp for a Control Rod Drive Mechanism appears to be intact, contrasting many of the CRDM clamps depicted in the unit #3 images from last year. The unit #2 Fuel Assembly replacement mechanism and the “Middle Work grating” attached to it, also appeared to be intact. This is completely unlike the unit #3 images where the mechanism and its work grating are nowhere to be found. No holes in the work platform grating were observed. Images of the cable tray depict what seems to be “sandy, clay-like deposits” and fallen fuel assembly component debris, mixed with “deposits thought to be fuel debris”. There is no mention of the observed debris containing formerly molten corium from inside the RPV. http://www.tepco.co.jp/en/nu/fukushima-np/handouts/2018/images/handouts_180119_01-e.pdf  Japan’s Pres provided scant coverage of Friday’s investigation. NHK World says that Tepco “confirmed… the existence of chunks that are believed to be a mixture of melted nuclear fuel and parts of bindings”. However this assertion is nowhere to be found in the Tepco Press release or Press handout. On the other hand, Jiji Press merely announces the initial investigation and makes no mention of finding formerly molten corium.  https://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/en/news/20180119_34/ -- https://jen.jiji.com/jc/eng?g=eco&k=2018011900662
  • Saturday, January 20 - The Press continued the unit #2 “melted fuel” speculation. Asahi Shimbun - The Asahi quoted an anonymous Tepco official, “From the look of things, it must be nuclear fuel debris.” The Asahi also alleged that one image showed a piece of the handle from a fuel bundle and that all of the fuel below the handle must have melted. In addition, The Asahi said the pebble-like debris in the images resembled material found at Three Mile Island. The Associated Press - reporter Mari Yamaguchi cited Tepco’s spokesperson Takahiro Kimoto who said, "There is so much that we still haven't seen." Undeterred, Yamaguchi speculated that the images captured “most likely melted fuel”, and that the pieces of debris resembling a fuel bundle handle was a “sign the rods melted and breached the bottom of the core.” In both articles, there is no mention that the debris is actually located on a cable tray that surrounds the base of the pedestal, or that the existence of the fuel assembly replacement mechanism virtually assures us that an RPV bottom head breach did not occur! http://www.asahi.com/ajw/articles/AJ201801200017.html -- http://abcnews.go.com/Technology/wireStory/melted-nuclear-fuel-inside-fukushima-reactor-52460806
  • Monday, January 22 – Tepco posted the new video footage taken by the telescoping probe on Friday. The video shows “cooling water falling like rain” from the underside of the RPV onto the debris. How the piece of what seems to be a fuel bundle lifting handle came to be there is “unknown” because “no large hole has been found at the reactor's bottom.” Further, Tepco advised that unit #2 damage appears to be less than with unit #3. Aside – In other words, the earlier speculation of the handle being a “sign the rods melted and breached the bottom of the core” is unfounded! - End aside. https://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/en/news/20180122_30/

January 18, 2018

  • The number of non-Japanese Fukushima visitors in 2017 topped that of 2010. Last year, 78,680 travelers came to Fukushima between January and October, and stayed one night or more. This was 790 more than the total during the same period in 2010; the year before the F. Daiichi accident. The number of October visitors was 14,290; 1.7 times more than the 8,471 in October 2010! Prefectural officials believe the growth is because of efforts to attract visitors through tourism information. Taiwan topped the charts with 18,390, followed by Thailand with 7,360. Thailand’s increase was more than a factor of six since last year. The one country with a relatively high drop in visitors was South Korea, largely due to governmental in-fighting and persistent false rumors. http://www.fukushimaminponews.com/news.html?id=873
  • Area radiation levels in the remaining evacuated areas continues to drop. In 2016, the “difficult to return” zone had its highest area radiation level of 8.89 microsieverts per hour in Katsurao. The highest level recorded in 2017 was 8.48 mSv/hr in Futaba. However, comparing the levels to Tokyo’s decontamination goal of 0.23 mSv/hr is inappropriate. Nuclear Regulation Authority Chair Toyoshi Fuketa said the goal was set for decontamination and intended to be conservative, but should now be reconsidered, "If we don't revise (that calculation) properly, it could hinder evacuees' return home." https://mainichi.jp/english/articles/20180118/p2a/00m/0na/020000c (Aside - Japan’s Press calls area radiation measurements “airborne”, which is patently incorrect. Airborne radiation is that which is emitted by radioactive gasses and dust particles suspended in the atmosphere. Radiation emitted by the earth, building materials, rocks, and etc. is termed “area radiation”. Japan’s Press is once again publishing incorrect information! – End aside.)
  • Futaba District farmers consider growing a unique type of banana. They are looking at the district as a potential cold-weather-resistant banana production center. Typically, bananas are grown and harvested in the tropics. However, an unusual type of the fruit developed in Okayama Prefecture could thrive in the district. The banana has a fast growth and maturity period of nine months, rather than the typical one-year period for most banana breeds. Most bananas sold in Japan are imported. Farming the new breed in Fukushima could give a significant boost to the local economy and promote reconstruction. http://www.fukushimaminponews.com/news.html?id=874
  • America and Japan maintain status quo on their atomic energy agreement. The Agreement for Cooperation between the Government of the United States of America and the Government of Japan Concerning Peaceful Uses of Nuclear Energy was first signed on February 26, 1968. It stated each nation’s position on nuclear energy research and development. The main interest in the agreement, at this point, concerns Japan’s growing stockpile of Plutonium extracted from used reactor fuel bundles. It "shall not be used for any nuclear explosive device, for research specifically on or development of any nuclear explosive device, or for any military purpose.” (Article 8) The current agreement was signed in November of 1987, with a 30 year statute for renegotiation. Since both parties refrained from said renegotiation in 2017, the agreement automatically renews. Either party may terminate the agreement “by giving six months written notice to the other party, to terminate this Agreement at the end of the initial thirty-year period or at any time thereafter.” The agreement will renew in July. The opportunity to reopen negotiations was discussed with Deputy Secretary of Energy Dan Brouillette during his October visit to Japan. Japan’s Foreign Ministry has said there is a mutual trust between Japan and America, so renegotiation is not necessary. https://mainichi.jp/english/articles/20180116/p2a/00m/0na/017000c -- http://www.nti.org/media/pdfs/StateandJapanPeaceNuc1987.pdf?_=1316627913 (The Agreement)

January 11, 2018

  • The $5 billion “Operation Tomodachi” lawsuit is dismissed! The suit was filed in a United States court last August by 157 plaintiffs, including crewmembers of the USS Ronald Reagan, claiming mental and physical damages from F. Daiichi accident radioactive releases. Tepco says the suit was turned down by the California court last Friday citing a lack of authority to try the case! The court hinted that it does not prevent the plaintiffs from re-filing with a modified complaint that would allow the claim to be heard. https://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/en/news/20180111_33/
  • Japan’s nuclear watchdog says the wastewater at F. Daiichi should be released to the sea after treatment and dilution. More than a million tons of coolant have been stripped all radioactive isotopes but biologically-innocuous Tritium, which cannot be removed because it is part of the water molecules themselves. Nuclear Regulation Authority Chair Toyoshi Fuketa has told Naraha Mayor Yukiei Matsumoto, "We will face a new challenge if a decision (about the release) is not made within this year. It is scientifically clear that there will be no influence to marine products or to the environment." He advised Tepco to make the right choice soon because it could take 2 or 3 years to prepare the harmless release. Fuketa has said this a few times before, but unbridled radiophobia has kept it from happening. https://english.kyodonews.net/news/2018/01/051637d5621b-regulator-urges-release-of-treated-fukushima-radioactive-water-into-sea.html
  • A new telescoping device will look underneath the unit #2 RPV pedestal. Last July, a submersible robot provided images of the underside of unit #3 Reactor Pressure Vessel and its CRDMs (Control Rod Drive Mechanisms). It is hoped the new probe will provide similar scanning of the underside of unit #2 RPV and CRDMs. The device consists in an external telescopic “guiding pipe”, with its final section holding two miniature cameras, a dosimeter, and thermometer. One camera can be pan-tilted 120o vertically and 360o horizontally, and can be lowered by a power cable. The investigative tools can absorb up to 1,000 Gy of radiation exposure. The last unit #2 excursion sent mechanized robots inside the unit #2 Primary Containment (PCV), but blocking debris and higher-than-expected radiation fields resulted in the probe not being able to enter inside the pedestal. The new device was shipped to F. Daiichi on December 22, 2017, and is expected to be used at some point in January-February of this year. http://www.jaif.or.jp/en/toshiba-ess-irid-develop-device-to-investigate-interior-of-primary-containment-vessel-at-fukushima-daiichi-2-npp/
  • A Tokyo antinuclear group formally proposes a government bill to stop nuke restarts and abolish nuclear energy. Headed by fanatic ex-Prime Ministers Junichiro Koizumi and Morihiro Hosokawa, the group includes activists and scholars who also have the samedevoted opinion. Koizumi said, “We will definitely abolish all nuclear plants in the near future with support from a majority of the public.” He then followed with the opinion that the Japanese public will be “awakened” if the bill is introduced into the Diet, assuming nuclear energy will be quickly abolished. The group will submit the bill to the minority Constitutional Party of Japan and perhaps the tiny Hope Party. Lawyer Hiroyuki Kawai made the group’s singular aim clear, “The name of the game is the immediate halt on nuclear plants!” Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said the government support for nuke restarts “will not change”, however, "We will also seek to lower the dependence on nuclear power as much as possible by maximizing the use of renewable energy and the thorough implementation of energy-saving measures." http://www.asahi.com/ajw/articles/AJ201801110038.html -- https://mainichi.jp/english/articles/20180111/p2g/00m/0dm/002000c

January 4, 2018

  • Fukushima farmers consider an international system to thwart false rumors. They will look to certification through the Good Agricultural Practice system (GAP), recommended by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Fukushima Prefecture has designed its own version, dubbed FGAP, which adds countermeasures for detecting radioactive contamination. The prefecture will cover all costs associated with gaining FGAP certification. The Farm Ministry calls GAP an “effective method to raise [consumer] confidence.” http://www.fukushimaminponews.com/news.html?id=872
  • Tepco investigates the possibility of joint refueling and maintenance outages. Japanese BWRs need to be shut down every 13 months to exchange a third of its used fuel bundles for new ones and effect planned maintenance. Tepco believes that collaborating with other utilities using BWRs could end up improving efficiency and save some money for everyone. It is possible that similar partnerships with PWR-based companies could also be efficacious. Some immediate candidates for regular outage collaboration include Chubu Electric, Tohoku Electric, Japan Atomic, and Hokuriku Electric Power Companies. The concept of joint operating management of new nukes, such as Higashidori Station in Aomori Prefecture, is also being considered. https://japantoday.com/category/national/tepco-mulls-joint-reactor-checkup-with-other-utilities-to-cut-costs  
  • The New York Times posts a Fukushima article fraught with avoidable errors. Early on, the piece alleges that 16,000 people have died due to the nuke accident. Actually, 1,600 Fukushima residents died due to the earthquake, tsunami and chaotic evacuation. Also, there were 16,000 confirmed deaths along the entire Tohoku coastline due to the earthquake and tsunami, not the nuke accident! The Times next suggests the Fukushima City baseball games are being used to make visitors overlook the “extensive damage” caused by the nuke accident on the Pacific coast. Actually, the extensive damage on the coast was caused by the quake and tsunami, not the nuke accident. In addition, the report says there are 120,000 residents “who still cannot – and may never – return to their homes.”  The number still officially barred from their homes is actually in the 25,000 range. At least the Times cited Governor Uchibori, who said he could not “find any negative point” about the decision to have Fukushima City host some of the games… but it is buried deeply in the article. Another mistake is found in the explanation of a posted picture, which says a majority of Namie Town’s pre-accident population have refused to return home and “asked for their homes to be demolished instead.” Actually, there are 8,700 Fukushima homes scheduled for demolition. 7,000 are along the prefecture’s Pacific coastline, caused by the 3/11/11 quake & tsunami, not by the nuke accident! Several hundred of them are in Namie. Such shoddy reporting is inexcusable, especially for a Press outlet as highly respected as the Times. https://www.nytimes.com/2017/12/29/sports/fukushima-nuclear-disaster-tokyo-olympics.html?_r=1
  • One of Japan’s minor antinuclear political parties gets free promotion from the Asahi Shimbun. Touted as “the main opposition party” to Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, the Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan (CDP) plans to introduce a bill to the Tokyo government (Diet) to abolish nuclear energy and wholly rely on renewables to cover the lost base load. The bill is believed to focus on helping utilities decommission existing nukes and create jobs in host communities to cover the loss of nuclear plant employment and tax income. One caveat is that nukes will be allowed to operate if Japan was faced with a cut-off in fossil fuel imports. Aside – the CDP is the “main opposition party” by a grand total of five seats in the Diet, outnumbering the now defunct “Party of Hope” 55-50. PM Abe’s “Governing Coalition” holds sway with 313 of 465 possible seats. The Asahi touts a decided minority only because it is antinuclear. – End aside.  http://www.asahi.com/ajw/articles/AJ201801030040.html

December 28, 2017

  • Tritium and radioactive strontium in Fukushima-area fish are barely detectible. Tritium levels in the muscle of three flatfish caught between July 21 and September of 2017 is lower than the concentration in the surrounding seawater. In fact, no organically-bound Tritium was detected. The Strontium-90 found in the muscle of five angel sharks was less than a Becquerel per kilogram, with the lowest being 0.013 Bq/kg. https://www4.tepco.co.jp/en/nu/fukushima-np/f1/smp/2017/images/fish01_171221-e.pdf
  • Rural decontamination begins in Futaba, which co-hosts F. Daiichi. This is the first “difficult to return zone” to have such work done. At present, the cost of clean-up and infrastructure repair will be borne by Tokyo. Futaba town mayor Shiro Izawa said, ”We want you to carry out the work, while thinking about the feelings of the citizens who are waiting for the day when they can return. Feeling progress in procedures toward reconstruction through the construction would help stimulate the motivation of town people to return here." A partial lifting of the evacuation order is expected in 2020, and a full rescinding in 2022. https://english.kyodonews.net/news/2017/12/3cee32941963-radiation-cleanup-work-begins-in-fukushima-nuclear-plant-town.html
  • The NRA approves restarts for Kashiwazaki-Kariwa units #6 &#7. On Wednesday, the Nuclear Regulation Authority unanimously endorsed the safety upgrades mandated by Tokyo’s much-improved nuclear safety standards. This is the first restart approval for Tepco, and the first for Boiling Water Reactors. The NRA acknowledged the large number of negative public comments submitted since October, but found that they were essentially unfounded because the safety inspections for the K-K units were far-more-stringent than the new regulations call for, largely because the station is owned and operated by Tepco. All Japanese popular Press outlets erroneously state that the two ABWR (Advanced Boiling Water Reactor) units are the same as the three that suffered meltdowns at F. Daiichi. But, they are not! The operating and safety systems are more forgiving than the four damaged F. Daiichi units. Plus the containment structure is much larger and far-more robust than those for F. Daiich1 units #1 through #4. Regardless, this brings the number of nuclear units approved by the NRA for restart to fourteen. https://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/en/news/20171227_09/ -- http://www.hitachi-hgne.co.jp/en/download/abwr.pdf -- http://www.jaif.or.jp/en/kashiwazaki-kariwa-6-7-clear-safety-examinations-first-bwrs/
  • A smattering of protestors opposed the NRA approval of K-K restarts. NHK World estimated that “about 20” people demonstrated outside the NRA headquarters in Tokyo. Two issues were central to their displeasure. First, they believe Tepco is unfit to operate reactors in Japan. Former Kawasaki public official Yoshinari Usui said, "Tepco has no technical qualifications to run a nuclear power plant after causing such an accident. The restart of the Kashiwazaki-Kariwa units is totally unacceptable."  Second, they believe the “victims” of the accident have not been given relief, despite each of the more than 75,000 mandated evacuees having already received more than $700,000 in personal compensation and property owners substantially more! One protestor even chided the NRA approval, saying "It is not a technical or scientific assessment, but a political one."   https://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/en/news/20171227_13/ --  http://www.tepco.co.jp/en/comp/images/jisseki-e.pdf -- https://mainichi.jp/english/articles/20171227/p2g/00m/0dm/051000c
  • A Prolonged delay in restarting Kashiwazaki-Kariwa #6 & #7 will cost locals more than $10 million! Annual grants for hosting nuke stations are currently at more than 1.2 billion yen per year; currently $10.7 million. Co-host communities Kashiwazaki and Kariwa stand to lose a combined $4.45 million and Niigata Prefecture $6.6 million per year if restarts are delayed by nine months after the NRA fully certifies resumption of operations. The most-probable hold-up will be Governor Ryuichi Yoneyama, whose independent investigation into the cause of the F. Daiichi meltdowns will take two to four more years. He acknowledges the NRA approval of plant safety, but refuses to agree to restarts until his independent review is completed, "I have no intention of objecting to the decision by the NRA. [But] Our examination will never be affected” by NRA approvals of plant operations. http://www.asahi.com/ajw/articles/AJ201712280035.html -- https://mainichi.jp/english/articles/20171228/p2a/00m/0na/008000c  
  • Shikoku Electric Co. has filed an objection to the Hiroshima court injunction against the operation of Ikata unit #3. The unit has been in a refueling and scheduled maintenance outage since October. The court rendered its injunction based on the hypothesis that a worst-case eruption of Mt. Aso on neighboring Kyushu Island could cause a Fukushima-level nuclear accident. Lava fragment 90,000 years old were used as the most compelling evidence. On the other hand, Shikoku Electric says the evidence supplied to the court by the company was not used in the case, so it has asked that the enactment of the court order be suspended. Regardless, it appears that the anticipated February restart of Ikata #3 could be in jeopardy. https://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/en/news/20171222_01/
  • Former PM Junichiro Koizumi continues his fanatic antinuclear crusade. Now, he promises to announce a “bill” next month to abandon nukes and pursue natural energy. Koizumi’s “bill” comes from Genjiren, an antinuclear-pro-natural energy confederation. Koizumi hopes to ask current Diet members to formally present the “bill” to the Lower House. Koizumi demands that all idled nukes not be restarted and replaced by renewables. He often asserts, "Japan can get along with zero nuclear power plants." http://www.asahi.com/ajw/articles/AJ201712220043.html

December 21, 2017

  • Naraha’s population has increased to 30% of its pre-nuke accident level. This fact is buried in a Japan News (Yomiuri Shimbun) article on the illumination of holiday lights. The article says, “As of last month, the population of the town was only around 30 percent of what it was before the disaster.” The 2010 census lists the town population at 7,700, and the October 2016 listing shows 976. However, at 30%, the current population is about 2,300. This means that roughly 1,400 people returned home over the past 13 months, and the body of the Japanese Press has disregarded it! https://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/en/news/20171217_01/ -- https://www.citypopulation.de/php/japan-fukushima.php?cityid=07542 –- https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Naraha,_Fukushima  (Once again, we have a significant news story concerning Fukushima recovery completely ignored by the Japanese and international Press, simply because it promises to make the repopulation situation look much less dismal than what has been reported to date!)
  • One Canadian Salmon has been found to contain a trace of Fukushima Cesium. The concentration is 0.07 Becquerels per kilogram of Cs-134 (the Fukushima “fingerprint” isotope) and 0.51 Bq/kg of Cs-137. This is more than 1,700 times less than Canada’s “action level”, and has essentially no known health risk. The salmon was one of nine selected from the 123 biotic monitoring samples initially tested by Fukushima InFORM in 2016. After initial 6-hour analysis identified traces of Cs-137 in the nine fish, and extended 2-week analysis was performed on each. The longer monitoring period allowed detection of the tiniest trace of Cs-134, if it was actually present. This is analogous to extending exposure time on a camera to enhance image details in low-light conditions. The InFORM article reads, “So, rest easy the next time you wish to enjoy seafood. It continues to be a healthy component of the normal diet. Bon appétit!” https://fukushimainform.ca/2017/12/18/one-salmon-found-with-fukushima-contamination-in-2016-after-extended-measurement/
  • Fukushima Sake sees a significant upswing in exports. The 169 kiloliters exported in fiscal 2016 was an increase of 30% over fiscal 2015. It was also double the amount shipped in 2012. In fact, the 2016 sales topped 216 million yen for the first time! The prefecture believes the upswing was due to a concerted effort in dispelling harmful rumors. The country with the greatest increase in Fukushima Sake imports was the United States, which more than doubled from 2012. The prefecture plans to further extend rumor control worldwide, and see what effect it has. http://www.fukushimaminponews.com/news.html?id=871
  • The second annual robot competition is held in Naraha. The first contest last year witnessed none of the contestants traversed the obstacles in total darkness, which is one of the requirements. In addition, radio waves were often unsuccessful in penetrating thick concrete walls, and those that overcame this problem kept participants from meeting time limits! There were two terrains: (1) A mockup staircase had to be climbed while carrying a 5 kilogram object, off-load it, and return to home within a specified time, and (2) finding an object left in an unknown location, traversing uneven terrain. The results were much better this year, with three teams completing the stair-climbing competition, and two teams successfully traversing the uneven terrain. The over-all winner was Nara Hairo-Robocon Club of the National Institute of Technology, Nara College, which won the MEXT Minister’s award. http://www.jaif.or.jp/en/16-teams-compete-in-second-hairo-sozo-robot-contest-in-naraha-town/
  • The worst Fukushima food phobia seems to be in Asia. This was discovered by a survey of 12,500 people in Japan and around the world by the Tokyo and Fukushima Universities. More people in Asia said they are “worried about agricultural products from the prefecture” than the United States or Europe. Taiwan had the highest percentage at 81%, followed by South Korea (69%) and China (66%). On the other hand, the negativity was 56% in Russia, 55.7% for Germany, 40% in France, 36% in the United States, and 29% for Great Britain. Surprisingly, “only) 30% 0f Japan had the concern! This suggests that the more aggressive transmission of Fukushima Food product monitoring in Japan might need to become the case around the world. Naoya Sekiya of Tokyo University said, “It is necessary to more aggressively transmit information about the system of examination for radioactive substances and their results.” Ryota Koyama of Fukushima University echoed his words, “(it is) important for the government to explain to foreign countries in a careful manner what has changed between right after the nuclear accident and the present. The prefecture and other parties concerned, building on that, should push ahead with exploitation of new markets, branding and other efforts.” http://www.fukushimaminponews.com/news.html?id=870
  • Hitachi’s head says Japan should be bullish on nuclear power. Hitachi President Toshiai Higashihara believes nuclear ought to be Japan’s baseload power source, “We need to consider issues such as the environment, stable energy supply, and securing manpower for reactor decommissioning in a comprehensive manner. Nuclear power should be the country’s baseload power source.” When asked about a possible global nuclear realignment with Toshiba and Mitsubishi, he said, “It’s not something that one single manufacturer should think about. It requires discussion as the issue concerns global energy policy.” https://mainichi.jp/english/articles/20171219/p2a/00m/0na/010000c
  • Kansai Electric Company consider decommissioning Oi units #1 & #2. The final decision will be announced at the company’s Friday Board meeting. These will be the first large, gigawatt-rated nukes to be scrapped in Japan. Both were placed in operation in 1979, and will reach the in-principle 40-year licensing limit in less than two years. The problem with the two large units is their containment system; both are the ice-condenser type. Some 1,250 tons of block ice are inside the containments to be used to quench any steam released from the primary system during an accident condition. The Nuclear Regulation Authority has not yet created new safety regulations for ice condenser containments, and it is expected that the time table for making the rules will be lengthy and result in not allowing the unit’s operation enough time to recover the costs of meeting the new rules. The company plans on upgrading seven units at three stations: Oi, Mihama, and Takahama. The total cost of upgrades to meet Japan’s current regulations is estimated at about $7.4 billion. https://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/en/news/20171220_21/ -- http://www.asahi.com/ajw/articles/AJ201712200050.html


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