Fukushima 127... 9/25/2020-11/13/2020

November 13, 2020

  • Fukushima’s governor visits F. Daiichi to check the status of decommissioning and ALPS. ALPS is the acronym for the multi-nuclide removal system. During the tour, Governor Uchibori addressed the hard-working staff, "The steady progress of decommissioning work over the past year is thanks to every single person involved in decommissioning. I would like to express sincere gratitude to everyone. In order to proceed (sic) the decommissioning work smoothly, it is essential for every one of you to stay healthy and well. Please take care and be safe." https://www.tepco.co.jp/en/hd/newsroom/announcements/archives/2020/20201106_02.html -- https://photo.tepco.co.jp/en/date/2020-e/202011-e/201106-01e.html (photos)
  • The Nuclear Regulation Authority says F. Daiichi unit #3 suffered at least two explosions. The regulator has based their conclusion on video images of the catastrophic hydrogen explosion taken on March 14, 2011, and visual inspection of the third floor, just below the refueling deck. The NRA has also concluded that the explosion caused an internal pressure of up to five atmospheres, causing the rapid disassembly of the upper unreinforced concrete structure. A first explosion damaged the fourth floor, rapidly followed by a second hydrogen explosion. A revised report is being drawn up and could be released as early as December. https://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/en/news/20201113_10/
  • Miyagi’s governor approves the restart of Onagawa unit #2. The combined assemblies of co-hosts Onagawa Town and Ishinomaki City have already extended approval. Governor Murai Yoshihiro called it a tough decision, but said nukes are a key to the electric power base in the prefecture that provides jobs and enhances the local economy. He stressed the unit has been proven safe by the NRA. On the other hand, some local residents say the restart is being rushed and that existing evacuation plans are flawed. One aged fisherman who has opposed the plant since its inception, says, The evacuation plan is absolutely unrealistic, and escaping safely is impossible.” He also fear for the health of his great-grandchild due to radiation exposure. https://english.kyodonews.net/news/2020/11/94a3a6fb19e7-breaking-news-tsunami-hit-reactor-in-northeast-japan-gets-final-approval-to-restart.html -- https://mainichi.jp/english/articles/20201112/p2a/00m/0na/026000c
  • Miyagi Prefecture will allow sending iodine tablets by mail to protect against COVID19 spread. The prefecture has regularly administered to about 750 people who live within 5 kilometers of Onagawa Nuclear Station. Those who will get their iodine by mail are required to attend a briefing on possible side effects and watch a video on the governor’s website. https://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/en/news/20201109_33/
  • The NRA says the changes to Japan’s new used fuel storage facility are safe. The facility in Mutsu, Aomori Prefecture, has previously passed the NRA’s safety screening and can begin receiving used fuel bundles in 2021. Actual recycling will take place at Rokkasho Reprocessing Plant in Aomori Prefecture, once it begins operation. The NRA commissioner’s vote was unanimous. NRA Chairman Toyoshi Fuketa says, “Although the facility is a very passive facility generally, and there was not much discussion on safety matters, the process took a very long time.” The Recycled-fuel Storage Center is the first in Japan. It has been co-built by Tepco and Japan Atomic Power Company. It has a storage capacity of 5,000 tons and will store the used bundles for up to 50 years. It will take in fuel from Tepco’s Kashiwazaki-Kariwa Station in Niigata Prefecture, JAPC’s Tokai II Station in Ibaraki Prefecture, and JAPC’s Tsuruga Station in Fukui Prefecture. https://www.jaif.or.jp/en/japans-nra-approves-changes-to-mutsu-recyclable-fuel-storage-center-after-confirming-regulatory-compliance/ -- https://the-japan-news.com/news/article/0006922266

November 6, 2020

  • Japan’s Business Federation (Keidanren) calls for more nukes and more women on corporate boards. In its new energy growth strategy, it feels developing safer nukes and having them under construction by 2030, a “necessity”. Why? Because to current effort to have net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050 ism insufficient to meet that goal. In addition, the strategy encourages increasing the ratio of women, foreign nationals and mid-career workers among others on boards of directors. It says that women should populate 30% of executive positions, including board members, corporate officers and other senior positions. https://the-japan-news.com/news/article/0006897561
  • Tepco finishes a wood incinerator at F. Daiichi for trees cut down to make room for wastewater storage tanks. The trees have low level contamination from the 2011 nuke accident. The facility has filters to remove contamination. It is scheduled to begin operation in March after final inspection. More than 100,000 cubic meters of the wood will be incinerated. The company says it will dispose of the ash in a responsible fashion. https://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/en/news/20201101_17/
  • Eight northern prefectures want Tokyo to publicize “precise information on Tritium”. The eight include Fukushima, Hokkaido, and Niigata. An agreement was adopted at a meeting of the governors held in Fukushima City. They feel that domestic and overseas understanding of the purified wastewater is insufficient to stem reputational damage should the liquids be released to the sea. Their agreement says Tokyo should "fully discuss the effects (of the treated water) on the environment, prudentially examine how to dispose of wastewater while carefully explaining to the general public, and send out precise information at home and abroad. (Including) proper disclosure of specific measures to address reputational damage." Fukushima Gov. Masao Uchibori has already stated that precise information on treated water has yet to fully get through to the public. Their objections will probably be brought up at the next National Governors' Association meeting. (Aside – Tokyo has been doing this over the years that the issue has existed. Thus, the reasons behind the formal agreement are unfounded. – End aside)   http://www.fukushimaminponews.com/news.html?id=1032
  • Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga indicates that he does not plan to build new nuclear power plants right now. When pressured by Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan leader Yukio Edano about building new nukes, Suga answered, “I am not considering building new nuclear plants at this point.” He added, "There has been no change in the (former) government's policy." Edano reiterated his 10-yea-oldr antinuclear mantra that many people were forced to evacuate after the 2011 accident at F. Daiichi, making building a new nuclear plant inconceivable. At the same meeting, Industry Minister Hiroshi Kajiyama said, “To ensure that nuclear power can be used as an option even in 2050, we will move forward with efforts to constantly improve safety, including the development of technologies such as ‘new innovative reactors."   https://the-japan-news.com/news/article/0006908268 -- https://jen.jiji.com/jc/eng?g=eco&k=2020110400708 -- https://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/en/news/20201104_32/
  • Some problems at nuclear plants will not be made public until after they have been resolved. Specifically, those at a nuke unit’s terrorism-response facility. The Nuclear Regulation Authority decided that these critical back-up facilities must receive sensitive informational coverage. While the NRA immediately announces trouble at a nuclear plant, it says it has decided on this exception to avoid the risk of terrorists gaining details about such facilities. Professor Kamisato Tatsuhiro at Chiba University says the central government and power utilities should restrict what they say about the situation until after is has been resolved. https://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/en/news/20201104_37/
  • Japan’s anti-nuclear Asahi Shimbun feels it newsworthy to announce that only one of the nation’s nukes now operates. Nine units at five stations have been restarted after meeting Japan’s post-F. Daiichi safety regulations. With the shutdown of Oi unit #4 for regular inspection and refueling, only Genkai unit #4 remains in operation. Most of the shuttered nukes are due to their being unable to meet the NRA’s aggressive deadline for completing anti-terrorism, remote operation facilities. One unit, Ikata #3, was shut down due to a Hiroshima High Court decision. It is unlikely to restart before this coming March, if the court’s decision is reversed. None of the shuttered units are expected to restart before the last week of December, when Takahama #3’s remote operating facility is scheduled to be operational. http://www.asahi.com/ajw/articles/13900336
  • A new anti-nuclear documentary says the hypothetical risks of low level exposure are deadly. Paris-based filmmaker Kenichi Watanabe’s scare-mongering film… Our friend the atom--A century of radioactivity… has been conveniently timed for release at the 10th anniversary of the nuke accident. Watanabe says, “Focusing on radioactivity, I want to reconstruct the idea that ‘nuclear energy and atomic weapons are inseparable.’” His ignorant creation includes interviews with a soldier who observed a nuke weapon’s test in Nevada, a fishing boat crew member who saw a Bikini Atoll blast, Americans exposed to harmless levels of radiation during Operation Tomodachi following the F. Daiichi accident and one person who had thyroid surgery after the nuke accident. (Aside – it sounds as if all the “evidence” is merely hearsay! – End aside) http://www.asahi.com/ajw/articles/13850920

October 30, 2020

  • Seko Hirosige of Japan’s LDP says nuclear power is needed to meet the nation’s zero emission goals. The Liberal Democratic Party has been in control of the Tokyo government since the year after the Great East Japan Earthquake and Tsunami Disaster of March 2011. Seko is the Upper House Secretary General, and former Industry Minister. He presented his pro-nuclear stance in support of PM Suga Yoshihide’s policy report of the previous day. On October 26, Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga declared that Japan would aim for net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050—“2050 carbon neutral”—and a carbon-free society. While promoting hydrogen and other more popular renewable energy sources, Seko admitted that the one source that can provide massive energy supplies without carbon pollution is nuclear. He said restarting nukes must include utmost safety measures, but building new nukes is also important. Thttps://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/en/news/20201027_31/ -- https://www.jaif.or.jp/en/toward-realization-of-a-carbon-neutral-carbon-free-society-by-2050/
  • Tokyo’s pro-nuclear position is also supported by Japan’s largest news outlet…The Yomiuri Shimbun (Japan News). It says that while most Japanese want to use wind and solar to replace fossil fuels, that hope is unrealistic for a number of reasons. The Yomiuri op-ed piece written by Yoshiyuki Kasai, chairmanemeritus of Central Japan Railway Co., concludes, “Japan has no choice but to utilize nuclear power plants that emit no CO2, as a realistic solution to ensure affordable, stable electricity supply from decarbonized power sources. The typical Japanese way of turning one’s eyes away from inconvenient realties, deferring any solution by repeating belated and insufficient stopgap measures and coming up with really needed measures only in the end, would consequently force the country to pay a heavy price.” https://the-japan-news.com/news/article/0006896416
  • The power of art may reverse the nuke accident’s negative legacy in Futaba. While residents are still forbidden to repopulate F. Daiichi’s co-host community, the new JR Futaba train station is operating to carry nuclear workers to and from the plant. The first of a planned series of murals on the walls of shops near the station is nearly completed. It depicts a woman peeking through a doughnut hole. She is supposed to look like a lady who ran a popular fast-food shop in front of the old station. High school students frequented the shop before the 2011 quake-tsunami calamity. The woman who ran the shop said, “I was like their mom back then. I’m glad they remember me.” Her son has reopened the eatery inside the area where the no-go order was partially rescinded in March. Head artist Jo Takasaki said, “Together with the residents of the town, we want this to be a spark to make Futaba a place where many people will come.” Support artist Takato Akazawa added, “I hope the project will serve as a beacon of the development of a new town where young people can gather.” https://the-japan-news.com/news/article/0006882942
  • The imminent decision to release the wastewater from F. Daiichi is delayed! Two weeks ago, a government council announced that a decision on disposal would be made by the end of the month... perhaps as early as October 27th However, a whirlwind of formal objections has compelled Tokyo to back off on the plans. Late last Friday, Industry Minister Hiroshi Kajiyama said, “We don’t have to decide on Oct. 27. We are not in a situation where we need to cite a specific timing for making the decision. We want to proceed with the matter carefully." His comments came on the heels of JF Zengyoren, the national federation of fisheries cooperatives, reiterating its fierce opposition to the planned ocean release, “We are totally opposed to discharging the water into the ocean. It will never gain the support of fishermen or the public.” Why? In the words of Zengyoren official Hiroshi Kishi, “After all, it is water treated after it was exposed to the reactor core.” Nuclear Regulation Authority Chair Toyoshi Fuketa echoes the largely paranoiac rationale, “We are aware of the strong psychological and social resistance as it is the water that circulated around the reactor core.” Since April, the government has held seven official meetings to address the realities of the issue with local officials and looked at more than 4,000 written public opinions, all of which either said they were concerned about the impact on public health or doubted the decision making process.   http://www.asahi.com/ajw/articles/13866474 -- https://english.kyodonews.net/news/2020/10/48bd30f5c630-japan-puts-off-decision-to-release-treated-fukushima-water-into-sea.html 

October 23, 2020

The F. Daiichi wastewater issue continues to make radiophobic headlines across Japan, with no mention of Tepco’s discovery that running the liquid through ALPS a second time reduces all radioisotopic concentrations below national standards, except for Tritium, which is totally harmless...

  • A Japanese civic group says Tokyo should consider even more F. Daiichi wastewater options. At a Tuesday news conference, The Citizens' Commission on Nuclear Energy said the liquid should not be released until all opposition has been heard because the government would be “trampling” on the feelings of local officials. The options proposed include building larger capacity tanks sufficient to wait for natural radioactive decay to reduce the levels down to nothing, and/or make cement with it and handle it as solid radioactive waste. Unfortunately, both ideas merely delay the inevitable. https://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/en/news/20201020_37/
  • An Economy Ministry task force looks at local public reactions about the wastewater disposal issue. Economy Minister Kajiyama Hiroshi continues to say he will soon decide on the issue so that it does not adversely impact the recovery schedule. Today, the task force perused the views shared at seven hearings that summarized the expressed opinions. About 2,700 citizens say they are concerned about safety and 1,400 said the plan was not approved by the public. Others said they wanted measures taken to to keep harmful rumors at bay. https://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/en/news/20201023_19/
  • China adds to the F. Daiichi wastewater problem. Beijing says Japan should consult with all neighboring countries before disposal of the essentially harmless liquid. China's Foreign Ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijian said China hopes the Japanese government will disclose relevant information in an accurate, open and transparent manner. He added that the Ministry hopes Japan will "make prudent decisions after full consultation with neighboring countries." Obviously, either China has been oblivious to Japan’s repeated efforts to do both over the past several years, or they are just trying to exacerbate the centuries-old problems between the two nations. https://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/en/news/20201020_20/
  • New Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga said Wednesday that Tokyo will swiftly decide on what to do with the waste water. At a news conference in Jakarta, Suga stated, "There has been no decision on when or how to deal with the water. We cannot postpone the issue forever. We would like to make a decision responsibly as soon as possible." Unfortunately, this has been the “party line” out of Tokyo for three years. This reporter will not believe a swift decision will happen!  https://english.kyodonews.net/news/2020/10/4b526e849bdb-suga-vows-swift-decision-on-release-of-fukushima-radioactive-water.html

     Now, here’s more Fukushima and related news… 

  • Two new Tokyo ministers visit F. Daiichi, but Japan’s popular Press ignores it. On Sunday, October 18th. Minister of Health, Labor and Welfare, Norihisa Tamura, and Minister of Economic Revitalization, Yasutoshi Nishimura, made visits on the same day. Both were briefed on the status of then 1.23 million tons of wastewater stored on site. Both had been there before and said that there has been a lot of change. Minister Tamura said, "Seven years have passed since my last visit, and I can see that the situation has changed significantly in comparison. Radiation levels have decreased, progress has been made with the removal of rubble, and the work environment has improved.” He added, “Since guidelines were given by the Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare, there have been no accidents involving fatalities, and injuries have decreased. I can see that labor safety and health are being excellently managed.” Only Tepco’s newsroom reported on the visit!   https://www.tepco.co.jp/en/hd/newsroom/announcements/archives/2020/20201019_01.html -- https://www.tepco.co.jp/en/hd/newsroom/announcements/archives/2020/20201019_02.html
  • Miyagi Prefecture’s Assembly approves the restart of Onagawa unit #2. Actually, they approved a restart petition submitted by the local commerce and industry association demanding an expedient restart. The petition was approved by a vote of 35 to 19 on Thursday. Combined with The pre-existing restart approval of the Ishinomaki and Onagawa Assemblies, this makes Governor Yoshihiro Murai’s agreement even more likely. https://jen.jiji.com/jc/eng?g=eco&k=2020102300440
  • On the Coronavirus front, Japanese researchers prove that wearing masks retards the social intake of COVID 19 and reduce its spread. A team led by Professor Kawaoka Yoshihiro and Project Assistant Professor Ueki Hiroshi at the University of Tokyo's Institute of Medical Science used actual virus and human-like mannequins to draw their conclusions. One head, fitted with a nebulizer, simulated coughing and expelled actual coronavirus particles. The other mimicked natural breathing, with a collection chamber for viruses coming through the airway. With a cloth mask the transfer of inhaled droplets dropped by 17% and a surgical mask revealed a reduction of 47%. However, the N95 medical mask removed 79% of the droplets. When an exhaling mannequin wore a mask, a non-mask wearer’s intake dropped 70%. Professor Kawaoka said this was the first such test run anywhere in the world. He added that while nothing is 100% effective, they had confirmed the importance of wearing a mask. Why this important finding has not been roundly reported in the American popular Press, is a mystery. https://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/en/news/20201022_02/ -- https://japantoday.com/category/national/japan-researchers-show-masks-do-block-coronavirus-but-not-perfectly 

October 16, 2020

  • Fukushima fisheries will resume full operation next April. The Prefectural Federation of Fisheries unanimously agreed on this on September 29th. This is the first such target date set since the quake/tsunami of March 2011 devastated the Tohoku coastline. All commercial fishing operations have ceased since then, except for so-called ”test” operations over the past few years. However, specific days on which full fishing can occur and how close the boats can approach F. Daiichi will continue under essentially self-imposed restriction. It seems the 10 kilometer distance restriction from the nuke station will continue. Federation chief Tetsu Nozaki says, “We have been able to come this far at long last. We would like to hold talks steadily among fishery operators and put full operations into practice.” http://www.fukushimaminponews.com/news.html?id=1028
  • The Yomiuri Shimbun says Tokyo will allow the sea release of F. Daiichi wastewater. The opposition is based on the fear that Fukushima’s fishing industry will collapse due to false rumors. One Soma fisherman said, "We are terrified that if even one fish is found to have exceeded the (radiation) safety standards after the treated water is released, people's trust in us will plummet.” However, some local fishermen have conceded that a sea release may be the only rational solution. One said, "It has already been ten years since the nuclear accident. It can't be helped. There is no way that the problem is going to be solved by keeping the water in tanks when you've got rain and groundwater seeping into the plant.” On the other hand, one fisheries official makes an irrational counter argument, “It’s too soon.” Meanwhile, Tokyo continues to avoid making the inevitable, albeit unpopular decision to make a sea release. Trade Minister Kajiyama Hiroshi reiterates that Tokyo will reach a conclusion as early as possible, which has been the state’s position for nearly three years.  https://english.kyodonews.net/news/2020/10/b8be9bba5e9b-fishermen-worry-over-plan-to-release-fukushima-plants-water.html -- https://the-japan-news.com/news/article/0006864281 --  https://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/en/news/20201016_08/
  • A government ministerial council says the F. Daiichi wastewater disposal issue will be decided later this month. The decision follows months of briefings with local governments and related organizations in the public and private sectors. One senior government official says, "We had a total of 43 participants from 29 organizations in the hearings, including the latest session, such as Fukushima Prefecture and other local municipalities, agricultural, forestry and fisheries groups, fishing operators, and economic organizations." Fisheries official Hiroshi Kishi voices his stern opposition tom a sea discharge, "It could have a catastrophic impact on the future of our country's fisheries. We are resolutely against it as a consensus of fishery operators." As always, the fisheries offer no alternative that might satisfy them. https://jen.jiji.com/jc/eng?g=eco&k=2020101600315 --  https://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/en/news/20201016_24/ --https://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/en/news/20201016_24/ -- http://www.fukushimaminponews.com/news.html?id=1029
  • Tepco reports that a second F. Daiichi wastewater treatment lowers all residual radioisotopes below national limits, except for biologically-innocuous Tritium. The performance of the Advanced Liquid Processing System (ALPS) as a secondary treatment has been tested since September. About 1,000 tons of wastewater initially run through the ALPS system, was run through a second time, and all non-Tritium radioisotopes were lowered to below Tokyo’s limits. Tepco thus decided to re-treat the roughly 800,000 tons that have been already treated, but have radioisotopic concentrations above national standards. https://jen.jiji.com/jc/eng?g=eco&k=2020101600319
  • South Korea continues to complain that Japan is not being transparent with F. Daiichi wastewater plans. Even though Tokyo has literally gone out of its way to brief all neighboring countries on their plans, and the harmless nature of a sea release, South Korea stubbornly suggests that a release could adversely affect the environment of neighboring countries, callously ignoring Japan’s communications. https://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/en/news/20201016_34/
  • The Japan Atomic Industrial Forum creates Nuclear Principles of Conduct (NuPoC). JAIF hopes to generate overseas business by formalizing a code of conduct. The code was co-generated by Toshiba, Hitachi-GE, and Mitsubishi Heavy Industries. The principles cover safety, physical security, environmental protection, nuclear accident damages, nonproliferation, and ethics.  https://www.jaif.or.jp/en/nuclear-power-plant-and-reactor-exporters-principles-of-conduct-nupoc/
  • Godzilla invades Awajishima Island. Not the actual monster, but a life-sized replica at the Island’s amusement park! The “Godzilla Interception Attraction” opened October 10th. The monster’s wide open mouth allows thrill-seekers to attack Godzilla through zip lines and “shoot away its cells”. The admission price is $36. http://www.asahi.com/ajw/articles/13808210 https://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/en/news/ataglance/1182/
  • It seems the Miyagi governor will consent to the restart of Onagawa unit #2. The Nuclear Regulation Authority gave the unit a passing safety grade in February. With the governor’s apparent approval, it is almost certain that the prefectural assembly will support the measure on its next meeting, October 22nd. Gov. Yoshihiro Murai said, “I have sufficiently considered the will of the prefectural assembly, which represents the prefectural residents.” His final, official decision will not come until he has held a meeting with Onagawa Mayor Yoshiaki Suda and Ishinomaki Mayor Hiroshi Kameyama, the communities that co-host the nuclear station. The outcome of the meeting should come by the end of the year. This is the first time a nuke along the tsunami-devastated Tohoku coast has been approved for restart by a governor. Please note that nearly all Press reports stated that the nuke was damaged by the quake/tsunami of March 2011. This is an materially false assertion! The IAEA has concluded, “The structural elements of the NPS were remarkably undamaged given the magnitude of ground motion experienced and the duration and size of this great earthquake.”  In 2012, IAEA expert Sujit Samaddar told the Associated Press, "With the earthquake of this magnitude, we would have expected the plant to have more damages, and that was not the case." Onagawa’s seawall of 14 meters sufficiently protected all three units at the station. In fact, the station’s safety allowed about 240 local residents to take safe refuge there after the tsunami hit. None of Japan’s Press outlets felt this was worth mentioning! https://the-japan-news.com/news/article/0006859082 -- https://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2020/10/14/national/tsunami-onagawa-nuclear-plant-restart/ -- https://english.kyodonews.net/news/2020/10/390ddd8d53a8-restart-of-japans-tsunami-hit-onagawa-nuclear-reactor-to-be-okd.html -- http://archive.boston.com/news/world/asia/articles/2012/08/10/iaea_nuke_plant_near_fukushima_largely_undamaged/ -- http://travel.cnn.com/tokyo/life/japan-tsunami-earthquake-2011/nuclear-plant-turns-savior-japan-tsunami-refugees-199558/ -- http://www.t-enecon.com/cms/wp-content/uploads/2015/ebooks/onagawaE.pdf
  • A Tokyo agency says the opinions of F. Daiichi workers should be heeded by Tepco. The government’s Nuclear Damage Compensation and Decommissioning Facilitation Corporation asks that Tepco seriously take into account the views and concerns of on-site workers when planning the removal of still-existent debris on and around Unit #2. This work is scheduled to begin next year. https://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/en/news/20201011_24/
  • A diver says he wants the world to know that he works in dangerous conditions at nuclear plants. Hisashi Okazaki has been a diver for 33 years, some of his assignments have included at nuke plants since 2006. He did some diving at F. Daiichi before the March, 2011 accident, and at Onagawa station over the years since. Rather than be proud of what he did, he curiously states, "I couldn't feel satisfied doing a job that leaves no trace of it behind." https://mainichi.jp/english/articles/20201009/p2a/00m/0na/020000c

October 9, 2020

  • First harvests in ten years occur in two former “no-go” communities. People in Namie and Kawauchi were ordered to evacuate by Naoto Kan’s antinuclear government in 2011. The evacuation order was lifted for Kawauchi four years ago, and three years ago for Namie. In Kawauchi, farmers planted chardonnay grapes soon after restrictions ended. Last Sunday, some 30 farmers and other volunteers picked the vine-ripened grapes used to make white wine. More than 10,000 grapevines were planted four years ago. Villagers hoped the first crop would be harvested last year, but poor weather forced a one-year delay. The 500 kilogram harvest is being shipped to a winery in Yamaguchi Prefecture and should be available next year.  Kawauchi Mayor Endo Yuko was so excited about the harvest that he couldn't sleep the night before. At the same time, about 30 Tokyo University agricultural students gathered golden-ripe rice from fields in Namie. They will sell it from roadside stands and university shops. Though the evacuation order was ended three years ago, the fields could not be planted until all tsunami debris was removed and the fields restored. Shikoda Yuji of Fukushima Stage Farm says that although the work was painstaking, he was thrilled to see rice being harvested in the tsunami-hit area for the first time in 10 years. One student says he can’t wit to eat some of the rice. https://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/en/news/20201004_18/ -- https://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/en/news/20201003_22/
  • Meanwhile, enough Namie residents have returned home to allow a local electrical store to resume business. Owner Akutsu Masanobu runs the small operation He says it’s the only electrical store in town, so he enjoys the busy trade. He has a lot of appliance orders and requests for repair work, "I’m very happy I could restart my business in Namie, and I’ve been getting more jobs to do." The owner of a local barbeque restaurant says, "Mr Akutsu’s shop is very helpful. He takes quick action whenever a problem hits." Since the town was reopened, nearly 1,500 residents have returned. Before March, 2011, the population was posted at 16,843. Akutsu thinks the actual number of returnees is greater because many only come for relatively brief stays. He also tends to the needs of former residents who have not returned, optimistically saying, "I know the situation in Namie before and after the accident. So I want to keep looking towards what it will be in the future." A January survey found 55% percent have decided not to come back. Just 11.4 percent said they want to return, while 26.1 percent were yet to decide. https://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/en/news/backstories/1313/
  • Fisheries continue to oppose the harmless release of treated F. Daiichi wastewater to the sea. National fisheries federation president Hiroshi Kishi says that while Tritium remains in the liquid, detrimental rumors will reverse years of efforts by fisheries and dealing a devastating blow to the nation's fishing industry. He said, "Damaging rumors would inevitably occur, and the consensus of those in the fishing industry is that we are absolutely opposed to releasing it at sea." He absolutely opposes a release to the sea, regardless of the precautions, because "all the efforts of fishing industry workers to date would come to nothing. Not releasing it (contaminated water) into the sea is simply the best approach." Fukushima Federation’s Toshihito Ono, says he realizes something must be done with the more than a million tons of the water in storage, so he wants the government to expedite its efforts and make a decision as soon as possible. However, he stated "I've worked on the front lines with regard to damage from rumors following the nuclear plant accident for nine years. Even when the fish are caught outside the prefecture, if the processing firm is in Fukushima then they'll be stigmatized." Fukushima Federation of Societies of Commerce and Industry said the water should be dealt with quickly and rumors dispelled, and that the central government should process the water responsibly. (Aside… Please note that no one alleges that the release would result in any actual harm to anyone or anything. It is all about avoiding harmful rumors and their impact  on the business!... end aside)  https://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/en/news/20201008_34/ -- https://mainichi.jp/english/articles/20201009/p2a/00m/0na/039000c
  • A recycled nuclear fuel plant in Aomori Prefecture has been found to meet government safety standards. The Rokkasho facility will produce mixed oxide fuel, comprised of recycled Uranium and plutonium removed from used nuclear fuel. The Nuclear Regulation Authority has required the plant to be able to withstand a seismic movement of 500 gals, and on Wednesday unanimously decided that Japan Nuclear Fuel Limited had done just that! The on-site unit that will extract the used fuel isotopes was given the go-ahead by the NRA in July. However, both plants are behind schedule for completion. Though the NRA has formally approved plant safety, final approval awaits solicitation of public comments. https://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/en/news/20201007_26/ -- https://jen.jiji.com/jc/eng?g=eco&k=2020100700710
  • The race to be the first community to host a high level nuclear waste repository in Hokkaido starts! Last week, the Suttsu Village assembly decided to apply for the first stage survey for the facility. The Mayor had been mulling over his approval, holding up the official application. Now, Mayor Haruo Kataoka says he made the decision to apply for what is called a” literature survey” after discussions with the town assembly Thursday. He said there are many opposing the plan, but also a considerable number of people support it. Kataoka added, "Now that briefing sessions for residents and industry groups were over, we decided today to apply." He admits, however, that Tokyo’s financial offer of a generous subsidy has an impact, saying, “Subsidies are one of the reasons”. Municipalities that are approved for the initial survey are eligible for state subsidies of up to 2 billion yen (~19 million dollars). The Suttsu mayor also said an object on fire was thrown into his house, but he refuses to be swayed by it. Suttsu opponents want to hold town referendum. Meanwhile, nearby Kamoenai Village has adopted a petition for its mayor to apply for the survey. Mayor Takahashi Masayuki made a decision of support on Friday, saying he will approve the application. It should be noted that Governor Naomichi Suzuki remains cautious, largely because of an ordinance that seems to oppose the prefecture accepting high level waste. There is also a plan to put the repository on a deserted island. The outcome of the national dilemma remains nebulous. https://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/en/news/20201008_28/ -- https://the-japan-news.com/news/article/0006849355 -- https://jen.jiji.com/jc/eng?g=eco&k=2020100801080 -- https://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/en/news/20201009_33/
  • A suit to shut down Takahama units #3 and 4 has been filed in Nagoya District Court. The court is located in metropolitan Tokyo’s Aichi Prefecture, which is more than 50 kilometers from Fukui Prefecture… home to both units! The plaintiffs want operations halted until measures against natural disasters can be confirmed to their satisfaction. In June, 2019, the NRA ordered Kansai Electric to review the designs for all of their nukes, including those at Takahama. The reason was potentially inadequate assessments due to the impact of possible volcanic ash from Mount Daisen in Tottori Prefecture.  The regulator did not say any of Kansai Electric’s operating plants should be shuttered. https://jen.jiji.com/jc/eng?g=eco&k=2020100500483 

 October 2, 2020

  • Japan’s Press makes PM Suga’s visit to Fukushima seem specific to F. Daiichi, alone. Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga visited Fukushima Prefecture on Saturday, September 26th,accompanied by Reconstruction Minister Katsuei Hirasawa (Fukushima High School graduate) and Gov. Masao Uchibori. The visit comprised several communities devastated by the quake and tsunami of March 11, 2011, including Hirono and Futaba, in addition to F. Daiichi.  Nearly all Press coverage singularly addressed the tour of F. Daiichi while ignoring his visits to the other communities on the itinerary. Even Tepco’s Press releases failed to mention that F. Daiichi was only one stop on Suga’s visit. Only Fukushima Minpo, which is circulated in Fukushima Prefecture alone, treated the visit without the aforementioned oversight. During the F. Daiichi visit, the PM carried a small vial of fully treated wastewater stripped of all radionuclides except Tritium, which cannot be removed because it is an integral part of the water molecule. Suga was shown the numerous wastewater storage tanks, land-side impermeable wall, and the current decommissioning efforts from high ground on the west side of Units 1~4. After his visit, Suga addressed the Tepco staff, "I know this decommissioning is a difficult task, but keep working safely and steadily. We in the government will also do our utmost to work diligently with you." Suga then told the Press, "Without the reconstruction of Fukushima, there will be no recovery of Tohoku. Without the reconstruction of Tohoku, there will be no revival of Japan. This is a basic policy of my cabinet." He also said his administration will soon decide on the disposal method for the essentially harmless fully-treated waste water. Further, he talked about rescinding existing evacuation orders, "Ultimately, we would like to remove all of them and enable everyone to live there, even though it will take time." Fukushima Prefecture was Suga’s first regional visit beyond Tokyo since becoming PM. It was so-selected because he felt the prefecture’s reconstruction is essential for Japan’s full recovery from 3-11-11. http://www.fukushimaminponews.com/news.html?id=1027 --https://www.tepco.co.jp/en/hd/newsroom/announcements/archives/2020/20200926_01.html -- https://photo.tepco.co.jp/en/date/2020-e/202009-e/200926-01e.html -- https://jen.jiji.com/jc/eng?g=eco&k=2020092600492 -- https://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/en/news/20200926_19/

  • The F. Daiichi 11-meter seawall for units #1 through #4 is completed. The barrier was built to address a government warning relative to a worst-case mega quake/tsunami along the off-shore Chisima Trough. The 600 meter-long seawall was finished on Friday, September 25th. Now, Tepco can focus its efforts on yet another Tokyo-mandated seawall of 16 meters in height to protect from a possible worst-case quake and tsunami from the Japan Trench. The new wall was mandated in April. Tepco estimates that new wall will be done before April of 2023. https://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/en/news/20200929_11/

  • The Tokyo Olympic Torch Relay is rescheduled to begin in Fukushima on March 25, 2021. It will start in the prefecture’s J-Village soccer training center and course its way through all of Japan's 47 prefectures over 121 days. The Olympics are now scheduled to start July 23, 2021. The Olympic flame was lit at the site of ancient Olympia in Greece and arrived in Japan four days before the games were postponed on March 24. The flame remains lit inside Tokyo’s Olympic Museum. https://english.kyodonews.net/news/2020/09/788bfdb51e62-breaking-news-tokyo-olympic-torch-relay-to-start-on-march-25-in-fukushima.html

  • The Sendai High Court awards $9.6 million to 3,550 Fukushima voluntary evacuees. This was the first high court award to voluntary evacuees holding both Tokyo and Tepco culpable for the 2011 nuke accident. The Sendai court based its decision on the 2017 Fukushima District Court ruling that the massive tsunami which caused the accident was foreseeable, awarding some $4.6 million from Tepco alone. Presiding Judge Ueda Satoshi said the state broke the law by not to taking regulatory measures when the risk of the massive tsunami was predictable. This was the first high court ruling to make Tokyo pay damages to voluntary evacuees, in addition to the roughly $3.5 billion already doled out to them by Tokyo mandate. The suit was filed in 2013 claiming that the accident caused the plaintiffs to lose the basis of their livelihoods and experience mental distress. Tepco and the government are studying the ruling in detail before responding. https://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/en/news/20200930_29/ -- https://english.kyodonews.net/news/2020/09/e9822e6ba58a-high-court-orders-govt-tepco-to-pay-damages-over-fukushima-crisis.html -- https://jen.jiji.com/jc/eng?g=eco&k=2020093000971 -- https://www.hiroshimasyndrome.com/fukushima-evacuee-compensation-payments.html

  • Two Sendai Station units will restart sooner than expected. Kyushu Electric Power Company suspended the No.1 and No.2 units this past spring because they could not meet the deadline for safety upgrades set by the Nuclear Regulation Authority. At the time, it was expected that the required upgrades would be completed for unit #1 in December and unit #2 in January, 2021. By “streamlining” construction work, the respective restarts are now anticipated to occur a month earlier. https://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/en/news/20201002_02/

  • Hokkaido’s Kamoenai Village assembly votes to apply for becoming the first high level waste repository. On September 11th, we reported that the town Chamber of Commerce had submitted a petition to Tokyo for consideration as the first repository. Now, the town assembly has adopted that petition by majority vote. Mayor Masayuki Takahashi is expected to formally announce the decision after the petition is approved at a plenary session. He said, "The assembly will make its final judgment at the plenary session. I'll respect the voting result." https://jen.jiji.com/jc/eng?g=eco&k=2020100201045

September 25, 2020

  • Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga plans to visit Fukushima Prefecture on Saturday. The new PM wants to demonstrate his commitment to the prefecture’s recovery from the March 11, 2011 quake, tsunami, and subsequent nuke accident.  He is considering visiting F. Daiichi, but has yet to commit. He wishes to communicate with the relevant local government leaders, first. He also has not decided on visiting Futaba’s Great East Japan Earthquake and Nuclear Disaster Memorial Museum, envisioned to memorialize the 2011 quake and tsunami that caused the nuclear accident. https://jen.jiji.com/jc/eng?g=eco&k=2020092400420

  • Japan’s new PM promises to continue emphasis on Fukushima’s recovery. Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga today said, "I want all cabinet members to think they are reconstruction ministers," urging them to take recovery of the region devastated by the March 11, 2011 quake and tsunami seriously! At the very least, he wants all precedents set by his predecessor, Shinzo Abe, to be continued. He expects his administration to emphasize individual well-being in parallel to promoting industrial expansion. https://jen.jiji.com/jc/eng?g=eco&k=2020092500771

  • F. Daiichi staff now use “smart glasses” that display work procedures and analytical graphs on a liquid crystal screen. Sampling locations and information on the person in charge are automatically recorded, plus workers can verbally record the date and time. The glasses make it possible to move 30 of the 140 field data takers to other tasks. Tepco says it requires time-consuming effort to record the huge amount of data by hand, resulting in avoidable errors. The glasses should mitigate this problem, as well as improve efficiency, accuracy, and productivity. https://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/en/news/20200920_17/

  • The Great East Japan Earthquake and Nuclear Disaster Memorial Museum officially opened last Sunday. However, the Japanese Press made it seem that that the facility only memorializes the nuke accident. Not so! While the nuke accident is a major part of the museum, the effects of the earthquake and tsunami on Fukushima Prefecture are also focused upon. Once again, the nuclear accident that caused hypothetical deaths is given headlines to the detriment of the natural calamity that caused nearly 2,000 actual immediate Fukushima Prefecture deaths, and more than 2,500 related deaths due to poor governmental planning and the unnecessary chaotic evacuation of tens of thousands of Fukushima residents. https://english.kyodonews.net/news/2020/09/08eda83f703f-museum-memorializing-fukushima-nuclear-disaster-opens-in-futaba.html -- https://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/en/news/20200920_04/ -- https://www.thejakartapost.com/life/2020/09/21/museum-memorializing-fukushima-nuclear-disaster-opens-in-futaba.html

  • Tour guides at the new Futaba museum are told to not criticize the Tokyo government or Tepco. The museum has 29 guides who either experienced the 2011 calamity or were trained to act as if they were. The guides talk about how Fukushima residents lived as evacuees after losing their homes in the tsunami, or ordered to evacuate by Tokyo. Although some early visitors asked guides about Tepco’s responsibility for the nuke accident, the guides said they are under orders to not answer such questions. A Fukushima official explained, “We believe it is not appropriate to criticize a third party such as the central government, TEPCO or the Fukushima prefectural government in a public facility.” Some guides do not like the restriction. One said, “I suffered psychological anguish from TEPCO and I'm also angry with the central government. To me, that is the truth. The facility has asked us to speak the truth so it is not in a position to say ‘Don’t say such things.’ I will quit as a guide if expressing my feelings is considered being critical.” http://www.asahi.com/ajw/articles/13752941

  • The NRA clears Tepco to restart Kashiwazaki-Kariwa units #6 and #7, for a second time. The two units have a combined output of 2.7 gigawatts of electricity. Both units passed the Nuclear Regulation Agency’s pre-startup safety examination in 2017, but the restarts have been delayed to accommodate local concerns about Tepco’s accountability and government objectivity. A Tepco document states (in part), “the president of TEPCO will take responsibility for the safety of nuclear power,” and, “TEPCO will not put the facility’s economic performance above its safety.” In addition, Tepco promises prompt public disclosure on decision-making relative to safety. However, consent to restart has yet to be obtained from local public officials, who have a panel of alleged experts studying whether or not evacuation plans are adequate, and the health impact of the F. Daiichi accident on its local residents. Niigata Governor Hideyo Hanazumi said he will not decide on the restart until the panel completes its review. Apparently, the Tokyo government and the NRA are not to be trusted. If restarted, profits from the two units would go a long way toward alleviating Tepco’s financial stress caused by Tokyo’s mandate on compensation given to evacuees: nearly $30 billion paid out to 75,000 government-mandated evacuees, nearly $3.5 billion to the thousands of voluntary refugees that fled in radiophobic fear, and more than $47 billion awarded in business and property compensation. http://www.asahi.com/ajw/articles/13753076

  • South Korea continues to complain about Tepco possibly releasing its radionuclide-stripped F. Daiichi wastewater. S. Korea’s science minister Jeong Byungseon stated, "Releasing contaminated water into the ocean is not an issue of Japan itself, but one that could have a wider impact on the global marine environment, as well as the neighboring countries." In response to this scientifically-groundless exaggeration, Tokyo says Japan has "an overarching obligation to make transparent, concrete communication within the global society." Byungseon asked the IAEA to play a proactive role in the issue, even though it already has! Tokyo says it plans to make a decision on disposal of the major volume of the liquid which has been stripped of all radionuclides except biologically-innocuous Tritium, after it finishes considering opinions from local groups and residents.   https://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/en/news/20200923_03/

  • The openly antinuclear Mainichi Shimbun starts its ten year disaster anniversary posting, half a year early. It highlights a typical annual antinuclear bombast with its annual notion that there is no end in sight for the F. Daiichi decommissioning. The fear-mongering in the article is rife! Read it at your own risk! https://mainichi.jp/english/articles/20200921/p2a/00m/0na/018000c


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