March 31, 2023

  • More Fukushima evacuation orders are canceled. Tokyo lifted the orders for four small populated areas of Namie, totaling about6.6 square kilometers. Residents gathered in the Murohara District to commemorate the occasion. One person hoped many more people will return, making the town bustling again. Namie covers 223 square kilometers, of which 174 remain “no-go” zones. https://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/en/news/20230331_16/

  • S. Korea's president wants public consent for the release of F. Daiichi wastewater. President Yoon Suk Yeol says he is committed to improve his people's public understanding of the issue. He stated that his predecessor, Moon Jae In, "had avoided efforts to understand," preventing the public from becoming aware of Japan's plan. Public objection about the release remains strong. https://japantoday.com/category/politics/s.-korea-yoon-vows-to-seek-public-consent-for-fukushima-water-release

  • Japan's government begins a debate on extending nuke operating licenses. Of course, any increases depend on meeting official regulatory requirements. The discussion began on Thursday. Prime Minister Kishida Fumio stressed its significance, saying it will diminish the effect of future energy crises. https://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/en/news/20230330_34/

  • NHK World posts new info on how US-Japan relations were tested by F. Daiichi's accident. The News giant interviewed former US ambassador John Roos, US NRC head Gregory Jaczko, and Japanese ambassador Fukuyama Tetsuro. Echoing Jaczko's severe over-reaction at the time, Roos said, “We thought it was probably going to be bigger than the Chernobyl situation.” He and Jaczko felt “America understood the urgency”, but Japan did not. They believed Japan was hiding something. Jaczko defended his actions saying, ” There was an enormous discrepancy between the US perception and the Japanese perception.” The US released drones to try and support Jaczko's opinion. He says the drones gave him “...some of the first solid information we got.” Fukuyama agrees, "There were discrepancies in information, there were gaps between the US perception and reports from the Japanese side. I think that these concerns or alarms spread like wildfire on the American side," The diplomatic problem peaked with the Unit 3 hydrogen explosion on March14, 2011. Jaczko wanted Japan to make “heroic sacrifices” to avoid radiation exposures he believed could cause ”...long-term cancer or even potential death." These unfounded fears led him to believe “The next accident is probably going to be something different that we didn't think about” and worse than F. Daiichi or Chernobyl. https://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/en/news/backstories/2349/

March 24, 2023 

  • More than half say they support the release of F. Daiichi waste water. This is result of a recent Asahi Shimbun survey. 51% favor the release, while 41% oppose it. Among men, 60% support the future discharge, while 48% of the women do not. Also, 45% approve of the licensing limit for nukes, while 43% do not. https://www.asahi.com/ajw/articles/14865588

  • Meanwhile, South Korea calls for a “scientific analysis” of the water to be released, despite the fact that it has been, and continues to be done! S. Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol made the demand last Friday while meeting with former Japanese PM Yoshihide Suga. This is in addition to prior opposition made by China and Taiwan, who both believe the release of the essentially harmless waters would hurt the marine environment, seafood safety, and human health. https://japantoday.com/category/national/s.-korea-seeks-scientific-analysis-before-fukushima-water-release

  • Another attempt to stop a nuke restart fails. The Hiroshima High Court upheld an earlier ruling by the Hiroshima District Court. Seven residents in Hiroshima and Ehime Prefectures filed an estoppel injunction with the district court in 2020. They argued that the maximum possible earthquake had been underestimated and the nuke plant should not be operated. The request was rejected in 2021, but the claimants refused to stop trying and appealed. https://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/en/news/20230324_29/ 

March 17, 2023

March 11th marked 12 years since the Great East Japan Earthquake and Tsunami. All Japanese news outlets provided coverage, with a summation of the accident at F. Daiichi caused by the natural disasters. Rather than summarize each of essentially redundant postings, we will list the URLs for you to pick and choose which to read. Please be aware that the impending release of biologically innocuous wastewater dominates the postings. Regardless...

Now, for a couple of non-anniversary news items...

  • PM Fumio Kishida visits Fukushima Prefecture on the 12th anniversary of the accident. His itinerary included a Soma children's facility so that he might identify sufferings specific to the young. While there, he promised to draw up a list of measures to counter Japan's low birth rate. https://jen.jiji.com/jc/eng?g=eco&k=2023031100431

  • There will be more evacuation orders lifted in Fukushima Prefecture. Locales include communities that border on F. Daiichi and spots in Tomioka. 2,580 people from 1,143 households were registered as residents in the area. But, only 54 people from 26 households have applied to return. Resident Yoshiharu Sugimoto says, “At long last, my life will be back to normal,” said Yoshiharu Sugimoto, adding, “I’m looking forward to walking around the town and looking at the cherry blossoms.” https://japannews.yomiuri.co.jp/society/general-news/20230312-96756/

  • Industry Minister Yasutoshi Nishimura promises to promote nuclear energy to promote stable energy supplies and secure decarbonization. He said, "Amid the ongoing global energy crisis, we will address the three challenges of stable energy supplies, decarbonization and economic growth." He added that he wanted to, "restart (idled) nuclear reactors, develop next-generation reactors and replace decommissioned reactors with new ones." https://jen.jiji.com/jc/eng?g=eco&k=2023031001080

March 10, 2023

  • Tepco says F. Daiichi fuel debris (corium) removal should begin this fiscal year... meaning sometime in the next 12 months. Corium is a mixture of nuclear fuel and surrounding structures melted together, but solidified after being cooled. Trial attempts could occur this coming fall. Meanwhile, the Asahi Shimbun criticizes the slow speed with which corium removal for unit #2 is going to happen. The schedule for units #1 and #3 are still up in the air, and the Asahi doesn't like it! https://jen.jiji.com/jc/eng?g=eco&k=2023030700877 - https://www.asahi.com/ajw/articles/14854929

  • Tokyo posts a website to show radioactive levels of treated water to be released from F. Daiichi. It will show the concentration of essentially harmless Tritium and the traces of other radionuclides in the mix. Local fisheries believe they will suffer reputational damage when the releases happen. The environment ministry says the website is an attempt to diminish the reputational damage. It plans to update data once a week after the water release starts. https://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/en/news/20230306_13/

  • Tomioka may see part of its evacuation order lifted in early April. AMarch 3 meeting of all municipal assembly members resulted in discretionary authority to start talks with the central and prefectural governments on how soon free access should be allowed for the area. The town hopes reopening will be in time for the April cherry blossom festival. Mayor Ikuo Yamamoto said,"We would like to enjoy the cherry festival together by terminating the evacuation order in the reconstruction base area ahead of the event." The area in Tomioka to be reopened includes some roads, graveyards and other sites located in the town's Oragahama and Fukaya districts. http://www.fukushimaminponews.com/news.html?id=1166

  • Some Fukushima mayors avoid expressing an opinion relative to the government's new position on nuclear energy. The change in nuclear energy policy will allow for construction of new reactors and the extension of the operating life of those already built. Of the 45 mayors polled by the Asahi Shimbun, 8 were somewhat or totally opposed to nuclear energy. One mayor said, “I always feel internal turmoil about whether criticism directed at me and the municipal government will also not be turned on the evacuees”, while another says “I do not want residents to feel troubled by my comments about the central government’s nuclear energy policy.” https://www.asahi.com/ajw/articles/14853763

  • The return of residents to re-opened Fukushima communities continues at a snail's pace. The main issue is slow development of infrastructure. 36 have returned to Okuma, 60 back to Futaba, and only one out of 82 registered residents have returned to Katsurao. https://jen.jiji.com/jc/eng?g=eco&k=2023030701044

  • The NRA doubts restart of any Kashiwazaki-Kariwa units in the foreseeable future. Chair Shinsuke Yamanaka has said, “it is quite difficult to lift the ban on operations” due to unfinished anti-terrorist measures. Meanwhile, PM Fumio Kishida wants to have the reactors restarted in order to have a stable power supply. A number of intrusion detection systems failed and no acceptable countermeasures have been put in place. The regulator says that Tepco has not become an organization that can accurately identify signs of deterioration in the protection of nuclear materials. https://japannews.yomiuri.co.jp/business/companies/20230309-96161/

  • Fukushima farmers are resuming their efforts following soil decontamination. Of the more than 17,000 hectares where crops were suspended after 2011, cropping has resumed on 7,370. Most noticeable are municipalities where the evacuation order was lifted early, such as the towns of Hirono and Naraha, where resumption rates are 77.7% and 66.5%. https://jen.jiji.com/jc/eng?g=eco&k=2023030700938

  • The NRA says the fault under the Shika nuke plant is not active. Hokuriku Electric wanted to restart unit #2, but the Nuclear Regulation Authority had its doubts. The NRA's definition of an active fault is seismic activity that has occurred between 120,000 and 130,000 years ago. Hokuriku Electric efforts to show that no seismic activity has occurred is finally successful. Commissioner Akira Ishiwatari says, “a large volume of data was provided and upon reassessing all the information we found much data that led to the conclusion that no active fault existed.” The restart decision has been delayed for eight years while the research has been compiled and studied. But Hokuriku Electric is far from resuming operations because it must still pass screening of a number of measures to deal with possible tsunami events or volcanic eruptions. https://www.asahi.com/ajw/articles/14853668

March 3, 2023

  • Another Fukushima evacuation order will be lifted. This time, a portion of Namie will be opened on March 31. It will cover about 3 % of the town. Even with this lifting, about 80% of the town remains a “difficult to return” and continues to be off-limits. https://jen.jiji.com/jc/eng?g=eco&k=2023030100945

  • The Prime Minister's Cabinet approves a bill to extend nuke licensing beyond 60 years. Under the new rules, the industry minister can extend the life of nuclear reactors on a case-by-case basis. After 30 years of safe operation, approved operation can be extended in ten year chunks if Nuclear Regulation Authority regulations are met. All time spent in shutdown periods after initial licensing will no longer count against operational limits. Oposition parties posted concern, saying, “The Cabinet shouldn’t approve the bill until criteria or methods for the NRA assessment are clearly established.”https://english.kyodonews.net/news/2023/02/bc1e7f5e1934-japan-cabinet-oks-bills-to-extend-nuclear-reactor-life-beyond-60-yrs.html - https://www.asahi.com/ajw/articles/14850139 - https://jen.jiji.com/jc/eng?g=eco&k=2023022800350

  • Trials for re-use of decontaminated Fukushima soils are postponed. The environmental Ministry caved in to local “Chicken Little” complaints. A common complaint was that not enough information has been given. The ministry decided to conduct trial of reusing decontaminated soil on ministry-related facilities in Tokyo, Saitama Prefecture and Ibaraki Prefecture. About 50 Tokyo residents are adamantly opposed. Despite their complaints, a ministry official says they will conduct the tests, regardless, “We don’t plan to go through a process to gain an agreement with local residents about the project, so the ministry will make the final decision.”https://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/en/news/20230225_01/ - https://www.asahi.com/ajw/articles/14848079 - https://www.asahi.com/ajw/articles/14851976

  • The F. Daiichi plant head says it is too soon to predict the end of decommissioning. Plant chief Akira Ono points out that “we have to face inconceivably difficult work such as retrieving the melted debris” which could take as long as 30 more years. “We can’t say, but roughly imagining the next 30 years, I believe that it is necessary to carefully and precisely build up the current plan in order to safely, steadily and quickly proceed with the decommissioning.” He also acknowledges that the current issue is disposal of the essentially harmless wastewater., which is fiercely opposed by local fishermen. https://www.asahi.com/ajw/articles/14852827 - https://mainichi.jp/english/articles/20230303/p2g/00m/0na/016000c

  • Some Fukushima residents complain that they are being ignored, They want a say in discharging cleansed F. Daiichi wastewaters into the Pacific. Local fishermen feel that Tokyo doesn't care about them any more, despite numerous public meetings and news postings. The head of the Soma Futaba fishery cooperative association, said, “What makes the government and TEPCO think that we have agreed?” Tepco estimates the eventual daily release will be about 500 tons per day, considerably greater than the buildup rate of about 130 tons per day. https://www.asahi.com/ajw/articles/14848557

February 24, 2023

  • It's official... Japan's NRA approves Tepco's plan for F. Daiichi wastewater discharge. The Nuclear Regulation Authority says the planned methodology for the release is OK. The approval includes standards for the amount of radioactive materials contained in the water, which will have all radioactive isotopes lowered to well below legal limits for drinking water by the ALPS system, except for biologically-innocuous Tritium. https://jen.jiji.com/jc/eng?g=eco&k=2023022200388

  • A majority favors restarting idle Japanese nukes. A poll run by the nuclear-negative Asahi Shimbun shows that 51% want the restarts. This is the first Asahi poll showing the positive result in the nearly 12 years since the tsunami-caused accident. However, those opposing building new nukes cont5inues to hold a slim margin. https://www.asahi.com/ajw/articles/14844619

  • Tokyo wants a G-7 endorsement for its future wastewater release from F. Daiichi. The draft statement is planned for presentation to the prestigious Group of Seven Nations meeting in April. It says the group welcomes Japan's “transparent” approach on the planned disposal out to sea, and also “welcomes” progress on disposal of soils containing radioisotopes released by thew 2011 accident. However, some members seem opposed to such statements because G-7 has historically avoided supporting any measure specific to a member nation. https://english.kyodonews.net/news/2023/02/640d78de73d6-japan-seeks-g-7-endorsement-on-discharge-of-fukushima-treated-water.html - https://www.asahi.com/ajw/articles/14845638

February 17, 2023

  • Japan's NRA officially extends nuke lifetimes to beyond 60 years. An executive Nuclear Regulation Authority panel met Tuesday and voted to make the nuke licensing extension by majority vote. One of the five members of the panel, Akira Ishiwatari, objected saying the change would not make nukes safer and there is no firm plan on regulation beyond 40 years. Chairman Shinsuke Yamanaka has said, “This latest change is due to the actions by the Economy, Trade and Industry Ministry. Our panel won’t be proactive (with regard to the change).” The extension is because of operational down times due to NRA inspections and other reasons such as court estoppel orders. The NRA has also set up another panel to assess the system to allow for the licensing extension. Once again, Commissioner Akira Ishiwatari cast a lone dissenting vote. https://www.asahi.com/ajw/articles/14839160 - https://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/en/news/20230215_31/

  • The often anti-nuclear Mainichi Shimbun blasts the NRA for their licensing decisions. The Mainichi is Japan's third largest newspaper outlet. It says the NRA is showing a lack of transparency and ignores the need for formal debate on the issue. The Mainichi calls the licensing change “hasty” and calls into question the NRA's status as an independent regulator. In 2020, the NRA said it has virtually no say in nuke operating lifetimes and that the issue is a matter for the Industry Ministry. https://mainichi.jp/english/articles/20230216/p2a/00m/0op/027000c - https://mainichi.jp/english/articles/20230214/p2a/00m/0op/024000c

  • French media outlet AFP calls the future release of F. Daiichi waters controversial. The article asks if the water needs release, is the water safe, and what the reaction has been in Japan? Fukushima Updates has answered these questions ad nauseam over the past few years. Apparently, AFP either hasn't read our reportage or doesn't care. https://www.digitaljournal.com/world/the-controversial-plan-to-release-fukushima-plants-wastewater/article

February 10, 2023

  • Japan's cabinet formally allows nukes to operate beyond 60 years. Time a nuke is shuttered for inspections or court orders no longer counts in the formal 60 year limit, so nukes can and will operate beyond six decades. Also, replacing old, decommissioned nukes with new ones is now part of the plan. Further, the government is now formally responsible for the disposal of nuclear waste. This is part of Japan's “green transformation” policy currently in use. The policy was informally agreed upon in December, but now it is official. https://english.kyodonews.net/news/2023/02/913e509a7958-cabinet-formally-adopts-policy-of-using-nuclear-reactors-beyond-60-yrs.html

  • The NRA delays a 60-year nuke lifetime rule because one commissioner dissents. Nuclear Regulation Authority commissionerAkira Ishiwatari opposes Tokyo's plan to raise the 40 year licensing limit to 60 years, and doesn't seem to like excluding periods when reactors are shut down for extended periods due to safety inspections or judiciary estoppels. He said if the new limit is approved, the jurisdiction regarding the operation period restriction will be transferred from the NRA to the industry ministry. He said it is the NRA is supposed to protect people and the environment. He explained that scrapping the limit on the plant service period cannot be considered a change that would improve safety. Ishiwatari added that the plan allows operation to be extended by the amount of time it takes to carry out inspections, which means the plants will age, and he doesn't like it. NRA Chairman Shinsuke Yamanaka decided to postpone the panel’s approval of the government policy for more discussion. The NRA will return to the issue next week Ishiwatari is a Geologist specializing in earthquakes, and has only limited formal knowledge of nukes. https://jen.jiji.com/jc/eng?g=eco&k=2023020801093 - https://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/en/news/20230208_27/ - https://mainichi.jp/english/articles/20230209/p2a/00m/0na/028000c - https://www.asahi.com/ajw/articles/14835808

  • Micronesia's president visits Japan and understands the release of ALPS-treated water from F. Daiichi. While the two leaders confirmed further developing their countries’ “traditional, friendly, cooperative relationship,” they also addressed the handling of water treated by the Advanced Liquid Processing System (ALPS-treated water). Prime Minister Kishida assured President David W. Panuelo that the releases will do no harm to the environment or human health, and everything will be done well-within the International Atomic Energy Agency standards. Unlike many other Pacific, Panuelo expressed gratitude for Japan's transparency and praised Japan’s efforts to facilitate understanding among the people of Micronesia. https://www.jaif.or.jp/en/news/6331

February 3, 2023

  • Fuel debris is inadvertently collected from F. Daiichi unit #1. Tepco says they were using robots to extract water from the bottom of unit #1 Containment and some solid solid debris came out with it. The company hopes close examination of the debris will contribute to successful removal of all the debris, both inside and outside the Reactor Pressure Vessel. https://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/en/news/20230201_21/

  • A medical clinic opens in Futaba Town. Mayor Izawa Shiro said a medical clinic plays an important role for residents returning to the town because it will be a necessary convenience. Futaba is the last of the towns mandated for evacuation by Tokyo edict. https://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/en/news/20230201_32/

  • A new Tokyo policy might allow building new nukes. This applies only tosites where nukes have reached the end of their operating lifespan. The government intends to seek Cabinet approval for the new policy. However, the most extreme pro-nuclear lawmakers do not like it. They feel that replacement of a permanently shuttered nuke should not have restrictions on where the new one is located. https://www.asahi.com/ajw/articles/14826683

  • Fukushima wants to export 100 tons of rice to America annually. The decision follows the USA lifting its import restrictions on Japanese foodstuffs. The Japanese retailer, JA Zen-Noh Fukushima, has signed an agreement with the Fukushima government. The retailer wants to open up to 13 stores in America. The agreement was announced at a press conference headed by Fukushima Gov. Masao Uchibori. Senior Managing Executive Officer Kazuhiro Matsumoto says “Overseas consumption of Japanese rice will grow further." http://www.fukushimaminponews.com/news.html?id=1155

  • Nearly half of the jobs for reconstruction work have had only one bidder. While not unusual across Japan, it is 13 points higher than non-Fukushima tenders. In the 5.5 years ending in September 2021, 49.3 percent had only one bidder. One speculation is that when a bidder strongly wants the job, its bid will be higher than other bidders will be able to compete with. https://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/en/news/20230203_30/

  • Takahama unit #4 shuts down automatically on Monday during a control rod inspection. The shutdown was caused by a sudden drop in the level of neutrons in the reactor core. The alarm had sounded three times over the six days prior to the automatic action. It is speculated that the problem was an electrical malfunction in the Control Rod Drive Mechanism. The Nuclear Regulation Authority believes the halt may be linked to control rod malfunction and/or the inspection work. There were no issues with reactor cooling and there was no effect outside of the reactor vessel.https://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/en/news/20230201_26/ - https://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/en/news/20230130_33/ - https://jen.jiji.com/jc/eng?g=eco&k=2023013001110

January 20, 2023

January 13, 2023

January 6, 2023

  • Still no thyroid cancer in the most-exposed workers at F. Daiichi accident. The seven emergency workers of concern were given free examinations including thyroid function tests and ultrasound after 10 years and there were no abnormalities related to their exposure. Late-onset thyroid consequences from radiation exposure are a possible health problem after a nuclear accident. There is controversy about whether or not older adults are vulnerable to internal exposure to thyroid glands. The F. Daiichi examination data shows that the hypothetical concerns are not actual. https://academic.oup.com/jrr/advance-article/doi/10.1093/jrr/rrac092/6968638?fbclid=IwAR0YKY_HSZFACT9knRkYSQGIA5fdAwX_zfQEgT8K8M1NnLZv8_f_ciM5Nb0&login=false

  • The current push to revive Japan's nuke industry faces faces terrific difficulty. Although no deaths occurred due to radiation exposure from the accident, the radiophobic fear of hypothetical mortality infects millions of Japanese. The most fearful are committed to ending Japan's nuclear industry forever. The success of current efforts for revival concerns getting the required level of acceptance from local officials and their constituents. A Tokyo-based energy consultant says, “It will be a challenge” (to get existing reactors going again) because some have been “stalled for quite a long time.” To complicate the situation, he adds thst the war in the Ukraine exacerbates fears of terrorists compromising nuclear safety, “Given what’s happening with the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant in Ukraine, I think the NRA is probably more sensitive nowadays to potential terrorist attacks.” https://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2023/01/03/national/reviving-nuclear-industry/?fbclid=IwAR0_qmWUtx8ZZJGMxTy2PlEwcu1TW9Ep0b_ZOsziBzt4NuOOLeChLJ_tVeo 

December 31, 2022 

  • The Economy Ministry expands its publicity effort for ALPS treated wastewater. The intent is to provide better understanding withing the public using TV spots, advertisements in major newspapers, and postings on public transportation systems. https://www.jaif.or.jp/en/news/6244

  • A South Korean non-profit group visits F. Daiichi. They see the status of decommissioning and preparations for the release of essentially harmless treated wastewater to the sea. The goal of the group is to“build an advanced society through rational resolutions of issues based on facts and science.” Their endeavor runs counter to the former S. Korean administration's belief that the wastewaters are “a hazardous substance that must not be released into the sea.” The NGO wants to set the record straight. https://www.jaif.or.jp/en/news/6255

  • The new Japanese push to revive the nuclear business opens the way for nuke careers. The head of the Japanese Youth Network says, "The problem is there are very few people who know how to construct nuclear power plants." With the recent government desire to use nukes to reduce atmospheric emissions for electric plants, it is felt that more young people will be open to pursuing nuke careers. https://japantoday.com/category/national/'big-challenges'-choosing-a-nuclear-career-in-japan

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