Fukushima Accident Updates (Blog)

Your most reliable source of objective Fukushima News. No "spins"...just summaries of news reports in Japan's Press, which calls the Fukushima accident a nuclear disaster

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May 29, 2020

  • An American Appeals Court rejected damages for US servicemen exposed to low level radiation due to the Fukushima accident. A lawsuit filed in a California Federal Court demanded that Tepco and General Electric be held responsible for alleged radiation damage that occurred during US Navy assistance with humanitarian relief following the March, 2011 quake and tsunami catastrophe in Japan. GE argued that only Tepco could be held legally responsible, and Tepco argued that the California Court lacked legal jurisdiction to hear the case. Both motions were upheld by the court, but the plaintiffs filed an appeal anyway. Hopefully, this will put an end to the issue! https://www.jurist.org/news/2020/05/federal-appeals-court-upholds-dismissal-of-fukushima-nuclear-disaster-claims/#
  • On Monday, Japan ended its national COVID-19 state of emergency. Tokyo had been sequentially relaxing restrictions for more than two weeks, but PM Shinzo Abe wanted to officially end “stay-at-home” policies after all 47 prefectures had met the national standards. The final prefectures were Hokkaido, Tokyo, Saitama, Chiba and Kanagawa. The PM said on Monday, "Today the government will lift the state of emergency across the nation. We've set some of the most strict (sic) criteria in the world to lift the declaration, and we concluded that prefectures across the country have met that standard." He added, "We exhibited the strength of the Japan model," because Japan was able to contain the epidemic in less than two months. Abe also explained that the nation’s economy will be re-booted in phases, "Our businesses and daily routines will be completely disrupted if we continue with strict curbs on social and economic activity. From now on, it's important to think about how we can conduct business and live our lives while still controlling the risk of infection.” Currently, the government allows concerts, exhibitions and other events to take place drawing up to 100 people indoors and 200 people outdoors. Events drawing as many as 1,000 people can be held after June 19. The decision was met with mixed public reactions. Some feel the re-booting may be premature because a second wave of infection is said to be probable. With respect to F. Daiichi, there are presently no plans to repopulate the workforce, which was downsized more than six weeks ago due to the pandemic. https://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/en/news/20200525_34/ -- https://jen.jiji.com/jc/eng?g=eco&k=2020052500753 -- https://jen.jiji.com/jc/eng?g=eco&k=2020052500946
  • The World Health Organization calls Japan’s effort at containment a success. Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said that Japan peaked at 700 new cases a day more than a month ago, but that has plummeted to less than 40 per day now. WHO Executive Director for Emergency Programs Michael Ryan cautioned that outbreaks might may recur in many countries, including Japan. https://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/en/news/20200526_06/
  • Fukushima farmers start a new project to promote consumption of local produce and livestock products. There has been a significant drop in demand since Tokyo declared the COVID-19 state of emergency six weeks ago. A blog has been developed to promote new menus created by cooking professionals, researchers, and housewives. The recipes will focus on locally produced beef, cucumbers, tomatoes, peaches and pears. Fukushima farm products have seen prices plummet with reduced demand caused by COVID-19 restaurant shutdowns. Consumers have been asked to respect the “three Cs” by avoiding confined, crowded and closed environments. One Fukushima official said, “The trend of eating at home is gaining momentum in the wake of voluntarily refraining from dining out. We would like to send out information widely on the attractiveness of prefectural food ingredients and raise the level of their consumption.” The Blog is only accessible in Japanese. http://www.fukushimaminponews.com/news.html?id=1006
  • A Fukushima hospital is using COVID-19 guidelines created by a medical school in New York. Two New York and Fukushima university hospitals have been involved in exchange activities since the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami. The guidelines were communicated to Fukushima Medical University by Icahn Professor Takahiro Yanagisawa. The professor was also involved with disaster victim support following the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks in New York. https://jen.jiji.com/jc/eng?g=eco&k=2020052400210

May 22, 2020

  • The NRA hopes to enhance the investigation of F. Daiichi’s Unit #3 explosion. This time, using local television footage to suggest the amount of hydrogen involved and the size the detonation. The inquiry was re-opened last year after the Nuclear Regulation Authority made a first-hand investigation. The footage comes from the archives of the Fukushima Central Television Company, home-based in Koriyama. https://the-japan-news.com/news/article/0006560947
  • A majority in Japan feel Donald Trump’s re-election would have a negative impact on the world. A recent NHK World survey with 2,100 respondents resulted in 57% saying a second term for America’s current president would not be good for Japan, while only 10% feel the impact would be positive. 32% said it would have no bearing! Keio University professor Nakayama Toshihiro, an expert on US politics, says the main reason is Trump’s unpredictability because he has pulled America out of numerous international agreements. Nakayama says, “I think most people feel that international cooperation is important so it's difficult for them to accept Trump's vision of America First. There's relative consensus on the idea that America is Japan's most important and effective partner in dealing with this situation (e.g. China).” He adds, “I think the election will be more of a referendum on Trump's handling of the (COVID19) crisis. It's going to be, in some ways, the coronavirus election." https://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/en/news/backstories/1096/
  • Kyushu Electric Co. shutters Sendai Unit #2 and extends the outage to meet NRA mandates. Specifically, Kyushu Electric will not be able to meet the government deadline for finishing the remote operation deemed necessary to mitigate acts of terror and aircraft crashes. NRA regulations, invoked in 2013, give the utilities five years to complete the facilities after construction plans have been approved. The regulator says its predecessor did not set clear deadlines for safety improvements, thus failing to prevent the F. Daiichi accident. The Unit was already scheduled for a periodic refueling and planned maintenance outage, but will extend it because the five year deadline will fall before the outage ends. Unit #1 was already shuttered for the same reason on March 15th. Both units restarted in August 2015 (Unit #1) and October 2015 (Unit #2). Unit #2 is expected to finish the remote facility and subsequently restart in February, 2021. https://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/en/news/20200520_13/ -- https://www.jaif.or.jp/en/sendai-2-starts-periodic-inspection-with-due-date-imminent-to-install-specific-safety-facilities/

May 15, 2020

  • Tepco will use a Submersible Remotely Operated Vehicle (ROV) to prepare for Unit #2 used fuel removal. Removal is scheduled to occur between fiscal 2024 and fiscal 2026. Use of the ROV will allow Tepco staff to understand whether or not there are obstructions in the Spent Fuel Pool (SFP) that should be removed before any used fuel bundles are removed and transferred to the ground-level st0orage facility. Initial training with an actual ROV has occurred between Wednesday and today in a Minamisoma City mock-up pool, similar to what should be the case with the Unit #2 SFP. The actual ROV investigation of the SFP is scheduled for the middle of June. It is noteworthy that none of Japan’s popular Press outlets have seen fit to announce this! https://www.tepco.co.jp/en/hd/decommission/information/newsrelease/reference/pdf/2020/reference_20200512_01-e.pdf -- (more photos) https://photo.tepco.co.jp/en/date/2020-e/202005-e/200513-01e.html
  • The NRA approves a draft report on the safety of Rokkasho used (spent) fuel reprocessing facility in Aomori. Nuclear Regulation Authority chair Totoshi Fuketa said, "We believe the facility's designing ensures high safety margins” and "The faults near the facility were sufficiently examined and the screening was conducted adequately." The facility will produce MOX (mixed oxide) nuclear fuel for power plants. MOX is a mixture of recycled Uranium and reactor-grade Plutonium. Now begins a 30 day period for public comments before a final decision on whether or not the facility will be licensed for operation. Construction began in 1993, but a series of niggling problems kept it from being completed before the 2011 nuke accident at F. Daiichi. The main issue was Japan’s inexperience with recycling used nuclear fuel. Mr. Fuketa explained, "It's like being first at bat, but also the only one at bat. When considering accidents at power plants, for example, we can look at Three Mile Island or of course Fukushima. But with fuel reprocessing plants, there is no precedent." Japan Nuclear Fuel Limited, the facility owner, says they want to begin operation between April and September of 2021. Currently four nukes are using MOX fuel, but many more will be added to the mix once they clear the NRA’s strict safety requirements. https://jen.jiji.com/jc/eng?g=eco&k=2020051300562 -- https://mainichi.jp/english/articles/20200513/p2g/00m/0na/064000c -- http://www.asahi.com/ajw/articles/13373093 
  • American rice is being turned into Sake by a Fukushima Brewery. The rice was grown by Koda Farms, California, and shipped to the Ninki Shuzo Brewery in Nihonmatsu. The Koda Farms owner is Ross Koda, whose grandfather is from Nihonmatsu. The rice comes from two organic California “breeds”: Kakuho Rose and Calhikari. http://www.fukushimaminponews.com/news.html?id=1005


May 8, 2020

  • The Environment Ministry will soon begin a trial project to demonstrate the safety of using decontaminated soil for growing crops. The problem with doing this sooner has been abject fear of radiation (radiophobia), even with substances where radioactive contamination has been removed. The fear is that the cleansed soil has been forever “tainted”. Over the past month, public comments on the ministry’s proposal have been collected, with most strongly objecting to cultivation with the decontaminated soil. Regardless, the ministry is moving forward with its plans. Environment Minister Shinjiro Koizumi explained, “I strongly recognize the fact that there are people who are opposing (the reuse of decontaminated soil). We will provide detailed explanations to seek understanding for our willingness to take a step forward even if it’s just a small one.” Repeated tests have shown that “the soil was safe enough (to be used for growing crops).” The soils have previously been used for flowers and crops used for biomass power generation. But, using the cleansed soil for consumption crops and construction projects has become a major point of public angst. A successful test in Nagadoro District of Iitate uses decontaminated soil 50 centimeters thick to cover a contaminated embankment. There have been no problems other than unfounded local fears. http://www.asahi.com/ajw/articles/13355472
  • F. Daiichi units #1&2 exhaust stack is capped. The top half of the stack was removed because its integrity had deteriorated since the quake/tsunami of March 11, 2011. A “lid” was placed atop the 10 meter high chimney on May 1st, marking the completion of the task performed by remote technology. A step by step progression has been compiled by Tepco, including new pictures of the stack’s capping. https://www.tepco.co.jp/en/hd/decommission/information/newsrelease/reference/pdf/2020/reference_20200501_01-e.pdf

May 1, 2020

  • The tedious process of removing the top half of the F. Daiichi units #1&2 exhaust stack is completed. The upper 61 meters of the 120 meter chimney has been cut off and lowered to ground level for disposal. The lower remaining section is 59 meters high. The job was finished by a local firm… Able Company. Able’s Isamu Okai said, “I think there are still many things left that local companies can do. We want to continue our involvement in the decommissioning of the plant by making use of the expertise we gained from the dismantling work.” The Chimney was internally contaminated due to radioactive vapors being released during the March, 2011 accident. The cutting of the metal stack was performed by remote-control to keep worker exposure to a minimum. The first month of work was troubled by the blades of the cutting device not working properly. However, once the problem was resolved, the remote-operated tool has worked smoothly since January. A photo montage and video of the final work is supplied by Tepco.  http://www.asahi.com/ajw/articles/13339580 -- https://photo.tepco.co.jp/en/date/2020-e/202004-e/200429-01e.html
  • The Nuclear Regulation Authority has completed its safety assessment of damaged F. Daiichi buildings. Ten of the roughly 580 buildings surveyed are considered to be in bad condition and a safety risk for workers. The damage was caused by the earthquake and tsunami of 3/11/11, and the three subsequent hydrogen explosions. The NRA cautions that these most-damaged structures could collapse with a severe-enough quake. Tepco says it will announce its countermeasures by the end of May. https://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/en/news/20200427_24/

April 24, 2020

  • Tepco’s newest plans for decommissioning F. Daiichi include local business involvement. The company says it will make public how much construction material needs to be ordered and the technology needed for the work, which should make it easier for local businesses to get involved. Many firms have complained they aren’t sure if they can get orders for the decommissioning project because the specifics have not been widely promulgated. It is expected that the company will spend between 20 and 30 billion yen per year on decommissioning. In the towns of Naraha and Tomioka, a local construction association and city development companies are being created to facilitate local participation in decommissioning F.Daini. Naraha Mayor Yukiei Matsumoto says, “It’s essential for Tepco and local companies where the nuclear power plants are located to cooperate with each other in making sure the plants will be decommissioned as planned.” http://www.fukushimaminponews.com/news.html?id=1003
  • Reopening of Namie’s Ukedo fish market stimulates the local economy. On April 8th, about 2 tons of seafood were caught by local fishermen and auctioned by 9am that day. While the prices were below pre-tsunami levels, the business was welcomed after nine years of dormany. Most of the catch was bought by Tokyo restaurant bidders, but some was sold to the Aeon Namie supermarket. Aeon has seven Fukushima outlet stores. Port and market facilities were completely washed away by the March, 2011 tsunami. Tokyo’s evacuation order was rescinded in March, 2017, and fishing operations were under limited test conditions, until recently. Local wholesaler president Koichi Shiba spoke at the market’s reopening, saying, "Today, we took a real first step forward." Another board member said he was moved to tears. http://www.fukushimaminponews.com/news.html?id=1001
  • A government panel says a deep-sea mega-quake could spawn a tsunami that might overwhelm F. Daiichi. The water surge could be as high as about 14 meters at Futaba town... co-host to the nuke station. An 11 meter high anti tsunami wall, currently under construction, might not be adequate protection. To form the devastating in-surge, a quake of more than 9 on the Richter scale would have to strike an undersea trough, located 50 kilometers off-shore. A Tepco spokesman said, "TEPCO will examine the latest projections and analyze the impact on the ongoing preventive measures against tsunamis that the company has been taking." The fear is an uncontrolled release of Tritium-laced wastewater stored in tanks at F. Daiichi. https://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/en/news/20200422_03/ -- https://japantoday.com/category/national/japan's-tepco-weighs-options-over-projected-tsunami-threat-to-fukushima-plant


April 17, 2020

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  • The IAEA has issued a report about the handling of purified F. Daiichi waste water. It is actually a report on a submittal to the International Atomic Energy Agency by Japan’s Agency for Natural Resources (ANRE) which is part of the Economy Ministry. State Minister for Foreign Affairs Kenji Wakamiya handed the committee report to IAEA Director General Rafael Mariano Grossi in February.  Contaminated water Fukushima Daiichi is being purified using the Advanced Liquid Processing System (ALPS). The purified water contains tritium, which ALPS cannot remove. Although tritium is biologically innocuous, since it is an emitter of super-weak Beta radiation causes anxiety in much of Japan’s population, is a deterrent to the fishing industry, and a source of radiophobic concerns across eastern Asia! The real problem is the proliferation of unfounded fears! The IAEA finds that controlled release to the sea is feasible, from a safety standpoint! Since April 6th, ANRE has been hearing the opinions of concerned parties. Governor Masao Uchibori was at the hearing, along with municipal heads and representatives of various Fukushima industries. The governor addressed reconstruction of the fishing industry, devastated by then March 2011 tsunami and subsequent false rumors of product contamination. He also talked about gaps between National prices and those with respect to Fukushima products, caused by radiophobic anxieties, “Tenacious activities are essential over a long period to eliminate unfounded fears and rumors,” and that information on present conditions in Fukushima and accurate understanding of radiation “are not being properly disseminated.” Many negative concerns, all grounded in radiophobia, were also voiced by Fukushima officials. https://www.jaif.or.jp/en/iaea-issues-report-reviewing-treated-contaminated-water-at-fukushima-daiichi-npps-praising-earlier-anre-report/ -- https://www.jaif.or.jp/en/anre-begins-hearing-from-concerned-parties-on-handling-of-treated-contaminated-water-at-fukushima-daiichi-npps/
  • The new Integrated Regulatory Review Service report has also been posted. The report is a joint effort by the IAEA and Japan’s Nuclear Regulation Authority. The IRRS review addressed all facilities and activities regulated by the NRA. The IRRS team commended the positive progress that Japan has made since the first IRRS visit in 2016. Japan’s commitment to nuclear safety was stressed, including an improved inspection program, staff qualification and training, regulatory review, emergency response preparedness, and decommissioning requirements. The NRA is encouraged to expand inspection programs and ensure preparedness for emergency situations. IRRS acknowledged that full cooperation from the NRA was a constant during the review. https://www.nsr.go.jp/data/000305662.pdf
  • A new robotics R&D base opens in Minamisoma. The Fukushima Robot Test Field is a government-funded facility, in conjunction with one in Namie. Research and development will focus on robots and drones needed for disaster management. Specifics will include unmanned aircraft, undersea/sea-surface robots, infrastructure inspection/disaster response, and fundamental development for on-shore and offshore scenarios. http://www.fukushimaminponews.com/news.html?id=1000
  • Nuke restarts contributed to Japan’s CO2 emissions dropping 4.6% in 2018. Much of the decrease was due to the country’s total energy consumption going down by 2.7%. Energy caused CO2 reductions have occurred for five straight years, but 2018 had the biggest drop. https://www.jaif.or.jp/en/japans-co2-emissions-fall-4-6-percent-in-fy18-thanks-in-part-to-restart-of-nuclear-power-plants/
  • The Coronavirus causes the Fukushima decommissioning work force to be downsized. The staff reduction was announced Thursday, soon after Prime Minister Abe declared a nation-wide state of emergency. About 3,000 Tepco employees and partner company staff work at F. Daiichi. The number of employees affected is not yet known. A prolonged state of emergency will delay the decommissioning process. A sufficient staff will be maintained at F. Daiichi to ensure safe management. https://the-japan-news.com/news/article/0006494729

April 10, 2020

  • The Namie fish market reopens after being closed for nine years. The Ukedo regional wholesale market is the first marketplace to reopen in a former “no-go zone”.  Ichiro Takano, director of the local fishermen's cooperative, said, "Nine years were long, and I'm so happy I'm in tears. “ Fisherman Keiji Sato added, "Sales are lower than usual due to the effects of the novel coronavirus, but I've been waiting for the market to reopen." https://jen.jiji.com/jc/eng?g=eco&k=2020040800552
  • The Fukushima City mayor proposes a novel way to solve the F. Daiichi wastewater problem. He wants to fill large tankers with the purified liquid and release it far away from Fukushima! At a recent press conference in the City, Mayor Hiroshi Kohata said,  "I want the water to be released into the ocean at a location that does not include 'Fukushima' in its name.  If it's released near the prefecture, it will certainly cause it to suffer harmful rumors. The water should be carried in a giant tanker and dumped in a place where it will cause as small an effect as possible.” He added that if this would not be allowed by Tokyo, then the tanker should sail to Tokyo Bay and dump it there! Why?  "It makes sense to dispose of it at a place that has benefited from the power generation at the Fukushima No. 1 plant," he said. Tokyo got most of the F. Daiichi-produced power before the quake/tsunami-induced accident. https://jen.jiji.com/jc/eng?g=eco&k=2020040900821
  • Tepco runs a waste-water release simulation. The assumption was that the release would follow the ridiculously-stringent restrictions recently posted by Tokyo. It would produce a plume with a bit more than one Becquerel per liter of Tritium. The plume would be 2 kilometers wide and stretch 30 kilometers north of F. Daiichi. The Wastewater itself would be diluted to well-below Japan’s drinking water limit before release. At maximum-allowable out-flow, the release would be no more than 100 trillion Becquerels per year. Regardless of the obvious safety of such a release, it drew opposition from local fishermen and paranoiac residents. This past Monday, the first official public meeting to hear local concerns was held in Fukushima City. The main complaint was with the damage caused by rumors. Others said that if the release is so safe, why doesn’t the government make this public knowledge? Still more alleged that Tokyo is jumping to a conclusion when public knowledge is “not very deep!” The minority that favored a release added the caveat that compensation for groundless rumors be made available. https://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/en/news/20200406_03/ -- https://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/en/news/20200406_39/
  • The disposal of large bags of contaminated Fukushima soil is covered by NHK World. The video piece is about as objective as an Japanese news report might be, considering the nation-wide radiophobia that plagues Japan. We suggest you take the two minutes to view it. https://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/en/news/ataglance/872/
  • Though not specifically about Fukushima, it should be noted that a considerable amount of Press has been posted about a wildfire inside the nearly 1000 km2 exclusion zone surrounding Chernobyl. The reportage focused on radiation levels inside the exclusion zone, inside the fire itself. Levels were no more than 16 times “normal”. One official, Yegor Firsov, said, "There is bad news— in the center of the fire, radiation is above normal." But, outside the exclusion zone, radiation levels were “normal”. Normal for the exclusion zone is said to be 0.14 millisieverts per hour, and lower beyond the zone. The radiation “spike” in the center of the fire was at 2.3 mSv/hr. https://www.newsweek.com/chernobyl-exclusion-zone-area-spike-radiation-16-times-higher-normal-forest-fire-1496287 -- https://www.upi.com/Top_News/World-News/2020/04/06/Wildfire-near-Chernobyl-releases-spike-in-radiation/6671586174766/
  • A Fukushima mother’s radiation monitoring laboratory continues as a mostly radiophobic clearing house. It was established in Iwaki November, 2011, 50 kilometers south of F. Daiichi. The initial10 mothers have shared the duty of checking on radiation in foodstuffs and soil because they feared that effects of low level radiation are especially hazardous to their children. Now, the staff has expanded to 18. They have recording data for 8½ years. Most of the women consider their efforts a matter of life and death. One mother, Kaori Suzuki, says, "If the risks of nuclear power had been thoroughly verified by the previous generations, I think the disaster would not have happened. But since it did occur, what we must do now is record our measurements and changes in the environment so we won't make the same mistake. Passing down something that will be useful when major decisions must be made is the only thing we can do." They scan such things as dust in vacuum cleaners, vegetables from home gardens, seasonal mountain mushrooms, and soil from parks. They post results monthly on their website. On the other hand, a few like Noriko Tanaka, have a less-fearful, more objective rationale. Tanaka says, “You don't need to fear everything, randomly. Rather than worrying about everything and being stressed out by that, measuring and seeing the data make you relieved to find that some things are safer than you presumed.” Regardless, she lets the data decide where to go and what to eat. https://mainichi.jp/english/articles/20200410/p2g/00m/0fe/089000c

April 3, 2020

  • For the third year in a row, Japan’s public opinion on nuclear improves a bit. Nearly half of the people favor discontinuing nuclear energy gradually (49%) and a significant minority said they don’t know (23%). The gradual discontinuance percentage decreased slightly for the fourth year in a row. 11.3% support the atomic option and 11.2% want it stopped immediately… the first time that open support surpassed ending nuclear energy straightaway. Interestingly, 50% said the public still doesn’t understand the need for nuclear, while only 26% said resumptions are needed for a stable electricity supply. Nearly 15% said they don’t approve of restarts even if all new safety regulations are followed! The most commonly used descriptive terms for nukes are “dangerous” and “anxiety”. https://www.jaif.or.jp/en/japanese-opinion-poll-finds-that-views-on-nuclear-power-turn-slightly-positive/
  • Tepco posts its F. Daiichi plans for the next ten years. It is entitled Decommissioning Midterm Action Plan 2020. It covers the removal of spent fuel from the three remaining used fuel pools, the start of the removal of the fuel debris, and dealing with wastewater stored on-site. President Akira Ono of the Fukushima Daiichi Decontamination & Decommissioning Engineering Company emphasized that the plan will be implemented “safely and steadily”. He added that wastewater disposal might not begin for two more years to “prepare equipment and materials, obtaining approvals, and other matters.” He explained that the company is also trying to avoid additional unfounded rumors and fears. https://www.jaif.or.jp/en/tepco-presents-ten-year-decommissioning-midterm-action-plan-for-fukushima-daiichi-nps/
  • Nuclear plant delays literally hamstring Japan’s effort to reduce greenhouse emissions nationally. This includes meeting safety regulations for restart and shuttering restarted plants to finish emergency remote control facilities. While discussions are ongoing within the Tokyo government, Japan keeps falling short in its goals for emission reduction. Environment Minister Shinjiro Koizumi said, “What’s important is not the deadline, but that we don’t pour cold water on the current trend.” He means that Japan’s increases in inherently unreliable solar and wind are positives and should be continued, but not reduced in favor of profits and/or nuclear energy. Shinjiro is the son of former Prime Minister, and current antinuclear fanatic, Junichiro Koizumi. https://the-japan-news.com/news/article/0006452282
  • Tepco estimates the cost of F. Daiichi corium removal and disposal will be $12.6 billion. Also, it is estimated that the process will take more than 12 years. This is only for units #2n & #3 because an estimate for unit #1 is the most difficult to establish, so the company has made no prediction. Annual costs during the corium removal will be written off as a special loss for each year of the process. http://www.asahi.com/ajw/articles/13259804
  • Three more nuke restarts are delayed up to 4 months to finish regulatory-mandated construction. All three units are owned by Kansai Electric Company. The three units are Takahama #1 & #2, and Mihama #3. The Takahama delays will push restarts back to no sooner than September 2020 for unit #1, and April 2021 for unit #2. The Mihama unit is now expected to restart in September, 2020. https://jen.jiji.com/jc/eng?g=eco&k=2020033101066

March 27, 2020

The Fukushima evacuee compensation figures continue to rise. Here the numbers through March, 2020 can be accessed here… https://www.hiroshimasyndrome.com/fukushima-evacuee-compensation-payments.html

  • Tepco posts its plan for the agonizingly slow release of purified F. Daiichi waste water. The company’s draft subcommittee report says they will use raw seawater to dilute the liquid and bleed it out to the sea over a thirty year period. Further, the dilution will have an activity limit of 1,500 Becquerels per liter, which is one-fortieth of Japan’s regulatory limit for Tritium in seawater (60,000 Bq/l). For comparison, the World Health Organization limit for Tritium in drinking water is 10,000 Bq/l. (For the actual risk posed by Tritium, see…  https://www.hiroshimasyndrome.com/background-information-on-tritium.html) For residual radioisotopes remaining in a small fraction of the tanks that have a concentration of more than 100 times Japan’s regulatory limit, secondary retreatment. Secondary treatment includes Strontium removal by adsorption, followed by re-running the water through ALPS (the high-efficiency Advanced Liquid Processing System). Precautions to limit reputational damage, local communication initiatives to possibly preclude damaging rumors, and a policy statement on future countermeasures to dispel persistent rumors, are included in the draft. The references appendix posts a reasonable explanation of the essentially harmless nature of Tritium’s exceedingly weak beta radiation emission. For example, nearly all other betas pass through a thin piece of paper, but not Tritium’s. The piece of paper attenuates Tritium’s beta completely! Technically, Tepco has yet to formally decide between dilution/release and evaporation for eliminating the wastewater build-up at F. Daiichi. Tepco officer Junichi Matsumoto explains, "We haven't (officially) decided whether to release the water into the sea or atmosphere," while admitting that sea release is the better option.  Meanwhile, the die-hard antinuclear Press outlet, Asahi Shimbun”, continues its nine-year-long process of F. Daiichi disinformation and blatant obfuscation. For example, it states that essentially harmless Tritium is “a particularly nasty substance” that might be safe to release only because the affected area “…would be limited to around the nuclear plant”!  https://www7.tepco.co.jp/wp-content/uploads/handouts_200324_01-e.pdf -- https://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/en/news/20200324_42/ -- https://mainichi.jp/english/articles/20200325/p2a/00m/0na/012000c -- http://www.asahi.com/ajw/articles/13243911
  • Fukushima’s governor vows to enrich the prefecture’s future. Governor Masao Uchibori says he is determined to "work together to build a vibrant and appealing future for Fukushima" with "Fukushima pride". He is convinced that Fukushima’s work with respect to reconstruction will lead the way in regional “restoration and rebirth”. He added, "We want to thank everyone who has supported Fukushima and everyone who keeps us in their thoughts. We wish for people all over the world to see Fukushima shining with the light of hope as we move forward toward revitalization, one step at a time." http://www.fukushimaminponews.com/news.html?id=998

March 20, 2020

  • Tepco and Japan’s Atomic Energy agency will co-open a fuel debris laboratory in 2024. The joint analytical venture will be located on the F. Daiichi station’s property. The plan is to get corium samples monthly. Corium is the resolidified admixture of fuel and structural materials that were liquefied during the meltdowns in March, 2011. Tepco anticipates the first debris removal will occur next year from unit #2. Any material retrieved before the facility is completed will be analyzed at Tepco’s Ibaraki facility. https://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/en/news/20200318_03/
  • Japan’s main Pacific Coast train line fully reopens. The Joban Line was suspended by the 2011 quake-tsunami catastrophe. Its reopening has been long-delayed because of extensive decontamination efforts inside the Fukushima exclusion zone. Relatively few people have returned since living restrictions were lifted in Tomioka, Okuma, and Futaba. So far, fewer than 2,000 of the original 34,000 residents have returned home. The Joban line was the public’s main form of transportation along the Pacific coast before 2011. The Joban system is the last disaster-hit train line to fully reopen. Fukushima officials have long-argued that revitalization of the Pacific coast depended on reopening the Joban train line. Detractors say this will make little difference since most local residents have been using their cars for several years. https://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/en/news/20200314_15/ -- https://english.kyodonews.net/news/2020/03/a1246b526271-last-train-line-suspended-by-2011-triple-disaster-fully-reopens.html
  • Fukushima Prefecture plans to prevent large bags of contaminated rural debris being swept away by spring rains. Last year, hundreds of them were lost to torrential rains during Typhoon no. 19 in October. Of the more than 700 temporary storage sites remaining in the prefecture, about a dozen are considered at-risk for worst-case run-off. Officials say preventative measures include adding fencing and/or moving the bags to less susceptible locations. The sites at risk are: one in Namie, four in Kawauchi, one in Kawamata, and two each in Iwaki, Nihonmatsu and Date. https://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/en/news/20200317_44/ -- http://www.asahi.com/ajw/articles/13225077
  • Sendai unit #1 is the first nuke to experience an extended operational delay due to new anti-terrorist back-fitting rules. The regulations approved in 2013 require each nuclear unit to have remote operating capabilities during acts of terror, such as the intentional crashing of a jetliner. The Nuclear Regulation Authority has forced plant owners to build the facilities within five years of construction plans being approved for them. Kyushu Electric, Sendai’s owner, believes the remote facility will be ready to go in December. None of the other nukes under the same NRA ruling are expected to meet their respective deadlines, either.  Extended outages in order to finish the facilities will place a considerable financial strain on the companies owning the nukes. NRA Chairman Toyoshi Fuketa scolded the utilities, saying they should not expect to get their way by merely submitting formal requests. The utilities have also come under fire from the NRA for overly optimistic construction timetables and over-reliance on government support. https://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/en/news/20200316_35/ -- https://the-japan-news.com/news/article/0006424709 -- http://www.asahi.com/ajw/articles/13221568

March 13, 2020

The ninth anniversary of the Great East Japan Earthquake and Tsunami occurred on Wednesday, March 11th. As with the past eight anniversaries, Japan’s Press was alive with Fukushima articles, although fewer than past years due to coronavirus articles taking precedent. First, the more positive reports…

  • Area radiation levels within 80 kilometers of F. Daiichi have dropped about 78% since 3/11/11. The Nuclear Regulation Authority says the main reason is the natural property of radioactive decay. Officials also point to decontamination efforts and the wash-off of contamination due to wind and rain that both contribute to the lower exposure levels. The calculations have been made annually under almost identical circumstances using probes lowered from helicopters to about 1 meter above the ground. https://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/en/news/20200310_16/
  • The Tohoku region Sake industry is opening its doors to women. More than 100 Tohoku Region brewers of the rice wine have added young workers to meet post- calamity demand. One brewery in Iwate Prefecture has added eight employees in their 20s and 30s, including four women. Nation-wide, women have been traditionally barred from brewery work, but this has apparently changed in Iwate! https://jen.jiji.com/jc/eng?g=eco&k=2020031100782
  • Japan Today has posted a comprehensive overview of the status of the clean-up at F. Daiichi. It is quite objective! The highlights are… The four damaged units appear to have been repaired when seen from a distance, the much-criticized “ice wall” is actually working quite well, the ALPS wastewater decontamination system needs to “re-treat” about 80% of the one million gallons of wastewater stored on-site to remove the first-treatment residuals that are not Tritium, and between 4,000 and 5,000 workers enter and leave the station every day. https://japantoday.com/category/national/nine-years-on-state-of-the-clean-up-at-fukushima's-nuclear-plant -- https://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2020/03/11/national/japan-ninth-311-anniversary-coronavirus/?fbclid=IwAR2SgOEnZi3DRwmzfAJChSCwfE0q6uIRoG8KrhB6I0KsU_YMO0rgBXi13mE#.Xmp2Y3JKiUm
  • Fukushima Fisheries want full resumption of their livelihood ASAP! Fisheries head Tetsu Nozaki says, "We would like to launch full operations within the new fiscal year, starting with whatever we can, including with catching specific fish species." The group has politicked for full, unrestricted resumption for more than a year, but Tokyo continued restrictions on a few species, until last month. When the ban on one species of skate (komon kasube) ended February 25th, no further Tokyo restrictions existed. However, full scale operating will take some time to make happen. Kanji Tachiya, of the Soma-Futaba Fisheries Cooperative Association, said, "I think it may be difficult to operate on a full scale as the number of (fish sales) brokers has become fewer. It is necessary to examine the issue step by step, including how to reconstruct the crippled distribution system." Akira Egawa, head of the Iwaki Fisheries Cooperative Association, adds a further caution, "We have a lot of challenges yet to be overcome in view of our voluntary restraint on fishing still exercised in waters within a radius of 10 kilometers from the Fukushima Daiichi plant, among other things." http://www.fukushimaminponews.com/news.html?id=996
  • Information technology is proving invaluable to Fukushima efforts to revive farming in former evacuation zones. A Wagyu beef cattleman, Ichiro Sato, says data from IT devices “saves labor especially during the mating season and at times of births.” He adds that stored data should help train new cattle farmers. The prefecture is also developing a robotic tractor to disperse fertilizer and seeds while receiving “positional data” from GPS. In addition, satellite imaging monitors the growth of rice plants and indicates the right time to harvest broccoli. An Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Ministry official says the Prefecture is “advanced in utilizing IT and AI to address challenges from labor shortages.” https://the-japan-news.com/news/article/0006405070
  • Fukushima Governor Masao Uchibori cautions that the effort toward reconstruction must continue unabated! He supports Tokyo’s Reconstruction Agency that recently extended its official existence for ten more years. The initial 10-year duration was to end in 2021. Uchibori said, "We're facing a host of challenges that cannot be overcome in 10 years. For the time-consuming reconstruction of Fukushima, medium- to long-term efforts need to be made. I want the central government and related officials to take this fact to heart." https://jen.jiji.com/jc/eng?g=eco&k=2020031100693
  • Used nuclear fuel bundle removal continues slowly to minimize the atmospheric release of dust. Removal and ground-level storage of used bundles have been completed for unit #4, and both proceed steadily with unit #3. So far, 91 unit #3 bundles have been safely relocated since last April. Removal is not anticipated to begin until 2004 for unit #2 and 2027 for unit #1. Tokyo says removal of the bundles from unit #1 cannot begin until a large cover is installed over the refueling deck to prevent the atmospheric release of possibly radioactive dust. https://jen.jiji.com/jc/eng?g=eco&k=2020030901021

Now… for reports that have a more-or-less negative slant…

  • The sea-release issue for F. Daiichi wastewater continues in earnest. More than a million tons of water, almost totally stripped of radioactive material, is stored in large tanks on the station’s property. The only isotope of any consequence is naturally-occurring, biologically-innocuous Tritium… the radioactive isotope of hydrogen. The real reason the wastewater is not safely released to the sea is radiophobia – a morbid fear of radiation, as from x-rays or nuclear energy. (The Medical-Dictionary). Tritium is exceedingly difficult to remove from water because it is an integral part of the water molecule. Despite Tokyo’s constant insistence that it is nothing to worry about… echoed by all objective scientific organizations around the world… widespread public fears of eating fish containing Tritium and the dread of local fishermen that a release will ruin their livelihood has kept the super-pure, essentially harmless liquid building up in tanks at a rate of just over 100 tons a day! There’s also an antinuclear distrust of the Tokyo government and the scientific community that has existed since World War II (The Hiroshima Syndrome). Masumi Kowata, a displaced resident of Okuma, shared the paranoiac feelings of her and her neighbors, "We should not dump the water until we have proof about its safety. The government says it's safe, but how do we know (whom we should trust)?" Recently, a governmental panel said there are really only two options. Either dilute and release, or wait for the massive volume to naturally evaporate! But, the second would take so long that the space on the F. Daiichi station would be filled in two years, necessitating additional radiophobic-based measures! https://mainichi.jp/english/articles/20200310/p2g/00m/0fe/094000c
  • A Jiji Press poll finds that Fukushima residents say reconstruction from the nuke accident has made little or no progress. Some 70% of those polled responded in the negative. Only about 18% believe accident recovery has progressed to at least some extent! On the other hand, nearly 50% says they see progress with recovery from the earthquake and tsunami catastrophe. https://jen.jiji.com/jc/eng?g=eco&k=2020031001201
  • More than half of the bags of Fukushima’s radioactive debris remain near where the stuff was collected. This constitutes about 7 million cubic meters of collected soil and vegetation. The Environment Ministry says the bags should be transferred to intermediate storage facilities by March 2022. So far, 6.3 million m3 has been so-transferred. Environment Minister Shinjiro Koizumi promises that the waste will be transferred as quickly as possible so that local residents will feel secure. https://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/en/news/20200308_02/
  • The Japan News (Yomiuri Shimbun) says 48,000 people remain refugees. Tokyo’s reconstruction agency reported the data, but added that this was about 4,000 fewer than this time last year. In addition, the number of deaths recognized as being due to the natural calamity has been increased to more than 22,000! Nearly 16,000 immediate deaths and more than 6,000 people who died from “related causes” over the nine years hence. Please note… this is attributed to the people displaced by the earthquake and tsunami of March 11, 2011, only… not the Tokyo-mandated nuke accident evacuation! https://the-japan-news.com/news/article/0006410428
  • A Japanese court orders Tokyo and Tepco to pay additional compensation damages above and beyond that already awarded. The Sapporo District Court awarded the additional compensation on Tuesday. The 89 plaintiffs were all voluntary evacuees who have moved to Fukushima City. They had already received over $51,000 in compensation. However, it’s reported they have been awarded an additional $5,000 each. http://www.china.org.cn/world/Off_the_Wire/2020-03/10/content_75798149.htm
  • Another 32 deaths have been attributed to the stresses experienced by 2011 earthquake and tsunami refugees. It is estimated that more than 40,000 refugees still exist in Fukushima Prefecture. The revised data comes from Tokyo’s Reconstruction Agency and the Fukushima prefectural government. Of the 32 newly recognized deaths, 28 had been living as evacuees since the disaster. Such essentially wrongful deaths are judged by each affected municipality, after relatives of the deceased apply for the designation.  Many of the cases involve people with chronic diseases whose health condition deteriorated due to the change in their living environment. The disaster-related death toll for Fukushima Prefecture is now 2,304! http://www.asahi.com/ajw/articles/13199954


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