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

There are regularly-updated pages on this site concerning popular Fukushima issues, such as  Fukushima Evacuee Compensation Payments (updated monthly)!

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January 15, 2021

  • A new library to open in Okuma. It will hold up to 50,000 books and become one of the largest collections at a Japanese public school. Books donated since the March, 2011 calamity will be displayed in gratitude for public donations. The library will allow Okuma will be called a “Town of reading”. The school housing the library will be dubbed because kindergarten, elementary, and junior high will be housed in the same location. http://www.fukushimaminponews.com/news.html?id=1041
  • A coming-of-age ceremony for the town of Namie was held last Saturday. 54 residents who turn 20 this year were honored in this annual celebration. Now an official adult, Ayumi Yoshida said,  "I feel happy that I was able to take part in this coming-of-age ceremony in my hometown although we are experiencing a host of difficult challenges." Namie Mayor Kazuhiro Yoshida said: "You are all gifted and have a bright future. I want you to keep watching your hometown Namie." All participants wore masks and practiced appropriate social distancing. https://jen.jiji.com/jc/eng?g=eco&k=2021011000043
  • One of the most tsunami-devastated coastal communities on the Pacific coast sees its massive ground-elevation project continue. The ten meter high civil engineering feat in Rikuzentakata, Iwate Prefecture, is scheduled to be completed this spring. The city was hit with a 10 meter surge on March 11, 2011, killing at least 1,606 residents. 223 remain missing and are presumed dead. The ground-elevation project will be more than 2.5 times the size of Tokyo’s Disneyland Park. Mayor Futoshi Toba has urged the size of the project to be expanded to its present size because, “It is meaningless if people say it’s too scary to live there.” Resident Toshihiro Kanno lost his home in the disaster and said: “Everyone had their hands full rebuilding their lives. We didn’t have time to think about what the city would look like after reconstruction.” https://the-japan-news.com/news/article/0007055573

January 8, 2021

  • Japan’s Atomic Industrial Forum says the country needs nukes to meet environmental goals. JAIF points to zero carbon emissions, “economic efficiency”, and stability in supplying electricity. The organization also looks forward to the restarts of Kashiwazaki-Kariwa units 6&7, Onagawa unit 2, Tokai Daini, Takahama units 1&2 and Mihama unit 3. JAIF also calls for extending operating lifetimes since the rate of degradation for nukes is extremely low. For 2021, the group wants to upgrade public understanding, assist in Fukushima reconstruction, improve development of human resources, and assist in international cooperation. https://www.jaif.or.jp/en/greeting-at-the-start-of-2021/
  • JAEA says the removal of fuel debris from F. Daiichi reactors should be under water. Japan Atomic Energy Agency research show that partially melted fuel may have clung to vessel internals. If not carefully removed, they maintain that a chemical reaction could occur resulting in a metal fire and another meltdown. JAEA’s Kurata said, “It became clear that what’s happening to the fuel debris largely differs with each reactor. It’s important to proceed based on the assessment of the samples taken instead of relying on past precedents.” http://www.fukushimaminponews.com/news.html?id=1040
  • Naoto Khan wanted to evacuate the emperor to Kyoto at the start of the Fukushima accident. However, the Imperial Household Agency dismissed the idea because it could have resulted in metropolitan panic. Kan, now a radical antinuclear activist, admits it was only his idea, but denies ever trying to do it. A senior Kan official says this is not true and that a “mediator” was assigned to make the idea known to the emperor’s Imperial Chief, Shingo Haketa. Grand chamberlain Yutaka Kawashima posted in a magazine, "It is utterly inconceivable for his majesty to abandon the people of Tokyo and leave Tokyo." https://english.kyodonews.net/news/2021/01/3f87b65872fe-emperors-evacuation-to-kyoto-weighed-after-fukushima-nuclear-disaster.html
  • An Asahi Shimbun poll says 32% support the release of essentially harmless F. Daiichi wastewater. However, 55% still oppose the possibility. Moreover, 80% fear that the release would damage the reputation of the local fishing industry. Whereas 44% of male respondents support the release, 62% of women oppose it. Also, 67 said Tokyo’s handling of the nuclear accident to date has been bad while 20 percent gave the government high ratings. The poll was taken in November and December. http://www.asahi.com/ajw/articles/14080736  (Aside – the 32% support for the release is the highest we have seen yet! – End aside)

January 1, 2021

  • Thirty percent of Fukushima residents feel reconstruction has been sufficient. Meanwhile, 80% of Miyagi and 66% of Iwate Prefectures feel the same about recovery in their prefectures.  Of the three hundred people in the three prefectures who were polled, 176 felt reconstruction was "progressing" or "progressing to some degree" and 123 said progress was insufficient. Among Fukushima residents unhappy with progress, many said they are disappointed that they are still not allowed to return home. https://english.kyodonews.net/news/2021/01/13fd3540b365-only-30-of-fukushima-residents-happy-with-disaster-recovery-progress.html
  • Another overly-optimistic projection for renewable energy is proposed for Japan. In December, the World Wide Fund formally assured Japan that it can be carbon-neutral by 2050. WWF’s “expert” Konishi Masako says that drastic change is needed, and the key is total elimination of coal-burning. While this is true, they reject nuclear energy as a viable alternative. Instead, they believe that strategically-located wind and solar plants, combined with hydrogen based generation, can off-set the loss of coal by 2030. Not only is their idea reliant on inherently intermittent solar and wind, but they say that enough excess energy will be produced by 2030 to make copious amounts for hydrogen as a fuel. Masako asserts, “When you fill energy demand with natural sources like solar and wind that are reliant on weather conditions, you end up producing a lot of surplus energy. But, this surplus energy can be used to break down water into hydrogen.” (Aside - We at the Hiroshima Syndrome understand that this concept is irresponsible and unrealistic. Total carbon neutrality is possible for Japan only with a drastic shift to nukes. – End aside!) https://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/en/news/backstories/1436/  
    • The Asahi Shimbun makes an unsupported claim about radiation levels at F. Daiichi! The headline reads, "Radiation levels at Fukushima plant far worse than was thought", but nothing in the subsequent article supports the claim! Of realistic interest, the article correctly points out that the shield plugs which seal up the containments have radioactive material attached to their undersides. NRA chairman Toyoshi Fuketa has said, "It appears that nuclear debris lies at an elevated place. This will have a huge impact on the whole process of decommissioning work." The body of the Asahi report is filled with huge numerical estimates of radiation levels inside the containments, but nowhere does it say that these estimates are any worse than had been expected! http://www.asahi.com/ajw/articles/14071742

Happy Holidays to all of you, and a prayer for a betterNew Year!

December 25, 2020

  • Resolidified fuel removal from F. Daiichi unit #2 is further delayed due to COVID19. The Industry Ministry says the robotic arm that will be needed for the careful process has had its development stalled in England due to pandemic cutbacks. Tepco had planned to perform robotic arm experiments in Britain in August, but the plan has been suspended and will resume after the device has been transported to Japan. A Ministry official says, “"We will put safety first and make efforts to ensure that the delay of the process will be limited to around a year." The device is expected to arrive in Japan in April for further development. Unit #2 did not suffer a hydrogen explosion and must have the least damage of the three units that suffered meltdown, making it less problematic for the defueling process. Of the three units containing reactors with damaged fuel cells, robotic surveys have shown the most detailed images and data from inside that building. It is now hoped that the work can begin in 2022 instead of next year. https://english.kyodonews.net/news/2020/12/4e2ce29b334c-melted-fuel-removal-from-crippled-fukushima-reactor-to-be-delayed.html -- https://jen.jiji.com/jc/eng?g=eco&k=2020122301000 -- https://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/en/news/20201223_05/
  • Namie rice harvest is the first since the 2011 tsunami. The coastal evacuation order was lifted three years ago, and it has taken this long to restore the farmland. A Miyagi Prefecture company planted 24 hectares this past spring, leased from local farmers. 100 kilograms of the product have been put on sale at a roadside rest area. https://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/en/news/20201219_18/
  • An IAEA monitoring team is ready to support the release of mildly radioactive wastewater from F. Daiichi, if and when it happens. International Atomic Energy Agency Director General Rafael Grossi said, "We can cooperate if the government of Japan so decides and invites us. We could cooperate in the whole spectrum of the operation, before, during and afterwards. Regulated discharge to the open sea or evaporation, are technically feasible" and "in line with the current practice and best practices internationally." The Innocuous release is being delayed due to radiophobic local opposition and neighboring countries like South Korea and China. On Sunday, Japanese Chief Cabinet Secretary Katsunobu Kato said that the government can no longer put off the decision. Grossi also spoke in a positive fashion about geological burial of high level nuclear waste, citing the new facility in Finland. https://english.kyodonews.net/news/2020/12/b739b01e6cf5-iaea-ready-to-send-monitor-team-for-fukushima-water-release.html
  • How safe will the wastewater release from F. Daiichi be? Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute is checking the San Onofre (SONGs) facility’s environment to find out. It has had “liquid batch releases” to the Pacific Ocean for many years. To insure reasonable transparency, California’s Surfrider Foundation acts as an external, independent testing option, just to be a watchdog. While San Onofre was operating, all water quality testing was done by Southern California Edison. The releases from the facility are piped more than a mile offshore at a depth of about 50 feet. It must be “purified” and diluted before release, just as will be the case with the fluids from F. Daiichi. The volume for this year has been about 200,000 gallons. At no time did the contamination level exceed regulatory limits. Concerning the radiological impact, Wood’s Hole‘s senior scientist, Ken Buessler, said, “You could still swim or surf every single day for an entire year and the dose effect of the additional radiation is about a thousand times smaller than a dental X-ray.” Southern California Edison adds thatSCE has been safely cleaning and discharging these liquids for more than 50 years with no measurable impact on the environment! https://www.latimes.com/california/story/2020-12-01/songs-surfrider?fbclid=IwAR2zCuOHfugRRx6QAnA287tQMS-vREEvrNRd6wyJemRXBlP1OnUDguUveQE
  • Meanwhile, Mutsu Mayor Soichiro Miyashita continues to take umbrage with siting a used nuclear fuel facility in Aomori Prefecture. Now, he argues that his community is "not a nuclear dumping site" and there is "no need" for Mutsu to accept the spent fuel from across Japan. Federation of Electric Power Companies of Japan (FEPC) vice chair Shimizu Shigenobu responded, "We want to move forward with considering (the plan) while we make efforts to gain understanding from local residents." Miyashita maintains that the facility has been “imposed” on his town and other more appropriate locations should be considered. He believes that the Mutsu facility will not be a temporary location, as it has been purported, but rather a permanent storage site. https://mainichi.jp/english/articles/20201219/p2a/00m/0na/012000c

December 18, 2020

  • Tokyo will give about $19,000 to families that return to evacuated Fukushima towns. Businesses that reopen will get roughly $38,000. The incentive program will start next year. Eleven of the communities were ordered to flee by the central government, while another, Hironomachi, was evacuated by order of the town government. The money is intended to increase the rate of repopulation since only about 20% have returned since evacuation orders were rescinded. In order to qualify, the residents must agree to live at the locations for at least five years. The maximum amount for returning home is for those who have relocated in other prefectures. Tokyo hopes that the money will cause 300 people to return the first year of the subsidy. Other monetary incentives will be given to promote town development and area revitalization. http://www.asahi.com/ajw/articles/14031389
  • The government will remove the two remaining wind power units off the shore of Futaba. The reason given is lack of financial profitability due to a poor operating record. Three units were built beginning in 2012 to demonstrate renewable power feasibility. It was literally a pipe dream. Capacity factors for wind turbines must be at 30% or more to make a profit. None of the units came close to that! Capacity factor is the ratio of actual electrical output over a given period of time compared to the maximum output over that period if the unit operated at 100% all the time. The wind units off Futaba had capacity factors that varied between 4% and 36%. Local people complain that taxpayer money has been wasted and an investigation should happen. The cost of the project was more than $550 million. https://english.kyodonews.net/news/2020/12/cb1e52acc2bc-govt-to-pull-out-of-60-bil-yen-wind-power-project-off-fukushima.html
  • Japan’s FEPC says twelve units using pluthermal nuclear fuel is possible Pluthermal fuel (MOX) is comprised of recycled uranium and plutonium extracted from used fuel bundles. The Federation of Electric Power Company’s original goal was to have as many as 18 units running on MOX bundles by 2015. At this point, only four units are using MOX fuel. But, FERC maintains the original goal is still possible. In order to meet that goal, nuke utilities need to agree to the mutual usage of the recycled fuel. Currently, plans to recycle the used fuel and fabricate new fuel bundles are a matter of individual utilities using only their own spent fuel. By combining their efforts, the cost of the fuel will be mitigated. Presidents of nine electric power companies that operate nuclear plants, such as Japan Atomic Power Co., are scheduled to meet to approve the pluthermal vision. Exacerbating the planning is a sudden two-year delay in finishing the Rokkasho nuclear fuel project, which has already passed the Nuclear Regulation Authority safety inspection. Instead of a 2022 start-up, it will begin operation in 2024.  https://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/en/news/20201217_32/ -- http://www.asahi.com/ajw/articles/14013780 --  https://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/en/news/20201216_35/ -- https://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/en/news/20201216_22/
  • The NRA is inspecting the Japan Atomic Power Company for evidence of malfeasance. Allegedly, the company rewrote safety review data to have Tsuruga unit #2 restarted. This is a rare procedure for the nuke watchdog. NRA Chairman Toyoshi Fuketa explained, "We hope to clarify the Japan Atomic Power's vision through the inspection." At issue is whether or not a fault line under the unit’s reactor building is active. During an administrative safety review, the NRA found about 80 data alterations and/or deletions in the company’s official documents. https://mainichi.jp/english/articles/20201214/p2a/00m/0na/012000c
  • Hokkaido communities formally object to requests to apply for preliminary studies concerning locating nuke waste storage sites near them. The Shimamaki village assembly passed an antinuclear waste ordinance to prevent said waste from passing through their town. The vote was four to three, with the assembly president abstaining. Supposedly, potential host site Suttsu refused to hear the Shimamaki opposition, which infuriated some to the town’s assembly. One opposing assembly member said, “Suttsu was not even going to listen to (opposing voices). It has to be stopped completely before moving from the first stage to the next.” He takes umbrage with Suttsu Mayor Haruo Kataoka for overriding local opposition and offering the town as a candidate for nuclear waste storage. It seems that three other communities are in agreement with the Shimamaki ordinance. In addition, the Furubira town assembly approved an opinion paper saying nuclear waste should not be brought into the northern island of Hokkaido at all. The first stage can be carried out without the consent of local governments, but the second and third stages must have local agreement. http://www.asahi.com/ajw/articles/14025336

December 11, 2020

  • A Fukushima wild mushroom harvester questions Japan’s overly-strict contamination standards. Tanagura resident Tsutomu Jinno says he never thought nearby wild mushrooms would be restricted because the town is 80 kilometers from F. Daiichi. He was wrong. The fungus absorbs radioactive Cesium at a high rate and literally stores it for long periods of time. Matsutake mushrooms are renowned for their great taste and unique aroma. They are considered a delicacy. But because of Japan’s overly-restrictive contamination limit of 100 Becquerels per kilogram, they cannot be harvested and eaten. Mr. Jinno collects as many as he can, they throws them away to limit the illegal practice. He says, “Honestly, it is painful to throw them away.” He wonders if the limit might be overly-restrictive. Koriyama Professor Hiroi Masaru suggests this might be the case, “Strict standards are necessary for foods we eat on a daily basis, such as rice, but we only consume mountain vegetables or wild mushrooms several times a year. The current radioactive levels would cause almost no harm.” In addition, International food standards tell us that 1000 Bq/kg or less is safe to consume. https://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/en/news/backstories/1401/
  • The NRA takes issue with last week’s Osaka court ruling on KEPCO nuke restarts. The court order prevents restart of Kansai units #3 & #4 allegedly because the Nuclear Regulation Authority violated its own safety regulations by not considering the most extreme hypothetical earthquake, far worse than anything ever occurring in Japan, and ”only” using the “average” of the data behind the regulations. A lawyer for the plaintiffs posited, “It is extremely significant that the court pointed out that the central government had ignored the very rules it created.” The court’s decision threatens to shutter all of Japan’s nukes. After a day to consider the outrageous ruling, an NRA earthquake expert said, “We were confident about the results of our screening, so it is a shock to have that rejected.” Another NRA official says, “If we took into consideration all possible factors, we would end up reaching a calculation for a phenomenon that would never occur.” Although the ruling stands for the time being, the NRA has no plans to review their regulations. An NRA source said, “This is still at the court of first instance.  It will not mean an immediate review of how the basic earthquake ground motion is calculated. It is too early to say this will affect other screenings because the Supreme Court has not yet finalized the ruling.” http://www.asahi.com/ajw/articles/13992247
  • The NRA says Japan’s first MOX fuel fabrication plant meets regulatory safety standards. Japan Nuclear Fuel Ltd’s (JNFL) Rokkasho unit formally passed NRA review on December 9th, after nearly seven years of deliberations. It is located in Aomori Prefecture.  By doing this, the  NRA says it meets or exceeds all stipulations in the Law for the Regulation of Nuclear Source Material, Nuclear Fuel Material and Reactors (the Reactor Regulation Law). The facility will recover uranium and plutonium from used nuclear fuel and refabricated as mixed uranium-plutonium oxide (MOX) fuel for use in light water reactors (LWRs). NRA Chairman Toyoshi Fuketa referred to a MOX supply-and-demand balance presented by the Japan Atomic Energy Commission (JAEC). This means that used fuel reprocessing and MOX fuel fabrication ought to be treated concurrently so that safety and resistance to nuclear proliferation were “both enhanced.” In October, the NRA endorsed draft certification documents showing the plant cleared the screening requirements adopted after the 2011 F. Daiichi accident. The unit is scheduled for completion in the first half of 2022. https://www.jaif.or.jp/en/japans-nra-recognizes-compatibility-of-jnfls-mox-fuel-fabrication-plant-with-new-regulatory-standards-approving-changes/ -- https://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/en/news/20201209_32/ -- https://jen.jiji.com/jc/eng?g=eco&k=2020120900861
  • Japan’s Federation of Electric Power Companies considers joint use of a temporary used fuel storage facility. The Mutsu unit is co-owned by Tepco and Japan Atomic Power Company (JAPCO). It is located in Aomori Prefecture and scheduled to open in 2021. Originally intended for only Tepco and JAPCO used fuel storage, the F. Daiichi accident greatly reduced the potential influx of used fuel bundles. Thus, there should be room to accommodate fuel bundles from other companies for a fee. Some of the fee-based fuel bundles are expected to come from Kansai Electric Company, which is being pressured by Fukui Prefecture to identify a candidate site for its spent fuel storage. it is a condition for local authorities to decide whether to approve the restart of the Takahama units #1 & #2 and Mihama unit # 3 reactor. All three have exceeded Tokyo’s largely arbitrary 40 year operating limit. https://jen.jiji.com/jc/eng?g=eco&k=2020121100148

December 4, 2020

  • An Osaka court hands down a potential landmark by rejecting Japan’s revamped nuclear safety rules. The decision, if it is not struck down, could have far-reaching implications. The NRA uses the same method to judge the safety levels of all other nukes. The ruling made the roughly 130 plaintiffs virtually giddy with joy. They argued that Nos. 3 and 4 units of Kansai Electric Power Co.'s Oi nuclear station in Fukui Prefecture are vulnerable to a major earthquake. Presiding Judge Hajime Morikagi said the Nuclear Regulation Authority's safety screening "has errors and flaws that should not be overlooked", suggesting a quake far greater than what the NRA believes is possible. Plaintiff lawyers say the decision resulted from "sincere and serious deliberations." As a result, they demand the immediate abolition of all "dangerous" nuclear units in Japan. To the contrary. NRA Lawyers responded that the plaintiffs’ arguments are “something they came up on their own and not based on scientific knowledge. We believe we were unable to earn the court's understanding regarding our claims. We will have discussions with the ministries and agencies concerned and respond accordingly.” Plant owner Kansai Electric Company posted that decision was "extremely regrettable and totally unacceptable." The court interprets a recent NRA regulatory provision saying the screening guidelines should account for variability due to various calculation methods. The plaintiffs say safety measures must be based on the most extreme earthquake conceivable for the region, and the NRA’s current calculation method merely produces an “average” for the regulatory design basis. Both Oi units are currently shut down for refueling and scheduled maintenance. They may restart if the NRA appeals the decision. Regardless, the ruling applies to all units in Japan until such time as it is struck down.  https://jen.jiji.com/jc/eng?g=eco&k=2020120400954 -- http://www.asahi.com/ajw/articles/13989665 -- https://english.kyodonews.net/news/2020/12/8c717cf8568d-urgent-japan-court-nullifies-approval-of-oi-nuclear-reactor-safety-steps.html -- https://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/en/news/20201204_27/ (The court decision is immediately the lead story through-out Japan’s news outlets. The above-listed references seem to embrace the range of Press coverage.)
  • Many voluntary evacuees are paying the price for their radiophobic decision to flee. Some 40 % of Fukushima evacuees are making less than $29,000 per year, which is considered low income in Japan. A survey held by Kwansei Gakuin University's Institute of Disaster Area Revitalization, Regrowth and Governance found that 75% of the low income respondents were From Fukushima Prefecture. Of them, 60% evacuated voluntarily! Before the nuke accident, average income was about $38,000 annually. 90% of the voluntary single-mother evacuees are included in the low income demographic. Close to 70% of respondents said they had no intention of returning home. Gakuin University’s Shigeki Yamanaka, says,, "Single-mother evacuees …have to take on two or three jobs. There needs to be a basic income system guaranteeing a minimum income for people who evacuate in a nuclear disaster, as well as a fund to support those people." https://jen.jiji.com/jc/eng?g=eco&k=2020120100633 -- https://mainichi.jp/english/articles/20201128/p2a/00m/0na/013000c

November 27, 2020

  • F. Daiichi unit #1 passes a milestone. Work has finished which should prevent large debris from falling into the fuel storage pool. Specifically, the 161 ton crane that has been hanging over the pool for nearly 10 years. Tepco has released a video showing a bag moved below the broken device, which will be filled with mortar to support it and keep it from moving. The next step is fabricating a cover over the entire fuel handling deck area, now exposed to the elements. Removal of the fuel bundles from the pool remains scheduled for 2027. https://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/en/news/20201127_05/
  • Premium Fukushima rice is now available in Japan. The market debut was on November 10th in Tokyo and Fukushima City. Fukushima Gov. Masao Uchibori said, “We would like you to feel the tastiness of Fukushima-produced rice, packed with farmers’ passion, and break into a wide smile.” Takashi Kanno, head of the Japanese Agricultural Cooperatives (JA), spoke at the unveiling and said, “We would like to ask for your cooperation so that the new rice will be enjoyed nationwide.” The rice was harvested from a new premium breed planted in several Fukushima locations earlier this year. http://www.fukushimaminponews.com/news.html?id=1034
  • A British YouTuber makes another video about tsunami recovery. The video was made by Britisher Chris Broad and has already amassed over a million views. He says his trip to the tsunami ravaged city of Ishinomaki in 2013 inspired him to make post-calamity videos. During his recent interview with the Mainichi Shimbun, he said, "After the disaster you don't really hear about the tsunami today, and all you hear about is Fukushima, and the nuclear disaster that overshadowed everything," However, after seeing the disaster-hit areas with his own eyes, he was moved to share the reality that tens of thousands of people had passed away in the tsunami. With is first video in 2018, he realized the people’s resilience with the rebound made by the town of Onagawa, Miyagi Prefecture, which was inundated by the massive tsunami. Returning to Onagawa this year, he was awed by the construction of a massive sea wall around the town. But also saddened that the process of recovery continued, even though the disaster happened nine years earlier. The links to the videos are https://youtu.be/ObSo4VxCFzs (“What Happened in Japan After the Tsunami?”) and https://youtu.be/gR5KVIP7PKk (“Japan’s $200 Billion Disaster: Stories from the Tsunami”) The videos reveal the horror of an actual natural disaster, largely avoiding reference to F. Daiichi! https://mainichi.jp/english/articles/20201121/p2a/00m/0fe/022000c
  • A Tomioka resident is recognized in Guinness World Records. Badminton star Kento Momota is listed as the winner of "the most badminton men's singles titles in a season" because of 11 victories this year. Momota was named the Male Player of the Year for 2019 by the Badminton World Federation. He won the BWF World Championships for the second straight year, and five other international tournaments. The Japanese star said, "It's an honor and great privilege. I'm happy to have my name listed in a famous book everybody knows.” http://www.fukushimaminponews.com/news.html?id=1035
  • Takahama Town Ok’s the restart of nuke units #1 and #2. Both have reached their 40 year licensing limit for operation, and have the official OK for 20-year extensions. #1 began to run in 2014 and #2 a year later. These will be the first Japanese nukes to operate beyond 40 years. Unit #1 is expected to restart in March, and unit #2 in May of 2018. Takahama’s mayor and the Miyagi governor have not yet approved the restarts.  http://www.asahi.com/ajw/articles/13961345
  • Two-thirds of Fukushima’s remaining evacuees have no desire to return home. It is estimated that there are still nearly 37,000 evacuees who remain estranged from their former homes. A poll taken by Kwansei Gakuin University had a relatively poor response, but showed about 65% of the respondents will not go back. However, some 23% said they still want to return. Of those who replied in the negative, 46% said they are afraid of radiation and 45% said they have comfortably settled down in the places they now live. https://english.kyodonews.net/news/2020/11/675982b84707-65-of-fukushima-evacuees-have-no-intention-of-returning-home-survey.html
  • Radiophobia prevents the revival of Fukushima forestry. More than 70% of the prefecture is tree-covered, but large tracts have been abandoned and/or neglected since the F. Daiichi nuke accident of March, 2011, even though most of the deposited contaminants have been washed away by wind and rain. A local forest cooperative has returned in the hope of restoring the industry, resulting in the return of residents. What stands in the way is phobic fear of residual low level radioactive contamination. Local forestry head Akimoto Kimio is cautiously optimistic, “Our mission is to take good care of our hometown forests and enhance the surrounding environment. We will help lay the groundwork to ensure residents can return worry-free. We hope many will come home.” https://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/en/news/backstories/1383/

November 20, 2020

  • Seeds for Greek olive trees will be given to Naraha in Fukushima Prefecture. Naraha is a “host Town” for one of the of three Tohoku Region prefectures designated by Tokyo to boost reconstruction. The seeds will first be sent to the International Space Station for next planting season. They will be kept for about a month on the ISS in the Japanese Experimental Module "Kibo" (hope) before being returned and sent to Naraha. They will be planted in and around the town to show good will between Greece and Japan, concerning next summer’s Olympics. http://www.fukushimaminponews.com/news.html?id=1033
  • Sendai unit #1 resumes operation. It was shut down on May 20th for planned maintenance and routine refueling. However, the outage was prolonged because the plant’s mandated safety upgrades were behind schedule. The facilities included the installation of emergency remotes-control rooms, power sources, and additional water-injection pumps for damage prevention. They were required by Tokyo to deter a hypothetical terrorist takeover of the unit. Sendai #1 is the first nuke in Japan to have a remotely located “Specific Severe Accident” response facility become operational. It was approved by the Nuclear Regulation Authority on November 11th. The unit began restarting on November 17th and the reactor was taken critical the following day. Unit #2 is expected to have its own emergency operating facility ready to for a December 26th restart.  https://www.jaif.or.jp/en/kyushu-electric-starts-operating-facilities-at-sendai-1-npp-designed-for-specific-severe-accident-response-first-time-in-japan/ -- http://www.asahi.com/ajw/articles/13944771
  • The government has begun the long, tedious process of locating Japan’s first high-level waste repository. On Nov. 17th, Economy Minister Hiroshi Kajiyama approved plans to launch the first selection stage for two small Hokkaido municipalities—Suttsu and Kamoenai--as possible sites for the reprocessed waste from nuclear power plants. In this first stage, Tokyo officials will examine documents and maps of seismic activity for about two years and meet with local officials to explain safety considerations. The next stage will include test borings into the geology for study. The final stage will be the building of the facility. Oversight will be handled by the Nuclear Waste Management Organization of Japan (NUMO). NUMO started canvassing municipalities to apply for siting consideration in 2002. Toyo Town in Kochi Prefecture was the first to apply in 2007, but fierce local opposition resulted in the application being withdrawn. Suttsu and Kamoenai have taken the plunge, largely due to a substantial financial enticement (~$19 million). On Nov. 17 Hokkaido Governor Naomichi Suzuki said he opposed the process, citing an ordinance stating that no nuclear waste should be brought onto Hokkaido for disposal. http://www.asahi.com/ajw/articles/13941302

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  

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