Fukushima Accident Updates (Blog)


Your most reliable source of objective Fukushima News... summaries of news reports in Japan's Press on Fukushima Daiichi, often mis-stated as a nuclear disaster.

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January 20, 2023

January 13, 2023

January 6, 2023

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

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

December 31, 2022 

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

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

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

December 23, 2022

  • It's official... Japan's nukes can operate for sixty years or more! Plus, new nukes can be built to replace those decommissioned. Why? To meet carbon-neutral goals! Prime Minister Kishida Fumio explained, "To realize this basic policy, the government will listen to a wide range of opinions before submitting Diet legislation for achieving a carbon-neutral society." To try and soften the blow, the Nuclear Regulation Authority will begin site-by-site safety evaluations after thirty years of operation, and every ten years thereafter. This is a major setback for the antinuclear demographic to be sure. https://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/en/news/20221222_42/ - https://mainichi.jp/english/articles/20221221/p2a/00m/0na/006000c - https://jen.jiji.com/jc/eng?g=eco&k=2022122100539

  • An antinuclear request for stopping nuke operation is rejected by the NRA. The Osaka District Court briefly considered a proposed injunction against Mihama unit #3 based on its age and hypothetical susceptibility to experience an earthquake-caused accident. Owner Kansai Electric argued that there were no safety issues to worry about. The decision was obviously influenced by Tokyo's new operating policy. Mihama #3 is the first nuke over 40 years old to receive permission to continue operation under the new ruling. https://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/en/news/20221220_20/ - https://www.asahi.com/ajw/articles/14797404

  • Tepco reports that foreign nuclear officials visited F. Daiichi last month. Authorities from various countries, including Canada, Finland, France, Spain, Switzerland and the United States, came to the plant site on November 27, 2023. Why this was not previously reported by the Japanese press is anybody's guess. https://photo.tepco.co.jp/library/221220_01/221220_01e.pdf

  • More no-go zones will begin decontamination in 2023. Reconstruction Minister Akiba Kenya said the decontamination work includes parts of Okuma and Futaba towns. The cost is estimated to be about $44 million. https://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/en/news/20221217_01/

  • Fukushima's generously-endowed evacuees get even more money from Tokyo! Revised guidelines call for an additional $52,000 for each person who evacuated from the mandated “no-go” zone. Plus, those who voluntarily fled from areas 20 to 30 kilometers from F. Daiichi will get another $19,000. Both are in addition to the huge sums we have posted about previously. https://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/en/news/20221220_41/ - https://www.asahi.com/ajw/articles/14797384

  • The Asahi Shimbun literally condemns Tokyo for its new nuclear policy. The Asahi is Japan's second-most read news outlet. The posting opens with “Prime Minister Fumio Kishida is embarking on yet another radical policy shift without weighing the possible consequences.” The Asahi also says it is a “rash move based on dubious logic” that leaves “numerous questions unanswered”. It closes with “any rash change in nuclear policy is unacceptable. (Aside – Rash? Hardly! Tokyo clearly studied the issue long and hard before posting the new, nuclear-friendly policy. The Asahi is WAY out of line. - end aside) https://www.asahi.com/ajw/articles/14800117

December 16, 2022 

  • Tokyo proposes new guidelines for future and existing nukes. The Nuclear Energy Subcommittee under the Advisory Committee for Natural Resources and Energy says, safety comes first in the development and use of nuclear energy,” based on six criteria. Included will be integrated efforts to start nukes, extending operating lifetimes to at least 60 years, developing next generation systems, improved supply chains, and more. Subcommittee members also offered opinions on strengthening back-end measures, including reprocessing (recycling) to produce reactor-grade Plutonium for Mixed Oxide fuel. https://www.jaif.or.jp/en/news/6240

December 9, 2022

  • Japan's Industry Ministry plans on the re-use of decontaminated Fukushima soils. There is currently about 14 million cubic meters of it in “temporary” storage, in Fukushima Prefecture. Preliminary “tests” will take place in Tokorozawa City and Tokyo's Shinjuku Gyoen National Garden, to try and overcome anticipated public anxiety. Minister Akihiro Nishimura said, “We would like to use the experiments to gain public understanding regarding the reuse of the soil.” The Ministry has reused decontaminated soil for farmland in Iitate without incident. Similar trials in Minami-Soma and Nihonmatsu cities fell through after residents opposed. https://www.asahi.com/ajw/articles/14786753

  • The Industry Ministry writes new guidelines for nukes. It calls for the collaboration of all those concerned to restart nuclear reactors that remain offline. It will also allow for next generation nukes to replace those decommissioned. It is supported by business representatives and industry experts. https://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/en/news/20221208_23/

  • A top Japanese news outlet calls Tokyo “shameless”. It is because of recent nuke planning. The Mainichi Shimbun decries Tokyo's desire to decarbonize electrical generation using nukes. The newspaper believes doing this safely with nukes is not possible because water will always be needed to cool cores. Worse natural disasters than 3/11/11 are allegedly possible and cannot be accounted for. And then there is the old saw that disposal of nuclear waste is unsolvable. These are clearly antinuclear beliefs steeped in radiophobia. In this reporter's opinion, it is the Mainichi that is being shameless. https://mainichi.jp/english/articles/20221205/p2a/00m/0op/010000c - https://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/en/news/20221209_17/

December 2, 2022

  • France delivers more Mixed Oxide Fuel (MOX) to Japan. MOX is a mixture of new Uranium with recycled reactor Plutonium extracted from used fuel from Kansai Electric nukes. This most recent shipment was delayed by a year due to technical difficulties at the french factory. This is the sixth such shipment to arrive for the Takahama station.A Kansai Electric official told the Mainichi Shimbun, "We've confirmed that the delivered assemblies fulfill a certain level of quality." Kansai Electric has sufficient recycled Plutonium to have more than 210 fuel assemblies fabricated. https://mainichi.jp/english/articles/20221124/p2a/00m/0bu/009000c - https://jen.jiji.com/jc/eng?g=eco&k=2022112200567

  • The IAEA visit we posted November 18 has completed. The intent was to assess the safety of F. Daiichi's ALPS-treated wastewaters. The IAEA team news release says Our reports will be made widely available to the public. The IAEA’s scientific assessments should provide confidence to the people of Japan and to all IAEA member countries.”https://www.jaif.or.jp/en/news/6214

  • The Economy Ministry issues a draft action plan to extend nuclear operating licenses beyond 60 years. It also says the 60 year limit will exclude periods of suspension for safety inspections and lawsuits. This means that a nuke idle 10 years for such reasons could operate for up to 70 years. In addition, the development and construction of next-generation nuclear power plants will be built to replace decommissioned plants. This is in line with Prime Minister Kishida's desire to “make maximum use of nuclear energy”. New plants will only be built to replace retire ones and only on properties currently holding nukes. https://japannews.yomiuri.co.jp/society/general-news/20221128-73799/

November 25, 2022

  • IAEA report on F. Daiichi treated water to be released before this coming spring. The International Atomic Energy Agency says it will post the report just before the first release to the sea. IAEA director of safety, Gustavo Caruso, said the team has reviewed technical aspects of the project with transparency. He added that the report will offer a sense of safety for Japan as well as the international community. He also said there will be another IAEA visit in January. https://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/en/news/20221118_42/

  • A small part of Iitate village will have its evacuation order lifted in the spring. Mayor Makoto Sugioka says the order will be lifted without prior decontamination and consent of the residents has been given. There is only one household in the subject district. Tokyo says the area is below the standard for removing the restriction, so decontamination is not needed. https://www.asahi.com/ajw/articles/14773728

November 18, 2022

  • The IAEA begins its second safety inspection on F. Daiichi wastewater. The International Atomic Energy Agency's visiting team includes Gustavo Caruso, Director of the Department of Safety and Security. The team is made up of officials from 11 nations including nay-saying neighbors, China and South Korea. Caruso says the team will check the progress to construct facilities for water releases and collect baseline seawater samples. They will post a report on the visit early in 2023. The following includes two pictorials of the visit. https://japannews.yomiuri.co.jp/society/general-news/20221115-70909/ - https://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/en/news/20221114_19/ - https://photo.tepco.co.jp/en/date/2022-e/202211-e/221116-01e.html (pictorial) - https://photo.tepco.co.jp/en/date/2022-e/202211-e/221111-01e.html (pictorial)

  • The F. Daiichi wastewater discharge outlet has been installed. The outlet caisson (large reinforced concrete box} was lowered in place today. The area around it will be back-filled and sealed with concrete in preparation for arrival of the shield machine that will bore the tunnel beneath the seabed. The caisson measures 9x12x10 meters. https://www.tepco.co.jp/en/hd/decommission/information/newsrelease/reference/pdf/2022/reference_20221118_01-e.pdf

  • The NRA approves N-plant operating licenses for 60 years, in principle. The Nuclear regulation Authority has previously licensed Nuke plants for 40 years, with a possible 20 year extension if “hard” inspections show it to be possible. After 30 years of operation, these inspections will occur every 10 years. This policy has been previously approved by the Industry Ministry. https://japannews.yomiuri.co.jp/business/economy/20221116-71307/

  • The World Assembly for Women (WAW) will consider women's needs during emergencies. The 2022 conference will be held in Tokyo on December 3rd. Following the nuke accident in 2011, some female evacuees filed complaints about needs of infants and children were not being met. Similar complaints have been filed due to the war in the Ukraine. As a result of multi-national postings, United Nation's officials will participate. The conference will draw up a set of recommendations for national-level policy-making regarding support for women during disasters. Advisor to the Prime Minister Masako Mori says, "We would like to see that the conference will lead to female support coming true while using stories on women in Fukushima as lessons.” http://www.fukushimaminponews.com/news.html?id=1144

  • An antinuclear petition drive has accumulated nearly 9 million signatures. The drive has been on-going since the F. Daiichi accident in 2011. Journalist Satoshi Kamata says, “After 11 years, the government is now trying to turn back the clock to nuclear power.” https://www.asahi.com/ajw/articles/14766672

November 11, 2022

  • Tokyo considers extending nuke operations beyond the current 60 year licensing period. There are two possibilities being looked at by the Industrial Ministry. One is to remove the 60 year limit outright, without restrictions. The other is to keep the 60 year cap, but not count periods idled by regulatory screenings or court ordered estoppel injunctions. Only periods of actual operation will count towards the 40-60 year licensing limit. The Ministry wants do make its decision by the end of the year. The nuke industry maintains that operation beyond 60 years will be safe if approved maintenance is retained. Unfortunately, the chief of the Nuclear Regulation Authority (NRA), Shinsuke Yamanaka, has reservations about it. He says it “would make it very difficult to design” safety regulations, “It is important for safety regulations to look at the status of nuclear power plants on a calendar year basis [without excluding offline periods].” He used concrete deterioration as one of his main concerns. The anti nuke-leaning Asahi Shimbun belittles the possibility by calling it a “scramble” to extend nuke lifetimes to 70 years and anti-nuke “experts” argue that reactors and relevant equipment cannot avoid time-related degradation even when they are offline. https://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/en/news/20221108_23/ - https://english.kyodonews.net/news/2022/11/5fd2ab0ff7ce-japan-looks-to-finalize-nuclear-reactor-service-extension-by-year-end.html - https://jen.jiji.com/jc/eng?g=eco&k=2022110801138 - https://japannews.yomiuri.co.jp/business/economy/20221110-69937/ - https://www.asahi.com/ajw/articles/14762992

  • NRA's Fukushima Regional Office head, Ryusuke Kobayashi, feels especially qualified for the job. He studied nuke fusion in graduate school, and spent two years at Three Mile Island in America before applying for the job. He began his time at F. Daiichi in 2011. He has been part of the NRA Secretariat in 2013. He has been head of the office since 2017. He has been instrumental on making Tepco employees feel safe in revealing problems at the plant site. He says, “We can locate the cause of the problems if we communicate better with the workers,” and, “I go to work with a strong sense of determination to work for Fukushima for the rest of my life.” https://www.asahi.com/ajw/articles/14741875

  • U.S. Industry representatives visit F. Daiichi. (pictorial) https://photo.tepco.co.jp/en/date/2022-e/202211-e/221107-01e.html

  • So far, F. Daiichi has cost Japan $82 billion. This is according to the Japanese Board of Audit. This is nearly half of the total cost of about $140 billion, which includes about $50 billion in compensation payments. The government pays the “compensation costs” with money borrowed from financial institutions or through other means. A BOA official says the current cost estimate is sound, “We sincerely listen to various views but at least at the moment, we do not believe the cost will surpass the estimated figure, and we do not plan to review it.” https://www.asahi.com/ajw/articles/14762193

November 4, 2022

  • Japan's NRA considers extending nuclear licenses to as long as eighty years. The Secretariat of the Nuclear Regulation Authority announced this on Wednesday. Nukes that are at least 30 years old will be screened for safety once per decade, and extended for ten years if they pass the test. NRA Chairman Shinsuke Yamanaka said the new proposal “is a regulation much stricter than the current one” for an extension to 60 years. The Secretariat explained the repeated testing by saying “The safety risk due to ‘aging degradation’ increases as time passes.” Pressure vessel embrittlement, containment corrosion, and possible concrete deterioration are listed as the main concerns. PM Fumio Kishida says Japan will use nuclear reactors that meet stringent safety standards in order to reduce carbon emissions and secure a stable electricity supply. The proposal also says the time a unit remains idled for safety reviews will continue to count as part of the operating period, although some of the staff feels otherwise. https://www.asahi.com/ajw/articles/14759438 - https://english.kyodonews.net/news/2022/11/7163c5d57f67-japan-aging-nuclear-plants-may-be-checked-at-least-once-a-decade.html - https://jen.jiji.com/jc/eng?g=eco&k=2022110201213

  • Tepco continues to try and convince foreign governments to drop opposition to the wastewater release. Spokesperson Akira Ono promised to share information openly and not only with neighboring countries. He added that it is important for people to feel secure with the release.   https://www.jaif.or.jp/en/news/6184

  • Masao Uchibori has won a third term as governor of Fukushima Prefecture. He gained over 575, 000 votes, easily distancing opponent Yoshiaki Kusano who got less than 78,000 votes. Kusano ran on a ticket based on opposition to the release of the harmless wastewater from the nuke plant. He was supported by the Japanese Communist Party. https://jen.jiji.com/jc/eng?g=eco&k=2022103100009

  • Japan will consider developing a next generation reactor system. The HTGR (High-Temperature Gas-cooled Reactor, which uses helium gas to cool the reactor's core, instead of demineralized water. This will allow higher coolant temperatures that will improve operational efficiency through the used of gas turbines. Proponents say it will also be safer than standard BWRs an PWRs. If japan is successful, it will be the world's first commercial HTGR. Industry Minister Nishimura Yasutoshi says nuclear power is extremely important to achieve both stable power supply and decarbonization and the HTGR will not succumb to the shortfalls of BWRs and PWRS. https://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/en/news/20221029_14/ - https://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/en/news/20221029_17/

  • A brief (20 second) video on nuclear waste container safety is posted on tiktok. It is very good... highly recommended. https://www.tiktok.com/@bigcleanenergy/video/7119469076917046574?is_from_webapp=v1&item_id=7119469076917046574

October 21, 2022

  • Higashidori's mayor asks Tepco to finish its nuke plant. Mayor Hatanaka Toshiaki visited Tepco headquarters on Tuesday to make the personal request. He wants a firm completion timetable before the end of March, 2023. Unit No. 1 construction was halted in 2011 at 10% completion. It must pass the Nuclear Regulation Authority's post-Fukushima approval. The mayor said circumstances surrounding nuclear power and the government's energy policy are changing, and he wants the town's nuke finished before the community loses patience. https://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/en/news/20221018_24/

  • The wastewater issue is the focus of the Fukushima governor's race. Incumbent Masao Uchibori supports the government's position on the matter, but his opponent, Yoshiaki Kusano, backed by the Communist Party, takes the opposite stance. Uchibori says, "Our long battle with reputational damage from the nuclear accident will continue," and "I would like to take on the challenges of keeping the reconstruction works moving and revitalizing regional communities with all my energy and heart." Meanwhile Kusano opposes the release of the harmless waters and accused Uchibori of "effectively tolerating the wastewater release plan” proffered by Tokyo. rhttp://www.fukushimaminponews.com/news.html?id=1136

  • Sendai Units 1 & 2 seek licensing extensions beyond 40 years. Kyushu Electric testing shows there will be no problem in extending the largely arbitrary operating lifetime of 40 years. If the Nuclear Regulation Authority approves it, the units will be the fifth and sixth Japanese nukes to have their politically-based lifetimes extended to 60 years. The Kagoshima governor does not oppose the Kyushu Electric request. https://www.jaif.or.jp/en/news/6180

October 14, 2022

  • Japan plans to reestablish stable supplies of energy. On September 28, METI minister Nishimura pointed to the war in the Ukraine that has altered the global energy situation, saying “Scrambles for energy are expected to intensify in the future.” He added that nukes can solve the problems that will likely surface. Here are the caveats – (1) 17 nukes that have cleared compatibility examinations are put in service by 2030 (2) Those under construction bring the total to 36, and (3) all nukes have their licensing lifetimes extended to 80 years. https://www.jaif.or.jp/en/news/6155

  • Meanwhile, the U.N. says Japan should do more for Fukushima evacuees. Specifically, housing, jobs and other needs, regardless of whether they fled forcibly or not. Human rights expert Cecilia Jimenez-Damary said government programs to assist them have not been effectively used to address the vulnerability of the evacuees, “Those laws should not remain just laws on the books, but they should be implemented. Unfortunately, because they are not fully implemented, to a certain extent, this explains the proliferation of litigation against TEPCO and the government.” She added that evacuees have received unequal treatment depending on whether they were forced to leave no-go zones or left voluntarily. Voluntary evacuees are seen as having left unnecessarily and are excluded from TEPCO compensation and many other government support measures. “The categorization of forced evacuees and voluntary evacuees, especially when it comes to receiving support and assistance, should therefore be dropped in practice,” adding that the discrimination has “no justification under international law.” Seven people from Fukushima have been diagnosed with thyroid cancer, and another 290 are so suspected, from the 380,000 children who were age 18 or younger at the time of the tsunami-caused accident. It is felt this rate is due to over diagnosis. https://www.asahi.com/ajw/articles/14738336 - https://mainichi.jp/english/articles/20221008/p2g/00m/0na/020000c

October 7, 2022

  • Japan to consider lifting the 60 year limit on nuke operations. Previously, the limit for operation was 40 years, with a possible 20 year extension after reaching 40 years. The possible extension could go beyond the 60 year total. PM Kishida wants to see what can be done to reduce future carbon emissions. Nuclear Regulation Authority Chair Shinsuke Yamanaka says,"We can assure you that strict regulations will never be compromised."https://jen.jiji.com/jc/eng?g=eco&k=2022100501092 - https://mainichi.jp/english/articles/20221006/p2g/00m/0sc/003000c

  • Mihama unit #3 has completed its prolonged outage. In July 2021, it was the first Japanese nuke to be restarted beyond 40 years of licensing. The current planned outage began in October 2021, but restart has been delayed while awaiting completion of the NRA mandated emergency (remote) operating facility. The facility became operational on July 28th. https://www.jaif.or.jp/en/news/6150

September 30, 2022

  • Tokyo's new Minister of Reconstruction visits F. Daiichi. Mr. Kenya Akiba overlooked the station from high ground, was briefed on the chemical characteristics of ALPS treated wastewater, and saw the marine organism rearing facility. (pictorial) https://photo.tepco.co.jp/en/date/2022-e/202209-e/220928-01e.html

  • A closing ceremony was held in Namie for nine Fukushima schools. Mayor Eikou Yoshida of Namie said, "The closing of the schools, which were communities that bounded the area and acted as symbols, has left a gaping hole in my heart."Tsushima Junior High School graduate Sumio Konno added that the ceremony revived his memories of the school before its forced its closing. https://mainichi.jp/english/articles/20220926/p2a/00m/0na/009000 

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