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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July 31, 2020

  • A “Youth Pilot Program” has opened in Fukushima City. The first lessons were taught this past week at Fukushima Sky Park in the prefecture’s capital city. Three high school students from other prefectures took part in the three day instruction period. They will take training monthly until August, 2021. One of the students said, "I would like to learn the basics of flight through the training here and become a pilot who inspires people.” Their teacher, Yoshihide Muroya, said, "It is important to establish a pilot-fostering environment. I hope they will take advantage of the training program to lead the aviation industry in the future." http://www.fukushimaminponews.com/news.html?id=1017
  • A gas explosion destroys a Koriyama restaurant. One man died and eighteen other people were injured. The blast occurred on Thursday morning. The restaurant has been closed for renovation during the COVID19 pandemic. The renovation was all but completed and the restaurant was due to reopen today, July 31. The restaurant was totally destroyed with only its steel frame left standing. Damage to surrounding homes and businesses are what caused the 18 injured persons. President of the Colowide restaurant chain said, “We sincerely apologize for causing a serious accident." Firefighters found six propane gas cylinders, three of which showed signs of leakage. https://english.kyodonews.net/news/2020/07/edb3c5b9746f-urgent-at-least-10-injured-in-fukushima-explosion-gas-leak-suspected.html
  • Japan’s NRA affirms the safety of the Rokkasho nuclear fuel recycling facility. On Wednesday, the Nuclear Regulation Authority unanimously concluded that the nuclear fuel reprocessing plant meets current all current safety standards for starting operations. Owner Japan Nuclear Fuel Ltd. still needs approval of remaining construction before actually starting then plant. In addition, approval for operation needs to be garnered from local officials. The output of the process will be Mixed Oxide fuel (MOX) containing left-over U-235 plus plutonium-239 from spent (used) fuel bundles. The NRA adopted a draft assessment on safety in May, and then solicited public opinions. More than 750 such opinions were received, many of which voiced concerns about hypothetical radioactive material leaks. The NRA said that safety measures already in place meet or exceed Japan’s post-Fukushima regulations. The facility is expected to begin operation in 2022. Chairman Toyoshi Fuketa said, “The examination had been suspended at one point due to quality management issues. It then took quite a long time to obtain common understanding.” The facility’s completion date has changed more than 20 times since 2013. A dissenting local lawyer’s group insists that regulatory approval was biased from the outset. On the other hand, local industry officials are pleased with the NRA’s decision. https://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/en/news/20200729_20/ -- https://jen.jiji.com/jc/eng?g=eco&k=2020072900581 -- https://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/en/news/20200729_29/ -- https://www.jaif.or.jp/en/nra-permits-jnfl-to-alter-rokkasho-reprocessing-plant-its-having-complied-with-new-regulatory-standards/  --http://www.asahi.com/ajw/articles/13591351
  • Some subcontractors hired for reconstruction in the Tohoku region, illicitly spent some of the taxpayer money. $1.51 million of public funds are now in question. Four construction companies accepted financial gifts from designated subcontractors, out of the more than $10 billion designated for reconstruction in the region. Subcontractors pooled the excess money into questionable slush funds. The slush funds were discovered by the Tokyo Regional Taxation Bureau. The Bureau ordered two contractors to pay penalties for tax evasion. Tax authorities in Osaka and Sendai are leading the investigation. Since 2011, more than $100 billion in taxpayer money has been spent on infrastructure projects to build roads, embankments and housing in the disaster-hit region, more than half of which has been spent on rebuilding communities damaged pursuant to the nuclear accident. The Tohoku Region stretches from Fukushima Prefecture to the northern tip of Aomori Prefecture. http://www.asahi.com/ajw/articles/13581931
  • The Tokyo Cabinet Office wants to remove the term “advisory” from formal evacuation orders. It is hoped this will transmit the seriousness of the situation in a clearer fashion. The agency hopes to have a draft revision for the basic law on disaster response by this fall and submit the draft to parliament next year. Tokyo has come under fire for not making evacuation commands clear and unmistakable, allegedly resulting in needless public harm. The basic law on evacuations was established in 1961. https://jen.jiji.com/jc/eng?g=eco&k=2020072700428
  • Japan’s Environment Minister wants to stop state assistance for the overseas export of coal plant technology. Minister Shinjiro Koizumi said the government is placing stricter conditions on funding thermal (coal) plant technology so that “in principle such support would not be conducted.” Koizumi believes this action will end the export of coal plant technology. He emphasized the importance of reducing Japan’s dependence on fossil fuels such as petroleum and coal. Koizumi is an avid supporter of the production of energy from solar and wind. http://www.asahi.com/ajw/articles/13576760
  • The Asahi Shimbun reports the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists doomsday clock is now set closer to midnight than after WWII! The reasons for resetting the clock so close to the doomsday hour were shared by former U.S. Defense Secretary William Perry and Ploughshares Policy Director Tom Collina. The main reason is the downsizing of nuclear warheads in the U.S. and Russia, making it appear that nuclear holocaust would be less destructive than in the past.  They add mental and/or stability problems of the leaders of nuclear weapon states, such President Trump’s impulsiveness and penchant for mood swings, exacerbate the situation. Also mentioned was the possibility of computer error.  Finally, the two experts say that the COVID19 pandemic is weakening national economies, and increased deficit spending might cause funds earmarked for nuclear weapon’s safety to be shifted elsewhere. http://www.asahi.com/ajw/articles/13584989
  • Though not specifically Fukushima news, it should be noted that Kyodo News says despite the existence of escalating tension between the two superpowers, China supports President Trump’s re-election! Why? A Chinese government source says it is because Trump’s re-election would further divide the world leaders and erode America’s international credibility, thus opening a window of opportunity to expand China’s burgeoning dominance on the world stage. Also, Chinese President Xi Jinping believes the republicans are "easier to deal with" than the Democrats. This is a most surprising turn considering this recent hostile closure of consulates in both countries and bickering between Washington and Beijing about whether or not China was negligent in telling the world about COVID19. https://english.kyodonews.net/news/2020/07/08719863bcd0-focus-china-hopes-for-trumps-reelection-despite-escalating-tensions.html

                                                July 24, 2020                                                     

There were no Fukushima or reasonably related updates in either the Japanese or international Press over the past week. We assume the dearth of Fukushima reporting is due to the COVID19 pandemic’s effect in Japan, which has caused a major slow-down in recovery efforts at F. Daiichi. We will continue our diligent daily investigations, nonetheless!

Stay safe, everyone!

July 17, 2020

  • There is a “boom” in new hotel construction around F. Daiichi! The reason is to accommodate people involved with reconstruction, for now, and new businesses in the future. Hotels with more than 100 rooms have opened along the coast in Hirono, Naraha, and Tomioka. Another opened in Namie this week. The town’s evacuation order was lifted in 2017, and about 1,400 people have returned. Yet another is expected to open in Futaba in the Fall. Kota Kawasaki, an associate professor at Fukushima University, says, "Competition among hotels will increase from now on," he said. "Each hotel will have to devise more strategic management skills to stay in business” because to the coronavirus. The F. Daiichi worker population has been lowered due to COVID19 restrictions. http://www.asahi.com/ajw/articles/13541099
  • New TV commercials by the J-pop group TOKIO are promoting Fukushima products. They began airing just this week in Fukushima and Tokyo. It is hoped the ads will further dispel paranoiac rumors. Fukushima Gov. Masao Uchibori said, "Through these wonderful commercials, we would like to share with everyone in Japan the great qualities of the prefecture's agricultural, forest and fishery products, as well as the pride of the producers here." https://mainichi.jp/english/articles/20200714/p2g/00m/0et/065000c
  • A “world-class” BMX park opens in Shinchi. BMX freestyle competition has been added to the future Tokyo Olympics Shinchi is the northernmost Fukushima coastal town in, on the border with Miyagi Prefecture. It was devastated by the March 2011 tsunami, with 116 confirmed deaths.. The park contains Japan’s largest BMX training course – Shinchi Pump Track. At the opening ceremony, Shinchi Mayor Takeshi Ohori said “Continuing the memory of citizens who lived here, we hope this place will change into one that is lively and brings people together.” https://the-japan-news.com/news/article/0006667871
  • A new national park will straddle Futaba and Namie. It will be a memorial to victims of the 2011 catastrophe. A cylindrical indoor facility will be erected atop an elevated part of the park to display local reconstruction efforts. The 16.5 meter rise in the land will reflect the peak of the devastating tsunami and be called a "hill for the memory and repose of souls." Also, a new bridge will be built over the Maeda River to link with the Nuclear Disaster Memorial Museum in Futaba. It is hoped that part of the park will open in the fall along with the new museum. http://www.fukushimaminponews.com/news.html?id=1015
  • About 50 Fukushima residents hold a “Don’t Dunp” (sic) rally in Koriyama. A local group of young adults want plans to release tritium laced wastewaters to be curtailed. Why? Because detrimental rumors about the prefecture may occur if the wastewater is improperly disposed. Group representative Sato Taiga said a recent survey revealed that most respondents are ignorant of about the issue. https://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/en/news/20200713_04/
  • Is low dose radiation exposure (LDRT) a possible treatment for COVID19-induced pneumonia? Dr. SMJ Mortazavi says it is! He argues that the use of LDRT has long been shown to induce anti-inflammatory responses to pneumonia. However since March, 2020, LDRT has been introduced as a mitigating therapy for COVID19-induced pneumonia in Iran, America, Canada, Spain, Germany, and France, with significant efficacy. Dr. Mortazavi adds that the beneficial responses begin to occur within hours, without the disadvantages afforded by anti-viral drugs. https://aapm.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/epdf/10.1002/mp.14367 (Dr. Mortazavi is a fellow member of Scientists for Accurate Radiation Information)

July 10, 2020

  • A UN rapporteur says the F. Daiichi waste water disposal question is a human rights issue. Rapporteurs have criticized Japan for its radiological criteria concerning resettlement, and the alleged exploitation of migrant workers and the poor for decontamination efforts. Now comes another questionable concern specific to the release of the essentially harmless Tritium-laced water stored in more than a thousand sealed tanks on the plant site. Mr. Baskut Tuncak unabashedly raises the false specter of the 1945 atomic bombings in Japan, showing his radiophobic infection of the Hiroshima Syndrome! He calls the scientifically acceptable, slow, innocuous release of the waters to the sea “…a terrible blow to the livelihood of local fishermen. Regardless of the health and environmental risks, the reputational damage would be irreparable, an invisible and permanent scar upon local seafood.” The level of ignorance displayed by Tuncak is clearly on display! Further, he falsely accuses Tokyo of ignoring the concerns of the communities of Fukushima and disrespecting their human rights. He calls the possible release of the waters “transboundary environmental harm” which is steeped in the all-too-typical radiophobic appeal of “scientific uncertainty of the health and environmental impacts of exposure to low-level radiation”!  Those who follow our “Fukushima Accident Updates” can easily grasp the absurdity in Tuncak’s words! https://english.kyodonews.net/news/2020/07/1145e5b3970f-opinion-fukushima-nuclear-waste-decision-also-a-human-rights-issue.html
  • In parallel with the above, 17 Fukushima assemblies call Tokyo’s response to the wastewater disposal issue “inadequate” and “insufficient”. They oppose the release of the waters to the sea, out of fear of damage to the reputation of the fishing industry. Fukushima Minpo surveyed all 59 Fukushima assemblies and found that 17 purport this opinion. It seems that all 17 dissident groups acknowledge the scientifically innocuous nature of the liquid and wish to continue the needless, wasteful status quo. The Tokyo government has essentially committed to the ocean release in 2022when the available space for tanks at F. Daiichi will run out. The Municipal assemblies that oppose the disposal of the waters are Aizuwakamatsu, Iwaki, Kitakata, Soma, Nihonmatsu, Koori, Kawamata, Minamiaizu, Aizubange, Yugawa, Kaneyama, Nishigo, Ishikawa, Miharu, Namie, Shinchi, and Iitate. It should be noted that another 13 assemblies are deliberating on the issue. http://www.fukushimaminponews.com/news.html?id=1013
  • Japan’s NRA demands Tepco must clarify the nuke safety duties of the company president. The Nuclear Regulation Authority had asked the company to formally stipulate safety policies in its Kashiwazaki-Kariwa security rulebook, about three years ago. On Thursday, Tepco said they would include a clause requiring that the president be quickly informed of any risk with the potential to lead to an accident, whether or not the risk could be confirmed. It added that records of the event be maintained for five years. However, the NRA feels the storage period is too short. And that the president’s responsibilities need specificity. https://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/en/news/20200710_08/

July 3, 2020

  • Japan considers 80-year operating licenses beginning to occur in the United States. Japan’s Atomic Industrial Forum conducts an annual international survey of nuke plants on a variety of topics. This year, the JAIF survey asks about America’s decision to license for 80 years of operation. Many decades ago, the Americans issued 40 year licenses, which were based on the demonstrated operating experiences with fossil-fueled generating units. Japan did essentially the same thing when it began its program in 1954. While the American regulatory system has acknowledged the much less corrosive and thereby less deteriorative operating environment of nukes versus fossil fuels and extended operating lifetimes accordingly, Japan refrained from following suit. This is largely due to the Fukushima accident coupled with the national penchant for radiophobia. Japan has provided for 20 year extensions if strict regulatory mandates are met, which has resulted in early retirement of perfectly sound units below 600 MWe. Now, JAIF is starting a national inquiry into the idea of adding on another 20 year extension. https://www.jaif.or.jp/en/existing-npps-to-enter-age-of-80-year-operations-jaif-annual-survey-says/
  • A Tokyo University team gives the Japanese Press a failing grade for its Fukushima accident coverage. Kaori Hayashi led an investigation of 8 Japanese newspapers and 6 broadcasting networks by interviewing their newsroom executives. He was assisted by Nobuyuki Okumura of Musashi University, Koji Igarashi of Otsuma Women’s University, and Atsushi Tanaka of Tokyo University, the combination of which is called the “Disaster and Media Research Group”. They base their findings on the degree to which the Press reported what the government and industry sources shared with them, and did not seek out other sources for verification. It is well understood that the Prime Minister Naoto Kan regime and Tepco spokespersons were quite often less than expeditious in relaying information, and often presented incorrect material that was eventually found to have come from the Tokyo government. The paper also takes the Press to task for not having reporters who were familiar with nuclear technology because most were “negative to the idea of training reporters to specialize in nuclear science, nuclear plant safety measures, or radiation exposure… Only the newspaper Asahi Shimbun and public broadcaster NHK had correspondents specialized in   nuclear energy prior to the 2011disaster.” While all reporters were familiar with earthquakes and tsunamis, most of the news media was ignorant of nuclear technology and could not assess whether or not the information they were getting from provided sources was “adequate and appropriate. (Thus) the media failed to communicate information that people needed, so that they could take decisions and actions to protect themselves, their families, and assets.” In addition, reporters were unprepared to effectively confront neither Tepco nor the Tokyo government in order to disclose correct information in a timely manner.  The research group claims it has made the first comprehensive study of the “resources and preparations of mainstream media” in Japan at the time of the quake, tsunami, and nuclear accident of March, 2011. https://www.academia.edu/41372220/Japans_media_fails_its_watchdog_role_Lessons_learned_and_unlearned_from_the_2011_earthquake_and_the_Fukushima_disaster?email_work_card=minimal-title
  • A small portion of Iitate Village may be reopened before decontamination is completed. The Village wants 186 hectares of an 1100 hectare difficult-to-return zone (no go zone) to have its restrictions lifted in 2022 or 2023 in order to turn the land into parks. If approved, the designated area must be fully decontaminated, while the other 900+ hectares in the no-go zone remains contaminated. Approval by the Nuclear Regulation Authority is being sought by the Village. https://the-japan-news.com/news/article/0006642470
  • 90% on Japan’s outdated and largely inefficient coal-fired electric plants will be shut down by 2030. Tokyo wants to replace the lost capacity with solar and wind electric generation, combined with restarting the nukes now shuttered, but planned to resume operation by then. This means that some 100 of Japan’s 114 coal-fired units will have finite lifetimes. A government panel will be created to amend laws, ordinances, and industrial systems so that the coal plants can be closed without upsetting the Japanese grid. https://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/en/news/20200703_20/ -- https://mainichi.jp/english/articles/20200702/p2g/00m/0na/075000c -- https://the-japan-news.com/news/article/0006649282 
  • Though not specific to Fukushima, it should be noted that an “unexpected radiation spike has been detected over Europe”. The article stresses that while detectible and probably the result of a release from a nuclear power plant, "The levels measured are so low that they pose no danger to people or the environment." This should be compared (contrasted?) with typical radiophobic reporting common to the Japanese Press, which continually suggests that radiation is toxic to humans, no matter how miniscule the exposure might be! https://www.sciencealert.com/unexpected-radiation-spike-detected-over-europe-authorities-say?fbclid=IwAR2rofMGpo7foKh4-gTj51QLaTERh7oUjL8IHzt8ItruhOVQALsvpE5FSQs

June 26, 2020

There were no Fukushima or reasonably-related updates from this past week due to a dearth of such material in both the Japanese and International Press. We will continue our daily investigation, nonetheless!

June 19, 2020

  • Tepco posts a final overview of last week’s covering of the F. Daiichi Unit #2 SFP. The Spent Fuel Pool’s protective barrier is a bag, of sorts, that was spread over the open pool on Monday, June 8th. On June 10th, it was inflated, and the next day an injection of mortar was successfully undertaken. The filled bag has been anchored in place and should keep any falling material from damaging the fuel bundles stored in the pool. The following Tepco posting depicts the different stages of the bag’s installation and inflation.  https://www.tepco.co.jp/en/hd/decommission/information/newsrelease/reference/pdf/2020/reference_20200611_02-e.pdf
  • Tokyo plans on creating an international education and research center in the Hamadori coastal region, Fukushima. The facility will focus on the 2011 earthquake, tsunami, and subsequent nuclear accident. It is hoped this will stimulate the repopulation of communities that experienced Tokyo-mandated evacuation. Since evacuation orders were lifted, less than 20% of the pre-calamity population has returned. The model for the project is the Okinawa Institute of Science and Technology (OIST). The Hamadori facility will be a hub for regional revitalization while mitigating problems common to all of Japan such as population decline, a shortage of farmers, and global warming. Also in the plans are five research “spheres”: robotics, agriculture, energy, nuclear reactor decommissioning, and radiation safety. Reconstruction Minister Kazunori Tanaka said, “ We will develop the hub as a base for nurturing human resources in partnership with many universities in a manner leading to the establishment of a new university and other institutions." The number of researchers and staff should be about 600, while local job creation could be about 5,000. The annual budget is estimated at just under $100 million per year. Partial opening is planned for the spring of 2023. For comparison, the OIST facility has an annual budget of just under $200 million per year. https://the-japan-news.com/news/article/0006604899 -- http://www.fukushimaminponews.com/news.html?id=1010
  • Kansai Electric Co. (Kepco) sues former executives to try and recover local trust. The trust issue is critical because three of the company’s nukes (Takahama #1 & #2 and Mihama #3) need local approval in order to restart. Five former executives accepted about $3.6 million in “gifts” from a lobbyist; the former deputy mayor of the Town of Takahama. The company has investigated the situation and judges that the five executives are the culpable parties and should pay severe financial penalties to show that Kepco means business. The suit is expected to total out at about $20 million. The former executives have been silent because they have all resigned. Since this was not the first instance of giving lavish financial gifts to Kepco executives, company management is being investigated to determine whether or not this practice has been the norm. It should be noted that a civic group has filed a criminal complaint focusing on the executives. https://the-japan-news.com/news/article/0006619286

June 12, 2020

  • There are no impediments to removing used nuclear fuel bundles from the unit #2 SFP. On Wednesday and Thursday, Tepco used its new robotic, remote-controlled submersible to look inside the Spent Fuel Pool for the first time. All of the fuel bundles and their storage racks are intact and undamaged. There is no debris from the March, 2011, nuke accident atop any of the bundles. There appears to be a thin coating of white sediment on the racks which was probably the result of nine years of being immersed is salty water. Seawater was used to cool the pool after fresh water supplies ran out during the accident. Similar sediment was found atop the racks in Units #3 & #4 SFPs when they were inspected before their stored fuel bundles were removed (without incident). Both of those SFPs had considerable loose debris scattered about the tops of their fuel bundles due to their respective hydrogen explosion in 2011. There was no hydrogen explosion with respect to unit #2, so the lack of debris in the SFP should have been no surprise to anyone. Tepco says the inspection went smoothly, so much so that it was completed ahead of schedule. There are 615 fuel bundles in the pool, the overwhelming majority of which are used (spent). The construction of an adjacent building to facilitate the removal of the bundles and load them into transfer canisters has been delayed until the pool itself could be visually inspected. The structure can now be erected. Bundle removal and transfer to the ground-level storage building is scheduled for some time between 2024 and 2026.  https://www.tepco.co.jp/en/hd/decommission/information/newsrelease/reference/pdf/2020/reference_20200611_01-e.pdf -- https://english.kyodonews.net/news/2020/06/17d23c757314-tepco-finds-no-obstacles-to-removing-fuel-rods-from-fukushima-reactor.html  -- https://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2020/06/11/national/fuel-rods-fukushima-no-2/#.XuJpndVKiUl
  • A temporary protective barrier has been placed atop the F. Daiichi Unit #1 Spent Fuel Pool. The device is called a ”sheet”. It is designed to prevent any falling debris or machinery from damaging the used and unused fuel bundles stored in the pool during the removal of the loose material strewn around the deck. The loose material is the result of the March 12, 2011 hydrogen explosion. The sheet measures six meters by eleven meters, and is 50 centimeters thick. It will be filled with concrete to increase its protective ability. The company hopes to begin removal of the debris around the pool by the end of the month. https://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/en/news/20200612_02/
  • The United Nations cautions Japan to not rush to the discharge of treated wastewater from F. Daiichi. Although Tokyo has transmitted repeated communications about the possibility of a ridiculously prolonged release of the diluted liquid to the sea over the past few years, four UN human rights “experts” are acting like nothing of the sort ever happened! The “experts” press release said, "We are deeply concerned by reports that the Government of Japan has accelerated its timeline for the release of radioactive wastewater into the ocean without time or opportunity for meaningful consultations." The statement said the Coronavirus pandemic needs to be contained before Japan can move on the issue. The next round of consultations with the public and neighboring governments was planned for after the Olympic Games, but will instead begin next Monday since the games have been postponed due to the pandemic. The rapporteur statement chided Japan, saying, "COVID-19 must be not be used as a sleight of hand to distract from decisions that will have profound implications for people and the planet for generations to come." https://english.kyodonews.net/news/2020/06/6f6afd14d6a4-un-experts-urge-japan-not-to-rush-discharge-of-radioactive-water.html
  • Japan’s NRA Oks mandated changes to its High-Temperature Test Reactor, located in Oarai Town, Ibaraki Prefecture. The owner, Japan Atomic Energy Agency (JAEA), applied to the Nuclear Regulation Authority for approval under the new regulations in November, 2014. The safety review by NRA has confirmed that the changes satisfy the New Regulatory Requirements, and that no fuel damage would occur in the event of a beyond design basis accident (BDBA). The 30 MW unit has an outlet temperature of up to 950 degreesCelsius, vice the typical power reactor with an outlet temperature of ~300oC. Another difference is that Helium is used as the coolant instead of highly-purified water, and the core is Graphite-based. The HTTR was used to test for hydrogen generation, desalinization, and low level local power generation, before the de-facto nuclear moratorium was invoked across Japan in 2012. It began operation in 1999. With NRA approval, implementation of the design changes can finally begin! https://www.jaif.or.jp/en/nra-grants-permission-to-make-changes-to-reactor-installation-at-httr-under-new-regulatory-standards/ -- https://www.jaea.go.jp/english/news/press/2020/060301/

June 5, 2020

  • Quake/tsunami memorial museum opens in Iwaki. The Iwaki 3.11 Memorial and Revitalization Museum opened May 30th, intended to provide remembrance of the March 2011 catastrophe. Displays include a blackboard, power distribution board, time clock and other items from the old Toyoma Junior High School, as well as stories related by survivors. There are also panels depicting reconstruction, in chronological order. Mayor Toshio Shimizu said, "We'll use it (the museum) as a base to cultivate awareness for disaster prevention in order to develop a community that will be strong enough to overcome disasters." About 470 residents of the city died as a result of the multiple calamities. https://jen.jiji.com/jc/eng?g=eco&k=2020053000295 -- http://www.fukushimaminponews.com/news.html?id=1008
  • Tokyo passes a bill to keep the Reconstruction Agency operating until at least 2030. The position of Reconstruction Minister, heading the agency, will also be continued until 2030. The Agency was created in 2012, with a planned lifetime of eight years. https://jen.jiji.com/jc/eng?g=eco&k=2020060500485
  • The Asahi Shimbun reports local evacuation orders could be lifted before decontamination is complete. This assertion comes from unnamed sources. Evacuation orders were ordered if area radiation levels were higher than 20 millisieverts per year. Decontamination efforts have dropped exposure levels below that in many communities. Localized orders remain in diverse locations within seven communities. For evacuation mandates to be relaxed before planned decontamination is complete in all areas, several requirements must be met. For example, the area would not be residential, and/or the municipal government would have to decide that decontamination is not necessary. When exposures would be less than 20 mSv/yr., two other conditions must be met: local infrastructure must be restored and local governments must agree to relaxing the order. However, the Environment Ministry is considering ending evacuation orders for locations where natural radioactive decay and/or weathering have already dropped exposures below the 20 mSv threshold. Iitate Village requested the lifting of the order because of these conditions in February. The town says the new conditions will exist beginning in 2023. Other yet-unnamed districts are considering the same thing. http://www.asahi.com/ajw/articles/13426557
  • Japan Atomic Power Co. (JAPC) admits making unauthorized alterations to a research paper about a fault line under Tsuruga Unit #2. JAPC told the NRA that the modifications were made to reflect the latest information, with relatively minor impact on the document. For example, the word “unconsolidated” was changed into “consolidated” 55 times, and vice-versa 25 times. The terms refer to whether or not the fault had moved in the past.   The NRA scolded JAPC for rewriting scientific “raw data” without permission and further delayed considering the company’s desire to have the safety screening process for restarting the unit. JAPC appliedfor the safety screening in 2015. http://www.asahi.com/ajw/articles/13432865
  • Nuclear weapon abolitionists want the Rokkasho Reprocessing Plant’s construction to be terminated. They argue that the slow restarting process with Japan’s nukes makes the need for recycled nuclear fuel questionable. The recycled fuel is called MOX; a mixture of unused Uranium and Plutonium generated while fuel bundles are in the core of an operating nuclear power plant. Rokkasho began to be built in 1993, but has been hamstrung by nuclear weapon opponent’s concerns that the plutonium could be used to make bombs, and new safety requirements following the accident at F. Daiichi in March of 2011. Anti-nuke weapons opponent Dr. Suzuki Tatsujiro, Vice Director at Nagasaki University’s Research Center for Nuclear Weapons Abolition says the ever-increasing cost of the plant, along with ever-present security issues, outweigh the benefits. He adds, “Some Western countries have abandoned their reprocessing programs, and I can’t think of convincing reasons for Japan to continue.” https://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/en/news/backstories/1119/

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/

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