Perhaps the most interesting single thing on the table in today’s update is the revelation that at least one of Fukushima’s reactors suffered sufficient damage from the earthquake that hit the region … prior to the tsunami … to have likely gone out of control or melted down. This is hard to assess because the tsunami caused so much additional damage as to obscure earlier damage, and because cleanup efforts are not proper forensic methods to reconstruct what happened there, and because we can assume at this point that the untrustworthy TEPCO will cover up whatever it can, and it is in their interest to ignore any evidence that the earthquake itself resulted in significant damage. The problem is that there are people who saw the damage happen during the earthquake and some of them are talking.
This is important because NPA’s (Nuclear Power Apologists) including TEPCO (and don’t get us wrong …. we love the promise of nuclear energy!) wants everyone to think that THE problem at Fukushima was the totally unexpected tsunami, not the more likely to occur and totally planned-for earthquake. It would turn out that not only was this tsunami not unexpected at all (this has been covered before) but that the earthquake did enough damage that whatever other expectations Japanese nuclear regulators have regarding earthquakes may have are in serious question.
There are about 120,000 tones of contaminated water at Fukushima. That is roughly equivalent to the volume of about 200 modest town homes or almost 50- Olympic size swimming pools. The plant is essentially full of water … injecting more water into the plant can only happen if some of it boils off, which releases radioactive steam into the air (which is, essentially, what has been happening for weeks). The current plan is to decontaminate the water and use the decontaminated water to cool the plant.
What has been happening instead is that the decontamination system has failed or worked at a lower rate than expected and pumps that are supposed to push the water through containment vessels have been under achieving. There is no evidence that water is no longer leaking into the sea or steam into the air. So, the current situation is one in which efforts to cool the plant and contain the water are partially working but not entirely under control. The result of this is continuing and in some cases increasing spread of contamination.
And the contamination stories are starting to get worse, not better, though the meaning of it all is hard to assess. One model shows contaminated water reaching the US coast in a few years, though at low concentration. A handful of cattle radioactive to a much higher than allowed level were brought to market the other day, though they were detected and removed from the meat supply. Local tea (tea is grown in this area) is too contaminated to drink. A school group engaged in a fieldtrip in which they pick tea, process it and drink it almost consumed tea contaminated to what is considered an unsafe level. Increasing and alarmingly high levels of radioactive material is being detected on the sea floor near the Fukushima plant. People in one village had three times the allowed annual exposure to radiation indicated in test of their urine. Close to half of the children in the Fukushima area appear to have thyroid exposure, though the levels seem moderate. And so on.
Fukushima had a lot of nuclear material in it and a lot of that material has escaped, and the rate of escape is only somewhat slowed down, and the prospect of additional catastrophic events such as the collapse of a structure or an explosion is still very real.
Which brings us to the instability problems. There is still a distinct possibility of a hydrogen explosion. Measures to reduce the likelihood of this have been put into effect in two of the reactors, but a third reactor that has a high (though unmeasured) chance of an explosion has proved more difficult to secure. The spent fuel pool in Reactor #3 is not only structurally questionable due to the earthquake, but the vessel and fuel rods also appear to be under severe threat of corrosion.
This particular story is interesting because it illustrates the uncertainty of what happens when disasters occur. The Fukushima plants are designed to keep gasses that get out of the reactor or cooling system in place so they do not contaminate nearby areas. But one of the gasses that can build up in the case of a meltdown or even a lesser problem with cooling is very explosive hydrogen. If the overarching structure was built to withstand a hydrogen explosion, this would concentrate the explosive forces and certainly do excessive damage to the machinery inside the plant, or worse. Therefore the structure is designed to blow up gracefully. That happened at Fukushima. In the case of Plant #3, however, there was a spent fuel storage tank in the facility, and much of the gracefully blowed-up overstructure fell slap-dab into it. The cement from this structure has dissolved in the hot water in the tank (extra hot because unexpected fission events occurred, i.e., a mini-melt down of sorts) and this has caused the liquid in the spent fuel rod tank to become extremely alkaline. And that alkaline water is eating through things, such as the fuel rods and the containment vessel itself. Storing your spent fuel rods in Draino is generally not recommended, and as far a we can tell, this was entirely unforeseen, as have been most of the events at Fukushima over the last few weeks.
The political fallout, while not exactly radioactive, remains toxic. One local mayor was apparently strong-armed into allowing the restart of two nuclear power plants, though he backed off this position later. Heads are still rolling here and there. We also have an email scandal, of course. It turns out that journalists were systematically fed misinformation about what was happening here in a coordinated effort by governmental and private entities. You saw some of that happen on this blog, in the way of “Not-concerned troll” spamming.
And now, a record size record of information about the situation at Fukushima …
Nuclear reviews leave open questions -BBC, June 21
-In a burst of activity on Monday, the International Atomic Energy Authority (IAEA) despatched the two potentially exciting documents of its week-long ministerial meeting into the public domain.
-…the Ministerial Declaration issued on Monday "recognises" that nuclear accidents can have international consequences, talks of increasing co-operation between governments and regulators, and "underlines the benefits of strengthened and high quality independent international safety expert assessments".
-In fact, the declaration’s only hostage to fortune is that it recognises "the need for a global nuclear liability regime that addresses the concerns of all states that might be affected by a nuclear accident with a view to providing appropriate compensation for nuclear damage".
-Otherwise, there is nothing that cannot be interpreted in such as weak form as to indicate "business as usual".
-Some of this will be clarified in the coming weeks, as the declaration also charges Mr Amano with preparing a "draft action plan".
-However, in a clause likely to dismay some observers, it also recognises "the responsibility of the nuclear industry and operators in the implementation of nuclear safety measures…"
-Given that criticism of Japan’s nuclear regulation has honed in on a "cosy" relationship between industry and government, does this look like a tough new dawn where regulators will be rigorous, demanding and completely independent as they wield their whip hands?
Fukushima raises questions about new Finnish reactor -Nucular Power Daily, June 21
-In Finland, scrutiny falls especially on the construction of OL3, which raises questions because it will be the first so-called third generation reactor.
-"It’s true it has all the newest systems, but we don’t know much about them in the sense that they haven’t been used before, especially all the automation there," Sandberg says.
-Critics like Greenpeace are calling for immediate structural changes, which they say can be made easily while the plant is still being built.
-Most of the construction is done however, and the domed reactor core building is rising slowly over Olkiluoto island.
U.S. regulators opening up on flawed nuclear power plant policing -iwatchnews, June 21
-These are rocky days at the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, which finds itself under attack from the outside for decisions ranging from new reactor designs to safety issues that have languished for years, including the agency’s failure to get serious about fire hazards.
-Many issues laid bare since the Fukushima Daiichi disaster are anything but new. Critics have for years railed about regulators’ coziness with industry, relative inattention to safety concerns and minimizing of seemingly unlikely events – the same factors that have brought the Japanese nuclear industry to its knees.
-What’s different now is that some leaders within the tightly-knit community of U.S. overseers are openly expressing their concerns – including the chairman, Gregory B. Jaczko, who has come under withering criticism in recent days for his management style.
NRC tracking flooding at two Nebraska nuclear power plants -Reuters, June 22
-Flooding could complicate the restart of the Fort Calhoun plant as the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers expects record water release from the federal dams along the Missouri River to continue until mid-August, keeping river levels high.
Researchers simulate Fukushima radiation spread -NHK, June 22
-The simulation was based on the scenario in which contaminated air was vented from the crippled No.2 reactor building on March 14th, 3 days after the massive earthquake and tsunami.
-The simulation shows some of the radioactive material was carried 5,000 meters into the air by ascending currents of a low-pressure system that passed near Japan the next day.
-Computer images show the substances were then carried by westerly winds and spread over the Pacific Ocean.
Tepco Psychological Compensation May Be 88 Billion Yen -Bloomberg, June 22
-Tokyo Electric Power Co. said payments for psychological damage to victims of the Fukushima Dai-Ichi nuclear disaster currently stand at 88 billion yen ($1.1 billion), after a government panel investigating the compensation set guidance for payments.
Suicides upping casualties from Tohoku catastrophe -Japan Times, June 23
-On June 11, a dairy farmer in Soma, Fukushima Prefecture, chalked a note on the wall of his cattle shed. "If only there wasn’t a nuclear power plant," the message read, in reference to the damaged Fukushima No. 1 plant just 45 km away, which had effectively ended his livelihood.
-In March, a cabbage farmer in Sukagawa, Fukushima Prefecture, hanged himself after radioactive substances detected in the soil resulted in restrictions being placed on local produce, while a man in Ofunato, Iwate Prefecture, reportedly killed himself after losing his family, home and business during the March 11 disasters.
Trial opens over legality of Fukushima plant -NHK, June 23
-The plaintiff is Takanori Eto, a 30-year-old law student who lives in Tokyo. He filed suit against the government, demanding the nullification of its authorization for building the plant. He maintains that the government was sloppy in its safety assessment for authorizing the plant as it failed to assume a huge earthquake and tsunami.
-In Thursday’s hearing, the defendant – the government – argued that only those who live within 100 kilometers from the Fukushima Daiichi plant are eligible to file a damages suit and that the plaintiff, who lives more than 200 kilometers away is not.
Senators demand congressional probe on nuke safety -Forbes, June 23
-Three U.S. senators, alarmed by findings of an Associated Press investigation about aging problems at the nation’s nuclear power plants, asked Thursday for a congressional investigation of safety standards and federal oversight at the facilities.
-The AP series, which continues next week with an examination of explosive population growth around the 65 sites that house the reactors, comes three months after a tsunami born from an earthquake caused a nuclear crisis at the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear complex in Japan. The March 11 natural disaster swamped backup generators, disabled cooling systems, caused fuel melts and explosions, and released vast amounts of radiation into the grounds and sea.
-The NRC has said it disagrees with AP’s conclusions, but welcomes the attention the stories have generated to nuclear plant safety. The agency defended its standards and approach to safety.
Quake expert urges Japan to overhaul nuclear policy, says it’s too volatile for atomic power -Washington Post, June 23
-Japan needs to overhaul its nuclear policies and may never be safe for atomic power because it is too prone to earthquakes, a leading seismologist and former government nuclear safety adviser said Thursday.
-Katsuhiko Ishibashi, a professor emeritus at Kobe University, said virtually all facilities around the country are in danger of the same kind of crisis faced by the Fukushima Dai-ichi plant after the March 11 earthquake and tsunami.
-”It is very difficult to find a safe plant in Japan,” said Ishibashi, who is also a former member of the government’s nuclear safety committee.
Water filters at Fukushima still not working -NHK, June 23
-The new water decontaminating system was shut down only 5 hours after it went into operation on Friday.
-Tokyo Electric Power Company says an irregular flow of the water in the system could have hampered the system from working properly, causing it to malfunction.
Improper water flow blamed for filter failure -NHK, June 23
-The utility discovered on Wednesday that a US-made device in the system only succeeded in lowering the concentration of radioactive cesium in the water to 1 percent of the previous amount, instead of to 0.1 percent as initially expected.
-Contaminated water was supposed to pass through 3 absorbent chambers. But it was found that some water passed through only one chamber, because "open" and "shut" indications on a valve had been incorrect.
Valve likely set incorrectly from the beginning -NHK, June 23
-The operator of the crippled Fukushima nuclear plant says it was unaware of an incorrectly opened valve that caused another disruption in its ongoing test run to filter radioactive water.
IAEA criticizes Japan’s nuclear data sharing -NHK, June 23
-Participants at a closed door session of the International Atomic Energy Agency have agreed to set up an international mechanism to share information in the event of nuclear emergencies.
-The participants agreed that if an emergency occurs, the IAEA should promptly obtain information on what radioactive substances escaped into the environment and how much. They also agreed that crucial information will be shared among member countries through a new mechanism.
Nuclear radiation in Teton Valley? -Teton Valley News, June 23
-A RadNet surveillance of radiation in precipitation, drinking water, milk and air cartridges, instituted in the wake of the nuclear event, was halted in Idaho due, the EPA website claims, to "a thorough data review showing declining radiation levels in these samples."
-The problem with this explanation is that Idaho radiation levels were not declining when RadNet monitoring stopped reporting samples April 14. Boise’s first precipitation sample, collected March 22, measured I-131 (a radioactive isotope of iodine) levels at 242 pCi/l (picocuries, or units of radioactivity, per liter). That is about 80 times the legal drinking water limits, the highest levels of rainwater radiation seen in the nation at any time since the Fukushima disaster. Since I-131 has a short half-life, Idaho Department of Environmental Quality said we could expect those levels to decrease quickly.
-But, five days later, I-131 had not decreased. Two more samples were taken March 27. The sample recorded on the EPA’s more accessible public site showed, in fact, a 60 percent increase, with I-131 measuring in at 390 pCi/l. A second sample, found through an in-depth search of EPA online records, yielded I-131 concentrations of 422 pCi/l. After that, no samples were recorded on the EPA site. And we can’t expect an update any time soon – RadNet monitors were shipped out of Boise Tuesday.
EPA Halted Extra Testing for Radiation From Japan Weeks Ago -Truthout, June 23
-Radiation is expected to continue spewing for months from Japan’s Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant that suffered a meltdown following an earthquake and tsunami in March, but despite grim reports from Japan, the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has quietly stopped running extra tests for radioactive material in America’s milk, rain and drinking water.
-"The easiest way to not have any concern over data is to have no data at all," said Hirsch, who is critical of the cozy relationship between the US government and the domestic nuclear industry. "I think the system is there to say they have a system, but not to report any data that would undermine public support for nuclear power."
City in Chiba Prefecture sets independent radiation dose standard for children -Mainichi News, June 23
-The municipal government here independently set a 1.0 millisievert maximum annual radiation dose for children, and will take anti-exposure measures should doses at schools in the city exceed that figure, it was announced on June 22.
-Noda and other municipalities in northwest Chiba Prefecture, where radiation levels are higher than surrounding areas, decided not to base local policy on the central government’s safe figure of an annual 20 millisievert dose, drawing fire from some parents. Noda elected instead to issue its own, much more severe standard, and the contrast between the local and central government maximum doses is likely to influence other local bodies as they wrestle with the radiation problem.
-According to Noda city officials, they set the new limit based on that recommended by the International Commission on Radiological Protection (ICRP). The new maximum dose breaks down to an hourly dose of 0.19 microsieverts, presupposing that a child spends eight hours a day outside. The municipal government will now begin measuring radiation levels at nursery schools, kindergartens, daycares for students, children’s centers, and primary and junior high schools across the city.
-According to measurements taken by the six municipalities and the prefecture, four including the city of Kashiwa had radiation levels exceeding the Noda standard at every test location.
Operators shut down Monticello nuclear power plant to replace safety relief valve -Star Tribune, June 24
-Xcel Energy says the valve protects the plant’s main steam line system from over pressure conditions. The Minneapolis-based company says the shutdown is not expected to be lengthy, and poses no danger to the public or plant workers.
Levee fails, but Brownville OK -Omaha World Herald, June 24
-A Missouri River levee three miles north of Brownville, Neb., failed Thursday night, triggering evacuations in Atchison County, Mo.
-According to early assessments, the breach posed no threat to the Cooper Nuclear Station near Brownville.
What Happened to Media Coverage of Fukushima? -The Indypendent, June 24
-While the U.S. media has been occupied with Anthony Weiner, the Republican presidential candidates and Bristol Palin’s memoir, coverage of Japan’s Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant disaster has practially fallen off the map.
-Polls reveal that global support for nuclear power has nosedived in the wake of the Fukushima disaster. A survey of over 19,000 people in 24 countries showed that three quarters of people now think nuclear power will soon be obsolete. Three countries still show support for nuclear power: the U.S., India and Poland.
-Fukushima has been a wake up call about the dangers of nuclear power, and some countries are heeding the information. But it seems the U.S. is still sleeping when it comes to this issue.
Gov’t eyes 100 bil. yen fund to track Fukushima residents’ health -Kyodo, June 24
High level of radiation exposure estimated -NHK, June 24
-A group of doctors has found that the estimated level of accumulated internal radiation exposure for people living in Fukushima Prefecture has exceeded 3 millisieverts.
-The researchers, including doctors who have provided medical care to A-bomb survivors, conducted analysis on the food and urine of 15 residents in Iitate Village and Kawamata Town in Fukushima Prefecture. These areas are about 40 kilometers from the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant.
Dosimeters will be given to 280,000 children -NHK, June 24
-Voices of parents expressing concern about their children’s health have been growing louder.
-The prefecture said on Thursday it will give dosimeters to children ranging from infants to junior high school students.
-The prefecture will also subsidize cities and villages to replace top soil in the school yards or set up air conditioners in schools.
-In Higashidori, a town in northern Japan, one of the country’s newest P.R. buildings is built on the theme of Tonttu, a forest with resident dwarfs. The buildings also holds events with anime characters to attract children and young parents, said Yoshiki Oikawa, a spokesman for the Tohoku Electric Power Company, which manages the site with Tepco.
-The nuclear establishment also made sure that government-mandated school textbooks underemphasized information that could cast doubt on the safety of nuclear power. In Parliament, the campaign was led by Tokio Kano, a Tepco vice president who became a lawmaker in 1998. Mr. Kano, who declined to be interviewed for this article, returned to Tepco as an adviser after retiring from Parliament last year.
-The nuclear establishment itself came to believe its own safety myth and “became entangled in its own net,” said Hitoshi Yoshioka, an author of a book on the history of Japan’s nuclear power and a member of a panel established by the prime minister to investigate the causes of the Fukushima disaster.
‘Safety Myth’ Left Japan Ripe for Nuclear Crisis -NYT, June 24
-Over several decades, Japan’s nuclear establishment has devoted vast resources to persuade the Japanese public of the safety and necessity of nuclear power. Plant operators built lavish, fantasy-filled public relations buildings that became tourist attractions. Bureaucrats spun elaborate advertising campaigns through a multitude of organizations established solely to advertise the safety of nuclear plants. Politicians pushed through the adoption of government-mandated school textbooks with friendly views of nuclear power.
-”In Japan, we have something called the ‘safety myth,’ ” Banri Kaieda, who runs the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry, which oversees the nuclear industry, said at a news conference at an International Atomic Energy Agency meeting in Vienna on Monday. “It’s a fact that there was an unreasonable overconfidence in the technology of Japan’s nuclear power generation.”
-”What could we do but believe what the government told us?” said Masaru Takahashi, 67, a member of a fishing union in Oma. “We were told that they were absolutely safe.”
IAEA to End Fukushima Meeting Without Agreeing on New Nuclear Safety Rules -Bloomberg, June 24
-The United Nations atomic agency missed a chance to strengthen international nuclear safety today when delegates concluded a meeting on Japan’s Fukushima Dai-Ichi reactor meltdowns without implementing new policies.
-The International Atomic Energy Agency’s 151-nation ministerial meeting ended today in Vienna with countries delaying further negotiations until September, when the IAEA holds its annual general conference alongside a separate high- level UN summit called by Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon.
-The IAEA’s failure to agree on new measures casts doubt on the future of the agency, set up by U.S. President Dwight Eisenhower in 1957 with the moniker “Atoms for Peace,” said nuclear physicist Nils Bohmer, who attended the public portions of the meeting with the environmental group Bellona.
-”The public believes that the IAEA should be a strong, independent nuclear watchdog but it may be too hard for the agency to be a watchdog over safety,” Bohmer said by phone yesterday. “There are too many powerful countries whose interests run contrary to this.”
Nuke safety meeting ends with ambitious plans to improve safety, but no authority to enforce -Washington Post, June 24
-The IAEA chief declared a nuclear safety conference prompted by Japan’s nuclear disaster a success Friday but acknowledged that the new safety measures will only be effective if nations apply them.
-Yukiya Amano, chief of the International Atomic Energy Agency, said the conference had drawn up a post-Fukushima road map to avoid or mitigate future nuclear reactor disasters.
-But although the recommendations approved by the IAEA’s conference were ambitious — including peer reviews of national nuclear regulatory agencies and random IAEA safety reviews of nuclear plants — the meeting gave neither the agency nor any other international body any authority to enforce them.
OPINION: Nuclear power requires perfection -Kyodo, June 24
-Ordinary people are not nuclear experts. But they know some things that many experts prefer to forget. They know that even in the best-run enterprises, things go awry.
-The contractor takes a kickback. The operator at the control panel falls asleep. The battery runs out sooner than expected. The scientist shades his findings because he has received a grant from the industry under inspection.
-All this forms the inescapable background when the big, rare challenges arise: the earthquake, the tsunami, the airliner crash into the containment structures.
-Of course the people in charge come up with new, improved safety plans — more batteries, more generators, thicker containment walls, more security guards.
-But the truth known to ordinary people is that these are subject to the same ineradicable human foibles as the old safety plans. When the stakes are a cost overrun on a factory or heavier taxes or potholes in a highway, everyone eventually accepts the cost and moves on.
-But when the cost could be six nuclear reactors belching radiation wherever the winds have to carry it, rendering large territories uninhabitable, the cost is too high.
Fukushima Meltdown Mitigation Aims to Prevent Radioactive Flood -Scientific American, June 24
-More than three months after a powerful earthquake and 14-meter-high tsunami struck Japan, the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant remains flooded with a salty mix of ocean and fresh water that is contaminated with the radioactive residue of three reactors and four spent fuel pools’ worth of nuclear fuel. Every day an additional 500 metric tons of seawater is poured onto the still hot nuclear fuel in the stricken reactors and fuel pools. More than 100,000 metric tons of such water now sits in the basement and trenches of the reactors–or evaporates inside the hot reactor buildings, making for a radioactive onsen (hot bath).
-"It’s going to be very complicated to decommission this thing," physicist Arjun Makhijani , president of the Institute for Energy and Environmental Research notes. "The handling equipment has been destroyed, it was a complete meltdown, it’s a highly radioactive environment and there’s radioactive water."
-The challenge is not insurmountable, just costly. "You can clean up almost anything if you’re prepared to spend enough money on it," adds Peter Bradford, a former member of the NRC.
Decontamination system meets performance target -NHK, June 24
-TEPCO said a US-made device for absorbing radioactive cesium continues to perform at one-tenth its intended capacity, even after workers readjusted a faulty valve setting.
-But the firm says test runs have shown that the targeted level can be achieved when the device is used with a French decontaminator.
-TEPCO says about 2,500 tons of radioactive water has been decontaminated so far. On Friday, workers began sending the water through salt-removing equipment.
-The firm plans to return the treated water to reactors this month, to establish a stable cooling system that involves circulating the water.
Resumption of decontamination system not in sight -NHK, June 25
-The company says the amount of stored contaminated water will drop significantly, once the decontamination system begins operating. It says it wants to start spraying the recycled water into the reactors by the end of this month.
-But first, pipes and valves must be checked thoroughly as the components of the system are located in different parts of the plant, and the contaminated water travels a distance of 4 kilometers during treatment.
-Tokyo Electric Power Company hopes to fully restart the decontamination system in the next few days. But it has experienced a number of problems and it is unclear whether the recycling of water can be carried out as planned.
Robot, drone fail on nuclear plant missions -Japan Today, June 25
-The machine got stuck at a staircase landing and failed to go downstairs, TEPCO spokesman Junichi Matsumoto said. A cable that was supposed to drop a gauge into the basement also malfunctioned.
-The workers retrieved the robot and were going to make adjustments before sending it back in for another try, Matsumoto said. He did not elaborate.
-The other machine that malfunctioned Friday was a T-Hawk drone helicopter, made in the U.S. by Honeywell, that is used to inspect hard-to-access areas of the plant.
-The drone developed engine trouble during a radiation sampling flight and made a remote-controlled emergency landing on the roof of Unit 2–the only one of the four damaged reactor buildings that still has a roof, Matsumoto said.
TEPCO unable to gauge No.2 reactor water level -NHK, June 25
-Workers at the utility company entered the Number 2 reactor building and installed the provisional gauge on Wednesday. The company initially planned to have the gauge begin providing data on Thursday.
-But it says as of Saturday, the device is not yet working properly.
-TEPCO says this is because the temperature near the reactor containment vessel is so high that water inside the device’s pipes has evaporated.
Nuke crisis evacuees to visit homes without protective gear over heat stroke worries -Mainichi News, June 25
-The governmental task force dealing with the nuclear crisis said evacuees can wear long-sleeved shirts and trousers. If clothes are exposed to higher radiation levels than the limit, they will be collected.
-Under the current policy, evacuees cannot take off their protective gear during the five-hour trips into the zone. However, about 50 people have become ill during the visits due to hot weather and other reasons. A man in his 60s in Naraha was taken to hospital by ambulance apparently after suffering heat stroke.
News Navigator: Are there final disposal facilities for radioactive waste? -Mainichi, June 25
-The Mainichi answers some common questions readers may have about nuclear waste disposal in the wake of the crisis at the Fukushima No. 1 Nuclear Power Plant.
-Q: How does Japan plan to dispose of these 40,000 rods?
A: Japan has decided to build a final disposal facility for high-level radioactive waste, enclose the glass rods in steel containers and bury them at least 300 meters below the ground. The rods emit strong radiation, and it is said that it would take tens of thousands of years for this radiation to fall to a level matching that of natural uranium deposits.
Q: That’s a long time. So where is this final disposal facility?
Tepco pensions may be tapped for redress -Japan Times, June 25
-Tokyo Electric Power Co. may need to cut pensions to acquire ready cash to compensate people affected by the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant crisis if a government panel examining the utility’s assets deems this necessary, Tepco Chairman Tsunehisa Katsumata said Friday.
-"(The corporate pension) is a really difficult issue to deal with, as it is protected by special legislation. But we will consider various things, like lowering its interest rate when we receive suggestions from the panel," Katsumata told reporters after attending a meeting of the panel to explain Tepco’s current financial situation and outlook.
-To slash pensions, Tepco needs to get approval from two-thirds of its pensioners and employees who are paying pension premiums, as was the case with Japan Airlines.
No, the Three Mile Island Accident in 1979 Was Not a Major Cause of US Nuclear Power’s Woes -Climate Progress, June 25
-In April, I debunked a piece by journalist Mark Lynas (see “Lynas pens error-riddled, cost-less nuke op-ed”). I also said I’d do a longer post about one particular myth he repeated:
In the 1970s it looked as if nuclear power was going to play a much bigger role than eventually turned out to be the case. What happened was Three Mile Island, and the birth of an anti-nuclear movement that stopped dozens of half-built or proposed reactors….
-Just as the U.S. nuclear renaissance was mostly dead before Fukushima, so too was the original cycle of nuclear plant orders dead before TMI — killed by rising prices for plants and cost over-runs. As a December 1978 Business Week’s Special Report “Nuclear Dilemma: The Atom’s Fizzle in an Energy-Short World” explained:
One by one, the lights are going out for the U.S. nuclear power industry. Reactor orders have plummeted from a high of 41 in 1973 to zero this year. Nuclear power stations are taking longer to build, and the delays are tacking hundreds of millions of dollars onto their costs. Waste disposal, which was supposed to be solved by now, is not.
Law to require origin of rice in processed foods to be displayed -Japan Today, June 25
-Products made from rice including rice crackers, rice balls and Japanese sake will be required to display the rice’s country of origin from July 1.
-While many rice crackers are made from foreign-grown rice, an official at a nationwide association of rice biscuit manufacturers said, “Consumers want to know the production area of rice. We have to be aware that we should not betray them.”
Ministry official who released book criticizing gov’t over nuke crisis asked to resign – Mainichi News, June 25
-A government official who released a book on May 20 criticizing the government’s response to the Fukushima nuclear disaster has been asked to leave his post.
-Sources say that Shigeaki Koga, 55, attached to the secretariat of the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI), was asked by Kazuo Matsunaga, a high-ranking METI official, whether he could resign on July 15. Koga is said to have held off on responding, saying the request was "too sudden."
WWII uranium miner questions peaceful use of nuclear power -Mainichi News, June 26
-A former elementary school principal who was once mobilized for uranium mining during World War II for Japan’s development of nuclear weapons questions the peaceful use of nuclear power amid the ongoing nuclear crisis.
-Kiwamu Ariga, 80, a former elementary school principal in Ishikawa, Fukushima Prefecture, has gathered testimonies by those who were engaged in uranium ore mining in the town as mobilized students toward the end of the war.
-Last year, Ariga formed a citizens’ group to pass on the stories of the war to future generations. Though he had believed the peaceful use of nuclear energy was inevitable, he changed his mind following the accident at the Fukushima nuclear plant. "I believe we have come to a point where we should review the peaceful use of atomic power from scratch," Ariga said.
Experts urge great caution over radiation risks -Japan Times, June 26
-In order to address public concerns over post 3/11 food safety, the government should be more forthcoming in the monitoring and disclosure of data regarding radiation contamination of soil, Akira Sugenoya, mayor of Matsumoto City, Nagano Prefecture, told this reporter recently.
-Commenting on these to the JT, Sugenoya said it is his understanding that the current limits set by the commission (see table) are "relatively stringent" by international standards.
-However, he added that infants, children up to the age of 14 and pregnant and breastfeeding women should avoid eating food contaminated with even the small doses of radiation. In fact he said that adults should leave safer food for these more at-risk segments of the population even if it means they will eat contaminated food themselves.
Boric acid being added to No.3 reactor fuel pool -NHK, June 26
-The company started the operation on Sunday morning. About 90 tons of water containing boric acid will be poured into the pool through Monday.
-Concrete debris from the March hydrogen explosion of the reactor building has been detected in the fuel pool.
-Last month, TEPCO found that the water in the pool had turned strongly alkaline, with its PH level reaching 11.2. The leaching of calcium hydrate from the debris is believed to be the cause.
-TEPCO says the condition may accelerate corrosion of aluminum racks holding spent fuel rods and may cause the rods to topple in the worst case, which could lead to re-criticality.
Decontamination system to fully operate on Monday -NHK, June 26
-The storage facilities for contaminated water will not fill up until July 5th, as 5,400 tons was cleaned during the test runs and the contaminated water that was about to fill the reactor buildings can now be transferred.
-However, it remains to be seen if the system can operate stably, as the pump of the salt-removal device failed on Saturday.
Concern at Nebraska Reactors as Floodwaters Rise -NYT, June 26
-Fort Calhoun was shut down in April for refueling and stayed closed because of predictions of flooding. Plant officials say the facility is designed to remain secure at a river level of up to 1,014 feet above sea level. The water level stabilized at 1,006.5 feet on Sunday, according to the Omaha Public Power District, the operator of the Fort Calhoun plant.
-Cooper Station, which is owned by the Nebraska Public Power District, is still running. Managers brought in two tankerloads of extra diesel fuel and have stocked up on all the other consumable materials the plant uses, including hydrogen and carbon dioxide, in case of problems bringing in materials by truck.
Internal radiation exposure found in all 15 people surveyed in Fukushima -Kyodo, June 26
Fukushima residents’ urine now radioactive -Japan Times, June 27
-More than 3 millisieverts of radiation has been measured in the urine of 15 Fukushima residents of the village of Iitate and the town of Kawamata, confirming internal radiation exposure, it was learned Sunday.
-"This won’t be a problem if they don’t eat vegetables or other products that are contaminated," said Nanao Kamada, professor emeritus of radiation biology at Hiroshima University. "But it will be difficult for people to continue living in these areas."
METI goes on TV to pitch reactor restarts at Genkai -Japan Times, June 27
-The government took to the airwaves and Internet on Sunday to lobby residents of Saga Prefecture to let Kyushu Electric Power Co. restart the reactors at the Genkai nuclear power plant.
-In an Internet and cable TV broadcast, an official at the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry, which oversees the nuclear industry, said sufficient quick-fix measures had been taken since the disaster at Tokyo Electric Power Co.’s Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant to ensure the safety of the Genkai plant.
-The broadcasts were the central government’s first attempt to brief residents of areas that host nuclear power plants about nuclear safety measures.
-At the TV station, some 150 members of an antinuclear group protested, led by Hatsumi Ishimaru, 59, who said: "This is a program designed to lead to approval for the resumption of operations of the Genkai reactors. We cannot accept that."
Citizens dissatisfied with nuke safety meeting -NHK, June 27
-The Japanese government held a meeting in Saga Prefecture, western Japan, on Sunday to explain to local residents about safety measures being taken to resume operations of a nuclear power plant in the area. But most of the people were strongly dissatisfied with the government report.
Yamaguchi Governor suspends nuclear plant project -NHK, June 27
-The governor of Yamaguchi Prefecture in western Japan says he won’t extend a permit for a land reclamation project to build a nuclear power plant. This, in effect, means the power plant project will not go ahead.
Japan Considers $2.8 Billion for Tepco, Radiation Tracking in Draft Budget -Bloomberg, June 27
-Kan’s Cabinet this month submitted legislation to create a public entity to help the company, known as Tepco, pay reparations for the worst nuclear crisis since Chernobyl. The budget will set aside 120 billion yen to help with compensation for damage caused by the Dai-Ichi nuclear reactor disaster.
-Another 78 billion yen will be used to set up a fund for health care costs of people that were affected by radiation or live near the damaged reactor, the document said.
-The cost of dismantling the Fukushima plant may reach 20 trillion yen, and compensation for households in a 20-kilometer evacuation zone may total 630 billion yen over 10 years, according to the Japan Center for Economic Research.
France nuclear power funding gets 1bn euro boost -BBC, June 27
-"We are going to devote a billion euros to the nuclear programme of the future, particularly fourth-generation technology," Mr Sarkozy told a news conference.
-"We are also going to release substantial resources from the big loan to strengthen research in the sphere of nuclear safety."
Radiation health checkups to start -NHK, June 27
-Health checkups for over 2 million residents in Fukushima prefecture are going to start on Monday.
-The Fukushima prefectural government will first focus on checking about 28,000 residents in the three communities near to the troubled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, Iidate village, Kawamata and Namie towns.
-A special medical device called the whole body counter will be used to check internal radiation levels for more than 2,900 people.
Beyond Japan’s Fukushima exclusion zone, shuttered shops speak to radiation doubts -MSNBC, June 27
-The government says it is safe to live here, but with the invisible threat of radioactivity hanging over the area, hardly anybody wants to.
-The dead, brown stalks of last year’s rice harvest poke from untilled paddy fields that at this time of year should be vivid green with a fresh crop. In village after deserted village, shops are shuttered, homes are locked and abandoned, mailboxes are empty.
Waters Encircle Nuclear Plant -Wall Street Journal, June 27
-A protective berm holding back floodwaters from a Nebraska nuclear power plant collapsed early Sunday after it was accidentally torn, surrounding containment buildings and key electrical equipment with Missouri River overflow.
-Nuclear Regulatory Commission inspectors verified that processes to cool the reactor and spent-fuel pool were unaffected, the agency said in a press release.
-The berm’s collapse allowed floodwaters to wash around the main electrical transformers. As a result, emergency diesel power generators were started. Later in the day, power was restored.
-The NRC’s Mr. Dricks said temperature monitors were working properly and temperatures of key parts of the nuclear power plant were normal. Water has not seeped into any of the containment structures, he said.
Rachel Maddow reports on the poor job being done to repel the Missouri River flood waters surrounding the Fort Calhoun nuclear power plant -MSNBC, June 27
TEPCO starts treated water injection into reactors -NHK, June 27
-The utility has been operating a water treatment system since June 14th and processed about 1,850 tons of radioactive water that had been accumulated at the plant.
-TEPCO says it will continue injecting 16 tons of water per hour into the No.1, 2 and 3 reactors. 13 tons of this will be the decontaminated water.
-Workers had been pouring pure water to cool the damaged reactors, but some of this ended up contaminated with radioactive substances and was leaking outside of the reactors.
Radioactive cesium from Fukushima expected to reach U.S. West Coast in 5 years -Mainichi News, June 27
-The Japan Atomic Energy Agency (JAEA) has compiled a map predicting how cesium-137 will spread throughout the Pacific Ocean in the long term. Cesium-137, whose half life is 30 years, is one of the radioactive substances leaking from the crippled nuclear power station.
-It estimates that cesium-137 from the plant will spread in the shape of an ellipse — as far as about 4,000 kilometers off the coast of Japan — in one year. It then predicts the substance will reach Hawaii three years later and the U.S. West Coast five years from now. However, the agency says that by that time, its density will have declined significantly.
Dilution of radioactive materials at sea is no solution to nuke-plant crisis -Mainichi Perspectives, June 27
-Delaying the construction of an underground barrier is not just an event occurring during a break in the season for general shareholders’ meetings. It is a major issue that calls the essence of TEPCO’s assertion of its "social responsibility as a company" into question. The prime minister needs to show leadership in initiating construction of an underground barrier.
Fukushima: World’s Worst Industrial Disaster Reveals How Nation States Are Powerless to Protect Us from Advanced Technology -AlterNet, June 27
-The nuclear crisis brings key questions about our system of social organization to the fore, and the answers may influence what the world looks like in the future.
Fort Calhoun Nuclear Plant: Flood Seeps Into Turbine Building At Nebraska Nuke Station -HuffPost, June 27
-"We don’t believe the plant is posing an immediate threat to the health and safety of the public," Jaczko said.
-Omaha Public Power District spokesman Jeff Hanson said pumps at Fort Calhoun were handling the problem and that "everything is secure and safe." The plant, about 20 miles north of Omaha, has been closed for refueling since April. Hanson said the berm’s collapse didn’t affect the shutdown or the spent fuel pool cooling.
-Either floodwaters from the Missouri River or groundwater seeped into several of the peripheral buildings at Fort Calhoun, but plant manager Tim Nellenbach said all of the areas containing radioactive material or crucial safety gear remained dry.
-Jaczko said the Army Corps of Engineers doesn’t expect the river to rise enough to cause additional significant problems at either of the nuclear plants in Nebraska.
-"Bottom line, it looks like the levels are going to be at a place where the plant should be able to deal with it," Jaczko said.
Missouri River soaks Nebraska nuclear plant, but it’s no Fukushima -Christian Science Monitor, June 27
-With the emptying of the berm, the only dry patch remaining is the plant’s switch yard, which holds transformers and power lines that ship the plant’s electricity to the grid, but which also receive power to operate the plant.
-The switch yard is surrounded by a concrete levee. But that barrier has sprung leaks, prompting plant operators to shift to diesel generators for onsite power. Workers are looking at ways to patch the leaks, as well as repair the berm.
-Last October the US Nuclear Regulatory Agency (NRC) wrote up the plant for a "violation of substantial safety significant" related to its flood-control strategy.
Among the issues:
*The plant had stockpiled plenty of sandbags but not the sand to fill them.
*The Omaha Public Power District, which runs the plant, installed floodgates designed to keep floodwaters from overpowering the doors behind the gates. But the floodgates must be shored up on the outside – and topped – with sand bags. The support structures across the top of the gates weren’t strong enough to withstand the weight of sandbags that would be place on top of them.
*Perhaps most significantly, workers upgrading the plant’s cooling-water intake structure in the mid-1980s failed to seal old electrical conduits running through the structure’s front wall. The structure by design sits in the river along the bank to provide cooling water to the plant. NRC inspectors noted that the unplugged conduits were below the flood height specified for the rest of the plant’s critical buildings. Floodwaters jetting into the intake structure would have rendered useless pumps that are the plant’s last line of defense against a loss-of-coolant accident.
-The upshot: The plant was at a 100 percent risk of partial core damage if a loss-of-coolant accident occurred during a flood only two feet higher than the level projected for the current flood, according to the NRC. The company, by contrast, put the risk at between 19 and 23.9 percent.
Flood test not over for nuke plant -Omaha World Herald, June 27
-Two outside lines of defense against flooding failed Sunday at Fort Calhoun Nuclear Station, shifting the plant to backup electricity for 12 hours.
-Sunday’s development offers more evidence that the relentlessly rising Missouri River is testing the flood-worthiness of an American nuclear power plant like never before. The now-idle plant, 19 miles north of Omaha, has become an island. And unlike other plants previously affected by high water, Fort Calhoun faces months of flooding.
Severe Accident Management Guidelines for Nuclear Reactors -All Things Nuclear Blog, UCS, June 27
-The disaster at the Fukushima Dai-Ichi nuclear plant in Japan prompted some people to contend that since U.S. reactors have Severe Accident Management Guidelines (SAMGs) they are less susceptible to disaster.
-A recent NRC audit of SAMGs at the nation’s nuclear power plants, however, suggests otherwise. One of the lessons from the 1979 Three Mile Island accident was that U.S. nuclear plants needed better emergency procedures for and training of control room operators. Two sets of procedures were developed.
-The first set was the Emergency Procedure Guidelines (EPGs), which were introduced in June 1980 to help the operators respond to emergencies at the plants. These emergencies included transients (e.g., unplanned reactor shut downs) and accidents (e.g., pipe breaks that drained cooling water from the reactor vessel). The NRC licenses control room operators, and to obtain a license, operator candidates must demonstrate proficiency on the EPGs both on written exams and in control room simulator exercises.
-The second set was the SAMGs. They were first introduced in June 1996 to back up the EPGs for severe or unusual events – those involving multiple failures of safety equipment or unanticipated accident sequences. For example, the EPGs lay out various means of supplying water to the reactor vessel to cool the nuclear core. If none of those options are available, the SAMGs take over to provide options like flooding the containment structure around the reactor vessel with water to a level above the top of the core.
-Unlike for the EPGs, candidates for NRC operator licenses need not demonstrate any knowledge whatsoever of the SAMGs and their application.
-The nuclear industry developed the SAMGs, but they are voluntary. So the NRC can monitor them but cannot force the industry to take them seriously.
-The NRC recently audited SAMGs at all U.S. nuclear plants, checking how prepared the plants were to use these guidelines in case of serious accidents. The results were not reassuring.
Wildfire shuts Los Alamos lab, forces evacuations -AP, June 27
-Thousands of residents calmly fled Monday from the mesa-top town that’s home to the Los Alamos nuclear laboratory, ahead of an approaching wildfire that sent up towering plumes of smoke, rained down ash and sparked a spot fire on lab property where scientists 50 years ago conducted underground tests of radioactive explosives.
-The fire scorched a section of what is known as the Tech Area, 49, which was used in the early 1960s for a series of underground tests with high explosives and radioactive materials. Lab officials said the fire was safely extinguished.
-Lab spokesman Kevin Roark said environmental specialists from the lab were mobilized and monitoring air quality on Monday, but that the main concern was smoke.
-The anti-nuclear watchdog group Concerned Citizens for Nuclear Safety, however, said the fire appeared to be about 3 1/2 miles from a dumpsite where as many as 30,000 55-gallon drums of plutonium-contaminated waste were stored in fabric tents above ground. The group said the drums were awaiting transport to a low-level radiation dump site in southern New Mexico.
-Lab spokesman Steve Sandoval declined to confirm that there were any such drums currently on the property. He acknowledged that low-level waste is at times put in drums and regularly taken from the lab to the Waste Isolation Pilot Project site in Carlsbad.
-Sandoval said the fire was "quite a bit away" from that storage area. But he could not say what would happen if drums containing such waste were to burn.
AP IMPACT: Once-rural populations skyrocket near some US nuclear plants, evacuations unlikely -Star Tribune, June 27
-Populations around the facilities have swelled as much as 4 1/2 times since 1980, a computer-assisted population analysis shows.
-But some estimates of evacuation times have not been updated in decades, even as the population has increased more than ever imagined. Emergency plans would direct residents to flee on antiquated, two-lane roads that clog hopelessly at rush hour.
-And evacuation zones have remained frozen at a 10-mile radius from each plant since they were set in 1978 — despite all that has happened since, including the accidents at Three Mile Island, Chernobyl and Fukushima Dai-ichi in Japan.
-Meanwhile, the dangers have increased.
China needs improved administrative system for nuclear power safety -Nuclear Power Daily, June 27
-The People’s Republic of China should improve its system for ensuring the safety of its rapidly expanding nuclear power program, experts from the Chinese Academy of Sciences say.
-Despite having 40% of the world’s proposed nuclear power plants, the country lacks an independent regulatory agency and sufficient staff to keep pace with nuclear power development, they describe in a viewpoint article in ACS’s journal Environmental Science and Technology.
TEPCO halts water circulation due to leaks -NHK, June 27
-Tokyo Electric Power Company began circulating recycled water through the No.1, 2 and 3 reactors at 4:20 PM on Monday.
-But it halted the operation one and a half hours later after discovering water leaking from the pipes.
Japan trips in key effort to cool nuclear reactors -Reuters, June 27
-The system is designed to handle 1,200 metric tones of water a day. Currently, about 110,000 metric tones of radioactive water, which is enough to fill 40 Olympic-size swimming pools, is stored at the plant and space is running out.
-The utility expects processing the estimated 250,000 metric tones of water that will have been contaminated by the time the crisis ends to cost about 53 billion yen ($660 million).
-"If you ask me whether I am still worried, I am," Hosono said. "But even if it does not function perfectly, if it can stably run with occasional inspections, then the stored water can be treated sufficiently."
-Even if the system works, Tepco will face highly radioactive sludge left over from the decontamination process.
Nuclear plant operator skipped pipe check -NHK, June 28
-The operator of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant says it skipped a scheduled test of the plant’s water pipes on Monday, shortly before it was forced to suspend a water recycling operation due to leaks.
-The operator says it failed to check the 4 kilometers of piping as it had found no problem during an inspection more than 2 weeks ago.
-The company says it will review that decision.
Radioactive ash found in waste incineration plant -NHK, June 28
-An operator of waste incineration plants in Tokyo says it has found a high density of radioactive materials in ash at one of its plants.
-An Edogawa ward plant, which handles general household garbage, detected 9,740 becquerels of radioactive materials per kilogram of ash.
-The ash was collected from a device to filter exhaust fumes.
-Following the latest findings, Tokyo consulted the central government and decided to temporarily store the contaminated ash inside the plant.
-Tokyo on Monday asked the government to come up with guidelines for the ash’s disposal.
U.S. Nuclear Plant Deemed Safe Despite Ruptured Berm -Wall street Journal, June 28
-NRC Chairman Gregory Jaczko visited the Fort Calhoun plant Monday, and a commission spokeswoman said he found the plant to be in safe condition. Federal officials will continue to oversee steps to control flood waters from the swollen Missouri and plan to conduct a follow-up inspection.
-"We do have robust systems in place to protect public health and safety," NRC spokeswoman Lara Uselding said.
Radioactive strontium detected in seabed -NHK, June 28
-Tokyo Electric Power Company says it found strontium-89 and -90 in the seabed soil. The company conducted a survey on June 2nd about 3 kilometers off the coast at 2 locations, some 20 kilometers north and south of the nuclear complex.
-Up to 44 becquerels per kilogram of strontium-90 were detected, which has a half-life of 29 years.
-The substances had been detected before in soil on land and in seawater following the nuclear accident in March.
TEPCO president apologizes to shareholders -NHK, June 28
-Shareholders grilled the company management. One person said critics had been pointing out the dangers of the Fukushima plant for some time, and questioned how management would take responsibility for the reactors’ meltdown.
-Other shareholders said the current and former company executives should sell their own assets to pay damages to victims of the disaster.
-Some shareholders proposed that the utility should withdraw from nuclear power generation. How much support the proposal will muster from other shareholders is now a focus of attention.
News Navigator: Can a referendum on nuclear power plants be held in Japan? -Mainichi Perspectives, June 28
-Question: Italy recently decided not to resume operations of nuclear power plants in the country based on the results of a referendum on the issue. Can a similar referendum be held in Japan?
Answer: The National Referendum Law came into effect in Japan last year, but a referendum can only be called on constitutional amendments. There is no system to put other key issues, such as foreign policy, tax hikes or nuclear power generation, to a referendum. This is because the Constitution of Japan stipulates that crucial issues should be decided at the Diet, which it defines as "the sole law-making organ of the State." Public opinions are supposed to be reflected in politics through the elections of both houses of the Diet.
Researchers discover how human cells take in nuke-crisis contaminated plutonium -Mainichi News, June 28
-A United States research has discovered how the toxic radioactive element plutonium — detected in and around the grounds of the crisis-stricken Fukushima No. 1 Nuclear Power Plant — is taken up by human cells.
-The research team led by Argonne National Laboratory (ANL) in Illinois has been working on ways to stop the uptake of the synthetic element — a byproduct of nuclear fission and also the fissile material in many nuclear warheads. However, the team has at the same time emphasized the extreme difficulty of expelling plutonium once taken up, and the necessity of preventing nuclear accidents that could introduce the element into the environment.
-The researchers used special x-rays among other techniques to analyze plutonium uptake in the body. They found that the element — which has a half-life of some 24,000 years — was being brought into cells by binding to a protein responsible for iron uptake. There are two binding sites for iron uptake and at least one of them must still bind to iron for the other to bring in plutonium. The process also has a preference for iron ions even in the presence of plutonium — a preference that could lead to new plutonium poisoning treatments.
-The team also said, however, that complete prevention of plutonium uptake was not realistic.
Sen. Robert P. Casey Jr. Calls For Investigation Of Nuclear Evacuation Plans -HuffPost, June 28
-A U.S. senator from Pennsylvania is asking for a congressional investigation of whether evacuation planning has kept pace with population growth and increased power levels around nuclear power plants.
-Casey, a Democrat who chairs the Senate Joint Economic Committee, requested an investigation by the Government Accountability Office, which acts as the investigative arm of Congress. Casey posed similar questions to the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission and the Federal Emergency Management Agency. which jointly oversee emergency planning at the nation’s 104 commercial nuclear reactors.
-In his letter Tuesday to the GAO, Casey, whose state is home to nine operating reactors, said that emergency procedures are unclear for a nuclear accident.
-Five other U.S. senators last week asked for the GAO to investigate whether the NRC has relaxed safety standards to keep aging nuclear plants operating within the rules, as the AP reported. They also questioned if federal oversight is aggressive enough.
Radioactive water leaks from Japan’s damaged plant -Reuters, June 28
-Tons of radioactive water were discovered on Tuesday to have leaked into the ground from Japan’s Fukushima nuclear plant, the latest in a series of leaks at the plant damaged in a March earthquake and tsunami, the country’s nuclear watchdog said.
TEPCO starts covering No.1 reactor building -NHK, June 28
-The operator of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant has begun building a giant polyester shield over the damaged Number 1 reactor building to contain the spread of radiation.
TEPCO injects nitrogen into No.2 reactor -NHK, June 28
-The Tokyo Electric Power Company began injecting nitrogen into the containment vessel of the No.2 reactor at the Fukushima nuclear plant on Tuesday night to prevent hydrogen explosions.
-The utility firm has been pumping nitrogen into the No.1 reactor. But there’s no knowing yet when it can start doing so at the No.3 reactor, because the plumbing work for nitrogen injections cannot be undertaken due to high-level radiation inside the reactor.
TEPCO restarts water-circulation cooling -NHK, June 28
-The Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency says the system is working steadily.
Hosono wants to shrink evacuation zone in July -NHK, June 28
-Japan’s newly appointed minister in charge of the nuclear disaster says he hopes to shrink the evacuation zone around the crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant by mid-July.
-Goshi Hosono said in Tokyo on Tuesday that control over the facility has been improving little by little.
-The plant’s operator, Tokyo Electric Power Company, has said it aims to complete by July 17th the first stage of its plan to put the facility under control.
-Hosono said that by then he hopes the reactor cooling system will have been stabilized and there will no longer be a risk of a hydrogen explosion. He said if that is confirmed, he wants to have some evacuees return home.
Fukushima Children To Receive Radiation Meters -NPR, June 28
-Radiation meters will be distributed to about 34,000 children living in the largest city near the tsunami-damaged Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear plant to monitor their exposure levels, a city official said Tuesday.
-The decision to hand out the meters comes amid growing concern over the safety of children as the nuclear crisis at the Fukushima plant drags on, posing potential long-term health risks.
Japan’s radiation dilemma: Leave or live in fear -CBS News, June 28
-For ten years, Akiko Murakami has lived a suburban dream — growing flowers, as she raised four sons, in a leafy corner of Fukushima city. But now she wonders if it’s safe to stay here. CBS News reporter Lucy Craft brought a Geiger counter, which measures radiation, to her house.
-The home she and her husband built for their kids, ages 12 to 21, is surrounded by pockets of radiation — known as hotspots.
-"I’m always worried about my kids," she said. "I’m always thinking about whether I should leave here or not. I’m always thinking about that."
38 years of nuke profit up in smoke? -Japan Times, June 29
-Tokyo Electric Power Co. faces a potential damages bill exceeding its profits from nuclear power generation over a 38-year period beginning in 1970, the year it opened the crisis-hit Fukushima No. 1 plant, according to a recent study.
TEPCO finds minor leaks in reactor cooling system -NHK, June 29
-Tokyo Electric Power Company, or TEPCO, resumed the operation to cool damaged reactors at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant on Tuesday. But it says it found minor water leaks in a newly-installed cooling system.
-TEPCO said it traced the leak to a joint connecting plastic hoses near a pump injecting water.
-It also says 14 tons of recycled water and 2 tons of fresh water have been injected into the reactors per hour.
TEPCO restarts new cooling system -NHK, June 29
-After the series of leaks, TEPCO says it will look at ways to strengthen the system’s hosing.
About 90 more homes to be encouraged to evacuate -NHK, June 29
-The houses are in 3 districts in Date City not designated as evacuation zones but in areas where accumulated levels of radiation are expected to exceed the threshold of 20 millisieverts a year. Date is about 60 kilometers from the troubled plant.
-The government is to consider designating which houses in these districts will need to be evacuated depending on local radiation levels.
-Designated residents will receive state support for relocating, including the provision of substitute homes.
Radiation forecast data for health research -NHK, June 29
-The Japanese government plans to help Fukushima Prefecture conduct health research for all local residents with estimates on the spread of radioactive substances from the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant.
-Some experts say the level of residents’ radiation exposure cannot be estimated precisely as no radiation data immediately after the March 11th accident is available due to blackouts at the plant.
-The government’s nuclear disaster taskforce now says it will provide data from its computer forecasting system, called SPEEDI.
-The system will be used to calculate radiation levels in areas within 20 kilometers of the plant between March 12th and 18th. The calculation will be based on the Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency’s analysis of data on the timing and volume of radioactive substances released.
-Data on radiation levels are expected to be released to the public around mid-July. The data will also be given to the National Institute of Radiological Sciences which is compiling estimates of radiation exposure.
Nuclear safety agency spokesperson replaced -NHK, June 29
-Japan’s Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency has replaced its spokesperson over a scandal that was reported in the press.
-Hidehiko Nishiyama had held daily media briefings since the troubles began at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant in March.
-Nishiyama was reprimanded by Economy, Trade and Industry Minister Banri Kaieda last Thursday, the day the scandal surfaced in a weekly magazine.
-Kaieda told Nishiyama the report gives the impression that he hasn’t been concentrating on his job.
-Nishiyama apologized and pledged to continue doing his best to end the nuclear crisis. He stepped down as agency spokesperson on Wednesday, and was removed to the ministry secretariat.
Municipalities cautious about restarting plants -NHK, June 29
-Nearly 80 percent of Japanese municipalities with nuclear power plants have expressed caution about resuming operations of suspended reactors.
-Asked what they consider important in deciding on such resumptions, 64 percent cited local consent and 57 percent said adequate measures against earthquakes and tsunamis.
-Most respondents said the central government should answer all of their questions responsibly and in plain terms.
-Japan’s Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency attributes the municipalities’ concern to the enormous impact of the March 11th disaster.
-The agency says it wants to explain to them that an accident like that in Fukushima could be avoided with appropriate measures.
Strengthening of nuclear safety more important than TEPCO’s ‘internal company logic’ -Mainichi Perspectives, June 29
-Of the nine major electric companies in Japan who have nuclear plants in their generating stock, shareholders at six have proposed abandoning nuclear power. Meanwhile, some third-party firms giving advice on shareholder voting even warned institutional investors, "The continuation of nuclear power generation by private firms carries too high a risk," and therefore utility shareholders should support motions to abandon nuclear power.
-Certainly, obtaining a site for a nuclear power station and managing nuclear safety both cost a great deal of money. Also, in the case of a disaster like the one now unfolding at the Fukushima plant — where there is as yet no upper limit or reprieve from compensation payments in sight — the financial risk for power companies is extremely high. Meanwhile, the role of the national government in the whole situation is vague, though continuing entrusting nuclear power — which remains a central part of Japan’s energy policy — to private firms in the present fashion would seem to be impossible.
-Even if Japan comes to depend less on nuclear power from here on out, we will still have a certain number of reactors in operation to fill our electricity needs. So, what form should the strengthening of nuclear safety — that most important of considerations — take? This must be the focus of deep national discussion.
Nuke plant inspections find flaws in disaster readiness -Raw Story, June 29
-The NRC ordered the inspection in response to the March earthquake and tsunami that crippled Fukushima’s reactors. The purpose was to conduct a fast check on the equipment and procedures that U.S. plants are required to have in place in the event of a catastrophic natural disaster or a terrorist attack.
-Agency officials unveiled the results in May, stating in a news release that "out of 65 operating reactor sites, 12 had issues with one or more of the requirements during the inspections."
-But ProPublica’s examination of the reports found that 60 plant sites had deficiencies that ranged from broken machinery, missing equipment and poor training to things like blocked drains or a lack of preventive maintenance. Some of the more serious findings include:
At the Arkansas Nuclear One plant outside Russellville, several portable pumps dedicated to flood control didn’t work.
At the Clinton plant outside Bloomington, Ill., a fire pump broke down during a test.
At the Sequoyah plant outside Chattanooga, Tenn., inspectors couldn’t find drain valves needed for flood control.
At the Diablo Canyon plant in California, a fence blocked the path for a hose to pump emergency water.
-Plant officials said they have moved to fix those problems and that none would have prevented them from responding in an emergency. The NRC told ProPublica that all the issues raised by inspectors "fell well short of being imminent safety concerns" and were being addressed.
‘Flying laboratory’ dispatched to monitor air as crews battle wildfire near NM nuclear lab -Washington Post, June 30
-The twin-engine plane, which can take digital photographs and video as well as thermal and night images, was sent to New York City to take air samples after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. It has flown over wildfires and areas damaged by Hurricane Katrina. It monitored the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City. It also helped locate debris from the disintegrated space shuttle Columbia shuttle.
-”It can look for a wide variety of chemical constituents in a plume and the plumes can originate from fires, from explosions, from a wide variety of sources,” said lab spokesman Kevin Roark.
-And in a testament to the sophisticated research done at Los Alamos, the plane was developed with technology from the lab, the desert installation that built the atomic bomb during World War II.
TEPCO repeatedly halts water treatment system due to alarm -Kyodo, June 30
Progress in cooling Fukushima Daiichi spent fuel -NHK, June 30
-The operator of Japan’s Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant appears to be making progress in its work to stabilize the facility’s spent fuel rods. Tokyo Electric Power Company says a new cooling system for the No.3 reactor’s spent fuel storage pool should be functional in a week.
Workers enter No. 4 reactor building -NHK, June 30
-Workers entered the fifth floor of the building on Wednesday for the first time since an explosion on March 15th.
-Photos taken by the workers show that most of the ceiling, except for a small part of the framework, has collapsed. Debris, steel frames, and other various things blown by the force of the explosion are scattered all over the floor.
-The radiation level inside the building was less than one millisievert per hour, which TEPCO says is permissible for workers to carry out operations there.
Radiation in Our Food -Fox News, June 30
-Though the horrendous tsunami that hit Japan on March 12, 2011 seems like old news in the midst of today’s headlines, the crippled nuclear power plants at Fukishima Daichi continue to spew radiation into water, air and soil, with no end in sight.
-Even as thousands of Japanese workers struggle to contain the ongoing nuclear disaster, low levels of radiation from those power plants have been detected in foods in the United States. Milk, fruits and vegetables show trace amounts of radioactive isotopes from the Fukushima Daichi power plants, and the media appears to be paying scant attention, if any attention at all. It is as if the problem only involves Japan, not the vast Pacific Ocean, into which highly radioactive water has poured by the dozens of tons, and not into air currents and rainwater that carry radiation to U.S. soil and to the rest of the world. And while both Switzerland and Germany have come out against any further nuclear development, the U.S. the nuclear power industry continues as usual, with aging and crumbling power plants receiving extended operating licenses from the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, as though it can’t happen here. But it is happening here, on your dinner plate.
Radiation detected in Fukushima children’s urine -NHK, June 30
-The Fukushima Network for Saving Children from Radiation collected urine samples from 10 elementary to high school students in the prefecture’s capital Fukushima City. The samples were analyzed by a French research organization.
-The group said at a news conference in Tokyo on Thursday that radioactive cesium was found in all of the samples, and that one from an 8-year-old girl contained 1.13 becquerels of cesium-134 per liter.
2,700 Becquerels/Kg Cesium from Teas Picked by Elementary School Children in Itabashi, Tokyo -EX-SKF, June 30
-Children from 3 public elementary schools in Itabashi-ku in Tokyo did the tea picking in early May, the tea leaves were roasted and made into the final blend tea and was about to be given to the children. For some reason, the municipal officials decided to test the tea, and found radioactive cesium to the tune of 2,700 becquerels/kilogram, more than 5 times the loose national provisional safety limit of 500 becquerels/kilogram.
Revealed: British government’s plan to play down Fukushima -Guardian, June 30
-British government officials approached nuclear companies to draw up a co-ordinated public relations strategy to play down the Fukushima nuclear accident just two days after the earthquake and tsunami in Japan and before the extent of the radiation leak was known.
-Internal emails seen by the Guardian show how the business and energy departments worked closely behind the scenes with the multinational companies EDF Energy, Areva and Westinghouse to try to ensure the accident did not derail their plans for a new generation of nuclear stations in the UK.
-"This has the potential to set the nuclear industry back globally," wrote one official at the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS), whose name has been redacted. "We need to ensure the anti-nuclear chaps and chapesses do not gain ground on this. We need to occupy the territory and hold it. We really need to show the safety of nuclear."
Saga closer to Genkai reactor resumption -Japan Times, June 30
-Genkai Mayor Hideo Kishimoto gave the restart approval at the request of Kaieda, who visited him in person in an effort to address the nation’s looming power shortages.
-The reactors had been in a state of limbo stemming from strong public safety concerns after the outbreak of the nuclear crisis in Fukushima Prefecture.
-"I know that this is a tough decision for a local government (hosting a nuclear plant), but I hope you accept the resumption," Kaieda said.
Los Alamos Fire: Perimeter of Nuclear Lab Set Ablaze -ABC News, June 30
-Firefighters working against the wildfire that surrounds the nuclear lab in Los Alamos, N.M., have set part of the perimeter of the lab ablaze in hopes of starving the wildfire of fuel in the event it heads back toward the stash of radioactive material stored inside the lab.
-After creating a blackened ring that now circles the lab, crews are betting that starting fires to stop them is a gamble that will pay off.
-But environmental officials warn that the danger is not over. Along with what’s actually on lab property, there is concern about what’s in the canyons that surround the sprawling complex. Nuclear tests were performed in the canyons dating back to the 1940s; so-called "legacy contaminations."
-"The trees have grown up during that timeframe, and the soil can also be contaminated. If they get heated and that stuff goes air borne, then we are concerned," Rita Bates of the New Mexico Environment Department said.
Nukes at Risk as Floods and Fires From Extreme Weather Make Us Vulnerable -AlterNet, June 30
-On April 1, the NRC established a task force charged with gauging the existing safety of nuclear power plants in the U.S. In particular, the panel is to examine whether or not nuclear power plants are prepared to respond to natural disasters. To date, the task force has held two briefings. It is scheduled to report its findings on July 19.
-Yet some have their doubts about the reliability of the NRC’s findings. ProPublica has reviewed inspection reports and found "problems with emergency equipment and disaster procedures that are far more pervasive than publicly described by the NRC." Flooding is not the only extreme weather currently plaguing nuclear power plants. In the southwest, over 700 square miles of Arizona, the largest in the state’s history, and over 4,600 square miles of Texas have been consumed by wildfires. In June, the Pacheco Fire burned about 15 square miles just a few miles north of Santa Fe, New Mexico.
-Other nuclear power plants, too, are located in tornado-, hurricane- or earthquake-prone zones. The Indian Point nuclear power plant in New York, located 38 miles north of New York City; Diablo Canyon nuclear power plant, 100 miles north of Santa Barbara; and San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station, 56 miles north of San Diego all rest on fault-lines.
-Environmentalists have underscored that older nuclear power plants were not built with today’s climate change-induced extreme weather in mind. The results could be disastrous. Given increased global warming, extreme weather is likely to continue.
German parliament approves nuclear exit – Nuclear Power Daily, June 30
-The German parliament approved by an overwhelming majority Thursday plans to scrap nuclear power by 2022, a decision set in motion in the wake of the Fukushima disaster in Japan.
-The bill on the nuclear exit cleared the Bundestag lower house by 513 votes to 79 but must still pass the Bundesrat upper house, representing Germany’s 16 federal states, next month. Its approval is seen as certain.
-"This is a shared national project that is being approved today," Environment Minister Norbert Roettgen said ahead of the vote, which drew the support of all the parties in parliament except for the far-left Die Linke.
The troubles of TEPCO -The Economist, June 30
-”THROW yourself into a nuclear reactor and die!” one investor shouted. Japanese shareholders are usually more polite, but this was the annual meeting of TEPCO, the Japanese power company that owns the Fukushima nuclear plant. Since an earthquake in March caused a meltdown, TEPCO faces unlimited demands for compensation. Its shares have fallen by nearly 90% (see chart). A man at the meeting on June 28th suggested that the board take responsibility by committing seppuku, or ritual suicide.
-The long-term solutions being considered include bankruptcy, temporary nationalisation for the purpose of selling off assets, or capping TEPCO’s liability and making it, in addition to an energy provider, a vehicle for compensation payments. TEPCO favours a liability cap. Only this, the thinking goes, will lure back investors and let TEPCO become a normal company again. But this may scupper any chance of energy-sector liberalisation, since the company would need fistfuls of profits in order to make its payouts. “When I meet with TEPCO officials, I don’t see any change in mindset; it’s as if nothing has changed,” sighs a nuclear-energy official.
-The Fukushima disaster presents an opportunity for radical reform. But in a crisis people often grow conservative. Since the government holds the purse-strings, it can more or less dictate terms to TEPCO. The fear is that it will bankroll a return to business as usual.
Radioactivity survey ship leaves for Fukushima -NHK, July 1
-The ship belonging to Tokyo University of Marine Science and Technology left Toyoumi Wharf in Tokyo Bay on Friday morning. About 30 specialists in ocean observation and marine biology are onboard the Umitaka-maru.
-In cooperation with a fisheries research organization and other groups, the ship will collect seafloor samples off Fukushima to study the impact of radioactive substances on fish and plankton.
-The research will focus on shellfish and sandworms on the seabed that are believed to be susceptible to radioactive materials.
TEPCO starts using megafloat to store low-level radioactive water -Mainichi News, July 1
-Tokyo Electric Power Co. said Thursday that it started using an artificial floating island called a megafloat as a facility to store relatively low-level radioactive water at the crisis-hit Fukushima Daiichi nuclear complex.
-About 8,000 tons of the water will be transferred to the steel megafloat, which is berthed at a quay near the plant, over the next three or four months. The government’s nuclear safety agency said the plant operator has not yet decided what to do with the water after it is transferred, but it will not be directly dumped into the sea.
-The water comes from the Nos. 5 and 6 reactor turbine buildings and a large part of it is believed to be seawater left inside the facilities after large tsunami waves hit the plant on the Pacific Coast in Fukushima Prefecture, as well as groundwater.
Human error blamed for cooling system halt -NHK, July 1
-The French-made device automatically stopped operating on Thursday afternoon after an alarm system was triggered. It resumed operation 5 hours later.
-On Friday, TEPCO blamed the trouble on flawed programming of water levels in a tank that contains processed water. It says workers mistakenly set the water level at 3 percent of capacity, rather than 30 percent. As a result, water levels dropped rapidly and caused the device to stop operation.
TEPCO denies new leak at Fukushima plant – Asahi, July 1
-Radioactive tellurium-129m was detected for the first time in seawater near the water intake of the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant’s No. 1 reactor, Tokyo Electric Power Co., the plant operator, said June 29.
-Seven hundred and twenty becquerels of the substance was detected per liter of water collected on June 4. This concentration is about 2.4 times safe levels.
Radioactive materials in kids’ urine pose no health risks: minister -Kyodo, July 1
Nuclear Workers and Fukushima Residents at Risk: Cancer Expert on the Fukushima Situation -The Asia Pacific Journal, July 1
-Nishio begins by asserting that the Fukushima crisis has caused Japan’s “myth of nuclear safety” to crumble. He has “grave concern” for the public health effects of the ongoing radiation leak.
-Nishio originally called for “calm” in the days after the accident. Now, he argues, that as the gravity of the situation at the plant has become more clear, the specter of long-term radiation exposure must be reckoned with.
-Lamenting the poor state of public knowledge of radiation, Nishio writes, “Japan, with its history of having suffered radiation exposure from the atomic bombs, should have the most [direct] knowledge of radiation, but in fact, in the approach to the nuclear accident, has simply fallen into confusion.” He places blame on a number of groups:
TEPCO executives, who he accuses of having hidden the truth and prioritized the survival of the company over public health.
Bureaucrats who were unable to put together an accurate body of information about radiation effects from which to formulate policy.
A prime minister and cabinet lacking both leadership and an appropriate sense of urgency.
Politicians who sought to use the crisis in intra- or inter-party struggles.
Nuclear industry lobbyists and “academic flunkies” (goyo gakusha) of the government who built up the myth of nuclear safety in the first place.
-Looking at these groups, he writes, “I just cannot feel any hope for Japan’s future. These circumstances are simply tragic.”
Discussion on nuclear safety still lacking after Fukushima crisis -Mainichi News, July 1
-Recently Economy, Trade and Industry Minister Banri Kaieda visited Saga Prefecture, where the Genkai nuclear plant is located, and asked Saga Gov. Yasushi Furukawa and Genkai Mayor Hideo Kishimoto to restart reactors at the plant. The governor has given his approval, saying that safety has been cleared. The mayor holds the same view.
-But the grounds for allowing the reactors to be restarted are based on a stopgap measure: placing power-supply vehicles on standby. Though Japan is experiencing a nuclear crisis, the government has not revised its earthquake-resistance guidelines or guidelines for reactor design safety inspections, or presented any other post-Fukushima safety standards including the handling of aging reactors.
Tepco’s Fukushima Reactors Had Fatal Design Flaw, WSJ Reports -Bloomberg, July 1
-Half of Tokyo Electric Power Co.’s 10 reactors in Fukushima prefecture were hobbled by a design flaw that contributed to the worst nuclear disaster since Chernobyl, the Wall Street Journal said, citing interviews with former engineers who worked at the utility.
-The design flaw in the oldest reactors at Fukushima, which was known about by some Tepco engineers, wasn’t rectified even though there were numerous safety upgrades at the plant, the paper said.
Nuclear: A tortuous timescale -BBC, July 1
-While making a radio programme this week about the history of nuclear power in the light of the Fukushima disaster – more on that when it comes to broadcast – I was struck anew by a thought I’ve often had about the technology.
-That thought is that the timescales involved in nuclear energy projects present problems that no country has come close to solving.
-In the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists this week, Allison Macfarlane, associate professor of environmental science and policy at George Mason University near Washington DC, argues that the only fair and reasonable approach is "cradle to grave" planning – where all the costs and liabilities are taken into account up front, and where a disposal system for waste exists before the first concrete is poured.
-A contributory factor in Fukushima, she points out, was that ponds were stashed beyond intended levels with spent fuel rods, because of delays in Japan’s plans for re-processing.
-As she also flags up, no cradle-to-grave systems exist anywhere in the world.
Appeals court sides with Obama administration, dismisses suit to bury waste at Yucca Mountain -Washington Post, July 1
-Congress chose Yucca Mountain as the leading candidate for waste disposal. But opponents are concerned about contamination, and the Obama administration said it would not consider the site and would look for alternatives.
-The appeals court ruled that it’s not an appropriate time for it to intervene because the Nuclear Regulatory Commission hasn’t made a final decision yet on the status of Yucca Mountain. So the court threw out the case.
-But the court pointed out that the commission is required under the law to issue a final decision within four years of an application, which will come in 2012 for the Bush administration’s application for construction at Yucca Mountain. The court noted the commission’s decision can be reviewed by the court and that it can also be sued for failing to act by the deadline.
New Analysis of Unit 3 Fuel Pool Video Reveals Top of Fuel Bundle -youtube, July 1
-A video first released by TEPCO in April has been re-analyzed by Ian Goddard and appears to reveal a handle found atop a single nuclear fuel bundle. This raises more questions about the condition of any fuel still remaining in the Unit 3 fuel pool.
Compulsory power usage cut implemented for 1st time in 37 yrs -Japan Today, July 1
-In order to alleviate a power shortage this summer, the government on Friday implemented a compulsory power usage cut of 15% for large-scale users within Tokyo Electric Power Co and Tohoku Electric Power Co service areas for the first time in 37 years. Subject to the mandatory restrictions, which run from 9 a.m. until 8 p.m, are customers who conclude electricity supply-demand contracts directly with TEPCO and Tohoku EPCO whose power usage exceeds 500 kilowatts. Any intentional violations of these restrictions may result in a fine of up to 1 million yen, said government officials.
113 families advised to evacuate as ‘hot spots’ from nuclear crisis -Mainichi News, July 1
-The first designation of hot spots, where radiation levels are sporadically higher than other locations nearby, has been conveyed to the Date city office, which will notify the 113 families of the evacuation advice on Friday, the government said.
-A hot spot consists of a household where an annual level of radiation is estimated to top 20 millisieverts and neighboring houses.
Radiation poses newly discovered danger to children in Japan -Global Post, July 1
-Small amounts of radiactive substances have been found in urine samples taken from 10 children living in the same region as Japan’s damaged nuclear power plant.
-The discovery, in Fukushima city, has raised concerns that residents have been exposed internally to radiation from the plant, 60 kilometres away at the coastline.
-Tests were conducted in May on the 10 children, aged between six and 16, by a local Japanese group and Acro, a French organisation that measures radioactivity. All 10 tested positive for tiny amounts of caesium-134 and caesium-137, Guardian News & Media reported.
-The Japanese government said it was concerned and would examine the results
Higher radiation detected on fields than asphalt -NHK, July 2
-The survey centered on JR Namie station, about 8 kilometers from the plant, and JR Tomioka station, about 10 kilometers from the plant. Measurements were made at one centimeter and one meter above the ground.
-The highest level in Tomioka was detected on an unpaved road 2 kilometers northwest of the station, where the reading at the one-centimeter point was 39.1 microsieverts per hour.
-In Namie Town, 25.4 microsieverts was detected at the one-centimeter point in a forest about one kilometer west of the station.
Radiation Expert Predicts More Threats -Wall Street Journal, June 2
-A former nuclear adviser to Japanese Prime Minister Naoto Kan blasted the government’s handling of the crisis, and predicted more revelations of radiation threats to the public in the coming months.
-In his first media interview since resigning his post in protest in April, Toshiso Kosako, one of the country’s leading experts on radiation safety, said Mr. Kan’s government has been slow to test for dangers in the sea and to fish, and has understated certain radiation threats to minimize clean-up costs. In his post, Mr. Kosako’s role was to advise the prime minister on radiation safety.
Emergency evacuation plans are cause for worry for some living near nuclear power plants -Washington Post, July 2
-”Forget the amount of training and plans,” he said. “It’ll be ugly.”
-Residents near 12 of 65 U.S. commercial nuclear power sites were interviewed following an Associated Press investigative series that reported population increases of up to 4½ times since 1980 within 10 miles of plant locations.
-Those interviewed voiced a mixture of anxiety, confidence and resignation about the safety of reactors. Many doubted they can safely and quickly evacuate in a major accident. Despite the existence of formal evacuation plans, many said they didn’t even know where to go. They predicted confusion and panic on crowded roadways.
Meltdown: What Really Happened at Fukushima? -The Altlantic Wire, July 2
-Throughout the months of lies and misinformation, one story has stuck: “The earthquake knocked out the plant’s electric power, halting cooling to its reactors,” as the government spokesman Yukio Edano said at a March 15 press conference in Tokyo. The story, which has been repeated again and again, boils down to this: “after the earthquake, the tsunami – a unique, unforeseeable [the Japanese word is soteigai] event – then washed out the plant’s back-up generators, shutting down all cooling and starting the chain of events that would cause the world’s first triple meltdown to occur.”
-But what if recirculation pipes and cooling pipes, burst, snapped, leaked, and broke completely after the earthquake — long before the tidal wave reached the facilities, long before the electricity went out? This would surprise few people familiar with the 40-year-old Unit 1, the grandfather of the nuclear reactors still operating in Japan.
-The authors have spoken to several workers at the plant who recite the same story: Serious damage to piping and at least one of the reactors before the tsunami hit. All have requested anonymity because they are still working at the plant or are connected with TEPCO. One worker, a maintenance engineer in his late twenties who was at the Fukushima complex on March 11, recalls hissing and leaking pipes. “I personally saw pipes that came apart and I assume that there were many more that had been broken throughout the plant. There’s no doubt that the earthquake did a lot of damage inside the plant," he said. "There were definitely leaking pipes, but we don’t know which pipes – that has to be investigated. I also saw that part of the wall of the turbine building for Unit 1 had come away. That crack might have affected the reactor.”
-No one knows exactly how much damage was done to the plant by the quake, or if this damage alone would account for the meltdown. However, eyewitness testimony and TEPCO’S own data indicates that the damage was significant. All of this despite the fact that shaking experienced at the plant during the quake was within it’s approved design specifications. Says Hasuike: “What really happened at the Fukushima Daiicihi Nuclear Power Plant to cause a meltdown? TEPCO and the government of Japan have provided many explanations. They don’t make sense. The one thing they haven’t provided is the truth. It’s time that they did.”
Fukushima Update-Lies, Damned Lies and the Big Lie -The Paltry Sapien, July 3
-Emails have been leaked in the UK that show the Departments of Energy and Business initiated and co-ordinated a public relations campaign to downgrade the impact of the Fukushima catastrophe on the public’s perception of nuclear power. In emails that read at times like a parody of Monty Pythons “Upper-Class Twit of the Year” campaign, the government’s mendacity is appalling.
-Will journalists and activists who pooh-poohed the Chernobyl’ comparisons now cop to being the tools of a propaganda campaign? I think not. Will any bureaucrat lose his/her job for misinforming the public given the line in one of the emails about how the containment buildings had protected the reactors-not, all three had melted down by this point. Or for the casual assurance that “We need to show this as an example of the safety of nuclear and how this is even higher with AP1000 Gen III”? Again, not-Westinghouse admitted its Gen III reactors could not handle a 9.0 earthquake.
-We need to take a step back here and meditate on the complete bankruptcy of the British and Japanese governments. As we have heard endlessly in the last ten years of the Global War on Terror ™, governments’ primary responsibility is national security. Strangely, national security seems to be more a matter of preserving industrial interests than preserving, you know, the nation. Part of the problem seems to be that before spreading their bullshit to their citizenry, government officials seem to buy into their own self-serving bullshit (and yes, bullshit is the state of art term, a philosophical principle, not a vulgarity).
Dying for TEPCO? Fukushima’s Nuclear Contract Workers -The Asia Pacific Journal, July 3
-Job offers come not from TEPCO but from Mizukami Kogyo, a company whose business is construction and cleaning maintenance. The description indicates only that the work is at a nuclear plant in Fukushima Prefecture. The job is specified as 3 hours per day at an hourly wage of 10,000 yen. There is no information about danger, only the suggestion to ask the employer for further details on food, lodging, transportation and insurance.
-Those who answer these offers may have little awareness of the dangers and they are likely to have few other job opportunities. $122 an hour is hardly a king’s ransom given the risk of cancer from high radiation levels. But TEPCO and NISA keep diffusing their usual propaganda to minimize the radiation risks.
-Rumor has it that many of the cleanup workers are burakumin. This cannot be verified, but it would be congruent with the logic of the nuclear industry and the difficult job situation of day laborers. Because of ostracism, some burakumin are also involved with yakuza. Therefore, it would not be surprising that yakuza-burakumin recruit other burakumin to go to Fukushima. Yakuza are active in recruiting day laborers of the yoseba: Sanya in Tokyo, Kotobukicho in Yokohama, and Kamagasaki in Osaka. People who live in precarious conditions are then exposed to high levels of radiation, doing the most dirty and dangerous jobs in the nuclear plants, then are sent back to the yoseba. Those who fall ill will not even appear in the statistics.
Japan’s Tsunami: The First 24 Hours -HuffPost, July 3
-EDITOR’S NOTE: It was an ordinary Friday afternoon, and then the shaking began – harbinger of a nuclear nightmare that rages on, three months later. A moment-by-moment account of the crucial first 24 hours after an earthquake and tsunami devastated Japan’s Fukushima Dai-ichi plant.
Cooling resumes at Fukushima No.5 reactor -NHK, July 3
-On Sunday morning, Tokyo Electric Power Company, or TEPCO, found seawater was leaking from a crack in a hose around the outlet of a temporary pump sending seawater into the reactor’s cooling system.
-The company says the polyvinyl chloride hose had a hole about 30 centimeters long and 7 centimeters wide.
-Following the replacement, the cooling system resumed operation 3-and-a half hours later.
-The water temperature at the reactor rose by some 5 degrees Celsius to 47.7 degrees Celsius during the suspension. But the reactor is said to have remained in a state of cold shutdown.
TEPCO uses robot to clean No.3 reactor -NHK, July 3
-For the second day in a row, a robot has been sent into one of the damaged reactors at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant.
-It checked radiation levels after a robot on Friday removed radioactive-contaminated dust and rubble from the No. 3 reactor building.
-The move was taken before nitrogen is injected into the reactor to prevent another of hydrogen explosion.
Graph of radiation measurements at Fukushima No. 1 -atmc.jp, July 3
-Spike in levels attributed to "defective meter"
Aircraft monitoring shows radiation near wildfire near Los Alamos remains normal -Washington Post, July 3
-New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez announced Sunday that flights by a U.S. Environmental Protection Agency plane in the past week showed radiation levels are the same as they were before the fire.
Radioactive Cesium Is Found in Tokyo Tap Water for First Time Since April -Bloomberg, July 4
-Radioactive cesium-137 was found in Tokyo’s tap water for the first time since April as Japan grapples with the worst nuclear disaster in 25 years. The level was below the safety limit set by the government.
-Cesium-137 registered at 0.14 becquerel per kilogram in Shinjuku ward on July 2 and none was discovered yesterday, compared with 0.21 becquerel on April 22, according to the Tokyo Metropolitan Institute of Public Health. No cesium-134 or iodine-131 was detected, the agency said on its website.
Mayor approves restart of Genkai nuclear plant -NHK, July 4
-Mayor Hideo Kishimoto of Genkai Town gave the green light on Monday to Toshio Manabe, the president of Kyushu Electric Power Company, the operator of the Genkai nuclear plant. Two reactors at the plant remain idle after routine check-ups were completed in April.
-Kishimoto said he is convinced that the utility has emergency safety measures in place. He said industry minister Banri Kaieda has assured him that the central government will be responsible for the plant’s safety.
Japanese retirees volunteer to work in stricken nuclear plant -Los Angeles Times, July 4
-They were two old friends catching up over coffee, retirees swapping stories and gasping at the unfolding nuclear nightmare at the Fukushima Daiichi power plant.
-But instead of merely throwing their hands up over the disaster that shook the plant in the wake of the March 11 earthquake and tsunami, Nobuhiro Shiotani and Yasuteru Yamada, both 72-year-old scientists, decided they could do something to help.
-They devised a plan that some have called heroic, others misguided and suicidal. They would enlist a small army of researchers and other skilled workers to come out of retirement to venture inside the radioactive plant and use their expertise to help stabilize its stricken reactors.
-In early April, Yamada got on the phone to former colleagues and long-lost contacts. He wrote letters and emails, and joined Twitter to get the word out to 2,500 people. At last count, 400 men and women have signed up for the Skilled Veterans Corps: former electrical engineers, forklift operators, high-altitude and heavy construction workers, military special forces members, two cooks and even a singer who wants to help.
-The youngest is 60, the oldest 78.
French nuclear power lobbyists used Fukushima smear campaign to promote own businesses -Mainichi News, July 4
-Less than a month after the outbreak of the Fukushima nuclear crisis, illustrated brochures elaborating on the process leading up to the hydrogen explosions at the Fukushima No. 1 Nuclear Power Plant were distributed to members of the U.S. Congress and government officials in Washington.
-The color-print, A-4 size brochures, later to be called the "Fukushima Files," were handed out by lobbyists from France’s nuclear power giant Areva SA in early April.
-The leaflet sent shockwaves around Tokyo and Washington, as well as GE officials, who were busy responding to the nuclear crisis. Areva lobbyists stressed that the accident was peculiar to Japan when they handed out the leaflets, hinting that similar accidents would never occur with nuclear plant systems provided by Areva. It was obvious to the recipients of the brochures that they were part of Areva’s maneuvering to quash its competitors in the nuclear power business.
Lack of responsibility between state, TEPCO for nuclear disaster has deep roots -Mainichi Perspectives, July 4
-Is compensation over ongoing nuclear disaster the responsibility of Tokyo Electric Power Co. (TEPCO) which operates the stricken nuclear power plant, or the national government?
-According to a new nuclear disaster compensation bill that has been submitted by the Cabinet and is slated for deliberations in the Diet this week, the answer is this: "TEPCO, of course, but the government will provide TEPCO with some assistance." The outlook for the bill’s passage remains uncertain.
-The lacking presence of this bill and the challenges that lie ahead of it are symbolic of Japan’s uneasiness stuck between the promotion of nuclear power and its elimination.
Threatening letters sent to Kan and Ozawa -NHK, July 4
-Police are investigating who was responsible for sending 2 letters demanding that Prime Minister Naoto Kan resign.
-One of the letters was delivered to Kan’s office on Friday. It was in an envelope that also contained an 8 centimeter long knife blade.
-The letter said that if the prime minister didn’t resign, Kan would be "punished by heaven".
Date City to decontaminate entire area -NHK, July 4
-The city is located about 50 kilometers northwest of the damaged Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, outside the government-set evacuation zone. But high levels of radiation have been found in 4 districts. Last Friday, the government recommended 113 households to evacuate.
-The city said on Monday that it will decontaminate residential areas, schools, roads and mountains in an attempt to reduce residents’ exposure to radioactive substances as much as possible.
Conditions must be met to lift evacuation advisory -NHK, July 4
-Members of Japan’s Nuclear Safety Commission say the government must do more before it lifts an evacuation advisory for areas near the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant.
-During a news conference on Monday, the members referred to comments by the minister in charge of the nuclear disaster that the government could lift an evacuation advisory for areas 20 to 30 kilometers from the plant by around July 17th.
-The members say a safety assessment must first be carried out to fully understand the situation inside the damaged reactors. They say the government must also confirm that another hydrogen explosion will not occur.
Japan’s leading business lobby, Areva agree on nuclear safety -Kyodo, July 4
You mustn’t believe the lies of the Green zealots. And I should know – I was one -Daily Mail, July 4
-Atomic energy, while far from perfect, is an essential option to combat two looming problems: climate change, caused by man-made carbon emissions, and a growing ‘energy gap’ by which Britain generates far less electricity than it needs, sending fuel bills soaring.
-Surprisingly, nuclear power may be more environmentally friendly than many types of renewable energy, such as wind and solar power. Wind turbines can kill birds and bats, while solar power, if employed on a grand scale, will take up a lot of land space.
-Also, as much as Greens are enthusiastic about solar electricity, in cloudy countries such as ours it is extremely inefficient and expensive. Nuclear power, on the other hand, is one of the cheapest ways of producing electricity, and it is much safer than many environmentalists would have us believe.
-The objection of environmentalists to nuclear power — fears about the dangers of nuclear waste and the cost of decommissioning it — are overblown, which explains why many people don’t like the Greens.
European Union to require radiation checks on food from Shizuoka -Kyodo, July 4
Malaysia eases restrictions on food imported from Japan -Kyodo, July 4
45% of kids in Fukushima survey had thyroid exposure to radiation -Mainichi News, July 5
-Around 45 percent of children in Fukushima Prefecture surveyed by the local and central governments in late March experienced thyroid exposure to radiation, although in all cases in trace amounts that did not warrant further examination, officials of the Nuclear Safety Commission said Tuesday.
-The survey was conducted on 1,080 children aged 0 to 15 in Iwaki, Kawamata and Iitate on March 26-30 in light of radiation leakages from the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant crippled after the March 11 earthquake and tsunami disaster.
-Separately, a survey of soil at four locations in the city of Fukushima on June 26 found that all samples were contaminated with radioactive cesium, measuring 16,000 to 46,000 becquerels per kilogram and exceeding the legal limit of 10,000 becquerels per kg, citizens groups involved said Tuesday.
Japan’s Fukushima city denies radiation danger -AFP, July 5
-Japan’s Fukushima city said Wednesday its 300,000 people are safe from radiation from the stricken nuclear plant 60 kilometres (40 miles) away, seeking to allay fears voiced by citizen groups.
-"We in Fukushima City currently believe we are not in danger," said a city spokesman, a day after a coalition of six citizens’ and anti-nuclear groups voiced alarm over high radiation levels found in soil samples there.
-"Of course, we acknowledge that many residents are concerned. The city has taken various measures to reduce radiation levels at schools, parks and other areas in addition to regularly monitoring radiation in the environment."
Fukushima residents dump radiated soil in absence of plan -Reuters, July 5
-They scoop up soil from their gardens and dump it in holes dug out in parks and nearby forests, scrub their roofs with soap and refuse to let their children play outside.
-More than three months after a massive earthquake and tsunami triggered a nuclear meltdown at a nearby power plant, Fukushima residents are scrambling to cope with contamination on their own in the absence of a long-term plan from the government.
-"Everything and everyone here is paralysed and we feel left on our own, unsure whether it’s actually safe for us to stay in the city," said Akiko Itoh, 42, with her four-year old son in her lap.
-Since late May authorities have been removing topsoil from school grounds in the affected areas, by packing it in tarps and burying it in holes in the grounds as a stopgap measure intended to reduce exposure for children.
-"They say this is just a temporary solution. But we are worried they may take years before removing the contaminated soil for good," says Seiichi Nakate from "Fukushima Network for Saving Children from Radiation," a non-profit citizens group.
-Experts have said that they don’t know and can’t yet estimate how much radioactive soil might have to be removed after Fukushima, but say the amount will be massive based on historical precedent.
Nuclear waste requires cradle-to-grave strategy -Nuclear Power Daily, July 5
-After Fukushima, it is now imperative to redefine what makes a successful nuclear power program – from cradle to grave. If nuclear waste management is not thought out from the beginning, the public in many countries will reject nuclear power as an energy choice, according to research that appears in the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, published by SAGE.
-According to Allison Macfarlane, associate professor of environmental science and policy at George Mason University, and a member of the Blue Ribbon Commission on America’s Nuclear Future, coming up with storage solutions for nuclear waste continues to be a last-minute decision in a number of countries besides Japan.
-In all types of energy production, money is made at the front end of the process rather than in waste management at the back end. Macfarlane argues, however, that a failure to plan for waste disposal can cause the more profitable front end of the operation to collapse.
-After Fukushima, the nuclear industry and nuclear regulators must redefine a "successful" nuclear power program. Safe electricity production will not suffice – a nuclear power program must be safe, secure, and sustainable for its entire lifecycle, from mining uranium ores to disposing of spent nuclear fuel. Failure to plan ahead for nuclear waste management will lead the public in many countries to reject nuclear as an energy choice.
Tanzania to mine uranium in game reserve -Nuclear Power Daily, July 5
-Tanzania will begin uranium mining in its southern Selous Game Reserve, Africa’s second-largest wildlife sanctuary and a UNESCO heritage site, the energy minister said Tuesday.
-Australia’s Mantra Resources will start mining in late 2012 in the southern part of the 54,600-square kilometre park estimated to have 53.9 million pounds (24.4 million kilogrammes) of uranium oxide deposits.
Emergency generators faulty at 2 nuclear plants -NHK, July 5
-Japan’s Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency says the defective components discovered in emergency generators at 2 nuclear power plants have been replaced.
-Agency inspections found faulty parts in the back-up generators for the No. 1 reactor at Hokuriku Electric Power Company’s Shika plant, and the No. 1 reactor at Kansai Electric Power Company’s Mihama plant.
-The inspections followed the discovery of defective parts in an emergency generator for a fast-breeder reactor in Tsuruga City, on the Japan Sea coast.
4 local governments seek to scrap nuclear plants -NHK, July 5
-Shizuoka Governor Heita Kawakatsu said the nuclear crisis in Fukushima has underscored the need for a fundamental review of Japan’s energy policy. He said the country must make efforts to shift to new sources of energy.
-Mayor Tatsuya Murakami of Tokai Village, where a criticality accident occurred in 1999, said it’s become impossible to predict the extent of impact a nuclear disaster would have.
-He said Japan should take the global initiative in moving toward the abandonment of nuclear energy.
Documentary on half-built nukes seeks crowdfunding -Boing Boing, July 5
-"Failed projects, like the sites I am visiting, offer our best chance of gaining a true sense of the scale, materials and feeling of nuclear power infrastructure. They also tell a powerful story about the failure of a technocratic engineering and planning culture—the cancellation of these projects didn’t just result in tens of billions of dollars in write-offs, but in the bankruptcy of several of the utility companies that were building them. My project presents an opportunity to improve the depth of our familiarity with the physical presence of nuclear power in our lives and landscapes, and with the frailty of the entire endeavour."
Spike in B.C. sudden infant deaths concerns coroner – CBC, July 5
-B.C.’s chief coroner is urging parents to use safe sleep practices in light of a spike in the number of sudden infant deaths across the province this year.
-There have been 21 sudden infant deaths in B.C. so far this year, while there were 16 sudden infant deaths for all of 2010, Lisa Lapointe said Tuesday.
-Lapointe said that in most of this year’s deaths, risk factors included babies sleeping with an adult, on a couch or a soft bed.
Anti-Nuclear Fictions Continue -Hawaii Reporter, July 5
-As a nuclear chemist for more than 40 years, I know that radiation is possibly the most thoroughly studied and understood phenomenon, in part because it is so easily measured. Monitoring stations in Washington State detected vanishingly small amounts of radiation. The detection of trace amounts of radiation speaks more about the extreme sensitivity of our radiation detectors than about the potential health consequences from the radiation itself. By sensationalizing the subject of radiation, anti-nuclear campaigners exploit fear of the unknown and unseen. Such claptrap should be seen for what it is.
Niger president says Areva uranium mines safe -Nuclear Power Daily, July 6
-Niger’s President Mahamadou Issoufou said Wednesday that his security forces had made safe the uranium mines in his country run by French state-owned nuclear firm Areva.
-"We have taken all security measures so that work can resume at the new mine in Imouraren… and the Arlit zone is now secured," he said after a meeting in Paris with French President Nicolas Sarkozy.
-He also said he was doing all he could to obtain the release of four French hostages captured near the mines by Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQMI), which has carried out bomb attacks and abductions in the region.
Microbes used to remove cesium in water and soil -NHK, July 6
-A team led by Professor Ken Sasaki of Hiroshima Kokusai Gakuin University has for 10 years been studying ways to remove metals using microbes called phototrophic bacteria.
-Such removal is possible because negative ions on the microbes attract positively charged metals.
-The team recently experimented with 2.5 grams of cesium mixed in water, and about 90 grams of microbes.
-The cesium dropped to one-twelfth its original density in 24 hours, and was gone by the third day. The same effect was confirmed in soil.
Wastewater filters not working to capacity -NHK, July 6
-Tokyo Electric Power Company says about 14,670 tons of wastewater had been decontaminated as of 10:00 AM on Wednesday.
-The filters were processing 43 tons of wastewater per hour, which is 14 percent below the initial estimate of 50 tons per hour.
-This has resulted in the filters working at just 76 percent capacity over the week through Tuesday. That is 4 percentage points below the initial target.
Japan’s nuclear power plants to undergo stress tests -Japan Today, July 6
-The government already ordered exhaustive safety checks on all the country’s 54 nuclear reactors following the disaster, and it was not immediately clear what additional measures would be added by the stress tests.
-Officials provided few details. However, Minister of Economy, Trade and Industry Banri Kaieda said the new safety checks will gauge the facilities’ defenses against extreme events like big earthquakes.
-”There is no change in our view that it is safe,” Kaieda said, adding that the tests are intended to offer more reassurance to local residents.
Unsanctioned reactors running on test mode -Japan Times, July 6
-Kansai Electric Power Co. and Hokkaido Electric Power Co. are operating two nuclear reactors without approval, four months after the Fukushima disaster raised safety concerns about the atomic power industry.
-A reactor at Kepco’s Ohi nuclear plant is operating at full capacity without the final go-ahead from the Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency, said Kazushige Maeda, a spokesman for the Osaka-based utility. The same applies for a reactor at Hokkaido Electric’s Tomari plant, spokesman Hisatoshi Kibayashi said.
-Both units started test runs days before the March 11 earthquake and tsunami knocked out power and cooling systems at Tokyo Electric Power Co.’s Fukushima No. 1 plant, causing three reactors to melt down. "It’s unusual the reactors are running for four months on a test run basis, but there is nothing illegal about it," said Tomohiro Sawada, an assistant director at NISA’s nuclear power inspection division.
Fire breaks out, extinguished soon at nuclear plant in Ibaraki -Japan Today, July 6
-A fire broke out and was extinguished soon at a waste disposal facility for the Tokai No. 2 nuclear power plant of the Japan Atomic Power Co in Tokai, Ibaraki Prefecture, Wednesday morning, the prefectural government said.
-The government said no radioactive materials have been released in the 10 a.m. fire.
Gov’t leaders created secret plan aiming to break up TEPCO after nuke crisis -Mainichi News, July 6
-Between April and early May, while the government was considering support measures for TEPCO, company Chairman Tsunehisa Katsumata met quietly with Sengoku at the Prime Minister’s Office. With him, Katsumata had a document stating that the Great East Japan Earthquake was a "massive natural disaster," which the Law on Compensation for Nuclear Damage says nuclear power companies do not have to cover, and he argued that TEPCO was not obligated to provide compensation. However, Sengoku dismissed the claim, pressing the company to sort out its finances.
-After several meetings between Sengoku and Katsumata, the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry created a draft on support for compensation payments which said electricity fees would need to be raised by 16 percent in order to pay compensation. Under the draft, TEPCO would continue to pay compensation while receiving support from the government. At the same time, the extra fuel costs incurred during TEPCO’s switch from nuclear to thermal power would be transferred to power bills, and profits gathered would be used as capital in repayments to the government.
-Under this plan, the structure of earnings for TEPCO — which up until now has had its yearly income of about 5 trillion yen guaranteed though its monopoly on regional power generation and distribution — would be maintained, and the costs arising from the nuclear crisis would be passed onto consumers in the form of higher power bills.
-Sengoku, however, blasted ministry officials over the plan.
-"Placing such a burden on members of the community won’t hold water in public," he said.
Utility admits to dishonest e-mails on restart -NHK, June 7
-It has come to light that the operator of the Genkai nuclear power plant had requested its staff and affiliates to send e-mails supporting the restart of the reactors to a meeting to explain the government’s safety measures.
-On June 26th, the government held a meeting in Saga City to answer questions from residents in preparation for the resumption of the operation of the nuclear reactors.
President of Japan Nuclear Operator May Resign Over E-Mails -NYT, July 7
-The president of a nuclear plant operator said on Thursday that he may resign as a result of a scandal over faked e-mails that has added a bizarre new twist to a decision whether to allow Japan’s idled reactors to restart in the wake of the Fukushima disaster.
-The president of Kyushu Electric Power, Toshio Manabe, told reporters that he must take responsibility for the e-mails, which were sent by employees of subsidiaries who posed as regular citizens supporting the restart of two local reactors. The e-mails were sent on June 26 during a live televised public hearing on whether to restart the reactors at the Genkai Nuclear Power Station, and some may have been read on the air.
-The revelations on Thursday of the faked e-mails appeared to deal an embarrassing setback to not only Kyushu Electric, but also the powerful Ministry of Trade and Industry, which convened the hearing to win public support for the reactors’ restart.
-”This behavior was unspeakable and went completely against the rationale of the program,” the minister of trade and industry, Banri Kaieda, told reporters.
Genkai mayor retracts plant restart consent -NHK, July 7
-On Monday the mayor informed the utility of his approval for the restart of the 2 reactors that remain idle after routine safety checks were completed in April.
-But the mayor changed his position after the central government announcement on Wednesday that it will conduct an additional "stress test" at all nuclear reactors in Japan to ensure safety.
-At a news conference on Thursday, the mayor criticized the government for previously saying that it was safe for the 2 reactors at the Genkai plant to come back online.
-He said Prime Minister Naoto Kan now says the stress test is a precondition for allowing the restart of the operation of reactors. The mayor said his earlier decision to approve the reactors’ restart appears to have been made in vain and feels nothing but anger at the government.
Tepco Says 3 More Workers Exposed to Radiation Exceeding Limit -Bloomberg, July 7
-Tokyo Electric Power Co. said three more workers at its crippled Fukushima Dai-Ichi nuclear power plant were exposed to radiation exceeding the government’s annual limit.
-The male workers, in their 20s, were exposed to levels beyond the limit of 250 millisieverts, Junichi Matsumoto, a general manager at the utility known as Tepco, told reporters in Tokyo today. Medical examinations showed the exposure had no immediate impact on their health, he said.
Tokyo parents demand safe school lunch -NHK, July 7
-In their letter of request, the parents asked the ward to not only set up a checking system to detect radiation in vegetables, fish, milk and other foodstuffs used in school lunches but also to procure these items only from limited areas.
-They handed the mayor a list of about 6,000 signatures in support of their requests.
-The mayor told them that no milk has been found tainted with radiation so far and that the harvest areas of foodstuffs will be disclosed at all schools in the ward.
Tepco halts cooling system at nuclear plant after sparks-Kyodo -Reuters, July 7
-The operator of Japan’s Fukushima Daini nuclear power plant, located near the tsunami-crippled Daiichi plant, on Thursday halted the cooling system at one of its reactors after electrical sparks were detected, Kyodo news agency reported.
-Tokyo Electric Power , the plant’s operator, expects to be able to restore the cooling system at the Daini plant’s No.1 reactor before the end of Thursday, Kyodo said.
Nitrogen injection could be delayed at Fukushima -NHK, July 7
-Tokyo Electric Power Company on Wednesday examined the No.3 reactor to see if it can connect injection pipes to the containment vessel.
-A camera-mounted robot was used for the operation because high radioactive levels are preventing workers from remaining in the reactor building for long periods.
-But TEPCO failed to confirm the situation because the robot couldn’t reach the necessary part of the reactor.
-Radiation levels as high as about 50 millisieverts per hour were registered in the area.
Japan’s Legally Safe Reactors Still at Risk, Regulator Says -Bloomberg, July 7
-Atomic reactors deemed safe by Japan’s nuclear regulator are still at risk from temblors even after safety measures taken following the worst atomic accident in 25 years, the Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency said.
-Almost two-thirds of the nation’s 54 reactors are closed after a March earthquake and tsunami caused meltdowns at three reactors at a plant in northern Japan operated by Tokyo Electric Power Co. The government said yesterday restarts will be delayed for more tests even though measures taken since the crisis mean the plants meet legal standards to operate.
-"It doesn’t mean that there is no risk at all,” Moriyama said at a press conference in Tokyo. “You would not be able to deny the possibility of a serious accident occurring such as damage to a reactor core.”
5.6 quake rattles Japan near Fukushima site -Japan Today, July 8
-An earthquake registering 5.6 shook the Pacific off Honshu, Japan, the U.S. Geological Survey said Thursday. That is the area of northeast Japan ravaged by a March 11 quake and tsunami that knocked out power at the Fukushima nuclear plant.
-No immediate damage or casualties were reported from the quake that struck at 3:35 a.m. Friday (1835 GMT Thursday), the USGS said. No tsunami watch was immediately issued.
Nuke plant equipment fails quake-resistance check -NHK, July 8
-The agency found that the level of quake-resistance of the electrical equipment at Tokai Daini nuclear power plant in Ibaraki Prefecture was below the standard set by power companies.
-The Tokai Daini plant is currently undergoing regular inspections. The operator plans to strengthen the quake-resistance of its equipment during the inspection period.
-The agency says the electrical equipment in other nuclear power plants are up to standards.
-Once it identifies what caused the damage to the equipment at the Fukushima Daiichi plant, the agency plans to re-examine all nuclear power plants in the country.