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Because the situation is alarming.

There is still a great deal of uncertainty about where the melted-down fuel at Fukushima I’s reactors is resting. TEPCO and various NPA’s have insisted all along that they know where it is, and everything is under control. The most recent information from TEPCO is that the fuel is contained in the containment vessel, but they won’t be able to confirm that for ten years when it cools down enough to go have a look. Recent efforts to peek inside the rubble have been hampered. One attempt resulted in very blurry photographs … apparently the high levels of radiation mess up the camera. An interesting development is afoot: Scientists at Nagoya have a muon camera! Muons are part of the background radiation stuff that is wafting through us and all our matter at a low level all the time. Even though muons can pass through most matter without even noticing it, the densest of matter does absorb some of them. The Nagoya scientist have been using a “muon camera” to photograph the insides of volcanoes. You set up the film, filter out other background radiation, and wait a very long time (weeks, months, etc.) and the muons eventually leave an image. This could be used to detect the very dense nuclear fuel at Fukushima. It may not work because of the high levels of radiation at the crippled plant, but it is probably worth a try. TEPCO so far seems to be ignoring the offer. We have come to the point where we can assume that if a method of analysis could show that things are worse off than TEPCO’s rose-colored-glasses version that they will resist using that method, so don’t expect the muon camera to be installed any time soon, or ever. Unless, of course, some outside agency simply comes in and takes over.

Speaking of lies and deceit, we also learned of a worst-case scenario report produced after the meltdown that indicated the distinct possibility of large amounts of radiation being spewed over a large area that would have actually required a voluntary evacuation of … wait for it …. Tokyo. This was a worst-case scenario, and that did not happen, but it was considered plausible. The disturbing part of this is that a small number of officials got hold of it and decided it was too scary to tell anyone about, so it was suppressed. Just like in all those overdone highly implausible science fiction movies.

Water and temperature levels at Fukushima I are still varying in ways that are not understood and that should cause concern.

Thousands of tons of crushed stone was mined from near the Fukushima plant after the meltdowns but before anyone thought to restrict the use of radioactive rock from the area, and has been used to build about 60 homes; another several dozen homes are about to be built with the same stone. Also, radioactive gravel has been used to build walls at an Elementary school and in roads and pathways.

In Nihonmatsu, children wearing dosimeters were found to have been exposed to alarmingly high levels of radiation. When the source of this radiation was discovered, it turned out to be from concrete made with this radioactive gravel. The levels of radiation inside the homes made from this concrete was higher than the radiation levels outside the home. Of the families that had moved into the apartments, many had moved from the Fukushima evacuation zone.

The party line of NPA’s regarding Chernobyl is that nothing really bad happened there despite rumors to the contrary. Now we hare hearing that noting really bad happened at Fukushima, but the comparison is being made to Chernobyl … Everything is fine at Fukushima because unlike Chernobyl, where “…people were dying from huge, high exposures, some of the workers were dying very soon…” nothing like that is happening in Japan. This would be funny if it wasn’t so demented.

Meanwhile, at Fukushima, where nothing has gone wrong and everything is fine, researchers have found that bird populations are dwindling as a result of radioactive fallout.

In the first major study of the impact of the world’s worst nuclear crisis in 25 years, the researchers, from Japan, the US and Denmark, said their analysis of 14 species of bird common to Fukushima and Chernobyl, the Ukrainian city which suffered a similar nuclear meltdown, showed the effect on abundance is worse in the Japanese disaster zone.

One of the effects of increased ambient radiation is reduction in brain size in birds, and it can be safely guessed that this may happen in humans as well. More information about this is here.

A study of mother’s milk at Fukushima is starting, and there is now concern over locust consumption … the edible insects may be sufficiently radioactive that they should be avoided, which is a bummer, because they are rather tasty.

The Japanese have developed a way to plow their fields so that the surface radiation readings are reduced. The radioactive stuff is plowed deeper where it will not be read by surface sensors. We assume plants will still be able to absorb the radioactive elements via their roots. A recent study documented high levels of radiation in earthworm castings in the Fukushima area. We wonder if it is easier to catch radioactive fish with radioactive worms? One study has also shown that the fact that a large percentage of the radioactive fallout from Fukushima fell into the sea, things are better than they otherwise might be. On land. Of course, a month after the multiple meltdown, it is now known that discharge at the plant (into the ocean) had 45,000,000 times the amount of radioactive Cesium-137 than it did before the multiple meltdown. This is not of great immediate concern because the ocean is big and the amount of radiation is small enough to be quickly dispersed, but there is concern that over subsequent months and years persistent radioactive material will be concentrated in fish.

Here’s a very very interesting piece by Fairewinds’ Arnie Gundersen about Reactor 1. We’ll call this the Brunswick Effect:

The significance of this is that a post-Fukushima “fix” on this design of reactor will not be effective. The nuclear power industry appears to be about to blow it. Again. Literally.

Speaking of which, we note that one important source of power at Fukushima, that might have allowed continued collection of data during the crisis, had been turned off and left off months before the earthquake, by mistake. The reason that this is important is because it is a just discovered, uncontrolled goof with consequences (GWC) that is undoubtedly NOT being incorporated into the much touted “post-Fukushima” considerations in new plant design and operation procedure. The nuclear power industry assures us that they’ve learned everything they can from Fukushima and has incorporated all the appropriate changes in future new construction, design, ongoing procedure and licensing. But they have not considered Arnie’s elastic bolts or random GWS’s such as this one.

Also from Fairwinds, something on BEIR and health risks to children.

Cancer Risk To Young Children Near Fukushima Daiichi Underestimated from Fairewinds Energy Education on Vimeo.

Oh, and remember “Fukushima II” (the other Fukushima plant)? “One Japanese expert, Hiromitsu Ino, said a Containment Vessel at Fukushima II (Daini) is broken, and they are trying to repair it. It was probably caused by the earthquake, not tsunami.”

Ooops

All this and more are documented below in Ana’s Feed:

Nuclear decontamination law goes into full force -Mainichi News, Jan 1

  • Under the law, which was partially enacted in August, decontamination plans will be formulated by 102 municipalities in eight prefectures where radiation doses are expected to exceed 1 millisievert a year on top of natural background radiation and that from medical treatment.
  • The cleanup cost in the areas will be shouldered by the central government. The eight prefectures are Iwate, Miyagi, Fukushima, Ibaraki, Tochigi, Gunma, Saitama and Chiba.
  • The Environment Ministry launched a 60-odd member office in the city of Fukushima on Sunday to push decontamination work within Fukushima Prefecture, with plans to start in late January the cleanup of infrastructure such as roads and water supply inside the no-go zone and elsewhere.
  • Full-fledged cleanup work is likely to start at the end of March, ministry officials said.
  • The ministry hopes to halve annual radiation doses for ordinary people and reduce those for children by 60 percent by the end of August 2013.

Skis, goggles, hats and radiation monitors: thousands crowd the slopes during Fukushima’s ski season -Telegraph, Jan 1

  • Last week, thousands of skiers took to the snow-covered slopes of Fukushima for the official seasonal start of the ski season in resorts across the mountainous region following heavy snowfall.
  • However, there were clues that this was no ordinary ski season in particular, the daily postings of radiation readings in the region alongside the more standard snow reports as well as the regional authorities monitoring food safety levels.
  • And the return of tourists to the region was no doubt fuelled further by the growing availability of personal radiation reading devices in Japan, from iPhone applications measuring atmospheric levels to portable Geiger counters attached to mobile phones.

DIY cesium scanning store may be ‘new normal’ -Japan Times, Jan 1

  • The high-tech radiation detectors cost 1 million each but can detect cesium levels as low as 20 becquerels, as long as customers provide 1 kg of the item.
  • The machines have proven popular. People brought in 3,000 items to Bec-Miru for scanning in the first two months, and reservations are now common.
  • The surreal sight of a do-it-yourself radiation testing facility standing next to a hardware store and an Internet cafe raises a question for Japan: Is this the new normal?
  • “Before March 11, I wasn’t involved in any grassroots movement or any sort of antinuclear activity,” said Takamatsu, who has two young children. “Now, I worry about the safety of food.”

54% of N-zone evacuees have yet to return -Yomiuri, Jan 1

  • Due to slow progress in decontamination operations and a lack of job opportunities in the five municipalities in Fukushima Prefecture, 31,600, or 54 percent, out of a total 59,049 evacuees from the areas near the crippled plant continued to live in shelters instead of returning home as of Tuesday.
  • In Minami-Soma City alone, 22,983, or about 50 percent of 46,744 evacuees from the city, still remain outside the city.
  • Masahiro Igawa, 33, whose house in the city’s Haramachi Ward was swept away by the March 11 tsunami, evacuated to Fukushima City with his wife and four children.
  • “Though decontamination operations have started, areas around schools still show high radiation levels, and hospitals have not been restored to original conditions. We can’t go home even if we want to, out of consideration for our children,” he said.

For how much longer will Japan’s fate remain in the hands of amateurs? -Japan Times, Jan 1

  • What is the risk of another Fukushima-type catastrophe, perhaps on an even more frightening scale, taking place and is that risk worth taking?
  • I turned to an expert on risk, Woody Epstein, whose title is Manager of Risk Consulting at Scandpower Inc., a worldwide company headquartered in Oslo, and with offices in Yokohama.
  • “There are statutory limits regulating core-damage frequency (CDF) at nuclear power plants all over the world,” explains Epstein, who describes himself as neither pro- nor anti-nuclear. “The CDF limit for a single nuclear power plant is once every 10,000 years. If your CDF is greater than that, you are in violation. My main concern is the release of radioactive material into the environment.
  • “The Swiss, with their four plants, have the best attitude on safety in the world. They don’t need an accident or a government regulator. They said to me, ‘We think about the safety of our friends and families … we do this because we live here.’ ”
  • So, why aren’t regulators and power plant operators in Japan equally scrupulous and mindful of their “friends and families” let alone the general public’s welfare both here and far beyond?
  • With Tokyo Electric Power Co. (Tepco, operator of the crippled Fukushima plant) in the lead, the sway that Japan’s 10 regional electric utilities wield over the politicians, bureaucrats, financiers, academics and captains of the media who together comprise Japan’s so-called nuclear village is, in a word, monumental.
  • If we are to believe what we are told by people in the mainstream media, steps are being taken to ensure there will be “no more Fukushimas.” But any such safety assurances were all but worthless in the past.
  • If there was an Ignoble Prize for Prevarication and Coverup, last year’s would go to Tepco for its repeated, official use of the word soteigai (meaning, “beyond the realm of predictability”) in mitigation of its response to the tsunami that led to the meltdown of three reactors at its Fukushima plant.

Japan’s nuclear safety panel received donations: report -TerraDaily, Jan 1

  • Almost a third of commissioners and examiners at Japan’s nuclear safety commission received donations from the country’s nuclear power industry, the Asahi Shimbun reported Sunday.
  • The influential daily said the governmental commission’s neutrality could be brought into question at a time when the safety of nuclear reactors in Japan was in doubt after a March 11 earthquake and tsunami disaster.

Cover-up of estimated costs to dispose of radioactive waste raises serious questions -Mainichi Perspectives, Jan 2

  • Revelations that officials from the Agency for Natural Resources and Energy concealed the estimated costs of disposing of spent nuclear fuel highlights the distorted logic of government officials who stick to reprocessing radioactive waste even by lying.
  • The cover-up is essentially similar to a case in which some high-ranking government officials hid a 2002 Russian diplomatic document in which Moscow offered to accept spent nuclear fuel from Japan, in that both helped promote the reprocessing of radioactive waste at a plant in Rokkasho, Aomori Prefecture.
  • The government’s panel on energy and environmental policies is under mounting pressure to hold thorough and transparent discussions on Japan’s new energy policy.
  • The matter is serious all the more because Masaya Yasui, who was director of the agency’s Nuclear Power Policy Planning Division when he instructed his subordinate in April 2004 to conceal the data, currently serves as counselor in charge of reform of nuclear power safety regulations. In other words, the official who ordered the cover-up of the data is now responsible for working out safety measures at nuclear plants following the accident at the tsunami-hit Fukushima No. 1 Nuclear Power Plant.

Fukushima Reactor 4 Skimmer Surge Tank Latest: Earthquake Caused the Water to Go from SFP to Reactor Well Instead, Says TEPCO -EX-SKF, Jan 2

  • At 5:30PM on January 1, it was observed that the water level of the Skimmer Surge Tank of the Spent Fuel Pool of Reactor 4 dropped by 240 millimeters during the 3 hours from 2PM to 5PM (while the normal decline is 50 millimeters in 3 hours). Later we surveyed the facilities, but found no leak outside the reactor building, at the pipe joints of the SFP cooling system or at the location where the cooling system was installed.
  • As of 5PM on January 1, the temperature of the water in the Reactor 4 SFP was 23 degrees Celsius (as of 5AM on January 2 it was 22 degrees Celsius). The SFP cooling system is in operation and there is no problem in cooling the pool. While the water level in the SFP remained the same, the water level in the Skimmer Surge Tank continued to drop. From 10:27PM to 11:13PM on January 1, we filled the water in the Skimmer Surge Tank. Currently the water level is declining at about 90 millimeters per hour. We are monitoring the water level every hour instead of every 3 hours. As of now there is no leak outside the building, and there is no noticeable change in the water level of the contaminated water inside the [reactor] building.
  • Later inspection revealed that the amount of water decreased in the Skimmer Surge Tank was about the same as the amount of water increased in the Reactor Well, and that the water level in the Reactor Well was lower than that in the SFP. Therefore, our hypothesis is that: the earthquake on January 1 at 2:30PM tweaked the space in the gate between the Reactor Well and the SFP; water flowed from the SFP to the Reactor Well, and the overflow water to the Skimmer Surge Tank decreased, causing the water level of the Skimmer Surge Tank to decrease more than normal.

They Will Grow Rice Again This Year in Fukushima -EX-SKF, Jan 3

  • Regarding the rice harvested in part of Fukushima that was found with radioactive cesium exceeding the national provisional safety limit (500 becquerels/kg), the Fukushima prefectural government has decided to instruct farmers to give more potassium fertilizer when they plant rice for 2012.
  • According to the prefectural government, potassium fertilizer works to limit the uptake of radioactive cesium by the rice plant.

NISA pledges to regain public trust -NHK, Jan 4

  • Hiroyuki Fukano said on Wednesday that he is deeply sorry his agency was not able to prevent the nuclear accident at the Fukushima Daiichi power plant.
  • He said the agency’s officials should remember that many Fukushima residents are still displaced from their homes.
  • Fukano said it is not easy to regain public trust in nuclear safety. He added it has completely been undermined by the accident and the officials must go back to basics.
  • The government agency, launched 11 years ago, will be united with the Nuclear Safety Commission and merged into a new nuclear safety body in April.

It’s All How You Define Radiation, and Koriyama Defines it “Out” -EX-SKF, Jan 4

  • It is just a matter of how you define the problem, and Koriyama City in Fukushima Prefecture, in the high-radiation “Nakadori” region, has decided to “define out” the problem by drawing the radiation contour map of the city with a new set of color schemes so that people will feel “safe and secure” looking at such “low” radiation levels.
  • After all, the nuclear accident is “over”, remember?
  • The map used to have 1.49 microsievert/hour as maximum, in red color. Now, in the new version of the map that accompanies the Koriyama City’s official decon plan, 45 microsieverts/hour is the maximum in red color. 1.5 microsievert/hour area is now in a calming, safe-looking extremely light blue.

Japanese Don’t Want a Nuclear Future: The Ticker -Bloomberg, Jan 4

  • As the ground shook on the opening day of 2012, the immediate concern was the nuclear facilities at Tokyo Electric Power Co.s plants in Fukushima. Thankfully, the quake didn’t cause fresh damage – this time.
  • But what about next time? In a June Asahi newspaper poll, 74 percent favored Japan over time decommissioning all 54 reactors. Actions by the government, reinforced by Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda’s press conference today, suggest the opposite is afoot. Japanese want a nuclear-free future, and yet the government is back to coddling the power industry.
  • Why the disconnect? Japan’s nuclear-industrial complex is every bit as powerful as the nexus of business and the military in the U.S. There’s just too much money involved, and Japan’s “nuclear village” is circling the wagons. The moment Noda’s predecessor, Naoto Kan, announced plans to rein in the industry’s incestuous ties with government bureaucrats, his premiership was over.
  • Japanese deserve better. Consider, too, that only six of the 54 reactors are operating anyway. While strains will be expected, Japan is proving it can live reasonably well without the reactors the government claims are so vital to the economy.

Futaba mayor opposes radioactive soil storage -NHK, Jan 4

  • The mayor of Futaba Town in Fukushima Prefecture says he opposes the government’s plan to build a facility for storing radioactive waste soil in Futaba County.
  • Mayor Katsutaka Idogawa expressed for the first time his opposition to the facility in his New Year address to town employees on Wednesday.
  • The mayor said he cannot accept the facility because townspeople who evacuated would not be able to return once it is built.

Mothers first to shed food-safety complacency -Japan Times, Jan 4

  • The disaster at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant and the threat of radioactive fallout changed the lives of many people, including Mizuho Nakayama and other mothers of young children whose primary goal suddenly became that of keeping their kids out of harm’s way.
  • Once career-oriented, Nakayama, 41, quit her full-time job in August and now devotes her life to doing her utmost to minimize her 3-year-old son’s exposure to the various dangerous isotopes released amid the three meltdowns at the Tokyo Electric Power Co. plant.
  • Her efforts range from preparing foods with what she hopes are the safest ingredients to becoming a key member of a group of mothers based in Setagaya Ward, Tokyo, worried about radiation.
  • When she bakes bread or cream stew, for example, she goes out of her way to pick ingredients that come from outside the Tohoku or Kanto regions.
  • “It takes double the time it used to prepare a meal now,” Nakayama said.
  • “My priorities have changed. My child comes first now,” she said. “When it comes to radiation problems, our only option is self-protection.”

Number of hunters in Fukushima Prefecture drops due to nuclear crisis -Yomiuri, Jan 5

  • This season, there were 3,291 applications to register in the prefecture as of Nov. 15, much lower than the 4,779 in the previous season.
  • Shinichi Yamada, 67, from the town of Namie, who now lives in a house provided by the Iwaki city government, went hunting at least 30 times per season until this season.
  • But he did not register as a hunter this season because he is not allowed to retrieve guns from his home in the no-entry zone and bring them to his temporary housing unit.
  • Masami Ogawa, 69, of Fukushima City also gave up on hunting this year, as radioactive cesium exceeding the government’s interim limit of 500 becquerels per kilogram was detected in the meat of boars and black bears captured in the prefecture.

Fukushima mayors seek help over waste storage -NHK, Jan 5

  • Municipalities around the troubled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant have asked for help from the prefectural government over the central government’s plan to temporarily store radioactive waste in the communities.
  • Representing 8 towns and villages in Futaba County, Tomioka Town Mayor Katsuya Endo made the request when he met Fukushima Governor Yuhei Sato on Thursday.
  • Endo said the municipalities take the state government’s proposal seriously but that it is too much of a burden for them to handle alone.
  • The municipalities are divided over the central government’s plan on interim storage of radioactive soil and debris. The mayor of Futaba Town, Katsutaka Idogawa, voiced opposition while some other local leaders say they have no choice but to accept it.

Over half of claimants yet to receive compensation from TEPCO -Japan Today, Jan 5

  • As of Dec 31, of approximately 70,000 claimants who applied for compensation, only 34,000 applications were accepted, NHK reported
  • Some media observers have suggested that the low rate of payouts may be connected to the complicated claim forms, which drew harsh criticism last year when TEPCO distributed to evacuees not only a bulky application form package but also a 156-page instruction manual. Lawmakers criticized the company for making the application form needlessly complicated.
  • A TEPCO spokesman was quoted as saying that since the utility simplified the application forms last month, the number of claimants has risen sharply, NHK reported. He said that TEPCO will assign 1,000 more staff by March to help process applications and ensure payouts as quickly as possible.

Municipalities to be prepared for nuke accidents -NHK, Jan 5

  • More than 130 Japanese municipalities are stepping up preparations for nuclear accidents after the government tripled the size of emergency zones around nuclear plants to 30 kilometers.
  • Japan’s Nuclear Safety Commission expanded the size of the zones from 10 kilometers last November.
  • The expansion includes not only communities hosting nuclear power plants but also surrounding areas, multiplying the number of municipalities involved.
  • These local governments must now boost disaster preparedness by setting evacuation routes and securing shelters.

New nuclear safety agency’s performance questioned -NHK, Jan 5

  • The new nuclear safety agency will be tasked with overhauling Japan’s nuclear regulations, but has yet to come up with concrete safety rules.
  • The new agency, which will be launched under the Environmental Ministry in April, faces the challenge of providing supervision and advice to power utilities in the event of an emergency.
  • The government has come under fire for being slow to collect and release existing data after the nuclear accident last March, and for not instructing the operator of the crippled Fukushima plant to prepare for a huge tsunami.
  • The government says the new body must secure experienced, professional personnel and cultivate a sharper sense of crisis among officials in addressing safety.
  • A Cabinet Ministry senior official preparing for the launch of the new agency says it must protect the people and the environment.

Japan May Nationalize Nuclear Power Plants, Edano Tells Yomiuri -Bloomberg, Jan 6

  • Japans government will consider taking control of the countrys atomic power stations unless private utilities assume more responsibility for the risks involved in their operations, the Yomiuri newspaper reported, citing Trade and Industry minister Yukio Edano.
  • Tokyo Electric Power Co. (9501) and other atomic plant operators have benefited from lower operating costs, yet the government is stepping in to help compensate those affected by the Fukushima nuclear crisis, Edano said in an interview, according to the Yomiuri.
  • Japans government needs to decide whether to nationalize nuclear power stations and assume the risks of accidents or make the countrys utilities pay higher insurance premiums and shoulder any costs themselves, Edano was cited as saying.

Fukushima exposes contradictions / Nuclear crisis prompts govt to rethink private companies’ operation of N-plants -Yomiuri, Jan 7

  • Although the Law on Compensation for Nuclear Damage stipulates that electric companies have unlimited liability in the case of accidents, the government had no choice but to support Tokyo Electric Power Co.’s efforts to pay compensation for damage caused by the Fukushima crisis. Therefore, the government plans to overhaul the law, including a review of utilities’ unlimited liability.
  • If it does so, however, entrusting utility companies with the operation of cost-efficient nuclear power plants, the companies may just siphon off profits and push the risk of accidents onto the state.
  • Hence, the government likely will review the current system in which electricity companies possess and operate nuclear power plants. There are various options for overhauling the nation’s nuclear policy:
  • – Bringing the operation and management of nuclear power plants under state control, completely separating the plants from utility firms.
  • – Entrusting only the operation of plants to the state.
  • – Managing plants through a public organization funded jointly by the public and private sectors.

Science with a Skew: The Nuclear Power Industry After Chernobyl and Fukushima -truthout, Jan 7

  • It is one of the marvels of our time that the nuclear industry managed to resurrect itself from its ruins at the end of the last century, when it crumbled under its costs, inefficiencies, and mega-accidents. Chernobyl released hundreds of times the radioactivity of the Hiroshima and Nagasaki bombs combined, contaminating more than 40% of Europe and the entire Northern Hemisphere. But along came the nuclear lobby to breathe new life into the industry, passing off as clean this energy source that polluted half the globe. The fresh look at nuclearin the words of a New York Times makeover piece (May 13, 2006)paved the way to a nuclear Renaissance in the United States that Fukushima has by no means brought to a halt.
  • That mainstream media have been powerful advocates for nuclear power comes as no surprise. The media are saturated with a skilled, intensive, and effective advocacy campaign by the nuclear industry, resulting in disinformation and wholly counterfactual accountswidely believed by otherwise sensible people, states the 2010-2011 World Nuclear Industry Status Report by Worldwatch Institute. What is less well understood is the nature of the evidence that gives the nuclear industry its mandate, Cold War science which, with its reassurances about low-dose radiation risk, is being used to quiet alarms about Fukushima and to stonewall new evidence that would call a halt to the industry.
  • Consider these damage control pieces from major media:

Fukushima lays bare Japanese media’s ties to top -Japan Times, Jan 8

  • Is the ongoing crisis surrounding the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant being accurately reported in the Japanese media?
  • No, says independent journalist Shigeo Abe, who claims the authorities, and many journalists, have done a poor job of informing people about nuclear power in Japan both before and during the crisis and that the clean-up costs are now being massively underestimated and underreported.
  • “The government says that as long as the radioactive leak can be dammed from the sides it can be stopped, but that’s wrong,” Abe insists. “They’re going to have to build a huge trench underneath the plant to contain the radiation a giant diaper. That is a huge-scale construction and will cost a fortune. The government knows that but won’t reveal it.”
  • The mainstream media has long been part of the press-club system, which funnels information from official Japan to the public. Critics say the system locks the country’s most influential journalists into a symbiotic relationship with their sources, and discourages them from investigation or independent lines of analysis.

Japanese Expert Says Fukushima II (not I) Nuke Plant’s Containment Vessel Has Been Damaged by the Quake -EX-SKF, Jan 8

  • Information from Iwakami Yasumi’s USTREAM channel netcasting the workshop of an Osaka citizens’ group “Kansai network to stop the disaster-debris acceptance” with a panel of experts including European experts.
  • One Japanese expert, Hiromitsu Ino, said a Containment Vessel at Fukushima II (Daini) is broken, and they are trying to repair it. It was probably caused by the earthquake, not tsunami.

Japan govt eyes Tepco common shares-Jiji -Reuters, Jan 8

  • Japan’s government is preparing to take control of Tokyo Electric Power Co, operator of the crippled Fukushima nuclear power plant, by buying a majority stake in its common shares, Jiji News Agency said.
  • The government may inject about $13 billion into Tepco as early as next summer, sources told Reuters last month, effectively nationalising it through a purchase by a government-run bailout fund of newly issued Tepco shares.

Over 330 pets rescued from Fukushima no-entry zone -NHK, Jan 8

  • The Environment Ministry and Fukushima Prefecture have conducted rescue operations for dogs and cats in the no-entry zone. The animals were left there because, either their owners died in the March 11th disaster, or they could not take them to evacuation shelters.
  • The Environment Ministry and other relevant offices put together guidelines for special permits to enter the restricted zone to rescue dogs and cats before the cold weather set in.
  • 16 animal protection groups had entered the off-limits zone by the end of December and rescued 332 dogs and cats which were loose in the streets. Some of them were reunited with their owners.

Fukushima nuclear cleanup could create its own environmental disaster -Guardian, Jan 9

  • Following the nuclear disaster at Chernobyl 25 years ago, the Soviet government chose long-term evacuation over extensive decontamination; as a result, the plants and animals near Chernobyl inhabit an environment that is both largely devoid of humans and severely contaminated by radioactive fallout.
  • The meltdown last March of three nuclear reactors at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant in Japan also contaminated large areas of farmland and forests, albeit not as severely or extensively as at Chernobyl. But lacking land for resettlement and facing public outrage over the accident, the Japanese government has chosen a very different path, embarking on a decontamination effort of unprecedented scale.
  • Beginning this month, at least 1,000 sq km of land much of it forest and farms will be cleaned up as workers power-spray buildings, scrape soil off fields, and remove fallen leaves and undergrowth from woods near houses. The goal is to make all of Fukushima livable again. But as scientists, engineers, and ordinary residents begin this massive task, they face the possibility that their efforts will create new environmental problems in direct proportion to their success in remediating the radioactive contamination.
  • “Decontamination can be really effective, [but] what you have is a tradeoff between dose reduction and environmental impact,” says Kathryn Higley, a radioecologist at Oregon State University who has studied several decontamination sites in the United States. That’s because the radioactive particles the Japanese are trying to get rid of can be quite “sticky”. Removing them without removing large amounts of soil, leaves, and living plants is nearly impossible. The Ministry of Environment estimates that Fukushima will have to dispose of 15 to 31m cubic metres of contaminated soil and debris by the time the decontamination projects end. Costs are predicted to exceed a trillion yuan.

2 towns at risk of disappearing / Okuma, Futaba face uncertain future due to nearby crippled N-plant -Yomiuri, Jan 9

  • How will the government help the estimated 25,000 people who lived in areas where residency likely will be prohibited for an extended period due to the crisis at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant?
  • In particular, Okuma and Futaba towns in Fukushima Prefecture will face extreme hardship because most of their residential areas fall in those areas. The crippled nuclear plant is located in the two towns.
  • It will be extremely difficult for the municipal governments to restore the towns to their conditions before the disaster. The central government will need to consider providing assistance to the evacuees so they can lead self-reliant lives.

Tepco to Deposit 120 Billion Yen as Insurance Lapses, Kyodo Says -Bloomberg, Jan 10

  • Tokyo Electric Power Co. will deposit 120 billion yen ($1.6 billion) to Japans government as a guarantee against further accidents at the crippled Fukushima Dai-Ichi nuclear power plant as insurance at the facility lapses Jan. 15, Kyodo News reported without citing anyone.

Fukushimas Impact on the Ocean Analyzed -spectrum, Jan 11

  • One month after the March 2011 Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear accident, ocean water at the plants wastewater discharge point had 45 million times the concentration of radioactive cesium-137 than before the accident, according to researchers in Japan and from the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution. The numbers plummeted the next month because ocean currents moved the contaminants away from shore. By July, numbers were down to 10 000 times as high as normal.
  • This latest analysis, reported in the 1 December 2011 issue of the journal Environmental Science & Technology, indicates that the concentration in ocean water poses no direct threat to humans or marine life. However, accumulation in marine sediment could be of concern for decades, says Ken Buesseler, a marine chemist at Woods Hole who was involved in the research.
  • Whats also troubling is that cesium-137 concentrations have stayed at near constant levels since July, implying that radioactive water is still being released, either directly from the reactors or indirectly from groundwater. “Im convinced there are ongoing leaks,” Buesseler says. “Even if you plug all leaks and shut down reactors, groundwater keeps leaching into the ocean and these waters and contaminated sediments can be a long-term source of cesium-137 for decades to a century.”
  • As recently as 4 December 2011, the Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO), the plant operator, disclosed that 45 tons of water laced with radioactive strontium had leaked into the ground from a treatment facility. Strontium, which has a 30-year half-life similar to cesiums, can accumulate in bones and is linked to bone cancer. Small fish that are eaten with their bones could be a source of exposure.

Fearful residents give up on Fukushima Pref. -Yomiuri, Jan 12

  • About 20,000 evacuees from Futaba County, home to the plant, have migrated to Iwaki City. There are 10 temporary housing units for evacuees in the city’s center.
  • Yamagata Prefecture is also home to many evacuees who have left neighboring Fukushima Prefecture.
  • According to a survey of evacuees from Fukushima Prefecture conducted by the Yamagata prefectural government in November, about 16 percent of 1,649 households who responded have considered remaining in Yamagata “forever” or “until our children graduate from school.” About 14 percent of respondents said they had already transferred their residency to municipalities in Yamagata Prefecture.

Gov’t tells TEPCO to prepare repair plan for Fukushima Daini equipment -Mainichi News, Jan 12

  • The Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency told Tokyo Electric Power Co. on Wednesday to prepare a report by the end of January on how to repair equipment at its Fukushima Daini nuclear power plant damaged by the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami, a senior agency official said.
  • The report is needed to “further ensure” the plant will remain in a stable state of cold shutdown, Kenji Matsuoka, chief of the disaster prevention section at the agency, said at a press conference, denying it is aimed at requiring the utility, known as TEPCO, to prepare for restarting the plant.
  • The Fukushima Daini nuclear power plant was not so fatally damaged as the nearby Fukushima Daiichi plant by the magnitude-9.0 earthquake and subsequent tsunami. In December, the government lifted its declaration of a state of emergency at the Fukushima Daini plant.
  • But facilities at the plant, including the emergency power generator and the cooling system for spent nuclear fuel pools, have been damaged, according to the agency.

Nuke administrative agency ordered to produce own inspection manual -Mainichi News, Jan 13

  • The Japan Nuclear Energy Safety Organization (JNES), an incorporated administrative agency tasked with inspecting Japan’s nuclear facilities, has been ordered to produce an independent inspection manual and end its reliance on inspection manuals made by nuclear power plant operators.
  • A third-party panel of the JNES made the request in a report to the agency under the jurisdiction of the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry on Jan. 12.
  • The panel made the request after the JNES has been found to have inspected nuclear power facilities across the country by relying on copies of inspection manuals of nuclear power plant operators.

Fukushima to test milk from 10,000 mothers -Japan Times, Jan 13

  • The breast milk of about 10,000 mothers residing in Fukushima Prefecture, home to the crippled Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant, will be tested for radioactive contamination, prefectural officials said Thursday.
  • Details of the test, which is available to any mother, have yet to worked out, including how and when it will be given. The cost, likely about 50,000 per person, is expected to be covered by a fund earmarked for managing Fukushima residents’ health amid the ongoing nuclear crisis.

For Japan Locust Eaters, A Plague of Cesium? -Wall Street Times, Jan 13

  • While buggy eats like silkworms and larva are gastronomic favorites for those who eat insects in other parts of the country, locusts are a bounty for the insect eaters of rice-producing regions like Nagano, Chiba and the towns of the northeast hit hardest by the March 11 disasters.
  • But Hajime Fugo, the vice president of Tokyo University of Agriculture of Technology and a physiologist specializing in insects, worried the locust-eating tradition may fall into extinction should connoisseurs shun the bug amid deepening anxiety among consumers over food produced in Fukushima, fearful of radiation hazards.
  • With a Geiger counter in his pocket, Mr. Fugo, along with two students, in October went to Iitate, a village located over 30 kilometers away from the nuclear plant and where hot spots of high radiation have been discovered. There they collected about 500 grasshoppers, a cousin of the locust which was in short supply in the area because local rice fields were barren. The radiation in the air varied from 2.5 microsieverts to a little over 3 microsieverts per hour at the time.
  • About 4,000 becquerels of radioactive cesium-134 and cesium-137 was detected in the grasshoppers, all 500 weighing a cumulative one kilogram. The levels far exceed Japans regulatory limit of 500 becquerels per kilogram.
  • Mr. Fugo said the results were astonishing. But the scientist thinks it is safe to eat the bugs because they are usually in snack-sized portions crunchy soy-marinated locusts enjoyed with cold mugs of beer. Additional research also showed that the amount of cesium dropped considerably after going through the routine steps taken when preparing the insects for consumption.

300 tons of tainted water found near No. 3 unit at Fukushima plant -Mainichi News, Jan 13

  • Around 300 tons of water contaminated with relatively high amounts of radioactive substances has been found in an underground tunnel near the No. 3 unit at the crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, the plant’s operator said Thursday.
  • Tokyo Electric Power Co. said the water in the tunnel, used to lay electric cables, contained 49 to 69 becquerels of radioactive cesium per cubic centimeter, adding that it will check how the contaminated water accumulated in the area.

TEPCO looks to become nationalized to gain taxpayer funds as expenses balloon -Mainichi News, Jan 13

  • The troubled Tokyo Electric Power Co. (TEPCO), the operator of the disaster-crippled Fukushima No. 1 Nuclear Power Plant, has begun looking into the possibility of being nationalized through an injection of taxpayer funds to cover snowballing expenses in the aftermath of the nuclear disaster.

3 nabbed over fake contract for nuclear repair work in Fukui -Mainichi News, Jan 13

  • Police have arrested three people for allegedly dispatching a worker to the Oi Nuclear Power Plant in Fukui Prefecture under a falsified contract, sparking a police probe into the yakuza’s possible involvement in nuclear-related jobs, investigative sources say.

Thousands protest against nuclear power in Japan -AFP, Jan 14

  • About 2,000 demonstrators hit the streets of Yokohama on Saturday calling for an end to nuclear energy in Japan after the March 11 disaster that sparked the worst atomic crisis since Chernobyl.
  • They marched in the port city southwest of Tokyo chanting in chorus: “We don’t need nuclear power. Give back our hometown. Protect our children.”
  • The protest, organised by several anti-nuclear and environmental groups, also saw residents evacuated from areas outside the Fukushima Daiichi plant take part.

Panel Challenges Japans Account of Nuclear Disaster -NYT, Jan 15

  • A powerful and independent panel of specialists appointed by Japans Parliament is challenging the governments account of the accident at a Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, and will start its own investigation into the disaster including an inquiry into how much the March earthquake may have damaged the plants reactors even before the tsunami.
  • The bipartisan panel with powers of subpoena is part of Japans efforts to investigate the nuclear calamity, which has displaced more than 100,000 people, rendered wide swaths of land unusable for decades and spurred public criticism that the government has been more interested in protecting vested industry interests than in discovering how three reactors were allowed to melt down and release huge amounts of radiation.
  • Several investigations including inquiries by the plant operator, Tokyo Electric Power, and the government have blamed the scale of the tsunami that struck Japans northeastern coast in March, knocking out vital cooling systems at the plant.

Disaster left cities in limbo: mayors -Japan Times, Jan 16

  • Speaking at the Global Conference for a Nuclear Free World symposium, Katsutaka Idogawa, mayor of Futaba, one of two towns hosting the doomed plant, said residents were forced to embark on a long journey the day the reactor cores melted and tainted multiple prefectures with radioactive fallout. “It’s a journey we don’t know will end or whether we’ll be able to go back home,” said Idogawa, adding residents were forced to abandon their lives and leave. “I couldn’t imagine this kind of thing would occur in such a contemporary society, but it did.”
  • Katsunobu Sakurai, mayor of Minamisoma, Fukushima Prefecture, a city of 70,000 in the hot zone, said some 27,000 residents still plan to leave. Minamisoma merged with three smaller cities six years ago and was making progress on policies to improve the new city. But the disaster divided it yet again, Sakurai said. “It’s hard for many to imagine what it’s like to go through an experience where a nuclear power plant accident suddenly changes your life 180 degrees,” he said.

Japan’s first reactor stress tests reach key stage -Reuters, Jan 16

  • Japan’s panel of experts is due to review the nuclear watchdog’s first report on reactor stress tests on Wednesday in an important step in efforts to rebuild public trust shattered by the Fukushima crisis and restart idled reactors.
  • The government ordered the stress tests – computer simulations of how reactors would withstand severe shocks such as the magnitude 9.0 earthquake and tsunami that ravaged Japan’s northeast on March 11 – to overcome public opposition to restarting of reactors taken offline for regular checks.
  • But even after reactors win a clean bill of health from safety watchdogs and the government – a process Industry Minister Yukio Edano has said could take several months – the utilities will still need to win over skeptical local communities, which have demanded more assurances about nuclear power plants’ safety.

Radioactive Concrete Is Latest Scare for Fukushima Survivors -ABC News, Jan 16

  • The Japanese government is investigating how radioactive concrete ended up in a new apartment complex in the Fukushima Prefecture, housing evacuees from a town near the crippled nuclear plant.
  • The contamination was first discovered when dosimeter readings of children in the city of Nihonmatsu, roughly 40 miles from the reactors at Fuksuhima Dai-ichi, revealed a high school student had been exposed to 1.62 millisieverts in a span of three months, well above the annual 1 millisievert limit the government has established for safety reasons. Further investigation traced the radiation back to the students three-story apartment building, where officials detected radioactive cesium inside the concrete.
  • Radiation levels at the 6-month-old apartment were higher inside the building than outside. A dozen families live in the new apartment complex.

11 hot-zone holdouts refuse to leave Fukushima homes -Japan Times, Jan 17

  • Eleven people are still ignoring radiation hazards in the 20-km exclusion zone around the crippled Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant and refuse to budge.
  • The 11 six males and five females ranging in age from their 50s to their 90s comprise six households in the municipalities of Tamura, Tomioka, Naraha and Kawauchi, all in Fukushima Prefecture, the local governments said Sunday.
  • As of April 22, the government had banned 78,000 residents from staying in the 20-km hot zone, which fully or partially encroaches on nine municipalities, including the four with the holdouts. The remaining five Minamisoma, Futaba, Okuma, Namie and Katsurao are completely deserted.
  • The 11 people said they have decided to stay behind because they are reluctant to abandon their homes, need to care for acquaintances in poor health and also want to care for their pets. The four municipalities said they have tried to persuade them to evacuate but decided not to force out anyone who wants to stay.
  • Those who violate the evacuation order face a 100,000 fine or detention, but those penalties have not yet been applied to anyone in the no-go zone. “We believe (their staying) is not malicious,” a senior Fukushima Prefectural Police official said.

Fukushima ghost towns -Reuters Slideshow, Jan 17

Tepco Cut Backup Power at Fukushima Before Crisis, Sankei Says -Jan 18

  • Tokyo Electric Power Co. (9501) disconnected an emergency power source at its Fukushima nuclear plant four months before the earthquake and tsunami in March last year wrecked the station, the Sankei newspaper said.
  • The supply was cut during maintenance work in November 2010 and wasnt reconnected, the paper reported, without citing the source of its information.
  • The backup would have provided power for transmitting temperature and radiation data from monitors near the Fukushima Dai-Ichi plants reactors and helped assess the severity of the situation once the main electricity supply was knocked out, the Sankei said.

Electricity goes out at nuke plants -Japan Times, Jan 19

  • Power transmission problems temporarily halted cooling systems for spent nuclear fuel facilities at both the Fukushima No. 1 and No. 2 nuclear plants Tuesday afternoon, as well as nitrogen injections into the wrecked No. 1 plant’s crippled reactors, Tokyo Electric Power Co. said.
  • The power glitch also disrupted contaminated water treatment systems at the two plants, Tepco said.
  • The systems were halted after a power facility in Tamura, Fukushima Prefecture, experienced difficulties at around 4:10 p.m. Tuesday, reducing the supply of electricity to the two power stations.
  • But engineers were able to restart nitrogen injections into the containment vessels of the three destroyed reactors at the No. 1 plant necessary to prevent hydrogen explosions at around 5 p.m., and the systems for spent fuel cooling and water treatment at both plants resumed later in the day as power was gradually restored.

Nuke safety agency under fire for hasty approval of reactor reactivation -Mainichi Perspectives, Jan 19

  • The green light that the nuclear power regulator has given to the reactivation of two reactors before the government issues a final report on the ongoing Fukushima crisis has sparked criticism from citizens’ organizations as well as experts.
  • Questions remain as to how the government will win understanding from local governments that host nuclear plants regarding the reactivation of reactors suspended for regular inspections. The government and power suppliers that own nuclear plants need to overcome a mountain of problems before summer, when demand for electric power will surge.
  • The Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency (NISA) has approved the safety assessment that Kansai Electric Power Co. (KEPCO) conducted on the No. 3 and 4 reactors at its Oi Nuclear Power Plant, paving the way for the resumption of operations at these reactors.
  • During a hearing of the safety assessment, known as a “stress test,” citizens groups raised questions about, and bitterly criticized, the way NISA evaluated and approved KEPCO’s safety assessment.
  • “How can you assess the safety of the nuclear plant?” one asked.
  • “You should allow us to listen to discussions in the meeting room instead of setting up seats for the audience in a separate room,” another said.

Radioactive gravel finds way to school -Japan Times, Jan 19

  • Radiation-contaminated gravel shipped from a quarry in the evacuation zone around the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant found its way to an elementary school building as well as roads and pathways around houses, sources said Wednesday.
  • The gravel went into concrete that was used to make an elementary school in Nihonmatsu, Fukushima Prefecture, more resistant to earthquakes. The area where the gravel was used had a radiation reading of 0.1 to 0.2 microsieverts per hour.
  • “We are surprised at the news as we had never expected it. We’d like to make efforts to ensure children’s health by checking the radiation level on a regular basis,” the school’s principal said.
  • The gravel was also used for approach lanes to two houses as well as in asphalt for city streets in Kawamata, Fukushima Prefecture, the sources said.

Fears over radioactive gravel from Fukushima -Telegraph, Jan 19

  • The government of Fukushima Prefecture has announced plans to measure radiation levels at hundreds of sites that used stone from the quarry, including houses and roads, although there is also concern that at least 16 other quarries in the district may also have shipped contaminated materials.
  • Yukio Edano, the minister or trade and industry, has said that the government is stepping up its investigation into where the gravel was sold and what it was used to build.
  • Mitsuru Igari, the president of quarry firm Futaba Saiseki Kogyo Co., has publicly apologised for causing public concern and said he had been proud of his company’s work because it was helping to rebuild the devastated region.

Ibaraki firm develops portable dosimeter to help market ‘Fukushima rice burgers’ -Mainichi News, Jan 19

  • An IT company in Ibaraki Prefecture has developed a portable dosimeter capable of measuring up to around 100 becquerels of radiation in 1 kilogram of rice or other farm products within three minutes without damaging the farm produce, setting the stage for a local non-profit group to sell “Fukushima rice burgers.”

Cancer Risk To Young Children Near Fukushima Daiichi Underestimated -Fairewinds, Jan 19

  • Fairewinds analyzes cancer rates for young children near Fukushima using the National Academy of Science’s BEIR (Biological Effects of Ionizing Radiation) VII Report. Based on BEIR VII, Fairewinds determines that at least one in every 100 young girls will develop cancer for every year they are exposed to 20 millisieverts [millisievert (1 mSv = 0.001 Sv)] of radiation. The 20-millisievert/ year figure is what the Japanese government is currently calculating as the legal limit of radiological exposure to allow habitation of contaminated areas near the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant. In this video, Fairewinds introduces additional analysis by Ian Goddard showing that the BEIR VII report underestimates the true cancer rates to young children living near Fukushima Daiichi. Looking at the scientific data presented by Mr. Goddard, Fairewinds has determined that at least one out of every 20 young girls (5%) living in an area where the radiological exposure is 20 millisieverts for five years will develop cancer in their lifetime.

Radiation, rusty metal seen in tsunami-hit reactor -FOXNEWS, Jan 19

  • The first look inside one of Japan’s tsunami-hit nuclear reactors showed radiation, steam and rusty metal surfaces scarred by 10 months’ exposure to high temperatures and humidity.
  • The steam-blurred photos taken by remote control Thursday found none of the reactor’s melted fuel but confirmed stable reactor temperature and showed no major damage or ruptures caused by the earthquake last March, said Junichi Matsumoto, spokesman for the plant operator, Tokyo Electric Power Co.
  • Radiation appeared on the images as static, or electronic interference with the equipment being used. Some parts that were photographed inside the reactor’s containment vessel are not yet identifiable.
  • The photos also showed inner wall of the container heavily deteriorated after 10 months of exposure to high temperature and humidity, Matsumoto said.

Endoscope probe fails to confirm unit 2 water-level assumptions -Japan Times, Jan 20

  • Tepco said Thursday it has inserted an industrial endoscope into the primary containment vessel of reactor unit 2 at the Fukushima No. 1 plant, but images showed the level of coolant water was lower than the utility had estimated.
  • The endoscope took images of the vessel’s interior around 4 meters from the bottom, but failed to detect any coolant water. Tepco had projected that the water level would have risen to about 4.5 meters in the vessel, based on the difference in pressure between its main body and a lower component, known as the suppression chamber.
  • The utility released seven mostly blurry images to the media, which Matsumoto attributed to high levels of gamma radiation inside the vessel. He also said water dripping from the vessel’s roof impaired the photos.
  • The Olympus Corp. endoscope, which is 8.5 mm in diameter and 10 meters long, is equipped with a 360-degree camera. It was inserted through the side of the containment vessel from an opening about 7 meters from the bottom of the containment vessel.

Inside the Fukushima I Nuke Plant Reactor 2 Containment Vessel, 1/19/2012 -youtube, Jan 19

  • TEPCO conducted the endoscopy of the Containment Vessel of Reactor 2 to see the inside. TEPCO’s spokesman Matsumoto said in the press conference that the white specs in the video is from gamma rays. White streaks across the screen are water droplets.
  • The endoscope is made by Olympus. Drilling the hole on the Containment Vessel was done on January 17, requiring 40 workers in 10 teams. The endoscopy operation on January 19 took 34 workers, one hour, working right next to the Containment Vessel.

Scientists say they can find melted reactor fuel -Japan Times, Jan 20

  • One major mystery and a source of serious concern at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant is the exact location of the molten fuel from reactors 1, 2 and 3.
  • Hindered by the dangerously high radiation coming from the melted rods, Tokyo Electric Power Co. can’t determine where the fuel came to rest. Tepco does say, however, that computer simulations indicate the fuel should still be inside the reactors’ primary containment vessels.
  • One solution may be found with a Nagoya-based scientist group that is working on capturing images from inside nuclear plant reactors, much like X-ray photos, by using muon cosmic rays.
  • The scientists say this could help Tepco determine the location of the fuel and accelerate the effort to dismantle the crippled reactors.

TEPCO urged to compensate for tainted building material in Fukushima -Mainichi News, Jan 20

  • Industry minister Yukio Edano on Friday promised the mayor of a city where crushed stone believed to be contaminated due to the Fukushima nuclear crisis was used for some buildings that he will instruct Tokyo Electric Power Co. to pay compensation for related damage.
  • Edano made the remark during a meeting in Tokyo with Keiichi Miho, mayor of the city of Nihonmatsu in Fukushima Prefecture, after the mayor called on the central government to ensure the payment of compensation for related damage and set up a radiation yardstick for building materials.

Radiation of 40 microsieverts per hour detected at Namie quarry -Mainichi News, Jan 21

  • Up to 40 microsieverts of radiation per hour have been detected from gravel at a quarry in Fukushima Prefecture that shipped tainted gravel for construction work, government officials have said.
  • Officials of the national and Fukushima prefectural governments visited the quarry in the town of Namie near the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant – owned by Futaba Saiseki Kogyo – to measure radiation levels.
  • Between 11 and 40 microsieverts of radiation per hour were detected one meter above gravel held at eight storage sites in the open, while 16 to 21 microsieverts were detected in three locations covered by roofs.
  • Officials said they will release the results of detailed analysis of the data as early as next week.
  • About 5,200 metric tons of gravel has been shipped from the quarry and some of it was used in the construction of an apartment complex in Nihonmatsu, Fukushima Prefecture. Ten of 12 households in the complex are disaster evacuees.

Report: Japan kept secret about scary nuclear scenario -msnbc.com, Jan 21

  • The Japanese government kept secret for months a worst-case scenario report predicting a massive release of radioactive materials for a year at the earthquake-crippled Fukushima Daiichi power plant, goverment sources told the Kyodo news agency.
  • The report, shown first to just a small group of policy makers in late March, said a hydrogen explosion would tear through the No. 1 reactor’s containment vessel and force all workers to flee lethal radiation levels. It said residents within 105 miles of the plant would be forced to evacuate. A voluntary evacuation zone would have included Tokyo, about 140 miles away.
  • There would be no time to carry out needed evacuations, sources said, and officials did not want to spur anxiety, according to the Kyodo article published by the Japan Times.
  • “The content was so shocking that we decided to treat it as if it didn’t exist,” a senior government official said.

Japanese Struggle to Protect Their Food Supply -NYT, Jan 21

  • In the fall, as this valleys rice paddies ripened into a carpet of gold, inspectors came to check for radioactive contamination.
  • Onami sits just 35 miles northwest of the wrecked Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant, which spewed radioactive cesium over much of this rural region last March. However, the government inspectors declared Onamis rice safe for consumption after testing just two of its 154 rice farms.
  • Then, a few days later, a skeptical farmer in Onami, who wanted to be sure his rice was safe for a visiting grandson, had his crop tested, only to find it contained levels of cesium that exceeded the governments safety limit. In the weeks that followed, more than a dozen other farmers also found unsafe levels of cesium. An ensuing panic forced the Japanese government to intervene, with promises to test more than 25,000 rice farms in eastern Fukushima Prefecture, where the plant is located.
  • The repeated failures have done more than raise concerns that some Japanese may have been exposed to unsafe levels of radiation in their food, as regrettable as that is. They have also had a corrosive effect on public confidence in the food-monitoring efforts, with a growing segment of the public and even many experts coming to believe that officials have understated or even covered up the true extent of the public health risk in order to limit both the economic damage and the size of potential compensation payments.

TEPCO blamed for Fukushima farmer’s death -youtube, Jan 21

State takeover of Tepco could last at least 10 years -Japan Times, Jan 22

  • Tokyo Electric Power Co. would be effectively nationalized for at least 10 years and be expected to return to the black in fiscal 2013 under a plan being considered by the government-backed entity for funding nuclear disaster compensation, sources said.
  • The plan will likely be included in a special comprehensive business plan for Tepco to be compiled in March by the utility and the Nuclear Damage Liability Facilitation Fund, the sources said.
  • Tepco would remain a listed company, they added.
  • The business plan is intended to prevent the utility from becoming insolvent due to the massive costs stemming from the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant disaster, while making sure that compensation payments related to the accident are made in a timely fashion.
  • The injection of public funds that would effectively nationalize Tepco is expected to amount to about 1 trillion. The company will also try to improve its earnings by raising household electricity charges, possibly in the fall, as well as by reactivating its idled reactors in Niigata Prefecture starting in spring 2013.

Off-clock radiation exposure ignored -Japan Times, Jan 23

  • The health ministry is not calculating how much radiation workers at the Fukushima No. 1 power plant absorbed after they evacuated or while off the clock, casting doubt on the adequacy of the current radiation control regime.
  • The Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry also does not intend to assess radiation exposure for workers engaged in decontamination efforts around the badly damaged plant in Fukushima Prefecture, government officials and supporters of the workers said Saturday.
  • The ministry currently keeps track of radiation doses when nuclear workers are actually at work. The maximum doses for the workers and those involved in decontamination efforts are 100 millisieverts over five years and 50 millisieverts a year.
  • The officials said the ministry takes the position that in controlling radiation dosage, it makes a distinction between work and personal life because the measures taken to mitigate exposure differ between them.
  • “No matter where they are exposed to radiation, it’s the same thing for an individual,” said Katsuyasu Iida, who works on securing the health of nuclear plant workers as head of the secretariat for the Tokyo Occupational Safety and Health Center.

Gov’t withheld estimates showing electricity surplus to boost nuclear power: critics -Mainichi News, Jan 23

  • The government withheld an estimate that there would be no electricity shortages in the upcoming summer in an apparent bid to underscore the need to restart nuclear power plants, it has been learned.
  • Instead of announcing the realistic estimate, the government announced last summer that electric power supply in the summer of 2012 “will be about 10 percent short across the country.” Furthermore, the released government estimate greatly downplayed the supply of renewable energy, disregarding the country’s actual energy status.
  • “The released government estimate stresses the need to resume operations of nuclear power plants by underestimating the actual supply capacity,” a concerned source has told the Mainichi.
  • The recalculation found that the country would have a surplus power supply of up to 6 percent even without a government order for power restrictions if renewable energy supply and other elements were factored in. The recalculated data was compiled in August last year and was reported to Prime Minister Kan, but it was never released to the public.

Tainted stone tied to 60 buildings so far -Japan Times, Jan 24

  • Crushed radiation-tainted stone quarried near the crippled Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant was used to build 60 houses and condominium buildings in Fukushima Prefecture.
  • The number could climb to over 100 if more studies on the crushed stone, which was shipped from a quarry in Namie, are conducted, government sources said Sunday.

Japanese sell more solar power back to utilities -Reuters, Jan 25

  • Japanese small solar panel owners – householders and small businesses – sold 50 percent more power to utilities last year than in 2010, Reuters calculations based on an official data showed on Wednesday.
  • Japan is overhauling its energy policy after the Fukushima crisis shattered public confidence in the safety of atomic power, and is set to introduce a new subsidy scheme which covers a wider range of renewable energy power developers to support the budding market for domestically produced power.
  • Owners sold a total 2,150 gigawatt hours to power utilities last year, helped by the government scheme.
  • The data showed Japan’s 10 regional power companies spent a total 96 billion yen ($1.2 billion) for surplus solar power from house owners and small businesses last year via a feed-in tariff scheme, which requires them to buy such power.

Japan’s stricken nuclear operator set for $13 billion bailout -Reuters, Jan 26

  • -Japan is set to launch a $13 billion bail-out of the owner of its stricken Fukushima nuclear power plant after the utility dropped resistance to a public fund injection, sources said on Thursday, as the country debates the future of nuclear power.
  • -The injection of 1 trillion yen ($12.8 billion) in public funds into Tokyo Electric Power Co (9501.T) would effectively nationalize the firm, supplier of power to almost 45 million people, in one of the world’s biggest bailouts outside the banking sector.
  • http://www.reuters.com/article/2012/01/26/us-tepco-idUSTRE80P04B20120126

Japan’s ‘Nuclear Alley’ conflicted over reactors -AP, Jan 26

  • International inspectors are visiting a rugged Japanese bay region so thick with reactors it is dubbed “Nuclear Alley,” where residents remain deeply conflicted as Japan moves to restart plants idled after the Fukushima disaster.
  • The local economy depends heavily on the industry, and the national government hopes that “stress tests” at idled plants the first of which is being reviewed this week by the International Atomic Energy Agency will show they are safe enough to switch back on.
  • But last year’s tsunami crisis in northeastern Japan with meltdowns at three of the Fukushima reactors has fanned opposition to the plants here in western Fukui prefecture, a mountainous region surrounding Wakasa Bay that also relies on fishing and tourism and where the governor has come out strongly against nuclear power.
  • Some experts are critical of the stress tests, saying they are meaningless because they have no clear criteria, and view the IAEA as biased toward the nuclear industry.
  • “I don’t view their evaluation as something that is trustworthy or carries any weight,” said Hiromitsu Ino, professor emeritus at the University of Tokyo and member of the Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency’s stress test panel.

Japan Post-Fukushima Reactor Checks Insufficient,’ Advisers Say -Bloomberg, Jan 27

  • Japan’s safety review of nuclear reactors after the Fukushima disaster is based on faulty criteria and many people involved have conflicts of interest, two government advisers on the checks said.
  • The whole process being undertaken is exactly the same as that used previous to the Fukushima Dai-Ichi accident, even though the accident showed all these guidelines and categories to be insufficient, Hiromitsu Ino, Professor Emeritus at the University of Tokyo, said at a briefing in Tokyo today.
  • The checks began after the March 11 earthquake and tsunami caused meltdowns at Tokyo Electric Power Co.’s Dai-Ichi station and all but three of the country’s nuclear reactors are offline. The government is ignoring criticism of the process as it tries to convince a skeptical public the industry is safe and get reactors back on-line, Ino said.
  • Reports on stress tests on 14 reactors have been submitted to Japan’s Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency. None of the tests covers a scenario involving multiple natural disasters and they were carried out even though the causes of the Fukushima Dai-Ichi meltdowns and hydrogen explosions are still being investigated, said Masashi Goto, a former reactor designer who also serves on the committee.

Fukushima agricultural group proposes tougher restrictions on rice planting -Mainichi, Jan 27

  • Agricultural organization JA Fukushima Chuo-kai on Jan. 26 announced plans to toughen restrictions on rice planting in radiation-contaminated areas this spring if decontamination work in the wake of the Fukushima nuclear crisis proves too difficult.
  • The organization said it planned to restrict spring rice planting in areas whose harvests last year had radiation levels exceeding 100 becquerels per kilogram, if decontamination work in those areas is judged to be too challenging.
  • The decision follows the repeated discovery of radiation exceeding the provisional limit of 500 becquerels per kilogram in rice harvested in Fukushima Prefecture following the outbreak of the disaster at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant.
  • “In order to protect farmland and the desire of farmers to do their work, and to gain the trust of consumers, we decided we had to accept restrictions on rice planting,” organization chairman Tokuichi Shojo told a news conference on Jan. 26.

IAEA to set up “Fukushima branch” at Tokyo’s request -globalpost, Jan 28

Fukushima municipal heads urge gov’t to submit clear, concrete reparation plans -Mainichi, Jan 28

  • The head of each municipality urged the government to speed up preparations for a post-realignment reparation policy and warned of the possibility that even if evacuated residents were able to return to their homes, lack of employment opportunities and farming restrictions may result in a need for further financial compensations.
  • “The government should provide reparations to residents until they return to conditions almost similar to where they were before the March 11 crisis. Everyone wants to return to their hometowns,” said Hirono Mayor Motohoshi Yamada, expressing a wish that compensation plans be extended for as long as residents need to fully restart their lives.
  • “I realized what should be prioritized. The panel will incorporate (the opinions heard today) in the plan’s guideline and further deliberations,” Yoshihisa Nomi, the head of the government panel, commented after the meeting.
  • “My future will be decided based on whether government reparations will allow me to restart my farming business at a different location or not. A trial (demanding compensation) can take years and unfortunately I don’t have many left,” he said, adding that he wishes the government will advance reparation plans as soon as possible.

Japan finds water leaks at stricken nuclear plant -Reuters, Jan 29

  • Japan’s stricken nuclear power plant has leaked more than 600 liters of water, forcing it to briefly suspend cooling operations at a spent-fuel pond at the weekend, but none is thought to have escaped into the ocean, the plant’s operator and domestic media said.
  • “The cooling water is from a filtrate tank for fire extinction and doesn’t contain radioactive materials,” Tepco said of the incident at reactor No. 4. It added that some water from the other leakage had flowed into a drain and “we are examining whether this water has flowed into the ocean or not.”

Evacuees of Fukushima village report split families, growing frustration -Mainichi News, Jan 30

  • A survey by the Iitate village government obtained responses from some 1,743 people who have evacuated from the village, which lies within the emergency evacuation preparation zone around the damaged Fukushima No. 1 Nuclear Power Plant. It shows that many residents are experiencing growing frustration and instability due to the nuclear crisis at the plant and an inability to return to the lives they were living before the disaster.
  • Sixty percent of respondents stated that their health and the health of their families had deteriorated after evacuating, while 39.9 percent reported feeling more irritated compared to before the disaster.
  • “Stress is causing disputes among many evacuated residents,” Iitate Mayor Norio Kanno told the Mainichi in a recent interview. “Depression and the collapse of families are increasing. There are conflicts between family members, people from different generations, and people who want to return and those who can’t go back,” Kanno said.
  • According to the survey, over 50 percent of all evacuated residents currently live apart from their families – a factor that authorities believe could be one of the major causes for the building frustration.

Health effects of Fukushima accident assessed in Vienna -UN Radio, Jan 30

  • Exposure to radiation and the health effects caused by the accident at the Fukushima plant in Japan in March last year are being assessed at a meeting that started in Vienna on Monday.
  • The weeklong meeting of the UN Scientific Committee on the Effects of Atomic Radiation (UNSCEAR) is being attended by 60 international experts.
  • Radioactive material that was released from the plant after it was damaged by a massive earthquake and tsunami in March 2011 contaminated air, water, plants and animals dozens of kilometres from the site.
  • A preliminary report will be presented in May this year and a final report to the General Assembly next year.

No big Fukushima health impact seen: U.N. body chairman -Reuters, Jan 31

  • The health impact of last year’s Fukushima nuclear disaster in Japan appears relatively small thanks partly to prompt evacuations, the chairman of a U.N. scientific body investigating the effects of radiation said on Tuesday.
  • The fact that some radioactive releases spread over the ocean instead of populated areas also contributed to limiting the consequences, said Wolfgang Weiss of the U.N. Scientific Committee on the effects of Atomic Radiation (UNSCEAR).
  • “As far as the doses we have seen from the screening of the population … they are very low,” Weiss told Reuters. This was partly “due to the rapid evacuation and this worked very well.”
  • “What we have seen in Chernobyl – people were dying from huge, high exposures, some of the workers were dying very soon – nothing along these lines has been reported so far (in Japan),” he said. “Up to now there were no acute immediate effects observed.”

Fukushima No. 1 pipes freeze, leak -Japan Times, Jan 31

  • Two more water leaks were found at the Fukushima No. 1 power plant Monday in addition to 14 found Sunday that prompted Tokyo Electric Power Co. to halt the cooling of reactor 4’s spent-fuel pool for two hours.
  • The leaks are believed to have been caused by freezing. The leaked water included radioactive water that had been purified, the utility said, adding that the contamination level is low.
  • The water temperature in the spent-fuel pool remained almost flat at 21 degrees, it said.
  • The Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency instructed the utility to investigate the leaks and take preventive steps.

Upgraded Quince robots ready for second foray -Japan Times, Jan 31

  • Equipped with cameras, thermometers and hygrometers, the pair of caterpillar-shaped robots, called Quince No. 2 and No. 3, are expected to be sent in by the end of February. The cost of developing the robots is estimated at 15 million to 20 million, said Eiji Koyanagi, the chief developer and vice director of the institute’s Future Robotics Technology Center.
  • At the request of Tokyo Electric Power Co., No. 2 was also outfitted with a dust sampler to collect radioactive dust or ultrafine particles to ensure that workers at the plant are not overexposed. No. 3 has a 3-D scanner.
  • The robots are the advanced version of Quince, the first Japanese robot to enter the plant in June. It was abandoned inside the No. 2 building after its cable snapped in October.

Kawauchi village in Fukushima calls on evacuees to return home -Mainichi News, Feb 1

  • The mayor of Kawauchi, a village in Fukushima Prefecture whose residents were forced to relocate following the nearby nuclear power plant crisis, called on some 2,600 evacuated villagers Tuesday to return home permanently.
  • “Let’s return starting with those who are ready,” Yuko Endo said at a press conference in Fukushima city, marking the first declaration among the nine town and village governments in the prefecture which evacuated their offices that it will return to its original location.
  • “There are matters of concern but there is no reason why we shouldn’t take the first step forward,” Endo added.
  • Chief Cabinet Secretary Osamu Fujimura said at a separate press conference that the declaration is an “important first step toward residents’ returning to their home village,” and added that the central government will “actively support” the Kawauchi village government’s effort.
  • Kawauchi had about 2,990 residents before Tokyo Electric Power Co.’s Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant was crippled by the earthquake and tsunami disaster of March 11, 2011.

IAEA says Fukushima office still under consideration, no decision yet -Mainichi News, Feb 1

  • The International Atomic Energy Agency said it is “giving careful consideration” to Japan’s request to open an office in Fukushima Prefecture but that it has not decided on any details, dismissing reports which it says have misquoted its chief Yukiya Amano.
  • “The IAEA will consult as necessary on this matter,” the U.N. nuclear watchdog said in a press statement Monday in response to recent media reports that IAEA Director General Amano has expressed the intention to establish an office in Fukushima.

Japan’s Ministry of Education Radiation Council: No Need to Have Stricter Standard for Radiation for Food for Infants -EX-SKF, Feb 2

  • The Radiation Council of the Ministry of Education and Science has been deliberating on the new safety standards for radioactive cesium in food set by the Ministry of Health and Labor. On February 2, the council compiled its report that said it would be OK to loosen the standards for food and milk for infants from 50 becquerels/kg to 100 becquerels/kg. In the next meeting, the council will submit its final report to the Ministry of Health and Labor.
  • The majority of the council expressed the view that “for all age groups including infants, the annual [internal] radiation exposure would be within 1 millisievert even if they continue to consume food with 100 becquerels/kg of radioactive cesium”, and all agreed that the health of children would be well protected. Some said the new standards would be too harsh for fishermen and farmers, and the standards might negatively affect the recovery of the disaster-affected areas. The council’s report also says “all stakeholders should participate in deciding the new standards”.

Fukushima farmers furious over lack of consideration in decontamination subsidies -Mainichi News, Feb 2

  • Under the guidelines, the national government can extend subsidies for decontamination, on condition that large machines equipped with special agricultural devices are used, that 30-45 centimeters of surface soil is replaced by subsoil, and that about 30 centimeters of surface soil is plowed. The ministry says airborne radiation dosages can be effectively reduced by doing so.
  • The Fukushima Municipal Government has worked out a specific plan to decontaminate all local farmland between this month and March next year in order to ensure the safety of agricultural products and prevent residents’ external exposure to radiation. Shipments of rice grown in some areas of the city have been prohibited because radioactive cesium in excess of the provisional limit set by the national government has been detected.
  • However, the municipal government has deemed it difficult to replace thick layers of surface soil with subsoil or to plow large portions of farmland according to the guidelines, because most local farmland is divided into small plots and large machinery cannot enter such land. For the time being, the municipal government has decided to plow a layer of surface soil about 12 centimeters deep, using agricultural machinery that local farmers possess.

Bird numbers plummet around stricken Fukushima plant -Independent, Feb 3

  • Researchers working around Japan’s disabled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant say bird populations there have begun to dwindle, in what may be a chilling harbinger of the impact of radioactive fallout on local life.
  • In the first major study of the impact of the world’s worst nuclear crisis in 25 years, the researchers, from Japan, the US and Denmark, said their analysis of 14 species of bird common to Fukushima and Chernobyl, the Ukrainian city which suffered a similar nuclear meltdown, showed the effect on abundance is worse in the Japanese disaster zone.
  • The study, published next week in the journal Environmental Pollution, suggests that its findings demonstrate “an immediate negative consequence of radiation for birds during the main breeding season [of] March [to] July”.

Plowing technique to fight spread of radiation demonstrated -Mainichi News, Feb 4

  • A plowing technique being considered to fight the spread of radiation was demonstrated here on Feb. 2, though some farmers on hand were disappointed.
  • In the demonstration, four large machines dug up earth from around 30 centimeters deep to replace potentially contaminated topsoil and reduce the amount of radiation crops absorb from it.
  • According to a prefectural official, radiation readings in the field were 0.3 to 0.42 microsieverts on Feb. 1, and 0.23 to 0.3 microsieverts after the plowing. “There was an effect,” the official said.

Fukushima I Nuke Plant Reactor 2: Temperature Has Been Rising at the Bottom of RPV -EX-SKF, Feb 5

  • So much for “cold shut down” and “end of the accident”. Maybe the reactor didn’t like the endoscopy done in January…
  • From FNN News (2/5/2012):

~Temperature of the Reactor Pressure Vessel of Reactor 2 at Fukushima I Nuclear Power Plant has been rising since February 2. TEPCO will increase the amount of water being injected into the reactor to see if that lowers the temperature.
~The temperature at the bottom of the Reactor Pressure Vessel of Reactor 2 was about 52 degrees Celsius on February 2, but it kept rising. As of 5AM on February 5, it was 67.4 degrees Celsius, 15 degrees increase.

TEPCO struggles to cool Fukushima plant’s No. 2 reactor – Asahi Shimbun, Feb 7

  • -Tokyo Electric Power Co. is taking steps to prevent a possible self-sustaining nuclear chain reaction at the crippled Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant.
  • -Readings from a thermometer at the bottom of the No. 2 reactor’s pressure vessel rose from 50.8 degrees at 5 a.m. on Feb. 1 to 73.3 degrees at 7 a.m. on Feb. 6.
  • -After the flow of cooling water was increased to 10.6 tons per hour on Feb. 6, up from 8.6 tons two days earlier, the temperature fell to 69.2 degrees at 5 p.m. on Feb. 6. That night, TEPCO injected boric acid into the reactor to prevent criticality, the point at which a nuclear fission reaction becomes self-sustaining. Boric acid absorbs neutrons, which induce nuclear fission.
  • -The Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency (NISA) instructed the company to consider injecting boric acid earlier in the day.
  • -The thermometer that has produced the high readings is located just under the feed water system. Its temperature readings rose when the water passing through the feed water system was reduced and water going through the core spray system was increased. Readings from two other thermometers at the same height in the reactor have been stable at 44-45 degrees.
  • -The temperature may have risen because water has not reached part of the fuel since the amount of water through the feed water system decreased and the flow of water changed, said an official at TEPCOs Nuclear Power and Plant Siting Division.
  • https://ajw.asahi.com/article/0311disaster/fukushima/AJ201202070027

Radioactive Okinawa Noodles and Pizzas from Radioactive Ashes from Radioactive Firewood from Fukushima -EX-SKF, Feb 7

  • Radiation’s reach is indeed long. Okinawa is as far away as you can get in Japan from Fukushima I Nuclear Power Plant, and there has hardly been any radioactive fallout. Maybe because of that, businesses in Okinawa don’t seem to be much concerned about radioactive contamination in goods.
  • Here’s an example of some Okinawa restaurants having bought firewood from (of all places) Fukushima Prefecture via a distributor in Gifu Prefecture who clearly thought it could get away with it; one of the restaurants made the traditional “Okinawa Soba (noodle)” using the ashes from the radioactive firewood, and has already served the noodles to the customers.
  • As usual, the familiar refrain from the government officials: “There is no effect on health.” They might as well add “Just keep on smiling.”

1.37 Million Bq/kg Radioactive Cesium in Earthworm Castings in Fukushima -EX-SKF, Feb 7

  • There was a piece of news about 20,000 becquerels/kg of radioactive cesium found in earthworms collected in Kawauchi-mura, Fukushima Prefecture (20 kilometers from Fukushima I Nuclear Power Plant) in Mainichi Shinbun (2/6/2012).
  • The article says the researchers at the Forestry and Forest Products Research Institute, a government institution, found radioactive cesium in earthworms collected at 3 locations in Fukushima. The amounts varied significantly (from 20,000 becquerels/kg to 290 becquerels/kg), and the researchers (or Mainichi Shinbun reporter) attributed to the varying air radiation levels in these 3 locations.
  • Ummm, earthworms live in the soil, not in the air, I thought. Still, 20,000 becquerels/kg was high, until I read Professor Bin Mori’s blog about his own experiment using earthworms.
  • Professor Mori found over 1.37 million becquerels/kg of radioactive cesium in excrement of earthworms he picked up in Watari District of Fukushima City, where radioactive cesium exceeding the national provisional safety standard (500 becquerels/kg) has been found in rice.

Gov’t to set up radiation yardstick for shipping Fukushima stones -Mainichi News, Feb 7

  • The Japanese government plans to set up a radiation yardstick for shipping stones given the detection of a relatively high level of radiation in gravel, used as building materials, from near the crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, industry minister Yukio Edano said Tuesday.
  • The government will set up a panel to create such a standard by the end of next month. The yardstick is expected to apply mainly to quarries in Fukushima Prefecture, but details will be discussed at the panel’s meetings.

Temperature at the Bottom of Reactor 2 RPV Slowly Going Down, For Now -EX-SKF, Feb 7

  • after pumping the largest amount of water since March 11, 2011, the temperature at the RPV bottom went from 72.2 degrees Celsius at 5AM on February 7 to 66.7 degrees at 5AM on February 8.
  • According to TEPCO’s handout for the press on February 7, 2012, TEPCO has been injecting the water at the rate of 13.5 cubic meters (or tonnes)/hour in the Reactor 2 Pressure Vessel:

~The amount of the core spray system injection water was increased from 3.7 m3/h to 6.7 m3/h at 4:24 am on February 7.
~The amount of the continuing feed water system injection is 6.8 m3/h.

New Containment Flaw Identified in the BWR Mark 1 -Fairewinds, Feb 9

  • Fairewinds shows that the nuclear industry’s plan to vent the containment at Fukushima Daiichi could not have prevented a containment failure and the ensuing explosions. Look at the graphics from the containment stress tests conducted more than 40 years ago at a US nuclear reactor identical to Fukushima Daiichi Unit 1. This video and its graphics provide important clues about why Fukushima Daiichi Unit 1 exploded.
  • Whether or not the nuclear reactor containment at Fukushima maintained it’s integrity is a critical question to the operating fleet of BWR reactors throughout the world.

TEPCO investigates Fukushima plant fuel pool -NHK, Feb 9

  • Tokyo Electric Power Company put a remote-controlled underwater camera inside the storage pool for Reactor Number 4 on Thursday to examine conditions inside. The firm says it will insert the camera several more times in March.
  • In one of the first steps in a 40-year plan for decommissioning the plant, Tokyo Electric plans to start removing the spent fuel from Reactor Number 4 by March 2014.
  • The reactor was off line at the time of the accident on March 11th and no active fuel was inside the reactor.
  • But the reactor had 1,535 spent fuel rods stored in a pool above the reactor – more than any of the 3 other reactors. The temperatures in the pool rose steeply in March, raising fears that a partial meltdown might have occurred.

Decontamination Work in 70 – 130 Microsieverts/Hr Location in Fukushima -WX-SKF, Feb 9

  • On February 9, the national government invited the press for the first time to the temporary storage site of the waste from the government’s decontamination model project. The storage site is located in Ottozawa District in Okuma-machi in Fukushima Prefecture, inside the 20-kilometer radius “no entry zone”.
  • Two locations on the town’s baseball ground, 3 kilometers from the plant, were shown to the press. The radiation levels in Ottozawa District on February 9 exceeded 70 microsieverts/hour in some locations. The radiation levels [in Ottozawa District] are the highest among the locations regularly monitored by the government.
  • The workers in protective clothing and face masks were piling up 1-tonne bags of contaminated soil and vegetation. One of the workers said, “The protective mask is suffocating, and my hands are freezing because of the rubber gloves. It’s a hard work.”

Govt asks Fukushima to restrict rice planting -Yomiuri, Feb 9

  • The government has asked local municipalities in Fukushima Prefecture to refrain from planting rice this year in districts where radioactive cesium exceeding the government’s new limit was found in last year’s harvests, according to government sources.
  • The restriction applies to districts in which rice harvests cultivated in 2011 were found to contain 100 becquerels per kilogram or more of radioactive cesium.
  • Some of last year’s harvests of unpolished rice in the prefecture were found to contain radioactive cesium exceeding the government’s previous interim limit of 500 becquerels per kilogram.
  • Results of research by the prefectural government showed that rice harvests containing radioactive cesium over the new limit of 100 becquerels per kilogram were found in 583 farming households in 65 districts in 12 municipalities.

1 Prefectural team makes 1st inspection of Fukushima No. 2 nuke plant -Mainichi News, Feb 9

  • A team of Fukushima prefectural officials visited the Fukushima No. 2 nuclear plant on Feb. 8, marking the first prefectural inspection of the plant since the March 11, 2011 disasters forced it to shut down.
  • “Right now, the most important tasks are to keep the reactors in cold shutdown and cool the spent fuel rods while preparing safety measures to deal with any unexpected problems,” said the deputy head of the prefecture’s living environment division following the inspection. “I felt that work there to maintain emergency power supplies and prevent flooding of the plant buildings was progressing.”
  • Fukushima Prefecture is calling for the shutdown of all nuclear stations in the prefecture, including Fukushima No. 2.
  • However, Fukushima No. 2 plant director Naohiro Masuda suggested it’s too soon to discount restarting the reactors there, saying, “Under present circumstances, it’s impossible to say how the reactors here will be dealt with in the future. For now, we have to maintain a steady cold shutdown by transitioning from the temporary cooling equipment we now have in place to proper, permanent equipment.”

2 Fukushima No. 2 plant was ‘near meltdown’ -Yomiuri, Feb 10

  • The No. 2 plant, on the border of Naraha and Tomioka towns in Fukushima Prefecture, was opened to the media Wednesday for the first time since the disaster. It is 12 kilometers from the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant, which suffered a meltdown. Both facilities are operated by Tokyo Electric Power Co.
  • Plant chief Naohiro Masuda, in charge of plant operations since the crisis, told reporters Wednesday, “The No. 2 plant almost suffered the same fate as No. 1 [which led to a severe crisis].”
  • On March 11, a 9-meter-high tsunami struck the No. 2 plant, while the No. 1 plant was hit by a 13-meter-high tsunami. The tsunami caused the No. 2 plant’s seawater pumps, used to cool reactors, to fail. Of the plant’s four reactors, three were in danger of meltdown.
  • Luckily, one external high-voltage power line still functioned, allowing plant staff in the central control room to monitor data on internal reactor temperatures and water levels.
  • On March 11, about 2,000 employees of the No. 2 plant worked to stabilize the reactors. Some employees connected 200-meter sections of cable, each weighing more than a ton, over a distance of nine kilometers.
  • Masuda noted the timing of the disaster was critical in saving the plant.
  • “We were lucky it happened on a Friday afternoon [and not on a weekend],” he said.

3 Berlin Film Festival: 3 documentaries on Japan nuclear disaster -LA Times, Feb 10

  • Less than a year after the massive earthquake and tsunami in Japan devastated whole towns and crippled the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant, causing a radioactive disaster, filmic portraits at the Berlin International Film Festival are presenting the human fallout. Three documentaries appearing at the Berlinale provide sort of post-nuclear ghost stories – landscapes and people haunted by the aftermath of the nuclear accident and residual radiation.
  • Atsushi Funahashis “Nuclear Nation,” which was to debut Friday night in a world premiere, documents life in exile for the residents of Futaba, a town that prospered and then all but perished, its rise and fall tightly woven together with the Fukushima nuclear plant. National subsidies and major tax breaks came to Futaba starting in the 1960s, compensation for the presence of the plant. Along with jobs for citizens, the plant brought money for a new community center, library and sports facilities.
  • Toshi Fujiwaras “No Mans Zone” screens Sunday, and aspires to more artiness, featuring a voice-over by Armenian Canadian actress Arsine Khanjian. Fujiwara hopes to show the beauty in the tainted landscape, while leveling a critique of the disaster and how it was handled. And “Friends After 3.11,” bowing internationally here on Monday, follows director Shunji Iwai as he struggles to make sense of the countrys new reality. Iwai wanted to learn everything he could about nuclear power, and traveled the country speaking to researchers, anti-nuclear protesters, energy specialists and 14-year-old Kokoro Fujinami, an activist, former child model and television personality who has emerged as a sort of “anti-nuclear idol.”
  • The documentaries are screening just days after a fresh reminder of the ongoing problems at the Fukushima Daiichi plant. On Feb. 8, workers battled rising temperatures in one of the plants reactors, raising new questions about the stability of the facility.

4 A Confused Nuclear Cleanup – NYT, Feb 10

  • As 500 workers in hazmat suits and respirator masks fanned out to decontaminate this village 20 miles from the ravaged Fukushima Daiichi nuclear reactors, their confusion was apparent.
  • Dig five centimeters or 10 centimeters deep here? a site supervisor asked his colleagues, pointing to a patch of radioactive topsoil to be removed. He then gestured across the village square toward the community center. Isnt that going to be demolished? Shall we decontaminate it or not?
  • A day laborer wiping down windows at an abandoned school nearby shrugged at the work crews haphazard approach. We are all amateurs, he said. Nobody really knows how to clean up radiation.
  • Nobody may really know how. But that has not deterred the Japanese government from starting to hand out an initial $13 billion in contracts meant to rehabilitate the more than 8,000-square-mile region most exposed to radioactive fallout an area nearly as big as New Jersey. The main goal is to enable the return of many of the 80,000 or more displaced people nearest the site of last Marchs nuclear disaster, including the 6,500 villagers of Iitate.
  • It is far from clear, though, that the unproved cleanup methods will be effective.

5 Japan priest fights invisible demon: radiation -Reuters, Feb 10

  • On the snowy fringes of Japan’s Fukushima city, now notorious as a byword for nuclear crisis, Zen monk Koyu Abe offers prayers for the souls of thousands left dead or missing after the earthquake and tsunami nearly one year ago.
  • But away from the ceremonial drums and the incense swirling around the Joenji temple altar, Abe has undertaken another task, no less harrowing – to search out radioactive “hot spots” and clean them up, storing irradiated earth on temple grounds.
  • Abe said he and the other monks are storing the soil on a hill behind the temple as neither the government nor the nuclear plant operator Tokyo Electric Power (TEPCO) are helping with the clean-up.
  • “No-one else would take the soil. If there’s nobody to take care of it, the decontamination can’t get going because there’s nowhere to get rid of it,” Abe said.

6 Red tape impeding reform of nuclear-reliant energy policy -Japan Times, Feb 11

  • The hulking system that once guided Japan’s pronuclear power stance worked just fine when everybody moved in lock step, but its size and complexity have proved ill-suited for resolving conflict at a time of nuclear crisis.
  • Nearly a year after the triple meltdowns at the Fukushima No. 1 power plant, decision-makers still can’t agree on how to safeguard reactors against future accidents, or even whether to operate them at all.
  • Some experts say this indecision reflects the Japanese tendency to search for and sometimes depend on consensus, even when there is no prospect of one emerging.
  • The system for making nuclear energy-related decisions requires the agreement of thousands of officials. Most bureaucrats and politicians in Tokyo want to recommit to atomic power, but they have been thwarted by a powerful minority of reformists and prefectural governors.

7 Thousands march against nuclear power in Japan amid worries set off by Fukushima disaster -Washington Post, Feb 11

8 Japan’s Fukushima reactor may be reheating: operator -TerraDaily, Feb 12

  • The temperature was above the 80-degree safety standard newly employed by Japan’s nuclear safety authority, prompting the utility to publicise the reading and notify public agencies.
  • But it remains below the 100 degree level that the government says is needed to maintain the safe state of “cold shutdown”.
  • The utility said it will check the accuracy of the thermometer in question, as two others on the same reactor have been measuring its temperature at around 35 degrees.
  • Gas samples from the reactor did not indicate any new critical reaction, and other monitors and data do not suggest heating and increased steam, TEPCO said.

9 Tepco Says Fukushima Reactor Temperature Breaches Safety Limit -Bloomberg, Feb 12

  • One of three thermometers indicated the temperature at the bottom of the No. 2 reactor pressure vessel rose to 93.7 degrees Celsius (200.7 Fahrenheit) today, higher than the 80 degrees limit, Ai Tanaka, a spokeswoman for the utility known as Tepco, said by phone today.
  • There are no signs of isotopes that would suggest the reactor has gone critical and theres been no increase in radiation around the site, the company said in a statement. The other two thermometers at the bottom of the vessel showed temperatures of 32.8 degrees and 33.1 degrees earlier today, spokesman Naohiro Omura said. The thermometers have a margin of error of as much as 20 degrees.
  • We think the thermometer may be faulty, Omura said. The other two gauges indicate temperatures are falling, he said.
  • Its also possible that unstable water flow into the unit may have kept the coolant from reaching parts of the melted fuel, he said.

10 Futaba mayor angered by TEPCO and gov’t disregard -Mainichi Features, Feb 13

  • Idogawa is known as the only mayor of all eight town and village mayors in Futaba county to openly oppose the construction of a storage facility within the county. The towns of Futaba and neighboring Okuma – where the Fukushima plant’s crippled No. 1 reactor is located – have recorded high levels of radiation, and are believed to be top contenders as storage facility sites.
  • “I’m not saying that we absolutely won’t allow it,” Idogawa says in the principal’s office of a former high school in Saitama Prefecture. Since evacuating from Futaba, Idogawa, clad in a work uniform, has made this office his base. “It’s just that there are certain things that need to be cleared up first. (Fukushima No. 1 plant operator) Tokyo Electric Power Co. (TEPCO), which assured us there wouldn’t be any accidents, has yet to make amends. And yet they say they want to build a facility. The order is all wrong.”
  • What especially angers Idogawa is that in response to TEPCO stockholders’ calls for a compensation lawsuit against TEPCO’s management, the company’s corporate auditor sent a notice dated Jan. 13 stating: “There was no lack of due diligence (on the part of TEPCO) that would warrant a liabilities claim.”
  • “To say that (TEPCO) board members are not responsible makes a complete mockery of us,” Idogawa fumes. “If they aren’t responsible, why should we have to accept all this radiation? Whose fault is it that we’re living as evacuees? Isn’t the act of exposing us to radiation a crime? Isn’t it?”

11 Tragedy in Fukushima: when can we go back to home again? -Reuters Photo Blog, Feb 13

  • After covering myself from head to toe in protective clothing in the hope of protecting me from radiation, I went to accompany evacuees who were temporarily allowed to visit their homes in the 20 km no-entry zone surrounding the tsunami-crippled Fukushima nuclear power plant, a place now notorious for its radiation leaks.
  • My destination was Okuma town where the whole population of about 11,000 had been evacuated since last years earthquake. The town is still afflicted with high levels of invisible radiation.
  • Most residents accepted the nuclear plant because they believed in TEPCO, the operator of the nuclear power plant, and the government had told them their safety standards were impeccable. Some of the residents were skeptical but they could not raise awareness of possible dangers posed by the nuclear plant because it provided employment to the locals and it also gave financial subsidies to their local towns which were used to build infrastructure such as good roads and schools in exchange for tolerating the power plant which supplied electricity to urban areas.

12 High level of radioactive cesium found in Okinawa noodles -Mainichi News, Feb 13

  • High levels of radioactive cesium have been detected in noodles produced in Okinawa, apparently because they were made with water filtered by ashes from Fukushima-produced wood.
  • The noodles, called “Okinawa soba,” had a level of radioactivity of 258 becquerels of cesium per kilogram. The restaurant that produced them had kneaded them with water filtered by the ashes of Fukushima Prefecture-produced wood.
  • The Forestry Agency on Feb. 10 notified prefectures across Japan not to use ashes made from wood or charcoal in cooking if the materials were lumbered or produced in Fukushima Prefecture, Tokyo and 15 other prefectures following the outbreak of the Fukushima nuclear disaster in March last year, even if the wood or charcoal bore levels of cesium lower than the government-set standard – 40 becquerels per kilogram for cooking wood and 280 becquerels per kilogram for charcoal.
  • According to the agency, the cesium contamination of Okinawan noodles surfaced on Feb. 7 in testing conducted by the Okinawa Prefectural Government. An ensuing survey found 468 becquerels of cesium in cooking wood that was distributed through the same route as the one for wood delivered to the restaurant.

Comments

  1. #1 John Callender
    February 20, 2012

    I just finished reading James Lovelock’s book, The Revenge of Gaia. I found it very compelling, if depressing (a similar reaction to the one I had when I read McKibbon’s Eaarth, actually). One of the things Lovelock spends a fair amount of time on is making the case that European Greens (and by extension, American environmentalists) are as guilty of irrational reasoning as climate change deniers, in that we have allowed an unreasoning fear of radiation and cancer to blind us to the obvious-to-Lovelock reality that nuclear fission is the only short-term replacement energy technology available if we are to make the crucial transition away from fossil fuels and maintain a livable climate.

    The book was written well before Fukushima, but based on what Lovelock writes, I assume he would make the case that the risks represented by things like Fukushima-style reactor failures are dwarfed by the sorts of risks represented by committing to any of the available non-nuclear options for transitioning away from fossil fuels, since only nuclear fission possesses the crucial combination of being 1) currently available, 2) non-greenhouse-gas emitting, and 3) able to scale to the level needed to replace fossil fuels.

  2. #2 Greg Laden
    February 20, 2012

    I think the comparative risk analysis is irrelevant.

    If I’m cleaning my gun, the actual risk of allowing the barrel to point towards various family members is much less than the risk they all have when the get in the car to go see a movie, as I stay home and continue cleaning my guns.

    Therefore, I should not bother with where the gun is pointed.

    This is an analogy to ignoring the basic problem with nuclear power, which is not radiation or meltdowns. It is the fact that the nuclear power industry is in the business of making safety work just to a certain point, then pushing through their designs and reactors with lies, political power plays, and trickery.

    It is simply not possible for a rational person to argue that Fukushima is not a horrible disaster with major consequences negatively affecting people’s lives and well being (and not a figment of a green imagination). Most, maybe all, of what went wrong at Fukushima was avoidable had the industry not acted in the way I describe above.

    All they had to do was not point the gun at the other family members.

    (The part about cleaning the guns while my family goes to a movie was made up.)

    The idea that non-nuclear options don’t provide a significant amount of energy, are not available, and don’t scale up is an utter fiction.

  3. #3 MadScientist
    February 21, 2012

    That’ll certainly be interesting if the muon camera idea works. Any modern electronics sent into the containment vessel would be screwed due to the small physical size of the circuit elements (tens of nanometers on the edge for some devices) and the huge cascade of electrons whenever you get an interaction with a gamma ray. I never had to think about what happens when the circuit is bombarded with neutrons though.

  4. #4 Otter
    February 21, 2012

    Nothing to say about gleick’s confession?

  5. #5 phillydoug
    February 21, 2012

    Greg: “The idea that non-nuclear options don’t provide a significant amount of energy, are not available, and don’t scale up is an utter fiction.”

    You don’t want to restrict discussions with nuke apologists to reality based arguments, there wouldn’t be any discussions:

    (from http://www.renewableenergyworld.com/rea/news/article/2011/07/eia-report-renewables-surpass-nuclear-output)

    “According to the most recent issue of the “Monthly Energy Review” by the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA), renewable energy has passed a milestone as domestic production is now greater than that of nuclear power and is closing in on oil.

    During the first quarter of 2011, renewable energy sources (biomass/biofuels, geothermal, solar, water, wind) provided 2.245 quadrillion Btus of energy or 11.73 percent of U.S. energy production. More significantly, energy production from renewable energy sources in 2011 was 5.65 percent more than that from nuclear power, which provided 2.125 quadrillion Btus and has remained largely unchanged in recent years. Energy from renewable sources is now 77.15 percent of that from domestic crude oil production, with the gap closing rapidly.

    Looking at all energy sectors (e.g., electricity, transportation, thermal), production of renewable energy, including hydropower, has increased by 15.07 percent compared to the first quarter of 2010, and by 25.07 percent when compared to the first quarter of 2009. Among the renewable energy sources, biomass/biofuels accounted for 48.06 percent, hydropower for 35.41 percent, wind for 12.87 percent, geothermal for 2.45 percent, and solar for 1.16 percent.”

    (from: http://epp.eurostat.ec.europa.eu/statistics_explained/index.php/Renewable_energy_statistics)

    “Among the Member States, the highest share of renewables in gross final energy consumption in 2009 was recorded in Sweden (47.3 %), while Latvia, Finland and Austria each reported more than a quarter of their final energy consumption derived from renewables. Compared with the most recent data available for 2009, the indicative targets for Denmark, France, Ireland and the United Kingdom require each of these Member States to increase their share of renewables in final energy consumption by at least 10 percentage points…

    The latest information available for 2009 (see Figure 2) shows that electricity generated from renewable energy sources contributed 18.2 % of the EU-27’s gross electricity consumption. In Austria (66.8 %) and Sweden (56.4 %) more than half of all the electricity consumed was generated from renewable energy sources, largely as a result of hydropower and biomass.

    The growth in electricity generated from renewable energy sources during the period 1999 to 2009 (see Figure 3) largely reflects an expansion in two renewable energy sources; namely, wind turbines and biomass. Although hydropower remained the single largest source for renewable electricity generation in the EU in 2009, the amount of electricity generated was somewhat lower than a decade earlier (-2.4 %). In contrast, the volume of electricity generated from biomass more than trebled, while that from wind turbines increased more than nine-fold.”

  6. #6 phillydoug
    February 21, 2012

    John Callendar: “only nuclear fission possesses the crucial combination of being 1) currently available, 2) non-greenhouse-gas emitting, and 3) able to scale to the level needed to replace fossil fuels.”

    ‘It’s clean, it’s safe and it’s economical’– the trifecta of delusions most often repeated about nukes (well, those on the industry payroll know these are falsehoods, which would mean the ‘clean, safe, economical’ mantra is simply lying, but whatever keeps the greenbacks flowing, that’s what I say).

    (from: http://earthtrack.net/files/uploaded_files/nuclear%20subsidies_report.pdf)

    “Our low-end estimate for subsidies to existing reactors (in this case, investor-owned facilities)is 0.7 ¢/kWh, a figure that may seem relatively small at only 13 percent of the value of the power produced. However, it represents more than 35 percent of the nuclear production costs (operation and maintenance costs plus fuel costs, without capital recovery) often cited by the industry’s main trade association as a core indicator of nuclear power’s competitiveness; it also represents nearly 80 percent of the production-cost advantage of nuclear relative to coal. With ongoing subsidies to POUs nearly double those to IOUs, the impact on competitive viability is proportionally higher for publicly owned plants…

    as Figure ES-1 (p. 2)shows, subsidies to the nuclear fuel cycle have often exceeded the value of the power produced. This means that buying power on the open market and giving it away for free would have been less costly than subsidizing the construction and operation of nuclear power plants.”

    (from: http://www.nature.com/climate/2008/0810/full/climate.2008.99.html)

    “According to Sovacool’s analysis, nuclear power, at 66 gCO2e/kWh emissions is well below scrubbed coal-fired plants, which emit 960 gCO2e/kWh, and natural gas-fired plants, at 443 gCO2e/kWh. However, nuclear emits twice as much carbon as solar photovoltaic, at 32 gCO2e/kWh, and six times as much as onshore wind farms, at 10 gCO2e/kWh. “A number in the 60s puts it well below natural gas, oil, coal and even clean-coal technologies. On the other hand, things like energy efficiency, and some of the cheaper renewables are a factor of six better. So for every dollar you spend on nuclear, you could have saved five or six times as much carbon with efficiency, or wind farms,” Sovacool says. Add to that the high costs and long lead times for building a nuclear plant about $3 billion for a 1,000 megawatt plant, with planning, licensing and construction times of about 10 years and nuclear power is even less appealing…

    Thomas Cochran, a nuclear physicist and senior scientist at the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), an environmental group in Washington DC, says that although nuclear power has relatively low carbon emissions, it should not be subsidized by governments in the name of combating global warming. He argues that the expense and risk of building nuclear plants makes them uneconomic without large government subsidies, and that similar investment in wind and solar photovoltaic power would pay off sooner. “There are appropriate roles for federal subsidies in energy technologies,” he says. “We subsidized heavily nuclear power when it was an emerging technology 30, 40, 50 years ago. Now it’s a mature technology.”

    Nevertheless, the Energy Policy Act of 2005 saw the US Congress offer billions of dollars in tax breaks and loan guarantees in an attempt to kickstart construction. Although a number of utilities are pursuing licences for a total of 30 new nuclear plants in the United States, none have been approved yet. Even assuming that new subsidies were to increase US nuclear power by 1.5 times the current capacity, the result would be only an additional 510 megawatts per year from now until the year 2021. Wind power, the NRDC estimates, provides more than 1,000 megawatts a year, and that figure is likely to increase.”

    ********
    Man, oh man, if only renewables could get the sweet deals nukes get, we’d have photovotaics on every roof, and get paid to do it:

    (from:http://www.earthtrack.net/files/uploaded_files/Nuclear%20Tax%20Subsidies%20in%20APA_June%202010.pdf)

    Even the low subsidy estimate for comparing K-L to current law shows a subsidy of 0.3 c/kWh over the 40 year service life of the reactor. This is three times the total payments the industry (albeit through a ratepayer surcharge) incurs to shift all long-term responsibility for high level nuclear wastes to the taxpayer. Higher estimates show benefits in excess of 1.5 c/kWh, enough to distort the economics between competing energy options.

    • Accelerated depreciation rules for nuclear reactors would become a key element of their competitive advantage in power markets. Comparing depreciation schedules under K-L to more realistic matching of depreciation with asset service life further illustrates how important rapid write-off of capital investments are to the industry. Even using the 40-year license life, K-L rules relative to a 40-year straight line depreciation schedule generate $1.2 to $3.1 billion in net present value subsidies per reactor. With higher capital cost assumptions, this translates to subsidies in excess of 3 c/kWh – more than half the expected market value of the electricity for 2010-24 under EIA’s reference case scenario (EIA, 2010)…

    On a net present value basis, the ITC is worth $860 million to $1.1 billion for an AP1000 reactor, and $1.3 to $1.5 billion for an Areva EPR…

    Assuming an AP1000 reactor is able to tap into the PTC for all of its kWh generated at an 84.5% capacity factor, the reactor would receive an annual subsidy of $60-104 million per year through the PTC. The comparable value for the Areva EPR would be $85-$144 million. This is equivalent to between 0.7 and 1.2 c/kWh on a levelized cost basis.”

  7. #7 Anchor
    February 22, 2012

    I’m no engineer, but if they can get a hardened robot in there, and if lenses can’t take the flux (transparency of glasses and plastics clouding rapidly, etc), why not mount a pinhole camera on it made out of lead which passes mostly light through the pinhole during an exposure provided by moving a simple lead shutter out of the way, and equipping it with a suitably fine-grained emulsion that can record passable-definition images from it? It would make a tiny and low-def image, to be sure, but it might at least indicate where the fuel is pooled. If it’s too hot for even the most hardened of robots, they could try affixing such a camera and a simple light source on the end of a long operable ‘snake’ which can be mechanically guided remotely by humans operating (sufficiently safely) from behind shielding. Just a thought…it seems what plumbers and surgeons do all the time could be scaled up to a device that could reach out 10 meters or more, especially if the end is supported on some wheeled arrangement. Wreckage or water flooded on the ground might present significant obstacles, but if they saw further into it with each trial, they could at least see what they had to deal with next to overcome them all the way to the fuel.

  8. #8 John Callender
    February 25, 2012

    Thanks for the responses. In case it wasn’t clear, I want to repeat that I wasn’t asserting those things about the necessity of nuclear fission based on my own knowledge. I was just paraphrasing (from memory) Lovelock’s argument. And yes, I found The Revenge of Gaia a compelling read overall, but I haven’t tried to scrutinize Lovelock’s claims about the necessity of nuclear fission in detail.

    It looks like there’s a concise (and to the extent I can verify from memory, accurate) summary of Lovelock’s nuclear power argument from the book on an (ideologically icky) blog here: James Lovelock’s Book Trashes Renewables, Endorses Nuclear Energy, if anyone is interested in some additional detail on what he says in the book.

  9. #9 Greg Laden
    February 25, 2012

    Anchor, they have done things like what you are suggesting in various parts of the plant but they haven’t been able to get eyes down deep into the plant structure. This would probably have to be done past a maze of rubble and underwater.

    I think operators have to remain hundreds of feet away from the outside of the building, so snaking is not really an option. Anything has to be full-on remote control.