Blog Archive

Thursday, 30 October 2014

Fuel removal from Fukushima reactor to be delayed


video
The Japanese government and Tokyo Electric Power Company are to revise the timetable for decommissioning the No.1 reactor at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant.

The current timetable calls for the process of removing spent fuel assemblies from the storage pool to begin in fiscal 2017, and removing melted fuel to begin 3 years later.

Government and TEPCO officials are now planning to delay the start of removing spent fuel units until fiscal 2019, or by 2 years, and the start of removing melted fuel till 2025, or by 5 years.

Radioactive rubble which has accumulated inside the No.1 reactor building is hampering fuel removal efforts.

Workers began dismantling the cover of the building this month to remove the debris.

But full-fledged work to dismantle the cover will not take place until March of next year, already resulting in a delay of more than 6 months.

To remove the spent fuel and melted fuel, separate facilities, such as cranes, must be set up on top of the reactor building. This would take more time.

The current timetable says complete decommissioning of the Fukushima Daiichi plant with 4 damaged reactors will take 30 to 40 years.
 
Source: NHK
http://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/english/news/20141030_05.html

Town submits petition opposing waste facility

Oct. 29, 2014
Residents of Shioya Town, Tochigi Prefecture, have petitioned the Environment Ministry to drop a site in their town from consideration to host a facility for storing radioactive waste.

The site in Shioya, north of Tokyo, is one of five the government wants to build permanent storage facilities on for designated waste. The waste is material from the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear accident that has radiation levels exceeding 8,000 becquerels per kilogram.

The mayor of Shioya and the leader of a group of residents handed their petition to State Minister of the Environment Yasuhiro Ozato at the ministry in Tokyo on Wednesday.

Shioya has a population of about 12,000. But the petition was signed by about 173,000 people from across Japan.

Residents and their supporters claim a permanent storage facility would threaten the town's water supply and accelerate population decline.

State Minister Ozato said he takes the residents' and signatories' concerns seriously. He stressed the importance of smooth communication and exchange of views over those concerns.

The representative of the residents' group said that he expects the State Minister to understand that the signatures show how strongly people feel about the government's plan.

The Environment Ministry plans to hold a meeting of the prefecture's mayors on November 9th to win support for the permanent storage facility.

Shioya is expected to reiterate their opposition to the plan.
Source: NHK
http://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/english/news/20141029_33.html

Green tea from Japan to be tested for radiation

2014/10/29
Taipei, Oct. 29 (CNA) Sweets, cookies and teas and tea products imported from Japan into Taiwan will be subject to tests for radioactive substances beginning next year, the acting Food and Drug Administration (FDA) director-general said Wednesday.

Chiang Yu-mei said that under the proposed measure, importers of the Japan-made items will not be able to apply for the necessary imported food inspections unless the products come with radiation examination certificates from the Japanese government.

The new measure is expected to take effect next year, Chiang said in response to a post by Democratic Progressive Party Legislator Lin Shu-fen on her Facebook page that criticized the government for not checking Japanese green tea products for radioactive substances.

In the post dated Oct. 29, Lin questioned the surge in green tea drinks imported from Japan into Taiwan over the past three years even though green tea leaves in Japan had tested positive for radioactive substances since the Fukushima nuclear disaster in 2011.

"Do you know that since the Fukushima disaster, imports of Japanese green tea have increased dramatically? Do you know that Japanese green tea has often tested positive for radiation?" Lin asked in her post.

In defending Taiwan's practices on Japanese food imports, the FDA has repeadly stressed that Taiwan suspended imports of food items from five Japanese prefectures near the Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant days after the facility suffered a meltdown in March 2011.

The temporary ban, imposed on foods from Fukushima, Ibaraki, Tochigi, Gunma and Chiba prefectures, remains in effect today, the agency said.

In addition, batch-by-batch inspections for radioactive substances have been enforced on eight major types of foods produced in other parts of Japan since then, the FDA said

The tests cover fresh and chilled vegetables and fruits, frozen vegetables and fruits, live and chilled fishery products, frozen fishery products, dairy products, products for infants, mineral water or other types of drinking water, and seaweed, it said.

(By Chen Ching-fang and Elizabeth Hsu)
Source: Focus Taiwan
 http://focustaiwan.tw/news/aeco/201410290021.aspx

TEPCO covered up the truth about Fukushima disaster’



October 28, 2014
TEPCO has hidden the truth about the Fukushima nuclear disaster and now drip feeds information so the public can get ready for the next piece of bad news, James Corbett, editor, The Corbett report, told RT’s In the Now show.
Journalist Jun Hori has quit NHK, the Japanese state broadcaster saying that his network restricted what he could say about the Fukushima nuclear disaster, and moved more slowly than others to report how far the radiation was spreading.
RT: Has TEPCO (Tokyo Electric Power Company) gotten away with hiding information from the public?
James Corbett: TEPCO has lied obfuscated and covered up the truth about what they knew about, or know about what is going on at sites since day one. And of course this goes back to the very beginning of the disaster when they knew within 72 hours that three of the reactors at the Fukushima No.1 plant site were in full melt down. In fact that they did not reveal to the public for almost three months after that event took place. And from there it only continues. We have cover-ups about the amount of radiation that has been released. TEPCO had to revise its original estimate up 250%. We have had cover up of the fact that there was and continues to be 300 tons of radioactive water flooding through the site. That wasn’t really revealed to the public until the summer of 2013, two years after the event took place. Cover-up after cover-up continuously being revealed and only very much later after the fact. I think TEPCO certainly has gotten away with an awful lot. Their practice seems to be, I am not sure if this is a coordinated strategy, but it certainly seems to be that it reveals information in dribs and drabs over long periods of time so that the public has time to be acclimatized to the last piece of bad news before the next one hits them.



RT: How tight is TEPCO with the Japanese government?
JC: Technically TEPCO has now been nationalized with the Japanese government being the largest stakeholder. So there is a direct Japanese government stake in the company. That is obviously a situation which creates a type of direct relationship between the company and the government in which obviously the interest of the government and interest of the company are directly tied financially. It creates a very worrying situation and the government has attempted to reform the nuclear regulatory agency here in Japan and attempted to set up a separate division of TEPCO for taking care of decontamination of the sites specifically. But arm's length institutions or agencies like that are supposed to have oversight over this process aren’t really anything more than just a buffer between what is essentially the same thing now: the Japanese government/ TEPCO which are really wedded at the hip.
RT: Are you suggesting that the revelations from this disaster and the implications have not really caused tougher control over the industry?
JC: They certainly haven’t it at this point. In fact, what we have seen is the shutdown of all of the other reactors in the country for maintenance and none of those reactors have been turned on as of now. What we are seeing right now is that the struggle that is taking place between protesters and the Japanese government over the restart of those reactors. What has taken place since Fukushima has been the renewal of guidelines regarding safety measures for some of these plants. But there is a lot of concern that these measures that are now being used as the guidelines for whether or not a plant is within the safe operating limits – [are] equally as flimsy as those regulations that allowed the Fukushima plant to operate in the incredibly precarious position that it was operating in. There is still a lot of concern over the nuclear regulatory agency here and the fact that a lot of the members have taken outright bribes of various sorts from the nuclear industry. It seems that the long standing ties between the nuclear industry and the Japanese government here in Japan hasn’t really been shaken and they continue to have ... influence over the Japanese government’s policy on nuclear energy.
Source: RT
 http://rt.com/op-edge/200107-fukushima-japan-tepco-nuclear-disaster/

Wednesday, 29 October 2014

Sendai nuclear power plant 

October 28, 2014
A town in southwest Japan became the first to approve the restart of a nuclear power station on Oct. 28, a step forward in Japan's fraught process of reviving an industry left idled by the Fukushima nuclear crisis in 2011.
Kagoshima Prefecture's Satsuma-sendai, a town of 100,000 that hosts the two-reactor Kyushu Electric Power Co. plant, is 1,000 km (600 miles) southwest of Tokyo and has long relied on the Sendai nuclear power plant for government subsidies and jobs.
Nineteen of the city's 26 assembly members voted in favor of restarting the plant while four members voted against and three abstained, a city assembly member told Reuters.
The restart of Japan's first reactors to receive clearance to restart under new rules imposed following the Fukushima disaster is unlikely until next year as Kyushu Electric still needs to pass operational safety checks.
All 48 of the country's nuclear reactors were gradually taken offline after the nuclear disaster, the world's worst since Chernobyl in 1986.
An earthquake and tsunami struck the Fukushima No. 1 plant, 220 km (130 miles) northeast of Tokyo, sparking triple nuclear meltdowns, forcing more than 160,000 residents to flee from nearby towns and contaminating water, food and air.
Japan has been forced to import expensive fossil fuels to replace atomic power, which previously supplied around 30 percent of the country's electricity.
Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's government is pushing to restart nuclear reactors, but has said he will defer to local authorities to approve a policy that is still unpopular with large swaths of the public.
The restart divided communities nearest to the plant, pitting the host township that gets direct benefits from siting reactors against other communities that do not reap the benefits but say they will be equally exposed to radioactive releases in the event of a disaster.
In Ichikikushikino, a town less than five km (three miles) from the Sendai plant, more than half the 30,000 residents signed a petition opposing the restart earlier this year.
In the lead-up to the local vote, officials held town halls in neighboring towns to explain the restart, where some residents complained that the public meetings were restrictive and did not address concerns about evacuation plans.
A fire broke out at Kyushu Electric's other nuclear plant on Oct. 28, according to Japanese media. The fire started in an auxiliary building of the idled nuclear station and was extinguished by plant workers, the agency said. There were no injuries and no release of radioactive materials, it said.


 Mount Ioyama

A local council has voted to re-open the Sendai Nuclear Power Plant on the outermost western coast of Japan, despite local opposition and meteorologists’ warnings, following tremors in a nearby volcano.
Nineteen out of 26 members of the city council of Satsumasendai approved the reopening that is scheduled to take place from early 2015. Like all of Japan’s 48 functional reactors, Sendai’s 890 MW generators were mothballed in the months following the 2011 earthquake and tsunami.
Satsumasendai, a town of 100,000 people, relies heavily on state subsidies and jobs, which are dependent on the continuing operation of the plant.
But other towns, located within sight of the plant, do not reap the same benefits, yet say they are being exposed to the same risks. A survey conducted by the local Minami-Nippon Shimbun newspaper earlier this year said that overall, 60 percent of those in the region were in favor of Sendai staying shut. In Ichikikushikino, a 30,000-strong community just 5 kilometers away, more than half of the population signed a petition opposing the restart. Fewer than half of the major businesses in the region reported that they backed a reopening, despite potential economic benefits.
Regional governor Yuichiro Ito has waved away the objections, insisting that only the city in which the plant is located is entitled to make the decision.
While most fears have centered around a lack of transparency and inadequate evacuation plans, Sendai is also located near the volcanically active Kirishima mountain range. Mount Ioyama, located just 65 kilometers away from the plant, has been experiencing tremors in recent weeks, prompting the Meteorological Agency to issue a warning. The government’s nuclear agency has dismissed volcanic risks over Sendai’s lifetime as “negligible,” however.
Satsumasendai’s Mayor Hideo Iwakiri welcomed the reopening, but said at the ensuing press conference that it would fall upon the government to ensure a repeat of the accident that damaged Fukushima, an outdated facility subject to loose oversight, is impossible.
September’s decision to initiate the return Japan’s nuclear capacity back online was taken by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, who endorses nuclear production in the country, but has delegated the controversial call on reopening to local councils. Sendai was chosen after becoming the first plant to officially fulfill the government’s new stricter safety rules. It may also have been picked due to its geographical remoteness, and distance from the 2011 disaster area.
The primary reason for Abe’s nuclear drive been the expense in replacing the lost energy that constituted 30 percent of the country’s consumption, which the government says cost Japan an extra $35 billion last year. Japanese consumers have seen their energy bills climb by 20 percent since the disaster as a result.
But another concern remains the state of the country’s aging nuclear plants, which will cost $12 billion to upgrade. Meanwhile plans to build modern nuclear reactors – which were supposed to be responsible for half of the country’s nuclear power by 2030, according to previous government energy plans – have predictably been shelved in the wake of the disaster.
Sources:
Asahi Shimbun  http://ajw.asahi.com/article/behind_news/social_affairs/AJ201410280087
RT http://rt.com/news/200175-sendai-fukushima-nuclear-volcano/

Heavy Wind Rips Off Part of Fukushima Protective Cover's Roof & Fukushima cesium levels fluctuating

video

The operator of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant says the cover of a building housing the No.1 reactor has been damaged.

Tokyo Electric Power Company says a strong gust of wind moved a machine at around 8:30 AM Tuesday, creating a triangular shaped hole about 1 meter wide and 2 meters long.

TEPCO has been using machinery suspended from a crane to spray chemicals into holes. This is to prevent the dispersal of radioactive dust when dismantling the cover.

The operator says no significant changes in radiation levels were seen at the compound, but work has been suspended.

Officials say the wind speed at the time was about 7 kilometers per hour, which is well below the 36-kilometer-per-hour standard required to suspend work. They say a sudden gust may have moved the machinery.

TEPCO has notified the central and local governments and is considering what steps to take. Officials say they don't know when work can resume, or whether this problem will affect Thursday's plan to remove part of the cover on a trial basis.

Tokyo Electric Power Company, or TEPCO, says the levels of radioactive cesium in the compound's groundwater at the damaged Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant fluctuated greatly last week.

TEPCO detected the highest concentration of cesium in samples of water taken from 2 monitoring wells near a reactor building on Wednesday.

One well had 428,000 becquerels of cesium per liter of water, while the other contained 458,000 becquerels.

But only 2 days later, the reading in the first well had dropped to 5,200 becquerels, or one-eightieth of the level detected on Wednesday. The concentration in the other well stood at 470 becquerels, or about one-one-thousandth of the previous quantity.

TEPCO says these wells are connected underground with other wells that are highly contaminated. So the operator believes cesium poured into them with this month's heavy rains and then flowed out with the underground water.

The utility says this problem cannot be fundamentally solved because the area around the wells thought to be the source of the contamination has extremely high radiation levels and cannot be decontaminated.

The 2 wells are among those from which tainted groundwater is pumped and discharged into the sea after being decontaminated.

But TEPCO has suspended the operation and is considering whether to resume the work.

Source: NHK
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9dqske0qFJo

Wednesday, 22 October 2014

Prosecutors set to rule on Fukushima indictments against TEPCO execs

Japan Today

[snip]

NATIONAL  ( 12 )


TOKYO —
Japanese prosecutors must decide this week whether to charge Tokyo Electric Power Co (TEPCO) executives for their handling of the 2011 Fukushima disaster, in a process that could drag the operator of the stricken nuclear plant into criminal court.
The judicial review is unlikely to see TEPCO executives go to jail, legal experts say, but rehashing details of the meltdowns and explosions that followed an earthquake and tsunami will cast a harsh light on the struggling utility and will not help Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s unpopular effort to restart Japan’s nuclear reactors.
The Tokyo’s District Prosecutors Office last year declined to charge more than 30 TEPCO and government officials after investigating a criminal complaint from residents, who said officials ignored the risks to the Fukushima Daiichi plant from natural disasters and failed to respond appropriately when crisis struck.
But a special citizens’ panel opened another legal front in July, asking prosecutors to consider charges of criminal negligence against three executives over their handling of the nuclear disaster.
Under the review system, the prosecutors must respond by Thursday.
If they again decline to take up the case, as some experts expect, the 11-member panel of unidentified citizens can order prosecutors to indict, if eight members vote in favor.
[end snip]
More:

Monday, 20 October 2014

City assembly approves Sendai plant restart

Whenever the nuclear lobby buys influence over the local elected officials the will of the local residents becomes completely ignored, resulting in a total corruption of democracy: " The panel rejected 10 petitions against the restart, and adopted one calling for the plant to return online."



Oct. 20, 2014
A special panel at a city assembly in southern Japan has approved a petition to allow a local nuclear power plant to resume operations.

The panel at the Satsuma Sendai city assembly in Kagoshima Prefecture discussed petitions both for and against the restart of the Sendai plant on Monday.

The plant is operated by Kyushu Electric Power Company. Last month it became the first to pass new regulations for nuclear plants introduced after the 2011 Fukushima accident.

Panel members in favor of the restart argued that the local economy has been sluggish since the plant went offline. But others opposing the restart said the screening by the government's Nuclear Regulation Authority does not guarantee the plant's safety.
The panel rejected 10 petitions against the restart, and adopted one calling for the plant to return online.

The city assembly is likely to approve the same petition because a majority of the assembly members are in favor of the restart.

The assembly may hold a session as early as October 28th to discuss the matter.

The plant operator says it hopes to win approval from Satsuma Sendai City and Kagoshima Prefecture.

The utility must also obtain approval from the Nuclear Regulation Authority. The plant will then undergo inspection of the newly installed equipment before going online.

The restart is likely to be early next year.
Source: NHK
 http://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/english/news/20141020_32.html

New Groundwater Radiation Spikes At Fukushima Daiichi

The series of groundwater monitoring wells near the sea front have seen continued changes consisting of high levels of various radioactive isotopes. Beta radiation in well 1-6 jumped to 5.1 million bq/liter on the 17th.

This well began to decrease by the next day. Wells 1-14 and 1-16 began to increase on the 18th. Well 1-14 saw an increase in cesium. Both wells saw an increase in beta radiation the second day. TEPCO claims they will continue to monitor these wells daily.

The ongoing behavior of these wells and any related increases in contamination inside the port or the sea near the plant could indicate an ongoing pathway for contaminated water to leak to the sea.
http://www.tepco.co.jp/nu/fukushima-np/f1/smp/2014/images/2tb-east_14101901-j.pdf

Source: Fukuleaks
 http://www.fukuleaks.org/web/?p=13939

ASAHI POLL: 27% of Fukushima voters want immediate end to nuclear power

A temporary housing complex in Iwaki, Fukushima Prefecture, 
for evacuees from the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant crisis


October 20, 2014
Twenty-seven percent of voters in Fukushima Prefecture, home to the crippled Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant, want Japan to immediately abolish nuclear energy, around double the national average, an Asahi Shimbun survey found.
About 55 percent of voters in the prefecture support a break away from nuclear power in the near future, according to the telephone survey conducted on Oct. 18-19.
The survey results showed anti-nuclear sentiment is higher in Fukushima Prefecture than in the rest of the country.
Thirteen percent of voters in Tokyo supported the immediate abolition of nuclear energy in a survey in February, while 15 percent expressed the same opinion in a nationwide survey in January.
In those earlier surveys, 61 percent of Tokyoites and 62 percent of respondents nationwide said Japan should break away from nuclear power in the near future.
The latest survey covered 1,701 voters in Fukushima Prefecture and received 1,091 valid responses.
Only 15 percent of Fukushima voters said Japan should continue relying on nuclear energy, compared with 22 percent in the survey in Tokyo and 19 percent nationwide.
The survey also revealed that 66 percent of Fukushima voters accept Governor Yuhei Sato’s decision to allow the construction of an interim facility to store radioactive waste from cleanup work in the prefecture.
Eighteen percent said they disagree with Sato’s decision.
In addition, 53 percent said they support the central government’s decision to end its policy of helping all evacuees from the nuclear disaster return to their homes and instead assist them in resettling elsewhere. Twenty-eight percent were against the decision.
Up to 56 percent of respondents said they highly evaluate the governor’s efforts to rebuild the prefecture from the damage caused by the 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake, tsunami and nuclear disaster, compared with 25 percent who said otherwise.
Forty percent of Fukushima voters said they support Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s Cabinet, matching the 40 percent who did not support the Cabinet.
Source: Asahi Fukushima
 http://ajw.asahi.com/article/behind_news/social_affairs/AJ201410200030