Oct. 30, 2014
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
Asahi Shimbun http://ajw.asahi.com/article/behind_news/social_affairs/AJ201410280087
Truly Frightening”: Doctors being threatened for linking illnesses to Fukushima — Strange tumors, kids dying, pets dying — Much higher incidences of whole range of health problems reported — Experts: 1,000,000 cancers, plus many other ailments possible (AUDIO & VIDEO) http://enenews.com/frightening-doctors-being-threatened-telling-patients-illnesses-related-fukushima-radiation-strange-tumors-kids-dying-pets-dying-higher-incidences-range-health-problems-being-reported-experts
Arnie Gundersen of Fairewinds Energy Education on Radio Ecoshock, released Oct 29, 2014:
- Alex Smith, host of RadioEcoshock (at 10:30 in): We’ve heard almost nothing about the impacts [of the Fukushima catastrophe] on people in that region. There are accounts coming out of there of strange tumors, kids dying, pets dying — what have you heard? Can we ever expect an honest accounting from Japanese authorities?
- Arnie Gundersen, nuclear engineer (emphasis added): That’s a pretty good summary, frankly. We continue to get information from people who live there about cancer rates — and illnesses in general, not just cancer. We think of radiation as a cancer causing thing, but it also causes many other ailments. Much higher incidences of a whole range of illnesses than they had in 2010, the year before the accident… We’re also working with doctors in Japan, and some brave doctors are saying that they’ve been threatened — that their hospital rights have been threatened — if you tell your patient this illness is radiation related you’ll lose your right to practice and things like that. So there’s enormous pressure on the medical community to tell the patients that what they’re experiencing is not at all related to radiation. The key is statistics, and the question is when will the statistics be released for mortality, morbidity, and general illnesses… We’re not seeing the data. The medical community now has to file every report that it writes with the IAEA, the International Atomic Energy Agency, before it’s issued. So if you’re a hospital, and you’ve got mortality data, you’re not allowed to issue that to the public until those reports have been cleared by the IAEA. Well, Article II of the IAEA charter is to promote nuclear power. So even if the hospital was conscientious — there’s a lot of political pressure not to be — but even if it was conscientious, there’s another step in the process, and they’ve got to clear an IAEA hurdle before those numbers are released.It’s truly frightening, the pressure the medical community is undergoing in Japan. Very few of them are willing to tell the truth.
Arnie Gundersen, nuclear engineer, Oct. 20, 2014 (at 15:00 in): There’s experts out there like me – independent experts – who are saying that as many as a million cancers may result.
Sneak peek of Oct. 29 broadcast here | Watch Oct. 20 presentation here
Musical points to sinister nuclear implications, Japan Times, BY TOMOHIRO OSAKI OCT 28, 2014 A recent court-themed musical staged in Tokyo was, to say the least, an audacious dig at the contentious state secrets law scheduled to take effect in December.
Set several years after the law’s passage last December, the musical, performed last week in Nakano Ward by the social theater troupe Musical Guild Q, offered what its adviser said was a “fairly realistic” sneak peek into how the first-ever trial of violators of this law would play out. At the same time, it was also an attempt to sound the alarm about what critics of the law say is an attempt by the powers that be to retreat into a more controlled society like the one that existed during the Pacific War.
“The chief purpose of the musical was to alert the audience to the likelihood that after the law takes effect, even information that is vital to their everyday life can be unjustly taken away from them,” said veteran lawyer and rights activist Yuichi Kaido, who served as a special adviser for the show.
On trial during the musical, which is titled “The Secret Garden,” is a group of nine ordinary citizens………
the audience is gradually clued in to what the musical’s writer calls the secrets law’s “inseparable” connection with nuclear power, and its ulterior motive to help achieve Japan’s transformation into a nuclear weapons-capable nation………
lawyer Kaido says he hopes that a worried citizenry will continue to protest and do everything possible to show the government they oppose the law even after it takes effect on Dec. 10.
“I don’t want people to succumb to the law’s pressure, but continue to fight for their rights to access information they have every right to know about,” he said. http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2014/10/28/national/musical-points-sinister-nuclear-implications/#.VFFjIiLF8nk
China’s Risky Nuclear Renaissance http://online.wsj.com/articles/heard-on-the-street-chinas-risky-nuclear-renaissance-1414508639 CGN Power’s Plan to Go Public Could Be Dicey By ABHEEK BHATTACHARYA Oct. 28, 2014
Nuclear energy: It’s risky stuff. Hence, there is often a heavy degree of government control over it—which makes it a doubly risky investment proposition.
Especially when that government is China’s.
A number of Chinese state-owned nuclear companies are going public these days. CGN Power, the country’s largest with 9.4 gigawatts of operating capacity, will likely offer $3 billion worth of new shares in Hong Kong next month, reports The Wall Street Journal. A small affiliate, CGN Meiya Power , raised $262 million in Hong Kong last month and has seen its shares rise by 20% since. Meanwhile, another top operator, China National Nuclear Power, also plans an initial public offering.
Once listed, these will be one of a handful of stocks globally, including the likes of Exelon of the U.S. and EDF of France, offering high or pure exposure to nuclear energy. And while much of the rest of the world is ambivalent about or hostile to nuclear energy, Beijing has big expansion plans. The Chinese government suspended new project approvals after Japan’s Fukushima accident in March 2011. But the need to diversify away from smog-causing coal has put its nuclear ambitions back on track. China now targets nearly tripling the nuclear capacity that’s up and running to 58 gigawatts by 2020. The IPOs will help fund that ambition.
The state’s involvement can cut both ways, though. CGN Power sells most of its output to state-run electricity grids at regulated tariffs. For power plants that began operating before 2013, these tariffs are tailored to yield a “reasonable” profit, according to CGN’s prospectus. Yet its net profit has fallen since 2011 because of either surging costs or weakening sales.
For newer plants, the tariff is supposed to be fixed—except when it isn’t. In a bid to avoid competition, these plants are required to cut tariffs if neighboring coal-fired power is cheaper. That’s quite likely as coal prices spiral downward. Energy prices are heavily regulated precisely because consumers are rather attached to light and heat. That makes them subject to political, as well as economic, forces.
In France, for example, shares in state-run EDF tanked 14% in June when the government scrapped a planned tariff increase. There’s even more reason to worry in China since governments could keep down power prices as a stimulus to troubled heavy industries. Growth prospects are high, which is likely one reason that CGN Meiya already trades at 10.9 times 2013 earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortization. That is far higher than EDF’s 4.8 times or Exelon’s 6.6 times.
Double-digit multiples are no doubt tempting for IPO bankers but look too much for a large nuclear generator carrying this much political risk. Problem is, CGN’s balance sheet means it needs a high multiple, or fast growth in profits, to make its IPO math work.
Net debt as of this March is a hefty 5.1 times 2013 Ebitda, and still high at four times even if related-party loans are excluded. And less than 10% of the IPO proceeds are currently earmarked for paying off borrowings. As if nuclear power wasn’t risky enough
Aggressive Thyroid Cancers Linked to Radiation Exposure http://www.medscape.com/viewarticle/834000 Roxanne Nelson October 28, 2014 Researchers who have followed the children and adolescents exposed to radioactive fallout from the the 1986 Chernobyl nuclear power plant accident have highlighted the fact that the thyroid cancers seen in these individuals are particularly aggressive. They say their work has implications for individuals affected by the 2011 nuclear reactor incidents in Fukushima, Japan.
The study is published online October 28 in Cancer.
The research team screened nearly 12,000 individuals from Belarus several times over a course of 9 years. Study participants were all under age 18 years when they were exposed to the Chernobyl radioactive fallout.
All individuals underwent up to three cycles of thyroid screening from 1997 to 2008. Radioactive iodine-131 (I-131) thyroid doses were estimated from individual thyroid activity measurements taken within 2 months after the accident, along with dosimetric data from questionnaires.
A total of 158 thyroid cancers were diagnosed in the 11,664-person cohort during 3 rounds of screening, which were conducted at roughly 2-year intervals.
The researchers found that higher I-131 thyroid doses were associated with higher frequency of solid or diffuse sclerosing variants of thyroid cancer (P < 0.01), as well as histologic features of cancer aggressiveness, such as lymphatic vessel invasion, intrathyroidal infiltration, and multifocality (all P < .03).
First author Lydia Zablotska, MD, PhD, associate professor in the Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics at the University of California, San Francisco, explained that her group has previously shown that radioactive iodine exposure significantly increases the risk for thyroid cancer in a dose-dependent manner. But this new study demonstrates that exposure to I-131 is associated with distinct clinical features indicating more aggressive tumors.
“Our study has very important implications for clinical practice,” Dr Zablotska told Medscape Medical News, especially as they relate to radiation exposure that resulted from the 2011 nuclear reactor incidents in Fukushima, Japan. Continue reading
Japanese Officials Vote to Reopen Nuclear Power Plant, Despite Volcanic Warnings, Newsweek, By Madeline Grant 10/28/14 Local officials have voted to reopen a nuclear plant in Japan, despite warnings of increased volcanic activity in the region from scientists.
The decision comes despite a warning on Friday that Japan’s Seismological Agency had documented an increase of activity in the Ioyama volcano, located 40 miles away from the power station……….
Japan sits on the ‘Pacific Ring of Fire’, an area of great instability in the earth’s crust, which is home to 75% of the world’s volcanoes.
Minor tremors were reported on Friday morning and soon after, Japanese officials warned of a potential eruption and called for hikers to avoid the area, which is popular with tourists.
The Sendai plant is also situated only 31 miles from Mount Sakurajima, an extremely active volcano which erupts on a regular basis. The documentation of new activity comes barely a month after the eruption of Mount Ontake, when 57 hikers were killed on its slopes. There were no accompanying signs of seismic activity prior to the eruption which might have alerted Japanese authorities to the impending disaster.
The vote has been seen as an attempt to resurrect the country’s nuclear industry, which the Japanese government hopes to restart despite public opposition to nuclear energy in the wake of the Fukushima disaster. Prior to the disaster, the Japanese had derived 30 percent of their electricity from atomic power.
Japan’s Nuclear Regulation Authority (NRA) approved Sendai’s safety features in September, but the plant must still pass operational safety checks before it will be able to reopen. http://www.newsweek.com/japanese-officials-vote-reopen-nuclear-power-plant-despite-volcanic-warnings-280462
NTU to build region’s first renewable energy integration demonstration micro-grid Phys Org 29 Oct 14 Nanyang Technological University Singapore (NTU Singapore) will be building a hybrid micro-grid which will integrate multiple large-scale renewable energy sources. The first in the region, the hybrid micro-grid will test and demonstrate the integration of solar, wind, tidal-current, diesel, storage and power-to-gas technologies, and ensure these energy sources operate well together.
To be built under the new Renewable Energy Integration Demonstrator- Singapore (REIDS) initiative, the hybrid micro-grid will be located offshore at Semakau Landfill and is expected to produce power in the megawatt (MW) range, which will be suitable for small islands, isolated villages, and emergency power supplies. This will be able to power around 250 HDB 4-room apartments, which together consume a peak of 1 MW.
This initiative is supported by the Singapore Economic Development Board (EDB), and the National Environment Agency (NEA). The S$8 million initial micro-grid infrastructure will also facilitate the development and commercialisation of energy technologies suited for tropical conditions to be developed by NTU Singapore together with 10 world leading companies…….http://phys.org/news/2014-10-ntu-region-renewable-energy-micro-grid.html
460,000,000 Bq/m3 of Cs-134/137 detected from mountain side of Reactor 2 Fukushima Diary, Iori Mochizuki 26 Oct 14 Extremely high level of Cs-134/137 was detected in groundwater taken beside Reactor 2, Tepco announced on 10/24/2014. The specific state of underground is not verified yet.
It is groundwater taken from “sub-drain” located beside Reactor 2. (cf, Strontium-90 detected in potentially discharged water from Reactor 1 and 3
460,000,000 Bq/m3 of Cs-134/137 was detected from groundwater on 10/22/2014. 425,000,000 Bq/m3 of Cs-134/137 was also measured the next day.
From another sub-drain, 424,000,000 Bq/m3 was detected on 10/22/2014 as well. It was still 321,000,000 Bq/m3 the next day.
These sub-drains are located on the mountain side of Reactor 2, which is not affected by frequently reported groundwater contamination in the seaside of Reactor 2……….http://fukushima-diary.com/2014/10/460000000-bqm3-cs-134137-detected-mountain-side-reactor-2/
Tepco projects ¥130 billion pretax profit for year KYODO Japan Times, OCT 25, 2014 Tokyo Electric Power Co., manager of the disaster-struck Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant is expecting to log a group pretax profit of ¥130 billion for the business year through March 2015, even without restarting the giant Kashiwazaki-Kariwa plant or hiking rates again, sources familiar with the matter said Friday. … (subscribers only) http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2014/10/25/business/tepco-projects-%C2%A5130-billion-pretax-profit-for-year/#.VE6s1CLF8nk
28 of 32 testees diagnosed A2 in thyroid inspection of Matsudo city Chiba http://fukushima-diary.com/2014/10/28-32-testees-diagnosed-a2-thyroid-inspection-matsudo-city-chiba/ Iori Mochizuki 28 of 32 testees were diagnosed as “A2″ in the thyroid inspection of Matsudo city, Chiba. The test was implemented from 6/1/2014 to 8/31/2014 and the result was announced on 9/26/2014.
A2 is given when the testee has thyroid nodule (≦5.0mm) or cyst (≦ 20.0mm). Matsudo city government however announces they won’t provide those testees with any medical follow-up for some reason.
The testees were supposed to be born 4/2/1992 ~ 4/1/2011. However, the children who already had the subjective symptoms were not given the right to have the test. The municipal government hasn’t made any announcement about why these children were eliminated from the testees.
Ioyama volcano raises fears Japan’s Sendai nuclear power facility may be at risk, news,com,au 28 Oct 14
“……….The waking of Mount Ioyama on the island of Kyushu comes after a recent warning from a prominent Japanese volcanologist about the Sendai nuclear plant’s vulnerability.
A cauldron eruption at one of several volcanoes surrounding the Sendai nuclear power plant could hit the reactors and cause a nationwide disaster, said Toshitsugu Fujii, head of a government-commissioned panel on volcanic eruption prediction.
Mount Ioyama sits virtually next door to the power plant. In recent weeks it has started experiencing tremors, the Japanese Metrological Agency’s volcano bureau says.
The implications for restarting the repaired Sendai nuclear power plant are serious……..
Now Mount Ioyama has suddenly gone from the dormant end of the threat scale to the second-highest. This means the area around the crater can be regarded as dangerous, and that small-scale eruptions are likely.
Another volatile giant, Mount Sakurajima, sits some 40km from the Sendai facility. This is a very active volcano with frequent minor eruptions. http://www.news.com.au/technology/environment/ioyama-volcano-raises-fears-japans-sendai-nuclear-power-facility-may-be-at-risk/story-fnjww1r5-1227102573947
Tepco “Almost completed transferring spent fuel from Reactor 4 pool” http://fukushima-diary.com/2014/10/tepco-almost-completed-transferring-spent-fuel-reactor-4-pool/ Iori Mochizuki 26 Oct 14 On 10/19/2014, Tepco announced that they have already completed transferring 1,320 of 1331 spent fuel assemblies from Reactor 4 pool.
The rest of 11 spent fuel assemblies to include 3 damaged assemblies are to be transferred with the next lot planned by the end of November.
Still 180 of 202 new fuel assemblies are remaining in the pool, but Tepco announces the radiation level is low enough for human worker to manually handle.
So far, they have transferred the casks for 61 times.