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Fukushima Ice Wall Failing, Water Seepage Into Nuclear Reactors Still A Problem

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March 9th, 2018 by James Ayre

The “ice wall” that Tokyo Electric Power Co (Tepco) put in place a few years ago, with the intent of stopping water seepage into the basements of the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear plant, isn’t functioning as advertised (so to speak).
 
Going on an analysis performed by Reuters (using Tepco data), since the ice wall became “operational” — towards the end of August 2017 — an “average of 141 metric tonnes a day of water has seeped into the reactor and turbine areas.”
 
What that means is that after the ice wall was deemed to be fully operational that the flow of groundwater into the areas in question actually increased — as the previous 9 months (before August 2017) had seen an average of 132 metric tonnes a day of groundwater seepage.
 
Considering how expensive the ice wall was to put into place, and Tepco’s assurances to skeptics that the approach would be effective, this is very notable, to say the least.
 
As a result of this failure, large quantities of groundwater are continuing to flow into the basements of the Fukushima nuclear power plants, and there mingle with the extremely radioactive material present there.
 
Arguments are of course being made by Tepco officials, though, that since groundwater flows have lessened over the last few years that the ice wall is working (in conjunction with various pumps and drains), but considering the figures discussed above, effectiveness is certainly limited.
 
The company is claiming that, based on computer models, the ice wall is reducing groundwater flow into the reactors by around 95 tonnes a day, compared to 2 years ago.
 
Reuters provides more information:
 
“The groundwater seepage has delayed Tepco’s clean-up at the site and may undermine the entire decommissioning process for the plant, which was battered by a tsunami 7 years ago this Sunday. Waves knocked out power and triggered meltdowns at 3 of the site’s 6 reactors that spewed radiation, forcing 160,000 residents to flee, many of whom have not returned to this once-fertile coast.
 
“Though called an ice wall, Tepco has attempted to create something more like a frozen soil barrier. Using ¥34.5 billion ($324 million) in public funds, Tepco sunk about 1,500 tubes filled with brine to a depth of 30 meters (100 feet) in a 1.5-kilometre (1-mile) perimeter around 4 of the plant’s reactors. It then cools the brine to minus 30° Celsius (minus 22° Fahrenheit). The aim is to freeze the soil into a solid mass that blocks groundwater flowing from the hills west of the plant to the coast.”
 
It should be realized that the more groundwater seepage there is into the areas in question, the more radioactive water there is to eventually deal with — or not deal with, as may be the case.
 
To date, the radioactive water at the Fukushima site has either been lost to the wider environment or is stored in large tanks at the facility. These storage tanks now total more than a thousand, and store over 1 million tonnes of radioactive water. Tepco has warned that it will run out of space at the site to store this water by as soon as early 2021. What happens then?
 
“I believe the ice wall was ‘oversold’ in that it would solve all the release and storage concerns,” commented Dale Klein, the former head of the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission, and the head of an external committee that’s advising Tepco on safety issues, to Reuters.
 
“The hydrology of the Fukushima site is very complicated and thus the exact water flow is hard to predict, especially during heavy rains.”
 
This reality was made especially clear last October when a typhoon affected the region, and 866 tonnes a day of groundwater flowed into the nuclear reactors for the duration.
 
The Reuters coverage provides a bit more:
 
“However, a government-commissioned panel on Wednesday offered a mixed assessment of the ice wall, saying it was partially effective but more steps were needed…In addition to the building costs, the ice wall needs an estimated 44 million kilowatt hours of electricity a year to run, enough to power about 15,000 typical Japanese homes.
 
“Meanwhile, Tepco must decide how to cope with the growing volume of water stored on site. The purification process removes 62 radioactive elements from the contaminated water but it leaves tritium, a mildly radioactive element that is difficult to separate from water. Not considered harmful in low doses, tritium is released into oceans and rivers by nuclear plants around the world at various national standard levels.
 
“But local residents, particularly fishermen, oppose ocean releases because they fear it will keep consumers from buying Fukushima products. Many countries, including South Korea and China, still have restrictions on produce from Fukushima and neighboring areas.”
 
That’s not to say that such releases won’t be the eventual outcome, as they are one of the primary options now being considered by a government-commissioned task force working on the problem.
 
As far as whether the water in question actually does “only” contain radioactive tritium, that remains an open question as Tepco has yet to allow third-party testing of the store “purified” water in question. Without third-party testing, who actually knows what’s in it?
 
As a reminder here, the Fukushima nuclear disaster effectively began 7 years ago on Sunday and is quite obviously still ongoing. A vast amount of money has already been spent working to contain the nuclear material and contamination at the Fukushima site, but the reality remains that a vast amount more will have to be spent over the coming decades. The area itself will effectively remain unfit for human habitation indefinitely regardless of containment and remediation work.
 
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March 14, 2018 Posted by | Fukushima 2018 | , | Leave a comment

7 Years On: Fukushima Aims to Lure Young People with New Industries

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Fukushima, March 9 (Jiji Press)–Fukushima Prefecture aims to attract young people with new industries that will help realize a society without dependence on nuclear power, Masao Uchibori, governor of the northeastern Japan prefecture, said in an interview.
Some 50,000 Fukushima residents remain evacuees seven years after the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami and the subsequent triple meltdown at Tokyo Electric Power Holding Inc.’s Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant.
“By eventually reviving areas where still entry is basically prohibited due to high radiation levels near the plant, I want to make Fukushima a home where residents can live with a smile,” the governor said.
“The prefecture has been aggressively introducing renewable energy in order to become a society that doesn’t depend on nuclear power,” he added.
On the situation in which the population of Fukushima, particularly in the severely afflicted coastal region, is declining fast, Uchibori said he aims to raise the prefecture’s fertility rate to at least 2.0.
 

March 14, 2018 Posted by | Fukushima 2018 | | Leave a comment

Clearing the Radioactive Rubble Heap That Was Fukushima Daiichi, 7 Years On

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March 9, 2018
By Tim Hornyak
 
The water is tainted, the wreckage is dangerous, and disposing of it will be a prolonged, complex and costly process.
 
Seven years after one of the largest earthquakes on record unleashed a massive tsunami and triggered a meltdown at Japan’s Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, officials say they are at last getting a handle on the mammoth task of cleaning the site before it is ultimately dismantled. But the process is still expected to be a long, expensive slog, requiring as-yet untried feats of engineering—and not all the details have yet been worked out.
 
When the disaster knocked out off- and on-site power supplies on March 11, 2011, three of the cooling systems for the plant’s four reactor units were disabled. This caused the nuclear fuel inside to overheat, leading to a meltdown and hydrogen explosions that spewed out radiation. The plant’s operator, Tokyo Electric Power Co. (TEPCO), responded by cooling the reactors with water, which continues today. Meanwhile thousands of people living in the surrounding area were evacuated and Japan’s other nuclear plants were temporarily shut down.
 
In the years since the disaster and the immediate effort to stanch the release of radioactive material, officials have been working out how to decontaminate the site without unleashing more radiation into the environment. It will take a complex engineering effort to deal with thousands of fuel rods, along with the mangled debris of the reactors and the water used to cool them. Despite setbacks, that effort is now moving forward in earnest, officials say. “We are still conducting studies on the location of the molten fuel, but despite this we have made the judgment that the units are stable,” says Naohiro Masuda, TEPCO’s chief decommissioning officer for Daiichi.
Waterworks
 
Completely cleaning up and taking apart the plant could take a generation or more, and comes with a hefty price tag. In 2016 the government increased its cost estimate to about $75.7 billion, part of the overall Fukushima disaster price tag of $202.5 billion. The Japan Center for Economic Research, a private think tank, said the cleanup costs could mount to some $470 billion to $660 billion, however.
 
Under a government roadmap, TEPCO hopes to finish the job in 30 to 40 years. But some experts say even that could be an underestimate. “In general, estimates of work involving decontamination and disposal of nuclear materials are underestimated by decades,” says Rod Ewing, a professor of nuclear security and geological sciences at Stanford University. “I think that we have to expect that the job will extend beyond the estimated time.”
 
The considerable time and expense are due to the cleanup being a veritable hydra that involves unprecedented engineering. TEPCO and its many contractors will be focusing on several battlefronts.
 
Water is being deliberately circulated through each reactor every day to cool the fuel within—but the plant lies on a slope, and water from precipitation keeps flowing into the buildings as well. Workers built an elaborate scrubbing system that removes cesium, strontium and dozens of other radioactive particles from the water; some of it is recirculated into the reactors, and some goes into row upon row of giant tanks at the site. There’s about one million tons of water kept in 1,000 tanks and the volume grows by 100 tons a day, down from 400 tons four years ago.
 
To keep more water from seeping into the ground and being tainted, more than 90 percent of the site has been paved. A series of drains and underground barriers—including a $325-million* supposedly impermeable “wall” of frozen soil—was also constructed to keep water from flowing into the reactors and the ocean. These have not worked as well as expected, though, especially during typhoons when precipitation spikes, so groundwater continues to be contaminated.
 
Despite the fact contaminated water was dumped into the sea after the disaster, studies by Japanese and foreign labs have shown radioactive cesium in fish caught in the region has fallen and is now within Japan’s food safety limits. TEPCO will not say when it will decide what to do with all the stored water, because dumping it in the ocean again would invite censure at home and abroad—but there are worries that another powerful quake could cause it to slosh out of the tanks.
Fuel Mop-Up
 
A second major issue at Fukushima is how to handle the fuel¾the melted uranium cores as well as spent and unused fuel rods stored at the reactors. Using robotic probes and 3-D imaging with muons (a type of subatomic particle), workers have found pebbly deposits and debris at various areas inside the primary containment vessels in the three of the plant’s reactor units. These highly radioactive remains are thought to be melted fuel as well as supporting structures. TEPCO has not yet worked out how it can remove the remains, but it wants to start the job in 2021. There are few precedents for the task. Lake Barrett—director of the Three Mile Island nuclear plant during its decommissioning after a partial meltdown at the Middletown, Pa., facility in 1979—says TEPCO will use robots to remotely dig out the melted fuel and store it in canisters on-site before shipping to its final disposal spot. “This is similar to what we did at Three Mile Island, just much larger and with much more sophisticated engineering because their damage is greater than ours was,” Barrett says. “So although the work is technically much more challenging than ours was, Japan has excellent technological capabilities, and worldwide robotic technology has advanced tremendously in the last 30-plus years.”
 
Shaun Burnie, senior nuclear specialist with Greenpeace Germany, doubts the ambitious cleanup effort can be completed in the time cited, and questions whether the radioactivity can be completely contained. Until TEPCO can verify the conditions of the molten fuel, he says, “there can be no confirmation of what impact and damage the material has had” on the various components of the reactors—and therefore how radiation might leak into the environment in the future.
 
Although the utility managed to safely remove all 1,533 fuel bundles from the plant’s unit No. 4 reactor by December 2014, it still has to do the same for the hundreds of rods stored at the other three units. This involves clearing rubble, installing shields, dismantling the building roofs, and setting up platforms and special rooftop equipment to remove the rods. Last month a 55-ton dome roof was installed on unit No. 3 to facilitate the safe removal of the 533 fuel bundles that remain in a storage pool there. Whereas removal should begin at No. 3 sometime before April 2019, the fuel at units No. 1 and 2 will not be ready for transfer before 2023, according to TEPCO. And just where all the fuel and other radioactive solid debris on the site will be stored or disposed of long-term has yet to be decided; last month the site’s ninth solid waste storage building, with a capacity of about 61,000 cubic meters, went into operation.
 
As for what the site itself might look like decades from now, cleanup officials refuse to say. But they are quick to differentiate it from the sarcophagus-style containment of the 1986 Chernobyl catastrophe in the Soviet Union, in what is now Ukraine. Whereas the Chernobyl plant is sealed off and the surrounding area remains off-limits except for brief visits—leaving behind several ghost towns—Japanese officials want as many areas as possible around the Daiichi site to eventually be habitable again.
 
“To accelerate reconstruction and rebuilding of Fukushima as a region, and the lives of locals, the key is to reduce the mid- and long-term risk,” says Satoru Toyomoto, director for international issues at the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry’s Nuclear Accident Response Office. “In that regard, keeping debris on the premises without approval is not an option.”
 

March 14, 2018 Posted by | Fukushima 2018 | , | Leave a comment

Fukushima: A Human-Made Disaster Brought on by Bad Faith

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March 9, 2018
by John Laforge
 
“Nearly seven years after the triple reactor meltdowns, this unique nuclear crisis is still underway,” Greenpeace International’s Shaun Burnie wrote in a blogpost last December. The word “unique” is an understatement but true. The March 11, 2011 meltdowns are the world’s first combined earthquake-tsunami-reactor catastrophe. Moreover, while other power reactors have run out-of-control, melted down and contaminated large areas, never before have three simultaneously suffered mass earthquake damage, station black-outs, loss-of-coolant and complete meltdowns.
 
The consequences of its meltdowns-cubed are uniquely over three times deeper, broader and more expensive than anyone was prepared to handle. In the days following the initial quake, tsunami(s), and explosions, the head of the emergency response said, “There is no manual for this disaster.” Managers have had to invent, design, develop and implement the recovery whole cloth. Evacuation was so haphazard that on August 9, 2011, one local mayor accused the government of murder.
 
The crisis is ongoing in many ways: radioactively contaminated water is still pouring into the Pacific Ocean (permanently contaminating and altering sea life which bio-accumulates and bio-concentrates the radioactivity); radioactive gases and perhaps even “hot particles” are still wafting out of destroyed reactor structures and waste fuel pools; the constant threat of earthquakes and tsunamis in Japan puts millions of gallons of radioactive waste water now stored near the shore in tanks at risk of spilling; and the dangerous work of collecting radioactive soils, leaves and tree trimmings from farmlands, school yards, parks and gardens continuously adds to vast collections of 1-ton radioactive waste bags.
 
The government estimates that 30 million cubic meters of this collected rad waste — a nearly unimaginable 29 million tons — will eventually require burial, incineration or re-use in road-building. The disaster is ongoing because the dangerous radiation exposures endured by the workers in these disaster response jobs is cumulative and irreversible — and the work will continue for 3 centuries or so. This is because: 1) cesium-137, one of the principle pollutants spewed by the meltdowns, takes 300 years to decay to other isotopes; and 2) in spite of the gigantic amount of contaminated material that’s been scrapped together and bagged — at over 1000 Temporary Storage Sites and elsewhere at 141,000 locations across Fukushima — the effort covers “only a small fraction of the total landmass of radioactively contaminated areas,” as Greenpeace’s Burnie reports. The “largest areas of significant contamination [are] the forested mountains of Fukushima,” Burnie notes, and will continue for three centuries to re-contaminate the soil down-wind and down-river, “through weathering processes and the natural water and lifecycle of trees and rivers.”
 
Fukushima’s endless radiation effects — from thyroid cancers, to contaminated sea food, from poisoned pregnancies to irradiated clean-up workers — should be the final insult from nuclear power and weapons. And they will be if the general public wises up to the unacceptable risks of continuing to operate nuclear reactors.
 
In “Fukushima Meltdown” the first scholarly book to appear on the incident, author Takashi Hirose dashed off a grim warning after having published books and articles warning of the terrible danger of nuclear power since the 1980s. His cautions are more important now than ever, because commercial media will this week repeat the tragic-comic assurances that “no one died,” that Fukushima’s “released radiation was less than Chernobyl,” and that “nuclear power is clean.”
 
Natural disasters will never disappear, Takashi wrote, and there is no way of putting an end to earth quakes and tsunamis. “However, the Fukushima Disaster is neither a natural disaster nor ordained by fate. It is a human-made disaster brought about by bad faith.” In his terrifying 150 pages, Takashi methodically proves the case that the Fukushima catastrophe “was easily predictable and preventable.” In a nutshell, two principle government and corporate lies demonstrate how bad faith brought about the worst reactor accident in history. Exposing and rejecting these lies can prevent another meltdown.
 
Initially the Japanese government and the Tokyo Electric Power Co. (Tepco) asserted over and over that “there is no crisis” and even that “there will be no radiation release.” A month after the start of the disaster, the government admitted that radiation gushing to the sea and spewing to the atmosphere was at the same level as Chernobyl (the 1986 reactor disaster in Ukraine). Author Takashi calls this use of disinformation “as terrifying as what is happening at the actual site.” “From day one I had been saying that huge amounts of radiation were sure to be escaping.… From day one the situation had reached the highest level for nuclear accidents, Level 7, and from day one the government knew this, but it concealed that information from the people, thus causing far more people to be irradiated than otherwise would have been the case.”
 
The other glaring example of bad faith has been Tepco’s repeatedly saying, “We could not imagine that a once-in-a-thousand-years earthquake might come,” and further that “the tsunami was beyond our expectation.” These are lies. The destroyed Fukushima reactors were hit by an easily imaginable 14-meter tsunami. In 1896, the Meji-Sanriku quake’s tsunami reached 38.2 meters on the Iwate coast not far from Fukushima; the 1933 Hokkaido quake caused a 28.7 meter tsunami. Indeed, since the late 1970s experts have warned that a disaster like Fukushima was possible. In the late 1990s, seismology professor Ishibashi Katsuhiko at Kobe Univ. coined an explicit new term meaning “nuclear-power-plant-earthquake-disaster.” Because Prof. Ishibashi’s many books on the subject are well-known, “it is impossible that his warnings were unknown to the officials of Tepco,” who just want to dodge criminal charges.
 
The lessons for the 99 faulty reactors in this country and the other 300 around the world are clear enough. It’s absurd to put reactors near earthquakes or volcanoes or anywhere near the water. And, as Takashi says, “The people responsible for the horror of this nuclear accident are the people who promoted nuclear power.”
 

March 14, 2018 Posted by | Fukushima 2018 | , , | Leave a comment

Japanese government accepts United Nations Fukushima recommendations – current policies now must change to stop violation of evacuee human rights

March 8, 2018

Tokyo – The Japanese government has announced that it had accepted all four recommendations made at the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) on the rights of evacuees from the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear accident. The decision is a victory for the human rights of tens of thousands of evacuees, and civil society that have been working at the UNHRC and demanding that Japan accept and comply with UN principles. The decision means that the Japanese government must immediately change its unacceptable policies, said Greenpeace. The announcement by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs was made in a formal submission to the UNHRC*.
 
Japan is to give its formal decision on 16 March at the the UNHRC Universal Periodic Review session in Geneva to recommendations made by Austria, Portugal and Mexico on the need to respect the rights of Fukushima, particularly women and children, and from Germany, which called on Japan to protect citizens from harmful radiation by dramatically reducing permitted radiation exposure.[1][2]
 
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Akiko Morimatsu, a mother and evacuee from Fukushima standing in front of MOFA with Greenpeace Japan. (c)Greenpeace
 
At an event held in Tokyo today, where two evacuee mothers, a leading lawyer representing Fukushima citizens, Human Rights Now, and Greenpeace, explained the crisis facing many survivors and the multiple violations of their rights by the government of Shinzo Abe and the implications of its decision to accept all the four UNHRC recommendations.
 
“Over the last seven years I have seen many different violation of human rights in Japan. The discrimination we are suffering as evacuees is a reflection of the attitude of the Government towards us, but we have been exercising our rights to be protected from radiation. I would like to believe the acceptance of the United Nations recommendations will be the start of a change in our society”, said Akiko Morimatsu, a mother and Fukushima evacuee from Koriyama. Next week she will leave Japan for Geneva, together with Greenpeace, where she will participate at the UNHRC session and give a statement where Japanese government will make its official acceptance of the recommendations.
 
“I cautiously welcome the Japanese government’s acceptance of the UN recommendations. The government may believe that an insincere acceptance is sufficient. They are wrong to think so – and we are determined to hold them to account to implement the necessary changes that the UN members states are demanding,” said Yuichi Kaido, a lawyer for multiple Fukushima accident lawsuits against TEPCO and the Japanese Government.
 
“We welcome the Japanese government decision to accept all the four United Nations recommendations. Now they must apply them in full and without delay. The government policy of allowing people to be exposed to high levels of radiation is incompatible with their acceptance of the 1 mSv recommendation made by Germany. They must now act immediately to change their policies in the interests of radiation protection of Fukushima citizens, particularly women and children,” said Shaun Burnie, nuclear specialist at Greenpeace Germany.
 
Greenpeace radiation survey results published last week showed high levels of radiation in Iitate and Namie that make it unsafe for citizens to return before mid century, and even more severe contamination in the exclusion zone of Namie. High radiation levels in Obori would mean you would reach your maximum annual exposure in 16 days.[3]
 
The lifting of evacuation orders in areas heavily contaminated by the nuclear accident, which far exceed the international standard of 1 mSv/year for the general public, raise multiple human rights issues. Housing support is due to end in March 2019 for survivors from these areas. The Japanese government also ended housing support for so-called ‘self evacuees’ from other than evacuation order zone in March 2017, and removed as many as 29,000 of these victims from official records. This amounts to economic coercion where survivors may be forced to return to the contaminated areas against their wishes due to economic pressure. This clearly contravenes multiple human rights treaties to which Japan is party.[4]
 
The briefing was held at the House of Councilors office building.Speakers were Ms. Noriko Matsumoto (Fukushima survivor); Mr. Yuichi Kaido (Lawyer for multiple Fukushima accident lawsuits against TEPCO and the Japanese Government); Ms. Kazuko Ito (Lawyer, Secretary General of Human Rights Now); Jan Vande Putte (Greenpeace Belgium, radiation protection expert) Ms. Akiko Morimatsu (Fukushima survivor).
 
 
*The announcement by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs http://www.mofa.go.jp/mofaj/files/000326823.pdf
 
 
Notes
 
[1] Universal Periodic Review (UNHRC website) http://www.ohchr.org/EN/HRBodies/UPR/Pages/UPRMain.aspx
 
[2] UN Human Rights Council’s Review of Japan voices serious concerns for Fukushima nuclear survivors (Greenpeace Japan press statement, 14 Nov 2017) http://www.greenpeace.org/japan/ja/news/press/2017/pr2017111411/
 
[3] A dose of 4.3 micro sieverts per hour in average in Obori at 1m height, is high enough to expose someone to the maximum allowable dose of 1mSv/year in 16 days, following the Japanese government methodology.
 
[4] See Unequal Impact (Greenpeace Japan report) for details http://www.greenpeace.org/japan/ja/news/press/2017/pr201703071/
Contacts:
Chisato Jono, Communications Officer, Greenpeace Japan, email: chisato.jono@greenpeace.org, mob: +81 (0) 80-6558-4446
 
Shaun Burnie, senior nuclear specialist, Greenpeace Germany, email: sburnie@greenpeace.org, mob: +81 (0)80-3694-2843 (Currently based in Japan)

March 14, 2018 Posted by | Fukushima 2018 | , , , | Leave a comment

Fukushima’s giant ice wall fails to stop water leaking into radioactive area

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March 8, 2018
A giant ice wall constructed underneath the ill-fated Fukushima Daiichi power plant in Japan is failing to prevent groundwater from seeping into it, according to a new report from Reuters.
 
The failure to contain the water is preventing clean-up teams from removing the last of the dangerous radioactive fuel, seven years after a tsunami hit the plant and triggered a catastrophic meltdown.
 
The refrigeration structure, which resembles giant ice lollies, was completed in 2016 and was an attempt to limit the amount of radioactive water created by the incident.
 
The aim is to freeze the soil into a solid mass that blocks groundwater flowing from the hills west of the plant to the coast.
 
At the time of the ice wall construction, nearly 800,000 tonnes of contaminated water was being stored in 1,000 huge industrial tanks at the site.
 
Data released from operator Tokyo Electric Power Co (TEPCO) showed that water leakage has actually got worse since the structure was turned on.
 
An average of 141 metric tonnes of water per day seeped into the reactor and turbine areas, compared to an average of 132 metric tonnes a day during the prior nine months.
 
The structures cost around 34.5 billion yen (£233m) in public funds and consist of approximately 1,500 tubes filled with brine, cooled to minus 30°C, and buried 30 metres underground.
 
“I believe the ice wall was ‘oversold’ in that it would solve all the release and storage concerns,” said Dale Klein, the former chairman of the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission and the head of an external committee advising Tepco on safety issues.
 
“The hydrology of the Fukushima site is very complicated and thus the exact water flow is hard to predict,” he said, “especially during heavy rains.”
 
Overall, Tepco says a combination of drains, pumps and the ice wall has cut water flows by three-quarters, from 490 tons a day during the December 2015 to February 2016 period to an average of 110 tons a day for December 2017 to February 2018.
 
It is hard to measure exactly how much the ice wall is contributing, Tepco officials say, but based on computer analysis the utility estimates the barrier is reducing water flows by about 95 tonnes a day compared to two years ago, before the barrier was operating.
 
However, it expects to run out of space to store the water by 2021, so the decommissioning process needs to be completed as quickly as possible.
 
In 2016, the estimate for the total cost of the clean-up operation increased to 22.6tr yen (£151bn), more than double the previous estimate.
 
According to a Greenpeace report on Fukushima, published last week, the people, towns and villages in the surrounding area are still being exposed to excessive levels of radiation. A ground-level study conducted by an international research team also found that uranium and other radioactive materials, such as caesium and technetium, were present in tiny particles released from the damaged nuclear reactors.

 

March 14, 2018 Posted by | Fukushima 2018 | , , , | Leave a comment

Support Most Common Reason for Buying ‘Fukushima Food’

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March 8, 2018

Tokyo, March 7 (Jiji Press)—People who regularly buy fresh food products from Fukushima Prefecture most often want to support the northeastern prefecture and local producers, a survey by the Consumer Affairs Agency showed Wednesday.
 
“Thanks to efforts by producers, radioactive substances above regulatory limits are not detected (from Fukushima products),” Okamura Kazumi, secretary-general of the agency said. “We’ll step up efforts to communicate the reality to consumption areas.”
 
According to the survey, which covered a total of 7,050 people in their 20s to 60s, with 150 people selected from each of Japan’s 47 prefectures, 18.1% of respondents said they regularly buy fresh food from Fukushima.
 
On reasons for their purchases, with multiple answers allowed, 40.9% said they want to support Fukushima and producers, followed by 38.3% who find Fukushima products tasty and 27.3% who said they know the products are safe.
 
The survey showed that 18.5% do not buy products from Fukushima at all. Of them, 42.5%, the largest group, gave no specific reason, followed by 33.3% who said Fukushima products are not available in their neighborhoods. The share of people who cited concern over radioactive contamination stood at 13.9%.

March 14, 2018 Posted by | Fukushima 2018 | , | Leave a comment

Evacuees from 2011 disaster number over 73,000

“About half of 35 affected municipalities in the 3 hardest-hit prefectures — Iwate, Miyagi and Fukushima — have seen their populations drop by more than 10 percent.”
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March 7, 2018
Nearly 7 years on from the 2011 earthquake and tsunami in northeastern Japan, tens of thousands of people have yet to return to their homes.
 
Japan’s Reconstruction Agency said there were more than 73,000 evacuees as of February 13th. That’s about 50,000 fewer than the year before.
 
About 53,000 people are living in prefabricated temporary housing, municipality-funded private residences, or welfare facilities. Nearly 20,000 are staying with relatives or friends.
 
About 50,000 Fukushima residents remained evacuated as of last month, according to the agency and the prefectural government.
 
Some areas of the prefecture have been off-limits to residents since the meltdowns at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant.
 
About half of 35 affected municipalities in the 3 hardest-hit prefectures — Iwate, Miyagi and Fukushima — have seen their populations drop by more than 10 percent.

 

March 14, 2018 Posted by | Fukushima 2018 | | Leave a comment

Olympic Games Spin – Based on Olympic Sized Lies – theme for March 2018

Fukushima today is the focus of the nuclear lobby’s most egregious lies. It’s hard to know where to start in examining them.

 

Let’s start with ionising radiation. This year’s March 11 report, by Shin-ichi Hayama, on the macaque monkeys of Fukushima reveals that they have radioactive cesium in their muscles, and significantly low white and red blood cell counts.  They have reduced growth rate and smaller head sizes.  These “snow monkeys” are close relatives to humans. Hayama’s 10 year study of the macaque provides a unique examination of the effects of  chronic low level radiation  affecting generations of monkeys.

New nuclear power for Japan, and nuclear technology as a profitable export?   A visitor from another planet might well marvel at these fantasies – noting  Fukushima’s  radioactive shattered reactors, and ever growing masses of radioactive water – with Japan’s vulnerability to earthquakes.

The social costs continue – the rise in childhood and adolescent thyroid cancer, the worried evacuees, the stigma to Fukushim survivors.   The financial costs of it all are unimaginable – and will be exacerbated by many legal cases won against the nuclear industry.

So – how does the global nuclear industry, backed by banks and governments respond?

Why – by deciding to hold the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo, and pretending that everything is safe, clean green under control in North Eastern Japan!

LET THE OLYMPIC  SPIN BEGIN –   the survival of the nuclear industry depends on it!!

 

March 14, 2018 Posted by | Fukushima continuing, secrets,lies and civil liberties | 1 Comment

Harmful effects of radiation on Fukushima’s macaque monkeys

Stark health findings for Fukushima monkeys https://beyondnuclearinternational.org/2018/03/11/stark-health-findings-for-fukushima-monkeys-of-concern-for-humans/ By Cindy Folkers

March 14, 2018 Posted by | environment, Fukushima continuing, radiation, Reference | Leave a comment

Successful legal action against nuclear power, and more court cases to come

Nuclear Power Facing a Tsunami of Litigation, Nippon, Shizume Saiji [2018.03.12]   In March 2011, a magnitude-9 earthquake triggered a giant tsunami that crippled the cooling system at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station, leading to a catastrophic accident that continues to reverberate seven years later. Science reporter Shizume Saiji surveys the legal fallout from the meltdown, from claims against the government and the operator to a raft of actions aimed at permanently shutting down the nation’s nuclear power industry………….

Complacency and Opacity

In the wake of the Fukushima accident, NISA (since replaced by the Nuclear Regulation Authority) was faulted for its lack of independence. The agency was under the authority of the Ministry of Economy, Trade, and Industry, which promotes the use of nuclear power, and officials maintain that its regulatory powers were limited. In addition, a closed, inbred environment encouraged unhealthy ties between NISA and the electric power industry. As a consequence, NISA had fallen into the habit of accommodating and supporting the utilities instead of overseeing them. TEPCO, for its part, had developed a deeply rooted culture of denial, habitually concealing information that might supply ammunition to anti-nuclear activists or fuel fears among the local citizenry. The company brushed off the warnings, convincing itself that the danger from a giant tsunami was purely hypothetical.

So far, district courts have reached decisions on three major class-action suits, and in each case they have agreed with the plaintiffs that the state and TEPCO could have foreseen the danger from a major tsunami once the 2002 report on earthquake risks was released. Two of the district courts, Maebashi and Fukushima, found both the state and TEPCO negligent for failing to prevent the meltdowns. The Chiba District Court, on the other hand, dismissed claims against the state on the grounds that the government was focusing on earthquake safety at the time and may not have been able to formulate effective measures in time to protect Fukushima Daiichi against the March 2011 tsunami. With the government and TEPCO girding up to appeal the lower courts’ decisions, the cases could drag on for years……….

Fighting Nuclear Power, One Plant at a Time

On a different but related front, citizens’ groups and other plaintiffs are vigorously pursuing lawsuits and injunctions aimed directly at shutting down nuclear power plants around the country.

Efforts to block nuclear energy development through legal action date all the way back to the 1970s.

………. At present, almost all of Japan’s operable nuclear power plants are in the midst of some kind of litigation. In one case, the plaintiff is a local government: The city of Hakodate in Hokkaidō has filed a lawsuit to block the construction and operation of the Ōma Nuclear Power Station across the Tsugaru Strait in Aomori Prefecture.[Excellent graphs show 38 nuclear reactors suspended, and 3 operating]

Lawyers on a Mission

Lawyers Kawai Hiroyuki and Kaido Yūichi have been key figures in the fight against nuclear power since before the Fukushima accident. In the wake of the disaster, they founded the National Network of Counsels in Cases against Nuclear Power Plants, a group that has been pursuing legal action against nuclear facilities on behalf of citizens and other plaintiffs nationwide.

Kawai and Kaido are also representing the shareholders of TEPCO, who are suing the company’s former executives for an unprecedented ¥5.5 trillion. In addition, as lawyers for the Complainants for the Criminal Prosecution of the Fukushima Nuclear Disaster, the two attorneys are working alongside the prosecuting team in the criminal case against three TEPCO executives, which parallels the civil suit in terms of arguments, evidence, and testimony.

Even so, the trial—which officially opened last June and is expected to continue at least through the coming summer—is expected to attract intense media coverage as witness examinations begin this spring. More than 20 witnesses are scheduled to testify. The case also involves a massive volume of documentary evidence, including records of interviews conducted by the government’s Investigation Committee on the Accident at the Fukushima Nuclear Power Station, along with countless pages of emails, internal memos, meeting minutes, and reports. Will all this information shed new light on the human factors behind the Fukushima accident? The nation will be watching closely.

(Originally published in Japanese on February 19, 2018). https://www.nippon.com/en/currents/d00388/?pnum=2

March 14, 2018 Posted by | Japan, Legal | Leave a comment

Long expensive ?intractable, task of cleaning up Fukushima’s radioactive water and rubble

Clearing the Radioactive Rubble Heap That Was Fukushima Daiichi, 7 Years On
The water is tainted, the wreckage is dangerous, and disposing of it will be a prolonged, complex and costly process, 
Scientific American, By Tim Hornyak on March 9, 2018  Seven years after one of the largest earthquakes on record unleashed a massive tsunami and triggered a meltdown at Japan’s Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, officials say they are at last getting a handle on the mammoth task of cleaning the site before it is ultimately dismantled. But the process is still expected to be a long, expensive slog, requiring as-yet untried feats of engineering—and not all the details have yet been worked out………

In the years since the disaster and the immediate effort to stanch the release of radioactive material, officials have been working out how to decontaminate the site without unleashing more radiation into the environment. It will take a complex engineering effort to deal with thousands of fuel rods, along with the mangled debris of the reactors and the water used to cool them. Despite setbacks, that effort is now moving forward in earnest, officials say. “We are still conducting studies on the location of the molten fuel, but despite this we have made the judgment that the units are stable,” says Naohiro Masuda, TEPCO’s chief decommissioning officer for Daiichi.

Completely cleaning up and taking apart the plant could take a generation or more, and comes with a hefty price tag. In 2016 the government increased its cost estimate to about $75.7 billion, part of the overall Fukushima disaster price tag of $202.5 billion. The Japan Center for Economic Research, a private think tank, said the cleanup costs could mount to some $470 billion to $660 billion, however. ……….

The considerable time and expense are due to the cleanup being a veritable hydra that involves unprecedented engineering. TEPCO and its many contractors will be focusing on several battlefronts.

WATERWORKS

Water is being deliberately circulated through each reactor every day to cool the fuel within—but the plant lies on a slope, and water from precipitation keeps flowing into the buildings as well. Workers built an elaborate scrubbing system that removes cesium, strontium and dozens of other radioactive particles from the water; some of it is recirculated into the reactors, and some goes into row upon row of giant tanks at the site. There’s about one million tons of water kept in 1,000 tanks and the volume grows by 100 tons a day, down from 400 tons four years ago……….

FUEL MOP-UP

A second major issue at Fukushima is how to handle the fuel¾the melted uranium cores as well as spent and unused fuel rods stored at the reactors. Using robotic probes and 3-D imaging with muons (a type of subatomic particle), workers have found pebbly deposits and debris at various areas inside the primary containment vessels in the three of the plant’s reactor units. These highly radioactive remains are thought to be melted fuel as well as supporting structures. TEPCO has not yet worked out how it can remove the remains, but it wants to start the job in 2021. There are few precedents for the task………

Shaun Burnie, senior nuclear specialist with Greenpeace Germany, doubts the ambitious cleanup effort can be completed in the time cited, and questions whether the radioactivity can be completely contained. Until TEPCO can verify the conditions of the molten fuel, he says, “there can be no confirmation of what impact and damage the material has had” on the various components of the reactors—and therefore how radiation might leak into the environment in the future.

Although the utility managed to safely remove all 1,533 fuel bundles from the plant’s unit No. 4 reactor by December 2014, it still has to do the same for the hundreds of rods stored at the other three units. This involves clearing rubble, installing shields, dismantling the building roofs, and setting up platforms and special rooftop equipment to remove the rods. Last month a 55-ton dome roof was installed on unit No. 3 to facilitate the safe removal of the 533 fuel bundles that remain in a storage pool there. Whereas removal should begin at No. 3 sometime before April 2019, the fuel at units No. 1 and 2 will not be ready for transfer before 2023, according to TEPCO. And just where all the fuel and other radioactive solid debris on the site will be stored or disposed of long-term has yet to be decided; last month the site’s ninth solid waste storage building, with a capacity of about 61,000 cubic meters, went into operation.

As for what the site itself might look like decades from now, cleanup officials refuse to say. …….https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/clearing-the-radioactive-rubble-heap-that-was-fukushima-daiichi-7-years-on/

March 14, 2018 Posted by | Fukushima continuing | Leave a comment

Thousands of Taiwanese rally for an end to nuclear power

Protest draws thousands calling for end to nuclear power http://focustaiwan.tw/news/asoc/201803110013.aspx,  – -By Wu Hsin-yun and Elizabeth Hsu)2018/03/11  Taipei, March 11 (CNA) An annual anti-nuclear march was held on Ketagalan Boulevard in front of the Presidential Office Sunday, drawing about 2,000 people calling for an end to the use of nuclear power in Taiwan.

The protest, held on the seventh anniversary of the meltdown of the Fukushima Daichi Nuclear Power Plant in northeast Japan on March 11, 2011, was organized by the National Nuclear Abolition Action Platform, an organization joined by hundreds of anti-nuclear civic groups from around Taiwan.

While pressing the government to decommission nuclear power plants as soon as possible, the other purpose of the Sunday’s demonstration was to prepare people for the potentially high cost of closing the nation’s three operating nuclear power plants and the disposal of nuclear waste, the organizer said.

Walking with protesters, Legislator Huang Kuo-chang (黃國昌) of the opposition New Power Party, said that as the government has already said Taiwan will be nuclear free by 2025, it should move forward with the plan, but is instead going backwards.

The recent approval of the reactivation of the second reactor at the Second Nuclear Power Plant after maintenance work is “obviously a backwards move,” Huang said.

The lawmaker named the nuclear plant as one of the most dangerous power plants on Earth due to its geographic position, in an area subject to volcanic, earthquake and tsunami activities, and raised safety concerns in the wake of reported radiation leaks and explosions in the past.

Three major demands were made during the protest, including on the disposal of nuclear waste, a transition to environmentally-friendly energy sources and the decommissioning or re-purposing of nuclear power plants in the country.

Northern Coast Anti-Nuclear Motion League member Chiang Ying-mei (江櫻梅) urged the government to proactively address the thorny problem of nuclear waste disposal, calling for the fast-tracking of three bills detailing the management of nuclear waste.

The bills include one on nuclear waste disposal, which is being considered by the Cabinet; the second on the establishment of a nuclear waste management center, which has been delivered to the Legislature for review; and the third involves revisions of provisions governing the management of radioactive materials.

(

March 14, 2018 Posted by | opposition to nuclear, Taiwan | Leave a comment

Japan’s Fukushima Survivors are stigmatised

‘You’re Contaminated’: The Stigma Against Japan’s Fukushima Survivors ,   A 2011 quake and tsunami led to a meltdown at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant, killing thousands and displacing more. Two ‘nuclear refugees’ explain why returning home is more complicated than it seems. https://broadly.vice.com/en_us/article/mb5zny/japan-fukushima-earthquake-survivors-stigma, Bobbie van der List, 

This month marks the seventh anniversary of the triple disaster that hit the east coast of Japan on March 11, 2011, when a 9.1 magnitude quake and tsunami led to a meltdown at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant. Almost 16,000 people were declared dead.

While the nuclear disaster is becoming a distant memory for most Japanese, for some others it is their everyday reality. Nuclear refugees and evacuees face discrimination, separation from loved ones, and in some cases, they are even forced to return to the former evacuation zone.

The government, worried about people getting exposed to radiation, declared a 20-km evacuation zone around the plant and uprooted close to 165,000 people. As of today, there are still 50,000 people who haven’t returned to Fukushima.

Keiko Owada, 66, is one of them. When I meet her in Tokyo, she refers to the Japanese capital as her home for the past seven years. That will soon change due to the government’s decision to withdraw her free housing subsidies.

Because decontamination work has made progress and food declared safe from radiation, it has been deemed safe to return to most villages within the evacuation zone. The same goes for Owada’s village Naraha, where the evacuation order was lifted two years ago.

Owada is not excited about the prospect of returning to Naraha. “Would I continue to get financial support for my apartment here in Tokyo, I would have stayed here, yes. I’ll tell you why: there is no hospital in Naraha, only a small hospital for first aid. There is no supermarket, only a small convenience store. And the reason is simple: only a few people have returned.”

Life as an evacuee hasn’t always been easy, Owada explains. “It wasn’t like people were treating me any different, but my neighbors never greeted me. I think it’s because of the compensation I received and the free housing. They knew I was from Fukushima, that’s why.”

According to Owada, some of the other evacuees in Tokyo she knows have faced harsher treatment. “I know of others whose cars were damaged on purpose because they had a Fukushima license plate. That’s why I never parked my car in the middle of the parking lot, but always in a corner, so no one could see it.”

If anything, Owada’s story illustrates how many evacuees continued to live in fear. Displaced from their homes, dropped in a new community—the disaster is anything but over for them.

As an evacuee in Tokyo, Owada went back to Fukushima on numerous occasions. She can still recall her first time back in June 2011. The town of Naraha was still a no-go-area, and she and her family only had one hour to visit. “We wore protective clothes against radiation, with only a small plastic bag for gathering some personal belongings. We had too little time, and the bag was too little for our entire family. But I can remember the smell—[there were] rats everywhere and small animals’ feces.”

Of course, there are things she misses about her old town, like growing vegetables and fruits on her land. But it doesn’t take away the concerns she has about the dangers of radiation exposure, despite the government’s reassurance that it is safe to live there.

“Even though the streets and houses are decontaminated, they didn’t even touch with mountains and forests. Radiation hasn’t been cleaned everywhere. My house is right next to the mountains, so my house might get contaminated.”

Akiko Kamata, 66, still remembers how she was surprised by the alarm warning for a tsunami in her village of Odaka. When I meet her at a Tokyo café, she recalls how she sheltered in Fukushima the first few weeks after the disaster. “I still remember taking my first bath after 10 days, it felt so good.”

When Kamata got in touch with relatives living in other parts of Japan, she was shocked to hear one sister-in-law’s initial response. “After the disaster, I wanted to flee to Chiba [a prefecture next to Tokyo], my sister-in-law picked up the telephone and told me I didn’t have to come to their house. ‘You’re contaminated,’ she told me.” 

Eventually she did manage to find a place in Chiba, the region she grew up in as a child. “People were nice to us in Chiba. But still I noticed some skepticism. After I asked the regional authorities for financial support their answer was, ‘No, people in Chiba are victims of the earthquake as well.’”

Kamata did receive a one-off compensation payment from TEPCO: 7 million yen per person, or just over $65,600. Her husband received a similar amount.

Although Kamata is thankful for the financial support, they have not been compensated for the loss of income from their family business in Odaka. “I’m thinking about calling in the help of an organization that specializes evacuees with these type of claims,” she says.

Kamata has decided not to return to Odaka. Her husband’s illness (he suffers from a nerve disease that makes him reliant on Kamata’s support) got worse during the evacuation. She fears that it might worsen if they move back to Fukushima.

As Kamata remembers what life was like back in Fukushima, she uses a handkerchief to wipe a tear from her cheek. She barely speaks to her friends anymore.

“The disaster divided our communities, both physically as well as mentally. People got separated. One friend of mine in Chiba is thinking about divorcing her husband. He wants her to come back to Fukushima, but she doesn’t want this. One reason is exposure to radiation, but there are more reasons, such as her child’s school and the fact that they’ve gotten used to life in Tokyo.”

There is one more story she would like to share, Kamata says while crying. “One friend of mine is a farmer in Odaka. She had 10 cows. They evacuated to Chiba just like me and couldn’t go back to Fukushima to feed the cows. Once they could return for the first time to check on the animals, only three of them were still alive. The others died from starvation, and they were all looking at the same direction—the road the farmers would come from to feed them.”

March 14, 2018 Posted by | Fukushima continuing, PERSONAL STORIES, social effects | Leave a comment

Seven years after Fukushima disaster ghost towns remain

 news.com.au, Mar 13, 2018 “………On Sunday, residents along the coast gathered outdoors to remember the tragedy as sirens wailed at 2.46pm, the moment the magnitude-9.0 offshore earthquake that set off the tsunami struck on March 11, 2011……..

Cleaning up the still-radioactive Fukushima nuclear plant site remains a daunting challenge that is expected to take 30 to 40 years.

A government-commissioned group of experts concluded last Wednesday that a costly underground ice wall is only partially effective in reducing the ever-growing amount of contaminated water at Japan’s destroyed Fukushima nuclear plant, and said other measures are needed as well.

…….. The groundwater mixes with radioactive water leaking from the damaged reactors.

Contaminated water also results from rainwater that comes in contact with tainted soil and structures at the plant, which suffered meltdowns of three reactors after a March 2011 earthquake and tsunami.…….. https://www.9news.com.au/world/2018/03/13/17/29/seven-years-after-fukushima-nuclear-disaster-communities-remain-ghost-towns

March 14, 2018 Posted by | general | Leave a comment