The News That Matters about the Nuclear Industry Fukushima Chernobyl Mayak Three Mile Island Atomic Testing Radiation Isotope

U.S. loses plane, crew in NATO exercise in Arctic — Anti-bellum

Xinhua News AgencyMarch 19, 2022 U.S. military aircraft crashes in Norway A U.S. plane with four crews taking part in a NATO exercise crashed in northern Norway on Friday, confirmed Hovedredningssentral (HRS), or the Joint rescue coordination center, in Northern Norway. The Bell-Boeing V-22 Osprey, a twin-engine vertical take-off military aircraft, was on a training […]

U.S. loses plane, crew in NATO exercise in Arctic — Anti-bellum

March 20, 2022 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

The path to survival is clear — IPPNW peace and health blog

[On 16 March, Dr. James Muller, one of IPPNW’s co-founders, addressed the Russian Academy of Science about the dangers of nuclear war. His 15-minute speech, delivered in Russian in a video stream from Boston, was also broadcast on a Russian scientific channel. Dr. Muller’s entire address, in English, follows.] Dr. Muller, second from left, at […]

The path to survival is clear — IPPNW peace and health blog

March 20, 2022 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Container containing radioactive waste collapses, Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant, storage method issues come to light

March 20, 2022
 A series of radioactive waste containers stored outdoors at TEPCO’s Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant were toppled and tilted by an earthquake late at night on March 16. Similar damage occurred during the Fukushima earthquake in February of last year, highlighting once again the challenges of storage methods. TEPCO is continuing to take stopgap measures until the waste is transferred to an indoor storage facility, but the Nuclear Regulation Authority is ready to request that more aggressive measures be taken.

Container containing used protective clothing that was toppled by the earthquake. Radiation levels were very low and had no impact on the surrounding environment (courtesy of TEPCO).

Four units damaged, contents outside

 As of January 19, there were a total of eight 1 meter square containers known to have toppled over. Four of them were damaged and their contents were exposed. All of them contained low-dose used protective clothing. Several other containers in two other groups of containers covered with sheets also toppled over.

 Seventy-seven containers were tilted by the earthquake last February, and a total of 12 units toppled over at two locations. Some of the containers were four-tiered, and the shaking of the earthquake broke the connecting fittings, etc. Although the containers were re-stacked two or three-tiered and the bottom foundations were reinforced, the damage could not be prevented this time either.

 In March of last year, one corroded waste container leaked a high dose of radioactive material onto the ground, which flowed into the port through a drainage channel. In July of the same year, rainwater that had entered a container for contaminated soil overflowed from inside the container.

 A total of 85,500 outdoor waste containers are now in use. TEPCO inspected a total of 5,338 containers with a certain amount of surface radiation, and found that a total of 646 containers had corrosion or damage. Damage was found and emergency repairs were made. The risks associated with emergency evacuation-like waste management after the accident have become apparent.

A three-tiered container that was displaced by the earthquake. At this point, there is no danger of the container toppling over (courtesy of the Nuclear Regulation Authority).

Reduce risk outside the building.

 The Regulatory Commission is becoming increasingly aware of the problem. At a regular meeting on February 2, Chairman Toyoshi Sarada mentioned the option of temporarily storing outdoor waste underground by covering it with soil. He stated that it would be difficult to gain the understanding of the local community, but considering the risk of leakage, it would be undesirable to leave the waste above ground.

 TEPCO has announced a policy to remove all the contents of the containers to the storage facility by FY2028 to eliminate the outdoor storage, but there is no guarantee that an earthquake, typhoon, or other large-scale natural disaster will occur before the work is completed. There is no guarantee that this will not happen. If trouble occurs, it will lead to reputational damage to the local community.

 Shinsuke Yamanaka, a member of the Regulatory Commission who inspected a group of containers at the No. 1 nuclear power plant on March 17, touched on the issue of outdoor waste in an interview after the visit and stressed, “It is important to talk about the inside of the reactor buildings, but right now I want you to prioritize risk reduction outside the buildings. He also expressed his desire to ask TEPCO to come up with concrete measures.

Commissioner Yamanaka checking containers that were dislodged by the earthquake during his visit to the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant on March 17 (courtesy of the Nuclear Regulation Authority).
A group of containers with radioactive waste on the side of Units 5 and 6 at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant in Nov. 2021.

March 20, 2022 Posted by | Fuk 2022 | , , , , | Leave a comment

Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant, risk of earthquakes revealed… Failure of seismometers, building deterioration, tanks shifting….

March 20, 2021
 The earthquake that struck the Tohoku and Kanto regions on the evening of February 13, 2011, which had a maximum intensity of 6 on the Japanese seismic scale, revealed that seismometers at TEPCO’s Fukushima Daiichi plant had been removed more than four months earlier, highlighting the dangers posed by the plant, which was damaged in an accident 10 years ago, and the sloppy system in place at TEPCO. The earthquake was strong. With high radiation levels in the buildings making normal maintenance and inspections impossible, how can we ensure the safety of the ongoing work toward the “decommissioning” of the reactors, which has no end in sight?

◆Still removed after failure
 Akira Ono, chief executive officer of the Fukushima Daiichi Decommissioning Promotion Company, was forced to apologize at a press conference on February 25 because a seismograph that was supposed to have been installed in the Unit 3 reactor building had failed and had been removed.
 One of the two seismometers installed in the reactor building failed in July of last year when it got stuck in a pool of water, and three months later the other seismometer was out of commission. The top management was unaware of this fact for seven and a half months.
 The seismometers originally installed in Units 1 through 4 to determine the emergency shutdown of the reactors were rendered unusable by the tsunami and accident 10 years ago. In April of last year, TEPCO installed two of the earlier seismometers to monitor the shaking of the Unit 3 reactor building, which had been damaged by a hydrogen explosion, but in the end, none of the “valuable data” that Ono emphasizes was obtained.
 After the February earthquake, the water level in the containment vessels of Units 1 and 3, where melted-down nuclear fuel (debris) remains, dropped. It is believed that the damaged areas created during the accident have spread. The positions of 53 tanks that store contaminated water and other materials in the process of being cleaned up have also shifted by up to 19 centimeters. If the pipes connecting the tanks were to come loose, a large amount of contaminated water could leak out.
The extent of the damage is unknown.
 Making earthquake preparedness difficult is the high level of radiation in the building. One worker said, “I can’t see inside, so I don’t know how the damage is spreading.
 Katsumi Takiguchi, a professor emeritus at Tokyo Institute of Technology who specializes in reinforced concrete buildings, compiled a performance assessment of the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant buildings at a subcommittee of the Atomic Energy Society of Japan in 2019. He said, “Reactor buildings have walls that are 1.5 or 2 meters thick,” and pointed out that there is little fear of collapse.
 What concerns Takiguchi is the localized deterioration of the buildings. If the reinforcing steel in the walls rusts and swells, exposing the concrete, the rusting will accelerate, so cracks and other abnormalities must be noticed quickly. Although seismograph observations are valuable in detecting deterioration trends, he asserts, “They are not a substitute for visual inspections.

TEPCO’s Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant, where work to restore the plant after the accident continues, in the town of Okuma, Fukushima Prefecture, as seen from the company’s “Oozuru” helicopter.

◆ “TEPCO is losing its nerve.
 According to TEPCO, the exterior of the Unit 1-3 buildings has been visually inspected about once a year since FY19. Little is known about the inside of the buildings beyond a robotic survey conducted immediately after the accident. The company aims to conduct inspections with people inside the buildings after April of this year, which, if realized, will help strengthen countermeasures.
 However, it is essential to minimize the radiation exposure of the workers, and the method and frequency of inspections are still under consideration. Inspections of the reactor equipment in Units 1 through 3, where debris remains and the tops of the containment vessels are contaminated with extremely high concentrations of radioactive materials, will be extremely difficult.
 The safety of the site is also a top priority for the removal of spent nuclear fuel and debris from the pools. The number of veteran employees with knowledge of the accident has been reduced, and some workers are heard to say, “TEPCO is losing its sense of urgency. Mr. Ono, who is in charge of decommissioning the plant, said, “I think the plant was highly sensitive to the tsunami. We also have to think about earthquakes,” he stresses, “but will we be prepared in time? The next earthquake could come at any time.

March 20, 2022 Posted by | Fuk 2022 | , , , | Leave a comment

Ruling pressures Japan to set proper damages for Fukushima nuclear disaster

March 19, 2022 (Mainichi Japan)

The amount of compensation has been finalized in a series of class-action lawsuits brought by people affected by the disaster at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station managed by Tokyo Electric Power Co. Holdings (TEPCO). The Supreme Court rejected appeals filed by TEPCO in six cases.

It is a message from the judiciary that relief for victims of the unprecedented nuclear disaster is insufficient. In each of the cases, the amounts awarded exceeded the compensation standards set by the Japanese government. The administration should seriously take the judicial decision to heart, and the standards should be revised immediately.

According to the government’s standards, people who lived in what are now called “difficult-to-return” zones are entitled to 14.5 million yen (about $121,600) in compensation, while those who evacuated voluntarily are entitled to damages of 80,000 yen (about $670). The amount was determined with reference to liability insurance for traffic accidents.

However, those who were forced to evacuate or otherwise relocate were deprived of their lives in their hometowns and local community ties. And people who continued to live in those areas were unable to engage in agriculture, fishing or other such lines of work.

In six high court cases, the courts increased the amounts of compensation to several million yen above the government’s standards and expanded the areas eligible for compensation, among other measures. They judged that the government standards did not set compensation high enough for people who had lost the basis for their livelihoods and had seen their hometowns utterly transformed.

In particular, in a ruling on one case with about 3,600 plaintiffs, the court set compensation amounts by evacuation zone and area. There is accordingly room for those who did not take part in the suit to file for compensation in the future.

To advance relief in line with the actual situations of victims, there is an urgent need to raise the government’s standards and expand the areas eligible for redress. Local bodies in affected areas are also calling for reviews.

Meanwhile, TEPCO’s response is being questioned anew.

In court, TEPCO maintained that it could not accept compensation that exceeded the standards. It even went as far as to claim that the current standards were too high.

The nuclear disaster compensation system is not premised on a presumption of negligence by TEPCO. Yet there have been rulings pointing out inadequate safety measures. The company’s responsibility is extremely heavy.

TEPCO’s three pledges for compensation are: 1) Be sure every eligible person receives payment; 2) Be sure that compensation is given promptly and accurately; 3) Defer to the proposals of mediators on settlements. It should faithfully carry these pledges out.

Eleven years have passed since the outbreak of the nuclear disaster, and many people still have no option but to stay where they have evacuated to. A significant number have decided to relocate permanently to other areas. The government and TEPCO have a responsibility to compensate the people who suffered damage in good faith.

March 20, 2022 Posted by | Fuk 2022 | , , | Leave a comment

Radioactive iodine levels in primary cooling water at the Ikata Nuclear Power Plant Unit 3 increase threefold.

(From left) Units 3, 2, and 1 of Shikoku Electric Power Co.’s Ikata Nuclear Power Plant in Ikata Town, Ehime Prefecture, Japan, December 14, 2021; photo by Takao Kitamura from a Honsha helicopter.


Shikoku Electric Power Co. and Ehime Prefecture announced on April 18 that the concentration of radioactive iodine in the primary cooling water passing through the reactor at the No. 3 reactor of the Ikata Nuclear Power Plant (Ikata-cho, Ehime Prefecture) had risen to about three times the normal level. There is no external radiation impact, and the plant will continue to operate under enhanced monitoring. There is a possibility that a small hole has been made in the fuel rods and radioactive material is leaking out.

 According to the prefectural government, at around 5:45 p.m. on the 18th, the iodine concentration rose to 0.25 becquerels per cubic centimeter, up from the normal level of 0.09 becquerels per cubic centimeter. This is less than 1/120,000 of the operational limit (32,000 becquerels per cubic centimeter). Shikoku Electric Power Co. has increased the number of inspections from three times a week to once every three to four hours and will continue to monitor the situation.

March 20, 2022 Posted by | Japan | | Leave a comment

Containers toppled over, tanks shifted sideways Increasing radioactive waste poses risk due to earthquake at TEPCO’s Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant

March 18, 2022
The water level in the spent nuclear fuel pool in Unit 2 of TEPCO’s Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant (Okuma and Futaba, Fukushima Prefecture) dropped on March 17 after an earthquake measuring 6 on the Japanese seismic scale struck off the coast of Fukushima Prefecture, causing TEPCO to temporarily halt cooling of the pool. The number of waste materials continues to increase, and there is a risk that these materials could interfere with the work in the event of an earthquake.

Cooling of the spent fuel pool at Unit 2 was temporarily suspended at TEPCO’s Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant in Fukushima Prefecture on March 17 (from the Oozuru helicopter).

According to TEPCO, 615 pieces of nuclear fuel are stored in the Unit 2 pool.
 In the Unit 5 pool, where 1,542 pieces of nuclear fuel are stored, cooling automatically stopped and was restored in four and a half hours. Fire alarms were activated at three locations on the second floor of the turbine building of the same unit, but no abnormalities were found.
 In Unit 4, a steel frame (approximately 5.6 meters long and weighing approximately 200 kg), believed to be part of a beam, fell from a large cover placed over the top of the building to remove spent nuclear fuel. No one was injured, but a bolt securing the steel frame was broken.
 Of the approximately 1,000 tanks that store treated water, 85 were found to have shifted sideways, and some of them contained water in the process of purification, which has a relatively high level of radioactivity. The tanks are not secured to the ground to prevent damage, and while the displacement is to be expected, there is a risk of leakage if the piping connecting the tanks is damaged. Many of the tanks shifted during the earthquake in February of last year, and leaks were found at several locations this time.
 Containers containing radioactive waste stacked in the open on the site also toppled over one after another. At least six of them toppled over, exposing used protective clothing and scrap iron. There are approximately 85,000 containers, many of which were stacked without a plan. The workers were also exposed to radiation during inspections of these containers and the recovery of their contents.

In Unit 1, a remote-controlled robot has entered the containment vessel to inspect the condition of debris, including melted-down nuclear fuel. The concentration of radioactive materials in the reactor buildings temporarily increased after the earthquake. Although the level did not reach the level that would have set off an alarm, the investigation was suspended.
 Work was also halted on removing highly contaminated pipes between Units 1 and 2. The site was the highest radiation level outdoors and inaccessible to humans. The crane that hoists the remote-controlled cutting device weighs 800 tons and reaches a height of more than 100 meters. There are a total of three such cranes in the vicinity. Although the effects of the earthquake have not been confirmed, heavy machinery and temporary structures are crammed into the harsh environment under high radiation doses, and if they were to collapse, they would cause extensive damage.
 The earthquake also caused the cooling of the pool at the decommissioned Onagawa Unit 1 of Tohoku Electric Power Company’s Onagawa Nuclear Power Plant (Miyagi Prefecture) to stop, but it was restored around midnight on March 17. No abnormalities were found at Tohoku Electric’s Higashidori Nuclear Power Plant (Aomori Prefecture) and the Tokai No. 2 Nuclear Power Plant of the Japan Atomic Power Company (Ibaraki Prefecture), both of which are not in operation. (Kenta Onozawa)

March 20, 2022 Posted by | Fuk 2022 | , | Leave a comment

Fukushima’s Earthquakes Show That Risk Is Inevitable

Beware: This article has a pro-nuclear spin! Preparedness has nothing to do with it, with nuclear you can never expect the expected to happen.

By accepting risk and planning for failure, communities are more likely to survive catastrophes.

March 16, 2022

About the author: Juliette Kayyem, a former assistant secretary for homeland security under President Barack Obama, is the faculty chair of the homeland-security program at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government. She is the author of the forthcoming book The Devil Never Sleeps: Learning to Live in an Age of Disasters.

Two hundred feet up in the foothills that surround Aneyoshi, a tiny coastal village in Japan, warnings are engraved into the rocks. Most of the messages come from 19th-century survivors of large tsunamis that terrorized people along the coast. “High dwellings are the peace and harmony of our descendants,” one inscription declares. “Remember the calamity of the great tsunamis. Do not build any homes below this point.”

But more recent residents of coastal Japan did build below that point. Homes at first, but eventually nuclear facilities, which were built where they could be cooled by nearby ocean waters. On March 11, 2011, a massive undersea earthquake occurred east of Oshika Peninsula. The quake, which lasted six minutes and remains the fourth-most powerful ever recorded in the world, triggered tsunami waves that reached up to 130 feet above sea level. The rushing water ultimately led to a meltdown at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear facility, where a loss of power shut off the cooling system, resulting in hydrogen-gas accumulation. As surprised workers tried to cool the facility manually—using water from fire trucks—a gas buildup led to the expulsion of radioactive material into the atmosphere and groundwater. Part of Fukushima prefecture is still uninhabitable.

After the nuclear disasters at Three Mile Island in 1979 and Chernobyl in 1986, investigators blamed a combination of mechanical failure and operator error. The conventional narrative of Fukushima Daiichi’s demise has been somewhat more forgiving of the people running the plant that day. The earthquake and tsunami could not be blamed on them. The most fundamental error, news stories intimated, was putting a nuclear reactor in a location so obviously vulnerable to natural disaster. Previous generations had literally carved warnings in stone: Never again. Because TEPCO, the plant’s operator, had ignored them and built in a risky spot, tragedy was all but inevitable.

This made a tidy story, except for one thing: The Onagawa nuclear-power plant also sits below the rock warnings, but it withstood the earthquake and tsunami. Onagawa was about 30 miles closer to the epicenter of the earthquake than the Daiichi facility was. It experienced the strongest ground shaking of any of the nuclear facilities in the area—or indeed of any nuclear facility in recorded history. Operated by the Tohoku Electric Power Company, the Onagawa reactor did not melt down. It suffered no serious damage. The differing fates of Fukushima Daiichi and Onagawa cannot be explained by the movement of the Earth, because neither plant heeded the century-old warnings.

Never again is a common refrain after traumatic disasters, but it’s also a hard promise to keep. Memories fade over time. But more important, societies change, and so do their risk calculations. Accepting risk is not itself a form of negligence; Japan needed domestic energy sources to power its economy in the decades after World War II, and nuclear-power plants near the coast became essential to the country’s growth. The problem at Fukushima—unlike at Onagawa—was that its designers and managers did not acknowledge or make provision for the risk they had undertaken, so the plant was unprepared when disaster struck.

This was a dangerous omission. Events that threaten human life and safety do not strike at random, nor are they particularly rare. Indeed, an earthquake off the coast of Fukushima today left millions of people in Japan without power—and put residents on alert once again for potential tsunamis. All modern societies face environmental hazards; rely on complex, and in some cases dangerous, technologies; and link up to global trade and transportation networks that move pathogens as well as people.

Onagawa’s strength was simple: The nuclear plant’s operators understood that failure was possible, perhaps even inevitable, so they committed themselves to failing safely. Like Fukushima Daiichi, Onagawa was located near the coast. But its designers had studied past tsunamis and built at an elevation several meters higher than that of its ill-fated counterpart. Long before the earthquake, Tohoku Electric had also required extensive emergency training and scenario planning, including for a massive tsunami, so Onagawa’s employees were ready to shut it down. Departing from the hierarchical norms of Japanese corporate culture, headquarters had delegated authority to the plant managers to react in the moment. Simply put, Onagawa’s employees had their act together. Fukushima’s owners had done far less to create a safety culture, and during the meltdown required leadership’s approval for every crisis decision. That doesn’t work in real time.

For most of my career, I have studied disasters, managed government responses to them, and advised elected leaders and business executives about how to plan for them. I have come to think that the very word disaster wrongly excuses us from the obligation to plan for failure. The word’s original meaning, from Middle French and Old Italian, comes from the prefix dis-, signifying a negative force, and astro, for star—implying that disruptive events occur only because the stars were aligned against us, not because of anything we did or didn’t do. The word catastrophe,derived from a Greek word meaning “sudden turn,” has a similar connotation: It’s just bad luck, befalling a passive population with no capacity to manage destruction that nobody could have foreseen.

But we should not be surprised by natural catastrophes, viral variants, sneak attacks, or other tragedies. The devil never sleeps, I argue in my forthcoming book. The good news is that the means to minimize the resulting harm from sudden shocks are always the same: making sure the risk is communicated and widely understood; preparing individuals to respond to a range of scenarios; ensuring redundancies in safety systems, so that none becomes the last line of defense; testing those systems; challenging the fallacy that a near miss implies immunity from a future calamity; and making adjustments after past mistakes.

People in my field describe the event precipitating a crisis—an earthquake, a hurricane, the emergence of a new virus—as the “boom,” and we divide time and human activity into two phases: “left of boom” and “right of boom.” The former includes the steps we take to prevent the boom from happening in the first place; the latter is what we do in the moments after, and then the weeks and months following, to minimize the harm. But we would be better prepared if we no longer viewed disasters as a surprise moment in time. A society that studiously prepares to fail safer—that makes preparation for what will happen right of boom—is a stronger one than a society that focuses a majority of its efforts on avoiding the failure itself.

Fukushima Daiichi’s operator, I should note, didn’t do enough of either. After the 1945 bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, many in Japan were deeply apprehensive about using nuclear energy to address the country’s needs. TEPCO, Japan’s leading nuclear-power operator, managed to convince itself that it had essentially eliminated any risk. According to Akihisa Shiozaki, a lawyer who organized an independent investigation of the Fukushima disaster, the country was sold a myth: “the absolute safeness” of nuclear power. A later government report blamed an industry mindset that ignored the possibility that even in a nuclear disaster, preparedness could go far in “limiting the consequential damage.” Instead, local opposition had to be managed as more nuclear reactors were built, which in many cases meant not talking about the potential for a worst-case scenario.

Not planning for the right of boom makes sudden shocks of all kinds—including the extreme weather events exacerbated by climate change—far more deadly than they might otherwise be. In 2017, Hurricane Maria struck Puerto Rico. To this day, we still do not know how many people died there. One reason death estimates varied so widely is that most of the deaths were not a direct result of the hurricane itself but downstream consequences of power outages. The losses cascaded: Without electricity, deprivations of water, food, and medicines left people vulnerable. Damage to power infrastructure is a predictable outcome of a hurricane. A faster restoration of the grid—in the absence of preparations that would have made it more resistant to failure in the first place—would have saved many lives.

This logic does not only apply after natural disasters. Before the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, the military had not adapted its battlefield-medicine rules for an age of urban warfare and improvised explosive devices. Existing rules prioritized carrying injured soldiers away from enemy lines to a medic tent or back to base. But those enemy lines were not always clearly defined in America’s post-9/11 conflicts, and many of the wounded bled to death before they could receive proper care. To prevent injuries to American soldiers, the Pentagon made massive investments in armor design and mine-resistant, ambush-protected light tactical vehicles to protect U.S. troops from harm. But those improvements were not enough. Right-of-boom protocols needed to evolve too: So the military began training field soldiers, most of whom were not medics, to use tourniquets right away to save the life of team members wounded in IED attacks. These efforts—which have since spawned a civilian public-awareness campaign called “Stop the Bleed”—were a way to minimize harm even after a life-threatening event had already occurred.

Planning to fail safely is different from trying to eliminate all risk—which is usually impossible. At this point two years into a global pandemic, for example, even stringent lockdowns are unlikely to prevent all transmission of the coronavirus. When the CDC recently decided to use rates of death and hospitalization, rather than overall infection, as its primary metrics for the severity of the problem, the agency implicitly chose to minimize the negative consequences of the virus rather than try to suppress it altogether. Furthermore, attempts to banish one kind of risk may make others worse. After the Fukushima disaster, Germany began phasing out nuclear power altogether—a decision that has left it more dependent on fossil fuel from Russia.

Deliberately accepting some risks, and then being prepared when disaster strikes, will serve human societies better than pretending we can achieve perfect safety. We cannot prevent an earthquake or a tsunami, but we have control over how much death and destruction it causes.

What happened at Fukushima wasn’t just bad fortune; Onagawa didn’t get lucky. Most people outside Japan have never heard of Onagawa because it was ready to fail under the same conditions that proved cataclysmic at Fukushima. And in disaster management, anonymity—not fame—is a sign of success.

March 20, 2022 Posted by | Fuk 2022 | , , | Leave a comment

Powerful Japan earthquake strikes off coast of Fukushima, killing four

Tsunami warning cancelled after quake cut power to 2m homes and damaged some buildings

March 17, 2022

A powerful 7.4 magnitude earthquake struck off the coast of Fukushima in north-east Japan on Wednesday evening, leaving four dead, and plunging more than 2m homes in the Tokyo area into darkness.

The region was devastated by a deadly 9.0 quake and tsunami 11 years ago that also triggered nuclear plant meltdowns, spewing massive radiation that still makes some parts uninhabitable.

The Japan Meteorological Agency later lifted its low risk tsunami advisory issued along the coasts of Fukushima and Miyagi early Thursday. Tsunami waves of 30cm (11in) reached shore in Ishinomaki, which lies about 390km (242 miles) north-east of Tokyo. The agency upgraded the magnitude of the quake to 7.4 from the initial 7.3.

Japan’s prime minister, Fumio Kishida, said four people had died and that the government would be on high alert for the possibility of further strong tremors over the next two to three days.

At least 107 people were reported injured, several of them seriously, with 4,300 households still without water by mid-morning. Residents of one Fukushima city formed a long queue in a car park to fill up plastic tanks with water for use at home.

Houses and other buildings in darkness in the Toshima ward of Tokyo.

NHK footage showed broken walls of a department store building fell to the ground and shards of windows scattered on the street near the main train station in Fukushima city, about 60km (36 miles) from the coastline. Roads were cracked and water poured out from pipes underground. Footage also showed furniture and appliances smashed to the floor at apartments in Fukushima.

The Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings, which operates the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant where the cooling systems failed after the 2011 disaster, said workers found no abnormalities at the site, which was in the process of being decommissioned.

Japan’s Nuclear Regulation Authority said a fire alarm went off at the turbine building of No 5 reactors at the Fukushima Daiichi but there was no actual fire. Water pumps for the spent fuel cooling pool at two of the four reactors at Fukushima Daini briefly stopped, but later resumed operation. Fukushima Daini, which survived the 2011 tsunami, is also set for decommissioning.

Manufacturers, including global chipmaker Renesas Electronics and automaker Toyota, said they were trying to gauge the potential damage to their facilities in the region.

The Japan Meteorological Agency said the quake hit at 11.36pm at a depth of 60km (36 miles) below the sea.

Japan’s Air Self-Defence Force said it sent fighter jets from the Hyakuri base in Ibaraki prefecture, just south of Fukushima, for information gathering and damage assessment.

More than 2.2m homes were temporarily without electricity in 14 prefectures, including the Tokyo region, but power was restored at most places by the morning, except for some homes in the hardest hit Fukushima and Miyagi prefectures, according to the Tohoku Electric Power Co which services the region.

The quake shook large parts of eastern Japan, including Tokyo, where buildings swayed violently.


East Japan Railway Co said most of its train services were suspended for safety checks. Some local trains later resumed service.

Many people formed long lines outside of major stations while waiting for trains to resume operation late Wednesday, but trains in Tokyo operated normally Thursday morning.

A Tohoku Shinkansen express train partially derailed between Fukushima and Miyagi due to the quake, but nobody was injured, Kishida said.

He told reporters that the government was assessing the extent of damage and promised to do its utmost for rescue and relief operations.

Chief cabinet secretary Hirokazu Matsuno said authorities were scrambling to assess damage. “We are doing our utmost in rescue operations and putting people’s lives first,” he said.

March 20, 2022 Posted by | Fuk 2022 | , , | Leave a comment

Contaminated soil piles up in vast Fukushima cleanup project

March 18, 2022

More than a decade of decontamination efforts around the crippled Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant has allowed thousands of evacuees to return home. But there are still some areas off limits due to the radiation levels. And as contaminated soil piles up, former residents are wondering when, or if, they will go back.

The cleanup work started soon after the nuclear accident in March 2011. The nuclear disaster discharged radioactive particles across Fukushima and neighboring prefectures. More than 70 percent of Fukushima’s municipalities were registering radiation levels above the national safety standard. Decontamination was key to making the region safe again and reviving local industries.

Workers have been removing radioactive topsoil, grass, trees, and building materials. The scale and expense of the project is vast. The Japanese government has already spent more than $43 billion on decontamination efforts.

Decontamination work started soon after the nuclear accident.

Storage facility worries residents

The contaminated soil and waste was piling up in residential areas and hindering reconstruction efforts, so the government decided to build temporary storage facilities on land stretching across the towns of Futaba and Okuma which host the nuclear plant. It occupies a 1,600-hectare site—nearly five times the size of New York’s Central Park.

Large amounts of contaminated soil and waste are brought in daily to the interim storage facility.

Since 2015, about 1,000 trucks have been arriving daily and dumping around 7,000 bags of soil. The Environment Ministry says workers have moved almost 13 million cubic meters of it so far.

The government introduced a law requiring the soil to be moved out of Fukushima Prefecture by 2045. But the people of Fukushima, especially those who used to live near the site, are worried it will become a permanent fixture.

“There is concern that this will become a final disposal site, but I understand that it’s inevitable that people will have to accept it,” says an 84-year-old man who once lived on the site. “I don’t think I will be alive in 30 years, but I want them to put my land back the way it was.”

Promising research

In a bid to reduce the overall amount of waste, crews are sorting the material at the facility to separate what can be burned. It is hoped that some of the soil can be reused.

Technology is being developed to allow the re-use of contaminated soil.

The Environment Ministry is looking at whether it can use the soil to grow vegetables or build roads. Research on food cultivation in the area has found radiation levels below official standards.

So far, the research has been limited to one district of Fukushima. The Environment Ministry is planning to commission further studies aim to help people understand what’s possible and, most importantly, what’s safe.

A final disposal site

The biggest challenge for the national government is to find suitable land outside of Fukushima for final disposal. Officials have been running a public awareness campaign to try to find support for a location. So far, no municipality has volunteered to be the host.

Despite the lack of progress, the government is adamant it remains committed to its deadline.

“We have promised the local government we will dispose of the waste outside the prefecture by March 2045,” says Environment Ministry official Hattori Hiroshi. “Since it is required by law, we will fulfill the promise. Of course, we are fully aware of the voices of concern from local people.”

High radiation zones remain

Officials say the project to transfer contaminated soil to an interim storage site will be largely completed by the end of this month, but in parts of Fukushima—including the towns of Futaba and Okuma—the radiation levels are relatively high and full-scale decontamination work has not yet begun. And more than 30,000 people still are not able to return their homes.

Barricades are set up around a “difficult-to-return” zone.

Not one of the former residents of Futaba has returned to live there full-time. Local officials are hoping to allow some back in June for the first time. But an official survey found that more than 60 percent of the former residents have no intention of returning. Only about one in ten said they want to return. Almost a quarter of respondents say they haven’t made their minds up yet.

Many of the evacuees have already restarted their lives elsewhere. The central and local governments are hoping they can attract new residents to the area and are offering $17,000 to anyone who makes the move.

But for those former residents undecided about returning, safety concerns are paramount. They want to know if the decontamination work will be completed and the soil will be moved. They also want more clarity about the decommissioning work at the crippled plant. The government has promised that will be completed by 2051 at the latest, but details are scant.

March 20, 2022 Posted by | Fuk 2022 | , , , | Leave a comment

Tsunami advisory lifted for northeastern Japan

March 16, 2022,

Japan’s meteorological agency has lifted a tsunami advisory it issued for the northeastern parts of the country following an earthquake off the Pacific coast.

The magnitude 7.4 earthquake struck at around 11:30 p.m. on Wednesday.

It had a maximum intensity of 6-plus on Japan’s seismic scale of zero to 7. The depth of the focus was estimated at 57 kilometers. Tremors were felt across much of eastern Japan.

Waves up to 30 centimeters were reported at Ishinomaki Port in Miyagi Prefecture.

Hundreds of people living along the coast in Fukushima and Miyagi evacuated to shelters.
Two deaths were reported, and more than 120 people were injured across the affected area.

There were also reports of structural damage and fires. The quake triggered blackouts for more than 2 million households and disrupted train services.

East Japan Railway says a Tohoku Shinkansen bullet train derailed between Fukushima and Shiroishizao stations.

None of the 75 passengers and three crewmembers aboard were injured. The company says 16 of the 17 cars are off the track.

Tokyo Electric Power Company says there have been no major problems or abnormalities at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, which was crippled by the 2011 disaster.

The utility says water pumps in spent fuel storage pools at two reactor buildings at the Fukushima Daini plant temporarily stopped working. No change was reported in radiation levels.

March 20, 2022 Posted by | Fuk 2022 | , , | Leave a comment