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Tons of Japanese nuclear waste may be destined for overseas disposal

A steam generator is being replaced at the Mihama nuclear plant’s No. 3 unit.

April 17, 2022

TOKYO (Kyodo) — Japan’s nuclear power plants have over 57,000 tons of large equipment that have, or will in time, become radioactive industrial waste and may be destined to be disposed of overseas, a tally of electric power company data showed Saturday.

The scale of the would-be hazardous waste underscores the ongoing move within the government to reexamine a rule banning the exports of radioactive waste at a time when few municipalities are willing to accept such waste.

Creating an exception to the rule under the foreign exchange law would allow power companies to commission contractors overseas to dispose of certain types of large equipment on the condition they are recycled in the destination countries.

But critics say radioactive waste created in Japan should not be forced on other countries and that such waste should be recycled domestically by improving related disposal technology.

The tally showed nuclear power plants in the country had 57,230 tons of the large equipment, including those still in use, at the end of March.

The equipment in question comes in three types. Steam generators create steam used to generate electricity, while feedwater heaters heat the water that goes back into a reactor and casings are used to store or transport spent nuclear fuel.

This photo shows a feedwater heater at the Fukushima Daini nuclear plant’s No. 1 unit.

For example, there are 37 used steam generators, weighing a total of 12,000 tons, according to the tally. Twenty-two generators, or 7,500 tons, remain at reactors to be decommissioned, while another 51 units, or 15,300 tons, are still in use.

The crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant has 3,360 tons of spent nuclear fuel casings. But the industry ministry says it sees no scenario in which waste emerging from the plant’s decommissioning process would be disposed of overseas.

The tally did not include data on the Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings Inc. plant. Tohoku Electric Power Co. declined to provide data.

Decommissioning of nuclear reactors is expected to speed up from the mid-2020s in Japan, with an attendant increase in radioactive waste. Already, 24 commercial reactors are due to be decommissioned.

This photo shows a spent nuclear fuel casing.

Radioactive waste is expected to be buried underground, depending on its pollution levels. But few disposal sites have been picked, leaving the handling of large reactor equipment, in particular, in limbo.

A steam generator is a large cylindrical metal object that is 20 meters long and weighs 300 tons. Because of its size, it cannot be easily cut up, encased in drums and buried.

Kansai Electric Power Co. has 21 generators stored away on its premises. “We are concerned about having little room left on our premises (at power plants) going forward as it would impact decommissioning work,” a company source said.

“It is virtually impossible to dispose of the waste domestically. The regulatory reconsideration is a gleam of hope for the waste issue that is at a dead-end,” the source added, expressing hope for overseas disposal.

One company the Japanese side is talking with about possible waste export is EnergySolutions Inc., a U.S. nuclear service company and a major player in the reactor decommissioning business.

The Utah-based company has processed over 60,000 tons of waste produced in reactor decommissioning in and outside of the United States.

A company official expressed confidence that it can process not just the three types of large reactor equipment under consideration for export, but other waste, such as metals from the Fukushima Daiichi plant.

Tatsujiro Suzuki, a Nagasaki University professor, who served as an acting head of the government’s Atomic Energy Commission, is critical of the envisioned disposal of radioactive waste overseas.

“This is what you get when the state has failed to seriously discuss what to do with waste,” Suzuki said, warning that it is a slippery slope and could lead to an export of waste from the Fukushima nuclear disaster.

“It is sheer irresponsibility when looked at from the principle that disposal must be done in one’s own country.”


April 17, 2022 Posted by | Japan | | 1 Comment

First Supreme Court Argument in Class Action Lawsuit by Evacuees from Nuclear Power Plant Accident: about Accepting the State’s Responsibility.

TEPCO’s Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant = March 2012 photo

April 15, 2022
On March 15, the Supreme Court Second Petty Bench (Chief Justice Hiroyuki Kanno) heard arguments in a lawsuit filed by residents who evacuated from Fukushima Prefecture to Chiba Prefecture following the accident at TEPCO’s Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant, seeking damages from the government and TEPCO. The Supreme Court is expected to render a unified judgment on the state’s responsibility by this summer. The Supreme Court is expected to render a unified judgment on the state’s responsibility this summer. The date of the judgment will be set at a later date.
 This is the first time for the Supreme Court to hear arguments in class action lawsuits of the same type filed in various regions. The others are scheduled for May 22 in Gunma, May 25 in Fukushima, and May 16 in Ehime. At the high court stage, the court decisions in Chiba, Fukushima, and Ehime recognized the government’s responsibility, while Gunma denied it, leading to a split conclusion.
 On May 15, the plaintiffs also made statements. Tetsuya Komaru, 92, who evacuated from Namie Town, Fukushima Prefecture, to Chiba Prefecture and now lives in Yokohama, said, “My ancestral home, my house, fields, and forests were contaminated, and I lost everything I had built up over my life. I want the Supreme Court to clearly recognize the government’s responsibility without being beholden to the government.
 In their arguments, the government argued that the government’s “long-term evaluation” of earthquake forecasts, which was a point of contention in the first and second trials, “was not considered a view that should be incorporated into nuclear power regulations at the time. As for tsunami countermeasures, the government argued that “even if countermeasures had been taken, the accident could not have been prevented because the tsunami was completely different from what had been anticipated.
 The residents pointed out that “the long-term assessment is scientific knowledge with a rational basis. If the government, which has regulatory authority, had instructed TEPCO to take countermeasures and had constructed seawalls and made the reactor buildings watertight, the accident would likely have been avoided, they said.
 Last month, the Supreme Court upheld a second trial ruling that ordered TEPCO to pay compensation in an amount that exceeded the “interim guidelines,” the government’s standard for compensation for all cases. A total of 1.43 billion yen was ordered to be paid to approximately 3,700 plaintiffs. (Keiichi Ozawa)

April 17, 2022 Posted by | Fuk 2022 | , , | Leave a comment

Japan’s nuclear regulator to okay release of treated water from Fukushima plant

April 15, 2022

Japan’s nuclear regulator has largely approved a plan to release treated water from the crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant into the ocean.

The plant suffered triple meltdowns in the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami disaster. Water is used to cool molten nuclear fuel. It mixes with rain and groundwater that flows into damaged reactor buildings.

The water is treated to remove most of the radioactive materials, but still contains radioactive tritium.

The Japanese government plans to dilute treated water that continues to accumulate at the plant to levels below national regulations and start releasing it from around spring 2023.

The Nuclear Regulation Authority has been inspecting the plan drawn up by plant operator Tokyo Electric Power Company.

In 13 meetings since December, the NRA discussed the safety of the new facility to be built for the water release and the maximum concentration of radioactive tritium when it is released. It also considered how to respond in natural disasters and other emergencies, and the effect of radiation exposure on the surrounding environment and people.

At Friday’s meeting, an official of the NRA secretariat said there are no issues left that have not been discussed enough.

The NRA plans to put together a draft inspection document as early as next month that effectively indicates the plan’s approval.

TEPCO plans to start construction on a facility for diluting treated water and an undersea tunnel once the NRA approves the plan and the utility obtains consent from Fukushima Prefecture and local communities. TEPCO aims to complete the construction work by mid-April next year.

TEPCO has yet to convince and gain understanding from local fishers who are concerned about reputational damage from the release of treated water into the sea.

April 17, 2022 Posted by | Fuk 2022 | , , , | Leave a comment

Japan severely breaches obligations under international law by persisting in discharge of nuclear-contaminated water into ocean

April 15, 2022

Japan is being extremely selfish and irresponsible by willfully clinging to its decision to release nuclear-contaminated water into the ocean in disregard of the strong opposition of the international community.

Its despicable act constitutes gross infringement of the legitimate rights and interests of its neighboring countries, severe breach of international justice and its obligations under international law, and major threat to the marine environment and the right to health of people around the world.

On April 13, 2021, the Japanese government unilaterally decided to dump a massive amount of nuclear-contaminated water from the crippled Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant operated by Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO) into the ocean despite doubts and opposition from home and abroad.

One year has passed since Japan announced the erroneous decision and the country still hasn’t realized how terrible a mistake it is. According to a plan recently released by TEPCO for the disposal of nuclear-contaminated water generated by Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant, the country will soon begin official preparations for the release of the contaminated water and plans to begin long-term discharge of radioactive water into the Pacific Ocean in the spring of 2023.

While Japan opted for the discharge of the contaminated water into the ocean, an option with the least economic cost to itself, it posed the biggest environmental health and safety risk to the world. What an act of selfish calculation!

Data from TEPCO showed that the contaminated water from the Fukushima nuclear accident still contains many kinds of radionuclides with a long half-life even after secondary treatment.

Japan plans to release more than one million tons of nuclear-contaminated water over a period of 30 years. The amount it intends to discharge, the duration of the release, the sea area covered, and potential risks that can be generated by the activity are all unprecedented.

The decision has aroused deep concerns and strong opposition from all sectors of society even at home. About 180,000 people in Japan recently signed a petition against the decision to dump nuclear-contaminated water into the ocean. Several organizations in Japan, including the National Federation of Fisheries Cooperative Associations, have reiterated their opposition to the decision.

According to an article published on Fukushima Minpo, a newspaper based in Fukushima prefecture of Japan, the Japanese government should respect the opinions of its citizens, listen to the voices of local residents, and terminate the plan to discharge nuclear-contaminated water into the ocean.

As a signatory to the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, the Convention on Early Notification of a Nuclear Accident, the Convention on Nuclear Safety, and the Joint Convention on the Safety of Spent Fuel Management and the Safety of Radioactive Waste Management, Japan has knowingly breached its obligations under international law.

It didn’t conduct full consultation with its neighboring countries and other stakeholders before announcing its decision to discharge nuclear-contaminated water into the ocean. After its announcement of the decision, many countries, including China, South Korea, Russia, and the Philippines, as well as relevant international institutions, have expressed concerns over the issue and raised doubts and concerns with the Japanese side over the legitimacy of the discharge of the nuclear-contaminated water into the ocean, the rationality of the discharge plan, the credibility of data about the nuclear contaminated water and the reliability of the equipment to purify the nuclear-contaminated water.

However, to this day, Japan has yet to give a full and credible explanation for its decision and serious responses to relevant doubts and concerns.

People in Japan’s neighboring countries and countries on the Pacific Rim have rights to health and life as well as the environment. Japan, on the other hand, wants to make short-term money at the expense of these rights.

The United Nations (UN) Human Rights Council released a report urging that the Japanese government should face up to its responsibility for the disposal of nuclear-contaminated water.

In a joint statement, U.N. human rights experts said that Japan’s decision to release contaminated water from the destroyed Fukushima nuclear plant into the ocean is “particularly disappointing” and “very concerning”.

“The release of one million tons of contaminated water into the marine environment imposes considerable risks to the full enjoyment of human rights of concerned populations in and beyond the borders of Japan,” they said in the joint statement.

The international community has frequently expressed voices of justice, such as “The Pacific is not a dumping ground for radioactive waste water” and “keep our Pacific nuclear-free”. However, Japan has turned a deaf ear to all of them.

In this February, a technical working group of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) visited Japan for the first time and raised many questions to the Japanese side about its controversial plan to release radioactive water into the Pacific Ocean. Evaluation of the disposal of the nuclear-contaminated water at the Fukushima nuclear power plant is still in progress.

Surprisingly, Japan has not only ignored the concerns of various parties over the discharge of its nuclear-contaminated wastewater, but preset results for the evaluation conducted by the IAEA technical working group. The country repeatedly concealed information and covered up the truth.

When doubts about its decision to dump radioactive water into the ocean poured in, the country made no attempt to reflect on the legitimacy of the decision and correct its mistake, but blamed those who doubted its decision for damaging its reputation.

The Japanese side should know that no matter what it does to whitewash the plan to release the nuclear-contaminated water into the ocean, it would only increase the international community’s concerns.

The disposal of the nuclear-contaminated water is never Japan’s private matter. Instead, it bears on the marine environment and public health of the whole world.

Japan should pay careful attention to and respond to the concerns of its neighboring countries and other members of the international community, stop pushing forward with preparations for the discharge of the nuclear-contaminated water into the ocean, and withdraw its erroneous decision, so as to avoid further damage to its credibility.

(Zhong Sheng is a pen name often used by People’s Daily to express its views on foreign policy and international affairs.)

April 17, 2022 Posted by | Fuk 2022 | , , | Leave a comment

Japan’s planned release of radioactive wastewater draws concern.

April 14, 2022

It’s been exactly one year since the Japanese government announced its decision to continuously release Fukushima’s radioactive wastewater into the Pacific Ocean. Concerns and protests were heard in #Japan and beyond. #nuclear#environment

April 17, 2022 Posted by | Fuk 2022 | , , | Leave a comment

Protests in various locations demanding withdrawal of ocean discharge of treated water from TEPCO’s Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant.

Participants appeal for the withdrawal of the policy of discharging treated water stored at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant into the ocean on April 13, 2022, in Nagatacho, Tokyo.

April 13, 2022
On the 13th, one year after the government decided to discharge treated water from TEPCO’s Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant (Okuma and Futaba, Fukushima Prefecture) into the ocean, protests were held in various locations, with participants calling for the withdrawal of the policy.
 In front of the House of Representatives building in Nagata-cho, Tokyo, about 40 people participated in response to a call from the “Sayonara NPP 10 Million People Action Executive Committee” and other groups. Holding up banners, they shouted “Don’t pollute the sea in Fukushima” and “Listen to the voices of the people of Fukushima.
 The participants made speeches in turn toward the Diet building. Taeko Fujimura, 67, a member of the National Trade Union Liaison Council, criticized the government and TEPCO, saying, “The government and TEPCO promised the Fukushima Prefectural Fisheries Federation that they would not discharge the waste into the ocean without their understanding, but they unilaterally decided on the policy and have not explained it in good faith to the public. No matter how much we dilute it with seawater, it is inevitable that a large amount of radioactive materials will spread into the ocean. There must be something more that can be done, such as finding a way to continue storing the radioactive materials instead of discharging them.
 Toshihiro Inoue, 63, a member of the executive committee secretariat, said, “The government has forcibly decided on this policy, and even after a year, it has not withdrawn it in spite of opposition. The global environment must not be further destroyed by radioactive pollution. Let’s continue to raise our voices in opposition.
 The executive committee held protests at more than 10 locations in Tokyo and eight prefectures in Saitama, Yamagata, Aichi, Osaka, Okayama, Fukuoka, and Kagoshima.
 The environmental group FoE Japan also held an online press conference on the same day, calling for storage of the treated water in large tanks and solidification with cement. Don’t pollute the sea any more!” Chiyo Oda, co-chairperson of the “Citizens’ Council,” said, “Once released, it is irreversible. Artificially spreading radioactive materials will spread the effects of the accident and must not be tolerated. (Kenta Onozawa)

April 17, 2022 Posted by | Fuk 2022 | , , | Leave a comment

Don’t discharge contaminated water into the sea! Nationwide simultaneous standing in Iwaki

April 13, 2022
On April 13, 2021, one year after the government decided on the disposal of contaminated water stored in tanks from the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant accident, in violation of its promise to the fishing industry that no disposal would take place without the understanding of all concerned parties, and ignoring the opposition and cautious opinions of 70% of the local government councils in Fukushima Prefecture and the opposition of many Fukushima residents One year has passed. 
 On April 13, “April 13 National Simultaneous Standing in Iwaki Against Discharge of Contaminated Water from Nuclear Power Plants into the Sea” was held near the entrance intersection of Aquamarine Fukushima at Onahama Port in Iwaki City.
 Since last June, we have been calling for a monthly standing on the 13th of every month, “Don’t pollute the sea any more! Citizens’ Council”, which has been calling for standing on the 13th every month since June last year, started the event after noon with the slogan “Protect our hometown oceans! Protect our fisheries! Protect our children!” From 12:30 p.m., about 20 participants spoke against the discharge of contaminated water into the ocean from their respective standpoints.
 Mr. Oda, the co-chairperson of the event, said, “One year has passed since the government’s decision on April 13 to discharge contaminated water into the ocean, so let’s not pollute the sea any more! He reported on the release of the “Appeal” and the citizens’ groups’ online joint press conference, and appealed, “We will continue to raise our voices to protect our precious daily lives. Mr. Yoneyama of the Citizens’ Council also spoke with the Citizens’ Circle to Monitor Nuclear Regulations, FoE Japan, an international environmental NGO, and Don’t Pollute the Sea Anymore! The report was based on the “Submission of a written request and negotiations with TEPCO and the government demanding the cessation of the discharge of contaminated water from the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant” held on March 29 by four organizations: the Citizens’ Council of Japan, the Kansai Liaison Conference for the Evacuation Plan, and the Kansai Liaison Conference for the Evacuation Plan. The speaker appealed to the audience. Prefectural Councilor Furuichi also reported on how the Fukushima Prefectural Assembly continued to review the “petition for a cautious response to the application for prior consent regarding the ALPS process water discharge facility” submitted to the assembly, and stressed the significance of citizens’ continued opposition activities. Mr. Yuzuru Suzuki, professor emeritus at the University of Tokyo and former director of the Fisheries Experiment Station, also spoke about what would happen to fish if tritium and other contaminated water were to be released, saying that they are currently in the process of collecting data before the release of water. He expressed his determination that even if the release of contaminated water were to be forced, he would continue marine research to clarify the effects of radiation and force the cancellation of the project. After this, citizens continued to demonstrate their will by making one appeal after another.
 The public comment on the draft review report will be held once the review meeting for the “Application for Approval of Changes to the Implementation Plan” for the basic design of the “ALPS process water” dilution and discharge system and related facilities, which TEPCO applied to the Nuclear Regulation Authority at the end of last year, is completed on March 15. After that, if Fukushima Prefecture, Okuma Town, and Futaba Town give their approval to the “Request for Prior Approval,” construction will begin in June.
 The oceans of our hometown, the oceans of Japan, and the oceans of the world must not be further polluted by radiation.
 Let’s not allow the construction of the discharge facility to start in June, and let’s spread our voices of opposition and our standing circle across the country and the world like a ripple to a giant wave in order to stop the discharge of radioactive materials one year later.
 On May 13, together with standing, we will prepare and call for an action to demand the halt of the start of construction of the discharge facility.
 Let us all protect the oceans of our hometown, the oceans of Japan, and the oceans of the world.

April 17, 2022 Posted by | Fuk 2022 | , , | Leave a comment

One year after the decision to discharge contaminated water into the ocean: Three videos on contaminated water from ALPS treatment released

April 13, 2022
On April 13, 2021, the government decided to release ALPS-treated contaminated water into the ocean.

The water stored in the tanks, once treated by ALPS, contains not only tritium but also residual radioactive materials such as cesium-134, cesium-137, strontium-90, iodine-129, and plutonium, exceeding the standard in about 70% of the cases. TEPCO has stated that it will conduct secondary treatment, but has not clarified which radioactive materials will ultimately remain and how much.

In August 2015, the government and TEPCO promised the Fukushima Prefectural Fisheries Federation that they would not carry out any disposal without the understanding of all concerned. After the decision to discharge the waste into the ocean, TEPCO President Kobayakawa stated, “We have no intention of reneging on our promise. However, despite the opposition of fishermen, consumers, and a wide range of citizens in and outside of Fukushima Prefecture, procedures are steadily underway to release the waste into the ocean.

Against this backdrop, FoE Japan has created a series of short videos to get people to think about the issue of discharging contaminated water from the ALPS process into the ocean. The videos pick up on various issues surrounding ALPS-treated contaminated water. What is contaminated water? What’s in it?” , “What is tritium?” , “What are the alternatives?” and “What do the people have to say?” (to be released) (each is less than 2 minutes and 20 seconds). Please take a look.

1 What is contaminated water? What is contained?

2 What is tritium?

3 What is the alternative?

April 17, 2022 Posted by | Fuk 2022 | , , | Leave a comment

Fukushima Thyroid Examination October 2021: 221 Surgically Confirmed as Thyroid Cancer Among 266 Cytology Suspected Cases


    On October 15, 2021, the 43rd session of the Oversight Committee for the Fukushima Health Management Survey (FHMS) convened online and in Fukushima City, releasing a new set of results (data up to June 30, 2021) from the fourth and fifth rounds of the Thyroid Ultrasound Examination (TUE).  The fifth-round data reported this time includes the confirmatory examination results. In addition, a corrected version of the results was released for the Age 25 Milestone Screening originally reported in July 2021. 

    The 43rd session was the first session of a new two-year term (August 2021-July 2023) for 18 committee members, including 6 new members. (Regrettably, a long-time committee member Fumiko Kasuga, who steadfastly advocated for release of more clinical information as well as inclusion of feedbacks from participants and their families, is no longer included.)  A roster for the Thyroid Examination Evaluation Subcommittee was also released, but there was no change. It was revealed that there was no target date for the release of an interim summary for the third round.

   At this time, an official English translation is available up to the 40th session of the Oversight Committee on the website for the Radiation Medical Science Center of the Fukushima Health Management Survey (RMSC/FHMS). The final results of the third round, released at the 39th session in August 2020, is finally available in English on pages 2-20 of this report.


  • The fourth round: 3 new cases diagnosed as suspicious or malignant, and 2 new surgical cases. 
  • The fifth round: 3 new cases diagnosed as suspicious or malignant, and 1 new surgical case
  • Total number of suspected/confirmed thyroid cancer has increased by 6 to 266116 in the first round (including a single case of benign tumor), 71 in the second round, 31 in the third round, 36 in the fourth round, 3 in the fifth round, and 9 in Age 25 Milestone Screening.
  • Total number of surgically confirmed thyroid cancer cases has increased by 3 to 221 (101 in the first round, 55 in the second round, 29 in the third round, 29 in the fourth round, 1 in the fifth round, and 6 in Age 25 Milestone Screening,

The latest overall results including the “unreported” and cancer registry cases

    Please refer to the previous post regarding details of “unreported” cases and cancer registry data.

    Official count, as reported in the summary document shown in the next section, is 266 suspected/confirmed and 221 surgically confirmed thyroid cancer cases. An addition of more recent “unreported” cases as well as “outside” cases discovered in cancer registry makes the count a little more complete with 325 cytologically suspected/confirmed and 264 surgically confirmed cancer cases. It should be noted that the actual number of cases is likely more than these as no exhaustive investigation has been and will be conducted by FMU to fully report all the cancer cases discovered outside the framework of the FHMS-TUE.

Summary on the current status of the TUE

    A six-page summary of the first through fifth rounds as well as the Age 25 Milestone Screening, “The Status of the Thyroid Ultrasound Examination Results,” lists key findings from the primary and confirmatory examinations as well as the surgical information. 

    Below is an unofficial translation of this summary which is not officially translated.

#43 Status of the Thyroid Ultrasound Examination Results (October 15, 2021) by Yuri Hiranuma on Scribd

April 17, 2022 Posted by | Fuk 2022 | , | Leave a comment