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The News That Matters about the Nuclear Industry

Japan’s TEPCO looking for international help to clean up Fukushima nuclear plant

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The call for partners follows two robotic failures during cleanup efforts at the plant last month

TOKYO—The Tokyo Electric Power Co. has issued a call for partners to help it decontaminate and decommission the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station.

The nuclear power plant was seriously damaged in 2011 by a tsunami triggered by a powerful offshore earthquake. The subsequent reactor meltdowns led to the release of radioactive material, which remains at high levels inside the plant six years after the accident.

The call for international collaboration follows two robotic failures inside Fukushima’s Unit 2 reactor last month. One cleaning robot was pulled out of the plant prematurely due to higher-than-expected radiation, while another had to be abandoned inside after its crawling function failed.

Earlier this month, Naohiro Masuda, the head of decommissioning at the plant said engineers will need to think ‘out of the box’ to develop robots capable of surveilling the plant.

TEPCO said it is particularly interested in consultants with on-site recycling methods that could reduce the amount of radioactive waste being generated—though it noted there are many other areas of expertise it’s interested in as well.

More details about the collaboration program are available here.

http://www.canadianmanufacturing.com/environment-and-safety/japans-tepco-looking-for-international-help-to-clean-up-fukushima-nuclear-plant-189081/

TEPCO is looking for partners that would realize innovative values and solutions to critical social issues.

Through challenging ourselves with new technology, dealing with various businesses, and making even greater use of the big data stored and created by TEPCO, we contribute to society’s development by creating new value for the lives and businesses of consumers and business people.

Co-creation will open new doors.

By partnering with you, we will be able to tackle issues we could not before. It is our mission to create better future by openly cooperating with everyone as we move forward.

https://tepco.cuusoo.com/#about

March 26, 2017 Posted by | Fukushima 2017 | , , | Leave a comment

The Robot Probe Cannot Confirm Where is the Melted Fuel of Unit 1

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Tokyo Electric Power Company announced on February 23 that it had completed a robot probe survey lasting five days in the reactor containment vessel of Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant Unit 1.

Its goal was to confirm the whereabout of the melted nuclear fuel, but it was blocked by piping and could not put the camera in athe place where nuclear fuel could be seen.

Information necessary for taking out the nuclear fuel to decommission the reactor remains inadequate, and some voices began to question the robot conducted investigation method.

During the 5-day survey, there was also a point where the measuring instrument with an camera and a radiation dosimeter integrated together was hung up in a range from 0 to 3 meters from the bottom of the containment vessel, pipes and debris blocking its path in many points. The radiation dose in the water is from 3.0 to 11 Sv. Per hour. It was not possible to directly check the melted nuclear fuel.

TEPCO and the country are facing the decommissioning of a furnace …

http://www.asahi.com/articles/photo/AS20170323005483.html

March 24, 2017 Posted by | Fukushima 2017 | , , , , | Leave a comment

Tepco robot failed to capture images of melted fuel in reactor 1

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A photo taken by a robot on Wednesday shows an underwater image of water pool on the bottom of the containment vessel of the reactor 1 at the Fukushima No. 1 plant

Tokyo Electric said Thursday that it failed to get any photos of potential fuel debris during a five-day probe of the primary containment vessel at reactor 1 of the Fukushima No. 1 power plant.

Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings Inc., however, stressed that the investigation was worthwhile because its robot was able to take underwater images in the pool of water at its bottom and gauge its radiation level, which will help it estimate where the melted fuel lies.

The monstrous tsunami of March 11, 2011, tipped reactors 1, 2 and 3 into core meltdowns. The molten fuel rods then penetrated their pressure vessels before apparently dropping to the bottom of the giant containment vessels.

There is about a 2.5-meter deep water pool at the bottom of the primary containment vessel of reactor 1, and Tepco believes most of its melted fuel rods fell into it. Thus the main mission of the robot investigation this time was to capture underwater images.

The robot traversed gratings set up several meters above the vessel’s bottom and lowered a wire with a camera and dosimeter on its tip at 10 locations in the water.

Yet none of the images disclosed by Tepco showed anything resembling fuel debris, while parts of machinery, such as a valve, were captured.

When the robot dangled the camera on spots where Tepco thought there was a higher probability of locating the fuel, it instead found a 90-cm pile of sediment.

Tepco spokesman Yuichi Okamura said the sediment is probably not fuel debris, given the relatively low radiation readings, which ranged from 5.9 to 9.4 sieverts per hour.

Although the readings indicate extreme danger to people, Okamura said the readings would have been much higher had they been melted fuel rods. He said Tepco had no idea what the sediment is but added that there was a possibility it was covering the fuel.

According to Okamura, radiation readings get weaker by a hundredth if blocked by a meter of water. Since the robot detected readings from 5.9 to 9.4 sieverts per hour about 90 cm above the pool’s bottom, there might be something down there emitting strong radiation.

Tepco plans another investigation this month to pick up samples of the sediment.

While no fuel debris was recognized, Okamura said Tepco would review the data and analyze it further. By comparing radiation readings from various locations, the utility might be able to roughly pinpoint where the melted rods lay, he said.

He added that it was an achievement that the robot lasted for five days in the deadly radiation and that Tepco was able to retrieve it.

http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2017/03/24/national/tepco-robot-failed-capture-images-melted-fuel-reactor-1/#.WNQ_hBh7Sis

March 24, 2017 Posted by | Fukushima 2017 | , , , | Leave a comment

Yakuza hide IDs to secretly thrive in Tohoku’s disaster zones

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A gang leader says he effectively controls several companies involved in rebuilding projects in the Tohoku region.

A company has been busy dispatching temporary workers for the Herculean task of rebuilding lives in the disaster-hit Tohoku region. But the company’s most important job for survival is to conceal any evidence of its true, sinister nature.

This is a company I established,” said the leader of a gang affiliated with an organized crime syndicate based in western Japan. “I made sure that no signs of any possible association with yakuza organizations were left.”

Although the National Police Agency has tried to prevent gangsters from cashing in on the triple disaster that struck in March 2011, yakuza groups appear to be thriving in the Tohoku region and extending their reach.

Their companies not only dispatch workers and lease heavy machinery, but they are also involved in more traditional services, such as providing prostitutes and dealing drugs, with workers at the stricken Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant and other sites as potential targets.

Police say there is little they can do to shut down the yakuza activities.

The gang leader’s company, which was set up in a city in the Kanto region last December with a start-up cost of 5 million yen ($45,000), appears innocent on the surface.

The president named on company’s registry has no ties with organized crime, and the true leader and members of his family and group are not listed as directors.

The gang leader said he also has effective control over other companies that send workers to contractors involved in an array of projects, including decontaminating areas or dismantling abandoned houses.

I make millions of yen a month, including about 100,000 yen per contractor and siphoning from workers’ daily allowances,” the gang leader proudly said.

Twenty days after the Great East Japan Earthquake and tsunami struck on March 11, 2011, triggering the nuclear disaster, the NPA directed all prefectural police departments to keep gangsters away from the reconstruction projects.

Similar requests were made to the construction industry, Tokyo Electric Power Co., operator of the nuclear plant, government ministries and agencies and local authorities.

But a number of yakuza organizations are now behind the companies involved in the rebuilding projects.

In some cases, they gain control of legitimate but cash-strapped companies by providing funds.

One crime syndicate reportedly advises umbrella groups on “how to set up a company by keeping others from becoming suspicious.”

Police officials dealing with crime syndicates acknowledge that it is “practically impossible” to thoroughly check for possible ties between subcontractors and gangster organizations.

In some cases, a single project is outsourced to more than 10 subcontractors.

All we can do is check whether individuals connected to underground groups are listed in the registration papers,” a police official said.

Police say they can confirm a yakuza connection only after they scrutinize the company directors’ circle of friends and acquaintances and other relevant data.

Although anti-yakuza ordinances are believed to be depleting the finances of mobsters around Japan, the crime syndicates are systematically running operations in the Tohoku region as if it’s business as usual.

One leader of an underground group said he was ordered by its parent organization “not to lag behind others” in exploiting potentially lucrative projects.

After the 1995 Great Hanshin Earthquake, the parent organization began asking all groups under its umbrella to give “regular reports” about rental agents of heavy machinery, dump trucks and other equipment indispensable in rebuilding projects on their turfs.

The move was apparently designed to prepare for the day when they needed to quickly obtain as much machinery as possible.

That day arrived on March 11, 2011.

There is a huge demand for such equipment in a disaster,” a former senior member of a gang group said. “We can lease it at our asking price.”

Crime organizations have also seen a potentially lucrative market in the predominantly male work force at the Fukushima nuclear plant and other reconstruction projects in the Tohoku region.

I came to Fukushima to have fun as an adult,” said an entry, presumably by a female, on a dating site for men. “I am looking for somebody I can meet in Nihonmatsu,” said another, referring to a city in Fukushima Prefecture.

The website, set up by the head of a gangster organization in the Kanto region, targets workers at the stricken nuclear plant and elsewhere.

The gang leader said he takes women who have experience in the sex industry to disaster-stricken areas in his car and stays there for several days.

He sends the women to love hotels or the clients’ vehicles, depending on the customers’ requests. One encounter costs about 30,000 yen, he said, adding that 60 percent goes to the woman while he pockets the remainder.

I am in fierce competition with other underground groups in this line of business,” he said. “But I can earn at least 3 million yen a month.”

Drug deals are also said to be at play in the disaster zone.

I have seen and heard about the use and deals in stimulant drugs at the plant,” recalled the leader of a gang group based in eastern Japan who works at the Fukushima nuclear complex.

He was assigned to the plant just after a hydrogen explosion took place there.

TEPCO and Fukushima prefectural police said they are not aware of any drug use at the plant.

However, a plant worker in his 30s died at a hospital in August 2015 after he complained of sickness on a bus taking him from the nuclear plant.

He turned out to be a gang member, according to police. His urine sample showed possible signs of stimulant drug use, but his cause of death was not determined.

Between 2011 and 2016, police have busted underground groups involved in rebuilding projects in 101 cases.

Fraud accounted for 54 cases. They were primarily gangsters pretending to collect donations for disaster victims or mobsters involved in illicit borrowing.

Twenty-five cases concerned dispatches of workers to assignments that they were not allowed to perform.

In one case, a senior member of a group affiliated with the Sumiyoshi-kai, one of the largest crime syndicates in the nation, was arrested in May 2012 on suspicion of illegally sending workers to the Fukushima plant. Police uncovered that the mobster received about 40 million yen between 2009 and 2011 by sending workers to nuclear plants and thermal power plants across the country.

http://www.asahi.com/ajw/articles/AJ201703230055.html

March 23, 2017 Posted by | Fukushima 2017, Fukushima continuing | , , | Leave a comment

Visualizing nuclear radiation: Team images gamma rays to help decontaminate Fukushima

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A Kyoto University team has developed a new camera to visualize radioactive hotspots

Extraordinary decontamination efforts are underway in areas affected by the 2011 nuclear accidents in Japan. The creation of total radioactivity maps is essential for thorough cleanup, but the most common methods, according to Kyoto University’s Toru Tanimori, do not ‘see’ enough ground-level radiation.

“The best methods we have currently are labor intensive, and to measure surface radiation accurately,” he says, “complex analysis is needed.”

In their latest work published in Scientific Reports, Tanimori and his group explain how gamma-ray imaging spectroscopy is more versatile and robust, resulting in a clearer image.

“We constructed an Electron Tracking Compton Camera (ETCC) to detect nuclear gamma rays quantitatively. Typically this is used to study radiation from space, but we have shown that it can also measure contamination, such as at Fukushima.”

The imaging revealed what Tanimori calls “micro hot spots” around the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant, even in regions that had already been considered decontaminated. In fact, the cleaning in some regions appeared to be far less than what could be measured by other means.

Current methods for measuring gamma rays do not reliably pinpoint the source of the radiation. According to Tanimori, “radiation sources including distant galaxies can disrupt the measurements.”

The key to creating a clear image is taking a color image including the direction and energy of all gamma rays emitted in the vicinity.

“Quantitative imaging produces a surface radioactivity distribution that can be converted to show dosage on the ground,” says Tanimori. “The ETCC makes true images of the gamma rays based on proper geometrical optics.”

This distribution can then be used to relatively easily measure ground dosage levels, showing that most gamma rays scatter and spread in the air, putting decontamination efforts at risk.

“Our ETCC will make it easier to respond to nuclear emergencies,” continues Tanimori. “Using it, we can detect where and how radiation is being released. This will not only help decontamination, but also the eventual dismantling of nuclear reactors.”

https://phys.org/news/2017-03-visualizing-nuclear-team-images-gamma.html#jCp

March 23, 2017 Posted by | Fukushima 2017, Fukushima continuing | , , , , | Leave a comment

Deadly nuclear radiation levels detected in Fukushima

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Extremely high radiation levels were detected using cameras and robots in tainted water inside a reactor containment vessel at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant, Japan Times reported Tuesday, citing Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings Inc. (Tepco).

The latest readings, taken six years after the Fukushima nuclear meltdown, showed 11 sieverts per hour, according to Japan Times. It is the highest radiation level detected in water inside the containment vessel and is extremely dangerous. Sievert is a unit measurement for a dose of radiation. One sievert is enough to cause illness if absorbed all at once, and 8 sieverts will result in death despite treatment, according to PBS who relied on data from multiple sources including United States Nuclear Regulatory Commission and MIT’s Nuclear Science and Engineering department.

Following a major earthquake on March 11, 2011, a 15-metre tsunami disabled the power supply and cooling of three Fukushima reactors, causing a nuclear accident. Tepco, who operated the plant and has been tasked with cleaning up the worst nuclear incident, since the 1986 Chernobyl disaster in the former Soviet Union, has been some problems of late in its cleanup operation.

Recently, an exploratory robot malfunctioned and died after being sent inside reactor 2, in mid-February, due to exposure to “unimaginable” levels of radiation, close to 650 sieverts per hour. The previous highest recorded level was 73 sieverts per hour. Following the incident, Naohiro Masuda, president of Tepco’s Fukushima Daiichi Decommissioning project, told reporters the company had to rethink its methods in order to examine and extract the hazardous material stuck in the plant’s second reactor.

We should think out of the box so we can examine the bottom of the core and how melted fuel debris spread out,” Masuda said, according to the Japan Times.

Tepco has been attempting to locate melted fuel which leaked from the reactor’s pressure vessel and is believed to have settled at the bottom of the containment vessel that holds the contaminated water. So far, no such debris has been found, and Tepco decided to extend the survey by one day through Wednesday.

A robot sent by the company on March 20 reached the bottom but was unable to locate the melted fuel due to some pipes that blocked its view.  But it was able to take pictures of what appeared to be sand piling up near the pipes. The radiation readings near them were 6.3 sieverts per hour.

Judging from the radiation level, there is a high possibility that what is piling up on the pipes is not nuclear fuel,” a Tepco official said, according to the Asahi Shimbun

Cleaning up the plant may take an estimated 40 years and cost an estimated 21.5 trillion yen ($189 billion), according to the Guardian.

https://www.rawstory.com/2017/03/deadly-nuclear-radiation-levels-detected-in-fukushima/

March 23, 2017 Posted by | Fukushima 2017 | , , , | Leave a comment

Lethal radiation levels but no melted fuel found in Fukushima reactor water

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The Unit 2 reactor building at Tokyo Electric Power Co.’s Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant.

The level of radiation was measured by a special robot on Sunday at a point about 30cm (one foot) from the bottom of the containment vessel of Reactor 1, the Japan Times reported on Tuesday.

The current radiation level is 11 sieverts per hour, the highest detected in water inside the containment vessel. A person exposed to this amount of radiation would likely die in about 40 minutes, the Japan Times reports.

Sunday’s probe also revealed sandy substances building up at the bottom of the vessel. Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings (TEPCO) officials, however, dismissed the idea that it might be melted nuclear fuel.

Experts have been looking for the melted fuel, which they believe has been accumulating in tainted water.

In March 2011, a 9.1 earthquake and the 15-meter tsunami that followed disabled the cooling system of Fukushima’s three reactors, causing the worst nuclear incident since the 1986 Chernobyl incident in Ukraine.

TEPCO, which operates the crippled power plant, has been obliged to deal with the consequences of the incident.

In February, a robot sent to explore Reactor 2 broke down because of the “unimaginable” levels of radiation, close to 650 sieverts per hour. This was the first time a robot entered this reactor since the plant’s meltdown in 2011.

Previously, the highest radiation level was recorded one year after the disaster and went up to 73 sieverts per hour.

TEPCO has promised extract the hazardous material stuck in the plant’s second reactor, its president Naohiro Masuda said, according to the Japan Times.

In December, TEPCO nearly doubled the estimated cost for the Fukushima clean-up to $188 billion.

A zone of more than 300 square miles around the plant is currently uninhabitable due to the continuing radiation.

https://www.rt.com/news/381879-fukushima-reactor-radiation-lethal/

 

March 23, 2017 Posted by | Fukushima 2017 | , , , | Leave a comment

80% of families not going back to Fukushima after housing aid ends

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Eighty percent of households who fled but were not forced to evacuate from Fukushima Prefecture after the 2011 nuclear disaster do not intend to return even after their free housing allowance ends this month.

According to the survey results released March 21, 3,722 households, or 80 percent of 4,673 households who had evacuated outside the prefecture, said they had no intention of returning.

As for the 4,010 households who fled but remained inside the prefecture, 949 households, or 24 percent, gave the same response, while 67 percent, or 2,674 households, planned to eventually return to their hometowns.

The statistics are based on responses from 8,683 households that evacuated out of 12,000 contacted by the Fukushima prefectural government.

The central and prefectural governments have provided free housing for evacuees from outside the designated evacuation zone since the nuclear accident triggered by the Great East Japan Earthquake and catastrophic tsunami.

It was announced in June 2015 the housing program would end this month.

Prefectural officials said part of the reason for the high ratio of people unwilling to return to Fukushima Prefecture is partly because they are uninformed about the rebuilding situation.

Their resolve to stay away from the prefecture is firm due to concerns about radiation and other factors in the first place,” an official said. “In addition, it appears that they don’t have good access to information on what is going on in the prefecture.”

The number of people that had evacuated to locales inside and outside of Fukushima Prefecture on a voluntary basis totaled 30,000 as of October 2015.

Support groups have demanded the continuation of the housing program.

Whereas 97 percent of the total households contacted, or 11,896, replied that they have already decided on where they would live from April, 2 percent, or 227 households, responded otherwise as of March 10.

http://www.asahi.com/ajw/articles/AJ201703220058.html

March 23, 2017 Posted by | Fukushima 2017 | , | 1 Comment

Survey under way of Fukushima Daiichi 1 vessel

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The PMORPH robot within unit 1’s PCV

A robot has entered into the primary containment vessel of the damaged unit 1 of the Fukushima Daiichi plant and provided Tokyo Electric Power Company (Tepco) with radiation and temperature measurements within it. The company hopes the data, together with video footage, will enable it to locate the molten fuel in the unit.

On 18 March, Tepco inserted the PMORPH robot into unit 1 in the first of a series of four planned robot explorations of the basement area of its primary containment vessel (PCV) around the pedestal, on which the reactor pressure vessel sits. The investigation is part of preparatory work for the eventual removal of fuel debris.

The PMORPH robot was developed by Hitachi-GE Nuclear Energy and the International Research Institute for Nuclear Decommissioning (IRID). It can assume a long, straight shape for passing through narrow spaces, such as pipes. Alternatively, it can rotate its crawlers by 90 degrees in relation to its central body to assume a U-shape, with the crawlers providing better stability when travelling over flat surfaces.

The robot features a combined total of five cameras and also includes a winch used for lowering and raising a sensor unit that incorporates an underwater radiation-resistant camera, LED and a dosimeter.

In the latest investigation, the robot travelled along a section of the first floor grating, on which it measured a radiation dose of 7.8 Sieverts per hour. The robot also lowered its sensor unit into the water that has collected at the bottom of the primary containment vessel. At a height of about 1 metre above the PCV basement floor, Tepco recorded a dose level of 1.5 Sv/h. The robot also recorded temperature measurements within the PCV of 14-23°C.

Last month a “scorpion-shaped” robot developed by Toshiba and IRID was sent into the primary containment vessel of unit 2 of the Fukushima Daiichi plant. “In that case,” Tepco said, “although the robot was obstructed from reaching all the way into the pedestal area, important information was obtained about the conditions at the base of the reactor.” Readings indicate the temperature within the area of the containment vessel where the robot stopped was around 16.5°C and the dose rate was about 210 Sv/h, significantly higher than those measured in unit 1.

Tepco said the latest reading and images obtained from unit 1 will now be examined in greater detail. “The conditions of the PCV basement floor will be examined later,” it noted.

The insertion of the PMORPH robot follows an investigation of the unit’s containment vessel by another shape-changing robot in April 2015. That was the first time a robot had entered the containment vessel of any of the damaged units. However, after taking several images and measurements, that robot got stuck in the grating and stopped working.

Tepco is preparing to conduct similar investigations using a robot in unit 3 at the plant.

http://www.world-nuclear-news.org/RS-Survey-under-way-of-unit-1-vessel-2003174.html

March 23, 2017 Posted by | Fukushima 2017 | , , | Leave a comment

Progress of Unit 1 PCV Internal Investigations – March 18. 2017

Preliminary report of March 12 investigation 1/2

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Preliminary report of March 12 investigation 2/2

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Impact to the surrounding environment :

The radiation level of 7.8 Sv/h was measured by a dosimeter during the March 18 investigation, but the radiation impact has been reduced by the shielding of PCV concrete walls and steel. No radiation impact has been observed in the surrounding environment.

The investigation is conduced while creating a boundary around the guiding pipe to prevent the air inside the PCV from leaking to the outside.

No significant changes have been observed at the monitoring posts and dust monitors after the investigation, compared to the before.

Real-time data of the monitoring posts and dust monitors along the site boundary are available on the website.

Reference URL:

http://www.tepco.co.jp/en/nu/fukushima-np/f1/index-e.html

http://www.tepco.co.jp/en/nu/fukushima-np/f1/dustmonitor/index-e.html

Monitoring of the plant parameters:

Although the radiation level of 7.8 Sv/h was measured by a dosimeter during the March 18 investigation,it does not mean that a new phenominonhas occurred but rather the area that has not been investigated since the March 2011 accident was investigated for the first time.

Plant parameters are monitored all the time during the investigation, and no significant changes have been observed in the PCV internal temperatures after the investigation, compared to the before.

The condition of cold shutdown has not been changed. Temperature data inside the PCV are available on the website.

Reference URL: http://www.tepco.co.jp/en/nu/fukushima-np/f1/pla/index-e.html

March 22, 2017 Posted by | Fukushima 2017 | , , | Leave a comment

TEPCO to Focus on Joint Ventures for Rehab

What company in their right mind would want to hook up with a zombie company so they could leech 21.5 trillion yen from them?

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Tokyo, March 22 (Jiji Press)–Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings Inc. on Wednesday released an outline of its new rehabilitation plan focusing on joint ventures with other companies, to find a way out of the aftermath of the Fukushima nuclear crisis in March 2011.
But with other power companies cautious about industry realignment and business integration, TEPCO is expected to continue to face difficulties under the new plan.
TEPCO’s current rehabilitation plan, adopted in January 2014, has reached a dead end, with no prospects for a restart of its Kashiwazaki-Kariwa nuclear power plant in Niigata Prefecture, which the company viewed as a key step for improving profitability.
TEPCO needs to secure as much as 21.5 trillion yen for its response to the triple meltdown at its Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power station, including compensation for affected people and businesses and work to decommission the disaster-stricken reactors at the plant.
In the circumstances, the government plans to keep the company effectively under state control for the time being. Its involvement with TEPCO will be reviewed in the fiscal year that begins in April 2019.

March 22, 2017 Posted by | Fukushima 2017 | , , | Leave a comment

A Campaign to Tackle “Misinformation” about Radioactive Contamination

Masahiro Imamura, Minister for Reconstruction, wants to launch a large-scale campaign, to correct the incorrect information about radioactive contamination of agricultural, forestry and fisheries products from Fukushima Prefecture; as an effort to tackle the issue of “misinformation about radioactive contamination” crippling Fukushima foods. That means more propaganda to come, more lies to hide the real risks of radiation to the people’s health. As if propaganda, to brainwash the people with a large-scale campaign would be the solution to make radiation disappear.

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Reconstruction chief Masahiro Imamura

Reconstruction chief praises efforts in Tohoku, flags information campaign on radiation risks

Minister for reconstruction Masahiro Imamura has praised efforts to rebuild the devastated Tohoku region but says a large-scale information campaign is needed to share accurate information about radiation six years after the March 2011 meltdowns at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant.

Imamura outlined the plan in a recent interview in response to what he said was incorrect information about radioactive contamination of agricultural, forestry and fisheries products from Fukushima Prefecture.

It also comes as a growing number of children who evacuated from the prefecture fall victim to bullying.

Massive amounts of radioactive substances were emitted from the plant soon after it was knocked out by massive tsunami from the 9.0-magnitude March 11, 2011, Great East Japan Earthquake, which hit hardest in Fukushima and the nearby prefectures of Miyagi and Iwate.

Asked about the degree of progress in reconstructing areas hit by the disaster, Imamura said, “Acquisition of land and other procedures needed for the restoration of damaged infrastructure initially took time, but the pace of construction work was very rapid once it was launched.”

From now, we should focus on the rebuilding of Fukushima,” he said, noting that medium- to long-term measures should be promoted, including decommissioning the Fukushima No. 1 plant and decontaminating areas polluted with radioactive fallout.

We want to encourage evacuees to return to their hometowns in Fukushima by presenting future visions for the communities through improving the living environment and accelerating the revival of local industries,” Imamura added.

On how to tackle the incidences of bullying targeting evacuated Fukushima children, Imamura said, “We’ll strengthen information-sharing about radiation. All government agencies should jointly work to compile and launch a campaign for that purpose, while obtaining cooperation from private companies.

This is an issue for not only children, but adults,” he said. “We’ll prepare documents and other materials that are easy to understand in order to eliminate prejudice against evacuated people.”

Imamura said the campaign would also be an effort to tackle the issue of “misinformation about radioactive contamination crippling Fukushima foods.”

I’ll seek cooperation from Prime Minister Shinzo Abe as well,” he said.

Imamura said he believed the Reconstruction Agency’s efforts to date to rebuild areas affected by the March 2011 disaster have been praised to a certain degree. Still, he pointed to the importance of re-examining whether information on what affected areas need has been properly conveyed to the Reconstruction Agency and other government bodies.

Imamura said Japan’s aging population and low birthrate were also contributing to shrinking communities across the nation — something he described as a structural problem.

It’s important to build a system that generates profits through stepped-up use of information technology and the modernization of factory equipment, even if human resources are limited,” he said.

We need to check again whether communities will be able to smoothly help one another in times of disaster, although lessons from the March 2011 disaster were effectively utilized in a series of powerful earthquakes that mainly hit Kumamoto Prefecture in April last year, and the October 2016 strong quake in Tottori Prefecture,” Imamura added.

http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2017/03/21/national/reconstruction-chief-praises-efforts-tohoku-flags-information-campaign-radiation-risks/#.WNJEq6KmnIV

March 22, 2017 Posted by | Fukushima 2017, spinbuster | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Controversial conspiracy bill approved by Abe Cabinet

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Protesters stage a rally in front of the prime minister’s office in Tokyo on Tuesday as Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s Cabinet approved an anti-conspiracy bill

The Cabinet of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe approved Tuesday a controversial bill that would revise the organized crime law so authorities can crack down on individuals and organizations who conspire to engage in serious criminal activity.

The conspiracy charges apply to groups of two or more people, where at least one person procures funds, supplies or surveys a location in preparation for committing a crime. Efforts to maintain or expand organized crime groups would also be punished, while reduced penalties would be considered for those who turn themselves in before a crime is carried out.

The government is pushing to enact the revised bill during the ordinary Diet session through mid-June, but strong objections by opposition parties are expected amid concern that the law may be used against civic groups.

The backlash against the measure has been a persistent hurdle in passing the anti-conspiracy law, which the government has attempted and failed to enact three times in the past, as it targeted “groups” in general.

The bill needs to be passed to ensure necessary counterterrorism measures are in place before the upcoming 2020 Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics, according to the government. It is also a prerequisite to ratify the U.N. Convention against Transnational Organized Crime, which was adopted by member states in 2000 and took effect in 2003.

It is an urgent necessity for the government to ratify the treaty to promote international cooperation on counter-terrorism,” Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga told a news conference Tuesday, adding Japan is the only country among the Group of Seven nations that has not signed the treaty.

Suga also said the targets of the new bill would be strictly applied to terrorists and other organized crime syndicates, not ordinary citizens.

Some opposition parties and the Tokyo Bar Association denounced the revisions, which they say would still allow the possibility of government overreach and retaliation against civic groups.

The conspiracy bill goes against the basic principles of our country’s criminal code and the legal system,” Motoji Kobayashi, president of the Tokyo Bar Association, said in a statement in January. “It threatens the function of protecting human rights.”

The government previously included 676 crimes in its original draft, but has narrowed that number down to 277 in the revised bill.

Yukio Yamashita, an attorney and member of the association, warned that 277 crimes are still too many and noted some are unnecessary.

For example, a person using forged stamps or competing in a motor boat race without a license would be subject to punishment under the revised bill, Yamashita said in a seminar held earlier in March.

Meanwhile, the Japan Federation of Bar Associations claims that only a limited number of countries, such as Norway, have newly enacted anti-conspiracy laws for the purpose of ratifying the U.N. treaty, which was adopted to crack down on organized cross-border crimes such as human trafficking, narcotics trading and money laundering.

Japan’s Diet approved the treaty in 2013, but was unable to ratify it without a law covering criminal conspiracy.

As of December, 187 countries and regions have signed the treaty.

http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2017/03/21/national/crime-legal/controversial-conspiracy-bill-approved-by-abe-cabinet/#.WNJ_RKKmnIW

March 22, 2017 Posted by | Japan | , | Leave a comment

Robot probe of No.1 reactor to continue until Wed.

 

The operator of the crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant says a robotic survey of fuel debris at the No. 1 reactor is being hampered by plumbing and other structures. The utility says it will extend the probe by one day, until Wednesday.

So far engineers have detected strong radiation of about 11 sieverts per hour in the water inside the containment vessel.

Tokyo Electric Power Company on Saturday started sending a remote-controlled robot into the reactor’s containment vessel to look at the state of debris — a mixture of melted fuel and reactor parts. The robot is equipped with a camera and a dosimeter.

The melted fuel is believed to still be at the bottom of the vessel, where about 2 meters of contaminated water accumulates.

TEPCO released the results of the ongoing survey on Tuesday. It said the robot moved to a location believed to be just above the debris and lowered the camera and dosimeter into the accumulated water.

The dosimeter detected radiation of 6 sieverts per hour one meter from the bottom. But piping prevented the device from reaching deeper, and it has yet to confirm the debris.

TEPCO also said the robot recorded about 11 sieverts of radiation per hour about 30 centimeters from the vessel’s bottom at another location. Officials believe the radiation may be coming from contaminated fragments that fell to the bottom, as they expected no debris there.

Through the extended probe, TEPCO hopes to collect more data on conditions inside the vessel.

https://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/en/news/20170321_33/

 

March 22, 2017 Posted by | Fukushima 2017 | , , | Leave a comment

Noted Hiroshima hibakusha Dr. Shuntaro Hida dies at 100

Shuntaro Hida died. He had been a doctor in the Japanese imperial army and a doctor for the “hibakushas”, an activist against atomic weapons and nuclear energy, he was also known for his research on the dangers of internal contamination by radioactivity.

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Shuntaro Hida, a former Imperial Japanese Army doctor who survived the U.S. atomic bombing of Hiroshima during World War II and treated survivors, died Monday, sources close to him said. He was 100.

Hailing from Gifu Prefecture, Hida became a doctor after graduating from the academy of medicine of the Imperial Japanese Army in 1944 and was assigned to a Hiroshima army hospital.

Hida was working in a village some 6 km north of the hypocenter when the atomic bomb detonated over the city on Aug. 6, 1945.

He entered devastated areas immediately after the bombing to help survivors, many of whom suffered severe burns. Afterward, he continued treating victims who were suffering from leukemia and other illnesses.

Hida, who made his first trip to the United States in 1975, visited about 150 cities in more than 30 countries where he told the story of the bombing. He spent 15 years until 1989 detailing the misery the atomic-bomb victims suffered.

He also served as director of the counseling center at the Japan Confederation of A- and H-Bomb Sufferers Organizations

After the Fukushima nuclear crisis triggered by the 2011 earthquake and tsunami disaster, Hida attended anti-nuclear events in Tokyo and elsewhere to call for a world free of nuclear power.

He is also known for his research on the dangers of internal exposure to radiation.

http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2017/03/21/national/noted-hiroshima-hibakusha-dr-shuntyaro-hida-dead-100/#.WNJYeRh7Sis

 

March 22, 2017 Posted by | Nuclear | , | Leave a comment