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Radioactive Isotopes Measured at Olympic and Paralympic Venues in Fukushima Prefecture and Tokyo, Japan

November 12, 2020

“This newly reviewed study of Radioactive Dusts and Dirt at Japanese Olympic sites and throughout Northern Japan by Fairewinds and Marco Kaltofen has four significant conclusions:

Different types of alpha and beta radioactive micro-particles were released at other times and landed in various locations throughout Japan. “The exclusive use of cesium-137 beta activity levels as a proxy for total internal and external exposure, therefore, introduces dose assessment errors.”

“Rooftops previously decontaminated in Minamisoma are recontaminated by airborne atmospheric dust containing radionuclides … from the Fukushima meltdowns. The data show a need for continuing reassessment and potentially, additional remedial work on many sites in Fukushima Prefecture.”

The greater Tokyo Olympic venues had activities similar to sample sites in the US. In contrast, Olympic sites in Northern Japan near Fukushima contained an average of about twice as much radioactivity as Tokyo, with Plutonium identified at the J-Village National Training Center.

Non-Olympic sites throughout Japan averaged 7.0 times greater beta activity than the Tokyo Olympic venues. These data show that remediation emphasized the Olympic venues over cleaning other contaminated parts of Japan.”

https://www.fairewinds.org/demystify/radioactive-isotopes-measured-at-olympic-and-paralympic-venues-in-fukushima-prefecture-and-tokyo-japan?fbclid=IwAR25v6TXTqn7TOPNxRoBkwLzF9r6_YLEPi3IbcMlpNnkA5s1tFhh5x4MAVY

November 15, 2020 Posted by | Fukushima 2020 | , , | Leave a comment

Miyagi’s Onagawa NPP reactor’s final approval to restart

Miyagi Gov. Yoshihiro Murai (center) hold talks Wednesday in the city of Ishinomaki, Miyagi Prefecture, with Yoshiaki Suda (left), mayor of the town of Onagawa in the prefecture and Hiroshi Kameyama, mayor of Ishinomaki

Tsunami-hit Onagawa reactor in northeast Japan gets final approval to restart

November 12, 2020

Sendai – A nuclear reactor in Miyagi Prefecture damaged by the Great East Japan Earthquake and tsunami disaster in 2011 has cleared the last hurdle to resume operations, getting the green light Wednesday from local officials.

The No. 2 unit of Tohoku Electric Power Co.’s Onagawa plant is the first of the reactors damaged in the disaster to win final approval with local consent to restart.

Miyagi Gov. Yoshihiro Murai and the mayors of Onagawa and Ishinomaki, the two municipalities that host the unit, gave their consent at a meeting after the plant cleared national safety screening in February.

“There is an excellent, stable supply of electricity in a nuclear plant, and the plant can also contribute to the local economy,” Murai said during a news conference after the meeting in Ishinomaki.

A Tohoku Electric official said the utility will “continue to do its best to ensure safety” in plant operations.

Tohoku Electric says it plans to restart the No. 2 reactor in fiscal 2022 at the earliest after work on safety and disaster prevention measures is completed, such as the construction of an 800-meter-long seawall at the plant.

The Onagawa plant is the closest nuclear plant to the epicenter of the magnitude-9.0 earthquake that struck nine years ago.

The central government has been pushing for the reactor to be reactivated so as to ensure a stable power supply, with trade minister Hiroshi Kajiyama seeking Murai’s consent in March.

In Tokyo, Chief Cabinet Secretary Katsunobu Kato said during a news conference that gaining local consent marks an “important” step.

The municipal assemblies for Onagawa and Ishinomaki had already given their consent, as had the prefectural assembly. On Monday, the leaders of most of Miyagi’s 35 municipalities agreed at a meeting to support the decisions of Onagawa and Ishinomaki.

Part of the reason for local approval is the money generated by hosting the reactor, with Onagawa having received from the central government around ¥27 billion ($256 million) in grants in the past, as well as hefty property taxes from Tohoku Electric.

Masanori Takahashi, chairman of the town’s chamber of commerce lobbying local leaders to support the restart, said, “We are getting closer to the end of disaster-linked infrastructure development projects,” adding it is now “absolutely necessary to restart the reactor to get the town’s economy going.”

Some local residents, however, believe the approval was rushed, saying concerns linger over whether evacuation plans can actually be implemented in the event of a nuclear accident.

The 825,000-kilowatt boiling water reactor won approval to restart from the Nuclear Regulation Authority earlier this year, becoming the second disaster-damaged reactor to pass stricter safety standards put in place after the Fukushima nuclear disaster.

A massive earthquake and subsequent tsunami hit northeastern Japan on March 11, 2011, triggering one of the worst nuclear disasters since the 1986 Chernobyl accident in Fukushima Prefecture, which is adjacent to Miyagi.

At one point, the disaster caused all of Japan’s 54 reactors to be brought to a halt. So far, nine units at five plants in the country have restarted following regulatory and local approval.

At the Onagawa complex, all three reactors — the same boiling water reactors as were used at the Fukushima No. 1 plant run by Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings Inc. — shut down but the underground floors of the No. 2 unit were flooded, after the facility was hit by a tsunami of up to 13 meters.

In Onagawa, more than 800 people were listed as killed or missing.

As the plant’s emergency cooling system functioned normally, there was no meltdown of the type that occurred at three of the six reactors at the Fukushima No. 1 plant.

The utility has decided to decommission the reactor’s No. 1 unit, and is considering whether to request a review by the authority to restart the No. 3 unit.

Other boiling water reactors at sites including the Tokai No. 2 plant of Japan Atomic Power Co. in Ibaraki Prefecture have also won the regulator’s approval to resume operations, but have yet to obtain local consent.

https://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2020/11/12/national/onagawa-reactor-restart/

From left: Yoshiaki Suda, mayor of Onagawa, Miyagi Governor Yoshihiro Murai and Hiroshi Kameyama, mayor of Ishinomaki, hold a news conference in Ishinomaki, Miyagi Prefecture, on Nov. 11.

Approval given for 1st restart of nuclear plant damaged in 3/11

November 12, 2020

SENDAI, Miyagi Prefecture–Citing expected economic benefits, local governments approved the first restart of a nuclear power plant damaged in the 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake and tsunami.

Miyagi Governor Yoshihiro Murai on Nov. 11 said the decision on resuming operations of the No. 2 reactor at the Onagawa nuclear plant was “not an easy one.”

Required safety measures must still be completed at the plant, and questions remain about the evacuation route that will be used in the event of a disaster at the plant, which straddles the municipalities of Onagawa and Ishinomaki on the Pacific coast.

However, residents near the nuclear plant have requested a resumption of nuclear power operations to revive their depleted communities.

“We can expect many jobs to be created if the nuclear plant resumes operations,” Murai said. “Municipalities hosting the plant will also have increased tax revenues through the restart of the plant in terms of fixed property tax and nuclear fuel tax.”

His announcement followed a meeting with the mayors of Onagawa and Ishinomaki earlier in the day, in which the governor confirmed their approval of the planned restart.

Tohoku Electric Power Co., operator of the Onagawa plant, needed the consent from the host communities as well as Miyagi Prefecture although it is not a legal mandate.

The utility expects the reactor, with an output capacity of 825 megawatts, to be brought online as early as in 2023, when it plans to complete an array of projects designed to strengthen the safety of the plant.

“A critical decision was made as we are aiming at a restart,” the utility said in a statement about Murai’s announcement. “We are determined to strive in full force to enhance safety features of the facility.”

If restarted, the No. 2 unit will be the first boiling water reactor in Japan brought online since the 2011 nuclear disaster. The reactors at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant, which suffered a triple meltdown after being swamped by the tsunami, are also boiling water types.

All reactors in Japan were shut down after the Fukushima nuclear disaster. Since then, nine reactors at five nuclear plants have resumed operations. They were all pressurized water reactors located in western Japan.

When the 13.0-meter tsunami hit the Onagawa plant after the Great East Japan Earthquake, the No. 2 reactor building was just high enough to escape the water.

Still, part of the equipment to cool the reactor failed, and more than 1,000 cracks were discovered in the reactor building.

The Onagawa plant has two other reactors. Tohoku Electric decided to retire the No. 1 reactor, but it is preparing to apply for a restart of the No. 3 reactor.

The utility compiled a set of safeguards for resuming operations of the No. 2 reactor, including construction of a 29-meter-high sea wall as protection against tsunami.

In February, the Nuclear Regulation Authority, the government nuclear watchdog, certified the No. 2 reactor as meeting the more stringent reactor regulations put in place after the Fukushima disaster.

The following month, industry minister Hiroshi Kajiyama urged Murai to agree to the restart of the Onagawa plant.

Japan had 54 nuclear reactors before the disaster struck in the Tohoku region.

Since the Fukushima accident, the number has fallen to 33, as other reactors were retired.

The central government needs to bring around 30 reactors online to achieve its target of nuclear energy representing 20 to 22 percent of the nation’s overall energy output in fiscal 2030.

The government hopes the restart of the Onagawa nuclear plant will prompt other municipalities that host boiling water reactors to accept a resumption of their operations.

(This story was written by Shinya Tokushima and Susumu Okamoto.)

http://www.asahi.com/ajw/articles/13923994

November 15, 2020 Posted by | Japan | , , | Leave a comment

Japan now has 16 reactors that meet requirements

November 11, 2020

Japan now has 16 reactors at nine nuclear power plants that have cleared government requirements adopted after the 2011 Fukushima accident.

The No.2 reactor at Tohoku Electric Power Company’s Onagawa plant in Miyagi Prefecture, and the reactor at Japan Atomic Power Company’s Tokai No.2 plant in Ibaraki Prefecture were affected by the 2011 earthquake and tsunami. Tokai No.2 has yet to win local consent to restart.

Tohoku Electric’s Higashidori plant in Aomori Prefecture, also a part of the Fukushima disaster zone, is undergoing screening by the Nuclear Regulation Authority.

Reactors at Tokyo Electric Power Company’s Fukushima Daiichi and Daini nuclear plants are set to be scrapped.

Reactors that have already been put back online are: the No.1 and No.2 units at the Sendai plant in Kagoshima Prefecture; the No.3 and No.4 units at the Genkai plant in Saga Prefecture; the No.3 and No.4 units at the Takahama plant in Fukui Prefecture; the No.3 and No.4 units at the Ohi plant, also in Fukui Prefecture; and the No.3 unit at the Ikata plant in Ehime Prefecture.

The Sendai and Genkai plants are operated by Kyushu Electric Power Company, the Takahama and Ohi plants by Kansai Electric Power Company and the Ikata plant by Shikoku Electric Power Company.

https://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/en/news/20201111_32/

November 15, 2020 Posted by | Japan | | Leave a comment

Fukushima’s Radioactive Legacy with Shaun Burnie of Greenpeace

Shaun Burnie, of Greenpeace, discusses the Fukushima radioactive water problem and the impacts of the nuclear power industry on the environment and people. This video was organized in partnership with groups making up the Coalition for Nuclear Safety. Recorded on October 30, 2020

November 15, 2020 Posted by | Fukushima 2020 | , , , | Leave a comment

Disposal plan all at sea?

In late October pressure appeared to be mounting on the Japanese government to decide on a method of disposal for 1.2 million tonnes of radioactive wastewater from the former nuclear plant at Fukushima Daiichi

Workers at TEPCO’s Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station work near above-ground storage tanks in 2013

11 November, 2020

As rain and groundwater continue to pour into the site – at a rate of 180m3 per day in 2019 – the volume of contaminated water is expected to reach 1.37 million tonnes by the end of 2020. The water is being stored in around 1000 tanks on the site, with existing capacity likely to be surpassed by mid-2022, according to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).

In late October, the Japanese government were preparing to approve a plan to begin discharging the contaminated water into the sea, starting in 2022 and continuing for decades. Opposition has come from fishing and farming groups in the area, neighbouring countries, and environmental groups.

A purification system is treating the water, known as the Advanced Liquid Processing System (ALPS), and the filtering process therein is said to remove around 62 radioactive contaminants, according to an October report in NewScientist.

A report released by Greenpeace in October – Stemming the Tide 2020: The reality of the Fukushima radioactive water crisis – argues that the ALPS is flawed, and many of the dangers presented by this wastewater are being ignored. The firms operating the ALPS, Toshiba and Hitachi General Nuclear Electric (HGNE) came to the project with “practically no experience in water processing” said the report, and the ALPS’ poor performance is also likely related to a decision to exclude an alternative technology, an ion exchange system proposed by US firm Purolite, which in 2011 was seemingly shown capable of reducing concentrations of radionuclides to “non-detectable levels.”

As it stands, says the report, it looks like 72% of the water currently in storage tanks will have to be processed again – and questions remain as to how effective this will be.

The Japanese Government and Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO), which runs the site, have said the main radionuclide remaining in the wastewater is tritium, an isotope of hydrogen. Filtering will remove some but not all of this, although scientists appeared to consider its risk to marine life and the environment as relatively minor, in comments made to NewScientist. However, Greenpeace said TEPCO “continues to misrepresent and selectively ignore basic science facts on radioactive tritium.”

Key among the objections made by Greenpeace to the Government’s plan is that the ALPS was not designed to remove carbon-14, a hazardous radionuclide whose presence in the wastewater was only acknowledged by TEPCO in late August. With its long half life of 5,730 years, its presence is a far greater concern. As the report says, “once introduced into the environment carbon-14 will be delivered to local, regional and global populations for many generations.” Ongoing storage carries the risk of tank leakage, especially in an area where earthquake risk is high.

Discharge to the sea is a routine method of disposal used by nuclear facilities worldwide, according to the IAEA. But if this approach is rejected, alternative disposal plans comprise evaporating the wastewater into the air, or expanding the existing storage capacity and continuing to store the water either on land or underground.

The latter option carries the risk of tank leakage, especially in an area where earthquake risk is high. But Greenpeace said “storage is a viable option”, citing a report from a government sub-committee that appeared to understand that additional storage beyond 2022 was feasible, but had seemingly decided against it as it would take “a substantial amount of coordination and time”. In any case, delaying the beginning of any program to discharge the water into the sea until around 2035 would only delay completion of the project by around three years, until 2055, while allowing much of the tritium’s radioactivity to diminish naturally.

Greepeace’s report said the subcommittee’s preference for discharge to sea “was clearly not based on science and engineering, but on the political interest of the Japanese government and the future viability of TEPCO.”

November 15, 2020 Posted by | Fukushima 2020 | , , | Leave a comment

Miyagi officials to OK restart of quake-damaged nuclear plant

The Onagawa nuclear power plant operated by Tohoku Electric Power Co.

November 10, 2020

Local governments in Miyagi Prefecture neared approval for the planned restart of the No. 2 reactor at the Onagawa nuclear power plant that was damaged in the 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake and tsunami.

A meeting of all mayors in the prefecture was held on Nov. 9 to hear their views on resuming operations. Some mayors said it was still too early to bring the reactor online, but the general consensus was in favor of the plan of Tohoku Electric Power Co., the operator of the nuclear plant.

The meeting ended with approval to let Miyagi Governor Yoshihiro Murai and the mayors of Onagawa and Ishinomaki, where the nuclear plant is located, make the decision on behalf of all the mayors.

The three local leaders are expected to hold a meeting on Nov. 11 to approve the resumption of operations, sources said.

After gaining local government consent, Tohoku Electric Power will still have to complete various safety measures before the reactor can go back online, such as building a 29-meter-high seawall to protect the plant from tsunami. The reactor is now expected to be operating again in 2023.

It would be the first reactor to restart after being damaged by the 2011 natural disaster.

The Onagawa plant, located about 130 kilometers from the epicenter of the earthquake, recorded a seismic intensity of lower 6 on the Japanese scale of 7.

Part of the plant’s cooling system was damaged by flooding, but plant officials said they were able to safely stop reactor operations after the quake and tsunami.

The No. 2 unit at the Onagawa plant could also become the first boiling water reactor (BWR) to restart since the quake struck. It is similar in basic design to those at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant that suffered meltdowns in the disaster. The Fukushima reactors have all been decommissioned.

Miyagi, Iwate and Fukushima were the three prefectures hardest hit by the quake and tsunami.

Local residents, fishermen and business people of Onagawa took the initiative to seek approval for resuming operations at the nuclear plant.

About 800 town residents were killed in the 2011 disaster, and Onagawa’s population has decreased from about 10,000 to about 6,000.

Half of the 600 or so companies in the town closed for good. The Onagawa chamber of commerce, which includes businesses that sell supplies to the nuclear plant, submitted a request to the town assembly in February, asking that plant operations be resumed.

In May, the Onagawa branch of the Miyagi prefectural fisheries cooperative made a similar request.

Local fishermen whose homes and boats were damaged received financial support from the town government. They also benefited from outlays in an insurance program that received subsidies from the town government from fiscal 2011 to cover premiums that the fishermen could not afford to pay.

The Onagawa government could provide such support because of the local property and other taxes it receives from the nuclear plant.

The Onagawa town’s fiscal adjustment fund that is the equivalent to the savings it possesses reached 9.4 billion yen ($89.5 million) before the 2011 natural disaster. That figure is about half the amount in the fund for Sendai, the prefectural capital, which has about 100 times the population of Onagawa.

The Miyagi prefectural government has also received about 10 billion yen in tax grants in connection to the nuclear plants in the prefecture.

(This article was written by Shinya Tokushima and Susumu Okamoto.)

http://www.asahi.com/ajw/articles/13917522

November 15, 2020 Posted by | Japan | , , | Leave a comment

TEPCO claims it is running out of space to store radioactive water and simply must discharge it into the Pacific

November 10, 2020

Dilution is not the solution to pollution! Last month, thanks to local fishermen, citizen concern, and international outrage, Japan delayed plan to dump radioactively contaminated water from Fukushima Daiichi.

TEPCO claims it is running out of space to store radioactive water and simply must discharge it into the Pacific. But land [see picture] immediately adjacent to their property is EMPTY and too radioactive to be sold. Why not build more tanks there?

Source: Fairewinds Energy Education

November 15, 2020 Posted by | Fukushima 2020 | , , , | Leave a comment

Brutal Truth’: Fukushima’s Radioactive Water Threatens Life Worldwide, Warns Environmental Journo

by Mohamed Elmaazi November 10, 2020

The after effects of the disaster at the Fukushima nuclear power plant continues to be felt as Japanese authorities struggle to appropriately deal with contaminated radioactive water which, some of which is already being released into the Pacific Ocean, an environmental journalist explains.

Robert Hunziker is a widely published writer and environmental journalist whose work has been translated into multiple languages and has appeared in over 50 journals, magazines and sites worldwide.

Mr Hunziker explains to Sputnik that the Japanese power company responsible for managing the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant has been “overwhelmed by the crippled nuclear reactors” and face a very difficult choice in terms of how to deal with an ever growing amount of radioactive water. He also warns that mass dumping of the contaminated water into the Pacific Ocean may well endanger human beings across the world for generations to come.

Sputnik: The Japanese government appears to have decided that they are going to dump radioactive waste from the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant into the Pacific Ocean. Haven’t they already been doing this since the 2011 nuclear accident?

Robert Hunziker: Since 2011, TEPCO (Tokyo Electric Power Company) has managed to control most of  the flow of radioactive contaminated water, but an indeterminate amount spews into the ocean on a daily basis. In point of fact, controlling the radioactive water has been, and remains, a logistical nightmare.

For example, seawater is constantly circulated to cool the crippled reactors and turbines, where radioactivity is so high that on occasion it has disabled robotic underwater drones used to view the damage to the reactors.

Contaminated water leaks out of the reactor coolant systems and into buildings that house the reactors and turbines on a daily basis. TEPCO pumps 800 tons/day out of the reactor building basements. The 800 tons is thereafter desalinated and filtered, as much as possible, to remove radioactive caesium. Of the 800 tons, 400 tons/day is pumped back to cool the reactors and is contaminated once again. The balance of 400 tons, containing high concentrations of Stronium-90 (a deadly isotope) and tritium is pumped to a massive storage tank farm.

Additionally, groundwater flows into and out of the basements of the reactor buildings from which some contaminated water leaks out into the soil and surrounding groundwater beyond the facilities. This is contaminated water, including radioactive caesium, strontium, and tritium.

Furthermore, there have been instances of storage tanks leaking highly contaminated water.

Thus, the most direct straightforward answer to the question is: Yes, TEPCO has been dumping radioactive water into the Pacific Ocean but not as an organised plan of action, not intentionally. It happens simply because TEPCO is overwhelmed by the crippled nuclear reactors and the necessity of keeping radioactivity from literally spewing throughout the surrounding countryside.

As such, Fukushima Daiichi is a prime example of humanity’s worst nightmare come true, like the fabled China Syndrome, as one of the worst industrial accidents in history.

It remains a serious threat to this day, which is explained in more detail in my most recent article: “Dumping Fukushima’s Water into the Ocean… What Could Possibly go Wrong?”.

Sputnik: How are they justifying this policy of dumping even greater amounts of radioactive water into the Pacific?

Robert Hunziker: According to numerous sources, dumping Fukushima Daiichi’s radioactive water into the Pacific Ocean will start in 2022 and continue for decades. This approach was recommended by scientific advisers and approved by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). The Japanese government justifies dumping the radioactive water into the ocean on the following grounds:

  • Nuclear power plants around the world routinely dilute and dump radioactive tritium-water into the ocean. (There is nothing positive about that rationale.)
  • A panel of experts advised TEPCO that dumping it into the ocean is the most “realistic option.” (Experts are readily available for anything and everything. First, pick a side to an argument, then plug-in the expert.)
  • TEPCO’s experts claim tritium, the most  prominent isotope amongst the 62 isotopes found in Fukushima Daiichi’s radioactive water, is only harmful to humans in extremely large doses, and they believe it will become relatively harmless due to massive dilution in the ocean. (That is speculation and most likely not entirely true.)
  • The IAEA (International Atomic Energy Agency) approves it. (Hmm)

However, many scientists claim tritium, as well as other radionuclides, will never be completely removed from the water in storage tanks, certainly not enough to satisfy the scrutiny of critics. The brutal truth is that dangerous radionuclides, like strontium-90 and iodine-129, will most likely not be completely removed, contrary to claims by TEPCO. 

Furthermore, and of major concern, proper monitoring by independent third parties will likely be a virtual nightmare. To date, the Japanese government has not indicated it will allow independent testing of treated water. Alas, this attitude creates suspicion within the ranks of critics throughout the world.

Meanwhile, according to a recent article by the International Atomic Energy Agency – “IAEA Reviews Management of Water Stored at Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station”:

“Once the Government of Japan has decided on its preferred disposition option, the IAEA is ready to work with Japan to provide radiation safety assistance before, during and after the disposition.”

However, isn’t that like letting the fox into the hen house to check security and safety?

Sputnik: Would they be dumping radioactive waste into the ocean anyway, even without the accident, or is this a direct consequence of the disaster following the 2011 earthquake and tsunami?

Robert Hunziker: It is a direct consequence of the 2011 meltdown. Along those lines, it is important to note that ocean disposal of nuclear/radioactive waste has been banned via international treaties, e.g., The London Convention bans dumping radioactive waste in the seas.

However, there are loopholes, which clever lawyers use to abuse the true spirit behind treaties. In the case of the London Convention (Japan is a signatory) it does include a special provision banning radioactive waste, but the stated “ban at dumping at sea” covers dumping from “vessels, aircraft, and other manmade structures at sea”. However, Fukushima is a land-based discharge. This inconspicuous loophole in language provides weird (questionable) comfort to Fukushima Daiichi to violate the ban on dumping radioactive waste at sea.

Nevertheless, on a strict morality basis, and as importantly, for worldwide opinion purposes, banning should be honoured whether from sea or land so as not to compromise the spirit of the treaty, meaning, no radioactive waste should ever be dumped into the ocean. Why else draft the treaty in the first instance?

Sputnik: According to a report given to the IAEA by Japan, analysis by the power company of sea and groundwater shows “confirm that the radiation level of sampled water is substantially below the operational targets set by TEPCO”. How do you respond to this? Isn’t it possible that the level of radioactive discharge being released will simply be diluted by the ocean and won’t dangerously contaminate sea life and the food chain?

Robert Hunziker: That is questionable. It is very probable that the discharge will not be effectively diluted in ocean water. Rather, the ocean will simply carry radioactive ingredients to the shorelines of other countries.

According to knowledgeable sources with boots on the ground in Japan, leaked internal TEPCO documents have shown that efforts to reduce radionuclides to non-detect levels have not entirely eliminated numerous radioactive elements, including iodine, ruthenium, rhodium, antimony, tellurium, cobalt and strontium. These are deadly isotopes. (Source: Shaun Burnie, senior nuclear specialist for Greenpeace).

Regardless, at the end of the day, TEPCO has publicly stated it will dump “radioactive wastewater in the ocean”. It is their stated intention. They claim that tritium, the main remaining radionuclide after processing, will dilute, emphasising the fact that it is relatively harmless to humans.

This posturing by TEPCO is where the “rubber meets the road”, splitting world opinion into two opposing or warring camps.

On the one hand, advocates of dumping can be found throughout the internet, for example in articles in Forbes magazine, claiming that dumping the contaminated water in the ocean is the only reasonable answer, assuming that it will be diluted enough, especially with the majority of the remaining isotopes, tritium, relatively weak and deemed to be relatively harmless.

The opposing camp, e.g., fishing interests, neighbouring countries like South Korea and China, and environmentalists, do not agree that the ocean is a universal dumping ground, especially for radioactive water.

After all, even assuming that TEPCO is able to remove the most dangerous isotopes, like Stronium-90, leaving only tritium, similar to all radioactive substances, tritium is:

(1) a carcinogen (causes cancer),

(2) a mutagen (causes genetic mutation) and

(3) a teratogen (causes malformation of an embryo).

This is indisputable medical fact.

Moreover, it takes years and years for the damage of radioactivity to show up in human bodies. That is how nuclear power advocates get a “free ride”. It takes years and decades before the true impact of radioactive isotopes are fully recognised in humanoids.

Chernobyl is a prime example of this latent impact of radioactive exposure, to wit:

A BBC special report, “The True Toll of the Chernobyl Disaster,” dated July 26 2019 explains: “The official, internationally recognised death toll, just 31 people died as an immediate result of Chernobyl while the UN estimates that only 50 deaths can be directly attributed to the disaster.” Keep those two numbers of deaths, 31 and 50, in mind while reading ahead.

According to that same BBC article, the Russian Academy of Sciences said as many as 112,000-125,000 Chernobyl victims died by 2005, not 50 or 31 deaths. Therefore, the real death count is 2,500 times more than the official report by the UN. As it happens, radiation takes its merry ole time blasting, destroying, and/or altering human cell structure before it shows up as chronic illness or death.

Moreover, in the BBC article, Ukrainian authorities claimed death rates of Chernobyl cleanup workers rose from 3.5 to 17.5 deaths per 1,000 over 24 years from 1988 to 2012 on a database of 651,453 cleanup workers. That equates to another 11,392 deaths, not 31 or 50 deaths.

Moreover, Belarus had 99,693 cleanup workers, which equals another 1,732 deaths, once again, not 31 or 50 deaths. 

Furthermore, disability amongst workers on Chernobyl showed 5 per cent of workers were still healthy in 2012, meaning 95 per cent unhealthy, with commonality of cardiovascular and circulatory diseases and nervous system issues.

By 2008, in Belarus alone, 40,049 “liquidators” Chernobyl cleanup workers registered cancer illnesses.

Viktor Sushko, deputy director general of the National Research Centre for Radiation Medicine based in Kiev, Ukraine, described the Chernobyl disaster as: “The largest anthropogenic disaster in the history of humankind”. That is not an overstatement. It is true.

“As of January 2018, 1.8 million people in Ukraine, including 377,589 children, were considered victims of the Chernobyl nuclear meltdown, according to Dr. Sushko. Not only that, there was a rapid increase in the number of people with disabilities, rising from 40,106 in 1995 to 107,115 in 2018.” 

For further evidence of the latent impact of exposure to radioactive isotopes, and a good reason not to dump radioactive substances into the ocean, according to a USA Today article in 2016: “Chernobyl’s Legacy: Kids With Bodies Ravaged by Disaster”:

“There are 2,397,863 people registered with Ukraine’s health ministry to receive ongoing Chernobyl-related health care. Of these, 453,391 are children — none born at the time of the accident. Their parents were children in 1986. These children have a range of illnesses: respiratory, digestive, musculoskeletal, eye diseases, blood diseases, cancer, congenital malformations, genetic abnormalities, trauma.”

Many of the children are hidden away deep in the forested countryside in orphanages in Belarus.

All of which supports the viewpoint that radioactive contaminated water should never be dumped into the ocean.

TEPCO and their experts say tritium is not necessarily dangerous, assuming enough dilution of the isotope; however, there is evidence to suggest beta particles emitted by tritium are more effective at causing cancer than high-energy radiation such as gamma rays. Low-energy electrons (tritium) produce a greater impact because they don’t have the energy to spread impact. At the end of its atomic-scale trip it delivers most of its ionising energy in one relatively confined track rather than shedding energy along its path like higher-energy particles. This is known as “density of ionisation.” As such, scientists say any amount of radiation poses a health risk. 

In the final analysis, radioactive isotopes accumulate in living tissue, whether fish or human, and over time disrupt DNA and alter genes to the extent that chronic illnesses overwhelm functionality, as such, given enough time, malformation and/or death ensues. As discussed previously, examples of that happening in the aftermath of Chernobyl are far-reaching. One can only conclude that any amount of tritium dumped into the ocean will become part of the “accumulation process” within living creatures.

Further to the point, dumping Fukushima Daiichi’s contaminated water into the ocean will likely result in the worst PR stunt ever committed by a major nation/state, the worst since human writing started 5,000 years ago.

Sputnik: What realistic alternatives are there to releasing this waste into the Pacific?

Robert Hunziker: At the end of the day, there are no good alternatives. Radioactive isotopes simply do not go away until decay sets in for years and sometimes decades and sometimes centuries. 

Some suggested alternatives include evaporating the water into the atmosphere or mixing it into concrete and storing it underground. Neither alternative has been pursued for various unstated reasons.

Environmentalists, and scientists, suggest building as many storage tanks as required and suffer the consequences within Japan, not the world.

After all, the world community did not choose to build one of the world’s largest nuclear facilities on the shoreline of the Pacific Ocean in a country sitting on top of the infamous volcanic zone known as the Pacific Ring of Fire, the most active earthquake belt in the world. It’s why Japan experiences 1,500 earthquakes per year, proving the validity of the saying, “think before you design/build”.

Sputnik: Does Japan have a plausible alternative to continuing to make use of nuclear power?

Robert Hunziker: Of course they have alternatives to nuclear power, as do most countries of the world. More to the point, they’ve gotten along just fine since 2011, almost a full decade, without nuclear power, other than a recent startup of a plant or two. Japan should send a delegation to Norway, which produces 98 per cent of its energy from renewables or to Iceland, which is a world leader in renewable energy. It’s an island, same as Japan.

Seven countries are at, or very nearly, 100 per cent renewable power, to wit: Iceland, Paraguay, Costa Rica, Norway, Austria, Brazil, and Denmark. Japan needs to explore the world. Solutions are already at work and fully operational for all to see in the field.

https://sputniknews.com/analysis/202011101081117097-brutal-truth-fukushimas-radioactive-water-threatens-life-worldwide-warns-environmental-journo/?fbclid=IwAR006CaM_AuyEnqXiip31zBFRnzyP6HDQYWpBz8btTYJa1P0oQa0-_hbkcs

November 15, 2020 Posted by | Fukushima 2020 | , , , | Leave a comment

Taiwan to talk to Japan on radioactive wastewater discharge

November 9, 2020

Taipei, Nov. 9 (CNA) Taiwan’s Atomic Energy Council said Monday it will continue to contact Japan on how the country plans to deal with contaminated water from the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, which is expected to run out of storage space in 2022.

The power plant has been shut down since it experienced a nuclear meltdown in 2011 after Japan was hit by a massive tsunami and earthquake, and it currently stores more than 1 million cubic meters of water containing tritium, a radioactive variant of hydrogen.

Tritium cannot be removed from water with existing technology, but because it poses a relatively low risk to human health, it is common for nuclear plants to dump water with tritium into the ocean after diluting it.

The Fukushima plant’s plan to dump its stored water that way has received pushback from people who live in the region, especially fishermen, who fear that it will damage the region’s reputation, according to local media reports.

Another option is to evaporate the wastewater into the air, according to the International Atomic Energy Agency.

In August 2019, the company that runs the power plant, Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings Inc., announced that storage space for the contaminated water would run out in 2022.

This issue was brought up in Taiwan on Monday by Legislator Wu Szu-yao (吳思瑤) from the ruling Democratic Progressive Party, who asked the Atomic Energy Council to come up with contingency plans.

In response, the council said that the Japanese government has not yet decided when and how it will deal with the wastewater.

The council reached out to the Japanese government in September 2019 and March 2020 to ask about the situation and remind Japan to share timely information about the situation in accordance with a memorandum signed between the two countries in 2014.

It said it will keep in contact with Japan to obtain necessary information.

The council has also conducted tests to monitor the level of tritium in Taiwan’s surrounding waters and found that current levels are normal, it said.

(By Fan Cheng-hsiang and Chiang Yi-ching)

https://focustaiwan.tw/society/202011090021

November 15, 2020 Posted by | Fukushima 2020 | , , , | Leave a comment

In desperate search of disposal sites for its nuclear waste, Japan offers poisonous grants to two small villages

Masao Takimoto chez lui à Kamoenai, sur l’île d’Hokkaido au Japon, devant des affiches où l’on peut lire « Non aux déchets nucléaires ».

November 9, 2020

One morning in September, 87-year-old retiree Masao Takimoto was reading the newspaper in his house in Kamoenai when a news story captured his attention, ruined his day and changed the course of this quiet fishing village on the island of Hokkaido, in northern Japan : the mayor of the village of 822 had agreed to a preliminary study to host a disposal site for highly radioactive nuclear waste, for which the Japanese government would award 2 billion yen (€16 million, US$19 million) in subsidies.

Mr Takimoto didn’t waste a single minute. He wrote a letter of protest and delivered it by hand to the mayor’s house. Over the following days, he produced and distributed leaflets alerting others to the dangers of the nuclear disposal site and tried to gain access to the meetings that were being hastily held. His journey to activism resulted in tensions and anonymous threats. Ultimately he was unable to stop the mayor from signing on 9 October an application with the Nuclear Waste Management Organisation (NUMO), a quasi-governmental body charged with managing Japan’s radioactive waste.

Meanwhile, just 40 km away, another fishing village of 2,900 inhabitants quickly mobilised to prevent their mayor from volunteering for the same study. Suttsu, 40 per cent of whose inhabitants are over 65 years old, announced in August its interest in applying for the large subsidy to combat depopulation. Haruo Kataoka, 71, the town’s mayor since 2001, has been accused of ignoring civil society groups, national anti-nuclear organisations, fishers’ associations, leaders of neighbouring municipalities, the think tank CEMIPOS and even the governor of Hokkaido. The region, a major source of fishing and agricultural resources, has an ordinance opposing nuclear waste in its territory.

“We want to vote on the proposal. We’re worried about our fishing industry. If nuclear waste is stored here and there are problems in the future, we won’t be able to protect the environment or our jobs,” says Toshihiko Yoshino, a fishing entrepreneur in Suttsu. Yoshino processes and sells the local specialty, oysters, young sardines and anchovies. On 10 September, with a group of residents both young and old, he founded the organisation ‘No to Nuclear Waste for the Children of Suttsu.’ They collected signatures to request a referendum. On the eight day they launched a campaign to implement it, in collaboration with civil groups in the region. Their efforts were in vain : the mayor signed the application in Tokyo the following day. The previous morning, a Molotov cocktail exploded at the mayor’s house, an incident that left no one injured.

Someone broke the bicycle that Junko Kosaka, 71, was using to hand out leaflets against the nuclear disposal site. She has been a member of the opposition in the Suttsu council for nine years and laments the tension and discord between neighbours. “The village has no financial problems. There are fishing companies and profitable sales of fish. We receive a large budget from Japanese citizens who support rural areas through the Hometown Tax scheme.” She was surprised by the age of NUMO’s managers, all of whom are elderly, and believes that young people should decide their own future. “I would like the managers to reflect, to rethink nuclear energy. We are a country of disasters.”

Emptying villages and poor employment prospects

Japan is the world’s fourth largest producer of nuclear power after the United States, France and China. Distributed across the archipelago, 54 reactors generated 30 per cent of electricity until 2011. Despite having shut down the majority of reactors following the fatal accident of Fukushima, Japan’s commitment to nuclear energy remains firm, though not without controversy. Nine reactors are still in operation and 18 are waiting to be reactivated to generate 20 per cent of the country’s electricity in 2030.

Since 2002, the government has been looking for a location for a permanent geological repository, concrete structures at least 300 metres below ground that will store radioactive waste for millennia so as not to affect life and the environment. Desperate to solve a global and irreversible problem of the nuclear age, Japan is offering subsidies to encourage localities to host the repository. Small villages with declining populations and uncertain futures are attracted by the promise of money and jobs. The first phase will consist of two years of feasibility research. For the following phase, a four-year preliminary geological investigation, villages will receive an additional 7 billion. The final phase will consist of digging and the construction of the underground facility, a process that will last 14 years. But where is the waste ? “It cools off in overflowing pools while time runs out,” say many frustrated opponents of nuclear energy in Japan.

For decades Japan has been shipping tons of spent fuel to France and England for reprocessing, but the resulting radioactive waste must be returned to the country of origin for disposal by the IAEA. Japan only has a temporary repository (between 30 and 50 years – and half of that time is already up) in the village of Rokkasho, but 40,000 highly polluting cylinders are waiting for a permanent storage (the construction of which could take at least 20 years). The central government must also find storage for low-intensity waste occupying the equivalent of eight Olympic-size swimming pools. Every time a power plant operator uses gloves, a suit or tools, the earth fills with rubbish that contaminates for generations. France, Belgium, Sweden and Spain already have disposal sites for several centuries and Finland has just opened a permanent site in one of the oldest rock formations in Europe.

In 2007, the city of Toyo asked to enter the preliminary study but soon backed out after facing strong local opposition. In 2017, the central government released a map of potentially suitable sites. It ruled out sites near active volcanoes and fault lines, as well as areas with recent seismic activity. A wide area of Suttsu and a small portion of Kamoenai are seen to be favourable. Both locations are very close to the Tomari nuclear power plant, which is currently inactive.

The residents of Suttsu turned to experts for help. On 2 October, Hideyuki Ban, co-director of the Citizens’ Nuclear Information Centre came to the town with a renowned geologist to provide information to residents. According to the nuclear expert : “There is no space for the nuclear repository in Suttsu. We have to reclaim land from the sea and there hasn’t been enough research. Our country is not a geologically stable territory.” He says that 200 people attended the seminar, including the mayor “who must have already made the decision.” Is it safe ? “It is not safe, there could be leaks. Currently there is no appropriate technology in the world for handling radioactive waste. The only way to reduce it is to shut down the plants.” So what should be done with the waste ? “More research should be done and it should be buried using deep borehole disposal at more than 3,000 metres below the earth’s surface.”

A debated that is not promoted

Nobody in Kamoenai wants to talk to the press. By mid-morning, the boats have returned and the women are cleaning the salmon for sale. There are empty houses and closed businesses which have seen better days. In the main street, an imposing building is under construction : the new town hall, just opposite the old one. “I’m an employee of the town hall and I’m not authorised to respond,” says one young woman. “I’m not an expert, I can’t give an opinion,” says a young man. “I don’t want to talk, I could lose my job,” says a worried woman. “We have the power plant nearby and nothing bad has ever happened,” says another evasively. Takimoto is the only person willing to speak out without fear : “It’s an obscure and cowardly process, nothing is transparent. The political administration is stifling the voices of the people. It’s strange that the most important thing, safety, isn’t being mentioned. We have to think about future dangers.”

“The government claims that it will be safe for years to come, that’s their argument. But should we believe it ? The experts say the opposite. Just this year, on the 75th anniversary of the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, I was reading testimonies that made me cry. I have seen the effects of radiation on patients. I don’t want the children of Fukushima or of my village to suffer from it. We have to imagine a village without a nuclear power station or nuclear waste and that’s what I’m going to dedicate myself to,” he adds.

“I’ve been booed at local meetings, but there are people who support me in secret. Many of them pretend to be in favour but deep down they’re not. They don’t speak out for fear of losing their jobs, like the relatives of plant employees.” Takimoto refuses to give up. He has offered his experience in the health sector as a resource to help revitalise the town through projects such as medical tourism, but he has been unable to prevent the application from going through.

The Japanese government has welcomed the two locations (Kamoenai and Suttsu) and NUMO’s president expressed gratitude “for the courageous step”. The Minister of Industry said that they “will do their best to win the support of the people.” But the governor of Hokkaido has firmly stated that he will oppose the second phase. Those who oppose the disposal site fear that receiving the subsidies will make it difficult to back out due to government pressure. According to local journalists Chie Yamashita and Yui Takahashi of the Mainichi Shinbun : “Without going into whether or not applying is the right thing to do, there needs to be a debate about the management of radioactive waste and the process of selecting a location.” Everyone consulted for this article is calling for a national debate, which the government has not yet set in motion.

Some residents, like Takimoto, continue to protest : “No to nuclear waste. Life is more important than money.” On the poster, a baby dreams of a world and an ocean without pollution.

https://www.equaltimes.org/in-desperate-search-of-disposal#.X6mvJVBCeUl

November 15, 2020 Posted by | Japan | , , | Leave a comment

Korean Ministry calls for IAEA efforts to ensure Japan’s transparent handling of Fukushima treated water

Head of the International Atomic Energy Agency’s department of safeguard Massimo Aparo waves his hand as he walks into the conference hall in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs’s building in Seoul, Tuesday.

November 5, 2020

Korea called Tuesday for the U.N. nuclear watchdog to play an “active” role in ensuring Japan’s transparent and safe handling of contaminated water from its crippled Fukushima nuclear power plant, the foreign ministry said.

Ham Sang-wook, deputy foreign minister for multilateral and global affairs, made the call during an annual policy consultation with Massimo Aparo, the head of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA)’s department of safeguards.

“On the occasion of this consultation, our side stressed the contaminated water issue is a crucial matter that can affect the safety and environment of Japan’s neighboring countries and of the entire international community,” the ministry said in a press release.

“It asked the IAEA to play an active role in terms of securing transparency and verifying the safety in all processes of the Japanese government crafting measures to dispose of the water and disposing of it,” it added.

Amid public concerns over Japan’s possible discharge of the radioactive water into the sea, Seoul has repeatedly called for Tokyo to transparently share related information and stressed its “foremost priority” on the safety of citizens.

Last month, Tokyo was expected to finalize its plan to dispose of the tritium-laced water. But it apparently postponed an announcement on its decision amid strong protests.

At Tuesday’s talks, the ministry and the U.N. agency also discussed cooperation in strengthening readiness to monitor and verify North Korea’s nuclear activity. (Yonhap)

https://www.koreatimes.co.kr/www/nation/2020/11/356_298715.html

November 15, 2020 Posted by | Fukushima 2020 | , , , , | Leave a comment

Suga: Japan has no plan for new nuclear plants

Nov. 4, 2020

Prime Minister Suga Yoshihide has ruled out new nuclear plants or new reactors for Japan at this point, as the country aims to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions to net zero by 2050.

Suga was answering questions from Constitutional Democratic Party leader Edano Yukio in the Lower House Budget Committee on Wednesday.

Edano urged an early end to Japan’s reliance on nuclear power. He noted that many people who were forced to evacuate after the 2011 accident at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant are still unable to go back home. He said it is inconceivable to build a new nuclear plant.

Suga said he has declared that Japan would become carbon neutral by 2050, despite differing views within his Liberal Democratic Party. He stressed the government has no plan to build any nuclear plant.

In the same committee, Economy, Trade and Industry Minister Kajiyama Hiroshi said his ministry will continue efforts to upgrade safety so that nuclear power would remain an option in 2050. He said the efforts will include development of new technologies, such as advanced innovative reactors.

https://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/en/news/20201104_32/?fbclid=IwAR0T4xmx3iXwGzTuGbs392X601LyvMwWR2QqSADflPgAgioiryn0Tz0UGkk

November 15, 2020 Posted by | Japan | , | Leave a comment

Japan left with only one nuclear reactor working due to shutdown

Kansai Electric Power Co.’s Oi nuclear power plant No. 3 reactor, left, and the No. 4 reactor in Oi, Fukui Prefecture, in 2017

November 4, 2020

Japan will have to limp by on just one nuclear reactor for the next six weeks after Kansai Electric Power Co. shut down the No. 4 reactor at its Oi nuclear plant in Fukui Prefecture, western Japan, for regular maintenance on Nov. 3.

That task will fall to the No. 4 reactor of Kyushu Electric Power Co.’s Genkai nuclear power plant in Genkai, Saga Prefecture.

All nuclear power plants shut down in Japan in the aftermath of the 2011 earthquake and tsunami disaster that crippled the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant in Fukushima Prefecture.

Since then, the Kansai, Shikoku and Kyushu electric power utilities restarted operations of nine reactors at five nuclear power plants.

This is the first time since May 2017 that all nuclear reactors operated by Kansai Electric remain suspended.

Electric power companies are required to construct an anti-terrorism facility at their nuclear power plants under stringent new safety regulations imposed after the triple meltdown at the Fukushima plant.

But Kansai Electric failed to meet the deadline at the Takahama nuclear power plant in Takahama, Fukui Prefecture, forcing it to take its No. 3 and No. 4 reactors offline.

In addition, pipes need to be replaced at its Oi nuclear power plant’s No. 3 reactor.

Kansai Electric submitted repair plans to the government and expects to finish the work in January so it can restart the reactor in February at the earliest.

In January this year, the Hiroshima High Court granted a provisional disposition order to stop Shikoku Electric’s Ikata nuclear power plant’s No. 3 reactor in Ikata, Ehime Prefecture, which means it is unlikely to come back online until next March at the earliest.

Kyushu Electric’s Sendai nuclear power plant’s No. 1 and No. 2 reactors in Satsuma-Sendai, Kagoshima Prefecture, were also suspended after construction of an anti-terrorism facility fell behind schedule.

The Genkai nuclear power plant’s No. 3 reactor is undergoing regular inspections, so only the No. 4 reactor is still operating.

This situation is expected to continue until Dec. 22 when Kansai Electric plans to restart the No. 3 reactor at its Takahama nuclear power plant.

http://www.asahi.com/ajw/articles/13900336

November 15, 2020 Posted by | Japan | | Leave a comment

‘South Korea Considers Joining IAEA Monitoring of Fukushima Discharge Plan’

November 4, 2020

Presidential chief of staff Noh Young-min said South Korea is considering joining the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA)’s monitoring of Japan’s reported plan to release radioactive water from the Fukushima nuclear power plant into the sea. 

In a parliamentary audit Wednesday, Noh said Japan is expected to request reliable international agencies such as the IAEA to play a role in securing global trust in the process. 

He said the Seoul government has consistently asked Japan to transparently disclose information and maintain sufficient communication and consultations with the international community.

He said a task force set up within the presidential office continues to monitor the issue and discuss countermeasures.

Meanwhile the chief of staff said the top office was cooperating with calls to submit records related to the prosecution’s investigation into hedge fund fraud scandals involving Lime and Optimus asset management, adding that some records have already been submitted.

November 15, 2020 Posted by | Fukushima 2020 | , , , | Leave a comment

Japan faces another Fukushima disaster crisis

Collecting sea water samples near the damaged Fukushima nuclear power station.

November 3rd, 2020, by Paul Brown

A plan to dump a million tonnes of radioactive water from the Fukushima disaster off Japan is alarming local people.

LONDON, 3 November, 2020 − The Japanese government has an unsolvable problem: what to do with more than a million tonnes of water contaminated with radioactive tritium, in store since the Fukushima disaster and growing at more than 150 tonnes a day.

The water, contained in a thousand giant tanks, has been steadily accumulating since the nuclear accident in 2011. It has been used to cool the three reactors that suffered a meltdown as a result of the tsunami that hit the coast.

Tritium is a radioactive element produced as a by-product by nuclear reactors under normal operation, and is present everywhere in the fabric of the reactor buildings, so water used for cooling them is bound to be contaminated by it.

To avoid another potentially catastrophic meltdown in the remaining fuel the cooling has to continue indefinitely, so the problem continues to worsen. The government has been told that Japan will run out of storage tanks by 2022.

Announcement delayed

As often happens when governments are faced with difficult problems, the unpalatable decision to release the contaminated water into the sea has not been formally announced, but the intention of the government to take this course has been leaked and so widely reported.

Immediately both local and worldwide adverse reaction has resulted. There are the direct effects on the local fishermen who fear that no one will want to buy their catch, but over a wider area the health effects are the main concern.

As ever with the nuclear industry, there are two widely different views on tritium. The Health Physics Society says it is a mildly radioactive element that is present everywhere, and doubts that people will be affected by it. But the Nuclear Information and Resource Service believes tritium is far more dangerous and increases the likelihood of cancers, birth defects and genetic disorders.

The issue is further complicated because the Fukushima wastewater contains a number of other radionuclides, not in such high quantities, but sufficient to cause damage. Ian Fairlie, an independent consultant on radioactivity in the environment, is extremely concerned about Japan’s plans and the health of the local people.

“Ten half-lives for tritium is 123 years: that’s how long these tanks will have to last – at least. This will allow time also for politicians to reflect on the wisdom of their support for nuclear power”

In a detailed assessment of the situation he says other highly dangerous radioactive substances, including caesium-137 and strontium-90, are also in the water stored at Fukushima.

They are in lower quantities than the tritium, he says, but still unacceptably high – up to 100 times above the legally permitted limit. All these radionuclides decay over time − some take thousands of years − but tritium decays faster, the danger from it halving every 12.3 years.

In a briefing for the Nuclear Free Local Authorities (NFLA), a UK based organisation, another independent analyst, Tim Deere-Jones, discusses research that shows that tritium binds with organic material in plants and animals.

This is potentially highly damaging to human health because it travels up the food chain in the marine environment, specifically accumulating in fish. This means fish-eating communities on the Japanese coast could ingest much larger quantities of tritium than some physicists think likely.

Relying on dilution

Tim Deere-Jones is also concerned that the tritium will be blown inshore on the prevailing wind in sea spray and will bio-accumulate in food plants, making it risky to eat crops as far as ten miles inland. Because of the potential dangers of releasing the water the NFLA has asked the Japanese government to reconsider its decision.

The government has not yet responded though, because officially it is still considering what to do. However, it is likely to argue that pumping the contaminated water into the sea is acceptable because it will be diluted millions of times, and anyway seawater does already contain minute quantities of tritium.

Dr Fairlie is among many who think this is too dangerous, but he admits there are no easy solutions.

He says: “Barring a miraculous technical discovery which is unlikely, I think TEPCO/Japanese Gov’t [TEPCO is the Tokyo Electric Power Company, owner of the Fukushima Daiichi plant]  will have to buy more land and keep on building more holding tanks to allow for tritium decay to take place. Ten half-lives for tritium is 123 years: that’s how long these tanks will have to last – at least.

“This will allow time not only for tritium to decay, but also for politicians to reflect on the wisdom of their support for nuclear power.” − Climate News Network

November 15, 2020 Posted by | Fukushima 2020 | , , | Leave a comment