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‘It will take 300 years before contaminated water is safe to discharge into sea’

Not only 300 years, more than 300 years….
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Experts warn there is no safe threshold for radioactive exposure
September 18, 2019
By Kim Jae-heun
Nuclear experts from around the world are condemning the Japanese government’s possible move to discharge radioactive water from the destroyed Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant into the Pacific Ocean.
The plan is raising concerns especially in Korea, Japan’s closest neighbor, as the discharged water will have a direct influence on the marine life and ecosystem in its territorial waters and eventually the people themselves.
As of Aug. 22, about 1.1 million tons of contaminated water are being stored in 977 tanks at the power plant in Fukushima, which was destroyed by an earthquake and resultant tsunami in 2011. The Japanese government has said it will only build more facilities through 2020 and this will bring the total stored to 1.37 million tons.
By August 2020, all the storage facilities are projected to be filled and there will be no more tanks to hold the 170 tons of radiation contaminated water created every day.
Tokyo has remained quit on how it will cope with the radioactive water, not giving any clear answers to the international community. The possibility of discharging it into the sea was raised recently after Shaun Burnie, a senior nuclear specialist at the German branch of the environmental group Greenpeace, warned in August that Japan could dump over 1 million tons of radioactive waste into the Pacific.
Since then, Japanese government officials began to discuss the issue. They say almost all the radioactivity has been removed from the water except for tritium, claiming this metal is relatively nonhazardous ― something experts disagree with, noting it can cause cancer and fetal deformities.
Former Japanese Environment Minister Yoshiaki Harada said in a recent interview that there was no other option but to dilute the contaminated water by pumping it into in the sea in order to dispose of it; although Japanese Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said Harada’s remarks were only his personal opinion and the government had not made any decision.
Burnie, however, says this was only the “cheapest” option.
“This is the principal reason. They do not want to pay the full costs of storing and processing the contaminated water, including removal of radioactive tritium,” Burnie said during an email interview with The Korea Times. “For these reasons, in 2016, the Ministry of Economy Task Force on water turned down the options offered by various companies to develop tritium removal technology.”
Kim Ik-jung, a former medical professor at Dongguk University who served as a member of the Nuclear Safety and Security Commission here, agreed that discharging the contaminated water into the sea was the cheapest and fastest way to get rid of it, but at the same time it was also the most dangerous.
“There is another option to deal with radioactive water. Japan can keep it in the tanks until the radiation level becomes low enough. But this takes time and money. It will take about 300 years until it is okay to discharge the water,” Kim said.
Hiroaki Koide, an assistant professor at the Research Reactor Institute of Kyoto University in Japan, said he thinks the Japanese government will go ahead and discharge the radiation-contaminated water into the sea in the near future, and this must be stopped at all cost.
“Being exposed to radiation, even if it is a very small amount, is still dangerous. Nobody should discharge radiation into the environment including the ocean,” Koide said.
According to a Greenpeace report released earlier this year, the Japanese government has reviewed five options to deal with the accumulating radioactive waste, and discharging it into the Pacific Ocean was considered the most reasonable as it would only cost 37.7 billion won, based on 2016 calculations by the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry. The ministry also concluded that other options also entailed various risks.
Greenpeace Korea believes that if the Japanese government decides to discard the contaminated water, it will only do so after the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.
It argues that the Shinzo Abe administration will not court controversy while it has the world’s full attention during the Games scheduled between July 24 and Aug. 9.
“The Japanese government cannot just discard radioactive waste at its own discretion. It is watching how other countries are reacting to its hints that it could discharge the contaminated water into the ocean. That’s why the former Japanese environment minister made such remarks on the day he retired,” a Greenpeace Korea official said.
Concerns over Tokyo Olympics amid radiation issue
The Japanese government’s plan to dump contaminated wastewater is not the only issue related to Fukushima.
In less than a year, Japan will hold one of the world’s biggest sporting events, and nuclear experts around the world have expressed concerns that participating athletes could be exposed to radiation.
Koide says Olympic committees from all over the world should decide to boycott the Tokyo Olympic Games.
Last year, the scholar sent a document to Olympic committee members worldwide, warning of the radiation danger athletes and visitors will face.
In the letter, Koide questioned Japan’s suitability as the host of a worldwide event like the Olympics, and the country’s capability to take strict safety measures necessary to protect athletes and other visitors.
The professor further explained that the resultant radioactive materials leak from the explosion at the Fukushima plant in 2011 is still affecting “an area whose vastness has not been precisely determined yet.”
“Seven years have passed and the situation has not improved at all. As an honorable and honest citizen of Japan, I am asking you to reconsider your country’s participation in the Olympic Games that will take place in Tokyo in 2020,” he wrote in a letter sent in October 2018.
Burnie sided with Koide by saying that the Japanese government was being dishonest in the way it was using the Olympics to communicate with the world and its citizen that there has been a full recovery from the Fukushima nuclear disaster, and there are no radiation risks.
“The reality of Fukushima Prefecture is highly complex with many citizens living in areas with low radiation risks ― at the same time there are areas in Fukushima, such as Namie and Iitate, where radiation risks are high, and tens of thousands of citizens remain displaced as evacuees,” Burnie said.
The Japanese government also announced that it would host baseball games and softball games in Fukushima, while providing food made from ingredients grown in the region.
Japanese Prime Minister Abe ate a rice ball made with crops grown there to demonstrate that the food was safe, but many criticized that this was a dangerous act.
“I don’t know if Abe ate it because he really thought it was safe or just for show. But it was a really dangerous act. Whatever is affected by radiation is dangerous without question,” Kim said.
“According to textbooks, if a person is exposed to radiation, be it internal or external, he or she is highly likely to develop cancer or hereditary disorders. Heart disease is also a common result.”
Korean government’s response
The Korean government is alarmed by the possible discharge of contaminated water, but is unable to strongly request the Japanese government not to do so, because the latter keeps saying it has yet to make a decision about how it will dispose of the water.
In mid-August, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs asked the Japanese government to state its official stance on the issue. Environment Minister Cho Myung-rae said on social media Sunday, “We’ve asked the Japanese government to share material about how it is coping with the contaminated water from Fukushima, but it has avoided giving answers. It should take responsibility as a member of the international community by sharing information with its neighboring countries and holding sufficient talks with them.”
The government also called on international society at a general meeting of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) in Vienna, Austria, Monday, to take collective action against the possibility of Japan discharging the water into the ocean.
Mun Mi-ock, the first vice minister of science and ICT, said in a keynote speech that Japan has failed to find an answer to the disposal of the radioactive waste since the meltdown at the Fukushima plant in March 2011.
“It is an important international issue that can affect the marine environment of the whole world, so the IAEA and its members need to take joint action,” Moon said.
The IAEA has no right to regulate a particular country, but the government believes public opinion formed against Japan could prevent it from dumping the radioactive water into the ocean as it counts 171 countries as members.
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September 26, 2019 Posted by | fukushima 2019 | , , | Leave a comment

S. Korea slams Japan’s actions over Fukushima plant water crisis

Japan is talking about transparency, what transparency?
The transparency of so many lies, cover-ups, and denials during the past 8 years?
Dishonesty at its maximum?
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South Korea’s First Vice Minister of Science and Information and Communication Technology Moon Mi-ok speaks at an IAEA General Conference in Vienna on Sept. 16.
September 18, 2019
VIENNA–South Korea asked the International Atomic Energy Agency to step in on how to manage radioactive water accumulating at the crippled Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant, citing concerns the water may be discharged into the Pacific Ocean.
During the IAEA’s General Conference here, South Korea’s First Vice Minister of Science and Information and Communication Technology Moon Mi-ok said Sept. 16 that the issue of contaminated water has not been resolved, “escalating fear and anxiety throughout the world.”
She said that if contaminated water is discharged into the ocean, it would no longer be Japan’s domestic problem, “but a grave international issue that can affect the whole global marine environment,” Moon said.
She called on the IAEA to get actively involved in how to deal with the situation and urged Japan to take effective steps to resolve the crisis.
Ambassador Takeshi Hikihara, Japan’s representative to the international organizations in Vienna, dismissed Moon’s comments.
Hikihara said Japan had already accepted on-site inspections by an IAEA team of experts and its actions to deal with radioactive water had been well-received.
Hikihara said Japan is still studying ways to dispose of the water and will continue to disseminate its plans. He called Moon’s comments “unacceptable,” saying they were based on the assumption that the water would be discharged into the ocean.
Another Japanese official stressed that transparency was a key ingredient in conveying information about the Fukushima nuclear accident and insisted they had given detailed explanations to the international community about what was going on.
Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga disputed Moon’s statements at a Sept. 17 news conference.
“What she said was not based on facts and scientific grounds. It is extremely regrettable since it can spread baseless negative publicity,” he said.
Tokyo Electric Power Co., operator of the Fukushima plant, said tanks holding contaminated water are expected to have reached capacity by summer 2022.
One option under consideration is to dilute the water and gradually release it into the ocean.
The plant had a triple meltdown after tsunami spawned by the Great East Japan Earthquake inundated the coastal site in March 2011 and knocked out its cooling systems.

September 26, 2019 Posted by | fukushima 2019 | , , , | Leave a comment

Trial of Tepco executives over Japan’s Fukushima disaster heads to conclusion

kjkmlù.jpgThe Tokyo Electric Power Co. (TEPCO)’s Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant in Fukushima prefecture, is seen in these aerial view images taken in October 2008 (top) and on February 26, 2012, in this combination photo released by Kyodo on March 7, 2012, ahead of the one-year anniversary of the March 11 earthquake and tsunami

September 17, 2019

TOKYO (Reuters) – A Tokyo court will hand down a verdict later this week on whether three Tokyo Electric Power executives are liable for the 2011 Fukushima disaster, the only criminal case to arise out of the world’s worst nuclear crisis since Chernobyl in 1986.

The trial, which started in June 2017, was conducted by state-appointed lawyers after prosecutors decided not to bring charges against the executives of the company known as Tepco.

Former Tepco Chairman Tsunehisa Katsumata and onetime executives Sakae Muto and Ichiro Takekuro apologised during the first hearing at the Tokyo District Court for causing trouble to the victims and society, but pleaded not guilty.

The Fukushima Daiichi nuclear station, located about 220 km (130 miles) northeast of Tokyo, was rocked by a magnitude 9.0 earthquake and subsequent tsunami in March 2011, sparking three reactor meltdowns and prompting Japan to shut down its entire fleet of nuclear reactors.

Lawyers acting as prosecutors said the three executives had access to data and studies anticipating the risk to the area from a tsunami exceeding 10 metres (33 feet) in height that could trigger power loss and cause a nuclear disaster.

Lawyers for the defendants, however, said the estimates were not well established, and even experts had divisive views on how the Fukushima reactors would be affected by a tsunami.

The three former Tepco (9501.T) executives are the first individuals to face criminal charges for the Fukushima nuclear disaster, but a high bar for proof may prevent a conviction. Prosecutors had declined to bring charges, citing insufficient evidence, but a civilian judiciary panel twice voted to indict the executives, overruling the determination not to go to trial.

“If I were a gambling man I would certainly not bet on a conviction. The citizen-panel initiated trials do not have a good success rate,” Colin Jones, a professor at the Doshisha Law School in Kyoto, told Reuters.

“The charitable view would be that prosecutors don’t take cases unless they know they can win, so it shouldn’t be surprising that the cases they don’t want to take end up being losers,” he said.

Citizen judiciary panels, selected by lottery, are a rarely used feature of Japan’s legal system introduced after World War Two to curb bureaucratic overreach.

Indictments brought by the panels, however, have a low conviction rate. One review of eight of these cases by the Eiko Sogo Law Office found just one, equal to a 17 percent conviction rate, compared with an overall rate of 98 percent in Japan.

Japan’s government estimated in 2016 that the total cost of dismantling Tepco’s Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, decontaminating the affected areas, and paying compensation would amount to around $200 billion (£161.26 billion).

More than 160,000 residents fled nearby towns in the aftermath of the March 2011 tsunami as radiation from the reactor meltdowns contaminated water, food and air.

https://uk.reuters.com/article/uk-japan-fukushima/trial-of-tepco-executives-over-japans-fukushima-disaster-heads-to-conclusion-idUKKBN1W2168

September 26, 2019 Posted by | fukushima 2019 | , , , | Leave a comment

Osaka mayor Ichiro Matsui offers to take in tainted Fukushima water and dump it into Osaka Bay

2019-09-11T092608Z_1848372426_RC1A73D0EDC0_RTRMADP_3_JAPAN-FUKUSHIMA-REINVESTIGATION-870x579.jpg
Workers stand in front of storage tanks for radioactive water at the tsunami-crippled Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant in Okuma, Fukushima Prefecture, in February.
Sep 17, 2019
OSAKA – Ichiro Matsui, the mayor of Osaka and head of Nippon Ishin no Kai, said Tuesday that water tainted by radioactive tritium from the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant could — if proven environmentally safe — be sent to Osaka and dumped into Osaka Bay.
“It’s necessary for all of Japan to dispose of that which creates absolutely no environmental damage. If (the radioactive water) is brought to us, it can be released,” Matsui said.
 
He added that he first would want a team of scientific experts to study the matter, and that the team would need to show that the level of radioactivity in any Fukushima water was at or below normal levels of radiation.
Matsui’s offer comes as the central government and Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings Inc. continue to discuss what to do with the more than 1 million tons of contaminated water collected since the Fukushima plant was destroyed by an earthquake and tsunami in 2011. The water is being stored in tanks at the site, but Tepco has said it will run out of storage space in about three years.
Former Environment Minister Yoshiaki Harada angered Fukushima residents and the local fishing industry earlier this month when he said that the water might have to be dumped into the ocean. The government has said that dumping the water contaminated with tritium would not pose any health risks to humans.
“The only option will be to drain it into the sea and dilute it,” Harada told a news conference.
Newly appointed Environment Minister Shinjiro Koizumi met with Fukushima officials after assuming the post last week, but he did not clearly indicate how he wanted to deal with disposal of the radioactive water.

September 26, 2019 Posted by | fukushima 2019 | , , | Leave a comment

Koizumi hopes son will push for abandonment of nuclear power

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Former Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi gives a speech in Hitachi, Ibaraki Prefecture, on Sept. 15.
September 16, 2019
HITACHI, Ibaraki Prefecture–Former Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi said he hopes his son in his new position in the Cabinet will wean Japan from nuclear power and expand the use of natural energy.
In a speech here on Sept. 15, Koizumi said he was happy that his son, Shinjiro, 38, was appointed environment minister, his first Cabinet post, last week.
“He has studied things more than I did,” Koizumi said. “The environment is the most pressing issue. I want him to abandon nuclear power and turn Japan into a nation that can develop on natural energy.”
Koizumi also reiterated that he made a mistake when he promoted nuclear power when he was prime minister from 2001 to 2006.
Pro-nuclear advocates had said that nuclear power was safe, low-cost and clean, but Koizumi said the accident at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant in 2011 “proved all three ‘virtues’ false.”
He said Japan has abundant natural energy and should seek a path that does not rely on nuclear power.

September 26, 2019 Posted by | Japan | , | Leave a comment

Fukushima fishermen concerned for future over release of radioactive water

Eight years after the triple disaster, Japan’s local industry faces fresh crisis – the dumping of radioactive water from the power plant

 

4500Last year’s catch was just 16% of pre-crisis levels, partly because of the Japanese public’s reluctance to eat fish caught off Fukushima due to the radioactive water.

September 16, 2019

On the afternoon of 11 March 2011, Tetsu Nozaki watched helplessly as a wall of water crashed into his boats in Onahama, a small fishing port on Japan’s Pacific coast.

Nozaki lost three of his seven vessels in one of the worst tsunami disasters in Japan’s history, part of a triple disaster in which 18,000 people died. But the torment for Nozaki and his fellow fishermen didn’t end there. The resulting triple meltdown at the nearby Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant forced the evacuation of more than 150,000 people and sent a plume of radiation into the air and sea.

It also came close to crippling the region’s fishing industry.

Having spent the past eight years rebuilding, the Fukushima fishing fleet is now confronting yet another menace – the increasing likelihood that the nuclear plant’s operator, Tokyo Electric Power (Tepco), will dump huge quantities of radioactive water into the ocean.

We strongly oppose any plans to discharge the water into the sea,” Nozaki, head of Fukushima prefecture’s federation of fisheries cooperatives, told the Guardian.

Nozaki said local fishermen had “walked through brick walls” to rebuild their industry and confront what they say are harmful rumours about the safety of their seafood. Last year’s catch was just 16% of pre-crisis levels, partly because of the public’s reluctance to eat fish caught off Fukushima.

Currently, just over one million tonnes of contaminated water is held in almost 1,000 tanks at Fukushima Daiichi, but the utility has warned that it will run out of space by the summer of 2022.

Tepco has struggled to deal with the buildup of groundwater, which becomes contaminated when it mixes with water used to prevent the three damaged reactor cores from melting. Although the utility has drastically reduced the amount of wastewater, about 100 tonnes a day still flows into the reactor buildings.

Releasing it into the sea would also anger South Korea, adding to pressure on diplomatic ties already shaken by a trade dispute linked to the countries’ bitter wartime history.

Seoul, which has yet to lift an import ban on Fukushima seafood introduced in 2013, claimed last week that discharging the water would pose a “grave threat” to the marine environment – a charge rejected by Japan.

Fukushima fisheries officials point out that they operate a stringent testing regime that bans the sale of any seafood found to contain more than 50 becquerels of radioactive material per kilogram – a much lower threshold than the standard of 100 becquerels per kilogram observed in the rest of Japan.

At Onahama’s testing centre, just metres from where the catch is unloaded, eight employees conduct tests that last between five and 30 minutes depending on the size of the sample. “Tepco has said that the water can be diluted and safely discharged, but the biggest problem facing us is the spread of harmful rumours,” Hisashi Maeda, a senior Fukushima fisheries official, said as he showed the Guardian around the facility.

Confirming Maeda’s fears, almost a third of consumers outside Fukushima prefecture indicated in a survey that dumping the contaminated water into the sea would make them think twice about buying seafood from the region, compared with 20% who currently avoid the produce.

Tepco’s Advanced Liquid Processing System removes highly radioactive substances, such as strontium and caesium, from the water but the technology does not exist to filer out tritium, a radioactive isotope of hydrogen that coastal nuclear plants commonly dump along with water into the ocean. Tepco admitted last year, however, that the water in its tanks still contained contaminants beside tritium.

Supporters of the discharge option have pointed out that water containing high levels of tritium, which occurs in minute amounts in nature, would not be released until it has been diluted to meet safety standards.

But Shaun Burnie, a senior nuclear specialist with Greenpeace Germany who regularly visits Fukushima, said a proportion of radioactive tritium had the potential to deliver a concentrated dose to cell structures in plants, animals or humans. “Dilution does not avoid this problem,” he said.

Burnie believes the solution is to continue storing the water, possibly in areas outside the power plant site – a move that is likely to encounter opposition from nuclear evacuees whose abandoned villages already host millions of cubic metres of radioactive soil.

There is no short-term solution to the water problem at Fukushima Daiichi, as groundwater will continue to enter the site and become contaminated,” Burnie said. “A major step would be for the government to start being honest with the Japanese people and admit that the scale of the challenges at the site mean their entire schedule for decommissioning is a fantasy.”

No other option’

Government officials say they won’t make a decision until they have received a report from an expert panel, but there are strong indications that dumping is preferred over other options such a vaporising, burying or storing the water indefinitely.

Shinjiro Koizumi, the new environment minister, has not indicated if he shares his predecessor’s belief, voiced last week, that there is “no other option” but to discharge the water into the sea.

The International Atomic Energy Agency has recommended that Japan release the treated water, while Toyoshi Fuketa, the chairman of Japan’s Nuclear Regulation Authority, said a decision on its future must be made soon.

We are entering a period in which further delays in deciding what measure to implement will no longer be tolerable,” Fuketa said, according to the Asahi Shimbun.

Putting off a decision could delay work to locate and remove melted fuel from the damaged reactors – a process that is already expected to take four decades.

Critics say the government is reluctant to openly support the dumping option for fear of creating a fresh controversy over Fukushima during the Rugby World Cup, which starts this week, and the buildup to the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

Nozaki said he and other fishermen throughout Fukushima would continue the fight to keep the water out of the ocean. “Releasing the water would send us back to square one,” he said. “It would mean the past eight years have amounted to nothing.”

https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2019/sep/16/fukushima-fisherman-fear-for-future-over-release-of-radioactive-water?CMP=share_btn_fb&fbclid=IwAR1y0u_NJy4_EgeM-AVZqMI0i26J-FzhCC-_jUWLWOsMQQijrRJkB1mazfI

September 26, 2019 Posted by | fukushima 2019 | , , , | Leave a comment

Radioactive water at Fukushima should be stored not dumped

fuku-ocean-test-slider-pexels.png

 

Murky politics pollute the Pacific

September 15, 2019
By Linda Pentz Gunter
 
Last week, Japan’s then environment minister, Yoshiaki Harada, made news with a pronouncement that wasn’t news. The storage tanks at the stricken Fukushima Daiichi nuclear site, filled with radioactive water, were reaching capacity. By 2022 there would be no room for more tanks on the present site. Japan would then have to dump the radioactive water stored in the tanks into the Pacific Ocean, he said.
 
Although likely unrelated to those remarks, a day later, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe dispatched 19 of his cabinet ministers, including Harada. Harada was replaced as environment minister by rising star, Shinjiro Koizumi, the son of former primer minister, Junichiro Koizumi. Both father and son are opposed to nuclear energy, and on his first day in office, the younger Koizumi told reporters that he believed Japan should end its use of nuclear energy and close its nuclear power plants.
 
“I would like to study how we scrap them, not how to retain them,” Reuters reported him saying. This is a surprising position from someone inside the fervently pro-nuclear Abe government and it remains to be seen whether he will be allowed to translate his position into policy.
 
Dumping Fukushima Daiichi’s accumulated radioactive water has long been the plan proposed by Tepco, the site owner. Fukushima fishermen, along with some scientists and a number of NGOs from around the world, continue to object.

 

 

Cooling water is needed at the Fukushima site because, when Units 1, 2 and 3 lost power, they also lost the flow of reactor coolant, causing their cores to overheat. The fuel rods then melted, and molten fuel dripped down and burned through the pressure vessels, pooling in the primary containment vessels. Units 1, 3 and 4 also suffered hydrogen explosions. Each day, about 200 metric tons of cooling water is used to keep the three melted cores cool, lest they once more go critical. Eventually the water becomes too radioactive and thermally hot to be re-used, and must be discarded and stored in the tanks.

As Greenpeace International (GPI) explained in remarks and questions submitted during a consultative meeting held by the International Maritime Organization in August 2019:

“Since 2011, in order to cool the molten cores in the Tokyo Electric Power Company Fukushima Daiichi reactor units 1-3, water is continuously pumped through the damaged Reactor Pressure Vessels (RPVs) and circulated through reactor buildings, turbine buildings, the Process Main Building and the “High Temperature Incinerator Building”  and water treatment systems.

“As a result, the past eight years has seen a relentless increase in the volume of radioactive contaminated water accumulating on site. As of 4 July 2019, the total amount of contaminated water held in 939 storage tanks at the Fukushima Daiichi plant (units 1-4) was 1,145,694 m3 (tonnes). The majority of this, 1,041,710 m3, is contaminated processed water. In the year to April 2019, approximately 180 m3/day of water was being circulated into the RPVs of units 1-3.”

In addition to the cooling water, the tanks also house water that has run down from the nearby mountains, at a rate of about 100 tons each day. This water flows onto the site and seeps into the reactor buildings. There, it becomes radioactively contaminated and also must be collected and stored, to prevent it from flowing on down into the sea.

The water tank crisis is just one of multiple and complex problems at the Fukushima Daiichi site, including the eventual need to extract the molten fuel debris from inside the stricken reactors. Decommissioning cannot begin until the water storage tanks are removed.

Tepco has tried to mitigate the radioactive water problem in a number of ways. The infamous $320 million ice wall was an attempt to freeze and block inflow, but has had mixed results and has worked only intermittently. Wells were dug to try to divert the runoff water so it does not pick up contamination. The ice wall has reportedly reduced the flow of groundwater somewhat, but only down from 500 tons a day to about 100 tons.

In anticipation of dumping the tank water into the Pacific Ocean, Tepco has deployed an Advanced Liquid Processing System that the company claims can remove 62 isotopes from the water — all except tritium, which is radioactive hydrogen and therefore cannot be filtered out of water. (Tritium is routinely discharged by operating commercial nuclear power plants).

 

tepco-ice-wall.jpgTepco’s “Land-side Impermeable Wall” (Frozen soil wall). (Image: Tepco)

 

But, like the ice wall, the filtration system has also been plagued by malfunctions. According to GPI, Tepco admitted only last year that the system had “failed to reduce radioactivity to levels below the regulatory limit permissible for ocean disposal” in at least 80% of the tanks’ inventory. Indeed, said GPI, “the levels of Strontium-90 are more than 100 times the regulatory standard according to TEPCO, with levels at 20,000 times above regulations in some tanks.”

The plan to dump the water has raised the ire of South Korea, whose fish stocks would likely also be contaminated. And it has introduced the question of whether such a move is a violation of The Conventions of the Rights of the Child and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, as was raised in a joint written statement by the International Association of Democratic Lawyers and Greenpeace International, before the UN Human Rights Council currently in session.

So what else could or should Tepco do, if not dump the water offshore and into the ocean? A wide consensus amongst scientific, environmental and human rights groups is that on-site storage for the indefinite future is the only acceptable option, while research must continue into possible ways to extract all of the radioactive content, including tritium.

Meanwhile, a panel of experts says it will examine a number of additional but equally problematic choices, broadly condensed into four options (each with some variations — to  dilute or not to dilute etc):

  • Ground (geosphere) injection (which could bring the isotopes in contact with groundwater);
  • Vapor release (which could infiltrate weather patterns and return as fallout);
  • Releasing it as hydrogen (it would still contain tritium gas); and
  • Solidification followed by underground burial (for which no safe, permanent storage environment has yet been found, least of all in earthquake-prone Japan).

Arnie Gundersen of Fairewinds, recommends a chemical injection processes (drilling mud) — also used by the oil industry — to stop the flow of water onto the site entirely. But he says Japan has never considered this option. GPI contends that Japan has never seriously researched any of the alternatives, sticking to the ocean dumping plan, the cheapest and fastest “fix.”

All of this mess is of course an inevitable outcome of the choice to use nuclear power in the first place. Even without an accident, no safe, permanent storage solution has been found for the high-level radioactive waste produced through daily operation of commercial nuclear power plants, never mind as the result of an accident.

According to Dr. M.V. Ramana, by far the best solution is to continue to store the radioactive water, even if that means moving some of the storage tanks to other locations to make more room for new ones at the nuclear site. The decision to dump the water, Ramana says, is in line with Abe’s attempts to whitewash the scene before the 2020 Tokyo Olympics and claim, as he has publicly in the past, that everything at Fukushima is “under control.” (Baseball and softball games will be played in Fukushima Prefecture and the torch relay will start there, all in an effort to pretend there are no dangerous nuclear after-effects remaining in the area.)

“The reason that they keep saying they need to release it is because they might have to move some of this offsite and that goes against the Abe government’s interest in creating the perception that Fukushima is a closed chapter,” Ramana wrote in an email. “So it is a political decision rather than a technical one.”

As with all things nuclear, there are diverging views on the likely impact to the marine environment and to human health, from dumping Fukushima’s radioactive water into the ocean. These run the gamut from “a little tritium won’t hurt you” to “the Pacific Ocean is dead thanks to Fukushima” — both of which are wildly untrue. (Tritium can bind organically inside the body, irradiating that person or animal from within. The many problems in the Pacific began long before Fukushima and are likely caused by numerous compounding factors, including warming and pollution, with Fukushima adding to the existing woes.)

 

animal-aquatic-close-up-1298683.jpgThe effect on deep sea creatures of radioactive ocean dumping could be long-lasting.

 

What is fact, however, is that scientists have found not only the presence of isotopes such as cesium in fish they tested, but also in ocean floor sediment. This latter has the potential to serve as a more long-term source of contamination up the food chain.

But it is also important to remember that if this radioactive water is dumped, it is not an isolated event. Radioactive contamination in our oceans is already widespread, a result of years of atmospheric atomic tests. As was reported earlier this year, scientists studying deep-sea amphipods, retrieved from some of the deepest trenches in the ocean — including the Mariana Trench which reaches 36,000 feet below sea-level and is deeper than Mount Everest is high — detected elevated levels of carbon-14 in these creatures.

“The levels closely matched abundances found near the surface of the ocean, where the amount of carbon-14 is higher than usual thanks to nuclear bomb tests conducted more than half a century ago,” reported Smithsonian Magazine.

Weidong Sun, co-author of the resulting study, told Smithsonian Magazine that “Biologically, [ocean] trenches are taken to be the most pristine habitats on Earth”.

How chilling, then, to realize that our radioactive irresponsibility has reached the lowest depths, affecting creatures far removed from our rash behaviors.

Consequently, the decision by the Japanese government to release yet more radioactive contamination into our oceans must be viewed not as a one-off act of desperation, but as a contribution to cumulative contamination. This, added to the twin tragedies of climate crisis-induced ocean warming and plastics and chemicals pollution, renders it one more crime committed on the oceans, ourselves and all living things. And it reinforces the imperative to neither continue nor increase our reckless use of nuclear power as an electricity source.

For an in-depth look at this issue, read the January 2019 Greenpeace Germany briefing, TEPCO Water Crisis (in English.)

Murky politics pollute the Pacific

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September 26, 2019 Posted by | fukushima 2019 | , , | Leave a comment

New minister prioritizes Fukushima decommission

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September 14, 2019
Jiji Press FUKUSHIMA (Jiji Press) — The economy, trade and industry ministry will steadily promote decommissioning work at the stricken Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant, new minister Isshu Sugawara said Friday.
“Decommissioning work and disposal of tainted water at the plant are the ministry’s highest priorities,” Sugawara said in a meeting with Fukushima Gov. Masao Uchibori.
The nuclear plant, owned by Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings Inc., is the site of a triple reactor meltdown in March 2011.
Sugawara, who took office on Wednesday as part of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s Cabinet reshuffle, said the ministry will also step up support to businesses in areas hit by the nuclear disaster.
Uchibori sought to move nuclear fuel stored at TEPCO’s Fukushima No. 2 nuclear plant, which will also be decommissioned, out of his prefecture.
Speaking to reporters after the meeting, Sugawara said the ministry will work responsively on tackling treated water at the Fukushima No. 1 plant that contains tritium, a radioactive substance.

September 26, 2019 Posted by | Japan | , | Leave a comment

Disputing colleague, new Japan minister calls no-nukes policy ‘unrealistic’

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Japan’s Economy, Trade and Industry Minister Isshu Sugawara attends a news conference at Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s official residence in Tokyo, Japan September 11, 2019
 
September 12, 2019
TOKYO: Exiting nuclear power in Japan is unrealistic, the country’s new industry minister said on Thursday (Sep 12), in comments that reiterated the government’s line but are at odds with those made a day earlier by another newly installed cabinet member.
The conflicting comments by cabinet members appointed by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on Wednesday highlight the abiding sensitivities of nuclear power in Japan, more than eight years after the Fukushima catastrophe caused mass evacuations and Japan’s worst energy crisis in the modern era.
“There are risks and fears about nuclear power,” industry minister, Isshu Sugawara, told reporters a day after his appointment in a cabinet reshuffle.
“But ‘zero-nukes’ is, at the moment and in the future, not realistic,” he added.
The comments by Sugawara, himself once an anti-nuclear advocate, were at odds with those made by new environment minister, Shinjiro Koizumi, who said earlier that Japan should look at ways to exit nuclear power to avoid repeating the March 2011 Fukushima disaster.
“I would like to study how we will scrap them, not how to retain them,” Koizumi said at his first news conference late on Wednesday.
Japan’s nuclear regulator is overseen by Koizumi’s ministry, while energy policy is set by Sugawara’s ministry.
The comments by Koizumi, the son of former prime minister Junichiro Koizumi, were out of step with government policy, which designates atomic power as an important element of the energy mix. The senior Koizumi became an anti-nuclear campaigner after Fukushima.
“The reality is that restarts have been not only delayed, but are increasingly difficult and many will be scrapped” said Martin Schulz, senior research fellow at Fujitsu Research Institute.
Shinjiro Koizumi’s comments were “a bit at odds with the government position – but not totally out of line,” Schultz said.
Three reactors at the Fukushima Daiichi station run by Tokyo Electric Power melted down after being hit by a massive earthquake and tsunami in March 2011, spewing radiation.
Most of Japan’s nuclear reactors, which before Fukushima supplied about 30 per cent of the country’s electricity, are going through a re-licensing process under new safety standards imposed after the disaster highlighted regulatory and operational failings.
Japan has six reactors operating at present, a fraction of the 54 units before Fukushima. About 40 per cent of the pre-Fukushima fleet is set to be decommissioned after operators decided it would be too expensive to refit them to meet the new safety requirements.
The nuclear sector’s shutdown forced Japan to import record amounts of thermal coal and liquefied natural gas to replace the lost capacity, sending electricity bills for consumers and businesses higher. 

September 26, 2019 Posted by | Japan | , | Leave a comment

Japan’s New Environmental Minister Calls for Closing Down All Nuclear Reactors to Prevent Another Disaster Like Fukushima

“We will be doomed if we allow another nuclear accident to occur.”
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Japan’s newly appointed environment minister, Shinjiro Koizumi, held a news conference on Wednesday at his ministry in Tokyo.
September 12, 2019
Japan’s new environmental minister, Shinjiro Koizumi, called Wednesday for permanently shutting down the nation’s nuclear reactors to prevent a repeat of the 2011 Fukushima disaster, comments that came just a day after Koizumi’s predecessor recommended dumping more than one million tons of radioactive wastewater from the power plant into the Pacific Ocean.
Koizumi was appointed to his position Wednesday as part of a broader shake-up of Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s cabinet. He is the 38-year-old son of former Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi, a vocal critic of nuclear energy.
“I would like to study how we will scrap them, not how to retain them,” the younger Koizumi, whose ministry oversees Japan’s nuclear regulator, said during his first news conference late Wednesday. “We will be doomed if we allow another nuclear accident to occur. We never know when we’ll have an earthquake.”
In March of 2011, a powerful earthquake triggered a tsunami that caused the meltdown of three nuclear reactors at the Fukushima Daiichi power plant on Japan’s northeastern coast, forcing tens of thousands of people to flee radiation around the plant. It was the world’s second-worst nuclear disaster, after Chernobyl.
After the disaster, all 54 of Japan’s nuclear reactors were shut down. Reuters reported Wednesday that “about 40 percent of the pre-Fukushima fleet is being decommissioned” and only six reactors are currently operating. Amid drawn out legal battles over the impacts of the meltdown, campaigners have ramped up opposition to nuclear power generation in the country.
However, some Japanese politicians, including the current prime minister, have argued that nuclear energy is necessary to meet national climate goals. Japan’s new trade and industry minister, Isshu Sugawara, criticized Koizumi’s call to shutter the country’s reactors. “There are risks and fears about nuclear power,” Sugawara said. “But ‘zero-nukes’ is, at the moment and in the future, not realistic.”
According to The Guardian:
Japan’s government wants nuclear power to comprise 20 percent to 22 percent of the overall energy mix by 2030, drawing criticism from campaigners who say nuclear plants will always pose a danger given the country’s vulnerability to large earthquakes and tsunamis.
Abe, however, has called for reactors to be restarted, arguing that nuclear energy will help Japan achieve its carbon dioxide emissions targets and reduce its dependence on imported gas and oil.
Despite Abe and Sugawara’s stances, “the government is unlikely to meet its target of 30 reactor restarts by 2030,” due to local opposition and legal challenges, noted The Guardian.
The Telegraph reported Thursday that Koizumi “was a surprise addition” to Abe’s cabinet, considering that the new minister “has expressed sharp differences with senior members of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party since he was first elected in 2009 and supported a rival in the most recent election for party president.”
Polls often indicate that Koizumi is considered a popular contender to serve as the next prime minister—and Abe’s choice to appoint him to the cabinet, according to The Telegraph, is “seen as an effort to give a new generation of politicians an opportunity to learn the ropes of government.”
Koizumi replaced Yoshiaki Harada, who made headlines around the world earlier this week. Responding to a projection from Tokyo Electric Power (TEPCO) that the utility will run out of storage space for contaminated groundwater around the Fukushima plant around the summer of 2022, Harada suggested during a news conference Tuesday that “the only option will be to drain it into the sea and dilute it.”
As Common Dreams reported Tuesday, Harada’s comments were swiftly condemned by critics of nuclear energy both in Japan and around the world as well as the neighboring government of South Korea.

September 14, 2019 Posted by | Japan | , | Leave a comment

New environment minister says Japan should stop using nuclear power and scrap nuclear reactors after Fukushima

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New environment minister says Japan should stop using nuclear power
 
September 12, 2019
TOKYO (Reuters) – Japan’s newly installed environment minister, Shinjiro Koizumi, wants the country to close down nuclear reactors to avoid a repeat of the Fukushima catastrophe in 2011.
The comments by the son of former prime minister Junichiro Koizumi, himself an anti-nuclear advocate, are likely to prove controversial in the ruling Liberal Democratic Party, which supports a return to nuclear power under new safety rules imposed after Fukushima.
“I would like to study how we will scrap them, not how to retain them,” Shinjiro Koizumi said at his first news conference late on Wednesday after he was appointed by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.
Japan’s nuclear regulator is overseen by Koizumi’s ministry.
Three reactors at the Fukushima Daiichi station run by Tokyo Electric Power melted down after being hit by a massive earthquake and tsunami in March 2011, spewing radiation that forced 160,000 people to flee, many never to return..
Most of Japan’s nuclear reactors, which before Fukushima supplied about 30 percent of the country’s electricity, are going through a re-licensing process under new safety standards imposed after the disaster highlighted regulatory and operational failings.
Japan has six reactors operating at present, a fraction of the 54 units before Fukushima. About 40 percent of the pre-Fukushima fleet is being decommissioned.
Shinjiro Koizumi’s father, a popular prime minister now retired from parliament, became a harsh critic of atomic energy after the Fukushima nuclear crisis.
 
Japan should scrap nuclear reactors after Fukushima, says new environment minister
Shinjiro Koizumi says: ‘We will be doomed if we allow another accident to occur’
 
 
September 12, 2019
Japan’s new environment minister has called for the country’s nuclear reactors to be scrapped to prevent a repeat of the Fukushima nuclear disaster.
Shinjiro Koizumi’s comments, made hours after he became Japan’s third-youngest cabinet minister since the war, could set him on a collision course with Japan’s pro-nuclear prime minister, Shinzo Abe.
“I would like to study how we will scrap them, not how to retain them,” Koizumi, 38, said. “We will be doomed if we allow another nuclear accident to occur. We never know when we’ll have an earthquake.”
Koizumi faced an immediate challenge from the new trade and industry minister, who said that ridding Japan of nuclear power was “unrealistic”.
“There are risks and fears about nuclear power,” Isshu Sugawara told reporters. “But ‘zero-nukes’ is, at the moment and in the future, not realistic.”
Japan’s government wants nuclear power to comprise 20% to 22% of the overall energy mix by 2030, drawing criticism from campaigners who say nuclear plants will always pose a danger given the country’s vulnerability to large earthquakes and tsunamis.
Abe, however, has called for reactors to be restarted, arguing that nuclear energy will help Japan achieve its carbon dioxide emissions targets and reduce its dependence on imported gas and oil.
All of Japan’s 54 reactors were shut down after a giant tsunami caused a triple meltdown at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant in March 2011.
Nuclear power accounted for about 30% of Japan’s energy production before the disaster. Today, just nine reactors are back in operation, having passed stringent safety checks introduced after the Fukushima meltdown.
But the government is unlikely to meet its target of 30 reactor restarts by 2030 amid strong local opposition and legal challenges.
Although he faces potential opposition from inside the cabinet, Koizumi should at least receive the backing of his father, Junichiro Koizumi, a former prime minister who has emerged as a vocal opponent of nuclear power.
While Japan debates the future of nuclear energy, the younger Koizumi, who has been tipped as a future prime minister, is now at the centre of a controversy over the future of more than a million tonnes of contaminated water stored at Fukushima Daiichi.
On Tuesday, his predecessor as environment minister said the plant’s operator, Tokyo Electric Power, had no choice but to dilute the water and release it into the Pacific ocean rather than store it indefinitely.
The prospect of dumping the water into the sea has angered local fishermen and drawn protests from neighbouring South Korea.

September 14, 2019 Posted by | Japan | | Leave a comment

Plan to Release Radioactive Fukushima Wastewater Into Pacific Ocean Panned by Critics

“Another reason to not build nuclear power plants.”

 

greenpeace_2.jpgGreenpeace ship Rainbow Warrior sailing past the destroyed Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant, five years after the plant’s accident.

 

September 10, 2019
The far-reaching dangers of nuclear power were on full display Tuesday as Japan’s environmental minister recommended releasing more than one million tons of radioactive wastewater from the Fukushima Daiichi plant into the Pacific Ocean nearly a decade after a tsunami caused a meltdown at the coastal facility.
“There are no other options” other than dumping the water into the ocean and diluting it, Yoshiaki Harada said at a news conference in Tokyo.
Chief cabinet secretary Yoshihide Suga disputed Harada’s claim, saying the government has not settled on a method of disposing of the wastewater. Other options include vaporizing the water and storing it on land.
But critics on social media said the suggestion of pouring contaminated water into the Pacific is more than enough evidence that the risks associated with nuclear power are too great to continue running plants like Fukushima.
The wastewater has been stored in tanks at Fukushima since the 2011 tsunami, when a meltdown at the plant forced the evacuation of tens of thousands of people.
For years since the disaster, the plant has pumped tens of thousands of tons of water to help cool its damaged reactor cores and keep them from melting. After the water is used and contaminated with radionuclides and radioactive isotopes, it is stored in the tanks, but the plant expects to run out of room in 2022. 
The Atomic Energy Society of Japan said recently that it could take 17 years for water to meet safety standards after it is diluted.
Greenpeace, which has long called on the Japanese government to invest in technology to remove radioactivity from the water, said the environmental minister’s proposal is unacceptable.
“The government must commit to the only environmentally acceptable option for managing this water crisis which is long-term storage and processing to remove radioactivity, including tritium,” Shaun Burnie, a senior nuclear specialist the group’s German office, told France 24.
The government of neighboring South Korea expressed grave concerns over the potential plan to dump the water into the Pacific, saying it planned to work closely with Japan to come up with an alternative.
“The South Korean government is well aware of the impact of the treatment of the contaminated water from the Fukushima nuclear power plant on the health and safety of the people of both countries, and to the entire nation,” the government said.

September 14, 2019 Posted by | fukushima 2019 | , , | Leave a comment

“Amid invisible terror, we were witnesses”

From Mari Inoue
I would like to share a poem of Fukushima nuclear disaster by Arata MAEDA, which was published on July 18, 2011 in “Shimbun Noumin”, family farmers’ newspaper in Japan.
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“Amid invisible terror, we were witnesses”
by Arata MAEDA*
(Tanslated into English by Andrew E. Barshay)**
Assaulted by an invisible terror
Even now, after four months
We remain driven from our own birthplace, our hometown
At Level 7, with no change in the situation at all
Tens of thousands of livestock, starved to death, all of them
In the deserted villages, only the stink from their corpses
Rises into the air
Across the mountains and rivers of our home country,
Stolen away by something that will not show itself,
The seasons change, as if nothing at all had happened
There where the cuckoo cries, can it be only in our dreams
That we toil and sweat?
There, where we cannot even set foot!
Once it was by our country’s policy that we were driven to Manchuria
By our country’s defeat to commit suicide together
And abandoning our little ones, to escape back home
And now as then, this home of ours
Is smashed to bits as our country’s grand plans collapse in ruin
And this time, it’s a painless death that takes its time in coming
Yet just as on that day, isn’t it collective suicide all over again?
Isn’t it the live experiments of Unit 731 all over again?
Friends, friends, we can’t just stand here grieving and crying
Over these four months, amid invisible terror
What we have seen with our own eyes
Is the true face of terror that says: no matter
For pro it’s sake, the reactors must stay on
All right then! If that’s how it is
We’re ready to take them on, for the sake of our children and theirs
Just like the Kwantung Army before them, these bastards
hid the facts and were the irst to run from danger
And now they put on an innocent face and prattle about safety and reconstruction
No way will we let them take these lives so easily!
Oh, but friends, my friends are dead
*MAEDA Arata: member of Fukushima Farmers’ Alliance, resident of Aizumisato, Fukushima Prefecture
**Andrew E.BARSHAY: Professor, University of California at Berkeley
(The name of “friend” mentioned at the end of the poem is Hisashi Tarukawa who was an organic farmer and a member of the Japan Family Farmers Movement living in Sukagawa, Fukushima. He had devoted himself to growing organic cabbages. On March 23, 2011, he received a fax from the Fukushima local government, which requested him to forbear the shipping of cabbages contaminated by radioactivity. The next day he committed suicide by hanging himself in despair at losing his whole future.)

September 14, 2019 Posted by | fukushima 2019 | , , | Leave a comment

Minister says Japan will have to dump radioactive water into Pacific

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Fukushima: Japan will have to dump radioactive water into Pacific, minister says

More than a million tonnes of contaminated water lies in storage but power company says it will run out of space by 2022

The operator of the ruined Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant will have to dump huge quantities of contaminated water from the site directly into the Pacific Ocean, Japan’s environment minister has said – a move that would enrage local fishermen.

More than 1 million tonnes of contaminated water has accumulated at the plant since it was struck by a tsunami in March 2011, triggering a triple meltdown that forced the evacuation of tens of thousands of residents.

Tokyo Electric Power (Tepco) has struggled to deal with the buildup of groundwater, which becomes contaminated when it mixes with water used to prevent the three damaged reactor cores from melting.

Tepco has attempted to remove most radionuclides from the excess water, but the technology does not exist to rid the water of tritium, a radioactive isotope of hydrogen. Coastal nuclear plants commonly dump water that contains tritium into the ocean. It occurs in minute amounts in nature.

Tepco admitted last year that the water in its tanks still contained contaminants beside tritium.

Currently, more than 1m tonnes of contaminated water is held in almost 1,000 tanks at the Fukushima Daiichi site, but the utility has warned that it will run out of tank space by the summer of 2022.

The only option will be to drain it into the sea and dilute it,” Yoshiaki Harada told a news briefing in Tokyo on Tuesday. “The whole of the government will discuss this, but I would like to offer my simple opinion.”

No decision on how to dispose of the water will be made until the government has received a report from a panel of experts. Other options include vaporising the liquid or storing it on land for an extended period.

Harada did not say how much water would need to be discharged into the ocean.

One recent study by Hiroshi Miyano, who heads a committee studying the decommissioning of Fukushima Daiichi at the Atomic Energy Society of Japan, said it could take 17 years to discharge the treated water after it has been diluted to reduce radioactive substances to levels that meet the plant’s safety standards.

Any decision to dispose of the waste water into the sea would anger local fishermen, who have spent the past eight years rebuilding their industry.

Nearby South Korea has also voiced concern over the impact it would have on the reputation of its own seafood.

Last month, Seoul summoned a senior Japanese embassy official to explain how Fukushima Daiichi’s waste water would be dealt with.

Ties between the north-east Asian nations are already at a low ebb following a compensation dispute over Koreans forced to work in Japanese factories during the second world war.

The government spent 34.5bn yen (£260m) to build a frozen underground wall to prevent groundwater reaching the three damaged reactor buildings. The wall, however, has succeeded only in reducing the flow of groundwater from about 500 tonnes a day to about 100 tonnes a day.

Japan has come under renewed pressure to address the contaminated water problem before Tokyo hosts the Olympics and Paralympics next summer.

Six years ago during the city’s bid for the games, the prime minister, Shinzo Abe, assured the international community that the situation was “under control”.

https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2019/sep/10/fukushima-japan-will-have-to-dump-radioactive-water-into-pacific-minister-says?CMP=twt_gu&utm_medium&utm_source=Twitter&fbclid=IwAR0y_cSlb7u-xDEJ8_IZ7DEYK18r0a3AKAm1pQcdxHKaE_OOmzKhbstrx8Q#Echobox=1568114071

Minister calls for dumping Fukushima plant treated water into ocean

September 10, 2019

Japan’s environment minister called Tuesday for water contaminated with low-toxicity radioactive tritium at the crippled Fukushima nuclear plant to be discharged into the Pacific Ocean, potentially provoking controversy with South Korea that has expressed concerns about the idea.

“Although I’m not the minister in charge, I believe there’s no choice but to dump the water (into the ocean) and dilute it,” Environment Minister Yoshiaki Harada told a press conference, a day before Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s planned Cabinet reshuffle.

Even after being treated, the water, used to cool reactor cores that suffered meltdowns at the plant following the 2011 earthquake and tsunami, remains contaminated with tritium.

But the water, currently stored in tanks at the Fukushima plant, is regarded by the government as relatively harmless to humans.

Seoul has expressed concern over the possibility that the water could be discharged into the ocean. Local fishermen are also opposed to the release of the water into the sea, fearing the potential impact on fish stocks.

The Japanese government has yet to decide on how to dispose of the accumulating water. The tanks storing the water are expected to be full by the summer of 2022, according to Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings Inc., the operator of the Fukushima plant.

A nuclear expert from the International Atomic Energy Agency said in 2018 that a controlled discharge of such contaminated water “is something which is applied in many nuclear facilities, so it is not something that is new.”

Harada said his view was based on a visit to the Fukushima complex, where he saw a number of tanks storing the water, and the Nuclear Regulation Authority’s support for the water discharge.

In an apparent reference to South Korea, Harada added the most important thing for Japan is to “provide sincere explanations” to countries that may oppose Tokyo’s policy.

The environment minister made the remarks as he looked back on his time in the post since October last year.

In August, a government panel began discussing the possibility of long-term water storage. It has looked at other options such as discharging it into the sea and vaporization.

Toxic water produced by cooling debris and other processes at the Fukushima plant is purified using the Advanced Liquid Processing System, said to be capable of removing almost all radioactive materials except tritium.

https://english.kyodonews.net/news/2019/09/c1a5b0cc2143-minister-calls-for-dumping-fukushima-plant-treated-water-into-ocean.html

September 14, 2019 Posted by | fukushima 2019 | , , | Leave a comment

Fukushima map with false data for foreigners

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Via Cecile Brice

Risk communication: they do not hesitate to produce maps with false data for foreigners. What not to do to make believe that everything is fine.

In the picture, we do not see the number given to “Tepco-Fukushima”. No numbers, they removed all hot spots on their map …

 

September 14, 2019 Posted by | fukushima 2019 | , , , , | Leave a comment