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For the 5th time, a court rules the Japanese govt liable for the Fukushima nuclear catastrophe

Japan gov’t, Fukushima operator told to pay over nuclear disaster https://news.abs-cbn.com/overseas/02/20/19/japan-govt-fukushima-operator-told-to-pay-over-nuclear-disaster, Agence France-Presse, TOKYO- A Japanese court Wednesday awarded nearly $4 million in fresh damages to scores of residents forced to flee their homes after the 2011 Fukushima nuclear meltdown.

The Yokohama district court ordered the government and Tokyo Electric Power Co (TEPCO) to pay 419.6 million yen ($3.8 million) to 152 local residents, a court spokeswoman told AFP.

The verdict was the fifth time the government has been ruled liable for the disaster in eastern Japan, the world’s most serious nuclear accident since Chernobyl in 1986.

Presiding judge Ken Nakadaira said the government and TEPCO “could have avoided the accident if they had taken measures” against the tsunami that sparked the disaster, according to public broadcaster NHK.

In March last year, a court in Kyoto, western Japan, ruled both the government and TEPCO were responsible and ordered them to pay 110 million yen to 110 residents.

However, in a separate case in September 2017 in Chiba near Tokyo, the court ruled that only the operator was liable.

Around 12,000 people who fled after the disaster due to radiation fears have filed various lawsuits against the government and TEPCO.

Cases have revolved around whether the government and TEPCO, both of whom are responsible for disaster prevention measures, could have foreseen the scale of the tsunami and subsequent meltdown.

Dozens of class-action lawsuits have been filed seeking compensation from the government.

Triggered by a 9.1-magnitude earthquake, the tsunami overwhelmed reactor cooling systems, sending three into meltdown and sending radiation over a large area.

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February 21, 2019 Posted by | Japan, legal | Leave a comment

TEPCO sat by idly on reports of fires, glitches at nuclear plants

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Tokyo Electric Power Co.’s Fukushima No. 2 nuclear power plant

February 14, 2019
Tokyo Electric Power Co. ignored reports on fires and other problems from its nuclear power plants and didn’t even bother to share the information in-house or consider precautionary measures, the nuclear watchdog revealed.
The Nuclear Regulation Authority decided Feb. 13 it will investigate the failure by TEPCO’s headquarters to tackle the problems reported by its three facilities: the Kashiwazaki-Kariwa nuclear plant in Niigata Prefecture and the Fukushima No. 1 and No. 2 nuclear plants, both in Fukushima Prefecture.
A TEPCO official said that the company put off tackling the problems because the deadline for dealing with such matters “was not clearly stated.”
NRA safety inspectors visited the Fukushima No. 2 nuclear plant from November through December last year.
They found that the division at company headquarters in charge of dealing with safety issues and sharing that information neglected reports of four problems that had occurred at the plant.
They cited 17 cases at the Kashiwazaki-Kariwa nuclear plant; five cases at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant and seven problems at the headquarters itself.

February 18, 2019 Posted by | Japan | , | Leave a comment

Unit 2 of Genkai NPP will be decommissioned.

Unit 3 and 4 of Genkai are still operating.
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Kyushu Electric Power Co. said Wednesday it will scrap No. 2 reactor at its Genkai nuclear power plant in Saga Prefecture, seen in the forefront left of this photo taken in January
Feb 13, 2019
FUKUOKA – Kyushu Electric Power Co. said Wednesday it has decided to scrap its aging No. 2 reactor at its Genkai nuclear plant in Saga Prefecture.
The utility abandoned a plan to restart the unit, which has an output of 559 megawatts, in the face of the huge costs involved in enhancing the safety of the reactor that is already near the end of its 40-year operating life.
The reactor, which started operating in March 1981, has been idled since a routine checkup shortly before the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami disaster that triggered the Fukushima nuclear crisis.
The Genkai plant consists of four units. The utility already decided in 2015 to scrap its aging No. 1 unit, which had the same output capacity as the No. 2 reactor. Decommissioning work at the No. 1 reactor started in July 2017 and is expected to continue through fiscal 2043.
There have been a number of operational problems at the Genkai power plant. In May last year, pumps installed to control the circulation of cooling water at the No. 4 unit suffered malfunctions, following a steam leak from a pipe at the No. 3 reactor just a week after it was reactivated in March.
Some local residents have sought to stop operation of the Nos. 3 and 4 units with a temporary injunction, with doubts about the safety measures taken and citing the risk of volcanic eruptions in the region. Their case is pending at the Fukuoka High Court.

February 18, 2019 Posted by | Japan | , , | Leave a comment

Japan’s Nuclear Authority investigated Tepco’s failure to report fires, glitches at nuclear plants

  TEPCO sat by idly on reports of fires, glitches at nuclear plants, By YUSUKE OGAWA/ Staff WriterAsahi Shimbun 14th Feb 2019 , Tokyo Electric Power Co. ignored reports on fires and other problems from its nuclear power plants and didn’t even bother to share the information in-house or consider precautionary measures, the nuclear watchdog revealed.

The Nuclear Regulation Authority decided Feb. 13 it will investigate the failure by TEPCO’s headquarters to tackle the problems reported by its three facilities: the Kashiwazaki-Kariwa nuclear plant in Niigata Prefecture and the Fukushima No. 1 and No. 2 nuclear plants, both in Fukushima Prefecture.

A TEPCO official said that the company put off tackling the problems because the deadline for dealing with such matters “was not clearly stated.” TEPCO’s safety regulations stipulate that blazes, glitches in air-conditioning and other problems at nuclear plants must be dealt with by the main office of the operator.
ttp://www.asahi.com/ajw/articles/AJ201902140054.html

February 18, 2019 Posted by | incidents, Japan | Leave a comment

Long haul to clean up radioactive debris in Fukushima’s shattered nuclear reactors – remote probe in use

Remote-Controlled Probe Picks Up Radioactive Debris At Fukushima For The First Time https://www.gizmodo.com.au/2019/02/remote-controlled-probe-picks-up-radioactive-debris-at-fukushima-for-the-first-time/George Dvorsky. Feb 15, 2019   Tepco, the state-owned operator of the badly damaged Fukushima nuclear plant, has conducted an important test in which a remote-controlled probe managed to grasp several small grains of radioactive debris, AFP reports. The successful operation marked an important achievement for the company as it prepares for a cleanup operation that could take decades.

In March 2011, the devastating Tōhoku earthquake and tsunami triggered the core meltdown of three reactors at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant. Eight years later, the plant’s operator, Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings (Tepco), is still in the formative stages of devising a clean-up plan.

The primary challenge, of course, is dealing with the intense radiation emanating from the melted fuel. Two years ago, for example, a robot became unresponsive after just two hoursin reactor No. 2; there’s enough radiation down there — approximately 650 sieverts per hour — to fry a person within a few seconds. The episode showed that technical advancements will be required to make robots more resilient to radiation near the core, and that the cleanup will likely take longer than expected.

Early last year, a camera attached to a remote-controlled probe was sent into reactor No. 2. Images confirmed that fuel debris had melted through the reactor pressure vessel (RPV), also known as the reactor core, dripping down into a collection chamber known as the primary containment vessel (PCV).

Images of the chamber showed pebble and clay-like deposits covering the entire bottom of the PCV pedestal. This accumulated waste, along with similar piles at reactors No. 1 and 3, needs to be cleaned up, and Tepco is currently trying to determine the best way of doing so.

To that end, the state-owned company devised an operation to see what that material is like and determine if it can be moved. On Wednesday February 13, Tepco sent a probe equipped with a remotely operated robotic hand down into the No. 2 lower chamber, Japan Timesreports.

Using its tong-like fingers, the probe picked up five grain-sized pieces of radioactive melted fuel. AFP reported that the pieces were moved to a maximum height of 5 centimeters above the bottom of the chamber. In addition to taking images with a camera, the probe measured radiation and temperature during the investigation, according to a Tepco release

No radioactive debris was removed from the chamber, but the eight-hour-long operation showed that some of the melted fuel can be moved — an important bit of evidence that will inform future plans to clean up the plant. But as the Japan Times noted, one of the six areas explored by the probe contained debris that had solidified into a clay-like substance, which the robotic hand was unable to grasp. Future robots will need to slice or saw through this material such that it can be removed. That won’t be easy.

A future test, planned for April, will see some debris removed from the chamber, according to the Japan Times. Tepco has yet to disclose how and where this radioactive waste will be stored.

The company is hoping to start removing radioactive fuel in earnest by 2021, but the clean-up is expected to take decades, with some estimates suggesting it won’t be done until the 2050s. Many other technological hurdles still exist, such as determining the full extent of structural damage at the Fukushima plant, locating all the melted fuel in the three damaged reactors, and figuring out a way to remove the large quantities of contaminated water stored at the site.

If that all sounds overwhelming, well, it is. As we’ve said before, when nuclear power goes wrong, it really goes wrong.

February 16, 2019 Posted by | Fukushima continuing | Leave a comment

Call to preserve Japan’s historic “Fukuryu Maru” memorial of atomic bombing

Final mission: Keep anti-nuke message at site of Tsukiji market, http://www.asahi.com/ajw/articles/AJ201902130004.html, By NAOMI NISHIMURA/ Staff Writer, February 13, 2019 Busy construction workers and fast-walking passers-by pay little notice to a metal plate that symbolizes one of the darker periods in the postwar history of the now-closed Tsukiji fish market in Tokyo.

The continuing dismantling work and the future of the iconic former market has gained much of the public’s attention. The plate, measuring 42 centimeters tall and 52 cm wide, will remain on a fence surrounding the site at least until the project is complete.

The plate, marking the fallout of nuclear bomb tests carried out in the 1950s, carries a message that many people hope will remain in one form or another at the site.

“We have set up this plate out of the wish that there will be no suffering again from nuclear weapons,” the plate says in part.

A Tokyo metropolitan government official said “nothing has been decided on what objects will be installed” afterward at the Tsukiji site.

The plate is witness to the “A-bomb tuna” that arrived 65 years ago at the Tsukiji market in the capital’s Chuo Ward.

“Nearly 460 tons of contaminated fish were found from more than 850 fishing boats across Japan … and fish consumption dropped sharply,” another part of the plate’s inscription reads.

The radioactive “A-bomb” fish were actually exposed to radiation from hydrogen-bomb tests.

The text on the plate refers to the Daigo Fukuryu Maru (Lucky Dragon No. 5), a fishing vessel caught in the fallout of a U.S. H-bomb test near the Bikini Atoll in March 1954.

Some of the tuna and other fish caught by the Daigo Fukuryu Maru ended up at the Tsukiji market.

“There was a real panic” when the haul tested positive for radiation, said Takuji Adachi, 92, who was a metropolitan government official at the time in charge of hygiene on the market grounds.

Radiation was also found in other tuna hauls that arrived later from different parts of the country.

Workers sat up all night testing fish with radiation detectors borrowed from a university lab and elsewhere before their early-morning auctions, sources said.

Tuna lost half to two-thirds of their prices, and the values of other fish species also dropped. The radiation tests continued through the year-end, with 3,000 tuna going to waste.

The names of 856 Japanese fishing boats were identified as having been contaminated by radioactive fallout from a series of hydrogen-bomb tests conducted between March and May 1954, according to officials of the Daigo Fukuryu Maru Exhibition Hall.

The plate was installed at the Tsukiji fish market 45 years later.

PETITION FOR RELOCATING STONE MONUMENT

Matashichi Oishi, who was a crew member on the Fukuryu Maru involved in freezing the catch, wanted to set up a physical testimony to peace.

The now 85-year-old had asked the Tokyo metropolitan government to allow the installation at Tsukiji of a stone monument engraved with “Maguro Zuka” (tuna memorial).

He called for donations in units of 10 yen ($0.09) each time he gave a public speech. He ended up collecting 3 million yen, and the stone monument was completed.

However, opinion was divided at the time over whether the Tsukiji market should be relocated or redeveloped on the same site. Authorities said there was no space available for the stone monument, but they allowed the plate to be attached by the side of the main gate.

The stone monument currently stands in an open space on the grounds of the exhibition hall in Tokyo’s Koto Ward, where the hull of the Daigo Fukuryu Maru remains preserved.

The plate has since served as a memento for about two decades, but the Tsukiji market was relocated to the Toyosu district of Koto Ward in October last year.

With the future of the plate unknown, Oishi has collected 5,622 signatures over three years for a petition to have the stone monument relocated to a corner of the former Tsukiji market.

“Words engraved in stone will stay 50 years and 100 years down the road,” Oishi said last September during a meeting on the possible uses of the stone monument. “History could be repeated unless someone keeps talking about the horror of nuclear weapons.”

He said he hopes to hand the signatures to Tokyo Governor Yuriko Koike to coincide with the March 1 Bikini Day, the anniversary of the Fukuryu Maru’s nuclear exposure.

Oishi said setting a path for the stone monument’s relocation is his “final mission in life.”

“The Fukuryu Maru later symbolized calls for eliminating nuclear weapons,” he said. “Tsukiji must also have the role of being a witness to the nuclear exposure incident.”

February 14, 2019 Posted by | Japan, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Japan’s Kyushu Electric to scrap aging nuclear reactor at Genkai

TOKYO (Reuters) – Japan’s Kyushu Electric Power Co Inc said on Wednesday it will decommission an aging reactor at its Genkai nuclear plant as the country’s power industry struggles to meet new nuclear safety standards set after the 2011 Fukushima disaster. 13 Feb 19, 

This will bring the number of reactors being scrapped to 17 since the meltdowns at the Fukushima Daiichi plant nearly eight years ago.

The move comes as Japan’s return to nuclear power is slowly gathering pace, although the industry still faces public opposition, court challenges and unfavorable economics.

Kyushu Electric will scrap the No.2 reactor at the Genkai plant, about 930 km (580 miles) west of Tokyo. ……

Many of Japan’s reactors remain shut, with only nine operating, while they undergo relicensing to meet new standards set after the Fukushima crisis highlighted shortcomings in regulation.

Reporting by Yuka Obayashi; Editing by Gopakumar Warrier

https://www.reuters.com/article/us-japan-nuclear-kyushu-elec-pwr/japans-kyushu-electric-to-scrap-aging-nuclear-reactor-at-genkai-idUSKCN1Q20Y3

February 14, 2019 Posted by | business and costs, Japan, safety | Leave a comment

Japan’s Reconstruction Agency to air ad for Fukushima products on TV, online and at cinemas 

https://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2019/02/08/national/japans-reconstruction-agency-air-ad-fukushima-products-tv-online-cinemas/#.XF3p09IzbGg
JIJI, FEB 8, 2019,    The Reconstruction Agency said Friday that it will run a television commercial advertising farm, fishery and forestry products made in Fukushima Prefecture for about a week from Saturday.

The 30-second spot is aimed at dispelling harmful rumors about the safety of products from the prefecture following the nuclear meltdown at Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings Inc.’s Fukushima No. 1 power plant, which was heavily damaged in the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami.

The agency hopes to capitalize on rising interest in Fukushima Prefecture ahead of the eighth anniversary of the disaster on March 11.

The commercial, which will also highlight tourism spots in the prefecture, will be broadcast nationwide. It will also be run at movie theaters and online.

The agency has also created a section on its website to explain the current conditions in Fukushima Prefecture, helping visitors to learn about radiation and progress in reconstruction efforts.

February 11, 2019 Posted by | Japan, spinbuster | Leave a comment

Fire extinguisher system at nuclear plant freezes

 https://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/en/news/20190210_10/  A fire extinguisher system has broken down at a nuclear power plant in northern Japan due to a record cold weather.

Hokkaido Electric Power Company says a worker discovered the problem at its Tomari nuclear plant in the country’s northernmost prefecture of Hokkaido early Saturday morning.

The problem affected equipment designed to maintain water pressure in the event of firefighting at the No.1 and No.2 reactors. All three of the plant’s reactors have been offline since 2012, following the Fukushima nuclear accident.

The utility says a part of the equipment was frozen due to the severe cold, causing the system to break down. It says there is no problem with the plant’s fire extinguisher system, and the problem did not affect firefighting functions.

Temperatures fell to minus 30 degrees Celsius or lower in many parts of the prefecture on Saturday. A nearby town recorded minus 12.7 degrees Celsius.
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The company also says the temperature was nearly minus five degrees in the room which houses the equipment, but a worker forgot to turn on the heating system.

The utility says it will work quickly to restore the faulty equipment and take measures to prevent a recurrence.

February 11, 2019 Posted by | climate change, Japan | Leave a comment

Japan’s propaganda about Fukushima’s ‘recovery’- getting people back to nuclear irradiated areas

The returning residents of Fukushima’s nuclear disaster

Near site of Fukushima nuclear disaster, a shattered town and scattered lives, WP, By Simon Denyer, February 3 2019 NAMIE, Japan —  Noboru Honda lost 12 members of his extended family when a tsunami struck the Fukushima prefecture in northern Japan nearly eight years ago. Last year, he was diagnosed with cancer and initially given a few months to live.

Today, he is facing a third sorrow: Watching what may be the last gasps of his hometown.

For six years, Namie was deemed unsafe after a multiple-reactor meltdown at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant following a 2011 earthquake and tsunami.

In March 2017, the government lifted its evacuation order for the center of Namie. But so far, hardly anyone has ventured back.

Its people are scattered and divided. Families are split. The sense of community is coming apart.

“It has been eight years; we were hoping things would be settled now,” the 66-year-old Honda said. “This is the worst time, the most painful period.”

For the people of Namie and other towns near the Fukushima plant, the pain is sharpened by the way the Japanese government is trying to move beyond the tragedy, to use the 2020 Tokyo Olympics as a symbol of hope and recovery, a sign that life can return to normal after a disaster of this magnitude.

Its charm offensive is also tied up with efforts to restart the country’s nuclear-power industry, one of the world’s most extensive networks of atomic power generation.

Six Olympic softball games and a baseball game will be staged in Fukushima, the prefecture’s bustling and radiation-free capital city, and the Olympic torch relay will start from here.

But in Namie, much closer to the ill-fated nuclear plant, that celebration rings hollow, residents say.

This was a close-knit community of farmers, fishermen and potters — of orchards, rice paddies and cattle sandwiched between the mountains and the sea. It was a place where people celebrated and mourned as a community, and families lived together across generations.

That’s all gone. On the main street, a small new shopping arcade has opened. But a short walk away, a barber shop stands abandoned, its empty chairs gathering years of dust. A sign telling customers to make themselves at home is still displayed in a bar, but inside debris litters the floor. A karaoke parlor is boarded up. Wild boars, monkeys and palm civets still roam the streets, residents say.

Just 873 people, or under 5 percent, of an original population of 17,613 have returned. Many are scared — with some obvious justification — that their homes and surroundings are still unsafe. Most of the returnees are elderly. Only six children are enrolled at the gleaming new elementary school. This is not a place for young families.

Four-fifths of Namie’s geographical area is mountain and forest, impossible to decontaminate, still deemed unsafe to return. When it rains, the radioactive cesium in the mountains flows into rivers and underground water sources close to the town.

Greenpeace has been taking thousands of radiation readings for years in the towns around the Fukushima nuclear plant. It says radiation levels in parts of Namie where evacuation orders have been lifted will remain well above international maximum safety recommendations for many decades, raising the risks of leukemia and other cancers to “unjustifiable levels,” especially for children.

In the rural areas around the town, radiation levels are much higher and could remain unsafe for people to live beyond the end of this century, Greenpeace concluded in a 2018 report.

“The scale of the problem is clearly not something the government wants to communicate to the Japanese people, and that’s driving the whole issue of the return of evacuees,” said Shaun Burnie, senior nuclear specialist with Greenpeace. “The idea that an industrial accident closes off an area of Japan, with its limited habitable land, for generations and longer — that would just remind the public why they are right to be opposed to nuclear power.”

Today, Namie’s former residents are scattered across all but one of Japan’s 47 prefectures. Many live in the nearby town of Nihonmatsu, in comfortable but isolating apartment blocks where communal space and interaction are limited. With young people moving away, the elderly, who already feel the loss of Namie most acutely, find themselves even more alone.

………. many residents say the central government is being heavy handed in its attempts to convince people to return, failing to support residents’ efforts to build new communities in places like Nihonmatsu, and then ending compensation payments within a year of evacuation orders being lifted. …….https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/asia_pacific/near-site-of-fukushima-nuclear-disaster-a-shattered-town-and-scattere

February 4, 2019 Posted by | environment, Japan, politics, spinbuster | Leave a comment

Possible uranium sold on internet auction site, seized by police

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Tokyo’s Metropolitan Police Department (MPD) headquarters
January 31, 2019
TOKYO — Radioactive materials that appear to be uranium were sold and bought on an internet auction website, people close to a police investigation into the case told the Mainichi Shimbun on Jan. 30.
The materials have been confiscated by the Tokyo Metropolitan Police Department (MPD) consumer and environment protection division and passed on for identification to the Japan Atomic Energy Agency (JAEA) officials. The JAEA judged that the materials are extremely likely to be depleted uranium and yellowcake uranium concentrate powder.
Police have identified the sellers and buyers of the materials, and will launch a full-fledged investigation into the case shortly as a possible violation of the Act on the Regulation of Nuclear Source Material, Nuclear Fuel Material and Reactors. The law regulates unauthorized transfer of nuclear fuel material in the country. Violators face an imprisonment of up to 1 year or 1 million yen in fine.
According to individuals close to the investigation, the secretariat of the Nuclear Regulation Authority first spotted materials dubbed as “uranium” were placed on an auction website, and reported the issue to the MPD. Investigators identified the seller and several buyers and confiscated the materials in question. The items were either powdered or solid and radioactive. They were placed in glass casings and weighed several grams in total. The seller agreed to voluntary questioning by police, saying that he had bought the goods on an overseas website.
The MPD requested that the JAEA identify the items in mid-December last year. The materials are likely to include depleted uranium that was produced during uranium enrichment and yellowcake, according to the people close to the investigation. The final results of the agency examination are expected to be released soon. Depleted uranium contains the fissile uranium 235 isotope at a concentration less than the natural concentration of 0.7 percent.
Experts worry that such radioactive materials could be abused in “dirty bombs” designed to disperse such materials as a form of terrorism. Professor Mitsuru Fukuda of the Nihon University College of Risk Management says the use of such explosives could result in sealing off the detonation area so that residents can evacuate and the area can be decontaminated.
“People’s concerns would rise and economic activities could stop. Even a tiny amount of material with low radioactivity could have a major impact on society,” he said.
(Japanese original by Ikuko Ando, City News Department, and Toshiyuki Suzuki and Riki Iwama, Science & Environment News Department)

February 3, 2019 Posted by | Japan | , | Leave a comment

Radiation leaks at Japan’s Tokai plutonium lab; ‘no workers exposed’

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The Japan Atomic Energy Agency’s nuclear fuel reprocessing plant in Tokai, Ibaraki Prefecture, is seen in 1997.
Radiation leaks at Japan plutonium lab; no workers exposed
Jan 30, 2019,
A Japanese state-run nuclear fuel laboratory near Tokyo said Wednesday it detected a radiation leak in its plutonium handling facility, but no workers were exposed.
The Japan Atomic Energy Agency said a radiation alarm went off after nine workers changed plastic covers on two canisters containing MOX, a mixture of plutonium and uranium, and removed them from a sealed compartment.
JAEA said the workers, each wearing a mask, escaped radiation exposure after running into another room. No leak was detected outside the Nuclear Fuel Cycle Engineering Laboratories in Tokai Village, northeast of Tokyo. The facility ended nuclear fuel production in 2001 and is being decommissioned.
The cause of the leak is under investigation. The agency suggested possible damage to the plastic covers during the routine change.
JAEA has been reprimanded repeatedly by Japanese nuclear authorities for its poor safety record in recent years. A bag of plutonium broke during an inspection at another facility operated by the agency in 2017, contaminating five workers. A plutonium-burning fast breeder reactor, Monju, is being scrapped after suffering an accident in 1995.
Japan’s possession of large plutonium stockpiles from its struggling nuclear spent-fuel recycling program has raised international concerns. Critics say Japan should stop extracting plutonium, citing risks of it being used to develop nuclear weapons. JAEA possesses about half of the 10.5 tons of separated plutonium that Japan has at home, while an additional 37 tons have been reprocessed and are stored overseas.
To reduce the stockpile, Japan burns plutonium as MOX fuel in conventional reactors. Restarts of halted nuclear plants have proceeded slowly amid persistent anti-nuclear sentiment since the 2011 Fukushima nuclear power plant disaster.
Alarm triggered at onetime nuclear fuel facility in Ibaraki after leak of radioactive substances
Jan 30, 2019
An alarm was triggered at a onetime nuclear fuel manufacturing facility Wednesday after radioactive substances leaked from materials that were being transferred at the facility operated by the Japan Atomic Energy Agency in Tokai, Ibaraki Prefecture, company officials said.
All nine of the workers who were in the room when the radiation leak occurred were cleared with no ill affects to their health, JAEA official Shinichi Nishikawa told a news conference.
JAEA said the workers, each wearing a mask, escaped radiation exposure after running into another room. No leak was detected outside the Nuclear Fuel Cycle Engineering Laboratories. The facility ended nuclear fuel production in 2001 and is being decommissioned.
The cause of the leak is under investigation. The agency suggested possible damage to the plastic covers during the routine change.
Officials told the news conference that they would begin assessing the site as soon as possible to determine how much radioactive material had been leaked and if it was still leaking.
The agency will file a report of its findings to the Nuclear Regulation Authority and come up with preventive measures.
The warning alarm that detects radioactive materials went off at around 2:30 p.m. as workers were removing radioactive materials — which were contained in a plastic bag — from sealed-up equipment that had been used for experiments.
The mixed oxide fuel (MOX) and plutonium was being kept in a sealed glove box container for future research.
The alarm is set up in an area of the facility once used for the production of MOX nuclear fuel made by mixing uranium with plutonium extracted from spent nuclear fuel.
In June 2017, a JAEA research facility in the town of Oarai, Ibaraki Prefecture, was the scene of another leak of radioactive substances, including powdered plutonium, when a plastic bag containing nuclear fuel remnants exploded. Five workers who were handling the materials were exposed to the substances.
JAEA possesses about half of the 10.5 tons of separated plutonium that Japan stores domestically, while an additional 37 tons have been reprocessed and are stored overseas. To reduce the stockpile, Japan burns plutonium as MOX fuel in conventional reactors.
Restarts of halted nuclear plants have proceeded slowly amid persistent anti-nuclear sentiment since the 2011 Fukushima nuclear power plant disaster.

February 3, 2019 Posted by | Japan | , , | Leave a comment

IAEA urges Japan to slow the Fukushima wastes clean-up – delay release to Pacific till after Olympic Games

IAEA urges Japan to take ample time in Fukushima cleanup https://phys.org/news/2019-01-iaea-urges-japan-ample-fukushima.html   January 31, 2019 by Mari Yamaguchi The International Atomic Energy Agency urged Japan on Thursday to spend ample time in developing a decommissioning plan for the tsunami-damaged Fukushima nuclear power plant and to be honest with the public about remaining uncertainties.

In a report based on a visit by an IAEA team to the plant in November, the agency urged the operator, Tokyo Electric Power Co., to secure adequate space and finish plans for managing highly radioactive melted fuel before starting to remove it from the three damaged reactors.

The cores of the three reactors melted after a massive 2011 earthquake and tsunami. Utility and government officials plan to start removing the melted fuel in 2021, but still know little about its condition and have not finalized waste management plans.

“The IAEA review team advises that before the commencement of the fuel debris retrieval activities, there should be a clear implementation plan defined to safely manage the retrieved material,” the report said. “TEPCO should ensure that appropriate containers and storage capacity are available before starting the fuel debris retrieval.”

The report also urged the government and TEPCO to carefully consider ways to express “the inherent uncertainties involved” in the project and develop “a credible plan” for the long term. It advised TEPCO to consider adopting contingency plans to “accommodate any schedule delays.”

Dale Klein, a former U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission chairman who heads a TEPCO reform committee, said in a recent interview that the decommissioning should not be rushed, even if the government and TEPCO have set a schedule and people want to see it move faster.

“It’s much better to do it right than do it fast,” he said, adding that it’s also good not to rush from a health and safety perspective. “Clearly, the longer you wait, the less the radiation is.”

He said he would be “astounded” if the current schedule ends up unchanged.

In order to make room in the plant compound to safely store the melted fuel and for other needed facilities, about 1 million tons of radioactive waste water currently stored in hundreds of tanks will have to be removed. The IAEA team, headed by Xerri Christoph, an expert on radioactive waste, urged the government and TEPCO to urgently decide how to dispose of it.

Nuclear experts, including officials at the IAEA and Japanese Nuclear Regulation Authority, have said a controlled release of the water into the Pacific Ocean is the only realistic option. A release, however, is unlikely until after the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games in order to avoid concerns among visitors from overseas.

February 2, 2019 Posted by | Fukushima continuing, politics, politics international, secrets,lies and civil liberties | Leave a comment

A new type of robot to probe inside damaged Fukushima nuclear reactor

Toshiba unveils robot to probe melted Fukushima nuclear fuel, WP, By Mari Yamaguchi | AP, January 28 YOKOHAMA, Japan — Toshiba Corp. unveiled a remote-controlled robot with tongs on Monday that it hopes will be able to probe the inside of one of the three damaged reactors at Japan’s tsunami-hit Fukushima nuclear plant and grip chunks of highly radioactive melted fuel.

The device is designed to slide down an extendable 11-meter (36-foot) long pipe and touch melted fuel inside the Unit 2 reactor’s primary containment vessel. The reactor was built by Toshiba and GE.

An earlier probe carrying a camera captured images of pieces of melted fuel in the reactor last year, and robotic probes in the two other reactors have detected traces of damaged fuel, but the exact location, contents and other details remain largely unknown.

Toshiba’s energy systems unit said experiments with the new probe planned in February are key to determining the proper equipment and technologies needed to remove the fuel debris, the most challenging part of the decommissioning process expected to take decades.

…….. The probe will mainly examine the fuel debris’ physical condition rather than its radioactive components or other details which require actual sampling and safe storage……. https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/asia_pacific/toshiba-unveils-robot-to-probe-melted-fukushima-nuclear-fuel/2019/01/28/4214f596-2314-11e9-b5b4-1d18dfb7b084_story.html?utm_term=.3bfe336cb31c

January 31, 2019 Posted by | Fukushima continuing | Leave a comment

A bit of good news – Radioactive Cesium-137 diminishing in 2 Fukushima rivers, after close to 8 years

January 29, 2019 Posted by | Fukushima continuing | 1 Comment