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The toll on marine life of radioactive water poured into the Pacific Ocean.

Beyond Nuclear 2nd May 2021, Tepco and the Japanese government are once more preparing to “dispose” of 1.25 million tonnes — translating to hundred of millions of gallons — of radioactive water accumulating at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant site by pouring it into the Pacific Ocean. I say “accumulating” because this water, needed to constantly cool the stricken reactors that exploded and melted down during and after March 11, 2011 — and that also runs down neighboring hillsides and across the site, picking up radioactive contamination — will continue to accumulate.

This is not a one-stop-toss. Citizens groups and fishing unions have been up in arms about this ever since it was first mooted. The actual dumping of the water always seems to be about two years away, and is always threatened as
the only “solution,” which it is not. It is almost certainly the cheapest solution, but not the only choice.

Even if we never ate the fish that comes out of the Pacific; and even if the fish and higher marine mammal predators never ate each other; contaminating sea life with radioactive toxins is wrong. We made it. Why dump it on creatures who had nothing whatever to do with its production and never needed to turn on a light?

This is not the only instance of total disregard for marine life when it comes to nuclear power. Just by using what is known as the “once-through” cooling intake system at coastal nuclear power plants, the toll on sea life is immense.

Billions of fish, fingerlings and spawn are drawn into the plant with the cooling water (the water rate can be as high as a million gallons a minute) and duly pulverized. Their “remains” are discharged at the other end as sediment. No fishing license required. New nuclear power plants promise to be even bigger marine predators.

May 6, 2021 Posted by | Japan, oceans | Leave a comment

Radioactive leakage from nuclear waste containers near Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant

ECNS 30th April 2021, Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings Inc. (TEPCO), the operator of the
Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant in Japan’s northeast said last week a
container holding radioactive waste at the site of the plant may have
leaked, Japan’s Asahi Shimbun reported Friday last week.

The TEPCO said
some gel-like blocks with large amount of radiation were found last month
at the site where the containers were kept, and the situation is under
investigation, according to the newspaper. The containers have been stacked
in three layers, and the top container has become rusted and corroded,
causing liquid accumulation, said the company. The sides of the two lower
containers have been contaminated with radioactive materials, and it is
believed that the liquid leaking from the top container may have made its
way to the ground through the containers below, according to the company.

The relevant containers have been moved to an indoor storage facility. The
concentration of radioactive materials that emit beta rays in the gel-like
blocks was 230,000 becquerels per gram, according to the report.

May 3, 2021 Posted by | incidents, Japan | Leave a comment

Even with water release to the Pacific, Fukushima nuclear plant needs more storage tanks

Even with water release, nuclear plant needs more storage tanks, Asahi Shimbun, By KEITARO FUKUCHI/ Staff Writer, May 1, 2021   The plan to release treated radioactive water from the crippled Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant into the sea will likely not resolve the chronic problem of contaminated water accumulating there, Asahi Shimbun calculations show.

The maximum rate of water discharge allowed under the government’s basic plan would be less than the inflow of rainwater and groundwater at the nuclear power plant, meaning that additional water storage tanks would inevitably be needed at the site.

The government on April 13 approved the basic plan to release more than 1 million tons of treated water into the sea. The government and plant operator Tokyo Electric Power Co. hope to start discharging the water two years from now. Existing storage tanks at the site are expected to reach full capacity around the same time.

The Asahi Shimbun studied this plan based on documents and materials published by the government and TEPCO……… 

May 1, 2021 Posted by | Fukushima continuing | Leave a comment

Governor of Fukui Prefecture to approve restart of aging nuclear reactors, but local community is opposed.

Governor to approve restart of 40-plus-year-old nuclear reactors in Japan first

April 28, 2021 (Mainichi Japan)   FUKUI — The governor of central Japan’s Fukui Prefecture announced on April 28 his intention to approve the reactivation of 40-plus-year-old nuclear reactors following an online meeting with the economy minister. If the move goes ahead, it would be the first time in Japan for such aging reactors to be restarted.

Fukui Gov. Tatsuji Sugimoto spoke with Economy, Trade and Industry Minister Hiroshi Kajiyama online on April 27 and confirmed the central government’s nuclear power policy, including plans to reboot the No. 3 reactor at Kansai Electric Power Co.’s Mihama Nuclear Power Station in the prefectural town of Mihama and the No. 1 and 2 reactors at the Takahama station in the prefectural town of Takahama — both of which are over 40 years old since they were put online.

Following the March 2011 disaster at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station, Japan decided to set the operating period of a nuclear rector at 40 years as a general rule. That period can be extended for up to 20 years as a one-time only exception if the Nuclear Regulation Authority approves…….

As a rule, consensus from host municipalities and prefectures is needed to restart a reactor. The Mihama and Takahama municipal governments, as well as their respective town assemblies have already agreed to restart the aging reactors. The Fukui prefectural nuclear safety commission tasked with checking the safety of nuclear plants has compiled a report on the assessment of Kansai Electric’s safety measures and submitted it to Gov. Sugimoto on April 22………..

The prefectural government had indicated that, as a condition for approving the restart of aging reactors, Kansai Electric present candidate locations outside Fukui Prefecture for interim storage sites for spent nuclear fuel. In February this year, Gov. Sugimoto expressed his appreciation over the utility’s proposal to secure a location “by the end of 2023,” including the shared use of a storage site in the Aomori Prefecture city of Mutsu in northern Japan.

The governor then practically shelved resolving the issue of interim storage sites and requested that the prefectural assembly debate the potential restart of the aging reactors. The central government had presented additional aid programs on April 6, including the provision of up to 2.5 billion yen (about $23 million) per nuclear station which is older than 40 years — in the cases of Mihama and Takahama stations, the subsidy will total 5 billion yen (roughly $46 million). With this, Fukui Prefecture entered the final stage of building local consensus for rebooting the idled reactors.

Meanwhile, local residents have voiced concerns over the safety of long-running reactors and evacuation routes in the event of an accident, among other issues……..

Kansai Electric will begin full-fledged preparations as soon as local consensus is built. However, as the construction of a specialized anti-terrorism facility, which became mandatory to reboot reactors under the new safety regulations, has been delayed, the timing of actually restarting the reactors remains undecided.

The Japan Atomic Power Co.’s Tokai No. 2 Power Station in the Ibaraki Prefecture village of Tokai in east Japan, which is also more than 40 years old, has been given the green light by the national government for an extension, but the utility has not been able to get consensus from the local community.

(Japanese original by Riki Iwama, Fukui Bureau)

April 29, 2021 Posted by | Japan, politics | Leave a comment

Thyroid cancer increased 20-fold in Fukushima children

IPPNW 26th April 2021, Dr Alex Rosen: Thyroid cancer increased 20-fold in Fukushima children. In 2011, people in Japan were exposed to radioactive fallout in many places. Some still live in irradiated regions where they are confronted with increased amounts of radiation every day: radioactive hot spots on the roadside, in rice fields or in sandboxes, contaminated fungi or algae, irradiated groundwater and recontamination from forest fires or floods.

One of the most dreaded long-term effects of radioactive exposure is the development of cancers through mutation of the DNA. Thyroid cancer in children is certainly not the most dangerous, but it is the easiest to detect form of radiation-related cancer. On the one hand, the latency periods until the development of a cancerous ulcer are relatively short,only a few years; on the other hand, thyroid cancer in children is anextremely rare disease, so that even a slight increase can be statistically significant. In 2011, the pressure on the Japanese authorities to investigate the development of thyroid cancer in children and adolescents in Fukushima was correspondingly great.

April 27, 2021 Posted by | children, Japan | Leave a comment

Fukushima waste water plan won’t win public confidence, no matter how hard Japan tries

Fukushima waste water plan won’t win public confidence, no matter how hard Japan tries,  Peter Wynn Kirby

  • The nuclear industry’s history of secrecy and cover-ups is only one reason
  • Tepco’s incompetent and at times dishonest handling so far of the 2011 disaster and its aftermath has shattered what’s left of people’s trust.

To exasperated observers, this recalled the nuclear industry’s notorious 1990s mobilisation of Pluto-kun, a puckish cartoon character who drinks plutonium – arguably the world’s most dangerous substance – to demonstrate its harmlessness.

While other nations in the region have registered vociferous opposition to the water release plan, the domestic resistance is telling. A majority of Japanese oppose the plan. For a decade, the fishing industry has laboured, successfully, to show that the seafood it brings to market is safe, giving a wide berth to the plume of radioactive effluent haemorrhaging out of the Fukushima nuclear plant. All these efforts may soon appear to have been made in vain.

As indicated above, the choice of last Tuesday for the announcement seems to have been dictated by politics alone. Did Japan see the Olympics as a feel-good spectacle that could provide cover for the decision? Did US President Joe Biden’s recent pressure on Japan and South Korea to work together on regional security make the timing more palatable? 

Whatever the calculus involved, one thing is for sure: the more Japan tries to make Fukushima Daiichi seem perfectly safe, the more people distrust the message – and the messenger.

As the Japanese proverb goes, “Let the past drift away like water.” Yet with radiation, letting go is not so simple. Even as the Japanese government tries to rid itself of the catastrophic after-effects of the Fukushima nuclear crisis, radioactive traces stubbornly remain. 

Japan announced last week its intention to release about 1.25 million tonnes of waste water collected from the bowels of the crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power station. The water to be released into the Pacific Ocean contains tritium, a radioactive hydrogen isotope with a half-life of over 12 years. The unwelcome news has provoked uproar both within Japan and among neighbouring countries

For over a decade, authorities have been engaged in a messy, difficult, frustrating, even Sisyphean task, flushing the ruined footprint of the power station with water to keep the slumped nuclear fuel there from triggering a chain reaction.The meltdowns left parlous uranium fuel in desultory clumps amid the wreckage below. The only way to cool the escaped uranium is to flood the most dangerous areas of the Fukushima Daiichi complex with circulating seawater. Radioactive groundwater and waste water have been stored on-site to avoid contact with humans and the environment.

Ever since, huge water tanks filled with contaminated water have been springing up around the Fukushima Daiichi site like poisonous mushrooms. Now, there are over 1,000 of them. Most rival the size of small Japanese apartment buildings. 

You didn’t have to be a genius to realise that the situation at Fukushima Daiichi was unsustainable. Any child who could do basic maths, or maybe a bit of Minecraft, would have been able to see that, day by day, month by month, the water would increase and the 350-hectare site would have less and less available space.Whatever else you might say about Japanese bureaucrats with regard to nuclear policy, they have very good maths skills. As a result, we can surmise that Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga’s announcement last week was, at root, a question of politics and calculated timing

Not that Japan didn’t attempt to resolve the situation otherwise. Authorities tried a range of strategies, including plugging leaks and creating a gigantic US$300 million ice wall around the site, underground, to stem water flow.

In the end, filtering the waste water was the only workable solution. But Japan had mixed results with this strategy. In June 2011, the first filtration system set up by reviled Tepco – Tokyo Electric Power Co, the company that owned the nuclear power station – broke down after only a few hours. The amount of radioactive Caesium in the water overwhelmed the filters. 

More recently, before a parliamentary commission, Tepco was forced to admit that it had falsely claimed to have treated most of the waste water from the plant. In actual fact, Tepco had properly dealt with only about one-fifth of the waste water.

Astonishingly, this disappointing result stemmed from it not having bothered to change the filters often enough. Even such basic elements of quality control seem to be beyond the capabilities of the Tepco team, which already lives in infamy after having presided over the world’s second most damaging civil nuclear disaster, after Chernobyl. 

Predictably, scientists, officials and industry stakeholders argue that this degree of tritium discharge happens all the time in the nuclear industry – this is more or less true, however perturbing – and suggest that the announced controlled release should therefore present no problem whatsoever.

But the history of the nuclear industry globally is one of military synergies, secrecy, cover-ups, Machiavellian information management, and propaganda-style communication with the public. Indeed, it was striking that on the very same day as Suga’s announcement, Japan’s reconstruction agency released a video depicting tritium in the form of Tritium-kun, a harmless-seeming fishlike creature with blushing cheeks who says tritium release is safe.

April 22, 2021 Posted by | Fukushima continuing, public opinion | 2 Comments

Legal and other problems for Japan, with growing opposition to its plan for dumping Fukushima waste-water in the ocean

FILE PHOTO: Storage tanks for radioactive water are seen at Tokyo Electric Power Co’s (TEPCO) tsunami-crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant in Okuma town, Fukushima prefecture, Japan February 18, 2019. REUTERS/Issei Kato/File Photo

Toxic reaction to Japan’s
Fukushima water dump

Experts insist the release of treated radioactive water is not dangerous.

Legal challenges might find otherwise.

The Netflix documentary “Seaspiracy” caused a stir following its release last month, both for highlighting the serious damage human activities are causing the world’s oceans – whether from marine debris or whale hunting – and also for claims that the program features misleading statements and statistics.

But the controversy pales against the announcement last week by the Japanese government that it plans in two years to release treated radioactive water into the Pacific Ocean.

The contaminated water has been held in tanks since an earthquake and subsequent tsunami damaged the Fukushima nuclear reactor in 2011. With storage capacity predicted to run out late next year, Japan has decided to press ahead with long-speculated plans to dump treated wastewater into the sea.

Even though the Japanese government, International Atomic Energy Agency and some experts have argued that the release of the water is not dangerous and will do no harm to the ocean, there are good reasons to be concerned about the potential for environmental damage. Local Japanese, South Korean and Taiwanese fishing industries have protested the move, as have communities in the Pacific Islands. China has been scathing, with one recent op-ed in the state-run China Daily declaring “Japan cannot use the Pacific as its sewer”. The United States has been more understanding in its comments, with Secretary of State Antony Blinken praising Japan for “transparent efforts” in its decision.

But Japan may also be challenged under international law, and South Korea has already threatened legal action under international dispute settlement mechanisms.

There are at least two international treaties that regulate or ban the dumping of waste at sea: the United Nations Convention on the law of the Sea (UNCLOS) and the 1996 Protocol to the Convention on the Prevention of Marine Pollution by Dumping of Wastes and Other Matter, 1972, generally referred to as the London Convention and Protocol.

UNCLOS stipulates that all parties shall cooperate in protecting the marine environment and under Article 210 explicitly requires “laws, regulations and measures shall ensure that pollution by dumping is not carried out without the permission of the competent authorities of States”.

That terminology will be debated, whether it be over the notion of “competent authorities” or indeed whether Japan’s plan amounts to “dumping”. UNCLOS defines the terminology of dumping as “any deliberate disposal at sea of wastes or other matter from vessels, aircraft, platforms or other man-made structures at sea”. Given that the proposal is to release water held on land, this may not be covered by the convention.

It may even be argued that dumping at sea is allowable under Article 8 of the London Convention and Protocol. The article stipulates that dumping is allowed during an emergency, with the provision that a party “shall consult any other country or countries that are likely to be affected”. That may explain the “transparency” of Japan providing two years notice of its intended action. Yet in this case, it is questionable whether running out of storage capacity can be considered an emergency, given the article also stipulates such action is permissible only “in emergencies posing an unacceptable threat to human health, safety, or the marine environment and admitting of no other feasible solution”. 

Regardless of how such disputes play out, however, it is also notable that neither UNCLOS nor the London Convention and Protocol have strong sanction mechanisms. Enforcement relies on either coastal states or flag states.

Neighbouring countries have reacted strongly, as have international environmental NGOs, including Greenpeace. Boycotts and bans on Japanese fisheries products have already been mooted. Unless another solution is found, Japan’s plan will continue to face a mounting tide of opposition.

April 22, 2021 Posted by | Japan, Legal, politics international | Leave a comment

Decision on Fukushima waste water should be in consultation with international agencies, not just a decision by Japan alone.

Disposal of Fukushima nuclear wastewater should be assessed under framework of intl agencies, not let world pay: FM, By Global Times, 21 Apr 21, China’s Foreign Ministry said on Wednesday the disposal of Fukushima nuclear wastewater should be assessed and discussed under the framework of international agencies including the UN, the WHO, and the IAEA, urging the Japanese government to correct its irresponsible decision to dump of the wastewater to the ocean and avoid involving people all around the world in paying for its wrongdoings. 

The remarks came after South Korean Foreign Minister Chung Eui-yong expressed opposition to the move, and said on Tuesday that Seoul will work closely with international agencies to deal with Japan.

At a routine press conference, China’s Foreign Ministry spokesperson Wang Wenbin stressed that before dumping nuclear-contaminated water, there should be a discussion with neighboring countries and an evaluation within the framework of international agencies including the United Nations, the World Health Organization, and the International Atomic Energy Agency.

Wang added that Japan’s decision to dump the nuclear-contaminated water is not only opaque, unscientific, unlawful, irresponsible and unethical, but also at risk of being condemned by the world.

“A ban has been placed on black scorpionfish caught off Fukushima waters from entering markets due to the detection of excessive radioactive materials. And this is the second time that fish have been found with excessive radioactive materials in Fukushima waters since February,” said Wang.

All of these signs point to the fact that disposal of radionuclides is complicated and difficult, noted Wang, adding that the Fukushima nuclear power plant accident has been bringing harm to its surroundings for the past decade since it happened. ……..

Wang said that the methods of the wastewater disposal concern the safety of the Asia-Pacific region, the global ecological environment, and the lives and the health of people in all countries. The data should be evaluated and consultations held with all parties whose interests are bound to it.

“We noticed that Japan’s Tokyo Electric Power Company intends to submit a progress plan for wastewater disposal in May. We express strong opposition and serious concern to the matter as Japan unilaterally pushes forward the plan without consultation with the international community especially neighboring countries,” Wang said.  

“Please don’t let people all over the world pay for Japan’s wrongdoings,” he added.

April 22, 2021 Posted by | Japan, Legal, oceans, politics international, wastes | Leave a comment

Japan’s government bans shipments of black rockfish from Fukushima, due to highlevels of radioactive cesium

Fish radioactive report prompts Fukushima ban,

By WANG XU in Tokyo China Daily 2021-04-21  The Japanese government banned shipments of black rockfish from Fukushima on Monday, after a radioactive substance was found to be more than five times higher than acceptable levels in the fish caught off the prefecture.

The Fukushima prefectural government said 270 becquerels of radioactive cesium were detected per kilogram of the black rockfish, which had been caught at a depth of 37 meters near the city of Minamisoma, Fukushima, on April 1.

The amount of radioactive cesium is five times more than the limit set by a local fisheries cooperative of 50 becquerels per kg. It is also sharply higher than Japan’snational standard in general foods of 100 becquerels per kg.

In response, Japan’s national nuclear emergency response headquarters on Monday ordered a ban on the shipment of the fish caught off the waters of Fukushima.

Early in February, radioactive cesium 10 times above permitted levels in Japan were detected in the same area.

Scientific research showed the amount of cesium in foods and drinks depends upon the emission of radioactive cesium through the nuclear power plant, mainly through accidents. High levels of radioactive cesium in or near one’s body can cause nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, bleeding, coma, and even death.

Monday’s restrictions came a week after Japan’s government decided to release radioactive water from the crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant into the sea despite fierce opposition from fishing crews at home and concern from the international community.

“The (Japanese) government’s decision is outrageous,” said Takeshi Komatsu, an oyster farmer in Miyagi prefecture, north of Tokyo. “I feel more helpless than angry when I think that all the efforts I’ve made to rebuild my life over the past decade have come to nothing.”

South Korea strongly criticized the decision to release the contaminated water, with its Foreign Ministry summoning the Japanese ambassador. President Moon Jae-in ordered officials to explore petitioning an international court over the issue.

April 22, 2021 Posted by | Japan, oceans, radiation | Leave a comment

U.N. experts concerned at Japan’s decision to dump Fukushima nuclear waste-water into the Paific.

UN Experts Decry Japan’s Plan to Dump Radioactive Fukushima Wastewater Into Ocean,

The decision is particularly disappointing as experts believe alternative solutions to the problem are available,” said the three special Brett Wilkins, staff writer  18 Apr 21, A trio of United Nations experts on Thursday added their voices to the chorus of concern over the Japanese government’s decision to dump hundreds of millions of gallons of radioactive wastewater from the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant into the Pacific Ocean, saying the move threatens not only the environment but also the human rights of people in and beyond Japan.

Japanese officials announced earlier this week that 1.25 million tonnes of treated radioactive water from the deactivated nuclear plant—which in March 2011 suffered major damage from a magnitude 9.0 earthquake and subsequent tsunami—would be discharged into the sea starting in about two years. Prime Minister Suga Yoshihide called the planned release “a realistic solution.” 

However, anti-nuclear campaigners joined Japan’s neighbors China and South Korea in condemning the decision, with Greenpeace saying that it “completely disregards the human rights and interests of the people in Fukushima, wider Japan, and the Asia-Pacific region.”

Marcos Orellana, Michael Fakhri, and David Boyd—respectively the U.N.’s special rapporteurs on toxics and human rights, the right to food, and human rights and the environment—weighed in on the issue Thursday with a joint statement calling Tokyo’s decision “very concerning.”

“The release of one million tonnes of contaminated water into the marine environment imposes considerable risks to the full enjoyment of human rights of concerned populations in and beyond the borders of Japan,” they said, adding that “the decision is particularly disappointing as experts believe alternative solutions to the problem are available.”

Critics say other options for disposing of the the water, including evaporating and then releasing it into the air, were not fully considered, although nuclear experts stress that evaporation would not isolate radioactivity. 

Japanese officials claim that levels of radioactive tritium are low enough to pose no threat to human health. However, scientists and other experts warn that the isotope bonds with other molecules in water and can make their way up the food chain to humans.

Cindy Folkers, radiation and health hazards specialist at the advocacy group Beyond Nuclear, said in a statement Wednesday that Fukushima Daiichi operator Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO) “wants us to believe that the radioactive contamination in this water will be diluted in the ocean waters, but some of the radioactive isotopes will concentrate up the food chain in ocean life.”

“Some of the contamination may not travel out to sea and can double back on itself,” said Folkers. “Dilution doesn’t work for radioactive isotopes, particularly tritium, which research shows can travel upstream.”

“TEPCO data show that even twice-through filtration leaves the water 13.7 times more concentrated with hazardous tritium—radioactive hydrogen—than Japan’s allowable standard for ocean dumping, and about one million times higher than the concentration of natural tritium in Earth’s surface waters,” she added. 

Japanese officials did reverse one highly controversial policy related to the wastewater dump this week. Amid intense public backlash, the government hastily retired Little Mr. Tritium, an animated radioactive mascot meant to promote and popularize the discharge. 

“Some of the contamination may not travel out to sea and can double back on itself,” said Folkers. “Dilution doesn’t work for radioactive isotopes, particularly tritium, which research shows can travel upstream.”

“TEPCO data show that even twice-through filtration leaves the water 13.7 times more concentrated with hazardous tritium—radioactive hydrogen—than Japan’s allowable standard for ocean dumping, and about one million times higher than the concentration of natural tritium in Earth’s surface waters,” she added. 

Japanese officials did reverse one highly controversial policy related to the wastewater dump this week. Amid intense public backlash, the government hastily retired Little Mr. Tritium, an animated radioactive mascot meant to promote and popularize the discharge. 

“It seems the government’s desire to release the water into the sea takes priority over everything,” Katsuo Watanabe, an 82-year-old fisher from Fukushima, told Kyodo News. “We fisherman can’t understand it.” 

April 19, 2021 Posted by | Japan, oceans, politics international, wastes | Leave a comment

US backs Japan’s Fukushima plans despite S Korea’s concerns

US backs Japan’s Fukushima plans despite S Korea’s concerns

Seoul fails to gain US support against Japan’s decision to release contaminated water from Fukushima nuclear plant.  Aljazeera, 18 Apr 2021

US climate envoy John Kerry has reaffirmed Washington’s confidence in Japan’s decision to release contaminated water from its crippled Fukushima nuclear plant into the sea despite concerns raised by South Korea.

Kerry arrived in Seoul on Saturday to discuss international efforts to tackle global warming, on a trip that included a stop in China ahead of President Joe Biden’s virtual summit with world leaders on climate change this month.

South Korean Foreign Minister Chung Eui-yong sought to rally support behind the country’s protest against the Fukushima plan at a dinner meeting with Kerry.

Under the plan, more than one million tonnes of water will be discharged from the plant wrecked by an earthquake and tsunami in 2011 into the nearby sea off Japan’s east coast.

Seoul strongly rebuked the decision, with the foreign ministry summoning the Japanese ambassador and President Moon Jae-in ordering officials to explore petitioning an international court.

“Minister Chung conveyed our government and people’s serious concerns about Japan’s decision, and asked the US side to take interest and cooperate so that Japan will provide information in a more transparent and speedy manner,” the ministry said in a statement.

But Kerry, at a media roundtable on Sunday, said Tokyo had made the decision in a transparent manner and will continue following due procedures.

“The US is confident that the government of Japan is in very full consultations with the IAEA,” he said, referring to the International Atomic Energy Agency……..   The former US secretary of state added that Washington would closely monitor Japan’s implementation “like every country, to make certain there is no public health threat”……..

April 19, 2021 Posted by | Fukushima continuing, politics international, USA | Leave a comment

Fukushima nuclear wastewater ‘fundamentally different’ from normal plants: Chinese ministry,

Fukushima nuclear wastewater ‘fundamentally different’ from normal plants: Chinese ministry,
By Global Times , 18 Apr 21,  Amid international pushback against Japan’s decision to dump nuclear-contaminated wastewater from the Fukushima nuclear power plant into the sea, China’s Ministry of Ecology and Environment has urged Japan to consider all safe ways of disposal to deal with the issue, as the nuclear-contaminated water is fundamentally different from discharges from other normal nuclear plants.

Regardless of domestic opposition and doubts from the international community, Japan made a unilateral decision to dump the contaminated water into the sea before exhausting all safe ways of disposal or fully consulting with neighboring countries and the international community, the ministry said. 

China, as Japan’s close neighbor and one of the stakeholders in this issue, has expressed grave concerns.

The Chinese environment ministry urged Japan, which has a responsibility to the international community, to conduct further research on all safe ways of disposal and release related information in a timely and transparent way. 

A cautious decision should be made after a careful consideration of all other safe ways of disposal and full consultation with all stakeholders, it said. 
The ministry stressed that the nuclear-contaminated water has fundamental differences from the discharge of a normally operated nuclear plant, either in terms of the original source, category of radionuclides, or disposal treatment imparity.

The Fukushima contaminated wastewater came from the cooling water injected into the melted reactor core after the nuclear accident, as well as groundwater and rainwater that permeated the reactor. It contains a variety of radionuclides in the melted reactor core, which are difficult to treat, it said.
Discharges from a normally operated plant are mainly from the technology and land drainage, which contain few fission nuclides. After being treated and strictly monitored under international standards, such discharges are much less harmful than the international standards require, the ministry noted. 

The ministry also said that China will evaluate the possible impact of nuclear-contaminated wastewater on the marine environment and strengthen monitoring of the radiation in that environment.

April 19, 2021 Posted by | Fukushima continuing | Leave a comment

China to Japan: If treated radioactive water from Fukushima is safe, ‘please drink it’

China to Japan: If treated radioactive water from Fukushima is safe, ‘please drink it’,  WA Today, By Adam Taylor, April 15, 2021 —Washington: A spokesman for China’s Foreign Ministry challenged Japan’s deputy prime minister Wednesday to drink treated water, contaminated from contact with reactors, from the wrecked Fukushima nuclear power plant, after the Japanese official suggested the water released would be safe to drink.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian, infamous for trolling Australia over the Afghanistan war crimes cases, said during a press briefing: “A Japanese official said, it’s okay if you drink this water. Then please drink it.”

The ocean is not Japan’s trash can,” Zhao also said.

The Chinese official also tweeted a similar message in English.

The Chinese Foreign Ministry’s remarks came after the Japanese government announced on Tuesday it had decided to release into the sea more than 1 million tons of water collected from Fukushima, which melted down during a 2011 nuclear disaster following a tsunami………….

China’s Zhao, known for his aggressive style of diplomacy, has responded at length to the issues surrounding Fukushima water this week, on Tuesday denying the suggestion that China had itself been in a comparable situation when it released treated radioactive water from power plants into the sea………..

Chinese records show that local power plants like Daya Bay in Shenzhen have also released large amounts of tritium into the sea. Zhao said that the water from the Fukushima was different from that released to the ocean by other nuclear plants.

“No comparison can be drawn between the two,” he said, without further explanation…..

While the United States has offered its support for Japan’s move on the Fukushima water, Zhao said on Wednesday that the Japanese side needed to reach an agreement with all stakeholder countries before it could proceed.

“China reserves the right to make further responses,” Zhao said.

April 17, 2021 Posted by | Japan, politics international | Leave a comment

Fukushima” is not over: Japanese NGOs raise concern over the ongoing nuclear disaster

Fukushima” is not over: Japanese NGOs raise concern over the ongoing nuclear disaster, Friends of the Earth Japan, Pacific Asia Resource Center (PARC), 14 Apr 21,

On the 10th anniversary of one of the worst nuclear accidents at Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station, and amid the controversial decision of the Japanese government to dump “treated” radioactive water into the ocean, Japanese NGOs Friends of the Earth Japan and Pacific Asia Resource Center (PARC) co-produced a documentary film Fukushima 10 Years Later: Voices from the continuing nuclear disaster. The film sheds light on the ongoing suffering of victims of the accident and poses critical questions about the Japanese government’s poor responses to the accident.

While then-Prime Minister Abe vainly declared to the world that “the situation in Fukushima is completely under control”, nuclear decays are continuing inside the molten fuel rods, and the exploded plants are still emitting radioactive particles to this day. In the meanwhile, evacuees are torn apart in limbo, with grim hopes of returning to their homeland, continued fear of radioactive fallout, and a dire socio-economic situation. Fisherfolk, who overcame the initial fear of ocean contamination, are forced to relive the experience each time TEPCO and the Japanese government repeatedly choose to release contaminated water into the ocean.
This happens all under the propaganda that Fukushima is pressing ahead with “Fukkou (Recovery)”.  
This video aims to highlight the current situation of the victims of the man-made disaster, and challenge the government propaganda of Fukushima’s Recovery.

Fukushima 10 Years Later: Voices from the continuing nuclear disaster
Produced by Friends of the Earth Japan and Pacific Asia Resource Center
Supervised by HOSOKAWA Komei (Citizens’ Commission on Nuclear Energy)
Directed by MATSUMOTO Hikaru (Friends of the Earth Japan)
Running time: 43 min.

The English subtitled version of the film is now available on Vimeo on Demand and will cost USD 5.75 to rent and USD 47.50 to purchase.

For further information on the film, please contact OKUMURA Yuto, Pacific Asia Resource Center.
Yuto Okumura,Pacific Asia Resource Center (PARC)

April 15, 2021 Posted by | Fukushima continuing | Leave a comment

Japan’s hugely costly nuclear reprocessing program.

Plutonium programs in East Asia and Idaho will challenge the Biden administration, Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, By Frank N. von Hippel | April 12, 2021,  ”………………Japan’s hugely costly reprocessing program. The United States has been trying to persuade Japan to abandon reprocessing ever since 1977. At the time, then prime minister Takeo Fukuda described plutonium breeder reactors as a matter of “life and death” for Japan’s energy future and steamrolled the Carter administration into accepting the startup of Japan’s pilot reprocessing plant. Today, Japan is the only non-nuclear-armed state that separates plutonium. Despite the absence of any economic or environmental justification, the policy grinds ahead due to a combination of bureaucratic commitments and the dependence of a rural region on the jobs and tax income associated with the hugely costly program. The dynamics are similar to those that have kept the three huge US nuclear-weapon laboratories flourishing despite the end of the Cold War.

For three decades, Japan has been building, fixing mistakes, and making safety upgrades on a large plutonium recycle complex in Rokkasho Village in the poor prefecture of Aomori on the northern tip of the main island, Honshu. The capital cost of the complex has climbed to $30 billion. Operation of the reprocessing plant is currently planned for 2023.

A facility for fabricating the recovered plutonium into mixed-oxide plutonium-uranium fuel for water-cooled power reactors is under construction on the same site (Figure 3 on original). The cost of operating the complex is projected to average about $3 billion per year. Over the 40-year design life of the plant, it is expected to process about 300 tons of plutonium—enough to make 40,000 Nagasaki bombs. What could possibly go wrong?

Japan’s Atomic Energy Commission reports that, because of the failures and delays of its plutonium useage programs, as of the end of 2019, Japan owned a stock of 45.5 tons of separated plutonium: 9.9 tons in Japan with the remainder in France and the United Kingdom where Japan sent thousands of tons of spent fuel during the 1990s to be reprocessed.

Both the Obama and Trump administrations pressed Tokyo to revise its reprocessing policy, especially after Japan’s decision to decommission its failed prototype breeder reactor in 2016.

Perhaps in response to this pressure, in 2018, Japan’s cabinet declared:

“The Japanese government remains committed to the policy of not possessing plutonium without specific purposes on the premise of peaceful use of plutonium and work[s] to reduce of the size of [its] plutonium stockpile.”

A step toward reductions that is being discussed would be for Japan to pay the United Kingdom to take title to and dispose of the 22 tons of Japanese plutonium stranded there after the UK mixed-oxide fuel fabrication plant was found to be inoperable. Japan’s separated plutonium in France is slowly being returned to Japan in mixed-oxide fuel for use in reactors licensed to use such fuel.

If, as currently planned, Japan operates the Rokkasho Reprocessing Plant at its design capacity of more than seven tons of plutonium separated per year, however, its rate of plutonium separation will greatly exceed Japan’s rate of plutonium use.  Four of Japan’s currently operating reactors are licensed to use mixed-oxide fuel but loaded only 40 percent as much mixed-oxide fuel as planned in 2018-19 and none in 2020. Two more reactors that can use mixed-oxide are expected to receive permission to restart in the next few years. In 2010, Japan’s Federation of Electric Power Companies projected that the six reactors would use 2.6 tons of plutonium per year. If the much-delayed Ohma reactor, which is under construction and designed to be able to use a full core of mixed-oxide fuel, comes into operation in 2028 as currently planned, and all these reactors use as much mixed-oxide fuel as possible, Japan’s plutonium usage rate would still ramp up to only 4.3 tons per year in 2033. (At the end of 2020 the Federation of Electric Power Companies announced its hope to increase the number of mixed-oxide-using reactors to 12 by 2030 but did not list the five additional reactors, saying only, “we will release it as soon as it is ready.”)

As of June 2020, construction at Rokkasho on the mixed-oxide fuel fabrication facility that will process the plutonium separated by the Rokkasho Reprocessing Plant was only 12 percent complete. It was still just a hole in the ground containing some concrete work with its likely completion years behind the currently planned 2023 operation date of the reprocessing plant.

Thus, as happened in Russia and the United Kingdom, the Rokkasho Reprocessing Plant could operate indefinitely separating plutonium without the mixed-oxide plant operating. The reprocessing plant includes storage for “working stocks” containing up to 30 tons of unirradiated plutonium. If and when it begins operating, the mixed-oxide fuel fabrication plant will itself have additional working stocks of at least several tons of plutonium. Therefore, even if Japan transfers title to the plutonium it has stranded in the United Kingdom and manages to work down its stock in France, the growth of its stock in Japan could offset those reductions.

The Biden administration should urge Japan’s government to “bite the bullet” and begin the painful but necessary process of unwinding its costly and dangerous plutonium program. A first step would be to change Japan’s radioactive waste law to allow its nuclear utilities to use the planned national deep repository for direct disposal of their spent fuel.

In the meantime, most of Japan’s spent fuel will have to be stored on site in dry casks, as has become standard practice in the United States and most other countries with nuclear power reactors. Because of its safety advantages relative to storage in dense-packed pools, the communities that host Japan’s nuclear power plant are moving toward acceptance of dry-cask storage. During the 2011 Fukushima accident, the water in a dense-packed pool became dangerously low. Had the spent fuel been uncovered and caught on fire, the population requiring relocation could have been ten to hundreds of times larger ………….

April 13, 2021 Posted by | - plutonium, Japan, Reference, reprocessing | Leave a comment