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Horrors of Hiroshima, a reminder nuclear weapons remain global threat

UN News,    15 January 2022, Peace and Security, Despite the annihilation of two major Japanese cities in 1945, atomic bombs have not been relegated to the pages of history books, but continue to be developed today – with increasingly more power to destroy than they had when unleashed on Hiroshima and Nagasaki back in 1945.
 Those first nuclear weapons deployed by the United States, indiscriminately killed tens of thousands of non-combatants but also left indelible scars for the immediate survivors, that they, their children and grandchildren still carry today.

“The Red Cross hospital was full of dead bodies. The death of a human is a solemn and sad thing, but I didn’t have the time to think about it because I had to collect their bones and dispose of their bodies”, a then 25-year-old woman said in a recorded testimony, 1.5 km from Hiroshima’s ground zero.

“This was truly a living hell, I thought, and the cruel sights still stay in my mind”

To highlight the tireless work of the survivors, known in Japanese as the hibakusha, the UN’s Office for Disarmament Affairs, created an exhibition at UN Headquarters in New York which has just come to a close, entitled: Three Quarters of a Century After Hiroshima and Nagasaki: The Hibakusha—Brave Survivors Working for a Nuclear-Free World.

It vividly brings to life the devastation and havoc wreaked by those first atomic bombs (A-bombs), and their successor weapons, the more powerful hydrogen bombs (H-bombs) which began testing in the 1950s

Quest to save humanity

In the aftermath of the bombings in Japan, the hibakusha, conducted intense investigations with the aim of preventing history from repeating itself.

With an average age of 83 today, the dwindling band continue to share their stories and findings with supporters at home and abroad, “to sav[ing] humanity…through the lessons learned from our experiences, while at the same time saving ourselves”, they say, in the booklet No More Hibakusha -Message to the World, which accompanies the exhibit.

Recounting the day in Hiroshima that 11 members of her family slept together in an air raid shelter, a then 19-year-old woman spoke of how three small children died during the night, while calling for water.

“The next morning, we carried their bodies out of the shelter, but their faces were so swollen and black that we couldn’t tell them apart, so laid them out on the ground according to height and decided their identities according to their size”.

These brave survivors testify that peace cannot be achieved ever, through the use of nuclear weapons.

‘Absolute evil’

A group of elderly hibakusha, called Nihon Hidankyo, have dedicated their lives to achieving a non-proliferation treaty, which they hope will ultimately lead to a total ban on nuclear weapons.

“On an overcrowded train on the Hakushima line, I fainted for a while, holding in my arms my eldest daughter of one year and six months. I regained my senses at her cries and found no-one else was on the train”, a 34-year-old woman testifies in the booklet. She was located just two kilometres from the Hiroshima epicentre.

Fleeing to her relatives in Hesaka, at age 24 another woman remembers that “people, with the skin dangling down, were stumbling along. They fell down with a thud and died one after another”, adding, “still now I often have nightmares about this, and people say, ‘it’s neurosis’”.

One man who entered Hiroshima after the bomb recalled in the exhibition, “that dreadful scene – I cannot forget even after many decades”.

A woman who was 25 years-old at the time, said, “when I went outside, it was dark as night. Then it got brighter and brighter, and I could see burnt people crying and running about in utter confusion. It was hell…I found my neighbour trapped under a fallen concrete wall…Only half of his face was showing. He was burned alive”.Uniting for peace

The steadfast conviction of the Hidankyo remains: “Nuclear weapons are absolute evil that cannot coexist with humans. There is no choice but to abolish them”.

In August 1956, the survivors of the 1945 atomic bombs in Hiroshima on 6 August and Nagasaki three days later, formed the “Japan Confederation of A and H-Bomb Sufferers Organizations”.

Encouraged by the movement to ban the atomic bomb that was triggered by the Daigo Fukuryu Maru disaster – when 23 men in a Japanese tuna fishing boat were contaminated by nuclear fallout from a hydrogen bomb test at Bikini Atoll in 1954 – they have not wavered in their efforts to prevent others from becoming nuclear victims.

“We have reassured our will to save humanity from its crisis through the lessons learned from our experiences, while at the same time saving ourselves”, they declared at the formation meeting.

The spirit of the declaration, in which their own sufferings are linked to the task of preventing the hardship that they continue to carry, resonates still in the movement today…………………………………………….

The hibakusha became more and more vocal in the suffering that was inflicted upon them, hoping that it could help create a road map towards the abolition of nuclear weapons.

In oral testimonies, they shared their experiences both during and after the bombings and sent written messages to the NPT Review Conference in 2010 appealing to the world.

In July 2017, the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW), which complements the NPT, was adopted and came into force last year on 22 January……………………

the UN is committed to ensuring their testimonies live on, as a warning to each new generation.

The Hibakusha are a living reminder that nuclear weapons pose an existential threat and that the only guarantee against their use is their total elimination”, Mr. Guterres stated. “This goal continues to be the highest disarmament priority of the United Nations, as it has been since the first resolution adopted by the General Assembly in 1946”.

While the Tenth Review Conference of the NPT, which had been scheduled for January, has been postponed on account of the COVID-19 pandemic, he continued to urge world leaders to “draw on the spirit of the Hibakusha” by putting aside their differences and taking “bold steps towards achieving the collective goal of the elimination of nuclear weapons”. https://news.un.org/en/story/2022/01/1109602

January 17, 2022 Posted by | culture and arts, depleted uranium, Japan, PERSONAL STORIES | Leave a comment

Japan to join with NuScam, Bill Gates’ TerraPower, to develop plutonium fast reactors and small nuclear reactors

there is considerable skepticism of nuclear energy in Japan, and critics are concerned that the government is moving ahead with alliances with the United States to create new technologies while there are so many unanswered questions about safety

Next-Gen Nuclear Technology – US’ Ambitious Nuclear Power Pact With Tokyo Could Fuel Japanese Industry For Decades, BySakshi Tiwari, Eurasia Times, January 14, 2022  ”…………………  (Japan) is set to give nuclear technology an all-new shot………………  Collaboration with scientists and companies in the United States will be a key component in the development of future nuclear energy technology

Japan’s Minister of Industry Koichi Hagiuda had a virtual meeting with US Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm on January 6 during which they agreed to cooperate in the development of plutonium-burning fast reactors and advanced energy plants based on small modular reactors (SMRs).

Hagiuda told Granholm that Tokyo will encourage more local energy companies to join an international program to test fast reactors and small modular reactors, or SMRs, developed by US companies such as NuScale Power LLC and others.

The meeting, Hagiuda’s first since taking office last year, took place at a time when Japan is stepping up its efforts to develop advanced nuclear power technologies.

The Japanese government intends to promote domestic enterprises that participate in international tests incorporating such technology as part of its national energy plan. The United States and France are among the other international participants in the initiative…………………………..

 in a noteworthy development that could now be seen as a premise for this new technology development, the Japanese government made it clear in its Sixth Strategic Energy Plan, released in October that it intends to move on from the events in northeast Japan………………..

In 2018, Japan and the United States had signed a memorandum of understanding to “advance the two countries’ worldwide leadership role” in civil nuclear energy.

“The Japan Atomic Energy Agency [JAEA] and Mitsubishi Heavy Industries are cooperating with US nuclear power start-up TerraPower simply because they have the required skills and knowledge on fast reactors,” says Tomoko Murakami, manager of the nuclear energy group at the Institute of Energy Economics Japan.

In the first stage of the alliance, Tokyo would spend 900 million yen ($7.8 million) on improving the AtheNa sodium experimental plant in Ibaraki prefecture for fast reactor development. The facility operated by Japan Atomic Energy Agency (JAEA) is already in operation, and an MoU on technological cooperation with TerraPower is expected to be inked by the end of January, SCMP reported.

 In 2018, Japan and the United States had signed a memorandum of understanding to “advance the two countries’ worldwide leadership role” in civil nuclear energy.

“The Japan Atomic Energy Agency [JAEA] and Mitsubishi Heavy Industries are cooperating with US nuclear power start-up TerraPower simply because they have the required skills and knowledge on fast reactors,” says Tomoko Murakami, manager of the nuclear energy group at the Institute of Energy Economics Japan.

The system is meant to extract heat from a reactor core using liquid sodium to generate electricity. The facility will also be used in the cooperative development of a next-generation fast reactor with the United States, while work is also underway at another location, Joyo, to study the impact of neutrons on fuels and other equipment using sodium as a coolant……………………

With American experience in the technology and two of its companies deeply invested in it, Japan has a natural partner to cooperate with. Terrapower is a start-up, which is rigorously working on SMR technology and is partially funded by the American billionaire and philanthropist Bill Gates.

Another US giant working on this advanced next-generation technology is NuScale Power which has partnered with the US government on SMR development for third countries………….

Nonetheless, there is considerable skepticism of nuclear energy in Japan, and critics are concerned that the government is moving ahead with alliances with the United States to create new technologies while there are so many unanswered questions about safety, according to the SCMP.

“All the media coverage has become very positive about these new developments and the technology alliance with the US, but we must remember that at the moment fast reactor technology exists only on paper and there are no guarantees that it will be a success,”  Hajime Matsukubo, secretary-general of the Tokyo-based Citizens’ Nuclear Information Centre (CNIC) was quoted as saying.

“Japan has already spent 1 trillion yen [US$8.7 billion] on fast reactor research and another 1 trillion yen on decommissioning the experimental Monju reactor, to say nothing of what is being spent on all the work at Fukushima and decommissioning all the other reactors around the country. So it’s ridiculous to spend even more on nuclear technology that so many people do not want and do not trust,” he added.

The billions spent on nuclear power, according to CNIC, would have been far better used in establishing a local renewable sector that could have tapped into geothermal, wind, wave, solar, and other sources — and would have been the envy of the world.

It also warns that due to Japan’s unstable geology, a replay of the Fukushima accident – or a situation far worse –always remains a possibility…… 

January 15, 2022 Posted by | Japan, Small Modular Nuclear Reactors | Leave a comment

Severely damaged fuel at Fukushima No 1 reactor – survey to find this has been halted.

Survey at Fukushima No. 1 reactor container halted, https://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2022/01/12/national/tepco-fukushima-survey-halted/   Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings Inc. halted its investigation of the inside of the containment vessel of the No. 1 reactor at its stricken Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant on Wednesday.

The move came after an issue was found during preparation work for the display of data such as radiation levels from dosimeters inside underwater robots to be used in the survey. The preparations began at noon the same day and were halted around two hours later.

Tepco said that it will resume the survey once measures to resolve the issue are taken.

In the survey, which will continue until around August, Tepco aims to take pictures of melted nuclear fuel debris and other deposits using six types of underwater robots to record their locations and thickness in water that has accumulated at the bottom of the containment vessel.

It will also try to collect deposit samples and take pictures of the inside of the base that supports the reactor pressure vessel. The information obtained in the survey will be used for studies on ways to remove the debris.

The nuclear fuel at the No. 1 reactor’s core is believed to have melted and mostly fallen inside the containment vessel during the triple meltdown disaster at the plant, which was hit by a huge earthquake and tsunami on March 11, 2011.

In its survey of March 2017, Tepco failed to find nuclear fuel debris at the No. 1 reactor, leaving the reactor’s detailed situation unknown, in contrast to the No. 2 and No. 3 reactors, where melted fuel debris was successfully photographed.

January 13, 2022 Posted by | Fukushima continuing | Leave a comment

Growing radioactive waste crisis at Fukushima nuclear power plant

The continuous accumulation of radioactive slurry and other nasty substances, coupled with the problem of finding a safe way to dispose of melted nuclear fuel debris at reactors No. 1, No. 2 and No. 3, has plant operator Tokyo Electric Power Co. frantically scratching around for ideas.

One problem is that storage containers for the tainted slurry degrade quickly, meaning that they constantly have to be replaced.

TEPCO slow to respond to growing crisis at Fukushima plant, THE ASAHI SHIMBUN,  by Yu Fujinami and Tsuyoshi Kawamura, January 2, 2022Radioactive waste generated from treating highly contaminated water used to cool crippled reactors at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant has thrown up yet new nightmarish challenges in decommissioning the facility, a project that is supposed to be completed in 30 years but which looks increasingly doubtful.

The continuous accumulation of radioactive slurry and other nasty substances, coupled with the problem of finding a safe way to dispose of melted nuclear fuel debris at reactors No. 1, No. 2 and No. 3, has plant operator Tokyo Electric Power Co. frantically scratching around for ideas.

One problem is that storage containers for the tainted slurry degrade quickly, meaning that they constantly have to be replaced. Despite the urgency of the situation, little has been done to resolve the matter.
Fuel debris, a solidified mixture of nuclear fuel and structures inside the reactors melted as a consequence of the triple meltdown triggered by the 2011 earthquake and tsunami disaster has to be constantly cooled with water, which mixes with groundwater and rainwater rainwater that seep into the reactor buildings, producing more new radioactive water.

The contaminated water that accumulates is processed via an Advanced Liquid Processing System to remove most of radioactive materials. The ALPS is housed in a 17-meter-tall building situated close to the center of the plant site.

Reporters from the Japan National Press Club were granted a rare opportunity in late November to visit the crippled facility to observe the process.

The building houses a large grayish drum-like container designed especially to store radioactive slurry. The interior of each vessel is lined with polyethylene, while its double-walled exterior is reinforced with stainless steel.

ALARMING DEVELOPMENTS The use of chemical agents to reduce radioactive substances from the contaminated water in the sedimentation process produces a muddy material resembling shampoo. Strontium readings of the generated slurry sometimes reach tens of millions of becquerels per cubic centimeter.

TEPCO started keeping slurry in special vessels in March 2013. As of November, it had 3,373 of the containers.

Because the integrity of the vessels deteriorates quickly due to exposure to radiation from slurry, TEPCO and the Nuclear Regulation Authority (NRA) predict that durability of the containers will reach the limit after exposure to an accumulated total of 5,000 kilograys of radiation–a level equivalent to 5 million sieverts.
Based on that grim forecast, TEPCO speculated the vessels will need replacement from July 2025.

But the NRA accused TEPCO of underestimating the impact of the radiation problem. It blasted the operator for measuring slurry density 20 centimeters above the base of the container when making its dose evaluation.

“As slurry forms deposits, the density level is always highest at the bottom,” a representative of the nuclear watchdog body pointed out.

The NRA carried out its own assessment in June 2021 and told TEPCO that 31 containers had already reached the end of their operating lives. Its findings also showed an additional 56 would need replacing within two years.The NRA told TEPCO to wake up and “understand how urgent the issue is since transferring slurry will take time.”………………..


With no drastic solutions in sight, a succession of containers will reach the end of their shelf lives shortly.

ANOTHER NIGHTMARE PROBLEM Radioactive slurry is not the only stumbling block for decommissioning.

In the immediate aftermath of the 2011 disaster, TEPCO stored contaminated water in the underground spaces below two buildings near the No. 4 reactor. In doing so, bags full of a mineral known as zeolite were placed in the temporary storage pools to absorb cesium so as to reduce the amount of radioactive substances.

Twenty-six tons of the stuff are still immersed in the dirty water on the floors under the buildings. Radiation readings of 4 sieverts per hour were detected on their surfaces in fiscal 2019, enough to kill half of all the people in the immediate vicinity within an hour.

TEPCO plans to introduce a remotely controlled underwater robot to recover the bags, starting no earlier than from fiscal 2023, However, it has not determined how long this will take or where to store the bags once they are retrieved.
In addition, radioactive rubble, soil and felled trees at the plant site totaled 480,000 cubic meters as of March 2021, leading TEPCO to set up a special incinerator. The total volume is expected to top 790,000 cubic meters in 10 years, but where to dispose of the incinerated waste remains unclear.

TEPCO is in a race against time. That’s the view of Satoshi Yanagihara, a specially appointed professor of nuclear engineering at the University of Fukui who has specialist knowledge on processes to abandon reactors.

“Now, only 30 years remain before the target date of the end of decommissioning set by the government and TEPCO,” said Yanagihara.As decommissioning work is due to shortly enter a crucial stage, such as recovering nuclear fuel debris on a trial basis from as early as 2022, Yanagihara noted the need for careful arrangements before forging ahead with important procedures.

“The government and TEPCO need to grasp an overall picture of the massive task ahead and discuss how to treat, keep and discard collected nuclear debris and the leftover radioactive waste with local residents and other relevant parties,” he said.https://www.asahi.com/ajw/articles/14503708

January 3, 2022 Posted by | Fukushima continuing, wastes | Leave a comment

Protesters call for abolition of nuclear weapons

Protesters call for abolition of nuclear weapons, https://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/en/news/20220102_02/ Protesters in the Japanese city of Nagasaki took part in a sit-in on New Year’s Day and called for the abolition of nuclear weapons. A sit-in is held in the city every year on January 1. Nagasaki was hit by an atomic bomb during World War Two.

More than 60 people participated in the protest in the city’s Peace Park on Saturday.

The protesters observed a moment of silence at 11:02 a.m. The atomic bomb exploded in Nagasaki at that time on August 9, 1945. The participants held up pieces of paper with the word “peace” written on them in Japanese.

Atomic bomb survivor Tanaka Yasujiro said 2022 will be an important year. He said he wants non-nuclear countries to surround nuclear states, so that the number of nuclear warheads can be reduced.

The states, which signed the UN treaty that bans nuclear weapons, are scheduled to meet for the first time in March 2022.

The Review Conference of the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons may be held in August.

Parties to the NPT meet every five years to review the accord. A meeting was scheduled to take place in January. But the participants agreed to postpone it for the fourth time, due to the coronavirus pandemic. Various options are now being considered. A gathering in August is a possibility.

January 3, 2022 Posted by | Japan, opposition to nuclear | Leave a comment

Japan’s plan for dumping nuclear waste-water into the sea

Japan’s government on Tuesday mapped out a plan for releasing contaminated
water from the crippled Fukushima nuclear plant into the sea, including
compensation standards for local industry and the compilation of a safety
assessment report. Japan said in April it would discharge more than 1
million tonnes of contaminated water in stages after treatment and
dilution, starting around spring 2023. The announcement provoked concerns
from local fishermen and objections from neighbouring China and South
Korea.

 Reuters 28th Dec 2021

https://www.reuters.com/markets/commodities/japan-maps-out-action-plan-disposal-fukushima-water-2021-12-28/

December 30, 2021 Posted by | Fukushima continuing | Leave a comment

Kashiwazaki-Kariwa nuclear powerplant out of action for many months due to 74 instances of defective welding.

Shoddy welding maintenance work at the Kashiwazaki-Kariwa nuclear power
plant in Niigata Prefecture will push back moves to bring the facility back
online by many months, perhaps longer, its operator Tokyo Electric Power
Co. acknowledged.

The No. 7 reactor has been plagued by problems to do with
installing safeguards against terrorist attacks that required further work
and a new round of inspections by the Nuclear Regulation Authority, the
nation’s nuclear watchdog body.

TEPCO announced Dec. 24 that it had
uncovered 74 instances of defective welding that is essential to safe
operations of the nuclear reactor. The utility said it had been tipped off
anonymously on several occasions since March about shoddy welding work done
by a subcontractor. In its latest announcement, TEPCO acknowledged the
problem and said welding would have to be redone at 1,200 or so sections, a
process that will likely take until next summer.

 Asahi Shimbun 25th Dec 2021

 https://www.asahi.com/ajw/articles/14510525

December 27, 2021 Posted by | Japan, safety | Leave a comment

TEPCO files for approval of Fukushima plant water release.

Operator Files For Approval of Fukushima Plant Water Release, Claims Journal, By Mari Yamaguchi December 22, 2021  TOKYO (AP)–The operator of the wrecked Fukushima nuclear plant said Tuesday it has applied for approval from safety authorities to construct an undersea tunnel and other facilities needed for the planned release of large amounts of treated radioactive water into the sea.

The operator, Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings, said it hopes to obtain approval from the Nuclear Regulation Authority to begin constructing the facilities in June and start releasing the water in April 2023.

The approval would cover the basic plan and design of the undersea tunnel, equipment to dilute the water with sea water and other necessary materials.  https://www.claimsjournal.com/news/international/2021/12/22/307711.htm

TEPCO plans to release massive amounts of treated but still radioactive water into the ocean about 1 kilometer (0.6 mile) from the plant to ensure safety and minimize the impact on local fishing and the environment.

The contaminated water is to be diluted with large amounts of seawater to reduce the concentration of radioactive materials below allowable limits.

About 1,000 storage tanks at the plant currently filled with radioactive water need to be removed to make room for facilities necessary for the plant’s decommissioning, TEPCO says.

An official in charge of the water discharge project, Junichi Matsumoto, said TEPCO will construct the undersea tunnel by drilling through bedrock in the seabed.

Under the plan TEPCO submitted to the nuclear authority, the water will be released about 12 meters (40 feet) below the ocean’s surface……….

The government in April approved the decision to start discharging the water into the Pacific Ocean under safety standards set by regulators, calling it the most realistic option. The idea has been fiercely opposed by fishermen, residents and neighboring countries including China and South Korea.   https://www.claimsjournal.com/news/international/2021/12/22/307711.htm

December 24, 2021 Posted by | Fukushima continuing | Leave a comment

Plight of Fukushima’s fishermen

In April 2021, the Japanese government decided to discharge radioactive
water stored inside the TEPCO Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station into
the Pacific Ocean. TEPCO’s plan is to build a pipeline along the ocean
bed and release diluted processed radioactive water 1 km off the coast of
Fukushima. In November, Greenpeace conducted its 33rd Fukushima radiation
survey since the nuclear disaster, during which we had the opportunity to
interview local fisherman Mr. Haruo Ono. Mr. Ono opens up about the pain he
feels, saying that discharging radioactive water into the ocean will throw
Fukushima’s fishing industry back down into the abyss.

 Greenpeace 20th Dec 2021

December 21, 2021 Posted by | employment, Japan | Leave a comment

Greenpeace says that TEPCO ignored risks to South Korea when assessing radiological impact of releasing Fukushima nuclear water waste.

 The international environmental organization called TEPCO’s radiological
impact assessment “highly selective” in its use of IAEA guidelines. The
international environmental group Greenpeace sent an opinion to the Tokyo
Electric Power Company (TEPCO) on Thursday stating that the company’s
radiological impact assessment of contaminated water from the Fukushima
Nuclear Power Plant made convenient use of International Atomic Energy
Agency (IAEA) guidelines without considering the potential damages to
residents of neighboring countries such as South Korea.

The opinion from Greenpeace was based on its review of the draft version of a contaminated
water radiological impact assessment report released by TEPCO last month.

 Hankyoreh 18th Dec 2021

http://english.hani.co.kr/arti/english_edition/e_international/1023823.html

December 20, 2021 Posted by | Fukushima continuing | Leave a comment

A lonely evening at home for Fukushima man retracing past

Unsurprisingly, concerns about radiation levels are still on the minds of many former residents. His wife, Mikiko, 64, refused to accompany him for that reason. Ikeda was the only individual in his neighborhood who took up the offer to return home.

Mitsuhide Ikeda pours sake while seated in front of photos of his deceased parents at his home in Okuma, Fukushima Prefecture.

December 11, 2021

OKUMA, Fukushima Prefecture–Settling in for the night, Mitsuhide Ikeda poured sake into a glass and raised a toast to framed photos of his deceased parents: “I finally made it back home. Let’s drink together.”

The last time the 60-year-old cattle farmer spent a night at home was 10 years and nine months ago.

Large parts of this town that co-hosts the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant were declared “difficult-to-return” zones after the triple meltdown triggered by the 2011 earthquake and tsunami disaster.

Ikeda’s parents died after the nuclear accident.

The Shimonogami district where the Ikeda’s home is located lies about five kilometers southwest of the Fukushima nuclear facility.

As part of efforts to rebuild the areas around the plant, the government recently began letting residents return home for an overnight stay as a means of preparing for the day when they can do so permanently.

Unsurprisingly, concerns about radiation levels are still on the minds of many former residents. His wife, Mikiko, 64, refused to accompany him for that reason. Ikeda was the only individual in his neighborhood who took up the offer to return home.

Dangerously high radiation levels registered immediately after the disaster that made it impossible for anybody to live in the area have gradually fallen. The government spent vast sums on the time-consuming process of decontaminating topsoil as a way of reducing radiation levels.

It intends to lift the evacuation order for some parts of Okuma in spring. That would be the first step for setting the stage for residents to return home.

The temporary overnight stay program began in Katsurao on Nov. 30 and is gradually being expanded to five other municipalities, including Okuma.

A check for radiation in November on the Ikeda plot found one spot with a reading of 3.8 microsieverts per hour, above the level deemed safe enough for the government to lift the evacuation order.

Even though the Environment Ministry is planning additional decontamination work, Mikiko was unsettled by the reading and concluded it would be impossible to pick up the threads of their past life in Okuma.

Other changes in the close to 11 years since the nuclear disaster make a return to Okuma unrealistic.

While a large supermarket, hospital and bank branch remain standing in the town, there is no indication when those facilities might resume operations.

In the interim, the Ikedas plan to commute to Okuma from the community they moved to as evacuees.

The overnight stay program is restricted to an area close to what was once the bustling center of the town. About 7,600 residents lived there before the nuclear disaster.

The town government envisions that as many as 2,600 people will reside in the town within five years of the evacuation order being finally lifted if plans proceed to rebuild social infrastructure.

But the writing is on the wall for many people.

According to the Environment Ministry, about 1,150 homes in the district had been torn down as of the end of September.

And as of Dec. 8, only 31 residents in 15 households applied for the overnight stays.

Even Ikeda admits that Okuma will likely never return to the community he knew before 2011.

“Too much time has passed,” he said.

https://www.asahi.com/ajw/articles/14500400

December 12, 2021 Posted by | Fukushima 2021, Japan, PERSONAL STORIES | , , | Leave a comment

Japan PM to push for progress at NPT meet to scrap nuclear weapons

Japan PM to push for progress at NPT meet to scrap nuclear weapons

TOKYO, Dec 9 (Reuters) – Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida vowed on Thursday to do his utmost to push for meaningful progress at a January meeting to review the Non-Proliferation Treaty and encourage action to rid the world of nuclear weapons.

The comment by Kishida, who hails from the nuclear memorial city of Hiroshima, comes after the previous such meeting, in New York in 2015, failed to adopt a final document following disagreement over a plan for a nuclear-free Middle East…………  https://www.reuters.com/business/energy/japan-pm-push-progress-npt-meet-scrap-nuclear-weapons-2021-12-09/

December 11, 2021 Posted by | Japan, politics international, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Tepco to repair Fukushima nuclear station’s partially melted protective ice wall.

Ice Wall to Halt Groundwater Flow at Japan’s Fukushima Nuclear Plant to Be Repaired   https://thewire.in/world/ice-wall-to-halt-groundwater-flow-at-japans-fukushima-nuclear-plant-to-be-repaired

Tokyo Electric Power Co (Tepco) will launch remedial works at the stricken plant after ice wall tests indicated partial melting.   Tokyo: Tokyo Electric Power Co (Tepco) will launch remedial works at the stricken Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant to strengthen an ice wall intended to halt the flow of groundwater after testing indicated partial melting.

The work could begin as early as the start of December, according to a presentation from the plant operator dated Thursday, part of a costly and troubled effort to secure the site following the 2011 earthquake and tsunami.

The ice wall is intended to limit the seepage of groundwater into the plant, which has created large amounts of toxic water being stored by Tepco in tanks.

Japan plans to release more than 1 million tonnes of water into the sea after treating it. The water contains the radioactive isotope tritium, which cannot be removed.

November 27, 2021 Posted by | Fukushima continuing | 1 Comment

Japan’s nuclear regulator inspecting seismic risks at Shika nuclear power station.

NRA looking into fault risks at nuclear plant   https://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/en/news/20211118_26/   Japan’s nuclear regulator is inspecting the Shika nuclear power plant on the Sea of Japan coast to determine whether a fault beneath a reactor building is active.

The two-day inspection by the Nuclear Regulation Authority began at the plant in Ishikawa Prefecture on Thursday with 14 NRA experts taking part.

They went into a ditch dug for the survey, observed cross sections of geological strata and touched soil walls to confirm the layers’ conditions near faults.

Hokuriku Electric Power Company, which operates the plant, applied for screenings of the Number 2 reactor, which has been offline since 2011.

The NRA launched the screenings in 2014 with a focus on whether 10 faults at the plant, including one beneath the building that houses the Number 2 reactor, are active. In 2016, a panel of the authority said it could not deny that some of the faults could move.

In response, the firm insisted that the faults are not active, citing new data on constituents of mineral samples collected from the faults.

New guidelines for nuclear safety do not allow operators to build important facilities such as reactor buildings above active faults that could move.

If the fault beneath the Number 2 reactor is found to be active, operation of the facility cannot resume and it may eventually be dismantled.

The experts are expected to confirm on Friday the length of an active fault that runs near the complex.

November 20, 2021 Posted by | Japan, safety | Leave a comment

Japanese municipalities are finding resistance to hosting nuclear waste dump, despite substantial government bribes.

The two municipalities are meeting strong resistance from residents and nearby local governments.

Since Suttsu and Kamoenai expressed their willingness to accept the first-stage survey, the assemblies of some nearby municipalities have enacted ordinances declaring a rejection of nuclear waste and their governments have declined state grants related to the survey.

One year on, outlook for nuclear waste storage unclear  Japan Times, 17 Nov 21, The outlook for the possible hosting of a final storage facility for nuclear waste in two Hokkaido municipalities remains uncertain, with Wednesday marking one year since a first-stage survey for the site’s selection started there, for the first time in Japan.

The town of Suttsu, along with the nearby village of Kamoenai, is undergoing the first-stage survey, known as literature investigation, to check whether it is suited to host a permanent underground storage site for high-level radioactive waste from nuclear power plants across the country.

The two municipalities are meeting strong resistance from residents and nearby local governments.

The government is seeking a location for the dump site, which will hold nuclear waste, or the remnants of spent nuclear fuel that has been treated, for a long period said to extend for 100,000 years.

The literature investigation, conducted by the Nuclear Waste Management Organization of Japan, or NUMO, will take about two years to confirm that there is no volcanic activity or active faults in the area by reviewing geological literature and data. The first-stage survey does not involve drilling.

Up to ¥2 billion in subsidies from the state will be paid to each location, as well as surrounding municipalities, for the first-stage investigation. The two municipalities plan to use the grants to set up regional revitalization funds.

Suttsu held a mayoral election last month in which the survey became a central topic of debate. Incumbent Mayor Haruo Kataoka, who decided to accept the first-stage research a year ago in line with what he felt was the will of the residents, won re-election.

However, his opponent, who called for a halt to the survey, gained about 80% of Kataoka’s vote count, suggesting that public opinion is still split.

The town government will decide whether to proceed to the second stage of the survey, called preliminary investigation, in a referendum.

Since Suttsu and Kamoenai expressed their willingness to accept the first-stage survey, the assemblies of some nearby municipalities have enacted ordinances declaring a rejection of nuclear waste and their governments have declined state grants related to the survey.

Suttsu and Kamoenai initially planned to have monthly opportunities for residents to exchange opinions on the issue, but the novel coronavirus crisis has limited such sessions to four each so far. The second-stage survey requires the consent of not only the municipal mayors, but also of Hokkaido Gov. Naomichi Suzuki, who is opposed to the investigation on the grounds that a prefectural ordinance rejects nuclear waste being brought to the prefecture.

November 18, 2021 Posted by | Japan, wastes | Leave a comment