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Japan OKs plan to release Fukushima nuclear plant wastewater

Japan’s nuclear regulator has approved plans by the operator of the wrecked Fukushima nuclear plant to release its treated radioactive wastewater into the sea next year, saying the outlined methods are safe and risks to the environment minimal

By Mari Yamaguchi Associated Press, May 18, 2022

……….   There is still concern in the community and neighboring countries about the potential health hazards of the release of the wastewater that includes tritium — a byproduct of nuclear power production and a possible carcinogen at high levels.

The government and TEPCO say more than 60 isotopes selected for treatment can be lowered to meet safety standards, except for tritium, but that it is safe if diluted. Scientists say impact of long term low-dose exposure to the environment and humans are unknown, and that tritium can have a bigger impact on humans when consumed in fish than in water.

,,,,,,,,,, Under the plan, TEPCO will transport water that has been treated to below releasable levels through a pipeline from the tanks to a coastal facility, where the water is diluted with seawater.

From there, the water will enter an undersea tunnel to be discharged at a point about 1 kilometer (0.6 mile) from the plant to ensure safety and minimize the impact on local fishing and the environment, according to TEPCO.

The plan will become official after a 30-day public review, a formality that is not expected to overturn the approval.

………..The contaminated water is being stored in about 1,000 tanks at the damaged plant, which officials say must be removed so that facilities can be built for its decommissioning. The tanks are expected to reach their capacity of 1.37 million tons next year — slower than an earlier estimate of later this year………..

May 19, 2022 Posted by | Fukushima continuing, wastes | Leave a comment

Japan prepares to dump water ignoring nuclear safety fears

China Daily April, 2022  The Tokyo Electric Power Company has begun construction work to prepare for the discharge of contaminated water from the crippled Fukushima nuclear plant into the Pacific Ocean next spring, Japanese media reports say.

The Japanese government and TEPCO are advancing this plan made by the Japanese government on April 13 last year, in spite of strong opposition at home and abroad.

Given that the water was used to cool the fused reactors at the nuclear plant after the Fukushima region was devastated by a tsunami in March 2011, and contains radioactive material, its potential to cause harm to the marine ecological environment, food safety and human health cannot be underestimated……………………

Japan should earnestly respond to the legitimate concerns of the international community, and reverse its decision to discharge the contaminated water into the ocean, thus fulfilling its international obligations.

April 30, 2022 Posted by | Fukushima continuing, politics international | Leave a comment

Construction projects surge at Fukushima nuclear plant despite decommissioning progress

Construction projects surge at Fukushima nuclear plant despite decommissioning progress

April 4, 2022 Mainichi Japan   OKUMA, Fukushima — The site of the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station continues to host new construction projects some 11 years after the disaster triggered by the 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake and tsunamis.

This Mainichi Shimbun reporter had the opportunity to visit the plant for the first time in seven and a half years, and reflect on why new facilities continue to appear even as the plant moves toward decommissioning…………..

While decommissioning seems to be advancing, various facilities have been newly constructed, and the issue of water remains. A rising number of tanks store treated water contaminated after it was pumped to cool fuel debris that melted down in the accident, as well as groundwater and rainwater that flowed into the buildings. Inside the tanks, the contaminated water is made to reach a radioactive concentration below regulation levels.

On the seventh floor of a building located near the site’s entrance, a Tokyo Electric Power Co. Holdings Inc. (TEPCO) representative gave me an outline of the entire facility. I could see two large cranes on the ocean side around Units 1 to 4, and another large crane and framework structure on the mountain side. When I asked about it, the representative told me the frame was being assembled in a remote location to reduce worker radiation exposure. But it wasn’t a facility being dismantled; it’s a cover measuring 66 meters long, 56 meters wide, and 68 meters high that will wrap around Unit 1.

The hydrogen explosion in Unit 1 blew the building’s roof off, and 392 pieces of nuclear fuel remain in its spent fuel pool near the ceiling. Their removal is scheduled to start in fiscal 2027 to 2028. For this to happen, the surrounding debris must be removed, and the cover’s installation will help prevent the work dispersing radioactive dust.

Ground improvements works were progressing on the neighboring Unit 2’s south side. There, a working platform to remove 615 pieces of nuclear fuel from Unit 2 will be built, with its start slated for fiscal 2024 to 2026.

The buildings for Units 1 through 4 were damaged and contaminated, so different structures, such as platforms and covers, had to be built to remove nuclear fuel from the pools. Particularly conspicuous was the thick steel frame of the Unit 4 facility, from which fuel was completely removed in 2014. Although 53 meters high, it surprisingly uses about the same amount of steel as the 333-meter-high Tokyo Tower. Since the nuclear fuel is being removed in order, new construction work continues in reactor buildings’ vicinities………………

The company listed at least 10 facilities earmarked for future construction. Put another way, the tanks need to be removed to provide land for these facilities.

Related construction work had already started at the seashore, where workers dug vertical holes to contain treated water before its release. After the implementation plan’s approval, undersea tunnel construction and other necessary work to release the water 1 km offshore will also begin.

Meanwhile, some broken cranes and damaged buildings have been left on site without being dismantled. The representative told the Mainichi Shimbun this was partly due to them trying to keep the solid waste processing volume low.

Also underway is construction of facilities to handle ever-increasing solid waste amounts. The representative said a white building I spotted in the site’s northwest side was the volume reduction facility, and that building work is going ahead for a solid waste storage facility in front of it.

The volume reduction facility scheduled for completion in March 2023 will use crushing and other methods to reduce concrete and metal debris volumes. Although nine storage buildings already exist, a 10th will soon be constructed. Nearby was also a new incineration facility for burning logged trees. TEPCO estimates solid waste generated will reach a volume of 794,000 cubic meters by March 2033, and that there will continue to be more related facilities.

Fuel debris removal will begin at the end of 2022. In the future, facilities to hold fuel debris and to store and reduce volumes of solid waste with high doses of radiation generated by the work will also be needed.

Each year creates new tasks that generate more waste, and the facilities to accommodate it. These buildings are also destined to eventually become solid waste. While this cycle continues, a final disposal method for the waste is undetermined. The government’s and TEPCO’s timetable says 20 to 30 years of plant decommissioning remain. But on site, where new construction projects continue to appear, a clear picture of when decommissioning will finish has yet to emerge.

(Japanese original by Takuya Yoshida, Science & Environment News Department)

April 4, 2022 Posted by | decommission reactor, Fukushima continuing, safety | Leave a comment

Hope, hard reality mix in Fukushima town wrecked by nuclear disaster 

Hope, hard reality mix in Fukushima town wrecked by nuclear disaster, Japan Today , Mar. 20

By Mari Yamaguchi,  Yasushi Hosozawa returned on the first day possible after a small section of his hometown, Futaba, reopened in January — 11 years after the nuclear meltdown at the nearby Fukushima Daiichi plant.

It has not been easy.

Futaba, which hosts part of the plant, saw the evacuation of all 7,000 residents because of radiation after the March 11, 2011, quake and subsequent tsunami that left more than 18,000 people dead or missing along Japan’s northeastern coast.

Only seven have permanently returned to live in the town.

“Futaba is my home … I’ve wanted to come back since the disaster happened. It was always in my mind,” Hosozawa, 77, said during an interview with The Associated Press at his house, which is built above a shed filled with handcrafted fishing equipment.

An abandoned ramen shop sits next door, and so many houses and buildings around him have been demolished, the neighborhood looks barren.

A retired plumber, Hosozawa had to relocate three times over the past decade. Returning to Futaba was his dream, and he patiently waited while other towns reopened earlier.

To his disappointment, the water supply was not reconnected the day he returned. He had to fill plastic containers with water from a friend’s house in a nearby town.

The town has no clinics, convenience stores or other commercial services for daily necessities. He has to leave Futaba to get groceries or to see his doctor for his diabetes medicine.

On a typical day, he makes a breakfast of rice, miso soup and natto. In the late morning, he drives about 10 minutes to Namie, a town just north of Futaba, to buy a packed lunch and to shop.

He takes a walk in the afternoon, but “I don’t see a soul except for patrolling police.” He drops by the train station once in a while to chat with town officials. After some evening sake at home, he goes to bed early while listening to old-fashioned Japanese “enka” songs.

He looks forward to the spring fishing season and likes to grow vegetables in his garden.

But Hosozawa wonders if this is the best way to spend his final years. “I won’t live much longer, and if I have three to four more years, I’d rather not be in a Futaba like this,” he says. “Coming back might have been a mistake.”

“Who would want to return to a town without a school or a doctor? I don’t think young people with children will want to come,” he said.

More than 160,000 residents evacuated

When massive amounts of radiation spewed from the plant, more than 160,000 residents evacuated from across Fukushima, including 33,000 who are still unable to return home.

Of the 12 nearby towns that are fully or partially designated as no-go zones, Futaba is the last one to allow some people to return to live. There are still no-go zones in seven towns where intensive decontamination is conducted only in areas set to reopen by 2023.

Many Futaba residents were forced to give up their land for the building of a storage area for radioactive waste, and Fukushima Daiichi’s uncertain outlook during its decades-long cleanup makes town planning difficult.

Futaba Project, which helps revitalize the town through tourism, new businesses and migration from outside Fukushima, sees potential for educational tourism.

“Places with scars of the disaster remain in Futaba … and visitors can see its reality and think about the future,” said Hidehiko Yamasaki, staffer at the nonprofit Futaba Project………………….

March 21, 2022 Posted by | Fukushima continuing, PERSONAL STORIES, social effects | Leave a comment

11 years on, Fukushima morass still poses danger

11 years on, Fukushima morass still poses danger
By KARL WILSON in Sydney | CHINA DAILY 2022-03-14  ”…………………………. Little progress has been made on the most pivotal and hardest work of decommissioning the Fukushima Daiichi power plant-how to remove the nuclear residue from the meltdown. The plant owner, Tokyo Electric Power Co, has said it could take another 30 years to retrieve undamaged fuel, remove resolidified melted fuel debris, disassemble the reactors and dispose of contaminated cooling water.The International Research Institute for Nuclear Decommissioning of Japan estimated that the nuclear waste mix from melted fuel rods and other materials in pressure vessels that melted during the accident could weigh as much as 880 metric tons.

Hiroaki Koide, a retired researcher at Kyoto University, said the Japanese government and Tokyo Electric Power Co’s 30-40 year plan for decommissioning the reactors could not be achieved because it would be “impossible even in 100 years” to remove the large amount of scattered nuclear debris, which would have to be sealed in a “sarcophagus”.

Moreover, 11 years after the disaster, the reactors at Fukushima are still being cooled down, said associate professor Nigel Marks of the physics and astronomy department at Curtin University, Western Australia.

“And this will continue for many years to come. A vast number of large storage tanks have been built on the site, but space is rapidly running out.”

Despite resistance from locals and neighboring countries, the Japanese government is sticking with its decision in April last year to discharge the nuclear contaminated water into the sea starting in spring next year. About 1 million tons of radioactive wastewater, now stored in 1,000 tanks on the site, was used to cool the reactors and contains radioactive cesium, strontium, tritium and other radioactive substances…………….

March 15, 2022 Posted by | Fukushima continuing | Leave a comment

Eleven years on and impact of Fukushima still felt in Japan.Eleven years on and impact of Fukushima still felt in Japan.

Eleven years on and impact of Fukushima still felt in Japan.

The 11 March marks the eleventh anniversary of the terrible accident at the Fukushima nuclear power plant in Japan.  With the world’s attention now focused on the dangers posed to nuclear plants by the conflict in Ukraine, Nuclear Free Local Authorities also want to highlight the dangers posed to coastal nuclear plants by the sea.

Operated by the Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO), the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant was hit by two natural disasters, an earthquake closely followed by a tsunami, on 11 March 2011.  When the earthquake was detected, the reactors automatically shut down, cutting off the electricity supply; this in turn caused diesel electric generators to kick in to provide power to the essential coolant system. However, the 46-feet high tsunami which followed overwhelmed the sea defences, shutting off the generators and flooding reactors 1 to 4. Without coolant, a disaster unfolded with three nuclear meltdowns, three hydrogen explosions and a release of radiation from reactors 1, 2, and 3.

Atmospheric radiation forced government authorities to evacuate 154,000 people from the surrounding area over a 20-mile radius; the accident was classed as a Level 7 incident on the International Nuclear Event Scale for its overall impact on neighbouring communities – the same designation given to the disaster at Chernobyl in 1986.  Radiation was carried in the air and in the oceans for many miles, and fishing in contaminated water remains prohibited to this day.

In a 2018 report, written for the NFLA by renowned independent radiation expert Dr Ian Fairlie, it was revealed that Japanese authorities attributed the deaths of nearly 2,000 people to the effects of the evacuations necessary to avoid high radiation exposures from the Fukushima disaster, including at least 56 from related suicides, and evidenced the significantly increased rates of diseases, mental illness, despair and societal detachment amongst evacuees.

Many Japanese remain displaced from their original communities and are still fearful of the long-term health impact of radiation exposure, with a recent compensation case filed against TEPCO by six young adults who have suffered from thyroid cancer.

There is also the costly and problematic legacy of clean-up, including the millions of tons of seawater, used to cool the irreparable reactors and now contaminated and stored in barrels.  The Japanese government now intends to build an underwater pipe out to sea and discharge the radioactive water there. The NFLA stands in solidarity with the many Japanese who are bitterly opposed to the plans, especially the local fishing community.

NFLA Steering Committee Chair, Councillor David Blackburn, said: “British anti-nuclear activists will I am sure mark this anniversary sombrely. Although we see in Ukraine, nuclear power plants threatened by the conflict, we ignore at our peril the dangers posed to such facilities by our natural environment. 

“As at Fukushima, most British nuclear power plants have also been located on the coast.  Building is now underway at Hinkley Point C, and there are plans to develop further new large and smaller plants at various other sites by the sea, most notably at Sizewell and Bradwell.

The NFLA remains implacably opposed to any new nuclear plants, on grounds of cost and safety, and because of the toxic legacy of decommissioning and waste they bring. However, we must also oppose them because, although they damage our environment, in coming decades these plants might in turn be threatened by the sea.  Nuclear sites are being impacted by coastal erosion and rising sea levels caused by global heating, and military nuclear bases, including those where Trident missile submarines are based, are also under threat.”

“There has been recent excellent research on this subject and the NFLA is inviting all of those interested in the subject, particularly Councillors and anti-nuclear campaigners from coastal communities, to join us for a special webinar in April.”

Councillor Blackburn will be chairing the NFLA webinar ‘Might the sea have them? Climate change and coastal nuclear infrastructure’ on Wednesday 6 April, 6-7pm with Dr Sally Brown from Bournemouth University and NFLA Policy Advisor Pete Roche.

The link to book a place on the webinar can be found at:

March 12, 2022 Posted by | Fukushima continuing | Leave a comment

Legal action on Fukushima nuclear disaster’s impact on health

Fukushima Disaster’s Impact on Health Will Be Challenged in Court
A link between radiation from the Fukushima nuclear disaster and cancer will be the focal point of the civil court case against operator TEPCO.   
By Thisanka Siripala, February 17, 2022  

  Almost 11 years have passed since the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant catastrophe. But even as Fukushima prefecture gets ready to launch a new revitalization slogan – “Making Fukushima’s reconstruction a reality one step at a time” – it is still struggling to overcome the lingering aftereffects of the accident. Earlier this month, a group of six men and women diagnosed with thyroid cancer as children filed a class action case against Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO), seeking $5.4 million in compensation.

Eastern Japan was hit by a massive magnitude 9.1 earthquake and 15-meter tsunami on March 11, 2011. The disaster shut off power and cooling to three reactors at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, triggering the release of radiation for up to six days.

The plaintiffs, who are aged between 17 and 27, are seeking to hold TEPCO responsible for the thyroid cancer they developed. Two have had one side of their thyroid removed and four others have had a complete thyroidectomy and are planning or undergoing radiation therapy. The treatment has forced them to drop out of school or college and give up on their dreams. The plaintiffs argue that their thyroid cancer has created barriers to their education and employment as well as marriage and starting a family.

The Fukushima Daiichi meltdown was the worst nuclear accident since Chernobyl in 1986, which was followed by a spike in cancer cases in the region. In Japan a health survey conducted by the Fukushima prefecture found 266 cases of cancer among the 380,000 people aged under 18 at the time of the accident. The lawyers representing the plaintiffs argue that pediatric thyroid cancer is extremely rare, with an annual incident rate of two cases in one million people

The plaintiffs added that in the past decade they have been forced to stay silent due to social pressure and the risk of public outrage over speaking out about the connection between the Fukushima nuclear accident and their thyroid cancer.

The Federation of Promotion of Zero-Nuclear Power and Renewable Energy, a civic group that includes five former Japanese prime ministers, sent a letter to the EU urging the elimination of nuclear power. In the letter, they stated that many children are suffering from thyroid cancer as a result of the Fukushima nuclear power plant accident.

However, the Japanese government believes there is no causal link between exposure to radiation from the accident and the children developing thyroid cancer. Prime Minister Kishida Fumio said at a House of Representatives Budget Committee meeting that “it is not appropriate to spread false information that children from Fukushima are suffering from health problems.”

At a press conference Takaichi Sanae, chairperson of the ruling LDP’s Policy Research Council refuted the letter sent by the federation. She stressed the government’s position that the cases of childhood thyroid cancer have been assessed by experts who have determined the accident is unlikely to have caused cancer.

Fukushima prefecture’s expert panel say there could be the possibility of “over-diagnosis” due to increased vigilance after the disaster, suggesting that some patients diagnosed with cancer did not need treatment. They say they are continuing to investigate the nature of each diagnosis. The Ministry of Environment also said they will continue to disseminate knowledge based on scientific findings to dispel rumors about the health effects of radiation.

Last week, the Fukushima reconstruction and revitalization council met to discuss the “diverse needs of the prefecture” and a long term response to support evacuees. Governor of Fukushima Uchibori Masao acknowledged that the prefecture is “facing many difficulties including the reconstruction and rehabilitation of evacuated areas and rebuilding the lives of evacuees and victims of the disaster.” There are also plans to establish a new national research and education organization in Fukushima that will devise measures to prevent and dispel rumors fueling discrimination toward evacuees and Fukushima food.

Taiwan recently lifted its blanket food import ban on Fukushima produce introduced in the wake of the disaster but there are 14 countries and regions that still maintain import restrictions. Additionally, Japan’s decision to discharge more than one million tonnes of low-level radioactive water from the crippled Fukushima nuclear power plant into the sea is another issue attracting negative publicity abroad.

February 19, 2022 Posted by | Fukushima continuing, health, Legal | 1 Comment

UN to review Japan’s plan to release Fukushima water into Pacific

UN to review Japan’s plan to release Fukushima water into Pacific

Taskforce will ‘listen to local people’s concerns’, as government plans to release more than 1m tonnes, Guardian,   Justin McCurry in TokyoFri 18 Feb 2022  

A UN nuclear taskforce has promised to prioritise safety as it launches a review of controversial plans by Japan to release more than 1m tonnes of contaminated water into the ocean from the wrecked Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant.

Japan’s government announced last April that it had decided to release the water over several decades into the Pacific Ocean, despite strong opposition from local fishers and neighbouring China and South Korea……………

The Tokyo Electric Power company (Tepco) says its treatment technology can remove all radioactive materials from water except tritium, which is harmless in small amounts. It said the gradual release of the water, diluted with seawater, would not pose a threat to human health or the marine environment. In 2020, however, Greenpeace said the water still contained contaminants beside tritium and would have to be treated again.

The wastewater is being stored in about 1,000 tanks that officials say need to be removed so the plant can be decommissioned, an operation expected to take several decades. The tanks are expected to reach their capacity of 1.37m tonnes this summer.

The liquid includes water used to cool the damaged reactors, as well as rain and groundwater that seeps into the area.

Shaun Burnie, a senior nuclear specialist for Greenpeace East Asia, said he did not believe the IAEA would fully investigate and address safety and environmental concerns in its report.

Noting that the agency had welcomed the discharge option when it was announced last year, Burnie said: “The IAEA is not an independent agency in nuclear affairs – under statute its mission is to promote nuclear power. It has sought to justify radioactive marine pollution as having no impact and safe. But the IAEA is incapable of protecting the environment, human health or human rights from radiation risks – that’s not its job.

“The IAEA taskforce should be investigating the root cause of the contaminated water crisis and exploring the option of long-term storage and the best available processing technology as an alternative to the deliberate contamination of the Pacific.”

The IAEA team, which includes experts from South Korea and China, will report its findings at the end of April.

South Korea, which has yet to lift an import ban on Fukushima seafood introduced in 2013, has said that discharging the water would pose a “grave threat” to the marine environment. Pacific peoples have challenged Japan to prove the water is safe by dumping it in Tokyo.

Local fishers also oppose the water’s release, saying it would undo a decade’s work to rebuild their industry and reassure nervous consumers their seafood is safe………

February 19, 2022 Posted by | Fukushima continuing, oceans | Leave a comment

Robots used to remove Fukushima’s highly radioactive used nuclear fuel, but they’re still problematic.

Plutonium problems won’t go awayBy Chris Edwards, Engineering and Technology, February 15, 2022  ”’………………………………………At a conference organised by the International Federation of Robotics Research on the 10th anniversary of the accident, Toyota Research chief scientist Gill Pratt said the first robots “got there in the overhead luggage of commercial flights”. For all of them it was a baptism of fire.

Narrow staircases and rubble turned into insurmountable obstacles for some. Those that made it further failed after suffering too much radiation damage to key sensors and memories. Finally, some developed by the Chiba Institute of Technology were able to explore the upper floors of Reactor 2. The researchers designed their Quince to work for up to five hours in the presence of a cobalt-60 source that would generate an average dose of 40 grays per hour.

Direct radiation damage was not the only problem for the Fukushima robots. Reactors are protected by thick concrete walls. Wireless signals fade in and out and fibre-optic cabling becomes an impediment in the cluttered space of a damaged building.

To be close enough to the machines, operators had to wear bulky protective clothing that made teleoperation much harder than it would be in other environments. Several robots went into the building only to fail and get stuck, turning into obstacles for other machines.

The risk of these kinds of failure played into the nuclear industry’s long-term resistance to using robots for repair and decommissioning. Plant operators continued to favour mechanical manipulators operated by humans, separated by both protective clothing and thick lead-heavy glass.

Since Fukushima, attitudes to robots in the nuclear industry have changed, but remote control remains the main strategy. Pratt says humans remain generally better at control and are far better at dealing with the unstructured environments within many older and sometimes damaged installations.

The long-term aim of those working on these systems is to provide robots with greater degrees of autonomy over time. For example, surveillance drones will be flown with operator supervision but the machines are acquiring more intelligence to let them avoid obstacles so they need only respond to simpler, high-level commands. This can overcome one of the problems created by intermittent communications. One instance of this approach was shown when UK-based Createc Robotics recently deployed a drone at Chernobyl and Fukushima, choosing in the latter case to survey the partly collapsed turbine hall for a test of its semi-autonomous mapping techniques.

To get more robots into play in the UK, the NDA has focused its procurement more heavily on universities and smaller specialist companies, some of which are adapting technologies from the oil and gas industry.

The NDA expects it will take many years to develop effective robot decommissioning and handling technologies. It has put together a broad roadmap that currently extends to 2040. Radiation susceptibility remains an issue. Visual sensors are highly susceptible to damage by ionising radiation. However, a mixture of smarter control systems and redundancy should make it possible to at least move robots to a safe point for repair should they start to show signs of failure.

Another design strategy being pursued both in the UK and Japan is to build robots as though they are a moving, smart Swiss-army knife: armed with a variety of detachable limbs and subsystems so they can adapt to conditions and possibly even perform some on-the-fly repairs to themselves.

Slowly, the technology is appearing that can handle and at least put the waste out of harm’s way for a long time, though you might wonder why the process has taken decades to get to this stage of development. ……………. (Goes on to laser developments, again, far from a sure thing.)

February 17, 2022 Posted by | - plutonium, Fukushima continuing, Reference | 1 Comment

Latest look inside Fukushima ruins show mounds of melted nuclear fuel

 A remote-controlled robot has captured images of melted nuclear fuel
inside Japan’s wrecked Fukushima nuclear plant. A massive earthquake and
tsunami in 2011 damaged cooling systems at the power plant, causing the
meltdown of three reactor cores. Most of their highly radioactive fuel fell
to the bottom of their containment vessels, making its removal extremely
difficult. A previous attempt to send a small robot with cameras into the
Unit 1 reactor failed, but images captured this week by a ROV-A robot show
broken structures, pipes and mounds of what appears to be melted fuel.

 Metro 16th Feb 2022

February 17, 2022 Posted by | Fukushima continuing, wastes | Leave a comment

Russia, China concerned over Japan’s plans to dump Fukushima radioactive wate

Russia, China concerned over Japan’s plans to dump Fukushima radioactive water — statement,  
BEIJING, February 4. /TASS/. Russia and China are concerned over Japan’s plans to dump contaminated water from the wrecked Fukushima nuclear power plant into the ocean, both countries said in a joint statement on Friday.

“Japan’s plans to release nuclear contaminated water from the destroyed Fukushima nuclear plant into the ocean and the potential environmental impact of such actions are of deep concern to the sides,” the statement reads.

In this regard, Moscow and Beijing emphasized that “the disposal of nuclear contaminated water should be handled with responsibility” and carried out in a proper manner based on arrangements between the Japanese side, neighboring states and international organizations………..

At present, over 1.25 million tonnes of water are being stored in steel tanks on the territory of the accident-hit power plant. The water has reportedly been purified of all harmful radioactive substances except for tritium, as there is no technology to rid the water of it. The Japanese government officially permitted to release a significant amount of Fukushima-1 water into the ocean. The water is expected to be dumped into the ocean gradually in small amounts over 30 years. The International Atomic Energy Agency has already announced that it will control this process on a permanent basis…………….

Tokyo Electric Power (TEPCO) specialists constantly pump away this water and put it into special steel reservoirs located on the plant’s territory. However, more than a thousand of them have already been piled up there. The space for these tanks is running out and the limit may be reached already in the summer of 2022. About 140 tonnes of specially treated water are being pumped into them daily. As the Japanese side says, the liquid will be further treated to reduce the amount of tritium before its release into the ocean.

February 5, 2022 Posted by | Fukushima continuing, Japan | Leave a comment

Doubts grow on water-release schedule at Fukushima plant

Doubts grow on water-release schedule at Fukushima plant  cTHE ASAHI SHIMBUN, January 31, 2022  Shovel loaders digging pits at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant on Jan. 17 were a rare sign of progress in the government’s contentious water-discharge plan at the stricken site.

Under the plan, millions of tons of treated but still contaminated water stored at the plant will be released into the sea over decades starting in spring 2023.

However, opposition to the plan remains fierce among local residents, the fishing industry and even overseas governments.

The pits being dug will temporarily hold radioactive water right before the release. But other preparatory work has already been stalled.

The government plans to create an undersea tunnel through which the treated and diluted radioactive water will be released into the sea about 1 kilometer from the plant.

Drilling work for the tunnel was initially scheduled to start early this year, but it was delayed to June.

Some government officials now doubt that the tunnel can be completed in time for the planned water release.

“It would be impossible to construct the underwater tunnel in less than a year,” one official said.

The government in April last year decided to discharge the contaminated water stored at the plant to move forward the decades-long process of decommissioning of the plant.

The accumulation of highly contaminated water has been a serious problem for the government and plant operator Tokyo Electric Power Co. since the Great East Japan Earthquake and tsunami in March 2011 caused the triple meltdown there.

An average of 150 tons of such water was produced each day last year as rainwater and groundwater keeps flowing into the damaged reactor buildings and mixing with water used to cool the melted nuclear fuel.

The contaminated water is treated by a multi-nuclide removal facility, known as ALPS, and stored in tanks. ALPS, however, cannot remove tritium, a beta-emitting radioactive isotope of hydrogen, and others.

The pits are being built to ensure that tritium levels in the treated water after dilution with a large amount of seawater are low enough to be sent to the planned tunnel for discharge into the sea.

Disposal of the contaminated water has become an urgent matter.

TEPCO said the existing 1,061 tanks at the plant are capable of holding a total of 1.37 million tons of water and would be full by around spring next year.

As of Jan. 20, the plant had reached 94 percent of capacity.

The government fears that continuing to add more storage tanks at the plant could jeopardize the overall decommissioning work.


The government asked the International Atomic Energy Agency to send an inspection team to examine the safety of the treated radioactive water.

A seal of approval from a credible international body could go a long way in easing domestic and international opposition about the water release plan.

The IAEA team of researchers from 11 countries, including China and South Korea, which are opposed to the water release, was expected to visit Japan in December to begin its on-site inspection.

But that trip was scrapped after a new wave of novel coronavirus infections hit the global community.

Government officials are negotiating with the IAEA for a visit in spring by the team. But it remains unclear when the trip will finally materialize.

The government and TEPCO have also made little progress in gaining support from fishermen and the public, despite holding numerous briefings about the water release plan.

Distrust of the government and the utility remain high in Fukushima Prefecture over their series of mishandling of the nuclear disaster.

Fishermen, in particular, are adamantly opposed to the release of the water into areas where they make their living.

“If you insist on the safety of treated water, why don’t you spray it in your garden or dump it in a river flowing into Tokyo Bay?” Toru Takahashi, a fisherman in Soma, asked government officials at a recent briefing session.

The officials brought with them a huge stack of documents to emphasize the safety of the treated water.

But they lowered their eyes and clammed up when Takahashi and other opponents challenged their view.

“I will never ever drop my opposition,” Takahashi said.

Such opposition has created a headache for leaders of the towns hosting the plant.

They are eager to see progress in the decommissioning work, and getting rid of the huge amount of contaminated water at the plant would be a big step toward rebuilding their affected communities.

After the government’s decision to release the water, Shiro Izawa, mayor of Futaba, a town that co-hosts the plant along with Okuma, called on then industry minister Hiroshi Kajiyama to gain support for the water discharge plan from the public and fisheries to advance the decommissioning process.

Futaba, a town with a population of nearly 7,000 before the nuclear disaster, is the only municipality in Fukushima Prefecture that remains entirely under an evacuation order.

In 2015, Futaba grudgingly became the storage site of contaminated soil and debris gathered in the cleanup of municipalities in the prefecture on the pretext of “moving forward rebuilding.”

If the planned water release is further delayed because of opposition from other municipalities, the future of rebuilding Futaba will remain in doubt.

(This story was compiled from reports by Takuro Yamano, Keitaro Fukuchi, Tsuyoshi Kawamura and Mamoru Nagaya.)

February 1, 2022 Posted by | Fukushima continuing, wastes | 1 Comment

The more radiation, the weirder Fukushima’s fir trees became.

SOMETHING IS UP WITH THOSE TREES.   by  ABBY LEE HOOD ( Journalist)   They didn’t grow any larger or suddenly become sentient, but the trees outside the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant are definitely acting weird, according to a new study published earlier this month in the journal Plants.

Researchers from multiple universities in Italy and Brazil studied fir trees growing near the plant, which was destroyed in 2011 following a severe earthquake. The scientists studied whorls — nodes where leaves, branches or other plant parts grow from a central point — and found that fir trees around Fukushima exhibited weird growth patterns around them.

“These conifers showed irregular branching at the main axis whorls,” reads the study, spotted by Newsweek. “The frequency of these anomalies corresponded to the environmental radiation dose rate at the observed sites.”

The more radiation, in other words, the weirder the trees got.

Circle of Life

It’s pretty interesting that trees affected by nuclear radiation grow in funky patterns and are still affected by material in the soil near Fukushima. But even more important is the team’s goal of learning how to better take care of people caught up in similar, future disasters, and to create better emergency management plans.

“Ten years have passed since the FNPP accident, and still the large-scale effects are visible,” the researchers concluded. “Learning from past incidents and implementing this knowledge can make a significant difference in terms of lives and costs in healthcare management.”

We may not always be good stewards of the environment around us, but nature seems happy to provide cautionary tales for humanity to learn from all the same.

More on Fukushima weirdness: Scientists Monitoring Radioactive Snakes Near Fukushima Meltdown Site

January 31, 2022 Posted by | environment, Fukushima continuing, radiation | Leave a comment

Fukushima nuclear radiation has had strange effects on plants and trees

Fukushima Radiation Made Japanese Fir Trees Go Haywire After Nuclear Disaster Newsweek, BY ORLANDO JENKINSON ON 1/27/22 Plants in Fukushima are growing in abnormal ways because of the radiation left over from the 2011 nuclear accident, a study suggests.

In a study published on January 15 in the journal Plants, scientists described changes to the structure of plants and trees in areas close to where a partial meltdown occurred at Fukushima Dai-ichi Nuclear Power Plant (FNPP) after an earthquake caused a tsunami that overwhelmed the plant’s cooling systems.

…………..  To come to their conclusion, researchers examined the whorls—the places on plants where foliage like leaves, petals or needles spread out from a central point.

Instead of branching out in the expected way, the whorls showed irregular growths and even elimination of some shoots in ways not seen on trees that avoided radiation.

What is more, the number of strange mutations like this corresponded with the amount of radiation the trees were hit with. Researchers said that the rate of mutations was “directly proportional to the dose of ionizing radiation to which the conifers had been exposed.”

The authors of the paper said that another abnormality they found was the “deletion” of shoots of Japanese fir and red pine trees. This happened most often after the spring of 2012, and peaked in 2013, though precisely why remains a mystery.

The paper consequently offered further evidence that ionizing radiation like that produced by nuclear accidents can alter the structure of conifer trees.

The authors noted that the abnormalities they uncovered were like those found on Scots Pine trees in the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone, the 18.6-mile radius surrounding the site of the Chernobyl nuclear disaster in the former Soviet Union in 1986.

January 29, 2022 Posted by | environment, Fukushima continuing | Leave a comment

Can reactor fuel debris be safely removed from Fukushima Daiichi?

Can reactor fuel debris be safely removed from Fukushima Daiichi?, Science Daily, :January 25, 2022Source:University of Helsinki

Summary:Decommissioning and clean-up are ongoing at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant (FDNPP); however, many difficult problems remain unaddressed. Chief amongst these problems is the retrieval and management of fuel debris.

Decommissioning and clean-up are ongoing at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant (FDNPP); however, many difficult problems remain unaddressed. Chief amongst these problems is the retrieval and management of fuel debris. Fuel debris is the name given to the solidified mixture of melted nuclear fuel and other materials that now lie at the base of each of the damaged reactors (reactor Units 1 — 3). This material is highly radioactive and it has potential to generate enough neutrons to trigger successive nuclear fission reactions (uranium-235 breaks into two elements after capturing neutrons, emitting enormous amounts of energy, radiation, and more neutrons). Successive fission reactions would present a serious safety and material management risk.

One of the materials in nuclear reactors that can lower the number of neutrons interacting with uranium-235 is boron carbide (B4C). This was used as the control rod material in the FDNPP reactors, and it may now remain within the fuel debris. If so, it may limit fission events within the fuel debris.

Can the fuel debris be safely removed?

On March 11th 2011, the control rods were inserted into the FDNPP reactors to stop the fission reactions immediately after the earthquake, but the later tsunami destroyed the reactor cooling systems. Fuel temperatures soon became high enough (>2000 °C) to cause reactor meltdowns. Currently, the fuel debris material from each reactor is cooled and stable; however, careful assessment of these materials, including not only their inventories of radioactive elements but as well their boron content, a neutron absorber, is needed to ascertain if successive fission reactions and associated neutron flux could occur in the fuel debris during its removal. Many important questions remain: was boron from the control rods lost at high temperature during the meltdown? If so, does enough boron remain in the fuel debris to limit successive fission reactions within this material? These questions must be answered to support safe decommissioning.

Study shows direct evidence of volatilization of control rods during the accident.

Despite the importance of this topic, the state and stability of the FDNPP control rod material has remained unknown until now. However, work just published in the Journal of Hazardous Materials now provides vital evidence that indicates that most of the control rod boron remains in at least two of the damaged FDNPP reactors (Units 2 and/or 3).

The study was an international effort involving scientists from Japan, Finland, France, and the USA…………………..

January 27, 2022 Posted by | Fukushima continuing, wastes | Leave a comment