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The News That Matters about the Nuclear Industry

Japan sending people back to radioactively contaminated area in Fukushima

A girl holds her petition to ask the education ministry to protect children from radioactive contamination at Fukushima prefecture during a rally at the Education Ministry in Tokyo on May 23, 2011. Some 400 civic group members, including 60 parents and children from Fukushima, demanded to review the radiation limit of 3.8 microsieverts per an hour as the education ministry has set a radiation limit to allow children in Fukushima. AFP PHOTO / Yoshikazu TSUNO

Incredible contamination in Namie, Fukushima where people are being forced to live! European News Weekly,  April 22, 2017Mirrored, Source for article https://fukushima311voices.wordpress.com/2017/04/22/incredible-contamination-in-namie-fukushima/

The evacuation orders of the most populated areas of Namie, Fukushima were lifted on March 31st this year.

“Fukuichi area environmental radiation monitoring project” has published airborne radiation measurements map and soil surface density map. The results are simply incredible. This is far much worse than in Radiation Control Zone. Any area becomes designated as such when the total effective dose due to external radiation and that due to radioactive substances in the air is likely to exceed 1.3mSv per quarter – over a period of three months, or when the surface density is over 40,000Bq/m2. In the Radiation Control Zone, it is prohibited to drink, eat or stay overnight. Even adults are not allowed to stay more than 10 hours. To leave the zone, one has to go through a strict screening.

Namie’s radio contamination is far over these figures! And people are told to go back to these areas……..https://europeannewsweekly.wordpress.com/2017/04/22/incredible-contamination-in-namie-fukushima-where-people-are-being-forced-to-live/

April 24, 2017 Posted by | Fukushima continuing | Leave a comment

Six years after Fukushima – women and children still suffer most

The Japanese government is trying to get back to normality after the Fukushima nuclear disaster, but the crisis is far from over for women and children, says Greenpeace. Thousands of mothers have sued the authorities.

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Six years ago, the triple disaster – earthquake, tsunami and meltdown at the Fukushima Daiichi power plant – took the lives of almost 20,000 people and displaced more than 160,000 people from their homes. More than 80,000 people are still living in temporary accommodation.

The disaster had an enormous impact on all members of the affected communities, but to this day it is women and children who “have borne the brunt of human rights violations resulting from it,” according to a report by Greenpeace.

While some injustices faced by women and children were caused by policy failures in the immediate aftermath of the disaster, other women’s and children’s rights violations are a direct result of the current government’s plans to resettle residents to “heavily contaminated ares in Fukushima,” says Greenpeace.

In an effort to get back to normality as quickly as possible, the Japanese government is set to lift evacuation orders at the end of March and allow evacuated residents to return to areas close to the Fukushima power plant.

37864007_401Employees clean an elementary school in Fukushima. It’s scheduled to re-open in April.

 

Greenpeace warned, however, that radiation levels are still dangerously high and called on the government not to “pressure” residents to return to their contaminated homes, under threat of losing financial support. A year after an area is declared safe, the government will stop paying compensation to evacuees. 

In March, Japan will also cut housing support for people who decided to move out although they were not under a government evacuation order.

“Cutting off housing support for self-evacuees threatens more than 10,000 households, potentially forcing many people back to contaminated areas against their will,” says Kendra Ulrich, Global Energy Campaigner with Greenpeace Japan. Ending compensation payments “even though radiation levels far exceed the long-term targets in many areas […] amounts to economic coercion and is a deliberate violation of the law and survivors’ human rights.”

“Atomic divorce” 

The resettlement plans create a dilemma for those who refuse to go back to their former homes but are dependent on financial support, especially single mums. After the disaster, a lot of women separated from or even divorced their husbands, who chose to stay in contaminated regions because of their work, and evacuated with their children.

There are no official numbers on how many families split as a result of the disaster. But the phenomenon is common enough to have a name, “genpatsu rikon” – literally meaning “atomic divorce”.

37871613_401These mothers evacuated with their children from Fukushima prefecture.

 

Mothers are now faced with the choice between losing housing support or moving back to unsafe areas. In order to speed up the return of evacuees, the government decontaminated corridors and islands instead of entire areas, effectivley creating “an invisible, open-air prison for citizens to return to,” says Greenpeace. 

Decontaminated zones often consist of 20 meter strips along roads, around houses and agricultural fields. This poses a health threat as the returnees would be surrounded by contamination.

Mothers are worried about their health and the development of their children. Noriko Kubota, a professor of clinical psychology at Iwaki Meisei University, believes that living in “safe zones” could have a long-lasting negative impact on kids.

“If children need to stay inside and cannot run around outside freely, that would impact their psychological development, more specifically their skills of interacting with each other and controlling their emotions among others,” Kubota told DW.

Mothers sue government

Women are, however, not only silent victims in this disaster. Thousands of mothers have together filed lawsuits against the Japanese government to fight for the continuation of housing support and fair compensation. They also demand accountability for the disaster from the government and Tokyo Electric Power Co. (TEPCO), the company running the Fukushima Daiichi plant.

37868371_401Ms Horie is sueing the government for fair compensation.

 

“I never imagined becoming a plaintiff myself. I’m going to court now for my children and for the next generation,” Ms Horie told Greenpeace. She moved with her children from Fukushima to Kyoto, where she filed a class action suit together with other mums. “Back then, they said on TV that the accident wouldn’t affect our health immediately, but it might affect my kids in the future. That’s why I decided to evacuate.”

Women who left contaminated areas have been “labeled as neurotic or irrational,” says Greenpeace. Their concerns were dismissed both by their partners and the government. The lawsuit is not only about financial compensation but also for moral satisfaction.

“I want to stand in court, knowing that I am right to evacuate my child,” says Ms Sonoda, who moved with her child from Fukushima to England. “We are right.”

http://www.dw.com/en/six-years-after-fukushima-women-and-children-still-suffer-most/a-37871135

April 15, 2017 Posted by | Fukushima continuing | , , | 2 Comments

Yakuza hide IDs to secretly thrive in Tohoku’s disaster zones

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A gang leader says he effectively controls several companies involved in rebuilding projects in the Tohoku region.

A company has been busy dispatching temporary workers for the Herculean task of rebuilding lives in the disaster-hit Tohoku region. But the company’s most important job for survival is to conceal any evidence of its true, sinister nature.

This is a company I established,” said the leader of a gang affiliated with an organized crime syndicate based in western Japan. “I made sure that no signs of any possible association with yakuza organizations were left.”

Although the National Police Agency has tried to prevent gangsters from cashing in on the triple disaster that struck in March 2011, yakuza groups appear to be thriving in the Tohoku region and extending their reach.

Their companies not only dispatch workers and lease heavy machinery, but they are also involved in more traditional services, such as providing prostitutes and dealing drugs, with workers at the stricken Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant and other sites as potential targets.

Police say there is little they can do to shut down the yakuza activities.

The gang leader’s company, which was set up in a city in the Kanto region last December with a start-up cost of 5 million yen ($45,000), appears innocent on the surface.

The president named on company’s registry has no ties with organized crime, and the true leader and members of his family and group are not listed as directors.

The gang leader said he also has effective control over other companies that send workers to contractors involved in an array of projects, including decontaminating areas or dismantling abandoned houses.

I make millions of yen a month, including about 100,000 yen per contractor and siphoning from workers’ daily allowances,” the gang leader proudly said.

Twenty days after the Great East Japan Earthquake and tsunami struck on March 11, 2011, triggering the nuclear disaster, the NPA directed all prefectural police departments to keep gangsters away from the reconstruction projects.

Similar requests were made to the construction industry, Tokyo Electric Power Co., operator of the nuclear plant, government ministries and agencies and local authorities.

But a number of yakuza organizations are now behind the companies involved in the rebuilding projects.

In some cases, they gain control of legitimate but cash-strapped companies by providing funds.

One crime syndicate reportedly advises umbrella groups on “how to set up a company by keeping others from becoming suspicious.”

Police officials dealing with crime syndicates acknowledge that it is “practically impossible” to thoroughly check for possible ties between subcontractors and gangster organizations.

In some cases, a single project is outsourced to more than 10 subcontractors.

All we can do is check whether individuals connected to underground groups are listed in the registration papers,” a police official said.

Police say they can confirm a yakuza connection only after they scrutinize the company directors’ circle of friends and acquaintances and other relevant data.

Although anti-yakuza ordinances are believed to be depleting the finances of mobsters around Japan, the crime syndicates are systematically running operations in the Tohoku region as if it’s business as usual.

One leader of an underground group said he was ordered by its parent organization “not to lag behind others” in exploiting potentially lucrative projects.

After the 1995 Great Hanshin Earthquake, the parent organization began asking all groups under its umbrella to give “regular reports” about rental agents of heavy machinery, dump trucks and other equipment indispensable in rebuilding projects on their turfs.

The move was apparently designed to prepare for the day when they needed to quickly obtain as much machinery as possible.

That day arrived on March 11, 2011.

There is a huge demand for such equipment in a disaster,” a former senior member of a gang group said. “We can lease it at our asking price.”

Crime organizations have also seen a potentially lucrative market in the predominantly male work force at the Fukushima nuclear plant and other reconstruction projects in the Tohoku region.

I came to Fukushima to have fun as an adult,” said an entry, presumably by a female, on a dating site for men. “I am looking for somebody I can meet in Nihonmatsu,” said another, referring to a city in Fukushima Prefecture.

The website, set up by the head of a gangster organization in the Kanto region, targets workers at the stricken nuclear plant and elsewhere.

The gang leader said he takes women who have experience in the sex industry to disaster-stricken areas in his car and stays there for several days.

He sends the women to love hotels or the clients’ vehicles, depending on the customers’ requests. One encounter costs about 30,000 yen, he said, adding that 60 percent goes to the woman while he pockets the remainder.

I am in fierce competition with other underground groups in this line of business,” he said. “But I can earn at least 3 million yen a month.”

Drug deals are also said to be at play in the disaster zone.

I have seen and heard about the use and deals in stimulant drugs at the plant,” recalled the leader of a gang group based in eastern Japan who works at the Fukushima nuclear complex.

He was assigned to the plant just after a hydrogen explosion took place there.

TEPCO and Fukushima prefectural police said they are not aware of any drug use at the plant.

However, a plant worker in his 30s died at a hospital in August 2015 after he complained of sickness on a bus taking him from the nuclear plant.

He turned out to be a gang member, according to police. His urine sample showed possible signs of stimulant drug use, but his cause of death was not determined.

Between 2011 and 2016, police have busted underground groups involved in rebuilding projects in 101 cases.

Fraud accounted for 54 cases. They were primarily gangsters pretending to collect donations for disaster victims or mobsters involved in illicit borrowing.

Twenty-five cases concerned dispatches of workers to assignments that they were not allowed to perform.

In one case, a senior member of a group affiliated with the Sumiyoshi-kai, one of the largest crime syndicates in the nation, was arrested in May 2012 on suspicion of illegally sending workers to the Fukushima plant. Police uncovered that the mobster received about 40 million yen between 2009 and 2011 by sending workers to nuclear plants and thermal power plants across the country.

http://www.asahi.com/ajw/articles/AJ201703230055.html

March 23, 2017 Posted by | Fukushima 2017, Fukushima continuing | , , | Leave a comment

Visualizing nuclear radiation: Team images gamma rays to help decontaminate Fukushima

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A Kyoto University team has developed a new camera to visualize radioactive hotspots

Extraordinary decontamination efforts are underway in areas affected by the 2011 nuclear accidents in Japan. The creation of total radioactivity maps is essential for thorough cleanup, but the most common methods, according to Kyoto University’s Toru Tanimori, do not ‘see’ enough ground-level radiation.

“The best methods we have currently are labor intensive, and to measure surface radiation accurately,” he says, “complex analysis is needed.”

In their latest work published in Scientific Reports, Tanimori and his group explain how gamma-ray imaging spectroscopy is more versatile and robust, resulting in a clearer image.

“We constructed an Electron Tracking Compton Camera (ETCC) to detect nuclear gamma rays quantitatively. Typically this is used to study radiation from space, but we have shown that it can also measure contamination, such as at Fukushima.”

The imaging revealed what Tanimori calls “micro hot spots” around the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant, even in regions that had already been considered decontaminated. In fact, the cleaning in some regions appeared to be far less than what could be measured by other means.

Current methods for measuring gamma rays do not reliably pinpoint the source of the radiation. According to Tanimori, “radiation sources including distant galaxies can disrupt the measurements.”

The key to creating a clear image is taking a color image including the direction and energy of all gamma rays emitted in the vicinity.

“Quantitative imaging produces a surface radioactivity distribution that can be converted to show dosage on the ground,” says Tanimori. “The ETCC makes true images of the gamma rays based on proper geometrical optics.”

This distribution can then be used to relatively easily measure ground dosage levels, showing that most gamma rays scatter and spread in the air, putting decontamination efforts at risk.

“Our ETCC will make it easier to respond to nuclear emergencies,” continues Tanimori. “Using it, we can detect where and how radiation is being released. This will not only help decontamination, but also the eventual dismantling of nuclear reactors.”

https://phys.org/news/2017-03-visualizing-nuclear-team-images-gamma.html#jCp

March 23, 2017 Posted by | Fukushima 2017, Fukushima continuing | , , , , | Leave a comment

Fukushima fishermen fight release of tainted water as tritium standoff continues

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On Feb. 25, against a clear sky, fishing boats bearing colorful banners used to signal a rich haul returned to their home port of Ukedo in the town of Namie, Fukushima Prefecture. Cheers erupted as the boats, which had taken refuge in Minamisoma in the wake of the 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake and the nuclear crisis, made their way home for the first time in six years.

The Soma-Futaba fishing cooperative will soon resume fishing for konago (young lancefish), after the heads of fishing co-ops in the prefecture approved the start of experimental fishing operations 10 to 20 km from the meltdown-hit Fukushima No. 1 power plant, run by Tokyo Electric Power Co. Holdings Inc.

Despite the steady recovery moves, however, local fishermen are not optimistic because their industry still faces “concern” that radioactive fish could tarnish their reputation.

Fukushima No. 1 currently has 950,000 tons of radioactive water in storage that has been desalinated and filtered to remove some of the radioactive elements, but the volume is increasing at a pace of 150,000 tons a year.

Of the 950,000 tons, 750,000 were further treated with the Advanced Liquid Processing System, to remove most of the remaining isotopes. But even ALPS cannot remove tritium, and this has the fishing industry concerned that water tainted with tritium could ultimately be released into the ocean.

The debate over what to do about the tainted water has turned into a standoff. The central government set up a committee in September to discuss disposal and studied five options, including ocean release, underground burial and air release. But the committee could not agree on any of them because all had the potential to damage the reputation of Fukushima’s seafood.

Hiroshige Seko, head of the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry has jurisdiction over the issue but appears reluctant to bring the debate to a rapid conclusion.

We have not decided on the schedule, including when to conclude (the debate),” he said in a recent interview with the Fukushima Minpo.

Tritium is a common byproduct of normal nuclear power plant operations. Its release into the ocean is permitted worldwide as long as the concentration doesn’t exceed certain levels. In Japan, the legal threshold for tritium release is 60,000 becquerels per 1 liter.

Shunichi Tanaka, chairman of the Nuclear Regulation Authority, has said “there is no solution than ocean release” for the tritium generated at Fukushima No. 1, noting that if the concentration is within legal limits, the government should go ahead with the release. Officials at related international institutions have expressed similar views.

But the prefectural association of fishing cooperatives remains opposed, worried that an ocean release could further damage the image of Fukushima’s fish and seafood.

A fisherman from Onahama in the city of Iwaki said, “The move could lead to a loss of trust in the prefecture’s seafood, which the fishermen have worked hard to build.”

On the other hand, if the disposal debate goes unresolved, the amount of tainted water at Fukushima No. 1 will continue to rise and delay the decommissioning of the plant.

Tepco has said it “will decide (on the fate of the water) in a responsible manner by watching the government debate and weighing the opinions of local residents.”

The fishery industry is watching how the central government balances the two jobs of revitalizing the industry and handling tritium-tainted water — and how it can thoroughly explain the decision in ways people both in Japan and abroad can understand, without leaving it entirely up to Tepco.

http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2017/03/19/national/fukushima-fishermen-fight-release-tainted-water-tritium-standoff-continues/#.WM7nfKKmnIU

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March 21, 2017 Posted by | Fukushima 2017, Fukushima continuing | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Japanese companies exploit refugees for Fukushima radioactive clean-up work

Spotlight: Fury sparked in Japan as companies found duping foreign refugees into decontamination work in Fukushima 2017-03-17 TOKYO, March 17 (Xinhua)— “Such scams are a shame to Japan,” said a reporter from Tokyo Metropolitan Television Broadcasting Corp., referring to a recently-exposed scandal involving labor dispatch agencies duping foreign refugees into doing decontamination work in Fukushima.Various local media have exposed recently that some Japanese companies have swindled foreign refugees into doing decontamination work in Fukushima with empty promises that such work might help extend their visas to stay in Japan.

Fifty-year-old Hosein Moni and 42-year-old Hosein Deroaru from Bangladesh were both caught in such a scam, according to a recent report by the Chunichi Shimbun, one of the largest newspapers in Japan.

The two came to Japan in 2013 seeking to be recognized as political refugees. In Japan, foreigners are given temporary permission to stay for up to six months at one application before they are recognized as refugees and given status as residents.

According to government data, the number of refugees actually afforded recognition as refugees in Japan is disproportionately low among developed nations, while the numbers of those applying for refugee status has been rapidly increasing in recent years in Japan.

The government received some 5,000 such applications in 2014, but only 11 were granted refugee status, according to the data.

Moni and Deroaru were told by a so-called labor dispatch agency in Nagoya that they could do decontamination work in exchange for an extension of their visa.

The two, knowing little Japanese and trying to seize every opportunity they could, accepted the job and worked in Fukushima for three months in 2015.

But when they finished their work and went to the local immigration bureau to extend their stay, they were told by officers there that they knew nothing about such a policy.

They later found out that the construction company that had hired them had changed its company name, and its Fukushima branch had closed.

Half of the 20 workers that they had worked with in Fukushima were foreigners, many of whom had been applying for refugee status in Japan, the pair later recalled. Their work mainly involved clearing away contaminated soil with spades, and while they were at work might well have been affected by high levels of radiation. “The radiation detectors we brought with us kept sounding alarms, which was rather scary,” they were quoted as saying.

The incident, after been exposed by local media, also caused a splash on social network sites. Many Japanese netizens felt indignant that such scams were happening in their homeland…….

Most of the foreign workers could hardly speak Japanese. As anti-radiation brochures provided by the plant’s operator, Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings Inc. (TEPCO), were only available in Japanese or English, many of the workers could not understand it, Ishikawa was quoted as saying.

The foreign workers, to some extent, saved the contractors and TEPCO by pushing forward the decommissioning work of the nuclear plant, remarked the report…..http://news.xinhuanet.com/english/2017-03/17/c_136137295.htm

March 20, 2017 Posted by | civil liberties, employment, Fukushima continuing, Japan | 1 Comment

The world’s largest bleeding sore – Fukushima Daiichi

Fukushima Daiichi is still the world’s largest bleeding sore http://rabble.ca/blogs/bloggers/2017-03-17t000000/fukushima-daiichi-still-worlds-largest-bleeding-sorePenney Kome March 17, 2017 Six years after the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami ruined four nuclear reactors at Fukushima Daiichi, urgently needed clean up is still stalled.

March 18, 2017 Posted by | Fukushima continuing | 1 Comment

Olympics being hyped to portray Fukushima nuclear disaster as ‘now OK”

Fukushima to host Tokyo Olympics events to help recovery from nuclear disaster

Some baseball and softball events will be held about 70km from nuclear power plant that suffered triple meltdown in 2011, Guardian,  , 17 Mar 17, Fukushima has been chosen to host baseball and softball matches at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, organisers said on Friday, a move they hope will boost the region’s recovery from the March 2011 nuclear disaster.

Azuma baseball stadium, about 70km north-west of the ruined Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, will host at least one baseball game – possibly the opening match – and one or more softball fixtures, according to Yoshiro Mori, the 2020 organising committee president.

“By hosting Olympic baseball and softball events, Fukushima will have a great platform to show the world the extent of its recovery in the 10 years since the disaster,” Mori said in a statement……

Mori said the “fantastic idea” to hold baseball and softball matches in the affected area had originated in a meeting between the president of the International Olympic Committee (IOC), Thomas Bach, and Japan’s prime minister, Shinzo Abe, in October last year.

 Two months later, however, the IOC initially declined to add Azuma to the main baseball venue in Yokohama.

Riccardo Fraccari, the president of the World Baseball Softball Confederation, welcomed the IOC’s change of heart, describing it as a “great step” that would to “inspire hope and highlight the regeneration in Fukushima”…..

The Fukushima prefectural government has offered to cover the costs of the refurbishment and renovation work needed to bring the 30,000-seat stadium up to Olympic standards, according to organisers……

No evacuation order has ever been in place in the part of Fukushima prefecture where the baseball stadium is located. The Azuma sports park complex served as an evacuation centre for people fleeing radiation caused by the triple meltdown triggered by a magnitude-9 earthquake and tsunami on 11 March 2011.

Nuclear power officials in Japan insist the 40-year effort to decommission Fukushima Daiichi, including the storage of nuclear waste, will not affect people visiting the region to attend Olympics events………https://www.theguardian.com/world/2017/mar/17/fukushima-to-host-tokyo-olympics-events-to-help-recovery-from-nuclear-disaster

March 17, 2017 Posted by | Fukushima continuing, Japan | Leave a comment

1 reactor at Fukushima No. 2 plant, others – not certain

TEPCO to decommission 1 reactor at Fukushima No. 2 plant, mulling fate of 3 others http://mainichi.jp/english/articles/20170317/p2a/00m/0na/024000c

March 17, 2017 Posted by | decommission reactor, Fukushima continuing, Japan | Leave a comment

Six years on, Japan struggles with Fukushima’s nuclear wastes

Struggling With Japan’s Nuclear Waste, Six Years After Disaster https://www.nytimes.com/2017/03/11/world/asia/struggling-with-japans-nuclear-waste-six-years-after-disaster.html?_r=0 by MOTOKO RICH 

The estimated 6,000 cleanup workers at the site put on new protective gear every day. These hazmat suits, face masks, rubber gloves and shoe coverings are thrown out at the end of each shift. The clothing is compressed and stored in 1,000 steel boxes stacked around the site.

To date, more than 64,700 cubic meters of gear has been discarded, the equivalent of 17 million one-gallon containers. Tokyo Electric says it will eventually incinerate all this contaminated clothing to reduce the space needed to store it.

Branches and Logs From 220 Acres of Deforested Land The plant’s grounds were once dotted with trees, and a portion was even designated as a bird sanctuary. But workers have cleared about 220 acres of trees since the meltdown spewed radiation over them.

Now, piles of branches and tree trunks are stacked all over the site. Officials say there are about 80,000 cubic meters of this waste, and all of it will have to be incinerated and stored someday.

200,400 Cubic Meters of Radioactive RubbleExplosions during the meltdown filled the reactors with rubble. Workers and robots are slowly and carefully trying to remove this tangled mass of crushed concrete, pipes, hoses and metal.

Tokyo Electric estimates that more than 200,400 cubic meters of rubble — all of it radioactive — have been removed so far and stored in custom-made steel boxes. That is the equivalent of about 3,000 standard 40-foot shipping containers.

3.5 Billion Gallons of SoilThousands of plastic garbage bags sit in neat rows in the fields and abandoned towns surrounding the Fukushima plant. They contain soil that was scraped from land that was exposed to radiation in the days after the accident.

Japan’s Ministry of the Environment estimates that it has bagged 3.5 billion gallons of soil, and plans to collect much more. It will eventually incinerate some of the soil, but that will only reduce the volume of the radioactive waste, not eliminate it.

The ministry has already begun building a massive, interim storage facility in Fukushima prefecture and negotiating with 2,360 landowners for the thousands of acres needed to complete it. And that is not even a long-term solution: The government says that after 30 years it will need another site — or sites — to store radioactive waste.

1,573 Nuclear Fuel Rods

The ultimate goal of the cleanup is to cool and, if possible, remove the uranium and plutonium fuel that was inside the three reactors at the time of the disaster.

Hundreds of spent fuel rods are in cooling pools inside the reactors, and the company hopes to have cleared away enough rubble to begin removing them next year. The much bigger challenge will be removing the fuel that was in use in the reactor core at the time of the meltdown.

The condition and location of this molten fuel debris are still largely unknown. In one reactor where a robot was sent in January, much of the melted fuel is believed to have burned through the bottom of the inner reactor vessel and burrowed into the thick concrete foundation of the containment structure.

The plan is to completely seal the containment vessels, fill them with water and use robots to find and remove the molten fuel debris. But the rubble, the lethal levels of radiation and the risk of letting radiation escape make this an exceedingly difficult task.

In January, the robot sent into one of the reactors discovered radiation levels high enough to kill a person in less than a minute. Another had to be abandoned last month after debris blocked its path and radiation disabled it.

Tokyo Electric hopes to begin removing fuel debris from the reactor cores in 2021. The entire effort could take decades. Some say the radioactive material may prove impossible to remove safely and have suggested leaving it and entombing Fukushima under a concrete and steel sarcophagus like the one used at Chernobyl.

But the Japanese government and Tokyo Electric say they are committed to removing all the waste and cleaning the site, estimated at a cost of $188.6 billion.

“We want to return it to a safe state,” said Yuichi Okamura, general manager of the company’s nuclear power and plant siting division. “We promised the local people that we would recover the site and make it a safe ground again.”

March 13, 2017 Posted by | Fukushima continuing, Japan, Reference, wastes | Leave a comment

Tepco has paid only 6% of compensation needed by municipalities for Fukushima nuclear disaster

Only 6% of Fukushima nuclear disaster compensation paid by TEPCO, Japan Today, MAR. 11, 2017 TOKYO —

The operator of the crippled nuclear complex in Fukushima Prefecture has only paid 6% of the compensation sought by municipalities in connection with the 2011 nuclear crisis, according to a recent prefectural tally.

The delay in payments to the 12 municipalities, designated by the government as evacuation zones, highlights the continuing challenge to their reconstruction efforts six years after the nuclear disaster, triggered by the massive earthquake and tsunami in northeastern Japan on March 11, 2011.

The tally found that Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings Inc (TEPCO) had by the end of 2016 paid around 2.6 billion yen ($22.5 million) of the 43.3 billion yen demanded by the 12 local governments.

As some municipalities have been forced to shoulder most of the costs for TEPCO, local residents have raised concerns that the situation could delay reconstruction…….

Among the municipalities, the town of Futaba, where the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant is located and all of its residents remain evacuated, has received no compensation despite its demand for around 19.3 billion yen.

The town of Namie, where part of its evacuation order will be lifted at the end of the month, has received around 460 million yen, 4% of the amount demanded……

The delay in paying compensation is fueling concern about the future. “If compensation (for local governments) does not move forward, it will spark concern among residents over the town’s reconstruction efforts,” said Futoshi Hirono, who heads a residents’ association in Kawamata. https://www.japantoday.com/category/national/view/only-6-of-fukushima-nuclear-disaster-compensation-paid-by-tepco

March 13, 2017 Posted by | business and costs, Fukushima continuing, Japan | Leave a comment

No, despite the propaganda, Fukushima nuclear clean-up not under control

Dying robots and failing hope: Fukushima clean-up falters six years after tsunami
Exploration work inside the nuclear plant’s failed reactors has barely begun, with the scale of the task described as ‘almost beyond comprehension’, Guardian,   at Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, 9 Mar 17.
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Barely a fifth of the way into their mission, the engineers monitoring the Scorpion’s progress conceded defeat. With a remote-controlled snip of its cable, the latest robot sent into the bowels of one of Fukushima Daiichi’s damaged reactors was cut loose, its progress stalled by lumps of fuel that overheated when the nuclear plant suffered a triple meltdown six years ago this week.

As the 60cm-long Toshiba robot, equipped with a pair of cameras and sensors to gauge radiation levels was left to its fate last month, the plant’s operator, Tokyo Electric Power (Tepco), attempted to play down the failure of yet another reconnaissance mission to determine the exact location and condition of the melted fuel.

Even though its mission had been aborted, the utility said, “valuable information was obtained which will help us determine the methods to eventually remove fuel debris”.

The Scorpion mishap, two hours into an exploration that was supposed to last 10 hours, underlined the scale and difficulty of decommissioning Fukushima Daiichi – an unprecedented undertaking one expert has described as “almost beyond comprehension”.

Cleaning up the plant, scene of the world’s worst nuclear disaster since Chernobyl after it was struck by a magnitude-9 earthquake and tsunami on the afternoon of 11 March 2011, is expected to take 30 to 40 years, at a cost Japan’s trade and industry ministry recently estimated at 21.5tr yen ($189bn).

 The figure, which includes compensating tens of thousands of evacuees, is nearly double an estimate released three years ago……
Developing robots capable of penetrating the most dangerous parts of Fukushima Daiichi’s reactors – and spending enough time there to obtain crucial data – is proving a near-impossible challenge for Tepco. The Scorpion – so called because of its camera-mounted folding tail – “died” after stalling along a rail beneath the reactor pressure vessel, its path blocked by lumps of fuel and other debris.

The device, along with other robots, may also have been damaged by an unseen enemy: radiation. Before it was abandoned, its dosimeter indicated that radiation levels inside the No 2 containment vessel were at 250 sieverts an hour. In an earlier probe using a remote-controlled camera, radiation at about the same spot was as high as 650 sieverts an hour – enough to kill a human within a minute.

Shunji Uchida, the Fukushima Daiichi plant manager, concedes that Tepco acquired “limited” knowledge about the state of the melted fuel. …

Robotic mishaps aside, exploration work in the two other reactors, where radiation levels are even higher than in reactor No 2, has barely begun. There are plans to send a tiny waterproof robot into reactor No 1 in the next few weeks, but no date has been set for the more seriously damaged reactor No 3………

‘The situation is not under control’

On the surface, much has changed since the Guardian’s first visit to Fukushima Daiichi five years ago. Then, the site was still strewn with tsunami wreckage. Hoses, pipes and building materials covered the ground, as thousands of workers braved high radiation levels to bring a semblance of order to the scene of a nuclear disaster.

Six years later, damaged reactor buildings have been reinforced, and more than 1,300 spent fuel assemblies have been safely removed from a storage pool in reactor No 4. The ground has been covered with a special coating to prevent rainwater from adding to Tepco’s water-management woes.

Workers who once had to change into protective gear before they approached Fukushima Daiichi now wear light clothing and simple surgical masks in most areas of the plant. The 6,000 workers, including thousands of contract staff, can now eat hot meals and take breaks at a “rest house” that opened in 2015.

But further up the hill from the coastline, row upon row of steel tanks are a reminder of the decommissioning effort’s other great nemesis: contaminated water. The tanks now hold about 900,000 tons of water, with the quantity soon expected to reach 1m tons.

Tepco’s once-vaunted underground ice wall, built at a cost of 24.5bn yen, has so far failed to completely prevent groundwater from leaking into the reactor basements and mixing with radioactive coolant water.
The structure, which freezes the soil to a depth of 30 metres, is still allowing 150 tonnes of groundwater to seep into the reactor basements every day, said Yuichi Okamura, a Tepco spokesman. Five sections have been kept open deliberately to prevent water inside the reactor basements from rising and flowing out more rapidly. “We have to close the wall gradually,” Okamura said. “By April we want to keep the influx of groundwater to about 100 tonnes a day, and to eliminate all contaminated water on the site by 2020.”

Critics of the clean-up note that 2020 is the year Tokyo is due to host the Olympics, having been awarded the Games after Abe assured the International Olympic Committee that Fukushima was “under control”.

Mitsuhiko Tanaka, a former Babcock-Hitachi nuclear engineer, accuses Abe and other government officials of playing down the severity of the decommissioning challenge in an attempt to win public support for the restart of nuclear reactors across the country.

“Abe said Fukushima was under control when he went overseas to promote the Tokyo Olympics, but he never said anything like that in Japan,” says Tanaka. “Anyone here could see that the situation was not under control.

“If people of Abe’s stature repeat something often enough, it becomes accepted as the truth.” https://www.theguardian.com/world/2017/mar/09/fukushima-nuclear-cleanup-falters-six-years-after-tsunami

March 11, 2017 Posted by | Fukushima continuing | Leave a comment

on 5th anniversary of Fukushima nuclear catastrophe, the global nuke industry is in decline

Terminal decline? Fukushima anniversary marks nuclear industry’s deepening crisis, Ecologist,  Nuclear Monitor 10th March 2017  With the sixth anniversary of the Fukushima disaster falling on 11 March , nuclear lobbyists are arguing over solutions to the existential crisis facing nuclear power, writes Jim Green. Some favour a multinational consolidation of large conventional reactor designs, while others back technological innovation and ‘small modular reactors’. But in truth, both approaches are doomed to failure

Saturday March 11 marks the sixth anniversary of the triple-disaster in north-east Japan – the earthquake, tsunami and the Fukushima nuclear disaster.

And the news is not good. Scientists are wondering how on earth to stabilise and decontaminate the failed reactors awash with molten nuclear fuel, which are fast turning into graveyards for the radiation-hardened robots sent in to investigate them.

The Japanese government’s estimate of Fukushima compensation and clean-up costs has doubled and doubled again and now stands at ¥21.5 trillion (US$187bn; €177bn).

Indirect costs – such as fuel import costs, and losses to agricultural, fishing and tourism industries – will likely exceed that figure.

Kendra Ulrich from Greenpeace Japan notes in a new report that “for those who were impacted by the worst nuclear disaster in a generation, the crisis is far from over. And it is women and children that have borne the brunt of human rights violations resulting from it, both in the immediate aftermath and as a result of the Japan government’s nuclear resettlement policy.”

Radiation biologist Ian Fairlie summarises the health impacts from the Fukushima disaster: “In sum, the health toll from the Fukushima nuclear disaster is horrendous. At the minimum:

  • Over 160,000 people were evacuated most of them permanently.
  • Many cases of post-trauma stress disorder (PTSD), depression, and anxiety disorders arising from the evacuations.
  • About 12,000 workers exposed to high levels of radiation, some up to 250 mSv
  • An estimated 5,000 fatal cancers from radiation exposures in future.
  • Plus similar (unquantified) numbers of radiogenic strokes, CVS diseases and hereditary diseases.
  • Between 2011 and 2015, about 2,000 deaths from radiation-related evacuations due to ill-health and suicides.
  • An, as yet, unquantified number of thyroid cancers.
  • An increased infant mortality rate in 2012 and a decreased number of live births in December 2011.”

Dr Fairlie’s report was written in August 2015 but it remains accurate. More than half of the 164,000 evacuees from the nuclear disaster remain dislocated. Efforts to restore community life in numerous towns are failing. Local authorities said in January that only 13% of the evacuees in five municipalities in Fukushima Prefecture have returned home after evacuation orders were lifted.

As for Japan’s long-hyped ‘nuclear restart’: just three power reactors are operating in Japan; before the Fukushima disaster, the number topped 50……….http://www.theecologist.org/News/news_analysis/2988749/terminal_decline_fukushima_anniversary_marks_nuclear_industrys_deepening_crisis.html

March 11, 2017 Posted by | business and costs, Fukushima continuing | Leave a comment

Radiation Spikes At Fukushima

MAKHIJANI-Man_in_suit.jpg

Juan Carlos Lentijo of the International Atomic Energy Agency looks at tanks holding contaminated water and the Unit 4 and Unit 3 reactor buildings during a February 2015 tour of the tsunami-stricken Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant.

Almost six years after a tsunami caused a meltdown at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant, the facility’s operator, Tokyo Electric Power (Tepco) faces overwhelming problems to clean up the site. Tepco now reports radiation in reactor 2 that would kill a worker in thirty seconds, and even destroys robots. Arjun Makhijani, the President of the Institute for Energy and Environmental Research and host Steve Curwood discuss the implications of this new report and the challenges of cleanup.

MAKHIJANI--Makhijani

Arjun Makhijani is the President of the Institute for Energy and Environmental Research.

Transcript

CURWOOD: It’s Living on Earth, I’m Steve Curwood.

Six years after an earthquake and resulting tsunami devastated Fukushima, Japan and led to the meltdown of three nuclear power reactors there on the coast, radiation levels have reached a staggering 530 sieverts an hour, many times higher than any previous reading. Tepco, the plant’s operator, claims that radiation is not leaking outside reactor number two, site of these readings, but concedes there’s a hole in the grating beneath the vessel that contains melted radioactive fuel.

Joining us now to explain what it all means is Arjun Makhijani, President of the Institute for Energy and Environmental Research. Welcome back to Living on Earth Arjun.

MAKHIJANI: Thank you, Steve. Glad to be back.

CURWOOD: So, this report from TEPCO seems serious, maybe even ominous. What what exactly is going on?

MAKHIJANI: Well, they are exploring the molten core of the reactor in reactor number two with robots, and the robot called Scorpion went farther into the bottom of the reactor in an area called “the pedestal” on which the reactor kind of sits and measured much higher levels of radiation than before. The highest level was 73 Sieverts per hour before and this time they measured a radiation level more than seven times higher. It doesn’t mean it’s going up. It just was in a new area of the molten core that had not been measured before.

CURWOOD: Still, it sounds to me like it’s problematic, that six years after this meltdown there’s such a high reading.

MAKHIJANI: It is a very high reading; they may encounter even higher readings. The difficulty with this high reading is that the prospect that workers can actually go there, even all suited up, becomes more and more remote. Robots are going to have to do all this work – That was mostly foreseen – but the radiation levels are so high that even robots cannot survive for very long. So now they’re going to have to go back to the drawing board and redesign robots that can survive longer or figure out how to do the work faster, and it’s going to be more costly and more complicated to decommission the site.

MAKHIJANI-Fukushima-Containment

The lid of Unit 4’s Primary Containment Vessel lies close to the reactor building. The reactor was shut down for maintenance at the time of the accident.

CURWOOD: Remind us, Arjun, please, of the human impact of this kind of radiation. What’s toxic to humans?

MAKHIJANI: Right. So, if you get high levels of radiation in a short period of time, four Sieverts is a lethal dose for about half the people within two months. So, in 530 Sieverts per hour would give you a lethal dose in less than 30 seconds.

CURWOOD: Wow.

MAKHIJANI: So, it’s a very, very, very high level of radiation. That’s why people cannot go into the reactor and work there. That’s not the end of the bad news, but that’s quite a bit of it.

CURWOOD: OK. All right, there is more bad news. I’m sitting down. Tell me.

MAKHIJANI: Yes, so the bottom of the reactor under the reactor there is a grating and then under the grating there’s the concrete floor, and what this robot discovered — It was supposed to go around the grating and survey the whole area, but it couldn’t because a piece of the grating was deformed and broken. So, now it appears that some of the molten fuel may have gone through the grating and maybe onto the concrete floor. We don’t know because even robotic surveys are now difficult, and a high radiation turns into heat, so the whole environment around the molten fuel is thermally very hot, and so whether it is going through the concrete, whether it is under the concrete, I don’t know that we have a good grip on that issue.

CURWOOD: So, Arjun, what’s going on with the reactors one and three? There have been published reports that TEPCO, Tokyo Electric Power Company that has these reactors, hasn’t really taken a good look at those reactors. What do you know?

MAKHIJANI: Well, they have to develop the robots, and I think that developing them, by looking at reactor two, and they’re finding these surprises, radiation levels much higher than previously measured. It shouldn’t actually be unanticipated. The big surprise here was that a part of the grating was gone, and so that the molten fuel would possibly have gone through the grating. So, I think similar surprises will await reactors one and three because each meltdown will have a different geometry.

MAKHIJANI-Fukushima_Tanks.jpg

Storing contaminated water in tanks at the Fukushima Daiichi site presents an ongoing risk, says Makhijani.

URWOOD: So, now what about the decay products here? We’re starting with the Uranium family, but we wind up with Cesium and Strontium – Strontium 90. What risk is there of Strontium 90 getting into groundwater there?

MAKHIJANI: Yeah, so the peculiar thing about a nuclear reaction is the initial fuel, Uranium, is not very radioactive. It’s radioactive but you can hold the uranium fuel pellets in your hand without getting a high dose of radiation. After it’s gone through the nuclear reaction – Fission, that’s what generates the energy – the fission products which result from splitting the Uranium atom are much more radioactive than Uranium, and Strontium 90 and Cesium 137 are two of the products that last for quite a long time, half-life 30 years, and are quite toxic. So, Strontium 90 is specially a problem when it comes in to contact with water. It’s mobilized by water. It behaves like calcium, so if it gets into like sea water and get into the fish, the bones of the fish, or human beings, of course, it gets into the bone marrow and bone surface, increases the risk of cancer, leukemia. So it’s a pretty nasty substance, and Strontium 90 has been contacted with water. You know, rainwater goes and contacts the molten fuel. Groundwater may be contacting the molten fuel. So, we have had Strontium 90 contamination and discharges into the ocean. They also collect the water. They’ve got about more than 1,000 tanks of contaminated water stored at the Fukushima site. By my rough estimate may be about 100 million gallons of contaminated water is being stored there.

CURWOOD: What happens if there’s an earthquake?

MAKHIJANI: That’s exactly right. So about a week into the accident, I sent a suggestion to the Japan Atomic Energy Commission that they should buy a supertanker, put the contaminated water into the supertanker, and send it off elsewhere for processing. They do have a site in the north of Japan which was supposed to be for plutonium separation, but it could be used to support the cleanup of Fukushima. But they rejected that proposal more than once and decided to build these tanks instead. They have a decontamination process on-site, and there are a very vast number of plastic bags on the site filled with contaminated soil. Nobody wants the stuff and nobody knows what’s going to happen with it.

CURWOOD: It’s six years after the original meltdown. How much of a disaster is Fukushima today?

MAKHIJANI: Well, Fukushima is possibly the longest running, continuous industrial disaster in history. It has not stopped because the risks are still there. This is going to take decades to decommission the site, and then what is going to happen with all this highly radioactive waste, ‘specially the molten fuel? Nobody knows.

CURWOOD: Arjun Makhijani is President of the Institute for Energy and Environmental Research. Thanks for taking time with us today, Arjun.

MAKHIJANI: So good to be back with you, Steve.

http://www.loe.org/shows/segments.html?programID=17-P13-00007&segmentID=6

March 10, 2017 Posted by | Fukushima continuing | , , , , | Leave a comment

Tepco data show 32,000 workers at Fukushima No. 1 got high radiation dose

, Tepco data show http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2016/03/07/national/science-health/32000-fukushima-no-1-workers-got-high-radiation-dose-tepco-data-show/#.WL-YzNKGPGhJIJI
 MAR 7, 2016
 A total of 32,760 workers at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant had an annual radiation dose exceeding 5 millisieverts as of the end of January, according to an analysis of Tokyo Electric Power Co. data.

A reading of 5 millisieverts is one of the thresholds of whether nuclear plant workers suffering from leukemia can be eligible for compensation benefits for work-related injuries and illnesses.

Of those workers, 174 had a cumulative radiation dose of more than 100 millisieverts, a level considered to raise the risk of dying after developing cancer by 0.5 percent. Most of the exposure appears to have stemmed from work just after the start of the crisis on March 11, 2011.

The highest reading was 678.8 millisieverts.

Overall, a total of 46,490 workers were exposed to radiation, with the average at 12.7 millisieverts.

The number of workers with an annual dose of over 5 millisieverts increased 34 percent from fiscal 2013 to 6,600 in fiscal 2014, when workloads grew to address the increase in radiation-tainted water at the plant. The number was at 4,223 in the first 10 months of fiscal 2015, which ends this month, on track to mark an annual decline.

A labor standards supervision office in Fukushima Prefecture last October accepted a claim for workers compensation by a man who developed leukemia after working at the plant, the first recognition of cancer linked to work after the meltdowns as a work-related illness. Similar compensation claims have been rejected in three cases so far, according to the labor ministry.

The average radiation dose was higher among Tepco workers at the plant than among workers from subcontractors in fiscal 2010 and 2011. Starting in fiscal 2012, the reading was higher among subcontractor workers than among Tepco workers.

The average dose for subcontractor workers was 1.7 times the level of Tepco workers in fiscal 2013, 2.3 times in fiscal 2014 and 2.5 times in fiscal 2015 as of the end of January.

A separate analysis of data from the Nuclear Regulation Authority showed that the average radiation dose of workers at 15 nuclear power plants across the country, excluding the Fukushima No. 1 and No. 2 plants, fell to 0.22 millisievert in fiscal 2014, when none of the plants was in operation, down 78 percent from 0.99 millisievert in fiscal 2010.

March 8, 2017 Posted by | employment, Fukushima continuing, Japan | Leave a comment