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Fukushima: Japan attempts to safely remove nuclear fuel from crippled reactors

DW 22.09.2022, Julian Ryall (Tokyo)

More than a decade after the second-worst nuclear disaster in history, engineers want to construct a huge water-filled tank around one of the damaged reactors and carry out underwater dismantling work.

Nuclear experts pondering the safest way to decommission the three crippled reactors at the Fukushima Daiichi atomic energy plant have devised a new plan to recover highly radioactive debris at the site, with even anti-nuclear campaigners giving the proposal their qualified support.  

They warn, however, that the situation at the plant — on the northeast coast of Japan— remains precarious more than a decade since three of the six reactors suffered meltdowns after an offshore earthquake of magnitude 9 triggered a series of powerful tsunamis.  

In their latest annual strategy report on progress at the plant, experts at the Nuclear Damage Compensation and Decommissioning Facilitation Office (NDF) have proposed the construction and filling with water of a massive concrete tank to completely enclose one of the reactor buildings. ………………………………………. more https://www.dw.com/en/fukushima-japan-attempts-to-safely-remove-nuclear-fuel-from-crippled-reactors/a-63200659

September 22, 2022 Posted by | Fukushima continuing | Leave a comment

Fukushima Plants Showing ‘Unusual Growing Patterns’

NewsWeek, BY ROBYN WHITE ON 8/31/22 , Japan’s Fukushima, the site of the world’s second-worst nuclear disaster, is showing “unusual growing patterns” among vegetation in the area because of the radiation contamination.

…………………… Tim Mousseau, a professor of biological sciences at the University of South Carolina and a radiation expert, told Newsweek that a “vast region near the power plant” is still “significantly contaminated” but that levels are much lower than they used to be. However, the effects of radiation continue to be seen in the plants in the area, he said.

“There have been a few studies of the plants showing effects of the radiation. For example, it has been shown that Japanese fir trees show unusual growth patterns similar to that observed for pine trees in Chernobyl,” Mousseau said. “Such effects are still open for study, as they are preserved in the growth form of the plant/tree as long as it is still living.”

He continued, “Many areas are still contaminated above levels that most would consider safe for people to live, although most of the region is now relatively safe for short visits.”

Carmel Mothersill, a radiobiologist and the Canada research chair in environmental radiobiology, said that remediation efforts have also affected the area’s vegetation.

………. Mousseau also said that the ongoing effects of the contamination and “other human disturbances” remain largely unknown, as “research in the region has dropped off dramatically in the past years because of COVID and Japan’s restrictions on visitors from outside the country.”

“Assuming Japan removes travel restrictions, more research will be conducted,” he said

While some areas are opening back up to the public, most of the Fukushima area remains evacuated, Mothersill said……..  https://www.newsweek.com/fukushima-plants-unusal-gorwing-patterns-1738525

August 31, 2022 Posted by | Fukushima continuing | Leave a comment

Robot issue delays fuel removal from Fukushima nuclear plant

The operator of the wrecked Fukushima nuclear power plant says it is postponing the start of the removal of highly radioactive melted fuel from its damaged reactors because of delays in the development of a remote-controlled robotic arm

abc news, By, MARI YAMAGUCHI Associated Press, August 25, 2022, Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings had originally planned to begin removing melted fuel from the Unit 2 reactor at the Fukushima Daiichi plant last year, 10 years after the disaster triggered by a massive earthquake and tsunami on March 11, 2011.

That plan was postponed until later this year, and now will be delayed further until about autumn next year because of additional work needed to improve the performance of the robotic arm, TEPCO said.

The giant arm, jointly developed by Veolia Nuclear Solutions of Britain and Japan‘s Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, has been transported to Japan and is being adjusted at a testing facility south of the Fukushima plant…………………… https://abcnews.go.com/Technology/wireStory/robot-issue-delays-fuel-removal-fukushima-nuclear-plant-88839281

August 26, 2022 Posted by | Fukushima continuing | Leave a comment

Tepco delays removing Fukushima nuclear debris

TOKYO, Aug 24 (Reuters) – Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings (Tepco) (9501.T) is considering abandoning a plan to start removing nuclear debris from a reactor in its wrecked Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant by the end of the year, Kyodo reported on Wednesday.

The plan will be postponed for about a year due to a delay in the development of a robot arm that will be used to remove the debris, the report said citing unnamed sources………………….. more https://www.reuters.com/business/environment/tepco-considering-delay-removing-fukushima-nuclear-debris-kyodo-2022-08-24/

August 23, 2022 Posted by | Fukushima continuing | Leave a comment

The shadows grow longer in Fukushima

By WANG XU in Tokyo | China Daily, 15 Aug 22,

As Tokyo tries to woo residents back, plans to dump toxic water pose more perils

For Setsuko Matsumoto, 71, there will be no return to her hometown in Fukushima prefecture-that is despite the determined efforts of the Japanese government to win her over to the idea that it is safe to do so. And that goes for the many like Matsumoto who cannot countenance how they can once again live in neighborhoods that were devastated by the earthquake and tsunami more than a decade ago.

Having run a hair salon for almost 30 years in Futaba, a town 4 kilometers from the crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, Matsumoto believes the place has no future. The government would have her believe otherwise. On Aug 30, it will lift the last of the restrictions imposed that have prevented former residents from living in the region permanently. It claims radiation levels arising from the nuclear accident in March 2011 are now low enough to be deemed safe.

“I don’t think that the town will be able to go on, even with the return of some elderly residents,” says Matsumoto.

Although 11 years have passed since the Fukushima plant’s cooling systems were severely damaged in the disaster, triggering the meltdown of three reactors and the release of large amounts of radiation, Matsumoto has her reasons for not moving back.

“Residing in Futaba is not an option for me,” she says. “The lack of shopping and medical care opportunities can’t be solved anytime soon and I don’t have a reason to relocate to a place with a worse living environment.”

Over the years, there have been sustained efforts-both from the top down and the bottom up-aimed at driving Fukushima’s reconstruction and revitalization. Seemingly limitless funds have been spent on that process, from the national government all the way down to township levels. These efforts are all bound up in the Japanese government’s economic and political ambitions to show the world that it has succeeded in managing the nuclear crisis.

Yet that strong desire to change Fukushima into something resembling its old form, or even something better, has encountered resistance from the likes of Matsumoto, who have lived with the effects of trauma for more than a decade.

As a result of the disaster, some 160,000 people like Matsumoto were evacuated from the Fukushima region. What the authorities had to contend with was a level-7 nuclear accident, the highest on the international scale of nuclear and radiological events. By the end of 2021, some 40,000 of them were still unable to return to their homes. But, with Futaba, the last of dozens of places ending their status as no-go zones, the government still faces a challenge in regaining the people’s trust.

In a survey conducted by Japan’s Reconstruction Agency and others, only 11.3 percent of respondents said they wanted to return to Futaba while more than 60 percent said they already decided not to return.

The town aims to attract 2,000 people back in the next five years but in a trial for overnight stays, beginning in January, has seen only 15 former residents have applied.

In a report in 2020, Miranda Schreurs, a professor and chair of environmental and climate policy at the Technical University of Munich, Germany, argues that the situation in Fukushima remains precarious because problems like the removal of radioactively contaminated waste, and issues such as incineration, still need to be addressed.

“It will still take many years to win back confidence and trust in the government’s messages that the region is safe,” Schreurs says in the report, adding that intergenerational equity is also an issue. The next generations will be left with the burden of completing the highly dangerous and complex decommissioning work at the Fukushima plant, she said.

The plans for Fukushima’s future also bump up against the government’s divisive decision to proceed with a plan to discharge the radioactive water from the plant into the Pacific Ocean. The water has been used to cool the highly radioactive, damaged reactor cores and would be sufficient to fill about 500 Olympic-sized swimming pools. Under Tokyo’s schedule, the ocean disposal will begin next spring.

Those plans present another blow to those former Fukushima residents who may be wanting to return to their old communities……………………………………………

In Japan, the condemnations of official policy, along with petitions calling for the reversal of the decision, have been constant since the ocean discharge plan was confirmed by the government in April last year.

Among the environmental groups denouncing the plan is FoE Japan. In a statement, it says the Japanese government and TEPCO had much earlier made written commitments on the matter, that “without the understanding of relevant personnel, no actions will be taken”. However, the government still decided to go ahead with the ocean discharge without seeking advice from the parties involved, the statement says.

Civil society groups in the most-affected prefectures submitted a petition to Japan’s Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry and TEPCO in March. Reaffirming their opposition to the release of the contaminated water, they demanded that the government pursue other alternatives. Consumer groups and fisheries associations are at the forefront of this action.

The petition has collected some 180,000 signatures from residents in prefectures such as Fukushima, Iwate and Miyagi.

Under the government’s plan, the authorities will gradually discharge the still-contaminated water from next spring. Japan insists there are no alternatives to the ocean discharge. It says that by the end of 2022 there will be no space left at the site for storage. Moreover, after a treatment process known as the Advanced Liquid Processing System, or ALPS, the radioactive tritium-a radioactive isotope of hydrogen-will be the only radionuclide in the water and that it is harmless.

However, many environmental scientists and environmentalists are scathing in their condemnation of Japan’s narrative, saying it is misinformation aimed at creating a false impression that the consequences of the 2011 nuclear disaster are short-lived.

A report in 2020 by the environmental group Greenpeace says the narrative has been constructed to serve financial and political reasons.

“Long after the Yoshihide Suga (and Shinzo Abe) administrations are historical footnotes, the negative consequences of the Fukushima Daiichi meltdown will remain a present and constant threat most immediately to the people and environment of Fukushima, but also to the rest of Japan and internationally,” says the report, referring to Suga as the then prime minister whose government approved the disposal plan a year ago.

According to the Greenpeace report, there is no technical, engineering or legal barrier to securing storage space for ALPS-treated contaminated water. It is only a matter of political will and the decision is based on expediency-the cheapest option is ocean discharge.

“The discharge of wastewater from Fukushima is an act of contaminating the Pacific Ocean as well as the sea area of South Korea,” says Ahn Jae-hun, energy and climate change director at the Korea Federation for Environment Movement, an advocacy group in Seoul.

“Many people in South Korea believe that Japan’s discharge of the Fukushima wastewater is a wrong policy that threatens the safety of both the sea and humans.”

Shaun Burnie, a senior nuclear specialist with Greenpeace Germany, says the Fukushima contaminated water issue comes under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea as it is a form of pollution to international waters.

There are strong grounds for individual countries to file a legal challenge against Japan’s plan, Burnie says.  http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/a/202208/15/WS62f99f00a310fd2b29e7224e_1.html

August 14, 2022 Posted by | Fukushima continuing, Reference | Leave a comment

Construction begins at Fukushima plant for water release

The construction of facilities needed for a planned release of treated radioactive wastewater into the sea next year from the damaged Fukushima nuclear power plant has begun despite opposition from the local fishing community

abc news, by MARI YAMAGUCHI Associated Press, August 04, 2022,  TOKYO — The construction of facilities needed for a planned release of treated radioactive wastewater into the sea next year from the damaged Fukushima nuclear power plant began Thursday despite opposition from the local fishing community.

Plant workers started construction of a pipeline to transport the wastewater from hillside storage tanks to a coastal facility before its planned release next year, according to the plant operator, Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings.

The digging of an undersea tunnel was also to begin later Thursday.

Construction at the Fukushima Daiichi plant follows the Nuclear Regulation Authority’s formal approval last month of a detailed wastewater discharge plan that TEPCO submitted in December.

The government announced last year a decision to release the wastewater as a necessary step for the plant’s ongoing decommissioning…………………..

Local fishing communities and neighboring countries have raised concerns about potential health hazards from the radioactive wastewater and the reputation damage to local produce, and oppose the release.

Scientists say the impact of long-term, low-dose exposure to not only tritium but also other isotopes on the environment and humans are still unknown and that a release is premature.

The contaminated water is being stored in about 1,000 tanks that require much space in the plant complex. Officials say they 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 in autumn of 2023…………………….

TEPCO and the government have obtained approval from the heads of the plant’s host towns, Futaba and Okuma, for the construction, but local residents and the fishing community remain opposed and could still delay the process. The current plan calls for a gradual release of treated water to begin next spring in a process that will take decades………………..

more https://abcnews.go.com/International/wireStory/construction-begins-fukushima-plant-water-release-87905471

August 1, 2022 Posted by | Fukushima continuing | Leave a comment

High anxiety as Japan takes another step toward releasing wastewater from crippled Fukushima nuclear plant into sea.

China, South Korea, Taiwan, Hong Kong and Macau) still have import bans in place.

concern about whether the discharge of enormous amounts of wastewater could set a bad precedent for dealing with future nuclear accidents.

CBS News BY LUCY CRAFT, 25 July 22, Tokyo The fishing industry around Japan’s Fukushima coast expressed disappointment and resignation over the weekend as long-expected plans to start releasing treated wastewater into the ocean from the crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant moved one step closer to reality. The drastic measure has been adopted as the only practical way out of a dilemma that’s plagued the damaged plant for more than a decade……………………..

The unprecedented, controversial disposal operation is likely to take decades.

Since the massive 2011 earthquake and tsunami triggered meltdowns in three of the plant’s reactors, operator Tepco has struggled to manage the vast amount of contaminated water — a combination of reactor cooling water, rainwater and groundwater, all irradiated as it flows through the highly-radioactive melted reactor cores – accumulating at the facility.

As a stopgap, the grounds surrounding the damaged reactors have been converted into a giant tank farm, with more than 1,000 storage vessels holding 1,310,000 tons of wastewater.

Tepco has long warned that it will run out of storage space as soon as spring 2023, and that the structures are hampering the technologically challenging work of decommissioning the plant. The temporary storage solution is also highly vulnerable to any future natural disasters……………

Before construction of the undersea tunnel can even begin, however, Tepco’s proposal must win backing from the regional government in Fukushima Prefecture and the two affected towns of Okuma and Futaba. A Fukushima fish processing company representative told the Asahi newspaper, “to be honest, even if we oppose this, I don’t feel like we have any chance of overturning the decision.”

After years of painstaking efforts to convince the Japanese public and the rest of the world that their seafood is safe, the local fishing industry fears the ocean release will tarnish their brand anew. Tokyo has promised to buy catches if the industry suffers reputational damage.

Of the 55 countries and regions that imposed restrictions on imported Japanese food after the Fukushima Daiichi catastrophe — including the U.S. — five (China, South Korea, Taiwan, Hong Kong and Macau) still have import bans in place.

Regulators solicited public comment and said they had received more than 1,200 responses, including people voicing concern over whether the undersea tunnel would be earthquake-safe, and what was being done to protect workers.

Tokyo has said levels of tritium — the one isotope that can’t be filtered out — will be diluted to below 1/40th of the allowable level for discharge in Japan, and 1/7th the WHO ceiling for drinking water.

Still, some experts have called for greater transparency, fearing unintended consequences of the operation. There is also concern about whether the discharge of enormous amounts of wastewater could set a bad precedent for dealing with future nuclear accidents.  https://www.cbsnews.com/news/japan-fukushima-daiichi-nuclear-plant-wastewater-release-into-sea-approved/

July 25, 2022 Posted by | business and costs, Fukushima continuing, oceans | Leave a comment

Stiff resistance by fishing unions to Japan’s move to dump Fukushima nuclear wastewater into the ocean.

 The impact of Japan’s 2011 earthquake and tsunami still ripples through
the country as the nation continues the decommissioning process of the
wrecked Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant. In addition to mass
evacuations of the surrounding area, the plant’s meltdown also uncovered
failings by its operator to take proper precautions, resulting in hefty
fines for four former executives.

The latest move involving the failed
plant has brought fresh criticism as Japan’s nuclear regulators approved
a plan to release water from the plant into the ocean, the government said
on Friday. The water, used to cool reactors in the aftermath of the 2011
nuclear disaster, is being stored in huge tanks in the plant, and amounted
to more than 1.3 million tonnes by July. The regulators deemed it safe to
release the water, which will still contain traces of tritium after
treatment, the foreign ministry said in a statement.

Plant operator Tokyo
Electric Power Company (Tepco) would face additional inspections by
regulators, it added. Tepco plans to filter the contaminated water to
remove harmful isotopes apart from tritium, which is hard to remove. Then
it will be diluted and released to free up plant space and allow
decommissioning to continue. The plan has encountered stiff resistance from
fishing unions in the region, which fear its impact on their livelihoods.
Neighbours China, South Korea and Taiwan have also voiced concern.

 Irish Independent 24th July 2022

https://www.independent.ie/world-news/fukushima-plants-noxious-water-to-be-pumped-into-the-sea-41862920.html

July 22, 2022 Posted by | Fukushima continuing, opposition to nuclear, wastes | Leave a comment

Japan’s nuclear regulator formally approves release of Fukushima wastewater to the Pacific

Japan’s nuclear regulator on Friday formally approved a plan to release
more than a million tonnes of treated water from the crippled Fukushima
nuclear power plant into the ocean.

The plan has already been adopted by
the government and endorsed by the International Atomic Energy Agency
(IAEA), but plant operator TEPCO must still win over local communities
before going ahead. The country’s Nuclear Regulation Authority approved
TEPCO’s plan, according to a foreign ministry statement, which said the
government would ensure the safety of the treated water as well as the
“reliability and transparency of its handling”.

 Daily Mail 22nd July 2022

https://www.dailymail.co.uk/wires/afp/article-11038705/Japan-regulator-OKs-release-treated-Fukushima-water.html

July 22, 2022 Posted by | Fukushima continuing | Leave a comment

Decadal trends in 137Cs concentrations in the bark and wood of trees contaminated by the Fukushima nuclear accident.

Published: 04 July 2022

Abstract

Understanding the actual situation of radiocesium (137Cs) contamination of trees caused by the Fukushima nuclear accident is essential for predicting the future contamination of wood. Particularly important is determining whether the 137Cs dynamics within forests and trees have reached apparent steady state. We conducted a monitoring survey of four major tree species (Japanese cedar, Japanese cypress, konara oak, and Japanese red pine) at multiple sites. Using a dynamic linear model, we analyzed the temporal trends in 137Cs activity concentrations in the bark (whole), outer bark, inner bark, wood (whole), sapwood, and heartwood during the 2011–2020 period. The activity concentrations were decay-corrected to September 1, 2020, to exclude the decrease due to the radioactive decay. The 137Cs concentrations in the whole and outer bark samples showed an exponential decrease in most plots but a flat trend in one plot, where 137Cs root uptake is considered to be high. The 137Cs concentration ratio (CR) of inner bark/sapwood showed a flat trend but the CR of heartwood/sapwood increased in many plots, indicating that the 137Cs dynamics reached apparent steady state within one year in the biologically active parts (inner bark and sapwood) and after several to more than 10 years in the inactive part (heartwood). The 137Cs concentration in the whole wood showed an increasing trend in six plots. In four of these plots, the increasing trend shifted to a flat or decreasing trend. Overall, the results show that the 137Cs dynamics within forests and trees have reached apparent steady state in many plots, although the amount of 137Cs root uptake in some plots is possibly still increasing 10 years after the accident. Clarifying the mechanisms and key factors determining the amount of 137Cs root uptake will be crucial for predicting wood contamination.

Introduction

After the Fukushima Dai-ichi Nuclear Power Plant (FDNPP) accident in March of 2011, a wide area of forests in eastern Japan was contaminated with radionuclides. In particular, radiocesium (137Cs) has the potential to threaten the forestry and wood production in the contaminated area for many decades because it was released in large amounts (10 PBq)1 and has a relatively long half-life (30 years). Radiocesium levels for some wood uses are strictly regulated in Japan (e.g., 40 Bq kg−1 for firewood2 and 50 Bq kg−1 for mushroom bed logs3), meaning that multipurpose uses of wood from even moderately contaminated areas are restricted. Although a guidance level of radiocesium in construction wood has not been declared in Japan, the permissible levels in some European countries (370–740 Bq kg−1)4,5,6 suggest that logging should be precautionary within several tens of kilometers from the FDNPP, where the 137Cs activity concentration in wood potentially exceeds 1,000 Bq kg−1 [refs. 7,8]. To determine whether logging should proceed, the long-term variation in wood 137Cs concentration must be predicted as accurately as possible. Many simulation models successfully reproduce the temporal variations in the early phase after the FDNPP accident, but produce large uncertainties in long-term predictions9. To understand the 137Cs dynamics in forests and trees and hence refine the prediction models, it is essential to provide and analyze the observational data of 137Cs activity concentrations in tree stem parts.

Accident-derived 137Cs causes two types of tree contamination: direct contamination by 137Cs fallout shortly after the accident, and indirect contamination caused by surface uptake from directly contaminated foliage/bark10,11 and root uptake from contaminated soil12. The 137Cs concentration in bark that pre-exists the accident was affected by both 137Cs drop/wash off from bark surfaces and 137Cs uptake because the bark consists of a directly contaminated outer bark (rhytidome) and an indirectly contaminated inner bark (phloem). Given that the 137Cs content was 10 times higher in the outer bark than in the inner bark in 201213 and the 137Cs concentration in the whole bark decreased during the 2011–2016 period at many study sites8, the temporal variation in the whole bark 137Cs concentration during the early post-accident phase must be mainly contributed by drop/wash off of 137Cs on the outer bark surface.

In contrast, stem wood (xylem) covered by bark was contaminated only indirectly. Although 137Cs distribution in sapwood (outer part of stem wood; containing living cells) and heartwood (inner part of stem wood; containing no living cells) is non-uniform and species-specific8,13,14,15, the 137Cs concentration in whole wood depends on the amount of 137Cs uptake. Because the dissolvable 137Cs on the foliar/bark surface decreased significantly within 201116, the main route of 137Cs uptake since 2012 is likely root uptake rather than surface uptake. A monitoring survey during 2011–2016 showed that the temporal trend in the whole wood 137Cs concentration can be increasing, decreasing, or flat8, suggesting that 137Cs root uptake widely differs among sites and species.

Meanwhile, many simulation models have predicted an initial increase in the whole wood 137Cs concentration after the accident, followed by a gradual decline9. The initial increase is attributable to the increase in soil 137Cs inventory, and the following decline is mainly attributed to radioactive decay, dilution by wood biomass increment, and immobilization in the soil. Therefore, the trend shift from increasing to decreasing is a good indicator that shows the 137Cs dynamics within the forest have reached apparent steady state, which is characterized by slower changes in 137Cs concentration, bioavailability, and partitioning in the forest12,17,18. However, the timing of the trend shift predicted by the models have large uncertainty, varying from several years to a few decades from the accident9. Moreover, the trend shift has not been confirmed by observational data after the FDNPP accident. Although our monitoring survey cannot easily identify the key driving factors of the temporal trends, it can directly discern the trend shift from increasing to decreasing, and the timeframe of the increasing trend. The confirmation of the trend shift will accelerate the understanding of key factors of 137Cs root uptake, because important parameters such as transfer factor and CR are originally defined for a steady state condition18.

The present study aims to clarify the temporal trends of 137Cs concentrations in bark and wood of four major tree species (Japanese cedar, Japanese cypress, konara oak, and Japanese red pine) at multiple sites during the 10 years following the FDNPP accident. Detecting a trend shift from increasing to decreasing in the wood 137Cs concentration was especially important to infer whether the 137Cs dynamics within the forest have reached apparent steady state. We update Ohashi et al.8, who analyzed the monotonous increasing or decreasing trends during 2011–2016, with observational data of 2017–2020 and a more flexible time-series analysis using a dynamic linear model (DLM). The DLM is suitable for analyzing data including observational errors and autocorrelation, and has the advantage of being applicable to time-series data with missing years. For a more detailed understanding of bark contamination and the 137Cs dynamics in tree stems, we also newly provide data on the 137Cs concentrations in the outer and inner barks. The temporal trends in the 137Cs CRs of outer bark/inner bark, heartwood/sapwood, and inner bark/sapwood were analyzed to confirm whether the 137Cs dynamics within the trees have reached apparent steady state.

Materials and methods

Monitoring sites and species

The monitoring survey was conducted at five sites in Fukushima Prefecture (sites 1–4 and A1) and at one site in Ibaraki Prefecture (site 5), Japan (Fig. 1). Sites 1, 2, and A1 are located in Kawauchi Village, site 3 in Otama Village, site 4 in Tadami Town, and site 5 in Ishioka City. Monitoring at sites 1–5 was started in 2011 or 2012, and site A1 was additionally monitored since 2017. The tree species, age, mean diameter at breast height, initial deposition density of 137Cs, and sampling year of each sample at each site are listed in Table 1. The dominant tree species in the contaminated area, namely, Japanese cedar (Cryptomeria japonica [L.f.] D.Don), Japanese cypress (Chamaecyparis obtusa [Siebold et Zucc.] Endl.), konara oak (Quercus serrata Murray), and Japanese red pine (Pinus densiflora Siebold et Zucc.) were selected for monitoring. Japanese chestnut (Castanea crenata Siebold et Zucc.) was supplementally added in 2017. The cedar, cypress, and pine are evergreen coniferous species, and the oak and chestnut are deciduous broad-leaved species. Sites 1 and 3 each have three plots, and each plot contains a different monitoring species. Site A1 has one plot containing two different monitoring species, and the remaining sites each have one plot with one monitoring species, giving ten plots in total.

Locations of the monitoring sites and initial deposition densities of 137Cs (decay-corrected to July 2, 2011) following the Fukushima nuclear accident in Fukushima and Ibaraki Prefectures. Open circles indicate the monitoring sites and the cross mark indicates the Fukushima Dai-ichi Nuclear Power Plant. Data on the deposition density were provided by MEXT19,20 and refined by Kato et al.21. The map was created using R (version 4.1.0)22 with ggplot2 (version 3.3.5)23 and sf (version 1.0–0)24 packages.

Sample collection and preparation

Bulk sampling of bark and wood disks was conducted by felling three trees per year at all sites during 2011–20168,25 and at sites 3–5 and A1 during 2017–2020. Partial sampling from six trees per year was conducted at sites 1 and 2 during 2017–2020 (from seven trees at site 2 in 2017) to sustain the monitoring trees. All the samples were obtained from the stems around breast height. During the partial sampling, bark pieces sized approximately 3 cm × 3 cm (axial length × tangential length) were collected from four directions of the tree stem using a chisel, and 12-mm-diameter wood cores were collected from two directions of the tree stem using an automatic increment borer (Smartborer, Seiwa Works, Tsukuba, Japan) equipped with a borer bit (10–101-1046, Haglöf Sweden, Långsele, Sweden). Such partial sampling increases the observational errors in the bark and wood 137Cs concentrations in individual trees26. To mitigate this error and maintain an accurate mean value of the 137Cs concentration, we increased the number of sampled trees from three to six. The sampling was conducted mainly in July–September of each year; the exceptions were site-5 samples in 2011 and 2012, which were collected irregularly during January–February of the following year. The collected bark pieces were separated into outer and inner barks, and the wood disks and cores were split into sapwood and heartwood. The outer and inner bark samples during 2012–2016 were obtained by partial sampling of barks sized approximately 10 cm × 10 cm from 2–3 directions on 2–3 trees per year.

The bulk samples of bark, sapwood, and heartwood were air-dried and then chipped into flakes using a cutting mill with a 6-mm mesh sieve (UPC-140, HORAI, Higashiosaka, Japan). The pieces of the outer and inner bark were chipped into approximately 5 mm × 5 mm pieces using pruning shears, and the cores of the sapwood and heartwood were chipped into semicircles of thickness 1–2 mm. Each sample was packed into a container for radioactivity measurements and its mass was measured after oven-drying at 75 °C for at least 48 h. Multiplying this mass by the conversion factor (0.98 for bark and 0.99 for wood)8 yielded the dry mass at 105 °C.

Radioactivity measurements

The radioactivity of 137Cs in the samples was determined by γ-ray spectrometry with a high-purity Ge semiconductor detector (GEM20, GEM40, or GWL-120, ORTEC, Oak Ridge, TN). For measurements, the bulk and partial samples were placed into Marinelli containers (2.0 L or 0.7 L) and cylindrical containers (100 mL or 5 mL), respectively. The peak efficiencies of the Marinelli containers, the 100-mL container, and the 5-mL container were calibrated using standard sources of MX033MR, MX033U8PP (Japan Radioisotope Association, Tokyo, Japan), and EG-ML (Eckert & Ziegler Isotope Products, Valencia, CA), respectively. For the measurement of the 5-mL container, a well-type Ge detector (GWL-120) was used under the empirical assumption that the difference in γ-ray self-absorption between the standard source and the samples is negligible27. The measurement was continued until the counting error became less than 5% (higher counting errors were allowed for small or weakly radioactive samples). The activity concentration of 137Cs in the bark (whole) collected by partial sampling was calculated as the mass-weighted mean of the concentrations in the outer and inner barks; meanwhile, the concentration in the wood (whole) was calculated as the cross-sectional-area-weighted mean of sapwood and heartwood concentrations. The activity concentrations were decay-corrected to September 1, 2020, to exclude the decrease due to the radioactive decay.

Discussion

Causes of temporal trends in bark 137Cs concentration

The 137Cs concentration in the whole bark decreased in many plots, clearly because the outer bark 137Cs concentration decreased. However, the whole bark 137Cs concentration showed a relatively small decrease or even a flat trend in some plots (site-2 cedar and site-1 cypress and oak). In the site-1 cypress plot, where the whole bark 137Cs concentration decreased relatively slowly, the inner bark 137Cs concentration notably increased. Similarly, although we lack early phase monitoring data in the site-2 cedar and site-1 oak plots, the inner bark 137Cs concentration in both plots is considered to have increased prior to monitoring because the sapwood 137Cs concentration increased in both plots and the CR of inner bark/sapwood was constant in all other plots. Therefore, the low-rate decrease or flat trend in the whole bark 137Cs concentration in some plots was probably caused by an increase in the inner bark 137Cs concentration, itself likely caused by high 137Cs root uptake (as discussed later).

The 137Cs concentration in the outer bark decreased in all four plots monitored since 2012 (site-1 and site-3 cedar, site-1 cypress, and site-3 pine), confirming the 137Cs drop/wash off from the bark surface. The constant (exponential) decrease in three of these plots indicates that the 137Cs drop/wash off was still continuing in 2020 but with smaller effect on the outer bark 137Cs concentration. In contrast, the decrease in the site-1 cypress plot seemed to slow down since around 2017. Furthermore, Kato et al.32 reported no decrease in 137Cs concentration in the outer bark of Japanese cedar during the 2012–2016 period. Such cases cannot be fitted by a simple decrease of the outer bark 137Cs concentration. As a longer-term perspective, in the outer bark of Norway spruces (Picea abies) affected by the Chernobyl nuclear accident, the biological half-life of 137Cs concentration was extended in areas with higher precipitation, suggesting that high root uptake of 137Cs hinders the decreasing trend33. The present study showed that 70–80% or more of the 137Cs deposited on the bark surface (outer bark) was removed by drop/wash off after 10 years from the accident and that the 137Cs CR of outer bark/inner bark became constant in some plots. These facts suggest that the longer-term variations in outer bark 137Cs concentration will be more influenced by 137Cs root uptake, although it is uncertain whether root uptake caused the slowing down of the decrease rate seen in the site-1 cypress plot. Further studies are needed to understand the 137Cs concentration in newly formed outer bark and to determine the 137Cs CR of outer bark/inner bark at steady state.

Causes of temporal trends in wood 137Cs concentration

The temporal trends of the 137Cs concentration in the whole wood basically corresponded to those in the sapwood. The exceptions were the site-3 and site-4 cedar plots, where the sapwood 137Cs concentration did not increase but the whole wood 137Cs concentration was raised by the notable increase in the heartwood 137Cs concentration. This behavior can be attributed to a species-specific characteristic of Japanese cedar, which facilitates Cs transfer from sapwood to heartwood8,15,34. The present study newly found that the increase in the 137Cs CR of heartwood/sapwood in the cedar plots became smaller or shifted to a flat trend around 2015–2016, indicating that 137Cs transfer between the sapwood and heartwood has reached apparent steady state at many sites 10 years after the accident. Therefore, after 2020, the whole wood 137Cs concentration in cedar is unlikely to increase without a concomitant increase in the sapwood 137Cs concentration.

The increasing trends in the 137Cs concentrations in whole wood and sapwood (site-2 cedar, site-1 cypress, and site-1 and site-3 oak plots) are seemingly caused by the yearly increase in 137Cs root uptake; however, the wood 137Cs concentration can also increase when the 137Cs root uptake is constant or even slightly decreases each year. This behavior can be shown in a simple simulation of the temporal variation in the wood 137Cs content (the amount of 137Cs in stem wood of a tree). If the 137Cs dynamics within a tree have reached steady state and the proportion of 137Cs allocated to stem wood become apparently constant, the wood 137Cs content in a given year can be considered to be determined by the amount of 137Cs root uptake and the amount of 137Cs emission via litterfall. The flat 137Cs CR trend of inner bark/sapwood during 2012–2020 (see Fig. 5) indicates that the 137Cs dynamics, at least those between the inner bark and sapwood, reached apparent steady state within 2011. Here we assume that (1) the annual amount of 137Cs root uptake is constant, (2) the proportion of 137Cs allocated to stem wood is apparently constant, and as assumed in many forest Cs dynamics models17,35,36,37, (3) a certain proportion of 137Cs in the stem wood is lost via litterfall each year. Under these conditions, the simulated amount of 137Cs emission balanced the amount of 137Cs root uptake after sufficient time, and the wood 137Cs content approached an asymptotic value calculated as [root uptake amount × allocation proportion × (1/emission proportion − 1)]. Note that the asymptotic value increases with increasing root uptake amount and decreasing emission proportion and does not depend on the amount of 137Cs foliar/bark surface uptake in the early post-accident phase. Nevertheless, the amount of 137Cs surface uptake in the early phase critically determines the trend of the wood 137Cs content. More specifically, the trend in the early phase will be increasing (decreasing) if the surface uptake is smaller (larger) than the asymptotic value. Finally, the temporal variation of the 137Cs concentration in wood is thought to be the sum of the dilution effect of the increasing wood biomass and the above-simulated variation in the wood 137Cs content. Therefore, in the early post-accident phase, the wood 137Cs concentration will increase when the wood 137Cs content increases at a higher rate than the wood biomass. As the wood 137Cs content approaches its asymptotic value (i.e., steady state), its increase rate slows and the dilution effect proportionally increases. Then, the wood 137Cs concentration shifts from an increasing trend to a decreasing trend. The trends of the 137Cs concentrations in whole wood and sapwood in the site-3 oak plot follow this basic temporal trend, which is similarly predicted by many simulation models9.

In other plots with the increasing trend (site-2 cedar and site-1 cypress and oak), the increase in the 137Cs concentrations in whole wood and sapwood became smaller or shifted to a flat trend around six years after the accident; however, it did not shift to a decreasing trend. This lack of any clear shift to a decreasing trend, which was similarly seen at sites with hydromorphic soils after the Chernobyl nuclear accident38,39, cannot be well explained by the above simulation. A core assumption of the simulation that the yearly amount of 137Cs root uptake is constant is probably violated in these plots, leading to underestimations of the root uptake amount. Although the inventory of exchangeable 137Cs in the organic soil layer has decreased yearly since the accident, that in the mineral soil layer at 0–5 cm depth has remained constant40. In addition, the downward migration of 137Cs has increased the 137Cs inventory in the mineral soil layer below 5-cm depth41,42. If the steady state 137Cs inventory of the root uptake source can be regarded as sufficient for trees, any increase in the 137Cs root uptake is likely explained by expansion of the root distribution and the increase in transpiration (water uptake) with tree growth. When the wood 137Cs content increases at a similar rate to the wood biomass, the increasing trend will not obviously shift to a decreasing trend. Therefore, assuming the 137Cs allocation and emission proportions in the mature trees do not change considerably with time, the amount of 137Cs root uptake is considered to be increasing yearly in these four plots.

In the remaining plots with the decreasing or flat trend (site-1 cedar, site-4 cedar without outliers, site-5 cypress, and site-3 pine), according to the above simulation, the amount of initial 137Cs surface uptake was larger than or similar to the asymptotic value, i.e. the amount of 137Cs root uptake is relatively small and/or the proportion of 137Cs emission via litterfall is relatively high. However, the amount of 137Cs root uptake in the plots with the flat trend is possibly increasing because the flat trend has not shifted to a decreasing trend. In these plots, although it is difficult to confirm apparent steady state of the soil–tree 137Cs cycling because of the lack of an initial increasing trend, the recent flat trends in the 137Cs CRs of heartwood/sapwood and inner bark/sapwood indicate that the 137Cs dynamics, at least within the trees, have reached apparent steady state.

Various factors were found to increase the 137Cs root uptake after the Chernobyl nuclear accident; for example, high soil water content, high soil organic and low clay content (i.e., low radiocesium interception potential [RIP]), low soil exchangeable K concentration, and high soil exchangeable NH4 concentration12,43. After the FDNPP accident, the 137Cs transfer from soil to Japanese cypress and konara oak was found to be negatively correlated with the soil exchangeable K concentration44,45 and the 137Cs mobility is reportedly high in soils with low RIP46. However, neither the soil exchangeable K and Cs concentrations nor the RIP have explained the different 137Cs aggregated transfer factors (defined as [137Cs activity concentration in a specified component/137Cs activity inventory in the soil]) of Japanese cedars at sites 1–446,47. Because the 137Cs dynamics within the forest and trees in many plots reached apparent steady state at 10 years after the FDNPP accident, the 137Cs aggregated transfer factor is now considered to be an informative indicator of the 137Cs root uptake. Therefore, a comprehensive analysis of the 137Cs aggregated transfer factor and the soil properties at more sites than in the present study will be important to understand key factors determining the amount of 137Cs root uptake by each tree species at each site.

Validity and limitation of the trend analyses

Although the application of the smooth local linear trend model failed in plots monitored for less than five years, it was deemed suitable for analyzing the decadal trend because it removes annual noises, which are probably caused by relatively large observational errors (including individual variability)26. Moreover, the algorithm that determines the trend and its shift between 2 and 4 delimiting years was apparently reasonable, because the detected trends well matched our intuition. However, when judging a trend, the algorithm simply assesses whether the true state values significantly differ between the delimiting years. Therefore, it cannot detect changes in the increase/decrease rate (i.e., whether an increasing/decreasing trend is approaching a flat trend). For example, the whole bark 137Cs concentration in the site-1 cypress plot was determined to decrease throughout the monitoring period. In fact, the decrease rate slowed around 2014 and the decreases were slight between 2014 and 2020 (see Fig. 2). Similarly, the sapwood 137Cs concentration in the site-1 cypress and oak plots was determined to increase throughout the monitoring period, but the increase rate has clearly slowed since around 2017. To more sensitively detect the shift from an increasing/decreasing trend to a flat trend, other algorithms are required. Nevertheless, this algorithm is acceptable for the chief aim of the present study; that is, to detect a trend shift from increasing to decreasing.

Conclusions

In many plots monitored at Fukushima and Ibaraki Prefectures, the 137Cs concentrations in the whole and outer bark decreased at almost the same yearly rate for 10 years after the FDNPP accident, indicating that the direct contamination of the outer bark was mostly but not completely removed during this period. Moreover, the 137Cs concentration in the whole bark decreased at relatively low rates or was stable in plots where the 137Cs root uptake was considered to be high. This fact suggests that indirect contamination through continuous root uptake can reach the same magnitude as direct contamination by the accident.

In all of our analyzed plots, the 137Cs CR of inner bark/sapwood has not changed since 2012, indicating that 137Cs transfer among the biologically active parts of the tree stem had already reached apparent steady state in 2011. In contrast, the 137Cs CR of heartwood/sapwood in six out of nine plots increased after the accident. In four of these plots, the 137Cs CR of heartwood/sapwood plateaued after 3–6 years; in the other two plots, the plateau was not reached even after 10 years. Therefore, saturation of 137Cs in heartwood (an inactive part of the tree stem) requires several years to more than one decade.

The 137Cs concentration in the whole wood showed an increasing trend in six out of nine plots. In four of these plots, the increasing trend shifted to a flat or decreasing trend, indicating that the 137Cs dynamics in many forests reached apparent steady state at 10 years after the accident. However, the lack of the clear shift to a decreasing trend indicates that the 137Cs root uptake is probably still increasing in some plots. Continuous monitoring surveys and further studies clarifying the complex mechanisms of 137Cs root uptake in forests are needed in order to refine the simulation models and improve their prediction accuracy.

https://www.nature.com/articles/s41598-022-14576-1

July 10, 2022 Posted by | Fuk 2022, Fukushima continuing, Reference | , , , | Leave a comment

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………..   https://abcnews.go.com/Technology/wireStory/japan-oks-plan-release-fukushima-nuclear-plant-wastewater-84800836

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.  http://global.chinadaily.com.cn/a/202204/29/WS626b2624a310fd2b29e5a056.html

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)   https://mainichi.jp/english/articles/20220402/p2a/00m/0na/027000c

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………………….  https://japantoday.com/category/national/hope-hard-reality-mix-in-fukushima-town-wrecked-by-nuclear-disaster

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…………….   http://global.chinadaily.com.cn/a/202203/14/WS622e7e15a310cdd39bc8c4ef.html

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