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The stigma continues, however much the propaganda spouts about the Fukushima nuclear ‘recovery’

The Fukushima nuclear disaster’s legacy: An inescapable stigma, Commentary: Pockets of innovation, like a drone testing field, have some hoping the region sheds its notoriety. But it’s not that simple. CNet

BY ROGER CHENG MARCH 7, 2019 The J-Village hotel and sports complex in Fukushima was immaculate, its grand lobby welcoming us with bright lights and pristine marble floors. Several furnished conference rooms stood ready to host one event after another.

There’ was just one jarring thing: the utter silence throughout the facility.

It was our first night in the Fukushima region, and my photographer, James Martin, and my interpreter had arrived a little after 10 p.m. Initially, we weren’t sure if this was the right location – we seemingly had the only vehicle in the parking lot, and a quick search of those conference rooms found no staff.

It wasn’t until we located the reception desk, tucked out of sight from the main lobby, that we found another human. The employee noted that only 15 guests were staying in the 200-room hotel.

Welcome to Fukushima.

That first night proved to be one of the more memorable moments in a trip that included a visit inside one of the most radioactive hotspots in the world, a look at a massive underground ice wall and a virtual reality experience that took me to places no human could survive. It stood out because it illustrated the long way this area has to go before any semblance of normalcy can return…….

Eight years on, there’s been little progress with the actual cleanup. While three of the six reactors have been safely decommissioned, the remaining three have proven to be such a challenge that Tokyo Electric Power Company, or Tepco, just last month finally succeeded in sending a robot down to the Unit 2 reactor to pick up some of debris in the highly radioactive core.  ………

Tepco and local government officials are pushing the concept of an “Innovation Coast” in the region through facilities like the Naraha Center for Remote Control Technology and the Robot Test Field in nearby Minamisoma. The idea is to tap into the investment already being made in the cleanup effort and create a Silicon Valley of robotics and drone technology.
“What we want to do is turn that on its head and create a positive image of Fukushima around the world,” Akifumi Kitashima, director of the robot industry promotion unit for the Fukushima prefectural government, says through an interpreter…….

there are reminders of the disaster everywhere. Drive on the nearby Joban Expressway and you’ll periodically run into signs with a readout of the radiation level. The daily weather report on the local evening news contains an update on the radiation in the area.

I periodically drove past fields containing hundreds of bags of radiated dirt.

At the same time as my tour of Daiichi in November, former Tepco executives were in court to deal with charges of professional negligence. Despite Tepco’s efforts to clean the mess up, there continues to be mistrust of the company and of nuclear power…….. https://www.cnet.com/news/the-fukushima-nuclear-disasters-legacy-an-inescapable-stigma/
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March 9, 2019 Posted by | Fukushima continuing | Leave a comment

University of California covers up the truth on Fukushima radiation

The future of all life: Indigenous sovereignty and the Fukushima nuclear disaster, Bay View, National Black Newspaper,  by Harun Minhaj, March 4, 2019  “………..As the Caretakers of Mother Earth have warned, the nuclear establishment has been working tirelessly to cover up and downplay the consequences of this nuclear disaster. The University of California has long played an essential role in this establishment, as it designed the core physical package of every single nuclear warhead in the U.S. arsenal. And now, formerly secret documents show that UC played an indispensable role in the federal response to – and cover-up of – the Fukushima nuclear disaster.

The estimates secretly forecasted by the LLNL’s model predicted very high doses to children in California from radioactive iodine, which is known to cause serious thyroid illnesses. Subsequent measurements found that this model’s predictions of radiation exposure in California were far more accurate than lower estimates and actually underestimated the radiation found 30 km off the coast of Japan.

Yet the UC never issued a single health warning to anyone living on the West Coast prior to their exposure to this deadly radiation. Instead, at the very time that the UC’s LLNL was modeling “estimates of possible plume arrival times and dose for U.S. locations,” UC Berkeley scientists were at the forefront of corporate media coverage on outlets such as ABC7 proclaiming brazen falsehoods such as “there is no plume.”

The LLNL’s model was continually being refined and updated “based on meteorological analyses and available field data” to ensure its predictions were maximally accurate, yet UC Berkeley scientists were simultaneously telling the public that “you cannot predict how the weather is going to carry radiation particles over the West Coast, if anything at all.”

Even worse was the initial UC Berkeley claim that the radiation reaching California was “not harmful at all” and posed “no risk to California,” despite the LLNL’s forecast of very high doses to children in California from radioactive iodine.

Meanwhile, the head of UC Berkeley’s Nuclear Engineering Department secretly admitted that “it is possible that we will find that some people have received doses … that could exceed the levels that current Protective Action Guidelines are designed to prevent.” The Protective Action Guidelines (PAGs) are legal limits on radiation exposure set by the EPA designed to minimize the risk of harm, and this professor subsequently suggested that, should they be exceeded, “this could provide a basis for immediate action to change PAGs.”

When UC Berkeley began testing for radioactive iodine from the Fukushima fallout in California, it found levels in rainwater up to 181 times the EPA’s safe drinking water standards. And although rainwater and tap water should not be conflated, radioactive isotopes climb their way up the food chain in increasing concentrations in numerous ways, such as the soil of produce farms and the pastures of milk-giving cattle.

The UC cover-up of West Coast fallout

Far from being incidentally related to the case, the University of California’s Lawrence Livermore National Lab (LLNL) was in fact the federal contractor given the responsibility of projecting the damage or “dose” from Fukushima Daiichi’s fallout to Japan, the Pacific Ocean and U.S.-occupied Turtle Island.

And, indeed, radioactive materials from Fukushima were detected across California’s food web, while UC Berkeley’s own measurements showed that food items such as milk were regularly exceeding the EPA’s PAGs in both 2011 and 2012 until they stopped taking these measurements.

The response to these findings was once again denial and distortion. The EPA soon increased its PAG “safe limit” by more than 400 times, to such a high level that all of these findings would retroactively cease to be considered health risks.

In the meantime, UC Berkeley engineers once again asserted there was no cause to worry and falsely minimized these readings by conflating external radiation as received from plane travel with the more dangerous internal radiation received through ingesting radioactive particles, which remain in the body emitting radiation for much longer and have the ability to concentrate in specific vulnerable organs such as the thyroid.

But the initial epidemiological evidence is in, and it already shows a variety of illnesses and deaths across the West Coast significantly correlated with the arrival and presence of Fukushima fallout, such as over 100 additional fetal deaths and birth abnormalities in the state of Washington in 2011 and increased rates of congenital hyperthyroidism in California infants born shortly after the meltdowns – around 1,500 additional borderline and severe cases.

The EPA soon increased its PAG “safe limit” by more than 400 times, to such a high level that all of these findings would retroactively cease to be considered health risks.

The University of California totally failed to make public the initial LLNL projections of “very high doses” to California infants and provide adequate health warnings – such as avoiding contaminated milk or taking natural iodine supplements – despite having this legal responsibility both as a federal contractor and as the operator of California’s Poison Control System, which administers such warnings on behalf of the California Emergency Medical Services Authority for the entire state.

The UC cover-up of Pacific fallout and seafood contamination

As serious as the consequences of the fallout on California were, the radiation California and the West Coast received was only a small fraction (<2 percent) of the total, of which the majority (~80 percent) fell into the Pacific.

From the very beginning, UC scientists were involved in studying the Pacific die-offs. Indeed, it was UC scientists who declared when studying the 2011 marine invertebrate mass die-offs that “[N]o previously documented mortality event has been so severe over such a large region …” Yet these UC scientists who had been studying this epidemic from the very beginning have failed to ever monitor the sick and dead animals for radiation, despite one of the lead scientists admitting that Fukushima could not be ruled out as a cause.

When their major study was published in 2018, it included no consideration of Fukushima or radiation whatsoever. Apparently, it was a moot point – the UC’s website on the die-offs had already been claiming for years there was “no evidence” of Fukushima radiation having an impact, even though they had never looked for any despite having already admitted it couldn’t be ruled out.

To make matters worse, one of the principal UC authors of this study falsely claimed that Fukushima radiation could not have precipitated the die-off, because “many more creatures would be affected.” By this time, the unprecedented and concurrent die-offs of fish, marine mammals and sea birds had already been reported.

In denying the impact of Fukushima on the Pacific, these scientists are hardly alone. Overand over again, UC professors – frequently in leadership positions and with government ties – have minimized the impact by relying on the widely debunked fallacy of “dilution.”

Yet dilution has been known to be a false solution to radiation for over 50 years now. In 1955, a once-secret memo from the U.S. Atomic Energy Commission (AEC) – then headquartered in Berkeley – noted that the “dissipation of radioactive fallout in ocean waters is not a gradual spreading out of the activity from the region with the highest concentration to uncontaminated regions, but that in all probability the process results in scattered pockets and streams of higher radioactive materials in the Pacific.”

This is due to a variety of reasons, including the flow of currents and the role played by sediment and debris in transporting radiation. Furthermore, studies have shown that the bioconcentration of radioactive particles up the food chain increasingly amplifies its prevalence in smaller and larger marine organisms by factors ranging from 3 to 300.

While this memo may have previously been secret, the “no threshold” model of radiation has been well-established for almost as long, and is the accepted foundation of radiation protection for the Environmental Protection AgencyNational Academy of Sciences, and many other institutions.

In the 1960s, UC Berkeley Nuclear Scientist John Gofman established the Biomedical Research Division of the UC’s LLNL, when he was employed by the AEC to discredit findings which showed that “low level” radiation from nuclear weapons tests was exposing infants in surrounding areas to dangerous amounts of radiation.

Instead, Gofman’s research confirmed these dangers, and at the end of the decade he gave a report showing that there is no threshold beneath which radiation exposure is “safe”: lower levels correspond to a lower – b­ut very real – risk of disease. Consequently, dilution does nothing more than spread the impact of radiation amongst a larger population vulnerable to disease, with each individual facing a lower risk but the overall aggregate impact remaining the same.

The AEC disliked these findings and forced Gofman out of the LLNL, illustrating the reprisals nuclear scientists often face for challenging the pro-nuclear establishment.

Numerous projections of the spread of Fukushima radiation in the Pacific Ocean have predicted that, far from becoming increasingly diluted, once the radiation leaves the immediate vicinity of the Fukushima shoreline it would actually become increasingly concentrated as it approaches the West Coast due to the dynamics of ocean currents, with eventual peak concentrations reaching levels up to 10 times higher than off the coast of the rest of Japan.

There is no threshold beneath which radiation exposure is “safe”: lower levels correspond to a lower – b­ut very real – risk of disease.

What measurements are available not only confirm these projections, showing increasing concentrations traveling east across the Pacific Ocean roughly correlating to these models, they also show that the vast quantities of radioactive particles the Nordic PSA Group predicted would kill at least 50-100 million fish were indeed present throughout large areas of the Pacific Ocean.

In other words, a vast array of scientific knowledge, regulatory precedent, expert models, and empirical data directly contradicts the denials of the UC nuclear establishment that Fukushima’s radiation is of no concern in the Pacific due to “dilution.”

Once again, these denials have serious consequences not just in terms of the ecocidal impact of Fukushima Daiichi’s radiation on Pacific sea life. Based on the thoroughly disproven dilution fallacy, several prominent UC scientists have also denied that there are any health impacts from Fukushima radiation in the Pacific, including the risks entailed in eating contaminated seafood.

The Nordic Probabilistic Safety Assessment Group, however, founded by the nuclear utilities of Finland and Sweden and therefore not at all “anti-nuclear,” concluded in its 2011 report that even if seafood radiation levels from Fukushima stay below legal limits, more than 1 million people would die from just one of the elements of concern, cesium-137. They wrote:

“The fish, seafood, whale meat and seaweed consumed may have concentrations below legal limits, but the radioactive content will be increased from normal levels. As noted in Section 3.6.3, the ingestion dose could be substantial even if the legal limits for the foodstuff are preserved. This cycle will last for many generations, because of the food chain of fish and other marine fauna, and the radioactivity will be recycled and in fact the meat content will increase rather than decreasing by decay. Even if only one one-hundredth of the radioactivity (more than 1e15 Bq of CS137) were to enter this recirculation pattern, the collective whole body ingestion dose over many generations would exceed 1e7 Sv, sufficient to kill more than 1,000,000 people.”

As predictions of mass die-offs and increasingly concentrated radiation crossing the Pacific to the West Coast have already come true, ignoring the scientific evidence about the dangers this radiation poses to us too promises to have deadly consequences. With over 1 hundred million sea creatures having already perished as predicted by the nuclear utility-founded Nordic PSA Group, this institution’s estimate that more than 1 million people could also die if human consumption of Pacific seafood continues unabated is supported by a solid track record based on the scientific method, unlike the UC’s ongoing denials and distortions of even the most basic facts of the Fukushima disaster………….https://sfbayview.com/2019/03/the-future-of-all-life-indigenous-sovereignty-and-the-fukushima-nuclear-disaster/

March 9, 2019 Posted by | Fukushima continuing, secrets,lies and civil liberties, USA | Leave a comment

Schools refitted in Fukushima, but enrolment remains dismal

THE ASAHI SHIMBUN, March 1, 2019  Local governments in Fukushima Prefecture have spent billions of yen to create ideal education environments, including new or renovated school buildings, high-tech classes, free lunches and uniforms, and long-distance buses.

But these schools may be forced to close down. There just aren’t enough children in areas near the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant to sustain their operations.

The enrollment figures have dispirited local government officials, who agree that schools and their students are the key to recovery from the 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake, tsunami and nuclear accident…….http://www.asahi.com/ajw/articles/AJ201903010026.html

March 9, 2019 Posted by | Fukushima continuing | Leave a comment

Ineffective solutions being pursued to deal with the Fukushima nuclear reactors’ wreck

The future of all life: Indigenous sovereignty and the Fukushima nuclear disaster, Bay View, National Black Newspaper,  by Harun Minhaj, March 4, 2019 …………Allowed to participate only in Berkeley’s fifth mayoral debate, RunningWolf emphasized in his concluding remarks the importance of addressing the Fukushima nuclear crisis and holding the UC accountable for providing no solutions or health warnings. Ever since, he has been struggling against a complicit media which has refused to cover his story and corrupt local institutions which refuse to address or even investigate this election interference and the violation of not just numerous local and national laws, but many international laws as well. ………

By interfering with the election to keep RunningWolf out of office, local and state police departments have joined the UC in the cover-up of the continued threat Fukushima Daiichi poses through contaminated seafood and the ongoing impacts and leakage of radioactive fallout.

As a result, Fukushima Daiichi continues to leak deadly radiation into the Pacific, while RunningWolf is illegally being prevented from working towards a real solution and holding the UC responsible for its genocidal cover-up.

RunningWolf, along with nuclear experts such as whistleblower Arnie Gundersen, has long advocated that the first necessary solution is for the Fukushima Daiichi plants to be encased in a concrete sarcophagus like at Chernobyl, along with preparatory measures to prevent further contamination of the surroundings and end the ongoing leakage into the Pacific Ocean.

But as a number of Japanese experts have testified, this solution is being rejected “to avoid taking responsibility,” as it would require “admitting that no one can live near the plant for a generation.”

Once again, the UC is deeply complicit, by enabling the Japanese government and TEPCO (Fukushima Daiichi’s operator) to continue pursuing false solutions which do not stop the leakage or require “admitting defeat.”

The UC is intimately involved in an ongoing effort which has cost more than $100 million of Japanese tax revenue on a two-pronged effort using the Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL)’s Muon Imaging Technology alongside expensive robots to find and remove melted fuel from inside the reactors. Yet after nearly eight years, much of this fuel has not yet been located and none of it has been removed, while the radiation continues to leak into the Pacific Ocean every day.

And once again, the UC’s priorities are clear, as this “solution” was showcased in the same LANL press release overwhelmingly concerned with “rebuild[ing] public acceptance of nuclear power” and protecting the Japanese nuclear industry, rather than with the impact on public health or the environment. https://sfbayview.com/2019/03/the-future-of-all-life-indigenous-sovereignty-and-the-fukushima-nuclear-disaster/

March 9, 2019 Posted by | Fukushima continuing | Leave a comment

“Ice wall” – the effort to contain Fukushima’s radiation

How Fukushima’s underground ice wall keeps nuclear radiation at bay

Think Game of Thrones, but this one is underground and defends against a far more realistic threat.  CNet,

BY ROGER CHENG MARCH 8, 2019 

The intricate network of small metal pipes, capped off by six-foot-high metal scaffolding, shouldn’t stand out amid the numerous pieces of industrial equipment littered throughout the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant. After all, it’s a power plant.

I take a closer look, and notice spheres of ice perched upon the smaller pipes, which line the center of the structure. The facility sits at the water’s edge, and there’s a brisk breeze blowing through.

e intricate network of small metal pipes, capped off by six-foot-high metal scaffolding, shouldn’t stand out amid the numerous pieces of industrial equipment littered throughout the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant. After all, it’s a power plant.

I take a closer look, and notice spheres of ice perched upon the smaller pipes, which line the center of the structure. The facility sits at the water’s edge, and there’s a brisk breeze blowing through

………. The structure, which cost roughly $300 million, paid for by public funds, serves as critical protection, defending the Fukushima area from one of the most radioactive hotspots in the world. While Tokyo Electric Power Co., also known as Tepco, struggles to find a way to remove radioactive material from the facility – a process the government estimates could take more than four decades — the more immediate concern is what to do with the contaminated water leaking out from the facility……….

Ice cold

While the term “ice wall” has a colorful ring to it, engineers use the more academic-sounding term Artificial Ground Freezing.

…… calcium chloride solution is pumped down through a smaller inner pipe, and circulated back up a large outer pipe.

The coolant brings down the temperature of each pipe to -30 degrees Celsius, or -22 degrees Fahrenheit, and the pipes are spaced about three feet apart. The cold emanating from each one hardens the soil around it.

The point of the ice wall is to keep the groundwater that runs down from the mountains to the west from entering Fukushima Daiichi and mixing with the toxic water leaking out of the Unit 1, 2 and 3 reactors. That is,  keep the clean water on the outside of the wall, while the contaminated water stays inside.

Tepco and manufacturing partners, such as Toshiba and Mitsubishi, are working on robots to identify and determine how to clear out the radioactive materials in each of the reactors’ primary containment vessels, essentially the heart of each facility.

Until then, they need a way to slow or stop the flow of water into the facility.

……. With the wall in place, Tepco says it has been able to reduce the level of contaminated water generated from Daiichi. But a Reuters report in March 2018 found that the wall still let a fair amount of clean water in, adding to the volume of toxic water the company needs to deal with. Tepco, however, says it’s been effective in reducing the volume.

“We know this is not the end of our effort,” says a company spokesman. “We will be continuously working hard to reduce the amount of  generation of contaminated water.”

The leaky bucket

Imagine a leaky bucket that constantly needs to be filled with water. At the same time, the water from the leak needs to be collected and stored. And there’s no end in sight to this cycle.

That essentially is the problem that Tepco faces at Daiichi. The fuel rods stored in the three radioactive units constantly have to be cooled with fresh water, but leaks mean the company needs to be vigilant about keeping the tainted liquid from getting out of the facility’s grounds.

Since the accident nearly eight years ago, Tepco has collected 1.1 million tons of contaminated water in 900 tanks stored on the grounds at Daiichi. The company estimates it has enough space in the 37.7-million-square-foot facility to house an additional 270,000 tons of water, which means it would run out sometime in 2020.

“We’re conscious of the fact that we can’t keep storing more and more water,” Kenji Abe, a spokesman for Tepco’s decommissioning and decontamination unit, says through an interpreter.

……. So far, treatment technology from partner companies like Kurion and Sarry have enabled Tepco to remove 62 of the 63 radioactive elements from the water, but one, tritium, remains.

It’s this one element, which is bonded to the water at an atomic level, that means Tepco needs to keep collecting and storing the water.

……..  organizations such as Greenpeace have called for Tepco to keep storing the water, noting that much of the early batches of treated water far exceed safety limits for radioactive elements.

Given the sensitivities around Fukushima, Tepco must continue to store the water. A spokesman said the company isn’t planning to disperse the water. But it is one option being considered by the Japanese government, which ultimately makes the decision.

“Resolving the issue of the contaminated water is something we haven’t yet reached a final solution on,” Yagi says.

…….. The scientist explains that Japan has set a legal radioactivity limit of 60,000 becquerel per liter of tritium. But the treated water is still at 1.7 million Bq per liter, or roughly 30 times what’s deemed safe.

So, for now, Tepco must continue collecting the water. And the ice wall continues to stand, invisible to onlookers, as one of the most important lines of defense. https://www.cnet.com/news/how-fukushimas-underground-ice-wall-keeps-nuclear-radiation-at-bay/

March 9, 2019 Posted by | Fukushima continuing | Leave a comment

8 Years On: Tainted Soil Use Plan Draws Backlash from Fukushima Residents

https://www.nippon.com/en/news/yjj2019030601012/8-years-on-tainted-soil-use-plan-draws-backlash-from-fukushima-residents.html Mar 8, 2019  Minamisoma, Fukushima Pref., March 8 (Jiji Press)–A plan to use soil from decontamination work in areas tainted with radioactive substances from the March 2011 nuclear disaster in Fukushima Prefecture is facing a strong backlash from local residents.

Under an envisaged feasibility study program, the Environment Ministry aims to use the soil for public works projects and examine its safety.

The ministry apparently hopes to reduce the amount of tainted soil to be transferred to a planned final disposal facility.

But Fukushima residents continue to have strong safety concerns about radiation eight years after the triple meltdown accident at Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings Inc.’s <9501> Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant, damaged in the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami

March 9, 2019 Posted by | Fukushima continuing | Leave a comment

UK, Japan scientists study radioactive Fukushima particles

 

This sounds like a good idea. But – can we really be confident about science done by Atomic Energy Agencies , whose brief is to further develop atomic energy?

OXFORD, England (Reuters) 8 Mar 19,  – Eight years after the Fukushima nuclear meltdown in Japan, radioactive particles collected from the site are undergoing new forensic investigation in Britain in an effort to understand the exact sequence of events…….

The Japan Atomic Energy Agency (JAEA) is currently collaborating with British researchers to learn more about the state of the radioactive particles created by the meltdown.

Dr Yukihiko Satou from the JAEA oversaw the transportation of particles collected from within the restricted zone, very close to the disaster site, to Britain.

“The particles were fundamentally extracted from those attached to soil, dust and debris,” Satou told Reuters.

Encased in protective tape, the samples were brought to the Diamond Light Source, Britain’s national synchrotron, or cyclic particle accelerator, near Oxford.

Here electrons are accelerated to near light speeds until they emit light 10 billion times brighter than the sun, then directed into laboratories in ‘beamlines’ which allow scientists to study minute specimens in extreme detail.

…… Understanding the current state of these particles and how they behave in the environment could ultimately determine if and when the area could be declared safe for people to return…… Writing by Matthew Stock,; Editing by Gareth Jones   https://www.reuters.com/article/us-japan-disaster-radiation/uk-japan-scientists-study-radioactive-fukushima-particles-idUSKCN1QP1GF

March 9, 2019 Posted by | Fukushima continuing | Leave a comment

Nightmarishly high radiation levels -robots the only chance to deal with Fukushima reactors’ molten fuel

For Fukushima’s nuclear disaster, robots may be the only hope, The 2011 meltdown in Japan is still too hot for humans to handle. Send in the machines. CNet BY ROGER CHENG,  MARCH 4, 2019  ………. I’m inside the cavernous top of the Unit 3 reactor in the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant. Yes, that Fukushima Daiichi, site of the world’s worst nuclear disaster.

Unit 3 was one of three reactors crippled on March 11, 2011, after a 9.0 earthquake struck 80 miles off the coast of Japan. (Units 4, 5 and 6 at Daiichi weren’t operating at the time.) The temblor shook so violently it shifted the Earth’s axis by nearly 4 inches and moved the coast of Japan by 8 feet. Eleven reactors at four nuclear power plants throughout the region were operating at the time. All shut down automatically. All reported no significant damage.

An hour later, the tsunami reached shore.

Two 50-foot-high waves barreled straight at Fukushima Daiichi, washing over coastal seawalls and disabling the diesel generators powering the plant’s seawater cooling systems. Temperatures inside the reactors skyrocketed to as high as 5,000 degrees Fahrenheit.

Fuel rods became molten puddles of uranium that chewed through the floors below, leaving a radioactive cocktail of fuel rods, concrete, steel and melted debris. Molten fuel ultimately sank into the three reactors’ primary containment vessels, designed to catch and secure contaminated material.

Next Monday marks the eighth anniversary of the earthquake. Since then, Japanese energy giant Tokyo Electric Power Company, or Tepco, has cleared enough of the rubble on the top floor of the Unit 3 building to allow for my 10-minute visit.

I gaze up at the massive barrel vault ceiling, trying to get a handle on the sheer scale of everything. Radiation levels are too high for me to linger. My quickening pace and breath are betrayed by rapid flapping noises coming from the purple filters on both sides of my respirator mask.

At the far end of the room, there’s an enormous orange platform known as a fuel-handling machine. It has four giant metal legs that taper down, giving the structure a sort of animalistic look. Thin steel cables suspend a chrome robot in the center of the frame. The robot, largely obscured by a pink plastic wrapper, is equipped with so-called manipulators that can cut rubble and grab fuel rods. The robot will eventually pull radioactive wreckage out of a 39-foot-deep pool in the center of the room.

It’s just one of the many robots Tepco is using to clean up the power plant. It’s why I came to Japan this past November — to see how robots are working in one of the most extreme situations imaginable.

The Japanese government estimates it will cost $75.7 billion and take 40 years to fully decommission and tear down the facility. The Japan Atomic Energy Agency even built a research center nearby to mock up conditions inside the power plant, allowing experts from around the country to try out new robot designs for clearing away the wreckage.

The hope is that the research facility — along with a drone-testing field an hour away — can clean up Daiichi and revitalize Fukushima Prefecture, once known for everything from seafood to sake. The effort will take so long that Tepco and government organizations are grooming the next generation of robotics experts to finish the job.  …….

Two years ago, Tepco erected a dome over the Unit 3 reactor and fuel pool so that engineers could bring in heavy equipment and now, us.

Roughly 60 feet below me, radiation is being emitted at 1 sievert per hour. A single dose at that level is enough to cause radiation sickness such as nausea, vomiting and hemorrhaging. One dose of 5 sieverts an hour would kill about half of those exposed to it within a month, while exposure to 10 sieverts in an hour would be fatal within weeks.

Unit 3 is the least contaminated of the three destroyed reactors.

Radiation in Unit 1 has been measured at 4.1 to 9.7 sieverts per hour. And two years ago, a reading taken at the deepest level of Unit 2 was an “unimaginable” 530 sieverts, according to The Guardian. Readings elsewhere in Unit 2 are typically closer to 70 sieverts an hour, still making it the hottest of Daiichi’s hotspots.

The reactors’ hostile environments brought most of the early robots to their figurative knees: High gamma radiation levels scrambled the electrons within the semiconductors serving as the robots’ brains — ruling out machines that are too sophisticated. Autonomous robots would either shut down or get snared by misshapen obstacles in unexpected places.

The robots also had to be nimble enough to avoid disturbing the volatile melted fuel rods, essentially playing the world’s deadliest game of “Operation.” At least initially, they weren’t.    “Fukushima was a humbling moment,” says Rian Whitton, an analyst at ABI Research. “It showed the limits of robot technologies.”………….. https://www.cnet.com/news/for-fukushimas-nuclear-disaster-robots-may-be-the-only-hope/

March 5, 2019 Posted by | Fukushima continuing | Leave a comment

Fukushima wild boar leather baby shoes?

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Date goes whole hog into boar leather business in Fukushima
[Translated by the Japan Times]Wild boar leather is said to breathe well and resist chafing. It is used in Date, Fukushima Prefecture, to make products like babies’ first walking shoes because it is soft and fits well.
 
The wild boar are captured by local hunters, and their skin goes through radiation testing before and after tanning to confirm safety.
 
The corporation initially wanted to sell the meat, but they had to give up on the idea because eating wild boar caught in the area was banned after the 2011 core meltdowns at the Fukushima No. 1 power plant.
 
They came up with the idea of developing leather products after learning about a company in Tokyo’s Sumida Ward that tans wild animal hides. After repeated talks with representatives from the local tourism industry, the corporation began selling leather products in April 2015. It currently employs seven staffers and 16 artisans for the project.
 
As the government continues to ban shipments of wild animal meat from the region due to radiation concerns, the boar population is growing and causing serious crop damage. Over 1,800 of them have been captured in the city in the six years since the meltdowns.
 
Read more:

March 1, 2019 Posted by | Fukushima continuing | , , | Leave a comment

Robot claw grasped bits of molten nuclear Fuel in Fukushima reactor

Claw Game Japan Sends Robot Into the Nuclear Hell of the Fukushima Reactor https://futurism.com/japanese-spacecraft-hayabusa2-bullet-asteroid   It’s like a Roomba — for nuclear waste. Dan Robitzski, February 20th 2019

Nuclear Probe

The Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO) just sent a robot into one of the reactors of the Fukushima nuclear power plant, which was destroyed by a tsunami back in 2011.

The robot made contact with the melted fuel, picking it up and putting it back down to determine whether it was solid enough to cart away during a future mission, according to Ars Technica.

The Claw

Fukushima won’t be fully decommissioned for another 30 to 40 years. But this robotic mission is the first step toward determining how other robots will go about cleaning it up.

In this case, the robot was able to pick up small chunks of the radioactive fuel at five of the six test sites, all of which were located inside one of the power plant’s three damaged reactors. TEPCO published a video of the process taken by the robot’s built-in camera, in which you can see a robotic claw position itself around and pick up small pieces of fuel.

Catch And Release

None of the radioactive fuel left the reactor along with the robot when the mission was over. But that wasn’t the plan. Rather, this mission marks the first time that a robot has been able to physically examine Fukushima’s fuel.

The team hopes to start retrieving some of the deadly fuel in 2021, now that they know it can be physically lifted. READ MORE: Japanese utility makes first contact with melted Fukushima fuel [Ars Technica]

February 23, 2019 Posted by | Fukushima continuing | Leave a comment

Long haul to clean up radioactive debris in Fukushima’s shattered nuclear reactors – remote probe in use

Remote-Controlled Probe Picks Up Radioactive Debris At Fukushima For The First Time https://www.gizmodo.com.au/2019/02/remote-controlled-probe-picks-up-radioactive-debris-at-fukushima-for-the-first-time/George Dvorsky. Feb 15, 2019   Tepco, the state-owned operator of the badly damaged Fukushima nuclear plant, has conducted an important test in which a remote-controlled probe managed to grasp several small grains of radioactive debris, AFP reports. The successful operation marked an important achievement for the company as it prepares for a cleanup operation that could take decades.

In March 2011, the devastating Tōhoku earthquake and tsunami triggered the core meltdown of three reactors at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant. Eight years later, the plant’s operator, Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings (Tepco), is still in the formative stages of devising a clean-up plan.

The primary challenge, of course, is dealing with the intense radiation emanating from the melted fuel. Two years ago, for example, a robot became unresponsive after just two hoursin reactor No. 2; there’s enough radiation down there — approximately 650 sieverts per hour — to fry a person within a few seconds. The episode showed that technical advancements will be required to make robots more resilient to radiation near the core, and that the cleanup will likely take longer than expected.

Early last year, a camera attached to a remote-controlled probe was sent into reactor No. 2. Images confirmed that fuel debris had melted through the reactor pressure vessel (RPV), also known as the reactor core, dripping down into a collection chamber known as the primary containment vessel (PCV).

Images of the chamber showed pebble and clay-like deposits covering the entire bottom of the PCV pedestal. This accumulated waste, along with similar piles at reactors No. 1 and 3, needs to be cleaned up, and Tepco is currently trying to determine the best way of doing so.

To that end, the state-owned company devised an operation to see what that material is like and determine if it can be moved. On Wednesday February 13, Tepco sent a probe equipped with a remotely operated robotic hand down into the No. 2 lower chamber, Japan Timesreports.

Using its tong-like fingers, the probe picked up five grain-sized pieces of radioactive melted fuel. AFP reported that the pieces were moved to a maximum height of 5 centimeters above the bottom of the chamber. In addition to taking images with a camera, the probe measured radiation and temperature during the investigation, according to a Tepco release

No radioactive debris was removed from the chamber, but the eight-hour-long operation showed that some of the melted fuel can be moved — an important bit of evidence that will inform future plans to clean up the plant. But as the Japan Times noted, one of the six areas explored by the probe contained debris that had solidified into a clay-like substance, which the robotic hand was unable to grasp. Future robots will need to slice or saw through this material such that it can be removed. That won’t be easy.

A future test, planned for April, will see some debris removed from the chamber, according to the Japan Times. Tepco has yet to disclose how and where this radioactive waste will be stored.

The company is hoping to start removing radioactive fuel in earnest by 2021, but the clean-up is expected to take decades, with some estimates suggesting it won’t be done until the 2050s. Many other technological hurdles still exist, such as determining the full extent of structural damage at the Fukushima plant, locating all the melted fuel in the three damaged reactors, and figuring out a way to remove the large quantities of contaminated water stored at the site.

If that all sounds overwhelming, well, it is. As we’ve said before, when nuclear power goes wrong, it really goes wrong.

February 16, 2019 Posted by | Fukushima continuing | Leave a comment

IAEA urges Japan to slow the Fukushima wastes clean-up – delay release to Pacific till after Olympic Games

IAEA urges Japan to take ample time in Fukushima cleanup https://phys.org/news/2019-01-iaea-urges-japan-ample-fukushima.html   January 31, 2019 by Mari Yamaguchi The International Atomic Energy Agency urged Japan on Thursday to spend ample time in developing a decommissioning plan for the tsunami-damaged Fukushima nuclear power plant and to be honest with the public about remaining uncertainties.

In a report based on a visit by an IAEA team to the plant in November, the agency urged the operator, Tokyo Electric Power Co., to secure adequate space and finish plans for managing highly radioactive melted fuel before starting to remove it from the three damaged reactors.

The cores of the three reactors melted after a massive 2011 earthquake and tsunami. Utility and government officials plan to start removing the melted fuel in 2021, but still know little about its condition and have not finalized waste management plans.

“The IAEA review team advises that before the commencement of the fuel debris retrieval activities, there should be a clear implementation plan defined to safely manage the retrieved material,” the report said. “TEPCO should ensure that appropriate containers and storage capacity are available before starting the fuel debris retrieval.”

The report also urged the government and TEPCO to carefully consider ways to express “the inherent uncertainties involved” in the project and develop “a credible plan” for the long term. It advised TEPCO to consider adopting contingency plans to “accommodate any schedule delays.”

Dale Klein, a former U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission chairman who heads a TEPCO reform committee, said in a recent interview that the decommissioning should not be rushed, even if the government and TEPCO have set a schedule and people want to see it move faster.

“It’s much better to do it right than do it fast,” he said, adding that it’s also good not to rush from a health and safety perspective. “Clearly, the longer you wait, the less the radiation is.”

He said he would be “astounded” if the current schedule ends up unchanged.

In order to make room in the plant compound to safely store the melted fuel and for other needed facilities, about 1 million tons of radioactive waste water currently stored in hundreds of tanks will have to be removed. The IAEA team, headed by Xerri Christoph, an expert on radioactive waste, urged the government and TEPCO to urgently decide how to dispose of it.

Nuclear experts, including officials at the IAEA and Japanese Nuclear Regulation Authority, have said a controlled release of the water into the Pacific Ocean is the only realistic option. A release, however, is unlikely until after the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games in order to avoid concerns among visitors from overseas.

February 2, 2019 Posted by | Fukushima continuing, politics, politics international, secrets,lies and civil liberties | Leave a comment

A new type of robot to probe inside damaged Fukushima nuclear reactor

Toshiba unveils robot to probe melted Fukushima nuclear fuel, WP, By Mari Yamaguchi | AP, January 28 YOKOHAMA, Japan — Toshiba Corp. unveiled a remote-controlled robot with tongs on Monday that it hopes will be able to probe the inside of one of the three damaged reactors at Japan’s tsunami-hit Fukushima nuclear plant and grip chunks of highly radioactive melted fuel.

The device is designed to slide down an extendable 11-meter (36-foot) long pipe and touch melted fuel inside the Unit 2 reactor’s primary containment vessel. The reactor was built by Toshiba and GE.

An earlier probe carrying a camera captured images of pieces of melted fuel in the reactor last year, and robotic probes in the two other reactors have detected traces of damaged fuel, but the exact location, contents and other details remain largely unknown.

Toshiba’s energy systems unit said experiments with the new probe planned in February are key to determining the proper equipment and technologies needed to remove the fuel debris, the most challenging part of the decommissioning process expected to take decades.

…….. The probe will mainly examine the fuel debris’ physical condition rather than its radioactive components or other details which require actual sampling and safe storage……. https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/asia_pacific/toshiba-unveils-robot-to-probe-melted-fukushima-nuclear-fuel/2019/01/28/4214f596-2314-11e9-b5b4-1d18dfb7b084_story.html?utm_term=.3bfe336cb31c

January 31, 2019 Posted by | Fukushima continuing | Leave a comment

A bit of good news – Radioactive Cesium-137 diminishing in 2 Fukushima rivers, after close to 8 years

January 29, 2019 Posted by | Fukushima continuing | 1 Comment

Greenpeace study slams Japan’s plan to dump radioactive Fukushima water into the ocean

 
Greenpeace slams Japan’s plan to dump radioactive Fukushima water into the oceanThe decision by the government and the tsunami-devastated plant’s operator to release contaminated water into the Pacific was ‘driven by short-term cost-cutting’, a new study has found, SCMP. Julian Ryall Tuesday, 22 January, 2019  Greenpeace has slammed a plan by the Japanese government and an electric utility company to release into the ocean highly radioactive water from the tsunami-devastated Fukushima Daiichi power plant, saying in a new report the decision was “driven by short-term cost-cutting”.

Released on Tuesday, the Greenpeace study condemns the decision taken after the disaster to not develop technology that could remove radioactivity from the groundwater, which continues to seep into the basement levels of three of the six nuclear reactors at Fukushima.

An estimated 1.09 million tonnes of water are presently stored in more than 900 tanks at the plant, which was destroyed by an earthquake and tsunami in March 2011, with up to 4,000 tonnes added every week.

The decision by the government and the plant’s operator, the Tokyo Electric Power Company (Tepco), to avoid developing the relevant technology “was motivated by short-term cost-cutting, not protection of the Pacific Ocean environment and of the health and livelihoods of communities along the Fukushima coast”, said Kazue Suzuki, campaigner on energy issues for Greenpeace Japan.

“We have raised the water crisis with the UN International Maritime Organisation and firmly stand with local communities, especially fisheries, who are strongly opposed to any plans to discharge contaminated water into their fishing grounds.”

The backlash against the plan jointly put forward by the government and Tepco began late last year after the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI) held public hearings in Tokyo and Fukushima designed to convince local people that releasing the water into the ocean would have no impact on marine or human life.

Anti-nuclear and environmental groups had obtained data leaked from government sources, however, that showed that the water was still contaminated, triggering public anger. Tepco was forced to admit late last year that its efforts to reduce radioactive material – known as radionuclides – in the water had failed.

The company had previously claimed that advanced processes had reduced cancer-causing contaminants such as strontium-90, iodine-129 and ruthenium-106 in the water to non-detectible levels.

Despite the much-vaunted Advanced Liquid Processing System (ALPS) plant at Fukushima, Tepco has confirmed that levels of strontium-90, for example, are more than 100 times above legally permitted levels in 65,000 tonnes of water that have already been through the ALPS system.

In one of the hearings, Tatsuhiko Sato, a resident of Naraha who only returned to his home last spring because of contamination from the nuclear accident, accused Tepco of “not gathering all the data” and failing to adequately investigate reports that dangerous levels of radionuclides were still in the water after it was treated.

Local fishermen used the public hearing to express their “strong opposition” to plans to release the water, with one, Tetsu Nozaki, pointing out that while levels of radiation in locally caught fish and shellfish have been at or below normal levels for the past three years, releasing contaminated water would “deal a fatal blow” to the local fishing industry.

There has also been anger in some nearby countries, with environmental groups demonstrating in Seoul in November and Korea Radioactive Watch declaring that releasing the water “will threaten the waters of South Korea and other neighbouring nations”.

………..The Greenpeace report concludes that the water crisis at the plant will remain unresolved for the foreseeable future – and that the only viable option to safeguard local communities and the environment is to continue to store the water.

“The Japanese government and Tepco set an objective of ‘solving’ the radioactive water crisis by 2020 – that was never credible,” said Shaun Burnie, a nuclear specialist with Greenpeace Germany.

“The reality is that there is no end to the water crisis at Fukushima, a crisis compounded by poor decision-making by both Tepco and the government. Discharging into the Pacific is the worst option and must be ruled out.”https://www.scmp.com/news/asia/east-asia/article/2183175/greenpeace-slams-japans-plan-dump-radioactive-fukushima-water

January 24, 2019 Posted by | Fukushima continuing | Leave a comment