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New submersion method in consideration for Fukushima debris cleanup

The Fukushima Daiichi nuclear complex is seen on Feb. 9, 2022. From left, the No. 4, No. 3, No. 2 and No. 1 reactors.

September 2, 2022

TOKYO (Kyodo) — The operator of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, which suffered core meltdowns in 2011, is considering a new submersion method for removing radioactive fuel debris that would wholly encase a reactor building in a water-filled, tank-like structure, a source close to the company said Thursday.

Conceptual breakthroughs with the method, whose advantages include using water’s ability to interrupt radiation and thereby provide a safer working environment, have made it a promising candidate for the cleanup of the defunct nuclear plant, according to the source close to Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings Inc.

But with no proven track record in the nuclear field, investigations are ongoing into future technological issues and costs, among other contingencies. The source said it could “require advanced technology to stop water leaking out and become a huge construction project.”

Were it to go ahead, the process from building to actual debris removal would be lengthy and would likely affect total decommissioning costs, currently pegged at about 8 trillion yen ($57.45 billion).

In the aftermath of the March 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake and tsunami, nuclear fuel cooling processes failed at the Fukushima plant’s reactors 1 through 3, causing the fuel to melt and resolidify into radioactive debris mixed with concrete, metal and other materials present in the reactors.

Debris removal is the operator’s most challenging issue in the Fukushima plant cleanup. Some 880 tons of the radioactive waste material is estimated to have been created by the nuclear meltdown across the three reactors.

The new submersion method, which is currently expected to be applied to the No. 3 reactor, would involve building a strong, pressure-resistant structure, such as a ship’s hull or a plane’s body, completely encapsulating the reactor, including underground.

The structure could then be filled with water, and removal work would take place from the top.

The operator initially considered a similar method to fill the reactor’s containment vessel with water. But the idea was abandoned due to potential difficulties fixing holes in the structure and the possibility it would increase workers’ exposure to radiation.

Preparations are being made to include the new submersion method in the 2022 edition of a strategic plan for decommissioning to be compiled by the state-backed Nuclear Damage Compensation and Decommissioning Facilitation Corp., which is helping the operator scrap the reactors.

In the case of the No. 2 reactor, preparations remain under way for its debris removal via a dry method, involving extracting the material without filling the reactor with water. The NDF intends to keep it as a potential option in its strategic plan.

While the No. 2 reactor’s cleanup was slated to begin this year, on Aug. 25, the government said removal work would be delayed a further 12 to 18 months to ensure safety and reliability.

The government and the power company are operating under a plan to complete debris removal and finish decommissioning work sometime between 2041 and 2051.

Amid the extensive cleanup in Fukushima, the Japanese government said on Aug. 24 that it is considering the construction of the next generation of nuclear plants amid an increasingly fraught energy supply environment and the country’s dependency on imported natural resources.

September 4, 2022 Posted by | Fuk 2022 | , , | Leave a comment

As Japan builds nuclear dumping facilities, Pacific groups say ‘stop’

September 1, 2022

Pacific civil society groups are calling on Japan to halt its plans to dump radioactive nuclear wastewater into the Pacific Ocean.

Earlier this month the Japanese government started building facilities needed for the discharge of treated, but still radioactive, wastewater from the defunct Fukushima nuclear power plant.

In a joint statement, civil society groups, non-governmental organisations and activists described the Fumio Kishida Government’s plans as a fundamental breach of Pacific peoples’ right to a clean, healthy and sustainable environment.

Joey Tau from the pan-Pacific movement Youngsolwara Pacific said this breaches Pacific peoples’ rights to live in a clean environment.

Tau told Pacific Waves the Pacific Ocean is already endangered and Japan’s plan will have devastating impacts.

“We have a nuclear testing legacy in the Pacific. That continues to impact our people, our islands and our way of life, and it impacts the health of our people.

“Having this plan by Japan poses greater risks to the ocean which is already in a declining state.

“The health of our ocean has declined due to human endured stresses and having this could aggravate the current state of our region.

“And also, there are possible threats on the lives of our people as we clearly understand in this part of the world, the ocean is dear to us, it sustains us,” Tau said.

Tau said both the opposition in Vanuatu and the president of the Federated States of Micronesia have expressed serious concerns at Japan’s plans, and the Pacific Islands Secretariat this year has appointed an international expert panel to advise the Forum Secretary-General and national leaders.

The Northern Marianas’ House of Representatives has also condemned Japan’s plan to dump the nuclear waste.

Tau said the plans should not proceed without the Pacific people being able to voice their concerns and being better advised.

September 4, 2022 Posted by | Fuk 2022 | , , , | Leave a comment

Fukushima Plants Showing ‘Unusual Growing Patterns’ as Residents Return

One more spin doctor well at work: despite biologist Tim Mousseau’s many fieldtrips to study very precisely the Fukushima radiation’s effects on flora and fauna, an unknown radiobiologist Carmel Mothersill comes out on Newsweek to minimize the risks of the well existing radiation effects on location stating that ‘there is a low risk to people and pets.’

An artwork titled “FUTABA”, a part of the Futaba Art District project is seen on a wall of a shuttered store on August 31, 2022, in Futaba, Fukushima, Japan.

August 31, 2022

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.

In 2011, the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant lost power during a tsunami and earthquake that hit Japan’s Pacific coast. This caused systems in three reactors to fail and the cores to overheat. Nuclear material then bored holes in each reactor, causing radiation to leak. This resulted in a series of explosions and a catastrophic nuclear disaster. The event is second only to Chernobyl as the worst nuclear disaster.

Over 300,000 people were forced to evacuate their homes, and an exclusion zone had to be created. Slowly, following remediation, areas have opened up again, meaning people can return. Recently, the town of Futaba lifted its evacuation order.

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.

“The biggest disruption to the environment was the remediation effort where all vegetation was removed and up to a meter of soil was also taken off to clean it up. But the damage to forests and meadows is terrible,” she said.

“The disruptions to everyday life caused by the accident were permanent for many of the residents, and this is unlikely to change soon for the most affected regions of Fukushima,” Mousseau said. “This is not so much because of persistent radiation per se but also because much of the infrastructure was damaged or destroyed and has deteriorated over the past decade.”

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.

“People are nervous and not happy to go back,” she said. But where people are living, radiation levels are very low, ‘meaning there is a low risk to people and pets.’

September 4, 2022 Posted by | Fuk 2022 | , , | Leave a comment

Midnight countdown held as evacuation order on Fukushima town lifted after 11 yrs

One of the organizers of the “okaeri project” event waves his hand after opening a door set up in front of JR Futaba Station in Futaba, Fukushima Prefecture, on Aug. 30, 2022.

August 30, 2022

FUTABA, Fukushima — People shouted, “Welcome back!” at the stroke of 12:00 a.m. on Aug. 30 to celebrate the lifting of evacuation orders here, 11-plus years after townspeople were barred from returning following the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant meltdowns.

The town of Futaba was one area designated as “difficult to return” due to fallout from the plant, which the town cohosts with the neighboring municipality of Okuma, Fukushima Prefecture. All Futaba residents were forced to evacuate to other parts of Japan after the March 2011 nuclear disaster at the power station run by Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings Inc.

After 11 years and five months, the town has been deemed habitable once more, with the establishment of a “Specified Reconstruction and Revitalization Base.” And to celebrate, resident volunteers organized the “okaeri (welcome back) project” event in the town center in front of Futaba Station, on the JR Joban Line. A countdown was held, and when the clock struck 12, organizers opened a pink wooden “door of hope” as the people there yelled, “Welcome back!”

About 2,000 candles were lit at the venue on the night of Aug. 29, creating a magical atmosphere. Futaba Mayor Shiro Izawa told the crowd, “I will dedicate myself to reconstruction work, so that it (Futaba) will become a town where people will be happy to come back to.”

September 4, 2022 Posted by | Fuk 2022 | , | Leave a comment

Evacuation order finally lifted for Fukushima nuclear plant town

The town of Futaba, which hosts the crippled Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant. An evacuation order for the town was lifted on Tuesday for the first time since the March 2011 disaster.

Aug 30, 2022

Fukushima – An evacuation order in a town hosting the crippled Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant was lifted Tuesday for the first time since the March 2011 disaster 11 years and five months ago, as the municipality prepares for the return of some of its residents.

The order for the Fukushima Prefecture town, which hosts the Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings Inc. complex, was imposed after the massive earthquake and tsunami hit the country’s northeast, triggering reactor meltdowns and making the area uninhabitable due to high radiation levels.

Futaba is the last municipality to see an evacuation order lifted among 11 municipalities subject to such orders in the wake of the disaster. Although residents are now allowed to return home, over 80% of the municipality, by acreage, remains designated as “difficult-to-return” zones.

The parts reopened for habitation are located near JR Futaba Station in the town’s previously downtown area and its northeast, where many commercial and public facilities, such as the Great East Japan Earthquake and Nuclear Disaster Memorial Museum, are located.

With relatively low radiation levels, people had been allowed to enter the northeastern area since March 2020 but not to reside there.

As of late July, 3,574 people from 1,449 households, or over 60% of the town’s population, were registered as residents of the two areas accounting for just 15% of Futaba’s total area.

But the number of residents who participated in a preparatory program started in January, allowing them to return temporarily, totaled just 85 people from 52 households.

Following the disaster, most of the town’s residents were evacuated outside the prefecture, along with the town office’s functions. A number of them have since settled outside the town.

While Futaba aims to increase its population to 2,000 by around 2030, a survey of residents last year found that 60.5% had decided not to return, far exceeding the 11.3% who expressed a desire to return.

As for areas other than those that are reopening or scheduled to reopen, the government plans to decontaminate individual locations after confirming that residents intend to return. Futaba and Okuma, a neighboring town to the south that also hosts the crippled power station, are expected to start such work in fiscal 2024.

Although the government said last August it is aiming for the return of residents to areas outside reconstruction and revitalization bases by the end of the decade, the prospects are unclear as areas covering over 300 square kilometers in seven municipalities of the prefecture are designated as difficult-to-return zones.

In Okuma and Futaba, the return of such residents is likely to occur around fiscal 2025 or 2026 at the earliest, considering the time needed for infrastructure building, according to a government official.

Earlier this month, Futaba Mayor Shiro Izawa asked industry minister Yasutoshi Nishimura to “show a road map toward decontamination of the entire area” when he visited Fukushima after assuming the ministerial post.

Fukushima Gov. Masao Uchibori also pointed out that “the steps and scope of decontamination, as well as how to treat the homes and land of those who do not wish to return, have not been worked out.”

The evacuation order was lifted a day after Futaba celebrated the reopening of a residential police box located approximately 3 km northwest of the nuclear plant in the municipality.

The police box, which will house one officer, was shuttered immediately after the nuclear disaster.

“I would like to support the town by keeping the peace here so residents can return feeling secure,” said Hirotaka Umemiya, 40, as he began his duties in the town.

A separate ceremony was held Saturday for the opening of Futaba’s new town office, which was temporarily located in the neighboring city of Iwaki, with its operations set to start Sept. 5.

Three nuclear reactors on the Okuma side of the Fukushima No. 1 complex suffered meltdowns, while the two reactors on the Futaba side was unscathed.

September 4, 2022 Posted by | Fuk 2022 | , | Leave a comment

More data needed before ocean release of Fukushima water

The full extent of the nuclear isotopes in the damaged plant’s tanks requires more study

There is insufficient information to assess the potential impact that releasing into the ocean contaminated water stored at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant will have on the environment and human health.

by Ken Buesseler, Ferenc Dalnoki-Veress, Antony M. Hooker, Arjun Makhijani and Robert H. Richmond

August 26, 2022

The Nuclear Regulatory Authority last month announced its approval for the discharge of more than 1 million tons of contaminated water from the crippled Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant directly into the ocean.

Japan’s nuclear regulator has stated that this can be done safely and the International Atomic Energy Agency has supported this position. We would argue that there is insufficient information to assess potential impacts on environmental and human health and issuing a permit at this time would be premature at best.

Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings Inc., the plant’s operator, is taking this step as part of the decommissioning and cleanup process of the plant. Every day, more than 150 tons of water accumulates at the site due to groundwater leakage into buildings and the systems used to cool the damaged reactors. The water is currently stored in more than 1,000 tanks at the site and what to do with their ever-increasing number has been a topic of concern for many years.

The justification for ocean discharge focuses largely on the assumed levels of radioactivity from tritium, a radioactive form of hydrogen that cannot be easily removed by an advanced liquid processing system, which is used for treating the contaminated water. To reduce tritium to levels that will be 1/40th of the regulatory standards, dilution of the tank water with seawater has been proposed prior to release. However, tritium is only part of the story, and a full assessment of all of the water contaminants stored in tanks at the site has yet to be made and verified by independent parties.

Our specific concerns include the adequacy, accuracy and reliability of the available data. A key measure of safety is a risk factor that combines the activities of more than 60 radioactive contaminants — the so-called sum of ratios approach. However, only a small subset of these radioactive contaminants — seven to 10 of them, including tritium — have been regularly measured. The assumption is that this subset alone will reflect the possible risks and the other contaminants are at constant levels. We disagree with this approach, as the data show wide variability in the contaminant concentrations between tanks, as well as differences in their relative amounts.

For example, some tanks low in tritium are high in strontium-90 and vice versa. Thus, the assumption that concentrations of the other radionuclides are constant is not correct and a full assessment of all 62 radioisotopes is needed to evaluate the true risk factors.

Moreover, only roughly a quarter of the more than 1,000 tanks at the site have been analyzed. This combined with the large variability among tanks, means that final dilution rates for tritium and the cleanup necessary for all contaminants are not well known. By Tepco’s own estimates, almost 70% of the tanks will need additional cleanup but that estimate is uncertain until all of the tanks are assessed.

The bottom line is that it is impossible to engineer and assess the impact of any release plan without first knowing what is in the tanks. The actual cost and duration of the project, as well as the amount of dilution needed, all depend upon the accuracy and thoroughness of the data. For example, the amount of seawater needed, and hence the time to release, will depend directly upon dilution factors.

Tepco stated in its radiological impact assessment that to meet its requirements, dilution will be needed by a factor “greater than 100.” In fact, the dilution rate we calculate is 250 on average and more than 1,000 times for many of the tanks where analyses are available. Scaling to those higher averages and extremes would increase capacity needs, costs and overall duration of the releases. In addition, comparisons against other possible disposal options — such as vapor release, using enhanced tritium removal technologies, geological burial or the storage option we suggest below — cannot be made without a better assessment of the current tank contents.

Even for tritium, its high levels are not adequately addressed, as it is assumed to be present only in inorganic form as tritiated water. However, there are also organically bound forms of tritium (OBT) that undergo a higher degree of binding to organic material. OBT has been found in the environment at other nuclear sites and is known to be more likely stored in marine sediments or bioaccumulated in marine biota. As such, predictions of the fate of tritium in the ocean need to include OBT as well as the more predictable inorganic form in tritiated water. Tepco has yet to do this.

The focus on tritium also neglects the fact that the nontritium radionuclides are generally of greater health concern as evidenced by their much higher dose coefficient — a measure of the dose, or potential human health impacts associated with a given radioactive element, relative to its measured concentration, or radioactivity level. These more dangerous radioactive contaminants have higher affinities for local accumulation after release in seafloor sediments and marine biota. The old (and incorrect) belief that the “solution to pollution is dilution” fails when identifying exposure pathways that include these other bioaccumulation pathways.

Although statements have been made that all radioactivity levels will meet regulatory requirements and be consistent with accepted practices, the responsible parties have not yet adequately demonstrated that they can bring levels below regulatory thresholds. Rebuilding trust would take cleanup of all of the tanks and then independently verifying that nontritium contaminants have been adequately removed, something the operator has not been able to do over the past 11 years. Post-discharge monitoring will not prevent problems from occurring, but simply identify them when they do occur.

As announced, the release of contaminated material from the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant would take at least 40 years, and decades longer if you include the anticipated accumulation of new water during the process. This would impact not only the interests and reputation of the Japanese fishing community, among others, but also the people and countries of the entire Pacific region. This needs to be considered as a transboundary and transgenerational issue.

Our oceans provide about half of the oxygen we breathe and store almost one-third of the carbon dioxide we emit. They provide food, jobs, energy, global connectivity, cultural connections, exquisite beauty and biodiversity. Thus, any plan for the deliberate release of potentially harmful materials needs to be carefully evaluated and weighed against these important ocean values. This is especially true when contaminated material is being released that would be widely distributed and accumulated by marine organisms.

The Fukushima nuclear power plant disaster is not the first such incident, nor will it be the last. The challenge presented by this present situation is also an opportunity to improve responses and chart a better way forward than to dump the problem into the sea. Moreover, even accepted practices and guidelines require much more thorough preoperational analysis and preparation than is in evidence so far.

We conclude that the present plan does not provide the assurance of safety needed for people’s health or for sound stewardship of the ocean. We have reached this conclusion as members of an expert panel engaged by the Pacific Island Forum, a regional organization comprising 18 countries. However, we have penned this commentary in our individual capacities and our views may or may not be shared by the forum secretariat or its members.

The recent decision to support the release by the Nuclear Regulation Authority is surprising and concerning. In addition, the International Atomic Energy Agency should withhold its support for the release without these issues being resolved. Once the discharge commences, the opportunity to examine total costs and weigh the ocean discharge option against other alternatives will have been lost.

It has been stated that there is an urgency to release this contaminated water because the plant operator is running out of space on site. We disagree on this point as well, as once the tanks are cleaned up as promised, storage in earthquake-safe tanks within and around the Fukushima facility is an attractive alternative. Given tritium’s 12.3-year half-life for radioactive decay, in 40 to 60 years, more than 90% of the tritium will have disappeared and risks significantly reduced.

This is the moment for scientific rigor. An absence of evidence of harm is not evidence that harm will not occur, it simply demonstrates critical gaps in essential knowledge. Having studied the scientific and ecological aspects of the matter, we have concluded that the decision to release the contaminated water should be indefinitely postponed and other options for the tank water revisited until we have more complete data to evaluate the economic, environmental and human health costs of ocean release.

Ken Buesseler is a senior scientist at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution and director of the Center for Marine and Environmental Radioactivity. Ferenc Dalnoki-Veress is scientist-in-residence at the Middlebury Institute of International Studies at Monterey. Antony M. Hooker is director of the Center for Radiation Research, Education and Innovation at the University of Adelaide. Arjun Makhijani is president of the Institute for Energy and Environmental Research. Robert H. Richmond is director of the Kewalo Marine Laboratory at the University of Hawaii at Manoa.

August 28, 2022 Posted by | Fuk 2022 | , , | Leave a comment

Number of evacuees from Fukushima Prefecture due to the nuclear power plant accident

Mr. Seiichi Nakate (right) handed a written request to the Reconstruction Agency at the House of Representatives building in Chiyoda Ward, Tokyo, on March 23.

August 23, 2022
On August 23, three groups of evacuees from Fukushima Prefecture requested the Reconstruction Agency not to exclude approximately 6,600 people from the number of evacuees from outside of Fukushima Prefecture due to the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant accident, because their whereabouts cannot be confirmed. The reduction in the number of evacuees in the statistics may lead to a trivialization of the damage caused by the nuclear power plant accident.
 The Reconstruction Agency compiles the number of evacuees based on the information that evacuees have reported to the municipalities where they have taken refuge. In some cases, such as when evacuees move away without notifying the local government, their whereabouts are lost. As a result of the survey conducted since last September, approximately 2,900 people’s whereabouts are unknown, and approximately 2,480 people have moved without notifying the municipality. In addition, a total of 6,604 people will be excluded from the evacuee statistics, including approximately 1,110 people who answered “will not return” in the survey.
 As of April, the number of out-of-prefecture evacuees was approximately 23,000, a decrease of more than 3,300 from January, as reports continue to follow this policy. The number is expected to continue to decrease as each municipality works to correct the situation.
 The request was made on this day by the National Association of Evacuees for the “Right to Evacuation” and others. Seiichi Nakate, 61, co-chairman of the association and an evacuee from Fukushima City to Sapporo City, said, “Even though I no longer have the intention to return, I am aware that I am an ‘evacuee. I cannot allow myself to be excluded by the government.” He handed the written request to a Reconstruction Agency official. The official explained that the exclusion would be made in order to match the actual situation of the evacuees, but that it would not affect the support measures.
 At the press conference, Nakate said, “Eleven years have passed since the accident, and the number of official support measures at the evacuation sites is decreasing every year. The evacuee statistics are the basis for all support measures, and I am concerned that they may lead to further reductions in support in the future. (Kenta Onozawa)

August 28, 2022 Posted by | Fuk 2022 | , , , | Leave a comment

Tepco considering delay to removing Fukushima nuclear debris

An Tokyo Electric Power Co (TEPCO) employee walks through the electric room in the refrigerator building at the company’s Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant in Okuma, Fukushima, Japan, February 23, 2017.

August 24, 2022

TOKYO, Aug 24 (Reuters) – Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings (Tepco) 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.

“Nothing has been decided at this point in time,” a Tepco spokesperson said in response to a request for comment from Reuters.

A huge tsunami hit the Tepco-operated Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant in 2011, causing three reactors to melt down and prompting over 160,000 people to evacuate. The damaged plant is currently being decommissioned.

August 28, 2022 Posted by | Fuk 2022 | , , | Leave a comment

Signatures submitted for “Hear the Plaintiffs” – Childhood Thyroid Cancer Trial

Aug. 23, 2022
Please allow all of the young plaintiffs to make a statement.”

On August 3, a support group for the plaintiffs in the 311 Childhood Thyroid Cancer Trial, who are suing Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO) for thyroid cancer caused by exposure to radiation as a result of the accident at TEPCO’s Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant, submitted a petition to the court asking for statements of opinion from all the plaintiffs. On February 2 and 3, a group of supporters of the plaintiffs submitted signatures to the court demanding that all plaintiffs make a statement of their opinions.

The signatures were submitted by the 311 Thyroid Cancer Children Support Network. The group submitted 6,395 signatures to the Tokyo District Court, which it had been calling for since June, demanding that all plaintiffs state their opinions and that the case be tried in “grand court. At a press conference held prior to the submission, attorney Kenjiro Kitamura stressed the importance of the statements of opinion, saying, “It is extremely important to hear directly from the plaintiffs themselves about the reality of the damage, including their suffering and thoughts.

Attorney Yuki Saito, who is in charge of the two plaintiffs, explained that the plaintiffs in this trial are of a relatively young generation, and that “the plaintiffs became ill when they were small children and suppressed their feelings so that their parents would not worry. He stated that it is extremely difficult to have multiple plaintiffs present their opinions on a single trial date because it takes a lot of effort just to prepare one plaintiff’s opinion statement.

After the opinion statements, the plaintiffs were able to talk about their feelings with each other.

A plaintiff who participated in the press conference also reflected, “Around the time I joined this trial, I rarely talked about my painful experiences and feelings to other people,” and added, “Plaintiff No. 2 spent two months last time (for the first oral argument) to talk about his suffering. After facing her suffering and putting it into words, and delivering her voice directly to the judge, she was able to learn about the feelings of others in similar situations, and she was able to talk about her feelings with other plaintiffs.” and expressed the plaintiffs’ thoughts and feelings

Attorney Kitamura commented that the plaintiffs, who had kept their minds closed, were beginning to face up to the damage they had suffered through the trial, “For them, it is like rubbing salt in the wound, but I think it is a necessary step for them to take a new step forward. He added, “No matter how painful it is, facing it is inherently redeeming.” He added emphatically, “I think it is absolutely necessary for us to really move forward from now on.”

August 28, 2022 Posted by | Fuk 2022 | , | Leave a comment

S. Korean researchers find ways to decontaminate radioactive water from Japan’s Fukushima nuclear plant

August 23, 2022

Plans by Japan to release wastewater from the devastated Fukushima nuclear power plant into the Pacific Ocean are fueling renewed interest in efforts to effectively eliminate radioactive elements.
Well researchers here appear to be have made some remarkable advances to that end.
Shin Ye-eun has details.

“In a few months, we may see coasts like where I’m at right now contaminated with nuclear waste.
That’s because Japan’s Nuclear Regulation Authority has given the green light to release radioactive water from the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant starting next spring.
Though the Japanese government said it would dilute the water so tritium levels fall below what’s considered dangerous, neighboring countries like South Korea and China have expressed concerns.
That’s why a group of researchers here in the country has decided to take action.
They’ve found a way to get rid of harmful, radioactive elements like iodine from the sea.
Let’s go find out how.”

The Korea Atomic Energy Research Institute took the initiative in 2019.
In just three years, they have accomplished what other researchers around the world couldn’t.
They found a way to selectively remove radioactive iodine from water.

What did the trick was coating magnetic iron nanoparticles with platinum.
Because platinum sticks well to iodine, it can suck the radioactive particles out.
Being able to selectively remove radioactive elements is set to be a game changer.

“We’ve now found a way to easily and efficiently save the earth. Unlike other adsorbents out there, ours can be used up to 1-hundred times. Because we’re able to selectively get rid of radioactive iodine, the cleaned-up water can still be of use.”

The latest development can also be used at hospitals, to clean up radioactive waste from anticancer drugs.
It can also selectively extract natural iodine, which is used to make medicine.
The team leader said more developments are on the way.

“Right now, we’re only able to decontaminate 20 liters of water at once. We hope we can expand the maximum capacity before this development gets commercialized. We’re also working on extracting other radioactive elements like caesium.”

“Once this technology is commercialized, South Korea will be one of the first countries in the world to suck out millions of tons worth of iodine from the sea.

August 28, 2022 Posted by | Fuk 2022 | , , , | Leave a comment

Respite for Japan as radioactive water accumulation slows in Fukushima

Isn’t it a strange coincidence that at the time Tepco is forcing down our throat its plan to dump its “tainted” water into our sea it is now announcing that it has managed to reduce its “tainted” water accumulation, they really think that we are that stupid to not see through their lies, that after 12 years of repeated lies!!!

This photo taken from a Kyodo News helicopter in February 2022 shows tanks used to store treated water on the premises of the crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant in Fukushima Prefecture.

August 20, 2022

TOKYO (Kyodo) — Tanks containing treated water at the crippled Fukushima nuclear power plant are likely to reach capacity around the fall of 2023, later than the initially predicted spring of next year, as the pace of the accumulation of radioactive water slowed in fiscal 2021.

The slowdown, based on an estimate by operator Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings Inc., gives some breathing space to Prime Minister Fumio Kishida’s government if any roadblocks are thrown up in the plan to discharge the treated water into the sea starting around spring next year.

China and South Korea as well as local fishing communities that fear reputational damage to their products remain concerned and have expressed opposition to the plan.

About 1.30 million tons of treated water has accumulated at the Fukushima Daiichi plant following the 2011 nuclear disaster, and it is inching closer to the capacity of 1.37 million tons.

The water became contaminated after being pumped in to cool melted reactor fuel at the plant and has been accumulating at the complex, also mixing with rainwater and groundwater.

According to the plan, the water — treated through an advanced liquid processing system, or ALPS, that removes radionuclides except for tritium — will be released 1-kilometer off the Pacific coast of the plant through an underwater pipe.

The International Atomic Energy Agency has been conducting safety reviews of the discharge plan and Director General Rafael Grossi says the U.N. nuclear watchdog will support Japan before, during and after the release of the water, based on science.

An IAEA task force, established last year, is made up of independent and highly regarded experts with diverse technical backgrounds from various countries including China and South Korea.

Japan’s new industry minister Yasutoshi Nishimura says the government and TEPCO will go ahead with the discharge plan around the spring of 2023 and stresses the two parties will strengthen communication with local residents and fishermen, as well as neighboring countries, to win their understanding.

Beijing and Seoul are among the 12 countries and regions that still have restrictions on food imports from Japan imposed in the wake of the massive earthquake and tsunami triggered nuclear meltdowns at the Fukushima plant in March 2011.

“We will improve our communication methods so we can convey information backed by scientific evidence to people both at home and abroad more effectively,” Nishimura said after taking up the current post in a Cabinet reshuffle Wednesday.

Kishida instructed Nishimura to focus on the planned discharge of ALPS-treated water that will be diluted with seawater to one-40th of the maximum concentration of tritium permitted under Japanese regulations, according to the chief of the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry.

The level is lower than the World Health Organization’s recommended maximum tritium limit for drinking water.

TEPCO will cap the total amount of tritium to be released into the sea as well.

Meanwhile, the Kishida government has decided to set up a 30 billion yen ($227 million) fund to support the fisheries industry and said it will buy seafood if demand dries up due to harmful rumors.

Fishing along the coast of Fukushima Prefecture, known for high-quality seafood, has been recovering from the reputational damage caused by the nuclear accident but the catch volume in 2021 was only about 5,000 tons, or about 20 percent of 2010 levels.

Construction of discharge facilities at the Fukushima plant started in August, while work to slow the infiltration of rain and groundwater was also conducted.

TEPCO said it was able to reduce the pace of accumulation of contaminated water by fixing the roof of a reactor building and cementing soil slopes around the facilities, among other measures, to prevent rainwater penetration.

The volume of radioactive water decreased some 20 tons a day from a year earlier to about 130 tons per day in fiscal 2021, according to the ministry.

The projected timeline to reach the tank capacity has been calculated based on the assumption that about 140 tons of contaminated water will be generated per day, according to METI.

However, storage tanks could still reach their capacity around the summer of next year if heavy precipitation or some unexpected events occur, the ministry said.

As part of preparations for the planned discharge, the Environment Ministry has started measuring tritium concentration at 30 locations on the surface of the sea and seabed around the Fukushima plant, four times a year.

Similarly, the Nuclear Regulation Authority has increased the number of locations it monitors tritium levels by eight to 20. The Fisheries Agency has started measuring tritium concentration in marine products caught along the Pacific coast stretching from Hokkaido to Chiba Prefecture.

Given that it is expected to take several decades to complete the release of treated water, NRA and METI officials urged TEPCO to further curb the generation of contaminated water at the plant.

“We want TEPCO to step up efforts so as to lower the volume of the daily generation of contaminated water to about 100 tons or lower by the end of 2025,” a METI official said.

August 21, 2022 Posted by | Fuk 2022 | , , | Leave a comment

Japan’s industry minister visits crippled Fukushima plant amid controversial plan to dump radioactive wastewater into sea

August 18, 2022

TOKYO, Aug. 18 (Xinhua) — Japan’s industry minister visited the crippled Fukushima nuclear power plant Thursday to see the extent of the damage caused by the March 2011 tsunami-triggered nuclear disaster, and assess the complications still facing the plant and its decommissioning efforts.

During his visit, Yasutoshi Nishimura, who received his new ministerial portfolio in a cabinet reshuffle last week, was also scheduled to hold talks with officials from Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings Inc. (TEPCO), the operator of the plant, and meet with local government officials.

His visit was made amid a myriad of challenges facing the plant including from a controversial plan for radioactive wastewater to be discharged into the Pacific Ocean.

The mayors of two towns hosting the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant have urged the central government to take steps to protect the reputation of the region’s marine products under the plan to dump radioactive water from the plant into the sea.

Fukushima Governor Masao Uchibori believes the contentious plan has not earned enough understanding from the Japanese people and residents of the prefecture, as there are still various opinions including concerns over renewed reputational damage.

Okuma Mayor Jun Yoshida, meanwhile, has voiced concerns that the already maligned region will once again have its reputation damaged, and also urged the central government to take steps to prevent damage to the northeast region’s reputation.

Under the plan, the water, which contains hard-to-remove radioactive tritium as a result of being used to cool down melted nuclear fuel at the stricken plant, will be discharged through an underwater tunnel one kilometer off the Pacific coast into the ocean after being treated.

The plant had its key cooling functions knocked out after being battered by a massive earthquake-triggered tsunami over a decade ago, resulting in the worst nuclear crisis since Chernobyl in 1986.

The tainted water being stored in tanks at the plant is expected to reach capacity next year and the lengthy process of then dumping the radioactive water into the ocean is projected by TEPCO to take several decades, beginning next spring.

Japan’s fisheries industry, for instance, has maintained its ardent opposition to the plan, as it will almost certainly cause further damage to the industry’s reputation in the region.

A number of countries and regions continue to impose restrictions on Japanese agricultural and fishery products as a result of the initial Fukushima crisis amid continued concerns about the safety of the produce.

Japan’s controversial plan to dump radioactive wastewater into the Pacific ocean has raised concerns from the international community, including from Japan’s neighbors, over its impacts on the global marine environment and the public health of Pacific-rim countries. The Japanese side has been asked to earnestly fulfill its due international obligations, dispose of the nuclear-contaminated water in a science-based, open, transparent and safe manner, and stop pushing through the plan to discharge the water into ocean.

August 21, 2022 Posted by | Fuk 2022 | , , , | Leave a comment

Japan’s industry minister inspects crippled Fukushima nuclear plant

Another euphemism, “concerns”, not concerns just plain opposition. Damn hypocrites!

Japanese industry minister Yasutoshi Nishimura (L) inspects the crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant in Fukushima Prefecture on Aug. 18, 2022.

Aug 18, 2022 Japan’s industry minister Yasutoshi Nishimura inspected the crippled Fukushima nuclear power plant Thursday, his first visit since assuming the position last week, to assess the progress of decommissioning and the ongoing challenges stemming from the March 2011 nuclear disaster. Nishimura met with officials of Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings Inc., operator of the Fukushima Daiichi plant, and chiefs of local governments and the prefectural assembly, as his ministry faces multiple challenges such as a plan to discharge treated water containing trace amounts of tritium into the sea.

“I will give my best in gaining understanding on safety (of the discharge plan) and preventing reputational damage” to local businesses, Nishimura said at a meeting with Fukushima Gov. Masao Uchibori, which was partly open to the press.

Nishimura was named as chief of the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry in the Aug. 10 Cabinet reshuffle.

Earlier in the month, local government chiefs from the prefecture called on the central government to take measures to prevent reputational damage to local businesses selling marine products, a key concern among the fisheries industry which opposes the discharge expected to begin next spring.

The request was made by the mayors of Okuma and Futaba, the two towns hosting the Fukushima plant, and the Fukushima governor during a meeting in Tokyo with Nishimura’s predecessor Koichi Hagiuda, now chairman of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party’s Policy Research Council.

The local government heads have also urged the central government to create an environment where marine products are traded at fair prices so that residents, particularly young people, can operate competitive businesses.

According to the discharge plan, the water — treated through a processing system that removes radionuclides except for tritium — will be released 1-kilometer off the Pacific coast of the plant through an underwater pipe.

While construction of discharge facilities is under way following approval of the plan by the Nuclear Regulation Authority, neighboring China continues to oppose the release of the treated water.

South Korea has also expressed concerns over the plan.

August 21, 2022 Posted by | Fuk 2022 | , , , | Leave a comment

Japan’s plan for radioactive water defies international law

August 21, 2022

By Duncan E. J. Currie and Shaun Burnie

Millions of tons of highly contaminated water from Fukushima Daiichi being discharged into the Pacific Ocean not only poses a threat to humans and the environment, but also raises questions on how the decision by the Japanese government relates to international law.

What we conclude is that the decision by the Japanese government to treat and then release radioactive water at Fukushima into the ocean would pose a direct threat to the marine environment, including that of the jurisdictional waters of the Korean peninsula. As such, Japan would be in breach of its obligations as defined under international environmental law, including the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS).

Consequently, the Korean government has the legal right to oppose the discharging of radioactive water from the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant.

The discharge of radioactive materials into the marine environment from the nuclear plant will inevitably increase marine species’ exposure to radioactivity, with the exact level of exposure depending on multiple variables. The concentrations in biota are of direct relevance to those who may consume them, including marine species, and ultimately, humans.

The one million tons of highly contaminated water stored in nearly 1000 tanks at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant currently contain concentrations of radioactive tritium much higher than is permitted by Japanese regulation for discharge into the ocean. One principle concern is that the high relative biological effectiveness (RBE) of tritium’s beta radiation, its ability to bind with cell constituents to form organically-bound tritium (OBT) and its short-range beta particle, mean that it can damage DNA.

The water also contains other radionuclides in addition to tritium, including the very hazardous Strontium-90. Strontium-90 poses a major health risk as it is absorbed by the body in a similar manner to calcium, where it increases the risk of developing leukemia.

A further major problem is that the processing technology used at Fukushima Daiichi ― specifically the Advanced Liquid Processing System (ALPS) ― failed to operate effectively, and therefore around 800,000 tons of the water contains even higher amounts of radioactive material, including Sr-90. There are an estimated 30,000 Megabecquerels of Strontium90 in the storage tanks.

To give some perspective on this amount of strontium-90 ― it is what an average Pressurized Water Reactor would discharge in its liquid waste if it were to operate for 120,000 years. This is more than half the number of years humans have inhabited the earth. Even more threatening is that these discharges are only a small fraction of the radioactive inventory of what remains at the destroyed nuclear site. Most Strontium-90 still remains in the molten cores at the site ― an amount 17.3 million times more than would be released under the Japanese government’s plans for the contaminated water. And there are many other radionuclides present in the contaminated water with even longer half-lives ― the time is takes for one-half of the radioactive material to decay ― including iodine-129, which has a half-life of 13 million years.

For South Korea, the impacts of this radiation exposure are of great importance to its fishing communities, the wider population and the government. The toxic cocktail of radionuclides from Fukushima Daiichi will rapidly disperse through the strong coastal currents along Japan’s Pacific coast, and enter the East Sea via the East China Sea, including the waters of the Korean peninsula. We know this as a result of sea water sampling following the March 2011 nuclear disaster.

In addition to the requirements under the U.N. International Maritime Organization (IMO), Japan is required to comply with international law that prohibits significant trans-boundary environmental harm, both to the territory of other States and to areas beyond national jurisdiction. Before any discharge into the Pacific Ocean, Japan is required to conduct an Environment Impact Assessment under Article 206 of UNCLOS. International radio-protection principles require that a decision to increase radioactivity in the environment must be justified, and if there is a viable alternative ― in this case long-term storage ― it cannot be justified.

There never was a rationale for further, deliberate radioactive pollution of the marine environment from Fukushima Daiichi. In the interests of protection of that environment as well as public safety, and to ensure compliance with its international legal obligations, the only acceptable way forward for the Japanese government is to terminate its discharge plans. There is a clear alternative to discharging over one million tons of highly contaminated water into the environment, which is to securely store the water in robust tanks for the long term (hundreds of years). In parallel, the best available technology should be applied for further processing to remove all radionuclides.

Duncan Currie is a practicing international and environmental lawyer. He has practiced international law and environmental law for nearly thirty years, and over that time has advised NGOs, corporations and governments on a wide range of environmental issues including the law of the sea, nuclear and waste issues.

Shaun Burnie is a senior nuclear specialist with Greenpeace Germany, with much of his time based in Japan. He has worked on nuclear issues in Asia, the former Soviet Union, Europe, North and South America and the Middle East for 35 years. He worked against the operation of the TEPCO Fukushima Daiichi reactors since 1997.

August 21, 2022 Posted by | Fuk 2022 | , , , , | Leave a comment

EDITORIAL: TEPCO must be candid on plan to discharge “tainted” water into ocean

Tainted, what an euphemism!

Storage tanks at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant hold tons of radiation-contaminated water.

August 17, 2022

Radiation-contaminated water is still being produced in the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant operated by Tokyo Electric Power Co.

Progress is being made on the government’s plan to release treated water into the ocean, and local governments have approved the construction of pertinent facilities.

However, local opposition to the project remains fierce, particularly from the fisheries industry.

The central government and TEPCO must spare no effort to thoroughly explain the project to the parties concerned, as well as to the rest of the nation and the world.

At the crippled plant, groundwater is continuing to mix into cooling water for melted nuclear fuel, raising the volume of radiation-contaminated water by about 130 tons a day.

The contaminated water is treated to remove most of its radioactive content and is kept in storage tanks.

But with the existing tanks now nearly full, the government decided in spring last year to dilute the stored water with seawater and discharge it into the sea, fearing that building more storage tanks could affect post-disaster recovery work.

TEPCO is currently proceeding with preparations for the offshore discharge about 1 kilometer from the plant.

The Nuclear Regulation Authority approved the plan last month, saying it saw no safety issues.

NRA Chairman Toyoshi Fuketa told a news conference, “While I recognize opposition to the plan, the offshore discharge (of treated water) cannot be avoided if we are to proceed with the decommissioning of reactors.”

Residual tritium in the treated water is released into the sea by active nuclear power stations in and outside Japan.

The government’s plan is to dilute the tritium content to less than one-40th of the national standard, and keep the annual release volume below the pre-accident level.

The International Atomic Energy Agency noted in its report in April to the effect that the radiological impact on the public was expected to be very low and significantly below the level set by the Japanese regulatory body.  

The Fukushima prefectural government and the municipal governments of Okuma and Futaba–which co-host the Fukushima No. 1 plant–approved the construction of discharge facilities in early August.

Two days later, TEPCO advanced the project to the phase of actual construction of an undersea tunnel through which the treated water will be released into the ocean.

But the local fisheries industry and other opponents of the project are not yielding an inch. They claim that even though the radiation level is below the required safety standard, anything that is being discharged from the crippled plant cannot be considered completely safe and can cause damage due to rumors or misinformation.

In fact, when the NRA solicited opinions from the public, all sorts of questions and negative comments were sent in.

In 2015, the government and TEPCO promised the fishing industry that “no treated water will ever be discharged without the understanding of the parties concerned.” This is the kind of promise they must not be allowed to renege on.

TEPCO says that it fully understands the “importance of explaining everything thoroughly” and will provide information on its official website. Of course, the company must be completely open and be willing to answer questions.

But its trustworthiness is suspect, as the utility proceeded with its tunnel construction project as soon as it was approved by the local governments.

If TEPCO genuinely wants the understanding of the parties concerned, it must listen directly to people’s questions and opposing views and strive to keep up the conversation. 

As if causing an unprecedented nuclear disaster at Fukushima wasn’t bad enough, the damage compensations that TEPCO made to victims were hardly generous, and the company even kept up wrongful practices at its other nuclear power stations.

Unless TEPCO makes every imaginable effort, we doubt it will ever be able to build a relationship of trust with local communities.

It is time for the utility’s president and top executives to consider holding candid, face-to-face meetings with fisheries industry representatives and local residents.

August 21, 2022 Posted by | Fuk 2022 | , , , | Leave a comment