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Fukushima Radioactive Water: Towards Environmental Release

Translated from french by Hervé Courtois (D’un Renard)

 

une-quantite-massive.jpgA massive amount of radioactive water is stored on the grounds of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant site ravaged by the tsunami of March 2011.

 

December 24, 2019
The decision is not expected to be announced before the Tokyo Olympics next summer, given the diplomatic risk. Japan is expected to face strong opposition.

Releasing the radioactive water from the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant to the environment (in the sea or in the air) is the only option left since experts have ruled out long-term storage, Japanese officials say.

“The option of simple long-term storage is no longer being considered,” said a state official who wished to remain anonymous. And to clarify that the government’s ambition is to make room for Fukushima Daiichi: once the reactors are demolished and the site cleaned, there should be nothing left, including no water tanks still containing at least tritium.

A massive amount of radioactive water is stored within the confines of this site devastated by the tsunami of March 2011. It comes from rain, groundwater or injections necessary to cool the hearts of reactors that have melted. Filtered several times, it ‘should’ ultimately be rid of a large amount of radionuclides, except tritium, ‘considered’ less dangerous for the environment and living beings.

A water still heavily loaded

Long-term storage, which was recommended by environmental organizations like Greenpeace, being no longer validated, three options remain considered the most feasible, from a technical and economic point of view: dilution at sea, evaporation in the air or a combination of the two.

Experts, including those from the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), have been pushing for dilution at sea for years. But this is not feasible at the moment because, as recognized by the company Tokyo Electric Power (Tepco), a large part of this water is still heavily loaded with radioactive elements dangerous for the food chain.

Tepco estimates, however, that the tanks will be full in 2022.

A final decision should not be made before the Tokyo Olympics in the summer of 2020, given the diplomatic risk. A government subcommittee responsible for the file is thus studying not only the technical implications, but also the potential damage to the country’s image abroad.

Japan is set to face strong opposition, already expressed, from fishermen and farmers in the region, as well as from environmental groups and neighboring countries, starting with South Korea. Seoul did not digest a previous decision to dump radioactive water packages into the sea immediately after the Fukushima accident, without asking its advice.

https://www.sudouest.fr/2019/12/24/eau-contaminee-de-fukushima-vers-un-rejet-dans-l-environnement-6993764-706.php?fbclid=IwAR1F2iWkQMIdhZR3smVVeHAgrkYNt5whKihj0dDnP29wL5WhYn-wsQA8uw8

 

December 30, 2019 Posted by | fukushima 2019 | , , | Leave a comment

Video release of Fukushima Daiichi  Unit 3 – High radiation

Images of the interior of the damaged reactor 3 building  taken by the man on December 12th 2019, have just been made public. Up to 30 millisievert / h on the 3rd floor.

December 30, 2019 Posted by | fukushima 2019 | , , , | Leave a comment

Removal of spent nuclear fuel at Fukushima No. 1 delayed up to five years

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Dec 27, 2019
The government decided Friday to delay the removal of spent fuel from the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant’s Nos. 1 and 2 reactors by up to five years, casting doubt on whether it can stick to its time frame for dismantling the crippled complex.
The process of removing the spent fuel from the units’ pools had previously been scheduled to begin in fiscal 2023.
In its latest decommissioning plan, the government said the plant’s operator, Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings Inc., will not begin the roughly two-year process at the No. 1 unit at least until fiscal 2027 and may wait until fiscal 2028.
Work at the No. 2 unit is now slated to start between fiscal 2024 and fiscal 2026, it said.
The delay is necessary to take further safety precautions, such as the construction of an enclosure around the No. 1 unit to prevent the spread of radioactive dust and the decontamination of the No. 2 unit, the government said. It is the fourth time it has revised its schedule for removing the spent fuel rods.
“It’s a very difficult process and it’s hard to know what to expect. The most important thing is the safety of the workers and the surrounding area,” industry minister Hiroshi Kajiyama told a news conference.
The government set a new goal of finishing the removal of the 4,741 spent fuel rods across all six of the plant’s reactors by fiscal 2031.
Tepco has started the process at the No. 3 unit and already finished at the No. 4 unit, which was off-line for regular maintenance at the time of the disaster. A schedule has yet to be set for the Nos. 5 and 6 reactors.
While the government maintained its overarching time frame of finishing the decommissioning of the plant 30 to 40 years from the 2011 crisis triggered by a magnitude 9.0 earthquake and tsunami, there may be further delays.
The government said it will begin removing fuel debris in fiscal 2021 from the three reactors that experienced core meltdowns, starting with the No. 2 unit.
The process, considered the most difficult part of the decommissioning plan, will involve using a robot arm to initially remove small amounts of debris, and later take out larger amounts.
The government also said it will aim to reduce the pace at which contaminated water at the plant increases. Water for cooling the melted cores, mixed with underground water, amounts to around 170 tons per day. That number will be reduced to 100 tons by 2025, it said.
The water is being treated to remove the most radioactive materials and stored in tanks on the plant’s grounds, but already more than 1 million tons have been collected and space is expected to run out by the summer of 2022.

December 30, 2019 Posted by | fukushima 2019 | , | Leave a comment

Japan revises Fukushima cleanup plan, delays key steps

By MARI YAMAGUCHI
December 27, 2019
TOKYO (AP) — Japan on Friday revised a roadmap for the cleanup of the tsunami-wrecked Fukushima nuclear plant, further delaying the removal of thousands of spent fuel units that remain in cooling pools since the 2011 disaster. It’s a key step in the decadeslong process, complicated by high radiation and other risks. The government and the plant operator, Tokyo Electric Power Co., are keeping a 30- to 40-year completion target.
A look at some of the challenges:
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MORE THAN 4,700 UNITS OF FUEL IN POOLS
More than 4,700 units of fuel rods remain at the three melted reactors and two others that survived the 2011 earthquake and tsunami. They pose a high risk because their storage pools are uncovered and a loss of water in case of another major disaster could cause the fuel rods to melt, releasing massive radiation. Their removal at Units 1 and 2, after repeated delays, is now postponed by up to 10 years from the initial target of 2018, with more preparation needed to reduce radiation and clear debris and other risks.
Fuel rod removal at the Unit 1 reactor pool will begin sometime in 2027-2028, after debris is cleaned up and a huge rooftop cover installed to contain radioactive dust. Fuel removal at Unit 2 pool is to begin in 2024-2026. Work at the Unit 3 reactor pool began in April 2019 and all 566 units will be removed by March 2021. TEPCO has emptied the pool at Unit 4, which was offline and only suffered building damage, and aims to have all remaining rods in reactor pools removed by 2031 for safer storage in dry casks.
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1.2 MILLION TONS OF RADIOACTIVE WATER
TEPCO has been unable to release the 1.2 million tons of treated but still radioactive water kept in nearly 1,000 tanks at the plant, fearing public repercussions and the impact on the area’s struggling fishing and agriculture. The amount of water is growing by 170 tons daily because it is used to cool the melted fuel inside the reactors.
The Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry recently drafted a proposal to release the water to the sea or the air, or a combination of both. TEPCO says it can only store up to 1.37 million tons, or until the summer of 2022. Time is limited because preparation is needed before any water release. TEPCO and the government say the tanks pose risks if they were to spill their contents in another major earthquake, tsunami or flood. They also need to free up space to build storage for melted fuel removed from reactors beginning 2021.
The water is still somewhat contaminated, but TEPCO says further treatment can remove all but radioactive tritium to levels allowed for release. Experts say tritium is not harmful to humans in small amounts and has been routinely released from nuclear plants around the world.
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880 TONS OF MELTED FUEL
Removing an estimated 880 tons of molten fuel from Fukushima’s three melted reactors is the toughest and unprecedented challenge. It’s six times the amount dealt with in the aftermath of the 1979 Three Mile Island partial core melt in the United States.
Removal is to begin in 2021 at Unit 2, where robotic probes have made more progress than at Units 1 and 3. A robotic arm was developed to enter the reactor from the side to reach the melted fuel, which has largely fallen to the bottom of the primary containment vessel. A side entry would allow the simultaneous removal of fuel rods in the pool from the reactor’s top. The removal of melted fuel will begin with just a spoonful, which will be carefully measured and analyzed under International Atomic Energy Agency instructions. The government hopes to gradually expand the scale of the removal, though further expertise and robotic development is needed. The first decade through 2031 is a crucial phase that will affect future progress. Units 1 and 3 fell behind due to high radiation and water levels respectively, requiring more investigation.
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770,000 TONS OF RADIOACTIVE WASTE
Japan has yet to develop a plan to dispose of the highly radioactive melted fuel and other debris that come out of the reactors. TEPCO will compile a plan for those after the first decade of melted fuel removal. Managing the waste will require new technologies to reduce its volume and toxicity. TEPCO and the government say they plan to build a site to store waste and debris removed from the reactors, but finding one and obtaining public consent will be difficult.
Additionally, there will be an estimated 770,000 tons of solid radioactive waste by 2030, including contaminated debris and soil, sludge from water treatment, scrapped tanks and other waste. They will be sorted, treated and compacted for safe storage under a plan to be compiled by 2028.
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8 TRILLION YEN
The government says Fukushima’s decommissioning cost is estimated at 8 trillion yen ($73 billion), though adding compensation, decontamination of surrounding areas and medium-term storage facilities would bring the total to an estimated 22 trillion yen ($200 billion). The Japan Center for Economic Research, a think tank, estimates that decommissioning alone would cost 51 trillion yen ($470 billion) if the water is not released and tritium removal technology is pursued.
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10,000 WORKERS
More than 10,000 workers will be needed annually in coming years, about one third assigned to work related to the radioactive water. Securing experienced workforce for the decadeslong cleanup is a challenge in a country with rapidly aging and declining population. Nuclear Regulation Authority Chairman Toyoshi Fuketa raised concerns about a possible labor shortage following recent minor mishaps at the plant. TEPCO has expressed intention of hiring workers for the decommissioning under Japan’s new policy allowing more unskilled foreign labor, but the plan is on hold following government instructions to address language and safety concerns.
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This March 11, 2012, file photo, shows three melted reactors, from left, Unit 1, Unit 2 and Unit 3 at Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant in Okuma, Fukushima prefecture, Japan. Japan revised a roadmap on Friday, Dec. 27, 2019, for the tsunami-wrecked Fukushima nuclear plant cleanup, further delaying the removal of thousands of spent fuel units that remain in cooling pools since the 2011 disaster.
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This Sept. 4, 2017, aerial file photo shows Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant’s reactors, from bottom at right, Unit 1, Unit 2 and Unit 3, in Okuma, Fukushima prefecture, northeastern Japan. Japan revised a roadmap on Friday, Dec. 27, 2019, for the tsunami-wrecked Fukushima nuclear plant cleanup, further delaying the removal of thousands of spent fuel units that remain in cooling pools since the 2011 disaster. It’s a key step in the decadeslong process, underscoring high radiation and other risks.
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In this Oct. 12, 2017, file photo, ever-growing amount of contaminated, treated but still slightly radioactive, water at the wrecked Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear plant is stored in about 900 huge tanks, including those seen in this photo taken during a plant tour at Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant in Okuma, Fukushima prefecture, northeast of Tokyo. Japan revised a roadmap on Friday, Dec. 27, 2019, for the tsunami-wrecked Fukushima nuclear plant cleanup, further delaying the removal of thousands of spent fuel units that remain in cooling pools since the 2011 disaster. It’s a key step in the decadeslong process, underscoring high radiation and other risks.
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In this Jan. 25, 2018, file photo, a cooling pool where a total of mostly used 566 sets of fuel rods are stored underwater and covered by a protective net, waits to be removed in a step to empty the pool at Unit 3 of the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant ahead of a fuel removal from its storage pool in Okuma, Fukushima Prefecture, northeast Japan. Japan revised a roadmap on Friday, Dec. 27, 2019, for the tsunami-wrecked Fukushima nuclear plant cleanup, further delaying the removal of thousands of spent fuel units that remain in cooling pools since the 2011 disaster. More than 4,700 units of fuel rods remain inside the three melted reactors and two others that survived the 2011 earthquake and tsunami.
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In this Nov. 12, 2014, file photo, a Tokyo Electric Power Co. (TEPCO) official wearing a radioactive protective gear stands in front of Advanced Liquid Processing Systems during a press tour at the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant in Okuma, Fukushima Prefecture, northeastern Japan. Japan revised a roadmap on Friday, Dec. 27, 2019, for the tsunami-wrecked Fukushima nuclear plant cleanup, further delaying the removal of thousands of spent fuel units that remain in cooling pools since the 2011 disaster.
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Japan has revised a roadmap for the tsunami-wrecked Fukushima nuclear plant cleanup, further delaying the removal of thousands of spent fuel units that remain in cooling pools since the 2011 disaster.

December 30, 2019 Posted by | fukushima 2019 | , , | 6 Comments

Video released of Fukushima No.3 reactor interior

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December 27, 2019
Japan’s nuclear regulator has released a video of the interior of the No.3 reactor building at the crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant.
The reactor suffered a meltdown and a hydrogen explosion that blew off the upper part of the building.
Workers have finished removing debris from the fifth and highest floor of the building. They are now transferring nuclear fuel from a cooling pool in the building to a storage facility on the compound.
Members of a panel at the Nuclear Regulation Authority entered the building on December 12. They had reopened an investigation into the 2011 nuclear accident in the autumn.
The panel members walked from the first floor to the third, despite the scattered debris. But they could not get to the fourth floor as the stairway had been destroyed by the explosion.
On the third floor ceiling they found beams that had been badly bent, and air ducts that had been ripped off. The damage indicates that the hydrogen explosion on the fifth floor or adjacent area had an impact on the third floor.
The panel members observed high radiation levels in some spots on each floor. One section of the second floor had a level of 150 millisieverts per hour.
The panel says more decontamination work is needed in order to scrap the reactor. It plans to continue its investigation and compile a report as early as next year.

December 30, 2019 Posted by | fukushima 2019 | , , | Leave a comment

Bee swarm affected by Fukushima radiation

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December 25, 2019
Splendid structure of a bee swarm from the village of Iitate
Bees : 2740 bq / kg
Inner swarm : 16 145 Bq / kg
Outer warm : 15 342 Bq / kg

蜂は2,470bq/Kg
(ハニカム部分)16,145bq/Kg
(外殻部分)15,342bq/Kg

 

Special credits to Cecile Brice & Nobuyoshi Itou

December 30, 2019 Posted by | fukushima 2019 | , , | Leave a comment

Korean gov’t inactive over Japan’s plan to discharge radioactive water into Pacific

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Storage tanks for radioactive water are seen at Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant, Nov. 13. A body of experts, Monday, proposed discharging the water into the Pacific Ocean or evaporating it, and the Japanese government is likely to accept one of the options.
December 24, 2019
Korea’s government remains idle while Japan makes plans to release radioactive water from Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant into the Pacific Ocean.
 
Multiple government organizations here related to the issue are passing the buck to one another, with each saying it is not in charge of the matter.
 
On Monday, the Japanese Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry revealed a draft of an experts’ report on possible ways for it to deal with more than 1 million tons of contaminated water stored at the nuclear plant following the massive earthquake and tsunami in 2011 ― to discharge it into the ocean, evaporate it into the air or a combination of the two methods. The trade ministry will soon make a final decision after reviewing the draft.
 
These three ways are the most hazardous ― and at the same time cheapest ― options for the Japanese government to “manage” the contaminated material, according to Shaun Burnie, a senior nuclear specialist at the German branch of Greenpeace.
 
Environmental groups both in Korea and Japan have also opposed the idea of discharging the water into the ocean, suggesting this action will not only have a devastating effect on marine life in the immediate region but also around the Pacific Rim.
 
However, related government bodies here have neither taken action in response to the report nor made any official announcements to clarify their positions.
 
Both Korea’s Ministry of Environment and the Ministry of Oceans and Fisheries said they are not the ministries responsible for the issue. The environment ministry’s account contradicted what Environment Minister Cho Myung-rae said in early September, that he would do his best to ensure his Japanese counterpart will not discharge contaminated water into the ocean.
 
“As the environment ministry is in charge of the issue of fine dust coming from China, it should play an active role in the Fukushima water contamination issue as well,” Cho told reporters at the time.
 
The Nuclear Safety and Security Commission, which both the environment and fishery ministries pointed to as the main government body to deal with the issue, said it has not held any meetings to discuss Japan’s recent report.
 
The Office for Government Policy Coordination under the Prime Minister’s Secretariat said an official in charge of the matter went is on vacation and there is no one else to talk to about the issue.
 
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs only repeated the same stance over the issue, saying it is confirming the facts with its Japanese counterpart about the draft report and it will put top priority on the people’s safety and cooperate with related government bodies and overseas organizations in solving the issue.
 
Contrary to the government’s inaction, civic groups reacted quickly.
 
Greenpeace released a statement, Monday, saying “there is no justification for additional, deliberate radioactive pollution of the marine environment or atmosphere.”
 
“Any decision to discharge over 1 million tons of highly radioactive water in the Pacific or into the atmosphere is clearly a direct concern to the people of Fukushima, including fisheries,” it said. “However, this is not just a domestic issue and the government of Japan must explain to the international community including its nearest neighbors in Asia why it advocates for discharging the water into the Pacific Ocean or releasing it into the atmosphere while failing to develop alternative solutions.”
 
Earlier in August, Burnie said in his column published in the Korean edition of The Economist that, as Japan’s closest neighbor, Korea’s marine life and ecosystem in its territorial waters and eventually the people themselves will be influenced directly by the radioactivity.
 
Ahn Jae-hun, energy team manager at Korea Federation for Environmental Movements, said the Japanese government is moving to dispose of the contaminated water via the easiest and cheapest method.
 
“We cannot forecast how much more contaminated water will be produced from the nuclear plant. If it really is discharged, it will affect the waters of neighboring countries. Once contaminated, restoring the water quality is difficult,” Ahn said. “The discharge is entirely inappropriate.”

December 30, 2019 Posted by | fukushima 2019 | , , , | Leave a comment

Japan Considering Dumping Toxic Fukushima Water Into Ocean

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December 24, 2019
​The country’s economy and industry ministry proposed gradually dumping the contaminated water into the Pacific ocean and/or evaporating it.
Japan is considering releasing the radioactive water from the Fukushima nuclear plant into the environment.
On Monday, the country’s economy and industry ministry proposed gradually dumping more than 1 million tons of contaminated water into the Pacific ocean, and/or allowing it to evaporate. The ministry said pouring the water into the sea was the best option, as it would “stably dilute and disperse” the water and could be properly monitored.
The ministry’s comments come nearly nine years after an earthquake and tsunami hit northern Japan, causing meltdowns at three reactors at the Fukushima plant. The plant’s operator has been collecting and storing the radioactive water since then, but said earlier this year it’s running out of space. The company says it’s been treating the water to remove most of the radioactive elements and should be safe enough to dump into the ocean. And experts at the International Atomic Energy Agency, who have inspected the Fukushima plant, also support the controlled release of the filtered water into the sea as the only realistic solution.
But some critics argue the option would ruin Fukushima’s fishing and agriculture industries, which are still reeling from the effects of the nearly decade-old incident.
Nothing is set in stone yet for how the country will dispose of the water, but Prime Minister Abe Shinzo’s cabinet will make the final decision.

December 30, 2019 Posted by | fukushima 2019 | , , | Leave a comment

Fukushima to relax blanket radiation testing for beef cattle

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A cattle farm in Iwaki, Fukushima Prefecture, on Dec. 19
December 24, 2019
FUKUSHIMA–In the absence of significant radiation levels being detected in cattle for more than six years, Fukushima Prefecture decided to switch from blanket to random safety testing.
Similar moves have been seen in Iwate, Miyagi and Tochigi prefectures.
Blanket inspections in those prefectures had been the norm since the nuclear crisis triggered by the 2011 earthquake and tsunami disaster unfolded.
Thirty-three other prefectures which voluntarily inspect cattle for health and safety reasons have also made such a move.
Fukushima prefectural authorities announced the change in policy at a Dec. 23 review meeting attended by beef producers, distributors and others.
Under the plan, at least one animal will be checked per year for each farm, with the exception of “difficult-to-return” zones where radiation levels remain high.
Blanket testing will continue for old cows to be slaughtered for beef.
The decision will receive formal approval in January.
In the summer after the nuclear accident at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant in March 2011, cattle exceeding the provisional standard of 500 becquerels per kilogram were found in Fukushima, Iwate, Miyagi and Tochigi prefectures.
While the central government has allowed beef to be delivered if farms check one animal a year and meet other conditions, all four prefectures have continued conducting strict inspections of their own accord.
Since August 2011 when blanket testing started, no animals in Fukushima Prefecture have been found to exceed the standard set in 2012 of 100 becquerels per kilogram. The prefectural government concluded that safety can be secured without inspecting all cattle.
Still, according to a survey compiled by the prefecture this past October covering 2,584 consumers, 45.9 percent of respondents insisted that blanket testing be continued.
A staff member of a major distributor, said: “It seems that many consumers only trust products that have passed inspections.”
Since March 2011, 159 cattle have been found to exceed the standard across Japan, according to the farm ministry. No cattle exceeding the standard have been found since April 2013.

December 30, 2019 Posted by | fukushima 2019 | , , | Leave a comment

Japanese Officials Propose Releasing Water From the Fukushima Nuclear Plant Into the Environment

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A facility at the Fukushima Dai-Ichi nuclear power plant in Okuma is seen in Fukushima, Japan, on Oct. 2, 2019.
By Mari Yamaguchi / AP
December 23, 2019
(TOKYO) — Japan’s economy and industry ministry has proposed gradually releasing or allowing to evaporate massive amounts of treated but still radioactive water at the tsunami-wrecked Fukushima nuclear plant.
The proposal made Monday to a body of experts is the first time the ministry has narrowed down the options available to just releasing the water. It is meant to tackle a huge headache for the plant’s operator as storage space runs out, despite fears of a backlash from the public.
Nearly nine years after the 2011 triple meltdowns at Fukushima Dai-ichi, the radioactive water is still accumulating as the water is needed to keep the cores cooled and minimize leaks from the damaged reactors.
For years, a government panel has been discussing ways to handle the crisis and to reassure fishermen and residents who fear potential health impacts from releasing the radioactive water as well as harm to the region’s image.
In Monday’s draft proposal, the ministry suggests a controlled release of the water into the Pacific, allowing the water to evaporate, or a combination of the two methods.
The ministry said a controlled release into the sea was the best option because it would “stably dilute and disperse” the water from the plant using a method endorsed by the United Nations’ Scientific Committee on the Effects of Atomic Radiation. It also would facilitate monitoring of radiation levels in the environment.
Releasing the entire amount of water over one year would only increase radiation levels to thousands of times less than the impact humans usually get from the natural environment.
In the proposal, the ministry noted that evaporation has been a tested and proven method following the 1979 core meltdown at Three Mile Island, where it took two years to get rid of 87,000 tons of tritium water.
The government and the plant operator, Tokyo Electric Power Co., have been unable to get rid of the more than 1 million tons of radioactive water that has been treated and stored due to opposition from local fishermen and residents fearing further damage to Fukushima’s reputation and recovery. The utility has managed to cut down the volume of water by pumping up groundwater from upstream and installing a costly underground “ice wall” around the reactor buildings to keep the water from running into the area.
TEPCO says it has space to store only up to 1.37 million tons and only until the summer of 2022, raising speculation that the water may be released after the Tokyo Olympics next summer. TEPCO and experts say the tanks get in the way of decommissioning work and that they need to free up the space to build storage for debris removed and other radioactive materials. The tanks also could spill out their contents in a major earthquake, tsunami or flood.
Experts, including those at the International Atomic Energy Agency who have inspected the Fukushima plant, say the controlled release of the water into the ocean is the only realistic option, though it will take decades.
A government panel earlier compiled a report that listed five options, including releasing the water into the sea and evaporation. The three others included underground burial and an injection into offshore deep geological layers.
The panel has also discussed possibly storing the radioactive water in large industrial tanks outside the plant, but the ministry proposal ruled that out, citing risks of leakage in case of corrosion, tsunamis or other disasters and accidents, as well as the technical challenge of transporting the water elsewhere.

December 30, 2019 Posted by | fukushima 2019 | , , | Leave a comment

Fukushima Radioactive Sump Water Disappears

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December 23, 2019
Radioactive water in the sump pit at the base of the unit 1-2 vent tower at Fukushima Daiichi escaped in November.
The base of the vent tower is one of the most radioactive locations at the disaster site. Water in this sump is normally pumped out into a truck to transport it for treatment. An automatic sensor system detects when the sump fills to a certain level then transfers water to the truck’s tank. TEPCO discovered that the water level in the sump had gone down but no transfer of water had taken place. The radioactive water is assumed to have left the sump pit. TEPCO did indicate rising radiation levels in two nearby groundwater control sump wells after the water escaped.
Rainwater is considered to be the main route for water to flow into the vent tower sump pit. When  the upper vent tower removal work is completed, a cap will be placed on the vent pipe to prevent rainwater from flowing into the sump pit. There appears to be some amount of water transfer at the ground level between this sump pit and the surrounding soil. TEPCO did not address this further in their most recent report.
TEPCO document

December 30, 2019 Posted by | fukushima 2019 | , , | Leave a comment

Japan proposes Fukushima water release to sea or air

The ministry said a controlled release into the sea was the best option because it would “stably dilute and disperse” the waste from the plant using a method endorsed by the United Nations’ Scientific Committee on the Effects of Atomic Radiation. It also would facilitate monitoring of radiation levels in the environment.

In the proposal, the ministry noted that evaporation is a method that was tested and proven following the 1979 core meltdown at Three Mile Island, where it took two years to get rid of 87,000 tons of radioactive tritiated water.


The government and the plant operator, Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings Inc., have been unable to get rid of the more than 1 million tons of radioactive liquid that has been treated and stored, due to opposition from local fishermen and residents fearing further damage to Fukushima’s reputation and recovery.

The utility has managed to cut down the volume of the liquid by pumping up groundwater from upstream before it reaches the plant, and installing a costly underground “ice wall” around the reactor buildings to prevent other water from running into the area. Tepco says it has space to store only up to 1.37 million tons of the waste liquid, and only until the summer of 2022, raising speculation that it may be released after the Tokyo Olympics next summer. Tepco and experts say the tanks get in the way of decommissioning work and that they need to free up the space to build storage for debris removed and other radioactive materials. The tanks also could spill out their contents in the event of a major earthquake, tsunami or flood….

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A Tokyo Electric Power Co. (TEPCO) official wearing radiation protective gear stands in front of the Advanced Liquid Processing Systems during a press tour at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant in Okuma, Fukushima Prefecture, on Nov. 12, 2014.
December 23, 2019
Japan’s Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry has proposed gradually releasing or allowing to evaporate massive amounts of treated but still radioactive water at the tsunami-wrecked Fukushima nuclear plant.
The proposal made Monday to a body of experts is the first time the ministry has narrowed down the options available to just releasing the water. It is meant to tackle a huge headache for the plant’s operator as storage space runs out, despite fears of a backlash from the public.
Nearly nine years after the 2011 triple meltdowns at Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant, the radioactive water is still accumulating as the water is needed to keep the cores cooled and minimize leaks from the damaged reactors.
For years, a government panel has been discussing ways to handle the crisis and to reassure fishermen and residents who fear potential health impacts from releasing the radioactive water as well as harm to the region’s image.
In Monday’s draft proposal, the ministry suggests a controlled release of the water into the Pacific, allowing the water to evaporate, or a combination of the two methods.
The ministry said a controlled release into the sea was the best option because it would “stably dilute and disperse” the water from the plant using a method endorsed by the United Nations’ Scientific Committee on the Effects of Atomic Radiation. It also would facilitate monitoring of radiation levels in the environment.
Releasing the entire amount of water over one year would only increase radiation levels to thousands of times less than the impact humans usually get from the natural environment.
In the proposal, the ministry noted that evaporation has been a tested and proven method following the 1979 core meltdown at Three Mile Island, where it took two years to get rid of 87,000 tons of tritium water.
The government and the plant operator, Tokyo Electric Power Co., have been unable to get rid of the more than 1 million tons of radioactive water that has been treated and stored due to opposition from local fishermen and residents fearing further damage to Fukushima’s reputation and recovery. The utility has managed to cut down the volume of water by pumping up groundwater from upstream and installing a costly underground “ice wall” around the reactor buildings to keep the water from running into the area.
TEPCO says it has space to store only up to 1.37 million tons and only until the summer of 2022, raising speculation that the water may be released after the Tokyo Olympics next summer. TEPCO and experts say the tanks get in the way of decommissioning work and that they need to free up the space to build storage for debris removed and other radioactive materials. The tanks also could spill out their contents in a major earthquake, tsunami or flood.
Experts, including those at the International Atomic Energy Agency who have inspected the Fukushima plant, say the controlled release of the water into the ocean is the only realistic option, though it will take decades.
A government panel earlier compiled a report that listed five options, including releasing the water into the sea and evaporation. The three others included underground burial and an injection into offshore deep geological layers.
The panel has also discussed possibly storing the radioactive water in large industrial tanks outside the plant, but the ministry proposal ruled that out, citing risks of leakage in case of corrosion, tsunamis or other disasters and accidents, as well as the technical challenge of transporting the water elsewhere.

December 24, 2019 Posted by | fukushima 2019 | , , , | Leave a comment

Stations Near Fukushima N-Plant to Be Out of Evacuation Zone

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December 20, 2019
Fukushima, Dec. 20 (Jiji Press)–The Japanese government plans to lift evacuation orders for areas surrounding train stations close to Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings Inc.’s crippled Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant, it was learned Friday.
The government and the town of Tomioka, Fukushima Prefecture, in northeastern Japan, agreed to lift an evacuation order around the town’s Yonomori Station on East Japan Railway Co.’s Joban Line on March 10 next year.
It will be the first instance of an evacuation order being lifted for an area designated as a “difficult-to-return zone” after the March 2011 nuclear disaster. The decision is expected to be made official by the government’s Nuclear Emergency Response Headquarters.
The government is also in talks with municipalities over removing evacuation orders for districts surrounding two other Joban Line stations, ahead of the train line’s planned full reopening by the end of March next year.
The government is holding discussions with the prefectural government and the town governments of Futaba and Okuma, which both host the nuclear plant, on the dates for lifting the orders for areas around Futaba and Ono stations, located in Futaba and Okuma, respectively. According to sources, the negotiators are expected to settle on March 4 as the date for the Futaba station area.

 

December 24, 2019 Posted by | fukushima 2019 | , , , | Leave a comment

Severed section of JR Joban Line in Fukushima to reopen in March

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A train arrives at JR Futaba Station in Fukushima Prefecture during a test run on Dec. 18.
December 19, 2019
FUTABA, Fukushima Prefecture–A disrupted section of the JR Joban Line near the beleaguered Fukushima nuclear plant is expected to reopen March 14, bringing the entire line back in service for the first time in nine years.
A test run to check signal lights, rails and crossings started in Fukushima Prefecture Dec. 18.
As part of the test, a five-car train arrived around 10:20 a.m. at the newly built Futaba Station, about 4 kilometers northwest of the plant.
The Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant suffered a triple meltdown following the Great East Japan Earthquake and tsunami in March 2011, with residents in wide areas ordered to evacuate.
The tests will continue through Dec. 20, with the train making two round trips a day between Tomioka and Namie, the 20.8-kilometer section of the line that has remained out of service.
If service in the section is resumed, the Joban Line will connect Nippori in Tokyo to Iwanuma in Miyagi Prefecture, covering about 344 km.
Futaba Station features a glass-walled corridor connecting the east and west sides. However, many nearby buildings were dismantled following the disaster, leaving plots of empty land.
No residents can be seen around here as evacuation orders due to the nuclear disaster have been in place throughout the town.
As the section set to reopen is within 10 km of the nuclear plant, the train will run through the “difficult-to-return zone” that has excessive levels of radiation.
Japan Railways has been engaged in decontamination efforts in the area since March 2016 to lower radiation levels by removing trees along the tracks and replacing gravel.
Coinciding with the resumption of the entire line, evacuation orders for areas around Yonomori, Ono and Futaba stations within the section are expected to be lifted.
Orders for roads connecting the stations and areas where access is not restricted would also be lifted, allowing passengers to access the stations.

December 24, 2019 Posted by | fukushima 2019 | , , , | Leave a comment

Tokyo ‘Recovery Olympics’ offer scant solace to displaced victims of Fukushima nuclear disaster

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An abandoned elementary school classroom remains cluttered Dec. 3 with school bags and other belongings left by students as they rushed out after the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami that crippled the nearby Fukushima nuclear power plant in Futaba.
December 18, 2019
FUTABA, FUKUSHIMA PREF. – Nine years after an earthquake, tsunami and nuclear disaster devastated wide areas of the prefecture, the torch relay for the 2020 Summer Games will kick off in Fukushima.
Some baseball and softball games will also be held in the prefecture, allowing Tokyo organizers and the government to label these games the “Recovery Olympics.” The symbolism recalls the 1964 Tokyo Olympics, which showcased Japan’s re-emergence just 19 years after World War II.
But tens of thousands still haven’t recovered in Fukushima, displaced by nuclear radiation and unable to return to deserted places like Futaba.
Time stopped in the town of 7,100 when disaster stuck on March 11, 2011.
Laundry still hangs from the second floor of one house. Vermin gnaw away at once intimate family spaces, exposed through shattered windows and mangled doors. The desolation is deepened by Japanese tidiness, with shoes waiting in doorways for absent owners.
“This recovery Olympics is in name only,” Toshihide Yoshida said. He was forced to abandon Futaba and ended up living near Tokyo. “The amount of money spent on the Olympics should have been used for real reconstruction.”
Japan is spending about ¥2.8 trillion ($25 billion) to organize the Olympics. Most is public money, though exactly what are Olympic expenses — and what are not — is always disputed.
The government has spent ¥34.6 trillion for reconstruction projects for the disaster-hit northern prefectures, and the Fukushima plant decommissioning is expected to cost ¥8 trillion.
The Olympic torch relay will start in March at J-Village, a soccer venue used as an emergency response hub for Fukushima plant workers. The relay goes to 11 towns hit by the disaster, but bypasses Futaba, a part of Fukushima that Olympic visitors will never see.
“I would like the Olympic torch to pass Futaba to show the rest of the world the reality of our hometown,” Yoshida said. “Futaba is far from recovery.”
The radiation that spewed from the plant at one point displaced more than 160,000 people. Futaba is the only one of 12 radiation-hit towns that remains a virtual no-go zone. Only daytime visits are allowed for decontamination and reconstruction work, or for former residents to check their abandoned homes.
The town has been largely decontaminated and visitors can go almost anywhere without putting on hazmat suits, though they must carry personal dosimeters to measure radiation absorbed by the body and surgical masks are recommended. The main train station is set to reopen in March, but residents won’t be allowed to return until 2022.
A main-street shopping arcade in Futaba is lined by collapsing store fronts and sits about 4 km (2.5 miles) from the nuclear plant, and 250 km (150 miles) north of Tokyo. One shop missing its front doors advertises Shiseido beauty products with price tags still hanging on merchandise. Gift packages litter the ground.
Futaba Minami Elementary School, where no one died in the evacuation, has nonetheless been untouched for almost nine years and has the feel of a mausoleum. School bags, textbooks and notebooks sit as they were when nearly 200 children rushed out.
Kids were never allowed to return, and “Friday, March 11,” is still written on classroom blackboards along with due dates for the next homework assignment.
On the first floor of the vacant town hall, a human-size daruma good-luck figure stands in dim evening light at a reception area. A piece of paper that fell on the floor says the doors must be closed to protect from radiation.
It warns: “Please don’t go outside.”
The words are underlined in red.
“Let us know if you start feeling unwell,” Muneshige Osumi, a former town spokesman, told visitors, apologizing for the musty smell and the presence of rats.
About 20,000 people in Tohoku died in the magnitude 9.0 earthquake and resulting tsunami. Waves that reached 16-meters-high killed 21 people around Futaba, shredding a seaside pine forest popular for picnics and swimming.
A clock is frozen at 3:37 p.m. atop a white beach house that survived.
Nobody perished from the immediate impact of radiation in Fukushima, but more than 40 elderly patients died after they were forced to travel long hours on buses to out-of-town evacuation centers. Their representatives filed criminal complaints and eventually sent former Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings Inc. executives to court. They were acquitted.
When Tokyo was awarded the Olympics in 2013, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe assured International Olympic Committee members that the nuclear disaster was “under control.” However, critics say the government’s approach to recovery has divided and silenced many people in the disaster-hit zones.
Under a development plan, Futaba hopes to have 2,000 people — including former residents and newcomers such as construction workers and researchers — eventually living in a 550-hectare site.
Yoshida is unsure if he’ll return. But he wants to keep ties to Futaba, where his son inherited a filling station on the main highway connecting Tokyo and Tohoku.
Osumi, the town spokesman, said many former residents have found new homes and jobs and the majority say they won’t return. He has his own mixed feelings about going back to his mountainside home in Futaba. The number of residents registered at the town has decreased by more than 1,000 since the disaster struck, indicating they are unlikely to return.
“It was so sad to see the town destroyed and my hometown lost,” he said, holding back tears. He reflected on family life, the autumn leaves, and the comforting hot baths.
“My heart ached when I had to leave this town behind,” he added.
Standing outside Futaba Station, Mayor Shiro Izawa described plans to rebuild a new town. It will be friendly to the elderly, and a place that might become a major hub for research in decommissioning and renewable energy. The hope is that those who come to help in Fukushima’s reconstruction may stay and be part of a new Futaba.
“The word Fukushima has become globally known, but regrettably the situation in Futaba or (neighboring) Okuma is hardly known,” Izawa said, noting Futaba’s recovery won’t be ready by the Olympics.
“But we can still show that a town that was so badly hit has come this far,” he added.
To showcase the recovery, government officials say J-Village and the Azuma baseball stadium were decontaminated and cleaned. However, problems keep popping up at J-Village with radiation “hot spots” being reported, raising questions about safety heading into the Olympics.
The radioactive waste from decontamination surrounding the plant, and from across Fukushima, is kept in thousands of storage bags stacked up in temporary areas in Futaba and Okuma.
They are to be sorted — some burned and compacted — and buried at a medium-term storage facility for the next 30 years. For now they fill vast fields that used to be rice paddies or vegetable farms. One large mound sits next to a graveyard, almost brushing the stone monuments.
This year, 4 million tons of those industrial container bags were to be brought into Futaba, and another million tons to Okuma, where part of the Fukushima plant stands.
Yoshida said the medium-term waste storage sites and the uncertainty over whether they will stay in Futaba — or be moved — is discouraging residents and newcomers.
“Who wants to come to live in a place like that? Would senior officials in Kasumigaseki go and live there?” he asked, referring to the high-end area in Tokyo that houses many government ministries.
“I don’t think they would,” Yoshida added. “But we have ancestral graves, and we love Futaba, and we don’t want Futaba to be lost. The good old Futaba that we remember will be lost forever, but we’ll cope.”

December 24, 2019 Posted by | fukushima 2019 | , , , | Leave a comment