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Japan Political Pulse: The truth about Fukushima nuclear disaster compensation

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Of the unknown number of children who have been bullied for being from Fukushima Prefecture, where a nuclear disaster is still ongoing at a power station six years since its outbreak, one boy who evacuated to Yokohama was bullied and extorted by his classmates of 1.5 million yen in total.

Now in his first year of junior high school, the boy wrote when he was in sixth grade, “My classmates said, ‘You get compensation, right?’ That annoyed me, but I was frustrated with myself for not standing up against them.”

Ironically, news reports say that because the family voluntarily evacuated from Fukushima Prefecture, they are not eligible for the high levels of compensation from the operator of the stricken nuclear plant, Tokyo Electric Power Co. (TEPCO), that some victims are entitled to receive.

Those who evacuated from Fukushima Prefecture due to the nuclear crisis can be largely categorized into two groups. The first are those who were forced to leave their homes under evacuation orders from the central government, because they lived in areas where annual cumulative radiation levels exceeded 20 millisieverts, or otherwise faced extenuating circumstances as determined by the state. Such people receive a certain lump sum from TEPCO as compensation.

The second group comprises people who lived in areas with radiation levels that did not prompt government evacuation orders, but who evacuated voluntarily out of concern for the health of themselves and their children. As a general rule, these people are not eligible for compensation from TEPCO.

In the case of forced evacuations, TEPCO conducts individual interviews with evacuees to assess the value of their property and homes. But this is strictly to compensate for the assets that people have lost.

What has often attracted attention but remains commonly misunderstood, is the monthly 100,000 yen per person that evacuees are said to be receiving as compensation for emotional suffering. Those who evacuated without orders to do so from the government are not eligible for this, either.

Meanwhile, the provision of compensation for emotional suffering to state-ordered evacuees whose homes are in areas where evacuation orders are set to be lifted will be stopped in March 2018. Whether or not such evacuees will return to their homes in Fukushima Prefecture once the no-go orders are lifted, they face the harsh reality that they will be cut off from government assistance. The government is rushing to rebuild infrastructure, and appeal to the world that they are lifting evacuation orders. But whether to return or to relocate is a difficult decision, especially for families with children.

People who evacuated from Fukushima Prefecture have not only been exposed to radiation, but to prejudice and misunderstanding regarding compensation that they may or may not have received.

The false rumor that compensation recipients are enjoying the high life from compensation payments has spread. We can’t deny that some probably indulged in the momentary influx of money and bought property or a fancy car. But because of that, the internet has been teeming with rumors that compensation recipients are tax thieves or calls for them to go back where they came from. And there’s no doubt that such a backdrop of online defamation and scandalmongering emboldened the children who bullied the boy in Yokohama.

The truth is, the family of the boy in Yokohama had evacuated Fukushima Prefecture voluntarily. They received a little over 1 million yen from TEPCO, but the parents said in an interview with an NHK new program, Close Up Gendai, that the money was put toward rebuilding their lives. Voluntary evacuees are exempt from paying rent due to the Disaster Relief Act, but many must restart new lives amid unstable finances.

The abovementioned boy moved to Yokohama with his family when he was in second grade. Shortly thereafter, classmates called him by his name, with the word for “germs” added on to the end. He soon found himself the victim of physical abuse such as hitting and kicking, and once he reached fifth grade, classmates demanded he give them money.

“I was so scared I didn’t know what to do,” the boy wrote. He stole from his parents and gave away a total of 1.5 million yen.

His parents, and other parents of children at the school who realized that something was going on, alerted the school. The school conducted an investigation, but took the bullies’ claims that the boy had given them money willingly at face value, and did nothing to remedy the situation for two years.

I, too, only learned the truth about the case just recently, but I believe the school’s misguided judgment was likely based on ignorance and prejudice toward compensation given to Fukushima Prefecture evacuees.

The boy’s mother had been traveling back and forth between Yokohama and Fukushima. He knew how much his parents were struggling, so he remained silent about the bullying.

What moved the case into a new direction were notes the victim had written in the summer of sixth grade. A message calling on bullying victims not to kill themselves also written by the now first-year junior high school student who attends an alternative school, was also released to the public.

Compensation is given to some victims of the Fukushima nuclear disaster. But there is still too little compassion toward and understanding of the various misunderstandings, discrimination and divisions that disaster victims face.

http://mainichi.jp/english/articles/20170326/p2a/00m/0na/003000c

March 26, 2017 Posted by | Fukushima 2017 | , , , , , | Leave a comment

TEPCO to delay seeking end to state control by 2 years to FY 2019

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Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings Inc. will delay a decision on whether to seek an end to its state control by about two years to fiscal 2019 amid ballooning costs stemming from the 2011 Fukushima nuclear disaster, an outline of its new business plan showed Wednesday.

The move is another sign the utility is struggling to revive its business even after receiving a capital injection of 1 trillion yen ($9 billion) from the government in 2012 to bolster its financial standing. But disaster cleanup costs have continued to rise, with the latest estimate reaching 22 trillion yen.

Under its latest business turnaround plan, which will be the third major revision since the first one was formulated in 2011, TEPCO aims to realign or integrate its nuclear and power transmission and distribution businesses with other utilities to improve its profitability. But it is uncertain whether business will get back on track as planned, with other utilities cautious about such tie-ups.

 

http://english.kyodonews.jp/news/2017/03/464967.html

March 26, 2017 Posted by | Fukushima 2017 | , , | Leave a comment

Nuke watchdog critical as robot failures mount at Fukushima plant

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Some Nuclear Regulation Authority members are skeptical of continuing to send robots into reactors in the crippled Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant to collect vital data on the locations of melted nuclear fuel and radiation levels.

These regulators are increasingly calling for a new survey methodology after recent investigations utilizing robots controlled remotely generated few findings and were quickly terminated.

We should come up with a method that will allow us to investigate in a short period of time and in a more sensible way,” said a senior member of the NRA, the government watchdog.

The suggestion followed the failure of the latest probe from March 18 to March 22 in which a robot was sent in the No. 1 reactor to ascertain the location of fuel debris, information crucial to preparing for the decommissioning.

Tokyo Electric Power Co., the operator of the plant, said on March 23 the robot was unable to deliver a camera to planned spots from where images of nuclear fuel debris could be taken.

The utility cited the piping and deposits of what looked like sand accumulating on the piping as impediments that hindered the robot surveyor’s path.

The survey was designed for the robot to reach numerous locations inside the No. 1 reactor to determine the location of nuclear fuel debris and their radiation levels.

The lower part of the reactor’s containment vessel is submerged in water where deposits of fuel debris are believed to reside below the surface after melting through in the 2011 nuclear disaster, triggered by the Great East Japan Earthquake and tsunami.

At one location, the robot succeeded in placing a camera, which is combined with a dosimeter, to a depth 0.3 meter from the containment vessel floor.

The probe measured underwater radiation levels from 3.0 to 11 sieverts per hour during the five-day survey. But it was unable to take images of the debris in the water.

TEPCO and the government hope to start removing molten nuclear fuel from 2021. But they have yet to collect information on the location, amount and condition of the melted fuel.

In a survey of the No. 2 reactor in February, a robot became stuck in deposits and other debris after traveling only 2 meters inside.

Surveyor robots for the No. 1 through No. 3 reactors have been developed by the International Research Institute for Nuclear Decommissioning since 2014, a project costing 7 billion yen ($62 million) by the end of March 2018.

It takes time to develop such multifunctional robots, but the surveys centering around the robots so far have failed to produce meaningful results.

No survey has been conducted at the No. 3 reactor.

http://www.asahi.com/ajw/articles/AJ201703240064.html

March 26, 2017 Posted by | Fukushima 2017 | , , | Leave a comment

Japan’s TEPCO looking for international help to clean up Fukushima nuclear plant

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The call for partners follows two robotic failures during cleanup efforts at the plant last month

TOKYO—The Tokyo Electric Power Co. has issued a call for partners to help it decontaminate and decommission the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station.

The nuclear power plant was seriously damaged in 2011 by a tsunami triggered by a powerful offshore earthquake. The subsequent reactor meltdowns led to the release of radioactive material, which remains at high levels inside the plant six years after the accident.

The call for international collaboration follows two robotic failures inside Fukushima’s Unit 2 reactor last month. One cleaning robot was pulled out of the plant prematurely due to higher-than-expected radiation, while another had to be abandoned inside after its crawling function failed.

Earlier this month, Naohiro Masuda, the head of decommissioning at the plant said engineers will need to think ‘out of the box’ to develop robots capable of surveilling the plant.

TEPCO said it is particularly interested in consultants with on-site recycling methods that could reduce the amount of radioactive waste being generated—though it noted there are many other areas of expertise it’s interested in as well.

More details about the collaboration program are available here.

http://www.canadianmanufacturing.com/environment-and-safety/japans-tepco-looking-for-international-help-to-clean-up-fukushima-nuclear-plant-189081/

TEPCO is looking for partners that would realize innovative values and solutions to critical social issues.

Through challenging ourselves with new technology, dealing with various businesses, and making even greater use of the big data stored and created by TEPCO, we contribute to society’s development by creating new value for the lives and businesses of consumers and business people.

Co-creation will open new doors.

By partnering with you, we will be able to tackle issues we could not before. It is our mission to create better future by openly cooperating with everyone as we move forward.

https://tepco.cuusoo.com/#about

March 26, 2017 Posted by | Fukushima 2017 | , , | Leave a comment

The Robot Probe Cannot Confirm Where is the Melted Fuel of Unit 1

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Tokyo Electric Power Company announced on February 23 that it had completed a robot probe survey lasting five days in the reactor containment vessel of Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant Unit 1.

Its goal was to confirm the whereabout of the melted nuclear fuel, but it was blocked by piping and could not put the camera in athe place where nuclear fuel could be seen.

Information necessary for taking out the nuclear fuel to decommission the reactor remains inadequate, and some voices began to question the robot conducted investigation method.

During the 5-day survey, there was also a point where the measuring instrument with an camera and a radiation dosimeter integrated together was hung up in a range from 0 to 3 meters from the bottom of the containment vessel, pipes and debris blocking its path in many points. The radiation dose in the water is from 3.0 to 11 Sv. Per hour. It was not possible to directly check the melted nuclear fuel.

TEPCO and the country are facing the decommissioning of a furnace …

http://www.asahi.com/articles/photo/AS20170323005483.html

March 24, 2017 Posted by | Fukushima 2017 | , , , , | Leave a comment

Tepco robot failed to capture images of melted fuel in reactor 1

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A photo taken by a robot on Wednesday shows an underwater image of water pool on the bottom of the containment vessel of the reactor 1 at the Fukushima No. 1 plant

Tokyo Electric said Thursday that it failed to get any photos of potential fuel debris during a five-day probe of the primary containment vessel at reactor 1 of the Fukushima No. 1 power plant.

Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings Inc., however, stressed that the investigation was worthwhile because its robot was able to take underwater images in the pool of water at its bottom and gauge its radiation level, which will help it estimate where the melted fuel lies.

The monstrous tsunami of March 11, 2011, tipped reactors 1, 2 and 3 into core meltdowns. The molten fuel rods then penetrated their pressure vessels before apparently dropping to the bottom of the giant containment vessels.

There is about a 2.5-meter deep water pool at the bottom of the primary containment vessel of reactor 1, and Tepco believes most of its melted fuel rods fell into it. Thus the main mission of the robot investigation this time was to capture underwater images.

The robot traversed gratings set up several meters above the vessel’s bottom and lowered a wire with a camera and dosimeter on its tip at 10 locations in the water.

Yet none of the images disclosed by Tepco showed anything resembling fuel debris, while parts of machinery, such as a valve, were captured.

When the robot dangled the camera on spots where Tepco thought there was a higher probability of locating the fuel, it instead found a 90-cm pile of sediment.

Tepco spokesman Yuichi Okamura said the sediment is probably not fuel debris, given the relatively low radiation readings, which ranged from 5.9 to 9.4 sieverts per hour.

Although the readings indicate extreme danger to people, Okamura said the readings would have been much higher had they been melted fuel rods. He said Tepco had no idea what the sediment is but added that there was a possibility it was covering the fuel.

According to Okamura, radiation readings get weaker by a hundredth if blocked by a meter of water. Since the robot detected readings from 5.9 to 9.4 sieverts per hour about 90 cm above the pool’s bottom, there might be something down there emitting strong radiation.

Tepco plans another investigation this month to pick up samples of the sediment.

While no fuel debris was recognized, Okamura said Tepco would review the data and analyze it further. By comparing radiation readings from various locations, the utility might be able to roughly pinpoint where the melted rods lay, he said.

He added that it was an achievement that the robot lasted for five days in the deadly radiation and that Tepco was able to retrieve it.

http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2017/03/24/national/tepco-robot-failed-capture-images-melted-fuel-reactor-1/#.WNQ_hBh7Sis

March 24, 2017 Posted by | Fukushima 2017 | , , , | Leave a comment

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

That day arrived on March 11, 2011.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Deadly nuclear radiation levels detected in Fukushima

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Extremely high radiation levels were detected using cameras and robots in tainted water inside a reactor containment vessel at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant, Japan Times reported Tuesday, citing Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings Inc. (Tepco).

The latest readings, taken six years after the Fukushima nuclear meltdown, showed 11 sieverts per hour, according to Japan Times. It is the highest radiation level detected in water inside the containment vessel and is extremely dangerous. Sievert is a unit measurement for a dose of radiation. One sievert is enough to cause illness if absorbed all at once, and 8 sieverts will result in death despite treatment, according to PBS who relied on data from multiple sources including United States Nuclear Regulatory Commission and MIT’s Nuclear Science and Engineering department.

Following a major earthquake on March 11, 2011, a 15-metre tsunami disabled the power supply and cooling of three Fukushima reactors, causing a nuclear accident. Tepco, who operated the plant and has been tasked with cleaning up the worst nuclear incident, since the 1986 Chernobyl disaster in the former Soviet Union, has been some problems of late in its cleanup operation.

Recently, an exploratory robot malfunctioned and died after being sent inside reactor 2, in mid-February, due to exposure to “unimaginable” levels of radiation, close to 650 sieverts per hour. The previous highest recorded level was 73 sieverts per hour. Following the incident, Naohiro Masuda, president of Tepco’s Fukushima Daiichi Decommissioning project, told reporters the company had to rethink its methods in order to examine and extract the hazardous material stuck in the plant’s second reactor.

We should think out of the box so we can examine the bottom of the core and how melted fuel debris spread out,” Masuda said, according to the Japan Times.

Tepco has been attempting to locate melted fuel which leaked from the reactor’s pressure vessel and is believed to have settled at the bottom of the containment vessel that holds the contaminated water. So far, no such debris has been found, and Tepco decided to extend the survey by one day through Wednesday.

A robot sent by the company on March 20 reached the bottom but was unable to locate the melted fuel due to some pipes that blocked its view.  But it was able to take pictures of what appeared to be sand piling up near the pipes. The radiation readings near them were 6.3 sieverts per hour.

Judging from the radiation level, there is a high possibility that what is piling up on the pipes is not nuclear fuel,” a Tepco official said, according to the Asahi Shimbun

Cleaning up the plant may take an estimated 40 years and cost an estimated 21.5 trillion yen ($189 billion), according to the Guardian.

https://www.rawstory.com/2017/03/deadly-nuclear-radiation-levels-detected-in-fukushima/

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

Lethal radiation levels but no melted fuel found in Fukushima reactor water

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The Unit 2 reactor building at Tokyo Electric Power Co.’s Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant.

The level of radiation was measured by a special robot on Sunday at a point about 30cm (one foot) from the bottom of the containment vessel of Reactor 1, the Japan Times reported on Tuesday.

The current radiation level is 11 sieverts per hour, the highest detected in water inside the containment vessel. A person exposed to this amount of radiation would likely die in about 40 minutes, the Japan Times reports.

Sunday’s probe also revealed sandy substances building up at the bottom of the vessel. Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings (TEPCO) officials, however, dismissed the idea that it might be melted nuclear fuel.

Experts have been looking for the melted fuel, which they believe has been accumulating in tainted water.

In March 2011, a 9.1 earthquake and the 15-meter tsunami that followed disabled the cooling system of Fukushima’s three reactors, causing the worst nuclear incident since the 1986 Chernobyl incident in Ukraine.

TEPCO, which operates the crippled power plant, has been obliged to deal with the consequences of the incident.

In February, a robot sent to explore Reactor 2 broke down because of the “unimaginable” levels of radiation, close to 650 sieverts per hour. This was the first time a robot entered this reactor since the plant’s meltdown in 2011.

Previously, the highest radiation level was recorded one year after the disaster and went up to 73 sieverts per hour.

TEPCO has promised extract the hazardous material stuck in the plant’s second reactor, its president Naohiro Masuda said, according to the Japan Times.

In December, TEPCO nearly doubled the estimated cost for the Fukushima clean-up to $188 billion.

A zone of more than 300 square miles around the plant is currently uninhabitable due to the continuing radiation.

https://www.rt.com/news/381879-fukushima-reactor-radiation-lethal/

 

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

Survey under way of Fukushima Daiichi 1 vessel

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The PMORPH robot within unit 1’s PCV

A robot has entered into the primary containment vessel of the damaged unit 1 of the Fukushima Daiichi plant and provided Tokyo Electric Power Company (Tepco) with radiation and temperature measurements within it. The company hopes the data, together with video footage, will enable it to locate the molten fuel in the unit.

On 18 March, Tepco inserted the PMORPH robot into unit 1 in the first of a series of four planned robot explorations of the basement area of its primary containment vessel (PCV) around the pedestal, on which the reactor pressure vessel sits. The investigation is part of preparatory work for the eventual removal of fuel debris.

The PMORPH robot was developed by Hitachi-GE Nuclear Energy and the International Research Institute for Nuclear Decommissioning (IRID). It can assume a long, straight shape for passing through narrow spaces, such as pipes. Alternatively, it can rotate its crawlers by 90 degrees in relation to its central body to assume a U-shape, with the crawlers providing better stability when travelling over flat surfaces.

The robot features a combined total of five cameras and also includes a winch used for lowering and raising a sensor unit that incorporates an underwater radiation-resistant camera, LED and a dosimeter.

In the latest investigation, the robot travelled along a section of the first floor grating, on which it measured a radiation dose of 7.8 Sieverts per hour. The robot also lowered its sensor unit into the water that has collected at the bottom of the primary containment vessel. At a height of about 1 metre above the PCV basement floor, Tepco recorded a dose level of 1.5 Sv/h. The robot also recorded temperature measurements within the PCV of 14-23°C.

Last month a “scorpion-shaped” robot developed by Toshiba and IRID was sent into the primary containment vessel of unit 2 of the Fukushima Daiichi plant. “In that case,” Tepco said, “although the robot was obstructed from reaching all the way into the pedestal area, important information was obtained about the conditions at the base of the reactor.” Readings indicate the temperature within the area of the containment vessel where the robot stopped was around 16.5°C and the dose rate was about 210 Sv/h, significantly higher than those measured in unit 1.

Tepco said the latest reading and images obtained from unit 1 will now be examined in greater detail. “The conditions of the PCV basement floor will be examined later,” it noted.

The insertion of the PMORPH robot follows an investigation of the unit’s containment vessel by another shape-changing robot in April 2015. That was the first time a robot had entered the containment vessel of any of the damaged units. However, after taking several images and measurements, that robot got stuck in the grating and stopped working.

Tepco is preparing to conduct similar investigations using a robot in unit 3 at the plant.

http://www.world-nuclear-news.org/RS-Survey-under-way-of-unit-1-vessel-2003174.html

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

Progress of Unit 1 PCV Internal Investigations – March 18. 2017

Preliminary report of March 12 investigation 1/2

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Preliminary report of March 12 investigation 2/2

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Impact to the surrounding environment :

The radiation level of 7.8 Sv/h was measured by a dosimeter during the March 18 investigation, but the radiation impact has been reduced by the shielding of PCV concrete walls and steel. No radiation impact has been observed in the surrounding environment.

The investigation is conduced while creating a boundary around the guiding pipe to prevent the air inside the PCV from leaking to the outside.

No significant changes have been observed at the monitoring posts and dust monitors after the investigation, compared to the before.

Real-time data of the monitoring posts and dust monitors along the site boundary are available on the website.

Reference URL:

http://www.tepco.co.jp/en/nu/fukushima-np/f1/index-e.html

http://www.tepco.co.jp/en/nu/fukushima-np/f1/dustmonitor/index-e.html

Monitoring of the plant parameters:

Although the radiation level of 7.8 Sv/h was measured by a dosimeter during the March 18 investigation,it does not mean that a new phenominonhas occurred but rather the area that has not been investigated since the March 2011 accident was investigated for the first time.

Plant parameters are monitored all the time during the investigation, and no significant changes have been observed in the PCV internal temperatures after the investigation, compared to the before.

The condition of cold shutdown has not been changed. Temperature data inside the PCV are available on the website.

Reference URL: http://www.tepco.co.jp/en/nu/fukushima-np/f1/pla/index-e.html

March 22, 2017 Posted by | Fukushima 2017 | , , | Leave a comment

TEPCO to Focus on Joint Ventures for Rehab

What company in their right mind would want to hook up with a zombie company so they could leech 21.5 trillion yen from them?

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Tokyo, March 22 (Jiji Press)–Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings Inc. on Wednesday released an outline of its new rehabilitation plan focusing on joint ventures with other companies, to find a way out of the aftermath of the Fukushima nuclear crisis in March 2011.
But with other power companies cautious about industry realignment and business integration, TEPCO is expected to continue to face difficulties under the new plan.
TEPCO’s current rehabilitation plan, adopted in January 2014, has reached a dead end, with no prospects for a restart of its Kashiwazaki-Kariwa nuclear power plant in Niigata Prefecture, which the company viewed as a key step for improving profitability.
TEPCO needs to secure as much as 21.5 trillion yen for its response to the triple meltdown at its Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power station, including compensation for affected people and businesses and work to decommission the disaster-stricken reactors at the plant.
In the circumstances, the government plans to keep the company effectively under state control for the time being. Its involvement with TEPCO will be reviewed in the fiscal year that begins in April 2019.

March 22, 2017 Posted by | Fukushima 2017 | , , | Leave a comment

Robot probe of No.1 reactor to continue until Wed.

 

The operator of the crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant says a robotic survey of fuel debris at the No. 1 reactor is being hampered by plumbing and other structures. The utility says it will extend the probe by one day, until Wednesday.

So far engineers have detected strong radiation of about 11 sieverts per hour in the water inside the containment vessel.

Tokyo Electric Power Company on Saturday started sending a remote-controlled robot into the reactor’s containment vessel to look at the state of debris — a mixture of melted fuel and reactor parts. The robot is equipped with a camera and a dosimeter.

The melted fuel is believed to still be at the bottom of the vessel, where about 2 meters of contaminated water accumulates.

TEPCO released the results of the ongoing survey on Tuesday. It said the robot moved to a location believed to be just above the debris and lowered the camera and dosimeter into the accumulated water.

The dosimeter detected radiation of 6 sieverts per hour one meter from the bottom. But piping prevented the device from reaching deeper, and it has yet to confirm the debris.

TEPCO also said the robot recorded about 11 sieverts of radiation per hour about 30 centimeters from the vessel’s bottom at another location. Officials believe the radiation may be coming from contaminated fragments that fell to the bottom, as they expected no debris there.

Through the extended probe, TEPCO hopes to collect more data on conditions inside the vessel.

https://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/en/news/20170321_33/

 

March 22, 2017 Posted by | Fukushima 2017 | , , | Leave a comment

How nuclear apologists mislead the world over radiation

George Monbiot and others at best misinform and at worst distort evidence of the dangers of atomic energy

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A girl is screened in Iitate, about 40km from the damaged Fukushima nuclear plant, where high levels of radiation have been detected.

From Monday 11 April 2011

Soon after the Fukushima accident last month, I stated publicly that a nuclear event of this size and catastrophic potential could present a medical problem of very large dimensions. Events have proven this observation to be true despite the nuclear industry’s campaign about the “minimal” health effects of so-called low-level radiation. That billions of its dollars are at stake if the Fukushima event causes the “nuclear renaissance” to slow down appears to be evident from the industry’s attacks on its critics, even in the face of an unresolved and escalating disaster at the reactor complex at Fukushima.

Proponents of nuclear power – including George Monbiot, who has had a mysterious road-to-Damascus conversion to its supposedly benign effects – accuse me and others who call attention to the potential serious medical consequences of the accident of “cherry-picking” data and overstating the health effects of radiation from the radioactive fuel in the destroyed reactors and their cooling pools. Yet by reassuring the public that things aren’t too bad, Monbiot and others at best misinform, and at worst misrepresent or distort, the scientific evidence of the harmful effects of radiation exposure – and they play a predictable shoot-the-messenger game in the process.

To wit:

1) Mr Monbiot, who is a journalist not a scientist, appears unaware of the difference between external and internal radiation

Let me educate him.

The former is what populations were exposed to when the atomic bombs were detonated over Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945; their profound and on-going medical effects are well documented. [1]

Internal radiation, on the other hand, emanates from radioactive elements which enter the body by inhalation, ingestion, or skin absorption. Hazardous radionuclides such as iodine-131, caesium 137, and other isotopes currently being released in the sea and air around Fukushima bio-concentrate at each step of various food chains (for example into algae, crustaceans, small fish, bigger fish, then humans; or soil, grass, cow’s meat and milk, then humans). [2] After they enter the body, these elements – called internal emitters – migrate to specific organs such as the thyroid, liver, bone, and brain, where they continuously irradiate small volumes of cells with high doses of alpha, beta and/or gamma radiation, and over many years, can induce uncontrolled cell replication – that is, cancer. Further, many of the nuclides remain radioactive in the environment for generations, and ultimately will cause increased incidences of cancer and genetic diseases over time.

The grave effects of internal emitters are of the most profound concern at Fukushima. It is inaccurate and misleading to use the term “acceptable levels of external radiation” in assessing internal radiation exposures. To do so, as Monbiot has done, is to propagate inaccuracies and to mislead the public worldwide (not to mention other journalists) who are seeking the truth about radiation’s hazards.

2) Nuclear industry proponents often assert that low doses of radiation (eg below 100mSV) produce no ill effects and are therefore safe. But , as the US National Academy of Sciences BEIR VII report has concluded, no dose of radiation is safe, however small, including background radiation; exposure is cumulative and adds to an individual’s risk of developing cancer.

3) Now let’s turn to Chernobyl. Various seemingly reputable groups have issued differing reports on the morbidity and mortalities resulting from the 1986 radiation catastrophe. The World Health Organisation (WHO) in 2005 issued a report attributing only 43 human deaths directly to the Chernobyl disaster and estimating an additional 4,000 fatal cancers. In contrast, the 2009 report, “Chernobyl: Consequences of the Catastrophe for People and the Environment”, published by the New York Academy of Sciences, comes to a very different conclusion. The three scientist authors – Alexey V Yablokov, Vassily B. Nesterenko, and Alexey V Nesterenko – provide in its pages a translated synthesis and compilation of hundreds of scientific articles on the effects of the Chernobyl disaster that have appeared in Slavic language publications over the past 20 years. They estimate the number of deaths attributable to the Chernobyl meltdown at about 980,000.

Monbiot dismisses the report as worthless, but to do so – to ignore and denigrate an entire body of literature, collectively hundreds of studies that provide evidence of large and significant impacts on human health and the environment – is arrogant and irresponsible. Scientists can and should argue over such things, for example, as confidence intervals around individual estimates (which signal the reliability of estimates), but to consign out of hand the entire report into a metaphorical dustbin is shameful.

Further, as Prof Dimitro Godzinsky, of the Ukranian National Academy of Sciences, states in his introduction to the report: “Against this background of such persuasive data some defenders of atomic energy look specious as they deny the obvious negative effects of radiation upon populations. In fact, their reactions include almost complete refusal to fund medical and biological studies, even liquidating government bodies that were in charge of the ‘affairs of Chernobyl’. Under pressure from the nuclear lobby, officials have also diverted scientific personnel away from studying the problems caused by Chernobyl.”

4) Monbiot expresses surprise that a UN-affiliated body such as WHOmight be under the influence of the nuclear power industry, causing its reporting on nuclear power matters to be biased. And yet that is precisely the case.

In the early days of nuclear power, WHO issued forthright statements on radiation risks such as its 1956 warning: “Genetic heritage is the most precious property for human beings. It determines the lives of our progeny, health and harmonious development of future generations. As experts, we affirm that the health of future generations is threatened by increasing development of the atomic industry and sources of radiation … We also believe that new mutations that occur in humans are harmful to them and their offspring.”

After 1959, WHO made no more statements on health and radioactivity. What happened? On 28 May 1959, at the 12th World Health Assembly, WHO drew up an agreement with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA); clause 12.40 of this agreement says: “Whenever either organisation [the WHO or the IAEA] proposes to initiate a programme or activity on a subject in which the other organisation has or may have a substantial interest, the first party shall consult the other with a view to adjusting the matter by mutual agreement.” In other words, the WHO grants the right of prior approval over any research it might undertake or report on to the IAEA – a group that many people, including journalists, think is a neutral watchdog, but which is, in fact, an advocate for the nuclear power industry. The IAEA’s founding papers state: “The agency shall seek to accelerate and enlarge the contribution of atomic energy to peace, health and prosperity through the world.”

Monbiot appears ignorant about the WHO’s subjugation to the IAEA, yet this is widely known within the scientific radiation community. But it is clearly not the only matter on which he is ignorant after his apparent three-day perusal of the vast body of scientific information on radiation and radioactivity. As we have seen, he and other nuclear industry apologists sow confusion about radiation risks, and, in my view, in much the same way that the tobacco industry did in previous decades about the risks of smoking. Despite their claims, it is they, not the “anti-nuclear movement” who are “misleading the world about the impacts of radiation on human health.”

Helen Caldicott is president of the Helen Caldicott Foundation for a Nuclear-Free Planet and the author of Nuclear Power is Not the Answer

[1] See, for example, WJ Schull, Effects of Atomic Radiation: A Half-Century of Studies from Hiroshima and Nagasaki (New York: Wiley-Lis, 1995) and DE Thompson, K Mabuchi, E Ron, M Soda, M Tokunaga, S Ochikubo, S Sugimoto, T Ikeda, M Terasaki, S Izumi et al. “Cancer incidence in atomic bomb survivors, Part I: Solid tumors, 1958-1987” in Radiat Res 137:S17-S67 (1994).

[2] This process is called bioaccumulation and comes in two subtypes as well, bioconcentration and biomagnification. For more information see: J.U. Clark and V.A. McFarland, Assessing Bioaccumulation in Aquatic Organisms Exposed to Contaminated Sediments, Miscellaneous Paper D-91-2 (1991), Environmental Laboratory, Waterways Experiment Station, Vicksburg, MS and H.A. Vanderplog, D.C. Parzyck, W.H. Wilcox, J.R. Kercher, and S.V. Kaye, Bioaccumulation Factors for Radionuclides in Freshwater Biota, ORNL-5002 (1975), Environmental Sciences Division Publication, Number 783, Oak Ridge National Laboratory, Oak Ridge, TN.

https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2011/apr/11/nuclear-apologists-radiation

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