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Lack of proper facilities forced disabled evacuees to move from shelter to shelter after 3/11

FUKUSHIMA – Disabled people have been forced to move to various evacuation shelters since the March 2011 calamity due mainly to the shortage of barrier-free facilities, a survey conducted by support group showed Saturday.

Among the 147 physically and mentally disabled people surveyed, mainly in Fukushima Prefecture, 118, or 80 percent, were moved at least three times, the survey said. Around 40 percent complained that their disabilities got worse.

The survey was conducted between 2015 and 2016.

Given the acute lack of availability in shelters with welfare services and functions in 2011, four people transferred a total of nine times in search of a better environment.

Only 16, or 11 percent, stayed in the first evacuation shelters they landed in, typically public gymnasiums and community halls. On average, the disabled people surveyed were moved four times.

After the meltdown at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant, Mieko Matsumoto, 58, moved to three evacuation shelters with her 26-year-old son, Yuta, in the space of four months.

Matsumoto said she could not feel relaxed because Yuta, who had cerebral palsy and was confined to a wheelchair, occasionally made loud noises and she always had to be mindful of the other evacuees.

Many respondents said they faced difficulty using the toilet or when they wanted to take a bath, since the shelters were not equipped to handle wheelchair users.

In 2013, the government compiled guidelines stressing the importance of having welfare evacuation shelters and installment procedures, urging municipalities across the nation to take steps in accordance with the lessons learned from mega-quake and nuclear crisis.

But similar problems emerged after Kumamoto Earthquake rocked Kyushu last April.

http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2017/04/22/national/lack-proper-facilities-forced-disabled-evacuees-move-shelter-shelter-311/

April 25, 2017 Posted by | Fukushima 2017 | , , | Leave a comment

Six years later, some workers at Fukushima nuclear plant say they can do without protective gear

This article actually says that people observing from a nearby hill were exposed to only 150 microsieverts per hour. If that number is not a careless misprint, it’s actually a huge number. A person living on that hilltop would be exposed to 1,314 millisieverts per year (if I calculated correctly), way above the legal limit which was increased to 100 millisieverts per year after the accident.

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Workers walk past cherry trees at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant on April 14. The plant operator said visitors do not need to wear special protection gear in most parts of the premises as radiation levels have fallen.

OKUMA, FUKUSHIMA PREF. – At the facility on the Pacific Coast, people in casual clothes stroll under cherry trees in full bloom.

Hot meals made with local ingredients are served for ¥380 at a cafeteria. Cold drinks, snacks and sweets are available at a convenience store.

This scene is not unfolding at a popular tourist site, but at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant, which was rocked by a magnitude-9 earthquake and the ensuing tsunami on March 11, 2011.

Accompanied by officials from Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings Inc., a group of reporters was given access to the power station earlier this month.

Six years have passed since the world’s worst nuclear disaster since Chernobyl in 1986.

Efforts to remove radioactive debris and to cover tainted soil with materials like mortar have helped decrease the radiation at the plant, allowing workers to wear regular uniforms at about 95 percent of the site.

Tainted water has been moved to more secure welded tanks, replacing weaker ones made of steel sheets and bolts, reducing leaks.

Visitors can overlook the four reactor buildings from a hill about 80 meters from the facility, where core meltdowns hit reactors 1, 2 and 3. Hydrogen explosions heavily damaged the buildings for units 1, 3 and 4, which have since received new facades.

On the hill, the radiation in the air was 150 microsieverts per hour, less than the amount received during a round-trip flight between Tokyo and New York. Tepco says there is no health hazard here as long as you wear masks and helmets and keep your stay short. Workers once needed to change into tightly woven clothing at the J-Village soccer training center about 20 km away before entering the Fukushima complex. But that burden has been lifted.

About 7,000 workers — 6,000 from construction, electronics and machinery companies and 1,000 from Tepco — work at the power station to deal with the aftermath of the meltdown and decommission the reactors.

Our near-term goal is to create a place where they can work without worries,” said Daisuke Hirose, a spokesman for Tepco’s Fukushima No. 1 Decontamination & Decommissioning Engineering Co.

There are now 400 cherry trees at the facility. Before the disaster, there were 1,200, and local residents were invited to enjoy cherry blossoms every spring, Hirose said. Now, workers walk with smiles under a tunnel of trees, greeting passers-by.

In May 2015, a nine-story rest house with meeting spaces and shower rooms opened. A convenience store was added last year.

At a 200-seat cafeteria, hot meals made with Fukushima produce are delivered from a central kitchen in the town of Okuma, about 9 km from the plant.

I used to eat cold rice balls,” a worker on a lunch break said. “Hot meals make me happy and motivate me to work.”

The plant, which stands on a 3.5-sq.-km site about 230 km northeast of Tokyo, started up in 1971.

Since the radiation has dropped sharply at the facility, about 10,000 people per year, including journalists from the United States, Europe and Asian countries, have visited. Last year, high school students dropped by.

After the two-hour tour, a dosimeter carried by a reporter showed she was exposed to only 40 microsieverts, less than the amount from a chest X-ray.

Although the working environment has certainly improved, the fate of the plant is far from clear.

Decommissioning the crippled reactors is expected to take 30 to 40 years. The utility is aiming to begin removing fuel debris from one reactor by the end of 2021, but so far it has failed to even ascertain the condition inside the reactors.

A lot of rubble remains in many of the buildings on the seaside, keeping alive fears of a quake-tsunami catastrophe like the one that struck six years ago.

A frozen underground wall has seen only limited success in preventing groundwater from flowing into the reactor and turbine buildings, regulators have said, acknowledging that the facility is still a perpetual generator of tainted water.

Tepco is also struggling to dispose of tainted waste, such as used protective garments, gloves and socks. It has burned 1,500 tons of such waste while monitoring the radiation in the smoke. It still had 70,000 cu. meters of garbage as of the end of February.

Through legislation, we are prohibited from taking radioactive contaminated garbage outside the facility even after we incinerate it. We have to continue the fight against garbage and ash,” Hirose said.

Public confidence in Tepco has been shaky in the wake of the meltdowns, and even now, nearly 80,000 residents are unable to return to their homes near the plant.

We have caused it,” Hirose said. “We have to make every effort to create a place to which people want to return. Nobody wants to live where the safety and security of workers are not ensured.”

http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2017/04/22/national/six-years-later-workers-fukushima-nuclear-plant-say-can-without-protective-gear/

April 25, 2017 Posted by | Fukushima 2017 | , , | Leave a comment

NIRS Telebriefing: Arnie discusses Nuclear Disasters

Spring: The Season of Nuclear Disaster – Three Mile Island, Chernobyl, Fukushima Daiichi was the title of the April 4, 2017 tele-briefing hosted by the Nuclear Information and Resource Service (NIRS) and guest speaker Fairewinds’ Chief Engineer Arnie Gundersen. Hosted by Tim Judson, NIRS executive director, Arnie discusses the myths of atomic energy, the ins and outs of each disaster, and his own personal experiences with assessing the industry failures and magnitude of each disaster. At the end of his presentation, Arnie and Tim also answered questions from listeners in this enlightening segment.

http://www.fairewinds.org/nuclear-energy-education//nirs-telebriefing-arnie-discusses-nuclear-disasters?rq=NIRS

April 20, 2017 Posted by | World Nuclear | , , , , , | Leave a comment

IAEA chief urges global support for decommissioning Fukushima plant

Efforts to scrap the nuclear plant “extremely difficult” an understatement for yet impossible.

This is an admission . After 6 years wasted in lies and obfuscation, they finally admit that the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster is not resolved, far from being resolved, that they can’t handle it on their own, and need all the help they can get from the international community to find solutions to contain this major nuclear disaster.

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International Atomic Energy Agency chief Yukiya Amano has called for international cooperation in the decommissioning of the crippled Fukushima No. 1 nuclear complex.

It is important to gather as much knowledge as possible from around the world and engage in the (decommissioning) with the cooperation of the global community,” Amano said at a news conference in Tokyo on Tuesday, calling efforts to scrap the nuclear plant “extremely difficult.”

While reiterating his agency’s support for dealing with the Fukushima plant, he said getting the international community to work together will serve as a good “reference” in the event other countries carry out their own decommissioning work.

The Fukushima crisis, the world’s worst nuclear disaster since the 1986 Chernobyl disaster, resulted in meltdowns at three reactors after a powerful earthquake and tsunami on March 11, 2011.

Decommissioning the crippled reactors is expected to take 30 to 40 years and the total cost has been estimated by the Japan Center for Economic Research, a private think tank, at ¥11 trillion ($98.9 billion), while a government panel estimated the total cost at ¥8 trillion.

Amano also expressed concern over the threat to regional security posed by North Korea’s repeated nuclear tests and missile launches, saying the IAEA was ready to immediately send inspectors to North Korea, even for a brief period.

In 2009, North Korea kicked out the IAEA’s monitoring staff from its Yongbyon nuclear facility. Last year alone, North Korea conducted two nuclear tests and test-fired more than 20 ballistic missiles.

http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2017/04/12/national/iaea-chief-urges-global-support-decommissioning-fukushima-plant-worries-north-korea/#.WO6VTlLpOis

 

 

April 13, 2017 Posted by | Fukushima 2017 | , , | Leave a comment

Fukushima’s Ice-wall Blossoming or Not?

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Following the Fukushima nuclear disaster of 2011, it was rapidly discovered that owing to the unfortunate location of the plant and its construction, its buildings’ basements had become flooded by groundwater ingress, which subsequently became highly contaminated. In order to avoid reverse diffusion of the contaminated water into the environment, those managing the site were compelled to continually pump out and treat the contaminated water, at a rate commensurate with its inflow. It was anticipated or perhaps it would be better stated as ‘earnestly hoped’, that by keeping the water level in the flooded building basement below ground water levels that contamination would not defuse out of the flooded basement. Naturally as a consequence TEPCO are accumulating and endeavouring to store and decontaminate the net amount of water ingress each day.

To facilitate containment necessary for the safe decommissioning of the immediately contaminated reactor buildings in September 2013 TEPCO commissioned the construction of their controversial ‘ice-wall’.[1] Installation of the facilities to create the ice-wall commenced in June 2014 and was completed on February 9, 2016 at an estimated to cost some ¥34.5 billion (circa $339 million). Activation was on March 31, 2016, with commencement of the freezing of the seaward side wall. Freezing of the land-side wall commenced on June 6, 2016, with the secondary phase of sealing the last openings in the land side wall commencing on December 2, 2016. At this point we should note that the ice-wall in not penetrating to the depth of the aquifer, has no base to its containment, thus the wall is little more than a skirt, with water free to percolate in and out from below the contaminated site.

We now find ourselves in the spring of 2017, with the ice-wall’s chillier plant having run flat out for a year with seemingly little net impact on water ingress. Frustrated by this apparent lack of progress, on December 26, 2016 the Japanese Nuclear Regulatory Authority (NRA) citing “limited, if any effects,” advised TEPCO that the “frozen soil wall” should be relegated to a secondary role in reducing contaminated groundwater at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant.[2] Yet TEPCO still persisted in asserting that the ice-wall was effective stating “We are seeing certain results.” Which begs the questions: What results were they seeing and as TEPCO’s response would suggest, have the NRA been too presumptive in dismissing the ice-wall’s impact and groundwater ingress? Or perhaps TEPCO’s engineers, being so bought into their radical ice-wall concept they don’t want to ‘lose face’ or perhaps they have simply lost the plot?

In a bid to head of criticising of their activities for being less than transparent and tardy in properly advising the public, TEPCO have conveniently put certain of their findings into the public domain, in the form of press releases.[3] From this data, it’s possible to get a rudimentary grasp of what’s going on beneath TEPCO’s ice-wall. Regular updates on volumes of contaminated waters pumped from drainage wells and the reactor buildings’ basement, along with local rainfall have been regularly published. These indicated the seasonal cycle of rainfall in the Fukushima area and further show a relationship between local rainfall and the volumes of water, (Figure 1).

Figure 1

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Working on the basis of the limited available data and an anticipated lag between rain falling and its impact on groundwater, and assuming a direct relationship between water ingress and the total amount of water transferred or pumped out of the system, we can drive a relationship between the averaged daily water transfer (a measure of approximate water ingress) and the rainfall total for the prior month, (Figure 2). These criteria show very plausible cause effect linear correlation (i.e. of the type, y = mx + c), (Figure 3). Thus, we can envisage the contributions to groundwater flow within the aquifer beneath Fukushima being comprised of two portions (a) a large steady flow arising from rainfall which may have fallen years to decades ago on the mountains to the west of the site and equating to the linear equation’s constant and (b) a highly variable amount of flow arising from recent rainfall, predominantly within the last month.

Figure 2

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Figure 3

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Whilst the linear relationship between the phenomena is simplistic, on the available data application of 2nd or 3rd order polynomial curve fitting does not give any significant improved correlation coefficient (R). Given we have identified the correlation and observe seasonality, we can factor out the seasonality and project rolling annualised rainfall and water transfer (Figure 4).

Figure 4
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Within the scope of natural variance, the annualised rainfall at Fukushima shows no significant long term trend, being flat and circa 1.5 metres per year. The water transfer level does show some improvement and notwithstanding the slightly higher than average autumnal rains in 2016, water transfer levels are on the decline. Alas given the magnitude of that decline in relation to that hoped for by the ice-wall’s advocates to 50 tonnes per day, it was understandable that the NRA were rather less than impressed.

We also have to consider that our original correlation between rainfall and implied water ingress was conducted on all available data. The reality is several operational events were being executed over the period, such as the commencement of 24 hour pumping from inland relief wells with the aim of reducing groundwater around the stricken buildings, as well as the phased installation of the ice-wall itself. Thus our initial correlation is a composite of parallel events. If we reapply our linear relationship model on a rolling 12 monthly period, to exclude any rainfall seasonality, we see some interesting features, (Figure 5). 

Figure 5
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Had the ice-wall achieve a positive effect we should observed both a reduction in total amount of water transferred (y) being made up by a reduction in the overall basal flow (c) and of course a reduction in the recent rainfall component as reflected in a reduction of its independent variable (m). We see a reduction in apparent basal flow. As this reduction has occurred in isolation with the independent variable increasing over time, we can attribute reduction in ‘c’ in good measure to the impact relief wells. However, the overall amount of water being pumped out of the stricken buildings has remained high and it has done so because the aquifer has become more susceptible to the impact of recent rainfall. This suggests that the aquifer adjacent the site has become more porous and not less porous over the last few years. Had the ice-wall had a positive effect, a decline in the independent variable ‘m’ over time should be observed.

I would conjecture that if such is the case what could have caused this effect. It is possible that the installation of the coolant pipe-work has caused significant sub-soil disturbance, coupled with the degradation of the substrate rock texture by ground heave. The above should effectively have been self repaired when the ice-barrier froze. However, in this circumstance, owing to the size of the ice-wall and it lack of capacity to freeze the entire depth of the aquifer, it is likely that the aquifer disruption at its margins has resulted in increased porosity in the aquifer directly beneath the wall. Furthermore, given that the wall is incomplete and operating at the extent of its capacity, and that the site is subject to seasonal warming, and has had operational outages it is highly likely that the freeze thaw cycling peripheral to the ice-wall has cause deterioration to the aquifers subsoil texture and cohesion, thereby giving rise to localised increase porosity of the aquifer. As such I am not of the opinion that the installation of the ice-wall has had a ‘limited impact’. I believe it has had a ‘significant and negative impact’ on the porosity of the aquifer local to the site of contamination, and I believe it has added circa 20% to the volume of contaminated water generated since its installation.

But there again, that’s just one persons musings and opinion, and I dare say other will disagree and think I’m writing bollocks. Either way, I would be fascinated to see what “certain results” the TEPCO engineers saw. And if what they saw was good, I’d like a double of whatever they’d been drinking…

Kanpai
[1] 11 July 2016, ‘Fukushima’s Ice-Wall a Fridge Too Far’ Peter J. Hurley, Linkedin.com https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/fukushimas-ice-wall-fridge-too-far-peter-j-hurley

[2] December 27, 2016 Kohei T., The Asahi Shimbun ‘NRA: Ice wall effects ‘limited’ at Fukushima nuclear plant’: http://www.asahi.com/ajw/articles/AJ201612270056.html

[3] http://www.tepco.co.jp/en/nu/fukushima-np/handouts/index-e.html


https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/fukushimas-ice-wall-blossoming-peter-j-hurley?trk=v-feed&lipi=urn%3Ali%3Apage%3Ad_flagship3_feed%3B%2BRPMF%2BmRHiG1ZXRh%2ByoBrw%3D%3D

April 13, 2017 Posted by | Fukushima 2017 | , , , | Leave a comment

Nuclear Reactor Design Chosen – Not Because It Was Safe – But Because It Worked On Navy Submarines

From June 20, 2011

Virtually all of the nuclear reactors in the U.S. are of the same archaic design as those at Fukushima (Indeed, MSNBC notes that there are 23 U.S. reactors which are more or less identical to those at Fukushima.)

Called “light-water reactors”, this design was not chosen for safety reasons. Rather, it was chosen because it worked in Navy submarines.

Specifically, as the Atlantic reported in March:

In the early years of atomic power, as recounted by Alvin Weinberg, head of Oak Ridge National Laboratory in his book The First Nuclear Era, there was intense competition to come up with the cheapest, safest, best nuclear reactor design.

Every variable in building an immensely complex industrial plant was up for grabs: the nature of the radioactive fuel and other substances that form the reactor’s core, the safety systems, the containment buildings, the construction substances, and everything else that might go into building an immensely complex industrial plant. The light water reactor became the technological victor, but no one is quite sure whether that was a good idea.

Few of these alternatives were seriously investigated after light water reactors were selected for Navy submarines by Admiral Hyman Rickover. Once light water reactors gained government backing and the many advantages that conferred, other designs could not break into the market, even though commercial nuclear power wouldn’t explode for years after Rickover’s decision. “There were lots and lots of ideas floating around, and they essentially lost when light water came to dominate,” University of Strasbourg professor Robin Cowan told the Boston Globe in an excellent article on “technological lock-in” in the nuclear industry.

As it turned out, there were real political and corporate imperatives to commercialize nuclear power with whatever designs were already to hand. It was geopolitically useful for the United States to show they could offer civilian nuclear facilities to its allies and the companies who built the plants (mainly GE and Westinghouse) did not want to lose the competitive advantage they’d gained as the contractors on the Manhattan Project. Those companies stood to make much more money on nuclear plants than traditional fossil fuel-based plants, and they had less competitors. The invention and use of the atomic bomb weighed heavily on the minds of nuclear scientists. Widespread nuclear power was about the only thing that could redeem their role in the creation of the first weapon with which it was possible to destroy life on earth. In other words, the most powerful interest groups surrounding the nuclear question all wanted to settle on a power plant design and start building.

***

President Lyndon Johnson and his administration sent the message that we were going to use nuclear power, and it would be largely through the reactor designs that already existed, regardless of whether they had the best safety characteristics that could be imagined. [Nixon also fired the main government scientist developing safer types of reactors, because he was focused on safety instead of sticking with Nixon’s favored reactors.] We learned in later years that boiling water reactors like Fukushima are subject to certain types of failure under very unusual circumstances, but we probably would have discovered such problems if we’d explored the technical designs for longer before trying to start building large numbers of nuclear plants.

The Atomic Energy Commission’s first general manager – MIT professor Carroll Wilson – confirmed in 1979:

The pressurized water reactor was peculiarly suitable and necessary for a submarine power plant where limitations of space and wieght were extreme. So as interest in the civilian use of nuclear power began to grow, it was natural to consider a system that had already proven reliable in submarines. This was further encouraged by the fact that the Atomic Energy Commission provided funds to build the first civilian nuclear power plant … using essentially the same system as the submarine power plant. Thus it was that a pressurized light water system became the standard model for the world. Although other kinds of reactors were under development in different countries, there was a rapid scale-up of of the pressurized water reactor and a variant called the boiling water reactor developed by General Electric. These became the standard types for civilian power plants. in the United States and were licensed to be built in France, Germany, Japan and elsewhere.

If one had started to design a civilian electric power plant without the constraints of weight and space as required by the submarine, quite different criteria would apply.

(Wilson also notes that the engineers who built the original reactors didn’t really think about the waste or other basic parts of the plants’ life cycle.)

Ambrose Evans-Pritchard argues that there was another reason why all safer alternative designs – including thorium reactors – were abandoned:

The plans were shelved because thorium does not produce plutonium for bombs.

As Boing Boing notes:

Reactors like this [are] flawed in some ways that would be almost comical, were it not for the risk those flaws impart. Maybe you’ve wondered over the past couple of weeks why anyone would design a nuclear reactor that relied on external generators to power the pumps for it’s emergency cooling system. In a real emergency, isn’t there a decent chance that the backup generators would be compromised, as well?

It’s a good question. In fact, modern reactor designs have solved that very problem, by feeding water through the emergency cooling system using gravity, rather than powered pumps. Newer designs are much safer, and more reliable. But we haven’t built any of them in the United States …

Not the Navy’s Fault

This is in no way a criticism of the U.S. Navy or its submarine reactors. As a reader comments:

There are some things to know about Navy reactors:

  1. They don’t store thirty years worth of used, spent fuel rods next to the reactor.

  2. They don’t continue to operate a reactor that had a design life of 25 years for 60 years.

  3. The spent fuel pool is back on land on a base somewhere.

(In addition, the reactors on subs are much smaller than commercial reactors, and so have almost no consequences for the civilian population if they meltdown. And if an accident were to happen on a nuclear sub, the sub would likely sink or at least flood, presumably keeping the reactor from melting down in the first place.)

There Are No Independent Regulators and No Real Safety Standards

But at least the government compensates for the inherently unsafe design of these reactors by requiring high safety and maintenance standards.

Unfortunately, no …

As AP notes today:

Federal regulators have been working closely with the nuclear power industry to keep the nation’s aging reactors operating within safety standards by repeatedly weakening those standards or simply failing to enforce them.

***

Examples abound. When valves leaked, more leakage was allowed — up to 20 times the original limit. When rampant cracking caused radioactive leaks from steam generator tubing, an easier test of the tubes was devised so plants could meet standards.

***

Records show a recurring pattern: reactor parts or systems fall out of compliance with the rules; studies are conducted by the industry and government; and all agree that existing standards are “unnecessarily conservative.’’

Regulations are loosened, and the reactors are back in compliance.

Of course, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission – like all nuclear “agencies” worldwide – is 100% captured and not an independent agency, and the NRC has never denied a request for relicensing old, unsafe nuclear plants.

Indeed, Senator Sanders says that the NRC pressured the Department of Justice to sue the state of Vermont after the state and its people rejected relicensing of the Vermont Yankee plant, siding with the nuclear operator instead. The Nation notes:

Aileen Mioko Smith, director of Green Action Kyoto, met Fukushima plant and government officials in August 2010. “At the plant they seemed to dismiss our concerns about spent fuel pools,” said Mioko Smith. “At the prefecture, they were very worried but had no plan for how to deal with it.”

Remarkably, that is the norm—both in Japan and in the United States. Spent fuel pools at Fukushima are not equipped with backup water-circulation systems or backup generators for the water-circulation system they do have.

The exact same design flaw is in place at Vermont Yankee, a nuclear plant of the same GE design as the Fukushima reactors. At Fukushima each reactor has between 60 and 83 tons of spent fuel rods stored next to them. Vermont Yankee has a staggering 690 tons of spent fuel rods on site.

Nuclear safety activists in the United States have long known of these problems and have sought repeatedly to have them addressed. At least get backup generators for the pools, they implored. But at every turn the industry has pushed back, and the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) has consistently ruled in favor of plant owners over local communities.

After 9/11 the issue of spent fuel rods again had momentary traction. Numerous citizen groups petitioned and pressured the NRC for enhanced protections of the pools. But the NRC deemed “the possibility of a terrorist attack…speculative and simply too far removed from the natural or expected consequences of agency action.” So nothing was done—not even the provision of backup water-circulation systems or emergency power-generation systems.

As an example of how dangerous American nuclear reactors are, AP noted in a report Friday that 75 percent of all U.S. nuclear sites have leaked radioactive tritium.

Indeed, because of poor design, horrible safety practices, and no real regulation, a U.S. nuclear accident could be a lot worse than Fukushima.

http://www.washingtonsblog.com/2011/06/nuclear-reactor-design-chosen-not-because-it-was-safe-but-because-it-worked-on-navy-submarines.html

 

April 9, 2017 Posted by | Fukushima 2017 | , | Leave a comment

Robots expected to play key role in Fukushima decommissioning, but challenges remain

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As decommissioning work at Tokyo Electric Power Co. (TEPCO)’s Fukushima No. 1 Nuclear Power Plant continues, remote control robots are expected to play an important role in the decommissioning process. However, it is impossible to ignore the fact that the development of these robots faces huge challenges, such as high levels of radiation within the nuclear reactors, as well as a lack of information.

Among the robots that have been designed to carry out decommissioning work is the “muscle robot.” Developed by Hitachi-GE Nuclear Energy, Ltd., the body and limbs of the muscle robot can be controlled with a device that one might typically find attached to a video game console. Another type of robot acts like a crab with claws that can be used to grasp metallic pipes and snap them using a blade positioned on one of its claws. These robots are also able to smash concrete, using a special drill that can be placed at the end of the arm — like something out of a Hollywood movie.

Looking ahead, the government and TEPCO are aiming to start removing the melted nuclear fuel inside the No. 1 to No. 3 reactors at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant in 2021, after announcing exactly how they plan to do so over the summer. Although knowledge regarding the matter is limited, it seems that the melted nuclear fuel in the reactors has cooled and solidified, and the prototypes of the robots have been produced based on the assumption that the devices need to break down and remove such hardened fuel.

The robots’ parts are connected together with springs, and are driven using hydraulic power. One of the main advantages of this system is that they are hardly affected by radiation. There are six types of robot in total, such as the “spider-style” robot which has six arms and legs (length 2.8 meters, width 2 meters, weight 50 kilograms), as well as a “tank-style” robot (length 4.35 meters, width 63 centimeters, weight 700 kilograms), which runs on a conveyor belt. The tank-style robot is capable of lifting objects weighing up to 50 kilograms. A representative from Hitachi-GE Nuclear Energy states determinedly, “I want the muscle robots to remove the melted nuclear fuel.”

However, the process will not be plain sailing. While the bodies of these robots are resistant to radiation, their cameras are somewhat vulnerable. It has been found that the electronic hardware in the cameras breaks easily after being exposed to radiation. For example, when a “cleaning robot” was sent into the No. 2 reactor on Feb. 9, 2017, the camera broke after about two hours after being exposed up to an estimated 650 sieverts per hour of radiation. The camera part of the robot is essential because without it, images cannot be transmitted back to the control room.

To solve this problem, ideas such as placing a metallic plate near the camera that would block out radiation have been discussed, but it is feared that this would make the robot heavier and interfere with its operations. As a Hitachi representative states, “If one were to use an analogy to describe the current development stage in human terms, then we have entered elementary school. We’d like to continue our work, believing we can develop usable robots.” It is clear that a trial-and-error process is very much underway, as the robot developers try their best to achieve perfection.

It will not be an easy road though. Hajime Asama, professor at the University of Tokyo and a member of the Technology Advisory Committee of the International Research Institute for Nuclear Decommissioning (IRID), states, “Robots are usually developed based on confirmation of what exactly lies in the reactors. However, in the case of the No. 1 power plant, no matter how hard you try to predict what is in there, there are often unexpected elements waiting.”

In the No. 2 reactor, a “scorpion-style robot” was sent in on Feb. 16, as a follow-up to the cleaning robot but it got trapped by deposits on the conveyor belt, and came to a halt. The presence of these kinds of deposits was unexpected at the stage when the robot was being designed. Too much is still unknown about the situation inside the reactors, making robot design difficult. Later this month, a “wakasagi ice fishing-type robot” is expected to be placed inside the No. 1 reactor, but it is feared that the same problems that were experienced in the No. 2 reactor will emerge once again.

In recent years, the use of artificial intelligence has been expected to play a key role but a number of unexpected problems have made progress in this area difficult. What is needed is technology that can be controlled remotely by people with flexible judgment. However, professor Asama believes that, “The reactors inside the No. 1 plant are full of unknown challenges. We have no choice but to use our available knowledge to create robots that can deal with these problems.”

https://mainichi.jp/english/articles/20170408/p2a/00m/0na/023000c

April 9, 2017 Posted by | Fukushima 2017 | , , | Leave a comment

Russia’s Rosatom Discusses Projects on Fukushima Disaster Cleanup With Japan

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During the visit to Japan, Russia’s Rosatom State Nuclear Energy Corporation’s delegation discussed with Japanese partners possible projects on elimination of consequences of Fukushima nuclear power plant (NPP) disaster, Rosatom said Saturday.

MOSCOW (Sputnik) — Rosatom’s delegation headed by CEO Alexey Likhachev visited Japan on April 4-7 to discuss the Japanese-Russian memorandum on cooperation in the field of peaceful use of nuclear energy, which was signed in December 2016.

“Special attention was paid to the cooperation in overcoming the consequences of the Fukushima accident with the use of Russian technologies in terms of handling nuclear waste and pulling nuclear facilities out of operation…. In particular, opportunities for implementation of projects concerning the problem of melted fuel extraction and rehabilitation of polluted territories were discussed with Japanese partners,” the statement on Rosatom’s website read.

According to the statement, the delegation also visited Fukushima NPP to get acquainted with the current situation and the work on recovery from the accident.

In March 2011, a 9.0-magnitude offshore earthquake triggered a tsunami that hit Fukushima NPP, leading to the leakage of radioactive materials and the shutdown of the plant. The accident is considered to be the world’s worst nuclear disaster since the Chernobyl accident that took place in the Soviet Ukraine in 1986.

Earlier in the year, it was announced that Japan’s research institution Mitsubishi chose two Rosatom subsidiaries, RosRAO and Techsnabexport to take part in the efforts to eliminate the consequences of the 2011 Fukushima nuclear accident.

https://sputniknews.com/environment/201704081052446822-russia-japan-fukushima-cleanup/

April 9, 2017 Posted by | Fukushima 2017 | , , | Leave a comment

The fallout of a damaged reactor versus the fallout of an atomic bomb

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Translation from french by Hervé Courtois

By AIPRI, the International Association for the Protection against Ionizing Rays.

The purpose of the AIPRI is to provide scientific disclosure in the field of nuclear physics and the radiological hazards of internal contamination.

While it is undeniable that the fallout to the ground during the few hours following the explosion of an atomic bomb is conducive to cause acute irradiations for a few days, more than the fallout of a damaged reactor, it is equally undeniable that the fallout from a damaged reactor causes a considerably higher number of deferred victims for the simple reason that it releases a much larger and more toxic mass of “lasting” fission products than does a single atomic bomb and also more heavily contaminates a much larger territory.

Clearly, Chernobyl scattered at least 24.6 kilograms of cesium 137, while a plutonium device of 22 kt disseminates 47.6 grams. Chernobyl dispersed more than 16 kilograms of plutonium 239 into fine particles, while a device with a 10% fission yield dropped 11 kg in the environment (The bombs only work in excess of their fission output and spoil a lot of the goods, which is why they disseminated 50 tons of “unconsumed” plutonium nanoparticles during the nuclear weapon tests).

To count only the few hundred early victims of the acute irradiations of each one is to demonstrate a satanic malfeasance and an infatuation unparalleled for falsification and death for it is tantamount to spitting out an abject gall on the countless liquidators who prematurely disappeared to whom we owe our lives and to eradicate the millions and millions of anonymous, proven, programmed and calculated victims of this endless nuclear tragedy.

Yet this is known. An atomic reactor is continuously fissioning and accumulates more lasting” fission products every day. A reactor saves and in fact continuously grows its secular toxic capital. On the other hand, a bomb fission instantaneously but without ever accumulating anything.

This is the reason why the fallout from both of them if they are for the whole made of the same radioelements are not however at all in the same proportions and therefore do not have the same lasting radiotoxicity which is of course the most dangerous because it acts over centuries and centuries.

Comparing one to the other is thus already in itself a somewhat hazardous exercise, moreover, to take into account only the victims of the acute irradiations of both to confront the dangerousness is a criminal scam whose ultimate goal is the concealment of the millions of deferred victims of this modern civil and military nuclear tragedy.

Post scriptum:

Cs137 by kt for a load of Pu239
1.444E + 23 at./kt * 6.58% Rdf = 9.50E21 Cs137 * 7.312E-10 λ = 6.947E12 Bq / kt either 6.95 TBq or 187.82 Ci / kt for 2.16 g / Kt

http://aipri.blogspot.fr/2017/03/coup-de-gueule-atomique.html

April 5, 2017 Posted by | Fukushima 2017 | , , | Leave a comment

Testimony from Disaster

MINES Paris Tech is the leading institution, at the heart of the french nuclear lobby, a state within the State.

Crisis management students in France are hoping to learn from a first-hand account of the Fukushima nuclear disaster.

Franck Guarnieri, a researcher in risk and crisis management at one of France’s leading institutions, MINES ParisTech, has been studying the accident.

Guarnieri and his team have interviewed nearly 30 government officials, experts, and employees at Tokyo Electric Power Company who were active during the aftermath of the 2011 disaster.

He is particularly interested in the actions of the late Masao Yoshida, the plant manager at the time.

Some months after the disaster, Yoshida told the government about what he did. The transcript, titled the Yoshida Testimony, was released in 2014.

When Guarnieri saw it, he decided to publish it in French.

The job of rendering Yoshida’s entire 28-hour testimony into French was recently completed. The translation takes up 3 volumes, 2 of which are now in print.

“This is the first time the testimony of a plant manager has been made public. In the Three Mile Island and Chernobyl accidents, the plant managers did not give testimonies,” says Guarnieri.

Rather than simply focusing on the events and facts of the disaster, Guarnieri and his team are especially interested in Yoshida’s emotional and psychological state, as the person in charge of the accident response.

These are some of his statements:

“There was no manual for this situation. To put it bluntly, I realized I’d have to rely on my intuition and judgment.”

“If we had stopped injecting water into the reactors it would have been catastrophic, so I decided to continue.”

Guarnieri’s team says those words indicate that Yoshida had to make decisions based on information that was potentially incorrect. They say the Yoshida Testimony is quite different from other official accounts, which tend to include little regarding the human element.

France now operates more than 50 nuclear power plants, which supply 70% of the nation’s electricity. To date, there haven’t been any major nuclear accidents.

But Guarnieri believes the officials at these French nuclear power plants need to read Yoshida’s testimony.

Recently, he met with Jean-Marc Cavedon, the director of the French Alternative Energies and Atomic Energy Commission on the outskirts of Paris.

Guarnieri stressed the unique importance of the Yoshida document, and urged them to devise safety measures for extreme situations.

“There will be no progress in risk management unless we learn from other people’s experience and improve as human beings,” says Cavedon.

“Nuclear power plants need to improve their risk management, by facing up to the disastrous events in Fukushima,” says Guarnieri.

Two years after the nuclear accident, Yoshida died of cancer.

Guarnieri is now intent on spreading the lessons of Yoshida’s testimony, to make sure such a tragedy never happens again.

https://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/en/news/editors/5/20170403/

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April 4, 2017 Posted by | Fukushima 2017 | , , , | Leave a comment

Yoshida’s Dilemma: if it wasn’t for one man, it could have been much worse

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March 11, 2011. A magnitude 9 earthquake rocks Japan and triggers a mega-tsunami that kills thousands of people. It also knocks out the power at Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant and triggers one of the worst nuclear accidents in history.
If it wasn’t for one man, it could have been much worse. 
 
“Rob Gilhooly has written what is probably the most comprehensive English-language account yet of the Fukushima nuclear meltdown.  Gilhooly is among the best-informed foreign reporters on this issue in Japan, having travelled to Fukushima several dozen times since being one of the first journalists to arrive in the prefecture on a freezing night in March 2011.  He gives the story of Masao Yoshida, perhaps the key figure in the disaster, all the detail, sympathy and pathos it demands.  His remarkable pictures throughout the book are a bonus.  Highly recommended. “
— David McNeil, The Economist.
 
“A powerful synthesis of the technical and the personal, Gilhooly succeeds in conveying the events of March 2011, its aftermath and the dramatic impact on the people of Fukushima and wider Japan. Six years after the start of the accident, Yoshida’s Dilemma is a necessary reminder of how through the actions of heroic individuals and luck Japan avoided an even greater catastrophe.”  
— S. David  Freeman, former Tennessee Valley Authority chairman, engineer, energy expert and author of Energy: The New Era and Winning Our Energy Independence
“As one of the few journalists to have covered the Fukushima story from the very start, Rob Gilhooly is perfectly placed to discuss the disaster’s causes and aftermath, and its wider ramifications for the future of nuclear power. From the chaotic scenes as the plant went into triple meltdown, to the plight of evacuated residents and Japan’s long and troubled relationship with atomic energy, Gilhooly combines fine story-telling with journalistic integrity to produce a book that is admirably free of hyperbole.” 
— Justin McCurry, The Guardian.
 
In Yoshida’s Dilemma, Rob Gilhooly, a long-term resident of Japan who has worked extensively as a journalist and photojournalist, has assembled a wealth of material, ranging from the reminiscences of the then Prime Minister of Japan, Naoto Kan, to the stories of those who worked to save the nation from disaster when the massive earthquake and tsunami hit the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant. 
 
This real-life thriller concentrates on Masao Yoshida, the director of the plant, who inspired his “troops” to risk their lives as they battled the invisible enemy of radiation, but also tells of those living nearby, who were forced to give up their homes and lifestyles which had been enjoyed by their families for generations, as power companies and bureaucrats dithered and obscured the facts surrounding the worst nuclear accident since Chernobyl.
 
While Gilhooly is careful not to take sides in the pro- and anti-nuclear power debate, the almost inescapable conclusion is that nuclear power is a highly dangerous technology – maybe even too dangerous to be employed using the current Japanese business model, where the “nuclear village” shuts out criticism, and even knowledge, of its often dangerous operational practices and decisions. Yoshida’s Dilemma provides a wake-up call to other nations with nuclear power, whether or not they are subject to the kind of natural disaster that destroyed Fukushima, and a must-read introduction to the way in which such technology is managed and promoted, not only in Japan, but in other countries.
 
Main areas covered:
– The story of the nuclear crisis, as experienced by the workers at the nuclear plant, the firefighters and other emergency units who battled to bring the melting reactors under control and officials in Tokyo, such as then Prime Minister Naoto Kan, charged with responding to the disasters  
– The impact of the crisis on residents and their evacuation from their homes near the plant
– US response, including efforts by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission to cooperate with TEPCO and Japan’s nuclear watchdog, the NISA 
– Historical and cultural perspectives on nuclear power in Japan, including the launch of the Atoms For Peace expo and other efforts by the nuclear energy lobby, sometimes referred to as the “nuclear power village,” to win over the Japanese public   
– Insights from experts about technical aspects of the nuclear accident
– A look at what might have happened had the worse-case scenario played out
– Anti-nuclear protests, including efforts by communities housing nuclear facilities to prevent those facilities from being re-started
– The real cost of the disasters, including the financial burden and the health impacts uncovered 
–  An examination of the true cost of nuclear power, which was widely promoted in the US and Japan as being “too cheap to meter” 
– The future of nuclear power in Japan and nuclear power’s position in a country often perceived as being resource-poor
– The future of new energies in Japan and the nation’s increasing reliance on coal-fired power stations
 

April 3, 2017 Posted by | Fukushima 2017 | , , , , | Leave a comment

After Fukushima, battling Tepco and leukemia

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Expendable’: Masaru Ikeda, a former worker at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant, is suing Tepco for failing to take adequate precautions against radiation exposure. Following his second stint at the stricken plant, Ikeda was diagnosed with leukemia, which labor authorities have said is linked to the radiation he was exposed to at the plant.

Eight-year-old Kenji hands his mother a tissue, which she uses to dry her eyes beneath thick-rimmed spectacles, her free hand giving her son’s closely cropped jet-black hair a gentle stroke. Michiko Ikeda has cried before, deeply, achingly, she admits, during a darker time when she faced the very real prospect of having to raise Kenji and his two siblings alone.

Then, Masaru, her husband of 15 years, had been diagnosed with leukemia following stints working at the stricken Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant and the neighboring Fukushima No. 2 facility, starting in the fall of 2011.

Even when he first said it was leukemia I thought it must be a mistake,” Michiko says as the afternoon sun streams through the window of the front room of her home in western Japan. “When the hospital confirmed it, my mind went blank. I couldn’t stop crying, wherever I went. The only image I had in my head was that my husband was going to die.”

The road to Fukushima for Masaru Ikeda began to unfold the day after the March 2011 disasters, when images from the tsunami-devastated Tohoku coast flooded the TV and internet. Among them was footage of bodies being laid out in a makeshift morgue, the feet and legs sticking out from beneath mud-encrusted blankets clearly belonging to children.

It was overwhelming and I couldn’t help wondering how I’d feel if it was my kids lying there,” says Masaru, 42, who, after 10 months of cancer treatment, was discharged from his hospital cleanroom, the cancer having been found to be one step short of incurable. “I knew I had to to do something to help.”

Shortly after, his boss at the construction company where he worked told him about a Fukushima contractor who was looking for labor to assist with the ongoing battle to bring the devastated nuclear facility under control. Even though he had never set foot in a nuclear power plant before, Ikeda’s 15 years of experience as a welder would be invaluable.

He asked if any of us were prepared to go up there, but nobody wanted to take the risk,” he says, adding that he, too, had initially hesitated. “I talked with colleagues and they said, ‘The workers at “1F” are like kamikaze pilots.’ … I still wanted to go, not for the sake of the country, but for the people of Tohoku.”

His family and friends objected vehemently. His father told him bluntly that if he went, he’d end up getting leukemia.

He didn’t say ‘cancer,’ or another illness, but ‘leukemia,’ possibly because of what happened after Hiroshima,” Ikeda says, referring to the leukemia that was the earliest delayed effect of radiation exposure seen among A-bomb survivors. “I told him there was no way that would happen.”

Ikeda’s work at the plant was as varied as it was hazardous. At one point he helped construct a facility to dispose of workers’ TyVek suits, the ubiquitous white hooded jumpsuits that after exposure to radiation were discarded onto mountainous piles inside the plant’s evacuation zone.

Later he was involved in the construction of a temporary elevator at shattered reactor 3 and a 50-meter-tall heavy-duty steel structure to surround reactor 4 and support a huge overhead crane that was needed to remove the smoldering fuel assemblies in the fuel pool. These had been exposed to the elements following an explosion that blew away the reactor roof and the original crane.

I was shocked when I first got there and saw the sheer volume of abandoned equipment and vehicles — including fire department and military trucks that had become irreversibly contaminated.”

He was also surprised by the makeup of the on-site workers — a curious mixture of day laborers and the homeless — not to mention the pitiful shortage of suitable clothing and masks to protect them from radiation, he says.

Later, when a lot of fuss was made about radioactivity, that kind of gear and PDMs (pocket dosimeters, which monitor radiation) became more commonplace, but before that it was basically regular work clothes and surgical masks,” he says. “During work at reactor 4 the levels were so high we were supposed to wear lead vests, but there were not enough to go round so some of us had to do without.”

Nonetheless, the high radiation levels meant that work close to the reactors rarely lasted more than an hour per day and on occasion was terminated after just 10 minutes.

In late 2013, Ikeda returned home for rest and recuperation following a dispute with a subcontracting firm that was refusing to honor the daily ¥6,000 hazard allowance promised to workers — considerably less than the ¥19,000 pledged by Tokyo Electric Power Co. (Tepco) president Naomi Hirose a month earlier.

It was about this time that he started to feel unwell. He couldn’t shake off a dry cough and found himself tiring far more easily than usual. Twice he scraped the side of his car without even realizing it.

In early 2014 a local doctor diagnosed him with a cold, making the news of a far more life-threatening illness during a company-sanctioned periodic health check a week later all the harder to swallow.

Results from a subsequent spinal tap revealed that 80 percent of the white blood cells in his bone marrow were abnormal. The doctor told him if he had waited a couple more weeks, treatment would not have been an option.

Nevertheless, it was still touch and go, and fearing he might not have much longer to live, Ikeda ignored the doctor’s recommendation for immediate hospitalization, instead returning home to spend time with his children, who were then only 5, 7 and 9.

It was only after I saw them through the glass of the cleanroom for the first time that I realized what a painful ordeal I had put them through,” says Ikeda. “I don’t regret going to Fukushima … but I do regret the distress I caused my family.”

Despite his father’s pre-Fukushima dispatch prophecy, Ikeda had yet to contemplate the possibility that his illness may be tied to the plant. The seed of that idea was planted by a surprising source — an official at Kajima Corp., a company he praises despite it being implicated in a kickback scandal that led some workers who had received little or no hazard compensation to take legal action.

For the time being, however, he felt fortunate and relieved. The health and labor ministry had recognized the illness as workplace-related, though it stopped short of stating it was directly tied to the 19.8 millisieverts of radioactivity he had been exposed to while working at nuclear plants.

Under health ministry guidelines, workers who are exposed to 5 mSv of radiation in a year can apply for compensation insurance payments. Ikeda did so successfully, meaning the government would help cover Ikeda’s medical costs and loss of income.

Shortly after, he was contacted by a friend still employed at the plant, who told him of a memo attached to a worker survey undertaken by plant operator Tepco.

The memo told workers not to worry about the decision to recognize the connection between my leukemia and radiation — that it was bogus,” Ikeda recalls. “It was as though Tepco was trying to erase the recognition of my work-related illness, which by law was its responsibility.”

Until then Ikeda insists he had “no intention” of suing Tepco, but its attitude made him “feel sick to the bone.”

I started to wonder what kind of people they are,” says Ikeda, who since his transfusions has suffered various ailments linked to the peripheral blood stem cell transplant he received for his acute myeloid leukemia (AML). “This is a company that for months denied the reactor meltdowns, and that caused the explosions by refusing to inject seawater (to cool the reactors) on the grounds it would render the reactors unusable. Then they turn a blind eye to a worker who helped clean up their mess. To them I was just another expendable laborer.”

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Heavy price: Masaru Ikeda looks through his bag of copious prescription medication.

Incensed, Ikeda started legal proceedings against Tokyo Electric Power Co. Holdings Inc., accusing the now-nationalized utility of failing to take adequate precautions against radiation exposure. His first hearing, where he filed for ¥59 million damages against both Tepco and Kyushu Electric Power Co., at whose Genkai plant he had also worked, commenced at the Tokyo District Court on Feb. 2.

A Tepco spokesperson denied the claims, saying the utility has endeavored “to manage all radiation exposure of workers,” adding there has been “no medical connection found (between radiation exposure and leukemia) … even from third-party or any other medical experts.”

A health ministry official stopped short of corroborating that view, saying it had awarded Ikeda compensation even though the “causal link between his exposure to radiation and his illness is unclear.”

Researchers worldwide are divided about the relation between radiation and leukemia and, indeed, some other cancers. Imperial College London cancer expert Geraldine Thomas, who is openly pro-nuclear, says there is in fact a connection, though leukemia and other cancers can also result from several factors.

AML … does have an association with radiation exposure. However, it also has an association with smoking, exposure to benzene (one of the contaminants in cigarette smoke), etc.,” says Thomas, who runs the Chernobyl Tissue Bank, which analyzes samples of tissue from people exposed to radiation after the Chernobyl nuclear disaster. “The problem with … these cases is that it is easy to blame radiation exposure, but almost impossible to prove or disprove, as there are no biomarkers that can be used to distinguish between different etiologies.”

The total dose Ikeda received was “very low,” Thomas adds, leading her to suspect that exposure to cigarette smoke is more likely to be a higher risk factor. Ikeda says he only started smoking after a doctor had recommended it to counter the stress resulting from the sometimes debilitating side-effects of his treatment.

While scientists such as Thomas show caution in their assessment of low exposure doses, Hisako Sakiyama, a medical doctor and former senior researcher at Japan’s National Institute of Radiological Sciences, is among those who insist that even lower doses can cause irreparable DNA damage known as “double strand breaks.” Such doses are therefore “capable of inducing cancer,” she says, “because the energy of radiation is stronger than that of the chemical bonds of DNA.”

Thomas counters that this alone is not enough to prove nuclear plants are the root of the problem because “double strand breaks are not uniquely caused by radiation.”

Ikeda’s lawyer, Yuichi Kaido, concedes that it’s scientifically problematic to prove his client’s leukemia is tied to radiation, even though Ikeda’s illness has been officially declared as being linked to his work.

More importantly, he has been exposed to a level of radiation clearly exceeding the standard set by the government, and incidences of leukemia (among the general public) are extremely low,” he says, referring to the leukemia incidence rate in Japan of 6.3 per 100,000 people, or 1.4 percent of 805,236 cancers diagnosed in 2010. “In this case, I think it has been proven that the probable cause (radiation) is clearly far beyond the 51 percent probability normally required in these kinds of civil cases.”

To assess Ikeda’s case, painstaking investigations into his medical and employment background were undertaken. Ikeda himself said he had often noticed what he believes were public security officials in black vehicles who he alleges would park near his home and tail him wherever he went, presumably checking on his lifestyle habits and the types of people with whom he kept company.

The outcome of the official investigation was that no other factors, such as viruses or other illnesses, could have caused his leukemia, according to Kaido.

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In his corner: Lawyer Yuichi Kaido is cautiously confident about Ikeda’s chances in court against Tepco. ‘It has been proven that the probable cause (radiation) is clearly far beyond the 51 percent probability normally required in these kinds of civil cases,’ he says.

Until now, there have been only two other known lawsuits like Ikeda’s. One of those — involving plumber Mitsuaki Nagao, who had been diagnosed with a type of bone marrow cancer after being exposed to 70 mSv of radiation at nuclear power plants including Fukushima No. 1 — was rejected by the Tokyo High Court in 2009, by which time Nagao had died. Kaido says that ruling could prove to be a “huge hindrance” in gaining justice for the likes of Ikeda.

The big difference between then and now is the massive accident at Fukushima, where it is unthinkable that no health hazard resulted,” Kaido says, adding that in a wider social context, it is unconscionable that the utility that caused such environmental destruction and has since paid trillions of yen already in compensation to atone for the disaster, should fail to recompense a man who fell sick after helping Tepco overcome the dire situation at Fukushima No. 1.

Some people in Fukushima who were unable to return to their homes (because of high radiation levels) were paid hundreds of billions of yen, while my client hasn’t received a penny. That’s preposterous. Tepco has washed its hands of its social responsibility.”

Although initially reluctant to take action, Ikeda hopes that his legal suit will encourage others to come forward, even though since 1976, when the compensation regulations were introduced, only 13 workers have been officially recognized as having suffered illnesses related to workplace radiation exposure. Ikeda became No. 14, and the first since the meltdowns in Fukushima (see table).

I have heard that there are probably many more, but you never hear about them because settlements are reached” to keep them hushed up, says Ikeda, adding that accusations on various internet forums that people like him are nothing more than greedy opportunists had distressed him greatly. “I wouldn’t have taken this action if Tepco had shown some degree of remorse.”

Ikeda’s wife, Michiko, who works in an elderly care facility, says the most difficult time for her was during those long months of treatment, when her husband shed all his hair and over 20 kg in weight. He began to look pale and gaunt and didn’t have the energy to talk for more than five minutes when she visited, even though she remembers him chatting at length with a fellow cancer patient in the cleanroom — a patient who died three days later.

She also remembers the various memory-making trips, to Hokkaido and Okinawa, among others — trips they hoped would remain with their children throughout their lives. Just in case.

Nobody can say when (the leukemia) will return, and while I worry about that, there’s nothing I can do,” she says. “That’s fate. I still can’t help wishing he had never gone (to Fukushima), but also feel bitter that Tepco didn’t try to prevent this from happening.”

The family asked that their real names and location not be used. This article is based on a chapter from Rob Gilhooly’s book “Yoshida’s Dilemma: One Man’s Struggle to Avert Nuclear Catastrophe: Fukushima — March 2011,” published last month by Inknbeans Press (www.yoshidas-dilemma.com).


Nuclear plant workers’ illnesses officially recognized by the health ministry as being workplace-related (between 1976 and June 2014 — a total of 13 workers):

Leukemia

(recognized limit: over 5 millisieverts/year)

Accumulated doses (mSv) of workers in six cases:

1) 129.8
2) 74.9
3) 72.1
4) 50.0
5) 40.0
6) 5.2

Malignant lymphoma

(recognized limit: over 25 mSv)

1) 175.2
2) 173.6
3) 138.5
4) 99.8
5) 78.9

Multiple myeloma

(recognized limit: over 50 mSv)

1) 70.0
2) 65.0

http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2017/04/02/national/fukushima-battling-tepco-leukemia/#.WOG7J2_ys7Y

April 3, 2017 Posted by | Fukushima 2017 | , , , | 1 Comment

Street Artist 281_Antinuke Uses Art for His Message

“I feel immense pain, and my art is how I scream.” This man uses street art to remind people that Fukushima’s nuclear disaster is far from over.

 

An Interview with 281_Anti Nuke

October 1, 2013

The stickers went up a few months after Japan’s triple disaster in 2011—an earthquake and tsunami that took twenty thousand lives, and an ongoing nuclear crisis that threatens more. They first appeared along the shabby backstreets of Shibuya, in downtown Tokyo, a place that offers some of the very few canvasses for graffiti in a city not given to celebrating street art. The British expat photographer and filmmaker Adrian Storey couldn’t ignore them. “Being a foreigner, there was a sort of brief period after 3/11 when there was this sense of community in Tokyo that I haven’t felt before,” Storey says. “Then it kind of went away, and people just went back to shopping. I was drawn to the stickers because I realized it was a Japanese person behind them, and they actually cared about what was happening. I started photographing every sticker I found.”

Some stickers are small, eight inches or so in height. Others are the size of a stunted adult or a large child. In fact, children are featured in many of them, especially the motif of a young girl in a raincoat above the caption “I hate rain,” with the trefoil symbol for radiation stamped between “hate” and “rain.” On other stickers, silhouettes of the bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki are suspended in white space beside the logo for the Tokyo Electric Power Company, the government-allied conglomerate responsible for the operation and maintenance of the severely damaged Fukushima nuclear power plants. Sometimes the stark black lines and blotches resemble Rorschach tests. You look and see nothing, then look again and see Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s face, his mouth suffocated by an American flag.

The artist behind them calls himself 281_Anti Nuke, and he has become a cult phenomenon among Tokyo locals. The numerals refer to an athletic jersey he wore in high school. “It’s just nostalgia,” he says. “Memories of my happier times.” Tagged as the “Japanese Banksy,” he is an unlikely manifestation of Japan’s shredded identity: a contemporary artist of dissent in a country that rarely tolerates protest and barely supports modern art. His real name is Kenta Matsuyama, though few Japanese know that, since it appears only in the fine print on his manager’s English-language Web site. He is a fortysomething father born and raised near Fukushima, the site of Japan’s most pressing nuclear disaster. We meet in the heart of Shibuya, in a second-story café overlooking the most famous intersection in Japan—a crowded network of diagonal crosswalks that is featured in nearly every film set in Tokyo.

We are hiding in plain sight. “These people,” he says, gesturing toward the window and the masses below, “they only vote for the winner; they only think about the winner. They have no concept of real strength. They feel satisfied just knowing that the party they voted for won.” (That party, the archconservative, U.S.-friendly, and pro-nuclear Liberal Democratic Party, crows about a mandate after sweeping recent elections.) He is wearing a tight-fitting gray hoodie, pitch-black jeans and sunglasses, and a white surgical mask. It’s not always easy to hear him through the mask, so he tugs it down a bit when his speech quickens in anger. “Maybe it’s true that there’s no political party you can count on, but it’s more than that. It’s fear. It’s Japanese people never doubting their leaders. Looking out at Shibuya, I’m sure that nobody out there remembers the idea of radiation anymore. People abroad know more about the crisis in Fukushima than the Japanese. The Japanese are trying to forget. I want to make them remember.”

Anti Nuke is an active Twitter user, but when he first started posting his art, he received death threats so virulent that last year he temporarily took down his Twitter and Facebook accounts and started hiding all of his personal information. Even now, his Web site is often hacked. In public, when he is not cloaked by hoodie, sunglasses, and mask, he wears a full-body hazmat suit. As for his method: “Stickers are better than graffiti,” he says, “because they are faster to apply. You just stick them on and run off. And I use very simple English to be direct, without nuances. Like, ‘I hate rain.’ In Japanese, it’s ‘Watashi wa ame ga kirai.’ So in Japanese, you really need to talk about who hates rain, and why, and in what context. But in English it’s more iconic. There’s more room for the imagination, and that’s powerful.”

281_Anti Nuke’s work is about to reach more people via exhibitions in the New York and Los Angeles, and a documentary film about his art directed by Storey will début in festivals next year. “His mission is personal,” says Storey. “He wants people to think about the same things he’s thinking about, but, like he said to me many times, it’s about the future of his children. It’s the future of everybody’s children in Japan. He doesn’t want to make a name for himself.”

Perhaps. But donning hoodies, shades, and surgical masks, not to mention the occasional hazmat suit, is an odd strategy for anonymity. “It’s fine if I become famous if it helps communicate this huge problem,” Anti Nuke concedes. “There are bigger problems in Fukushima than we know now. I’m sure of that. I’ve communicated with people there. I have family there. The Japanese government will not save them, and since the survivors cannot escape, Fukushima people hate Tokyo people for the electricity they use and cannot conserve.”

He insists that he is not anti-American, just pro-truth. “I love the American people, but I want them to help save Japan. This time, it’s the Japanese people who are to blame. We’re not aware, and we are actively trying to forget. We need foreigners to save us from ourselves.”

http://www.newyorker.com/culture/culture-desk/an-interview-with-281_anti-nuke

https://fr.pinterest.com/0xf2xv5378195w/281_antinuke/

 

April 3, 2017 Posted by | Fukushima 2017 | , , , , | Leave a comment

Real cost of Fukushima disaster to reach $626 billion. Think tank estimate triple that of government

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A Tokyo-based think tank estimates that the complete cost of dealing with the Fukushima disaster could reach ¥70 trillion.

 

Fukushima nuclear disaster aftermath cost estimated at Y70 trillion

TOKYO —The total cost to deal with the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant disaster has been estimated at 70 trillion yen ($626 billion), over three times more than the government calculation, a study by a private think tank showed Saturday.

The Japan Center for Economic Research said total costs at the Fukushima nuclear complex operated by Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings Inc could rise to between 50 trillion and 70 trillion yen. It compares with the roughly 22 trillion yen a government panel estimated in December.

If costs rise, the public burden could greatly increase. The country’s nuclear policy needs to be reviewed,” the JCER said.

Initially in the wake of the Fukushima disaster, the government expected the costs to total 11 trillion.

But a study by the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry showed the figure could be double the sum estimated in 2013.

Following that, the government decided to raise electricity rates to secure the money necessary to cover compensation payments, increasing the national burden.

Among the costs, the bill for compensation has been estimated at 8 trillion yen by the ministry. The JCER also adopted the figure.

The JCER, however, estimated costs for decontamination work at 30 trillion yen, compared with the government’s figure of 6 trillion yen, after the think tank made a calculation under a presumption that radioactive substances are disposed of at a facility in Rokkasho village in Aomori Prefecture.

The government is seeking a way to treat waste in Fukushima Prefecture, including radioactive soil, of which the amount could add up to roughly 22 million cubic meters, but where and how it will be disposed of has yet to be decided. Costs related to the procedure are not included in the government’s calculation.

Costs for decommissioning crippled reactors, which is expected to take 30 to 40 years, were estimated by the center at 11 trillion yen, compared with the government’s 8 trillion yen.

Expenses to treat contaminated water that remains in tanks at the plant were estimated by the center at 20 trillion yen unless the toxic water is released in the ocean after being diluted as nuclear regulation authorities recommend.

https://www.japantoday.com/category/national/view/fukushima-nuclear-disaster-aftermath-cost-estimated-at-y70-tril

 

Real cost of Fukushima disaster will reach ¥70 trillion, or triple government’s estimate: think tank

A private think tank says the total cost of the Fukushima disaster could reach ¥70 trillion ($626 billion), or more than three times the government’s latest estimate.

In a study Saturday, the Japan Center for Economic Research said costs of dealing with the heavily damaged Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant run by Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings Inc. could rise to between ¥50 trillion and ¥70 trillion.

In December, the government estimated the costs would reach roughly ¥22 trillion.

If costs rise, the public burden could greatly increase. The country’s nuclear policy needs to be reviewed,” JCER said.

The government’s initial expectations pegged the costs at ¥11 trillion.

But a study by the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry said that the final figure could turn out to be double the sum estimated in 2013.

Following that, the government decided to raise electricity rates to secure the money needed to cover compensation payments to the evacuees.

According to METI’s estimates, the bill for compensation payments will be ¥8 trillion, a figure the JCER decided to adopt.

The JCER, however, estimates the cost of the decontamination work will hit ¥30 trillion, or five times more than the government’s estimate of ¥6 trillion. The think tank based this calculation on a presumption that radioactive substances will be disposed of at a nuclear facility in the village of Rokkasho in Aomori Prefecture.

The government is seeking a way to treat radioactive soil and other waste in Fukushima Prefecture that could grow to roughly 22 million cu. meters, but where and how to dispose of it has yet to be decided.

Costs related to this procedure are not included in the government’s calculations.

In the meantime, JCER estimates that the cost of decommissioning the crippled reactors, which is expected to take 30 to 40 years, will reach ¥11 trillion. The government’s estimate is ¥8 trillion.

JCER also estimates that treating the contaminated water stored in hundreds of tanks at the plant will cost ¥20 trillion unless it is dumped into the ocean after being diluted as recommended by regulators.

http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2017/04/01/national/real-cost-fukushima-disaster-will-reach-%C2%A570-trillion-triple-governments-estimate-think-tank/#.WN_DfVBtn64

April 3, 2017 Posted by | Fukushima 2017 | , , | Leave a comment

Fukushima Bill

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Six years after Japan’s Fukushima nuclear disaster, Westinghouse and Toshiba join Tokyo Electric Power in a fight for survival.

Six years after Japan’s Fukushima nuclear accident three global nuclear corporations are fighting for their very survival.

The bankruptcy filing by Westinghouse Electric Co. and its parent company Toshiba Corp. preparing to post losses of ¥1 trillion (US$9 billion), is a defining moment in the global decline of the nuclear power industry.

However, whereas the final financial meltdown of Westinghouse and Toshiba will likely be measured in a few tens of billions of dollars, those losses are but a fraction of what Tokyo Electric Power Co. (Tepco) is looking at as a result of the Fukushima nuclear disaster.

If the latest estimates for the cost of cleaning up the Fukushima plant prove accurate, Tepco faces the equivalent of a Toshiba meltdown every year until 2087.

In November 2016, the Japanese Government announced a revised estimate for the Fukushima nuclear accident (decommissioning, decontamination, waste management and compensation) of ¥21.5 trillion (US$193 billion) – a doubling of their estimate in 2013.

But the credibility of the government’s numbers have been questioned all along, given that the actual ‘decommissioning’ of the Fukushima plant and its three melted reactors is entering into an engineering unkown.

This questioning was borne out by the November doubling of cost estimates after only several years into the accident, when there is every prospect Tepco will be cleaning up Fukushima well into next century.

And sure enough, a new assessment published in early March from the Japan Institute for Economic Research, estimates that total costs for decommissioning, decontamination and compensation as a result of the Fukushima atomic disaster could range between ¥50-70 trillion (US$449-628 billion).

Rather than admit that the Fukushima accident is effectively the end of Tepco as a nuclear generating company, the outline of a restructuring plan was announced last week.

Tepco Holdings, the entity established to manage the destroyed nuclear site, and the Nuclear Damage Compensation and Decommissioning Facilitation Corporation (NDF) are seeking ways to sustain the utility in the years ahead, confronted as they are with escalating Fukushima costs and electricity market reform.

The NDF, originally established by the Government in 2011 to oversee compensation payments and to secure electricity supply, had its scope broadened in 2014 to oversee decommissioning of the Fukushima Daiichi plant on the Pacific Ocean coast north of Tokyo.

The latest restructuring plan is intended to find a way forward for Tepco by securing a future for its nuclear, transmission and distribution businesses. If possible in combination with other energy companies in Japan.

But the plan, already received less than warmly by other utilities rightly concerned at being burdened with Tepco’s liabilities, is premised on Fukushima cost estimates of ¥21.5 trillion — not ¥50-70 trillion.

To date Tepco’s Fukushima costs have been covered by interest-free government loans, with ¥6 trillion (US$57 billion) already paid out. Since 2012 Tepco’s electricity ratepayers have paid ¥2.4 trillion to cover nuclear-related costs, including the Fukushima accident site.

That is nothing compared to the costs looming over future decades and beyond and it comes at a time when Tepco and other electric utilities are under commercial pressure as never before.

The commercial pressure comes from electricity market reform that since April 2016 allowed consumers to switch from the monopoly utilities to independent power providers.

Prior to the deregulation of the retail electricity market, Tepco had 22 million customers. As the Tepco president observed late last year “The number (of customers leaving Tepco) is changing every day as the liberalization continues … We will of course need to think of ways to counter that competition.”

Countering that competition shouldn’t mean rigging the market, yet Tepco and the other utilities intend to try and retain their decades long dominance of electricity by retaining control over access to the grid. This is a concerted push back against the growth of renewable energy.

Current plans to open the grid to competition in 2020, so called legal unbundling, are essential to wrest control from the big utilities.

The message of unbundling and independence, however, doesn’t seem to have reached the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI) that oversees the electricity industry.

Current plans would allow Tepco to establish separate legal entities: Tepco Fuel & Power (thermal power generation), Tepco Energy Partner (power distribution) and Tepco Power Grid (power transmission).

Tepco Holdings will retain their stock and control their management, meaning the same monopoly will retain control of the grid. Where Tepco leads, the other nine electric utilities are aiming to follow.

Leaving the grid effectively still under the control of the traditional utilities will throw up a major obstacle to large scale expansion of renewable energy sources from new companies.

Such businesses will be ‘curtailed’ or stopped from supplying electricity to the grid when the large utilities decide it’s necessary, justified for example to maintain the stability of the grid.

The fact that ‘curtailment’ will be permitted in many regions without financial compensation piles further pain onto new entrants to the electricity market, and by extension consumers.

Further, METI plans to spread the escalating costs of Fukushima so that other utilities and new power companies pay a proportion of compensation costs. METI’s justification for charging customers of new energy companies is that they benefited from nuclear power before the market opened up.

The need to find someone else to pay for Tepco’s mess is underscored by the breakdown of the Fukushima disaster cost estimate in November.

When put at ¥22 trillion estimate, ¥16 trillion is supposed to be covered by Tepco. The Ministry of Finance is to offer ¥2 trillion for decontamination, and the remaining ¥4 trillion is to be provided by other power companies and new electricity providers.

The question is how does Tepco cover its share of the costs when it’s losing customers and its only remaining nuclear plant in Japan, Kashiwazaki Kariwa (the worlds largest), has no prospect of restarting operation due to local opposition?

What happens when Fukushima costs rise to the levels projected of ¥50-70 trillion?

The policy measures being put in place by Tepco, other utilities and the government suggests that they know what is coming and their solution for paying for the world’s most costly industrial accident will be sticking both hands into the public purse,

http://www.atimes.com/article/tepcos-fukushima-expensive-industrial-accident-history/

April 3, 2017 Posted by | Fukushima 2017 | , , | Leave a comment