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Pacific Forum Members Hold Third Briefing With Japan Regarding Fukushima Treated Nuclear Wastewater

Thursday, 16 September 2021, 6:01 am
Press Release: Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat

Wed 15th September 2021—Pacific nations continue to raise questions and concerns in closed briefing sessions around plans by Japan to discharge over a million tonnes of treated water from the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant into the Pacific Ocean.

The Government of Japan committed to ongoing dialogue with Forum Members as a priority follow up to the PALM9 Summit in July. This followed Japan’s announcement in April of plans to begin discharge in 2023, for a period of up to 40 years. The announcement drew strong global response, including from the Forum Chair and Leaders.

In his opening comments at the third briefing on Tuesday afternoon, Secretary General of the Pacific Islands Forum Henry Puna noted the issues require “open and frank consultation” along with sustained dialogue at the political and technical level.

Japan officials presented a status update on the ALPS (Advanced Liquid Processing System) Treated Water, interim measures regarding the planned discharge, and outcomes of the latest International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) visit to Fukushima.

While appreciative of the information being shared by Japan, Secretary General Puna reiterated the region’s unequivocal need for information as being key to safeguard the Blue Pacific as a nuclear-free zone. “I appeal to the Government of Japan to continue to share the relevant information in its totality, and within agreed timelines.”

“Importantly for us in the Blue Pacific, our fears really lie in the transboundary nature of the impacts. We require nothing less than full and complete disclosure of all information and evidence to enable us to fully understand the nature and extent of the impact, and to enable us to make a comprehensive and unbiased assessment of the impacts of the proposed ALPS water discharge.”

As reiterated by Forum Foreign Ministers on 27 July, the region is actively pursuing efforts to advance Forum Leaders’ commitments to international consultation, international law, and independent expertise to provide guidance and verifiable scientific assessments. To accelerate efforts, the Forum will engage independent experts to support the region’s efforts over the next months.

Thanking the Government of Japan, Secretary General Puna said he is hopeful there will be ways to address Pacific concerns to reach “solutions that are based on science, and consistent with legal and moral obligations.”

September 17, 2021 Posted by | Fukushima 2021 | , , , | Leave a comment

Lethal radiation levels detected in Fukushima nuke plant reactor lid

A remotely controlled robot inserts a dosimeter into a hole created to measure radiation levels beneath the uppermost lid of the No. 2 reactor’s containment vessel in a study on Sept. 9.

The operator of the crippled Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant could be forced to reconsider the plant’s decommissioning process after lethal radiation levels equivalent to those of melted nuclear fuel were detected near one of the lids covering a reactor.

The Nuclear Regulation Authority said Sept. 14 that a radiation reading near the surface of the lid of the No. 2 reactor’s containment vessel was 1.2 sieverts per hour, higher than the level previously assumed.

The discovery came on Sept. 9 during a study by the NRA and Tokyo Electric Power Co., the operator of the plant.

TEPCO plans to insert a robotic arm into the No. 2 reactor’s containment vessel from its side in a trial planned for the second half of 2022 to retrieve pieces of melted nuclear fuel.

“We will consider what we can do during the trial on the basis of the detection of the concentration of contamination” in the upper area of the containment vessel, a TEPCO official said.

The round concrete lid, called the shield plug, is 12 meters in diameter and about 60 centimeters thick.

The shield plug consists of three lids placed on top of each other to block extremely high radiation emanating from the reactor core.

Each lid weighs 150 tons.

When operators work on the decommissioning, the shield plug will be removed to allow for the entry into the containment vessel.

The NRA said a huge amount of radioactive cesium that was released during the meltdown of the No. 2 reactor in March 2011 remained between the uppermost lid and middle lid.

In the Sept. 9 study, workers bored two holes measuring 7 cm deep each on the surface of the uppermost lid to measure radiation doses there by deploying remotely controlled robots.

One radiation reading was 1.2 sieverts per hour at a location 4 cm down from the surface in a hole near the center of the lid.

September 15, 2021 Posted by | Fukushima 2021 | , , | Leave a comment

TEPCO not informing the Regulation Agency for 2 years about the 25 damaged filters at Fukushima Daiichi NPP

After finishing my stage (*Mako and her husband Ken are comedians) , we attended a Monitoring and Evaluation meeting of the Nuclear Regulatory Agency and a press conference of TEPCO today.

Various terrible things came out at the Regulatory Agency meeting. As for the holes of ALPS high-performance filters, although no photos came out at the press conference with TEPCO no matter how much I requested, I found them in the document from the Regulatory Agency.

It was much worse than I had imagined. TEPCO said they didn’t notice that there were such holes for these two years.

They replaced the 25 filters with holes (*out of 25 filters, means all filters had holes) in 2019.(This incident wasn’t published, nor reported to the Regulatory Agency.)

In 2021, 24 out of 25 filters have holes.The photos are here.These filters are not for ALPS’s contaminated water treatment, but the ones for the treatment of gaseous waste generated in the process.

The terrible thing is, until being asked at the press conference on August 31st, TEPCO had not explained the total damage of the filters two years ago.

When I asked, I got the answer that 25 out of 25 filters were damaged two years ago. Why didn’t TEPCO explain it voluntarily? That’s quite important information, isn’t it?

I wanted to know how TEPCO would explain it at today’s Regulatory Agency meeting and what kind of discussion would develop.

TEPCO reported only this year’s filter damages and didn’t explain the damage of all filters two years ago to the Regulatory Agency!

TEPCO finally gave an oral explanation when they were asked by chance, “What was the situation at the time of the last inspection?” by Mr. Yasui, Inspector General of the Regulatory Agency.

The Regulatory Agency got to know for the first time today about the damage of all 25 high-performance filters two years ago (and this time the 24 of 25 filters were damaged again). It was natural that the members of the Regulatory Agency got angry about the fact and the discussion about a completely damaged high-performance filter did not proceed at all …! !!

During unofficial Q and A session at the end of the meeting, we shared various information with Mr. Takeuchi, the director of the Regulatory Agency.

September 15, 2021 Posted by | Fukushima 2021 | , | 1 Comment

Fukushima plant failed to probe cause of faulty filters

TOKYO (AP) — Officials at Japan’s wrecked Fukushima nuclear power plant have acknowledged they neglected to investigate the cause of faulty exhaust filters that are key to preventing radioactive pollution, after being forced to replace them twice.

Representatives of the operator, Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings, made the revelation Monday during a regular review of the Fukushima Daiichi plant at a meeting with Japanese regulatory authorities. Three reactors at the plant melted following a massive earthquake and tsunami in 2011.

The filters are designed to prevent particles from escaping into the air from a contaminated water treatment system — called Advanced Liquid Processing System — that removes selected radioactive isotopes in the water to below legal limits.

“At the core of this problem is TEPCO’s attitude,” a Nuclear Regulation Authority commissioner, Nobuhiko Ban, said at the meeting.

TEPCO has been repeatedly criticized for coverups and delayed disclosures of problems at the plant. In February, it said two seismometers at one reactor had remained broken since last year and failed to collect data during a powerful earthquake.

Company officials said that 24 out of 25 filters attached to the water treatment equipment had been found damaged last month, after an alarm went off as workers were moving sludge from the unit to a container, temporarily suspending the water treatment. The operation partially resumed last week after the filters were replaced.

TEPCO said it had detected similar damage in all of the filters two years ago, but never investigated the cause of the problem and did not take any preventive steps after replacing the filters.

Another regulatory commissioner, Satoru Tanaka, said at the meeting that the utility company should have responded to the problem more quickly to minimize the risk of possible radiation leakage into the environment.

TEPCO officials said dust monitors indicated no radiation leaks to the outside or exposure to plant workers inside the water treatment facility.

Akira Ono, head of TEPCO’s decommissioning unit, said he regretted the utility’s failure to address the problem earlier. He promised to improve safety management.

Japanese officials are working with the International Atomic Energy Agency to prepare to discharge into the ocean the wrecked plant’s cooling water, treated so its radioactivity levels are below legal limits. Slated to start in spring 2023, the controversial plan is fiercely opposed by Fukushima’s fishing community, as well as local residents and nearby countries.

Fully decommissioning the nuclear plant is expected to take decades, experts say.

September 15, 2021 Posted by | Fukushima 2021 | , | Leave a comment

Pharyngeal cancer recognized as work-related injury for two convergence workers after Fukushima Daiichi nuclear accident

September 09, 2011
The Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare (MHLW) has recognized the causal relationship between the cancer and the work, and certified it as a work-related accident.
This is the first time that pharyngeal cancer has been recognized as an occupational injury related to the convergence work of the nuclear power plant accident.

The two victims were a man in his 60s who worked for TEPCO, and a man who worked for a subcontractor who developed the disease in his 40s and later died.

According to the Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare, after the accident at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant in March 2011, the two men worked on the premises of the plant, removing debris and measuring radiation levels.

However, in December 2018 and January of last year, they both developed pharyngeal cancer and applied for workers’ compensation.

The two men were exposed to about 85 millisieverts and 44 millisieverts, respectively, during their work at the plant.

A panel of experts from the Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare recognized a causal relationship between the two workers’ radiation doses and their cancer, as their radiation doses exceeded 100 millisieverts, which is the standard for certification.

This is the first time that pharyngeal cancer has been recognized as an occupational injury related to the convergence work of the nuclear power plant accident.

Since the accident at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant, six workers have been recognized as suffering from leukemia, thyroid cancer, and lung cancer. uE

September 9, 2021 Posted by | Fukushima 2021 | , | Leave a comment

TEPCO plan to discharge water relies on winning local trust

Storage tanks holding treated contaminated water at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant complex on April 12

September 7, 2021

More than four months have passed since the government gave the green light to plans for Tokyo Electric Power Co. to release treated radioactive water from the crippled Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant into the Pacific Ocean.

TEPCO, the plant’s operator, recently announced it would construct a tunnel to discharge the water about 1 kilometer offshore. At the same time, the government unveiled its strategy for responding to concerns the discharge could cause irreparable reputational damage to local businesses, the fishing industry, in particular.

Ever since the nuclear crisis triggered by the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami disaster, the utility has been pumping tons of water to cool melted nuclear fuel at the wrecked facility. Rain and ground water have added to the deluge with the result that the volume of radiation-contaminated water has continued to grow rapidly.

The water is stored in more than 1,000 tanks installed within the compound after being treated with special equipment to eliminate most of the highly radioactive materials. TEPCO said the tanks will reach capacity around spring 2023. The plant operator then intends to start releasing the treated water after first diluting it with seawater.

Under TEPCO’s plan, an undersea tunnel will be built to discharge the treated water. It said the tunnel will ensure that the treated water does not re-enter the on-site discharge equipment after it has been diluted.

This will be a gigantic construction project that will start with a geological survey of the seabed, something that must be approved by the Nuclear Regulation Authority.

TEPCO pledged to measure the concentration of tritium, a radioactive isotope of hydrogen produced as a byproduct in nuclear reactors which cannot be removed with filtering equipment, before the water is released into the ocean. This is a welcome effort to allay concerns among local businesses and communities, especially the fisheries industry.

The company, whose reputation has further been tarnished by a series of embarrassing revelations about security lapses, including those at the Kashiwazaki-Kariwa nuclear plant in Niigata Prefecture, needs to realize it has an obligation to take all possible steps to ensure the operation is conducted safely and be willing to disclose all related information and options.

No matter how cautiously the problem of tritium-tainted water is handled, the plan to release treated contaminated water into the sea is bound to trigger negative publicity and deter people from eating fish caught in local waters.

To deal with this challenge, the government decided to establish a fund to buy catches that can be put in frozen storage. The fund is framed as an emergency relief measure to assist fishermen and fisheries businesses expecting to face sharp drops in sales. It is a well-conceived proposal to help those affected by the nuclear disaster regain their livelihoods, in addition to providing cash to compensate for their economic losses.

But not all marine products are fit for freezing. Frozen fish tend to fetch lower prices compared with when they are sold fresh. How to secure viable operations of the proposed fund remains a key question, but the government has only said that details will be worked out by the end of the year.

Fisheries businesses may not be only targets of rumors that require compensation payouts. To ease anxiety among local businesses, TEPCO said victims alone will not be forced to bear the burden of proof. The company says it will assess economic losses by comparing prices and sales after it starts releasing the contaminated water into the sea with corresponding estimates for before the operation gets under way.

Still, local businesses remain concerned about whether they will receive appropriate compensation from the utility, which rejected out-of-court settlements with a number of plaintiffs in damages lawsuits proposed by the government’s Nuclear Damage Compensation Dispute Resolution Center. The government, which is effectively the utility’s largest shareholder, has a duty to supervise the company to ensure it offers compensation swiftly and appropriately to any new parties that suffer losses as a result of the water discharge operation.

TEPCO hopes to begin discharging the treated water in spring 2023. It has pledged not to “undertake any disposal measure without gaining the understanding of stakeholders.”

The company will not be able to move forward with the plan unless it first wins the trust of the local communities through sincere and honest talks.

September 8, 2021 Posted by | Fukushima 2021 | , , | Leave a comment

Experts say that the government’s measures against harmful rumors are “an extension of what we’ve been doing for 10 years.

We have been reporting in this series about the ripple effect of the release of tritiated water into the ocean.

Many people concerned about the release of tritium into the sea are concerned about the reputational damage.

On the 24th, the government presented an interim summary of the immediate measures to deal with the reputational damage.

First of all, as a measure to prevent reputational damage, fish should be raised in treated water and information should be disseminated in an easy-to-understand manner.

The measures include monitoring by international organizations and ensuring transparency.

In the event of reputational damage, a new fund will be set up to temporarily purchase frozen marine products, and sufficient compensation will be provided to match the actual damage.

Looking at it this way, it seems to be a continuation of the previous measures. We examined whether these measures are really effective.

Chief Cabinet Secretary Katsunobu Kato
“We will create an environment in which we can overcome rumors and continue our business with peace of mind, even if rumors should arise.

A meeting of relevant ministers on March 24.
The government has put together a list of immediate measures to deal with the reputational damage caused by the release of treated water.

The government and Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO) plan to release treated water from the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant into the sea by the spring of the following year.

One of the fishermen in the prefecture commented on the measures taken.
“One of the fishermen in the prefecture said, “The decision was made without any discussion or explanation.
“One of the fishermen in the prefecture severely criticized the measures, saying, “We can’t accept it and this way of proceeding is unacceptable.

The prefectural fishermen’s federation also said, “We haven’t received an explanation from the government yet, and we want to wait for that before considering our response.

There is a strong opposition to the release of radioactive materials both inside and outside of the prefecture.

“They have not yet fulfilled their promise not to release the radioactive materials without the understanding of the people concerned.

Professor Ryota Koyama of Fukushima University, who has studied reputational damage in the prefecture and served as a member of the government’s subcommittee, points out that the latest measures to curb reputational damage are “almost the same” as the previous measures.

Professor Ryota Koyama, School of Food and Agricultural Sciences, Fukushima University
“I’m concerned that if this is the case, it’s just an extension of what we’ve been doing for the past 10 years, and if we say we’re going to release the pollutants two years from now under the same conditions, the problem will get bigger.

Another problem is the assumption that reputational rumors will occur, according to Professor Koyama.

Professor Ryota Koyama, School of Food and Agricultural Sciences, Fukushima University
“If we assume that harmful rumors will occur, then we cannot agree to that, and I think the whole premise is that we should not create a situation two years from now where the price of (marine products) falls to the point where we have to buy them, or where trading is suspended.

He also said that we need to analyze the current situation and rethink what we should do to prevent harmful rumors.

Professor Ryota Koyama, School of Food and Agricultural Sciences, Fukushima University
Professor Ryota Koyama of Fukushima University’s Department of Food and Agricultural Sciences said, “Consumers and distributors in Tokyo do not have a good understanding of the situation. I would like to see a process of analyzing this lack of progress and then formulating countermeasures based on the current situation.

August 27, 2021 Posted by | Fukushima 2021 | , , | Leave a comment

TEPCO to build new 1km long undersea tunnel to release Fukushima Daiichi radioactive water offshore

On the 24th, it was learned through interviews with officials that Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO) has decided to build a new submarine tunnel about one kilometer long, run pipes through it, and release the treated water from the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant offshore. The radioactive substance tritium contained in the treated water will be diluted to below the standard value, but by releasing the water offshore, the company hopes to further dilute it and spread it, thereby curbing the reputational damage that the local people are concerned about.
 On the same day, the government held a meeting of ministers concerned with the disposal of the treated water. If the release of the water into the ocean causes damage such as a decrease in sales or prices of marine products, the government will purchase the water at its own expense to support the fishermen, and is preparing the environment for the release. On the other hand, there is a deep-rooted opposition from the local community and fishermen, and there are many uncertainties about the future outlook.

August 24, 2021 Posted by | Fukushima 2021 | , | Leave a comment

After 3/11, emergency import of a concrete pump vehicle from China allowed for nuclear power plant cooling

Translated from Japanese by Dennis Riches

March 13, 2021

In order to prevent further damage caused by the accident at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant, caused by the Great East Japan Earthquake that occurred on March 11, 2011, it was urgent to cool the reactors. At that time, a concrete pump vehicle from China was used to perform this critical task. This is the story of how it came to be used.

At that time, TEPCO and the Japanese government searched for various ways to cool the reactors, and none of the attempts, such as dropping water from helicopters or releasing water using fire engines, were successful. Because it had to avoid radiation exposure as much as possible, the helicopter was almost completely ineffective. It had to drop water from a fairly high position and it was pushed back by the wind. The fire engine was not high enough at all, so it had no effect.

Therefore, it was understood that the sort of vehicle used for pumping concrete through a long boom would be needed. A concrete pump truck is a machine used in construction that can pump concrete to a high height through a collapsible boom. Thus TEPCO wondered if this machine could be used to pump water into the reactors. This would be more effective than using fire trucks and helicopters, but there was one big problem.

Regulations of the Road Transport Vehicle Act limited the angle and total vehicle weight to 25 tons, so the length of the boom on machines in Japan was limited to a maximum of 36 m, and there were no 60m-class pump vehicles in Japan that could be used for water-pouring work at a nuclear power plant.

As a result of searching around the world, they found a concrete pump vehicle with a boom of 62 meters in length manufactured by a construction machinery manufacturer called Sanshi Heavy Industries in China. In addition, it was a pump vehicle with very good performance, and it was possible to remotely operate it from two kilometers away. TEPCO immediately told Sanshi Heavy Industries in China that it would like to purchase it through Sanshi Heavy Industries’ Japanese subsidiary, but Mr. Liang Onkon, president of Sanshi Heavy Industries, gave a surprising response.

“Please do not sell to Japan. Don’t sell. Japan is a neighboring country. We share the ocean to our east. Now is the time to reach out to help. The pump vehicle will be donated to the disaster-stricken areas of Japan.” In other words, instead of selling a concrete pump vehicle worth 150 million yen, he replied that he wanted to provide it free of charge. And they didn’t just send vehicles. He said that three expert engineers from Sanshi Heavy Industries would also come to Japan to give lessons on how to operate the machine.

The president of WWB Co., Ltd., a Japanese agent of Sanshi Heavy Industries, looks back on the situation at that time. “When the donation was decided, soon Sanshi Heavy Industries searched for a pump truck with a 62m boom. We found that, very fortunately, there happened to be a concrete pump truck in the port of Shanghai that matched the requirements. The machine was due to be shipped to a client in Germany. I was about to leave for Germany, but the German company readily agreed and decided to send it to the disaster-stricken areas of Japan through the Red Cross Society. The concrete pump vehicle was taken from the ship heading to Germany and immediately put on the Suzhou (a ship going from Shanghai to Osaka) and headed for Japan. After arriving in Japan, I spent two days learning how to operate it in Noda City, Chiba Prefecture, and then I left for Fukushima.”

In this interview, we were able to talk in detail with Tomohiro Kawazoe, then president of Sanichi Japan, a Japanese subsidiary of Sanichi Heavy Industries. “I made a trip by myself from Osaka to Chiba to Fukushima because I had to examine the route in detail to check road width, bridges, tunnels, etc. It is a vehicle with a total weight of 55 tons.”

The police in the prefectures along the route also cooperated fully, and traffic restrictions such as 100 blockades of roads were also carried out in some areas so that they could move safely to Fukushima. Police cars in each prefecture escorted the concrete pump vehicle.

Originally, there were various regulations and it would ordinarily take time to travel on public roads in Japan with such an unusual cargo, but this time the issuance of provisional permits was done smoothly. These were extrajudicial measures because the machine was donated with the Red Cross Society as an intermediary. The project was realized in an unusually short period of about two weeks.

March 13, 2021 Posted by | Fukushima 2021 | , | 2 Comments

Decade after Fukushima disaster, Greenpeace sees cleanup failure

Greenpeace has recommended that Japan suspend the current return policies, which it says “ignore science-based analysis, including potential lifetime exposure risks to the population” and abandon plans to lift evacuation orders in six municipalities

(FILES) This handout file picture taken and received by Tokyo Electric Power Co (TEPCO) on April 10, 2011 shows an aerial view of the first reactor building of TEPCO’s No.1 Fukushima nuclear power plant in the town of Okuma in Fukushima prefecture, two months after the earthquake and tsunami hit the region on March 11, 2011. – Ten years after the Fukushima disaster, Japan’s nuclear industry remains crippled, with the majority of the country’s reactors halted or on the path towards decommissioning.

Mar 4, 2021

Ten years after the worst nuclear accident since Chernobyl, land Japan identified for cleanup from the triple reactor meltdown of the Fukushima No. 1 power plant remains contaminated, according to a report from Greenpeace.

On average, just 15% of land in the “Special Decontamination Area,” which is home to several municipalities, has been cleaned up, according to the environmental advocacy group’s analysis of government data. That’s despite the government’s claims that the area has largely been decontaminated, the group said.

In addition, Greenpeace said its own radiation surveys conducted over the last decade have consistently found readings above government target levels, including in areas that have been reopened to the public. The lifting of evacuation orders in places where radiation remains above safe levels potentially exposes people to an increased risk of cancer, the report said.

“The contamination remains and is widespread, and is still a very real threat to long term human health and the environment,” the report said.

Japan’s Ministry of Environment wasn’t immediately available for comment. Decontamination efforts have reduced radiation levels in residential areas by an average of 76%, according to the ministry’s website, which has compiled monitoring data through 2018. Fukushima Prefecture wasn’t immediately available for comment.

More than 160,000 people were evacuated from the area surrounding the Fukushima nuclear plant after a magnitude 9 earthquake, the biggest ever recorded to hit Japan, caused a massive tsunami that overwhelmed the plant. While the government has been steadily lifting evacuation orders on towns since 2014, roughly 36,000 people are still displaced.

Greenpeace recommended that Japan suspend the current return policy, which “ignore science-based analysis, including potential lifetime exposure risks to the population” and abandon plans to lift evacuation orders in six municipalities.

March 6, 2021 Posted by | Fukushima 2021 | , , , | Leave a comment

85% of Special Decontamination Area remained contaminated Fukushima Daiichi decommissioning road map unachievable – a new plan is inevitable


Mar 4, 2021 (Greenpeace Japan) – Nearly a decade after the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear accident, Greenpeace released two reports today that highlighted the complex legacy of the 11 March 2011 earthquake and tsunami. 

The first report Fukushima 2011-2020 detailed radiation levels in Iitate and Namie in Fukushima prefecture. Our original findings showed that decontamination efforts have been limited and that 85% of the Special Decontamination Area has undergone no decontamination. 

The second report Decommissioning of the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station From Plan-A to Plan-B Now, from Plan-B to Plan-C critiqued the current official decommission plan within 30-40 years of having no prospects of success and is delusional. 

“Successive governments during the last ten years, and largely under prime minister Shinzo Abe, have attempted to perpetrate a myth about the nuclear disaster. They have sought to deceive the Japanese people by misrepresenting the effectiveness of the decontamination program and ignoring radiological risks,” said Shaun Burnie, Senior Nuclear Specialist at Greenpeace East Asia. 

“At the same time, they continue to claim that the Fukushima Daiichi site can be returned to ‘greenfield’ status by mid-century. The decade of deception and delusion on the part of the government and TEPCO must end. A new decommissioning plan is inevitable so why waste any more time with the current fantasy?” Burnie added.

The first Greenpeace radiation expert team arrived in Fukushima prefecture on 26 March 2011, and have conducted 32 investigations into the radiological consequences of the disaster over the last decade, the most recent in November 2020. The key findings of the radiation report Fukushima 2011-2020 are:

  • Greenpeace has consistently found that most of the 840 square kilometers Special Decontamination Area(SDA), where the government is responsible for decontamination, remains contaminated with radioactive cesium. 
  • Analysis of the government’s own data shows that in the SDA an overall average of only 15% has been decontaminated.
  • No time frame for when the Japanese government’s long-term decontamination target level of 0.23 microsieverts per hour (μSv/h) will be achieved in many areas. Citizens will be subjected for decades of radiation exposure in excess of 1mSv/y recommended maximum.
  • In the areas where evacuation orders were lifted in 2017, specifically, Namie and Iitate, radiation levels remain above safe limits, potentially exposing the population to increased cancer risk. Plans to continue to lift evacuation orders are unacceptable from a public health perspective.
  • Up till 2018, tens of thousands of decontamination workers had been employed in decontamination in the SDA. As documented by Greenpeace[1], the workers, most of whom are poorly paid subcontractors, have been exposed to unjustified radiation risks for a limited and ineffective decontamination program. 

The key findings of The Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station decommissioning report[2] are:

  • There are no credible plans for retrieval of the hundreds of tons of nuclear fuel debris remaining inside and under the three Reactor Pressure vessels – it requires a fundamental review. 
  • Water used in reactor cooling and groundwater contamination, and therefore accumulating in tanks, will keep growing into the future unless a new approach is adopted.
  • All nuclear contaminated material should remain on the site indefinitely. If the nuclear fuel debris is ever retrieved, it also should remain on site. Fukushima Daiichi is already and should remain a nuclear waste storage site for the long term. 
  • The current plan is unachievable in the timeframe of 30-40 years in the current road map and impossible to achieve in terms of returning the site to greenfield.

It is recommended that a fundamental rethink in approach and a new plan for the decommissioning of Fukushima Daiichi, including a delay in molten fuel removal for 50-100 years or longer is needed with the construction of secure containment buildings for the long term. The Primary Containment vessel, with reinforcement, should be used as an incomplete primary boundary and the reactor building as the secondary boundary for the medium-to-long term, while developing robotic technology that can perform tasks without high radiation risks to human workers. 

Finally, to prevent the further increase of radioactive contaminated water, cooling of nuclear fuel debris should be switched from water to air cooling, and the Fukushima Daiichi site should be made into a ‘dry island’ isolated from groundwater with the construction of a deep moat. 


Links to full reports: 


[1] Greenpeace Japan, “On the Frontline of the Fukushima Nuclear Accident: Workers and Children Radiation risks and human rights violations”, March 2019

[2] Report commissioned by Greenpeace from a consulting nuclear engineer, formerly with General Electric including at the Fukushima Daiichi reactors, Mr. Satoshi Sato.

March 6, 2021 Posted by | Fukushima 2021 | , , , , | Leave a comment

Fukushima chief: No need to extend decommissioning target

This Sept. 4, 2017, aerial file photo shows Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant reactors, from bottom at right, Unit 1, Unit 2 and Unit 3, in Okuma town, Fukushima prefecture, northeastern Japan. The head of the wrecked Fukushima nuclear plant said Tuesday, March 2, 2021 there’s no need to extend the current target to finish its decommissioning in 30-40 years despite uncertainties about melted fuel inside the plant’s three reactors.

March 3, 2021

TOKYO (AP) — The head of the wrecked Fukushima nuclear plant says there’s no need to extend the current target to finish its decommissioning in 30-40 years despite uncertainties about melted fuel inside the plant’s three reactors.

Ten years after meltdowns of three of its reactors following a massive March 2011 earthquake and tsunami that devastated northeastern Japan, the Fukushima Daiichi plant has stabilized but faces new challenges.

Nuclear regulators recently found fatal levels of contamination under the lids of two reactors, a test removal of melted fuel debris from one reactor has been delayed for a year, and a recent earthquake may have caused new damage to the reactors.

About 900 tons of melted fuel debris remain inside the plant’s three damaged reactors, and its safe removal is a daunting task that its operator, Tokyo Electric Power Co., or TEPCO, and the government say will take 30-40 years to finish. The removal of spent fuel units from cooling pools is already being delayed for up to five years.

But Akira Ono, who as head of the plant is also its chief decommissioning officer, said he doesn’t plan to change the current goal to finish decommissioning between 2041 and 2051.

“I don’t think we need to revise the target right now,” Ono said Tuesday in an online interview with The Associated Press. “We will stick to the 30-to-40-year finishing target, and will compile a timeline and technology and development plans accordingly.”

He said TEPCO plans to focus primarily on the coming decade and hopefully will release a new 10-year road map by the end of March.

The recently discovered fatal levels of cesium on the bottom of shield plugs atop the primary containment chamber at the No. 2 and 3 reactors will not affect near-term decommissioning work, but could complicate future plans, Ono said.

A lot about the melted fuel, which fell from the core to the bottom of the primary containment chambers in Units 1, 2 and 3, remains unknown, Ono said, adding that it’s too early to decide how the plant should look at the end of the cleanup.

“It is a difficult question,” he said. “If you ask 10 people, everyone has a different answer.” Local officials in Fukushima have said they expect the plant complex to be a flatland where people can walk freely.

Ono said the plant’s end state should be discussed by the government, local residents, experts and other concerned parties, and should be decided by a consensus.

Some experts are still skeptical that the removal of all of the melted fuel debris is possible and suggest a Chernobyl-style entombment of the plant. Ono, however, denied that option, saying a long-term abandonment could pose a bigger risk than a controlled cleanup and hinder the region’s recovery.

Ono said the removal of the melted fuel debris will hopefully progress on track during the 2030s. “The next 10 years for us is to prepare for that goal,” he said.

Massive radiation from the reactors caused about 160,000 people to evacuate from around the plant. Tens of thousands are still unable to return home.

March 6, 2021 Posted by | Fukushima 2021 | , | Leave a comment

Japan undecided on timing, method of Fukushima water release

Storage tanks for treated contaminated water are seen at Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant in Okuma town, Fukushima prefecture.

March 3, 2021

Japanese authorities are undecided on how and when to discharge radioactive water from the devastated Fukushima nuclear plant into the sea or air, amid heightened environmental and public safety concerns from its neighboring countries, including South Korea. 

“The exact timing on when the government will decide on the method and the period is yet to be decided,” said a Japanese government official Wednesday. 

“We are still evaluating the situation. But it’s true that there are limits to the storage space of the tanks, and the government consider it as a task that cannot be delayed,” the official said, reiterating Tokyo’s stance to release the contaminated water, which has been filtered to reduce radioactivity. 

The remarks came during a press briefing organized by the Japanese Embassy in South Korea, as next week marks the 10-year anniversary of the devastating earthquake and tsunami on March 11, 2011, that hit the Fukushima area and caused a meltdown of the three nuclear reactors. Attending the event was officials from the Agency for Natural Resources and Energy, Tokyo Electric Power, the state-run operator of the plant, and Japan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

The liquid, which includes water used cool the power station, was contaminated after the nuclear disaster, and Tokyo has been pushing to release more than 1 million metric tons of treated water it has collected at the thousands of tanks at the site since 2011, as the storage capacity is set to run out by summer of 2022. But such a plan has sparked strong opposition and environmental worries among the public in both South Korea and Japan.

The water is being processed through the Advanced Liquid Processing System, or ALPS, to remove most of the dangerous radioactive materials, except for the traces of tritium, a radioactive substance which is still in the water — albeit at low level, according to Tokyo.

Last November, Japan was set to make a final decision on the water — either between disposing in the sea or vaporizing and releasing it into the air — as both were considered the most “realistic options,” but it has been delayed amid fierce backlash from local residents, the local fishery and agriculture industry and neighboring countries.

The authorities said that relevant decision will be made in consultation with local residents, industry personnel and neighboring countries through diplomatic channels. It also stressed it would carry out safety inspections of the release with the International Atomic Energy Agency, and provide transparent, scientific information to its neighbors as well. 

If Japan decides to discharge the water, it will likely be dumped as early as summer of 2022 when the storage reaches full capacity. 

But the official raised a possibility on the delay of the discharge, considering the filling up of the tank — which includes groundwater and rain that seeps into the plant — inside the storage has slowed down, due to relatively low precipitation in 2020. 

“The period as to when the water will be completely filled will depend on the level of rain and typhoons this year,” the official said. “We will review the plan considering such situation.”

March 6, 2021 Posted by | Fukushima 2021 | , | Leave a comment

Decades-long challenge to scrap Fukushima plant by 2051 in a bind

March 1, 2021

The decades-long challenge to scrap the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant, crippled by the massive earthquake and tsunami disaster that struck northeastern Japan in 2011, is becoming more complex as recent remote-controlled probes have highlighted just how damaged the reactors are.

Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings Inc., operator of the six-reactor nuclear complex, aims to scrap the plant between 2041 and 2051. But critics have cast doubts on the schedule, citing not only the extremely high radiation levels, but problems associated with delayed probes and underdeveloped robots and other technology needed to extract an estimated nearly 900 tons of melted fuel debris.

Decommissioning of the plant, scene of the world’s worst nuclear accident since the 1986 Chernobyl disaster, is crucial for Japan if it wants to stick to using nuclear power safely and show the world that the nuclear crisis is under control.

“It is likely that the roadmap will not be completed as scheduled,” said Tetsuro Tsutsui, a member of the Citizens’ Commission on Nuclear Energy, a group comprising academics and nuclear experts.

He added the “melted debris is mixed with fractured parts of buildings and concrete material and is highly radioactive, making it hard for robots to clear the debris.”

The scrapping of the plant involves the daunting decision on how to dispose of the huge amount of radioactive waste left as a byproduct. This has been made worse as no municipality offered to become the final disposal site when the plant was operating.

Following a magnitude-9.0 earthquake and subsequent tsunami that hit the plant on March 11, 2011, Nos. 1 to 3 reactors at the Fukushima Daiichi plant suffered meltdowns, while hydrogen explosions damaged the buildings housing the Nos. 1, 3 and 4 reactors.

Photo taken on Nov. 12, 2011, shows the No. 3 reactor building at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant in Fukushima Prefecture, northeastern Japan, which was damaged by an explosion after the March 11 earthquake and tsunami.

Due to the instability of renewable energy, Japan projects atomic power will remain one of its major power sources, accounting for 20 to 22 percent of its total electricity generation in fiscal 2030. It may further push the emissions-free nuclear power as it aims to become carbon neutral in 2050.

Of the 33 reactors in Japan, excluding those set to be scrapped, just four are currently in operation, partly because they need to clear stricter safety regulations following the Fukushima accident.

Tsutsui, a former petrochemical complex engineer, points to how the risk of extracting debris has become “clearer” compared to when the roadmap was first compiled in December 2011. With that in mind, he urged the government to act responsibly and review the roadmap.

“Nearly 10 years have passed following the Fukushima accident but with respect to the long decommissioning process, we are still hovering around the start line. We have a long journey ahead,” said Fukushima Gov. Masao Uchibori in a recent briefing.

“The most difficult step is the safe and stable retrieval of the debris but we don’t know what state it is in,” he added.

Fukushima Daiichi nuclear complex on Feb. 21, 2018. From right, No. 1, No. 2, No. 3 and No. 4 reactors.

Despite the use of computer simulations and small-scale internal probes using remote cameras, data is scarce about the exact locations and other details of the melted fuel — crucial information to determine the retrieval methods and develop the appropriate technology and robots.

Robotic probes at the Nos. 2 and 3 units have captured images of large amounts of material that appear to be melted fuel, but attempts so far have been unsuccessful at the No. 1 unit.

TEPCO opted to start the fuel removal at the No. 2 unit as it has the best grasp of the internal conditions there but no time frame has been set for the two other units.

In a setback for retrieval efforts, the company said in late December removing melted fuel from the No. 2 unit would be delayed from its initial starting period in 2021 by at least a year as the coronavirus pandemic has stalled the development in Britain of a robotic arm to be used for the extraction.

That robotic arm, however, can only extract a few grams of melted fuel debris at a time. To completely remove the hundreds of tons of melted fuel from the reactor larger machinery is required, experts say.

In another development that may affect the decommissioning process, a Nuclear Regulation Authority study group said in January a high concentration of radioactive cesium is likely to have accumulated in the lids of the containment vessels for the No. 2 and No. 3 reactors.

The regulator’s findings in a new interim report draft on the Fukushima accident came as a shock because it was previously believed that most of the radioactive material remained at the bottom of the reactors in the form of melted nuclear fuel debris.

While industry minister Hiroshi Kajiyama has acknowledged the “delays” and “difficulties in making predictions,” he insisted the overall decommissioning process is making “steady progress.” The government and TEPCO say they will stick to the current roadmap.

TEPCO, whose biggest shareholder is the Japanese government, has not given an estimate of the costs for the debris removal, which would add to the 8 trillion yen ($75 billion) already forecast for the decommissioning process.

The utility and the government have also been grappling with the buildup of radioactive water, which is generated in the process of cooling the meltdown reactors.

Part of the water is stored inside massive tanks set up inside the premises, having gone through a system that removes various radioactive materials except tritium, which is difficult to separate from water.

Tanks containing treated water including radioactive tritium are stored on the premises of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear complex on Feb. 21, 2018.

The government is considering dumping the water into the Pacific after diluting it to a radiation level below the legal limit, saying the tanks are filling up. It says space is needed to store debris once it is extracted from the damaged reactors.

But discharging the water remains a sensitive issue especially for the local fishing industry struggling to revive its business following the accident. Neighbors South Korea and China as well as U.N. human rights experts have expressed caution about the discharge.

Releasing it into the ocean could lead to a continued ban on exports from this area or an introduction of new export restrictions, observers say.

According to Yasuro Kawai, another member of the commission, the government’s decision to release treated water into the sea is in fact the government’s attempt to minimize the impact of the Fukushima crisis and say dismantling work is on track.

“But the roadmap is nothing but pie in the sky,” he said.

The commission says it is more logical to keep the debris inside the reactors than to retrieve it and suggests constructing a shield around the reactors and postpone taking out the melted fuel until 100 years or 200 years later when radioactive activity levels have decreased.

March 6, 2021 Posted by | Fukushima 2021 | , | Leave a comment

1. Figures for the 10th anniversary of the Fukushima disaster: Fukushima Daiichi

An article from ACRO translated by Hervé Courtois

February 22, 2021

As we approach the tenth anniversary of the nuclear disaster at the Fukushima power plant, here is a numerical assessment based on the media, official sites and the 2,700 articles on this site. Updates will be made regularly.

Situation at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant

The latest report from the Ministry of Industry on the progress of work at the Fukushima dai-ichi power plant dates from December 24, 2020 and was put online in English on January 28, 2021 (direct link

See the damaged nuclear power plant

Two fixed webcams, installed in 2014, allow to have the nuclear power plant live.

It is possible to take a virtual tour in English and Japanese of the Fukushima dai-ichi nuclear power plant (direct link : But the images and documents do not seem to have been updated since February 2020. Some balance sheets date back to 2018.

As we have already reported, TEPCO has put online on its website (in Japanese and English : hundreds of aerial photos of the crashed Fukushima dai-ichi power plant taken in March 2011. Fukushima’s blog has extracted a selection of them from its website and has made a video montage of the 714 photos However, some of the photos are partially blurred, as if there was some secret, while unblurred aerial views are available since the very beginning of the disaster on the website.

Status of nuclear reactors

TEPCO has a digital timeline in English with the main events related to reactor safety and dismantling.

The portal in English for dismantling works ;
The page in English concerning the removal of fuel from swimming pools ;

Reactor n°4

The vessel was empty on March 11, 2011 and there was no core meltdown, but a hydrogen explosion destroyed the reactor building. The hydrogen came from the neighboring reactor No. 3 via the common discharge stack.

The upper part of the reactor building was dismantled, the debris removed, and a new structure was built to remove the fuel from the pool, which has been empty since December 2014. Since then, the work has been stopped because the reactor is no longer a threat.

The map with some ambient dose rate values dates from 2016.

Reactor n°3

There was a core meltdown and a hydrogen explosion destroyed the reactor building. All the debris in the upper part of the building was removed with the help of remote-controlled devices. A new building with a cylindrical roof was constructed. The removal of fuel began in April 2019, four years later than originally planned. The operations proved to be more complicated than expected, but they completed by the end of February 2021.

There were 566 assemblies in the pool (52 new, all removed, and 514 used). Some were damaged by falling debris. TEPCO’s dedicated page is here in English A video presentation of the operations, here in English

There would be, in this reactor, between 188 and 394 tons of corium (a highly radioactive mixture of molten fuel and debris), with a nominal value of 364 tons. The latter contains MOX fuel, based on plutonium. TEPCO has estimated that the recovery of corium from two reactors 2 and 3 will take 12 years and cost 1,370 billion yen (11.5 billion euros). In 2017, TEPCO had published photos taken inside the containment of this reactor, under the vessel, and a video: &

Since September 2020, the Nuclear Regulatory Authority has resumed its investigations to understand the course of the triple nuclear accident at the Fukushima dai-ichi power plant. This includes visits to the accident reactors, despite the high ambient radiation levels. It has brought back videos:

– Including this one, of Unit 3 taken on September 18, 2020, which shows the dilapidated state of the reactor building, almost 10 years after the accident:

– And of Unit 2 on October 8, 2020 :

– And of Unit 1 on October 9, 2020 :

During these visits, the Nuclear Regulatory Authority discovered very high dose rates, of the order of 10 Sv/h, above the protection slabs of reactors 2 and 3 A lethal dose in one hour on site. It estimates that the slab of Reactor 3 contains about 30 petabecquerels (1015 Bq) of cesium-137. This will complicate the dismantling work.

Reactor n°2

There was a core meltdown, but the reactor building is whole. Ambient radiation is particularly high in this reactor, making access to humans very difficult. A delegation from the Nuclear Regulatory Authority went to visit the interior of the reactor building for the first time since the accident, but it had to turn around prematurely because of the dose rates that reached 11 to 12 mSv/h on the fifth level. This would be due, in particular, to suspended radioactive dust, which is surprising after so many years. Even higher dose rates, of the order of 10 Sv/h, were measured above the protection slabs of reactors 2 and 3. The Regulatory Authority estimates that the slab of Reactor 2 contains about 20 to 40 petabecquerels (1015 Bq) of cesium-137.

TEPCO has not begun to remove spent fuel from the pool, which contains 615 assemblies. This is now planned around 2024 and 2026 because of the ambient dose levels in the reactor building. Images were published in June 2020

The company sent several robots into the containment to locate the corium, this mixture of molten fuel and debris. There would be between 189 and 390 tons of corium in this reactor, with a nominal value of 237 tons. For more information Several series of images have been put online by the company. One clearly sees the corium and a fuel assembly element that has fallen to the bottom of the containment:

TEPCO had sent a robot in contact with the corium in February 2019. The images were impressive :

The authorities hoped to be able to begin the removal of the corium before the 10th anniversary. This was the goal set in December 2011. But the technology has yet to be developed and the ambitions had already been revised downwards in 2019: it was only a matter of recovering a few grams of corium from reactor No. 2 in 2021. In December 2020, TEPCO announced a delay of at least one year in the start of operations, officially due to the COVID-19 epidemic in the United Kingdom. The articulated arm of a robot, which must collect the corium, is being developed jointly by Veolia Nuclear Solutions in the United Kingdom and Mitsubishi Heavy Industries in Japan.

TEPCO dismantled half of the chimney common to Reactors 1 and 2, which was 120 m high The work turned out to be more complex than expected, in particular due to a calculation error on the height of the crane. The chimney being highly contaminated, the work was carried out by remote-controlled machines.

Reactor n°1

There was a core meltdown and a hydrogen explosion destroyed the reactor building. This building had been covered with a new structure in 2011, which was completely dismantled in November 2016 TEPCO began to remove the debris from the upper part of the reactor, and then rebuilt a new structure to empty the fuel pool. Since then, the company has not been very prolific about the progress of the work.

On the other hand, the removal of spent fuel from the pool of reactor No. 1 has been delayed: at best, it will be 2027, or even 2028. The first date envisaged for beginning this withdrawal was 2018… The cost of these operations has not been estimated because the company does not yet know how to go about it. In the meantime, TEPCO has covered this pool to protect it with air bags

The hydrogen explosion fractured the concrete slab 12 m in diameter and 60 cm thick which is particularly contaminated in reactors 2 and 3. Very high dose rates had been recorded in 2017, up to 2.2 Sv/h, i.e. a lethal dose in a few hours on site. For the broken slab of reactor No. 1, there would be “only” about 0.16 petabecquerels of cesium-137.

There would be between 232 and 357 tons of corium in this reactor, with a nominal value of 279 tons. For more information:

Réacteurs 5 et 6

Les réacteurs 5 et 6 étaient arrêtés et partiellement déchargés le 11 mars 2011. Comme un générateur diesel de secours était encore fonctionnel, cela a permis d’éviter la fusion du cœur. Ces réacteurs sont maintenant entièrement déchargés et vont être démantelés.

Contaminated water

In 2011, the water injected to cool the reactors ended up overflowing and causing the greatest marine radioactive pollution in history. In April 2011, it was the contaminated water from Reactor No. 2 discharged into the sea via an underground gallery. And, in May 2011, it was the turn of Reactor No. 3.

TEPCO estimated that 520 m3 of highly radioactive water, or 4,700 terabecquerels (1 terabecquerel represents one million million becquerels) or 20,000 times the annual discharge authorization, was released in April. More precisely, there were 2,800 terabecquerels of iodine-131, 940 terabecquerels of cesium-134 and as many of cesium-137. This release alone would deserve to be classified at level 5 or 6 on the international INES scale. The IRSN had estimated that it was 20 times higher.

The year 2013 was marked by a series of scandals following the late discovery of a leak from a contaminated water tank and discharges into the sea. The authorities reacted and the Prime Minister of the time had declared before the International Olympic Committee that the situation was under control. In 2021, the situation is still not under control and the Olympics could be cancelled because of the pandemic…

The other major challenge facing TEPCO is the contaminated water that continues to accumulate.

Summary of the situation

Fuel that has melted and pierced the tanks must always be cooled. To this end, TEPCO injects about 70 m3 of water per day into each of reactors 1, 2, and 3 (see the balance sheet dated February 8, 2021 This water becomes highly contaminated on contact with the molten fuel and seeps into the basements of the reactor and turbine buildings where it mixes with the water from the water tables that seeps in.

After the strong earthquake of February 13, 2021, TEPCO noticed that the level of water in the containments of reactors 1 and 3 had dropped

The cracks have probably widened and the company may be forced to increase the injected flow rate. For Reactor 2, it is not known because the sensors were removed to prepare for the removal of the corium.

At the beginning of the disaster, underground infiltrations amounted to about 400 m3 per day and this contaminated water had to be stored in tanks. Conversely, the water in the basement, heavily contaminated, leaked to the water table and then to the ocean.

To reduce groundwater infiltration, TEPCO pumps into the water table upstream of the reactors, before this water is contaminated and releases it directly into the ocean. It has also built a barrier along the entire coastline and also pumps groundwater at the foot of the reactors. Some of this water is partially decontaminated and released into the ocean. Another part, too contaminated, is mixed with the water pumped from the basements of the reactors to be put into tanks after treatment, while waiting for a better solution. This flow is of the order of 5 m3/d according to the report dated February 8, 2021 (between 3 (source and 8 m3/d (source in the previous reports available here

The last barrier put in place is the freezing of the ground all around the 4 accident reactors, over 1.4 km in order to stop infiltration. After many setbacks, the frost has been over since November 2017. It has reduced the infiltrations, but not stopped them. The implementation of the frozen wall cost taxpayers 34.5 billion yen (265 million euros) to which must be added more than a billion yen (8 million euros) per year for electricity.

Since then, infiltration has been less than 100 m3/d (see the balance sheet of February 8, 2021, except in the case of heavy rainfall.

Flows and stocks

TEPCO pumps the water contained in the basements of the reactor and turbine buildings of the 4 accident reactors to avoid overflows. As this water is highly contaminated, it is treated and then stored in tanks on the power plant site. Some of it is re-injected for cooling. Here is the water circuit at the Fukushima daï-ichi power plant, as represented by TEPCO

The last one of February 8, 2021 reports a surplus to be stored of 90 m3/d It rose to more than 350 m3/d in the fall of 2020 and even 600 m3/d when the typhoons passed in October 2019. In 2019, the Ministry of Industry reported an increase in water storage from 50,000 to 60,000 m3/d per year (source Here it appears that it has accumulated 1.243 million cubic meters of contaminated water TEPCO has a dedicated portal for treated contaminated water . There are 1061 tanks on the power plant site, 1018 of which contain water treated by the ALPS plant. In another 29 tanks there is water where only caesium and strontium have beenn “filtered”. There is also about 4,800 m3 of untreated water in the basements of the reactors (as of February 8, 2021

TEPCO estimates that it will no longer have room on the site of its power plant to put in new tanks from 2022. The preferred option is discharge into the sea.

What to do with this treated water?

After considering several unrealistic options, the authorities are gradually restricting the options to the discharge of treated water into the ocean, which is not a surprise. Prior to any treatment, the balance sheet shows a concentration of 65 MBq/L in the pumped water

With its ALPS station, TEPCO then removes 62 radioelements. And, officially, only tritium (radioactive hydrogen) remains in this water, because it is difficult to remove it. Since this element is released by all nuclear facilities, there must have been more problems, except for a few bad rumors …

However, as discovered in September 2018 , a large portion of the stock (currently about 72%) has not been adequately treated, and residual concentrations for some elements exceed the maximum concentrations allowed for discharge at sea

The chart below, taken from the TEPCO portal shows that for 6% of the stock, the residual contamination for 7 major radioelements is 100 times higher than what is allowed for discharge It is between 10 and 100 times for 15% of the stock.

Repurposed tanks” are tanks that contained partially treated contaminated water, where only strontium-90 had been removed. This water having been treated, the tanks are reused for water fully treated by the ALPS plant. But, as explained by TEPCO in this document (, there was still sludge at the bottom of the tank which significantly raised the contamination of the water! These tanks are therefore counted separately in the above chart.

TEPCO is committed to treating a second time the water that exceeds the discharge authorizations and has started tests in September 2020. And it was only then that the company recognized that there were other radioelements that were not removed, such as carbon-14 This element was never measured or mentioned in the results published by the company, without disturbing the Japanese nuclear regulatory authority or the IAEA, which ruled on the management of contaminated water However, carbon-14 will not be removed for all that…

Tests conducted by TEPCO show that the process can lower the residual concentration of contaminated water below the release thresholds, with the exception of tritium In fact, this is not really a novelty, since part of the stock had already been properly treated. The high residual contaminations were due to bad practices (economy on ion exchange resins, poor monitoring…). TEPCO offers no guarantee that its practices will improve and the Japanese government refuses any independent measurement of the water it wishes to discharge into the ocean

Tritium contamination, which is not removed, is, on average, 730,000 Bq/L and thus exceeds the maximum allowable concentration for ocean discharge, which is 60,000 Bq/L. TEPCO therefore wants to dilute this water before discharge to one-fortieth of the limit, i.e. 1,500 Bq/L. In addition, the inventory of tritium in the tanks would be 860 TBq, which is well above the annual discharge limit of 22 TBq. TEPCO therefore wants to spread its releases over about 30 years to meet this limit

By way of comparison, the authorization to discharge tritium into the sea at Areva’s La Hague plant is 18,500 TBq for tritium alone, and actual discharges in recent years have varied between 11,600 and 13,400 TBq per year The stock of tritium in the Fukushima tanks therefore represents two and a half weeks of discharges at La Hague. The total stock, with what remains in the fuels, is two months… This is enough to make the Japanese authorities jealous, and they are happy to point out the tritium releases from many other nuclear installations around the world (page 13 of this report from the Ministry of Industry

This map does not mention any releases in Japan! In particular, it does not mention the expected discharges from the Japanese reprocessing plant at Rokkashô-mura. The target value there is 9,700 TBq per year for tritium (source But, the plant has never started…

This was not enough to convince the people of Fukushima, who are, for the most part, opposed to dumping in the ocean. By June 2020, 17 municipalities in Fukushima had also taken a stand against it, as had the fishing industry Even Baskut Tuncak, UN Special Rapporteur since 2014 on the human rights implications of the environmentally sound management and disposal of hazardous substances and wastes, took part in a panel discussion. During the public consultation, 4,011 opinions were tabled and almost all were opposed to the rejection. As a result, the government decided to postpone announcing its decision

On January 28, 2021, the Japanese Ministry of Industry opened a special page dedicated to the management of the water treated by the ALPS plant, which is less detailed than its last report dated December 2020 A photo of this water is available on this page:

Feeling better?


March 4, 2021 Posted by | Fukushima 2021 | , | Leave a comment