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Newly found Fukushima plant high radiation to delay cleanup process

This Jan. 31, 2014, image released by Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings shows the aerial view of the No. 3 reactor, with its roof blown off and shield plug (circle in the middle) exposed, in Okuma town, Fukushima prefecture, northeastern Japan. A draft investigation report into the 2011 Fukushima nuclear meltdown, adopted by Japanese nuclear regulators Wednesday, Jan. 27, 2021, says it has detected dangerously high levels of radioactive contamination at two of the three reactors, adding to concerns about decommissioning challenges.

Newly found Fukushima plant contamination may delay cleanup

January 27, 2021

TOKYO – A draft investigation report into the 2011 Fukushima nuclear meltdown, adopted by Japanese nuclear regulators Wednesday, says it has detected dangerously high levels of radioactive contamination at two of the three reactors, adding to concerns about decommissioning challenges.

The interim report said data collected by investigators showed that the sealing plugs sitting atop the No. 2 and 3 reactor containment vessels were as fatally contaminated as nuclear fuel debris that had melted and fell to the bottom of the reactors following the March 2011 tsunami and earthquake.

The experts said the bottom of the sealed plug, a triple-layered concrete disc-shaped lid 12 meters (39 feet) in diameter sitting atop the primary containment vessel, is coated with high levels of radioactive Cesium 137.

The No. 1 reactor lid was less contaminated, presumably because the plug was slightly knocked out of place and disfigured due to the impact of the hydrogen explosion, the report said.

The experts measured radiation levels at multiple locations inside the three reactor buildings, and examined how radioactive materials moved and safety equipment functioned during the accident. They also said venting attempt at Unit 2 to prevent reactor damage never worked, and that safety measures and equipment designs still need to be examined.

The lid contamination does not affect the environment as the containment vessels are enclosed inside the reactor buildings. The report did not give further details about if or how the lid contamination would affect the decommissioning progress.

Nuclear Regulation Commission Chairman Toyoshi Fuketa called the findings “extremely serious” and said they would make melted fuel removal “more difficult.” He said figuring out how to remove the lids would be a major challenge.

Removing an estimated 900 tons of melted fuel debris from three reactors is a daunting task expected to take decades, and officials have not been able to describe exactly when or how it may end.

The Fukushima plant was to start removing melted fuel debris from Unit 2, the first of three reactors, later this year ahead of the 10th anniversary of the accident. But in December, plant operator Tokyo Electric Power Co. and the government announced a delay until 2022. They said the development of a robotic arm for the debris removal — a joint project with Britain — has been delayed due to the pandemic.

Under the current plan, a remote-controlled robotic arm will be inserted from the side of the reactor to reach the molten fuel mixed with melted parts and concrete floor of the reactor. Eventually the lids also would have to be removed, but their contamination is a major setback.

The team of experts entered areas inside the three reactors that were previously highly contaminated and inaccessible after radiation levels came down significantly. They’re seeking data and evidence before they get lost in the cleanup.

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

https://www.local10.com/tech/2021/01/27/newly-found-fukushima-plant-contamination-may-delay-cleanup/

High radiation facilities inside Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant may delay decommissioning process

January 27, 2021

Ahead of the 10-year anniversary of the March 2011 accident at Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings Inc.’s Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant, a panel of the Nuclear Regulation Authority on Tuesday released a draft interim report on the accident investigation, which resumed in September 2019. The on-site investigation found that there were areas with extremely high radiation levels near the fifth floor of the reactor buildings of Units 2 and 3. This may lead to a delay in the decommissioning process of the plant.

According to the draft report, high levels of contamination were found at the bottom of a concrete lid called a shield plug, located at the top of the reactor containment vessel. Radioactive cesium there was estimated to be giving off about 20 to 40 petabecquerels of radiation at Unit 2 and about 30 petabecquerels at Unit 3. (The prefix peta indicates 1,000 trillion.)

In terms of radiation dosage, this is likely to be equivalent to several sieverts per hour. If a person were to enter the area, a fatal dose would accumulate in just a few hours.

TEPCO plans to first remove the nuclear fuel debris, which is a mixture of melted nuclear fuel and other materials, from the Unit 2 reactor. Depending on the removal route, it may be necessary to remove the shield plug. The removal of this structure is expected to take a long time, not only because of the high radiation levels but also because the shield plug weighs a total of 465 tons.

Looking back at what had happened during the crisis at the plants in 2011, the panel also examined the effects of venting, or releasing steam containing radioactive materials into the atmosphere to reduce pressure, which was done to prevent damage to the containment vessels. As a result of examining the piping and other parts, the panel found that steam flowed back into the reactor buildings of Units 1 and 3, where the venting was successful.

They also analyzed the TV footage from that time and noted that there had been multiple hydrogen explosions at the Unit 3 reactor

https://the-japan-news.com/news/article/0007096152

January 30, 2021 Posted by | Fukushima 2021 | , , | Leave a comment

High-level radiation at Fukushima Daiichi No.2 reactor

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February 4, 2020

Japan’s nuclear regulators say high-level radiation was detected last month in the No.2 reactor building of the crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant.

The Nuclear Regulation Authority last October resumed its probe into what caused the accident at the plant following the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami.

The results of a survey carried out last Thursday on the top floor of the building were disclosed at a meeting of commissioners and experts on Tuesday.

A meltdown took place at the reactor after the 2011 accident.

A robot on the floor directly above the reactor detected 683 millisieverts of radiation per hour.

The plant’s operator, Tokyo Electric Power Company, had also detected high levels of radiation there after the accident.

The site remains inaccessible to humans nine years later.

Commissioners and experts were also shown video of the No.4 reactor, which avoided a meltdown but experienced a hydrogen explosion. The video shows a steel frame believed to have been exposed by the blast.

The regulation authority plans to compile the data into a report this year, not only to determine the cause of the accident but also for work to decommission the reactors.

https://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/en/news/20200204_41/

February 6, 2020 Posted by | Fukushima 2020 | , , | Leave a comment

Radiation still too high in reactor# 2 building

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July 2, 2018
A robotic probe has found that radiation levels remain too high for humans to work inside one of the reactor buildings at the damaged Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant.
 
Tokyo Electric Power Company, the operator of the plant, plans to relocate 615 units of nuclear fuel from the spent fuel pool, which is located on the top floor of the No. 2 reactor building and is separate from the reactor itself.
 
TEPCO says the relocation will help reduce risks, including possible damage caused by earthquakes.
 
The No. 2 reactor underwent a meltdown, but did not experience a hydrogen explosion in the 2011 nuclear accident. The building is likely to still have a high concentration of radioactive materials.
 
Last month, TEPCO drilled a hole in the wall of the building in order to use a camera-equipped robot to create a detailed map of the radiation on the top floor.
 
On Monday, workers started the survey and measured radiation levels at 19 points, mainly near the opening. Up to 59 millisieverts were detected per hour.
 
That’s above workers’ allowable annual exposure of 50 millisieverts and more than half of their 5-year exposure limit. TEPCO has concluded it cannot let humans work inside the building.
 
TEPCO will use the results to determine specific ways to remove the fuel from the pool. It plans to start the work in fiscal 2023.

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July 8, 2018 Posted by | Fukushima 2018 | , , | Leave a comment

‘Global Consequences’ of Lethal Radiation Leak at Destroyed Japan Nuclear Plant

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Lethal levels of radiation have been observed inside Japan’s damaged Fukushima nuclear power plant. And they are arguably way higher than you suspect.
According to Tokyo Electric Power Company (Tepco), radiation levels of eight Sieverts per hour (Sv/h) have been discovered within the Fukushima nuclear power plant, which was destroyed after a massive earthquake and a tsunami in March 2011.
Tepco, the company that operated the plant and is now tasked with decommissioning it, reported the discovery after making observations in a reactor containment vessel last month.
Eight Sv/h of radiation, if absorbed at once, mean certain death, even with quick treatment. One Sv/h is likely to cause sickness and 5.5 Sv/h will result in a high chance of developing cancer.
While 8 Sv/h is deadly, outside of Fukushima’s Reactor Number 2 foundations of a much higher level of 42 Sv/h was detected.
A strange occurrence, and experts are still arguing what caused the discrepancy. One possible explanation is that cooling water washed radioactive material off debris, taking it somewhere else.
But here’s a truly terrifying catch: according to the report, Tepco highly doubts the new readings, because, as was discovered later, a cover was not removed from the robot-mounted measurement device at the time of the inspection, NHK World reports.
Exactly one year ago, Sputnik reported that Tepco engineers discovered absolutely insane levels of radiation of about 530 Sv/h within the reactor. Such levels of radiation would kill a human within seconds. By comparison, the Chernobyl reactor reads 34 Sv/h radiation level, enough to kill a human after 20 minutes of exposure.
The levels of radiation within Fukushima reactor number 2 were so high that Tepco’s toughest robot, designed to withstand 1000 Sv/h of radiation, had to be pulled out, as it started glitching due to high radiation levels. Nuclear experts called the radiation levels “unimaginable” at the time.
On November 2017, the New York Times and other news outlets reported a much smaller figure of 70 Sv/h of radiation, more or less on par with a 74 Sv/h reading gathered before an anomalous 530 Sv/h spike.
While that radiation dosimeter cover negligence prevents precise calculations, the actual picture inside Unit 2 is thought to be much worse.
Japanese state broadcaster NHK World quoted experts saying that if the cleaning of the stricken power plant is not properly addressed, it will result in major leak of radioactivity with “global” consequences.
Richard Black, director of the Energy and Climate Intelligence Unit, says that while the readings are not reliable, they still “demonstrate that, seven years after the disaster, cleaning up the Fukushima site remains a massive challenge — and one that we’re going to be reading about for decades, never mind years.”
Mycle Schneider, independent energy consultant and lead author of the World Nuclear Industry Status Report, criticized Tepco, saying the power company has “no clue” what it is doing.
“I find it symptomatic of the past seven years, in that they don’t know what they’re doing, Tepco, these energy companies, haven’t a clue what they’re doing, so to me it’s been going wrong from the beginning. It’s a disaster of unseen proportions.”
In observing the poor maintenance of plant radiation leaks, Schneider also pointed out that the company stores nuclear waste at the site in an inappropriate way.
“This is an area of the planet that gets hit by tornadoes and all kinds of heavy weather patterns, which is a problem. When you have waste stored above ground in inappropriate ways, it can get washed out and you can get contamination all over the place.”

 

February 5, 2018 Posted by | Fukushima 2018 | , | Leave a comment

Lethal radiation detected at Fukushima plant reactor 2

 

 
 
The operator of the crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant has released the results of its latest probe of the site.
 
A remote-controlled inspection of the Unit 2 reactor containment vessel last month detected a maximum of 8 sieverts per hour of radiation.
 
Experts say exposure to such radiation for about an hour would be fatal.
 
Officials from Tokyo Electric Power Company, or TEPCO, released the results on Thursday.
 
They said the radiation reading was taken near what appeared to be fuel debris, the term used to describe a mixture of molten fuel and broken interior parts.
 
The finding shows that nearly 7 years after the meltdowns, radiation levels remain so high that they present a major challenge to decommissioning work.
 
During the probe, 42 sieverts per hour of radiation was also detected outside the foundations of the reactor.
 
But officials said they have doubts about the accuracy of the reading because a cover had not been removed from the measuring instrument at the time.
 
They added that they don’t know why radiation levels were lower near the suspected fuel debris than around the foundations.
 
They gave a number of possible reasons, such as that cooling water may have washed radioactive materials off the debris.
 
TEPCO’s Chief Decommissioning Officer, Naohiro Masuda, says the company will develop debris-removal technology based on the outcome of the investigation.
 
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February 1, 2018 Posted by | Fukushima 2018 | , , | Leave a comment

14 microSv/h 5cm above from street-side soil Namie, Fukushima

From Birdhairjp

On 22 Apr 2017, I measured radiation in front of a temple of Onoda area,
Namie town of Fukushima prefecture Japan.

I monitored 0.94 micro Sievert per hour in air at chest hight
on road side near a utility pole.
And I monitored air dose rate 0.85 micro Sievert on asphalt road pavement.

There is a place, the monitor figures jump up.
There left highly contaminated soil at the street side.
2.3 micro Sievelt per hour, chest height.
13 to 14 micro Sievelt per hour 5 cm height from the soil.
18 to 20 micro Sievelt per hour when the monitor laid directly on the soil.
Soil contaminated with high concentration of radioactive material
It is like hell

May 1, 2017 Posted by | Fukushima 2017 | , , | Leave a comment

Lifting Fukushima evacuation orders

28 feb 2017

The lifting of evacuation orders in four municipalities around Tokyo Electric Power Co. Holding’s Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant over the weekend does not normalize the lives of former residents forced out of their hometowns due to the radioactive fallout from the March 2011 triple meltdowns at the plant. The government needs to keep up support for the residents — both those returning to their hometowns and those choosing to stay out for various reasons — to help them rebuild their lives, which were shattered by the nuclear disaster six years ago.

Since 2014, the government has been moving to lift its evacuation orders issued to areas once designated no-go zones around the Tepco plant where the level of radioactive pollution is deemed to have declined to acceptable levels through decontamination efforts. The lifting of the evacuation orders in parts of the Fukushima towns of Namie, Tomioka and Kawamata and Iitate village on Friday and Saturday paves the way for the return of about 32,000 former residents. The total areas designated as no-go zones have now been reduced to roughly one-third of their peak — although areas that used to be home to 24,000 people will continue to be off-limits to former residents due to still high radiation levels.

Last month, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said reconstruction from the March 11, 2011, disasters — the Great East Japan Earthquake and tsunami and the nuclear fiasco — is making steady progress and is “entering a new stage” with the lifting of evacuation orders to the former no-go zones around the Tepco plant. Also at the end of March, public housing assistance was terminated for people who had voluntarily evacuated from areas located outside the no-go zones out of fear of radioactive pollution.

However, government decisions alone will not return evacuees’ lives to a state of normalcy. In areas where evacuation orders have earlier been lifted since 2014, only 13 percent of the former residents have returned to their hometowns. In Namie and Tomioka, where some parts of the towns will continue to remain off-limits due to high radiation levels, more than 50 percent of former residents told a Reconstruction Agency survey last year that they have no plans to return in the future.

Some of the former residents cite continuing concerns over the effects of radioactive contamination, while others point to the slow recovery of infrastructure crucial to daily life such as medical services and shopping establishments in their hometowns. Other former residents have started life anew in the places to which they have evacuated.

The prospect is also bleak for businesses that used to operate in the areas. According to a survey by the association of Fukushima Prefecture chambers of commerce and industry, about half of the companies located in the no-go zones were unable as of last September to reopen their businesses as they lost their customers and business partners in the years since the 2011 disaster. Many of the busineses that have reopened after the evacuation orders were lifted said they have not been able to earn the same level fo profits as before the nuclear crisis.

Reconstruction from the March 2011 disasters continues to lag in Fukushima compared with the other devastated prefectures of Miyagi and Iwate, because of the additional woes caused by the Tepco plant disaster. Nearly 80,000 Fukushima residents remain displaced from their homes six years on — roughly half the peak figure of 165,000 but still accounting for a bulk of the national total of 123,000 as of February.

With the lifting of the evacuation orders, monthly payments of consolation money from Tepco to the residents of former no-go zones will be terminated in a year. Fukushima Prefecture’s housing aid, essentially funded by the national government, to more than 20,000 Fukushima people who voluntarily evacuated from their homes outside the no-go zones was cut off at the end of last month — although substitute assistance programs will be continued on a limited scope.

Officials say that decontamination and restoration of social infrastructure have progressed in the former no-go zones around the Tepco plant. However, administrative decisions such as the lifting of evacuation orders alone will not compel evacuees to return to their hometowns or rebuild their communities shattered by the nuclear disaster. The government must keep monitoring the real-life conditions of residents in affected areas and extend them the support they need, as well as continue to improve crucial infrastructure so more evacuees feel they can return home.

http://www.japantimes.co.jp/opinion/2017/04/03/editorials/lifting-fukushima-evacuation-orders/

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

As I See It: Flawed gov’t policies betraying Fukushima disaster victims

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A demonstration takes place at Hibiya Park in Tokyo in March 2016, at which protesters express their distrust of the government which has failed to listen to the voices of Fukushima nuclear disaster victims.

Six years have passed since the disaster at Tokyo Electric Power Co. (TEPCO)’s Fukushima No. 1 Nuclear Power Plant, and the government’s policies for helping affected people are reaching the end of a chapter.

The government provision of housing to voluntary evacuees is coming to an end, and with the exception of a few selected areas, evacuation orders have been lifted or scheduled to be lifted soon. Compensation payments for such evacuees are scheduled to end, too — as these were given out in tandem with the evacuation orders.

With this kind of reality in mind, the “accelerated recovery” that was promoted by the government now just appears to be a hasty attempt to draw a curtain over the issue of evacuation from Fukushima. Government policies related to evacuation are seemingly one-way, and given that these policies have failed to gain the acceptance of affected residents, it can be said that they are corroding away at the core of democracy.

Over the past few years, I have continued to cover the situation in Fukushima using data such as health surveys, polls of voluntary evacuees, housing policies, and decontamination — with the aim of chasing after the real intentions of the creators of government policies. And yet, even though the government organizations and bureaucrats that are in charge differ depending on the issue, discussions go on behind closed doors, after which decisions are forced on the public that are completely out of touch with the needs of those affected. These kinds of policymaking procedures are all too common.

There are also cases of double standards. For example, the government had set the maximum annual limit of radiation exposure at 1 millisievert per year for regular people but immediately after the 2011 Fukushima nuclear disaster, the figure was raised to 20 millisieverts per year as the yardstick for evacuation “because it was a time of emergency.”

Later, in December 2011, a “convergence statement” was released by then Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda in which he announced that the “emergency period” was over. Restructuring of the evacuation orders was subsequently carried out, and then the new criteria for relaxing such instructions were discussed in private.

From April 2013 onward, closed-door discussions continued to take place among section chiefs and other officials from organizations such as the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry and the Reconstruction Agency. They then waited until after the House of Councillors election in July 2013 to announce that areas where the annual radiation exposure was less than 20 millisieverts per year would be exempted from the evacuation orders. A source told me that the timing of the announcement was set as “not to trouble the government.” In other words, the level of 20 millisieverts per year had switched from “the time of emergency level” to “the ordinary level,” and it was as though the previous 1 millisievert annual level for ordinary situations had been banished from history.

Nearly four years have passed since then. At an explanatory meeting for evacuees from the Fukushima Prefecture towns of Namie and Tomioka, hardly anyone agreed with the lifting of the evacuation order this coming spring. It’s clear in the term “unnecessary exposure to radiation,” often used by the Fukushima evacuees, that there is absolutely no reason for local residents to endure radiation exposure caused by the nuclear disaster. And it’s understandable that they have difficulties accepting policies that ignore the voices of those from the affected areas.

Another problem is government bodies’ practice of blurring responsibilities by deleting inconvenient elements in records of the closed-door decision making process, thereby making it impossible for third parties to review the process afterwards.

The government was planning to complete the majority of the decontamination work by the end of fiscal 2016. In June 2016, the Environment Ministry devised a plan for reusing the contaminated soil whose volume has ballooned due to the cleaning work. In a closed-door meeting with specialists, the ministry also set the upper contamination level limit for reusing the soil at 8,000 becquerels per kilogram. However, with regard to the reuse of waste generated from decommissioning work such as iron, the upper limit is set at 100 becquerels. What officials talked about in that closed-door meeting was how to make that kind of double standard appear consistent.

In June 2016, the Mainichi Shimbun reported this matter, and as a number of freedom-of-information requests were filed, the Environment Ministry decided to release the relevant records. Ministry officials claimed that they were making all the information public. However, they had deleted statements by the bureaucrats in charge; statements that suggested the entire discussion had been undertaken with the 8,000 becquerel limit as a given.

Speaking on the issue of helping affected people, politicians and bureaucrats have repeatedly spouted rhetoric such as “staying beside disaster victims.” Despite this, however, there have been cases where senior officials from organizations such as the Reconstruction Agency have shown their true feelings through abusive statements via social media such as Twitter. In August 2015, Masayoshi Hamada, the then state minister for reconstruction, stated in private about the housing provision for Fukushima evacuees, “Basically, we are accepting residents based on the assumption that we don’t support those who evacuated voluntarily.”

Hamada was promoted to the position of state minister in December 2012 — at the same time as the launch of the second Cabinet of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe — and he was put in charge of supporting voluntary evacuees. For these evacuees, the housing provision policy was anticipated the most. Hamada’s irresponsible remarks, however, were almost equal to saying that the agency had no real intention of helping those who had evacuated of their own accord. I cannot help but wonder if politicians such as Hamada do in fact want to “stay beside disaster victims.”

The victims of the Fukushima nuclear disaster have always been kept on the other side of the mosquito net. The majority of policy discussions among the state and local governments concerning the affected people have taken place behind closed doors, and the records that have been released afterward have often been censored in order to conceal certain elements, with excuses such as “making these documents public could cause confusion.” In some of those closed door meetings, officials even talked about “how not to leak information.”

It might be stating the obvious, but unless information concerning policies is made public and there is transparency surrounding the decision making process, democracy cannot function. The way that the government has one-sidedly carried out its national policies by ignoring the voices of the Fukushima disaster victims, as well as people across Japan, poses risks to the very foundation of democracy. In some ways, this is one major part of the damage caused by the nuclear disaster.

http://mainichi.jp/english/articles/20170401/p2a/00m/0na/002000c

April 1, 2017 Posted by | Fukushima 2017 | , , , | Leave a comment

Chinese parents seek refunds for Japan trip, citing radiation concerns

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Families of 40 choir members cancel Tokyo trip after travel advisory from Chinese embassy

Parents of a children’s choir in southern China are seeking refunds for a trip to a singing competition in Japan that they cancelled over concerns of radiation leaks.

Their requests to refund the training, travel and accommodation fees, which add up to 19,800 yuan (US$2.900)for each child, have been denied by the singing training centre of the Guangzhou Opera House, with which the choir is affiliated, Television Southern of Guangdong reported.

The concerned parents said each family paid fees to the training centre in January for training, visas, insurance and accommodation for the trip to Japan for an international choir competition in August.

Forty students signed up for the trip, the report said.

Many parents became worried a month later when the Chinese embassy in Tokyo issued a reminder of record-high radiation from the Fukushima nuclear plant, which has been leaking radioactivity since being badly damaged by an earthquake and tsunami in 2011.

The embassy statement cited a spokesperson from the Chinese Foreign Ministry in Beijing and urged Chinese tourists in Japan to make appropriate arrangements. The request for refunds was denied by the training centre, who insisted that parents would have to pay 20 per cent of costs, or about 4,000 yuan, to cancel the trip.

Many parents said that was unacceptable as health concerns should be of priority to the training centre as well as the families.

Some parents rallied in front of the training centre to raise attention to the issue, the report said.

The head of the choir said in a statement that the group was non-profit and he would personally ask for a full refund from the Opera House.

He said he had arranged a meeting to negotiate for the parents on Thursday.

Japan has become a popular travel destination for Chinese tourists in recent years after it eased visa rules for mainland tourists, who have flooded to their near neighbour where they spend up large on items that range from luxury watches to toilet seats.

http://www.scmp.com/news/china/society/article/2083086/chinese-parents-seek-refunds-japan-trip-citing-radiation-concerns

March 31, 2017 Posted by | Fukushima 2017 | , , , | Leave a comment

Columban missionary backs bishops against nuclear industry after harrowing visit to Fukushima clean-up

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Evacuated: An evacuee rests in a gymnasium serving as an evacuation centre in Yamagata, Japan, in March 2011. Residents from the vicinity of Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant were sheltered at the gym, as officials and workers struggled to contain the situation at the badly damaged nuclear facility.

 

A COLUMBAN missionary has witnessed a massive contamination clean-up in the Japanese region surrounding Fukushima, where a 2011 earthquake and tsunami triggered a nuclear power plant meltdown.

Fr Paul McCartin, recently visited the Fukushima region, six years after the nuclear disaster, and ahead of a government evacuation order being lifted at the end of this month, which will allow people to return home.

Arriving by bullet train at the town of Kouriyama, 60km west of Fukushima Number One Nuclear Power Plant, Fr McCartin said the first surprise was the large radiation monitor in front of the station.

Over the next three days I saw similar monitors in cities, beside country roads and along expressways,” Fr McCartin, the Columban Justice, Peace and the Integrity of Creation co-ordinator in Japan, said.

He has worked in Japan since 1979 and visited the Fukushima last September.

I had taken face masks but our guides gave us better ones,” he said.

We were told to make sure we washed our hands and around our mouths before eating.

I was given a small radiation monitor to wear around my neck.

Over the two-and-a-half days I was exposed to 8.1 micro Sieverts, an ‘acceptable’ amount.”

The Sievert is a measure of the health effect of low levels of ionising radiation on the human body.

As Fr McCartin drove through the Fukushima countryside, he found houses barricaded, roads closed and warnings from officials amidst a massive clean-up.

I was restricted. There were roadblocks with security personnel,” he said.

I was advised not to hike in Fukushima as there is a lot of radiation in the mountains, especially at the base of mountains as rain washes it down.

Buildings and roads are being washed down, and contaminated soil and vegetation being removed.”

He said topsoil to a depth of five centimetres was being removed and replaced with soil from unaffected areas.

There are large collections of industrial waste bags all over the place. There must be hundreds of thousands, if not millions,” he said.

At the end of March, Japan is set to lift evacuation orders for parts of Namie, located 4km from the wrecked Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant, as well as three other towns.

More than half of Namie’s former 21,500 residents have decided not to return.

Namie, and other nearby centres are now ghost towns, dilapidated, and for many, they conjure horrific memories.

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Tsunami damage: Facilities near the seawater heat exchanger building at Tokyo Electric Power Company’s Fukushima Daini nuclear power plant Unit 3 reactor on April 2, 2011, days after an earthquake and tsunami hit the area in north-east Japan.

A government survey showed last year, there were lingering concerns over radiation and the safety of the nuclear plant, which is being decommissioned.

Beyond radiation risks, an unexpected nuisance looms – hundreds of wild boars have descended from surrounding hills and forests into the deserted towns.

The creatures have roamed across the radioactive contaminated region.

In Namie, wild boars occupy the empty streets and overgrown backyards foraging for food.

In the nearby town of Tomioka, local hunters have captured an estimated 300 boars.

Following his visit last September, Fr McCartin is concerned about the spread of contaminated material.

Low-level waste is being recycled,” he said.

Highly contaminated waste is being burned.

So far only one per cent of high-level waste has been burned.

More incinerators are being constructed.

Contaminated waste is being used in the wall being built along the shore to prevent another tsunami hitting the area.

In fact, there is so much radioactively contaminated waste that local facilities can’t handle it, so ‘low-level waste’ is being transported to many distant places for disposal.

Contaminated fishing gear and nets are being disposed of in the town where I live.

In this way, radiation is being spread to many parts of the country.

It would seem to make sense to keep it where it is and avoid unnecessarily contaminating the rest of the country.”

Fr McCartin said the Japanese media was muzzled from challenging the government on Fukushima and the hazards of nuclear power.

The efforts of individual journalists reporting on the issue were often dismissed.

A Catholic in Yokohama told me last year that after his daughter wrote a piece on Fukushima for the newspaper she works for, her boss told her, ‘No more on Fukushima’,” he said.

The government has threatened to shut down any media organisation that publishes something the government doesn’t like.

In the last year or so three forthright and prominent media personalities have been sacked or not had their contracts renewed.”

Fr McCartin said he supported a call by Japanese Catholic bishops to abandon the nuclear power industry.

I believe that if the government transferred a small fraction of the trillions of dollars it throws at the nuclear industry to the renewable energy industry, the country would be awash in safe energy in a very short time,” he said.

http://catholicleader.com.au/news/columban-missionary-backs-bishops-against-nuclear-industry-after-harrowing-visit-to-fukushima-clean-up

March 28, 2017 Posted by | Fukushima 2017 | , , , | 2 Comments

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Deadly nuclear radiation levels detected in Fukushima

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

Robots Go Into The Fukushima Nuclear Plant Site, But Don’t Come Out

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In 2011, a 9.0 magnitude earthquake off the coast of Japan caused a massive tsunami, which in turn led to the meltdown of three nuclear reactors at the Fukushima Nuclear Power Plant in Fukushima, Japan. As a result, the site went on to release radioactive material for the next three days, becoming only the second such disaster in history–after Chernobyl in 1986–to be classified a Level 7 event on the Nuclear Event Scale.

So perhaps it should come as no surprise that, just past the tragedy’s six year anniversary, Tokyo Electric Power Co. (Tepco) has made little progress in cleaning up the disaster site. 

While Tepco has spent much of its time containing radiation and attempting to minimize groundwater contamination, its current mission is to locate and retrieve 600 tons of melted nuclear fuel rods lost somewhere in the radioactive wreckage. As the levels of radiation are still too high for human exposure, this task has fallen to robots. Yet so far, even the robots have failed repeatedly to locate the melted fuel rods; instead, they are dying within the reactors they were sent in to survey. 

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The latest device to meet its end was a scorpion-shaped robot built by Toshiba, which entered one of the reactors last month but stalled just 10 feet short of its target in a matter of hours. While it was ultimately undone by the failure of its left roller-belt, the robot was exposed to far higher than expected levels of radiation, which likely interfered with its electronics and prevented it from sending photos that could have shed some light on the location of the melted fuel rods.

Despite being manufactured using special radiation-hardened materials to protect its circuits from exposure, the levels of radiation it encountered within the reactor far exceeded the robot’s tolerance. Two prior robot missions had to be aborted as well after one got stuck and another failed to locate any melted fuel for several days.

Despite the setbacks, Tepco believes it is getting closer to locating the melted fuel, and hopes to begin removal by 2021, but admits it is a long-term project. The Japanese government estimates that it will take upwards of 40 years and $70.6 billion to complete the clean-up.

According to MIT nuclear science professor Jacopo Buongiorno, “the roadmap for removing the fuel is going to be long, 2020 and beyond. The re-solidified fuel is likely stuck to the vessel wall and vessel internal structures. So the debris have to be cut, scooped, put into a sealed and shielded container and then extracted from the containment vessel. All done by robots.”

But that begs the question: what robots? 

None of those they’ve sent in so far has done the trick. What if the technology required to create the chips and robots that are radiation-hardened yet not too weighed down by protective shielding hasn’t even been invented yet? Bloomberg reports that Toshiba intends to send a new robot into Reactor 3 next year at this time to continue the search, but it is still in the development phase, and Toshiba has not yet made design details public.

The good news is that with a 40 year time horizon, the likelihood of technology catching up with Tepco’s needs is fairly good. But when will the site be clean enough so that more people may return to their homes? In the meantime, radioactive boars have been making themselves quite at home there.

http://secondnexus.com/technology-and-innovation/fukushima-robots-keep-dying/

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

The illusion of normality at Fukushima

Six years after it suffered a nuclear meltdown, Fukushima appears to have returned to a semblance of normalcy. But there is still a long way to go in terms of cleaning up the site. Martin Fritz reports.

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A filter mask covering the mouth and nose, a headscarf, a helmet, gloves and two layers of socks – they constitute the protective gear that must be worn by any ordinary visitor to the Fukushima nuclear power station. 

Only a few workers now have to wear face masks and hazmat suits, since most of the ground at the site has been sealed with concrete.

“The radiation is now as low as in the Tokyo’s Ginza shopping district,” Tokyo Electric Power Co. (TEPCO) manager Yuichi Okamura assured a group of journalists during their recent visit to the plant.

But the illusion of normality evaporates as soon as the visitors get off their bus and stand within sight of the reactors, with dosimeters indicating radiation levels of around 160 to 170 microsieverts per hour – nearly 2,000 times above what is considered safe.

“We cannot stay here for long,” warns Okamura.

On the surface, it appears that much has changed in Fukushima since the disaster struck six years ago. The clean-up work has evidently made progress.

But the sight of skeletal steel frames, torn walls and broken pipes immediately reminds one of the 17-meter-high tsunami which flooded the facility six years ago and brought its reactors to a complete standstill.

It’s expected to take 30 to 40 years to completely clean up the Fukushima Daiichi plant, which was hit by the world’s worst nuclear disaster since Chernobyl following a magnitude-9 earthquake and the subsequent tsunami. The operation is likely to carry a hefty price tag, with Japanese officials recently estimating it to cost around $189 billion in total.

Today, with 6,000 workers employed, the nuclear power plant is Japan’s largest and most expensive construction site – and it will remain so for decades. “We’re struggling with four problems,” says TEPCO manager Okamura: “Reducing the radiation at the site, stopping the influx of groundwater, retrieving the spent fuel rods and removing the molten nuclear fuel.”

Black lumps in the reactor containment

Progress in these areas, however, is slow. For instance, workers are erecting scaffolding around the collapsed roof of reactor No 1, but it will likely take four more years for the debris there to be cleared away. Only then can the almost 400 old fuel rods be retrieved from the reactor’s holding basin.

In the adjacent reactor No 2, the blue exterior still remains intact. Workers in hazmat suits can be seen walking on a new metal platform halfway up the reactor building.  But behind the wall lies a nuclear nightmare. A robot sent into the reactor in January found highly dangerous black lumps of leaked fuel on a platform in the outer reactor containment.

“There is now fatally high radiation in that part,” says Okamura.

The engineer quickly turns to reactor No 3, where the progress is more obvious. A hydrogen explosion had turned the reactor’s roof into a tangle of bent metal. It took years of work to dismantle this steel scrap and remove the rubble. “Now we’re building a new roof with an integrated hoisting crane,” says Okamura proudly.

“From next year, we would finally be able to close in on the nearly 600 burnt fuel rods,” he noted. But unlike in reactor No 4, the clean-up must be undertaken remotely as the radiation is so strong that people can only stay there for a few minutes. As a result, the construction of the lifting device has already been delayed by several years. 

Unclear conditions

The situation at the reactors raises doubts about the optimism shared by Japanese officials with regard to the orderly decommissioning of the plant. At the next stop, Okamura shows the control center of the underground ice wall that was built to prevent groundwater from leaking into the reactor basements and mixing with radioactive coolant water.

Since its construction, it has managed to reduce the amount of groundwater flowing into the reactor basements. But five sections of the wall have had to be kept open to prevent water inside the reactor basements from rising and flowing out too rapidly.

Despite all these adversities, the Japanese government and TEPCO are planning to decide as early as this summer how to remove the molten nuclear fuel from the reactors.

Even Shunji Uchida, the Fukushima Daiichi plant manager, couldn’t hide his skepticism from the visiting journalists. “Robots and cameras have already provided us with valuable pictures,” says Uchida, adding: “But it is still unclear what is really going on inside.”

http://www.dw.com/en/the-illusion-of-normality-at-fukushima/a-37885120

March 15, 2017 Posted by | Fukushima 2017 | , , , | Leave a comment