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Japan’s industry minister visits crippled Fukushima plant amid controversial plan to dump radioactive wastewater into sea

August 18, 2022

TOKYO, Aug. 18 (Xinhua) — Japan’s industry minister visited the crippled Fukushima nuclear power plant Thursday to see the extent of the damage caused by the March 2011 tsunami-triggered nuclear disaster, and assess the complications still facing the plant and its decommissioning efforts.

During his visit, Yasutoshi Nishimura, who received his new ministerial portfolio in a cabinet reshuffle last week, was also scheduled to hold talks with officials from Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings Inc. (TEPCO), the operator of the plant, and meet with local government officials.

His visit was made amid a myriad of challenges facing the plant including from a controversial plan for radioactive wastewater to be discharged into the Pacific Ocean.

The mayors of two towns hosting the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant have urged the central government to take steps to protect the reputation of the region’s marine products under the plan to dump radioactive water from the plant into the sea.

Fukushima Governor Masao Uchibori believes the contentious plan has not earned enough understanding from the Japanese people and residents of the prefecture, as there are still various opinions including concerns over renewed reputational damage.

Okuma Mayor Jun Yoshida, meanwhile, has voiced concerns that the already maligned region will once again have its reputation damaged, and also urged the central government to take steps to prevent damage to the northeast region’s reputation.

Under the plan, the water, which contains hard-to-remove radioactive tritium as a result of being used to cool down melted nuclear fuel at the stricken plant, will be discharged through an underwater tunnel one kilometer off the Pacific coast into the ocean after being treated.

The plant had its key cooling functions knocked out after being battered by a massive earthquake-triggered tsunami over a decade ago, resulting in the worst nuclear crisis since Chernobyl in 1986.

The tainted water being stored in tanks at the plant is expected to reach capacity next year and the lengthy process of then dumping the radioactive water into the ocean is projected by TEPCO to take several decades, beginning next spring.

Japan’s fisheries industry, for instance, has maintained its ardent opposition to the plan, as it will almost certainly cause further damage to the industry’s reputation in the region.

A number of countries and regions continue to impose restrictions on Japanese agricultural and fishery products as a result of the initial Fukushima crisis amid continued concerns about the safety of the produce.

Japan’s controversial plan to dump radioactive wastewater into the Pacific ocean has raised concerns from the international community, including from Japan’s neighbors, over its impacts on the global marine environment and the public health of Pacific-rim countries. The Japanese side has been asked to earnestly fulfill its due international obligations, dispose of the nuclear-contaminated water in a science-based, open, transparent and safe manner, and stop pushing through the plan to discharge the water into ocean.

https://english.news.cn/20220818/c1a7c11078c6427ebdd74f3bceec40c7/c.html

August 21, 2022 Posted by | Fuk 2022 | , , , | Leave a comment

Japan’s industry minister inspects crippled Fukushima nuclear plant

Another euphemism, “concerns”, not concerns just plain opposition. Damn hypocrites!

Japanese industry minister Yasutoshi Nishimura (L) inspects the crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant in Fukushima Prefecture on Aug. 18, 2022.

Aug 18, 2022 Japan’s industry minister Yasutoshi Nishimura inspected the crippled Fukushima nuclear power plant Thursday, his first visit since assuming the position last week, to assess the progress of decommissioning and the ongoing challenges stemming from the March 2011 nuclear disaster. Nishimura met with officials of Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings Inc., operator of the Fukushima Daiichi plant, and chiefs of local governments and the prefectural assembly, as his ministry faces multiple challenges such as a plan to discharge treated water containing trace amounts of tritium into the sea.

“I will give my best in gaining understanding on safety (of the discharge plan) and preventing reputational damage” to local businesses, Nishimura said at a meeting with Fukushima Gov. Masao Uchibori, which was partly open to the press.

Nishimura was named as chief of the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry in the Aug. 10 Cabinet reshuffle.

Earlier in the month, local government chiefs from the prefecture called on the central government to take measures to prevent reputational damage to local businesses selling marine products, a key concern among the fisheries industry which opposes the discharge expected to begin next spring.

The request was made by the mayors of Okuma and Futaba, the two towns hosting the Fukushima plant, and the Fukushima governor during a meeting in Tokyo with Nishimura’s predecessor Koichi Hagiuda, now chairman of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party’s Policy Research Council.

The local government heads have also urged the central government to create an environment where marine products are traded at fair prices so that residents, particularly young people, can operate competitive businesses.

According to the discharge plan, the water — treated through a processing system that removes radionuclides except for tritium — will be released 1-kilometer off the Pacific coast of the plant through an underwater pipe.

While construction of discharge facilities is under way following approval of the plan by the Nuclear Regulation Authority, neighboring China continues to oppose the release of the treated water.

South Korea has also expressed concerns over the plan.

https://english.kyodonews.net/news/2022/08/fc4793599f8f-japans-industry-minister-inspects-crippled-fukushima-nuclear-plant.html

August 21, 2022 Posted by | Fuk 2022 | , , , | Leave a comment

Japan Govt./TEPCO Say Solution to Pollution is Dilution, as Plan to Dump Fukushima Wastewater to Pacific Moves Ahead

August 15, 2022

Fukushima Prefecture, Japan — Japan’s Nuclear Regulation Authority has formally endorsed a controversial plan by TEPCO (Tokyo Electric Power Company) — the operator of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant — to start dumping more than a million tons of radioactive wastewater from the plant into the Pacific Ocean within the next two years. The plant was crippled in 2011 by an earthquake and tsunami that caused a disastrous triple meltdown. TEPCO claims it’s now running out of room to continue storing the wastewater onsite, but expert critics of the plan say that’s not really true.

The unprecedented disposal plan is expected to last for decades, with the wastewater to be pumped through a half mile long undersea tunnel that has yet to be constructed. The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) signed off on the scheme last year, with IAEA Director General Rafael Mariano Grossi declaring that ocean disposal would be “both technically feasible and in line with international practice.” Yet, Grossi also admitted “the large amount of water at the Fukushima plant makes it a unique and complex case.”

This leaves opponents of the plan with no other regulatory recourse. Those opposed include Greenpeace Japan, human rights experts from the United Nations (UN), the government of China (which has deemed the strategy “extremely irresponsible”), as well as labor unions in the Japanese fishing industry.

Japanese fishermen fear that seafood will be contaminated by tritium in the wastewater — a radioactive isotope that cannot be removed through filtering. Japanese regulators have claimed the tritium will be diluted below 1/40th of the allowable level for discharge in Japan and to 1/7th of the World Health Organization’s (WHO) ceiling for drinking water.

The Japanese government has put forth a relief plan to assist the fishing industry, saying last year that it will create a fund to buy and store freezable seafood from fishermen whose sales drop due to reputational damage from the discharges from Fukushima. The details on the plan remain murky though, as does the wastewater’s potential damage to the food chain.

Radioactive Water Storage Tanks at Fukushima Daiichi

55 countries and regions including the United States imposed restrictions on the import of Japanese seafood in the wake of the Fukushima meltdowns, but only five of them still have import bans in place (China, South Korea, Taiwan, Hong Kong and Macau.)

EnviroNews reached out to the IAEA but the agency did not respond to a query about their endorsement of the controversial plan, while the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) predictably deflected toward the IAEA.

“The United States is confident the Government of Japan, in collaboration with the International Atomic Energy Agency, has weighed all available options and has taken all appropriate international guidelines into consideration in its decision-making process. We understand the IAEA will continue to work closely with the Government of Japan to ensure the adopted approach is in accordance with globally accepted nuclear safety standards,” U.S. NRC Public Affairs Officer Scott Burnell told EnviroNews by email.

Greenpeace has another view, condemning the dumping plan and insisting TEPCO’s claim about running out of storage space at Fukushima simply isn’t true.

In the wake of the IAEA’s endorsement of the scheme last year, Greenpeace Japan’s Climate/Energy Campaigner Kazue Suzuki said this:

“The Japanese government has once again failed the people of Fukushima. The government has taken the wholly unjustified decision to deliberately contaminate the Pacific Ocean with radioactive wastes. It has discounted the radiation risks and turned its back on the clear evidence that sufficient storage capacity is available on the nuclear site as well as in surrounding districts. Rather than using the best available technology to minimize radiation hazards by storing and processing the water over the long term, they have opted for the cheapest option, dumping the water into the Pacific Ocean.”

Several human rights experts from the United Nations’ Human Rights Council have also expressed concern and regret at Japan’s dumping strategy with the three Special Rapporteurs saying this in a statement last year:

“Japan has noted that the levels of tritium are very low and do not pose a threat to human health. However, scientists warn that the tritium in the water organically binds to other molecules, moving up the food chain affecting plants and fish and humans. They say the radioactive hazards of tritium have been underestimated and could pose risks to humans and the environment for over 100 years.”

Nuclear engineer and Fairewinds Energy Education board member Arnie Gundersen has visited the Fukushima site four times over the past decade and concurs with the Greenpeace assessment. In an interview with EnviroNews, he pointed out how the land next to the nuclear plant could be utilized for further storage of the contaminated water.

“There’s vast amounts of pasture land, immediately adjacent, that [are] highly contaminated… so they’re not going to use it for anything,” Gundersen told EnviroNews. “So, they could build more tanks, but it’s cheaper for them to dump it than to build more tanks.”

Gundersen also takes issue with TEPCO’s claim that the proposed dumping scheme will only involve a release of tritium, noting that there are still other radioactive isotopes of concern.

“They’re trying to portray this as a tritium release, but in fact there are other isotopes in the water in addition to tritium. There’s strontium and cesium and things like that,” Gundersen said. “The isotope of concern for me is Strontium 90, which is classified as an HDT – which stands for hard to detect.”

Gundersen noted that strontium is “a bone-seeker” that causes leukemia and is difficult to detect because it emits a beta particle that is similar to other elements emitted at the same frequency. As to the tritium, he noted that it’s naturally occurring in very low quantities so that measurements won’t find an appreciable increase 100 to 200 miles away from where TEPCO is planning the discharge.  The dump-zone itself however, is another story.

“200 miles of ocean is an awful lot to contaminate because you’re too cheap to build more tanks,” Gundersen asserted. He pointed out that tritium has a 12-year half-life, meaning that the contamination level would decrease by 50 percent in 12 years, 75 percent in 24 years, and would be considered decayed by 120 years.

Gundersen says the IAEA’s claim that TEPCO’s dumping plan is in line with international practice is another blatant falsehood.

“It’s not in line with international practice. You’re talking about dumping a thousand tanks of thousands of tons [of contaminated wastewater] per tank into the ocean. Nobody’s doing that, it’s never been done,” Gundersen rebuffed, adding that the IAEA is more concerned about protecting the image of the nuclear power industry than they are about protecting the oceans and the food chain.

(EnviroNews World News) — Fukushima Prefecture, Japan — Japan’s Nuclear Regulation Authority has formally endorsed a controversial plan by TEPCO (Tokyo Electric Power Company) — the operator of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant — to start dumping more than a million tons of radioactive wastewater from the plant into the Pacific Ocean within the next two years. The plant was crippled in 2011 by an earthquake and tsunami that caused a disastrous triple meltdown. TEPCO claims it’s now running out of room to continue storing the wastewater onsite, but expert critics of the plan say that’s not really true.

The unprecedented disposal plan is expected to last for decades, with the wastewater to be pumped through a half mile long undersea tunnel that has yet to be constructed. The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) signed off on the scheme last year, with IAEA Director General Rafael Mariano Grossi declaring that ocean disposal would be “both technically feasible and in line with international practice.” Yet, Grossi also admitted “the large amount of water at the Fukushima plant makes it a unique and complex case.”

This leaves opponents of the plan with no other regulatory recourse. Those opposed include Greenpeace Japan, human rights experts from the United Nations (UN), the government of China (which has deemed the strategy “extremely irresponsible”), as well as labor unions in the Japanese fishing industry.

Japanese fishermen fear that seafood will be contaminated by tritium in the wastewater — a radioactive isotope that cannot be removed through filtering. Japanese regulators have claimed the tritium will be diluted below 1/40th of the allowable level for discharge in Japan and to 1/7th of the World Health Organization’s (WHO) ceiling for drinking water.

The Japanese government has put forth a relief plan to assist the fishing industry, saying last year that it will create a fund to buy and store freezable seafood from fishermen whose sales drop due to reputational damage from the discharges from Fukushima. The details on the plan remain murky though, as does the wastewater’s potential damage to the food chain.

Radioactive Water Storage Tanks at Fukushima Daiichi

55 countries and regions including the United States imposed restrictions on the import of Japanese seafood in the wake of the Fukushima meltdowns, but only five of them still have import bans in place (China, South Korea, Taiwan, Hong Kong and Macau.)

EnviroNews reached out to the IAEA but the agency did not respond to a query about their endorsement of the controversial plan, while the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) predictably deflected toward the IAEA.

“The United States is confident the Government of Japan, in collaboration with the International Atomic Energy Agency, has weighed all available options and has taken all appropriate international guidelines into consideration in its decision-making process. We understand the IAEA will continue to work closely with the Government of Japan to ensure the adopted approach is in accordance with globally accepted nuclear safety standards,” U.S. NRC Public Affairs Officer Scott Burnell told EnviroNews by email.

Greenpeace has another view, condemning the dumping plan and insisting TEPCO’s claim about running out of storage space at Fukushima simply isn’t true.

In the wake of the IAEA’s endorsement of the scheme last year, Greenpeace Japan’s Climate/Energy Campaigner Kazue Suzuki said this:

The Japanese government has once again failed the people of Fukushima. The government has taken the wholly unjustified decision to deliberately contaminate the Pacific Ocean with radioactive wastes. It has discounted the radiation risks and turned its back on the clear evidence that sufficient storage capacity is available on the nuclear site as well as in surrounding districts. Rather than using the best available technology to minimize radiation hazards by storing and processing the water over the long term, they have opted for the cheapest option, dumping the water into the Pacific Ocean.

Several human rights experts from the United Nations’ Human Rights Council have also expressed concern and regret at Japan’s dumping strategy with the three Special Rapporteurs saying this in a statement last year:

Japan has noted that the levels of tritium are very low and do not pose a threat to human health. However, scientists warn that the tritium in the water organically binds to other molecules, moving up the food chain affecting plants and fish and humans. They say the radioactive hazards of tritium have been underestimated and could pose risks to humans and the environment for over 100 years.

Nuclear engineer and Fairewinds Energy Education board member Arnie Gundersen has visited the Fukushima site four times over the past decade and concurs with the Greenpeace assessment. In an interview with EnviroNews, he pointed out how the land next to the nuclear plant could be utilized for further storage of the contaminated water.

“There’s vast amounts of pasture land, immediately adjacent, that [are] highly contaminated… so they’re not going to use it for anything,” Gundersen told EnviroNews. “So, they could build more tanks, but it’s cheaper for them to dump it than to build more tanks.”

Gundersen also takes issue with TEPCO’s claim that the proposed dumping scheme will only involve a release of tritium, noting that there are still other radioactive isotopes of concern.

“They’re trying to portray this as a tritium release, but in fact there are other isotopes in the water in addition to tritium. There’s strontium and cesium and things like that,” Gundersen said. “The isotope of concern for me is Strontium 90, which is classified as an HDT – which stands for hard to detect.”

Gundersen noted that strontium is “a bone-seeker” that causes leukemia and is difficult to detect because it emits a beta particle that is similar to other elements emitted at the same frequency. As to the tritium, he noted that it’s naturally occurring in very low quantities so that measurements won’t find an appreciable increase 100 to 200 miles away from where TEPCO is planning the discharge.  The dump-zone itself however, is another story.

“200 miles of ocean is an awful lot to contaminate because you’re too cheap to build more tanks,” Gundersen asserted. He pointed out that tritium has a 12-year half-life, meaning that the contamination level would decrease by 50 percent in 12 years, 75 percent in 24 years, and would be considered decayed by 120 years.

Gundersen says the IAEA’s claim that TEPCO’s dumping plan is in line with international practice is another blatant falsehood.

“It’s not in line with international practice. You’re talking about dumping a thousand tanks of thousands of tons [of contaminated wastewater] per tank into the ocean. Nobody’s doing that, it’s never been done,” Gundersen rebuffed, adding that the IAEA is more concerned about protecting the image of the nuclear power industry than they are about protecting the oceans and the food chain.

“The IAEA is a handmaiden to the nuclear industry. Article II of the IAEA charter is to promote nuclear power, so you’re not getting an objective analysis,” Gundersen laments.

Robert H. Richmond, a research professor and Director of the Kewalo Marine Laboratory at the University of Hawaii, voiced similar concerns earlier this summer in an article for CodeBlue:

Claims of safety are not scientifically supported by the available information. The world’s oceans are shared among all people, providing over 50 per cent of the oxygen we breathe, and a diversity of resources of economic, ecological and cultural value for present and future generations. Within the Pacific Islands in particular, the ocean is viewed as connecting, rather than separating, widely distributed populations. Releasing radioactive contaminated water into the Pacific is an irreversible action with transboundary and transgenerational implications. As such, it should not be unilaterally undertaken by any country.

Richmond went on to call for a more prudent approach adhering to precautionary principles. “The rush to dilute and dump is ill-advised and such actions should be postponed until further due diligence can be performed,” he said. “Sound science, and a much more careful consideration of the alternatives, and respect for the health and well-being of the peoples of the Pacific region, all demand it,” Richmond concluded.

August 21, 2022 Posted by | Fuk 2022 | , , , | Leave a comment

The shadows grow longer in Fukushima

The Fukushima No 2 nuclear power plant, as seen in March, is part of a complex that has come to define the region in northeastern Japan since disaster struck in March 2011

August 15, 2022

As Tokyo tries to woo residents back, plans to dump toxic water pose more perils

For Setsuko Matsumoto, 71, there will be no return to her hometown in Fukushima prefecture-that is despite the determined efforts of the Japanese government to win her over to the idea that it is safe to do so. And that goes for the many like Matsumoto who cannot countenance how they can once again live in neighborhoods that were devastated by the earthquake and tsunami more than a decade ago.

Having run a hair salon for almost 30 years in Futaba, a town 4 kilometers from the crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, Matsumoto believes the place has no future. The government would have her believe otherwise. On Aug 30, it will lift the last of the restrictions imposed that have prevented former residents from living in the region permanently. It claims radiation levels arising from the nuclear accident in March 2011 are now low enough to be deemed safe.

“I don’t think that the town will be able to go on, even with the return of some elderly residents,” says Matsumoto.

Although 11 years have passed since the Fukushima plant’s cooling systems were severely damaged in the disaster, triggering the meltdown of three reactors and the release of large amounts of radiation, Matsumoto has her reasons for not moving back.

“Residing in Futaba is not an option for me,” she says. “The lack of shopping and medical care opportunities can’t be solved anytime soon and I don’t have a reason to relocate to a place with a worse living environment.”

Over the years, there have been sustained efforts-both from the top down and the bottom up-aimed at driving Fukushima’s reconstruction and revitalization. Seemingly limitless funds have been spent on that process, from the national government all the way down to township levels. These efforts are all bound up in the Japanese government’s economic and political ambitions to show the world that it has succeeded in managing the nuclear crisis.

Yet that strong desire to change Fukushima into something resembling its old form, or even something better, has encountered resistance from the likes of Matsumoto, who have lived with the effects of trauma for more than a decade.

Work proceeds in March on the construction of a shaft at the stricken Fukushima nuclear power plant near the town of Futaba in Japan’s northeast.

As a result of the disaster, some 160,000 people like Matsumoto were evacuated from the Fukushima region. What the authorities had to contend with was a level-7 nuclear accident, the highest on the international scale of nuclear and radiological events. By the end of 2021, some 40,000 of them were still unable to return to their homes. But, with Futaba, the last of dozens of places ending their status as no-go zones, the government still faces a challenge in regaining the people’s trust.

In a survey conducted by Japan’s Reconstruction Agency and others, only 11.3 percent of respondents said they wanted to return to Futaba while more than 60 percent said they already decided not to return.

The town aims to attract 2,000 people back in the next five years but in a trial for overnight stays, beginning in January, has seen only 15 former residents have applied.

In a report in 2020, Miranda Schreurs, a professor and chair of environmental and climate policy at the Technical University of Munich, Germany, argues that the situation in Fukushima remains precarious because problems like the removal of radioactively contaminated waste, and issues such as incineration, still need to be addressed.

“It will still take many years to win back confidence and trust in the government’s messages that the region is safe,” Schreurs says in the report, adding that intergenerational equity is also an issue. The next generations will be left with the burden of completing the highly dangerous and complex decommissioning work at the Fukushima plant, she said.

The plans for Fukushima’s future also bump up against the government’s divisive decision to proceed with a plan to discharge the radioactive water from the plant into the Pacific Ocean. The water has been used to cool the highly radioactive, damaged reactor cores and would be sufficient to fill about 500 Olympic-sized swimming pools. Under Tokyo’s schedule, the ocean disposal will begin next spring.

Those plans present another blow to those former Fukushima residents who may be wanting to return to their old communities.

“Dumping the water went contrary to a government pledge of reconstructing my hometown Fukushima because it threatens a double blow to our community,” says Hisae Unuma, an evacuee who has been among those pushing for the government to scrap the decision.

However, despite the mounting opposition from people in and outside Japan, the Japanese government has not troubled itself to give the plan a second thought.

The Nuclear Regulation Authority of Japan officially endorsed the discharge plan on July 22.

On Aug 4, the Tokyo Electric Power Company, or TEPCO, the Fukushima plant’s operator, announced the start of construction on the pipelines that will take the contaminated water out to sea. But Japanese media have already reported that these works were all but completed.

Japanese take to the streets in Tokyo in April 2021 to protest against the government’s plan for ocean discharge

In response, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian said Japan must not discharge the contaminated water before a consensus is reached with all stakeholders, as well as with international agencies, after a thorough consultation. “This is a litmus test of Japan’s commitment to international obligations,” Zhao said.

On Aug 1, South Korean Minister of Oceans and Fisheries Cho Seunghwan said the government is considering whether to take the issue to the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea. Cho said the government’s primary goal is to prevent Japan from releasing the contaminated water. “We do not accept the release plan”, he said.

Last month, a meeting of foreign ministers of the Pacific Islands Forum released a document criticizing Japan. The ministers said the ocean discharge could lead to “transgenerational impacts of great concern to the peoples of the Pacific”.

In Japan, the condemnations of official policy, along with petitions calling for the reversal of the decision, have been constant since the ocean discharge plan was confirmed by the government in April last year.

Among the environmental groups denouncing the plan is FoE Japan. In a statement, it says the Japanese government and TEPCO had much earlier made written commitments on the matter, that “without the understanding of relevant personnel, no actions will be taken”. However, the government still decided to go ahead with the ocean discharge without seeking advice from the parties involved, the statement says.

Civil society groups in the most-affected prefectures submitted a petition to Japan’s Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry and TEPCO in March. Reaffirming their opposition to the release of the contaminated water, they demanded that the government pursue other alternatives. Consumer groups and fisheries associations are at the forefront of this action.

The petition has collected some 180,000 signatures from residents in prefectures such as Fukushima, Iwate and Miyagi.

Masanobu Sakamoto, president of the National Fisheries Cooperative Federation of Japan, says the plan has not gained the support of the public and the fisheries industry and that the federation’s firm opposition remains.

Katsuhito Fuyuki, the board chair of the Miyagi Consumers Cooperative Association, likewise says the government’s disposal plan has failed to win public support.

“The impact of the 2011 nuclear accident remains and imports of Miyagi fishery products are still banned by nearby countries,” says Fuyuki, adding that the decision would deal a further blow to the local economy.

Tests are conducted in March on contaminated water from the Fukushima plant. Many are skeptical that the water can be treated safely.

Under the government’s plan, the authorities will gradually discharge the still-contaminated water from next spring. Japan insists there are no alternatives to the ocean discharge. It says that by the end of 2022 there will be no space left at the site for storage. Moreover, after a treatment process known as the Advanced Liquid Processing System, or ALPS, the radioactive tritium-a radioactive isotope of hydrogen-will be the only radionuclide in the water and that it is harmless.

However, many environmental scientists and environmentalists are scathing in their condemnation of Japan’s narrative, saying it is misinformation aimed at creating a false impression that the consequences of the 2011 nuclear disaster are short-lived.

A report in 2020 by the environmental group Greenpeace says the narrative has been constructed to serve financial and political reasons.

“Long after the Yoshihide Suga (and Shinzo Abe) administrations are historical footnotes, the negative consequences of the Fukushima Daiichi meltdown will remain a present and constant threat most immediately to the people and environment of Fukushima, but also to the rest of Japan and internationally,” says the report, referring to Suga as the then prime minister whose government approved the disposal plan a year ago.

According to the Greenpeace report, there is no technical, engineering or legal barrier to securing storage space for ALPS-treated contaminated water. It is only a matter of political will and the decision is based on expediency-the cheapest option is ocean discharge.

“The discharge of wastewater from Fukushima is an act of contaminating the Pacific Ocean as well as the sea area of South Korea,” says Ahn Jae-hun, energy and climate change director at the Korea Federation for Environment Movement, an advocacy group in Seoul.

“Many people in South Korea believe that Japan’s discharge of the Fukushima wastewater is a wrong policy that threatens the safety of both the sea and humans.”

Shaun Burnie, a senior nuclear specialist with Greenpeace Germany, says the Fukushima contaminated water issue comes under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea as it is a form of pollution to international waters.

There are strong grounds for individual countries to file a legal challenge against Japan’s plan, Burnie says.

http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/a/202208/15/WS62f99f00a310fd2b29e7224e_1.html

August 21, 2022 Posted by | Fuk 2022 | , , , , | Leave a comment

Japan extremely selfish to insist on discharging nuclear wastewater into sea

August 8, 2022

TOKYO, Aug. 10 (Xinhua) — Japan’s Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings Inc. (TEPCO) has recently started construction of facilities that will discharge radioactive wastewater from the crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant into the sea, taking another step in its plan to release nuclear-contaminated water.

The Japanese government’s drive to push through a long-term plan to release wastewater into the Pacific Ocean starting in the spring of 2023, despite domestic and international opposition, is extremely selfish, analysts say.

SELFISHNESS

Struck by a magnitude-9.0 earthquake and ensuing tsunami that hit Japan’s northeast on March 11, 2011, the No. 1-3 reactors at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant suffered core meltdowns, resulting in a level-7 nuclear accident, the highest on the International Nuclear and Radiological Event Scale.

The plant has been generating a massive amount of radiation-tainted water since the accident happened as it needs water to cool the reactors. With groundwater and rainwater also flowing in, about 1.3 million tons of contaminated water are now stored at the nuclear plant and are still increasing at a rate of 140 tons a day.

TEPCO claimed that the water storage tank’s current storage capacity of 1.37 million tons will run out this autumn and the plant has no more space for new water storage tanks to be constructed, so it has to release the contaminated water into the sea after filtering, purifying and diluting it.

In response to TEPCO’s claims, Japanese environmental groups pointed out that much of the land near the plant has been left idle due to nuclear leakage and could be used to construct additional water storage tanks.

However, the Japanese government and TEPCO rejected the idea, citing the need for a large amount of time for communication and coordination as well as a lot more work.

Environmentalists say it is not that the option is infeasible, it is because the Japanese government and TEPCO do not want to do it, as they put their own interests first.

A panel of experts organized by Japan’s Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry had proposed five options when considering how to deal with the contaminated water.

Among them, the Japanese government said the options of discharging the water into the sea and vapor release were two “most practical solutions” and it finally chose the former one, which “takes the shortest time and costs the least,” passing on the risk to the whole world.

BROKEN CREDIT

Contaminated water generated at TEPCO’s Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant contains tritium, cesium, strontium and other radioactive materials. The Japanese government and TEPCO said they would use the Advanced Liquid Processing System (ALPS), a multi-nuclide removal equipment, to reduce the concentrations of 62 types of radioactive substances, with the exception of tritium, which is hard to remove by purification and will remain in the treated water.

TEPCO believes that tritium normally remains in the wastewater at ordinary nuclear power stations, therefore it is safe to discharge tritium-contaminated water.

Experts say TEPCO is trying to confuse the concept of the wastewater that meets international standards during normal operation of nuclear power plants with that of the complex nuclear-contaminated water produced after the core meltdowns at the wrecked Fukushima power plant.

The actual results of ALPS are not as ideal as TEPCO claims. Japanese media have found that in addition to tritium, there are a variety of radioactive substances in the Fukushima nuclear wastewater that exceed the standard. TEPCO has also admitted that about 70 percent of the water treated by ALPS contains radionuclides other than tritium at the concentration which exceeds legally required standards and requires filtration again.

Also the reliability of ALPS itself is questionable. According to a report by Japan’s Asahi Shimbun in September 2021, 24 of the 25 filters used by ALPS to absorb radioactive substances were damaged, and the damage occurred two years ago, but TEPCO did not deal with it in time.

The Korean Federation for Environmental Movements, a South Korean civic environmental organization, said that TEPCO claimed to have the ability to reduce the concentration of 62 radioactive substances excluding tritium before the discharge of the contaminated water, but this is by no means the truth. The organization warned that it is hard to clean the sea water once it is polluted.

From the cover-up of the meltdown at the beginning of the Fukushima disaster to the bowing and apologizing for underreporting for more than a decade, TEPCO has left so many stains on its credibility that its nuclear credit has long since gone busted.

OPPOSITION FROM ALL SIDES

The willful push by the Japanese government and TEPCO to release wastewater into the sea has triggered strong opposition from both within Japan and its neighboring countries. Last Wednesday, a local civic group organized a protest outside the government house of Fukushima Prefecture to show their opposition to the plan.

After TEPCO announced last Thursday the start of the construction of facilities for releasing radioactive wastewater into the sea, a Japanese environmental organization issued a statement on the same day, pointing out that the Japanese government and TEPCO had made written commitments on the matter saying “without the understanding of relevant personnel, no actions will be taken.” However, the government still decided in April last year to release the nuclear-contaminated water into the sea without seeking advice from relevant parties to make it a fait accompli.

On July 22, the Nuclear Regulation Authority of Japan officially endorsed TEPCO’s nuclear-contaminated water discharge plan.

Responding to this, Masanobu Sakamoto, president of the National Fisheries Cooperative Federation of Japan, said the plan has not gained the understanding of the public and the fishery industry and that the federation’s firm opposition to the discharge had not changed at all.

Greenpeace Seoul Office said that the danger of discharging nuclear-contaminated water into the sea is obvious. The Japanese government’s decision to discharge the contaminated water into the sea when there are alternatives such as long-term storage violates the precautionary principle recognized by the international community.

https://english.news.cn/20220810/97096f0719604e19879e398798bd0b59/c.html

August 14, 2022 Posted by | Fuk 2022 | , , , | Leave a comment

Japan’s unilateral decision of dumping nuclear-contaminated water into ocean not responsible: Chinese ambassador for disarmament affairs

Li Song, Chinese ambassador for disarmament affairs

Aug 09, 2022

Japan’s dumping of Fukushima nuclear-contaminated water into the ocean will have influence on the ocean environment, security of food and people’s health, and Japan made such unilateral decision without having full negotiation with neighboring countries or international organizations, which is irresponsible and immoral, Li Song, Chinese ambassador for disarmament affairs, said Monday at the Tenth Review Conference of the Parties to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons, expressing strong concerns over the related issues.

Japan’s unilateral decision to dump Fukushima nuclear-contaminated water into the ocean is made purely out of concerns for its own economic cost, and it has neither resorted to all possible ways to handle it, nor had full negotiations with neighboring countries. Such selfish move is to transfer the risk to the international community. People in Japan, China, South Korea, Russia and Pacific island countries all expressed their concerns, Li said.

Japanese regulators have approved the plan of dumping Fukushima’s nuclear-contaminated water into the sea, which has caused safety concerns in the international community and neighboring countries.

Li pointed out that the international community has paid great attention on issues of the legitimacy of Japan’s plan of dumping the water, the credibility over the data, efficiency of the decontamination equipment, and the influence on the environment.

The International Atomic Energy Agency has not reached a final conclusion on the assessment on Japan’s plan, but has given Japan many improvement suggestions. But regrettably, Japan has purposely neglected it and kept pushing its plans. Such moves are not what a responsible country should take, Li said.

Dumping Fukushima’s nuclear-contaminated water into the ocean is not Japan’s own business and Japan should respond to the global concerns and go back to the track of communicating with parties of shared concerns. And it should stop forcibly pushing the dumping plan, Li said.

Japan should make sure handling the water in an open, transparent, scientific and safe manner, and take alternative plans and accept supervision of the International Atomic Energy Agency, said Li, noting that this is the touchstone to test whether Japan can effectively fulfill its responsibility.

https://www.globaltimes.cn/page/202208/1272548.shtml

August 14, 2022 Posted by | Fuk 2022 | , , , , | Leave a comment

Construction begins at Fukushima plant for water release

Workers walk around a construction site for a planned shaft at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, run by Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings (TEPCO), in the town of Futaba, northeastern Japan, on March 3, 2022. (AP Photo/Hiro Komae, File)

August 4, 2022

TOKYO (AP) — The construction of facilities needed for a planned release of treated radioactive wastewater into the sea next year from the damaged Fukushima nuclear power plant began Thursday despite opposition from the local fishing community.

Plant workers started construction of a pipeline to transport the wastewater from hillside storage tanks to a coastal facility before its planned release next year, according to the plant operator, Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings.

The digging of an undersea tunnel was also to begin later Thursday.

Construction at the Fukushima Daiichi plant follows the Nuclear Regulation Authority’s formal approval last month of a detailed wastewater discharge plan that TEPCO submitted in December.

The government announced last year a decision to release the wastewater as a necessary step for the plant’s ongoing decommissioning.

A massive earthquake and tsunami in 2011 destroyed the Fukushima Daiichi plant’s cooling systems, causing triple meltdowns and the release of large amounts of radiation. Water that was used to cool the three damaged and highly radioactive reactor cores has since leaked into basements of the reactor buildings but was collected and stored in tanks.

TEPCO and government officials say the water will be further treated to levels far below releasable standards and that the environmental and health impacts will be negligible. Of more than 60 isotopes selected for treatment, all but one — tritium — will be reduced to meet safety standards, they say.

Local fishing communities and neighboring countries have raised concerns about potential health hazards from the radioactive wastewater and the reputation damage to local produce, and oppose the release.

Scientists say the impact of long-term, low-dose exposure to not only tritium but also other isotopes on the environment and humans are still unknown and that a release is premature.

The contaminated water is being stored in about 1,000 tanks that require much space in the plant complex. Officials say they must be removed so that facilities can be built for its decommissioning. The tanks are expected to reach their capacity of 1.37 million tons in autumn of 2023.

TEPCO said it plans to transport treated and releasable water through a pipeline from the tanks to a coastal pool, where it will be diluted with seawater and then sent through an undersea tunnel with an outlet about 1 kilometer (0.6 miles) away to minimize the impact on local fishing and the environment.

TEPCO and the government have obtained approval from the heads of the plant’s host towns, Futaba and Okuma, for the construction, but local residents and the fishing community remain opposed and could still delay the process. The current plan calls for a gradual release of treated water to begin next spring in a process that will take decades.

TEPCO said Wednesday that weather and sea conditions could delay a completion of the facility until summer 2023.

Japan has sought help from the International Atomic Energy Agency to ensure the water release meets international safety standards and reassure local fishing and other communities and neighboring countries, including China and South Korea, that have opposed the plan.

IAEA experts who visited the plant earlier this year said Japan was taking appropriate steps for the planned discharge.

https://mainichi.jp/english/articles/20220804/p2g/00m/0na/016000c

August 14, 2022 Posted by | Fuk 2022 | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Facility construction begins for Japan’s Fukushima nuclear wastewater release amid opposition

File photo taken on Oct. 12, 2017, shows huge tanks that store contaminated radioactive wastewater in Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant

TOKYO, Aug. 5 (Xinhua) — The construction of facilities to release radioactive wastewater into the sea from the crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant in northeastern Japan began Thursday despite opposition from the local community and neighboring countries.

Plant workers started construction of a pipeline to transport the wastewater from hillside storage tanks to a coastal facility before its planned release next year, according to the plant’s operator, Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings Inc. (TEPCO).

On Tuesday, TEPCO has gained approval from Fukushima Governor Masao Uchibori and the mayors of Okuma and Futaba, which host the crisis-hit power plant, to start the construction, but serious concerns remain.

Local residents and the fishing community concerned about the impact on their fish catches and livelihoods and remain opposed to the plan, which calls for a gradual release of tons of treated water into the Pacific Ocean to begin next spring.

People rally to protest against the Japanese government’s decision to discharge contaminated radioactive wastewater in Fukushima Prefecture into the sea, in Tokyo, capital of Japan, on April 13, 2021.

China has expressed its firm opposition to the plan as China’s Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Wang Wenbin said previously that it is extremely irresponsible for Japan to ignore the concerns and strong opposition from all parties.

“If Japan insists on putting its own interests above the public interest of the international community and insists on taking the dangerous step, it will surely pay the price for its irresponsible behavior and leave a stain in history,” Wang said.

The South Korean government has stated that it would take “best responsive measures internally and externally” under the principle that people’s health and security are of utmost importance.

A massive tsunami, triggered by an earthquake of 9.0 magnitude off Japan’s northeastern coast, struck TEPCO’s Fukushima Daiichi power plant in March 2011. TEPCO said that it is running out of storage tanks to hold water used to cool the melted-down cores.

The Japanese government decided in April 2021 that the contaminated water had to be released into the sea as the facility is fast running out of space to set up more storage tanks, which already number in the hundreds.

https://english.news.cn/20220805/e5c88eb3134f4786b3070af31f364b48/c.html

August 14, 2022 Posted by | Fuk 2022 | , , , , | Leave a comment

UN Scientific Committee’s Dialogue Meeting Rocks – “No Change in Conclusion” when Error Pointed Out

2022/07/22

The United Nations Science Commission on Radiation Effects from the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant Accident (UNSCEAR), which compiled a report on the effects of radiation exposure from last year to this year, held an interactive meeting in Iwaki City, Fukushima Prefecture, on March 21 to explain the contents of the report to the public. The meeting was held in Iwaki City, Fukushima Prefecture. The former UNSCEAR chair Gillian Haas and others explained that the radiation doses were low and that cancer and other health problems did not occur, but domestic researchers raised questions one after another, saying that the report contained errors and underestimated radiation doses.

From July 19 to 22, UNSCEAR has been conducting “outreach activities” in Japan to disseminate the report. On this day, a meeting for the public was held for the first time, attended by about 30 people, including domestic researchers and media representatives. The meeting began with an hour-long presentation on the report, which cited 500 papers selected from more than 1,000 peer-reviewed articles and other materials published by the end of 2019. He emphasized that the report was scientific and objective, citing 500 papers selected from more than 1,000 peer-reviewed papers published by the end of 2019, and pointed out that the radiation dose from the accident was extremely low. He pointed out that the radiation doses from the accident were extremely low. The report concluded that the large number of pediatric thyroid cancers found in Fukushima Prefecture were not the result of the accident, but rather “the result of ultra-sensitive screening tests.

Dr. Hiyako Sakiyama, a medical doctor and president of the NPO 3.11 Thyroid Cancer Children’s Fund, raised the issue of the radiation dose of radioactive iodine being estimated in half based on the dietary habits of the Japanese people. Looking at the amount of iodine in urine, which is publicized as a result of the secondary thyroid examination conducted by Fukushima Prefecture, she pointed out that “the amount of iodine that Japanese people are consuming from food is the same as the world average. He refuted the report, saying that the exposure in the report was “clearly underestimated.

Shinichi Kurokawa, professor emeritus at the High Energy Accelerator Research Organization (KEK), criticized the existence of impossible data in the report. He pointed out that the deposition rate of radioactive cesium, which is used as a model for simulations to estimate absorbed doses in the thyroid gland, is at a “physically impossible” rate. He harshly criticized the report.

He also sharply criticized the previous day’s press conference, in which Kurokawa and his group of researchers had responded that the error was a mere typo and that they had not received any suggestions that would change their conclusions. He expressed his anger, saying, “Why did they say that?”

Akashi is a former representative of Japan. He had long served as a member of the prefectural health survey committee, but he was unaware of any data on iodine in urine.

In addition, a number of people from the audience raised questions about the data used and its contents, including a former fishery cooperative official who complained that the doses of fish he had measured had been revised downward. Haas and others, however, reiterated that while they would verify the areas pointed out, their conclusions would not change.
The term “scientific” means “picked up from published papers.”

In an interview with Synodos, former Japanese representative Mamon Akashi emphasized that the report was scientific. When asked about the fierce criticism that was leveled at him in his dialogue with the public, he responded. The report is based on a review of published papers, with the exception of personal dosimeter data from Minamisoma and Naraha, but most of the data has been reviewed. I only said that I picked up the data from the published papers, and I described it as scientific, not that I arbitrarily excluded any papers or tried to exclude any papers. I didn’t say that I arbitrarily excluded or tried to exclude any papers,” he responded.

He also emphasized that he had no idea about the report’s suggestion that errors had occurred in its own analysis, since it was outside his area of expertise.

July 22, 2022 Posted by | Fuk 2022 | , , , , | Leave a comment

NRA approval for Fukushima Daiichi radioactive pollution of the Pacific Ocean – no justification, no scientific basis and illegal – Greenpeace condemns decision

Greenpeace Japan
2022-07-22

Tokyo, Japan – The final approval by Japan’s Nuclear Regulation Authority (NRA) of Tokyo Electric Power Company Holding (TEPCO) plans to discharge radioactive waste water into the Pacific Ocean has no justification, is based on incomplete and limited data and flawed analysis and violates international law, according to Greenpeace East Asia.

Shaun Burnie, a senior nuclear specialist from Greenpeace East Asia, said: 

“The decision by Japan’s regulator to deliberately pollute the Pacific Ocean with radioactive waste water is as bad as it sounds. The NRA approval of the TEPCO contaminated water discharge plan is scientifically and technically flawed. It is a decision intended to support the false narrative that decommissioning the destroyed reactors at Fukushima Daiichi is making real progress. In reality the contaminated water plan is a symptom of the wider crisis that the current decommissioning plan is doomed. The discharges into the Pacific will not solve any problems but create many more. The NRA knows that a fundamental reassessment of the decommissioning plan is inevitable, and that will also mean choosing the least environmentally damaging option which is long term storage and processing.”

“The NRA has failed to assess many important issues that are fundamental to any environmental assessment. Further, it disregards the human rights of those most impacted by the 2011 disaster – the citizens of Fukushima prefecture, including fishing communities, as well as neighboring prefectures. It ignores the wider environmental marine impact and the rights of the peoples of the Asia Pacific region who are opposed to the deliberate pollution of the Pacific with radioactive waste,” said Burnie. 

Japan is legally required under the UN Convention for the Law of the Sea to conduct a comprehensive Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA). No such assessment has been made or is planned either by Japan’s regulator or the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). There are many legal issues that the NRA has just completely failed to consider.

The opposition to radioactive discharges continues to grow, including the efforts by the 18 nations of the Pacific Island Forum (PIF) to challenge the false scientific rationale for the radioactive pollution plans.

Greenpeace analysis on the Fukushima water crisis includes submissions to the NRA, IAEA, as well as two reports on the technical issues and problems with the management of contaminated water at the site and discharge plans.

ENDS

Notes: 

See “TEPCO WATER CRISIS”, Greenpeace Germany, January 2019

And, “Stemming the tide 2020: The reality of the Fukushima radioactive water crisis”, Greenpeace East Asia, October 2020 

July 22, 2022 Posted by | Fuk 2022 | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Statement: Protest the Nuclear Regulatory Commission’s Approval of TEPCO’s Plan for the Oceanic Discharge of Contaminated Water from the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant

July 22, 2022
International Environmental NGO FoE Japan
Today, the Nuclear Regulation Authority (NRA) approved an application for modification of the implementation plan for the installation of an offshore discharge facility for treated contaminated water from the TEPCO-Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant. We believe that the following points should be taken into consideration: 1) radioactive materials should be centrally controlled and should not be released into the environment, 2) effective alternatives such as mortar solidification have been proposed, 3) there are strong objections from fishermen and citizens, and 4) there are many problems in the consensus building process as no public hearing or explanation meetings have been held since the decision on the ocean discharge policy. The company has long opposed the discharge of treated contaminated water into the ocean for a number of reasons.

The approval is problematic mainly in the following respects. The Nuclear Regulatory Commission is not fulfilling its role as a regulatory agency.

1. It is unclear what and how much will be released

Currently, approximately 1.26 million m3 (as of March 2022) of treated contaminated water is stored in tanks. In addition to tritium, strontium-90 and iodine-129 remain in this water, and nearly 70% of this water exceeds the sum of the notified concentration ratio of 1 (exceeding the standard). The total amount of these radioactive materials is not indicated. TEPCO has measured 64 radioactive materials (62 nuclides targeted for ALPS removal, tritium, and carbon-14) only for three tank groups, but not for many other tank groups at this stage. TEPCO has stated that the water exceeding the standards will be treated sequentially and measured before being discharged. However, the total amount will not be known until the discharge is completed, which is expected to take more than 30 years.
Also, tritium has been shown to be present in the tanks at 780 trillion becquerels (as of May 2021), but there is still a large amount of tritium in the debris and in the buildings. The total amount of tritium released is unknown because the amount of contaminated water will continue to increase as long as the inflow of groundwater is not stopped.
The review was conducted without providing crucial data on what and how much will be discharged.

2. Verification of radioactive materials other than the 64 nuclides and selection of nuclides to be measured before release were postponed.

TEPCO had identified 64 nuclides (62 nuclides to be removed from the ALPS, tritium, and carbon-14) as those to be monitored, but the Nuclear Regulation Authority had requested an explanation of the basis for the absence of residuals of other nuclides. In the end, however, TEPCO’s explanation remained the same and no new verification was conducted. TEPCO has explained that it will verify this point in the future and, based on this verification, will also indicate the radioactive materials to be measured prior to the release. In other words, the Regulatory Commission has approved the plan before TEPCO has even begun to specify the “verification” that it will conduct and the radioactive materials that will be measured prior to the release of radioactive materials.

The measurements of radionuclides and their concentrations in the three tank groups that TEPCO now indicates as source terms in its radiation impact assessment were not measured after the tanks were agitated. In other words, it should be noted that there is a possibility that they may have failed to capture materials that have settled at the bottom of the tanks.

3. No indication that ocean discharge is “for risk reduction and optimization”

As a result of the review, the Regulatory Commission stated that “future risk reduction and optimization of the specific nuclear facilities as a whole are being pursued.
However, risk reduction and optimization should not be achieved only within the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant site, but should be evaluated including the marine environment.
In addition, other alternatives must be considered in order to demonstrate that “ocean discharge is the way to reduce and optimize the overall risk.
TEPCO has not adequately considered the storage in large, robust tanks and the mortar solidification disposal proposal proposed by the Citizens Commission on Atomic Energy and other groups.
Although TEPCO cites the risk of leakage in the large tank proposal, large tanks have a long track record in oil storage, and sufficient countermeasures have already been established technically, including the installation of dikes to prevent leakage. Rather, the current storage in tanks is vulnerable, and the risk of leakage is high considering the planned offshore release period of more than 30 years. Regarding the mortar solidification disposal proposal, the proposer points out that water evaporates due to the heat of hydration, which can also be addressed.
It is inappropriate to conduct a review based solely on TEPCO’s views without obtaining the opinions of the proponents of these alternative proposals.

4. Priority should be given to drastic water sealing measures

The major source of contaminated water is the inflow of groundwater into the buildings. The frozen soil wall, which was constructed at great expense, has not been able to sufficiently stop the inflow of groundwater and is only a temporary facility. It has also been pointed out that it has not reached the bottom of the geological stratum, which allows water to pass through easily. Geological experts have proposed the construction of a wide-area impervious wall using existing technology, and TEPCO and the government should seriously consider these proposals and give priority to drastic measures to stop the inflow of water.
https://foejapan.org/issue/20220722/8675/?fbclid=IwAR2czi0QX4uA89blKdKWxdQgSJqHQEDNQsRniPBazKVunyR_ECEiEKigzng

July 22, 2022 Posted by | Fuk 2022 | , , , , , | Leave a comment

No to Fukushima discharge

South Korean environmental activists perform during a protest in Seoul against Japan’s plan to discharge Fukushima radioactive water into the sea, as they mark World Oceans Day on June 8, 2022. (Photo by Jung Yeon-je / AFP)

June 13, 2022 Posted by | Fuk 2022 | , , , | Leave a comment

Nuke contaminated water from Fukushima may be out of sight, but should never be out of one’s mind

Demonstrators hold slogans during a protest against the Japanese government’s plan to dump more than 1 million tons of nuclear contaminated water from the stricken Fukushima nuclear plant into the ocean, outside the prime minister’s office in Tokyo on April 13, 2021.

May 30, 2022

In 2011, the “3/11” earthquake in Japan caused the meltdown of the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant reactor core, unleashing enormous amounts of radioactive material. The operator of the plant, Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO), decided to pour in seawater to cool the reactor and contain the leakage. And because the used seawater became highly contaminated with radioactive material, TEPCO had to put it in storage tanks. A decade on, the nuclear contaminated water generated by the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant are about 150 tons per day in 2021, and will reach the upper limit of the storage tank capacity of 1.37 million tons in the spring of 2023.

According to estimates by the Japan Center for Economic Research, it will cost 50-70 trillion yen (about $400-550 billion) to scrap and decontaminate the reactor, the bulk of which goes to the treatment of contaminated water. So in April 2021, the Japanese government announced that the problem of increasing amounts of nuclear contaminated wastewater would be addressed by dumping it into the sea. On May 18, 2022, the Japan Atomic Energy Regulatory Commission granted initial approval for TEPCO’s ocean dumping plan.

After the Fukushima nuclear accident, the Japanese government set up the “Nuclear Damage Compensation and Decommissioning Facilitation Corporation” (NDF), which is an official agency with 50.1 percent of TEPCO’s voting rights, in order to prevent TEPCO from going bankrupt. In other words, TEPCO is now under direct jurisdiction and control of the Japanese government. It is not hard to see that both TEPCO and the Japanese government are the masterminds behind the nuclear contaminated water dumping plan, because for them, this is the most expedient, cost-effective and trouble-saving way. Japan would need to spend only 3.4 billion yen (about $27 million) according to this plan. But the threat to nature, the environment and human life as a result of such reckless actions was probably never on their minds.

Nuclear contaminated water is not nuclear treated water

Monitoring data collected in 2012 showed that the concentration of Cesium in the waters near Fukushima was 100,000 becquerels per cubic meter, which is 100 times higher than what was detected in the Black Sea after the Chernobyl nuclear leak. Ten years later in 2021, 500 becquerels of radioactive elements per kilogram of weight could still be detected in the flat scorpionfish caught by Japanese fishermen off the coast of Fukushima Prefecture, or five times higher than Japan’s own standards. In the 11 years since the nuclear disaster, one or two thyroid cancer cases have been reported for every 60,000 children in Fukushima Prefecture, much higher than the normal rate.

The Japanese government and TEPCO have repeatedly claimed that nuclear contaminated water is “safe” to be dumped into the ocean because it would go through the multi-nuclide removal system (Advanced Liquid Processing System, ALPS). But it is only the radioactive substance called “Tritium” that has reached this standard. And what Japan doesn’t say is that, even after treatment, the water still contains other radioactive substances such as Strontium 90 and Carbon 14 that cause genetic mutation in the ecosystem. Since the release of the ALPS-related report, the Japanese government has not held any briefings or hearings for the public. And in order to justify the dumping plan, the Japanese government contacted citizen and groups to ask them to stop using the words “nuclear contaminated water”, and use “nuclear treated water” instead. Vigorous public relations (PR) efforts have also been carried out to whitewash the plan. In the 2021 budget of the Japanese Reconstruction Agency, PR expenses related to the Fukushima nuclear accident have increased to 2 billion yen (around $16 million), over four times than the previous year figure. The money has been used on professional teams to weaken and remove negative public opinion in Japan and abroad about the nuclear contaminated water through various propaganda programs.

Furthermore, TEPCO’s track records for handling the nuclear accident have been filled with deception and distortion. In 2007, TEPCO admitted that it had tampered with data and concealed potential safety hazards in a total of 199 regular inspections of 13 reactors in its nuclear power plants since 1977, including the cooling system failure in the Fukushima nuclear accident. One week after the 2011 nuclear accident when experts had already made the judgment that the cores of Units 1 to 3 of the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant had melted, the company still refused to announce the truth to the public, and instead chose to use “core damage,” a term that was significantly less alarming. With a past so bad it is hard to make one believe that TEPCO will dump “safe” nuclear contaminated water into the sea.

Waves of opposition at home and abroad

The Japanese government has so far failed to provide sufficient and credible explanations on the legitimacy of the nuclear contaminated water dumping plan, the reliability of nuclear contaminated water data, the effectiveness of the purification devices, and the uncertainty of the environmental impact. To promote the plan under such circumstances has only brought about wide criticism and questions by various communities in Japan and beyond.

Up to 70 percent of the people in Fukushima Prefecture have expressed opposition to the dumping plan. Konno Toshio, former president of Fukushima University, was opposed to advancing the ocean dumping plan without prior understanding at home and abroad, because this plan could affect future generations and must be treated with great caution. The fishery cooperatives and local councils in Miyagi Prefecture, which is adjacent to Fukushima Prefecture, believe that the dumping of nuclear contaminated water into the ocean may affect the safety of local aquatic products and cause significant economic losses to related industries. Already, 180,000 people in Japan have signed the petition to the Japanese government to adopt disposal options other than ocean dumping.

Vladimir Kuznetsov, academician at the Russian Academy of Natural Sciences, said that radioactive substances in the nuclear contaminated water can only be partially filtered, and the treated water still contains extremely dangerous radionuclides, which will pollute marine life and spread to the entire ocean through fish migration. This will gravely harm the global marine environment and cause serious harm to the health of people in the periphery. According to a research model established by GEOMAR Helmholtz Centre for Ocean Research Kiel, half of the Pacific Ocean will be polluted in less than 57 days if nuclear contaminated water is dumped at the speed announced by Japan.

Voices of justice

Japan’s ocean dumping plan of nuclear contaminated water is a serious threat to the marine environment, and it damages marine interests of the neighbors and other littoral countries. It also violates multiple international conventions such as the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, the Convention on Assistance in Nuclear Accidents or Radiation Emergencies, and the Convention on Nuclear Safety as well as principles of the international law. Many countries, including China, have expressed concern over or opposition to it.

The Russian Foreign Ministry issued a statement criticizing the Japanese government for not consulting with or providing any related information to its neighbors when the decision was made, and expressing grave concern over Japan’s dumping of nuclear polluted water into the ocean. The South Korean Foreign Ministry summoned the Japanese ambassador to Seoul to make a serious protest against Japan’s unilateral decision while large crowds gathered in front of the Japanese embassy to protest. The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) has launched an assessment of Japan’s plan.

The spokesperson of the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs has repeatedly pointed out that Japan’s dumping of nuclear contaminated water into the ocean is extremely irresponsible, and demanded that Japan fully consult with neighboring countries, other stakeholders, and relevant international institutions to find a proper way to dispose of the nuclear contaminated water, before which the dumping into the ocean shall not be initiated.

The ocean is a treasure for all mankind and our home for survival. It is essential for sustainable development and our future. To dump nuclear contaminated water from Fukushima into the ocean is a major issue that bears on the environment for human survival and health, it is not just Japan’s internal affairs. Although keenly aware of the grave harm to the global marine environment caused by the dumping of such water into the sea, Japan has attempted to push through the plan without exhausting all other safe methods. Such an opaque and irresponsible approach is unacceptable, let alone trusted by countries in the region and the larger international community.

https://www.globaltimes.cn/page/202205/1266932.shtml

June 5, 2022 Posted by | Fuk 2022 | , , , | Leave a comment

Interview: Opposition mounts to planned release of Fukushima water into Pacific, says British expert

Professor David Copplestone on the left

Xinhua, May 13, 2022

LONDON, May 12 (Xinhua) — A leading British nuclear industry expert has called for a detailed consultation over the Japanese government’s plans to release more than a million tonnes of contaminated water from the wrecked Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station into the Pacific Ocean.

The concerns “should be listened to and should be considered and discussed with those who are raising those concerns,” Professor David Copplestone, a renowned expert in environmental radioactivity at the University of Stirling in the United Kingdom, told Xinhua in an exclusive interview on Tuesday.

In April last year, the government of Japan decided to release about 1.25 million tonnes of waste water into the ocean in 30 years starting in 2023. The contaminated water contains radioactive cesium, strontium, tritium and other radioactive substances.

The move drew the ire of local fishermen. Opposition parties, including the Constitutional Democratic Party (CDP) of Japan, also criticized the plan and demanded its withdrawal.

“There have been impacts on the fishing industry related to the incident back in 2011,” said Copplestone, who has visited Fukushima and has undertaken extensive research worldwide with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).

In his opinion, “there are reputational, social and economic impacts that have occurred primarily because, quite often, people become fearful of consuming fish from these areas that may be contaminated.”

On March 11, 2011, a magnitude 9.0 earthquake struck off the coast of Fukushima Prefecture in Japan. An ensuing tsunami engulfed the Fukushima Daiichi plant, causing core meltdowns in three of the units and leading to the worst nuclear crisis since Chernobyl.

Eleven years after this disaster, the aftermath of the meltdown, along with the large amount of contaminated water, continue to cause headaches to Japan and the rest of the world.

Japan has claimed that the contaminated water could be diluted and discharged, but several local and international green activists have said that the claim repeatedly proved wrong as the purification equipment cannot eliminate radioactive materials completely.

“One of the main concerns here is the presence of tritium, which is a hydrogen element that is radioactive as an isotope. It is very difficult to separate it from the contaminated water,” Copplestone said.

“If we want to dispose of that water, we have to think about ways to first get rid of the radionuclides in that water — if at all this is possible. Unfortunately, it is not possible to remove tritium from that water,” he noted.

According to Copplestone, “this is about holding a really open dialogue to educate people about the consequences of the planned release.”

“It’s really important for the Japanese government to engage in dialogue with those voicing their concerns, and to listen to those concerns,” he said.

http://www.china.org.cn/world/Off_the_Wire/2022-05/13/content_78215480.htm

May 15, 2022 Posted by | Fuk 2022 | , , , | Leave a comment

IAEA sees ‘limited impact’ of water release at Fukushima nuclear plant

Another smooth propaganda article from the spin doctors…..

Radioactive water at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant is being treated through an advanced liquid processing system that removes radionuclides except for tritium.

Apr 30, 2022

An International Atomic Energy Agency team expects only a limited impact on humans following the planned release into the sea of treated radioactive water from Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings Inc.’s crippled nuclear power plant.

Chemical substances in the treated water are “far below the Japanese regulatory limits,” said the first report by the IAEA task force reviewing Japan’s plans to discharge the water from the meltdown-stricken Fukushima No. 1 plant into the Pacific Ocean.

But the team stopped short of reaching a conclusion on the safety of the release. The team plans to continue its assessment and announce a final judgment before Tepco starts releasing the water.

The task force, comprising a group of independent and highly recognized experts with diverse technical backgrounds from various countries, said that Japan’s preparations for the planned discharge are proceeding largely in line with international safety standards. IAEA Director General Rafael Mariano Grossi said that Japan has made “significant progress in its preparations” and the task force is satisfied that Tepco and the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry have identified the appropriate next steps for the water discharge.

The task force visited Japan in February, inspecting the power plant and interviewing Tepco and government officials. In the report, the task force said that its review of the water release plans focuses on eight points including radiological environmental impact assessment, water quality monitoring and involvement of interested parties.

Water that has become contaminated after being pumped in to cool melted reactor fuel at the plant has been accumulating at the complex, also mixing with rainwater and groundwater at the site.

Tepco expects that its storage tanks for treated water will reach full capacity by around summer or autumn 2023.

The water is treated through an advanced liquid processing system that removes radionuclides except for tritium. The water will be released 1 kilometer off the coast of the power plant through an underwater tunnel.

Before the discharge, it will be diluted with seawater below 1/40 of the current regulations, according to the government.

In a statement issued Friday, industry minister Koichi Hagiuda said the government will continue its efforts to “ensure the safety of handling … treated water and to foster understanding both in Japan and abroad.”

China and South Korea have expressed concerns with Japan’s plan to release the treated water.

Local fishermen have been widely opposed to the release out of fear of reputational damage to the region’s seafood, although a recent survey showed that the release’s impact on consumer habits would be minimal.

https://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2022/04/30/national/iaea-fukushima-water-release-safety/

May 1, 2022 Posted by | Fuk 2022 | , , , , | Leave a comment