The International Atomic Energy Association issued its last report on Fukushima on June 2nd and appears to not be keeping their web site up to date any more. This is the last time I’ll be checking with them unless I hear otherwise. The email scandal reported last time continues “Analysts say the scandal reflects panic in Japan’s atomic power industry, long coddled by political, corporate and regulatory interests dubbed the “nuclear village” but now facing growing anti-nuclear sentiment as workers battle to end the Fukushima crisis.? (from Ana’s Feed, below). The magnitude of the tsunami wave that hit the plant (and vicinity) has been re-estimated, and it was quite a bit larger than previously thought. Radiation in sea-living organisms continues to be a concern.
UPDATE: On sundau, Goshi Hosono, the Japanese Government minister in charge of the accident, officially stated that “Step 1” of the recovery process was completed (as scheduled). This involves bringing cooling of the reactors to a stable level, and eliminating the risk of a hydrogen explosion.
The Step 1 plan also required “Prevention of release of contaminated water with high radiation level outside of the site boundary… Actions will be taken against accumulated water to (1) secure several storage places and (2) install facilities to process the contaminated water and reduce the radiation dose, among others.”
These steps seem to have been only partially achieved, so it is a little premature to announce that “Step 1” has been completed. In any event, as of Sunday, July 17th, it is claimed that cooling is totally under control and there is zero possibility of a hydrogen explosion at Fukushima.
Ana’s feed has several items regarding tracking radiation both near Fukushima and around the world.
Questions: Would a newer reactor design have done better? Were poor decisions made when this and other reactors were built? For instance, one of the original options for siting Fukushima was above the level of the tsunami. Siting the plant within range of tsunamis was a conscious decision. Why was it made?
More questions: Are US plants, now being re-evaluated with the sudden realization that nuclear power can be dangerous, in need of safety re-evaluations, upgrades, or decommissioning?
It turns out that while the Fukushima reactors were busy melting down, a depleted uranium storage facility in Chiba caught fire when the adjoining oil refinery blew up. Other industrial facilities including other nuclear power plants are now understood to have suffered important damage that has not been discussed publicly.
The situation with Fukushima’s cattle herd has continued to develop since our last report on July 7th. Initially, 11 cattle were found to have 2,300 becquerels/kilo of radioactive cesium, which exceeds the allowable limit of 500. The beef from that herd of 11 was never sent to market. However, in a separate development reported four days ago, the meat of six cows form Fukushima was distributed widely in Japan, and at least some of it was consumed by unsuspecting patrons. The six cattle were from the same farm as the 11. Eventually, a total of more than 80 cattle were shipped out from farms with high-cesium feed.
Japanese Prime Minister Naoto Kan visited Fukushima on Saturday
Read all about these issues and much, much more in Ana’s Feed:
Continue reading Japan Nuclear Disaster Update 31: Radioactive stuff spreads, questions multiply