Things at Fukushima are about as interesting as they’ve ever been. We want to talk about specific problems at the reactor site, with radioactive material, cooling systems, etc. but first a few words about things happening more broadly, beginning with the largest and work towards the smallest scale. Everything we discuss here is based on the material provided in “Ana’s Feed” below. There, you will find detailed notes from media and other sources since our last posting, and links. (See here for all of our postings on Fukushima.)
Globally, it is interesting and disconcerting that Japan itself is drawing back from further use of nuclear power while remaining very much involved in promoting this source of energy in other countries. In the US and elsewhere, the nuclear industries and institutions in various countries continue to make strong yet inconsistent statements about nuclear power. In the US, the heated discussion that arose from the big-ass reality pimp-slap we know of as Fukushima has caused a certain amount of friction and tension in the fractious relationship among the disparate nuclear-related regulatory agencies. In one tasty but bitter bit of irony, a nuclear power plant had to go to 50% power because the waters in the river used for cooling at that plant were too warm owing, presumably, the global warming that running nuclear power plants would curtail. If they worked as such.
In Japan, the contaminated beef story continues to develop, and problems continue with contaminated compost, fish, rice and tea (see more below regarding contamination). The Japanese Government, accused earlier of trying to control the message regarding Fukushima a bit too earnestly, has both denied those accusations and deleted the public data on radioactive contamination of children.
And now, a few details from on-site or nearby.
Air sampling from inside the Containment Vessel in Reactor 1 showed, enigmatically, that the air inside the vessel is the same (radioactive-wise) as the air at the plant outside the Containment Vessel. This is probably related to the presence of very radioactive material that spilled outside of the vessel during a China Syndrome event associated with Reactor 1 melting down after the earthquake and tsunami. There is radioactive material in the base of the plant or underneath it which is cooking the water in the plant and, probably via steam coming from this water, contaminating the air there.
It is being reported that injection cooling has beeb replaced by circulatory cooling at Reactor 1, and that this is now how cooling is being done at all four reactors. This is being reported as an accomplishment. It is not. Injection cooling in the reactors is what you want; The nasty nuclear stuff is supposed to be inside the reactors, and the cooling water is injected therein. But much, an unknown but not small amount, of nuclear material is present outside of the reactor containment vessels. Much of this appears to be from the reactor cores themselves, from a meltdown followed by a China Syndrome event or something along those lines, but there is also a fair amount of nuclear material scattered about, it would seem, from having been washed out of the spent fuel rod pools, or so we infer. Therefore, the so-called circulatory cooling process is being used, which means running water around the reactor vessels and through the adjoining plant itself rather than the reactor.
Or so it seems. Corrections to that description are welcome.
TEPCO workers spent 40 minutes inside the Reactor 3 reactor building on July 27 in order to sample radiation in preparation for work to switch the water injection point for more efficient cooling of the fuel in the RPV. The radiation in the plant was surprisingly high. Of course, much of the radioactive material from the RPV is probably laying around in the building where it is not supposed to be. High levels of radioactive cesium 134 and 137 have been detected at he water intake of Number 3. This reactor is much hotter than the other reactors at Fukushima, is demanding much more water, and has required some alternate techniques for cooling. One possible explanation for this is that while nuclear material melted through the vessels in reactors 1 and 2, in reactor 3, much of it it melted only through to the containment vessel of Reactor 3, where it remains concentrated and quite hot.
Recent re-assessments of the meltdown at this reactor suggest that the reactor melted down twice. First, fuel from the melting down core dropped to the bottom of the Reactor Pressure Vessel then several days later when cooling was decreased in its effectiveness (around March 21st or so) the fuel reheated and then melted through the Reactor Pressure Vessel where it spilled out into the Containment Vessel. This event seems to have caused a huge spike in radiation readings in the area. This was MOX fuel.
Recycling of cooling water and removal of radioactive waste was disrupted in late July which allowed water to build up, decontamination systems have failed, and there have been a number of pump failures in the system. More recently, new decontamination equipment has been installed but seemingly has not been put into use yet.
There appears to be some radiation in rather unexpected places at the plant, which signifies radioactive material on the loose. It would seem that, according to some readings, the amount of radiation coming from the plant occasionally spikes, which is a bit surprising considering the amount of time that has passed since the accident. In at least one case, it would appear that a mass of highly radioactive material was trapped in a pipe, perhaps on its way away from the plant as cooling waters pumped into the reactor buildings spilled out through every orifice, where it remains today radiating anyone who comes near it.
Meanwhile, over in Reactor Building 4 … TEPCO is testing out a system of cooling the spent fuel storage pool here. This pool holds far more spent fuel than the others on site, and the temperature has remained high since the tsunami and earthquake. Efforts have been underway for some time to shore up the failing structure with concrete and steel pillars. This work is now done.
In summary, cooling is being carried out in makeshift and non-ideal ways, mostly unsucessfully, especially in Reactor 3. The good news that cooling is working better in reactors 1 and 2 is offset by the distinct possibility that this is so because large amounts of radioactive fuel from the cores of these reactors is somewhere outside of the containment vessel, in the basement, in the myriad underground pipes, in the sea, and so on.
Going back to the broader picture now, it is interesting that the amount of radiation spewing out of Fukushima’s troubled plant has been sufficient that when concentrated in sewage sludge it has become a toxic waste too radioactive to be burned or buried using the usual procedures.
And, once again, an admission by the NRC commissioner and an I-Told-You-So moment for us: We now understand that the tsunami threat at this plant was known to be high enough that the plant would not have been built without consideration of the possibility according to US regulatory standards.
And now, without further Ado, Ana’s Feed:
-How Chim Pom, a provocative group of young artists, is challenging the status quo in Japan after the March 11 earthquake and tsunami. Its work, ranging from video pieces to rogue installations in public places, comes at a generation-defining moment as many question Japan’s dependence on nuclear power.
Whistleblowers Say Nuclear Regulatory Commission Watchdog Is Losing Its Bite -ProPublica, July 27
-When he retired after 26 years as an investigator with the Nuclear Regulatory Commission’s Office of the Inspector General, George Mulley thought his final report was one of his best.
-Mulley had spent months looking into why a pipe carrying cooling water at the Byron nuclear plant in Illinois had rusted so badly that it burst. His report cited lapses by a parade of NRC inspectors over six years and systemic weaknesses in the way the NRC monitors corrosion.
-But rather than accept Mulley’s findings, the inspector general’s office rewrote them. The revised report shifted much of the blame to the plant’s owner, Exelon, instead of NRC procedures. And instead of designating it a public report and delivering it to Congress, as is the norm, the office put it off-limits. A reporter obtained it only after filing a Freedom of Information Act request.
Calvert Cliffs nuclear plant security faulted -Baltimore Sun, July 27
-NRC spokesman Neil Sheehan said the agency could not reveal the nature of the problem or discuss why it had conducted a special inspection of the plant from Jan. 26 through July 13. The five-member commission has refused since the 2001 terrorist attacks to release information about security, out of concern it might help people or groups seeking to attack or sabotage a nuclear plant, the agency spokesman said.
-But the finding was deemed of "at least low to moderate significance" and further NRC scrutiny may be warranted, Sheehan said in an email. Constellation Energy Nuclear Group operates the twin-reactor plant on the Chesapeake Bay in Lusby, about 70 miles south of Baltimore.
-Constellation spokesman Dave Fitz noted that the deficiencies found during the inspection were promptly corrected and said that the plant was "in compliance with applicable physical protection and security requirements" before the inspectors left.
-But in a letter to Constellation, the NRC’s reactor safety director, Christopher G. Miller, said the inspectors’ finding suggested a broader failure by plant management to get staff to follow prescribed procedures. He said the agency was not citing the company for a safety violation until it had made a final determination, and he gave Constellation 30 days to challenge the finding, either in a face-to-face conference or in writing.
-This was the second special NRC inspection of Calvert Cliffs in two years. Last year inspectors pored over the facility after rain and melting snow leaked through the roof, dripping onto electrical equipment and causing both reactors to automatically shut down.
Nuclear plant workers developed cancer despite lower radiation exposure than legal limit -Mainichi News, July 27
-Of 10 nuclear power plant workers who have developed cancer and received workers’ compensation in the past, nine had been exposed to less than 100 millisieverts of radiation, it has been learned.
-The revelation comes amid reports that a number of workers battling the crisis at the Fukushima No. 1 Nuclear Power Plant were found to have been exposed to more than the emergency limit of 250 millisieverts, which was raised from the previous limit of 100 millisieverts in March.
-According to Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry statistics, of the 10 nuclear power plant workers, six had leukemia, two multiple myeloma and another two lymphatic malignancy. Only one had been exposed to 129.8 millisieverts but the remaining nine were less than 100 millisieverts, including one who had been exposed to about 5 millisieverts.
-Nobuyuki Shimahashi, a worker at the Hamaoka Nuclear Power Plant, where operations were recently suspended by Chubu Electric Power Co., died of leukemia in 1991 at age 29. His 74-year-old mother Michiko remembers her son dropping from 80 kilograms to 50 kilograms and his gums bleeding.
-Shimahashi was in charge of maintaining and checking measuring instruments inside the nuclear power plant as a subcontract employee. He had 50.63 millisieverts of radiation exposure over a period of eight years and 10 months.
-His radiation exposure monitoring databook, which was returned to his family six months after his death, showed that more than 30 exposure figures and other listings had been corrected in red ink and stamped with personal seals.
-The current guidelines for workers’ compensation due to radiation exposure only certify leukemia among various types of cancer. In these cases compensation is granted only when an applicant is exposed to more than 5 millisieverts of radiation a year and develops leukemia more than one year after being exposed to nuclear radiation. For other types of cancer, the health ministry’s study group decides if applicants are eligible for workers’ compensation.
Humans Enter Reactor 3, Receive 4.61 Millisieverts for 40 Minute Work -EX-SKF, July 28
-11 TEPCO employees entered the Reactor 3 reactor building on July 27 to measure radiation in locations where they would need to work in order to switch the water injection point to the ECCS pipe for more efficient "cooling" of the "fuel in the RPV".
-Looking at the survey map that they did, those locations have particularly high radiation. One particular spot measured 280 millisieverts/hour, and that’s where they hope to use for water injection. (See page 3 of TEPCO handout below.)
Fukushima parents fear for children’s health -AFP, July 28
-Despite assurances by Japanese authorities that radiation levels pose no immediate risk, worried parents living around Fukushima are trying their children to see volunteer doctors at open clinics.
Professor Tatsuhiko Kodama of Tokyo University Tells the Politicians: "What Are You Doing?" -EX-SKF, July 28
-Professor Tatsuhiko Kodama is the head of the Radioisotope Center at the University of Tokyo. On July 27, he appeared as a witness to give testimony to the Committee on Welfare and Labor in Japan’s Lower House in the Diet.
-Remember Professor Kosako, also from the University of Tokyo, who resigned in protest as special advisor to the prime minister over the 20 millisievert/year radiation limit for school children? There are more gutsy researchers at Todai (Tokyo University) – the supreme school for the "establishment" – than I thought. Professor Kodama literally shouted at the politicians in the committee, "What the hell are you doing?"
-He was of course referring to the pathetic response by the national government in dealing with the nuclear crisis, particularly when it comes to protecting children.
-Even if you don’t understand the language, take a look and listen. He sounds sincere, and his voice is literally shaking with anger.
English subtitles: http://ex-skf.blogspot.com/2011/07/video-with-english-caption-professor.html
Kamakura City in Kanagawa Finally Stops Giving Out Compost to Residents -EX-SKF, July 28
-After radioactive cesium was detected from the leaf compost, the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries issued a notice to withhold use and shipment of compost on a voluntary basis. Accordingly on July 27, City of Kamakura stopped the distribution of free compost to the residents.
NRC May Defer Fukushima Safety Action After Ostendorff’s Vote -Bloomberg, July 28
-Nuclear Regulatory Commission member William Ostendorff opposed acting within 90 days on recommendations by an agency task force for a new regulatory framework in response to Japan’s nuclear disaster.
-Acting now to revamp the agency’s approach to rule-making “will distract the NRC from timely and responsive action on” other recommendations “that would enhance safety in the near term and are ripe for execution,” Ostendorff said.
-Ostendorff said in a statement released today that he had “significant reservations” about moving forward too quickly. Gregory Jaczko, the commission’s chairman, called on July 18 for the commission to consider by mid-October which recommendations to consider. Ostendorff’s vote may have established a majority to block Jaczko’s timetable.
U.S. Regulator Says Fukushima Lessons Can Percolate -NYT, July 28
-It’s official: the chairman of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission has been outvoted on his proposal that the panel decide within 90 days on the recommendations it received from its Fukushima task force.
-On Thursday morning, Commissioner William C. Ostendorff became the third of the five commissioners to announce that he had formally voted to go slow.
-The group made a variety of proposals, the most far-reaching of which may have been to overhaul and integrate the commission’s rules into a single, coherent structure melding the piecemeal improvements made over the years.
-For example, after the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, the industry agreed to add hoses, pumps and other temporary equipment that could be used in a pinch, but because this was done quickly, the improvements were not integrated into the commission’s program of inspections and drills.
-And because the equipment was added with terrorism in mind, some of it was put in places where it would be vulnerable to a flood or earthquake. Fukushima made clear, of course, that such equipment could be needed to recover from a natural catastrophe.
-Mr. Ostendorff said it was too soon to do an overhaul.
-Representative Edward J. Markey, Democrat of Massachusetts, a longtime critic of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission and now of its response to Fukushima, said that the commissioners were in effect telling their staff to endlessly study the 90-day staff report before the commissioners consider the recommendations.
-“They have done this country a tremendous disservice in their collective votes to ensure that the N.R.C. will not lead efforts to ensure the safety of the nuclear industry sector in this country,” he said on Thursday.
Nuclear Waste Piles Up As Repository Plan Falters -NPR, July 28
-Diablo Canyon nuclear power plant on California’s central coast has more than 1,300 tons of nuclear waste sitting on its back porch, waiting for pickup. The problem is, there’s no one to pick it up.
-The 103 other reactors in the country are in the same bind — it has now been more than 50 years since the first nuclear plant was switched on in the United States, and the federal government still hasn’t found a permanent home for the nation’s nuclear waste.
-Without a permanent disposal site for used nuclear fuel, the fuel rods are accumulating at reactor sites across the country. Most of these fuel rods are being stored in pools of water. These large water tanks don’t have the same kind of radiation shielding structures that the nuclear reactor cores have, but the used rods in them are less radioactive than new fuel rods. Below, a state-by-state look at how spent nuclear fuel is being kept.
Yucca Mountain commission to recommend that a new site be found for nuclear waste -Washington Post, July 28
-A blue-ribbon commission assigned by President Obama in January 2010 to come up with an alternative to the plan for a nuclear waste repository at Nevada’s Yucca Mountain will recommend that at least one new site be found to store waste left over from the nation’s nuclear power plants, people familiar with the report said Thursday.
-The commission — chaired by former Democratic congressman Lee Hamilton and Brent Scowcroft, national security adviser to President George H.W. Bush — does not suggest where that storage site would be located.
-Their report, to be issued Friday, does urge the creation of a new federal corporation to manage the site, rather than turning it over to the Energy Department, which is responsible for managing nuclear waste. And it recommends guidelines for a selection process — such as giving local communities, but not states, the power to veto a facility.
Oyster Creek nuclear plant pump shuts down, resulting in fish kill -New Jersey Star-Ledger, July 29
-Pumps that cool water as it leaves the Oyster Creek nuclear power plant shut down yesterday evening, causing a rise in water temperature and a fish kill in a canal, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission said today.
-Electricity stopped due to a problem with the Jersey Central Power & Light grid, and the pumps shut down at 8:05 p.m., the a spokesman for the NRC said.
-Oyster Creek, operated by Illinois-based Exelon, has been criticized by environmentalists for years for leaking tritium-tainted water and other issues at the plant.
Chubu Electric: NISA tried to deceive public forum -NHK, July 29
-In a report submitted to the government on Friday, the utility said the Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency requested that it gather participants and have local residents pose prearranged questions at the forum held in Shizuoka Prefecture, central Japan.
-The utility said it refused NISA’s request to arrange the questions, citing difficulties with ensuring compliance. But senior officials of the Hamaoka nuclear power plant sent e-mails to employees and visited affiliate companies in an effort to comply with the request.
-An official of Chubu Electric Power Company said on Friday that his firm issued calls to the public to participate in the forum.
-He said he doesn’t think the act was an outright breach of the law. But he added that it could have led to the misunderstanding that his firm was trying to manipulate public opinion, and he offered apologies.
Chubu Says Japan Regulator Sought to Sway Public on Atomic Power -Bloomberg, July 29
-The Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency — which lists one of its codes of conduct as “neutrality and justice” — asked Chubu to write queries on plutonium-thermal technology at its Hamaoka nuclear plant, so that “not all questions would be from opponents of the program,” Chubu Electric said today in a statement on its website.
-The regulator, known as NISA, also suggested the utility have local residents ask the questions during the meeting, the statement said. Chubu Electric said it declined the request as it would violate its own compliance regulations. NISA said it couldn’t confirm the accuracy of the statement.
-Chubu’s statement is the first to suggest NISA was involved in concealed attempts to influence public opinion on atomic power.
-“This lowers the credibility of NISA, which gives official go-ahead when restarting a nuclear reactor and will make it more difficult to get approvals from local governments on restarts,” Reiji Ogino, an analyst at Mitsubishi UFJ Morgan Stanley in Tokyo, said by phone today.
-Tokyo Electric Power Co. also said today it asked workers and affiliates to attend public discussions on nuclear power between 2007 and 2010.
-The discussions were held in Japan’s Niigata prefecture, site of the utility’s Kashiwazaki Kariwa nuclear plant, according to a faxed statement from Tokyo Electric today.
-Tepco said 27 of 275 managers at its nuclear division said they either asked staff to attend or received requests to attend such discussions. Employees were not asked to express specific opinions at the meetings, according to the statement.
IAEA chief urges TEPCO to ensure information transparency -Kyodo, July 29
-International Atomic Energy Agency Director General Yukiya Amano said Friday he urged Tokyo Electric Power Co. executives in a meeting the same day to ensure information transparency over the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant crisis caused by the March 11 earthquake and tsunami.
-Talking to reporters after the meeting in Tokyo, Amano said he made the request to TEPCO executives including Chairman Tsunehisa Katsumata and President Toshio Nishizawa.
-”Sufficient information failed to reach the IAEA in the initial phase of the accident,” he said. ”We exchanged views on the importance of information.”
Japan denies censorship over nuclear crisis -Nuclear Power Daily, July 29
-Chikako Ogami, a spokeswoman at the energy agency of the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI), told AFP: "Our government will never censor information at all. These are erroneous news reports."
-Ogami said the agency had set aside funds in the nation’s disaster reconstruction budget for a project to monitor "inaccurate" online information that may lead to harmful rumours against residents of Fukushima.
-"But we will never ask Internet providers or web masters to delete such information or pin down the senders," Ogami said. "We will simply explain our thoughts on our own website and our own Twitter account."
-The controversy was triggered when METI’s Agency for Natural Resources and Energy earlier this month opened a call for bids for its so-called Nuclear Power Safety Regulation Publicity Project.
-The bid said the agency needed a contractor "to monitor blogs on nuclear power and radiation issues as well as Twitter accounts around the clock".
-Asatsu DK, a major Japanese advertising company, won the contract for 70 million yen ($897,000) which expires at the end of March 2012.
Two nuke crisis compensation bills set to pass Diet don’t clarify gov’t responsibility -Mainichi News, July 29
-The main point of contention in negotiations between ruling and opposition parties over revisions to the bill on the compensation payment organization was how far it should clarify the national government’s responsibility for the ongoing nuclear crisis.
-The original government-sponsored bill stated that "TEPCO is primarily responsible" for compensation payments. However, at the strong urging of opposition parties, the government revised the bills to state that "the government should bear a certain responsibility because it has promoted the policy of nuclear power generation."
-A Diet resolution accompanying the revised bills calls for a review of the Cabinet’s decision to take every possible measure to ensure TEPCO does not fall into capital deficit.
-This is in response to strong calls from some opposition legislators urging TEPCO be liquidated and that shareholders and other relevant parties equally shoulder the burden of paying compensation to those affected by the nuclear crisis.
-Therefore, the resolution has opened the way to liquidating TEPCO after the details of the compensation payment plan have been worked out, and requiring shareholders and financial institutions to assume some responsibility through capital reductions and debt waivers, respectively. A clause asking shareholders and other parties for "cooperation" has also been incorporated in the revised bills.
Tepco’s cost structure drawing scrutiny by monitoring panel -Japan Times, July 29
-A government panel said Thursday it will thoroughly check Tokyo Electric Power Co.’s cost structure and how it has been reflected in electricity bills to see if its rates are appropriate.
-"Although the time is very limited, we will take out all the things from the basket and review them to check if any wasteful costs are reflected to the current power charge system," said Kazuhiko Shimokobe, a lawyer heading the panel monitoring Tepco’s operations and evaluating its assets.
-Under the current system, power firms can set rates that secure profits, making sure they charge more than their power generation and distribution costs.
Energy policy revised to cut nuclear role -Japan Times, July 29
-"We will create a scenario to review the current energy plan (from scratch) to reduce reliance on nuclear power," Kan said during a government meeting on energy and environmental issues. "I believe we have established the core of the government’s environmental strategy on innovative energy."
-The report stresses the need for national debate and to "actualize an energy strategy that weighs the importance on national interests."
-"The conflicting views between anti- and pronuclear power have blocked discussion and created an unfortunate detachment between public sentiment and the experts’ judgements," the report says. "We must promote a national debate that overcomes the two opposing sides."
-The government also listed a series of measures to deal with the threat of power shortages, including spinning off power distribution from the business of electricity generation, effectively ending the regional monopolies currently enjoyed by the utilities.
Wastewater recycling partially halted at Fukushima -NHK, July 29
-The Tokyo Electric Power Company, or TEPCO, said on Friday that a waste disposal facility where radioactive water is kept before being decontaminated is almost full because of a delay in the decontamination process.
-As a result, TEPCO suspended the transfer of contaminated water to the facility from the plant’s No. 2 and 3 reactor buildings.
-TEPCO says, however, that the radioactive water in the basements is very unlikely to overflow since the system is working, and that the transfer can resume in 2 days.
-TEPCO also reported that one of the system’s pumps in a device for removing radioactive cesium has stopped working, but that the failure has not affected the system’s operating rate.
TEPCO to extract air from troubled reactors -NHK, July 29
-Up to around one billion becquerels of radioactive substances are believed to be released every hour from reactors No.1, 2 and 3. It is not known how accurate this figure is because it was worked out by taking readings of the air on the plant’s premises.
-Tokyo Electric Power Company plans to extract air inside the containment vessels of the reactors through pipes. The extracted air will be analyzed by a device set up on the first floor of the reactor buildings.
-The operation is intended to obtain accurate data on what kind of radioactive substances are being released and in what quantity.
-The air extraction is expected to begin later on Friday for the No.1 reactor and in early August for the No.2 unit. No plans have been decided for the No.3 reactor due to high radiation levels in part of its building.
-TEPCO hopes the findings may also help the company grasp the extent of leakage of nuclear fuels into the containment vessels.
1,500 tons of radioactive sludge cannot be buried -NHK, July 29
-Water treatment facilities in eastern and northeastern Japan have been discovering sludge containing cesium.
-The health ministry says there is 49,250 tons of such sludge in 14 prefectures in eastern and northeastern Japan.
-A total of 1,557 tons in 5 prefectures, including Fukushima and Miyagi, was found to contain 8,000 or more becquerels per kilogram. This sludge is too radioactive to be buried for disposal.
-The most contaminated sludge, with 89,697 becquerels per kilogram, was discovered at a water treatment facility in Koriyama City, Fukushima.
-The ministry says 76 percent of the roughly 50,000 tons of radioactive sludge is being stored at water treatment plants and they have no ways to dispose of most of it.
-It says more than 54,000 tons of additional sludge has not been checked for radioactive materials.
Volunteer Towns Sought for Nuclear Waste Sites, Panel Says -Bloomberg, July 29
-U.S. communities should be encouraged to vie for a federal nuclear-waste site as a way to end a decades-long dilemma over disposing of spent radioactive fuel, a commission established by President Barack Obama said.
-A “consent-based” approach will help cut costs and end delays caused when the federal government picks a site over the objections of local residents, the Blue Ribbon Commission on America’s Nuclear Future said today in a draft report to Energy Secretary Steven Chu.
-“This means encouraging communities to volunteer to be considered to host a new nuclear-waste management facility,” the commission said in an executive summary of its draft report.
-The commission’s report is a “strong step toward finding a workable solution” to storing and disposing of spent fuel, Damien LaVera, an Energy Department spokesman, said in a statement today. The Obama administration is committed to “restarting the American nuclear industry,” he said.
-“This nation’s failure to come to grips with the nuclear waste issue has already proved damaging and costly and it will be more damaging and more costly the longer it continues,” the commission said in the report.
NRC Study Shows the Serious Consequences of a Fukushima- Type Accident in the US -All Things Nuclear, July 29
-UCS has obtained a preliminary analysis by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) of a hypothetical severe accident at a nuclear power plant in Pennsylvania very similar to the one at Fukushima Daiichi. The NRC analysis finds that–even assuming early evacuation of the area–the accident could cause nearly 1,000 cancer deaths among the population within 50 miles of the plant, on average. Under unfavorable weather conditions, that number could be much higher.
-The October 2010 draft report, which UCS obtained under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), contains some of the results of a long-delayed NRC study known as the State of the Art Reactor Consequence Analyses (SOARCA) project. The NRC initiated SOARCA in 2005 to provide “updated and more realistic analyses of severe reactor accidents.”(Links to the report are given at the end of this post.)
-The NRC study assumed that 99.5% of the population within the 10-mile emergency planning zone around Peach Bottom is evacuated within 5 hours and 15 minutes after notification of the accident, and that 50% took potassium iodide tablets. The study also optimistically (and unrealistically) assumed that 20% of the public within 10 to 20 miles away also evacuate within that same time period, even though, as the report admits, “there is no warning or the notification for the public residing in this area, which is not under an evacuation order.”
Japan widens ban on radioactive beef to Miyagi Prefecture -Japan Today, July 29
-After banning sales of cattle from Fukushima Prefecture last week, the government extended the order to neighboring Miyagi Prefecture, where at least six contaminated animals have been identified.
-The new order was announced by Chief Cabinet Secretary Yukio Edano.
-“We will continue gathering information and conducting surveys as thoroughly as ever from a safety standpoint,” the top government spokesman said about the possibility of the ban being further expanded to other areas.
-Contaminated animals have been sold since late March, weeks after the quake-tsunami sparked the nuclear accident, and much of the meat has been eaten in restaurants and school canteens and at family dinner tables nationwide.
-The latest restriction follows bans on produce including green vegetables, milk and dairy products, some river fish, mushrooms and green tea.
-Japan has no centralized system to test for food safety from radiation and has relied on prefectures and municipalities to carry out checks since the March 11 disaster.
Gov’t to allow use of simpler radiation detectors for beef -NHK, July 29
-The government is set to allow inspection of beef for radiation contamination using simpler detectors due to a shortage of equipment and personnel among local governments planning to screen all beef cattle and cattle farms amid a widening food scare, government officials said Friday.
-The Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare plans to permit the use of simpler detectors that clear its standards, the officials said.
-There are only a little more than 100 units across Japan of the regularly used device, called a germanium semiconductor detector, fewer than needed to monitor radioactive materials in beef from all cattle in areas where straw containing radioactive cesium above the government-set limit has been found.
Households in radioactive hotspots recommended for evacuation begin leaving -Mainichi News, July 29
-Four households here were given the keys to public housing on July 28, becoming the first to receive government assistance over an evacuation recommendation issued in late June over radioactive "hotspots."
-On June 30, 113 households in four districts of the city were recommended to evacuate due to the detection of the hotspots. Of the households, 10 had already evacuated, and 39 others, including the four that began leaving on July 28, are expected to finish evacuating by the end of August. Another 28 who have expressed the desire to evacuate but are hoping to move out of the prefecture or into private housing do not yet know where they’ll go.
-A 37-year-old woman who lives in one of the four evacuating households told the Mainichi, "We were thinking of evacuating on our own if the city didn’t find a place for us to go soon, so I’m relieved they did. But it’s small and on the third floor, and though my children will come with me, I’m worried about my husband’s parents and grandmother, who are staying behind in our home."
Radioactive Compost Has Been Sold in 23 Prefectures -EX-SKF, July 29
-It’s attracting far less attention, but the radioactive leaf compost is getting to be like the radioactive beef.
-First, it was 20,000 bags sold in Akita. Then, an unknown number of bags sold in Tottori (link in Japanese). Now it turns out 200,000 bags of the radioactive leaf compost from a retailer based in Gunma Prefecture have been sold at least in 23 prefectures, Tottori included, at the retailer’s 166 outlets throughout Japan.
-Home gardeners in 23 prefectures ended up irradiating their garden soil.
Torrential rain hits Niigata & Fukushima -NHK, July 30
-Torrential rain in Niigata and Fukushima prefectures in northern Japan has caused rivers to overflow, raising the danger of landslides.
-Six people are missing in the region. One man in Fukushima was caught in a mudslide as he was constructing a sandbag barrier to hold off the floods.
-Since Wednesday, rainfall in Fukushima has exceeded 600 millimeters, while Niigata has gotten more than 450 millimeters.
-Authorities have issued an evacuation advisory to 193,000 residents.
Fukushima I Nuke Plant: One Step Forward, One Step Back, and One Enigma -EX-SKF, July 30
-First, a step forward: TEPCO finished the fortification job for the Spent Fuel Pool in Reactor 4 on July 30.
-Next, a step backward: One pump stopped at Kurion’s unit of the contaminated water treatment system, and TEPCO decided to stop the transfer of the contaminated water from Reactors 2 and 3, as the Central Waste Processing Facility (where the water is stored before treatment) is nearing the capacity (20 centimeters from the limit), according also to NHK News Japanese (7/29/2011).
-And then, an enigma: TEPCO conducted the air sampling from inside the Containment Vessel in Reactor 1, expecting the very high density of radioactive materials, but the result, after workers got max 5 millisieverts for the work on July 29, shows the air inside the Containment Vessel is just as clean/dirty as the air outside the Containment Vessel. TEPCO was expecting the air inside the CV to be 1,000 times as contaminated as the air inside the reactor building (but outside the CV).
-Remember TEPCO hasn’t done (or released) the testing of the water in the basement of Reactor 1 reactor building, and that water was gushing in steam which measured 1,000 millisieverts/hour. Something very hot (temperature and radiation) is under that water.
Saga Gov. made comments taken to urge Kyushu Electric into scandal -Kyodo, July 30
Accusations of public opinion manipulation by NISA have damaged trust -Mainichi Perspectives, July 30
-Chubu Electric Power Co. and Shikoku Electric Power Co. have said that in the past, NISA asked them to have insiders attend government-sponsored symposia on a "pluthermal" project and only ask panelists non-damaging questions.
-If NISA, whose role is to examine the structure and equipment of nuclear power plants and ensure their safety, has in fact attempted to lead public opinion, it is a serious problem. To restore the public’s trust, the government must get to the bottom of this scandal and review the role of NISA.
-Leading to these new revelations was the news that Kyushu Electric Power Co. asked insiders and subsidiary companies to send e-mails supporting resumption of halted reactors at its Genkai Nuclear Power Plant in Saga Prefecture to a TV program.
-The Economy, Trade and Industry Ministry took the incident seriously and instructed power suppliers to conduct in-house investigations for any more similar problems, which is how the latest case emerged.
-The most recent incident has further deepened public distrust in the nuclear power industry and the government regulator, who seem to have paid little heed to public opinion.
Nuclear regulator scandal may further delay restart of idled reactors -Mainichi News, July 30
-A third-party panel is set to investigate the NISA’s alleged involvement in the scandal. But according to Chubu Electric, the group head of the company’s nuclear power department received a verbal request in late July 2007 — one month before the symposium — to invite enough people to take part in the symposium to avoid vacant seats and to prepare questions to be raised by "local residents" in order to prevent opponents to the plan from asking all the questions.
-The group head prepared questions both from affirmative and neutral positions, but senior company officials including a board member concluded that the questions were "problematic in terms of compliance (with corporate responsibility)." The utility firm verbally conveyed its decision to refuse to stage the event to NISA in early August 2007. For its part, NISA tacitly accepted the refusal, saying, "As the government, we cannot say anything more." These events were not reported to the company president and other board members.
-Chubu Electric President Akihisa Mizuno told a news conference on July 29, "We have merely reported the facts." He strongly denied that his company has made the revelations in retaliation against the government for stopping the restart of reactors at the Hamaoka Nuclear Power Plant. But senior company officials appear to be deeply frustrated with the government of Prime Minister Naoto Kan since the Hamaoka plant was shut down in May at his request.
-Local residents in Omaezaki, which hosts the Hamaoka Nuclear Power Plant, are losing trust in the government. Omaezaki mayor Shigeo Ishihara said, "I feel disgusted. NISA should straighten up."
Foes in METI tried to nix nuclear fuel cycle -Japan Times, July 30
-In spring 2004, young bureaucrats at the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry urged their boss to halt the government-backed nuclear fuel cycle project, which involves reprocessing spent nuclear fuel to produce plutonium that can be reused to produce electricity.
-"But we’re talking about Â¥19 trillion!" one of the junior ministry officials shouted at the superior. "Do you really think it’s OK to slip that much money into the electricity bill?"
-In what was effectively an attempted coup, the young bureaucrats who were opposed to using such a large amount of taxpayer money for the project tried to stop it at the last minute.
-At the time, the METI officials produced a document titled "A bill of Â¥19 trillion — the nuclear fuel cycle project that cannot be stopped," and distributed it to ministries and around the Nagata-cho political hub.
-The document estimated the cost of building and operating a reprocessing plant at around Â¥19 trillion, and in one scenario as much as Â¥50 trillion. The report also pointed out that there were no immediate, or specific, plans at the time to operate fast-breeder reactors, which use reprocessed plutonium to produce more plutonium. The only such reactor, the prototype Monju in Fukui Prefecture, suffered a sodium leak accident and fire in 1995 that its operator then tried to hide. It has only been in recent months that the push resumed in earnest to restart it — but March 11 put that on hold.
-It also said the project would produce a huge amount of highly toxic radioactive waste.
-"The nation cannot admit that it made a mistake, that its policy is obsolete. And the public will be forced to shoulder the costs," it said.
US to talk nuclear cooperation with Saudi Arabia -Nuclear Power Daily, July 30
-The United States plans talks with Saudi Arabia on civilian nuclear cooperation, people familiar with the plans said, in a step that has already set off fierce criticism on Capitol Hill.
-With the United States hoping to head off an arms race in response to Iran’s nuclear program, officials from President Barack Obama’s administration plan to head to Riyadh in the coming week for nuclear talks, the sources said.
-A congressional aide, who requested anonymity as the trip has not been publicly announced, said the visit would be a "preliminary" step to "discuss the possibility of moving forward on a nuclear cooperation agreement."
-Saudi Arabia signed an agreement with the United States in 2008 during a visit by then president George W. Bush that would give the kingdom access to enriched uranium — meaning, unlike Iran, it would not need to master the nuclear fuel cycle.
New strategy calls for review of electricity monopolies -Asahi, July 30
-The costs of nuclear and renewable power generation are expected to be recalculated as part of a new 40-year plan aimed at reducing Japan’s reliance on nuclear energy.
-A draft energy and environment strategy, adopted by the government’s energy and environment conference on July 29, also calls for a review of the regional monopolies of Japan’s electricity companies and a possible separation of energy transmission from power generation.
-And core energy policies, including Japan’s nuclear fuel recycling program, are also to be revisited.
120,000 tons of ‘radioactive’ waste in storage -Daily Yomiuri, July 30
-At least 120,000 tons of sludge and ash either confirmed or suspected to have been contaminated by radiation from the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant has been put into storage at water treatment and sewage plants in Tokyo and 13 eastern prefectures, it has been learned.
-Municipalities concerned have called on the central government to find locations where the contaminated sludge and ash can be treated or safely disposed of.
-The Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry on Thursday released the results of a survey on dehydrated sludge being stored at water treatment plants in Tokyo and 13 other prefectures, including Miyagi, Yamagata, Fukushima and Shizuoka, as of July 12.
-The municipalities concerned have been unable to find anywhere to dispose of the sludge, or treat it so it can be safely reused.
-Meanwhile, sewage plants in 12 prefectures had about 19,050 tons of dehydrated sludge and about 11,400 tons of ash and other substances. Fukushima Prefecture had the largest amount, with about 9,540 tons.
-Some facilities said their storage spaces would be filled with sludge and ash within a few months.
Tea, flower growers to be compensated -Daily Yomiuri, July 30
-A government panel tasked with drafting a set of provisional guidelines for compensation related to radiation fears stemming from the nuclear crisis at Tokyo Electric Power Co.’s Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant added on Friday tea leaves and fresh flowers to the list of farm produce to be covered by a government-backed compensation plan.
-Among other items that have been added to the list are tourism industry losses due to a decline in the number of foreign visitors to the country. They also include losses suffered by farmers and other food producers because of import restrictions on Japanese food.
-Tea growers in eight prefectures, including Shizuoka, Kanagawa and Saitama, will be eligible to apply for compensation payments, according to the officials.
-Eligible flower growers, who have experienced decreased shipments, will likely be those in Fukushima, Ibraraki and Tochigi prefectures, they said.
-In Fukushima Prefecture, producers of lumber and charcoal will also be covered by the compensation scheme, according to the officials.
Radioactive Beef: Cesium Is Not Evenly Distributed in a Cow -EX-SKF, July 30
-Ooops. Amateur hour at the Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare who thought testing one sample from the meat of one cow would be enough.
-According to Mainichi Shinbun, the Japanese authorities are finding out that the different parts of the same cow have different concentration of radioactive cesium. Not only that, the same part of the meat from the same cow can yield two different test results. That means even the meat that was tested and deemed "safe" (tested below 500 becquerels/kg of radioactive cesium) may not have been safe after all.
-Before they actually started to measure, the prevailing opinion from the radiation experts was that radioactive cesium would get evenly distributed in the muscles throughout the body. Amateur hour at the radiation experts, too. (Now they are changing tunes.)
-So, no one knew, and no one knows what they’re doing. I seem to fondly recall some of the words of Japan’s consumer advocates – "the experts say it’s safe…", or "why should we waste taxpayers’ money testing all cows?", or "if only media did the good job of providing accurate information…" Amateur hours there, too.
-The Ministry of Health and Labor is aware of the differing numbers, but says "From the cases so far, cesium is supposed to accumulate evenly in the muscles. We will just have to find out the appropriate way to deal with the problem by carrying out more tests" (Ministry’s Monitoring and Safety Section). The Ministry is asking the local government to stop the entire shipment of the meat from the cow even if only one part of the meat is found with cesium exceeding the provisional limit.
Hundreds more cattle found shipped after being fed tainted straw -Mainichi News, July 31
-Hundreds of more beef cattle were confirmed Saturday to have been shipped after being fed rice straw contaminated with radioactive cesium, with 290 from Fukushima Prefecture and 103 from Miyagi Prefecture, local officials said.
-Iwate Prefecture separately said cesium above the government-set limit of 500 becquerels per kilogram had been found in the meat of a sixth animal. A meat sample from the animal measured 655 becquerels, and other meat from that animal is believed to have been consumed after it was shipped last month from a local farm to Tokyo.
-The 290 newly suspected cattle were shipped from Fukushima, where the crippled nuclear plant is located, to slaughterhouses in Tokyo, Saitama and Kanagawa prefectures, and Fukushima authorities are asking those prefectures to trace where the meat was later distributed.
-Earlier this month the national government ordered Fukushima Prefecture to stop shipping any more beef cattle to market, and authorities are preparing to slaughter about 700 local cattle by the end of August and to test meat from all for radioactive contamination.
-In Miyagi, which neighbors Fukushima, the local government said that the 103 additional cattle bring the local tally of possibly contaminated cattle to 1,134, and animals were shipped to Tokyo, Iwate, Miyagi, Chiba, Yamagata, Niigata prefectures.
Iwate to join cattle ban; hundreds more suspected tainted -Japan Times, July 31
-The government decided Sunday to issue an order to stop shipment of all beef cattle from Iwate Prefecture after cesium above the government limit of 500 becquerels per kilogram was found in the meat of a sixth animal, government sources said.
-The government order, based on a special law on nuclear power plant-related accidents, is expected to be officially issued on Monday.
Strong earthquake hits Fukushima -NHK, July 31
-An earthquake with an estimated magnitude of 6.5 jolted Fukushima Prefecture, northeastern Japan, on Sunday morning.
-The Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency says there have been no reports of abnormalities at the Fukushima Daiichi and Daini nuclear power plants.
TEPCO to test run cooling system for No.4 reactor -NHK, July 31
-The operator of the damaged Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant is set to test run a system to cool a spent fuel storage pool at the No.4 reactor as early as Sunday.
-The pool holds 1,535 fuel rods, the most for any of the plant’s reactors. A hydrogen blast on March 15th damaged a wall supporting the pool. The temperature of the pool water remained high at 86 to 87 degrees Celsius on Friday.
-Tokyo Electric Power Company began reinforcing the wall with steel pillars and concrete in late May. It also started setting up a cooling device with a heat exchanger in mid-July. This is designed to establish a circulatory cooling system that pumps water out of the pool, cools the water, and returns it to the pool.
-The work on strengthening the wall and setting up a cooling system ended on Saturday. Tokyo Electric Power hopes to test run the cooling system as early as Sunday and start full operation if no problem occurs.
Full operation of cooling device begins -NHK, July 31
-TEPCO conducted a test-run of the cooling device at the Number 4 reactor’s spent fuel pool on Sunday morning. It gradually increased the volume of water flowing into the device before shifting to full operation in the afternoon.
-TEPCO says the water temperature of the pool remained above 86 degrees Celsius in the morning and it was around 82 to 84 degrees as of 5 PM.
-The company plans to lower the water temperature to around 55 degrees within a month to cool the reactor in a stable manner.
-TEPCO is already cooling the water in the spent fuel pools at the Number 2 and 3 reactors. It plans to do the same for the Number 1 reactor soon.
Some 100 lawyers to mediate nuclear disputes -NHK, July 31
-In April, the government formed a panel to work on who is eligible for compensation in a bid to swiftly assist those affected by the accident.
-The panel is holding discussions on creating dispute-settlement centers in Tokyo and Fukushima Prefecture.
-The panel plans to have legal experts, including lawyers, bring about settlements. The Japan Federation of Bar Associations is making a list of about 100 lawyers to be recommended for the work.
-The federation’s secretary general, Yuichi Kaido, says his organization will do its utmost as the dispute-resolution centers are designed to handle the unprecedented size of compensation quickly and fairly.
Anti-nuclear group holds meeting in Fukushima -NHK, July 31
-Gensuikin, or the Japan Congress against Atomic and Hydrogen Bombs, met on Sunday in Fukushima City.
-This is the first time the group has held its annual gathering outside Hiroshima or Nagasaki, the 2 cities that suffered the US atomic bombings in 1945.
-Before the meeting, about 1,700 people gathered in a square. An evacuee from Iitate Village in Fukushima expressed disappointment and anger at the nuclear disaster in Fukushima and appealed for risks to be reduced for the future.
-The participants adopted a declaration calling for the suspension and closure of nuclear plants.
-Another anti-nuclear group, Gensuikyo, plans to discuss ways to stop nuclear power generation at its meeting next month.
-An organization of atomic bomb survivors says it will step up its own opposition to nuclear power.
Japanese Find Radioactivity on Their Own -NYT, July 31
-Kiyoko Okoshi had a simple goal when she spent about $625 for a dosimeter: she missed her daughter and grandsons and wanted them to come home.
-Local officials kept telling her that their remote village was safe, even though it was less than 20 miles from the crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant. But her daughter remained dubious, especially since no one from the government had taken radiation readings near their home.
-So starting in April, Mrs. Okoshi began using her dosimeter to check nearby forest roads and rice paddies. What she found was startling. Near one sewage ditch, the meter beeped wildly, and the screen read 67 microsieverts per hour, a potentially harmful level. Mrs. Okoshi and a cousin who lives nearby worked up the courage to confront elected officials, who did not respond, confirming their worry that the government was not doing its job.
-The corrosion of trust, at first aimed at faceless bureaucrats and lawmakers in distant Tokyo, now includes governors, mayors and city councils as well, a potentially unsettling trend because it pits neighbors against neighbors. That trust may also be hard to restore: under pressure from concerned citizens, bureaucrats in Tokyo have expanded their monitoring, but many people doubt that the government’s standards are safe or that officials are doing a thorough enough job of testing.
Kan criticizes nuke watchdog for manipulation -NHK, July 31
-Kan attended an energy policy forum on Sunday in Chino, north of Tokyo. He referred to the alleged manipulation of opinion on nuclear energy by the Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency.
-Kan likened the agency’s allegation to the scandal of tainted blood products, which he tackled when he was health minister in the mid-1990s.
-In the 1980s, many people, mostly patients with hemophilia, contracted HIV through tainted products because the health ministry allowed drugmakers to sell them even after safer products were developed.
-Kan said the current nuclear administration and system totally lack the ability of responding to nuclear accidents. He put the blame on the realignment of government offices about a decade ago under Prime Minister Ryutaro Hashimoto that created various committees in the Cabinet Office.
Saga Gov. made comments taken to urge Kyushu Electric into scandal -Mainichi News, July 31
-The governor of Saga Prefecture, where Kyushu Electric Power Co.’s Genkai nuclear power plant is located, admitted Saturday that he made comments that seem to have urged the utility to fake public support — during a government-sponsored TV program — for restarting reactors.
-At a hastily arranged press conference, Gov. Yasushi Furukawa said he told the utility’s then-executive vice president during a meeting June 21, "It would be necessary to raise opinions (during a local TV program aired live June 26) supporting the resumption" of the halted reactors.
-"I did not have an intention to instruct (those at the meeting) to fake (opinions.) I made the comments, hoping that people would watch the program, but it was thoughtless," Furukawa said.
Kan criticizes nuclear safety agency, cozy ties to industry -Japan Today, July 31
-Kan said the Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency was siding with the industry rather than acting as a regular. He said it underscored a cozy relationship and the deep-rooted problem that must be corrected in the wake of the March 11 tsunami and the nuclear crisis.
-“NISA, which is supposed to check nuclear safety to represent the interest of the general public, provided support for the promoters. It was more than just a help, if true,” Kan said at an energy symposium.
-Trade Minister Banri Kaieda apologized for NISA’s question planting and promised an independent probe.
Takashi Hirose Who Has Pressed Criminal Charges Against Government, TEPCO: "We remain unaware, we just want to believe everything is OK" -EX-SKF, July 31
-Journalists Takashi Hirose and Shojiro Akashi announced at a press conference on July 15 that they had pressed criminal charges against 32 people including TEPCO management, Minister of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology, and Fukushima’s Radiation Health Risk Advisors including Shunichi Yamashita.
-17 people are charged with "bodily injury through negligence in the conduct of occupation", including Dr. Shunichi Yamashita, Fukushima’s Radiation Health Risk Advisor, Ms. Shizuyo Kusumi, member of Nuclear Safety Commission of Japan and specialist in radiation biology, and Mr. Yoshiaki Takagi, Minister of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology, and some other specialists in radiation.
-15 people are charged with "death through negligence in the conduct of occupation", including Chairman Katsumata and Ex-President Shimizu from TEPCO, and Dr. Haruki Madarame, Nuclear Safety Commission Chief.
-Hirose: As you all know, the [Fukushima nuclear] accident started right after the earthquake hit on March 11. Then on March 20, one Shunichi Yamashita, of Nagasaki University, was installed as the radiation health risk management advisor. Right next day he started the campaign to preach "safety". Then in April, Kenji Kamiya of Hiroshima University and Noboru Takamura of Nagasaki University joined Yamashita as advisors. These three people have repeatedly said "It’s safe up to 100 millisieverts", forcing children to be exposed to radiation. Now they are being criticized by citizens all over the country, but I want to make it clear that what they’ve done is criminal.
N.R.C. Safety Proposals -NYT Letter to the Editor from UCS, July 31
-We second your editorial urging the Nuclear Regulatory Commission to quickly adopt the recommendations of its task force for improving nuclear power safety in the United States (“In the Wake of Fukushima,” July 24).
-But the task force completely missed several common-sense actions that would go a long way to protect the public. For example, reactor owners could substantially decrease the potential hazards of spent fuel by moving it from vulnerable spent fuel pools to hardened dry casks when it is cool enough to do so.
-Likewise, the commission should expand emergency planning zones beyond its arbitrary 10-mile limit to protect all nearby residents who would be at significant risk from a severe accident. The United States government advised Americans within 50 miles of Fukushima to evacuate, a recommendation that was validated by the high levels of radioactivity recorded well beyond 10 miles of the Fukushima plant.
DOE opens large-scale review of uranium mining -Montrose Press, July 31
-The U.S. Department of Energy will conduct a comprehensive analysis of the environmental impacts of uranium mining and milling in southwestern? Colorado after much prodding from environmental groups.
-Until now, the DOE reviewed the mining operations piecemeal rather than addressing the cumulative impacts of increased production in the region, which it made possible in 2008 with the renewal of its leasing program in the Uravan Mineral Belt, awarding or renewing 31 leases for mining-related activities over 25,000 acres between Naturita and Moab, Utah.
EPA announces deal for uranium contamination probe -Canadian Business, August 1
-The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is overseeing an effort to determine the extent of contamination at a former uranium mining site on the Navajo Nation that marked a high priority for assessment.
-The EPA announced Monday that it has reached a deal with Chevron USA Inc. to survey the 31-acre Mariano Lake Mine site near Gallup, N.M., and surrounding homes and water wells. Chevron is to report its findings from radiological survey and soil samples to the EPA early next year and is on the hook for EPA’s oversight costs.
-The Mariano Lake Mine is one of a handful of sites that the EPA and its Navajo Nation counterpart have targeted for investigation or cleanup so far. They’ve been assessing hundreds of abandoned uranium mines to address what has become a legacy of death and disease across the reservation.
-The Skyline Mine near Monument Valley, Utah, is the first mine that EPA itself is cleaning up at a cost of $8 million.
-The agency reached an agreement with United Nuclear Corp, and its parent company, General Electric Co., to clean up the Northeast Church Rock Mine. The price tag ranges from $24 million to $300 million, depending on where the waste ends up, the EPA said.
-The EPA said it expects a report on the Quivira Mine near Church Rock in northwestern New Mexico next month.
-"Those are mines that are highly contaminated, are located nearby people and are important to the Navajo Nation for cleanup," said Clancy Tenley, associate director for tribal programs at the EPA in San Francisco. "These are their highest priorities, as well as ours."
Cesium leveling out at the Fukushima reactor No.3 -NHK, August 1
-Tokyo Electric Power Company, or TEPCO, has been constantly checking the level of radioactive substances at water intakes in the plant and offshore.
-On Saturday, seawater collected near the water intake of the Number 3 reactor recorded 1.3 becquerels of cesium 134 per cubic centimeter, which is 22 times higher than the national legal limit.
-Cesium 137 was 17 times the limit at 1.5 becquerels.
-But the recorded level hasn’t changed since Friday.
Radioactive Fallout in Tokyo in March: Iodine, Cesium, Tellurium, Radioactive Silver -EX-SKF, August 1
-There was the news in early April that radioactive silver was detected in South Korea. There was no way the same nuclide wasn’t falling in Japan if it could fly all the way to Korea, I thought.
-It was not until 2PM on July 29 that the Ministry of Education and Science announced the "reading of environmental radioactivity level by prefecture [Fallout]" for March 2011.
-Radioactive materials that were falling in the Kanto region in March, other than iodine-131, cesium-134 and -137, are:
Sushi industry hurting from radiation scare -Japan Today, August 1
-Not long after the March 11 earthquake in Japan, I heard about sushi panic. But not in Japan.
-It seemed that restaurant goers in places like New York, San Francisco, and Los Angeles were rushing out to eat loads of raw fish before it was too late. Many of those sushi lovers speculated that radiation from the Fukushima nuclear plant would contaminate the sea, the fish and then people.
-That’s not an impossible scenario. But it’s highly unlikely.
-Tsukiji is Japan’s biggest fish market, which also means it’s the world’s biggest. In the same way Japanese buyers show up on remote docks in Maine to score highly desirable North Atlantic bluefin tuna, buyers from around the globe in search for coveted Japanese horse mackerel also shop at Tsukiji.
-Horse mackerel sold in Tsukiji in the morning could be on a plate in a New York sushi bar by night.
-“The ocean is so huge in terms of the amount of water in the ocean,” says David Brenner, director of Columbia University’s Center for Radiological Research in New York, “that any radioactivity in the ocean gets enormously diluted just by the amount of water in the ocean. And so the amount that would reach one through fish is actually very small indeed. It’s more an issue for the local rivers and streams near the Fukushima plant.”
-That radioactive water could contaminate freshwater fish. More significantly, it could also — and has — contaminated crops.
-“Things like broccoli, cauliflower, turnips, mushrooms,” says Brenner, “they’re actually the majority of the foods in Japan that are still slightly radioactive, and again only the ones that are being grown in the northeast of Japan near Fukushima.”
-Still, the idea that fish from the sea might catch radiation like a cold — and pass it on to humans through sushi – is a powerful scenario that’s hard to ignore. And as a result, the sushi business continues to suffer.
Chiba, Tochigi to test locally grown rice for radioactive pollution -Kyodo, August 1
Russia sends 61 products back to Japan over radiation fears -Kyodo, August 1
TEPCO installs new decontamination unit -NHK, August 1
-The new equipment, called SARRY, is made by Japanese manufacturers. It consists of 14 cylindrical tanks. Each tank is about 3.5 meters high and 1.4 meter in diameter.
-The equipment is designed to reduce radioactive substances in water, such as cesium and strontium, to about one millionth of the starting level.
-TEPCO plans to use the new equipment, along with the existing system, for dealing with radioactive substances. After carefully going over pipe connections and conducting a test run, the utility aims to put the new system into operation around early August.
Highly radioactive water flows into another place -NHK, August 1
-Highly radioactive water has been found in the basement of a building at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant near the storage facility for contaminated water.
-Tokyo Electric Power Company said on Monday that it discovered about 700 tons of contaminated water on Saturday in the basement of an on-site building.
-The utility said the water contained 19,000 becquerels of radioactive cesium 134 per cubic centimeter, and 22,000 becquerels of cesium 137 — both very high levels.
No-entry decontamination to start next month -NHK, August 1
-Japan’s minister in charge of the nuclear crisis says full-scale decontamination measures will begin next month for the 20-kilometer evacuation zone around the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant.
-The minister added that radioactive materials must be removed from the zone so that residents can return home by early next year. January will mark the end of the second stage of a plan to achieve a cold shutdown of the damaged nuclear reactors.
Nuclear redress law vague about responsibility for Fukushima crisis -Mainichi News, August 1
-The ruling Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ) has drawn up a plan to revise the existing law on nuclear damage compensation following the outbreak of the crisis at the Fukushima No. 1 Nuclear Power Plant, according to sources with knowledge of the draft bill.
-Unlike the current law, which is vague about the state’s responsibility, the draft bill clarifies the state’s accountability to fully compensate victims of the nuclear disaster.
-The government of Prime Minister Naoto Kan, who is also DPJ president, has rejected the proposal, saying the primary responsibility should rest with plant operator Tokyo Electric Power Co. (TEPCO).
-But both ruling and opposition parties have agreed on revising the 50-year-old law and the next government is expected to use the DPJ draft bill as a basis for future debate on the law’s revision.
-The current law, established in 1961, has loopholes due in part to the long-held myth that a nuclear catastrophe such as the one that befell the Fukushima plant would never happen.
Radiation in Japan: Now It’s Radioactive Manure -EX-SKF, August 2
-The Kyoto prefectural government announced on August 2 that 4,990 becquerels/kg of radioactive cesium was detected from the manure labeled "made in Ibaraki Prefecture"; the level of radiation is more than 10 times the provisional safety limit of 400 becquerels/kg. The manure was sold at "Royal Home Center Mozume Branch" in Muko City in Kyoto. It is the first time radioactive cesium has been detected from the manure made in Ibaraki. According to the Kyoto prefectural government, the manure is sold by a dealer in Tokyo and labeled "Horse Manure" (5 liters), made from horse manure and rice hay. The prefectural government instructed the store to remove the manure from the store premise and to recall the product voluntarily. There’s no information as to how many bags of this manure have already been sold.
-One bright spot in this case of radioactive compost and manure that came to light in late July: It all started with a citizen in Saitama Prefecture who went in to the garden center nearby in June to measure the radiation on the surface of a bag of leaf compost. Power of an individual.
Gov’t to make radioactive material concentration map for farmlands -Kyodo, August 2
Green groups: State to OK blended nuke waste -Salt Lake Tribune, August 2
-State regulators appear poised to sign off on a request from EnergySolutions to allow “down-blended” waste from nuclear reactors to be buried at the company’s Tooele County radioactive landfill, says an environmental group.
-Christopher Thomas, director of the Healthy Environment Alliance of Utah (HEAL), said in a meeting last week with the staff of the Utah Division of Radiation Control he gathered that regulators agree with the company that no further in-depth review of blending is needed on the controversial practice.
-“It circumvents the state’s ban on Class B and C waste, which has been in place for years,” said Thomas.
-He added that one analysis estimated the radioactivity at the EnergySolutions site would increase eight-fold if blended waste is permitted.
Nuclear agency’s meddling revealed again -NHK, August 2
-Another case of questionable conduct by Japan’s nuclear regulator has come to light. A former official of the nuclear safety agency has admitted asking a regional utility to mobilize its people for a government symposium on nuclear power 5 years ago.
-The theme of the symposium was the planned use of mixed uranium-and-plutonium fuel at the utility’s nuclear plant in the prefecture. Back then, the company was waiting for local approval to start this method of power generation.
Vermont finds contaminated fish as nuclear debate rages -Reuters, August 2
-Vermont health regulators said on Tuesday they found a fish containing radioactive material in the Connecticut River near Entergy’s (ETR.N) Vermont Yankee nuclear power plant which could be another setback for Entergy to keep it running.
-The state said it needs to do more testing to determine the source of the Strontium-90, which can cause bone cancer and leukemia.
- Radioactive materials are nothing new for Vermont Yankee. In January 2010, Entergy said it discovered a radioactive tritium leak at the plant. The company stopped that leak in March 2010 but not before the state Senate, which was then led by now Governor Shumlin, voted to block the state from allowing the plant to run beyond March 2012.
-Vermont is the only state in the nation with a say on whether a nuclear plant within its borders can operate. The state gained that right, which Entergy is now challenging in federal court, when it agreed to allow Entergy to buy the plant in 2002.
Vt. to Entergy: Expect to pay $750K in lawsuit -Bloomberg, August 2
-State utility regulators have told Entergy Corp. that they can expect to be billed $750,000 or more for the state’s legal defense costs in a lawsuit filed by the company over its Vermont Yankee nuclear plant, according to documents released Tuesday in response to a public records request.
-But new doubts are circulating about whether the state ever will even try to collect any money.
-The Department of Public Service sent five notices to the plant and its owner, New Orleans-based Entergy, in early June saying it planned to "bill back" to Entergy the state’s costs in hiring legal and technical consultants.
-The state is seeking reimbursement under a new law enacted this year that includes a provision allowing the state to "bill back" Entergy for the state’s costs in defending against the company’s lawsuit, which contends that the state is pre-empted by federal law from forcing Vermont Yankee to close.
-Entergy earlier this year won federal permission to operate Vermont Yankee for 20 years past the expiration of its current license next March 21. The state maintains the nuclear plant also needs a Vermont certificate of public good to continue operating, which it has not granted.
-Entergy spokesman Michael Burns said Tuesday that the company would have no comment about the matter.
Senator to US nuclear regulators: try to get along -Reuters, August 2
- Barbara Boxer told the five appointed members of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission that she expects them to get past their conflicts to make quick decisions on sweeping new regulations for the nation’s 104 nuclear reactors.
-"I want all of you to know we’re going to have you back every 90 days until I know what you’re doing," said Boxer, the California Democrat who chairs the Environment and Public Works Committee, which has oversight of the NRC.
-The Capitol Hill hearing was the latest public exposure of the fractious relationship between the agencies’ four commissioners and its chairman, Gregory Jaczko.
Record high radiation reported at crippled Fukushima nuclear plant -Japan Today, August 2
-Tokyo Electric Power Co (TEPCO) said Monday it had monitored record high radiation at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant crippled by the March 11 quake and tsunami.
-TEPCO said radiation levels reached at least 10 sieverts per hour near the debris left between the number one and number two reactors of the plant at the center of the ongoing nuclear crisis.
-The previous record was three to four sieverts per hour monitored inside the No. 1 reactor on June 3.
Highest levels of radiation since March 11 detected at Fukushima nuclear reactors -Mainichi News, August 2
-The utility firm said it had made the area within a radius of several meters from the trouble spot off-limits and that it was going to shield the area with steel plates and the like. The utility said the radiation doses would not affect restoration work. But if similar doses were found elsewhere on the premises of the nuclear plant, it could affect the efforts to bring the nuclear reactors under control.
-In a related development, TEPCO said on Aug. 2 that there were two more pipes nearby that apparently showed radiation in excess of 10 sieverts. The utility said it had not actually measured the radiation there and it had no plans to do so because there would be no one working there.
2 TEPCO workers died in tsunami after following orders to check nuclear plant damage -Mainichi News, August 2
-The deceased pair, Kazuhiko Kokubo, 24, and Yoshiki Terashima, 21, were ordered by their shift supervisor to check for leaks in the basement of the plant’s No. 4 reactor turbine building when they were hit by the tsunami. At the time a major tsunami warning was in place. It is the first time that details on the background to their deaths have emerged.
-In an accident report released in June, TEPCO said that the safety of workers had been confirmed after the quake, and that workers were aware of the earthquake and tsunami, but the latest finding suggests that not all workers knew about the impending tsunami.
-At the time of the earthquake, the No. 4 reactor was under inspection, and the fuel rods had been removed. TEPCO officials and other sources said that the two workers were in the central control room at the time, inspecting the power operations of the No. 4 reactor and the opening and closing of valves. After the earthquake struck, an alarm went off, indicating that the water level in the cooling tank of the No. 4 reactor turbine building had dropped. The shift manager accordingly ordered the workers to go and check for leaks. Electricity to the building had been cut, so the pair headed to the underground location of the tank pipes with flashlights.
-On March 12, TEPCO announced that two workers were missing. The company later conducted a search in the basement of the turbine building, but high radiation levels in water hampered its efforts. Police found the bodies of the pair on March 30, after the water subsided, and an announcement on the discovery of their bodies was made on April 3.
-In a news conference the same day TEPCO said it was "investigating" why the workers went into the turbine building, not mentioning that they had been ordered to conduct inspections.
-A TEPCO representative admitted that the shift manager had ordered the two workers to conduct inspections. The representative said the workers in the central control room were aware of the major tsunami warning but the company was unable to confirm whether the information had reached the two workers.
Tepco Reports Second Deadly Radiation Reading at Fukushima Nuclear Plant -Bloomberg, August 3
-The utility known as Tepco said yesterday it detected 5 sieverts of radiation per hour in the No. 1 reactor building. On Aug. 1 in another area it recorded radiation of 10 sieverts per hour, enough to kill a person “within a few weeks” after a single exposure, according to the World Nuclear Association.
-Radiation has impeded attempts to replace cooling systems to bring three melted reactors and four damaged spent fuel ponds under control after a tsunami on March 11 crippled the plant. The latest reading was taken on the second floor of the No. 1 reactor building and will stop workers entering the area.
-“It’s probably the first of many more to come,” said Michael Friedlander, who spent 13 years operating nuclear power plants in the U.S., including the Crystal River Station in Florida. “Although I am not surprised, it concerns me greatly; the issue is the worker safety.”
-The utility needs to investigate other areas that may hold high radiation levels in line with the cold-shutdown and clean up, said Murakami at Energy Economics.
-“Tepco workers and its subcontractors who know the Fukushima plant well may be the only ones that can discover such hot spots,” he said. “For people new to the plant it’s deadly.”
DPJ panel urges gov’t to buy up land near Fukushima nuclear plant -Kyodo, August 3
Japan radiation ‘contaminated rice crop’ -AlJazeera video, August 3
-Hundreds of thousands of people were forced to evacuate due to the fear of contamination of water, air and food.
-And rice, Japan’s staple crop, was also not spared. Rice planting has been banned in areas close to Fukushima and tests will be done on the crop before being sold.
-But questions remain over how much is being revealed to the public, as radiation seeps deeper into the food chain.
Sellafield Mox nuclear fuel plant to close -Guardian, August 3
-The Mox nuclear fuel plant at Sellafield was closed on Wednesday , with the loss of around 600 jobs.
-The closure is a consequence of the Fukushima incident in Japan in March, which has closed down much of the nuclear industry there and led to a rethink of nuclear power around the world. But the government said the move had "no implications" for the UK’s plans for new nuclear reactors.
-The west Cumbrian mixed-oxide fuel plant has cost the taxpayer Â£1.4bn since it was commissioned in the early 1990s.
-The plant, operated by the government-owned Nuclear Decommissioning Authority (NDA), was set up to create mixed-oxide fuel for use in nuclear power plants, with its chief customers the Japanese nuclear industry, including the Fukushima complex.
-The plant was built in 1996 and became operational in 2001.
Energy NW nuclear power restart delayed again -TriCity Herald, August 3
-Energy Northwest might not be able to resume generating power at its nuclear plant near Richland until late September, three months later than originally planned.
-Delaying the start of power production from the original estimated date of June 23 through August is expected to cost $40 million, according to the Bonneville Power Administration.
-If power production does not resume through the end of September, the net cost will be more than $60 million.
-Energy Northwest has mandated repeated work stoppages over concerns about industrial safety and risk to the contractor’s workers, Paoli said. They total a combined 20 days without work.
-Problems have included workers not wearing gloves and cutting their hands, he said. In another case, repeated instances of heavy loads — all under 100 pounds — being dropped and leading to a work stoppage.
-Energy Northwest hired an alternate contractor to do some welding because of the pace of the work, Paoli said. The alternate contractor was able to maintain quality standards with three to five times the productivity, he said.
-Babcock and Wilcox officials in Virginia did not respond Tuesday afternoon to a request for comment about the delays.
Court injunction sought against reactor restarts -NHK, August 3
-People living near 7 nuclear reactors in Fukui Prefecture, central Japan, have sought a court injunction against restarting them. The reactors are currently offline for scheduled maintenance.
-Some 170 people, including residents of neighboring Shiga Prefecture, oppose the restart of 7 reactors at 3 nuclear power stations due to safety concerns.
-They filed their petition with the Otsu District court in Shiga Prefecture on Tuesday.
Nuclear energy can be replaced with renewable energy -Mainichi Perspectives, August 3
-In short, there is no choice but to make up for a shortage of electric power as a result of decreasing nuclear power plants with power generated by thermal power stations until the ratio of power generated by renewable energy sources rises significantly.
-However, there are problems involving such efforts including a rise in the costs of generating electric power and an increase in greenhouse gas emissions.
-After the Kyoto Protocol on greenhouse gas emission expires, a new system should be created under which Japan’s exports of devices that help reduce greenhouse emissions to developing countries can be recognized as reductions in Japan’s greenhouse gas emissions. It should not use taxpayers’ money to buy surplus emission credits from other countries in a desperate bid to achieve its numerical target.
-In the medium- and long term, Japan should develop and use more renewable energy. Germany’s policy of seeking to eliminate nuclear power stations is coupled with its strategy of seeking to be a leader in the field of renewable energy. The level of Japan’s environmental protection technology is equal to that of Germany’s. Japan has the potential to become a leader in an environment-friendly energy revolution.
-Above all, reductions in energy consumption are most important. The Institute of Energy Economics, Japan estimates that by replacing all incandescent bulbs in Japan with light-emitting diode (LED) bulbs, electric power equal to that generated by four nuclear reactors can be saved. This is why it is said that "saving energy is creating energy."
Cattle farmers demand compensation from TEPCO -NHK, August 3
-Japanese farmers have staged a protest in front of Tokyo Electric Power Company’s headquarters in Tokyo, demanding compensation over a ban on beef shipments due to fears of radioactive contamination.
-About 350 cattle and rice farmers from across the country took part in the protest on Wednesday against the operator of the stricken Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant.
-The rally was organized by a nationwide group of farmers after the discovery of high levels of radioactive cesium in beef caused a ban on cattle shipments from 4 prefectures, including Fukushima and Miyagi.
-After the demonstration, about 30 farmers handed a letter stating their demands to a TEPCO official.
-The official apologized to the farmers for causing serious trouble, and said the company will compensate them fairly based on surveys conducted by the central government and municipalities.
Fukushima to begin beef cattle buy-up next week -NHK, August 3
-On Tuesday, a producers’ group agreed with the Fukushima prefectural government that it would set up a consultative body as early as next week to process applications. The body will purchase beef cattle from farmers and the prefectural government is to provide subsidies.
-But the producers and the prefecture failed to agree on purchase prices, and will continue discussions.
Shimane Prefecture to test all beef cattle -NHK, August 3
-Shimane Prefecture in western Japan said on Tuesday that it will blanket-test cattle starting as early as next week.
-The local government decided to run tests after radioactive cesium exceeding government safety levels was detected in rice straw used for feed at a farm in the prefecture in late July.
-Although subsequent tests of beef cattle found far lower levels of radioactivity than the government standard, prices of beef from Shimane have plummeted and wholesalers are avoiding all beef cattle from the prefecture.
Hiroshima University to study low-level exposure -NHK, August 3
-The university has set up a committee of about 40 researchers to apply their knowledge to support people affected by the Fukushima nuclear accident. The university has been providing medical care to atomic bomb survivors.
-The committee has 3 main themes: analysis of the impact of low-level radioactive exposure on human genes; medical response to internal exposure and exposure during an emergency; and support for a health survey conducted by Fukushima Prefecture.
-The university says that when cumulative exposure reaches 100 millisieverts, the chances of developing cancer are said to rise by 0.5 percent.
-It also says there is not enough data available anywhere in the world about an exposure to radiation below that level.
Discussions begin on how to scrap Fukushima plant -NHK, August 3
-About 30 people, including members of the Atomic Energy Commission and officials from the plant’s operator, Tokyo Electric Power Company, took part in the panel’s initial meeting on Wednesday.
-Yuichi Hayase, who joined US researchers in studying the accident at Three Mile Island in 1979, briefed the participants on how that plant was brought under control.
-Hayase explained that it took 11 years to extract all the fuel rods, as workers were coping with the world’s first nuclear meltdown. It was also necessary to develop remote-controlled robots and technology to process contaminated wastewater.
-Kyoto University Professor Hajimu Yamana, who heads the panel, said he expects longer preparations for extracting the fuel rods, because the reactor cores at Fukushima are more badly damaged than at Three Mile Island.
Fukushima disaster not "unforeseen"-NRC commissioner -Reuters, August 3
- Emerging evidence shows that a tsunami like the one that overwhelmed the Fukushima Daiichi plant in March could happen once every 1,000 years or less, said George Apostolakis, one of three Democrats on the five-member Nuclear Regulatory Commission.
-That kind of frequency would be unacceptable for U.S. plants not to be prepared for and it showed the plant was not adequately designed to protect against events that were within the realm of probability, Apostolakis said.
-"This focus on the unthinkable is really misplaced. It was not unthinkable at all," Apostolakis said in a speech at the Bipartisan Policy Center.
-He said not enough people have yet acknowledged the issue that the plant should been better secured. "This is the kind of secret that everybody knows but nobody wants to say anything about."
Indian Point May Enlist Giuliani as Defender -NYT, August 3
-This has been a tough year for the long-beleaguered Indian Point nuclear plant. In January, a longtime critic, Andrew M. Cuomo, was sworn in as governor, and proceeded to push for the facility to be shuttered because of its proximity to New York City and its susceptibility to earthquakes and terrorist attacks. Then, in March, a tsunami precipitated a reactor meltdown in Japan, stoking new fears about the safety of nuclear power plants, especially those near population centers.
-The owner of the Indian Point nuclear plant, facing growing political opposition, is in talks with Rudolph W. Giuliani to lead a public relations campaign.
-“We think he’s a great voice for Indian Point,” Mr. Steets said. “He has been very supportive of the plants because he understands they’re safe and secure, and as mayor he knows how important it is to have a reliable source of energy for the city.”
Govt comes up with plan for a new nuclear watchdog -NHK, August 3
-The draft plan calls for detaching regulatory functions of the Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency from the industry ministry, and establishing a new nuclear regulatory body under the Environment Ministry.
-The new body would be in charge of initial responses to nuclear accidents and radiation monitoring as well as control of radioactive substances.
-It would also be responsible for taking measures against nuclear terrorism in coordination with public security authorities.
Nuclear compensation bill enacted -NHK, August 3
-The Upper House of the Diet approved the bill on Wednesday with majority support from both ruling and major opposition parties.
-Under the law, an entity will be established to help the utility pay compensation to people and industries affected by the nuclear disaster.
-Other utility firms that operate nuclear power plants are expected to contribute funds to the new organization. The government will also issue special bonds to inject public funds into the body.
TEPCO paid $900 mil. provisional in compensation -NHK, August 3
-That amount includes about 700 million dollars paid since April to residents who’ve had to evacuate their homes or who’ve been forced to stay indoors. Households have received as much as 13,000 dollars, while individuals have received as much as 3,900 dollars.
-Roughly 105 million dollars have been paid to farmers and fishermen who’ve had shipments banned or who have suffered damage from rumors about radiation contamination of their products. Small and mid-sized businesses have received 87 million dollars.
Government to test rice for radioactivity -NHK, August 3
-The Japanese government says that rice harvested in the coming months will be tested for radioactivity.
-The agriculture ministry announced at a meeting of rice farmers on Wednesday that rice grown in areas with high levels of radioactive cesium in the soil will be tested both before and after harvest.
-The government says 14 prefectures from northeastern through central Japan will be subject to the inspections.
-Tests will also be carried out in areas where more than 1,000 becquerels of radioactive cesium per kilogram in the soil or more than 0.1 microsieverts of atmospheric radiation have been detected.
Evacuation orders to be lifted in late August -NHK, August 4
-The government says it wants to lift evacuation advisories in a few weeks for areas 20 to 30 kilometers from the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant.
-A recovery timetable released on Wednesday proposes lifting the evacuation notice later this month or early next since the situation at the plant has improved.
-The plan covers areas between 20 and 30 kilometers from the plant. Residents there are currently advised to stay indoors and prepare for emergency evacuation.
Japan’s Fukushima catastrophe brings big radiation spikes to B.C. -Vancouver Straight, August 4
-After Japan’s Fukushima catastrophe, Canadian government officials reassured jittery Canadians that the radioactive plume billowing from the destroyed nuclear reactors posed zero health risks in this country.
-In fact, there was reason to worry. Health Canada detected massive amounts of radioactive material from Fukushima in Canadian air in March and April at monitoring stations across the country.
-The level of radioactive iodine spiked above the federal maximum allowed limit in the air at four of the five sites where Health Canada monitors levels of specific radioisotopes.
-Meanwhile, government officials claimed there was nothing to worry about. “The quantities of radioactive materials reaching Canada as a result of the Japanese nuclear incident are very small and do not pose any health risk to Canadians,” Health Canada says on its website. “The very slight increases in radiation across the country have been smaller than the normal day-to-day fluctuations from background radiation.”
-In fact, Health Canada’s own data shows this isn’t true. The iodine-131 level in the air in Sidney peaked at 3.6 millibecquerels per cubic metre on March 20. That’s more than 300 times higher than the background level, which is 0.01 or fewer millibecquerels per cubic metre.
-“There have been massive radiation spikes in Canada because of Fukushima,” said Gordon Edwards, president of the Canadian Coalition for Nuclear Responsibility.
-“The authorities don’t want people to have an understanding of this. The government of Canada tends to pooh-pooh the dangers of nuclear power because it is a promoter of nuclear energy and uranium sales.”
Health Canada “negligent” on Fukushima nuclear-radiation threats, Liberal MP Joyce Murray claims -Vancouver Straight, August 4
-The Vancouver Quadra Liberal MP has criticized Health Canada’s “negligent” job informing Canadians of potential health risks relating to radiation levels following Japan’s Fukushima disaster.
-“I think they have been negligent from the perspective of being clear and transparent with Canadians about this issue, right from the beginning,” Joyce Murray told the Georgia Straight by phone.
-“And during the election, there were people in Vancouver that were concerned because they couldn’t get the straight story from Health Canada’s website. They felt that the monitoring was very inadequate and there was not clear messaging from Health Canada. I think people do deserve to have a straightforward assessment. If there’s little risk, that should be backed up.”
-Murray said: “I think it’s important that the Straight is raising this issue.”
-The two-term MP and one-time provincial MLA said she understands that “Health Canada doesn’t want to create panic where it’s not necessary”, but she said she has a number of concerns.
Panel investigating nuclear crisis questioned Fukushima plant head -Mainichi News, August 4
-A third-party panel investigating the causes of the nuclear crisis at the Fukushima Daiichi power plant questioned plant chief Masao Yoshida two times last month, sources close to the matter said Wednesday.
-Yoshida, 56, explained in detail to the panel how the plant operator, Tokyo Electric Power Co., responded to the nuclear emergency that began in March, including its decisions on venting reactors to lower pressures within the reactor containers and injecting water into reactors to cool the fuel inside, the sources said.
-While also questioning the utility’s other employees who were at the plant when a massive earthquake and tsunami struck it on March 11 and triggered the crisis, the panel plans to compile a midterm report on the causes of the nuclear crisis by the end of this year.
-It intends to put together a final report after the crisis is brought under control.
-The panel headed by Hatamura, honorary professor at the University of Tokyo, will not seek individuals’ criminal responsibility in the crisis.
TEPCO to attach hoses to improve water filter flow -NHK, August 4
-The operator of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant will attach makeshift hoses to its wastewater filtering system to help improve the water flow.
-Tokyo Electric Power Company has been filtering highly contaminated wastewater to remove radioactive material and salt, and then pumping the water back into the reactors as coolant.
-But the filters have been working at about 35 percent below capacity, likely because metal piping connecting the tanks has been narrowed by mud.
-The utility therefore plans to stop the system for nearly 12 hours on Thursday and attach bypass hoses at 2 locations.
TEPCO reports cooling system’s reliability -NHK, August 4
-The operator of the Fukushima power plant says it could restart injecting water into its crippled reactors within 3 hours after mechanical problems or power failure halt the plant’s cooling system.
-The report says TEPCO could restart the system within 30 minutes of a loss of power or the water pumps breaking down by using extra pumps and emergency generators.
-If problems occur simultaneously, TEPCO says it will use fire engines to restart injecting coolant water within 3 hours.
-The report admits that if the circulation of coolant water is suspended for several hours, temperatures in the reactors could climb high enough to cause radioactive releases, or another hydrogen explosion.
Japan town retreats from nuclear project near Fukushima plant -Reuters, August 4
-Japan’s Minamisoma City, about 20 km north of the crisis-hit Fukushima nuclear plant, became the country’s first city since the crisis to pull back from plans to host a future nuclear plant by giving up a windfall from government subsidies, as safety concerns cast doubts over nuclear power’s future.
-Minamisoma has decided not to request infrastructure subsidies offered by the central government to communities that agree to house new nuclear plants, which it has been receiving since 1986 in conjunction with Tohoku Electric Power’s plan to build a plant on the city’s southern border.
-Before the March 11 disaster, Minamisoma had planned to use 52 million yen ($680,000) of the subsidies in its budget for the fiscal year to March 2012. It has received about 500 million yen in nuclear power-related subsidies since 1986/87.
-The subsidies are financed by electricity bills paid by end-users via a scheme in place since the 1970s to promote nuclear power, as Japan sought to reduce its dependence on foreign oil, boost energy security and lower electricity costs.
-"Having confronted this accident, we’ve changed our policy so as to get rid of nuclear power, to ensure the safety and security of our residents," said Hiroyuki Ishikawa, a city official.
-Minamisoma, as a shareholder in Tokyo Electric and Tohoku Electric, voted for proposals to abolish nuclear plants at the utilities’ annual shareholder meetings in June.
NISA scandal widens to two more utilities -Japan Times, August 4
-A former senior official of the Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency acknowledged Wednesday that he asked two more power companies to mobilize their employees for government-sponsored symposiums on nuclear energy, in the latest revelations of alleged attempts to manipulate public opinion.
-The official, who headed the public relations section at NISA, said he made such requests to Kyushu Electric Power Co. ahead of an October 2005 symposium on the Genkai nuclear power plant in Saga Prefecture, and to Tohoku Electric Power Co. over the Onagawa plant in Miyagi Prefecture.
3 top Japanese nuclear officials to be axed amid crisis -Mainichi News, August 4
-Industry minister Banri Kaieda said Thursday he plans to sack three top officials in charge of nuclear power policy to hold them responsible for the handling of the ongoing crisis at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant.
-The three officials are Kazuo Matsunaga, vice minister for economy, trade and industry, Nobuaki Terasaka, head of the Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency, and Tetsuhiro Hosono, head of the Agency for Natural Resources and Energy.
-Political experts said Kan is believed to be supportive of the reshuffle as he too has shown distrust in the ministry over its resistance to reforming the nation’s nuclear power and electricity policies.
Japan’s Industry Minister Kaieda to Step Down After Nuclear Plant Disaster -Bloomberg, August 4
-Japan’s industry minister, Banri Kaieda, said he will resign after replacing three officials in charge of energy policy and outlining a new structure for the ministry following the Fukushima nuclear disaster.
-The new structure will separate the Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency from the Ministry of Economy Trade and Industry, addressing the conflict inherent in the dual roles of promoting and regulating the nuclear industry.
-The new appointments will be made from within the ministry. Kenyu Adachi, 52, director general of the Economic and Industrial Policy Bureau, will replace Matsunaga. Hosono will be replaced by Ichiro Takahara, 54, director general of the Small and Medium Enterprise Agency, while Hiroyuki Fukano, 54, the director general of Commerce and Distribution Policy Group, will be appointed chief of the Nuclear Industrial Safety Agency, or NISA.
Japan’s Change of Energy Chiefs Is Criticized as Mere Reshuffle -Bloomberg, August 4
-Japan’s decision to remove three officials in charge of energy policy isn’t enough to tackle failures that contributed to the Fukushima nuclear disaster, said a former Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry official.
-Cabinet minister Banri Kaieda, who heads the ministry known as METI, said today he’ll dismiss its top bureaucrat and the heads of agencies in charge of nuclear oversight and energy policy, as part of “sweeping” changes.
-“The removal of the officials is cosmetic,” Hiroyuki Kishi, a professor at the Graduate School of Media Design at Keio University and a former METI official, said by phone. “The officials being removed were due to leave the ministry as part of regular reshuffles this summer,” Kishi said.
China to keep restrictions on food imports from Japan -Kyodo, August 4
Inside the Fukushima Evacuation Zone, Part I: Shoji Kobayashi -Max Hodges, August 4
Nuclear refugees finally wed -Japan Times, August 4
-After seeking shelter at 10 different places, a young couple from the no-go zone around the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant finally tied the knot last month, beginning their new life together in Saitama Prefecture.
-Masato Ishida, 23, from the town of Okuma, Fukushima Prefecture, and his new wife Manami, 22, from Namie, had planned to register their marriage March 14.
-Masato Ishida was working for a company that handled air conditioners at the Fukushima plant, but he lost his job after the quake. Worried about the potential risk of radiation to Manami, they decided to leave their hometowns, with Masato looking for a job in various cities.
-They moved from Osaka to Saitama Prefecture in late May, and he eventually found a job with a waterworks company.
-They also now look back at the good things about the quiet life in Fukushima; they find city living stressful. Someday, when the nuclear crisis is contained, they hope to return home.
Alcoholism, suicides rising among farmers hit by nuclear crisis -Japan Today, August 4
-The food safety crisis, which is worsening as a result of the March 11 accident at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, is having a devastating effect on farmers in the region.
-“A growing number of people are killing themselves in Fukushima,” said Toshihide Kameda, 63, who is a rice and vegetable farmer from the Prefecture. He was one of about 300 farmers from the Tohoku region who attended a rally outside the Tokyo headquarters of Tokyo Electric Power Co (TEPCO) on Wednesday.
-“We are suffering from mental agony. We don’t know when we can return home, and we can’t work even though we want to,” he said. Kameda said orders this year were less than 20% of normal levels and gloom was spreading, with alcoholism on the rise among dispirited farmers.
-Farmer Mitsuyo Tarukawa, 61, whose husband committed suicide in the wake of the nuclear accident, said: “Please clean up the contaminated soil. The soil is everything for farmers like us. Without it, we can’t do anything.”
The True Cost of Nuclear Energy -Greenpeace Africa, August 4
-Greenpeace urges the Minister of Energy to reconsider the role of nuclear energy in South Africa and put a moratorium on any new nuclear reactors at least until the safety implications of the Fukushima nuclear disaster in Japan have been fully evaluated. Rather than investing in dangerous energy technologies, our country should opt for clean energy options.
-The True Cost of Nuclear report outlines South Africa’s costly nuclear history, its failure to learn from past mistakes, and how the country could leave dirty and dangerous energy behind by investing in renewables. To achieve a nuclear-free South Africa, whilst still reducing the country’s dependency on coal, the electricity sector needs to be the pioneer of renewable energy utilisation. According to our Advanced Energy [R]evolution, 49% of electricity can be produced from renewable sources by 2030, increasing to 94% by 2050.
-“Nuclear energy is a dangerous distraction from the clean energy development needed to prevent catastrophic climate change. Nuclear power simply delivers too little, too late, and at too high a price for the environment,” said Kumi Naidoo, Executive Director of Greenpeace International.
Sellafield will remain a threat to Ireland -Guardian, August 4
-Sellafield has long been an emotive issue in Ireland. At just 128 miles from Dublin, the plant is within spitting distance of Ireland’s densely populated eastern seaboard. The Irish Sea is now the most radioactively contaminated in the world, while in the wake of 9/11 concerns about a terrorist attack on the plant briefly gripped the Irish popular imagination.
-Unsurprisingly then, yesterday’s announcement that the Mox plant is to cease operation has been welcomed by Irish activists, many of whom have been involved in decades-long campaigns opposing the facility. However, the closure is anything but the end of Sellafield’s nuclear story.
-Sellafield was designed to process 120 tonnes of Mox a year: in reality it produced barely a fraction of that. In the five years since opening in 2006 just five tonnes were made, and as of yesterday the total output over its lifetime stood at a paltry 13 tonnes . The loss of Japanese contracts in the aftermath of Fukushima sounded the plant’s death knell.
-As Irish campaigner Brian Greene, who blogs at Shut Sellafield , noted: "From a business perspective the Mox plant has been a total failure so it’s no great surprise that they are shutting it down. But the legacy is huge. It’ll cost millions to decommission, the land will never be used again."
River temperature forces nuclear plant to 50 percent power -Times Free Press, August 4
-Not even TVA can beat the heat.
-On Wednesday, the utility had to bring a third reactor at Browns Ferry Nuclear Plant down to 50 percent power to avoid environmental sanctions because the water in the Tennessee River — where the plant’s cooling water is discharged — already was at 90 degrees.
-"When the river’s ambient temperature reaches 90 degrees, we can’t add any heat to it," said TVA’s nuclear spokesman Ray Golden.
-Similar problems last summer forced the Tennessee Valley Authority to spent $50 million for replacement power, according to Golden. The extra expense translated to something between 50 cents and $1 on most electric bills several months later, officials have said.
-To avoid similar heat problems this year, TVA in October began construction on a seventh cooling tower at Browns Ferry, which is near Athens, Ala., and officials expected the $80 million super tower to be complete in June or July.
-But weather stormed that plan, too.
Spent fuel from nuclear meltdown decays at SRS -Augusta Chronicle, August 4
-A federal oversight board has new concerns about dangerously corroded spent fuel from the world’s first nuclear core meltdown a half-century ago.
-The material, now stored at Savannah River Site’s L Area, includes stainless-steel-clad fuel from the Sodium Reactor Experiment launched in California in the 1950s to determine whether nuclear power could provide household electricity.
-The sodium-cooled reactor made history in 1957 by powering homes in nearby Moorpark, and two years later, after an accidental coolant blockage, became the first reactor to experience a meltdown.
-It was subsequently repaired before being shut down for good in 1964.
-When the cans were moved to L Area more than a decade ago, three of them had ruptured due to excessive fuel corrosion, causing high cesium-137 contamination inside the sealed, oversized cans, the report said, and uranium fuel in one can was so corroded that it left 36 kilos of oxide sludge at the bottom.
-Because of its condition, the material was earmarked in 2000 for disposal at the site’s H Canyon facility, "but this has yet to occur," the board wrote.
-"The staff is concerned that DOE may continue to store fuel, some with through-clad breaches, indefinitely at L-Basin," the board said. "The current condition of many of these items is unknown since DOE has not inspected them since they were packaged decades ago."
Lethal Levels of Radiation at Fukushima: What Are the Implications? -Fairewinds video, August 4
-TEPCO has discovered locations on the Fukushima plant site with lethal levels of external gamma radiation. Fairewinds takes a close look at how this radiation might have been deposited and how similar radioactive material would have been released offsite.
Analysis: Energy policy chaos threatens Japan’s economy -Reuters, August 4
-Political disarray over Japan’s energy policy will make it tough for Tokyo to avert a total nuclear shutdown next summer and presents a long-term threat to the world’s third-largest economy.
Japan’s largest labor organization questions nuclear energy policy -Poten, August 4
-Japan’s largest labor organization questioned the country’s energy policy Thursday, including the promotion of nuclear power generation in the wake of the crisis at the Fukushima Daiichi plant.
-"The basis of what Japan’s energy policy should be, including nuclear power, is being questioned," Hiroyuki Nagumo, secretary general of the Japanese Trade Union Confederation, told an antinuclear gathering in Hiroshima.
-"The Japanese people’s trust in nuclear power generation has been lost," Nagumo told around 6,500 participants at the event organized jointly by the confederation, the Japan Congress Against A- and H-Bombs, and the National Council for Peace and Against Nuclear Weapons.
Japan likely to decommission aged nuclear reactors after stress tests -Kyodo, August 5
Musk Foundation donates solar PV project to Fukushima -Power Engineering Int’l, August 5
-Through his Musk Foundation, Elon Musk has donated $250,000 to build a solar PV system in Soma City, in the Fukushima prefecture of Japan.
-US company, SolarCity is donating time and resources to manage the project, which will provide renewable electricity to a city facility located on reclaimed industrial land not suitable for agriculture. Musk claims that the PV plant can act as a model for reconstruction of disaster-stricken areas.
-The solar arrays will consist of high-efficiency solar panels manufactured in Japan, and will be installed by local workers. The project will create local construction jobs.
-Hidekiyo Tachiya, mayor of Soma City, said: “We are grateful to Elon Musk and the Musk Foundation for this generous gift. Recovery requires us to build new industries, and our next generation wants them to be supported by new kinds of energy.
-With this project as a beginning, Soma City hopes to become a model for Japan’s energy future.”
Nuclear reactor to shut down for inspection -NHK, August 5
-The No.1 reactor at the Kashiwazaki-Kariwa nuclear power plant will reduce power output starting Friday afternoon and stop it entirely early Saturday morning for a 2-month inspection.
-It is the first reactor run by the Tokyo Electric Power Company, or TEPCO, to undergo an inspection since the nuclear accident at the Fukushima power plant. After the reactor is shut down, only 3 of the Tokyo-based company’s 17 reactors will be in service.
Utilities to be probed for influence peddling -NHK, August 5
-On Friday, Kaieda told reporters that a third-party task force is looking into claims that the Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency intervened in town meetings with the help of local power companies.
-He said the panel will thoroughly investigate allegations that Chubu and Shikoku electric power companies, under the agency’s instructions, lined up participants and requested that they ask prearranged questions in favor of nuclear power.
-He added that Japan’s other major utilities will also be subject to investigations for potentially engaging in similar dubious conduct.
Gov’t to buy up all cesium-contaminated beef -NHK, August 5
-Under the plan, the government will buy about 3,500 head of cattle which are suspected to have been fed rice straw containing cesium in excess of the safety limit. They will be incinerated.
-The government will also expand subsidies to beef cattle farmers.
-Farmers who are unable to ship their cattle due to restrictions will receive 50,000 yen, or about 630 dollars, per head of cattle regardless of the cattle’s age.
-The government is already buying up beef containing unsafe levels of radioactive cesium that reached the market through private organizations. The new measure is in response to calls for more support by farmers.
Public hoarding old rice over fallout fears -Japan Times, August 5
-Consumers are starting to hoard last year’s rice over concerns the next crops may be contaminated with radioactive materials released from the Fukushima No. 1 power plant, retailers said Friday.
-The Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Ministry is working to establish a system for ensuring the safety of rice ahead of the autumn harvest, with plans to inspect the crop in two stages.
-The buying spree indicates deep public distrust in the government’s handling of food safety issues amid the nuclear crisis following a scare over contaminated beef.
State rolls out rice disposal rules -Japan Times, August 5
-A preliminary test should be carried out about a week before harvesting in municipalities where more than 1,000 becquerels of radioactive cesium per kilogram of soil are detected or where radiation doses in the air are higher than normal levels, according to the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries.
-The ministry will require a full-scale test to be implemented per 15 hectares of rice acreage by municipalities where more than 200 becquerels per kg of rice are detected in the preliminary test.
-A municipality where rice tainted with cesium exceeding 500 becquerels per kg is confirmed in the second test will be required to issue a shipment ban and dispose of all rice harvested there, the ministry said.
U.N. leader to visit Fukushima nuclear zone -Japan Today, August 5
-U.N. leader Ban Ki-moon sets out Saturday on a trip to Japan, where he will become one of the most senior foreign leaders to enter the Fukushima nuclear disaster zone.
-The U.N. chief is scheduled to visit an evacuation center and speak with students at a high school in Fukushima City.
-He will also hold meetings with Prime Minister Naoto Kan and Foreign Minister Takeaki Matsumoto on Monday, according to Japanese media.
-Ban has convened a nuclear safety summit for the U.N. General Assembly in New York in September and he is expected to reinforce his calls for tougher international standards while in Japan.
Nuclear regulatory revamp unveiled -Japan Times, August 5
-"Without fundamental restructuring of the regulatory system, we won’t be able to restore people’s trust. From an international perspective, while we have received very warm support, we are also being looked upon harshly," Hosono told an afternoon press conference.
-It was assumed the new agency would exist within the Environment Ministry; however, the proposal also mentions the Cabinet Office as a possibility.
EDITORIAL: Taxes should not be used to bail out TEPCO -Asahi, August 5
-In order to prevent victims of the nuclear disaster from being shortchanged, the government has no choice but to accept ultimate responsibility for the compensation payments.
-Before taxpayer money is used, however, all steps should be taken to hold the stakeholders in TEPCO accountable through bankruptcy proceedings. As well as thorough restructuring of the company, measures like reduction of capital and debt waivers by creditors should also be taken.
-The Cabinet decision to stop the company’s liabilities from exceeding its assets would have been a major obstacle to the drive for such accountability. However, both houses of the Diet passed a supplementary resolution calling for the reconsideration of the decision. The administration of Prime Minister Naoto Kan has indicated its willingness to respect the will of the Diet.
-The new law does not outline specific measures to make TEPCO and its shareholders and creditors pay a price for the nuclear disaster.
-Without close monitoring, the law could be implemented in a manner that gradually paves the way for the unjustifiable use of taxpayer money to finance compensation.
Tepco makes little headway in decontaminating water -Japan Times, August 5
-Tepco’s weekly water report said Wednesday that more than 28,000 tons had been processed since June 28, when the volume reached 121,770 tons.
-As of Tuesday, however, the crippled plant still contained 120,770 tons of contaminated water — 96,920 tons in reactor turbine buildings 1 through 4 and 23,850 tons in storage.
-Even when the efficiency rate went up between July 27 to Aug. 2, "the water from last week’s rain kept flowing into the turbine buildings, so the amount did not really decline (last week)," Tepco spokesman Junichi Matsumoto said.
-The irradiated water is believed to be leaking from reactors 1 to 3 and accumulating in their basements and external trenches.
TEPCO may use ‘shower spray’ on troubled reactor -Asahi, August 5
-The No. 3 reactor is consuming nearly three times the coolant water that the No. 1 and No. 2 reactors are taking to cool down their fuel rods, as a considerable amount is missing the target.
-TEPCO said that the pressure vessels in the No. 1 through No. 3 reactors, where fuel meltdowns have occurred, currently have temperatures at the bottom between about 90 and 120 degrees. In the meantime, the amount of water pumped in daily to maintain the temperatures at these levels is about 216 tons for the No. 3 reactor, as opposed to 84 tons for the No. 2 reactor, which is about the same size and contains roughly the same number of fuel rods, and 91 tons for the No. 1 reactor, which is smaller.
-The question is, why is this discrepancy occurring?
-TEPCO said that in all three reactors, coolant water is being injected from outside the shroud, a major component covering the core.
-Analysis conducted so far has hinted at the possibility that, unlike in the No. 1 and No. 2 reactors, part of the melted fuel in the No. 3 reactor did not fall through to the bottom of the pressure vessel but has stayed on the grid-like core support plate. The current injection method cannot pump water into there, resulting in inefficient cooling and increasing the amount of radioactive water.
-The new water injection method under consideration is based on the use of an emergency cooling system called a "core spray." It can pour water down like a shower above the fuel rods, resulting in more efficient cooling and the use of less coolant water, TEPCO said.
Governor Criticized for Fish Comments -WAMC, August 5
-Vermont’s radiological health chief says the level of Strontium-90 found in the edible part of the fish are consistent with background levels caused by nuclear bomb testing decades ago and the 1986 Chernobyl accident. But an Associated Press review of NRC records found that Vermont Yankee reported releasing strontium-90 into the environment several times since Entergy bought the reactor in 2002. So there’s no way to ascertain exactly where the Strontium-90 in the fish came from. Vermont Governor Peter Schumlin reiterated to WAMC what he said in his weekly press conference: he won’t fish in the Connecticut River near the Vermont Yankee Plant.
Fletcher Backer and Pot Foe Faces Uranium Cleanup Woes -San Diego Reader, August 5
-The cleanup of an old uranium processing mill in Colorado owned by La Jolla-based defense contractor General Atomics has hit yet another snag, with managers of the plant requesting that regulators allow them to stop testing a leaking radioactive waste pond for acidity because the work is too dangerous.
-"A makeshift row of wooden pallets leading into the viscous impoundment has sunk into muck, and ‘it is now unsafe to measure the pH of the pool,’ " said a July 25 letter to the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, reported yesterday by the Denver Post.
-Neighboring residents have sued in federal court, alleging that the dismantling is being done without adequate planning and that regulators have failed to halt a plume of contaminants emanating from the mill site, which operated from 1958 to 1978, processing uranium for weapons and electric power plants.
-Much of the cleanup is being paid for with federal funds.
-Two years ago, after General Atomics, run by San Diego’s Linden and Neal Blue, bought Cotter, company officials told state regulators they planned to reopen the mill as early as 2014 to process as much as 500,000 tons of uranium each year, to be shipped by rail from a mine in New Mexico.
Climate change, nuclear power risks linked -Sun Sentinel, August 5
-There’s no escaping the facts: Weather is becoming more extreme, more costly, and more deadly.
-But surely our nuclear reactors are safe. We protect them from severe weather. It can’t happen here.
-Not according to a recent AP investigation, which found example after example of regulators loosening regulations instead of enforcing them. Inside our power plants are brittle vessels, leaky valves, cracked tubing, and corroded piping — and they’re increasing.
-Another AP investigation found that three out of every four nuclear sites have leaked radioactive tritium, sometimes into the groundwater. The government responded that they’re not sure how to detect or stop the leaks.
-In the coming months, you’re going to hear presidential candidates talk about climate change. You probably won’t hear them say much about nuclear safety. But the two are inextricably linked. A warmer climate leads to more severe storms, which increases the chances of a Japan-style nuclear meltdown.
Musicians United for Safe Energy Launch Mega-Concert in San Francisco This Sunday -HuffPost, August 5
-My guest today is Harvey Wasserman, author of Solartopia! Our Green Powered Earth and long-time anti-nuclear activist. Welcome back to OpEdNews, Harvey. You’ve been at this for a long, long time. What’s new in the No Nukes movement? Please catch us up.
This weekend, we're reviving Musicians United for Safe Energy which staged the historic five-day concerts in Madison Square Garden in 1979. There was also a huge rally with 200,000 people at Battery Park City. This came in the wake of Three Mile Island and had a huge impact over the coming years. On Sunday, Bonnie Raitt, Jackson Browne, CSN, the Doobie Brothers, John Hall, Sweet Honey in the Rock and many other great artists will do MUSE2 at the Shoreline Amphitheatre south of San Francisco. We are trying to finally bury the nuke industry by stopping the loan guarantees they need to build new reactors. We are also focussed on shutting existing nuke, especially Vermont Yankee, Indian Point (NY) and the four in California that are on earthquake faults in tsunami zones.
-Back up a sec, Harvey. We have nuclear power plants on earthquake fault lines? That are also in tsunami zones? Are we insane?
City resorts to secret dumping to deal with piles of radioactive dirt -Asahi, August 5
-Deep in the mountains, a 4-ton dump truck unloads burlap bags that land with a thud in a hole shaped like a swimming pool 25 meters long and more than 2 meters deep.
-Another dump truck soon arrives, also filled with burlap bags.
-The two male workers in the first truck wash off the tires and then rumble off.
-The Fukushima city government has not made this place known to the public, even to residents living near the area. That’s because it is the dumping site for huge amounts of radioactive sludge and dirt collected by city residents cleaning up and decontaminating their neighborhoods.
-"(If we did make the site public), garbage from other residents might come flooding in," a Fukushima city official said, emphasizing that the disposal site is only "temporary."
-The Asahi Shimbun was not the only witness to this secret dumping operation. A 74-year-old man who lives near the site with six family members, including his two grandchildren, said he has seen many dump trucks coming and going.
-"I am strongly opposed to them bringing such a large amount of radioactivity-contaminated dirt here," he said. "Even if authorities say it is a ‘temporary’ dumpsite, can they tell what they will do next?"
-The answer, for now, is "no."
Underground electric cable damaged during survey at Fukushima plant -Kyodo, August 5
Japan PM Naoto Kan brings his nuclear-free vision to Hiroshima -Reuters, August 5
-Japan has a self-imposed ban against nuclear arms, part of its pacifist post-war constitution.
-But even many anti-nuclear groups have been careful not to draw parallels between what happened in Hiroshima and Nagasaki and dangers posed by the peacetime use of nuclear reactors.
-Prior to the Fukushima crisis, nuclear energy accounted for nearly a third of Japan’s energy supply. Hiroshima, an industrial city of 1.2 million, had also for decades relied on utility firm Chugoku Electric’s Shimane nuclear power plant, 600 km (370 miles) west of Tokyo, for some of its electricity.
-But since the March 11 quake and tsunami triggered radiation leaks at Tokyo Electric Power Co’s Fukushima plant 240 km (150 miles) northeast of Tokyo, public sentiment has shifted.
-"We hadn’t thought so deeply about it until now. But I think it (nuclear plant) is not so different from the atomic bomb," said Michiko Kato, a 73-year-old survivor who lost her sister to the bomb.
-"There is nothing made by human beings that is perfect… I don’t want to use anything like this."
-About a thousand protesters marched after the ceremony, holding banners saying "No more Fukushima, no more Hiroshima."
Kan: No-nuclear generation society a gov’t policy -NHK, August 5
-Japan’s Prime Minister Naoto Kan says he will promote the idea of a society without reliance on nuclear power generation, not as a personal assertion but as a government policy.
-He said Japan will do its best to bring about nuclear abolition and aim to create a world without nuclear weapons where no nuclear deterrent is necessary.
-He said the country will maintain the 3 non-nuclear principles, which are core policies known domestically and internationally, adding that he believes it is important to clearly express Japan’s commitment to the principles to the world.
Hiroshima memorial: PM Naoto Kan makes nuclear pledge -BBC, August 6
-About 30% of Japan’s electricity was nuclear generated before the Fukushima crisis, and the country had previously targeted raising that figure to 53% by 2030.
-But Mr Kan said: "I will reduce Japan’s reliance on nuclear power, aiming at creating a society that will not rely on atomic power generation."
-The prime minister spoke after laying a wreath of yellow flowers at Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park, where doves were released as a symbol of peace.
From Hiroshima to Fukushima -Wall Street Journal, August 6
-Saturday marks the 66th anniversary of the first dropping of the nuclear bomb on Hiroshima–and the first one since the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear accident.
-Anti-nuclear power activists will use the annual Peace Ceremony in Hiroshima to try and draw parallels between the two. “Once there is radiation, they (nuclear weapons and power plants) are the same,” said Naruaki Kuno, spokesman of the Hiroshima-area group, “People Who Want to Live Without Nuclear Power Plants.” The group hopes to gather 1,000 people to protest at the headquarters of the regional utility, Chugoku Electric Power Co., after the Peace Ceremony. Chugoku Electric currently has two working nuclear reactors, one under construction, and plans to build two more after that.
-Local officials aren’t ready to go as far as the protesters.
-Taking advantage of Japanese grammar that permits vague phraseology, Mr. Matsui [Mayor] intends to use a line once used by the late Ichiro Moritaki, the former head of The Japan Congress Against A- and H-Bombs (Gensuikin). The quote is: “humankind and nuclear (kaku) cannot coexist.”
-In post-war Japan, the word “kaku,” or “nuclear,” has generally referred to nuclear weapons. But a representative of the late Mr. Moritaki’s group, who declined to be named, says there is disagreement among the public on whether the term, particularly in Mr. Moritaki’s quote, also references nuclear energy.
Govt may allow brief home visits to evacuees -NHK, August 6
-In response to the nuclear accident in March, the government set up a 20-kilometer no-entry zone around the plant. Later, it allowed brief visits by residents whose homes are located within 3 to 20 kilometers of the plant.
-But visits to homes within 3 kilometers of the plant have been banned.
-The government says it is now making arrangements for those residents to return temporarily because the plant’s reactors are being cooled in a stable manner, and radiation levels are declining.
Leakage causes operators to shut down Nine Mile 2 nuclear plant -Syracuse Post-Standard, August 6
-The Nine Mile Point 2 nuclear station was shut down this morning after higher than normal leakage was detected in its drywell, the plant’s operator said.
-Constellation Energy Nuclear Group officials declared an “unusual event,” the lowest-level emergency, at 3:22 a.m. and began a controlled shutdown, Constellation officials said in a prepared statement. The leakage rate decreased as the reactor power declined, allowing plant officials to call off the unusual event at 11:27 a.m.
-Employees this afternoon continued to seek the cause of the leak. The plant will remain shut down so repairs can be made, Constellation officials said.
-The incident posed no risk to the public or plant employees, officials said.
Iran announces plan for new nuclear reactors -Poten, August 6
-"Iran plans to build four to five new reactors with a capacity of 10-20 megawatts in different provinces within the next few years to produce radio-medicine and perform research," the report said, citing comments by Fereydoun Abbasi, head of Iran`s nuclear energy agency.
-The US, the European Union and the UN last year imposed a fresh round of sanctions on Iran because of worries that it is developing a nuclear arsenal.
-Iran says its nuclear programme was peaceful.
-Abbasi also said Iran will build a new uranium enrichment site.
Oklahoma City First Rain Since Drought Started -youtube, August 6
-Rain stopped long enough to go outside and see what came down in the rain. Got rain sample from top of plastic trash bin. Started raining again toward the end of the video. I had to stop and get out of it. You can come to your own conclusion of what is going on in this video.
Hutton fears nuclear industry has lost confidence of the public -Independent, August 6
-Britain’s nuclear operators face the gravest challenge for years to persuade the public that new power plants will be safe in the wake of the Fukushima disaster, the new head of the industry admitted yesterday.
-Lord Hutton, chairman of the Nuclear Industry Association, said the Fukushima disaster had "changed the game" for atomic energy and called for a new approach around the safety of nuclear generation.
-"We really do have to understand precisely what happened and mitigate as much of that risk as possible in the UK context. We have got a heavy obligation to be open and transparent with the public about the safety case for nuclear in the UK. This is the absolute precondition for progress."
-He said it was important for British industry to be at the forefront of the technology and backed plans for a new MOX fuel plant at Sellafield. He said he wanted to see a full spectrum capability in UK nuclear on both the fuel cycle and the power-generation side.
-"People often just think about nuclear in terms of power generation, I think the fuel including reprocessing is a very important aspect and I want Britain to be part of that," he said.
-"Nuclear is going to happen around the world – lets not be in any doubt about that. And Britain’s expertise on the fuel cycle should be and I hope will be part of that… and I hope we’ll be at the forefront on nuclear technology."
Decontamination system stops at Fukushima Daiichi -NHK, August 7
-Shortly after 7 AM on Sunday, some of the pumps in a US decontamination device stopped and could not be restarted. The equipment is used to remove radioactive cesium.
-About an hour later, a pump in a French device also stopped working.
-A back-up pump also failed to work, bringing the whole decontamination system to a halt. TEPCO says it is continuing to inject cooling water into reactors by using treated water.
UN chief arrives in Fukushima -NHK, August 7
-He will deliver messages of solidarity from the international community to the survivors on Monday.
-He will also meet Fukushima Governor Yuhei Sato to hear his account of the impact of the accident at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power station.
-Ban plans to give 2 speeches in the prefecture to announce that the United Nations will take measures to improve safety management for nuclear plants.
-He will travel to Tokyo later on Monday for talks with Prime Minister Naoto Kan. The 2 are expected to exchange views on nuclear power generation.
How I spent my Sunday in Fukushima -Safecast, August 7
-This morning Pieter, Xeni and I (pictured above) set out with Miles, along with father/son superteam Joe and Bryan Moross. The plan was to drop off a few Geiger counters with volunteers and try to cover some some new ground, perhaps near the exclusion zone. But it ended up being so much more.
-At the final stop we uploaded the log files from the bGeigie – the geiger counter we had mounted outside of the car all day logging radiation and mapping it against GPS points. This produces a map of the whole drive, and dumps the data into our full database, filling in a few more pieces of the big picture.
-And it really is a big picture. These places have never had the kinds of detailed measurements we’re taking, and the measurements that have happened haven’t been shared openly with the residents – who without question are the ones who need to have that info the most. I’ve known this since we started the project but seeing it first hand today and hearing people thank us for trying and for caring was heavy. This project is important and I’m so honored to be a part of it, and so glad to have others involved who have done the impossible to get us this far already.
Fukushima evacuees briefly return home -NHK, August 7
-One district in Kawamata Town is designated as an evacuation zone due to exposure to radiation from the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant. Almost all the residents of the district have left their homes.
-The zone is off-limits, but the town allowed the evacuees to return to the area for 4 hours on Sunday to weed their homes and graves ahead of the Bon festival, when people pay visits to their ancestors’ graves.
-Some evacuees left flowers on the graves because they do not know if they can come again during the holidays.
-Yoshiichi Miura, who is 65, says it’s sad to see the district deserted and his ancestors would never have dreamed about such a situation.
-He adds that he will continue to take care of the grave, even though he cannot return as often as he would like to.
Nuclear Power Criticized On Hiroshima Anniversary -NPR, August 7
-Prime Minister Naoto Kan remembered the dead from long ago, then he spoke of Japan’s most recent atomic tragedy.
-"I deeply regret believing in the security myth of nuclear power and will carry out a thorough verification on the cause of this incident," he said.
-The "security myth" was the Japanese government’s pledge that it could control the atom. Officials said the same forces that leveled Hiroshima could be harnessed to power this resource-poor nation. Most Japanese believed it for years.
-After Saturday’s ceremony, anti-nuclear activists took their cause to the streets of Hiroshima. They drew a direct line between the two atomic events separated by more than six decades.
-One group of activists peeled off and headed to the Chugoku Electric Power Co. The company has been trying to build a plant 50 miles from Hiroshima for the past three decades. Local resident have been fighting the whole time. Saturday, they shook their fists at the granite walls of the company’s headquarters.
Archives reveal U.S. considered nuke plant in Hiroshima in ’53 -Asahi, August 7
-The United States considered building a nuclear power plant in Hiroshima in 1953, but President Dwight D. Eisenhower dismissed the idea, saying it would amount to indicating Washington’s "sense of guilt" over the atomic bombing of the city in 1945.
-U.S. archives obtained by The Asahi Shimbun showed that the idea for building a nuclear plant in Hiroshima was being considered by the U.S. government even before a spell of similar proposals were made in Congress after the 1954 Bikini Atoll hydrogen bomb test.
-The proposals in 1954 and later were made to assuage anti-U.S. and anti-nuclear sentiment among Japanese after the bomb test, which was more powerful than predicted, exposing 23 crew members of the Japanese fishing boat Daigo Fukuryu Maru to nuclear fallout.
-A letter sent to the White House from the State Department, dated May 7, 1955, said that a project to build a nuclear plant in Hiroshima as a gift "would be interpreted in some quarters as an admission of the United States guilt which would prejudice United States policy objectives in Japan."
Getting rid of a German nuclear plant, one rivet at a time -Yahoo, August 7
-n Germany, where all nuclear power reactors are to close by 2022, clean-up work at one such plant still continues after 15 years, a sign of how long a real end to the atomic age here will take.
-The Lubmin plant on the Baltic coast was home to five of East Germany’s six nuclear reactors and supplied 10 percent of the communist country’s electricity when it was taken off the grid in 1990 following German reunification.
-The site was mothballed for a few years before work began on dismantling it in 1995.
-Decontamination work has been going on ever since at a cost to date of 4.1 billion euros ($5.8 billion), a sum which does not include the actual demolition of the buildings.
-"You can’t undo a single rivet without having to fill out a document in triplicate," says Philipp.
-"Everything is done to remind us that we are dealing with dangerous material," adds Kopp.
-In addition to radioactivity checks, workers must go through metal detectors and their work site is surrounded by cameras and protected by guards with dogs.
-Contaminated material from the plant is held in dozen of containers and barrels, awaiting a final government decision on a site for long-term storage.
What happened at Fukushima? -Asia-Pacific Journal, August 8
-Throughout the months of lies and misinformation, one story has stuck: “The earthquake knocked out the plant’s electric power, halting cooling to its six reactors. The tsunami – a unique, one-off event – then washed out the plant’s back-up generators, shutting down all cooling and starting the chain of events that would cause the world’s first triple meltdown. That line has now become gospel at TEPCO. “We had no idea that a tsunami was coming,” said Murata Yasuki, head of public relations for the now ruined facility. “It came completely out of the blue” (nemimi ni mizu datta). Safety checks have since focused heavily on future damage from tsunamis.
-But what if recirculation pipes and cooling pipes burst, snapped, leaked, and broke completely after the earthquake — before the tidal wave reached the facilities and before the electricity went out? This would surprise few people familiar with the nearly 40-year-old reactor one, the grandfather of the nuclear reactors still operating in Japan.
-In September 2002, TEPCO admitted covering up data about cracks in critical circulation pipes in addition to previously revealed falsifications. In their analysis of the cover-up, The Citizen’s Nuclear Information Center writes:
-“The records that were covered up had to do with cracks in parts of the reactor known as recirculation pipes. These pipes are there to siphon off heat from the reactor. If these pipes were to fracture, it would result in a serious accident in which coolant leaks out. From the perspective of safety, these are highly important pieces of equipment. Cracks were found in the Fukushima Daiichi Power Plant, reactor one, reactor two, reactor three, reactor four, reactor five.”
-The cracks in the pipes were not due to earthquake damage; they came from the simple wear and tear of long-term usage. On March 2nd, 2011 nine days before the meltdown, the Nuclear Industrial Safety Agency (NISA) warned TEPCO of its failure to inspect critical pieces of plant equipment, including the recirculation pumps. TEPCO was ordered to make the inspections, perform repairs if needed and report to NISA on June 2nd. It does not appear that the report has been filed as of this time.
-The authors have spoken to several workers at the plant. Each recites the same story: Serious damage to piping and at least one of the reactors before the tsunami hit. All have requested anonymity because they are still working at or connected with the stricken plant. Worker A, a 27-year-old maintenance engineer who was at the Fukushima complex on March 11, recalls hissing, leaking pipes.
-“I personally saw pipes that had come apart and I assume that there were many more that had been broken throughout the plant. There’s no doubt that the earthquake did a lot of damage inside the plant. There were definitely leaking pipes, but we don’t know which pipes – that has to be investigated. I also saw that part of the wall of the turbine building for reactor one had come away. That crack might have affected the reactor.”
-The suspicion that the quake caused severe damage to the reactors is strengthened by reports that radiation leaked from the plant minutes later. Bloomberg has reported that a radiation alarm went off at the plant before the tsunami hit on March 11. The news agency says that one of the few monitoring posts left working, on the perimeter of the plant “about 1.5 kilometers (1 mile) from the No. 1 reactor went off at 3:29 p.m., minutes before the station was overwhelmed by the tsunami.”
-Tanaka Mitsuhiko, a former nuclear power plant designer and science writer asserts that at least the Number One reactor melted down as a result of the earthquake damage. He describes it as a loss of coolant accident (LOCA). "The data that TEPCO has made public shows a huge loss of coolant within the first few hours of the earthquake. It can’t be accounted for by the loss of electrical power. There was already so much damage to the cooling system that a meltdown was inevitable long before the tsunami arrived."
-He says the released data shows that at 14:52 on March 11th, before the tsunami had arrived, the emergency circulation equipment of both the A and B systems automatically started up. "This only happens when there is a loss of coolant." Between 15:04 and 15:11 the water sprayer inside the containment vessel was turned on. Tanaka says that it is an emergency measure only done when other cooling systems have failed.
-By the time the tsunami arrived and knocked out all the electrical systems, circa 15:37, the plant was already on its way to melting down.
Japanese Researcher Says Reactor 3’s Fuel Melted Twice, Dropped to Containment Vessel -EX-SKF, August 8
-Fumiya Tanabe, former head of the research at Japan Atomic Energy Agency, thinks the fuel melted and dropped to the bottom of the Reactor Pressure Vessel of Reactor 3 by March 14’s explosion; then the melted fuel stayed there, cooled by more than 300-tonnes/day water. However, the amount of water injected dropped to only 24 tonnes per day from March 21 to 23, and 69 tonnes per day on March 24, probably due to increased pressure within the RPV.
-It caused the melted fuel to heat up again, and the fuel melted through the RPV and dropped onto the Containment Vessel (pedestal; see the diagram from Asahi).
-According to Tanabe, the amount of water from March 21 to 24 was only about 11 to 32% of what was needed to remove the decay heat, and within one day the melted fuel would attain the melting temperature again.
-Tanabe thinks this massive "re-melting" caused the release of a large amount of radioactive materials into the environment which caused a spike in air radiation in wide areas of Tohoku and Kanto including Tokyo, and most of the re-melted fuel dropped from the RPV to the Containment Vessel.
TEPCO starts evaporating saltwater -NHK, August 8
-However, TEPCO says the system has the capacity to process only 40 percent of the contaminated seawater into freshwater, leaving 60 percent untreated. As of August 2nd, there was still about 21,000 tons of contaminated seawater left at the plant.
-TEPCO had been testing a new system which could reduce 80 tons of saltwater to about 50 tons each day, by evaporating the saltwater. The steam will be recycled back to freshwater for cooling the reactor. The system was put into actual operation on Sunday, after the testing was completed.
-So far, 2 units have been installed. TEPCO plans to introduce 6 additional units, hoping that all will become operational by October.
State leaders see nuclear power as inevitable to Florida’s energy future -Miami Herald, August 8
-Florida regulators will decide how much customers will pay next year for nuclear power plants that are still a decade away from construction, while consumer advocates contend that the costs don’t add up.
-The state Legislature, the governor and the head of the state’s utility board all say that Florida’s future will include new nuclear facilities, setting aside concerns about the meltdown of the Fukushima reactor in Japan, reports of imperfect new reactor designs and rising construction costs.
-In the next two weeks, the Florida Public Service Commission must decide in public hearings how much the state’s two largest utilities — Florida Power & Light and Progress Energy Florida — will charge customers in 2012 for nuclear plants of tomorrow. It will be the fourth year the utilities will be allowed to collect money for nuclear costs. Together, they are asking customers for $337 million next year.
-FPL wants $2.09 a month from each customer using an average of 1,000 kilowatt hours of electricity. Progress Energy wants more than twice that — $4.80 per month for 1,000 kilowatt hours, about a 20-cent decrease from what customers are currently paying for nuclear projects.
-The utility companies say that while it takes a long time to build a nuclear plant, the net savings to customers will be in the billions because the cost of nuclear fuel will be much lower. They also note that the construction process creates jobs.
-But conservation groups, large commercial power users and lawyers representing consumers say it’s time for regulators to hit the brakes and scale back how much the electric utilities are allowed to charge for uncertain projects. They argue that soaring costs, delayed timelines and safety concerns make it less likely that the power plants will be as cost-effective as projected.
GE unit in N.Carolina resumes nuclear fuel output -Reuters, August 8
-General Electric Co’s (GE.N) Global Nuclear Fuels (GNF) operation resumed nuclear fuel manufacturing on Monday after a 3-1/2 week suspension triggered by the failure of warning horns to operate as designed, the company said.
-"No customer orders have been affected (by the shutdown)," GE Nuclear spokesman Michael Tetuan said after announcing the production resumption. "The malfunction did not have any impact on health or safety."
-Production at the 24-hour-a-day, seven-day-a-week operation was halted on July 14 when it was found the warning horns had not been working properly for two months, GNF said in a report to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC).
China starts operating nuclear power plant -NHK, August 8
-The state-run Xinhua News Agency said that the Number 4 reactor of the Ling’ao nuclear power plant in Shenzhen became operational on Sunday.
-The reactor, called the CPR-1000, is a new type of pressurized water reactor, with a generation capacity of one million kilowatts. It was based on French technology, but was constructed by China.
-This is China’s first reactor to become operational after the accident at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant in March in Japan.
-China now has 14 nuclear reactors in operation, with 27 more under construction.
-However, people living near the plant said that no explanations were offered by the government or the operator. One local person said they don’t know how they should respond in the event of an emergency situation.
Plutonium plans in limbo -Nature, August 8
-Last week, Britain’s Nuclear DecommissÂioning Authority (NDA) announced that it will close a troubled Sellafield facility that is one of only two commercial plants in the world producing mixed oxide nuclear fuel (MOX), after reactor shutdowns in Japan eliminated its only customers for the plutonium-containing fuel. "The reason for this [closure] is directly related to the tragic events in Japan and their ongoing impact on the power markets," says Tony Fountain, the NDA’s chief executive. The decision is a setback for the British nuclear industry and leaves the country wondering anew what to do with the world’s largest single stockpile of plutonium.
-Opened in 2001, the Sellafield MOX plant was originally designed to manufacture 560 tonnes of MOX over 10 years. It would have allowed Britain to convert much of its plutonium stockpile, which now stands at 112 tonnes. This was built up over years of reprocessing spent fuel to extract plutonium, which was originally intended for use in fast-breeder reactors.
-But technical failures have repeatedly halted MOX production at Sellafield. The plant has produced just 15 tonnes of MOX, at a total cost of Â£1.4 billion (US$2.3 billion). Its closure leaves the Melox plant in Gard, France, operated by energy company Areva, as the world’s only commercial supplier — it has produced about 1,500 tonnes of the fuel since 1995.
-A spokesman for Areva told Nature that the company does not expect the Fukushima accident to significantly reduce demand for MOX in the long term. He notes that Areva is currently building the United States’ first MOX plant, to recycle unwanted plutonium from nuclear weapons, at the Savannah River Site in South Carolina, and that China is also considering its own facility. "This says to us that MOX has a future," he adds.
-But the Savannah River facility is hugely over budget, and will produce fuel that will cost about five times as much as conventional nuclear fuel, according to Frank von Hippel of Princeton University, New Jersey, an expert on energy policy and nuclear arms control. And although France is a stronghold of MOX production for now, he adds, its future depends on continued support for nuclear reprocessing from the French government. If the opposition Socialist Party wins next year’s presidential election, Areva’s position could be weakened, von Hippel argues. "Given the dominance of France in this field," he says, "that would put a question mark over the future of MOX just about everywhere."
US NRC staff completes license review for new reactors in Georgia -Platts, August 8
-Two proposed nuclear plants in Georgia cleared a step in the lengthy process of gaining regulatory approval late last week when the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission said it had completed a safety review.
-The NRC concluded a staff safety review of Westinghouse’s AP1000 reactor design and Georgia Power’s application to build and operate two of the reactors, officials said Monday. But approval by the five-member commission is still needed before the units can be built.
-The review considered an amended reactor design and the application for licenses to build and run the Georgia units. The commission must vote on a final rule to certify the AP1000 design, and is required to hold a hearing before approving the combined construction permit-operating licenses, or COLs, for the Georgia reactors.
-Neither safety review has yet been made public, but both will be posted to the agency’s online document system in the coming days, NRC spokesman Scott Burnell said. "Certainly, it’s a milestone," he said.
-NRC notified Westinghouse in a letter Friday of the completion of the review.
U.N. chief tells Fukushima radiation evacuees ‘to hang in there’ -Japan Today, August 8
-“I came here to express my solidarity, the United Nations’ solidarity for the government of Fukushima, and particularly for affected people in Fukushima,” Ban told prefectural Gov Yuhei Sato.
-“Particularly this Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant accident has given us great lessons,” he said. “We need to carefully review to improve our safety and improve our capacity tools in such an emergency response.”
-Joined by his wife, Ban visited a shelter where more than 300 evacuees, mainly from Minamisoma city and a 20-kilometer no-go zone around the plant, have lived in cramped conditions for the past five months.
-“You hang in there,” Ban said in Japanese to the evacuees, who live in tiny spaces separated by cardboard partitions.
Japan Vows To UN To Share Tsunami, Nuclear Lessons -NPR, August 8
-U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said Japan promised Monday to share invaluable lessons of disaster management and nuclear safety that it learned from March’s disasters.
-"The Japanese government will share invaluable experiences learned from this tragedy with the international community, particularly in area of disaster reduction and preparedness and also strengthening nuclear safety and standards," Ban told reporters after talking with Prime Minister Naoto Kan.
Kan calls for study on scrapping Monju fast-breeder reactor -Kyodo, August 8
Japan’s continued promotion of overseas nuclear power expansion calls for reflection -Mainichi Perspectives, August 8
-"We’d like to go forward with our plans for overseas nuclear power expansion regardless of what the prime minister says," Kawamura said on July 22, furious over Prime Minister Naoto Kan’s declaration to reduce and eliminate Japan’s dependence on nuclear power.
-It was no doubt an expression of Kawamura’s dedication to business and an outburst of someone who assumes grave responsibility toward a major economic power. However, it completely misses a fundamental problem that has been exposed by the nuclear disaster in Fukushima — that is, that nuclear power plants are not safe.
-There wouldn’t be a problem if nuclear power plants were safe. So I pose this question to those who argue that we make "safe nuclear power plants." How, exactly, is that done?
-If the Japanese public has been forced to realize its follies by the nuclear crisis triggered by the March 11 Great East Japan Earthquake and tsunami, how can we justifiably push our nuclear waste on another country? Are we excused by the fact that the U.S. government is doing it as well and the Mongolian government seems happy with the trade-offs? The situation calls for some serious soul-searching.
After Fukushima, Japan’s ‘authority myth’ is crumbling -Guardian, August 8
-Nearly five months on, however, the nuclear crisis has also become western Japan’s "problem". Understanding the reactions of people living beyond the immediate vicinity of Fukushima highlights the ongoing political fallout of the disaster.
-At a rural supermarket, for example, a pregnant woman points to a hastily erected sign and asks the assistant, "You’re absolutely sure that this beef doesn’t come from Fukushima?" Her concern follows news reports in mid-July that radioactive caesium exceeding legal limits had been discovered in beef products transported from Fukushima to many parts of the country. For customers like her, hundreds of miles from Tohoku, radioactive contamination was no longer an abstract danger appearing on the evening news; it was now before them on the dinner table.
-The beef irradiation scare occurred even after politicians and media commentators had explicitly reassured the Japanese public that the government was monitoring food safety. There has been much discussion since March of the ways that Fukushima exposed the "safety myth" of the Japanese nuclear power industry. But the wider "authority myth" is now crumbling, with ordinary people not knowing whether to trust the word of anyone in authority.
Stop claiming food is safe, ministry told -Japan Times, August 8
-Foreign Minister Takeaki Matsumoto has committed an about-face on policy by telling his ministry to refrain from vouching for the safety of Japanese food.
-The ministry stance changed after radiation-tainted beef was found to have been sold to consumers nationwide, sources said.
Waters close to Fukushima plant affected by radiation: China -MSN, August 8
-China”s State Oceanic Administration, which conducted the studies in the area, said today that waters in the western Pacific region, close to the east and southeast of the Fukushima nuclear power plant are found to have radioactive material in excess of normal quantities.
-Initial tests of samples collected from these areas show that radioactive Cesium-137 and -134, as well as Strontium-90 can be found in all water samples, it said in a statement.
-Under normal conditions, Cesium-134 cannot be detected in sea waters, but the maximum amounts of Cesium-137 and Strontium-90 detected in the samples are 300 times and 10 times, respectively, of the amounts of natural background radiation in China”s territorial waters, it said.
Dosimeter figures questioned / People’s fears raised, calmed depending on radiation readings -Yomiuri, August 8
-The Tokatsu area, in the northwestern part of Chiba Prefecture which includes Nagareyama, was named in a weekly magazine as a "hot spot" with high radiation levels.
-This prompted the group to measure radiation levels in the area. The group said it has not detected radiation levels above the government-set level, but different dosimeters have shown different readings even at the same location.
-Members of the group started to check radiation levels on their own because they were not satisfied with data provided by the government.
Japan Held Nuclear Data, Leaving Evacuees in Peril -NYT, August 8
-The day after a giant tsunami set off the continuing disaster at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant, thousands of residents at the nearby town of Namie gathered to evacuate.
-Given no guidance from Tokyo, town officials led the residents north, believing that winter winds would be blowing south and carrying away any radioactive emissions. For three nights, while hydrogen explosions at four of the reactors spewed radiation into the air, they stayed in a district called Tsushima where the children played outside and some parents used water from a mountain stream to prepare rice.
-The winds, in fact, had been blowing directly toward Tsushima — and town officials would learn two months later that a government computer system designed to predict the spread of radioactive releases had been showing just that.
-But the forecasts were left unpublicized by bureaucrats in Tokyo, operating in a culture that sought to avoid responsibility and, above all, criticism. Japan’s political leaders at first did not know about the system and later played down the data, apparently fearful of having to significantly enlarge the evacuation zone — and acknowledge the accident’s severity.
-“From the 12th to the 15th we were in a location with one of the highest levels of radiation,” said Tamotsu Baba, the mayor of Namie, which is about five miles from the nuclear plant. He and thousands from Namie now live in temporary housing in another town, Nihonmatsu. “We are extremely worried about internal exposure to radiation.”
-The withholding of information, he said, was akin to “murder.”
A Tokyo citizen turned out to be internally exposed -Fukushima Diary, August 8
-A man from Tokyo went to Hokkaido for sightseeing.
-He had a whole body counter check to see if he’s taken radioactive particles into his body.
-The result was “positive”: Cesium137, 868bq; Cesium134, 6373bq
-The doctor asked him if he went to Fukushima, he replied no.
-He normally spent days in Tokyo.
-Now it’s pretty rational to think most of the other people are equally dosed.
-The doctor added, There are too little sample of low dose symptoms,so even if you have cancer in the future,maybe it’s hard to prove it has something to do with Fukushima.
-This is how “our” government is going to abandon us.
-We are the people ,of the government,by the government,for the government.
Three Plutonium Brothers of Japan: "They Are So Safe You Can Drink It" (Updated with Transcript) -EX-SKF, August 8
-Tokyo Brown Tabby’s latest captioning is over the collection of video clips of three Japanese nuclear researchers, claiming safety for plutonium on the national TV. The first two appeared on TV after the March 11 accident to assure the public that there was nothing to worry about on plutonium, because it was so safe.
-Three Plutonium Brothers are:
(1)Tadashi Narabayashi, Professor in Engineering at Hokkaido University (in TV Asahi "Sunday Scramble" on Apr. 3, 2011)
(2)Keiichi Nakagawa, Associate Professor in Radiology, The University of Tokyo Hospital (in Nippon TV "news every" on Mar. 29, 2011)
(3)Hirotada Ohashi, Professor in System Innovation, University of Tokyo (at a panel discussion in Saga Pref. on Dec. 25, 2005, regarding using MOX fuel at Genkai Nuke Plant)
-Transcript of the video. Spread the word, make them accountable:
City starts decontamination work -Yomiuri, August 8
-Under the municipal government’s plan, the surface soil of playgrounds at primary and middle schools and kindergartens will be removed, while walls and rooftops of buildings will be cleaned with high-pressure hoses.
-At 8 a.m. in Kashima Primary School, construction workers started removing soil about five centimeters deep with heavy machinery. The soil will be buried in a hole on the school grounds.
-The city government has earmarked 960 million yen in its fiscal 2011 supplementary budget for the initial phase of the decontamination.
Kyoto rejection of tsunami-hit city’s firewood for bonfire ceremony sparks outrage -Mainichi News, August 9
-The Kyoto Municipal Government has been flooded with a barrage of calls and e-mails protesting a decision by the Daimonji Hozonkai (Preservation society for the Daimonji bonfire) not to use pine trees from the Iwate Prefecture city of Rikuzentakata as firewood in the upcoming Gozan no Okuribi bonfires on Aug. 16 — an annual event held as part of the "Obon" festival in Kyoto.
-The preservation society’s decision came after strong opposition to its original plan to use pine woodblocks from Rikuzentakata in the bonfire event from people worried that burning them could spread radioactive ashes.
-The original bonfire plan was intended to be a gesture of support for survivors of the Great East Japan Earthquake and tsunami, who had inscribed each of the woodblocks with messages to lost loved-ones.
-In response to the storm of criticism against the plan’s suspension, the preservation society’s leader, Kotaro Matsubara, visited Rikuzentakata to hold a bonfire event with local residents on Aug. 8, in which the woodblocks originally destined for Kyoto were set alight.
Japan Ignored Own Fukushima Radiation Forecasts -AP, youtube, August 9
-An Associated Press investigation has found that Japanese government officials ignored radiation forecasts from their own monitoring system, failing to keep residents near a crippled nuclear plant from a predicted plume.
Excessive radioactive cesium found in Fukushima fish: Greenpeace -Mainichi News, August 9
-The samples taken at Onahama port in Iwaki, Fukushima Prefecture, in late July, included a species of rockfish that measured 1,053 becquerels per kilogram. The reading, the highest among the samples, is well in excess of the government-set limit of 500 becquerels per kilogram, according to a study conducted by the environmental group.
-The other samples, which were all rock trout, measured between 625 and 749 becquerels per kilogram, again exceeding the provisional limit.
-"There is no allowable limit for internal exposure that can conclusively be said not to pose any problems," Greenpeace said in a petition submitted to Prime Minister Naoto Kan on Tuesday, noting the need to keep consumption of the food containing elevated levels of radioactive materials to a minimum.
-The petition also calls for tougher marine-product monitoring and for requiring businesses to display the level of radioactive materials contained in food products on the label.
Budget Deal Could Crush Low-Dose Radiation Research -Forbes, August 9
-Much has been written about the probable effects on renewable energy of the budget deal struck between President Obama and Congressional Republicans last week.
-Solar panels and windmills, boosted by a massive influx of funding from the Stimulus Package in 2009, will see subsidies dry up when they expire in 2012. But wind and solar won’t be the only casualties in the Energy Department.
-The nation’s only Low-Dose Radiation Research program is likely to suffer a severe cut in funding not long after the United States was blanketed with low doses of radioactive fallout from the Fukushima nuclear disaster in Japan.
Department of Energy Announces $39 Million to Strengthen University-Led Nuclear Energy Research and Development -DOE, August 9
-The Department of Energy today announced that it has awarded up to $39 million in research grants aimed at developing cutting-edge nuclear energy technologies and training and educating the next generation of leaders in the U.S. nuclear industry. Speaking at the U.S. Department of Energy’s annual Nuclear Energy University Programs (NEUP) workshop in Chicago, Assistant Secretary Peter Lyons said the grants would support up to 51 projects at colleges and universities around the country.
-Through NEUP, the Department is working to leverage the research and development capabilities of American universities and colleges to enhance U.S. leadership in the global nuclear energy industry. NEUP builds upon the Obama Administration’s efforts to ensure that nuclear power is a part of our clean energy mix. Through programs like NEUP, the Department is taking action to restart the nuclear industry as part of a broad approach to create new clean energy jobs and cut carbon pollution.
-“The Obama Administration continues to believe that nuclear energy has an important role to play as America moves to a clean energy future,” said Secretary of Energy Steven Chu. “As part of our commitment to restarting the American nuclear industry and creating thousands of new jobs and export opportunities in the process, we are investing in cutting-edge nuclear energy research projects that can develop the technologies required to advance our domestic nuclear industry and maintain global leadership in the field.”
-For the full list of projects selected for award and for additional information about NEUP visit the Nuclear Energy University Programs website.
Free Potassium Iodide Tablets for Those Near Nuclear Power Plant -WPMT, August 9
-Pennsylvanians who live, work or attend school within a 10-mile radius of the state’s five nuclear power plants can get free potassium iodide, or KI, tablets from the state Department of Health on Aug. 11.
-This distribution is intended for people who were unable to take advantage of past KI offerings, have recently moved near nuclear power facilities, or are unaware that free KI tablets are regularly available through county and municipal health departments and state health centers.
-The tablets will be offered at 12 locations across the state on Aug. 11. Four 65-milligram tablets will be provided to each person. Individuals can pick up KI tablets for other family members or those who are unable to pick them up on their own.
Study says nuclear fuel at Fukushima reactor possibly melted twice -Mainichi News, August 9
-The study by Fumiya Tanabe, an expert in nuclear safety, said most of the fuel at the No. 3 reactor may have fallen into the containment vessel underneath, and if so, the current method used to cool the reactor would need reviewing, which could force the plant operator to revise its schedule to contain the five-month-old disaster.
-After analyzing data made public by the operator, known as TEPCO, Tanabe argues that it became difficult to inject coolant water into the reactor’s pressure vessel after pressure rose inside it from the early hours of March 21.
-He says the fuel at the bottom of the pressure vessel overheated and melted again during a four-day period from March 21 when only 11 to 32 percent of the water needed to cool the fuel was injected into the pressure vessel.
-Elevated levels of radiation were actually detected for several days from March 21 in the Tohoku region, in which the Fukushima Daiichi power plant is located, and the nearby Kanto region, which includes Tokyo and its surrounding area.
-"I presume that the fuel fell to the bottom of the containment vessel made of concrete and reacted violently with its cement, releasing large amounts of radioactive materials into the outside from the pressure vessel," said Tanabe.
-TEPCO, meanwhile, casts doubt on Tanabe’s assertion, saying most of the fuel probably remains inside the reactor’s pressure vessel as temperature fluctuations were observed depending on the amount of water injected into it.
Unit 3 MOX likely melted through -Japan Times, August 9
-MOX fuel that was believed to have been kept cool at the bottom of one of the reactors at the crippled Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant after its core melted is believed to have breached the vessel after melting again, a study said Monday.
More on Returning Residents to Evacuation-Ready Zone in Fukushima -EX-SKF, August 9
-It’s all about money. The national and prefectural governments don’t want to spend on the residents, decontamination, compensation. So what do they do? They return the residents to their high-radiation homes and schools by telling them Fukushima I Nuclear Power Plant is broken in a stable way, so carry on with your lives and stay there.
-Oh, and to make sure the residents who are not well-to-do have no choice but to come back, the Fukushima prefectural government has been closing the official evacuation shelters and cutting off the subsidies to the residents who fled to other prefectures, now that the nuke plant is "stable".
Nagasaki mayor calls for shift away from nuclear energy -Japan Today, August 9
-Mayor Tomihisa Taue said Japan must develop safer energies such as solar, wind and biomass following the meltdowns at the Fukushima Daiichi plant in March in the world’s worst atomic accident since Chernobyl 25 years ago.
-“This March, we were astounded by the severity of the accident at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power station,” Taue said at a ceremony held near the spot where the U.S. military dropped its plutonium bomb.
-“As the people of a nation that has experienced nuclear devastation, we have continued the plea of ‘No More Hibakusha!'” he said in his ‘peace declaration’ speech, using the Japanese word for the WWII radiation victims.
-“How has it happened that we are threatened once again by the fear of radiation? Have we lost our awe of nature? Have we become overconfident in the control we wield as human beings?”
Anti-nuclear activists to rally Thursday for closure of N.Y.’s Indian Point power plant -Knick Ledger, August 10
-Anti-nuclear activists will be rallying at Manhattan’s Dag Hammarskjold Plaza Thursday evening, calling for the closure of the Indian Point nuclear power plant.
-The rally – scheduled for 6:00 p.m. – will have speakers that include Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.), NYPIRG representative Rebecca Weber, former Rep. John Hall (D-N.Y.), Westchester County activist Marilyn Elie, and others.
-According to a Siena Research Institute poll taken in March, 72 percent of New York voters are concerned about the safety of the state’s nuclear facilities.
-Collaborating groups for the rally include 350.org, Center for Health, Environment and Justice, Citizens Awareness Network, Citizens’ Environmental Coalition, Greenpeace USA, Hudson River Sloop Clearwater, Indian Point Safe Energy Coalition, NYC Environmental Justice Alliance, NYC Friends of Clearwater, NYPIRG, Radiation and Public Health Project, Riverkeeper, Rock the Reactors, Shut Down Indian Point Now!, Sierra Club – NYC Group, Time’s Up, UPROSE, Westchester Citizens Awareness Network, WE ACT for Environmental Justice, and other groups.
U.S. nuclear regulator tied up by process: chairman -Reuters, August 10
-Gregory Jaczko chided his colleagues on the five-member Nuclear Regulatory Commission for their approach to recommended changes in the wake of Japan’s nuclear disaster — an approach he said reflects "the current commission’s preoccupation with process at the expense of nuclear safety policy."
-The focus "is a result of a flawed voting system that encourages the commission to sidestep the actual substantive policy issues presented, and this current situation is just one more example," Jaczko said.
-Decisions on the new safety recommendations will be the NRC’s most significant task since 1979, when a reactor at the Three Mile Island plant in Pennsylvania melted down, Jaczko said, noting the agency is also on the cusp of approving licenses for new nuclear plants, something it hasn’t done for more than 30 years.
-"The commission is reacting to a real accident at a plant with a design similar to designs licensed and built in the United States," Jaczko said.
-Some recommendations will take longer to adopt than others, Jaczko said, such as the first suggestion to come up with a better regulatory framework than the current "patchwork" of rules and guidelines.
-But other ideas can be adopted promptly, Jaczko said, such as taking a critical look at requirements for plants to withstand earthquakes and floods, and keep cool even during a long-term power blackout.
-The task force said there is no imminent risk that a disaster similar to Fukushima could occur in the United States, home to the world’s largest nuclear power industry.
-Jaczko chastised his colleagues for accepting that finding "without question."
Symposium urges phase-out of nuclear energy -NHK, August 10
-A symposium on ending the use of nuclear energy in Japan was held in Tokyo on Tuesday evening.
-The event was organized by a group of lawyers that plans to file suits to demand the suspension of nuclear power stations across the country.
-About 350 people took part in the event, including more than 20 residents from near the Fukushima plant.
-The representative of the lawyers’ group revealed its plans to take legal action in all prefectures hosting nuclear plants to shut them down.
Japan’s Clean Energy Bill May Falter on Lawmaker’s Ties to Utilities -Bloomberg, August 10
-Prime Minister Naoto Kan’s plan to shift Japan toward renewable energy following the Fukushima nuclear accident faces resistance from politicians compromised by close ties to utility companies, an opposition lawmaker said.
-The push on renewable energy — including a bill in parliament to subsidize electricity from wind, solar and geothermal sources — will meet resistance because politicians don’t want to anger utilities, Taro Kono, a lawmaker for the opposition Liberal Democratic Party who supports phasing out nuclear power, told reporters yesterday.
-“We know the LDP has received a huge amount of money from the power companies, and the Democratic Party of Japan gets support from the power company labor unions,” said Kono, who plans to run for his party’s presidency next year. “How we break that vicious circle is a test we have to pass.”
Practically Any Radioactive Debris Will Be Burned and Buried -EX-SKF, August 10
-On August 10, the Ministry of the Environment made public the base plan for the ashes from burning the debris and sludge that contain radioactive materials from the Fukushima I Nuclear Power Plant accident. The plan would technically allow all the ashes to be buried.
-In June, the ministry announced that the ashes that test up to 8,000 becquerels/kg of radioactive cesium can be buried in the final disposal facilities. It called for the temporary storage of the ashes that exceed 8,000 becquerels/kg but didn’t specify the final disposal procedure. In the base plan announced on August 10, to bury the ashes whose radioactive cesium exceeds 8,000 becquerels/kg, some measures need to be taken to prevent radioactive cesium from making contact with ground water, or to process the runoff appropriately. For the ashes that measure 8,000 to 100,000 becquerels/kg, the plan calls for: 1) processing facilities with roofs; 2) durable containers; 3) mixing the ashes with cement to solidify.
-The whole plan is moot, because, on the side, the ministry has already told municipalities that they can "mix and match" – burn radioactive debris and sludge with non-radioactive debris and sludge to lower the radiation below whatever the limit the ministry sets, which has been 8,000 becquerels/kg and now 100,000 becquerels/kg if the plan gets an approval from the expert committee. The ministry set the limit for Fukushima Prefecture, then notified other prefectures to "refer to the Ministry’s instruction to Fukushima Prefecture and notify the municipalities accordingly".
Kan to resign after key bills pass Diet -NHK, August 10
-Kan has called for the passing of 3 bills that he considers vital for Japan’s recovery as a condition of his resignation.
-The first, the second supplementary budget, has already passed the Diet. Two remain, one for issuing deficit-covering bonds and a second promoting the use of renewable energy.
-He said that once the condition is met, his Democratic Party will quickly call a presidential election. He added that when a new leader is chosen, he will resign and the Diet will select a new prime minister.
TEPCO logs $7.4-bil. net loss in April-June -NHK, August 10
-The company booked an extraordinary loss worth about 5.2 billion dollars to compensate those affected by the Fukushima nuclear accident, including residents and farmers.
-The government is to establish an entity to help TEPCO pay damages.
-TEPCO president Toshio Nishizawa told reporters that once funded by the entity, the company’s liabilities are unlikely to exceed its assets.
Cattle farm files for bankruptcy, blames nuclear crisis -Kyodo, August 10
Radioactive Beef Consumed in School Lunches in 296 Schools in 12 Prefectures in Japan -EX-SKF, August 10
-According to the ministry, as of August 9, the meat from the cows that may have eaten radioactive rice hay was used in school lunches in 278 elementary schools, junior high schools, high schools, and special education schools, and 18 kindergartens, in 20 cities and towns in Japan. 127 schools in Yokohama City used it, so did 53 schools and kindergartens in Gifu City [in Gifu Prefecture], and 30 schools and kindergartens in 4 cities in Miyagi Prefecture. The schools are mostly located in eastern Japan, but 40 schools in 4 cities in Mie, Shimane, Kagawa Prefectures also used the meat.
Panel: Kyushu Electric destroyed evidence -NHK, August 10
-Panel head Nobuo Gohara told reporters on Tuesday that the utility destroyed documents related to its activities in 2005 to try to win public support for using plutonium-uranium mixed-oxide fuel at the plant.
-He said the utility’s nuclear energy division removed and destroyed the documents on July 21st.
-Gohara added that the company’s Saga branch tried to dispose of 15 files his panel had requested last week after beginning the probe.
-Gohara claims that Akira Nakamura, the deputy head of the nuclear energy division, ordered the destruction of documents that could cause trouble to individuals.
-Nakamura also allegedly played a role in the e-mail scam.
TEPCO to begin building cover over Fukushima reactor Wed. -Mainichi News, August 10
-The operator of the crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant said Tuesday it will begin in earnest on Wednesday work to install a giant covering over the plant’s No. 1 reactor, with plans to complete it by the end of next month.
-The covering, a tent-like structure made of steel frames and air-tight polyester sheets, is meant to prevent radioactive materials from spreading from the crippled reactor and stop rainwater from entering the reactor building, said Tokyo Electric Power Co.
Circulatory cooling begins at No.1 reactor pool -NHK, August 10
-The operator of Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant has switched from a water-injection system to a circulatory cooling system at the plant’s Number 1 reactor’s spent fuel pool.
-Tokyo Electric Power Company put into operation the new system for cooling water in the pool for spent fuel rods on Wednesday.
-For the first time since the March 11th disaster, all four damaged reactors at the plant are now using circulatory cooling systems and are on track to stable cooling.
Gov’t mulls lowering nuclear workers’ radiation exposure limit -Mainichi News, August 10
-The government has raised the limit for an emergency from 100 millisieverts to 250 millisieverts exclusively for the crisis that began in March at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, but is now thinking of setting it back to 100 millisieverts, the official said.
-"(A limit of) 250 millisieverts is highly exceptional. The labor ministry wants to work seriously on lowering the limit," Shinichi Takasaki of the ministry’s Labor Standards Bureau said.
-According to Tokyo Electric’s report to the ministry, 103 people were exposed to radiation of more than 100 millisieverts during crisis control efforts in March, but none during work in the following two months.
-A total of 1,259 workers have been exposed to radiation of between 20 millisieverts and 100 millisieverts during the March-May period.
Egypt authorities find another case of radiation in Japanese shipment -Almasry Alyoum, August 10
-Egypt’s General Authority for Export and Import Control recently discovered radioactive cargo in two containers shipped from Japan to Ain Sokhna port, the Red Sea Ports Authority said.
-This is the third radioactive shipment Egypt has discovered over the past month.
-The radioactive material was found aboard ships carrying electric and mechanical instruments. A letter from Egypt’s atomic energy authorities confirmed the cargo had above-regulation radiation levels.
-An official at the seaport said the Ministry of Environment and DP Worlds, which runs the Ain Sokhna port, transferred the ships to a sandy area in order to prevent the radiation from spreading to other shipments and vessels.
Outgoing nuclear agency chief admits to ‘inadequate’ regulation -Mainichi News, August 11
-Outgoing nuclear safety agency chief Nobuaki Terasaka said Wednesday the crisis at the Fukushima Daiichi atomic power plant showed Japan’s nuclear regulation was inadequate, but insisted he did his best to deal with the world’s worst nuclear accident in 25 years.
-Terasaka admitted "not enough" had been done in some respects, while there "may have been other ways" to respond to the crisis. But he did not elaborate, saying the government’s accident investigation committee is looking into the cause of the incident triggered by the March 11 megaquake and tsunami.
-It was unclear how Terasaka felt about being sacked, as he said only that he heard industry minister Banri Kaieda wanted to refresh the leadership to deal with issues concerning nuclear safety regulations.
-"I accepted the story as it is," Terasaka said.
Nuclear safety: A dangerous veil of secrecy -AlJazeera, August 11
-There are battles being fought on two fronts in the five months since a massive earthquake and tsunami damaged the Daiichi nuclear power plant in Fukushima, Japan.
-On one front, there is the fight to repair the plant, operated by the Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO) and to contain the extent of contamination caused by the damage. On the other is the public’s fight to extract information from the Japanese government, TEPCO and nuclear experts worldwide.
-There’s no denying that there’s a lot of money – and power – riding on the nuclear industry.
-The money trail can be tough to follow – Westinghouse, Duke Energy and the Nuclear Energy Institute (a "policy organisation" for the nuclear industry with 350 companies, including TEPCO, on its roster) did not respond to requests for information on funding research and chairs at universities.
-But most of the funding for nuclear research does not come directly from the nuclear lobby, said M.V. Ramana, a researcher at Princeton University specialising in the nuclear industry and climate change. Most research is funded by governments, who get donations – from the lobby (via candidates, political parties or otherwise).
-Since World War II, the process of secrecy – the readiness to invoke "national security" – has been a pillar of the nuclear establishment…that establishment, acting on the false assumption that "secrets" can be hidden from the curious and knowledgeable, has successfully insisted that there are answers which cannot be given and even questions which cannot be asked.
-The net effect is to stifle debate about the fundamental of nuclear policy. Concerned citizens dare not ask certain questions, and many begin to feel that these matters which only a few initiated experts are entitled to discuss.
No. 2 N-plant was prepared for venting -Yomiuri, August 11
-Preparations for opening the vents of nuclear reactors to prevent hydrogen explosions were made at the Fukushima No. 2 nuclear power plant shortly after the March 11 earthquake and tsunami damaged the plant’s cooling systems, according to data released Wednesday by Tokyo Electric Power Co.
-TEPCO did not have to open the vents because it repaired the cooling systems in time.
-According to the newly released data, which detailed initial responses taken at the plant, preparations for venting operations were under way at the Nos. 1 to 4 reactors of the plant to release steam accumulated in the containment vessels.
-On the day of the disaster, the Nos. 1, 2 and 4 reactors suffered damage to cooling pumps, the data showed. It was feared that the containment vessels might be damaged as pressure built up inside.
-Preparations were being made to open the vents of the vessels at all four reactors, including the No. 3 reactor, on March 12. But venting operations did not actually take place as the temperature of the reactors was successfully lowered below 100 C as cooling systems were restored after the replacement of pump motors.
Filtering system not working well at TEPCO plant -NHK, August 11
-The decontamination of radioactive water at the crippled Fukushima nuclear plant is failing to reach its target, putting the timetable for bringing its reactors under control in doubt.
-To complete the second stage, Tepco must reduce the amount of polluted water to prevent radioactive materials from spilling outside. That means it must operate the decontamination system effectively.
US military keeping radioactive waste in Futenma -NHK, August 11
-The US military carried out an operation to help Japan’s northeastern areas that were hit by the earthquake and tsunami in March.
-Aircraft and other equipment mobilized in the operation were contaminated by fallout from the ensuing nuclear disaster at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant.
-Radioactive waste such as cloth and other material used to remove contamination are being kept at the US Marine Corps’ Futenma Air Station in Okinawa, as well as at a US naval base in Sasebo, Nagasaki Prefecture.
-A spokesperson for the US Marines in Okinawa said the US military will properly keep the waste until the Japanese government disposes of it, adding its radiation level is so low that there is no possibility of a leak to the outside.
Nuclear commission erases children’s exposure data -NHK, August 11
-Japan’s nuclear watchdog has been found to have erased from its website, data on the results of thyroid checkups for children in Fukushima Prefecture.
-The Nuclear Safety Commission had uploaded the test results carried out by the government in March. More than 1,000 children aged 15 or younger were checked to see whether radioactive substances are accumulating in their thyroid.
-The results included information that showed a 4-year-old infant in Iwaki City was exposed to 35 millisieverts of radiation. This amount is not considered a health threat.
-But the commission removed all the data earlier this month. It cited the possibility that individual children could be identified because detailed information such as the 4-year-old’s address was included.
-The deletion is drawing criticism as no other similar data is available on children’s health. Children have greater risks of developing thyroid cancer.
-Professor emeritus Hirotada Hirose of Tokyo Woman’s Christian University says the commission cannot escape blame that it removed the data fearing a negative reaction to children’s exposure. He said the move runs counter to providing accurate information to the public.
Fukushima to create nuclear-free society through reconstruction -Mainichi News, August 11
-Fukushima Prefecture on Thursday adopted a policy to make the creation of a nuclear-free society the centerpiece of its 10-year project to rebuild in the wake of the disaster at a local nuclear power plant crippled by the March earthquake and tsunami.
-The northeastern prefecture’s decision made it the first local authority in Japan among those hosting nuclear power facilities to turn against nuclear energy.
-The policy, called ”vision for reconstruction,” calls for an environmental endeavor aimed at creating a society that can achieve sustainable development in safety without relying on nuclear power.
-The vision also points out the paradox of Fukushima bearing the brunt of the on-going nuclear crisis because it is home to large nuclear complexes that supply energy to outside the prefecture.
Japan to provide nuke plants for Vietnam -NHK, August 12
-Japan and Vietnam have agreed that Japan will continue with a plan to support Vietnam by building 2 nuclear reactors in the country.
-State Secretary for Foreign Affairs, Chiaki Takahashi, met Vietnamese Deputy Prime Minister Hoang Trung Hai in the capital Hanoi on Thursday.
-The governments of the two countries reached an agreement last October under which Japan would build 2 reactors in 2021. Vietnam plans to build a total of 14 nuclear reactors by 2030 to meet the country’s growing demand for electricity.
-Takahashi said Japan will learn from the Fukushima Daiichi accident and provide assistance with higher safety standards than ever before.