Japan Nuclear Disaster Update # 39: Nuclear Explosion at Reactor 3?

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The radiation at the Fukushima plants has gone up, rather than down, since June. This may be because contaminated water has become more concentrated due to evaporation. The release of radiation from the plant into the air continues, although a covering over Reactor 1 is almost completed. The release of radiation from the plant into the sea continues, and plankton are shown to be contaminated to a level that raises some concern. Mid month, the plant was measured to be releasing about 100 million becquerels per hour. The reactors are still not uniformly shut down to less than boiling. Additional pumps are being brought in to inject more water. And what goes in must come out, as steam into the atmosphere and effluence into the sea. So this is going to keep going for a while, at least a few more months.

Most of the facilities are too radioactive to enter or to spend very much time in.

TEPCO claims that if there was another earthquake knocking out their current “cooling” facilities at Fukushima, they could return to a state of the plant continuing to emit radiation out of control and boiling off radioactive steam and dumping radioactive water into the sea within just a few hours, so no need to worry about that eventuality.

Even though one of the “hot spots” found in Tokyo turned out to be, rather disturbingly, a small nuclear waste dump someone had in their home, many other hot spots at many localities ofairutside of the evacuation area have been found. It would seem that some sort of winnowing effect is concentrating radioactive material here and there. In at least one case, a rainwater pipe seemed to be the source of high radiation. In another case, in Kashiwa, a drainage ditch has very highly concentrated radiation.

Meanwhile, radioactive material is spreading throughout the region in another way: Radioactive sludge and dirt is being systematically shipped to numerous municipalities for them to put in to their own local dumps, and political pressure is being applied to make sure mayors or other community leaders keep quite about his and allow it to happen. One wonders if the population was warned of this during the initial hearings about whether or not to build this plant. Were the region’s municipalities told then that if there was a massive meltdown at the Fukushima plant, individual municipalities would be expected to become radioactive waste repositories?

Children in the Fukushima area are returning to schools as radiation levels at the schools are dropping. The children are being asked to wear long sleeved shirts and long pants when they go outside for their Physical Education classes.

The explosion at Reactor 3 may have been a prompt moderated nuclear critically within the reactor 3 fuel pool. Also, the containment at Reactor 3 was probably badly damaged and cracked independently. (see video below from Fairewinds)

Ana’s Fukushima Feed

Ana’s Fukushima Feed

Radiation spikes in Tokyo neighborhood, officials say -CNN, Oct. 13

  • An extraordinarily high level of radiation was detected in one spot in a central Tokyo residential district Thursday, prompting the local government to cordon off the small area, local officials said.
  • Radiation levels were higher in Tokyo’s Setagaya ward than in the evacuation area around the badly damaged Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant, according to ward Mayor Nobuto Hosaka.
  • “We are shocked to see such high radiation level was detected in our neighborhood. We cannot leave it as is,” Hosaka told reporters.
  • But the tsunami-struck Fukushima plant may not be the source of the radiation, Hosaka said later on state television.
  • Officials searching for the cause found “glass bottles in a cardboard box” in the basement of a house in the neighborhood which sent radiation detectors off the charts, he said on NHK.

Radiation in Tokyo not linked to Fukushima -Guardian, Oct. 13

  • Although this recent incident is not connected to the Fukushima disaster, the discovery comes amid concern that fallout from the plant may have spread over a much wider area than previously thought.
  • Kyodo News reported that a citizens’ group detected levels as high as 5.82 microsieverts an hour in a park in the town of Funabashi, Chiba prefecture, 130 miles from Fukushima. That is five times higher than the highest levels recorded in the city since the 11 March disaster.
  • Earlier this week officials in Yokohama, just south of Tokyo, said they had found abnormally high levels of strontium-90 in sediment on the roof of a block of flats.
  • The radioactive isotope, which has a half-life of 29 years, can accumulate in the bones and cause bone cancer and leukaemia. In September officials in Yokohama said they had detected 40,200 becquerels of radioactive caesium per kilogramme of sediment collected from a roadside ditch.
  • The task of identifying how far the contamination has spread, and in what quantities, is proving difficult. Wind direction and topology can cause radiation to spread unevenly, and particles are more likely to gather in ditches and other places that accumulate dust and rainwater.

Drill confirms safety of Fukushima nuclear plant -NHK, Oct. 13

  • The operator of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant says the facility could be kept safe even if its reactor-cooling system is knocked out by another huge earthquake.
  • Tokyo Electric Power Company conducted a drill on Wednesday based on the scenario that its pumps and tanks were damaged by a magnitude-8 quake near the plant. It was the first such drill since trouble began at the plant in March.
  • During the drill, about 40 workers attached a 300-meter hose to a fire truck, and pumped up seawater to inject into the reactors.
  • It took about an hour and 10 minutes for water to resume being injected into a mock facility after fire trucks arrived at the scene.
  • Tokyo Electric says water injection at the three reactors, No.1 through No. 3, could be restarted in about 3 hours.

Go Figure: What bananas tell us about radiation -BBC, Oct. 13

  • Freaky, isn’t it, radiation? Invisible, baffling, harmful (bombs) and helpful (X-rays) or both (nuclear power). And we go nuts if someone wants to put a load in our backyard even though it’s everywhere.
  • How much easier if our exposure to the hazards of radiation could all be reduced to bananas. Actually, it can, sort of. Welcome to the Banana Equivalent Dose or BED.
  • Bananas are a natural source of radioactive isotopes. True, there’s not much in one banana. But enough, according to Nuclear Threat Initiative – a security-minded think tank – for a few bananas to trigger radiation sensors used at US ports to detect smuggled nuclear material.
  • The standard measure of the biological effect of radiation is the sievert. One sievert is a heck of a big dose, but one tenth of a millionth of a sievert, or 0.1 micro sieverts, is roughly the dose from eating one banana.
  • So we can use one banana as our basic unit and convert other radiation exposures to so many bananas. The data for the table comes from here. I don’t claim to have checked it.

Crack discovered in Davis-Besse containment building -WTOL. Oct. 13

  • Workers replacing the nuclear reactor head at the Davis-Besse plant discovered a crack in a concrete containment building Monday.
  • The plant has been shut down for nearly two weeks while the reactor is replaced with a new one, and the crack could prevent it from reopening as expected by mid-November.
  • “Because safety is our top priority, we take all discoveries such as this very seriously,” said First Energy Spokesperson Jennifer Young. “We would not restart the plant until we’re sure this is not an issue for us.”
  • The vertical crack runs as much as 30 feet along rebar in a 2.5 foot concrete shield building. The shield building is meant to protect the reactor from outside forces like a tornado or aircraft. An inner, steel vessel containing the reactor remains sealed.
  • First Energy, which owns Davis-Besse, is replacing the current reactor head after cracks were found on fuel rod nozzles.

Nuke crisis has Fukushima farmer worried over next year’s crop, erosion of community -Mainichi News, Oct. 13

  • Rice grown in Fukushima Prefecture, host to the disaster-stricken Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant, is officially safe to eat. All samples provided for testing registered radioactive cesium contamination below the government-mandated maximum, meaning the grain is cleared for shipment and will appear in supermarkets across Japan. Many farmers in the prefecture, however, have no rice to ship, as they gave up on planting a crop this year after the breakout of the nuclear crisis.
  • In July, Kowaguchi and 84 other local farm families created the “Nochi o mamoru-kai,” or the “farmland protection association,” aimed at making sure a rice crop will be planted next spring. The association requested a radiation testing organization screen soil and unhulled rice from the area’s farms. The results showed some of the rice samples were contaminated with very small amounts of cesium.
  • The prefectural government is now considering whether to lift restrictions on rice planting next year, and Kowaguchi has laid in a supply of seeds in preparation. Even so, she is worried.
  • “I understand the problem of internal radiation exposure to young people,” she says. “Even if a tiny amount of radioactive materials could end up in the rice…” she adds, trailing off.

Rice Farmers in Japan Set Tougher Radiation Limits for Crops to Spur Sales -Bloomberg, Oct. 13

  • Rice farmers near Japans crippled Fukushima nuclear plant will impose radiation safety limits that will only clear grains with levels so low as to be virtually undetectable after government-set standards were viewed as too lenient, curbing sales.
  • Farmers now completing the harvest in areas affected by fallout from the nuclear station are struggling to find buyers amid doubts about cesium limits, which are less stringent than in livestock feed. No samples have been found exceeding the official limits.
  • A self-imposed, near-zero limit on radiation in rice may help spur sales from Fukushima, which was the fourth-largest producer in Japan last year, representing about 5 percent of the total harvest. The prefectural office of Zen-Noh, Japans biggest farmers group, plans to only ship cesium-free rice to address safety concerns, as does the National Confederation of Farmers Movements, which includes about 30,000 producers nationwide.

Final nuclear waste disposal issue needs serious deliberation -Mainichi Perspectives, Oct. 13

  • Little progress has been made in the debate on the construction of final disposal facilities for nuclear waste, while calls urging that Japan rely less on nuclear power plants have intensified since the ongoing crisis at the tsunami-hit Fukushima No. 1 Nuclear Power Plant emerged in March.
  • The construction of nuclear waste final disposal facilities is an inescapable issue that Japan as a whole needs to address.
  • A former official of the municipal government in Tomioka, which hosts the Fukushima No. 2 Nuclear Power Plant, said, “We don’t want to host such a dangerous facility in our neighborhood, but we can’t spread the risks throughout this small country.”
  • Regarding final disposal, domestic legislation stipulates that nuclear waste must be solidified with glass and sealed hermetically in stainless containers and be buried 300 meters below the surface of the ground. However, experts say it will take 100,000 years before radiation in such waste declines to safe levels.
  • Finland and Sweden are the only countries in the world that have already decided to build nuclear waste final disposal sites, according to the Nuclear Waste Management Organization of Japan (NUMO), an affiliate of the Economy, Trade and Industry Ministry.

Angry villagers block highway to demand closure of nuclear plant in southern India -Washington Post, Oct. 13

  • Angry villagers living near a recently built nuclear power plant in southern India blocked a highway Thursday to demand its closure, saying they dont believe government assurances that the facility is safe.
  • Some villagers near the Koodankulam nuclear plant in Tamil Nadu state have been fasting for five days. They occupied the road Thursday to intensify their protests, TimesNow television said.
  • The TV station showed the villagers on the highway, along with hundreds of local fishermen who fear that waste water discharged from the plant into the sea will ruin their fishing grounds. The Russian-built plant has not yet started operations.
  • Prime Minister Manmohan Singh wrote to the states top elected official on Wednesday saying that all precautions will be taken at the nuclear plant to maintain the highest safety standards.
  • The government fully shares the concerns of the people of the area and will take all steps to allay their fears, Singh said in the letter to Chief Minister J. Jayalalitha.

Citizens Testing Finds 20 Hot Spots Around Tokyo -NYT, Oct. 14

  • Takeo Hayashida signed on with a citizens group to test for radiation near his sons baseball field in Tokyo after government officials told him they had no plans to check for fallout from the devastated Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant. Like Japans central government, local officials said there was nothing to fear in the capital, 160 miles from the disaster zone.
  • Then came the test result: the level of radioactive cesium in a patch of dirt just yards from where his 11-year-old son, Koshiro, played baseball was equal to those in some contaminated areas around Chernobyl.
  • The patch of ground was one of more than 20 spots in and around the nations capital that the citizens group, and the respected nuclear research center they worked with, found were contaminated with potentially harmful levels of radioactive cesium.
  • Radioactive substances are entering peoples bodies from the air, from the food. Its everywhere, said Kiyoshi Toda, a radiation expert at Nagasaki Universitys faculty of environmental studies and a medical doctor. But the government doesnt even try to inform the public how much radiation theyre exposed to.
  • The reports of hot spots do not indicate how widespread contamination is in the capital; more sampling would be needed to determine that. But they raise the prospect that people living near concentrated amounts of cesium are being exposed to levels of radiation above accepted international standards meant to protect people from cancer and other illnesses.

Tepco Reactor No. 1 Radiation Levels Remain High, NHK Says -Bloomberg, Oct. 14

  • Tokyo Electric Power Co. measured radiation levels of 4,700 millisieverts per hour inside the No. 1 reactor building of its Fukushima Dai-Ichi nuclear plant, public broadcaster NHK said, citing the utility company.
  • The level is higher than 4,000 millisieverts recorded in June, the report said. Tepco said the evaporation of contaminated water in the basement was behind the elevated readings, according to the report.

Japan to Lower Radiation Limit for Nuclear Workers, Asahi Says -Bloomberg, Oct. 14

  • The Japanese government will lower the annual radiation exposure limit for nuclear plant workers to 100 millisieverts, the maximum amount of exposure allowed before the accident in Fukushima, from the current 250 millisieverts, the Asahi newspaper reported, citing the nations health ministry.
  • Revised regulations would only apply to new workers, and the government would be able to increase the limit when needed, the report said.

IAEA team praises Japan for efforts to reduce radiation exposure around damaged nuke plant -Washington Post, Oct. 14

  • A team of experts from the International Atomic Energy Agency praised Japan on Friday for steps it has taken to reduce radiation exposure for the public, particularly children, near the crippled Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear plant.
  • During a nine-day trip, the IAEA team visited schools, farms and government offices outside the 20-mile (12-kilometer) exclusion zone surrounding the power plant, which was damaged by a March 11 earthquake and tsunami.
  • In a preliminary report submitted to the government, the 12-member team said Japan had developed an efficient program for remediation allocating the necessary legal, financial and technological resources to bring relief to the people affected by the accident, with priority being given to children.

Radioactive cesium found in plankton off N-plant -NHK, Oct. 15

  • Researchers from Tokyo University of Marine Science and Technology collected plankton in waters up to 60 kilometers from the coast of Iwaki City in July. They found 669 becquerels per kilogram of radioactive cesium in animal plankton from waters 3 kilometers offshore.
  • They say a wide range of fish feed on animal plankton and that the contamination could accumulate in the food chain and have a more serious impact when it gets into relatively large fish.
  • The research group’s leader, Professor Takashi Ishimaru, says the plankton were so heavily contaminated because sea currents continuously carried contaminated water southward from the nuclear plant. He says detailed studies are needed to determine how long the effect on fish will continue.

Mongolia abandons nuclear waste storage plans, informs Japan of decision -Mainichi News, Oct. 15

  • The Mongolian government told Japan government officials and others concerned in late September that it had decided to abandon its plans to cooperate with Tokyo and Washington and build facilities to temporarily store and dispose of nuclear waste, it was learned on Oct. 14.
  • Mongolia appears to have judged the plan unfeasible because of opposition movements in the country.
  • It is the latest turn of events that underscores the difficulties in carrying out international projects to build nuclear waste storage facilities. A similar project was also abandoned in Australia in 2002 due to strong public backlash.

Japan nuclear agency secretly calculated Fukushima meltdown risks -Bellingham Herald, Oct. 15

  • The Japanese nuclear safety agency secretly calculated the possibility of a worst-case meltdown at Tokyo Electric Power Co.’s Fukushima No. 1 power plant, it has been learned.
  • The agency was working on the calculations just as Tepco was saying the nuclear fuel in three reactors at the plant was “slightly damaged.”
  • The trial calculations were made under the premise that the nuclear fuel at the plant’s No. 1 to No. 3 reactors would melt down entirely, developing into a so-called “China syndrome,” the worst-possible scenario.

Japan feared aftershocks at nuclear plant, report shows -Japan Today, Oct. 16

  • Japan feared three months after the Fukushima nuclear power plant was hit by a tsunami that aftershocks could further damage one of its fuel storage pools, causing rods inside to melt and spew radiation within hours, according to a newly released document.
  • The Japan Nuclear Energy Safety Organization said it carried out a simulation that showed some 1,500 mostly used fuel rods at the plants No. 4 reactor building could start breaking in two hours if aftershocks further damaged the pool and caused cooling water to escape. The fuel rods could start melting within eight hours, the organization said in a report dated June 30 and published Friday.
  • The report shows that the pool remained vulnerable for nearly four months until its operator completed reinforcement work in July. Tokyo Electric Power Co had said before then that the building could withstand major aftershocks without reinforcement, but made repairs after acknowledging structural damage and water leaks from the pool area.

Ministry of the Environment to Municipalities – Don’t Tell Anyone, Don’t Say No -EX-SKF, Oct. 16

  • As reported here a number of times, Japan’s Ministry of the Environment under Goshi Hosono (who is also in charge of the Fuku I nuclear accident) is more than ever eager to spread radiation throughout Japan by forcing the municipalities (except one – Tokyo – who will be happily burning the debris from Iwate after a bogus test of mixing radioactive debris with regular garbage to reduce the density of radioactive materials in the ashes) to accept disaster debris from Tohoku.
  • Someone in Japan uploaded the notice from the Ministry to the people in charge of waste disposal in the municipalities, dated October 7, 2011. It is a questionnaire that the Ministry wants the municipalities to fill and send back to the Ministry via email, asking about the current status in the municipalities on their effort to accept disaster debris. The Ministry wants to know how much debris they can take in, what types of debris, what type of disposal available. The similar survey was done several months ago, but since then the local oppositions have grown. So the Ministry wants to persuade the wavering municipalities.
  • The notice is not what the Ministry would put up on their website as “press release” because it is not a press release. Rather, it is a document only seen by local officials.

One Tokyo Neighborhood Still Oblivious to Radiation Hot Spot -VOA, Oct. 16

  • Residents in the greater Tokyo metropolitan area, the world’s most populous with about 33 million people, have taken radiation monitoring into their own hands. They are making some unexpected discoveries following the March tsunami damage to the Fukushima-1 nuclear power plant.
  • Just meters from where a hot spot of radioactive cesium was confirmed days before by a private laboratory, a Little League baseball game was underway Sunday.
  • The players, their parents and the spectators, mostly neighborhood residents, unaware that some of the dirt here has tested equivalent to four times the minimum level of the contaminated zones from the 1986 Chernobyl accident in Ukraine.
  • While the news about the Edogawa municipal ballpark complex had been reported overseas, including on the front page of Saturday’s New York Times, it had yet to be mentioned in Japan’s mainstream media.

Fukushima disaster can happen here -Miami Herald, Oct. 16

  • South Florida residents should take little comfort in assurances that a Fukushima-type catastrophe could not happen here. Similar claims were made after the Three Mile Island accident in 1979 and the Chernobyl disaster in 1986.
  • Simply put, in the aftermath of the earthquake and tsunami, widespread radioactive contamination occurred in Japan as a result of three electrical system failures. The first was a loss of electricity going to Fukushima. For safety reasons, nuclear reactors must get their operating electricity from offsite sources.
  • Second, the emergency electric generators failed.
  • The third system consisted of steam-driven pumps with battery-powered valves and controls. When the batteries ran down, all essential pumps became inoperative. Without cooling water to remove runaway heat buildup, the nuclear plant suffered multiple explosions and meltdowns unlike anything ever seen.
  • Turkey Point is just as reliant as Fukushima on offsite electricity, emergency electrical generators and batteries. Vulnerable equipment includes transmission lines, the switchyard, the cable spreading room and the control room. Electrical failures can be caused by accidents (explosions, fires, hurricanes, flooding) and by manmade incidents (sabotage, terrorism, hostile military actions).

Fukushima workers to win Spain’s Asturias award -NHK, Oct. 17

  • Five representatives of workers who helped to contain the nuclear crisis at the Fukushima Daiichi plant will attend a ceremony of Spain’s prestigious Prince of Asturias Awards next week.
  • This year’s award for concord will be given to police officers, firefighters, and Self-Defense Forces personnel who battled to cool the damaged reactors and helped to evacuate residents from around the plant.
  • The Prince of Asturias Awards were created in 1981. Individuals and organizations are annually honored for their achievements in scientific, cultural, and social fields.

Investigation of faults under nuclear plant to resume -Asahi Shimbun, Oct. 17

  • The Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency (NISA) will reopen its investigation into whether Tohoku Electric Power Co.’s Higashidori plant in Aomori Prefecture is sitting on active seismological faults.
  • Studies of faults underneath Higashidori, as well as faults at Hokkaido Electric Power Co.’s Tomari plant in Hokkaido and the Japan Atomic Power Co.-operated Tsuruga plant in Fukui Prefecture, were suspended following the nuclear accident at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant.
  • Tohoku Electric has insisted that the faults “would not trigger seismic activity in the future” and pose no safety risks to the single reactor plant, which is currently suspended for routine maintenance, but some experts at NISA are unconvinced.

Polyester covering installed at No.1 reactor -NHK, Oct. 17

  • A covering of thick polyester sheets has been attached to steel frames at the damaged No.1 reactor building at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant.
  • Tokyo Electric Power Company plans to complete the covering and verify its effectiveness by the end of October.
  • Release of the radioactive materials into the atmosphere needs to be reduced before residents who have evacuated can return to their homes.
  • TEPCO is considering installing covers on the No. 3 and 4 reactors which were also damaged.

Facing the reality of radioactive decontamination -Mainichi Perspectives, Oct. 17

  • Shinzo Kimura, an associate professor in radiation hygiene at Dokkyo Medical University, has stood at the forefront of radiation decontamination efforts in Japan, listening to residents living in areas of Fukushima that are heavily contaminated with radiation.
  • Kimura originally worked as a researcher at a corporation under the jurisdiction of the Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare, but the organization restrained him from conducting a survey in Fukushima right after the outbreak of the Fukushima No. 1 Nuclear Power Plant catastrophe, so he immediately quit. He entered the affected area on March 15, just four days after the March 11 quake and tsunami, and created a radiation contamination map based on his surveys. He also toured various areas offering support to residents.
  • “Decontamination is extremely difficult,” he says. “Without special equipment, even if someone worked frantically for two days to decontaminate his or her home, the amount of radioactive materials would only be reduced by about half.
  • “To decontaminate homes in hot areas (areas with localized high radiation levels), a space within a 100-meter radius of each home must also be decontaminated; otherwise radiation will not fall back down to 0.1 microsievert per hour (the level occurring naturally in the environment). In practical terms I think this is near impossible.”

Japan cities face growing radioactive ash, troubles ahead -Reuters, Oct. 17

  • In the Japanese city of Ohtawara, more than 100 km (62 miles) southwest of the crippled Fukushima nuclear plant, 400 tones of radioactive ash have piled up at a garbage incineration plant, which will run out of protected storage space in two weeks.
  • Further south, the city of Kashiwa has been forced to temporarily shut a high-tech incinerator because its advanced technology that minimizes the amount of ash produced has the side-effect of boosting the concentration of radiation.
  • In northern Japan, stored-up radioactive ash and dehydrated sludge from the sewage treatment process alone totaled 52,000 tones in mid-September, up 63 percent from levels at the end of July, data from the Transport Ministry showed.
  • The volume is still growing by about 360 tones a day.

Children in Fukushima return to schools after evacuation order lifted -Mainichi News, Oct. 17

  • The radiation doses on the school’s playground had dropped to 0.11 microsieverts per hour at a height of 50 centimeters above the ground as of Oct. 14 from 0.36 microsieverts in early August, thanks to decontamination efforts. Children will be urged to wear masks and long-sleeve shirts and trousers during P.E. classes.
  • “I want to let my children play outside, but I’m worried about radiation. I wish we could return to a state prior to the quake disaster as soon as possible,” said a 38-year-old mother of two boys who attend the school.
  • The five schools that reopened on Oct. 17 are among a total of 12 schools in the former evacuation preparation zone in Minamisoma – eight elementary schools and four junior high schools. Out of the remaining seven schools, four will resume classes during the third term, while three other schools have yet to decide when to reopen due to high radiation doses. The children of those schools have been commuting to other schools outside the former evacuation preparation zone by bus and other means of transportation.

UK government must work with industry on a long term nuclear plan, say experts -Energy Efficiency News, Oct. 17

  • The UK government must work with industry on a long-term nuclear strategy to avoid leaving future generations with a legacy of spent nuclear fuel to deal with, according to experts.
  • A report out last week from the Royal Society says that the UKs nuclear new build programme, which the government signalled is pressing ahead, must take into account reprocessing waste nuclear fuel and any inherent security and safety issues.
  • Adequate research and development programmes will be needed from the outset, says the report.
  • The last time any UK government articulated a coherent long-term plan for nuclear power was in 1955, says Roger Cashmore, chairman of the Royal Society working group and head of the UK Atomic Energy Authority. [A long-term, holistic strategy for nuclear power in the UK] must encompass the entire nuclear fuel cycle, from fresh fuel manufacture to disposal.

PSC to consider OK for nuclear cost recovery as repeal of practice is filed again -Florida Current, Oct. 17

  • The Florida Public Service Commission staff is recommending approval of more than $300 million requested by Florida Power & Light Co. and Progress Energy for planned new nuclear power plants and existing plant upgrades.
  • Florida Power & Light Co. this year requested approval of $196 million in cost recovery for upgrading nuclear units and for planning of two new nuclear units at Turkey Point. The average residential customer who now pays 33 cents per month now would pay $2.09 for nuclear charges in 2012, according to FPL.

California Nuclear Plants Face Uncertainties Says S&P Report -Reuters, Oct. 17

  • Many factors are converging to create additional risk for owners of California nuclear plants during the relicensing process, according to an article published today on RatingsDirect on the Global Credit Portal. “The Ground Shaking Reality For California’s Nuclear Power” notes that, in the wake of the Fukushima disaster, California is likely to carefully evaluate relicensing its two nuclear power plants.
  • “At most, utilities that own nuclear generation facilities have two to four years to develop alternatives to nuclear power if the plants are not relicensed,” said Standard & Poor’s credit analyst Anne Selting.
  • The reports delineates three possible outcomes of the current risk scenarios, the most serious of which is the possibility that a voter initiative now gathering signatures qualifies for the 2012 state ballot.

TEPCO reports measures to ensure cold shutdown -NHK, Oct. 17

  • Japan’s Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency had asked TEPCO to outline its nuclear safety measures over the coming 3 years.
  • The utility aims to bring temperatures at all its reactors to below 100 degrees Celsius over the next few months.
  • It said on Monday that additional pumps to inject water into the nuclear reactors would be set up inside turbine buildings, and existing hoses replaced with stronger ones.
  • The utility maintains that even if an earthquake and tsunami were to halt the water-injection systems, they could be resumed within 12 hours to prevent major accidents.

Fukushima Radiation Release Falls to 100 Million Becquerels/Hour -Bloomberg, Oct. 17

  • The amount of radiation being released by the damaged reactors at Japans crippled Fukushima nuclear plant has fallen to about 8 million times less than at the height of the disaster, Tokyo Electric Power Co. said.
  • The three reactors are emitting about 100 million becquerels an hour, the company known as Tepco said in a monthly update on its so-called roadmap for resolving the worst civil nuclear crisis since Chernobyl in 1986. The update was released today in Tokyo.

Photos released by TEPCO show huge piles of used radioactive gear -Mainichi News, Oct. 17

  • Photos released by the Tokyo Electric Power Co. (TEPCO) show huge piles of plastic bags containing used radioactive gear and other radioactively contaminated waste at a facility near the Fukushima No. 1 Nuclear Power Plant.
  • The photos show a vast number of bags piled about five meters tall. According to TEPCO, there are currently around 4,000 cubic meters of the waste piled up.
  • Photos taken with an infrared camera over the No. 1 and 3 reactor buildings were also released. They were taken with a camera attached to a crane, as radiation levels in the buildings are too high for people to enter them.
  • According to TEPCO, the hottest spot photographed of the No. 1 reactor building was around 35 degrees Celsius, and the hottest spot for the No. 3 reactor building was around 40 degrees Celsius. They believe these hot areas were due to steam escaping from small openings in the concrete lids of the reactors’ containment vessels. The average temperature of the reactor buildings’ exteriors was around 20 degrees Celsius.

Irans nuclear program suffering new setbacks, diplomats and experts say -Washington Post, Oct. 17

  • Irans nuclear program, which stumbled badly after a reported cyberattack last year, appears beset by poorly performing equipment, shortages of parts and other woes as global sanctions exert a mounting toll, Western diplomats and nuclear experts say.
  • The new setbacks are surfacing at a time when Iran faces growing international pressure, including allegations that Iranian officials backed a clumsy attempt to kill a Saudi diplomat in Washington. Analysts say Iran has become increasingly frustrated and erratic as political change sweeps the region and its nuclear program struggles.
  • Although Iran continues to stockpile enriched uranium in defiance of U.N. resolutions, two new reports portray the countrys nuclear program as riddled with problems as scientists struggle to keep older equipment working.

Revising evacuation status -NHK, Oct. 17

  • Japan will begin discussions earlier than originally planned on redefining which areas are subject to evacuation orders.
  • Such discussions became feasible on Monday when the government and Tokyo Electric Power Company, at their monthly progress review, revised their timetable for bringing the nuclear crisis under control.
  • According to the revised plan, the second stage, involving a state of cold shutdown of the reactors at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, will be achieved by the end of this year, one month earlier than originally targeted.

Criteria for ‘cold shutdown’ of Fukushima nuclear plant remain vague and ambiguous -Mainichi News, Oct. 18

  • The government and Tokyo Electric Power Co. (TEPCO) unveiled a revised roadmap to contain the crippled nuclear reactors at the Fukushima No. 1 Nuclear Power Plant on Oct. 17, clearly stipulating that they would aim for a stable condition called a “cold shutdown” of the reactors by the end of this year, but the criteria used to thrash out the work schedule are vague and ambiguous.
  • It is still not clear whether they can judge that they have achieved a cold shutdown only by checking the temperatures of the bottoms of reactor pressure vessels. On the assessment of the amounts of radioactive substances being released from the nuclear reactors, the government and TEPCO, the operator of the troubled Fukushima nuclear complex, must come up with more detailed data than “provisional figures” in order to say definitely that they have “achieved” a cold shutdown. Furthermore, the government and TEPCO failed to show any direction on the timing of lifting of evacuation advisories – the final goal of the nuclear disaster response roadmap, let alone prospects for measures that should be taken after a cold shutdown is achieved.

TEPCO identifies risks that could cause meltdown -NHK, Oct. 18

  • The operator of the damaged Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant says the water-injection system, which has external pipes, is the area that’s most likely to cause possible problems in future.
  • The external system was built as an emergency response to the meltdown that occurred after the March 11 disaster.
  • Tokyo Electric Power Company has calculated the risks to the water-injection system which could lead to the cooling water supply being stopped, resulting in another meltdown.

TEPCO failed to act on 10% probability assessment for worst-case tsunami -Kyodo, Oct. 18

Japan still considering total nuclear power pullout -Washington Post, Oct. 18

  • Japan has not ruled out the possibility of complete closure of its nuclear power stations as one option for the countrys future energy policy after the worlds worst nuclear accident in 25 years, economy minister Yukio Edano said.
  • I am certain that we are going to reduce nuclear power generation but whether we are going to reduce it to zero is a separate issue, Edano, the economy, trade and industry minister told Reuters on the sidelines of a ministerial meeting hosted by the International Energy Agency in Paris.
  • Asked whether pulling out of nuclear was being considered, Edano said: Yes, it is still under consideration.

High radioactivity measured at Tokyo school -NHK, Oct. 18

  • A radioactivity level higher than that of areas near the crippled Fukushima nuclear power plant has been detected at a Tokyo elementary school.
  • A level of 3-point-99 microsieverts per hour was observed 5 centimeters above ground just beneath a rainwater pipe on Monday at the school in Tokyo’s Adachi Ward. Radiation levels in Fukushima City about 60 kilometers from the plant were around 1 microsievert per hour on Monday. The ward is about 210 kilometers from the plant.

Schools restart in ex-emergency evacuation zones -Yomiuri, Oct. 18

  • Five primary and middle schools in Mimami-Soma, Fukushima Prefecture, restarted classes in their hometown Monday for the first time since the government dissolved emergency evacuation preparation zones that included all or part of five municipalities in the prefecture.
  • Currently, 887 students belong to the three primary schools and two middle schools in the town’s Haramachi district, down from 2,173 students before the March 11 earthquake and tsunami.
  • Some parents drove their children to school, apparently due to the risk of radiation exposure. This trend was particularly evident at the primary schools. Many children also wore masks.
  • Haramachi Daini Middle School announced a new class allocation for first-year students. The school had been used as an evacuation center, so the students carried desks and chairs to their classrooms by themselves.
  • The five schools have limited outdoor activities to two hours each day to reduce the children’s exposure to radiation. The schools also require pupils to wear long-sleeved shirts and pants as well as masks when they go out for physical education classes and other occasions.

Decontamination starts in Fukushima city -NHK, Oct. 18

  • Under the plan, professional cleaners commissioned by the city will scrub radioactive substances from roofs and ditches of the houses with high-pressure equipment.
  • The garden soil will be removed and all the roads used by elementary and junior high school students and nearby forests will be decontaminated as well.
  • The city has hired professional cleaners for areas with relatively high radiation levels and for work on roofs and other dangerous places, but residents and volunteers will be required to remove the rest by themselves.
  • It has yet to be determined how to dispose of the contaminated sludge and the government is under pressure to come up with a solution soon.

This Is How “Decontamination” Is Done, and To Be Done in Fukushima [VIDEO] -EX-SKF, Oct. 18

  • As Prime Minister Noda looked on, workers contracted by Fukushima City “decontaminated” a relatively new-looking residence in Onami District in Fukushima City on October 18. It is to be served as “model decontamination” for the rest of the district, as well as for the city.
  • It amounts to nothing more than power washing to “move” radioactive materials from one place to another.
  • Onami District of Fukushima City, along with another district (Watari District), has high air radiation and soil contamination. In the “model decontamination” work done by the city in August, the radiation hardly went down, while in several locations it went up. Quite a “model decontamination”. It is probably a model distribution of government money among well-connected contractors.

Ron Paul and Mitt Romney’s Nuclear Waste Disposal Plan: Free Markets!!! [VIDEO] -Crooks and Liars, Oct. 18

  • When questioned by Anderson Cooper about the Yucca Mountain nuclear waste dump, Ron Paul and Mitt Romney agree: Let the free markets dictate where to dispose of it. Ron Paul goes one step further by saying that property rights and states’ rights should dictate where it goes.
  • Because I’m certain all 50 states will be lining up to buy their right to a little nuclear waste, right?
  • There are some things that just shouldn’t be market-based. Nuclear waste disposal is one of them.

TEPCO to ask gov’t for 700 bil. yen to meet compensation needs -Kyodo, Oct. 18

Noda, tear down this ‘nuclear village’ -Japan Times, Oct. 18

  • Dear Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda, The Great East Japan Earthquake was a catastrophe of apocalyptic proportions. While the quake and tsunami did tremendous damage to Tohoku, the triple meltdowns at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant did even more harm to the country by threatening the health of the population, weakening Japan’s economy, and tarnishing Japan’s reputation as an efficient and safe country.
  • However, the disaster also represents a once-in-a-lifetime chance for Japan to reinvent itself.
  • Looking at the damage wrought by Fukushima No. 1, it is clear that Japan must eliminate nuclear power. Japan has too many earthquakes and tsunamis to operate nuclear plants safely. However, the most important reasons to eliminate nuclear power in Japan are human, not geological. Foremost among these human factors is Japan’s peculiar industrial-bureaucratic partnership.
  • The following is a brief list of reasons why nuclear power plants cannot be operated safely in Japan.

Q+A-What’s going on at Japan’s crippled nuclear power plant? -Reuters, Oct. 18


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New TEPCO Photographs Substantiate Significant Damage to Fukushima Unit 3 [VIDEO] -Fairewinds, Oct. 19

  • Analysis of new Fukushima 3 photographs released last week by TEPCO substantiate Fairewinds claim that explosion of Unit 3 began over the spent fuel pool. Fairewinds believes that significant damage has also occurred to the containment system of Fukushima Unit 3, and that the two events (fuel pool explosion and containment breach) did not occur simultaneously. Video also includes brief discussion of tent system being constructed over Fukushima Unit 1.

New TEPCO Photographs Substantiate Significant Damage to Fukushima Unit 3 from Fairewinds Associates on Vimeo.

Japan to Open Hotlines to Allay Public Concerns Over Radiation -Bloomberg, Oct. 19

  • Japans government will issue guidelines on testing for radiation and open call centers for the public after more so-called hotspots were found in Tokyo and other areas far from the wrecked Fukushima nuclear plant.
  • The guidelines will provide advice on using dosimeters to improve the consistency of surveys, Hirotaka Oku, an official handling the response to the Fukushima disaster at the science ministry said by phone. The guidelines will be issued as early as Oct. 22, he said.

What are officials hiding about Fukushima? -Vancouver Straight, Oct. 20

  • After the Chernobyl nuclear disaster in 1986, Soviet officials were vilified for hiding the impacts from the public.
  • But when Japans Fukushima nuclear accident took place last March, public officials in Japan and Canada alike jumped straight into Chernobyl-style damage-control mode, dismissing any worries about impacts.
  • Now evidence has emerged that the radiation in Canada was worse than Canadian officials ever let on.
  • A Health Canada monitoring station in Calgary detected radioactive material in rainwater that exceeded Canadian guidelines during the month of March, according to Health Canada data obtained by the Georgia Straight.
  • Canadian government officials didnt disclose the high radiation readings to the public. Instead, they repeatedly insisted that fallout drifting to Canada was negligible and posed no health concerns.

US NRC to use safety steps learned from Fukushima -Reuters, Oct. 20

  • The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission will immediately begin implementing seven safety recommendations from an agency task force that developed them after studying Japan’s Fukushima reactor disaster, the NRC said on Thursday.
  • The seven recommendations are among 12 presented by the task force in July, the NRC said in a release on Thursday.
  • “My colleagues and I expect that within five years, and significantly sooner in some cases, the staff will have enhanced our already robust safety standards by carrying out these recommendations,” NRC Chairman Gregory Jaczko said in the statement.

Pakistan repairs nuclear power plant leak -Nuclear Power Daily, Oct. 20

  • Pakistani officials were forced Thursday to repair a leak in its oldest nuclear power plant, lying on the outskirts of its economic hub Karachi on the Arabian Sea coast, an official said.
  • “An emergency had been declared yesterday after leakage of heavy water was reported,” a Karachi Nuclear Power Plant (KANUPP) official told AFP.
  • KANUPP is the oldest nuclear power plant in the nuclear-armed nation. It is owned and operated by state-run Pakistan Atomic Energy Commission and has been in commercial operation since 1972.

Fukushima assembly OKs reactor decommission -NHK, Oct. 20

  • The assembly of Fukushima prefecture has adopted a petition calling for the scrapping of all 10 nuclear reactors in the prefecture. The prefecture hosts two Tokyo Electric Power Company-run nuclear stations, one of them severely damaged by the March disaster.
  • The petition adopted by a majority vote on Thursday was submitted by a civic group in June, following the nuclear accident at the Fukushima Daiichi power plant.
  • The petition urges the decommissioning of all reactors run by Tokyo Electric Power in the prefecture – six at the Daiichi plant and four at the Daini plant.
  • This is the first time in Japan that a prefecture hosting nuclear plants has voted to adopt such a petition.

Greenpeace criticises Japan radiation screening -AFP, Oct. 20

  • Greenpeace called on Tokyo to toughen radiation screening and food labelling rules on Thursday after it said low levels of radiation had been detected in seafood sold at Japanese stores.
  • The environmental pressure group said it tested 60 seafood samples bought at stores in eastern Japan operated by five major supermarket chains and found 34 of them with radioactive caesium-134 and caesium-137.
  • The survey discovered readings of up to 88 becquerel per kilogram with the radiation believed to be from the ongoing nuclear accident.

Robot Quince Found High Radiation on 5th Floor of Reactor 2, and Was Lost -EX-SKF, Oct. 20

  • Reactors 1 through 3 at Fukushima I Nuclear Power Plant continue to have high radiation levels, too high for humans to work for any length of time effectively. The Japanese robot Quince entered the Reactor 2 building to survey the radiation and temperature on October 20.
  • Following is my quick report on the October 20 press conference (I watched the video).
  • Quince entered and measured radiation for the first time on the 3rd, 4th and 5th floor of the reactor building since the accident.
  • TEPCO’s Matsumoto said that Reactor 3 had the highest radiation level (many spots exceeding 100 millisieverts/hour), Reactor 2 second, then Reactor 1.

Most detailed radioactive contamination maps yet published online -Mainichi News, Oct. 20

  • The most detailed government maps yet of cesium concentrations and radiation levels stemming from the crisis-stricken Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant are now available online.
  • The Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology site (link below) went live on Oct. 18 with both web-based and PDF versions of the maps, providing not only information by municipality as had been the case previously, but measurements by district.

Panel proposes widening nuclear evacuation perimeter to 30 km -Mainichi News, Oct. 20

  • The secretariat of the Nuclear Safety Commission of Japan proposed on Thursday expanding the maximum evacuation perimeter around a nuclear power plant to a 30-kilometer radius from the current 10 km in the event of a future nuclear accident.
  • The secretariat also proposed newly designating a 5-km radius around a nuclear plant as a zone from which people should immediately be evacuated following a plant accident.

Radiation map gives close-up fallout readings -Japan Times, Oct. 20

  • The website, – http://ramap.jaea.go.jp/map/, launched by the Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology Ministry is now available in Japanese only.
  • The map shows measurements of radiation and radioactive cesium taken from aircraft in 10 prefectures, including Tokyo and Fukushima, between April and September. It also includes data the ministry collected from soil samples at around 2,200 sites in Fukushima Prefecture and radiation levels within a 100-km radius of the power plant.

Japan to spend at least $13 bln for decontamination -Reuters, Oct. 20

  • Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda said the government will spend at least 1 trillion yen ($13 billion) to clean up vast areas contaminated by radiation from the world’s worst nuclear disaster since Chernobyl.
  • “At least 1 trillion yen will be budgeted as we take on the responsibility for decontamination,” Noda said in an interview with public broadcaster NHK on Thursday.
  • “It is a prerequisite for people to return to their homelands.”

7 Microsieverts/Hr Radiation Measured in Matsudo City, Chiba -EX-SKF, Oct. 20

  • According to Mainichi Shinbun (linked and translated below), the group of Japanese Communist Party assemblymen in Matsudo City in Chiba Prefecture released the result of their radiation survey of 144 locations in the city, and found 37 locations with over 1 microsievert/hour radiation. The highest was 7 microsieverts/hour. If you stand on the spot 24 hours a day for one year, you would get 61 millisieverts of external radiation.
  • Matsudo City, located on the western edge of Chiba Prefecture, are one of the cities and towns that have relatively high overall radiation in Kanto. (The map (version 4) is by Professor Yukio Hayakawa of Gunma University. Matsudo City is circled in red.)
  • The Communist Party assemblymen in the Tokyo Metropolitan Assembly did the similar survey of Tokyo back in May, which helped force the Tokyo government to start monitoring radiation in more details.

Critics urge Japan to widen nuclear evacuation zone -Monsters and Critics, Oct. 20

  • Scientists, environmentalists and citizens groups have called for Japanese authorities to evacuate more areas in the wake of March’s nuclear accident after finding wider radiation contamination than officially reported.
  • Researchers have found up to 6.15 million becquerels per square metre of soil in Fukushima city, 60 kilometres north-west of a nuclear power plant that has been leaking radioactive material into the environment since it was damaged in an earthquake and tsunami in the spring.
  • The measurement is four times higher than the levels used to declare mandatory evacuation areas around Chernobyl, Ukraine, after the 1986 nuclear accident there, the Japanese branch of the environmental organization Friends of the Earth said.

Seven months on, Japan yet to finalize nuclear evacuation plan -Reuters, Oct. 21

  • It is considering creating a 30-km (18-mile) radius around nuclear power plants where residents should be ready to take shelter or prepare to evacuate, a draft document compiled by the NSC secretariat and released by the NSC on Thursday showed.
  • This compares with a current zone of a radius up to 10 km.
  • It is also considering recommending that local authorities in a 50-km radius from plants be prepared to provide iodine tablets that help prevent thyroid cancers from radiation exposure.
  • The committee is planning to revise the draft document and finalize recommendations on evacuation zones next month. It plans to come up with a mid-term review this year, while it may take years to fully revise the guidelines, an official at the NSC secretariat said.

Japan to test cedar pollen for radiation in Fukushima -Kyodo, Oct. 21

2 boys in Fukushima Pref. internally exposed to radiation -Kyodo, Oct. 21

Dominion says Va. North Anna nuke ready to return -Reuters, oct. 21

  • Virginia based power company Dominion said Friday it was ready to restart the 1,806-megawatt North Anna nuclear power plant as soon as federal nuclear regulators grant permission.
  • The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) is holding a meeting at its headquarters in Rockville, Maryland, on Friday to hear presentations from Dominion and NRC officials on what Dominion may still need to do before restarting the nuclear plant.
  • Dominion said it spent about $21 million on its inspection, testing and analysis program, including repairs, since the earthquake occurred.

Monticello nuclear plant automatically shuts down -KARE 11, Oct. 21

  • Operators of the Monticello nuclear power plant are investigating what caused a transformer to lock out, prompting the plant to automatically shut down.
  • Xcel Energy says the plant shut down safely Friday afternoon. The company says the shutdown was not expected to last long. Xcel Energy spokeswoman Patti Nystuen says the process of getting the plant back online had not started as of 7:15 p.m. Friday.
  • Xcel says the transformer lockout briefly interrupted non-safety-related power from the grid to part of the site. The company says all plant safety systems functioned as designed, and there is no danger to the public or plant workers.
  • The 600-megawatt plant is located about 40 miles northwest of Minneapolis.

Chiba Pref. city finds major radioactive hot spot on public land -Mainichi News, Oct. 22

  • Officials here announced Oct. 21 the city government has discovered a hot spot emitting extremely high radiation of 57.5 microsieverts per hour on a plot of public land in a residential district.
  • The new hot spot was found within a radius of just one meter. Radiation levels in Kashiwa and its vicinity are relatively high because of the effects of the ongoing Fukushima nuclear crisis, but the latest discovery of such an intense hot spot in the city’s Nedokoyadai district came as a surprise. City radiation task force chief Seiichi Someya speculates, “It’s hard to imagine that it is due to effects” of the Fukushima crisis.

Two boys found with high internal radiation exposure -Japan Times, Oct. 22

  • Two boys in Fukushima Prefecture have been internally exposed to the highest levels of radiation among the nearly 4,500 residents who were checked amid the nuclear crisis.
  • The level of exposure is estimated to be equivalent to 3 millisieverts during their lifetime, which is not expected to harm their health, prefectural officials said Thursday.
  • The local government has not disclosed the boys’ exact ages, saying only that they are between 4 and 7 years old.
  • Both boys are from the town of Futaba, which partly hosts the crippled Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant. The two had the highest levels of internal exposure among 4,463 residents tested between June 27 and Sept. 30 in 13 high-risk municipalities, the officials said.
  • Among others tested, eight people measured 2 millisieverts, six registered 1 millisievert and the remaining 4,447 residents had less than 1 millisievert, they said.

Gov’t cost-cutting unit to study Monju reactor’s abolition -Mainichi News, Oct. 22

  • A government panel tasked with cutting wasteful spending will examine whether the trouble-hit Monju prototype fast-breeder reactor should be decommissioned when it screens government projects in late November, sources familiar with the matter said Friday.
  • The Government Revitalization Unit will take up the issue, among other topics, amid growing calls for decommissioning the reactor in the wake of the Fukushima nuclear crisis triggered by the March 11 earthquake and tsunami, the sources said.
  • The Monju reactor in Fukui Prefecture and related research have been regarded as key to realizing Japan’s nuclear fuel cycle, in which spent nuclear fuel from power plants would be reprocessed for reuse as plutonium-uranium mixed oxide, or MOX, fuel.
  • The reactor project, on which the country has so far spent around 940 billion yen, has been hobbled by a series of problems. The reactor first achieved criticality in 1994 but was shut down because of a sodium coolant leakage and resulting fire in 1995.
  • The reactor resumed operation in May last year after being idled for 14 years and five months, but after experiencing trouble in August last year, the launch of full operations was delayed.

Nuclear reactor in southern Sweden closed after oil spill fire -Washington Post, Oct. 23

Mitsubishi Military, Nuclear Plant Info May Have Been Hacked-Kyodo -FOX Business, Oct. 24

Kashiwa hot spot linked to Fukushima -Japan Times, Oct. 24

  • The science ministry said Sunday that the high radiation detected on city-owned land in Kashiwa, Chiba Prefecture, is emanating from cesium that was probably ejected by the crippled Fukushima nuclear plant, contradicting the city’s earlier claims.
  • When the Kashiwa Municipal Government first got wind of an airborne radiation reading of 57.7 microsieverts per hour at the site, it said the radiation was unlikely to be related to the Fukushima disaster as it was in such a tiny area.
  • On Sunday, the ministry and city workers found a side ditch near the spot during a joint survey and said it is highly likely that rainwater tainted by fallout from the Fukushima plant flowed into nearby soil.
  • “The possibility is high that cesium carried in rain water condensed and accumulated in the soil,” said Takao Nakaya, heads of the science and education ministry’s radiation regulation office.

Kashiwa’s hot spot just one of many to come, expert says -Japan Times, Oct. 24

  • The hot spot discovered in Kashiwa, Chiba Prefecture, has local residents alarmed now that the science ministry has confirmed the source of the radiation is probably fallout from the Fukushima No. 1 power plant.
  • But another radiation expert warns that there are more hot spots to come.
  • Masahiro Fukushi warned citizens Monday that more hot spots can be found where rainwater accumulates, like near the ditch in Kashiwa, and urged them to go out and take readings of such places in their neighborhoods on their own, instead of waiting around for the government’s plodding surveys.

Hotspot hotline -NHK, Oct. 24

  • Japan’s science ministry has launched a telephone hotline to deal with public concerns about radiation exposure in areas outside Fukushima Prefecture. The prefecture hosts the damaged nuclear complex.
  • The ministry is asking local governments and citizens’ groups to tell it if they find sites where the hourly radiation dose at one meter above the ground is more than one microsievert higher than nearby areas.

Govt to check Fukushima pollen / Cedar pollen may carry cesium on the wind, but at ‘harmless’ levels -Yomiuri, Oct. 24

  • The Forestry Agency will start checking for radioactive substances in cedar pollen in Fukushima Prefecture as early as next month in response to the crisis at Tokyo Electric Power Co.’s Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant, the agency said.
  • There is very little data in Japan or elsewhere in the world about pollen from plants grown in areas with high levels of radiation. If high levels of pollen-borne radiation are found, the Environment Ministry plans to release the data at the end of this year together with its forecast of the expected amount of cedar pollen to be dispersed in the air next spring.
  • The agency plans to pick male cedar flowers in the no-entry zone and check them for radioactive cesium, it said.
  • “As it will be the first such survey, we honestly don’t know how much we will find. We’d like to obtain objective figures by making an accurate survey,” an official of the agency said.

Expert: Radioactive materials reached Kanto via 2 routes -Asahi, Oct. 24

  • Hiromi Yamazawa, a professor of environmental radiology at Nagoya University, said the first radioactive plume moved through Ibaraki Prefecture and turned northward to Gunma Prefecture between late March 14 and the afternoon of March 15.
  • Large amounts of radioactive materials were released during that period partly because the core of the No. 2 reactor at the Fukushima No. 1 plant was exposed.
  • “The soil was likely contaminated after the plume fell to the ground with rain or snow,” Yamazawa said, adding that western Saitama Prefecture and western Tokyo may have been also contaminated.
  • Rain fell in Fukushima, Tochigi and Gunma prefectures from the night of March 15 to the early morning of March 16, according to the Meteorological Agency.
  • The second plume moved off Ibaraki Prefecture and passed through Chiba Prefecture between the night of March 21 and the early morning of March 22, when rain fell in a wide area of the Kanto region, according to Yamazawa’s estimates.

Parts of TEPCO’s accident manuals made public -NHK, Oct. 24

  • These are the manuals that the operator of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant earlier submitted to the Lower House with most of the contents blacked out. The company had insisted the information had to be kept secret in order to protect its intellectual property rights, and because disclosure could open its facilities to terrorist attack.
  • Based on the law, the nuclear safety agency ordered TEPCO to resubmit the manuals without redaction.
  • The 200 pages of documents released on Monday are from the accident procedural manuals used for Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant. All their contents were made public, except for individuals’ names.
  • The documents show that TEPCO had not made sufficient preparations to cope with critical nuclear accidents.

Nuke energy experts discuss technological issues -NHK, Oct. 24

  • Nuclear energy experts will be organizing a summary of lessons learned from the Fukushima plant accident. The Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency brought together the 6 specialists for their first panel meeting on Monday.
  • During the meeting, the group emphasized that Japanese nuclear power plants should have multiple power sources. They said the plants would then be able to maintain electricity during an earthquake or other emergency.

Local gov’ts struggle to secure radioactive waste sites amid residential opposition; survey -Mainichi News, Oct. 24

  • Nuclear disaster minister Goshi Hosono has explained to mayors in Fukushima Prefecture that the duration for contaminated materials to be stored temporarily in local municipalities until midterm storage facilities are completed will be part of a time schedule to be laid out by the central government. Hosono has also indicated that national forests will be used as temporary storage sites. “It’s taken far too long, but it’s still a step forward. It will lead to securing temporary storage sites,” an official with a city in Fukushima Prefecture said of Hosono’s plan.
  • About 80 percent of municipalities surveyed said they “have no idea how much time and money will be needed” to complete their decontamination efforts assuming that such efforts go smoothly. Only 11 municipalities gave specific answers for the question.
  • The Fukushima Prefecture village of Iitate aims to wrap up decontamination of its land, with the exception of wilderness areas like mountains and forests, in two years at a cost of 322.4 billion yen, according to a plan it decided upon in September. The prefectural village of Nishigo said it will take “at least five years” for decontamination work there to finish, while expressing concern over whether the central government will decontaminate nationally-owned land, which comprises 30 percent of the village’s land area. “Unless the central government is actively engaged, decontamination of state-owned land won’t make progress,” said an official with the village.
  • Among 106 municipalities outside Fukushima Prefecture that responded to the survey, 52 percent said they will work on decontamination. An official with a ward office in Tokyo, however, said it has been unable to completely address ward residents’ fears about radiation and decontamination due to lack of knowledge.

Residents to file suit seeking halt of Tsuruga reactors -Mainichi News, Oct. 24

  • A group of residents from Shiga and nearby prefectures plan to file a lawsuit to suspend the restart of two nuclear reactors at the Tsuruga plant in neighboring Fukui Prefecture, arguing an accident at the plant would contaminate Lake Biwa, their water source, and be life-threatening, according to sources involved in the suit.
  • Among the plaintiffs’ lawyers is former judge Kenichi Ido, who in 2006 issued the first and only ruling in Japan to order the suspension of a nuclear reactor. The group plans to file for an injunction at the Otsu District Court in Shiga probably by the end of this month.
  • The plaintiffs argue that Tsuruga’s Nos. 1 and 2 reactors, which have been halted for routine checks, must not be restarted until lessons are learned from the crisis at the radiation-spilling Fukushima Daiichi power plant and inspections are completed under a set of new standards and regulations, the sources said.

Edano tells TEPCO to cut ‘at least’ 2.5 tril. yen in costs -Mainichi News, Oct. 24

  • Industry minister Yukio Edano on Monday instructed Tokyo Electric Power Co. to commit to cutting “at least” 2.5 trillion yen in costs over 10 years before receiving funds to help it pay compensation over the nuclear crisis at its Fukushima Daiichi power plant.
  • The target was included in a third-party panel report submitted to the government on Oct. 3, which would be reflected in Tokyo Electric’s special business plan to be compiled as a precondition to receive financial aid from a state-backed body set up to help it meet its massive compensation obligations.
  • Tokyo Electric President Toshio Nishizawa told reporters after his talks with Edano, “We will take the minister’s words sincerely and steadily implement (what we are told to do).”

Fla. customers will pay $282M for nuclear upgrades -Bloomberg, Oct. 25

  • Customers of Florida’s two largest electric utilities will pay $282 million next year to upgrade nuclear power plants and build new ones even if those projects are never completed.
  • State regulators on Monday turned aside objections from some consumers and their advocates who argued that policy is unfair.
  • The Public Service Commission approved the full $196 million that Florida Power & Light Co., a unit of NextEra Energy Inc., sought for pre-construction expenses. The five-member panel, though, agreed to cut Progress Energy Florida’s $141 million request by about $55 million, or nearly 40 percent. The votes were unanimous in each case.

Tsunami steps saved Tokai from meltdown -Japan Times, Oct. 25

  • A nuclear plant in Ibaraki Prefecture run by Japan Atomic Power Co. managed to avoid a total power loss during the March 11 earthquake and tsunami thanks to a sea wall it was in the process of building higher, sources said.
  • A government panel probing the meltdown at the Fukushima No. 1 power plant is analyzing measures taken by the manager of the Tokai No. 2 atomic plant on the assumption that the absence of the sea wall extension measure would have led to a similar disaster, a source close to the panel said.
  • Japan Atomic Power concluded in 2002 that to prepare the plant in Tokai, Ibaraki Prefecture, for potential tsunami, waves as high as 4.86 meters should be expected based on the evaluation technology used by the Japan Society of Civil Engineers, it said.
  • But the Ibaraki Prefectural Government requested that the utility re-evaluate the estimate after its own tsunami projection, made public in October 2007, showed waves in nearby areas could reach 7 meters, the company said.
  • Japan Atomic Power then changed its wave level assumption to 5.7 meters and started work to extend the Tokai plant’s 4.9-meter sea wall to 6.1 meters in July 2009 to protect the seawater pumps that cool the emergency diesel generator.

Fallout forensics hike radiation toll -Nature News, Oct. 25

  • The disaster at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant in March released far more radiation than the Japanese government has claimed. So concludes a study1 that combines radioactivity data from across the globe to estimate the scale and fate of emissions from the shattered plant.
  • The study also suggests that, contrary to government claims, pools used to store spent nuclear fuel played a significant part in the release of the long-lived environmental contaminant caesium-137, which could have been prevented by prompt action. The analysis has been posted online for open peer review by the journal Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics.
  • Stohl believes that the discrepancy between the team’s results and those of the Japanese government can be partly explained by the larger data set used. Japanese estimates rely primarily on data from monitoring posts inside Japan3, which never recorded the large quantities of radioactivity that blew out over the Pacific Ocean, and eventually reached North America and Europe. “Taking account of the radiation that has drifted out to the Pacific is essential for getting a real picture of the size and character of the accident,” says Tomoya Yamauchi, a radiation physicist at Kobe University who has been measuring radioisotope contamination in soil around Fukushima.

Radiation research suggested as way to keep released livestock near nuclear plant alive -Mainichi News, Oct. 25

  • Pursuing research on radiation’s effects on animals has been suggested as a way to keep livestock animals roaming the no-entry zone near the disaster-hit Fukushima No. 1 Nuclear Power Plant from being killed or starving in the harsh winter.
  • Nearly 2,000 cows and other livestock are estimated to still be in the 20-kilometer radius no-entry zone around the crippled power plant.
  • The plan is being pushed by members of the citizens’ group “Kibo-no-Bokujo – Fukushima Project” (ranch of hope – Fukushima project). On Oct. 21, around 30 people including local livestock farmers, government legislators and veterinarians met in Koriyama, Fukushima Prefecture, to discuss the issue.

Nuclear fuel recycling costs -NHK, Oct. 26

  • Japan’s Atomic Energy Commission says it may cost twice as much to recycle nuclear fuel for power generation as it would to discard the spent fuel as waste.
  • At a meeting on Tuesday, the commission calculated the cost of recycling spent nuclear fuel and extracting plutonium. The cost was estimated at 1.98 to 2.14 yen per kilowatt-hour of electricity generated.
  • The cost of discarding the spent fuel as waste was about 1 to 1.35 yen per kilowatt-hour.
  • This is about half the cost of recycling nuclear fuel, which has been a pillar of Japan’s nuclear policy.

Accidents add to expense of N-power / Damage may cost 1.1 yen per kilowatt-hour -Yomiuri, Oct. 26

  • The cost needed to prepare for future major accidents at nuclear power plants will be 1.1 yen per kilowatt-hour, or about 20 percent of the cost of generating nuclear power under the current system, according to the Japan Atomic Energy Commission.
  • Estimates released by a subcommittee of the commission Tuesday set the probability of a severe accident occurring at any one of Japan’s nuclear reactors at once in as much as 500 years. The likely amount of damage caused by such an accident would be 3.89 trillion yen per reactor, the estimates said.
  • It was the first time a government body has estimated the cost of nuclear accidents.

Tepco Expects To Book Y580 Billion Net Loss This Fiscal Year -Report -FOX Business, Oct. 26

  • Tokyo Electric Power Co. (9501.TO) expects to book a net loss of Y580 billion in the current fiscal year ending March 2012, the Asahi Shimbun reported in its Thursday morning edition.
  • Heavily weighing on the troubled utility are the costs of tackling the nuclear accident at its Fukushima Daiichi plant and the extra expense of switching to thermal power generation to make up for the loss of output from offline nuclear reactors, the report says.
  • Compensation payments to those affected by the nuclear accident are seen reaching around Y700 billion for this fiscal year, the report said.
  • Compensation payments will be recorded as a special loss, the Asahi said, but the same figure will be provided by the government-backed nuclear compensation body and logged as a special gain.

Municipalities divided over nuke plants restart -NHK, Oct. 26

  • 44 of 54 nuclear reactors in Japan are currently offline. They have no prospects of being restarted soon after data errors were found in safety stress tests required before bringing them back online.
  • Complicating the issue is the manipulation of public opinion on nuclear power at explanatory meetings for local residents that came to light in summer.
  • Some municipalities demanded the restart of reactors to benefit their economies after their safety is confirmed.
  • But others remained cautious, preventing the association from reaching a conclusion.

Food safety fair features radiation monitors -NHK, Oct. 26

  • An annual food safety exhibition has opened in Tokyo with devices for measuring radiation on display for the first time.
  • Machines that use a conveyor belt to run food past a radiation sensor proved very popular on Wednesday. They can check an item’s radiation level in 12 seconds, which means a number of foods can be tested in a short time.
  • The devices are in high demand from farmers’ cooperatives, beef processors and restaurant chains, despite a minimum price tag of 56,000 dollars.

High levels of radiation detected at 2 schools in Chiba Prefecture -Mainichi News, Oct. 26

  • High levels of radiation have been detected on the premises of two elementary schools here, local education authorities have revealed.
  • According to the Abiko Municipal Board of Education, 11.3 microsieverts of radiation per hour was detected just above the surface of the ground near a ditch in the compounds of the Abiko Municipal Daiichi Elementary School on Sept. 15. The amount was 1.7 microsieverts in the air 50 centimeters above the ground.
  • Soil had piled up in the ditch, which had been damaged by growing tree roots, a situation similar to a residential area of the Chiba Prefecture city of Kashiwa where 57.5 microsieverts per hour was detected.
  • Radioactive cesium amounting to 60,768 becquerels per 1 kilogram of soil was found in the ditch.

Water leaks out of Tokai nuclear reactor -Japan Today, Oct. 27

  • The Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency said Wednesday that a water leak had been found in the pressure vessel of a nuclear reactor at Japan Atomic Power Cos Tokai No. 2 nuclear power plant in Ibaraki Prefecture, but said no radioactive substances had been leaked into the environment.
  • According to Jiji Press, plant workers heard an alarm sound at 10:20 a.m. They found water coming from a pipe at the bottom of the pressure vessel into an outer container. Japan Atomic Power Co said 22.4 tons of water leaked out and said the problem was caused by a loose pipe junction, Jiji reported.
  • The Tokai No. 2 reactor has been suspended for inspection and stress tests since the March 11 disaster, the Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency said.

Tokai No. 2 leaks 22 tons of water -Japan Times, Oct. 27

  • Plant operator Japan Atomic Power Co. said around 22.4 tons of water escaped from the pressure vessel to the outer primary container of the boiling water reactor, which is idle and undergoing regular checks. The incident has not affected the cooling of the nuclear fuel, NISA said.
  • Japan Atomic Power workers erroneously loosened a screw located at the bottom of the pressure vessel, resulting in the leak. Water splashed onto four workers, but they were not exposed to radiation.

Tepco staff on front lines feel victims’ anger -Japan Times, Oct. 27

  • Masato Muto works for Tokyo Electric Power Co. in a rented one-story building in Fukushima Prefecture, where only a clock and a calendar hang on the office walls, and most days, only angry people come through the front door.
  • The nuclear evacuees who visit Tepco’s branch office in the mountainside town of Aizuwakamatsu are greeted two ways. First, by a letter from the utility’s president taped to a whiteboard by the entrance that apologizes for the “great inconvenience” and “anxiety” caused by “the accident.”
  • “I imagine a lot of rank-and-file employees feel embarrassed by management,” said Jeff Kingston, author of “Contemporary Japan” and a professor at Temple University’s Tokyo campus. “Most Japanese are proud to be an employee. But nobody ever bargained for this. Tepco set a new low for corporate behavior.”

Gov’t expects more than 30 years to decommission Fukushima nuclear reactors -Mainichi News, Oct. 27

  • Japan is expected to take more than 30 years to fully decommission crippled nuclear reactors at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant, according to a draft report compiled by the Nuclear Safety Commission of Japan obtained by the Mainichi on Oct. 26.
  • It is the first time for the government’s body to officially state that it is expected to take “more than 30 years” to decommission the troubled No. 1 to 4 nuclear reactors. According to the draft report, the work to remove spent nuclear fuel from nuclear fuel pools would begin sometime after 2015, while the work to remove melted nuclear fuel from the reactors would start sometime after 2022. The draft report is expected to be endorsed at a study meeting on Oct. 28 of experts on medium- and long-term measures.

Kashiwa city warns citizens of radioactive decontamination fraud -Mainichi News, Oct. 27

  • Local authorities here are warning residents not to be deceived by anyone passing his or herself off as a local government official and offering to measure and remove radioactive substances for money.
  • According to the Kashiwa Municipal Government, in and around Kashiwa’s Nedo district, where an abnormally high radiation level of 57.5 microsieverts has been detected, a man has been putting flyers into mailboxes and telling residents he is from the municipal government. He reportedly offered to measure radiation for 5,000 yen and remove radioactive substances for 10,000 yen.

TEPCO won’t build retaining wall to stop radioactive water seeping into ground water -Mainichi News, Oct. 27

  • Tokyo Electric Power Co. (TEPCO), the operator of the crippled Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant, has given up a plan to install a land-side retaining wall aimed at preventing radioactive water from permeating into the ground water, the utility has announced.
  • The utility, however, will construct an ocean-side retaining wall to prevent contaminated water from leaking into the sea, starting on Oct. 28.
  • TEPCO had initially planned to build a land-side retaining wall (an underground dam) as well, thereby surrounding all four sides of the reactor buildings and turbine buildings of the No. 1 through No. 4 reactors at the plant, in order to prevent highly radioactive water from coming into contact with the ground water.


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Fukushima Plant May Have Emitted Double Radiation Than Estimated -Bloomberg, Oct. 27

  • The amount is about 42 percent of that released at Chernobyl in 1986, the worst civil atomic disaster in history, according to the study. The plant north of Tokyo may have also started releasing radioactive elements before the tsunami arrived about 45 minutes after the magnitude-9 quake struck, contradicting government assessments.
  • This early onset of emissions is interesting and may indicate some structural damage to the reactor units during the earthquake, according to the report.
  • Japans Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency remains convinced the quake didnt cause significant damage to the plant, Tadashige Koitabashi, a NISA spokesman, said by phone. He declined to comment on the report.

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