Fukushima Long Active Fault

 

A seismologist says about three-fifths of an active fault running more than 50 kilometers off the northeastern prefecture of Fukushima shifted in last month’s powerful earthquake.

The magnitude-7.4 quake on November 22nd registered a 5 minus on the Japanese seismic scale of 0 to 7. A tsunami 1.4 meters high was observed at a port in Miyagi Prefecture.

Professor Shinji Toda of Tohoku University analyzed the active fault that triggered the temblor, using data on seabed terrain and the locations of aftershocks.

He says a stretch of about 30 kilometers in the fault that runs from northeast to southwest shifted in the earthquake.

He believes a shift of the entire fault would have caused a more powerful quake, with a possible magnitude of 7.7.

He warns that the remaining part of the fault is close to the shore and has the potential to trigger a magnitude-7 quake.

Toda’s findings contradict a 2014 analysis of the area by Tokyo Electric Power Company, the operator of the damaged Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant.

It stated that 2 fault lines, each about 20 kilometers long, could cause an earthquake with a magnitude of up to 7.1, much less than that of November’s quake.

Toda says it is important to improve that analysis, since the quake was more powerful than the utility’s estimate.

TEPCO says it will review its estimates if necessary.

http://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/en/news/20161206_05/

Fukushima Fish and Shellfish Radiation Levels Drop”Announced”

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Volunteer group continues checking fish off Fukushima as radiation levels drop

An olive flounder, estimated at 11 years old, measuring 90 centimeters long and caught in waters near the Fukushima No. 1 Nuclear Power Plant, is seen on a ship about 2 kilometers from the plant, on Nov. 13, 2016.

IWAKI, Fukushima — As radioactive cesium levels in fish caught off the Fukushima Prefecture coast show lower levels that fall within safety limits set by the government, the Mainichi Shimbun recently accompanied a volunteer group that continues to measure these fish on one of its outings.
The group, called “Iwaki Kaiyo Shirabetai Umi Labo” (Iwaki marine investigative squad ocean lab), began its activities three years ago. Rather than relying on the national government, Fukushima nuclear plant operator Tokyo Electric Power Co. or others for data on radioactive pollution in the ocean off Fukushima Prefecture, the group aims to obtain this information itself and share it across the country.

On Nov. 13, a Mainichi Shimbun reporter boarded one of the group’s fishing ships, which set out from Hisanohama Port in Iwaki, Fukushima Prefecture. Two kilometers from the disaster-stricken plant, the group pulled up a large, 90-centimeter, 7.7-kilogram olive flounder. This fish was caught by Eriko Kawanishi, a civil servant who came from Tokyo to participate in the outing and said it was her first time ever to hold a fishing rod. A 90-centimeter fish would be a rare catch even for a veteran fisherman.

The olive flounder was refrigerated and taken back to veterinarian Seiichi Tomihara at the Aquamarine Fukushima aquarium in Iwaki for dissection. Based on the growth rings on its “otoliths,” a structure located near the brain, Tomihara estimated the fish’s age at 11 years. He said there is research estimating the life expectancy of olive flounders at around 12 years, adding, “This looks like one of the oldest (one can find).”

A 1-kilogram slice of the fish put in a detector showed 14.6 becquerels of radioactive cesium — below the 100 becquerels-per-kilogram national safety limit for regular food products. Lately the research group has found no fish, including bottom-dwelling fish like olive flounder, that exceed this limit. In addition, radiation checks done by the prefectural government find hardly any cases of fish that top the safety limit.

Riken Komatsu, 37, joint-representative for the group, says, “This is the first time for us to check such an old olive flounder, and I thought there would be dozens of becquerels detected. The result was lower than I had imagined and I feel relieved.”

Fish that were already adult at the time of the disaster, with a slowed metabolism and a narrow range of habitat, tend to show high radiation levels, Komatsu says. With time having passed since the disaster, the generational replacement of the fish in the area has moved forward. The group says the highest radiation level it has detected so far was 138 becquerels from a 56-centimeter olive flounder in July 2014.

Olive flounder caught off of Iwaki are known as “Joban-mono” and have a good reputation. There is hope among locals that the fish will regain their pre-disaster popularity.

Komatsu says, “The prefectural government and fishing cooperatives are also releasing radiation readings from fish taken off Fukushima Prefecture, but I feel there are few taken from waters near the nuclear plant. Stronger data showing the fish’s safety (like data from fish near the plant) should raise the value of Fukushima olive flounder.”

http://mainichi.jp/english/articles/20161205/p2a/00m/0na/022000c

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Surf clams caught in waters off Iwaki, Fukushima Prefecture, in June

Radiation in fish off Fukushima tests below detectable level

FUKUSHIMA–Radiation in all seafood caught off Fukushima Prefecture tested below the detectable level in November for the first time since the 2011 nuclear disaster.

Species including bass, rockfish and stone flounder–sales of which were banned by the central government–were tested between Nov. 11 and Nov. 28, and the prefectural government said they all fell below the detection threshold, meaning radioactive cesium was not detected in any samples.

The main reason is that most fish species have undergone a generation change over the past five years with the contaminated marine life dying out, said officials at the prefectural government’s fisheries experimental station.

In addition, the passage of time helped fish exude radioactive cesium from their bodies.

The prefectural government began the tests in April 2011 following the disaster at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant the previous month.

Forty thousand fish and shellfish samples have been checked from 186 species over the past five and a half years.

The initial tests found that more than 90 percent of the samples were contaminated with radioactive cesium above the central government’s safety limit of 100 becquerels per kilogram.

The percentage of polluted fish and shellfish then declined annually.

The tests since April last year showed that the pollution in all samples was within the safety limit.

The monitoring covers seafood caught in 30 locations, in waters with a depth of 5 meters and at a distance of hundreds of meters from the shore, including the area in a 20-kilometer radius of the crippled plant.

http://www.asahi.com/ajw/articles/AJ201612060039.html

 

As Costs of Disaster Keep Rising, State Ownership of Tepco Continues

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Tokyo says Tepco may stay nationalized to deal with massive cost of nuclear disaster

Faced with massive ongoing costs stemming from the 2011 nuclear crisis in Fukushima, Tokyo Electric Power Co. Holdings Inc. may remain under state control longer than initially planned, the government said Monday.

Under the current plan, the utility would gradually reduce government involvement in its management from April.

However, at a key panel meeting the government proposed a revised option in light of the huge compensation and decommissioning expenses that are involved.

The government leads the business operations of the utility, known as Tepco, acquiring 50.1 percent of its voting rights through the state-backed Nuclear Damage Compensation and Decommissioning Facilitation Corp.

Some ministry bureaucrats have also been dispatched to the utility.

It is understood the state-backed body will assess efforts to reform the company in late March and make a decision on whether to reduce state involvement.

The direction of Tepco reform is coming into sight,” said Economy, Trade and Industry Minister Hiroshige Seko at the panel meeting. “We have to come up with a more detailed picture of the reform.”

The government is seeking to split the activities of the utility into “business operations,” including retail sales and power generation, and “Fukushima operations” related to decommissioning reactors at the disaster-hit Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant and paying compensation, which would remain under public control.

As for Tepco’s business operations, the government plans to free them of state control at an early date, hoping to promote industry reorganization involving nuclear and energy distribution businesses.

The plan was revealed at the panel meeting at the trade ministry to study compensation and decommissioning issues facing the utility. The panel will compile proposals by the end of this year.

The government also seeks cooperation from other power companies in reactivating Tepco’s Kashiwazaki-Kariwa nuclear power plant in Niigata Prefecture, which would be the main source of its revenue.

With the involvement of other utilities, the government hopes to ease local distrust of Tepco’s nuclear plant operations. Two reactors at the Kashiwazaki-Kariwa plant are under prolonged safety examinations by nuclear regulators.

http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2016/12/05/national/tokyo-says-tepco-may-stay-nationalized-deal-massive-cost-nuclear-disaster/#.WEZvflzia-d

State ownership of TEPCO likely to continue as costs keep rising

The government will likely prolong its effective state ownership of Tokyo Electric Power Co. Holdings Inc. because the expected costs for decommissioning its ruined Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant and paying compensation continue to soar.

The industry ministry mentioned the rising expenses at a meeting on Dec. 5 with scholars and others.

The ministry at the meeting showed a six-item report titled, “Tokyo Electric Power Co. and the state’s role.” One pillar of the report was that the state should urge TEPCO to perform its responsibilities.

However, one of the participants said, “The state should hold a certain ratio of (TEPCO) shares for a long period.”

The government-approved Nuclear Damage Compensation and Decommissioning Facilitation Corp. currently holds 50.1 percent of shares with voting rights of TEPCO.

The government planned to reduce the stake to less than 50 percent if it concluded at the end of this fiscal year that TEPCO could operate independently.

However, that scenario has collapsed.

Some sources now say total costs, including expenses for decommissioning and compensation, will probably exceed 20 trillion yen (about $176 billion).

TEPCO initially said that it would need a total of 11 trillion yen to resolve problems related to the plant that suffered a triple meltdown after being hit by the Great East Japan Earthquake and tsunami in March 2011.

That amount includes 2 trillion yen to decommission the reactors, 5.4 trillion yen to pay compensation to people affected by the disaster and 2.5 trillion yen to decontaminate areas polluted with nuclear substances.

However, an internal report worked out by the industry ministry in August showed that the costs for decommissioning would probably increase by 4 trillion yen and the compensation sum would likely rise by 3 trillion yen, making the total amount 18 trillion yen.

http://www.asahi.com/ajw/articles/AJ201612060043.html

Human Error Stopped Reactor 3 Cooling System

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Cooling water briefly stopped at Fukushima plant

Injections of water to cool melted fuel in a reactor at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant stopped briefly due to human error on Monday.
The plant’s operator, Tokyo Electric Power Company, says an alarm system was activated at around 10 AM when a water pump at the No. 3 reactor shut down.
An internal investigation by the utility found that a worker had mistakenly hit the pump’s switch with his elbow while checking instruments. TEPCO resumed the water injections using a different pump about 1 hour later.
The utility notified local prefectural authorities and nearby areas of the problem just one minute before it resumed the water injections.
TEPCO officials say they detected no changes in the temperature at the bottom of the reactor or in radiation levels at monitoring posts around the plant.
Also on Sunday night, cooling operations temporarily stopped in the spent nuclear fuel pool at the plant’s numbers 1, 2 and 3 reactors when some valves inexplicably opened.
TEPCO says it takes these human errors seriously and will do it best to prevent recurrences.

http://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/en/news/20161205_27/

Fukushima reactor briefly loses cooling during inspection

One of the melted reactors at tsunami-hit Fukushima nuclear power plant had a temporary loss of cooling when a worker accidentally bumped a switch while passing through a narrow aisle of switch panels during an inspection and turned off the pumping system.

The plant operator, Tokyo Electric Power Co., said cooling for the No. 3 reactor, one of the three reactors that melted following the 2011 earthquake and tsunami, was out for nearly one hour Monday until a backup pump kicked in.

TEPCO said the reactor had enough water left inside and there was no temperature increase or radiation leak from the incident.

TEPCO acknowledged some other key switches are in similarly tight locations.

http://www.asahi.com/ajw/articles/AJ201612050069.html

Anthropocene, Capitalocene, Chthulucene, staying with the trouble in Fukushima

 

In the space-time of environmental devastation announced by the Anthropocene, nuclear catastrophe is a type of “fuzzy boundaries trouble” that challenges our capacity for understanding. We know from Günther Anders that it operates in the supraliminary sphere, so large that it cannot be seen or imagined, which causes cognitive paralysis. By Ulrich Beck that produces an anthropological shock, the transformation of the consciousness of the subjects in relation to the experience of insecurity and uncertainty in the face of an invisible threat. By Svetlana Alexeivich that is characterized by vagueness and indefinition, which produces a war without enemies. And by Olga Kuchinskaya that generates a politics of invisibility regarding public knowledge of its consequences for life.

As Chernobyl before, the Fukushima disaster has reached the maximum level in the scale of accidents, when several nuclear reactors melted down 200 kilometers from the most populous metropolitan area of the planet. The dangerous radionuclides, once enclosed between concrete and steel walls, began to blend intimately with the biosphere. Before this mutant ecology, the artists have responded from the first moments. Through photography, guerrilla art, dance, video art or fiction narrative, this artistic response to the nuclear crisis has faced a double invisibility: the one of ionizing radiation and the institutional invisibility – the affirmation of the authorities that the problem “is under control”.

Taking as a theoretical framework the interdisciplinary discussion of the Anthropocene and its critical epistemologies, such Jason Moore’s Capitalocene and Donna Haraway’s Chthulucene, we investigate how artists are staying with the trouble in Fukushima. Recalibrating our sensory systems to adjust them to the contradiction and volatility of industrial advances, we explore the ability of art to construct an ontology complementary to hegemonic technoscience, one that allows us a more in-depth understanding of what nature and we humans has become in the Anthropocene.

NRA blasts Tokai nuclear facility ahead of dismantling plan

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The Tokai spent nuclear fuel reprocessing plant in Tokai, a village in Ibaraki Prefecture

TOKAI, Ibaraki Prefecture–Drums of nuclear waste are stacked in disarray within a storage pool containing unidentified floating objects. Wires in the pool are feared entangled, and containers are believed corroded, possibly leaking radioactive substances. And highly toxic liquid waste remains untreated in a potentially explosive state.

After years of apparent mismanagement, the Tokai spent nuclear fuel reprocessing plant is a jumbled mess, as the operator, Japan Atomic Energy Agency (JAEA), prepares for the Herculean task of shutting down the facility.

The circumstances at the plant in this village northeast of Tokyo has raised concerns about the JAEA’s ability to dismantle it.

A situation far from appropriate has been allowed to continue at the plant,” said an official of the Nuclear Regulation Authority, the nation’s nuclear watchdog. “Not only the JAEA, but also the former Science and Technology Agency and the former Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency, have all looked the other way despite their knowledge of the situation.”

According to a JAEA report submitted to the NRA on Nov. 30, it will take 70 years to complete the dismantling process, with costs estimated at 217 billion yen ($1.92 billion) for the first decade alone.

A recent visit to the plant by Asahi Shimbun reporters revealed drums containing radioactive waste stacked in a disorderly manner in a storage pool.

JAEA officials showed pictures of the pool and explained that it contains about 800 drums piled about 7 meters high. The drums hold demolished clads from spent nuclear fuel assemblies.

The officials said that when an underwater camera was placed near the drums, it stirred up brown objects.

We have no idea if they are water scale or rust,” one of JAEA officials said.

Workers put the drums in the storage pool between 1977 and 1994 by hanging them with cables above the pool and then cutting the cables to allow them to drop in, according to the officials.

The officials said they believed the cables also fell into the pool and became entangled.

Some experts at the NRA suspect the drums are now corroded and leaking radioactive materials.

Radiation at the pool surface measured 3 millisieverts per hour, three times the safety limit for annual exposure for a person, apart from background radiation.

The pool is not equipped with purification units.

Furthermore, JAEA officials said they do not know what’s in other containers at the facility.

Workers will eventually sort them out by opening their lids, they added.

One of the most challenging tasks facing the JAEA in the dismantling work is dealing with the 400 cubic meters of high-level radioactive liquid waste at the plant.

The liquid waste, which was generated during reprocessing, emits radiation registering 1,500 sieverts per hour, which would kill a person exposed for 20 seconds.

Left intact, this waste could produce heat and hydrogen, possibly leading to hydrogen explosions.

The JAEA has put the liquid waste in six stainless tanks and kept them cool with water. A ventilation system has been used to prevent hydrogen from accumulating inside the storage facility and sparking an explosion.

Ibaraki Prefecture is located immediately south of Fukushima Prefecture.

The Great East Japan Earthquake and tsunami that struck northeastern Japan in 2011 severed all power sources to the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant, leading to hydrogen explosions and the triple meltdown there.

The natural disaster also cut off electricity to the Tokai plant for more than 40 hours. But the plant rode out the contingency with emergency power generators.

The NRA is aware of risks involved in keeping the liquid waste in the current state at the Tokai plant.

In 2013, the NRA allowed the plant to resume operations to solidify the liquid waste with glass as a special case before the watchdog checked whether the plant met tougher nuclear safety regulations set after the Fukushima disaster.

Work on the solidification process resumed this year, but it has been suspended because of a series of glitches. Only one-fourth of the scheduled volume of the liquid waste has been solidified.

The reprocessing plant began full operations in 1981. It had reprocessed 1,140 tons of spent nuclear fuel before the decision was made in 2014 to close down the facility.

http://www.asahi.com/ajw/articles/AJ201612050078.html

 

Mom of student called ‘germ’ at school links bullying to Fukushima disaster

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The mother of a fourth-year elementary school student in Niigata, who has been staying home from school since late November after being called “germ” by his peers and his teacher, spoke to the Mainichi Shimbun, saying that her son was bullied because he came from nuclear disaster-hit Fukushima Prefecture.
The family evacuated from Fukushima after the nuclear disaster. While the Niigata Municipal Board of Education has denied a link between the bullying of the student and his Fukushima roots, according to the mother, the student started being called “germ” around March of this year, which marked five years since the disaster, and this is one reason she argues that there is a connection.

According to the mother, around March 11 of this year when the nuclear disaster issue came up in class, her son proactively talked about his own experiences.

“He must have been happy to be able to give lots of answers,” she says. However, it was around that time that he started being called “germ” by his classmates.

“Some kids who knew he had come from Fukushima started calling him germ, and that led to kids who didn’t know him also calling him that, like a nickname,” she says.

In June, the student talked to his teacher, complaining that he was “being treated like a germ.” At that point the student is thought to have not considered the name as bullying, and when the teacher referred to him as “germ” after summer vacation ended, he didn’t appear to be deeply bothered by it.

In early November, though, it was reported in the news that a junior high school student in Yokohama who had evacuated from Fukushima Prefecture was bullied by being called “germ.” When the student in Niigata heard this, he said, “It’s the same as me,” and the mother says she thinks “he probably began to see himself as being bullied.” On the mother’s advice, the student talked to his teacher about it again on Nov. 17. When he came home, he triumphantly said with a smile that he had talked to the teacher.

After a strong earthquake off the Fukushima Prefecture coast early on the morning of Nov. 22 this year, the boy went off to school looking anxious, he and his mother having not yet been able to get in contact with the father, who works in Fukushima Prefecture. During recess that day, while the student was receiving teacher-parent correspondence from his teacher, the teacher called him “germ” again. The shocked student returned home, and since Nov. 24 has been staying home from school, saying, “I want to go to school, but I can’t because that teacher is there.”

According to the mother, at first school authorities denied the teacher had called the student “germ.” On Nov. 25 the father called the school and said tearfully that “There are kids who commit suicide (when they are bullied).” Although the teacher apologized, the mother says that the teacher treated them coldly, saying it was only this year that they had become the student’s homeroom teacher. The teacher has said they want to apologize to the student, but the student is refusing to see the instructor and the school principal has been visiting the family’s home every day to try and deal with the matter.

The family has been planning to move after the free rent for the government-leased apartment they are living in ends at the end of this fiscal year. The mother says, “My son had been asking that we stay in the same school district, but now that this has happened, we have no choice but to have him change schools,” adding, “We evacuated voluntarily (from Fukushima), and I don’t want to impose on the people of Niigata.”

According to the Niigata Municipal Board of Education, there are 291 children who have evacuated from Fukushima Prefecture to the city of Niigata. It holds that “there is no bullying of students related to their Fukushima roots.”

———-

Timeline of events involving the bullying of the student:

2011:

March — The Great East Japan Earthquake and the Fukushima No. 1 Nuclear Power Plant disaster occur. The student evacuates to the city of Niigata.

2016:

Around March — Student begins to be ostracized by peers and called “germ.”

April — Student enters fourth grade and homeroom teacher changes.

June — Student speaks to teacher about being called “germ.” Teacher disciplines classmates who bullied student.

Early November — News is reported of a junior high school student in Yokohama who evacuated from Fukushima Prefecture and was bullied, including being called “germ.”

Nov. 17 — Student again speaks to teacher about being bullied.

Nov. 22 — During recess, student is called “germ” by teacher in classroom in front of classmates.

Nov. 24 — Student begins to stay home from school (Nov. 23 was a school holiday).

Nov. 29 — School questions students about incident. Multiple students testify that teacher called student “germ,” and teacher also says it is true.

(Based on sources including student’s parents and the Niigata Municipal Board of Education)

http://mainichi.jp/english/articles/20161205/p2a/00m/0na/020000c