TEPCO transfers some fuel from Fukushima plant No. 3 unit pool

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This photo taken from a Kyodo News helicopter shows a trailer (bottom center) thought to be carrying nuclear fuel from one of the reactor buildings at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant.
April 23, 2019
FUKUSHIMA, Japan(Kyodo) — The operator of the crippled Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant said Tuesday it has transferred some nuclear fuel from one of the reactor buildings damaged by hydrogen explosions in the 2011 disaster to another location for safer storage and management.
It was the first removal of such fuel from storage pools of the Nos. 1 to 3 units, which suffered meltdowns after losing power in the crisis triggered by a massive earthquake and tsunami.
Seven unspent fuel rod assemblies were transferred Tuesday to a common pool about 100 meters away, according to Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings Inc.
The transfer of nuclear fuel, which emits high levels of radiation, from the No. 3 unit pool is expected to lower the risk of the decommissioning work. The utility began the process of removing fuel there on April 15.
At around 11:15 a.m. Tuesday, a trailer began relocating the fuel assemblies, placed in a cylinder-shaped cask, to the common pool. The task was completed in about 20 minutes, carried out by about a dozen workers donning protective gear.
Since the common pool undergoes regular checkups required by law, the fuel transfer will be suspended possibly until July, the operator said.
TEPCO aims to transfer all of the remaining 559 spent and unspent fuel assemblies in the No. 3 unit storage pool to the common pool by March 2021.
The fuel removal at the No. 3 unit was originally scheduled to start in late 2014, but was pushed back multiple times as high levels of radiation, among other factors, caused delays in preparation of fuel transfer.
In fiscal 2023, the utility aims to start the task of removing fuel at the storage pools of the Nos. 1-2 units and has been assessing their surroundings.
Even if the fuel removal work progresses smoothly, TEPCO still faces the biggest challenge involved in the decommissioning of the crippled plant — retrieval of melted fuel that has dripped down in the containment vessels — at the Nos. 1-3 units.

Despite WTO ruling Japan still insists on pushing its Fukushima seafood to South Korea

There is one word in Japanese to describe such disgusting behavior: “shitsukoi”
Like when one man insists on pushing himself on a woman who isn’t at all interested!

Japan asks S. Korea to lift Fukushima seafood ban despite WTO ruling

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Members of a civic group celebrate in Seoul on April 12, 2019, after the World Trade Organization ruled the previous day in favor of the country’s ban on imports of some Japanese fishery products introduced in the wake of the 2011 Fukushima nuclear disaster, reversing an earlier decision against the restrictions.
April 23, 2019
TOKYO(Kyodo) — Japan on Tuesday urged South Korea to lift import restrictions on Japanese seafood introduced in the wake of the 2011 Fukushima nuclear disaster, even after the World Trade Organization ruled in favor of Seoul over the issue.
Kenji Kanasugi, head of the Japanese Foreign Ministry’s Asian and Oceanian Affairs Bureau, told his South Korean counterpart Kim Yong Kil in Tokyo that Japanese seafood is free of radioactive contamination and safe to eat, according to Japanese sources familiar with the matter.
During the talks, the South Korean Foreign Ministry insisted the restrictions are legitimate due to it wishing to prioritize the “health and safety” of the people.
Seoul imposed a ban on some types of seafood products from eight prefectures, including Aomori, Fukushima, and Chiba, in the wake of the 2011 reactor core meltdowns at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant triggered by a powerful earthquake and tsunami.
It expanded the ban in September 2013 to include all seafood products from the eight prefectures, and added a requirement that Japanese companies attach safety certificates when any traces of radiation are found in seafood from other regions.
In August 2015, Tokyo filed a complaint with the WTO against the restrictions, which it considers unfair discrimination, and an initial ruling by a dispute settlement panel sided with Japan. South Korea appealed the decision, however, and the WTO’s appellate body, the highest judicial entity of its dispute settlement mechanism, ultimately ruled in Seoul’s favor on April 11.
During Tuesday’s meeting, Kanasugi and Kim also made no progress towards a resolution in the dispute concerning recent South Korean top court rulings ordering Japanese companies to pay compensation for wartime forced labor.
Japan maintains that the issue has been resolved “finally and completely” under a 1965 accord between the two countries to settle property claims signed alongside the Japan-South Korea treaty that established diplomatic ties.
Kanasugi reiterated Japan’s call to open consultations between the governments based on the accord and asked South Korea to take measures to protect Japanese companies from facing any economic damage stemming from the rulings.
But Kim neither accepted nor refused the request, according to the sources.

Fukushima exports beef to the U.S. ?

I am sure that some of our american friends will be interested to know that there is not enough beef in the U.S., that U.S. needs to import Fukushima beef!!!

Fukushima agricultural exports bounce back from nuclear disaster to hit record high

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Farmers harvest onions in Minamisoma, Fukushima Prefecture.
April 23, 2019
FUKUSHIMA – Exports of agricultural products produced in Fukushima Prefecture rose about 2 percent in fiscal 2018 to a record 217.8 tons, according to the prefectural government.
Fukushima’s agricultural exports suffered a long slump due to the 2011 nuclear crisis.
But exports hit a record high for the second straight year, backed by an expansion in rice exports to Malaysia in fiscal 2017 and in exports of Japanese pears and other items to Vietnam and Thailand in fiscal 2018.
In fiscal 2018, which ended last month, exports of peaches and Japanese persimmons were sluggish due in part to unfavorable weather.
Shipments of rice to Malaysia, at about 115 tons, led the total exports, as in fiscal 2017. Exports of apples to Thailand and beef to the United States also grew.
Following the disaster at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant, the prefecture’s agricultural exports plunged due to import restrictions by countries concerned about radioactive contamination, falling to 2.4 tons in fiscal 2012.
The prefectural government has strengthened efforts to boost exports to Southeast Asian countries since the restrictions were scrapped.
In fiscal 2017, Fukushima’s agricultural exports came to 213.3 tons, exceeding the then-record of 152.9 tons in fiscal 2010, helped by about 101 tons of rice shipments to Malaysia.

Fukushima soccer facility, repurposed after 3/11 disaster, fully reopens

The madmen’s denial continues, pretending that it is all clean and safe. Like if nothing ever happened. Children’s future sacrificed in the name of politicians’ holy economics.
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Children exercise at the J-Village national soccer training center in the town of Naraha, Fukushima Prefecture, on Saturday after it resumed full operations.
April 20, 2019
FUKUSHIMA – The J-Village national soccer training center in Fukushima Prefecture resumed full operation Saturday, eight years after it was converted into an operational base to cope with the nuclear disaster that hit the prefecture in 2011.
The facility, established in 1997, has already been selected as the starting point for the Japan leg of the 2020 Tokyo Olympic torch relay, a move aimed at highlighting the country’s efforts to recover from the devastating earthquake and tsunami on March 11, 2011, that triggered the meltdown at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant.
The torch relay will start at the facility in March 2020.
Until March 2017, the training center was used as a logistics hub and a lodging facility for workers involved in the cleanup and other disaster response operations at the crippled facility located some 20 kilometers to the north. The operational base function has been moved to the power plant.
The training complex has been renovated, and an indoor practice field and hotel with conference rooms have been added.
A large part of the complex had already resumed operations by July 2018, with the exception of two playing fields.
Also on Saturday, East Japan Railway Co. opened a new station near the J-Village.
“I hope (the full reopening) will contribute to Fukushima’s revival,” said a 42-year-old woman arriving at the station on Saturday morning.
The woman, who lives in the prefecture, was planning to visit the J-Village site.

Ministry limits foreigners doing Fukushima cleanup

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April 19, 2019
Japanese Justice Minister Takashi Yamashita has outlined a restriction pertaining to the country’s new visa program. He said foreign nationals won’t be allowed to work in Japan if their main task is to do decontamination work at the crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant.
 
Yamashita’s remark on Friday follows the plant operator’s statement that it will accept foreign workers hired under the new visa program to help decommission the facility.
 
Tokyo Electric Power Company says that construction, industrial machinery and automobile maintenance will be relevant to the decommissioning. The utility told the contractors to make sure they hire foreign workers legally.
 
TEPCO also says it’s not aware of a shortage of workers in the decommissioning process, but that it is up to the contractors to decide whether to hire foreigners under the new visa category.
 
Yamashita said that the Justice Ministry and other relevant ministries will ensure that foreigners in the program are eligible for the jobs they are hired to do.
 
Yamashita said foreigners coming to work in the construction sector must not be hired if their main job is decontamination work.
 
Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said the industry ministry will supervise TEPCO to make sure the utility’s operations are legal and that the plant’s reactors are decommissioned safely and stably.
 
A revised immigration law that took effect on April 1 allows foreign nationals with certain vocational skills to work in a range of sectors under a new visa category.
 

TEPCO plans to use new foreign workers at Fukushima plant

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Rows of storage tanks hold radiation-contaminated water on the grounds of the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant.
April 18, 2019
Tokyo Electric Power Co. plans to use the new visa program to deploy foreign workers to its crippled Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant, sparking concerns that language barriers could cause safety hazards and accidents.
The specified skills visa program started in April to alleviate labor shortages in 14 different industrial sectors. TEPCO says it has long lacked enough workers for decommissioning work at the Fukushima nuclear plant.
At a March 28 meeting, the utility explained its plan to hire foreign workers to dozens of construction and other companies that have been contracted for decommissioning work.
TEPCO officials asked the companies to be aware that workers sent to radiation monitoring zones must wear dosimeters and receive special education about the dangers they will face.
The new work visa program requires the foreign workers to have a minimum level of Japanese language ability needed for daily life.
But TEPCO officials reminded the company representatives that Japanese language skills would be even more important at the Fukushima plant because of the need to accurately understand radiation levels and follow instructions by superiors and colleagues regarding work safety.
TEPCO officials said they would ask the contracting companies to check on the Japanese language skills of prospective foreign workers.
But at least one construction company has already decided not to hire any foreign workers.
“The work rules at the No. 1 plant are very complicated,” said a construction company employee who has worked at the Fukushima plant. “I am also worried about whether thorough education can be conducted on radiation matters. It would be frightening if an accident occurred due to a failure of communication.”
According to TEPCO officials, an average of about 4,000 people work at the nuclear plant each day, mostly in zones where radiation levels must be constantly monitored.
To stay within the legal limits on exposure levels, workers often have to be replaced, leading to difficulties for TEPCO in gathering the needed number of workers.
Between April 2018 and February this year, 11,109 people worked at the Fukushima plant. Of that number, 763 were found to have levels of radiation exposure between 10 and 20 millisieverts, while 888 had levels between 5 and 10 millisieverts.
The legal limit for radiation exposure for workers at nuclear plants is 50 millisieverts a year, and 100 millisieverts over a five-year period.
The Justice Ministry has disciplined companies that used technical intern trainees for decontamination work without adequately informing them of the dangers. The ministry has also clearly stated that such trainees are prohibited from doing decommissioning work at the Fukushima plant.
However, Justice Ministry officials told TEPCO that foreigners with the new visa status could work alongside Japanese staff at the nuclear plant.
Although their numbers are small, foreign workers and engineers have been accepted at the Fukushima plant. As of February, 29 foreigners had been registered as workers engaged in jobs that expose them to radiation.
A construction company official said such foreign workers were hired after their Japanese language ability was confirmed.
But concerns remains on whether the new foreign workers will be able to properly understand how much radiation exposure they have experienced.
“Even Japanese workers are not sure about how to apply for workers’ compensation due to radiation exposure,” said Minoru Ikeda, 66, who has published a book about his experiences in decommissioning work at the Fukushima plant until 2015. “The problem would only be exacerbated for foreign workers.”
Kazumi Takagi, a sociology professor at Gifu University, has conducted interviews with nuclear plant workers.
Noting the need for special protective gear to work at the Fukushima site, Takagi said: “Unless workers can instantly understand the language when minor mistakes or sudden problems occur, it could lead to a major accident. That, in turn, could cause major delays in the work.”

Japan Atomic Power considers launching unit that specializes in scrapping nuclear plants

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The Tokai No. 2 plant (right) operated by Japan Atomic Power Co. in Ibaraki Prefecture, is seen in this photo taken last July.
April 16, 2019
Japan Atomic Power Co. is considering setting up a subsidiary specializing in the scrapping of retired nuclear reactors at domestic power plants, sources close to the matter said Tuesday.
Japan Atomic Power, a wholesaler of electricity generated at its nuclear plants, is planning to have U.S. nuclear waste firm EnergySolutions Inc. invest in the reactor decommissioning service unit, which would be the first of its kind in Japan, the sources said.
The Tokyo-based electricity wholesaler, whose shareholders are major domestic power companies, will make a final decision by the end of this year, they said.
The plan is to support power companies’ scrapping of retired reactors using Japan Atomic Power’s expertise in decontaminating and dismantling work, in which it has been engaged in since before the 2011 nuclear disaster at Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings Inc.’s Fukushima No. 1 complex, according to the sources.
The plan comes as a series of nuclear reactor decommissioning is expected at power companies in the country. Since stringent safety rules were introduced after the Fukushima disaster, 11 reactors, excluding those at the two Fukushima plants of Tepco, are slated to be scrapped.
Nuclear reactors are allowed to run for 40 years in Japan. Their operation can be extended for 20 years, but operators will need costly safety enhancement measures to clear the Nuclear Regulation Authority’s screening.
Decommissioning a reactor with an output capacity of 1 million kilowatts is said to take about 30 years and cost around ¥50 billion. Typically, some 500,000 tons of waste result from scrapping such a reactor, and 2 percent of the waste is radioactive.
Japan Atomic Power first engaged in decommissioning a commercial reactor in 2001 at its Tokai plant in eastern Japan. It has been conducting decommissioning work at its Tsuruga nuclear power plant in western Japan since 2017.
It is also providing support to Tepco for the decommissioning of reactors at the Fukushima No. 1 plant.
EnergySolutions, founded in 2006, has engaged in scrapping five reactors in the United States.
Japan Atomic Energy and EnergySolutions have had previous business ties, and the Japanese company has sent some employees to the Zion nuclear station in Illinois, where the U.S. partner has been conducting decommissioning work since 2010.