How a Harley-riding ex-ally of villains is leading a nuke revolt in Japan

àlllmmLawyer Hiroyuki Kawai posing with his Harley-Davidson Trike motorcycle inside a garage in Tokyo, on July 25, 2017.

 

TOKYO (BLOOMBERG) – In the basement of a three-storey house in a leafy neighbourhood in Tokyo, about 40 lawyers crowded together, plotting against Japan’s massive nuclear power industry.

The host was 73-year-old Hiroyuki Kawai, one of Japan’s most colourful litigators. The end game? To close all of the country’s 42 reactors for good, a result that would be a major blow to the future of atomic energy across the world.

For the staunch anti-nuclear activist, the risk of a meltdown outweighs the benefits of the relatively clean source of power.

Countries from Germany to Taiwan have scaled back plans for nuclear power after Japanese utility Tepco’s 2011 Fukushima meltdown.

Mr Kawai is propelling the anti-nuclear movement forward with a 22 trillion yen (S$274 billion) shareholder lawsuit against the company, among the largest in damages ever sought. He wants to pressure the government and businesses to distance themselves from atomic power, and while his court cases have yielded mixed results, his bold tactics are garnering attention around the world.

“If we push them enough, one day they will crumble,” Mr Kawai said at an interview. “It’s a revolution.”

Mr Kawai stands out in a 300-strong anti-nuclear lawyer consortium, in both spirit and appearance.

On the day of the interview, Me Kawai is wearing a bright candy-pink suit-jacket, a black shirt, and a crystal encrusted snake brooch on his lapel. The father of three daughters and seven grandchildren rides his Harley-Davidson motorbike across the country on weekends, and hosts bimonthly meetings of lawyers at his residence to discuss strategies to shutter reactors.

“A number of countries and societies are influenced by trends in Japan,” said Professor Hitoshi Yoshioka at the graduate school of social and cultural studies at Kyushu University. “If he’s successful, the impact on the world will be great.”

While Mr Kawai now spends about 80 per cent of his time in legal battles against power providers and the government without pay, he started his career pursuing much more lucrative cases.

In the late 70s, he was an adviser to a witness linked to one of the country’s biggest financial scandals, propelling him into the spotlight. By his account, he was a winner, and made “a ton of money” along the way. Yet the cases in which he was involved were less than savoury and he began to question whether this was satisfying enough.

“I did so many bad things,” Mr Kawai said, recalling how in the 90s he turned his back on the corrupt businessmen and money-hungry upstarts he called clients. “I helped a lot of villains.”

In 1994, he began taking on anti-nuclear cases. He says the reason for his reincarnation is simple: He wanted to use the legal system to do good for society, and believed the growing use of atomic power was the biggest risk facing Japan, one of the world’s most earthquake-prone countries.

For years, Mr Kawai lost. Anti-nuclear activists were seen as environmentalists that agitated Japan’s quest to become energy independent and cheaply power a sputtering economy. After embracing atomic energy in the 1960s, the number of reactors grew to 54 by 2009, and at its peak, nuclear provided about one-third of Japan’s power consumption.

“Fighting nuclear means turning all of Japan’s society against you,” Mr Kawai said. “It’s like being surrounded by enemies. It’s a very hard fight.”

Japan needs nuclear power to achieve energy security, economic growth and environmental conservation while placing top priority on safety, said Hiroyuki Honda, a spokesman for the Federation of Electric Power Companies of Japan, the industry group consisting of top utility Tokyo Electric Power Holdings and nine other regional firms.

Japan should have diversified electricity generation sources, including nuclear power, while balancing energy security, economic growth and environmental conservation, said Tepco spokesman Jun Oshima.

Reactors are being allowed to restart after meeting stricter safety standards, and Japan cannot abandon nuclear power because of earthquakes, said a trade ministry official, who asked not to be identified because of internal policy.

Relying heavily on thermal power would lead to more carbon dioxide emissions and reliance on fossil fuel imports, he said. While the nation plans to boost renewable energy as much as possible, its growth has limits and needs to be supplemented by atomic and thermal power, according to the official.

Mr Kawai is currently directly involved in 24 atomic-related cases. The rest of his time is spent on corporate lawsuits which provide the funds to cover his anti-nuclear work, including directing a few documentary films.

Public perception has turned in favour of his ideals with 55 per cent of the population against nuclear restarts versus 26 per cent that are for, according to a Mainichi newspaper poll in March.

Mr Kawai’s legal attacks are counter to Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s post-Fukushima energy policy, which seeks to see nuclear power account for as much as 22 per cent of the country’s energy mix by 2030.

The Nuclear Regulation Authority, an independent supervisory body set up by the government after Fukushima, has said 12 reactors are safe to restart after extensive checks, though just five of Japan’s 42 operable reactors have been allowed back online so far.

One of Mr Kawai’s biggest cases is a shareholder suit against Tepco. He argues the power provider did not take enough safety measures to prevent Fukushima. The amount of damages sought – currently 22 trillion yen – is the direct sum of the estimated costs to clean up the Fukushima disaster, he said.

He has had three favourable decisions since Fukushima, one of which has been overturned by a higher court, while most of the cases are still pending, he said.

“Nothing is an easy win,” Mr Kawai said. “But it’s not just about winning – it’s about changing society. There’s a good reason to keep fighting.”

http://www.straitstimes.com/asia/east-asia/how-a-harley-riding-ex-ally-of-villains-is-leading-a-nuke-revolt-in-japan

 

Highly radioactive water leak at Fukushima No. 1 nuke plant

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In the background, from left, the No. 1, 2, 3, and 4 reactor buildings of the Fukushima No. 1 Nuclear Power Plant are seen, in Okuma, Fukushima Prefecture, on Oct. 31, 2016. In front are tanks used to store contaminated water.
Highly radioactive water has leaked from the disaster-crippled Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant, Tokyo Electric Power Co. (TEPCO) announced on Aug. 17.
The estimated 50 milliliters of contaminated water remained inside the station dike, and there was no leakage to the outer environment, plant operator TEPCO said. An analysis found that the tainted water contained 22 million becquerels per liter of beta-ray-emitting radioactive materials.
According to the utility, a worker from a company cooperating with TEPCO spotted water dripping from multi-nuclide removal equipment at the facility at around 2:15 p.m. on Aug. 16. After the worker mended the part with tape, the leakage stopped.

 

AIPRI Reports on 257 Tons of Corium and 180 Million Curies of Deadly Heavy Metal Poison and Radiation Released From Fukushima

From December 2011, reposting it today so that people won’t think that the March 2011 Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster is behind us.

After 280 days of decaying, the 257 tons of lost corium from three of Fukushima’s reactors, which one assumes to have a burn rate of 14GWJ/t (14 kg fissioned per tonne), have produced a probable level of radioactivity of 180.37 million Curies, or 6.674E18 Becquerels (6673.6 PBq). […]

92.17% of this radioactivity is being emitted by fission products, and constitutes 28.07% of overall radiotoxicity. 7.83% of this radioactivity is made by activation products, and constitutes 71.93% of overall radiotoxicity. That is to say that here the radiotoxicity, which according to the eminently official ICRP’s dose factors equals 73.47 Billion potential lethal doses via inhalation and 15.53 Billion lethal doses via ingestion, results chiefly from the activation products, which by and large are alpha emitters.

On the other hand, the radioactivity in this case is produced primarily by fission products, which most often are beta (β− ) emitters. At the end of these 280 days of decaying, the radiation arises primarily from the following elements: Strontium 89 at 2.265%, Strontium 90 at 4.713%, Yttrium 90 at 4.713%, Yttrium 91 at 4.852%, …

…Yttrium 91 at 4.852%, Zirconium 95 at 8.067%, Ruthenium 106 at 9.297%, Caesium 134 at 4.737%, Cesium 137 at 6.209%, Barium 137 at 6.209%, Cerium 144 at 23.744%, Promethium 147 at 13.728%, Plutonium 241 at 5.505%, Cobalt 60 at 1.410%.

Consistent with the rate of decay of these 280 days, in 15 years the fuel will have lost 80.20% of its radioactivity, bringing it to 35.71 Curies – but its long-lived toxicity will be elevated by 13.35%, contrarily, to 83.28 Billion lethal doses. Without question, the overall radioactivity falls but the persistent radiotoxicity increases until 60 years or so later, it commences to decline ever-so slowly after 350 years! (This irrefutable augmentation of toxicity over time is largely due to the increase of Americium-241 – alpha – a daughter product far more toxic than its beta-emitting parent, Plutonium-241. Ultimately, it will take around 350 years for the radiotoxicity to return to its original level…”

 http://www.aipri.blogspot.co.uk/2011/12/la-radioactivite-des-3-corium-de.html

Delicious Fukushima Peaches at the “konbeni” Checkout

Via Bruce Brinkman on August 16, 2017

 

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Don’t forget to pick up some delicious Fukushima peaches at the *konbeni* checkout

Never mind the “harmful rumors”

(a.k.a. measurements of cesium 137, cesium 134, strontium 90, americium, plutonium, uranium, and a splattering of other radionuclides)

 

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and as the next days those peaches just aren’t moving: ¥50 off to help sales !

High-priced Fukushima ice wall nears completion, but effectiveness doubtful

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A subterranean ice wall surrounding the nuclear reactors at the stricken Fukushima No. 1 Nuclear Power Plant to block groundwater from flowing in and out of the plant buildings has approached completion.

Initially, the ice wall was lauded as a trump card in controlling radioactively contaminated water at the plant in Fukushima Prefecture, which was crippled by meltdowns in the wake of the March 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake and tsunami. But while 34.5 billion yen from government coffers has already been invested in the wall, doubts remain about its effectiveness. Meanwhile, the issue of water contamination looms over decommissioning work.

In a news conference at the end of July, Naohiro Masuda, president and chief decommissioning officer of Fukushima Daiichi Decontamination & Decommissioning Engineering Co., stated, “We feel that the ice wall is becoming quite effective.” However, he had no articulate answer when pressed for concrete details, stating, “I can’t say how effective.”

The ice wall is created by circulating a coolant with a temperature of minus 30 degrees Celsius through 1,568 pipes that extend to a depth of 30 meters below the surface around the plant’s reactors. The soil around the pipes freezes to form a wall, which is supposed to stop groundwater from flowing into the reactor buildings where it becomes contaminated. A total of 260,000 people have worked on creating the wall.

ice wall 16 august 2017 2.jpgThis photo shows pipes to freeze soil for the ice wall next to the No. 4 reactor at TEPCO’s Fukushima No. 1 Nuclear Power Plant, in Okuma, Fukushima Prefecture, on June 1, 2016. (Mainichi)

 

The plant’s operator, Tokyo Electric Power Co. (TEPCO) began freezing soil in March last year, and as of Aug. 15, at least 99 percent of the wall had been completed, leaving just a 7-meter section to be frozen.

Soon after the outbreak of the nuclear disaster, about 400 tons of contaminated water was being produced each day. That figure has now dropped to roughly 130 tons. This is largely due to the introduction of a subdrain system in which water is drawn from about 40 wells around the reactor buildings. As for the ice wall, TEPCO has not provided any concrete information on its effectiveness. An official of the Secretariat of the Nuclear Regulation Authority (NRA) commented, “The subdrain performs the primary role, and the ice wall will probably be effective enough to supplement that.” This indicates that officials have largely backtracked from their designation of the ice wall as an effective means of battling contaminated water, and suggests there is unlikely to be a dramatic decrease in the amount of decontaminated groundwater once the ice wall is fully operational.

TEPCO ordered construction of the ice wall in May 2013 as one of several plans proposed by major construction firms that was selected by the government’s Committee on Countermeasures for Contaminated Water Treatment. In autumn of that year Tokyo was bidding to host the 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games, and the government sought to come to the fore and underscore its measures to deal with contaminated water on the global stage.

Using taxpayers’ money to cover an incident at a private company raised the possibility of a public backlash. But one official connected with the Committee on Countermeasures for Contaminated Water Treatment commented, “It was accepted that public funds could be spent if those funds were for the ice wall, which was a challenging project that had not been undertaken before.” Small-scale ice walls had been created in the past, but the scale of this one — extending 1.5 kilometers and taking years to complete — was unprecedented.

At first, the government and TEPCO explained that an ice wall could be created more quickly than a wall of clay and other barriers, and that if anything went wrong, the wall could be melted, returning the soil to its original state. However, fears emerged that if the level of groundwater around the reactor buildings drops as a result of the ice wall blocking the groundwater, then tainted water inside the reactor buildings could end up at a higher level, causing it to leak outside the building. Officials decided to freeze the soil in stages to measure the effects and effectiveness of the ice wall. As a result, full-scale operation of the wall — originally slated for fiscal 2015 — has been significantly delayed.

ice wall 16 august 2017.jpgA worker makes checks with a hammer on an impermeable wall near TEPCO’s No. 4 reactor in the town of Okuma in Fukushima Prefecture on Feb. 24, 2017. (Mainichi)

 

Furthermore, during screening by the NRA, which had approved the project, experts raised doubts about how effective the ice wall would be in blocking groundwater. The ironic reason for approving its full-scale operation, in the words of NRA acting head Toyoshi Fuketa, was that, “It has not been effective in blocking water, so we can go ahead with freezing with peace of mind” — without worrying that the level of groundwater surrounding the reactor buildings will increase, causing the contaminated water inside to flow out.

Maintaining the ice wall will cost over a billion yen a year, and the radiation exposure of workers involved in its maintenance is high. Meanwhile, there are no immediate prospects of being able to repair the basement damage in the reactor buildings at the crippled nuclear plant.

Nagoya University professor emeritus Akira Asaoka commented, “The way things stand, we’ll have to keep maintaining an ice wall that isn’t very effective. We should consider a different type of wall.”

In the meantime, TEPCO continues to be plagued over what to do with treated water at the plant. Tainted water is treated using TEPCO’s multi-nuclide removal equipment to remove 62 types of radioactive substances, but in principle, tritium cannot be removed during this process. Tritium is produced in nature through cosmic rays, and nuclear facilities around the world release it into the sea. The NRA takes the view that there is no problem with releasing treated water into the sea, but there is strong resistance to such a move, mainly from local fishing workers who are concerned about consumer fears that could damage their businesses. TEPCO has built tanks on the grounds of the Fukushima No. 1 plant to hold treated water, and the amount they hold is approaching 800,000 metric tons.

In mid-July, TEPCO Chairman Takashi Kawamura said in an interview with several news organizations that a decision to release the treated water into the sea had “already been made.” A Kyodo News report on his comment stirred a backlash from members of the fishing industry. TEPCO responded with an explanation that the chairman was not stating a course of action, but was merely agreeing with the view of the NRA that there were no problems scientifically with releasing the treated water. However, the anger from his comment has not subsided.

Critical opinions emerged in a subsequent meeting that the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry held in the Fukushima Prefecture city of Iwaki at the end of July regarding the decontamination of reactors and the handling of contaminated water. It was pointed out that prefectural residents had united to combat consumer fears and that they wanted officials to act with care. One participant asked whether the TEPCO chairman really knew about Fukushima.

The ministry has been considering ways to handle the treated water, setting up a committee in November last year that includes experts on risk evaluation and sociology. As of Aug. 15, five meetings had been held, but officials have yet to converge on a single opinion. “It’s not that easy for us to say, ‘Please let us release it.’ It will probably take some time to reach a conclusion,” a government official commented.

https://mainichi.jp/english/articles/20170816/p2a/00m/0na/016000c

 

 

Japanese Nuclear Regulator Permits Completion of ‘Ice Wall’ Beneath Fukushima

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Japan’s Nuclear Regulation Authority has approved the completion of the remaining parts of the Fukushima nuclear power plant’s “ice wall” ground freeze beneath the station in order to prevent groundwater from entering the damaged reactor’s facilities, local media reported Tuesday.

MOSCOW (Sputnik) – The plan stipulates creating a 0.9 mile long barrier by circulating coolant of 30 degrees below zero in pipes buried around the building. The “ice wall” is expected to keep groundwater from entering the station and therefore prevent an increase in amounts of water contaminated by radioactive substances. Initially, the Nuclear Regulation Authority was concerned with the fact that if the whole wall was created, it would probably lead to a drastic decrease in water in the area around the station and cause leakages of contaminated water outside the damaged reactor’s building. Experts thus previously ruled to leave a 23-foot section of the wall unfrozen.

According to the NHK broadcaster, the Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO), responsible for the project, claimed that the completion of the wall would not result in a sudden decrease of water levels, and even if it would, the company promised to take immediate measures. After considering the company’s position, experts allowed to complete the “ice wall.”

The broadcaster said that TEPCO will begin the remaining work on August 22, completing the soil freeze that first began in March 2016. It was also reported that after the works are completed, the Nuclear Regulation Authority would carefully assess the results and examine whether there have been any positive improvements in water contamination.

In 2011, a major earthquake triggered a tsunami that hit Japan’s Fukushima NPP and led to the leakage of radioactive materials and the shutdown of the plant. Following the incident, Tokyo shut down all the NPPs in Japan and began to restart them after introducing new security standards.

https://sputniknews.com/asia/201708151056482387-japan-fukushima-ice-wall/

Fukushima nuke plant decommissioning still has long way to go

 

Mainichi Shimbun reporters visited the Fukushima No. 1 Nuclear Power Plant on July 27. While the working environment at the station has improved, plant operator Tokyo Electric Power Co. (TEPCO) still has a mountain of problems to tackle, such as removing melted nuclear fuel from the No. 1 to No. 3 reactors and treating contaminated water.

https://mainichi.jp/english/articles/20170811/p2a/00m/0na/025000c