Wild Mushrooms to be Blamed for the Spread of Cesium in Fukushima!

Let me introduce this pro-nuclear article and pro-revitalization; because it directs the spotlight on a scientific study _ itself hijacked? Or does “it find only what is sought”? … on the causes of the increase in cesium 137 in the air and that without reminding the reader of the slightest rule of prudence, which would be, however, the least of all things. Worse, instilling lies like “even if one inhaled the air not far from these mushrooms, it will never have any effect on health”.
The scientific conclusion is twofold: wild mushrooms absorb cesium, concentrate it and then release it into the atmosphere via their spores. This would explain why, so they pretend, in the mountains northwest of Namie, in a difficult return zone, the Cs137 radioactivity measured in the atmosphere is multiplied by 5 in summer compared to winter, whereas elsewhere it is the reverse, in the city of Fukushima for example, (they say) Cs increases in winter …

In the end, the “scientists” say and repeat that in any case, the levels of Cs that circulate in the atmosphere because of these damn mushrooms, “it’s three times nothing” (sic!), and the Asahi will put, at the end of the article, a BIG lie:
“Last summer, levels of cesium concentration in the atmosphere, in the mountains and forests of Namie, which are planned to be decontaminated (sic!), were almost identical to those measured 1 km further in an area that had been decontaminated … ”

Note from the author who wishes to stay anonymous: Decontamination is impossible.
The propaganda spiel to prepare the public opinion for the lifting of the evacuation orders in ALL the zones, including those most uninhabitable, is in full swing!

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SIX YEARS AFTER : Wild mushrooms to blame for the spread of cesium in Fukushima

Radioactive cesium released after the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant’s triple meltdown in 2011 is continuing to contaminate the environment through wild mushrooms, scientists say.

It turns out that the fungi absorb cesium and then release it through their spores after concentrating it.

But the amount of cesium in the environment is minuscule and poses no threat to human health, say the researchers, who are primarily with the Meteorological Research Institute of the Japan Meteorological Agency, Ibaraki University, and Kanazawa University.

The new findings indicate that cesium is released into the environment again by mushroom spores in mountains and forests in zones designated as difficult to return to because of high contamination levels after the nuclear accident triggered by the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami disaster.

Radiation levels in the air are measured at monitoring posts and disclosed to the public. Those measurements are taken at a designated height to measure radiation from the ground and in the atmosphere.

In a separate effort, a team of scientists from the Meteorological Research Institute and other bodies measured the radioactivity concentration of cesium-137 by collecting airborne particles 1 meter above ground in Fukushima Prefecture.

The team’s survey showed that cesium levels in a mountainous area in the northwestern part of the town of Namie rise five times in summer compared with winter. The region is part of the difficult-to-return zone.

The increased cesium level during summer is equivalent to less than one ten-thousandth of the radiation dose of 2.1 millisieverts, which the average individual is naturally exposed to each year.

The latest findings were in marked contrast to studies covering the prefectural capital of Fukushima and elsewhere that showed cesium levels were higher in winter than summer.

Initially, the researchers considered the possibility of cesium on the ground’s surface being kicked up by clouds of dust. But they found no clear association between the cesium level and dust.

Teruya Maki, an associate professor of microorganism ecology at Kanazawa University, analyzed genes of airborne particles gathered in forests and mountains in the northwestern part of Namie from August to September 2015.

The results showed that many of the particles were derived from mushrooms.

Between June and October last year, more than 10 kinds of wild mushrooms were gathered on 10 occasions in the region’s forests and mountains. The radioactivity concentration levels in the spores measured up to 143 becquerels per gram.

When multiplying the cesium concentration per spore by the number of collected spores per cubic meter, the result roughly matched the measured cesium concentration for the area.

Spores in which cesium was concentrated were likely released into the atmosphere, raising the airborne concentration,” said Kazuyuki Kita, an air environment science professor at Ibaraki University, who was involved in the analysis of cesium levels.

The amount of cesium contained in a spore of sampled mushrooms was extremely small.

Even if people inhale the air in areas where mushroom spores containing cesium are spreading, that could never affect human health,” said Kazuhiko Ninomiya, a researcher of radiochemistry at Osaka University, who is a member of the research team.

The researchers are also trying to ascertain the extent to which the mushroom spores spread. They are planning more studies to figure out if the distances involved could be several kilometers.

Last summer, airborne cesium concentration levels for mountains and forests in Namie that have yet to be decontaminated were almost the same as those for an area 1 kilometer away that has been decontaminated on a trial basis.

That indicates cesium is likely spreading in the air, according to the scientists.

http://www.asahi.com/ajw/articles/AJ201703210001.html


 

 

How nuclear apologists mislead the world over radiation

George Monbiot and others at best misinform and at worst distort evidence of the dangers of atomic energy

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A girl is screened in Iitate, about 40km from the damaged Fukushima nuclear plant, where high levels of radiation have been detected.

From Monday 11 April 2011

Soon after the Fukushima accident last month, I stated publicly that a nuclear event of this size and catastrophic potential could present a medical problem of very large dimensions. Events have proven this observation to be true despite the nuclear industry’s campaign about the “minimal” health effects of so-called low-level radiation. That billions of its dollars are at stake if the Fukushima event causes the “nuclear renaissance” to slow down appears to be evident from the industry’s attacks on its critics, even in the face of an unresolved and escalating disaster at the reactor complex at Fukushima.

Proponents of nuclear power – including George Monbiot, who has had a mysterious road-to-Damascus conversion to its supposedly benign effects – accuse me and others who call attention to the potential serious medical consequences of the accident of “cherry-picking” data and overstating the health effects of radiation from the radioactive fuel in the destroyed reactors and their cooling pools. Yet by reassuring the public that things aren’t too bad, Monbiot and others at best misinform, and at worst misrepresent or distort, the scientific evidence of the harmful effects of radiation exposure – and they play a predictable shoot-the-messenger game in the process.

To wit:

1) Mr Monbiot, who is a journalist not a scientist, appears unaware of the difference between external and internal radiation

Let me educate him.

The former is what populations were exposed to when the atomic bombs were detonated over Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945; their profound and on-going medical effects are well documented. [1]

Internal radiation, on the other hand, emanates from radioactive elements which enter the body by inhalation, ingestion, or skin absorption. Hazardous radionuclides such as iodine-131, caesium 137, and other isotopes currently being released in the sea and air around Fukushima bio-concentrate at each step of various food chains (for example into algae, crustaceans, small fish, bigger fish, then humans; or soil, grass, cow’s meat and milk, then humans). [2] After they enter the body, these elements – called internal emitters – migrate to specific organs such as the thyroid, liver, bone, and brain, where they continuously irradiate small volumes of cells with high doses of alpha, beta and/or gamma radiation, and over many years, can induce uncontrolled cell replication – that is, cancer. Further, many of the nuclides remain radioactive in the environment for generations, and ultimately will cause increased incidences of cancer and genetic diseases over time.

The grave effects of internal emitters are of the most profound concern at Fukushima. It is inaccurate and misleading to use the term “acceptable levels of external radiation” in assessing internal radiation exposures. To do so, as Monbiot has done, is to propagate inaccuracies and to mislead the public worldwide (not to mention other journalists) who are seeking the truth about radiation’s hazards.

2) Nuclear industry proponents often assert that low doses of radiation (eg below 100mSV) produce no ill effects and are therefore safe. But , as the US National Academy of Sciences BEIR VII report has concluded, no dose of radiation is safe, however small, including background radiation; exposure is cumulative and adds to an individual’s risk of developing cancer.

3) Now let’s turn to Chernobyl. Various seemingly reputable groups have issued differing reports on the morbidity and mortalities resulting from the 1986 radiation catastrophe. The World Health Organisation (WHO) in 2005 issued a report attributing only 43 human deaths directly to the Chernobyl disaster and estimating an additional 4,000 fatal cancers. In contrast, the 2009 report, “Chernobyl: Consequences of the Catastrophe for People and the Environment”, published by the New York Academy of Sciences, comes to a very different conclusion. The three scientist authors – Alexey V Yablokov, Vassily B. Nesterenko, and Alexey V Nesterenko – provide in its pages a translated synthesis and compilation of hundreds of scientific articles on the effects of the Chernobyl disaster that have appeared in Slavic language publications over the past 20 years. They estimate the number of deaths attributable to the Chernobyl meltdown at about 980,000.

Monbiot dismisses the report as worthless, but to do so – to ignore and denigrate an entire body of literature, collectively hundreds of studies that provide evidence of large and significant impacts on human health and the environment – is arrogant and irresponsible. Scientists can and should argue over such things, for example, as confidence intervals around individual estimates (which signal the reliability of estimates), but to consign out of hand the entire report into a metaphorical dustbin is shameful.

Further, as Prof Dimitro Godzinsky, of the Ukranian National Academy of Sciences, states in his introduction to the report: “Against this background of such persuasive data some defenders of atomic energy look specious as they deny the obvious negative effects of radiation upon populations. In fact, their reactions include almost complete refusal to fund medical and biological studies, even liquidating government bodies that were in charge of the ‘affairs of Chernobyl’. Under pressure from the nuclear lobby, officials have also diverted scientific personnel away from studying the problems caused by Chernobyl.”

4) Monbiot expresses surprise that a UN-affiliated body such as WHOmight be under the influence of the nuclear power industry, causing its reporting on nuclear power matters to be biased. And yet that is precisely the case.

In the early days of nuclear power, WHO issued forthright statements on radiation risks such as its 1956 warning: “Genetic heritage is the most precious property for human beings. It determines the lives of our progeny, health and harmonious development of future generations. As experts, we affirm that the health of future generations is threatened by increasing development of the atomic industry and sources of radiation … We also believe that new mutations that occur in humans are harmful to them and their offspring.”

After 1959, WHO made no more statements on health and radioactivity. What happened? On 28 May 1959, at the 12th World Health Assembly, WHO drew up an agreement with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA); clause 12.40 of this agreement says: “Whenever either organisation [the WHO or the IAEA] proposes to initiate a programme or activity on a subject in which the other organisation has or may have a substantial interest, the first party shall consult the other with a view to adjusting the matter by mutual agreement.” In other words, the WHO grants the right of prior approval over any research it might undertake or report on to the IAEA – a group that many people, including journalists, think is a neutral watchdog, but which is, in fact, an advocate for the nuclear power industry. The IAEA’s founding papers state: “The agency shall seek to accelerate and enlarge the contribution of atomic energy to peace, health and prosperity through the world.”

Monbiot appears ignorant about the WHO’s subjugation to the IAEA, yet this is widely known within the scientific radiation community. But it is clearly not the only matter on which he is ignorant after his apparent three-day perusal of the vast body of scientific information on radiation and radioactivity. As we have seen, he and other nuclear industry apologists sow confusion about radiation risks, and, in my view, in much the same way that the tobacco industry did in previous decades about the risks of smoking. Despite their claims, it is they, not the “anti-nuclear movement” who are “misleading the world about the impacts of radiation on human health.”

Helen Caldicott is president of the Helen Caldicott Foundation for a Nuclear-Free Planet and the author of Nuclear Power is Not the Answer

[1] See, for example, WJ Schull, Effects of Atomic Radiation: A Half-Century of Studies from Hiroshima and Nagasaki (New York: Wiley-Lis, 1995) and DE Thompson, K Mabuchi, E Ron, M Soda, M Tokunaga, S Ochikubo, S Sugimoto, T Ikeda, M Terasaki, S Izumi et al. “Cancer incidence in atomic bomb survivors, Part I: Solid tumors, 1958-1987” in Radiat Res 137:S17-S67 (1994).

[2] This process is called bioaccumulation and comes in two subtypes as well, bioconcentration and biomagnification. For more information see: J.U. Clark and V.A. McFarland, Assessing Bioaccumulation in Aquatic Organisms Exposed to Contaminated Sediments, Miscellaneous Paper D-91-2 (1991), Environmental Laboratory, Waterways Experiment Station, Vicksburg, MS and H.A. Vanderplog, D.C. Parzyck, W.H. Wilcox, J.R. Kercher, and S.V. Kaye, Bioaccumulation Factors for Radionuclides in Freshwater Biota, ORNL-5002 (1975), Environmental Sciences Division Publication, Number 783, Oak Ridge National Laboratory, Oak Ridge, TN.

https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2011/apr/11/nuclear-apologists-radiation

Japan court shocks nuclear industry with liability ruling

Court sends a shockwave through Japan’s nuclear establishment with ruling on Fukushima accident.

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A writing inside Ukedo elementary school, damaged by the March 11, 2011 tsunami, is seen near Tokyo Electric Power Co’s (TEPCO) tsunami-crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant in Namie town, Fukushima prefecture, Japan, March 1, 2017.

Japan’s atomic power establishment is in shock following the court ruling on Friday that found the state and the operator of the Fukushima nuclear plant liable for failing to take preventive measures against the tsunami that crippled the facility.

The reason for the shock is the ruling has wide-ranging implications for Japan’s entire nuclear power industry and the efforts to restart reactors throughout the country.

Judges in the Maebashi District Court in Gunma prefecture ruled that Tokyo Electric Power Co. (Tepco) and the government were aware of the earthquake and tsunami risks to the Fukushima Daiichi plant prior to the 2011 triple reactor meltdown, but failed to take preventative measures.

The decision was welcomed by the 137 Fukushima citizens who filed the lawsuit in 2014. What needs to be remembered is a further 28 civil and criminal lawsuits in 18 prefectures across Japan are pending. They involve more than 10,000 citizens and include a shareholder claim seeking compensation of 5.5 trillion yen (US$49 billion).

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Map of Japan’s nuclear plants

Tepco is already a de facto bankrupt, has been effectively nationalized and now faces the unprecedented challenges of how to remove three melted reactors at the Fukushima plant.

Six years after the disaster it still faces unanswered questions about the precise causes of the accident, questions that have generated public opposition to Tepco restarting reactors at another plant in Kashiwazki-kariwa in Niigata prefecture, on the opposite coastline to Fukushima.

Beside the court ruling being yet another blow to Tepco’s efforts to recover from the Fukushima nuclear disaster, the judgement will be highly disruptive to plans by the government and utilities to restart nuclear reactors in Japan.

In the court ruling, the judges found that science-based evidence of major risks to the nuclear plant was “foreseen” but ignored and not acted upon by Japan’s government and Tepco.

The evidence included a 2002 government assessment that concluded there was a 20% risk of a magnitude 8 or greater earthquake off the coast of northeastern Japan within 30 years. This includes the sea bed area off the Fukushima Daiichi plant.

Further, the plaintiffs cited a 2008 internal Tepco report ‘Tsunami Measures Unavoidable’ which included the likelihood of a potential 15.7 meter tsunami hitting the Fukushima nuclear site.

The court ruled that if the government had used its regulatory powers to make Tepco take countermeasures, such as installing seawalls, against such an event, the nuclear disaster could have been avoided.

While the judges in Gunma prefecture have concluded that ignoring evidence of risk can have devastating consequences, that does not seem to be the approach of the nuclear utilities or the Nuclear Regulation Authority (NRA).

Over the last four years, the NRA has demonstrated a tendency to ignore evidence of risks to nuclear plants that have made applications to restart reactors shut down after the Fukushima disaster, and to bend to the demands of the nuclear power companies and the government.

A total of 26 reactors have applied for NRA review, of which seven have passed and four more will likely be approved this year.

In each case, the NRA has failed to apply a robust approach to assessing risks. It has chose to screen out seismic faults that threaten nuclear plants, failed to follow recommendations from international safety guidelines, and accepted selective evidence on volcanic risks.

In the case of the three forty-year old reactors at Takahama and Mihama, the NRA approved the reactors, while granting the utility an exemption from demonstrating that the reactors primary circuit can meet the 2013 post Fukushima revised safety guidelines, until a later date.

All of these safety issues have the potential when things go wrong — see Fukushima — to lead to severe accidents, including reactor core meltdown.

District courts have issued injunctions against reactor restarts in Fukui prefecture, and in a historic ruling in March 2016 a court in Shiga prefecture ordered the immediate shutdown of the Takahama 3 and 4 reactors.

An appeal court is scheduled to rule on the above in the coming weeks and while it is anticipated that the reactor owner Kansai Electric will likely win, the prospects of further legal action remains.

Next month, for example, the former deputy chair of the NRA, Kunihiko Shimazaki will testify in a lawsuit against the operation of the Ohi reactors owned by Kansai Electric in western Japan.

Shimazeki, emeritus professor of seismology at Tokyo University and the only seismologist to have been an NRA commissioner, has challenged the formulas used by the regulator in computing the scale of earthquakes, which he believes underestimates potential seismic impact by factor of 3.5.

Last July the NRA dismissed Professor Shimazeki’s evidence.

Six years after the start of the Fukushima Daiichi accident, only 3 of Japan’s reactors are currently operating out of the 54 available in 2011.

For any business that runs the risk of its principal cash-generating asset being shut down at any point and for an extended period through legal challenges, the future does not look bright — unless you are granted approval to disregard the evidence.

The utilities are hemorrhaging money and therefore run the risk of following the same path as Tepco prior to 2011 in prioritizing cost savings over safety.

Such an approach directly led to the bankruptcy of Tepco, one the worlds largest power companies, and liabilities of at least 21 trillion yen.

The nuclear industry and current government of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe understand that to allow robust evidence of safety risks, in particular seismic, to determine the future of operation of reactors would mean the end of nuclear power in Japan.

Citizens from Fukushima with their lawyers and now supported by the judges, have moved Japan one step closer to that eventual scenario.

Shaun Burnie is a senior nuclear specialist with Greenpeace Germany. He has worked on nuclear issues worldwide for more than three decades, including since 1991 on Japan’s nuclear policy. sburnie@greenpeace.org

http://www.atimes.com/article/japan-court-shocks-nuclear-industry-liability-ruling/

Clearer water inside reactor 1 should help find melted fuel at Fukushima plant

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A robot on March 18 took this image of a valve and a pipe in cooling water at the bottom of the containment vessel of the No. 1 reactor at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant.

Cooling water in the No. 1 reactor of the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant has improved in transparency, which should make it easier to pinpoint the location of melted nuclear fuel, the plant’s operator said.

The improved transparency, compared with the level two years ago, was confirmed on March 18, when a research robot took an image that clearly showed a valve and a pipe in the water at the bottom of the reactor’s containment vessel, Tokyo Electric Power Co. said March 19.

Devices on the robot measured radiation levels of 7.8 sieverts per hour on a metal stage for workers and 1.5 sieverts per hour in the water.

The research robot on March 20 and 21 will study areas where the melted nuclear fuel could exist.

http://www.asahi.com/ajw/articles/AJ201703200028.html

Robots Go Into The Fukushima Nuclear Plant Site, But Don’t Come Out

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In 2011, a 9.0 magnitude earthquake off the coast of Japan caused a massive tsunami, which in turn led to the meltdown of three nuclear reactors at the Fukushima Nuclear Power Plant in Fukushima, Japan. As a result, the site went on to release radioactive material for the next three days, becoming only the second such disaster in history–after Chernobyl in 1986–to be classified a Level 7 event on the Nuclear Event Scale.

So perhaps it should come as no surprise that, just past the tragedy’s six year anniversary, Tokyo Electric Power Co. (Tepco) has made little progress in cleaning up the disaster site. 

While Tepco has spent much of its time containing radiation and attempting to minimize groundwater contamination, its current mission is to locate and retrieve 600 tons of melted nuclear fuel rods lost somewhere in the radioactive wreckage. As the levels of radiation are still too high for human exposure, this task has fallen to robots. Yet so far, even the robots have failed repeatedly to locate the melted fuel rods; instead, they are dying within the reactors they were sent in to survey. 

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The latest device to meet its end was a scorpion-shaped robot built by Toshiba, which entered one of the reactors last month but stalled just 10 feet short of its target in a matter of hours. While it was ultimately undone by the failure of its left roller-belt, the robot was exposed to far higher than expected levels of radiation, which likely interfered with its electronics and prevented it from sending photos that could have shed some light on the location of the melted fuel rods.

Despite being manufactured using special radiation-hardened materials to protect its circuits from exposure, the levels of radiation it encountered within the reactor far exceeded the robot’s tolerance. Two prior robot missions had to be aborted as well after one got stuck and another failed to locate any melted fuel for several days.

Despite the setbacks, Tepco believes it is getting closer to locating the melted fuel, and hopes to begin removal by 2021, but admits it is a long-term project. The Japanese government estimates that it will take upwards of 40 years and $70.6 billion to complete the clean-up.

According to MIT nuclear science professor Jacopo Buongiorno, “the roadmap for removing the fuel is going to be long, 2020 and beyond. The re-solidified fuel is likely stuck to the vessel wall and vessel internal structures. So the debris have to be cut, scooped, put into a sealed and shielded container and then extracted from the containment vessel. All done by robots.”

But that begs the question: what robots? 

None of those they’ve sent in so far has done the trick. What if the technology required to create the chips and robots that are radiation-hardened yet not too weighed down by protective shielding hasn’t even been invented yet? Bloomberg reports that Toshiba intends to send a new robot into Reactor 3 next year at this time to continue the search, but it is still in the development phase, and Toshiba has not yet made design details public.

The good news is that with a 40 year time horizon, the likelihood of technology catching up with Tepco’s needs is fairly good. But when will the site be clean enough so that more people may return to their homes? In the meantime, radioactive boars have been making themselves quite at home there.

http://secondnexus.com/technology-and-innovation/fukushima-robots-keep-dying/

Fukushima fishermen fight release of tainted water as tritium standoff continues

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On Feb. 25, against a clear sky, fishing boats bearing colorful banners used to signal a rich haul returned to their home port of Ukedo in the town of Namie, Fukushima Prefecture. Cheers erupted as the boats, which had taken refuge in Minamisoma in the wake of the 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake and the nuclear crisis, made their way home for the first time in six years.

The Soma-Futaba fishing cooperative will soon resume fishing for konago (young lancefish), after the heads of fishing co-ops in the prefecture approved the start of experimental fishing operations 10 to 20 km from the meltdown-hit Fukushima No. 1 power plant, run by Tokyo Electric Power Co. Holdings Inc.

Despite the steady recovery moves, however, local fishermen are not optimistic because their industry still faces “concern” that radioactive fish could tarnish their reputation.

Fukushima No. 1 currently has 950,000 tons of radioactive water in storage that has been desalinated and filtered to remove some of the radioactive elements, but the volume is increasing at a pace of 150,000 tons a year.

Of the 950,000 tons, 750,000 were further treated with the Advanced Liquid Processing System, to remove most of the remaining isotopes. But even ALPS cannot remove tritium, and this has the fishing industry concerned that water tainted with tritium could ultimately be released into the ocean.

The debate over what to do about the tainted water has turned into a standoff. The central government set up a committee in September to discuss disposal and studied five options, including ocean release, underground burial and air release. But the committee could not agree on any of them because all had the potential to damage the reputation of Fukushima’s seafood.

Hiroshige Seko, head of the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry has jurisdiction over the issue but appears reluctant to bring the debate to a rapid conclusion.

We have not decided on the schedule, including when to conclude (the debate),” he said in a recent interview with the Fukushima Minpo.

Tritium is a common byproduct of normal nuclear power plant operations. Its release into the ocean is permitted worldwide as long as the concentration doesn’t exceed certain levels. In Japan, the legal threshold for tritium release is 60,000 becquerels per 1 liter.

Shunichi Tanaka, chairman of the Nuclear Regulation Authority, has said “there is no solution than ocean release” for the tritium generated at Fukushima No. 1, noting that if the concentration is within legal limits, the government should go ahead with the release. Officials at related international institutions have expressed similar views.

But the prefectural association of fishing cooperatives remains opposed, worried that an ocean release could further damage the image of Fukushima’s fish and seafood.

A fisherman from Onahama in the city of Iwaki said, “The move could lead to a loss of trust in the prefecture’s seafood, which the fishermen have worked hard to build.”

On the other hand, if the disposal debate goes unresolved, the amount of tainted water at Fukushima No. 1 will continue to rise and delay the decommissioning of the plant.

Tepco has said it “will decide (on the fate of the water) in a responsible manner by watching the government debate and weighing the opinions of local residents.”

The fishery industry is watching how the central government balances the two jobs of revitalizing the industry and handling tritium-tainted water — and how it can thoroughly explain the decision in ways people both in Japan and abroad can understand, without leaving it entirely up to Tepco.

http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2017/03/19/national/fukushima-fishermen-fight-release-tainted-water-tritium-standoff-continues/#.WM7nfKKmnIU

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Robot Probe Forays Inside Fukushima Daiichi Reactor 1

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Grating inside the containment vessel of the No. 1 reactor at the crippled Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant is seen in this handout image captured by a robot Saturday.

Robot makes foray into reactor 1

Tokyo Electric on Sunday confirmed lethally high radiation levels inside the primary containment vessel of reactor 1 at the heavily damaged Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant but found they were not nearly as high as those recently logged in reactor 2.

Using a camera-equipped robot on Saturday, Tepco logged 7.8 sieverts per hour on some grating inside the vessel and 1.5 sieverts per hour in water pooled at its bottom.

Those figures are far lower than the 210 sieverts per hour measured at one spot in the PVC of the No. 2 reactor last month, but they are still extremely high.

The four-day probe launched by Tepco on Saturday is aimed at locating the melted fuel rods inside the No. 1 reactor building.

The primary mission of the robot is to investigate the bottom of the containment vessel to see if it can capture images of the melted fuel. Debris is believed to have penetrated the vessel and fallen into the surrounding containment vessel as a result of the heavy damage inflicted by the March 2011 tsunami that devastated eastern Tohoku.

The pressure vessel is the main component of the reactor and contains the fuel rod assemblies. Finding the exact location and condition of the melted fuel is considered critically important to dismantling the reactors.

However, the high radiation inside poses a daunting challenge for those involved in the decommissioning work.

In photos handed out to the media, a valve is shown covered in a yellowish substance that the utility said could be rust.

Another photo shows the grating that the robot, which is attached to a cable, was traveling on.

The utility had sent the robot into the PVC of reactor 1 two years ago but it could only capture images of the grating at the time.

Tepco said the robot can withstand up to 1,000 sieverts before malfunctioning. It traveled about 5 meters on Saturday and will eventually make its way to the other side of the concrete structure through a space that runs beneath the pressure vessel, which houses the core.

If the robot reaches its goal, computer simulations by Tepco show that there is a chance that melted fuel rods could be found there, Tepco said.

In January and February, Tepco investigated the containment vessel of the No. 2 reactor.

It is now preparing to conduct a similar robot probe of the reactor 3.

http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2017/03/19/national/robot-makes-foray-reactor-1/#.WND_z6KmnIV

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