Key figures for the seventh anniversary

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February 17, 2018

Translation by Herve Courtois from the ACRO article

http://fukushima.eu.org/chiffres-cles-septieme-anniversaire/

All the figures quoted in this article are from TEPCO and the Japanese government. We can safely assume the true figures to be somehow higher, as we know from the past 7 years that TEPCO and the Japanese government have never been straightforward with their figures.

 

As we approach the seventh anniversary of the nuclear disaster at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, here are some key figures as they appear in the media and official websites. This article will be updated as they appear.

Situation of the reactors

The work is aimed primarily at securing the damaged reactors that are still threatening. Nearby, the dose rates are such that the work time of the workers must be very limited, which complicates the work.

Reactor # 4

The reactor vessel was empty on March 11, 2011 so there was no core melting, but a hydrogen explosion destroyed the reactor building. Since December 2014, the reactor fuel pool has been emptied and work is stopped because it is no longer threatening. http://www.tepco.co.jp/en/press/corp-com/release/2014/1246703_5892.html

The few dose rates available inside the reactor building are here expressed in mSv / h, knowing that the limits are in mSv / year. They date from 2016. www.tepco.co.jp/en/nu/fukushima-np/f1/surveymap/images/sv-u4-20160630-e.pdf

Reactor # 3

There was a core meltdown and a hydrogen explosion destroyed the reactor building. All top debris were removed using remotely controlled gear. A new building is being finished. Fuel removal is expected to begin this year and end in 2019.

The first images taken inside the containment led to a revision of the core fusion scenario.

http://photo.tepco.co.jp/en/date/2017/201707-e/170721-01e.html

http://photo.tepco.co.jp/en/date/2017/201707-e/170722-01e.html

www.tepco.co.jp/en/nu/fukushima-np/handouts/2017/images/handouts_170722_01-e.pdf

The few dose rates available inside the reactor building are here expressed in mSv / h, knowing that the limits are in mSv / year. They date from 2016.

www.tepco.co.jp/en/nu/fukushima-np/f1/surveymap/images/sv-u3-20160630-e.pdf

There would be between 188 and 394 tonnes of corium in this reactor, with a nominal value of 364 tonnes for reactor No. 3. The latter contains MOx fuel, which contains plutonium. To know more:

http://www.fukushimaminponews.com/news.html?id=739

Reactor # 2

There was a melting of the core, but the reactor building is whole. TEPCO has not started removing used fuel from the pool. The company sent several robots into the containment to locate the corium, the mixture of molten fuel and debris.

Several series of images have been put online by the company. Those taken in January 2017 were analyzed and put back online in December 2017. There is a gaping hole just below the vessel, most likely due to the passage of molten fuel.

www.tepco.co.jp/en/nu/fukushima-np/handouts/2017/images/handouts_171130_01-e.pdf

Those obtained in January 2018 at the bottom of the containment enclosure show what TEPCO thinks is corium and fragments of fuel assembly.

http://photo.tepco.co.jp/en/date/2018-e/201801-e/180119-01e.html

http://www.tepco.co.jp/en/news/library/archive-e.html?video_uuid=uikti9fd&catid=61785

www.tepco.co.jp/en/nu/fukushima-np/handouts/2018/images/handouts_180119_01-e.pdf

Dose rates inside the containment enclosure are lethal within minutes. The latest results published following the January 2018 exploration are quite surprising: not higher near what TEPCO thinks is corium, but higher outside.

www.tepco.co.jp/en/nu/fukushima-np/handouts/2018/images/handouts_180201_01-e.pdf

The few dose rates available inside the reactor building are here expressed in mSv / h, knowing that the limits are in mSv / year. They date from 2016.

www.tepco.co.jp/en/nu/fukushima-np/f1/surveymap/images/sv-u2-20160630-e.pdf

There would be between 189 and 390 tonnes of corium in this reactor, with a nominal value of 237 tonnes. To know more:

http://www.fukushimaminponews.com/news.html?id=739

Reactor # 1

There was a core meltdown and a hydrogen explosion destroyed the reactor building. This building was covered by a new structure in 2011, which was completely dismantled in November 2016. TEPCO began removing the debris from the upper part of the reactor, then rebuilding a new structure to empty the pool. fuels.

The dose rates inside the reactor building are here expressed in mSv / h, knowing that the limits are in mSv / year. They date from 2016.

www.tepco.co.jp/en/nu/fukushima-np/f1/surveymap/images/sv-u1-20160630-e.pdf

There would be between 232 and 357 tons of corium in this reactor, with a nominal value of 279 tons. To know more:

http://www.fukushimaminponews.com/news.html?id=739

Reactors 5 and 6

Reactors 5 and 6 were partially unloaded on March 11, 2011, and a backup diesel generator was still functional, which prevented the core from melting. These reactors are now fully unloaded and will be dismantled.

Contamination of the plant

The last dose rates on the plant site published by TEPCO are from February 2017:

Groundwater also remains contaminated. Figures to come.

 

 

Contaminated water

The fuel that has melted and drilled the vessels must always be cooled. To this end, TEPCO injects 72 m3 of water per day into each of the reactors 1, 2 and 3 for this purpose. This makes a total of 216 m3 per day. This water is highly contaminated by contact with the molten fuel and infiltrates the basements of the reactor and turbine buildings where it mixes with the groundwater that infiltrates it.

www.tepco.co.jp/en/press/corp-com/release/betu18_e/images/180205e0101.pdf

At the beginning of the disaster, the infiltration amounted to about 400 m3 per day, which became contaminated and had to be stored in tanks. Inversely, the water of the basements, highly contaminated, leaked towards the groundwater then the ocean.

To reduce groundwater seepage, TEPCO pumps upstream of reactors before this water is contaminated and releases it directly into the ocean. It has also built a barrier all along the shoreline and pumps groundwater at the foot of the reactors. Part of this is partially decontaminated and released into the ocean. Another part, too contaminated, is mixed with the pumped water in the basements of the reactors to be put in tanks after treatment, waiting for a better solution.

The last barrier put in place is the freezing of the ground all around the 4 accidented reactors, on 1.4 km in order to stop the infiltrations. After many setbacks, the ice wall is finished since November 2017, but the effect remains limited. Even the Nuclear Regulatory Authority, the NRA, seriously doubts the effectiveness of this technique, which it now considers secondary.

A year ago, during our previous assessment, TEPCO pumped 135 m3 of contaminated water daily in the basements of reactor and turbine buildings, in addition to the one it injected for cooling and 62 m3 of groundwater, which made a total of 197 m3 which accumulated daily in tanks after treatment. It’s more in case of rain, or even more during typhoons.

www.tepco.co.jp/en/nu/fukushima-np/handouts/2017/images/handouts_170213_01-e.pdf

Now that the soil freeze is over, these flows have been reduced. According to the latest report published by the company, 75 m3 of groundwater infiltrate daily in the basements of reactors to which must be added 15 m3 per pumped groundwater too contaminated to be treated directly before discharge to sea. therefore makes a total of 90 m3 per day. These values correspond to a week without rain. In case of heavy rainfall, it is much more, even if TEPCO has paved and concreted all soils to limit infiltration.

www.tepco.co.jp/en/nu/fukushima-np/handouts/2018/images/handouts_180205_01-e.pdf

The water pumped into the basements is treated and stored in tanks at the plant site. TEPCO removes 62 radioelements, but it remains notably tritium, radioactive hydrogen, which is difficult to separate. The company announces that it has already treated 1,891,070 m3 of contaminated water, which generated 9,219 m3 of highly radioactive liquid waste and 597 m3 of radioactive sludge. Part of this is used for cooling and the rest is stored in tanks. According to the company, the stock of treated or partially treated water amounts to 1,037,148 m3 plus 35,010 m3 of water in the basements of the reactor and turbine buildings. There are nearly a thousand tanks to keep this water that occupy almost the entire site of the plant.

www.tepco.co.jp/en/press/corp-com/release/betu18_e/images/180205e0101.pdf

What to do with this treated water? After considering several unrealistic solutions, there remains only the rejection at sea. The concentration in tritium would be one to five million becquerels per liter, which is more than the authorized limit, set at 60 000 Bq / L. But, just dilute, as is done in normal operation. The problem is rather on the side of the total stock, estimated at 3.4 PBq (3.4 billion million becquerels), which represents about 150 years of rejection to the authorized limit.

www.meti.go.jp/earthquake/nuclear/pdf/140424/140424_02_003.pdf

By way of comparison, the discharge authorization at the Areva plant in La Hague is 18.5 PBq for tritium and the actual releases in recent years ranged from 11.6 to 13.4 PBq per year. The Fukushima tritium stock therefore represents 3 ½ months of discards at La Hague. What make the Japanese authorities jealous!

https://apnews.com/5d0932a5a57a4c94821d7e8b5b3f8d4b/japan-prepares-release-tritium-fukushima-plant

On the other hand, we do not know the concentration of other radioelements after filtering. This is important for an impact study before rejection. Toyoshi Fuketa, the president of the Nuclear Regulatory Authority, has asked for a decision to be made this year, saying that the rejection at sea is the only solution. The preparation of the rejection should take two to three years, according to him, and TEPCO will quickly run out of space.

https://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2018/01/11/national/regulator-urges-tepco-release-treated-radioactive-water-damaged-fukushima-no-1-nuclear-plant-sea/

Workers

At the Fukushima daiichi nuclear power plant

From March 11, 2011 to March 31, 2016, 46,956 workers were exposed to ionizing radiation at the site of the Fukushima daï-ichi power station, including 42,244 subcontractors. It is the subcontractors who take the highest doses, with an average that varies from 0.51 to 0.56 mSv per month between January and February 2016. It is between 0.18 and 0.22 for employees of TEPCO.
There are also 1,203 people who have a higher limit to continue to enter the site. Their average cumulative dose since the beginning of the accident is 36.49 mSv and the maximum value of 102.69 mSv.

www.mhlw.go.jp/english/topics/2011eq/workers/irpw/ede_160430.pdf

On April 1, 2016, TEPCO reset all meters. For example, 174 workers who exceeded the dose limit of 100 mSv over 5 years may return. Since then, until December 31, 2017, 18,348 people have worked in controlled areas, including 16,456 subcontractors (90%). It is impossible to know how many of them have been exposed in the first five years. During this period, subcontractors took a cumulative average dose of 4.29 mSv, with a maximum of 60.36 mSv, while TEPCO employees took a cumulative average dose of 1.79 mSv with a maximum of 22.85 mSv. Subcontractors thus took 95.4% of the cumulative collective dose of 74 men.sieverts.

https://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2016/04/01/national/150-fukushima-no-1-workers-got-maximum-radiation-dose-start-crisis-can-now-return-plant/#.VwAt8quVSiu

www.tepco.co.jp/en/press/corp-com/release/betu18_e/images/180131e0101.pdf

TEPCO has put online many other data on the doses taken, with distributions by age, year …

http://www.tepco.co.jp/en/press/corp-com/release/2018/1475822_15409.html

TEPCO reduced the risk premiums paid to workers because dose rates decreased on the site. This subject would be one of the main complaints of the staff engaged on the site. It could reach 20,000 yen (150 €) per day, even if, for the subcontractors, this premium was punctuated at each level of subcontracting, to be reduced, sometimes, to less than half. In March 2016, TEPCO divided the site of the accident site into 3 zones, red, yellow and green, depending on the level of risk. But for many workers, this zoning is meaningless: debris from the red zone is transferred to the green zone. The dust raised by the machines does not respect the boundaries … Thus, subcontractors wear protective equipment such as masks in the green zone, even if TEPCO does not require it.

https://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2018/02/17/national/media-national/media-reports-de-romanticize-cleanup-work-fukushima-nuclear-power-plant/

About the decontamination sites

In the evacuated areas, it is the government that is prime contractor for the decontamination sites and in the areas not evacuated, it is the communes. The monthly report of the Ministry of the Environment (source, page 16) states:

13 million decontaminators in the evacuated areas and

17 million decontaminators in the areas not evacuated according to the data transmitted by the communes.

josen.env.go.jp/en/pdf/progressseet_progress_on_cleanup_efforts.pdf

These numbers are completely unrealistic. This is probably the number of contracts signed. This means that the authorities do not know the number of decontaminators and therefore do not know the individual doses.

An individual dosimetric follow-up was introduced in November 2013 for the decontaminators (source in Japanese) who work in the evacuated zone and who are subject to the same dose limits as the nuclear workers. Data for 2016 show 36,000 decontaminators. We are far from the millions of decontaminators reported by the Ministry of the Environment. The majority (87%) received a dose of less than 1 mSv / yr and the highest dose was 7.5 and 10 mSv. There is also data by number of sites or by zone.

http://www.rea.or.jp/chutou/koukai_jyosen/H28nen/English/honbun_jyosen-h28-English.html

www.rea.or.jp/chutou/koukai_jyosen/H28nen/English/1zuhyo_jyosen-H28-English.pdf

The most recent data in English, dated January 8, 2018, covers the period October 2016 – September 2017. Doses are reported by period of 3 months while the limits are annual. It is difficult to interpret these numbers. If it appears that the vast majority of decontaminators received less than 1 mSv over 3 months, it is not known how much below this limit over one year. The average annual dose is 0.5 mSv.

www.rea.or.jp/chutou/koukai_jyosen/shihanki/English/From%20October%202016%20to%20September%202017.pdf

Other people exposed

I did not find any official data on the doses taken by those who continued to work in the evacuated area or the many police officers who guard and patrol the restricted areas.

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Mapping of radioactive pollution

The latest aerial mapping of radioactive pollution around the Fukushima daiichi nuclear power station was made in November 2016 and is available online at the dedicated site.
The immediate vicinity of the nuclear power plant has not been recontrolled, it seems.

https://ramap.jmc.or.jp/map/eng/

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Decontamination

Decontamination of evacuated areas is the responsibility of the government. Elsewhere, where the external exposure could exceed 1 mSv / year, it is the municipalities that have to deal with it. See the latest report published by the Ministry of the Environment:

josen.env.go.jp/en/pdf/progressseet_progress_on_cleanup_efforts.pdf

In the evacuated zone, decontamination is complete, except in the parts classified as “difficult return zones” where the external exposure could exceed 50 mSv / year. Decontamination took place only in populated and agricultural areas, not in forests. The ministry announces 22,000 decontaminated homes, 1,600 ha of roads, streets, lanes …, 8,500 ha of agricultural land and 5,800 ha of forest near residential areas.

In the non-evacuated areas, 104 communes were initially concerned, in Fukushima, Iwate, Miyagi, Ibaraki, Tochigi, Gunma, Saïtama and Chiba prefectures and it went down to 92 by simple radioactive decay. The decontamination work is completed in 89 of them and remains to be done in 3 others. The ministry announces 418,582 homes decontaminated in Fukushima and 147,656 in other provinces, 11,958 public facilities in Fukushima and 11,803 in other provinces. There are also 18,403 km of roads, streets, roads in Fukushima and 5,399 in other provinces, 31,043 ha of agricultural land in Fukushima and 1,588 ha in other provinces.

For so-called difficult return zones, the government will decontaminate a center in Futaba and Okuma in order to be able to affirm that it has not abandoned any commune. The end of the work is scheduled for 2022. Who will come back after 11 years of evacuation? This work in a highly contaminated zone will generate exposure of the decontaminators to ionizing radiation. As there is no threshold of safety, the first principle of radiation protection requires the justification of these exposures and this has not been done.

http://www.asahi.com/ajw/articles/AJ201708010034.html

http://www.asahi.com/ajw/articles/AJ201701300051.html

The Ministry of the Environment has budgeted 2.6 trillion yen (24.79 billion dollars) until 2016 to finance the decontamination work. Half is for evacuated areas, without taking into account the so-called difficult return zone and the other half for non-evacuated areas.

Radioactive waste from decontamination

See our summer 2016 report on the problem of waste from decontamination. Organic waste is incinerated and ash must be stored as industrial waste. Soils, for their part, must be stored for 30 years on a site of 16 km2 around the Fukushima daï-ichi plant, the time to find a final solution.

fukushimaontheglobe.com/wp-content/uploads/6-Stories-Facts-from-Fukushima_1228_2_Optimized.pdf

According to the Ministry of the Environment, the decontamination of the evacuated areas has generated 8,400,000 m3 of waste containing radioactive soils to which are added approximately 7,200,000 m3 in the areas not evacuated (6,800,000 m3 in Fukushima and 400,000 m3 in the other provinces concerned).

josen.env.go.jp/en/pdf/progressseet_progress_on_cleanup_efforts.pdf

• Regarding the 16-square-kilometer (1,600-hectare) contaminated soil storage site with a capacity of 22 million cubic meters, the government has only been able to lease or purchase 48.4% of the surface area , knowing that 21% of the land already belonged to the government or municipalities. That was 18% a year ago.

josen.env.go.jp/en/pdf/progressseet_progress_on_cleanup_efforts.pdf

This site will only accept Fukushima waste. The ministry announces that it has transferred 404,773 bags of about one cubic meter to this site in 2017. It is still far from the millions of cubic meters, but it required 67,146 truckings. And it will take as much transport to resume in 30 years … The total volume stored for the moment is 633 889 m3.

To learn more about this storage site.
• For radioactive waste from other provinces, the authorities prefer landfill even if they are struggling to find sites (source).

http://josen.env.go.jp/en/storage/ josen.env.go.jp/en/pdf/progressseet_progress_on_cleanup_efforts.pdf

In the meantime, there is waste everywhere, as far as the eye can see. See the Greenpeace videos.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5sgixr-SC4g

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fveJc_cMsKM

https://www.greenpeace.de/sites/www.greenpeace.de/files/publications/fukushima-bericht-oktober_2017_v2.pdf

Evacuated areas

The last evacuation orders were lifted on April 1, 2017 and it remains mostly so-called back difficult areas where access is prohibited.

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Cost of the disaster

Official figures for the cost of the disaster were revised upwards in December 2016 to 21.5 trillion yen (216.88 billion dollars) and have not changed since. This includes the dismantling of the Fukushima daï-ichi reactors, worth 8 trillion yen (80.56 billion dollars), 7.9 trillion yen (79.32 billion dollars) for compensation, nearly 4 trillion yen (40.28 billion dollars) for decontamination and 1.6 trillion yen (16.11 billion dollars) for the temporary radioactive waste storage center.

This sum does not include the cost of storing the waste resulting from the dismantling of the damaged power station nor the creation of a decontaminated island in the so-called “difficult return” zones whose sole purpose is the non-disappearance of the villages concerned.

The bill for the nuclear disaster could be 50,000 to 70 trillion yen (520.67 to 719.02 billion dollars), which is 3 times higher than the government estimate, according to a study by the Japan Center for Economic Research.

TEPCo has already received a total of 8,032.1 billion yen (73.76 billion dollars at the current rate) in advance for compensation. This money is loaned without interest.

http://www.tepco.co.jp/en/press/corp-com/release/2018/1474320_15409.html

The government still holds a 50.1% stake in TEPCO.

Source: http://fukushima.eu.org/chiffres-cles-septieme-anniversaire/

 

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How did the Fukushima disaster affect air pollution?

February 14, 2018
gettyimages_nuclearsmokestacks1_7cnjkfma-broe4a8wwlg-q.jpeg
In March 2011, a post-earthquake tsunami triggered nuclear meltdowns, hydrogen-air explosions and the release of radioactive materials from the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant in Fukushima Prefecture, Japan. The Fukushima disaster has been called the most significant nuclear incident since the 1986 Chernobyl disaster. Professor Rodney C. Ewing, Frank Stanton Professor in Nuclear Security and co-director at the Center for International Security and Cooperation (CISAC) in the Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies (FSI), as a member of a team of Japanese researchers, today published a report on the details of what exactly — at the particle level — was released into the air after the disaster.
In the discussion that follows, Ewing explains the team’s findings and why they are important for health and environmental safety.
Why did you decide to study the Fukushima disaster?
The Fukishima Daiichi event surprised me. I now teach a freshman seminar on this event. I am particularly interested to understand why the accident occurred and what the long-term impact will be on the environment. This research paper reflects my interest in answering these questions.
We’ve heard lots about possible health effects from contaminated water after the Fukushima disaster, but less about particulates in the air. What did you find?
During the core melt-down events at Fukushima Daiichi, radioactivity was released as fine particulates that traveled in the air, sometime for distances of tens of kilometers, and settled onto the surrounding countryside.
In order to understand the health risk, it is very important to understand the form and chemistry of these particulates.
Recently, in a previous paper we have described a new type of particulate that is Cs-rich (some Cs isotopes are highly radioactive). The highly radioactive Cs-rich particles formed in the reactor by condensation from a silica-rich vapor, formed from the melting of core and concrete structures. In this paper, we describe the first identification of fragments of the melted core that were entrapped by the Cs-particles and transported away from the reactor site, some 4 kilometers. This is an important discovery because this provides us with samples of the fuel and melted core.
This is a special contribution because it uses very advanced electron microscopy techniques that allow for imaging of individual atoms or clusters of atoms. This advanced technique is required because the particles are so small — nanometers in size.
How did you come to work with your collaborators in Japan?
I have had long standing collaborations with Japanese scientists for decades. The lead researcher for the group, Professor Satoshi Utusunomiya, was once a member of my research group when I was at the University of Michigan. We have always collaborated on topics that involve radioactive materials and the use of electron microscopy. This collaboration is an entirely natural outgrowth of previous collaborations.
What, if any, policy recommendations would you suggest based on your findings?
The most direct result would be to design monitoring systems so that we have a good record of released particulates. Also, we need to push the development of advanced analytical techniques so that these particulates can be quickly identified and characterized.

Fukushima 7th Anniversary Events List

This is the list of the events organized in various countries and towns worldwide for the commemoration of the March 11 2011 beginning of  the Fukushima nuclear disaster, ongoing  for 7 years now. I will complete this list little by little by adding to this list any additional event about which  the people will inform me…..

26172764_10210663364916482_5012144409042441354_o.jpg

 

USA
In New York – March 10
In San Francisco – March 11
The 68th Every 11th of Month No Nukes Rally in San Francisco, in front of the S.F. Japanese Consulate
UNITED KINGDOM
In Taunton, Somerset – February 17 https://www.facebook.com/events/2001193583471971/
In London – March 9 – March 11 – March 14
FRANCE
In Lyon – February 25
In Nanterre – March 3
In Paris – March 11
In Flamanville – March 15
BELGIUM
In Namur – March 8
RUSSIA
In Saint Petersburg – March 11
GERMANY
In Nuremberg – March 7
In Regensburg – April 26
AUSTRALIA
In Sydney – February 17
In New South wales – March 11
JAPAN
In Tokyo – February 24
February 25 in Nerima
February 25 in Shibuya
March 3
March 9
In Osaka – March 17
In Kyoto – March 11
In Fujimi – February 18

 

Fukushima nuclear disaster: Lethal levels of radiation detected in leak seven years after plant meltdown in Japan

fukushima-2.jpg
Workers of theTokyo Electric Power Co, which is tasked with the job to decommission the nuclear power plant in Okuma, Fukushima
 
Lethal levels of radiation have been detected at Japan’s Fukushima nuclear power plant, seven years after it was destroyed by an earthquake and tsunami. 
The Tokyo Electric Power Company (Tepco), which operated the complex and is now responsible for its clean up, made the discovery in a reactor containment vessel last month. 
The energy firm found eight sieverts per hour of radiation, while  42 units were also detected outside its foundations. 
A sievert is defined as the probability of cancer induction and genetic damage from exposure to a dose of radiation, by the International Commission on Radiological Protection (ICRP). One sievert is thought to carry with it a 5.5 per cent chance of eventually developing cancer. 
Experts told Japanese state broadcaster NHK World that exposure to that volume of radiation for just an hour could kill, while another warned the leaks could lead to a “global” catastrophe if not tackled properly.
It came as Tepco said the problem of contaminated water pooled around the plants three reactors that is seeping into the ground has caused a major headache in its efforts to decommission the plant.
Thousands of workers have been hired by the company to as it attempts to secure the plant, which was the scene of the most serious nuclear accident since Chernobyl in 1986. 
Three of its reactors went into a meltdown after the earthquake and tsunami which killed at least 15,000 people.
Tepco has admitted that it could be until 2020 until the contamination issue is resolved. Only then can it move onto the second stage of removing nuclear debris at the site, including the damaged reactors.
Richard Black, director of the Energy and Climate Intelligence Unit, said the high levels of radiation found in and around the reactor last month were “expected” and unlikely to pose a danger. 
He told The Independent: “Although the radiation levels identified are high, a threat to human health is very unlikely because apart from workers at the site, no-one goes there.
“The high readings from fuel debris would be expected – the higher reading from the foundations, if confirmed, would be more of a concern as the cause is at present unclear. But as officials indicate, it might not be a genuine reading anyway.
“What this does demonstrate is that, seven years after the disaster, cleaning up the Fukushima site remains a massive challenge – and one that we’re going to be reading about for decades, never mind years.”
But Mycle Schneider, an independent energy consultant and lead author of the World Nuclear Industry Status Report, said that Tepco “hasn’t a clue what it is doing” in its job to decommission the plant.
He added that the contaminated water that is leaking at the site could end up in the ocean if the  ongoing treatment project fails and cause a “global” disaster, he told The Independent. 
“Finding high readings in the reactor is normal, it’s where the molten fuel is, it would be bizarre if it wasn’t,” he said. 
“I find it symptomatic of the past seven years, in that they don’t know what they’re doing, Tepco, these energy companies haven’t a clue what they’re doing, so to me it’s been going wrong from the beginning. It’s a disaster of unseen proportions.”
Mr Schneider added that the radiation leaks coupled with the waste from the plant stored in an “inappropriate” way in tanks could have global consequences.
“This is an area of the planet that gets hit by tornadoes and all kinds of heavy weather patterns, which is a problem. When you have waste stored above ground in inappropriate ways, it can get washed out and you can get contamination all over the place.
“This can get problematic anytime, if it contaminates the ocean there is no local contamination, the ocean is global, so anything that goes into the ocean goes to everyone.”
He added: “It needs to be clear that this problem is not gone, this is not just a local problem. It’s a very major thing.”
The Independent contacted Tepco for comment, but the energy giant had not responded at the time of publication.

fukushima-2.jpg

Government to test safety of burying radioactive soil

Government to test safety of burying radioactive soil this spring
31 jan2018.jpg
Bags of debris contaminated with radiation are seen stored in a field in the town of Okuma, near the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant, in this August 2015 photo.
 
The government plans to conduct a demonstration project sometime this spring to test the safety of burying waste generated by decontamination work following the 2011 Fukushima nuclear disaster, the Environment Ministry said Wednesday.
In the project, soil waste from eastern and northeastern areas of the country other than Fukushima Prefecture will be covered with uncontaminated soil at sites in the village of Tokai, Ibaraki Prefecture, and the town of Nasu, Tochigi Prefecture, with radioactivity levels around the locations being measured.
The government plans to determine its disposal policy for contaminated soil in the fall or later depending on the outcome of the experiment, according to the ministry.
A total of 56 municipalities in seven prefectures — Iwate, Miyagi, Ibaraki, Tochigi, Gunma, Saitama and Chiba — have completed cleanup work with financial support from the central government.
But some 330,000 cubic meters of soil waste has been temporarily kept at around 28,000 locations — including public spaces such as schools and parks — in 53 municipalities, prompting local residents to call for disposal of the waste at the earliest opportunity.
The project will be carried out on the premises of the Tokai Research and Development Center’s Nuclear Science Research Institute in Tokai and at a public space in Nasu.
Some 2,500 cubic meters of soil waste temporarily kept at two locations in Tokai and about 350 cubic meters of soil waste kept at the public space in Nasu will be used in the project.
After the waste is buried, workers’ exposure levels to radiation will also be measured.
“Households in storage locations continue shouldering the burden. I hope (the project) will prove the safety of burying it (soil waste) and lead to the disposal (of contaminated soil),” a Nasu town official said.
“It took time to conduct (the project) but it’s good,” said an official in Tokai, adding that more and more local residents have been asking for the removal of soil waste from a park.
After being asked by municipalities to demonstrate a way to dispose of soil waste, the ministry had been searching for proper locations to carry out the demonstration project.
 
Radioactive soil disposal method to be tested
Japan’s Environment Ministry will carry out tests at 2 sites where soil generated in decontamination work following the 2011 Fukushima nuclear accident is buried.
Outside Fukushima Prefecture, where the crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant is located, some 330,000 cubic meters of soil are stored in 53 cities, towns and villages in 7 prefectures in eastern Japan.
The soil is currently kept at some 28,000 locations, including schoolyards and parks.
Local residents have called on the government to safely dispose of the soil as quickly as possible. The environment ministry will start testing soil disposal methods in the spring.
The sites chosen are a nuclear research institute in Ibaraki Prefecture and a sports ground in Tochigi Prefecture.
Ministry officials say the stored soil will be buried in the ground and then covered over again with clean new earth. They will then measure radiation levels at areas surrounding the sites and the amount of radiation that workers were exposed to.
The ministry will start negotiating with local governments regarding a full-scale disposal after verifying the test method’s safety and drawing up an appropriate disposal plan.
 
Landfilling of Radiation-Tainted Soil to Start outside Fukushima
Tokyo, Jan. 31 (Jiji Press)–The Environment Ministry said Wednesday that landfill work for soil tainted with radioactive materials released from the disaster-stricken Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power station will start outside Fukushima Prefecture, northeastern Japan.
The work will be carried out in the village of Tokai, Ibaraki Prefecture, and the town of Nasu, Tochigi Prefecture, on a trial basis from this spring. Both prefectures are south of and adjacent to Fukushima.
In Fukushima, work has already started to store such soil at interim facilities for up to 30 years before its final disposal.
The work in Tokai and Nasu will involve about 2,500 and 350 cubic meters, respectively, of soil removed from ground during decontamination work following the accident at the Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings Inc. <9501> plant, which was heavily damaged in the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami.
The soil will be buried underground, with the land surface to be covered with a layer of clean soil more than 30 centimeters thick.

Lingering effects of 2011 disaster take toll in fallout-hit Fukushima, experts warn

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A Buddhist priest prays on a beach in Minamisoma, Fukushima Prefecture, in March 2017. The area was hit hard by the 2011 earthquake, tsunami and nuclear disaster.
 
There are fewer and fewer headlines these days about the catastrophe resulting from the triple core meltdown in March 2011 at Tepco’s Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant. But participants at a recent symposium stressed that the disaster’s lingering effects continue to weigh heavily on people and municipalities in Fukushima Prefecture.
“In the post-disaster reconstruction, Miyagi Prefecture had to start from zero,” said former Fukushima University President Toshio Konno, who is from Onagawa, Miyagi Prefecture, and lost five relatives in the town when it was hit by tsunami caused by the Great East Japan Earthquake. “But Fukushima Prefecture had to start from a negative point because of the additional impact of the nuclear calamity. It is really hard for Fukushima to reach the zero point.”
During the symposium at Tokyo’s Waseda University on Saturday, Konno — who served on a Fukushima Prefectural Government committee tasked with judging whether deaths in the years following the March 11, 2011, earthquake and tsunami were disaster-related — said that as of Sept. 30 last year, there were 3,647 such cases in Japan, of which Fukushima Prefecture accounted for 60 percent.
What’s more, Fukushima is the only prefecture among the three disaster-hit Tohoku prefectures that still sees people die from related causes. Since March 2016, Miyagi and Iwate prefectures, which were also hit by the quake and tsunami, have suffered no disaster-related deaths, while Fukushima has seen 50, Konno said.
He also said that the number of disaster-related suicides in Fukushima has grown over time compared with Iwate and Miyagi. Fukushima saw 10 such suicides in 2011, 13 in 2012, 23 in 2013, 15 in 2014 and 19 in 2015. Corresponding figures in Iwate and Miyagi, respectively, are 17 and 22 in 2011, eight and three in 2012, four and 10 in 2013, three and four in 2014 and three and one in 2015.
Takao Suami, a Waseda professor heading the university’s efforts to provide legal support for the reconstruction, said the government’s Dispute Reconciliation Committee for Nuclear Damage Compensation was fairly helpful in addressing compensation issues until around the spring of 2014. But Suami said cases have emerged recently in which the utility, now known as Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings Inc., refuses to accept reconciliation proposals put forward by the committee.
Yuichi Kaido, a lawyer working with some 3,000 residents of the village of Iitate on the compensation dispute resolution process, said that even though residents suffered exceedingly high levels of external radiation exposure immediately after the meltdowns — measuring 7 millisieverts on average — due to a delayed evacuation order, the committee proposed in December that only people whose exposure was 9 millisieverts or higher should be entitled to compensation, a threshold which covers just 200 people. (Nuclear power stations are legally required to limit the yearly radiation exposure for residents living nearby to 1 millisievert or less.)
Michitaro Urakawa, a professor emeritus of law at Waseda who says he supports the restart of nuclear plants, said the compensation system for victims of the nuclear disaster has a fundamental flaw. Tepco, he said, is benefitting from the injection of funds for compensation from the central government, while consumers — including low-income people in Fukushima Prefecture who did not have assets worth compensation — are helping the utility return the injected money to the government in the form of increased electricity bills.
Kaido and other lawyers called for reconstruction policies that truly meet the needs of Fukushima people, because compensation cannot cover damage that does not have a monetary value, such as the loss of communities, friendship, business ties and fears about the future, including the threat of health problems due to radiation exposure.
Another problem highlighted at the symposium was the unhealthy financial state of disaster-hit municipalities in Fukushima. Waseda professor Yoshihiro Katayama, a former Tottori governor who was internal affairs minister for the Democratic Party of Japan administration at the time of the meltdowns, said the municipalities will end up with excess personnel, creating a financial burden over the long term.
Disaster-hit municipalities in the prefecture are already facing financial strain. The town of Namie — roughly half of whose area lies within 20 km of the nuclear plant — saw its revenue grow from ¥9.48 billion in 2010 to ¥20 billion in 2016. But the portion of the funds from the central and prefectural governments increased to 87.2 percent from 68.6 percent, reducing the percentage of internal revenue to 12.8 percent from 31.4 percent.
Further, if the municipalities decide to end contracts commissioning administrative services to private firms, the local economy will suffer, Katayama said. He also expressed fear that the municipalities may have lost the know-how to assess the value of real estate, the basis of real estate taxes, an important revenue source.
Katayama also said the aging population will lead to a deep and serious problem in disaster-hit areas because many young people who evacuated will not return, causing such problems as difficulty maintaining the public health insurance system as well as city water and sewage systems. There will also be a shortage of nursing care workers and schools will be forced to close, he warned.
“Although the revenue of disaster-hit municipalities enormously expanded, the time will come when their administrative services have to shrink,” Katayama said. “Currently, the central government is taking special measures. But both the central government and the municipalities concerned must think about how to achieve a soft landing.”

TEPCO refused in 2002 to calculate possible tsunami hitting Fukushima: ex-gov’t official

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The No. 3 reactor at the Fukushima No. 1 Nuclear Power Plant is seen from a Mainichi Shimbun helicopter on Nov. 21, 2017
Tokyo Electric Power Co. (TEPCO), operator of the disaster-stricken Fukushima No. 1 Nuclear Power Plant, refused in 2002 to calculate the potential effects of tsunami in case of an earthquake off Fukushima Prefecture when a now-defunct nuclear watchdog told the utility to conduct an evaluation, the Mainichi Shimbun has learned.
A former safety screening division official of the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry’s Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency (NISA) told the Mainichi Shimbun on Jan. 29 that TEPCO did not accept the agency’s request even though the latter tried to convince the utility after the government released a long-term assessment report that a major earthquake could hit off the Pacific coast including areas off Fukushima Prefecture, possibly triggering massive tsunami. This is the first time that exchanges between the then nuclear agency and TEPCO following the release of the government report have come to light.
In July 2002, the government’s Headquarters for Earthquake Research Promotion released the long-term assessment report saying that an earthquake similar to the 1896 Sanriku Earthquake could hit off the Pacific from the northern Sanriku to Boso areas. The official held a hearing on TEPCO the following month as to whether the report would affect safety measures at the Fukushima No. 1 plant.
According to the official as well as the statement submitted by the government to the trial of a lawsuit filed by Fukushima nuclear evacuees against TEPCO and the state, NISA told the utility to calculate a possible earthquake-tsunami disaster off the coast from Fukushima to Ibaraki prefectures, pointing out that Tohoku Electric Power Co. had been considering conducting an assessment on areas quite far south. In response, TEPCO representatives showed reluctance, saying that the calculation would “take time and cost money” and that there was no reliable scientific basis in the assessment report. The TEPCO officials reportedly resisted for about 40 minutes on the matter. In the end, the agency accepted the utility’s decision to shelve the earthquake-tsunami estimate.
In 2006, NISA again requested TEPCO to prepare its nuclear plants for massive tsunami exceeding envisioned levels, but the company did not comply, before finally conducting a calculation in 2008. The utility concluded that waves up to a height of 15.7 meters could hit the Fukushima plant, but did not take measures according to the estimate.
The former nuclear agency official said as someone involved in the screening of earthquake resistant measures it was very unfortunate that the accident at the Fukushima plant occurred, but stopped short of commenting on the legitimacy of the agency’s handling of the matter, saying, “I can’t put it in words casually.”
The attorney representing Fukushima nuclear evacuees in the redress suit commented that the finding exposes the maliciousness of TEPCO, while also pointing to the responsibility of the central government. A TEPCO public relations official, meanwhile, said that the company would not comment on the matter because the trial was ongoing.