• One of the most important items concerning a possible cause of the accident at Fukushima, contained in the recent Japanese report to the IAEA, was a conflict of interest in Japanese nuclear regulatory processes. NISA, the agency with the responsibility of setting and enforcing safety regulations, is a sub-group of the Ministry of Economy, Trade, and Industry. When the American Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) went public with “beyond design-basis accident” (BDBA) recommendations in 1992, NISA ran a cost-benefit analysis on upgrading existing tsunami protection to meet the new recommendations. It was decided that the potential benefit did not justify the cost, and their nuclear plants were judged sufficiently safe without the upgrades. NISA was also felt there was no scientifically-credible reason to think an earthquake beyond 8.2 (Richter Scale) or a tsunami of more than 5.7 meters in height was possible. The NRC recommendations called for protecting plants from calamities up to 100% worse than established worst-case scenarios. NISA, and the Ministry they are a part of, felt this was statistically and financially unreasonable.The single-most important NRC upgrade not implemented, relative to the Fukushima emergency, was enclosing all emergency diesel generators and their fuel tanks in sturdy, safety-level, waterproof structures. As a result of not upgrading, the emergency diesels for units 1-4 at Fukushima Daiichi were “inundated” by the tsunami and the unprotected fuel tanks were washed away. Had the upgrades been made, it is likely that the complete loss of power would not have happened. The emergency at Fukushima Daiichi could have been avoided. It should be noted that the NRC made their BDBA upgrades mandatory for all American nuclear plants nearly 10 years ago.
  • The report to the IAEA also says 200,000 people have been screened for health effects since the quake/tsunami, and no health effects related to radiation exposure has been observed. More than a thousand children have been screened for possible I-131 build-up, with no thyroid issues discovered. Small levels of Iodine were detected in some of the children, but the levels varied between “trace” and “not significant”.
  • JAIF reports that the initial testing of the new system designed to decontaminate the waters in the turbine buildings and trenches, has hit a few snags. When the four units was turned on Friday, water was seen leaking from some of the piping connections on one of them. The test was stopped and all connections on all four systems were re-tightened. Sunday morning, the test resumed and one of the four units did not show any flow, indicating a blockage somewhere in its system. The reason for the lack of flow is being investigated. It seems the other three units are testing reasonably well. It is hoped that some or all of the units will be ready for service by June 15, as planned. The test runs are using non-contaminated waters.
  • Workers have entered the decimated unit #4 refueling deck for the first time. The spent fuel pool (SPF) has been discovered to be warmer than expected, at ~ 80oC. Also, a hole caused by flying explosion debris has been seen on the deck, but the location has not been reported. Plus, the cooling water supply piping to the SPF has been “mangled” making a speedy return to “normal” SPF cooling impossible. Replacement of the mangled pipe will be time-consuming because considerable debris and rubble will have to be removed first. It is not known if there might be a viable alternative piping system that might be used to resume normal SPF cooling.
  • Mainichi Daily News reports the fires that erupted on unit #4 refueling deck, after its hydrogen explosion, were probably from a “power generator” located on the deck. The first pictures taken by plant workers (above) show the walls near the generator blacked and charred, indicating the generator fire(s). The generator is not an emergency diesel. Regardless, this indicates that numerous reports of two spent fuel pool fires published since mid-March are without substance, which verifies what we have been saying all along. There were no spent fuel pool fire at Fukushima.

SPF 4 picture

  • JAIF reports the sea water decontamination system has been started and is running at full water-flow capacity. However, the desired percentage of radioactive Cesium removed is less than expected. About 30% is being stripped from the flow by zeolite filters. The partially decontaminated water is being returned to its source location, so there will be no release to the sea. The “deconned” water will dilute the concentrations inside the silt fences slowly, at a steady rate of 30 tons per hour.
  • The Japanese National Police Agency (NPA) reports that there has been a 17% decrease in crime since March 11, with respect to the three most-damaged Prefectures; Iwate, Miyage, and Fukushima. However, burglaries in Fukushima Prefecture have increased by 40% over the last three months, compared to the same time-frame last year. Most have occurred in the 20-30km radius from Fukushima Daiichi where many people have left voluntarily. However, 42 burglaries have been reported within the 20km “no-go” zone since May 1. There may have been even more, since these were reported by the relatively few residents allowed into the 20km zone to get personal effects and/or reclaim their cars. Clearly, fear of radiation has not deterred burglars from increasing their activity.
  • NHK World reports that the significant majority of those who have been evacuated due to the earthquake/tsunami and nuclear emergency are dissatisfied with recovery efforts. The biggest issue seems to be whether or not rebuilding after the tsunami is going smoothly. Only 5% say it is, 15% say it is to some extent, 29% say they see little progress, and a whopping 48% say they see no progress. Professor Yoshiteru Murosaki, Kwansei Gakuin University, says the reason for the negative opinions is because the evacuees are not included in the recovery effort, so they see nothing that is actually happening. He recommends allowing evacuees to take part in the process.
  • The Ministry of Health announces that all tap water supplies in Japan are safe to drink, with all prior restrictions removed.
  • The Ministry also says they will concede to pressures from evacuated Fukushima farmers and test the soils on their farms. The farmers are frustrated with estimates of the contamination levels keeping them from their properties. They want to know for sure. (So do we.)
  • From the NISA post of daily conditions… The temperatures for unit 1 & 2 RPVs remain constant and unit #3 RPV has stabilized at ~155 oC at the feedwater nozzle and ~180 oC at the bottom vessel head. Still no reason for why water flow was reduced May 31-June 1 with temperatures allowed to rise.

Hiroshima Syndrome update…

  • JPA reports a number of illegal business scams have emerged in Fukushima Prefecture. Fake drugs and pure spring water are being sold as effective medicines against radioactive substances. The Prefectural police forces have been alerted and told to make arrests. Japanese “snake-oil salesmen” have begun to prey on fear of radiation.
  • Numerous Japanese news media and JAIF report of a relatively large anti-nuclear protest demonstration in Tokyo over the weekend. Police estimate that 2,000 people took part. While some of the attendees were protesting for the first time, the news media identifies most of them as traditional (habitual) dissenters who routinely show up for technological and social protests.
  • Muck-raking Japanese Journal Sekai has run an article calling for the immediate shut-down of all nukes because no decision has been made on nuclear waste disposal. The authors then add “…there is no solution for nuclear waste disposal”. Most of the article is literally a re-hash of nuclear waste misconceptions dating back to Three Mile Island. They now add the spent fuel pool issues at Fukushima, and assert that the over-heated spent fuel at Fukushima experienced “recriticality”, and imply this makes spent fuel much more dangerous than previously thought. They maintain the threat of spent fuel is so dangerous that its production can no longer be tolerated.The entire article literally drips with similar confabulations and exaggerations, plus it repeatedly promotes the “unsafe at any dose” myth of radiation exposure. Their report is not without its modicum of merit, however. Over-filled spent fuel pools can be avoided, and should be. Our position of recycling spent fuel, returning the good fuel to the reactors, and saving the fission products as a resource for future generations, would resolve the spent-fuel constipation issue.