- JAIF reports the humidity level in reactor building #2 has been lowered to between 45% and 60% (depending on location). Teams are now allowed to enter the building to take radiation readings and replace the questionable water level and pressure instruments for the Reactor Pressure Vessel, located on the ground floor. Surveillance cameras are also being installed. However, when the first team reached the second floor, they were met with higher radiation levels than the ground floor, so they left the second floor and went no further. Work scheduled to start on the second floor on Thursday will be delayed because of the higher rad levels.
- NHK World reports the reason for both the low efficiency of the waste water decontamination system, and the higher than expected radiation levels on one of the Cesium absorbers, was a valve incorrectly being open when it should have been closed. The open valve allowed the water being pumped through the system to bypass two of the three Cesium absorber units, causing the single absorber removing more Cesium than by design. Asahi Shimbun says the total system’s operating data became confused because of the mistake. TEPCO has analyzed the Cesium concentration of the 2,500 tons of water which has passed through the system, and it has been reduced by a factor of 100,000. That’s what was hoped for prior to the “test” runs. Now that the system is properly aligned, a final test is being run. This last test will include a desalination component to remove salt from the sea water mixed into the volume. Due to the system’s operation, water in the Waste Treatment Facility has dropped more than 40 centimeters (~16 inches), allowing more water to be transferred into the Facility from #3 Turbine Building, lowering the level in the drainage trench from #3 Turbine Building more than 12 centimeters (~5 inches). The system seems to be working as planned.TEPCO has also reduced flow to the #3 RPV down to 9 tons per hour, to slow the production of contaminated waters. In addition, holes caused by flying debris in all 4 turbine building roofs are being plugged to reduce rain water build-up inside the facility, and sandbags are being piled around possible trench leakage points just in case rain water leaks into the buildings enough to fill the outer drainage trenches.
- Asahi Shimbun reports the international anti-nuclear response to Fukushima, combined with Japan’s increased need for “thermal” electricity generation to fill in for their politically-idled nuclear plants, has caused a “domino effect” which is driving up prices for Liquified Natural Gas (LNG). Northern hemisphere summers usually witness a drop in LNG demand and prices, but not this summer. Prices have actually risen more than 20% since March 11, due to anticipated increases in need from Germany, Switzerland, and (of course) Japan. LNG prices have risen some 200% in the past 2 years due to increased demand from the rapidly expanding economies of China and India, but this post-Fukushima effect has added to the costly trend. Japanese energy adviser Akira Ishii predicts LNG prices will sky-rocket next winter. He says the current price of $13 – $15 per million BTUs will be more than $20 per million BTUs. Russia, the world’s largest exporter of LNG, is looking forward to substantial profits.
- Another Asahi Shimbun report says Japan’s Health Ministry is very displeased with 69 contractor employees being unaccounted for by TEPCO whole body scanning. They are also displeased with the contractors, who sent the 69 people to Fukushima in March and April, exhibiting “careless personnel management” which caused them to miss scanning. Twenty two contractor companies are involved with Fukushima Daiichi, but they in-turn use more than 600 sub-contractors totaling about 4,000 employees. The 22 contract companies at Fukushima number about 1,100 employees of their own. The “unaccounted for” workers are sub-contractors.Japan’s nuclear emergency decision-making process is now known to be a dangerously confused mess. The nuclear regulatory program in Japan is internationally understood as an overly-cumbersome failure. Add to these a confounding nuclear employment system with one of the most reckless worker radiation protection systems ever witnessed. Japan’s nuclear program was, and still is, a system-wide nightmare.
- JAIF reports that topsoil removal and disposal from 41 Fukushima schools has been completed, which should allow the institutions to let them have outdoor activities. The radiation fields are now below 0.5 microsieverts per hour, which is slightly above natural background levels assumed for the region.
- The Health Ministry has found ~ 15 residents of Fukushima to have experienced internal exposures of about 3.2 millisieverts over the two month period of mid-March to mid-May, above the ICRP guideline for the public of 3 msv. It is assumed most of the ingestion occurred in the days following the wind shifts that blew contamination into populated areas. The winds blew out to sea for the first several days of the accident at Fukushima, thus none of the citizens should have been exposed to airborne radioactivity before the winds shifted.
- Fukushima’s government has raised the number of children who will get dosimeters. It will be ~280,000. The increase is due to amplified parental complaints across the Prefecture. The government has said they will also supply air conditioners to districts asking for them in order to greatly reduce any possibility of airborne contamination inside the schools.
- One of the Genkai nuclear plants is ready to start up. The Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency (NISA) says all safety upgrades for emergency power reliability have been taken, including mobile power trucks and waterproofing of diesel generator enclosures. There is no reason to keep the plant from operating. The local mayor of Genkai agrees, but the Saga Prefecture governor does not. NISA will have a public meeting on Sunday, broadcast on cable TV and the internet, to explain why the plant is safe. Some anti-nuclear groups are complaining that NISA is not allowing enough public attendance to cover their full range of concerns.
The Hiroshima Syndrome to be amplified…
- JAIF reports that the most active Japanese anti-nuclear bomb group is planning an anti-nuclear conference for July 31. The Japan Congress against Atomic and Hydrogen Bombs plans to host their international anti-nuclear conference next month in Fukushima Prefecture, to emphasize their belief that nuclear weapons and reactors are equally dangerous. The selection of Fukushima Prefecture for their protest is tactless, at best. Of course, with the world-wide Hiroshima Syndrome as a profound psychological back-drop, it makes perfect psychological sense, and will surely attract considerable news media attention to give them an unprecedented international audience.We do not condone nuclear weapons in any way, shape, or form! We totally agree with their position on nuclear bombs. But, openly inter-connecting the horrors of nuclear detonations with nuclear power plant accidents is worse than a mere matter of misunderstanding and/or misconception. It’s deplorably misleading.