Today marks The Hiroshima Syndrome’s first year on the internet. We want to thank all Fukushima update readers and site visitors for making this a highly successful project. We have had over 30,000 visitors, 70,000 total visits from more than 90 countries, and more than a million hits since our “birth” one year ago. It has been both a humbling and exciting experience for all of us. Thank you, thank you, thank you…
- NHK World has polled 28 of the 29 local municipalities having nuclear power stations within their borders (other than in Fukushima Prefecture) and found 5 do not support restarting currently idled reactors in the immediate future, 17 say they cannot decide at this point, 4 said they are willing to consider restarts, and 2 fully support immediate restarting (Genkai Town and Kariwa Village). 64% said they felt local consent is one important determinant on restarting reactors, while 57% said adequate earthquake and tsunami protection is another.
- The Mayor of Genkai Town met with Saga Prefecture Governor Yasushi Kurukawa and told him the government’s assurances of safety for two Genkai nuclear plants convinced the mayor they should restart. Kurukawa then met with Industry Minister Kaieda who echoed the words of the Genkai mayor. Minister Kaieda added, “Nuclear plants that are not in danger should operate in accordance with political judgment. It is our responsibility to bring only nuclear plants at serious risk to a halt.” As a result, Kurukawa softened on his nuclear concerns and anxieties, but still wanted to have a discussion members of the Prefectural Assembly. As of last night, the governor said the discussions had been made and it was generally agreed that Genkai units #2 and 3 should be allowed to restart. He said, “My doubts regarding the safety were clarified”. However, some Saga officials maintain they still have reservations about the decision because of ongoing fears in their constituencies. As a result, Kurukawa will not make his “final decision” until he meets with Prime Minister Kan in mid-July.On a related note, the governors of Prefectures immediately abutting Saga are expected to oppose the restart at Genkai, although they have no legal power to stop the action. In addition, Asahi Shimbun found that many of the governors in other prefectures with nuclear plants said they will only consider restarts after all findings of investigations into the accident at the Fukushima No. 1 plant are released. The Fukui Prefecture governor has insisted he will not let any of the 14 reactors in his area restart until this happens.
- On Wednesday, the Tohoku Electric Company’s shareholders voted down an anti-nuclear proposal submitted by a minority group of their stockholders. There were a few individuals who voiced their anger and concerns, reminiscent of the other shareholder meetings earlier in the week, but there does not seem to have been side-show demonstrations to attract the news media.
Meanwhile, back at Fukushima Daiichi…
(We have not provided a regular update of RPV temperatures recently because they have been quite steady. It seems TEPCO’s operators have a good handle on the situation. We will let you all know if any significant changes occur in the future.)
- TEPCO has decided to use the “mega-float” barge to store slightly radioactive waters from units # 5 and 6. The two units have more than 8,000 tons of seawater in their basements, residual from the tsunami, which may have picked up small concentrations of radioactive isotopes from inside the buildings. The amount of radioactivity in the water is below that of the low-level waste waters they discharged to the sea more than 2 months ago, creating a national furor and some international issues. TEPCO says they have no plans to discharge the water into the sea. TEPCO wants to get the salt water out of the basements to protect the equipment from further sea water damage. The barge has a more than 10,000 ton capacity.
- NHK World reports TEPCO workers have accessed the fifth floor refueling deck of unit #4 and begun preparations for the removal of debris hindering the work necessary to have a cooling system working for the spent fuel pool. There is more debris than had been anticipated, and much of it lies on top of some valves needed to operate the cooling system. One positive discovery was made, however. The radiation level on the refueling deck is one millisievert per hour, which is low enough to allow men to work full shifts in the effort to clear away the debris.
- TEPCO reports a new cooling system on the unit #3 spent fuel pool should be operating next week. A test run on the system is currently under way.
- Mainichi Shimbun says Fukushima Prefecture does not want to make the same error with Date City as was made with the complete evacuation of Iitate Town several weeks ago. Iitate had several localized radiation “hot spots” which politically impelled the Fukushima Prefecture’s government to have the entire town abandoned. The central government in Tokyo wanted only those areas with rad levels above the 20 msv/yr standard to be evacuated, but the Prefecture’s officials opted for a more cautious complete evacuation of Iitate. With Date, which has a much larger population than Iitate, the Prefecture was more open to only evacuating those areas exceeding the 20 msv/yr standard. Thus, 32 homes in Date will be affected. In addition, homes near the hot-spot locations with pregnant women will also be evacuated, bringing the total to 113.We applaud the Fukushima Prefecture’s government for making the limited evacuation decision with Date. Evacuating all of Iitate was correctly called a social and political fiasco by Asahi Shimbun, causing unfounded anxiety and unnecessary stress on those who were evacuated but not actually located in higher rad areas. Only affecting the few homes in Date that might exceed the government standard is a rational and realistic move. However, we should keep in mind that the 20 msv/yr standard is unnecessarily prohibitive, compared to many much higher background levels found around the world. Further, the assumption that babies in the womb, and newborns, are more susceptible to radiation damage is yet another arbitrary corollary with the no-safe-level theory. (see “Radiation : The no-safe-level myth”) Regardless, the decision with Date is one of the most rational political judgments made since March 11.
- A research ship run by the Tokyo University of Marine Science and Technology has set sail for Fukushima. The University researchers will examine contamination levels in the sea floor and how they are taken up by shellfish, sea worms and crustaceans. They do admit, however, the main focus is to provide data, independent of that published by government and TEPCO, in order to inhibit suspicions that can become groundless rumors.