Many of Japan’s news sources (e.g. Mainichi Daily, Yomiuri On Line, etc.) have reported that Prime Minister Kan’s regime will begin the full phase-out of nuclear powered electricity because he feels that nuclear accidents cannot be completely prevented. Other news sources (Kyodo News, NHK World) report Minister Edano saying Kan’s announcement is incorrect relative to the government at-large. Kan may personally desire the rapid, full phase-out of nukes, but not the government in total. Edano insists a nuclear-free Japan is a possible path for the future rather than a firm official policy of the government. Kan’s remarks should be taken as a place from which to begin a national energy debate, which Edano insists all government officials want. However, other cabinet officials are not so kind. Kansei Nakano, chairman of the National Public Safety Commission, said, “We ministers never heard about this before. We want the prime minister to explain his real intentions and the content of his remarks.” Finance Minister Yoshihiko Noda said, “I took it as his (Kan’s) personal opinion,” adding the premier’s personal opinions are not government policy. As of this morning, Kan has publicly admitted the nuclear phase-out announcement was, in fact, his personal opinion.
- Can the Japanese public believe anything he says?
- Toshiba has quietly developed a new waste water decontamination system they say could be used in parallel to the one now sporadically operating at Fukushima Daiichi. NHK World reports the system consists of 14 large tanks filled with Cesium and Strontium absorbent materials. It is designed to reduce water contamination levels by a factor of one million. The system operating at Fukushima has a decontamination factor of 10,000. Toshiba says they have created a simpler, more efficient system by learning from the problems encountered in building and running the one now at Fukushima. Toshiba says the new system could be operating at the power complex by early August.
- JAIF reports TEPCO will install new cooling systems for the spent fuel pools (SPF) of unit’s # 1 and #4. Unit #4, with the most stored fuel cells producing the higher level of on-going decay heat, will be given first priority. It’s target date is late July. The cooling system on SPF #1 is planned to be operating by early August.
- Government sources say much of the 20-30 km. evacuation zone around Fukushima could be lifted by the end of August. This is the first phase of the plan to re-inhabit the radiologically safe areas that were evacuated as a precaution beginning March 12. With the on-going control of cooling water flow to the three damaged reactors and the possibility of additional hydrogen explosions unlikely, the prospect of people having to re-evacuate in the future is very low. However, the waste water decontamination process must become more reliable before actual re-population can occur. The major portion of the zone being considered for re-population is called the “emergency evacuation preparation zone”, where public withdrawal was essentially voluntary. It is estimated that 38,000 people have left the area. Whether or not they return when the precautionary order is lifted remains to be seen. The 20-50km “planned evacuation zone” to the northwest of Fukushima Daiichi will remain in effect.
- NHK World reports Kyushu Electric Company had as many as 141 company employees involved in the “Email scam” reported last week. We still want to know why it is OK for nuclear opponents to use this tactic, but it’s considered exceedingly unethical for nuclear power companies to do it.
- JAIF reports TEPCO’s Fukushima Daini power complex and Japan Atomic Power Company’s Tokai Nuclear Power Station were both completely cut off from the nation-wide transmission system due to the magnitude 9 earthquake of March 11, same as Fukushima Daiichi. Both station’s emergency diesel generators automatically started and were supplying the plant’s emergency cooling systems within minutes of the wide-spread blackout. Both stations were subsequently hit by the tsunami, with a wave over 20 ft. hitting Fukushima Daini and a wave slightly smaller at Tokai. All emergency diesels operated through the tsunami and provided all the electricity needed to keep the reactor fuel cells cool and intact until the transmission systems were re-energized several days later. Why the Fukushima Daiichi Power Station was hit with tsunami 42-45 feet high is still being evaluated.
- We now know more about why the diesel generators on units #1 through #4 were lost due to the tsunami. Japan Times reports there are two diesels for each unit (8 total) and all are located in the basements of their interconnected turbine buildings. In the basements!
The very same basements currently flooded with highly contaminated waters. The diesels have literally been under water since the tsunami hit. Toshiba blames their meltdown-causing location on General Electric, who built unit #1. Toshiba says they built the other three units just the way GE taught them.
This is absolutely no excuse! In the mid 1990s, all American plants were told to move their diesels into buildings outside all other plant structures, encased in water-tight, earthquake resistant buildings. IAEA recommended everyone do this more than a decade ago. NISA and all the other overlapping Japanese regulatory bodies didn’t follow IAEA recommendations. Further, Japan’s Nuclear safety Commission studied a Fukushima-type loss-of-power scenario from 1991 to 1993. The study states similar research was done in America and France which resulted in emergency power upgrades to their nukes. The NSC concluded the possibility of a complete loss of power to a Japanese plant was too unlikely to make the upgrades.
So, was it GE’s fault? Absolutely not!
- The Japanese news media is literally having a field day concerning the sale and consumption of beef from Fukushima containing cesium isotopes. The levels of Cesium-134 and 137 are below health standards for consumption, but the existence of these non-hazardous levels in beef people may have consumed for as long as a month, combined widespread phobic fear of radiation, makes it “newsworthy”. As it turns out, at least two farms in Fukushima Prefecture that supply feed to beef cattle growers have above-safety-standard Cesium levels in their hay. The cattle consumed this hay and that’s how the Cesium got into the meat.Hay draws water and nutrients from it’s surrounding soil as it grows. The soil the contaminated hay was grown has low Cesium levels. The cesium isotopes drawn in from the soil concentrate in the hay as it develops. Thus the hay has above-standard contamination levels. However, as we have mentioned in previous updates, Cesium is somewhat water soluble and quite indigestible. Most of the ingested Cesium passes quickly through the digestive systems of mammals and is not retained. We can see why above-standard contaminated feed results in below-health-standard beef.
- The on-going power shortage in Japan due to the government not allowing fully functional nukes to restart, will get worse in two weeks. Kansai Electric Power Company has announced that two of its currently-operating nukes will be shut down for routine inspections, maintenance and refueling. The first, Takahama #4’s pressurized water reactor (PWR) system with an electrical power output of 870 megawatts (MW), will shut down July 21. Oi #4, a PWR with an 1180 MW output, will be shut down July 22.
- JAIF reports the American NRC has published an investigative task force report on recommended Fukushima-inspired safety regulations. We have read the report and found some subtle but significant exaggerations in the JAIF article, copied directly from NHK World. The article says the NRC wants disaster preparedness reviewed every 10 years, but the report says it will be a review the latest disaster research every ten years in order to see if existing regulations are still appropriate. The article says nuke plants must insure at least 8 hours of backup power, but the report says at least 8 hours of emergency diesel power , but with sufficient backups to bring the reactor core into cold shutdown within 72 hours. The article further says, “The report also notes that safety measures at US nuclear power plants have been voluntary,” but the report says some beyond-design-basis accident safety improvements have been voluntary because they only apply to some American rectors. For example, increased tsunamic safety is mandated for sea-side plants where tsunamis are possible. They are voluntary for nukes on rivers and lakes where catastrophic tsunamis are not possible.JAIF has been a model of informational responsibility and accuracy, up to this point. NHK might be as good as it gets with the Japanese news media, but they need to be checked for accuracy, none-the-less.