**Congratulations to Japan for their heart-pounding, come-from-behind, fairy-tale upset victory in the Women’s World Cup of soccer. We hope this will bring great optimism to Japan, especially for those who have most suffered from the great earthquake and tsunami of 2011.**
- A joint statement from TEPCO and NISA announces the situation at Fukushima Daiichi has “stabilized”. The major goals set by TEPCO in their “road map” for completion of phase no. 1 in their plan to recover from their nuclear emergency have been met. The reactor pressure vessels and spent fuel pools and are being cooled in a reliable and consistent fashion, airborne and liquid releases to the surrounding environment are below the levels listed as goals in the plan, and measures to avoid further releases are making positive headway.
- Kansai Electric Company has been forced to shut down its Oi #1 reactor because of an inexplicable pressure drop in a storage tank for emergency core cooling (ECCS) water. Plant procedures require that they shut down, investigate the cause of the pressure drop, and repair any discovered problems before restarting. The pressure drop reduces the reliability of the ECCS tank to provide sufficient replenishment waters for a severe nuclear emergency, because the tanks needs a minimum pressure for the system to operate at full capacity. Even though the pressure returned to normal within an hour, shutdown was required to find out why it happened. The tacit moratorium on reactor restarts will keep the plant shut down, adding even more stress to the power shortage now gripping Japan.
- The Japanese government has announced they will “reconsider” total evacuation of the current 20km. no-go zone, reports Mainichi Shimbun. One requirement for localized re-population is to meet the technical conditions for “cold shutdown” on all three severely fuel damaged reactors, and another is to have decontaminated all the waste waters in the turbine and reactor building basements. Before any parts of the no-go zone are re-populated, they must not have contamination or radiation exposure levels at or above national health standards. Re-population will also be considered for areas evacuated outside the no-go zone.
- Then new Nuclear Crisis Minister, Goshi Hosono, proposes creating a new, comprehensive nuclear regulatory agency independent of all other government bodies. Prime Minister Kan merely wants NISA to be removed from the Ministry of the Economy and made independent. But Hosono proposes removing NISA from its Ministry, the Nuclear Safety Commission (NSC) from the Prime Minister’s Cabinet, and taking radiation monitoring responsibilities from the Ministry of Science, then blend their functions into a completely new body. He said, “It is important to attempt unification.” Please recall that IAEA said, in mid-June, that the Japanese nuclear administration system is too complex to make swift decisions in dealing with emergencies. We concur.
- Yomiuri Shimbun says the Cesium-contaminated cattle situation continues to grow. The number of cattle found to contain Cesium isotopes now numbers at least 143 animals. Of these, two produced meat slightly above health standards for consumption. The Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Ministry reports, “This is nothing less than a colossal blunder by our ministry. It was beyond our expectations that straw would become a source of radioactive contamination.” The article also notes that 12,000 cattle have been found “clean”. The standards are set at least an order of magnitude below the statistical threshold for actual health effects, but phobic fear of radiation at all levels makes this a top news story in Japan.
- NISA has announced there will be four specific areas of nuclear safety addressed in the proposed “stress tests” to be administered to about half of the currently-idled nukes in Japan. They are (1) earthquake resistance, (2) tsunami protection, (3) complete loss of electrical power, and (4) decay heat from reactor fuel cells. Computer modeling will be used to analyze each plant’s strengths and weaknesses. Each plant’s operating staffs will conduct on-site tests, and their parent utility companies will insure the computer modeling gets done. The results will be submitted to NISA and NSC, then they will jointly decide which plants pass and which fail. In any case, it is unlikely that the test results will be completed by the end of the year, which means nation-wide power shortages will continue through the remainder of 2011.The first round of tests will be for 10 of the 19 currently-idled plants which have not been “directly affected” by the earthquake/tsunami of March 11. The other nine, plus those to be shut down for routine inspection and refueling by the end of the year, will not be included in the first round of testing. By spring of 2012, 35 Japanese nuclear plants will be idled and no more than 10 will be operating. In addition, there is no way of knowing if the Prefectural governments will accept positive results as sufficient reason to let any of the first 10 plants restart.
- NHK World reports TEPCO is hastily building a metal roof over a large hole in #3 turbine building to keep approaching typhoon Ma-on rainwater from adding more volume to the waste waters in the building’s basement. The new roof will be 15 ft. by 45 ft. in area. NHK adds that there are no plans to cover reactor buildings 1, 3 and 4, and protect them from rainwater buildup. What NHK fails to report is that the buildups in the reactor building basements have come from reactor pressure vessel and primary containment leaks, as well as overflow from the turbine buildings. In other words, direct rainwater buildup is not an issue for the reactor buildings, which are tightly sealed by the concrete structures below the refueling pool level.