- The new waste water decontamination system recently developed by Toshiba is being shipped to Fukushima Daiichi. The new system has been given the acronym SARRY. It consists of 14 cylinders containing minerals that strip suspended and dissolved materials from the water flowing through them. The minerals have been tested to reduce Cesium from water by a factor of a million. The first shipment of tanks and related equipment left the port in Iwaki on Monday, with two more shipments expected soon there-after. The plan is to have it operating in early August. SARRY is simpler in design than the improvised process now operating sporadically at Fukushima, and it was tested before shipment to insure a much more reliable operation. Combined with the volume of waste waters now being decontaminated, the amount of radioactive waste water should be reduced much faster. Between the two systems, all radioactive waste waters should be decontaminated by the end of the year and meet that criteria for phase two completion.Meanwhile, the current system has once again experienced irregular operation since Sunday. For the past three days, the amount of water processed has been less than the amount being injected into the RPVs. There was no such system anywhere in the world before Fukushima’s accident, thus it has gone through a prolonged “debugging” process that has created more news media interest than its successes…and it has been a relative success. The 25,000 tons of water decontaminated thus far has averted additional radioactive releases to the sea. Without it, contaminated aqueous releases would occur with every heavy rain storm.
- In a confusing NHK World article we first find robot has been sent into #3 reactor building by TEPCO to inspect piping system’s and their integrity, as well as measure radiation exposure levels along the way. The article says the robot is also being used to try and find ways to cool the RPV with less water. However, the article makes no mention of how the use of this robot could possibly discover ways to reduce RPV water flow and maintain the same cooling function in the process.Later in the article we find out that TEPCO is now injecting 390 tons of water into the three RPVS (units 1, 2 & 3) every day. The waste water decontamination system has been running about a month and has cleaned 25,000 tons of waste water. Since roughly 12,000 tons have been injected in the past 30 days, there is at least 12,000 tons of clean water in reserve. Enough for another month. This should be plenty of time to get the new SARRY system in operation before the supply runs out, even if the current system would be lost completely.
Near the end of the article, TEPCO is reported to have said unit #3 needs higher water flow than either unit #1 or #2 because it has “leaks and other problems” not encountered with the other two RPVs. From our perspective, this is more evidence that the most severely damaged fuel cell, and thus the more severely damaged RPV, is unit #3.
At the article’s end, TEPCO allegedly says they want to eventually be able to send men into the reactor building and pour water directly on the RPV. This makes no sense whatsoever! At some point in the future, the RPV and Drywell will be filled with water, the drywell dome will be removed, the top vessel head will be removed and the interior will be cleaned of as much melted material as possible. Is this what TEPCO means?
- NHK World also reports a senior member of the Japanese government council on disaster preparedness says nuclear plants must prepare for the biggest possible tsunami, no matter how small the likelihood of such an event. Kansai University Professor Yoshiaki Kawata heads the council’s survey team and said the potential impact of another Fukushima-type tsunami may be unlikely, but is not impossible. He cited evidence of similarly extreme tsunamic waves from 400 year-old historical records in Fukui Prefecture. This is in addition to geologic records from a thousand years ago of yet another huge tsunami. Japan’s nuclear regulators can no longer ignore these rare but not impossible events any more.
- Japan’s Food Safety Commission (FSC) has set an ingestion limit to radiation exposure at 100 millisieverts per year. They justify the limit by saying it seems to be the point at which risk of cancer begins to increase. They point out that children are believed to be more susceptible to radiation damage, but feel the new limit will also provide them adequate protection. The FSC admits, however, the evidence for children being more susceptible than adults is unclear due to a lack of available research on the issue. The idea of increased susceptibility in children is largely a prudent assumption. The FSC limit does not include background radiation exposures in Japan, which are much lower than the new limit.
- A Yomiuri Shimbun article headlines that “experts” are skeptical about the Fukushima Prefecture’s public radiation exposure program. They cite Makoto Akashi, executive director of the National Institute of Radiological Sciences, who says, “I don’t think it’s possible to make a precise estimate of their radiation exposure.” He is the only person quoted who has any kind of expert credentials. All other people in the article are Fukushima residents complaining about the detailed complexity of a questionnaire they are asked to fill out before getting a whole body count. Does this really indicate that “experts” have their doubts, or is Yomiuri Shimbun exaggerating in its headline?
- The number of cattle that were fed contaminated straw is now ~3,000. Beef sales across Japan have dropped nearly 50% over the “beef-phobia” that seems rampant nation-wide. Just about every news media outlet has an article about this each day. So far, less than a dozen cattle have been found to have meat contamination slightly above the health limit for consumption. All of the meat from these cows will be confiscated by the government and burned. The rest of the lot have Cesium levels well below the health standard. However, phobic fear of radiation has taken this situation to the extreme. Kyodo News and Japan Times report that Japan’s Isotope Research Institute, Inc., has received more than 150 requests and samples of beef for them to scan for Cesium. Obviously many people in Japan don’t trust government reports on the situation. It also seems that the $190 fee per scan isn’t dissuading them, either. What makes this even more curious is that the limit on Cesium isotopes in meat is based on the amounts caused by fallout from nuclear weapon’s tests in the South Pacific more than 5 decades ago that never hurt anyone, but this seems to be overlooked in all news reports.
- A recent Tokyo symposium of newspaper reporters was covered by Mainichi Shimbun. The reporters met to discuss what some believe to be a loss of interest in the Fukushima accident. Most of the reporters who spoke argued that the public around the world has lost interest, so their papers have not pursued regular coverage. Many Japanese reporters feel their perception of the Japanese public’s reduced interest is due to placing too much faith in government statements that the situation is improving.We have found the amount of available news media coverage dwindles as each week passes. We also find many science websites have stopped their regular Fukushima updates, which may be the result of decreased website activity. Decreased site activity is taken to be an indicator of the public’s level of interest. But, we question if a waning of news media and internet interest in Fukushima is actually due to a lack of public interest? We feel that not providing on-going updates is a disservice to everyone. Much is happening in and around Fukushima, and much more needs to be done. We feel the world needs to be given the opportunity to “keep up” on Fukushima. Thus, we will continue to provide as much information as possible, no matter what the news media and other internet sites might believe.