- JAIF reports the first large plastic “cover” sections for encasing damaged reactor buildings #1, 3 & 4 have begun to arrive at Fukushima Daiichi. The steel supports and beams for the covering material continue to be assembled at a seaport 50 kilometers from the crippled power complex. The concrete bases for the steel supports is scheduled to begin arriving today. The plan is to have all three buildings encased by mid-September and effectively eliminate possible airborne activity releases thereafter.
- The Japanese government has designated the Education and Science Ministry as the collection agency for all radiation monitoring data in Japan. In a meeting held on Monday, the government decided to centrally analyze all radiation survey data collected by official Ministries, local governments and TEPCO. Results will be posted publicly on a new, dedicated website. The government plans to take detailed surveys inside of every 2 km2 area inside the no-go zone and all evacuation advisory areas outside the 20 km radius. This data will be used to verify (or refute) estimated contamination and radiation levels now being utilized for continued evacuation measures. The plan is to allow residents to return home in areas found to be safe.
- Prime Minister Kan has ordered a series of upgraded safety checks for all nuclear plants designed to assess their ability to survive the greatest possible environmental and technological stresses on their systems. Japan’s news media is calling this new nuclear safety program a “stress test”. The nuclear operator at Fukushima (TEPCO) and the government’s various regulatory agencies have come under heavy, justifiable criticism for not adequately preparing for the catastrophic tsunami. Kan gives no details as to what this upgraded safety program will include, but it ought to take considerable influence from IAEA and American NRC regulatory standards. Upon this announcement, the governor of Saga Prefecture has said he will not decide on the proposed restart of Genkai units #2 & 3 until the “stress test” has been run to completion on the two reactor plants. It is believed all other Prefectural governors will do the same thing. Thus, Kan avoids the political stress which would come with meeting the governors and deciding whether or not to restart idled nuclear plants. Power shortages will undoubtedly be the case across Japan through the summer, if not well into the winter, which seems less significant to Kan than succumbing to radiation fears.
- NHK World reports the waste-water decontamination system at Fukushima has cleansed nearly 15,000 tons of contaminated waters. NHK adds the system is working at 86% of its designed capacity. Why not 100%? We might refer to automobile gas mileage ratings for an analogy. If the dealer reports the car has a “design” EPA rating of 30 mpg, we can be quite sure we will actually get about 27 mpg on the open road, and 25 mpg driving locally. Regardless, 86% capacity on the clean-up system is more than enough to adequately the volume of highly contaminated waters in the turbine and reactor building basements at Fukushima.
- Professor Ken Sasaki of Hiroshima Kokusai Gakuin University has announced he may have a possible solution to the Cesium contamination situation inside the Fukushima evacuation areas. Cesium-eating microbes. NHK says Sasaki mixed 90 grams of microbes with 2.5 grams of Cesium. The level of cesium dropped by a factor of twelve in 24 hours, and was completely consumed in three days. Sasaki wants to test his Cesium-munchers on soil samples taken from inside the Fukushima evacuation zone.
- Mainichi Shimbun has an editorial in today’s issue charging that TEPCO and the Tokyo government panicked early-on in the nuclear emergency at Fukushima Daiichi. The editorial states that this “elite” panic was amplified because they did not want the public to panic at the same time. Panic-upon-panic paranoia, per se. Mainichi concludes this may have been yet another reason why TEPCO and the government withheld considerable amounts of information over the first few weeks of the situation. However, “elite” fears of public panic seem to have been unfounded. The news media of Japan expected wide-spread panic over the killer tsunami, but were surprised to find a general public behavior of calm, well-organized actions.We already know the accident at Fukushima was caused by inadequate regulatory oversight, a lack of TEPCO home-office expertise in handling nuclear emergencies, government nuclear ineptitude, a wildly confused and time-consuming emergency decision-making process, and poor local community response to the Fukushima nuclear emergency center. Now, we might throw in the notion of executive and administrative panic. We recommend reading this most reasonable and provocative editorial…
- Japan’s Nuclear safety Commission says more than 1,000 children of Fukushima Prefecture were scanned for I-131 thyroid up-take between March 26 and 30th. 45% were found to have trace amounts of I-131 in their thyroids, but none were above the 0.2 microsievert/hr “benchmark” for on-going health monitoring. Regardless, this information comes from thyroid scans performed more than 3 months ago, but has only been released in the past 24 hrs. Why has it taken so long to get this very, very good news released? How much parental angst and anger could have been avoided with a much more expeditious processing and reporting of the findings?
Meanwhile, thousands of miles away in America…
- Nuclear Energy Institute (NEI) has run a poll of more than 1,000 US residents who live within a ten mile radius of nuclear generating plants. The poll was run independently covering all 64 nuclear plant locations across the country. The individuals polled excluded households with anyone who works at a nuclear plant. Respondents were evenly split among Democrats, Independents and Republicans. The margin of error is plus or minus three percentage points. 83% favor continued use of nuclear reactors in the production of electricity and 11% strongly oppose the nuclear option. This poll was compared to a similar one taken in 2009, which showed nearly 90% in favor and 7% opposed. Other key results include 86% in favor of renewal of operating licenses if the plant continues to meet all safety regulations (13% disagree), and 72% say we should build more nukes (25% disagree). Clearly, those most “at risk” in America do not want the nuclear option abandoned.
- NEI has also written a detailed response to a wildly speculative, largely assumptive series of reports run by the Associated Press, June 20 through 24th. Basically, the writer says any plant more than 40 years old should be scrapped. AP’s 4 articles say (1) the NRC has weakened safety rules to re-license aging plants, (2) US plants often leak radioactive tritium into the groundwater because of their age, (3) populations surrounding US nukes have soared and emergency evacuation plans are no longer feasible, and (4) extended licensing of nuclear plants is an NRC-nuclear industry conspiracy. NEI refutes each claim in exhaustive fashion. We recommend reading it…http://www.nei.org/filefolder/FS_AP_Series_on_Nuclear_Plant_Safety_070111.pdf