- NHK World says TEPCO has completed the fuel pool cooling system for unit #4. Initially, water is being pumped into the pool and not run through the installed water cooling component in order to bring the pool’s water level to full. Once the pool is completely filled, the cooling component will be used to drop temperature. The current temperature is 84 oC. We will see what happens to temperature early this week. Unit #4 SPF has twice the number of fuel bundles in it and they produce considerably more heat than with units 1, 2 and 3.
NHK, however, continues to call everything at the plant “the reactor”, which is grossly misleading. When NHK writes, “The company plans to lower the water temperature to around 55 degrees within a month to cool the reactor in a stable manner,” it makes them sound ridiculous. The SPF is not the reactor and the new SPF cooling system will not cool the actual reactor in any way. NHK has been a paradigm of news reporting up to this point. It’s time to fix this ongoing ptroblem. The reactor is a plant component, but not the whole plant. It’s like calling a car’s air conditioner the car-itself.
- Japan Today reports western news media articles allege the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry(METI) is trying to censor what they believe to be erroneous rumors about Fukushima Daiichi by monitoring world-wide news reports and Twitter entries. METI says they have hired a firm to keep track of all internet articles, blogs, and other web accounts about Fukushima that might be harmful to Fukushima residents. The Ministry says they have reports of Fukushima Prefecture citizens experiencing discrimination through rumors that they spread radiation when they travel outside the Prefecture. METI has hired a firm to indeed monitor internet reports, but they intend to try and correct false rumors by creating a rumor control page on their website, using a Q&A format. Many news media sources report that the Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency (NISA), a sub-group of METI, has attempted to sway public opinion toward nuclear energy as far back as 2007. It seems NIOSA’s already damaged credibility has been further damaged. Mainichi Shimbun says , “It’s like the thief you caught red-handed turned out to be a police officer.” METI says they will set up a third-party fact-finding group to investigate what seems to be a conflict of interest. We feel that having NISA within the domain of the Ministry of Economy is an unacceptable conflict of interest in itself. This new issue can only hurt the chances of restarting idled nukes after the now-infamous stress tests.
- The recent revelations of NISA openly trying to manipulate public opinion relative to nuclear energy between 2001 and 2007 has created yet another Prime Minister Kan whipping-boy. He says it’s all the fault of former Prime Minister Ryutaro Hashimoto,who was in office when NISA was created in 2001. It seems Kan wants us to forget that until March 11, he seemed totally comfortable with NISA and the nuclear utilities working closely together. Now he wants to blame the regulatory conflict of interest on a distant predecessor rather than take at least some of the blame for himself.
- IAEA chief Yukiya Amano has chided TEPCO and NISA for less then transparent information flow during the early phase of the accident. “Sufficient information failed to reach the IAEA in the initial phase of the accident,” he said. We feel this is an understatement.
- NHK World reports US president Obama has established “blue ribbon” commission on finding a temporary disposition for spent fuel rod storage and handling. The initial recommendation includes creating a central storage facility to hold spent fuel cells for 100 years. The report also urges the government to find a way to safely manage the dangerous materials to avoid passing on the burden of nuclear waste to future generations.
- Mainichi Shimbun reports a 6.5 Richter Scale earthquake hit Fukushima Prefecture yesterday, and possible after-shocks of greater magnitude are possible. Though earthquakes of this magnitude are not uncommon in Japan, the proximity to Fukushima Daiichi makes it a major headline. By the way, the quake had no damaging effect on the power complex.
- The Hiroshima Syndrome invades a Fukushima classroom. Japan Times tells us of a Fukushima English teacher who has quit because he was told to stop alarming students about radiation exposure. The Principal at Fukushima Nisi High School said the teacher was spending considerable time in the classroom talking about radiation risks, rather than the teacher’s subject matter of literature. Some parents were complaining the teacher was spending too much time on radiation subjects and not enough time on curriculum subject matter. The Principal said the teacher was asked to stop advising students to contiue wearing face masks and long sleeve shirts, even though the government announced it was no longer necessary. The teacher was not told to stop all discussion on the issue, but rather to tone it down. The teacher took this as an unreasonable attempt to censor him, so he quit. He believed no level of radiation exposure is safe for children, and he continually reinforced his belief because he felt Fukushima children were not being sufficiently protected by school administration. So, when is a literature teacher suddenly an expert on the biological effects of ionizing radiation?
- Apparently some of Japan’s lawyers have run out of ambulances to chase. JAIF reports the Japan Federation of Bar Associations will assign around 100 lawyers to mediate settlements generated out of the Fukushima nuclear emergency. In April, the government formed a panel to work on who is eligible for compensation. The federation is also preparing to appoint 30 lawyers as screening officers to look into compensation claims. The organization expects the claims of “unprecedented size” to be addressed first and handled quickly, which should be of no surprise to anyone.