(For the CommentaryEarthquake phobia threatens Japan’s electrical infrastructure, please  click here)

  • A Commissioner of the new regulatory agency (NRA) says the situation at Fukushima Daiichi remains “precarious”. NRA commissioner Kenzo Oshima told UN security chief Yukiya Amano that “Overall, the conditions there have been maintained rather in a stable condition … but there is no denying that the whole situation remains precarious of course.A lot of precaution, a lot of care, a lot of attention is still very much needed.” His concerns have been spawned by the April visit of American senator Ron Wyden, who said Japan needed to do more to move the spent fuel bundles at F. Daiichi unit #4 out of harm’s way. “I am aware there are a lot of concerns expressed, including by the U.S. senator.” Oshima said. But he admitted “[Tepco] considerably reinforced measures so that it can withstand the earthquakes that might happen again.”Oshima also said the NRA will soon conduct the first of many earthquake risk assessments, beginning with the Oi nuclear power station where two units are now operating. He points out that some geologists think dangerous fault lines run under the Oi power plants. When asked if the plants would be shuttered if the studies determined the underlying anomalies were in-fact seismic, Oshima said, “It depends on the findings.” (Japan Today; Bloomberg Business Week)
  • The NRA has released a listing of the range of types of nuclear accident initiators they will address in their new regulations. Historically, measures to prevent accidents have been largely left to the nuclear utility companies to address…if they decided to spend the money needed for upgrades. Nuclear safety upgrades will no longer be at the mercy of corporate discretion. Unless the electric companies meet or exceed the forthcoming standards, their nukes will not be allowed to operate. The various types of nuclear accident precursors the NRA will address includes terrorist attacks, plane crashes, volcanic activity, toxic gases and the loss of cooling functions due to a massive convergence of jellyfish from the sea, in addition to Fukushima-like full station blackouts simultaneously affecting multiple reactors. The NRA plans on posting an outline of their new accident-prevention standards early in 2013. (NHK World)
  • Half of last year’s reconstruction funds designated for the Tohoku region have not been used. The Board of Audit of Japan reports that 52% of the money set aside for recovery by this past March remains in the government coffers. Much of the problem concerns three the Prefectures surrounding F. Daiichi – Fukushima, Iwate, and Miyagi. The number of available jobs intended for reconstruction has not been filled, which prevents affected municipalities from using the available cash. The town of Futaba (Fukushima Prefecture) has used only 6% of its allotted monies and Hirono (Iwate Prefecture) has used but 11%. Clearly, the lowest rates of budget execution are found in proximity to F. Daiichi because of unresolved decontamination issues and a lack of workers due to fears of radiation. (Mainichi Shimbun)