- The former governor of Iwate Prefecture, Hitoya Masuda, says Tokyo’s Reconstruction Agency should play a critical role in local government budget planning. He feels this is critical to speeding up reconstruction caused by the earthquake and tsunami of 3/11/11. Masuda said the Agency was given insufficient funding power to affect the rebuilding and/or relocation of devastated shoreline communities. He adds that the efforts to find upland locations for new communities “are taking too much time and are exhausting the people involved. I can see hardly any influence of the Reconstruction Agency [in Iwate’s 2013 budget].” Masuda points out that much of the original money designated for reconstruction was used for projects distantly related to it. He stressed, “The agency would have more carefully examined projects outside the disaster-affected regions” if the local government had been given a greater role in budgeting. Masuda says that the needs of Miyagi and Iwate prefectures are different from Fukushima’s because they were not affected by the nuclear accident, and Tokyo needs to take this into consideration when appropriating funds. Local governments in Iwate and Miyagi need more money to get the land needed for rebuilding lost communities. If the local governments are given enough money, Masuda believes better decisions would be made on behalf of tsunami refugees. (Japan Times)
- Another lawsuit will be filed by Fukushima evacuees on March 11, the second anniversary of the accident’s onset. The class-action suit claims both Tepco and the Tokyo government are culpable parties. Some 350 persons from 20 families who fled to Tokyo and Chiba Prefectures from Miyagi, Ibaraki, Fukushima and “other” prefectures are signatories in the suit. The plaintiff’s counsel team says the suit will demand that all radiation levels be reduced to those that existed before the accident. They also want $550 per month for each person in compensation for health concerns, radiation fears and damage to their reputations, until they can safely return home. This is the first class-action suit concerning Fukushima that calls for restoring the plaintiff’s living conditions to a pre-accident state. Motomitsu Nakagawa, co-leader of one of the groups said, “We hope to pave the way for necessary future measures by clarifying the responsibility of the state for causing the damage.” Lawyer Izutaro Managi said that the government knew there was a danger of losing power due to a tsunami and yet it failed to perform its duty to prevent such an event from happening He added, “The government promoted nuclear power as a national policy and has been closely involved with it. This is a suit to recover a Fukushima with neither radiation nor nuclear power.” The suit maintains that TEPCO admitted it downplayed known tsunami risks due to politics, cost-savings and protection of the company’s reputation. (NHK World; Kyodo News Service; Japan Daily Press)
- There will be a new Tokyo government panel created to oversee the decommissioning of Fukushima Daiichi. The panel will be comprised of Ministry officials, Tepco representatives and officials from Japan’s nuclear power plant manufacturers. The intent is to speed up the dismantling of the four damaged units and develop domestic technology for the removal of corium (melted fuel). Until now, Tepco has held sporadic meetings on the issue, but the new panel will hold regular meetings toward decommissioning and publicly confirm its progress. (Kyodo news Service)
- Fukui Prefecture will investigate into using Liquid Natural Gas-fired units to replace their 14 nuke units. The Prefecture’s government is concerned that restarts will be greatly delayed due to new regulations to be handed down in July. They are also concerned that geologic seams under some of the Prefecture’s nukes might keep them from ever restarting. Fukui Governor Issei Nishikawa says the Prefecture wants nuclear plants to continue as an important part of the energy mix, but they cannot be sure what the future will hold. (Mainichi Shimbun)
- Nuclear Energy Insider’s Feb. 6 editorial says Japan’s nuclear restarts and new nuclear construction must be based on safety standards that are independent of politics. Tomoko Murakami of Japan’s Institute for Energy Economics says, “Political opinions, whether nuclear should be used or not be used, might be different party by party, but the safety standard is completely independent from political opinions.” However, the degree of influence the Nuclear Regulatory Authority will have on national policy decisions remains unclear. For example, the NRA has decided the geologic seam under the Tsuruga unit #2 has been judged to be possibly seismic, but it is not known if the government will order the plant to be scrapped. Murakami adds that public opinion has softened on the nuclear question over the last year, which shows that public opinion wavers with time. Thus, it should not impact nuclear safety decisions either. While the new government is less critical of nuclear energy, they must not return to the past’s open promotion of atomic power. One thing is for sure – Japan’s nuclear decisions will be watched closely by the rest of the world.
Author William Tucker has posted an excellent op-ed piece on the low level radiation controversy. I highly recommend reading it… http://www.nucleartownhall.com/blog/william-tucker-will-the-dangers-of-radiation-exposure-ever-make-sense/