- Tepco’s plan to discharge uncontaminated groundwater has hit a roadblock. The groundwater leakage into the four basements at Fukushima Daiichi has caused a contaminated wastewater buildup of 400 tons per day. Diverting some groundwater to the sea will reduce the in-flow by about 100 tons per day. The company met with representatives of the local fisheries to explain the situation, but could not get consent for the discharge. Tepco met with officials of the Fukushima Prefectural Federation of Fisheries Co-operative Associations today, hoping to get their approval of the discharge. Tepco explained that the groundwater in four of the twelve testing locations has the same radioactive level as local rivers and streams, while the other ten locations show no detectible radioactivity. Tetsu Nozaki, who heads the federation, said the group will hold off on making a decision, reversing his earlier position of support. He explained, “Some members do not understand the difference between groundwater and contaminated water,” because Tepco and the Fukushima government need to better explain what is going on. He added, “The central government should make it clear that it has approved the plan.” To add more confusion, another fisheries official said, “I cannot see clearly how the central government will get involved in this.” Nozaki says some fishermen fear that the leaking underground reservoirs at F. Daiichi will pollute the groundwater and eventually send radiation into the sea, causing contamination of the local fish. Tepco says it could take another month to inform all the fishermen enough to gain the consent they desire. (Asahi Shimbun; Jiji Press; Kyodo News; NHK World, Japan Daily Press; Mainichi Shimbun) comment – On Tuesday, Tokyo’s Industry Minister said they will explain the groundwater situation to the fisheries in support of Tepco.
- An international group of scientific experts ask the question “Nuclear Radiation – friend or enemy?” Scientists for Public Understanding of Radiation (SPUR) have issued a call to dispel myths and fears about radiation exposure using common-sense arguments. SPUR calls for a “sea of change” in international attitudes towards radiation. The group is against setting health standards a hundred times lower than any exposure that has actually harmed anyone. They argue that numerous detrimental effects of these extreme regulations affect everyone; most notably the people of Fukushima Prefecture where (1) no-one has died from Fukushima radiation exposure, yet serious social and economic damages have happened, (2) the people who have died in Fukushima were a result of the chaotic forced evacuation, and (3) over-reaction due to radiation fears have shut down all but two nukes in Japan, causing the nation to experience the worst economic shortfall in history, just to name a few. All negative impacts are due to ridiculously low health standards spawned by ultra-conservatism and fear of radiation. The group calls for widespread public education to explain the actual risks of exposure and the numerous benefits this effort will surely bring to the world. For the full report and extensive list of references, go to http://www.gepr.org/en/contents/20130507-02/SPUR-1.pdf
- Two Japanese researchers say F. Daiichi contamination reached waterways in Shizuoka Prefecture, 400 kilometers from the accident. How it got there may have been due to Japan’s complex of interconnected waterways. The report in Nature Magazine claims to have released this information for the first time. One researcher specializes in freshwater ecology and the other teaches economics at the Lake Biwa Environmental Research Institute. The data has been available since 2011 through the Tokyo fisheries agency, but has not been analyzed before. The researchers say the water and irrigation networks across Japan carried F. Daiichi contamination much further than previously estimated, and much faster than anyone could have anticipated. While none of the data from Shizuoka show any of the Prefecture’s fish to have had higher radiation levels than national standards, radioactive cesium was detectible in 2011. Current testing on the Prefecture’s fish show no Cesium. The researchers have asked Tokyo to expand their nation-wide freshwater monitoring efforts based on the new data. (Japan Daily Press)
- Tepco will remove part of the roof of the enclosure around F. Daiichi unit #1. The part to be detached will allow removal of debris to prepare for transferring spent fuel out of the structure. The enclosure was completed in October, 2011, to reduce radioactive releases from the rubble atop the refueling deck. Once finished, the enclosure dropped releases by more than a factor of 100. Tepco shared their plans with local officials on Friday. The company wants to begin the work this coming winter. Once the roof is opened, F. Daiichi staff can begin clearing the refueling deck of debris remaining from the March 12, 2011 hydrogen explosion. First, suppressant chemicals will be sprayed on the rubble to prevent radioactive dust from escaping. After all debris is removed, spent fuel removal equipment will be installed, including a new polar crane, and then the roof panels will be replaced. The entire process is expected to take 4 years. A Tepco official said that dismantling the cover is expected to lead to a “slight rise” in the station’s radiation level but the impact will be “little.” (NHK World; Asahi Shimbun; Kyodo News) comment – It should be noted that The Asahi Shimbun alleges the entire roof of the enclosure will be “demolished”. Why the paper makes this speculation is unknown. The roof was made in pre-fabricated sections which are removable.
The ruling Liberal Democratic Party of Japan has made nuke restarts a plank in this summer’s upper house election. The LDP’s draft platform states, “Nuclear reactors that meet Nuclear Regulation Authority safety standards will resume operations under the government’s responsibility.” The party wants all nukes that meet the new regulations operating within the next three years. Roughly one-half of the 6-year-term seats in the upper House of Councillors will be contested. All major news polls indicate that the LDP’s landslide victory over the Democratic Party of Japan in the lower house election, earlier this year, will be repeated. The LDP platform actually contains about 300 policy proposals, mainly directed toward revitalizing Japan’s struggling economy. Restarting the now-idled nukes is but one part of the plan. However, the Press is presenting nuke restarts as the single-most important plank in the platform, much the same as the news media did earlier this year with the lower house election. (Japan Today; Japan Times)