- Tokyo Electric Co. says the F. Daiichi cistern leakage was actually much less than initial estimates. Tepco initially guessed the volume which seeped in between the inner and second layer of the triple-sheet cistern liner was 120 tons. The company says actual measurements show the leakage was about 20 liters (~0.2 metric tons). Tepco president Naomi Hirose presented the new information to the Press on Thursday. Hirose stressed that most of the leakage remains between the layers of the pool’s liner. He added that regardless of the volume, the leak through the inner liner is a “fact”. (Kyodo News; Asahi Shimbun)
- The Fukushima groundwater discharge issue continues in the headlines. Here are a few new pieces of information. (1) Tepco is running analyses at all twelve of their groundwater “wells” and says that some radioactivity was initially detectible in four of them. The highest reading was 0.12 Becquerels per liter of Cesium. Eight of the wells have shown no detectible radioactive isotopes. The Japanese Press says the national limit for unrestricted waters is 90 Becquerels per liter. Traces of other isotopes are in the samples but are in tiny amounts. (2) One fisheries representative believes Tepco will never get consent of the membership unless they have outside support, “An explanation from Tepco alone will not be enough to win the confidence of union members.” (3) Some fishermen say they are more concerned about rumors than the radioactivity in the groundwater. Rumors about radiation have hurt the sales of Fukushima-caught fish in major markets like Tokyo. The fishermen fear more rumors will be generated if Tepco discharges the groundwater to the sea, whether or not the water is radioactive. One union member said, “Even if it is [only] groundwater, damage to the public perception of fishing will be unavoidable and could hurt our trial operations.” (4) There are a few supporters of Tepco’s planned discharge among the membership, however. One official stated, “(The federation) would be better off letting it happen because Tepco will have no choice but to release contaminated water into the sea if its system to handle radioactive water falls apart.” (6) Tetsu Nozaki, head of the Federation, believes the problem is misunderstanding among the union membership, “Many of our members got a wrong idea that contaminated water would be dumped into the sea after being treated.” (The Japan News; Asahi Shimbun)
- On Tuesday, Tsugura Mayor Kazuharu Kawase asked Tokyo to make “cautious deliberations” concerning the geologic seams below Tsugura unit #2. He said, “I have doubts about [the Nuclear Regulation Authority’s] rushing toward a conclusion.” Plant owner Japan Atomic Power Company is busily investigating the suspect geologic anomaly and has not yet filed their most recent data. Mayor Kawase wanted the NRA to wait until Japco’s study is complete and reviewed by international experts, “I want the NRA to cautiously deliberate the matter from a broad viewpoint, reflecting the outcome of the operator’s investigations and various opinions in and outside the country.” He added that the local economy is “battered” because of the nuclear moratorium and debate over the underlying geology has made recovery unclear. NRA official Hideka Morimoto responded, “The panel has spent quite a long time (on discussions)…and is trying to summarize its assessment by using the data available at this moment”. (Mainichi Shimbun)
- On Wednesday the NRA’s seismic panel announced that the geologic seam under Tsurguga #2 is seismic. The panel consists of NRA commissioner Kunihiko Shimazaki and four academics. Their findings have been forwarded to the other four NRA commissioners for final disposition. The report states, “The panel of experts thinks that a zone of crushed rock called D-1 is an active fault that should be taken into consideration from a quake-resistant design point of view.” The NRA admits they can bar operation of Tsuruga unit #2, but they cannot force dismantlement because tearing down the facility is legally at the discretion of the owner. (Kyodo News; NHK World, Mainichi Shimbun; Yomiuri Shimbun)
- When informed of the NRA’s decision on the Tsuruga station, Japco President Yasuo Hamada blasted the NRA. He called the decision premature and unacceptable. He charged that the NRA refused to wait for the data now being compiled by Japco and they should have delayed the decision. Hamada further accused the NRA of drawing a conclusion that was not based on objective data or scientific facts. In addition, he said releasing the decision to the Press before informing Japco was “really an inappropriate action taken by the regulator, which exercises public power.” When asked what Japco will do if the NRA stands firm on their decision, Hamada said the company is confident that Tsuruga unit #2 can be upgraded to safely meet any seismic regulation, thus they believe they will eventually be able to restart the nuke. (Japan Times)
- NHK World says a survey of the status of Fukushima decontamination shows “little progress”. The study covers 47 municipalities inside of and contingent to the Fukushima exclusion zone. Only 4% of the land and 5% of the homes inside the exclusion zone now meet the national standard of 1 millisievert per year exposure. Outside the zone, only 23% of the land is below 1 mSv/yr. Junko Nakanishi of the National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology says that the areas where radiation levels can actually be lowered are a “small percentage” of the total which remains. She calls for a new government review of the situation to improve decontamination. (NHK World) comment – Much of the land in the “decontamination zone” is mountainous. Higher elevations and mountain bedrock necessarily raise naturally-occurring radiation levels. The 1 mSv/yr standard does not take this into account. Tokyo says 1 mSv/yr is Japan’s natural background level, which contradicts the world average (2.4 mSv/yr) and the natural radiation levels of other mountainous locales in the world (5 mSv/yr or more). Japan has no natural background data other than from the coastline and low-lying locations – geographic locations that always have the lowest readings. The government is merely guessing that the entire country has the same background levels everywhere. In other words, the 1 mSv/yr background standard for decontamination is arbitrary and based on incomplete data.
- River eels in Tokyo may have Cesium levels above the national limit. Specifically, Cesium isotope 137. The “safe” limit for Cesium has been set at 100 Becquerels per kilogram for fish and meats. A Tokyo woman has been catching eels from the Edogawa River since last year and sending them to a professor at Kinki University. Many eels exceeded the 100 Bq/kg limit, with one registering nearly 150 Bq/kg. Professor Yamazaki sent his data to the Tokyo Fisheries Agency in late March, calling for banning of eel fishing and a full investigation. The government said the commercial eel fishing season does not begin until this summer, and until then they have no legal power to invoke a restriction. However, the Agency said their routine testing of river species should be sufficient for the time being since the eels do not exceed the ultra-conservative limit by very much. Yukio Koibuchi, an associate professor of coastal environmental studies on the Edogawa River, said the situation may be caused by various factors. Other fish in the river might ingest Cesium in small amounts, and eels, being omnivorous, eat them and the material concentrates in their bodies. “We have looked into other fish and shellfish from near the river mouth, but have yet to detect Cesium,” Koibuchi said. (Asahi Shimbun)
Ten elderly antinuke activists have begun a hunger strike in Tokyo. They are part of the regular crowd that attends the weekly antinuclear protests which have been held for more than a year. The government has filed a suit to have the protesters move their tents from the property of the Industry Ministry. The ministry says their property has been illegally occupied since the protests began. The protesters decided to hold a public hunger strike until Wednesday when the ministry’s suit against the protesters will be heard in court. The strikers wear coats imprinted with “We are not removing the tents. We are against the restart of nuclear power reactors.” One protester from Fukushima Prefecture said, “People who are fighting for the end of nuclear power generation meet here and get information here,” and it will no longer be possible if the tents are taken down. Another striker said she is a Fukushima evacuee and “forced removal is unacceptable.” (Kyodo News; Japan Times)