- Wisps of vapor have been detected off the fifth floor of F. Daiichi unit #3. Station staff noticed the vapor rising from the vicinity of the upper containment dome. The dome temperature is about 100oF due to the heat wave now blanketing most of Japan. In addition, near-constant downpours of rain have hit most of northeast Japan, where F. Daiichi is located. Thus, Tepco believes the vapor is due to rain seeping through the fifth floor’s debris and slowly evaporating when it comes in contact with the dome. Temperatures inside the Primary Containment, which is sealed by the dome, have not increased and radiation levels have not gone up. Also, surface contamination levels on the fifth floor have not changed. Much of the Japanese Press has exploited the announcement by doubting Tepco’s explanation of the cause, and stating that this is yet another example of an inability to bring the crisis under control. One newspaper, Japan Times, openly suggested the cause might have something to do with “highly lethal mixed uranium-plutonium oxide (MOX) fuel” used by unit #3, some of which is stored in the nearby spent fuel pool. http://www.tepco.co.jp/en/press/corp-com/release/2013/1229064_5130.html — http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2013/07/18/national/steam-seen-in-fukushima-reactor-building/#.UefggevD8dU
- The screening process for nuke restarts has begun. Four utilities, covering nine Pressurized Water Reactor units, have applied for restarts under the new safety regulations that went into effect last week. NRA officials have held formal meetings with utility owners to hear their explanations of how they comply with the new rules. The NRA is explaining the new rules and what they will focus on during inspections. Topics being discussed include protection from tsunami impacts and facilities to act as temporary command centers in case of an accident. On Tuesday morning, the NRA had discussions on Kyushu Electric Power Co.’s Sendai units 1&2 in Kagoshima Prefecture and Hokkaido Electric Power Co.’s Tomari units 1&3 in Hokkaido. Later , the NRA heard about Shikoku Electric Power Co.’s Ikata unit #3 in Ehime Prefecture, plus Takahama units 3&4 and Oi units 3&4 operated by Kansai Electric Power Co. in Fukui Prefecture. The Sendai and Tomari dialogues touched on the nearly 40 active volcanoes on Hokkaido Island. One NRA member commented on the impact of eruptions on the Tomari units, “When looking at the possible effects of volcanic ash, we need to examine various cases, such as what effect volcanic ash and snow could have if they occurred at the same time.” The Ikata units are considered most likely to clear the NRA’s safety checks first because they have less than 30 years of operation and the projected maximum tsunami heights are relatively low. http://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/english/news/20130716_23.html — http://the-japan-news.com/news/article/0000385343
- Tepco briefed local officials on why restarts at the Kashiwazaki-Kariwa station would be safe. On Wednesday, Tepco president Naomi Hirose briefed assemblies in Kariwa Village and Kashiwazaki City, Niigata Prefecture. Tepco has delayed the applications for restart due to fairly severe local opposition claiming the company has ignored their concerns. Hirose explained that the off-shore tsunami barrier has been raised from 3.3 to 6 meters. There is also a 15-meter levee along the shoreline. Hirose added that new back-up emergency cooling systems are being installed, filtered venting systems will be built, and none of the geologic seams under the station have moved within the last 200,000 years. After the meetings, opinions of the local officials remain mixed. One said, “Tepco should submit the applications right away.” Another official said no nuke plants should be restarted until the Fukushima accident is resolved. http://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/english/news/20130717_22.html — http://the-japan-news.com/news/article/0000388660
- Japan Atomic Power Co. has filed its formal complaint against the NRA over the agency’s finding of a seismic fault under the Tsuruga station. Japco says the geologic formation does not qualify as seismic under Japan’s existing criterion. This is the first time a legal administrative appeal has been filed against the NRA. Japco says there is strong evidence that the geologic seam has not moved within the 120,000-130,000 year legal criterion. The complaint is their first step in the process of trying to make the NRA rescind its judgment. The also NRA ordered Japco to file a report on how the Spent Fuel Pool of Tsuruga #2 might be affected by the underlying formation’s seismic movement. Japco says they will comply before the submittal deadline at the end of this month. http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2013/07/16/national/utility-seeks-to-overturn-reactor-ban/#.UeU8BevD8dU
Former PM Naoto Kan is suing present PM Shizo Abe for defamation concerning the Fukushima accident. On March 20, 2011, Abe posted an Email saying Kan was issuing false information concerning the use of seawater to cool unit #1 at F. Daiichi. Kan had taken credit for making Tepco pump seawater into the stricken reactor vessel to quench the overheating condition which caused the fuel to melt. Abe’s Email, entitiled “Mr. Kan’s instructions on using seawater are made-up”, said Kan actually told Tepco to stop using seawater and ordered plant manager Masao Yoshida to cease the operation. Based on this, Abe charged Kan with mismanagement and called for his immediate resignation. Kan has taken umbrage with the Abe Email for more than two years, and has demanded the current PM to delete it. Abe has not complied with Kan’s wishes. Kan maintains Abe used “erroneous” information in the Email and that he must “immediately admit his misconduct, delete the stories and apologize. Abe has ignored my relentless requests to retrieve the posting and apologize. He has left them online even during this Upper House election campaign. His false accusation defames me and harms the credibility of the DPJ and the DPJ government at the time.” PM Abe has declined to comment on the suit’s filing. It is rare for a former PM to take this kind of action against another PM. http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2013/07/16/national/kan-sues-abe-for-311-defamation/#.UeU7fuvD8dU — http://japandailypress.com/ex-japanese-premier-naoto-kan-files-defamation-lawsuit-against-pm-abe-1632429/ comment – Japan Today falsely reported that an independent investigative panel said Kan ordered the seawater to be used as a coolant and he also prevented Tepco from abandoning F. Daiichi. I cannot find any such statements in any of the several independent reports out of Japan. Japan Today should print a retraction, but it is unlikely given their severe antinuclear penchant.