There have been no reports on spent fuel transfer for unit #4 at F. Daiichi in the past three days. So, here’s the other updates from over the weekend…

  • An international team of experts are teaching Fukushima residents about radiation. A two day seminar was held this past weekend in Iwate by the International Commission on Radiological Protection. Some 80 residents attended and provided positive input to the proceedings. Three people from Iwate’s Suetsugi district, 30 kilometers from F. Daiichi, said they use mobile monitors as they move about the town to see how radiation levels change. They also eat locally-grown foods and have themselves regularly scanned for internal radiation levels. The results of their efforts have proved to them that living in their previously-evacuated district is safe. They also said the reason many young people have not returned is because of radiation fears. Another local said the ICRP should incorporate the resident’s opinion into the educational measures to be developed.
  • One elderly couple will spend the rest of their lives in repopulated Kawauchi village. Kinjiro Ide (97) and his wife Toshi (93) have moved back to their home since the living restriction was lifted. During their mandated period of evacuation, they lived with their third son in Tochigi Prefecture. Many former residents of Kawauchi have hesitated to return, but not these two.
  • A new radiation monitor has been developed for babies. University of Tokyo and Canberra Japan have collaborated on the device to measure internal radiation levels in pre-standing/walking infants. The free examinations, called “baby scans” begin today at Hirata Central Hospital in Fukushima Prefecture. The scanner allows babies to be lying down during the examination. Previously, infants were tested while being held by a parent, leading to criticisms that the results were in error. With prior technology, people had to be standing while the scanner examined them.
  • A former Fukushima prison inmate is suing the Tokyo Electric Company. The un-named inmate’s filing says her life in prison was profoundly affected by the nuke accident causing prolonged emotional grief and agony. She had requested to be shifted to another facility further from F. Daiichi, but was refused. In addition, fear of radiation allegedly forced her to cancel plans to be a mother for fear a child would be born with birth defects. She is demanding $30,000 in damages. She has served her three years in prison and is now free.
  • The Yomiuri Shimbun says Tokyo must quickly designate a site for high-level nuclear waste disposal. Currently, candidate sites are sought by voluntary petition, but no community has consented to the open solicitation that began in 2002. The Mayor of Toyo, Kochi Prefecture, applied to host a candidate site but fierce local opposition threatened to force his resignation so the application was withdrawn. The Yomiuri, Japan’s largest newspaper, wants the government to follow the policy used by Sweden and designate candidate sites unilaterally. Sweden has successfully chosen their location using this method. Japan wants to recycle spent nuclear fuels and reclaim the 95% that can be used in new fuel bundles. The remaining 5% can be encapsulated and buried in deep geological formations. Popular beliefs hold that the waste isotopes must be isolated for 100,000 years, but the fact is that the radiation levels drop more than 99% in less than 1,000 years. The Yomiuri says the problem with the open solicitation policy is little public understanding of the realities of nuclear waste and the extreme safety of the technologies involved. The urgency in making the decision has been amplified by former PM Koizumi’s recent public statement that all idled nukes should never be restarted because it is “too optimistic and irresponsible” to assume that an acceptable site will be found in the future.
  • PM Shinzo Abe says Tokyo will work to speed up housing construction for Tsunami refugees. He added that an increased effort will also be extended to Fukushima evacuees. “I would like to help speed up construction of private homes and public housing for evacuees,” Abe told reporters during his visit to Kamaishi, Iwate Prefecture. It was his third trip to the prefecture, one of the hardest hit along the Tohoku coast. Abe was also told by teachers that pre-disaster education kept the loss of children’s lives to a minimum. The PM said, “I have become aware of the importance of education on disaster prevention. I want to promote this experience nationwide.” In the linked article, we find that Fukushima Prefecture had 1,599 deaths due to the tsunami, and the number of evacuees who have died due to disease during the prolonged evacuation period is 1,539.
  • One of the flow-paths through the new wastewater clean-up system at F. Daiichi was stopped Sunday. The reason was a chemical leak from a pipe joint on the Advanced Liquid Processing System. Acid was seeping from a connection and captured in a vinyl bag, but stopped when the sub-system was shut off. The bag held about a liter of the acidic liquid. The acid is used to neutralize the alkaline water coming out of the isotopic removal process. Two of the three ALPS flow-paths have been operating in a test condition since mid-November. Now there is but one undergoing the testing. There is no word on when the second system is expected to resume its flow test.