- The removal of spent fuel from unit #4 pool resumed on September 4th. The operation was suspended for the summer to perform scheduled maintenance on the ceiling (polar) crane. Regular listings of the removal should restart next week.
- Seven of the oldest nukes in Japan might be decommissioned. It is suspected that Tokyo will ask the four potentially affected utilities to submit plans for dealing with the seven units as early as October. The seven units are Mihama #1 and #2, Takahama #1 and #2 (all 4 owned by Kansai Electric Co.), Shimane #1 (Chugoku Electric), Genkai #1 (Kyushu Electric), and Tsuruga #1 (Japan Atomic). All will be at least 40 years old by the end of 2015. Tokyo is working on measures to ease the four company’s financial burdens imposed by the expected government request. The current licensing limit is 40 years, but can be extended for another 20 years if certain conditions are met. Tokyo has asked those wishing to apply for extensions should do so by July, 2015. http://the-japan-news.com/news/article/0001550139
- New Industry Minister Yuko Obuchi is expected to support reactor restarts. The mother of two children, Obuchi is hoped to sway the nuclear-skeptical public in a positive direction. She said, “I, too, am raising children. If people say they are worried, I think it is only natural. If you are a mother, I think it is a kind of feeling that everyone has. The central government must offer a full explanation to these sentiments.” At her inaugural news conference, Obuchi said her policy will be “to reduce our reliance on nuclear plants by actively introducing renewable energy and thorough energy saving. We will restart (nuclear power plants) by making safety our priority.” Greenpeace’s Kazue Suzuki calls the appointment “a cunning move” because Obuchi’s motherhood could make restarts seem credible to worried parents. Suzuki believes the female demographic will not be fooled, “When (Obuchi) makes decisions, she should consider the reaction of ordinary women, the majority of whom do not want nuclear power stations reactivated.” On the other hand, Political Science Professor Junichi Takase of Nagoya University says Obuchi is fully qualified for the job and “Japanese people are no fools, and they know there will be no change in the safety of nuclear plants just because the minister changes. At this point [Abe has] no intention to use her politically to make the restart of nuclear reactors easier.” http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2014/09/06/national/politics-diplomacy/ldp-star-lead-nuclear-debate/#.VAx1t6N0wdV
- Local governments remain cautious about nuke restarts. NHK has polled 146 prefectures and municipalities within 30 kilometers of nuke stations, asking if they would approve restarts of units meeting the new safety regulations. Twelve percent said they would, 8% said they would not, and 67% said they were undecided. Specifically, 44% of the communities actually hosting nukes responded in the affirmative while only 8% of the surrounding municipalities said they favored restarts. Reasons for caution include NRA inspections not being complete, local resident skepticism of the new rules, and suspicions that Tokyo has not fully embraced nuclear safety. One Tokyo University professor says Tokyo should fully explain the safety of nuclear plants and measures taken to avoid accidents, otherwise local approval might not occur. NHK World; Local governments wary of nuclear plant restart; 9/8/14
- A new report says Pacific Coast contamination from Fukushima is harmless. University of California/Berkeley professor Eric Norman had his students test San Francisco Bay area rainwater over the weeks following 3/11/11. The results were not alarming, “The levels we saw were detectable, but low and not a health hazard to anyone.” However, subsequent scary reports of dangerous West Coast radiation levels made him curious, “I don’t know where they got the numbers, but they were claiming very high numbers that were causing health effects on people especially children.” Last year, he and his students ran tests on fish, plants, milk, seawater, and salt, both in the ocean and along the coast. They found detectible levels of Cesium isotopes, but well below anything to be concerned about. Norman explained why the concentrations are so low, “We’re a long way from Japan and there’s a lot of water in the Pacific. Whatever gets dumped in the ocean will get diluted by enormous factors.” He added that his home-grown grapes showed trace Fukushima isotopes in 2011, but none now. http://phys.org/news/2014-09-fukushima-coastal-areas.html
Tepco has posted a handout which details the status of barricading groundwater flow at F. Daiichi. The shoreline between the four damaged units has been effectively sealed by soil-solidification. The sampling wells between the barricading and the sea show all isotopic concentrations well-below Japan’s legal limits for releases to the sea. The soil-solidification project between units 1 and 2 was completed March 25th; between units 2 and 3 was finished February 6th; and, between units 3 and 4 completed on March 5th. http://www.tepco.co.jp/en/nu/fukushima-np/handouts/2014/images/handouts_140905_03-e.pdf — http://www.tepco.co.jp/en/nu/fukushima-np/f1/smp/2014/images/2tb-east_14090801-e.pdf