• The IAEA lauds Japan’s Nuclear Regulation Authority for “fast progress”. An International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) team says the NRA has demonstrated independence and transparency since it was set up in 2012, yet should upgrade its technical competence to simplify nuclear restarts. Team leader Philippe Jamet said, “In the few years since its establishment, the NRA has demonstrated its independence and transparency. It has established new regulatory requirements for nuclear installations and reviewed the first restart applications by utilities. This intensive and impressive work must continue with equal commitment, as there are still significant challenges in the years to come.” The team comprised 19 experts from 17 countries – Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, the Czech Republic, Finland, France, Ireland, the Republic of Korea, the Russian Federation, Slovenia, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, the United Kingdom and the United States of America. The NRA’s two most impressive successes were the swift creation of a legal framework for increased regulatory powers, and prompt incorporation of lessons learned from the Fukushima accident. Suggested areas of improvement include the staff upgrades, Tokyo amending legislation to allow the NRA to improve safety inspections, and the continuation of developing a safety culture. https://www.iaea.org/newscenter/pressreleases/iaea-mission-says-japan%E2%80%99s-regulatory-body-made-fast-progress-sees-challenges-ahead Unfortunately, Japan’s largely-antinuclear Press ignored the IAEA findings. I have seen only two articles. Kyodo News focused mainly on the IAEA suggestions for improvement and ignored the areas worthy of praise. On the other hand, NHK World provided a semblance of objectivity. Regardless, once again another nuclear “good news” story gets snubbed. http://english.kyodonews.jp/news/2016/01/394024.htmlhttp://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/english/news/20160122_22.html
  • Japan studies placing limits on nuclear accident compensation. The Japan Atomic Energy Commission is debating the compensation issue. Current laws force owners of damaged nukes to bear unlimited liability, which has resulted in more than $60 billion having already paid out to the 75,000 people that Tokyo ordered to evacuate. (Aside – 48% of the pay-outs have been direct, individual compensation, averaging just under $10,000 per month for every man, woman and child. In addition, business and property compensation accounts for 52% of the total. – End aside) The JAEC discussions are difficult because not all members agree to setting a limit, although other countries have set rather firm compensation parameters. For example, the United States sets the maximum at $12.6 billion; any more would literally take an act of congress. http://jen.jiji.com/jc/eng?g=eco&k=2016012300254http://jen.jiji.com/jc/eng?g=eco&k=2016012300254
  • A recent scientific study suggests that all Cesium contamination came from Fukushima’s core meltdowns, and not the fuel pools. The research group gathered rice, soil, mushroom, and soybean samples more than 100 kilometers from F. Daiichi were analyzed and found to favorably compare with pre-existent data. The “correlation plots” comparing concentrations of the several isotopes of Cesium, show that it all came from the damaged cores of units 1, 2, &3. There was no evidence of any Cesium coming from spent fuel pools, which would have caused different “plots”. http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/rcm.7468/abstract
  • The restart of Takahama unit #3 is scheduled for January 29th. Later that day, it is expected the unit will achieve initial criticality and begin generating electricity four days later. Approximately 15% of the core is recycled Mixed Oxide fuel (MOX). This will be the first restart of a reactor containing a portion of the fuel load containing a reprocessed mixture Uranium and Plutonium from used bundles. Owner Kansai Electric Co. says Unit #4 is scheduled to begin loading fuel the following Sunday, January 31st. http://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/english/news/nuclear.htmlhttp://www.japantoday.com/category/national/view/japan-to-restart-another-nuclear-reactor-jan-29-1st-on-mox-fuel
  • Shiga Prefecture signs a nuke safety accord with Kansai Electric. Restart approval must be gleaned from the host community and prefecture. Tokyo says emergency plans must be approved covering a 30km radius from a nuke station. Shiga has been politicking to be included in the Takahama restart decision because a small part of it is located within the 30km emergency planning zone. The new accord says Kansai Electric must immediately report emergency situations, compensate the prefecture for damages in the event of an accident, report plans to transport nuclear waste, and participate in Shiga Prefecture’s emergency planning. However, Kansai Electric did not agree to allow Shiga participation in restart negotiations. Though reluctant to sign the agreement, Shiga Gov. Taizo Mikazuki said the accord marked “progress” in fulfilling the prefecture’s responsibility to ensure the safety of its citizens. http://mainichi.jp/english/articles/20160125/p2g/00m/0dm/083000c
  • Japan begins defining scientifically “suitable” standards for high level waste disposal sites. Japan’s Agency for Natural Resources and Energy (ANRE) began inviting opinions from specialists and experts on January 20th. The ANRE working group addresses several matters including the effects of natural phenomena, facility safety, and safety of material transportation; all from a “geo-scientific” perspective. ANRE wants to provide information to organizations, scientific societies, scholars, and other experts, contributing to a shared recognition. They will accept responsible opinions through April 19th, then make presentations to the relevant scientific groups. http://www.jaif.or.jp/en/anre-invites-comments-on-requirements-and-standards-for-scientifically-promising-sites-for-hlw-final-disposal/
  • 400 Nagasaki residents tell Fukushima citizens they should fear low level radiation. 79 year-old Chiyoko Iwanaga was more than 10 kilometers from the atomic bomb blast at Nagasaki in 1945. She has never qualified for government compensation because of her distant location from the explosion’s epicenter. She and 400 other Nagasaki residents filed suit to be included in the “Hibakusha” (A-bomb survivors) to get government subsidies, but their suit was rejected on March 11, 2011 – the same day as the Great East Japan Earthquake and Tsunami. “We lost the trial and appealed but everyone has had their own issues to confront,” said Iwanaga. All former plaintiffs believe they have suffered radiation-related maladies over the past 70 years. Now, they are sending letters to a church in Minamisoma to explain why they feel low level radiation exposure is dangerous. Iwanaga and her compatriots believe that the government ignores the effects of internal exposure from ingested isotopes, and want to make the frightened demographic of Minamisoma aware of their fears. She says, “There are people in Nagasaki who were not only directly exposed to radiation but also people who received low doses of radiation. We wanted to tell people (in Fukushima) about the type of sicknesses of those who had low-dose radiation.” Kazue Kobayashi helps distribute the Nagasaki letters to Fukushima evacuees living in temporary housing, and says, “These are the people of Nagasaki who suffered from radiation, which has no color or odor, so they understand the hardships we face.” http://www.japantoday.com/category/national/view/letters-from-nagasaki-build-bonds-5-years-after-fukushima-disaster?utm_campaign=jt_newsletter&utm_medium=email&utm_source=jt_newsletter_2016-01-23_PM  [Comment – The letters are being shared with evacuees who have not returned home and are most likely to have phobic fears of low level radiation exposure. Apparently, those who have returned home, especially in Minamisoma City, are considered unsuitable for the distribution. The notion that internal exposures are not officially considered by Tokyo is a fabrication fomented by unscrupulous foreign prophets of doom – e.g. Helen Caldicott of Australia, Chris Busby & Ian Fairlie of Britain, and Arnie Gundersen of America – who financially profit on provoking unwarranted fear of innocuous levels of low level radiation exposure.]