• More than 100,000 Fukushima residents remain displaced from their homes. The NHK World news article says the nuke accident “forced them to flee”. (Aside – some 75,000 were subject to Tokyo’s evacuation edict, and perhaps an equal number also fled because of low-level radiation fears. The NHK article neglects to point out that about 30,000 of the current refugees are voluntaries. – End aside.) Three of the nine municipalities that remain under the government evacuation order expect to re-open in the spring: the last part of Minamisoma City, Kawamata Town, and Katsurao Village. If past response to lifting evacuation orders continues to hold, only a small fraction of the populations will initially return. http://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/english/news/nuclear.html (Comment – NHK says that less than 5% of Naraha Town “have so far returned”. However, last Thursday we reported that more than 10% of Naraha’s pre-accident population has actually returned. [Japan Times] This sort of shoddy reporting is becoming rather routine for NHK, where-as most of its articles over the previous four-plus years were just the opposite. Is NHK succumbing to the antinuclear agenda common to most of Japan’s popular Press?)
  • More than 80% of America’s nukes are licensed for 60 years. This is a message of importance to the Tokyo government, their Nuclear Regulation Authority, the Japanese Press, and (most of all) to the people of Japan. The initial 40 year operating licenses on American nukes were not based on the design lifetime of the power plant. Rather, it was officially set relative to the time it would take to amortize the investment in construction and operation. Of the 99 operating American nuclear units, 81 have had their licenses extended to 60 years. The US NRC is currently preparing “guidance documents” for an additional 20 year licensing extension. This will make it possible for US nukes to operate for 80 years. The first expected application for the additional 20 year extension is Dominion Virginia Power’s Surry plant in 2019. http://www.world-nuclear-news.org/RS-NRC-drafts-guidance-for-80-year-lives-2112157.html (Comment – Japan’s commonly-held assumption that nukes wear out after 40 years is unfounded. Nuclear plants are a low-corrosion system, and operate with essentially no abrasives. However, fossil-fueled systems are naturally a highly corrosive and abrasive operating environment. Japan’s 40-year limit comes directly from American regulatory practices, as does the 20-year extension. Tokyo and the NRA ought to be emphasizing these facts with Japan’ Press, but that does not seem to be happening.)