• Radiation exposures in and around the exclusion zone have dropped at least 65% since 2011. The Nuclear Regulation Authority has posted its latest data taken from aerial surveys run in September, 2015. The readings were taken by helicopter with its detection probe at about one meter above the ground. The radiation levels have dropped even more over the past six months. The NRA says 53% of the decline in outdoor area exposures has been due to radioactive decay, and the rest from decontamination efforts. In addition, the “belt” of relatively high (>19 microsieverts per hour) estimated exposures extending northwest of F. Daiichi has shrunk to nearly nothing. In the 19 µSv/hr locations, a person staying outdoors 24 hours per day for a full year would receive about 100 millisieverts of exposure. http://www.fukushimaminponews.com/news.html?id=627
  • Nearly 90% of Fukushima consumers buy mostly prefecture-grown foods. The Fukushima Prefecture Liaison Council of Consumer Organizations has been running an annual survey since 2012 to assess the impact of negative rumors on prefecture foods following the nuke accident. The 2015 survey showed a nearly 10% improvement versus 2014. The council says the significant gain was probably due to the stringent monitoring of radioactive content with Fukushima-grown foodstuffs. http://www.fukushimaminponews.com/news.html?id=626
  • The on-again, off-again Ice Wall operation is probably on-again. Tepco and the NRA had agreed, in principle, to begin freezing the 1.5 kilometer-long ice wall in stages. The recent hold-up concerned the part of the wall to be frozen first. Tepco wanted to begin by freezing the “upstream” section first; facing inland. The NRA feared this would cause groundwater outside the four contaminated basements to drop below the levels inside the buildings, resulting in a significant out-flow of radioactive water with potentially harmful consequences. The NRA wanted the “downstream” side, facing the shoreline, frozen first. Tepco finally agreed to the NRA’s wishes. Official approval of the new Tepco plan is pending because the NRA says they still have points to clarify.  http://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/english/news/nuclear.htmlhttp://jen.jiji.com/jc/eng?g=eco&k=2016021500541http://ajw.asahi.com/article/0311disaster/fukushima/AJ201602150062
  • The government has procured less than 1% of the land designated for interim rural waste disposal. The large amount of paperwork and limited manpower are cited as reasons why so little has been accomplished during the past year. More than 2,500 individuals own the properties in Futaba and Okuma intended for the 30-year facility. About 10% of the properties are owned by people who have yet to be located. To date, only 44 contracts with landowners have been finalized. During the eleven months since the project opened, about 36,000 cubic meters of the bagged trash has been moved to the storage location. http://ajw.asahi.com/article/0311disaster/fukushima/AJ201602140022
  • Another 2011-level quake/tsunami will not cause a severe accident at F. Daiichi. Plant Manager Akira Ono briefed the news media on Feb. 10th concerning the possibility of another massive radioactive release. He said, “If a major earthquake hits and then a tsunami comes again, that would be the most tense moment for us. But we will not fall into similar confusion like before.” Ono explained that none of the reactors have operated for five years, so there could be no meltdowns. Plus, cooling water systems for the damaged cores have been greatly improved. Further, the protective barriers surrounding the station have been built to withstand a 15-meter tsunami; the size of the one that caused the nuke accident. Ono also said, “I feel like we have just climbed over the first stage of a mountain.” http://www.japantoday.com/category/national/view/fukushima-daiichi-plant-chief-confident-new-disaster-wont-threaten-clean-up?utm_campaign=jt_newsletter&utm_medium=email&utm_source=jt_newsletter_2016-02-12_PM
  • The Environment Minister retracts her “unscientific” statement about the 1mSv/year decontamination goal. Minister Tamayo Marukawa made her retraction after reading a memorandum of her February 7th speech in Nagano Prefecture. In the speech, she said the former government regime had “decided [on the 1 mSv goal] by the then environment minister “without any scientific grounds”. This past Friday, she decided to “retract the remark in order to maintain a relationship of trust with residents in Fukushima. I would like to extend my sincere apologies once again to disaster victims, including those in Fukushima.” She added that the 1 mSv goal was “indeed scientific in the sense that it was set as a result of thorough discussions by scientists,” and “The government will work together to achieve that goal.” The minister says she has no intention of stepping down from her job as a result of this issue. http://ajw.asahi.com/article/behind_news/politics/AJ201602130023http://mainichi.jp/english/articles/20160213/p2a/00m/0na/008000c
  • Tsunami debris remains on the ocean floor because of radiation fears. Fukushima fisheries want to fully open their fishing grounds between 10 and 20 kilometers from F. Daiichi. But first, they have to remove the tsunami-deposited debris from the seabed that will foul their nets. A Soma Fisheries official said, “Unless the debris is removed, fishing nets may be caught and the risk of accidents will rise.” Not being able to dispose of the material has put the plans on hold. Another official said, “Even if we pull debris out of the water, it’s not easy to find a place for it.” Over 35,000 tons have been removed outside the 20 kilometer radius. The fisheries say they will pay for the trash removal, but Fukushima Prefecture says there are no municipalities that will agree with land disposal. Part of the problem is the nearest ports to the area are still under post-tsunami repairs, but the main issue is resident’s fears that the debris could possibly be radioactive. http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2016/02/15/national/five-years-on-tsunami-debris-on-ocean-floor-near-fukushima-nuclear-plant-remains-untouched/#.VsHJY5Bf0dV
  • Nearly half of Japan’s public wants the number of reactors reduced. NHK World ran a survey in December and found that 49% want reliance on nuclear energy lowered, 26% said they were comfortable with the current level, and 26% said all reactors should be scrapped. On the issue of nuclear waste disposal, 52% said it is very important, 35% said they care about it, 10% said they don’t think about it much, and 2% said they give it no consideration. http://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/english/news/nuclear.html
  • 21 groups of plaintiffs suing Tokyo and Tepco have formally united. They all await court decisions on their demands for greater nuke accident compensation. Their association’s first order of business is to share information and seek extension of free public housing for voluntary evacuees. The group’s lead representatives say they should get more compensation because their right to live in their hometowns has been violated. Further, they believe that there will be no restoration [repopulation and recovery] without full voluntary evacuee support. Co-organizer Akiko Morimatsu, a voluntary evacuee from Koriyama City who is living in Osaka, commented, “By coming together and transcending the differences in our circumstances, such as whether or not we evacuated (from Fukushima Prefecture), as well as the location of our evacuation, we plan to make our appeals known widely throughout society.” http://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/english/news/nuclear.htmlhttp://mainichi.jp/english/articles/20160215/p2a/00m/0na/019000c
  • One of the first international Fukushima Fifth Anniversary articles says the station recovery is not going well. Although initially covering recent Tepco statements on the status of the recovery effort, the main body of the report rues the continuing evacuation mandates by Tokyo, the continual buildup of purified waste waters containing only biologically innocuous Tritium, the NRA’s recent stoppage of the ice wall around the four damaged F. Daiichi units, and the on-going issues surrounding the disposal of radioactive waste from rural low-level decontamination debris and high level used (spent) fuel. The article closes with Japan’s leading antinuke, Hideyuki Ban of the Citizen’s Nuclear Information Center, decrying the notion of burying nuclear waste far out to sea, “At some point it would leak and affect the environment. Some say it’ll be fine, as it will be diluted in the ocean, but it’s unclear whether it will be diluted well. If it gets into fish, it could end up on someone’s table.” https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/asia_pacific/five-years-after-nuclear-meltdown-no-one-knows-what-to-do-with-fukushima/2016/02/10/a9682194-c9dc-11e5-b9ab-26591104bb19_story.html