• No Fukushima contamination is found in Canadian salmon and steelhead trout. Fukushima InFORM has completed highly-sensitive analyses on 156 fish caught off the west coast of Canada last summer. Cesium-137 was detected in only seven of the fish, but this was the result of post-WWII nuclear weapons testing in the South Pacific. No Cs-134, the “marker” for F. Daiichi contamination, was detected. The seven fish with Cs-137 had levels much less than one Becquerel per kilogram. The data produced in 2015 almost exactly parallels what was found in 2014 by the Victoria University-based research group. InFORM concludes, “What this means is that radioactivity from the Fukushima meltdowns has not been detected in the InFORM fish samples caught in BC waters as of summer 2015.” It should be noted that the fish species tested are an important food source to First Nation Canadians and numerous animal species. Commercial, recreational, and First Nation salmon fisheries produce about $600 million in revenues, last year. http://fukushimainform.ca/2016/02/23/update-inform-monitoring-results-for-pacific-salmon-collected-summer-2015/
  • Tepco will soon relax protective gear requirements for 90% of F. Daiichi station. The tentative start of the process will be early March. This means workers will no longer need to wear protective clothing or gloves, making their tasks much easier to perform. This does not mean that all workers in the designated areas will immediately stop using protective clothing. The new policy will be executed in stages. Currently, workers must don full anti-contamination gear and two pairs of gloves for most jobs. Decontamination work, including paving-over much of the outer surfaces, is cited as the main reason for the change. Areas inside and adjacent to the damaged units’ buildings, and tanks containing highly radioactive waters, will continue to require full anti-Cs. http://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/en/news/20160225_02/
  • Lawson’s will be opening a convenience store at F. Daiichi. Tepco had asked major convenience store companies to do this as part of the effort to improve conditions for the workers, who regularly number more than 7,000 per day. Lawson built a “rest house” near the station’s front gate last year. Beginning March 1st, regular groceries may be purchased in-store, but not alcoholic beverages or prepared foods, such as fried chicken.  http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2016/02/24/business/lawson-open-store-crippled-fukushima-no-1-nuclear-plant/#.Vs32pJBf0dV
  • The Fukushima governor is dismayed by South Korea’s food ban. Governor Masao Uchibori had planned an event in Seoul this weekend to promote Tohoku food exports. But, the Foreign Ministry cancelled the trip because they could not get approval from authorities in Seoul due to radiation fears. At a Tokyo new conference, Uchibori said, “I’m dismayed by this…I know that it will take time to eliminate the unfavorable reputation in other countries.” Seoul says the inability to give permission for the event is because foodstuffs are not allowed to be imported from Fukushima, Miyagi, and Aomori Prefectures, and the event would violate the rule. http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2016/02/23/national/fukushima-governor-disappointed-seoul-event-cancellation/#.VsxVBZBf0dVhttp://english.kyodonews.jp/news/2016/02/398833.html
  • Tepco says they should have declared meltdown’s at F. Daiichi on March 14, 2011. A Tepco official said, “We could have concluded as of March 14 that core meltdown occurred [with units #1&#3].” Their formal declaration did not occur until May, 2011, spurring widespread allegations of cover-up. The company’s internal operations manual stipulated that confirmation of 5% core damage constitutes a meltdown. The criterion was overlooked in the chaos following the onset of the accident. It was March 14th when key sensors on the two reactors were repowered. At that point, 55% core damage for unit #1 and 30% for unit #3 were indicated. The recent discovery was because a Niigata governmental panel asked Tepco to look through its operation’s manuals. During this review, the 5% core-damage criterion was discovered. Niigata Governor Hirohiko Izumida said “it is highly regrettable” that the disclosure of meltdowns was not disclosed sooner, and said Tepco must have known the definition all-along. Tepco wants to restart some of the seven units at Kashiwazaki-Kariwa station in Niigata Prefecture, but this admission could hurt their chances. The company says they will begin a full in-house investigation on the issue. http://asia.nikkei.com/Business/Companies/TEPCO-could-have-determined-core-meltdown-at-Fukushima-plant-earlierhttp://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/en/news/20160224_33/
  • Takahama units #1&2 have their operating licenses extended, in principle. These are the only Japanese nukes to have been screened for extensions before the July 7, 2016, deadline. The Nuclear Regulation Authority decision on the matter came after eleven months of deliberation. The amended Law on the Regulation of Nuclear Source Material, Nuclear Fuel Material and Reactors stipulates that units more than 40 years old may be granted one 20-year extension as long as they meet the post-Fukushima regulations. For the next 30 days, the NRA will accept public comment on their decision, adding any revisions to the draft declaration that are deemed necessary by the agency. When Kansai Electric submitted for the extensions last March, the NRA prioritized them in order to be able to meet the regulatory deadline. http://the-japan-news.com/news/article/0002769634
  • Takahama unit #4 will be restarted on Friday. Kansai Electric Company says the first sequential withdrawal of 32 control rods will begin at 5pm (Japan time), and initial criticality should be attained at 6am Saturday. The first trickle of electrical generation is anticipated for Monday, and commercial operation declared by the end of March. In addition, Takahama unit #3 is expected to declare commercial operation on Friday afternoon, before the start-up process begins on unit #4. http://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/en/news/20160225_35/http://jen.jiji.com/jc/eng?g=eco
  • The Mainichi Shimbun says the Takahama license extensions are a “brushing aside” the 40-year rule. In fact, the popular Tokyo-based newspaper says, “The 40-year rule appears destined to be watered down”. Time-worn allegations of the NRA moving too fast and showing lack of appropriate caution, fill two editorials. The Mainichi infers the reason behind the extension is Tokyo’s desire to eventually have 20% of the nation’s electricity from nukes. The Mainichi says that the 40-year rule was based on “precedents in the United States”, which is misleading. In almost all cases, US units that have reached the 40-year initial licensing point have been renewed for 20 more years, and several have even been granted a second 20-year extension. In America, scrapping a nuke after 40 years is the exception, and not the rule. http://mainichi.jp/english/articles/20160224/p2a/00m/0na/017000chttp://mainichi.jp/english/articles/20160225/p2a/00m/0na/017000c
  • Some voluntary evacuee mothers are paying the price for their radiophobia. A woman who fled from Tamura with her two children is being divorced by her husband because she refuses to return to their home. The woman says she “could not trust the data released by the central government. I believed I could protect the health of my children. But my family has collapsed.” Another mother who moved to Koriyama from the Fukushima coast refuses to let her daughter eat school-provided foods because much of it is produced in the prefecture. She is not alone. A Chukyo University researcher found that some 30% of mothers in Fukushima Prefecture avoid Fukushima-produced foods. The constantly-lowering radiation levels over the past five years make no difference. http://ajw.asahi.com/article/0311disaster/fukushima/AJ201602230068