• The “J-Village” used by Tepco as a base of Fukushima operations will return to being a soccer facility. It was used by the Japan Football Association as the training center for the men’s and women’s national soccer teams prior to the nuke accident. The association plans on refurbishing the J-Village for soccer by 2019 so that the teams can train for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. Last year, JFA President Kuniya Daini said that before the accident “generational teams have got a lot of assistance from the J-Village and Fukushima.” He now proposes to “use the J-Village as a training center as it used to be before the nuclear accident.” In addition to the Olympics, the association would also like to have the women’s team train for the 2023 World Cup, which Japan is trying to host. http://www.fukushimaminponews.com/news.html?id=623
  • Takahama unit#4 fuel loading is completed. The insertion of 157 fuel bundles began on Sunday, January 31st, and was finished on February 3rd. Four of the bundles are MOX (Mixed-Oxide), comprised of recycled Uranium and Plutonium. Takahama #4 has not previously used MOX fuel, so it will be the fourth unit in Japan to use reprocessed fuel. In addition, it was announced that Takahama unit#3 reached 100% power on February 4th. http://www.jaif.or.jp/en/fuel-loading-completed-at-takahama-4-npp/ (Comment – Both of these milestones were conspicuously missing from Japan’s popular Press. Only the Japan Atomic Industrial Forum has carried it. Once again, we find that Japan’s Press ignores nuclear events when there is nothing negative to report, or when there are no protesters to exploit.)
  • Some intertidal species populations have dropped south of F. Daiichi since the accident. A new report, authored by Toshihiro Horiguchi and colleagues, found that specific types of shellfish and crustacean populations south of F. Daiichi have declined since 3/11/11. The research team surmises that the cause might be significant “acute or sub-acute, rather than chronic, exposure to Cs-137 and other radionuclides”. The populations lowered closer they got to the accident site. One species of sea snail (Thais clavigera) was entirely absent within a 30 kilometers. While many of the studied species’ populations were affected by the Great East Japan Earthquake and Tsunami all along the northeastern coast, the data from south of F. Daiichi was unique and significant when compared to Chiba, Ibaraki, Miyagi, and Iwate coastlines. The researchers concluded it was unlikely that the quake/tsunami was solely responsible for these changes. They admit their findings stand in contrast to previous studies of benthic communities (worms, corals, bi-valves, and etc.) along the same coastline, and there might be some other reason for the cause of the population shifts they discovered. However, until other studies can prove otherwise, it seems that the acute, elevated exposures to Cs-137 and other radionuclides is currently the best possibility as a cause for the population declines. http://www.nature.com/articles/srep20416#abstract  The only major Japanese news outlet to cover the story was the Yomiuri Shimbun (Japan News). http://the-japan-news.com/news/article/0002732843
  • Voluntary evacuees continue to denounce next year’s end of free housing. Fukushima Prefecture held a meeting on Sunday to explain what will be done to help residents that fled their homes in 2011, purely out of fear. Unlike those from the exclusion zone, they were not ordered to leave by Tokyo. At the meeting attended by ~30 people, the prefecture said that housing subsidies for voluntary evacuees will end on April 1, 2017. However, new measures for moving and rent will be offered. The crowd responded with a barrage of criticism and complaints. One person who moved to Tokyo said the new hand-outs are not going to be enough, “Do they understand the rent in Tokyo?” Yet another said, “It just sounds like the prefectural government wants to make us return to the area as soon as possible and terminate the assistance. Even though the nuclear accident has not yet come to an end, how can they say we should go back there?” Masaaki Matsumoto, chief of the prefectural government’s Evacuees Support Division, said the government will not force evacuees to return home, “The environment in Fukushima is being prepared for people to live in. By setting up the subsidy system, we also responded to those who want to continue their evacuation.” http://ajw.asahi.com/article/0311disaster/fukushima/AJ201602080054  (Comment – The Asahi fails to mention that tens of thousands of Tokyo-mandated evacuees will continue to receive their generous monthly stipends.)