• Washington Post says we can rest easy about Pacific seafood. The Post article summarizes a report published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences in late January. Lead author of the PNAS report, Hiroshi Okamura, said Fukushima-contaminated foods get the public’s attention which causes “Some people cry not to eat seafoods and other people argue many foods are not dangerous.” This is due to conflicting reports based on virtually the same scientific data. Thus, the lay public does not know who or what to believe. Further, most analyzed biological species have no detectible contamination, but to some this doesn’t guarantee the levels are zero. Thus, the PNAS report researchers “were careful not to say whether seafoods are safe or dangerous while writing our paper,” but rather post the probability a contamination for each species of biota and let the public decide the level of relative safety in each case. However, the report does say the risk of contamination of seafood is tiny and will probably never reach a concentration that exceeds Japan’s ridiculously low limits. It should be mentioned that the PNAS report includes the following sidebar, “Quantification of contamination risk caused by radioisotopes released from the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant is useful for excluding or reducing groundless rumors about food safety. Our new statistical approach made it possible to evaluate the risk for aquatic food and showed that the present contamination levels of radiocesiums are low overall.”  https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/energy-environment/wp/2016/02/29/with-fukushimas-fifth-anniversary-approaching-we-can-probably-start-to-relax-about-radioactive-seafood/http://www.pnas.org/content/early/2016/02/23/1519792113.full.pdf
  • F. Daiichi “fencepost” exposure will drop below the target level by April 1st. Tepco calculated the approximate date when the exposure level at the station boundary would dip below the one millisievert per year goal. It seems that this “fencepost dose” will be at about 0.96 mSv/yr by March 31st. Tepco made this announcement on February 25th, but none of the Japanese Press mentioned it. Only Fukushima Minpo, the weekly newspaper circulated primarily within the prefecture, has posted it. http://www.fukushimaminponews.com/news.html?id=636
  • Tepco’s “ice wall” is approved for operation… in part. The Nuclear Regulation Authority has been dragging its feet on issuing the formal go-ahead based on concerns that sudden changes in groundwater level might cause a radiological emergency. The first stage of the plan – freezing the soil down to 30 meters on the seaward side of the four damaged units – has been approved in-principle by the NRA. It seems each stage of Tepco’s plan to freeze the earth around the entirety of units #1 through #4 must receive individual approval before implementation. http://jen.jiji.com/jc/eng?g=eco&k=2016030300685
  • Lawson’s has opened its convenience store at F. Daiichi. The ~650 ft2 store is located on the second floor of the spacious F. Daiichi worker rest facility. It will offer hot and cold drinks, rice balls, sandwiches, dessert pastries, ice cream, pre-packaged boxed meals, and some personal necessities like underwear. Lawson’s says they will expand the fare depending on worker’s requests. The store will be open Monday through Saturday, 6am to 7pm. Plant workers wanted a convenience store on-site because the nearest one to F. Daiichi was more than 10 kilometers away. Plant Manager Akira Ono said, “…milestones like this are especially important. They reward our workers for the progress they are making, and they reassure the public that things are steadily improving.” http://www.tepco.co.jp/en/press/corp-com/release/2016/1268295_7763.htmlhttp://the-japan-news.com/news/article/0002783619http://mainichi.jp/english/articles/20160302/p2a/00m/0na/005000cmhttp://jen.jiji.com/jc/eng?g=eco&k=2016030101028  (Comment – Unlike the vast majority of “good news” items being ignored by the clearly-antinuclear Japanese Press, this one was widely disseminated.)
  • The Takahama #4 SCRAM was probably caused by an electrical current fluctuation. The plant’s turbine generator had just begun producing the first trickle of electricity, when the current fluctuation occurred and tripped the automatic shutdown circuitry. Whether the power fluctuation actually occurred or the detection device malfunctioned, is being investigated. Other monitoring devices, in parallel with the one causing the shutdown, were not triggered. Kansai Electric Co. says they will not restart unit #4 until the cause of the problem is fully understood and reported to the Nuclear Regulation Authority. The unit was brought into cold shutdown today (Thursday). http://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/en/news/20160301_08/http://english.kyodonews.jp/news/2016/03/399990.htmlhttp://english.kyodonews.jp/news/2016/03/400235.html
  • The head of the NRA blasts Tepco and Kansai Electric. Chairman Shunichi Tanaka slammed Tepco over their recent report of the meltdown criterion in their corporate emergency manual being overlooked during the first two months after the onset of the nuke accident. Tanaka said, “It represents the corporate culture of TEPCO that has remained unchanged since before the nuclear accident.” He explained that it took five years for Tepco’s home office to discover the error, which shows the company has learned little from the accident. At the same Press conference, Tanaka also blasted Kansai Electric Company over the recent SCRAM caused by a current surge in the generator output during startup of Takahama unit #4, “I had told the utility that being free from any trouble would lead to regaining public confidence. The accident has betrayed such expectations…” http://mainichi.jp/english/articles/20160303/p2a/00m/0na/008000c
  • The Japanese Press claims that restarts have been “too hasty”. Opportunistic news media and antinuclear activists are using essentially minor mishaps associated with one Sendai unit and the Takahama #4 plant to make this speculation. Jiji Press says, “…concerns have grown that the country’s atomic authorities and power suppliers have been too hasty in putting idled reactors back into operation.” Hideyuki Ban of Tokyo’s antinuclear Citizens’ Nuclear Information Center said, “Kansai Electric was so hasty in resuming nuclear power generation that it skipped thorough inspections of the reactor before its restart.” Ban added that a complete overhaul of all nuclear facilities is “absolutely necessary”. In addition, he alleged that the NRA is incompetent because it failed “to look closely at [the] facilities and equipment.”  http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2016/03/01/national/science-health/japan-hit-hasty-bid-restart-reactors-problems-safety-fears-surge/#.VtWEgpBf0dVhttp://ajw.asahi.com/article/behind_news/social_affairs/AJ201603010066http://jen.jiji.com/jc/eng?g=eco&k=2016022900941
  • The NRA seems prepared to stop Shika unit #1 restart over a seismic issue. The investigative panel says it is possible that a geological seam under unit #1 may have moved between 120,000 and 130,000 years ago, which qualifies as “active” under Japan’s new nuke regulations. Owner Hokuriku Electric Co. says the NRA is wrong and will submit a restart application, nonetheless. Two other geological seams are quite deep and run under unit #2, which has been submitted for restart by the utility. Seismic upgrades could further delay restart of Shika unit #2. http://the-japan-news.com/news/article/0002787506http://jen.jiji.com/jc/eng?g=eco&k=2016030300667
  • Tokyo protestors claim Tokyo is ignoring the opinions and safety concerns about Fukushima radiation.  Nearly 800 people gathered at Hibiya Park on Wednesday to vent their anger over opening portions of the old exclusion zone for repopulation. The demonstration was organized by the new Fukushima plaintiffs group, called Hidanren. They were joined by Fukushima evacuees who have relocated to Tokyo. Before the rally, the Hidanren submitted a letter addressed to PM Shinzo Abe demanding a retraction of all policies that “abandon nuclear victims”. This was directed at last year’s announcement of Tokyo cutting off subsidies to voluntary evacuees who fled only because they fear low level radiation. Hinanren spokesperson Kenichi Hasegawa said, “I felt outrage. Let’s raise our voices and stand up against them together.” Voluntary evacuee Miyako Kumamoto said, “It is wrong for the central government to say ‘return home’… even though its own declaration of an emergency situation for the nuclear accident remains in place.” She added that the levels of radiation around her home in Tamura would have her living in fear if she returned. Thus, when her free rent ends in 2017, Miyako says she will be forced to wander the streets of Tokyo. http://ajw.asahi.com/article/0311disaster/fukushima/AJ201603030058