• The Environment Ministry sets a minimum criterion for rural radioactive waste. Until now, materials with activity levels at or below 8,000 Becquerels per kilogram were deemed “specified waste” and disposed of as low level radioactive material. On April 28th, the ministry decided that debris with activity below 8,000 Bq/kg is no longer “specified” and may be handled as “ordinary” waste. However, the ordinance will not become an official designation until discussions occur between Tokyo and local governments. Environment Minister Tamayo Marukawa said, “The national government will deal with the matter, after lifting the [current] designation, together with local municipalities.” The revised criterion could drastically reduce the volume of wastes now stored at temporary locations in Miyagi, Ibaraki, Tochigi, Gunma, and Chiba Prefectures. I could also reduce storage issues in Fukushima Prefecture. Though the currently-stored materials all exceeded 8,000 Bq.kg when collected and bagged, five years of radioactive decay has lowered much of the debris activity to well-below the criterion. For example, two-thirds of the bagged debris in Miyagi Prefecture is now below 8,000 Bq/kg. http://www.jaif.or.jp/en/moe-revises-ordinance-changing-waste-designation-to-ordinary-when-radioactive-concentration-falls/
  • More than 10,000 F. Daiichi workers will remain for at least a year. The reconstruction Agency surveyed 24 of the companies involved with decommissioning work, including subcontractors. The Agency finding has been shared with the twelve municipalities evacuated in 2011, to give them an idea of long=term employment at the station. This was the first such long-stay worker projections have happened. The companies were asked what the workers would need, including living accommodations, grocery stores, and other support infrastructure. In addition, the survey found what type of mass transportation would be needed for trips to restaurants and recreational facilities in the region. Some of the surveyed workers are evacuees anticipating return to their homes. In addition to the above needs, they wanted available nursing care for elderly parents and children. http://www.fukushimaminponews.com/news.html?id=663
  • Soma City resumes littleneck clam harvesting. It began on April 20th. 25 fishermen from the Soma-Futaba Fisheries Cooperative Association took part, wearing waterproof pants and boots. They used long-handled dredges to scoop 300 kilograms of shellfish; about average for a day’s work. Of course, the clams were screened for radioactivity, but none was detected. Tokyo has not banned clamming, but the association regards the restart as “test fishing” due to consumer concerns over contamination of the species. Clamming will be conducted once a week through August. http://www.fukushimaminponews.com/news.html?id=662
  • A Tokyo citizen’s judicial panel absolved NISA of nuke accident culpability. The now-defunct Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency had been charged with professional negligence resulting in death and injury because of the Fukushima accident. The citizen’s panel voted to support the prosecutors’ prior decision to not indict three former senior officials of NISA. Plaintiffs were unhappy with the original decision so they took the case to the citizen’s panel, as allowed by Japanese law. The panel finding means that NISA has become effectively exempt from criminal responsibility for allegedly failing to prevent the accident. http://english.kyodonews.jp/news/2016/04/409084.html
  • The Sendai station owner is besieged by local demands for shutdown. Literally thousands of Emails and phone calls have flooded Kyushu Electric Co. since the deadly twin earthquakes in mid-April. Fears of a Fukushima-level accident caused by a quake are at the root of the fearful public reaction. It doesn’t matter that the March 11, 2011, quake of 9 on the Richter scale did nothing to any of the 14 nuke units along the Tohoku coast. Nuclear-phobics on Kyushu Island are trying to shut down the only two operating nukes in Japan, anyway. Kyushu Electric’s President Michiaki Uryu said, “We are operating (the Sendai plant) after confirming its safety and concluding that there is no problem with continuing to operate it.” The mid-April quakes caused ground movement at Sendai station about twenty times less than the SCRAM set-point, and more than 70 times less than the station’s design criterion. NRA Chairman Shunichi Tanaka has insisted that “There are no compelling scientific grounds [for shutdown]. We are not going to shut down the plant just because of calls from the public or politicians. What has been going on is within our expectations… The plant is also designed to be quake-proof, so people do not need to worry about those things.” But voices of fear don’t care. They claim that if a nuke accident happened, damage to physical infrastructure would prohibit public evacuation. They also point out that the future could witness a natural calamity many times worse than what is expected and damage a nuke enough to release radiation.  http://www.asahi.com/ajw/articles/AJ201604290059.html
  • Nuclear emergency sheltering is questioned by some Japanese residents. Post-Fukushima emergency plan regulations call for virtually immediate evacuation within five kilometers, and sheltering in the 5-30 kilometer radius. Evacuation in the outer locations would be determined by radiation levels detected by installed monitoring equipment. However, some residents object, saying that if the nuke accident is caused by an earthquake, local infrastructure will be severely damaged and make evacuation much more difficult for those who want to flee along with the residents from the 5km radius. The objections have been spawned by the recent dual quakes on Kyushu Island, which did absolutely nothing to the operating nukes at Sendai station. One public servant said, “If there were a nuclear accident, remaining indoors would be impossible. The Kumamoto Earthquake has made me even more anxious. Even if we were to evacuate indoors, then we would have to go outside (to receive supplies, etc.) and wouldn’t be able to avoid exposure to radiation. I would want to evacuate immediately, but evacuation routes would probably be crowded.” A Kagoshima official replied that sheltering is the most reasonable approach and post-Fukushima emergency plans will not be revised. http://mainichi.jp/english/articles/20160502/p2a/00m/0na/021000c (Comment – It seems that a fraction of the Japanese public plans on fleeing as soon as a nuke accident is announced because they fear the possibility of radiation exposure. In other words, the radiophobic demographic wants special treatment because they refuse to believe that low-level exposure is essentially harmless.)
  • Fukushima culprit Naoto Kan is lauded by Germany. He was given an award for promoting nuclear phase-out and supporting other renewables. Kan was given the award at a “citizen’s initiative against nukes” ceremony in Frankfurt on Saturday. Former German Environment Minister Juergen Trittin praised Kan as a “fighter” for his international campaign against nuclear power. (Aside) Of course, no-one at the ceremony would ever admit that Kan’s meddling and naïve orders to unnecessarily delay venting of unit #1 for eight hours was the most-probable cause of the three hydrogen explosions, greatly exacerbating the amount of core damage in units #1, 2, & 3. (End Aside.)  http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2016/05/01/national/311-prime-minister-kan-recognized-efforts-phase-nuclear-power/#.VyX_Z5Bf0dVhttp://www.japantoday.com/category/politics/view/germany-gives-ex-pm-kan-award-for-efforts-to-phase-out-nuclear-power-in-japan?utm_campaign=jt_newsletter&utm_medium=email&utm_source=jt_newsletter_2016-05-01_PM