• Katsurao Village had its evacuation order lifted on Sunday. It is the fourth municipality in the old “no-go” zone to be allowed unrestricted repopulation. This will make it possible for 1,347 of the 1,466 evacuated residents to return to their homes, without limitations. The restriction remains in place for nearly 120 former residents because radiation levels are high. Local officials say they will do what they can to get medical facilities and shops opened. Some villagers have already returned, while some say they are waiting until the infrastructure is re-started. Others say they have no desire to return because they worry about the radiation. The Asahi Shimbun puts as negative a spin on the good news, focusing on the fact that only 10% of the former residents have returned. In addition, half of the rice paddies are filled with bags of rural radioactive debris, about which the Asahi says local officials “…have no idea when the waste can be moved out of the village for permanent storage. The staunchly antinuclear newspaper focused on the estimated radiation levels posted in 2012, while ignoring the fact that the current actual readings are much less than half of the 2012 estimates. http://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/en/news/20160612_04/http://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/en/news/20160612_13/
  • The mayor of Katsurao says they will create a new village. Mayor Masahide Matsumoto spoke village officials on Monday. He said the decision to repopulate was made difficult because many former residents fear radiation exposure, however the resumption of farming is an encouraging sign. One village official said she wants to support both those who return to the village and those who stay away for a while longer. http://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/en/news/20160613_23/
  • Much of Katsurao’s tap water now comes from wells. When Tokyo’s evacuation order was issued in 2011, all tap water came from a mountain-fed stream. However, prospective returning residents feared that the stream could have contamination in it, so the Village began switching over to ground water at least 10 meters deep. About 40% of the homes in Katsurao now have well water. http://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/en/news/20160613_16/
  • Tepco runs drills to assemble Unit #3 radioactivity containment cover. The structure has been fabricated at the Onahama facility in Iwaki City. It is an arched design, 54 meters tall, 57 meters long, and 19 meters wide. It has eight sections that will be slid over the part of unit #3 containing the Spent Fuel Pool where 566 used fuel bundles are stored. (specifications per World Nuclear Association) Tepco staff have been practicing installation of the cover, and the Japanese Press was allowed to witness the procedure on Friday. After practice sessions are complete, the metal structure will be disassembled and sent to F. Daiichi by ship. It has been built to relieve local fears of small amounts of radioactive material being released during the removal of used fuel bundles. Tepco hopes to have the cover in place soon so they can begin transferring the used fuel to the ground-level storage facility that already holds the ~1500 used and unused bundles from unit #4. http://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/en/news/20160610_34/ —  http://www.world-nuclear-news.org/RS-Tepco-readies-to-install-unit-3-cover-1308155.html
  • An ex-NRA official says the agency needs to revise seismic safety regulations. Former Nuclear Regulation Authority commissioner Kunihiko Shimazaki says the regulations underestimate the severity of quakes that might affect nuclear plants. He believes the design-basis modeling for safety standards is inadequate based on his assessment of April’s Kumamoto earthquake on Kyushu Island. Shimazaki asserts, “The NRA has to be aware that the current screening procedures have shortcomings,” and it is “very dangerous to keep using the method.” Shimazaki was in charge of NRA quake and tsunami assessment before stepping down in September, 2014. Aside – Shimazaki has been a severe critic of Tokyo’s earthquake predictions since he left the NRA, and has appeared as a witness for plaintiffs suing Tokyo and Tepco over the F. Daiichi accident. – End aside. http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2016/06/13/national/former-nuclear-regulatory-body-official-calls-for-review-of-safety-screening-method/#.V16zSylf0dV
  • Okuma offers municipal land to Tokyo for rural waste storage. Okuma shares hosting of F. Daiichi with Futaba. The town assembly approved the move on May 31st. Futaba is considering something similar. Okuma Mayor Toshitsuna Watanabe said, “We will convey our policy in a few days to the Liberal Democratic Party’s prefectural chapter, which earlier requested the offer of town-held land.” Okuma owns 95 hectares and Futaba 70 hectares of land skirting F. Daiichi, where Tokyo has decided to have a 30-year storage facility. http://www.fukushimaminponews.com/news.html?id=677
  • Ikata unit #3 is ready for restart. The completion of pre-service inspections opens the way for resumption of operations. The advancement in protection against tornadoes and tsunamis has been considerable. For example, withstanding winds with speeds up to 360 km/hr (~225 miles/hr), including double-walled steel sheeting around a water tank that supplies emergency cooling systems. Some additional work continues to upgrade protection against terrorist incursions. The unit has already received local approval for restart. http://www.jaif.or.jp/en/shikoku-electric-completes-seismic-work-and-tornado-measures-at-ikata-3/
  • 33 people file lawsuit to shutter Japan’s only operating nukes. The suit was filed in Fukuoka District Court, Kagoshima Prefecture, by residents from ten prefectures. The plaintiffs claim that the NRA illegally approved restart of Sendai units #1&#2 because new government regulations to prepare nuclear plants for disasters are insufficient and risks of volcanoes were underestimated. The suit also claims regulations are not based on scientific knowledge. A Kagoshima City plaintiff said a nuke accident would produce effects from radioactive substances for decades, which she says is unacceptable. Another suit was filed in the same court in 2014 to try and stop restart of the two nukes, but it was dismissed by the district court. An appeal to a higher court was also rebuffed. http://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/en/news/20160610_27/http://mainichi.jp/english/articles/20160610/p2a/00m/0na/012000c