• 70% of recently-returning evacuees have less than 1 millisievert/yr exposure. A September survey of 65 returning citizens in Kawamata, Tomioka, and Katsurao, revealed the low average. The maximum exposures were 2.62 mSv/yr in Kawamata, 1.78 mSv/yr in Tomioka, and 1.84 mSv/yr in Katsurao. When combined with Japan’s estimated natural background of ~1.5 mSv/yr, those repopulating in the three towns will actually have much less exposure than millions of Americans living in the Rocky Mountains and surrounding high-altitude plateaus. The survey was run by the Nuclear Regulation Authority. All exposures were adjusted relative to lifestyle, hours indoors, and the time spent outdoors. The exposures are currently less than the readings last September due to the constant decay of radioactive isotopes. The exposure data was released by the NRA at a Fukushima Prefecture Press Conference on July 6th, but only reported in Fukushima Minpo.  http://www.fukushimaminponews.com/news.html?id=694
  • Tokyo says it will remove many “difficult to return” designations next decade. “Difficult to return” is defined as locations where 2011 estimates of annual exposure were fifty millisieverts per year or greater. The revisions could affect 25,000 of the more than 36,000 evacuees who fled from the zones Tokyo designates as “difficult to return”. The government says it will begin relaxing restrictions in 2021. The potentially affected locations are mostly in Okuma, Futaba, and Namie Towns. Tokyo admits that radiation levels in the zones are considerably less than to 50 mSv/yr criterion due to rainwater flushing of surface contaminants and ever-diminishing nature of radioactive decay. For example, the installed radiation monitor in Okuma, one of the co-host communities for F. Daiichi, is now showing an actual level of about 9 mSv/yr. In principle, when exposure levels drop below 20 mSv/yr people are allowed to return home. However, the socio-political baggage that would come with dropping the restrictions at that level has kept the “difficult to return” designation in-vogue. The Reconstruction Agency says that exposure concerns are the main reason why only about 10% of the population say they will go home if and when the restrictions are removed. http://www.asahi.com/ajw/articles/AJ201607170022.html
  • Tokyo rescinds its mention of a Fukushima sarcophagus. On Tuesday, Nuclear Damage Compensation and Decommissioning Facilitation Corporation included the slight possibility of a sarcophagus similar to Chernobyl for F. Daiichi in a future planning report for decommissioning. Japan’s Press immediately jumped on it, with Fukushima Prefecture officials howling in opposition. Industry Minister Yosuke Takagi met with Fukushima governor Masao Uchibori on Friday to assure everyone that Tokyo has no intention of entombing F. Daiichi. Takagi added that he has ordered the decommissioning office to rewrite the report and remove the mention of a sarcophagus. http://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/en/news/20160715_27/
  • Tepco executives will not be indicted over the nuclear accident. An independent citizens’ panel has endorsed a prosecution decision not to indict Tokyo Electric Power Co. (TEPCO) and its executives on charges of failing to take appropriate action to prevent the outflow of contaminated water into the Pacific Ocean. The committee said it was “unable to discover evidence enough to deem as unjustifiable the prosecution’s judgment that there was not sufficient evidence to support fault or negligence”. Under Japanese law, no complaint can be brought against the committee’s decision, virtually ending the appeals to the case that have dragged on for more than a year. The decision was rendered July 23rd, but was not reported by the Japanese Press until July 8th, and then only by Fukushima Minpo. http://www.fukushimaminponews.com/news.html?id=693
  • Ikata unit #3 restart may be delayed until August. Shikoku Electric Co. has been pointing towards a late July return to operation, but a minor leak from a main coolant pump shaft seal has put a halt to the pre-restart procedure. Main coolant pumps send water through to reactor vessel to be heated and then through the steam generators where non-radioactive steam is generated to run the turbine-generators. A problem with the pump’s seal was first detected on Saturday morning, but could not be confirmed until yesterday morning because of its very low rate of flow. All leaked water has been collected and put into storage. Ikata #3 is a Pressurized Water Reactor system with a rated electrical output of 890 MWe. http://mainichi.jp/english/articles/20160718/p2a/00m/0na/008000c (Comment – The above report is only to be found in the Mainichi Shimbun. This is most curious. Nuclear plant water leaks, no matter how minor, and restart delays have received across-the-board coverage from Japan’s Press. One would think that both occurring together would garner more than one Press outlet’s interest.)