• Regional banks have been reopening in evacuation zone communities. Residents have been slow to repopulate after the lifting of Tokyo’s 2011 withdrawal order. The banks feel that reopening branches would be an incentive for the reluctant residents to return. The Namie evacuation order is scheduled to be retracted next March, so Abukuma Shinkin has reopened a branch in the town. “We hope our branch, where local people can stop by freely and enjoy chatting, will become a place that can console them,” said branch chief Takahiro Abe, “Being the first to reopen a branch in the town will hopefully allow us to attract people and see rises in deposits and loans.” The prior reopening of Toho Bank in Nahara has not had much impact. The branch was reopened in April, seven months after the evacuation order was lifted. Only about 8% of Naraha’s residents have gone home. http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2016/07/24/business/fukushima-banks-hope-to-lure-nuclear-evacuees-back-by-reopening-branches/#.V5SvQSnr0dV
  • A Russian company says it can be a part of the F. Daiichi wastewater clean-up effort. State-based Rosatom’s waste disposal facility has built a prototype system that strips all radioactive isotopes, including Tritium. The naturally-occurring isotope of Hydrogen is removed through distillation and electrolysis. Although biologically harmless, Tritium’s weak emissions concern millions of Japanese. These fears have kept Tepco from expunging the more than 600,000 tons of water that have been cleansed of all isotopes except Tritium. The Rosatom system is said to reduce Tritium by a factor of 6,000, which would bring the concentrations well-below Japan’s drinking water limit. Rosatom says duplicating the facility at F. Daiichi would probably cost about $700 million. http://asia.nikkei.com/Politics-Economy/International-Relations/Japan-nuclear-cleanup-next-target-in-Russian-economic-offensive
  • Tokyo declassifies 7.7 tons Chiba City’s contaminated waste. When collected, the wastes had a radioactivity level of greater than 8,000 Becquerels per kilogram and were designated as “specified”, which disallowed ordinary trash burial. However, natural radioactive decay has dropped 3.5 tons of zeolite down to 6,100 Bq/kg, and 4.2 tons of incinerator ash down to 4,000 Bq/kg. While this technically allows the 7.7 tons to be disposed as ordinary trash, Chiba Municipal Government will probably continue storage of the material because it is afraid regular disposal will cause residents anxiety and harm the trash disposal business. http://jen.jiji.com/jc/eng?g=eco&k=2016072200629http://mainichi.jp/english/articles/20160722/p2a/00m/0na/021000c
  • Rent-free evacuee housing is extended for another year. Fukushima Prefecture’s government announced the decision on July 15th in Fukushima City. This will affect the evacuees from ten of the eleven municipalities impacted by the Tokyo mandate of 2011. The one community that has decided to not honor the extension is Naraha, which will consider the rent-free option on an individual basis. The prefecture decided to prolong the housing benefit because the lifting of the evacuation order differs from community to community inside the evacuation zone. The 10 affected municipalities are the whole areas of five towns (Naraha, Tomioka, Okuma, Futaba and Namie) and two villages (Katsurao and Iitate). In addition, it is applied to portions of Minamisoma City, Kawamata Town and Kawauchi Village. In Minamisoma, the program only applies to evacuees from “difficult-to-return” and “residency-restricted” zones, plus another zone preparing for the lifting of the evacuation order. http://www.fukushimaminponews.com/news.html?id=699
  • Tokyo tells nuclear operators to be wary of the new “Pokémon Go” game. The Nuclear Regulation Authority is calling for heightened security to prevent people from entering the premises of nuclear plants while playing the game on a smartphone. This is because three teens entered the employee parking lot of an Ohio nuclear plant while playing the game and were apprehended by station security guards. http://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/en/news/20160722_28/https://public-blog.nrc-gateway.gov/2016/07/19/pokemon-go-not-a-go-at-nuclear-plants/