• Why the public debate on child thyroid screenings is complicated. On one hand, a Fukushima pediatrician’s group feels that future screenings should be voluntary, thus reducing the scale of the study. On the other hand, a group of residents opposes the pediatrician’s opinion and demands that the program maintain obligatory participation. When state-of-the-art child thyroid screenings began five years ago, there were essentially three purposes for it – identifying the effects of low-level radiation exposure, protecting the health of Fukushima residents, and lowering anxiety felt by the prefecture’s population. Over time these goals have become questions – can the program actually identify low-level exposure effects, are the screenings actually a health benefit, and does program alleviate apprehensions? Public dissatisfaction remains a significant problem, largely because of long-standing distrust of the government. One disgruntled resident said, “In the long run, the national government is inclined only to accept test results showing ‘no increase’ in cancer.” While the large-scale screening has shown no increase in child thyroid cancers, harmful rumors continue to circulate with negative effects on the mental health of many Fukushima residents. http://www.jaif.or.jp/en/reaching-a-common-ground-on-thyroid-gland-screening/
  • Tepco reports that the replacement of old wastewater tanks at F. Daiichi is behind schedule. Bolted-together tanks were initially used to store the contaminated waters being produced inside the four damaged units at F. Daiichi. Some of the tanks leaked along the vertical seams, so Tepco was forced to use only welded-seam tanks. Replacing the more than 200 original bolted-together tanks has been going slowly. It was hoped that the replacement would be finished by the end of March, 2017. But, it now seems that the completion date will be sometime in June, 2018. More than 100 of the one-thousand ton bolted-together tanks still need to be exchanged. http://jen.jiji.com/jc/eng?g=eco&k=2016092800865
  • Hitachi, Toshiba, and MHI plan to merge their nuclear fuel businesses. The primary reason behind the proposed merger is financial. With the snail’s-pace restarts of Japan’s nuclear power fleet and successful international competition coming from China and South Korea, the three companies are experiencing cash-flow problems. By consolidating the three nuclear organizations, business efficiency will improve due to staff integration and closure of overlapping departments. Material procurement costs will also be lowered. One company executive said, “All Japanese reactor makers need to join hands to protect the country’s nuclear technology.” Chinese, South Korean and Russian rivals are actively expanding, so the Japanese must build a system to curb costs and maintain their business edge. Tokyo wants all of Japan’s nuclear manufacturing to be housed under one corporate roof. The merger of nuclear fuel operations will likely be the first step in realizing the government’s goal. The possible consolidation has international implications. Global Nuclear Fuel is jointly financed by Hitachi and General Electric Co., Nuclear Fuel Industries Ltd.’s major shareholder is Toshiba’s U.S. subsidiary Westinghouse Electric Co., and Mitsubishi Nuclear Fuel Co. is a venture involving MHI and Areva. Arrangements must be made to satisfy all parties involved. http://the-japan-news.com/news/article/0003248663http://asia.nikkei.com/Business/Companies/Japan-reactor-makers-consider-merging-fuel-units-to-counter-rivals