• And the beat goes on… NISA has announced that the Prime Minister’s office ignored their Emergency Response Support System (ERSS) data during the critical first five days of the accident at Fukushima Daiichi. ERSS monitors plant technical data and makes predictions on plant conditions almost as fast as it happens. Six-month-old records show ERSS correctly predicting the possibility of severe fuel damage for unit #2 on March 11, and subsequently for unit #3 on March 13. NISA says that unit #1 exploded before they could transmit its data to the P.M.’s staff due to the electrical blackout across TOKYO after the earthquake, but they did get to send the unit’s 2&3 information. Government regulations dictate that ERSS will be used by the Prime Mister to anticipate necessary public protective actions. Mainichi Shimbun reports the Japan Nuclear Energy Safety Organization (JNES), which developed the ERSS, activated the system just after the quake. Based on the assumption of a complete loss of power at the plant, JNES correctly predicted how the water levels, pressure and temperatures would change inside the No. 1, 2 and 3 RPVs, and immediately sent it to NISA. Why did the Prime Minister ignore the information? Yoshinori Moriyama, NISA deputy director-general for nuclear accident measures, says, “The data were not used because they were not based on facts.”

This is the second time following Naoto Kan’s resignation where we find his staff intentionally disregarded technical data they were required to use, by law, when making decisions concerning the accident at Fukushima. They also ignored their SPEEDI radiological projections. This strongly suggests all of Kan’s public protective decisions (and their critical inhibitions on Fukushima’s operating staff trying to alleviate the situation) were essentially arbitrary. Intentional violation of legal emergency procedures and withholding of information for half a year ought to be adjudicated!

  • TEPCO reports the bottom head temperature of #3 RPV has dropped below 100 oC. Unit #3 has required double the water injections of the other 2 damaged reactors, so TEPCO found an alternative flow path to the hot, melted fuel mixture (corium) through the feedwater core spray piping. It seems to have worked very well. TEPCO will slowly reduce #3 injections to find the appropriate level to maintain the low temperature and also keep the formation of contaminated waste water as low as possible.
  • Yet another nuke’s operation has been suspended. Ikata #1’s Sunday shutdown brings the national political moratorium on nukes to more than 85%. Combined with another shutdown announced for next week, only 11 of Japan’s 54 nukes will be operating. The utility, Shikoku Electric, says they will have their “stress test” data ready by the end of September so they can restart Ikata #3, which is ready to go. However, there are additional hurdles which have to be cleared after testing is complete. Japan’s two nuclear safety agencies must screen the results of the tests, and then the central government will decide whether to restart the reactors. Finally, restart has to be approved by the municipalities hosting the reactor. New METI chief Yoshio Hachiro said he and new Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda want to get all idled nukes back in operation as soon as possible. However, Hachiro indicated that even passing stress tests might not be enough, “The most important thing is to employ a tougher safety standard.”
  • TEPCO reports that the airborne contamination concentrations of Cesium 134 and 137 are below the detectability of their most sensitive instruments. This good news can now be added to the ending of water leaks to the ocean more than two months ago. Thus it seems all radioactive releases from Fukushima Daiichi to the environment have ended. This does not mean the levels are merely below government limits, but completely gone.
  • New Environmental Minister and continuing Nuclear Disaster Chief Goshi Hosono says no matter what public fears might be, something has to be done with the radioactive wastes piling up in and around Fukushima Prefecture, “We have no choice but to ask Fukushima Prefecture to set up a temporary storage facility within the prefecture to safely store the waste.” He also pointed out Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda will not unilaterally make a decision on the issue, like his predecessor often did. Noda will reach a decision in consultation with the local governments.

The radioactive waste issue is building to a head across Japan. Of course, all news media editorials have chastised each and every official statement on the issue based on NIMBY (Not In My Back Yard) philosophy. For example Mainichi Shimbun decries all possible temporary locations for radioactive rubble and soil as unfair to the local public, failing to consider the obvious…it must be stored somewhere until the ponderous governmental decision-making process reaches a conclusion. The most logical temporary location is within the 3km radius of Fukushima Daiichi. It’s already highly contaminated and no-one will be allowed to live there for years. This will be an unpopular decision, to be sure. But one that needs to be made, and made soon. We only wish The Mainichi would learn the difference between spent fuel and low level waste, about which they are clearly confused.

  • Now they won’t eat the rice…Japanese consumers are extending their phobic fears of radioactive beef to fears of rice, whether the rice is radioactive or not! Mainichi Shimbun reports nearly half of the women interviewed in Kansai said they would not buy rice grown in Fukushima and Iwate Prefectures because of fear of radiation and a complete lack of trust in official reports on Cesium content. University of Tsukuba assistant professor Kiyokazu Ujiie said, “Regardless of whether the government-imposed limit is a safe level, [it] obviously isn’t reassuring consumers. Damage caused by harmful rumors are severe, particularly in the Kansai region which is far away from the disaster-stricken areas.”