• The Tokyo government says that the new 40 year licensing limit on nuclear operations can be extended another 20 years if certain criteria are met. The Cabinet Secretariat’s taskforce says the extensions would be granted on a one-time-only basis. Nuclear engineering professor Kazuhiko Kudo of Kyushu University says it makes him wonder why the 40 year limit was invoked in the first place. Kudo adds the government should clarify the scientific basis of their decision by studying the aging reactor issue completely before making their decision. The Tokyo taskforce justifies their decision by pointing out the extension plan is consistent with other regulatory standards around the world. (JAIF) But, local officials outside of Tokyo question the announcement. Mayor Tatsuya Murakami of Tokai Village in Ibaraki Prefecture says the extension “…is a compromise measure that guts the substance of the original plan.” Governors Hirohiko Izumida of Niigata Prefecture and Yukiko Kada of Shiga Prefecture say this new change will only cause more concerns among the public and further deteriorate confidence in their government.

    Izumida added that life-span decisions should not have been made before the full technical evaluation of the Fukushima Daiichi accident has been completed, allowing everyone to know whether or not the age of the plant had anything to do with the calamity. (NHK World)

  • Today, workers at Fukushima Daiichi unit #2 drilled a hole through the primary containment in preparation for visual inspection inside the massive structure. TEPCO plans to insert a radiation-resistant endoscope through the bored hole on Thursday in order to look at the condition inside the containment and see the situation around the outside of the reactor pressure vessel itself. The hole was drilled through the several feet thick steel and concrete wall using 10 teams of four workers each. The team system was used so that no-one would be in the high radiation field long enough to gain an exposure anywhere near the regulatory limit. The highest monitored exposures were 3 millisieverts. Before the work was started, the teams rehearsed extensively at undamaged and shut down unit #5 in order to insure the work would be done as quickly as possible. (JAIF)
  • The detectably radioactive gravel and concrete issue has gone from the ridiculous to the sublime, and the reason is radiophobia. For three days the Japanese Press has been inundated with stories about public fear and anger because the materials have had widespread use in new buildings, school repairs, and roads since April. In most cases, radiation readings made in contact with the cement and/or gravel are slightly above those found elsewhere in the vicinity. At a typical distance from the materials, radiation readings show little or no appreciable increase over what would otherwise be the case. Clearly, the Press is supporting the ridiculous notion that any detectable level of exposure is “highly radioactive”, amplifying radiophobic angst to the extreme. One prime example is a new road along a school route made of the suspect cement, but shows the same level of exposure as the surrounding area. Regardless, the school is pushing to have the road ripped up and replaced. (Mainichi Shimbun) Why? Because radiophobic parents have demanded it. In perhaps the most bizarre instance, a new pool in a town near Nihonmatsu which is made of the concrete shows a radiation level lower than the surrounding area, but town officials are considering having it torn apart and replaced, none-the-less. (Yomiuri Shimbun) Radiophobia has long been known to cause psychological damage, which in some cases can be clinical. Serious, debilitating radiophobia in Japan is not unusual or sporadic…it is common across the nation! The collective psychological damage is enormous. What makes the matter worse; political attempts to soothe these irrational fears are costing money that need never be wasted in such a way. That money would be better spent on tsunami recovery efforts.
  • Residents of Fukushima Prefecture are dissatisfied with the existing financial nuclear psychological damages compensation plan. Currently, 23 municipalities around Fukushima Daiichi are receiving compensation for mental suffering due to the radiation releases. Residents of 26 other municipalities in the Prefecture have set up a task force to protest what they feel is discriminatory treatment by the government. It adopted a resolution urging that reparations cover all residents in the regions, or about 450,000 people. This would literally cover all residents living in the Prefecture. (NHK World) Financial compensation for fear of the radiation bogey man…absurd without a doubt, but it will probably bear monetary fruit.
  • Does low level exposure to radiation really cause cancer? That question is posed to Dr. Jerry Cutler, formerly of Argonne National Laboratory who has studied the biological effects of radiation for some 15 years. Cutler tells us that current evidence literally proves the “cancer at any dose” notion is wrong. The discussion can be found in Rod Adam’s Atomic Insights blog… http://atomicinsights.com/2012/01/does-radiation-really-cause-cancer-conversation-among-professionals.html