Commentary – How Hazardous is Cs-137? – Part II please click here

  • Senior vice industry minister Isao Matsumiya is “begging” for the restarts of idled nukes in Japan. “I am begging the Nuclear Regulation Authority to enable the restart of the suspended reactors nationwide as soon as possible,” Matsumiya said in a meeting with Hokkaido prefectural officials who are planning for their winter electricity supplies. Hokkaido is Japan’s northern-most major island with the country’s longest, coldest, snowiest winters. Hokkaido officials fear this winter could stress their existing electrical infrastructure. In addition, available supplies from Japan’s main island to the south (Honshu) will be limited due to the nuke moratorium. Matsumiya’s remark seems to contrast with his boss, METI minister Yukio Edano, says he is not making “any predictions” about local issues. (Kyodo news Service)
  • The drama surrounding the Nuclear Regulatory Authority’s (NRA) earthquake issue continues. Investigative team-leader Kunihiko Shimazaki’s decision to gather more evidence in order to break the panel’s deadlock on the issue has done two things. First, Kansai Electric Company will excavate as much as an extra 300 meters in order to find the exact extent of the stratum above the bedrock’s fissure. It will also provide the “three dimensional” picture of the rock layer suggested by one of the panel members on Wednesday. However, this in no way satisfies the most outspoken member of the panel, Mitsuhisa Watnabe, who feels his colleagues are merely delaying the inevitable. He says the rock stratum in question can clearly be considered an indicator of the fissure being an active earthquake fault. It was Watanabe who first suggested the geologic anomaly was earthquake-prone back in June. But, the rate at which the panel is deliberating has him frustrated, “I thought this panel’s mission is to decide, with a sense of speed, whether there is no danger in terms of active faults, given that the Oi plant is actually operating.” He openly demands the technical discussions end immediately and the two operating Oi units be shut down. On the other hand, team member Daisuke Hirouchi says it makes more sense to conduct further studies rather than make a hasty decision. The next team meeting will be held once the new excavations are complete and additional data becomes available. (Mainichi Shimbun; Japan Times)
  • Japan’s science ministry says that most of the radiation monitors in and around Fukushima prefecture have been reading about 10% lower than they should. The ministry has 675 monitors in 7 prefectures, including 545 in Fukushima. Public reports that a few of the monitors were “missing” hot spots spurred the ministry’s investigation. They found that the detection probe inside the monitors was partially shielded by a metal battery housing which stopped 10% of the radiation before it reached the detector. The ministry says it will cost nearly $2 million to modify the monitors so that none of the radiation field will be blocked. (NHK World)
  • The build-up of undisposed, detectably radioactive ash and sludge in Japan is becoming a problem. Waste treatment facilities in Fukushima and four nearby prefectures have been forced to store about 130,000 tons of the stuff, rather than bury it, because of radiation fears. Fukushima Prefecture has ~70,000 tons and Niigata some 56,000 tons. All of the material is below the government’s 8,000 Becquerel per kilogram limit for routine burial. Tokyo is responsible for handling the material if it is above 8,000 Bq/kg, but each prefecture is responsible for disposal of material below the national standard. Officials in the affected prefectures say the reason for the hold-up on burial is resident’s safety concerns about burying it with regular waste. (NHK World)