• IAEA Director Yukiya Amano proposes an international effort in decommissioning Fukushima Daiichi. On Thursday, Amano said, “The safe decommissioning (of the reactors) should be undertaken not just by Japan but should draw on the wisdom and the most advanced technologies from around the world. It may be necessary to establish an advisory council, or something similar, concerning decommissioning at the IAEA. We hope to see the world make the most of the experiences in Fukushima, and the prefecture to capitalize on experiences from around the world.” The IAEA is planning to send an international team of experts to Japan in April to submit a proposal for retiring the reactors. Some feel the effort is designed to keep Japan from establishing a monopoly on reactor decommissioning. One Tokyo official said,“There is suspicion in the international community that Japan may be aiming to secure interests in decommissioning work that will be needed in various parts of the world by monopolizing technology attained in (scrapping the) Fukushima plant.” Next Wednesday, IAEA experts will be in Fukushima Prefecture to begin the process of opening an office in Fukushima City as a base of operations. Concerning decontamination of the surrounding communities, Amano said, “We will make use of experts involved in the Chernobyl nuclear accident and other incidents.” He explained that residents in the affected areas feel “anxieties about whether or not it is all right to return home. We hope to cooperate in explaining global standards and disseminating information about health issues.” Tepco and the Industry Ministry have been making plans, but there is a limit to what Japan can do on its own due to a lack of experience with retiring nuclear reactors.
  • The former political regime in Tokyo continues to blame Tepco for the government’s lack of information during the first week of the Fukushima accident. Former Cabinet Secretary Yukio Edano told the Press that the speedy and efficient flow of information to the Prime Minister is imperative during a nuclear accident. He criticized Tepco by saying “there was no information coming from Tepco. The major lesson we learned was that we were unable to collect information efficiently. No one could stop the expansion of the nuclear crisis at the administrative and political level.” Edano speculated that if the information collection system is not rebuilt by Tepco, the same situation will occur with the next nuclear accident. (Jiji Press)
  • A team of Japanese researchers have a new, improved method for decontaminating rice paddies. The problem is with fields that were plowed before the Cesium-laden surface was scraped off and disposed of. Cesium tends to adhere to clay particles in the paddies. By filling the field with water and “finely plow” it into a slurry, a dispersing chemical can separate the clay from the rest of the soil. After agitation, the water is drained from the paddy. In tests, the process removed 62% of the Cesium and lowered the surface radiation levels by 30%. In the test soils, the Cesium concentration dropped to 17 Becquerels per kilogram, well below the national standard of 100 Bq/kg. According to the Agriculture Ministry, there are about 400 hectares of rice paddies that qualify for deep decontamination. (Yomiuri Shimbun)
  • An Asahi Shimbun survey found that 55% of the local officials near nuclear plants in Japan feel nukes are necessary. 45% say nukes should be phased out, but are necessary for the time being. Four of the 156 responding officials said Japan doesn’t need nukes any more. The survey covered 21 prefectural governments and 135 municipalities, all located within 30 kilometers of nuke stations. Nuclear supporter Kazuhiko Yamashita, the mayor of Ikata, Ehime Prefecture, said, “We should utilize nuclear plants that are confirmed safe and make efforts not to slow down economic activities.” On the other hand, Jitaro Yamaguchi, the mayor of Mihama, Fukui Prefecture, said “They are necessary until new power sources that will resolve the issues of global warming and economic efficiency become available.” Kagoshima Mayor Hiroyuki Mori said Japan should denuclearize itself “when civilian life and economic and industrial activities become insusceptible (to the change).” Among the four mayors who said nukes should be stopped immediately, Shohei Kitamura of Fujieda, Shizuoka Prefecture, said “Given that Japan could overcome the electricity shortage during [last] summer, it is doubtful whether (nuclear plants) are really necessary.”

Carnival of Nuclear Energy Bloggers #145 is hosted by Will Davis’ Atomic Power Review. Some of the topics this week include – a new compact reactor system proposed by General Atomics, the problems Canada has found by choosing Natural Gas over nuclear, the refueling and maintenance of Vermont Yankee, the potential for closures of a few American nukes, President Obama’s State of the Union Address, Greenpeace calling scientific research a government ploy, and the diary of a “nuclear tourist” in Germany. Here’s the link… http://atomicpowerreview.blogspot.com/2013/02/carnival-145.html