• Tepco says a coolant leak and equipment malfunction with F. Daiichi unit #3 may have led to its fuel damage. Tepco says there must have been leakages out of the flow path from the fire pump to the Reactor Vessel which prevented all of the water getting to its intended destination. The company says the amount of water from the fire pump was greater than the amount needed to cool the fuel core, but the subsequent meltdown shows that much of the water was going elsewhere. The time of the onset of fuel melting remains unchanged from the company’s 2012 investigation – 10:40am on March 13th. [The revised Tepco timeline follows] The High Pressure Coolant Injection system shut down at 2:42am. This may have happened due to a system malfunction. Operator records show that unit #3’s reactor water level dropped to the top of the fuel core at 4:15am that day. It would take a few hours for the core to be completely exposed and heat-up enough to begin melting.  At ~9 am, automatic safety relief valve operation dropped pressure inside the reactor pressure vessel enough for low pressure, self-powered fire pumps to inject water into the RPV. This began at 9:25am. The manual depressurization of the Primary Containment (PCV) occurred a few minutes later. With the RPV and PCV depressurized, water flow from the fire pump should have begun the recovery of water level inside the RPV. But, this did not happen. [end of revised Tepco scenario] Tepco also says something similar may have happened at units #1 and #2 prior to their onset of fuel damage. http://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/english/news/20131213_38.htmlhttp://english.kyodonews.jp/news/2013/12/261658.html
  • Tokyo wants to pass a law making it illegal for permanent storage of low-level wastes in Fukushima Prefecture. The move is intended to relieve local concerns that the temporary storage of low level wastes will become permanent. The government wants 30-year temporary storage facilities built in the towns of Futaba, Okuma, and Naraha, which are nearest the damaged nuke station. However, local officials fear that once storage takes place, it will stay there permanently. They want a guarantee that if the facilities are built, they will never become permanent. http://jen.jiji.com/jc/eng?g=eco&k=2013121300849  On Saturday, Tokyo Ministers Ishihara and Takumi met with Fukushima officials, including Governor Yuhei Sato. The ministers asked permission to buy up 18 km2 of land to build low level waste storage facilities. They told the local officials that the government’s proposal to make a permanent storage location outside Fukushima Prefecture a law should give greater incentive to agree to the land buy-up. However, many local landowners say they will not sell properties handed down by their ancestors, and they feel building the facilities would discourage many evacuees from returning. The ministers said they will begin briefing local landowners on their plans after the New Year. http://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/english/news/nuclear.html
  • Tokyo is considering doubling the ceiling on loans to Tepco. The current limit on loans is $50 billion, but now the government wants to raise it to $100 billion. The new limit will apply to the combination of compensation pay-outs and rural decontamination costs. The cost of decontamination is now estimated to be as much as $25 billion. The rest is for compensation payments to Fukushima evacuees, which already totals about $30 billion. http://english.kyodonews.jp/news/2013/12/261774.html
  • The Tokyo government may sell its shares of Tepco stock to fund decontamination at Fukushima. Tokyo poposes to sell Tepco stocks valued at $10 billion, and use it to pay for decontamination of rural areas around the nuke station. Costs beyond the amount of the stock sale will be charged to Tepco. The Tepco stocks are currently held by the Nuclear Damage Liability Facilitation Fund, which also lends much of the money to the utility to cover public compensation pay-outs. It is feared that using stock sales to pay for decontamination will cause critics to say Tokyo is financially rescuing Tepco. http://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/english/news/nuclear.html

With the relative lull due to a week of no spent fuel movement at F. Daiichi #4, much of the Japanese Press has resorted to the promotion of fear, uncertainty and doubt (FUD).

  • The Asahi Shimbun posted an article of doubt concerning Fukushima evacuees, specifically a “dilemma” experienced by residents from locations where restrictions have been lifted. At least they head the article with a returnee who is glad he moved home. Kiyokazu Watanabe says, “Nothing is sweeter than being in my home. I want to get the feeling that things are moving forward.” But, most of the article contains stories of several evacuees who are staying away due to fear of radiation exposure. One is Watanabe’s son. Watanabe’s son and family will remain in a leased home, as will Seisaku Yoshida, a local farmer. He plans on planting rice on his property next spring, but not move home permanently. He estimates that repairs to his home will cost ~$50,000, and (like Watanabe) his son refuses to return due to radiation exposure. Yoshida says, “Perhaps I would be happier if I kept the repairs to a minimum and used the money to live with my grandson and his family.” The article adds that only 30 of the district’s 117 households have come back because they may lose much of their compensation income. The Asahi makes it seem that the $1,000 per month each person gets for psychological distress is the only money evacuees are getting, but those following this blog know that the monthly payouts are considerably greater. http://ajw.asahi.com/article/0311disaster/fukushima/AJ201312130073
  • The Mainichi Shimbun aran two FUD reports this weekend. In the first, The Mainichi says Japan is “incapable” of safely decommissioning F. Daiichi and calls for an international effort. The paper says Japan has never decommissioned a “full-fledged” reactor, unlike other countries like the United States. Idaho University Professor Akira Tokuhiro says, “Even for the U.S. nuclear industry, such a cleanup and decommissioning would be a great challenge.” The article focuses on doubts about the extent of the three damaged cores, where they are actually located, and the unknown problems with removing them. The paper further says lack of expertise is “worse at the regulatory level”. The Mainichi says no-one in Japan’s NRA has ever been involved in reactor decommissioning. American Lake Barrett is quoted as saying, “The most challenging area is skilled nuclear engineers and managers that can plan, integrate and communicate effectively in Japanese.” Then, near the end of the report, the Mainichi admits Japan has experience with scrapping one test reactor, and five others in various stages of decommissioning, including three commercial nukes. The decommissioning of Tokai unit #1 has been on-going for 15 years and at least 70 Japanese “experts” are involved. After contradicting itself, the Mainichi closes with another quote from Idaho Professor Tokuhiro, “It is clear that this very large undertaking requires an international effort. It is in the spirit of a global nuclear energy partnership.” http://mainichi.jp/english/english/newsselect/news/20131215p2g00m0dm043000c.html   Next, The Mainichi says the temporary storage of low level decontaminated waste “shocks Fukushima residents”. The paper charges that the Prefecture’s government “failed to check” storage practices in Shirakawa City, located about 60 kilometers southwest of F. Daiichi, well-beyond the evacuation zone. The paper sent a reporter with a hand-held dosimeter because of a November report from an elderly woman to the Prefecture. She said she saw children playing on a pile of bags containing low-level wastes stored at an apartment complex’s park. The reporter said the bags had a contact reading of 2.23 microsieverts per hour, nearly 10 times the desired 0.23 µSv/hr (~1 mSv/yr). When the reporter moved away, the level dropped to 0.23 µSv/hr. The paper said they found a similar situation with four other apartment parks in the city. The reporter saw two high school students walking near one of the bag-piled parks and reported, “They said they didn’t know about the danger of the bags.” The paper charges that this is an unsafe condition for children and must be stopped. The Prefecture has long-ago sent letters to all city parents announcing the temporary storage, but the Mainichi says they “did not mention anything about the danger of the waste bags or safety measures.” http://mainichi.jp/english/english/newsselect/news/20131216p2a00m0na015000c.html  (comment – Of course, there is no discernable danger to the children. The average American child receives about 0.7 µSv per hour and millions of children in the world lead full, healthy lives in background levels radiation much higher than 2.23 µsV/hr. But, the Mainichi ignores these facts, hell-bent on keeping the radiophobic demographic of Japan on edge.)
  • Jiji Press also adds its little contribution to the FUD, this time by re-hashing the now-trite notion that there is “no solution in sight…with the ever-increasing amounts of radioactive water at the accident-hit Fukushima No. 1 power station.” It’s the same thing Japan’s antinuclear-oriented Press been saying regularly since the first storage tank leaks were detected last spring. Regardless…here’s the link – http://jen.jiji.com/jc/eng?g=eco&k=2013121600319