- As of Wednesday, April 30th, 770 fuel bundles have been moved out of unit #4 storage pool. This means more than half of the 1533 stored bundles have been safely transferred to the ground-level common facility storage pools. In addition, 748 of the 1,331 spent (used) fuel assemblies (56%) have been safely removed from the unit 4 pool. Unfortunately, this important milestone does not seem to have been reported in any major Japanese news outlet. http://www.tepco.co.jp/en/decommision/index-e.html
- We have consolidated the several postings of the Fukushima accident’s third anniversary into a separate page, Fukushima Third Anniversary, which can be accessed by clicking the title in the left-hand menu. Also posted on its own page is Japan’s Quake/Tsunami 3rd Anniversary, accessed by clicking its title in the left-hand menu.
- Half of the evacuated Fukushima families are separated. Fukushima Prefecture has surveyed more than 62,000 households that moved due to the 3/11/11 earthquake, tsunami and nuke accident combined, including those that fled of their own accord out of radiation fears. A little over 20,000 households responded, roughly a 33% rate. Of them, 48.9% said their family is currently separated and living in two or more locations. However, 44.7% said they are still together and living in one location. 70% of the respondents from the Fukushima exclusion zone said they have had health problems during the past three years, while 55% of the voluntary refugees said they had health complaints. The most prominent reported health issues were worsening of pre-existing diseases, insomnia, and less life enjoyment. Each category had a 10% higher incidence among mandated evacuees than voluntary. 36% of the voluntary evacuees are undecided as to whether or not they will ever return home, 27% say they will remain in their new homes, but only 17% said they plan to go back home. On the other hand, more than 35% of the mandated evacuees say they want to return home if they can be assured “the elimination of the effects of radiation and associated concerns.” Half of the mandated evacuee families have made formal address changes, while only 14% of the voluntary evacuees have re-registered addresses. A Prefectural official commented, “As for those households that voluntarily evacuated, many of them have been moving their residential registrations to new addresses in order to receive administrative services smoothly. As for those from the evacuation zones, many of them are probably worried that they may not be able to receive compensation [if they change their residential registrations].” http://mainichi.jp/english/english/newsselect/news/20140429p2a00m0na009000c.html
- Many Fukushima residents are angry about “misleading” manga about prefecture. Manga is a Japanese word for comic book. A recent episode of the “Oishinbo” series is about a group of journalists that were taken through the damaged Fukushima Daiichi site and subsequently suffered sudden nosebleeds and extreme exhaustion. It was released Monday by Big Comic Spirits magazine. In response, a resident of Koriyama in Fukushima Prefecture expressed anger in a Twitter “tweet” which included that the user “never suffered such symptoms over the past three years”. By Wednesday, the post had been retweeted more than 13,000 times. Publisher Shogakukan says they have been inundated with phone calls and Emails accusing them of promoting unfounded rumors and prejudice concerning Fukushima Prefecture. Their response was that the artist, Tetsu Kariya based his depiction on “meticulous reportage” concerning former Futaba Mayor Idogawa’s recent public statement that numerous Fukushima residents suffer these conditions. Idogawa has said he has had repeated nosebleeds and felt “unbearably sick” since the accident. The artist says he visited the plant and suffered bouts of nosebleeds and exhaustion himself. The editor added that doctor and radiation expert Eisuke Matsui told the editorial staff that “the connection between sickness and radiation is not exactly zero”. Regardless, its seems thousands of Fukushima citizens are up in arms about the comic and are fed up with provocative negative portrayals of their prefecture. http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2014/04/30/national/manga-about-work-at-fukushima-no-1-stirs-locals-ire/#.U2I_VqNOUdU
- Traces of Fukushima Cesium have been found in Albacore tuna off the Oregon coastline. A study has been run by staff at Oregon State University and will soon be published in the Environmental Science and Technology journal. The study’s lead author, graduate assistant Delvan Neville, says, “You can’t say there is absolutely zero risk because any radiation is assumed to carry at least some small risk. But these trace levels are too small to be a realistic concern. A year of eating albacore with these cesium traces is about the same dose of radiation as you get from spending 23 seconds in a stuffy basement from radon gas, or sleeping next to your spouse for 40 nights from the natural potassium-40 in their body. It’s just not much at all.” In fact, you would have to consume more than 700,000 pounds of the fish with the highest radioactive level, just to match the amount of exposure the average person is annually exposed to via natural background radiation. Another positive finding concerned the species’ movement patterns. Research associate Jason Phillips said, “Fukushima provides the only known source for a specific isotope that shows up in the albacore, so it gives us an unexpected fingerprint that allows us to learn more about the migration.” http://oregonstate.edu/ua/ncs/archives/2014/apr/study-finds-only-trace-levels-radiation-fukushima-albacore
- Two nuclear units in Kagoshima Prefecture enter the final stage of restart screening. Units 1 and 2 at Sendai station are likely to be the first nukes restarted under the new, more-stringent requirements of the Nuclear Regulation Authority. On Wednesday, station owner Kyushu Electric Company submitted a final report on NRA safety issues concerning the two plants. The safety investigation is now in its final phase. Revisions include upgrades for earthquake and tsunami protection. Site-specific standards were raised 15% for earthquakes and from 3.5 to 5 meters wave height for tsunami after the accident at F. Daiichi. The NRA plans on a final safety report by the end of May and could possibly clear the Sendai units for operation by the end of June. The restarts would mark the beginning of the end of Japan’s post-Fukushima nuclear moratorium. NHK World; Kagoshima plant in final stage of safety screening; May 1, 2014
- Japan and France have agreed to co-research fast reactor technology. As part of the deal, the Monju facility in Fukui Prefecture will be used to test fuels for France’s new ASTRID liquid sodium-cooled reactor. Before this can happen, Tokyo must restart currently-suspended operations at Monju. The joint research document will be signed by Japan’s Science and Technology Ministry, its Natural Resources and Energy Agency, and France’s Alternative Energies and Atomic Energy Commission. Formal confirmation is expected during a summit between Japan’s PM Shinzo Abe and France’s President Francois Hollande on May 5. ASTRID design is expected by 2019 and operation by 2025. The technology will reduce the amount of radioactive waste produced by nuke operations and shorten the period of time for waste radioactivity to drop below naturally-occurring levels. ASTRID will produce an excess of fissionable fuel to be recycled into new fuel bundles, only leaving about 5% of the matrix to be handled as waste. By removing the Uranium-238 (4.5 billion year half-life), residual Uranium-235 (700 million year half-life) and Plutonium-239 (24,000 year half-life), the remaining ~ 5% “waste” will only be more radioactive than naturally occurring Uranium ore for less than 500 years. http://the-japan-news.com/news/article/0001243370
The Mainichi also posted a parallel editorial on the high level waste issue which concludes the government has made “no concrete plans” and thus “the government is merely trying to pave the path toward restarting the nation’s nuclear reactors”. The editorial uses numerous examples clearly intended to create fear, uncertainty, and doubt, with “nobody knows what to do” implications. At least the writer includes that Tokyo says the waste from reprocessing will become essentially harmless after about 300 years, and not 100,000 years. However, this is followed by the opinion that if the waste is buried, society will forget about it and future generations could unwittingly place themselves at risk. Finally, the report says that it would be a “tragedy” if the government names a permanent disposal site at a point where society remains skeptical of all things nuclear. In other words, the editorial creates an aura of immediate need, but subsequently urges that a need-satisfying decision be delayed. This sort of contradictory rhetoric with nuclear waste issues has been a mainstay of the international antinuclear community for some 50 years, and it seems the Mainichi is falling into the same oratorical trap. http://mainichi.jp/english/english/perspectives/news/20140501p2a00m0na012000c.html