Japan’s Press has posted a massive number of Fukushima 4th anniversary reports. Most of the reports are negative, which is to be expected from the plethora of Japanese news outlets that admit to being decidedly antinuclear. But one news outlet outside Japan has posted a complete fabrication. It is to be found on James Corbett’s (of Corbett Report fame) “Fukushima Updates” page. It copies a news posting out of Iran which openly states “A fresh report in Japan shows the number of deaths by radiation from the country’s Fukushima nuclear power plant disaster in 2011 increased by 18 percent last year.” (bold-face added for emphasis) http://fukushimaupdate.com/about/  There have been exactly zero deaths in Japan as a result of the radiation from F. Daiichi! A retraction by Corbett’s Fukushima Update page and Iran’s Press TV is an ethical imperative. I expect neither will happen.

A summation of 4th anniversary reports was posted yesterday. Rather than indulge in unnecessary redundancy, please go to the following link… http://www.hiroshimasyndrome.com/fukushima-four-years-after.html

Now, here is some current news concerning Fukushima Daiichi…

  • Tepco reports that 750 tons of mildly radioactive rainwater “may have seeped into the ground”. The company says that any of it having reached the ocean is “unlikely”. It appears that heavy rains resulted in the protective sealing of a dike around several storage tank coffer dams to leak around the seams in the sealing material. Inspections for possible tank leaks inside the diked area found nothing. Thus, all of the liquid that seeped into the ground must have been rainwater. Gross Beta activity of the residual water in the dike, and some puddles that have built up outside the barrier, varied from 150 to 8,300 Becquerels per liter. A minor fraction of the Beta activity is probably Strontium-90. Strontium analysis takes several days, so the actual concentrations are forthcoming. No radioactive Cesium was detected. After sampling, the dike area was drained by pumping the water into a wastewater storage tank. Tepco continues to study the cause of this specific dike’s elevated radioactivity. http://www.tepco.co.jp/en/press/corp-com/release/2015/1248631_6844.html  The Tepco Press handout, including graphic depictions of the location of the diked-in area, can be found here… http://www.tepco.co.jp/en/nu/fukushima-np/handouts/2015/images/handouts_150310_01-e.pdf Two of the twelve groundwater sampling point around the spill point show increases. One Gross Beta reading is 18,000 Bq/l, and the other is 2,700 Bq/l. All others do not seem to have been affected by the spill. http://www.tepco.co.jp/en/nu/fukushima-np/f1/smp/2015/images/around_h4_map-e.pdf  (Comment – Much of Japan’s largely antinuclear Press is once again blowing this out of proportion. For example, The Mainichi Shimbun dubs the rainwater “highly radioactive” and The Asahi Shimbun calls the incident a “massive leak of rainwater”. Even the usually neutral NHK World has waxed sensational with the headline “Groundwater radiation levels surge after leak”, and the statement that Tepco “does not know yet if the contaminated rainwater has seeped into the Pacific Ocean.”Clearly, the Japanese Press desires to keep Fukushima angst elevated through elaboration designed to exploit FUD…Fear, Uncertainty and Doubt.)
  • Fukushima’s home cooked meals have no detectible radioactive Cesium. Three of the prefecture’s cooperatives tested two days-worth of meals from 100 households, and all were below the detection limit of 1 Bq/kg. The survey has been performed annually since 2011. Over the 4-year period, checks have covered 600 households. In 2011, 10% were found to have detectible Cesium, 4.5% in 2012, and 3% in 2013. A Fukushima Cooperative official said, “Testing by the prefectural government and efforts by producers, among other factors, led to the decrease.” http://www.fukushimaminponews.com/news.html?id=480
  • The percentage of Iitate’s willing returnees increases. Iitate village is located at the further distance from F. Daiichi in the northwest contamination corridor. The entire community has experienced the Tokyo-mandated evacuation. In 2013, the Reconstruction Agency’s survey showed 21.3% of the residents were willing to return, but in 2014 it rose to 29.4%. 32.5% said they are undecided (down 3.6 points) and 26.5% said they will not return (down 4.3 points) A total of seven evacuated communities were surveyed in 2014, and five revealed the percentage of those wanting to return has increased. http://www.fukushimaminponews.com/news.html?id=479
  • Japan’s harmless research reactors were not exempt from the nuclear moratorium. Japan has roughly a dozen of these devices. There are two University reactors at Kinki and Kyoto Universities. They reactors produce so little heat at full power that no cooling systems are needed; in fact, there are no temperature increases in the surrounding room during operation. The Kinki reactor only makes one watt of power, and the Kyoto device 100 watts (a standard incandescent light bulb’s worth). The Tokyo-mandated idling of the reactors has left the universities in a state of bewilderment. One incredulous Kinki University professor said, “It is structurally impossible for a big accident like the one at Fukushima to occur at the Kinki University reactor.” Regardless, NRA Chairman Shunichi Tanaka points out that a research reactor is quite different from a normal nuclear reactor. He has called on the agency’s staff to “also think a little bit about pushing the screenings forward”. On the other hand, he stresses that safety must always be considered. (Aside – This is quite contradictory considering there is essentially zero chance of a nuclear accident with university reactors. First he says they are quite different from power plant reactors, then he makes a safety plea similar to those made concerning power plant nukes. What is he thinking? A college professor once told me that before making a provocative statement, always engage brain first! Tanaka would be well-served to keep this in mind. – End aside) University reactors are used for academic research and student training in the most-basic of nuclear operation. In addition to cessation of student training, experiments for medical therapies, reactor physics experimentation, and radiation testing have been stopped. Both universities have called for prompt restarts, but the NRA has essentially ignored them. Student training has continued at a great cost by sending them to Kyung Hee University in South Korea. Tetsuo Ito of Kinki University said, “This was the first time for us to do practical training at a nuclear reactor overseas.” Computers that simulate the inner workings of a nuclear reactor are, of course, another option. But, Shinsuke Yamanaka, a professor Osaka University, says, “It can’t be a substitute for the tension of handling the real thing. Even if we adopt a policy of not promoting nuclear power, universities will still need to produce graduates who work with nuclear energy. I’d like the NRA to conduct its screening with this reality in mind.” http://ajw.asahi.com/article/0311disaster/fukushima/AJ201503110041
  • Japan’s nuke watchdog Chief continues to stoke the fires of fear. This time, NRA Chief Tanaka says, “There have been quite a few accidents and problems at the Fukushima plant in the past year, and we need to face the reality that they are causing anxiety and anger among people in Fukushima. There are numerous risks that could cause various accidents and problems.” He added that he suspects the lessons from Fukushima may fade from memory through the passage of time, saying, “As regulators, we must not forget what we’ve learned from Fukushima.” http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2015/03/11/national/nra-chief-warns-of-ongoing-risks-at-wrecked-fukushima-no-1-plant/#.VQBEaKMcQdUhttp://english.kyodonews.jp/news/2015/03/340744.html (Comment – one loud antinuclear voice in Japan has already used the Chairman’s words to further fan the flames, as we shall see later in this Update.)
  • Tokyo Electric Co. (Tepco) struggles to recover financial stability. Over the past four years, Tepco has seen its considerable investment in nuclear powered electrical generation lose mightily. Of the six undamaged units in Fukushima Prefecture, the two at F. Daiichi (#5 and #6) will be turned into a training and research facility. The four unharmed units at F. Daini seem unlikely to restart due to severe local public and political outcry. In addition, the seven units at Kashiwazaki-Kariwa station (KK), Niigata Prefecture, have been idled due to the post-accident nuke moratorium. In order to compensate, Tepco restarted old fossil-fueled units, nearly doubling the company’s fuel costs per year. 2012 marked the first time Tepco was “in the red” financially. This spurred significant rate increases and a streamlining of staffing everywhere but with F. Daiichi. Fiscal 2014 was the first year the company showed a profit since 2011. However, a major reason for the profit was due to “make-shift” cost-cutting measures and major delays in long-overdue planned maintenance on the fossil-fueled units. Plus, Tepco will eventually have to begin repaying the subsidies extended by the government to provide the generous monthly compensation payments to Fukushima’s mandated evacuees. Tepco needs startups of at least some of the KK nukes to begin to see light at the end of this dark economic tunnel. With Niigata Governor Hirohiko Izumida’s unwavering dissent towards restarts, Tepco is facing a dire financial future. http://the-japan-news.com/news/article/0001991657
  • Tokyo signs a contract with local property owners in Okuma and Futaba. The government needs the land to store the huge amount of rural, detectibly radioactive materials generated through decontamination. While it but a small portion of the 16 square kilometers needed, it is an improvement over what has been the case until now. Roughly 2,400 people own plots inside the future facility, but procurement has not proceeded very well. The landowners want top dollar for their land, and most do not believe the materials will only be there for 30 years, which the government has made a legal commitment. Takashi Sugimoto, 73, an Okuma landowner said, “I’m sure they’re considering this site as a final storage destination for radioactive trash. I can’t trust them, no one can, about what will happen in 30 years’ time.” The Ministry says, “We understand that residents have concerns. But we have made this promise at the highest level.” http://english.kyodonews.jp/news/2015/03/340452.htmlhttp://www.japantoday.com/category/national/view/fukushima-residents-torn-over-nuclear-waste-storage-plan
  • Former NAIIC Chairman Yotaro Hatamura says Japan has learned nothing from Fukushima. The Nuclear Accident Independent Investigation Committee was created by the Japanese Diet in 2011. Its report was issued in July of 2012. The study included several speculations, such as the accident at unit #1 starting before the tsunami caused the full station black. Although the Nuclear Regulation Authority has proven that there is no substance to the supposition, Hatamura maintains “Sufficient investigations have not been conducted” and “Almost none of (our proposals) have been reflected”. He also made a left-handed swipe at the NRA, saying, “It does not appear that organizations to watch (government actions) are working properly…  There could always be lapses in oversight in safety assessments, and an accident will surely happen again.” As for restarts, Hatamura believes that they should “be declared only after sufficient preparations are made, such as conducting evacuation drills covering all residents living within 30 kilometers of each plant based on developed evacuation plans.” http://ajw.asahi.com/article/0311disaster/fukushima/AJ201503100048
  • Ex-PM Junichiro Koizumi continues to condemn Japan’s nuclear policy. In a not-surprising 4th Fukushima anniversary verbal fusillade, Koizumi said he was “dumbfounded” by present PM Shinzo Abe’s support of nuclear energy resumption in Japan. He also reiterated that he was shocked by Abe’s 2013 statement that the situation was under control, saying, “It is not under control at all. I cannot believe he would ever say something like that.” Koizumi added that Abe is being irrational by supporting restarts because “The chairman of the Nuclear Regulation Authority has said that even if nuclear power plants meet the NRA’s new regulation standards, that itself does not guarantee their safety.” In addition, the ex-PM asserted that nuclear is the “least cost-effective method of power generation.” He next broadsided Tokyo over the nuclear waste issue, “It is irresponsible for the government to make the decision and force other parties to obey it when the resumption of idled nuclear power plants is set to produce even more spent fuel.” Finally, he rejected the notion that nukes are needed to turn the nation’s economy around, saying, “The nation can see economic growth through natural sources of energy.” http://ajw.asahi.com/article/0311disaster/fukushima/AJ201503120038 (Comment – Koizumi has no idea that all energy sources trace their roots to the sun. The sun makes 100% of its energy from nuclear processes, including a tiny fraction from fission. Further, he must have no idea that a group of natural fission reactors generated energy on Gabon more than a million years ago. Bottom line…nuclear is natural. Mr. Koizumi…get yourself educated!)