• A man has lived in the F. Daiichi “no-go” zone for more than two years. Naoto Matsumura defied government orders in 2012 and visited his Tomioka home to check on his farm’s dogs. He was struck by the plight of the abandoned neighborhood pets, and decided to remain and tend to all of them; including ducks, pigs ostriches, cattle, and a pony. The animals thrive today because of Matsumura. A Tokyo doctor has examined the man and says Matsumura’s body has the most contamination in Japan. He has no radiation-related health problems. Matsumura says, “The animals and I are staying here.” Because there are no laws forcing him to leave, he comes and goes from the no-go zone at will. http://www.goodnewsnetwork.org/just-one-man-remains-in-fukushima-radiation-zone-hes-feeding-all-the-pets-left-behind/  (Questions – Why has there been nothing in the major Japanese Press outlets about Matsumura? Why does the vast majority of the Japanese Press ignore the 53 families also living in the no-go zone, as reported here on March 16th?)
  • All fish caught outside F. Daiichi’s port continue to be safe for consumption. Six species of food fish were examined in late February. 70% showed no detectible Cesium-134 and 40% had no detectible Cs-137. Combined concentrations were non-detectible in 40%. The highest combined concentration of the Cesium isotopes was 66 Becquerels per kilogram. Japan’s safety limit for consumption is 100 Bq/kg. http://www.tepco.co.jp/en/nu/fukushima-np/f1/smp/2015/images/fish02_150317-e.pdf
  • Sixty percent of Fukushima Prefecture believes Japan is forgetting the nuke accident. This is 7% more than a similar survey in 2012. Specifically, 59.3% said they felt public memory was wearing thin with time, indicating that the government should do more to keep the crisis fresh in everyone’s mind. 61.3% said misunderstandings about radiation are continuing and 71.6% said the current understanding of the situation by the public is incorrect. Nearly 82% said there appears to be no end in sight for misplaced radiation concerns outside the prefecture. http://www.fukushimaminponews.com/news.html?id=482
  • Five idled Japanese nuclear units will be decommissioned. The Kansai Electric Co. (Kepco) board decided to scrap units #1 and #2 at the Mihama station, and Japan Atomic Power did the same for unit #1 at Tsuruga station, all of which are in Fukui Prefecture. The other two are Kyushu Electric’s Genkai unit #1 in Saga Prefecture and Shimane #1 in Matsue Prefecture. Although most of the Press coverage blames the decisions on the age of the units being greater than the recommended 40-year licensing limit, it seems that all five were actually victims of economics. Each has a maximum electrical output of less than 560 megawatts, which is small by today’s standards for base-load generators. The cost of upgrades needed to meet Japan’s new, more-rigid safety regulations would be more than the anticipated profits of operating any of the five units for 20 years. At present, licensing can be extended once for a 20 year period. In addition, the post-Fukushima national effort to conserve electricity makes the units unnecessary at peak demand. Kepco president Makato Yagi said, “We decided to decommission Mihama’s Nos. 1 and 2 reactors after making a comprehensive assessment of the technology needed for safety measures and construction costs.”  http://the-japan-news.com/news/article/0002011860http://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/english/news/20150317_19.htmlhttp://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/english/news/20150318_20.html  Despite the obvious cause being economics, most of Japan’s largely antinuclear Press says all five are so old that they are not capable of being refurbished under the new regulations. They also add that the decisions were political, pointing to pressure from the current government under Shinzo Abe. Japan Times says, “By picking off aging reactors and carrying out safety screening of newer ones before resuming operations, it [the Abe administration] hopes to win-over the public, which according to opinion polls remains wary.” Mainichi Shimbun echoes, “By closing at least some reactors and carrying out safety screening of every reactor before it is allowed to go back on line, the government aims to reassure a Japanese public still wary of nuclear power’s risks.” http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2015/03/17/national/three-aging-nuclear-reactors-in-fukui-prefecture-to-be-scrapped/#.VQgcJ6McQdUhttp://mainichi.jp/english/english/newsselect/news/20150317p2g00m0dm064000c.html
  • Nursing homes should shelter the elderly during a nuke accident. This is the opinion of Ken Takagi, head of a Nahara facility at the time of the Tokyo-mandated evacuation order. Speaking to a UN disaster preparedness conference in Sendai, Takagi said, “There is an option to not evacuate, but to hunker down instead.” He says that some of the residents he accompanied as they evacuated from location to location fell ill, and others suffered early death some time later. Takagi recounted the chaotic events that happened when moving patients as soon as the evacuation order was invoked on March 12, 2011. He says he has fretted over the decision to comply with the order ever since because merely placing the frail elderly in a vehicle for movement can be dangerous. He pointed to another nursing home within the exclusion, in Iitate, zone that did not immediately evacuate and subsequently moved the patients in a safe, orderly fashion. Unlike the Nahara experience, the “Iitate Home” has not shown elevated death rates over the years since 3/11/11. He concluded, “I think the best way to protect (facility users’) lives is to block off exposure from radiation outside the facility and keep the users there until a safe evacuation route is secured, then move them quickly.” http://mainichi.jp/english/english/newsselect/news/20150317p2a00m0na010000c.html
  • There’s a new antinuclear booklet on Fukushima evacuees. It was distributed at the UN disaster preparedness conference in Sendai City, which concluded on Wednesday.
    The 70-page “10 Lessons from Fukushima” was assembled by the antinuclear Japan Center for International Cooperation (JANIC) to document what JANIC feels are challenging Fukushima evacuees. JANIC Chair Masaaki Ohashi said, “We must share the knowledge and experiences of Fukushima. We want the residents of nations that will be building nuclear reactors to be familiar with the contents of this booklet.” The booklet says people must flee areas threatened with imminent danger; people affected by disasters have the right to a comprehensive health examination and disclosure of information; local agricultural, fisheries and forest products be carefully checked for contamination to ensure their safety; complete decontamination is not possible; and how taxpayers will bear compensation costs. The booklet has Japanese, English, Chinese, and Korean versions. http://ajw.asahi.com/article/0311disaster/fukushima/AJ201503180061
  • Completion of the F. Daiichi “ice-wall” is further delayed. The 1.5 kilometer-long project will surround the four damaged F. Daiichi units and make an essentially impermeable shield against groundwater intrusion, all the way down to the underlying bedrock. Installation of the in-ground freezing units was supposed to begin this month, but has been postponed for about 30 days due to the development of upgraded safety procedures following the deaths of two Fukushima workers earlier this year. Further, Tepco needs to ask the Nuclear Regulation Authority for permission to begin, which has yet to happen. http://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/english/news/20150317_02.html
  • The Sendai nuke restarts move a step closer. On Wednesday, Tokyo’s nuke watchdog approved “detailed design change” documentation for unit #1. The next step is for owner Kyushu Electric to apply for an NRA site inspection of the systems affected by the design upgrades. Kyushu also wants to submit the same sort of design-change documentation for unit #2 and the common systems between the two, sometime in April. Kepco wants the common systems analyzed first. http://jen.jiji.com/jc/eng?g=eco&k=2015031800498