Monthly Archives: March 2016

TEPCO draws fire after apologizing to Niigata panel


Fukushima 311 Watchdogs

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Niigata Governor Hirohiko Izumida, right, and Naomi Hirose, president of Tokyo Electric Power Co., hold a meeting at the Niigata prefectural government building in January.

NIIGATA–Even when they apologize, executives of Tokyo Electric Power Co. can still manage to draw additional criticism.

The executives, who hope to restart one of the largest nuclear power plants in the world in Niigata Prefecture, held talks here March 23 with a nuclear technology committee set up at the prefectural government.

Takafumi Anegawa, chief nuclear officer of TEPCO, offered an apology for the utility’s misleading responses to the committee’s repeated inquiries about the meltdowns at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant.

Specifically, Anegawa acknowledged that TEPCO could have declared the triple meltdown at the plant a few days after the crisis unfolded following the Great East Japan Earthquake and tsunami on March 11, 2011, instead of two months later.

TEPCO said late last…

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Radioactivity in the Ocean: Diluted, But Far from Harmless


[snip]

by Christina MacPherson 

Environment 360 7 April 2011 

With contaminated water from Japan’s crippled Fukushima nuclear complex continuing to pour into the Pacific, scientists are concerned about how that radioactivity might affect marine life. Although the ocean’s capacity to dilute radiation is huge, signs are that nuclear isotopes are already moving up the local food chain. by Elizabeth Grossman Over the past half-century, the world has seen its share of incidents in which radioactive material has been dumped or discharged into the oceans. A British nuclear fuels plant has repeatedly released radioactive waste into the Irish Sea, a French nuclear reprocessing plant has discharged similar waste into the English Channel, and for decades the Soviets dumped large quantities of radioactive material into the Arctic Ocean, Kara Sea, and Barents Sea. That radioactive material included reactors from at least 16 Soviet nuclear-powered submarines and icebreakers, and large amounts of liquid and solid nuclear waste from USSR military bases and weapons plants.

Still, the world has never quite seen an event like the one unfolding now off the coast of eastern Japan, in which thousands of tons of radioactively contaminated water from the damaged Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant are pouring directly into the ocean. And though the vastness of the ocean has the capacity to dilute nuclear contamination, signs of spreading radioactive material are being found off Japan, including the discovery of elevated concentrations of radioactive cesium and iodine in small fish several dozen miles south of Fukushima, and high levels of radioactivity in seawater 25 miles offshore.

How this continuing contamination will affect marine life, or humans, is still unclear. But scientists agree that the governments of Japan, the United States, and other nations on the Pacific Rim need to ramp up studies of how far this contamination might spread and in what concentrations.

“Given that the Fukushima nuclear power plant is on the ocean, and with leaks and runoff directly to the ocean, the impacts on the ocean will exceed those of Chernobyl, which was hundreds of miles from any sea,” said Ken Buesseler, senior scientist in marine chemistry at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution in Massachusetts. “My biggest concern is the lack of information. We still don’t know the whole range of radioactive compounds that have been released into the ocean, nor do we know their distribution. We have a few data points from the Japanese — all close to the coast — but to understand the full impact, including for fisheries, we need broader surveys and scientific study of the area.”

Buessler and other experts say this much is clear: Both short-lived radioactive elements, such as iodine-131, and longer-lived elements — such as cesium-137, with a half-life of 30 years — can be absorbed by phytoplankton, zooplankton, kelp, and other marine life and then be transmitted up the food chain, to fish, marine mammals, and humans. Other radioactive elements — including plutonium, which has been detected outside the Fukushima plant — also pose a threat to marine life. A key question is how concentrated will the radioactive contamination be. Japanese officials hope that a temporary fishing ban off the northeastern Japanese coast will be enough to avert any danger to human health until the flow of radioactive water into the sea can be stopped…….

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FULL ARTICLE
[link to nuclear-news.net] 
http://nuclear-news.net/2016/03/23/radioactivity-in-the-ocean-diluted-but-far-from-harmless/

FUKUSHIMA : A Nuclear Story: free documentary (shot between 2011-2015) in-depth exclusive interview with ex-Prime Minister Naoto Kan


link to http://www.nuclearstory.com
 www.nuclearstory.com

“A powerful documentary – shot from March 11th, 2011 through March 2015 – that sheds some light on what really happened at the Fukushima nuclear power plant after the 2011 earthquake and the tsunami that followed.

Open publication – Free publishing

An exclusive journey of four years inside the triple tragedy which hit Japan on March 11, 2011, following Italian Sky News reporter Pio d’Emilia who has lived in Japan for more than thirty years. Pio was in Tokyo the day of the earthquake. After travelling across all the municipalities hit by the tsunami and after illegally entering the so-called “exclusion zone” already established but loosely enforced by the government he actually reaches the gate of the nuclear plant. He would not be allowed inside the plant though: to do this, he had to wait until June 2013 when Tepco, the plant operator, allows the first pool of foreign journalists in.

In his quest to unfold Fukushima’s still on-going nuclear disaster, he collected over 300 hours of footage consisting of shocking images and interviews with local people, local authorities and officers, focusing on what he calls the social “collateral effects” of past and present decisions by the government and the nuclear community. An in-depth exclusive interview on what really happened at Fukushima with ex-Prime Minister Naoto Kan eventually tells us how Tokyo – and probably Japan – was saved from a much greater catastrophe by chance”

To Build a Robot to go, Where No Robot Has Gone Before (without dying)


One of many trial Robot Designs. So far, everyone has failed.


Re: Fukushima 5 Year Anniversary Today

If robots are still dying from radiation, what do you expect for people, nay-sayers?

[snip]

The robots sent into Fukushima have ‘died’
Not good…
BEC CREW 11 MAR 2016

The remote-controlled robots that were sent into the site of the 2011 meltdown at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant in Japan have reportedly ‘died’, thanks to incredibly high amounts of leaked radiation destroying their wiring.

The robots – which take years to manufacture – were designed to swim through the underwater tunnels of the now-defunct cooling pools, and remove hundreds of extremely dangerous blobs of melted fuel rods. But it looks like that’s not going to happen any time soon.



Five years on, and researchers from the Tokyo Electric Power Company (Tepco) – the Japanese utility that maintains the site – still can’t figure out how to clean up the highly dangerous radioactive water and melted fuel rods that remain on the site.

“Efforts to clean up Fukushima, which is considered the largest nuclear disaster since the Chernobyl accident in 1986, are under continued scrutiny after a series of blunders and Tepco’s admission that efforts in the short term to contain contamination may take as long as 30-40 years,” Peter Dockrill reported for us back in January, when the robots were first deployed.

It’s estimated that the team has so far only addressed 10 percent of the mess left behind by the meltdowns, and the pressure to get a move-on is certainly not going to go away any time soon, with news last December that the damaged plant is continuing to leak small amounts of radiation into the Pacific Ocean. Radioactive material has even been showing up on the west coast of the US.

One approach Tepco has taken is to build the world’s biggest ‘ice wall’ around the plant to stop the nearby groundwater being contaminated, but that’s yet to be completed, and it only stems the damage – it doesn’t clean up the mess that’s still sitting in there. 

“It is extremely difficult to access the inside of the nuclear plant,” Naohiro Masuda, Tepco’s head of decommissioning, told Reuters. “The biggest obstacle is the radiation.”

“The reactors continue to bleed radiation into the ground water and thence into the Pacific Ocean,” added Artie Gunderson, a former nuclear engineer who is not involved in the project. “When Tepco finally stops the groundwater, that will be the end of the beginning.”



Reactor 3, which is where our poor, recently deceased robots had been sent, contains far higher levels of radiation, and humans can’t get near it. It’s estimated that there are 566 fuel-rod assemblies that need to be removed from just this one reactor.

“The fuel rods melted through their containment vessels in the reactors, and no one knows exactly where they are now,” Reuters reports.

As soon as the robots got close to the reactors, the radiation destroyed their wiring and rendered them useless, causing long delays, Masuda told the press organisation, adding that because each robot has to be custom-built for each building, it takes two years to develop every single one.



It’s not yet clear if better, stronger robots are the answer to cleaning up the Reactor 3 building, it could be that the technology to build robots that are resistant to such high levels of radiation doesn’t actually exist, and the Tepco researchers will have to come up with some other solution. 

What we do know is this problem isn’t going away any time soon, and if leakages occur, it will affect us all, so all we can do is hope that the science will come through. In the meantime, you can watch the robots below – in happier times before they were destroyed – and marvel at how freaking cool they once were:

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FULL ARTICLE
[link to http://www.sciencealert.com] 

Fukushima 5 Year Anniversary Today


  • Has anything been fixed? no
  • Have they come up with any robots or decontamination devices in 5 years? no
  • Has the radiation decreased? no
  • Are people still living there? yes
  • Have they come up with a definable “clean up plan”? no
  • The news today has already started with these sad facts as their headline…..
  • 80% of radiation went into the Pacific Ocean…..

Today my thoughts are with the children, born and unborn that are stuck there, living there and growing up there….

Say No to Nuke

The ashes of half a dozen unidentified laborers ended up at a Buddhist temple in this town just north of the crippled Fukushima nuclear plant.


[snip]

Fukushima ‘Decontamination Troops’ Often Exploited, Shunned
The ashes of half a dozen unidentified laborers ended up at a Buddhist temple in this town just north of the crippled Fukushima nuclear plant. Some of the dead men had no papers, others left no emergency contacts. Their names could not be confirmed and no family members had been tracked down to claim their remains.
They were simply labeled “decontamination troops” — unknown soldiers in Japan’s massive cleanup campaign to make Fukushima livable again five years after radiation poisoned the fertile countryside.
The men were among the 26,000 workers — many in their 50s and 60s from the margins of society with no special skills or close family ties — tasked with removing the contaminated topsoil and stuffing it into tens of thousands of black bags lining the fields and roads. They wipe off roofs, clean out gutters and chop down trees in a seemingly endless routine.
Coming from across Japan to do a dirty, risky and undesirable job, the workers make up the very bottom of the nation’s murky, caste-like subcontractor system long criticized for labor violations. Vulnerable to exploitation and shunned by local residents, they typically work on three-to-six-month contracts with little or no benefits, living in makeshift company barracks. And the government is not even making sure that their radiation levels are individually tested.
“They’re cleaning up radiation in Fukushima, doing sometimes unsafe work, and yet they can’t be proud of what they do or even considered legitimate workers,” said Mitsuo Nakamura, a former day laborer who now heads a citizens’ group supporting decontamination laborers. “They are exploited by the vested interests that have grown in the massive project.”
Residents of still partly deserted towns such as Minamisoma, where 8,000 laborers are based, worry that neighborhoods have turned into workers’ ghettos with deteriorating safety. Police data shows arrests among laborers since 2011 have climbed steadily from just one to 210 last year, including a dozen yakuza, or gangsters, police official Katsuhiko Ishida told a prefectural assembly. Residents are spooked by rumors that some laborers sport tattoos linked with yakuza, and by reports that a suspect in serial killings arrested in Osaka last year had worked in the area.
Most of the men work for small subcontractors that are many layers beneath the few giants at the top of the construction food chain. Major projects such as this one are divided up among contractors, which then subcontract jobs to smaller outfits, some of which have dubious records.
The Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare examined more than 300 companies doing Fukushima decontamination work and found that nearly 70 committed violations in the first half of last year, including underpayment of wages and overtime and failure to do compulsory radiation checks. Those companies were randomly chosen among thousands believed to be working in the area.
“Violations are so widespread in this multilayer subcontract system. It’s like a whack-a-mole situation,” said Mitsuaki Karino, a city assemblyman in Iwaki, a Fukushima city where his civil group has helped workers with complaints about employers.
Karino said workers are sometimes charged for meals or housing they were told would be free, he said, and if they lose jobs or contracts aren’t renewed, some go homeless.
“It’s a serious concern, particularly for workers who don’t have families or lost ties with them,” he said.
“That’s how the construction industry has long operated. In order to accomplish decontamination, we need to rely on the practice,” said Tadashi Mouri, a health and labor ministry official in charge of nuclear workers’ health. He said the ministry has instructed top contractors to improve oversight of subcontractors.
Several arrests have been made in recent months over alleged labor violations.
A complaint filed by a worker with labor officials led to the October arrest of a construction company president who had allegedly dispatched workers to Fukushima under misleading circumstances. The investigation found that the worker had been offered pay of 17,000 yen ($150) per day, but after middlemen took a cut he was getting only 8,000 yen ($70).
In another case, a supervisor and a crane operator were arrested in July for alleged illegal dumping of radiated plant debris in Minamisoma. Five companies heading the project were suspended for six weeks.
Most workers keep their mouths shut for fear of losing their jobs. One laborer in a gray jacket and baggy pants, carrying cans of beer on his way home, said he was instructed never to talk to reporters.
A 62-year-old seasonal worker, Munenori Kagaya, said he had trouble finding jobs after he and his fellow workers fought for and won unpaid daily “danger” allowance of 10,000 yen ($88) for work in Tamura city in 2012.
Officials keep close tabs on journalists. Minutes after chatting with some workers in Minamisoma, Associated Press journalists received a call from a city official warning them not to talk to decontamination crews.
Beyond the work’s arduous nature, the men also face radiation exposure risks. Inhaling radioactive particles could trigger lung cancer, said Junji Kato, a doctor who provides health checks for some workers.
Although most laborers working in residential areas use protective gear properly, others in remote areas are not monitored closely, according to workers and Nakamura, the leader of the radiation workers support group. Many are not given compulsory training or education about dealing with radiation, he said.

 [end snip]

The Fukushima Cleanup Will Take Generations


[snip]
The Tōhoku tsunami of March 11, 2011, triggered a series of equipment failures leading to multiple meltdowns, explosions, and releases of radioactive material at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station, operated by Tokyo Electric Power Company. Five years after the second-worst nuclear accident in history (after Chernobyl), the cleanup team is still struggling to halt the buildup of contaminated water, and the techniques and equipment needed to locate, extract, and dispose of the melted fuel have yet to be developed. Given these challenges, many experts are convinced that the decommissioning process will take far longer than the official 40-year timetable—perhaps as long as a century.
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http://www.nippon.com/en/in-depth/a05202/?pnum=1