Tepco to issue all radiation data at damaged plant — NHK World

” Tokyo Electric Power Company says it will release all radiation data taken at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant to improve information disclosure.

TEPCO made the announcement on Monday after mounting criticism about its handling of tainted rainwater leaking into the sea.

Its workers had been aware since April last year that radiation levels in a drainage channel at the No.2 reactor building rose every time it rained. But it did not make the problem public for months.

The workers were worried that it might impact talks with local farmers about a plan to discharge treated groundwater into the sea.

TEPCO will name an executive officer posted to the plant who is responsible for communicating information to the public.

President Naomi Hirose said his company will implement measures that take into account the public’s viewpoint. ”

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Technology that gives peek inside wrecked Fukushima reactors faces challenges — The Japan Times

” YOKOHAMA – The cutting-edge technology was billed as a way to decipher where, exactly, the morass of nuclear fuel might sit at the bottom of reactors in the Fukushima nuclear power plant that went into multiple meltdowns four years ago.

But what went wrong, even in a simple demonstration for reporters Friday for the ¥500 million project, was a sobering reminder of the enormous challenges that lie ahead for the decommissioning of the Fukushima No. 1 facility.

Muons are cosmic ray subatomic particles so tiny they go through almost anything except for so-called heavy elements like uranium and plutonium used for nuclear fuel. They can help present a picture of what’s inside an object, similar to the way doctors use X-rays, and have been used to study the Egyptian pyramids, the insides of volcanoes and ship cargo at ports.

The ideal scenario goes like this: Two giant walls more than two stories high will be set up right next to each reactor to shoot out muons so that data from how they scatter after hitting what’s inside, picked up by sensors, can be analyzed. Such image-mapping is possible because muons will bend at different angles, depending on the material they hit.

But a programming glitch could not be fixed in time for Friday’s demonstration at Toshiba’s research center, near Tokyo, to show any image, even a mock-up, from the muons.

All reporters got to see was the huge piece of equipment, metal with lots of wirings and blinking little lights, in a giant garage-like building, and on its side, not straight up as it will be when put to use at the plant.

Experts have long said that what’s crucial for decommissioning is getting an image of the nuclear fuel after the March 2011 tsunami crippled backup generators at Fukushima No. 1, setting off the worst nuclear catastrophe since Chernobyl, Ukraine, in 1986.

No one knows where the molten fuel debris lies, and in what shape or state. Tokyo Electric Power Co., which operates the facility, has said it likely sank to the bottom of the plant. But the fuel could possibly have escaped even beyond the containment facility to the outside environment.

Tadashi Yotsuyanagi, an official in charge of the muon project at Toshiba Corp., acknowledged radiation will be an obstacle for people doing the construction work to set up the walls. High exposure to radiation is unhealthy — and sometimes fatal.

But once the image is relayed to a distant computer, studying that will not require people to be near radiation, a plus of using muon technology for studying nuclear plants, according to Adrian Hillier, an expert on muons at the STFC Rutherford Appleton Laboratory in Britain.

Toshiba plans to start setting up the “muon trackers” at No. 1 sometime after October, but before next March.

The Japanese electronics giant, which owns Westinghouse Electric Co. of the U.S., is one of the main companies behind Japan’s nuclear industry, including Fukushima. Toshiba has been working on the muon technology from right after the disaster, with the help of the Los Alamos National Laboratory in the U.S.

But Yotsuyanagi acknowledged the technology will not be able to get the complete image toward the bottom of the reactor. He also said heavy radiation in the area would throw the sensors off, although that can be figured into the calculations of the scattered muons.

David Ireland, a professor who heads the Nuclear Physics Group at the University of Glasgow, said muons may be the only way to probe inside atomic reactors.

“There are not really any other noninvasive options that will allow inspection,” he said in an email. ”

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British robots glimpse inside the Fukushima plant — The Telegraph

” Japan may be obsessed with robots, but it is a British company that has solved the “impossible” problem of visualising the radiation leaks inside the crippled reactor buildings at Fukushima.

State-of-the-art British imaging technology has been deployed at Japan’s crippled Fukushima nuclear plant to overcome problems that Japanese engineers declared to be insurmountable.

Designed by Cumbria-based Createc, N-Visage cameras have been mounted on remote-controlled drones and caterpillar-tracked robots that can navigate the insides of the three reactor buildings that suffered melt-downs after an earthquake and tsunami hit Fukushima in 2011.

Coupled with unique software, the £200,000 system is able to create a real-time, three-dimensional image of the area being surveyed and identify “hot-spots” of radioactivity.

More than four years after the second-worst nuclear accident in history, radiation levels within the structures remain too high for humans to enter.

British nuclear experts help to decommission Fukushima

That has severely hampered efforts to determine the problems that need to be solved to safely decommission the reactors and clean up the site. Experts have already estimated that process will take three decades but progress to date has been slow.

Tokyo Electric Power, the operator of the plant, was only able to confirm on Thursday previous suspicions that nearly all the fuel from the No. 1 reactor at the plant has melted and fallen into the containment vessel. Two more reactors appear to have experienced similar fates and Tepco is now conducting further tests to confirm that assumption.

“There was some scepticism from Tepco when we were first introduced to their representatives in the UK in April 2012, but they very quickly saw the possibilities”, said Dr Matt Mellor, director of Createc.

“One of their guys said it was like finding a Picasso in the loft because their experts had told them that what we do was impossible”, he added.

Abandoned towns around Fukushima plant

Working in tandem with nuclear unit of Hitachi-GE Nuclear Energy, Createc engineers first visited the Fukushima plant in 2013.

“It was a shocking sight”, said Dr Mellor. “Even more than a year after the tsunami, the damage to the reactors was clear. Vehicles were still laying around the site, fences had been crushed, storage tanks had been flattened and radiation levels in the immediate area of the reactors was still very high.

“Nuclear sites are usually tidy and organised because they have to be, so it was clear this was going to be a major challenge from the outset”, he added.

As well as using remote-controlled vehicles to get the N-Visage system into the damaged buildings, engineers drilled holes through the roof and lowered imaging equipment into the interior.

Createc has permitted Japanese nuclear engineers to undertake a “virtual walk” through the plant and has mapped areas with the very highest concentrations of radiation, which will in the future enable engineers to shield and isolate such “hot spots”.

“It has blown the socks off the engineers at Fukushima,” said Pete Woolaghan, a director of Createc. “We have been able to give them an accurate and exact image of the dose environment that they are faced with, which is enabling them to formulate plans with far more certainty and safety.

“Previously, they were working with educated guesses”.

A bus ride through Japan’s nuclear wilderness

The N-Visage system has been deployed at plants that are undergoing decommissioning processes in the UK, including Sellafield, and has attracted interest from the US nuclear industry.

The Japanese government has this month announced plans to decommission five nuclear reactors, the first time that Japanese plants will have been dismantled. With limited experience and capabilities in this specialist area, Createc and other British firms are anticipating an increase in opportunities in Japan. ”

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Commentary: Fukushima laments fading memories of nuclear disaster — The Asahi Shimbun

” FUTABA, Fukushima Prefecture–A daily calendar pad on a living room wall in a private home in this northeastern community still showed the fateful date: “March 11, 2011.”

All of Futaba’s 7,000 or so residents left the town after the Great East Japan Earthquake and tsunami, which struck on that date, triggered a triple meltdown at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant it partially hosts. The residents remain evacuated because of high radiation levels.

I was accompanying Kazuo Sato, a 73-year-old evacuee, during a temporary return to his home in Futaba along with staffers of TV Asahi Corp.

Trees in his yard were found uprooted by wild boars. Rat droppings were seen littering his home floors. A wardrobe closet and a TV remained toppled.

Sato said he doesn’t feel like making repairs to his dilapidated home, although he comes to visit it several times a year.

At any rate, the area in which his house stands has been designated a site for an interim storage facility, where radioactive soil and other debris, contaminated by fallout from the nuclear disaster, will eventually be collected. When he thinks about that, he almost feels flattened by the weight of reality, which dictates he will never be able to return to his former peaceful life, Sato said.

He said he was used to seeing his town ebullient with the construction and operation of the nuclear plant since he was in his 20s.

“I never imagined the nuclear plant, which brought liveliness to our town, could bare its teeth and turn on us this fiercely,” Sato said with a sigh. “During the last four years, we have literally been trampled upon and kicked around”–a Japanese idiom for a string of misfortunes.

120,000 STILL EVACUATED

Sato fled to the nearby town of Kawamata immediately following the quake, with little more than the clothes on his back. He was unable to contact his son, then a 41-year-old post office worker, who was likely swept away by the tsunami. The son remains unaccounted for to this day.

That was the end of a joyful life for his family of six, comprising Sato and his wife, his son and his wife, and two grandchildren.

His son looks down at Sato and his wife from a photograph in a corner of a room in a temporary housing unit in the nearby city of Iwaki, where they have lived for three years.

“The winter cold is hard on me because the walls and the floors are so thin,” Sato said. “We go shopping at a supermarket, but when we stock up on a lot of things, people view us temporary housing occupants as ‘nuclear disaster upstarts’ who are profiteering from compensation payments. That’s also sad.”

He added, “We have lost our home and our son and, as if that were not enough, our hometown is being turned into an accumulation site for radioactive soil. I just hope people will understand, if only a little, about how we feel.”

The town government of Futaba has been relocated to Iwaki. Futaba residents currently remain evacuated in 39 prefectures across Japan, from Hokkaido to Okinawa, according to Shiro Izawa, the 56-year-old mayor of the town.

Izawa made what he described as a “heart-rending decision” in January when he agreed to accept an interim storage facility in Futaba following talks with the central and prefectural governments.

“I made that decision out of the belief that one community or another in Fukushima Prefecture has to take in the radioactive soil and other debris collected within the prefecture,” he said. “A law has been enacted to the effect that the debris should be taken out of the prefecture for final disposal in 30 years or less. I will definitely make sure the central government keeps its word.”

Izawa said he is being disquieted by the fading memory of the nuclear disaster.

“Some 120,000 residents of Fukushima Prefecture remain evacuated,” the mayor said. “That reality is likely being left to oblivion, while nuclear power plants in other parts of Japan are moving toward restarts, even though host local governments remain underprepared for emergency evacuations.”

It came to light recently that Tokyo Electric Power Co., operator of the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant, kept the public in the dark about a long-running leak of radioactive water into the ocean outside the crippled plant. Izawa described that as a telltale sign of the way the memory of the disaster is fading away.

‘FEMA’ NEVER TOOK SHAPE

There are also disquieting signs in the Nagatacho political district of Tokyo.

During the early phase of the nuclear disaster four years ago, Japan’s central government fell into a great confusion over which organization–the Self-Defense Forces, police or firefighters–should take the lead in dealing with the situation. Some politicians argued that a powerful organization should definitely be established to deal with emergencies.

That led ruling and opposition party members in the Upper House to approve a supplementary resolution when a decision was made in June 2012 to establish a new Nuclear Regulation Authority.

The resolution said the government should refer to the U.S. Federal Emergency Management Agency and other examples to fundamentally review its organization for dealing with large-scale disasters, including nuclear disasters, and should take necessary measures on the basis of the review.

In reality, however, the creation of a new organization for crisis management barely gained any traction, partly because of a turf war between government departments. Politicians today seldom speak about a Japanese version of FEMA, although another nuclear disaster could cause similar chaos to be repeated.

That also illustrates the sad reality of the fading memory of the disaster. ”

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36 years of three mile island’s lethal lies … and still counting — Harvey Wasserman via Ecowatch

Harvey Wasserman: ” The lies that killed people at Three Mile Island 36 years ago on March 28, 1979 are still being told at Chernobyl, Fukushima, Diablo Canyon, Davis-Besse … and at TMI itself.

As the first major reactor accident that was made known to the public is sadly commemorated, and as the global nuclear industry collapses, let’s count just 36 tip-of-the iceberg ways the nuclear industry’s radioactive legacy continues to fester:

1. When about half of TMI’s fuel melted on March 28, 1979, the owners, industry and regulators all denied it, and continued to deny it until robotic cameras showed otherwise.

2. Early signs that such an accident could happen had already surfaced at the Davis-Besse reactor in Ohio, which was also manufactured by Babcock & Wilcox. TMI’s owners later sued Davis-Besse’s owners for not warning them about what had happened.

3. When TMI’s radiation poured into the atmosphere the industry had (and still has) no idea how much escaped, but denied it was of any significance even though stack monitors failed and dosimeters in the field indicated high releases (plant owners claimed they were “defective”). Only due to the work of the great Dr. Ernest Sternglass, recently departed, was public attention turned to the potential harm this radiation could do.

4. When animals nearby suffered mass mutations and death, the industry denied it. When the plague was confirmed by the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture and the Baltimore News-American, the industry denied the damage could be related to radiation.

5. Industry “experts” assured the public radiation doses to downwinders were similar to a single x-ray, but ignored well-established findings from Dr. Alice Stewart and others that a single x-ray to a pregnant woman could double the chances of childhood leukemia among her offspring.

6. Industry “experts” ignored the reality that radioactive fallout can come down in clumps rather than spread evenly, and scoffed at findings from neighborhood surveys done by Jane Lee, Mary Osbourne and others showing major outbreaks of cancer in certain downwind neighborhoods.

7. When humans nearby were born with Down’s Syndrome and other mutations, and then adults began dying, the industry denied it, then denied any connection to TMI, but then did pay at least $15 million in out-of-court settlements to affected families on condition they not speak about it in public.

8. When Chernobyl exploded in 1986, Soviet officials said nothing as massive clouds of radiation poured across Europe and into the jet stream that would carry it to the U.S. within 10 days.

9. The U.S. government did nothing of sufficient scale to monitor Chernobyl’s radiation as it came here, and did nothing to warn the public to avoid milk and other foods that might concentrate that radiation, and has repeated that behavior in the wake of Fukushima.

10. A massive bird die-off at the Pt. Reyes National Seashore came with the arrival of the Chernobyl cloud and was documented by resident ornithologist Dr. Dave DeSante, whose findings were ignored by the government; soon thereafter, DeSante lost his job.

11. Chernobyl’s radiation was tracked all across Europe where it continues to irradiate plants, animals and humans. The most credible study of Chernobyl’s human death toll put it at 985,000 in 2010.

12. Chernobyl still seethes with radiation, but the massive, hugely expensive movable sarcophagus meant to cover it is not yet in place.

13. When fire runs through the wooded areas around Chernobyl, massive quantities of radiation are re-released into the atmosphere.

14. Fifteen Soviet-era reactors remain operable in Ukraine, much of which is now a de facto war zone, raising serious doubts about what will happen to them and the rest of the downwind human race.

15. The Japanese government was repeatedly and passionately warned by thousands of citizens for more than 40 years that putting reactors in a tsunami zone surrounded by earthquake faults was not a good idea. They were dismissed as “alarmists” and repeatedly assured that the reactors at Fukushima and elsewhere around Japan could come to no harm.

16. Despite repeated public protests, when Fukushima Dai’ichi was built an 85-foot-high bluff was taken down so units 1 through 4 could operate more cheaply at sea level; as widely predicted, they were massively flooded on March 11, 2011.

17. Critical backup batteries meant to keep the reactor cores cool in case of melt-downs were placed in basements which were thoroughly flooded when the tsunami hit Fukushima. Workers later frantically took batteries from nearby parked cars to try to power up the stricken cooling systems and other critical components.

18. The exact whereabouts of the melted cores from Fukushima Units 1, 2 and 3 remain unknown.

19. After a half-century of industry assurances that American reactors could not explode, four General Electric reactors blew up at Fukushima.

20. By estimate of Hiroaki Koide, assistant professor at Kyoto University Research Reactor Institute, some 30 times as much Cesium 137 has been released at Fukushima as was released during the bombing of Hiroshima.

21. Some 300 tons of radioactive water continues to pour into the Pacific Ocean from Fukushima every day.

22. Thousands of highly radioactive spent fuel rods remain scattered around the Fukushima site; thousands are also still suspended in damaged spent fuel pools 100 feet in the air atop weakened buildings above shattered, melted reactors.

23. A petition signed by more than 150,000 people demanding that Fukushima be taken over by the world community was submitted to the United Nations on November 7, 2013, but has yet to receive a response of any kind.

24. Fukushima is still owned and operated by Tokyo Electric Power, which built it despite massive public opposition and continues to mismanage it while turning the “clean up” into a profit center, with a labor force thoroughly infiltrated by organized crime.

25. Like Fukushima, California’s Diablo Canyon reactors were built despite huge public protests, and sit in a tsunami zone surrounded by earthquake faults whose potential seismic power exceeds Diablo’s structural capacities, according numerous experts, including NRC official Dr. Michael Peck, who worked at Diablo for the commission.

26. A continual stream of revelations indicate illegal collusion on safety and other issues at Diablo between its owners, Pacific Gas & Electric, and the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, as well as the California Public Utilities Commission.

27. Diablo’s owners almost certainly violated regulatory requirements and the law in using components within the reactors that were not tested to meet seismic standards.

28. Earthquakes have already damaged at least two U.S. reactors, at Ohio’s Perry site and at North Anna, Virginia (that quake also damaged the Washington Monument in our nation’s capital).

29. Public money designated for use by PG&E to upgrade piping systems was diverted to executive bonuses, according to the Los Angeles Times. In 2010 unrepaired gas lines, which were known to have been deteriorating for a decade, blew up in San Bruno, killing eight people and doing millions of dollars in damage. Such a disaster at Diablo Canyon could kill countless thousands and do untold damage to the national economy and global ecology.

30. Diablo Canyon’s once-through cooling system violates state and federal water quality regulations by dumping huge quantities of hot, radioactive liquid into the Pacific, killing billions of marine creatures while unbalancing the ocean ecology and contributing to climate chaos.

31. Like most other old U.S. reactors, Ohio’s Davis-Besse is literally crumbling, with the concrete in its safety shield being pulverized by continual freezing, yielding ever-growing holes in the structure.

32. Like most other old U.S. reactors, Diablo Canyon, Davis-Besse, five reactors in Illinois and many more cannot compete in electricity markets against wind power, solar panels, other renewable sources or increased efficiency, and would shut down were it not for massive public subsidies.

33. Ohio’s Public Utilities Commission is being asked by FirstEnergy, Davis-Besse’s owner, for subsidies amounting to more than $3 billion to keep open that decrepit reactor, which opened in 1978, and the Sammis coal burner, which is even older.

34. Wisconsin’s Kewaunee reactor has shut for purely economic reasons despite being fully amortized and having no apparent outstanding maintenance or engineering crises.

35. California’s San Onofre reactors were shut in part due to violations of licensing requirements that are mirrored at both Diablo Canyon and Davis-Besse, where shut-downs could be required by law. Let’s hope …

36. As we commemorate this tragic anniversary, we must note that this list of reactor nightmares could go very very far past 36. But let’s hope it doesn’t take that many more years to realize the folly of this failed technology.

In honor of the many many victims of Three Mile Island, and of the great Dr. Sternglass and so many dedicated experts and activists, we must turn this sad litany into the action needed to shut down ALL the world’s reactors so we don’t have to experience this nightmare yet again.

The lives we save will be our own … and those of our children … and theirs … ”

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Setback at Fukushima No. 1 plant threatens reactor 3 rod removal — The Japan Times

” Tokyo Electric Power Co. has disclosed that a 35-ton piece of machinery debris might be resting on the inner gate of the spent fuel pool for reactor 3 of the Fukushima No. 1 power plant and that the gate is slightly out of position.

Tepco said Thursday that a fuel-handling machine dislodged during the March 2011 quake, tsunami and meltdown-triggered hydrogen explosions is touching one of two gates that stand between the pool and the reactor containment vessel.

The utility confirmed by underwater camera that both of the 8-meter-high, 1.6-meter-wide gates are slightly out of position but said the pool remains properly sealed due to water pressure and does not appear to be leaking.

A plan to remove the debris is being hammered out. If the gates are damaged, it might trigger a water leak from the pool, which contains 566 spent fuel assemblies, the utility said.

Tepco was planning to finish debris removal at the No. 3 reactor pool by the end of June and start removing the old fuel rods by the end of September. Tepco said it is not clear whether the latest setback will change that. ”

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