NRA slows plan to reuse contaminated soil — SimplyInfo.org

” Japan’s Environment Ministry had a plan. They were going to solve the problem of the massive piles of radioactive soil but reusing it. One plan they described was using it as the base in roads. They didn’t provide much detail on how this would work or how it would not end up leaching contamination to the wider environment.

Japan’s nuclear regulator (NRA) is required to review any act by another agency that involves radiation exposures to the public. Now the NRA has requested a detailed plan before any review would begin. They want details about how this soil would be prevented from being used in residential areas or where children would be exposed.

This may have effectively put a stop to the Environment Ministry plan. Their goal appeared to be to declassify large amounts of contaminated soil and just make it go away however possible. NRA’s requirements may be too inconvenient to continue with that plan. ”

by SimplyInfo.org

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Fuel removal at Fukushima reactor again faces delay — The Asahi Shimbun

” Work to retrieve spent nuclear fuel in the No. 3 reactor building storage pool of the crippled Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant will again be postponed due to a delay in clearing radioactive debris at the site.

TEPCO planned to begin removing 566 spent nuclear fuel assemblies in the storage pool in January 2018. However, the government and the plant operator, Tokyo Electric Power Co., decided on the postponement, sources said on Dec. 22. They will decide on a new timetable in a few weeks.

The work was initially scheduled for fiscal 2015, but had been pushed back because of high radiation readings in and around the No. 3 reactor building. The building was heavily damaged by a hydrogen explosion in the days following the disaster, triggered by the 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake and tsunami.

TEPCO had attempted to lower radiation levels by clearing the radioactive debris remaining at the site.

But the clearing work took longer than expected due to contamination being more widespread than previously thought, forcing TEPCO and the government to again put off the retrieval.

Radiation levels have now dropped as almost all of wreckage at the site has been cleared, TEPCO said. The government and TEPCO have said fuel retrieval at the No. 1 and No. 2 reactor buildings will start in fiscal 2020 or later. ”

by The Asahi Shimbun

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Work starts in Fukushima on intermediate waste facility — The Asahi Shimbun

” The Environment Ministry on Nov. 15 started building a facility in Fukushima Prefecture that will store radiation-contaminated debris for up to 30 years, despite obtaining permission for only 11 percent of the site.

The 16-square-kilometer storage facility is expected to hold up to 22 million cubic meters of materials contaminated by radioactive fallout from the disaster at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant in March 2011.

“I hope that you take pride in this project and cooperate to construct the facility,” Tadahiko Ito, a vice environment minister, told workers.

The facility, which will span the towns of Futaba and Okuma, is expected to start accepting, sorting and storing the debris in autumn 2017 at the earliest, more than two-and-a-half years later than the initial schedule of January 2015.

The project has been delayed because the ministry has faced difficulties buying or borrowing land for the project.

In fact, only 445 of the 2,360 landowners of plots at the site have agreed to sell or lend their properties to the ministry for the storage facility as of the end of October.

Many of the reluctant landowners, who possess 89 percent of the land, fear the contaminated waste will remain at the facility well beyond 30 years.

The government has worked out a bill stipulating that contaminated materials kept in the intermediate storage facility will be moved out of Fukushima Prefecture in 2045. However, the government has yet to decide on the location of the final disposal site.

A huge cleanup operation after the triple meltdown at the Fukushima nuclear plant collected tons of radioactive soil and debris.

In March 2015, the ministry borrowed land and created a “temporary storage place” within a 16-square-km site on an experimental basis.

However, only about 70,000 cubic meters of the waste has been taken to the temporary storage site as of the end of October. The remaining waste, exceeding 10 million cubic meters, is being tentatively stored at about 150,000 locations in the prefecture.

“If the transportation of contaminated materials to the intermediate storage facility proceeds, the waste currently stored in residential areas and at company compounds will be transported there,” said an official of the Fukushima prefectural government’s section in charge of decontamination. ”

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Last cover removed from crippled reactor in Fukushima — The Asahi Shimbun; Crippled Fukushima reactor fully exposed for first time since meltdown — RT

The Asahi Shimbun:

” The No. 1 reactor at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant is completely exposed for the first time in five years after the last of the temporary protective covers for the crippled structure was removed Nov. 10.

The next step will be to extract nuclear fuel inside the reactor building, which was wrecked by a hydrogen explosion in the early stages of the March 2011 nuclear disaster.

The covers were installed the following October as a temporary measure against the spread of radioactive substances after the triple meltdown triggered by the Great East Japan Earthquake and tsunami.

A large crane lifted off the 20-ton cover, the last of the 18 panels installed, around 6 a.m. on Nov. 10.

Plant operator Tokyo Electric Power Co. began removing the covers one by one in September.

The 392 fuel assemblies are stored in the spent nuclear fuel pool inside the building. Melted fuel also remains inside the reactor.

TEPCO will assess the state of the reactor building’s interior in efforts to remove debris from the collapse of a roof over the spent nuclear fuel pool.

It will take precautions to prevent dust containing radioactive substances from being stirred up by shrouding the reactor building with tarpaulins. ”

by Kohei Tomida

source with aerial view video of uncovered Unit 1 reactor

* * *

RT:

” Fukushima’s Nuclear Plant reactor No. 1 has been fully exposed for the first time since the March 2011 tragedy, after the utility company safely removed the last cover sheet of the temporary protective construction.

Tokyo Electric Power Co. (TEPCO) used an industrial crane to lift the last of its 18 protective panels Thursday. Each of the panels weighs around 20 tons and measure 23 by 17 meters.

The protective cover was erected in October 2011 as a temporary measure to halt a radiation leak following a meltdown caused by a powerful earthquake and tsunami in March 2011. The dismantling of the panels started in July 2015 and was concluded on Thursday.

At Unit 1, rubble from the damaged building caused by the hydrogen explosion remains scattered and needs to be removed. The entire site is highly contaminated and will now be covered with tarpaulins to avoid the spread of radioactive waste. TEPCO is using anti-scattering agents to keep the dust down. Small pieces of rubble that can create dust are being vacuumed up while mist sprinklers are being used inside the building to keep radiation under control.

TEPCO next plans to remove 392 fuel assemblies from the spent pool and clean out the melted nuclear fuel from inside the building, NHK news reported. The utility company is assessing the level of radiation before continuing the cleanup process.

Scientists are also installing the necessary equipment to complete fuel extraction which will only start in four years. Fuel removal from Unit 1’s depleted fuel pool is scheduled to begin around March 2021, according to TEPCO’s Mid- and Long-Term Roadmap that was revised in June 2015.

In March 2011, a tsunami destroyed emergency generators at the plant. They had been cooling the reactors. The tsunami led to three nuclear meltdowns and the release of radioactive material. In Reactor 1, overheating caused the creation of hydrogen gas. On March 12, an explosion in Unit 1 destroyed the upper part of the building.

TEPCO’s decommission plan for the Fukushima nuclear power plant implies at least a 30-40 year period before the consequences of the meltdown are fully eliminated. So far the clean-up efforts have already cost Japan in excess of $21 billion. According to the latest estimates from the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry, the decommissioning costs will top $105 billion. ”

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**Fukushima: Deep trouble — Robert Hunziker via CounterPunch

This article is a must read.

” The Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant disaster may go down as one of history’s boundless tragedies and not just because of a nuclear meltdown, but rather the tragic loss of a nation’s soul.

Imagine the following scenario: 207 million cardboard book boxes, end-to-end, circumnavigating Earth, like railroad tracks, going all the way around the planet. That’s a lot of book boxes. Now, fill the boxes with radioactive waste. Forthwith, that’s the amount of radioactive waste stored unsheltered in one-tonne black bags throughout Fukushima Prefecture, amounting to 9,000,000 cubic metres

But wait, there’s more to come, another 13,000,000 cubic metres of radioactive soil is yet to be collected. (Source: Voice of America News, Problems Keep Piling Up in Fukushima, Feb. 17, 2016).

And, there’s still more, the cleanup operations only go 50-100 feet beyond roadways. Plus, a 100-mile mountain range along the coast and hillsides around Fukushima are contaminated but not cleansed at all. As a consequence, the decontaminated land will likely be re-contaminated by radioactive runoff from the hills and mountains.

Indubitably, how and where to store millions of cubic metres of one-tonne black bags filled with radioactive waste is no small problem. It is a super-colossal problem. What if bags deteriorate? What if a tsunami hits? The “what-ifs” are endless, endless, and beyond.

“The black bags of radioactive soil, now scattered at 115,000 locations in Fukushima, are eventually to be moved to yet-to-be built interim facilities, encompassing 16 square kilometers, in two towns close to the crippled nuclear power plant,” Ibid.

By itself, 115,000 locations each containing many, many, mucho one-tonne bags of radioactive waste is a logistical nightmare, just the trucking alone is forever a humongous task, decades to come.

According to Japanese government and industry sources, cleaning up everything and decommissioning the broken down reactors will take at least 40 years at a cost of $250 billion, assuming nothing goes wrong. But dismally, everything that can possibly go wrong for Tokyo Electric Power Company (“TEPCO”) over the past 5 years has gone wrong, not a good record.

And, Japan is hosting the 2020 Olympics?

Yet, Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant remains totally out of control with no end in sight. As far as that goes, Olympic events alongside an out of control nuclear meltdown seem unfathomable.

As recently as October 30, 2015, The Japan Times reported: “Extremely high radiation levels and the inability to grasp the details about melted nuclear fuel make it impossible for the utility to chart the course of its planned decommissioning of the reactors at the plant.”

On the other hand, according to TEPCO, preparation is underway for removal of the melted nuclear fuel, scheduled to begin in 2021. “But it is difficult to know what is happening inside the reactors, and there are no established methods for doing so… It is not difficult to get a camera inside the reactor. The problem is the camera breaks down due to high levels of radiation,” according to Toru Ogawa, director of the Japan Atomic Energy Agency’s Collaborative Laboratories for Advanced Decommissioning Science (Kiyoshi Ando, senior staff writer, Long Road Ahead for Fukushima Cleanup, Nikkei Asian Review, Feb. 19, 2016).

Beyond the remote possibility they find the melted nuclear core aka: corium, engineers have not yet figured out how to cart the molten core away, assuming it can ever be located, and somehow handled. Meantime, if molten core burrows through the steel-reinforced concrete containment vessels into Earth, then what? It is likely a disaster for the ages! But, what about the Olympics?

If perchance melted nuclear core penetrates its steel-reinforced concrete containment vessel and burrows into the ground, it likely results in deadly isotopes uncontrollably spreading erratically, ubiquitously into surrounding underground soil and water. It is difficult to imagine Olympic events where melted nuclear core is still at large.

“Sporting events at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics are to be held in the Japanese region of Fukushima… Spectators and athletes in the Olympic village will be served with food from the region as part of an effort to restore the reputation of Fukushima, formerly one of Japan’s richest agricultural regions,” Fukushima to Host Olympic 2020 Events, The Times, Feb. 25, 2015.

The Tragedy of Countless Unreported Worker Deaths

Indeed, the question of whether Fukushima can ever be adequately, safely decontaminated is wide-open, which logically segues to question who does the dirty work, how workers are hired, and what’s their health status? According to mainstream news sources in Japan, workers are doing just fine, estimates range up to 45,000 workers all-in, no major problems.

As far as the world is concerned, the following headline sums up radiation-related issues for workers, First Fukushima Worker Diagnosed With Radiation-linked Cancer, The Telegraph, Oct. 20, 2015. All things considered, that’s not so bad. But, who’s counting?

Trustworthy sources outside of mainstream news claim otherwise, none more so than Mako Oshidori, a Japanese freelance journalist and a director of Free Press Corporation/Japan, and a former student of School of Life Sciences at Tottori University Faculty of Medicine, in a lecture entitled “The Hidden Truth about Fukushima” delivered at the international conference “Effects of Nuclear Disasters on Natural Environment and Human Health” held in Germany in 2014 co-organized by International Physicians for Prevention of Nuclear War.

Free Press Corporation/Japan was formed after the 2011 Great Sendai Earthquake as a counterbalance to Japan’s mainstream government influenced media, described by Mako as journalists who do not report truth, journalists afraid of the truth!

“There is one thing that really surprised me here in Europe. It’s the fact that people here think Japan is a very democratic and free country.” (Mako Oshidori)

According to Mako, TEPCO and the government deliberately cover-up deaths of Fukushima workers, and not only do they cover-up deaths, but once she investigated stories of unreported deaths, government agents started following her: “When I would talk to someone, a surveillance agent from the central government’s public police force would come very close, trying to eavesdrop on the conversation,” Exposed: Death of Fukushima Workers Covered-Up by TEPCO and Government, NSNBC International, March 21, 2014.

Mako Oshidori: “I would like to talk about my interview of a nurse who used to work at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant (NPP) after the accident… He quit his job with TEPCO in 2013, and that’s when I interviewed him… As of now, there are multiple NPP workers that have died, but only the ones who died on the job are reported publicly. Some of them have died suddenly while off work, for instance, during the weekend or in their sleep, but none of their deaths are reported.”

“Not only that, they are not included in the worker death count. For example, there are some workers who quit the job after a lot of radiation exposure, such as 50, 60 to 70 mili Sieverts, and end up dying a month later, but none of these deaths are either reported, or included in the death toll. This is the reality of the NPP workers.”

The “reality of the NPP workers… dying a month later” does not correspond very well with Abe administration insistence that nuke plants reopen, even though the country has continued to function for five years without nuclear power, hmm.

In her speech, Mako talks about problems for journalists because of government interference: “An ex-agent who is knowledgeable about the work of the Public Security Intelligence Agency (“PSIA”) said that when you are visibly followed, that was meant to intimidate you. If there was one person visible, then there would be ten more. I think that is analogous to cockroaches. So, when you do a little serious investigation about the nuclear accident, you are under various pressure and it makes it more difficult to interview people.”

Still, she interviewed Fukushima mothers, e.g., “Next, I would like to talk about mothers in Fukushima. These mothers (and fathers) live in Iwaki City, Fukushima. They are active on school lunch issues. Currently, Fukushima produce isn’t selling well due to suspected contamination. So the prefectural policy is to encourage the use of Fukushima produce in school lunches, in an attempt to appeal to its safety… the mothers claim that currently in Japan only cesium is measured and they have no idea if there is any strontium-90. They oppose the use of Fukushima produce in school lunches for fear of finding out, ten-plus years down the road, that there was actually plutonium in the food that children ate.”

Mothers who oppose the prefecture’s luncheon policy are told to leave Fukushima Prefecture, move out if they worry about contamination, pull up stakes and move on.

Mako’s full interview is found here.

All of which begs the question of who does the dirty work? According to Michel Chossudovsky, director of Centre for Research on Globalization (Canada), Japan’s organized crime syndicate Yakusa is actively involved in recruitment. Personnel who qualify for radioactive cleanup work include underemployed, impoverished, indigent, unemployed, homeless, hard up, down-and-out, and poverty-stricken individuals, as well as non-destitute people willing to undertake under-paid, high-risk work. The nameless are shoe-ins.

As intimated by Mako Oshidori, governmental secrecy laws and intimidation techniques vastly overshadow the tragedy of the disaster, an oppressive black cloud that won’t go away. People are scared to say anything for fear of reprisal, jail, and blacklisting. Mako Oshidori’s name is prominently secretly blacklisted. A government mole told her.

Accordingly, it is instructive to look at Japan’s new state secrecy law Act on the Protection of Specially Designated Secrets (SDS) Act No. 108 of 2013 passed on the heels of the Fukushima meltdown, very similar to Japan’s harsh Public Peace and Order Controls of WWII. According to Act No. 108, the “act of leaking itself” is bad enough for prosecution, regardless of what, how, or why.

Thereupon, Susumu Murakoshi, president of the Japan Federation of Bar Associations says: “The law should be abolished because it jeopardizes democracy and the people’s right to know,” Abe’s Secrets Law Undermines Japan’s Democracy, The Japan Times, Dec. 13, 2014.

Public opinion is shaped by public knowledge of events, but the Abe government’s enactment of an extraordinarily broad dastardly secrecy law (almost anyone can be arrested) that threatens prison sentences up to 10 years undermines confidence in believability of the Japanese government.

But categorically, Japan needs to nurture confidence. ”

by Robert Hunziker

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