Blog Archive

Thursday, 30 October 2014

Fuel removal from Fukushima reactor to be delayed


video
The Japanese government and Tokyo Electric Power Company are to revise the timetable for decommissioning the No.1 reactor at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant.

The current timetable calls for the process of removing spent fuel assemblies from the storage pool to begin in fiscal 2017, and removing melted fuel to begin 3 years later.

Government and TEPCO officials are now planning to delay the start of removing spent fuel units until fiscal 2019, or by 2 years, and the start of removing melted fuel till 2025, or by 5 years.

Radioactive rubble which has accumulated inside the No.1 reactor building is hampering fuel removal efforts.

Workers began dismantling the cover of the building this month to remove the debris.

But full-fledged work to dismantle the cover will not take place until March of next year, already resulting in a delay of more than 6 months.

To remove the spent fuel and melted fuel, separate facilities, such as cranes, must be set up on top of the reactor building. This would take more time.

The current timetable says complete decommissioning of the Fukushima Daiichi plant with 4 damaged reactors will take 30 to 40 years.
 
Source: NHK
http://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/english/news/20141030_05.html

Town submits petition opposing waste facility

Oct. 29, 2014
Residents of Shioya Town, Tochigi Prefecture, have petitioned the Environment Ministry to drop a site in their town from consideration to host a facility for storing radioactive waste.

The site in Shioya, north of Tokyo, is one of five the government wants to build permanent storage facilities on for designated waste. The waste is material from the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear accident that has radiation levels exceeding 8,000 becquerels per kilogram.

The mayor of Shioya and the leader of a group of residents handed their petition to State Minister of the Environment Yasuhiro Ozato at the ministry in Tokyo on Wednesday.

Shioya has a population of about 12,000. But the petition was signed by about 173,000 people from across Japan.

Residents and their supporters claim a permanent storage facility would threaten the town's water supply and accelerate population decline.

State Minister Ozato said he takes the residents' and signatories' concerns seriously. He stressed the importance of smooth communication and exchange of views over those concerns.

The representative of the residents' group said that he expects the State Minister to understand that the signatures show how strongly people feel about the government's plan.

The Environment Ministry plans to hold a meeting of the prefecture's mayors on November 9th to win support for the permanent storage facility.

Shioya is expected to reiterate their opposition to the plan.
Source: NHK
http://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/english/news/20141029_33.html

Green tea from Japan to be tested for radiation

2014/10/29
Taipei, Oct. 29 (CNA) Sweets, cookies and teas and tea products imported from Japan into Taiwan will be subject to tests for radioactive substances beginning next year, the acting Food and Drug Administration (FDA) director-general said Wednesday.

Chiang Yu-mei said that under the proposed measure, importers of the Japan-made items will not be able to apply for the necessary imported food inspections unless the products come with radiation examination certificates from the Japanese government.

The new measure is expected to take effect next year, Chiang said in response to a post by Democratic Progressive Party Legislator Lin Shu-fen on her Facebook page that criticized the government for not checking Japanese green tea products for radioactive substances.

In the post dated Oct. 29, Lin questioned the surge in green tea drinks imported from Japan into Taiwan over the past three years even though green tea leaves in Japan had tested positive for radioactive substances since the Fukushima nuclear disaster in 2011.

"Do you know that since the Fukushima disaster, imports of Japanese green tea have increased dramatically? Do you know that Japanese green tea has often tested positive for radiation?" Lin asked in her post.

In defending Taiwan's practices on Japanese food imports, the FDA has repeadly stressed that Taiwan suspended imports of food items from five Japanese prefectures near the Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant days after the facility suffered a meltdown in March 2011.

The temporary ban, imposed on foods from Fukushima, Ibaraki, Tochigi, Gunma and Chiba prefectures, remains in effect today, the agency said.

In addition, batch-by-batch inspections for radioactive substances have been enforced on eight major types of foods produced in other parts of Japan since then, the FDA said

The tests cover fresh and chilled vegetables and fruits, frozen vegetables and fruits, live and chilled fishery products, frozen fishery products, dairy products, products for infants, mineral water or other types of drinking water, and seaweed, it said.

(By Chen Ching-fang and Elizabeth Hsu)
Source: Focus Taiwan
 http://focustaiwan.tw/news/aeco/201410290021.aspx

TEPCO covered up the truth about Fukushima disaster’



October 28, 2014
TEPCO has hidden the truth about the Fukushima nuclear disaster and now drip feeds information so the public can get ready for the next piece of bad news, James Corbett, editor, The Corbett report, told RT’s In the Now show.
Journalist Jun Hori has quit NHK, the Japanese state broadcaster saying that his network restricted what he could say about the Fukushima nuclear disaster, and moved more slowly than others to report how far the radiation was spreading.
RT: Has TEPCO (Tokyo Electric Power Company) gotten away with hiding information from the public?
James Corbett: TEPCO has lied obfuscated and covered up the truth about what they knew about, or know about what is going on at sites since day one. And of course this goes back to the very beginning of the disaster when they knew within 72 hours that three of the reactors at the Fukushima No.1 plant site were in full melt down. In fact that they did not reveal to the public for almost three months after that event took place. And from there it only continues. We have cover-ups about the amount of radiation that has been released. TEPCO had to revise its original estimate up 250%. We have had cover up of the fact that there was and continues to be 300 tons of radioactive water flooding through the site. That wasn’t really revealed to the public until the summer of 2013, two years after the event took place. Cover-up after cover-up continuously being revealed and only very much later after the fact. I think TEPCO certainly has gotten away with an awful lot. Their practice seems to be, I am not sure if this is a coordinated strategy, but it certainly seems to be that it reveals information in dribs and drabs over long periods of time so that the public has time to be acclimatized to the last piece of bad news before the next one hits them.



RT: How tight is TEPCO with the Japanese government?
JC: Technically TEPCO has now been nationalized with the Japanese government being the largest stakeholder. So there is a direct Japanese government stake in the company. That is obviously a situation which creates a type of direct relationship between the company and the government in which obviously the interest of the government and interest of the company are directly tied financially. It creates a very worrying situation and the government has attempted to reform the nuclear regulatory agency here in Japan and attempted to set up a separate division of TEPCO for taking care of decontamination of the sites specifically. But arm's length institutions or agencies like that are supposed to have oversight over this process aren’t really anything more than just a buffer between what is essentially the same thing now: the Japanese government/ TEPCO which are really wedded at the hip.
RT: Are you suggesting that the revelations from this disaster and the implications have not really caused tougher control over the industry?
JC: They certainly haven’t it at this point. In fact, what we have seen is the shutdown of all of the other reactors in the country for maintenance and none of those reactors have been turned on as of now. What we are seeing right now is that the struggle that is taking place between protesters and the Japanese government over the restart of those reactors. What has taken place since Fukushima has been the renewal of guidelines regarding safety measures for some of these plants. But there is a lot of concern that these measures that are now being used as the guidelines for whether or not a plant is within the safe operating limits – [are] equally as flimsy as those regulations that allowed the Fukushima plant to operate in the incredibly precarious position that it was operating in. There is still a lot of concern over the nuclear regulatory agency here and the fact that a lot of the members have taken outright bribes of various sorts from the nuclear industry. It seems that the long standing ties between the nuclear industry and the Japanese government here in Japan hasn’t really been shaken and they continue to have ... influence over the Japanese government’s policy on nuclear energy.
Source: RT
 http://rt.com/op-edge/200107-fukushima-japan-tepco-nuclear-disaster/

Wednesday, 29 October 2014

Sendai nuclear power plant 

October 28, 2014
A town in southwest Japan became the first to approve the restart of a nuclear power station on Oct. 28, a step forward in Japan's fraught process of reviving an industry left idled by the Fukushima nuclear crisis in 2011.
Kagoshima Prefecture's Satsuma-sendai, a town of 100,000 that hosts the two-reactor Kyushu Electric Power Co. plant, is 1,000 km (600 miles) southwest of Tokyo and has long relied on the Sendai nuclear power plant for government subsidies and jobs.
Nineteen of the city's 26 assembly members voted in favor of restarting the plant while four members voted against and three abstained, a city assembly member told Reuters.
The restart of Japan's first reactors to receive clearance to restart under new rules imposed following the Fukushima disaster is unlikely until next year as Kyushu Electric still needs to pass operational safety checks.
All 48 of the country's nuclear reactors were gradually taken offline after the nuclear disaster, the world's worst since Chernobyl in 1986.
An earthquake and tsunami struck the Fukushima No. 1 plant, 220 km (130 miles) northeast of Tokyo, sparking triple nuclear meltdowns, forcing more than 160,000 residents to flee from nearby towns and contaminating water, food and air.
Japan has been forced to import expensive fossil fuels to replace atomic power, which previously supplied around 30 percent of the country's electricity.
Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's government is pushing to restart nuclear reactors, but has said he will defer to local authorities to approve a policy that is still unpopular with large swaths of the public.
The restart divided communities nearest to the plant, pitting the host township that gets direct benefits from siting reactors against other communities that do not reap the benefits but say they will be equally exposed to radioactive releases in the event of a disaster.
In Ichikikushikino, a town less than five km (three miles) from the Sendai plant, more than half the 30,000 residents signed a petition opposing the restart earlier this year.
In the lead-up to the local vote, officials held town halls in neighboring towns to explain the restart, where some residents complained that the public meetings were restrictive and did not address concerns about evacuation plans.
A fire broke out at Kyushu Electric's other nuclear plant on Oct. 28, according to Japanese media. The fire started in an auxiliary building of the idled nuclear station and was extinguished by plant workers, the agency said. There were no injuries and no release of radioactive materials, it said.


 Mount Ioyama

A local council has voted to re-open the Sendai Nuclear Power Plant on the outermost western coast of Japan, despite local opposition and meteorologists’ warnings, following tremors in a nearby volcano.
Nineteen out of 26 members of the city council of Satsumasendai approved the reopening that is scheduled to take place from early 2015. Like all of Japan’s 48 functional reactors, Sendai’s 890 MW generators were mothballed in the months following the 2011 earthquake and tsunami.
Satsumasendai, a town of 100,000 people, relies heavily on state subsidies and jobs, which are dependent on the continuing operation of the plant.
But other towns, located within sight of the plant, do not reap the same benefits, yet say they are being exposed to the same risks. A survey conducted by the local Minami-Nippon Shimbun newspaper earlier this year said that overall, 60 percent of those in the region were in favor of Sendai staying shut. In Ichikikushikino, a 30,000-strong community just 5 kilometers away, more than half of the population signed a petition opposing the restart. Fewer than half of the major businesses in the region reported that they backed a reopening, despite potential economic benefits.
Regional governor Yuichiro Ito has waved away the objections, insisting that only the city in which the plant is located is entitled to make the decision.
While most fears have centered around a lack of transparency and inadequate evacuation plans, Sendai is also located near the volcanically active Kirishima mountain range. Mount Ioyama, located just 65 kilometers away from the plant, has been experiencing tremors in recent weeks, prompting the Meteorological Agency to issue a warning. The government’s nuclear agency has dismissed volcanic risks over Sendai’s lifetime as “negligible,” however.
Satsumasendai’s Mayor Hideo Iwakiri welcomed the reopening, but said at the ensuing press conference that it would fall upon the government to ensure a repeat of the accident that damaged Fukushima, an outdated facility subject to loose oversight, is impossible.
September’s decision to initiate the return Japan’s nuclear capacity back online was taken by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, who endorses nuclear production in the country, but has delegated the controversial call on reopening to local councils. Sendai was chosen after becoming the first plant to officially fulfill the government’s new stricter safety rules. It may also have been picked due to its geographical remoteness, and distance from the 2011 disaster area.
The primary reason for Abe’s nuclear drive been the expense in replacing the lost energy that constituted 30 percent of the country’s consumption, which the government says cost Japan an extra $35 billion last year. Japanese consumers have seen their energy bills climb by 20 percent since the disaster as a result.
But another concern remains the state of the country’s aging nuclear plants, which will cost $12 billion to upgrade. Meanwhile plans to build modern nuclear reactors – which were supposed to be responsible for half of the country’s nuclear power by 2030, according to previous government energy plans – have predictably been shelved in the wake of the disaster.
Sources:
Asahi Shimbun  http://ajw.asahi.com/article/behind_news/social_affairs/AJ201410280087
RT http://rt.com/news/200175-sendai-fukushima-nuclear-volcano/

Heavy Wind Rips Off Part of Fukushima Protective Cover's Roof & Fukushima cesium levels fluctuating

video

The operator of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant says the cover of a building housing the No.1 reactor has been damaged.

Tokyo Electric Power Company says a strong gust of wind moved a machine at around 8:30 AM Tuesday, creating a triangular shaped hole about 1 meter wide and 2 meters long.

TEPCO has been using machinery suspended from a crane to spray chemicals into holes. This is to prevent the dispersal of radioactive dust when dismantling the cover.

The operator says no significant changes in radiation levels were seen at the compound, but work has been suspended.

Officials say the wind speed at the time was about 7 kilometers per hour, which is well below the 36-kilometer-per-hour standard required to suspend work. They say a sudden gust may have moved the machinery.

TEPCO has notified the central and local governments and is considering what steps to take. Officials say they don't know when work can resume, or whether this problem will affect Thursday's plan to remove part of the cover on a trial basis.

Tokyo Electric Power Company, or TEPCO, says the levels of radioactive cesium in the compound's groundwater at the damaged Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant fluctuated greatly last week.

TEPCO detected the highest concentration of cesium in samples of water taken from 2 monitoring wells near a reactor building on Wednesday.

One well had 428,000 becquerels of cesium per liter of water, while the other contained 458,000 becquerels.

But only 2 days later, the reading in the first well had dropped to 5,200 becquerels, or one-eightieth of the level detected on Wednesday. The concentration in the other well stood at 470 becquerels, or about one-one-thousandth of the previous quantity.

TEPCO says these wells are connected underground with other wells that are highly contaminated. So the operator believes cesium poured into them with this month's heavy rains and then flowed out with the underground water.

The utility says this problem cannot be fundamentally solved because the area around the wells thought to be the source of the contamination has extremely high radiation levels and cannot be decontaminated.

The 2 wells are among those from which tainted groundwater is pumped and discharged into the sea after being decontaminated.

But TEPCO has suspended the operation and is considering whether to resume the work.

Source: NHK
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9dqske0qFJo

Wednesday, 22 October 2014

Prosecutors set to rule on Fukushima indictments against TEPCO execs

Japan Today

[snip]

NATIONAL  ( 12 )


TOKYO —
Japanese prosecutors must decide this week whether to charge Tokyo Electric Power Co (TEPCO) executives for their handling of the 2011 Fukushima disaster, in a process that could drag the operator of the stricken nuclear plant into criminal court.
The judicial review is unlikely to see TEPCO executives go to jail, legal experts say, but rehashing details of the meltdowns and explosions that followed an earthquake and tsunami will cast a harsh light on the struggling utility and will not help Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s unpopular effort to restart Japan’s nuclear reactors.
The Tokyo’s District Prosecutors Office last year declined to charge more than 30 TEPCO and government officials after investigating a criminal complaint from residents, who said officials ignored the risks to the Fukushima Daiichi plant from natural disasters and failed to respond appropriately when crisis struck.
But a special citizens’ panel opened another legal front in July, asking prosecutors to consider charges of criminal negligence against three executives over their handling of the nuclear disaster.
Under the review system, the prosecutors must respond by Thursday.
If they again decline to take up the case, as some experts expect, the 11-member panel of unidentified citizens can order prosecutors to indict, if eight members vote in favor.
[end snip]
More:

Monday, 20 October 2014

City assembly approves Sendai plant restart

Whenever the nuclear lobby buys influence over the local elected officials the will of the local residents becomes completely ignored, resulting in a total corruption of democracy: " The panel rejected 10 petitions against the restart, and adopted one calling for the plant to return online."



Oct. 20, 2014
A special panel at a city assembly in southern Japan has approved a petition to allow a local nuclear power plant to resume operations.

The panel at the Satsuma Sendai city assembly in Kagoshima Prefecture discussed petitions both for and against the restart of the Sendai plant on Monday.

The plant is operated by Kyushu Electric Power Company. Last month it became the first to pass new regulations for nuclear plants introduced after the 2011 Fukushima accident.

Panel members in favor of the restart argued that the local economy has been sluggish since the plant went offline. But others opposing the restart said the screening by the government's Nuclear Regulation Authority does not guarantee the plant's safety.
The panel rejected 10 petitions against the restart, and adopted one calling for the plant to return online.

The city assembly is likely to approve the same petition because a majority of the assembly members are in favor of the restart.

The assembly may hold a session as early as October 28th to discuss the matter.

The plant operator says it hopes to win approval from Satsuma Sendai City and Kagoshima Prefecture.

The utility must also obtain approval from the Nuclear Regulation Authority. The plant will then undergo inspection of the newly installed equipment before going online.

The restart is likely to be early next year.
Source: NHK
 http://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/english/news/20141020_32.html

New Groundwater Radiation Spikes At Fukushima Daiichi

The series of groundwater monitoring wells near the sea front have seen continued changes consisting of high levels of various radioactive isotopes. Beta radiation in well 1-6 jumped to 5.1 million bq/liter on the 17th.

This well began to decrease by the next day. Wells 1-14 and 1-16 began to increase on the 18th. Well 1-14 saw an increase in cesium. Both wells saw an increase in beta radiation the second day. TEPCO claims they will continue to monitor these wells daily.

The ongoing behavior of these wells and any related increases in contamination inside the port or the sea near the plant could indicate an ongoing pathway for contaminated water to leak to the sea.
http://www.tepco.co.jp/nu/fukushima-np/f1/smp/2014/images/2tb-east_14101901-j.pdf

Source: Fukuleaks
 http://www.fukuleaks.org/web/?p=13939

ASAHI POLL: 27% of Fukushima voters want immediate end to nuclear power

A temporary housing complex in Iwaki, Fukushima Prefecture, 
for evacuees from the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant crisis


October 20, 2014
Twenty-seven percent of voters in Fukushima Prefecture, home to the crippled Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant, want Japan to immediately abolish nuclear energy, around double the national average, an Asahi Shimbun survey found.
About 55 percent of voters in the prefecture support a break away from nuclear power in the near future, according to the telephone survey conducted on Oct. 18-19.
The survey results showed anti-nuclear sentiment is higher in Fukushima Prefecture than in the rest of the country.
Thirteen percent of voters in Tokyo supported the immediate abolition of nuclear energy in a survey in February, while 15 percent expressed the same opinion in a nationwide survey in January.
In those earlier surveys, 61 percent of Tokyoites and 62 percent of respondents nationwide said Japan should break away from nuclear power in the near future.
The latest survey covered 1,701 voters in Fukushima Prefecture and received 1,091 valid responses.
Only 15 percent of Fukushima voters said Japan should continue relying on nuclear energy, compared with 22 percent in the survey in Tokyo and 19 percent nationwide.
The survey also revealed that 66 percent of Fukushima voters accept Governor Yuhei Sato’s decision to allow the construction of an interim facility to store radioactive waste from cleanup work in the prefecture.
Eighteen percent said they disagree with Sato’s decision.
In addition, 53 percent said they support the central government’s decision to end its policy of helping all evacuees from the nuclear disaster return to their homes and instead assist them in resettling elsewhere. Twenty-eight percent were against the decision.
Up to 56 percent of respondents said they highly evaluate the governor’s efforts to rebuild the prefecture from the damage caused by the 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake, tsunami and nuclear disaster, compared with 25 percent who said otherwise.
Forty percent of Fukushima voters said they support Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s Cabinet, matching the 40 percent who did not support the Cabinet.
Source: Asahi Fukushima
 http://ajw.asahi.com/article/behind_news/social_affairs/AJ201410200030

Strontium-90 detected in potentially discharged water from Reactor 1 and 3

October 20, 2014
2,800 ~ 11,000 Bq/m3 of Strontium-90 have been detected from pumped water around Reactor 1 and 3, according to Tepco. 
On 10/1/2014, Tepco released nuclide analysis data of groundwater. The tested groundwater was pumped up from the facilities called “sub-drain” located beside Reactor 1 ~ 4.
These “sub-drains” were originally to reduce groundwater volume to flow into the basement of each reactor building, however abandoned because of the high level of contamination after 311. Tepco is trying to restart using these sub-drains to pump up highly contaminated water and to discharge to the sea.
(cf, Tepco to pump up highly contaminated groundwater for potential discharge today / Drainage plan submitted to NRA.
The samples were taken this September and last September. From the sample near Reactor 1, 11,000 Bq/m3 of Strontium-90 was detected last September. From the sample near Reactor 3, 2,800 Bq/m3 of Strontium-90 was measured this September.
These readings were not checked by third party organizations, so the actual density can be higher than announced.
Either way, the data shows groundwater contamination is spreading from around the reactor buildings to the outside of the port. (cf, Strontium-90 detected outside of Fukushima port / Highest reading in front of Reactor 4 too.
http://www.tepco.co.jp/nu/fukushima-np/f1/smp/2014/images/around_rb_141001-j.pdf
Source: Fukushimary Diary
 http://fukushima-diary.com/2014/10/strontium-90-detected-potentially-discharged-water-reactor-1-3/

Sunday, 19 October 2014

Former Fukushima teacher blogs to inspire students while fighting off cancer


The former vice principal of a junior high school in Fukushima Prefecture has been encouraging his former students by blogging while undergoing 11 years of treatment for cancer. Yuki Sanbonsugi, 55, who fled to Koriyama after his hometown, Futaba, was evacuated to escape the radiation from the core meltdowns at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant, became a junior high school teacher in 1981, after graduating from Senshu University.
He has taught classes in Iitate, Iwaki, Minamisoma, Katsurao, Namie and Tomioka — villages, towns and cities all close to the No. 1 power plant.
Eleven years ago, when he was vice principal of Tomioka Dai-ichi Junior High School, he was diagnosed with malignant lymphoma, a form of blood cancer, and decided to quit to concentrate on treatment.
Although he could not return to teaching, he gave lectures at schools and community centers to convey his thoughts on the importance of life.
In March 2011, the nuclear crisis forced Sanbonsugi to flee to several places in the prefecture, including the town of Furudono and the cities of Aizuwakamatsu and Koriyama, and even to Hokkaido.
Despite his hardships, he kept thinking about all the students he had taught. He was worried they might be in the throes of despair with their futures still unclear 3½ years into the nuclear crisis, or on the verge of giving up on returning to their hometowns.
“I want to support former students who are living as evacuees as much as I can,” said Sanbonsugi, who avidly updates his blog.
“Rather than grieving over what you cannot do, just simply do something you can do. Then, quietly wait for spring to come,” he recently wrote.
Hidefumi Sanpei, 35, one of his former students, works for the Tomioka Municipal Government, which ordered a full evacuation in light of the Fukushima No. 1 meltdowns. As an official in charge of residential support, he helps evacuees deal with their worries and sometimes gets a tongue-lashing in the process.
As an evacuee himself supporting a wife and two children in new surroundings, Sanpei often got fed up with the work and his longing for his hometown.
He said Sanbonsugi’s blog gives him the courage to move forward. One phrase he always keeps in mind is: “Under the same sky, each one of us is living life to the fullest.”
Natsumi Yoshida, 33, who was one of Sanbonsugi’s students at Katsurao Junior High School, now teaches at a special needs school attached to Fukushima University. When the village of Katsurao was forced to evacuate, her former classmates were scattered all over the country.
Yoshida said she hopes to convey to her students a message she read in Sanbonsugi’s blog: “Planting seeds of kindness on the hearts of each and every one of us.”
 This section, appearing every third Monday, focuses on topics and issues covered by the Fukushima Minpo, the largest newspaper in Fukushima Prefecture. The original article was published on Oct. 4.
Source: Japan Times
http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2014/10/19/national/former-fukushima-teacher-blogs-to-inspire-students-while-fighting-off-cancer/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=former-fukushima-teacher-blogs-to-inspire-students-while-fighting-off-cancer

Saturday, 18 October 2014

With nuclear plant idled, townsfolk in better position to chart future course

 Onagawa town assembly member Mikiko Abe stands against the backdrop 
of Tohoku Electric Power Co.'s Onagawa nuclear power plant. 

October 18, 2014
POINT OF VIEW/ Mikiko Abe:
ONAGAWA, Miyagi Prefecture--As an opponent of atomic energy, I have watched this town for more than four decades--from before Tohoku Electric Power Co. began constructing the Onagawa nuclear power plant here.
It is my hope that our town can stand on its own without the massive subsidies associated with the installation of nuclear reactors and fixed asset taxes paid by the power utility. It’s not about asking if we can revert to that state of things. I believe we have to do it now.
I live in temporary housing because my home was swept away by the tsunami generated by the Great East Japan Earthquake.
I was elected to the town assembly eight months after the March 2011 disaster, which claimed the lives of some of my fellow activists. In the hope of conveying their anti-nuclear message to younger generations, I ran in the assembly election as an independent candidate.
The disaster left nearly 10 percent of Onagawa's 10,000 population dead or missing, and nearly 90 percent of homes here were damaged. Some residents believe that a restart of the nuclear plant is essential for rebuilding the town.
Around 1970, when the Onagawa plant had yet to be built, local fishermen banded together to express opposition to the nuclear facility. Thousands took part in a protest rally held near the seashore. About 10 buses, each with 50 seats, arrived from a neighboring town to join it.
But Tohoku Electric began approaching nuclear opponents and secured agreement to engage in small talk from some people. They included, for example, owners of large fishing vessels that operated far from coastal waters. They had large crew and held senior positions in the local fishermen’s union.
There is no significant opposition movement in Onagawa now.
I studied at a university in Tokyo after I graduated from senior high school. I took an interest in the issue of Minamata disease (caused by mercury pollution) and joined a sit-in outside the head office of Chisso Corp., the chemical company responsible for the pollution. I thought the economy was being put ahead of humans--the same picture that applies to atomic power generation.
After I graduated in 1975 and returned home, I found my community polarized between nuclear opponents and proponents. I was told that residents living along the same seashore had been so estranged that they no longer even spoke to each other when they attended funerals of people in the other camp.
The opposition movement gradually cooled its heels after the fishermen's union decided to accept financial compensation, and after construction of the No. 1 reactor of the Onagawa nuclear plant began in 1979.
Some people had relatives working for the nuclear plant, while others supplied food to the plant workers.
They could no longer openly state they were opposed, even if they felt differently in their hearts.
A sense of resignation gradually spread. In the words of Tohoku Electric: “We obtained their understanding through persistent dialogue.”
The Onagawa nuclear plant now has three reactors.
The Great East Japan Earthquake damaged part of the power supply systems at the Onagawa plant, although it was spared from being swamped directly by the tsunami triggered by the March 11, 2011, quake.
I was driving a car in the neighboring city of Ishinomaki at the time. I returned home in the evening after being caught in a traffic jam and found it had been swept away by the tsunami. I lived for some time on the second floor of a relative’s home, whose ground floor had been flooded. I listened to news about the Fukushima nuclear disaster on the radio, but somehow, the situation at the Onagawa nuclear plant never crossed my mind.
Tohoku Electric has been boasting that the Onagawa nuclear plant “withstood the quake and tsunami.” I have also been told that a gymnasium on the grounds of the plant served as an evacuation shelter for more than 300 residents for three months. Some inhabitants are thankful for that.
But I later learned that the plant grounds lay only 80 centimeters above the towering tsunami, which measured 13 meters in height, and only one of the five external power supply systems survived without damage. Perhaps it was a matter of sheer chance that a serious accident was avoided.
The town government has so far received 21 billion yen ($195 million) in subsidies associated with the installation of nuclear reactors. This is in line with three laws governing the siting of nuclear power plants. The town also has a huge revenue source as a result of fixed asset taxes paid by Tohoku Electric. Sumptuous facilities that exceed our means have popped up one after another.
In looking to the future and making decisions about the town’s finances, a key consideration is whether we should bank on cash revenue from a future restart of the Onagawa nuclear plant.
When I attended a debate session in the assembly, I raised an objection to a young man who called for community development based on coexistence with the nuclear plant. Nobody presented follow-up opinions. And that was the last time the nuclear plant issue was raised. It remains difficult to this day to speak your mind.
But some people have begun reflecting on the future of the nuclear plant, even though they don’t speak out. The president of a company that does business with the nuclear plant once blurted out, when he was alone with me, “We cannot rely on the nuclear plant forever.”
Three of the 12 members of the Onagawa town assembly are opposed to the nuclear plant. Some of the other nine are taking a wait-and-see attitude and are less than wholeheartedly pro-nuclear.
I believe that, with the nuclear plant idled in the wake of the quake and tsunami disaster, now is a good opportunity for the townspeople to discuss their own future among themselves.

* * *

Mikiko Abe, 62, operates a liquor shop and a shipping agency, which markets fish caught from outside Onagawa, with her parents. Abe has one son and four daughters.

(This article is based on an interview by Ryoma Komiyama.)
Source: Asahi Shimbun
 http://ajw.asahi.com/article/views/opinion/AJ201410180014

Sendai reactors vulnerable to eruptions, state-picked volcanologist warns

October 18th, 2014 | ◆
Toshitsugu Fujii, a professor emeritus at the University of Tokyo
A prominent volcanologist disputed regulators’ conclusion that two nuclear reactors are safe from a volcanic eruption in the next few decades, saying Friday that such a prediction is impossible.

A cauldron eruption at one of several volcanoes surrounding the Sendai nuclear plant in Kagoshima Prefecture could not only hit the reactors, but also cause a nationwide disaster, said Toshitsugu Fujii, a professor emeritus at the University of Tokyo who heads a state-commissioned panel on eruption prediction.

The Nuclear Regulation Authority last month said two Sendai reactors fulfilled tougher safety requirements set after the 2011 Fukushima crisis began.

The NRA ruled out a major eruption over the next 30 years until the reactors reach the end of their usable life span.

The surprise eruption of Mount Ontake on the border of Gifu and Nagano prefectures on Sept. 27 has renewed concerns about the volcanoes in the region.

“It is simply impossible to predict an eruption over the next 30 to 40 years,” Fujii said. “The level of predictability is extremely limited.”

He said eruptions can only be predicted in hours or days, at best.

Studies have shown that pyroclastic flow from an eruption 90,000 years ago at one of the volcanoes near the Sendai plant reached as far as 145 km (90 miles) away, Fujii said.

He said that a pyroclastic flow from Mount Sakurajima, an active volcano that is part of the larger Aira cauldron, could easily hit the nuclear plant, which is only 40 km (25 miles) away.

Heavy ash falling from an eruption would make it impossible to reach the plant, and could also affect many parts of the country, including Tokyo, he said. Many nuclear power plants could also be affected in western Japan.

The Sendai reactors are the first to pass the safety checks, which added resistance to volcanic eruption as part of the new evaluation.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is pushing to restart any viable reactors deemed safe, saying nuclear power is stable and relatively cheap compared to other energy sources and key to Japan’s recovery. Ironically, the utilities, many of which operate atomic plants, are revolting against the feed-in tariff system — for producing a solar energy glut.

Kyushu Electric Power Co., which runs the Sendai plant, promised steps to ensure worker access in up to 15 cm (6 inches) of ash and a monitoring system to detect changes in volcanic activity.

It also promised to transfer fuel rods to safer areas ahead of time if eruption signs are detected — a time-consuming process experts say is unrealistic.

Fujii said 10 cm (4 inches) of ash will render any vehicle except tanks virtually inoperable. Power lines would be cut by the weight of the ash, causing blackouts that could shut reactor cooling systems.

Only after approving the reactors’ safety did the NRA establish a volcano panel to discuss eruptions and countermeasures.

Fujii, a member of that panel, said experts are opposed to the NRA’s views.

Even though a catastrophic eruption might occur only once in 10,000 years, the likelihood of one cannot be ruled out either, he said.

“Scientifically, they’re not safe,” he said of the Sendai reactors. “If they still need to be restarted despite the uncertainties and risks that remain, it’s for political reasons, not because they’re safe, and you should be honest about that.”

Source: Japan Times
http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2014/10/18/national/science-health/reactor-safety-near-japans-volcanoes-disputed-by-prominent-expert/#.VEJynq0cSM8

Higher Fukushima Radiation Levels Triggered by Typhoons


MOSCOW, October 18 (RIA Novosti), Ekaterina Blinova – Radiation levels at Japan’s notorious Fukushima Nuclear Power Plant jumped after the plant was hit earlier this month by two typhoons: Phanfone and Vongfong.
"The back-to-back weather disturbance typhoons Vongfong and Phanfone had triggered the elevated radiation quantities at the plant," writes the International Business Times, citing NHK, Japan's state-run media outlet.
According to Japan's JIJI agency, levels of cesium, a radioactive isotope that causes cancer, are three times higher than their previously registered rates and are currently 251,000 becquerels per liter, while levels of tritium, another dangerous isotope, have grown as  high as 150,000 becquerels.
Tepco's (Tokyo Electric Power Co.) spokesperson emphasized that heavy rainfall triggered by Typhoon Phanfone had apparently impacted Fukushima's groundwater.
"In addition, materials that emit beta rays, such as strontium-90, which causes bone cancer, also shattered records with a reading of 1.2 million becquerels," JIJI agency pointed out, adding that the wells that groundwater samples had been taken from were located close to the nuclear plant's port in the Pacific.
Asahi Shimbun underscores that Tepco's task of decontaminating all the radioactive water stored at the Fukushima No. 1 plant by the end of this fiscal year will be "increasingly difficult" to accomplish.
"According to a Tepco estimate made in February, the amount of highly contaminated water should have been reduced to 300,000 tons  by about now, but the water cleaning procedure is currently a month behind the original schedule," the media outlet stresses.
Asahi Shimbun reveals that another problem is that the groundwater flow into the plant's reactor building is increasing the amount of highly radioactive water by 400 tons a day. Although the corporation claims that it has succeed in reducing the influx by 130 tons a day due to its various counter-measures and its "underground water bypass project," these estimations have not been verified, the media source notes. The ambitious water-decontamination plans have yet to be completed and it remains to be seen when Tepco will be able to accomplish its task.
Source: RIA Novosti
http://en.ria.ru/society/20141018/194266755/Higher-Fukushima-Radiation-Levels-Triggered-By-Typhoons.html

Fukushima radiation nearing West Coast

October 17, 2014
Radiation from Japan’s Fukushima nuclear disaster is approaching the West Coast, the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution is reporting.
A sample taken Aug. 2 about 1,200 kilometers west of Vancouver, B.C. tested positive for Cesium 134, the Fukushima “fingerprint” of Fukushima.
It also showed higher-than-background levels of Cesium 137, another Fukushima isotope that already is present in the world’s oceans from nuclear testing in the 1950s and 1960s.
The sample is the first of about 40 offshore test results that will be made public next month, said Ken Buesseler, a chemical oceanographer at Woods Hole.
Further results, which Buesseler will release at a conference Nov. 13, will show offshore Fukushima radiation down the coast into California, he said, including some samples that are closer to shore.
Buesseler emphasized that the radiation is at very low levels that aren’t expected to harm human health or the environment.
“I’m not concerned,” he said.
And no samples from West Coast shorelines have found Fukushima radiation.
“There is definitely offshore Fukushima cesium now,” Buesseler said. “It’s not on the beaches, but it’s offshore.”
Massive amounts of contaminated water were released from Fukushima following a March 2011 earthquake and tsunami. Radioactive water has continued to leak and be released from the complex.
No state or federal agency is testing Pacific waters for radiation from the crippled Japanese nuclear plant.
So earlier this year Buesseler launched a crowdfunded effort to collect surf samples to be tested at his lab in Massachusetts.
Processing was completed on about 30 of those samples, from the Bering Strait to San Diego, including one from Oregon. More samples are awaiting testing
Then, last summer, the captain of a research vessel out of Moss Landing Marine Lab in California offered to collect offshore samples down the entire coast in conjunction with other research work he was doing.
Buesseler said he hesitated at first, because analyzing those samples would cost about $30,000 his lab didn’t have.
“We decided to send him the containers anyway,” Buesseler said.
Buesseler was able to use a $12,000 donation from U.K.-based Lush Fresh Handmade Cosmetics to begin processing the samples.
He’s still looking for funding to make up the difference.
The Aug. 2 sample is the project’s first to identify Fukushima radiation.
The sample was collected at a depth of 25 meters.
It showed levels of cesium 134, the Fukushima fingerprint, at 2.2 becquerels per cubic meter (Bq/m3).
Levels of cesium 137 were 3.9 Bq/m3. Background levels range between 1 and 2 Bq/m3.
Scientist expect the radiation to reach West Coast beaches this year or next year.
Source:  Tracy Loew, Statesman Journal 
 http://www.statesmanjournal.com/story/tech/science/environment/2014/10/17/fukushima-radiation-nearing-west-coast/17437081/

Japan's timid coverage of Fukushima led this news anchor to revolt — and he's not alone

Former NHK anchor Jun Hori speaks at a TEDx event in Kyoto, Japan, about opening Japanese journalism to non-traditional sources.

October 17, 2014
No one is telling Shiga Kamematsu the truth.
It's been three-and-a-half years since 83-year-old Kamematsu left his home, with its rice patties, vegetable fields and 10 cows, fleeing the disaster at the nearby Fukushima Daiichi nuclear reactor. He still can't go back.
When will it be ready for people again? No one seems to know — or be interested in telling him. “I can’t take my land with me,” he says, “so I don't know what to do. I can't see ahead.”
Kamematsu is one of about 80,000 people in Japan still officially displaced by the nuclear crisis. Questions remain about radiation levels, the clean-up process and when residents can return home. Yasuhiko Tajima, a professor of media studies at Tokyo's Sophia University, says many Japanese are frustrated by what they see as a lack of information.
Japanese journalists did what Tajima calls "announcement journalism" in reporting on the crisis. He says they were reporting the press releases of big companies and the people in power. And he's not the only one who thinks so.
“I am a newscaster, but I couldn't tell the true story on my news program," says Jun Hori, a former anchor for NHK, the Japanese state broadcaster.
Hori says the network restricted what he and other journalists could say about Fukushima and moved more slowly than foreign media to report on the disaster and how far radiation was spreading. The attitude in the newsroom was not to question official information
“I was on the ground in Fukushima, and a lot of people kept asking me, why didn't you tell us earlier about what is happening?” Hori says.
Out of frustration, Hori started tweeting uncensored coverage. “I got a huge response,” he says, “but then my superiors said the NHK was getting complaints from politicians about what I was saying. They told me I had to stop.”
Hori eventually quit the NHK and started his own website for citizen journalism — 8-Bit news. He says Fukushima showed people in Japan that they had to be proactive about getting information. Anyone can submit videos and news content to his site.
“Until now, the Japanese thought someone was doing it: companies, the government, someone," Hori says. "But once you peeled back the cover, you saw that nobody was doing it.”
That's backed up by outside observers as well: Japan has dropped 31 places since 2011 in a World Press Freedom ranking compiled by the group Reporters Without Borders. The group cites “a lack of transparency and almost zero respect for access to information on subjects directly or indirectly related to Fukushima.”
In a statement, NHK said it covered the event accurately and promptly reported a meltdown. It did not address claims that it faced outside pressure from politicians to restrict Hori's Twitter account.
Hori's 8-Bit is part of wave of new media launched since Fukushima, spanning everything from blogs and social media to documentaries. Yasumi Iwakami started one of the first efforts. He took live streaming video of press conferences and other coverage and loaded them up to a site called the Independent Web Journal.
“We just kept the cameras running all the time,” Iwakami says. “Even during the breaks at press conferences. We interviewed everyone we could.”
If you want to say something clearly and directly in Japan, Iwakami says, it takes a lot of effort. You have to do something drastic — like start a streaming news site run on donations. “That's very crazy!” he says.
It is a big change from Japan’s traditional media, says Benjamin Ismail, head of the Asia-Pacific desk for Reporters Without Borders. He says that in covering Fukushima, self-censorship was a big issue.
“Some of the journalists really believed they had a duty not to create a global panic,” Ismail says, “and therefore they had to withhold some of the information they obtained.”
Ismail hopes Japan's alternative media can gain steam, especially because there's not much time to act. Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is moving ahead on restarting the nuclear industry, and the first reactors are projected to be back online by next year.
Sources:
1. PRI's The world
http://www.pri.org/stories/2014-10-16/frustrated-japans-coverage-fukushima-crisis-japanese-news-anchor-started 
2. "Newsroom revolution" -- empowering the people: Jun Hori at TEDxKyoto 2013  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Dg8whKEQYPg#t=45

 


Friday, 17 October 2014

TEPCO'S MAGIC

In March 2014, 430,000 tons


October 18, 2014
In March 2014 there was 430,000 tons of contaminated water which was stored in approximately 1200 storage tanks.
(http://enformable.com/2014/03/progress-made-overhauling-site-decommissioning-reactors-fukushima-daiichi/)

Everyday Tepco is pumping out 750 tons from the estimated 90,000 tons underground of the building reactors, which is first partially filtered, then 350 tons of this partially filtered water is reintroduced daily into the cooling systems of the reactors.
The remaining partially filtered unused 400 tons are added into to the storage tanks, where in March 2014 there was already 430,000 tons stocked.
Just in doing that,  they have to add one storage tank every 60 hours,
(http://www.lemonde.fr/japon/video/2013/09/07/comprendre-la-situation-a-fukushima-en-deux-minutes_3472694_1492975.html)

 400 tons added daily, 1 tank every 60 hours


The contaminated water stored in the water tanks is increasing daily of 400 tons.
From March 2014 to October 2014 it is approximately 210 days (7 months).
At a rate of 400 additional tons per day, 210 days multiply 400 tons, we get 84,000 tons added partially filtered contaminated water added in the last 7 months. .

Therefore in the last 7 months 84,000 tons must  have been added to the already 430,000 tons which had been already accumulated there up to early early March 2014 :
430,000 tons + 84,000 tons = therefore presently this beginning October there should have been already approximately 514,000 tons of contaminated water stored in the storage tanks zone.
But now this mid-October, Tepco is telling us that there is only 350,000 tons stored in those tanks.

Whereas there should be now 514,000 tons, Tepco is telling us that there is now 350,000 tons.  Furthermore Tepco is telling us that they are behind schedule due to their constant difficulties with their ALPS system.
(http://ajw.asahi.com/article/0311disaster/fukushima/AJ201410170042)

Furthermore the only release of water that Tepco is officially allowed to dump into the sea, with the gotten agreement of the Fukushima Fishermen is the bypass water.
Some of the underground water running downhill is diverted thru a bypass to not get thru into the basements of the reactors, to not become heavily contamined and to not increase the contaminated water stagnating beneath (90,000tons), is stored, filtered and released into the sea.
Starting  May 2014 they have released 27 times some bypass water, 1500 tons at a time, which amounts to a toal of 40,500 tons of released bypass water until today.
I do have a question : Why the 164,000 tons contaminated water difference? Where did the 164,000 tons missing go ?
Did I miss an episode? Or is it a State Secret? Or is it Tepco's magic?

ANALYSIS: TEPCO behind schedule to eliminate contaminated water despite extra measures


October 17, 2014
Tokyo Electric Power Co.'s goal of purifying all highly radioactive water stored at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant by the end of the fiscal year has proven to be increasingly difficult, despite additional steps implemented by the utility. On Oct. 16, TEPCO demonstrated its contaminated water processing facilities that were newly introduced this fall.
The additional multi-nuclide removal equipment ALPS (advanced liquid processing system), which was installed to help make up for lost time after delays in the utility’s contaminated water processing plan, has so far been working as expected since it started trial operations in September, according to TEPCO.
In the water purifying process, cesium is first removed from the water. Then 62 additional radioactive substances, including strontium, are eliminated using ALPS. The first units of ALPS were set up in March last year.
As of Oct. 14, 355,000 tons of highly radioactive water from which just cesium has been removed is stored in tanks on the plant site.
To reduce risks in the event of contaminated water leaks from the storage tanks, TEPCO also plans to begin operations of an improved version of ALPS in the near future.
Thanks to the newly set up ALPS units and the improved model to be introduced, it is estimated that the radioactive water processing ability of the plant will rise from the current maximum of 750 tons per day to 1,960 tons, according to TEPCO.

 The improved version of ALPS (advanced liquid processing system) is seen on Oct. 16
 at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant.

But many problems have been reported with ALPS since it first became operational, repeatedly forcing the plant operator to halt its operations. The utilization rate for the system between January and August was just 35 to 61 percent.
Although TEPCO replaced some components of ALPS with improved parts, problems occurred with some replaced components in late September, forcing the utility to suspend operations of some units of the system.
Whereas TEPCO has set a goal of completing the purification of all highly radioactive water stored on site, it would still be difficult to achieve that goal even if TEPCO could operate all the processing systems day and night.
According to a TEPCO estimate made in February, the amount of highly contaminated water should have been reduced to 300,000 tons by about now, but the water cleaning procedure is currently a month behind the original schedule.
To make up for lost time after delays in its water processing plan, TEPCO has worked out a series of additional countermeasures.
Earlier this month, TEPCO introduced new mobile equipment that can eliminate strontium from 300 tons of water a day. The company also announced Oct. 16 that it will start operations by the end of the year of an additional strontium removal system with a daily processing capability of 500 to 900 tons.
Although the water treated with those strontium removal systems alone still needs to be processed with ALPS to eliminate additional radioactive substances, TEPCO officials said the company will temporarily deem such water as being “purified” to achieve its initial goal of completing the processing work by the end of the fiscal year.
Another problem is that the influx of groundwater into reactor buildings is adding 400 tons of highly radioactive water a day.
In June, TEPCO began construction of a 1,500-meter frozen soil wall that will surround the basements of the reactor buildings. The utility intends to start the soil freezing procedure next spring after draining all the radioactive water accumulating in trenches around the reactors.
TEPCO originally planned to drain all 11,000 tons of contaminated water in the trenches, which are directly connected to the reactor buildings, and fill them in by June. But the planned procedures have yet to be completed.
As the trench water draining operation is behind schedule, the Nuclear Regulation Authority has called on TEPCO to seek an alternative way to fill in the trenches as soon as possible.
Whether to use another method or continue the current draining procedure is expected to be determined in early November. To start soil freezing operations next spring, the trenches have to be filled in by January, TEPCO said.
In May, the plant operator began releasing groundwater into the ocean pumped from wells on the mountain side of the nuclear plant before the groundwater can reach the reactor buildings and become contaminated.
Although TEPCO insists that its various countermeasures, including the underground water bypass project, have succeeded in reducing the influx of groundwater by up to 130 tons daily, the estimate lacks a solid basis.
The utility is also considering releasing contaminated underground water accumulating near the reactor buildings into the Pacific after purifying it, but it remains unclear when the company will be able to carry out the plan.
(This article was written by Tsuyoshi Nagano and Hiromi Kumai.)
Source: Asahi Shimbun
 http://ajw.asahi.com/article/0311disaster/fukushima/AJ201410170042

Thursday, 16 October 2014

As Japan eyes nuclear restarts, renewables get shut out of grid


* Utilities say regional grids can't take more renewable power
* Govt, nuclear lobby trying to 'kill' solar -Pacifica CEO
* Goal to use renewables to 'greatest extent possible' -PM
* Govt concern over renewables boosting power bills -source

By Aaron Sheldrick and James Topham

TOKYO, Oct 17 (Reuters) - Japan's biggest utilities are blocking most new solar and other renewable energy from transmission grids, stirring concern among green power advocates that Japan favours restarting idled nuclear plants at the expense of other fossil-free supply.

Seven out of Japan's 10 regional power monopolies have blocked further grid access for renewables, saying new supplies would strain distribution systems, and that solar and wind energy are not reliable enough for uninterrupted power flows.

The action compounds concerns about the prospects for renewables since it also comes as Japan's Ministry of Economy Trade and Industry (METI) has cut incentives for solar projects, despite Tokyo's pledge to maximise green power to curb fossil fuel imports after the Fukushima crisis shut the nuclear sector.

METI has formed a working group that is meeting for the first time this week to investigate the action by utilities, but the ministry has not escaped criticism from renewables advocates.
"A combination of METI and the nuclear lobby is trying to kill the solar power industry," said Seth Sulkin, President and CEO of Pacifica Capital KK, a Tokyo-based solar power and commercial real estate developer.
The ministry denies this, and Prime Minister Shinzo Abe in a policy speech last month said Japan's goal was still to use renewable energy sources to the "greatest extent possible".


Oil, coal and gas imports have cost Japanese utilities an extra $28 billion a year since the 2011 earthquake and tsunami that set off the world's worst nuclear disaster in 25 years, eventually prompting the shutdown of all of Japan's reactors.

Japan in 2012 proposed increased reliance on renewables as a way to cut the added costs, but while some reactors are likely to come back onstream next year, new renewable projects are getting shut out.

Tokyo Electric Power Co and Kansai Electric Power Co, Japan's two biggest regional utilities, said they had cut access to those power sources on parts of their grids due to a lack of capacity.
Other utilities, including Kyushu Electric Power Co , have stopped accepting new supplies, except for household solar.
"If the entire renewables amount already applied for was connected it would cause power production to surpass what our customers use," said Yuka Otsubo, a spokeswoman for Kyushu Electric, which also said it was concerned that fluctuating solar supplies could cause blackouts.

A METI renewables official said the working group looking at the barring of renewables from power grids needed to promptly check and confirm what the electricity firms were saying.
Industry sources say Japan's grid could handle renewable input of up to 10 percent, although utilities have not said publicly how much they can take.

HIGH TARIFFS, BIG PLANS
In 2012, Japan introduced a feed-in-tariff (FIT) scheme requiring utilities to purchase all electricity generated from renewables at guaranteed rates for set periods.

The rates promised were among the highest in the world for renewables, and this led to a rush of proposals. By April 30 this year, the government had approved 71 gigawatts of capacity under the scheme, according to METI's latest data, more than 95 percent from solar projects.

Only about 14 percent of the approvals have been connected to utility grids, but that has been enough to raise renewable supplies - excluding hydroelectric - to almost 3 percent of power output from 1 percent before the Fukushima disaster.

But the high number of solar projects has alarmed the government about the extra cost to power bills, especially in rural areas that are support bases for the ruling party, according to a source who was briefed on the matter by an aide to Prime Minister Abe this month.

Solar power can cost up to 38 yen ($0.36) per kilowatt-hour (kWh) to produce, more than three times the cost of nuclear power at about 9 yen per kWh, according to a METI study in 2011.

If all the proposed renewables projects were hooked up, about $25 billion a year would be added to power bills, according to one estimate.
Despite this, public opposition to nuclear restarts and support for renewable tariffs remain high, according to opinion polls.

CUTTING SOLAR INCENTIVES
METI has cut the guaranteed fees for solar supplies each year since green power incentives were introduced in 2012 and this month moved to tighten rules on guaranteed payments for larger solar projects, according to local media.

The FIT scheme faces a three-year review starting this month, and some people in the industry are expecting further moves by METI to curtail solar power, even possibly abolishing the guaranteed feed-in rates for sun-powered projects.

"The operation of nuclear power is fine, but as a result I worry that renewable energy will be restricted," Kenji Araki, an executive at solar developer West Holdings, said in an email.

($1 = 107.10 Japanese yen)
 (Editing by Tom Hogue)


Source: Reuters
http://www.reuters.com/article/2014/10/16/japan-solar-restrictions-idUSL3N0RY0U620141016

"There is so much sickness and death that it cannot be considered simply as 'caused by stress'” : An emigrant from Kagamiishi takes notes about health problems.

Picture by Junko Honda. She used to think that she would be aging in her hometown, enjoying the nature, which she grew up with. 


October 15, 2014
Mrs. Junko Honda migrated from her native Kagamiishi, Fukushima prefecture, to Sapporo, Hokkaido, after 3.11. Although she was a successful beauty salon owner who ran two salons in Kagamiishi, she closed down the businesses in 2012 and moved to Sapporo with her husband and two children. Honda took a number of unusual health problems that had happened to her family members, including her teenage daughter, as a serious warning sign for radiation effect on health, and decided to leave everything behind to protect herself and her family. Everything literally means all she had: her successful business, her community ties, circles of relatives and friends. After struggling with emotional and economical difficulties, Mrs. Honda opened a new beauty salon in Sapporo in 2013. She has also been advocating for rights of disaster evacuees and immigrants in her new community.
 
She recently shared a note on Facebook, in which she had collected unusual symptoms that she had heard about, over the past three years. The nature of her profession as a hairdresser, who deals with many customers and has talks with them, sometimes leads up to issues on health and well-being. Thus she has had opportunities to hear personal stories that otherwise are rarely heard.
 
Honda says these stories are only some of the stories she has heard, but they are the ones whose veracity she has been able to ascertain.
 
WNSRC translated Mrs. Honda’s note to show how an ordinary citizen happened to face a series of health problems in Fukushima since the nuclear accident. The municipal and national governments have meanwhile advocated for the safety of living in Fukushima and encouraged former residents to go home.

Record of cases on health problems after the nuclear accident in March, 2011


Before the nuclear accident, I had never heard of so much sickness and death in such a short period of time. Are they caused by psychological stress? It’s too easy to say so and such a word is insulting for the people who passed away.
April, 2011
 
I spotted insect-bite-like reddish eczema on my daughter’s face. They stayed until we evacuated to Hokkaido.
I felt strange feeling in my lymph nodes around the neck. The salon staff also felt the same.
The hair of our pets, a dog and a cat, become uneven because of hair loss to an unusual degree.
 
September, 2011
 
1. Kagamiishi: My friend’s father died with a tumor in the lymph glands.
2. Kagamiishi: A man in his 60s died all of sudden.
3. Koriyama: A gynecologist mentioned there was an increase of lymph tumors.
4. Koriyama: A customer in her 40s got ill with a disease that cannot renew blood.
5. Izumizaki: A woman in her 30s died from cardiac arrest after recovering from uterus cancer surgery.
6. Koriyama: A hairdresser friend and her sister have suffered dermatologic eczema since the accident.
7. One of my relatives got infected with herpes zoster for the first time and experienced big weight loss. Coughing started after the accident but the cause cannot be determined.
8. A child of an evacuee from Shirakawa had nosebleeds very often after the accident. The child reported that there are many others at school who had nose bleeding.
 
March 2013
 
9. Yabuki-town: Five customers who visited the branch salon in Yabuki town experienced funerals of close family members during very short period (from the end of the year to spring in 2013). Three of the deceased were in their 50s.
10. Izumizaki village: A man in his 30s died suddenly.
11. One of my family members has shadows under his eyes and coughs do not stop. His child had hives for the first time, and got infected with Influenza A and B, one after the other.
 
June 2012
 
12. All the fingernails of a child evacuee from Sugakawa fell off after the accident. They grew back later. Another child had had headaches and nausea since the accident. Their mother experienced hair loss and since then she had sparser hair for a while.
 
August 2012
 
13. Kagamiishi: One of my relatives died suddenly of subarachnoid hemorrhage. He was in his 30s.
14. Two classmate of my daughter visited us in Hokkaido. Both of them had shadows under eyes and had colorless cheeks.
 
15. One of my relatives, a child, came to Hokkaido. His skin was dark and he had colorless cheeks, and his eyes looked as if they were lightly covered by a membrane. After 3 weeks stay in Sapporo, his eyes brightened, his skin gained its natural color and the cheeks became pinkish.
 
16. Kagamiishi: A woman in her 40s started to suffer with her already existing illness.
 
17. Grandmother of an evacuee from Tenei village, Fukushima, had had throat irritation but after she came to Hokkaido the irritation had gone.
A carpenter in Tenei village died suddenly.
 
December 2012
 
18. Kagamiishi: A resident in his 30s developed a tumor.
19. Tenei village: A resident in her 40s developed a tumor and died a year later.
20. Sugakawa: A friend of an evacuee’s friend from Sugakawa died suddenly. The friend was in his (her) 40s.

 Picture by Junko Honda. Mrs.Honda used to take her dog 
for a walk everyday beside the rice paddles. 


January 2013
 
21. Koriyama: Parents of an evacuee from Koriyama decided to take full-medical examinations because their friend, a medical doctor, suggested them to do so, mentioning that his friends have been dying with cancer one after another. Her younger sister, who was a resident of Tokyo, did a blood test and the leukocyte count showed some abnormality.
 
22. Sugakawa: A child of an evacuee from Sugakawa underwent unsubsidized thyroid examination and the doctor told her that the thymus gland was swollen. Several children who have fled from Fukushima show same symptoms.
 
April 2013
 
23. Fukushima: A friend of an evacuee gave birth to a polydactyl child.
 
July 2013
 
24. Iwaki: A younger friend of an evacuee from Koriyama got ill with cancer.
 
September 2013
 
25. Tokyo: A child of an evacuee had an unsubsidized thyroid examination. Nothing was found last year, but this year they found many cysts.
 
October 2013
 
26. Kagamiishi: A female friend, an evacuee age 35, developed thyroid cancer. Her neighbor in his 60s had several incidents of convulsion, being taken to emergency room, but doctors couldn’t determine the cause.. The last convulsion eventually killed him.
 
27. Sugakawa: A male friend who was doing decontamination work died suddenly.
 
November 2013
 
28. My friend in her 40s had surgery for removal of an ovarian cyst. Her doctor said if the discovery of they cyst had been any later, it would have developed into cancer.
 
March 2014
 
29. Sugakawa: A friend of an evacuee, in her 30s, had thyroid surgery.
 
30. One of my relatives, a middle school student, got ill with rheumatism. Medicine doesn’t work effectively.

Source: Save Children From Radiation.org
 http://www.save-children-from-radiation.org/2014/10/15/there-is-so-much-sickness-and-death-that-it-cannot-be-considered-simply-as-caused-by-stress-an-emigrant-from-kagamiishi-fukushima-takes-notes-about-heal/