25 octobre 2014 6 25 /10 /octobre /2014 13:49

October 25, 2014

Miyagi town protesters block gov't survey of proposed radioactively contaminated waste site




KAMI, Miyagi -- Protesters here have continued to block an Environment Ministry team from conducting tests at a proposed final site in the town for disposing of waste contaminated with radioactive substances from the Fukushima nuclear disaster.

Local protesters blocked the road into the proposed site on Oct. 24, thereby preventing the government team from conducting a drilling survey that was scheduled to begin at the site that day. The protesters also submitted a formal letter of protest to the ministry against the proposed site.

Local residents began assembling at the roadblock on the following morning of Oct. 25 at about 6 a.m., holding banners emblazoned with slogans against the disposal site. The Environment Ministry survey team of around 15 people arrived at about 8:40 a.m. with weed cutters and other equipment, intent on making it to the site. However, they were met with chants of "Go home!" and "We'll never allow the disposal facility!" and were unable to get by the protesters.

Kami residents have insisted that the site in their town -- one of three in the prefecture proposed by the government -- does not meet the requirements for a disposal facility, citing fragile rock formations and the serious danger of contaminating local ground water, among other points. They included these objections in the letter of protest presented to an official from the Environment Ministry's Tohoku office.

"There's no guaranteeing our safety if a final disposal site is built here. We will continue our protest," said a 56-year-old resident, who also read the letter out to those at the roadblock. Meanwhile, the 72-year-old head of the local anti-disposal site organization stated, "The Environment Ministry has no idea how much we're worried about economic damage rumors about this place will cause. I will not let them (the survey team) pass, even at the cost of my life."

The ministry official who accepted the letter of protest told reporters, "It will be very hard for us to clear away the residents and enter the site under these conditions, so we will consider whether to forcibly remove the protesters."

The Environment Ministry had planned to start drilling surveys at two other proposed sites in Kurihara and Taiwa, Miyagi Prefecture, but postponed the operations as the municipalities have insisted that all three scheduled surveys be conducted simultaneously.

October 25, 2014(Mainichi Japan)

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25 octobre 2014 6 25 /10 /octobre /2014 13:46

October 24, 2014

Volcano near Sendai nuclear plant is shaking and may erupt: Japan weather agency



Authorities warned on Friday that a volcano a few dozen kilometers from the Sendai nuclear plant in Kagoshima Prefecture was showing signs of increased activity and may erupt. It warned people to stay away from the summit.

The warning comes nearly a month after another volcano, Mount Ontake, erupted suddenly while it was crowded with hikers, killing at least 57 people in Japan’s worst volcanic disaster in nearly 90 years.

Ioyama, a mountain on the southwestern island of Kyushu, has been shaken by small tremors and other signs of rising volcanic activity recently, including a tremor lasting as long as seven mia, a mountain on the southwestern island of Kyushu, has been shaken by small tremors and other signs of rising volcanic activity recently, including a tremor lasting as long as seven minutes, an official at the Meteorological Agency’s volcano division said.

“There is an increase in activity that under certain circumstances could even lead to a small scale eruption, but it is not in danger of an imminent, major eruption,” the official said.

The warning level on the mountain has been raised from the lowest possible level, normal, to the second-lowest, which means that the area around the crater is dangerous, he added.

Ioyama lies in the volcanically active Kirishima mountain range and is roughly 64 km from the Sendai nuclear plant, which is run by Kyushu Electric Power Co. The Japanese government wants to restart the plant even though the public remains opposed to nuclear power following the Fukushima crisis.

Critics point out that the Sendai plant is only 50 km from Mount Sakurajima, a highly active volcano that erupts frequently. There are five giant calderas — crater-like depressions formed by past eruptions — in the region, and the closest one is 40 km away.

Critics point out that the Sendai plant is only 50 km from Mount Sakurajima, a highly active volcano that erupts frequently. There are five giant calderas — crater-like depressions formed by past eruptions — in the region, and the closest one is 40 km away.

The plant still needs to pass operational safety checks as well as gain the approval of local authorities, which means it may not restart this year.

Before giving its initial green light to restart the plant in July, the Nuclear Regulation Authority said the chance of major volcanic activity during the life span of the Sendai nuclear plant was negligible.

On Friday, the warning level for the Sakurajima volcano was at 3, which means people should not approach the peak.

Japan lies on the “Ring of Fire” — a horseshoe-shaped band of fault lines and volcanoes around the edges of the Pacific Ocean — and is home to more than 100 active volcanoes.

Experts warn that the mammoth magnitude-9.0 earthquake in March 2011 may have increased the risk of volcanic activity throughout the nation, including that of iconic Mount Fuji.

October 25, 2014

Alarm sounded for volcanic eruption of Mt. Ioyama in Miyazaki



Road access to Mount Ioyama in Miyazaki Prefecture was closed Oct. 24 after the Japan Meteorological Agency warned that a small-scale eruption could occur.

The agency's Fukuoka Regional Headquarters urged people not to enter areas within a radius of 1 kilometer from the crater of the 1,317-meter-high mountain, which is part of the Kirishima range and located in the Ebino-kogen Highlands.

In response, the Miyazaki prefectural government and the city government of Ebino closed roads that run through the area, as well as three climbing routes.

According to the regional headquarters, volcanic tremors have increased around Mount Ioyama since June. On Aug. 20, a volcanic tremor lasted about seven minutes. Crustal changes in the northwestern part of the mountain have also been observed.

Although an Oct. 21 on-site survey did not confirm the presence of fumarolic gases, the government’s Coordinating Committee for the Prediction of Volcanic Eruptions said Oct. 23 that Mount Ioyama must be carefully monitored because of its increasing volcanic activity.

Magma eruptions have occurred twice on Mount Ioyama since the 14th century.

Mount Ioyama is located about 5 kilometers northwest of Mount Shinmoedake, which had a magma eruption in 2011, the first in 300 years.

The warning comes almost one month after Mount Ontakesan straddling Nagano and Gifu prectures erupted, claiming at least 57 lives, making it Japan's worst postwar volcanic disaster.

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25 octobre 2014 6 25 /10 /octobre /2014 08:15

October 25, 2014

High levels of radiation found at Fukushima plant



Oct. 25, 2014 - Updated 05:12 UTC+2

The operator of the crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant says it has found high levels of radioactive cesium in groundwater in the compound.

Officials of Tokyo Electric Power Company say water taken on Wednesday from a monitoring well contained 460,000 becquerels of cesium per liter. Water from another well contained 424,000 becquerels.

The wells are several meters west of the No. 2 reactor building. There are about 40 around the reactor buildings.

Officials say the levels are 800 to 900 times the previous peak level of 500 becquerels per liter.

TEPCO officials say they don't know what caused the rise. They speculate a recent typhoon may be to blame.

They have stopped pumping water from the 2 wells to conduct an investigation.

TEPCO began pumping up groundwater from the wells on a trial basis in August. They started full-scale operations last week.

The utility plans to treat the tainted groundwater and discharge it into the ocean to deal with the buildup of contaminated water.

But local people strongly oppose the plan. TEPCO has yet to discharge water into the ocean.


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24 octobre 2014 5 24 /10 /octobre /2014 20:28

October 24, 2014

Colossal volcanic eruption could destroy Japan at any time: study



Japan could be nearly destroyed by a volcanic eruption over the next century that would put nearly all of its population of 127 million people at risk, a new study says.

“It is not an overstatement to say that a colossal volcanic eruption would leave Japan extinct as a country,” Kobe University earth sciences professor Yoshiyuki Tatsumi and associate professor Keiko Suzuki said in the study, released publicly on Wednesday.

The experts said they analyzed the scale and frequency of volcanic eruptions throughout the archipelago over the past 120,000 years and calculated that the odds of a devastating eruption at about 1 percent over the next 100 years.

The chance of a major temblor striking Kobe within 30 years was estimated at about 1 percent just a day before a 7.2-magnitude quake struck the port city in 1995, killing 6,400 people and injuring nearly 4,400 others, the study noted.

“Therefore, it would be no surprise if such a colossal eruption occurs at any moment,” it added.

The Kobe University researchers said their study is critical because Japan is home to about 7 percent of the volcanoes that have erupted over the past 10,000 years.

A disaster on Kyushu, which has been struck by seven massive eruptions over the past 120,000 years, would see an area with 7 million people buried by flows of lava and molten rock in just two hours, they said.

Volcanic ash would also be carried by westerly winds toward the main island of Honshu, making nearly the entire country “unlivable” as it strangled infrastructure, including key transport systems, they said.

It would be “hopeless” trying to save about 120 million living in major cities and towns across Honshu, the study said.

The study called for new technology to more accurately grasp the state of the “magma reservoirs” that are spread across the Earth’s crust in layers a few kilometers deep.

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24 octobre 2014 5 24 /10 /octobre /2014 20:24


 October 22, 2014

Japan to ratify international convention on nuclear accident compensation pact




Japan intends to ratify an international convention that sets a global uniform standard for compensating victims of nuclear accidents.

The move is in line with fears of an increasing risk of a nuclear accident abroad with developing nations accelerating their efforts to construct nuclear power plants.

The convention limits responsibility for nuclear accidents to the operator of the nuclear plant, meaning companies that manufacture nuclear plant equipment would not be liable. That provision would make it easier for Japanese manufacturers to export nuclear technology.

However, critics charge that Japan has not yet adequately assessed the reasons for the catastrophic triple meltdown at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant in 2011 and that it is wrong to join a convention that would promote nuclear technology exports.

The Abe administration will submit a bill to the extraordinary Diet session now in progress to ratify the Convention on Supplementary Compensation for Nuclear Damage (CSC). Currently, five nations, including the United States, have ratified the treaty, which was adopted in 1997.

However, the treaty has still not entered into force because one provision has not been met--that the total installed nuclear capacity of the ratifying nations be at least 400,000 megawatts.

If Japan ratified the convention, that provision would be cleared. The United States has been lobbying Japan to join the pact. The treaty would take effect 90 days after the Diet ratified the convention.

Convention signatory nations would share in the compensation burden when a nuclear accident occurred.

Along with the convention, the Abe Cabinet will also submit relevant legislation to allow for implementation of the convention.

Japan had not joined the convention because it placed excessive faith in the "safety myth" surrounding nuclear power plants.

The Fukushima nuclear disaster put paid to that way of thinking. Moves by developing nations in Asia and elsewhere to construct nuclear power plants were another reason for joining the convention.

The CSC requires nations to provide a minimum yen equivalent of 47 billion ($438 million) in compensation. If the total amount of compensation required exceeds that amount, signatory nations would be required to share part of the additional burden.

A Foreign Ministry official said, "The convention will encourage developing nations to pass legislation related to nuclear power plants."

The additional shared amount to be contributed by each nation would be calculated based on the capacity of nuclear power generation. If Japan joined the convention, it would have to come up with about 4 billion yen to deal with a potential accident abroad. The government plans to ask electric power companies to set aside funds annually to shore up the compensation sharing package.

Like domestic laws in nations that have installed nuclear power plants, the CSC limits responsibility for nuclear accidents to the operator of the plants, mainly electric power or fuel companies.

For that reason, companies that manufacture nuclear plant equipment or construct nuclear plants would not be held responsible for accidents that occurred in signatory nations.

A Japanese government source said U.S. officials lobbied Japan to join the CSC because it was becoming difficult for companies in the United States to export nuclear plant equipment to developing nations until the convention took effect.

An executive with a major Japanese manufacturer said, "With it looking close to impossible to construct a new plant in Japan, we would appreciate a convention that encouraged the export of nuclear plants."

However, in August, the Japan Federation of Bar Associations issued a statement opposing ratification of the CSC on the grounds it would create a moral hazard for manufacturers, who would likely not feel obliged to deal seriously with measures to prevent nuclear accidents.

Mie Asaoka, a vice president with the JFBA, said: "The convention encourages developing nations to pass legislation so nuclear plants can be exported to them. Can Japan claim to have fulfilled its international responsibility for having caused the accident at Fukushima?"

(This article was written by Takashi Watanabe and Senior Staff Writer Noriyoshi Ohtsuki.)


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24 octobre 2014 5 24 /10 /octobre /2014 20:23

October 24, 2014

Prosecutors extend probe into ex-TEPCO chiefs


Oct. 24, 2014 - Updated 12:21 UTC+2

Prosecutors have extended their investigation into 3 former chiefs of Tokyo Electric Power Company, or TEPCO, over the accident at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant.

The Tokyo District Prosecutors' Office announced this on Friday to an inquest panel of randomly chosen citizens.

The office launched the probe after the panel decided in July that the 3 people, including former chairman Tsunehisa Katsumata, should face charges.

The prosecutors were due to decide this month whether to file charges.

But they say they're unlikely to do so because interviewing former top TEPCO officials and experts takes time.

In September last year, the prosecutors dismissed a criminal complaint filed by a citizens' group against roughly 30 former TEPCO executives, including the 3.

The investigators argued that it was difficult to predict the scale of the earthquake and tsunami that hit the plant in March 2011.

The group narrowed down its target and filed another complaint with the panel. It concluded the 3 should be indicted.

The prosecutors are to decide by early February whether to do so.

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24 octobre 2014 5 24 /10 /octobre /2014 20:19

Nuclear watch : Fishing in Fukushima


Fishermen in Fukushima are feeling the effects of the process of decommissioning the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant. They've been forced to change the way they work. And there are still restrictions on what they can catch. In this edition of "Nuclear Watch," NHK WORLD's Daisuke Kamikubo looks at how fishermen are trying to rebuild their industry.

The port of Onahama in Iwaki City is 50 kilometers south of the Fukushima plant. Fish are brought to the port four times a week. Fishermen call it test fishing.

Right after the fish arrive, they're screened for radioactive cesium. At least one per species is tested from each section of the fishing grounds.

"We have a rocky road ahead. But we will display the spirit of fishermen."

Fish that are confirmed safe can be shipped to consumers throughout Japan. Following the disaster, government officials established the world's strictest standards for radiation exposure for fish.

A new limit on cesium - 100 becquerels / kg - was established.

Right after the accident, 53% of fish caught in Fukushima were above the government ceiling. The number has gradually declined to 0.6%.

Fishing in Fukushima

The Fukushima fisheries federation set an even stricter limit - 50 becquerels / kg.

All fishing in the area was halted after the accident. 15 months later, fishing for just 3 species resumed, 50 kilometers out to sea north of Fukushima.
The area has been gradually expanded. Now, fishing is allowed in almost all waters except those very close to the plant. Fishermen now catch 52 species, about one-fourth of what they could before the accident.

Fishing in Fukushima

"We just have to go step by step. We have to go beyond making loud claims about the safety of fish from Fukushima. We should continue testing fish and prove they're safe, so consumers will eat them."
Tetsu Nozaki / Chairman, Fukushima fisheries federation

But fishermen have yet to resume full-scale operations. They're not allowed to catch some species including flounder, which was the main source of revenue for Fukushima fishermen. The total volume of the catch is still 1.5 percent of what it was before the disaster. Fishermen say test fishing is necessary to rebuild the industry.

"Fishermen want to be fully back in business. But they face yet another hardship...a planned release of contaminated water from Fukushima Daiichi. Plant operator TEPCO says there is no problem as radioactive substances have been removed from that water. But fishermen are not so sure."
Daisuke Kamikubo / Onahama, Fukushima

In August, TEPCO officials said they might discharge groundwater that had accumulated in wells dug around the plant's reactor buildings. They say the groundwater is contaminated, but will be processed before it's released into the sea.

And over 500,000 tons of radioactive water is stored in tanks. The operator says it will continue storing the water there. Local fishermen say they will never allow TEPCO to discharge the water into the sea.

But they say they are not opposed to all of TEPCO's plans.

Fishing in Fukushima

" We fishermen need to work hand in hand on decommissioning Fukushima Daiichi. We can't run away from the accident. If we wish to catch fish off Fukushima and sell them, we need consumers to know the fish are safe to eat."
Tetsu Nozaki / Chairman, Fukushima fisheries federation

TEPCO executives say the decommissioning will take up to 40 years. Fishermen are closely watching how the work proceeds.

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24 octobre 2014 5 24 /10 /octobre /2014 20:17

October 24, 2014

Residents delay search for radioactive waste site


Oct. 24, 2014 - Updated 11:02 UTC+2

Japan's Environment Ministry has suspended inspections of 3 sites under consideration for a radioactive waste disposal facility due to local opposition at 1 of the locations.

The ministry planned to start field surveys on Friday at 3 state-owned sites in Miyagi Prefecture to find a place for a permanent storage facility for contaminated waste stemming from the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear accident.

But about 40 opponents of the survey in the town of Kami, including Mayor Hirobumi Inomata, were waiting for ministry officials at the site.

Inomata asked them to stop the survey, saying that State Minister Yasuhiro Ozato had earlier said he took the request seriously.

The officials called off the survey for the day.

Officials at the 2 other sites under consideration also called off planned surveys Friday morning. Those other sites are in the city of Kurihara and town of Taiwa.

A senior official at the ministry's Tohoku regional office said current circumstances make it difficult to go ahead with the surveys. He added he will consult with the ministry about what to do.

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23 octobre 2014 4 23 /10 /octobre /2014 21:38

October 23, 2014

Study: 1% chance of catastrophic eruption striking Japan in 100 years




The probability of a large volcanic eruption bringing catastrophic damage to Japan over the next 100 years is 1 percent, a Kobe University research team said.

In a worst-case scenario, a huge eruption in the Kyushu region would emit pyroclastic flows covering widespread areas of the island and engulf the entire archipelago in ash, according to the team’s estimates announced Oct. 22.

Large-scale volcanic eruptions have taken place in Japan on average once every 10,000 years. The last major eruption occurred at a seafloor volcano off Kagoshima Prefecture 7,300 years ago.

Such massive blasts are called caldera-forming eruptions because they emit a large amount of magma and cause mountains to collapse, forming caldera craters.

The team, led by magmatology professor Yoshiyuki Tatsumi, examined 4,500 volcanic eruptions that took place in Japan over the past 120,000 years.

The researchers statistically examined the frequency of large eruptions that emitted volcanic ejecta of 100 billion tons or more and concluded there is a 1-percent chance of a similar volcanic eruption taking place in the next 100 years.

Extremely large eruptions that emit more than 1 trillion tons of volcanic ejecta have a probability of 0.25 percent over the same period, the researchers said.

Among such extremely large-scale eruptions was the eructation of Kagoshima Bay’s Aira caldera volcano 28,000 years ago, which emitted pyroclastic flows and volcanic ash covering extensive areas. The volcanic ejecta are still found in geological layers around the country.

If an extremely large-scale eruption took place in the central Kyushu region, pyroclastic flows would inundate a 30,000-square-kilometer area inhabited by 7 million people. Volcanic ash would pile as high as 50 centimeters in regions of western Japan where 40 million people reside, and 20 cm in eastern Japan.

Ashfall of just 1 cm to 2 cm can cripple traffic networks, and ashfall exceeding 30 cm can cause buildings to collapse.

In its report submitted last year, an expert panel of the Cabinet Office pointed out that knowledge about large-scale eruptions remains limited, and that structural efforts to study eruption prediction and countermeasures are lacking.

Toshitsugu Fujii, the head of the government’s Coordinating Committee for Prediction of Volcanic Eruptions, urged the government to start discussing measures to prepare for a large-scale eruption, saying that one could take place in Japan at any moment.

The article by the Kobe University researchers will be published in the November edition of Transactions of the Japan Academy.

(This article was written by Koji Kitabayashi and Chikako Kawahara.)

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23 octobre 2014 4 23 /10 /octobre /2014 21:35

October 22, 2014



Tepco taking off cover

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