19 novembre 2014 3 19 /11 /novembre /2014 18:08

November 19, 2014



NRA panel: Fault under Tsuruga reactor could move



Nov. 19, 2014 - Updated 13:04 UTC+1

Experts from Japan's nuclear regulator have determined that a fault running under a reactor at the Tsuruga nuclear plant in Fukui Prefecture, central Japan, could move in the future.

The Nuclear Regulation Authority concluded in May last year that the fault could be active. The plant's operator, Japan Atomic Power Company, then submitted new data disputing that assessment.

But after looking over that data, the NRA's panel of experts on Wednesday reaffirmed last year's conclusion that the fault could shift again.

In its draft assessment report, the panel cited a recently discovered fault north of the reactor that appears to extend from the fault under the reactor.

The panel said it couldn't rule out that the new fault had shifted in the past 120,000 to 130,000 years. Based on new regulations, the authority defines a fault that shifted within that period as potentially active. Reactor buildings and other key nuclear facilities are not allowed to be built atop such faults.

The report pointed out that the new fault could be connected to the fault beneath the reactor.

The panel will submit its assessment to the authority after hearing from other experts who did not participate in the discussions.

If the authority does not overturn the panel's assessment, the reactor cannot be restarted and may have to be decommissioned.

Japan Atomic Power Company Vice President Taiki Ichimura criticized what he described as a unilateral assumption, and expressed confidence it would be proved wrong.

He said the company welcomes the opportunity to challenge the panel's assessment.

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19 novembre 2014 3 19 /11 /novembre /2014 18:06

 November 19, 2014

Diet approves Fukushima waste disposal bill



Nov. 19, 2014 - Updated 08:16 UTC+1


Japan's Diet has enacted a law on transferring radioactive soil and other stored waste out of Fukushima Prefecture for final disposal within 30 years.

The government plans to have the waste from decontamination work stored at intermediate facilities to be built in Futaba and Okuma towns, near the disabled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant.

An Upper House plenary session on Wednesday approved by a majority a revision to an existing law. The revision allows a state-owned company that deals with disposal of a toxic substance called polychlorinated biphenyl, or PCB, to engage in business related to the storage facilities.

The revised law obliges the government to ensure that the waste is safely stored and moved to a final disposal site outside the prefecture within 30 years.
The revision came in response to a demand from the communities that are to host the temporary facilities.

It also calls on the government to develop final disposal methods by studying new technologies that might lower the concentration of radioactive substances in soil and allow reuse of the waste.

Environment Minister Yoshio Mochiduki welcomed the move, saying it will help speed up reconstruction in Fukushima.

The government hopes to begin transporting the waste to the facilities in January. But it's not clear whether the plan can be put into action, as negotiations with landowners over acquiring their property to build the facilities is progressing slowly.



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19 novembre 2014 3 19 /11 /novembre /2014 18:04

November 19, 2014

Diet approves nuclear compensation treaty


Nov. 19, 2014 - Updated 06:56 UTC+1

Japan's Diet has approved a bill to join an international treaty on sharing the costs of compensation in a nuclear disaster.

The bill on the Convention on Supplementary Compensation for Nuclear Damage cleared the Upper House on Wednesday.

The treaty obliges the signatories to set aside the equivalent of 47 billion yen, about 400 million dollars, to compensate victims in a nuclear accident.

If the cost of compensation in Japan exceeds its reserve, other signatories would provide around 60 million dollars more. Conversely, Japan would have to contribute about 34 million dollars to help compensate for a nuclear accident in another country.
The treaty will be ratified after passage of another bill requiring nuclear plant operators to contribute to the reserve.

The government expects the treaty to encourage foreign companies to join the cleanup and decommissioning of reactors at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant.

Five countries have signed the convention so far, including the United States and Argentina.

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19 novembre 2014 3 19 /11 /novembre /2014 18:03

November 18, 2014

Radioactive water leak found at Ikata plant

Nov. 18, 2014 - Updated 13:27 UTC+1


Workers at the Ikata nuclear power plant in western Japan have found a radioactive water leak from the facility's wastewater disposal system.

Officials of the plant's host Ehime Prefecture said none of the water leaked outside the site, and that no worker was exposed to it. The plant operated by Shikoku Electric Power Company is offline.

They say workers found traces of leaked water on piping insulation in a building adjacent to the plant's Number 2 reactor on Tuesday.

The piping is part of the disposal system for solidifying concentrated low-level radioactive wastewater by mixing it with asphalt.

They say 34 grams of a dried mixture of boric acid and radioactive cobalt-60 had adhered to the stainless steel piping beneath the insulation. The initial amount of leaked wastewater is unknown.

Officials say the radioactivity level of the mixture was about one-500th the amount requiring a report to the government.

Shikoku Electric says it found no irregularities when workers checked the piping on Saturday.

But the utility says the piping may have been damaged, as it has been used since 1982, when the reactor started operation.

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18 novembre 2014 2 18 /11 /novembre /2014 10:34

November 18, 2014

Attempt to stop water flowing into trench at Fukushima plant fails



An effort to stop contaminated water from flowing into a trench at the crippled Fukushima No. 1 Nuclear Power Plant failed to completely halt the flow, announced Tokyo Electric Power Co. (TEPCO), the plant's operator, on Nov. 17.

A TEPCO representative said, "We believe we have not completely stopped the water. Groundwater may also be entering the trench. We will closely analyze the changes in water level in the trench."

TEPCO says that when around 200 tons of contaminated water was removed from the trench, the water level in the trench should have fallen by around 80 centimeters if the point of leakage between the plant's No. 2 reactor turbine building and the trench had been fully sealed. However, the water level only fell by 21 centimeters, so TEPCO determined that the leak must be continuing.

Around 5,000 tons of contaminated water from the turbine building is in the trench, and critics have pointed out the possibility of it escaping into the ocean. Originally TEPCO planned to freeze the water at the point where the turbine building and the trench meet in order to stop the flow of water, after which it planned to remove the water from the trench. However, the water was insufficiently frozen to stop the flow, and while an effort continued until Nov. 6 to fill in the gaps in the ice with special cement, this effort also failed to provide a complete seal.

While the water remains in the trench, TEPCO cannot create a planned underground wall of frozen soil around the No. 1 through 4 reactor buildings to stop water leakages. TEPCO is considering filling in the trench by pouring in cement as it removes the built up water. Discussion on the particulars of this strategy is to be held at a meeting of the Nuclear Regulation Authority on Nov. 21.

November 18, 2014(Mainichi Japan)



November 17, 2014

Radioactive water to tunnels unlikely stopped



Nov. 17, 2014 - Updated 21:22 UTC+1

The officials overseeing the decommissioning of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant say a barrier designed to prevent radioactive water from entering underground tunnels is likely not doing its job.

The decommissioning work includes a plan to remove highly-radioactive water from tunnels under the facility grounds and then fill them with concrete to prevent leaks to surrounding soil.

A barrier to hold out water during this process was under construction until November 6th.

On Monday, workers removed 200,000 liters of water, estimating that water levels in the tunnels would drop by 80 centimeters.

However, the levels went down by only 20 centimeters. This led officials to conclude that more water was likely entering the tunnels from the reactor building while water was being pumped out.

The officials considered the effects of radioactive water on ground water, and decided on a plan to fill tunnels in with cement before they are completely drained.

They say the operation will require carefully handling to prevent any overflow of contaminated water.



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18 novembre 2014 2 18 /11 /novembre /2014 10:29

November 16, 2014

Mock test to retrieve radioactive waste starts


Nov. 16, 2014 - Updated 22:01 UTC+1

Japanese researchers began the first full-scale simulation to develop a technology to remove high-level radioactive waste from nuclear power plants after it has been stored deep underground.

The test, which is aimed to push forward the selection of storage sites, began at a research institute in Chiba prefecture near Tokyo. The project is supported by the Japanese government.

The government plans to dispose of high-level radioactive waste by burying it deep underground.

Officials have been trying to find suitable storage sites for this plan.

Experts point out that it may become necessary to retrieve highly radioactive nuclear waste after it is stored underground in the event that new safety concerns arise, or if better disposal technologies are developed in the future.

The test uses mock waste that does not contain radioactive substances. It is buried 4 meters under a floor in a tunnel built inside the research site. It is covered with clay for protection.

Researchers will use 6 cameras to remotely conduct the test because at an actual storage site, workers would be exposed to high-levels of radiation.

They plan to use a hose to spray salt water to break up the clay around the nuclear waste and vacuum the waste with another hose.
The aim is to ease the safety concerns among the public so that the government can move forward with the selection of storage sites.

Other plans include storing nuclear waste inside a capsule and retrieving it with protective clay.

Experts will decide which plan is the best and most practical.

Hidekazu Asano is with the Radioactive Waste Management Funding and Research Center that is conducting the test.

He says that there are many arguments over how to handle nuclear waste, but he wants the public to feel safe by proving that nuclear waste can be retrieved with the technology now available.

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18 novembre 2014 2 18 /11 /novembre /2014 10:28

November 17, 2014

Fukushima Gov. seeks Daini plant decommissioning


Nov. 17, 2014 - Updated 12:58 UTC+1

The new governor of Fukushima Prefecture has called for the decommissioning of the Fukushima Daini nuclear power plant, which is currently offline.

Governor Masao Uchibori met with industry minister Yoichi Miyazawa on Monday for the first time since he assumed the prefecture's top post last month.

Uchibori asked the minister to proceed with work to permanently shut down all the reactors in the prefecture, including those at the Fukushima Daini plant.

The Daini power station, 10 kilometers south of the crippled Fukushima Daiichi station, was not damaged in the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami. But its operation has been suspended since the nuclear accident at the Daiichi station.

Uchibori said major challenges remain in decommissioning the reactors and managing the contaminated wastewater at the Daiichi plant.

Uchibori asked the central government in Tokyo to lead the decommissioning work and reconstruction efforts in Fukushima.

Miyazawa said the central government has no compulsory procedures under which the Daini plant would be closed. He said that plant's operator, Tokyo Electric Power Company, would be the first to make a decision on that matter.

Miyazawa said his priority as industry minister is the decommissioning of the Daiichi plant and controlling the radioactive wastewater there, as well as the reconstruction of Fukushima. He pledged that the government will play a leading role in these efforts.

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17 novembre 2014 1 17 /11 /novembre /2014 10:31

November 17, 2014

Fukushima chief urges govt. to respect local voice


Nov. 17, 2014 - Updated 10:01 UTC+1

The Fukushima governor has asked the government to give a thorough explanation before bringing in radioactive soil and other waste to storage facilities within the prefecture.

Governor Masao Uchibori met Environmental Minister Yoshio Mochiduki on Monday for the first time since he assumed the prefecture's top post last month.

They discussed the government plan to bring contaminated fallout from the 2011 Fukushima Daiichi disaster to sites in the prefecture starting in January.

Okuma and Futaba towns near the crippled plant are to host the intermediate storage facilities.

Environmental minister Mochiduki called for understanding from locals over the operation of the facilities, saying there would be many difficult issues.

Governor Uchibori stressed the need for close communications between the government, the prefecture, municipalities and landowners of the sites where the facilities will be located.

The government hopes to draw up a transportation plan by year-end and start bringing in the radioactive waste to the facilities as scheduled.

But it remains unclear whether the government can stick with the schedule. Negotiations with landowners are making slow progress.

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16 novembre 2014 7 16 /11 /novembre /2014 20:27
Meanwhile in Fukushima

Meanwhile in Fukushima


Sunday 16 November 2014 8:05PM

Image: (Seb Jarnot) Link to larger image.

Almost 4 years after the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant disaster in Japan, a sound project sends a signal to the people of Fukushima - that we are still listening.

Meanwhile in Fukushima is a collaborative audio arts project led by French artist, Dominique Balaÿ, who felt he couldn't remain passive as the disaster unfolded. Balaÿ flew to Japan and spent a month in Tokyo and Fukushima, collected more than 30 hours of field recordings and interviews, and created an online library of 'open sounds'. He invited sound artists all over the world to work with those recordings to create, compose and connect.

Since 2011, more than 50 artists have participated in the the project, which has featured in 20+ countries. And for all the soundies out there who would like to get involved -

Meanwhile in Fukushima is still taking contributions.

Dominique Balaÿ, born in 1968, works and lives in the South of France. He's the founder and artistic director of WebSYNradio.

Meanwhile in Fukushima playlist

Tomoko Momiyama, I Saw Time, under a Cherry Tree
Carl Stone, Threnody, for the victims of Fukushima
Bérangère Maximin & Colin Johnco, Le fléau
Roxanne Turcotte, Zone d'exclusion
Cristian Vogel, Candle song

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16 novembre 2014 7 16 /11 /novembre /2014 20:18

November 16, 2014

Contaminated water swamps Fukushima No. 1 cleanup




More than three years into the massive cleanup of the Fukushima No. 1 power plant, only a tiny fraction of the workers are focused on key tasks such as preparing for the dismantling of the wrecked reactors and removing radioactive fuel rods.

Instead, nearly all the workers at Fukushima No. 1 are devoted to a single, enormously distracting problem: coping with the vast amount of contaminated water, a mixture of groundwater running into recycled water that becomes contaminated and leaks after being pumped into the reactors to keep their melted cores from overheating.

A number of buildings housing water treatment machines and hundreds of huge blue and gray industrial storage tanks to store the excess water are rapidly taking over the grounds at the plant, which saw three of its six reactor cores suffer meltdowns from the 3/11 quake and tsunami. Workers were still building more tanks during a visit to the complex Wednesday by a group of foreign media.

“The contaminated water is a most pressing issue that we must tackle. There is no doubt about that,” said Akira Ono, head of the plant. “Our effort to mitigate the problem is at its peak now. Though I cannot say exactly when, I hope things start getting better when the measures start taking effect.”

The numbers tell the story:

6,000 workers

Every day, about 6,000 workers pass through the guarded gate of Fukushima No. 1, located on the Pacific coast, two to three times more than when it was actually generating electricity.

On a recent workday, about 100 workers were dismantling a makeshift roof over one of the reactor buildings, while about a dozen others were removing fuel rods from a cooling pool. Most of the rest were dealing with contaminated water-related work, said Tatsuhiro Yamagishi, a spokesman for plant operator Tokyo Electric Power Co.

The work threatens to exhaust the supply of workers for other tasks, since they must stop working when they reach annual radiation exposure limits. Experts say it is crucial to reduce the amount and radioactivity of the contaminated water to decrease the risk of exposure to workers and the environmental impact before the decommissioning work gets closer to the highly contaminated core area.

40 years

The plant has six reactors, three of which were offline when disaster struck on March 11, 2011, a magnitude-9.0 earthquake that triggered huge tsunami that swept into the plant and knocked out its backup power and cooling systems, leading to core meltdowns in the three active reactors.

Decommissioning and dismantling all six of the reactors is a delicate, time-consuming process that includes removing the melted fuel from a highly radioactive environment as well as all the extra fuel rods, which sit in cooling pools situated at the top of the reactor buildings.

The entire job still requires finding out the exact conditions of the melted fuel debris and developing remote-controlled and radiation-resistant robotics to deal with them, and the work is expected to take at least 40 years.

500,000 tons

The main problem is an abundant inflow of groundwater into the contaminated water that doubles the volume and spreads it to vast areas of the compound. Workers have jury-rigged a pipe-and-hose system to continuously pump water into the reactors to cool the clumps of melted fuel inside.

The water becomes contaminated upon exposure to the radioactive fuel, and much of it pours into the reactor and turbine basements, and maintenance trenches that extend to the Pacific Ocean. The plant recycles some of the contaminated water as cooling water after partially treating it, but groundwater is also flowing into the damaged reactor buildings and mixing with contaminated water, creating a huge excess that needs to be pumped out.

So far, more than 500,000 tons of radioactive water have been stored in nearly 1,000 large tanks that workers have built, which now cover most of the sprawling plant premises. After a series of leaks from the storage tanks last year, they are now being replaced with costlier welded tanks.

That dwarfs the 9,000 tons of contaminated water produced during the 1979 partial meltdown at Three Mile Island in the United States. In that incident, it took 14 years for the water to evaporate, said Lake Barrett, a retired U.S. nuclear regulatory official who was part of the early mitigation team there and has visited Fukushima No. 1.

“This is a much more complex, much more difficult water management problem,” Barrett said.

¥10 trillion

An estimated ¥2 trillion will be needed just for decontamination and other mitigation of the water problem. Altogether, the entire decommissioning process, including compensation for area residents, reportedly will cost about ¥10 trillion.

All this for a plant that will never produce a kilowatt of energy again.

The work threatens to exhaust the supply of workers for other tasks, since they must stop working when they reach annual radiation exposure limits. About 500 workers are digging deep holes in preparation to build a taxpayer-funded ¥32 billion underground “frozen wall” around the four reactors and their turbine buildings to try to keep the contaminated water from seeping out.

Tepco is developing systems to try to remove most radioactive elements from the water. One, the Advanced Liquid Processing System (ALPS), has been trouble-plagued, but utility officials hope to achieve a daily capacity of 2,000 tons when it enters full operation next month. Officials hope to be able to treat all contaminated water by the end of March, but that is far from certain.



See also on the Asahi Simbun:

November 13, 2014

Nuclear cleanup at Fukushima plant stymied by water woes


Water: "An enormously distracting problem"

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