Fukushima update 2019

please scroll down for Japanese language version of this update

In the 8 years since the meltdowns of three nuclear reactors at Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant in Japan, the extreme difficulty of cleaning up, or even sticking a working bandaid on the power plant, has become slowly more obvious and more undeniable. Tepco, the company who own the plant, managed to dangle a robot the size of three end-to-end drink cans into reactor 2 in Feb 2019, to poke the pile of melted fuel on the floor under the former reactor. They had a video camera on board, as well as some tongs fitted, so were able to film their robot scooping up a few gravel-like lumps of fuel, yet found that other ‘areas’ of fuel were set like concrete, and will need to be angle-ground or cut out, rather than just scooped up. Difficult when the radiation there will kill any worker in minutes.

One of the biggest dangers is that if you go moving around lumps of highly radioactive material you can accidently bring lumps of it close enough together that will then go critical. A mini nuclear explosion could be the result, which even the Japanese government admit would not improve the site nor make it easier to clean up.

Tepco admitted in October 2018 that the 1.1 million tonnes of contaminated water stored at the site “needs further treatment/filtering” before they can be “released into the ocean”. They found that the ALPS filters had “consistently failed to eliminate a cocktail of other radioactive elements, including iodine, ruthenium, rhodium, antimony, tellurium, cobalt and strontium,” and that over 80% of the water is above the limits set for just throwing it in the ocean. 600,000 Bq/litre of strontium-90 was found in some tanks. For years Tepco has claimed the water only contains tritium, and so if they diluted it with more sea-water they could just throw it in the sea, while never releasing any figures for the actual content of the ‘treated’ water. They are still pumping out and storing around 150 tonnes a day from the reactor building basements, since the ice-wall is “only partially effective” at stopping ground water flowing into the basements. Maybe the next tsunami will just sweep the 1.1 million tonnes of water and the millions of tonnes of waste from the “clean-up” of Fukushima prefecture that are stacked in black bags along the coast into the ocean for them. Job done …

The ALPS filter system is operated by Hitachi, who are not having a good run, having just given up on trying to build two nuclear power reactors in North Wales and two in Gloucestershire, as the “numbers didn’t add up”. Two months earlier, Toshiba gave up on a planned nuclear power station next to Sellafield, in Cumbria, and six months before that Mitsubishi gave up on planned reactors in Turkey, for the same reason. So all three Japanese nuclear corporations have abandoned attempts to spread these deadly plants outside Japan. Only the French, Russian and Chinese governments are still wanting to build them, for reasons of geopolitics and bureaucratic pride/inertia.

Yet 24.9 GW of onshore wind was installed in Asia/Pacific in 2018 alone, bringing the total there to 256 GW. 51.3 GW of wind was installed globally in 2018. The EU installed 8 GW of solar in the same year. Cheaper, quicker, cleaner, doesn’t melt down and poison your country. (Each nuke is about 1 GW.)

With the Olympics scheduled for next year, partly in Fukushima prefecture, they have only found one third of the volunteers they need for the games, mostly old folk. Youth and teenagers don’t want to know, it seems. Surprise. Meanwhile, three swimming pools full of deadly spent fuel remain up on the 4th floors of three of the reactor buildings. One more nasty earthquake collapsing those buildings would probably lead to northern Japan becoming uninhabitable. They hope to have the pools emptied in 5 or 10 years …

After eight years more than 50,000 people are still refugees from the disaster. Many are being forced to move back into radioactively contaminated zones, because the acceptable radiation exposure limit has been raised from 1 to 20 mSv/year and the “financial assistance for evacuees” has been terminated. For citizens in the rest of Japan and the rest of the world the radiation exposure limit is 1mSv/year as set by the ICRP (International Commission on Radio- logical Protection).

In surveys, about 10% of former residents say they plan to move back one day; 60% say they have no plans to move back. Chicken or egg: few people means not much rebuilding of facilities; few facilities means few want to move back. Around 30 group lawsuits demanding compensation have been lodged around Japan, often meeting with success. 5 out of 6 recent cases against the government have resulted in the government and Tepco being held liable due to failing to prepare for the tsunami (foreseeable since 2009, said the courts) and failing to avoid the hydrogen explosions by placing the cooling equipment, generators, on high enough land.

Across Japan some courts, some local governments and many residents are denying permission to restart nuclear reactors. South Korea, Taiwan and China still refuse to buy Fukushima produce. The cleanup might take 40 years; in 2015 the plant manager said maybe 200 years. A conservative think tank, the Japan Centre for Economic Research, said it might cost $640 billion.

272 children have been found to have thyroid cancer. Daily average emissions into air and water from July to September, 2018 were 5.26 million Becquerels of caesium (134 and 137 combined).

When nuclear goes wrong, it goes really wrong. Even an Olympic Games can’t pretend otherwise.

For the best updates, photos and videos on the situation at Fukushima: http://www.fukuleaks.org/web/


福島 最新情報 2019年








福島の最新情報や写真、動画は、こちらの閲覧もお勧めします: http://www.fukuleaks.org/web/


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