Day 194.2 And today’s Fukushima news…

Residents furious over 60-page application, 160-page manual for TEPCO compensation

A TEPCO assistance center, where a two-hour waiting line formed after just 30 minutes, is pictured in the city of Fukushima on Sept. 20. (Mainichi)

A TEPCO assistance center, where a two-hour waiting line formed after just 30 minutes, is pictured in the city of Fukushima on Sept. 20. (Mainichi)

Residents affected by the ongoing crisis at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant are furious after learning they will have to wade through a 60-page application form — accompanied by a 160-page manual — to seek compensation from the plant’s operator, Tokyo Electric Power Co. (TEPCO).

The company, which on Sept. 12 started sending out documents for individual compensation claims for the period between March and August, says its careful explanation of the process resulted in a large amount of documentation. However, this hasn’t appeased residents.

“One can only assume it’s to prevent people from billing them,” one resident commented.

Before the company started sending out the application forms, it was receiving about 1000 inquiries a day, but that figure has now jumped to about 3,000 a day.

“The application forms arrived a few days ago, but I can’t understand them at all, so I haven’t started on them yet,” said one man in his 60s who is living in a temporary housing unit in Tamura, Fukushima Prefecture. “Unless I hear an explanation of the process directly at a meeting, it’ll be impossible.”

Fifty-nine-year-old Shigeru Sugioka, who attended an explanatory meeting for residents of the village of Iitate — part of the evacuation zone around the plant — on Sept. 20, commented, “We came the previous day as well, but there were too many people there so we came again today. We’re worried about whether we’ll get the amount we’ve claimed. But more than that, we’re unhappy with TEPCO’s attitude.”

TEPCO now has 280 people handling explanatory meetings for residents in Fukushima Prefecture, but from October it will boost this number to 900. However, other residents who have ended up scattered across Japan in the wake of the disaster are unable to have the process explained to them directly, and have no option but to phone TEPCO.

Yoshio Suzuki, 44, took refuge in Kitakyushu in southern Japan after being forced out of his home about a dozen kilometers from the Fukushima nuclear complex, and he’s angered by the lack of assistance.

“I don’t know what to do. There’s no way I can settle a problem that will determine the course of my future over the phone. TEPCO should visit each person and explain the process to them,” he said.

Katsutaka Idogawa, mayor of the Fukushima Prefecture town of Futaba — just north of the nuclear plant — lambasted TEPCO over the application process.

“I’m angered at the company’s high-handed approach in which it won’t pay compensation unless people fill in a wad of forms,” he said. On Sept. 17, he demanded that the company cease its explanatory meetings, and none have been held for the town since Sept. 18.

It has emerged that any claims for the period from September onwards will have to be filed every three months, and residents have called for simplification of subsequent applications, but as the situation stands, that seems unlikely.

“At the present stage we do not plan any alterations,” a TEPCO representative said.

(Mainichi Japan) September 20, 2011

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Fairewinds Introduces a Japanese Language Edition and Identifies Safety Problems in all Reactors Designed Like Fukushima

See Japanese site at:

http://www.fairewinds.com/ja

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Protesters voice distrust, concern in huge anti-nuclear rally in Tokyo

Protestors carry anti-nuclear banners in Tokyo's Shibuya Ward during the Sept. 19 demonstration, the largest since the Fukushima disaster. (Mainichi)
Protestors carry anti-nuclear banners in Tokyo’s Shibuya Ward during the Sept. 19 demonstration, the largest since the Fukushima disaster. (Mainichi)

When tens of thousands of people marched through central Tokyo on Sept. 19 in the country’s largest anti-nuclear demonstration since the Fukushima nuclear catastrophe, there were a variety of reasons for people to be there — fear, anger, loneliness, longing for home, and distrust just a few of them.

“I want to see everyone involved in this — even people outside of Fukushima,” said Kenichi Yamazaki, 65, a former teacher from the city of Minamisoma, Fukushima Prefecture.

Following the explosions at the Fukushima No. 1 Nuclear Power Plant operated by Tokyo Electric Power Co. (TEPCO), Yamazaki evacuated to Kawasaki in Kanagawa Prefecture together with his wife, daughter and grandchild. His son-in-law, a firefighter, is still working in the prefecture. “We want to return,” he says, “but thinking of my 1-year-old grandchild, we can’t live there until the city is decontaminated.”

“I never thought that at this age I’d be away from home,” Yamazaki added as he made his way to the demonstration parade. “I’m concerned and sad, but unless we get involved in action, nothing will ever change.”

A 40-year-old woman from Iitate, Fukushima Prefecture, whose name has been withheld, rode a bus all the way from the city of Fukushima — where she currently lives in a temporary housing unit — to join the Sept. 19 rally.

After the power-plant disaster, she and her husband left the company where they were both employed.

“I’m here today partially because I want to criticize myself for having been so indifferent (to nuclear-related issues) up till now,” she said, recalling that as a child she once visited a nuclear power plant in Fukushima Prefecture as part of a class assignment, but she never thought about the issue in her daily life.

“There is no place to address my frustration, but at least today, I can shout ‘We don’t need nuclear power anymore’ as loud as I wish,” she said.

Also participating was a 72-year-old woman from the city of Koriyama, Fukushima Prefecture, who joined together with friends from the same city.

Protesters gather at a park for an anti-nuclear demonstration in Tokyo, on Sept. 19, 2011. (AP Photo/Koji Sasahara)

Protesters gather at a park for an anti-nuclear demonstration in Tokyo, on Sept. 19, 2011. (AP Photo/Koji Sasahara)

“All the children have left,” the 72-year-old said. “I want the city to be reinstated so that we can hear the cheerful voices of in the parks and school yards again. I can’t trust TEPCO or the government,” she added, “I think they are still hiding something inconvenient for them. The sole fact that so many people have gathered here today shows everyone’s distrust.”

A Tokyo resident, Miki Ogawa, 40, was also among the protestors.

“I believe the worst thing to do is just to sit, watch and do nothing,” she said, admitting it was her first time to join an anti-nuclear demonstration. Her parents’ house is located near the Hamaoka nuclear power plant in Shizuoka Prefecture, and ever since the Fukushima disaster, she has lived in constant fear.

“I realized that the government was lying when they told us nuclear power plants were safe,” she said.

Ogawa’s younger sister, who lives in Toda, Saitama Prefecture, gave birth to a baby girl in June this year, but is refraining from taking her outside in fear of radiation leaking from the crippled Fukushima plant.

“I want the government to abolish all nuclear power plants for the sake of our children’s futures,” Ogawa said. “Seeing so many people who share my thoughts today, I believe we can make it happen.”

(Mainichi Japan) September 20, 2011

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Groundwater flowing into Fukushima nuclear plant

In this March 11, 2011 file photo released by Tokyo Electric Power Co., tsunami waves come toward heavy oil tanks at the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear complex in Okuma, Fukushima Prefecture, northeastern Japan. (AP Photo/Tokyo Electric Power Co.)

In this March 11, 2011 file photo released by Tokyo Electric Power Co., tsunami waves come toward heavy oil tanks at the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear complex in Okuma, Fukushima Prefecture, northeastern Japan. (AP Photo/Tokyo Electric Power Co.)

TOKYO (Kyodo) — Tokyo Electric Power Co. said Tuesday it suspects that 200 to 500 tons a day of groundwater might be flowing through pits and wall cracks into reactor and turbine buildings at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant crippled by the March 11 earthquake and tsunami.

The suspicion is based on the fact that a decline in water levels in these buildings has slowed down.

“The suspected groundwater inflow is now unlikely to cause problems as the plant is capable of treating nearly 1,000 tons of radiation-contaminated water,” said an official at the company known as TEPCO.

But the inflow is expected to affect efforts to contain the Fukushima nuclear crisis. “We should assess the groundwater inflow and readjust an overall plan for treating contaminated water,” said an official of the Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency at the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry.

(Mainichi Japan) September 20, 2011

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WEDNESDAY, SEPTEMBER 14, 2011

Guest Post: Massive New Radiation Releases Possible from Fukushima … Especially If Melted Core Materials Hit Water

By Washington’s Blog

http://www.nakedcapitalism.com/2011/09/guest-post-massive-new-radiation-releases-possible-from-fukushima-especially-if-melted-core-materials-hit-water.html

Governments Underreported Severity of Fukushima

As I’ve noted for 6 months, the Japanese and U.S. governments have continually under-reported the severity of the nuclear crisis at Fukushima.

The Wall Street Journal points out:

The Japanese government initially underestimated radiation releases from the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant, in part because of untimely rain, and so exposed people unnecessarily, a report released this week by a government research institute says.

PhysOrg writes:

The amount of radiation released during the Fukushima nuclear disaster was so great that the level of atmospheric radioactive aerosols in Washington state was 10,000 to 100,000 times greater than normal levels in the week following the March 11 earthquake and tsunami that triggered the disaster.

***

[A] study [by University of Texas engineering professor Steven Biegalski and researchers at the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory] reports that more radioxenon was released from the Fukushima facilities than in the 1979 meltdown at the Three Mile Island Nuclear Generating Station in Pennsylvania and in the 1986 Chernobyl nuclear disaster in the Ukraine.

Biegalski said the reason for the large release in Fukushima, when compared to the others, is that there were three nuclear reactors at the Japan facilities rather than just one.

Nuclear expert Arnie Gundersen notes:

New TEPCO data measured on August 19 & 20 shows severe damage to the spent fuel in Fukushima Daiichi Units 1, 2, and 3…. This TEPCO data clearly contradicts and refutes the July assertion by the NRC the Fukushima Daiichi spent fuel pools were not damaged in this tragic accident.

There are also several unconfirmed reports that the Japanese government is trying to keep people from buying geiger counters to measure radiation.

New, Large Radiation Releases Are Possible

Mainichi Dailly News notes:

As a radiation meteorology and nuclear safety expert at Kyoto University’s Research Reactor Institute, Hiroaki Koide [says]:

The nuclear disaster is ongoing.

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At present, I believe that there is a possibility that massive amounts of radioactive materials will be released into the environment again.

At the No. 1 reactor, there’s a chance that melted fuel has burned through the bottom of the pressure vessel, the containment vessel and the floor of the reactor building, and has sunk into the ground. From there, radioactive materials may be seeping into the ocean and groundwater.

***

The government and plant operator TEPCO are trumpeting the operation of the circulation cooling system, as if it marks a successful resolution to the disaster. However, radiation continues to leak from the reactors. The longer the circulation cooling system keeps running, the more radioactive waste it will accumulate. It isn’t really leading us in the direction we need to go.

It’s doubtful that there’s even a need to keep pouring water into the No.1 reactor, where nuclear fuel is suspected to have burned through the pressure vessel. Meanwhile, it is necessary to keep cooling the No. 2 and 3 reactors, which are believed to still contain some fuel, but the cooling system itself is unstable. If the fuel were to become overheated again and melt, coming into contact with water and trigger a steam explosion, more radioactive materials will be released.

***

We are now head to head with a situation that mankind has never faced before.

Mainichi also reports:

The Ground Self-Defense Force (GSDF) and residents of the zone between 20 and 30 kilometers from the stricken Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant held an emergency evacuation drill on Sept. 12 … in preparation for any further large-scale emission of radioactive materials from the plant.

***

The scenario for the drill presupposed further meltdown of the Fukushima plant’s No. 3 reactor core, and a local accumulation of radioactive materials emitting 20 millisieverts of radiation within the next four days. …

And nuclear expert Paul Gunter says that we face a “China Syndrome”, where the fuel from the reactor cores at Fukushima have melted through the container vessels, into the ground, and are hitting groundwater and creating highly-radioactive steam:

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