Lead story tonight from EX-SKF. See the original with Japanese at:
Japanese Government to Municipalities Against Accepting Radioactive Waste: “Shut Up”
That, in my crude paraphrasing, is what the Japanese national government is telling those municipalities in Japan that are siding with the residents who are against receiving radioactive waste – whether it is radioactive fly ashes from incineration plants or radioactive sewage sludge – to be burned, buried, or recycle in their towns, as long as the radioactivity is 8,000 becquerels/kg and less.
Or more formally according to NHK,
the Ministry of the Environment has requested the municipalities throughout Japan not to restrict the acceptance of waste without any scientific evidence and legal basis and not to instruct the private waste processing companies not to accept the waste.
The national government has declared it is safe, and IAEA agrees with them, says NHK.
Does IAEA really say it is safe to bury 8,000 becquerels/kg radioactive cesium in a regular dump? Somehow, I have my doubts.
“Request” is a strong word, bureaucratically speaking, but short of outright order which may yet to come.
NHK News (1/21/2012):基準以下の廃棄物 処分を要請
The national government requests the processing of radioactive waste if within the safety limit
As municipalities continue to refuse to accept and process the ashes from garbage incineration or sewage sludge in the Tokyo metropolitan region and other locations, the Ministry of the Environment has requested the municipalities throughout Japan not to refuse.
As to the garbage ashes and sewage sludge, the Ministry of the Environment has already set the standard of 8,000 becquerels/kg of radioactive cesium; if the radioactivity is 8,000 becquerels/kg and less, it is OK to bury the ashes and sewage sludge in a regular landfill. However, there are many cases in which processing of ashes and sludge from the Tokyo metropolitan region and in Tohoku region has been refused by the municipalities under contract, due to the opposition from the residents in the receiving municipalities.
To remedy the situation, the Ministry of the Environment has requested the municipalities throughout Japan not to restrict the acceptance of waste without any scientific evidence and legal basis and not to instruct the private waste processing companies not to accept the waste. According to the Ministry, not only the experts in Japan but also the IAEA agree that when the ashes and sewage sludge with 8,000 becquerels/kg and less radioactive cesium are buried in a landfill, safety of the residents living near the landfill is not a problem.
The Ministry of the Environment says, “We want them to understand that if it is within the safety standard, it is safe. We will continue to coordinate with the municipalities and explain to the residents so that the appropriate processing [of the radioactive waste] can be done.”
Next, I fully expect the Ministry of the Environment to say the same thing about disaster debris in Miyagi and Iwate, which the Tokyo government has been merrily burning in the municipal incinerators and dumping the ashes into the final processing location which is a landfill in the middle of Tokyo Bay. (Liquefaction, anyone?)
In some municipalities, landfills are located near the water sources, and the landfills have been known for leaking toxic substances into the water by faulty or broken filtering systems.
Residents of east Japan including Kanto region are against receiving it because they do not want added radioactive materials on top of what they already have. Residents of west Japan do not want it because most of west Japan has been spared of serious contamination like that of east Japan, and do not want to contaminate their soil, air and water.
More ordinary people on the net are getting more knowledgeable than the government officials and politicians. They may have no problem coming up with the scientific evidence and legal basis to refuse the radioactive waste.
By the way, the ashes from burning the regular household garbage in Iwaki City in Fukushima Prefecture has been burned in the melting furnace into slags in Saitama Prefecture, which are then turned into sands to be used in the public works in Saitama. The prefecture didn’t know about it until citizens told the officials, as the prefectural government is not involved in the transaction between the private business in Saitama and a municipality in other prefecture.
An increasing number of Japanese seem, finally, to think if they allow the government to get its way, nowhere in their country can remain clean (excluding the background of course from the nuclear fallout from the atmospheric testing). They’d better hurry and educate their non-net-based friends and family members.
Radioactive gravel also used in construction of private house in Fukushima
FUKUSHIMA — Highly radioactive gravel from inside the Fukushima nuclear disaster evacuation zone that was traced to several construction projects in Fukushima Prefecture, including apartment buildings and local schools, was also used in the construction of a private house here, it has been learned.
- Inside four times higher than surrounding areas
- House’s foundations 1.5-1.9uS/hr
- Under the house floor: 0.8-0.85uS.hr
Article continues at:
Radiation of 40 microsieverts per hour detected at Namie quarry
Up to 40 microsieverts of radiation per hour have been detected from gravel at a quarry in Fukushima Prefecture that shipped tainted gravel for construction work, government officials have said.
Hosono explains decontamination steps for Fukushima
In a ceremony to mark the opening of the ministry’s new office in Fukushima City, Hosono said the government plans to set up 5 branches of the office in Fukushima Prefecture and increase the number of staff from the current 69 to 200 in April.
The Fukushima Office for Environmental Restoration is being set up to serve as the government’s hub for proceeding with radioactive decontamination work.
Hosono added that a timetable for decontamination steps for the government-designated evacuation zone will be drawn up by the end of March.
After the ceremony, Hosono told reporters that he will do more to obtain consent for the planned construction of an intermediate storage facility for radioactive soil.
Local municipalities have come out against the government’s desire to build the facility in the Futaba district near the nuclear plant.
Gov’t not adding up nuclear workers’ radiation doses when not at work
TOKYO, Jan. 21, Kyodo
Noam Chomsky sends message of support to the Fukushima Evacuate Children Lawsuit
On 2012/01/12, at 11:50, Noam Chomsky wrote:
It is a privilege to be able to lend personal support to the Fukushima Evacuate Children Lawsuit. There is no better measure of the moral health of a society than how it treats the most vulnerable people within it, and none or more vulnerable, or more precious, than children who are the victims of unconscionable actions. For Japan, and for all of us, this is a test that we must not fail.
Read entire article (in Japanese) at:
Inside Fukushima I Nuke Plant Reactor 2 Containment Vessel – Longer Version (3/4)
NISA Hid Fast Breeder “Monju” Trouble for Over a Month
The Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency’s excuse is that the operator, Japan Atomic Energy Agency, did make an announcement of the trouble “locally” – probably meaning the municipality where the fast breeder is located.
Article continues at:
Found a great blog, “Akio Matsumura, Finding the Missing Link” with a good article on Reactor #4.
The Fourth Reactor and the Destiny of Japan
September 29, 2011
By Akio Matsumura
Since the accident at the Fukuhsima Daichi nuclear power plants, I have presented the opinions of several eminent scientists on the Fukushima disaster and we have received many insightful responses. I as a layman am learning new terminologies and of potential problems that could continue to affect the area for hundreds of years.
From population to democracy, the issues I have studied in four decades of international work seem rather shortsighted when compared to a potential nuclear disaster that would affect our descendants for perhaps twenty thousand years.
Dangers of the Spent Fuel Pool of Unit 4 at Fukushima Dai-ichi
FYI – Here are copies of two letters addressed to Akio Matsumura, a Japanese activist with high-level political concerns. Akio has been particularly concerned about the spent fuel pool in reactor Unit 4 at Fukushima-Dai-ichi.
The following two letters were written in an attempt to answer further questions posed by Mr. Matsumura.
January 13 2012 Dear Akio:
Regarding the spent fuel pool in Reactor Unit 4 of the Fukushima Dai-ichi Nuclear Power Station:
(1) If the spent fuel pool were to topple or collapse or even shift away from the horizontal, as a result of an earthquake or other major event, we will be in a situation that has never been studied or analyzed by nuclear scientists anywhere in the world.
(2) Loss of coolant from the pool will result in intense gamma radiation fields that may prevent access by atomic workers for hundreds of metres in all directions, preventing prompt or timely remediation efforts from taking place.
(3) Overheating of uncooled spent fuel in the pool will drive temperatures upwards and will eventually result in renewed releases of radioactive fission products into the atmosphere due to the complete lack of any containment structure surrounding the pool.
(4) At about 900-1000 degrees C, intense chemical reactions between the zirconium cladding of the fuel and steam will add to the heat load, driving temperatures up even faster and exacerbating the radioactive releases.
(5) At these temperatures an intensely hot zirconium fire may well start, releasing tiny aerosol particles of spent fuel (called “nuclear fleas”) that may be carried hundreds of kilometers by the winds, and that will constitute potent sources of radiation exposure and radioactive contamination for centuries to come.
(6) Under adverse conditions, a fuel meltdown within the pool is still possible after several days of heating, occurring at temperatures of about 2800 degrees C; such a meltdown would be uncontained due to the lack of a containment structure for the spent fuel pool.
(7) Crowding of the spent fuel due to gravitational or other forces can restart the fission process within the pool, greatly increasing the danger level to workers, theDangers of the Spent Fuel Pool of Unit 4 at Fukushima Dai-ichi
public, and the environment, shortening the time for a fuel meltdown, and contributing a new generation of short-lived heat-generating fission products to be dispersed into the environment.
NOTE: Point number 7 above does not apply to CANDU spent fuel pools. Since CANDU fuel is unenriched it cannot undergo nuclear fission when immersed in ordinary water; it would require expensive “heavy water” in order to restart the fission chain reaction, and this is simply not available in CANDU spent fuel pools.
January 13 2012 Dear Akio:
You asked me why there has been so little warning from the “nuclear establishment” (TEPCO and the regulatory agency) about the potential for catastrophic accidents involving the spent fuel pool in reactor number 4.
In the field of nuclear safety, the focus of attention has always been on analyzing and preventing catastrophic accidents involving the core of the reactor.
In comparison, little attention has been paid over the years to catastrophic accident scenarios involving the spent fuel pool.
Since the very first US Reactor Safety Study, the “Brookhaven Report” in 1957, to the major 12-volume US NRC Reactor Safety Study (the Rasmussen Report) of 1974, and continuing right down to the present day, virtually all of the attention has been directed to extreme conditions that might develop in the core of the reactor — unterminated power excursions, loss of coolant accidents, breach of the reactor vessel, core meltdowns, and so on.
Most nuclear engineers and nuclear regulators have developed a “blind spot” about the catastrophe potential associated with the spent fuel bay because of years of neglect. Such considerations have never played a significant role in their training as nuclear engineers or in their many subsequent years of experience in the field of nuclear safety analysis.
As a result we have backup pumps, backup electrical supply systems, and backup cooling systems for the core of the reactor, but NO backup pumps or electrical supply or cooling system for the spent fuel bay. We have extravagant containment systems for the core of the reactor, but no comparable containment systems for the spent fuel pool.
This absence of backup systems for the spent fuel pool is testimony to the lack of effort and lack of forethought that has been devoted to the spent fuel bay. Never- theless, the radioactive inventory in the spent fuel pool is often much greater than that in the core of the reactor, and a prolonged loss of coolant — or even loss of circulation of coolant — will lead to overheating of the fuel and extensive fuel
Dangers of the Spent Fuel Pool of Unit 4 at Fukushima Dai-ichi
damage. This will result in significant releases of radioactive fission products into the atmosphere due to the inadequate or even non-existent containment provided for the spent fuel pool.
Moreover, a loss of coolant in the spent fuel pool — whether by leakage, spillage, or boiling off of the cooling water — will lead to intense gamma radiation that would prevent human access for hundreds of metres in all directions around the spent fuel pool, making it very difficult to take corrective actions.
Under adverse circumstances there can even be a fuel meltdown in the spent fuel pool, if the temperature climbs to about 2800 degrees C, which would vastly increase radioactive releases and spread those releases over a much wider area.
The overheating of the spent fuel in the pool can be exacerbated by the intense exothermic reaction between the zirconium cladding and the steam produced from the overheated water, and can even result (at around 1000 degrees C) in a very intense zirconium fire which can result in tiny particles of intensely radioactive spent fuel being liberated into the atmosphere.
Depending on the diameter of these “hot particles” (sometimes referred to as “nuclear fleas”) they can be transported greater or lesser distances by the wind, possibly affecting populations hundreds of kilometers from the spent fuel pool. Once dispersed into the environment, these hot particles will constitute a source of radiation exposure and environmental contamination for centuries to come.
In addition to the possibility of zirconium fires (which have for a long time been almost completely overlooked by nuclear engineers and regulators) there is another, even more dangerous possibility. An alteration in the geometry of the spent fuel in the pool, by which the separation between the spent fuel rods is slightly but significantly reduced, can lead to re-initiation of the chain reaction in the pool. [True for “light water reactors” : not so for CANDU reactors.]
Such “accidental criticality” will not only drive the temperature up rapidly, but will replenish the supply of short-lived heat-producing fission products, accelerating damage to the fuel, magnifying the heat loading, increasing the probability of a fuel pool meltdown, & vastly increasing the atmospheric releases of radioactivity.
It has been a standard practice in the nuclear industry to avoid consideration of all of these possibilities, based on the assumption that there will be “lots of time” to react to any emergency involving the spent fuel pool, as it will normally take days for the spent fuel to reach the melting point and it will be a “simple matter” to refill the pools with water if necessary.
This ignores the fact that major structural damage may make it impossible to approach the spent fuel pool due to the lethal levels of gamma radiation emanating from the spent fuel once the protective shielding of the water is gone.
The Need for Independent Assessment of the Fourth Reactor
October 25, 2011
by Gordon Edwards, Ph.D.
In his recent blog, entitled “The Fourth Reactor and the Destiny of Japan”, Akio Matsumura correctly identifies the spent fuel pool in Unit 4 as the most serious potential threat for further massive radioactive releases from the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant.
If not cooled by mechanical means for at least several years, the irradiated fuel in the spent fuel pool will overheat due to radioactivity alone. The heat generated by radioactivity must be removed as fast as it is being produced to keep the temperature of the nuclear fuel from soaring out of control.
Updated January 20, 2012 06:30:47
Japan has been accused of betraying its own people by giving the American military information about the spread of radiation from Fukushima more than a week before it told the Japanese public.
The mayor of a Japanese community abandoned because of its proximity to the Fukushima nuclear plant has told AM the government’s actions are akin to murder.
Article continues at:
Japan Still Pushing Nuclear Power
New plan changes 40-year limit to 60 years; nuclear opponents outraged
The Japanese government’s decision to allow nuclear reactors to run as long as 60 years has anti-nuclear activists worried that lessons of Fukushima have not been learned.
The Japan Times reports:
The central government announced its plan Tuesday, the 17th anniversary of the Great Hanshin Earthquake in Kobe. Under the proposal, once a reactor hits its 40th year, its operator could apply for a one-time extension of up to 20 years under certain conditions.
The plan had been to shut down reactors after 40 years.
Yesterday a group of citizens protested at a nuclear hearing on two reactors.Reuters reports:
In a rare protest, a group of citizen observers delayed for hours a hearing at the trade ministry on Wednesday, at which the nuclear watchdog presented to experts its first completed review of stress test results for two reactors from Fukui prefecture’s Ohi nuclear power plant.
The watchdog, Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency (NISA), said in a draft report the tests showed the reactors were capable of withstanding a severe shock similar to the magnitude 9.0 earthquake and tsunami that crippled the Fukushima plant. But the report’s review by a panel of experts is set to continue after observers demanded access to the deliberations and questioned the expert panel’s impartiality.
The Japan Times notes that nuclear experts believe the extension decision came from political and profit motivations.
“Deciding to extend the life of the plants to up to 60 years was a purely political decision made due to pressure from the nuclear power lobby. It wasn’t based on scientific data. And it was made despite the fact we don’t know the exact cause of the meltdowns at Fukushima,” said Hiroaki Koide, a nuclear physicist at Kyoto University Reactor Research Institute who turned against nuclear power years ago and wrote extensively before March 11 on the dangers of aging plants in quake-prone Japan. […]
Aileen Mioko Smith, executive director of Kyoto-based Green Action, warned that operating reactors for six decades runs a high risk of another Fukushima-like accident occurring and is unnecessary, given that even with about 90 percent of the nation’s nuclear plants currently shut down, there is enough electricity.
“The decision is a clear indication that the Japanese government has trashed safety concerns in order not just to protect the utilities from their investments but also to allow them to make even more money on decrepit nuclear plants,” she said.