Day 408 “30 tons of plutonium sitting around” WTF?!?!?!

Today’s headlines….

Group fails to report plans for plutonium

Kyodo

The Federation of Electric Power Companies of Japan has violated government policy by failing to compile a plan on how it intends to use the half ton of plutonium it expects to extract from spent fuel in fiscal 2012, sources said Saturday.

The deadline was March 31, when fiscal 2011 ended. Without a plan, Japan could come under international fire again for its blatant lack of transparency, given the risks of the plutonium being diverted for nuclear weapons use or terrorism.

Japan has around 30 tons of plutonium sitting around for nuclear power generation, but only a few kilograms are needed for a nuclear weapon.

At the end of 2009, Japan had the fifth-largest stores of plutonium for nonmilitary use, according to the International Atomic Energy Agency.

Article continues at:

http://www.japantimes.co.jp/text/nn20120423a4.html

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More from the Huffington Post:

The Fukushima Nuclear Disaster Is Far From Over

by Robert Alvarez

Spent reactor fuel, containing roughly 85 times more long-lived radioactivity than released at Chernobyl, still sits in pools vulnerable to earthquakes.

More than a year after the Fukushima nuclear power disaster began, the news media is just beginning to grasp that the dangers to Japan and the rest of the world are far from over. After repeated warnings by former senior Japanese officials, nuclear experts, and now a U.S. Senator, it’s sinking in that the irradiated nuclear fuel stored in spent fuel pools amidst the reactor ruins pose far greater dangers than the molten cores. This is why:

• Nearly all of the 10,893 spent fuel assemblies sit in pools vulnerable to future earthquakes, with roughly 85 times more long-lived radioactivity than released at Chernobyl

• Several pools are 100 feet above the ground and are completely open to the atmosphere because the reactor buildings were demolished by explosions. The pools could possibly topple or collapse from structural damage coupled with another powerful earthquake.

• The loss of water exposing the spent fuel will result in overheating and can cause melting and ignite its zirconium metal cladding resulting in a fire that could deposit large amounts of radioactive materials over hundreds, if not thousands of miles.

 [snip]

Last week, Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO) revealed plans to remove 2,274 spent fuel assemblies from the damaged reactors that will probably take at least a decade to accomplish. The first priority will be removal of the contents in Pool No. 4. This pool is structurally damaged and contains about 10 times more cesium-137 than released at Chernobyl. Removal of SNF from the No. 4 reactor is optimistically expected to begin at the end of 2013. A significant amount of construction to remove debris and reinforce the structurally-damaged reactor buildings, especially the fuel- handling areas, will be required.

 Read the entire article at:

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/robert-alvarez/the-fukushima-nuclear-dis_b_1444146.html?ref=green

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Bigger jolts than projected could hit Tomari, Tsuruga nuke plants

TOKYO, April 23, Kyodo

Earthquakes larger than the maximum jolts anticipated under quake-resistant standards for nuclear power plants could occur around Hokkaido Electric Power Co.’s Tomari plant in Hokkaido Prefecture and Japan Electric Power Co.’s Tsuruga plant in Fukui Prefecture, electric power companies’ reports showed Monday.

The calculation was included in analyzes made by utilities at the request of the Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency in the wake of the March 11, 2011, disaster. Utilities were asked to examine the possibility of interlocked movements on active faults around their nuclear power plants.

Possible quakes near Tokyo Electric Power Co.’s Kashiwazaki-Kariwa plant in Niigata Prefecture, Hokuriku Electric Power Co.’s Shiga plant in Ishikawa Prefecture, and Kansai Electric Power Co.’s Mihama and Oi plants in Fukui Prefecture were estimated to be smaller than the largest jolts anticipated in their design.

Article continues at:

http://english.kyodonews.jp/news/2012/04/154410.html

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No evacuation plans for 4.42 million residents near nuclear plants

Even after the disaster at the Fukushima No. 1 Nuclear Power Plant, almost all local governments in Hokkaido and 20 other prefectures are without comprehensive evacuation measures for a total of about 4.42 million residents within 30 kilometers of nuclear power plants, according to a tally by the Mainichi Shimbun.

Some of the municipalities are beset with potential traffic congestion and other problems and question if such evacuation programs are feasible in the first place. The Mainichi tally comes as the central government is trying to restart idled nuclear reactors despite the absence of sufficient evacuation measures across the densely populated country.

In the aftermath of the Fukushima nuclear crisis, in March this year an expert panel of the Nuclear Safety Commission of Japan drew up a midterm report in which the government had decided to expand emergency planning zones (EPZs) within a radius of 8 to 10 kilometers of nuclear power plants to the 30-kilometer radius urgent protection action planning zone (UPZ).

 Article continues at:
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Nothing new here for readers of this blog or anyone who has been keeping up-to-date about the current state of affairs at Daiichi, but a good recap nonetheless:

Is Fukushima’s Doomsday Machine About To Blow? – OpEd

April 20, 2012

Mounting troubles at Japan’s hobbled Fukushima Dai-Ichi nuclear power plant now pose a real threat to human survival. If the area in which Unit 4 is struck by another 7.0 magnitude earthquake, there’s a 70 percent chance that “the entire fuel pool structure will collapse” and massive doses of lethal nuclear radiation will be released into the atmosphere. The disaster would release approximately “134 million curies is Cesium-137 — roughly 85 times the amount of Cs-137 released at Chernobyl as estimated by the U.S. National Council on Radiation Protection (NCRP).” Experts believe that the amounts are sufficient to “destroy the world environment and our civilization”, which makes containment “an issue of human survival.” (“The Greatest Single Threat to Humanity: Fuel Pool Number 4″, Washington’s blog)

Article continues at:

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Projections released for radiation hot spots in Fukushima through 2032

FUKUSHIMA — The government on April 22 released six hot spot charts to show projected annual dose rates of radioactive materials spewing from the crippled Fukushima No. 1 Nuclear Power Plant from the end of March this year through 2032.

The charts, based on airborne monitoring of radioactive contamination in November last year, compare annual dose rates in March this year with projections for 2013, 2014, 2017, 2022 and 2032.

Article continues at:

http://mainichi.jp/english/english/newsselect/news/20120423p2a00m0na010000c.html

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Trials and Tribulations of a Tea Drinker

I am an avid tea drinker. Green tea, to be exact. Ever since I gave up coffee years ago, it’s been my go-to bitter hot cup of comfort in the morning. But recent events have made me think twice about my favorite beverage.

Last year’s Fukushima disaster may have more or less disappeared from the headlines, but its nuclear fallout remains, and people are rightly concerned about the state of affected crops. While food from Japan is not routinely a concern of Americans—foods imported from Japan made up less than 4% of all foods imported by the U.S. in 2010—green tea aficionados like myself have cause to wonder.

Article continues at:

http://www.commondreams.org/view/2012/04/21-4

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Announcement:

Giving Back to Japan

Public Event by SAFECAST

http://blog.safecast.org/

http://www.facebook.com/safecast

17:30 until 20:00
HITOTSUBASHI HALL, Hitotsubashi 2-1-2, 101-0003 Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo, Japan
Safecast volunteer and Mayor of Aizu Misato is one of the panel speakers and SAFECAST is participating at the event with an information booth showing equipment and handling any Q&A regarding radiation measurement.
——–
On May 16, 2012, The Netherlands Chamber of Commerce and Tohoku Planning Forum, supported by 16 national chambers of commerce, will present GIVING BACK TO JAPAN 2: Community Leaders Report, a public forum featuring leaders of cities and towns across Tohoku, whose communities face different reconstruction issues and are at different stages of reconstruction.

The speakers will be:
Mr. Hidetoshi Watanabe (Mayor of Aizu Misato Machi, Fukushima)
Mr. Tsuneaki Iguchi (Mayor of Iwanuma Shi, Miyagi)
Mr. Kimiaki Toda (Mayor of Ofunato Shi, Iwate)
Mr. Yoshiaki Suda (Mayor of Onagawa Cho, Miyagi)
Mr. Kiichi Numazaki (Mayor of Yamada Machi, Iwate)

Television and radio presenter Peter Barakan will guide a discussion about communities’ rebuilding processes and ongoing needs, as well as allowing the elected officials to present their suggestions for ways in which individuals and organizations can help their communities toward their goals.

The forum will be followed by networking reception.
Doors open at 17 hrs.

http://www.nccj.jp/index.php/events/upcoming-events/details/68-gbtj2

http://www.nccj.jp/images/stories/givingbacktojapan2v2.pdf

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