At Y-12, the cost of designing the Uranium Processing Facility keeps spiraling: $92 million in '06, $2 billion by '16. (How do you spend 2 billion dollars designing anything?)
- See OREPA's June '15 UPF update
Click the image to download this large printable map of DOE sites, commercial reactors, nuclear waste dumps, nuclear transportation routes, surface waters near sites and transport routes, and underlying aquifers. This map was prepared by Deborah Reade for the Alliance for Nuclear Accountability.
Return to the Zone: Safecast & Matsumura
Safecast, the group of hackers using DIY geiger counters and crowd-sourcing to produce the worldŐs most accurate radiation data map, are especially interested in monitoring changes in the dead zone immediately surrounding Daiichi during the [fuel-rod] removal process.
Fukushima Updates and Recent News Archive
Graphic by FrediTeres. Click for full poster view.
September 7, 2017: Russia Will Help Japan Clean Up Fukushima Disaster Russian President Putin made the announcement at the Eastern Economic Forum in Vladivostok, Sept 7.
"Officials say the decommissioning of the wrecked Fukushima reactors will take several decades, and according to some estimates, the cost could reach $200 billion."
August 24, 2017: Navy Families Sue Fukushima Operators for Wrongful Death Families of five Navy service members who died after responding to the Fukushima nuclear meltdown have sued Tokyo Electric Power Co., blaming the deaths on radiation illnesses contracted from the March 2011 disaster.
The families will join a lawsuit from 152 other members or survivors of members of the 7th Fleet who performed humanitarian response from March 11, 2011 until March 14, when the USS Ronald Reagan aircraft carrier was moved away from Fukushima due to detection of nuclear radiation in the air and on helicopters returning to the ship.
July 21, 2017: Fukushima robot finds potential fuel debris hanging like icicles in reactor 3 TEPCO plans to decide on the procedure for removing the melted fuel from each unit this summer; it will confirm the procedure for the first reactor during fiscal 2018 ending in March 2019, with removal slated to begin in 2021. Decommissioning the reactors will cost $72 billion.
July 14, 2017: Fishermen express fury as Fukushima plant set to release radioactive material into ocean 777,000 tons stored in 580 tanks at the Fukushima plant, which is quickly running out of space... Shunichi Tanaka, chairman of the Nuclear Regulation Authority, has been urging Tepco to release the water. Tepco chief Kawamura says he feels emboldened to have the support of the NRA chairman...
February 2017: "Astoundingly High" Radiation Levels Detected at Fukushima Unit 2
The radiation level in the containment vessel of reactor two has reached as high as 530 sieverts per hour, Tokyo Electric Power Co, or Tepco as it's known, said last week.
Are levels rising?
- Azby Brown reporting on Safecast's website, February 4th: No, radiation levels at Fukushima Daiichi are not rising
"It must be stressed that radiation in this area has not been measured before, and it was expected to be extremely high. While 530 Sv/hr is the highest measured so far at Fukushima Daiichi, it does not mean that levels there are rising, but that a previously unmeasurable high-radiation area has finally been measured. Similar remote investigations are being planned for Daiichi Units 1 and 3. We should not be surprised if even higher radiation levels are found there, but only actual measurements will tell."
- Feb. 8, Denver Post:
Could the radiation level be even higher? Possibly. The 530 sievert reading was recorded some distance from the melted fuel, so in reality it could be 10 times higher than recorded, said Hideyuki Ban, co-director of Citizens' Nuclear Information Center.
- The Guardian, Feb 3: High Radiation Forcing a Rethink of Robot Strategy
"TEPCO and its network of partner companies at Fukushima Daiichi have yet to identify the location and condition of melted fuel in the three most seriously damaged reactors. Removing it safely represents a challenge unprecedented in the history of nuclear power. Quantities of melted fuel are believed to have accumulated at the bottom of the damaged reactors' containment vessels, but dangerously high radiation has prevented engineers from accurately gauging the state of the fuel deposits."
"TEPCO is now worried that the scorpion robot will not be able to reach the space beneath the pressure vessel, and like its predecessor, will not be able to work for very long in the damaged plant (the scorpion is designed to handle 1,000 total sieverts). The high level of radiation may force TEPCO, a nationally-owned company, to rethink its robot-based strategy for locating the molten fuel. The firm is currently in the early stages of a cleanup that's expected to last decades. Until TEPCO knows the precise location of the melted fuel, and until it's able to ascertain the structural damage in each of the three reactors affected, the company won't be able to decommission the plant and remove the fuel." (ref: The Guardian)
March 7. 2016: Playing Pass the Parcel With Fukushima
"The defilement of Fukushima wasn't just the result of a natural catastrophe. It was also the aftermath of a manmade disaster caused by a slapdash approach to nuclear safety. Five years on, the Japanese government isn't handling these issues any more responsibly."
- read more: Peter Wynn Kirby, NYTimes OpEd
Feb. 24. 2016: The Great Fukushima Cover-Up
"The media may have played the willing government handmaiden in reassuring the public with falsehoods, but in July 2012, the Fukushima Nuclear Accident Independent Investigation Commission concluded that the disaster was really no accident but 'man-made'. It came about, the researchers said, as a result of 'collusion' between the government, regulators and the nuclear industry, in this case, Tepco.
"'There should be a Tepco trial like the post-war Tokyo Trials', Iida said, referring to the post World War II war crimes trial in which 28 Japanese were tried, seven of whom were subsequently executed by hanging." - read more: Linda Gunter, in Counterpunch
Sept. 19. 2015: Rearranging the deck chairs on the nuclear Titanic
"The Titanic was also ill-prepared to evacuate its passengers because it failed to consider the unimaginable and thus mismanaged the risk. It seems the lessons of Fukushima are also being ignored in favor of wishing away risk, and hoping for inspired improvisation. There is thus good reason why citizens across Japan are filing lawsuits to block reactor restarts and some gutsy judges are resisting pressure from the nuclear village and siding with common sense." - Jeff Kingston, in The Japan Times
Sept. 19. 2015: Over 700 Fukushima waste bags swept away by torrential floods
"Extensive and destructive floods across eastern Japan have swept more than 700 bags containing Fukushima-contaminated soil and grass into Japan's rivers, with many still unaccounted for and some spilling their radioactive content into the water system..." (story)
October 2, 2014
Japan Times has been running an in-depth series of reports on Fukushima by Shinya Kokubun and Hideki Takahashi; no.13 was released Oct 2.
11th in the series (Sept 28th):
"As Radiation Levels Soared At Fukushima No. 1, Plant Chief Yoshida Rescinded Evacuation Order" (Japan Times, 9/28)
June 17, 2014: Assessing Fukushima Damage Without Eyes on the Inside
"Inside the complex, there are three wrecked reactor cores, twisted masses of hundreds of tons of highly radioactive uranium, plutonium, cesium and strontium. After the meltdown, which followed a tsunami and earthquake in 2011, most of the material in the plant's reactors re-solidified, in difficult shapes and in confined spaces, wrapped around and through the structural parts of the reactors and the buildings.
"Or at least, that is what the engineers think. Nobody really knows, because nobody has yet examined many of the most important parts of the wreckage. Though three and a half years have passed, it is still too dangerous to climb inside for a look, and sending in a camera would risk more leaks. Engineers do not have enough data to even run a computer model that could tell them how much of the reactor cores are intact and how much of them melted, because the measurement systems inside the buildings were out of commission for days after the accident.
"And though the buildings may be leaking, they were built of concrete and steel so thick that there is no hope of using X-rays or other conventional imaging technology to scan the wreckage from a safe distance.
"To clean up the reactors, special tools must be custom-made, according to Duncan W. McBranch, the chief technology officer at Los Alamos National Laboratory, and the tools 'can be much better designed if you had a good idea of what's inside.' But 'nobody knows what happened inside,' he said. 'Nobody wants to go in to find out.'"
(read more at the NYTimes)
Feb 15, 2014: NPR report: Three Years Later, A Harrowing Visit To Fukushima
"Some critics say that TEPCO can't be trusted and that the world's largest nuclear accident is still waiting to happen at Fukushima, such as an accidental nuclear reaction that releases large amounts of harmful radiation into the air...
NPR's Anthony Kuhn entered the number 4 reactor and viewed the ongoing efforts to secure and remove the spent fuel rods there. He notes however that "...reactors one through three suffered partial meltdowns. As a result, there is so much radiation in there that they cannot send people in there to look. They have to use robots and remote cameras to try to find out what's going on. But they still don't know exactly how bad the damage is from those partial meltdowns. They're not going to start dealing with that part of the thing until 2020, and the whole process of shutting down the plant could take 30 or 40 years, by TEPCO's estimates... Others say that estimate is blindly optimistic." (full text and audio at NPR)
Newly published: "Fukushima: The Story of a Nuclear Disaster"
by David Lochbaum, Edwin Lyman, Susan Stranahan. UCS/ The New Press, 2014
A book-length account of the unfolding Fukushima catastrophe from the Union of Concerned Scientists.
"Fukushima Daiichi unmasked the weaknesses of nuclear power plant design and the long-standing flaws in operations and regulatory oversight," the authors write. "Although Japan must share the blame, this was not a Japanese nuclear accident; it was a nuclear accident that just happened to have occurred in Japan. The problems that led to the disaster at Fukushima Daiichi exist wherever reactors operate."
From Atomic Bombings to Fukushima, Japan Pursues a Nuclear Future
Despite a Devastating Past
Amy Goodman and Democracy Now are broadcasting from Tokyo today, Jan 15. In this clip, Amy talks with David McNeill, a longtime foreign correspondent based in Japan who writes for The Independent of London, and is co-author of the book, "Strong in the Rain: Surviving JapanŐs Earthquake, Tsunami, and Fukushima Nuclear Disaster."
In a further segment of the Jan 15 show, Amy talks with Atsushi Funahashi, the director of the documentary film "Nuclear Nation" about the Fukushima refugees. (view segment)
Fukushima: A Decade of Risk and Contamination Ahead The delicate and dangerous operation to remove the 1500 fuel rod assemblies from the storage pool on the roof of the heavily damaged Unit 4 has begun. Fingers crossed. After that, there are 1500 more fuel rod assemblies to remove from the other units, still highly radioactive. Then the really hard part- digging out the molten cores from the reactor floors, can begin, some time after 2020...
"The tsunami that wrecked the Fukushima Daiichi power plant has led to the toughest nuclear cleanup ever. Radioactive water is still poisoning the sea- and it could take 40 years to fix the mess. Is Japan up to the challenge?" - "Fukushima two years on: a dirty job with no end in sight".
An in-depth review of the current situation and cleanup prospects by Ian Sample for The Guardian, December 3, 2013
A State Secrets Act, Our Sailors Irradiated, and a Boost for Humanoid Robots The Escalating Catastrophe:Japan's New 'Fukushima Fascism' Harvey Wasserman reports on disturbing developments in Fukushima Japan, notably the passage of a new State Secrets Act, intended to stifle what would likely otherwise continue to be a steady stream of bad news from Fukushima for a decade or more. Taro Yamamoto, a Japanese legislator, says the law "represents a coup d'état" leading to "the recreation of a fascist state." The powerful Asahi Shimbun newspaper compares it to "conspiracy" laws passed by totalitarian Japan in the lead-up to Pearl Harbor, and warns it could end independent reporting on Fukushima. The latest bad news? Fukushima continues to spew out radiation. The quantities seem to be rising, as do the impacts. The site has been infiltrated by organized crime. There are horrifying signs of ecological disaster in the Pacific and human health impacts in the U.S. But within Japan, the new State Secrets Act makes such talk punishable by up to ten years in prison.
(Counterpunch: 'Fukushima Fascism')
Meanwhile, largely unreported in the US media:US Sailors Suing TEPCO, Japan
Interview with Atty. Charles Bonner, representing the sailors.
51 US sailors from the USS Ronald Reagan, who were exposed to radiation during support
and relief operations in the days after the 2011 tsunami and meltdowns at Fukushima, and now suffer a range of illnesses including cancers, are suing TEPCO and the Japanese Government. The lawsuit accuses TEPCO and the Japanese of lying about the radiation levels in the waters into which the USS Ronald Reagan sailed after the tsunami . 20 more sailors are reportedly preparing to join the lawsuit. One of the plaintiffs has said that sailors were drinking desalinated seawater and bathing in it until the ship's leadership came over the public address system and told them to stop because it was contaminated.
Feb 7 update: 79 sailors are now named as claimants as the lawsuit is refiled in San Diego early February, demanding one billion dollars in damages. (source)
Unforseen Consequences:Robots to the Rescue
Dealing with the disaster at Fukushima is giving a big boost to the development of humanoid robots. Robots, because the units are too radioactive for humans to enter, and 'humanoid', because the valves and levers and controls that need to be accessed are all made for human hands. In this BBC documentary, released in July of this year, the problems at Fukushima are seen as a spur to increasingly rapid development.
How much is a Sievert of radiation?
Japan's National Institute of Radiological Sciences estimates that exposure to one sievert of radiation could lead to infertility, loss of hair and cataracts, while four sieverts would kill half of the people exposed to it.
4th anniversary of the Fukushima disaster
Katsumi Furistu and Arnie Gundersen speaking at the World Uranium Symposium April 2015.
"If that quake had hit at 2am instead of 2pm, we might have had 14 meltdowns instead of 3."- Gundersen
Japan's Ex-Prime Minister Naoto Kan: Fukushima Meltdown was Worse Than Chernobyl; Why He Now Opposes Nuclear Power
Democracy Now exclusive interview, March 11. 2014
Godzilla Is Back, and He's Got Something to Say
"The world's favorite nuclear lizard, Godzilla, roars back to the big screen. This time, in 3D and with a new, powerful anti-nuclear message..."
See Joseph Cirincione's look at the new Godzilla in Books and Films
Feb 28, 2014: PBS Newshour makes a visit to Fukushima.
Our Mission: Through comprehensive research, public education and effective citizen action, Nuclear Watch New Mexico seeks to promote safety and environmental protection at regional nuclear facilities, mission diversification away from nuclear weapons programs, greater accountability and cleanup in the nation-wide nuclear weapons complex, and consistent U.S. leadership toward a world free of nuclear weapons.