VERY GRADUAL IMPROVEMENT ON THE CRITICAL FUKUSHIMA DAI NO.1 SITUATION
28 Jun 2011.
GOOD NEWS IS: Tokyo Electric Power Co (TEPCO) Spokesman Junichi Matsumoto, said that the Areva/Kurion water filtration system was halted for 1-½ hours after it started on 27 Jun 2011(Monday) because of yet another water leak. TEPCO fixed the problem, and restarted the system following day; About 6,000 tons of water have been filtered so far.
BAD NEWS IS: Hidehiko Nishiyama, Deputy Director-General of Japan’s Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency(NISA) said that about 15 metric tons of water with a low level of radiation leaked from a storage tank at the plant on the Pacific coast, and TEPCO said it was investigating the cause of the leak which was later repaired. Nishiyama added: “In addition, once the system is working smoothly…we will be able to get rid of the stagnant water problem and be able to introduce a larger amount of (pure) water into the reactors to cool the fuel more effectively in the future”. Yeah!- Let’s do this!
THE UGLY IS, more than 110,000 tons of contaminated water; with varying levels of radiation are still in the facility and in storage tanks at the Dai No.1 plant. Dealing with that radioactive water continues to be a major problem for TEPCO, in its effort to use filtered/recycled water to cool the reactors. Unfortunately, the new system has encountered many developmental technical glitches. Officials have said that every day another 500 tons of water are pumped into three(3) melted-thru Nukes, and four(4) Spent Fuel Pools to keep them cool(with no end in sight); Hence the importance that the system to filter and re-circulate the water be optimized(“tweaked”) and made reliable ASAP; If and when, the water filtration system is fully operational, it should filter about 1,200 tons/day. Meanwhile, the water could spill into the Pacific Ocean (again). AND THAT ISN’T GOOD!…AND REMEMBER NO ONE HAS VENTURED AN OPINION ABOUT WHAT TO DO WITH THE “SLUDGE” (mean stuff!!) BEING REMOVED BY THE FILTERS.
ENVELOPMENT WORK IN PROCESS: Meanwhile, in a port near the plant, TEPCO is assembling a giant frame that will holds polyester sheet. After completion and testing, it will be disassembled and carried to the Fukushima Dai-1 site, where it will be reassembled around the No.1 Nuke building with the aim of reducing the amount of radiation now escaping into the atmosphere. If the structure proves effective, similar frames will be assembled around Nuke buildings 2 and 3. It had been originally envisioned that a forced-air filtration unit would a part of each “envelopment” with plastic sheets. Nothing has been said recently about that. THESE COMMENTS; HOWEVER, ADMIT THE REALITY THAT RADIOACTIVE PARTICLES ARE STILL GOING UP INTO THE AIR CURRENTS AND GOING …SOMEWHERE!
Goshi Hosono, the newly appointed “Minister in Charge” of the nuclear disaster, said on 28 Jun 2011(Tuesday) that he hopes it will be possible to reduce the evacuation area around the crippled plant by next mid-July, and to allow some people to return to their homes. He added that such a move could only happen after TEPCO establishes a stable cooling system so that there is no longer a risk of a hydrogen explosion, and also reduces radiation levels. WE DON’T THINK SO…Given that radiation levels inside reactor building No.3 (containing part Uranium and part plutonium fuel)are still high enough to prevent workers from inspecting the situation there, Hosono’s July target (about 20 days from now)seems a “most optimistic scenario”. We do not expect most Japanese will buy that idea either. IS THIS MAN FOR REAL?
FINANCIAL PAIN In preparing for the trillions of yen it will have to pay out in compensation, TEPCO announced in May that “in principle, domestic/international projects will be sold off, excluding those required for electric power supply.” On 24 Jun 2011, an ad-hoc(one time only) panel appointed by the Central government to oversee the company’s efforts invited TEPCO Chairman, Tsunehisa Katsumata to a hearing to discuss TEPCO’s future. Speaking to the press after the session, Katsumata hinted that TEPCO is ready to cut benefits for its employees and retirees should the panel ask it to do so. He also echoed the company’s earlier announcement that it planned to sell off non-core businesses. IT IS ALWAYS THE WORKING MAN WHO GETS THE “CUTS” FIRST.
RESTART THE NUKES! Says Banri Kaieda, head of the Ministry of Economy and Trade Industry (METI), has embarked on a diplomatic mission around Japan to convince Prefectural Governors to restart local nuclear reactors that have been closed down for maintenance inspections. NEVER MIND THAT SURVEYS SHOW 80% OF THE JAPANESE PEOPLE OPPOSE THAT MOVE. Of Japan’s 54 nuclear reactors, 35 are currently out of operation for “maintenance inspections”, earthquake-related problems, and for other reasons. In the wake of the Fukushima disaster, local residents living in the vicinity of these reactors are understandingly concerned about their safety. So it is that several Prefectural Governors have voiced their opposition to resuming operations, despite assurances from the government that the reactors are safe. Kaieda argues that the Nukes in question have been inspected, and that enhanced safety measures have been implemented to make them safe to resume operation. He also points out that a shortage of electricity will hamper Japan’s economic recovery. TRUE ENOUGH!, BUT IN THE U.S. WE HAVE A SAYING: “THAT IS THE WAY THE COOKIE CRUMBLES”
MEANWHILE DISCONTENT AND APPREHENSIONS GROW ALL OVER JAPAN As we see it, such feelings stem from a growing feeling of distrust toward TEPCO to “tell it like it is”, specially with regard to radiation spread, and “hot-spots” all over northern Japan. Specially concerned are the parents of vulnerable children, and rightly so. These folks all deserve to be told the truth. We will look into such feelings and emotions in another article.