Change And Stagnation Over Nuclear Issues In Japan.

The new nuclear agency in Japan, the NRA has announced changes to nuclear disaster response. They plan to move emergency response centers to now be 30km from the nuclear plant they oversee. The response center for Fukushima Daiichi was 5km from the plant. This caused problems not just due to the proximity but because power generation systems failed to work causing the building to flood with radiation. The air handling system did not work due to the lack of functional power generators.

They also intend to expand evacuation zones around nuclear plants from 10km to 30km.

The plan calls for distributing iodine to people within 50km of the nuclear plant. It does not state clearly if the iodine would be given to residents ahead of time or if it would need to be handed out in a crisis. Many during the Fukushima nuclear disaster were unable to obtain iodine tablets.

The plan also mentions telling people to stay home in a nuclear disaster. It is not clear what is meant by this, if they mean only people in further away areas or people close to the plant. The latter would be quite dangerous and impossible to enforce. NRA needs to clarify what they meant by making people “stay home” during a nuclear disaster and who that would apply to.

The NRA has stated that they will not take a position on reactor restarts and will instead focus on determining the safety at nuclear plants. The agency also plans to closely monitor the decommissioning of Fukushima Daiichi.

At Fukushima Daiichi unit 1 reactor temperatures are on the rise again, TEPCO is not citing a reason as of yet. A replacement thermometer has been installed in unit 2 to read reactor vessel temperatures. TEPCO continues to face a worker shortage. Cited as problems, the unequal pay to workers and no compensation to workers who reach their radiation exposure maximum then become no longer able to work at nuclear facilities. Both of these are cited as reasons for the worker shortage and as the motivation for workers to hide their radiation exposure. TEPCO has also released the new long term roadmap for Daiichi in English.

Denki Shimbun is reporting that more decontamination work will resume around Fukushima prefecture. Currently only 1 in 10 residents have returned to areas reopened by the government. These areas include Minami-Soma, Tamura, Kawauchi, Naraha and Hirono. Schools have been reopened as have some hospitals, yet most schools still have very small enrollment. People with children have largely not returned, most of those who returned are retirees. Some cite the lack of businesses & services in the area while many businesses cite the lack of decontamination work and returning residents for why they have not reopened in these areas.

The government has permitted construction on the Oma nuclear plant in Aomori prefecture to resume. Neighboring Hakodate prefecture plans to sue to stop the construction. It highlights the problem where the local community hosting a nuclear facility is showered with cash and kickbacks as incentive to accept the risk. Neighboring prefectures gain no benefit yet shoulder the same risk living nearby.

New radiation readings were taken by helicopter in Japan. The survey conspicuously avoids reading Saitama, Tokyo and Chiba prefectures. All three are areas known to have significant areas of contamination.

 

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