A Fukushima Update; September 7, 2016

newsA number of individual events have taken place related to the disaster. They are worth noting but didn’t warrant their own post.

Moody’s is reporting that TEPCO’s credit rating is dependent on them explaining how they will fund the massive ongoing clean up at Fukushima Daiichi. They cited the potential to restart reactors at Kashiwazaki Kariwa may help improve their credit rating, but the disaster will continue to weigh on their business until they provide some explanations. TEPCO’s ongoing business survival, stock price and credit rating have always been their first priority.

Former Japanese PM Koizumi accused current PM Abe of lying when he told the International Olympic Committee that Fukushima was “under control”.

Flawed steel in Areva’s Flamanville reactor project in France has now caught up a number of Japanese nuclear reactors in the problem. The list below are all Japanese reactors that could have the same flaw in their reactor vessels. This is such a big concern because a rupture or major failure of the reactor vessel could lead to a major accident.

The Japanese government announced they want to reopen the most radioactive areas of the Fukushima evacuation zone in 2022. Areas with lower radiation levels have already been reopened but those areas have been plagued by radiation hot spots and re-contamination of previously decontaminated areas. The government has not explained how the heavily contaminated areas would be appropriately cleaned up. A 2015 survey found only 11.4% to 17.8% of these towns would consider returning. Even now, homes that were left during the early years of the disaster are frequently a total loss due to earthquake damage and years of decay.

Naraha is one of those towns that was reopened in 2015. So far only about 10% of the population has returned with half of those being senior citizens. The town government has admitted that this low return rate isn’t enough to sustain even the bare bones business infrastructure in the town. As towns have been repopulated the national government has supported the building of mini business areas that usually include a city office, a small doctor’s office and a small convenience store. The government’s desire to make people move back has been an act to save money on compensation and relocation costs. It continues to fail to convince those who lived in the evacuated areas that returning is safe or beneficial.

The governor of Niigata who had been the force behind a more serious 3rd party review of the Fukushima disaster has decided not to run for re-election after some dirt on the sale of a ferry was brought into the campaign. The governor has been a major roadblock for TEPCO to restart Kashiwazaki Kariwa. Sadly, it has been his own political party that has run him out of office. The nail that sticks up gets hammered.

Watered down versions of the events from the Fukushima Disaster were used for an evacuation drill in Fukui and Kyoto prefectures. Most of the response was to require people within 30km to stay indoors rather than actually evacuating, something that has come under heavy criticism. It was also pointed out that natural disasters frequently make the concept of staying indoors impossible when buildings are heavily damaged or destroyed. Pointed out but not included in the drill was road damage that would make leaving impossible. There was also a component of the drill that depended on the SDF helicopters being able to evacuate people closer to the plant. This was canceled due to poor visibility.




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