This is a roundup of recent news stories related to the Fukushima disaster that is of note:
A section of the frozen underground wall at Fukushima Daiichi has seen a significant enough change that it became newsworthy. The wall section near unit 4 has struggled at times to stay frozen. Typically this has been during late summer and fall. The exact mechanism hasn’t been determined but TEPCO did mention a crack in a nearby drainage canal may have some influence on the wall section.
More areas in the difficult to return zone will be slated for reopening. The government hopes to open more areas for people to return but this will be piecemeal. Only the residence of the returning person will be decontaminated, leaving them surrounded by highly contaminated land. Recent surveys showed most people who lived in the areas are not interested in returning.
The unusual way the government has been slating land for reopening has created some odd effects. In Okuma, near Fukushima Daiichi, one small neighborhood will be reopened as a revitalization base but not the surrounding neighborhoods. This has left people with homes they could legally return to but their neighbor across the street could not.
EU regulators have dropped import screening for bamboo shoots and cultivated mushrooms from Fukushima prefecture. Wild mushrooms and most seafood products are still subject to testing or restrictions. EU regulators official radiation testing in their reasoning for relaxing restrictions.
Tests in April of 2021 found cultivated mushrooms from Tamura, Fukushima prefecture to be significantly contaminated and over the government radiation limits allowed in food. These mushrooms would be allowable for import to the EU under the new rules.
The US also lifted restrictions on 100 agriculture products from Fukushima and surrounding prefectures.
Taiwan has also been under pressure to relax its food import restrictions on Japan as the country hopes to join the TPP.
Independent testing found beta radiation in “air vapor” samples collected in Noda, Fukushima prefecture. Noda is located near the northeast edge of the main fallout zone from Fukushima Daiichi. It is difficult to determine if these readings are of concern as this is not a common method of environmental testing. It may show some level of tritium contamination in the air.
Futaba town harvested the first rice crop since the 2011 disaster. The test crop was harvested, tested for radioactive contamination then disposed of. Reports did not include the radiation levels found in the rice. Futaba is one of the two towns that host the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant site and was subject to some of the worst radioactive fallout of the nuclear disaster. Japan plans to allow rice production in the town by 2025.
A biodiversity study in Soma city, Fukushima prefecture found an increase in biodiversity in abandoned rice fields and swamps. Agriculture officials jumped on the finding, claiming it to be proof that the resumption of farming in the area would be safe. This may not be the case. Many places around the region found wildlife moved in as people fled and didn’t return. The researchers will continue the biodiversity counts as agriculture and residential populations return to the area.
A site in Wakayama prefecture originally slated for a nuclear power plant has become a launch site for small private rockets. Kansai Electric Power Company donated a portion of the land to the city that has, in turn, created the rocket launch facility.
Kamaishi town in Iwaki prefecture, north of Fukushima, is planning an ocean wave power system to generate some of the town’s power. The town was hit by the 2011 tsunami. The renewable power system would be installed on the seafront breakwater near the town.
The number of geothermal power generation plants in Japan has quadrupled since the 2011 disaster.
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