SVCF Bulletin No.43 issued on October 4, 2013

We have held the 25th round of our Diet Meetings

At noon thirty on September 26, we convened for the 25th round of Diet Meeting in a meeting room of the House of Councilors’ Hall.  78 people attended, including the following Diet members; Mr. Mito Kakizawa, maverick, House of Representatives, Mr. Ryuhei Kawata, Min-nato Toh, House of Councilors, Mr. Masatoshi Akimoto, Liberal Democratic Party, House of Representatives, Ms. Hiroe Makiyama, Democrats, House of Councilors.

At the beginning, acting Director Nobuhiro Shiotani, under the title of “Discernible Problems and Challenges in the TEPCO released information”, gave a concise and concrete briefing on frequently happening accidents in the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant, especially leaks of contaminated water.  He pointed out the lack within TEPCO of project oriented intra-organizational management and of collateral manpower, and emphasized the necessity of an enacted national project toward the decommissioning.

Subsequently, Ms. Tomoko Abe, member of the House of Representatives (bipartisan Diet member group “Nuke Power Zero Solidarity” presented “What is occurring now in the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant.  Examine contaminated water counter-measures”; reporting vividly of an inspection at the stricken site on September 5 with live video; she gave clear-cut comments on the actual status of contaminated water leaks and of counter-measures adopted by the central government and TEPCO, and her firm resolution as politician against this catastrophic accident.

In the following Q and A session and free discussion, former Japanese Ambassador to Switzerland, Mr. Kohei Murata, reported of the serious international concern regarding the current condition of Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant.  Then SVCF member Mr. Yoshihisa Urakubo comprehensively explained the structure of a nuclear reactor from which contaminated water spills out and the closed water circulation cooling system.  This round ended at 14:00 p.m.

Below are Diet member Tomoko Abe’s talking points stated in the 25th round of our Diet Meetings.  These are organized by subject by the SVCF Secretariat.

Advanced Liquid Processing System: ALPS

This system was manufactured and installed two years ago by Toshiba Co., Ltd., however, it hardly works well so far.  Though this applies to the water purification method by having many kinds of nuclei blended in absorptive deposits, it has been noted that newly produced deposits cause clogging, which stops the workflow.  The central government tries to invest more in keeping the system going.  I asked the government of its certainty and guarantee; however, they did not say anything clear and positive.

Storage tanks and the underground water pool

At the onset, in view of a low estimate of the increase of contaminated water, TEPCO built a tank with 100-ton capacity but it was soon filled up.  As an improvement, they built a larger tank with 1000-ton capacity.  As this is assembled with flange type connection (bolted type), it tends to leak easily through the joints.  They also constructed an underground water pool.  This is also of no use, due to leaks from flimsy waterproof sheets.

Weir around the tanks

In order to back up leaks, a weir is built around the flange type tanks, but its sluice valve remains always open.  This doesn’t make sense at all.

Underwater bypass scheme

An underwater bypass scheme was built in the space between reactors No. 1 to 4 and the contaminated water tanks.  These are 12 wells on the mountain side, for pumping up underground water which flows into the sea.  Lots of contaminated water tanks stand on the mountain side and leaks from there flow in these wells and they consequently contaminate underground water.

The density of tritium has risen in the underwater bypass.  I asked about the cause and origin, however, TEPCO, the Resource and Energy Agency and the Nuclear Regulation Authority could not answer at all.  The flow channel of the underground water has been unknown.  The least we can say is that we can’t discharge underground water even if the density of tritium were to rise.

Impermeable wall

During the days of Kan Cabinet, it was planned to hammer down sheet piles around reactors No. 1 to 4 in order to stop the mixing of contaminated water with underground water.  However, this was postponed and contaminated water has increased in volume.  What the central government plans now is the creation of frozen impermeable walls around reactors No. 1 to 4.  In general, this method is used for a tunnel construction as a temporary measure to last for 1 month or shorter.  We can’t evaluate the effect since there is no past experience and actual record to certify how long they can remain functional – for years or for decades?

Management to cope with contaminated water issues

As for the organizational body, there stands an echelon in a descending order; Nuclear Emergency Response Headquarters, Decommissioning Promotion Committee, and the Committee on Countermeasures for Contaminated Water Treatment.  Separately, there is another echelon of the Inter-Ministerial Council for Contaminated Water and Decommissioning Issues, Contaminated Water and Decommissioning Measures Team, and their respective branch offices on the actual sites.  These are almost subject to the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry, though there is no consultative panel to deliberate ideas and blueprints coming up through these echelons.

While there are many questionable points on ALPS and the frozen impermeable wall method, there is no reviewing stage for either.  It seems that they are about to invest a lot, from national tax income, in a very problematic method whose success or failure is quite uncertain.  Surprisingly, it is not stated how much they plan to spend for this purpose in the future.

The Nuclear Regulation Authority must have started as an executive body to oversee and regulate nuclear issues with thorough independence. However, the chairperson acts as adviser for various governmental organizations.  As a result, the border between surveillance and operation for tasks blurs inevitably.  This was keenly pointed out by France in a round of IAEA General Assembly.

The decision of role division between TEPCO, main executive body, and the central government is also vague.  From a point of total management, it would seem that TEPCO is unable to manage this catastrophic disaster relief with their limited available means.  Firstly, TEPCO’s huge indebtedness should be borne by its financial banks and stockholders through the proper liquidation procedure.  Secondly, the present decommissioning work is to be separated from TEPCO, and lastly an optimal executive body should be established on a national project basis.

National project desired

Even if the nation pre-empts the front body in place of TEPCO, we cannot deny the possibility of maintaining the multiple-stage subcontract structure in the construction industry. What concerns us most is the radiation exposure control for workforce.  It is revealed time and again that TEPCO has not performed strict radiation control for the layered subcontractors.  In order to cut costs in a managerial sense, TEPCO has applied reduction of the safety investments.  If the nation stood foremost, responsibility of the health and safety for workforce can be clarified at the very least.

Responsibility of the Diet

A tome of accident analysis compiled by the Diet was released.  This is an epoch-making issue, for the first time in the history of constitutional politics.  Nevertheless, this project has been hung up.  No evidence is released.  Its successive organization is not to be established.  To maintain and develop such an organization for surveillance and on-site inspection could be the optimum advantage, in the long run.  To the contrary, many Diet members are quite reluctant to establish the achievement of that report.

Universal cooperation beyond the pros and cons of the nuclear power generation

Though Russia promotes nuclear power generation, President Putin has proposed assistance and cooperation.  The Nuclear Regulation Committee in the U.S. keeps a sense of crisis.  There is no difference in ideology against any sort of worldwide crisis.  We wish to work with proponents and opponents together toward the decommissioning Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant.

A Memorandum Exchange with Narahamachi

On September 30th, acting Presidnet Dr. Nobuhiro Shiotani and Chairperson Dr. Kunio Ito visited the Narahamachi Town Hall, Fukushima Prefecture, and exchanged a memorandum regarding the radiation measurements inside residential homes.

In keeping with this memorandum, and in keeping with the wishes of the community, SVCF members will monitor the interior and exterior of residential homes, construct floor plans and maps, and verify the existence of radiation hotspots. The town has agreed to acknowledge this memorandum on their official website and in their public relations magazines.

Let’s Participate in the Year 2013 Kawauchi Reconstruction Festival!

The Year 2013 Kawauchi Reconstruction Festival will be held on October 20th (Sunday).  At the festival last year, SVCF had a portrait booth, where guests got portrait photographs and paintings free of charge.  We are also planning on the establishment of a “monitoring school,” as well as having tours that take participants to areas where Fukushima Daichi Power Plant is visible.  We are also planning a visit to the Organic Cotton Project, which is in Iwaki-shi, a city that is hoping to achieve agricultural revitalization.

At 8:30 AM on the previous day, October 19th , SVCF is planning to rent a car and leave the Takinogawa Office Tokyo, spend the night at Yunotake Sanso lodge in Fukushima Prefecture, and arrive in Kawauchimura early the next morning.  If you are interested in participating, the cost will be approximately 9,000 yen.  Please contact the SVCF office for detailed information.  The deadline to signup for this event is October 10th.  If you would prefer to take a bullet train from Tokyo or further, please let us know.  Please let us know if you have already signed up for this event as well.

We Need Your Help With the Radiation Watcher Team!

The Radiation Watcher Team goes through huge quantities of available data and information, analyzes it, and publishes a monthly report.  However, the Watcher Team, with its limited members, is feeling overwhelmed with the massive amount of information. Therefore, we are looking for voluntary individuals who can help us with the following tasks:

1. We need the expertise of people working in the relevant technology sector.

2. Sorting through and clipping relevant articles from the major media outlets (Asahi, Yomiuri, Mainichi, Sankei, Tokyo, and NHK). This can be done by individuals who don’t have any prior experience working in the technology sector. Most of the news articles are from the internet, so you can work from home. If you are able to assist us with this, please contact the SVCF office.

 We Need Everybody’s Opinions and Recommendations

Patrolling around the Contaminated Water Storage Tanks

We need your opinion on our future activities.  Putting the questions that we submitted to TEPCO aside, I think we should make the “Narrow-Focus Breakthrough Method” a reality indeed.  In other words, I think we should demand that we be allowed to start patrolling around the contaminated water storage tanks.  Things may get missed with just a visual inspection, so we would use measuring equipment in groups of 2 to patrol and measure the radiation levels at each tank (a fixed route would be established). The measuring equipment would be hooked up to a computer in the headquarters, and a quake-proof system would be constructed.

This is the same method that was adopted when traffic duties were privatized, and the duties were transferred from the police to the private sector.  At that time, the building management industry proactively sought participants for their training sessions.  Anybody who attends the training and passes the tests can be involved.  If that’s the case, we can use the elderly in this capacity.

Participating in the Patrols

The contaminated water problem is in the news daily, and whether we’re talking about the nuclear reactor or other areas, like the inside staircases, which require a lot of labor, we see that they are experiencing a shortage of manpower.  For instance, if SVCF participated in the patrols, even if we participated in every 5th excursion per day, they would reduce the manpower required on the patrols by 20%, and because a 3rd party is involved in the measuring, it would actually endorse the project’s credibility and transparency.  This would lead to an image boost for the company, and an advantage for SVCF as well. Perhaps we can bring this up with the Nuclear Regulation Authority (it can get outsourced to the Authority, and we would report to them, for instance).

The SVCF’s other action area ultimately has the goal of getting us involved in the cleanup efforts, so it is possible to stray away from “contamination in our daily lives” and “contamination from business,” and think of it as a goal involving “multiple defense.” (Takashi Uchida, Yamaguchi Prefecture)