It looks like it will take some time for the reactor situation to resolve. On Monday TEPCO announced a 6-9 month containment plan. The first three months would attempt to achieve a steady reduction in radiation, then the next stage over the following three to six months would involve controlling the release of radioactive materials. Japanese government officials say that residents from the area around Fukushima Daiichi may be able to return to their homes in six months at the earliest, i.e. midway into the TEPCO containment plan timetable.
In other nuclear reactor news this week:
High radioactive levels detected in reactors
Robots have detected high levels of radioactivity inside the reactor buildings of the crippled Fukushima nuclear plant. The plant operator says the radioactivity must be reduced to allow work inside the buildings to bring the crisis under control.
Tokyo Electric Power Company surveyed the interiors of 3 reactor buildings on Sunday and Monday using robots equipped with dosimeters and cameras. TEPCO says that over 50 minutes the robots found 18.9 millisierverts of radioactivity in reactor Number 1 and 6.46 millisierverts in Number 2.
(NOTE: The maximum allowable amount of radiation that won’t show any clinical symptoms is 200 millisieverts per year.)
The levels are hazardous to humans even over a short period. Levels of radioactivity were not available in the Number 3 reactor.
TEPCO says it will need to install air conditioners to ventilate and clean the air of radioactivity before people can work there.
Levels of radioactive water rising despite efforts
The operator of the troubled Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Plant continues to transfer highly radioactive water near a reactor to a storage facility. Tokyo Electric Power Company says work has been underway since Tuesday to move 10,000 tons of highly contaminated water accumulated in the turbine building of the Number 2 reactor to an on-site waste processing facility. The water has been pumped into the facility at a rate of 10 tons per hour.
TEPCO says the toxic water level in a tunnel near the turbine building was 2 centimeters lower as of 6 PM on Wednesday. But it says because there was no change in the water level in the basement of the turbine building, the leaking of toxic water into the basement appears to be continuing.
SDF may transfer people out of no-entry zone
Japan’s Self-Defense Forces are studying the possibility of helping transfer people out of the 20-kilometer zone around the crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant.
Self-Defense Forces and local municipalities have found that several tens of people are still living in the area, which will be designated a legally-controlled, off-limits zone on Friday. They are people who are unable to evacuate by themselves such as the elderly or those in need of nursing care.
Self-Defense Forces are considering transferring these people out of the area with their vehicles if they are requested to do so by the local governments.
They are also considering taking people to their homes in the off-limit areas on temporary visits and then decontaminating them for radiation after the trip.
Evacuees visit their home before government no-entry zone in effect
Evacuees from near the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant drove to their homes on Thursday before a no-entry zone covering their areas goes into operation at midnight on Thursday.
Police checked the driving licenses of car drivers at a checkpoint about 20 kilometers from the power plant and asked where they are going.
In the afternoon, people carrying clothes, appliances and other goods from their homes were seen driving through the checkpoint on their way back to evacuation centers.
Fukushima Governor dismayed at Government and TEPCO response
The Governor of Fukushima prefecture issued a statement on April 11 condemning TEPCO and the Japanese government for “betraying” the people by claiming nuclear power is safe:
“The Japanese Government and TEPCO have been saying that nuclear power generation is absolutely safe with multi-layered safety measures. I feel this was a betrayal.
I have, therefore, strongly demanded the Japanese Government and TEPCO to come up with solutions to this incident. However, there has yet to be any sign of improvement in terms of restoration of the facilities.”
As a sidenote, Japanese culture places an emphasis on being vague and using ‘softening’ words when making a request of any sort. Strong language is avoided because it could cause more harm than good.
The fact that the Governor used the word ‘betrayal’ reflects just how strong his feelings are. And then to make those words public? That demonstrates a lot of strong emotion. It shocked me to read his statement because you just don’t talk like that in Japan. You don’t.
More news updates next week.