The nuclear news from Japan is pretty much all bad these days; nevertheless, the Japanese government has decided to turn its back on caution and restart its reactors that have been idle for the past three years.
Speaking for the Japanese Ministry of Economy and Trade, Toshikazu Okuya rationalized the move with economic arguments, insisting that the the country can not prosper without nuclear being a significant component of its energy portfolio. Officials are promising a gradual reduction in dependence on nuclear energy, which, up until the shut down, represented about 30% of Japans energy supply; but they are establishing no deadlines or other benchmarks, leaving many extremely skeptical that this is anything more than lip service paid to ease nuclear jitters in the country.
Meanwhile, back at the radioactive ranch:
Over the course of the past month we learned that
1) January 30, 2014 – TEPCO admitted there “might” be a 3-inch hole in the suppression shield at Fukushima Daiichi Unit 2.
2) February 20, 2014 – Workers at the same Unit accidentally short-circuited one of the two functioning thermometers used to monitor the temperature in the bottom of the damaged reactor, but there are no plans to replace the thermometer because radiation levels are too hight to attempt it. The failed thermometer was the same one that was replaced last September, when it was discovered that only one out of ten thermometers was still functioning. Now it appears that monitoring will have to depend upon the last functioning thermometer in the depths of the crippled unit where a constant flow of water must be maintained in an attempt to cool the melted core.
3) February 24, 2014 – Human error once again was the cause of a leak of over 100 tons of highly contaminated water from one of the storage tanks that are lining up on the site as the crisis continues with no end in sight.
TEPCO also admitted that workers were not sufficiently monitoring the levels of water inside of the tanks and ignored alarms which indicated the water levels in the tank were increasing.
A bit late, TEPCO has “decided” to dig some observation wells in order to investigate the possibility of groundwater contamination resulting from the leak(s).
If they do find contamination in the groundwater, TEPCO plans to dig a well in order to pump water out, but with limited storage space some experts have questioned whether TEPCO would be able to adequately store this additional water for any extended period of time.
But nobody’s going to rain on Japanese Prime Minister, Shinzo Abe’s parade of economic opportunism.
Abe, who fantasizes about a boom in sales for Japanese-made reactors in the global market, last year successfully courted the International Olympic Committee for a Tokyo Games with the following :
“There are no health-related problems until now, nor will there be in the future, I make the statement to you in the most emphatic and unequivocal way.”
I guess he must have had his fingers crossed behind his back at the time.
As we have reported on GMD, despite the best official efforts to suppress or misrepresent data, a marked rise in thyroid cancers that can be linked to Fukushima has not escaped the notice of medical observers.
Now what’s this I hear about Entergy trying to play a fast one on Vermont with regard to their decommissioning obligation for Vermont Yankee?
Let our experience be a cautionary tale to any community considering a walk down the primrose path to nuclear energy.