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Salmon fishing in full swing in Kido River, Naraha town

16 October 2016

The season’s first “combined seine fishing” of salmon took place near a weir in the Kido River in Naraha, Fukushima Prefecture, on Oct. 15 as the town’s autumn tradition came into full play.

The fishing method uses two nets, with a dragnet drifted downstream and prodding salmon into the other net installed about 100 meters down the river. About 10 members of the Kido River Fisheries Cooperative undertook the traditional operation, catching some 140 salmon, which averaged around 60 centimeters long and about 4 kilograms heavy each. The haul included a big fish some 80 cm long and weighing about 7 kg.

Salmon running upstream in the river this year are believed to include those that spawned and grew up there in 2011, when the Great East Japan Earthquake occurred, or the following year. Cooperative officials expect this year’s total catch to be smaller than in 2015. “We hope to catch as many salmon as possible, collect eggs and hatch them, growing fry in a careful manner for release back into the river next spring,” said cooperative head Hideo Matsumoto, 67.

The day’s catch included many immature salmon, which were filleted at an agricultural and fisheries processing facility. The meat was cut into pieces and roe were seasoned by soaking them in soy sauce. Salmon fishing in the river will continue until mid-November.

(Translated by Kyodo News)

12 October 2016

Melted fuel debris at crippled Fukushima reactors estimated at 880 tons, triple that of fuel proper

Nuclear fuel mixed with debris left inside three crippled reactors at Tokyo Electric Power Co.’s Fukushima Daiichi plant after their meltdowns in the 2011 accident is estimated at 880 tons, including concrete and other structural materials. The fuel debris is believed to be about three times as heavy as fuel proper. The findings were based on data on conditions inside the reactors immediately after the accident, the proportion of fuel to total debris and other figures obtained by a computer analysis system of the International Research Institute for Nuclear Decommissioning (IRID), a government-business think tank tasked with studying ways of decommissioning the plant. The debris weight is expected to be some key reference data in the lead-up to its future removal, regarded as the most difficult phase of decommissioning work.

The weight of nuclear fuel left inside the Nos. 1-3 reactors at the time of the accident was estimated at 69 tons, 94 tons and 94 tons, respectively, adding up to 257 tons. The mixture of fuel and debris was estimated to weigh 279 tons, 237 tons and 364 tons, respectively, for a total of 880 tons, or 2.5 times to four times the weight of fuel. The fuel is believed to have mixed with stainless steel pressure vessel components, zirconium fuel rods and the concrete bottoms of containment vessels when it melted down.

Of the fuel debris in the Nos. 1 and 3 reactors, nuclear fuel and stainless steel -- the main component of the debris -- accounted for about 30% each, and concrete materials around 40%, according to the IRID analysis. In the No. 2 reactor, fuel and stainless steel constituted a total of some 70% and concrete elements the rest.

The IRID analyzed data on conditions inside each reactor right after the accident, including pressure, temperature and the amount of water injected, as well as the results of muon tomography scans inside the No. 1 reactor that used muon beams stemming from cosmic rays. Multiple computer analysis programs were used for the study to evaluate fuel debris movements in a comprehensive manner, and the figures thus obtained are as close to reality to the maximum possible extent currently, according to IRID. In the case of the No. 2 reactor, however, there is a possibility of discrepancies being caused in weight data between the estimated and actual figures because the amount of water injection is not known, making it difficult to presume fuel debris movements.

(Translated by Kyodo News)

15 October 2016

Fukushima’s evacuated town of Futaba to build up to 400 grave plots in common cemetery

The wholly evacuated town of Futaba in Fukushima Prefecture has offered to build 300 to 400 grave plots in the proposed common cemetery for residents affected by the 2011 earthquake, tsunami and nuclear accident. The plan calls for the municipality to purchase a tract of land about 6,000 square meters in the town’s Shimonagatsuka district. Futaba officials outlined the plan at a meeting on town administration held for evacuees at the Iwaki City Culture Center on Oct. 14.

The common cemetery is to be built at the request of townspeople possessing grave sites in tsunami-devastated areas and in places where an interim nuclear waste storage site is being constructed. The town presumes each grave plot to be 6 square meters. It will also build parking lots, restrooms and an "azumaya" rest house.

Currently, the cemetery is in the phase of basic design. The town is poised to launch land purchases and development in fiscal 2017, beginning next April, and start selling plots that year.

The meeting was attended by about 50 townspeople, including evacuees living in Iwaki city and senior town officials. The officials briefed the evacuees on progress in drawing up the town's second restoration plan, the outline of a subsidy program for supporting daily living, and classes attended by students from municipal schools. Futaba Mayor Shiro Izawa delivered a speech at the outset.

The meeting is designed to hear residents' views and opinions about town administration in general. Similar meetings are to take place in and outside the prefecture through November.

(Translated by Kyodo News)

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