Release of Fukushima’s treated water going as planned, IAEA says

April 30, 2024, 7:00AMRadwaste Solutions
Data from Fukushima ALPS-treated water discharge. (Image: IAEA)

An International Atomic Energy Agency task force has confirmed that the discharge of treated water from Japan's Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant is progressing in accordance with the plan approved by Japan’s Nuclear Regulation Authority.

IAEA: released Fukushima water below operational limits

March 6, 2024, 12:00PMNuclear News
An IAEA task force visited Fukushima in October 2023 to review the safety of TEPCO’s discharge of ALPS-treated water. (Photo: TEPCO)

International Atomic Energy Agency experts have confirmed that the tritium concentration in the fourth batch of treated water released from Japan’s Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant is far below the country’s operational limit.

Reviewing the top nuclear headlines from 2023

January 7, 2024, 10:10AMNuclear News

The new year is here, and so it is time for the Nuclear News review of 2023's top stories. The recap will appear in the January issue of the magazine, on its way to American Nuclear Society members right now. In the meantime, all ANS members can read the year's issues in the ANS member center, and also review some of the most-read stories from Nuclear Newswire below. Here’s to a Happy New Year!

Advanced liquid waste processing systems: Safely processing Fukushima’s wastewater

March 1, 2021, 3:01PMUpdated August 25, 2023, 3:21PMNuclear NewsJohn Fabian
The Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power station site. Image: Courtesy of TEPCO.

Earlier this week, Japan announced its intention to move ahead with its plan to discharge re-treated, diluted tritiated wastewater from the damaged Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant into the ocean. This plan has been a topic of discussion--and for many a source of contention--since 2013. After a decade of talks, and with the endorsement of nuclear scientists, experts, and organizations around the globe, the time has come to act. By following safety standards in place and endorsed by the IAEA, the release of wastewater will pose no threat to the public or the environment.

The article below was originally published in the March 2021 issue of Nuclear News. (Also included in that issue is a great review article from Lake Barrett outlining the current status of the decontamination and decommissioning going on at Fukushima .) That month marked 10 years since the Tōhoku earthquake and tsunami devastated Japan and crippled the Fukushima plant. The words that follow remain timely, since various news outlets continue to report on the dangers of Fukushima's wastewater without providing context to the Japanese plan to discharge it.

American Nuclear Society supports water release at Fukushima Daiichi

August 24, 2023, 8:41AMPress Releases

Washington, D.C. – The American Nuclear Society (ANS) supports the start of Japan’s controlled release of re-treated, diluted tritium wastewater into the sea from the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant (NPP), which sustained damage in the aftermath of a 2011 earthquake and tsunami.

No evidence yet of explosives planted at Zaporizhzhia, says IAEA

July 6, 2023, 3:00PMNuclear News

International Atomic Energy Agency experts at Ukraine’s Russian-occupied Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant have so far been unable to verify recent claims by Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelenskyy that Russia may have planted explosives at the site to “simulate an attack.”

Beyond the headlines: Japan’s treatment and release of Fukushima wastewater

July 5, 2023, 3:00PMRadwaste Solutions
A photo from 2021 of the Fukushima nuclear power station with the more than 1,000 water storage tanks on site. (Photo: TEPCO)

We’ve all seen the headlines such as “Should Japan Dump Fukushima's Radioactive Water into the Ocean?” along with “Japan Set to Pour Fukushima Waste into Pacific, Irking China” and “Japan Is Slowly but Surely Releasing Wastewater from the Fukushima Nuclear Plant into the Pacific Ocean.” The most recent spate of fearmongering was triggered by the IAEA’s July 4 announcement that the agency had finished its independent assessment of Japan’s plans to release the treated wastewater stored at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power station and found the plan “consistent with IAEA Safety Standards.”

Running out of time to be afraid

June 14, 2023, 3:00PMNuclear NewsCraig Piercy

Craig Piercy

In his new film Nuclear Now, Oliver Stone brings his seasoned directorial hand to bear on the modern case for nuclear energy. Of course, all of us in the field are suckers for a good nuclear movie. (Triple feature with Pandora’s Promise and A New Fire, anyone?) Stone really does do a masterful job of weaving imagery, narration, and animation together to tell the story of his personal journey to understanding the indispensability of nuclear.

What struck me in particular was Stone’s assertion that “we are running out of time to be afraid.” It made me think: How much time do we have left to lock in a durable shift in public opinion that can weather adverse events and clear public policy obstacles and still give the investment community confidence to put big chips on the table?

You don’t have to look far to find progress. Gallup released its annual “Americans’ Opinions of Nuclear Energy” poll in April. It shows a 4-point year-over-year increase in support for nuclear energy, which represents the highest level of support in the post-Fukushima era. Gallup’s numbers align with other polls that show steady increases in support for nuclear in the last few years, especially among the left-leaning respondents.

The trouble with tritium

October 31, 2022, 7:00AMNuclear NewsJames Conca

The trouble with tritium is there is no trouble with tritium.

At any level outside the laboratory, either experimental or manufacturing, tritium is harmless. Every year, we routinely release millions of gallons of slightly tritiated water to the ocean, large lakes, and large rivers from almost every commercial nuclear reactor in the world, and have done so for decades, all in accordance with globally accepted nuclear safety standards. And no adverse effects on the environment or humans have ever been seen.

Germany to keep last nuclear plants running through winter

October 20, 2022, 3:06PMNuclear News
The Neckarwestheim nuclear power plant in Germany. (Photo: EnBW)

German chancellor Olaf Scholz has provided what appears to be the final word on the fate of his country’s three remaining operating nuclear power plants.

Via an October 17 letter, Scholz informed economy and energy minister Robert Habeck, environment minister Steffi Lemke, and finance minister Christian Lindner of his decision to keep all three facilities operating “beyond 31 December 2022 until 15 April 2023 at the latest.” The order ends months of argument between Scholz’s two coalition partners—the stridently antinuclear Greens and the center-right Free Democrats (FDP)—regarding the plants’ continued operation. (Habeck and Lemke are Green Party members, while Lindner is with the FDP.)

IAEA projects increase in nuclear’s growth for second year in a row

September 29, 2022, 7:00AMANS Nuclear Cafe

The International Atomic Energy Agency, for the second successive year, has revised upward its annual projections of nuclear power’s potential growth over the coming decades as an electricity provider.

In the just-released 42nd edition of Energy, Electricity and Nuclear Power Estimates for the Period up to 2050, the IAEA has increased its high-case scenario for nuclear by 10 percent over last year’s report. (In 2021, the agency revised upward its annual projections for the first time since the 2011 Fukushima Daiichi accident.)

According to the high-case scenario, world nuclear generating capacity more than doubles to 873 GWe by 2050, compared with current levels of about 390 GWe—an addition of 81 GWe to last year’s projection. In the low-case scenario, generating capacity remains essentially flat.

Japanese PM wants more nuclear restarts, next-generation development

August 25, 2022, 9:30AMANS Nuclear Cafe


Having already declared last month his government’s intention to return to service as many as nine idled power reactors in order to ensure stable supplies of energy this winter, Japanese prime minister Fumio Kishida yesterday called for additional restarts and endorsed the development and construction of next-generation nuclear plants, according to reports from various news outlets, including Nikkei Asia, the Washington Examiner, and the Los Angeles Times.

Kishida made the comments at the second meeting of Japan’s GX (Green Transformation) Implementation Council, a new group tasked with helping the country achieve carbon neutrality by 2050.

Why Japan’s response to Fukushima radiation failed while Utah’s response succeeded

August 18, 2022, 7:02AMNuclear NewsJames Conca

Aboveground atomic bomb test at the Nevada Test Site while troops look on. These clouds of material often wafted over to Utah during the 1950s. (Photo: NNSA)

In 1953, the United States detonated above­ground nuclear weapons during tests at the Nevada Test Site. In 2011, the Fukushima Daiichi meltdown occurred in Japan. Both events spread radioactive material over many miles and over population centers. Neither event resulted in any adverse health effects from that radiation.

But the response to the Fukushima event was disastrous because of the irrational and misinformed fear of radiation. That fear—not radiation—killed at least 1,600 people and destroyed the lives of at least another 200,000. That fear seriously harmed the entire economy of Japan, stopped cold the fishing industry and other agriculture in that area, and, overnight, reversed the country’s progress in addressing climate change.

The U.S. tests spread two to three times more radiation than did the events of Fukushima over the people of Utah, particularly the town of St. George. Like with Fukushima, no one was hurt, there was never any increase in cancer rates, and no one died as a result. But in Utah, the economy and people’s lives were unaffected. Why was there such a different result?

Germany’s nuclear decision: Hold the confetti for now

August 17, 2022, 3:03PMNuclear News
The Neckarwestheim nuclear power plant in Germany.

For the few members of the nuclear community who haven’t already been made aware, the Wall Street Journal yesterday published a story headlined “Germany to Keep Last Three Nuclear Power Plants Running in Policy U-Turn.” According to the WSJ, the German government plans to postpone retirement of the plants—all of which had been slated for closure by the end of 2022—fearing an inadequate energy supply this winter.

Japan-to-U.S. HEU transfer fulfills nonproliferation commitment

August 10, 2022, 3:02PMNuclear News
NNSA administrator Jill Hruby (right) and Ken Nakajima, director of the Institute for Integrated Radiation and Nuclear Science at Kyoto University, in the KUCA control room. (Photo: NNSA)

All high-enriched uranium has been removed from the Kyoto University Critical Assembly (KUCA), according to an announcement from the U.S. Department of Energy’s National Nuclear Security Administration.

GOP lawmakers call on Secretary Granholm to secure U.S. nuclear energy sector

May 2, 2022, 12:00PMNuclear News


McMorris Rodgers

Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R., Wash.), ranking member of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, and Fred Upton (R., Mich.), ranking member of the Subcommittee on Energy, sent a letter to energy secretary Jennifer Granholm on April 27 urging that more be done to secure America’s nuclear energy sector.

Excerpt: “Russia’s invasion of Ukraine exposes the risks of weakening American energy security,” McMorris Rodgers and Upton write. “These risks extend beyond our oil and gas assets to include supply vulnerabilities in our civilian nuclear sector. This sector is essential for national and energy security and for strengthening the geostrategic relationships necessary to compete with Russia, China, and other adversaries.

Earthquake hits off coast of Japan near Fukushima

March 17, 2022, 3:01PMNuclear News

A magnitude 7.3 earthquake struck off the east coast of Honshu, Japan, at 11:36 p.m. (local time) yesterday, resulting in significant ground shaking near the epicenter, much structural damage, at least four deaths, and a power outage affecting more than 2 million households, including some 700,000 in Tokyo. (According to Japanese utility Tepco, power was restored to all households by 2:52 a.m. on Thursday.)