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Ministry plans to end TEPCO compensation to 55,000 Fukushima evacuees in 2018

may 19  2015 evacuees

The government will instruct Tokyo Electric Power Co. to terminate compensation payments to 54,800 evacuees from the Fukushima nuclear disaster in March 2018, regardless of radiation levels in their hometowns, sources said.

The new compensation plan of the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry is based on the assumption that decontamination work will lower radiation levels and enable the government to lift evacuation orders in those areas, the sources said May 18.

Currently, the homes of about 80,000 evacuees are located in three zones designated by the government in terms of severity of radiation contamination.

Around 31,800 evacuees’ homes are in “zones being prepared for the lifting of evacuation order,” while 23,000 people have fled their homes in what are now “no-residence zones.”

TEPCO currently pays each of these 54,800 evacuees 100,000 yen(about $834) in compensation a month.

The new plan will affect evacuees from these two zones.

The remaining 24,400 people have homes located in“difficult-to-return zones,” where there are no prospects of lifting the evacuation orders. TEPCO has paid a total of 14.5 million yen to each of these evacuees.

The government’s current guidelines on compensation stipulate that payments should end one year after evacuation orders are lifted.

Under the new plan, the government and ruling parties assume that the evacuation period for people in the first two zones will end “six years after the March 2011 nuclear accident.” That assumption is based on another assumption that decontamination work will be completed by March 2017 and evacuation orders can be called off by that time.

As a result, compensation payments for people from the two zones will end in March 2018. Each of the evacuees will have received atotal of 8.4 million yen during the seven years since the accident started at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant.

The current compensation system allows evacuees to receive additional compensation payments if their evacuation periods are extended. Some critics say evacuees are hoping for a continuation of evacuation orders so that they can receive more money.

But the new plan will terminate compensation payments for the two zones in 2018 without exception. If the evacuation order is lifted five years after the nuclear accident, the evacuees from the area can still receive compensation for two more years, even though they are qualified for only one additional year under the current system.

Adoption of the new plan will make it easier for the government to work out support measures for people who return to their hometowns in the two zones, the sources said.

“The lifting of evacuation orders will proceed,” a government official said. “We will be able to construct houses and attract plants and firms (to the areas) more positively.”

However, it is not clear whether radiation levels will drop as expected by March 2018.

Even if evacuation orders remain in place because of delays in decontamination work, the compensation payments will still end in 2018 for the two zones, the sources said.

Source: Asahi Shimbun

http://ajw.asahi.com/article/0311disaster/fukushima/AJ201505190055

May 19, 2015 Posted by | Japan | , | Leave a comment

Survey:Large majority of Fukushima evacuees have family members with healthproblems

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Nearly 70 percent of evacuees from areas around the damaged Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant have family members complaining of physical or mental problems, a recent survey showed.

Released by the Fukushima prefectural government, the survey covering fiscal 2014 revealed that 66.3 percent of households that fled the disaster area–after the nuclear crisis triggered by the March 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake and tsunami–have at least one member suffering health problems. The figure was 67.5 percent in the previous survey covering fiscal 2013.

In February, the prefecture sent questionnaires to all 59,746 households that evacuated for the latest study–the second of its kind–and received responses from 18,767 households, or 33.6 percent.

Of the respondents, 13,703 households, or 73 percent, said they were forced to evacuate, while 5,054, or 27 percent, said they voluntarily evacuated.

The survey covered about 20 categories, such as the state of the lives of the evacuees, their health conditions and their intent to return to their homes.

Asked about what bothers them, 57.9 percent said they cannot sleep well. While 56.6 percent said they are unable to enjoy their daily lives as they did before the disaster, 49.3 percent said they tire more easily.

Households that are still in temporary housing or rented apartments for evacuees accounted for 62.1 percent, a 10-percentage-point decrease from the previous survey. Meanwhile,19.7 percent–10 points higher than the first study–said they live in their own homes.

Although in the fiscal 2013 survey, 40.4 percent hoped they would be allowed to continue living in temporary housing longer than originally planned, 48.7 percent hope so in the latest findings.

In the latest study, 55.8 percent said they hope to continue living in temporary housing because the evacuation order has yet to be lifted for their hometowns. While 42.1 percent said they are currently unable to rebuild their homes on their own, 40.0 percent said they do not have sufficient funds to leave temporary housing.

In March, the central government released results of its survey of nine municipalities ordered to evacuate since the onset of the Fukushima crisis. The prefectural survey asked evacuees from areas other than the nine municipalities where they hoped to reside in the future. The latest findings show 37.3 percent of households that are evacuees living within Fukushima Prefecture said they hope eventually to return to their homes. Those who want to settle where they currently reside accounted for 16.5 percent, and 11.7 percent said they have yet to decide where to live in the future.

In contrast, 31.6 percent of households that evacuated outside the prefecture said they have not determined where to live in the future, whereas respondents who want to settle where they now live or return to their hometowns accounted for 24.2 percent and 19.8 percent, respectively.

Source: Asahi Shimbun

http://ajw.asahi.com/article/0311disaster/fukushima/AJ201505190054

May 19, 2015 Posted by | Japan | , | Leave a comment

Fukushima finds 16 new cases of thyroid cancer in young people – “unlikely” a direct result of the nuclear accident

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Sixteen young people who lived near the crippled Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant have been diagnosed with thyroid cancer, prefectural authorities said May 18, although they added it is “unlikely” a direct result of the nuclear accident.

Fukushima Prefecture has been conducting thyroid tests on about 385,000 residents and others who were 18 years old or younger at the time of the onset of the March 2011 nuclear disaster caused by the Great East Japan Earthquake and tsunami.

A prefectural panel said the results of the first round of tests that concluded in March 2014 revealed the ratio of those diagnosed orsuspected of having thyroid cancer who live near the Fukushima plant was no different than the ratio of the same age group from elsewherein Japan.

The 16 new cases were detected between January and March, and bring the total number of young people diagnosed with the disease in the testing program to 103. Thyroid cancer can be confirmed only after surgery.

The prefecture is currently conducting its second survey of test subjects, which will be concluded in March 2016.

The latest 16 include 12 individuals who were suspected of having the disease during the first study, and four who were believed to have the disease during the second study.

According to prefectural officials, 112 young people were diagnosed or suspected of having thyroid cancer during the first study, with the figure at 15, thus far, in the second survey, bringing the total to date to 127 people.

Because babies and small children are particularly susceptible to the effects of radiation, many cases of thyroid cancer in infants were reported after the 1986 Chernobyl disaster. However, this has not proven to be the case so far with regard to the Fukushima nuclear crisis.

The prefectural panel will further study the impact of radiation exposure on the frequency of thyroid cancer cases by comparing the findings of the first survey with results of the second study and future check-ups.

Source: Asahi Shimbun

http://ajw.asahi.com/article/0311disaster/fukushima/AJ201505190041

May 19, 2015 Posted by | Japan | , | Leave a comment

Fukushima Contamination Found In Tap Water Around Japan

Testing conducted in February and March of 2015 found cesium in many tap water samples collected around Japan. In the readings, Tokyo had higher tap water contamination levels than Fukushima City.

One reading that may cause confusion is the reading for Ichihara Chiba. It indicated iodine 131 was found in that tap water sample. The reading is isolated, no other cities found iodine 131 in their water. This same problem was encountered in the US soon after the disaster were iodine 131 was being found in some east coast municipal water supplies. What may be happening is linked to medical treatments.

People receiving iodine 131 radiation therapy treatments, used for certain thyroid disorders excrete the substance in their urine. This is intended to allow any iodine 131 in the waste water to decay away. If a containment system is not used or not properly operating, iodine 131 can flow into waste treatment plants and eventually to the waterways. This directly adds contamination to waste water.

If that treated waste water is released into a water way and picked up soon enough downstream it could then contaminate public drinking water supplies.

Source:  http://radioactivity.nsr.go.jp/en/contents/10000/9766/24/194_20150512.pdf

May 19, 2015 Posted by | Japan | | Leave a comment