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Japan asks China to ease food import restrictions introduced after Fukushima nuclear disaster

China banned imports of food produced in 10 prefectures in Japan including Miyagi, Nagano and Fukushima following the crisis

fukushima

A Japanese farm ministry official met a senior Chinese official in charge of food inspection on Friday to request the easing of restrictions on food imports introduced after the Fukushima nuclear disaster in 2011, sources said.

A director general at the Japanese Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries used the meeting in Beijing to stress the safety of Japanese food, the sources said.

China banned imports of food produced in 10 prefectures in Japan including Miyagi, Nagano and Fukushima following the nuclear crisis.

The beginning of such talks reflects an improvement in relations between the two biggest Asian economies.

Ties had deteriorated after the Japanese government bought a major part of the Japanese-administered Diaoyu Islands – known as Senkaku in Japan – in the East China Sea, from a private Japanese owner in 2012. The islands are claimed by China.

Both countries’ leaders have met twice since November, indicating a thaw in their tense relations.

The sale and use of Japanese food products has dropped sharply at department stores, supermarkets and restaurants in China since the import ban went into effect.

But potential demand remains strong for such products.

The two countries are expected to set up another meeting of higher-ranking officials.

In another development, Beijing is set to hold a press conference on the arrangements for a grand military parade to commemorate the 70th anniversary of the end of second world war, another grievance between the two nations.

Qu Rui, deputy director of the Military Parade Leading Group, is scheduled to attend the press conference.

The parade, to be held in September, is seen as an attempt by Beijing to exert pressure on Japan over wartime disputes.

But Beijing has said the parade is not targeted at any particular country.

China has said it will invite leaders of other nations to attend the parade.

Russian President Vladimir Putin is expected to be a guest, but it is not known if Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe will be invited.

Source: South China Morning Post

http://www.scmp.com/news/china/diplomacy-defence/article/1824614/japan-asks-china-ease-food-import-restrictions

June 22, 2015 Posted by | China, Japan | | 1 Comment

Fukushima Offshore Earthquake Reminder – M 4.3 & M 4.5; F. Nuclear Reactors Still Spewing Radiation into Air and Water

Update: A second earthquake occurred in the same area, after this post was published.

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Unknown quantities of radioactive waste water are being dumped into the Pacific, even while lots is being stored on site as can be seen in images further down.

TEPCO admits to still be spewing radioactive materials into the air, over four years on. If you multiply the amount of Cesium which they admit to releasing per hour into the air for April 2015 times 24 hours and times 12 months it is 56,334 times more Cesium than the US’s largest single nuclear reactor, Grand Gulf, emits into the air in one year, and 59.6 times what the notorious Sellafield emits into the air in one year. TEPCO has released at a higher rate per hour and is allowed to release at a still much higher rate into the air. It was, indeed, TEPCO and others, saying how many tonnes of radioactive water that TEPCO could legally dump, which taught us that there was such a thing as legally dumping radioactive materials into the air and water by all nuclear power stations-facilities. North America is downwind…

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June 22, 2015 Posted by | Japan | , | Leave a comment

TEPCO investigating water leak at Fukushima plant

Officials in charge of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant say around 20 liters of highly radioactive water leaked from equipment used to treat tainted rainwater. But they say the incident poses no danger to the outside environment.

Tokyo Electric Power Company officials say the leak came to light when an alarm went off around 9 AM on Saturday. Workers found water was coming out of a joint in a pipe.

TEPCO says all of the water fell into a receptacle below the equipment.

The utility says the water contained about 24,000 becquerels per liter of beta-ray emitting substances, a very high amount.

TEPCO officials say a valve that should have been open was closed, and they believe this raised pressure in the pipes and caused the leak.

The utility is investigating to see if there was any error on the part of workers.

Source: NHK
http://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/english/news/20150621_01.html

June 22, 2015 Posted by | Japan | | Leave a comment

Protecting nuclear disaster evacuees from radiation still a concern

001As prefectures and municipalities that host or border nuclear plants upgrade their regional disaster prevention plans based on the nuclear disaster response guidelines for citizen evacuation protocols announced by the Nuclear Regulation Authority (NRA) in April, the problem of how to measure and prevent radiation exposure among evacuees continues to loom large.

“Reactor No. 1 (at the Fukushima No. 1 Nuclear Power Plant) had exploded, and the inside of the offsite center (which was established as the disaster response base of operations within Fukushima Prefecture) also had high radiation levels. The figures for the screenings we were conducting into whether or not residents had been exposed to radiation were raised immediately afterward.”

So recalls Tsuyoshi Ebine, 62, chief councilor in charge of nuclear power measures with the Nagasaki Prefectural Government. He was working for the secretariat of the Cabinet Office’s Nuclear Safety Commission at the time the nuclear accident occurred, and headed shortly thereafter to the town of Okuma in Fukushima Prefecture to begin engaging in disaster response measures at the offsite center amidst the unfolding chaos.

According to the Fukushima Prefectural Government and other bodies, standards that were in place prior to the nuclear accident held that decontamination procedures should be performed on anyone for whom radiation levels measured near the skin stood above 13,000 counts per minute (cpm). In the case of a one year-old child who had inhaled radioactive substances, this would be equivalent to the thyroid gland being exposed to 100 millisieverts of radiation. (The permissible level of radiation exposure for the average adult is one millisievert per year.)

Following the hydrogen explosion at the No. 1 reactor at the Fukushima plant, however, which took place on March 12, 2011 — dispersing enormous amounts of radioactive materials — screening centers for local evacuees were thrown into a state of total confusion. Escaping to safety became the top priority, and acceptable levels of radiation exposure were raised tenfold to some 100,000 cpm. Readings exceeded this level for a total of 102 residents — a figure, moreover, that represented only those cases that were recorded.

According to the NRA’s proposed measures for dealing with nuclear power disasters, the radiation exposure level at which decontamination is to take place is set at above 40,000 cpm for screenings conducted within one month following a nuclear accident.

“For residents, the objective is evacuation — and speed is top priority,” comments Shinichi Araki, who heads the department of nuclear emergency response and radioactive material protection at the NRA’s secretariat office. “Here, we are applying the lessons learned from the experience of evacuations following the nuclear accident in Fukushima.”

A manual was additionally compiled outlining guidelines for conducting examinations of residents leaving specific areas following exposure to radiation. Hair and shoes are identified in the manual as areas where such exposure generally occurs, and it is explained that if a water source is available, hair should be washed — and clothing should additionally be changed — in order to help bring radiation levels down. If subsequent testing reveals a figure below 40,000 cpm, the guidelines continue, the individual can then proceed to evacuate.

In cases whereby residents evacuate knowing that they have already been exposed to radiation, however, alleviating their concerns is difficult.

“I hope that trainings can be conducted in order to avoid the type of chaos that we saw following the Fukushima nuclear accident,” comments Araki. “The next step we must take is to allay the fears that exist among residents who have faced radiation exposure.”

Nagasaki Prefecture, where radiation exposure has been experienced from the atomic bombing, has been rapidly implementing measures for dealing with potential nuclear power accidents — with four of its cities lying within a 30-kilometer radius of the Kyushu Electric Power Company’s Genkai Nuclear Power Plant.

The prefecture revised its regional disaster prevention plan in June 2012, prior to the national government announcing its future disaster policy guidelines. Provisions were made within the prefectural supplementary budget for radiation-blocking stable iodine tablets, and revisions were made to its emergency radiation exposure medical manual the following year in 2013, including efforts such as increasing the number of medical facilities specializing in early-stage radiation exposure from two to at least three.

Still, however, Ebine comments, “Radiation prevention measures are lagging behind.” The number of medical team specialists remains insufficient, and plans are not in place for evacuations at social welfare facilities or other establishments of a similar nature.

“If there were to be an accident at the Genkai Nuclear Power Plant that resulted in residents being exposed to more than 40,000 cpm of radiation, it would not be enough to do as the government advises — which is to simply undertake decontamination until the figure falls below the target level,” Ebine adds. “It is preferable to continue decontaminating until the lowest possible radiation exposure levels are reached — but no (government) standards are in place in terms of the purpose and methods in this regard.”

The medical manual for radiation exposure that was put together by Nagasaki Prefecture includes information regarding concrete methods for decontamination, such as using moist towelettes to wipe away radioactive substances.

“Nagasaki Prefecture has experience with the eruption of the Fugen-dake peak of the Unzen volcano, and we also sent our employees to Fukushima Prefecture following the nuclear accident there,” notes Shinichi Yoshida, director of the prefecture’s crisis management department. “In addition, we have a framework in place based upon research conducted at Nagasaki University with respect to our history with the atomic bombing.”

“Following the Fukushima nuclear disaster, decontamination had to be undertaken with no available water source — and nobody there knew what was going on,” Yoshida added. “We must be ready for any possible contingency — and we have no choice but to make efforts to educate as many residents as possible about the realities of radiation.”

Source: Mainichi

http://mainichi.jp/english/english/newsselect/news/20150621p2a00m0na010000c.html

June 22, 2015 Posted by | Japan | , , | Leave a comment

Japan, China to discuss food ban

june 21 food exports

BEIJING — The Japanese and Chinese governments have agreed to hold negotiations aimed at easing China’s restrictions on imports of Japanese foodstuffs, measures put in place following the outbreak of a nuclear crisis at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant.

The relevant bureau directors general from both sides met in Beijing on Friday, it has been learned. The event marked the first such talks since the crisis began and a move toward compromise by China.

A bureau director general of the Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Ministry participated in the Friday meeting, as did China’s director general in charge of food inspections. The Japan side said it thoroughly supervised agricultural products and urged China to ease its restrictions, saying Japanese agricultural products are safe and that resolving the issue of import restrictions would contribute to the development of both nations.

China agreed to continue talks on the subject.

In addition to banning the imports of foodstuffs from 10 prefectures, including Fukushima, China requires the submission of a “radiation inspection certifi-cate” for the import of certain items from the other 37 prefectures, such as vegetables, fruit, dairy products and tea leaves.

Because the form of this certificate has not been decided, however, imports have been effectively halted.

About 50 countries and regions had curbed imports of Japanese foodstuffs at one point in the wake of the nuclear crisis. But 13 countries have lifted such rules entirely, and the trend toward easing restrictions is growing.

Source: Yomiuri

http://the-japan-news.com/news/article/0002236052

June 22, 2015 Posted by | China, Japan | | Leave a comment

1,000,000 Bq/m3 of Sr-90 detected in seawater of Fukushima plant port / Highest in recorded history

1000000-Bqm3-of-Sr-90-detected-in-seawater-of-Fukushima-plant-port-Highest-in-recorded-history-june 20 2015

On 6/19/2015, Tepco announced they measured 1,000,000 Bq/m3 of Strontium-90 at two locations in Fukushima plant port.

This is the highest reading in recorded history. The sample is the port seawater. Sampling date was 5/4/2015.

The location was near the water intake of Reactor 3 and 4, and also the screen of Reactor 4.

The previous highest readings were lower than 700,000 Bq/m3.

Tepco has not made any announcement on this rapid increase.

http://www.tepco.co.jp/nu/fukushima-np/f1/smp/2015/images/2tb-east_15061901-j.pdf

Source: Fukushima Daiichi

http://fukushima-diary.com/2015/06/1000000-bqm3-of-sr-90-detected-in-seawater-of-fukushima-plant-port-highest-in-recorded-history/

June 22, 2015 Posted by | Japan | , , | Leave a comment

Radioactive cesium levels in Fukushima river seasonal: study

Radioactive cesium contamination levels in a river near the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant rise in the spring and fall in the autumn, a new study shows.

The researchers believe the rise is attributable to very large numbers of leaves containing radioactive substances falling into rivers in the spring. In one year, the radioactive cesium level in the river in springtime was up to five times that in autumn.

Hirokazu Ozaki, research team leader and assistant professor at Tokyo University of Agriculture and Technology, said, “There is a possibility that radioactive substances are concentrated in the bodies of fish through the food chain, so it’s important to grasp what’s happening in the rivers. This study is unprecedented, and we’d like to continue.”

A group of Tokyo University of Agriculture and Technology researchers analyzed sediment samples taken at 35 locations along the middle reaches of the Abukuma River in Fukushima Prefecture, 40-50 kilometers from the atomic power station, in spring and autumn from 2012 to 2014.

The average density of radioactive cesium-137 per kilogram of sediment was 1,450 becquerels in spring 2012, 1,270 becquerels in autumn 2012, 2,700 becquerels in spring 2013, 451 becquerels in autumn 2013, 1,080 becquerels in spring 2014 and 600 becquerels in autumn 2014.

The highest level was 22,800 becquerels at one location in spring 2013, and there is a wide variation from location to location.

According to researchers, fallen leaves and carcasses of animals containing concentrated radioactive materials fall into the river in spring, increasing the amount of radioactive cesium in the river. Then the rainy season from June to mid-July, along with the typhoons that tend to strike during summer and early autumn, causes the amount of water in the river to surge, sweeping sediment to the river’s lower reaches and decreasing cesium levels in the fall, they say.

Source: Mainichi

http://mainichi.jp/english/english/newsselect/news/20150620p2a00m0na003000c.html

June 22, 2015 Posted by | Japan | , | Leave a comment

The highest density of all β nuclide detected outside of Fukushima plant port

The-highest-density-of-all-β-nuclide-detected-outside-of-Fukushima-plant-port-june 19 2015

On 6/17/2015, Tepco announced they measured the highest density of all β nuclide (including Sr-90) in seawater outside of Fukushima plant port.

The sampling date was 6/15/2015. The density was 16,000 – 24,000 Bq/m3.

The sampling locations were the North-East, East, and South-East of the exit of the port. Especially in the South-East of the port exit, all β nuclide had always been under detectable level until this time.

The distance of these sampling locations and the port exit is not announced.

The Strontium-90 density has not been reported either.

http://www.tepco.co.jp/nu/fukushima-np/f1/smp/2015/images/2tb-east_15061701-j.pdf

Source: Fukushima Diary

http://fukushima-diary.com/2015/06/the-highest-density-of-all-%CE%B2-nuclide-detected-outside-of-fukushima-plant-port/

June 22, 2015 Posted by | Japan | | Leave a comment

Internal TEPCO document reveals executives knew beefing up tsunami defenses was “indispensable”

Fukushima-Daiichi-Tsunami-398x600Tokyo Electric, the operator of the crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, has released a document during a lawsuit brought by over 40 shareholders which reveals the utilities acknowledgment that tsunami defenses at the plant were not adequate.

The internal document from 2008 noted that TEPCO executives had agreed that it would be “indispensable” to further build up coastal defenses for the plant in order to protect against a tsunami larger than had previously been recorded.

The utility has asserted that it could not have foreseen a tsunami of the size or magnitude that hit the plant in March 2011, that it had done everything it could to protect the nuclear power plant, took every available precaution against a tsunami, and has used that defense to protect itself from litigation.

This positioning by TEPCO has allowed the utility to argue that it is not responsible for the triple meltdown, but the internal document casts a definitive shadow over that claim.

Insiders from the nuclear industry in Japan have come forward since 2011 and claimed that TEPCO and the federal regulators ignored warnings of larger-than-expected tsunami in northern Japan for years.  By ignoring these warnings, TEPCO delayed implementing countermeasures, including but not limited to increasing the height of protective wave barriers or removing the critical emergency backup diesel generators from the basements of the reactor buildings to higher ground.

Tsunami

In 2004, Kunihiko Shimazaki, a former professor of seismology of the University of Tokyo, warned that the coast of Fukushima could experience tsunamis more than double the estimates of federal regulators and TEPCO.  His assertions were dismissed as “too speculative” and “pending further research.”

At a nuclear engineering conference in Miami in July 2007, Tokyo Electric researchers led by Toshiaki Sakai presented a paper which concluded that there was a 10% chance that a tsunami could test or overwhelm the defense at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant in the next 50 years.

Engineers from TEPCO confirmed Shimazaki’s concerns in 2008, when they produced three unique sets of calculations that revealed tsunami waves up to 50 feet tall could hit the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant.  The utility sat on the information for nearly a year before handing it over to federal regulators and didn’t reveal the 50-foot wave calculation until March 7th, 2011, but by then it was too late.

In hindsight, it can now be seen that TEPCO scientists realized by at latest 2004 that it was indeed quite probable that a giant tsunami could overcome the defenses at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant — defenses which were based on engineering assumptions that dated back to the plant’s design in the 1960s.

In the weeks following the nuclear disaster in 2011, former Japanese Prime Minister Naoto Kan pointed out the weaknesses in TEPCO’s tsunami defense concisely when he told the Japanese Parliament “It’s undeniable their (Tokyo Electric’s) assumptions about tsunamis were greatly mistaken.  The fact that their standards were too low invited the current situation.”

Source: Enformable

http://enformable.com/2015/06/internal-tepco-document-reveals-executives-knew-beefing-up-tsunami-defenses-was-indispensable/

June 22, 2015 Posted by | Japan | | Leave a comment

Fukushima Fallout: Bird Mutation, Possible Tokyo Evacuation?

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The real picture of the seriousness of the Fukushima nuclear disaster in Japan is being covered up by governments and corporations putting people’s lives further at risk.

Fukushima will most probably go down in history as the biggest cover-up of the 21st Century as citizens are not being informed about the actual risks and dangers. The real picture of the seriousness of the situation is being covered up by governments and corporations, according to Robert Hunziker, an environmental journalist.

Tens of thousands of Fukushima residents fled the area after the horrific disaster of March 2011. Some areas on the peripheries of Fukushima have reopened to former residents, but many people are hesitant to return home because of widespread distrust of government claims that it is safe.

One reason for such reluctance has to do with the symptoms of radiation. It is sinister because it cannot be detected by human senses. People are not biologically capable of sensing its effects, according to Dr. Helen Caldicott, as reported by Global Research.

She further added that radiation slowly accumulates over time without showing effects until it is too late.

It was reported by Ben Mirin that bird species around Fukushima are in sharp decline, and it is getting worse over time. Some of the developmental abnormalities of birds include cataracts, tumors, and asymmetries. Birds were spotted with strange white patches on their feathers, Smithsonian reported.

Dr. Helen Caldicott, co-founder of Physicians for Social Responsibility, writes that Fukushima is literally a time bomb in dormancy and right now the situation is totally out of control.

According to Dr. Caldicott, “It’s still possible that Tokyo may have to be evacuated, depending upon how things go.”

The highest radiation detected in the Tokyo Metro area was in Saitama with cesium radiation levels detected at 919,000 Becquerel (Bq) per square meter, a level almost twice as high as Chernobyl’s ‘permanent dead zone evacuation limit of 500,000 Bq’, media reported.

Furthermore, there have been quite a few accidents and problems at the Fukushima plant in the past year causing anxiety and anger among residents there. Earlier it was reported that TEPCO is struggling with an enormous amount of contaminated water which continues to leak into the surrounding soil and sea.But despite the severity of the Fukushima disaster, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton signed an agreement with Japan that the US would continue importing Japanese foodstuff. Therefore, Dr. Caldicott suggests that people not vote for Hillary Clinton.

“The US government has come up with a decision at the highest levels of the State Department, as well as other departments who made a decision to downplay Fukushima. In April, the month after the powerful tsunami and earthquake crippled Japan including its nuclear power plant, Hillary Clinton signed a pact with Japan that stated there is no problem with the Japanese food supply and we will continue to buy it. So, we are not sampling food coming in from Japan,” Arnie Gundersen, energy advisor told Global Research.

However, unlike the United States, Germany is shutting down all nuclear reactors because of Fukushima. In comparison to the horrible Chernobyl accident, which involved only one reactor, Fukushima has a minimum of three reactors that are emitting dangerous radiation.

June 22, 2015 Posted by | Japan | | Leave a comment

News coverage of Fukushima disaster minimized health risks to general population

Date: March 11, 2015

Source: American University

Summary: A new analysis finds that U.S. news media coverage of the Fukushima disaster largely minimized health risks to the general population. Researchers analyzed more than 2,000 news articles from four major U.S. outlets.

Four years after the 2011 Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster, the disaster no longer dominates U.S. news headlines, though the disabled plant continues to pour three tons of radioactive water into the ocean each day. Homes, schools and businesses in the Japanese prefecture are uninhabitable, and will likely be so forever. Yet the U.S. media has dropped the story while public risks remain.

A new analysis by American University sociology professor Celine Marie Pascale finds that U.S. news media coverage of the disaster largely minimized health risks to the general population. Pascale analyzed more than 2,000 news articles from four major U.S. outlets following the disaster’s occurrence March 11, 2011 through the second anniversary on March 11, 2013. Only 6 percent of the coverage — 129 articles — focused on health risks to the public in Japan or elsewhere. Human risks were framed, instead, in terms of workers in the disabled nuclear plant.

Disproportionate access

“It’s shocking to see how few articles discussed risk to the general population, and when they did, they typically characterized risk as low,” said Pascale, who studies the social construction of risk and meanings of risk in the 21st century. “We see articles in prestigious news outlets claiming that radioactivity from cosmic rays and rocks is more dangerous than the radiation emanating from the collapsing Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant.”

Pascale studied news articles, editorials, and letters from two newspapers, The Washington Post and The New York Times, and two nationally prominent online news sites, Politico and The Huffington Post. These four media outlets are not only among the most prominent in the United States, they are also among the most cited by television news and talk shows, by other newspapers and blogs and are often taken up in social media, Pascale said. In this sense, she added, understanding how risk is constructed in media gives insight into how national concerns and conversations get framed.

Pascale’s analysis identified three primary ways in which the news outlets minimized the risk posed by radioactive contamination to the general population. Articles made comparisons to mundane, low-level forms of radiation;defined the risks as unknowable, given the lack of long-term studies; and largely excluded concerns expressed by experts and residents who challenged the dominant narrative.

The research shows that corporations and government agencies had disproportionate access to framing the event in the media, Pascale says. Even years after the disaster, government and corporate spokespersons constituted the majority of voices published. News accounts about local impact — for example, parents organizing to protect their children from radiation in school lunches — were also scarce.

Globalization of risk

Pascale says her findings show the need for the public to be critical consumers of news; expert knowledge can be used to create misinformation and uncertainty — especially in the information vacuums that arise during disasters.

“The mainstream media — in print and online — did little to report on health risks to the general population or to challenge the narratives of public officials and their experts,” Pascale said. “Discourses of the risks surrounding disasters are political struggles to control the presence and meaning of events and their consequences. How knowledge about disasters is reported can have more to do with relations of power than it does with the material consequences to people’s lives.”

While it is clear that the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear meltdown was a consequence of an earthquake and tsunami, like all disasters, it was also the result of political, economic and social choices that created or exacerbated broad-scale risks. In the 21st century, there’s an increasing “globalization of risk,” Pascale argues. Major disasters have potentially large-scale and long-term consequences for people, environments, and economies.

“People’s understanding of disasters will continue to be constructed by media. How media members frame the presence of risk and the nature of disaster matters,” she said.

Source:  http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2015/03/150311124202.htm

June 22, 2015 Posted by | Japan, USA | | Leave a comment