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Fukushima Health study March 2016 some thoughts with video


Published by Shaun McGee aka Arclight

Some thoughts on the recent Fukushima health study press conference

Bearing in mind that if Hokuto Hoshi said anything different he would have been liable to prosecution because of the Japanese Secrets Law. He did say that he could not say that the Thyroid cancers found were caused by radiation nor were they proven to be not caused by radiation @28 mins and then later @54 minutes he replied that there MIGHT be some problems with initial dose estimates…

Also, during the conference, the fact that children under 5 had no cancers was interesting and this fact was not explored. In Chernobyl we see continuing cases of thyroid cancer but no Iodine 131 present , so what is causing both the cancers in Chernobyl areas and Fukushima areas? Is it because the younger children were better protected from contamination than the school children at the time? Do Cesium isotopes cause thyroid cancer? did the school children get higher contamination eating the local food and cleaning up the school areas?

It is common for children to clean the school and serve the food in Japan and did this cultural trait cause the thyroid cancers we see?..

Also, he did say that their is a problem including children over 13 in the survey because they are over 18 and may not be included in the statistics (but no one asked him to explain this issue in detail ie no actual statistics) .. The question on the elderly was interesting as he said that the survey team did not work with elderly etc evacuees but this was left to the prefecture authorities to deal with and we know that the prefecture will not discuss any health related issues that are not mental health related. .

Towards the end of the session he mentioned that using a baseline in a clean area might cause stress for the unaffected population and therefore no such study was planned (so no baseline for the Fukushima study?? ) .. When asked if the Fukushima doctors were compromised as they just blame psychological stresses causing health effects, he said that the doctors were not compromised (even though they would face criminal prosecution if they said anything different)

Prof Tsuda`s Thyroid study was not mentioned by the press or himself, but he intimated that doctors outside the prefecture were not necessarily more reliable than the Fukushima doctors..

Press Conference: Hokuto Hoshi, Chairperson, Prefectural Oversight Committee Meeting for Fukushima Health Management Survey.
Speech:Japanese with interpretation.
March 07, 2016@Tokyo
Video of conference here

Some useful relevant and recent links here;

32,000 workers at Fukushima No. 1 got high radiation dose, Tepco data show

Experts divided on causes of high thyroid cancer rates among Fukushima children

Japanese People Shun Fukushima Survivors While Doctors Refuse Them Care

Confirming the Toshihide Tsuda Thyroid study findings in Fukushima – Answering the nuclear lobbies questions!

Abe’s secrets law undermines Japan’s democracy


“…Would the investigations into the causes of the Fukushima nuclear accident and the collusive relations between coopted regulators and the utilities that compromised reactor safety have been made public under the new law?

The reason why the public and media pressured the government to enact the national Information Disclosure Law in 2001 was because similar prefectural and local ordinances had exposed extensive malfeasance by bureaucrats and their squandering of vast sums on lavish wining and dining in the 1990s….”

March 7, 2016 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Dentist urges people to keep kids’ baby teeth to study Fukushima radiation exposure

Takemasa Fujino.jpg

A movement calling on people to retain their children’s baby teeth to help study radiation exposure in the wake of the Fukushima nuclear disaster is gaining momentum in Japan.

The radioactive material strontium-90 is easily absorbed into baby teeth, and last year a group of experts formed the “Preserving Deciduous Teeth Network (PDTN),” urging people to keep their children’s baby teeth.

“Baby teeth are evidence of exposure to radiation. We urge people to keep them for the future,” says Takemasa Fujino, 67, a joint head of the network.

Fujino is president of a medical institution that operates three dental clinics in the Tokyo metropolitan region. One clinic is in Matsudo, Chiba Prefecture, which was regarded as a “hot spot” with relatively high levels of radiation following the March 2011 outbreak of the Fukushima No. 1 Nuclear Power Plant disaster.

With residents feeling uneasy, in 2011 Fujino began calling for people to preserve their children’s baby teeth, wanting to do something as a dentist to protect children’s lives and health.

So far, Fujino has had about 500 baby teeth donated, and has commissioned a Swiss testing facility to analyze some of them. Next year the network plans to establish its own testing facility in central Japan.

Baby teeth are formed from when the child is in the womb. “The teeth of children that were fetuses five years ago at the time of the accident will be coming at about this point exactly, and the movement to preserve them will become even more important,” Fujino says.

March 7, 2016 Posted by | Fukushima 2016 | , , , , | Leave a comment

5 years after disaster, reactor decommissioning faces troubling shortage of workers


Workers are seen undertaking construction work on the premises of the Fukushima No. 1 Nuclear Power Plant on May 7, 2015

A total of 21 companies involved with the decommissioning of reactors at the Fukushima No. 1 Nuclear Power Plant — half of the firms that responded to a survey conducted by the Mainichi Shimbun — revealed that they are facing concerns due to an insufficient number of employees for the work.

The risk of radiation exposure from the decommissioning work means that the companies are having trouble attracting young people, with the ongoing aging of the population pointing toward a possible hollowing-out with respect to the technical abilities of the workforce in this regard. This could mean that the problem of securing workers will become an ongoing problem that would result in a delay of reactor decommissioning — which could in turn hinder local reconstruction efforts.

At the administrative building located at the nuclear plant’s point of entrance and exit, workers are routinely met with a greeting of “Please be safe” as they come and go in order to encourage them to fulfill their tasks without any incidents occurring.

While the plant was known immediately after the nuclear accident as a disaster zone, now — five years later — a sense of calm has been restored. The radiation exposure risks and the aging of employees, however, have meant that problems continue to plague the workplace environment.

The survey was sent to a total of 246 companies connected to the reactor decommissioning work, including prime contractors, as well as additional firms whose names were included in construction work-related approval and licensing documents that were submitted to Fukushima Prefecture and other local government offices. Responses were received from 42 companies, or around 20 percent of the total number contacted.

Asked whether they had a sufficient number of employees, 21 firms responded either “No, we have an insufficient number of employees,” or “Basically speaking, we have an insufficient number of employees” — a figure eclipsing the 20 firms that responded, “We have a sufficient number of employees,” or “Basically speaking, we have a sufficient number of employees.”

Asked to name the reasons for the insufficiency (with multiple responses allowed), the answer with the highest number of responses was “Numerous employees are leaving the company due to retirement, and young people are not coming (to take their place),” at 10 firms. The second- and third-highest answers, respectively, were “it’s difficult to pass down the (required) technical skills,” at seven firms; and “the number of aspiring employees is decreasing due to the high radiation levels,” at six firms.

“Although people respond when we announce job openings, they do not have the necessary qualifications — such as being able to hoist and lower suspended loads,” commented the 52-year-old president of a construction firm in the Fukushima prefectural city of Iwaki that is contracted by the nuclear plant for reactor decommissioning-related work.

The firm in question is mostly contracted for on-site work where radiation levels are high. When the government-set figures of 50 millisieverts per year and 100 millisieverts per every five years are exceeded, on-site work is not permitted — and the company must therefore compensate by hiring extra employees.

Because qualified individuals are not available, however, the firm contracts with another company — resulting in a situation whereby its labor insufficiency is filled by hiring the other firm’s employees as its own. This practice, which is known as fake subcontracting, runs the risk of infringing the Worker Dispatch Law and other regulations.

“We are aware that this is illegal,” the company president notes, “but everyone still does it.”

According to a worker survey conducted by the Tokyo Electric Power Co. (TEPCO), which operates the Fukushima No. 1 Nuclear Power Plant, some 20 percent of all workers at the plant had been hired via fake subcontracting. And while TEPCO asks its business affiliates to comply with the law, it does not appear that this is a situation that is set to improve.

“With reactor decommissioning set to be entering its most crucial stage, the national government should be taking the initiative to put measures in place that are aimed at securing workers for this purpose,” points out Kazumitsu Nawata, a professor of econometrics at the University of Tokyo who is well-versed in the situation facing the nuclear plant workers.

In assessing the future prospects for the reactor decommissioning work, which is likely to go on for several decades, a matter exists beyond that of securing new laborers that is an additional cause for concern: the problem of workers’ exposure to radiation.

The estimated average monthly radiation exposure of workers was 32 millisieverts immediately following the nuclear accident, and has presently decreased to 0.44 millisieverts. No longer is there a need to wear full-face masks, which made breathing difficult.

Between the disaster and January 2016, however, the number of workers whose yearly radiation exposure level was greater than 5 millisieverts — a figure that the Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare utilizes as a criteria when determining the recognition of workers’ compensation in cases of leukemia — was around 20,000 among the total of 42,000 workers.

When irradiated fuel from the spent nuclear fuel pools begins to be transported, moreover, there is a possibility that the dosage in this regard will increase even further.

A 23-year-old male worker from the city of Iwaki who was responsible for removing radioactively-contaminated vehicles that had been left on the premises of the nuclear plant said that he was surprised when the figures on his dosimeter began increasing immediately.

“I do not know what effects (this work) will have upon my body in 30 years,” he commented. “I do not want to do work involving high doses (of radiation).”

Also troubling are the effects of the withdrawal of seasoned workers from the field. According to TEPCO, veteran employees in their 50s or older comprise 45 percent of all total workers. With reactor decommissioning work — including the collection of melted nuclear fuel — expected to enter its main phase in 2021, it is possible that the continuing loss of experienced workers will lead to a situation characterized by a reduction in both human resources and technology.

“I will never again return to 1F (the Fukushima No. 1 Nuclear Power Plant),” asserted Yuji Takagi, 53, a former nuclear plant worker from the city of Iwaki.

Takagi, a veteran employee since the time prior to the nuclear disaster whose work included helping to measure the number of neutrons directly underneath the nuclear reactors, explained that with the sudden increase in the number of tank and other construction projects taking place following the accident, there was also a rising number of employees who were inexperienced with working at nuclear power plants.

As a result, Takagi felt like there was a mismatch wherein he was unable to utilize his job experience.

“If you do not understand the inner structure of nuclear plants, there will be problems with reactor decommissioning,” he commented, adding, “Know-how is indispensable.”

The system is comprised of a pyramid-like structure, whereby TEPCO and major general contractors — which serve as the original contractors at its peak — contract out work to the other companies that are fanned out beneath them. With work consequently compartmentalized, then, it accordingly becomes increasingly difficult to utilize employees’ expertise.

“The structure of subcontracting results in decreasing profits for lower-level companies, who are additionally burdened with taking up the slack (of companies further up on the pyramid),” commented Professor Nawata. “A mechanism is necessary to improve this treatment.”

Also involved with the reactor decommissioning work are numerous local residents of Fukushima Prefecture who are themselves victims of the disaster.

A 51-year-old worker from Futaba County who is responsible for analyzing contaminated water at TEPCO-owned facilities on the premises of the plant commented, “My work plays only a small part, but analysis of the contaminated water is an indispensable part of the reactor decommissioning process.”

The worker added, “I am happy to be of service to Fukushima Prefecture, as well as to the next generation.”

The feared scarcity of workers, then, has also resulted in a situation of dependence upon Fukushima workers to fill this employment need that exists within the reactor decommissioning sector.

March 7, 2016 Posted by | Fukushima 2016 | , , | 1 Comment

32,000 workers at Fukushima No. 1 got high radiation dose, Tepco data show


A Reuters reporter measures a radiation level of 9.76 microsieverts per hour in front of Kumamachi Elementary School inside the exclusion zone in Okuma, near Tokyo Electric Power Co’s tsunami-crippled Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power planton Feb. 13

A total of 32,760 workers at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant had an annual radiation dose exceeding 5 millisieverts as of the end of January, according to an analysis of Tokyo Electric Power Co. data.
A reading of 5 millisieverts is one of the thresholds of whether nuclear plant workers suffering from leukemia can be eligible for compensation benefits for work-related injuries and illnesses.
Of those workers, 174 had a cumulative radiation dose of more than 100 millisieverts, a level considered to raise the risk of dying after developing cancer by 0.5 percent. Most of the exposure appears to have stemmed from work just after the start of the crisis on March 11, 2011.
The highest reading was 678.8 millisieverts.
Overall, a total of 46,490 workers were exposed to radiation, with the average at 12.7 millisieverts.
The number of workers with an annual dose of over 5 millisieverts increased 34 percent from fiscal 2013 to 6,600 in fiscal 2014, when workloads grew to address the increase in radiation-tainted water at the plant. The number was at 4,223 in the first 10 months of fiscal 2015, which ends this month, on track to mark an annual decline.
A labor standards supervision office in Fukushima Prefecture last October accepted a claim for workers compensation by a man who developed leukemia after working at the plant, the first recognition of cancer linked to work after the meltdowns as a work-related illness. Similar compensation claims have been rejected in three cases so far, according to the labor ministry.
The average radiation dose was higher among Tepco workers at the plant than among workers from subcontractors in fiscal 2010 and 2011. Starting in fiscal 2012, the reading was higher among subcontractor workers than among Tepco workers.
The average dose for subcontractor workers was 1.7 times the level of Tepco workers in fiscal 2013, 2.3 times in fiscal 2014 and 2.5 times in fiscal 2015 as of the end of January.
A separate analysis of data from the Nuclear Regulation Authority showed that the average radiation dose of workers at 15 nuclear power plants across the country, excluding the Fukushima No. 1 and No. 2 plants, fell to 0.22 millisievert in fiscal 2014, when none of the plants was in operation, down 78 percent from 0.99 millisievert in fiscal 2010

March 7, 2016 Posted by | Fukushima 2016 | , , , | 2 Comments

Experts divided on causes of high thyroid cancer rates among Fukushima children


A child undergoes an ultrasound screening at Hirata Chuo Clinic in Hirata, Fukushima Prefecture, on Feb. 23, 2016. The local clinic conducts separate checkups from the prefectural government’s thyroid cancer examinations.

A total of 166 children in Fukushima Prefecture had been either diagnosed with thyroid cancer or with suspected cases of cancer by the end of 2015 through screening conducted by the Fukushima Prefectural Government, following the 2011 nuclear plant crisis.

The figure is several dozen times higher than the estimated number of thyroid cancer patients based on national statistics, according to a panel of experts with the prefectural government. While the panel and the Environment Ministry say the effects of radiation in these cancer cases are unlikely, opinions are divided among experts about the causes of such a high occurrence rate of cancer in children.

“Compared to the estimated prevalence rates based on the country’s statistics on cancer, which are shown in data including regional cancer registration, the level of thyroid cancer detection is several dozen times higher (in children of Fukushima Prefecture),” said the final draft for the interim report compiled by the prefectural government’s expert panel on Feb. 15.

Most experts of epidemiology agree on the view that the number of thyroid cancer cases is high among over 300,000 targets in health checkups that started six months after the nuclear meltdowns.

A research team led by Shoichiro Tsugane, head of the Research Center for Cancer Prevention and Screening of the National Cancer Center and a member of the Fukushima government’s expert panel, published a research paper on the matter in January this year and another team headed by Okayama University professor Toshihide Tsuda also published their paper in October 2015. While their calculation methods differ, the two teams both concluded that the number of cancer cases found in Fukushima children was “about 30 times” that of national levels.

There has never been an attempt in Japan to check thyroid cancer among hundreds of thousands of children who are not self-aware about symptoms such as lumps. Because of this, some experts pointed out earlier that the screening detected cancer in advance in those who may develop the disease later, and as a result, the number of cancer patients spiked temporarily. While such a rapid increase in the number of patients by early detection has been reported in other types of cancer, the figure remains as high as “several times higher than national levels.” Tsugane and Tsuda both agree that the “30 times higher (than the national occurrence rates)” is unexplainable.

At the moment, the most likely theories for such a high rate of cancer detection are the “overdiagnosis theory” held by Tsugane’s team and the “radiation effect theory” that Tsuda’s team supports.

Overdiagnosis refers to the diagnosis of cancer by detecting hidden cancer cells that are not harmful even if left untreated.

The concept of cancer overdiagnosis has been argued for decades in areas including the lungs, chest and prostate, and its negative effects on cancer screening takers’ physical and psychological conditions have been pointed out as a problem. In 2004, the Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare canceled examinations for neuroblastoma, a type of pediatric cancer, saying that the test would impose large disadvantages on screening subjects due to overdiagnosis.

In South Korea, thyroid cancer screening has been rigorously carried out from the late 1990s targeting adults, and as a result, the number of thyroid cancer patients spiked 15 times. In the meantime, thyroid cancer death rates have not changed, which has been interpreted in a way that non-harmful cancer was detected in the screening process.

While the Fukushima screening mostly targets children, Tsugane argues that it’s rational to judge that the reason behind such a high prevalence is overdiagnosis as seen in South Korea’s studies, on the grounds that the maximum amount of radiation exposure in the thyroids of children in Fukushima Prefecture is estimated to be several dozen millisieverts, which is not enough to cause an increase of 30 times in the number of patients. He also argues that it appears that no phenomenon has been reported where the number of patients becomes higher in areas with high radiation levels. The prefectural government shares his opinion on the matter.

At the same time, Tsugane is not completely denying the effects of radiation in children’s cancer, saying, “It would not be strange if a small portion of cancer cases was caused by radiation exposure, but we do not know the precise percentage.”

Tsuda, on the other hand, took the difference in the timing of screening among children into account and argues that radiation exposure is the main cause of the high prevalence of cancer in children, saying that the occurrence rate is 4.6 times higher in Futaba County near the crippled nuclear plant compared to the city of Sukagawa and other areas that are farther from the power plant.

He does not deny the possibility of overdiagnosis, but because the spread of cancer cells to lymph nodes and other tissues could be seen in 92 percent of patients, Tsuda believes that overdiagnosis makes up 8 percent of the patients at most.

In addition, Tsuda pointed to three research papers on the 1986 Chernobyl nuclear disaster that argue that thyroid cancer was not found in a total of 47,000 children who were born after the disaster and had not been exposed to radiation, and rejects the existence of overdiagnosis in children.

Tsuda also pointed out that non-harmful cancer should have been detected in the first round of screenings, drawing attention to the fact that 51 new patients were found in the second round that began in 2014.

In regard to the results of the second round of screening, Osaka University public health professor Tomotaka Sobue, who supports the overdiagnosis theory, confesses that while it is unlikely that the cancer was caused by radiation exposure, “overdiagnosis alone cannot explain the phenomenon for now.”

Cancer screenings of the same scale in other areas might help determine the main cause of the high prevalence in Fukushima children. Tsugane argues, however, that while screening is necessary in Fukushima Prefecture to confirm the effects of radiation, the same kind of screening should not be carried out in other prefectures as it will only increase the number of overdiagnosis cases.

Tsuda, on the other hand, pushes for screening in other prefectures, saying that the whole picture of thyroid cancer patients should be revealed so that the causal relationship is not blurred. In addition, he calls for the cancer registration and establishing certificates for “hibakusha” (those exposed to radiation) to confirm radiation-induced cancer patients.

Both Tsugane and Tsuda based their research on the first round of screening conducted between 2011 and 2015. About 300,000 children were screened, and thyroid cancer was detected in 113 subjects, including suspected cancer cases at the time of analysis.

Tsugane’s team estimated that if all 360,000 children targeted in the cancer screening had gone through the checkups, approximately 160 patients would have been found. The team also estimated that about 5.2 children out of 360,000 children in the same age group as the Fukushima screening subjects had thyroid cancer based on calculations on a national average of thyroid cancer patients. As a result, the team reached a result of “about 30 times higher” by comparing 5.2 and 160 drawn from the estimate on Fukushima children.

Tsuda, meanwhile, focused his attention on the national average of the thyroid cancer occurrence rate in the same age group as the targets in the screening in Fukushima Prefecture, which was around three in every 1 million children per year. A total of 113 cancer patients out of 300,000 screening takers have been found in Fukushima Prefecture, which can be converted into about 90 patients in 1 million children per year over a four-year period. With those figures, Tsuda’s team concluded occurrence rates of about “30 times higher.”

The prefectural government’s expert panel drafted the interim report based on Tsugane’s calculation method.

March 7, 2016 Posted by | Fukushima 2016 | , , | 1 Comment

Japanese People Shun Fukushima Survivors While Doctors Refuse Them Care


Those who do not fit the norm, for whatever reason no matter how abusive,

are outcasts. 

In retrospect, societal norms throughout history have sometimes become fatally irresponsible. When it comes to popular movements and health trends, humanity has had its share of shameful events stamped forever into the history books. While working in Vienna General Hospital’s first obstetrical clinic, where doctors’ wards had three times the mortality of midwives’ wards, Hungarian physician Ignaz Semmelweis proposed the novel idea of hand washing in 1847. Despite various publications of results where hand washing reduced mortality from 35% to below 1%, Semmelweis’s observations conflicted with the established scientific and medical opinions of the time and his ideas were rejected. After his discovery, Semmelweis was committed to an insane asylum and promptly beaten to death by guards. As horrific as these visions and events can sometimes be, they continue to be played out in today’s society partially due to public ignorance, corruption, conflicts of interest and imbedded norms.

The world is rapidly approaching the five year anniversary of the worst nuclear disaster in human history. The triple meltdown at the Fukushima daiichi nuclear power plant has seen shameful omissions by global leaders and officials at every level. To compound matters, Japanese survivors are forced to submit to a complicit medical community bordering on anti-human. While the solutions to the widespread nuclear contamination are few, media blackouts, government directives and purposefully omitted medical reporting has made things exponentially worse. Over the last five years, the situation on the ground in Japan had deteriorated to shocking levels as abuse and trauma towards the survivors has become intolerable.

Even before the nuclear disaster in Fukushima, Japan endured another nuclear disaster as a testing ground for the US military’s new nuclear arsenal on the cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945. The numbers of Japanese civilians killed were estimated at around 226,000, roughly half of the deaths occurred on the first day. After the initial detonation of the two nuclear bombs, both Japanese cities endured a legacy of radiation damage and human suffering for decades after. Tomiko Matsumoto, a resident of Hiroshima and survivor of the bombing described the abuse and trauma she endured by her society:

I was shocked because I was discriminated against by Hiroshima people. We lived together in the same place and Hiroshima people know what happened but they discriminated against each other. ..I was shocked.

There were so many different kinds of discrimination. People said that girls who survived the bomb shouldn’t get married. Also they refused to hire the survivors, not only because of the scars, but because they were so weak. Survivors did not have 100 percent energy.”

There was a survivor’s certificate and medical treatment was free. But the other people were jealous. Jealous people, mentally discriminated. So, I didn’t want to show the health book sometimes, so I paid. Some of the people, even though they had the health book, were afraid of discrimination, so they didn’t even apply for the health book. They thought discrimination was worse than paying for health care.”

A similar scene is playing out today in Japan as residents of the Fukushima prefecture, who survived triple nuclear meltdowns, are forced to endure similar conditions over half a century later. Fairewinds Energy Education director and former nuclear executive Arnie Gunderson is currently embarked on a speaking tour of Japan as their population continues to search for the truth about nuclear risks and the reality of life in affected areas of Japan after the 2011 disaster. Many Fukushima prefecture residents are still displaced and living in resettlement communities as their city sits as a radioactive ghost town. Visiting one such resettlement community, Gunderson had this to say:

Today I went to a resettlement community. There were 22 women who met us, out of 66 families who live in this resettlement community. They stood up and said my name is…and I’m in 6A…my name is…and I’m in 11B and that’s how they define themselves by the little cubicle they live in — it’s very sad.”

Speaking with the unofficial, interim mayor of the resettlement community, she told Gunderson

After the disaster at Fukushima, her hair fell out, she got a bloody nose and her body was speckled with hives and boils and the doctor told her it was stress…and she believes him. It was absolutely amazing. We explained to her that those area all symptoms of radiation [poisoning] and she should have that looked into. She really felt her doctor had her best interests at heart and she was not going to pursue it.

Speaking about how Japanese officials handled this resettlement community’s (and others?) health education after the disaster, Gunderson reported:

They [the 22 women who met with Gunderson] told us that we were the first people in five years to come to them and talk to them about radiation. They had nobody in five years of their exile had ever talked to them about radiation before…Which was another terribly sad moment.

When asked if the women felt isolated from the rest of Japan they described to Gunderson the following:

Some of them had changed their license plates so that they’re not in Fukushima anymore — so their license plates show they’re from another location. When they drive back into Fukushima, people realize that they’re natives and deliberately scratch their cars…deliberately scratch their cars because they are traitors. Then we had the opposite hold true that the people that didn’t change their plates and when they left Fukushima and went to other areas, people deliberately scratched their cars because they were from Fukushima.”

Gunderson summed up the information he received by saying, “The pubic’s animosity is directed toward the people of Fukushima Prefecture as if they somehow caused the nuclear disaster.

When it comes to health decisions, the medical community and political class has polarized the conversation into an “either-or” “us vs. them” mentality. Reckless lawmaking and biased reported has only driven the Japanese public further down this slippery slope. In many countries, the public watched as medical dogma and ideology captured healthcare, which in turn began to direct policy and law. Many societies beyond Japan are now facing difficult choices as the free expression of health preservation and medical choice has fallen into a dangerous grey area. Oscillating between authoritative legal action, medical discrimination and public abuse, society’s norms appear to be rapidly heading down the wrong road. Untold damage and traumas are unfolding as governments hide information and quietly omit vital data further fueling the fire. Alternative media and the work of those in medicine with true integrity and compassion have herculean tasks awaiting them as they work to change a historically dangerous narrative attempting to root.

March 7, 2016 Posted by | Fukushima 2016 | , | 3 Comments

FIVE YEARS AFTER: Fukushima fishermen still struggle to prove catches are safe


Fishermen unload their catch in experimental operations from a boat anchored at the Matsukawaura fishing port in Soma, Fukushima Prefecture.

Fukushima fishermen have been stuck in a vicious circle over the past five years. Whenever a glimmer of hope arises that they can resume normal operations, something happens at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant that quashes the optimism.
“Just when we thought the fishing environment had progressed one step forward, it would take a step back,” said Yukio Sato, a 56-year-old fisherman. “The past five years have been such a forward and back zigzag.”
Although radioactivity levels in their catches have fallen considerably, the fishermen are still struggling to convince consumers that the fish are safe to eat.
Any leak of radioactive water from the Fukushima No. 1 plant–and there have been many–into the Pacific Ocean reinforces the negative image of Fukushima fish.
The catches have dropped in size, prices have plummeted and some fishermen are now giving up hopes of making a living from the fishing grounds.
Sato used to take his fishing trawler out five days a week.
But fishermen in the prefecture were forced to suspend operations immediately after the Great East Japan Earthquake and tsunami triggered the crisis at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant. Radiation levels exceeding national standards were detected in the fish they caught.
“We could not catch the fish that we knew were swimming in those waters,” Sato said. “It was just so frustrating.”
Sato now takes his fishing trawler out twice a week.
The waters off Fukushima Prefecture are bountiful because two currents collide there. Close to 200 different types of fish can be caught in those waters.
In early February, Sato’s boat and other trawlers returned to the Matsukawaura fishing port in Soma, Fukushima Prefecture, carrying Pacific cod, monkfish, snow crab and other fish.
Sato’s catch totaled about 500 kilograms, and the fish were sent to local shops as well as the Tsukiji fish market in Tokyo.
“It would be great if we could return to the fishing of the past while I am still alive,” Sato said.
The catch from the coastal waters is still only about 6 percent of the levels before the nuclear accident.
In June 2012, more than year after the triple meltdown at the nuclear plant, experimental operations started to determine the market reaction to fish considered safe in terms of radioactivity levels.
Despite that effort, problems with radiation-contaminated water flowing into the Pacific continued.
Tokyo Electric Power Co., the operator of the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant, is still facing difficulties bringing the water problem under control. Every day, tons of groundwater flow under the Fukushima plant and become contaminated with radiation.
At one time, TEPCO came up with a plan to pump up the groundwater and dump it into the ocean before it could reach the plant.
Local fishermen opposed the plan because even dumping safe water into the Pacific would hurt the image of the fish caught in coastal waters.
But if such measures were not taken, the volume of contaminated water could increase to levels that would make it impossible to process.
In March 2014, the fishermen reluctantly agreed to the water bypass plan.
However, a year later, contaminated rainwater spilled outside the port waters. TEPCO’s failure to immediately disclose that problem refueled general concerns about contaminated water.
Other measures have since been taken to deal with the contaminated water, but according to one individual in the fishing industry, “No matter what is done, only the negative image that arises from that time is highlighted.”
Fishermen now depend on compensation from TEPCO for their daily livelihoods. Even those who are not engaged in experimental operations receive compensation equivalent to about 80 percent of their actual catch before the nuclear accident.
With no prospects for a resumption of full-scale operations, some fishermen are not bothering to take part in the experimental operations.
The radioactivity levels in the water and fish have steadily declined.
Three months after the nuclear accident started, half of the fish sampled had radioactivity levels exceeding the national standard of 100 becquerels per kg.
In 2015, 8,500 samples were tested; only four exceeded the national standard.
The decline in radioactivity levels has led to an expansion in the types of fish that can be caught through experimental operations, from three to 72.
While a simple comparison is not possible because the catch level in Fukushima is so low, fish caught through experimental operations fetch between 80 and 90 percent of the prices paid for the same fish types caught in other prefectures.
“With the brand image having fallen so low, it would not be profitable even if operations were allowed to expand,” said Takashi Niitsuma, 56, an official with the Iwaki city fisheries cooperative.
Fish caught further out to sea are also affected. Regardless of where the fish are caught, if they are brought to Fukushima ports, they are classified as being from Fukushima. That has led fishermen to avoid anchoring at Fukushima ports.
According to Fukushima prefectural government officials dealing with the fishing industry, about 5,600 tons of fish, excluding those caught in coastal waters, were brought into Fukushima ports in 2014. The figure is only 40 percent of the pre-nuclear accident level.
The Aquamarine Fukushima aquarium in Iwaki holds monthly events to show that fish caught off Fukushima are safe. At one recent event, a fat greenling was placed in a device to measure radiation levels while visitors looked on. A message flashed on a screen: “None detected.”
“Fish born after the nuclear accident will never exceed the central government’s standard,” said Seiichi Tomihara, 43, a veterinarian at the aquarium.
Local residents are involved in the project to dispel doubts about the trustworthiness of information provided by TEPCO and the central government.
“I first of all want people to understand the fact that the waters off Fukushima are steadily recovering,” Tomihara said.

March 7, 2016 Posted by | Fukushima 2016 | , , | Leave a comment

Fukushima Survey – A mere facade


2月15日に第22回福島県「県民健康調査」検討委員会(以下、検討委員会)が開催されました。この検討委員会で最も注目を浴びるのは甲状腺 検診結果です。「先行検査」での「悪性ないし悪性疑い」となった人数はさらに増加しました。前回と同じく口頭の説明だけでしたので、本格検査の二巡目も含 めた人数を表にまとめてみました。

On February 15th, the Fukushima Prefecture held its 22sd “Citizens Health Survey” Review Committee. Most of this session, the thyroid screening results was brought into focus. The number of cases with children being diagnosed with a “malignant or on suspicion of being malignant” from the “prior inspection” further increased. Since it was only announced verbally like the previous announcement, I made a table to summarize the results, including the full-scale testing of the second round.


表の結果を見れば明らかなように「悪性疑い」と診断された場合は、ほとんど「悪性」とみて間違いありません。しかし、検討委員会の見解は「放射能の影響は 考えづらい」と今までの見解を踏襲したものです。

It is clear from that table that the cases listed in “suspected malignant tumor” end up being very similar to the “malignant tumor” cases. Despite of this and following its earlier statement, the Review Committee is continuing to deny any possible impact from radioactivity and finds it “hardly considerable. ”


It is as if the Committee was not willing to change its view regardless of any survey’s results.

さらに、この流れに拍車をかけるかもしれないと思われるのは、今回の検討委員会に甲状腺外科の専門医である清水一雄委員が欠席したことです。このよ うな 専門家が誰一人出席しない中で、今回の検討委員会は開催されたわけです。また、前回、星北斗座長の「放射能の影響は考えづらい」という見解に対して質問を した春日文子委員も欠席しました。そして、すでに福島県立医大からは、甲状腺専門医である鈴木眞一医師に代わり内科医の大津留晶医師となっています。

What made this particular review even less valid this time around was that Dr. Kazuo Shimizu, who is the only specialist of thyroid surgery among the members, was absent from the Committee. This review was held in such circumstances without any thyroid specialists. Also, Ms. Fumiko Kasuga, who previously questioned the statement that the “the impact of radioactivity is hardly considerable,” to chairman Hokuto, was also absent from the Committee. In addition, replacing thyroid specialist Dr. Shinichi Suzuki, member from the Fukushima Medical University has changed to physician Dr. Akira Otsuru.

検討委員会としながらも、専門家不在の中で何が検討されようとしているのでしょうか? 第22回検討委員会は検討委員会が形骸化していることを示唆するような会でした。

What will the Committee do without any specialist? The 22nd Review Committee suggests that the review committee is a mere facade.    

by Hiromi ABE  あべひろみ

translated by Chiharu MUKUDAI for Evacuate Fukushima 福島の子供を守れ

Source Source  ー参考ー

福島県調査: 形骸化する検討委員会 Fukushima Survey – A mere facade


March 7, 2016 Posted by | Fukushima 2016 | , , | Leave a comment

Schools in disaster zones regroup as students decline

SENDAI, KYODO – Parts of the Tohoku area hit hardest by the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami now have fewer school-age children, creating pressure to close or consolidate schools, school board data suggests.
The number of elementary and junior high school students in 42 of the hardest hit municipalities in Iwate, Miyagi and Fukushima prefectures totals about 187,000, down 12.2 percent from five years earlier, data gathered from local education boards said Saturday.
That is more than twice the 5.2 percent nationwide drop resulting from the declining birthrate.
The greater drop in the areas most damaged by the disasters is due mainly to families having moved away from coastal areas ravaged by tsunami. The 42 municipalities also include areas where people were ordered to evacuate from the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear disaster.
The decline has accelerated moves to eliminate and consolidate schools in those areas, casting a shadow over prospects for local communities, according to experts.
Bunkyo University professor Masaaki Hayo said schools can help cultivate a sense of unity. But he added, “Eliminating and consolidating schools could break up communities.”
Katsuya Suzuki of the education board in Minamisoma, Fukushima Prefecture, said, “It cannot be helped that people have settled where they have evacuated. As we also face lower birthrates, we need to think about new ways to operate schools.”

March 7, 2016 Posted by | Fukushima 2016 | , | Leave a comment

Solar powered airport for South Africa

text-relevantAfrica gets its first solar-powered airport By Milena Veselinovic, for CNN March 4, 2016 (CNN) South Africa has ramped up its green credentials by unveiling the continent’s first solar-powered airport.

Located halfway between Cape Town and Port Elizabeth, George Airport will meet 41% of its energy demand from a brand new 200 square meter solar power plant built on its grounds.

The facility, which was officially launched last week, has 3,000 photovoltaic modules, and will gradually increase capacity to deliver 750Kw power when it reaches full production…….

The airport serves the Western Cape town of George which lies in the heart of the scenic Garden Route, famous for its lush vegetation and lagoons which are dotted along the landscape.

It handles over 600,000 passengers a year, many of them tourists, but it’s also a national distribution hub for cargo such as flowers, fish, oysters, herbs and ferns.

The clean energy initiative follows in the footsteps of India’s Cochin International airport — the world’s first entirely solar powered airport, and Galapagos Ecological Airport, built in 2012 to run solely on Sun and wind power.

 The George Airport project is the latest in the string of alternative energy investments designed to help relieve the burden of irregular electricity supply, which has long plagued parts of Africa.

Around 635 million people, or 57% of the population, are estimated to live without power on the continent, with that number climbing to 68% in Sub-Saharan Africa.

Last year, a UK start-up collaborated with Shell to build a solar-powered soccer pitch in the Nigerian city of Lagos, but governments are also increasingly harnessing the Sun’s energy for major infrastructure projects.

Last month, Morocco switched on what will be the world’s largest concentrated solar plant when it’s completed. It is predicted to power one million homes by 2018. In Rwanda, a $23.7 million solar plant has increased the country’s generation capacity by 6% and lighting up 15,000 homes.,airport,solar,renewables&utm_campaign=greenpeace&__surl__=IgNX8&__ots__=1457298969501&__step__=

March 7, 2016 Posted by | decentralised, South Africa | Leave a comment

Fukushima’s dead zone: the abandoned towns

five years on, an area 12 miles around the plant remains a dead zone, abandoned and uninhabited.

wastes-bags-Fukushima-14At intervals beside the roads, heaped up in huge piles, lie half a million black plastic bags containing radioactive topsoil, scraped off the surface of the land in an effort to persuade farmers to start work here again.

Some of the dead zone will never return to life. Futaba, the closest town to the plant, will probably be turned into a radioactive waste dump.

thousands of workers are now being bussed in to the cleanup effort at the power station, the radioactive fuel rods which melted down are all still there. Even after five years, radiation levels inside the reactor buildings are still too high for workers to enter, making it hard to even plan the task that needs to be done, let alone carry it out.

Fukushima: Inside the dead zone where the legacy of nuclear disaster still rulesFive years since a tsunami led to disaster at Japan’s Fukushima nuclear plant, Andrew Gilligan explores the ghost towns left in its wake, Telegraph UK,  By , in Fukushima, video by Julian Simmonds, additional editing by Charlotte Krol  06 Mar 2016

 On the main shopping street of Japan’s nuclear ghost town, only the grass growing through the tarmac, and the rust on the parked cars, tells you the tsunami and earthquake happened five years ago, not yesterday.
abandoned town Namie

Along the rest of the country’s blasted east coast, the wreckage has been at least cleared away, even if not much has yet been put in its place. But in Futaba, time stopped on the night of 11 March 2011, when those residents who’d survived the giant wave fled, as they thought, for their lives from something even more frightening.

The buildings which collapsed in the earthquake have simply been left – rubble, roof tiles and all. The ceremonial torii gate of the Shinto shrine is lying exactly where it fell, on its side jutting out into the street. But most of the town is physically intact. It was just abandoned, and clearly in a very great hurry…..

As Japan’s prime minister at the time, Nato Kan, told The Telegraph in an interview published on Saturday, the country came within a “paper-thin margin” of a disaster requiring the evacuation of 50 million people. What did happen was bad enough. Inside the plant, a skeleton staff – the so-called “Fukushima 50” – battled to avert total catastrophe, reading emergency manuals by torchlight and at one stage asking workers to bring their car batteries to power the crippled cooling systems.

Outside, there was mass panic, with compulsory evacuation for 400,000 local residents and much of the rest of northern Japan cramming roads and railway stations to get out, too. In the end, the worst was avoided, with seawater pumped to cool the reactors and not a single immediate death from radiation exposure.

But five years on, an area 12 miles around the plant remains a dead zone, abandoned and uninhabited. You can still go there. Anyone can drive on the main road, route 6, which runs through it. Even this is an eerie experience. As well as the traffic signs, route 6 has geiger counters above the carriageway, displaying the radiation readout in the same way that others display roadworks information.

Most of the buildings here are wrecked or empty, too: an entire wall of the Segaworld games arcade has been ripped off, showing all the machines still inside. The side turnings, to get into the hearts of the towns, are blocked and mostly guarded, accessible only with passes (or, as we did, by finding an unguarded one and slipping through.)

At intervals beside the roads, heaped up in huge piles, lie half a million black plastic bags containing radioactive topsoil, scraped off the surface of the land in an effort to persuade farmers to start work here again.

Some of the dead zone will never return to life. Futaba, the closest town to the plant, will probably be turned into a radioactive waste dump. But six months ago, a few miles to the south, the authorities declared that Naraha, another town in the evacuation area, was now safe and everyone should come back.

It was hailed as the first stage in the area’s return to normality. Virtually nobody is buying. Before the disaster, Naraha had a population of 7,000. But for now, poisoned as much by mistrust of the government as by radioactivity, the place remains almost as spectral as Futaba.

“Once it’s dark, there’s only about ten houses with lights on,” said Nawasaki Yoshihiro, who was repairing the tsunami damage at his lovely traditional Japanese home opposite Tatsuma railway station. “You see wild boar running about the streets. I’m fixing this up because my parents kept pestering me not to waste the house. But even we are only here until 6 o’clock.”…….

In the station car park, dozens of commuters’ bikes give an appearance of normality. But look closer, and their chains are rusty, their tyres flat. “They have been there since 2011,” says Mr Yoshihiro. “The owners are probably dead.” Up the street, there are lights in a supermarket, a bright plastic sign above the door. But go up to the door, and you realise the place is some sort of government office, not a supermarket at all. It’s the perfect symbol of this nuclear Potemkin village.

Twenty miles further to the south, in the provincial centre of Iwaki, we find the reason why so few want to return. It’s the twice-yearly “update session” for residents of one of the temporary resettlement camps where much of Naraha’s population – and at least 20,000 other people from the radiation area alone – still live, five years on……….

From the audience, Yoshitaka Matsumoto, a local farmer, is politely angry: “You should fight the government, stop them bullying people,” he tells the mayor. Afterwards, he tells us that contamination of the water is people’s main concern. “The water comes from the taps, but it comes from a reservoir which has radioactive mud at the bottom,” he says. “The people who are back in Naraha now, they buy their drinking water from the shop, but they still have to wash in the tapwater.”…….

Though thousands of workers are now being bussed in to the cleanup effort at the power station, the radioactive fuel rods which melted down are all still there. Even after five years, radiation levels inside the reactor buildings are still too high for workers to enter, making it hard to even plan the task that needs to be done, let alone carry it out.

Around 300 to 400 tons of contaminated water is generated every day as groundwater flows into the plant filled with radioactive debris. To contain the tainted water, TEPCO, the plant’s operator pumps up the water and stores it in tanks, adding a new tank every three to four days.

There are now 1,000 tanks, containing 750,000 tons of contaminated water. “If I may put this in terms of mountain climbing, we’ve just passed the first waystation on a mountain of 10 stations,” said Akira Ono, head of the Fukushima plant, last month. The full cleanup, he admitted, may take as long as 40 years.

Back in Futaba, a banner has been erected protesting against the removal of the “nuclear power, our bright future” sign. “Save the sign, remember our folly,” it says. “Preserve it as a negative legacy.”

In truth, in Japan’s radioactive disaster zone, the reminders of the folly and the memorials of the disaster are everywhere inescapable.


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March 7, 2016 Posted by | Fukushima 2016, Japan, social effects | Leave a comment

Burdened by the failure of AREVA, Electricite De France struggles for survival

French Mastery of Nuclear Power at Stake in U.K. Reactor Project, Bloomberg   March 4, 2016

  • EDF faces dilemma of whether to proceed with $26 billion plant
  • Unions argue for a delay because company’s future is `at risk’
    AREVA EDF crumblingElectricite de France SA, the world’s largest operator of nuclear power plants, is stuck in a multibillion-dollar quandary that will shape its future.

    Going ahead with new EPR atomic plants in the U.K. would strain the limits of its balance sheet as slumping electricity prices across Europe reduce cash flow. Dropping the Hinkley Point venture in southwest England would further damage the image of a new French-designed reactor, already tarnished by delays and cost overruns at projects elsewhere…….
    The EPR reactor design from French nuclear group Areva SA was once a symbol of the nation’s engineering prowess. EDF’s former Chief Executive Officer Pierre Gadonneix predicted it would sell “like hotcakes” around the world. Project setbacks and the safety fears following the Fukushima disaster in Japan in 2011 stymied those plans, while a flood of competing energy supplies from solar and wind has left one of the nation’s most important industries in distress.

  • The two 1,600-megawatt plants at Hinkley Point would cost about 18 billion pounds ($26 billion), with China General Nuclear Power Corp. paying for a third. Standard & Poor’s is threatening to downgrade EDF’s credit rating if the U.K. project, which has been planned for more than eight years, goes ahead……
  • EDF shares, 85 percent of which are owned by the French state, have lost as much as 89 percent of their value since peaking in 2007 and hit a record low on Feb. 25. French year-ahead wholesale electricity prices dropped 60 percent over the same period…….
  • Areva Burden

    Areva has complicated matters for EDF, accumulating 5.5 billion euros of losses on the construction of an EPR in Finland that’s already seven years late. Areva was due to take 10 percent of Hinkley Point, with EDF taking 45 percent to 50 percent and two Chinese partners holding the remaining 40 percent. As Areva’s finances worsened, it withdrew, forcing EDF to raise its stake to 66.5 percent. To make matters worse, EDF was called to rescue Areva by the French government by taking a majority stake in its troubled reactor unit.

    EDF has its own problems with the EPR it’s building in Flamanville. Costs have more than tripled to 10.5 billion euros and construction is now six years behind schedule. The French nuclear watchdog has expressed concerns about the strength of the reactor vessel, forcing EDF and Areva to conduct tests to prove its safety.

    “EDF is vulnerable to events over which it has no control: falling power prices following deregulation, and the balance sheet knock-on impact from Areva’s financial troubles,” said Adam Dickens, an analyst at HSBC Holdings Plc, in a March 1 report.

    The company is borrowing money to pay its dividend and plans to sell assets to finance new developments. It cut annual operational expenditures by 300 million euros, or 1.4 percent, last year and plans to reduce them by a further 700 million euros by 2018. On Feb. 16, it reduced its estimate for how much it will spend to extend the life of its French reactors by 5 billion euros to 50 billion euros.

    “Risks are way too high, ” Francis Raillot, a representative of the CFE-CGC union at EDF, said on Feb. 29. “We want the final investment decision to be delayed. The future of the company is at stake.”

March 7, 2016 Posted by | business and costs, France, politics | Leave a comment

Taiwan rallies – “Say Goodbye to Nuclear Power”

Taiwan-140315Anti-nuclear rallies set for March 12 By Chen Wei-han  /  Staff reporter A number of rallies have been scheduled for March to mark the fifth anniversary of Japan’s Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear disaster and back calls for a speedy phasing out of nuclear power and treatment of radioactive waste, anti-nuclear proponents said yesterday in Taipei.

Members of the National Nuclear Abolition Action Platform gathered on Ketagalan Boulevard in front of the Presidential Office Building, shouting: “Say goodbye to nuclear power. Face up to nuclear waste.”

They told reporters that coordinated protests would be held on March 12 in Taipei, Tainan and Kaohsiung, along with a forum in Taichung, to call on the central government to stop all nuclear development and decommission the nation’s nuclear power plants.

Performances and installation art projects inspired by the Fukushima Dai-ichi disaster would be included in the protests, such as “radiation money” and a giant banner to symbolize the 24,000-year half-life of radioactive waste.

“An earthquake this month leveled a housing complex in Tainan, causing heavy casualties. The Ma-anshan Nuclear Power Plant [in Pingtung County] is located on a fault line, and earthquakes might damage the plant and harm to numerous people,” Citizen of the Earth Foundation Taipei office director Antonio Chou (周東漢) said.

Northern Coast Anti-Nuclear Action Alliance chief executive Kuo Ching-lin (郭慶霖) said this year could be a critical one.

“The anti-nuclear movement reached new heights over the past year with the sealing of the Lungmen Nuclear Power Plant [in New Taipei City’s Gongliao District (貢寮)], while the incoming government has pledged to establish a nuclear-free nation. We must seize the opportunity and continue the movement to speed up the deactivation process,” Kuo said.

Platform members said the two operational nuclear plants in New Taipei City must be decommissioned as soon as their spent fuel pools are full, even if that proves to be earlier than their scheduled decommissionings in 2018 and 2019 respectively, while the mothballed Lungmen plant should be scrapped.

The Democratic Progressive Party has vowed to phase out nuclear power by 2025, and now that the party has a legislative majority, it is time for it to make good on its promise and place the passage of nuclear-free legislation and an energy tax on the top of its legislative agenda, Green Citizens’ Action Alliance secretary-general Tsuei Su-hsin (崔愫欣) said.

However, while political parties have made promises about phasing out nuclear energy, no promise has been made about the nuclear waste issue. We have to make the new legislature and the new government face up to these issues,” Tsuei said.

Yilan Charlie Chen Foundation chairman Chen Hsi-nan (陳錫南) called for the passage of nuclear waste laws, saying the complexity of the issue is the result of the lack of legal regulations and the lack of an independent authority on radioactive waste, which has allowed the Taiwan Power Co to monopolize the management of nuclear waste in the nation.

March 7, 2016 Posted by | ACTION | Leave a comment

This year, France will close Fassenheim, its oldest nuclear power station

France’s oldest nuke plant ‘to close this year’ , The Local 7 Mar 16, France is to close down its oldest nuclear power plant, at the centre of a row with neighbouring Germany and Switzerland, by the end of this year, a green minister said Sunday.

”The timeline is one the president has repeated to me several times, it’s2016,” said Emmanuelle Cosse, who was named to President Francois Hollande’s cabinet last month, referring to the Fassenheim plant.

Cosse was speaking to French media after a row sparked Friday when Germanydemanded that France close down Fassenheim following reports that a 2014 incident there was worse than earlier portrayed……..

On Sunday, Cosse said that to reach its target, the government would have”to close other nuclear plants, other reactors, obviously, over several years.”

Hollande named Cosse, a member of the French Greens Party (EELV), housingminister as part of a reshuffle seen as a bid to broaden his appeal ahead of a re-election bid next year.

March 7, 2016 Posted by | France, politics | Leave a comment

Tokyo came close to nuclear catastrophe – former Japan PM Kan

n-kan-a-20160129-870x621Fukushima: Tokyo was on the brink of nuclear catastrophe, admits former prime minister, Telegraph UK, 6 Mar 16  Five years on from the tsunami, the former Japanese prime minister says the country came within a “paper-thin margin” of a nuclear disaster By , Tokyo Japan’s prime minister at the time of the 2011 earthquake and tsunami has revealed that the country came within a “paper-thin margin” of a nuclear disaster requiring the evacuation of 50 million people.

In an interview with The Telegraph to mark the fifth anniversary of the tragedy, Naoto Kan described the panic and disarray at the highest levels of the Japanese government as it fought to control multiple meltdowns at thecrippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power station.

He said he considered evacuating the capital, Tokyo, along with all other areas within 160 miles of the plant, and declaring martial law. “The future existence of Japan as a whole was at stake,” he said. “Something on that scale, an evacuation of 50 million, it would have been like a losing a huge war.”

Mr Kan admitted he was frightened and said he got “no clear information” out of Tepco, the plant’s operator. He was “very shocked” by the performance of Nobuaki Terasaka, his own government’s key nuclear safety adviser. “We questioned him and he was unable to give clear responses,” he said.

“We asked him – do you know anything about nuclear issues? And he said no, I majored in economics.”

Mr Terasaka, the director of the Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency, was later sacked. Another member of Mr Kan’s crisis working group, the then Tepco chairman, Tsunehisa Katsumata, was last week indicted on charges of criminal negligence for his role in the disaster……….

Dramatic CCTV footage from the plant, released in 2012, showed a skeleton staff – the so-called “Fukushima 50” – struggling to read emergency manuals by torchlight and battling with contradictory, confusing instructions from their superiors at Tepco. At one stage, an appeal went out for workers to bring batteries from their cars so they could be hooked up to provide power for the crippled cooling systems.

Total disaster was averted when seawater was pumped into the reactors, but the plant manager, Masao Yoshida, later said he considered committing hara-kiri, ritual suicide, in despair at the situation…….

[Mr Kan] – “I knew that even based on what little we were hearing, there was a real possibility this could be bigger than Chernobyl. That was a terrible disaster, but there was only one reactor there. There were six here.”

Although the Fukushima disaster caused no immediate deaths from radiation, it did force the evacuation of almost 400,000 people, most of whom have still been unable to return to their homes. Hundreds of thousands more fled in panic and much of Fukushima province ceased functioning.

An area within 20km (12.5 miles) of the plant remains an exclusion zone, with no-one allowed to live there. Some studies have identified a higher incidence of child cancer in the wider region.

Mr Kan said that the nuclear accident is “still going on” today. He said: “In reactors 2 and 3, the radioactive fuel rods are still there and small amounts of [radioactive] water are leaking out of the reactor every day, despite what Tepco says.”

He said the experience had turned him from a supporter of nuclear power into a convinced opponent. “I have changed my views 180 degrees. You have to look at the balance between the risks and the benefits,” he said. “One reactor meltdown could destroy the whole plant and, however unlikely, that is too great a risk.”……..

He criticised his successor as prime minister, Shinzo Abe, for restarting some of the country’s nuclear power stations, all of which were shut down after the crisis, saying that Japan had “not learned the lessons enough” and was “closing its eyes” to the risk of a second disaster. He has joined protest demonstrations against the plant reopenings.

“There is a clear conflict between government policy and the wishes of the public,” he said. “Additional protective measures against tsunamis have been taken, such as raising the protective walls, but I don’t think they go far enough. We shouldn’t be building nuclear power plants in areas where there is a population to be affected. After the tsunami, Japan went without nuclear power for years, so it can be done.”……..

March 7, 2016 Posted by | Japan, safety | Leave a comment