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Japan Diary 2016, Fukushima+5, Part 5. We Are All Hibakusha: Fission Never Results in Peaceful Atoms!

GreenWorld

A Japanese court this week ordered the shutdown of two reactors at Takahama, leaving Japan with only two reactors (at Sendai) currently operating five years after the onset of the Fukushima disaster. A Japanese court this week ordered the shutdown of two reactors at Takahama, leaving Japan with only two reactors (at Sendai) currently operating five years after the onset of the Fukushima disaster.

“All my life I have tried to find the truth, and make it beautiful.” – Sting

It never ceases to amaze me how many wonderful people I meet in this work. Every stop on this tour is populated by exceptional hearts and minds. It reminds me of a woman I met during the years working to stop the US Department of Energy from selectively targeting Native Lands for nuclear waste. (Okay; the 1990’s round of that!) We were at an event at the Mole Lake Indian Reservation in Wisconsin. She was from the Western Shoshone Nation, home of the proposed Yucca Mountain Dump. She said she was “new” to nuclear issues. Welcoming her, I said, “this is a…

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March 10, 2016 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Proposed Dumping of 200 tonnes of German Nuclear Waste on America – Did the US Mislead People on the Amount? Hidden in Plain Sight? “Jein”, as Germans Say – Oppose Dumping of 200 tonnes German Nuclear Waste by 11.59 pm Eastern Friday

Mining Awareness +

Obama Brandenburg Gate 2013
Obama Germany 2013
Why was Obama always more wildly popular in Germany than in America?
So, did the US mislead everyone about the amount of German Nuclear waste that they want to import to dump, and probably bury, in America? As Germans would say “Jein” – yes and no. While the document leads one to believe that it is “only” one tonne, rather than 200, the truth lies in the DOE text – kinda, sorta – if one knows how to look. Supposedly, US HEU comprised 1 gram of the 200 gram nuclear fuel balls for Pebble Bed reactors. However, there is sound reason to suspect that even this is not US origin, but rather German, Dutch, or British.
Rad Waste Barrels WCS Texas
A probable final destination of German nuclear waste, according to the US DOE, is WCS in West Texas. While it is concrete lined, the concrete will crack due to wet-dry expansion and contraction of…

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March 10, 2016 Posted by | Uncategorized | 1 Comment

March 10 Energy News

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Science and Technology:

¶ Estimates from the Oxford Martin Future of Food Program published in The Lancet say changes in diets and bodyweight from reduced crop productivity could kill more than 500,000 adults in 2050. Reduced fruit and vegetable intake could cause twice as many deaths as under-nutrition. [CleanTechnica]

‘What do I water next…’ by Dennis Jarvis, via Flickr ‘What do I water next…’ by Dennis Jarvis, via Flickr

World:

¶ SkyPower and Sachigo Lake First Nation have collaborated to develop a multitude of utility-scale solar photovoltaic projects in Ontario. The partnership is in line with the Ontario Ministry of Energy’s mandate to involve First Nation and Métis communities in new projects. [Power Technology]

¶ The International Renewable Energy Agency says 45% of China’s power plants rely on fresh water and are located in areas of high water stress. Scaling up renewable energy and introducing improved plant cooling technologies can reduce water-intensity by up to 42%…

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March 9 Energy News

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World:

¶ Scotrenewables is trying out a turbine that looks like a yellow submarine. The 35-meter-long device was built at the Harland and Wolff shipyards in Belfast, best known as the birthplace of the ill-fated Titanic. The device is considered to be unlikely to have effects on sea life. [Deutsche Welle]

Scotrenewables turbine Scotrenewables turbine

¶ Until recently, virtually the only choice available to developers looking to build under the Australian government’s renewable energy target was wind energy. That is now changing. Within a year or two, large-scale solar farms may be able to compete with wind energy on costs. [CleanTechnica]

¶ A new 767-kW solar power project was recently completed in the Pacific nation of Vanuatu, marking the latest undertaking performed by the United Arab Emirates-Pacific Partnership Fund. The fund is a $50 million initiative managed by Masdar, Abu Dhabi’s renewable energy company. [PV-Tech]

The Vanuatu project will help displace 896 tonnes of CO2 emissions. Image: Masdar The…

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March 10, 2016 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

“Simple country folk” become Australia’s anti nuclear waste dump activists

Nuclear Australia

heartland-2
Nuclear dump site journey continues “http://www.westernadvocate.com.au/story/3777432/finish-lines-in-sight-for-hill-end-eco-warriors/
By LOUISE EDDY March 9, 2016,  The past three months have seen three unlikely environmental advocates embark on a journey that has taken them all the way to Canberra and the halls of power.
Sallys Flat sheep farmers Robyn and Geoff Rayner were joined by Turondale mum and student Jodie Carter in taking on the Federal Government after a Hill End property was shortlisted for a proposed national radioactive waste facility. All three say they could never have imagined how much their lives would change during the 120-day public consultation process which ends on Friday.
They learned through a process of trial and error how to become environmental advocates. They sacrificed, they discovered strength they didn’t know they had and they made heartfelt connections with people all over Australia. For the past three months their day-to-day lives have been put on hold with…

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March 10, 2016 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Crescent Dunes Concentrating Solar Plant Begins Producing Electricity

Mining Awareness +

From the US Energy Info Administration:
Crescent Dunes concentrating solar plant begins producing electricity
MARCH 3, 2016
Crescent Dunes Solar
Crescent Dunes Solar Energy, a 110 megawatt (MW) concentrating solar power (CSP) electricity plant, began full operation in February, according to its press release. Crescent Dunes uses an energy storage system that developers expect will be able to store enough thermal energy to generate electricity for up to 10 hours after sunset or on cloudy days when direct sunlight is unavailable.

Through December 2015, CSP made up 8% of total U.S. solar electric generating capacity, while utility-scale solar photovoltaic (PV) made up 53%, and distributed solar PV made up 38%. Solar thermal electricity power plants differ from PV technology, which uses solar cells to convert direct and diffuse sunlight directly into electricity. Solar thermal plants rely on direct sunlight to focus the sun’s heat energy onto collectors. Most of the earlier utility-scale CSP…

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March 10, 2016 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

So much for value for money

daryanenergyblog

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One has to despair sometimes at the ineptitude of politicians and their inability to listen to others. I was reading today the letters page of my Engineers journal and one of the contributors was telling about how back in 1987 he tried to explain to his MP the flaws in Tory plans to privatise the UK energy industry. That MP was none other than John Major, who could not grasp the concept that a private company will not invest in a new power station unless they have a strong financial incentive to do so, i.e. privatisation will lead to either higher bills or no new powers stations, or perhaps both. But of course John Major knew better didn’t he, why privatisation always leads to lower bills….doesn’t it!…oh wait no they’ve gone up massively!

And fast forward to our time. Amber Rudd/Osborne (depending on who you consider to…

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March 10, 2016 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

March 8 Energy News

geoharvey

Opinion:

The Block Island Offshore Wind Project is Just the Beginning • Offshore wind and Block Island are a match made a heaven. But the island isn’t so unique. Many of the circumstances that make offshore wind so perfect for Block Island are also true up and down the Atlantic Coast. [Huffington Post]

Offshore wind farm. Photo: Stanford University Offshore wind farm. Photo: Stanford University

Science and Technology:

¶ A joint research team from Los Alamos National Laboratory and the University of Milano-Bicocca in Italy has a fresh approach to solar power. Working with quantum dots, the team achieved a breakthrough in solar-concentrating technology that can turn windows into electric generators. [Energy.gov]

World:

¶ A report tracks the technological advances and innovative business models which have emerged to transform the lives of millions through affordable modern solar energy services. It shows that the off-grid solar industry is benefiting from a wave…

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March 10, 2016 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Social workers visit temporary housing in Motomiya, Fukushima Prefecture, to interview disaster victims in December.

By Mari Yamaguchi

The ashes of half a dozen unidentified laborers ended up at a Buddhist temple in this town just north of the crippled Fukushima nuclear plant. Some of the dead men had no papers, others left no emergency contacts. Their names could not be confirmed and no family members had been tracked down to claim their remains.

They were simply labeled “decontamination troops” — unknown soldiers in Japan’s massive cleanup campaign to make Fukushima livable again five years after radiation poisoned the fertile countryside.

The men were among the 26,000 workers — many in their 50s and 60s from the margins of society with no special skills or close family ties — tasked with removing the contaminated topsoil and stuffing it into tens of thousands of black bags lining the fields and roads. They wipe off roofs, clean out gutters and chop down trees in a seemingly endless routine.

Coming from across Japan to do a dirty, risky and undesirable job, the workers make up the very bottom of the nation’s murky, caste-like subcontractor system long criticized for labor violations. Vulnerable to exploitation and shunned by local residents, they typically work on three-to-six-month contracts with little or no benefits, living in makeshift company barracks. And the government is not even making sure that their radiation levels are individually tested.

“They’re cleaning up radiation in Fukushima, doing sometimes unsafe work, and yet they can’t be proud of what they do or even considered legitimate workers,” said Mitsuo Nakamura, a former day laborer who now heads a citizens’ group supporting decontamination laborers. “They are exploited by the vested interests that have grown in the massive project.”

Residents of still partly deserted towns such as Minamisoma, where 8,000 laborers are based, worry that neighborhoods have turned into workers’ ghettos with deteriorating safety. Police data shows arrests among laborers since 2011 have climbed steadily from just one to 210 last year, including a dozen yakuza, or gangsters, police official Katsuhiko Ishida told a prefectural assembly. Residents are spooked by rumors that some laborers sport tattoos linked with yakuza, and by reports that a suspect in serial killings arrested in Osaka last year had worked in the area.

“Their massive presence has simply intimidated residents,” said Mayor Katsunobu Sakurai. “Frankly, the residents need their help but don’t want any trouble.”

Most of the men work for small subcontractors that are many layers beneath the few giants at the top of the construction food chain. Major projects such as this one are divided up among contractors, which then subcontract jobs to smaller outfits, some of which have dubious records.

The Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare examined more than 300 companies doing Fukushima decontamination work and found that nearly 70 committed violations in the first half of last year, including underpayment of wages and overtime and failure to do compulsory radiation checks. Those companies were randomly chosen among thousands believed to be working in the area.

“Violations are so widespread in this multilayer subcontract system. It’s like a whack-a-mole situation,” said Mitsuaki Karino, a city assemblyman in Iwaki, a Fukushima city where his civil group has helped workers with complaints about employers.

Karino said workers are sometimes charged for meals or housing they were told would be free, he said, and if they lose jobs or contracts aren’t renewed, some go homeless.

“It’s a serious concern, particularly for workers who don’t have families or lost ties with them,” he said.

Government officials say they see no other way than to depend on the contracting system to clean up the radiated zone, a project whose ballooning cost is now estimated at 5 trillion yen ($44 billion).

“That’s how the construction industry has long operated. In order to accomplish decontamination, we need to rely on the practice,” said Tadashi Mouri, a health and labor ministry official in charge of nuclear workers’ health. He said the ministry has instructed top contractors to improve oversight of subcontractors.

Several arrests have been made in recent months over alleged labor violations.

A complaint filed by a worker with labor officials led to the October arrest of a construction company president who had allegedly dispatched workers to Fukushima under misleading circumstances. The investigation found that the worker had been offered pay of 17,000 yen ($150) per day, but after middlemen took a cut he was getting only 8,000 yen ($70).

In another case, a supervisor and a crane operator were arrested in July for alleged illegal dumping of radiated plant debris in Minamisoma. Five companies heading the project were suspended for six weeks.

Most workers keep their mouths shut for fear of losing their jobs. One laborer in a gray jacket and baggy pants, carrying cans of beer on his way home, said he was instructed never to talk to reporters.

A 62-year-old seasonal worker, Munenori Kagaya, said he had trouble finding jobs after he and his fellow workers fought for and won unpaid daily “danger” allowance of 10,000 yen ($88) for work in Tamura city in 2012.

Officials keep close tabs on journalists. Minutes after chatting with some workers in Minamisoma, Associated Press journalists received a call from a city official warning them not to talk to decontamination crews.

Beyond the work’s arduous nature, the men also face radiation exposure risks. Inhaling radioactive particles could trigger lung cancer, said Junji Kato, a doctor who provides health checks for some workers.

Although most laborers working in residential areas use protective gear properly, others in remote areas are not monitored closely, according to workers and Nakamura, the leader of the radiation workers support group. Many are not given compulsory training or education about dealing with radiation, he said.

Though group leaders’ radiation exposure levels are regularly checked, decontamination workers’ individual levels have not been systematically recorded. The government introduced a system in 2013 but only for a fee, and many lower subcontractor workers are likely not covered. Even non-alarmist experts say that workers doses must be kept individually for their own records as well as for studies of low-dose radiation impact.

Mouri, the government official, said decontamination workers’ average annual dose fell to 0.7 millisievert last year, a fraction of the 20-millisievert annual limit for those working at the nuclear plant, and is not a concern.

Though no radiation-induced illness has been detected, workers have developed diabetes, cerebral and respiratory problems, often long untreated due to lack of money, awareness and social ties, local hospital intern Toyoaki Sawano said in a medical magazine last month.

Having trouble making ends meet, a growing number of laborers are seeking welfare assistance, local authorities say. The officials worry that they may end up staying on, like construction laborers did in Osaka and Tokyo after the 1960s building boom, forming Japan’s poorest ghettos.

Police and volunteers have started neighborhood patrols amid concerns about safety. Some big construction companies have taken steps to address concerns. Hazama Ando Corp. imposed an 11 p.m. curfew on workers.

Residents say they avoid convenience stores in the evenings, when many laborers stop by after work to buy snacks, bento boxes or beer on their way home. Some of them used to discard their contaminated gloves and masks in garbage bins there, triggering complaints from the neighborhood and prompting the government to launch a “manner” campaign in December.

At a convenience store in Minamisoma on a recent evening, workers came in waves, waiting quietly in line to pay for food and other items.

“The workers face heartless rumors as if they are all reckless outlaws. They are the same human beings. Like anywhere, there are good guys and bad guys,” said Nakamura, the support group leader.

One resident grateful for the workers is Hideaki Kinoshita, a Buddhist monk who keeps the unidentified laborers’ ashes at his temple, in wooden boxes and wrapped in white cloth.

“We owe a lot to those who clean this town, doing the work that locals don’t even want to,” he said.

Minamisoma city official Tomoyuki Ohwada said the worker population should decline next year, when intensive decontamination efforts are scheduled to end. But Kinoshita believes many will still be needed, given the amount of work left to do.

“There is no end to this job,” Kinoshita said. “Five years from now, the workers will still be around. And more unclaimed ashes may end up here.”

http://abcnews.go.com/International/wireStory/fukushima-clean-workers-bottom-contractor-system-37539162

March 10, 2016 Posted by | Fukushima 2016 | , , | 2 Comments

FIVE YEARS AFTER: 1 in 3 Fukushima evacuees giving up hope of ever returning home

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Social workers visit temporary housing in Motomiya, Fukushima Prefecture, to interview disaster victims in December.

More than one in three evacuees from the Fukushima nuclear disaster despair of ever returning home, a finding that points to a growing sense of hopelessness five years after the crisis unfolded.

This stark reality emerged in a survey carried out by The Asahi Shimbun and a research team headed by Akira Imai, a professor of local government policy at Fukushima University.

“There are so many people (outside Fukushima) today who are not aware that many people are still forced to live as evacuees,” a 34-year-old woman responded in the survey questionnaire. “No matter how we try to explain our plight, they seem unable to understand, and we feel saddened to realize that people tend to think we live outside our hometowns out of our own choice.”

Many respondents also wrote they were troubled by a perceived envy from other residents in their new communities over the compensation they receive from Tokyo Electric Power Co., the operator of the crippled Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant.

In the survey, of those who remain evacuated, 22 percent said they think they can return to their old homes within five years, 17 percent believe they can return home within 10 years and 9 percent said it might take up to 20 years.

Fourteen percent said it will take 21 years or longer to return home, while the remaining 38 percent said they believed they would never be able to return permanently.

As of March 9, the number of Fukushima residents living as evacuees within Fukushima Prefecture stood at 54,175. On Feb. 12, prefectural authorities reported that 43,149 evacuees were living outside the prefecture.

It was the fifth such survey by The Asahi Shimbun and Imai’s research team and was undertaken to mark the fifth anniversary of the nuclear accident, triggered by the Great East Japan Earthquake and tsunami, on March 11.

Questionnaires were sent to 398 evacuees who had responded to previous polls. Of the 225 respondents in Tokyo and 20 prefectures, 36, or 16 percent, said they had returned to their old homes.

Among those who remain evacuated, 65 people currently live in temporary housing for disaster victims, followed by 52 who have settled in homes they newly purchased.

Forty-one percent of those who remain evacuated said they want to eventually return to their old homes when their hometowns become safe, while 25 percent said they no longer want to return because it is unlikely the areas will ever be safe again.

The survey showed that evacuees are increasingly losing the will to hold on in their current plight, with only 32 percent of respondents saying they are determined to hold on, down from 55 percent in the previous survey in 2013.

Eighteen percent said they are losing the will to hold on. The same percentage said they are tormented by simmering anger. Both figures were up from the previous survey.

http://ajw.asahi.com/article/0311disaster/fukushima/AJ201603100059

March 10, 2016 Posted by | Fukushima 2016 | , , | 3 Comments

FIVE YEARS AFTER: Local Fukushima disaster evacuation plans ignore central government instructions

“The central government’s guidelines are simply a desk theory,” said a local government official in Ibaraki Prefecture. “The harder you work on your evacuation plan, the more unrealistic it gets.”

Although the town of Namie is still evacuated five years after the Fukushima nuclear disaster, local officials are already at odds with the central government over evacuation plans for any similar crisis.

In its draft emergency plan, the town in Fukushima Prefecture decrees that residents can flee in a future accident even if radiation levels are below those warranting evacuation as dictated by the central government.

The draft was drawn up based on the lesson the disaster-hit town learned from the chaos that erupted in the wake of the triple meltdown at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant in 2011.

Although local governments are legally entitled to issue an order independently, the central government is not happy about Namie’s plan. Minami-Soma, the city adjacent to Namie, takes a similar approach in the evacuation plan it crafted in 2013.

The secretariat of the Nuclear Regulation Authority would not give a nod to the plans by Namie and Minami-Soma, saying such actions could compromise the evacuation of people facing imminent danger.

“In the Fukushima accident, more damage was done partly because people who were not in need of evacuation raced to flee,” said an official with the secretariat’s Emergency Preparedness/ Response and Nuclear Security Division. “The central government’s guidelines are designed to minimize radiation exposure risks.”

All the roads around Namie, located to the northwest of the crippled plant, were clogged with vehicles desperately trying to flee, hampering evacuation. Shelters were so packed that they could not accommodate all who rushed to them.

Namie Mayor Tamotsu Baba said the town, with a population of 18,700, has a responsibility to ensure smooth evacuation of residents by issuing an order on its own, instead of adhering to the central government’s guidelines formulated after the Fukushima accident.

“It is not easy to evacuate in an orderly fashion,” said Baba. “A panic will very likely occur if an accident comparable to the Fukushima nuclear disaster takes place.”

In the wake of the Fukushima disaster, the central government obliged 135 municipalities situated within a 30-kilometer radius of a nuclear facility to formulate evacuation plans under its new guidelines for responding to a nuclear disaster.

The guidelines call for the immediate evacuation of residents living within a 5-km radius of the site of a severe accident.

Residents within a 5- to 30-km zone, such as Namie and Minami-Soma, which are within 30 km of both the Fukushima No. 1 and No. 2 nuclear plants, are urged to stay indoors. They would be asked to evacuate within a few hours of radiation levels reaching 500 microsieverts an hour.

However, that is such a high radiation level that no municipalities more than 5 km from the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant experienced in the 2011 crisis, according to the NRA’s secretariat.

The guidelines also state that residents must evacuate within a week if radiation measuring 20 microsieverts an hour continues for at least 24 hours. These steps are recommended based on the idea that it would do more damage to the elderly to evacuate than to stay indoors. The guidelines are also aimed at preventing traffic gridlock so that residents living near a crippled facility can promptly flee to safety.

A serious situation could unfold again in Fukushima Prefecture if work to cool spent nuclear fuel rods were rendered impossible by a natural disaster or terror attack at the plants.

Before the Fukushima disaster, Namie was not asked by the central government to have an evacuation plan in place, just like the rest of the municipal governments beyond the 5-km range from a nuclear facility.

An evacuation order from either the central government or Tokyo Electric Power Co., which operates the embattled plant, failed to reach Namie due to the escalating chaos following the nuclear crisis in 2011. So the town government was forced to act alone to evacuate its residents.

Namie officials believe that even if people are only asked to flee within a week after a reading of radiation hit 20 microsieverts an hour under the new guidelines, some will choose anyway to evacuate immediately.

The officials said they would rather ensure smooth evacuation of local residents by acting independently of the central government.

In the case of Minami-Soma, residents were ordered to stay indoors due to the risk of radiation exposure at the time of the Fukushima accident.

But 55,000 of a total of 70,000 people evacuated voluntarily in the face of the scarcity of food in the city after the distribution network was jeopardized.

The NRA secretariat acknowledges that it will have to address the issue of how to distribute food and other relief aid to areas where people are asked to remain indoors as radiation levels rise.

Of the 135 municipalities, only 95 cities, towns and villages came up with evacuation plans.

But some in the prefectures of Ibaraki and Shizuoka are still void of their response measures since they have been unable to find shelters to accommodate all of the would-be evacuees.

The overall population in the 30-km zone in the two prefectures is nearly 1 million each, making the task formidable.

“The central government’s guidelines are simply a desk theory,” said a local government official in Ibaraki Prefecture. “The harder you work on your evacuation plan, the more unrealistic it gets.”

http://ajw.asahi.com/article/0311disaster/fukushima/AJ201603100018

March 10, 2016 Posted by | Fukushima 2016 | , | 2 Comments

INTERVIEW/ Kazuya Tarukawa: Reality of Fukushima is unrecoverable, uncompensable

 

Kazuya Tarukawa at Sukagawa Fukushima.jpg

Farmer Kazuya Tarukawa at his greenhouse in Sukagawa, Fukushima Prefecture

Kazuya Tarukawa, a farmer in Sukagawa, Fukushima Prefecture, found himself in the media spotlight after his father committed suicide in the early stages of the disaster at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant.

In a recent interview with The Asahi Shimbun, Tarukawa recounted how his gratifying life as a farmer drastically changed on March 11, 2011.

He also shared his thoughts on the compensation system, rumors about Fukushima products, and how Tokyo Electric Power Co. sent him a fax instead of a direct apology for his father’s death.

Excerpts of the interview follow:

* * *

Question: What are things like five years after the disaster started?

Tarukawa: Radioactive materials fell on this central strip of Fukushima Prefecture, too. Rice paddies, farm fields and plastic greenhouses were all ruined, so our “workplaces” were contaminated. But Tokyo Electric Power Co., operator of the crippled nuclear plant, has not compensated us for lost assets or removed the radioactive substances.

Five years have passed, and that’s it. We have only sustained damage and suffering. I keep asking myself, “Why do we have to go through all this?”

We did receive 80,000 yen ($706) in the first year of the disaster and 40,000 yen in the second year for psychological suffering, but that was all. The thinking behind the payments was probably like, “Here’s 120,000 yen, so keep your mouth shut and wait for the radiation levels to go down on their own.”

How can that make up for the damage we sustained?

Q: I have been told that your father was dedicated to organic farming of vegetables. Could you elaborate?

A: He cared a lot about the environment. He began growing winter cabbage because you never get worms, even without a single disinfection, in winter. The cabbage grows under the snow and develops quite a sweet taste. All local schools were using our cabbage in their school lunches.

He was so happy to be feeding children with something really safe and tasty. He was once invited by school officials to give a talk about food education. He was proud of things like that.

He hanged himself on the morning the day after the central government told him to stop shipping his vegetables. Around 7,500 pre-harvest cabbages were ruined. His farmland was contaminated. His heart was probably heavy while he was wondering how he would get on with his life.

Q: You reached a settlement in the case through the intermediary of the Nuclear Damage Compensation Dispute Resolution Center, whereby TEPCO acknowledged a causal relation with the disaster. Could you elaborate on that?

A: I took the case to the center because I wanted to avenge my father so he would not die in vain. I finally won the settlement and received damages. I thought that TEPCO people would finally come to my place to offer incense and apologize. But that never happened. I got a fax instead.

Q: How is the cleanup work going?

A: Our rice paddies were cleaned up. The ground was plowed to about 40 centimeters using a big tractor, sprinkled with zeolite and then plowed again. We were told that the zeolite will absorb radioactive substances in the soil, and that’s the cleanup thing.

But it doesn’t make sense. Rice may stop pulling up radioactive materials, but the absolute amount in the soil remains the same.

We are toiling every day from morning until evening on contaminated soil. We are filled with anxiety about what will become of us in the future, and whether we might suffer the impact someday.

When we were negotiating with the central government, I repeatedly asked farm ministry officials on the podium: “Do you know the first kanji in the Japanese word for ‘cleanup?’ (The kanji means “remove.”) You are just stirring things up. How can that amount to a ‘cleanup?’”

Everyone then cast their eyes low at their documents. They must have thought I was right.

Q: Isn’t there a way to strip away the contaminated surface soil?

A: We would be luckier if only there was a way to strip it off in thin slices. But in the month after the disaster started, the prefectural government gave us directions, saying it was OK to plow the ground. I didn’t quite believe in that stuff, but everybody did plow the ground.

We shouldn’t have done the plowing thing back then. They could have told us to stop growing crops for a year, and you will be compensated for that. That was a big moment when the sides parted.

It’s easy to strip off soil with a machine. But if you remove 40 cm of soil, you wouldn’t get decent crops. It takes tens of years to make just 1 cm of fine, fluffy soil.

I stick to what I am doing because I don’t want to let my rice paddies go to ruin during my time, the time of the eighth generation.

The paddies would quickly go to ruin if you didn’t do anything about them and just let them lie around. That would also cause trouble with your neighbors. Come to think of it, if you didn’t grow anything, you also wouldn’t be getting compensation money, and you would be left without income. You couldn’t maintain your living.

Q: What compensation are you getting for the farm products you grow?

A: We are only being compensated for crops with records of sale and proof that we suffered damage. For example, if you sold something at 2,000 yen before the disaster but now are making only 1,500 yen from it, TEPCO will compensate you for the difference.

But we have not been compensated for cucumbers for the past two years because their prices soared due to the unseasonable weather. People are saying stuff like, “We are not paying you because you are selling them at higher prices than you did before the disaster.”

It’s funny, huh? We would be making more money if it were not for the disaster. We are getting less than in other prefectures. You know, TEPCO is loath to shell out money.

And there are so many things that we have no way to seek damages for. Things that will never be with us again. We used to grow shiitake mushrooms at our homestead every year for consumption. Butterbur sprouts and Japanese angelica tree shoots from the mountains–they have all been spoiled. But we are getting nothing for that.

Q: What about the impact of negative publicity?

A: The 2011 harvest of rice from our paddies measured up to 30 becquerels or so in radioactive content. That was a safe enough level because the regulation standard was 500 becquerels (per kilogram; 100 becquerels from fiscal 2012) or less. But it’s something that you are putting in your mouth, after all.

Frankly, I didn’t want to eat it myself. Well, I did eat it because I couldn’t have gone shopping elsewhere.

But I do have a sense of guilt about making shipments. So I know very well why Tokyoites don’t feel like eating things from Fukushima. Who would want to buy stuff to eat from a place with such a stupid old nuclear plant?

It’s not about “negative publicity.” You suffer from “negative publicity” when your sales have dropped because groundless rumors have spread. But our case is not like that. Everything is well-grounded. The radioactive materials actually fell.

Q: Do they still continue to be detected?

A: No radioactive materials were detected in rice last year and the year before last. In fact, we have done everything we can. We are spraying potassium chloride, which suppresses the absorption of radioactive substances, every year.

All bags of rice are being screened, and when you get measurement figures, you are not allowed to ship them. I believe that rice from Fukushima is now much safer than rice from other prefectures.

And our rice is selling well, in fact, in the restaurant industry and in hospitals because you may never know that the product is from Fukushima Prefecture. You may not see a lot on the surface, but vast quantities are on the move. Because Fukushima rice tastes good. It’s sticky and sweet. So restaurant industry people seem to be happy because they can buy tasty rice at cheap prices.

Q: What about vegetables?

A: Greenhouses were under plastic covers at the time of the disaster, so the soil in there was never contaminated. I decided to grow everything in greenhouses, so I have almost stopped growing things outdoors, including cabbage, because I don’t want to see measurement figures in my crops again.

I am now growing broccoli, but the prices are so cheap, beaten down. Urbanites don’t bother to differentiate between broccoli grown in greenhouses and those grown in open fields as long as they are from Fukushima Prefecture.

Q: Nuclear reactors are being brought back online these days. Your thoughts?

A: Japan remained free of nuclear power for some time. But look, was there any part of Japan where everything was pitch-dark at night during that time? We certainly had enough electricity.

We may have paid more for crude oil, and nuclear power may be cheaper in fuel costs. But think about it: How much do you have to pay to clean up after a disaster when one happens? It’s really a burden. What would become of this country if another nuclear plant were to fail somewhere? You could raise taxes, but would that be the end of it?

Q: With whom do you want to share your feelings now?

A: I could be better off if I didn’t raise my voice and kept silent. But I am somebody in the media spotlight because of my father. There are hosts of other farmers who feel like I do, that something is wrong. It’s not in my power, after all, to hold my voice about such feelings. Doing that is dishonest.

That’s why I decided to appear in the movie (“Daichi wo Uketsugu” (Taking over Mother Earth), a 2015 documentary directed by Junichi Inoue). I particularly want farmers in areas hosting nuclear plants to watch this film. I want them to know what will happen when there is a disaster.

My father used to say: “Human-made things will certainly fail someday. Nothing can stand the forces of nature.” And things have turned out exactly like that. And after five years, nobody has taken responsibility.

* * *

Born in 1975, Kazuya Tarukawa worked for a company in Iwaki, Fukushima Prefecture, after graduating from a university. He returned to his family home in Sukagawa, 65 kilometers from the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant, 10 years ago to engage in farming.

http://ajw.asahi.com/article/views/opinion/AJ201603100016

March 10, 2016 Posted by | Fukushima 2016 | , , , , | 2 Comments

Daily grind of decommissioning continues for workers at Fukushima plant

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FUKUSHIMA – Five years after the March 2011 nuclear calamity started at the Fukushima No. 1 power plant, Tokyo Electric Power Co.’s efforts to contain the radioactive water at the site still makes headlines.

But not much is known about the daily lives and operations of some 7,000 workers at the plant engaged in decommissioning and other tasks.

To offer a glimpse of the workplace, Kyodo News followed Yasuki Hibi, 52, who heads major contractor Kajima Corp.’s civil engineering office at the wrecked plant, for a day last month. His office takes on a number of projects, including processing contaminated water and highly radioactive rubble.

“I feel that time has stopped here since that day,” said Hibi. “By taking part in the decommissioning work, I hope to let time flow again. Some of the workers were brought up in the local area, doing their best despite the circumstances.”

Hibi leaves his apartment in Iwaki, Fukushima Prefecture, about 50 km south of the complex, just before 8 a.m., dropping by at Kajima’s Iwaki office to check paperwork before traveling to another office in the town of Tomioka and then the nuclear plant. His wife and son live in Tokyo.

Kajima’s office at the plant is located in a building by the main gate. The building serves as a resting place for workers at the complex and houses offices for other firms engaged in decommissioning work.

Around 100 workers a day, including from affiliated companies, come and go at the Kajima office. The contractor is in charge of building sea walls near the plant aimed at prevent radiation-contaminated water from spilling into the ocean, as well as transporting highly radioactive soil to designated sites.

Hibi was posted to Kajima’s Fukushima plant office in January 2011, two months before the earthquake and tsunami struck. At the time, his job was to reinforce the earthquake resistance of reactors 5 and 6, which survived the disaster.

But after March 11, 2011, Kajima’s mission was focused on removing vehicles scattered by the tsunami and building a temporary sea wall, he said.

“Of Kajima’s civil engineering sections, the office at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant is unique,” Hibi said. “The radiation level in the air has dropped significantly, but there still are many hot spots around the reactor buildings.”

When Hibi arrives at the office, he makes sure the day’s work is in progress as scheduled. Some 20 workers on the early shift are already working at the complex by then.

Lunchtime is one of the few occasions where workers can relax.

The building’s eatery offers five different menu items, ranging from set meals to rice bowl dishes and noodles, and they are served at ¥380 with extra-large helpings for free. The food is cooked at a kitchen about 9 km away and carried there warm. Before the eatery opened, workers had to buy boxed lunches at convenience stores.

A large portion of Hibi’s work focuses on ensuring workers’ safety.

“Many other firms are involved and there are many cases in which workers need to work in small areas,” Hibi said. “I pay attention so that we won’t cause accidents.”

When he holds a meeting with staff who oversee the work site, Hibi asks detailed questions to avoid possible problems.

“Has there been anything wrong with the equipment recently?” Hibi asks the workers. “Is there any frost on the pipes?”

At noon, about 20 workers on the noon shift gather in the office, sitting in a circle for a meeting with Hibi. Afterward, they stand and together say: “Be safe!”

The workers change into disposable protective gear, including two thin rubber gloves on top of cotton ones. Adhesive tape is used to seal the gloves to the protective clothing so radiation won’t seep in.

Names and affiliations are written on the back and front of the protective gear in big, bold letters to clarify who’s who.

Workers appear used to the drill they have conducted for the past five years. One notable change is the half-face mask covering their mouth and nose, replacing a full-face mask used early on.

After seeing them off, Hibi also heads to the No. 1 reactor building, where workers are preparing to pour a bulking agent into an underground trench.

The radiation level is relatively high in this area, recording around 170 microsieverts per hour. A commercial flight between Tokyo and New York exposes passengers to about 10 microsieverts per hour. About 10 workers wear black vests made of tungsten over their protective gear. The vests reportedly reduce the radiation exposure to internal organs by 30 percent.

“Make sure that you are properly equipped to prevent a fall,” Hibi says to a worker through his mask. Checking various sites on the plant takes about two hours.

At 3:30 p.m., workers return to the office. Their working hours are limited to prevent excessive radiation exposure.

Shortly after 4 p.m., Hibi leaves the Kajima office. However, his day is not over yet. He heads to the firm’s office in Iwaki to check on upcoming construction schedules. It is close to 9 p.m. when he arrives back at his apartment.

Hibi’s day only illustrates a portion of what is going on at the Fukushima plant and he is well aware that the task of decommissioning has a long way to go.

“When I was involved in a project to dig a tunnel for a subway in Taiwan, I went to ride the train after it was completed,” Hibi said. “But decommissioning at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant won’t be completed anytime soon.

“I hope that when I turn 80-something, I can visit here and see how much progress has been made.”

http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2016/03/09/national/daily-grind-decommissioning-continues-workers-fukushima-plant/#.VuEfj3rzN_n

March 10, 2016 Posted by | Fukushima 2016 | , | Leave a comment

Fukushima Report: 10,000 Excess Cancers Expected in Japan as a Result of 2011 Reactor Meltdowns, Ongoing Radiation Exposure

Report Gauges Cancer Prospects for Children, Rescue/Recovery Worker, and General Population; Japanese Government Criticized for “Disturbing” Failure to Examine Wider Radiation-Related Diseases

March 9, 2016

WASHINGTON, D.C. & BERLIN – March 9, 2016 – Residents of the Fukushima area and the rest of Japan will experience more than 10,000 excess cancers as a result of radiation exposure from the triple-reactor meltdown that took place on March 11, 2011, according to a new report from Physicians for Social Responsibility (PSR) and International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War (IPPNW).

Titled “5 Years Living With Fukushima” and available online at www.psr.org/FukushimaReport2016, the PSR/IPPNW report laments that the full impact of Fukushima may never be known, due to Japan’s failure to immediately and fully track radiation exposures, as well as a “disturbing” lack of testing of the general population for radiation-related diseases and other impacts (miscarriages, fetal malformations, leukemia, lymphomas, solid tumors or non-cancerous diseases). The massive initial radioactive emissions were not recorded at the time of the triple-reactor meltdown and some radioactive isotopes (including strontium-90) have not been measured at all.

The PSR/IPPNW report uses the best available science and data to gauge the excess cancer rates among children, rescue and clean-up workers, and the general population of Japan. In addition to the 200,000 Fukushima residents relocated nearby into makeshift camps, the exposed include millions of others in Japan as a result of fallout-contaminated food, soil and water. Fukushima is often incorrectly seen as a “past” event; the reality is that radioactive emissions from the wrecked reactors continue to this day both into the atmosphere and in the form of 300 tons of leakage each day into the Pacific Ocean.

Key findings of the PSR/IPPNW report include the following:

  • Children. “116 children in Fukushima Prefecture have al­ready been diagnosed with aggressive and fast-growing, or already metastasizing, thyroid cancer – in a population this size about one to five case per year would normally be expected. For 16 of these children a screening effect can be excluded as their cancers developed within the last two years.”
  • Workers. “More than 25,000 cleanup and rescue workers received the highest radiation dose and risked their health, while preventing a deterioration of the situation at the power plant site. If data supplied by the operator TEPCO is to be believed, around 100 workers are expected to contract cancer due to excess radia­tion, and 50 percent of these will be fatal. The real dose levels, how­ever, are most likely several times higher, as the operator has had no qualms in manipulating the data to avoid claims for damages – from hiring unregistered temporary employees to tampering with radiation dosimeters and even crude forgery.”
  • The rest of Japan. “The population in the rest of Japan is exposed to increased radiation doses from minor amounts of radioactive fallout, as well as contaminated food and water. Calculations of increased cancer cases overall in Japan range from 9,600 to 66,000 depending on the dose estimates.”

Catherine Thomasson, MD, report co-editor, and executive director, Physicians for Social Responsibility, said: “The health legacy of Fukushima will haunt Japan for years to come and it cannot be wished out of existence by cheerleaders for nuclear power. Unfortunately, the pro-nuclear Japanese government and the country’s influential nuclear lobby are doing everything in their power to play down and conceal the effects of the disaster. The high numbers of thyroid cancers already verified with 50 additional waiting for surgery in the children of Fukushima prefecture is astounding. The aim seems to be to ensure the Fukushima file is closed as soon as possible and the Japanese public returns to a positive view of nuclear power. This rush to re-embrace nuclear power is dangerous to the extent that it sweeps major and very real medical concerns under the rug.”

Dr. Alex Rosen, pediatrician and vice-chair, International Physicians for Prevention of Nuclear War, said: “One is of course reminded of the tobacco lobby disputing the notion that the horrific effects of its products have no adverse health impacts. This self-serving falsehood echoed for decades was made possible simply because the long-term health effects of smoking were not immediately observable. The 10,000 to 66,000 people who will develop cancer solely as a result of the “manmade disaster” are neither ‘negligible’ nor ‘insufficient,’ as Japanese authorities, the nation’s nuclear lobby, and various industry-dominated international bodies, would have you believe.”

Tim Mousseau, PhD, professor of Biological Sciences, University of South Carolina, said: “It is unfortunate that, in some regards, we have better and more complete data about the impacts of Fukushima radiation on trees, plants and animals than we do on humans. We are seeing higher mortality rates, reduction in successful reproduction and significant deformities. A great deal of this research has been done to date and it has troubling implications. The research findings should be heeded to direct human studies, particularly regarding the question of genetic and transgenerational effects of radiation.”

Robert Alvarez, senior scholar specializing in nuclear disarmament, environmental, and energy policies, Institute for Public Studies, and former senior policy advisor, US Department of Energy, said: “Radioactive fallout from the reactors has created de faco ‘sacrifice zones’ where human habitation will no longer be possible well into the future. In November 2011, the Japanese Science Ministry reported that long-lived radioactive cesium had contaminated 11,580 square miles (30,000 sq km) of the land surface of Japan. Some 4,500 square miles – an area almost the size of Connecticut – was found to have radiation levels that exceeded Japan’s allowable exposure rate of 1 mSV(millisievert) per year. Fourteen of the nation’s 54 reactors are permanently shut down as they are on fault lines and only four have been restarted.”

The PSR/IPPNW report also cautions that Fukushima was far from a one-time radiation incident: “The wrecked reactors have been leaking radioactive discharge since March 2011, de­spite assurances by the nuclear industry and institutions of the nuclear lobby such as the International Atomic Energy Organi­zation that a singular incident occurred in spring 2011, which is now under control. This statement ignores the continu­ous emission of long-lived radionuclides such as cesium-137 or strontium-90 into the atmosphere, the groundwater and the ocean. It also ignores frequent recontamination of affected ar­eas due to storms, flooding, forest fires, pollination, precipitation and even clean-up operations, which cause radioactive isotopes to be whirled into the air and spread by the wind. Thus, sev­eral incidents of new contamination with cesium-137 and stron­tium-90 have been discovered during the past years, even at considerable distance beyond the evacuation zone.”

The report also notes: “Finally, there are frequent leaks at the power plant itself – par­ticularly from the cracked underground vaults of the reactor buildings and from containers holding radioactive contaminated water, which were hastily welded together and already exhibit numerous defects. According to TEPCO, 300 tons of radioactive wastewater still flow unchecked into the ocean every day – more than 500,000 tons since the beginning of the nuclear disaster. The amount and composition of radioactive isotopes fluctuate widely so that it is not possible to ascertain the actual effect this radioactive discharge will have on marine life. What is clear, however, is that increasing amounts of strontium-90 are being flushed into the sea. Strontium-90 is a radioactive isotope that is incorporated into living organisms in a similar way to calcium – in bones and teeth. As it travels up the marine food chain, it undergoes significant bioaccumulation and, because of its long biological and physical half-lives, will continue to contaminate the environment for the next hundreds of years.”

ABOUT THE GROUPS

Physicians for Social Responsibility has been working for more than 50 years to create a healthy, just and peaceful world for both the present and future generations. PSR advocates on key issues of concern by addressing the dangers that threaten communities. www.psr.org.

International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War is a non-partisan federation of national medical groups in 64 countries, representing tens of thousands of doctors, medical students, other health workers, and concerned citizens who share the common goal of creating a more peaceful and secure world freed from the threat of nuclear annihilation. www.ippnw.org

http://www.psr.org/news-events/press-releases/fukushima-report-10000-excess-cancers-japan.html

March 10, 2016 Posted by | Fukushima 2016 | , , , , | Leave a comment

Radiation fears keep Japan’s nuclear refugees from returning

Mar. 9, 2016
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In this Tuesday, Feb. 9, 2016 photo, Tokiko Onoda, 80, who fled her home near the tsunami-crippled Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant, speaks at her cramped, cluttered apartment where she lives with her husband on the 21st floor of a high-rise in the edge of metropolitan Tokyo where about 1,000 people displaced by the disaster live in rent-free housing. Onoda angrily talks about how authorities are treating people like her. Why didn’t the government give her land elsewhere to build a new home? When she lived in Fukushima, she had a big house with a garden where she grew vegetables and peonies. She picked mushrooms and ferns in the hills. “We worked so hard to build that house,” she said, often stopping to wipe away tears. “We had no worries in the world except to plan vacation trips to the hot springs.” (AP Photo/Yuri Kageyama)

TOKYO (AP) — They feel like refugees, although they live in one of the world’s richest and most peaceful nations.

Five years ago, these people fled their homes, grabbing what they could, as a nearby nuclear plant melted down after being hit by a tsunami, spewing radiation. All told, the disaster in Fukushima displaced 150,000 by the government’s count.

About 100,000 are still scattered around the nation, some in barrack-like temporary housing units and others in government-allocated apartment buildings hundreds of kilometers (miles) away.

Although authorities have started to open up areas near the damaged reactors that were previously off limits, only a fraction of residents have returned. For example, in the town of Naraha, where evacuation orders were lifted in September, 459 people, or 6 percent of the pre-disaster population, have gone back.

Most say they don’t want to return for fear of lingering radiation. Some don’t want the upheaval of moving again after trying to start their lives over elsewhere.

With government housing aid set to end next year, many feel pressured to move back.

___

Tokiko Onoda, 80, lives with her husband in a cramped, cluttered apartment on the 21st floor of a high-rise in the edge of Tokyo where about 1,000 people displaced by the disaster live in rent-free housing.

Several Fukushima towns that were deserted now are urging residents to return, saying it is safe to live in certain areas. An ambitious effort to decontaminate vast swaths of land by removing topsoil and razing shrubbery has turned farmland and coastlines into stretches of dirt with rows upon rows of black garbage bags filled with grass, soil and debris.

When housing aid ends in April 2017, people in apartments under the government program will have to start paying rent or move out. Those whose homes in Fukushima that are in areas still off-limits for living will continue to receive the aid.

Onoda fears hers will be cut off because her home is in Namie, where evacuation orders are gradually being lifted in parts of the town.

She doesn’t believe it’s safe to go back. She feels duped because she had believed that nuclear power was safe.

Onoda angrily talks about how authorities are treating people like her. Why didn’t the government give her land elsewhere to build a new home?

When she lived in Fukushima, she had a big house with a garden where she grew vegetables and peonies. She picked mushrooms and ferns in the hills.

“We worked so hard to build that house,” she said, often stopping to wipe away tears. “We had no worries in the world except to plan vacation trips to the hot springs.”

That home is now in shambles. Although it survived the 9.0 magnitude quake on March 11, 2011, burglars have ransacked it and rats have chewed the walls. The last time she visited, the dosimeter ticked at 4 microsieverts an hour, more than 100 times the average monitored in-air radiation in Tokyo. That’s not immediately life-threatening but it makes Onoda feel uncomfortable because of worries that cancer or other sicknesses may surface years later.

Before the disaster, the government had set the safe annual radiation dosage level at 1 millisievert. Afterward, it has adopted the 20 millisievert recommendation of the International Commission on Radiation Protection set for emergencies, and 1 millisievert became a long-term goal.

Onoda says she has done her best to cope. She has made friends. She keeps busy with tea parties, art classes and a sewing circle.

And now they want her to go back, after all she has gone through?

“Only someone who has gone through this evacuation can understand,” she said.

___

Ryuichi Kino, a journalist who wrote, edited and compiled the 2015 book, “The White Paper on Nuclear Evacuees,” believes people like Onoda have been treated like “kimin,” which means “people who have been discarded” because they have been forgotten or abandoned by society.

“We don’t even know their real numbers,” he said, noting the government lacks a clear definition for “evacuees,” and bases its figures on tallies of those receiving aid. A recent count in Fukushima and a neighboring prefecture found the total number may be as high as 200,000, Kino said.

“Evacuation is a term that assumes the situation is temporary, and there is a place to go back,” said Kino.

The government is spending about 40 billion yen ($400 million) a year on housing aid for those displaced by the disaster. It’s also financially backing Tokyo Electric Power Co., operator of the damaged Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear plant, to make monthly compensation payments, now at a cumulative 5.9 trillion yen ($59 billion) and rising.

Tests with volunteers who wore dosimeters for two weeks in the town of Naraha found average radiation exposure to be at a rate of 1.12 millsieverts a year.

Government official Yuji Ishizaki, who is overseeing the lifting of evacuation orders, says he is merely following policy.

“There is no clear boundary for what is safe or not safe for radiation,” he said. “Even 1 millisievert might not be absolutely safe.”

Fukushima Medical University, the main academic body studying the health effects of the nuclear disaster, says no sickness linked to radiation has been detected so far, although sickness from lack of exercise, poor diet and mental stress has been observed.

The more than 100 cases of thyroid cancer found among the 370,000 people 18 years old and younger at the time of the disaster the university calls “a screening effect,” or a result of more rigorous testing.

Some scientists say that is unusually high, given that thyroid cancer among children is rare at two or three in a million. Thyroid cancers among the young surged in the Ukraine and Belarus after the 1986 Chernobyl catastrophe.

___

Seiichi Nakate is relatively content in his new life with his wife and two children, 13 and 11, in the northern city of Sapporo, 600 kilometers (370 miles) from Fukushima. There, some 1,500 people from Fukushima have formed a support network, often getting together for drinks and helping each other find jobs.

Nakate recently bought a house and started a company that refers professional helpers to disabled people, and has hired former Fukushima residents. He vows to never return to Fukushima because of the radiation danger.

He believes that from the beginning, authorities underplayed those risks. He doesn’t trust them.

After the disaster, he immediately sent his wife and children to a relatives’ home in southern Japan. The family started living together in Sapporo a year later.

The end of government housing support makes people feel pressure to return, he says.

“The government abandoned the people of Fukushima, even the children. Now the policy is to push us to go back,” he said. “It’s a policy that forces radiation upon people.”

Megumi Okada, a mother of four, is fighting hard to keep her housing aid in Tokyo, getting people to sign petitions and meeting with government officials.

She scoffs at how officials keep saying that people are living “as normal” in much of Fukushima. She doesn’t want her children eating the food or breathing the air. They get periodic blood tests to make sure they are healthy.

Her husband has found a job as a construction worker in Tokyo. Their apartment is just two rooms and a kitchen, but the rent is covered. Okada wants to work, but publicly funded child-care is scarce in Japan, and private ones are costly.

“Nothing has progressed in five years,” she said. “We have the right to stay evacuated.”

Okada says she wants to apply for U.N. refugee status and move to Europe with her family, if she could.

“I know Japanese can’t become refugees now. But I wish we could,” she said. “It is about our staying alive.”

___

Government evacuation map for Fukushima September 2011: http://www.meti.go.jp/english/earthquake/nuclear/roadmap/pdf/evacuation_map_111125.pdf

Government evacuation map for Fukushima September 2015:

http://www.meti.go.jp/english/earthquake/nuclear/roadmap/pdf/150905MapOfAreas.pdf

http://bigstory.ap.org/node/12680225

March 10, 2016 Posted by | Fukushima 2016 | , , , | Leave a comment