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Tepco considering discharging Tritium to the Pacific



By 3/4/2016, Masuda, Fukushima plant decommissioning chief commented in the interview with a local newspaper company that they need to consider discharging the contaminated water to the Pacific.

The newspaper company is Kahoku shimpo.

Due to the high amount and the increasing speed, Tepco and the government of Japan cannot remove tritium from contaminated water. The government of Japan is to release a strategy plan by the end of this month.

Masuda said, he is aware that discharging the tritium water is one of the options after dilution.

The entire volume of tritium does not change even after dilution however it was not asked at least in the published part of the interview.


March 12, 2016 Posted by | Fukushima 2016 | , , , | 1 Comment

Radioactive Waste Still Leaking Five Years After Fukushima Nuclear Disaster

Yves here. While the Fukushima nuclear disaster seems like it took place a long time ago, but the site is still leaking radioactive water and the cleanup and remediation will take decades, as this Real News Network story explains.


SHARMINI PERIES, EXECUTIVE PRODUCER, TRNN: It’s the Real News Network. I’m Sharmini Peries coming to you from Baltimore.

March 11 marks the five-year anniversary of the most powerful earthquake and resulting tsunami in recent memory. It hit Japan, causing a meltdown at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, which evolved into a crisis.

The nuclear disaster forced tens of thousands of people to flee a 20-kilometer radius around the reactor. Plant-operated [Tokyo] Electric Power Company, known as TEPCO, managed to avert the worst scenario by pumping water, much of it from the sea, into the Daiichi damaged reactors and spent fuel pools. After several scares, including one where radioactive water spilled into the sea, reactors were stabilized by December of the same year. Five years on, however, the nuclear power plant is still leaking radioactive water.

To help understand why this is still happening is Arjun Makhijani. He is a nuclear and electric engineer, and president of the Institute for Energy and Environmental Research. Arjun, thank you so much for joining us today.

ARJUN MAKHIJANI: Thank you, Sharmini, for having me.

PERIES: So, Arjun, why is it taking so long to fix the leak?

MAKHIJANI: Well, nuclear power is forever. So, basically, what happens in the course of a nuclear reaction: you split the atom and you get two fragments from that, and those fragments of uranium are much more radioactive than the original uranium, and some of them last for a very long time, and some of them are quite mobile.

Now, in the normal course of operation of a nuclear reactor, the fuel is in the form of ceramic pellets and it all sits inside the reactor. There are some radioactivity emissions, but they are not huge in terms of the kinds of concerns we’re talking about. When there is a meltdown, like the accident we had at Fukushima Daiichi, or Chernobyl, there are, the fuel pellets actually melt and they form, like, a molten concrete that moves toward the bottom of the reactor.

Now, in the case of Three Mile Island, where that happened, that molten core was contained within the reactor, and as that happens, also, the chemical reactions generate hydrogen. In Three Mile Island, the hydrogen fire, or explosion, was contained within that concrete dome associated with that reactor. At Fukushima the three buildings actually blew up from hydrogen explosions, and there was this meltdown, so all this radioactivity, a lot of that radioactivity then escaped.

A part of it is volatile, like cesium, so it evaporates, literally, and then of course it goes into the air, iodine-131. Some of it is soluble. Now, normally the soluble part would remain inside the reactor, but at Fukushima it seems that there has been, at least in one reactor and possibly in more than one, the molten core has just melted its way not only through the reactor but also through all the containments, and I suspect that some of it is in the soil. We don’t know because they haven’t been able to figure out exactly where all this molten material is, but I think the evidence is that the groundwater is contacting the radioactive material, and so the groundwater is getting contaminated, and a large part of the problem of contamination of water comes from that fact, also the fact that it’s raining and the rain, of course, makes the radioactivity mobile.

Last point on this is that two difficult materials in this regard are cesium-137, which has a half-life of 30 years, which means you have to worry about it for a couple of hundred years, and strontium-90, which also has a similar half-life, 29 years, and so you also have to worry about it for a couple of hundred years. And so this stuff just stays around, and so long as you don’t remove it it’s an environmental and health threat, and Fukushima Daiichi is right on the ocean, so whenever the radioactivity washes off the site it winds up in the ocean.

PERIES: And all the technical aspects are rather important, but what’s happening to the people who were affected by the crises and the people that were evacuated from the 20-mile radius? What are the conditions there? Have they moved back? Are they still at risk?

MAKHIJANI: Well, about 160 thousand people left their homes after the disaster. there was an evacuation zone, but it turned out the contamination was more widespread and more directional. It was directional toward the northwest. It wasn’t in a circle, so while they initially evacuated a circle, turned out that some of the parts of the circle were not contaminated, and then there were parts that were beyond that circle that were contaminated.

Currently, I think, there almost 100 thousand people who have not gone back. The government thinks that many more people can go back, but, you know, the places are contaminated. You are being asked to trust a system that essentially betrayed you multiple times, that didn’t level with the public, that has manifestly, by its own actions, put the restart of nuclear power plants in Japan, which were all shut down about a year later, above the questions of resettlement and cleanup and other aspects of the Fukushima disaster, and they basically have tried to minimize the dangers of radiation, so a lot of people have not returned.

Families have split up, so sometimes the men will say, you know, my job is there, my farm is there, my work is there. I want to go back. And the women might say, well, we don’t want to go back, how can we take our children back to these radioactive, contaminated areas? So it’s not only the health risk and the cancer risk, but there are all of these other social-economic–There’s this social-economic fallout that I think is at least as important as the radioactive fallout.

PERIES: And are there health risks from this manifesting itself now?

MAKHIJANI: Yes. There’s some evidence of thyroid problems and thyroid cancer risks. Most of the cancers are solid cancers, and the latency period of radiation-induced cancers, except for leukemia, are quite long, so you should expect to see the cancers in the coming decade. This is an accident that won’t stop, because they don’t know how to get all that material out.

The people most at risk, actually, are the workers who are cleaning up the plant and who are also cleaning up the environment around the plant, where there was a lot of this radioactive fallout. Cleaning up is actually a euphemism, because you can’t really clean the stuff up. They’re scraping up the dirt, and, let me see, there are 10, more than 10 million one-ton plastic bags containing radioactive debris and waste from this cleanup outside the plant, and they’re just sitting there, these plastic bags. The pictures of them are very stunning, and nobody knows what will happen if there’s another tsunami and there are these 10 million radioactive waste-containing plastic bags, and one thousand tanks containing radioactive water besides the radioactive water that’s going into the ocean.

So the workers are significantly at risk. There are more than 30 thousand of them, and–

PERIES: –And have there been any medical attempts to test them, to deal with what they might be getting exposed to?

MAKHIJANI: Well, you know, they are being monitored for radioactivity, most of them, I suspect. My, so I haven’t followed this blow-by-blow, to confess, but when I did follow it quite closely initially, for about a year, my impression was that the monitoring was deficient and that the internal monitoring, which is what you eat and breathe and what gets inside your body, which is very, very important, was not as frequent and as thorough as it should be. And I think the same, possibly, applies to a lot of the affected people.

So there are a lot of cancers that are not associated with radioactivity, so in order to know, you know, what was the added risk from the radiation exposure, you have to have very thorough studies, and I am not confident that these thorough studies are being done. It’s very hard for us to know, because not long after Fukushima the Japanese government passed a kind of anti-freedom of information law where it became illegal to diffuse and acquire and talk about certain kinds of information, so you know they have something to hide when they’re doing that.

PERIES: Okay. And besides the government, who is obviously mandated to deal with this, the former leader of the head of the Tokyo Electric Power Company team dealing with the radioactive water says that they will need another four years or so, until 2020, to fix it. Many critics, including yourself, said that TEPCO, who ran the plant, who were not equipped to deal with it, and of course that is all coming to. Is the government and TEPCO in any better position to deal with this now, having, you know, five years have passed, and are you any more confident about the way they are dealing with it?

MAKHIJANI: So let me give one very important credit where it is due, which is that in one of the reactors, which was not operational at the time of the accident, reactor number four, there was a lot of very hot, radioactive waste in the spent fuel pool, where it is stored, and a lot of people, including me, feared that, you know, a loss of cooling could result in a very major disaster, and it was very important to empty that pool and store that waste more safely because that building had also been affected severely by the accident.

They have been able to empty that pool. They have also made progress in some other areas. However, I think TEPCO was not a very responsible company, and had many, many problems in terms of its disclosures and dishonesty before this accident. The chairman of TEPCO actually escaped, and did not show up for a month after the accident, so not very responsible. If it had not been for the prime minister of Japan, who has now become an opponent of nuclear power, Prime Minister Kan, we may be looking at a very different disaster, because TEPCO was thinking of abandoning the site which would have, of course, resulted in the kind of much worse accident that people feared. We’re very lucky that Tokyo did not have more fallout on it.

So Nuclear power is a very strange beast. We’re making plutonium just to boil water, and then all these radioactive materials. And so if you have an accident you can’t pick up the pieces and move on. This is an accident that has been going on for 40 years. They’re not going–five years–They’re not going to clean it up in the next four years, let me assure you. Getting that molten fuel from the reactors, even approaching it and handling it, you know, robotically, is going to take a long time, decades probably.

PERIES: And TEPCO is, apparently, right now seeking permission to build an underground ice wall to contain it all. Is this a reasonable proposal, and is it going to work?

MAKHIJANI: Well, I’m skeptical about this ice wall. I think they have built it, or are well along the way. The idea is to prevent water. So it’s in a mountainous area, and the mountains are kind of upstream from the reactor site, so the water flows through the site and, as I was explaining, picks up the radioactivity and contaminates the groundwater and so on, and that’s part of the reason they have, you know, these millions of gallons of radioactive water stored onsite.

I thought that they should have put this radioactive water in a supertanker and taken it to another site for treatment, and proposed it at the time of the accident. I know the Japanese authorities saw my proposal, but they ignored it, and so I don’t think that this accident has been well handled from the beginning in most of the respects. Fortunately the prime minister ordered that the sea water be put into the reactors so there wasn’t, you know, bigger hydrogen explosions and a worse radioactive catastrophe than already happened.

March 12, 2016 Posted by | Fukushima 2016 | , | Leave a comment

On Five Years Of An Ongoing Accident In Fukushima: It’s Not An Anniversary

DiaNuke editorial on the Five Years since the Earthquake-Tsunami-Meltdown

by Kumar Sundaram, March 12, 2016


The absurd contradictions of disaster management: the government told families that it was safe for children to stay, but not safe for children to play.

On March 11, 2011, I was sitting in my office in the Institute of Defense Studies and Analysis, when the news of massive tsunami and earthquake came. I was working as a Senior Research Fellow on a project funded by the Dept. of Atomic Energy.

I was new to Facebook, and wished safety to all my Japanese friends, and I asked some over Facebook messaging and emails if they were fine.

And then, the news of nuclear accident in Fukushima Dai-Ichi reactors flashed. Within hours, it turned into an unimaginable horror.

I almost didn’t sleep for several days – checking every detail on the internet – the radiation counts, the design details of the reactors, every single news release, the weather reports for understanding the direction and speed of wind, getting glued to the map of Tohoku region. A number of other people tracking Fukushima on the social media from different countries became friends. We kept doing that for months. Some still meticulously gather every single detail.

For me, it was a reckoning of the insurmountable nature of nuclear accidents. The accidents might not happen so frequently, but the fact that every reactor can undergo an accident and there is no human response possible for nuclear accidents, even in technologically most advanced countries, makes nuclear power uniquely and unacceptably dangerous.

The accident also revealed decades of complacency in Japan. The nexus between politics, nuclear corporations, the elites, and the media was openly exposed. We can rely on the Indian system to be far worse than Japan in that respect. The labour mafia in Japan has been callously using the poor and migrant workers as cheap fodder in Fukushima’s clean-up.

The clean-up will take decades. They have not been able to get the reactor under control, even after 5 years. We have no clue about the state of tons of molten fuel in the crippled reactor. What the government means by ‘under control’ is just that they are pouring water daily to keep the temperature in the crumbled building low. Thousands of litres of contaminated water from the reactor are coming out daily, and they have no idea what to do with the water except storing it in thousands of huge tanks and stealthily letting it go into the Pacific Ocean.

A 20-kilometre radius area around the reactor remains uninhabitable, and more than 20,000 people evacuated from this area have no hope to return.

I have been to Fukushima twice since the accident. I went inside the evacuation zone and saw the ghost towns like Namie, Futaba and Itate. Houses, offices, shops, schools, playgrounds, railway stations, everything is there, but there are no humans. In 5 years, heavy dust and moss has accumulated everywhere.

There are decontamination workers working in this 20 kilometre zone, mostly scraping the top-soil and cleaning houses and offices. This highly radioactive dump is transported, shifted from one place to other in ‘temporary’ storage sites. The people doing this work know there’s no solution. They know everything is just an eyewash, for appearance’s sake. The same company which didn’t heed to warnings before the accident, and played every trick in the book to exclude as many people as possible from getting compensation, is gaining from these decontamination contracts.

Life for the evacuated people is unimaginably hard and shattered. Building a new life is not easy for most of them. There’s very little support from the government, and there are many attempts to stop even that as the years pass. There are documented proofs that the community in Fukushima is also facing social ostracism, as people fear that radiation-caused diseases might appear after several years. People are experiencing psychological breakdowns.

The resilience of the community, and the larger Japanese society, however, is moving. People across the country are providing support in every possible manner.

The political fallout of Fukushima is historic. Something has changed in the normally apolitical Japanese society. The kind and gentle Japanese people are angry. They understand the connections between corporations, government, politicians and the media. They are still grappling with how to make their collective response more effective. Thousands of reluctant activists flock to the Japanese parliament building in Tokyo every Friday after their work, chant slogans, play music, light candles, and share dreams of a better future. This has proliferated and there are weekly protests all over Japan.

In India, we have a additional set of problems when it comes to nuclear: higher population density, deeper corruption and unaccountability in the system, absence of an independent nuclear safety regulator, attempts to dilute even the ridiculously low nuclear liability. And more than anything else, brutal bulldozing of public dissent, environmental and safety concerns as the commitment for setting up new reactors stems primarily from the elite’s foreign policy choices rather than some well-thought energy policy.

Fukushima has led to policy changes in several countries. As a BBC survey has revealed, popular support for nuclear power is touching bottom, globally.

But in India, legitimate concerns about nuclear safety are deemed superstition. The previous government sent psychological counselors to Koodankulam when local residents raised objections about the project. And when these counselors couldn’t “cure” them, the police came. Thousands of para-military forces surrounded the villages, ransacked houses and fishing boats, and killed innocents.

Asking questions has become anti-national in India. Thousands of villagers on the southern-most tip of India face sedition charges for peacefully protesting against the project, which has now revealed itself as an expensive and dangerous white elephant. In almost 3 years since its commissioning, after much fanfare and repression, Koodankulam nuclear plant has not even operated successfully for 100 consecutive days. The latest news is that the reactor has been shut down again due to a dangerous leak. People around the area have reported a pungent smell coming from the plant for the last few days.

I left my previous job and have associated myself with the Coalition For Nuclear Disarmament and Peace (CNDP) after the Fukushima accident. We have been trying to mobilise solidarity for the struggling villagers, amplify their voices and connect the dots by collaborating with civil society groups to ask questions on liability, safety, economic viability and environmental impacts of the proposed and existing nuclear plants in India.

In this country with hugely anachronistic nuclear ambitions, which is one of the handful countries with expansion plans after Fukushima, we all have been labeled anti-national.

One of the first things the new BJP government did after coming to power was to deliberately ‘leak’ an intelligence report calling CNDP and other such organisations anti-national. Some 40 names were mentioned, including mine. The IB became an economist and axiomatically said we are bringing down India’s growth by 2 to 3 percent. How more absurd can it get? I survive in Delhi on odd freelance pieces of work and minimum organisational support.

In the 5th year of Fukushima, I have lost track of the details that I started accumulating in March 2011. It’s not about facts and figures any more. It’s about politics. It’s about power structures. It’s about our lifestyles. Everything needs to be questions and transformed if the world has to be kept safe from nuclear horror and climate change.

If challenging the status-quo is anti-national, so be it. I am proud to carry the label.

March 12, 2016 Posted by | Fukushima 2016 | , , | Leave a comment

Protesters rally in front of PM office, Diet calling for end to nuclear power


Demonstrators in front of the prime minister’s office in Tokyo’s Chiyoda Ward offer a silent prayer to those who died in the March 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake and tsunami, on March 11, 2016.

Protesters rally in front of PM office, Diet calling for end to nuclear power

Protestors staged demonstrations in front of the prime minister’s office and the Diet in Tokyo on March 11, calling for the elimination of nuclear power.

Demonstrators chanted slogans including, “Don’t restart nuclear reactors,” and, “Protect Fukushima.” Some 6,000 people participated in the demonstrations, according to the organizer, the Metropolitan Coalition against Nukes.

Psychiatrist Rika Kayama said during a rally in front of the National Diet Building, “I’d like to join hands with you in blocking reactivation of nuclear plants across the country.”

Takeshi Suwahara, a key member of the Students Emergency Action for Liberal Democracy (SEALDs), said, “I don’t want to rely on a power generation method that could cost people their lives and livelihoods.”

Toshima Ward, Tokyo resident Akira Suzuki, 66, stated Japan “should switch to natural, renewable energy sources since we’ve learned lessons from the Fukushima (nuclear) accident.”


Participants call for a nuclear-free society during a rally held in front of the Diet building in Tokyo on March 11.

Anti-nuclear rally in Tokyo marks 187th since the 2011 disaster

Thousands of anti-nuclear activists rallied around the prime minister’s office and the Diet building in Tokyo on March 11, the fifth anniversary of the earthquake and tsunami disaster that triggered the nuclear crisis in Fukushima Prefecture.

The Metropolitan Coalition Against Nukes, a citizens group that organized the protest, estimated that 6,000 or so people took part.

Participants raised slogans against the restart of nuclear reactors and the lingering effects of the triple meltdown at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant caused by the magnitude-9.0 Great East Japan Earthquake and tsunami.

The activists have rallied on Friday nights since the nuclear accident. The latest gathering was the 187th.

“I intend to continue to express my opinions in order to create a society that does not depend on nuclear power generation,” said Moeko Mizoi, 20, a sophomore of Tsuda College, whose grandparents live in Fukushima Prefecture.

In a related development, former Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi gave a speech in an event held in Tokyo on March 11 for the screening of a documentary movie, “Nihon to Genpatsu Yonengo” (Japan and nuclear power generation, four years later).

“I want people to continue their anti-nuclear movement with patience so that the Japanese economy can develop without nuclear power generation,” Koizumi said.

“People’s voices will change politics,” he added.


Hiroshima atomic bombing survivor So Horie, second from right in the front row, and other plaintiffs head to the Hiroshima District Court on March 11, 2016. The banner they are holding reads “Atomic bombed Hiroshima refuses radiation exposure” and “Things past cannot be changed, but we can change our future.”

A-bomb survivors demand court shut western Japan nuclear plant

HIROSHIMA (Kyodo) — Plaintiffs including survivors of the 1945 U.S. atomic bombings filed a lawsuit Friday with a court demanding a halt to operation of Shikoku Electric Power Co.’s Ikata nuclear plant in western Japan.

They brought the suit to the Hiroshima District Court, arguing that the environment would be devastated and their health affected if an accident similar to the 2011 Fukushima disaster takes place at the plant in Ehime Prefecture, their lawyers said.

Friday is the fifth anniversary of a major earthquake and tsunami that triggered the accident at the Fukushima Daiichi plant of Tokyo Electric Power Co.

The three reactors at the Ikata plant are currently off-line but Shikoku Electric envisions rebooting the No. 3 unit in the spring or later. The reactor cleared a safety screening last July.

The plaintiffs are a group of 67 people, including 18 survivors of the Hiroshima and Nagasaki bombings and one Fukushima evacuee living in Hiroshima Prefecture.

Three of the plaintiffs are also seeking an injunction ordering the No. 3 unit not to be restarted ahead of the court’s final ruling, according to the lawyers.

The litigation came two days after another Japanese court issued an injunction ordering two reactivated reactors at Takahama plant of Kansai Electric Power Co. to be halted as requested by a group of local residents.

In the injunction, the Otsu District Court cited “problematic points” in planned responses for major accidents and “questions” on tsunami countermeasures and evacuation planning.

All Japan’s reactors were taken off-line following the Fukushima disaster but four reactors, including the two Takahama units, have been reactivated since last year under stricter post-Fukushima safety regulations.

March 12, 2016 Posted by | Japan | , , | Leave a comment

Is Fukushima’s nuclear nightmare over? Don’t count on it

Christopher Busby is an expert on the health effects of ionizing radiation. He qualified in Chemical Physics at the Universities of London and Kent, and worked on the molecular physical chemistry of living cells for the Wellcome Foundation. Professor Busby is the Scientific Secretary of the European Committee on Radiation Risk based in Brussels and has edited many of its publications since its founding in 1998. He has held a number of honorary University positions, including Visiting Professor in the Faculty of Health of the University of Ulster. Busby currently lives in Riga, Latvia. See also:, and

On the 5th Anniversary of the catastrophe, Prof Geraldine Thomas, the nuclear industry’s new public relations star, walked through the abandoned town of Ohkuma inside the Fukushima exclusion zone with BBC reporter Rupert Wingfield-Hayes.

Thomas was described as “one of Britain’s leading experts on the health effects of radiation”. She is of the opinion that there is no danger and the Japanese refugees can come back and live there in the “zone”. Her main concern seemed to be how untidy it all was: “Left to rack and ruin,” she complained, sadly.

At one point, Rupert pulled out his Geiger counter and read the dose: 3 microSieverts per hour. “How much radiation would it give in a year to people who came back here,” he asked. Thomas replied: “About an extra milliSievert a year, which is not much considering you get 2mSv a year from natural background”.

“The long term impact on your health would be absolutely nothing.”

Now anyone with a calculator can easily multiply 3 microSieverts (3 x 10-6 Sv) by 24 hours and 365 days. The answer comes out to be 26 mSv (0.026Sv), not “about 1mSv” as the “leading expert on the health effects of radiation” reported.

I must personally ask if Gerry Thomas is a reliable expert; her CV shows she has published almost nothing in the way of original research, so we must ask how it is the BBC has taken her seriously.

This recalled the day the first reactor exploded in 2011. I was in London, and the BBC asked me to come into the studio and comment. Also present was a nuclear industry apologist, Dr Ian Fells. Like Geraldine Thomas he seemed unconcerned about the radiation: the main problem for him was that the lifts would not work. People would have to climb stairs, he complained.

I said then on that first day that this was a serious accident like Chernobyl, but he and everybody who followed him told the viewers that it was no problem, nothing like Chernobyl.

Some months later, looking back, it became clear I was correct on every point, but I never was invited back to the BBC. I visited Japan, took sophisticated measuring equipment, obtained vehicle air filters, spoke to the Japanese people and advised them to take Calcium tablets to block the Strontium-90.

My vehicle air filter measurements showed clearly that large areas of north east Japan were seriously contaminated – including Tokyo. This was too much for the nuclear industry: I was attacked in the Guardian newspaper by pro-nuclear George Monbiot in an attempt to destroy my credibility. One other attacker was Geraldine Thomas. What she said then was as madly incorrect then as what she is saying now. But the Guardian would not let me respond.

The important evidence for me in the recent BBC clip is the measurement of dose given by Rupert’s Geiger counter: 3microSieverts per hour (3Sv/h). Normal background in Japan (I know, I measured it there) is about 0.1Sv/h. So in terms of external radiation, Ruperts’s measurement gave 30 times normal background.

Is this a problem for human health? You bet it is. The question no-one asked is what is causing the excess dose? The answer is easy: radioactive contamination, principally of Caesium-137. On the basis of well-known physics relationships we can say that 3Sv/h at 1m above ground represents a surface contamination of about 900,000Bq per square metre of Cs-137. That is, 900,000 disintegrations per second in one square metre of surface: and note that they were standing on a tarmac road which appeared to be clean. And this is 5 years after the explosions. The material is everywhere, and it is in the form of dust particles which can be inhaled; invisible sparkling fairy-dust that kills hang in the air above such measurements.

The particles are not just of Caesium-137. They contain other long lived radioactivity, Strontium-90, Plutonium 239, Uranium-235, Uranium 238, Radium-226, Polonium-210, Lead-210, Tritium, isotopes of Rhodium, Ruthenium, Iodine, Cerium, Cobalt 60. The list is long.

The UN definition of ‘radioactively contaminated land’ is 37,000Bq/square meter, and so, on the basis of the measurement made by the BBC reporter, the town of Ohkuma in the Fukushima zone (and we assume everywhere else in the zone) is still, five years after the incident, more than 20 times the level where the UN would, and the Soviets did, step in and control the population.

But the Japanese government wants to send the people back there. It is bribing them with money and housing assistance. It is saying, like Gerry Thomas, there is no danger. And the BBC is giving this misdirection a credible platform. The argument is based on the current radiation risk model of the International Commission on Radiological Protection the ICRP.

Last month, my German colleagues and I published a scientific paper [2] in the peer reviewed journal Environmental Health and Toxicology. It uses real-world data from those exposed to the same substances that were released by Fukushima to show that the ICRP model is wrong by 1,000 times or more. This is a game-changing piece of research. But were we asked to appear on the BBC, or anywhere else? No. What do our findings and calculations suggest will have happened in the five years since the explosions and into the future? Let’s take a look at what has happened since 2011.

The reactors are still uncontrolled five years after the explosions and continue to release their radioactive contents to the environment despite all attempts to prevent this. Concerning the melted fuel, there is no way to assess the condition or specific whereabouts of the fuel though it is clearly out of the box and in the ground.

Meanwhile, robots fail at the extremely high radiation levels found; ground water flowing through the plant is becoming contaminated and is being pumped into storage tanks for treatment; high radiation levels and debris have delayed the removal of spent fuel from numbers 1, 2 and 3 reactor buildings. TEPCO plans to remove debris from reactor 3 and this work has begun. Then they are hoping to remove the fuel rods out of reactors 1 and 2 by 2020 and the work on removing debris from these 2 reactors has not begun yet.

Much of the radioactivity goes into the sea, where it travels several hundreds of km. up and down the coast, destroying sea life and contaminating intertidal sediment. The radionuclides bind to fine sediment and concentrate in river estuaries and tidal areas like Tokyo Bay. Here the particles are re-suspended and brought ashore to be inhaled by those living within 1km of the coast.

From work done by my group for the Irish government on the contaminated Irish Sea we know that this exposure will increase the rate of cancer in the coastal inhabitants by about 30 percent.

The releases have not been stopped despite huge amounts of work, thought and action. The treated water is still highly radioactive and cannot yet be released.

That is a real problem on site with three heavy spent fuel pools still full and largely inaccessible. Collapse of the buildings would lead to coolant loss and a fire or even an explosion releasing huge amounts of radioactivity. So this is one nightmare scenario: Son of Fukushima. A solid wall at the port side may have slowed the water down but diverting the water may cause problems with the ground water pressure on site and thus also threaten subsidence. Space for storing the radioactive water is running out and it seems likely that this will have to be eventually spilled into the Pacific.

Only 10 percent of the plant has been cleaned up although there are 8,000 workers on site at any one time, mostly dealing with the contaminated water. Run-off from storms brings more contamination down the rivers from the mountains.

There are millions of 1-ton container bags full of radioactive debris and other waste which has been collected in decontamination efforts outside the plant and many of these bags are only likely to last a handful of years before degrading and spilling their contents. Typhoons will spread this highly contaminated contents far and wide.

Let’s look at the only real health data which has emerged to see if it gives any support to my original estimate of 400,000 extra cancers in the 200km radius. Prof Tsuda has recently published a paper in the peer review literature identifying 116 thyroid cancers detected over 3 years by ultrasound scanning of 380,000 0-18 year olds.

The background rate is about 0.3 per 100,000 per year, so in three years we can expect 3.42 thyroid cancers. But 116 were found, an excess of about 112 cases. Geraldine says that these were all found because they looked: but Tsuda’s paper reports that an ultrasound study in Nagasaki (no exposures) found zero cases, and also an early ultrasound study also found zero cases. So she is wrong. The thyroid doses were reported to be about 10mSv. On the basis of the ICRP model, that gives an error of about 2000 times.

From the results of our new genetic paper we can safely predict a 100 percent increase in congenital malformations in the population up to 200km radius.

In an advanced technological country like Japan these will be picked up early by ultrasound and aborted, so we will not actually see them, even if there were data we could trust. What we will see is a fall in the birth rate and an increase in the death rate because we know what has been happening and what will happen; we have seen it before in Chernobyl. And just like Chernobyl, the (Western) authorities are influenced by or take their lead from the nuclear industry: the ICRP and the International Atomic Energy Agency, (IAEA) which since 1959 has taken over from the World Health Organization as the responsible authority for radiation and health (Yes!).

They keep the lid on the truth using ill-informed individuals like Geraldine Thomas and, by analogy with New Labour: New BBC. Increasingly I could say “New Britain” as opposed the Great Britain of my childhood, a country I was proud of where you could trust the BBC. I wonder how the reporters like Rupert can live with themselves presenting such misguided information.

Fukushima is far from being over, and the deaths have only just begun.



2. Genetic Radiation Risks-A Neglected Topic in the Low Dose …


March 12, 2016 Posted by | Fukushima 2016 | , , , | Leave a comment

Nuclear refugees tell of distrust, pressure to return to Fukushima


Tokiko Onoda speaks about her house in Fukushima from her apartment

in Tokyo on Feb. 9.

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 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 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 are now 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 magnitude-9.0 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 ($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 No. 1 nuclear plant, to make monthly compensation payments, now at a cumulative ¥5.9 trillion ($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 2 or 3 in 1 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 Sapporo, 600 km 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.”

March 12, 2016 Posted by | Fukushima 2016 | , , , | Leave a comment

Nuclear news in this Fukushima anniversary week

a-cat-CAN11 March – the fifth anniversary of the Fukushima Nuclear Catastrophe.  There’s a prevailing attitude in the general world of media, business, and government, that it’s all over – nearly fixed, back to nuclear business as usual. Not true.  Indeed, the harrowing truth is otherwise. Dr Tilman Ruff is one of many who have set out the reality of the continuing health and environmental impacts of ionising radiation from Fukushima.

There is also a comprehensive new report , by Dr Ian Fairlea,  on the continuing health effects of the Chernobyl nuclear disaster.

The whole sorry nuclear story is brought up to date, in  a new 15 part series Nuclear Power in Our World Today. Episode One focuses on the “front end” of the nuclear chain – the truly awful and continuing effects of the thousands of old abandoned uranium mines.

March 12, 2016 Posted by | Christina's notes | 1 Comment

Strontium 90 <0.2 bq/kg Found in British Columbia Wild Salmon


試料 名 Sample:
Wild Chum Salmon – female
(Freeze Dried)





採取 場所 Origin: Kilby Park, BC  Canada

採取年月 Sampling date: 2014 年11月30日 (November 30, 2014)

測定日時 Date Tested : 2015 年3月31 日 (March 31, 2015)

測定時間 Duration : 57,600 秒(seconds)




試料容器 Container: 500mLマリ ネリ容器(Marinelli)

試料重量 Sample weight: 144.2g

乾燥前 Before dehydration: 2010g → 700g

Tested by  新宿代々木市民測定所
 (Citizen Radioactivity Measuring Station, Shinjyuku-Yoyogi) with Germanium Detector
Chum map
Tritium トリチウム <1.74 bq/kg

測定日時 Date Tested : 2015 年9月15 日 (September 15, 2015)
測定時間 Duration : 10時間 (10hours)

試料重量 Sample weight: 25g
Tested by Iwaki Radiation Measuring Center, Trachine with SL300/SLL – coordinated by Citizen Radioactivity Measuring Station, Shinjyuku-Yoyogi

Sr90 ストロンチウム90 <0.2 bq/kg測定日時 Date Tested : 2016 年2月2 日 (February 2 , 2016)
測定時間 Duration : 4時間 (4hours)

試料重量 Sample weight: 0.105g
Tested by Iwaki Radiation Measuring Center, Trachine with SL300/SLL – coordinated by Citizen Radioactivity Measuring Station, Shinjyuku-Yoyogi

But it’s not telling you a whole story about contamination….

March 12, 2016 Posted by | Canada | , , | Leave a comment

Neo-Nuclearism as a Cargo Cult

Forgetting Fukushima, Denying Dai-ichi

By James Heddle

“Everyone is entitled to their own opinion. But everyone is not entitled to their own facts.” – Sen. Daniel Patrick Moynahan


Fallout as Blowback
As the 5-year anniversary rolls around it’s clear to all who care to notice that the Fukushima triple meltdown nuclear disaster is still not ‘under control’ – as Prime Minister Abe claimed to the Olympic Committee in his successful bid to host the coming 2020 Games – but is still on-going, and will be far into the future.

That is to say, radioactive pollution will continue to pour into the oceanic, hemispheric and planetary environment with predictably negative, but unknown, effects on the health and DNA of all life forms in the biosphere.

There’s karmic irony here. The U.S. dropped the first atomic bombs on Japan, then used its political influence and propaganda prowess to sell the country nuclear power. Its corporations supplied the faulty reactors that melted down at Fukushima. Now, it is on the front line of receiving the fallout in the form of ongoing oceanic and atmospheric pollution carried eastward by winds and currents.

Faith-Based Nuclear Policy
Despite the obvious take-home lesson – i.e., that every nuclear facility, wherever its geographic location, constitutes a danger to the entire planet, and should be treated as such by the ‘international community’ – a New Nuclear Weapons race and a New Nuclear Power race are both currently in progress.

He began his presidency with the celebrated April 5, 2009 Prague Speech in which he stated “…clearly and with conviction America’s commitment to seek the peace and security of a world without nuclear weapons….” In practice Obama has embraced an ‘all of the above’ energy policy including heavy investments in new reactor construction and design development.

The recipient of an apparently aspirational Nobel Peace Prize has also committed a projected $1 trillion dollars over the coming decades to upgrading America’s nuclear weapons arsenal.

The program includes new ballistic missiles, a new manned bomber and a fleet of new missile-launching submarines. Termed – with no apparent sense of irony –‘the life-extension program,’ the plans clearly violate U.S. obligations under the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT).

In the domain of nuclear weaponry’s Siamese twin nuclear energy, there are those opinion-maker luminaries like James Hansen, James Lovelock, Stewart Brand, Bill Gates and George Monbiot who advocate for nuclear energy as a ‘carbon-free solution to climate change.’ Never mind that – as Stanford scientist Mark Jacobsen and his associates, as well as others, have conclusively shown – the entire nuclear fuel chain from mine to waste dump is more carbon intensive than wind and solar put together. Their work shows a transition to renewables is totally possible…without nuclear energy.

The Atomic Church of the Last Gasp
Last week, alarmed at the failure of their repeated attempts to go through ‘proper channels,’ seven engineers at America’s Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) – which President Obama himself has dubbed in 2007 ‘a moribund agency’ – filed a petition as private citizens. They stated that they have identified a long-undiscovered electrical flaw common to virtually all U.S. nuclear plants that could prevent cooling and allow a meltdown to occur. Their petition asks that the NRC mandate that plant operators either fix the problem or shut down the reactors.

But the New Nuclearists avoid coming to terms with the risks and failures of the existing world fleet of aging, ill-designed reactors. They believe – without operational proof-of-concept – in a pie-in-the-sky, perpetually not-yet-but-soon-to-be-born generation of ‘new, small modular nuclear reactors (SMRs).’ They will consume and eliminate existing nuclear waste and be so ‘inherently safe’ you can bury them in your back yard. Any day now.

The blind faith with which latter-day nuclear advocates approach the issues of human, ecological and economic risk associated with nuclear technologies, reminds one of the Melanesian millenarian movement called ‘cargo cults,’ in which indigenous tribes, following charismatic figures, built wooden aircraft replicas on mountain tops in the vain hopes – despite repeated failures – to lure down the western cargo planes loaded with commodities they saw flying overhead.

Or, if the definition of ‘insanity’ is: ‘persisting in behavior which consistently fails,’ neo-nuclearism is clearly a form of collective insanity – atomic psychosis.

Recovering from Nuclear Delusion
The 20th century ‘nuclear dream’ of global full-spectrum dominance and energy too cheap to meter has become a 21st century nightmare. It is time to wake up. As retired top U.S. energy administrator S. David Freeman puts it in a recent interview, “We have to kill nuclear power before it kills us.” [Video interview here:

The facts of the failure of the nuclear dream are there, for any who are not blinded by ideology or self-interest to see: in addition to its history of totalitarianism, incompetence and global disasters, nuclear energy deployment is plagued by public opposition, investor disinterest, consistently mounting cost and schedule over-runs and dependence on dwindling water supplies. Energy consultant Amory Lovins sees nuclear energy “dying a slow death from an overdose of market forces.” Futurist Jeremy Rifkin agrees, “From a business perspective, its dead.”

Then there’s the energy-weapons-waste connection, the real ‘nuclear triad.’ Not only are nuclear energy and weapons production joined at the hip from birth, but they share a dysfunctional excretory system – of which more below.

Nine Realities of which Nuclear Millenarians Dare Not Speak
Those who advocate for nuclear energy as a response to climate change, or for new nuclear weapons in pursuit of ‘national security,’ must ignore or deny an overwhelming burden of facts from the history and legacy of these nuclear technologies so far.

Here are just a few:

Genocidal Impacts on Indigenous Peoples

• Uranium mining and the deadly radioactive wastes left behind continue to have devastating effects on Native Americans and Aboriginal Australians. In the U.S., thousands of abandoned open pit uranium mines contaminate drinking and irrigation water and the air breathed by tribes across the Great Planes and the Four Corners Area.
• Nuclear weapons testing has done lasting genetic and environmental damage to Pacific Islanders in the Marshall Islands and Polynesia.

Nuclear Disasters
The Guardian lists and ranks 33 serious incidents and accidents at nuclear power stations since the first one was recorded in 1952. Of those, six happened in the US, five in Japan and three apiece in the UK and Russia. That’s an average of nearly 5 per decade.

But a report by Cornell University researchers Spencer Wheatley, Benjamin Sovacool, Didier Sornette entitled Of Disasters and Dragon Kings: A Statistical Analysis of Nuclear Power Incidents & Accidents has a database of 174 accidents worldwide since 1946.

They rate the accidents in 2013 dollars and define an accident as “an unintentional incident or event at a nuclear energy facility that led to either one death (or more) or at least $50,000 in property damage.”

They conclude

In fact, the damage of the largest event (Fukushima; March, 2011) is equal to 60 percent of the total damage of all 174 accidents in our database since 1946. In dollar losses we compute a 50% chance that (i) a Fukushima event (or larger) occurs in the next 50 years, (ii) a Chernobyl event (or larger) occurs in the next 27 years and (iii) a TMI event (or larger) occurs in the next 10 years. [emphasis added]

US Nuclear Meltdowns
There have been 8 nuclear meltdowns so far in the U.S. Contrary to popular belief, the meltdown at Three Mile Island was not the worst. That dubious honor goes to the little-reported July 12, 1959 meltdown at the Santa Susana Field Laboratory located a couple of miles from the city of Simi Valley and only about 30 miles north of Los Angeles. The radioactive contamination of the surrounding communities and environment from that event have yet to be fully acknowledged or dealt with. One of the companies involved was Southern California Edison, the major owner of San Onofre.

Nuclear Weapons Incidents
As part of his research for his book on the nuclear arms race, Command and Control – Nuclear Weapons, the Damascus Accident, and the Illusion of Safety, Eric Schlosser used the Freedom of Information Act to discover that at least 700 “significant” accidents and incidents involving 1,250 nuclear weapons were recorded between 1950 and 1968 alone. The Business Insider has a useful interactive site based on Rudolph Herzog’s A Short History of Nuclear Folly on which you can track 32 nuclear weapons accidents since 1950.

In its Status of World Nuclear Forces, the Federation of American Scientists reports the existence of

approximately 15,350 warheads as of early-2016. Of these, more than 10,000 are in the military stockpiles (the rest are awaiting dismantlement), of which almost 4,200 warheads are deployed with operational forces, of which nearly 1,800 US, Russian, British and French warheads are on high alert, ready for use on short notice.
Approximately 93 percent of all nuclear warheads are owned by Russia and the United States who each have roughly 4,500-4,700 warheads in their military stockpiles.

Former U.S. Sec. of Defense, William J. Perry says the situation is even worse:

“Today we still have over 20 thousand real world nuclear weapons. Enough to blow up everybody on the planet several times over. Those weapons pose the immediate problem of a danger of terrorism, the immediate problem of the possibility of nuclear war.
“The antagonism between Russia and the United States has reached a point now where I believe we are on the brink of a new nuclear arms race. It breaks my heart.
“Today, the danger of a nuclear catastrophe is actually higher than it was during the cold war. Let me say that again…”

The Documented Human Death Toll From Chernobyl
In 2013, the book Chernobyl: Consequences of the Catastrophe for People and the Environment was published by the New York Academy of Sciences. Its lead author was the celebrated Russian biologist Dr. Alexey Yablokov, former environmental advisor to the Russian president.

Based on some 5,000 health data, radiological surveys and scientific reports in several languages, it concludes based on records now available, 985,000 people died, mainly of cancer, as a result of the 1986 Chernobyl accident between when the accident occurred and 2004. It projects that more deaths will continue follow.

It blows away the specious claim by the International Atomic Energy Agency – whose mission is to promote nuclear energy – that the expected death toll from the Chernobyl accident will be 4,000. The book shows that the IAEA is seriously under-estimating, in the extreme, the casualties of Chernobyl – good reason to doubt its pronouncements on Fukushima.

Health Impacts on U.S. Nuclear Workers
Irradiated, a December, 2015 McClatchy investigative report by Bob Hotakainen, Lindsay Wise, Frank Matt and Samantha Ehlinger, reveals that 70 years of U.S. atomic weaponry production has so far left at least 33,480 Americans dead, with more to come.

A recent study by an international team of nine researchers looked at 308,297 workers in the nuclear industry from France, the United Kingdom, and the United States. Of 66,632 known deaths by the end of the study, 17,957 were due to solid cancers. The authors report “the risk per unit of radiation dose for cancer among radiation workers was similar to estimates derived from studies of Japanese atomic bomb survivors.” They conclude that their results “suggest a linear increase in the rate of cancer with increasing radiation exposure.” Translation: There is no ‘safe’ dose of nuclear radiation.

Environmental & Biological Impacts of Nuclear Disasters
For years, evolutionary biologist Dr. Timothy Mousseau of the University of South Carolina, has been studying the impacts of both the Chernobyl and Fukushima disasters on animals and plants in the contaminated regions.

Studies published by Mousseau and Anders Møller of the Université Paris-Sud, and their collaborators detail the effects of ionizing radiation on pine trees and birds and small animals in the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone. “When you look for these effects, you find them,” says Mousseau.

He adds that, mirroring Chernobyl results, “A growing body of empirical results from studies of birds, monkeys, butterflies, and other insects suggests that some species have been significantly impacted by the radioactive releases related to the Fukushima disaster,” Read more at:

DNA and Genetic Damage from DU weapons
U.S. wars in Former Yugoslavia, Iraq, Afghanistan, and perhaps in other places as well, have seen the extensive use of so-called ‘depleted uranium’ ammunition -uranium armor penetrators. The super hard metal projectiles, fired from tanks and aircraft, can pierce the armor of tanks and combat vehicles, volatizing into deadly toxic particles that enter the bodies of all combatants and members of the surrounding populations. U.S. and NATO soldiers returning from the wars sicken and contaminate their loved ones. The populations forced to live in permanently contaminated former battle zones suffer chronic health problems and wide-spread genetic deformities that will be passed down through the generations.

Waste Storage From Here to Eternity
An Australian study estimates there are 390,000 tons of high-level nuclear waste in the world, and nearly 10 million cubic meters of intermediate-level waste — all of it produced from nuclear power generation. That amount is growing by approximately 10,000 tons annually.‘global-need’-recommended/7167412

It is produced at every stage of the nuclear fuel chain, from uranium mining and enrichment, to reactor operation and the reprocessing of spent nuclear fuel.
Despite over seven decades of trying, no proven location or method of keeping the waste isolated from the environment has yet been found.

According to the Nuclear Energy Institute, by the middle of 2015, 30 countries worldwide were operating 438 nuclear reactors for electricity generation and 67 new nuclear plants were under construction in 15 countries.

The inevitable decommissioning of the aging world reactor fleet will create huge amounts of radioactive wastes. Once they are closed down, most of the world’s nuclear sites will require monitoring and protection for centuries. Wherever and however it is eventually stored, most of the waste will remain hazardous for hundreds of thousands of years – longer than civilization has yet existed.

I rest my case.

Neo-Nuclearists are entitled to their own opinions…but not to their own facts.

March 12, 2016 Posted by | USA | | 2 Comments

FIVE YEARS AFTER: Tougher work awaits TEPCO at Fukushima after water issue ends


Rows of massive tanks storing radiation contaminated water line at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant in February.


OKUMA, Fukushima Prefecture–The ever-increasing rows of tanks storing radioactive water continue to eat up the precious available land at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant.

Five years after the Great East Japan Earthquake and tsunami on March 11, 2011, triggered the triple meltdown at the plant, Tokyo Electric Power Co. is still struggling to bring the contaminated water problem under control.

And the utility has yet to fully tackle the more difficult and time-consuming task of actually decommissioning the ruined nuclear plant.

Each day, TEPCO circulates 300 tons of water inside the No. 1 to No. 3 reactors to cool down the melted nuclear fuel within.

In addition, groundwater keeps flowing into the damaged reactor buildings and inevitably becomes highly contaminated by the radiation.

TEPCO reuses some of this contaminated water to cool down the damaged reactors.

The rest of the water is processed through the ALPS (advanced liquid processing system) multi-nuclide removal system and other equipment to remove highly radioactive substances. The water is then stored in tanks.

The advanced decontamination equipment has helped TEPCO to reduce the amount of highly contaminated water at the plant’s compound.

But 400 to 500 tons of less contaminated water still accumulates at the plant site on a daily basis.

To reduce the amount of groundwater flowing into the reactor buildings, TEPCO initiated its “subdrain plan” in September to pump groundwater from wells dug around the reactors’ premises and release the water into the ocean after the decontamination process.

On the seaside of the reactor buildings, the utility constructed underground walls to prevent contaminated groundwater from flowing into the sea.

Also around the reactor buildings, TEPCO installed coolant pipes to create an underground frozen soil wall, which is expected to divert the clean groundwater directly to the ocean.

But this is only a stop-gap measure at best.

The number of storage tanks, which are built at the site, has reached 1,000. Rows of tanks cover most of the parking lots, green spaces and vacant areas at the Fukushima plant site. Eventually, space will run out for storing the contaminated water.

The government will start full-fledged discussions on measures to reduce the amount of less contaminated water at the plant in fiscal 2016, which starts in April.


Five years after the onset of the nuclear disaster, TEPCO has taken the first step in its decommissioning road map.

The first major challenge in decommissioning the plant is removing spent fuel from storage pools in the upper parts of the reactor buildings.

TEPCO has already removed 1,535 fuel assemblies from the No. 4 reactor, which was offline for a periodic safety check when the tsunami slammed into the plant.

However, a large amount of debris and the high radiation levels have delayed the removal of spent fuel from the No. 1 to No. 3 reactor buildings.

Work is under way to remove debris from the upper part of the No. 3 reactor building. TEPCO plans to start removing the spent fuel in fiscal 2017.

According to TEPCO’s road map, the removal of spent fuel from the No. 1 and No. 2 reactor buildings will start in fiscal 2020. But the utility has not started taking debris out of the upper part of the buildings where the fuel storage pools are located.

The toughest task will be removing the melted fuel inside the No. 1 to 3 reactor containment vessels.

The locations and amount of melted fuel inside the reactors remain largely unknown. Extremely high radiation levels in the reactor containment vessels have prevented workers from analyzing the conditions. Even remote-controlled survey robots have failed to readily approach the core areas.

The preferred way to remove the melted fuel is the “water-covered method.” It involves pumping in water to fill the reactor containment vessels to the upper part and removing the fuel while the water keeps radiation exposure of the workers at low levels.

The government and TEPCO are also considering the “airborne method” if contaminated water keeps leaking from the containment vessels. Under this method, water would fill only the bottom part of the containment vessels, and the melted fuel would be removed through the air.

The two parties also need to develop special equipment to remove the melted fuel and keep it safely stored in containers.

They estimate the decommissioning process will take 30 to 40 years. But they have not specified the conditions that can finally bring an end to the nuclear disaster.


March 12, 2016 Posted by | Fukushima 2016 | , , , | Leave a comment

Fukushima Five Years On: Not a Comedy of Errors, a Calamity of Terrors

Since it began March 11, 2011, thousands of freelancers have reported on the Fukushima-Daiichi triple reactor meltdowns and radiation gusher, the deluge of accidents, leaks, faulty cleanup efforts, the widespread contamination of workers, citizens, soil, food and water, and the long series of cancer studies, lawsuits, and ever-changing clean-up and decommissioning plans. As Japan Times reports last October, “Extremely high radiation levels and the inability to grasp the details about melted nuclear fuel make it impossible for [Tokyo Electric Power Co.] to chart the course of its planned decommissioning of the reactors.”

The journalism is partly a response to the lack of mainstream US news coverage, and partly a warning against similar radiation disasters risked in the United States every day by the operation of 23 identical GE reactors (Fukushima clones) in this country.

Japanese media coverage of the catastrophe in English, along with analysis by independent scientists, researchers, and institutes is mostly available online and much of it is reliable.

Five years into the crisis, officials from Tepco have said leaks from the wreckage with “at least” two trillion Becquerels of radioactivity entered the Pacific between August 2013 and May 2014. “At least” is vague enough to beg the question: Is the actual total 5 trillion; 25; 50? Relentless drainage of contaminated water from the site is estimated to be about 300 tons a day and has continued for 60 months. “We should be carefully monitoring the oceans after what is the largest accidental release of radioactive contaminants to the oceans in history,” researcher Ken Buesseler, of the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute said last September.

However, Japan isn’t even monitoring seawater near Fukushima, according to The Ecologist.

Greenpeace launches study of 300-year effect on oceans

On Feb. 26, Greenpeace International launched a major investigation into the gusher’s effects on the Pacific Ocean near the wrecked Fukushima complex in Northeast Japan. The group said in a press release that its investigation will employ an underwater vehicle with a sensitive gamma radiation “Spectrometer,” and a sediment sampler.

Greenpeace noted that, “In addition to the initial release of liquid nuclear waste during the first weeks of the accident, and the daily releases ever since, contamination has also flowed from the land itself, particularly nearby forests and mountains of Fukushima, and are expected to continue to contaminate the Pacific Ocean for at least the next 300 years.”

Former Japanese Prime Minister Naoto Kan, who headed the government in 2011, joined the Greenpeace crew aboard the Rainbow Warrior on the opening day of its study, and Kan used the occasion to call for a Germany-like total phase-out of nuclear power.

“I once believed Japan’s advanced technology would prevent a nuclear accident like Chernobyl from happening in Japan,” Kan said. “But it did not, and I was faced with the very real crisis of having to evacuate 50 million people… Instead, we should shift to safer and cheaper renewable energy.”

Shaun Burnie, Senior Nuclear Specialist with Greenpeace Germany said, “There is an urgent need to understand the impact this contamination is having on the ocean — how radioactivity is both dispersing and concentrating — and its implications.”

“Tepco failed to prevent a multiple reactor meltdown and five years later it’s still an ongoing disaster. It has no credible solution to the water crisis they created and is failing to prevent further contamination of the Pacific Ocean,” Burnie said.

Criminal charges leveled against reactor execs

The first criminal charges against executives of Tepco were filed Feb. 29 alleging that three officials refused to take precautionary measures that could have prevented the loss of off-site power (known as “station blackout”), and the resulting complete meltdown, or melt-through, of reactor fuel in three units. Specifically, the three are accused of negligence resulting in death and injury, having ignored explicit professional warnings about the inadequate height of the seawall, and about the improper placement (in basements) of emergency diesel generators which were destroyed by tsunami. Many of the 14,000 Japanese citizens who signed on to the lawsuit said their action was taken partly to force disclosure at trial of important information still kept secret by Tepco.

Starting from scratch with no textbook

Last October, four-½ years into the unprecedented self-destruction of three-reactors in one place, Japan’s Atomic Energy Agency opened an institute “to develop” techniques to inspect and eventually decommission the three leaky ruins. Because of the vast, daunting and novel complexity of three melted reactors, the new “Remote Technology Development Center” is starting from scratch. That’s right: No one now knows how to disassemble and safely containerize the ferociously radioactive wreckage — times three.

Naohiro Masuda, Tepco’s chief of decontamination and decommissioning, told the AP Dec. 18, “This is something that’s never been experienced. A textbook doesn’t exist for something like this.” Radiation levels inside the cores are too high for even for robots to make useful inspections.

The ultimate goal of dismantling work is to remove the melted uranium fuel. Researchers don’t yet know how to patch massive quake-caused cracks in chambers under the failed reactors, which release tons of highly contaminated water every day. The new institute is tasked with inventing a first-ever technique to find and plug the leaks. The chambers must be made watertight, because removal of the melted fuel has to be done remotely and under water.

Planners must also invent a system of possible routes by which to remove the hundreds of tons of still-unseen melted fuel, and they’ve been told to find new ways of reducing radiation doses to workers conducting the mission.

Two mayors agree to host waste dumpsites

After first opposing the government’s plans, two towns in Fukushima Prefecture have agreed to Tokyo’s proposal for using them for “permanent” radioactive waste disposal. The sites, one at an existing private facility in Tomioka, and another at Naraha, have been chosen for disposal of “designated waste” in exchange for bribes, including the construction of an industrial park and subsidies worth about $81 million.

“Designated waste” is rubbish with between 8,000 and 100,000 Becquerels of radioactivity per kilogram. Confusingly, the Japan Times called this deadly refuse “low-level nuclear waste,” while the Asahi Shimbun called it “highly radioactive.”

The Tomioka facility, now run by Ecotech Clean Center, will be nationalized and will then bury some 650,000 cubic meters of designated waste which is mostly incinerator ash, sewage sludge and rice straw. It is a small fraction of the estimated 22 million cubic meters of waste that’s been collected in large black bags and stored outdoors at thousands of sites in 11 prefectures.

Waste with higher radiation levels is to be kept at temporary facilities being built near the doomed reactor complex.

Another proposal from the Ministry of Industry is to bury high-level radioactive waste under the seabed. Experts who made the idea public said such waste could be transported by ship, but this raised alarms about transfer mishaps, transport accidents, groundings, breakups, and sinkings of cargo ships.

Pollution solution: Declare safe today what was unsafe yesterday

Following the start of the ongoing disaster, the government’s official allowable public external radiation exposure was arbitrarily raised. One milliSievert (mSv) per year was raised to 20 mSv for residents in areas affected with radioactive fallout. For radiation workers in the nuclear industry the annual limit was raised from 100 mSv to 250 mSv. This had the double effect of both saving the industry billions in cleanup costs, and increasing radiation-induced health effects — especially in women, fetuses, infants, and children.

Robert Hunzinker reported in CounterPunch Dec. 14 that Physicians for Social Responsibility has warned that the new “allowable dose” means there’s a 1 in 200 risk of children getting cancer in the first year; and over two years the risk increases to 1 in 100.

Sea wall making matters worse

In October, Tepco completed a deep seawall dug into the shore between the ocean and the wrecked reactors. Intended to halt the flow of contaminated groundwater to the Pacific, the dam has cause groundwater levels to rise behind the wall. Now, in an attempt to fix the problem caused by the wall, Tepco dug new wells to pump backed-up groundwater, planning to dump less-contaminated groundwater from new wells into the sea. But the water is so heavily poisoned with tritium that sea dumping was not allowed. Now the company is pumping and dumping the fast rising groundwater into severely radioactive reactor buildings — where the water will become even more contaminated by passing over the mass of hot melted fuel inside. It’s not really a comedy of errors, but a calamity of terrors.

March 12, 2016 Posted by | Fukushima 2016 | , , | Leave a comment

Japan Olympics minister backs Fukushima as host venue for 2020


Toshiaki Endo, center, minister in charge of the 2020 Tokyo Olympics

TOKYO – Japan’s Olympics minister says he hopes Fukushima prefecture can host preliminary rounds of baseball and softball at the 2020 Games.

Toshiaki Endo made the comments Friday on the fifth anniversary of a magnitude 9.0-earthquake that struck offshore and triggered a devastating tsunami, killing more than 18,000 people.

The Fukushima nuclear power plant spewed radiation after being hit by the tsunami. About 180,000 people in the northeastern region of Japan remain displaced because of the disaster.

Local organizers have recommended to the International Olympic Committee that baseball and softball be added to the program for the 2020 Games, allowing areas outside Tokyo to host events.

Other prefectures in the region will host games at the Rugby World Cup in 2019 and first-round soccer matches at the 2020 Olympics.

Japan Olympics minister backs Fukushima as host venue for 2020



March 12, 2016 Posted by | Fukushima 2016 | , | Leave a comment

Fukushima+5, Part 6. “Dose” does not exist, only exposure


The onset of the Fukushima nuclear disaster on March 11, 2011 set off a new round of anti-nuclear protest across the world so large even the U.S. NRC was forced to take notice.

About 300 people gathered in the Diet Offices to commemorate the Tohoku earthquake, tsunami and Tepco’s meltdowns. Hosted by Friends of the Earth Japan and a large network of NGOs in Japan working on every nuclear concern, including continued aid and support to Chernobyl victims, this was a national-scale event. At 2:46 we paused to silently mark the time of the quake.

A number of people I have met previously on this tour are here. It feels good to have new friends here.

What follows is a piece I wrote in anticipation for this day. I know it is long. I hope some will read it through. It is Mary’s Manifesto on radiation, but I feel with some certainty that Rosalie Bertell would support it!

The Nuclear Dose Emperors Have No Clothes
It is now five years since three reactors melted down (and out of containment). Arnie Gundersen does not know where the melted fuel is, but he is pretty confident that it has now been cooled, and continues to be cooled to the point where it is not melting any more. He thinks maybe it is through all the metal containment, but still in the concrete of the reactor building floor. Huge amounts of radioactivity are still there, on-site, but huge amounts are distributed to the land, ground and surface waters, plants, animals children and to the men and women of Japan. And then there is the Pacific Ocean…

Interesting that the paper reports the UN Agency as saying the doses from 2012 on will not cause health problems… Does that mean they are admitting that the doses from 2011 definitely will?

The various official bodies really do not know how to think about radioactivity in an environment where people of all ages are living. Their thinking has been formed by the atomic workers of the world (all adult males) and the Hibakusha of Hiroshima and Nagasaki and a few other cases. The A-Bomb study was of a single acute dose of external radiation, much more like X-rays than like living in a “hot zone.”

We now have confirmation from Richardson, et all that many small radiation exposures over an extended time that add up deliver the same level of harm to a body as did the A-Bomb.
Citation: Risk of cancer from occupational exposure to ionizing radiation: retrospective cohort study of workers in France, the United Kingdom, and the United States (INWORKS). David B Richardson, et al. BMJ 2015;351:h5359 doi: 10.1136/bmj.h5359

Today, Lakota children in the Black Hills of the Dakotas and other uranium contaminated areas; children in Kazakhstan, Marshall Islands, Utah and other nuclear weapons test areas, children still living in contaminated areas of Ukraine and Belarus, and those living here in Japan are all effectively “swimming in radioactive “soup.” More exposure one day, less another but breathing, drinking, eating radioactivity across their lives. Here is the fundamental point that is missing from the regulator’s thinking: every adult was a child. From 2011 on, here in Japan, all children in contaminated areas (some far beyond Fukushima) are impacted to one degree or another.

Any calculation that assumes that exposure began after adulthood was attained applies only to the adults of 2011 and before. The adults that emerge from the children of Daiichi are different. They will likely continue to be exposed as adults, but the deal is done: any radiological damage in childhood will dominate. The cancers will likely come in adulthood, but not primarily from exposure as adults. This will continue. All the projections on health consequences imagine that for the rest of time there will be adults who were not exposed as children. This is magical thinking for these hot zones.

We can hope that people will leave. We know some people are paid to come in. But we cannot really imagine a real estate boon in Fukushima Prefecture. The deal is done.


Mary Olson speaks at a Fukushima anniversary event in Japan’s Diet Building,

March 11, 2016.

Another way to speak of childhood exposure to radiation is that it is an “opportunity cost” in terms of an individual who has been exposed as a child ever fitting the assumptions the regulators use about adults. Regulators tag age groups in a large hypothetical population. They do not assume that their “adults” were exposed from birth on. People growing up in contaminated areas do become adults. They do continue to be exposed, but their exposures as children make them a different category of adult when it comes to “risk.” Most regulators do not consider this. No regulation factors the gender difference.

Radiation regulators exercise powers of life and death and like that story of an Emperor who thinks he is wearing magical cloth, it is time, once again to to point and say “Look! You are naked!” These emperors of radiation regulation are clothed in mumbo jumbo of “dose” and “risk” and “keep the people confused.” None of this is real.

Japan Diary 4 tells the story of age and gender as factors in radiation harm. We can no longer say that “a millirem is a millirem.” It matters WHO is getting that exposure. What age? What gender? Likely we will someday learn about other important factors.

We could hypothetically make new units (infant-female millirem vs elderly-woman millirem vs Reference-Man millirem) but the concept of DOSE itself is beginning to fall apart in other ways. Following is a short peak at some of the fabric of evidence that our regulators (emperors) do not consider. Together these are why I join others who question the very basis of current radiation regulation. If enough people get these points, we will all point and say “you are naked!”

Point 1: It matters WHO gets exposed;

Point 2: “Dose” is an idea from chemistry and does not fit radiation harm;

My good friend Dennis Nelson points out that damage to cells from radiation is primarily physical, from energetic particles and waves. Dennis posits that “dose” is deeply rooted in chemistry where a substance can be either “safe” or “poisonous” and the difference depends on the mass of the substance that is introduced into the body. In this case, of poison, there is some level that is safe. In radiation exposure there is no level that is safe, just a higher statistical probability of disease or death when impacted by a larger number of particle or ray emissions. (See: As I first read in Dr Helen Caldicott’s Nuclear Madness (updated in 1992), it takes only one living cell and a single radioactive emission in order to have the potential for a fatal cancer. It is this fact which should remove radiation from any concept of “dose.”

It is true that elements like uranium and plutonium area also toxic (poisonous). Here I am focusing on radiological impacts only, but those who live with uranium and plutonium contamination need to know there is a “double-header” of both!

Point 3: Radioactive decay makes a different kind of chaos in our biochemistry

In 1984 I had a job as Assistant in Research in a lab at Yale. I got contaminated with a radioactive element common in biological research: Phosphorus-32 (P32). Some of the exposure was internal. Like all radioactive elements, the body responds to the chemical characteristics: cesium is similar to potassium so it tracks to muscle; strontium is similar to calcium so it finds its way to bones, teeth and Mother’s milk; phosphorus has many routes in the body—in the lab we used it to track neural activity, but also tracks to the DNA itself. Sort of like giving the bank-robber a bank-guard uniform.

P32 has a 2 week half-life, making it pretty highly radioactive. When the radioactive decay step happens, the atom is no longer phosphorus, but becomes the stable atom, Sulphur32. Here is the rub: if the body has incorporated the phosphorus into a molecule, suddenly the molecule (with no warning) now has a Sulphur atom where it thought it had a phosphorus; particularly troubling inside a DNA strand.

Other radionuclides create similar chaos as they decay.

Point 4: Invisible bullets is the best way to describe impact of ionizing radiation and there is a much wider range of harm than only “ionization;”

I don’t want to get too far into the weeds here. My readers are not generally chemists or biophysicists, but suffice it to say, industrial fission is less than 100 years old. Regulation of radiation exposure is only a little older than fission, and came soon after the concentration of radium by Marie Curie and her cadre of researchers. Doctors quickly adopted radiation because it was observed to kill growths (tumors) of various kinds. (For a great read on this history, find Catherine Caulfield’s Multiple Exposures, 1989, now available on


Nonetheless, anyone can follow this: It is true that a radioactive wave or particle does knock an electron off of another atom (likely in a molecule). When the electron is knocked off, the remaining configuration now has a “charge” because the electron (minus) is gone. All of radiation regulation is based on measuring the production of ions in living tissue in response to X-rays. The details of other radioactive events (decay via emission of alpha, beta and neutrons) are mixed in, but the fundamental concept of “dose” comes from the simple measurement of ions generated by exposure.

While it is true that these ions can be very damaging to the cell, and even neighboring cells, there is no similar evaluation for direct physical damage to cell structures (much greater impacts than knocking off an electron). This includes:

Damage to cell membranes
Chromosomal breaks and other deformations
Mitochondrial damage
Primary germ cell damage

This list of types of cellular damage are more likely from internalized alpha particles and beta particles. For years the radiation regulators have ignored internal exposure, and attributed zero-dose to alpha particles since they bounce off the skin. Inside the body (inhaled, ingested or injected) they are many times (some estimates as high as 1000 times) more harmful than an X-ray/gamma ray.

Here are simple reasons why this makes sense. The alpha particle (an energetic bundle of 2 protons and 2 neutrons) is enormous compared to the wave of energy (no mass) and even compared to the beta (electron-sized). Does a cannon ball do more damage than a BB?

Where internal exposure has been considered a really bizarre concept of “effective dose equivalent” is used by the emperors of radiation. While there are mitigating parameters, such as inclusion of weighting factors derived from organ-doses studies (from equally inhuman experimentation in the U.S.), the whole approach exceeds credibility: the regulators decide how much ionization the internalized radionuclide is likely causing and then they distribute those ionizations as if they were to the whole body. Averaging the high local dose across the entire body mass–with no recognition that the energy to break a chromosome is local–that the concept of “dose” from external exposures includes distance from the source as a factor. When the source is internal, distance for the immediate tissues drops to zero. This is a quantum change, not a simple matter of degree.

Let’s get to it: dose is irrelevant in this picture.

Final Point 5: No two radiation exposures result in the same harm; every is unique.

Dr. Donnell Boardman was a physician in Massachusetts who treated some of the first nuclear power workers. Donnell told me (he was retired when I met him) that no two radiation exposures, including to the same person, are ever identical. Donnell liken radioactivity’s impact on living tissue to car collisions. We do not expect to find any two accidents that are identical. Donnell saw hundreds of nuclear workers and he said that nearly every story and the problems the individuals faced were unique.

Radiation is a physical event, but it depends as much on the body and the unique chain of events at the cellular level to determine the outcome. The broad-brush dose-response work done on adults is important, but the projections based on it just do not hold water.

Radiation Regulators: you have no clothes.

Mary Olson

March 11, 2016


March 12, 2016 Posted by | Fukushima 2016 | , , , | Leave a comment

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


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 grim topic, but you will meet wonderful people who care about nuclear waste.”

She told me that the Shoshone People know this; she said, “It is a Law of the Universe.” What?!? She explained that uranium in the ground is neutral, but when people dig it up it becomes more and more negative. Inside a reactor uranium becomes the most negative thing on the planet. Shoshones know that the Universe IS in balance (in contrast to Judeo/Christian folks who think it “should” be). Thus, it is a Law that the most positive people drop what they are doing and pay attention to the most negative thing (nuclear energy/weapons).

This response from positive people of great integrity is the first, initial step; she explained there would be many more steps before nuclear fuel/waste is finally balanced.


Three of the dedicated activists working in Japan and helping with this tour. From left to right, Steve Leeper, Peace Culture Village and tour organizer; Naoko Koizumi brilliant translator (my “bridge”); and Tamiko Nishijima of Peace Platform, our glue.


Here in this land of Fission Products (the contamination is at varying levels well beyond Fukushima Prefecture, see, Arnie will be sharing more news in coming months from samples he has shipped home), I am meeting these many, many positive people.
Five years in, some are tired. Others are just beginning to realize that the Tepco disaster is not over. I think there is real potential for organizers now and Japan is blessed with some outstanding activists and service organizations. The focus for Green Action and other NGO allies is to stop the re-start of the reactors that have been on “atomic holiday” since March 2011.

NEWS! Since I began this Diary edition, my e-mail inbox tells me that a court has just issued the decision that Kansai Electric must reverse and take two Takahama nuclear reactors off-line. One unit had been lurching towards full operation after five years of no fission. It is a huge win for Green Action and all its allies that have been working to keep Japan fission-free! The ruling states that emergency planning for Takahama is not sufficient. The local activists I met were focused on what the reality of evacuation in Kyoto Prefecture could be. The largest cities near Takahama are over the Prefecture (“state”) line in Kyoto.

The report also specifies that the plan for MOX fuel use in Takahama is also insufficient! Green Action and Allies are working hard, in addition to stopping reactor re-start, to reverse the Japanese industry and federal commitment to MOX fuel.

Plutonium from reactor waste has been separated by the European nuclear giants (at one time BNFL and still AREVA) and AREVA is fabricating MOX fuel for use in the Japanese reactors as they restart. This pro-nuclear notion is profoundly disturbed thinking. MOX was in Fukushima Daiichi Unit-3 (only a small fraction, probably less than 5%). There is still expert debate about the difference between the explosions at Units 1, 2 and 3, but Arnie Gundersen has said many times there was a detonation shockwave at Unit 3, that hydrogen cannot cause that, and the MOX fuel may have had a role in what happened there.

Takahama had a small amount of MOX in the core as it limped towards restart. The plan remains to load 30% plutonium fuel there (if the plans are deemed sufficient in the future—we hope not!) Dr. Edwin Lyman ( has done the calculations to show that when a MOX core is released in a major reactor accident, the long-term cancers that would result are twice the number from a regular uranium (LEU) core accident. Ed made that calculation initially during the NIX MOX campaign that NIRS and IEER led and UCS supported, before 2000. Long before the gender factor (see Blog 4).

It has taken traveling around the world to have this MOX thought come home:


A nuclear accident involving a fully-loaded MOX core could double the numbers in this chart based on an accident from a normal uranium core: 6 women for every 4 men could expect to suffer from a fatal cancer.

Double cancers in the MOX case for Reference Man = double cancers for little girls too. Juvenile girls when exposed will get ten times more cancer over their lives than the Reference Man (same dose, different gender, different age). Double that for a MOX fuel accident. The ratio is the same comparing the little girl to the adult man, MOX to MOX, but for policy decision making, one must now look at the consequences of a MOX accident compared to an LEU accident. Now female children will suffer twenty times more cancer compared to the Reference Man in a LEU accident.

Again: females exposed as girls, to fission products from MOX fuel in a major reactor accident would get twenty times more cancer than Reference Man exposed to LEU.

If this is not a reason for all good people to oppose MOX fuel use…what will it take?

It was deeply gratifying to me when I spoke in Northern Kyoto Prefecture and a grandmother at the back of the room began chanting “Nix MOX Takahama, Nix MOX Takahama!” NIRS launched the US grassroots NIX MOX campaign in 1996. It continues!

We are, all of us, a Law of the Universe. I am now getting ready for three of my largest events:
Citizen Nuclear Information Center talk, College Women’s Association of Japan Luncheon, and on Friday, March 11, the 5th Anniversary of the Tohoku quake and tsunami triggering the Tepco Fukushima Daiichi meltdowns, I will join NGO’s from the region at the Japanese Diet.

Mary Olson

March 10, 2016


March 12, 2016 Posted by | Fukushima 2016 | , , , | Leave a comment

Fukushima disaster sheds light on lack of preparedness for compensation

fuk expenses estimate


The crisis at the tsunami-hit Fukushima No. 1 Nuclear Power Plant has shed light on a lack of preparedness on the part of the government and utilities to pay massive amounts of compensation for a nuclear accident, which has placed a burden on the public.
At a panel of experts at the Japan Atomic Energy Commission (AEC), there have been calls since this past January for reviewing the current system under which nuclear plant operators are responsible for paying compensation for accidents without limits and setting an upper limit on damages.

“The number of nuclear power plant operators could decrease as long as they are required to bear risks exceeding their limits,” one member said.

“It’s important for operators to bear responsibility for such accidents on condition that they could have predicted such disasters,” another stated.

These problems emerged because operators cannot ascertain risks involving the operation of atomic power stations unless they can estimate the amount of compensation for accidents.

However, others in the panel argued that operators would cut back on their investment in safety measures unless they are to bear unlimited responsibility. As such, the overall direction of debate on the issue has not been set.

Under the current nuclear plant accident compensation system, atomic power station operators bear unlimited responsibility for compensation for accidents except in cases of massive natural disasters. However, there is no clear definition of “massive natural disasters,” and the national government is only required to extend the necessary assistance for efforts to deal with such accidents.

Following the outbreak of the Fukushima nuclear disaster, the national government placed Tokyo Electric Power Co. (TEPCO), the operator of the stricken plant, effectively under state control by providing the firm with an infusion of 1 trillion yen in public funds.

The government then created a system under which it loans necessary money for compensation payments to TEPCO via the Nuclear Damage Compensation and Decommissioning Facilitation Corp. (NDF) without interest. Thus the situation in which TEPCO would go under and become unable to pay compensation to victims of the nuclear crisis has been avoided.

When it placed TEPCO under de-facto state control, the central government explained that the operator of the plant would shoulder the responsibility in principle. However, the reality is different from the government explanation.

Kenichi Oshima, professor at Ritsumeikan University, estimates the total cost of dealing with the nuclear crisis at 13.3 trillion yen. The estimated cost includes 6.2 trillion yen to pay compensation, 2.5 trillion to decontaminate areas tainted by radioactive substances, 2.2 trillion yen to decommission reactors and bring the disaster under control, and 1.1 trillion yen to build interim storage facilities for waste contaminated with radioactive materials.

Of the total amount, TEPCO is likely to pay just over 3 trillion yen on its own, including part of the cost for bringing the crisis under control and paying compensation.

Most of the money needed to pay compensation will be secured from “general contributions” that operators of nuclear plants extend to the NDF. Much of the contributions are passed onto electricity bills consumers pay to utilities. Taxpayers’ money will be spent on the construction of interim storage facilities. Decontamination costs, which the government temporarily foots, will be covered with proceeds from the sales of shares the government holds in TEPCO to lessen the burden on the utility.

“The public is required to effectively shoulder over 70 percent of the costs. The public is being required to pay the costs in a way that lacks transparency,” Oshima said.

If the response to the accident progresses to a certain extent and TEPCO has rehabilitated itself, the government can recover the money it invested in the utility and prevent any increase in the burden on the public. However, this is no easy task.

A high-ranking official of TEPCO’s Kawasaki Thermal Power Plant says it has been successful in streamlining its regular checkup on its generators, shortening the checkup period, increasing the ratio of operation of the latest and most efficient generators and raising the profits by up to hundreds of millions of yen a day.

Learning how to rationalize operations from a worker who had previously worked for Toyota Motor Corp., the plant monitored plant workers’ moves by seconds to reduce time wasting.

“We succeeded in reducing the checkup period, which used to be 80 days in the pre-quake period, to 60 days,” the official said.

However, the increase in profits is attributable mainly to a sharp decline in oil prices. TEPCO posted a pretax profit of 436.2 billion yen in the April-December 2015 period on a consolidated basis. This is largely because fuel costs decreased by about 730 billion yen from the corresponding period of the previous year. If crude oil prices increase, it will offset reductions in expenses.

If the idled Kashiwazaki-Kariwa Nuclear Power Plant in Niigata Prefecture is to be reactivated, it will increase TEPCO’s monthly profits by 8 to 13 billion yen per reactor. However, there are no prospects that the plant can be reactivated in the foreseeable future.

If the government is to use the proceeds from its sales of TEPCO shares to fully cover decontamination expenses, the value of one share must exceed 1,000 yen. However, the current price is about the half that amount.

The government and electric power companies had promoted the use of atomic power by emphasizing that its costs are low. However, they failed to include risks of accidents and safety measures in power generation costs, and where the responsibility for nuclear accidents lies has remained unclear. As a result, members of the public are being forced to foot the costs and TEPCO is allowed to survive.

A system under which the government and private sector share the burden of nuclear accidents in an appropriate manner has not yet been established.


March 12, 2016 Posted by | Fukushima 2016 | , , , | Leave a comment