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Evacuation lifted for Fukushima village; only 10% preparing return

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Lights appears at only a few houses in Katsurao, Fukushima Prefecture, on June 11, the eve of the government’s lifting of the evacuation order following the 2011 nuclear accident. Waste from decontamination operations is covered with sheets in the foreground. (Yosuke Fukudome)

The government on June 12 lifted the evacuation order for Katsurao, a village northwest of the crippled Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant, but most of the residents appear reluctant to return home.

The lifting of the order covers more than 90 percent of the households in Katsurao. The entire village was ordered to evacuate after the crisis at the Fukushima plant started to unfold on March 11, 2011.

Katsurao is the fourth municipality in Fukushima Prefecture that had the evacuation order lifted, following the Miyakoji district in Tamura, the eastern area of Kawauchi village and Naraha.

Government officials said cleanup and other efforts have reduced radiation levels in Katsurao to a point that poses little problem. The lifting of the evacuation order means that 1,347 people from 418 households, out of 1,466 people from 451 households in Katsurao, can return to their homes to live in the village.

But only 126 people from 53 households, or 10 percent of those eligible to return, have signed up for a program for extended stays in the village to prepare for their return, according to Katsurao officials.

The officials said they believe that many evacuees would rather go back and forth between temporary housing and their homes in Katsurao for the time being, given the situation in the village.

Medical institutions and shops have yet to resume operations in Katsurao. And nearly half of the rice paddies there are being used for the temporary storage of radioactive waste produced in the cleanup operation.

Local officials say they have no idea when the waste can be moved out of the village for permanent storage.

Among the Katsurao residents eligible to return are those with homes in the government-designated “residence restricted zone,” where the annual radiation dose was projected at more than 20 millisieverts and up to 50 millisieverts as of March 2012.

This was the first time evacuees from such a zone have been permitted to return home.

Only the “difficult-to-return zone” carries a higher annual radiation dose.

The government plans to lift evacuation orders for other parts of the prefecture by the end of March 2017, except for the “difficult-to-return zone,” where the annual radiation dose was estimated at 50 millisieverts or higher as of March 2012.

The additional lifting of the evacuation orders would allow 46,000 of 70,000 displaced residents to return to their homes to live.

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

Demolition work delay hinders Fukushima villagers’ homecoming


Farmer Hidenori Endo is seen at the empty lot where his home used to stand in Katsurao, Fukushima Prefecture, on June 6, 2016.

FUKUSHIMA — Though the nuclear disaster evacuation order for the Fukushima Prefecture village of Katsurao is set to be lifted on June 12, just 14 percent of demolition work needed before homes can be rebuilt has been completed.

The village currently comprises three evacuation statuses: “areas preparing for the lifting of evacuation orders” with annual accumulated radiation doses of 20 millisieverts or less; “restricted residency zones” with annual accumulated radiation doses from over 20 millisieverts to 50 millisieverts; and “difficult-to-return zones.” As of June 12, the 1,347 residents from 418 households in the former two categories will be allowed to move back home. A return schedule for the 119 residents from 33 households with homes in areas in the last category has yet to be determined as radiation levels remain high.

A survey by the village government showed that nearly 50 percent of residents wished to return home. However, as of June 8 only 126 people, or less than 10 percent of residents, had registered to stay overnight in preparation for their complete return.

The Environment Ministry began demolishing houses in 2012 for those who wanted to rebuild their homes in 11 Fukushima Prefecture municipalities subject to nuclear disaster evacuation orders. Of 347 demolition requests in Katsurao, only 14 percent have been completed. Officials say that field research and paperwork are taking time. Overall, a little less than 40 percent of requested work has been done in all 11 municipalities.

Eight municipalities — including Katsurao and the city of Minamisoma, where evacuation orders are to be lifted on July 12 — are requesting the central government to speed up demolition work as the delay is hindering residents’ return to their hometowns. A senior Katsurao village official says locals have been complaining about the demolition work not advancing as planned.

The Environment Ministry hopes to complete about 90 percent of demolition work by March 2017 by streamlining paperwork, but many residents are expected to be unable to return home even after evacuation orders are lifted, as it will take time to rebuild houses after the demolition is completed.

A ministry official explained that there are people who will be able to return home immediately after the evacuation order is lifted, and that it would be inappropriate to keep the orders in place until all the demolition work is done. At the same time, the official said that the ministry will give those who wish to return priority in the demolition work schedule.

Fukushima University social welfare professor Fuminori Tamba, who helped map out disaster recovery plans for municipalities under evacuation orders, pointed out that the lack of progress in demolitions is problematic, since securing housing is the minimum requirement for residents to return. He added that the availability of housing should be considered when lifting evacuation orders.

Katsurao farmer and cattle rancher Hidenori Endo, 74, applied for demolition of his decaying home and barn last summer. Tired of waiting, Endo paid a private firm nearly 10 million yen to tear down the buildings in May.

“I wanted to go home as soon as possible,” Endo said.

He now lives in a temporary housing unit in the town of Miharu, about 30 kilometers from his Katsurao home. Endo travels an hour by car daily to his property to restart his farming business, but taking good care of his cattle is difficult to do going back and forth. To reboot his business, Endo first needs to rebuild his home. Construction work is to begin this summer, but he does not yet know when the work will be completed, and will have to live in the temporary housing for at least another year.

The central government has set prerequisites, such as infrastructure development and operation of everyday services, for lifting nuclear crisis evacuation orders. However, housing is not included in these criteria.

“Even if I could go shopping, there isn’t much I could do if there was no place to live. It’s not right to be unable to return to home even with the evacuation order gone,” Endo lamented.

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

Nuclear disasters and “normalization” of contaminated areas

Fukushima 311 forever remembered

Translated by Kingsley Osborn

Political, economic, health, democratic and ethical

The nuclear lobby is beginning to openly assert that the evacuation of populations affected by a major nuclear accident is too expensive, is the source of lots of hassles, accidents, despair families, ruin the local economy.
To some additional cancers it will not be worth it to impose populations.

Sezin TOPÇU is PhD in sociology of science and technology, she is a researcher at the National Scientific Research Centre (CNRS) and teaches at the School for Advanced Studies in the Social Sciences (EHESS). She is the author of “Nuclear France. The art of governing disputed technology “(Le Seuil, 2013) and co-edited the book” Another story of the postwar boom. Modernization and pollution disputes in France after the war “(with Christophe Bonneuil Céline and Pessis, La Découverte, 2013).

Here is the introduction to his analysis:
Minimizing impacts of a catastrophic nuclear accident is set to become a classic of our time, and not only in countries where the presence of nuclear installations is important, such as France, or in countries that have already undergone an accident, such as Japan and Belarus, but also in countries that do not. This minimization, which seems to impose forcefully, is the ability to “resilience” of specialists in nuclear, that is to say, industrialists, nuclear states, and certain regulatory bodies, both national and international.

How the specialists in nuclear-they managed to trivialize the radioactive wrong with that? By what means, strategies and watchwords governing bodies have managed to formulate the problem in terms of evacuation procedures and even its legitimacy, when we should collectively discuss the legitimacy to continue to make use of facilities that have potential for processing and destruction unparalleled in the territories, natural resources, living species, and human body?
from these questions, this paper aims to contribute to the emergence of a political debate and citizen which is long overdue, around the issue of contaminated territories in case of nuclear accident.

Three Mile Island? The French nuclear officials there saw immediately that an “incident” or a “glitch”. Chernobyl? In 1996 again, the World Health Organization (WHO) only accounted for 32 deaths. Fukushima? The disaster paradoxically accelerated the offensive of the Japanese nuclear industry for exports. No other sector causes, accident, such bitter controversy and permanent (with expertise, evidence / no-evidence, observations, assessments and also contrasting and contradictory), on health impacts experienced by affected populations.

Beyond the very serious consequences on the health of populations, whose proof or recognition are made difficult due to the latency that require radiation-induced diseases to manifest itself, but also the secret or active factory ignorance that often surround them, a nuclear accident also means the sacrifice of entire territories.
the challenge for specialists in nuclear, since the 1990s at least, is indeed to minimize the sacrifice in the eyes of public opinion. To ensure that the renunciation of land does not occur, or only take place only temporarily. A instrumentalize, for this suffering, certainly real but no singular evacuees to believe that those who remain on their land, even though they would offer more than enough healthy living conditions, suffer for nothing. A claim that may well “learn to live” with ambient radioactivity.

The first part of this note reviews the genesis of panel discussions, legal arrangements and managerial tools for the management of contaminated territories. This is to recall that the unmanageable nature of damage caused by a major nuclear accident has been recognized by the nuclear experts in the 1950s, which has historically conditioned the doctrine prevailing today, whereby post-accident measures (including the abandonment of contaminated areas) will necessarily be limited or should be optimized.

The second part of the note looks at how the contaminated territories have been effectively treated in post-Chernobyl and post-Fukushima. Socio-economic and geo-political criteria that influence how to design the future of the evacuated areas, their status, and they could not “return to normal” are analyzed here.

The last part of the note stresses the importance of official strategies to psychologizing disasters to minimize abandonment of contaminated land, but also to push into the background the prospect of a fair assessment of the health damage caused in the event accident.

To read the entire article: The Show as PDF (400KB) The view on the EPF website

The website of the Foundation for Political Ecology:

We’ve been warned: the next nuclear accident, we will be strongly urged to stay or return to live on contaminated territories.

Catastrophes nucléaires et « normalisation » des zones contaminées

June 12, 2016 Posted by | Nuclear | , | Leave a comment

Tepco to inject cement instead of frozen water wall



On 6/2/2016, Tepco reported to NRA (Nuclear Regulation Authority) that they need to inject cement to “frozen” water wall and NRA admitted it.

The feasibility of frozen water wall project was questioned since before the beginning. In the meeting of NRA, Tepco admitted the temperature remains nearly 10 ℃ at 4 “freezing” points to cause no improvement to stop contaminated groundwater. It has been in freezing operation for over 2 months.

These 4 points are situated between the reactor buildings and the sea. The volume of contaminated water to be pumped up has not been decreased regardless of the frozen water wall.

Tepco states the temperature remains over 0 ℃ because of the high speed of groundwater. They inject cement to slower the water.

Click to access handouts_160602_06-j.pdf

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

Another evacuation order lifted in Fukushima

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The Japanese government has lifted its evacuation order for most parts of a village near the crippled nuclear plant in Fukushima. Katsurao Village became the 4th such municipality after the 2011 nuclear disaster.

Officials lifted the restriction on Saturday midnight except some areas where the radiation level remains high. All of over 1,400 residents there were forced to evacuate. Now most of them are allowed to return home.

According to a survey the village conducted last year, nearly half of the respondents said all or at least parts of their family want to return home when the order is lifted.

Local authorities say they will work to ease concerns over radiation and provide medical services. They will also ask shops to reopen there to sell foods and everyday essentials.
The evacuation order remains in 9 municipalities in Fukushima. This is forcing more than 90,000 people to continue living away from home.

Villagers divided over lifting of order

People from Katsurao have had mixed responses to the lifting of the evacuation order.

Residents who have decided to return to the village include Rinko Matsumoto and her husband.

Matsumoto planted corn seedlings on Sunday in front of her home. She used to eat home-grown corn with her children and grandchildren when they were all living together before the accident.

She says she is happy to be returning home, but that she will miss family members who have no plans of coming back anytime soon.

Akira Miyamoto and his wife spent the day tending roses in their garden and playing with their dog.

Miyamoto says this is the day Katsurao Village has come back to life. He says he wants to enjoy living there surrounded by nature.

Yoshio Matsumoto is one of the former residents who have decided not to return.

Matsumoto lives in temporary housing in another municipality. He says he is not going back home because he is worried about radiation and few of his neighbors are returning.

He says his home has been decontaminated many times, but windy or rainy weather causes radiation levels to rise.

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

New technologies using zeolite composite fibers to prevent radioactive cesium pollution in Fukushima rivers



The authors have developed and applied new technologies using zeolite composite fibers to prevent radioactive Cs pollution of water in Fukushima, Japan.

During approximately four years in the area, decontamination has been conducted to reduce radioactive cesium (Cs) in the field. However, water contaminated with extra-diluted radioactive Cs has prevented residence within about 30 km of the damaged nuclear facilities. Great efforts at decontamination work should be undertaken to alleviate social anxiety and to produce a safe society in Fukushima.

Decontamination using fiber-like decontamination adsorbents was examined in actual use for radioactive Cs in water in Date city in 2013 and in Okuma town in 2015.

This report describes preparation and properties of the fiber-like decontamination adsorbents. Furthermore, this report is the first describing results of radioactive Cs decontamination using a fiber-like adsorbent for water with extra-low-level concentrations of radionuclides.

Even four years after the accident, results strongly suggest the decontamination still distributed in Fukushima area, depending on the distance of the nuclear power plant. Evidence indicates the importance of preventing extension of radioactive Cs further downstream to human residential areas.

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