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Activists call on artists to join protests against 2020 Olympics in Tokyo

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The idea of the Olympics as a sporting event complemented by culture goes back to Pierre de Coubertin, the founder of the modern Games. The Olympic Charter also states that the Olympic Movement is composed of sport, culture and education. These elements were often blended, as in the prewar Games that included such events as poetry and painting. From 1912 to 1948, arts competitions were held in parallel with the sporting events, though growing discontent meant this curiously hybrid system was jettisoned in favour of separate arts and cultural festivals held alongside the sports. From Barcelona in 1992, the idea of a Cultural Olympiad took hold, whereby a series of arts and cultural events would be organized during the four-year Olympiad period to culminate with the Games, though this had already happened de facto at past Games.
Now the leading figures in the protest movement against the 2020 Tokyo Olympics have called for an anti-Cultural Olympiad. In the recently published Anti-Olympics Arts Council Statement of Purpose, activists point to the destruction of public housing and eviction of homeless people as part of the preparations for the Olympics in Tokyo. The statement ends with a call to action:
For residents of urban areas, and especially the poor, the Olympic/Paralympic Games are nothing but a huge catastrophe. We, the Anti-Olympic Arts Council, call for you to resist and protest against these mega events. We call on artists, performers, poets, and all that use the arts as their medium—oppose the Olympic Games.
It is often said that artists in Japan have avoided direct political engagement in past decades, preferring more oblique modes of socially engaged practice, though the post-Fukushima zeitgeist has certainly produced some prominent examples of overtly politicized art. The prospect of the Olympics and Cultural Olympiad in 2020, given the geopolitical situation in the region as well as such ongoing major socio-cultural questions as Fukushima, Constitutional change and Japan’s demographic time bomb, necessarily conjure up a dilemma for the arts. How will the arts respond? Will artists protest, ignore, borrow or participate?
 
The most notable and lasting case of an artistic response to the 1964 Tokyo Summer Olympics is surely Kon Ichikawa’s nearly three-hour documentary film Tokyo Olympiad (1965). Arguably, the Olympics “propaganda” film subverts the brief, focusing on many of the small moments and the ordinary people among the spectators. It starts with the rising sun and then a wrecking ball while the narration enumerates the iterations of the modern Games and their host cities. The Olympics have noble aspirations, as Ichikawa acknowledges from the opening epigraph, but the reality, at least initially, is demolition. It ultimately segues into a somewhat more predictable, yet staggeringly meticulous, hymn to the facilities created for the 1964 sporting events, the participating athletes and the competitions themselves, but the underlying social commentary is more subtle.
The 1964 Olympics were more conspicuously satirised by the art collective Hi-Red Center when its members set about cleaning the streets of Ginza in white lab coats, a stunt intended to mock the city’s attempts to spruce up its appearance ahead of the Games. Recent moves in Japan to expunge pornographic magazines from retail outlets is an indication of the “cleaning” likely to take place prior to 2020.
One of the early projects of Akira Takayama’s theater collective Port B examined both the famous 1964 Games but also Japan’s “phantom Olympics”, the 1940 Games that were canceled due to World War Two. Tokyo/Olympic (2007) was a tour several hours long around the city on a chartered Hato Bus that took in the sites of the 1964 Games, but finished rather unexpectedly at a rather desolate location in Tokyo Bay. Participants could look across the bay to see the artificial island of Yumenoshima (literally, “island of hope”), which was made from the city’s trash, and a projected venue for the abandoned 1940 Games. (See Peter Eckersall, “Memory and City: Port B and the Tokyo Olympics” in Performativity and Event in 1960s Japan: City, Body, Memory, Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2013.) The bay area will play host to many of the venues for the 2020 Games at a time when the government, say its critics, is attempting to steer the nation back towards its prewar past.
The upcoming Olympics in Tokyo have already succeeded in coopting many artists for its pageantry. One of them is the singer Ringo Sheena, though she recently got flamed by liberals for her nationalist comments in a July interview with the Asahi Shimbun in which she declared that “the whole population is the organizing committee” for the Games. “In that sense, it’s very Japanese in its respect for harmony.” No individual opinions are anticipated.
More specifically, the direction and content of the actual 2020 Games’ cultural program is the source of much anxiety in the arts world in Japan, since so little is known. Certain commercially driven artists have been announced as part of the Cultural Olympiad, but firm details are still under wraps. So far what we have been shown has largely consisted of the “Tokyo Caravan” performances, overseen by Hideki Noda, beginning in 2015 and then continuing at Rio de Janeiro and Tokyo’s Roppongi Art Night in 2016. Ostensibly this would qualify the program as an “Olympiad”, even if the events are apparently mere previews without a genuine feeling of sequence or overall curation. Alongside the Roppongi Art Night performance, an event in autumn 2016 “fusing traditional arts and the latest technologies for which Japan is famous”, officially launched the Olympiad as an “ambitious programme of cultural activities”. The veracity of that boast remains to be seen.
It is certainly the case that various celebrities and artists will benefit financially from the Olympics and Cultural Olympic. One of the reasons that Expo ’70 in Osaka was also such an iconic event was the participation of major figures from the arts, though this was not without intense controversy at the time — so much so that an “anti-expo” was held. Now that there is an Anti-Olympics Art Council, perhaps we can expect such a counter-event, an Anti-Cultural Olympiad, in 2020.
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November 25, 2017 Posted by | Fukushima 2017 | , , , | Leave a comment

Fukushima: A million tonnes of radioactive water still in storage after nuclear disaster

To dump into the ocean a million tonnes of radioactive water should be considered by the international community a crime against humanity and an ecocide against the environment. Whatever they say, whatever they lied, it will never be totally decontaminated and it will never be safe, no matter how many shills on the mainstream media are paid by the nuclear lobby to spin fairy tales in order to brainwash the public about ‘safety’.
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The water is being stored in hundreds of large and densely packed tanks at the plant.
Japan cannot agree on what to do with a million tonnes of radioactive water being stored at the destroyed Fukushima nuclear power plant — and there is a chance it could spill if another major earthquake or tsunami were to strike.
The water is being stored in about 900 large and densely packed tanks at the plant, which was overwhelmed by a devastating tsunami more than six years ago.
Making matters worse, the amount of contaminated water held at Fukushima is still growing by 150 tons a day.
The stalemate is rooted in a fundamental conflict between science and human nature.
Experts advising the government have urged a gradual release of the water to the nearby Pacific Ocean. Treatment has removed all the radioactive elements except tritium, which they say is safe in small amounts
Conversely, if the tanks break, their contents could slosh out in an uncontrolled way.
Local fishermen are balking — they say the water, no matter how clean, has a dirty image for consumers.
Fumio Haga, a drag-net fisherman from Iwaki, a city about 50 kilometres down the coast from the nuclear plant, said releasing the water would end the local industry’s fragile recovery.
“People would shun Fukushima fish again as soon as the water is released,” he said.
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Experts want a gradual release, but if the tanks break the water would slosh out
A new chairman at TEPCO, the embattled utility that owns the plant, caused an uproar in the fishing community in April when he expressed support for moving ahead with the release of the water.
The company quickly backpedalled, and now says it has no plans for an immediate release and can keep storing water through 2020.
Despite tests, many shoppers avoid Fukushima fish
Today, only about half of the Fukushima region’s 1,000 fishermen go out, and just twice a week because of reduced demand.
They participate in a fish testing program that sees lab technicians mince fish samples, pack them in a cup for inspection and record details such as who caught the fish and where.
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The fish that make it to market meet what is believed to be the world’s most stringent requirements.
Only three kinds of fish passed the test when the experiment began in mid-2012, 15 months after the tsunami. Over time, that number has increased to about 100.
The fish that make it to market meet what is believed to be the world’s most stringent requirements, but that message is not reaching consumers.
Fewer Japanese shoppers shun fish and other foods from Fukushima than before, but one in five still do, according to a survey by Japan’s Consumer Agency.
Naoya Sekiya, a University of Tokyo expert on disaster information and social psychology, said the water from the nuclear plant should not be released until people were well-informed about the basic facts, and are psychologically ready.
“A release only based on scientific safety, without addressing the public’s concerns, cannot be tolerated in a democratic society,” he said.
“A release when people are unprepared would only make things worse.”

November 25, 2017 Posted by | Fukushima 2017 | , , , , | 1 Comment

11,800 homes to be destroyed in areas evacuated from the nuclear disaster

“Nothing will ever be the same again and no return to normal is possible.”
The homes of the evacuated areas have remained abandoned for several years after being damaged by the March 2011 earthquake. Many are no longer repairable and must be destroyed.
According to the latest data, in the 11 municipalities evacuated, there are 11,800 applications for demolition, not to count the most contaminated areas, modestly called difficult to return zones, 8,700 homes have already been demolished.
The Ministry of the Environment wanted to finish by March 2018, this may not be possible. They were 6,700 last April.
According to the Fukushima Minpo, new demands continue to arrive even after evacuation orders are lifted.
In Tomioka and Namié, where evacuation orders were lifted last April, more than 400 new demolition applications have been filed in each municipality since April 1, 2017, it’s more than the number of demolitions over the same period. The Ministry of the Environment is considering extending the deadline for filing applications.
This destruction of the living environment, landmarks and the past is one of the sad consequences of the nuclear disaster which caused prolonged evacuations. Nothing will ever be more like before and no return to normal is possible.
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Demolition of decrepit homes progressing in Fukushima 6 years, 8 months after disaster
Dilapidated houses left in evacuated areas of Fukushima Prefecture following the 2011 nuclear accident at Tokyo Electric Power Co.’s Fukushima Daiichi plant are being torn down at a steady pace of late. Of some 11,800 homes subjected to demolition applications by October in 11 municipalities where evacuation zones were once set up, about 8,700, or 70%, have been scrapped. Difficult-to-return zones are not included in the demolition work. Applications have been increasing even after the start of fiscal 2017 in April in the towns of Namie and Tomioka where evacuation orders were lifted this spring. As of last year, the Environment Ministry had targeted work completion by the end of fiscal 2017 through next March. But attaining the goal remains uncertain at present.
 
■Accelerating demolition work
 
Of the residences for which demolition applications were in place, all 19 have been dismantled in Tamura city and all 102 in Kawauchi village. About 360 houses out of some 390 have been taken down in Kawamata town, about 1,330 out of some 1,420 in Naraha town and about 340 out of some 360 in Katsurao village, marking a progress rate of more than 90% each. In Minamisoma city, about 2,350 homes have been demolished, nearly 90% of some 2,670 requested.
 
As of last April, approximately 6,700 houses had been dismantled, about 60% of some 10,900 applied for. In half a year since then, roughly 2,000 residences were removed. The ministry spurred surveys, preparatory work and other undertakings necessary for demolition in an effort to establish a living environment for returning evacuees, focusing on areas where evacuation has been terminated.
 
■Demolition requests greater than expected in Namie, Tomioka
 
Of municipalities where evacuation orders were eliminated this spring, Tomioka saw demolition work completed on some 1,700 houses, about 70% of almost 2,400 targeted, Namie on roughly 1,660, approximately 60% of some 2,840, and Iitate village on about 740, only 50% of some 1,390. Notable are swelling demolition applications in Tomioka and Namie, where more than 400 requests have been submitted each since the start of fiscal 2017, far exceeding the pace at which demolition work was assumed to be undertaken for completion by the end of the fiscal year. According to the ministry, many evacuees live in places far away from their hometowns, requiring substantial time for them to confirm the current status of their houses before applying for demolition. Against this backdrop, it is set to wait and continue accepting further applications.
 
If the demolition of aging houses is prolonged, they pose the risk of collapsing, possibly causing adverse effects on the hygienic environment around them. “We have to undertake demolition work while securing safety amid progress in the permanent return of evacuees,” said an official of the ministry’s environment office in Fukushima, indicating difficulty to accelerate the work drastically. “But we want to complete the work as soon as possible.”

November 25, 2017 Posted by | Fukushima 2017 | , | Leave a comment

NEDO, Fukushima Pref. Sign Cooperation Pact on Robot Tests

“To revitalize Fukushima Prefecture”, signing of a technological cooperation agreement with NEDO (organization for the development of new energies and industrial technologies), for tests of drones and robots ; construction of a huge site of 50 hectares straddling the municipalities of Minamisoma and Namie …

 

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Koriyama, Fukushima Pref., Nov. 22 (Jiji Press)–The New Energy and Industrial Technology Development Organization on Wednesday concluded a cooperation pact with the Fukushima prefectural government on the development of technologies for demonstration tests for drones and robots.
The organization, better known as NEDO, aims to establish technologies to accurately measure the durability and safety of drones and robots, utilizing the Fukushima Robot Test Field, a planned large test site over 50 hectares that straddles the city of Minamisoma and the town of Namie in a coastal region in the northeastern Japan prefecture.
The Fukushima government is building the site as part of efforts to revitalize the coastal region, devastated by the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami and the subsequent nuclear accident at Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings Inc.’s <9501> Fukushima No. 1 power plant. The test site will partly enter into service in fiscal 2018.
Various demonstration tests will be conducted there, such as one to check a robot’s capabilities to conduct underwater inspections of old dams using a 7-meter-deep pool.
NEDO plans to develop technology to check whether drones can fly stably in strong wind. For this, the central government-linked organization will use a wind tunnel facility to be set up in the site.
 

November 25, 2017 Posted by | Japan | , , , , | Leave a comment

Fukushima Darkness, Part Two

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by Robert Hunziker
The impact of Fukushima Daiichi’s nuclear meltdown extends far and wide, as the hemispheric ecosystem gets hit by tons of radioactive water. Additionally, surreptitiousness surrounds untold death and illness, yet it remains one of the least understood and deceitfully reported episodes of journalism in modern history.
At the same time as Japan passed its totalitarian secrecy act in December 2013, it passed an obstructive Cancer Registration Law, which made it illegal to share medical data or information on radiation-related issues, denying public access to medical records, with violators subject to fines of two million Yen or 5-10 years in prison, a pretty stiff penalty for peeking into medical records, giving the appearance of somebody running scared.
Furthermore, and more egregiously yet, a confidentiality agreement to control medical information about radiation exposure was signed in January 2014 by IAEA, UNSCEAR, and Fukushima Prefecture and Fukushima Medical University. Thereafter, all info of illness from radiation is reported to a central repository run by Fukushima Medical Centre and IAEA. In turn, the Fukushima Centre for Environmental Creation was created in 2015 to communicate “accurate information on radiation to the public and dispel anxiety.” Ahem!
Well now, isn’t that convenient, a central depository controlled by the International Atomic Energy Agency –IAEA- to report on Fukushima Daiichi radiation exposure and medical illness. It’s not hard to figure that’s rotten to the core, sounding a lot like words lifted directly off the pages of George Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four (1949).
Meanwhile, much, but not all, mainstream media reports about radiation-induced illnesses and deaths at Fukushima are feeble grossly incompetent journalism, as follows: “The latest update (in April) by the World Nuclear Association re the Fukushima disaster: There have been no deaths or cases of radiation sickness from the nuclear accident…” (Source: Michael W. Chapman, 5 Years Later, Deaths Caused by Radiation Leak at Fukushima -O-, CNS News, May 11, 2016).
According to The World Nuclear Association, as of October 2017: “There have been no deaths or cases of radiation sickness from the nuclear accident, but over 100,000 people were evacuated from their homes to ensure this. Government nervousness delays the return of many.”
Here’s one more statement of zero deaths at Fukushima, by Hannah Ritchie, published in Our World in Data, July 24, 2017: “In the case of Fukushima, although 40-50 people experienced physical injury or radiation burns at the nuclear facility, the number of direct deaths from the incident are quoted to be zero.”
And one more, an article in Forbes by Dr. James Conca, an expert on energy, nuclear and dirty bombs, “After Five Years, What Is The Cost Of Fukushima?” d/d March 10, 2016: “Strangely, the costs that never materialized were the most feared, those of radiation-induced cancer and death… No one received enough dose, even the 20,000 workers who have worked tirelessly to recover form this event.”
Au contraire, it is believed that official reports of Fukushima radiation-induced sicknesses and deaths are horribly underreported and/or intentionally manipulated to show few, if any, cases. Based upon numerous testimonials obtained by independent journalists and researchers in Japan and U.S, attorneys, there is considerable evidence of radiation-induced deaths and sicknesses.
Seemingly, somebody is dead wrong on the issue of radiation-induced deaths, whether it’s (1) official sources via mainstream news or (2) independent researchers/journalists/U.S. attorneys that claim to personally know of deaths. One of those two sources is dead wrong and seriously misleading the world, which, in and of itself, should be classified as a criminal act, like the Nazi Nuremberg trials (1945-49). In point of fact, if it can be proven that people are covering up and/or lying about Fukushima radiation-induced illness and death, they should be tried and imprisoned, similar to Nazi war criminals. The implications of widespread radiation are not a trifle.
When it comes to uncontrollable radiation, there’s an ecumenical obligation for full transparency as a basic right for all humanity, worldwide.
“It’s a real shame that the authorities hide the truth from the whole world, from the UN. We need to admit that actually many people are dying. We are not allowed to say that, but TEPCO employees also are dying. But they keep mum about it,” Katsutaka Idogawa, former mayor of Futaba (Fukushima Prefecture), Fukushima Disaster: Tokyo Hides Truth as Children Die, Become Ill from Radiation – Ex-Mayor, RT News, April 21, 2014.
Individual medical doctors in Japan have reported serious radiation-related problems, for example: “In April 2014, Dr Tsuda Toshihide, an epidemiologist at Okayama University, declared this a ‘thyroid cancer epidemic’ and predicted multiple illnesses from long-term internal radiation below 100 mSv/y and advocated for a program of outbreak (emergency or rapid) epidemiology in and outside Fukushima.” (Source: Adam Broinowski, PhD (author of 25 major academic publications and Post Doctoral Research Fellow, Australian National University): “Informal Labour, Local Citizens and the Tokyo Electric Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Crisis: Responses to Neoliberal Disaster Management,” Australian National University, 2017.
“Similarly, a Tokyo-based physician, Dr Mita Shigeru, circulated a public statement notifying his colleagues of his intention to relocate his practice to Okayama due to overwhelming evidence of unusual symptoms in his patients (roughly 2,000). Given that soil in Tokyo post-Fukushima returned between 1,000 and 4,000 Bq/kg, as compared to an average of 500 Bq/kg (Cs 137 only) in Kiev soil, Mita pointed to a correlation between these symptoms and the significant radiation contamination in Tōhoku and metropolitan Tokyo.” (Broinowski)
“The ashes of half a dozen unidentified laborers ended up at a Buddhist temple in a town just north of the crippled Fukushima nuclear plant. Some of the dead men had no papers; others left no emergency contacts. Their names could not be confirmed and no family members had been tracked down to claim their remains. They were simply labeled “decontamination troops” — unknown soldiers in Japan’s massive cleanup campaign to make Fukushima livable again five years after radiation poisoned the fertile countryside,” (Source: Mari Yamaguchi, Fukushima ‘Decontamination Troops’ Often Exploited, Shunned, AP & ABC News, Minamisona, Japan, March 10, 2016).
Mako Oshidori, director of Free Press Corporation/Japan, investigated several unreported worker deaths, and interviewed a former nurse who quit TEPCO: “I would like to talk about my interview of a nurse who used to work at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant (NPP) after the accident… He quit his job with TEPCO, and that’s when I interviewed him… As of now, there are multiple NPP workers that have died, but only the ones who died on the job are reported publicly. Some of them have died suddenly while off work, for instance, during the weekend or in their sleep, but none of their deaths are reported.” (Source: The Hidden Truth about Fukushima by Mako Oshidori, delivered at the International Conference, Effects of Nuclear Disasters on Natural Environment and Human Health held in Germany, 2014 co-organized by International Physicians for Prevention of Nuclear War).
“They are not included in the worker death count. For example, there are some workers who quit the job after a lot of radiation exposure… and end up dying a month later, but none of these deaths are either reported, or included in the death toll. This is the reality of the NPP workers,” Ibid.
Greenpeace has been conducting radiation readings throughout Fukushima ever since 311. Accordingly, Greenpeace/Japan Press Release -Tokyo, 21 February 2017: “The Japanese government will soon lift evacuation orders for 6,000 citizens of Iitate village in Fukushima Prefecture where radiation levels in nearby forests are comparable to the current levels within the Chernobyl 30km exclusion zone – an area that more than 30 years after the accident remains formally closed to habitation. Seventy-five percent (75%) of Iitate is contaminated forested mountains.”
Over time, high levels of radiation from the mountains leach onto cleaned up areas down below. In point of fact, based upon several Greenpeace analyses throughout Fukushima Prefecture, former inhabitants of several communities are returning to towns and villages where spot checks show unacceptable levels of radiation.
“Faced with the post-311 reality of government (and corporate) policy that protects economic and security interests over public health and well-being, the majority of the 2 million inhabitants of Fukushima Prefecture are either unconscious of or have been encouraged to accept living with radioactive contamination. People dry their clothes outside, drink local tap water and consume local food, swim in outdoor pools and the ocean, consume and sell their own produce or catches. Financial pressure after 311 as well as the persistent danger of social marginalisation has made it more difficult to take precautionary measures (i.e. permanent relocation, dual accommodation, importing food and water) and develop and share counter-narratives to the official message. Nevertheless, some continue to conceal their anxiety beneath a mask of superficial calm.” (Broinowski)
“As Fukushima city resident Shiina Chieko observed, the majority of people seem to have adopted denial as a way to excise the present danger from their consciousness. Her sister-in-law, for example, ignored her son’s ‘continuous nosebleeds’; while her mother had decided that the community must endure by pretending that things were no different from pre-311 conditions.” (Broinowski)
Radiation exposure shows up years later as one of several illnesses. This gives the nuclear industry an advantage of time lapses in its position statements about the safety of nuclear energy. After all when enough time lapses, who knows for sure the cause of death?
However, Chernobyl provides a perfect case study of radiation-caused deaths of workers with a direct link, “liquidators,” exposed to Chernobly radiation (1986), keeping in mind that radiation takes several years to show up as cancer and other severe ailments:  “By 2001, of 800,000 healthy Russian and Ukrainian liquidators (with an average age of 33 years) sent to decontaminate, isolate and stabilise the reactor, 10 per cent had died and 30 per cent were disabled. By 2009, 120,000 liquidators had died, and an epidemic of chronic illness and genetic and perigenetic damage in nuclear workers’ descendants appeared (this is predicted to increase over subsequent generations). The full extent of the damage will not be understood until the fifth generation of descendants. By the mid-2000s, 985,000 additional deaths between 1986 and 2004 across Europe were estimated as a direct result from radiation exposure from Chernobyl.” (Broinowski)
Chernobyl likely foreshadows a dismal future for those exposed to Fukushima radiation whether residents, workers, or untold recipients throughout the extent of flowing seas, which is universal.
As Chernobyl clearly demonstrates: Over time, radiation cumulates in bodily organs. For an example of how radiation devastates human bodies generation by generation, consider: According to USA Today, Chernobyl’s Legacy: Kids With Bodies Ravaged by Disaster, April 17, 2016: “There are 2,397,863 people registered with Ukraine’s health ministry to receive ongoing Chernobyl-related health care. Of these, 453,391 are children — none born at the time of the accident. Their parents were children in 1986. These children have a range of illnesses: respiratory, digestive, musculoskeletal, eye diseases, blood diseases, cancer, congenital malformations, genetic abnormalities, trauma.”
As for Fukushima’s direct impact on Americans that helped at the time of the meltdowns, former Senator John Edwards is representing cancer-ridden sailors who interceded on a humanitarian basis aboard the USS Ronald Reagan. According to Edwards: “We have all these sailors. Sailors whose case is now five years old, who have died or are in the process of dying right now.” Edwards noted that some of his sailor clients have children born with birth defects. (Source: Bianca Bruno, Dying Navy Sailors Push for Trial on Fukushima Meltdown, Courthouse News.com, September 1, 2017).
Attorney Charles Bonner, representing US service members exposed to Fukushima fallout, Jul 21, 2015 (at 10:45 in on YouTube): We now have a 250+ young sailors with all kinds of illnesses, we’ve had three die. We had one of the sailors who came home and impregnated his wife. They gave birth to a little baby born with brain cancer and cancer down the spine, lived for two years, and just died in March of this year. (Source: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V0zGbG2dTvo&feature=youtu.be&t=645)
TEPCO’s attorney Gregory Stone claims his client accepts responsibility for the radiation released but maintains the amount sailors were exposed to was negligible. Stone: “People get sick at different times of their lives for different reasons.”
As people unceremoniously, more times than not anonymously, die from radiation exposure, the Abe administration keeps a tight lid on the reality and the potency of Fukushima Daiichi radiation. And, when faced with the prospect of not knowing what to do, bring on the Olympics! That’s pretty good cover for a messy situation, making it appear to hundreds of thousands of attendees, as well as to the world community “all is well.”
But, is it really?
Postscript: “These sailors are supposed to be very healthy. It’s not a normal situation. It is unbelievable that just in four or five years that these healthy sailors would become sick… I think that both the U.S. and Japanese government have something to hide.” Former Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi of Japan 2001-06 quoted in New York Times 12/31/2016.

November 25, 2017 Posted by | Fukushima 2017 | , | 1 Comment

60 holes at Kashiwazaki-Kariwa nuke plant found unfilled in violation of building code

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Reactor buildings at the Kashiwazaki-Kariwa nuclear plant are seen in this file photo taken in Kashiwazaki, Niigata Prefecture, on April 26, 2017.
 
Sixty holes violating the Building Standards Act were found recently in firewalls at the Kashiwazaki-Kariwa nuclear plant in Niigata Prefecture, in addition to two similar holes found in July this year, plant operator Tokyo Electric Power Co. (TEPCO) announced Nov. 22.
Of the 60 holes, 49 date back to the 1980s when the No. 1 reactor building was built, revealing administrative agencies’ lack of consideration for proper construction management.
Reactor buildings have several thousand holes in them for pipes. Of these holes, those going through firewalls are required to have any gaps filled in with mortar caulk or other nonflammable material. In July, TEPCO found two holes in a firewall in the No. 2 reactor building that had not been properly filled in. A subsequent inspection of the entire plant found that 60 holes had not been filled in — a building code violation — of which 41 were in radiation-control areas.
The power company will begin taking countermeasures, such as filling the holes in, as early as the beginning of the New Year. “At the time the reactor buildings were built, our awareness of the risks was insufficient,” TEPCO spokesperson Yoshimi Hitosugi said.

November 25, 2017 Posted by | Japan | , | Leave a comment

Peace in our Hearts & Peace for our Planet. Day of reflection!

Hands on a globe --- Image by © Royalty-Free/Corbis

On September 23, 1Million Meditators reached 72,000 individuals with a shared vision to “Love Ourselves & the Planet”. This Saturday, November 25, 1Million Meditators is striving to reach 100,000 participants as part of this continued effort to promote engagement in the creation of a peaceful planet through collective intention: “Peace in our Hearts & Peace for our Planet.”

1Million Meditators welcomes anyone whose intention is to spread love and peace in the world, through any form of practice, including mindfulness, prayer or any other rite that promotes love, connectedness and peace, regardless of religious background or affiliation.

We’re getting in touch with you to ask you to show up in person or online and lend a few minutes of your time to create peace in your hearts and for the planet.

  • To participate as a group or an individual join any of the in-person meditations happening in various cities around the globe, or participate online by joining the live broadcasts on the 1Million Meditators Facebook page throughout the day.
  • The meditation will last approximately 15 minutes. Participants around the world have contributed their voices to created a unique soundtrack, available to download for free.
  • To receive the soundtrack and a free “Thank You” gift please go to 1MillionMeditators.com and join the movement.
  • Help the movement grow by sharing 1Million Meditators with friends and family.

In peace,

Rick Wayman
Director of Programs & Operations
Nuclear Age Peace Foundation

November 25, 2017 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Another Day in Court for Four Irish Peace Activists! Shannonwatch report

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Wed, 22/11/2017 – 18:06 by shannonwatch

Four peace activists appeared in court today at Ennis Circuit court. Two travelled from Dublin, one from Waterforrd and one all the way from Limerick. Their legal team from the Pat Finucane Centre travelled from Belfast and Cork to represent two of the peace activists.

The decision not to use local legal representatives is based on experience of past peace activist trials. While in theory there should be clear separation and independence between the judiciary, the prosecution, and legal representatives for defendants, in practice these three are sometimes too closely associated.

Today was the twelfth time Colm Roddy and Dave Donnellan had to appear in court on the same alleged offence and the actual trial may still be almost a year away. For Dan Dowling and Edward Horgan it was the sixth day in court, They now have two more dates on 13 and 18 December with no trial date any time soon.

Today’s hearing was supposed to be for the peace activists’ legal teams to make a formal application to have the trials transferred from Co Clare to Dublin. The defendants believe they cannot get a fair trail in Co Clare due to possible conflicts of interest or bias of a Co Clare jury, as well as the perceived economic benefit to the Mid West region of having the US military using Shannon Airport. 19956863_10155299450206501_2089671018771704891_o

At the hearing the prosecution said they had not had enough time to prepare a response to the defendants’ affidavit so they all had a wasted day in court. The matter of change of venue will be discussed again briefly in court on 18th December but will likely not be dealt with until 6th February at the earliest. It applies to all four defendants.

After the court appearance, one of the peace activists said: “While it was a wasted day in court, lets not complain too much. All four of us are still alive and well, we have done nothing wrong, and are before the courts only because we wish to put an end to Irish complicity with the killing of innocent people, especially children, in the Middle East. We are whistleblowers who are prepared to undertake the inconveniences that these court cases can impose on us.”

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Last month the Clare Champion newspaper described Edward Horgan as “a self-confessed whistle-blower”. This might suggest that being a whistleblower is somehow to be frowned upon. It shouldn’t be; being a whistle-blower is a civic duty. More whistleblowers are needed to end Irish complicity in the killing of innocent people each day in the Middle East

For more info visit Shannonwatch site here; http://www.shannonwatch.org/blog/another-day-court-four-peace-activists

Shannonwatch on FB; https://www.facebook.com/Shannonwatch-268685181500/?ref=br_rs&hc_ref=ARQyIroldjugTIl2F4IMH6VAgn6WCbA5GZI9gYkLwrmcJt9RTywLAm7Xfl3X0__18UQ&fref=nf

November 25, 2017 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

The week that was, in nuclear news

The most interesting nuclear story is about the radioactive cloud across Europe. First described as a harmless wafting of radioactive isotopes “over recent weeks”, this news seemed to become  a bit of a worry, first of all, to air travellers. Then the realisation that even if this airborne plume of radioactive ruthenium 106  is supposed to be harmless, it’s not harmless to those close to the source. Now the source is identified, after weeks of contradictory Russian reports, to be the Mayak Nuclear Production Facility, with Russia still claiming that it is harmless. The locals are not so sure.

New research reveals that space travel permanently changes the human brain.

A new arms race underway, as USA, then Russia, modernise their nuclear weapons.

USA. 

UK. UK made ‘grave strategic errors’ in Hinkley Point nuclear project.  The consensus is clear: there is no upside to a nuclear Brexit.

JAPAN.  TEPCO and Japanese govt hope to portray Fukushima nuclear clean-up as a success, as robots find molten fuel.   Call for Japan’s aging Tokai No. 2 nuclear plant to be shut down. Fukushima Darkness.

INDIA. Not in the Name of Climate, Not in Our Name! India’s Poor Resist Nuclear Power. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IspLpQXv_1I

SOUTH AFRICA. World Bank to fund nuclear power in South Africa?

AUSTRALIA. 6 Australian religious anti-war protesters may face 7 years gaol for peaceful Pine Gap protest.

November 25, 2017 Posted by | Christina's notes | Leave a comment

Argayash, close to Russia’s Mayak Nuclear Facility, at the centre of radiation leaking

The Russian town in the shadow of a leaking nuclear plant https://www.ft.com/content/2d853158-d064-11e7-b781-794ce08b24dc

Authorities finally admit that Argayash was at the centre of a radiation cloud.
 Henry Foy in Argayash , 24 Nov 17

Argayash is a cynical, mistrustful town. Decades of being lied to by the government about being down the road from a leaking nuclear plant does that to a place. So too does watching generations of people dying of radiation-related ailments while officials assure them nothing is amiss.

A small, two-road settlement where homes roofed with corrugated iron and Soviet-era Lada cars nod to its poverty, Argayash is one of a handful of towns surrounding the Mayak Production Facility in southern Russia, one of the world’s biggest radiation emitters where a litany of tragic accidents has made it a byword for the dangers of the atomic industry.

This week, 76 years after radiation first began seeping from Mayak into the surrounding rivers, lakes and atmosphere, Russian authorities admitted that Argayash was at the centre of a radiation cloud containing “exceptionally high” levels of radioactive isotope ruthenium-106, which spread so far west that it reached France. The radiation was detected by Russia’s meteoological agency in late September, but only revealed on Monday, after local politicians had spent weeks denying rumours of a leak and rubbishing reports from EU agencies that had tracked the cloud’s movement.

The levels of the isotope in Argayash were almost 1,000 times the normal level. Officials say it is not harmful to public health.  “Nobody tells us anything. They keep it secret,” says Lilia Galimzhanova, a cook at a café in the town. “We are afraid. We are afraid for our children and grandchildren.”  “But we know that the air, the environment is very bad here,” she says. Her 80-year-old mother suffers from radiation poisoning from Mayak. “We are not protected by anyone here . . . We are survivors.”

 The source of the leaked isotope, which does not occur naturally and is produced during the processing of nuclear fuel, has not been confirmed. Rosatom, which operates the Mayak facility, has repeatedly denied it is to blame. “[Mayak] is not a source of increased content of ruthenium-106 in the atmosphere,” Rosatom said in a statement. On Thursday, the company published a message poking fun at journalists on its Facebook page, inviting them to tour the plant, which it sarcastically dubbed “the cradle of ruthenium”. The local region’s chief oncology specialist has told concerned residents to stop worrying, advising them to instead “watch football and drink beer”.
 But local residents see little to laugh about. Many scoff at official denials, having heard similar for decades, even as they watched family and friends die from radiation-related ailments. “We are not told anything about Mayak,” says Nadia, an 18-year-old medical student living in the town, 1,700km east of Moscow. “The government should not keep things secret when people suffer.”  “People in the west know more about this than we do here,” she adds.

Ms Galimzhanova only heard of the radiation that had enveloped her town when a friend in Germany read about it in a western newspaper. Before the authorities admitted its existence, text messages had been sent to residents saying that high levels of pollution from nearby industrial factories meant people should stay indoors.  Regardless of the potential health risks, many here say the government’s initial silence, denial and obfuscation has dredged up painful memories of a past that refuses to stay buried.  Secretly constructed in the 1940s, Mayak was at the forefront of the USSR’s scramble to catch up with the US nuclear programme. As it raced to produce weapons-grade plutonium, a vast amount of nuclear waste was discharged into nearby lakes and the Techa river.  Then, in 1957, nuclear waste storage tanks at the site exploded, raining fallout over hundreds of towns — and releasing more radiation than any other nuclear accident except Chernobyl and Fukushima. Ten years later, an adjacent reservoir used for waste disposal dried out, and powdered radioactive dust was blown over the area.

Not that local people were evacuated, or even warned: Mayak’s very existence was only acknowledged in the late 1980s, as information began to circulate about the long-term contamination. An estimated 450,000 were exposed to radiation from the accidents and the discharging of waste into the water supply, Russian authorities said in 1993, making Mayak one of the world’s biggest sources of harmful radiation. But anti-nuclear campaigners say safety breaches continued: a 2005 court case revealed nuclear waste was still being dumped into rivers as late as 2004, while Rosatom only sealed off the radioactive lake that caused the 1967 disaster in 2015.
 An estimated 450,000 were exposed to radiation from the accidents and the discharging of waste into the water supply, Russian authorities said in 1993, making Mayak one of the world’s biggest sources of harmful radiation. But anti-nuclear campaigners say safety breaches continued: a 2005 court case revealed nuclear waste was still being dumped into rivers as late as 2004, while Rosatom only sealed off the radioactive lake that caused the 1967 disaster in 2015.
 “Previous experience has taught us that they lie and suppress information,” said Andrey Talevlin, co-chairman of the Russian Social-Ecological Union NGO. “We can’t trust what they say, whether they mislead the population on purpose or not.”
 Mr Talevlin, an academic and environmental activist who this week was branded a “foreign agent” by Russian state TV after he called for an investigation into the ruthenium leak, says that suppression of anti-nuclear groups in Russia has rapidly increased over the past two decades. A fellow activist, Nadezhda Kutepova, fled to France in 2015 seeking political asylum after a similar media campaign accused her of “industrial espionage”.  President Vladimir Putin’s spokesman said this week that the Kremlin has “no information” regarding any possible causes of the radiation. And some in Argayash say it is little more than an occupational hazard of living in one of Russia’s most industrialised regions.
The authorities say they do not know anything about it. And we must trust them,” says Jamshed, who runs a greengrocer on the town’s main Lenin Street. “Nobody has proven anything. And even if something is proved, I am sure our government will immediately take measures,” he says, looking over his locally-grown vegetables.

November 25, 2017 Posted by | incidents, Reference, Russia | Leave a comment

Russian Anger Builds In Town Next To Leaking Nuclear Plant

Earlier this week, we noted that Russia’s state-owned nuclear energy agency had taken baby steps toward recognizing the dangers posed by an aging nuclear storage facility in Chelyabinsk, a town located on Russia’s southern border with Kazakhstan, when it officially acknowledged the extraordinary high levels of radiation in the area. Though the government refused to admit culpability, as many believe the radiation leaked out of the Mayak nuclear power plant, which has a history of serious nuclear accidents.

Still, a month after the mysterious radiation cloud was first observed over Europe, Russian authorities have said little other than admitting the spike in radiation – a troubling trend that’s making some locals nervous and angry.
As the Financial Times points out, 76 years after radiation first began seeping from Mayak into the surrounding rivers, lakes and atmosphere, Russian authorities admitted that the nearby town of Argayash was at the center of a radiation cloud containing “exceptionally high” levels of radioactive isotope ruthenium-106, which spread so far west that it reached France.

But residents of the town are demanding more information from authorities, whom they blame for putting the health of locals at risk.

The FT described Argayash is a cynical, mistrustful town. Apparently, decades of being lied to by the government about being down the road from a leaking nuclear plant does that to a place. So too does watching generations of people dying of radiation-related ailments while officials assure them nothing is amiss.

A small, two-road settlement where homes roofed with corrugated iron and Soviet-era Lada cars nod to its poverty, Argayash is one of a handful of towns surrounding the Mayak Production Facility in southern Russia, one of the world’s biggest radiation emitters where a litany of tragic accidents has made it a byword for the dangers of the atomic industry.

Until earlier this week, Russia’s state-controlled Rosatom corporation – the same company implicated in the Uranium One scandal – had insisted that there had been no radiation leak from Mayak’s facilities. Then earlier this week, it revised its story, admitting that radiation was leaking in the area around the plant but refusing to accept that the plant was responsible for the leak after the Russian meteorological service (Rosgidromet) reported that it had detected record levels of radiation in the area. Some calculating that the radiation exposure levels were up to 1,000x higher than the normal rate.

In a statement, the Russian Meteorological Service said that it recorded the release of Ruthenium-106 in the southern Urals in late September and classified it as “extremely high contamination.”

At this point, the denials are almost comical – but local residents don’t find them funny in the least.

Many scoff at official denials, having heard similar for decades, even as they watched family and friends die from radiation-related ailments.

 

“We are not told anything about Mayak,” says Nadia, an 18-year-old medical student living in the town, 1,700km east of Moscow. “The government should not keep things secret when people suffer.”

 

“People in the west know more about this than we do here,” she adds.

The Russian government’s refusal to admit that Mayak is probably the source of the radiation leak is in keeping with a decades-long pattern of secrecy surrounding the activities at the plant. An explosion at the site in 1957 rained down nuclear fallout on the surrounding area, causing the third-worst nuclear crisis in history (after Chernobyl and the meltdown at Fukushima).

Still, locals know relatively little about the threat posed by the plant. One woman who spoke with the FT said she only learned of the radiation that had enveloped her town when a friend in Germany read about it in a western newspaper. Before the authorities admitted its existence, text messages had been sent to residents saying that high levels of pollution from nearby industrial factories meant people should stay indoors.

Regardless of the potential health risks, many here say the government’s initial silence, denial and obfuscation has dredged up painful memories of a past that refuses to stay buried.

 

Secretly constructed in the 1940s, Mayak was at the forefront of the USSR’s scramble to catch up with the US nuclear programme. As it raced to produce weapons-grade plutonium, a vast amount of nuclear waste was discharged into nearby lakes and the Techa river.

 

Then, in 1957, nuclear waste storage tanks at the site exploded, raining fallout over hundreds of towns – and releasing more radiation than any other nuclear accident except Chernobyl and Fukushima. Ten years later, an adjacent reservoir used for waste disposal dried out, and powdered radioactive dust was blown over the area.

In 2004 the government confirmed that waste was being dumped in the local river. Nuclear regulators say that no longer happens, but anti-nuclear activists say it’s impossible to tell, and are deeply mistrustful of the government’s assurances.

Earlier this week, Greenpeace said that it would petition the Russian Prosecutor General’s office to investigate “a possible concealment of a radiation accident” and check whether public health was sufficiently protected.

Still, given Russia’s history with horrendous nuclear accidents, it’s possible that locals will never learn the real story behind the radiation cloud.

The post Russian Anger Builds In Town Next To Leaking Nuclear Plant appeared first on crude-oil.news.

http://forex.wine/russian-anger-builds-in-town-next-to-leaking-nuclear-plant/

November 25, 2017 Posted by | Uncategorized | 2 Comments

Toshiba to remove Times Square advertising in cost-cutting move

Kyodo — Nov 22
Toshiba Corp. will remove its corporate logo from its prominent position atop the One Times Square Building overlooking New York’s iconic tourist hub as part of cost-cutting efforts, sources close to the matter said Wednesday.
In addition to terminating its contract for the Times Square screen in the first half of next year, the company has also formally decided to end its sponsor’s agreement with two long-running Japanese television programs — a popular cartoon show and a Sunday night drama — at the end of March, the sources said.

November 25, 2017 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Call for Japan’s aging Tokai No. 2 nuclear plant to be shut down

Aging Tokai No. 2 nuclear plant should be decommissioned http://www.asahi.com/ajw/articles/AJ201711240017.html November 24, 2017 Japan Atomic Power Co.’s Tokai No. 2 nuclear power plant in Tokai, Ibaraki Prefecture, seems doomed to be decommissioned given the strong doubts and practical difficulties surrounding the company’s plan to restart the reactor at the plant.

Japan Atomic Power plans to apply to the Nuclear Regulation Authority to extend the operating life of the idled reactor at the plant beyond the legal life span of 40 years in principle.

The currently offline reactor will reach the end of its legal life span in one year. The operator is seeking to persuade the NRA to make an exception of the reactor for bringing it back on line.

It has been estimated that the required safety measures will cost the company at least 170 billion yen ($1.52 billion). In an unusual move, the nuclear safety watchdog has told Japan Atomic Power, which is on a fragile financial footing, to come up with a workable plan to raise the funds to finance the measures.

With the local communities and governments around the plant struggling to develop required plans for emergency evacuations, there is strong skepticism about the feasibility of the company’s plan to restart the reactor.

Since there is little chance of the company’s other reactors being restarted, the fate of Japan Atomic Power hinges on whether the Tokai No. 2 plant will be allowed to come on stream again.

But that doesn’t justify taking it as a given that the company will get the green light for restarting the reactor. Japan Atomic Power, the major electric utilities with major stakes in the company and the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry, which regulates the power industry, should carefully reassess the future of the company without assuming that the reactor will start running again.

The 40-year legal life for nuclear reactors is an important rule to reduce the risk of accidents involving aging reactors. It was introduced following the disastrous accident at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant in 2011.

The operational life can be extended by up to 20 years if approved by the NRA.

When the law was revised, however, the government said such extensions would be highly exceptional cases.

But Kansai Electric Power Co.’s applications for life extensions for its three aging reactors have all been approved.

If the Tokai No. 2 plant is added to the list, the rule will move closer to becoming a dead letter.

There are no special reasons for restarting the old reactor, such as a serious risk of a power shortage.

Japan Atomic Power’s plan should not be given a go-ahead simply to help the embattled company.

The Tokai No. 2 plant is located at the northern tip of the Tokyo metropolitan area. Some 960,000 people live within 30 kilometers from the plant, more than in any other 30-km radius of a nuclear plant. Local governments located within the zone are required to develop evacuation plans.

It is obviously difficult to secure safe evacuation routes, facilities to accept evacuees and the means to transport them for the entire 30-km zone around the plant.

None of the 14 municipalities that are subject to the requirement has worked out an evacuation plan.

The outlook for local government support for the plan is also dismal.

The government of Ibaraki Prefecture and the mayor of Tokai intend to base their decisions on local public opinion as to whether to give their consent to the plan.

Recent Asahi Shimbun surveys of local voters found that opponents to the plan far outnumbered supporters.

Five other cities around the plant are demanding the consent rights similar to those given to Tokai in order to take part in the decision-making process.

Japan Atomic Power and the major utilities that own the firm should confront these realities.

The utilities that are under contract to buy electricity from Japan Atomic Power continue paying more than 100 billion yen of basic fees in total every year even though the company currently generates no power to sell with all its reactors out of operation.

It should not be forgotten that the money comes from the electricity bills paid by consumers.

It has been proposed that Japan Atomic Power should serve as a vehicle for the consolidation of the power industry driven by the decommissioning of aged nuclear reactors.

Instead of simply shelving the problem, the parties involved should accelerate their efforts to map out a viable future for the company.

November 25, 2017 Posted by | Japan, safety | Leave a comment

Tokai nuclear plant operator files request to extend operation of aging reactor

The utility operating the sole reactor at the Tokai No. 2 nuclear power plant in Ibaraki Prefecture on Friday filed for state approval to extend the unit’s operation beyond the government-mandated 40-year limit.

It is the fourth time that an application has been filed with the Nuclear Regulation Authority to extend the operation of an aging reactor for an additional 20 years, but the latest request is the first for a boiling water reactor — the same type as at the crisis-hit Fukushima No. 1 nuclear complex.

The application for the Tokai plant, currently offline, comes despite local governments lacking emergency plans to evacuate around 960,000 people living within 30 km of the plant. Of all the nuclear power plants in Japan, Tokai has the most densely populated surrounding area.

Tougher safety rules introduced in the wake of the Fukushima disaster, triggered by the 2011 earthquake and tsunami, in principle prohibit the operation of nuclear reactors beyond 40 years. But extending a unit’s life for an additional 20 years is possible if operators carry out safety upgrades and pass the regulator’s screening.

It is unclear whether the operator, Japan Atomic Power Co., which is jointly owned by nine of the country’s utility companies, can secure an estimated ¥180 billion in costs to implement measures to enhance the safety of the aging reactor, with its business struggling after all its reactors ceased operations.

The Tokai No. 2 plant, sitting on the Pacific coast, is currently having its safety features assessed by the Nuclear Regulation Authority for a reactivation.

So far, three pressurized water reactors belonging to Kansai Electric Power Co. have gained the authority’s approval to extend their operations for 20 years.

The Tokai No. 2 plant, which started commercial operations in 1978, will be decommissioned if it cannot gain the authority’s approval for safety measures and extension by November next year.

But even if the authority approves the resumption and extension of the plant, the actual reactivation will happen later than March 2021, which would be the earliest that work on implementing safety measures will likely be completed.

Japan Atomic Power filed for the extension after its president, Mamoru Muramatsu, told Ibaraki Gov. Kazuhiko Oigawa of the utility’s intention to seek it in a meeting Tuesday.

Article source: http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/japantimes/~3/xBFT_H3WtJk/

November 25, 2017 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Space travel changes the human brain, reveals new research.

Screenshot from 2017-11-25 00:26:33.png

Image source; https://www.livescience.com/60840-space-travel-brain.html

Now scientists are trying to work out just what the long term effects are of changes in the brain during extended missions in space before NASA’s planned mission to Mars.

More people today are poised to explore space than ever before; and those who do will experience the effects of microgravity on the human body.

Neuroradiologist Dr. Donna Roberts conducted a study of the effects, published in the New England Journal of Medicine.

Roberts, of The Medical University of South Carolina, said: “Exposure to the space environment has permanent effects on humans that we simply do not understand.

“What astronauts experience in space must be mitigated to produce safer space travel for the public.”

NASA astronauts have experienced altered vision and increased pressure inside their heads during spaceflight aboard the International Space Station (ISS).

The conditions can be serious problems for astronauts.

To describe the symptoms, NASA coined the term visual impairment intracranial pressure syndrome, or VIIP Syndrome.

The cause of VIIP Syndrome is thought to be related to the redistribution of body fluid toward the head during long-term microgravity exposure, but the exact cause is unknown.

NASA has made determining the cause of VIIP Syndrome and how to resolve its effects a top priority.

Roberts proposed to NASA that MRI scans be used to investigate the anatomy of the brain following spaceflight.

She suspected subtle anatomical changes in the brains of astronauts during spaceflight might be contributing to the development of VIIP Syndrome.

She examined the brains and muscular responses of participants who stayed in bed for 90 days, during which time, they were required to keep their heads continuously tilted in a downward position to simulate the effects of microgravity.

Using MRI scans, Roberts evaluated brain neuroplasticity, studying the brain’s motor cortex before, during and after long-term bed rest.

Results confirmed neuroplasticity in the brain occurred during bed rest.

As Roberts evaluated the brain scans, she noted a “crowding” occurrence at the vertex, or top of the brain, with narrowing of the gyri and sulci, the bumps and depressions in the brain that give it its folded appearance.

The crowding was worse for participants who were on longer bed rest.

Roberts also saw evidence of brain shifting and a narrowing of the space between the top of the brain and the inner table of the skull.

She questioned if the same thing might be happening to the astronauts during spaceflight.

She also acquired brain MRI scans and related data from NASA’s Lifetime Surveillance of Astronaut Health program for two groups of astronauts: 18 who had been in space for short periods of time aboard the U.S. Space Shuttle and 16 who had been in space for longer periods of time, typically three months, aboard the ISS.

The researchers compared the brain images of the two groups of astronauts.

The results confirmed a narrowing of the brain’s central sulcus, a groove in the cortex near the top of the brain that separates the parietal and frontal lobes, in 94 percent of the astronauts who participated in long-duration flights and 18.8 percent of the astronauts on short-duration flights.

Cine clips also showed an upward shift of the brain and narrowing of the CSF spaces at the top of the brain among the long-duration flight astronauts but not in the short-duration flight astronauts.

Her findings concluded that “significant changes” in brain structure occur during long-duration space flight.

And, more importantly, the parts of the brain that are most affected — the frontal and parietal lobes — control movement of the body and higher executive function.

The longer an astronaut stayed in space, the worse the symptoms of VIIP syndrome would be.

To further understand the results of the study, Roberts plans to compare repeated post-flight imaging of the brains of astronauts to determine if the changes are permanent or if they will return to normal after some time back on Earth.

With NASA’s Mars expedition mission set to launch in 2033, there’s an urgency for researchers to collect more data about astronauts and understand the basics of human space physiology. A journey to Mars can take three to six months, at best.

During the two-year time period, crew members would remain on Mars, conducting exploration activities. The gravity on Mars is around one-third that of Earth.

Considering travel to and from Mars, along with the time on the surface, Roberts said the Martian expedition crew would be exposed to reduced gravity for at least three years.

To date, the longest continuous time in space was 438 days, a record held by Russian cosmonaut Valery Polyakov.

Roberts said: “We know these long-duration flights take a big toll on the astronauts and cosmonauts; however, we don’t know if the adverse effects on the body continue to progress or if they stabilize after some time in space.

“These are the questions that we are interested in addressing, especially what happens to the human brain and brain function?”

Study co-author Dr. Michael Antonucci added: “This study is exciting in many ways, particularly as it lies at the intersection of two fascinating frontiers of human exploration — space and the brain.

“We have known for years that microgravity affects the body in numerous ways.

“However, this study represents the most comprehensive assessment of the impact of prolonged space travel on the brain.

“The changes we have seen may explain unusual symptoms experienced by returning space station astronauts and help identify key issues in the planning of longer-duration space exploration, including missions to Mars.”

https://nypost.com/2017/11/01/space-travel-permanently-changes-the-brain/

November 25, 2017 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment