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SEVEN YEARS AFTER: Surprise finding in Fukushima as radiation fears increase slightly

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March 5, 2018
A gradual lessening of fears about the effects of radiation from the 2011 nuclear disaster reversed itself slightly as the seventh anniversary of the accident looms.
A joint survey by The Asahi Shimbun and Fukushima Broadcasting Co. found that 66 percent of Fukushima Prefecture residents still feel anxiety over radioactive substances spewed out of the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant after it went into triple meltdown.
The figure, which had been on a downward trend in recent years, was up from 63 percent in the previous survey in 2017.
The Feb. 24-25 survey canvassed the views of 1,888 eligible voters living in the prefecture, excluding some areas that remained off-limits due to high levels of radiation. Respondents were randomly chosen by computer and contacted by landline. Valid responses were given by 1,004 voters, or 53 percent.
It was the eighth such survey since the nuclear disaster triggered by the Great East Japan Earthquake that unleashed devastating tsunami on March 11, 2011.
Twenty-one percent of respondents said they are “very much” anxious about the effects of radiation, and 45 percent replied that they are feeling anxiety “to some degree.”
Against that total of 66 percent, 33 percent replied “not very much” or “not at all” with regard to anxiety.
To a question about the course of recovery from the disaster, 45 percent of respondents agreed that it has been set. The breakdown was 3 percent saying “very much” and the remaining 42 percent answering “to some degree.”
On the other hand, 52 percent said the course has not been set yet. The figure included the categories of “not very much” and “not at all.”
Asked when residents will be able to live as they did before the disaster, 54 percent replied “more than 20 years later,” followed by 19 percent with “about 20 years,” 16 percent with “about 10 years” and 4 percent with “about five years.”
Even among those who replied that the course of recovery has been set, 47 percent answered “more than 20 years later.”
On the issue of whether to back the restart of idled nuclear reactors, 11 percent said they support it while 75 percent replied that they are opposed.
The percentage figure of those opposed to restarts was much higher than in a nationwide survey in February, in which 61 percent expressed that sentiment against 27 percent who were in favor.
Another question focused on plant operator Tokyo Electric Power Co.’s on-site storage of water containing difficult-to-remove tritium. As the number of storage tanks continues to pile up, TEPCO wants to discharge the water into the sea, a plan that won the support of the nation’s nuclear watchdog body.
Sixty-seven percent of respondents were opposed to diluting the water and discharging it into the sea, while 19 percent supported it.
Besides, 87 percent said they felt anxiety “very much” or “to some degree” about contamination of the sea caused by the discharge.
In addition, 52 percent said they felt anxiety “very much” over damages from rumors without substance about the safety of local seafood.
While 64 percent of respondents did not rate TEPCO’s handling of the nuclear accident highly, 17 percent rated it highly.
Another question centered on moves by Fukushima prefectural authorities to switch from blanket testing for radiation of all bags of harvested rice to random checks.
Forty-nine percent were in favor of switching to a new system, while 44 percent were opposed.
The ratio of opposition was higher than in a nationwide survey in February in which 35 percent expressed opposition against 54 percent who supported it.
Eighty-six percent of the respondents answered that blanket testing had eased consumer concerns. The categories for this were “very much” and “to some degree.”

March 6, 2018 - Posted by | Fukushima 2018 | ,

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