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South Korean Prime Minister Expresses Concern about Tokyo’s Plan to Release Fukushima Nuclear Plant Radioactive Water

PM Lee calls for prudent decision by Japan on water from Fukushima plant

Seoul’s Prime Minister expressed serious concerns over reports that Japan is planning to dump water into the ocean from the Fukushima nuclear power plant which was badly damaged seven years ago.
In Tuesday’s Cabinet meeting, Lee Nak-yon noted that 80 percent of the water from the plant has been deemed by the plant’s operator, Tokyo Electric Power Company, to be too contaminated to be released.
However, TEPCO adds, the water has been treated.
The PM urged Japan to make a prudent decision, and instructed the relevant South Korean ministries to convey the government’s position on the matter.
He stressed the ocean does not belong to any one country, but a resource to be shared by the world, and that dumping such water would have a big impact on the marine environment.
 

Seoul to Express Concern over Tokyo’s Plan to Release Fukushima Plant Water

South Korea plans to deliver its concern over media reports the Japanese government is mulling releasing treated water from a nuclear plant damaged by the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami.
An official of Seoul’s Foreign Ministry revealed the plan to reporters on Tuesday, saying that given the influences of radiation-related issues and public sensitivity to them, it’s a legitimate concern for South Korea as a neighboring country.
The official said the government will seize a proper opportunity to deliver its concern to the Japanese government and seek cooperation to address the issue.
The move comes after reports emerged that the Japanese government might release water at one of the Fukushima nuclear power plants after purifying it. However, the Japanese media reported more than 80 percent of the purified water still contains radioactive elements.
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October 3, 2018 Posted by | Fukushima 2018 | , , , | Leave a comment

WATCH OUT: Japan is pushing exports of its Fukushima ‘s radiation contaminated sake to other countries

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Free Fukushima “sake” tasting events in NYC.

Japan’s No.1 Sake Fukushima
Experience the best sake in Japan, without leaving NYC!!
 
Most Gold Prizes 6 years in a row in the century-old Japan Sake Awards. “Champion Sake” in 2015 and 2018 at the International Wine Challenge. Unmatched craftsmanship and the finest taste. While famous in Japan, Fukushima sake has remained a mystery to the outside world—until now!
Enjoy a FREE tasting session of premium Fukushima sake with us. Tasting session participants will receive a 20% discount for Fukushima sake purchased during event hours (while supplies last).
 
More Free Sake Tasting Events
Japan’s No.1 Fukushima’s Sake for Holiday Gift–Free Tasting
Dec 7, 2018 5:00 PM
Japan’s No.1 Fukushima’s Sake for Valentine’s Day–Free Tasting
Feb 8, 2019 5:00 PM
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Fukushima Trade Promotion Council
Organizer of Japan’s No.1 Fukushima SAKE –Free Tasting
USA Inquiries
c/o: BIO ARTS NYC, INC
Attn: Aya Ota
Office: 103 Second Avenue, Suite 2D New York, NY 10003 USA
E-mail: fukushima@bioartsnyc.com
 
According to the following article (of Dec. 2017), “the United States topped the list of export destinations (of Fukushima sake) with 76.9 kl, accounting for 48% of the total, followed by Canada with 10.6 kl (7%) and Hong Kong with 9.4 kl (6%).” http://www.fukushimaminponews.com/news.html?id=871

October 3, 2018 Posted by | Fukushima 2018 | , , , | 1 Comment

Fukushima Daiichi’s “treated” liquid waste too radioactive to be dumped into the Pacific ocean

They have lied for all those years years to the people from who they needed the permission before any dumping ( fishermen associations, local government, etc.) that all radionuclides had been filtered out, that it was only tritiated water. We have to wonder what is forcing them suddenly to admit this.

The Associated Press reported from a TEPCO press conference held late last week that treated water TEPCO has been trying to dump in the Pacific ocean is not safe to dump.
“much of the radioactive water stored at the plant isn’t clean enough and needs further treatment if it is to be released into the ocean.”
“TEPCO said Friday that studies found the water still contains other elements, including radioactive iodine, cesium and strontium. It said more than 80 percent of the 900,000 tons of water stored in large, densely packed tanks contains radioactivity exceeding limits for release into the environment.”
There is no transparent system of accountability for this stored water. Reporting of the levels of contamination and what isotopes are in what types of stored water are almost non existent.

Fukushima cooling water too radioactive to release

Tokyo Electric Power Company has admitted that much of the water stored at its Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant had not been treated completely enough for release into the environment.
How to dispose of an ever-increasing amount of radioactive water at the plant is a big issue. The contaminated water is generated daily in the process of cooling the damaged reactors.
Before being stored in tanks at the plant, the water undergoes treatment that is supposed to get rid of all radioactive substances but tritium. Tritium is difficult to remove.
One of the disposal ideas is to release the water still containing tritium into the sea.
But many at a public hearing in August opposed to the plan. Some people pointed that the water in question also contains other radioactive elements.
At a meeting of experts in Tokyo on Monday, the utility officials reported that as of August, there was 890,000 tons of such water at the plant.
They said they suspect that more than 80 percent of the water contained not only tritium but also other radioactive substances, such as iodine and strontium, and that their levels exceeded the limits for release into the environment.
A senior Tokyo Electric official apologized, saying his company was too focused on the issue of tritium and failed to provide a full explanation.

October 3, 2018 Posted by | Fukushima 2018 | , , | Leave a comment

WATCH OUT: Japan is pushing exports of its radiation contaminated agricultural products to other countries saying there is no radiation anymore in Fukushima

Japanese regions struggle to export farm produce to Taiwan as radiation fears politicized

 

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Information boards explain stringent safety measures taken in Chiba Prefecture east of Tokyo during an agricultural expo held in the northwestern Taiwanese city of Taoyuan in May 2018.
September 30, 2018
TAIPEI, TAOYUAN, Taiwan/BEIJING — Some local governments in Japan are struggling to export their agricultural products to Taiwan as Taipei is expected to conduct a referendum on whether or not to lift a ban on imports from five Japanese prefectures following the 2011 disaster at the Tokyo Electric Power Co.’s Fukushima No. 1 Nuclear Power Plant.
During a recent agricultural exhibition held in the city of Taouyan in northwestern Taiwan, few participants dropped by a booth run by the government of Chiba Prefecture in eastern Japan, which is one of five prefectures hit by the ban. The remaining four prefectures are Fukushima, Ibaraki, Tochigi and Gunma, all north of Tokyo. In contrast, the stall of Miyazaki was inundated by visitors trying to test the juicy beef the southern Japan prefecture is famous for.
Chiba Gov. Kensaku Morita visited Taiwan in November last year and met with Taoyuan Mayor Cheng Wen-tsan. They agreed that local sweets made from peanuts harvested in Chiba should be made available in Taiwan, too. As Chen is said to be close to Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen, an individual who accompanied the governor told the Mainichi Shimbun that the two leaders had “a fairly in-depth discussion” toward lifting the ban.
However, at the agricultural festival earlier this year in Taoyuan, the Chiba government was not allowed to bring in food samples because of the import ban. Officials only had a video and panels explaining the safety of agricultural products in Chiba. “We want the ban to be lifted as soon as possible,” emphasized an official during the event.
Fukushima also wants to resume exports of peaches to Taiwan, which was the biggest overseas market for the fruit before the nuclear accident. The radioactive fallout from the TEPCO power plant contaminated a large swath of land near the facility. The Ibaraki Prefectural Government also sees Taiwan as a promising market for its agricultural items.
Taiwan ranked fourth among overseas markets for Japanese farm and food products last year, importing 83.8 billion yen out of the 807.1 billion yen total value. Hong Kong is the No. 1 importer, followed by the United States and China.
The Tsai administration is positive about lifting the ban, as most Japanese farm products do not contain detectable levels of radioactive materials under a strict screening system. Administration officials say if Taiwan came after China in resuming the import of Japanese farm products, it would be a blow to its relationship with Japan, which is vital for Taipei, along with its ties with the U.S., to counter Beijing. China regards Taiwan as a renegade province and is trying to bring the island back into its fold eventually.
But people close to the ruling Democratic Progressive Party say Taiwan’s largest opposition party Kuomintang is using the issue to wage a political attack on the ruling party, fanning up public fear toward farm products from the five Japanese prefectures as “nuclear food.” The November referendum is expected to be called after the opposition collected some 470,000 signatures, more than the legally required number, to conduct the vote.
Taiwan is not alone in blocking Japanese agricultural products from entering the domestic market. It wasn’t until July this year that Hong Kong lifted its ban on agricultural items from four Japanese prefectures, but it still keeps its door closed to Fukushima produce.
China also continues to deny the import of agricultural and food items from 10 prefectures in the Tohoku and Kanto regions in the northern and eastern parts of the country, respectively, including Tokyo. The country accepts produce from other Japanese regions only if the goods come with certificates saying they are radiation free.
The Japanese government and business community have repeatedly demanded that Beijing relax the regulations, and Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and Chinese President Xi Jinping agreed in May to set up a joint panel of experts to discuss the removal of the restriction.
The reason behind the intransigence indicated by some Asian countries and regions in denying Japanese farm produce is public concern. A survey of consumers in 10 countries and regions in the United States, Europe and Asia in February last year found that 81 percent of respondents in Taiwan said they were “worried about Fukushima produce.” The ratio stood at 69.3 percent in South Korea, followed by China with 66.3 percent. But a domestic poll in Japan by the Consumer Affairs Agency in February 2018 found that people hesitating to buy products from Fukushima was just 12.7 percent.
According to associate professor Naoya Sekiya of the University of Tokyo, a specialist in disaster information studies who conducted the 10-country/region survey last year, “the negative image caused by the 2011 nuclear accident just stuck, and people are not aware of food safety checks.” Only 10 percent-plus of people in South Korea responded that they knew about the complete radiation checks on all Fukushima rice carried out by the prefectural government. The ratio was just more than 20 percent for Taiwan, while 40 percent of Japanese respondents said yes.
Farmers in areas affected by the nuclear disaster have made efforts to reduce radiation, including the use of potassium to prevent the absorption of radioactive cesium from the fallout. Seventeen prefectures as well as agricultural cooperatives and shipment companies are testing their farm products. During the past three years, more than 99 percent of tested items did not contain detectable levels of radiation. In Fukushima, too, no rice was found to contain radiation above acceptable levels.
“Just telling people how tasty the food items are is not enough,” said Sekiya. “You also have to convey that airborne radiation levels are completely different from those right after the accident, no radioactive materials have been detected in food items, and the checking system functions with no problems.”

October 3, 2018 Posted by | Fukushima 2018 | , , , | Leave a comment

Liquid radioactive waste should not be called “treated” radioactive water

Treated water at Fukushima nuclear plant still radioactive

Sepember 28, 2018
TOKYO (AP) – The operator of Japan’s wrecked Fukushima nuclear plant said Friday that much of the radioactive water stored at the plant isn’t clean enough and needs further treatment if it is to be released into the ocean.
Tokyo Electric Power Co. and the government had said that treatment of the water had removed all radioactive elements except tritium, which experts say is safe in small amounts.
They called it “tritium water,” but it actually wasn’t.
TEPCO said Friday that studies found the water still contains other elements, including radioactive iodine, cesium and strontium. It said more than 80 percent of the 900,000 tons of water stored in large, densely packed tanks contains radioactivity exceeding limits for release into the environment.
TEPCO general manager Junichi Matsumoto said radioactive elements remained, especially earlier in the crisis when plant workers had to deal with large amounts of contaminated water leaking from the wrecked reactors and could not afford time to stop the treatment machines to change filters frequently.
“We had to prioritize processing large amounts of water as quickly as possible to reduce the overall risk,” Matsumoto said.
 
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In this Feb. 23, 2017, file photo, an employee walks past storage tanks for contaminated water at the tsunami-crippled Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant of the Tokyo Electric Power Co. (TEPCO) in Okuma town, Fukushima prefecture, Japan. The operator of Japan’s wrecked Fukushima nuclear plant said Friday, Sept. 28, 2018, that much of the radioactive water stored at the plant isn’t clean enough and needs further treatment if it is to be released into the ocean.
 
About 161,000 tons of the treated water has 10 to 100 times the limit for release into the environment, and another 65,200 tons has up to nearly 20,000 times the limit, TEPCO said.
Matsumoto said the plant will treat the water further to ensure contamination levels are reduced to allowable limits.
He was responding to growing public criticism and distrust about the status of the water.
More than 7 ½ years since a massive March 2011 earthquake and tsunami destroyed three reactors at the plant, Japan has yet to reach a consensus on what to do with the radioactive water. Fishermen and residents oppose its release into the ocean. Nuclear experts have recommended the controlled release of the water into the Pacific as the only realistic option.
The release option faced harsh criticism at town meetings in Fukushima and Tokyo in late August, when TEPCO and government officials provided little explanation of the water contamination, which had been reported in local media days earlier.
TEPCO only says it has the capacity to store up to 1.37 million tons of water through 2020 and that it cannot stay at the plant forever.
Some experts say the water can be stored for decades, but others say the tanks take up too much space at the plant and could interfere with ongoing decommissioning work, which could take decades.
 
 
 

Treated water at Fukushima nuclear plant still radioactive: Tepco

They called it “tritium water,” but it actually wasn’t.
About 161,000 tons of the water has 10 to 100 times the limit, and another 65,200 tons has up to nearly 20,000 times the limit.
 
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A Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings Inc. official wearing radioactive protective gear stands in front of Advanced Liquid Processing Systems during a press tour at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant in Okuma, Fukushima Prefecture, on Nov. 12, 2014.
 
Sep 29, 2018
The operator of the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant has said that much of the radioactive water stored at the plant isn’t clean enough and needs further treatment if it is to be released into the ocean.
Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings Inc. and the government had said that treatment of the water had removed all radioactive elements except tritium, which experts say is safe in small amounts.
They called it “tritium water,” but it actually wasn’t.
Tepco said Friday that studies found the water still contains other elements, including radioactive iodine, cesium and strontium. It said more than 80 percent of the 900,000 tons of water stored in large, densely packed tanks contains radioactivity exceeding limits for release into the environment.
Tepco general manager Junichi Matsumoto said radioactive elements remained, especially earlier in the crisis when plant workers had to deal with large amounts of contaminated water leaking from the wrecked reactors and could not afford time to stop the treatment machines to change filters frequently.
“We had to prioritize processing large amounts of water as quickly as possible to reduce the overall risk,” Matsumoto said.
About 161,000 tons of the treated water has 10 to 100 times the limit for release into the environment, and another 65,200 tons has up to nearly 20,000 times the limit, Tepco said.
Matsumoto said the plant will treat the water further to ensure contamination levels are reduced to allowable limits.
He was responding to growing public criticism and distrust about the status of the water.
More than 7½ years since a massive March 2011 earthquake and tsunami destroyed three reactors at the plant, Japan has yet to reach a consensus on what to do with the radioactive water. Fishermen and residents oppose its release into the ocean. Nuclear experts have recommended the controlled release of the water into the Pacific as the only realistic option.
The release option faced harsh criticism at meetings in Fukushima and Tokyo in late August, when Tepco and government officials provided little explanation of the water contamination, which had been reported in local media days earlier.
Tepco only says it has the capacity to store up to 1.37 million tons of water through 2020 and that it cannot stay at the plant forever.
Some experts say the water can be stored for decades, but others say the tanks take up too much space at the plant and could interfere with ongoing decommissioning work that could take decades.

October 3, 2018 Posted by | Fukushima 2018 | , , | Leave a comment

Touching from a Distance: The workers of Fukushima Daiichi

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A hill looks out over Unit 2 (left) and Unit 3.
By Andrew Deck | Posted on September 28, 2018
Our tour van came to a stop in the pass between the Unit 2 and 3 reactors. The gap, once consumed by radioactive rubble, had been cleared several months before our visit to the Fukushima Daiichi plant in June. “You’ll have 10 minutes outside before we move onto the next location,” our guide announced to the vehicle, a portable Geiger counter in hand. We buckled our construction helmets, tightened the strings of our face masks and stepped out onto the open road. The Pacific coast was no more than 200 meters in front of us and on either side were nuclear reactor buildings. While Unit 2 was weathered but structurally intact, Unit 3 showed visible scars from the explosion it had suffered seven years earlier, marked by protruding support beams and fractured cement walls.
Since our day began at the edge of the exclusion zone in Tomioka, Fukushima, we had passed through half a dozen security checkpoints and received a full-body scan to measure internal radiation, a baseline reading for later comparison. Now, at the power plant, facing the shells of two nuclear meltdowns, our observation time was further regulated to minimize exposure. A visit to this part of the plant came with the understanding that just steps away were structures housing melted nuclear debris, the epicenters of one of the largest nuclear disasters in history.
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There were no hazmat suits or gas masks, the biohazard uniform most would imagine for this portion of the tour. Pants and a long-sleeved shirt was the required outfit, a protective layer augmented by gloves, a helmet and what could pass as a kafunsho (hay fever) mask. We were directed to tuck our pant legs into four layers of neon blue socks, which we slid into black ankle-cut rain boots. A personal Geiger counter was placed in the chest pocket of our mesh vests. It would set off an alarm when it reached the tour’s daily allowance for radiation exposure, 100 microsieverts, equivalent to a roundtrip flight between Narita and JFK. In our meticulously planned day-long tour, these counters wouldn’t reach more than 30 microsieverts.
The optics of this moment, standing in plain clothes next to two nuclear reactors, were not lost on Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO), which operates Fukushima Daiichi and facilitated Metropolis’ tour of the 3.5km² power station, known internally as 1F. Our guide remarked that they often bring visitors to this spot. Safely getting up close to one of the reactors, even if only for 10 minutes, is a gesture they hope will show conditions at the plant have improved substantially since the 2011 disaster.
In the past year, TEPCO has expanded the number of power station tours for journalists and the general public. These tours are an effort to increase transparency and educate the public on the plant’s status. They are also an effort to build goodwill for a company that is still maligned by many for its culpability in the disaster. Three retired TEPCO executives, Ichiro Takekuro, Sakae Muto and former chairman Tsunehisa Katsumata, are currently on trial for “professional negligence resulting in death and injury,” a criminal charge for ignoring internal reports that Fukushima Daiichi was at risk from a debilitating tsunami wave. The indictment was brought by a civilian judiciary panel, overruling prosecutors who had twice declined to press charges. The criminal trial follows a string of civil suits, including a ruling by a Tokyo court last year that ordered TEPCO to pay ¥11 billion (100 million USD) in damages to the residents of Minamisoma, Fukushima.
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As part of these tours, TEPCO is promoting what they consider major improvements to working conditions on the plant. Currently, 96 percent of 1F can be accessed with the “regular uniform” we wore during our tour. One of the most advertised portions of the plant is Sakura Dori, a roadway at the edge of  1F that has been specially maintained in order to match regularly-occurring radiation levels in Tokyo. Before the disaster, families of plant workers and local residents would gather under the road’s 1,000 blooming cherry blossoms trees for hanami (cherry blossom viewing) every April. This past year TEPCO invited journalists to Sakura Dori for a photo-op of the 380 trees that remain.
These entwined motivations of public education and public relations valence any visit to 1F, including Metropolis’. But even a manufactured look behind the power plant fences provides insight into the personal and working lives of the 5,000 people who are employed at Fukushima Daiichi daily. Their roles are diverse, from nuclear engineers and security guards, to bureaucratic liaisons and cafeteria servers. Decontamination workers stand alongside janitorial staff. There is even a fully-stocked Lawson convenience store tucked away in an administrative building with cashiers working the registers. Each of these workers wakes up every morning and must pass into the Fukushima exclusion zone on their way to work. Some even enter reactor buildings, earning their livelihood by putting themselves in proximity to dangerous nuclear debris.
As we walked down Sakura Dori towards our tour van, we passed a couple dozen workers; some matched us in attire, others wore blue TEPCO-issued coveralls, others wore anorak body suits and full-face masks, used in the plant’s most radioactive areas, or “R zones.” It was a muggy summer afternoon with grey clouds forecasting heavy rain. We were told heat stroke is a common problem when wearing full-body protective gear, one motivation behind efforts to make 1F more accessible with regular clothes. Without fail, though, each worker shared a hearty “otsukaresama” as they passed one another. The greeting is used to offer thanks for hard work; its literal translation addresses “someone who is tired.” Unlike PR officers, TEPCO executives and Diet legislators based in Tokyo’s Chiyoda Ward, it is 1F’s decommissioning workers who must walk Sakura Dori every day — not just when the cherry blossoms are in bloom. In some form, they will likely be walking this road for decades.
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On March 11, 2011 at 3:27 pm, a tsunami wave 13 meters tall crested over the six-meter seawall of Fukushima Daiichi’s complex, flooding the grounds with a force that crippled the nuclear power station’s vital cooling systems. Without electricity required to pump water into the reactors, the waterline dropped below the core rods in Units 1, 2 and 3, instigating a nuclear meltdown in each. Inside these reactor walls, boiling pools of stagnant water produced volatile amounts of hydrogen gas (a Zirconium-steam reaction). Within days Units 1, 3 and 4 (connected to the Unit 3 building by pipes) had all suffered explosions, carrying nuclear fallout over the Pacific and inland, disseminating across the towns of eastern Fukushima Prefecture. The nuclear fuel in Units 1, 2 and 3 soon melted through their primary containment vessels (PCVs) and pooled in the cement basements of each respective building, where it remains to this day.
Masahiro Yamamoto, 42, was there on March 11. In fact, he’s been at the Fukushima Daiichi power plant for over 20 years, his first and only job since university. Born in Shimonoseki, Yamaguchi Prefecture, where southernmost Honshu meets the tip of Kitakyushu, Yamamoto enrolled in a TEPCO-affiliated high school. Trained as an engineer, the feeder program placed him at the Fukushima plant back in 1994, where he worked a steady engineering job and raised his three children in Futaba. One of two towns that border 1F, the evacuated municipality currently has an actual population of zero.
“Before the disaster, I worked just like an average salaryman. But as disaster struck and the situation worsened, it was as if I was dropped right in the middle of a battlefield,”  he says. We don’t dwell on this difficult time, but Yamamoto shares some fragmented memories. “The monitors for the reactors started to show signs of abnormality, and I thought to myself, ‘what is going to happen now,’” he remembers. “My family lived nearby and I wanted to check their safety, but I had no way of communicating with them so I didn’t know whether they were swept away by the tsunami or injured by the quake. I had many worries, but I had to bury my feelings and focus on my duties. I managed to control myself up to that point.”
The Self-Defense Force came first; then other government agencies arrived — “When I was walking down the aisle to go to the restroom, the Prime Minister passed right by me.” Yamamoto’s workplace in a quiet seaside town had overnight become ground zero for a Level 7 nuclear accident, matched in severity only by the 1986 Chernobyl disaster. He describes himself and his team as co-workers that were suddenly required to be soldiers faced with daily life-threatening work. “When Unit 1 exploded, I was wearing my mask to go outside and work onsite at the reactors. I felt [the blast] blow across my face. Things took a turn for the worse and every time we had to go near the reactor buildings, our team was assembled knowing that there may be an explosion and we might die. We had to go through that many times, and it was psychologically hard on me.”
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Seven years later, the realities of working at Fukushima Daiichi have changed dramatically for Yamamoto. Along with 750 other TEPCO employees, he lives in company dormitory housing in the town of Okuma, just outside the exclusion zone. His family evacuated during the disaster and they have been living in Tokyo’s Otsuka neighborhood ever since. Long train rides on weekends are the only way he spends time with his wife and three children before returning to his duties at the plant.
“There’s nothing special about my job,” Yamamoto says, despite all signs to the contrary. “I think any work is hard and challenging.” He describes his average day, far removed from the emergency response. Early mornings begin with weight training; nights are spent studying eikaiwa (English conversation). He’s working to improve his English skills, in part, to share his experiences at the power plant and dispel fears about visiting Fukushima Prefecture. “I’d like many foreigners to come to Japan to learn not just about the fun things, but also about [Fukushima Daiichi] and the reality.”
Yamamoto currently serves as Team Leader at Units 5 and 6, two reactors that were spared from nuclear meltdowns but are set for decommissioning. While important work, this is only one part of an elaborate operation that also aspires to full decommissioning of Units 1, 2, 3 and 4 by 2050. Now seven years into this proposed timeline, some critics have questioned its feasibility. According to Daisuke Hirose, a TEPCO spokesperson who debriefed Metropolis on the state of decommissioning, there are three major priorities in fulfilling the plan as scheduled.
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The most complex is the location and extraction of nuclear fuel debris. Hundreds of tons of melted fuel remain buried deep within Units 1, 2 and 3, the exact locations of which remain unknown. Rubble and fatal radioactivity levels have rendered these parts of the reactor buildings inaccessible to humans, leaving remote-controlled robots the most viable method of investigation. Only minimal fuel debris in Unit 2 has currently been identified and the means of extraction have not been finalized, but Hirose says TEPCO will meet a 2021 benchmark for initial fuel extraction. Alongside the handling of nuclear debris, the plant must confront a rapid accumulation of contaminated water on site, perhaps the most urgent task facing the operation. 
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Despite the pressing and complex problems facing the project, Hirose argues that improving the safety of the plant must rank above all other priorities, “Decommissioning is something done by people. Our most important task is improving conditions at 1F for decommissioning workers.” Yamamoto, for one, insists he does not worry about his health while working at the plant. “At the time of the disaster, I couldn’t comprehend all the issues about contamination and radiation exposure, so I was very worried back then,” he says. “I don’t have those worries now.” Yamamoto’s duties at Units 5 and 6 include routine exposure to radiation, but he does not currently conduct work in the plant’s most radioactive locations. While we requested to speak to an employee with work duties in the R zone, TEPCO declined the request citing the priority for these employees as decommissioning work. “Of course, to be honest, there are some people who’ve suffered health damage, as has been reported in newspapers, so it’s not a zero,” he adds. Currently, 17 employees at 1F who’ve developed cancer have applied to the Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare for compensation as a work-related illness. In September, the Ministry acknowledged the first death related to radiation exposure at 1F, a subcontractor in his 50s who died of lung cancer.
Once a meishi (business card) that held tremendous social capital, TEPCO is now a company irrecoverably associated with the disaster. To many, the workers of Fukushima Daiichi are the face of this institution. Yamamoto shares stories of coworkers’ doors being vandalized with graffiti and trash being dumped in front of their homes. It is difficult to find sympathy for the TEPCO workers at 1F when considering the continued injustices suffered by the residents of Fukushima, but the victims of the nuclear disaster and the rain boots on the ground at 1F are not necessarily distinct populations. Around 60 percent of the employees at Fukushima Daiichi are from Fukushima Prefecture, a number that TEPCO says may be underreported since it only includes those born in the prefecture. In many instances, including Yamamoto’s, the workers at 1F are working towards recovering their own communities in the entwined futures of decommissioning and Fukushima’s restoration.
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Our coach passed the border of the “difficult to return zone,” a government-designated boundary that separates areas of Fukushima deemed habitable from those deemed uninhabitable. Suddenly we were facing the Fukushima “ghost towns” of popular imagination. While Fukushima Daiichi is ground zero, the heart of this disaster is in the abandoned towns of the prefecture: homes and businesses and schools left behind in an instant, hard evidence of the 160,000 residents that were displaced by the disaster. Abandoned vehicles, shattered windows, hollowed-out storefronts, a dilapidated pachinko parlor and seven years of weeds rising from cracks in the cement — they all passed by the coach windows on our approach to Fukushima Daiichi.
We were not the only vehicles on this highway, trucks rumbled past us and cars lined the road. Calling these “ghost towns” is a misnomer: these towns may be uninhabited, but they are not unoccupied. Many of these vehicles belonged to a decontamination project that spans the original 20km exclusion zone and beyond. It is not operated by TEPCO, but rather a web of government agencies and municipalities. Their job, first and foremost, entails the mass removal of dirt, stripping entire towns of topsoil and manually washing down rooftops and other surfaces that were doused in radioactive particles in an effort to clean away radiation. Fields of black refuse sacks, millions of which are filled with contaminated soil, now litter the prefecture without plans for their permanent storage or removal. Regardless of this work’s efficacy, it is an undertaking that requires a massive labor force; Japan’s Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare reports that more than 46,000 were employed in Fukushima decontamination work in 2016.
The harsh reality is that the disaster has disrupted the industries that once thrived in Fukushima Prefecture — fishing, agriculture and service jobs. Currently, only half of the region’s 1,000 fishermen are going out to sea and they face highly reduced demand. The decontamination industry is one of the few thriving seven years later, but this line of work is not without its risks. In early September, the UN human rights division released a statement warning of possible worker exploitation in the recovery effort, both within the prefectural decontamination projects and on the 1F site. “Workers hired to decontaminate Fukushima reportedly include migrant workers, asylum seekers and people who are homeless,” wrote three UN Special Rapporteurs. “They are often exposed to a myriad of human rights abuses, forced to make the abhorrent choice between their health and income, and their plight is invisible to most consumers and policymakers with the power to change it.” Japan’s Foreign Ministry responded by calling the statement “extremely regrettable.”
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We met Yamamoto in the parking lot of the plant after our tour. His TEPCO uniform had been exchanged for pants and a graphic-T. It is the second time we’d met that he had worn this particular gray short-sleeved shirt with a Ghostbusters logo emblazoned on its chest, one of his favorite movies as a child. Outside the plant, Yamamoto sheds his professional facade to reveal a youthful energy. During the night ahead we would visit an izakaya (Japanese pub) in Iwaki City and share stories over local sake and sashimi (sliced raw fish), once celebrated Fukushima products that have since been cast off supermarket shelves as new associations and stigmas took hold of the prefectural name.
There are many people who shoulder the burden of the nuclear disaster: parents sending their children to school with Geiger counters on their backpacks, farmers who have lost their livestock and livelihood, elderly left to care for deserted towns as the young set roots far from Futaba-gun, multi-generation Fukushima lineages that have been forced to abandon their familial homes for prefabricated temporary housing units. Yamamoto carries one small burden of this sweeping tragedy, as do the other workers of Fukushima Daiichi, as do those who labor in irradiated fields without other means of income. They are trying to extinguish a danger that can’t be seen, but its presence is felt in every aspect of their work. At times the job they’ve been assigned feels beyond comprehension, but Fukushima is not a supernatural disaster and Yamamoto is no ghostbuster. This disaster is deeply human, founded in both nature and negligence. “If you think in terms of decades, the long road ahead and the abstractness of it all will crush you,” says Yamamoto. “But just as with any other work, if you split up big projects into smaller pieces, the feeling of accomplishment from each small victory will keep you motivated.” Inside the exclusion zone, we witness the people of Fukushima trying to take their land a few steps closer to normal.
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October 3, 2018 Posted by | Fukushima 2018 | , , , | Leave a comment

USA in danger – of its own President in charge of new “low-yield{ nuclear weapons

On September 26, the global community celebrated International Day for the Total Elimination of Nuclear Weapons, a day designated by the United Nations (UN) to draw attention to one of its oldest goals: achieving global nuclear disarmament.

By unhappy coincidence, September 26 was also the day President Donald Trump addressed the UN Security Council, and total nuclear disarmament wasn’t exactly high on his agenda. As expected, he wants North Korea to fully abandon its arsenal (and Iran, though it doesn’t have one) — without the United States reducing its own in return.

Trump’s aggressive, bullying rhetoric was on full display throughout his remarks when he addressed the UN General Assembly the previous day. (He did dial it back a bit from last year’s UN address, when he said the United States would “totally destroy” North Korea and referred to Kim Jong Un as “Rocket Man,” but maybe that’s a low bar.)

Trump has made it abundantly clear that he’s not committed to nuclear disarmament. Like other presidents before him, he has the power to unilaterally order a first nuclear strike. Rather unlike others, he’s previously asked, if we have nuclear weapons, why can’t we use them?

But Congress has the power to act to avert a nuclear catastrophe. In fact, a few champions in Congress have recently taken critical steps to prevent the outbreak of nuclear war.

On September 18, Representatives Ted Lieu, Adam Smith, John Garamendi, Earl Blumenauer, and Senator Ed Markey introduced a bill called the “Hold the LYNE Act,” which stands for Low-Yield Nuclear Explosive. It would “prohibit the research, development, production, and deployment of low-yield nuclear warheads for submarine-launched ballistic missiles.”

So-called “low-yield” nuclear weapons actually lower the threshold for nuclear war and increase the risk that they may actually be used.

“There’s no such thing as a low-yield nuclear war,” said Lieu in the joint press release announcing the bill. “Use of any nuclear weapon, regardless of its killing power, could be catastrophically destabilizing. It opens the door for severe miscalculation and could drag the U.S. and our allies into a devastating nuclear conflict.”

We’ve come very close to nuclear war in the past. On September 26, 1983, Soviet military officer Stanislav Petrov made a split-second decision and deemed a supposed missile attack from the United States to be an error, refusing to carry out an order to counterattack and thus averting a nuclear war.

If Petrov hadn’t made that judgment, we might not even be here to advocate for a world free of nuclear weapons.

Let’s take the lessons we’ve learned from the past and use them to create a healthier, safer future for young people and future generations, so they won’t have to worry about the looming threat of nuclear war.

The president of the United States may not have marked the International Day for the Total Elimination of Nuclear Weapons. The rest of us still can.

October 3, 2018 Posted by | USA, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Hinkley radioactive mud case in court

Huffington Post 1st Oct 2018 A Cardiff court will play host to a group of activists on Tuesday, as they
fight for an injunction to stop 300,000 tonnes of “nuclear mud” from a
Somerset power station being disposed of just outside Cardiff.
The unusual dispute centres on the “Hinkley Point C” building site, where energy
supplier EDF are currently in the process of constructing two new nuclear
reactors. In order to drill the six shafts needed for the reactors, EDF is
clearing 300,000 tonnes of mud and sediment – and planning to dispose of it
just off the Welsh coast, on the Cardiff Grounds sandbank.
The prospect of that amount of waste being ditched a mile and a half away hasn’t exactly
excited locals or environmental campaigners, but there’s another factor
causing added concern. For decades, Hinkley Point has been a nuclear power
hub, with its first station – “A” – operating for 35 years before
closing in 2000. Hinkley Point B was opened in 1976 and is still
functioning today.
The presence of these two plants has led to concerns
over whether the mud there is radioactive and when the plans were
announced, various online petitions calling for the Welsh Assembly to look
into the matter were launched online, gathering a total of 100,000
signatures by mid-September. Keyboard player Cian Ciarán has become
something of a spokesperson for the campaign. His worries – shared by his
fellow campaigners – are centred on the validity of the tests carried out.
“They try to convince us that the mud is safe and there’s nothing to
worry about but I can’t take the nuclear industry’s word for it,” he
told the paper. “The Welsh government has had ample opportunity to stop
it but they haven’t. They’ve put their heads in the mud rather than
sand.
https://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/entry/hinkley-point-c-super-furry-animals-mud_uk_5bb22f81e4b0c75759677a09

October 3, 2018 Posted by | Legal, UK | Leave a comment

USA EPA to weaken safeguards on ionising radiation

Nuke Expert Dana Durnford Unpacks – Linear No-Threshold (LNT) Debate

Trump’s EPA moving to loosen radiation limits, Financial Post, Ellen Knickmeyer, 2 Oct 18 WASHINGTON — The Trump administration is quietly moving to weaken U.S. radiation regulations, turning to scientific outliers who argue that a bit of radiation damage is actually good for you — like a little bit of sunlight.

The government’s current, decades-old guidance says that any exposure to harmful radiation is a cancer risk. And critics say the proposed change could lead to higher levels of exposure for workers at nuclear installations and oil and gas drilling sites, medical workers doing X-rays and CT scans, people living next to Superfund sites and any members of the public who one day might find themselves exposed to a radiation release.

The Trump administration already has targeted a range of other regulations on toxins and pollutants, including coal power plant emissions and car exhaust, that it sees as costly and burdensome for businesses. Supporters of the EPA’s new radiation guidance argue the government’s current no-tolerance rule for radiation damage forces unnecessary spending for handling exposure in accidents, at nuclear plants, in medical centres and at other sites.

…… The proposed rule would require regulators to consider “various threshold models across the exposure range” when it comes to dangerous substances.

While it does not specify that it’s addressing radiation and chemicals, an EPA news release on the rule quotes Edward Calabrese as saying it would: “The proposal represents a major scientific step forward by recognizing the widespread occurrence of non-linear dose responses in toxicology and epidemiology for chemicals and radiation and the need to incorporate such data in the risk assessment process.”

The comment period for the science regulation has ended and the agency is currently reviewing the comments. There’s no specific date for final action by the administration. The EPA declined to make an official with its radiation-protection program available.

…  what’s of concern is the higher-energy, shorter-wave radiation, like X-rays, that can penetrate and disrupt living cells, sometimes causing cancer.

As recently as this March, the EPA’s online guidelines for radiation effects advised: “Current science suggests there is some cancer risk from any exposure to radiation.

“Even exposures below 100 millisieverts” — an amount roughly equivalent to 25 chest X-rays or about 14 CT chest scans — “slightly increase the risk of getting cancer in the future,” the agency’s guidance said.

But that online guidance — separate from the rule-change proposal — was edited in July to add a section emphasizing the low individual odds of cancer: “According to radiation safety experts, radiation exposures of …100 millisieverts usually result in no harmful health effects, because radiation below these levels is a minor contributor to our overall cancer risk,” the revised policy says.

…….. The radiation regulation is supported by Steven Milloy, a Trump transition team member for the EPA who is known for challenging widely accepted ideas about manmade climate change and the health risks of tobacco. He has been promoting Calabrese’s theory of healthy radiation on his blog.

But Jan Beyea, a physicist whose work includes research with the National Academies of Science on the 2011 Fukushima nuclear power plant accident, said the EPA science proposal represents voices “generally dismissed by the great bulk of scientists.”

The EPA proposal would lead to “increases in chemical and radiation exposures in the workplace, home and outdoor environment, including the vicinity of Superfund sites,” Beyea wrote.

At the level the EPA website talks about, any one person’s risk of cancer from radiation exposure is perhaps 1 per cent, Beyea said.

“The individual risk will likely be low, but not the cumulative social risk,” Beyea said.

“If they even look at that — no, no, no,” said Terrie Barrie, a resident of Craig, Colorado, and an advocate for her husband and other workers at the now-closed Rocky Flats nuclear-weapons plant, where the U.S. government is compensating certain cancer victims regardless of their history of exposure.

“There’s no reason not to protect people as much as possible,” said Barrie.

U.S. agencies for decades have followed a policy that there is no threshold of radiation exposure that is risk-free.

The National Council on Radiation Protection and Measurements reaffirmed that principle this year after a review of 29 public health studies on cancer rates among people exposed to low-dose radiation, via the U.S. atomic bombing of Japan in World War II, leak-prone Soviet nuclear installations, medical treatments and other sources.

Twenty of the 29 studies directly support the principle that even low-dose exposures cause a significant increase in cancer rates, said Roy Shore, chief of research at the Radiation Effects Research Foundation, a joint project of the United States and Japan. Scientists found most of the other studies were inconclusive and decided one was flawed.

None supported the theory there is some safe threshold for radiation, said Shore, who chaired the review.

If there were a threshold that it’s safe to go below, “those who profess that would have to come up with some data,” Shore said in an interview.

“Certainly the evidence did not point that way,” he said……… https://business.financialpost.com/pmn/business-pmn/epa-says-a-little-radiation-may-be-healthy

October 3, 2018 Posted by | secrets,lies and civil liberties, USA | Leave a comment

Grand Canyon uranium mining ban upheld by Supreme Court

Grand Canyon uranium mining ban upheld as supreme court declines to hear challenge
Court says extraction ban is among cases it refuses to review, in victory for environmental groups and Native American communities,
Guardian, Joanna Walters in New York @Joannawalters13 2 Oct 2018 The ban on new uranium mining near the Grand Canyon implemented by the Obama administration was effectively upheld on Monday when the US supreme court declined to hear a challenge from the industry.

October 3, 2018 Posted by | Legal, USA | 1 Comment