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Meet the robots looking for fuel after Fukushima’s Daiichi nuclear disaster



November 20, 2018
Chernobyl remains the world’s worst nuclear disaster in terms of lives lost, but the worst radioactive mess the world has ever dealt with is in Fukushima, Japan. Seven years after the most powerful earthquake ever recorded in Japan led to a massive meltdown in the Daiichi Power Plant, Lesley Stahl reports on a clean-up effort that looks like a science fiction film. Her story on how one-of-a-kind robots are being designed for the decades-long task will be broadcast on 60 Minutes, Sunday, Nov. 25 at 7:30 p.m. ET and 7 p.m. PT on CBS.
The earthquake struck March 11, 2011, causing several huge tsunami waves that swamped Daiichi, cutting power to the seaside facility’s cooling pumps. Three reactors melted down, creating up to 3,000 tons of deadly radioactive fuel and debris that lays in the plant’s ruins. Finding it and containing it safely will be a historic task says nuclear engineer Lake Barrett. “This is a unique situation here. It’s never happened in human history. It’s a challenge we’ve never had before,” he tells Stahl. Barrett oversaw the cleanup of the Three Mile Island partial meltdown in 1979, the worst nuclear accident at a power plant in the U.S. He is also a consultant on the Daiichi project.
Daiichi can’t be encased in concrete, like Chernobyl, says Barrett, because the potential for another earthquake or tsunami that could compromise the structure is too high. Humans can’t get near the material; it will remain deadly for thousands of years. Authorities hope specially designed robots will find, remove and secure the toxic material in special containment vessels. But it could take 50 years and cost an estimated $200 billion.
There are four-legged robots, some that climb stairs and even robots that can swim into reactors flooded with water. They’re equipped with 3-D scanners, sensors and cameras that map the terrain, measure radiation levels and look for the deadly material.
The Japanese government set up a research facility nearby to develop and test the robots. Some have been deployed in what amounts to experimentation at this early stage, says Barrett. One robot is called the Scorpion for its ability to raise its camera-carrying tail. It struck debris and became stuck only ten feet into its $100 million mission. Says Barrett, “You learn more from failure sometimes than you do from success.”
Other early versions of robots died quick deaths, too, their cameras and operating systems fried by the intense radiation. It’s a slow and steady project, says Barrett, that he is confident will get done, but not in his lifetime, nor those of many others involved. The task has been compared to putting a man on the Moon. “It’s even a bigger project in my view. But there’s a will here to clean this up as there was a will to put a man on the moon,” says Barrett.


November 25, 2018 Posted by | Fukushima 2018 | , | Leave a comment

Ken Watanabe to Star in Film About Fukushima Nuclear Disaster

I ‘d like to know who are this movie producers, who are financing it…. Will it be straightforward or will it be just another spinned piece???

November 19, 2018
‘Fukushima 50’ will tell the story of the workers who stayed at the power plant after a massive tsunami had knocked out its cooling systems.
Ken Watanabe will star as the head of the crisis-hit Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear plant in Fukushima 50, from Japan’s Kadokawa Corporation and directed by Setsuro Wakamatsu.
Watanabe will play Masao Yoshida, the superintendent of the plant who was on duty when it was swamped by a tsunami that followed a massive earthquake in Japan’s northeast on March 11, 2011, knocking out the cooling systems. Yoshida ignored orders by his bosses at Tokyo Electric Power Co. and pumped seawater into the overheating reactors, likely preventing a worse disaster.
The following year, Yoshida was diagnosed with esophageal cancer and died in July 2013 at age 58.
The crewmembers at the plant who stayed on to try and prevent the meltdown of three reactors at the nuclear power station were lauded in the international media as the “Fukushima 50.”
Appearing alongside Watanabe will be veteran actor Koichi Sato, who in his 106th career role will play the shift supervisor at the time of the disaster. The film is based on the book On the Brink: The Inside Story of Fukushima Daiichi by Ryusho Kadota.
“I had promised to Koichi that I would play any role in his next film,” said Watanabe. “However, this was a challenging film to be a part of when the people of Fukushima are still suffering such loss and devastation. My hope is that, along with the wonderful cast and Wakamatsu directing, we will make a film that shows the intensity and bravery of these people that prevented a tragedy of epic proportions.”
Said Wakamatsu: “The Fukushima accident shook not only the people of Japan but also around the world. This film is about the power plant workers on the front line who faced an unprecedented crisis and risked their lives to save their families, their hometown and avert a disaster of global magnitude.”
Shooting on the film is set to begin at the end of November, with a release scheduled for 2020.

November 25, 2018 Posted by | Fukushima 2018 | , , | Leave a comment

Residents of nuclear crisis hit Namie to sue TEPCO, gov’t after settlement talks fail


gfg.jpgLawyer Yasuyoshi Hamano (second from right), a key member of a legal team for Namie residents who will sue Tokyo Electric Power Co. demanding compensation for the 2011 nuclear disaster, explains the legal action in Koriyama, Fukushima Prefecture, on Nov. 18, 2018.


November 19, 2018
KORIYAMA, Fukushima — Residents of the town of Namie, Fukushima Prefecture, are set to sue the government and the operator of nearby Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station for more compensation over damages caused by the plant’s March 2011 triple core meltdown, lawyers for the residents said on Nov. 18.
The lawyers told a press conference here that the residents decided to take the case to the Fukushima District Court on Nov. 27 after the operator, Tokyo Electric Power Co. (TEPCO), repeatedly rejected settlement proposals offered in an alternative dispute resolution (ADR) process.
The lawyers said roughly 100 people from the town in northeastern Japan are expected to launch the suit, but the number will likely reach about 2,000. Participating residents held a meeting on Nov. 18 to establish a group of plaintiffs in the prefectural city of Koriyama.
This will be the first time that a group of residents has filed a class action lawsuit after an ADR effort over the nuclear disaster was discontinued, according to the attorneys.
The nuclear disaster at the Fukushima Daiichi station was triggered by the Great East Japan Earthquake and tsunami. Damaged reactors spewed out large amounts of radioactive materials into the surrounding environment, forcing many Namie and other nearby residents to flee. Some have since returned to their homes.
In the five-year-long redress negotiations after the nuclear disaster, TEPCO kept turning down out of court deal proposals made by the Nuclear Damage Claim Dispute Resolution Center, despite the utility’s earlier promise to respect such proposals. This forced the center to discontinue the resolution process for some 15,000 Namie residents in April 2018. Over that period, about 850 petitioners, including elderly people, passed away, according to the lawyers.
The would-be plaintiffs will demand additional compensation from TEPCO for “betraying the residents’ expectations” by repeatedly refusing to settle the dispute, explained their lawyers.
“TEPCO has rejected reconciliation proposals by citing irrational reasons. As long as the alternative dispute resolution process is ignored, there’s no way to extend relief to residents so we have to launch a lawsuit,” said lawyer Masaharu Hioki, who heads the legal team for the residents.
In the suit, the residents will demand compensation for being forced to evacuate from their neighborhoods, having their communities destroyed by the disaster and having their expectations for a settlement betrayed by the utility.
Evacuation instructions have been lifted in Namie except in areas designated as zones where it will be difficult for residents to return in the foreseeable future. However, the residents will demand a uniform amount of damages in the suit they will launch. They will also sue the government in order to clarify the state’s responsibility for the nuclear accident in March 2011.
The dispute between Namie residents and TEPCO over compensation dates back to May 2013 when the Namie Municipal Government filed a petition with the Nuclear Damage Claim Dispute Resolution Center for an alternative dispute resolution. The move came when late mayor Tamotsu Baba, who passed away in June this year, was actively advocating for better compensation for the townspeople.
In the petition, the town demanded that the amount of monthly compensation for mental anguish be increased from 100,000 yen per person, as set by the Dispute Reconciliation Committee for Nuclear Damage Compensation, to 350,000 yen. In the petition, the town authority represented about 15,000 individuals, or roughly 70 percent of all its residents.
The committee had calculated the amount based on the figure of 126,000 yen per month paid to traffic accident victims from the automobile liability insurance policy. The 100,000 yen includes money to cover an increase in victims’ living expenses as a result of evacuation.
Town officials argued at that time that it was “unreasonable that residents receive less compensation than that for traffic accidents” when they were forced out of their hometowns, with fears of radiation exposure and evacuation altering their living environments. “Town residents suffer damage equally. It’s only natural for the municipal government responsible for their social welfare to file the petition,” they said.
In March 2014, the resolution center proposed reconciliation, under which the amount would be raised by 50,000 yen per month for those under 75 years old and up to 80,000 yen for those aged 75 or over.
The municipal government accepted the proposal on behalf of the residents. However, TEPCO rejected any uniform increase in the amount of compensation six times, forcing the resolution center to discontinue the resolution process.
(Japanese original by Toshiki Miyazaki, Fukushima Bureau)


November 25, 2018 Posted by | Fukushima 2018 | , | Leave a comment

Fukushima Daiichi control room revealed 7 yrs after meltdowns


ssff.jpgThis photo taken on Nov. 15, 2018 shows the inside of the main control room of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant.


November 19, 2018
FUKUSHIMA (Kyodo) — Time seemed to have stopped inside the main control room for the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant’s crippled Nos. 3 and 4 reactors — that is how Kyodo News reporters felt when they recently became the first journalists to enter the facility since the 2011 nuclear meltdowns there.
The control room’s interior has been left almost untouched since the disaster. Handwriting was found on the wall near an instrument that used to measure the No. 3 reactor’s water levels, showing the urgency faced by some 10 workers there at the time of the crisis.
“We don’t write (on the wall) under a normal situation, so it indicates it was an emergency,” said an official of the plant’s operator, Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings Inc.
The nuclear crisis was triggered by the magnitude 9.0 earthquake and ensuing tsunami that flooded the facility on the Pacific Coast of Japan on March 11, 2011.
The No. 3 reactor suffered a fuel meltdown and a hydrogen explosion, while the No. 4 reactor, which did not have nuclear fuel inside, also exploded due to a hydrogen inflow from the nearby reactor.
In February 2014, TEPCO showed the media the control room for the Nos. 1 and 2 reactors, which also suffered meltdowns, but had kept the control room for the Nos. 3 and 4 closed due to high levels of radiation in the area.
Radiation levels inside the control room for Nos. 3 and 4, whose floor is now covered by special sheets, was 6 microsieverts per hour, which contrasts with 0.037 microsievert per hour in Tokyo’s Shinjuku Ward on Sunday.
The room, which now has only a few lights, is no longer in use as its functions have been transferred to a quake-resistant building.
Following the crisis, which equaled the severity of the 1986 Chernobyl disaster, some 160,000 people were evacuated and more than 40,000 remained displaced as of late September.

November 25, 2018 Posted by | Fukushima 2018 | , | Leave a comment

Exports of Fukushima-brand alcohol hit record in fiscal 2017

What is wrong with those people? Are they just uninformed? Ignorant? Don’t they know, understand that this sake is made with Fukushima rice, a radiation contaminated rice…. To drink alcohol is one thing, but to drink radiation contaminated alcohol is like having a death wish….

n-fukushimafile-z-20181119-870x581.jpgThe United States imported 118,000 liters — 77,000 liters of sake and 41,000 liters of other alcohol, accounting for 40 percent of the prefecture’s alcohol export.

November 18, 2018
Exports of sake, liquor and other alcoholic beverages produced in Fukushima Prefecture reached a record high of about 296,000 liters in fiscal 2017, or 3.2 times that of fiscal 2012, when the Fukushima Trade Promotion Council, in charge of supporting business activities among local companies and municipalities, began monitoring the figures.
The total value of alcohol exports was ¥363.37 million, up 16 percent from the year before.
The Fukushima Prefectural Government plans to further promote the safety and attraction of local alcohol, aiming to rebuild its reputation after the nuclear meltdowns at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant in March 2011.
In fiscal 2017, the amount of sake exported rose 11.9 percent from a year earlier to 179,000 liters, worth ¥204.69 million. Other alcohol, including whiskey, plum wine, and shōchū(spirits) jumped 23 percent to 117,000 liters, worth ¥158.68 million.
The United States imported 118,000 liters — 77,000 liters of sake and 41,000 liters of other alcohol, accounting for 40 percent of the prefecture’s alcohol export. France imported 53,000 liters — 2,000 liters of sake and 51,000 liters of other alcohol — accounting for 18.1 percent. South Korea imported 39,000 liters of sake, accounting for 13.2 percent.
Out of all the sake produced in Fukushima, 43.1 percent was exported to the U.S. To take advantage of the trend and the popularity of Japanese cuisine in America, the prefecture will launch an antenna shop in New York to sell Fukushima-brand sake by the end of March.
The prefecture will also release about three PR videos with English subtitles on YouTube to promote local sake to English-speaking consumers.
Fukushima aims to increase its alcohol exports to 500,000 liters, worth ¥700 million, by the end of fiscal 2020. It also plans to reinforce sales by focusing on five countries and regions including the U.S., France, where sake is becoming increasingly popular, and Hong Kong, where there are a number of Japanese restaurants.
However, out of the 58 breweries in the Fukushima Prefecture Sake Brewers Cooperative, only 24 had exported their sake abroad. To achieve the prefecture’s goal, the next thing they will need to do is to increase the number of sake exporters.
“It was the result of each maker’s efforts to improve the taste,” Yoshihiro Ariga, chairman of the cooperative, said in referring to the record exports in fiscal 2017.
But he also said further support will be needed.
“It costs a huge amount of money and effort to export sake,” Ariga said, urging municipalities to provide further assistance to small breweries.
According to the Finance Ministry, 23,482,000 liters of sake were exported in 2017, breaking the record for an eighth consecutive year.


November 25, 2018 Posted by | Fukushima 2018 | , , , | Leave a comment

IAEA Urges TEPCO on Fukushima Daiichi Radioactive Water Disposal

LIES: ‘Treatment of contaminated water can remove all radioactive substances except tritium, which also exists in nature. As things stand, other radioactive substances also remain because the purification process is premised on the water being stored. In the event of this water being released into the ocean, or disposed of in another way, the tritium would of course be diluted and the other substances brought to or below allowable levels by purifying the water again.’
1. Radioactive tritium does not exist in nature.
2. Other radioactive substances remain in the radioactive water because both of their radionuclides removal systems failed to do fully the job.
3. In the event of this radioactive water being released into the ocean those radionuclides would not be “diluted’ but only scattered through the ocean, affecting all marine life and contaminating our food chain.




IAEA’s report sensible on Fukushima N-plant contaminated water disposal
November 18, 2018
An international organization has provided some sensible advice. The government and Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings Inc. must act quickly to move ahead with decommissioning reactors at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant.
A review team of the International Atomic Energy Agency has compiled a preliminary summary report that urges a quick decision on the disposal method for the massive volume of water being stored at the power plant. The report warns that storage tanks will reach capacity in three to four years.
Groundwater enters the damaged nuclear plant buildings, where it becomes contaminated by radioactive substances. TEPCO purifies this water and stores it in tanks that stand in vast rows on the nuclear plant’s premises. There is little space available for more tanks.
The IAEA team hit the nail on the head with its concern that getting stuck on this problem could slow down the entire decommissioning process.
The review team came to Japan at the request of the Japanese government. The team is expected to objectively evaluate the current status of the decommissioning process, and to convey information about this situation to the world. The team will soon write a report containing its findings and advice, based on information including that gleaned from a visit to the site.
Given its role is to provide advice, the team’s report did not mention in detail any specific water disposal methods. However, at a press conference, the team’s leader pointed out that releasing such water into the ocean — an option under consideration by the government — is commonly done by many nuclear power facilities.
It also has been made clear that gaining the support of the Fukushima prefectural government and others will be a major precondition for any water disposal option.
Explain clearly to public
All steps need to be taken to keep the negative effects of harmful rumors about radiation to a minimum. The government and TEPCO should painstakingly continue to hold dialogue with local communities.
The review team also recommended how information about the disposal of treated water should be provided to the public.
Treatment of contaminated water can remove all radioactive substances except tritium, which also exists in nature. As things stand, other radioactive substances also remain because the purification process is premised on the water being stored. In the event of this water being released into the ocean, or disposed of in another way, the tritium would of course be diluted and the other substances brought to or below allowable levels by purifying the water again.
Distrust of the government and TEPCO has heightened because this fact has not been well-publicized.
On its website, TEPCO has posted information about the quality of water that has been treated. The review team said TEPCO should work to provide relevant information “in an easy-to-understand manner.”
Technical information delivered without proper explanations also will not be understood among the general public. Ingenuity will be required.
The decommissioning process has shifted from the emergency response immediately after the accident to a more stable situation and a phase in which work should be steadily implemented. The review team expressed awareness of this point, but also showed concern over ongoing problems, such as difficulty in removing fuel from reactor No. 3’s storage pool.
Difficult challenges lie ahead, including removing fuel debris. This will be a long process that takes 40 years. The technology and human resources development called for by the preliminary summary report must not be neglected.

IAEA urges quick plan on Fukushima radioactive water cleanup
November 18, 2018
TOKYO (AP) — Experts from the International Atomic Energy Agency urged the operator of Japan’s tsunami-wrecked Fukushima nuclear plant on Tuesday to urgently decide on a plan to dispose of massive amounts of treated but still radioactive water stored in tanks on the compound.
A 13-member IAEA team told reporters in Tokyo after a weeklong review that managing nearly 1 million tons of radioactive water is critical to the plant’s safe and sustainable decommissioning.
The IAEA team said in a preliminary report that hundreds of tanks currently used to store the water over large areas of the plant’s compound can only be a temporary solution and must be removed “urgently.”
The cores of three reactors at the plant suffered meltdowns following a massive 2011 earthquake and tsunami that devastated parts of northeastern Japan.
Radioactive water has leaked from the damaged reactors and mixed with groundwater and rainwater at the plant. The water is treated and stored in large tanks.
More than 7 ½ years since the accident, officials have yet to agree on what to do with the radioactive water. A government-commissioned panel has picked five alternatives, including the controlled release of the water into the Pacific Ocean, which nuclear experts say is the only realistic option. Fishermen and residents, however, strongly oppose the proposal.
That option faced a major setback this summer when the plant’s operator, Tokyo Electric Power Co., acknowledged that the water, which it said had been carefully treated, was not clean enough. It said the water contains cancer-causing cesium and other elements in excess of allowable limits for release into the environment.
The IAEA interim report said TEPCO could run out of space for tanks in a few years, and the water storage adds to safety risks and could hamper the decommissioning of the plant, which is already an unprecedented challenge.
It said the water problem has improved recently because of measures such as an underground frozen wall installed around the reactor buildings to keep the radioactive water from mixing with groundwater. It suggested that TEPCO could further reduce the amount of contaminated water by cutting back on the use of cooling water injected into the reactors because the temperature of the melted fuel has fallen significantly.
IAEA mission leader Christophe Xerri told reporters that it is uncertain whether all of the melted fuel can ever be successfully removed because too little is known about the damage to the cores of the three reactors.
TEPCO and government officials plan to start removing the melted fuel in 2021. Robotic probes inside the reactors have detected traces of damaged fuel but its exact location, contents and other details remain largely unknown.
“If you don’t have the information it’s very difficult to say it’s possible or not” to remove all the fuel, Xerri said.
The team’s final report from its review is expected in late January.

November 25, 2018 Posted by | Fukushima 2018 | , , | Leave a comment

Excerpts from Asahi Journalist AOKI Miki’s “Streets Erased from the Map: Post-3.11, the Prohibited Truth”



November 18, 2018
AOKI Miki (青木美希) is a journalist at the Asahi newspaper, one of Japan’s major news companies. Kodansha published her book, Streets Erased from the Map: Post-3.11, the Prohibited Truth(『地図から消される街ー3.11後の「言ってはいけない真実」』), in March 2018. It is the culmination of 7 years of continuous reporting on the 2011 TEPCO nuclear disaster. I have roughly translated and/or summarized some of the stories she documented in this book. (Where she refers to herself in the text, I have translated it as “I”; clarifying annotations/notes are mine).
CHAPTER 1: Local TEPCO Employees Who Can’t Raise Their Voices
Pages 28-39 (summarized):
Before the nuclear disaster, becoming a TEPCO employee was something many people aspired to. People used to say, “For a man to work at TEPCO means lifelong security; women should try to marry a TEPCO employee.” But after the disaster, they were resented. In the evacuation shelters, parents watched as their sons went back to work at Ichi-efu (1F = Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant). Before they left, they would write letters conveying their final farewells. I talked to a father who could not tell anyone at the shelter that his child worked at TEPCO.
I spoke to a young TEPCO worker. He was a local hire with a high school degree. He often went to TEPCO’s public relations museum as a kid, hoping he could one day become part of the future it displayed. When the earthquake happened, he wasn’t worried. The Meteorological Agency estimated that the tsunami height would be 3 meters, so he figured it would be about 1 meter, if it came at all. But as he was working in the reactor building, the power went out. Sea water started gushing in in the darkness. He ran up to the central control room, filled with monitors that would normally display live footage from various sectors of the power plant. But since there was no electricity, there was no information. He couldn’t get any of the pumps to move, since there was nothing to power them. So there was nothing to do but wait. That is where he was when the first hydrogen explosion happened. There were no windows in the control room, so he only heard it—an awful noise. The phones were still working, and he learned from a coworker that reactor 1 had exploded, and was thick with smoke.
About 2-3 hours after the explosion, an older employee said at least all the guys in their 20s and 30s should go to the quake-proof building, which is built with thick steel-enforced concrete [i.e., younger workers should evacuate there because the radiation levels are lower]. By then, more people had come in to work, and there were quite a few present who were in their 40s and 50s. So it was decided that all the younger men would evacuate—about 20 to 30 people total. They put on full face masks, light protective gear, and gloves to protect themselves from radioactive contamination, then ran together to the building, 350 meters away. The area was covered in debris, so they couldn’t use any of the cars onsite. They ended up running about 1 km to avoid getting too close to reactors 1 and 2.
Once they got there, he heard that two coworkers who had been sent to reactor 4 were missing. The building they had evacuated to still had power, so they could use the computers. But they still couldn’t do anything. All they could do was wait. They were still there during the explosion at reactor 3 on March 14th. Then the fuel rods in reactor 2 were damaged. The young TEPCO workers evacuated to a gym at the Daini nuclear power plant. They stayed there until the evening of March 16th, and then were told to go home.
After a week, the young worker was told to come back. His father didn’t say anything, but his mother told him not to go. But he told himself, “Who is there but us? This is happening in the town I grew up in. I need to keep the damage to a minimum.”
He did work like helping other workers out of their protective gear and handling the power switches for various machines at the entrance of a reactor building.
When he had been waiting in the quake-proof building, he had learned that two of his coworkers were missing. Someone started a rumor online that they were just enjoying themselves in Koriyama, drinking and joking about having pretended to be victims of the tsunami. Their bodies were found on March 30th, in one of the lower levels. The cause of death was shock from external bleeding from various injuries. Like him, they had been working in reactor 4 as ordered by their superior when the tsunami hit.
Things started to calm down in fall 2011, and he started to worry about the impact of the working conditions from that earlier period. His radiation exposure levels had not been recorded. He had been working without an APD (active personal dosimeter).
Note: It is industry standard for all workers to carry a personal dosimeter with them to record their external radiation exposure levels. According to a study summarized by the Radiation Work Network (Hibaku Rodo Network), the amount recorded can vary significantly even depending on where the dosimeter is kept on the body. It should also be noted that there are frequent reports of various workarounds to manipulate radiation exposure measurements. Though journalistic reports of the Japanese nuclear industry have suggested that conditions improved when records started being digitally displayed instead of being transcribed by hand, personal dosimeter measurements remain one of the things that are made flexible in a work-related pinch. Some workers who go to areas with high radiation levels are not issued APDs; sometimes a veteran worker might take both his and a subordinate’s APD with him to make that worker’s exposure levels seem lower or higher; etc. (In some cases, workers want their exposure levels to seem lower than they actually are to stay under the exposure limit so they can keep working).
At first, this was because nearly all the APDs were lost in the tsunami. Of the 5000 or so APDs that were onsite, only the 320 or so stored in the earthquake-proof building remained. At first, TEPCO said there would be enough to go around if only one representative from each work team used an APD. But even after huge amount of APDs were sent to 1F from other nuclear power plants, TEPCO kept up with this policy. So about 3000 people continued working without APDs.
Radiation levels varied significantly by location (0.03-0.04 millisieverts/hr in the central control room, versus 1 millisievert/hr+ close to the exhaust stacks where the hydrogen explosions had occurred). But the radiation levels for all members of a team were recorded as the same as that of the team leader.
Note: This account actually understates the extreme degree to which radiation levels can vary onsite. There are small hotspots with extremely high radiation levels, whose locations might change with conditions in the plant. One worker remembered being told to stay away from a particular corner. The radiation levels there were 600-some millisieverts/hour. He was shocked, and said, “600 millisieverts, not microsieverts?” To which he received the dry reply, “That’s right, millisieverts. In microsieverts, it would be 600,000 per hour.” The area was not cordoned or marked off in any way. This was a few years after the meltdown. (For reference, average radiation levels in Fukushima prior to the meltdown were 0.05~0.07 microsieverts/hr; the international standard for the general population’s annual exposure limit is 1 millisievert/year).
On March 31st, TEPCO was issued a warning by the Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency, and subsequently recommenced issuing one APD per person. After that, workers were told that the company would correct its records of their radiation exposure levels. They were asked for details about where they had worked during the first week. But they probably couldn’t do much to correct the numbers, since no one had measurements of the radiation levels in different areas of the site at that time.
The first time they were able to measure their internal radiation levels was in early summer. A bus drove a simplified whole body counter (WBC) to Iwaki city, and measurements were taken. But the data was not shared with the workers. They were told it could not be share with them because it was “personal information.”
After repeatedly asking for it, the young worker finally got his data. He found his internal exposure level had been recorded at 50 millisieverts (mSv). Combined with his external exposure of 30 mSv, he had been exposed to a total of 80 mSv. When he thought about the standards for occupational illness recognition, he became afraid. It’s 5 mSv for leukemia; 25 mSv for a malignant lymph tumor; 50 mSv for multiple myeloma; 100 mSv for stomach cancer or esophageal cancer… He wanted to get married down the road and have kids… What if he got cancer 20 years later?
Note: Radioactive particles cycle through the body at different speeds according to their chemical properties. For example, Cesium-137 and Cesium-134 generally remain in the body for about one month. Additionally, much of the radiation emitted during the early stages of a nuclear meltdown comes from radioactive isotopes with short half-lives. A WBC is unable to measure the amount of radiation that was emitted by particles that already cycled out of someone’s body, nor can it measure the amount of radiation that had been emitted by particles that have already ceased to emit radiation. Consequently, even the figure of 50 mSv is an underestimation of his total internal dose from the nuclear meltdown.
<<Rough translations start here>>
He asked to be transferred, but his superior refused, telling him, “You haven’t gotten to 100 mSv yet. I’ll let out people with high exposure levels first.”
He thought about quitting. His mother encouraged him as well. But, he thought to himself, the reality is that about half of the hires at TEPCO are local people. If we don’t go, who will? Not to mention, all of my neighbors, relatives, and classmates know that I work at TEPCO. If I quit, maybe they will reproach me, asking “Why did you quit?”
It wasn’t just this young worker who thought that way. Many people kept their mouths shut, tortured with worry. Running away was scary; continuing to work was scary.
Every time he left for work, he felt like there was no place for him to run. Some people became depressed a few weeks after the disaster. At first, people were working thinking, “What can you do,” but now that it was fall, he felt like he was becoming depressed…
The young TEPCO worker wondered to himself, as one member of a worksite that tasked itself with providing “the safe energy of the future,” why had things turned out like this for him?
The company created something this dangerous in their pursuit of profit. They ignored the opinions of experts. Why didn’t they implement measures so that even if a tsunami came, they could continue to cool the reactors using the emergency power generators?
There had been times when the president of TEPCO and senior directors came to the site.
“Thank you.”—That’s what they would say. Even though he heard them, he could not feel that he was being thanked for his labor. They were not saying, “I’m sorry that we caused you this hardship,” or “Hang in there.” They said it as though it was entirely someone else’s affair, and he felt the insurmountable distance between conditions on the ground and company headquarters in Tokyo.
Residents of Fukushima often said, “Move your headquarters to Naraha town (where the nuclear power plant is), don’t leave it in the top-class district of Shimbashi [in Tokyo].” Even as a TEPCO local hire, he could understand their feelings.
He feels that people view the circumstances of those like him who are at Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant like, “This is where we are; what else is there to do?” But he wants others to know that it’s not that everyone is resting on their laurels. At the very least, he did all he could in the midst of that terror.
His dad said, “It’s the people on the ground that lose.” That’s exactly how it is.
The young TEPCO worker’s request to be transferred was granted after more than a year had passed. But, he was told it was for a “limited time,” and after a few years he was issued another appointment, and returned to Fukushima.
Pages 40-43:
The Reality That 26% of Men in Their 50s Are Without Work
People chose many paths in the life they lived with TEPCO. There were people who stayed at Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, and there were people who left, seeking a different path. But there are also people who can’t go forward, who can’t help being fixed to one spot. Men in their 50s, who have trouble finding new employment.
A man in in his 50s who had done electricity-related work at Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant was speaking at an evacuation center in Iwaki city, his face red: “I’m never going back to 1F (Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant).” There was an open one-cup sake can next to him. A man I spoke to in Saitama was also saying, “I didn’t know it was so dangerous.” He was also about 50 years old. But, if they left their jobs, there was no way they were going to find work.
Though not limited to TEPCO-related workers, Fukushima University conducted a survey of the residents of the municipalities of Futaba County, which surround the nuclear power plant, in February to March 2017. There were 10,081 respondents. 31%, the largest percentage, responded that they had “little hope” for their future work or lives. 19% responded that they had “absolutely no hope.” 26% of those in their 50s reported being without work.
Note: She says “TEPCO-related” because the nuclear industry is composed of multiple layers of subcontractors. Power companies contract work out to monolith “zenekon,” or general contractors, like Mitsubishi, Hitachi, Toshiba, and so on. These companies then parcel out jobs to a vast array of subcontractors, who then further distribute the work through their own networks. There have been reports of at most 7 or even 12 layers of subcontractors, though a local expert noted that it would probably be impossible for the lowest-level subcontracting company to break even if the reports of 7+ layers were true.
Many people who worked at the nuclear power plant lived in Naraha town, on the southern side of Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant.
A man who was 48 years old at the time of the disaster, who ran a subcontracting company in Naraha town and worked as a site foreman, went to work in Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant right after the accident in March 2011.
The site was wrecked. It completely overturned his sense that nuclear power plants are safe.
He was called to Fukushima Daiichi again in April of that year, but after that he thought, “I don’t want to see that wrecked nuclear power plant anymore,” and went to Saitama prefecture, where his wife and children had evacuated.
In September 2015, Naraha town’s evacuation orders were lifted. Shortly thereafter, he returned to his hometown. He renovated his house, and, wanting his family to return, he left a cumulative dosimeter in the house to measure its radiation levels. After one year, it read 0.1 mSv. He explained to his wife, “The radiation levels aren’t that high. I know because I’ve worked at the nuclear power plant.”
“I don’t want to be close to the nuclear power plant.”
That was his wife’s reply.
While displaced, the man developed diabetes, and in May 2016, he was diagnosed with depression. Since, he has been seeing a psychotherapist.
When I heard his story in April 2017, he was 54 years old. With white hair and a tired face, he looked far older than his fifty years.
His eldest son and eldest daughter are both in their 20s and working. His wife and children already bought a house in Saitama. Before, he would drive two hours and forty minutes one way to be with his family in Saitama. But before he realized it, his visits became rare, and he said he could not remember the last time he went.
Their life over there must be better now…
He wanted to be with his family. He is lonely and sad. He started to drink. Whenever he has time, he drinks. When he drinks, he feels a little better. When he gets sober, he starts to feel sad again. So he drinks again. If he drinks, he gets sleepy. It’s more of a “win” to fall asleep drinking.
But even so, he has fitful sleep, and at the very least he wakes up twice during the night. It’s a cruel cycle.
About 2 months after the national government lifted Naraha town’s evacuation orders, the returnee rate was at the 4% mark. Even later, it did not rise much, and the town stopped publishing statistics with the 11.1% it recorded in March 2017. Instead, it now publishes “town resident percentages,” which include new residents such as new nuclear power plant workers and recovery construction workers.
In the last available statistics on returnees, published in March 2017, 65% were in their 60s or older, and 5% were minors.
In the former site foreman’s neighborhood, only elderly people in their 60s to 80s have returned. He is the youngest in his block. He said to me, “I don’t know what is going to happen at the nuclear power plant so I think I’m going to quit. I want to work a normal job and die normally. It’s not like I can find new work now – what should I do? Right now, we get 160,000 yen per month as compensation, but TEPCO is saying it will stop paying. Are they telling us to die?”
His son was a nuclear worker, too. Their pride in their work, their life with their families, and their health was broken… They don’t have the energy to get back on their feet anymore.

November 25, 2018 Posted by | Fukushima 2018 | , , , | Leave a comment

Haematological analysis of Japanese macaques (Macaca fuscata) in the area affected by the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant accident




November 13, 2018

Several populations of wild Japanese macaques (Macaca fuscata) inhabit the area around Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant (FNPP). To measure and control the size of these populations, macaques are captured annually. Between May 2013 and December 2014, we performed a haematological analysis of Japanese macaques captured within a 40-km radius of FNPP, the location of a nuclear disaster two years post-accident. The dose-rate of radiocaesium was estimated using the ERICA Tool. The median internal dose-rate was 7.6 μGy/day (ranging from 1.8 to 219 μGy/day) and the external dose-rate was 13.9 μGy/day (ranging from 6.7 to 35.1 μGy/day). We performed multiple regression analyses to estimate the dose-rate effects on haematological values in peripheral blood and bone marrow. The white blood cell and platelet counts showed an inverse correlation with the internal dose-rate in mature macaques. Furthermore, the myeloid cell, megakaryocyte, and haematopoietic cell counts were inversely correlated and the occupancy of adipose tissue was positively correlated with internal dose-rate in femoral bone marrow of mature macaques. These relationships suggest that persistent whole body exposure to low-dose-rate radiation affects haematopoiesis in Japanese macaques.

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November 25, 2018 Posted by | Fukushima 2018 | , | Leave a comment

Nuclear Pollution in the East China Sea from the Fukushima Disaster


November 5, 2018
Nuclear pollution has become a new form and perhaps more harmful type of pollution that obsesses coastal regions; it has been of increasing concern after the disastrous Fukushima nuclear leak on March 11, 2011. In order to assess the impact of the Fukushima accident on the East China Sea (ECS), a highly resolved model is set up to simulate the evolution of the 137Cs concentration. Different from previous studies in this regard, here we take into account the radionuclides originally existing in the ocean. It is found that the radionuclides from the Fukushima leak do have reached ECS, though with a concentration far below the harmful level. The major waterways that inlet the radionuclides are Taiwan Strait and the waterway east of Taiwan. The radioactive material tends to accumulate in the ECS until reaching its peak in 2019; afterward, the outflux through Tokara Strait and Tsushima exceeds the influx through the two southern waterways, and the material resumes in 2021 to its original state. The concentration is neither homogeneously nor stationarily distributed; for example, usually in summer, there is a high center over the Subei Bank in the Yellow Sea. This study is expected, should a similar accident happen again, to help decide where to monitor the ocean, and, hopefully, how to get the pollution under control.
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November 25, 2018 Posted by | Fukushima 2018 | , , , | Leave a comment