The News That Matters about the Nuclear Industry Fukushima Chernobyl Mayak Three Mile Island Atomic Testing Radiation Isotope

Week to 31 July in nuclear news

Oh it’s climate again! How can we ignore it?  This time, it’s not just the heat-waves across the Norther hemisphere, but the effects of that hot air moving to the Arctic. Greenland and the Arctic in general, are headed for a record sea ice melt.  It will be an unprecedented ice loss – ultimately rapid loss will lead to rising sea levels.

Nuclear news?   There doesn’t seem to be much. Is that because the important stuff is kept secret, or at best, pretty quiet?   Russia is the best at this.  Now it is revealed, by an international team of scientists, that in September 2017 there must have been a nuclear accident at the Mayak nuclear reprocessing facility in Southern Russia. It’s the only feasible explanation for the cloud of Ruthenium-106 across Europe in late September.

New economic research discusses nuclear power’s real costs – ‘seven decades of economic ruin’. (a brief report on this is here)

Bits of good newsInternational kindness to Chernobyl children from radiation-contaminated areas – but more help is needed.  For First Time Ever, Scientists Identify How Many Trees to Plant and Where to Plant Them to Stop Climate Crisis

‘Thermal limits’ – extreme heat effects on the body

The horrors of nuclear weapons testing – 460,000 premature deaths.

New report: nuclear energy cannot be classified as “clean”, nor as economic.

ARCTIC.  Unprecedented wildfires in the Arctic release huge CO2 to the atmosphere.

PACIFIC ISLANDS. Bikini Atoll, site of nuclear bomb testing, still 10 times more radioactive than Chernobyl.


Toxic water level at Fukushima plant still not under control. 17 years needed to send treated Fukushima water into sea: expert. Robots the only hope for highly radioactive areas in wrecked Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant. The ghost towns in Fukushima Prefecture.   Is Fukushima Safe for the OlympicsOlympic Games as PR to change the image of Fukushima and its radiation problems. Anti-Olympics groups want more attention put on event’s downfalls.   Opponents want Olympic money used to rebuild Fukushima. The 2020 Olympics may become a disaster. Tokyo’s 2020 Olympics are showing the nightmare waiting for L.A. in 2028.    Asahi’s ‘Fukushima beer’ launch invites South Korea scorn.

Mothers’ group in Kyoto hosts Fukushima preschoolers, parents for retreat.  Beach in Fukushima Prefecture reopens for first time since 2011 disasters. Temporal variation of radionuclides contamination of marine plants on the Fukushima coast after the East Japan nuclear disaster. TEPCO to decommission all four reactors at Fukushima Daini.

International Symposium for Peace: The Road to Nuclear Weapons Abolition.  Nuclear-Free Forum in Japan calls for worldwide end to nuclear power. Churches aim for joint church action to end nuclear energy.

IRAN. Constructive talks between Iran and Europe, but no definite result. Iran links tanker row to nuclear deal.  Iran intends to restart activities at Arak heavy water nuclear reactor.

MIDDLE EAST. Heading for a Nuclear and Ballistic Missile Arms Race in the Middle East.

USA. Investigative journalism –  How did Ohio’s nuclear industry get a $1.1billion bailout?dark money did the job! Ohio takes a backward leap, as Ohio Governor Signs Coal and Nuclear Bailout at Expense of Renewable Energy,

UK. Surprise surprise! UK’s New Prime Minister Boris Johnson is a big fan of the nuclear industry.

UK Nuclear Finance: From No Subsidies to Nuclear Tax. A layman’s guide to the ‘Regulated Asset Base’ that will fund Sizewell C nuclear power plant. Tax-payers still on the hook for UK’s planned ‘nuclear renaissance’. UK’s love-in with “an innovative funding model” does not hide the hideous expense of nuclear power.

Yet more delay at Flamanville nuclear debacle – doesn’t bode well for UK’s Hinkley Point C project.  UK government commits to ordering mini nuclear reactors from Rolls Royce.

Boris Johnson’s secret instructions on nuclear action.

UKRAINE.  The dreadful truth of Chernobyl radiation’s health and death toll is now coming out.

RUSSIA. The often forgotten nuclear disaster in Russia’s Ural Mountains. Fears about a Soviet-era nuclear waste site, on the planned route for a Moscow expressway.

CHINA.China absolutely clear on its policy of No First Use of Nuclear Weapons.

EUROPE.  Nuclear power losing its appeal in Eastern Europe. Soaring temperatures in Europe – risk of record ice melt in Greenland.

INDIA. India’s Govt prohibits mining of thorium and other atomic minerals by private entities  .

GERMANY  Germany’s Grohnde nuclear plant headed for shutdown, due to high temperatures. Renewable energy providing more electricity than coal and nuclear power combined in Germany.

NORTH KOREA. North Korea’s new submarine.

AUSTRALIA.   Australian Senate passes motion to retain Australia’s ban on nuclear power. Australia’s legal ban on nuclear power will remain, says Environment Minister Sussan Ley.


July 31, 2019 Posted by | Christina's notes | Leave a comment

Symbol of failure in dealing with Fukushima crisis to be demolished

This second floor room at the off-site center was used for meetings among the various officials based there to deal with the 2011 Fukushima nuclear disaster.
July 30, 2019
An abandoned two-story building in Okuma, Fukushima Prefecture, with overgrown weeds symbolizes the government’s overconfidence and failure in dealing with a nuclear power plant emergency.
This off-site emergency center for the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant, located about 5 kilometers southwest of the crippled facility, appears headed for demolition by April 2020.
The government seemingly would like to erase this embarrassing reminder of its ineptitude in handling the 2011 nuclear disaster.
The crisis center was to serve as a base of operations for central and local government officials, as well as those at Tokyo Electric Power Co. in charge of the nuclear plant, in the event of a major accident striking the plant.
However, the lack of adequate measures to ensure airtightness in the facility led to its abandonment four days after the Great East Japan Earthquake and tsunami inundated the Fukushima No. 1 plant and crippled its cooling systems.
And while the 150 or so individuals who had gathered at the off-site center were swiftly evacuated to a safer location, the same did not occur for the 90 or so patients at Futaba Hospital, located about 1 kilometer away.
Officials in charge of dealing with the nuclear disaster left the evacuation of patients up to the Self-Defense Forces, but delays and other factors led to the eventual deaths of about 50 of those patients, either while still at the hospital, en route to an evacuation site or later at the gymnasium where the patients were evacuated to.
Most of Okuma was initially classified by the central government as a “difficult-to-return” zone because of high radiation levels. But decontamination efforts were implemented in the central part of the town to turn it into a base for rebuilding and resuscitation of the community. The plan is to lift the evacuation order for that base in the spring of 2022.
The off-site center is situated within that base area and Okuma town officials had asked the central government, which owns the building housing the off-site center, and the Fukushima prefectural government, which manages the building, to demolish it to allow for construction of a residential district in the area.
The local office of the Environment Ministry plans to complete demolition of the building by the end of the current fiscal year. Some items from the building that are considered worthy of preservation will be removed to another exhibition facility now under construction.
However, one expert criticized the move to simply erase what could be considered a blot on the government’s handling of the nuclear disaster.
Naoya Sekiya, an associate professor at the Center for Integrated Disaster Information Research at the University of Tokyo, touched upon the fact that off-site centers around Japan were constructed after the 1999 nuclear criticality accident at the JCO Co.’s uranium-processing plant in Tokai, Ibaraki Prefecture, which killed two workers and exposed hundreds of residents to high levels of radiation.
“While I can understand the need for the town to rebuild, the off-site center serves as a symbol that conveys how optimistic were the expectations about nuclear disasters even in the wake of the JCO accident,” Sekiya said. “Demolishing the building appears to be an attempt to erase that lesson and is not helpful in terms of thinking about preventing future accidents at nuclear plants.”
The off-site center was visited on June 25 to observe the interior as well as such facilities as the shower room that employees exposed to radiation used before re-entering the building.
The doors on the building were similar to those found at most commercial buildings. The center served as a base of operations for 150 officials from the economy and science ministries, the SDF, the Fukushima prefectural government and TEPCO soon after the March 11, 2011, nuclear disaster.
But blackouts and disconnecting of communications channels meant officials at the off-site center could neither collect or transmit information about the fast-developing nuclear disaster.
Moreover, radiation levels within the building reached 200 microsieverts per hour, more than 50 times the level at which evacuation orders are issued. On March 15, 2011, all officials at the off-site center were evacuated.
The last time the off-site center was open to the media was in March 2012.
On June 25, the radiation level at the entrance to the building was 2 microsieverts per hour. That meant special protective gear was not needed to look around the building.
Seven years ago, one item that caught the eye of reporters was a whiteboard that contained jottings about the developing nuclear disaster.
One note said that the No. 3 reactor at the Fukushima No. 1 plant had exploded. Another said that 48 patients remained at Futaba Hospital as of 10:50 a.m. on March 13, 2011. But that last note showed just how incomplete the data gathering was because at that time there were still about 90 patients at the hospital.
While a Fukushima prefectural government official said that items deemed worthy of preservation had already been moved to another location, there were still dozens of computers and copiers left behind in the office.
Although efforts were made to seal the windows and doors of the building after the nuclear disaster, the rapid rate at which radiation levels increased showed how futile such measures were.
Yotaro Hatamura served as chairman of the government’s Investigation Committee on the Accident at the Fukushima Nuclear Power Stations of Tokyo Electric Power Co. He was a professor emeritus at the University of Tokyo and was known for his work on the “science of failure.”
He said recently that the government had set aside money in its budget to deal with radiation exposure, but that the former Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency (NISA) “just ignored those funds because it was convinced by the thinking that a nuclear accident would never occur.”
Hatamura added, however, that just preserving various items and displaying them after cleaning them would not have any real meaning in terms of learning lessons from the accident.
Debate has occurred in a number of communities over preserving relics from the 2011 nuclear and natural disasters to serve as monuments about what should not be forgotten.
In some communities, extended discussions have been held between residents about whether to preserve local government buildings heavily damaged by the tsunami.
However, Okuma town officials admitted that no such forum for debate had been provided local residents regarding the off-site center.
One official of the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry who once worked at NISA said, “Since NISA no longer exists, there are few bureaucrats within the ministry who want to pass on the failures involved in dealing with the nuclear disaster.”

July 31, 2019 Posted by | fukushima 2019 | | Leave a comment

Fukushima residents look for Olympic PR boost

July 29, 2019
Sukagawa, Japan – Two softball games and one baseball game in Fukushima next summer may be little more than an 2020 Olympic cameo, but local fans are thrilled to have them, largely in the hopes they will give their prefecture a badly needed public relations boost.
Fukushima was one of the three northeastern Japan prefectures that bore the brunt of the March 11, 2011 earthquake and tsunami along with Miyagi and Iwate prefectures and will be part of the focus next year now that Tokyo Olympic organizers have dubbed the games “the Reconstruction Olympics.”
(Baseball fans stand outside Botandai Stadium in Sukagawa, Fukushima Prefecture after a July 17 game between the Fukushima Red Hopes and the Tochigi Golden Braves. From left to right, Koki Unuma, Kaori Unuma and Yukari Koyama.) 
In addition to the games in Fukushima, Miyagi Stadium will be one of the Olympic soccer venues, while all three prefectures will be focal points of the Olympic torch relay — which officially starts in Fukushima.
The 2011 disaster killed over 15,800 people and forced the evacuation of up to 470,000, while triggering a triple meltdown at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant. Even eight years later, Fukushima suffers from the suspicion that food from the prefecture might be contaminated. And locals see the Olympics as an opportunity to show off their region the way they see it.
Koki Unuma, a resident of Koriyama and a baseball fan who follows the local independent minor league club, expressed hope that the Olympics will put Fukushima Prefecture in a good light.
“It’s a chance to show that Fukushima has become vibrant again,” he said at a game in Sukagawa between the Fukushima Red Hopes and the Tochigi Golden Braves. “I wonder how foreign people will view us. I want the place to be packed with foreign visitors, so that people will see we are doing well, and that they tell others. I’m excited to have the games here.”
One man, who declined to give his name but said he had worked until recently not far from the stricken nuclear plant, said Fukushima had largely recovered but felt the symbolism of being included in the Olympics had value.
“There is basically one area that is not back (around the damaged plant), but by and large Fukushima has recovered,” he said. “I think as a symbol the Olympics are a good idea. What they mean by ‘the Reconstruction Olympics’ is a little vague to me. That area around Soma is hard hit, but as a whole Fukushima Prefecture is doing very well.”
(Former major leaguer Akinori Iwamura, manager of the Fukushima Red Hopes, believes hosting great games at next year’s Olympics can make a difference in a prefecture that is still recovering from the 2011 earthquake and tsunami. Photo at Botandai Stadium in Sukagawa, Fukushima Prefecture, July 17, 2019.)
The plight of the prefecture encouraged former major leaguer Akinori Iwamura to help start up the Red Hopes, where he serves in a dual role as manager and team president.
“People living in Fukushima have suffered the most. It’s almost as if they are being treated as wrong doers. The rumors are terrible,” he said in a recent interview with Kyodo News. “Some evacuee children have been bullied in the towns they’ve been relocated to. That is the most intolerable.”
“The (evacuee) kids going back to visit Fukushima might receive some kinds of gifts to take back with them, but some must feel those things, candy and the like, are troublesome, because at rest areas along the expressway people find uneaten candy from Fukushima thrown into the garbage bins.”
“It makes you realize people don’t know how many of the things they hear they can actually believe.”
Iwamura said that consumers outside Fukushima have second thoughts about the safety of the food raised there and local farmers cannot get fair value for their products. But he said the Olympics are a golden opportunity to change peoples’ perceptions of Fukushima.
“For us baseball people here, we want to make the baseball and softball games held here a success,” Iwamura said. “If we can be wildly enthusiastic about them and show that to the people coming from abroad, then they will tell others that Fukushima is safe, that the people here are living good lives.”
Naomi Nukazawa and her daughter Aya are fans of the Red Hopes and are keen to see the local Olympic competition, but so far have been unable to secure tickets.
“We’ll apply again, but right now it is like the people here are getting left out,” Naomi said.
“I work at a hotel. This is a chance to get different kinds of guests, I’m really excited about that. People will visit Fukushima (for the Olympics), but once it’s over that will likely be the end of it. Perhaps some people will be moved by their time here and that will have a lasting impact in some ways.”
“Maybe other Japanese will be influenced by foreigners’ positive responses to us, and will remember us, remember Iwate, remember Miyagi, remember our local specialties, because it seems we’re forgotten now.”
Another Koriyama resident, Yuji Amaha, echoed other locals’ complaints that people outside Fukushima don’t realize that except for a small area around the stricken plant the region is safe from radioactivity.
“Having a big international tournament here in Fukushima Prefecture is getting people excited,” he said. “Iwate Prefecture will take part in the Rugby World Cup, Miyagi Prefecture will have Olympic soccer. In a sense, these things are connected to our recovery and are therefore meaningful.”
“The people who live in Fukushima think it’s safe. I want those people who…question how safe it is to come. I want people who study the data to say it’s safe. Those who doubt the safety should come and see for themselves.”
Iwamura expressed optimism for next year and for the future.
“Most prefectures will have no Olympic sports,” he said. “That Fukushima is going to have baseball and softball is a thrill, something to be really happy about. Twenty or 30 years down the road, nobody will remember what it is like now.”

July 31, 2019 Posted by | fukushima 2019 | , , | Leave a comment

TEPCO bears responsibility for decommissioning over generations

Tokyo Electric Power Co.’s Fukushima No. 2 nuclear power plant
July 29, 2019
Tokyo Electric Power Co. has announced that it will decommission all four reactors at its Fukushima No. 2 nuclear power plant.
The decision indicates the landscape of nuclear energy in Japan is entering an age of mass decommissioning.
TEPCO plans to work concurrently to scrap a total of 10 nuclear reactors, including all six at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant, the site of the 2011 disaster. The task will be almost unparalleled and unprecedented in the world in terms of its scale.
TEPCO should fulfill its momentous duties in undertaking the task to help rebuild disaster-stricken communities of Fukushima Prefecture.
It took TEPCO an entire year to make the latest decision after the utility said last year it would consider the decommissioning option. That is enough evidence there are high barriers to be surmounted.
One difficulty consists in ensuring the availability of workers.
A staff of 3,600 is currently working to scrap the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant, where four reactors went crippled. Work to grasp the full picture of the reactor interiors, where nuclear fuel melted down, remains in a trial-and-error stage and is facing extremely rough going.
The latest decision means the Fukushima No. 2 plant, a logistic support base for those efforts, will itself be an additional site of decommissioning work.
TEPCO officials said they have largely figured out how the work will be done. We are left to wonder, however, how they plan to get all the necessary, highly skilled workers.
The task should be undertaken cautiously and steadily so there will be no accidents.
While it is believed it takes about 30 years to decommission a typical nuclear reactor, TEPCO officials said it will likely take more than 40 years to scrap all the reactors at the Fukushima No. 2 plant because the work cannot be done on all four reactors there in one continuous period.
That is about the same span of time that someone spends working for a company from entrance as a new hire through retirement age. The efforts will straddle generations.
TEPCO will be required to keep its staff highly motivated and to overcome any difficulties responsibly during all that time.
While the scrapping work will only start after specific plans for it have been approved by the government’s Nuclear Regulation Authority, solutions have yet to be decided for many anticipated problems.
The four reactors of the Fukushima No. 2 plant contain about 10,000 spent nuclear fuel assemblies. TEPCO plans to have them stored temporarily on the grounds of the nuclear plant before having them taken out of Fukushima Prefecture.
But where exactly they will be taken “will be studied in the years to come,” said Tomoaki Kobayakawa, president of TEPCO Holdings Inc.
Some rules remain to be determined for the disposal of radioactive waste, of which more than 50,000 tons are expected to be produced.
Decommissioning of nuclear reactors is a challenge that faces all major electric utilities.
Decisions have been made to scrap 21 nuclear reactors in the wake of the Fukushima disaster, and more are expected over time.
The question of what to do with spent fuel and radioactive waste should not be put on the back burner. The government should work to solve it.
Rising costs due to tightened safety measures have given a push to utilities’ decisions to scrap their reactors. Only nine reactors have so far been brought back online following the Fukushima disaster.
Plans to build new nuclear plants and reactors are making little progress. As a matter of reality, nuclear energy is losing the status of a mainstay power source.
That notwithstanding, utilities still stick to their old stance of continued reliance on nuclear power, saying they want to utilize what they have.
TEPCO is no exception. The owner of seven reactors at the Kashiwazaki-Kariwa nuclear plant in Niigata Prefecture is hoping to reactivate the No. 6 and No. 7 reactors there for starters.
Major utilities, especially TEPCO, are required to face up to the tough reality and look at what lies beyond the age of mass decommissioning. They bear the social responsibility to assign ample human and financial resources for renewable energy sources, which will be a major pillar of power supply for the next generation, among other areas.

July 31, 2019 Posted by | fukushima 2019 | , , , , | Leave a comment

Fukushima 2020 Olympics Nightmare: Is PM Abe Criminally Insane?


Jul 28th, 2019
This documentary investigates and exposes the plans of Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe to bring the Olympics baseball games to contaminated Fukushima. Although there is over a million tons of tritium radioactive water in tanks surrounding the plan, thousands of contamined bags of waste and melted nuclear rods still in the broken plants Abe has claimed to the Olympic Committee and world that Fukushima has been decontaminated.
This 2019 documentary looks at the plans of Japan Prime Minister Shinzo Abe to bring the Olympic baseball games to Fukushima during the 2020 Japan Olympic games. It interviews experts, community activists and trade unionists about the reality of Fukushima and the massive propaganda campaign to cover-up the continuing dangers and crisis.
PM Abe told the International Olympics Committee that Fukushima had been decontaminated but there is over 1 million tons of tritium radiocative water in tanks surrounding the broken nuclear reactors, the melted nuclear rods still remain and there are tens of thousands of bags of contaminated radioactive material spread throughout the prefecture.
This documentary hears from people in Japan about the reality of having the 2020 Olympics in Japan and Fukushima.
Additional media:
Toxic water level at Fukushima plant still not under control As Abe Pushes Olympics In Fukushima
In reality, however, the situation is not under control even now.
The Olympics, Fukushima, Capitalism & Creative Destruction
Olympics For Whom? Global Depression, the New Cold War, ​and the Rio de Janeiro Olympic Games
The Super Bowl, NFL, Capitalism and Sports: The Cost, The Politics, Privatization & The Game
JPN Abe Gov Pushes 2020 Olympics To Contaminated Fukushima To Continue Cover-up
Fukushima Never Again
For additional information:
No Nukes Action
Appeal To Stop Olympics in Japan
Nuclear Olympics
workweek [at]
Production of
Labor Video Project
Fukushima Radioactive Dump Site
While PM Abe says that Fukushima has been “decontaminated” there are thousands of bags of contaminated radioactive was in the prefecture of Fukushima.
Over 1 Million Tons Of Radioactive Water Surround Fukushima
The Abe government is trying to release 1 million tons of radioactive water with tritium into the Pacific ocean despite opposition of the fisherman and communities.
Fukushima Kids In

July 31, 2019 Posted by | fukushima 2019 | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Toxic water level at Fukushima plant still not under control

Highly contaminated water has accumulated in the No. 1 to No. 4 reactor buildings and turbine buildings of the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant.
July 28, 2019
Almost six years after Prime Minister Shinzo Abe famously declared the contaminated water problem at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant “under control,” today it remains anything but.
Tokyo Electric Power Co. (TEPCO) continues to face difficulties in dealing with water contaminated with radioactive substances at its crippled plant.
About 18,000 tons of highly contaminated water remain accumulated in reactor buildings and other places.
Abe made the declaration in September 2013 while Tokyo was bidding to win the 2020 Summer Games.
In reality, however, the situation is not under control even now.
In a meeting of the Nuclear Regulation Authority (NRA) in June, one of its members, Nobuhiko Ban, told TEPCO officials, “I want you to show whether you have a prospect (for the reduction of contaminated water) or you have given up.”
The water level did not fall as planned in an area of a basement floor at the No. 3 reactor building for two months. Asked why the level did not drop, TEPCO officials offered only vague explanations in the meeting. Ban made the remark out of irritation.
Highly contaminated water that has accumulated in reactor buildings and turbine buildings is a major concern at the Fukushima plant. In addition to water that was used to cool melted nuclear fuel at the No. 1, No. 2 and No. 3 reactors, groundwater also has flowed into those buildings through cracks.
The concentration of radioactive substances in the highly contaminated water is about 100 million times that of the contaminated water that has been processed and stored in tanks.
Immediately after the nuclear accident at the Fukushima plant in March 2011, highly contaminated water leaked into the sea through underground tunnels. As a result, radioactive substances whose concentrations were higher than allowable standards were detected in fish and other seafood.
After the nuclear accident, about 100,000 tons of water initially accumulated in the basement portions of buildings that housed the No. 1, No. 2, No. 3 and No. 4 reactors and buildings that accommodated turbines.
TEPCO has removed groundwater through wells. It also created “frozen walls” in the ground by freezing soil around the buildings. Using those methods, the company has decreased the flow of groundwater into the buildings and, as a result, the level of highly contaminated water has dropped there.
Eight years since the nuclear accident occurred, the volume of highly contaminated water in the buildings has fallen to 18,000 tons. TEPCO aims to reduce the volume further to 6,000 tons by the end of fiscal 2020.
However, work to decrease the water has not progressed as expected.
As for the area in the basement of the No. 3 reactor building, it is known that water used to cool melted nuclear fuel is flowing into the area. But why the water level does not drop only in that area is not known.
If the water level in the building remains high, highly contaminated water there could leak into the ground through cracks when the groundwater level outside the building drops. If the leaks occur, the entire effort to decrease the amount of highly contaminated water will be stalled.
The NRA is also requiring TEPCO to take anti-tsunami measures because if a huge tsunami engulfs the buildings again, it could send highly contaminated water pouring into the sea
However, anti-tsunami measures are also delayed.
The work to close openings that could become locations for leakage of highly contaminated water during a tsunami is expected to continue until the end of fiscal 2021. Such openings exist at 50 locations at present.
Additional construction of sea walls as a safeguard against another huge tsunami like the one triggered by the Great East Japan Earthquake will take time until the first half of fiscal 2020.

July 31, 2019 Posted by | fukushima 2019 | , , | Leave a comment

Queensland’s Smile With Kids helping Fukushima children to rebuild their lives

Fourteen-year-old Karin Hirakuri relished her time at the beach in far north Queensland.
July 28, 2019
Fourteen-year-old Karin Hirakuri hasn’t been allowed to play outside since she was six years old and every time she goes to the supermarket, she worries her food could be unsafe to eat.
Key points
High school students from Fukushima exercise, play and spend most of their time indoors
Refresh programs in Australia give children the chance to connect with families and experience the outdoors
Some children are finding career inspiration through refresh programs
Growing up in Fukushima, Japan, after the catastrophic tsunami and the meltdown of four nuclear reactors in 2011, Karin’s childhood has been spent mostly indoors to limit her exposure to radiation.
She is one of eight high school students in far north Queensland this week with Smile With Kids, a not-for-profit organisation that pairs children from Fukushima with Australian host families.
The program began in 2014, inspired by other “refresh camps” that aim to give Fukushima children a week of outdoor activities.
“They can just come and enjoy nature without worry,” Smile With Kids founder Maki McCarthy said.
A highlight for Karin was sinking her feet in the sand and feeling the spray of seawater on her face at Palm Cove beach, north of Cairns, on Thursday.
“I wasn’t able to go swimming at the beach for five years,” she said.
“We cannot play outside in Fukushima.
“We have to play in the gym or in the house.”
Ongoing concern for young people
Health risks associated with radiation exposure are low in Japan and extremely low in other neighbouring countries, according to the World Health Organisation.
But illness is still a big concern for some young people.
Karin said the fear of developing cancer was always in the back of her mind.
“We think about it a lot,” she said.
The Fukushima Health Management Survey found rates of psychological distress was far greater in Fukushima compared with other areas affected by the earthquake and tsunami that caused the Daiichi power plant meltdown.
It also found an increased prevalence of lifestyle-related diseases like obesity and hypertension after the disaster.
“It’s had a big impact on people,” Ms McCarthy said.
Hirotaka Kuchiki has developed a passion for food and organic farming after the Fukushima disaster.
Looking to the future
Despite the ongoing problems some students in Fukushima face, their experience of the disaster has also been a source of motivation.
Sixteen-year-old Hirotaka Kuchiki said he wanted to become an organic farmer after learning about sustainable agriculture on another refresh camp in Japan.
“After the earthquake everything around me changed,” Hirotaka said.
“I couldn’t eat the food around the area, even the fish I couldn’t eat.
“Later I met an organic farmer in the south of Japan and the organic farmer’s life inspired me, and I want to be like the farmer.”
Families connect
Smile With Kids host Catherine Gunn has been accommodating Fukushima students for the past three years and said the experience had been eye-opening.
“It opens my world up,” Ms Gunn said.
“Also the reflection on how lucky we are in Australia.
“We’ve never experience anything like [the nuclear disaster] in Australia, we have a very free life.”
Ms Gunn said she learnt a lot from the students, including some great card-playing skills.
“Because the students can’t go out and play outside, they play a lot of Uno,” she said.
“When one of the students was here we became really keen on playing Uno and every time she beat me.
“Now I am a champion, but we had so much fun.”
Ms McCarthy said the Smile With Kids program had doubled the number of students it was accepting each year, as more host families came on board.
Maki MaCarthy started Smile With Kids in 2014, three years after the Fukushima disaster and nuclear meltdown.

July 31, 2019 Posted by | fukushima 2019 | , , | Leave a comment

Nuclear-Free Forum in Japan calls for worldwide end to nuclear power

Voices of Fukushima power plant explosion victims strengthen call to ban nuclear energy
By Rachel Farmer, Anglican Communion News
July 28, 2019
Japanese parish priests shared stories of suffering from victims of the Fukushima nuclear disaster at a May 2019 International Forum for a Nuclear-Free World held in Sendai, Japan. A joint statement from the forum, issued in July 2019, strengthens the call for a worldwide ban on nuclear energy and encourage churches to join in the campaign.
The statement – Affirming the Preciousness of Life, in Order that Life may be Lived – For a World Free of Nuclear Power – noted that “We believe that it is highly important that this issue of nuclear power generation be considered from the perspective of the dignity of life.” The statement went on to point out the dangers of continued radioactive waste production and the connection between nuclear power and nuclear weapons — “two sides of a single coin.” It recommended that “No longer should we continue as a society with the economic priority of reliance upon nuclear power generation.”
The forum, organised by the Nippon Sei Ko Kai (NSKK) – the Anglican Communion in Japan – follows the NSKKs General Synod resolution in 2012 calling for an end to nuclear power plants and activities to help the world go nuclear free.
The disaster in 2011 followed a massive earthquake and tsunami which caused a number of explosions in the town’s coastal nuclear power station and led to widespread radioactive contamination and serious health and environmental effects. The Chair of the forum’s organising committee, Kiyosumi Hasegawa, said: “We have yet to see an end to the damage done to the people and natural environment by the meltdown of TEPCO’s Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant. I do think this man-made disaster will haunt countless people for years to come. We still see numerous people who wish to go back to their hometowns but are unable to. We also have people who have given up on ever going home.”
One pastor, Dr Naoya Kawakami, whose church was affected by the tsunami and is the General Secretary of the Sendai Christian Alliance Disaster Relief Network, Touhoku HELP, explained how he had supported sufferers in the aftermath and heard from priests supporting the survivors. He said: “I have been more than 700 times to meet with more than 180 mothers and about 20 fathers, all of whom have seen abnormalities in their children since 2011. . . Thyroid cancer has been found in more than 273 children and many mothers are in deep anxiety.
“The more the situation worsens, the more pastors become aware of their important role. The role is to witness . . . pastors who have stayed in Fukushima with the ‘voiceless survivors’ are showing us the church as the body of Jesus’s resurrection, with wounds and weakness . . . sufferers are usually in voiceless agony and most people never hear them.”
The forum was attended by bishops, clergy and lay representatives from each diocese, together with representatives from the US-based Episcopal Church, USPG, the Episcopal Church of the Philippines, the Diocese of Taiwan, the Anglican Church of Korea, and also ecumenical guests. International experts took part, along with local clergy who shared individual stories from those directly affected by the disaster.
Keynote lecturer Prof Dr Miranda Schreurs, from the Technische Universität München in Germany, launched the forum at Tohoku Diocese’s Cathedral, Sendai Christ Church. The professor currently serves as a member of the Ethic Commission for Safe Energy Supply and significantly influenced Germany’s nuclear free energy policy. Other speakers included the Bishop of Taiwan, David Jun Hsin Lai, and Amos Kim Kisuk from the Anglican Church of Korea.
During the week delegates from outside Japan visited sites and towns near the nuclear power plant. They also visited St John’s Church Isoyama and “Inori no Ie” (House of Prayer) in Shinchi, Fukushima, to offer prayers for all the victims of the disaster.
The NSKK Partners-in-Mission Secretary, Paul Tolhurst, said the visit to Fukushima had brought home the reality of the situation for local people. “Driving past the power station and seeing the ghost town around us as the Geiger counter reading kept going up is something I won’t forget”, he said. “It was like the town time forgot – they still seem to be living the incident, while the rest of Japan has moved on.”
Arguing for an end to nuclear power, NSKK priest John Makito Aizawa said: “Both religiously and ethically, we cannot allow nuclear power plants to continue running. They produce deadly waste, which we have no way of processing into something safe.
“More than 100,000 years are necessary for the radiation of such deadly waste to diminish to the level that it was in the original uranium. This alone is a strong enough reason to prohibit nuclear power plants. Insistence on restarting nuclear power plants seems to come from the insistence on getting more and more money and profit.”
He added: “I am no scientist or engineer of nuclear power generation. I am no expert. Still, as Christians, and to live as humans, I am certain this is an issue we cannot afford to ignore.”

July 31, 2019 Posted by | Japan | | Leave a comment