nuclear-news

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

Weekly nuclear and climate news

COP25, the annual United Nations international conference on dealing with climate change is now beginning, in Madrid.  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dJzt05K0r1U   Global climate tipping point is getting near – researchers say.

For December, my websites are focusing on that unfashionable subject – ETHICS.  Some aspects of “nuclear ethics” are climate change, health and environment, sustainability, developing countries, economic feasibility,  – conclusion – nuclear power is not an ethical choice.

A bit of good news – Humpback Whale Population Bounces Back From Near-Extinction—From Just 450, to Over 25,000

 

Barnaby Joyce auctions lump of coal – in a glass jar – at Nationals dinner.

Public opinion: for the first time, Environment is Australians’ top concern. The Murray Darling water crisis and what governments must do to fix this.

RENEWABLE ENERGY.  Heating & cooling to go renewable and provide demand response.  Australian solar PV integrated window technology gains US approval.  Renewable South Australia posts lowest wholesale prices for second month in row.  The day rooftop solar met two thirds of South Australia’s total demand.  Power bills to fall by $40 as New South Wales Central West becomes wind and solar power hub.   Why is pumped hydro in Australia not used very much?

INTERNATIONAL

The negotiations in Madrid for COP 25 Climate Change Conference.   Tipping points leading to ‘Hothouse Earth’ already “active”, scientists warn.

Catholic doctrine; the use and even the possession of nuclear weapons is immoral.    Plans for nuclear waste disposal, but there’s no long term solution.

Despite Halting Progress, UN Continues its Push for a Nuclear-Weapons-Free Zone in the Middle East.

USA. 

MIDDLE EAST. Big risk factors for Middle East countries in adopting nuclear power.

UK. UK’s Labour and Greens parties have highly prioritised climate change action.   Cyber attack targets UK’s nuclear industry. Suffolk Coastal Labour opposes the development of new nuclear capacity at Sizewell.  UK Environment Agency Aims to Increase Tritium Limit in Irish Seaside Landfill .

JAPAN.  Pope Francis, in Japan, Warns of ‘Selfish Decisions’ on Nuclear Energy.  Thorny topic of Fukushima food at the 2020 Olympics. Onagawa nuclear plant to get approval for restart.

FRANCE. France wants to label nuclear as “green“. Germany will have none of it.

GERMANY. Germany must now face up to its nuclear waste problem.

HUNGARY. Hungary wants EU to weaken nuclear licensing rules, as it wants to expand Rosatom nuclear project.

IRAN. Iran warns EU that it may step back from UN nuclear watchdog.

RUSSIA. Russia’s nuclear company Rosatom in financial trouble trying to fund nuclear project in Turkey.  Rosatom planning to market Small Modular Nuclear Reactors to Europe.  Nuclear-capable air-launched ballistic missile tested over the Barents Sea.

CANADA. Premiers of Ontario, Saskatchewan, New Brunswick to plan development of Small Modular Nuclear Reactors.

SOUTH AFRICA. South Africa to create extra space for nuclear waste.

AUSTRALIA.  Catastrophic weather conditions, but Australian govt has no climate adaptation plan.Sir David Attenborough hits out at the federal government over climate position.

December 2, 2019 Posted by | Christina's notes | 1 Comment

Fukushima’s contaminated water is an issue affecting all of humanity

An ocean dump could lead to a global ecological disaster

601575177786An image of the Fukushima nuclear power plant, including storage tanks for contaminated water, taken by Greenpeace campaigner and Swedish photographer Christian Aslund on Oct. 16, 2018.

December 1, 2019

As the possibility of Japan dumping contaminated water from the Fukushima Nuclear Power Plant into the ocean has been raised, concerns are being voiced on the Korean Peninsula and through various international organizations. Obviously, it is South Korea that is leading the efforts at international coordination in organizations like the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), International Maritime Organization (IMO), and World Health Organization (WHO).

The biggest issue that stands to arise if the contaminated water is dumped into the ocean is the major impact on the marine environment in the Western Pacific and the health of residents in the region, and South Korea is the closest neighbor to Japan.

In a recent piece published in the UK’s The Economist, Shaun Burnie of Greenpeace Germany warned that if Japan dumped the water into the pacific, radioactive material will begin flowing into the East Sea within a year. As Japan’s closest neighbor, South Korea has maintained that it has a right to sufficiently discuss the potential environmental threat and demand related information. During a South Korean parliamentary audit, expressions of concern about the Fukushima water release were coupled with demands for response measures to be put in place.

Unfortunately, these messages and warnings are not being expressed as part of a system of guidance and cooperation to permit a fundamental resolution. Rather, they amount more to a form of pressure within international discourse, which runs the risk of being shrugged off with pro forma logic. The predictions that radioactive material will begin washing into the East Sea within a year could change with the actual amounts and concentrations of water dumped; in the absence of real announced concentrations of inflowing contaminants, it does nothing more than to raise a threat.

More than the fact of the inflows over the year after release, we need to be aware that there are migrating species that could enter the waters near South Korea at any time. Also, what is to be done about the destruction to the marine ecosystem or the marine life that is being fished in the Pacific by the different countries? The result would be a disaster for humankind. We need a more in-depth and scientific examination to identify a disposal plan that allays the concerns of Japan’s neighbors as well as those of Japanese civil society and fishers, who are the ones suffering the ill effects first hand.

Plans for handling marine contaminants fall into five main categories. The first involves controlling the source. The most basic means of resolution is to replace materials and production processes and ban production and consumption to ensure that contaminants are not released in the first place. The second involves recirculation and reuse. This means either re-circulating contaminants through nature or reusing them for other purposes. The third involves storing the contaminants. In cases where no disposal method has yet been developed and reuse is not an option, the approach has been to contain and process them at a safe distance from areas of human activity.

The fourth involves controlling contamination through a regional quota system. This means applying different standards for management depending on the uses of particular waters; in South Korea’s case, marine protected areas and special management areas fall into this category. The last approach is contamination control through taxation. Under such a system, penalties are imposed in cases where contamination is unavoidable; as a rule, the party responsible bears the costs for compensation and restoration.
301575177857Lee Suk-mo, professor of ecological engineering at Pukyong National University

An ocean dump from a nuclear power plant at the current level, without any international regulations in place, would be utterly unacceptable and an affront to environmental justice for humanity today and future generations. Radioactive material decays naturally; if set apart and stored, it goes away naturally over time. But because of issues concerning time and space, this is not an economical approach, and new and effective disposal technology could be developed while it is being stored.

This is why the nuclear power plant water issue is something that should be approached as an issue affecting all of humanity, rather than one restricted to Fukushima and Japan. In particular, neighbors and countries possessing nuclear power plants of their own should make it a priority to cooperate fully in technological and economic terms.

Human disasters may start in one country, but it is through international cooperation that a country’s disaster can be resolved.

By Lee Suk-mo, professor of ecological engineering at Pukyong National University

http://www.hani.co.kr/arti/english_edition/e_international/919137.html

December 2, 2019 Posted by | fukushima 2019 | , , , | Leave a comment

Safety concerns linger although Onagawa reactor cleared to restart

gkjklmù.jpg
The Onagawa nuclear power plant in Miyagi Prefecture.
November 29, 2019
Tohoku Electric Power Co. announced Nov. 27 that the No.2 reactor at its Onagawa nuclear power plant in Miyagi Prefecture has cleared the regulatory screening for a restart, more than eight years after it was damaged in the earthquake and tsunami that triggered the Fukushima disaster.
The Nuclear Regulation Authority (NRA) has produced a draft report on its safety inspections of the reactor, saying it has met the new safety standards introduced after the 2011 Fukushima nuclear disaster. The NRA’s action means the unit, which is a boiling water reactor like those at the stricken Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant, has passed a key test for its reactivation.
The nuclear safety watchdog has spent six years assessing the safety of the reactor since the utility applied for a license to bring the unit back online.
Tohoku Electric Power has taken safety measures to ensure that the reactor will withstand an earthquake with a shaking intensity twice larger than previously assumed. The company has also promised to build a 29-meter high seawall in line with the lessons learned from the 2011 disaster, when the plant came close to being hit by the tsunami. Special facilities to respond to a severe accident will also be installed.
Despite all these new safety measures, the risk of the unexpected occurring, resulting in damage to the reactor, should not be ruled out.
There are still more things that should be done and considered before debating the appropriateness of allowing the utility to restart the reactor when the promised measures have been taken. The work is expected to be completed in fiscal 2020.
The biggest worry about the plan to bring the reactor back on stream is the lack of a viable plan for emergency evacuations of local residents.
The Oshika Peninsula, where the nuclear plant stands, has a rugged coastline that turns back upon itself repeatedly. This topographic feature limits possible emergency escape routes.
The local populations of both Onagawa and Ishinomaki, which host the plant, are aged, with people 65 years or older accounting for more than 30 percent of all the residents. One in every five local residents lives alone.
An evacuation plan based on the use of private cars and buses will be difficult to carry out. That will be all the more so in cases of complex disasters such as an earthquake and tsunami occurring in succession.
Some 210,000 people live within 30 kilometers from the nuclear plant including residents of five other neighboring municipalities. The local governments within this radius are legally required to develop evacuation plans. It will be a herculean task to secure evacuation centers that can take in all these people.
The governments of many nuclear host communities in rural areas where the local economy is heavily dependent on state subsidies and jobs provided by nuclear plants will agree to reactor restarts.
But many local residents in these communities remain deeply concerned about the safety of the reactors in their towns and cities.
Earlier this month, a group of Ishinomaki citizens filed a request with the Sendai District Court for an injunction to ban the Miyagi governor and the Ishinomaki mayor from approving the utility’s plan to restart the reactor. The legal action clearly reflects local residents’ anxiety.
A proposal to hold a local referendum on the planned reactor restart based on 110,000 signatures was submitted to the prefectural assembly although it was rejected.
The heads of some local governments in the region have expressed their opposition to the utility’s plan to resume operation of the reactor, saying they cannot take the responsibility to protect the lives of local residents during emergencies.
The Asahi Shimbun has argued that a wider scope of communities around nuclear power plants should be involved in the process. As for the Onagawa plant, there is a system to communicate the opinions of the five surrounding municipalities to Tohoku Electric Power through the prefectural government.
The Fukushima disaster has shown in a graphic manner that a wide range of areas are affected by any serious nuclear accident.
Both the Miyagi prefectural administration and Tohoku Electric Power should pay serious attention to the voices of local communities in wide areas surrounding the nuclear plant.
Nuclear power generation has been promoted under a national policy while nuclear plants have been operated by private-sector companies.
Commenting on Tohoku Electric Power’s plan to resume operating the reactor at the Onagawa plant, Miyagi Governor Yoshihiro Murai has said the central government should make the final decision and take responsibility for it.
In addition to the local administrations and utilities involved, the central government needs to address doubts and concerns among local residents related to a plan to restart a nuclear reactor.
Already, nine reactors have been reactivated under the new nuclear safety standards.
But the Onagawa plant is located in an area that has been repeatedly hit by earthquakes and tsunami. Experts say there are risks of the plant being struck by a major disaster. These facts should not be forgotten.

December 2, 2019 Posted by | Japan | , | Leave a comment

Possible radioactive water leak at Japan’s crisis hit Fukushima nuke plant

601575177786.jpg
November 28, 2019
TOKYO, Nov. 28 (Xinhua) — The operator of the disaster-hit Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant in northeastern Japan said Thursday that radioactive rainwater may be leaking into the ground through an exhaust stack.
According to Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO), rainwater leaving the ducts of one of the crippled plant’s 120-meter tall exhaust stacks contains high levels of radioactive materials.
The exhaust duct became highly contaminated when an earthquake-triggered tsunami battered the plant in March 2011, knocking out its key cooling systems and leading to core meltdowns and hydrogen explosions, resulting in the worst global nuclear crisis since Chernobyl in 1986.
The embattled utility, in a bid to collect and contain the radioactive water, said it has installed a concrete box designed to automatically distribute the water among storage tanks when the concrete box reaches a certain capacity.
TEPCO said, however, the concrete box it has installed is leaking, with radioactive water possibly flowing freely into the ground through the holes in the box.
The utility said, ostensibly confirming the leak of radioactive water into the ground, that water levels in the concrete box are falling, even when the contaminated rainwater is not being sent to the storage tanks.
TEPCO said it has not detected any “major” changes in levels of radioactivity in groundwater surrounding the leaking box and claimed there has been no adverse affects on the environment.
As the nuclear disaster at the stricken plant in Japan’s northeast continues to rumble on, the government here said earlier this month it would be safe to release radioactive water into the Pacific Ocean.
The plant in Fukushima Prefecture has being storing water that has been used to keep the nuclear cores cool after the meltdowns.
The water used to cool the melted-down cores and the groundwater at the battered plant, however, are contaminated with highly radioactive materials.
The plant is struggling to store the contaminated water in tanks at the plant and the amount of water collected has already exceeded 100 tons, with the amount rising on a daily basis and space rapidly running out.
TEPCO has said it expects the plant’s water storage tanks to become full by the summer of 2020.
Concerns have been voiced, however, over how different factors could affect the impact of the release of contaminated water into the Pacific Ocean, such as the weather and the currents of the sea.
In addition, concerns have also been made over the actual amount of radiation that humans could be internally exposed to, if and when the water is released, when factoring in the consumption of contaminated fish and seaweed.
While the government has suggested dumping the excess water into the ocean would be safe, local fisherman have expressed their vehement opposition to the move.
They argue that such a move would adversely affect the reputation of their produce and, once again, make it extremely difficult if not impossible for them to earn a living.
Some neighboring countries, including South Korea, have also voiced their opposition to the idea, citing concerns over the impact on the environment if radioactive water is released from the crisis-hit plant into the Pacific Ocean.

December 2, 2019 Posted by | fukushima 2019 | , | Leave a comment

Regulator: Venting at Fukushima reactor failed

safe_image.php.jpg
Thursday, Nov. 28
Japan’s nuclear regulator says it believes that the operator of the crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant failed to properly vent a vessel containing one of the plant’s reactors in the days after the March 2011 accident.
Tokyo Electric Power Company attempted to vent the containment vessel of the No.2 reactor to lower interior pressure and prevent equipment from being damaged.
The Nuclear Regulation Authority said on Thursday that its analysts examined parts of piping used in the venting.
They said no significant contamination was found on the piping, showing that radioactive gas was not released through the pipes.
The regulator says it believes the venting was not conducted as planned due to unknown reasons.
An investigation by TEPCO also showed a similar result.
It is believed that a massive amount of radioactive gas was released from the No.2 reactor into the environment, but the source of the leak has not been determined.
The regulator plans to look into the level of radioactivity inside the No.3 reactor next month.

December 2, 2019 Posted by | fukushima 2019 | , , | Leave a comment

Possible water leak from Fukushima exhaust stack

safe_image.php.jpg
November 28, 2019
The operator of the crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant says rainwater contaminated by an exhaust stack may be leaking into the ground.
The 120-meter tall chimney was heavily contaminated in the 2011 accident, and rainwater coming out of the duct contains high levels of radioactive substances.
The Tokyo Electric Power Company has installed a concrete box to collect contaminated rainwater.
The box is designed to automatically send the water to designated tanks when the water level exceeds 40 centimeters.
But TEPCO found that the water level falls even when rainwater is not discharged to the tanks.
The company suspects that’s because the concrete box has holes from which the stored water is leaking.
TEPCO says there are no major changes in radioactivity in surrounding groundwater and that it has not confirmed any impact on the environment so far.
But the operator says it will consider measures to prevent leakage.

December 2, 2019 Posted by | fukushima 2019 | , | Leave a comment

Fukushima Journey, Pt. 2: Olympics Propaganda, Thyroid Cancers, Japanese Govt. Lies – 4 days in Fukushima Prefecture w/Beverly Findlay-Kaneko

kjlklmgghl.jpg

 

November 28, 2019

This Week’s Featured Interview:

  • Fukushima Journey: The “Disappearing” Nuclear Disaster – 4 days on-the-ground in Fukushima Prefecture with Beverly Findlay-Kaneko continues. She lived in Yokohama, Japan for 20 years until March 2011 after the Great Eastern Japan Earthquake. She worked at Yokohama National University and The Japan Times. Beverly has a Master’s degree in East Asian Studies from Stanford University, and speaks Japanese fluently.

    Since returning from Japan, Beverly and her husband, Yuji Kaneko, have been active in raising awareness about nuclear issues, including the nuclear accident at Fukushima. Their main activities have included organizing speaking tours, giving presentations, networking in activist and nuclear-impacted communities in the U.S. and Japan, and co-producing the annual Nuclear Hotseat podcast “Voices from Japan” special on Fukushima.

    This is the second half of the “Fukushima Journey” Nuclear Hotseat interview, based on more than three hours of source material. Pt. 1 appeared in episode #439 from November 19, 2019.

December 2, 2019 Posted by | fukushima 2019 | , , , , , | 1 Comment

British shops to sell radioactive BABY FOOD and other produce from Fukushima under EU plan

BRITISH shops will sell radioactive food grown near the Fukushima nuclear disaster site from next month under controversial EU plans.
 
 
fukushima-food-EU-2188021.jpg
Politicians are calling for the foods to be properly labelled
 
Nov 27, 2019
Brussels has forged a trade deal with Japan that removes controls over radioactivity levels on foods produced on the island following the 2011 nuclear disaster, The Telegraph reports. As a result, Britain will soon be selling goods from the disaster-hit area including baby food, breakfast cereals, fish crustaceans, meat and green tea. Current plans do not allow for the contaminated products to be labelled, meaning consumers will not be aware the food contains traces of radioactive substances.
In recent years scientists have found faint traces of the radioactive isotopes Caesium 137 and 134 in food grown near Fukushima.
But experts have deemed the food perfectly safe, with radiation levels being stringently monitored by the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations.
Despite the reassurances the food is safe to eat, many have called for the produce to be labelled so shoppers can decide whether to purchase the goods.
Tory candidate Neil Parish, who chaired the environment, food and rural affairs committee from July 2017 – November 2019, said the UK needed to review the policy after Brexit.
He told the Telegraph: “We don’t need this trade. If the Japanese won’t eat this stuff, why should we?
“It may well be safe according to the scientists. But I think people have a right to know exactly what they are eating.
“All of these products should be clearly labelled.
“And I think one of the benefits of Brexit is that we’ll be able to look at this again in due course.”
French MEP Michèle Rivasi also opposes the plans and is set to raise a last minute objection to the lifting of controls at the European Parliament next week.
She said: “If controls are lifted we will have no way of gauging how much caesium is in your rice or your lobster.
“Contaminated goods will swamp the European marketplace from Birmingham to Biarritz.
“At the moment 100 Becquerels of radioactivity per kilo are permissible, even for cereals eaten by children.
 
 
fukushima-2188024.jpg
Foods produced in Fukushima will be sold in the EU
 
“For baby foods it is 50 Becquerels and should be zero.”
The EU deal means radiation inspection certificates will no longer be needed, except for certain fish products, mushrooms and wild vegetables.
In exchange, the EU will be allowed to sell to Japan limitless quantities of reduced tariff French champagne, foie gras, cognac, and wine.
Britain will be forced to replicate EU food regulations until December 2020, as the UK will still be governed by the Brexit transition period.
After this period, if the transition period is not extended, the UK Government will be free it set its own laws.
A spokesman from the Department of International Trade said: “Without exception, imports into the UK will meet our stringent food safety standards.”

December 2, 2019 Posted by | fukushima 2019 | , , , , | Leave a comment

Nuclear watchdog approves restart of Onagawa reactor in Miyagi hit by 3/11 tsunami

First Japanese boiling water reactor (like Fukushima Daiichi) has just been approved for restart of operations. This is the tenth Japanese nuclear power plant to restart since all nuclear power operations were shutdown following the March 11, 2011 triple catastrophe (earthquake, tsunami and triple meltdown.)
Interesting that Japanese nuclear regulators required the restart of these boiling water reactors be predicated on the installation of filtered hardened containment vents (FHCV). The FHCV allows the operator during a severe nuclear accident to vent to the General Electric design’s vulnerable and substandard containment structure of extreme pressure, heat, explosive non-compressible hydrogen gas and while retaining the radioactivity in newly constructed high efficiency filtration system housed in a separate hardened containment. The original FHCV was proposed by US Nuclear Regulatory Commission staff in November 2012 as a requirement for the continued operation of 23 U.S. General Electric Mark I boiling water reactors and rejected by a majority vote of the Commissioners. For U.S. reactors financial margins come before public safety margins.
 
n-onagawa-a-20191128-870x590.jpg
Tohoku Electric Power Co.’s Onagawa nuclear power plant in Miyagi Prefecture is seen on Feb. 18
Nov 27, 2019
A nuclear power plant reactor that was damaged by the 2011 earthquake and tsunami disaster and idled under stricter safety standards following the Fukushima crisis won approval from the nuclear watchdog on Wednesday for operations to resume.
The No. 2 unit of Tohoku Electric Power Co.’s Onagawa plant in Miyagi Prefecture received the green light after the addition of disaster prevention measures, including a towering seawall that is nearing completion.
 
The approval, given in a unanimous vote, was the first to be secured by the operator under the revised standards. The reactor is only the second of those damaged in the March 2011 calamity to clear the Nuclear Regulation Authority’s new safety regulations, after the Tokai No. 2 power station in Ibaraki Prefecture.
Before the reactor can be restarted, the plant, which straddles the town of Onagawa and the city of Ishinomaki, still needs to finish installing anti-disaster measures, which are expected to be completed in fiscal 2020, and receive consent from the local governments.
Tohoku Electric expects to spend ¥340 billion ($3.1 billion) on the measures, the bulk of that being spent the seawall — which will run along 800 meters of Pacific coast and rise 29 meters above sea level to guard against tsunami as high as 23.1 meters. In the March 2011 disaster, parts of the basement floors of Onagawa’s No. 2 unit were flooded.
Costs for enhanced safety measures have ballooned and are expected to swell further with the construction of facilities to be used in the event of a terrorist attack, also required under the new safety standards.
The Onagawa plant is the closest nuclear plant to the epicenter of the magnitude 9.0 quake that struck northeastern Japan on March 11, 2011, and heavy shaking triggered an automatic shutdown of its three reactors.
Its No. 2 reactor building suffered flooding from the subsequent 13-meter tsunami, losing up to 70 percent of its capacity to resist earthquakes, and tremors damaged four out of five external power supplies at the plant. But the remaining line was enough to cool the reactors into a cold shutdown, unlike the situation at the Fukushima No. 1 plant run by Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings Inc., or Tepco, where the triple meltdowns occurred.
Tohoku Electric applied for safety screening for the No. 2 reactor at the Onagawa plant in December 2013, and its restart should save the utility ¥35 billion annually in fuel costs.
The No. 1 reactor is scheduled to be decommissioned, and the utility is still considering whether to seek approval to restart the No. 3 reactor.
The Onagawa No. 2 reactor may become the first boiling water reactor — the same type used at the Fukushima No. 1 plant — to resume operations following the 2011 earthquake and tsunami disaster, which claimed nearly 16,000 lives. More than 2,500 remain missing today. In Onagawa, those killed or missing total more than 800.
Other boiling water reactors at Tepco’s Kashiwazaki-Kariwa plant in Niigata Prefecture and the Tokai No. 2 plant of Japan Atomic Power Co. have already secured NRA approval to resume operations, but have yet to obtain local consent.
Onagawa’s approval will be formalized following a roughly one-month period where the NRA will accept comments from the public. During the meeting Wednesday, NRA Commissioner Shinsuke Yamanaka said the safety of the plant’s structural design had been reviewed carefully, in consideration that the Tohoku region has been hit by big earthquakes in the past.
At Onagawa, more than 80 percent of houses were damaged following the March 2011 tsunami, and locals were divided on whether to back the restart of the plant.
“It is OK to restart if it’s safe,” said Shoichi Chubachi, 82, who still lives in public housing for people who lost their homes in the disaster. “The town has reaped benefits from the nuclear plant. I cannot say I’m opposed.”
“I think there’s sufficient electricity without nuclear power,” said housewife Chisato Uno, 69. “Taking into account our children and grandchildren, no nuclear power is better.”
A woman in her 80s who lives alone expressed concerns. “I can’t drive a car and I cannot evacuate because my legs are weak,” she said.

December 2, 2019 Posted by | Japan | , | Leave a comment

Transparency, the olympics, and that damned water, Part 2

Happy-fukushima-peach-01.jpgOfficial messaging about Fukushima focuses on happiness.

Tuesday November 26th, 2019

Part 2: What about the Olympics?

The concerns we hear about the 2020 Olympics are more generalized and less focussed than those about the water in the tanks at Fukushima Daiichi. Some people ask us if it’s safe to come to Japan at all. Others narrow it down to Fukushima Prefecture. A few journalists and others have specifically asked us to weigh in on the potential risks to people who attend the events which will be held in Azuma Stadium in Fukushima City.  Our response to Tokyo businessman Roy Tomizawa was to suggest he build a bGeigie and survey the stadium himself. He did, and wrote about it. Helping people find out for themselves is how we prefer to interact with and inform the public. We often point out that the entire framing of “safety” when it comes to radiation risk is problematic. The guidelines for acceptable radiation limits in food, the environment, and elsewhere are not really “safety” limits, and exceeding them does not mean “unsafe.” They are warning levels that trigger protective actions intended to prevent actually “unsafe” exposures. In each case, the important questions are: Do you understand this risk, and is it acceptable to you? This is where people need help, and where government has so far largely failed in its mission to inform. Once again we think it comes down to transparency.

A quick Google search of “Fukushima Olympics”  will illustrate the widespread belief that athletes and visitors who go to Fukushima next year will be putting their lives at risk. The Korean government has announced that their teams will bring their own food so as not to incur potential health risks from eating local products. Many people suspect that the Japanese Government is holding Olympic events in Fukushima in order to cover up the effects of the disaster and paint the prefecture with a tint of normality. It seems clear that the government lost control of this narrative long ago and may well be unable to recover before the 2020 Olympics begin, and that the negative effects could persist for years afterwards. We do not see any adequate messaging or information about the kinds of risks people around the world are concerned about, presented understandably and accessibly. What messaging we have seen so far is clumsy and tends heavily towards images of smiley happy people intended to suggest that everything is fine. No-one really trusts these blithe reassurances, because they distrust government itself.

Japanese government agencies seem to be operating under the assumption that their authority in matters like this is still intact in the eyes of the public. Their messages appear to be shaped under the assumption that they can simply say, “We’ve had a committee look into it and we’ve determined that it’s safe,” without demonstrating the necessary transparency and breaking the explanation down in appropriate ways. We have no desire to make government’s job easier about any of this, but we care about the people in Fukushima, and so we want government to present clear and accurate information about their situation. Things in Fukushima are not as bad as alarming Google hits often suggest, but it’s definitely not hunky-dory either. Honest messaging would reflect this. We too wonder why the government has rushed to hold Olympic events in Fukushima, ignoring the global public’s existing fear and skepticism. Many Fukushima residents are supportive of the games and hope they will shed a positive light on the progress the prefecture has made since the disasters in 2011. It could be good for local economies as well. On the other hand, it could be another avoidable PR disaster.

We think people can visit Fukushima today without undue fear. The preponderance of data, both independent data like ours as well as official data, shows that typical visitors are extremely unlikely to travel anywhere in the prefecture where external radiation exposure is higher than natural background radiation levels in most of the world, unless they go out of their way to enter very contaminated areas to which access is normally prohibited. If people are willing to consider normal background radiation levels “safe,” then most of Fukushima fits this description. There are a lot caveats, however. There may be cesium contamination in the ground even in places where the external dose rate is in the normal range (Minnanods has published a very good map of their independent measurements of soil contamination). While food produced in Fukushima is closely monitored by both official bodies and independent labs, both of which indicate that it is overwhelmingly “safe,” people should avoid wild mushrooms, wild vegetables, wild game, and other items which are not produced under controlled agricultural conditions and distributed by supermarkets. With few exceptions the forests are not being decontaminated, and radiation levels can be considerably higher there, so it’s probably best to avoid entering unknown forests.

We get a lot of pushback for saying this, but years of Safecast radiation measurements in Fukushima and elsewhere show that short-term visitors to Fukushima will almost certainly get a higher radiation dose on their flights to Japan than they will by spending several days in Fukushima. (You can see Safecast measurements taken during air travel here.) These exposures are not entirely comparable, though, and the equation is different for people who live in parts of Fukushima where they are likely to receive decades of elevated radiation doses. But we stand by our overall conclusions, while pointing out that the only way to be sure is to have good data available for the places you’re going, which Safecast tries hard to provide. We’re very critical of the Korean government’s politically motivated manipulation of fear about Fukushima food despite not presenting any measurement data in support of its claims. On the other hand, Korea has demanded that radiation risks for next year’s Olympics be verified by independent third-parties, which we highly endorse. The Japanese government and the Olympic committee have announced that the torch relay will run though over 20 Fukushima towns, but they have not provided the public with survey data showing the current radiation levels along those routes. Safecast volunteers are ready to measure these routes, and indeed most have probably already been measured at some point, and while our data might indicate no particular risks for participants and viewers in most locations, it might reveal areas of concern. What maddens us is that we have been unable to obtain information about the actual street routes for the Fukushima portions of the relay and do not know how long before the event’s route information will actually become available.

Ultimately, we expect that official messaging about the Fukushima 2020 Olympic events will continue to avoid frank discussions of radiation risks and will continue to focus on “happiness.” The current information void and amateurish messaging are likely to be shattered at some point early next year by a massive and expensive PR blitz which will also focus on “happiness” but with higher production values and market reach. If radiation is dealt with at all, it is likely to be in a superficial and somewhat misleading manner. It doesn’t have to be that way.

Azby Brown

Azby Brown is Safecast’s lead researcher and primary author of the Safecast Report. A widely published authority in the fields of design, architecture, and the environment, he has lived in Japan for over 30 years, and founded the KIT Future Design Institute in 2003. He joined Safecast in mid-2011, and frequently represents the group at international expert conferences.

https://blog.safecast.org/2019/11/transparency-the-olympics-and-that-damned-water-part-2/

December 2, 2019 Posted by | fukushima 2019 | , , , | Leave a comment

Transparency, the olympics, and that damned water, Part 1

DroneDaiichiJan2018-v01-1.pngJoe’s drone image of the water tanks at Fukushima Daiichi, December ,2018

 

Tuesday November 26th, 2019

Questions, questions…

It’s hard to say what we get more questions about lately, the 2020 Olympics or the plan to release water from Fukushima Daiichi to the Pacific Ocean. Both issues involve public safety. How safe from radiation will people be who will attend Olympic games in Japan next year, specifically those who attend events to be held in Fukushima? How safe is it for TEPCO to release the water containing tritium and other radionuclides that is currently being stored in hundreds of tanks onsite at Fukushima Daiichi? These are separate issues of course, but in both cases the answers hinge on transparency. We think the fact that we get so many questions about these issues from both journalists and the general public indicates a continuing lack of trust in what the Japanese government and TEPCO say about anything related to Fukushima. That there can be no trust without transparency has become one of our mantras, and we repeat it at every opportunity. Whether the questions are about the Olympics, the water, food safety, the environment, or health, available scientific data only fills in part of the picture. Time and again we’ve found that even when the science generally supports official policy, the public is not given enough transparent information to evaluate the accuracy of the statements they’re hearing. And all too often we ourselves are forced to conclude that we haven’t seen enough reliable information to either confidently validate or refute official claims.

Part 1: What about the water?

In the case of the water in the tanks, last year I wrote a detailed two-part blog post as well as a newspaper op-ed about the issue. I pointed out the problems we saw then with communication and transparency on the part of both the gov’t and TEPCO, and relayed expert opinions about the risks of releasing the water. At the time, all of the information about the water in the tanks provided by TEPCO and the government referred only to its tritium content, with no reference to other radionuclides. While researching for my articles I consulted TEPCO experts several times, and asked them directly if there was data available showing the actual radionuclide content of the tanks. I asked directly if there was truly only tritium to be concerned about. Each time I was given summary data that indicated only tritium. A few months later, in September, 2018, TEPCO suddenly announced that in addition to the tritium the tanks also contain noticeable levels of strontium, americium, and other radionuclides. The public was as outraged by this dishonesty as we were.

What should we make, then, of the November 21, 2019, announcement from METI, widely (and vaguely) reported in the international press, that the advisory committee had determined that the water release plan was “safe”? In terms of politics and process, we’d like to point out that there has not yet been any announcement of an order from METI, NRA, or other government body to TEPCO to release the water. Similarly there has not been any announcement of an actual request from TEPCO to be allowed to do so. The public position is that no decision has been made yet. But we think it’s a done deal and has been for several years already. What we’re seeing is an ongoing effort to get enough of the public on board to minimize the political fallout when it happens. Someone will have to put their name on the order, and it will surely be politically costly.

To be sure, this entire “crisis” is predicated on the claim that TEPCO will run out of onsite tank space in a year or two, but there is no evidence that the company or METI has seriously evaluated obtaining use of land adjoining the Fukushima Daiichi site, which is currently under the jurisdiction of the Environment Ministry for storage of decontamination waste, in order to build more tanks for long-term storage. This recommendation has been put forward by several groups and individuals at public meetings and elsewhere, but seems to have been dismissed without detailed study. We acknowledge the potential risks of this approach in the event a tank ruptures, but considering that the half-life of tritium is about 12.3 years, it seems plausible that secure storage for several decades could be constructed, during which time the water’s radioactivity would decline substantially. The idea should at least be seriously considered and good evidence presented for why it should not be done, if that is the conclusion.

The November 21st METI document acknowledges the need for monitoring if and when the water is released, stating: “Effective monitoring to confirm both 1) safety at the time of discharge and 2) safety of surrounding environment should be conducted” and “Monitoring results should be shared in a transparent manner, to wipe out concerns.” While these acknowledgements are welcome, we consider them obvious to the point of absurdity. Painful experience has shown that the need for actual transparency in cases like Fukushima can only be met by robust and independent third-party monitoring, which is not mentioned anywhere. The public has a right to this, and as Safecast has proven, we can do it ourselves. We have strongly recommended to TEPCO and the government officials we have spoken to over the years that they allow water samples to be measured by genuinely independent researchers and citizen-run radiation monitoring labs. We had never gotten an explanation of why this could not be facilitated. But in a recent news article, TEPCO spokesperson Hideki Yagi is quoted as saying that necessary safety protocols make independent testing impossible. We see no evidence that TEPCO has seriously investigated how true third-party monitoring could be implemented for the water in the tanks. Adequate protocols seem to be in place for third-party testing of other water onsite. TEPCO should come clean and give adequate access to technically qualified organizations and let them convey their findings before any release decision is made.

Page eight of the recent METI briefing document includes dose estimates for humans after the water is released, which it states have been derived from an UNSCEAR document from 2016, “Sources, effects and risks of ionizing radiation, Annex A.”  METI concludes that “…the impact of the radiation from the discharge is sufficiently small…” This is, of course, the most crucial data, but it is presented in an extremely confusing and sketchy manner. The public should also be given dose rate and radionuclide concentration estimates for the ocean water itself at different points, and for affected marine life. We asked for this information over a year ago, but METI was unable to provide it. Further, the UNSCEAR document cited as the basis for the calculations is really a summary overview document, and we question whether or not by itself it provides a sufficient basis for detailed dose estimates. The METI committee should show its calculations, especially the assumptions made, and we caution that no-one should assume that the estimates are correct until they do so. To ensure true transparency, the public should also demand to be included in developing detailed monitoring plans for the released water, to track the spread of the radionuclides and their concentrations, and to monitor subsequent concentrations in the food chain and in the wider environment. There are many individuals and organizations, including Safecast, who are well-qualified to participate in this oversight and have the motivation to do so. The public should refuse to accept any release plan until this kind of participatory planning and oversight is clearly in place. We are far beyond the point where “Trust Us” is an option.

Azby Brown

Azby Brown is Safecast’s lead researcher and primary author of the Safecast Report. A widely published authority in the fields of design, architecture, and the environment, he has lived in Japan for over 30 years, and founded the KIT Future Design Institute in 2003. He joined Safecast in mid-2011, and frequently represents the group at international expert conferences.

https://blog.safecast.org/2019/11/transparency-the-olympics-and-that-damned-water-part-1/

December 2, 2019 Posted by | fukushima 2019 | , | Leave a comment

Radioactive food from Fukushima will be heading to UK under EU plans

The European Commission is a lobbying and bribing heaven….
TELEMMGLPICT000002092400_trans_NvBQzQNjv4BqgjMgc16I9qyJn-rNk5QSuAh97-UIaSaiUBJJjkWSV8k.jpeg
A farmer in Fukushima
26 November 2019
Radioactive food grown near the wrecked Fukushima nuclear plant in Japan will be sold to British shoppers next month under controversial EU plans.
Controls over radioactivity levels in produce from Japan following the 2011 disaster are to be lifted by Brussels as part of the world’s biggest ever trade deal.
It means that British shops will soon be selling goods from the disaster-hit area including baby food, breakfast cereals, fish, crustaceans, meat and green tea. Tests in recent years have shown faint traces of radioactive substances including caesium 134 and 137.
The Japanese government has enforced a strict regime on food from the Fukushima prefecture since the accident, and scientists have deemed it perfectly safe. However senior politicians last night called for the produce to be clearly labelled so that British shoppers can choose whether to eat it.
Conservative candidate Neil Parish, who chaired the environment, food and rural affairs committee during the last Parliament, said he would challenge the government over the issue, if re-elected.
“We don’t need this trade. If the Japanese won’t eat this stuff, why should we?” he told the Daily Telegraph.
“It may well be safe according to the scientists. But I think people have a right to know exactly what they are eating. 
“All of these products should be clearly labelled. And I think one of the benefits of Brexit is that we’ll be able to look at this again in due course.”
Under the Brussels deal radiation inspection certificates will no longer be needed, apart from for certain fish products, mushrooms and wild vegetables. In exchange, the EU will be allowed to sell to Japan limitless quantities of reduced tariff French champagne, foie gras, cognac, and wine. Britain has agreed to mirror EU food regulations during the Brexit transition period, set to end in December 2020. 
It comes after Remain campaigners insisted that Britain should stay in the EU because of the bloc’s stringent food safety standards. Talks over a possible post-Brexit trade deal with the US have already been overshadowed by fears over chlorinated chicken.
The Fukushima plant was overwhelmed by tsunami waves in March 2011 in the worst nuclear disaster since Chernobyl. In the days afterward, the damaged facility spewed radiation into the air and sea, contaminating plants, soil and fish. A decades-long decommissioning process is now underway.
Since the accident Japanese consumers have turned away from Fukushima’s agricultural produce. Peaches and beef from the area suffer a price disadvantage, while rice is often used for industrial purposes.
The Japanese government insists the food is safe, and has launched a campaign to revive the fortunes of Fukushima farmers. From April 2018 to March this year, officials examined 9.21 million bags of rice, with not a single one exceeding the safe limit. However nations including South Korea, China and the US have maintained bans on produce from the area. 
French MEP Michèle Rivasi will be raising a last minute objection to the lifting of controls at the European Parliament next week. 
“If controls are lifted we will have no way of gauging how much caesium is in your rice or your lobster. Contaminated goods will swamp the European marketplace from Birmingham to Biarritz,” she said.
“At the moment 100 Becquerels of radioactivity  per kilo are permissible, even for cereals eaten by children. For baby  foods it is 50 Becquerels and should be zero.” 
A ban on the import of Fukushima rice into EU countries was lifted in 2017. A source at the Food Standards Agency said there had been “no instances of non-compliance” since then, adding it would continue to “monitor the safety” of Japanese food imports.
A spokesman from the Department of International Trade added: “Without exception, imports into the UK will meet our stringent food safety standards.”

December 2, 2019 Posted by | fukushima 2019 | , , , | Leave a comment

Should Fukushima food be served at the Olympics?

To have succeeded to get to host the Olympics in Tokyo thru bribes and lies is one thing, to serve Fukushima food at the Olympics is another thing: totally insane.
And that despite all the propaganda saying otherwise that the Japanese government and its servile media are giving us!
OLY-2020-JPN-JAPAN-FUKUSHIMA-NUCLEAR-FOOD
An employee weighs a flatfish at a seafood market in Iwaki, Fukushima Prefecture, before conducting radiation tests on Oct. 1.
OLY-2020-JPN-JAPAN-FUKUSHIMA-NUCLEAR-FOOD
Fish are displayed at a seafood market in Iwaki, Fukushima Prefecture, on Oct. 1.
OLY-2020-JPN-JAPAN-FUKUSHIMA-NUCLEAR-FOOD
Tomio Kusano shows some of his pears at his orchard in Iwaki, Fukushima Prefecture, on Oct. 1.
Nov 26, 2019
FUKUSHIMA – For years, the government has sought to convince consumers that food from Fukushima is safe despite the nuclear disaster. But will it serve the prefecture’s produce at the Tokyo Olympics?
It’s a thorny subject for the authorities. They pitched the Olympics in part as a chance to showcase the recovery of areas affected by the 2011 earthquake, tsunami and nuclear disaster.
Government officials tout strict checks on food from the prefecture as evidence the produce is completely safe, but it remains unclear whether athletes and sports teams from around the world will be convinced.
In Fukushima, producers are keen to see their products served in the Olympic Village and have submitted a bid to the organizers.
“Fukushima Prefecture has put forward food from 187 producers and is second only to Hokkaido when it comes to meeting the specified criteria in terms of range of products,” said Shigeyuki Honma, assistant director general of the prefectural government’s agriculture and forestry planning division.
“Fukushima wants to serve athletes its rice, its fruits, beef and vegetables. But the committee still has to decide.”
In the years since the nuclear disaster, when tsunami overwhelmed the reactors at the Fukushima No. 1 power plant, strict measures have been in place to screen all manner of local produce.
And officials say the figures speak for themselves.
Japan allows a maximum of 100 becquerels of cesium radioactivity per kilogram. The European Union, by comparison, sets that level at 1,250 Bq/kg and the U.S. at 1,200.
According to officials, from April 2018 to March, 9.21 million bags of rice were examined with not a single one exceeding the Japanese limit.
The same for 2,455 samples of fruit and vegetables, 4,336 pieces of meat and 6,187 ocean fish.
“Only river fish and wild mushrooms have on just six occasions been found to exceed the limits,” said Kenji Kusano, director of the Fukushima Agricultural Technology Center in Koriyama, Fukushima Prefecture, the government’s main screening site.
‘Objective data’
But the figures have only gone some way to reassuring foreign officials: Numerous countries including China, South Korea and the U.S. maintain restrictions on the import of some or all produce from Fukushima.
South Korea, currently locked in a dispute with Japan over wartime issues, has been vocal about its concerns ahead of the Olympics, even raising the possibility of bringing in its own kitchen and food.
“We have requested the Olympic organizers to provide objective data verified by an independent third body,” the South Korean Sports and Olympic Committee said in a statement earlier this year.
“Since Japan repeatedly said its food from Fukushima is safe, we have demanded they provide statistics and data to back up their claims,” an official with the committee said.
The position underlines a long-running problem for Japan: While it points to its extensive, government-mandated checks as proof of safety, many abroad feel the government is not an objective arbiter.
“Generally, Japanese citizens have faith in the government, and we haven’t felt the need to have checks carried out by independent parties,” Kusano said.
But lingering questions have left some officials feeling that “perhaps (third-party checks) may be important from the point of view of foreigners,” he added.
‘Completely safe’
The International Olympic Committee has said it is still weighing how to handle the matter.
“Food menus and catering companies for the Olympic Village are under discussion and have yet to be defined,” a spokesman said.
Tokyo Olympics organizers say promoting areas affected by the 2011 disaster remains a key goal.
“Supporting the area’s reconstruction efforts through the sourcing of its food and beverage products is one of our basic strategies; we are therefore seriously considering doing this,” organizing committee spokesman Masa Takaya said.
He said rules on what food and drink could be brought in independently by teams are still being reviewed.
And, pointing to the strict standards of Japanese checks, he said the organizers “are confident the food we will serve to athletes will be completely safe.”
In Fukushima, producers can only wait and hope for the best.
Tomio Kusano, a pear farmer in Iwaki on the Fukushima coast, struggled enormously after the disaster.
“My world really collapsed, but I never thought for a second of quitting,” the orchardist said.
And his perseverance is finally beginning to pay off: “I don’t get subsidies any more. My pears are inspected and there are no problems. They are selling well again in Japan, and Vietnam has started to import them.”

December 2, 2019 Posted by | fukushima 2019 | , | Leave a comment

Hot particles in Japan: what does this mean for the Olympics and beyond?

1024px-Olympic-flag-Victoria.jpg

November 21, 2019

Hundreds of thousands of people – athletes and spectators – will flood into Japan for the 2020 Olympics. But exposure dangers from the Fukushima nuclear catastrophe have not ended since the meltdowns and explosions spread radioactive contamination over large areas reaching down to Tokyo and beyond.  Soon after the start of the meltdowns, experts began warning of exposure to radioactive microparticles (hot particles)– a type of particle that poses a danger unaccounted for by regulatory agencies.  In order to understand the special danger posed by these particles, at the Olympics and beyond, we must first understand the current state of radiation exposure standards.

Hot particles don’t fit current exposure models

For decades, protection from radiation exposure has been based on understanding how doses are delivered to the human body. Are the doses high or low? Inside or outside the body? If a dose is internal, which organ is it impacting? Is the dose given all at one time, or over a longer time? Additional consideration should be given to who is receiving the exposure: men, women, children, fetuses, — although protection based on age, gender and pregnancy falls short.

The difficulty with hot particles, which can travel great distances, is that they don’t deliver doses in the way experts expect. Current exposure assumptions hold that radionuclides settling in the body, i.e. through inhalation or ingestion, deliver a low dose to surrounding cells where they lodge. But these models are not truly reflecting the damage that is occurring. For instance, precise distribution of many radionuclides within the body eludes experts. And radiation doses delivered inside cells, which may seem low to an entire body, are large doses when just single cells or groupings of cells receive them. Hot particles deliver a much larger dose still, than what is considered “low”; and once they are inhaled or ingested, they deliver it specifically to the often unpredictable area of the body where they lodge. 

Hot particles make already unpredictable damage worse

Not only can doses be unpredictable – so can damage. Called stochastic, damage from radiation exposure may occur by chance, and may occur at all doses down to zero.  The higher the dose is, the greater the chance is that damage will happen. However, the severity of the damage, should any occur, is independent of the dose; in other words, even low doses of radiation can result in severe consequences. Sometimes these consequences can take decades to manifest. But for times of life when fast growth is occurring – such as pregnancy or childhood – the damage may show up in a much shorter time frame.

Since all parts of the human body develop from single cells during pregnancy, the severity of a radiation hit during this development can be devastating for mother and child, yet governments and the nuclear industry never consider these exposures as having an official radiation impact. Therefore, NO safe dose CAN exist.  Stochastic risk, coupled with the additional unpredictable and unaccounted for risk from radioactive microparticles, can lead to impacts that are more dangerous and difficult to quantify with currently used methods.

Olympics 2020 and beyond

Clearly the danger posed by exposure to radioactive microparticles should be considered, in addition to known and better understood radiocesium contamination, as Japan prepares to host the 2020 Olympics. While most of the radioactive particle dust has settled, it can be easily resuspended by human or animal actions such as digging or running; and by weather, such as rain, wind, snow, and floods. Health officials in Japan continue to fail to act and stop the ongoing radioactive exposures. This lack of governmental action puts all residents of Japan at risk, and also any athletes, spectators and visitors that participate in Olympic festivities or games.  

Currently, the torch relay is scheduled to begin with a special display of the “Flame of Recovery”, as the torch passes through still-contaminated areas of Fukushima Prefecture. Then, the “Grand Start”, the Japanese leg of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Torch Relay, will occur at J Village, the former disaster response headquarters used during the initial nuclear meltdowns in 2011. It is 12.4 miles from Fukushima Daiichi and resides close to acres of radioactive topsoil and other material stored in bags. The bags and the cranes moving them are visible on satellite maps dated 2019. After starting in Fukushima, the torch will travel to all remaining prefectures of Japan. Further, there is indication that J. Village (now called National Training Center) is being retrofitted as a practice area for baseball, softball and soccer. Game events hosted in Fukushima Prefecture aren’t the only exposure concern as radioisotopes have traveled far from the ruined cores of Fukushima’s reactors. Radionuclides from the meltdowns were found in Tokyo’s metropolitan area as late as 2016 and would raise and lower, researchers observed, based on rainfall and run-off. A “high activity radioactively-hot dust particle” traveled from Fukushima’s ruined core, to a house in Nagoya, Japan –270 miles away.

In our normal lives, each one of us breathes in a modest amount of dust daily. People are also exposed through contaminated food, ingestion of dusts and soil, or through skin contact. Endurance athletes are at a higher risk, since they often eat much more – and take in more breaths per minute – than an average athlete or a person at rest. And, biologically, due to developing cells, children and pregnant women are at a much higher risk from radiation exposure than men. Many Olympic and Paralympic athletes are of childbearing age or adolescents

Contamination in Japan has not gone away and neither should our awareness. While most of the athletes, coaches and spectators will leave Japan, the contamination remains, impacting generations of people who will have to contend with this danger for much longer than the eight plus years they have been exposed to date.

Japan’s government-wide policy of dismissing radiation’s dangers and normalizing exposure to radioactivity is part of an attempt to resettle people in areas that would allow a dose of 2 rem (2000 mrem) per year. Prior to the Fukushima meltdowns, this level was considered high-risk to the general population. This is not an acceptable level of exposure, and the radioactive microparticles found in areas with even lower background levels indicates a significant risk that governments around the world who support nuclear technologies are covering up. Merely understanding and quantifying these particles is not enough. Governments must protect people from exposure everywhere in the world, not just in Japan. The danger of radioactive microparticles should be added to a long list of reasons why nuclear technology is not safe and should no longer be used.

Thanks to Arnie and Maggie Gundersen at Fairewinds Energy Education for technical and editorial input. Any mistakes are my own. Cindy Folkers

http://www.beyondnuclear.org/japan/2019/11/21/hot-particles-in-japan-what-does-this-mean-for-the-olympics.html

December 2, 2019 Posted by | fukushima 2019 | , | Leave a comment

Tokyo 2020 Olympics: will Fukushima rice and fruits be on the menu?

Japanese officials insist food from Fukushima is safe despite the 2011 nuclear disaster but China, South Korea and the US still restrict food imports from there
Producers are keen to serve local rice, fruits, beef and vegetables at the Olympic Village
 
01
An angler shows off a salmon caught in the Kido River in Naraha, Fukushima prefecture.
 
 
For years, Japan’s government has sought to convince consumers that food from Fukushima is safe despite the nuclear disaster. But will it serve the region’s produce at the Tokyo Olympics?
It’s a thorny subject for the authorities. They pitched the Games in part as a chance to showcase the recovery of areas affected by the 2011 tsunami and nuclear disaster.
Government officials tout strict checks on food from the region as evidence that the produce is completely safe, but it remains unclear whether athletes and sports teams from around the world will be convinced.
In the Fukushima region, producers are keen to see their products served at the Olympic Village and have submitted a bid to the organisers.
“The Fukushima region has put forward food from 187 producers and is second only to Hokkaido when it comes to meeting the specified criteria in terms of range of products,” said Shigeyuki Honma, assistant director general of the local government’s agriculture and forestry planning division.
“Fukushima wants to serve athletes its rice, its fruits, beef and vegetables. But the committee still has to decide.”
In the years since the nuclear disaster, when tsunami waves overwhelmed the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant, strict measures have been in place to screen all manner of local products. And officials say the figures speak for themselves.
Japan allows a maximum of 100 becquerels of caesium radioactivity per kilogram (Bq/kg). The European Union, by comparison, sets that level at 1,250 Bq/kg and the US at 1,200.
From April 2018 to March this year, 9.21 million bags of rice were examined, with not a single one exceeding the Japanese limit.
The same for 2,455 samples of fruit and vegetables, 4,336 pieces of meat and 6,187 ocean fish.
“Only river fish and wild mushrooms have on just six occasions been found to exceed the limits,” said Kenji Kusano, director of the Fukushima Agricultural Technology Centre, in Koriyama, the government’s main screening site.
But the figures have only gone some way to reassuring foreign officials: numerous countries including China, South Korea, and the United States maintain restrictions on the import of some or all produce from Fukushima.
02
Kenji Kusano, director of the Fukushima Agricultural Technology Centre, subjects fish to radiation tests.
 
South Korea, which is currently locked in a dispute with Japan over wartime issues, has been vocal about its concerns ahead of the Olympics, even raising the possibility of bringing in its own kitchen and food.
“We have requested the Olympic organisers to provide objective data verified by an independent third body,” the South Korean Sports and Olympic Committee said in a statement earlier this year.
“Since Japan repeatedly said its food from Fukushima is safe, we have demanded they provide statistics and data to back up their claims,” an official with the committee said.
The position underlines a long-running problem for Japan: while it points to its extensive, government-mandated checks as proof of safety, many abroad feel the government is not an objective arbiter.
 
03
In 2011, tsunami waves overwhelmed the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant.
 
“Generally, Japanese citizens have faith in the government, and we haven’t felt the need to have checks carried out by independent parties,” Kusano said.
But lingering questions have left some officials feeling “perhaps [third-party checks] may be important from the point of view of foreigners,” he added.
The International Olympic Committee said it was still weighing how to handle the matter.
“Food menus and catering companies for the Olympic Village are under discussion and have yet to be defined,” a spokesman said.
The Tokyo 2020 organisers said promoting areas affected by the 2011 disaster remains a key goal.
04
Japanese pear farmer Tomio Kusano shows how he removed the tree skins after the 2011 tsunami and nuclear disaster at his farm in Iwaki, Fukushima prefecture.
 
“Supporting the area’s reconstruction efforts through the sourcing of its food and beverage products is one of our basic strategies; we are therefore seriously considering doing this,” 2020 spokesman Masa Takaya said.
He said rules on what food and drink could be brought in independently by teams were still being reviewed. And, pointing to the strict standards of Japanese checks, he said the organisers “are confident the food we will serve to athletes will be completely safe”.
In Fukushima, producers can only wait and hope for the best.
 
Tomio Kusano, a pear farmer in Iwaki on the Fukushima coast, struggled enormously after the disaster.
“My world really collapsed, but I never thought for a second of quitting,” he said.
And his perseverance is finally paying off, he said.
“I don’t get subsidies any more. My pears are inspected and there are no problems. They are selling well again in Japan, and Vietnam has started to import them.”

December 2, 2019 Posted by | fukushima 2019 | , , , , | Leave a comment