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March 2, 2020 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Radiation Disinformation and Human Rights Violations at the Heart of Fukushima and the Olympic Games

1582692548_34Azuma Stadium and Arakawa River, Fukushima City, Christian Aslund/Greenpeace, October 2019

March 1, 2020

Shaun Burnie

Abstract: In the run up to the 2020 summer Olympics / Paralympics, multiple violations of the human rights of citizens and workers impacted by the Fukushima nuclear disaster persist. UN human rights experts have continued to challenge the Abe government over its record. Ignoring basic scientific principles of radiation protection, the government is deliberately distorting reality on actual contamination, the limited effectiveness and scope of decontamination and risks in Fukushima prefecture. Abe’s disinformation narrative on Fukushima is aimed at erasing the image of Fukushima as the location of one of the world’s nuclear disasters, and, by so doing, reviving the prospects for the nation’s nuclear industry. There remains a window in the coming months for a wider understanding of the complex reality in Fukushima, the ongoing radiological conditions and impacts, and the struggle of tens of thousands of evacuees and workers to secure their legal rights. 

Ever since the start of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster in March 2011, many of the issues concerning the rights of evacuees (particularly women and children), citizens, and workers have been raised by United Nations human rights bodies and experts. One of the earliest and most comprehensive was the 2012 Mission Report of Special Rapporteur (SR) Anand Grover. (OHCR 2013) Eight years later, and in the run up to Japan hosting the 2020 summer Olympics / Paralympics, the violations of citizens’ and workers’ rights continue. 

The Abe government has framed the games as the reconstruction Olympics, with a near explicit aim of erasing the image of Fukushima as the location of one of the world’s worst nuclear disasters. During the games themselves, Abe may achieve his objective (at least temporarily) as there is almost no prospect that the wider context of an ongoing radiological emergency will be reported. It’s all about the games and Abe’s disinformation narrative on Fukushima is about to go into hyperdrive. But in the run up to the opening of the Olympics there is a window of opportunity for a wider understanding of the complex reality in Fukushima, the ongoing radiological impact and the struggle of tens of thousands of evacuees and workers to secure their legal rights.

Taking their lead from Grover, during the last two years UN Special Rapporteurs have extended the depth and range of issues they have raised with the Abe government. This escalation of intervention by the Special Rapporteurs (SR) has not been well received by the Japanese government. Official country visits by these leading experts in their fields, despite multiple requests sent from the UN in Geneva, remain blocked by the Abe government. A visit to Japan by a UN human rights SR to investigate the conditions for Fukushima citizens and workers impacted by the nuclear disaster would directly challenge Abe’s Fukushima whitewash strategy and it’s not going to happen in the year of the reconstruction games.

One of the central issues raised by the United Nations is the higher radiation exposure limit set for Fukushima citizens. As a consequence of the widespread contamination resulting from the reactor meltdowns, in particular from radio-cesium, large areas of Fukushima prefecture exceeded the 1milliSievert per year (mSv/y) recommended maximum dose limit for the public. Given the half-life of cesium-137 is 30 years, there is no prospect that in many of the evacuated areas of Fukushima dose rates would return to pre 3/11 levels for several decades and longer. By revising the upper limit to 20mSv/y, and dismissing radiation risks at that level, the government proceeded with lifting evacuation orders for some of the most contaminated areas of Fukushima, including the towns of Namie and Iitate.

There is no scientific basis for the Japanese government to dismiss low dose radiation risks. Dr David Richardson, co-author of the world’s largest cohort studies on leukemia risk from low dose radiation exposure (Lancet 2015), has recently stated that five years exposure at 20mSv a year would confer about a 30% excess risk of fatal leukemia.(HBO 2020) The Japanese government is well aware of the risks from low dose radiation – not least as it was one of the funders of the 2015 INWORKS study which found an increase in leukemia rates amongst nuclear workers with annual exposure in the range of 3-5mSv/y.

Adding to the pressure from the international community over the Abe government’s Fukushima policies, a human rights Special Rapporteur at the UN General Assembly in October 2018 warned that, “The recommendation to lower acceptable levels of exposure back to 1 mSv/yr was proposed by the Government of Germany and the Government of Japan ‘accepted to follow up’ on it, according to the UN database. However…the recommendation is not being implemented. Japan has a duty to prevent and minimize childhood exposure to radiation.” (OHCHRa 2018). The Rapporteur, Baskut Tuncak, further stated that “The UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, to which Japan is a Party, contains a clear obligation on States to respect, protect and fulfill the right of the child to life, to maximum development and to the highest attainable standard of health, taking their best interests into account. This requires State parties such as Japan to prevent and minimize avoidable exposure to radiation and other hazardous substances…(and that) Japan should provide full details as to how its policy decisions in relation to the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear accident, including the lifting of evacuation orders and the setting of radiation limits at 20mSv/y, are not in contravention of the guiding principles of the Convention, including the best interests of the child…The combination of the Government’s decision to lift evacuation orders and the prefectural authorities’ decision to cease the provision of housing subsidies, places a large number of self-evacuees under immense pressure to return.”(OHCHRa 2018)

In conclusion, Baskut stated that, “The gradual lifting of evacuation orders has created enormous strains on people whose lives have already been affected by the worst nuclear disaster of this century. Many feel they are being forced to return to areas that are unsafe, including those with radiation levels above what the Government previously considered safe.”

Yet, for the Japanese government there is no acknowledgement that their policies are in violation of the basic human rights their citizens are entitled to have respected. According to Japan’s Foreign Ministry, “Lifting of the evacuation order is a measure to make return possible for those who prefer to return, and not a measure to force evacuees to return…the decision of the evacuees as to whether to return to their original places to live or not is entirely up to them. The GoJ does not force them to return nor put any pressure on them to do so…”(MOFA 2018)

The radiological conditions in Fukushima are highly complex and varied but the Abe government has no intention of explaining this reality in the year of the Olympics. Expect to hear a lot more of the distorted and wholly inaccurate propaganda as stated by Reconstruction Minister Watanabe Hiromichi, when he recently told HBO TV, “With the exception of areas deemed difficult to return we have decontaminated the entire area.”(HBO 2020)

At least seventy percent of Fukushima is mountainous forest, and with the exception of a few meters along roads there has been no decontamination during the past nine years. Perhaps the largest nuclear decontamination program in history has succeeding in generating 16 million tons of nuclear waste soil(Greenpeace 2017), while failing to decontaminate the majority of the contaminated land and exposing tens of thousands of poorly trained workers to radiation (OHCHRb) at a cost of US$28 billion (as of FY2018). The contaminated forests remain a long-term source for radio-cesium, including for downstream migration and recontamination. (Ulrich 2016)

When my colleagues and I at Greenpeace surveyed the J-Village sports complex in October 2019, we were not expecting to find radiation hot spots at over 72 micro-Sieverts per hour – equal to over 1750 times background levels pre 3/11. We notified the Environment Ministry as well as domestic and international Olympic Committees.(Greenpeace 2019a) Although, Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO) was ordered to remove this contamination in early December (TEPCO 2019), two weeks later we still measured hotspots in the public areas of J-Village.(Greenpeace 2019b) The chosen location for the start of the Olympic Torch route, the J-Village, lies 20km south of Fukushima Daiichi and in an area considered to have relatively low contamination. From our observations, decontamination has been conducted in this area during the last nine years – yet there are levels of radiation that would be declared an emergency requiring urgent action if inside a nuclear facility. They have yet to be explained by the government. This clearly does not match with Minister Watanabe’s claim that “we have decontaminated the entire area”, but just as legal obligations to uphold the domestic and international human rights of their citizens are of little concern to the Tokyo government, the radioactive reality of Fukushima can be airbrushed out of existence. The Olympics as seen by Abe provide the perfect platform to advance further its Fukushima nuclear disaster disinformation campaign on the people of Japan and beyond.

The underlying motive for Abe’s Fukushima Olympic strategy is to promote a nuclear renaissance. He and many of his colleagues in the Liberal Democratic Party are nostalgic for the pre-3/11 situation when commercial reactors generated nearly 30 percent of the nation’s electricity.(Schneider 2019) Compared to 2011, when 54 reactors were available, today only nine reactors have returned to operation (with three of these shutdown due to maintenance and legal challenges), and the industry remains in crisis. Despite passing some of the nuclear regulator safety requirements, (McCurry 2017) TEPCO’s prospects for restarting two of its reactors at the Kashiwazaki-Kariwa nuclear plant remain uncertain. The majority of the citizens of Niigata prefecture, which hosts the seven reactor site, remain strongly opposed to any operations, not least due to the major seismic risks to the safety of the reactors.(Ryall 2017) The causes and consequences of the Fukushima nuclear disaster have been a major factor in framing the thinking of Niigata citizens and this extends throughout Japan where utilities are struggling to restart reactors. The triple reactor meltdown really was a defining moment for public opinion regarding nuclear energy in Japan. Resetting this mindset for Abe, by pretending conditions in Fukushima have returned to normal and welcoming the world’s elite athletes to the largest sporting event on the planet is one way to blot out images of explosions sending radioactive plumes spewing from damaged reactors, abandoned towns and hazmat suits. In the short-term Fukushima will receive a positive makeover this summer, but a resumption of large- scale nuclear generation in Japan remains unlikely. The industry is aiming to operate 30-35 reactors by 2030, but a combination of unresolvable safety issues, legal challenges, an aging reactor fleet, and the dire financials of utilities will block this scenario. (Burnie 2016, Mainichi 2020, Schneider 2019, Nikkei 2020). In this sense, Abe’s strategy is doomed to failure and there is no sign that the Japanese public can be persuaded to support nuclear energy. Meanwhile, the human rights violations of tens of thousands of evacuees and decontamination workers will continue.



Burnie, Shaun, 2016. TEPCO Prosecution: A Sign That Japan’s Nuclear Industry Is in Free Fall”, The Diplomat, 4 March 2016.

Greenpeace, 2017. Nuclear Waste Crisis In Fukushima Decontamination Program”, December 2017.

Greenpeace, 2019a. High levels of radiation observed at J-Village in Fukushima Prefecture”, Letter to Mr. Shinjiro Koizumi Minister Ministry of the Environment Government of Japan, 18 November.

Greenpeace, 2019b. J-Village still contaminated – major uncertainties over decontamination and Olympic torch route”, 17 December.

HBO, Fukushima” Real Sports 274, January 2020.

The Lancet, 2015. Ionizing radiation and risk of death from leukemia and lymphoma in radiation- monitored workers (INWORKS): an international cohort study”, Klervi Leuraud, David B Richardson, Elisabeth Cardis, Robert D Daniels, Michael Gillies, Jacqueline A O’Hagan, Ghassan B Hamra, Richard Haylock, Dominique Laurier, Monika Moissonnier, Mary K Schubauer-Berigan, Isabelle Thierry-Chef, Ausrele Kesminiene, National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) Public Health England’s Centre for Radiation, Chemical and Environmental Hazards (PHE-CRCE), University of North Carolina (UNC), Center for Research in Environmental Epidemiology (CREAL), Drexel University – School of Public Health, Pompeu Fabra University (UPF), CIBER- BBN, IRSN laboratory Ionizing Radiation Epidemiology Laboratory (LEPID), Lancet Haematol, 22 June.

Mainichi Shimbun, 2020. Plaintiffs, supporters rejoice over court’s decision to suspend Ehime nuclear reactor”, Misa Koyama and Akari Terouchi, Hiroshima Bureau, and Yongho Lee, Fukuyama Bureau, 18 January 2020.

McCurry, Justin, 2017. Fukushima operator can restart nuclear reactors at world’s biggest plant”, The Guardian, 4 October 2017.

Ministry of Foreign Affairs, 2018. “Response from the Government of Japan to the Joint Communication by the United Nations Human Rights Council”, MOFA, 6 November.

Nikkei, 2020. “TEPCO lending troubles Japanese banks Climate change risks cannot be ignored”, Jun Watanabe, 14 February.

OHCHR, 2013.Report of the Special Rapporteur on the right of everyone to the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health”, Anand Grover Addendum Mission to Japan (15 – 26 November 2012), A/HRC/23/41/Add.3 Distr.: General 2 May 2013

OHCHR, 2018a, Japan must halt returns to Fukushima, radiation remains a concern, says UN rights expert”, 25 October.

OHCHR, 2018b,Human rights and the protection of workers from exposure to toxic substances.”

Ryall, Julian, 2017.”Japan’s TEPCO nuclear plant restarts fear of new Fukushima” Deutche Welle, 5 October.

Schneider, Mycle, ed., 2019. “World Nuclear Status Report 2019”, 27 September.

TEPCO, 2019. “Decontamination work at vicinity of J-Village”, 4 December.

Ulrich, Kendra, 2016. “Radiation Reloaded: Ecological Impacts of the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Accident 5 years later”, Greenpeace Japan.

March 2, 2020 Posted by | Fukushima 2020 | , , , | Leave a comment

As If Nothing Had Occurred: Anti-Tokyo Olympics Protests and Concern Over Radiation Exposure

March 1, 2020

Akihiro Ogawa

Abstract: This paper argues the 2020 Tokyo Olympics has raised people’s awareness of concerns over radiation exposure as a form of social movement. One example is the Shinjuku demonstration, organized by the Network to Evacuate People from Radiation, which constantly advocates for protecting children from continuing radiation exposure. The group raised the issue that Olympic torch would pass through municipalities in Fukushima Prefecture where several high-level radiation hot spots are confirmed. Furthermore, concerns over radiation exposure have been also generating a grassroots movement to create the Chernobyl Law in Japan. This paper documents the emerging movement across the country, led by the Citizens’ Action for Fukushima Justice.


The Shinjuku Demonstration

Anti-Olympic sentiment has been embedded in the ongoing anti-nuclear movements, particularly since the announcement that Tokyo won the bid to host the 2020 Summer Olympics in September 2013.

Japanese Prime Minister Abe Shinzo touched on the Fukushima problem in Tokyo’s final presentation for the Olympic bid in Buenos Aires, asserting that the government would never put Tokyo in harm’s way, stating, “[s]ome may have concerns about Fukushima. Let me assure you, the situation is under control. It has never done and will never do any damage to Tokyo” (Kantei 2013).

The Japanese government pressed home the message of using the Olympics as a force in its reconstruction efforts from the March 11 disaster.

“The Olympics preparations are proceeding as if nothing had occurred,” said Okada Toshiko, one of the leaders of the Shinjuku Demo. The rally has been organized by the Network to Evacuate People from Radiation (Datsu hibaku jitsugen netto) – a loose citizens’ network calling attention to potential radiation exposure.

Okada told me that “the Friday Demonstrations in Kantei-mae in front of the Prime Minister’s Office are only focused on one issue – objection to restarting nuclear power plants, continuously shouting ‘Don’t re-start nuclear power plants.’ That is important. However, I wanted to get more attention about protecting children from continuing radiation exposure.”

She added, “I am not protesting the Olympics itself. I am objecting to hosting the Olympics while hiding such radiation exposure.”

The Shinjuku Demonstration was initiated by members who supported the Fukushima Collective Evacuation Trial (Fukushima shūdan sokai saiban), which sued for the evacuation of children from Koriyama city, which had been deemed safe for habitation. On June 24, 2011, just three months after the March 11 disaster, 14 children at elementary schools and junior-high schools filed a lawsuit against Koriyama city, resorting to a court of law and demanding their right to study in a safe environment. The suit was filed against the city seeking an injunction against compulsory education activities in a radiation-contaminated environment of over 1 millisieverts (mSv) per year. The Koriyama Branch of the Fukushima District Court, however, dismissed the case on December 16, 2011. As this decision was completely unacceptable, the plaintiffs (the representatives of the 14 children) filed a formal objection at the end of 2011 before the Sendai High Court. On April 24, 2013, the Sendai High Court ruled to reject an appeal. The plaintiffs’ lawsuit argued that Koriyama city had the legal responsibility to evacuate the elementary- and junior-high-school students. Meanwhile, the court acknowledged that radiation in Koriyama city exceeded levels deemed safe prior to the disaster, but that the government shouldered no responsibility for evacuating the schools as demanded, in effect, telling people to leave at their own discretion if they were worried. However, voluntary evacuees from outside the evacuation area were not statistically classified as evacuees and were not covered by the victim support system.

The Network to Evacuate People from Radiation organized the first demonstration in February 2013 in Shinjuku and has repeated it twice a year since then. At the 13th rally, on November 9, 2019, demonstrators once again declared their concern regarding radiation exposure. The main message of the demonstration flyer (see Figure 1) is that the demonstrators will not allow the government to act as if no severe nuclear accident had occurred, and that there are ineradicable realities and violations of human rights caused by the Fukushima disaster.


Ogawa1Figure 1: Flyer for Shinjuku Demo on November 9, 2019

© Network to Evacuate People from Radiation (Datsu hibaku jitsugen netto) and Tetsuya Chiba

One participant protesting against the upcoming Tokyo Olympics, claimed that it was horrible that according to the current plan, the Olympic torch will pass through municipalities on the national route 6, that were heavily affected by the March 11 disaster. Those are areas in which several high-level radiation hot spots are confirmed and are designated as difficult-to-return zones (kikan konnan kuiki) by the national government. When passing through the area, cars are not even allowed to open the windows. She pointed out that despite this, the torch relay will be run by local junior and senior high school students. Furthermore, she objected to an optimistic comment aired by the state-run NHK television that people living near national route 6 wanted the world to know about Fukushima’s recovery as the children run the torch relay.

In late June 2019, I visited Hamadori, the coastal area in eastern Fukushima Prefecture where the torch relay is planned. I dropped by J-Village, a soccer-training center used as an emergency response hub for Fukushima plant workers. It was fully reopened on April 20, 2019 for the first time in eight years. This place will be the starting point for the relay on March 26, 2020 that will also pass through Okuma, a host town of the nuclear plant, where the government lifted an evacuation order on April 10, 2019. The lifting of the evacuation order at the stroke of midnight was the first of its kind for a host town of the nuclear plant, which straddles the towns of Okuma and Futaba. Meanwhile, Fukushima city, which is just 50 kms away from the ruins of the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant, will host Olympic baseball and softball competitions.

I had the impression that the area was far from recovery, however. The radiation dosimeter in the parking lot at J-Village read 0.120 microsieverts (µSv) per hour (see Figure 2). This figure was indeed under 0.23 µSv per hour, the official Japanese government’s decontamination threshold. However, during my fieldwork, I found that people do not trust the measurement, saying that the official measurements need to be treated with caution since the authorities have a vested interest in downplaying radiation dose levels. In fact, in December 2019, Greenpeace Japan revealed that the radiation levels around J-Village Stadium were as high as 71 µSv per hour at surface level. This is 1,775 times higher than the 0.04 µSv per hour prior to the Fukushima Daiichi triple reactor meltdown in 2011. These facts had never been released by the government (Greenpeace 2019).


Ogawa2Figure 2: Radiation dosimeter at J-Village, a photo taken by the author, June 24, 2019

Greenpeace Japan sent a letter to Japan’s Environmental Minister Koizumi Shinjiro, demanding immediate decontamination measures and an assurance that the public will not be exposed to radiation hot spots during the Olympics and Paralympics events at J-Village. At about the same time, the International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War (IPPNW) Germany (IPPNW Germany 2019), issued a statement on the radiation risk, arguing that the Olympic Games should not be used to distract from the fate of the people affected by the reactor meltdown but rather to make sure their needs, worries, and demands are properly addressed. They are trying to do just that with their campaign “Tokyo 2020 – The Radioactive Olympics.” Dr. Alex Rosen, chairman of the German IPPNW, explained in the press release: “We are concerned about the health consequences of radioactive contamination, especially for people with increased vulnerability toward radiation, such as pregnant women and children.” (IPPNW European Affiliates 2019)


Toward Creating a “Chernobyl Law” in Japan

Social movements in Japan have entered a new phase since 2011 following the March 11 disaster (Ogawa 2013, 2014, 2016, 2018, forthcoming [2020a]). Social movements are change-orientated political formations, and I have been also observing that people are becoming more strategic in their efforts to drive social change. Instead of just protesting the government’s nuclear policy, or demanding that the government abandon nuclear power plants, ordinary citizens are taking specific actions to change their lives. One example is a grassroots initiative across Japan constructing renewable energy or mostly solar panels as it is relatively easy to set up the panels (see Ogawa forthcoming [2020b]). People have started building self-sufficient, sustainable lives by their own efforts.

I have also observed another initiative to make change, a social movement organized by the Citizens’ Action for Fukushima Justice, in co-ordination with the Network to Evacuate People from Radiation. Citizens who are concerned about radiation exposure have focused their efforts on the eventual creation of a Japanese version of the “Chernobyl Law.” The Chernobyl Law was promulgated in 1991, five years after the Chernobyl nuclear disaster, by three republics of the former Soviet Union – Ukraine, Russia, and Belarus – to help the people affected by the 1986 Chernobyl nuclear disaster. It was aimed at protecting the lives and health of citizens affected by radiation exposure, and indeed was the first law in the world that explicitly covered the universal human right to life of people affected by a radiation disaster. This law guaranteed the right to evacuation for the residents living in the areas contaminated by radiation, while providing social security to the people living in the areas to which the evacuation orders were issued. Under the Chernobyl Law, areas in which the amount of contamination is more than 1 millisievert per year were designated as areas covered by the right of relocation. It included help with finding a job, accommodation, medical treatment, and securing food supplies. Meanwhile, the Japanese government raised the dose limit for radiation exposure from 1 millisievert to 20 millisievert per year after the Fukushima disaster on April 19, 2011 (MEXT 2011), and the government still maintains the same standard.

Yanagihara Toshio, a lawyer who previously represented the plaintiffs at the Fukushima Collective Evacuation Trial, has been leading this Japanese effort to enact the “Chernobyl Law in Japan.” Yanagihara told me that the Tokyo Olympics would be a great chance to raise awareness of concerns over radiation exposure. He even expects that pressures or criticism over radiation exposure by foreign countries might be effective in Japan. “The Tokyo Olympics would be a stepping-stone where everyone realizes the necessity of the Chernobyl Law in Japan, as the Seoul Olympics paved the way to building democracy in South Korea.”

As the first step to institutionalize the Chernobyl Law in Japan, Yanagihara and other members proposed the creation of a series of local ordinances on the rights to evacuation across the country. He refers to the previous experience of grassroots support for the national Information Disclosure Law. This law was a product of the cumulative efforts made by the citizens across the country – they requested their municipal and prefectural governments to create a local ordinance on information disclosure, members of the councils discussed the request, and then enacted the local ordinances promoting freedom of information. Originally, this started in 1982 in Kanayama-machi, a small rural town in Yamagata Prefecture, and then spread in 1983 to Saitama and Kanagawa Prefectures. Other prefectures and municipalities soon followed suit. This citizens’ movement eventually led to the promulgation of the Information Disclosure Law at the national level in 1999 that was enacted in April 2001.

The Citizens’ Action for Fukushima Justice prepared the template for a draft proposal of a local ordinance, which people can use as a model.

Chernobyl Law in Japan (excerpt)

Preamble: The State cannot escape liability unconditionally for a radiological disaster.
The State assumes responsibility not only for compensating for the damage suffered by the radiation disaster but also for fulfilling people’s right to relocation. As a result, due to the enforcement of this ordinance, we claim that the expenses expended by the municipality of [subject to insert the name here] should originally be borne by the government, and the government has a duty to amend the law.

Article 1 (Purpose): The purpose is to protect the lives, health, and livelihood of citizens from nuclear accidents and radiation disasters.

Article 2 (Principal): The municipality of [subject to insert the name here] guarantees the right of relocation, the right to evacuation, and the right to sound health of the victims of the nuclear accident.

Article 5 (Consideration for vulnerable people): Care must be taken to protect the lives and health of radiologically sensitive fetuses and children.

Article 8 (Classification of radioactively contaminated areas): Areas with an annual additional exposure of 0.5 msv/year or more are defined as areas with enhanced radiation management. Areas with an annual additional exposure of 1 msv/year or more are designated as relocation-rights areas.

Article 11 (Right to choose relocation): If people in a contaminated area chose to relocate or evacuate, the rights guaranteed these residents by the municipality include payment of moving expenses, housing compensation, and employment support at the relocation destination; loss compensation for real estate, household goods, and products (including marine products) from the original relocation source; free medical supplies, 70% coverage of medical examination and recuperation expenses, issuance of a victim’s notebook, and pension benefits.

Article 12 (Right to choose to remain): If people choose to remain and not evacuate, the municipality guarantees free medical treatment, free medical supplies, 70% coverage of medical examinations and recuperation expenses, compensation for loss of contaminated products (including seafood), issuance of a victim’s notebook, and pension benefits. The article also requires the municipality to establish a radioactive food control section to inspect radioactive food and tap water for contamination in order to prevent unnecessary radiation exposure.

Some local initiatives calling for the creation of a Japanese Chernobyl Law have actually started. Ise city, Mie Prefecture in central Japan, was the first city to take such a step. Ueno Masami, director of the Fukushima-Iseshima Association (, an NPO group supporting recuperation for children from Fukushima, put out a call for co-operation on July 8, 2017 on the group’s website to enact a Japanese Chernobyl Law. The call was originally in Japanese, and an English version is available here on their website.

Ueno and her group campaigned for a local ordinance that protects the health and safety of people from radiation exposure. In August 2019, the group started taking action and they got approval from the mayor of Ise city to bring the issue to the council. However, in order to make it actually happen, the group needed to increase the number of municipal council members who agree or collect a certain number of signatures (or 1/50th of the municipal population of 18+ years) in a designated period (one month) to bring the agenda to the municipal assembly to formally discuss. The group chose the latter method, but only collected 64 percent of the required numbers during the one-month period and their bid was not successful. This seemed primarily due to insufficient preparation, and the group did not get enough attention. Undeterred, they will begin collecting signatures again in March 2020.

As of January 2020, discussions have also started in some local municipalities such as Chofu (Tokyo), Koriyama (Fukushima), and Kiyose (Tokyo). As we come closer to the date of the Tokyo Olympics, we need to keep an eye on the developments in these municipalities regarding local campaigns for a Japanese Chernobyl Law. Updates will be available at the Citizens’ Action for Fukushima Justice website.





Greenpeace Japan 2019. High-level radiation hot spots found at J-Village, the starting point of Tokyo 2020 Olympic Torch Relay. Last accessed on January 28, 2020

IPPNW Germany. 2019. Doctors’ prescription for the Tokyo Olympics. Last accessed on January 28, 2020

IPPNW European Affiliates. 2019. Tokyo 2020 – The Radioactive Olympics. Last accessed on January 28, 2020

Kantei (Prime Minister’s Office of Japan) 2013. A Script of Prime Minister Abe’s September 2013 Speech to the International Olympic Committee in Buenos Aires. Last accessed on January 28, 2020

Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology (MEXT). 2011. 福島県内の学校の校舎・校庭等の利用判断における暫定的考え方について [On a provisional idea about the usage of school buildings and grounds in Fukushima Prefecture]. Last accessed on January 28, 2020

Ogawa, Akihiro. 2013. Young Precariat at the Forefront: Anti-Nuclear Rallies in Post-Fukushima Japan. Inter-Asia Cultural Studies 14(2): 317–326.

Ogawa, Akihiro. 2014. The Right to Evacuation: The Self-Determined Future of Post-Fukushima Japan. Inter-Asia Cultural Studies 15(4): 648–658.

Ogawa, Akihiro. 2016. Japan’s Awakening Protest Movement. Invited article by the Asian Studies Association of Australia.

Ogawa, Akihiro. 2018. Security Paradigms and Social Movements: The Changing Nature of Japanese Peace Activism. Asian Journal of Social Science 46(6): 725–747

Ogawa, Akihiro. Forthcoming [2020a]. フクシマ発で核を考える:国境を越えて連帯する「反核世界社会フォーラム」. 後藤康夫, 後藤宣代編 『21世紀の新しい社会運動とフクシマ 』東京:八朔社 [Thinking about the nuclear from Fukushima: anti-nuclear world social forums which connect people beyond national boarders. In New social movements in the 21st Century and Fukushima, Yasuo Goto and Nobuyo Goto, eds. Tokyo: Hassakusha]

Ogawa, Akihiro. Forthcoming [2020b]. “Community Power”: Renewable Energy Policy and Production in Post Fukushima Japan. In New Frontiers in Japanese Studies. Akihiro Ogawa and Philip Seaton, eds. London; New York: Routledge.

March 2, 2020 Posted by | Fukushima 2020 | , , | Leave a comment

The Fukushima Nuclear Disaster and the Tokyo Olympics


March 1, 2020

Koide Hiroaki

Translation, with notes and references, by Norma Field

Abstract: The Olympic games have always been used to display national might. In recent years, they have become tools for businesses, especially construction companies, which create, and then destroy, large public structures, leading to a colossally wasteful society from which they derive stupendous profit. What is important now is to give relief to those who continue to suffer from the Fukushima nuclear disaster, and at the very least, to protect children, who are blameless, from exposure. Casting sidelong glances at the vast numbers of victims, the perpetrators, including TEPCO, government officials, scholars, and the media, have utterly failed to take responsibility.


What was the Fukushima Nuclear Accident?

On March 11, 20011, the Tokyo Electric Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant was assaulted by a severe earthquake and tsunami, leading to a total power outage. Experts had been agreed that total outage would be the likeliest cause of a catastrophic incident. And just as anticipated, the reactors of the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant suffered meltdowns and released enormous quantities of radioactive materials into the surrounding environment. According to the report submitted by the Japanese government to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), this accident released 1.5×1016 becquerels (Bq) of cesium 137 into the atmosphere—the equivalent of 168 Hiroshima bombs. One Hiroshima bomb’s worth of radioactivity is already terrifying, but we have the Japanese government acknowledging that the Fukushima disaster released 168 times the radioactivity of that explosion into the atmosphere (Japanese Government, 2011; METI, 2011; UNSCEAR, 2000).

The cores of reactors 1, 2, and 3 melted down. The amount of cesium 137 contained in those cores adds up to 7×1017 Bq, or 8000 Hiroshima bombs’ worth. Of that total, the amount released into the atmosphere was the equivalent of 168 bombs, and combined with releases into the sea, the total release of cesium 137 into the environment to date must be approximately equivalent to 1000 Hiroshima bombs. In other words, most of the radioactive material in those cores remains in the damaged reactor buildings. If the cores were to melt any further, there would be more releases into the environment. It is in order to prevent this that even now, nearly 8 years after the accident, water continues to be aimed by guesswork in the direction where the cores might be located. And because of this, several hundred tons of contaminated waste water are accumulating each day. Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO) has constructed over 1000 tanks on site to store this water, but the total volume now exceeds one million tons. Space is limited, and there is a limit as well to the number of tanks that can be constructed. TEPCO will be compelled to release these waters into the sea in the near future.


Obstacles to containing the disaster

Of course, the greatest priority is to secure the melted cores in as safe a condition as possible, but even with the passage of nearly eight years, neither their location nor their condition has been ascertained.1 The reason is that it is impossible to access those sites. Had this accident occurred at a thermal power plant, the problem would have been simple. In the beginning, there might have been fires burning over several days, but once they died down, it would have been possible to go to the site, investigate, repair, and restart operations. But in the case of a nuclear power plant, anyone approaching the site would die. The government and TEPCO have attempted to send in robots, but robots do not stand up well to radiation. The reason is that once their microchips are exposed, their programs get rewritten. Accordingly, almost all the robots sent in to date have failed to return.

Toward the end of January 2017, TEPCO inserted a device resembling a remote-controlled endoscope into the concrete platform (pedestal) under the reactor pressure vessel. A large hole that had opened up in the steel scaffolding used by workers during maintenance, located directly under the pressure vessel, made it possible to ascertain the following: the fuel core had melted through the pressure vessel and fallen further down. The investigation yielded something even more important, however. For human beings, exposure to 8 sieverts (Sv) will result in certain death. The area directly under the pressure vessel measured 20 Sv/hour, but along the way, levels as high as 530 or 650 Sv were detected. These measurements, moreover, were found not inside the cylindrical pedestal, but between the wall of the pedestal and the wall of the containment structure. TEPCO and the government had scripted a scenario wherein most of the melted core had been deposited, dumpling-like, inside the pedestal, to be retrieved and sealed inside a containment structure in the course of 30-40 years. According to this scenario, the conclusion of this process would signify the achievement of containment. In reality, however, the melted nuclear fuel had flowed out of the pedestal and scattered all around. Forced to rewrite their “roadmap,” the government and TEPCO began talking about making an opening on the side of the containment structure through which the melted fuel could be grasped and removed. That, however, is an impossibility. It would entail severe worker exposure.

From the beginning, I have maintained that the only option is to construct a sarcophagus, as was done at the Chernobyl site in the former Soviet Union. That sarcophagus deteriorated to such an extent in 30 years’ time as to require coverage by a second sarcophagus, put in place in November 2016. The second sarcophagus is expected to last for 100 years. We do not yet know what measures will be available at that point. No one who is alive today can expect to see the containment of the Chernobyl disaster. All the more so in the case of Fukushima: the containment of this disaster will not have been achieved even after all who are alive today have died. Moreover, even if it were hypothetically possible to seal the molten core inside the containment structure, that will not mean that the radioactivity will have vanished. Indeed, it would be necessary to protect any such structure for hundreds of thousands to a million years.


Declaration of a Nuclear Emergency: The human consequences

Tragedy continues to unfold in the environs of the plant. On the day of the disaster, the government issued a Declaration of a Nuclear Emergency, and mandatory evacuation zones were expanded, beginning at 3 kilometers from the plant, then 10, then 20. Residents in those areas had to leave their homes, taking only what they could carry. Livestock and pets were abandoned. That is not all. Iitate Village, located 40-50 kilometers away from Fukushima Daiichi, received no warnings or instructions immediately after the accident, but one month later, on the grounds of extreme contamination, the entire village was ordered to evacuate.

What do we mean when we talk about happiness? For many people, happiness likely supposes uneventful days, one unfolding after the other, in the company of family, friends, neighbors, lovers. This is what was ruptured, one day, without warning. Evacuees first went to centers, such as gymnasiums, then to cramped temporary housing, then to “reconstruction” housing or public housing temporarily “declared” to be evacuee quarters. Family members with shared lives until then were scattered apart. Their livelihood destroyed, people have been taking their own lives out of despair.

This is not all. Even outside the mandatory evacuation zones, there emerged vast contaminated areas that by all rights should have been designated “radiation control zones.” These are areas where only radiation workers, those who earn their living by handling radiation, are permitted entry. And even those workers, once they enter a control zone, are not permitted to drink water or eat food. Naturally, it is forbidden to sleep. There are no toilets. The government, on the grounds that an emergency situation prevails, has scrapped the usual regulations and abandoned several million people to live in contaminated areas. These people, including infants, drink the water, eat, and sleep in those areas. They have of course been burdened with the risks associated with exposure. And thus abandoned, they are all surely subject to anxiety. Some, seeking to avoid exposure, gave up their jobs and evacuated with their entire families. Others, wishing to protect at least their children from exposure, have split up, with fathers staying behind to pursue their jobs in contaminated areas and mothers leaving with their children. But this has damaged household stability and wrecked family relationships. Staying in contaminated areas hurts the body, but evacuation crushes the soul. These abandoned people have been living in anguish every day for nearly eight years.

On top of this, in March of 2017, the government instructed those it had once ordered to leave, or those who had left of their own volition, to return to those contaminated areas so long as the radiation levels did not exceed 20 millisieverts/year (mSv). The housing assistance it had offered these people, however unsatisfactory, was terminated. This has inevitably meant that some people are forced to return. In Fukushima today, reconstruction is considered the highest priority. If people feel no choice but to live there, then of course, reconstruction becomes desirable. They cannot tolerate living in fear day after day. They would like to forget about the contamination, and fortunately or not, radioactivity is invisible. The central and local governments take active measures to make them forget. Anyone voicing concern or referring to contamination is subject to criticism: they are obstructing reconstruction.

20 mSv per year is the level of exposure permitted only for radiation workers, such as I once was. It is hard to forgive the fact that this level is now being imposed on people who derive no benefit from exposure. Moreover, infants and children, who are especially sensitive to radiation, have no responsibility for the recklessness of Japanese nuclear policy, let alone for the Fukushima disaster. It is not permissible to apply occupational levels of exposure to them. The government of Japan, however, says nothing can be done given the Declaration of a Nuclear Emergency. We can understand an emergency lasting for one day, a whole week, one month, or depending on the circumstances, even for one year. But in fact, the Declaration of a Nuclear Emergency has not been rescinded even after nearly eight years have passed. The government is eager to make people forget about the Fukushima disaster. Media have fallen silent. Most Japanese have been driven to forget that conditions are such that make it impossible to rescind the Declaration even while the regulations that should prevail have been scrapped. The principal culprit in radioactive contamination is cesium 137, with a half-life of 30 years. Even after the passage of 100 years, it will have diminished by only one-tenth. In point of fact, even after 100 years, Japan will be in a state of nuclear emergency.


The Olympic games in a state of nuclear emergency and the crimes of the Japanese nation

The Olympic games have always been used to display national might. In recent years, they have become tools for businesses, especially construction companies, which create, and then destroy, large public structures, leading to a colossally wasteful society from which they derive stupendous profit. What is important now is for the state to mobilize all its resources so that the Declaration of a Nuclear Emergency can be rescinded as soon as possible. The priority should be to give relief to those who continue to suffer from the Fukushima nuclear disaster, and at the very least, to protect children, who are blameless, from exposure. The greater the risks facing a society, the more those in power seek to avert peoples’ eyes. The mass media will try to whip up Olympic fever, and there will come a time when those who oppose the Olympics will be denounced as traitors. So it was during World War II: the media broadcast only the proclamations from Imperial Headquarters, and virtually all citizens cooperated in the war effort. The more you thought yourself an upstanding Japanese, the more likely you were to condemn your fellow citizens as traitors. If, however, this is a country that chooses to prioritize the Olympic games over the blameless citizens it has abandoned, then I shall gladly become a traitor.

The Fukushima disaster will proceed in 100-year increments, freighted with enormous tragedies. Casting sidelong glances at the vast numbers of victims, the perpetrators, including TEPCO, government officials, scholars, and the media, have utterly failed to take responsibility. Not a single one has been punished.2 Taking advantage of this, they are trying to restart the reactors that are currently stopped and to export them overseas. The Tokyo Olympics will take place in a state of nuclear emergency. Those countries and people who participate will, on the one hand, themselves risk exposure, and, on the other, become accomplices to the crimes of this nation.


23 August 2018




Japanese Government. (2011). “Discharge of Radioactive Materials to the Environment,” Report of the Japanese Government to the IAEA Ministerial Conference on Nuclear Safety: The Accident at TEPCO’s Fukushima Nuclear Power Stations. June.

Johnson, D.T., Fukurai, Hiroshi, & Hirayama, M. (2020). “Reflections on the TEPCO Trial: Prosecution and Acquittal after Japan’s Nuclear Meltdown.” The Asia-Pacific Journal: Japan Focus. June 15.

METI (Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry, 2011). “News Release: Tokyo Denryoku Kabushikigaisha Fukushima Daiichi Genshiryoku Hatsudensho oyobi Hiroshima ni tōka sareta genshibakudan kara hōshutsu sareta hōshaseibusshitsu ni kansuru shisan ni tsuite”[On the estimates of radioactive materials discharged by Tokyo Electric Power Company’s Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station and the atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima]; “Kaiseki de taishō to shita kikan de no taikichū e no hōshaseibusshitsu no hōshutsuryō no shisanchi (Bq)” [Estimates derived by calculation for radioactive materials discharged into the atmosphere during the period in question], “Hiroshima gembaku de no taikichū e no hōshaseibusshitsu no hōshutsuryō no shisanchi (Bq)” [Estimates of radioactive materials discharged into the atmosphere by the Hiroshima atomic bomb (Bq)]. August 26.

New York Times. (2019). “Fukushima Nuclear Disaster Trial Ends with Acquittals of 3 Executives.” September 19.

UNSCEAR (United Nations Scientific Committee on the Effects of Atomic Radiation, 2000). Annex C, “Exposures to the Public from Man-made Sources of Radiation,” Sources and Effects of Ionizing Radiation.

World Nuclear News. (2019). “Tepco makes contact with melted fuel in Unit 2.” February 13.



On February 13, 2019, TEPCO released photos showing first contact with melted fuel debris in unit 2 (World Nuclear News, 2019).


There are currently more than 30 civil cases winding their way through the courts, but only one criminal proceeding in Tokyo District Court, with three former TEPCO executives as defendants, charged with professional negligence resulting in death and injury. All three were acquitted on September 19, 2019 (New York Times, 2019; Johnson et al., 2020). The decision has been appealed.

March 2, 2020 Posted by | Fukushima 2020 | , | Leave a comment

Poll: 57% oppose dumping water into ocean from Fukushima plant

ijolmpTanks storing contaminated water occupy the site of the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant in Okuma, Fukushima Prefecture, in August 2019.

February 28, 2020

Fifty-seven percent of respondents to a poll in Fukushima Prefecture say they oppose the government’s plan to release tons of contaminated water from the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant into the ocean.

In the survey, conducted by The Asahi Shimbun and Fukushima Broadcasting Co. on Feb. 22-23, 31 percent supported the plan.

About 1.2 million tons of water contaminated with radioactive substances are in storage tanks at the crippled plant, operated by Tokyo Electric Power Co.

The government plans to remove most of the radioactive substances from the water and release the diluted portion into the ocean.

Among male respondents, 35 percent said they support the plan, compared to 26 percent of female respondents who also agreed.

Respondents who are in their 40s are most likely to support the plan, as 41 percent back the plan.

However, more respondents opposed the plan in every age group.

Asked about damage caused by harmful rumors surrounding the release of the contaminated water, 89 percent of the respondents said they were “very much” or “somewhat” concerned.

Even among those who supported the plan, 79 percent said they were worried about the possible damage.

Only 23 percent said they approved of the central government and TEPCO’s handling of the contaminated water problem. That was up from 14 percent in last year’s survey.

Still, 57 percent of the respondents said they did not approve of the handling of the contaminated water.

The government has committed to disposing of waste substances, including contaminated soil removed in the decontamination work, within 30 years and locating a final waste disposal site outside of Fukushima Prefecture.

We will do our best to keep the promise,” Environment Minister Shinjiro Koizumi has pledged.

Asked if the promise will be kept, 80 percent of the respondents said they did not think so “at all” or “very much.”

Only 17 percent said they thought the government will keep the promise “very much” or “somewhat.”

Fukushima Prefecture will be the starting point of the months-long nationwide torch relay for the 2020 Tokyo Games.

Asked if the relay will contribute to showing the public the current state of the disaster-stricken area, 41 percent said it would, while 51 percent said it would not.

In other questions, 69 percent opposed resuming operations of nuclear power plants that have been idle since the Fukushima nuclear accident, while 11 percent supported it.

In a nationwide survey conducted by The Asahi Shimbun on Feb. 15 and 16, 56 percent opposed the resumption, while 29 percent supported it.

The two media companies have conducted a phone survey of eligible voters in Fukushima Prefecture since the 2011 Great East Japan earthquake, tsunami and nuclear disaster. The recent survey was the 10th. 

Landline phone numbers were randomly selected by computer and then called by survey staff. Of these, 1,883 belonged to eligible voters. The survey received a total of 1,035 effective responses with the response rate at 55 percent.

March 2, 2020 Posted by | Fukushima 2020 | , , | 1 Comment

IAEA chief says Fukushima water release plan meets global standards

n-fukushima-a-20200228-870x579IAEA Director General Rafael Grossi inspects the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant on Wednesday.

February 27, 2020

OKUMA, FUKUSHIMA PREF. – The head of the International Atomic Energy Agency said Wednesday that Japan’s plan to release radioactive water from the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant into the environment meets global standards for the industry.

The comment by IAEA Director General Rafael Grossi, made during a tour of the facility that was devastated by the powerful earthquake and tsunami in 2011, comes amid strong opposition to the plan from local fishermen and neighboring South Korea.

Whatever way forward must be based on a scientific process, a process which is based on a scientifically based and proven methodology,” Grossi told reporters after the tour.

It is obvious that any methodology can be criticized. What we are saying from a technical point of view is that this process is in line with international practice,” he said.

This is a common way to release water at nuclear power plants across the globe, even when they are not in emergency situations, he said.

The government and Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings Inc., the operator of the crippled complex, are considering ways to safely dispose of the more than 1 million tons of water contaminated with radioactive materials after being used to cool the melted fuel cores at the plant, which straddles the towns of Okuma and Futaba.

The water, which is increasing at a pace of about 170 tons a day, is being treated using an advanced liquid processing system (ALPS) to remove most contaminants other than the relatively nontoxic tritium. The water is being stored in tanks on the facility’s premises but space is expected to run out by summer 2022.

Methods being discussed include releasing the water into the Pacific Ocean or allowing it to evaporate, both of which the government says will have minimal effect on human health.

But local fishermen have voiced strong opposition to such plans for fear that Japanese consumers would shun seafood caught nearby. South Korea, which currently bans imports of seafood from the area, has also repeatedly voiced concerns about the environmental impact.

Grossi, an Argentine diplomat who succeeded the late Yukiya Amano as IAEA director general in December, said the Vienna-based organization is prepared to help put the international community at ease.

What the IAEA can do, at the request of Japan, is to provide support, advice when the process starts. This can take different forms, for example we can assist in the monitoring of the water previous to its controlled release into the environment,” Grossi said.

In a speech to Tepco employees at the plant, Grossi voiced appreciation for their hard work on the decommissioning process, which is scheduled to end 30 to 40 years after the disaster.

It’s a job of decommissioning but it’s (also) a job of reconstruction,” he said.

Grossi, who is on a five-day trip to Japan, also met with Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and Foreign Minister Toshimitsu Motegi on Tuesday.

On Thursday, Grossi told reporters in Tokyo that Japan should be flexible on its timeline for removing melted fuel from the wreckage of the Fukushima plant, with safety being the top priority.

The government and Tepco currently plan to begin extracting the highly radioactive debris by the end of 2021, though the process is expected to be fraught with technical challenges.

The issue of the timing is always important … but it’s not a race against time. It is a race, I would say, more against safety. And more safety, this is what is very important,” he said.

March 2, 2020 Posted by | Fukushima 2020 | , , , | Leave a comment

Japan to close temporary all schools nationwide to control spread of virus

hkjkmùPrime Minister Shinzo Abe announces the government’s plan to ask all schools in Japan to cancel classes from March 2 until spring break amid the spread of the new coronavirus in the country, during a meeting of the coronavirus task force headquarters at the prime minister’s office in Tokyo, on Feb. 27, 2020.

Abe asks all schools in Japan to temporarily close over coronavirus

February 27, 2020

TOKYO (Kyodo) — Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said Thursday the government will request all elementary, junior high and high schools in Japan to close from Monday until the end of a spring break through early April amid concern over the spread of the new coronavirus.

In a meeting of a government task force to fight the virus, Abe cited “children’s health and safety” as the top priority and said the measure, which also includes schools for special needs education across Japan, is intended to better cope with a risk of infection to be generated by students and teachers spending long hours together.

Abe also asked schools to take the best possible steps to prevent infection, such as minimizing the number of participants, if they are to hold entrance exams and graduation ceremonies in the coming weeks.

Japan’s school year ends in March and a new academic year typically starts in early April.

Abe announced the measure as opposition parties have stepped up criticism of his administration for not responding quickly enough, with the number of confirmed COVID-19 patients continuing to rise in Japan and the end of the outbreak of the China-originated, pneumonia-causing virus not yet in sight.

The number of confirmed infections in Japan topped 900 on Thursday, including over 700 from the Diamond Princess, a virus-hit cruise ship docked in Yokohama near Tokyo.

Given that schoolchildren are expected to stay home in the coming weeks, Abe requested that government agencies and companies allow workers to take days off so they can spend more time with their families.

Nursery schools will be excluded from the nationwide closure request, according to the Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare.

Abe also instructed the government to “prepare necessary legislation to curb the spread of infections and minimize the impact on the lives of people as well as the economy.”

Meanwhile, some schoolteachers expressed concern about the prime minister’s request as they have to adjust class and event schedules.

“A one-month closure is unheard of and its impact will be significant,” said a teacher at a public elementary school in Tokyo.

“I’m in the middle of discussions with my colleagues on how to determine grades for students and distribute them,” he said.

Abe’s announcement came as a number of schools have already decided to close or scale down their activities.

Earlier Thursday, the Osaka city government said it will temporarily close all city-run elementary and junior high schools, and kindergartens from the following day through March 13 amid the coronavirus outbreak.

It will diminish the scale of graduation ceremonies scheduled during the closure period by limiting the number of participants and shortening program hours as well, according to the most populated city in Japan outside the Tokyo metropolitan area.

“We will conduct a simultaneous shutdown to ensure safety and prevent expansion of infections,” Osaka Mayor Ichiro Matsui said at a meeting with senior city officials.

During the closure, schools will gather information on health conditions of students from parents and report to the education board if they find any concerns.

In Tokyo, Ochanomizu University said the state-run institution will close affiliated kindergarten, elementary school, and junior and senior high schools from Friday for about a month until early April, following a spring break.

Prince Hisahito, the 13-year-old nephew of Emperor Naruhito, attends the junior high school affiliated with the university.

“I believe it’s an unprecedented closure for such an extended period of time,” a university official said.

Similarly, most of the 1,600 elementary and junior high schools on Japan’s northernmost main island of Hokkaido were already closed Thursday for a week.

The action came a day after the Hokkaido board of education urged local authorities to temporarily close all public and private elementary and junior high schools in an effort to contain the spread of the virus.

Machiko Inari, a 40-year-old resident of Hakodate, said she will take a week off to look after her daughter, a fifth-grader, and son, a kindergarten student.

“Although it will affect my work and co-workers, it’s better if it reduces the risk of infection for children as the disease is still relatively unknown,” she said.

jhkjmùùJapan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, center, speaks during a meeting of a task force on the new coronavirus at his official residence in Tokyo Thursday, Feb. 27, 2020. Abe was asking all elementary, middle and high schools to remain shut until spring holidays begin in late March.

Japan to close schools nationwide to control spread of virus

February 27, 2020

TOKYO — Japan will close schools nationwide to help control the spread of the new virus, the government announced Thursday.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe asked all elementary, middle and high schools to remain shut until spring holidays begin in late March.

The measure affects 12.8 million students at 34,847 schools nationwide, the education ministry said.

It does not affect DODEA schools for now, said Todd Schlitz, the DODEA-Pacific chief of staff.

Abe’s announcement came hours after several local governments announced their own decisions to suspend classes.

“The coming week or two is an extremely important time,” Abe said. “This is to prioritize the health and safety of the children and take precautions to avoid the risk of possible large-scale infections for many children and teachers who gather and spend hours together every day.”

The decision comes amid growing concern about the rise in the number of untraceable cases of the virus in northern Japan and elsewhere. Japan now has more than 890 cases, including 705 from a quarantined cruise ship. An eighth death from the virus was confirmed Thursday in Japan’s northernmost island of Hokkaido, now considered a site of growing cluster.

Officials in the northernmost main island of Hokkaido said they were closing all 1,600 elementary and middle schools. Hokkaido now has 54 confirmed cases, the largest in in the country outside the cruise ship.

The emergency school closures come as schools were busy preparing for graduation ceremonies at the end of the school year. Koizumi primary school Vice Principal Norinobu Sawada said the decision to suspend classes was unavoidable.

“The most important thing is to prevent infections, so there aren’t many other options,” he said.

March 2, 2020 Posted by | Japan | , | Leave a comment

Rise in COVID-19 cases in Japan prompts 9 countries to restrict travel to and from Japan

A significant uptick in COVID-19 cases across Japan has triggered a flurry of advisories worldwide about travel to the country, with at least nine governments calling on their citizens to refrain from nonessential visits or to exercise increased caution during trips.

Foreign Minister Toshimitsu Motegi confirmed Friday that the nine countries — Israel, the Solomon Islands, Thailand, Samoa, Tonga, Micronesia, Kiribati, Bhutan and South Korea — had issued warnings against travel to Japan, one of the nations hit hardest by the new coronavirus epidemic.


n-alerts-a-20200225-870x571Health minister Katsunobu Kato (second from right) attends a meeting of infectious disease experts held Monday at the ministry to discuss measures to tackle the new coronavirus outbreak in Japan

Rise in COVID-19 cases in Japan prompts travel advisory revisions

Feb 24, 2020

A significant uptick in COVID-19 cases across Japan has triggered a flurry of advisories worldwide about travel to the country, with at least nine governments calling on their citizens to refrain from nonessential visits or to exercise increased caution during trips.

Foreign Minister Toshimitsu Motegi confirmed Friday that the nine countries — Israel, the Solomon Islands, Thailand, Samoa, Tonga, Micronesia, Kiribati, Bhutan and South Korea — had issued warnings against travel to Japan, one of the nations hit hardest by the new coronavirus epidemic.

On its official website, the Samoan government strongly recommends that all persons intending to travel to China and any country affected by the coronavirus “postpone their travel arrangements unless necessary.” Samoa also warned that Japanese passport-holders must self-quarantine for at least 14 days at their point of departure, and must undergo medical clearance within three days prior to their trip to Samoa.

Thai media outlets have widely reported that the country’s Public Health Ministry is advising Thais planning to visit Japan to postpone their trips. The Thai government said the coronavirus outbreaks in Japan and Singapore had reached “the third stage” in which a growing number of infected residents have no record of contact with Chinese people or any history of traveling to China, where the virus is thought to have originated.

Israel’s safety measures follow reports that two Israelis were found to have contracted the virus after they were evacuated from the virus-hit Diamond Princess cruise ship docked in Yokohama Port, where they had spent around two weeks under quarantine.

About 10 Israelis were aboard the ship. Israel was one of about a dozen countries that arranged chartered flights to bring their citizens home last week, in an emergency measure aimed at protecting the evacuees from the virus.

All the evacuees had boarded the charter planes on condition that they tested negative for COVID-19. But at least 14 Americans, six Australians, four U.K. nationals and two Israelis have tested positive so far after returning home from Japan.

On Sunday, after the viral infections were confirmed in the evacuees from the Diamond Princess, Israel announced its entry ban for Japanese travelers and residents of Japan who had visited Japan or South Korea 14 days prior to their arrival, effective from Monday.

Micronesia has also barred direct entry for people from Japan.

Until last weekend, the Diamond Princess remained the biggest COVID-19 cluster outside of China with nearly 700 people found to have developed symptoms of COVID-19 or been infected with SARS-CoV-2, the new coronavirus that causes the disease.

On Monday, the total number of 763 cases reported in South Korea, which is struggling to contain a snowballing coronavirus outbreak of its own, surpassed that of the Diamond Princess.

But with 149 cases reported within Japan as of Monday evening the nationwide total including those from the ship was brought to 840, prompting other governments to upgrade their health advisories concerning travel to the nation.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control has also issued a low-level travel advisory for Japan, warning of “sustained community spread” of the virus across the country through unknown routes of transmission.

In its notice, the CDC suggested older adults and those with chronic medical conditions — who may be at higher risk from severe disease — should discuss their plans with a health care provider and consider postponing nonessential travel. They also warned Americans considering trips to Japan of possible travel delays, quarantine and extremely expensive medical costs if they are suspected to have become infected with the virus.

Australia has also adjusted its advice for Japan. The Australian Government announced Sunday on Twitter that it recommends Australians exercise a high degree of caution in Japan due to an increased risk of sustained local transmission of the new coronavirus.

hjjlkmùA tea ceremony is held during an ume-viewing festival at Kitano Tenmangu shrine in Kyoto, western Japan, on Feb. 25, 2020.

7 countries restrict entry from Japan to thwart new virus spread

February 25, 2020

TOKYO (Kyodo) — Seven countries have restricted entry to Japanese nationals and those traveling from Japan in an effort to prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus, Foreign Minister Toshimitsu Motegi said Tuesday.

The countries are Israel, Samoa, Micronesia, Kiribati, Comoros, Tuvalu, and the Solomon Islands, Motegi said at a news conference.

The virus, which originated in China and causes a disease known as COVID-19, has spread across the globe infecting more than 78,000 people. There are over 800 confirmed cases of infection in Japan, with many from a cruise ship docked in Yokohama.

Japan has asked Israel to remove the travel restrictions, and briefed each country about Tokyo’s fight against the virus outbreak.

Motegi asked people to check the Japanese Foreign Ministry’s website before making travel plans.


March 2, 2020 Posted by | Japan | , | Leave a comment

An Olympic-Sized Disaster Is Brewing in Japan

Fukushima_Water_Testing_1088x725-700x470Tokyo Electric Power Company demonstrates how to measure radiation of water processed in ALPS II (Multi-nuclide retrieval equipment) at the tsunami-devastated nuclear power plant, Fukushima, January 22, 2020.

February 24, 2020

The 2020 Summer Olympics are coming to Japan — despite two major health scares: radiation from the nuclear meltdown at Fukushima and, more recently, the coronavirus. Over half of the coronavirus cases outside of China were onboard a cruise ship docked in Japan. (On board, 634 cases; on land, another 93, but these figures constantly change.)

The Japanese government is handling the coronavirus outbreak much the same way China handled it: not by controlling the situation, but by controlling information about the situation. 

And this is the same way the Japanese government is handling the Fukushima crisis. Prime Minister Shinzo Abe told the Olympic Committee that the nuclear meltdowns at Fukushima are not a problem.  

Let me assure you, the situation is under control, he said in 2013. 

That was a lie — one that let Olympic planning proceed by virtue of official denial of nuclear uncertainty with lethal potential.  

And now the Olympics may also be threatened by a health crisis of another sort: Japan’s botched handling of the coronavirus. 

Japan’s official response to this new threat has already drawn criticism, especially for releasing hundreds of possibly exposed passengers from a cruise ship into the general population. The dysfunction of Japan’s response to this crisis is illustrated by the fact that its environment minister skipped a government meeting on the coronavirus outbreak in favor of a political celebration in his home town. The Bangkok Post argues that time is running out on the Tokyo Olympics

Japan needs to rethink the Olympics. The most pressing reason to postpone or cancel the 2020 Tokyo summer games, which are due to start in late July, is a raging public health crisis of unknown dimensions. The second most important reason to put the Olympics on hold is the Japanese government response to the public health crisis to date: it has shown itself to have feet of clay. 

At the same time, organizers of the Tokyo marathon on March 1 have limited participation to about 200 athletes, after originally expecting 38,000. 

Meanwhile, the governor of Fukushima Prefecture was reassuring the public that radiation is no threat to the safety of the Olympic torch run on March 26: Through this ‘Reconstruction Olympics,’ we would like to show how Fukushima’s reconstruction has progressed in the past nine years as the result of efforts in cooperation with the Japanese government.”

“Using Greenpeace’s calculations, people staying near the stadium could be exposed to a greater amount of radiation in just over a day than they would naturally experience in a year.”

There is no way to know how the coronavirus spread will play or what effect, if any, it will have on the Summer Olympics. But it’s clear that the Japanese government has a huge stake in minimizing the perceived threat, exercising a level of denial that mirrors the official reassurances about Fukushima over the past nine years.

Judging by the head of the Australian Olympic Committee’s response, the Japanese reassurances are being taken at face value, albeit with significant caveats:

They’ve made it quite clear to us that there is no case for postponing, cancelling the Games at all … provided that all of the requirements of the Japanese authority on people coming into the Games are followed … We’re very satisfied that all the checks and balances will be there by the time the athletes and the spectators enter the country. 

Although the Tokyo Olympics committee tells everyone that none of the Olympic playing fields are radioactive, there have been reports to the contrary near Fukushima. South Korean athletes plan to bring their own food and radiation detectors. (Australian and US athletes will eat Japanese-prepared meals.)

The Hot Spots

The J-Village National Training Center is an Olympic sports complex that includes a stadium, 11 soccer fields, a swimming pool, a hotel, and conference center — all located about 12 miles from the ruined reactors at Fukushima. 

Last December, the environmental organization Greenpeace published a study documenting radioactive hot spots at J-Village, and found in some areas radiation levels as much as 1,700 times higher than they had been in 2011 before the meltdowns.

Greenpeace also found radiation levels roughly 280 times higher than those promised by the Japanese government. As CNN reported: “Using Greenpeace’s calculations, people staying near the stadium could be exposed to a greater amount of radiation in just over a day than they would naturally experience in a year.”

While Greenpeace found that most of the J-Village site was not highly radioactive, the organization questioned the Tokyo Electric Power Co.’s (TEPCO) approach to cleaning up the hot spots at the site:

How were such high levels of radiation not detected during the earlier decontamination by TEPCO? Why were only the most alarming hotspots removed and not the wider areas following the standard decontamination procedures? Given these apparent failures, the ability of the authorities to accurately and consistently identify radiation hot spots appears to be seriously in doubt.

On January 21, Fukushima Prefecture officials issued a statement assuring the public that radiation levels “won’t be posing any problem for holding the torch relay,” and that radiation exposure would be less than the exposure during a flight from New York to Tokyo. 

The statement provided no details explaining any ongoing safety measures: what measures had been taken to decontaminate hot spots, what effort was being made to search out other hotspots, or any other details of decontamination procedures.

A Disaster in Slow Motion

The 2011 nuclear meltdowns at Fukushima may now be widely ignored or forgotten, but the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant remains an evolving, multi-faceted disaster proceeding in slow motion. Radiation is constantly leaking from the nuclear complex where three melted nuclear cores remain a threat should they lose the water that keeps the meltdowns from reigniting.

For now there’s ample water to keep the cores cool, mainly because TEPCO has jury-rigged enough plumbing in the damaged plants to continue pumping water that keeps the cores and fuel pools covered and the meltdowns in check. No one really knows the configuration of the cores, which are presumably in a molten heap on the floor of the containment building, with lethal levels of radioactivity. Robots have made some contact with the cores, but their safe removal is years away.

TEPCO must continue to pump water to keep the cores cool for the indefinite future. As it’s pumped through the system, the fresh water becomes too radioactive itself to release into the environment. So the authorities have been storing this water in giant on-site tanks — now more than 1,000. 

They say they’ll run out of room for more tanks in another year or so. The tanks currently hold an estimated 1.2 million tons — more than 300 million gallons — of radioactive water that continues to accumulate at an estimated rate of 1,000 tons (265,000 gallons) or more per week.

No Solution in Sight

TEPCO, which owns the Fukushima complex, and the Japanese government understand the problem well enough, but they have yet to find a reasonable solution. The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) overseeing the Fukushima operation calls for replacing the temporary storage tanks with a permanent solution. Although no feasible permanent solution exists, three have been proposed: Evaporate the water, bury the water deep underground, or pump the water into the Pacific. There is no consensus in support of any of these. 

The Japanese government and TEPCO have been advocating the Pacific Ocean dumping solution for more than two years. Authorities say the water has been decontaminated, but this has never been true. At best, the water contains high levels of radioactive, carcinogenic tritium. The filtration device used on the water, the Advanced Liquid Processing System (ALPS), is unable to remove tritium. 

In 2017, TEPCO was claiming that ALPS had cleaned the water of every radionuclide other than tritium. That was not true. In August 2018, TEPCO admitted that the treated water still contained radioactive contaminants including iodine, cesium, and strontium, some of them above officially designated safe levels.




As the IAEA has documented, the authorities have released controlled amounts of radioactive water from Fukushima into the Pacific for years. Additionally, uncontrolled radioactive groundwater has flowed into the Pacific continuously since the 2011 disaster, although that flow has been substantially reduced. As the Fukushima site runs out of storage space, the campaign to release 300 million gallons of radioactive wastewater into the Pacific has intensified.

In November 2019, the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists published a status report on Fukushima that began:

After more than eight years, Japan is still struggling with [the] aftermath of the 2011 Fukushima nuclear disaster. The Japanese government and nuclear industry have not solved the many technical, economic, and socio-political challenges brought on by the accident. More worrying, they continue to put special interests ahead of the public interest, exacerbating the challenges and squandering public trust.

Among the problems at Fukushima, the Bulletin cited a highly radioactive exhaust stack that is at risk of collapse and needs to be carefully removed. In 2019, in its first attempt to remove the stack, TEPCO constructed a tower that was three meters too short to do the job. Other glitches have plagued this operation, which is ongoing.

The Bulletin also noted that a subcommittee of the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry recommended dumping treated wastewater with a low level of tritium into the Pacific. However, this plan was stalled by the authorities’ failure to reduce radioactivity to safe levels — or to tell the truth about it.

Releasing Fukushima radioactive water into ocean is an appalling act of industrial vandalism.”

Further complicating the clean-up at Fukushima, according to the Bulletin, is that none of the institutions involved is a disinterested party and none is willing to accept “a truly independent third party to oversee their activities.”

In December 2019, the New York Times approached the Fukushima story from the perspective of a fisherman whose life has been devastated by the disaster. The fishing industry is operating at about one-fifth the capacity of its pre-meltdown level and is one of the strongest opponents of more dumping. According to the Times:

The water from the Fukushima disaster is more radioactive than the authorities have previously publicized, raising doubts about government assurances that it will be made safe … Some scientists said they would need proof before believing that the Fukushima water was treated to safe levels.

Team leader Juan Carlos Lentijo looks at part of a system that removes radioactive elements from water. Fukushima, Japan, February 11, 2015.

The government official in charge of contaminated-water management acknowledged public concern about the issue, “even though there is no scientific evidence that the water is dangerous.” As if to reinforce that opinion, TEPCO officials hosted a media tour of the Fukushima plant on January 29. Radioactivity on the site is varied, but workers mostly wear protective gear and some jobs are so dangerous only robots are used.

On January 31, after six years of consideration, an advisory panel made a preliminary recommendation to the government to release Fukushima wastewater into the Pacific. The panel decided that this was better than the only alternative they considered feasible: evaporating the water. The recommendation has to be approved by panel chair Ichiro Yamamoto, a step required before the government considers it

There should be no delays to decommissioning the plant,” Yamamoto said. There is no reliable estimate as to how long decommissioning the plant’s damaged fuel pools and melted-down reactors will take, but it will surely run to decades. TEPCO’s own timeline stretches past 2050.

On February 3, the Japanese Foreign Ministry briefed 28 diplomats from 23 countries about the proposed radioactive-water dumping into the Pacific. The US did not participate in the briefing. The ministry assured the diplomats that “release of tainted water from Fukushima would have no impact on oceans.” According to the ministry, none of the diplomats voiced any objection to the proposal. The government plans to hold hearings on the proposal.

Reacting to the briefing, Common Dreams (a nonprofit US-based progressive news website) reported: “Nuclear policy expert Paul Dorfman said Saturday, ‘Releasing Fukushima radioactive water into ocean is an appalling act of industrial vandalism.’ Greenpeace opposes the plan as well.”

While South Korea may not have spoken up at the Fukushima briefing, it maintains a ban on Fukushima fish, and closely monitors other produce from Fukushima and seven neighboring prefectures (administrative areas) north and south of it.

Happy Talk

Current media coverage of Fukushima, where it exists, is mostly happy talk about the Olympics and how safe the country has become in the wake of the Fukushima disaster. Radiation that will persist for thousands of years and quiescent nuclear reactors whose meltdowns could reignite any time something else goes wrong are largely ignored.

Wildlife is thriving in radioactive Fukushima,” according to the Wildlife Society of Bethesda, MD, on February 6, 2020. The Society’s reporting is based on a 2020 study published by the Ecological Society of America in Washington, DC. The limited study used remote sensors to gather data from areas radiologically unsafe for humans (in the so-called human-evacuation zone). 

The study found that the radioactive region was repopulated with native mammals and birds, but could reach no conclusion regarding the impact of radiation on individuals or any of their molecular structure. According to the abstract:

Using a network of remote cameras placed along a gradient of radiological contamination and human presence, we collected data on population‐level impacts to wildlife (that is, abundance and occupancy patterns) following the 2011 Fukushima Daiichi nuclear accident. We found no evidence of population‐level impacts in mid‐to large‐sized mammals or gallinaceous birds, and show several species were most abundant in human‐evacuated areas, despite the presence of radiological contamination. These data provide unique evidence of the natural rewilding of the Fukushima landscape following human abandonment, and suggest that if any effects of radiological exposure in mid‐to-large‐sized mammals in the Fukushima Exclusion Zone exist, they occur at individual or molecular scales…. 

In other words, the researchers have no idea whether or not these populations are “thriving,” only that they appear to have reestablished themselves in pre-meltdown numbers in areas still deemed unsafe for humans.

March 2, 2020 Posted by | Fukushima 2020 | , , | Leave a comment

California’s Super Tuesday primary and Diablo nuclear station – symbol of USA’s nuclear corruption

March 2, 2020 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

USA desperately pushing the fantasy of Small Nuclear Reactors to India

March 2, 2020 Posted by | India, marketing, Small Modular Nuclear Reactors, USA | Leave a comment

The scandalous history of Australia’s secret nuclear collusion with Britain


The British also deliberately spread plutonium dust over the outback in so called safety tests. Although a number of Australians had knowledge they desperately wanted to share with the Australian people, the Australian government threatened these people with many years jail if they spoke out.

Australian service personnel and their health status records were treated and kept at the Maralinga Hospital. John Hutton was the only involved person to ever see his Maralinga file and actually get to retain a page from it. (He nicked it).

Australia and Britain perfected a medical regime in which medical responses to radiation induced syndromes were solved without documenting the actual diagnosis. The afflicted personnel, with the exception of Mr. Hutton, never got to read their own medical records, all of which disappeared when the British Bombardiers left Australia in the 1960s. And some say they took the Maralinga medical records with them. That’s very close collaboration, isn’t it?

March 2, 2020 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Coronavirus – right-wing media reactions and conspiracy theories

A guide to right-wing media reactions and conspiracy theories surrounding coronavirus, MEDIA MATTERS BY KAYLA GOGARTY & COURTNEY HAGLE  RESEARCH CONTRIBUTIONS FROM NOOR AL-SIBAIALEX KAPLANNIKKI MCCANN RAMIREZ & MADELINE PELTZ 02/28/20

  • As the lethal outbreak of coronavirus continues to spread around the world and the U.S. government warns that it will almost certainly also spread within the United States, right-wing media outlets and online accounts are spreading misinformation and conspiracy theories which could have deadly consequences.

    The strain of novel coronavirus known as COVID-19 is a respiratory disease that was first detected in the city of Wuhan, China. It swiftly spread and has now been detected in 53 countries, including the United States. So far, the outbreak has led to nearly 3,000 deaths and more than 82,000 cases worldwide, according to The New York Times.

    The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention describes the disease behind the current outbreak as part of “a large family of viruses that are common in many different species of animals, including camels, cattle, cats, and bats.” The CDC adds that “rarely, animal coronaviruses can infect people and then spread between people.” Earlier patients in the COVID-19 outbreak appeared to have a link to seafood and animal products, but the virus has since been shown to spread person-to-person.

    On January 30, the International Health Regulations Emergency Committee of the World Health Organization declared the outbreak a “public health emergency of international concern,” and on January 31, Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar declared a public health emergency in the United States.

    As the impact of coronavirus continued to be reported, concerns began to arise that it was driving xenophobic attacks toward people of Asian descent. In New York City, a man assaulted a woman wearing a face mask while calling her a “diseased b****.” On a Los Angeles subway, one man declared that “every disease has ever came from China.” In another incident, a Costco worker in Washington state told an 8-year-old child to “get away” because she believed he may be “from China.” Across the country, there has been an uptick in physical and verbal attacks toward Asian Americans.

    In addition to xenophobic sentiments, conspiracy theories and agenda-driven narratives began to arise on the internet and throughout right-wing media, adding more panic and confusion to an already chaotic situation. These conspiracy theories include claims that the Chinese government created coronavirus at a lab in Wuhan; that the United States is using the virus to attack and undermine China from within; and that coronavirus was previously created and patented by former Microsoft CEO Bill Gates.

    The virus has also triggered anti-Semitic sentiments, medical and scientific disinformation, and fearmongering from the religious right about the end of the world. In the United States, President Donald Trump and his allies in right-wing media have also absurdly argued that Democrats and the media are politicizing coronavirus for their own gain to make him look bad and cause panic in the stock market, which has plunged in reaction to the potential pandemic. Continue reading

March 2, 2020 Posted by | health, secrets,lies and civil liberties | Leave a comment

Kazakhstan local residents may be stuck with costs of decommissioning nuclear reactor

March 2, 2020 Posted by | decommission reactor, Kazakhstan | Leave a comment

Sweden now faces years of nuclear reactor shutdowns and waste disposal problems

Sweden prepares for a decade of nuclear decommissioning, NS Energy, By Kristina Gillin  27 Feb 2020 ,

Sweden is preparing to dismantle and demolish six large power reactors on three sites over the coming years.

By the end of 2020, half of Sweden’s nuclear reactors will have been permanently shut down for decommissioning. The six large reactors are expected to undergo nuclear decommissioning in Sweden over the next decade.

Besides these, the Ågesta prototype reactor, a combined heat and power plant is about to commence dismantling.

Nuclear decommissioning at Sweden’s Barsebäck nuclear power plant

The twin units at Barsebäck,  a few miles across the straight from Denmark, ceased to generate power in 1999 and 2005, respectively.

After shutdown, all spent fuel was removed and shipped to Sweden’s central interim storage facility (Clab) in Oskarshamn. Major decontamination of systems was also done early. However, dismantling had to wait, due to a lack of facilities for storage or disposal of decommissioning waste………

Funding and nuclear waste disposal in Sweden

Owners of nuclear power plants in Sweden have a statutory duty to dispose of their wastes. They are also required to set aside funding for waste management and nuclear decommissioning in Sweden. The funding is held in the Nuclear Waste Fund, a segregated Swedish government fund.

To fulfil the obligations, they jointly own the Swedish Nuclear Fuel and Waste Management Co (SKB). SKB’s scope covers disposal of most radioactive waste streams, interim storage of spent fuel and transportation between the various sites.

SKB is also responsible for compiling cost estimates for decommissioning and waste management every three years.

This to ensure that payments into the Nuclear Waste Fund are sufficient to cover future costs.

According to the 2019 estimates, the total cost of waste disposal, spent fuel storage and decommissioning is approximately SEK 147 billion (around €14 billion). Of this, about SEK 53 billion (around €5 billion) has been spent to date.

These figures include most of SKB’s scope but exclude the costs of near-surface disposal facilities for very low-level waste at Oskarshamn, Ringhals and Forsmark.

The majority of low- and intermediate-level waste from all Swedish reactors will be disposed of in SFR, a shallow geological repository for short-lived waste on the Forsmark nuclear site.

SFR has been in operation since 1988 but is currently licensed for operational waste only. To accommodate decommissioning waste, SKB plans to expand SFR’s capacity from 63,000 to 180,000 m3. An application for the expansion was submitted in 2014.

Pending regulatory approvals, construction of the new rock vaults will take place from 2023 to 2029.

March 2, 2020 Posted by | decommission reactor, Sweden | Leave a comment