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Across Asia-Pacific, trust in govts rose, except in Japan

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June 22, 2020

People’s trust in the governments of the Asia-Pacific rose, following a global pattern, except for Japan, according to the Edelman Trust Barometer Spring Update.

Trust in the government rose in China, India and South Korea, but declined by 5 points in Japan to 38 per cent, in Edelman’s Trust Barometer Spring Update report.

“The outlier in Asia, and indeed the world, is Japan,” noted Mr Stephen Kehoe, president and chief executive officer of Edelman’s Asia Pacific operations.

“Forced to reckon with early global attention due to the cruise ship stranded in the port of Yokohama, Japan appears to have learned few lessons from this crisis, or indeed, in the nine years since Fukushima,” he said in an article on Edelman’s website, referring to the coronavirus-hit Diamond Princess stranded in Yokohoma in February, with 3,700 people and crew on board. In the end, slightly over 700 people were found to be infected while 13 died, earning the government criticism for the delay in handling those infected.

“This, perhaps combined with the delayed decision to impose a state of emergency and subsequent reported missteps in the distribution of personal protective equipment, has resulted in a near-total collapse of confidence by the Japanese in their government to handle the ongoing crisis,” he added.

The March 2011 triple disaster in Fukushima of a tsunami, earthquake and an accident at the Daiichi nuclear power plant left more than 20,000 people dead or missing.

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has been rapped for his handling of the coronavirus situation. A poll by public broadcaster NHK from May showed his approval rating had dropped to 37 per cent while another poll by Mainichi Shimbun showed his approval rating was only 27 per cent.

Elsewhere in Asia, people showed more trust in their governments, with the level in China up five points to 95 per cent, India (up 6 points to 87 per cent), and South Korea (up 16 points to 67 per cent).

Those surveyed also showed a high tolerance of government surveillance for public safety. The level in China was 30 points ahead of the global average (at 61 per cent), while in India it was 17 points over, and in South Korea, it was in line with the global average.

“Japan’s appetite for surveillance is the lowest in our sample at 44 per cent, continuing to reflect long-held beliefs around constitutional freedom, which date back to the aftermath of World War II,” noted Mr Kehoe.

https://www.straitstimes.com/asia/across-asia-pacific-trust-in-govts-rose-except-in-japan

 

 

June 22, 2020 Posted by | Japan | , | Leave a comment

Fukushima 50 film review: drama about nuclear workers’ sacrifice following 2011 earthquake lacks punch

bbA still from Fukushima 50 (category IIA; Japanese) starring Koichi Sato and Ken Watanabe and directed by Setsuro Wakamatsu.

 

22 Jun, 2020

  • Ken Watanabe as Fukushima nuclear power plant superintendent, and Koichi Sato as shift supervisor, lead the battle to avert a meltdown after earthquake, tsunami
  • Blow-by-blow account of the real-life aftermath of the 2011 disaster in Japan loses much of its drama by refusing to point fingers or demonise decision-makers

 

2.5/5 stars

The first mainstream film to dramatise the lives of frontline workers who dealt with the 2011 Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster, Setsuro Wakamatsu’s Fukushima 50 is an earnest, if somewhat toothless, celebration of those who risked everything to avert a reactor meltdown.

Ken Watanabe and Koichi Sato headline this big-budget adaptation of Ryusho Kadota’s non-fiction book, On the Brink: The Inside Story of Fukushima Daiichi.

The film wastes no time setting up characters or pre-existing relationships, opening with the explosive underwater earthquake off the Tohoku coast of northeast Japan on March 11, 2011. The initial impact triggered an automatic shutdown of the Fukushima Daiichi power station’s nuclear fission reactors. The subsequent tsunami swept over the power plant’s coastal defence walls, flooded the main buildings and knocked out the backup generators responsible for cooling the reactor cores.

Facing an imminent meltdown, plant superintendent Masao Yoshida (Watanabe) and shift supervisor Toshio Isaki (Sato) spearhead a daring, potentially suicidal effort to cool the reactors using seawater, while fending off contradictory, face-saving orders from their superiors at Tokyo Electric Power Company (Tepco) and the Japanese government.

In the nine years since the disaster, the Japanese film industry has broached the disaster’s aftermath numerous times, in films from Sion Sono’s uncharacteristically sombre A Land of Hope, to the allegorical 2016 blockbuster

Shin Godzilla

. The eponymous beast of the latter film has been the stand-in for national life-or-death reckonings since the dawn of the atomic era, but that film also took time to expose, and ultimately champion, the country’s multi-tiered bureaucratic leadership.

 

jjjlmKoichi Sato in a still from Fukushima 50.

 

Fukushima 50, and Kadota’s impressively researched book, give blow-by-blow accounts of the disaster and the courageous sacrifices made by those who chose not to evacuate, but stay behind and ensure the nation’s safety. However, arriving in the wake of HBO’s much lauded and dramatically superior miniseries Chernobyl, about the 1986 nuclear disaster in Ukraine, Wakamatsu’s film feels lightweight, and the obstinate heads of Tepco a pushover compared to the Soviet Union’s fearsome Central Committee.

The film functions best as a memorial to Masao Yoshida, the only plant worker to have his real name used, whose willingness to go against his superiors ultimately prevented a far larger disaster, only for him to succumb to an unrelated bout of cancer in 2013. The film’s reluctance to point fingers, or demonise those responsible, saps much of the drama from this true-life tale of selfless heroism.

https://www.scmp.com/lifestyle/entertainment/article/3090106/fukushima-50-film-review-drama-about-nuclear-workers

June 22, 2020 Posted by | Fukushima 2020 | , , , , | Leave a comment

Invisible Fallout

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June 21, 2020

New film helps us find it, measure it and understand it

By Linda Pentz Gunter

There are many ways to teach people about radiation. But if you want to make that lesson accessible, compelling and even moving, then this film is the way to do it.

Let’s go on a journey. A journey to learn about radiation exposure from fallout after a nuclear power plant accident. We have the perfect guide. It is the independent French radiation research laboratory known as CRIIRAD, and its director, Dr. Bruno Chareyron.

The organization’s full name in French is Commission de Recherche et d’Information Indépendantes sur la RADioactivité, hence the acronym. In English it is translated as Commission for Independent Research and Information about RADiation.

For those not familiar with CRIIRAD, our journey begins with a little history, and so does CRIIRAD’s brilliant new 45-minute film — Invisible Fallout (Invisibles retombées is the French title), which can be viewed in its entirety on YouTube and below. The film, written and produced by CRIIRAD staff and directed by Cris Ubermann, is in French and Japanese with English subtitles.

 

When the Chernobyl nuclear disaster hit in April 1986, the French government engaged in a notorious cover-up, claiming that France “has totally escaped any radioactive fallout.” The whole thing was a lie. Five days before the government denial, Chernobyl’s radioactive cloud had covered all of France.

As Invisible Fallout recounts, after Chernobyl, it took 15 years until the French government published fallout maps of France. But the CRIIRAD laboratory, formed right after Chernobyl precisely to establish that France’s immunity was a myth, had already done the work that debunked the official line that the disaster was just a Soviet problem. French citizens not only got dosed by Chernobyl fallout, but would live in perpetual danger of a similar catastrophe at home, with a country almost 80% reliant on nuclear-generated electricity from its 58 reactors.

But Invisible Fallout does not linger long in the past. It segues quickly to the next nuclear catastrophe — the 2011 Fukushima-Daiichi meltdowns in Japan — and it is there that the CRIIRAD team, led by Chareyron, take us to learn about the effects of radiation exposure from nuclear power plants.

Just sixteen days after the Fukushima disaster, Japanese citizens began to detect fallout. They desperately needed to do independent monitoring but found it hard to get their hands on Geiger counters. The downplays and cover-ups by Japanese authorities, attempting to minimize the dangers and avoid mass evacuations, meant official figures could not be trusted.

An unlikely leader stepped forward in the person of composer and artist, Wataru Iwata, who, one month after the disaster, asked CRIIRAD for Geiger counters. They sent them, along with email tutorials on radioactivity, its health risks and how to protect against them. The laboratory also prepared a series of simple, clear, instructional “emergency” videos in English, designed for non-specialists, which they put online for everyone to access. This included an instructional segment on how to use a Scintillometer, one of the dozen devices CRIIRAD had sent to the Japanese activists. 

We then get a short instructional video of our own on exactly how the Scintillometer is able to rapidly detect Gamma radiation in counts per second, and what those measurements mean. It glides into clarity for us, abetted by the smooth tones of the film’s excellent French narrator, Nicolas Planchais. We forget completely we are in class. Everything is, indeed, illuminated.

And we see Iwata taking his device into Fukushima Prefecture where he helps others measure the radiation levels. At a restaurant 55km away from the destroyed reactors, where people were going about their daily lives, he is shocked to record radiation levels that are 50 times higher than normal. In other areas, levels are 1,000 times higher.

Two months after the accident, CRIIRAD decided to show up in person, and Japan’s Citizens Radioactivity Monitoring Stations (CRMS), were born. CRIIRAD set up nine CRMS in Fukushima Prefecture and one in Tokyo.

 

mission-criirad-en-prc3a9fecture-de-fukushima-mai-juin-2011-mesures-du-niveau-de-radiation-dans-un-c3a9cole-de-la-ville-de-fukushima-criirad-bruno-chareyron-christian-courbon-ong-locale-CRIIRAD’s Bruno Chareyron (right) and Christian Courbon (kneeling) with Wataru Iwata, taking radiation measurements at a school in Fukushima City. (Photo: CRIIRAD)

 

Quickly realizing that ingestion of radioactively contaminated foodstuffs was as much of a threat as external exposure, Iwata asked for ways to measure radiation in food. This would help the people who had stayed — or who had been forced to remain — in contaminated areas to make informed choices about the food they consumed. CRIIRAD brought over a device sensitive enough to detect radiation in food, then conducted a seminar for residents of Fukushima City on on how to use it. We too, as viewers, get the tutorial.

Indeed, all of these lessons in science are subtly woven into the film, but cleverly attached to the lived experiences of real people in Japan, making it relevant and relatable.

And then, as we learn how to measure radiation levels and what they mean, we start to meet the people to whom it matters the most. We encounter a farmer who abided by the rules not to sell contaminated crops but whose family ate the food themselves so it would not go to waste. And we watch his palpable emotion as he recounts his attachment to the land and the known risks he and his family took.

CRIIRAD and its Japanese partners begin to find radioactive particles everywhere— on rooftops, in soil and vegetation, at the foot of trees, in the cracks of tarmac, even inside greenhouses.

At a school which, in denial, refused to have radiation measurements taken, Iwata is shown taking readings in the school grounds. They start at 6,000 to 7,000 counts per second, but rise to 27,000 counts per second at ground level.

The CRIIRAD team encounter what they describe as their most difficult moment when an elderly peasant farmer asks them to conduct measurements on her land just 30km away from the nuclear site. She herself was forced to evacuate, but her farm was not in the zone designated for permanent evacuation. So she came back with CRIIRAD to assess the situation. 

We watch them take measurements, then gently show the results to her. She begins to sob. Then she tells them, “Thank you for coming all this way. I was in darkness and you have brought me light.”  But, she knows she must now abandon the farm forever.

 

fukushima-farmFukushima farms were found to be contaminated. (Photo: Sek Keung Lo/Creative Commons)

 

After an interlude for another lesson, this time on gamma rays, we are back to some chilling truths about their effects. In Fukushima City, we learn that at an elementary school there, children are asked to frequently change places in class so that the same children are not always sitting by the window where the radiation levels are higher.

This prompts CRIIRAD to remind us that, “when it comes to radiation protection, there is no threshold below which it is harmless.” And they point out that the Japanese decision to raise the annual allowable radiation dose from 1mSv to 20mSv, “means accepting a risk of cancer 20 times higher, and this applies equally to children and pregnant women” for whom such doses present a far higher risk.

CRIIRAD warns that people living in the contaminated region will be exposed for decades and across vast areas. They will be exposed to external radiation from powerful gamma rays emitted by the soil and contaminated surfaces. They will be exposed through inhalation of radioactive dust suspended every time the wind blows, and by activities such as sowing crops, ploughing and construction work. And they will be exposed through eating foodstuffs cultivated on contaminated land in contaminated soil. 

But thanks to CRIIRAD, many of them will now know how to measure these levels, what they mean and how to protect themselves. It’s a lesson that’s well worth learning for all of us.

For more information, please see the CRIIRAD website, in its original French, and in English.

Headline photo: Bruno Chareyron (center) and Wataru Iwata (right) in Fukushima Prefecture, May-June 2011, in discussion with locals before taking radiation readings on their properties. (Image courtesy of CRIIRAD)

https://beyondnuclearinternational.org/2020/06/21/invisible-fallout/?fbclid=IwAR0iFkKlygM1k8gKO6wQPUxb33XjjwcvJfHwiznqOuYu_DhsSUmNcJLBitg

June 22, 2020 Posted by | Fukushima 2020 | , , , , , | Leave a comment

It’s Not Techno-Angst That’s Driving East Asia to Abandon Nuclear Power

In the East Asian democracies, nuclear energy is tied to an increasingly unpopular political and economic model.

klmmùWorkers at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant pose for portraits on Feb. 23, 2016, in Okuma, Japan.

 

June 17, 2020

Western discussions about nuclear energy in East Asia usually start with the Fukushima disaster and end with efforts to address climate change. But anti-nuclear sentiment in Asia looks nothing like that in the West, where it was birthed during the Jane Fonda era and is still based on long-debunked claims about the intrinsic dangers of accidents and nuclear waste. The techno-angst and apocalyptic fears that have always animated Western environmentalism are largely foreign to Asian discussions of nuclear energy, climate change, and similar environmental concerns.The techno-angst and apocalyptic fears that have always animated Western environmentalism are largely foreign to Asian discussions of nuclear energy and climate change. After all, following the 2011 earthquake and tsunami in Japan that led to a meltdown at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant, it was Germany—not Japan—that immediately decided to permanently phase out nuclear power, even if it meant that its carbon emissions would rise.

Japan, South Korea, and Taiwan may nonetheless take a decisive turn against nuclear power. The reasons have little to do with public fears of nuclear energy but are tied to long-standing demands for political and economic reform. That’s because the nuclear industry in each of these three countries is tied to a highly contested political and economic model that the reformers are pressing to change.

In April, the anti-nuclear Democratic Party of Korea swept to the most dominating electoral victory in South Korean history. In January, Taiwan’s reform-minded Democratic Progressive Party, which has proposed phasing out the country’s nuclear power stations, also won by a landslide. Meanwhile, both Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and his ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP), the country’s last major pro-nuclear party, face worsening poll numbers as a major election approaches in 2021.

The proximate causes of these political shifts have little to do with nuclear or environmental policies. South Korean President Moon Jae-in’s smashing victory followed his exemplary management of the national response to the COVID-19 pandemic. In Taiwan, it was China’s brutal crackdown on dissent in Hong Kong that heavily tipped the scales in favor of the Democratic Progressive Party, which has taken a far more defiant position on relations with China than its main rival, the Kuomintang. Japan’s LDP is languishing in the polls because of its failure to revitalize the country’s long-stagnant economy, a task made all the more challenging by the pandemic.

Dig a little deeper, however, and the same underlying political dynamics have undermined support for nuclear energy. In all three nations, the nuclear power sector has become closely identified with long-entrenched political parties and the power of state bureaucracies and industry groups over economic life. Fukushima undoubtedly amplified anti-nuclear sentiment in the region, but opposition to nuclear power has been a proxy for political and economic reform for decades.

In all three nations, state-led nuclear energy development took place during prolonged periods of political dominance by conservative parties with strong ties to industry and business interests. In the aftermath of the Chinese Civil War in the 1940s and the Korean War in the 1950s, respectively, South Korea and Taiwan were led by authoritarian governments that focused on economic development while severely restricting political freedoms. South Korea only held its first free elections in 1988; Taiwan followed in 1992. While Japan has conducted democratic elections since the 1950s, the LPD has maintained nearly continuous control.

The nuclear industries of Taiwan, South Korea, and Japan are thus the product of authoritarian or de facto one-party states, where the ruling party passed control over the energy sector (and many other parts of the economy) to state-owned corporations, government-issued monopolies, or quasi-cartels of favored companies. State-owned Taiwan Power Company controlled Taiwan’s power sector until the electricity market became more liberalized after 1995. In South Korea, the government-operated Korea Electric Power Corporation still holds a monopoly on power generation and grid infrastructure; one of its subsidiaries, Korea Hydro and Nuclear Power, operates all nuclear reactors. In Japan, the power sector consists of 10 regional monopolies that operate in close coordination with the powerful Ministry of Economy, Trade, and Industry.

And just as the nuclear establishment was part and parcel of postwar economic planning by what were effectively one-party states, opposition to that establishment has become a cause for those who demand political and economic reform.

Evolving nuclear policies in East Asia reflect a changing balance of power that is likely to persist. In Taiwan, the conservative Kuomintang’s aging demographic base and support for closer ties with mainland China now appears out of touch with a younger electorate increasingly distrustful of China and hostile to reunification. In South Korea, demographic shifts and evolving public opinion have favored reforms on issues ranging from diplomacy with North Korea to checks on powerful corporations. In both South Korea and Taiwan, successful responses to the COVID-19 pandemic have boosted the credibility of reformist leaders.

Even as the nuclear issue is taken up by reform parties, public support for nuclear energy remains strong in South Korea and Taiwan, and has been growing again in Japan.The political situation in Japan, by contrast, is more uncertain. With the pandemic set to erase the LDP’s recent successes in controlling the national debt and boost the economy, the party also faces a leadership transition when Abe steps down after his current term as prime minster, as he must according to LDP rules. But anti-nuclear opposition parties remain weak and have almost no record of winning national elections, let alone governing—an enormous disadvantage at a moment when the economy is struggling, China has reemerged as the region’s dominant power, and the public health crisis is far from over.

Even as the nuclear issue is taken up by reform parties, public support for nuclear energy remains strong in South Korea and Taiwan, and has been growing again in Japan. In Taiwan, 59 percent of voters supported a 2018 referendum to retain the nation’s nuclear power stations. In South Korea, support for nuclear energy dipped in the wake of Fukushima but has since rebounded to around 70 percent. Opinion in Japan remains divided, but support has slowly rebounded since the Fukushima accident.

https://foreignpolicy.com/2020/06/17/nuclear-power-japan-south-korea-japan-fukushima-disaster/?fbclid=IwAR3ujssQDdH9GsWBvEuGz2ahZf2bGmp3xuquGfRUTg5IuwewqX7EdL1DRfI

June 22, 2020 Posted by | Japan | , | Leave a comment

Protective sheet positioned at damaged reactor

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June 12, 2020

The operator of the crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant has released footage showing part of the time-consuming steps needed to remove nuclear fuel from a pool at its No.1 reactor.

In the video, workers used remote-controlled tools to place a wide sheet over the surface of the pool. The radiation level there remains high.

Tokyo Electric Power Company has been engaged in removing debris from the upper part of the reactor building where the pool is located. The debris was caused by an explosion during the 2011 nuclear accident.

The sheet is meant to protect the pool and 392 nuclear fuel assemblies still inside from further damage that could result from the possible falling of debris or large machinery.

The six-by-eleven meter sheet is inflatable to a thickness of 50 centimeters. It will be filled with cement to increase its strength.

The operator plans to begin clearing the debris from around the pool by the end of the month, as soon as the sheet’s cement has solidified.

The operator plans to start removing the fuel from the pool of the No.1 reactor in fiscal 2027. Similar work at the No.2 reactor will start in fiscal 2024. Fuel removal from the pool at the No.3 reactor will be completed by fiscal 2020. The removal work is finished at the No.4 reactor.

https://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/en/news/20200612_02/?fbclid=IwAR0aZXia773hoajuSLTJZO3GyZTSggWHrQ6yXEnSqzT7p9K8zkg7YGiQ33s

 

June 22, 2020 Posted by | Fukushima 2020 | , , | Leave a comment

Rods can be removed from No. 2 reactor at Fukushima plant, Tepco says

”R—¿ã‚ðˆÚ“®‚·‚郍ƒ{ƒbƒgA remotely operated underwater robot casts light over nuclear fuel rods inside the fuel pool of the No.2 reactor at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant.

Jun 11, 2020

Fukushima – Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings Inc. (Tepco) found no obstacles Wednesday to its planned removal of radioactive fuel rods from a spent fuel pool at the Fukushima No.1 nuclear power plant, the firm has said.

Tepco confirmed the findings after starting its first internal probe of the No. 2 reactor since the 2011 disaster. The investigation is expected to continue through Friday.

Using a remotely operated underwater robot to photograph the interior of the pool, submerged fuel rods and their storage racks were checked for any damage. A total of 615 spent and unspent fuel rods are stored in the pool.

White sediment was discovered on the aluminum alloy racks. It is believed to have formed from a reaction between aluminum and elements in sea water, which was injected into the pool to cool the nuclear fuel during the disaster.

Similar sediment was found in the reactor pools at units No. 3 and No. 4, from which fuel rods have already been removed, but according to Tepco it did not affect the process.

Similar to the No. 1 and No. 3 reactors, the No. 2 reactor suffered a core meltdown after it temporarily lost its cooling function in its spent fuel pool, but there was no hydrogen explosion at the building.

Because of that, the pool is thought to be free of debris and in a relatively stable condition.

High radiation levels on the top floor of the reactor building, where the fuel rods are located, have delayed cleanup efforts.

But progress in decontamination efforts has now enabled remote inspections to be carried out.

A new facility complete with a crane and equipment to lift out the fuel rods will be built on the south side of the No. 2 nuclear reactor building. The removal process is slated to begin sometime between fiscal 2024 and 2026.

https://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2020/06/11/national/fuel-rods-fukushima-no-2/#.XuJIOufgqUk

June 22, 2020 Posted by | Fukushima 2020 | , , | Leave a comment

Tepco completes survey of Fukushima Daiichi 2 fuel pool

FD-2-used-fuel-pool-survey-June-2020-(Tepco)_1The ROV surveys the used fuel pool of Fukushima Daiichi unit 2 (Image: Tepco)

11 June 2020

There are no obstacles to the removal of assemblies from the used fuel storage pool of unit 2 at the damaged Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, Tokyo Electric Power Company (Tepco) said today after completing an initial survey of the pool. Removal of the assemblies is scheduled to begin fiscal year 2024.

Similar to the reactors at units 1 and 3, unit 2’s reactor suffered a core meltdown after it temporarily lost its cooling functions, but the reactor building – which also houses the fuel storage pool – was spared a hydrogen explosion.

Using a submersible remotely-operated vehicle to investigate the fuel pool, Tepco concluded there was no damage to the fuel assemblies or the storage rack they are held in. It did, however, discover sand-like sediment at the bottom of the pool.

The utility said images captured during the pool’s survey will be used for designing equipment to be used in the removal of the fuel assemblies. It plans to start removing the 587 fuel assemblies from the unit’s used fuel pool between fiscal year 2024 (ending March 2025) and fiscal year 2026 (ending March 2027).

Dose levels on the operating floor of unit 2 are high, thereby making it difficult to access. Tepco has, however, already made progress with the clean-up of equipment, etc. that remains on the operating floor, providing access to the area near the storage pool.

It plans to complete the removal of all fuel assemblies from Fukushima Daiichi units 1-6 during 2031.

https://www.world-nuclear-news.org/Articles/Tepco-completes-survey-of-Fukushima-Daiichi-2-fuel

 

June 22, 2020 Posted by | Fukushima 2020 | , , | Leave a comment

A housewife will run as candidate for Iwaki City Election 2020: “I want to protect Iwaki’s children”

[Iwaki City Election 2020] “I want to protect Iwaki’s children” A housewife who has continued to measure radioactivity decides to run for a bid.

 

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Translated by Hervé Courtois

June 11, 2020


A housewife working on the nuclear accident problem that has been going on since 2011 will run for the Iwaki City election in September. She continues to measure air doses and soil radioactive pollution to protect children from exposure risks, and decided to take the first challenge to reflect the voices of life-saving mothers in municipal administration.

I can’t vote for the nuclear accident, and I can’t do what I want to do in Corona, but I want all of Iwaki’s children to grow healthy and quickly. For that, I must do what I can do now. I am aiming for a win. The voting and voting is September 13th.

[“Pollution is still ongoing”]
Mrs. Saori Suzuki (51) = Hirashita Hirakubo, Iwaki City = is preparing for her candidacy.
Born in Osaka. Lived in Osaka until the age of 2 and moved to Tokyo and Saitama when his father moved. After getting married, she started living in Iwaki. She lives with her husband, a daughter in the second year of college, and a son in the third year of high school. She ‘s been living in Iwaki  for more than 20 years.


After all, the turning point was the nuclear accident in March 2011. Until then, she had only served as chairman of the PTA at a school where children attended. Active as a member of “Mothers’ Association Pursuing Initial Exposure to Iwaki”. While running a cram school, she continues to measure air dose and soil pollution density in schools and kindergartens.

“At that time, the children were in the 4th and the 2nd grades of elementary school. According to the location of the school, it could exceed 3μSv/h depending on the location. After continuing the measuring, the nuclear accident was not over, pollution was still continuing. I want all the children in Iwaki City to grow up in good health, not just their own children. It is the foundation of society to grow healthy both physically and mentally. Don’t sacrifice children for the sake of adults.”


In April 2018, when a plan to remove monitoring posts (real-time dosimetry system) installed in front of stations and schools emerged, a request form was submitted to Mayor Toshio Shimizu with the mothers in the city. In the request form, 1) that the residents have the right to decide whether or not the MP are not required 2) Do not remove until the decommissioning work is completed 3) Do not hold future scheduled inhabitants briefings on the premise of removal ─ I asked the mayor of Shimizu to appeal to the government, but the Nuclear Regulatory Commission finally withdrew the blank plan.

9 years have passed since the nuclear accident. Neither the government nor the Fukushima Prefecture will say anything about the exposure risk in areas where evacuation orders were not issued, they were only saying that the air dose had dropped significantly.


However, Mrs. Suzuki says from the experience that she continues to measure, “The air dose and soil pollution are different. Even if the air dose is low, the soil below it is often heavily contaminated with radioactivity. Even if the air dose is low, we cannot rest assured that it is impossible to completely restore the condition before the nuclear accident, but I think adults must continue to make efforts to approach it.” ..


The issue of nuclear accident and radiation exposure risk is said to be “not a vote”, and has not been the issue of elections in Fukushima. “I’m afraid to raise the issue of radioactive pollution and exposure to the front. I think I’m tired of thinking, but I don’t want to ignore that problem,” she said. In the third leaflet, she wrote, “Radioactivity problem after the nuclear accident.”


After the nuclear accident, when Iwaki City, which used rice produced in Hokkaido for school lunch, announced a policy to switch to rice produced in Iwaki, she joined the opposition movement. The LDP-affiliated city council welcomed “Promote rice consumption expansion and local production for local consumption” and “Dispel rumor and save local farmers”, but Suzuki signed the voice of a mother concerned about internal radiation Or submitted a request form to the city. Eventually, she heard a voice saying, “Do you disturb the reconstruction?” It is said that the farmers also strongly blamed her.


“I was asked what would happen to farmers. I was talking about compensation, but… I was accused directly over the phone. I also received an email. I hope you guys leave.”
Still, she did not stop activities to protect children from radioactive materials. She couldn’t stop.

[“Increase in women councilors”]

Joined the Constitutional Democratic Party. Run as an official candidate. Although I thought about running as non-affiliated candidate, the winning line in the previous 2016 city council election was 2300 votes. An unnamed newcomer without an organization has high hurdles. “I can’t pursue an ideal society without being elected and not joining parliament,” says Suzuki.

“I think some people have different opinions, but I don’t have experience or an organization. I still need a backup. Local people said, “If you can run from the LDP, you will win easily.” ” If you can not say what you want to say, there is no point in winning.”

There is also a desire to increase the number of women  councilorss.
“My dad’s eyes and mother’s eyes are different. Mothers give birth. The way they think about life is different from men. I don’t mean which is wrong, which is unavoidable.
So, I think the ideal society is for men and women to complement each other’s deficiencies. The same applies to the city council. It’s useless if for men and women alone.”.

“We also worked hard in last year’s 10/12 flood damage. The whole city was in hell. Many households use septic tanks, and sewage as well as muddy water entered the houses. Moved for the stunned residents. Fortunately, my home was not flooded, so I cleaned the flooded public hall with a high pressure washer. With that as the “support base,” we began distributing relief supplies.”

“It was natural that we needed human resources and supplies, but in fact, it was not the only thing that the victims needed. In cooperation with the government and the Council of Social Welfare, we have established a tea-only corner where you can talk about anything even if you are complaining. It’s important to have a cup of tea and take a break. That’s why I can do my best again. As with the nuclear accident, flood damage has not ended.

▽Is less than 3 months until the notification date. I can’t move as expected due to coronal blight, and I get impatient. If there were no problems with the new coronavirus, we would have held a lot of tea talks and mini gatherings, but… We plan to open an office in July, so I will do my best to prepare.”

━ Can a new wind be blown into Iwaki City Council 10 years after the nuclear accident? The voting and voting is September 13th.
http://taminokoeshimbun.blog.fc2.com/blog-entry-453.html?fbclid=IwAR35D2tekyzMhLNvqCwspfNpN_U65JzTx46Q2ovtPsrubxfiRl7s5J1wqOc

June 12, 2020 Posted by | Fukushima 2020 | , , | Leave a comment

U.N. experts urge Japan not to rush discharge of radioactive water and not ignore human rights obligations on nuclear waste disposal

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June 9, 2020

U.N. experts urge Japan not to rush discharge of radioactive water

Four United Nations human rights experts on Tuesday urged the Japanese government against rushing to discharge radioactive water from the Fukushima nuclear plant into the sea until consultations are made with affected communities and neighboring countries.

“We are deeply concerned by reports that the Government of Japan has accelerated its timeline for the release of radioactive wastewater into the ocean without time or opportunity for meaningful consultations,” the experts said in a press release.

The experts are imploring the government to delay its decision on releasing the radioactive water until after the coronavirus pandemic has been contained, so proper attention can be dedicated to the issue.

The concern was raised as public consultations on the release of the plant’s wastewater have been accelerated, and opinions will be solicited by next Monday. Such consultations were initially scheduled until after the now-postponed Tokyo Olympic and Paralympic Games.

Japan is considering ways to safely dispose of the water contaminated with radioactive materials, including releasing it into the Pacific Ocean and evaporating it. Tanks used to store the water are expected to be filled by summer 2022.

The experts — U.N. special rapporteurs respectively on hazardous wastes, rights to food, rights to assembly and association, and rights of indigenous people — took note of credible indications that the postponement of the games sped up the government’s decision-making process.

With the pandemic also preventing in-depth consultations with relevant stakeholders, the rapporteurs called on the Japanese government to give “proper space and opportunity for consultations on the disposal of nuclear waste that will likely affect people and peoples both inside and outside of Japan.”

“COVID-19 must be not be used as a sleight of hand to distract from decisions that will have profound implications for people and the planet for generations to come,” they said, raising the alarm that a discharge will pose a grave threat to the livelihoods of local fishermen.

https://english.kyodonews.net/news/2020/06/6f6afd14d6a4-un-experts-urge-japan-not-to-rush-discharge-of-radioactive-water.html

 

Fukushima: Japan must not ignore human rights obligations on nuclear waste disposal – UN experts

GENEVA (9 June 2020) – UN human rights experts* today urged the Japanese Government to delay any decision on the ocean-dumping of nuclear waste water from the reactors at Fukushima Daiichi until after the COVID-19 crisis has passed and proper international consultations can be held.

“We are deeply concerned by reports that the Government of Japan has accelerated its timeline for the release of radioactive waste water into the ocean without time or opportunity for meaningful consultations,” the independent experts said. Credible sources indicate the postponement of the 2020 Olympics enabled the Government’s new decision-making process for release of the waste.

They said the Government’s short extension for the current public consultation was grossly insufficient while COVID-19 measures limited opportunities for input from all affected communities in Japan, as well as those in neighbouring countries, including indigenous peoples.

“COVID-19 must be not be used as a sleight of hand to distract from decisions that will have profound implications for people and the planet for generations to come,” the experts said. “There will be grave impacts on the livelihood of local Japanese fisher folk, but also the human rights of people and peoples outside of Japan.”

They said there was no need for hasty decisions because adequate space was available for additional storage tanks to increase capacity, and the public consultation originally was not expected to be held until after the 2020 Olympics.

“We call on the government of Japan to give proper space and opportunity for consultations on the disposal of nuclear waste that will likely affect people and peoples both inside and outside of Japan. We further call on the Government of Japan to respect the right of indigenous peoples to free prior and informed consent and to respect their right to assemble and associate to form such a consent.”

The experts have communicated their concerns to the Government of Japan. UN experts have previously raised concerns over the increase of exposure levels to radiation deemed “acceptable” for the general public, and for the use of vulnerable workers in efforts to clean up after the nuclear disaster.

ENDS

*The experts: Mr. Baskut Tuncak, Special Rapporteur on the implications for human rights of the environmentally sound management and disposal of hazardous substances and wastes; Mr. Michael Fakhri, Special Rapporteur on the right to food; Mr. Clément Nyaletsossi Voule, Special Rapporteur on the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and of association; and Mr. José Francisco Calí Tzay, Special Rapporteur on the rights of indigenous peoples.

https://www.ohchr.org/EN/NewsEvents/Pages/DisplayNews.aspx?NewsID=25940&LangID=E

 

June 11, 2020 Posted by | Fukushima 2020 | , , , , | Leave a comment

Tepco and Toshiba join forces to upgrade Kashiwazaki-Kariwa nuclear plant

KKTepco Holdings Corporation and Toshiba Energy Systems Corporation have signed a memorandum of understanding to establish a company to carry out safety upgrade measures at unit 6 of Tepco’s Kashiwazaki-Kariwa nuclear power plant.

 

In December 2017, Tepco received approval from the Nuclear Regulation Authority (NRA) to change the installation of Kashiwazaki-Kariwa units 6 and 7. It is currently working to obtain approval for the construction plan for unit 7. In parallel with the examination, it is working on preparations for the application for construction plan approval for unit 6.

“Tepco and Toshiba have brought together technologies and knowledge that cross-industry boundaries to jointly establish a company responsible for safety measures for Kashiwazaki-Kariwa Nuclear Power Station 6,” the companies said. “We aim to establish a new company in mid-June and aim to start a full-scale business in July 2020. Going forward, we will aim to improve safety and quality by maximising the synergistic and complementary effects of the two companies toward the completion of safety measures for the Kashiwazaki Kariwa 6.”

The 1356MWe Kashiwazaki Kariwa 6, a boiling water reactor (BWR), began commercial operation in 1996.

The new company, KK6 Safety Measures Joint Venture Co Ltd, has an investment of JPY 300 million ($2.8m) and capital of JPY150 million with Toshiba and Tepco each holding 50%.

Kashiwazaki-Kariwa was unaffected by the 2011 earthquake, although its reactors were all previously offline for up to three years following the 2007 Niigata-Chuetsu earthquake, which caused damage to the site but did not to the reactors. While the units were shut, work was carried out to improve the plant’s earthquake resistance. Currently, Tepco is focusing on units 6 and 7 while it deals with the Fukushima clean-up. The two units have been offline for periodic inspections since March 2012 and August 2011, and restarting them would increase Tepco’s earnings by an estimated JPY100 billion a year.

Units 6 and 7 at Kashiwazaki-Kariwa are the first BWRs to meet Japan’s revised regulatory standards. Tepco expects to complete safety upgrades at the units by December 2020.

In 2017, Tepco received initial approval from NRA to restart Kashiwazaki-Kariwa 6 and 7. The plant’s total capacity of 8,212MWe represents 20% of Japan’s nuclear capacity. Kashiwazaki-Kariwa is Tepco’s only remaining nuclear plant after it announced plans to shut its Fukushima Daini station, near the Fukushima Daichi plant destroyed in the 2011 earthquake and tsunami.

https://www.neimagazine.com/news/newstepco-and-toshiba-join-forces-to-upgrade-kashiwazaki-kariwa-nuclear-plant-7961478

June 11, 2020 Posted by | Japan | , , | Leave a comment

Japan extends 2011 disaster recovery agency’s work by 10 years

June 5, 2020

Japan’s parliament approved Friday a 10-year extension to the lifespan of the government agency overseeing reconstruction of the area devastated by the 2011 earthquake, tsunami and nuclear disaster.

The Reconstruction Agency will now continue to promote recovery in the northeastern prefecture of Fukushima, and provide support to residents there and in other northeastern regions, until March 2031. The agency said there were still more than 46,000 displaced residents as of March 11, the ninth anniversary of the triple disaster.

However, the scope of tax breaks and other special deregulatory measures will be scaled down, and resources allocated more selectively to areas where rebuilding efforts are still under way, and to businesses struggling to overcome public fears and false rumors about radiation.

jjkA man prays at a beach in Iwaki, Fukushima Prefecture, on March 11, 2020, the ninth anniversary of the 2011 earthquake-tsunami disaster in northeastern Japan.

 

Government grants for infrastructure rebuilding will be terminated at the end of the current fiscal year to March 2021, as reconstruction of roads and houses is deemed to be sufficiently complete.

The agency will continue to be headed by a full-time minister, and its budget will remain separate from the general account. Reconstruction bonds, which help finance rebuilding, will continue to be issued by the government.

Under the basic policy on 2011 quake disaster reconstruction, approved by the Cabinet in December, the government aims to complete recovery in hard-hit Fukushima, Iwate, and Miyagi prefectures in northeastern Japan in the five fiscal years through March 2026, while sustaining support for nuclear disaster-stricken areas.

https://english.kyodonews.net/news/2020/06/e6d2ac524db0-japan-extends-2011-disaster-recovery-agencys-work-by-10-years.html

June 11, 2020 Posted by | Fukushima 2020 | , , | Leave a comment

Evacuation orders to be lifted even before radiation purged

hjhkllDecontamination work continues in a part of Namie, Fukushima Prefecture, prior to the lifting of an evacuation order in April 2017.

June 3, 2020

The government is planning to create new rules to allow the lifting of evacuation orders in areas affected by the 2011 Fukushima nuclear disaster before they are thoroughly decontaminated, according to sources.

The move comes in response to requests by local municipalities in Fukushima Prefecture. But it also reflects the slow pace of the decontamination process, now in its ninth year following the triple meltdown at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant.

Evacuation orders were issued for wide areas in the prefecture after the nuclear crisis triggered by the earthquake and tsunami disaster. They remain in place for seven municipalities classified as difficult-to-return zones because radiation levels remain high.

Government officials are still mulling how to best proceed with the new option. Lifting the evacuation orders would come with certain conditions. For example, the area in question would not be used for residential purposes and the municipal government would have to first decide that decontamination is not necessary.

The central government pledged to take responsibility for decontaminating areas before allowing residents to return to their homes.

This new proposal would be the first exception created to the procedures for the lifting of evacuation orders.

Officials from the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry, which oversees the nuclear power industry, along with the Environment Ministry and the Reconstruction Agency, have all agreed to allow lifting evacuation orders for areas where decontamination is not complete, the sources said.

The Nuclear Regulation Authority will be tasked with issuing safety recommendations for lifting the orders in areas not yet purged of radioactive materials. The government headquarters that deals with the aftermath of the nuclear disaster is expected to then approve the change as early as this summer.

Evacuation orders were issued for areas where annual airborne radiation readings were higher than 20 millisieverts.

Currently, there are three main conditions that must be met before lifting the orders: annual airborne radiation levels must fall under 20 millisieverts; restoration of social infrastructure, such as the water supply, as well as decontamination, must have progressed to a reasonable degree; and sufficient discussions on the matter with the local municipal government need to have first taken place.

The revision would leave those conditions untouched and introduce a new option to allow for speeding up the process to lift the orders.

New conditions, still being discussed, would be established for areas where natural reductions in radioactive materials led to radiation levels falling under 20 millisieverts.

The evacuation order could be lifted in places not yet fully decontaminated if no residents or workers will live in that area in the future and if the local municipal government requests lifting the order.

Another condition being considered is whether municipal governments have plans for using the area, such as building parks or distribution warehouses.

Under the new proposal, the municipal government would be allowed to decide if it will require full decontamination before the evacuation order is lifted.

The central government began considering the new option after the village of Iitate submitted a request in February.

The village is located about 40 kilometers northwest of the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant. The Nagadoro district in the southern part of the village is still classified as a difficult-to-return zone. The village government asked that the evacuation order be lifted for that entire district in 2023.

Under the central government’s plan, 17 percent of that district is designated as a special zone for reconstruction. Decontamination efforts would be concentrated on that zone to allow the evacuation order to be lifted in 2023.

But with more than 80 percent of the district still under an evacuation order, and with no foreseeable date for completing the cleanup of radioactive materials there, village officials worried that partially lifting the order would drive a new wedge into what had long been a single community.

Village government officials want to construct a park in the remaining area to serve as symbol of the community’s unity.

Village officials also confirmed with the 11 households located in the area outside the special zone that they had no intention of returning to their homes, even if the evacuation order is lifted. Central government officials also learned that radiation levels for much of the Nagadoro district have fallen under 20 millisieverts.

Just like Iitate, other municipalities in Fukushima Prefecture will likely also face difficult choices. Like the Nagadoro district, other municipalities have also seen radiation levels fall under 20 millisieverts.

The slow pace of the decontamination process until now has led many evacuees to decide to remain where they are, rather than return to their homes.

Even in areas where evacuation orders have been lifted, only about 20 percent of residents had returned as of April.

Central government officials also acknowledge that the importance of decontamination has waned over the years, since relatively few residents have returned–even after the huge amounts of money spent to make communities habitable again.

About 3 trillion yen ($28 billion) has been spent on decontamination efforts to date.

http://www.asahi.com/ajw/articles/13426557

June 11, 2020 Posted by | Fukushima 2020 | , , | Leave a comment

March 2011 Disaster Museum Opens in Fukushima Prefecture

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May 30, 2020

Iwaki, Fukushima Pref., May 30 (Jiji Press)–A museum to pass down memories and lessons left by the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami to future generations opened on Saturday in Iwaki, Fukushima Prefecture, hit hard by the disaster.

“We’ll use it as a base to cultivate awareness for disaster prevention in order to develop a community that will be strong enough to overcome disasters,” Iwaki Mayor Toshio Shimizu said in a ceremony to celebrate the opening of the Iwaki 3.11 Memorial and Revitalization Museum.

Yukinaga Suzuki, 67, head of the local district, expressed hope that visitors will understand how tragic the disaster was through video materials and learn about it to ensure that there are no victims in the future.

Displays at the museum show the damage caused by the tsunami and how the northeastern Japan city accepted people forced to evacuate due to the triple meltdown at Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings Inc.’s <9501> Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant, which occurred shortly after the quake and tsunami.

The museum also displays a blackboard and desks used at a local junior high school that was demolished after being damaged in the disaster.

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https://www.nippon.com/en/news/yjj2020053000152/march-2011-disaster-museum-opens-in-fukushima-pref.html

June 11, 2020 Posted by | Fukushima 2020 | , , | Leave a comment

Federal appeals court upholds dismissal of Fukushima nuclear disaster claims

 

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May 26, 2020

The US Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit on Friday rejected an appeal brought by US servicemembers seeking damages for alleged radiation exposure from the March 2011 nuclear disaster at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant in Japan.

The lawsuit, filed in federal district court in California, aims to hold both Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO) and General Electric (GE) liable for radiation to which the servicemembers were allegedly exposed while assisting with the humanitarian relief effort in the region. TEPCO owns and operates the Fukushima plant; GE manufactured the plant’s reactors.

Each of the companies sought dismissal of the claims against it. Citing a Japanese statute called the Act on Compensation for Nuclear Damage (Compensation Act), GE argued that only TEPCO could be held liable for the plaintiffs’ alleged injuries. TEPCO, for its part, argued that the district court lacked jurisdiction to hear the case and that even if the court had jurisdiction, international comity concerns shielded TEPCO from prosecution. The district court agreed with both companies and granted their respective motions to dismiss.

In its review of the district court’s ruling, the Ninth Circuit conducted a three-part choice-of-law analysis to determine whether the Japanese Compensation Act should be applied in the instant case. First, the court observed that the Compensation Act would limit liability exclusively to TEPCO, whereas the laws of California would allow the plaintiffs to pursue claims against GE. Moving on to the next step in the analysis, the court found that both Japan and California had a legitimate interest in the application of their respective laws. The court concluded in the third part of its analysis that Japan’s interest in protecting the Japanese nuclear industry outweighed California’s interest in ensuring compensation for injured California residents. In light of this conclusion, the Ninth Circuit affirmed the district court’s decision to dismiss the claims against GE.

Finally, the Ninth Circuit held that the district court did not abuse its discretion when it ruled that international comity concerns compelled dismissal of the remaining claims against TEPCO. Although consideration of the international comity doctrine involves several factors, the court noted in particular that the Japanese government had voiced strong opposition to continuation of the proceedings in the United States, while the US government had expressed no comparable objection to adjudication of the claims in Japan.

https://www.jurist.org/news/2020/05/federal-appeals-court-upholds-dismissal-of-fukushima-nuclear-disaster-claims/?utm_medium=social&utm_source=facebook&utm_campaign=jurist-2020-05-26-133670&fbclid=IwAR3zThYcYP2f69EfeUi_qXwVJKyqZ6ELRwHi_nzRm8F4poI-URQg4XdGeVw

June 11, 2020 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , | Leave a comment

Fukushima’s radioactive water problem

Water should be stored at nuclear site, not dumped in the Pacific

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By Linda Pentz Gunter

We are republishing this story this week, as the Japanese government is now threatening the imminent dumping of the radiologically contaminated water, stored at the Fukushima nuclear site, into the Pacific Ocean. The article below provides the background on this issue and the alternative choices. Our Japanese activist friends are urging us all to sign onto their petitions — there is one for groups to sign and one for individuals — asking the Japanese government not to dump 1.2 million cubic meters of radioactive water into the ocean. Japan civil society groups and Fukushima fishing unions are strongly opposed to this needless ocean discharge. Groups please sign here. Individuals please sign here.

Original article, published September 15, 2019, follows:

Last week, Japan’s then environment minister, Yoshiaki Harada, made news with a pronouncement that wasn’t news. The storage tanks at the stricken Fukushima Daiichi nuclear site, filled with radioactive water, were reaching capacity. By 2022 there would be no room for more tanks on the present site. Japan would then have to dump the radioactive water stored in the tanks into the Pacific Ocean, he said.

Although likely unrelated to those remarks, a day later, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe dispatched 19 of his cabinet ministers, including Harada. Harada was replaced as environment minister by rising star, Shinjiro Koizumi, the son of former primer minister, Junichiro Koizumi. Both father and son are opposed to nuclear energy, and on his first day in office, the younger Koizumi told reporters that he believed Japan should end its use of nuclear energy and close its nuclear power plants.

01Shinjiro Koizumi, Japan’s new environment minister, says Japan should cease using nuclear power.

I would like to study how we scrap them, not how to retain them,” Reuters reported him saying. This is a surprising position from someone inside the fervently pro-nuclear Abe government and it remains to be seen whether he will be allowed to translate his position into policy.

Dumping Fukushima Daiichi’s accumulated radioactive water has long been the plan proposed by Tepco, the site owner. Fukushima fishermen, along with some scientists and a number of NGOs from around the world, continue to object.

We addressed this issue briefly on a recent TRT broadcast (see video below).

Cooling water is needed at the Fukushima site because, when Units 1, 2 and 3 lost power, they also lost the flow of reactor coolant, causing their cores to overheat. The fuel rods then melted, and molten fuel dripped down and burned through the pressure vessels, pooling in the primary containment vessels. Units 1, 3 and 4 also suffered hydrogen explosions. Each day, about 200 metric tons of cooling water is used to keep the three melted cores cool, lest they once more go critical. Eventually the water becomes too radioactive and thermally hot to be re-used, and must be discarded and stored in the tanks.

As Greenpeace International (GPI) explained in remarks and questions submitted during a consultative meeting held by the International Maritime Organization in August 2019:

“Since 2011, in order to cool the molten cores in the Tokyo Electric Power Company Fukushima Daiichi reactor units 1-3, water is continuously pumped through the damaged Reactor Pressure Vessels (RPVs) and circulated through reactor buildings, turbine buildings, the Process Main Building and the “High Temperature Incinerator Building”  and water treatment systems.

“As a result, the past eight years has seen a relentless increase in the volume of radioactive contaminated water accumulating on site. As of 4 July 2019, the total amount of contaminated water held in 939 storage tanks at the Fukushima Daiichi plant (units 1-4) was 1,145,694 m3 (tonnes). The majority of this, 1,041,710 m3, is contaminated processed water. In the year to April 2019, approximately 180 m3/day of water was being circulated into the RPVs of units 1-3.”

In addition to the cooling water, the tanks also house water that has run down from the nearby mountains, at a rate of about 100 tons each day. This water flows onto the site and seeps into the reactor buildings. There, it becomes radioactively contaminated and also must be collected and stored, to prevent it from flowing on down into the sea.

The water tank crisis is just one of multiple and complex problems at the Fukushima Daiichi site, including the eventual need to extract the molten fuel debris from inside the stricken reactors. Decommissioning cannot begin until the water storage tanks are removed.

Tepco has tried to mitigate the radioactive water problem in a number of ways. The infamous $320 million ice wall was an attempt to freeze and block inflow, but has had mixed results and has worked only intermittently. Wells were dug to try to divert the runoff water so it does not pick up contamination. The ice wall has reportedly reduced the flow of groundwater somewhat, but only down from 500 tons a day to about 100 tons.

In anticipation of dumping the tank water into the Pacific Ocean, Tepco has deployed an Advanced Liquid Processing System that the company claims can remove 62 isotopes from the water — all except tritium, which is radioactive hydrogen and therefore cannot be filtered out of water. (Tritium is routinely discharged by operating commercial nuclear power plants).

jkhijkTepco’s “Land-side Impermeable Wall” (Frozen soil wall).

 

But, like the ice wall, the filtration system has also been plagued by malfunctions. According to GPI, Tepco admitted only last year that the system had “failed to reduce radioactivity to levels below the regulatory limit permissible for ocean disposal” in at least 80% of the tanks’ inventory. Indeed, said GPI, “the levels of Strontium-90 are more than 100 times the regulatory standard according to TEPCO, with levels at 20,000 times above regulations in some tanks.”

The plan to dump the water has raised the ire of South Korea, whose fish stocks would likely also be contaminated. And it has introduced the question of whether such a move is a violation of The Conventions of the Rights of the Child and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, as was raised in a joint written statement by the International Association of Democratic Lawyers and Greenpeace International, before the UN Human Rights Council currently in session.

So what else could or should Tepco do, if not dump the water offshore and into the ocean? A wide consensus amongst scientific, environmental and human rights groups is that on-site storage for the indefinite future is the only acceptable option, while research must continue into possible ways to extract all of the radioactive content, including tritium.

Meanwhile, a panel of experts says it will examine a number of additional but equally problematic choices, broadly condensed into four options (each with some variations — to  dilute or not to dilute etc):

  • Ground (geosphere) injection (which could bring the isotopes in contact with groundwater);
  • Vapor release (which could infiltrate weather patterns and return as fallout);
  • Releasing it as hydrogen (it would still contain tritium gas); and
  • Solidification followed by underground burial (for which no safe, permanent storage environment has yet been found, least of all in earthquake-prone Japan).

Arnie Gundersen of Fairewinds, recommends a chemical injection processes (drilling mud) — also used by the oil industry — to stop the flow of water onto the site entirely. But he says Japan has never considered this option. GPI contends that Japan has never seriously researched any of the alternatives, sticking to the ocean dumping plan, the cheapest and fastest “fix.”

All of this mess is of course an inevitable outcome of the choice to use nuclear power in the first place. Even without an accident, no safe, permanent storage solution has been found for the high-level radioactive waste produced through daily operation of commercial nuclear power plants, never mind as the result of an accident.

According to Dr. M.V. Ramana, by far the best solution is to continue to store the radioactive water, even if that means moving some of the storage tanks to other locations to make more room for new ones at the nuclear site. The decision to dump the water, Ramana says, is in line with Abe’s attempts to whitewash the scene before the 2020 Tokyo Olympics and claim, as he has publicly in the past, that everything at Fukushima is “under control.” (Baseball and softball games will be played in Fukushima Prefecture and the torch relay will start there, all in an effort to pretend there are no dangerous nuclear after-effects remaining in the area.)

“The reason that they keep saying they need to release it is because they might have to move some of this offsite and that goes against the Abe government’s interest in creating the perception that Fukushima is a closed chapter,” Ramana wrote in an email. “So it is a political decision rather than a technical one.”

As with all things nuclear, there are diverging views on the likely impact to the marine environment and to human health, from dumping Fukushima’s radioactive water into the ocean. These run the gamut from “a little tritium won’t hurt you” to “the Pacific Ocean is dead thanks to Fukushima” — both of which are wildly untrue. (Tritium can bind organically inside the body, irradiating that person or animal from within. The many problems in the Pacific began long before Fukushima and are likely caused by numerous compounding factors, including warming and pollution, with Fukushima adding to the existing woes.)

kjjmkThe effect on deep sea creatures of radioactive ocean dumping could be long-lasting.

 

What is fact, however, is that scientists have found not only the presence of isotopes such as cesium in fish they tested, but also in ocean floor sediment. This latter has the potential to serve as a more long-term source of contamination up the food chain.

But it is also important to remember that if this radioactive water is dumped, it is not an isolated event. Radioactive contamination in our oceans is already widespread, a result of years of atmospheric atomic tests. As was reported earlier this year, scientists studying deep-sea amphipods, retrieved from some of the deepest trenches in the ocean — including the Mariana Trench which reaches 36,000 feet below sea-level and is deeper than Mount Everest is high — detected elevated levels of carbon-14 in these creatures.

“The levels closely matched abundances found near the surface of the ocean, where the amount of carbon-14 is higher than usual thanks to nuclear bomb tests conducted more than half a century ago,” reported Smithsonian Magazine.

Weidong Sun, co-author of the resulting study, told Smithsonian Magazine that “Biologically, [ocean] trenches are taken to be the most pristine habitats on Earth”.

How chilling, then, to realize that our radioactive irresponsibility has reached the lowest depths, affecting creatures far removed from our rash behaviors.

Consequently, the decision by the Japanese government to release yet more radioactive contamination into our oceans must be viewed not as a one-off act of desperation, but as a contribution to cumulative contamination. This, added to the twin tragedies of climate crisis-induced ocean warming and plastics and chemicals pollution, renders it one more crime committed on the oceans, ourselves and all living things. And it reinforces the imperative to neither continue nor increase our reckless use of nuclear power as an electricity source.

Fukushima’s radioactive water problem

June 11, 2020 Posted by | Fukushima 2020 | , , , | Leave a comment