The News That Matters about the Nuclear Industry

Regulator urges release of treated Fukushima radioactive water into sea

11 jan 2018 tritium water release pacific NRA.jpg
The chief of Japan’s nuclear regulator said Thursday water at the crisis-hit Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant that contains radioactive tritium even after being treated should be released into the sea after dilution.
“We will face a new challenge if a decision (about the release) is not made within this year,” Nuclear Regulation Authority Chairman Toyoshi Fuketa told a local mayor, referring to the more than 1 million tons of coolant water and groundwater that has accumulated at the facility crippled by the 2011 disaster triggered by a devastating quake and tsunami.
As local fishermen are worried about the negative impact from the water discharge, the Japanese government and Fukushima plant operator Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings Inc. have not made a final decision on the treated water, which is currently stored in tanks.
In his meeting with Yukiei Matsumoto, mayor of Naraha town near the Fukushima plant, Fuketa said, “It is scientifically clear that there will be no influence to marine products or to the environment” following the water release.
The nuclear regulator chief underlined the need for the government and Tepco to quickly make a decision, saying, “It will take two or three years to prepare for the water release into the sea.”
At the Fukushima plant, toxic water is building up partly because groundwater is seeping into the reactor buildings to mix with water made radioactive in the process of cooling the damaged reactors.
Such contaminated water is treated to remove radioactive materials but tritium, a radioactive substance considered relatively harmless to humans, remains in the filtered water as it is difficult to separate even after passing through a treatment process.
At other nuclear power plants, tritium-containing water is routinely dumped into the sea after it is diluted. The regulator has been calling for the release of the water after diluting it to a density lower than standards set by law.
With limited storage space for water tanks, observers warn tritium could start leaking from the Fukushima plant.
On March 11, 2011, tsunami inundated the six-reactor plant, located on ground 10 meters above sea level, and flooded the power supply facilities.
Reactor cooling systems were crippled and the Nos. 1 to 3 reactors suffered fuel meltdowns in the world’s worst nuclear catastrophe since the 1986 Chernobyl disaster.

January 11, 2018 Posted by | Fukushima 2018 | , , , , | Leave a comment

Bill calling for “immediate halt” to Japan’s reliance on nuclear power

Former Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi, far right, speaks at a press conference at the House of Representatives First Members’ Office Building in Tokyo’s Chiyoda Ward on Jan. 10, 2018, to announce the bill for a nuclear free, renewable energy plan. Sitting on the far left is former Prime Minister Morihiro Hosokawa.
Junichiro Koizumi-led group pitches bill calling for ‘immediate halt’ to Japan’s reliance on nuclear power
A group advised by former Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi on Wednesday unveiled details about a bill calling for an “immediate halt” to Japan’s reliance on nuclear power to prevent a recurrence of the 2011 Fukushima disaster. The group is seeking to submit the bill to an upcoming Diet session in cooperation with opposition parties.
Sporting his signature leonine hairdo, Koizumi, one of Japan’s most popular prime ministers in recent memory, made a rare appearance before reporters with his unabated frankness, lashing out at Prime Minister Shinzo Abe over his persistent pro-nuclear stance.
“You may think the goal of zero nuclear power is hard to achieve, but it’s not,” Koizumi said, adding that he believes many lawmakers of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party support nuclear power passively out of respect for Abe, but that they could be persuaded to embrace a zero-nuclear policy under a different leader.
“Judging from his past remarks, I don’t think we can realize zero nuclear power as long as Abe remains in power. But I do think we can make it happen if he is replaced by a prime minister willing to listen to the public,” Koizumi told a packed news conference organized by Genjiren, an anti-nuclear association for which he serves as an adviser along with Morihiro Hosokawa, another former prime minister.
Claiming that the March 2011 triple meltdown at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant exposed the “extremely dangerous” and “costly” nature of atomic power — with a means of disposing of spent fuel still not in sight — the bill drafted by Genjiren calls for Japan’s “complete switch” to renewable energy.
Specifically, it demands that all active nuclear reactors be switched offline immediately and that those currently idle never be reactivated. It also defines the government’s responsibility to initiate steps toward a mass decommissioning and to map out “foolproof and safe” plans to dispose of spent fuel rods.
The bill sets forth specific numerical targets, too, saying various sources of natural energy, including solar, wind, water and geothermal heat, should occupy more than 50 percent of the nation’s total power supply by 2030 and 100 percent by 2050.
That Japan has experienced no mass power shortage following the shutdown of all 48 reactors in the wake of the 2011 crisis, except for a handful since reactivated, is in itself a testament to the fact that “we can get by without nuclear power,” Koizumi said.
A 2017 white paper by the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry shows Japan’s reliance on nuclear power has plunged to a mere 1 percent after the Fukushima meltdowns. The vast majority of Japan’s power is supplied by sources such as liquefied natural gas, coal and oil.
Although the controversy over nuclear power has rarely emerged as a priority in recent parliamentary debates, the creation of the main opposition Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan may herald a breakthrough.
Later Wednesday, Genjiren pitched the bill to the CDP in a meeting with some of its members, including former Prime Minister Naoto Kan, who was in power when the Fukushima crisis erupted.
The CDP seeks to submit its own “zero nuclear power” bill to a regular Diet session slated to kick off later this month, positioning itself as a clearer anti-nuclear alternative to Abe’s ruling party than its predecessor, the Democratic Party.
The DP, which until recently held the most seats among opposition parties in both houses of the Diet, had failed to go all-out in crusading against nuclear power under the previous leadership of Renho, who goes by only one name.
At a party convention last March, Renho balked at adopting an ambitious target of slashing Japan’s reliance on nuclear power to zero by 2030 after reportedly facing resistance from party members beholden to the support of electricity industry unions.
In a preliminary draft unveiled Wednesday, the CDP’s bill-in-the-making called for ridding Japan of nuclear power “as soon as possible.”
Civic group proposes bill for Japan to exit nuclear power
TOKYO (Kyodo) — A Japanese civic group of activists, scholars and former politicians proposed a bill Wednesday to promote the country’s use of renewable energy and exit nuclear power in the hope of gaining the support of ruling and opposition parties.
“We will definitely realize zero nuclear plants by winning the support of many citizens,” former Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi, who serves as the group’s adviser, told a press conference.
Koizumi, whose remarks still carry influence among the public, and former Prime Minister Morihiro Hosokawa have been campaigning against the resumption of nuclear reactors taken offline after the 2011 Fukushima disaster. Hosokawa is also an adviser to the group.
The leader of the group, Tsuyoshi Yoshiwara, later exchanged views with officials of the anti-nuclear Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan, the largest opposition force in the House of Representatives. The group is urging lawmakers to submit the bill to the Diet’s ordinary session to be convened on Jan. 22.
The government led by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, who doubles as the head of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party, is promoting the restart of idle nuclear reactors.
Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga told a separate press conference Wednesday the government’s stance to bring reactors back online once they clear safety reviews of the Nuclear Regulation Authority “will not change.”
“We will also seek to lower the dependence on nuclear power as much as possible by maximizing the use of renewable energy and the thorough implementation of energy-saving measures,” the top government spokesman said.


January 11, 2018 Posted by | Japan | , , | Leave a comment

Experts doubt lifting of Japan food ban

Concerns linger about imports from nuclear radiation area
Quarantine officers inspect king crabs imported from Japan in Taicang, East China’s Jiangsu Province in December 2016.
The curbs on imports of Japanese food produced in areas hit by the country’s nuclear crisis will not be easily relaxed or lifted, and Chinese consumers won’t accept such imports given food safety concerns, experts said.
The comments came after reports in the Japanese media said that China will probably relax import restrictions on Japanese food that were put in place after the 2011 Fukushima nuclear disaster, signaling an improvement in relations between the two countries.
A report by Kyodo News Agency on January 1 said that China has proposed talks with Japan on whether to ease or lift an import ban on food from 10 prefectures imposed after the meltdown at the Fukushima No.1 nuclear plant, citing related diplomatic sources.
China has offered to set up a working group to discuss the matter in response to a request by a group of Japanese lawmakers led by Toshihiro Nikai, secretary-general of Japan’s ruling Liberal Democratic Party, who visited Beijing and held talks with the Chinese side about relaxing import restrictions on December 29, 2017, said the Kyodo report.
It also noted that Zhi Shuping, head of the General Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine (AQSIQ), China’s quality watchdog, made the proposal when he met with Nikai that day.
The AQSIQ banned imports of food produced in 10 prefectures in Japan including Miyagi, Nagano and Fukushima in 2011, amid fears of radiation contamination following the disaster.
The quality watchdog did not reply to a request for comment from the Global Times as of press time. Neither has any official statement from the Japanese side been released.
The Kyodo report said the talks were “a sign that the governments of the two countries are looking for ways to mend ties as they mark [in 2018] the 40th anniversary of the signing of the treaty of peace and friendship between Japan and China.”
But this view was seen as overly optimistic by some Chinese experts.
Chen Zilei, deputy director of the National Association for the Japanese Economy, told the Global Times on Wednesday that the beginning of such talks does not mean an easing or lifting of the ban is imminent.
“The beginning of negotiations might signal an improvement in bilateral relations, but we have our own supervision standards and requirements for imported goods, which will not be changed,” Chen said.
Besides, Japan needs to publicize the accident-related information in a more open and transparent way in order to address the concerns, Chen said, adding that this would be a prerequisite for carrying out the negotiations.
“It is also Japan’s obligation to the international community,” he noted.
Many countries and regions, including China, the US, South Korea, Singapore and the EU, have curbed imports of food products from areas near the stricken Fukushima nuclear plant over fears of potential contamination, although some have recently eased their restrictions.
The EU has decided to ease import restrictions on Japan’s farm and marine products, including rice, the Japan Times reported in November.
Consumers’ concern
Ruan Guangfeng, director of the science and technology department at the China Food Information Center, told the Global Times on Wednesday that the radiation in the areas near Fukushima has returned to the level before the disaster happened, according to the related data.
“Even if the import ban is lifted, consumers do not need to worry too much, as the import checks will only be stricter,” Ruan noted.
However, not all consumers will draw confidence from the scientific conclusion, according to Zhu Danpeng, a food industry analyst.
“In terms of the industrial side, there is no big problem based on the efforts of the Japanese government as well as the long time it has taken to restore the situation. However, it is the consumer end, which takes up 80 percent of the importance in the food industry, that plays the key role,” Zhu told the Global Times on Wednesday.
“Most consumers have a psychological barrier against accepting food from the nuclear radiation areas,” Zhu said, noting that Japanese seafood has not been very popular in the Chinese market over the past two years, partly due to increasing competition from products from countries such as Denmark, Norway and Canada.
“Friends around me have declined to eat any Japanese seafood since the accident took place since you cannot tell whether it is from the radiation-stricken area or not,” he said.

January 11, 2018 Posted by | Fukushima 2018 | , , , | Leave a comment

China must exercise caution in lifting ban on import of Japanese food

According to Kyodo News Agency, China and Japan recently held talks on whether to ease or lift the ban on food imports from 10 Japanese prefectures imposed after the 2011 Fukushima nuclear disaster, with the Chinese government offering to set up a working group on the issue. There has been no official confirmation from the Chinese side.
The earthquake, which rocked Japan in March, 2011, caused a radiation leak from the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station after which the Chinese government immediately banned food from Japanese prefectures surrounding the facility. Neither Beijing nor Tokyo has released any statement on lifting the ban, yet the Kyodo News Agency report attracted wide attention.
Since Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe returned to power in late 2012, rebuilding people’s confidence in affected areas both at home and abroad has become his major task. During the lower house election in 2014, Abe tasted grilled fish in Fukushima. When Britain’s Prince William visited Japan in 2015, Abe invited him to visit Fukushima and enjoy local food with ingredients from local producers. Japanese Foreign Minister Taro Kono brought Fukushima peach juice to British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson during his visit to the UK in December 2017.
The Abe administration has been proactively promoting the safety of Fukushima food on public occasions, with little success. According to research revealed by the NHK Broadcasting Culture Research Institute in 2016, many people are feeling more anxious about radiation in Fukushima. According to Japan’s Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, China, the US, Russia, South Korea, Singapore and other countries have kept their bans on importing food produced in some regions or sometimes from the whole country. This has been an awkward reality for Abe’s administration.
It remains to be seen whether the working group will be eventually established. But it is an indisputable fact that Abe’s administration has repeatedly requested the Chinese government to lift the ban on food imports over the past few years. For example, during the agricultural vice-ministerial meeting in Beijing in 2016, the Japanese side had hoped that China will remove food import restrictions. However, China did not give any specific reply. When Toshihiro Nikai, secretary general of Japan’s Liberal Democratic Party, visited Beijing in December last year, he also expressed his wish of easing the import ban to the head of China’s General Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine.
It can be argued that China is Japan’s primary destination for food exports from affected areas including Fukushima. This is not only because China has a huge market, but also because any Chinese move will be likely followed by other Asian countries.
With recent improvements in Sino-Japanese ties, the possibility of setting up a special working group cannot be ruled out. However, even if the group is established, Beijing may not completely lift import restrictions on Japanese food. On the one hand, the key to lifting the ban lies in whether food products from Japan can meet Chinese standards. On the other, Chinese people’s doubts over the food in the affected areas also play a crucial role. Even if imported food from Japan’s disaster-affected region passed Chinese tests, it is not very likely to appear on Chinese dining tables given the distrust of the Chinese public.
China and Japan are lately cooperating in a number of fields including economy and politics. Import and export of agricultural products is a vital link in the cooperation trail. According to a Xinhua report in March, some food from Japan’s affected areas was flowing to China via e-commerce platforms, posing a severe safety risk to Chinese consumers. Therefore, when it comes to lifting the ban on food from disaster affected areas, China should exercise caution. Political interaction is important, but people’s well-being is above all.
By Chen Yang Source:Global Times Published
The author is a PhD candidate at the Graduate School of Sociology at Toyo University.

January 9, 2018 Posted by | Fukushima 2018 | , , , | Leave a comment


By Cécile Asanuma-Brice,
Researcher in urban sociology,
Franco-Japanese Institute Tokyo UMIFRE 19-CNRS /
CLERSE Laboratory, University Lille 1-CNRS
Translation Hervé Courtois & Kingsley Osborn
The explosion of the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant on 11 March 2011 caused serious radioactive contamination that forced tens of thousands of people to flee their homes. Because this proves the impossibility of managing a nuclear accident, the refuge is not desired by the national authorities who opted for a nuclear action, nor by the international authorities. At first the authorities provided aid and shelter, but all aid was interrupted in April 2017 at the same time as the reopening of part of the former evacuation zone in order to force the migrants to return to life in the contaminated territories.
Chapter breakdown
– Summary
– A morning like any other
– The effects of resilience
– This new earthquake revives anger
– Despite common sense, the return to the former evacuation zone organized by the authorities takes place
– What is the real situation?
– Progress, and life: what science is entitled to question
We can not finish counting the years of what we have too quickly called the “after” Fukushima , however we might wish it, as the ‘’after’’ hour has not yet come. The situation has never stopped deteriorating. The insolvable problems are still too numerous on the nuclear plant site for one to evoke an “after” which would suggest a resolved situation allowing a new beginning. While information on the subject is scarce, and attempts to respond to a self-appeasing desire under the approval of the international authorities in charge of the issue by propagating the magic formula of “everything is fine”, in fact this is not the truth. Far from being “under control”, the management of this disaster resulting in the destruction of 40% of the prefecture’s landscape continues its course, showing every day the human inability to contain the nuclear disaster. After so many years, the corium [1] of reactors 1, 2, and 3 have still not been detected. The only information we have is that they are no longer in the tanks. More than 800 tons of highly radioactive material has escaped from its confinement to penetrate the groundwater. The position of the material cannot even be pinpointed precisely because of a high level of radioactivity preventing humans, and even robots, from approaching it. The coriums must be permanently cooled, during all these years, by more than 300 tons of water [2] which daily become contaminated in contact with the radioactive material. This highly contaminated water is in turn stored in tanks around the reactors, nearly one million cubic meters stored at present. Authorities regularly announce dumping some of the water in the sea because of the inability to store all the liquid. No solution has yet been found at this barrel of Danaides, subject to human management and its mistakes. Thus, in December 2016 the injection of cooling water into the reactor 3 was suspended inadvertently…
Figure 1. Map of the distribution of contamination in Bq / m² (Source: Japanese Ministry of Education and Research, September 2011. Translation and adaptation: Cécile Asanuma-Brice, Géoconfluences, 2017.)
It is not without surprise that we see the ardor of international organizations, as well as the Japanese government, wanting to force home the people who fled in the aftermath of the March 11, 2011 disaster, generating waves of migrations towards the south of the country, most generally towards the urbanized zones. More than six years after the explosion of the plant, and present more than ever on this rural territory, the members of the institutions engaged in the nuclear world [3], engage in “humanitarian work” in defense of peasants at risk, praising the benefits of resilience (Asanuma-Brice, 2015), pointing out the sufferings of becoming refugee and the health consequences of the stress in the face of the disaster, while however at the same time displaying an agnostic attitude to the epidemiological results now showing more than 184 children under 18 as having to be operated on for cancer of the thyroid out of a limited sample of 270,500 people [4]. This point, taboo in political and scientific institutional circles, is nevertheless fundamental, because it is this assessment that determines the protection policies to be implemented, or not, in the event of an accident. If the explosion of a nuclear power plant and the dispersion of the isotopes it contains are not dangerous for health and for life as a whole ,then why? Why leave in the event of an explosion? Why evacuate the populations whose community life destroyed? Why spend so much money decontaminating? Why the need to create specific research centers on radio-protection since it would be useless to protect oneself from it? And finally, why use these same harmless isotopes to achieve the ultimate weapon of destruction that is brandished in the face of the world at every diplomatic tension? In short, we need to restore consistency in our discourse and analysis. If the inhabitants of Fukushima have taken refuge, or have been evacuated (even if the evacuation organized by the administration was very late) it is because there is a real danger which we all know, scientists, military and citizens.
Our critical position as an urbanist is to propose in this text an assessment of the migratory situation and measures developed for the control of population movements, especially through housing policies, but also through attempts to revive the local economy in Fukushima six years after the disaster. Our analysis presents the results of studies carried out on the psychological effects of policies compelling residents to return to the territories of the former evacuation zone while the situation is still unstable, and we question the motivations behind the political will to return populations to areas still contaminated.
For six years now, we have been going to the scene of the disaster every month to follow as closely as possible not only the protection policies or management implemented by the various administrative bodies, but also by the populations themselves. Follow-up was done by regular queries, in the form of interviews, at the various temporary housing locations, with the associations in charge of the accompaniment to the shelter or to the health follow-up, with the inhabitants, refugees or not, as national and international administrators. This also led us to participate in various workshops and symposia organized by these different actors. They took part in the international conferences that we conducted each year, embracing the most diverse themes related to this disaster.
At first, however, we must give back to these analyses the context that is theirs, a land, that of Japan, whose seismic environment remains restless and will continue to be so because the country is a volcanic archipelago, located at the junction between the Eurasian plate, the sub-plate called “Love” to the west, that of Okinawa and that of the Yangze (north / south), the Philippine plate to the south, the Pacific plate to the east, and the Okhotsk plate to the north. Such a location leads us to think that human temerity cannot ignore the cause of earthquakes, which won’t be stopped by political arrogance.
A morning like any other
November 22, 2016, 6 am, Kanagawa Prefecture, south of Tokyo. The walls are shaking and the floor is spinning slowly, endless seconds. The commentator responsible for informing about the situation broadcasts in a repeating loop, “A tsunami is coming, run away quickly! Be sure to flee! Remember the March 2011 earthquake! Do not go to see the tides, run away to the mountains, hills or somewhere high enough to shelter yourself, run away! “.
With tight throats, glued on TVs that loop images of seashores on which are displayed in red capital letters, “Tsunami! Flee away! ” we become aware of the situation; a magnitude 7.3 earthquake occurred 75 km from the Fukushima shoreline, recording level 5 shocks. The vertical movements of the tectonic plates pose a risk of imminent tsunami. At 8 am, tsunamis of various heights have already reached the Tohoku shores of Chiba, measured up to 1.4 m in the port of Sendai, and 1 m in each of the two nuclear power plants at Fukushima. Because it is there that all eyes are fixed. Not without reason. About an hour after the earthquake, the cooling system of building 3 of the Fukushima Dai-ni power plant breaks down due to strong shocks, according to the authorities. We hold our breath…. An hour and a half later, to the relief of everyone, the system is reset.
The effects of resilience
[5]During the entire morning of November 22, speakers and televisions constantly order the inhabitants to take refuge, the journalists posted on the places envisaged for this purpose are, to our astonishment, surrounded by only a few people. “All the trauma came back with this earthquake. Most people could not move from home, as if paralyzed, overwhelmed by the despair of all those years when the practice of moving into shelter has remained impossible for most of us. Seniors in temporary housing turned off their television sets and acted as if nothing had happened.” (Mari Suzuki, resident of Iwaki, Fukushima Prefecture). The resilience advocated by the national and international authorities who participated in the management of the consequences of the 2011 nuclear accident has emerged, despite the will of the victims. The population of areas polluted by radioactivity whose land has not been retained in the evacuation zone, are for the most part in a state of advanced depression, after five years of fighting for recognition of their right to refuge remains unanswered. Additionally, the government announced the reopening of part of the still unstable evacuation zone around the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant as of March 2017,in fact causing the cessation of payment of monthly compensation used by some to relocate elsewhere and the closure of temporary housing. This constraint to return is mentally unbearable for people who have rebuilt their lives in host communities with a more stable environment.
This new earthquake revives anger
Hiroki Suzuki, a journalist in his forties, came to the gates of the evacuation zone a few hours after the earthquake. He waves his dosimeter which displays 7.09 microsievert / hour [6], while the natural average in the region was 0.04 microsievert / hour before the accident. “Look, we are lied. Still, always lied to …’’ he exclaims, without being able to hide a rage tinged with despair. Yet it was crossing this border of the evacuation zone two days earlier, that Professor Hayano of the University of Tokyo organized an inspection trip of the works at the nuclear power plant and of the evacuation zone, accompanied by thirteen high school students dressed in their simple school uniforms, without any type of protection. The earthquake occurred just after the study trip had generated a wave of discontent among residents, as reflected on social networks. Participant in several public revitalization projects in the region is Professor Hayano, among them is the ETHOS project conducted with the collaboration of IRSN, a project today at term to teach residents to live in a contaminated environment with a view to economic rationalization of the management of the consequences of a nuclear accident. As an adept of resilience, Professor Hayano ignores the consequences of a nuclear accident, ignoring hundreds of epidemiological studies on the issue, believing that fear of radioactivity is not justified. This initiatory trip was therefore intended to show students that they were not struck by radioactivity even though they would go to areas where the irradiation was highest, and that fear should give way to managerial reason. This attitude, considered irresponsible by many colleagues, ignores the most basic knowledge of radiation protection, that radioactivity acts on the human body, not suddenly, but in a process that spans several years.
This episode will have marked the people’s minds, because neither the seismic situation, the level of radioactivity nor the operating status of nuclear power plants (the November 22 earthquake proved it again with a new failure of the cooling system) should not allow such political tranquility. By a correlation, since the magnitude 7.8 New Zealand earthquake of November 13, 2016, we expected a new earthquake in Japan. Not by the law of series, but according to the tectonic sequence observed in 2011, when the Japanese earthquake was preceded by the earthquake of Christchurch in New Zealand, of magnitude 6.3. This phenomenon was verified during the Kumamoto earthquake in southern Japan on Kyushu Island, April 20, 2016, also announced by an earthquake in Christchurch February 14, of magnitude 5.8. This combination of earthquakes is the result of the pressures caused by the Pacific plate common to both archipelagos.
Thus, if the tsunami warning was suspended on the entire area a few hours after the earthquake, the number of replicates left a heavy concern. In just over a day no less than 90 aftershocks were recorded. The earthquake of November 22, 2016, followed by a strong aftershock on November 24 of magnitude 6.1 was accompanied by a new earthquake in New Zealand of magnitude 6.3 which, according to the director of earthquake information planning, Mr. Kouji Nakamura, would predict a new class 7 earthquake in Japan in the following months.
Despite common sense, the return to the former evacuation zone organized by the authorities takes place
Mr. Nakamura’s predictions were not long in coming. On February 26, 2017, at 4.49 pm, a new earthquake of magnitude 5 shook the ground of Fukushima but nothing disturbed the decision of programmed return made in 2013, the date when the Japanese government established a large budget, split among all the ministries and intended to develop risk communication in order to influence populations about their return. In April 2017, the Japanese government reopened a part of the evacuation zone around the Dai-ichi nuclear power plant, simultaneously lifting housing aid for the refugee population. Other incentives such as tax exemption for those planning to build new homes in the area are also introduced [7]. Following imperturbably the planning developed several years upstream, which in essence is disconnected from the present situation, and to the astonishment of the international institutions responsible for managing the nuclear issue, committed to setting up a management system that allows the existence of nuclear power, the Japanese government compels the population to return to live on areas still sometimes highly contaminated, by gradually abolitshing the evacuation zone (Figure 2).
Figure 2. Prohibited areas and return area in Fukushima Prefecture (Source of maps: METI Translation and adaptation: Cécile Asanuma-Brice, Géoconfluences, 2017.)
Figure 3. Reopening of the village of Iitate. Authorities greet residents under a meter displaying 0, 21 microsievert / h, with the greeting used when a family member comes home: “Welcome back! (Source of the Image: Kyodo News)
In fact, public investments for reconstruction have often been pharaonic for the construction of oversized buildings for an absent population. Thus, the only municipality of Iitate will receive a budget of 1.7 billion euros for the reconstruction of various public facilities. Only 10 to 20 percent of the population has returned to most villages, despite the constraints they face.
A resident of the village of Iitate declared on February 19, 2017, during a conference organized in Fukushima by researchers and former inhabitants of the village: “We are told that there is no problem. Just do not go on the “hot spots”. You can not go to the mountains, nor go near the rivers, do not go to the right or to the left … How do you want us to live here ?! “. A former member of the communal council, testifies: We moved six years ago now. Why should we return to a desert village where the environment does not allow us to live freely and safely? [8].
What is the real situation?
Figure 4. Estimated total of refugees is 39 600 person on February 2017
Source : Official data, published by Fukushima Minpo Journal on March 2017. Translation : Cécile Asanuma-Brice. Realisation : J.-B. Bouron, Géoconfluences, 2017.
Since most people did not register in the refugee counting database, it is difficult to establish an accurate mapping of the situation. Nevertheless, the map at the time of the facts allows us to establish trends (Asanuma-Brice, 2014). It reported 160,000 refugees by the time they were highest in May 2012.The inhabitants had mainly taken refuge in the countryside of the surrounding Prefectures (Yamagata, Niigata), as well as in the capital, Tokyo [9].
Figure 5. Number of refugees in and out of Fukushima Prefecture (Source: according to official data, relayed by Fukushima Minpo newspaper, March 3, 2017. Translation-adaptation: Cécile Asanuma-Brice and Géoconfluences, 2017.)
Six years later, the authorities estimate this figure at 80,000 refugees, including 40,000 outside the department, and 40,000 internally displaced persons. However, the distribution has changed somewhat as the majority of refugees outside the Prefecture are now exclusively located in Tokyo and 80% of these people would be relocated to rental apartments in the public or private sector [10]. This figure does not include all persons whose refugee status has changed to that of a migrant, all those who, after six years spent outside their village, have rebuilt their lives elsewhere and have administratively registered their move to another municipality.
This leads us to question the relevance of the term “refugee”, because most evacuees “voluntarily” or not, have rebuilt their lives, failing to rebuild their environment, elsewhere. Six years. This corresponds to a complete school cycle, which is why most families with children no longer plan to return to live in the area. They… moved.
The situation is harder for the elderly. Some of them have been relocated to the 15,561 temporary housing units built inside the Prefecture. Thus those over 65 years old represent more than 40% of the people relocated in these so-called “temporary” cities. For the most part, these people had to agree to move to collective public housing built for this purpose and are, in fact, no longer included in the figures for refugees. While in July 2012, 33,016 inhabitants lived in these temporary housing, this figure drops to 12,381 in February 2017, reaching the lowest rates after April 2017. As of January 31, 2017, 3,028 public rental units of the 4,890 originally planned were built in 15 municipalities in the Prefecture (Figure 6).
Figure 6. Map of dwellings built for refugees in Fukushima Prefecture (Data source: Fukushima Minpo, March 3, 2017. Translation-adaptation: Cécile Asanuma-Brice and Géoconfluences, 2017.)
Another portion of seniors lived, since the happening, in a private rental park. Renting an apartment in the city was often seen as temporary, waiting for the results of the gigantic policy of public decontamination. People have been left in hope for two years, and then the government stopped providing them with housing assistance, pretending that it is possible to return. Some reconnaissance trips to the scene are enough to awaken their conscience. The landscapes have been destroyed by decontamination, scraped soils, torn trees, sacks of contaminated soil extending as far as the eye can see in the fields. The house has deteriorated. Habitat rehabilitation companies are no longer there, nor are there any neighbors. Their children, grandchildren, have started a new life elsewhere and do not want to come back to an environment that still has high levels of contamination. It is, however, impossible for them to maintain their large farm buildings alone; empty, heavy, are these stones, like their spirits drowned in an ultimate hope forever unfulfilled. Those who try to return fall into a depressive spiral that leads to suicide for majority of them.
A documentary made by the NHK on January 9, 2017 tries to sound the alarm, but to no avail. Titled “And yet, I tried to live” [11], it bears witness to the end of life of these people, mostly elderly, victims of an isolation that will often be fatal to them. Professor Tsukiji [12], Waseda University, psychologist and director of the Disaster Situations Laboratory published the results of a study proving that the constraints to return on these still unstable territories would generate a consequent wave of suicides. It remains inconsequential on the planning decision-making machine that was put in place four years earlier. These human sacrifices are accepted by all in the silence of a world that continues to be nuclearized.
Progress, and life: what science is entitled to question
This brings us back to a larger reflection developed by Max Weber a century ago, who himself used the writings of Leo Tolstoy about the meaning of death in our civilized societies. According to him, death for the civilized man (Kulturmensch) cannot make sense in that the life of each individual is constitutive of an infinite process which he seeks: progress. Nobody will ever be able to reach a goal, a climax, since progress is an infinite process. In this the finite time of life is only part of its momentum. Weber connects this reflection with another that I think is fundamental to put in the agora of sciences (human or not): “Does progress “, as such, have a discernible meaning beyond the technique, so that putting oneself to its service would be a meaningful vocation? ” (Weber, 1969). This question, formulated a century ago, remains unansswered; our societies continue to multiply human sacrifices on the altar of innovation for a purpose whose existence is not on a human scale.
Researcher in urban sociology, Franco-Japanese Institute Tokyo UMIFRE 19-CNRS / CLERSE Laboratory, University Lille 1-CNRS
Notes :
[1] Corium: Technical term for the core of nuclear reactors.
[2] Data from TEPCO, January 27, 2017.
[3] IAEA: National Agency for Atomic Energy, the CEPN: Center for the Study on the Evaluation of Protection in the Nuclear Field, or the IRSN: Institute for Radioprotection and Nuclear Safety.
[4] According to the results of the sanitary committee official returns on February 20, 2017.
[5] On Resilience, refer to our article: C. Asanuma-Brice (23 November 2015) “From Vulnerability to Resilience, Reflections on Protection in the Event of Extreme Disasters”, Public Reason Review.
6] The microsievert / hour is the unit generally used to measure the impact of radioactive radiation on humans.
[7] Minpo Journal, January 18, 2017
[8] Conference on the return of the inhabitants of Iitate (Fukushima) 19.02.2017
[9] Regarding the housing policies set up after the disaster, see our article: C. Asanuma-Brice (2011), “Japanese social housing, when the notion of” public “is right,” Revue Urbanisme, Nov. 2011.
[10] Survey of March 13, 2017, Fukushima Prefecture
[11] NHK, 2017
[12] Takuya Tsujiuchi Waseda Institute of Medical Anthropology on Disaster Reconstruction, “Mental Health Impact of the Fukushima Nuclear Disaster: Post-Traumatic Stress and Psycho-socio-economic Factors”, Fukushima Global Communication Program, working paper series, number 8, December 2015.
Scientific articles and publications
Anders Gunther, 2006, La menace nucléaire : considérations radicales sous l’âge atomique, Broché.
Arendt Hannah, 1967, Responsabilité et jugement, Poche.
Asanuma-Brice Cécile, 2017, “Atomic Fission and Japan’s Nuclear Meltdown: When politics prevails over scientific proof”, in Christophe Thouny et Mitsuhiro Yoshimoto (dir.), Planetary Atmospheres and Urban Society After Fukushima, Singapore, Springer Verlag, pp. 95-112.
Asanuma-Brice Cécile, 2016, « À Fukushima, la population est dans une situation inextricable », Le Journal du CNRS.
Asanuma-Brice Cécile, 2016, « La mémoire de l’oubli, une forme de résistance à la résilience », publication des actes du colloque « Après le désastre, réponses commémoratives et culturelles », Université de Tokyo.
Asanuma-Brice Cécile, 2015, « De la vulnérabilité à la résilience, réflexions sur la protection en cas de désastre extrême : le cas de la gestion des conséquences de l’explosion d’une centrale nucléaire à Fukushima », Revue Raison Publique.
Asanuma-Brice Cécile, 2014, “Beyond reality: The management of migratory flows in a nuclear catastrophe by a pro-nuclear State”, The Asia-Pacific Journal, vol. 12-1, November.
Asanuma-Brice Cécile, 2012, « Les politiques publiques du logement face à la catastrophe du 11 mars », Ebisu, n° 47, juin.
Beck Ulrich, 2003, La société du risque, Paris, Flammarion, 521 p.
Brown Kate, 2015, Plutopia : Nuclear Families, Atomic cities, and the great soviet and american plutonium disasters, Oxford University
Bruno Tino, 2016, « Presse et nucléaire au Japon ─ De Hiroshima à Tôkaimura(1945-1957) », Ritsumeikan
Takuya Tsujiuchi, Maya Yamaguchi, Kazutaka Masuda, Marisa Tsuchida, Tadashi Inomata, Hiroaki Kumano, Yasushi Kikuchi, Eugene F. Augusterfer, Richard F. Mollica, 2016, High Prevalence of Post-Traumatic Stress Symptoms in Relation to Social Factors in Affected Population One Year after the Fukushima Nuclear Disaster
Hecht Gabrielle, 2004, Le Rayonnement de la France. Énergie nucléaire et identité nationale après la seconde guerre mondiale, Paris, La Découverte.
Jonas Hans, 1979, Le principe de responsabilité, Flammarion, Champs essai.
影浦 峡(2011)3.11後の放射能「安全」報道を読み解く: 社会情報リテラシー実践講座 、岩波科学 — Kageura Kyo, 2011, Déchiffrer les rapports concernant la contamination “fiable”/”sûre” après le 3.11 : cours pratiques d’initiation au décodage de la littérature concernant l’information sociale”, édition scientifiques Iwanami [en japonais]
影浦 峡(2013)信頼の条件―原発事故をめぐることば 、岩波科学 — Kageura Kyo, 2013, Les conditions de la confiance – Les paroles autour du nucléaire, édition scientifiques Iwanami [en japonais]
Pelletier Philippe, 2012 « La guerre de Fukushima », Hérodote, 2012/3 (n° 146-147), p. 277-307.
Ribault Thierry et Ribault Nadine, 2012, Les sancuaires de l’abîme. Édition L’encyclopédie des nuisances.
Riesel René, 2008, « À propos du désastre en cours », in Catastrophisme, administration du désastre, et soumission durable, Édition L’encyclopédie des nuisances.
Semprun Jaime, 1986, La nucléarisation du monde, Ivrea.
Shinobu Goto (2016), “Fairness in Educational Materials on Nuclear Power and Radiation by the Japanese Government for Formal Education”, The International Journal of Sustainability Education, Volume 12, Issue 2.
Study 2007, (2015), 見捨てられた初期被曝, 岩波科学ライブラリー2015 — Study 2007, Les irradiés abandonnés de la première vague de contamination, Éditions de la Librairie scientifique d’Iwanami [en japonais]
Thébaud-Mony Annie, 2008, Travailler peut nuire gravement à votre santé. Sous-traitance des risques, mise en danger d’autrui, atteinte à la dignité…, La Découverte, 2008. Compte-rendu d’Igor Martinache dans Lectures.
Weber Max, 1963, Le savant et le politique, conférences à l’université de Munich de 1917 à 1919, Paris, Éditions 10-18.
Press and public publications of the author
Asanuma-Brice Cécile, 2017, « Fukushima : une catastrophe sans fin », Sciences et avenir.
Asanuma-Brice Cécile, 2016, « Fukushima, Temps de la fin contre fin des temps », Sciences et avenir, 21 mars 2016.
Asanuma-Brice Cécile, 2016, « Japon : “La centrale nucléaire de Sendai réveille le traumatisme de mars 2011” », Le Monde.
Asanuma-Brice Cécile, 2015, « Fukushima, Bilan d’une situation sanitaire inquiétante », Médiapart, octobre 2015.
Asanuma-Brice Cécile, 2014, « La légende Fukushima », Libération, septembre 2014.
Asanuma-Brice Cécile et Ribault Thierry, 2013, « “Crime d’Etat” à Fukushima : “L’unique solution est la fuite” », Le Nouvel Observateur-Rue 89, juillet 2013.
Asanuma-Brice Cécile, 2011, « La réouverture contestée des écoles irradiées de Fukushima », Le Nouvel Observateur-Rue 89, Mai 2011.
Source :
Cécile Asanuma-Brice, « Les migrants du nucléaire », Géoconfluences, octobre 2017.

January 8, 2018 Posted by | Fukushima 2018 | , , , , , | Leave a comment

KEPCO studying moving spent nuclear fuel from Fukui to Aomori

Kansai Electric Power Co. is considering transferring spent nuclear fuel stored in its three nuclear plants in Fukui Prefecture to an intermediate storage facility in Aomori Prefecture, sources said on Jan. 6.
KEPCO had promised to move the fuel outside the prefecture when the Fukui prefectural government allowed the utility to restart two reactors at its Oi nuclear power plant.
KEPCO President Shigeki Iwane has said that a facility will be secured by the end of 2018 to accept the fuel.
According to the sources, KEPCO is also considering other locations. However, the intermediate storage facility, located in Mutsu in northern Aomori Prefecture, is a promising candidate because it has already been constructed.
However, since consent from local governments is required, KEPCO could face difficulties in transferring the fuel to the facility.
At present, KEPCO is storing spent nuclear fuel, which is produced in its Takahama, Oi and Mihama nuclear power plants in Fukui Prefecture, in pools in their compounds. However, about 70 percent of the capacity of those pools have been filled.
If the restarts of the reactors in the plants proceed as expected, the remaining 30 percent will also be filled in about seven years. Therefore, KEPCO is trying to secure an intermediate storage facility to temporarily store the fuel by putting it in metal containers.
The intermediate storage facility in Mutsu was jointly constructed by Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings Inc. and Japan Atomic Power Co. at a cost of about 100 billion yen ($884.6 million) to store spent nuclear fuel produced by their nuclear plants.
However, acceptance of the fuel from those plants has yet to start because the facility is currently undergoing screenings to see if it is in compliance with new safety standards introduced after the 2011 Fukushima nuclear disaster.
The intermediate storage facility has a capacity of accepting a total of 5,000 tons of spent nuclear fuel.
KEPCO is considering securing storage space there by purchasing part of the shares of a company that will operate the facility.

January 8, 2018 Posted by | Japan | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Ryan Smith, alias Jon Doe, death in Tokyo

A very sad news.
This morning I just learned from a friend that our Rainbow Warrior Ryan Dale Smith had passed away this mid- December. How sad.
I never had the chance to meet him personally, but I did follow his Jon Doe Youtube videos, which I found quite interesting. I used to enjoy talking to him and looked forward to meeting him someday in Tokyo.
He had reported on Fukushima from inside Japan very courageously since day one during the past years. One of the very few to do it with quality and no nonsense.
Ryan Dale Smith was a rough uncut diamond shining by his wits and his sincerity. His deeply-felt loyalty to the working class shined out.
As Marleen Gillespie says: “Those who care so deeply for the needs of others often suffer from the pain of carying the weight of the world on their shoulders. The blessing they are to the world far too often also leaves a deep, unhealing personal wound. But, they must be treasured for the beautiful blessings they are, not the injury that took them from us.”
His Mother has left a message on his FB page Ryan Dale Smith if anyone wants to pay their respects to her and the family
We will miss you Ryan. Peace to your soul on your journey.
My condolences to his wife and daughter, and mother.
Ryan Smith: Father, husband, communist
During the early hours of Tuesday, Dec. 12, Tozen Union member Ryan Smith (aka Jon Doe) passed away. He was 37.
He is survived by his wife, Makiko Kono, his 1-year-old daughter, Kayla, and his mother, Carrie Lester Plaster.
From Athens, West Virginia, Ryan studied journalism at Concord University. He moved to Japan in 2008 and taught English to adults and children.
Ryan loved to talk politics and never missed a chance to declare his commitment to Marxist revolution and his pride in his rural, working-class roots. His YouTube channel has over 1,800 subscribers.
But he loved nothing as much as his tiny daughter, Kayla. Since her birth, nearly every Facebook entry he posted included photos or video of her.
Just a random post on his account since his death gives an idea how loved and missed he is:
“As they lay you to rest this day I can only pray your restless soul is at peace. The impact your life had on so many cannot be ignored. May MK find strength to carry on your memory for Kayla. God speed, Ryan. I know the brightest star in tonight’s sky is you.”
But the best way to capture the man and his spirit is to quote something he wrote on the site two days before his death:
“I don’t believe in God, but I believe that humans have a special spark in them. I don’t believe humans have a soul, but I know there is a common feeling which binds all of humanity.
“I don’t believe in heaven or hell, but I know those who stomp on their fellow human beings have to hide from the rest of us to avoid being hung by a rope in the streets.
“I know right from wrong. I know it’s wrong the way capitalists treat working people. I don’t need a god or soul to understand that capitalists are bad people.”

January 5, 2018 Posted by | Fukushima 2018 | , , | Leave a comment

Sailors Fight to Keep Fukushima Radiation Case in US

SAN DIEGO (CN) – Former Senator John Edwards and his co-counsel on Thursday asked a federal judge not to transfer to Japan a class action by hundreds of U.S. sailors exposed to radiation in the Fukushima nuclear disaster.
An initial group of sailors sued Tokyo Electric Power Co. (TepCo) and General Electric in 2012. A second class action from sailors sent to render aid after the earthquake and tsunami was filed in San Diego Federal Court last August.
The March 11, 2011 tsunami caused the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant to shut down, but loss of circulation water coolant led to meltdowns and explosions whose radioactive releases may not be completely cleaned up for centuries.
More than 420 U.S. service members in the two cases seek compensation and medical monitoring, testing and health care costs for exposure to radiation. Some sailors have died from complications of radiation exposure since the cases were filed, and more than 20 are living with cancer, according to the lawsuits.
U.S. District Judge Janis Sammartino on Thursday considered motions to dismiss from TepCo and GE. They claim that California courts have no jurisdiction over events in Japan. Sammartino also considered a choice-of-law motion from General Electric, which wants to apply Japanese law to the case or have it transferred to Japan.
TepCo operated the Fukushima nuclear plant; GE designed its nuclear reactors.
TepCo attorney Gregory Stone, with Munger, Tolles & Olson in Los Angeles, said all claims brought in the United States could be brought in Japan and that the statute of limitations has not run out in Japan’s court system.
GE attorney Michael Schissel, with Arnold & Porter in New York, said the case belongs in Japan, where the facts originated and the witnesses are. Schissel said the Japanese government declared the nuclear meltdown was not a natural disaster, so TepCo could be held liable for damages.
But Edwards, whose firm Edwards Kirby is based in North Carolina, said it’s important to look at the situation “from altitude,” to see things from the sailors’ perspective.
“These are American sailors, American employees serving their country, who were sent on American ships on international waters at the request of the Japanese government … their ally, which owns the majority of stock in defendant TepCo,” Edwards said.
“Being on an American ship in international waters puts you on American soil.”
Edwards said that since the vast majority of the sailor-plaintiffs were stationed in San Diego and GE designed the nuclear reactors at its San Jose headquarters, the case belongs in California.
“They want the case in Japan because they know it goes away; that’s clearly their strategy,” Edwards said.
He added: “This case screams federal jurisdiction; this case screams United States of America. The underlying concept of this whole thing is fundamental and basic notions of fairness being met.”
Edwards’ co-counsel Charles Bonner, with Bonner & Bonner in Sausalito, said if the case were transferred to Japan, where GE could be dismissed as a defendant, GE could “continue building their defective reactors with impunity.”
Bonner added that California has a vested interest in applying its own laws, including strict liability for defective products, and punitive damages to deter companies from selling defective products. He pointed out that one-sixth of the U.S. Navy is based in San Diego, with 69 Navy ships in San Diego Harbor.
“(Japan’s) compensation act has not been applied to their own citizens, only businesses. Why should we speculate their compensation act will help our sailors? It will not,” Bonner said.
Stone countered that Bonner was “simply wrong” in claiming that the Japanese nuclear damage compensation act had not benefited individual Japanese citizens. He said it is the conduct of defendants TepCo and GE – which occurred in Japan – and not the plaintiffs’ place of residence that should determine jurisdiction over the case.
Sammartino indicated she will want further briefing from the attorneys before ruling on the motion to dismiss.

January 5, 2018 Posted by | Fukushima 2018 | , , , | Leave a comment

How the science of radiation protection was subverted to protect nuclear bombs and nuclear power


From Richard Bramhall

Low Level Radiation Campaign

This article was originally written for Radioactive Times in 2008. I didn’t set out to write the whole history of radiation protection – just to highlight the turning point when the bogus concept of absorbed dose was foisted on the world.

The nonsense of Absorbed Dose

Absorbed doses of ionising radiation are defined as an average of the energy that is transferred into large volumes of body tissue. This approach is valid for considering external exposures, like X-rays or natural gamma (cosmic rays) but not for situations where radioactive substances inside the body irradiate microscopic volume of tissue selectively. Particles of Uranium and Plutonium are examples; the range of their alpha emissions is so tiny that all the energy is concentrated into a few hundred cells. Some call this kind of situation “pinpoint radiation”. Using absorbed dose to assess the potential health damage is like a doctor examining a child whose skin is covered with small red marks.

Now look, Mrs. Smith, I’m a doctor and I’m telling you even if your lodger does stub out his cigarette on little Nelly’s tummy there’s no problem because she absorbs very little energy from it. You give her a far bigger dose when you put in her a nice warm bath.

The trick was pulled in the depths of World War 2, subverting the science of radiation protection in order to protect the Manhattan Project and the A-bomb; it has served to protect the nuclear industry ever since.

Radium autopsies and internal risk standards

Until the 1920s the main focus of radiation protection was external X-rays, but the Radium dial painters’ scandal made it obvious that internal effects needed specific investigation. This led to new standards determined by looking at the actual effects of radium in the dissected tissues of people.

Radium is produced by the radioactive decay of natural Uranium. Its own radioactive decay emits alpha particles. Unlike X-rays and gamma rays, alphas have very little penetrating power so they are only hazardous once they’re inside the body. Even then they don’t travel far but the downside is that all their energy is deposited in a very small volume of cells.

From the earliest years of the 20th century luminous Radium paint was applied to the faces of clocks, watches and compasses to make them glow in the dark. World War 1 boosted demand and through the following decades hundreds of girls and women were employed to paint dials and pointers with various brands of paint – Undark, Luna and Marvelite. They would routinely put the tips of their paint brushes between their lips to obtain a fine point for the trickier numerals. By 1923 it was clear that the Radium they thus ingested was causing dreadful, agonising and frequently fatal illnesses.

Radium mostly lodges in bone, so the diseases affected the blood-forming function of the women’s bone marrow, leading to anaemia. Those with higher body burdens had ulcers and their bones were weakened to the point where vertebrae collapsed and legs would break spontaneously. The first deaths directly attributed to Radium Necrosis came in 1925. The inventor of the Undark brand died like his workers, his bone marrow destroyed and his hands, mouth and jaw bones eaten away. Court cases, compensation payments and improved workplace practices followed (a ban on licking brushes was the first) but for a decade and a half there were no mandatory exposure limits.

By 1941 America was once more tooling up for industrialised warfare and the government was ordering large numbers of luminized instruments. By that time the global total of Radium extracted from the earth’s crust was only 1.5 kilograms but, already, the deaths of more than a hundred people were attributable to its processing and use. Officials insisted that safety standards be devised, including a tolerance limit for internal Radium. A committee of the National Bureau of Standards looked to a post mortem study of Radium dial painters and people who had been exposed to Radium through medical treatments. They saw that there were detectable injuries in all the bodies which contained a total of 1.2 micrograms of Radium but no injuries were discernible in those containing 0.5 micrograms or less. The committee settled on 0.1 micrograms as a cut-off. The history books show they knew this was a highly subjective stab in the dark.

Since Radium decays to Radon gas officials were able to use Radon as an indicator for metering. From then on, Radium workers were required to breathe into an ion chamber which detected the radioactive decays of Radon and its own daughter, Polonium. An immediate change of occupation was recommended as soon as the level indicated that a worker’s body contained more than 0.1 micrograms of Radium.

Plutonium takes centre stage

World War 2 was midwife to the principle of nuclear fission, a completely novel substance – Plutonium – and the possibility of a Plutonium-powered bomb. The Manhattan Project was set up to make Plutonium for the bomb in secret and in near total ignorance of its effects on health. It was known to be an alpha emitter so, for expediency, the standards for Radium were extended to Plutonium, modified by animal experiments comparing the effects of the two substances.

All this – both the Radium standard and the Plutonium standard derived from it – was primitive science which had no way of detecting subtle lesions and cancers which may take decades to appear. The discovery of the double helix structure of DNA was still a decade away and for another 50 years no-one suspected the existence of epigenetic effects (genomic instability and the bystander effect). So the safety standards were unlikely to reflect long-term health effects but they did have the huge philosophical advantage of being rooted in reality; the Radium researchers had followed the essentially scientific principle of looking for a relationship between cause and effect. Maybe this was because they were medical practitioners, campaigners for workers’ rights and newspapers eager for the human interest angle on any story. Maybe their investigation enjoyed some liberty because the dial painting industry was owned privately, rather than by any government, and because at that time the fate of the “free” world did not seem to hang on the outcome.

Exit Medicine, stage left; Enter Health Physics, stage right

By 1944 everything had changed. Plutonium was being produced in significant amounts and any potential it might have to kill its own workforce now affected a top-level policy funded by a bottomless budget with the imperative of building the bomb before Stalin could. More crucially for the scientific principles of radiological safety, physicians were no longer in charge, but physicists.

The agent of change was a British physicist, Herbert Parker, head of radiation protection at the Manhattan Project. His earlier career in British hospitals had made him familiar with X-rays and a kind of therapy that used Radium as an external source, confining it in tubes and placing it carefully to irradiate cancerous tissues. (This medical application had been tried as early as 1904, only six years after Radium was discovered. In marked contrast to the dial painters’ problems, it didn’t involve Radium becoming inextricably mingled with a patient’s bones.) Parker had a physics-based view; radiation was a single phenomenon, whether it came from an X-ray machine or a speck of Plutonium. As with light, where the physicist isn’t too interested in whether the source is a light bulb or the sun, Parker was concerned with how much energy the radiation delivered to the tissue of interest. The language here is of ergs, from the Greek for work. It is defined in dynes, the Greek for force; the units are physical – movement, velocity, grammes of mass, centimetres of length, seconds of time.

Parker was one of the first to call himself a Health Physicist. In his world there was no call for a bedside manner.

The internal/external Switcheroo: Act 1

Using his physicist’s approach, Parker shifted the focus from direct investigation of the effects of specific substances onto a new concept – radiation dose – which he could apply to radiation from any source and all sources, providing a way to assess workers’ total exposure to all the novel nuclides the Manhattan Project was now creating. He defined a unit of dose in ergs per gramme of tissue and called it the Roentgen Equivalent Physical, or rep. Its very name betrays the mindset; Wilhelm Roentgen was the discoverer of X-rays (for a long time they were called Roentgen rays). The source of X-rays is always outside the body, so we can see the understanding of dose, and hence risk, was now to be based on an external paradigm.

The first limit for Plutonium in the body based on Parker’s dose model was set at 0.01 reps per day, a quantity which exactly matched the energy deposition from the old tolerance limit of 0.1 microgramme of Radium. No change there then. What did change was that instead of the empirical scientific inquiry based on actual tissue damage and instead of the tentative subjectivity of the 1941 Standards Bureau Committee’s decision on a Radium level, the new model gave an impression of mathematical precision, certainty and universal applicability. This was the new, square-jawed and confident nuclear era where bombs of unimaginable power would biff the Red Menace into oblivion and unlimited atomic energy would fuel everything in a world of peace and plenty.

Internal/external Switcheroo: Act 2

Any risk model needs two types of data – for exposure and for effect. Unfortunately, there were no reliable data even for X-rays despite 50 years’ experience. There was too much variability in the machines and the conditions in which they were used; doses were largely unknowable and many of the long-term effects had yet to emerge. But after 1945 the surviving people of Hiroshima and Nagasaki provided the authorities with a fresh opportunity. Funded and controlled by America, data on the survivors’ health was gathered (as it still is) in what have become known as the Life Span Studies or LSS.

A full analysis of the flaws in the LSS is beyond me. As far as studying internal radioactivity is concerned the flaw is fatal; the control population providing the base-line of expected rates of disease, to be compared with disease in the exposed population, was recruited from the bombed cities themselves – they had either been outside the city when the bomb fell, or in some other way were shielded from the flash of the explosion. The “exposed” population consisted of people who had been in the open and so received a large dose of external gamma rays. But both groups ingested and inhaled just as much fallout as each other, so the LSS are totally silent on internal radiation. The only difference between them was the external irradiation. LSS nevertheless is the basis of radiation protection standards all over the world to this day for both external and internal.

Internal/external Switcheroo: Act 3

The LSS were not begun until 1950 (another flaw, obviously, because by then many of the most susceptible people had died) but already, in 1948, America’s Atomic Energy Commission had pressed the National Council for Radiation Protection (NCRP) to develop safety standards for the growing nuclear industry. An especial concern was the quantity of novel elements which, being alpha emitters, would present internal hazards. Separate sub-committees addressed internal and external radiation. The external sub-committee completed its work quite quickly but the other was slowed down by the many complexities of internal contamination. The problem is that physicists don’t have much clue about where radioactive elements go once they are inside the body, how long they stay there or what biological damage they’re doing. Impatient with the delays, NCRP’s Executive closed down the internal committee in 1951 and stretched the report of the external committee to cover internal radiation. Karl Z. Morgan, chair of the internal radioactivity sub-committee, refused to agree that internal could be dealt with like external. For the rest of his life he was a critic of official radiological protection bodies –

I feel like a father who is ashamed of his children.

Internal/external Switcheroo: Act 4

In 1950, American influence revived the International X-ray and Radium Protection Committee (IXRPC), which had been dormant during the war. In fact only two of its members were still alive and one of those was an American who was Chairman of the American NCRP. But needs must, and an international body would probably look more credible than a unilateral American one, so IXRPC was reborn as the International Commission on Radiological Protection (ICRP). In reality ICRP was just an overseas branch of the NCRP and in 1953 it adopted the NCRP report wholesale.


An epilogue is a short speech at the end of a play. In the case of this drama it’s hard to be brief. I’ll give two snapshots – one is global, the other is a family tragedy.


In 1986 the accident at Chernobyl spread fallout round the whole planet and millions of people inhaled and ingested it. Thousands of published reports from Russia, Belarus, the Ukraine, Greece, Germany, Britain, and even as far west as the Californian coast show a wide range of post-accident health effects not predicted by ICRP’s model. In 2007 ICRP adopted new Recommendations in which there is a single reference to one study of Chernobyl. It’s a paper on thyroid cancer. They cite it for the sole purpose of establishing that it’s so hard to be sure what doses the patients had got from the fallout that the accident can tell us nothing useful. ICRP clings so hard to the dogma of dose that they are willing to rob the human race of the chance to learn about the results of the worst ever reactor accident (I wrote this before Fukushima).

Malcolm Pattinson

This is one among millions of similar stories, but enough detailed information has leaked out to let us learn from it.

In May 2007 The Guardian (linked here or here) and The Times carried reports of a Cumbrian woman’s shock at finding out what had happened to her father 36 years earlier.

Angela Christie’s father, Malcolm Pattinson, died of leukaemia in 1971. He was 36 years old and he worked at Sellafield. Or he had worked there; the Times reported that by the time he died he had been off work for 18 months because his wife feared for his health. As soon as he was dead his employers made frantic efforts to obtain organs and bones from his body. The local coroner, doctors and solicitors were involved but the family was neither consulted nor informed. In 1979, after a long battle during which the employers admitted liability, an out-of-court settlement brought Mr. Pattinson’s widow and daughters compensation payments variously reported as £52000 and £67000.

All this happened when Malcolm’s daughter Angela was in her teens. She grew up and went to work at Sellafield like her father. She married and had three children of her own. Then she read in a newspaper that her father had been one of many men in the industry whose organs had been harvested for radiological research. She asked for the legal papers and received several boxes full.

They’re quite shocking, which may indicate why Mr Pattinson’s employers were so interested in snatching his body parts. His liver contained 673 times as much Plutonium as the average for a sample of Cumbrians who had not worked in the nuclear industry and his lungs had well over 7000 times as much. His liver had 53 times the amount of Plutonium found in the most contaminated of the nuclear workers in other reports and his lungs had 42 times as much. Mr. Pattinson’s body burden was far greater than any other worker data I have seen. I conclude that he had either been involved in an accident or had been working in an unacceptably dirty environment. Either would be a scandal, but the far wider scandal is that the industry and the government would not see even those monstrous levels as a likely cause of his death.

From the data published in the Guardian I calculated the radiation dose Mr. Pattinson received from his body burden of Plutonium. Using the same methods as the ICRP I worked out the annual dose at 26 milliSieverts. That’s about ten times the usual (bogus) yardstick of natural background but it would have been nothing very remarkable in the early 1970s. Even today, when standards are more cautious, employers would still not be breaking the law by exposing a worker to such a dose so long as it wasn’t for more than one year in five.

ICRP’s risk estimates would not predict that a 26mSv dose would cause Mr. Pattinson’s leukaemia, in just the same way as they do not predict the cluster of childhood leukaemia at Seascale, next door to Sellafield — the doses are far too low. According to ICRP, if Mr. Pattinson was going to die of any cancer, the chance that it would be caused by the Plutonium in his body was only 1.3 in a 1000.

To the person in the street the idea that fatal leukaemia in a young man is 770 times more likely to be caused by bad luck, bad genes, bad diet, smoking, a virus or an act of God than by the acts of an employer who contaminated him heavily with a bone-seeking, alpha-emitting radionuclide may seem insane. It is insane. It is insane in the way Dr. Strangelove was insane; the logic is impeccable but the theoretical premises are wrong. The good news is that growing numbers of scientists are recognising that ICRP is in error. These include Jack Valentin, the man who recently retired as ICRP’s Scientific Secretary.

Richard Bramhall
Low Level Radiation Campaign



January 5, 2018 Posted by | radiation | | Leave a comment

Radiation Dose Is Meaningless

Dose is meaningless.jpg


In other words, where hot or warm particles or Plutonium or Uranium are located in body tissue or where sequentially decaying radionuclides like Strontium 90 are organically bound (e.g. to DNA) “dose” means nothing.
This is massively significant. Official radiation risk agencies universally quantify risk in terms of dose. If it means nothing the agencies know nothing and can give no valid advice.
Their public reassurances fall to the ground. They can no longer compare nuclear industry discharges with the 2 millisieverts we get every year from natural radiation, or the cosmic rays you’d receive flying to Tenerife for a holiday.
See this link for supporting quotes from the International Commission on Radiological Protection, Institut de Radioprotection et de Securite Nucleaire, the European Committee on Radiation Risk, the UK Department of Health, ICRP again (2009), and the Swedish Radiation Safety Authority.
See this link for an account of how, when and why the world’s radsafers came to have an unscientific view.
Dose is meaningless
… emerging consensus
[This page from November 2006 is now updated with this new link to extracts from ICRP Publication 103 (the 2007 Recommendations) but its content otherwise remains unchanged. At the foot there is recent material on ICRP’s position.]
The 2005 Recommendations of the International Commission on Radiological Protection: Draft for Consultation were published in late 2004. The final version has not been published at the date of writing (early November 2006) and ICRP tells us publication has in fact been set back by the IRSN’s report on the European Committee on Radiation Risk (ECRR).
Consultation on a second draft closed in the summer. Our responses can be seen on the ICRP site
The ICRP 2004 draft contains many statements revealing the incomplete state of knowledge of radiation risk. Many of them have been watered down in the 2006 draft or have disappeared altogether.
Here we reproduce extracts from the 2004 draft which confirm the validity of our long-standing concerns about heterogeneity of energy distribution. The ICRP’s response to heterogeneity is to employ assumptions. Most are individually questionable and when taken together, as they must be, they are simply not acceptable as a system of radiation protection. The upshot is that “dose” is an effectively meaningless term yet the industry’s regulators have no other terms with which to assess and quantify risks. Reassurances about “trivial doses” are revealed as empty.
“3.2. Summary of health effects caused by ionising radiation
(37) The relationship between radiation exposures and health effects is complex. The physical processes linking exposure and doses in human tissues involve energy transport at the molecular level. The biological links between this energy deposition and the resulting health effects involve molecular changes in cells. In Publication 60 (ICRP, 1991) , the Commission recognised that the gross (macroscopic) quantities used in radiological protection omitted consideration of the discontinuous nature of the physical and biological processes of ionisation. However, it concluded that their use was justified empirically by the observation that the gross quantities (with adjustments for different types of radiation) correlate reasonably well with the resulting biological effects. It further recognised that more use might eventually be made of other quantities based on the statistical distribution of events in a small volume of material, corresponding to the dimensions of biological entities such as the nucleus of the cell or its DNA. Meanwhile, for practical reasons, the Commission continues to use the macroscopic quantities.
3.3. Absorbed dose in radiological protection
(41) A particular feature of ionising radiations is their discontinuous interaction with matter. The related probabilistic nature of energy depositions results in distributions of imparted energy on a cellular and molecular level that are very heterogeneous at low doses. […]
(42) […] At the low doses generally of concern in radiological protection, the fluctuation of energy imparted can be substantial between individual cells and within a single hit cell. This is the case particularly for densely ionising radiations such as alpha-particles and charged particles from neutron interactions.
(44) Absorbed dose is defined based on the expectation value of the stochastic quantity e, energy imparted, and therefore does not consider the random fluctuation of the interaction events. It is defined at any point in matter and, in principle, is a measurable quantity, i.e. it can be determined experimentally and by computation. The definition of absorbed dose has the scientific rigour required for a fundamental quantity. It takes implicitly account of the radiation field as well as of all of its interactions inside and outside the specified volume. It does not, however, consider the atomic structure of matter and the stochastic nature of the interactions.
(46) For densely ionising radiation (charged particles from neutrons and alpha-particles) and low doses of low LET radiation, the frequency of events in most cells is zero, in a few it is one and extremely exceptionally more than one. The value of energy imparted in most individual cells is then zero but in the hit cells it will exceed the mean value by orders of magnitude. These large differences in the energy deposition distribution in microscopic regions for different types (and energies) of radiation have been related to observed differences in biological effectiveness or radiation quality.
(47) In the definition of radiological protection quantities no attempts are made to specify these stochastic distributions at a microscopic level. Even the quality factor used in the definition of operational quantities is dependent on LET only which also is a non stochastic quantity. Instead a pragmatic and empirical approach has been adopted to take account of radiation quality differences – and therefore implicitly also of the differences in distributions of energy imparted in microscopic regions – by defining radiation weighting factors. The selection of these factors is mainly a judgement based on the results of radiobiological experiments.
3.3.2. Radiological protection quantities: Averaging of dose
(48) While absorbed dose is defined to give a specific value (averaged in time) at any point in matter, averaging of doses over larger tissue volumes is often performed when using the quantity absorbed dose in practical applications, as in radiological protection. It is especially assumed for stochastic effects at low doses that such a mean value can be correlated with the risk of a detriment to this tissue with sufficient accuracy. The averaging of absorbed dose and the summing of mean doses in different organs and tissues of the human body, as given in the definition of all the protection quantities, is only possible under the assumption of a linear dose-response relationship with no threshold (LNT). All protection quantities rely on these hypotheses.
(49) Protection quantities are based on the averaging of absorbed dose over the volume of a specified organ or tissue. The extent to which the average absorbed dose in an organ is representative of the absorbed dose in all regions of the organ depends on a number of factors. For external radiation exposure, this depends on the degree of penetration of the radiation incident on the body. For penetrating radiation (photons, neutrons) , the absorbed dose distribution within a specified organ may be sufficiently homogeneous and thus the average absorbed dose is a meaningful measure of the absorbed dose throughout the organ or tissue. For radiation with low penetration or limited range (low-energy photons, charged particles) as well as for widely distributed organs (e.g. bone marrow) exposed to non-uniform radiation flux, the absorbed dose distribution within the specified organ may be very heterogeneous.
(50) For radiations emitted by radionuclides residing within the organ or tissue, so-called internal emitters, the absorbed dose distribution in the organ depends on the penetration and range of the radiations and the homogeneity of the activity distribution within the organs or tissues. The absorbed dose distribution for radionuclides emitting alpha particles, soft beta particles, low-energy photons, and Auger electrons may be highly heterogeneous. This heterogeneity is especially significant if radionuclides emitting low-range radiation are deposited in particular parts of organs or tissues, e.g. plutonium on bone surface or radon daughters in bronchial mucosa and epithelia. In such situations the organ-averaged absorbed dose may not be a good dose quantity for estimating the stochastic damage. The applicability of the concept of average organ dose and effective dose may, therefore, need to be examined critically in such cases and sometimes empirical and pragmatic procedures must be applied. ICRP has developed dosimetric models for the lungs, the gastrointestinal tract and the skeleton that take account of the distribution of radionuclides and the location of sensitive cells in the calculation of average absorbed dose to these tissues.
3.3.3. Radiation weighted dose and effective dose
(51) The definition of the protection quantities is based on the mean absorbed dose …
It seems perverse that having admitted so many flaws in the concept of absorbed dose ICRP simply continues to use it.
The 1991 assertion (see ICRP para. 37 above) that the use of macroscopic quantities is justified empirically is not acceptable. In the ensuing 15 years developments in cell biology and epidemiology, particularly following Chernobyl, have rendered it unsafe. The European Committee on Radiation Risk (ECRR) has recently developed weighting factors to compensate for some of the shortcomings of the ICRP approach. IRSN’s 2005 report on ECRR states:
“Various questions raised by the ECRR are quite pertinent and led IRSN to analyze this document with a pluralistic approach.
a. Besides natural and medical exposures, populations are basically undergoing low dose and low dose rate prolonged internal exposures. But the possible health consequences under such exposure conditions are ill-known. Failing statistically significant observations, the health consequences of low dose exposures are extrapolated from data concerning exposures that involve higher dose rates and doses. Also, few epidemiologic data could be analyzed for assessing inner exposure effects. The risks were thus assessed from health consequences observed after external exposure, considering that effects were identical, whether the exposure source is located outside or inside the human body. However, the intensity, or even the type of effects might be different.
b. The pertinence of dosimetric values used for quantifying doses may be questioned. Indeed, the factors applied for risk management values are basically relying on the results from the Hiroshima and Nagasaki survivors’ monitoring. It is thus not ensured that the numerical values of these factors translate the actual risk, regardless of exposure conditions, and especially after low dose internal exposure.
c. Furthermore, since the preparation of the ICRP 60 publication, improvements in radiobiology and radiopathology, or even in general biology, might finally impair the radiation cell and tissue response model applied to justify radioprotection recommendations. It was thus justified to contemplate the impact of such recent observations on the assessment of risk induced by an exposure to ionizing radiation.”
IRSN’s report concludes:
“The phenomena concerning internal contamination by radionuclides are complex because they involve numerous physico-chemical, biochemical and physiological mechanisms, still ill-known and thus difficult to model. Due to this complexity, the behaviour of radionuclides in the organism is often ill described and it is difficult to accurately define a relationship between the dose delivered by radionuclides and the observed consequences on health. This led the radioprotection specialists to mostly use the dose/risk relationships derived from the study of the Hiroshima/Nagasaki survivors, exposed in conditions very different from those met in the cases of internal contaminations.
This fact raises numerous questions, which should be considered with caution because a wide part of the public exposure in some areas of the world is due to chronic internal contaminations and very few data concern these situations.
[…] the questions raised by the ECRR are fully acceptable, … ”
“… we do not possess, in the current state of knowledge, the elements required to improve the existing radioprotection system.”
We realise that we are inviting the rejoinder that IRSN also says:
[however] “the fact is that the [ECRR’s] arguments stated to justify this doctrine modification are not convincing, as the demonstration as a whole does not meet the criteria of a strict and consistent scientific approach.”
“the existing radioprotection system corresponds to the best tool being available at present for protecting human from the deleterious effects of ionizing radiations.”
“… a significant improvement of the radioprotection system in the field of internal contamination [can be] conceivable only by development of studies and research. ”
See this link for ECRR’s response to various points made by IRSN, and for the IRSN report itself.
IRSN’s statements are a bizarre double standard; they have agreed with ECRR’s criticisms of the ICRP system, which on that basis can itself be described as “not meet[ing] the criteria of a strict and consistent scientific approach” (as IRSN demands of ECRR). IRSN’s subsequent call for more research may be only what is expected of scientists, but such research would take years. Policy makers and stakeholders engaged in decommissioning have to make decisions now.
… There are important concerns with respect to the heterogeneity of dose delivery within tissues and cells from short-range charged particle emissions, the extent to which current models adequately represent such interactions with biological targets, and the specification of target cells at risk. Indeed, the actual concepts of absorbed dose become questionable, and sometimes meaningless, when considering interactions at the cellular and molecular levels.
from CERRIE (Government’s Committee Examining Radiation Risks of Internal Emitters) Majority Report Chapter 2 Risks from Internal Emitters Part 2 paragraph 11. See for full report.
See this site for the Minority Report
And the Department of Health’s Radiation Protection Research Strategy July 2006 – could be LLRC’s shoppping list.
ICRP throws in the towel
At a meeting in Stockholm, 22 April 2009, Dr Jack Valentin, Scientific Secretary Emeritus of the ICRP admitted that ICRP’s risk model could not be applied to post-accident exposures because the uncertainties were two orders of magnitude. (see transcript)
The next day, Deputy Director of Strålsäkerhetsmyndigheten, Carl-Magnus Larsson also said the ICRP model could not be used to predict the health consequences of accidents. He added that for elements like Strontium and Uranium which bind to DNA national authorities would have the responsibility to assess the risks. Another SRM member said that the Secondary Photoelectron Effect was well recognised, also that in 1977 the ICRP had considered a weighting factor ”n” for elements which bind to DNA but had not implemented it.


January 5, 2018 Posted by | radiation | , , | Leave a comment

Population Oscillations OR Collapsing Ecosystem

From Majia’s Blog :
The ongoing collapse of King Salmon in Alaska is once again in the news:
Nathaniel Herz (2017, Dec 29). Southeast Alaska’s king salmon are disappearing, and fishermen are grappling with the consequences. Anchorage Daily News. Available
…There’s some sense that climate change could be causing a “regime shift” and a long-term change in ecosystems, said Peter Hagen, deputy director of a federal fisheries laboratory in Auke Bay, near Juneau.
“There’s a whole question: Is this a new normal? And I don’t think we’ve determined that yet,” Hagen said.
But Hagen and Adkison, the fisheries professor, both pointed out that salmon have proven to be resilient. Fossil records show that big population changes are typical, Adkison said.
“In the salmon business, we’re used to these dramatic fluctuations in productivity,” he said. “If I had to bet, I would favor the short-term fluctuation and I would expect them to eventually rebound. But the current numbers are really low.”
I’ve been following the (reported) acceleration of excess mortality events among animal populations. Here is my 2012 post on the King Salmon that “went missing” that year:
In 2013 I created a compilation of news headlines and links addressing what I called “anomal anomalies,” as documented here in this 2013 post:
Polar bears, walruses, salmon, sardines, starfish, etc. These and so many other marine and land animal populations experienced precipitous declines due to “inexplicable” wasting syndromes and odd infections that began being reported in great number in 2012.
[when I checked on bee and bat declines I discovered that the Wikipedia article attributes the rapid decline in bats from white fungal disease to 2012 here. In contrast, bee “colony collapse disorder” was named in 2006]
Every animal population imperiled has no doubt suffered in complex ways from human engineering and thoughtlessness, including experiences of habitat loss and rapid deterioration of remaining habitats due to the synergistic effects of countless environmental assaults.
Still, I find it more than coincidental that the acceleration of mass mortality events became markedly evident in 2012.
Fukushima’s ongoing and UNPRECEDENTED RADIOACTIVE CONTAMINATION of the ocean and the general dispersal of industrial pollutants by the Japan’s terrible 2011 tsunami ARE STRANGELY ABSENT from most all news coverage of marine welfare.
Yet, ALL THE SCIENTIFIC DATA available, including data generated by the US Geological Survey and the CTBTO, documented widespread fallout contamination in North America.
Scientific models on ocean dispersion predicted a plume of radioactive contamination would reach North America and add to the coastal fallout from precipitation by 2013. This prediction was tested and found to be true in San Diego, CA.
Fukushima’s ongoing dissemination of radioactive contamination has lessened since 2012 but it has not ceased.
I’m sure that Fukushima isn’t the only source of radioactive contamination from artificially engineered radio-isotopes such as Cesium-137 and Strontium-89 but it is the largest known.
Might it represent a tipping point in ocean life? That question will probably never be answerable empirically because not enough research is investigating impacts.
What is clear however is that the accelerated decimation of animal life on earth will not occur without grave human losses as well. It is my belief that when we destroy the eco-system upon which we depend, we are destroying ourselves.
Unfortunately, our capacity to grapple with the spectre of our destruction is impeded by our capacity to rationalize.
The idea of “population oscillations” is the rationalization deployed most often to account for the dislocations in ecological life observed by scientists and everyday people in touch with their environments.
Populations don’t simply oscillate by chance. Numbers drop and decline in relation to the contingencies of system-environment interactions. Precipitous declines typically result from amplifying feedback loops, often resulting from either over-population or some dramatic change in the environment, such as a sudden and unprecedented onslaught of marine contamination.
Bioaccumulation: Cesium is One Among the 1000 Radionuclides Unleashed by Fukushima Bioaccumulation:
Contaminated Water at Fukushima Daiichi Majia’s Blog:
Will Fukushima Daiichi Kill Vast Swathes of Ocean life Majia’s Blog:
Endless Atmospheric and Ocean Emissions Majia’s Blog:
Humanity’s End Foretold in Destruction of Oceans: Majia’s Blog: Humanity’s End Foretold in Destruction of Oceans
Compromised Oceans mean Compromised People: Majia’s Blog:
Radiation plumes headed to N. America Majia’s Blog:

January 3, 2018 Posted by | Fukushima 2018 | , , , , | 1 Comment

The Fukushima Fiction Film: Gender and the Discourse of Nuclear Containment

By Rachel DiNitto
This article examines the systems for designating and containing both the contamination from the March 2011 Fukushima nuclear power plant (NPP) accident and the fear of radiation. This discourse of containment appears in the cinematic images of two fiction films: Land of Hope (Kibō no kuni, 2012) and The Tranquil Everyday (Odayaka na nichijō, 2012). I look at the films’ portrayals of the female characters who struggle to confirm and assess radiological danger in so-called “safe” zones. When they voice their fears and challenge the illusion of safety, they themselves are contained and made invisible by the diagnoses of radiophobia, hysteria, and paralyzing fatalism.
Keywords: Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant, 3/11 fiction film, gender, radiological danger, radiophobia, containment
In the aftermath of the nuclear meltdowns at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant (NPP) in spring 2011, the Japanese government and plant owner Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO) sought to contain the disaster and to allay the fears of citizens. These measures of containment took tangible, visible form as words, actions, images, and physical objects: the various designations for the evacuation areas, no entry signs, fences, barriers, protective gear, masks, and government assurances of “no immediate health risks” (tadachi ni eikyō wa nai).1 Yet the danger itself—radiation spewing from the plant—remained invisible. Hence these signifiers had to overcompensate for our inability to perceive the nuclear threat by attempting to mark the boundaries of the invisible. In doing so, they sought to grant a sense of security that turned out to be as false as the myth of safety surrounding Japan’s nuclear program itself.
This article examines these systems of nuclear signification, specifically this discourse of containment, as it appears in two works of post-disaster Japanese cinema: Sono Sion’s Land of Hope (Kibō no kuni, 2012) and Uchida Nobuteru’s The Tranquil Everyday (Odayaka na nichijō, 2012).2 The systems of nuclear signification are at work in both of these fiction films as characters attempt to assess the level of danger even though they are outside the official designated no-go zones. Land of Hope is set in an area designated as an evacuation zone where danger is identified, and by extension, safety ostensibly reassured. However, when the characters leave the disaster area, the boundaries become much harder to identify, with some markers disappearing altogether. Two of the characters in Land of Hope leave the disaster area, and The Tranquil Everyday takes place entirely outside of the affected zones. In these so-called “safe landscapes,” the majority of characters in the films unquestioningly accept the government assurances of safety. However, those few who do ask questions—primarily female characters—are left to make their own judgments about the dangers of radiation, which neither visibly mark the landscape nor are visibly marked by the signage and warnings of the disaster zone.
Uchida Nobuteru, the director of The Tranquil Everyday stated his desire to focus on women after seeing their fear and the reactions to them on the internet.3 His producer, Sugino Kiki, who also plays Saeko in the film, concurred saying: “after the disaster, the voices of women, who are deeply aware of the disaster’s impact on daily life, were hardly heard in society at all.4 Uchida’s film focuses almost exclusively on women, and Sono also emphasizes the plight of the daughter-in-law in Land of Hope. When the women in these films challenge this system of safety by voicing fear and doubt, they are marked, and the threat they represent is defused when they are inscribed within the language of nuclear containment. The women’s actions set them apart from their communities, and they are further distanced by another set of signifiers—radiophobia, hysteria, and paralyzing fatalism—medical and psychological discourses used to contain dissent and deny responsibility in the post-nuclear accident climates of Hanford, Chernobyl, and Fukushima.
Kristina Iwata-Weickgenannt argues in “Gendering ‘Fukushima’: Resistance, Self-Responsibility, and Female Hysteria in Sono Sion’s Land of Hope” that while the gender stereotypes in Sono’s film make “his anti-nuclear criticism more socially acceptable,” he reinforces the social limits on anti-nuclear protest that has been marked as female, and undercuts the credibility of his characters and his message about the need to rethink the nation’s support for nuclear power.5 Iwata-Weickgenannt is interested in how the gender bias in Land of Hope subverts the film’s ability to function as an anti-nuclear critique.6 In this article, I further Iwata-Weickgenannt’s arguments about the gendered response to the Fukushima disaster by considering how danger is marked both inside and outside the disaster zone, and how the public marking of radiation in non-disaster zones is itself a dangerous act that must be contained lest it compromise the shared public desire for a belief in safety. While the signifiers within the disaster zone work to make the nuclear threat visible, signifiers outside the zone render invisible anyone who questions this myth of safety.
Although there are male characters in these films, some of whom are also ostracized, the focus is on women and children. By limiting the subject in this way, these films dramatize the shift in Japanese society that turned the nuclear situation into a domestic drama.7 The government and TEPCO refused to take responsibility for this national problem, turning it into a dilemma for private individuals to solve through personal decisions about whether to evacuate, where to live, what to eat, etc. Hideaki Fujiki critiques this very logic of choice that was forced on residents in post-disaster Japan where the government has implemented “a decontamination program that nudges the residents to choose to remain in the 1-20mSv areas rather than leave.8 This privatization of risk shifts responsibility for the disaster away from the government to individual residents.9 In these two films, the private choices regarding the presence of radiological danger become problematic when they mark a shared public space that is assumed to be safe.
Before turning to a summary of the films, I comment on their place within the body of post-disaster cinema in Japan. The vast majority of films about 3/11 are documentary, including a large number of amateur works as well as those made by established filmmakers, such as Funahashi Atsushi, Kamanaka Hitomi, Fujiwara Toshi, Mori Tatsuya, and Ian Thomas Ash.10 Fictional 3/11 films have been criticized by filmmakers such as Funahashi for misrepresenting the truth of the situation, and have courted controversy for their use of panoramic footage from the disaster area that has been deemed disrespectful.11 A full exploration of both the reason for the small number of fictional 3/11 films and the above criticism is beyond the scope of this paper, but the answer may also be a question of economics and viewer expectations. As early as 2012 it was said that “novels dealing with the disaster do not sell, movies do not draw audiences, and TV shows have low ratings.” 12 Sono’s film was primarily funded with money from the UK, Taiwan, and Germany, and Uchida talked about the difficulty of finding funding in Japan.13 Do the economics of mainstream cinema preclude fiction films about the disaster, or are Japanese viewers uninterested in film as social critique, as Sono himself suggested?14 Additionally, documentary filmmakers have exercised a level of ethical restraint that has kept them from depicting problems in the disaster area due to the demand for respect for their subjects that the medium imposes.15 This ethical restraint in documentary cinema may hinder representations in fiction films as well.
I am interested in the fictional 3/11 film specifically because the limited representation of the disaster in non-documentary cinema has not been reproduced in other fiction-based media, such as literature and manga, which have flourished in the wake of the disaster. My focus with these films is on those characters who live outside the disaster zone, and perhaps it is the representation of less easily identifiable victims in so-called “non-disaster” areas, or the discord within post-disaster communities that presents a challenge for cinema. I argue, however, that these films successfully depict a post-nuclear disaster environment in which the characters struggle to assess danger in the face of challenges such as the invisibility of radiation, the unknowability of that danger, and the desire of their communities to believe in government assurances of safety. Below is a brief summary of the films.
Land of Hope starts with an earthquake that triggers an explosion at the local NPP. Mr. Ono, a cattle farmer, has part of his property cordoned off by the authorities who are setting up a 20km evacuation zone around the affected plant. Ono’s neighbors are evacuated to shelters, but some of his property lies just outside the perimeter. Ono orders his son Yoichi to leave the area and take his wife Izumi with him, since she is of childbearing age and should not stay in the irradiated environment. The film follows both Yoichi and Izumi as they struggle to relocate, and their former neighbors the Matsuzaki family, who are adjusting to life in the shelters. When Izumi finds out she is pregnant, she sees danger all around. Yoichi is harassed at work for the actions his wife takes to protect herself. Meanwhile, Mr. Ono is pressured by the authorities to leave his home, since he and his wife are the only residents left in the area. The film ends with Mr. Ono killing his cattle, himself, and his wife. Yoichi and Izumi escape to a seemingly safe area only to find out that it is irradiated as well. This final scene makes the title of the film deeply ironic.
The Tranquil Everyday also begins with an earthquake and nuclear accident as it follows the lives of two women. Yukako and her husband Tatsuya live next door to Saeko, the mother of a young girl, Kiyomi. The two women struggle to understand the deluge of information about the nuclear disaster and to keep their families safe. Saeko’s efforts to ensure her daughter’s safety at school are blocked by a group of mothers who ridicule her and deny her fears about radiation. Hounded by hate mail and crank phone calls, abandoned by her husband, and unable to keep her daughter safe, she is driven to an attempted double suicide when her daughter gets a nosebleed. Yukako smells the natural gas that Saeko left running in her apartment, courageously saves them, and then supports Saeko’s efforts to regain custody of her daughter. Yukako reconciles with her husband, who realizes her fears are real, and the story ends with him proposing they try again to have a baby. The final scene is of them packing up their apartment to move to an undisclosed location.
Depicting the nuclear environment
As visual media, these films signal the presence of an irradiated environment by means of visible markers: fences and cordoned zones, no entry signs, protective gear, masks, and numerical readings on beeping Geiger counters. In Land of Hope the nuclear environment is represented as a space that is physically blocked off and separated. The residents encounter innumerable “no entry” signs (tachiiri kinshi) and police blockades (image 1).
In one scene, the Ono family watches as the authorities construct a fence across their land, and a later scene shows the town bisected by these fences (image 2), a shot that references the real-world consequences for towns like Namie that were divided by the designation of no-go zones.16
At times the characters try to break through these barriers, sometimes successfully, like the Matsuzaki’s son who is trying to help his girlfriend return to the area of her parental home, or the Onos, who cross the barrier to care for their neighbor’s dog. In another scene, Mrs. Ono, who suffers from a form of dementia, wanders through the town while her husband frantically searches for her. Although these characters enter the zone with no protection against the radiation, there is also no explicitly voiced fear of it. The film seems to be asking: if the Ono’s have no need for protective gear in their home or on their land, why would they need it only feet away on the other side of the no-go zone? It is not only the Onos, but the town officials trying in vain to convince the Onos to evacuate, who are seen traveling around the area in regular clothing, not even wearing masks.
Although it is questionable how much protection masks can provide from radiological danger, the non-wearing of them in these scenes works as a performance of safety that is puzzling. Mr. Ono is deeply skeptical of the government’s assurances that life is safe on his side of the barrier, yet he does not take any measures to protect himself and his wife from the radiation. Although he does send his son and daughter-in-law away, Mr. Ono chooses to remain and die on his ancestral land. Cinematically these scenes of characters roaming the no-go zone without protection send mixed messages: is it dangerous or not? The only scenes in which characters in or near the no-go zone wear protective gear are those of the authorities who construct the fence across the Ono’s land and evacuate their neighbors (image 1). Besides this, the film does not indicate that the characters in or near the zone are in any danger of being irradiated, in effect treating these visible barriers, and by extension the evacuation zones they mark, as meaningless. Although the messaging in some of these scenes is unclear, ultimately the film shows how the construction of barriers and zones serves only as false reassurance, and does not provide any real protection from radiation that in reality cannot be contained.
The questioning of these barriers and their designated zones references real world criticism of the Japanese government’s evacuation orders. The Japanese government instituted a system of concentric circles as a means of demarcating areas for evacuating residents based on their distance from the plant, rather than use the knowledge from Chernobyl and US nuclear testing that showed the “uneven and patchy” nature of radiation fallout.17 The government decision to delay until March 23 (12 days after the disaster) the release of the SPEEDI (System for Prediction of Environmental Emergency Dose Information) data that would have taken into account wind and weather patterns is one example of the failure of the concentric circle model of evacuation to accurately reflect the dangers on the ground. Some residents fleeing the radiation unknowingly moved into zones of higher contamination, a situation that could have been avoided or ameliorated by the release of this data and by extending the unsafe zones accordingly.18 Additionally, the government decided to raise the annual exposure dosage that is considered safe, subjecting citizens to 20 times the normal risk for those within the designated zones. Those outside these official areas were not given support to evacuate, despite the fact that many were in areas of higher radiation according to SPEEDI data.19
In contrast to the situation in the evacuation zones, both fiction films emphasize the fear of radiation on the part of characters who reside in areas that are supposedly safe. These safe areas are unmarked because they are outside the official zones, and hence the danger is harder to identify. The spread of radiation beyond the visible markers/boundaries of the no-go zones is a source of anxiety for the characters in Land of Hope and The Tranquil Everyday. I focus on the women in these films who distrust reassurances that the radiation will not spread, and who question the government’s ability to protect them. In the face of an invisible threat, they rely on information found on the internet and on their own readings of radiation levels around them to confirm their fears. When these women take action to protect themselves, as described below, they create their own markers of safety and danger in an unmarked landscape, and are harassed and ostracized for doing so. When the women’s decisions about their private lives mark the shared, public space as unsafe, the community perceives them as a threat.
In Land of Hope, Izumi’s fears peak after talking to a young mother at the hospital who tells Izumi the doctors found cesium in her breastmilk even though she is not from the disaster area and has been very careful (image 3).
In one scene, Izumi imagines the world outside as filled with red gas—as the invisible dangers of radiation are made visible and given names like cesium (image 4).
She runs home, gets out her Geiger counter, and tapes her windows shut. Unclear of where the boundaries are, Izumi attempts to create her own “safe zone,” blocking out the dangers of the world around her by isolating herself; she seals off her apartment and wears protective gear, regardless of whether she is indoors or outside. The film includes scenes of her walking down the city streets and shopping in the supermarket dressed in full protective gear, as the residents stare in amazement and resentment (image 5).
Not only is Izumi’s response seen as extreme; her husband Yoichi is harassed by his coworkers who see Izumi’s actions as an insult to the town. When Izumi first tapes up their apartment she tells Yoichi that moving there was meaningless because they are still exposed to the dangers of radiation. When he counters that the government says it is OK, she yells that they are fighting an “invisible war.” Her comment functions as a self-conscious reference in the film to the very lack of visibility of nuclear threats.
The nuclear crisis plays out in Sono Sion’s campy, over-the-top style. But the naturalistic, albeit melodramatic, Tranquil Everyday portrays an even more extreme response to the radioactive environment. This film is set exclusively in areas that should be safe since they are outside of the official evacuation zones, but the dangers of contamination are seemingly ever present. In The Tranquil Everyday, Yukako and Saeko experience the disaster simultaneously, and the film cuts back and forth between the two to show their parallel experience. Both women watch their TVs in horror, research radiation on the computer, and try to convince their families to take safety measures by wearing a mask. The women live next door to each other, and Uchida sets their lives on a collision course.
Yukako, who is childless and works at home does not feel the social pressure on Saeko, who has to make choices about sending her daughter to school and allowing her to play outside, as she deals with the effects of state and institutional policies on perceptions of radiation and daily life. Saeko’s public choices to protect her daughter—making her wear a mask and bring her own lunch to school—are met with resistance and rejection by the community of other mothers at the school (image 6).
Saeko’s (and to some extent Yukako’s) predicament is reminiscent of the Chernobyl survivors Adriana Petryna describes who are trapped by large scale scientific studies in two “undesirable and potentially hazardous moral-conceptual states. . . The first is denial or amnesia (‘nothing happened here’). The second is a state of constant exposure to unpredictable unknowns.”20 Surrounded by mothers who seek to maintain their belief in the visible markers that indicate their safe remove from the radiation, Saeko is confronted by the narrative of “nothing happened here.”21 This narrative combines with the lack of official markers of danger to allow the mothers and school officials to maintain a status quo ignorant of the radiological dangers.22 Yet, armed with some knowledge from the internet and a Geiger counter, Saeko and Yukako know that they are in “a state of constant exposure to unpredictable unknowns.” In one scene, Yukako panics and runs into the school yard passing out masks and talking about the effects of radiation on children after the Chernobyl accident. She is taken away by the police—her protest criminalized and silenced. Saeko, powerless to change the world around her and hounded by community pressure to conform, takes extreme action when her daughter gets a nosebleed. The nosebleed is the only visible, physical effect of radiation seen in either film. It has been a controversial visible marker of radiation exposure in post-Fukushima Japan, as seen in the uproar over Kariya Tetsu’s inclusion of a nosebleed scene in the popular manga series Oishinbo.23 The scene comes after his protagonist visits the ailing NPP, and both locals and government officials criticized Kariya for spreading “harmful rumors” about radiation levels in the disaster area.24
In an act far more extreme than Izumi’s donning of protective gear, Saeko turns on the natural gas inside her apartment and tries to kill herself and her daughter. This attempted double suicide by an invisible gas—a poison produced by a utility company—works as a symbolic death by radiation. Saeko and her daughter both live, thanks to her neighbor Yukako’s intervention. But Saeko, a single parent, loses custody of her daughter, and it is hard to imagine that she will return to a normal life with Kiyomi. Life as she knew it is over. She pays a very high price for having publicly voiced her fears. 
Gender and radiophobia
Both films turn into domestic dramas of women becoming unhinged by their fears of radiation, fears that other characters in the film do not share (at least openly), because the systems of nuclear signification indicate that no danger is present. Living outside the evacuation zones, the decision to protect oneself becomes entirely personal and beyond the scope of either government or TEPCO responsibility. Yet, because the resistance offered by Izumi, Saeko, and Yukako threatens the normative discourse of safety, they must be contained by another set of barriers, namely a series of diagnoses. In Land of Hope, Izumi’s ob-gyn tells Yoichi that she suffers from hōshanō kyōfushō (radiophobia) and that it could negatively impact her pregnancy. In The Tranquil Everyday, Saeko gets hate mail which labels her as a radiophobic, neurotic nuisance (hōshanō noirōzē meiwaku), not as someone with valuable information to share or whose voice in the public debate should be countenanced (image 7). When Yukako is taken away by the police, one of the mothers calls her “strange” (okashii), a comment on her non-normative, “disturbed” behavior. 
Kristina Iwata-Weickgenannt makes the connection between Izumi’s diagnosis of “radiophobia” and the post-Fukushima bashing of “anti-nuclear activists as ‘hysterical.’”25 But these associations have a history that is not limited to the Fukushima accident. The term “radiophobia” was coined by Ukrainian health minister Anatolii Romanenko “to describe unwarranted fear and panic among populations” due to “chronic informational stress,” and the diagnosis was assigned to radiation victims after Chernobyl as a means to avoid taking “public responsibility” for the illnesses caused by the NPP disaster.26 Even before this syndrome was officially named, those living downwind of American nuclear testing, especially women, were told by Public Health Service officials “that their ‘neurosis’ about the fallout was the only thing that would give them cancer, particularly if they were female.” Manifestations of radiation sickness were attributed to such neuroses and labeled “housewife syndrome.”27
Saeko’s attempted double suicide can also be attributed to a “paralyzing fatalism.” Petryna references this term in relation to the WHO 2005 Chernobyl report that argued that “persistent myths and misconceptions about the threat of radiation have resulted in ‘paralyzing fatalism’” “among those living in affected areas.”28 Petryna objects to these “moral claims” about the survivors, and argues instead that they have been “overlooked by science.”29 However, in The Tranquil Everyday there is no such counter argument to defend Saeko’s actions. She is portrayed as a victim of this “paralyzing fatalism” that drives her to attempt a double suicide with her young daughter (image 8).
Sharon Stephens reminds us that this gender bias runs throughout the nuclear industry: the International Commission on Radiological Protection (ICRP) has never had a woman on their commission, and the public has been long portrayed in terms of the stereotypical feminine characteristics of irrational, uneducated, emotional, and at times hysterical behavior.30
Beyond this medicalization, Saeko is further contained or discounted by the social pressure that forces conformity, a dynamic that has been documented in the disaster area. Research by Slater, Morioka, and Danzuka reveals the ways that the “micro-politics” of the family can put pressure on Fukushima mothers, especially those in farming communities, to remain with their children in the contaminated areas as part of their duties to their husbands, mothers-in-law, and extended families.31 The fears of radiation expressed by these mothers are labeled “damaging rumors” (fūhyō higai), discrediting both the words of dissent and the speaker.32 The label of “rumor” is one means of blocking the “leakage of doubt and fear” in the contaminated area.33 Slater, Morioka, and Danzuka also discuss the ways that women who express their fears of radiation are pathologized as having an “unstable and unreasonable nervous personality type.”34 These women’s concerns were dismissed as “irrational fears” and they were labeled as “crazy” (atama ga okashikunatta).35 When Saeko has her confrontation with the mothers at the school, they accuse her of spreading “damaging rumors.” Just as the words and images of safety “contain” the radiation, these diagnoses and labels “contain” these women and defuse their threat.
The pressure on Saeko comes from the mothers at her daughter’s school, but even these mothers are shown as harboring their own fears about radiation. One of the mothers who works at the supermarket talks to Yukako about another mother (Saeko) who was bullied at the daycare, expressing her own uncertainty about what to do. Yukako tells her to wear a mask but to tell others it is for a cold, advice she takes later in the film. Noriko, the most outspoken of the mothers, is married to an employee of the electric company and seems distressed after a hushed cell phone conversation with her husband. Noriko silences others but may be unable to express her own anxiety and perhaps even dissent. The research of Slater et al. reveals this community silencing, and The Tranquil Everyday paints a muted, yet nuanced picture of women both applying pressure to conform and feeling that same pressure themselves.36
Although both films depict the societal pressures on women, neither portrays women finding supportive communities in which they can express their concerns about radiation. In The Tranquil Everyday, Saeko would seem to have found support in Yukako, but the film ends with Yukako and her husband packing up to move away. Sugino Kiki commented that the film is not about who is right or wrong, but about allowing the expression of a range of opinions, something she feels is lacking in Japan.37 In The Tranquil Everyday the women may have equal opportunity to voice their opinions, but they do not all suffer societal censure for having done so. Noriko’s group is not silenced or ostracized in the same way or to the same degree as Saeko, Yukako, or Izumi are. Some opinions are socially acceptable, while others are not. Documentary filmmaker Kamanaka Hitomi puts a different spin on the difficulties these women face in speaking out. She argues that Japanese women “are not trained to speak out” and “have not yet grown into their voices.”38 The silencing of women in these films is not a function of the gender of the filmmakers. As mentioned earlier, Sugino had a large role in the making of The Tranquil Everyday, and there are instances of women speaking out in films like Ian Thomas Ash’s A2-B-C. If anything, the films portray the various societal pressures that shut down women or limit the topics on which are allowed to speak.39 This runs parallel to the ways in which anti-nuclear protests in Japan are gendered female, but are also depoliticized due to the emphasis on so-called domestic concerns such as children’s safety.40
Uchida Nobuteru, director of The Tranquil Everyday, talked about how he saw his film as expressing the desire to return to an everyday normalcy that had been stolen by the Fukushima accident.41 However, both films show the impossibility of such a return. If areas like those in The Tranquil Everyday are unsafe, how can areas around the plant and in the disaster zone possibly be safe? The films depict an irradiated environment that is all around and is not contained by the visible barriers of evacuation zones and no-entry signs, questioning the government’s rhetoric of containment and the myth of safety surrounding nuclear power. Both argue for a wider circle of victimization and in doing so, cast doubt on the government’s decision to move residents back into the former no-go zones.
Additionally, these fiction films depict a social environment where “the indeterminacy and unknowability of radiation effects is the rule.” In this environment the female protagonists are confronted with the fabricated amnesia of “nothing happened here,” all the while fearing they are in a state of “constant exposure” to danger. None of the women have any viable options to protect themselves or their children (born or unborn). To use Petryna’s words, they are forced into a “moral calculus of risk.”42 As domestic dramas, these films depict the erasure of government culpability and the shifting of responsibility to individual citizens. Although The Tranquil Everyday nuances its scenes of public silencing, in failing to show any women who are anti-nuclear activists, members of support networks, or citizens whose contribution to public discourse is valued, both films depict, and do little to counter, existing stereotypes of women’s roles in post-Fukushima accident Japan. Women like Saeko remain isolated and silenced.
Acknowledgments: The author would like to thank University of Delaware and the Association of Japanese Literary Studies conference at Pennsylvania State University for the opportunity to present this research at an earlier stage. I also thank the reviewers for their insightful and helpful suggestions.
Japanese Chief Cabinet Secretary, Edano Yukio used this phrase on March 16 after explosions at reactors 1, 2, and 3 and a fire at number 4. He repeated this phrase on seven occasions. See Noriko Manabe, The Revolution Will Not Be Televised: Protest Music After Fukushima (New York: Oxford University Press, 2015), 49. Also see Manabe for a list of officials who said the conditions were safe post-meltdown. Manabe, 125. Edano’s “tadachi” (immediate) was nominated for buzzword of the year. Manabe, 139.
See the trailers here and here
Odayaka na nichijō:Uchida Nobuteru, accessed October 6, 2017.
“Intabyū: Odayaka na nichijō,”, December 20, 2012.
Kristina Iwata-Weickgenannt, “Gendering ‘Fukushima’: Resistance, Self-Responsibility, and Female Hysteria in Sono Sion’s Land of Hope,” in Fukushima and the Arts: Negotiating Nuclear Disaster, ed. Barbara Geilhorn and Kristina Iwata-Weickgenannt (London ; New York : New York: Routledge, 2017), 114.
Iwata-Weickgenannt, 120.
In Land of Hope, the patriarch Mr. Ono is a major exception to this gendered response, but he remains in an area that is clearly marked in relation to the contaminated zone. This article focuses primarily on the problems women encounter well outside of the no-go zones. See Iwata-Weickgenannt for more on the male characters in Land of Hope.
Fujiki notes that the standard for a ‘safe area’ in post-3/11 Japan is one affected by less than 20mSv of radiation, but the ICRP advises such a high level as acceptable only in “exceptional cases.” 1mSv is the normal standard. Hideaki Fujiki, “Problematizing Life: Documentary Films on the 3.11 Nuclear Catastrophe,” in Fukushima and the Arts: Negotiating Nuclear Disaster, ed. Barbara Geilhorn and Kristina Iwata-Weickgenannt (London ; New York: Routledge, 2017), 92.
Fujiki, 92. For more on the 3/11 disaster and privatization of risk, see Majia Holmer Nadesan, Fukushima and the Privatization of Risk (Houndmills, Basingstoke, Hampshire: Palgrave Macmillan, 2013).
See for example Funahashi’s Futaba kara tōku hanarete = Nuclear Nation (2012), Kamanaka’s Surviving Internal Exposure (Naibu hibaku o ikinuku, 2012) and Little Voices from Fukushima (Chisaki koe no kannon – sentaku suru hitobito, 2015), Fujiwara’s No Man’s Zone (Mujin chitai, 2012), Mori’s 311 (2013) and Ash’s A2-B-C (2013).
I am thankful to Ryan Cook for this information. Sono was criticized for using such footage. For more on Sono, see Iwata-Weickgenannt, “Gendering ‘Fukushima’: Resistance, Self-Responsibility, and Female Hysteria in Sono Sion’s Land of Hope,” 112.
Genkaiken and Iida Ichishi, “Joron hajime ni,” in Higashinihon daishinsaigo bungakuron, ed. Genkaiken (Tokyo: Nan’undō, 2017), 11.
Odayaka na nichijō:Uchida Nobuteru. For more on the distribution of these documentary films, see Fujiki, “Problematizing Life: Documentary Films on the 3.11 Nuclear Catastrophe.”
For more on Sono’s comments see Iwata-Weickgenannt, “Gendering ‘Fukushima’: Resistance, Self-Responsibility, and Female Hysteria in Sono Sion’s Land of Hope,” 110–12. She also suggests that the influence of the nuclear village has restricted the fictionalization of 3/11 in Japanese cinema.
Fujiki, “Problematizing Life: Documentary Films on the 3.11 Nuclear Catastrophe,” 106.
Namie was divided into three evacuation zones. “Fukushima’s Namie Sees No-Go Zone Designation Lifted,” The Japan Times Online, April 1, 2013.
Sarah Phillips, “Fukushima Is Not Chernobyl? Don’t Be so Sure,” Somatosphere: Science, Medicine, Anthropology (blog), March 11, 2013. Philips questions why the Japanese government did not apply the knowledge from Chernobyl and US nuclear testing about the “uneven and patchy” nature of radiation fallout in order to map the evacuation zones “according to the actual radiological data.” The concentric circle model is standard for nuclear evacuation zones.
The Japanese government released this data to the US military on March 14, nine days earlier. Phillips.
The Japanese government raised the acceptable level for annual individual radiation exposure from 1mSv pre-3/11 to 20mSv after the disaster. Phillips; Gabrielle Hecht, “Nuclear Janitors: Contract Workers at the Fukushima Reactors and Beyond,” The Asia-Pacific Journal 11, no. 1.2 (January 14, 2013); Vincenzo Capodici and Shaun Burnie, “Reassessing the 3.11 Disaster and the Future of Nuclear Power in Japan: An Interview with Former Prime Minister Kan Naoto,” trans. Richard Minear, The Asia-Pacific Journal 14, no. 18.1 (September 15, 2016); Adriana Petryna, Life Exposed : Biological Citizens after Chernobyl (Princeton University Press, 2002), xxiii.
Petryna, Life Exposed, xxvii.
Petryna, xix.
Yukako’s husband Tatsuya is also silenced by his boss who uses similar arguments to dismiss Tatsuya’s request for a job transfer to Kansai, saying the government has assured us the radiation will do no harm.
Lorie Brau, “Oishinbo’s Fukushima Elegy: Grasping for the Truth About Radioactivity in Food Manga,” in Fukushima and the Arts: Negotiating Nuclear Disaster, ed. Barbara Geilhorn and Kristina Iwata-Weickgenannt (London ; New York: Routledge, 2017), 177–98; Eiichiro Ochiai, “The Manga ‘Oishinbo’ Controversy: Radiation and Nose Bleeding in the Wake of 3.11,” The Asia-Pacific Journal 11, no. 25.4 (June 23, 2014).
Filmmaker Funahashi Atsushi spoke in Kariya’s defense. See Funahashi Atsushi, “’Oishinbo’ no hanaji mondai: teki o miayamatte wa ikenai,” Hafinton posuto, May 12, 2014.
Iwata-Weickgenannt, “Gendering ‘Fukushima’: Resistance, Self-Responsibility, and Female Hysteria in Sono Sion’s Land of Hope,” 122–23.
Petryna, Life Exposed, 160, 177. See Petryna’s quote from forensic psychiatrist Oleksandr Tolkach about the implementation of this new term and its use in solving “all emerging social problems” (177).
Carole Gallagher, American Ground Zero: The Secret Nuclear War (Cambridge, Mass: The MIT Press, 1993), xxx. I am grateful to Norma Field for this reference.
Petryna, Life Exposed, xv; For more on the application of this diagnosis to the Fukushima accident, see George Johnson, “When Radiation Isn’t the Real Risk,” New York Times, September 21, 2015, sec. Science. Johnson quotes a medical physicist who argues: “It was the fear of radiation that ended up killing people.”
Petryna, Life Exposed, xv.
Sharon Stephens, “Bounding Uncertainty: The Post-Chernobyl Culture of Radiation Protection Experts,” in Catastrophe & Culture : The Anthropology of Disaster, ed. Susannah M. Hoffman and Anthony Oliver-Smith (Santa Fe, NM: School of American Research Press, 2002), 110. The nuclear industry has a bias against women, but according to the Gender and Radiation Impact Project, “the harm to girls and women is, overall, roughly twice that of boys and men.” “Gender and Radiation Impact Project,” accessed December 12, 2017. I am grateful to Norma Field for this reference.
David H. Slater, Rika Morioka, and Haruka Danzuka, “MICRO-POLITICS OF RADIATION: Young Mothers Looking for a Voice in Post–3.11 Fukushima,” Critical Asian Studies 46, no. 3 (July 3, 2014): 494–95.
This is the same term that was used in the Oishinbo controversy.
Slater, Morioka, and Danzuka, “MICRO-POLITICS OF RADIATION,” 497–98.
Slater, Morioka, and Danzuka, 503.
Slater, Morioka, and Danzuka, 505.
As mentioned above, Yukako’s husband Tatsuya is also silenced.
“Intabyū: Odayaka na nichijō.”
Anastasia Smith, “KJ 81 Online Special: Filmmaker and Activist Kamanaka Hitomi,” Kyoto Journal (blog), accessed December 4, 2017. I am grateful to Norma Field for this reference.
Women activists were allowed to distribute pamphlets about the dangers of radiation as long as they did not include the words “nuclear energy.” For more see Slater, Morioka, and Danzuka, “MICRO-POLITICS OF RADIATION,” 502–3.
For more on the social limitations on female anti-nuclear protest in Japan see Iwata-Weickgenannt, “Gendering ‘Fukushima’: Resistance, Self-Responsibility, and Female Hysteria in Sono Sion’s Land of Hope,” 114–16.
Odayaka na nichijō:Uchida Nobuteru.
Petryna, Life Exposed, xxiv.


January 2, 2018 Posted by | Fukushima 2018 | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Fission products are the most powerful biological weapons that man ever invented

The reason that science (and the trusting public) dont believe Fukushima did any harm is because the old school, which includes the ICRP linear dose model is outdated dogma, and can under-predict fallout danger by hundreds or even thousands of times.
If our best and brightest at Woods Hole and Scripps are going to change their belief, they need to come up to speed on the radiation science of the last 15 or 20 years.
The science of radiation effects is in fact almost entirely an extrapolation. You will not find studies on individual radionuclide effects at different doses, different forms, (like nano particle alloys), and different exposure routes.
linear no threshold risk model.jpg
Governments and agencies are responsible for manipulating and censoring data and on media who assists governments and industry in hiding information from the public eye.
Some background on Linear no-threshold debate
“Disproving what critics of the Linear No-Threshold (LNT) Risk Model have claimed and also disproving the theory of hormesis (that radiation doses are good for you), Ian Goddard has compiled solid research on the incidence of cancer in relationship to radioactive dose exposure. Goddard based his research on well established reports and peer reviewed data from the National Library of Medicine, and he shares this information in an easy to follow fashion in this video.
Although the LNT model is favored by the National Academy of Science, the LNT model has been disputed by zealots, who promote nuclear power, and who propose there is a threshold of 100 microsieverts or below of radiation dose at which that there is no risk of cancer when people are exposed to radioactivity at this level.
Some of these atomic proponents and LNT critics even promote the controversial theory of hormesis that claims low doses of radiation decreases the risk of cancer. In 2006, the Beir VII report titled, “Health Risks from Exposure to Low Levels of Ionizing Radiation” examined solid cancer data from atomic bomb survivors and found the incidence of cancer to best fit the LNT model. By taking a look at epidemiological studies of the past decade with dose point graphs within the disputed region of 0-100 microsieverts, Goddard concludes from his collective graph that these reports best fit the LNT model, and that this relationship between cancer to radiation dose most likely reflects the causal relationship.”
Historic data from CTBTO’s global inventory would be nice to make freely public to help the discussion. Go here to request data: maybe some of you will qualify…
Ian Goddard is a very scientific fellow, but, [supposed] education & training in nuclear bio-physics squarely places him in camp with pro-nuclear crowd.
His one redeeming research study is important (, but is overshadowed by the majority of his work.
What we need are people whose allegiances are not strapped to industry or gov.
We need to also embrace new findings presented by folks like Marco Kaltofen ( and those who are currently studying the Dogs of Chernobyl ( As well as the medical professionals who’ve studied & collected data of Marshall Islanders and Chernobyl exposure victims.
A good place to start is with Dr. Ernest Sternglass’ research.
Ernest J. Sternglass is Emeritus Professor of Radiological Physics in the Department of Radiology, University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine. While he was there he was director of the Radiological Physics and Engineering Laboratory. He has carried out extensive studies on the health effects of low-level radiation and is the author of “Secret Fallout, Low-Level Radiation from Hiroshima to Three Mile Island,” published by McGraw-Hill in 1981.
We know–and have long known–that radiation, especially strontium-90, goes to the bone and irradiates the bone marrow where the white cells are always formed that are the policeman in the body. If you weaken the police force and the cancers rise and new viruses come in, there are no defenses against them.
The following is a transcript of a phone interview I conducted with Dr. Ernest J. Sternglass last November to discuss the ongoing story of suppressed information–known by the U.S. government since the late 1950s and early 1960s from studies conducted by U.S. government personnel–about the health effects of low-level ionizing radiation generated by nuclear bomb testing as well as the routine, legal releases in gaseous and liquid form, by nuclear reactors, both commerical power plants as well as military and research reactors.
The following excerpts are taken from the complete interview which begins on page three:
. . . the atomic bomb project was always a secret project. It was born in the lie. The very first detonation at Alamogordo–it was announced that it was an ammunition dump that blew up. So it was a matter of public policy to deny and lie about the existence of the bomb, its manufacture, its health effects, and all the effects of fallout were classified secret until 1957 when Congress held hearings on the need to build bomb shelters. That’s the only time when they were forced to come clean and talk about how to protect yourself from fallout, whose existence they had denied. It was only by accident that some Japanese fisherman aboard the boat the Lucky Dragon were dusted by some explosions in the Marshall Islands in the late fifties and that caused a huge outcry all over the world.
Until then all this was secret. In fact they did studies on animals as early as 1942, `43, `44 that showed that very small amounts of radioactivity would lead to low birthweight and crippled new-born dogs and rats. They knew all this. In fact they were actually planning that if the bomb should fizzle or if the bomb could not be built in time, that they would use the radioactive wastes from their reactors that made all the enriched uranium and plutonium . . . and spread it over Germany to kill as many people as possible. . . .
That’s all in a book that describes the whole atomic age. It details a story about the plans to use the strontium-90 that was being manufactured in the plutonium reactors to poison the water supplies in Germany (and also later on I suppose in the islands in the Pacific). The book is by Richard Rhodes and is called, The Making of the Atomic Bomb. It’s a comprehensive history of the whole thing. . . . In it is the story in which Oppenheimer and Fermi discuss the possibility of using all of this radioactive strontium-90 to kill as many Germans as possible. And in fact they were themselves afraid that the Germans, who were also trying to build nuclear bombs, would send missiles filled with radioactivity over to Chicago. They literally believe that what was called radiological warfare was going to take place.
In other words warfare with these fission products which are of course the most powerful biological weapons that man ever invented. So instead of just being an ordinary explosive like TNT, this is really a biological weapon and it it turns out to be far more deadly, a hundred-million times more deadly than any micro-organisms that you could put into the atmosphere. Because any other toxins are not nearly as insidious as strontium-90 going to the bone like calcium and then irradiating the bone marrow with long-range beta rays that cause a weakening of the immune system and then people die of all kinds of conditions.
They die of every kind of cancer because when the body is unable to fight these cells then naturally any type of tumor multiplies much faster. That has now been seen in the September 3, 1992 issue of Nature. There is a story that completely confirms that we were lied to about the enormous increase in cancers that would take place after Chernobyl. It shows that in the Byelorussia area just 100, 200, 300 miles north of Chernobyl where the fallout came down, instead of two or four children dying of thyroid cancer per year it increased to a maximum of fifty-five within only a few years. And that’s only the beginning. We haven’t even seen all the other cancers and therefore we are headed for an enormous economic and health crisis in all of Eastern Europe and I’m sure now that the recent downturn in economic productivity both in East Germany and Poland and Russia and many European countries, was vastly aggravated by the enormously unanticipated effect of the Chernobyl fallout.
. . . Oyster Creek is near Atlantic City and New Jersey and it affected all the vegetables and the food that was delivered to New York City. Another serious accidental release occurred at the Indian Point Nuclear Plant (which we only discovered earlier this year) that actually took place in ’85-’86 according to the Brookhaven National Laboratory’s reports about the releases. Those releases in ’85 and ’86 combined were equal to what was released from Three Mile Island and yet nobody was told about it. All this occurred right next to the water reservoirs of New York City and Groton, right near where the large amounts of water are stored that are shipped into the metropolitan area.
We have unwittingly destroyed our own health, and if we continue to do this–and this is the real tragedy–future generations will become increasingly weakened, increasingly unable to fight off infections and all the new bugs that are mutating more rapidly (as Sakharov warned). And we are seeing the return of an enormous increase in deadly TB (tuberculosis), many venereal diseases and of course we see the AIDS epidemic ravaging the world because a generation of young people, who are now twenty-five to forty-five, were born during the height of all this bomb testing, when 40,000 nuclear bombs were detonated in the atmosphere.
You can’t do that and expect the world not to suffer the effects. And especially because we know–and have long known–that radiation, especially strontium-90, goes to the bone and irradiates the bone marrow where the white cells are always formed that are the policeman in the body. If you weaken the police force and the cancers rise and new viruses come in, there are no defenses against them. So many young people died at an enormously higher rate than ever before of diseases that were new. Often the bugs had mutated from relatively harmless varieties to much more deadly ones under the influence of all this fallout. So we see in our world today a rise in infectious diseases like a renewal of cholera epidemic, a renewal of the measles epidemic, a renewal of a huge rise in gonorrhea and syphilus and hepatitis and all the diseases that are related to chronic fatigue, believed to affect millions of young people. This is bound to affect our health and our productivity for decades to come and this is why we’re in such deep trouble.

January 2, 2018 Posted by | Nuclear | , | Leave a comment

Fears of children who have to check radiation levels outside before they can go and play

The main problem is internal radiation thru food and drinking, which in this article is not enough emphasized. Plus there is no safe level of manmade radiation.
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Almost seven years after the Fukushima disaster, staff are forced to check if schoolyards are too poisonous to play
Pupils have to scan their school playground
Children are still using Geiger counters to test for deadly radiation levels at schools struck by the Fukushima disaster in Japan.
Almost seven years after the worst nuclear meltdown in decades, staff are forced to check if schoolyards are too poisonous to play.
A large Geiger counter in their playground measures the invisible threat still hanging over them after the nearby nuclear plant was hit by an earthquake and engulfed by the ensuing tsunami.
If radiation readings are too high, the children are told they cannot go outside.
Students even have their own handheld devices to check for themselves if schoolyards are too poisonous to play in.
One, 13-year-old Yume, admits what many others also feel. “I’m afraid I’m going to get cancer,” she says bluntly.
Her classmate Mei adds: “Some of the playgrounds near here have been shut – the radiation is too high.”
Device shows readings equal to having a chest x-ray
Explosion at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power station on March 14, 2011
The disaster in March 2011 was the worst nuclear incident in 30 years. Now students spend lessons scanning their school and plotting hotspots on a map back in class.
Ryu, 13, explained: “The trees are where the highest readings are. We picked up 0.23 last month.”
That level is double the 0.1 millisieverts patients face during a chest X-ray, or equal to 50 scans at the dentist.
While those last just seconds, these children are exposed constantly. The Japanese government has declared Fukushima safe, with a 20-mile no-go zone around the crippled power station itself.
Science teacher Takahira Abe, 52, leads workshops designed by Save the Children to educate about the dangers.
He said: “Fukushima will be a shadow these children live with for the rest of their lives. Most were so young life seems normal, but often when we teach them about radiation they get flashbacks.”
Kids in the area are more likely to get cancer
Science teacher Takahira Abe
They are taught about monitoring radiation in local crops and fish.
Mr Abe explains: “I want them to understand the risks – and that they are more likely to get cancers. It gives them tools to protect against further dangers.”
After the disaster Mr Abe and his wife Hiromi decided not to flee – despite protests from their son and daughter, then nine and 13. He said: “The school had a geiger counter for science, so I took readings. Levels were not too high.
“My duties as a teacher were more important. I had to stay and educate others.”
His textbook was created by Save the Children to help those living under a radiation threat. And counsellors have been brought in to help deal with mental health issues.
Mr Abe adds: “That’s one positive – we’re encouraging children to talk openly. That’s not happened before in Japan.”

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December 31, 2017 Posted by | Fukushima 2017 | , , | Leave a comment

About 50% of local bodies near nuke plants want say over reactor restarts

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In the background, from left, the No. 1, 2, 3, and 4 reactor buildings of the Fukushima No. 1 Nuclear Power Plant are seen, in Okuma, Fukushima Prefecture, on Oct. 31, 2016. In front are tanks used to store contaminated water.
Roughly 50 percent of local governments within a 30-kilometer radius of a nuclear power plant — excluding municipalities where the plant is located — want to have a say in the restarting of nuclear reactors, a Mainichi Shimbun survey has found.
Among 121 neighboring local bodies, 60 of the 119 that provided answers in the survey said that they wanted to have a say in whether nuclear reactors can be reactivated.
Since the meltdowns at Tokyo Electric Power Co. (TEPCO)’s Fukushima No. 1 Nuclear Power Plant in 2011, the reactivation of nuclear reactors has been subject to consent from prefectures and municipalities hosting the facilities. However, taking into consideration the widespread damage and risks associated with the disaster in 2011, neighboring authorities have also been keen to get involved in the approval process.
A total of 155 local governments were targeted in the survey, which was conducted between September and November 2017 and addressed to local government heads and also to assemblies. The local authority where the Fukushima No. 1 power plant is located also took part.
Thirty-four of the 155 authorities (13 prefectural and 21 municipal) have a commercial nuclear power plant directly within their jurisdictions. The remaining 121 neighboring local bodies (eight prefectural and 113 municipal) are situated within 30 kilometers of a power plant.
Of the 155 local bodies approached, 153 local government heads — excluding those of Iitate, Fukushima Prefecture and Ikeda, Fukui Prefecture — gave answers while 154 local assemblies, excluding that of Iitate, cooperated.
Local government heads were asked whether they are for or against reactor restarts at the local nuclear power plant, the extent of their local government’s involvement, and the status of any safety agreements with electric power companies. Assemblies were asked whether or not they have adopted any written statements concerning the restarting of nuclear reactors, among other questions.
Regarding the right to approve reactivation of reactors at nuclear power plants and the right to conduct on-site investigations — which have effectively already been given to mainly local governments where plants are located — the local government heads were asked if these rights should be extended to neighboring bodies as well. In response, 56 heads stated that it was necessary to grant such rights, seven said that it is partly necessary, 24 said it was unnecessary, one head did not know, 60 gave other answers, and five did not reply.
Altogether, 60 of the 63 heads who said the granting of such rights was “necessary” or “partly necessary” belong to neighboring local governments. Of these 60 local bodies, 16 said that they are against restarting nuclear reactors.
Meanwhile, of the 24 heads who said the granting of these rights was “unnecessary,” 10 belong to local governments where a nuclear power plant is located, including Fukui Prefecture — revealing a difference in attitudes between the immediate and nearby local governments.
However, of the immediate local governments, the town of Okuma in Fukushima Prefecture — which was seriously affected by the 2011 disaster — said that the rights need to be extended on the grounds that, “Once an accident happens, the impact spreads across a wide area.”
The village of Tokai in Ibaraki Prefecture — where the Japan Atomic Power Co.’s Tokai No. 2 Nuclear Power Plant is based — was among those that replied that it is “partly necessary” to extend the rights.

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December 31, 2017 Posted by | Japan | , | Leave a comment