nuclear-news

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

Hatoyama says ‘radioactive contamination not under control’

optimize.jpgFormer Japanese Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama speaks during an exclusive interview with The Korea Times at the newspaper’s headquarters in Seoul, Thursday.

 

September 2, 2019

The Japanese government has tried to convince the world with an extensive propaganda campaign to claim any persisting dangers from the Fukushima nuclear disaster are under control ahead of the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. Recently, concerns have been mounting among the South Korean government and international environmental groups such as Greenpeace about reports of Japan’s plan to release radioactive water into the sea off the coast of Fukushima. Korean political parties have also taken issue with the possible radioactive contamination of food that will be provided to athletes at the Olympics. Former Japanese Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama showed concern about the Shinzo Abe administration’s handling of the radioactive water situation and called for urgent action for the reconstruction of Fukushima. The following are edited questions and answers from The Korea Times interview with the former Japanese leader. ― ED.

Former Japanese PM slams Abe over economic retaliation against Seoul

Q. The deteriorating relations between South Korea and Japan created by the forced labor issue has expanded to economic and security areas. How do you interpret the current relations between the two countries?

A. I express deep regret that Japan-South Korea relations are in such a difficult situation. Japan and South Korea had been learning from each other in their long history and were able to build trust. Japan colonized the Korean Peninsula, and this caused a great deal of pain for Koreans. As one of the Japanese people, I am very sorry that this historical issue has led to a deteriorating relationship between Seoul and Tokyo.

Q. Japan’s Abe administration appears to consider the current disputes between South Korea and Japan as a matter of trust. Meanwhile, President Moon Jae-in said South Korea will join hands with Japan if it chooses dialogue. However, Seoul decided not to extend the military intelligence-sharing pact with Japan. The two countries seem to be taking hawkish stances against each other. What makes the two think differently?

A. Japan colonized the Korean Peninsula in the past. As a result, Korea was divided into two. During the process, Japan made people on the peninsula suffer. I think [the differences in the stances between Seoul and Japan are] rooted in history. Japan says that the current problems were settled in the bilateral treaty made in 1965. The problem is that the [individual] rights to seek compensation are not settled in the agreement. The Japanese government had the understanding in the past that individuals can demand compensation. In 1991, Shunji Yanai, then director of the treaty bureau at Japan’s foreign ministry, made it clear during a parliamentary session that the treaty did put an end to the right to demand compensation between countries. He said it did not apply to individuals’ final and complete compensation. I think this is the official stance of Japan. But it seems the current Abe administration is reversing its stance. Because the current government started saying that the problem has been solved, it became a matter of trust. I think Japan’s side should not say such a thing and should face the reality of history with a humble mind.

Q. On Aug. 28, Japan implemented the removal of South Korea from its whitelist of trusted trading partners. Why do you think the Japanese government removed Seoul from its list? And is this appropriate?

A. In conclusion, it is not appropriate. The Japanese government claims that it is not relevant to the forced labor issue
and it is about security issues. It says it tried to ask South Korea to improve its control of traded goods, but it ended up removing Seoul as South Korea did not respond to Japan’s request while claiming that its measures are not trade restrictions or embargos. But I think South Korea relates the removal to the forced labor issue. The Japanese government may think the problem was solved already, but the South’s Supreme Court made such a ruling. I think it is valid to think that the emotional issue led to the removal.

I asked [the government] about it, but it didn’t give me an answer claiming it cannot say anything. If it was a matter of controlling trade, Japan should have continued to strongly ask South Korea to improve its system between officials, rather than removing the country at this time. I assume that there would have been some orders from the Prime Minister’s Office of Japan in an apparent response to the South’s court ruling. I think the measure should be lifted.

Q. The United States government is likely pressuring South Korea to cancel the decision to end the General Security of Military Information Agreement (GSOMIA) and have meaningful dialogues between South Korea and Japan. If Seoul and Tokyo continue to take strong measures against each other, what will happen to security in the East Asia region?

A. I think, since last year, the political situation on the Korean Peninsula is heading toward peace. The Japanese government should join hands to create peace with the two Koreas and with the U.S. and North Korea. The GSOMIA has its meaning when the North continues to develop its nuclear missiles. But when peace is around with Pyongyang, it may be necessary to reconsider the meaning of keeping it. I heard that the necessity of the GSOMIA for Japan and the U.S. is to cope with China. In that sense, the GSOMIA is still necessary. It might be necessary for both Seoul and Tokyo to extend the pact with the mediation of the U.S. in a way to restore trust. If the U.S. agrees [with the cancellation of Japan’s removal of South Korea from its whitelist and the South’s extension of the GSOMIA], there is a possibility Japan would add Seoul in the whitelist again.

Q. Some claim Japan’s pressure against South Korea is to raise Abe’s support rating. Actually, Abe appears to be gaining popularity through it. He also openly talks about his ambition for the revision of the Constitution, which is gaining a lot of attention in South Korea. Do you think Abe really wants to revise the Constitution? Or is this part of his ambition to restore militarism?

A. I am not Abe. So I would not be able to tell what he really thinks. But what I can say is Japanese people, especially young people, don’t know history. And the young people have no memory that Japan made its growth amid its slump for several decades. Facing South Korea and China which are making strong remarks, people prefer a politician who makes likewise remarks such as “I will make Japan stronger.” It is true that the world is shifting to the right and nationalism is gaining power. Prime Minister Abe is good at promoting it. But I don’t think the situation will make it easier to revise the Constitution. Of course, Japan is on its way to be able to start a war. But as some half of Japanese oppose the idea of the revision, it would be difficult for Abe, who is gaining support by claiming it, to push for it.

Q. The liberal governments run by the Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ) put their efforts into improving relations between the two countries and succeeded to a certain extent. But with the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) back in power, the relations deteriorated. How do you think Abe positions South Korea in diplomatic relations?

A. The DPJ wanted to rule the country with liberal philosophy. In particular, it wanted to establish more trust with such neighboring countries as China and South Korea. And it also tried to make more Asia-centered policies and diplomacy rather than prioritizing the U.S.; this approach also existed in the LDP as well. But along with the collapse of the Tanaka faction, led by former Prime Minister Kakuei Tanaka, the so-called liberal politicians inside the LDP became a minority, meaning fewer people criticize Abe. Abe is cleverly using the media by building good relationships with them. And the Japanese media don’t criticize the government’s rightward drift or nationalism. Abe cannot resolve the problems of Japanese abductees by North Korean spies and establish diplomatic relations between Japan and North Korea unless he builds a better relationship with South Korea. I cannot clearly see the government’s relationship roadmap with the South.

Q. There are rising concerns over the Fukushima nuclear issue before the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. According to Greenpeace, the Japanese government hopes to release more than 1 million tons of highly radioactive water into the sea off the coast of Fukushima. Do you have any comments on that?

A. I strongly suspected the situation that Japan was able to host the Olympics after Abe claimed that the radioactive contamination issue is under control by his government. But it is not under control. Releasing the massive amount of contaminated water sparked a big debate [in Japan]. However, Japanese media and the government try not to speak about it. I’m extremely worried as the date of the Olympics approaches, which is somewhat natural to do so. Athletes who participate in the games should not be contaminated by radioactivity. I’m one of the people who have long insisted that the government should spend more money on the reconstruction of Fukushima rather than into the Olympics.

Q. Some people in the LDP may have started to raise their voices against the Abe administration. I read that Rep. Shigeru Ishiba, a member of the LDP and Japan’s House of Representatives, wrote “There are many problems created by the fact that Japan didn’t take responsibility for the war after being defeated in the past and those are surfacing now.” Many Japanese citizens participate in campaigns to criticize the government. Do you think these moves can spread to the change of the current administration? Do you have any idea to achieve cooperation between the two countries at any level?

A. I respect Ishiba for speaking out critically on the government’s policies, including the whitelist issue. It is very difficult for anyone to directly criticize the party or the Prime Minister’s Office of Japan other than popular politicians under the single-member constituency as it is related to securing the recommendation from the party for elections. Moreover, the media is controlled by the office, self-examining for the government.

But I think there are many people behind who potentially don’t agree with what Abe is doing. The increase of the number of LDP seats does not necessarily mean it did well and gained popularity; it’s because the opposition parties have split up. Therefore, the most important thing is that the grassroots and the private sector should unite and communicate with the Korean people through social media. It is important in democracy to take various actions to make changes in policies. In this context, it is important to create opportunities in which experts from Japan and South Korea work together to raise voices against the Abe administration.

Q. Any more comments?

A. I hope the situation would come that both Japanese and Korean people can learn from each other as they did in the past for a long time. In order to do so, I think when Japanese citizens can show that they understand the aggressor should remain humble and keep making an apology until the victim can forgive, Korean people can understand Japanese people. Right now, what we need is to make efforts between private sectors of the two countries and not to hate each other even though both governments are not in a good time.
https://www.koreatimes.co.kr/www/nation/2019/09/356_274905.html

 

Advertisements

September 8, 2019 Posted by | fukushima 2019 | , | Leave a comment

Theater puts human face on nuclear crisis, life in Trump era

nn,tgv.jpgDai Matsuoka of the Japanese butoh dance troupe Sankai Juku performs in “Falling Out.”

August 29, 2019

Six dancers silently toss black garbage bags across the stage as images of the areas around a crippled nuclear power plant scroll over a large screen.

Whenever a survivor of the 2011 earthquake and tsunami, which triggered a triple meltdown at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant in northeastern Japan, begins to speak on screen, the dancers imitate the individual’s gestures to emphasize his or her words.

The filmed interviews with those who experienced the Great East Japan Earthquake and its consequences form the heart of “Falling Out,” a theatrical production featured at the inaugural CrossCurrents Festival, held this spring in Washington, D.C.

The festival was the brainchild of Georgetown University’s Laboratory for Global Performance and Politics, whose goal is to “humanize global politics through performance.”

Other productions showcased at the festival centered on such topics as the global refugee crisis, climate change, and the rise of polarization.

(The productions) engage with issues that are important to people and present them in a very powerful way through some form of narrative,” said Cynthia Schneider, a professor of diplomacy at the university and a co-founder of the Lab. “Each performance provides a deeper context than one might read from news reports.”

Falling Out” is a collaboration between Phantom Limb Co., a New York-based multimedia theatrical production company that works with marionette puppetry, and Dai Matsuoka of the Japanese butoh dance troupe Sankai Juku.

The black bags onstage are symbols of prolonged recovery efforts, representing bags containing soil and other debris contaminated with radioactive materials that remain scattered in Fukushima Prefecture more than eight years after the nuclear accident.

I was surprised at how little had actually happened in the recovery process,” said Jessica Grindstaff, artistic director of Phantom Limb, who spent three months in the Tohoku region in 2018 to interview residents and film footage of the devastated areas.

The spirits of the people that I met with were strong and beautiful … but in terms of infrastructure and logistics, very little had changed since the tsunami. There was no real clear plan on how to rebuild the city.”

The butoh dancers interact with life-size puppets throughout the play to complement the stories of the survivors, representing their loss and life after the disaster.

Matsuoka, one of the performers in “Falling Out,” told The Asahi Shimbun that in butoh performances, the dancer’s body is used as an empty vessel to hold an artistic message.

Grindstaff said “Falling Out” shows that environmental and nuclear issues impact and connect all of humanity.

It doesn’t just belong to Japan,” she said. “These are global issues, and we all need to start thinking about what role we play.”

BRINGING ARTISTS, POLICYMAKERS TOGETHER

The Chibok Girls: Our Story,” another production presented at the CrossCurrents Festival, is based on interviews with the survivors of the 2014 Boko Haram kidnappings of schoolgirls in Chibok, Nigeria.

The play was written by Nigerian playwright Wole Oguntokun, and the second act is comprised of 20 monologues about specific incidents based on the survivors’ accounts, punctuated by drumbeats from a supporting percussionist onstage.

Schneider, who founded the Laboratory for Global Performance and Politics in 2012 with theater artist Derek Goldman, said the Lab seeks to engage policymakers, artists and audiences, drawing on its strategic base in the nation’s capital.

We find that artists and policymakers really enjoy this engagement together,” said Schneider, U.S. Ambassador to the Netherlands from 1998 to 2001. “The Lab is about bringing those two sides that are usually kept apart together so they can learn from each other and audiences can learn as well.”

After a performance of “The Chibok Girls,” Linda Thomas-Greenfield, a former assistant secretary of state for African affairs, offered reflections from her tenure, such as the Nigerian government’s long-standing denial of the kidnappings, during a talk-back session with the audience.

People seem really hungry for the kind of substantial, rich, wide-ranging, inter-disciplinary conversations that we have at our events,” Schneider said. “People really want something more than just go to a play and leave or go to a play and hear the playwright talk about how they made that play.”

Falling Out” has sparked conversations in different ways.

Phantom Limb created a Memory Telephone as a chance for audience members to share their thoughts on “love, water, nature and loss,” either in person or over voicemail. The company puts a mix of the voice recordings together and plays it in the theater while audiences wait for a subsequent performance to begin.

I’ve spoken to people about the experience, and they’ve all said that they felt that they were a part of the show, a part of the story,” Grindstaff said. “It’s really easy to read the newspapers and detach from everything you see, but if you can get people to emotionally feel connected, then I think that’s one thing … we can do together to start (taking action).”

Audience members approached her to discuss ways to use the arts to start dialogues on nuclear power, both with the public and international organizations such as the United Nations.

The kinds of conversations that happened and are continuing to happen were very productive,” Grindstaff said. “It actually felt like it was starting bigger conversations that could potentially start to create change.”

PARTICIPATING IN PLEDGE OF ALLEGIANCE

The Laboratory for Global Performance and Politics has also served as a catalyst for conversations through its own play, “I Pledge Allegiance,” which Schneider says was “very much provoked by what Trump has been doing.”

Devika Ranjan, an Indian-American Georgetown alumna from the class of 2017, developed it at the Lab during her senior year to explore what it meant to be young immigrants and people of color who grew up during the period between the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks and the era of U.S. President Donald Trump.

The presence of racism and imperialism in the city was so tangible,” Ranjan said, looking back on the time period after the 2016 presidential election that she spent in Washington, D.C. “Hate crimes started happening on campus, and people were openly harassed … it was a really difficult way to leave D.C.”

Ranjan and four of her classmates created a series of vignettes drawing from their own personal stories, their ancestors’ experiences of coming to the United States and interviews with young immigrants both on and off the Georgetown campus.

Premiering at the World Theater Congress in Segovia, Spain, in July 2017, “I Pledge Allegiance” has since toured the United States. Whether the cast performed the play domestically or internationally, the members found that audiences could relate to the ideas of exclusion and underrepresentation.

The play is an evolving production, influenced both by the cast’s conversations with audience members after each show, as well as by their own developing personal and societal understandings of the Trump administration.

Ranjan, who spoke in a telephone interview from London, described “I Pledge Allegiance” as a “continual call and response.”

We listen to what the audience has to say, and we offer our own feedback and thoughts and then take those things into account in the next development of (the play),” she said.

In a striking moment of the play, the performers, who have considered their national identities and their connections with the Pledge of Allegiance, invite audience members to stand and participate in the pledge.

Many audience members look to each other for reinforcement when they are suddenly called on to consider what the pledge means to them. While some stand after others stand, others remain seated and put their hand over their heart, according to Ranjan.

This instance of active participation in the play allows audience members to connect with the performers and their perspectives, often provoking conversations during the play’s talk-back sessions.

Falling Out,” “The Chibok Girls” and “I Pledge Allegiance” are all testimonial in nature, built from the voices of the people who experienced the featured events, and place reality front and center for audiences to experience.

None of these stories have definitive conclusions.

The recovery efforts in Japan’s Tohoku region are still ongoing. According to Human Rights Watch, 112 of the Chibok girls were still missing as of April 2019, five years after they were kidnapped. And Americans are grappling with the implications of the Trump administration’s constantly changing immigration policies.

These are not isolated stories but are part of the collective human experience.

The idea of humanizing global politics through the power of performance has remained and if anything been reaffirmed when we see how effective it is,” Schneider said.

http://www.asahi.com/ajw/articles/AJ201908290018.html?fbclid=IwAR28ktvEWPDGgDOF2Q6VF39VKN_qLDFOzShrJXMxEeqIx1Othas4hbtZhUo

September 8, 2019 Posted by | fukushima 2019 | , , | Leave a comment

Nearly 17 Tons of Radioactive Materials Detected in Japanese Food Imports

190830083949_36.jpg
August 30, 2019
Anchor: Amid a renewed radiation scare sparked by news Tokyo could be considering dumping radioactive water from the 2011 Fukushima nuclear disaster into the Pacific Ocean, KBS has obtained a list of Japanese food imports from which radioactive materials were detected over the past five years. The list includes household food items like coffee and chocolate.
Choi You Sun reports.
 
Report: The office of South Korea’s minor opposition Bareunmirae Party Rep. Chang Jung-sook said nearly 17 tons of radioactive materials were detected in more than a dozen processed food categories imported from Japan between 2014 and June of this year.
 
Documents from the Ministry of Food and Drug Safety on Thursday showed the 19 food categories include roasted coffee, tea, chocolate, fish jerky, peanuts, and processed fish products.
 
There were eleven cases of detection in 2014, six in both 2015 and 2016, four in 2017, six last year and two this year through June.
 
KBS has learned popular Japanese chocolate, candy and drip coffee brands were on the list; the drip coffee is currently being sold at Japanese food supply stores in South Korea.
 
Some of the products, such as talcum powder used to make chewing gum and bilberry extract in dietary supplements, were found to have been manufactured in the nuclear-hit Fukushima and seven other prefectures subject to Seoul’s ban on fish product imports.
 
While the Food Ministry assured all the imports with radiation detection were returned to Japan and were not distributed or sold in the country, experts say the ministry’s current 30-minute-long tests should be extended to three hours to detect smaller levels of radiation.
 
Amid mounting concerns over the safety of Japanese food products, Rep. Chang urged the ministry to seek ways to calm public anxieties over food safety and to disclose information about imports from Fukushima as it had previously announced.
 
The Seoul city government, meanwhile, plans to inspect 160 items ranging from Japanese fishery products to confection made from Japanese food ingredients over the next month and post the outcome on its official website.
Choi You Sun, KBS World Radio News.

September 1, 2019 Posted by | fukushima 2019 | , , | Leave a comment

Fukushima tragedy: The day of black snow

111.jpg
Aerial view of nuclear waste storage area in the mountainous forests of Iitate, Fukushima prefecture in Japan.
August 30, 2019
Toru Anzai is a former resident of Iitate, a small village in Fukushima, Japan, and dearly missed the bamboo shoots that grew in his hometown. During autumn, the bamboo shoots would blanket the mountains that overlooked the residents’ homes in the village. The residents would climb the mountains, gather the plants, and prepare them for dinner. But ever since that tragic day, no one climbed the mountains, and the wild plants vanished from their dinner tables. For Anzai, the bamboo shoots became sad reminders of what used to be.
 
Anzai remembers the day as the “black snow” day. He heard the explosions on 12 March, 2011. Black smoke rose from the Fukushima nuclear power plant, and the smell of burning iron pervaded the village. It started to rain. The rain turned into snow. The snow was black.
The black snow filled Anzai with an ominous dread, and soon, his fears became reality.
After the black snow shrouded the village, Anzai described in an interview how he started to feel throbbing pain on his skin. It was almost like being sunburned after sunbathing for too long. Both of his legs darkened then peeled in white patches. The only remedy to the peeling was applying medicinal ointment. 
Soon after, his entire body began to suffer. The headaches came, followed by shoulder pains. Then the hair loss occurred. Three months after the disaster, he left behind his home and evacuated to survive. Unfortunately, the tragedy did not end there.
Three years later, Anzai started having strokes and heart attacks. A stent was placed in his blood vessel; the tube held open his narrowed blood vessel and kept the blood flowing to his heart. With treatment, his pain somewhat subsided, but whenever Anzai visited Iitate, the pain throughout his entire body relapsed. While these symptoms have not been conclusively connected to the radiation exposure, Anzai believed that they were the realities of the black snow day. 
222.jpg
Toru Anzai visting his house in Iitate, Fukushima prefecture, Japan.
 
Anzai’s temporary housing was very narrow and consisted of a living room and a bedroom. He had moved into this subsidised housing complex eight years ago. He was one of the first of the 126 families. Often, evacuees gathered around the common area and shared fond memories of their hometowns with each other. Whatever solace could be found, the evacuees found it in each other. 
Since allegedly completing the decontamination operation in Iitate, the Japanese government have been urging people to return to their village. In fact, Fukushima prefectural government had ended housing subsidies this past March, and by the end of the month, most people had left the complex. Only around ten families were still looking for a new place to live. 
Absently gazing into the dark, clouded sky, Anzai spoke bitterly. “I was kicked out of my hometown for doing nothing wrong. It was heartbreaking. Now, Iitate is polluted, and some of my neighbours have died. When the government asked me to evacuate last minute, I left. Now, they want me to go back. Back to all of the radioactive contamination. I’m so angry, but I don’t know what to do. We have repeatedly petitioned the government, but they’re not willing to listen. Our government has abandoned us.”
333.jpg
Nuclear waste storage area in Iitate, Fukushima prefecture in Japan. Adopting a return to normal policy, the Japanese government undertook an unprecedented decontamination program for areas of Fukushima contaminated by the triple reactor meltdown in March 2011
 
Prior to the nuclear incident, there were about 6,300 residents in Iitate. Eight years later, only a little over 300 evacuees have returned at the government’s persistent urging. Most of the returning residents were elderly, aged 60 or older. Even counting the non-natives who had recently relocated to the village, the total figure hovered around only 900 residents. 
Iitate’s old and new residents are exposed to radioactive substances on a daily basis. The Japanese government claimed to have completed the decontamination work, but a full decontamination is impossible due to the village’s terrain. More than 70% of Iitate is forest, and unlike in the farmlands, the removal of contaminants that have fallen among the mountainous forest is nearly impossible. 
444.jpg
Greenpeace nuclear expert Heinz Smital (Germany) and Florian Kasser (Switzerland) talk with Toru Anzai.
 
Each year, Greenpeace Germany conducts extensive research on Fukushima villages including Iitate. The findings confirm that the radiation exposure in these villages exceeds the established international safety standards. Anzai believes that the Japanese government is behind the forced homecoming of the Iitate residents. 
“The government hopes to publicise good news: the nuclear accident has been dealt with, and the residents have returned home. People who had no choice but to leave are now being pressured to return and put their lives on the line,” lamented Anzai.
555.jpg
The destroyed Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant, nearly 8 years after the accident.
 
The Japanese government hopes to release more than one million tonnes of highly radioactive water into the Fukushima coast. If the contaminated water becomes flushed into the ocean, the contamination will only add to the harm already inflicted by the Fukushima accident. Furthermore, the ocean currents will shift the radioactive materials through the surrounding waters including the Pacific Ocean. 
The industrial pollution and toxins have already caused much distress to our oceans. Discharging the Fukushima’s radioactive water will only worsen the situation, and we cannot, and should never, let this happen. 
Sean Lee is the communication lead of Greenpeace Korea. 

September 1, 2019 Posted by | fukushima 2019 | , , , | Leave a comment

Japan utilities, Toshiba, Hitachi eye nuclear business alliance

hhjkl.jpg
This file photo taken in November 2018 shows preparation under way for dismantling an exhaust pipe used by the disaster-hit Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant’s No. 1 and No. 2 reactors
August 29, 2019
TOKYO (Kyodo) — Two Japanese utilities and Toshiba Corp. and Hitachi Ltd. said Wednesday they have agreed to discuss potential collaboration in the nuclear business, as the industry faces a difficult environment following the Fukushima accident.
Amid lingering safety fears over nuclear plants, Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings Inc., operator of the crippled Fukushima complex, Chubu Electric Power Co. and the two major nuclear reactor builders said they consider jointly developing human resources, technologies and supply chains.
Since the 2011 Fukushima nuclear disaster, stricter safety requirements have been implemented and only nine reactors at five complexes in Japan have restarted operations. At the time of the disaster, Japan had 54 nuclear reactors for commercial use.
The four companies said the envisaged partnership is aimed at effectively operating and developing nuclear technologies, and that they plan to promote cooperation especially in the boiling water reactor business.
However, demand for nuclear energy in Japan is unlikely to recover to the pre-Fukushima disaster level.
Facing huge compensation payments and other costs stemming from the Fukushima disaster, Tokyo Electric Power Company is eager to resume operating two reactors at the Kashiwazaki-Kariwa nuclear plant in Niigata Prefecture but has found difficulty in obtaining necessary approval from host municipalities.
Chubu Electric is also struggling with rising costs to maintain the Hamaoka nuclear plant in Shizuoka Prefecture, which remains offline.
Hit by ballooning costs, Hitachi has suspended a 3 trillion yen ($28 billion) nuclear plant project in Britain, while Toshiba decided in 2017 to exit the nuclear business outside Japan after incurring huge losses in the United States.

September 1, 2019 Posted by | fukushima 2019 | , , | Leave a comment

‘Japan must be prudent in Fukushima radioactive water issue’

‘Japan must be prudent in Fukushima water issue’
optimize.jpg
Japanese Ambassador to Seoul Yasumasa Nagamine is being summoned with a somber look at the South Korean foreign ministry headquarters in Seoul, Wednesday. Seoul’s First Vice Foreign Minister Cho Sei-young called the Japanese diplomat in on Wednesday when Tokyo’s decision to remove South Korea from its whitelist of countries receiving trade benefits took legal effect.
August 29, 2019
South Korea has urged Japan to remain transparent in its handling of 1.15 million tons of water that was contaminated after the catastrophic meltdown of the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant in 2011.
 
“Japan explained that no specific conclusions over how to handle the water have been made as of now,” the South Korean foreign ministry said in a statement. “The Japanese government also stressed that it is dealing with the issue in a responsible manner on a scientific basis.”
 
Previously, the ministry sent a diplomatic letter to its Japanese counterpart, asking Tokyo to share details over how it will dispose of the contaminated water, as its possible release into the neighboring ocean could end up polluting the East Sea.
 
Environmental groups, NGOs and activists such as Greenpeace have been warning about the possibility of serious danger posed by any discharge of the Fukushima water ― believed to be contaminated with tritium ― into the Pacific Ocean, underscoring the effect it could have on South Korea.
 
Ahead of the 2020 Tokyo Summer Olympics, South Korea has been raising its concerns about radiation at major Olympic venues near the Fukushima nuclear plant and the risk that its athletes may consume contaminated food products.
 
The Fukushima issue was a part of South Korea’s fresh encounter with Japan after Seoul scrapped a bilateral military intelligence-sharing pact. Political experts say South Korea “knows a key tender spot” by taking the Fukushima issue ― Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe was hoping to use the Games as a sign of recovery and hope after the Fukushima disaster.
 
Meanwhile, Seoul also has stepped up criticism of Tokyo for “seeking to deny its brutal wartime history” amid their intensifying political feud.
 
“We have a sense of doubt over whether Japan is facing up to the gloomy history which caused severe pain to people from a number of Asian countries, including Korea,” the ministry said in a separate statement.

September 1, 2019 Posted by | fukushima 2019 | , , | Leave a comment

Japan says no specific decision yet on disposal of Fukushima radioactive water

safe_image.php.jpg
South Korea Ministry of Foreign Affairs
Aug 27, 2019
Japan notified South Korea on Tuesday that it has not made any specific decision yet on how to dispose of contaminated water from the crippled Fukushima nuclear power plant, Seoul officials said.
 
Tomofumi Nishinaga, an economic minister from the Japanese Embassy in Seoul, delivered a diplomatic note in response to South Korea’s request last Monday to clarify its disposal plans and verify speculation that it could discharge the radioactive water into the Pacific Ocean, they said.
 
“The Japanese side explained that at this point in time, there is not any specific conclusion on how to dispose of the contaminated water, while stressing that it is taking steps based on scientific grounds with (a sense of) responsibility,” Seoul’s foreign ministry said in a press release.
 
Japan plans to hold a briefing for foreign diplomats based in Japan regarding its handling of the radioactive water on Sept. 4, the ministry added, citing the diplomatic note.
 
Seoul reiterated that the contaminated water issue should be handled in a way that does not affect the health of the citizens of both countries and the marine environment in the vicinity of the nuclear plant.
 
It also renewed calls for Japan to continue to provide “transparent and concrete” explanations on how it deals with the water.
 
Japan is reportedly exploring various options to dispose of the water contaminated due to the 2011 meltdown, including evaporating it and putting it deep underground. But discharging the treated water into the Pacific Ocean is seen as the cheapest and quickest disposal method.
 
Environmental groups and activists, such as Greenpeace, have opposed the discharge of the water containing radioactive tritium.
 
In a January report, Greenpeace said that a Japanese government task force proposed the discharge plan and ignored alternative options that would avoid further contamination of the ocean.(Yonhap)

September 1, 2019 Posted by | fukushima 2019 | , , , | Leave a comment

TEPCO’s new tactics: to restart so as to close….

TEPCO offers to close reactors after restarting Niigata plant
(f_gçà.jpg
The No. 1 to No. 4 reactors of the Kashiwazaki-Kariwa nuclear power plant stand in the foreground, while the No. 5 to No. 7 reactors can be seen in the background
 
August 26, 2019
KASHIWAZAKI, Niigata Prefecture–Tokyo Electric Power Co. indicated it would decommission idle reactors at its Kashiwazaki-Kariwa nuclear plant here, but that move may not be enough to win local consent to restart other reactors at the site.
TEPCO officials, including President Tomoaki Kobayakawa, met with Kashiwazaki Mayor Masahiro Sakurai on Aug. 26 and passed on their plans to decommission one or more reactors within five years after operations are resumed at the No. 6 and No. 7 reactors.
TEPCO has long planned to restart those two reactors at the seven-reactor plant. As a condition for his consent to the restarts, Sakurai in June 2017 insisted that TEPCO compile a plan regarding the decommissioning of the other five reactors.
Hearing of TEPCO’s latest plan, Sakurai said the proposal was likely the maximum that could be expected of the utility.
“But I cannot hand out a passing grade based on today’s answer alone,” the mayor said.
He said he would ask TEPCO to respond to additional requests related to a resumption of operations, such as how measures to enhance safety at the plant would affect the local economy.
TEPCO had insisted that resuming operations at the No. 6 and No. 7 reactors after both passed stricter safety regulations would provide a major pillar for rebuilding its corporate finances.
Sakurai had asked for a decommissioning plan because he felt the need to reduce the risks to his city from the high concentration of nuclear reactors and to develop a decommissioning sector among businesses in Kashiwazaki.
However, TEPCO has other hurdles to clear before it can resume operations at the Kashiwazaki-Kariwa plant.
The Niigata prefectural government has been conducting its own evaluation of the 2011 triple meltdown at TEPCO’s Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant. It remains to be seen if Niigata Governor Hideyo Hanazumi will give his consent to resumption of operations.
The seven reactors at the Kashiwazaki-Kariwa plant are all boiling-water types similar to those at the Fukushima No. 1 plant. The No. 1 to No. 5 reactors at the plant in Niigata Prefecture can each generate 1.1 gigawatts, while the No. 6 and No. 7 reactors can each produce 1.356 gigawatts.
The oldest No. 1 reactor began operations in 1985, meaning it is fast approaching the 40-year limit for its operating life that is in place, in principle, for nuclear reactors.
The No. 2 to No. 4 reactors have remained offline since the 2007 Niigata Chuetsu-oki Earthquake.
All reactors at the Kashiwazaki-Kariwa plant have been offline since the 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake and tsunami.
 
TEPCO may consider scrapping 1 or more reactors in Kashiwazaki
August 26, 2019
Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings Inc. said Monday it may consider decommissioning one or more reactors at its nuclear power plant in Kashiwazaki in Niigata Prefecture within five years after reactivating two idled reactors at the same plant.
TEPCO President Tomoaki Kobayakawa mentioned for the first time the possibility of decommissioning some or all of the Nos. 1 to 5 reactors at the Kashiwazaki-Kariwa plant, located northwest of Tokyo, as the host city’s Mayor Masahiro Sakurai has made it a condition for approving the restarts of its Nos. 6 and 7 reactors.
During a meeting with Sakurai, Kobayakawa noted the necessity of maintaining Nos. 1 to 5 reactors for now but said the company will consider decommissioning one or more of them once it deems it can secure enough power from non-fossil sources with limited greenhouse gas emissions.
ç_uguiià.jpg
(Sakurai, left, and Kobayakawa, 3rd from right)
 
“TEPCO has given me the maximum reply it could think of now,” said Sakurai, suggesting his satisfaction with the response despite TEPCO not specifying how many reactors it might decommission or giving a firm pledge to do so.
In June 2017, Sakurai said he would demand the utility submit a plan for scrapping reactors within two years and asked for specifics, including how many and which reactors will be decommissioned and by when, saying a plan without such details “cannot be called a plan.”
Hit by the nuclear crisis at the Fukushima Daiichi power plant in 2011 and massive compensation payments for those affected by it, TEPCO has been seeking to restart the Nos. 6 and 7 reactors and had also hoped to keep the Nos. 1 to 5 reactors for rebuilding its business. All seven reactors are currently offline.
But Sakurai called for scrapping some of them on worries that all seven reactors are located in one area and that an accident in one could easily spread to the others.
The Nos. 6 and 7 reactors won approval from the Nuclear Regulation Authority needed for the restart in December 2017, and TEPCO has carried out construction work for enhancing their safety. But it has yet to gain local consent for their restart.
The utility initially sought to reply to Sakurai in July but the plan was put on hold after the utility angered the mayor by misinforming his city of an abnormality at the plant in a major earthquake that hit Niigata Prefecture on June 18.

September 1, 2019 Posted by | Uncategorized | , | Leave a comment

The danger of sourcing food and material from the Fukushima region

Ground-level nuclear disasters leave much more radioactive fallout than Tokyo is willing to admit
156672528312_20190826.PNG
 A storage tank for contaminated water near the site of the Fukushima nuclear disaster
August 25, 2019
International concerns are growing over the Japanese government’s plans to provide meals from the Fukushima area to squads participating in the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. The starting point for the Olympic torch relay, and even the baseball stadium, were placed near the site of the Fukushima Nuclear Power Plant. It seems to be following the model of the Tokyo Olympics in 1964, where Japan’s rise from the ashes of the atomic bombs was underscored by having a young man born the day of the Hiroshima bombing act serve as the relay’s last runner. Here we can see the Shinzo Abe administration’s fixation on staging a strained Olympic reenactment of the stirring Hiroshima comeback – only this time from Fukushima.
But in terms of radiation damages, there is a world of difference between Hiroshima and Fukushima. Beyond the initial mass casualties and the aftereffects suffered by the survivors, the atomic bombing of Hiroshima resulted in little additional radiation exposure. Nuclear technology being as crude as it was back then, only around one kilogram of the Hiroshima bomb’s 64kg of highly enriched uranium actually underwent any reaction, resulting in a relatively small generation of nuclear fission material.
Whereas ground-based nuclear testing results in large quantities of radioactive fallout through combining with surface-level soil, the Hiroshima bomb exploded at an altitude of 580m, and the superheated nuclear fission material rose up toward the stratosphere to spread out around the planet, so that the amount of fallout over Japan was minimal.
Even there, most of the nuclides had a short half-life (the amount of time it takes for half the total atoms in radioactive material to decay); manganese-56, which has a half-life of three hours, was the main cause of the additional radiation damages, which were concentrated during the day or so just after the bomb was dropped. The experience of Nagasaki was similar. As a result, both Hiroshima and Nagasaki were able to fully resume as functioning cities by the mid-1950s without additional decontamination efforts.
156672528328_20190826.JPG
Piles of plastic bags containing contaminated soil and other waste, a common site in the Fukushima region
 
Fukushima’s radiation increases over time
The Fukushima disaster did not result in mass casualties, but the damages from radiation have only increased over time. The nuclear power plants experiencing core meltdowns had the equivalent of around 12 tons of highly enriched uranium in nuclear fuel – roughly 12,000 times more than the amount of uranium that underwent nuclear fission in the Hiroshima bomb. At one point, the Japanese government announced that Fukushima released 168 times more cesium than the Hiroshima bomb. But even that was merely a difference in emissions; there’s an immeasurable difference between the amount of fallout from Hiroshima, which was left over from a total spread out over the planet at a high altitude, and the amount from Fukushima, which was emitted at ground level.
Hiroshima also experienced little to no exposure to cesium-137 and strontium-90 – nuclides with half-lives of around 30 years that will continue to afflict Japan for decades to come. Due to accessibility issues, most of the forests that make up around 70% of Fukushima’s area have been left unaddressed. According to Japanese scholars, around 430 square kilometers of forest was contaminated with high concentrations of cesium-137. The danger of this forest cesium is that it will be carried toward residential or farm land by wind and rain, or that contaminated flora and fauna will be used in processing and distribution. Indeed, cedar wood from Fukushima remains in distribution in the region, and was even shipped off recently to serve as construction material for the Tokyo Olympics. Meanwhile, the incidence of thyroid cancer in children – a rare condition – has risen all the way from one to two cases before the incident to 217 in its wake. Yet the Abe administration has only impeded a study by physicians, using various government-controlled Fukushima-related investigation committees as vehicles for sophistry and controlling media reporting on the issue.
156672528337_20190826
Seok Kwang-hoon, energy policy consultant of Green Korea
 
Abe administration hoping to cut costs in nuclear waste disposal
The economic consequences have been astronomical as well. From an expert group’s analysis, the Japan Center for Economic Research estimated that the 14 million tons of radioactive waste from collecting Fukushima’s cesium-contaminated soil would result in a financial burden of 20 trillion yen (US$187.98 billion) based on the acceptance costs at the Rokkasho-mura radioactive waste disposal center. Contaminated water from the Fukushima Nuclear Power Plant – which already amounts to 1.2 million tons and is expected to increase to 2 million – was predicted to cost fully 51 trillion yen (US$479.35 billion) in tritium and strontium removal costs alone. Factor in the 10 trillion yen (around US$94 billion) in resident compensation, and the amount is close to the Japanese government’s total annual budget. Hoping to cut costs, the Abe administration announced plans to reuse soil waste in civil engineering, while the contaminated water is expected to be dumped into the Pacific after the formalities of a discussion. But few if any Japanese news outlets have been doing any investigative reporting on the issue.
When Abe declared the situation “under control” during the Olympic bidding campaign in 2013, this truthfully amounted to a gag order on the press and civil society. Having the world’s sole experience of filing and winning a World Trade Organization (WTO) case on Fukushima seafood, South Korea may be in the best position to alert the world to the issue of radioactivity and the Tokyo Olympics. I look forward to seeing efforts from the administration.
By Seok Kwang-hoon, energy policy consultant of Green Korea

September 1, 2019 Posted by | fukushima 2019 | , , , , , | Leave a comment

New tactics from TEPCO to get Kashiwazaki-Kariwa NPP reopening approval

Japan’s Tepco weighs retiring some reactors at massive plant
Dismantling one or more units geared to easing local opposition to resuming operations
https _s3-ap-northeast-1.amazonaws.com_psh-ex-ftnikkei-3937bb4_images_2_2_6_7_22267622-1-eng-GB_nukes
When fully operational, Tepco’s Kashiwazaki-Kariwa facility is the largest nuclear power plant in the world.
August 24, 2019
TOKYO — Tokyo Electric Power Co. Holdings is considering decommissioning one or more of the seven reactors at a key nuclear power plant in northern Japan, Nikkei has learned, as it attempts to ease community pushback against restarting it.
Tepco will not aim to reactivate all of the No. 1 through No. 5 reactors at Kashiwazaki-Kariwa in Niigata Prefecture — meltdown-hit Fukushima Prefecture’s western neighbor. It will instead pick at least one of them to dismantle after restarting the No. 6 and No. 7 reactors, as approved by the central government. Tepco President Tomoaki Kobayakawa is expected to convey that intent to Masahiro Sakurai, mayor of the city of Kashiwazaki, in meetings on Monday.
The plant — the world’s largest when fully operational — is undergoing separate checks led by the prefectural government, leaving the time frame for a restart unclear.
The utility hopes that offering a plan for decommissioning down the road, as Sakurai has demanded, will help win over locals for its efforts to restart the two greenlit reactors, an important step in improving its financial health.
Tepco decided in late July to retire all its remaining reactors in Fukushima Prefecture on top of the ongoing decommissioning of disaster-stricken Fukushima Daiichi, the site of the 2011 meltdown resulting from a massive earthquake and tsunami. Coming on the heels of July’s move, the utility judged that issues of manpower and finance would preclude immediately moving to dismantle parts of Kashiwazaki-Kariwa.
In June 2017, Sakurai asked that Tepco present a plan for dismantling at least one of reactors No. 1 through No. 5 within two years as a condition for restarting No. 6 and No. 7. Tepco has missed that deadline. Restarting the two reactors, which passed central-government safety inspections in December 2017, would likely create an easier environment for tackling the problem.
Tepco aims to shoulder the costs of decommissioning Fukushima Daiichi and paying out compensation. An outflow of customers on its capital-area home turf has left it in worsening financial straits. It hopes for relief from Kashiwazaki-Kariwa, where each reactor it restarts is expected to provide a roughly 100 billion yen ($939 million) shot in the arm per year.

September 1, 2019 Posted by | Japan | , | Leave a comment

Fukushima radioactive water is not just tainted water!!!

TEPCO should be open in dealing with storage of tainted water
hkllmmm.jpg
A large number of storage tanks on the grounds of the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant hold water processed to remove most radioactive substances.
 
August 23, 2019
An industry ministry subcommittee has started debating a new proposal for the long-term storage of radiation-contaminated water being generated by the crippled Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant.
Tokyo Electric Power Co., the operator of the plant destroyed by the 2011 earthquake and tsunami, takes a dim view of this approach. But the expert panel of the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry should assess the advantages and disadvantages of storing contaminated water in tanks for decades.
The No. 1 to No. 3 reactors at the plant are still generating 150 tons of polluted water per day as these reactors are being flooded to cool melted nuclear fuel and underground water keeps pouring in.
Even after being treated with a filtering system, the polluted water still contains tritium, a radioactive form of hydrogen, and has to be stored in on-site tanks.
For three years, the panel has been discussing five potential ways of dealing with the problem, including diluting the water to safe levels and releasing it into the ocean, or vaporizing the waste water and releasing the gas into the atmosphere.
Since water containing tritium from nuclear plants in Japan is released into the sea according to the legal safety standards, the dilute-and-release method has been the favorite option among the experts.
But local fishermen are vehemently opposed to this idea. At public hearings on the issue held last summer in Fukushima and Tokyo, many participants voiced their opposition to this approach.
In response to a growing chorus of calls for considering long-term storage, the ministry has decided to task the panel with considering the idea.
Long-term storage would allow for waiting for radiation levels to decline naturally over time without causing any harmful effect on the local fishing industry. But this method would also pose tough challenges, such as securing land to place storage tanks, ensuring safety for many decades and preventing any disruption in the work to decommission the reactors.
The experts need to carefully assess the costs and risks involved in the long-term storage of radioactive water.
In a troubling move, the electric utility, known as TEPCO, warned at a recent subcommittee meeting that storage tanks holding processed water on the grounds of the plant will become completely full by the summer of 2022.
The warning about the increasing difficulty of securing additional land to place tanks seems to be aimed at putting pressure on the central government to decide quickly on how to tackle the problem.
The ministry panel, however, should not feel pressed for time in carrying out its job. It should rather spend enough time and exercise sufficient caution as it determines whether there is really no additional space for keeping tanks.
Disclosure of relevant information by TEPCO is vital for the panel’s mission.
The company’s stance toward disclosure has been far from exemplary.
At the subcommittee meeting, the utility did not offer sufficient graphics or data to support its claim that there will be no more tanks to store contaminated water by the summer of 2022.
Some experts even suspect that the company deliberately held back such information.
Last year, TEPCO was roundly criticized for failing to make active efforts to make it known to the public that higher-than-standard levels of radioactive materials other than tritium had been detected in treated water.
The company’s attitude inevitably raises doubt whether it has done serious soul-searching over its poor disclosure performance.
TEPCO has a duty to disclose all relevant information including inconvenient facts and engage in sincere dialogue with the local communities over this issue.
No progress toward a decision on how to deal with the contaminated water is possible without the support and understanding of the local communities.

September 1, 2019 Posted by | fukushima 2019 | , , | Leave a comment

Radioactive sushi: Japan-South Korea spat extends to Olympic cuisine

gjhkjlkm.jpg
A Tokyo Electric Power official wears radioactive protective gear at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant in 2014.
August 23, 2019
TOKYO —  The specter of radioactive sushi on menus at the Tokyo Olympics is a new front in an increasingly vindictive spat between South Korea and Japan, two U.S. allies that can’t seem to get along.
With tensions between the neighbors the highest in decades, South Korea’s delegation to Japan’s 2020 Games raised concerns this week about radiation at Olympic venues near the crippled Fukushima nuclear plant and the risk that athletes might consume contaminated food.
The protest formed part of a three-pronged attack that suggested South Korea is using the tsunami-induced 2011 nuclear meltdown as another stick with which to poke Japan. The two sides’ dispute over trade and compensation for wartime forced labor escalated Thursday when Seoul scrapped a bilateral military intelligence-sharing pact.
On Monday, South Korea said it summoned a Japanese diplomat to express concerns about the possibility that treated radioactive groundwater stored at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant might someday be released into the ocean — although Japan says the meeting came at its request. A day later, South Korea’s Olympics delegation raised worries about radiation at an international meeting with Tokyo Games organizers, while on Wednesday, Seoul’s Ministry of Food and Drug Safety said it would double the radiation testing of some Japanese food imports because of contamination fears. 
The Korean Sport and Olympic Committee has operated separate cafeterias for its athletes at past Olympics and is considering expanding that operation in Japan due to concerns about food safety, spokeswoman Lee Mi-jin said. 
In doing so, Seoul has struck at what it knows is a tender spot. Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has set great personal store in a successful Olympics and wants to use the Games as a symbol of hope and recovery after the Fukushima disaster.
Six Olympic softball games and a baseball game will be held in Fukushima, the prefecture’s capital city. The Olympic torch relay will start from there, too.
 
Japan’s government says the fears are groundless, with Foreign Minister Taro Kono saying he had “thoroughly explained” the safety of Japanese foods based on scientific evidence when he met his counterparts from South Korea and China on Wednesday.
Radiation levels in Fukushima city are comparable with safe readings in Hong Kong and Seoul, while Tokyo’s readings are even lower, in line with Paris and London, government data shows. Food from the region is tested intensively for safety.
MUJEEOWFKEI6TNPEKSVFNVNXZY.jpg
Seafood sits in buckets for radiation testing at a lab attached to a fish market in Iwaki, Japan’s Fukushima prefecture, in January.
 
The radiation cloud generated by explosions at the Fukushima reactors spread over thousands of square miles of northern Japan, causing 165,000 people to flee their homes. But officials have been engaged in a massive cleanup since, removing or treating swaths of topsoil to remove radioactive cesium and prevent it from entering vegetation.
Tokyo has stringent limits on the amount of cesium allowed in food, setting a maximum of just one-twelfth the levels permitted in the United States or the European Union. Agriculture and fish testing centers in Fukushima prefecture have analyzed hundreds of thousands of food samples from the danger zone, as well as samples of every ocean catch.
With the exception of a handful of samples of wild mushrooms and freshwater fish, and one skate caught in the ocean in January, none of the samples has exceeded radiation limits in the past three years, officials say. 
Although exports of agriculture, forestry and fisheries products from Fukushima have recovered beyond pre-disaster levels, at least 24 countries and territories ban some produce from Fukushima, while Taiwan, South Korea and China maintain a total ban on food from the prefecture.
In April, South Korea won the bulk of an appeal at the World Trade Organization supporting its right to ban and test seafood from Japan, although the judgment was based on WTO rules rather than the levels of contaminants in Japanese food or what the right level of consumer protection should be.
In justifying its move to step up testing, Seoul’s food ministry said trace amounts of radiation were detected in around 20 tons out of more than 200,000 tons of total food imports from Japan over the past five years, although its statement noted levels below even Japan’s strict limit of 100 becquerels a kilogram.
H2JSP2VZ3II6LBONLLKZXQMUGI
People shop for fresh seafood at a market in Kanazawa, Japan, in January 2016.
 
South Korea’s qualms about contaminated food at the Olympics fell on deaf ears, according to Japanese media reports, with the organizers saying thorough inspections of Olympic sites had already been carried out and other countries failing to support South Korea’s position.
That’s not to say there are no grounds for concern about a million tons of treated radioactive groundwater stored at the nuclear power plant, environmental groups say.
This month, Tokyo Electric Power Co., or Tepco, said the tanks at the site would be full by the summer of 2022, as fresh groundwater continues to seep in and become contaminated.
That announcement raised concerns that Tepco may push ahead with a proposal to dilute the treated water and gradually release it into the ocean.
Although many scientists say it is safe to release properly treated water, public trust is low, with Tepco forced to acknowledge last year that the treatment system had so far failed to remove dangerous radioactive elements, including strontium-90.
Local fishermen also oppose releasing the water, arguing such a move would destroy public confidence in marine produce from Fukushima. Japan says no decision has been reached.
Ironically, rice from Fukushima was on the menu at a working lunch during the Group of 20 meeting in Japan in June attended by South Korean President Moon Jae-in. But Moon left before the rice was served, the presidential office in Seoul said Friday.
Min Joo Kim in Seoul and Akiko Kashiwagi in Tokyo contributed to this report.

September 1, 2019 Posted by | fukushima 2019 | , , , | Leave a comment

South Korea concerned over food safety at Olympics with events slated for Fukushima

Talks to take place over food provision at Tokyo Games
Fukushima to host baseball and softball games next year
5568.jpg
The Fukushima Azuma baseball stadium will used during the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games.
August 22, 2019
South Korea is considering making its own arrangements to feed its athletes at next year’s Tokyo Olympics, citing concerns over the safety of food from Fukushima, media reports said.
In addition, South Korean sports authorities have requested that international groups be permitted to monitor radiation levels during the 2020 Games.
Food safety concerns in South Korea have grown since Fukushima city was chosen to host six softball games and one baseball game next summer. Fukushima prefecture will also be the location for the start of the domestic leg of the Olympic torch relay, beginning next March.
Tokyo Olympics organisers said South Korea’s National Olympic Committee had sent a letter expressing concern at the possibility of produce grown in Fukushima prefecture being served to athletes in the Olympic village.
“Nothing is more important than safety. We will seek consultations with the International Olympic Committee and others to secure our athletes’ safety and ensure that the Tokyo Olympics will be held in a safe environment,” the South Korean sports minister, Park Yang-woo, said this week, according to Yonhap news agency.
Seoul’s concerns come amid an escalating dispute with Tokyo over South Korean court rulings ordering Japanese companies to compensate Koreans who were forced to work in Japanese factories and mines before and during the second world war, when the Korean peninsula was a Japanese colony.
The dispute has affected trade and cultural exchanges, while figures released this week show that the number of South Korean tourists visiting Japan fell by 7.6% year on year last month – its lowest level for almost a year – according to the Japan National Tourism Organisation.
Bloomberg reported that the Korea Sport and Olympic Committee is to request international organisations such as Greenpeace be allowed to monitor radiation levels at Olympic venues.
Committee officials have also drawn up plans to open a separate cafeteria exclusively for South Korean athletes to ensure that they are not served food from the region affected by radioactive fallout from the March 2011 meltdown at Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant.
The official threshold for radioactive substances in food from Fukushima is much lower than those in other parts of the world, including the European Union and the US.
All food items produced in Fukushima undergo repeated inspections to ensure their safety, according to the prefectural government.
“We are only shipping primary products which are certified to be safe through multiple inspections in each stage with cooperation among municipal and prefectural government, production areas, producers, distributors and retailers,” it says on its website.
Data from the NGO monitoring group Safecast shows that atmospheric radiation levels in Tokyo are lower than those in many other cities.
On Thursday morning, Safecast data showed levels in the Roppongi district of Tokyo stood at 0.084 microsieverts per hour, compared with 0.116 in Suwon, south of Seoul. In Fukushima city, located 45 miles west of the stricken nuclear power plant, atmospheric radiation was recorded at 0.100 microsieverts per hour.
The global average of naturally occurring background radiation is 0.17-0.39 microsieverts per hour, according to the pro-nuclear lobby group the World Nuclear Association.

September 1, 2019 Posted by | fukushima 2019 | , , , , | Leave a comment

Sports bodies need to make own assessments of Fukushima: Greenpeace nuclear specialist

“The first thing is … don’t trust the Japanese government, educate yourself. If you’re an organizing body, get independent verification and independent information about what the relative radiation levels are, what the risks are,” Burnie said.”
Nuclear specialist warns of unknown long-term health, environmental risks from Japan’s radioactive water disposal plan
20190821000626_0.jpg
Shaun Burnie, senior nuclear specialist with Greenpeace Germany, speaks about Tokyo’s plan to discharge a massive amount of radioactive water into the Pacific Ocean during an interview with The Korea Herald at Greenpeace Seoul’s office in central Seoul last week. (Greenpeace Seoul)
Aug 21, 2019
With less than a year to go until the Tokyo 2020 Summer Olympics, concerns are growing over the safety of the baseball and softball venues in disaster-hit Fukushima.
 
Seeking to break away from Japan’s association with high levels of radioactivity, the Abe government has branded the 2020 Olympics the “Recovery Games.”
 
But health and environmental risks from high levels of radiation persist in parts of Fukushima after the 2011 nuclear meltdown.
 
According to Shaun Burnie, a senior nuclear specialist with Greenpeace Germany, those visiting Fukushima for the Summer Games next year should take a proactive approach to educating themselves on which areas of Fukushima are affected by radiation and on the impact of exposure to radiation.
 
“In terms of safety, there are certain areas of Fukushima where we would certainly not advise athletes or spectators to spend any time. Those are areas particularly close to the Fukushima Dai-ichi plant, including where the torch processions will be taking place,” Burnie said in an interview with The Korea Herald at Greenpeace Seoul’s office in central Seoul last week.
 
“They are areas that are not safe for people to live. If you visit, you need to follow a radiation protocol. It is a bizarre situation that you are having Olympic events where people are concerned about radiation,” he added.
 
While noting that not all parts of Fukushima should be off limits, Burnie said athletes and sports bodies need to seek independent assessments on Fukushima, rather than relying on information provided by the Japanese government.
 
“It’s dangerous to just dismiss the whole of Fukushima as a radioactive disaster zone. It’s much more complex than that. The first thing is … don’t trust the Japanese government, educate yourself. If you’re an organizing body, get independent verification and independent information about what the relative radiation levels are, what the risks are,” Burnie said.
 
As the senior nuclear specialist with Greenpeace Germany, Burnie has followed the Japanese government’s handling of the tsunami and earthquake in March 2011 that resulted in the meltdown of three nuclear reactors at the Fukushima Dai-ichi power plant.
 
In a report published in January, Burnie alleged that Tokyo plans to dispose of some 1 million metric tons of contaminated water by discharging it into the Pacific Ocean after the Summer Olympics.
 
If Japan follows through with the move, radioactive water is expected to be present in Korea’s East Sea a year later.
 
“For the past five years we’ve been accessing the process, the discussions, the documents submitted by Tepco (Tokyo Electric Power Company) … we were reviewing some of Tepco’s data (last year) and we looked at it and went ‘there is something wrong here with Tepco’s processing,’” Burnie said.
 
“It became very clear there has been bad decisions made, not really surprising, by Tepco, by the (Japanese) government over the last five or six years and how to manage the water crisis.”
 
Last year Tepco acknowledged its Advanced Liquid Processing System, or ALPS, had failed to purify contaminated water stored in tanks at the Dai-ichi power plant.
 
A committee under Japan’s Ministry of Economy in 2016 put together five scenarios for the Japanese government to deal with the massive volume of pollutants stored at the Fukushima No. 1 plant.
 
The amount of water stored at the plant is to reach its full capacity of 1.3 million tons by the end of 2020, with about 170 tons accumulating daily.
 
According to Burnie, Tokyo has chosen to discharge the radioactive water instead of acting on any of the other four suggestions because “it is the most cheap and fast.”
 
Besides increased levels of radioactive cesium found in Fukushima and in the East Sea, Burnie warned of “cesium-rich micro particles” extremely small in size and inhaled through breathing.
 
Cesium is one of the largest sources of radioactivity from the 2011 disaster and has a half-life of 30 years.
 
“There is evidence from samples … some scientific literature has published the results and they found concentrations of these particles in areas 20-30 kilometers from the plant. … The problem is these particles can be inhaled. Then some of them lodge inside your lung at which point you are getting an internal dose, a very focused, very localized, relatively high-exposure dose to individual cells,” Burnie said.
 
“That’s a real problem because there is very little known about how cesium in that form will affect your long-term health. … Again, the people most at risk are those returning to live in areas of Fukushima affected by these particles. But the Japanese government has not taken into account in any of its assessments what those risks are,” he added.
 
Stressing that the risks of exposure to radiation should not be exaggerated, Burnie noted there is no safe level of radiation exposure and the long-term effects are unknown.
 
“The effects you will only see over decades. It won’t be instant, it’s not an acute radiation exposure, it’s low-level radiation,” Burnie said.
 
“The country that will be next impacted will be Korea, because it’s the geographically closest. … There is no safe threshold for radiation exposure. … Why should you be exposed when there is a clear alternative, which is you store?”

August 22, 2019 Posted by | fukushima 2019 | , , , , , | Leave a comment

South Korea to increase radiation testing of Japanese food

My respect to South Korea: the one and only country to protect its population from Japanese radiation contaminated products and to protest against japan’s plan to dump all the Fukushima radioactive water into our Pacific ocean. I would like to hear the countries protesting and our elected politicians have at heart to defend as well the health of their citizens!
safe_image.php.jpg
South Korea to increase radiation testing of Japanese food
August 21, 2019
SEOUL (Reuters) – South Korea said on Wednesday it will double the radiation testing of some Japanese food exports due to potential contamination from the tsunami-damaged Fukushima nuclear plant.
Relations between the two U.S. allies are at their worst in years, with a trade row rooted in a decades-old dispute over compensation for South Koreans forced to work during Japan’s wartime occupation of the Korean Peninsula.
South Korea has stepped up demands this month for a Japanese response to concerns food produced in the Fukushima area and nearby sea could be contaminated by radiation from the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant that was severely damaged by the 2011 tsunami.
South Korea’s Ministry of Food and Drug Safety (MFDS) said on Wednesday that it will double the frequency of testing of any food products with a history of being returned in the past five years after trace amounts of radiation were detected.
“As public concerns about radioactive contamination have been rising recently, we are planning a more thorough inspection starting August 23,” said Lee Seoung-yong, director-general at MFDS.
The affected food imports from Japan will be relatively minimal, as only about two tonnes are returned out of about 190,000 tonnes of total Japanese food imports annually, Lee said.
An official at Japan’s Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries said Japanese food products were safe and the increased radiation testing was unnecessary.
“Safety of Japanese food items has been secured and no additional restrictions are necessary. Many countries have agreed with this and got rid of import restrictions completely … It is very regrettable that these additional measures will be implemented,” the official told Reuters.
The 2020 Tokyo Olympics organizers said on Tuesday that South Korea’s National Olympic Committee had sent a letter expressing concern at the possibility of produce grown in Fukushima prefecture being served to athletes in the Olympic village.
South Korea’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs on Monday summoned the economy minister from the Japanese embassy in Seoul over media reports and international environmental groups’ claims that Japan plans to release contaminated water from the Fukushima plant into the ocean.
In April, South Korea won the bulk of its appeal in a dispute at the World Trade Organization over import bans and testing requirements it had imposed on Japanese seafood in the wake of the 2011 Fukushima disaster.
 
 
S.Korea to tighten checks on food from Japan
August 21, 2019
The South Korean government says it will tighten radiation checks on food products imported from Japan.
Following the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant accident in March 2011, South Korea banned imports of marine products from eight Japanese prefectures and farm products from 14 prefectures. Other food items are tested for radiation upon arrival in South Korea.
South Korea’s Food and Drug Safety Ministry announced on Wednesday that 17 food products that have tested positive for even minute amounts of radiation in the past will be screened twice, starting on Friday. The items include processed seafood, blueberries, tea and coffee.
South Korea’s government announced earlier this month that it is stepping up radiation checks on coal ash and three types of recyclable imports from Japan.
On Monday, South Korea’s Foreign Ministry summoned a senior Japanese Embassy official for an explanation of Japan’s plan to release into the ocean water containing radioactive substances generated at the Fukushima Daiichi plant.

August 22, 2019 Posted by | fukushima 2019 | , , , , , , | Leave a comment