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70% do not expect Tokyo Olympics to be held as scheduled: Kyodo poll

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March 15, 2020

A total of 69.9 percent of people do not expect the Tokyo Olympic and Paralympic Games this summer to be held as scheduled amid the global outbreak of the novel coronavirus, a Kyodo News survey showed Monday.

The poll, conducted from Saturday to Monday by phone, comes as Japan continues with preparations for the Olympics, from July 24 to Aug. 9, and the Paralympics, from Aug. 25 to Sept. 6, with Abe saying he has no immediate plan to declare a state of emergency, and that the Summer Games will go ahead as scheduled.

Even though public opinion is split on how well the government has responded to the crisis, the approval rating for Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s Cabinet rose to 49.7 percent from 41.0 percent in February.

Of those who said they approved of the administration, 53.4 percent responded that it was because there were no other appropriate choices besides Abe.

Since the previous opinion poll in mid-February, steps have been taken by Abe’s government to combat the spread of the virus, including requesting large events be canceled, and schools be shut through the start of the new academic year in April, relief measures for businesses and tougher border control measures, especially for travelers from China and South Korea.

In the survey with 1,032 respondents, 48.3 percent said the government measures against the virus are appropriate, while 44.3 percent said they disapprove of them.

The spread of the pneumonia-causing virus has halted a significant amount of international and domestic travel.

To ease the adverse effects of the outbreak, Abe has introduced zero-interest loans for small and midsize companies that are in a cash crunch due to sharp falls in sales as part of funding packages totaling 1.5 trillion yen ($14 billion).

Still, 90.7 percent of the respondents said they are worried or somewhat worried about the economic impact of the new coronavirus outbreak, an increase from 82.5 percent in the previous poll.

A total of 71.8 percent answered that the school closures aimed at preventing a further spread of the virus were appropriate or somewhat appropriate, while 83.1 percent supported the implementation of tougher border control measures for travelers from China and South Korea, a move which has hit Japan’s tourism industry hard.

The virus has claimed the lives of at least 31 people in Japan, and more than 1,500 people have been infected with it, including about 700 cases from a cruise ship that was quarantined near Tokyo.

As Abe has been facing severe criticism over the handling of documents related to publicly funded annual cherry blossom viewing parties that are at the center of yet another scandal alleging cronyism, 82.5 percent said he failed to explain himself to the public over the issue sufficiently.

The survey, covering 739 randomly selected households with eligible voters and 1,219 mobile phone numbers, obtained responses from 512 and 520 people, respectively.

https://english.kyodonews.net/news/2020/03/c44332182570-urgent-70-do-not-expect-tokyo-olympics-to-be-held-as-scheduled-kyodo-poll.html?fbclid=IwAR2OkeV6C-aL7x_W7DlMUmsSBift5sozEdExA8xhw-ULZGeECHbcn6PdhOE

 

March 20, 2020 Posted by | Fukushima 2020 | , | Leave a comment

JR East’s Joban Line fully reopens after nine long years following Fukushima disaster

b-tohoku-a-20200315-870x541A train stops at Ono Station on the Joban Line in the town of Okuma, near the crisis-hit Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant, on Saturday as the long-suspended train line connecting Tokyo and Miyagi Prefecture fully resumes service.

 

Mar 14, 2020

FUKUSHIMA – After nine long years, service on the Joban Line is fully back on track.

The reopening of a 20.8 kilometer stretch between Tomioka and Namie near the crippled Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant means that all Tohoku train lines have now completely reopened following the March 2011 triple disaster.

While some anticipate that the improvement of public transport in disaster-hit areas along Fukushima Prefecture’s Pacific coast will lead to an increase in visitors and regional revitalization, others say the impact will be limited as cars remain the mode of transportation of choice for most residents.

Prior to reopening, JR East had offered bus services for the closed section of the Joban Line, a 344-kilometer route that connects Tokyo and Miyagi Prefecture.

Nine JR and private railway lines took more than a year to reopen following the disaster, according to the transport ministry.

The Rias Line, operated by Sanriku Railway Co., had been repaired following the 2011 disaster but was again damaged by Typhoon Hagibis last October.

With services fully resumed, limited express trains linking Tokyo with Sendai, the capital of Miyagi, will make three round-trips per day.

Among the five stations along the recently reopened section, three are in the towns of Futaba and Okuma, which host the crippled plant of Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings Inc., as well as Tomioka.

The three municipalities had been designated by the government as a no-go zone due to high radiation levels. The entry ban was gradually lifted in Okuma and Tomioka and the restrictions for areas near the stations in the three towns were newly removed earlier this month.

As of March 1, only 1,943 people reside in Okuma and Tomioka, while no one lives in Futaba. The three towns had a combined population of around 34,000 prior to the disaster.

Repair work on the damaged stretch of the Joban Line was long-delayed as most of it was located in a zone marked as having high levels of radiation, JR East said.

https://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2020/03/14/business/corporate-business/jr-east-joban-line-reopen-fukushima-disaster/#.Xm0J8XJCeUk

March 20, 2020 Posted by | Fukushima 2020 | , | Leave a comment

Japan’s 3/11 Recovery Stalled by Fukushima Decommissioning Delays

thediplomat-2020-03-13-3

March 13, 2020

Delays in dismantling the disaster-stricken nuclear power complex cast doubt on whether recovery goals will move forward according to schedule.

Nine years after a quake-triggered tsunami sparked a triple meltdown at Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, decontamination and decommissioning continues in northeastern Japan. The ultimate goal of removing all debris is expected to take anywhere between 30 to 40 years, but progress has been slower than originally planned. So far just one-fourth of decommission work has been completed, drawing attention to work that has not yet begun.

The Fukushima decommissioning and decontamination draft has been amended five times. While changes published in December offered a specific time frame for the first time, the latest timetable for debris removal has been pushed back five years, citing the need for additional safety precautions. Previously, the process of removing spent fuel was scheduled from 2021 to 2024. But work on reactor two looks more likely to start in 2025 and last until 2027, followed by reactor one work commencing sometime between March 2028 and March 2029.

The powerful tsunami, which reached over 40 meters in some areas, took the lives of 22,167 people. At the same time, the loss of power to the entire Fukushima Daiichi plant caused reactors one, two, and three to overheat, sparking hydrogen explosions and the release of radioactive contaminants. This forced 160,000 survivors to evacuate. Despite evacuation orders being lifted in some of the “difficult to return” areas, many still opt to stay away from their homes nine years later.

The next decommissioning stage sets out the removal of 4,471 spent fuel rods inside the cooling pools of reactors one to six. But the biggest obstacle is finding a way to locate and remove the molten nuclear fuel. With frequent delays, evacuees face a constant sense of uncertainty, tangled in a waiting game to see whether decommissioning work can be completed in 30 years.

Reactor two is seen as the safest and easiest option to start full-scale debris removal since it suffered the least structural damage with only “some fuel” melting through the pressure vessel and accumulating at the bottom of the containment vessel.  But with no established method for debris retrieval, attempts to survey the location and distribution of molten nuclear fuel among the rubble requires a lengthy trial and error process. In mid-February 2019 an attempt to probe and collect samples from reactor two failed to find and lift the main nuclear fuel debris, instead lifting portions of pebble-like sediment with the lowest radiation readings from the surface. At this stage there is no way for TEPCO, the company that owns the Fukushima Daiichi plant, to determine where fuel debris lies among the rest of the metal debris. It’s estimated that reactor two alone contains 237 metric tons of debris while reactors one and three contain a combined 880 tons. The complexity of debris removal requires developing specialized technology that does not yet exist.

Also plaguing decommissioning efforts is the battle over how to safely dispose of 1 million tons of contaminated water that were used to cool nuclear fuel. Currently, huge tanks on the premises store the polluted runoff, which could fill 400 Olympic swimming pools, but space is expected to run out by mid-2022.

On average 170 tons of contaminated water is produced to cool fuel in nuclear reactors. Without constant cooling, nuclear fuel risks melting from its own heat in a process called decay heat. With two years needed to prepare a disposal method, time is running out for a final decision.

Government proposals to slowly release contaminated water into the ocean has sparked fierce backlash from locals and the agriculture and fishing industries, who argue traces of radioactive materials such as tritium still found in “treated” water could further harm a region still struggling to restore its international reputation.

Last month, International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Chief Rafael Mariano Grossi visited the Fukushima nuclear power plant where he commended the government’s “dual approach” of decommissioning the plant while revitalizing the local community. Grossi said the IAEA could help provide reassurance to the public that Japan’s plan to release treated water into the ocean meets international standards.

To make matters worse, decommissioning operations have been temporarily suspended due to the spread of coronavirus. Tepco was forced to cancel on-site inspections of reactor one scheduled during March, which would have brought together some 1,800 experts and members of parliament, as well as local residents and student groups.

https://thediplomat.com/2020/03/japans-3-11-recovery-stalled-by-fukushima-decommissioning-delays/

March 20, 2020 Posted by | Fukushima 2020 | , , | Leave a comment

‘Fukushima’s radioactive water discharge is important to Koreans’

optimizeGreenpeace nuclear campaigner Shaun Burnie in front of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant, five years after the accident. The environmental organization has launched an underwater investigation into the marine impacts of radioactive contamination on the Pacific Ocean resulting from the 2011 nuclear disaster,

By Bahk Eun-ji

March 13, 2020

Shaun Burnie, a senior nuclear specialist at Greenpeace Germany, has been working in Fukushima since 1997 to stop the operation of the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant, with much of his time based in Japan.

Among a number of nuclear experts around the world who have been condemning the Japanese government’s plan to discharge radioactive water from the destroyed Fukushima power plant into the Pacific Ocean, Burnie claims this issue is clearly important to Koreans as they understand the risks of nuclear energy and care about the environment.

“Fukushima is a defining issue of this time as it continues to pose a threat to the environment not just of Japan but the Asia Pacific region. This is a nuclear disaster with no end and Koreans realize that only by speaking up and opposing bad decisions can the progress be made in protecting our environment,” he said.

The nuclear expert said the opposition in Korea to the Japanese government’s plan to discharge contaminated water from Fukushima is entirely justified and essential, so the opposition should continue here in Korea. At the same time, Koreans also should be supporting the local Japanese communities who are opposed to the discharges.

Burnie also said the discharges of the contaminated water are a direct threat to the marine ecosystem and human health as all radioactivity has the potential to cause harm as technically there is no safe level of exposure. The discharges are more than tritium, which can cause damage to human and non-human DNA, but also many other radionuclides such as strontium that, even if processing of the contaminated water is successful, will still be discharged in enormous quantities.

“None of this can be justified from an environmental perspective when there is a clear alternative ― long term storage and processing to remove radionuclides, including tritium.”

The Japanese government has sought for many years to deny that there are radiation risks in Fukushima, which is a central part of their strategy to support nuclear power. By creating the illusion that Fukushima has recovered from the 2011 disaster, the Japanese government think they can convince people to support the restarting of nuclear reactors although the majority of Japanese people are against it.

“It is one reason why the human rights of tens of thousands of Fukushima citizens, including women and children, as well as tens of thousands of workers are violated consistently by the Japanese government,” he said.
https://www.koreatimes.co.kr/www/nation/2020/03/371_286064.html

March 20, 2020 Posted by | Fukushima 2020 | , , , , | Leave a comment

Fukushima cleanup struggle focuses on what to do with contaminated water

Fukushima disaster shook the world, one of the biggest impediments to cleaning up the site in Northeastern Japan is coming from an unexpected source: The water.

 

2013_Fukushima_NB-2-300x199A waterlogged radiation and tsunami warning sign found on Fukushima beaches in 2013

March 13, 2020

Nine years after the Fukushima disaster shook the world, one of the biggest impediments to cleaning up the site in Northeastern Japan is coming from an unexpected source: The water.

That water, specifically 1.2 million tons of it, is still radioactive. Stored in 1,000 special tanks on the site of the nuclear power plant’s ruins, it’s taking up needed space – which the Japanese government plans to free up by dumping it into the sea.

But local residents, especially fishermen are opposed to that plan, telling touring reporters on the nine-year anniversary of the disaster that the water release would further damage the already battered reputation of fisheries – where sales remain at only half of what they were before the catastrophe.

Under discussion are two possible ways of disposing of Fukushima’s contaminated water. According to a government report released earlier this year, one possibility is that technicians could dilute the water to levels below the allowable safety limits, and then release it into the sea in a controlled way. The other is to allow the water to evaporate over the course of several years.

The dilemma over what do with the water is part of the complicated aftermath of the 9.0 magnitude earthquake and subsequent tsunami that hit on March 11, 2011. A wall of water destroyed cooling capabilities at the Fukushima nuclear plant and three of its six nuclear reactors melted down, forcing the evacuation of 160,000 people.

In the days that followed the quake, the Fukushima-Daiichi plant was rocked by hydrogen explosions, which burst through the roofs of the three afflicted reactors, sending radioactive iodine, cesium and other fission by-products belching into the environment. Millions of liters of water were pumped from the ocean to cool the overheating reactors, cascading contamination into the sea.

 

2013_Fukushima_NB-1-1024x714A clock stopped at the time the tsunami gushed in from the sea found in the destruction of a beach community in Fukushima.

Ever since then, the name of Fukushima has become synonymous with Chernobyl – the world’s other most notorious nuclear disaster – in connoting catastrophe, contamination and mass human evacuation.

Officials with Tokyo Electrical Power Co, or Tepco, say that the excess water they have collected must be disposed of so they can build facilities they need to begin the retrieval of radioactive debris within the reactors.

That wreckage is slated for removal by December 2021. Remote control cranes are being used to dismantle the cooling tower of the No 2 reactor, the first from which molten nuclear fuel was removed. Spent nuclear fuel stored in a pool at the No 3 reactor is being removed ahead of attempts to remove that reactor’s melted down fuel.

As the Associated Press reported, most above ground areas at the Fukushima plant can now be visited with minimal protective gear and a Geiger counter. The radioactive remains of the reactor buildings are, however, still off limits.

But areas underground beneath the plant remain extremely hazardous. Radioactive cooling water is leaking from the melted-down reactors and mixing with groundwater. The groundwater then must be pumped out to keep it from leaking into the sea. Other contaminated water – some of which was initially sprayed and dumped on the reactors while they were melting down – sit in other underground locations, leaking continuously into groundwater outside the plant.

Tepco has attempted to remove most radionuclides — like cesium and strontium – from the excess water, but the technology does not exist to cleanse it of tritium, a radioactive isotope of hydrogen. Coastal nuclear plants commonly dump water that contains tritium, which occurs naturally in nature, and Japanese officials insist it is harmless when ingested in small quantities.

But many are not pleased with Tepco’s assurances. Katsumi Shozugawa, a radiology expert at the University of Tokyo who has studied Fukushima’s groundwater, told the AP that long term, low-level radiation exposure in the food chain is poorly understood.

At this point, it is difficult to predict a risk,” he told AP. “Once the water is released into the environment, it will be very difficult to follow up and monitor its movement. So the accuracy of the data before any release is crucial and must be verified.”

https://bellona.org/news/nuclear-issues/2020-03-fukushima-cleanup-struggle-focuses-on-what-to-do-with-contaminated-water

March 20, 2020 Posted by | Fukushima 2020 | , | Leave a comment

Starting the Olympic torch relay in Fukushima should remind us of the dangers of nuclear power

FILES-OLY-2020-TOKYO-JPN-JAPAN-NUCLEAR-FUKUSHIMAA woman protests against the Olympics and the government’s nuclear energy policy Feb. 29 in Naraha, Fukushima Prefecture, where the Olympic torch relay begins this month.

March 13, 2020

VANCOUVER – If the Tokyo Olympics are held on schedule, thousands of athletes will soon come to Japan. Considering the multiple reactors that melted down there nine years ago, in March 2011, the government’s decision to start the ceremonial torch relay in Fukushima Prefecture seems a bit odd, to say the least.

While radiation levels may have declined since 2011, there are still hot spots in the prefecture, including near the sports complex where the torch relay will begin and along the relay route. The persistence of this contamination, and the economic fallout of the reactor accidents, should remind us of the hazardous nature of nuclear power.

Simultaneously, changes in the economics of alternative sources of energy in the last decade invite us to reconsider how countries, including Japan, should generate electricity in the future.

Japan is not alone in having experienced severe nuclear accidents. The 1986 Chernobyl accident also contaminated very large areas in Ukraine and Belarus. As in Japan, many people had to be evacuated; about 116,000, according to the 2000 report of the U.N. Scientific Committee on the Effects of Atomic Radiation. Many of them never did return; 34 years after the accident, thousands of square kilometers remain closed off to human inhabitation.

Events such as these are, naturally, traumatic and result in people viewing nuclear power as a risky technology. In turn, that view has led to persistent and widespread public opposition around the world.

This is evident in Japan too, where opinion polls show overwhelming opposition to the government’s plans to restart nuclear plants that have been shut down. One poll from February 2019 found 56 percent of respondents were opposed to, with only 32 percent in favor of, resuming nuclear operations. Other polls show significant local opposition, one example coming out of Miyagi Prefecture. Even the Japan Atomic Energy Relations Organization, which aims to promote nuclear power, finds that only 17.3 percent prefer nuclear energy, with much larger majorities preferring solar, wind and hydro power.

There is also the immense cost of cleaning up after such accidents. Estimates for the Fukushima disaster range from nearly $200 billion to over $600 billion. In 2013, France’s nuclear safety institute estimated that a similar accident in France could end up costing $580 billion. In Japan, just the cost of bringing old nuclear power plants into compliance with post-Fukushima safety regulations has been estimated at $44.2 billion.

Even in the absence of accidents and additional safety features, nuclear power is already very expensive. For the United States, the Wall Street firm Lazard estimates an average cost of $155 per megawatt-hour of nuclear electricity, more than three times the corresponding estimates of around $40 per MWh each for wind and solar energy. The latter costs have declined by around 70 to 90 percent in the last 10 years. In the face of the high costs of nuclear power — economic, environmental and public health — and overwhelming public opposition, it is puzzling that the government would persist in trying to restart nuclear power plants.

To explain his support for the technology, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe claims that the country cannot do without nuclear power, especially in view of climate change concerns. The claim about the necessity of nuclear power makes little sense. Since 2011, the country has been generating only a fraction of the nuclear electricity it used to generate, and yet the lights have not gone off. Further, starting in 2015, Japan’s total greenhouse gas emissions have fallen below the levels in 2011, because of “reduced energy consumption” and the increase in “low-carbon electricity.” The latter, in turn, is because of an increasing fraction of renewable energy in electricity generation, a factor that could play an important role in the future.

Some, including the Global Energy Network Institute and a group of analysts led by Stanford University’s Mark Jacobson, argue that Japan could be 100 percent powered by renewable energy. Regardless of whether Japan reaches that goal, there is little doubt that Japan could be expanding renewable energy, and that increased reliance on renewables makes economic and environmental sense.

Instead, the Abe government seems to be involved in lowering incentives for the development of solar energy, and promoting nuclear power. Efforts by Abe to support the failing and flailing nuclear sector in Japan are indicative of the significant political power wielded by the “nuclear village,” the network of power companies, regulators, bureaucrats and researchers that controls nuclear and energy policy.

Moreover, Abenomics involves exports of nuclear components and technology, as well as conventional arms, as an important component. So far, despite many trips by Abe to various countries, Japan has yet to export any reactors in the last decade; a project with the most likely client, Turkey, collapsed because of high costs.

This suggests one possible explanation: Perhaps Abe realizes that before exporting nuclear reactors, he first has to shore up the domestic nuclear industry and prove that Japan has fully recovered from the 2011 nuclear disaster. But is that worth the risk?

Restarting nuclear reactors or constructing new ones, should that ever happen, only increases the likelihood of more nuclear accidents in the future and raises the costs of electricity. Regardless of who we cheer for at the Olympic Games, nuclear power does not deserve our applause.

https://www.japantimes.co.jp/opinion/2020/03/13/commentary/japan-commentary/starting-olympic-torch-relay-fukushima-remind-us-dangers-nuclear-power/?fbclid=IwAR3x4IaqlQwkdqMwg816C3CaL95O40DpbRcG6UTRbDRDm3qc63R0HvH5Cq0#.Xmx7IXJCeUl

March 20, 2020 Posted by | Fukushima 2020 | , , , | Leave a comment

After ‘miracle recovery’, Fukushima brewers look to the Games to push sake globally

Greedy bloody criminals, having no conscience to poison all the people with their radiation contaminated sake!!!

hhjkmmAn employee of Miyaizumi Meijo Brewery picks up a sharaku sake prepared to be packed in crates during a new sake-brewing process in Aizu-Wakamatsu, Fukushima prefecture.

AIZU WAKAMATSU, Fukushima: The earth in Fukushima still trembled when Yoshihiro Miyamori drove in the dark towards his sake brewery. When he got back after midnight, he found smashed sake bottles and a crack in the wall of the building. It was Mar 11, 2011.

Miyamori was on his way to visit other sake-makers along Japan’s northeastern coast that day, and barely escaped the tsunami unleashed by a massive earthquake that razed towns and killed thousands, setting off nuclear meltdowns at the Fukushima power plant nearby.

“I needed some time to think about how I could recover from this,” Miyamori, 43, told Reuters on a recent tour of his “sakagura,” or sake brewery, Miyaizumi Meijo, in Fukushima’s city of Aizu Wakamatsu.

The breweries’ sales tanked by 66 per cent that month.

 

fggjhjkjlkkAn employee of Miyaizumi Meijo Brewery works on rice soaking during a new sake-brewing process in Aizu-Wakamatsu, Fukushima prefecture.

“I know people outside Fukushima were concerned about safety of rice and water,” said Miyamori.

With the Tokyo Olympics less than five months away, many spectators, and even some Olympic committees, have expressed concerns about the food from Fukushima.

But nine years after the nuclear meltdowns, Fukushima sake has made a remarkable recovery, winning the most trophies at one of Japan’s most important sake competitions seven years in a row. And Miyaizumi Meijo’s flagship brand Sharaku has become one of Japan’s most famous.

“We just kept doing what we know best – making quality sake,” he said.

But Miyamori’s understated comments hide a sake obsessive who abandoned a safe job in Tokyo to take over his father’s struggling business at 26. He revolutionised the production, renovated the brewery and paid off nearly US$3 million in debt.

After taking over in 2003, Miyamori pushed to directly oversee the sake-making – an anomaly in a business where normally the production is outsourced to brewing teams led by the “toji”, or chief brewer.

 

hgjhkjllmEmployees of Miyaizumi Meijo Brewery work on rice steaming during a new sake-brewing process in Aizu-Wakamatsu.

He sparked a backlash from the staff after moving to use specially filtered water to wash rice for each bottle, leading to an eventual departure of the toji and most of the brewing staff.

“I wanted to be particular about every single small detail of making sake,” said Miyamori.

He opened up the previously secret production data to staff. Whiteboards covered with numbers and diagrams on temperature, rice condition and alcohol content are scattered throughout the premises to ensure workers know what goes inside each bottle.

Miyamori launched Sharaku, known for its crispness, well-balanced acidity and sweetness, in 2008. The brand started ranking high in the Sendai Sake Summit, a nation-wide competition, before the 2011 earthquake. It became No. 1 in the year of the disaster, greatly aiding the recovery.

 

gjkjlmmSharaku sake of Miyaizumi Meijo Brewery pass through a filled bottle inspector during a new sake-brewing process in Aizu-Wakamatsu, Fukushima prefecture, Japan.

But Miyamori says he could not lead the rebound of the region’s sake on his own. He was first inspired to take over his father’s brewery after coming across Hiroki, a rival sake from the region, also led by a next-generation owner Kenji Hiroki, 53.

Now that his Sharaku has matched Hiroki in popularity, the two brewers drink together and tease each other about reviews of their alcohol.

Miyamori’s next rival is wine, he says, adding that he wants to use the Olympics to popularize sake globally.

Kenji Hiroki says of Miyamori, “you can brew better sake if you have a rival you can respect. Without Sharaku, Hiroki would not be as good as it is.”

https://www.channelnewsasia.com/news/business/japan-olympics-fukushima-earthquake-food-safety-sake-12535418

March 20, 2020 Posted by | Fukushima 2020 | , , , | Leave a comment

Nagasaki citizen’s group prays for survivors of Fukushima nuclear disaster

jmmCitizen’s group members form a human chain in front of the hypocenter cenotaph during an event to pray for the restoration of Fukushima, hit by the 2011 meltdowns of the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station, at the Hypocenter Park in the city of Nagasaki, on March 11, 2020

March 13, 2020

NAGASAKI — A citizen’s group in this southwestern Japan city destroyed by the 1945 U.S. atomic bombing held an event to pray for no more nuclear tragedies on March 11, the day of the meltdowns at the 2011 Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station.

A total of 15 participants, including atomic bomb survivors and high school students, gathered at the Nagasaki Hypocenter Park and offered a silent prayer at 2:46 p.m., the exact time the Great East Japan Earthquake struck, and formed a human chain in front of the hypocenter cenotaph.

The group was organized in 2013 and has interacted with people in Fukushima, which still struggles to recover from the nuclear disaster, to offer support from an area that has experienced the devastating destruction of nuclear weapons. Atomic bomb survivors and second-generation members have visited Fukushima and invited locals to visit Nagasaki for a lecture event.

Hiroko Sakaguchi, 70, a second-generation atomic bomb survivor, gave a speech at the March 11 event. “Many people still cannot return to their hometowns due to the nuclear accident. Even if buildings are rebuilt, that doesn’t mean real restoration. The disaster is still continuing there,” she said.

https://mainichi.jp/english/articles/20200312/p2a/00m/0na/020000c

March 20, 2020 Posted by | Fukushima 2020 | , | Leave a comment

Sendai High Court orders Tepco to pay more to Fukushima evacuees

n-tepco-a-20200314-870x567Plaintiffs and lawyers who filed a lawsuit seeking damages for having to evacuate after meltdowns at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant hold up banners Thursday in front of the Sendai High Court.

March13, 2020

SENDAI – A high court on Thursday ordered the operator of the crippled Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant to pay ¥730 million in damages to evacuees from the 2011 tsunami-triggered meltdown, up ¥120 million from a lower court ruling.

In their appeal at the Sendai High Court, 216 plaintiffs, most of whom are evacuees from areas within 30 kilometers of the plant, maintained their claim for a total of ¥1.88 billion in compensation from Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings Inc.

The latest ruling is the first to be handed down by a high court among 30 similar lawsuits filed nationwide by evacuees and victims seeking damages, either from the power company alone or both the utility and the state.

Tepco knew around April 2008 that there was the possibility of a tsunami that could be high enough to reach the site of the Fukushima No. 1 power plant and might cause the failure of the safety functions intended to halt the nuclear reactor,” presiding Judge Hisaki Kobayashi said when handing down the ruling.

The accident occurred while countermeasure construction had been postponed. From the victims’ point of view, this is the thing that Tepco should have the greatest amount of regret over,” he said. “Tepco’s lack of proper preparation is extremely regrettable and should be an important factor in calculating the amount of compensation.”

Also taking into account pain caused to the plaintiffs by the loss of their neighborhoods and hardships during evacuation, the court ordered additional compensation of ¥1 million each for evacuees mostly from areas once designated as restricted residence zones and ¥500,000 for those from former emergency evacuation preparation zones.

In the previous ruling at the Iwaki branch of the Fukushima District Court in March 2018, 213 out of 216 plaintiffs were awarded compensation of between ¥700,000 and ¥1.5 million per person, depending on where the victims were living.

Both the utility and the plaintiffs had appealed to the high court.

It is a fair ruling,” said Tokuo Hayakawa, who leads the plaintiffs. “We cannot go back to our daily lives even if the evacuation orders are lifted.”

Tepco said in a release that it was considering how to respond to the latest ruling.

The value sought in the lawsuit had been lowered by the plaintiffs from ¥13.3 billion to avoid the possibility of a prolonged trial that could have raised court costs and may have undermined the amount of money they could receive at its conclusion.

The plaintiffs argued that the operator could have foreseen the accident caused by the tsunami based on the government’s 2002 long-term assessment of major quakes, and demanded compensation for their “loss of a hometown” in addition to the amount already paid by the power company.

Tepco maintains that it could not have predicted the tsunami, and has claimed that the damages have already been paid to evacuees in accordance with government guidelines on compensation.

https://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2020/03/13/national/crime-legal/sendai-court-ups-tepco-payouts-fukushima-evacuees/?fbclid=IwAR3fRDL1wZA1ja0AHXkBFkYkaxiLujaP30ZlQhDWb1gl3Q5FDcVl7SYk58w#.XmunEXJCeUl

March 20, 2020 Posted by | Fukushima 2020 | , , | Leave a comment

Nine years after the Fukushima nuclear disaster: back to normal towards a bright future?

Translated by Hervé Courtois

 

1

 

Episode 1: radioactivity, return to the abnormal

March 9, 2020

A look back at the ninth anniversary of the Fukushima nuclear disaster – following the earthquake and tsunami of March 11, 2011. Today in Fukushima, the authorities are encouraging the return of refugees, without much success.

 

2The restaurant “Atom Sushi” in Tomioka, one year after the reopening of the village, has still not reopened.

 

The decontamination works will last more than 40 years but around the power plant, the exclusion zone is “only” 341 km², and the roads and villages formerly condemned are reopened one after the other by the authorities – anxious to a return to normal.

 

3Everywhere in the town of Fukushima, 80km from the power plant, they try to make people forget bad memories and make tourists coming back.

 

Except that villages like Iitate about fifty kilometers from the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant are still hopelessly empty.

 

4In the countryside near IItate, monitors are present everywhere in the landscape measuring radioactivity in microsieverts per hour.

 

How do we live there? The sociologist Cécile Asanuma-Brice, a researcher at the CNRS has been returning to the area every month for nine years. Ito-san travels the region with a Geiger counter and a shoulder strap dosimeter. Because as soon as we move away from the main axes, the future suddenly looks less bright.

 

5Nobuyoshi Ito returned to live in the previously evacuated area and collects data on environmental contamination

 

Episode 2: living with radioactivity

 

6Mr. Ito is always equipped with his dosimeter, to record the radioactivity accumulated in the reopened area.

 

Authorities are talking about a return to normal, and residents must get used to living with radioactivity. There are only two villages left in the 340 km² that are still too radioactive. Stations will be reopened in decontaminated pockets within these areas, but they will be fully automated to avoid irradiation of employees.

 

7Throughout the city of Fukushima, signs display the countdown of the days before the opening of the Olympic Games

 

And the Olympic flame will leave at the end of the month from the J village, about twenty kilometers from the power plant, and will even pass right by it – but according to a timed route to avoid too much exposure.
Everywhere they want to send the message that the page has been turned: “Forget the radiation, and think about the bright future of the Olympic Games”.

 

8

 

Except that to the rare refugees (no more than 20%) who returned to live in the reopened areas, it is something else that is been asked: to learn to live with radiation, on a daily basis.

 

9In the region, everywhere, radioactivity detectors are omnipresent, to reassure the population.

 

To get used to be living with a radioactivity detector. This is why the company Tepco, responsible for the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant, now speaks of “revitalizing” the area rather than about a return: it is because it had to be admitted that the original inhabitants would not return there.

 

10At Tepco’s headquarters in Tokyo, the company was nationalized after the disaster and announces 30 to 40 years of decontamination work.

 

Episode 3: Fukushima nine years later, it is impossible to turn the page

 

11On the Johoban highway that crosses the Fukushima area, an unbroken line of trucks transports radioactive waste to a disposal center. The soil measured at less than 8,000 becquerels per kilogram will be scattered everywhere.

 

March 11, 2020, 9 years to the day of the Fukushima disaster. And if the country has recovered from the magnitude 9.1 earthquake and tsunami that caused nearly 20,000 deaths, the area around the nuclear power plant is a wound that is far from being closed.

 

12Along the Tohoku coast, a tsunami-proof wall blocks the horizon

 

The radioactivity is still there and the evacuated residents still do not return. More than 44,000 refugees are still missing even though. Despite the radiation that will be there to last, the authorities want at all costs to use the Olympics this summer as an opportunity to turn the page on this regrettable incident. And that’s kind of the message that Tepco wants to give, when it opened a few months ago in Tomioka, a brand new information center, an interactive museum located 10km from the nuclear plant, to tell its version of the story. And necessarily, their version of the story is a little biased.

 

13In Tomioka, Tepco has just opened a museum to tell its side of the story and highlight all its efforts to revitalize the area.

 

No more than 20% of the evacuees returned to live near the plant, and almost exclusively elderly people like Ms. Kimiko. 9 years later, we are still far from the revitalization of Fukushima.

 

14Mrs. Kimiko returned to live in Tomioka 10km from the nuclear plant three years ago, she no longer recognizes her environment.

 

Episode 4: mothers of Fukushima

Nine years after the earthquake, the nuclear disaster is not over. Many are not content with orders to return to normal, given the abnormality of daily life around Fukushima – punctuated by radioactivity measures and prohibited areas. And even outside this perimeter, many associations mainly led by women and mothers, act daily for more transparency.

 

15Kaoru Konta is a medical doctor, she detects thyroid cancer.

 

For example, the MamaBecq, with a “Becq” like Becquerel, who inspect schoolyards with their Geiger counters. Or the Happy Island association, which organizes free screening for thyroid cancer in children. Happy Island is a funny name for such association, but you know how to say “happy island” in Japanese? “Fukushima”.

 

16Marie Suzuki is president of the association “Happy Island”

 

https://www.franceinter.fr/environnement/neuf-ans-apres-la-catastrophe-nucleaire-de-fukushima-retour-a-la-normale-vers-un-avenir-radieux?fbclid=IwAR3bm-4JHogTKj5a9ECW8en4e7X1g2WK4fsVlHo5F5N2o7IlcZOAlZvlIsQ

 

 

 

 

March 13, 2020 Posted by | Fukushima 2020 | , , | Leave a comment

Gov’t, TEPCO ordered to compensate Fukushima evacuees to Hokkaido

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March 11, 2020

SAPPORO — A court ordered the government and the operator of the crippled Fukushima nuclear plant Tuesday to pay a combined 52.9 million yen in damages to 89 people who evacuated from their hometowns to Hokkaido after the 2011 nuclear disaster.

The Sapporo District Court ruling marked the seventh case where both the government and Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings Inc were ordered to pay damages, out of 11 cases brought against the two parties. In the four other cases, only TEPCO was ordered to pay damages.

It was also the 15th decision handed down among around 30 similar damages suits filed across Japan over one of the world’s worst nuclear disasters, triggered by the massive earthquake and tsunami in March 2011.

A total of 257 plaintiffs, 90 percent of whom at the time were living in Fukushima city and other locations outside of areas given evacuation orders, had sought a combined 4.24 billion yen from the utility and the state.

“While (the ruling) is a sign of recognition of the government’s responsibility, it doesn’t reflect the actual lives that those who evacuated to Hokkaido have led,” a lawyer representing the plaintiffs told reporters after the court decision.

Following the ruling, TEPCO offered a “heartfelt apology for causing great trouble and worries” to those affected in Fukushima and other areas and said it will consider how to respond to the court decision after closely examining it.

At the court, the operator had said it had already paid damages to some of the plaintiffs and that the amount was adequate as it was based on the government guidelines. The utility also said it was not obligated to compensate the others as they had voluntarily evacuated.

The government has denied responsibility for the disaster, saying it could not have foreseen the flooding of the nuclear plant due to a tsunami.

The plaintiffs argued that TEPCO neglected to take preventive measures although it could have predicted earthquake and tsunami risks at the plant, and that the government did not enforce adequate safety measures despite approving power generation at the complex.

They also said that the psychological distress they suffered due to fears that radiation exposure had damaged their health, among other concerns, had impacted their ability to lead a normal life following the evacuation.

https://japantoday.com/category/national/gov%27t-tepco-ordered-to-compensate-fukushima-evacuees-to-hokkaido

March 13, 2020 Posted by | Fukushima 2020 | , , , | 1 Comment

Fukushima: How the ocean became a dumping ground for radioactive waste

The nuclear disaster at Fukushima sent an unprecedented amount of radiation into the Pacific. But, before then, atomic bomb tests and radioactive waste were contaminating the sea — the effects are still being felt today.

 

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March 11, 2020

Almost 1.2 million liters (320,000 gallons) of radioactive water from the Fukushima nuclear power plant is to be released into the ocean. That’s on the recommendation of the government’s advisory panel some nine years after the nuclear disaster on Japan’s east coast. The contaminated water has since been used to cool the destroyed reactor blocks to prevent further nuclear meltdowns. It is currently being stored in large tanks, but those are expected to be full by 2022.

Exactly how the water should be dealt with has become highly controversial in Japan, not least because the nuclear disaster caused extreme contamination off the coast of Fukushima. At the time, radioactive water flowed “directly into the sea, in quantities we have never seen before in the marine world,” Sabine Charmasson from the French Institute for Radiological Protection and Nuclear Safety (IRSN) tells DW.

Radiation levels in the sea off Fukushima were millions of times higher than the government’s limit of 100 becquerels. And still today, radioactive substances can be detected off the coast of Japan and in other parts of the Pacific. They’ve even been measured in very small quantities off the US west coast in concentrations “well below the harmful levels set by the World Health Organization,” according to Vincent Rossi, an oceanographer at France’s Mediterranean Institute of Oceanography (MIO).

 

37863914_401The contaminated water in these storage tanks at Fukushima could be released into the sea as of 2022

 

15802302_401People observing a minute of silence for the victims of the 2011 earthquake and tsunami

 

But that doesn’t mean there’s no risk, says Horst Hamm of the Nuclear Free Future Foundation. “A single becquerel that gets into our body is enough to damage a cell that will eventually become a cancer cell,” he says.

A study from the European Parliament reached a similar conclusion. The research found that “even the smallest possible dose, a photon passing through a cell nucleus, carries a cancer risk. Although this risk is extremely small, it is still a risk.”

And that risk is growing. Radioactive pollution in the ocean has been increasing globally — and not just since the disaster at Fukushima.

Atomic bomb tests

In 1946, the US became the first country to test an atomic bomb in a marine area, in the Pacific Bikini Atoll. Over the next few decades, more than 250 further nuclear weapons tests were carried out on the high seas. Most of them (193) were conducted by France in French Polynesia, and by the US (42), primarily in the Marshall Islands and the Central Pacific. 

 

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But the ocean wasn’t just being used as a training ground for nuclear war. Until the early 1990s, it was also a gigantic dump for radioactive waste from nuclear power plants. 

From 1946 to 1993, more than 200,000 tons of waste, some of it highly radioactive, was dumped in the world’s oceans, mainly in metal drums, according to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). Several nuclear submarines, including nuclear ammunition, were also sunk during this time.

Is the ocean a perfect storage site?

The lion’s share of dumped nuclear waste came from Britain and the Soviet Union, figures from the IAEA show. By 1991, the US had dropped more than 90,000 barrels and at least 190,000 cubic meters of radioactive waste in the North Atlantic and Pacific. Other countries including Belgium, France, Switzerland and the Netherlands also disposed of tons of radioactive waste in the North Atlantic in the 1960s, 70s and 80s.

“Under the motto, ‘out of sight, out of mind,’ the dumping of nuclear waste was the easiest way to get rid of it,” says Horst Hamm.

To this day, around 90% of the radiation in the ocean comes from barrels discarded in the North Atlantic, most of which lie north of Russia or off the coast of Western Europe.

“The barrels are everywhere,” says ecologist Yannick Rousselet of Greenpeace France. He was present in 2000 when the environmental organization used submarines to dive for dumped drums a few hundred meters off the coast of northern France, at a depth of 60 meters (196 feet).

“We were surprised how close they were to the coast,” Rousselet says. “They are rusty and leaking, with the radiation clearly elevated.”

 

52446012_401The radioactive pollution of the oceans began in 1946 when the US tested a nuclear bomb at Bikini Atoll Micronesia.

 

52446312_401Nuclear waste barrels dumped in the sea decades ago, a common practice in the Channel between France and England in the 1960s, are now rusty and are leaking radioactive substances

 

Germany also implicated

In 1967, Germany also dumped 480 barrels off the coast of Portugal, according to the IAEA. Responding to a 2012 request for information from the Greens about the condition of those barrels, the German government wrote: “The barrels were not designed to ensure the permanent containment of radionuclides on the sea floor. Therefore, it must be assumed that they are at least partially no longer intact.”

Germany and France don’t want to salvage the barrels. And even Greenpeace activist Yannick Rousselet says he sees “no safe way to lift the rusted barrels” to the surface. That means nuclear waste will likely continue to contaminate the ocean floor for decades to come.

For Horst Hamm, the long-term consequences are clear. The radiation will be “absorbed by the marine animals surrounding it. They will eventually end up caught in fishing nets, and come back to our plates,” he says.

In its 2012 response to the Greens, however, the German government described the risk to humans from contaminated fish as “negligible.”

Rousselet sees things differently: “The entire area along the coast is contaminated by radiation — not just in the sea, in the grass, in the sand, you can measure it everywhere.”

 

52446337_401The reprocess in plant in La Hague is still discharging radioactive water into the sea. Cancer rates have increased in the region, according to a report by the European Parliament

 

Radioactive dumping ground

The main reason behind the radiation along the northern French coastline isn’t the underwater barrels, but rather the nuclear fuel reprocessing plant at La Hague. It is located directly on the coast and “legally discharges 33 million liters of radioactive liquid into the sea each year,” says Rousselet. He thinks it’s scandalous.

In recent years, La Hague has also been the scene of several incidents involving increased radioactivity levels.

The dumping of nuclear waste in drums was banned in 1993 by the London Convention on the Prevention of Marine Pollution. But discharging liquid contaminated with radiation into the ocean is still permitted internationally.

Spike in cancer rates

According to a study by the European Parliament, statistics show cancer rates are significantly higher in the region surrounding La Hague. Cancer rates are also high near the nuclear processing plant in Sellafield in northern England. A study from 2014 concluded that the total amount of radioactivity discharged into the sea from the Sellafield plant over the years is equivalent to the amount released by the nuclear meltdown at Fukushima.

The report say a link to health effects “cannot be ruled out” even if there is no clear evidence to date of a link between illness and radioactive discharges from nuclear facilities.

“The exact effects of radioactive radiation are extremely difficult to measure and prove. We only know that it has an impact,” says Rousselet, adding that it’s crucial to walk away from everything that causes radioactive waste.

 

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Dumping more waste at Fukushima

In Fukushima, the operating company of the Tokyo Electric Power Company nuclear plant claims that before the cooling water is discharged into the sea as planned, all 62 radioactive elements will be filtered down to safe levels — except for the isotope tritium. The advisory panel in Tokyo considers discharging the cooling water into the sea to be “safer” than other alternatives, such as evaporating the water.

Just how harmful tritium is to humans is a source of controversy. According to the plant operator, the concentration of tritium in the collection tanks is sometimes much higher than that of conventional cooling water from nuclear power stations.

“The local fishermen and residents cannot accept the discharge of water,” Takami Morita of the National Research Institute of Fisheries Science said in a press release. While fish pollution levels are below the harmful limit, demand for fish from the region has dropped to one-fifth of what it was before the disaster.

Releasing the cooling water into the sea “is a good method because of the diluting properties of the water,” Sabine Charmasson of the IRSN says. “There aren’t any real problems on the security side, but it’s difficult, because there are also social implications. It might be an appropriate method, but it’s never easy to release radioactive substances into the environment.”

In a press release, Greenpeace said: “There is no justification for additional, deliberate radioactive pollution of the marine environment or atmosphere.”

https://www.dw.com/en/fukushima-how-the-ocean-became-a-dumping-ground-for-radioactive-waste/a-52710277

March 13, 2020 Posted by | Fukushima 2020 | , , | Leave a comment

Safety of Fukushima nuke plant waste water focus of sea release debate

0001In this Feb. 12, 2020 photo, a worker in a hazmat suit carries a hose at a water treatment facility at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant in Okuma, Fukushima Prefecture.

 

March 11, 2020

OKUMA, Japan (AP) — Inside a giant decontamination facility at the destroyed Fukushima nuclear power plant, workers in hazmat suits monitor radioactive water pumped from three damaged reactors, making sure it’s adequately — though not completely — treated.

Three lines of equipment connected to pipes snaking around in this dimly lit, sprawling facility can process up to 750 tons of contaminated water a day. Four other lines elsewhere in the plant can process more.

From there, the water is pumped to a complex of about 1,000 temporary storage tanks that crowd the plant’s grounds, where additional tanks are still being built. Officials say the huge tanks will be completely full by the summer of 2022.

The decontamination process, which The Associated Press viewed on a recent tour, is a key element of a contentious debate over what should be done with the nearly 1.2 million tons of still-radioactive water being closely watched by governments and organizations around the world ahead of this summer’s Tokyo Olympics.

The plant’s operator, Tokyo Electric Power Co., or TEPCO, says it needs to free up space as work to decommission the damaged reactors approaches a critical phase. It’s widely expected that TEPCO will gradually release the water into the nearby ocean following a government decision allowing it to do so. The company is still vague on the timing.

But local residents, especially fishermen, are opposed to the plan because they think the water release would hurt the reputation of already battered fisheries, where annual sales remain about half of the level before the nuclear accident, even though the catch has cleared strict radioactivity tests.

TEPCO Chief Decommissioning Officer Akira Ono says the water must be disposed as the plant’s decommissioning moves forward because the area used by the tanks is needed to build facilities for the retrieval of melted reactor debris.

Workers are planning to remove a first batch of melted debris by December 2021. Remote control cranes are dismantling a highly contaminated exhaust tower near Unit 2, the first reactor to get its melted fuel removed. At Unit 3, spent fuel units are being removed from a cooling pool ahead of the removal of melted fuel.

The dilemma over the ever-growing radioactive water is part of the complex aftermath of the magnitude 9.0 earthquake and tsunami that hit on March 11, 2011, destroying key cooling functions at the Fukushima Dai-ichi plant. Three reactors melted, releasing massive amounts of radiation and forcing 160,000 residents to evacuate. About 40,000 still haven’t returned.

Except for the highly radioactive buildings that house the melted reactors, most above-ground areas of the plant can now be visited while wearing just a surgical mask, cotton gloves, a helmet and a personal dosimeter. The area right outside the plant is largely untouched and radiation levels are often higher.

The underground areas remain a hazardous mess. Radioactive cooling water is leaking from the melted reactors and mixes with groundwater, which must be pumped up to keep it from flowing into the sea and elsewhere. Separately, even more dangerously contaminated water sits in underground areas and leaks continuously into groundwater outside the plant, experts say.

The contaminated water pumped from underground first goes through cesium and strontium removal equipment, after which most is recycled as cooling water for the damaged reactors. The rest is filtered by the main treatment system, known as ALPS, which is designed to remove all 62 radioactive contaminants except for tritium, TEPCO says.

Tritium cannot be removed from water and is ‘virtually’ harmless when consumed in small amounts, ‘according’ to Japan’s industry ministry and nuclear regulatory officials.

But despite repeated official reassurances, there are widespread worries about eating fish that might be affected if the contaminated water is released into the sea. Katsumi Shozugawa, a radiology expert at the University of Tokyo who has been analyzing groundwater around the plant, said the long-term consequences of low-dose exposure in the food chain hasn’t been fully investigated.

“At this point, it is difficult to predict a risk,” he said. “Once the water is released into the environment, it will be very difficult to follow up and monitor its movement. So the accuracy of the data before any release is crucial and must be verified.”

After years of discussions about what to do with the contaminated water without destroying the local economy and its reputation, a government panel issued a report earlier this year that narrowed the water disposal options to two: diluting the treated water to levels below the allowable safety limits and then releasing it into the sea in a controlled way, or allowing the water to evaporate in a years-long process.

The report also urged the government to do more to fight the “reputational damage” to Fukushima fishing and farm produce, for instance by promoting food fairs, developing new sales routes and making use of third-party quality accreditation systems.

TEPCO and government officials promise the plant will treat the water for a second time to meet legal requirements before any release.

At the end of the tour of the treatment facility, a plant official showed a glass bottle containing clear water taken from the processing equipment. Workers are required to routinely collect water samples for analysis at laboratories at the plant. Radiology technicians were analyzing the water at one lab, where AP journalists were not allowed to enter. Officials say the treated water will be diluted with fresh water before it is released into the environment.

Doubts about the plant’s water treatment escalated two years ago when TEPCO acknowledged that most of the water stored in the tanks still contains cancer-causing cesium, strontium and other radioactive materials at levels exceeding safety limits.

Masumi Kowata, who lives in Okuma, a town where part of the plant is located, said some of her neighbors are offering their land so that more storage tanks can be built.

“We should not dump the water until we have proof about its safety,” she said. “The government says it’s safe, but how do we know?”

 

0002In this Feb. 12, 2020 photo, two workers wearing hazmat suits work at a water treatment facility at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant in Okuma, Fukushima Prefecture

 

0003In this Feb. 12, 2020 photo, a worker removes a plastic layer covering his hazmat suit after working at a water treatment facility at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant in Okuma, Fukushima Prefecture.

 

0004In this Feb. 12, 2020 photo, engineers analyze water samples in a lab at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant in Okuma, Fukushima Prefecture.

gklkIn this Feb. 12, 2020 photo, the No. 1 and 2 reactor buildings, damaged by the 2011 earthquake and tsunami, are seen at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant in Okuma, Fukushima Prefecture.

https://mainichi.jp/english/articles/20200310/p2g/00m/0fe/094000c

 

March 13, 2020 Posted by | Fukushima 2020 | , , | 1 Comment

Japanese environment ministry found solution to counter harmful rumors

pot_terre_rad-300x233

Translated by Hervé Courtois

March 11, 2020
It is well known, there is no problem in Fukushima, the “situation is under control”, as the Japanese Prime Minister had declared to the Olympic committee. There are only harmful rumors!

Opposition to the discharge of contaminated water into the ocean: harmful rumors. Opposition to the reuse of contaminated land resulting from decontamination: harmful rumors. Low population return rate: harmful rumors.

The Japanese environment ministry has found the solution: put a potted plant with radioactive soil at its headquarters in Tokyo (source: direct link, copy). As he says, “This is one of the recycling demonstration efforts to eliminate misconception toward Fukushima.” This is one of the recycling demonstration efforts to eliminate misconception toward Fukushima.

These pots could be sold. The nuclear industry will surely be happy to offer them. It will be greener than goodies made in China. We look forward to aquariums with contaminated water from tanks …
Okay, there’s just 16 million cubic meters of earth and 1.2 million cubic meters of water to get rid like this …

Le ministère de l’environnement japonais a trouvé la solution pour lutter contre les rumeurs néfastes

March 13, 2020 Posted by | Fukushima 2020 | , | 1 Comment

In Tokyo, a growing sense of angst over possible virus-hit Olympics

Olympics Tokyo Who Loses?A man walks in front of the Tokyo Metropolitan Government building on Feb. 25.

Mar 11, 2020

For weeks, Olympic organizers have relentlessly pushed a consistent message: The Summer Games in Tokyo will not be canceled or postponed.

On Wednesday, Olympic Minister Seiko Hashimoto called postponement “inconceivable,” pushing back on a Wall Street Journal report in which Haruyuki Takahashi, a member of the executive board for the Japanese organizing committee, suggested that the games could be delayed by one or two years if unable to be held as scheduled due to the coronavirus outbreak.

With the star athletes in the middle of preparations for this event which happens only once every four years, a cancellation or delay to the Tokyo games is inconceivable,” Hashimoto said in a parliamentary committee. “A delay is not under consideration.”

But behind the scenes, sponsors who have pumped billions of dollars into the games have grown increasingly nervous about how the coronavirus outbreak will impact the event.

When organizers and sponsors met privately to discuss preparations last Wednesday, the companies learned there had been no decision on whether — or when — there would be any changes to the games.

A lot of people are starting to worry, but there’s nothing much we can do,” a representative of an Olympic sponsor, who was present at the previously unreported meeting, said.

If this continues into April, May, June, it will be an issue, but we’re still waiting to see what will happen,” added the representative, who was not authorized to speak to the media and spoke on condition of anonymity.

The meetings between the Tokyo 2020 organizing committee and “partner companies,” including sponsors, take place regularly. There were dozens of people present at the one last week.

Nothing has been decided. On the inside, it’s a mess,” said a person briefed on the meeting, speaking on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the matter.

The final decision belongs to the powerful International Olympic Committee chief, Thomas Bach. Companies such as Coca-Cola Co., Bridgestone Corp, Canon Inc., Toyota Motor Corp. and Panasonic Corp. sponsor the games, and Japanese brands have for decades been some of the most generous.

The IOC said on Wednesday that “the preparations for the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 are continuing as planned.”

Tokyo 2020 organizing committee did not respond to a request for comment.

The meeting last week brought into focus the scale of what organizers are grappling with: pressure to avoid a coronavirus crisis among 600,000 expected overseas spectators and athletes at an event that could see $3 billion in sponsorships and at least $12 billion spent on preparations evaporate.

Takahashi, one of more than two dozen members of the board of the Tokyo 2020 organizing committee, said it has just started working on scenarios for how the virus could affect the games. But a sponsor representative present at the meeting last week said those plans are not being shared with the companies.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has staked his legacy as the longest-serving Japanese leader on staging a successful games and bringing a massive jolt, estimated at $2.3 billion, to the stagnant economy with tourism and consumer spending.

Some Olympic qualifiers and test events have been relocated or delayed. The games themselves don’t start until late July, leaving some time for the organizers to make the final call.

Neal Pilson, the former head of CBS Sports, who was involved in broadcasting rights negotiations for three Winter Olympics said he expected organizers to assess the situation by early May at the latest, when they “will have a better fix on whether the epidemic is tapering down or continuing to expand.”

Hashimoto said the end of May was a possible time frame for a decision.

Organizers have begun to modify their tone. At a news conference last week, Tokyo 2020 chief Yoshiro Mori vehemently denied that the games would be canceled, but added that planners were “listening to various opinions” and responding “flexibly because the situation changes day by day.”

Last week, Hashimoto was questioned in parliament on the clause in the contract between the IOC and the organizers in Japan that determines when the Olympic committee could terminate the games.

One of the scenarios is the inability of the host city to hold the Olympics in 2020.

The mention of the clause touched off speculation that the minister was hinting at a delay, which sponsors at last week’s meeting were told sparked the ire of the IOC.

As a result, Hashimoto called senior members of the Tokyo 2020 organizing committee to explain how she was “misunderstood.”

According to the contract, the Tokyo metropolitan government, the Tokyo 2020 organizing committee and the Japanese Olympic Committee signed away any right to indemnity, damages or compensation from the IOC.

The contract says the IOC may scrap the games when safety is “seriously threatened,” among other reasons.

Those three bodies have formed a task force on the virus that consults closely with the World Health Organization, which last week warned against “false hopes” that the virus would disappear with warmer summer weather.

Many sports in Japan, such as rugby and sumo, have held recent matches without spectators.

Although keeping spectators away would cost estimated $800 million in lost ticket sales, it could still provide billions in revenue from broadcast and marketing rights.

But experts said it would still be difficult to organize safe games with thousands of athletes living in close proximity.

In the Olympic village alone, you’re bringing together 17,000-18,000 people, they’re living in close quarters, interacting with each other, coming from all over the world,” said Andrew Zimbalist, an economist at Smith College specializing in sports economics.

A Tokyo 2020 official involved in the discussions on Olympics and the virus said that delaying the games until later in the year would be difficult.

Takahashi, of the organizing committee, said a one- or two-year delay would better accommodate professional sports schedules, which are planned years in advance.

We need to start preparing for any possibility. If the games can’t be held in the summer, a delay of one or two years would be most feasible,” Takahashi said.

https://www.japantimes.co.jp/sports/2020/03/11/olympics/tokyo-2020-olympics-cancel-coronavirus/?fbclid=IwAR31jS5x11pf1gNX3eE34vubB3CrtVIoaXDcTjzFK7VuFGIKutC7MCN-98o#.XmlCoEpCeUl

March 13, 2020 Posted by | Japan | , | Leave a comment