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Testing for radiation in Fukushima – the continued anxiety

Nine years on, Fukushima’s mental health fallout lingers

As radiation from the Fukushima nuclear accident subsides, a damaging social and psychological legacy continues, Wired


By SOPHIE KNIGHT 24 June 20,  If it were not illegal, Ayumi Iida would love to test a dead body. Recently, she tested a wild boar’s heart. She’s also tested the contents of her vacuum cleaner and the filter of her car’s air conditioner. Her children are so used to her scanning the material contents of their life that when she cuts the grass, her son asks, “Are you going to test that too?”

Iida, who is 35, forbids her children from entering the sea or into forests. She agonises over which foods to buy. But no matter what she does, she can’t completely protect her children from radiation. It even lurks in their urine.

“Maybe he’s being exposed through the school lunch,” she says, puzzling over why her nine-year-old son’s urine showed two-and-a-half times the concentration of caesium that hers did, when she takes such care shopping. “Or maybe it’s from the soil outside where he plays. Or is it because children have a faster metabolism, so he flushes more out? We don’t know.”

Iida is a public relations officer at Tarachine, a citizens’ lab in Fukushima, Japan, that tests for radioactive contamination released from the 2011 accident at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant. Agricultural produce grown in the area is subject to government and supermarket testing, but Tarachine wants to provide people with an option to test anything, from foraged mushrooms to dust from their home. Iida tests anything unknown before feeding it to her four children. Recently, she threw out some rice she received as a present after finding its level of contamination – although 80 times lower than the government limit – unacceptably high. “My husband considered eating it ourselves, but it’s too much to cook two batches of rice for every meal. In the end we fed it to some seagulls.”

Tarachine is one of several citizen labs founded in the wake of the Tōhoku earthquake and tsunami on March 11, 2011, which obliterated a swathe of the country’s northwest coast and killed more than 18,000 people. The wave knocked out cooling systems at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant, triggering a meltdown in three of the reactor cores and hydrogen explosions that sprayed radionuclides across the Fukushima prefecture. More than 160,000 people were forced to evacuate. A government decontamination programme has allowed evacuation orders to be lifted in many municipalities, but one zone is still off limits, with only short visits permitted.

Driven by a desire to find out precisely how much radiation there was in the environment and where, a group of volunteers launched Tarachine in Iwaki, a coastal city that escaped the worst of the radioactive plume and was not evacuated, through a crowdfunding campaign in November 2011. It is now registered as a non-profit organisation, and runs on donations.

In a windowless room controlled for temperature and humidity and dotted with screens showing graphs, two women sort and label samples, either collected by staff or sent in by the public: soil from back gardens, candied grasshoppers, seawater. In the beginning, mothers sent in litres of breastmilk. Tarachine initially charged a tenth of what a university lab would charge to make the testing accessible to as many people as possible; last year, they made it free.

To test for caesium-137, the main long-term contaminant released from the plant, staff finely chop samples and put them inside a gamma counter, a cylindrical grey machine that looks like a centrifuge. Tarachine’s machines are more accurate than the more commonly accessible measuring tools: at some public monitoring posts, shoppers can simply place their produce on top of a device to get a reading, but this can be heavily skewed by background radiation (waving a Geiger counter over food won’t give an accurate reading for the same reason). Tarachine tries to get as precise readings as possible; the lab’s machines give results to one decimal place, and they try to block out excess background radiation by placing bottles of water around the machines.

Measuring for strontium, a type of less penetrative beta radiation, is even more complicated: the food has to first be roasted to ash before being mixed with an acid and sifted. The whole process takes two to three days. Tarachine received training and advice from university radiation labs around the country, but the volunteers had to experiment with everyday food items that scientists had never tested. “There was no recipe like ‘Roast the leaf for two hours at so-and-so Celsius’, you know?” says Iida. “If it’s too burnt it’s no good. We also had to experiment with types of acid and how much of the acid to add.”

Japanese government standards for radiation are some of the most stringent in the world: the upper limit of radioactive caesium in food such as meat and vegetables is 100 becquerels per kilogram, compared with 1,250 in the European Union and 1,200 in the US (the becquerel unit measures how much ionizing radiation is released due to radioactive decay). Many supermarkets adhere to a tighter limit, proudly advertising that their produce contains less than 40 becquerels, or as few as 10. Tarachine aims for just 1 becquerel.

“How I think about it is, how much radiation was there in local rice before the accident? It was about 0.01 becquerel. So that’s what I want the standard to be,” says Iida. Continue reading

June 25, 2020 Posted by | Fukushima continuing, radiation, social effects | Leave a comment

Don’t lets get “emotional” about nuclear-caused deformities, illnesses, deaths..

February 18, 2020 Posted by | 2 WORLD, psychology - mental health, social effects, spinbuster | Leave a comment

Report shows that most young adults fear a nuclear attack this decade

January 21, 2020 Posted by | 2 WORLD, psychology - mental health, social effects, weapons and war | Leave a comment

The radiation poisoning of Iraq lingers on

“The destruction of a society”: First the U.S. invaded Iraq — then we left it poisoned      Scientist: Bombs, bullets and military hardware abandoned by U.S. forces have left Iraq “toxic for millennia”, Salon.com  DAVID MASCIOTRA  7 Sept 19

The political and moral culture of the United States allows for bipartisan cooperation to destroy an entire country, killing hundreds of thousands of people in the process, without even the flimsiest of justification. Then, only a few years later, everyone can act as if it never happened.

In 2011, the U.S. withdrew most of its military personnel from Iraq, leaving the country in ruins. Estimates of the number of civilians who died during the war in Iraq range from 151,000 to 655,000. An additional 4,491 American military personnel perished in the war. Because the bombs have stopped falling from the sky and the invasion and occupation of Iraq no longer makes headlines, Americans likely devote no thought to the devastation that occurred in their name.

With the exception of Rep. Tulsi Gabbard of Hawaii, who is currently polling at or below 2 percent, no candidate for the Democratic presidential nomination has consistently addressed the criminality, cruelty and cavalier wastefulness of American foreign policy. Joe Biden, the frontrunner in the race, not only supported the war in Iraq — despite his recent incoherent claims to the contrary — but as chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee acted as its most effective and influential salesman in the Democratic Party.

The blasé attitude of America toward the death and destruction it creates, all while boasting of its benevolence, cannot withstand the scrutiny of science. Dr. Mozhgan Savabieasfahani, an environmental toxicologist at the University of Michigan and recipient of the Rachel Carson Prize, has led several investigative expeditions in Iraq to determine how the pollutants and toxic chemicals from the U.S.-led war are poisoning Iraq’s people and environment. The health effects are catastrophic, and will remain so long after the war reached its official end.

previously interviewed Savabieasfahani about her initial research, and recently acquired an update regarding her team’s latest discovery that there is a close correlation between proximity to a U.S. military base and birth defects in Iraqi children.

Average Americans, even many who opposed the war in Iraq, seem to believe that once the military campaign is over the casualties of war stop accumulating. What is the purpose of your general research regarding the toxicity of the Iraqi environment resulting from American bombs, munitions and other materials? How does the American invasion and occupation continue to adversely affect the health of Iraqis?

Bombs and bullets have been used on an extreme scale in Iraq. Dropping tons of bombs and releasing millions of bullets leaves toxic residues the in air, water and soil of the targeted population. These pollutants continue to poison those populations years after the bombing stops

What’s more, the United States imported thousands of tons of military equipment into Iraq to use in their occupation. They include, tanks, trucks, bombers, armored vehicles, infantry weapons, antiaircraft systems, artillery and mortars — some of which are coated with depleted uranium, and much more. These eventually find their way into U.S. military junkyards which remain across Iraq.

There are unknown numbers of military junkyards scattered across the Iraqi landscape.

Fluctuations in temperature facilitates the rusting and weathering of military junk, releasing toxic pollutants [including radioactive uranium compounds, neurotoxic lead and mercury, etc.] into the Iraqi environment.

Uranium and its related compounds remain toxic for millennia and poison local populations through food, air and water contamination.

The exposure of pregnant mothers to the pollutions of war, including uranium and thorium, irreversibly damages their unborn children. We found thorium, a product of depleted uranium decay, in the hair of Iraqi children with birth defects who lived in Nasiriyah and Ur City, near a U.S. military base. 

The destruction of a society does not stop after U.S. bombs stop falling. Environmental contamination which the U.S. leaves behind continues to destroy our environment and poison our people decades after the bombs have stopped falling. The U.S. has a long history of irreversibly destroying human habitats. That must end…….

Forty-four years after U.S. forces left Vietnam, there are still Vietnamese babies born with birth defects from the American military’s use of Agent Orange. How long do you believe Iraqis will continue to suffer from the American-led war?

If left unmitigated, the population will be permanently exposed to elevated toxic exposures which can impact the Iraqi gene pool.

Through the use of the scientific method, you are gaining the ability to identify a severe problem in Iraq. Considering that the problem is a result of the U.S. invasion, what could the U.S. do to solve or at least mitigate the problem?

The U.S. must be held responsible and forced to clean up all the sites which it has polluted. Technology exists for the cleanup of radiation contamination. The removal and disposal of U.S.-created military junkyards would go a long way towards cleaning toxic releases out of the Iraqi environment.

You are a scientist, not a political analyst, but you must have some thoughts regarding the political implications of your work. How do you react to the lack of substantive conversation about the consequences of war in American politics and the press, and the American establishment’s evasion of responsibility on this issue?

I expect nothing from the American political establishment or their propaganda machines which masquerade as “news media” and feed uncritically off State Department press briefings.

Fortunately, there is a movement to criminalize environmental contamination caused by war. Damage to nature and the human environment must be considered a war crime.

Scientists are currently asking international lawmakers to adopt a fifth Geneva Convention which would recognize damage to nature as a war crime, alongside other war crimes. I hope that will make a difference in our ability to protect human lives and our environment. ……  https://www.salon.com/2019/09/07/the-destruction-of-a-society-first-the-u-s-invaded-iraq-then-we-left-it-poisoned/

September 9, 2019 Posted by | environment, Iraq, radiation, social effects, USA | Leave a comment

Revealed: mental health crisis at Hinkley Point C nuclear construction site

Revealed: mental health crisis at Hinkley Point C construction site.
Guardian 13th Aug 2019 Several workers on nuclear plant have killed themselves or attempted to,
says union. Hinkley is grappling with a mental illness crisis, with several
attempted suicides since work began in 2016, a Guardian investigation can
reveal.
More than 4,000 workers are on site delivering the vast decade-long
building project, a central plank in Britain’s future energy strategy. But
according to union officials, there has been a surge in suicide attempts
this year, a rise in the number of people off sick with stress, anxiety and
depression, and an increase in workers suffering from mental distress.
Officials from the Unite union say they have been told of 10 suicide
attempts in the first four months of 2019. The Guardian understands at
least two workers connected to the project have taken their lives since
construction started in earnest in 2016.
The main causes of the distress
appear to be loneliness, relationship breakdown and the struggle of being
sometimes hundreds of miles away from family. At Hinkley, workers live on
special campuses in nearby Bridgwater, or else in converted digs in the
town. They work a variety of shift patterns and are shuttled to and from
the site on scores of buses. Some contractors work as much as 11 days on
with three days off, including an extra weekend day for travelling home.
But the Guardian understands that most people can cope with the stress and
pressure of the work. The problems start once they clock off.

https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2019/aug/13/revealed-suicide-alarm-hinkley-point-c-construction-site

Guardian 13th Aug 2019 Angie Young, the health and wellbeing manger at the Hinkley Point C (HPC)
site, does not hesitate when asked what the main cause of mental health
issues there is. “It’s loneliness. You’re living away from home,
living without your family. Loneliness is the big thing.” But a major
complicating factor is that tough men who build stuff are not always great
at talking about feelings. “Our guys are construction guys – they are
macho. The average age is 45-55. They haven’t got someone nagging them to
go and see someone. We’re trying to address that.”

https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2019/aug/13/no-more-man-up-better-mental-health-hinkley-point-c

August 15, 2019 Posted by | employment, social effects, UK | Leave a comment

Hundreds of evacuees and their children continue to suffer from effects of Fukushima nuclear meltdown

‘Fukushima suffering continues’  https://www.churchtimes.co.uk/articles/2019/21-june/news/world/fukushima-suffering-continues 
by HATTIE WILLIAMS, 21 JUNE 2019  Eight years since the disaster, NSKK calls for nuclear-free world   
EIGHT years after the Fukushima nuclear disaster, hundreds of evacuees and their children continue to suffer from debilitating conditions, Anglican priests told an International Forum for a Nuclear-Free World held in Sendai, Japan, last week.

The Tohoku earthquake, in 2011, triggered a tsunami which caused explosions at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant, in Okuma, leading to widespread radioactive contamination and serious health and environmental effects (News, 25 March 2011).

The disaster is estimated to have caused the deaths of about 1600 people out of the 300,000 who were evacuated from the area

The forum was organised by the Nippon Sei Ko Kai (NSKK) — the Anglican Communion in Japan — whose General Synod passed a resolution in 2012 calling for an end to nuclear-power plants. A joint statement from the forum, due next month, is expected to encourage churches to join the call for a worldwide ban on nuclear energy, the Anglican News Service reports.

The chair of the forum’s organising committee, Kiyosumi Hasegawa, said: “We have yet to see an end to the damage done to the people and natural environment by the meltdown of TEPCO’s Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant.

“This man-made disaster will haunt countless people for years to come. We still see numerous people who wish to go back to their home towns, but are unable to. We also have people who have given up on ever going home.”

The week-long conference at Christ Church Cathedral, Sendai, was attended by bishops, clergy, and lay representatives from each NSKK diocese, as well as representatives from the US Episcopal Church, USPG, the Episcopal Church of the Philippines, the diocese of Taiwan, and the Anglican Church of Korea.

The general secretary of the Sendai Christian relief network Touhoku HELP, Dr Naoya Kawakami, whose church was affected by the tsunami, said: “I have been more than 700 times to meet with more than 180 mothers and about 20 fathers, all of whom have seen abnormalities in their children since 2011. . . Thyroid cancer has been found in more than 273 children, and many mothers are in deep anxiety.”

An NSKK priest, the Revd John Makito Aizawa, said: “Both religiously and ethically, we cannot allow nuclear-power plants to continue running. They produce deadly waste, which we have no way of processing into something safe. More than 100,000 years are necessary for the radiation of such deadly waste to diminish to the level that it was in the original uranium. This alone is a strong enough reason to prohibit nuclear-power plants.”

The partners-in-mission secretary for NSKK, Paul Tolhurst, said: “Driving past the power station and seeing the ghost town around us as the Geiger-counter reading kept going up is something I won’t forget. It was like the town time forgot: they still seem to be living the incident, while the rest of Japan has moved on.”

The forum’s statement is expected to call for a goal of conversion to renewable sources of energy, and set out ways in which a network can be built to take forward denuclearisation.

June 24, 2019 Posted by | health, Japan, social effects | Leave a comment

Life as a liquidator after the 1986 Chernobyl nuclear disaster

 

Hard duty in the Chernobyl zone,  Life as a liquidator after the 1986 nuclear disaster

Cathie Sullivan, a New Mexico activist, worked with Chernobyl liquidator, Natalia Manzurova, during three trips to the former Soviet Union in the early 2000s. Natalia was one of 750,000 Soviet citizens sent to deal with the Chernobyl catastrophe. Natalia is now in her early 60s and has long struggled with multiple health issues. She was treated last year for a brain tumor that was found to be cancerous. A second tumor has since been found and funds were recently raised among activists around the world to help with the costs of this latest treatment. Natalia and Cathie together authored a short book, “Hard Duty, A woman’s experience at Chernobyl” describing Natalia’s harrowing four and a half years as a Chernobyl liquidator. What follows is an excerpt from that book with some minor edits.

By Natalia Manzurova

When I tell people that I was at Chernobyl they often ask if I had to go. My training is in radiation biology and I was born in a city that was part of the secret Soviet nuclear weapons complex, much like Los Alamos, New Mexico, where the first A-bomb was built. People from my city considered it a duty to go to Chernobyl, just as New York City firefighters went to the World Trade Center on 9/11.

Because of the radiation danger to women of child-bearing age, those under 30 did not go, but being 35 in 1987, I began my 4.5 years of work at Chernobyl. ………..

Sad experiences

In 1987, when I first arrived at Chernobyl, my group of about 20 scientists from the Ozyersk radio-ecology lab started a Department of Environmental Decontamination and Re-Cultivation. We used a 10-acre greenhouse complex for our plant studies, built before the accident, and for office space we used an empty, nearby kindergarten……..

Like many liquidators I ‘wear’ a ‘Chernobyl necklace’, the scar on the lower throat from thyroid-gland surgery.* While working in the exclusion zone I experienced slurred speech, memory loss and poor balance. One of my bosses and I realized that we were forgetting appointments and obligations and agreed to help each other remember who, what, where and when. I had severe amnesia for a time and read letters I wrote my mother to help fill in forgotten years.

The Chernobyl accident is not over, in fact its damaging effects on people and the land will only taper off slowly for generations—lingering harm that is almost certainly unique to nuclear accidents.

Natalia Manzurova, with fellow Russian activist, Nadezhda Kutepova, was awarded the 2011 Nuclear-Free Future Award in the category of Resistance.

Print copies of Hard Copy are available from Cathie Sullivan. Please email her at: cathiesullivan100@gmail.com. more  https://beyondnuclearinternational.org/2019/04/21/hard-duty-in-the-chernobyl-zone/

April 22, 2019 Posted by | employment, PERSONAL STORIES, social effects, Ukraine | Leave a comment

Fall in numbers of children in Fukushima municipalities

8 Years On: Number of Kids Dives in Disaster-Hit Fukushima Municipalitieshttps://www.nippon.com/en/news/yjj2019031300954/8-years-on-number-of-kids-dives-in-disaster-hit-fukushima-municipalities.html Mar 15, 2019  Fukushima, March 15 (Jiji Press)–In 10 Fukushima Prefecture municipalities where elementary and junior high school have reopened after the lifting of nuclear evacuation advisories, the number of students stood at 758 as of May 1, 2018, about 10 pct of the level before the March 2011 disasters.

During protracted evacuations, many child-rearing families rebuilt their lives in new locations, leading to the sharp fall in the number of students in Fukushima.

As a result, the local governments are facing difficulties in school operations.

In the Yamakiya district of the town of Kawamata, the evacuation advisory was removed in March 2017, six years after the nuclear accident at Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings Inc.’s <9501> Fukushima No. 1 plant, heavily damaged by the 9.0-magnitude earthquake and the ensuing tsunami.

Elementary and junior high schools reopened in the town in April 2018, but five six-graders are the only elementary school children. With no freshman joining this spring, the elementary school plans to suspend its operations in April.

March 16, 2019 Posted by | Japan, social effects | Leave a comment

Fukushima Prefecture to lose 15 high schools, due to population decline

As population declines, Fukushima Prefecture to lose 15 of its 96 high schools, Japan Times , FUKUSHIMA MINPO, MAR 15, 2019

The Fukushima Prefectural Board of Education will reduce its number of prefecture-run high schools by 15 by the end of fiscal 2023 as the region continues to struggle with a dwindling number of students due to a declining birthrate.

The mergers will be implemented over the span of three years from fiscal 2021 and will reduce the number of high schools in the prefecture from 96 to 81.

Twenty-five schools will be merged and reorganized into 13 under the plan, which will integrate schools located in close proximity of one another. Each school will retain four to six classes per grade.

With the merger, the prefecture’s 88 day schools and seven night schools will be reduced to 74 and six, respectively, by the end of March 2024, according to the education board’s reform plan revealed Feb. 8. Fukushima’s only correspondence school will remain open……… https://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2019/03/15/national/population-declines-fukushima-prefecture-lose-15-96-high-schools/#.XIwdDSIzbGg

March 16, 2019 Posted by | Fukushima continuing, social effects | Leave a comment

New study on the social consequences of the 3/11 nuclear accidentin Fukushima prefecture.

IRSN 11th March 2019 IRSN publishes a study on social consequences of the 3/11 nuclear accident
in Fukushima prefecture. Result of the French-Japanese research project
Shinrai, the report “The 3/11 accident and its social consequences – Case
studies in Fukushima prefecture” analyses post accidental policy in
Fukushima prefecture, particularly the questions linked to return or
non-return to evacuated towns and villages. The report also compares the
concrete experience of the inhabitants and the decision-makers with a
number of principles that underlies international post accidental policy
and recommendations.

https://www.irsn.fr/EN/newsroom/News/Pages/20190311_Fukushima-shinrai-study-social-consequences.aspx

March 14, 2019 Posted by | Japan, social effects | Leave a comment

Prejudice against Fukushima nuclear evacuees

‘You’re Contaminated’: The Stigma Against Japan’s Fukushima Survivors, Broadly, 12 Mar 19,

A 2011 quake and tsunami led to a meltdown at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant, killing thousands and displacing more. Two ‘nuclear refugees’ explain why returning home is more complicated than it seems.


…….. While the nuclear disaster is becoming a distant memory for most Japanese, for some others it is their everyday reality. Nuclear refugees and evacuees face discrimination, separation from loved ones, and in some cases, they are even forced to return to the former evacuation zone.

The government, worried about people getting exposed to radiation, declared a 20-km evacuation zone around the plant and uprooted close to 165,000 people. As of today, there are still 50,000 people who haven’t returned to Fukushima.

Keiko Owada, 66, is one of them. When I meet her in Tokyo, she refers to the Japanese capital as her home for the past seven years. That will soon change due to the government’s decision to withdraw her free housing subsidies.

Because decontamination work has made progress and food declared safe from radiation, it has been deemed safe to return to most villages within the evacuation zone. The same goes for Owada’s village Naraha, where the evacuation order was lifted two years ago.

Owada is not excited about the prospect of returning to Naraha. “Would I continue to get financial support for my apartment here in Tokyo, I would have stayed here, yes. I’ll tell you why: there is no hospital in Naraha, only a small hospital for first aid. There is no supermarket, only a small convenience store. And the reason is simple: only a few people have returned.”

Life as an evacuee hasn’t always been easy, Owada explains. “It wasn’t like people were treating me any different, but my neighbors never greeted me. I think it’s because of the compensation I received and the free housing. They knew I was from Fukushima, that’s why.”

According to Owada, some of the other evacuees in Tokyo she knows have faced harsher treatment. “I know of others whose cars were damaged on purpose because they had a Fukushima license plate. That’s why I never parked my car in the middle of the parking lot, but always in a corner, so no one could see it.”

If anything, Owada’s story illustrates how many evacuees continued to live in fear. Displaced from their homes, dropped in a new community—the disaster is anything but over for them. ……….

When Kamata got in touch with relatives living in other parts of Japan, she was shocked to hear one sister-in-law’s initial response. “After the disaster, I wanted to flee to Chiba [a prefecture next to Tokyo], my sister-in-law picked up the telephone and told me I didn’t have to come to their house. ‘You’re contaminated,’ she told me.”……….
As Kamata remembers what life was like back in Fukushima, she uses a handkerchief to wipe a tear from her cheek. She barely speaks to her friends anymore.

“The disaster divided our communities, both physically as well as mentally. ………https://broadly.vice.com/en_us/article/mb5zny/japan-fukushima-earthquake-survivors-stigma

March 12, 2019 Posted by | Japan, psychology - mental health, social effects | Leave a comment

How quickly we ‘normalise’ rising temperatures

 

Just by the way- Scientists found that frogs DO jump out of the water as it gets hot. They are smarter than we are.

 

 

AS THE CLIMATE CHANGES, ARE WE ALL BOILING FROGS?

New research finds that we normalize rising temperatures remarkably quickly. https://psmag.com/environment/as-the-climate-changes-are-we-all-boiling-frogs,TOM JACOBS, FEB 26, 2019 

How about this weird weather we’ve been having? It’s a common query around the Pacific Standard office, and for good reason: Abnormalities such as the recent cold and snow in Southern California capture pretty much everyone’s attention.

Climate change is significantly increasing the chances of more unsettling weather in the years to come, including longer and more severe heat waves. But if you’re hoping the strange conditions will inspire people to realize that something profoundly dangerous is occurring—and will prod politicians into acting—new researchsuggests you’re likely to be disappointed.

An analysis of more than two million Twitter posts finds that people do indeed take note of abnormal temperatures. But it also reports that our definition of “normal” is based on recent history—roughly, the past two to eight years.

These findings suggest that, in less than a decade, climate change-induced conditions cease to seem all that unusual. That lack of historical perspective may make it hard to grasp the enormity of the changes that are already underway, and which promise to accelerate. Continue reading

February 27, 2019 Posted by | 2 WORLD, climate change, social effects | Leave a comment

Mental health issues in Kimba, a small Australian agricultural town, because government plans a nuclear waste dump there

Nuclear waste site selection process triggers mental health concerns, business boycotts and division, FOI documents reveal, ABC North and West By Gary-Jon Lysaght  13 Feb 19, (FOI documents are attached on the original) Freedom of Information (FOI) documents reveal the Federal Government has been aware of potential mental health issues, from as early as 2017, caused by the search for a site to store the nation’s nuclear waste.The Federal Government is currently considering two sites at Kimba and one near Hawker for a facility that would permanently store low-level waste and temporarily store medium-level waste.

Kimba, a small town on South Australia’s Eyre Peninsula, has been divided on whether to support or oppose the facility. Some residents believe the facility could help bring much-needed business to the rural town, while others suggest it could damage the region’s agricultural reputation.

“Many of the opposed group have raised the issue of mental health in submissions and direct discussions,” the FOI documents, written in 2017, said.

They believe mental health issues are arising in Kimba due to the stress of being in this process.

“These issues have been raised with the Kimba doctor and counsellor.”

Centre Alliance Senator Rex Patrick obtained the Freedom of Information documents and hoped the concerns were a catalyst for change.

“In my view, that creates a very strong obligation for the Government to act,” he said.

“They’ve clearly known about this issue since 2017 and it is now time to ask the minister exactly what he is doing in relation to that.”……. https://www.abc.net.au/news/2019-02-13/foi-documents-show-kimba-divided-over-nuclear-waste-site/10807462

February 14, 2019 Posted by | AUSTRALIA, psychology - mental health, social effects, wastes | Leave a comment

Japan’s Fukushima Survivors are stigmatised

‘You’re Contaminated’: The Stigma Against Japan’s Fukushima Survivors ,   A 2011 quake and tsunami led to a meltdown at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant, killing thousands and displacing more. Two ‘nuclear refugees’ explain why returning home is more complicated than it seems. https://broadly.vice.com/en_us/article/mb5zny/japan-fukushima-earthquake-survivors-stigma, Bobbie van der List, 

This month marks the seventh anniversary of the triple disaster that hit the east coast of Japan on March 11, 2011, when a 9.1 magnitude quake and tsunami led to a meltdown at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant. Almost 16,000 people were declared dead.

While the nuclear disaster is becoming a distant memory for most Japanese, for some others it is their everyday reality. Nuclear refugees and evacuees face discrimination, separation from loved ones, and in some cases, they are even forced to return to the former evacuation zone.

The government, worried about people getting exposed to radiation, declared a 20-km evacuation zone around the plant and uprooted close to 165,000 people. As of today, there are still 50,000 people who haven’t returned to Fukushima.

Keiko Owada, 66, is one of them. When I meet her in Tokyo, she refers to the Japanese capital as her home for the past seven years. That will soon change due to the government’s decision to withdraw her free housing subsidies.

Because decontamination work has made progress and food declared safe from radiation, it has been deemed safe to return to most villages within the evacuation zone. The same goes for Owada’s village Naraha, where the evacuation order was lifted two years ago.

Owada is not excited about the prospect of returning to Naraha. “Would I continue to get financial support for my apartment here in Tokyo, I would have stayed here, yes. I’ll tell you why: there is no hospital in Naraha, only a small hospital for first aid. There is no supermarket, only a small convenience store. And the reason is simple: only a few people have returned.”

Life as an evacuee hasn’t always been easy, Owada explains. “It wasn’t like people were treating me any different, but my neighbors never greeted me. I think it’s because of the compensation I received and the free housing. They knew I was from Fukushima, that’s why.”

According to Owada, some of the other evacuees in Tokyo she knows have faced harsher treatment. “I know of others whose cars were damaged on purpose because they had a Fukushima license plate. That’s why I never parked my car in the middle of the parking lot, but always in a corner, so no one could see it.”

If anything, Owada’s story illustrates how many evacuees continued to live in fear. Displaced from their homes, dropped in a new community—the disaster is anything but over for them.

As an evacuee in Tokyo, Owada went back to Fukushima on numerous occasions. She can still recall her first time back in June 2011. The town of Naraha was still a no-go-area, and she and her family only had one hour to visit. “We wore protective clothes against radiation, with only a small plastic bag for gathering some personal belongings. We had too little time, and the bag was too little for our entire family. But I can remember the smell—[there were] rats everywhere and small animals’ feces.”

Of course, there are things she misses about her old town, like growing vegetables and fruits on her land. But it doesn’t take away the concerns she has about the dangers of radiation exposure, despite the government’s reassurance that it is safe to live there.

“Even though the streets and houses are decontaminated, they didn’t even touch with mountains and forests. Radiation hasn’t been cleaned everywhere. My house is right next to the mountains, so my house might get contaminated.”

Akiko Kamata, 66, still remembers how she was surprised by the alarm warning for a tsunami in her village of Odaka. When I meet her at a Tokyo café, she recalls how she sheltered in Fukushima the first few weeks after the disaster. “I still remember taking my first bath after 10 days, it felt so good.”

When Kamata got in touch with relatives living in other parts of Japan, she was shocked to hear one sister-in-law’s initial response. “After the disaster, I wanted to flee to Chiba [a prefecture next to Tokyo], my sister-in-law picked up the telephone and told me I didn’t have to come to their house. ‘You’re contaminated,’ she told me.” 

Eventually she did manage to find a place in Chiba, the region she grew up in as a child. “People were nice to us in Chiba. But still I noticed some skepticism. After I asked the regional authorities for financial support their answer was, ‘No, people in Chiba are victims of the earthquake as well.’”

Kamata did receive a one-off compensation payment from TEPCO: 7 million yen per person, or just over $65,600. Her husband received a similar amount.

Although Kamata is thankful for the financial support, they have not been compensated for the loss of income from their family business in Odaka. “I’m thinking about calling in the help of an organization that specializes evacuees with these type of claims,” she says.

Kamata has decided not to return to Odaka. Her husband’s illness (he suffers from a nerve disease that makes him reliant on Kamata’s support) got worse during the evacuation. She fears that it might worsen if they move back to Fukushima.

As Kamata remembers what life was like back in Fukushima, she uses a handkerchief to wipe a tear from her cheek. She barely speaks to her friends anymore.

“The disaster divided our communities, both physically as well as mentally. People got separated. One friend of mine in Chiba is thinking about divorcing her husband. He wants her to come back to Fukushima, but she doesn’t want this. One reason is exposure to radiation, but there are more reasons, such as her child’s school and the fact that they’ve gotten used to life in Tokyo.”

There is one more story she would like to share, Kamata says while crying. “One friend of mine is a farmer in Odaka. She had 10 cows. They evacuated to Chiba just like me and couldn’t go back to Fukushima to feed the cows. Once they could return for the first time to check on the animals, only three of them were still alive. The others died from starvation, and they were all looking at the same direction—the road the farmers would come from to feed them.”

March 14, 2018 Posted by | Fukushima continuing, PERSONAL STORIES, social effects | Leave a comment

Hatoko Comes Home: Civil Society and Nuclear Power in Japan

Article

 https://works.bepress.com/daniel_aldrich/13/ Journal of Asian Studies (2011), Daniel P AldrichPurdue University, Martin DusinberreNewcastle University  

Abstract

This article seeks to explain how, given Japan’s “nuclear allergy” following World War II, a small coastal town not far from Hiroshima volunteered to host a nuclear power plant in the early 1980s. Where standard explanations of contentious nuclear power siting decisions have focused on the regional power utilities and the central government, this paper instead examines the importance of historical change and civil society at a local level.

Using a microhistorical approach based on interviews and archival materials, and framing our discussion with a popular Japanese television show known as Hatoko’s Sea, we illustrate the agency of municipal actors in the decision-making process. In this way, we highlight the significance of long-term economic transformations, demographic decline, and vertical social networks in local invitations to controversial facilities. These perspectives are particularly important in the wake of the 2011 Fukushima crisis, as the outside world seeks to understand how and why Japan embraced atomic energy.

February 17, 2018 Posted by | Japan, social effects | Leave a comment