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Danger in foreign workers at Fukushim nuclear clean-up – Tepco abandons plans for them

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May 23, 2019 Posted by | Fukushima continuing | Leave a comment

Hibakusha: Nagasaki activist, 79, looks to entrust nuclear movement to next generation

May 23, 2019 Posted by | Japan, opposition to nuclear, PERSONAL STORIES, Reference, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Risky incident at South Korean nuclear reactor

Hankyoreh 21st May 2019 According to South Korea’s nuclear power regulator, a nuclear reactor
whose thermal output exceeded safety limits was kept running for nearly 12
hours when it should have been shut down manually at once.
Furthermore, the regulator said, an individual who wasn’t licensed to operate the reactor
was holding the control rods, which regulate the reactor’s output, at the
time. A continuing increase in output could have led to a thermal runaway,
potentially causing the reactor to explode.

May 23, 2019 Posted by | incidents, South Korea | Leave a comment

The US demanded the closure of five atomic facilities during the Hanoi summit, but Kim offered only two

May 23, 2019 Posted by | North Korea, politics international, USA | Leave a comment

Trump and Kim “in love”, but have few options now that discussions have collapsed

May 21, 2019 Posted by | North Korea, politics international, USA | 1 Comment

Donald Trump says he would not allow Iran to develop nuclear weapons

May 21, 2019 Posted by | North Korea, politics international, USA, weapons and war | Leave a comment

“Denuclearization” has different meanings for North Korea and USA

May 21, 2019 Posted by | North Korea, politics international, USA | Leave a comment

Chinese public’s trust in government means that nuclear power better able to go ahead in China

May 16, 2019 Posted by | China, public opinion | 2 Comments

How to avoid nuclear confrontation between India and Pakistan

WILL INDIA AND PAKISTAN BE ABLE TO STEP BACK FROM NUCLEAR DANGER? Arms Control Wonk, by Michael Krepon | May 13, 2019    Dark clouds are gathering. The Trump administration seems headed toward pre-emptive strikes against Iran. This progression began when Donald Trump walked away from the deal struck by President Obama, the European Union, Russia and China freezing advances in Iran’s nuclear weapon-related activities. Next, not unexpectedly, was Tehran’s threat to get back in the business of serious uranium enrichment in response to the U.S. walk out and Europe’s likely inability to circumvent Washington’s secondary sanctions. If Tehran follows through or if there is another prompt, the following step in this progression would be to set back Iran’s nuclear program several years by bombing the hell out of it. Conciliators be damned: Cue to the mission accomplished banners and drop the confetti.

If India’s new government has the wisdom to try once more to move away from confrontation, there is no shortage of confidence-building and nuclear risk-reduction measures to pursue. Every Indian and Pakistani diplomat worth his or her salt can quickly identify a half-dozen worthwhile measures that would not diminish security while helping to place time and space before another clash. If enough time and space are added, there may not be another clash.

May 14, 2019 Posted by | India, Pakistan, politics international | Leave a comment

Highly radioactive chimney at Fukushima No 1 plant to be taken apart

TEPCO to slice dangerous chimney at Fukushima plant    http://www.asahi.com/ajw/articles/AJ201905100045.html, By CHIKAKO KAWAHARA/ Staff Writer, May 10, 2019 Tokyo Electric Power Co. plans to start work on May 20 to dismantle a 120-meter-tall, highly contaminated chimney that could collapse at the crippled Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant.

It will be the first highly radiated facility at the plant to be taken apart, the company said May 9.

The stack, with a diameter of 3.2 meters, was used for both the No. 1 and No. 2 reactors. TEPCO plans to remove the upper half of the chimney within this year to prevent the structure from collapsing.

The dismantling work will be conducted by remote control because the radiation level around the base of the chimney is the highest among all outdoor areas of the plant. Exposure to radiation at the base can cause death in several hours.

After the Great East Japan Earthquake and tsunami struck in March 2011, pressure increased in the containment vessel of the No. 1 reactor. Vapors with radioactive substances were sent through the chimney to the outside.

TEPCO also found fractures in steel poles supporting the chimney. The damage was likely caused by a hydrogen explosion at the No. 1 reactor building when the nuclear disaster was unfolding.

Since then, the chimney has been left unrepaired because of the high radiation levels.

Immediately after the nuclear accident, a radiation level exceeding 10 sieverts per hour was observed around the base of the chimney. In a survey conducted in 2015, a radiation level of 2 sieverts per hour was detected there.

TEPCO will use a large crane that will hold special equipment to cut the chimney in round slices from the top.

The company set up a remote control room in a large remodeled bus about 200 meters from the chimney. Workers will operate the special cutting equipment while watching footage from 160 video cameras.

May 14, 2019 Posted by | Fukushima continuing | Leave a comment

Fukushima’s ghost towns

Nuclear wasteland Inside the ghost towns of Fukushima,  Eight years on from the tsunami and nuclear meltdown, much of Japan’s Fukushima province remains derelict and deserted. Telegraph, 13 May 19 

There was a chilling silence in the town of Tomioka in the days after the March 2011 Fukushima nuclear disaster.

Shoes were left in porches, half-read newspapers lay abandoned next to cups of tea, long gone cold. As night closed in on the seaside town, lights glared out from a few bare windows, while news of the ongoing crisis at the Fukushima No. 1 Nuclear Power Plant just six miles away drifted from a solitary radio.

Nobody was home.

Eight years on, little has changed. Before March 11, 2011 – the day the tsunami engulfed the nuclear facility, forcing the evacuation of more than 150,000 residents across the region – the town had a population of 15,960. Now, just a few hundred people have returned despite the lifting of the evacuation order in April 2017.

“Officially 835 have returned, but many are plant and other clean-up workers who are renting out abandoned houses,” says Takumi Takano, a local councillor who splits her time between Tomioka and temporary digs in Koriyama an hour’s drive away that she and her husband Kenichi have lived in since evacuating.

Of the remaining locals most are either elderly, or only return during the day, she says. Most worryingly, just 14 are children. When night falls, they return to “temporary” homes elsewhere, she says. “It’s like a ghost town.”

A similar situation is found throughout the entire evacuated region, where only 12,859 of the 100,510 residents who were living in the zone before the disasters have returned, a Cabinet Office official says. Like Tomioka, many of them are clean-up workers, local residents say.

…… After almost eight years, residents, especially those with young families, have settled elsewhere, securing new jobs and starting new schools or moving out of Fukushima entirely,  says  says Kenichi, a former worker at the devastated nuclear plant.. Many are put off returning by the severe shortage of medical facilities in the region.

Then there’s the radioactivity,” he says, as the couple sit outside their caravan, set up on the land of their recently demolished home, which backs on to a 130-square-mile “difficult-to-return-zone” that is still considered too highly contaminated to inhabit.

Eight years on, radioactivity levels have fallen in the reopened parts of Tomioka, though remain 20 times higher than before the disaster. “It’s much higher over there,” he says, pointing to the blockaded zone, where radiation levels exceed 3.8 microsieverts per hour – the designated threshold for issuing evacuation orders.

That zone is a legacy of the nuclear disaster, when multiple reactor meltdowns and explosions, triggered by a magnitude nine earthquake and towering tsunami, spread radioactive materials for hundreds of miles around……..

despite clean-up operations there to reduce radiation levels below the government-set target of 0.23 microsieverts (µSv) per hour, other legacies of the disaster – the crumbling houses and shops, corroding vehicles and overgrown fields, not to mention 16.5 million containers of contaminated earth collected at some 140,000 sites around the region – are impossible to avoid.

The 0.23 µSv figure is significant in that it adds up to an annual dosage level of one millisievert (mSv) (calculated on the premise that a resident spends eight hours a day outdoors), stipulated by the International Atomic Energy Agency as being safe for members of the public.

But while maintaining that level is complicated by recontamination from surrounding woodland, some experts argue the figure says little about the true dangers, or safety, of radiation exposure. That the Japanese government raised this to 20 mSv in the aftermath of the disasters adds weight to their argument…….

Misao Fujita, a doctor who performs thyroid scans at a clinic in Iwaki, about 30 miles south of the nuclear plant, says a connection between the cancers and radiation exposure cannot be ruled out and the screening effect is no reason to disregard the examinations.

“What we do know is that after Chernobyl, many children developed thyroid cancer, and if you take that into account and consider the high risk that Fukushima children were exposed to radiation then I think we should carry out such tests,” Dr Fujita says, adding that thyroid cancer normally occurs in one in one million children.

Noriko Tanaka, whose son is one of Dr Fujita’s patients, says exams revealing cysts in her son’s thyroid are a concern, not least because iodine-131 – a substance that causes thyroid cancer – was contained in the plume released by the Fukushima plant that landed on Iwaki after the disasters. At the time, she was pregnant with her son. “I worry because nobody knows for sure what the future holds,” she says……….

The issue of the one million tons of contaminated water being stored at the stricken nuclear plant is another worry for residents. After receiving assurances from Fukushima plant operator Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO ) that the water had been successfully treated and stripped of all but one radioactive material, tritium, the government announced in 2017 it would start releasing the water into the ocean, despite protests, especially from local fisheries.

TEPCO released convoluted data to demonstrate the water’s safety, but was forced to backtrack last September when further tests showed the sums didn’t add up and 80 per cent of the water was in fact up to 20,000 times higher than the official safe threshold. Furthermore, it contained harmful radionuclides such as iodine, caesium and strontium.

Moreover, while the initial suggestion was that tritium was relatively harmless some studies have shown it to be a cause of infant leukaemia, says Ayumi Iida of NPO Tarachine, which independently analyses seawater samples taken from the ocean near Fukushima’s two nuclear plants.

“Tritiated water is easily absorbed and hazardous when inhaled or ingested via food or water,” she says. “There’s already data indicating infant leukaemia rates are higher near to nuclear plants, and tritium is known to cause DNA damage, so while there are claims that tritium is harmless, there are counterclaims it can adversely affect health, especially among young children.”…….

Shaun Burnie, a nuclear expert with Greenpeace says that discharging the water into the ocean is “the worst option” available, and one whose main consideration is economic.

“The only viable option, and it’s not without risks, is the long-term storage of the water in robust steel tanks over at least the next century, and the parallel development of water processing technology,” he says. ……….

“The reality is there is no end to the water crisis at Fukushima, a crisis compounded by poor decision-making by both TEPCO and the government,” says Mr Burnie.

Among more pressing issues, Mr Burnie says, is 400,000 cubic meters of sludge being stored within the Fukushima plant grounds that contains high concentrations of strontium – known as a “bone-seeker” because, if introduced into the body, it can accumulate in the bones in the same way as calcium does.

With the plant still generating waste, this sludge is expected to nearly double over the next 10 years, he adds.

Strontium releases into the environment from the plant were relatively small following the 2011 disaster, but significantly greater 30 months later, when in 2013 a large strontium-laced plume contaminated land as far away as Minamisoma – a city about 20 km from the plant, Mr Burnie says. Such an event could re-occur, he says.

“Is it a good idea to lift the evacuation orders? Absolutely not. The public are right to be concerned about the possibility of further offsite releases.”

They can also be forgiven for being sceptical over official reassurances that foodstuffs are safe, says Ms Iida of Tarachine, which also runs a produce-testing laboratory and has found “plenty” of items with levels of contamination exceeding the safe limits.

Meanwhile tests on samples of soil – which has no official safe threshold in Japan – have also revealed high levels of radiation in the area, she adds.

Namie’s Obori district, about six miles northwest of the nuclear plant and within the difficult-to-return-zone, is one place where soil radiation levels remain high. In woodland backing the pretty hamlet, which is famed for its pottery but has slowly surrendered to nature, the Telegraph recorded up to 127 µSv per hour – over 350 times the IAEA’s safe threshold……

May 14, 2019 Posted by | Fukushima continuing | Leave a comment

Professor Kazuhiko Kobayashi at Sellafield, warns on nuclear radiation and danger to children

Radiation Free Lakeland 12th May 2019 Professor Kazuhiko Kobayashi has done ground breaking work with theUniversity of Tokyo on the impact of climate change on rice nutrition. This is important work and it has been widely featured in national and
international media.

Kazuhiko’s real passion however is to warn people
about the worst criminality against humankind: nuclear power and nuclear
weapons.

Kazuhiko organises respite for children and families who have been
impacted by the ongoing Fukushima disaster.

Members of Radiation Free Lakeland met up with Kazuhiko last autumn to show him the Sellafield area and he told us that there is money for climate research but not so much for
research into the impacts of radiation on our food and health. He is a kind
gentle man and he was visibly shocked to see the scale of Sellafield.

Kazuhiko broke down in tears within the shadow of Sellafield, at the
impacts the nuclear industry is having on our children’s health. His
passionate opposition to nuclear power and weapons, his work for change and
to help those impacted, is an inspiration.

https://mariannewildart.wordpress.com/2019/05/12/worst-criminality-against-humankind-report-from-fukushima-by-kazuhiko-kobayashi/

May 14, 2019 Posted by | Japan, opposition to nuclear | Leave a comment

Fukushima’s mothers became radiation experts to protect their children after nuclear meltdown 

https://www.abc.net.au/news/2019-05-12/fukushima-mums-teach-themselves-how-to-be-radiation-experts/11082520

Key points:

  • Mothers in Fukushima set up a radiation testing lab because they didn’t trust government results
  • The women test food, water and soil and keep the public informed about radiation levels
  • A major earthquake and tsunami caused a nuclear accident at the Fukushima power plant in 2011

They are testing everything — rice, vacuum cleaner dust, seafood, moss and soil — for toxic levels of radiation.

But these lab workers are not typical scientists.

They are ordinary mums who have built an extraordinary clinic.

“Our purpose is to protect children’s health and future,” says lab director Kaori Suzuki.

In March 2011, nuclear reactors catastrophically melted down at the Fukushima Daiichi plant, following an earthquake and tsunami.

Driven by a desperate need to keep their children safe, a group of mothers began testing food and water in the prefecture.

The women, who had no scientific background, built the lab from the ground up, learning everything on the job.

The lab is named Tarachine, a Japanese word which means “beautiful mother”.

“As mothers, we had to find out what we can feed our children and if the water was safe,” Ms Suzuki says.

“We had no choice but to measure the radiation and that’s why we started Tarachine.”

After the nuclear accident, Fukushima residents waited for radiation experts to arrive to help.

“No experts who knew about measuring radiation came to us. It was chaos,” she says.

In the days following the meltdown, a single decision by the Japanese Government triggered major distrust in official information which persists to this day.

The Government failed to quickly disclose the direction in which radioactive materials was drifting from the power plant.

Poor internal communications caused the delay, but the result was that thousands fled in the direction that radioactive materials were flying.

Former trade minister Banri Kaieda, who oversaw energy policy at the time, has said that he felt a “sense of shame” about the lack of disclosure.

But Kaori Suzuki said she still finds it difficult to trust the government.

“They lied and looked down on us, and a result, deceived the people,” Ms Suzuki says.

“So it’s hard for the people who experienced that to trust them.”

She and the other mothers who work part-time at the clinic feel great responsibility to protect the children of Fukushima.

But it hasn’t always been easy.

When they set up the lab, they relied on donated equipment, , and none of them had experience in radiation testing. There was nobody who could teach us and just the machines arrived,” Ms Suzuki says.

“At the time, the analysing software and the software with the machine was in English, so that made it even harder to understand.

“In the initial stage we struggled with English and started by listening to the explanation from the manufacturer. We finally got some Japanese software once we got started with using the machines.”

Radiation experts from top universities gave the mothers’ training, and their equipment is now among the most sophisticated in the country.

Food safety is still an issue

The Fukushima plant has now been stabilised and radiation has come down to levels considered safe in most areas.

But contamination of food from Japan remains a hotly contested issue.

Australia was one of the first countries to lift import restrictions on Japanese food imports after the disaster.

But more than 20 countries and trading blocs have kept their import ban or restrictions on Japanese fisheries and agricultural products.

At the clinic in Fukushima, Kaori Suzuki said she accepted that decision.

“It doesn’t mean it’s right or wrong. I feel that’s just the decision they have made for now,” she says.

Most results in their lab are comparatively low, but the mothers say it is important there is transparency so that people know what their children are consuming.

Fukushima’s children closely monitored after meltdown

Noriko Tanaka is one of many mothers in the region who felt that government officials were completely unprepared for the unfolding disaster.

She was three months pregnant with her son Haru when the disaster struck.

Ms Tanaka lived in Iwaki City, about 50 kilometres south of the power plant.

Amid an unfolding nuclear crisis, she panicked that the radioactive iodine released from the meltdown would harm her unborn child.

She fled on the night of the disaster.

When she returned home 10 days later, the fear of contamination from the invisible, odourless radioactive material weighed deeply on her mind.

“I wish I was able to breastfeed the baby,” she says.

“[Radioactive] caesium was detected in domestic powdered milk, so I had to buy powdered milk made overseas to feed him.”

Ms Tanaka now has two children —seven-year-old Haru and three-year-old Megu. She regularly takes them in for thyroid checks which are arranged free-of-charge by the mothers’ clinic.

Radiation exposure is a proven risk factor for thyroid cancer, but experts say it’s too early to tell what impact the nuclear meltdown will have on the children of Fukushima.

Noriko Tanaka is nervous as Haru’s thyroid is checked.

“In the last examination, the doctor said Haru had a lot of cysts, so I was very worried,” she says.

However this time, Haru’s results are better and he earns a high-five from Dr Yoshihiro Noso.

He said there was nothing to worry about, so I feel relieved after taking the test,” Ms Tanaka says.

“The doctor told me that the number of cysts will increase and decrease as he grows up.”

Doctor Noso has operated on only one child from Fukushima, but it is too early to tell if the number of thyroid cancers is increasing because of the meltdown.

“There isn’t a way to distinguish between cancers that were caused naturally and those by the accident,” he says.Dr Noso says his biggest concern is for children who were under five years old when the accident happened.The risk is particularly high for girls.

Even if I say there is nothing to worry medically, each mother is still worried,” he says.

“They feel this sense of responsibility because they let them play outside and drink the water. If they had proper knowledge of radiation, they would not have done that,” he said.

Mums and doctors fear for future of Fukushima’s children

After the Chernobyl nuclear disaster of 1986, the incidence of thyroid cancers increased suddenly after five years….

“In the case of Chernobyl, the thyroid cancer rate increased for about 10 years. It’s been eight years since the disaster and I would like to continue examinations for another two years.” …….

Some children, whose families fled Fukushima to other parts of Japan have faced relentless bullying.

“Some children who evacuated from Fukushima living in other prefectures are being bullied [so badly that they] can’t go to school,” Noriko Tanaka said.

“The radiation level is low in the area we live in and it’s about the same as Tokyo, but we will be treated the same as the people who live in high-level radiation areas.”

Noriko is particularly worried for little Megu because of prejudice against the children of Fukushima.

“For girls, there are concerns about marriage and having children because of the possibility of genetic issues.”

May 13, 2019 Posted by | Japan, radiation, women | Leave a comment

North Korea is unlikely to ever give up all its nuclear weapons

North Korea won’t give up all its nuclear weapons, former Defense Secretary Gates says. Politico, By PATRICK TEMPLE-WEST, 05/12/2019  
Former Defense Secretary Robert Gates said North Korea is unlikely to ever give up all its nuclear weapons, and that President Donald Trump was right to walk away from deal with leader Kim Jong-un in February.In an interview with CBS that taped on May 10, Gates said North Koreans have come to see some modest nuclear capabilities as “essential to their national survival.”

“I believe that North Koreans will never completely denuclearize,” Gates said, adding that the Trump administration is “unrealistic in believing that they can get complete denuclearization.” ……. https://www.politico.com/story/2019/05/12/robert-gates-north-korea-1317623

May 13, 2019 Posted by | North Korea, politics international, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Increased tension as U.S. has seized a North Korean ship for sanctions violations

In Middle of Nuclear Standoff, U.S. Seizes North Korean Cargo Ship Illicitly Exporting Coal, Slate, By HANNON, 9 May 19

May 11, 2019 Posted by | incidents, North Korea, politics international, USA | Leave a comment