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The Cost of Cleaning up Fukushima

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The Abe administration has decided to use taxpayer money for decontaminating areas in Fukushima Prefecture off-limits to people due to fallout of radioactive substances from the March 2011 meltdowns at Tokyo Electric Power’s Fukushima No. 1 power plant. The decision, which deviates from the current policy that Tepco should pay for the decontamination efforts, reflects a proposal put forward in August by the ruling coalition of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s Liberal Democratic Party and Komeito but never discussed by the government’s council of experts or in the Diet.

The government may want to justify the move as an effort to help accelerate evacuees’ return to their hometown communities. Still, it will be difficult for the administration to evade criticism that the measure is nothing but a taxpayer-funded bailout for Tepco, which is responsible for the nuclear fallout that affected so many people in Fukushima.

By proceeding with the decontamination work, the administration hopes to lift evacuation orders in some of the no-go areas in about five years. It is hoped these areas will serve as bases for activities to promote reconstruction from the nuclear disaster. As the first step, the government plans to set aside ¥30 billion in the fiscal 2017 budget. So far, no full-scale cleanup work has been carried out inside these zones, which straddle seven municipalities around the Tepco plant.

The government’s position is that it is safe for evacuees to return to their communities if the annual cumulative dose there is 20 millisieverts (mSv) or less, although the legal limit allowed for people in normal circumstances is 1 mSv. The millisievert is a measure of the absorption of radiation by the human body. In no-go zones, the annual dose tops 50 mSv and is not expected to fall below 20 mSv in the next five years.

Faithful to the standard polluter pays principle, which was also applied to the Minamata mercury poisoning disaster in the 1950s and ’60s, the special law to cope with the damage from the Fukushima disaster stipulates that Tepco should shoulder the cleanup cost, and when decontamination work is paid for by taxpayer money, the utility must later reimburse the government. Now the government plans to revise the special law on decontamination and other legislation so it can pay for the planned decontamination work in Fukushima. To counter possible criticism that the scheme is intended merely to help Tepco, the government argues that the planned work aims to improve public infrastructure in the no-go zones so evacuees can return. However, the work will include scraping off top soil and cutting down trees, making it no different than decontamination efforts in other areas.

To justify the use of taxpayer money, the government also says that Tepco has paid compensation to evacuees from the no-go zones on the assumption that they would not be able to return to their homes over an extended period. Thus, in a revised guideline for the reconstruction of Fukushima Prefecture, the government says it will pay for the planned decontamination without asking for reimbursement from Tepco.

Behind the government’s decision for the use of taxpayer money is the mushrooming expense of decontamination, with the latest estimate rising from the original ¥2.5 trillion to ¥4 trillion, which does not include the cost of cleaning up the no-go areas. The government expects the planned work in those areas to cost roughly ¥300 billion over five years, but the price tag could rise if the work becomes protracted. And the burden on taxpayers may further increase if the scope of government-paid decontamination in those areas is expanded.

In a related move, the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry has come up with an idea to pass part of the cost of Tepco’s compensation for Fukushima disaster victims on to consumers in the form of higher electricity bills, as the total estimated cost for decommissioning the Fukushima No. 1 plant, compensation and decontamination has swollen from the original ¥11 trillion to ¥21.5 trillion. These moves not only increase people’s financial burden but also blur the power company’s responsibility for the devastation it caused. The government may say the measures are necessary to help promote reconstruction in Fukushima. But they could distract public attention from the principle that it is Tepco which must pay for the decommissioning of its reactors, compensation for the victims and cleanup of the contaminated areas.

http://www.japantimes.co.jp/opinion/2016/12/23/editorials/cost-cleaning-fukushima/#.WF15Dlzia-c

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December 25, 2016 Posted by | Fukushima 2016 | , , | 1 Comment

Harassment of Evacuees by Prefectural Housing Authorities to evict them for March 2017

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All the people evacuated in 2011 and who benefited of a housing compensation, are now suffering harassment from the various prefectures’ housing authorities, pressuring them to get out of those appartments before coming March 2017

This picture show the notice taped to the entrance door of an evacuee’s appartment, marking and stigmatizing the evacuee’s family to all the neigbors. Those evacuees are victims. Why treat in such manner people who are victims, already suffering plenty enough hardships and losses? What the hell is wrong with you? What are the sins of the victims?

The Japanese government, for the first time, is using state funds for decontamination work in areas affected by the 2011 nuclear accident in Fukushima Prefecture.
The environment ministry earmarked roughly 30 billion yen, or about 250 million dollars, in the fiscal 2017 budget plan, which was approved by the Cabinet on Thursday.
The allocation will be for cleaning up no-entry areas where radiation levels remain prohibitively high.
The government had so far made the plant operator, Tokyo Electric Power Company, pay for the cleanup, based on the principle that the entity responsible for the contamination should bear the cost.

If the Japanese Authorities can provide funds to help Tepco, the entity responsible for the contamination, why can they provide funds to help the victims, whose rights and needs should prevailed over those of the responsible corporation responsible for that nuclear disaster? Why the Japanese central government can coordinate with those various prefectures housing authorities for those evacuees to continue to live in a free-radiation environmnent?

The Japanese government decided to stop the evacuees housing compensation on March 2017  so as to force the evacuees’ return to live with radiation in the ghost towns now declared “safe” by the Japanese government. In preparation of the coming 2020 Tokyo Olympics, all must be back to normal, and is now declared “safe and clean”. Economics prevailing over scientific realities and people lives.

Japanese culture is looked upon as being a very refined, sophisticated, advanced culture. Is there no place for compassion in Japanese culture? Those victims are suffering from double-triple suffering already. Do you have to turn it into persecution?

Is not the right to live in a radiation-free environment a basic human right? To force them by all kinds of gimmicks to return to live in a contaminated territory, is then a violation of their basic human rights, their right to preserve their own health!

December 25, 2016 Posted by | Fukushima 2016 | , | Leave a comment

Another delay in removing spent nuclear fuel from Fukushima reactor

Fuel removal at Fukushima reactor again faces delay http://www.asahi.com/ajw/articles/AJ201612230043.html THE ASAHI SHIMBUN December 23, 2016 Work to retrieve spent nuclear fuel in the No. 3 reactor building storage pool of the crippled Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant will again be postponed due to a delay in clearing radioactive debris at the site.

TEPCO planned to begin removing 566 spent nuclear fuel assemblies in the storage pool in January 2018. However, the government and the plant operator, Tokyo Electric Power Co., decided on the postponement, sources said on Dec. 22. They will decide on a new timetable in a few weeks.

The work was initially scheduled for fiscal 2015, but had been pushed back because of high radiation readings in and around the No. 3 reactor building. The building was heavily damaged by a hydrogen explosion in the days following the disaster, triggered by the 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake and tsunami.

TEPCO had attempted to lower radiation levels by clearing the radioactive debris remaining at the site.

But the clearing work took longer than expected due to contamination being more widespread than previously thought, forcing TEPCO and the government to again put off the retrieval.

Radiation levels have now dropped as almost all of wreckage at the site has been cleared, TEPCO said. The government and TEPCO have said fuel retrieval at the No. 1 and No. 2 reactor buildings will start in fiscal 2020 or later.

December 24, 2016 Posted by | Fukushima 2016 | Leave a comment

Fuel removal at Fukushima reactor again faces delay

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Steel frames are transported at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant on Dec. 20 to prepare for work to retrieve spent nuclear fuel from the storage pool of the damaged No. 3 reactor building.

Work to retrieve spent nuclear fuel in the No. 3 reactor building storage pool of the crippled Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant will again be postponed due to a delay in clearing radioactive debris at the site.

TEPCO planned to begin removing 566 spent nuclear fuel assemblies in the storage pool in January 2018. However, the government and the plant operator, Tokyo Electric Power Co., decided on the postponement, sources said on Dec. 22. They will decide on a new timetable in a few weeks.

The work was initially scheduled for fiscal 2015, but had been pushed back because of high radiation readings in and around the No. 3 reactor building. The building was heavily damaged by a hydrogen explosion in the days following the disaster, triggered by the 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake and tsunami.

TEPCO had attempted to lower radiation levels by clearing the radioactive debris remaining at the site.

But the clearing work took longer than expected due to contamination being more widespread than previously thought, forcing TEPCO and the government to again put off the retrieval.

Radiation levels have now dropped as almost all of wreckage at the site has been cleared, TEPCO said. The government and TEPCO have said fuel retrieval at the No. 1 and No. 2 reactor buildings will start in fiscal 2020 or later.

http://www.asahi.com/ajw/articles/AJ201612230043.html

December 23, 2016 Posted by | Fukushima 2016 | , , , | Leave a comment

For 6,000, the daily bus ride takes them to Fukushima plant

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A shuttle bus takes workers in deep sleep from the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant to J-Village, where their temporary dormitories are located.

A shuttle bus takes workers in deep sleep from the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant to J-Village, where their temporary dormitories are located. (Shigeta Kodama)
NARAHA, Fukushima Prefecture–Despite the predawn hour, few people are sleeping on a bus that steadily makes its way north on National Route 6.

Some passengers are planning for the work ahead. One is looking forward to chatting with his colleagues. And a few wonder if today will be the day when their annual radiation doses reach the safety limit.

Every day, buses like this take 6,000 workers to the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant. And every day, the same buses take the exhausted and mostly sleeping workers back to their base at the Japan Football Village (J-Village) in Naraha.

Although the Fukushima plant is still decades away from being decommissioned, without this daily routine of the workers who toil amid an invisible danger, the situation at the site would be much more difficult.

407 DAILY BUS RIDES

One of them, the 49-year-old leader of a group of metal workers from Iwaki, Fukushima Prefecture, has been working at nuclear plants, including the Kashiwazaki-Kariwa power station in Niigata Prefecture, for nearly 20 years.

He was at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant when the Great East Japan Earthquake and tsunami triggered the triple meltdown there in March 2011.

Nobody can get close to the area where the melted nuclear fuel remains due to high radiation doses,” the man said. “Even if we could approach the area, we would have no way out if something happens. The situation is harsh.”

Those metal workers install tanks for the contaminated water that keeps accumulating at the plant.

Although there are plenty of empty seats, the young workers sit in front and the older workers take the back seats.

Thousands of workers are staying at temporary dormitories set up in J-Village, a soccer training complex.

Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings Inc., operator of the nuclear plant, hired a local bus company to transport the workers to the plant because securing parking areas near the site has been difficult since the 2011 disaster.

The company provides 407 services a day to and from the plant. Each trip takes about 30 minutes.

The first shuttle bus departs from J-Village at 3:30 a.m., while the last bus leaves the Fukushima plant at 9:45 p.m.

In mid-November amid torrential rain, one bus picked up a man taking shelter under the eaves of a bus stop.

He said he is in charge of managing data related to radiation doses of fittings and other equipment at the plant.

We have many different types of work here,” the man proudly said.

Also on the way to the nuclear plant, a 53-year-old employee of a security company was thinking about personnel distribution.

Like other workers there, security guards must be replaced when their annual radiation doses reach a certain level set by the government.

He said he has difficulties making ends meet with a limited number of guards who have knowledge about radiation.

Suddenly, the man’s cellphone rings, and the caller orders the deployment of additional security guards to the plant.

A 52-year-old TEPCO employee was on the way to the nearby Fukushima No. 2 nuclear power plant to provide a safety training program for workers, many of whom are victims of the triple disaster.

I want to convey to workers how precious their lives are and how important safety is in a way that doesn’t make me sound hypocritical,” the employee said.

The triple meltdown has been called a “man-made disaster” caused by the failure of both TEPCO’s management and the government’s regulatory authorities.

The TEPCO employee will use props, such as a ladder, and pretend to be a worker to explain dangerous cases at the No. 1 plant.

PREMIUM SEATS

On the trip back to J-Village, a different atmosphere exists on the bus.

Although dazzling sunlight shines through the windows and stunning views of the ocean are available, most of the workers are fast asleep in their wrinkled uniforms.

Few people stay awake. I don’t even switch on the radio. They must be tired after their work,” said Nobuyuki Kimura, 52, who has driven the shuttle bus for one-and-a-half years.

In Kimura’s bus that departed the plant at 2:30 p.m., all 50 seats and some of the auxiliary seats were filled. The few passengers who stayed awake remained quiet.

By early evening, fewer workers boarded the bus at the plant.

Window seats at the back of the bus are desirable on all rides because they have an enough room for the seats to recline, allowing passengers to cross their legs.

A 21-year-old worker from Iwaki went for a window seat at the back after standing at the front of a line waiting for the bus.

I can relax sitting here. This is the premium seat,” said the man who collects waste materials, such as boots and socks, at the site.

Although he works in protective gear in an area with high radiation levels, he said he has never thought about quitting his job.

He said he became fed up with school as a junior high school student, and did not bother going to senior high school.

At the age of 18, he joined his current company, and his first assignment was at the Fukushima No. 1 plant.

I became acquaintances with more and more people. It’s fun to speak with people at work,” he said.

Through his work at the nuclear plant, his weight has dropped from 115 kilograms to 93 kg.

Thirty to 40 years are needed to decommission the Fukushima No. 1 plant, according to the mid- and-long-term roadmap compiled by the government and TEPCO.

To reduce the groundwater flowing into the buildings housing the No. 1 to No. 4 reactors, TEPCO installed coolant pipes this year to create an underground frozen soil wall to divert the water into the ocean.

TEPCO announced in October that the ice wall on the sea side was nearly frozen, but groundwater is believed to be seeping through it.

The utility plans to start removing spent fuel from the No. 3 reactor building in fiscal 2017. It also has plans to begin the daunting task of removing the melted fuel from the No. 1 to No. 3 reactor containment vessels in 2021.

However, extremely high radiation levels have prevented workers from approaching and understanding the condition of the melted fuel. The removal method has yet to be decided.

The estimated cost of work for decommissioning and dealing with the contaminated water has ballooned to 8 trillion yen ($68.1 billion).

http://www.asahi.com/ajw/articles/AJ201612220008.html

December 23, 2016 Posted by | Fukushima 2016 | , , | Leave a comment

State funds to be used for clean-up in Fukushima

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The Japanese government, for the first time, is using state funds for decontamination work in areas affected by the 2011 nuclear accident in Fukushima Prefecture.

The environment ministry earmarked roughly 30 billion yen, or about 250 million dollars, in the fiscal 2017 budget plan, which was approved by the Cabinet on Thursday.

The allocation will be for cleaning up no-entry areas where radiation levels remain prohibitively high.

The government has so far made the plant operator, Tokyo Electric Power Company, pay for the cleanup, based on the principle that the entity responsible for the contamination should bear the cost.

Some lawmakers within the governing coalition are opposed to the turnaround in policy, saying the government should continue to make TEPCO pay.

Environment minister Koichi Yamamoto told reporters on Thursday that the ministry will carefully explain the decision in an effort to seek public understanding on the use of state funds.

The Environment Ministry says it estimates the cost of decontamination work carried out by TEPCO so far at around 36 billion dollars.

But the cleanup of the heavily-contaminated areas that starts from fiscal 2017 is expected to be more time- and labor-consuming than the work in lesser tainted areas.

https://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/en/news/20161222_21/

December 23, 2016 Posted by | Fukushima 2016 | , | Leave a comment

Fukushima plaintiffs speak up on evacuee plight

A group of people who evacuated due to the 2011 accident at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant has spoken out about the many problems they face, including recent bullying of evacuee children.

The group consists of plaintiffs in lawsuits demanding compensation for damages from the central government and Tokyo Electric Power Company, which operates the plant.

Group representatives called for understanding of their suffering in a statement released at a news conference in Tokyo on Thursday.

The plaintiffs living in and outside Fukushima Prefecture, where the plant is located, took the action after a revelation last month that a student evacuee was bullied at school in Yokohama, near Tokyo.

The bullies demanded money from the boy. Similar cases have since been revealed elsewhere.

The statement says it is regrettable that evacuees, who are victims of the accident, suffer from insensitive criticism and unreasonable acts by others. It says the group seeks understanding of the seriousness of the situation.

A senior official of the group, Mitsuo Sato, said what has been reported about bullying is the tip of the iceberg. He said adults also face harassment and insensitivity. Sato said he wants people to know that bullying and discrimination affect all evacuees.

A woman who voluntarily evacuated from Fukushima Prefecture with her daughter asked people to think about why they had to leave their home. She added that the nuclear accident is far from over.

https://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/en/news/20161222_31/

December 23, 2016 Posted by | Fukushima 2016 | | Leave a comment

Fukushima’s ¥8 trillion cleanup leaves foreign firms in the cold

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Damaged building housing the No. 4 reactor

Cleaning up the Fukushima nuclear plant — a task predicted to cost 86 times the amount earmarked for decommissioning Japan’s first commercial reactor — is the mother of all salvage jobs. Still, foreign firms with decades of experience are seeing little of the spoils.

Safely dismantling the Japanese power plant, wrecked by the 2011 earthquake and tsunami, will cost about ¥8 trillion ($70 billion), the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry said on Dec. 9, quadrupling the previous estimate. While a contract to help clean up the facility would be a windfall for any firm with specialized technology, the lion’s share of the work has gone to local companies that designed and built most of Japan’s atomic infrastructure.

The bidding process for Fukushima contracts should be more open to foreigners, as Japan has never finished decommissioning a commercial nuclear plant, let alone one that experienced a triple meltdown, according to Lake Barrett, an independent adviser at Japan’s International Research Institute for Nuclear Decommissioning. While the Fukushima cleanup is unlike any nuclear disaster in history, foreign firms that have experience decommissioning regular facilities could provide much-needed support, according to Barrett, and even the plant’s operator, Tokyo Electric Power Co. Holdings Inc.

Cultural Resistance’

Internationally, there is a lot more decontamination and decommissioning knowledge than you have in Japan,” Barrett, a former official at the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission, said in an interview in Tokyo. “I hope the Japanese contracting system improves to get this job done safely. There is this cultural resistance — it is almost like there is an isolated nuclear village still.”

An opaque bidding process plays to the heart of criticisms put forward by independent investigators, who said in a 2012 report that collusion between the government, regulators and the plant’s operator contributed to the scale of the disaster.

Of 44 subsidized projects publicly awarded by the trade and economy ministry since 2014, about 80 percent went to the International Research Institute for Nuclear Decommissioning. The group, known as IRID, was established in the wake of the Fukushima disaster and is comprised entirely of Japanese corporations, according to the ministry’s website.

Japan’s trade and industry ministry awarded funds directly to only two foreign firms during the same period. Many of the contracts had only one or two bidders.

Of about 70 contracts awarded since the March 2011 disaster, nine have gone to foreign companies, according to an official in the ministry’s Agency of Natural Resources and Energy who asked not be named, citing internal policy.

To provide opportunities for foreign companies, the ministry has created an English website for bids and also provides English information sessions to explain the contracts, the official said.

Toshiba, Hitachi

IRID’s contracts are given to its members, including Toshiba Corp., Hitachi Ltd. and Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Ltd., which have partnerships and joint ventures with foreign firms, spokesman Yoshio Haruyama said by phone. While it doesn’t directly contract work to companies overseas, IRID taps foreign experts as advisers and participates in international collaborative projects, he said.

Mitsubishi Heavy has about five or six contracts through IRID, but can’t share how many partnerships it has with foreign firms, spokesman Shimon Ikeya said by phone. Hitachi has sub-contracts with foreign suppliers related to the Fukushima cleanup, but can’t provide details about these agreements because they aren’t public, a spokesperson said by email.

As of March, IRID had about ¥30 billion worth of ongoing contracts primarily related to research and development of fuel removal and waste treatment. IRID, which aims to “gather knowledge and ideas from around the world” for the purpose of nuclear decommissioning, doesn’t disclose how much of their money ultimately goes to foreign businesses, according to its spokesman. Barrett, its adviser, said he thinks it’s “very low,” but should ideally be 5 percent to 10 percent.

Nuclear Village’

Japan’s biggest nuclear disaster isn’t void of foreign technology. Toshiba, which owns Pennsylvania-based Westinghouse Electric Co., and Hitachi, which has a joint venture with General Electric Co., are tapping American expertise. A giant crane and pulley system supplied by Toshiba to remove spent fuel from the wrecked reactors employs technology developed by Westinghouse.

We bring in knowledge from foreign companies, organizations and specialists in order to safely decommission the reactors,” Tatsuhiro Yamagishi, spokesman for Tepco, said by email. While the company can’t say the exact number of foreign firms involved in the Fukushima cleanup, companies including Paris-based Areva SA, California-based Kurion Inc. and Massachusetts-based Endeavor Robotics are engaged in work at the site, according to Yamagishi.

For foreign firms, however, independently securing contracts is still a tall order.

When it comes to Japan’s nuclear industry, the bidding system is completely unclear,” Hiroaki Koide, a former assistant professor at Kyoto University Research Reactor Institute, said in an email. “The system is designed to strengthen the profits of Japan’s nuclear village,” he added, referring to the alliance of pro-nuclear politicians, bureaucrats and power companies that promote reactors.

Tepco’s annual cost to decommission its Fukushima plant may blow out to several hundred billion yen a year, up from the current estimate of ¥80 billion, the trade and industry ministry said in October. As of June, almost ¥1 trillion has been allocated for decommissioning and treating water at Fukushima, according to Tepco’s Yamagishi.

Ripe for Corruption’

With that much money at stake, Japan has become ground zero for a plethora of companies looking to benefit from the cleanup work. The structure of Japan’s nuclear industry and the closed procurement preferred by the utilities that operate atomic plants means that the most lucrative opportunities for foreign companies are in the area of subcontracting, according to a report by the EU-Japan Centre for Industrial Cooperation released in March.

Foreign firms have long argued that the Japanese bidding process is one that is ripe for corruption due to a lack of openness and transparency,” Daniel Aldrich, professor and director of the security and resilience studies program at Northeastern University in Boston, said in an email. For nuclear decommissioning “there is even less clarity and transparency due to security and proliferation concerns,” he said.

Rigging Bids

The Japan Fair Trade Commission raided the offices of five companies last year in relation to rigged bids for maintenance contracts from Tepco, according to Jiji Press. Eleven road-paving companies were fined in September on projects to repair roads following the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami, Jiji reported.

Andrew DeWit, a political economy professor at Rikkyo University in Tokyo, agrees that the contract-awarding process isn’t transparent. A lot of foreign companies seek Japanese partners to better their chances, he said.

Purolite Corp., a closely held water purifying company, spent millions of dollars developing and testing a system that could be used to treat radioactive water at Fukushima. Pennsylvania-based Purolite partnered with Hitachi to help win a contract to use its technology at the wrecked facility.

Those plans didn’t pan out. Purolite is suing Hitachi in New York and Tokyo, alleging that Hitachi is using its technology at Fukushima in breach of agreements made in 2011, shutting it out of more than $1 billion in contracts, according to court documents filed in September.

Hitachi doesn’t comment on ongoing legal matters, a spokesperson said by email.

With a smaller pool of competitors, firms can expand their profit margins,” said Northeastern University’s Aldrich. “There are French and Russian firms that have the technical expertise to participate in nuclear decommissioning processes, but it is unclear if they will be able to compete on a level playing field with Japanese firms, which have far more experience with Japanese regulations and expectations.”

http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2016/12/21/business/fukushimas-%C2%A58-trillion-cleanup-leaves-foreign-firms-cold/#.WFziJ1zia-c

https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2016-12-20/fukushima-s-70-billion-cleanup-leaves-foreign-firms-in-the-cold

December 23, 2016 Posted by | Fukushima 2016 | , , | Leave a comment

Government to help fund Fukushima decontamination, easing Tepco’s burden

Easing Tepco fuck-ups with taxpayers money!

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The Cabinet decided Tuesday that the central government will help pay to decontaminate areas worst hit by the 2011 Fukushima reactor meltdowns, marking a shift from earlier rules requiring Tepco to foot the bill.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s team endorsed a plan to set up a reconstruction hub in the most contaminated, off-limits areas in Fukushima Prefecture and secure about ¥30 billion for decontamination work in the fiscal 2017 budget.

The cost of the work could total around ¥300 billion in the next five years and grow further depending on how it progresses.

The plan is in line with proposals made in August by the ruling coalition, but no government panel review or Diet deliberations have been held on it, raising the prospect that it could be criticized as a bailout for Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings Inc.

The government decided to add the decontamination work, including soil and tree removal, to infrastructure projects for making the affected land habitable again, but the special law on decontamination states that Tepco should shoulder the expenses.

The government will have to revise the special law on rebuilding Fukushima to accommodate the shift.

The move to help pay for the decontamination came after the expected price tag surged to ¥4 trillion from the previous estimate of ¥2.5 trillion, which did not include the cost of cleaning the areas with the highest levels of radiation.

If the government-funded cleaning area expands, the use of taxpayer money is likely to balloon to several trillion yen.

Meanwhile, in an effort to turn Tepco’s business fortunes around, the government proposed that the battered utility work together with other companies in operating nuclear power plants and distributing power.

A panel of the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry urged the company to launch talks with other power companies next year and set up a joint venture in the early 2020s to eventually consolidate their businesses.

Tepco reform will be the basis of reconstruction in Fukushima and could lead to a new, stronger utilities industry,” said industry minister Hiroshige Seko.

We will profoundly accept the proposal and drastically carry out reform,” said Tepco President Naomi Hirose.

http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2016/12/20/national/government-help-fund-fukushima-decontamination-easing-tepcos-burden/#.WFj6NFzia-c

December 23, 2016 Posted by | Fukushima 2016 | , , | Leave a comment

Both Cesium 134 and 137 in Potato Chips

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The ongoing Fukushima radiation contaminating the populace in Japan and abroad is still going unabated. Cleverly, authorities have succeeded in numbing millions of people to the danger of radiation from the Fukushima crisis.

Whether you are continously inhaling it (as they are incenarating radioactive waste under everyone noses for years now) or you are being dosed off in Cs 137 with some rains or snow, the most dangerous ways remains eating contaminated food. Even potato chips!

Kampu, a citizen food testing group found both cesium 134 and 137 in a potato chips bag. The chips were harvested and manufactured in 2015 with the potatoes coming from Ibaraki and Chiba prefectures. Both prefectures not included by the government in the areas having agriculture with risk of contamination.
The potato chip brand, Calbee is being sold in Japan and also globally including to the US. Calbee has a manufacturing plant in the US, so to determine what factory made a product may be a wise precaution.

So while the media prostitute and this lying led government is trying to tell everyone all Is ok, just know contaminated produces (at safe levels they will tell you ? when being caught) is openly being fed to you in restaurants (usually big chains in Japan thx Yoshinoya), convenience stores and super markets. It is also being sold all around the world.

Please note that these potato chips were harvested in Ibaraki and Chiba. .. not Fukushima. They are trying to tell you the contamination is limited to a few km away from the destroyed Nuclear Power Plant. It’s a damn lie and you should know better.

Anyway; Bon appetit!

http://beguredenega.com/archives/11931

December 23, 2016 Posted by | Fukushima 2016 | , , | Leave a comment

Public funds earmarked to decontaminate Fukushima’s ‘difficult-to-return’ zone

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The so-called “difficult-to-return” areas are colored in grey

The government is set to inject some 30 billion yen in public funds into work to decontaminate so-called “difficult-to-return” areas whose annual radiation levels topped 50 millisieverts in 2012 due to the Fukushima No. 1 Nuclear Power Plant disaster, it has been learned.
While the government had maintained that it would demand plant operator Tokyo Electric Power Co. (TEPCO) cover the decontamination expenses based on the polluter-pays principle, the new plan effectively relieves TEPCO from the hefty financial burden by having taxpayers shoulder the costs.

The new plan is part of the government’s basic guidelines for “reconstruction bases” to be set up in each municipality within the difficult-to-return zone in Fukushima Prefecture from fiscal 2017, with the aim of prioritizing decontamination work and infrastructure restoration there. The government is seeking to lift evacuation orders for the difficult-to-return zone in five years.

However, the details of the reconstruction bases, such as their size and locations, have yet to be determined due to ongoing discussions between local municipalities and the Reconstruction Agency and other relevant bodies.

The government is set to obtain Cabinet approval for the basic guidelines on Dec. 20 before submitting a bill to revise the Act on Special Measures for the Reconstruction and Revitalization of Fukushima to the regular Diet session next year. The 30 billion yen in funds for the decontamination work will be set aside in the fiscal 2017 budget.

In the basic guidelines, the government states that decontamination work at the reconstruction bases is part of state projects to accelerate Fukushima’s recovery and that the costs for the work will be covered by public funds without demanding TEPCO to make compensation. The statement is also apparently aimed at demonstrating the government’s active commitment to Fukushima’s restoration.

Under the previous guidelines for Fukushima’s recovery approved by the Cabinet in December 2013, the government had stated that it would demand TEPCO cover the decontamination expenses of both completed and planned work. However, it hadn’t been decided who would shoulder the decontamination costs for the difficult-to-return zone as there was no such plan at that point.

Masafumi Yokemoto, professor at Osaka City University who is versed in environmental policy, criticized the government’s move, saying, “If the government is to shoulder the cost that ought to be covered by TEPCO, the government must first accept its own responsibility for the nuclear disaster, change its policy and investigate the disaster before doing so. Otherwise, (spending taxpayers’ money on decontamination work) can’t be justified.”

http://mainichi.jp/english/articles/20161219/p2a/00m/0na/015000c

December 19, 2016 Posted by | Fukushima 2016 | , , | Leave a comment

8 Taiwanese firms to be fined for importing food from radiation-affected areas

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Taipei, Dec. 18 (CNA) Fines will be imposed on eight companies which have been found to have imported foods from Japan’s radiation-affected areas, Taiwan’s Food and Drug Administration (FDA) said Sunday.

As of Sunday, a total of 39 Japanese food products and nearly 60,000 items have been pulled from store shelves in Taiwan, with many of them being soy sauce and wasabi packets that go with Japanese natto, or fermented soybeans.

FDA Northern Center Senior Executive Officer Wei Jen-ting (魏任廷) said 103 importers and 849 distributors island-wide have been questioned since Monday, urging vendors to check the food items they are selling, and notify health authorities if their products came from Fukushima, Ibaraki, Tochigi, Gunma and Chiba prefectures.

Of the 39 products, 26 have tested negative for radiation contamination, while 13 are still being screened, Wei said.

Among the eight importers of these problematic products, Tai Crown Co. (太冠公司) is subjected to a fine of NT$1 million, he said.

The FDA said it will step up inspection of food imported from Japan and will ask importers and distributors to list the places of origin, including the prefecture, on the product labels in Chinese.

Failure to provide Chinese labeling could also result in a fine of between NT$30,000 (US$937) and NT$3 million, it said.

The affected companies have one month to explain themselves, or else the fines will be issued in accordance with the law.

http://focustaiwan.tw/news/asoc/201612180019.aspx

December 19, 2016 Posted by | Fukushima 2016 | , , | Leave a comment

Environment Ministry to consolidate management of radioactive waste from Fukushima disaster

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The government plans to set up a new bureau in the Environment Ministry to unify the handling of radioactive waste generated by the 2011 Fukushima disaster, informed sources said.

The bureau, which will also take on recycling management, will have around 200 staff and be created through a ministry reorganization in fiscal 2017 starting in April that will change the size of its workforce.

The reorganization will also abolish the Environmental Policy Bureau.

The government hopes the move will improve cooperation with municipalities damaged by the triple meltdown triggered at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant in Fukushima Prefecture during the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami.

Thus far, measures to deal with radioactive waste, including decontamination, have been handled by three sections — the Waste Management and Recycling Department, the Environmental Management Bureau and the Director-General for Decontamination Technology of Radioactive Materials.

The ruling parties’ task forces on accelerating reconstruction from March 2011 are requesting the integration move in response to complaints from the affected municipalities.

http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2016/12/18/national/environment-ministry-consolidate-management-radioactive-waste-fukushima-disastere/#.WFZ3llzia-d

December 19, 2016 Posted by | Fukushima 2016 | , , , | Leave a comment

Namie’s high recovery hopes haunted by dwindling coffers, fears of losing vital state dole

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A robot testing facility, a robotics research center, a base for renewable energy and a memorial park — these are some of the plans the irradiated town of Namie, Fukushima Prefecture, has in mind for rebuilding after the triple reactor meltdown at the nearby Fukushima No. 1 power plant in March 2011.

But to pursue those plans, the town needs funds — a gigantic amount.

Namie is hoping to cover its funding needs with central government grants. But the two sides are still negotiating whether the municipality must shoulder a certain amount.

Also, there is no guarantee that the grants will continue beyond fiscal 2020, when the central government-designated reconstruction and revitalization period ends. This has residents worried that, even if the facilities are built, the municipality won’t be able to shoulder the maintenance and personnel costs needed to keep the facilities running.

We are currently negotiating fiercely with the central government,” said Namie’s deputy mayor, Katsumi Miyaguchi, 61.

The town of Namie had the largest population in the Futaba district, but its coffers took a major hit after the calamity triggered by the Great East Japan Earthquake on March 11, 2011.

Residential tax revenue, which comprises about 30 to 40 percent of all tax revenues, sank to ¥500 million from about a ¥1 billion before 3/11 after the town decided to waive taxes for those with annual income below ¥5 million.

Whether to continue the waiver program is another difficult political issue.

The town was also waiving property taxes but plans to resume them when evacuations are lifted in some areas next spring. But land values have plunged since the meltdowns and any property tax revenues are expected to be low.

The same goes for corporate tax revenue, which has been hit by 3/11 business suspensions.

In short, Namie wouldn’t be able to pay the salaries of its town officials, let alone finance a reconstruction plan, if it weren’t for the central government grants.

As the centerpiece of its plan, Namie plans to build a facility adjacent to its town hall that would offer local information and house restaurants that serve up local specialties.

But that remains to be seen.

We are making plans despite the uncertainty that the central government’s grants will cover them,” said a town official in charge. “If the funds don’t cover the entire plan, it may need to be revised.”

In the mayor’s office, currently in the city of Nihonmatsu, there is a calender showing the number of days that have passed since the disasters hit — over 2,000. But Namie is still far from recovery.

The financial resources we’ve lost due to the disaster are excessive,” said Namie Mayor Tamotsu Baba, 68. “We desperately need the central government to continue its support.”

Another town executive agreed.

If the government stops providing grants four years later when the reconstruction/revitalization period ends, it means the government has abandoned Namie,” the executive said.

http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2016/12/18/national/namies-high-recovery-hopes-haunted-dwindling-coffers-fears-losing-vital-state-dole/#.WFZwYVzia-d

December 19, 2016 Posted by | Fukushima 2016 | , , | Leave a comment

Panel wants new power suppliers to add charges to bills to cover Fukushima costs

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An expert committee of the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry put together a recommendation on Dec. 16 for energy policy revisions that would have new, small-scale power suppliers also help cover compensation for the Fukushima nuclear disaster and reactor decommissioning costs by adding charges to consumer power bills.

The estimated total cost of handling the Fukushima disaster has nearly doubled from 11 trillion yen to 21.5 trillion yen, with further increases possible. Since the disaster, Tokyo Electric Power Co. (TEPCO), the operator of the disaster-stricken Fukushima No. 1 Nuclear Power Plant, has been paying around 70 billion yen a year in disaster-related costs from its own money. TEPCO and other major power providers have also been paying around an additional 163 billion yen a year by charging higher power bills.

The plan would raise consumers’ share of the burden yet further. Under a scenario recommended by the committee, up to 60 billion yen a year for 40 years starting from fiscal 2020, or up to a total of 2.4 trillion yen, would be paid through charges to the power transmission costs of both traditional power producers and new producers.

Regarding this 2.4 trillion yen, the ministry argues, “The money should have been prepared prior to the accident at the Fukushima plant,” but says that, since that didn’t happen, “It is appropriate for all past users of cheap power (including those who switched to non-nuclear sources after the disaster) to equally share the burden (of post-disaster costs.)” Under ministry calculations, the proposal would lead to an additional payment of 18 yen per month for 40 years for an average household.

Additionally, the plan, which would also start in fiscal 2020, would have new power producers help finance the plans of major power producers to decommission aging nuclear reactors through higher power transmission costs.

In exchange for new power producers paying part of the compensation costs, major utilities would supply more power from cheap sources to the market, such as nuclear power and coal, which can be used by smaller providers.

Yoh Yasuda, specially-appointed professor at Kyoto University, is critical of this, saying, “This will lead to the protection of traditional power sources like coal and nuclear, and serve as a barrier to new technologies like renewable energy entering the market.”

The economy ministry argues that even with the extra costs for the Fukushima disaster added on, nuclear power is still cheaper than thermal power. At the meeting on Dec. 16, committee member Toshihiro Matsumura, a professor at the University of Tokyo, criticized the move, saying, “If the ministry claims that nuclear power is still cheap even after including the massive compensation costs, nuclear power producers and the ministry should realize that there will be people who say those utilities should cover the costs themselves instead of pushing the burden onto others.” However, most of the committee members generally agreed on the plan. After soliciting opinions from the public, the proposal will be officially decided upon.

The plan would go into effect with just a ministry order, not requiring a law amendment through the Diet, and there is criticism that the plan is being made without enough input from the public. The non-partisan Diet group working for zero nuclear power plants, jointly headed by Taro Kono of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party and Shoichi Kondo of the main opposition Democratic Party, has released a statement saying, “The idea of adopting a proposal after no public discussion, with no participation from the Diet at all in its creation, is unspeakable, as it will twist the basis of power system reforms and increase the burden on the people.”
http://mainichi.jp/english/articles/20161217/p2a/00m/0na/006000c

December 19, 2016 Posted by | Fukushima 2016 | , | Leave a comment