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Japan says Dumping Fukushima’s Radioactive Water Into Pacific Ocean Is ‘Only Option

Dumping Fukushima’s Radioactive Water Into Pacific Ocean Is ‘Only Option’, Japan Says ARIA BENDIX, BUSINESS INSIDER  12 SEP 2019 On March 11, 2011, Japan was struck by the most powerful earthquake in the nation’s history – a magnitude 9 temblor that triggered a tsunami with waves up to 133 feet (40 meters) high. The disaster set off three nuclear meltdowns and three hydrogen explosions at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant.

Eight years later, Fukushima holds more than 1 million tons of contaminated water.

The water comes from two main sources. First, the tsunami caused the reactor cores to overheat and melt,  so cleanup workers injected water into the cores to cool them. In the wake of the accident, groundwater  also seeped in beneath the reactors and mixed with radioactive material.

To store this contaminated water, the plant currently has 1,000 sealed tanks. But the water is still accumulating. There’s enough room to keep the liquid contained through summer 2022, but after that, there will be no space left.

At a news briefing in Tokyo, Japan’s environment minister, Yoshiaki Harada, said that come 2022, “the only option will be to drain it into the sea and dilute” the contaminated water.

The Japanese government, however, is waiting on a verdict from a panel of experts before making a final decision about what to do with the water.

Meanwhile, the environmental group Greenpeace said in a statement that the “only environmentally acceptable option” would be to continue to store the water and filter it for contaminants.

But that would require more tanks and an expensive filtration process.

Dumping the water could reduce cleanup costs

Only two events have ever been designated “level 7” nuclear accidents by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA): Fukushima and Chernobyl.

The majority of radiation released during the Fukushima disaster wound up in the Pacific Ocean, but the meltdown also forced the evacuation of more than 200,000 people from nearby areas – about 43,000 of whom still haven’t returned.

The Japan Centre for Economic Research has estimated that the cleanup costs of the disaster could amount to $US660 billion.

Shortly after the tsunami, Fukushima plant workers constructed storage tanks to house the contaminated water used to cool the reactor cores. But they also had to contend with the radioactive groundwater, since cracks in the downed reactors’ foundations allowed liquid to seep in from below.

This left cleanup crews with more dirty water to store and treat than they’d anticipated.

To purify all this water, plant workers at first used zeolites – volcanic materials that cling to a radioactive isotope called cesium. Then in 2013, they filtered the water for strontium, another toxic radioactive substance. But they had trouble filtering out an isotope called tritium, since it binds easily to water.

In 2016, the Japanese ministry concluded that none of the available methods for removing tritium would work on the Fukushima site.

Greenpeace later said the government had been deterred by the price tag of all the viable methods; one system from a company called Kurion would have cost around US$1 billion to set up, plus several hundred million dollars to operate each year.

‘The sea is not a garbage dump’

Water containing tritium isn’t very dangerous for humans – dumping tritium-laced water into the ocean is common practice for coastal nuclear plants. But it could endanger the local marine species, including fish, which provide a source of income for people living near the power plant.

In 2018, Fukushima’s operator, the Tokyo Electric Power Company (Tepco), also revealed that isotopes like strontium lingered in the water, which meant that about 80 percent of the plant’s treated water still had radiation levels above the government’s standard for ocean dumping.

Some tanks had radiation levels that were 20,000 times greater than the government’s safety standards.

Sending that contaminated water into the ocean could allow it to travel to nearby shores in South Korea, where it could contaminate that local seafood supply, too.

“The sea is not a garbage dump,” Jan Hakervamp, a nuclear-energy expert at Greenpeace, told Business Insider.

“The sea is a common home for all people and creatures and must be protected.” his article was originally published by Business Insider.


September 17, 2019 Posted by | Fukushima continuing | 1 Comment

Japan nowhere near solving the problem of Fukushima nuclear waste water

Japan briefs diplomats on Fukushima nuclear water concerns,  Japan tried to reassure foreign diplomats Wednesday about safety at the crippled Fukushima nuclear plant amid concerns about massive amounts of treated but radioactive water stored in tanks.

Diplomats from 22 countries and regions attended a briefing at the Foreign Ministry, where Japanese officials stressed the importance of combating rumors about safety at the plant, which was decimated by a 2011 earthquake and tsunami, while pledging transparency.

The plant’s operator, Tokyo Electric Power Co., or TEPCO, said last month that it would run out of storage space for the water in 2022, prompting South Korea to raise safety questions amid tensions with Japan that have intensified over trade and history. South Korea was among those represented at Wednesday’s briefing.

Water must be continuously pumped into the four melted reactors at the plant so the fuel inside can be kept cool, and radioactive water has leaked from the reactors and mixed with groundwater and rainwater since the disaster.

The plant has accumulated more than 1 million tons of water in nearly 1,000 tanks. The water has been treated but still contains some radioactive elements. One, tritium — a relative of radiation-emitting hydrogen — cannot be separated.

Tritium is not unique to Fukushima’s melted reactors and is not harmful in low doses, and water containing it is routinely released from nuclear power plants around the world, including in South Korea, officials say.

The water has been a source of concern, sparking rumors about safety, especially as Japan tries to get countries to lift restrictions on food imports from the Fukushima area ahead of the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. Import restrictions are still in place in 22 countries and regions, including South Korea and China.

“In order to prevent harmful rumors about the Fukushima Dai-ichi plant from being circulated, we believe it is extremely important to provide scientific and accurate information,” Yumiko Hata, a Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry official in charge of the Fukushima accident response, said at the briefing. “We appreciate your understanding of the situation and continuing support for the decommissioning work at the Fukushima Dai-ichi plant.”

Officials said there were no complaints from the diplomats Wednesday about Japan’s handling of the water.

More than eight years after the accident, Japan has yet to decide what to do with the radioactive water. A government-commissioned panel has picked five options, including the controlled release of the water into the Pacific Ocean.

As disputes between Japan and neighboring South Korea escalated over export controls and colonial-era labor used by Japanese companies, Seoul last month announced plans to step up radiation tests of Japanese food products, and asked about the contaminated water and the possibility of its release into the sea.

Experts say the tanks pose flooding and radiation risks and hamper decontamination efforts at the plant. Nuclear scientists, including members the International Atomic Energy Agency and Japanese Nuclear Regulation Authority, have recommended the water’s controlled release into the sea as the only realistic option scientifically and financially. Local residents oppose this, saying the release would trigger rumors of contamination, which would spell doom for Fukushima’s fishing and agriculture industries.

The panel recently added a sixth option of long-term storage.

September 5, 2019 Posted by | Fukushima continuing, water | Leave a comment

The village of Iitate – nuclear tragedy, and Fukushima’s black snow

August 31, 2019 Posted by | Fukushima continuing, PERSONAL STORIES, Reference | Leave a comment

No long term solution to the accumulating radioactive water at Fukushima

Fukushima: Nuclear-contaminated water raises 2020 Games site fears,The Weather Network, Caroline Floyd , Meteorologist  14 Aug 19, Beginning late next July, Tokyo and several other sites around Japan will welcome elite athletes from around the world for the 2020 Summer Games. One of the sites carries with it a stigma that organizers are hoping to help heal — Fukushima.

Tremendous amounts of water flooded the reactors in the wake of the disaster, both from the tsunami itself and from water added to cover the melted reactors and allow them to cool as part of the efforts to clean up the site and decommission the plant. Since then, groundwater has also infiltrated the site. All of this water has been contaminated by radioactive substances, like cesium and tritium. While the cesium can be removed via processing, tritium generally remains, meaning the still-contaminated water must be stored.

TEPCO, the utility which operated the reactor, has installed about 1,000 large storage tanks at the site to hold the contaminated water; currently, more than 1.05 million tons of radioactive water are being stored in the tanks, and roughly 150 tons are added every day.

TEPCO continues to install new tanks, but according to the Japanese newspaper Asahi Shimbun, “space limitations mean that by the end of 2020, a maximum storage capacity of about 1.34 million tons will be reached.” Officials have added that if the groundwater infiltration was decreased, it will be possible to stretch that date until summer 2022.

Some scheduled baseball and softball events will take place at Fukushima Azuma Baseball Stadium, located about 70 km northwest of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant.

There may be another hitch in the road to recovery, however, and it’s looming on the horizon for next year.

Tremendous amounts of water flooded the reactors in the wake of the disaster, both from the tsunami itself and from water added to cover the melted reactors and allow them to cool as part of the efforts to clean up the site and decommission the plant. Since then, groundwater has also infiltrated the site. All of this water has been contaminated by radioactive substances, like cesium and tritium. While the cesium can be removed via processing, tritium generally remains, meaning the still-contaminated water must be stored.

TEPCO, the utility which operated the reactor, has installed about 1,000 large storage tanks at the site to hold the contaminated water; currently, more than 1.05 million tons of radioactive water are being stored in the tanks, and roughly 150 tons are added every day.

TEPCO continues to install new tanks, but according to the Japanese newspaper Asahi Shimbun, “space limitations mean that by the end of 2020, a maximum storage capacity of about 1.34 million tons will be reached.” Officials have added that if the groundwater infiltration was decreased, it will be possible to stretch that date until summer 2022.

While more tanks can be installed, a long-term solution is still being sought and, so far, most of them aren’t going over well with the locals.

One suggestion before the central government is to dilute the water after processing and gradually release it into the Pacific. Another is to build a long-term storage facility near the plant site. Fukushima residents, and fishermen in particular, have expressed strong opposition to both ideas, not over fears of the wastewater itself but because of the negative publicity and continuing stigma that would damage their livelihoods……

Setting a deadline on the current storage situation puts additional pressure on Japanese authorities and the public to reach a consensus.

“When we talk about Fukushima’s reconstruction, the question is if we should prioritize the decommissioning at the expense of Fukushima people’s lives,” Naoya Sekiya, a University of Tokyo professor of disaster social science, told the Associated Press. “The issue is not just about science.”

August 15, 2019 Posted by | Fukushima continuing | Leave a comment

Fukushima’s ticking time-bomb, as space is running out for radioactive water storage


Ticking Clock

The effort to safely decommission Japan’s Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant just got hit by a looming deadline.

In about three years, the plant will run out of space for the massive quantities of treated but still-radioactive water that officials have been storing there, according to The Associated Press. While a government panel came up with a few possible courses of action, the most feasible one at the moment is to simply dump the water into the Pacific — a bleak sign for nuclear disasters in the future.

Maximum Capacity

At the moment, Fukushima has over 1 million tons of water stored in almost 1,000 on-site tanks, the AP reports. Plans are in place to build enough to store nearly 1.4 million more tons, but that even those will reach capacity by mid-2022.

Local fishers and residents of the area say that dumping the water would devastate the area’s fishing and agriculture industry, per the AP. Other options considered by the panel include vaporizing the radioactive water or injecting it deep underground.

“When we talk about Fukushima’s reconstruction, the question is if we should prioritize the decommissioning at the expense of Fukushima people’s lives,” University of Tokyo professor of disaster social science Naoya Sekiya told the AP. “The issue is not just about science.”

August 12, 2019 Posted by | Fukushima continuing | Leave a comment

Robots the only hope for highly radioactive areas in wrecked Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant

Robots come to the rescue after Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster, CBS News, CORRESPONDENTLesley Stahl, Produced by Richard Bonin and Ayesha Siddiqi , 28 July 19

Eight years after a powerful earthquake and tsunami caused a massive nuclear meltdown in the Daiichi Power Plant, Lesley Stahl reports on the unprecedented cleanup effort

More than eight years have passed since a monster earthquake and tsunami struck Northeast Japan and triggered what became, after Chernobyl, the worst nuclear disaster in history at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant. 

As we first reported last fall, when three of the plant’s six reactors melted down, hot fuel turned to molten lava and burned through steel walls and concrete floors. To this day, no one knows exactly where inside the reactor buildings the fuel is. And it is so deadly, no human can go inside to look for it. So the Japanese company that owns the crippled plant has turned to robots.

There are four-legged robots, robots that climb stairs and even robots that can swim into reactors flooded with water. They’re equipped with 3D scanners, sensors and cameras that map the terrain, measure radiation levels and look for the missing fuel.

This is part of a massive clean up that’s expected to cost nearly $200 billion and take decades.

Lesley Stahl: Has anything like this cleanup, in terms of the scope, ever happened before?

Lake Barrett:  No, this is a unique situation here.  It’s never happened in human history. It’s a challenge we’ve never had before………..

Lesley Stahl: Why not just bury this place? Why not do what they did at Chernobyl? Just cover it up, bury it, and just leave it here all– you know, enclosed?

Lake Barrett: Number one this is right next to the sea. We’re 100 yards from the ocean. We have typhoons here in Japan. This is also a high earthquake zone. And there’s gonna be future earthquakes. So these are unknowns that the Japanese and no one wants to deal with………

Lesley Stahl: How many tons of radioactive waste was developed here?

Lake Barrett: Probably 500 to 1,000 tons in each building.

Lesley Stahl: So how long will it be lethal?

Lake Barrett: It will be lethal for thousands of years.

Lesley Stahl: What we’re talking about really is three meltdowns?

Lake Barrett: Yes. It was truly Hell on Earth.

No one is gonna send a worker in there because they’d be overexposed in just a matter of seconds.”

The meltdowns triggered huge explosions that sent plumes of radioactive debris into the atmosphere, forcing the evacuation of everyone within a 12-mile radius – about 160,000 people in all. Weeks later, TEPCO officials engaged in so-called kowtow diplomacy – allowing townspeople to berate them as they prostrated themselves in apology.

Thousands of workers were sent to the countryside to decontaminate everything touched by radiation including digging up dirt and putting it in bags – lots of bags.

But while much of the evacuation zone has been decontaminated, there are still entire neighborhoods that are like ghost towns, silent and lifeless with radiation levels that remain too high.

At the plant they’re capturing contaminated groundwater, about 150 tons a day, and storing it in tanks, as far as the eye can see.

Lake Barrett: Water is always the major challenge here. And it’s going to remain a major challenge until the entire cores are removed.

The closer workers get to the reactors, the more protective gear they have to wear, as we discovered………..

In the years since the accident, much of the damage to the building has been repaired.

But it’s still dangerous to spend a lot of time here. We could stay only 15 minutes.

Lesley Stahl: There’s this number I’ve been seeing, 566.

Lake Barrett: Right. That’s telling you the radiation level that we’re in. It’s fairly high here. That’s why we’re gonna be here a short time.

Lesley Stahl: How close are you and I, right this minute, to the core?

Lake Barrett: The– the melted cores are about 70 feet that way.

Lesley Stahl: Seventy from here–

Lake Barrett: From here.

Lesley Stahl: –is the melted core?

Lake Barrett: Correct, that’s right over in here. We don’t know quite where other than it fell down into the floor.

Lesley Stahl: So if you sent a worker in right now to find it, how long would they survive?

Lake Barrett: No one is gonna send a worker in there because they’d be overexposed in just a matter of seconds.

Enter the robots.

Lesley Stahl: This is the robot research center.

Dr. Kuniaki Kawabata: Yes. This is for remote control technology development.

In 2016, the Japanese government opened this $100 million research center near the plant where a new generation of robots is being developed by teams of engineers and scientists from the nation’s top universities and tech companies………

But even with all the high-tech training and know-how, the robots have run into problems. For the early models, it was the intense levels of radiation – that fried their electronics and cameras.

Lake Barrett: Their lifetime was hours. We hoped it would be days, but it was for hours………

when Scorpion went inside, it hit some debris and got stuck after traveling less than 10 feet. ……

Finally, in 2017, the swimming robot [Little Sunfish] made its foray into the heart of the reactor.  ………. It beamed back images reveali ng clumps of debris, fuel rods, half-destroyed equipment and murky glimpses of what looks like solidified lava — the first signs, TEPCO officials say, of the missing fuel.  

Lake Barrett: These robotic steps so far have been significant steps. But it is only a small step on a very, very long journey.

Lesley Stahl: This is gonna take you said decades with an “S.” How many decades?

Lake Barrett: We don’t know for sure. The goal here is 40– 30– 40 years. You know, I personally think it may be even 50– 60, but it’s–

Lesley Stahl: Oh, maybe longer……….

July 30, 2019 Posted by | Fukushima continuing | Leave a comment

The ghost towns in Fukushima Prefecture

Split-Screen Documentary: Nuclear Ghost Town – After 8 Years

Fukushima’s ghost towns

More than eight years after one of the worst nuclear disasters in history, towns around Japan’s nuclear power plant struggle to rebuild, 2019 Jul 28, BYBrit McCandless Farmer   

July 30, 2019 Posted by | Fukushima continuing | Leave a comment

Fukushima’s wrecked reactors: radioactive water is in no way under control

Toxic water level at Fukushima plant still not under control, THE ASAHI SHIMBUN, July 28, 2019 Almost six years after Prime Minister Shinzo Abe famously declared the contaminated water problem at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant “under control,” today it remains anything but.

Tokyo Electric Power Co. (TEPCO) continues to face difficulties in dealing with water contaminated with radioactive substances at its crippled plant.

About 18,000 tons of highly contaminated water remain accumulated in reactor buildings and other places.

Abe made the declaration in September 2013 while Tokyo was bidding to win the 2020 Summer Games.

In reality, however, the situation is not under control even now.

In a meeting of the Nuclear Regulation Authority (NRA) in June, one of its members, Nobuhiko Ban, told TEPCO officials, “I want you to show whether you have a prospect (for the reduction of contaminated water) or you have given up.”

The water level did not fall as planned in an area of a basement floor at the No. 3 reactor building for two months. Asked why the level did not drop, TEPCO officials offered only vague explanations in the meeting. Ban made the remark out of irritation.

Highly contaminated water that has accumulated in reactor buildings and turbine buildings is a major concern at the Fukushima plant. In addition to water that was used to cool melted nuclear fuel at the No. 1, No. 2 and No. 3 reactors, groundwater also has flowed into those buildings through cracks.

The concentration of radioactive substances in the highly contaminated water is about 100 million times that of the contaminated water that has been processed and stored in tanks………

Eight years since the nuclear accident occurred, the volume of highly contaminated water in the buildings has fallen to 18,000 tons. TEPCO aims to reduce the volume further to 6,000 tons by the end of fiscal 2020.

However, work to decrease the water has not progressed as expected.

As for the area in the basement of the No. 3 reactor building, it is known that water used to cool melted nuclear fuel is flowing into the area. But why the water level does not drop only in that area is not known.

If the water level in the building remains high, highly contaminated water there could leak into the ground through cracks when the groundwater level outside the building drops. If the leaks occur, the entire effort to decrease the amount of highly contaminated water will be stalled.

The NRA is also requiring TEPCO to take anti-tsunami measures because if a huge tsunami engulfs the buildings again, it could send highly contaminated water pouring into the sea

However, anti-tsunami measures are also delayed……

July 29, 2019 Posted by | Fukushima continuing | Leave a comment

Fukushima – a nuclear catastrophe that continues

Expert says 2020 Tokyo Olympics unsafe due to Fukushima | 60 Minutes

Fukushima: an ongoing disaster, Red Flag , Jack Crawford, 15 July 2019 In March – on the eighth anniversary of the Fukushima disaster – Time magazine published an article with the headline: “Want to Stop Climate Change? Then It’s Time to Fall Back in Love with Nuclear Energy”. In it, the former head of the International Atomic Energy Agency, Hans Blix, evokes the imminent threat of climate catastrophe to argue, “There are paths out of this mess. But on March 11, 2011 [the day of the Fukushima disaster], the world’s course was diverted away from one of the most important. I am talking about nuclear energy”. He continues by criticising public fears of nuclear as irrational: “Plane crashes have not stopped us from flying, because most people know it is an effective means of travelling”. Blix speaks for the global nuclear industry, which is increasingly attempting to present itself as the solution to climate change.

But plane crashes do not kill untold numbers and spread deadly poisons over huge areas of the planet. Fukushima was and still is a horrific and ongoing human and environmental catastrophe, exposing the horrendous risks to which the powerful are willing to subject people and the planet. It should be remembered every time a pro-nuclear bureaucrat or politician exploits genuine concern about climate change to promote this deadly industry. It should never be forgotten.

………..Today, towns such as Futaba, Tomioka and Okuma are nuclear ghost towns. In them you will find a forest of metal gates, decaying buildings, shattered glass and cars wrapped in vines. The only human faces are mannequins in store windows, still dressed in the fashion of 2011. Sprawled across the highway between towns are hundreds of black bags filled with toxic dirt. They are one of the many problems of the clean-up effort. There are about 30 million one-tonne bags of radioactive topsoil, tree branches, grass and other waste. There is no safe, long-term storage place for this material.

The clean-up is undermined by cost cutting. Workers are forced to meet strict deadlines, even if it compromises safety. “There were times when we were told to leave the contaminated topsoil and just remove the leaves so we could get everything done on schedule”, explained Minoru Ikeda, a former worker. “Sometimes we would look at each other as if to say: ‘What on earth are we doing here?’”

The task is mammoth. The government and TEPCO now say that decommissioning the failed nuclear plant will take 40 years, at a cost of ¥22 trillion (or US$200 billion). But there is significant uncertainty about how to remove the hundreds of tonnes of molten fuel from the reactors. “For the removal of the debris, we don’t have accurate information or any viable methodology for that”, admitted the plant’s manager, Akira Ono, in 2015. “We need to develop many, many technologies.”

Beyond the plant itself, the total clean-up is likely to cost between ¥50 trillion and ¥70 trillion (US$460-640 billion), according to the estimates of a right wing think tank, the Japan Center for Economic Research. Thousands of workers continue to make daily trips between the contaminated zones and company accommodation. Dodgy subcontractors recruit largely from Japan’s destitute, including the homeless, migrant workers and asylum seekers. A recent Greenpeace investigation, “On the Frontline of the Fukushima Nuclear Accident: Workers and Children”, found evidence of hyper-exploitation and dangerous radiation exposure. In one case, a 55-year-old homeless man was paid the equivalent of US$10 for a month’s work. “TEPCO is God”, lamented Tanaka, another homeless Fukushima worker. “The main contractors are kings, and we are slaves.”

Scandalously, organised crime has penetrated the clean-up operations. Those with debts to the Yakuza (Japanese organised crime) have found themselves shoved into hazmat suits and set to work. The subcontracting system has allowed TEPCO to turn a blind eye to such human rights abuses.

Despite triumphant optimism from some champions of nuclear, researchers continue to uncover unexpected and unpredictable consequences of the Fukushima disaster. These include the discovery of tiny, glassy beads containing extremely high concentrations of caesium-137 (a radioactive isotope) among polluted dust and dirt particles. These bacterium-sized particles are easily inhaled and persistently insoluble. How they react with our bodies and the environment is not yet clear, but scientists increasingly believe them to be a health risk. The beads have been found as far from the disaster site as Tokyo.

The dangers faced by those returning to Fukushima prefecture have been a central controversy of recent years. Compelled by economic necessity, most have returned. But as of February 2019, 52,000 remain displaced, either unwilling to return or with homes in still-prohibited zones. In a recent press tour, the government repeatedly blamed “harmful rumours” for creating fear of returning as well as the Japanese public’s unwillingness to consume Fukushima’s fish and agricultural products.

“To me”, explained activist Riken Komatsu, “talking about ‘harmful rumours’ sounds like they are making someone else the bad guy or villain, as if they are blaming people for saying negative things because they don’t understand science and radiation. But those who have lost our trust do not have the right”.

Mistrust is justified. Prime minister Shinzo Abe, keen to move on from the crisis, intends to end evacuations by the time Japan hosts the 2020 Olympics. The international and (prior to the meltdowns) Japanese standard of acceptable exposure to radiation, one millisievert per year, has been scrapped. Across Fukushima prefecture, measurements five times that level are now deemed safe. 

Some places measure as high as 20 millisieverts per year. These radiation levels are especially dangerous for children, who are far more sensitive than adults to even low levels of exposure. It will take decades before the cost of the authorities’ carelessness can be measured in increased cancer rates. The loss of happy, healthy human life of course can never be quantified………

those who “benefit” from the powerful nuclear industry are the same people who crave military dominance. The politicians and officials currently fighting to rebuild Japanese nuclear capability are thinking far more about the military tensions surrounding them than tackling climate change. We don’t need to a build a world full of deadly nuclear power plants to combat climate change. We need clean, renewable energy and a system that prioritises people and the planet over money and military might.

July 16, 2019 Posted by | environment, Fukushima continuing, incidents | Leave a comment

Circular flow of 2011 Fukushima cesium through Pacific, back to Japan

2011 Fukushima nuke disaster cesium takes shortcut back to Japan’s waters

July 9, 2019 Posted by | Fukushima continuing | Leave a comment

Should Fukushima exclusion zone be widened?

FUKUSHIMA investigators were left “worried” after recording radiation levels 100 times normal, leading them to suggest the exclusion zone should be increased.Express UK , By CALLUM HOARE Jul 4, 2019 |   “………… when Chernobyl researcher Yevgen visited as part of Amazon Prime’s “Radioactive Detectives” series, he was left shocked.

The narrator revealed in 2017: “Have the Japanese authorities determined the correct exclusion zone?

“The first big surprise is a completely unguarded borderline.

“Yevgen wants to carry out his first measurements here.

“He has to tell Kenzo that the radiation level exceeds the natural radiation 100 times over.

“The men are worried.”

Kenzo Hashimoto, a Japanese journalist claimed the exclusion zone needed to be increased as a result.

He said: “If the radiation is that high, the authorities should extend the border line even further.

“I don’t know exactly how the survey has been made – it seems very strange to me…….

July 8, 2019 Posted by | Fukushima continuing | 1 Comment

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

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

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

TEPCO to slice dangerous chimney at Fukushima plant, 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

Fukushima nuclear waste mess is by no means solved

THE OLYMPICS CLEAN-UP: FUKUSHIMA, OKINAWA, HOMELESSNESS    陳黃金菊05/05/2019    ENGLISH INTERNATIONAL MAY 2019      NUCLEAR PHYSICIST Hiroaki Koide has pointed out that although eight years have passed, there is still more than one million tons of irradiated water which still hasn’t been treated. The Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO)’s “handling” method for this situation was to build a thousand sewage tanks to store the sewage. But as space was limited and the number of sewage tanks was also limited. As such, Koide asserts, “TEPCO will be compelled to release these waters into the sea in the near future.” [1] Moreover, with regards to the core meltdown of the reactor, the melted fuel rods remain unaccounted for.

Koide points out that if there were issues with a fired power plant, there would not be such issues. But if this is nuclear power, “Anyone approaching the site would die.” Despite that the Japanese government has attempted to handle the matter with robots, once the microchips inside are exposed to radiation, they will be overwritten. Likewise, exposure to high levels of radiation is deadly for workers.

As such, Koide has been staunch in advocating that the only solution to the Fukushima incident is a Chernobyl-style sarcophagus, covering the nuclear power plant. But he also admits, even in this case, “the containment of this disaster will not have been achieved even after all who are alive today have died.” [2]

Abe Shinzo issued an order for an end to an evacuation on April 1st, 2017, at the same time as he issued a compulsory repatriation policy. At this time, the town of Namie, 11.2 kilometers from the Fukushima nuclear power plant, has been described as a “ghost town.” As raised by now deceased mayor Baba Yushi before he died, after the end of the evacuation, 234 people—one percent of the population—returned to Namie to live. The majority of these were elderly, which is to say, the town lacked a working population. Without any means of transportation and open supermarkets. There was just one clinic. [3] 

As a compensatory measure in line with the repatriation measure, TEPCO set a deadline, requesting that disaster victims assess their losses, and inform TEPCO of what kind of compensation they requested. Regarding this, the mayor of Namie stated that TEPCO never should have set this kind of deadline, but should account for the losses of disaster victims themselves.

What is even more incredible is that TEPCO could use “individual circumstances” as a way of avoiding the requests of disaster victims. For example, residents in twenty kilometers of the nuclear power plant were forcibly evacuated but TEPCO interpreted this instead as “voluntary evacuation”, and refused to pay compensation. [4] Even those who lost their real estate might not receive compensation, not to mention harms that could not be compensated for, such as those below the age of eighteen whose thyroids were inspected five years later, among them 172 were positive for or suspected of having thyroid cancer, and 131 had their thyroid glands removed by operation. [5] 

At the same time, damages to the environment cannot be compensated. Who is it that would receive compensation? What kind of compensation would that be? Before the disaster, Fukushima’s agricultural industry and natural environment were comparatively famous. But after the disaster, farmers have been forced to the end of a rope, some of which have chosen death. [6] Completely clearing radiation from the land is also impossible, because in clearing remaining radiation in the forest, this would require cutting down all of the trees, and removing all of the topsoils. [7]

Protests by those who have developed thyroid cancer were criticized by the government, stating that their protests were causing “reputational damage”.[8] The government and TEPCO toss the ball to each other, and what is even stranger is that nobody seems to need to take responsibility. [9]…………..

1] See “The Fukushima Nuclear Disaster and the Tokyo Olympics”.

[2] Ibid.

[3] See “‘Save the Town’: Insolvable Dilemmas of Fukushima’s ‘Return Policy’”.

[4] Ibid.

[5] See “Follow Up on Thyroid Cancer! Patient Group Voices Opposition to Scaling Down the Fukushima Prefectural Health Survey”.

[6] See the Green Citizen Action Alliance’s report “Environmental Front: Subscribing to 311 compensation” (〈環境前線:前仆後繼的311核災求償行動〉).

[7] See “Reconstruction Disaster: The human implications of Japan’s forced return policy in Fukushima”

[8] Ibid.

[9] See Tetsuya Takahashi’s book, Xisheng te tixi: Fudao ‧ Okinawa (2014, lit. The System of Sacrifice: Fukushima‧Okinawa), trans. Lee Yi-zhen.

[10] One can see the report “Decoding the US Military Bases in Japan with 9 Graphs” (九張圖解密日本美軍基地) in the News Lens and “Okinawa Government Sued by Japanese Government for ‘the Most Dangerous Military Bases’” (為了「全世界最危險的軍事基地」,沖繩縣政府被日本政府一狀告上法庭──觀光客看不到的美軍基地問題) in Crossing.

[11] One can see the report in UDN Global, “Okinawan Referendum: Say No to the US Military Again? The People Neglected by the Japanese Government” (沖繩基地公投:再次向美軍說NO?日美政府無視的43萬民意).

[12] See the editorial, “Henoko project clearly doomed; time to open talks with U.S” in Asahi and “US Military Base Threatens Biodiversity in Okinawa” in Truthout

May 6, 2019 Posted by | Fukushima continuing | 3 Comments