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Security fears for Fukushima residents returning to deserted towns

For Fukushima returnees, security a growing concern in deserted towns, Japan Times, FUKUSHIMA MINPO, 18 June 17  “…..  According to town officials, only about 300 residents have come back so far.

Many of the houses in Sato’s neighborhood remain uninhabited. So when he spots a car parked in the dark, it frightens him.

“If safety and security aren’t ensured, there won’t be more people coming back,” Sato said.

Sparked by returnees’ concerns about security, many recovering municipalities have set up neighborhood watch groups, installed security cameras and taken other measures to increase safety…..

The number of police officers brought in from outside Fukushima to help patrol the no-go zone has been reduced to 192, or about 150 fewer than five years ago. The police presence is expected to decline further as decontamination progresses, raising concerns on how to ensure security there in the future.

Many municipalities have been funding security costs with central government subsidies, but it is unclear whether that will continue after fiscal 2020, when the state-designated reconstruction and revitalization period is scheduled to end. The Reconstruction Agency is also slated to be dissolved by then.

A top Reconstruction Agency official would only say it will “consider the issue in the future.”

For its part, the town of Namie is expected to spend about ¥700 million in fiscal 2017 to fund the neighborhood watch teams and surveillance systems. But town officials are worried whether they’ll be able to afford the systems once the subsidies dry up.

Reconstruction minister Masayoshi Yoshino, a Lower House politician representing the Fukushima No. 5 district, said in April that he will consider creating a new government entity to take over the work of the Reconstruction Agency.

“I want the government to tell us that it will continue to fund” such projects, said Namie Deputy Mayor Katsumi Miyaguchi. http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2017/06/18/national/fukushima-returnees-security-growing-concern-deserted-towns/#.WUb79JKGPGg

June 19, 2017 Posted by | Fukushima continuing | Leave a comment

Underwater robot to probe damage at Fukushima Dai-Ichi nuclear plant

Swimming robot to probe damage at Japan nuclear plant, abc news, By MARI YAMAGUCHI, ASSOCIATED PRESS  YOKOSUKA, Japan — Jun 15, 2017, A Japanese industrial group unveiled Thursday a robot designed for underwater probes of damage from meltdowns at the Fukushima Dai-Ichi nuclear plant after the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami.

Remote controlled robots are key to the decades-long decommissioning process for the plant. But super-high radiation and structural damage inside the reactors hampered earlier attempts to inspect areas close to the reactors’ cores.

The developers say they plan to send the new “mini manbo,” or “little sunfish,” probe into the primary containment vessel of Unit 3 at Fukushima in July to study the extent of damage and locate parts of melted fuel thought to have fallen to the bottom of the chamber, submerged by highly radioactive water.

The robot, about the size of a loaf of bread, is equipped with lights, maneuvers with tail propellers and collects data using two cameras and a dosimeter…….

Japan hopes to locate and start removing fuel from the reactors after Tokyo’s 2020 Olympics.

Snake and scorpion-shaped robots tested earlier became stuck inside two reactors. The scorpion robot’s crawling function failed and it was left inside the plant’s Unit 2 containment vessel. The other, designed to clear debris for the “scorpion” probe, was called back after two hours when two of its cameras stopped working after its total radiation exposure reached 1,000 Sievert — a level that would kill a human within seconds. The plan had been to use the robot for 10 hours at an exposure level of 100 Sievert per hour.

The swimming robot was co-developed Toshiba and the International Research Institute for Nuclear Decommissioning, or IRID, a government-funded consortium……

IRID director Hirotsugu Fujiwara said the biggest challenge is to figure out how to remove melted debris. He’s keen to finally see conditions inside Unit 3. “I feel we are finally at the starting line of decommissioning,” he said.

Scientists need to know the melted nuclear fuel’s exact location and understand structural damage in each of the three wrecked reactors to work out the optimum, safest way to remove the fuel……

TEPCO is struggling with the plant’s decommissioning, which is now expected to cost 8 trillion yen ($70 billion), four times an earlier estimate. Part of that cost will be included in Japanese utility bills.

The 2011 meltdown forced tens of thousands of nearby residents to evacuate their homes. Many are still unable to return due to high radiation levels. http://abcnews.go.com/Technology/wireStory/swimming-robot-probe-damage-japan-nuclear-plant-48050128

June 16, 2017 Posted by | Fukushima continuing | Leave a comment

Review of book on Medical and Ecological Consequences of the Fukushima Nuclear Catastrophe

Review: Crisis without End: The Medical and Ecological Consequences of the Fukushima Nuclear Catastrophe, Helen Caldicott et al.http://www.sanfranciscoreviewofbooks.com/2017/05/book-review-crisis-without-end-medical.html 4.0 out of 5 stars Vital Detailed Truth, Lacks Compelling Visualization, July 9, 2015 This review was written by Robert David Steele and has been reposted with permission. The original page can be found here.   This book stems from a conference and is a very nicely presented double-spaced precis of the world-class contributions from the conference.

Highlights:
HELEN CALDICOTT QUOTE (3): The Fukushima disaster is not over and will not end for many millenia. The radioactive fallout, which has covered vast swaths of Japan, will remain toxic for hundreds of thousands of years.”
NAOTO KAN QUOTE (19): Considering the risk of losing half our land and evacuating half our population, my conclusion is that not having nuclear power plants is the safest energy policy.
DAVID LOCHBAUM: Fukushima was result of multiple foreseen but dismissed hazards. The cost of the recommended safety measures would have been a tiny fraction of the final cost of the total disaster that will be adding costs for a century into the future.
HISAKO SAKIYAMA: Virtually all hospitals included in today’s nuclear reaction plans are themselves so close as to be rendered victims themselves in the event of any real nuclear disaster.
STEVEN STARR: 13% of the Japanese mainland has been contaminated with cesium-137 while the Pacific Ocean and its seafood have been widely contaminated.
AKIO MATSUMURA: Fukushima could explode again and double-down on threat to humanity. Meanwhile, US stands silent, Japanese government is covering everything up, and no reporters, scientists, or other governments are demanding any form of transparency.
TIMOTHY MOUSSEAU: Roughly a third of wildlife disappears from radiated areas — but the studies are not being done or if done not published because no government, no university, no foundtion, wants to pay for bad news.
ALEXEY YABLOKOV: WHO, IAEA, ICRC have falsified just about everything about Fukushima specifically and nuclear risks generally.
ARNOLD GUNDERSEN: Fukushima was made in USA, with GE knowingly repressing risk information, cutting corners, and failing to provide all of the safety features known to be needed (including provision for a 46 foot tsunami correctly forecast).
ROBERT ALVAREZ: Because US has dithered on a “permanent” nuclear waste solution, the “temporary” pools are now holding five times their planned capacity. A standard US nuclear storage pool fire would be sixty times worse than Chernobyl.
KEVIN CAMPS: CIA helped fund the post-war politicians in Japan, and part of CIA’s mandate was to ensure they all bought into nuclear power.
CINDY FOLKERS: US manipulating radiation standards in post-Fukishima era to allow twelve times more radiation poisoning of children than now allowed in Japan, and to explicitly cover-up the radiation in agricultural and seafood products that would otherwise sharply constrain those markets.
DAVID FREEMAN: Risks aside, nuclear power is unaffordable. QUOTE (217): Even with the latest improvements, the cost overrun is abvout one or two billion dollars.” Nuclear power is now an “existential threat” but the public is completely ignorant of the fact that they have 30 years of nuclear waste piled up in their backyard waiting to be set on fire.
HELEN CALDICOTT: Absent public education, we appear bent on self-destruction.
The book could have been improved with a bibliography and some visualization, but I certainly found it very informative and troubling. In combination, public ignorance, government and corporation corruption, and complacency among academics, media, and think tanks, have allowed the creation of an aging nuclear industry certain to explode in our face again.

May 29, 2017 Posted by | Fukushima continuing, resources - print | Leave a comment

Families do not want to return to polluted Fukushima areas

the cleanup extends to only 20 meters around each house, and three-quarters of the village is forested mountains. In windy weather, radioactive elements are blown back onto the fields and homes.

The government is forcing people to go back, some argued, employing a form of economic blackmail, or worse, kimin seisaku — abandoning them to their fate.

The evacuation orders for most of the village of Iitate have been lifted. But where are the people?, Japan Times, BY DAVID MCNEILL AND CHIE MATSUMOTO, 14 May 17 

 “…….A cluster of 20 small hamlets spread over 230 square kilometers, Iitate was undone by a quirk of the weather in the days that followed the nuclear accident in March 2011. Wind carried radioactive particles from the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant, which is located about 45 kilometers away, that fell in rain and snow on the night of March 15, 2011. After more than a month of indecision, during which the villagers lived with some of the highest radiation recorded in the disaster (the reading outside the village office on the evening of March 15 was a startling 44.7 microsieverts per hour), the government ordered them to leave.

Now, the government says it is safe to go back. With great fanfare, all but the still heavily contaminated south of Iitate, Nagadoro, was reopened on March 31.

The reopening fulfills a pledge made by Mayor Norio Kanno: Iitate was the first local authority in Fukushima Prefecture to set a date for ending evacuation in 2012, when the mayor promised to reboot the village in five years. The village has a new sports ground, convenience store and udon restaurant. A clinic sees patients twice a week. All that’s missing is people.

Waiting to meet Kanno in the government offices of Iitate, the eye falls on a book displayed in the reception: “The Most Beautiful Villages in Japan.” Listed at No. 12 is the beloved rolling patchwork of forests, hills and fields the mayor has governed for more than two decades — population 6,300, famous for its neat terraces of rice and vegetables, its industrious organic farmers, its wild mushrooms and the black wagyu cow that has taken the name of the area.

The description in the book is mocked by reality outside. The fields are mostly bald, shorn of vegetation in a Promethean attempt to decontaminate it of the radiation that fell six years ago. There is not a cow or a farmer in sight. Tractors sit idle in the fields. The local schools are empty. As for the population, the only part of the village that looks busy is the home for the elderly across the road from Kanno’s office…….

There has been no official talk of abandoning it. Indeed, any suggestion otherwise could be controversial: When industry minister Yoshio Hachiro called the abandoned communities “towns of death” in September 2011, the subsequent outrage forced him to quit a week later.

Instead, the area was divided into three zones with awkward euphemisms to suggest just the opposite: Communities with annual radiation measuring 20 millisieverts or less (the typical worldwide limit for workers in nuclear plants) are “being prepared for lifting of evacuation order,” districts of 20-50 millisieverts per year are “no-residence zones” and the most heavily contaminated areas of 50 millisieverts or more per year, such as Nagadoro, are “difficult-to-return.”…..

the cleanup extends to only 20 meters around each house, and three-quarters of the village is forested mountains. In windy weather, radioactive elements are blown back onto the fields and homes.

“All that money, and for what?” asks Nobuyoshi Itoh, a farmer and critic of the mayor. “Would you bring children here and let them roam in the fields and forests?”…..

Though nobody knows the true figure, the local talk is that perhaps half of the villagers have permanently left. Surveys suggest fewer than 30 percent want to return, and even less in the case of Nagadoro.

Yoshitomo Shigihara, head of the Nagadoro hamlet, says many families made their decision some time ago. His grandchildren, he says, should not have to live in such a place.

“It’s our job to protect them,” Shigihara says. …….

The government is forcing people to go back, some argued, employing a form of economic blackmail, or worse, kimin seisaku — abandoning them to their fate.

Itoh is angry at the resettlement. For him, politics drives the haste to put the disaster behind.

“It’s inhuman to make people go back to this,” he says. Like the physical damage of radiation, he says, the psychological damage is also invisible: “A lot of people are suffering in silence.”

Itoh believes the government wants to show that the problems of nuclear power can be overcome so it can switch the nation’s idling nuclear reactors back on. Just four are in operation while the fate of 42 others remains in political and legal limbo. Public opinion remains opposed to their restart.

Many people began with high hopes in Iitate but have gradually grown distrustful of the village government, says Kenichi Hasegawa, a farmer who wrote a book titled “Genpatsu ni Furusato o Ubawarete” (“Fukushima’s Stolen Lives”) in 2012. Right from the start, he says, the mayor desperately tried to hide the shocking radiation outside his office……. http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2017/05/13/national/social-issues/fukushima-land-return/#.WRkB8UWGPGh

May 15, 2017 Posted by | Fukushima continuing | Leave a comment

World Health Organization’s Flawed Fukushima Report

Hidden Radiation Secrets of the World Health Organization, CounterPunch  MAY 2, 2017

Alex Rosen of Int’l Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War critiqued the two WHO Fukushima reports, found to be extremely problematic, and once again, similar to Chernobyl, shoddy work that sweeps way too much dirt under the carpet.

Here’s the problem: WHO’s estimates of Fukushima radioactive exposure are at least 50% less than any other estimates, including estimates provided by TEPCO (Tokyo Electric Power Company, the plant operator) itself. But, WHO is supposed to be the guardian of public health concerns, not TEPCO.

Also, two critical population studies are ignored in the WHO reports, i.e., all of the residents within the 20 km exclusion zone are eliminated, even though their radiation exposure would be very high, actually highest. The second group ignored is workers on site… ahem!

Additionally, WHO cavalierly approved the Japanese government’s drastic change in annual maximum radiation exposure allowed for the general population up to 20 mSv per year.http://www.counterpunch.org/2017/05/02/hidden-radiation-secrets-of-the-world-health-organization/

May 3, 2017 Posted by | Fukushima continuing, secrets,lies and civil liberties | Leave a comment

Wildfires near Fukushima crippled nuclear power plant

Fukushima authorities ask troops to help deal with forest fires near crippled nuclear power plant https://www.rt.com/news/386662-fukushima-forest-fires-soldiers/#.WQaIanZz1L8.facebook

Fukushima prefecture has asked the Japanese Self-Defense Forces for help in handling forest fires that have swept areas near the crippled Fukushima power plant, local media report. Strong winds are hindering the firefighting efforts, however.

The forest fires broke out near the town of Namie, some seven kilometers from the disabled Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant, on Saturday evening, Japanese NHK broadcaster reported.

Namie was evacuated following the 2011 tsunami and subsequent nuclear disaster in Fukushima.

The prefecture has deployed several helicopters to extinguish the fires, which are believed to have been caused by lightning. According to police, at least 10 hectares of forest have burned in the area.

There have been no reports of injuries or damage to buildings so far, Japanese media say.

With strong winds stoking the flames, the Fukushima Prefecture has requested help from the Self-Defense Forces, Japan’s de-facto army, on Sunday.

Earlier in April, residents of Namie, as well as those from the village of Iitate and the town of Kawamata’s Yamakiya neighborhood, totaling 22,100 people in all, were told they could return home – with the exception of those with houses in so-called no-go zones, where radiation levels are still too high, according to Japanese media.

So far, the homecoming has not been as successful as the government had hoped, as few residents have been eager to go back.

Results of a Fukushima Prefectural Government survey released on April 24 show that some 78.2 percent of the evacuated households have no intention of returning to their previous residences and plan to remain in the area they evacuated to.

May 1, 2017 Posted by | Fukushima continuing | Leave a comment

Japan sending people back to radioactively contaminated area in Fukushima

A girl holds her petition to ask the education ministry to protect children from radioactive contamination at Fukushima prefecture during a rally at the Education Ministry in Tokyo on May 23, 2011. Some 400 civic group members, including 60 parents and children from Fukushima, demanded to review the radiation limit of 3.8 microsieverts per an hour as the education ministry has set a radiation limit to allow children in Fukushima. AFP PHOTO / Yoshikazu TSUNO

Incredible contamination in Namie, Fukushima where people are being forced to live! European News Weekly,  April 22, 2017Mirrored, Source for article https://fukushima311voices.wordpress.com/2017/04/22/incredible-contamination-in-namie-fukushima/

The evacuation orders of the most populated areas of Namie, Fukushima were lifted on March 31st this year.

“Fukuichi area environmental radiation monitoring project” has published airborne radiation measurements map and soil surface density map. The results are simply incredible. This is far much worse than in Radiation Control Zone. Any area becomes designated as such when the total effective dose due to external radiation and that due to radioactive substances in the air is likely to exceed 1.3mSv per quarter – over a period of three months, or when the surface density is over 40,000Bq/m2. In the Radiation Control Zone, it is prohibited to drink, eat or stay overnight. Even adults are not allowed to stay more than 10 hours. To leave the zone, one has to go through a strict screening.

Namie’s radio contamination is far over these figures! And people are told to go back to these areas……..https://europeannewsweekly.wordpress.com/2017/04/22/incredible-contamination-in-namie-fukushima-where-people-are-being-forced-to-live/

April 24, 2017 Posted by | Fukushima continuing | Leave a comment

Six years after Fukushima – women and children still suffer most

The Japanese government is trying to get back to normality after the Fukushima nuclear disaster, but the crisis is far from over for women and children, says Greenpeace. Thousands of mothers have sued the authorities.

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Six years ago, the triple disaster – earthquake, tsunami and meltdown at the Fukushima Daiichi power plant – took the lives of almost 20,000 people and displaced more than 160,000 people from their homes. More than 80,000 people are still living in temporary accommodation.

The disaster had an enormous impact on all members of the affected communities, but to this day it is women and children who “have borne the brunt of human rights violations resulting from it,” according to a report by Greenpeace.

While some injustices faced by women and children were caused by policy failures in the immediate aftermath of the disaster, other women’s and children’s rights violations are a direct result of the current government’s plans to resettle residents to “heavily contaminated ares in Fukushima,” says Greenpeace.

In an effort to get back to normality as quickly as possible, the Japanese government is set to lift evacuation orders at the end of March and allow evacuated residents to return to areas close to the Fukushima power plant.

37864007_401Employees clean an elementary school in Fukushima. It’s scheduled to re-open in April.

 

Greenpeace warned, however, that radiation levels are still dangerously high and called on the government not to “pressure” residents to return to their contaminated homes, under threat of losing financial support. A year after an area is declared safe, the government will stop paying compensation to evacuees. 

In March, Japan will also cut housing support for people who decided to move out although they were not under a government evacuation order.

“Cutting off housing support for self-evacuees threatens more than 10,000 households, potentially forcing many people back to contaminated areas against their will,” says Kendra Ulrich, Global Energy Campaigner with Greenpeace Japan. Ending compensation payments “even though radiation levels far exceed the long-term targets in many areas […] amounts to economic coercion and is a deliberate violation of the law and survivors’ human rights.”

“Atomic divorce” 

The resettlement plans create a dilemma for those who refuse to go back to their former homes but are dependent on financial support, especially single mums. After the disaster, a lot of women separated from or even divorced their husbands, who chose to stay in contaminated regions because of their work, and evacuated with their children.

There are no official numbers on how many families split as a result of the disaster. But the phenomenon is common enough to have a name, “genpatsu rikon” – literally meaning “atomic divorce”.

37871613_401These mothers evacuated with their children from Fukushima prefecture.

 

Mothers are now faced with the choice between losing housing support or moving back to unsafe areas. In order to speed up the return of evacuees, the government decontaminated corridors and islands instead of entire areas, effectivley creating “an invisible, open-air prison for citizens to return to,” says Greenpeace. 

Decontaminated zones often consist of 20 meter strips along roads, around houses and agricultural fields. This poses a health threat as the returnees would be surrounded by contamination.

Mothers are worried about their health and the development of their children. Noriko Kubota, a professor of clinical psychology at Iwaki Meisei University, believes that living in “safe zones” could have a long-lasting negative impact on kids.

“If children need to stay inside and cannot run around outside freely, that would impact their psychological development, more specifically their skills of interacting with each other and controlling their emotions among others,” Kubota told DW.

Mothers sue government

Women are, however, not only silent victims in this disaster. Thousands of mothers have together filed lawsuits against the Japanese government to fight for the continuation of housing support and fair compensation. They also demand accountability for the disaster from the government and Tokyo Electric Power Co. (TEPCO), the company running the Fukushima Daiichi plant.

37868371_401Ms Horie is sueing the government for fair compensation.

 

“I never imagined becoming a plaintiff myself. I’m going to court now for my children and for the next generation,” Ms Horie told Greenpeace. She moved with her children from Fukushima to Kyoto, where she filed a class action suit together with other mums. “Back then, they said on TV that the accident wouldn’t affect our health immediately, but it might affect my kids in the future. That’s why I decided to evacuate.”

Women who left contaminated areas have been “labeled as neurotic or irrational,” says Greenpeace. Their concerns were dismissed both by their partners and the government. The lawsuit is not only about financial compensation but also for moral satisfaction.

“I want to stand in court, knowing that I am right to evacuate my child,” says Ms Sonoda, who moved with her child from Fukushima to England. “We are right.”

http://www.dw.com/en/six-years-after-fukushima-women-and-children-still-suffer-most/a-37871135

April 15, 2017 Posted by | Fukushima continuing | , , | 2 Comments

Yakuza hide IDs to secretly thrive in Tohoku’s disaster zones

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A gang leader says he effectively controls several companies involved in rebuilding projects in the Tohoku region.

A company has been busy dispatching temporary workers for the Herculean task of rebuilding lives in the disaster-hit Tohoku region. But the company’s most important job for survival is to conceal any evidence of its true, sinister nature.

This is a company I established,” said the leader of a gang affiliated with an organized crime syndicate based in western Japan. “I made sure that no signs of any possible association with yakuza organizations were left.”

Although the National Police Agency has tried to prevent gangsters from cashing in on the triple disaster that struck in March 2011, yakuza groups appear to be thriving in the Tohoku region and extending their reach.

Their companies not only dispatch workers and lease heavy machinery, but they are also involved in more traditional services, such as providing prostitutes and dealing drugs, with workers at the stricken Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant and other sites as potential targets.

Police say there is little they can do to shut down the yakuza activities.

The gang leader’s company, which was set up in a city in the Kanto region last December with a start-up cost of 5 million yen ($45,000), appears innocent on the surface.

The president named on company’s registry has no ties with organized crime, and the true leader and members of his family and group are not listed as directors.

The gang leader said he also has effective control over other companies that send workers to contractors involved in an array of projects, including decontaminating areas or dismantling abandoned houses.

I make millions of yen a month, including about 100,000 yen per contractor and siphoning from workers’ daily allowances,” the gang leader proudly said.

Twenty days after the Great East Japan Earthquake and tsunami struck on March 11, 2011, triggering the nuclear disaster, the NPA directed all prefectural police departments to keep gangsters away from the reconstruction projects.

Similar requests were made to the construction industry, Tokyo Electric Power Co., operator of the nuclear plant, government ministries and agencies and local authorities.

But a number of yakuza organizations are now behind the companies involved in the rebuilding projects.

In some cases, they gain control of legitimate but cash-strapped companies by providing funds.

One crime syndicate reportedly advises umbrella groups on “how to set up a company by keeping others from becoming suspicious.”

Police officials dealing with crime syndicates acknowledge that it is “practically impossible” to thoroughly check for possible ties between subcontractors and gangster organizations.

In some cases, a single project is outsourced to more than 10 subcontractors.

All we can do is check whether individuals connected to underground groups are listed in the registration papers,” a police official said.

Police say they can confirm a yakuza connection only after they scrutinize the company directors’ circle of friends and acquaintances and other relevant data.

Although anti-yakuza ordinances are believed to be depleting the finances of mobsters around Japan, the crime syndicates are systematically running operations in the Tohoku region as if it’s business as usual.

One leader of an underground group said he was ordered by its parent organization “not to lag behind others” in exploiting potentially lucrative projects.

After the 1995 Great Hanshin Earthquake, the parent organization began asking all groups under its umbrella to give “regular reports” about rental agents of heavy machinery, dump trucks and other equipment indispensable in rebuilding projects on their turfs.

The move was apparently designed to prepare for the day when they needed to quickly obtain as much machinery as possible.

That day arrived on March 11, 2011.

There is a huge demand for such equipment in a disaster,” a former senior member of a gang group said. “We can lease it at our asking price.”

Crime organizations have also seen a potentially lucrative market in the predominantly male work force at the Fukushima nuclear plant and other reconstruction projects in the Tohoku region.

I came to Fukushima to have fun as an adult,” said an entry, presumably by a female, on a dating site for men. “I am looking for somebody I can meet in Nihonmatsu,” said another, referring to a city in Fukushima Prefecture.

The website, set up by the head of a gangster organization in the Kanto region, targets workers at the stricken nuclear plant and elsewhere.

The gang leader said he takes women who have experience in the sex industry to disaster-stricken areas in his car and stays there for several days.

He sends the women to love hotels or the clients’ vehicles, depending on the customers’ requests. One encounter costs about 30,000 yen, he said, adding that 60 percent goes to the woman while he pockets the remainder.

I am in fierce competition with other underground groups in this line of business,” he said. “But I can earn at least 3 million yen a month.”

Drug deals are also said to be at play in the disaster zone.

I have seen and heard about the use and deals in stimulant drugs at the plant,” recalled the leader of a gang group based in eastern Japan who works at the Fukushima nuclear complex.

He was assigned to the plant just after a hydrogen explosion took place there.

TEPCO and Fukushima prefectural police said they are not aware of any drug use at the plant.

However, a plant worker in his 30s died at a hospital in August 2015 after he complained of sickness on a bus taking him from the nuclear plant.

He turned out to be a gang member, according to police. His urine sample showed possible signs of stimulant drug use, but his cause of death was not determined.

Between 2011 and 2016, police have busted underground groups involved in rebuilding projects in 101 cases.

Fraud accounted for 54 cases. They were primarily gangsters pretending to collect donations for disaster victims or mobsters involved in illicit borrowing.

Twenty-five cases concerned dispatches of workers to assignments that they were not allowed to perform.

In one case, a senior member of a group affiliated with the Sumiyoshi-kai, one of the largest crime syndicates in the nation, was arrested in May 2012 on suspicion of illegally sending workers to the Fukushima plant. Police uncovered that the mobster received about 40 million yen between 2009 and 2011 by sending workers to nuclear plants and thermal power plants across the country.

http://www.asahi.com/ajw/articles/AJ201703230055.html

March 23, 2017 Posted by | Fukushima 2017, Fukushima continuing | , , | Leave a comment

Visualizing nuclear radiation: Team images gamma rays to help decontaminate Fukushima

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A Kyoto University team has developed a new camera to visualize radioactive hotspots

Extraordinary decontamination efforts are underway in areas affected by the 2011 nuclear accidents in Japan. The creation of total radioactivity maps is essential for thorough cleanup, but the most common methods, according to Kyoto University’s Toru Tanimori, do not ‘see’ enough ground-level radiation.

“The best methods we have currently are labor intensive, and to measure surface radiation accurately,” he says, “complex analysis is needed.”

In their latest work published in Scientific Reports, Tanimori and his group explain how gamma-ray imaging spectroscopy is more versatile and robust, resulting in a clearer image.

“We constructed an Electron Tracking Compton Camera (ETCC) to detect nuclear gamma rays quantitatively. Typically this is used to study radiation from space, but we have shown that it can also measure contamination, such as at Fukushima.”

The imaging revealed what Tanimori calls “micro hot spots” around the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant, even in regions that had already been considered decontaminated. In fact, the cleaning in some regions appeared to be far less than what could be measured by other means.

Current methods for measuring gamma rays do not reliably pinpoint the source of the radiation. According to Tanimori, “radiation sources including distant galaxies can disrupt the measurements.”

The key to creating a clear image is taking a color image including the direction and energy of all gamma rays emitted in the vicinity.

“Quantitative imaging produces a surface radioactivity distribution that can be converted to show dosage on the ground,” says Tanimori. “The ETCC makes true images of the gamma rays based on proper geometrical optics.”

This distribution can then be used to relatively easily measure ground dosage levels, showing that most gamma rays scatter and spread in the air, putting decontamination efforts at risk.

“Our ETCC will make it easier to respond to nuclear emergencies,” continues Tanimori. “Using it, we can detect where and how radiation is being released. This will not only help decontamination, but also the eventual dismantling of nuclear reactors.”

https://phys.org/news/2017-03-visualizing-nuclear-team-images-gamma.html#jCp

March 23, 2017 Posted by | Fukushima 2017, Fukushima continuing | , , , , | Leave a comment

Fukushima fishermen fight release of tainted water as tritium standoff continues

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On Feb. 25, against a clear sky, fishing boats bearing colorful banners used to signal a rich haul returned to their home port of Ukedo in the town of Namie, Fukushima Prefecture. Cheers erupted as the boats, which had taken refuge in Minamisoma in the wake of the 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake and the nuclear crisis, made their way home for the first time in six years.

The Soma-Futaba fishing cooperative will soon resume fishing for konago (young lancefish), after the heads of fishing co-ops in the prefecture approved the start of experimental fishing operations 10 to 20 km from the meltdown-hit Fukushima No. 1 power plant, run by Tokyo Electric Power Co. Holdings Inc.

Despite the steady recovery moves, however, local fishermen are not optimistic because their industry still faces “concern” that radioactive fish could tarnish their reputation.

Fukushima No. 1 currently has 950,000 tons of radioactive water in storage that has been desalinated and filtered to remove some of the radioactive elements, but the volume is increasing at a pace of 150,000 tons a year.

Of the 950,000 tons, 750,000 were further treated with the Advanced Liquid Processing System, to remove most of the remaining isotopes. But even ALPS cannot remove tritium, and this has the fishing industry concerned that water tainted with tritium could ultimately be released into the ocean.

The debate over what to do about the tainted water has turned into a standoff. The central government set up a committee in September to discuss disposal and studied five options, including ocean release, underground burial and air release. But the committee could not agree on any of them because all had the potential to damage the reputation of Fukushima’s seafood.

Hiroshige Seko, head of the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry has jurisdiction over the issue but appears reluctant to bring the debate to a rapid conclusion.

We have not decided on the schedule, including when to conclude (the debate),” he said in a recent interview with the Fukushima Minpo.

Tritium is a common byproduct of normal nuclear power plant operations. Its release into the ocean is permitted worldwide as long as the concentration doesn’t exceed certain levels. In Japan, the legal threshold for tritium release is 60,000 becquerels per 1 liter.

Shunichi Tanaka, chairman of the Nuclear Regulation Authority, has said “there is no solution than ocean release” for the tritium generated at Fukushima No. 1, noting that if the concentration is within legal limits, the government should go ahead with the release. Officials at related international institutions have expressed similar views.

But the prefectural association of fishing cooperatives remains opposed, worried that an ocean release could further damage the image of Fukushima’s fish and seafood.

A fisherman from Onahama in the city of Iwaki said, “The move could lead to a loss of trust in the prefecture’s seafood, which the fishermen have worked hard to build.”

On the other hand, if the disposal debate goes unresolved, the amount of tainted water at Fukushima No. 1 will continue to rise and delay the decommissioning of the plant.

Tepco has said it “will decide (on the fate of the water) in a responsible manner by watching the government debate and weighing the opinions of local residents.”

The fishery industry is watching how the central government balances the two jobs of revitalizing the industry and handling tritium-tainted water — and how it can thoroughly explain the decision in ways people both in Japan and abroad can understand, without leaving it entirely up to Tepco.

http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2017/03/19/national/fukushima-fishermen-fight-release-tainted-water-tritium-standoff-continues/#.WM7nfKKmnIU

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March 21, 2017 Posted by | Fukushima 2017, Fukushima continuing | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Japanese companies exploit refugees for Fukushima radioactive clean-up work

Spotlight: Fury sparked in Japan as companies found duping foreign refugees into decontamination work in Fukushima 2017-03-17 TOKYO, March 17 (Xinhua)— “Such scams are a shame to Japan,” said a reporter from Tokyo Metropolitan Television Broadcasting Corp., referring to a recently-exposed scandal involving labor dispatch agencies duping foreign refugees into doing decontamination work in Fukushima.Various local media have exposed recently that some Japanese companies have swindled foreign refugees into doing decontamination work in Fukushima with empty promises that such work might help extend their visas to stay in Japan.

Fifty-year-old Hosein Moni and 42-year-old Hosein Deroaru from Bangladesh were both caught in such a scam, according to a recent report by the Chunichi Shimbun, one of the largest newspapers in Japan.

The two came to Japan in 2013 seeking to be recognized as political refugees. In Japan, foreigners are given temporary permission to stay for up to six months at one application before they are recognized as refugees and given status as residents.

According to government data, the number of refugees actually afforded recognition as refugees in Japan is disproportionately low among developed nations, while the numbers of those applying for refugee status has been rapidly increasing in recent years in Japan.

The government received some 5,000 such applications in 2014, but only 11 were granted refugee status, according to the data.

Moni and Deroaru were told by a so-called labor dispatch agency in Nagoya that they could do decontamination work in exchange for an extension of their visa.

The two, knowing little Japanese and trying to seize every opportunity they could, accepted the job and worked in Fukushima for three months in 2015.

But when they finished their work and went to the local immigration bureau to extend their stay, they were told by officers there that they knew nothing about such a policy.

They later found out that the construction company that had hired them had changed its company name, and its Fukushima branch had closed.

Half of the 20 workers that they had worked with in Fukushima were foreigners, many of whom had been applying for refugee status in Japan, the pair later recalled. Their work mainly involved clearing away contaminated soil with spades, and while they were at work might well have been affected by high levels of radiation. “The radiation detectors we brought with us kept sounding alarms, which was rather scary,” they were quoted as saying.

The incident, after been exposed by local media, also caused a splash on social network sites. Many Japanese netizens felt indignant that such scams were happening in their homeland…….

Most of the foreign workers could hardly speak Japanese. As anti-radiation brochures provided by the plant’s operator, Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings Inc. (TEPCO), were only available in Japanese or English, many of the workers could not understand it, Ishikawa was quoted as saying.

The foreign workers, to some extent, saved the contractors and TEPCO by pushing forward the decommissioning work of the nuclear plant, remarked the report…..http://news.xinhuanet.com/english/2017-03/17/c_136137295.htm

March 20, 2017 Posted by | civil liberties, employment, Fukushima continuing, Japan | 1 Comment

The world’s largest bleeding sore – Fukushima Daiichi

Fukushima Daiichi is still the world’s largest bleeding sore http://rabble.ca/blogs/bloggers/2017-03-17t000000/fukushima-daiichi-still-worlds-largest-bleeding-sorePenney Kome March 17, 2017 Six years after the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami ruined four nuclear reactors at Fukushima Daiichi, urgently needed clean up is still stalled.

March 18, 2017 Posted by | Fukushima continuing | 1 Comment

Olympics being hyped to portray Fukushima nuclear disaster as ‘now OK”

Fukushima to host Tokyo Olympics events to help recovery from nuclear disaster

Some baseball and softball events will be held about 70km from nuclear power plant that suffered triple meltdown in 2011, Guardian,  , 17 Mar 17, Fukushima has been chosen to host baseball and softball matches at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, organisers said on Friday, a move they hope will boost the region’s recovery from the March 2011 nuclear disaster.

Azuma baseball stadium, about 70km north-west of the ruined Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, will host at least one baseball game – possibly the opening match – and one or more softball fixtures, according to Yoshiro Mori, the 2020 organising committee president.

“By hosting Olympic baseball and softball events, Fukushima will have a great platform to show the world the extent of its recovery in the 10 years since the disaster,” Mori said in a statement……

Mori said the “fantastic idea” to hold baseball and softball matches in the affected area had originated in a meeting between the president of the International Olympic Committee (IOC), Thomas Bach, and Japan’s prime minister, Shinzo Abe, in October last year.

 Two months later, however, the IOC initially declined to add Azuma to the main baseball venue in Yokohama.

Riccardo Fraccari, the president of the World Baseball Softball Confederation, welcomed the IOC’s change of heart, describing it as a “great step” that would to “inspire hope and highlight the regeneration in Fukushima”…..

The Fukushima prefectural government has offered to cover the costs of the refurbishment and renovation work needed to bring the 30,000-seat stadium up to Olympic standards, according to organisers……

No evacuation order has ever been in place in the part of Fukushima prefecture where the baseball stadium is located. The Azuma sports park complex served as an evacuation centre for people fleeing radiation caused by the triple meltdown triggered by a magnitude-9 earthquake and tsunami on 11 March 2011.

Nuclear power officials in Japan insist the 40-year effort to decommission Fukushima Daiichi, including the storage of nuclear waste, will not affect people visiting the region to attend Olympics events………https://www.theguardian.com/world/2017/mar/17/fukushima-to-host-tokyo-olympics-events-to-help-recovery-from-nuclear-disaster

March 17, 2017 Posted by | Fukushima continuing, Japan | Leave a comment

1 reactor at Fukushima No. 2 plant, others – not certain

TEPCO to decommission 1 reactor at Fukushima No. 2 plant, mulling fate of 3 others http://mainichi.jp/english/articles/20170317/p2a/00m/0na/024000c

March 17, 2017 Posted by | decommission reactor, Fukushima continuing, Japan | Leave a comment