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Plutonium particles from Fukushima a bigger problem than previously thought

Plutonium Particles Scattered 200km From Fukushima Nuclear Disaster Site, Scientists Say   https://theswaddle.com/plutonium-particles-scattered-200km-from-fukushima-nuclear-disaster-site-scientists-say/, By Aditi Murti, Jul 22, 2020  Plutonium fragments may have spread more than 200km via caesium microparticle compounds released during the 2011 Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant disaster in Japan. These findings are according to research done on the region’s soil samples, published in Science of The Total Environment, by an international group of scientists.
The Fukushima Nuclear disaster occurred when a massive tsunami crashed over the plant’s walls, causing three operating nuclear reactors to overheat and melt down. Simultaneously, reactions within the plant generated hydrogen gas that exploded as soon as it escaped from containment. During the disaster, caesium — a volatile fission product created in nuclear fuel — combined with other reactor materials to create caesium-rich microparticles (CsMPs) that were ejected from the plant.
CsMPs are incredibly radioactive, and scientists study them in an attempt to both measure their environmental impact and to gain insight into the nature and extent of the Fukushima disaster. In one such research process, scientists discovered tiny uranium and plutonium fragments within these micro-particles. The range of plutonium particle spread was previously estimated at 50km, and this research changes that number to 230km. This discovery is vital as it provides a reason to extend testing for plutonium poisoning in human-inhabited regions further than before, and helps scientists understand how to decommission the nuclear reactors in the plant.   Decommissioning nuclear plants is extremely important after they cease to function, in order to reduce residual radioactivity in the region to safe levels.
With respect to immediate implications for health, scientists note that radioactivity levels of the plutonium are similar to global counts from nuclear weapons tests. While this means that radioactivity levels may not pose an urgent, critical danger, scientists also note that plutonium poisoning in food items remains a threat. If plutonium were ingested — a possibility in this region — it could create isotopes that significantly increase radioactivity doses, and poison the body
Due to high radioactivity levels, humans are still unable to enter the Fukushima plant nine years after the disaster. Yet, scientists continue to work towards safely decommissioning the reactors within the plant from the outskirts.

July 23, 2020 Posted by | Fukushima continuing, radiation | Leave a comment

The Fukushima Diiachi Accident Chain, Part 6

The Fukushima Diiachi Accident Chain, Part 6, Nuclear Exhaust, 22 July 20

A Discussion of Official Reports Describing the Fukushma Diiachi  Nuclear Disaster

 The references used for this discussion are:

The Official report of the Fukushima Nuclear Accident Independent Investigation Commission Executive Summary”, The National Diet of Japan, 2012.

“FUKUSHIMA DAIICHI: ANS Committee Report”, A Report by The American Nuclear Society Special Committee on Fukushima, March 2012.

“The Fukushima Daiichi Accident, Technical Volume 1/5 Description and Context of the Accident, IAEA, Vienna, 2015.

 FACT AND CAUSE OF FUKUSHIMA NUCLEAR POWER PLANTS ACCIDENT”, Hideki NARIAI, Proceedings of the International Symposium on Engineering Lessons Learned from the 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake, March 1-4, 2012, Tokyo, Japan.

Other sources, such as press reports, industry and authority regulations and technical bulletins will also be used.

The very great complexity of the disaster and of the human and systems responses to the challenges which confronted, and confront, the Fukushima Diiachi nuclear plant and the people operating and tending to the plant is obvious. The aim of this discussion is to attempt to produce, in review, a coherent picture of the events as reported by the authorities given above.

While the nuclear industry and permanent nuclear authorities – the IAEA – tend to agree closely in their reports of the events, the Fukushima Nuclear Accident Independent Investigation Commission, appointed by the Japanese national Parliament (Diet) reports various aspects of the disaster with pointedly local questioning of events based upon witness accounts and the Committee’s own findings. And these perceptions, based on local knowledge of both the plant and witness statements actually challenge, in aspects, the findings of the other authorities.

As a preamble to the discussion of the disaster, a central consideration to all nuclear power plants in use today has to be included.   The long term, intermediate term and short term safety of nuclear power plants depends upon the availability of electrical grid connection and power to the reactors and the entire plant. This is not an opinion, it is a technical fact which nuclear authorities have repeatedly reported upon.

The surprising fact is, that although nuclear reactors can supply electrical power to the world’s largest cities and nations, when the grid goes down, there is no ability for any nuclear reactor to power itself and its systems on any long term basis. There is nothing integral to the reactors which allows the energy resident in the reactors’ cores and pressure vessels to be controlled and managed so as to manage the cooling of the reactors.

While the nuclear industry and nuclear authorities have touted the virtues of nuclear power plant emergency cooling systems for over 50 years.   However:

 “The emergency cooling systems started. However, they did not work for so long time, and the fuels became to heat up and melt down, resulting the severe accident. “ Source: English translation of “FACT AND CAUSE OF FUKUSHIMA NUCLEAR POWER PLANTS ACCIDENT , Hideki NARIAI, Proceedings of the International Symposium on Engineering Lessons Learned from the 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake, March 1-4, 2012, Tokyo, Japan.

As we shall see later, the workers at the Fukushima Diiachi site during the early stages kept the emergency cooling systems going for many hours longer than the systems were designed to last. And these systems are designed to work for 8 hours only. (See the ANS report)..………. 

It is beyond me why the nuclear industry, for more then 50 years, has been so wilfully dumb, ignorant and arrogant in the design of its emergency systems. And everything else.  It seems to me the main aim of the industry is to sell reactors by any means.  Whereas the industry should have the main aim of assuring safety in the context of the modern world and the modern world energy market.   The problem is, though solar panels mounted on the Fukushima Shima Diiachi reactor building roofs could have save the day by keeping cooling pumps going, the obvious thought is this: why not just replace the Fukushima Diiachi with a solar and wind farm?  

No danger of meltdown at all.  As soon the 2009 scientific assessment came in demonstrating that an earthquake and tsunami was due “within the next 30 years”. that is precisely what should have been down.  Perhaps Barry Brook and Pam Sykes, two academic non nuclear experts in Australia, were right. No human skill could have saved Fukushima Diiachi. So why leave it there? Pity the authorities in the nuclear industry hid and suppressed the scientific warnings of 2009, including TEPCOs own confirmation of the growing threat.  This is standard procedure for the nuclear industry. It is not a particularly Japanese culture.  It is nuclear norm.

The IAEA requirements for electricity grids which supply Nuclear Power Plants.

The following text is a straight quote from : ” “ELECTRIC GRID RELIABILITY AND INTERFACE WITH NUCLEAR POWER PLANTS” IAEA NUCLEAR ENERGY SERIES No. NG-T-3.8, IAEA, ….

Quote: ““The safe and economic operation of a nuclear power plant (NPP) requires the plant to be connected to an electrical grid system that has adequate capacity for exporting the power from the NPP, and for providing a reliable electrical supply to the NPP for safe startup, operation and normal or emergency shutdown of the plant.

“Connection of any large new power plant to the electrical grid system in a country may require significant modification and strengthening of the grid system, but for NPPs there may be added requirements to the structure of the grid system and the way it is controlled and maintained to ensure adequate reliability.

“The organization responsible for the NPP and the organization responsible for the grid system will need to establish and agree the necessary characteristics of the grid and of the NPP, well before the NPP is built, so that they are compatible with each other. They will also need to agree the necessary modifications to the grid system, and how they are to be financed.

“For a Member State that does not yet use nuclear power, the introduction and development of nuclear power is a major undertaking. It requires the country to build physical infrastructure and develop human resources so it can
construct and operate a nuclear power plant (NPP) in a safe, secure and technically sound manner. ” end quote. Source: “ELECTRIC GRID RELIABILITY AND INTERFACE WITH NUCLEAR POWER PLANTS” IAEA NUCLEAR ENERGY SERIES No. NG-T-3.8, IAEA,

Hmm. very interesting. NPPs require a specifically designed and modified baseload capable grid network before they can be expected to safely start up, operation and shut down. Further the grid is needed, according to the world nuclear authority, for SAFE EMERGENCY SHUTDOWN.

The Earthquake and the Grid in Japan on the day of the disaster

One would have thought the following information would have been clearly discussed by the nuclear authorities from the day of the disaster. It’s nearly 10 years and still no word from them:

““Vibrations from the magnitude 9.0 earthquake triggered an immediate shut down of 15 of Japan’s nuclear power stations. Seismic sensors picked up the earthquake and control rods were automatically inserted into the reactors, halting the fission reaction that is used to produce electricity. This sudden loss of power across Japan’s national power grid caused widespread power failures, cutting vital electricity supplies to Fukushima Daiichi. There were three reactors, one, two and three, operating at the time when the earthquake hit while reactors four, five and six had already been shutdown as part of routine maintenance work.” “Japan earthquake: how the nuclear crisis unfolded”. Richard Gray, Science Correspondent, The Telegraph, 20 March 2011. end quote.

The first thing the earthquake did was to cause the shutdown of nuclear power feed into the grid. 15 Nuclear Power Plants threw in the towel because they cannot safely operate during an earthquake. Apparently. Nuclear power guarantees black out in an earthquake.

July 23, 2020 Posted by | Fukushima continuing, Reference, safety | Leave a comment

Fukushima may have scattered plutonium widely

Fukushima may have scattered plutonium widely, Physics World 20 Jul 2020   Tiny fragments of plutonium may have been carried more than 200 km by caesium particles released following the meltdown at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant in Japan in 2011. So says an international group of scientists that has made detailed studies of soil samples at sites close to the damaged reactors. The researchers say the findings shed new light on conditions inside the sealed-off reactors and should aid the plant’s decommissioning……..

Mapping plutonium spread

To date, plutonium from the accident has been detected as far as 50 km from the damaged reactors. Researchers had previously thought that this plutonium, like the caesium, was released after evaporating from the fuel. But the new analysis instead points to some of it having escaped from the stricken plant in particulate form within fragments of fuel “captured” by the CsMPs…….

Implications for decommissioning

The researchers note that previous studies have shown that plutonium and caesium are distributed differently in the extended area around Fukushima, which suggests that not all CsMPs contain plutonium. However, they say that the fact plutonium is found in some of these particles implies that it could have been transported as far afield as the caesium – up to 230 km from the Fukushima plant.

As regards any threat to health, they note that radioactivity levels of the emitted plutonium are comparable with global counts from nuclear weapons tests. Such low concentrations, they say, “may not have significant health effects”, but they add that if the plutonium were ingested, the isotopes that make it up could yield quite high effective doses.

With radiation levels still too high for humans to enter the damaged reactors, the researchers argue that the fuel fragments they have uncovered provide precious direct information on what happened during the meltdown and the current state of the fuel debris. In particular, Utsunomiya points out that the composition of the debris, just like that of normal nuclear fuel, varies on the very smallest scales. This information, he says, will be vital when it comes to decommissioning the reactors safely, given the potential risk of inhaling dust particles containing uranium or plutonium.

The research is reported in Science of the Total Environment.   https://physicsworld.com/a/fukushima-may-have-scattered-plutonium-widely/

July 21, 2020 Posted by | - plutonium, Fukushima continuing, radiation, Reference | Leave a comment

Japanese municipal assemblies oppose dumping radioactive water in sea

Storage tanks for radioactive water are seen at Tokyo Electric Power Co’s (TEPCO) tsunami-crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant in Okuma town, Fukushima prefecture, Japan February 18, 2019. Picture taken February 18, 2019. REUTERS/Issei Kato

Fukushima localities speak out against dumping radioactive water in sea,  Japan Times,  17 Jul 20, Seventeen out of 59 municipal assemblies in Fukushima Prefecture have either passed a resolution or issued a statement opposing the discharge into the Pacific Ocean of treated radioactive water currently stored at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant, a Fukushima Minpo survey has shown.The resolutions and statements also described measures taken by the central government as inadequate to combat reputational damage to food and fishery goods produced in Fukushima Prefecture, and the hope that local voices will be reflected in Tokyo’s decision on whether to release the tritium-tainted water into the sea.

Fukushima Minpo conducted a survey of assemblies in the prefecture’s 59 cities, towns and villages from June 18 to June 24. The assembly for the town of Namie, close to where the nuclear power plant is located, adopted a resolution that opposed the release of the radioactive water into the sea, while assemblies from the town of Miharu and village of Nishigo both issued statements opposing both sea discharge and evaporation as methods for disposing of the water.

Many municipal assemblies have urged the central government to instead come up with measures involving long-term storage of the contaminated water in tanks ……….https://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2020/07/17/national/fukushima-assemblies-radioactive-water/

July 18, 2020 Posted by | Fukushima continuing | Leave a comment

8 cases of inappropriately stored nuclear waste found at northern Japan reprocessing plant

kjlklmlmThe Japan Nuclear Fuel Ltd. (JNFL) nuclear fuel reprocessing plant in the village of Rokkasho, Aomori Prefecture, is seen in this May 14, 2020 file photo taken from a Mainichi Shimbun aircraft

 

July 15, 2020

TOKYO — Japan Nuclear Fuel Ltd. (JNFL) had been inappropriately storing nuclear waste at a nuclear fuel reprocessing plant in Rokkasho, Aomori Prefecture, in northern Japan, including keeping waste in undesignated areas, the country’s nuclear regulatory body has revealed.

The Nuclear Regulation Authority (NRA) had instructed JNFL to make improvements in its practices in 2017, but the company had left some of its nuclear waste in places where they were not supposed to be. There has been no confirmation that any of the radioactive substances leaked. There have been a series of shoddy practices uncovered at JNFL, which is likely to call into question the company’s attitude.

At the fuel reprocessing plant, uranium and plutonium are extracted from spent nuclear fuel for reuse in nuclear reactors. Highly radioactive waste liquid that is generated in the process becomes nuclear waste when it is solidified in glass. According to the NRA and others, JNFL had been keeping nuclear waste in a building different from the one the waste is meant to be stored in. As for the approximately 160 kilograms of shards of radioactive waste liquid solidified in glass, an appropriate storage method had not been stipulated. There were eight cases of inappropriate storage, some of them spanning the past 19 years.

Inspectors from the NRA Secretariat confirmed inappropriate storage of nuclear waste in August 2017. The regulatory body asked that JNFL correct its practices by August 2019, but only two of the eight cases had been remedied by the end of June 2020.

At a meeting concerning the safety inspection of the nuclear fuel reprocessing plant this past May, the NRA had determined that the plant had effectively met the government’s new criteria. JNFL explained that it had intended to consult with the NRA Secretariat once the inspections had taken place. The NRA, meanwhile, says that the situation is exempt from safety inspections under the government’s new criteria.

https://mainichi.jp/english/articles/20200715/p2a/00m/0na/002000c?fbclid=IwAR1ohnwU8wykHwF939fJOtLzQvZrujUk0p9op3mdPs1ujPVtBjfNRjNgcCk

 

 

July 16, 2020 Posted by | Japan | , , | Leave a comment

Regulator demands TEPCO clarify responsibilities

20200710_08_857602_L

 

July 10, 2020

Japan’s nuclear regulator has demanded Tokyo Electric Power Company clarify the responsibilities of its president in the event of a nuclear accident.

Three years ago, the Nuclear Regulation Authority endorsed safety measures at TEPCO’s two nuclear reactors at the Kashiwazaki-Kariwa plant in Niigata Prefecture.

The regulator then requested that the company lay out its policies for preventing another nuclear accident in the plant security rulebook. The company had several years earlier been at the heart of the 2011 Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster.

On Thursday, TEPCO officials told the regulator that they would include a clause stipulating that the president be quickly informed of any risk with the potential to lead to an accident. The clause also stipulates that the president address the issue, regardless of whether the risk has been confirmed or not.

The officials also said records related to such issues would be kept for five years.

But the regulation authority says the storage period should be longer. It also says the responsibilities of the president should be laid out more specifically.

They are also demanding written opinions from law experts on the matter. Tokyo Electric says it will reconsider these measures.

Regulators want TEPCO to be as specific in its safety measures as possible, after the company rejected a report warning of the possible impact of a massive tsunami before the 2011 Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster.

https://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/en/news/20200710_08/

July 16, 2020 Posted by | Japan | , | Leave a comment

The complexities and pitfalls of citizen science

One such tactic, which was witnessed after Fukushima, occurred through the reframing of radiation risks as simplistic and natural, unrelated to the specific risks associated with Fukushima. For instance, the government distributed pamphlets that explained that radiation naturally exists in our food, ch as the potassium levels present in bananas.

Yet such information is irrelevant to the hazards of internalizing fission products from a nuclear power plant. While bananas have naturally occurring potassium, it would require eating around 20 million bananas to get radiation poisoning.  On the other hand, each radionuclide released during nuclear meltdown events like Fukushima possesses specific biological signatures and presents particular risks when inhaled or ingested.

Being Clear-Eyed About Citizen Science in the Age of COVID-19, Sapiens MAXIME POLLERI / 15 JUL 2020 

“……..there are inherent political complexities involved when citizens or nongovernmental organizations step in and claim expertise in areas typically reserved for state agencies and experts. Like those entities, citizen science has its own potential pitfalls.

For one, corporate polluters or state agencies can potentially exploit citizen science, delegating the monitoring of contamination to the victims of a disaster. For instance, by the end of this year, Japan’s Nuclear Regulation Agency plans to remove 80 percent of radiation monitoring posts in Fukushima, arguing that the radiation levels in many areas have stabilized themselves—owing also in part to the presence and efficiency of monitoring networks provided by citizens. This decision has been controversial, since problems of radioactive contamination persist in Fukushima. For instance, one of the main radioactive pollutants, Cesium-137, has a long lifespan and can emit radiation for nearly 300 years.

Retiring these posts will force citizen scientists to take on the burden of monitoring, shifting liability for ensuring safe living conditions onto the shoulders of the nuclear victims. In addition, the growing impact of citizen science can lead to reduced public expenditure, minimal government intervention, and risk privatization, meaning that risk becomes individual and private. Too much delegation to citizens runs the risk of creating societies where individuals have to take care of themselves in increasingly polluted environments, while interpreting complex data about controversial environmental dangers. And not every community can afford to purchase expensive monitoring devices or test food in a consistent manner.

Citizen scientists also risk reproducing forms of ignorance around certain hazards.   n post-Fukushima Japan, what is meant by the “science” of citizen science is often synonymous with a tracking and monitoring agenda, where individuals resort to the very same technologies and knowledge forms used by states, nuclear lobbies, or radiological protection agencies.

Yet many anthropologists and historians have argued that what we know (and don’t know) about the extent of radiation hazards and dangers was embedded in a culture of secrecy, denial, and propaganda that was shaped by the nuclear arms race of the Cold War. Considerations over international security and political stability were often prioritized over the safety of workers or citizens who had been exposed to radiation. As a result, some of the negative effects of radiation were downplayed through different tactics.

One such tactic, which was witnessed after Fukushima, occurred through the reframing of radiation risks as simplistic and natural, unrelated to the specific risks associated with Fukushima. For instance, the government distributed pamphlets that explained that radiation naturally exists in our food, ch as the potassium levels present in bananas.

Yet such information is irrelevant to the hazards of internalizing fission products from a nuclear power plant. While bananas have naturally occurring potassium, it would require eating around 20 million bananas to get radiation poisoning.  On the other hand, each radionuclide released during nuclear meltdown events like Fukushima possesses specific biological signatures and presents particular risks when inhaled or ingested. During my fieldwork in Fukushima, I witnessed that this legacy of misinformation was carried on by some citizens who unwittingly replicated these propagandist forms of knowledge by making similar naturalistic or overly simplistic comparisons.

As citizen science efforts grow, it is also critical to consider to what extent citizen involvement might put individuals at risk of adverse health effects. This is a tricky question when one considers that certain members of the population, like children, are more sensitive to radiation than others. In Fukushima, some Japanese parents have understandably opted to evacuate rather than rely on citizen science, arguing that doing so would expose their children to unacceptable levels of radiation and that forcing children to be responsible for their own safety is unethical.

Citizen scientists are hardly homogeneous groups, as mothers, farmers, and urban citizens do not experience hazards and recovery in the same way. In that regard, factors such as gender, employment, and social class strongly influence why people enter citizen science, how science is mobilized, and how data about a controversial hazard ends up being interpreted. For instance, people like Natsuo have used the results gathered by citizen science to highlight the dangers of living in Fukushima, while other citizen science organizations help bring people back to their beloved region. These conflicts can result in even more fragmented communities and conflicts within and around citizen science. ……

In Japanese, two words—shiru and wakaru—can be used for the verb “knowing.” Shiru means “to find out” or “to learn.” It implies a process of acquisition of knowledge and information. Wakaru, on the other hand, is closer to “understanding this knowledge.” Shiru comes before wakaru, and in a way, one can know but not necessarily understand. Wakaru consequently shows a greater and more personal level of comprehension often based on a given context.

For Masayuki, state institutional experts possessed shiru, but not wakaru. Having been directly affected by radioactive contamination, Masayuki strongly believed that the inhabitants of a place, the jūmin (literally, the people who resided) were best suited to manage their life in a post-Fukushima Japan.  https://www.sapiens.org/culture/fukushima-citizen-science/

 

July 15, 2020 Posted by | health, Japan, Reference, secrets,lies and civil liberties, spinbuster | Leave a comment

Citizen science and Fukushima radiation

Being Clear-Eyed About Citizen Science in the Age of COVID-19

An anthropologist explores the network of citizen monitoring capabilities that developed after the Fukushima nuclear disaster in Japan in 2011 for what they might teach all of us about such strategies for the covonavirus pandemic. Sapiens MAXIME POLLERI / 15 JUL 2020 “……………  The earthquake and subsequent tsunami led to core meltdowns within some of the Fukushima power plant’s nuclear reactors. This malfunction, along with other technical incidents, resulted in the atmospheric release of radioactive pollutants, which spread predominantly over the northeastern part of Japan, forcing a widespread evacuation of Fukushima residents. By March 12, the area around the power plant had been evacuated; those living and working within 20 kilometers of the radius of the plant were forced to relocate. In the days, weeks, and months following this disaster, uncertainty around the scale and extent of contamination grew swiftly—much like what we see occurring throughout the world during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Most notably, the public grew increasingly concerned about the legitimacy of institutional experts’ ability to control and explain the risks of residual radioactivity, while citizens like Natsuo were unable to get adequate information through traditional media venues. Initially, data about radioactive contamination came sporadically and was often explained in hard-to-understand metrics by scientists who were cherry-picked by the state to send reassuring messages to citizens.

Moreover, radioactive contamination was later found to be present in some food products and in school yards where children had been playing that lay beyond the official zone of evacuation. Over the ensuing months and years, the public lost confidence in the state’s response and began to take matters into their own hands, mobilizing expert practices of their own. Widespread grassroot actions led to citizen science networks in which people tracked radiation in their environment, organized learning workshops on radiation dangers, and tested food for contamination, often through local organizations or individual households.

As an anthropologist who conducted fieldwork on the Fukushima nuclear disaster between 2015 and 2017, I came to realize that citizen science can rise up to fill in the gaps of state responses toward crises, for better or for worse. As we’ve seen play out throughout the COVID-19 pandemic in various parts of the world, governance and leadership have often been confusing, mismatched, and at times utterly misleading. The case of Fukushima offers lessons about both the promises and pitfalls of citizen science and how civil society is playing an increasingly important role in managing various disasters, catastrophes, and crises.

The Geiger counter of Masayuki was not silent for long before it began to emit the distinctive “clicking” sound associated with radiation monitoring devices. The “click” grew louder in intensity as we located a hot spot, an area where the level of radiation is significantly higher than elsewhere. Masayuki dutifully noted the number provided by the device before leaving to search for another hot spot. We were standing in the Japanese village of Iitate, situated in the prefecture of Fukushima. It was common at this time for citizens to own their own Geiger counters—often purchased off the internet using international donations or made at home as DIY devices—to measure the level of radiation around them.

When I first came to this rural village in the spring of 2016, more than five years had passed since the nuclear disaster. The forced evacuation of citizens from Fukushima and the surrounding areas had proved short-lived; by 2012, the Japanese state had already embraced a policy of repatriation to irradiated areas like Iitate village, which is where I met Masayuki and citizens like him in 2016. ……….

While happy to be back in their beloved region, many residents were critical of the state radiation-monitoring networks that were supposed to provide them with adequate information to allow them to live safely in the village. Indeed, state data on radiation was often provided through fixed monitoring in precise locations or through an average radiation level taken in the village. This kind of information was not practical enough for residents, who wanted to know the specific radiation levels behind their houses or in their rice paddy fields.

Likewise, official depictions of radiation levels through clear-cut chromatic zones did little to offer the citizens reassurance. As a result of the perceived limitation of state measures, residents quickly decided to track radiation themselves as a means to keep the map of their village relevant—often finding contamination that was not evident from state mapping. In the house of one farmer, I witnessed homemade models that exhibited a 3D topography of Iitate’s geographical landscape. These models had been made using 3D printers, and the level of radiation had been monitored by the citizens themselves.

In particular, the local knowledge of the geography of Iitate helped citizens to attain a level of precision that far exceeded that of the government map. Citizens soon learned that radiation doses could be higher at the bottom of a hill than farther upslope or that the woods behind one’s home, having trapped radiation, might impact the radiation level inside houses. These practices helped strengthen a community that had previously felt helpless in the face of an imperceptible radiation threat. Geiger counters became the ears and eyes of citizens like Masayuki, enabling them to make sense of and gain some semblance of control over a hazard that cannot be registered by the senses.

After the Chernobyl nuclear disaster in 1986, one of the main sources of radiation exposure stemmed from consumption of food products such as milk or wild mushrooms that had been contaminated by radioactive fallout. In an effort to make sure that this did not happen in Japan, the government took on the task of testing the food produced in Fukushima, implementing a limit to the allowable amount of radioactivity in food products.

Within months after the meltdowns, the government assured the public of the safety of its food products, encouraging citizens to consume foods sold at public fairs and other public events. However, citizens of Fukushima also consume food harvested from streams, forests, home gardens, and mountain areas—where state monitoring was largely absent or insufficient.

Again, citizens mobilized to fill in the gaps in food testing: With the help of public donations, citizen scientists were able to purchase scintillation detectors, which are used to measure radioactive contaminants in foodstuff. Such testing enabled citizens to gain an understanding of the types of foods most prone to radioactive contamination, such as mushrooms, green leafy vegetables, citrus, sea cucumber, and seaweeds. This in turn helped people avoid eating the most risky foods. Together with state monitoring, such citizen science practices resulted in lower consumption of contaminated foods.

While such examples demonstrate the power and potential of citizen science, there are inherent political complexities involved when citizens or nongovernmental organizations step in and claim expertise in areas typically reserved for state agencies and experts. Like those entities, citizen science has its own potential pitfalls……..  https://www.sapiens.org/culture/fukushima-citizen-science/

 

July 15, 2020 Posted by | Japan, radiation, Reference | Leave a comment

Japanese bishops’ anti-nuclear power book available in English

Japanese bishops’ anti-nuclear power book available in English, Crux, Catholic News Service, Jul 12, 2020 TOKYO — An English version of a book by Japan’s bishops appealing for the abolition of nuclear power is now available for free on the internet, reported ucanews.com.

Abolition of Nuclear Power: An Appeal from the Catholic Church in Japan is available as a PDF file on the website of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Japan.

The bishops wrote the book after Japan’s Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station suffered a serious accident including a meltdown after a 2011 earthquake and tsunami.

Nuclear power is essentially incompatible with the image of the earth as a symbiotic society, which Pope Francis shows in his encyclical “Laudato Si’,” the bishops say.

  • The bishops concluded that nuclear power generation should be immediately abolished in the face of the insoluble dangers it presents, including widespread health damage to children.

    They worked with researchers in various fields to explore the damage caused by the Fukushima accident, the technical and sociological limitations of nuclear power production, and ethical and theological considerations concerning it.

    They said they believe that Japan, having suffered such a severe nuclear accident, has a responsibility to inform the world of the reality of the damage and to appeal for the abolition of nuclear power generation……..Once a severe accident occurs, they argue, nuclear power generation destroys the environment over a wide area for generations and damages the right to life and livelihood……. https://cruxnow.com/church-in-asia/2020/07/japanese-bishops-anti-nuclear-power-book-available-in-english/

     

July 14, 2020 Posted by | Japan, Religion and ethics | Leave a comment

Rally opposes proposal for Fukushima wastewater 

 

July 13, 2020 Posted by | Fukushima continuing, opposition to nuclear | Leave a comment

Movement in Japan to suspend Olympic Games

(FILES) This file photo taken on February 29, 2020 shows a protester holding placards during a demonstration against the Olympics, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and nuclear energy, near the “J-Village” which will host the start of the Olympic torch relay in Naraha, Fukushima prefecture. – The Olympic torch relay that begins in Japan this month will start from Fukushima, emphasising what the government dubs the “Recovery Olympics”, but not everyone in the region will be cheering. (Photo by CHARLY TRIBALLEAU / AFP) / TO GO WITH nuclear-Fukushima-Oly-2020-JPN-Japan,FOCUS by Karyn NISHIMURA

Increasing voices in Japan for the cancellation of the Tokyo Olympics   https://wordpress.com/read/feeds/2663585/posts/2804625668

Dear  Friends,

On 7th June Mr Yukio Hatoyama, former Prime Minister of Japan, addressed me a message, expressing his views on the Tokyo Olympics : ”I always thought that instead of spending money on the Tokyo Olympics, the state should use these funds for the decontamination of the affected areas and to compensate the Fukushima nuclear disaster victims.“

He has expressed deep sympathy for the athletes placed in unbearable uncertainties preparing for the postponed Olympics. He urges that the sooner the decision the better for the athletes, since we all know that the Corona pandemic will oblige the Tokyo Olympic Games to be cancelled.

This message has given rise to reactions both in Japan and abroad.As an example,I am sharing with you a mail sent to me by a Japanese living in Germany.

In addition to the Covid-19 crisis, Japan is being cruelly assailed by natural disasters, unprecedented rainfalls and subsequent floods and landslides among others.

Japan faces a national crisis.

With warmest and highest regards,

Mitsuhei Murata

(Former Japanese Ambassador to Switzerland)

——– Forwarded Message ——–Dear Dr Alex Dear Dr Jörg Schmid;

cc: Mr Mitsuhei Murata, Mr Etsuji Watanabe

Recently I have acquired interesting information from Mr Mitsuhei Murata, former Japanese Ambassador to Switzerland, and Mr Etsuji Watanabe, a member of the ACSIR (Association for Citizens and Scientists Concerned about Internal Radiation Exposures), who are two of the leading lights in the anti-nuclear movements in Japan, that there is increasing support within the Japanese society for the complete cancellation, rather than postponement of the Tokyo Olympic Games.

On 7th June Mr Yukio Hatoyama, former Prime Minister of Japan, wrote to Mr Mitsuhei Murata, expressing his views on the Tokyo Olympics : ”I always thought that instead of spending money on the Tokyo Olympics, the state should use these funds for the decontamination of the affected areas and to compensate the Fukushima nuclear disaster victims.“

Subsequently Mr Murata wrote to Mr Thomas Bach, President of the IOC in order to convey this important message :

Dear President Thomas Bach,

Please allow me to inform you of a message a sent to me yesterday from former Japanese Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama.

He has expressed deep sympathy for the athletes placed in unbearable uncertainties preparing for the postponed Olympics. He urges that the sooner the decision the better for the athletes, since we all know that the Corona pandemic will oblige the Tokyo Olympic Games to be cancelled.

In a press interview article published in January 2016,he made public his plea to consecrate maximum efforts to bringing Fukushima under control.
He has proven himself to be far-sighted. His vision for the future is in conformity with the dawning new world.

With highest and warmest regards,

Mitsuhei Murata
(Former Japanese Ambassador to Switzerland)

Mr Etsuji Watanabe told me that an overwhelming number of anti-nuclear activists are calling for the immediate cancellation of the Olympics. There will be demonstrations on 24th July, on which the 2020 Tokyo Olympic games were to commence, in Kyoto, Osaka and Tokyo. They will be demanding to stop the Olympic Games.

Best regards,
Rie

July 13, 2020 Posted by | Japan, opposition to nuclear | Leave a comment

Fukushima nuclear waste decision also a human rights issue

Fukushima nuclear waste decision also a human rights issue   https://english.kyodonews.net/news/2020/07/1145e5b3970f-opinion-fukushima-nuclear-waste-decision-also-a-human-rights-issue.html

 By Baskut Tuncak, KYODO NEWS – In a matter of weeks, the government of Japan will have the opportunity to demonstrate to the world how much it values protecting human rights and the environment and to meet its international obligations.

In the aftermath of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster, myself and other U.N. special rapporteurs consistently raised concerns about the approaches taken by the government of Japan. We have been concerned that raising of “acceptable limits” of radiation exposure to urge resettlement violated the government’s human rights obligations to children.

We have been concerned of the possible exploitation of migrants and the poor for radioactive decontamination work. Our most recent concern is how the government used the COVID-19 crisis to dramatically accelerate its timeline for deciding whether to dump radioactive wastewater accumulating at Fukushima Daiichi in the ocean.

Setting aside the duties incumbent on Japan to consult and protect under international law, it saddens me to think that a country that has suffered the horrors of being the only country on which not one but two nuclear bombs were dropped during war, would continue on a such a path in dealing with the radioactive aftermath of the Fukushima Daiichi disaster.

Releasing the toxic wastewater collected from the Fukushima nuclear plant would be, without question, a terrible blow to the livelihood of local fishermen. Regardless of the health and environmental risks, the reputational damage would be irreparable, an invisible and permanent scar upon local seafood. No amount of money can replace the loss of culture and dignity that accompany this traditional way of life for these communities.

The communities of Fukushima, so devastated by the tragic events of March 11, 2011, have in recent weeks expressed their concerns and opposition to the discharge of the contaminated water into their environment. It is their human right to an environment that allows for living a life in dignity, to enjoy their culture, and to not be exposed deliberately to additional radioactive contamination. Those rights should be fully respected and not be disregarded by the government in Tokyo.

The discharge of nuclear waste to the ocean could damage Japan’s international relations. Neighboring countries are already concerned about the release of large volumes of radioactive tritium and other contaminants in the wastewater.

Japan has a duty under international law to prevent transboundary environmental harm. More specifically, under the London Convention, Japan has an obligation to take precaution with the respect to the dumping of waste in the ocean. Given the scientific uncertainty of the health and environmental impacts of exposure to low-level radiation, the disposal of this wastewater would be completely inconsistent with the spirit, if not the letter, of this law.

ndigenous peoples have an internationally recognized right to free, prior and informed consent. This includes the disposal of waste in their waters and actions that may contaminate their food. No matter how small the Japanese government believes this contamination will be of their water and food, there is an unquestionable obligation to consult with potentially affected indigenous peoples that it has not met.

The Japanese government has not, and cannot, assure itself of meaningful consultations as required under international human rights law during the current pandemic. There is no justification for such a dramatically accelerated timeline for decision making during the covid-19 crisis. Japan has the physical space to store wastewater for many years.

I have reported annually to the U.N. Human Rights Council for the past six years. Whether the topic was on child rights or worker’s rights, in nearly each and every one of those discussion at the United Nations, the situation of Fukushima Daiichi is raised by concerned observers for the world to hear. Intervening organizations have pleaded year-after-year for the Japanese government to extend an invitation to visit so I can offer recommendations to improve the situation. I regret that my mandate is coming to an end without such an opportunity despite my repeated requests to visit and assess the situation.

The disaster of 2011 cannot be undone. However, Japan still has an opportunity to minimize the damage. In my view, there are grave risks to the livelihoods of fishermen in Japan and also to its international reputation. Again, I urge the Japanese government to think twice about its legacy: as a true champion of human rights and the environment, or not.

(Baskut Tuncak has served as U.N. special rapporteur on the implications for human rights of the environmentally sound management and disposal of hazardous substances and wastes since 2014.)

July 9, 2020 Posted by | civil liberties, Japan, wastes | Leave a comment

Testing for radiation in Fukushima – the continued anxiety

Nine years on, Fukushima’s mental health fallout lingers

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Across Asia-Pacific, trust in govts rose, except in Japan

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June 22, 2020

People’s trust in the governments of the Asia-Pacific rose, following a global pattern, except for Japan, according to the Edelman Trust Barometer Spring Update.

Trust in the government rose in China, India and South Korea, but declined by 5 points in Japan to 38 per cent, in Edelman’s Trust Barometer Spring Update report.

“The outlier in Asia, and indeed the world, is Japan,” noted Mr Stephen Kehoe, president and chief executive officer of Edelman’s Asia Pacific operations.

“Forced to reckon with early global attention due to the cruise ship stranded in the port of Yokohama, Japan appears to have learned few lessons from this crisis, or indeed, in the nine years since Fukushima,” he said in an article on Edelman’s website, referring to the coronavirus-hit Diamond Princess stranded in Yokohoma in February, with 3,700 people and crew on board. In the end, slightly over 700 people were found to be infected while 13 died, earning the government criticism for the delay in handling those infected.

“This, perhaps combined with the delayed decision to impose a state of emergency and subsequent reported missteps in the distribution of personal protective equipment, has resulted in a near-total collapse of confidence by the Japanese in their government to handle the ongoing crisis,” he added.

The March 2011 triple disaster in Fukushima of a tsunami, earthquake and an accident at the Daiichi nuclear power plant left more than 20,000 people dead or missing.

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has been rapped for his handling of the coronavirus situation. A poll by public broadcaster NHK from May showed his approval rating had dropped to 37 per cent while another poll by Mainichi Shimbun showed his approval rating was only 27 per cent.

Elsewhere in Asia, people showed more trust in their governments, with the level in China up five points to 95 per cent, India (up 6 points to 87 per cent), and South Korea (up 16 points to 67 per cent).

Those surveyed also showed a high tolerance of government surveillance for public safety. The level in China was 30 points ahead of the global average (at 61 per cent), while in India it was 17 points over, and in South Korea, it was in line with the global average.

“Japan’s appetite for surveillance is the lowest in our sample at 44 per cent, continuing to reflect long-held beliefs around constitutional freedom, which date back to the aftermath of World War II,” noted Mr Kehoe.

https://www.straitstimes.com/asia/across-asia-pacific-trust-in-govts-rose-except-in-japan

 

 

June 22, 2020 Posted by | Japan | , | Leave a comment

It’s Not Techno-Angst That’s Driving East Asia to Abandon Nuclear Power

In the East Asian democracies, nuclear energy is tied to an increasingly unpopular political and economic model.

klmmùWorkers at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant pose for portraits on Feb. 23, 2016, in Okuma, Japan.

 

June 17, 2020

Western discussions about nuclear energy in East Asia usually start with the Fukushima disaster and end with efforts to address climate change. But anti-nuclear sentiment in Asia looks nothing like that in the West, where it was birthed during the Jane Fonda era and is still based on long-debunked claims about the intrinsic dangers of accidents and nuclear waste. The techno-angst and apocalyptic fears that have always animated Western environmentalism are largely foreign to Asian discussions of nuclear energy, climate change, and similar environmental concerns.The techno-angst and apocalyptic fears that have always animated Western environmentalism are largely foreign to Asian discussions of nuclear energy and climate change. After all, following the 2011 earthquake and tsunami in Japan that led to a meltdown at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant, it was Germany—not Japan—that immediately decided to permanently phase out nuclear power, even if it meant that its carbon emissions would rise.

Japan, South Korea, and Taiwan may nonetheless take a decisive turn against nuclear power. The reasons have little to do with public fears of nuclear energy but are tied to long-standing demands for political and economic reform. That’s because the nuclear industry in each of these three countries is tied to a highly contested political and economic model that the reformers are pressing to change.

In April, the anti-nuclear Democratic Party of Korea swept to the most dominating electoral victory in South Korean history. In January, Taiwan’s reform-minded Democratic Progressive Party, which has proposed phasing out the country’s nuclear power stations, also won by a landslide. Meanwhile, both Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and his ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP), the country’s last major pro-nuclear party, face worsening poll numbers as a major election approaches in 2021.

The proximate causes of these political shifts have little to do with nuclear or environmental policies. South Korean President Moon Jae-in’s smashing victory followed his exemplary management of the national response to the COVID-19 pandemic. In Taiwan, it was China’s brutal crackdown on dissent in Hong Kong that heavily tipped the scales in favor of the Democratic Progressive Party, which has taken a far more defiant position on relations with China than its main rival, the Kuomintang. Japan’s LDP is languishing in the polls because of its failure to revitalize the country’s long-stagnant economy, a task made all the more challenging by the pandemic.

Dig a little deeper, however, and the same underlying political dynamics have undermined support for nuclear energy. In all three nations, the nuclear power sector has become closely identified with long-entrenched political parties and the power of state bureaucracies and industry groups over economic life. Fukushima undoubtedly amplified anti-nuclear sentiment in the region, but opposition to nuclear power has been a proxy for political and economic reform for decades.

In all three nations, state-led nuclear energy development took place during prolonged periods of political dominance by conservative parties with strong ties to industry and business interests. In the aftermath of the Chinese Civil War in the 1940s and the Korean War in the 1950s, respectively, South Korea and Taiwan were led by authoritarian governments that focused on economic development while severely restricting political freedoms. South Korea only held its first free elections in 1988; Taiwan followed in 1992. While Japan has conducted democratic elections since the 1950s, the LPD has maintained nearly continuous control.

The nuclear industries of Taiwan, South Korea, and Japan are thus the product of authoritarian or de facto one-party states, where the ruling party passed control over the energy sector (and many other parts of the economy) to state-owned corporations, government-issued monopolies, or quasi-cartels of favored companies. State-owned Taiwan Power Company controlled Taiwan’s power sector until the electricity market became more liberalized after 1995. In South Korea, the government-operated Korea Electric Power Corporation still holds a monopoly on power generation and grid infrastructure; one of its subsidiaries, Korea Hydro and Nuclear Power, operates all nuclear reactors. In Japan, the power sector consists of 10 regional monopolies that operate in close coordination with the powerful Ministry of Economy, Trade, and Industry.

And just as the nuclear establishment was part and parcel of postwar economic planning by what were effectively one-party states, opposition to that establishment has become a cause for those who demand political and economic reform.

Evolving nuclear policies in East Asia reflect a changing balance of power that is likely to persist. In Taiwan, the conservative Kuomintang’s aging demographic base and support for closer ties with mainland China now appears out of touch with a younger electorate increasingly distrustful of China and hostile to reunification. In South Korea, demographic shifts and evolving public opinion have favored reforms on issues ranging from diplomacy with North Korea to checks on powerful corporations. In both South Korea and Taiwan, successful responses to the COVID-19 pandemic have boosted the credibility of reformist leaders.

Even as the nuclear issue is taken up by reform parties, public support for nuclear energy remains strong in South Korea and Taiwan, and has been growing again in Japan.The political situation in Japan, by contrast, is more uncertain. With the pandemic set to erase the LDP’s recent successes in controlling the national debt and boost the economy, the party also faces a leadership transition when Abe steps down after his current term as prime minster, as he must according to LDP rules. But anti-nuclear opposition parties remain weak and have almost no record of winning national elections, let alone governing—an enormous disadvantage at a moment when the economy is struggling, China has reemerged as the region’s dominant power, and the public health crisis is far from over.

Even as the nuclear issue is taken up by reform parties, public support for nuclear energy remains strong in South Korea and Taiwan, and has been growing again in Japan. In Taiwan, 59 percent of voters supported a 2018 referendum to retain the nation’s nuclear power stations. In South Korea, support for nuclear energy dipped in the wake of Fukushima but has since rebounded to around 70 percent. Opinion in Japan remains divided, but support has slowly rebounded since the Fukushima accident.

https://foreignpolicy.com/2020/06/17/nuclear-power-japan-south-korea-japan-fukushima-disaster/?fbclid=IwAR3ujssQDdH9GsWBvEuGz2ahZf2bGmp3xuquGfRUTg5IuwewqX7EdL1DRfI

June 22, 2020 Posted by | Japan | , | Leave a comment