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The News That Matters about the Nuclear Industry

More of Joban line reopens in Fukushima

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TOMIOKA, Fukushima (Jiji Press) — Train operations were resumed Saturday on a Joban Line section in Fukushima Prefecture after a suspension following the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami and the subsequent nuclear accident at the Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings Inc.’s Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant.
East Japan Railway Co., or JR East, restarted services on the 6.9-kilometer section between Tomioka Station in the town of Tomioka and Tatsuta Station in the town of Naraha.
JR East hopes to reopen the last remaining section by the end of March 2020. The section runs through the towns of Okuma and Futaba, the host municipalities for the power plant, and most of it is inside the heavily contaminated no-entry zone around the plant.
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October 23, 2017 Posted by | Fukushima 2017 | , , , | Leave a comment

WTO panel rules on Korea’s ban on Japanese seafood

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September 28th. Banners and calls for government action at Seoul’s Gwanghwamun Square: “We oppose imports of radioactive, contaminated Japanese seafood.”
 
A dozen civic groups are protesting the lifting of an import ban on Japanese seafood.
“It’s been more than six years since the Fukushima nuclear disaster, but radiation-tainted water is still being released into the sea. If the government lifts the restrictions, contaminated Japanese seafood will enter Korea.”
 
Following the Fukushima nuclear disaster in 2011, the Korean government slapped a temporary import ban on Japanese food. It then extended the ban to all fishery products from eight Japanese prefectures around Fukushima in September 2013, citing safety concerns.
 
In mid-2015, Tokyo lodged a complaint with the World Trade Organization against the restrictions.
After several bilateral meetings, a dispute resolution panel was set up in Feburary 2016, and this weekthe WTO panel sent its first dispute resolution report.
 
“Yes, both Seoul and Tokyo received the panel’s interim decision on Tuesday. For now, we cannot reveal the outcome as the concerning party’s duty. The result will be made public next spring, after it’s translated into three languages. What we can say now is that we will take measures if we think the panel’s ruling poses a risk to public health.”
 
In the complaint, Japan argued the Korean government lacked an explanation and scientific proof to back its restriction measures, adding Seoul had failed respond to Tokyo’s requests to answer its questions.
 
“In 2014 and 2015, Korea dispatched experts to conduct inspections in Fukushima. But, according to what I’ve found through information disclosure requests, under pressure from the Japanese government, the team didn’t conduct inspections in deep water, oceanfloor deposits as originally planned. Such inspections are critical to finding levels of contamination.”
 
The inspection team was disbanded in 2015 without a clear reason, and there was no final report on the inspection.
Experts believe it’s highly likely Korea lost the first panel ruling.
Once the outcome is made public next year, Korea has 60 days to hold discussions with Japan, and 15 months of appeal process, if it decides to do so.
 
“The Korean government needs to see how Japan is controlling its radiation tainted water, and conduct a thorough inspection in Fukushima, including of deep seawater, to show the import ban is fair. Secondly, the Korean government needs to take active measures to release whatever the inspection team found in 2014 and 2015 to restore people’s trust.”
 
Importing food is a matter of a nation’s sovereign rights.
A number of other countries, including China, Russia, Singapore and the U.S. all have some sort of import restriction measures, with China banning imports from ten prefectures in Japan, and Russia banning not just fresh seafood, but processed seafood.
Thus, the WTO ruling could have a broader impact and give Japan the basis to claim that food produced in the Fukushima region is 99 percent safe.
 
“There’s no safety level. Food safety standards differ according to the scientific research methods and the machines you use. No matter how small, radioactive material like Cesium, which stays in a natural state for a long time, accumulates in fish. If consumed by people, there’s a possibility it can cause cancer.”
 
Following the import ban in 2011, Japanese seafood imports to Korea have slumped to less than half the level they were at before the Fukushima nuclear disaster.
Many Koreans are worried about the possible resumption of seafood imports from Japan.
 
“Then, people won’t be conscious or cautious of food from Fukushima, and I’m worried my child will eat Japanese seafood. The government should protect the public’s health.”
 
“With concerns about radioactive contamination in seafood imports from Japan, and a lack of transparency from the government, the Korean public is calling on the administration to take the necessary measures that guarantee the safety of the nation’s food supply.
Kim Hyesung, Arirang News. ”

 

October 20, 2017 Posted by | Fukushima 2017 | , , , | Leave a comment

Japan attempting to force contaminated food products onto the market

A World Trade Organization panel has apparently ruled in Japan’s favor in a dispute over South Korean restrictions on imports of Japanese seafood imposed after the 2011 Fukushima nuclear disaster, according to a source familiar with the matter.
Both sides had been informed of the panel’s decision as of Tuesday. Tokyo declined to reveal the outcome but said it was “consistent with Japan’s position.” A final report is expected to be made public by next spring.
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WTO panel said to back Japan on Fukushima fish ban

Tokyo has called South Korean restrictions on seafood imports unfair
GENEVA/SEOUL — A World Trade Organization panel has apparently ruled in Japan’s favor in a dispute over South Korean restrictions on imports of Japanese seafood imposed after the 2011 Fukushima nuclear disaster, according to a source familiar with the matter.
Both sides had been informed of the panel’s decision as of Tuesday. Tokyo declined to reveal the outcome but said it was “consistent with Japan’s position.” A final report is expected to be made public by next spring.
The WTO dispute settlement process lets parties appeal panel decisions. Ryu Young-jin, South Korea’s minister of food and drug safety, told lawmakers in the National Assembly on Tuesday that the country would appeal any ruling against it by the panel “in the interest of public health.”
For Tokyo, a victory would mark progress on rolling back restrictions on imports of fish and other seafood from waters off eastern Japan. The South Korean ban, which Japan claims is unfair under WTO rules, was imposed in 2013. Japan tried and failed to talk the matter out with South Korea in 2015, prompting Tokyo to request the establishment of the dispute resolution panel.
What happens next remains unclear. South Korea’s Yonhap News Agency reported that the import ban would stay in place until at least 2019.
A number of other countries have imposed similar restrictions on Japanese seafood for fear of radioactive contamination, so the ruling could have a broader impact.

Seoul considers appeal against WTO ruling on Fukushima seafood ban

SEOUL, Oct. 18 (Yonhap) — South Korea is considering appealing the World Trade Organization (WTO) panel findings that its import restrictions on Japanese seafood after the 2011 Fukushima nuclear disaster were unfair, the country’s trade ministry said Wednesday.
Japan lodged a complaint at the WTO in 2015 to challenge South Korea’s import bans and additional testing requirements on fish caught from eight prefectures near Fukushima since 2013.
On Tuesday, WTO’s dispute settlement panel in Geneva ruled in favor of Japan and notified the two sides of the result.
“We will appeal in accordance with the WTO procedures if (its decision) is considered unfair and affects the government’s ability to safeguard the health of our people,” the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy said in a release. “Public health concerns are our top priority.”
Under WTO rules, South Korea has 60 days to appeal to an appellate body, which could delay imports of Fukushima-related seafood for another two years during the deliberation period.
Details of the final result will be available to WTO member nations in January and will be open to the public afterwards, the ministry said.

October 20, 2017 Posted by | Fukushima 2017 | , , , | Leave a comment

Rulings show Fukushima relief falls short of reality of victims

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A recent district court ruling on a damages lawsuit over the 2011 Fukushima nuclear accident must have reminded many people of the serious consequences of the disaster.
The meltdowns at Tokyo Electric Power Co.’s Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant shattered the happy and peaceful lives of local residents.
A huge number of people born and raised in the surrounding communities can no longer hope to continue their lives there, including working and developing their personalities through interactions with others.
In the lawsuit filed by around 3,800 plaintiffs, the Fukushima District Court on Oct. 10 held the government and the electric utility responsible for the nuclear accident and ordered them to pay compensation to about 2,900 evacuees.
It was another court ruling that represents a “legal defeat” for the government over the disaster, following a decision made in March by the Maebashi District Court in Gunma Prefecture.
For many years, the government has been promoting nuclear power generation as a national policy. Policymakers involved should revisit the lessons from the severe accident, which should be blamed on their blind faith in the “safety myth” of nuclear power.
They should also start making fresh efforts to enhance the safety of nuclear plants and provide effective relief to victims.
One key issue in the around 30 similar lawsuits that have been filed across the nation is whether it was possible to foresee the massive tsunami that triggered the meltdowns.
So far, three district courts have handed down rulings, all of which acknowledged that the tsunami was foreseeable. Their decisions were partly based on a related view announced in 2002 by a government agency.
Last month, however, the Chiba District Court denied the government’s legal responsibility for the accident, saying the disaster might not have been prevented even if presumed safety measures had been taken.
The ruling was based on a lenient judgment that showed insufficient sensitivity to the consequences of the accident.
In contrast, the Fukushima court delivered a well-reasoned, convincing ruling that describes in detail possible measures that could have been taken. It was based on a wide range of evidence, including courtroom testimonies by experts and facts and data concerning the situation when the accident unfolded.
Nuclear safety regulators and nuclear plant operators have the grave responsibility to constantly update their scientific knowledge and adopt safety measures of the highest possible level.
This is a vital imperative whose importance has become even clearer since the Fukushima accident.
Another key issue in the Fukushima disaster-related lawsuits is the way relief should be provided to victims.
All three rulings ordered compensation payments beyond government-set standards to a considerable number of plaintiffs.
The Chiba District Court ruling amply recognized the mental damages from the loss of hometowns caused by the accident. The Fukushima court granted compensation to a wide range of people, including residents in areas in Fukushima Prefecture that were not ordered to evacuate by the government, as well as in neighboring Ibaraki Prefecture, for their suffering from anxiety about radiation exposure.
The court rulings differed in their views about certain issues and damages granted.
But they all acknowledged that the government’s guidelines for compensation and TEPCO’s payments based on the guidelines do not adequately reflect the reality of the victims’ suffering.
The government’s Dispute Reconciliation Committee for Nuclear Damage Compensation, which crafted the guidelines, should scrutinize the rulings to determine if the guidelines have any shortcomings or other problems.
The nuclear accident cannot be undone. Obviously, the government and TEPCO are obliged to provide quick and appropriate relief to victims from the viewpoint of people suffering the consequences of the disaster.

October 20, 2017 Posted by | Fukushima 2017 | , | Leave a comment

UN: Japan Violated Human Rights, Fukushima Evacuees Abandoned

“Why should people, especially women and children, have to live in places where the radiation level is 20 times the international limit?” Sonoda said. “The government hasn’t given us an answer.”
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Mitsuko Sonoda’s aunt harvesting rice in her village, which is outside the mandatory evacuation zone, before the disaster.
Fukushima evacuee to tell UN that Japan violated human rights
Mitsuko Sonoda will say evacuees face financial hardship and are being forced to return to homes they believe are unsafe
A nuclear evacuee from Fukushima will claim Japan’s government has violated the human rights of people who fled their homes after the 2011 nuclear disaster, in testimony before the UN in Geneva this week.
Mitsuko Sonoda, who voluntarily left her village with her husband and their 10-year-old son days after three reactors at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant went into meltdown, will tell the UN human rights council that evacuees face financial hardship and are being forced to return to neighbourhoods they believe are still unsafe almost seven years after the disaster.
“We feel abandoned by the Japanese government and society,” Sonoda, who will speak at the council’s pre-session review of Japan on Thursday, told the Guardian.
An estimated 27,000 evacuees who, like Sonoda, were living outside the mandatory evacuation zone when the meltdown occurred, had their housing assistance withdrawn this March, forcing some to consider returning to their former homes despite concerns over radiation levels.
In addition, as the government attempts to rebuild the Fukushima region by reopening decontaminated neighbourhoods that were once no-go areas, tens of thousands of evacuees who were ordered to leave will lose compensation payments and housing assistance in March next year.
The denial of financial aid has left many evacuees facing a near-impossible choice: move back to homes they fear are unsafe, or face more financial hardship as they struggle to build lives elsewhere without state help.
“People should be allowed to choose whether or not to go back to their old homes, and be given the financial means to make that choice,” said Kendra Ulrich, senior global energy campaigner for Greenpeace Japan.
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Sonoda’s son and a friend drinking from a mountain stream before the disaster.
“If they are being put under economic pressure to return, then they are not in a position to make an informed decision. This UN session is about pressuring the Japanese government to do the right thing.”
Evacuees are being encouraged to return to villages and towns near the Fukushima plant despite evidence that some still contain radiation “hot spots”.
In Iitate village, where the evacuation order was lifted this March, much of the surrounding forests remain highly radioactive, although homes, schools and other public buildings have been declared safe as part of an unprecedented decontamination effort.
“You could call places like Iitate an open-air prison,” said Ulrich. “The impact on people’s quality of life will be severe if they move back. Their lives are embedded in forests, yet the environment means they will not be allowed to enter them. Forests are impossible to decontaminate.”
After months of moving around, Sonoda and her family settled in Kyoto for two years, where local authorities provided them with a rent-free apartment. They have been living in her husband’s native England for the past four years.
“We’ve effectively had to evacuate twice,” said Sonoda, who works as a freelance translator and Japanese calligraphy tutor. “My son and I really struggled at first … we didn’t want to leave Japan.”
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Sonoda and her family near her home in Fukushima before the disaster.
Concern over food safety and internal radiation exposure convinced her that she could never return to Fukushima, aside from making short visits to see relatives. “It’s really sad, because my village is such a beautiful place,” she said. “We had a house and had planned to retire there.”
The evacuations have forced families to live apart, while parents struggle to earn enough money to fund their new accommodation and keep up mortgage payments on their abandoned homes.
“Stopping housing support earlier this year was an act of cruelty,” Sonoda said. “Some of my friends had to go back to Fukushima even though they didn’t want to.”
Greenpeace Japan, which is assisting Sonoda, hopes her testimony will be the first step in building international pressure on Japan’s government to continue offering financial help to evacuees and to reconsider its resettlement plan.
It has called on the government to declare Fukushima neighbourhoods unsafe until atmospheric radiation is brought to below one millisievert (mSv) a year, the maximum public exposure limit recommended by the International Commission on Radiological Protection.
While 1 mSv a year remains the government’s long-term target, it is encouraging people to return to areas where radiation levels are below 20 mSv a year, an annual exposure limit that, internationally, applies to nuclear power plant workers.
“Why should people, especially women and children, have to live in places where the radiation level is 20 times the international limit?” Sonoda said. “The government hasn’t given us an answer.”
 
Fukushima evacuees have been abandoned by the Japanese government
Mitsuko Sonoda says Tokyo is violating the human rights of evacuees by pressuring them to return to the area, even though radiation levels remain high following the 2011 nuclear power plant disaster
I used to live in Fukushima with my husband and our child, in a fantastic natural environment with a strong local community. That was until the earthquake and tsunami of March 11, 2011 destroyed coastal communities and killed tens of thousands of people.
The day after it hit, there were constant aftershocks. It gave us another massive scare when the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant exploded. We decided to evacuate to Western Japan to protect our child.
The government raised the level of “acceptable” exposure to the same standard as nuclear workers – 20 times the international public standard. My son was not a nuclear worker, but a little boy, more vulnerable to the effects of radiation than adults.
Like my family, many fled contaminated areas that were below the raised emergency level, but higher than acceptable. We have been labelled “self-evacuees”. We have never received compensation, outside some housing support.
Some of the evacuee children have struggled to adjust to a different environment. They have continued to miss family, friends and old schools, and have been bullied by other children in their new residences. There were even rumours of “contagion”.
Many children also really miss their fathers, who have often stayed in Fukushima for their jobs.
Mothers have silently tackled these difficulties, including health problems in themselves and their children. We have sometimes been labelled neurotic, irrational and overprotective, our worries about radiation dismissed. Divisions and divorce have been common.
All the while, we miss our relatives, friends, old community and the nature we used to live in.
In March, the government lifted evacuation orders, and the housing support for self-evacuees stopped. Citizens were pressured to return to Fukushima. Research said radiation levels still exceeded the government’s long-term goals.
Because evacuation orders have been lifted, Tokyo Electric Power Company will also stop compensation for victims by March 2018. We need this accommodation support to continue any kind of stable life.
Before Fukushima, they said a major accident could not happen. Now they say radiation is not a problem. They say hardly any compensation is needed. Why should we have to return to live in a radioactive area? Nuclear victims don’t seem to have the right to be free from radiation.
I’m travelling to Geneva this week to testify at a pre-session for the UN Human Rights Council’s review of Japan. Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s resettlement policies are violating our human rights. If the Japanese government doesn’t support the nuclear survivors, what’s stopping other countries from doing the same in the future?
Mitsuko Sonoda is a Fukushima nuclear accident survivor and evacuee. She now advocates for the rights of nuclear disaster victims, and is going to the UN Commission for Human Rights with the support of Greenpeace Japan

October 13, 2017 Posted by | Fukushima 2017 | , , | Leave a comment

Voluntary evacuees win compensation over Fukushima nuclear disaster

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FUKUSHIMA — The Oct. 10 ruling by a district court here, in which Tokyo Electric Power Co. (TEPCO) and the Japanese government were ordered to pay plaintiffs in Fukushima and nearby prefectures a total of 500 million yen in damages from the 2011 nuclear disaster, covered those who lived outside evacuation zones, signaling a shift in the compensation system.

Roughly 3,800 plaintiffs brought a suit against the company and the state requesting a total of some 16 billion yen in damages, and of them, the Fukushima District Court ordered payments for some 2,900 people ranging from 10,000 to 360,000 yen per person. The court also recognized the responsibility of the national government in the nuclear disaster, ruling that it jointly pay half of the 500 million yen.

The majority of the plaintiffs in the case lived outside of the evacuation zones and voluntarily left the area following the disaster. Others lived outside of Fukushima Prefecture and were not eligible for receiving compensation from the accident. The decision recognized the right of voluntary evacuees and some in neighboring prefectures to compensation, expanding the scope of those eligible to receive payments.

“This opened up the possibility for anyone to be able to claim damages and receive relief,” the legal group representing the plaintiffs in the case commented.

The number of residents who lived in the same areas as the victorious plaintiffs in Fukushima Prefecture alone exceeded 1.5 million. While the odds of the case being appealed are high, if the court maintains its ruling, it will have an enormous impact on the current compensation system.

Concerning the government’s involvement in the accident, the court decision cited a 2002 long-term assessment concluded by the government’s Headquarters for Earthquake Research Promotion, which predicted that a tsunami caused by a magnitude-8 or higher earthquake was possible along the coast of Fukushima Prefecture. The court pointed out that based on this assessment, the government could have predicted that a 15.7-meter tsunami could hit the power plant just as TEPCO estimated later in 2008, and stated that the government’s inaction to order the utility to prepare tsunami countermeasures by the end of 2002 was “significantly lacking in rationality.”

The standard for the amount of damages to be paid by TEPCO was decided in interim guidelines put in place by the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology’s Dispute Reconciliation Committee for Nuclear Damage Compensation, and a broad distinction in compensation between those living in and nearby evacuation zones and those who chose to evacuate voluntarily was drawn by the end of 2011.

The amount to be paid to those living in the evacuation zones was set at a minimum of 8.5 million yen, but the amount awarded to voluntary evacuees was set at 80,000 yen in principle. Additionally, those living in the Aizu region of Fukushima Prefecture, Ibaraki Prefecture and other areas not directly nearby the reactors were completely excluded from receiving compensation, creating a disparity among evacuees from different regions and leading to numerous litigations.

Because of this, the plaintiffs in the Fukushima case claimed that they, including those living outside the evacuation zones, shared the same worries of having been exposed to radiation. Without claiming individual compensation, the group decided to file the suit for 50,000 yen per month until the radiation levels in the air where each person lived returned to the pre-disaster levels — 0.04 mircosieverts or lower in all cases — regardless of the place of residence of the plaintiff.

Additionally, they divided the regions where the plaintiffs lived in such a way that a total of 35 representatives from each of the areas testified to damages. There are few precedents of this method, such as noise disturbance cases for those living near airports and military bases, but the group decided to adopt the method as it looks to have the state review the conventional compensation system itself.

The Oct. 10 court decision stated that the interim guidelines were merely a yardstick, and that the certification of compensation payments exceeding those guidelines should naturally be allowed, taking one important step forward in restructuring the system.

“Behind those 2,900 plaintiffs who won compensation are all of the victims (of the Fukushima disaster),” said lawyer Yoshio Nagumo, the head of the group’s legal team. He hopes that this case will become an example to lead the reform of the compensation system. However, the amount actually awarded to each person was low.

“The ruling doesn’t accurately reflect the damage suffered,” said Jun Watanabe, another member of the legal team, hinting at the possibility of appealing the ruling. “We’ll fight in order to raise the amount of appropriations even further.”

http://mainichi.jp/english/articles/20171011/p2a/00m/0na/014000c

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October 13, 2017 Posted by | Fukushima 2017 | , , | Leave a comment

TEPCO Held Liable for Fukushima Disaster

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From Majia’s Blog
The Japan Times is reporting that TEPCO was found liable for the Fukushima disaster in a case brought by citizens whose lives were terribly upended by the Daiichi meltdowns and spent fuel pool fire:
Government, Tepco ordered to pay ¥500 million in damages for Fukushima disaster. Kyodo [The Japan Times] https://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2017/10/10/national/crime-legal/court-orders-tepco-government-pay-damages-fukushima-disaster/#.WdzdCjvdnFI
…[in] the second ruling of its kind in a series of group lawsuits filed nationwide. The Fukushima District Court ordered the government and Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings Inc. to pay ¥500 million to about 2,900 of the 3,800 plaintiffs…. In the ruling, presiding Judge Hideki Kanazawa concluded that the government and Tepco are both to blame for failing to take steps to counter the risk of a huge tsunami caused by an earthquake, as they were able to foresee the risk based on an assessment issued in 2002.
TEPCO was responsible in many ways for the Fukushima disaster, but culpability extends beyond this single corporation and the government responsible for its regulation. I’ve explained in my post “nuclear governmentality” that the nuclear apparatus is unified by a set of common logics, technologies, protocols, authorities and value orientations that are global in operation (http://majiasblog.blogspot.com/2017/09/nuclear-governmentality.html).
 
CULPABILITY and LIABILITY
 
Reactors 1 through 5 at the Fukushima Daiichi site were based on General Electric’s Mark I design. This design was declared flawed by two engineers from General Electric who resigned in 1975 after expressing concerns about potential containment failures, particularly in loss of cooling accidents. You can read more here:
Fukushima: Mark 1 nuclear reactor design caused GE scientist to quit in protest. (2011, March 15). ABC the Blotter. Available http://abcnews.go.com/Blotter/fukushima-mark-nuclear-reactor-design-caused-ge-scientist/story?id=13141287
General Electric’s poor reactor design likely contributed to the explosions that occurred at the Daiichi complex. Reactors like the ones that melted down in Fukushima are still operating in the US and elsewhere.
 
 
The nuclear industry is rendered immune from its culpability by limits on liability and by seemingly unconditional governmental support (a finding explained by the “security” logic of nuclear governmentality).
 
 
In Japan, the Atomic Energy Basic Law passed in 1955, the same year the LDP was formed, focused nuclear liability on plant operators (such as TEPCO), thereby absolving designers (e.g., GE). The law allowed for use of nuclear power for energy and created the Japanese Atomic Energy Commission (AEC) and the Japan Atomic Energy Research Institute. It dictated control over fissile materials, measures for patented inventions, and radiation protections.
 
Article 21 of the law dictated compensation for nuclear accidents, although the law has been criticized for not specifying level of governmental responsibility.
 
The government of Japan has ultimately assumed responsibility for TEPCO’s liabilities, although the corporation operates as a stand-in. TEPCO returned to profitability in 2013 having externalized most of its losses in a state-sponsored plan to offload liabilities:
 K. Ohira and M. Fujisaki (31 July 2012) ‘Taxpayers, Electricity Users Finance TEPCO Bailout’, The Asahi Shimbun, http://ajw.asahi.com/article/0311disaster/fukushima/AJ201207310068
TEPCO’s 2016 Annual Report (http://www.tepco.co.jp/en/corpinfo/ir/tool/annual/pdf/ar2016-e.pdf) describes how the company has been dis-assembled into holding companies in its efforts toward renewed profitability.
 
 
 
A rational assessment of cost and benefits must also address the risks posed by nuclear power.  The existence of an international nuclear liability convention points to the potential cataclysmic risks from nuclear power hazareds and demonstrates how decision-makers limit economic liability for the nuclear complex, allowing it to externalize full costs.
 
The Convention on Supplementary Compensation for Nuclear Damage (CSC),[i] limits international liability for nuclear disasters by offering a uniform and limiting set of compensation standards for victims of nuclear disasters in impacted countries not the origin of the disaster. The convention also exonerates manufacturers, placing liability exclusively on operators. 
 
The convention essentially limits only the liability, but not the incalculable risks, from nuclear accidents. The externalities of international nuclear disasters are therefore primarily assumed by the exposed individuals. Although fixed costs and liabilities cannot be provided, it is possible to address actual and potential liabilities and risks from nuclear power.
 
In 2012 Japan expressed interest in joining the CSC after a February visit by U.S. Deputy Secretary of Energy, Daniel Poneman.[ii] During the visit, a Japanese prime ministerial envoy “secretly promised” to Poneman that Japan would resume its pluthermal nuclear program, raising considerable controversy in Japan when leaked because of the dangers of plutonium enriched MOX fuel, as subsequently reported by The Mainichi :
A Japanese prime ministerial envoy secretly promised to the United States that Japan would resume its controversial “pluthermal” program, using light-water reactors to burn plutonium, according to documents obtained by the Mainichi. 
The secret promise was made by Hiroshi Ogushi, then parliamentary secretary of the Cabinet Office, to Daniel Poneman, deputy secretary of the U.S. Department of Energy, during Ogushi’s visit to the United States on behalf of then Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda in September last year. The revelation comes as Japan’s pluthermal project remains suspended in the wake of the Fukushima No. 1 Nuclear Power Plant disaster due to safety concerns. The fact that a Japanese official promised to the U.S. to implement such a controversial project without a prior explanation to the Japanese public is expected to stir up controversy.[iii]
Poneman advocating running Japan’s Rokkasho reprocessing plant, which had drawn safety concerns when, as mentioned previously, Japanese scientists announced finding a potentially active fault running through the site.[iv]
 
At a July 2012 press conference, Poneman implicitly endorsed plutonium-enriched MOX fuel production at Rokkasho as an important tool for reducing climate change and reducing Japan’s excessive plutonium stockpiles:
“Obviously what is done in the long term at Rokkasho is a decision for the Japanese people, the Japanese government to make,” Deputy Energy Secretary Daniel Poneman said during a July 2012 press conference in Tokyo. 
He added that “to the extent that there would be paths forward for Rokkasho” that could avoid increasing Japan’s stockpile of plutonium, “that would be a good thing.” Poneman coupled this, however, with a public pitch for letting Japan use nuclear power to reduce carbon emissions, acknowledging that it is an important tool “for our friends and colleagues in Japan … who are very worried about climate change.”[v] 
MOX fuel increases likelihoods of risks because of the increased heat and radiological contamination produced by its fissioning. Despited acknowledged risks, demonstrated empirically with the explosion at Fukushima Unit 3, Japan’s Atomic Energy Commission endorsed continuing fuel recycling.
 
The Rokkasho plant construction is still underway, although also still delayed, as reported recently here http://fissilematerials.org/blog/2017/10/rokkasho_plant_is_facing_.html
 
Despite this setback, Japan’s Atomic Energy Commission remains a cheerleader for plutonium production at the very troubled Monju reactor, as part of the “national energy mix”:
Associated Press (15 September 2017). Bucking public sentiment, Atomic Energy Commission backs nuclear power for national energy mix (Sep 15, 2017 ) https://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2017/09/15/national/commission-supports-nuclear-power-japans-energy-needs-despite-shift-public-opinion/#.WcE9ucbdnc 
The report also endorsed continuing the government’s ambitious pursuit of a nuclear fuel cycle program based on plutonium, despite a decision last year to scrap the experimental Monju reactor, the centerpiece of its plutonium fuel program, following decades of poor safety and technical problems. Japan faces growing international scrutiny over its plutonium stockpile because the element can be used to make atomic weapons.
Nuclear governmentality, the logic and code of conduct of the nuclear apparatus, operates autopoietically, closed to negative feedback.
 
Individual authorities within this apparatus are rewarded for their role reinforcing and extending nuclear governmentality.
 
Poneman’s role as a nuclear industry advocated was solidified when Poneman left the Department of Energy in 2015 to take on the role of CEO at Centrus Energy, formerly USEC, an enrichment processing facility.
 
The U.S. based Center for Public Integrity noted the nuclear industry’s revolving door relationship with the Department of Energy (DOE), observing that during Poneman’s approximate five year tenure at the DOE he approved or advocated hundreds of millions of dollars in contracts and subsidies to USEC.[vi]
 
U.S. pressure is just part of the big picture at Rokkasho and with nuclear in general in Japan. Nuclear energy and enriched fuel are part of Japan’s national security strategy, as has been publicly acknowledged by LDP representatives. Nuclear power is the gateway to nuclear weapons and rising geopolitical tensions breed anxious warriors. Unwavering support for nuclear power tends to coincide with nuclear-based conceptions of state security. Consequently, the nuclear energy complex is closely coupled in important ways with the military complex….
 
 
REFERENCES
 
[i] T. Nakagawa (3 February 2012) ‘Japan Wants in On Nuclear Accident Compensation Pact’, The Asahi Shimbun, http://ajw.asahi.com/article/behind_news/politics/AJ201202030021, date accessed 5 February 2012.
 
[ii] Ibid.
 
[iii] “Japan made secret promise with U.S. to restart pluthermal nuclear program,” The Mainichi (June 25, 2013): http://mainichi.jp/english/english/newsselect/news/20130625p2a00m0na006000c.htm.
 
[iv] K. Hasegawa ‘Quake Risk at Japan Atomic Recycling Plant’, Pys.Org December 19 2012, http://phys.org/news/2012–12-quake-japan-atomic-recycling-experts.html#jCp, date accessed 25 December 2012.
 
[v] Douglas Birch and R. Jeffrey Smith “Japan’s Well-Placed Nuclear Power Advocates Swat Away Opponents,” NBC (March 12, 2014 ) http://www.nbcnews.com/storyline/fukushima-anniversary/japans-well-placed-nuclear-power-advocates-swat-away-opponents-n50396
 
[vi] Douglas Birch, (2015, May 13) Former Energy Department official wins huge pay raise after moving to firm with deep ties to DOE” Center for Public Integrity (May 13, 2015): http://www.publicintegrity.org/2015/05/13/17265/former-energy-department-official-wins-huge-pay-raise-after-moving-firm-deep-ties.

October 13, 2017 Posted by | Fukushima 2017 | , | Leave a comment

Fukushima District Court finds National Government and Tepco Responsible

The Fukushima District Court ordered the government and Tepco to pay ¥500 million to about 2,900 of the 3,800 plaintiffs, many of whom stayed at their homes in Fukushima Prefecture and elsewhere in the midst of of the world’s worst and ongoing nuclear crises.

3,800 plaintiffs, most of whom were residents of Fukushima Prefecture, sought a total of about 16 billion yen in compensation… Fukushima District Court only awarded 500 million yen ($4.4 million) but their decision puts this on the record: in the ruling, presiding Judge Hideki Kanazawa concluded that the government and Tepco are both to blame for failing to take steps to counter the risk of a huge tsunami caused by an earthquake, as they were able to foresee the risk based on an assessment issued in 2002.

Court orders gov’t, Tepco to pay 500 mil. yen over Fukushima crisis

10 oct 2017 Fukushima court 2900 evacuees compensation 4Lawyers hold banners saying “case won” on Oct. 10, 2017, after the Fukushima District Court recognized that the national government and Tokyo Electric Power Co. (TEPCO) are responsible for compensation to those who lived in Fukushima Prefecture at the time of the nuclear disaster.

 

FUKUSHIMA, Japan (Kyoto) — A district court Tuesday ordered the state and the operator of the Fukushima nuclear plant to pay damages over the 2011 tsunami-triggered disaster, making it the second ruling of its kind in a series of group lawsuits filed nationwide.

The Fukushima District Court ordered the government and Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings Inc. to pay 500 million yen ($4.4 million) to about 2,900 of the 3,800 plaintiffs, many of whom did not evacuate and stayed at their homes in Fukushima and elsewhere in the midst of one of the world’s worst nuclear crises.

In the ruling, Presiding Judge Hideki Kanazawa concluded that the government and Tepco are both to blame for failing to take steps to counter huge tsunami caused by an earthquake, as they were able to foresee the risks based on a quake assessment issued in 2002.

“The government’s inaction in exercising its regulatory authority (to order Tepco to take safety measures) was extremely unreasonable,” the judge said.

The Nuclear Regulation Authority said it will consult with other government offices on whether to appeal the ruling. Tepco also said in a statement, “We will study the content (of the ruling) and consider our response.”

Among some 30 lawsuits filed nationwide by over 10,000 people, three rulings have been handed down so far and two of them — the latest ruling by the Fukushima court and one handed down by the Maebashi District Court in March — recognized that both the state and Tepco are liable for damages.

Only the Chiba District Court dismissed claims against the state. The plaintiffs in the Chiba and Maebashi cases were evacuees, including those who were subject to government evacuation orders and those who had left their homes at their own discretion.

In the case of the Fukushima court, the ruling said the government and Tepco were able to foresee the possibility that the plant could be hit by up to 15.7-meter-high tsunami based on the 2002 quake assessment.

The assessment, made by the government’s earthquake research promotion unit, predicted a 20 percent chance of a magnitude-8 level tsunami-triggering earthquake occurring along the Japan Trench in the Pacific Ocean within 30 years, including the area off Fukushima.

The court noted that the main responsibility for nuclear power plant safety lies with the operator and secondary responsibility with the state.

The plaintiffs who will receive the payments are Fukushima residents who live both in and outside the evacuation zones and some plaintiffs in Ibaraki Prefecture.

The plaintiffs filed the lawsuit seeking monthly compensation of 50,000 yen until the radiation level at their residences return to the pre-crisis level.

They also urged that radiation levels be restored to the levels before the accident, or below 0.04 microsievert per hour, but the court rejected the request.

During the trial, the government and Tepco claimed the quake assessment in question was short of being established knowledge and that the tsunami could not have been foreseen. The government also argued that it only obtained powers to force Tepco to take anti-flooding measures after a legislative change following the disaster.

The magnitude-9.0 earthquake and ensuing tsunami struck northeastern Japan on March 11, 2011, causing multiple meltdowns and hydrogen blasts at the nuclear power plant. Around 55,000 people remained evacuated both within and outside Fukushima Prefecture as of the end of August.

http://mainichi.jp/english/articles/20171010/p2g/00m/0dm/057000c

 

Government, Tepco ordered to pay ¥500 million in damages for Fukushima disaster

10 oct 2017 Fukushima court 2900 evacuees compensation 2.jpgA man speaks on Tuesday in the city of Fukushima during a meeting of victims seeking damages from the government and Tepco over the 3/11 nuclear disaster. Later in the day, the court ruled in their favor.

 

FUKUSHIMA – A court on Tuesday ordered the state and the operator of the crippled Fukushima No. 1 atomic plant to pay a total of about ¥500 million in damages for the 2011 nuclear disaster, the second ruling of its kind in a series of group lawsuits filed nationwide.

The Fukushima District Court ordered the government and Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings Inc. to pay ¥500 million to about 2,900 of the 3,800 plaintiffs, many of whom stayed at their homes in Fukushima Prefecture and elsewhere in the midst of one of the world’s worst nuclear crises.

In the ruling, presiding Judge Hideki Kanazawa concluded that the government and Tepco are both to blame for failing to take steps to counter the risk of a huge tsunami caused by an earthquake, as they were able to foresee the risk based on an assessment issued in 2002.

The government’s inaction in exercising its regulatory authority (to order Tepco to take safety measures) was extremely unreasonable,” Kanazawa said.

The Nuclear Regulation Authority said it will consult with other government offices on whether to appeal the ruling.

Tepco also said it would study the ruling to consider its response.

The plaintiffs, the largest group among around 30 similar suits, filed lawsuits in the wake of the disaster at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear complex, which was triggered by the March 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake and ensuing tsunami that hit the Tohoku coastline.

Among the lawsuits, three rulings have been handed down so far, and two of them — the latest by the Fukushima court and one handed down by the Maebashi District Court in March — found that both the state and Tepco are liable for damages.

In the latest case, the plaintiffs claimed the government should be held liable because it was able to foresee the tsunami based on the 2002 assessment.

In the Fukushima ruling, the judge said the government and Tepco should have been able to foresee the possibility that the plant could be hit by up to 15.7-meter-high tsunami based on the 2002 assessment.

The assessment, made by the government’s Earthquake Research Promotion Unit, predicted a 20 percent chance of a magnitude 8 tsunami-triggering earthquake occurring along the Japan Trench in the Pacific Ocean within 30 years, including the area off Fukushima.

The government and Tepco claimed the assessment was not established knowledge and that the tsunami could not have been foreseen. The government also argued that it only obtained powers to force Tepco to take anti-flooding measures after a legislative change following the disaster.

The plaintiffs also urged restoring the radiation levels in residential areas to levels before the accident. They sought a monthly compensation of ¥50,000 until radiation levels return to the pre-crisis level of 0.04 microsieverts per hour.

The magnitude 9 earthquake and ensuing tsunami devastated parts of the Tohoku region on March 11, 2011, causing multiple meltdowns and hydrogen blasts at the nuclear power plant.

Around 55,000 evacuees were still scattered inside and outside of Fukushima Prefecture as of the end of August.

More than 10,000 people have joined the roughly 30 suits filed at courts across the country.

https://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2017/10/10/national/crime-legal/court-orders-tepco-government-pay-damages-fukushima-disaster

Fukushima court orders TEPCO, state to pay compensation

10 oct 2017 Fukushima court 2900 evacuees compensation.jpgPlaintiffs celebrate the Fukushima District Court’s ruling against the government and TEPCO on Oct. 10.

 

FUKUSHIMA–A court here on Oct. 10 held the government and Tokyo Electric Power Co. responsible for the 2011 Fukushima nuclear disaster and ordered them to pay compensation to about 2,900 evacuees.

The Fukushima District Court, in awarding 500 million yen ($4.4 million) in total damages, acknowledged that the two defendants failed in their responsibility to prevent the triple meltdown at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant, caused by the Great East Japan Earthquake and tsunami that struck in March 2011.

The 3,800 plaintiffs, most of whom were residents of Fukushima Prefecture, had sought a total of about 16 billion yen in compensation, arguing that the nuclear disaster deprived them of their daily lives in their hometowns.

The plaintiffs also demanded TEPCO, operator of the nuclear plant, and the government restore their living environments to pre-disaster levels. The district court turned down that request.

About 30 similar group lawsuits have been filed throughout the country in relation to the nuclear accident.

The Fukushima District Court’s ruling was the third. The Maebashi District Court on March 17 also ruled in favor of the plaintiffs and held both TEPCO and the government responsible.

The Chiba District Court on Sept. 22, however, held only TEPCO accountable for the disaster.

Of the 3,800 plaintiffs in the lawsuit at the Fukushima District Court, about 10 percent were living in areas where government evacuation orders were issued.

Most of the remaining plaintiffs were residents in other parts of Fukushima Prefecture where evacuation orders were not issued. Some of the plaintiffs lived in the neighboring prefectures of Miyagi, Ibaraki and Tochigi.

http://www.asahi.com/ajw/articles/AJ201710100060.html

 

Fukushima residents win $4.5 million payout over nuclear disaster

10 oct 2017 Fukushima court 2900 evacuees compensation 3.jpgLawyers show banners reading “Victory” following the verdict, outside the Fukushima District Court in Fukushima, eastern Japan.

 

TOKYO — A Japanese court on Tuesday ordered the government and the operator of the Fukushima nuclear plant to pay $4.5 million to thousands of area residents and evacuees who were demanding compensation for their livelihoods lost in the 2011 nuclear crisis.

The Fukushima District Court said the government had failed to order Tokyo Electric Power Co. to improve safety measures despite knowing as early as 2002 of a risk of a massive tsunami in the region.
The 3,800 plaintiffs, who sued in 2015, form the largest group among about 30 similar lawsuits involving 12,000 people pending across Japan.

Closely monitored as a measure of government responsibility, Tuesday’s ruling was the second verdict that held the government accountable in the Fukushima meltdowns, increasing hopes for other pending cases.

The court upheld the plaintiffs’ argument that the disaster could have been prevented if the economy and industry ministry had ordered TEPCO to move emergency diesel generators from the basement to higher ground and make the reactor buildings water-tight based on 2002 data that suggested there was a risk of a tsunami as high as 15.7 meters (51 feet).

The court also upheld arguments by the plaintiffs that TEPCO ignored another chance to take safety measures when a government study group warned in 2008 of a major tsunami triggering a power outage at the plant.

The tsunami that swept into the plant on March 11, 2011, knocked out the reactors’ cooling system and destroyed the backup generators that could have kept it running and kept the nuclear fuel stable.

The government and the utility have argued that a tsunami as high as what occurred could not have been anticipated and that the accident was unavoidable.

Nuclear Regulation Authority spokesman Kazuhiro Okuma told reporters that the authority plans to discuss whether to appeal the ruling with other government agencies. He said the regulatory authority is determined to fulfill its duty to strictly examine reactor safety under the new standard based on the lessons learned from the Fukushima accident.

Investigation reports by the government, parliament and private groups have blamed the disaster on TEPCO’s lack of safety culture, as well as collusion between the utility and government regulators that had allowed lax oversight. After the accident, the more independent regulatory system and a stricter safety standard were established.

Tuesday’s ruling dismissed the plaintiffs’ demand that radiation levels in their former neighborhoods be reduced to pre-disaster levels.

TEPCO is still struggling with the plant’s decommissioning, which is expected to take decades.

The ruling followed a decision in March by the Maebashi District Court, which ordered the government and TEPCO to split the 38 million yen ($336,000) compensation to 62 former Fukushima residents in addition to the compensation TEPCO had already paid them. Another ruling last month, however, said only TEPCO should pay 376 million yen ($3.4 million) to nearly 45 former Fukushima residents.

http://nypost.com/2017/10/10/fukushima-residents-win-4-5-million-payout-over-nuclear-disaster/

October 10, 2017 Posted by | Fukushima 2017 | , , | 2 Comments

The Nuclear National Family : The Fukushima disaster exposed fissures in Japanese society that its familial politics tries to paper over

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In the history of nuclear disaster, Fukushima stands out in its singularity. There, two kinds of disasters were intermixed: the earthquake/tsunami, and the nuclear explosion. On March 11, 2011, nature and civilization collapsed in the worst imaginable manner. The first catastrophe was tragic enough—with 15,894 deaths, 6,152 heavy injuries, and 2,561 missing persons (as of March 2016). Then came the radioactive contamination. If it had been just the so-called natural disaster, it might have been possible for us to materialize a paradise built in hell or mutual aid society amid the zone of devastation, hand in hand with its natural resilience. But the second disaster instantaneously deprived us of all power to intervene in the radioactive terrain.

This is a new challenge not only for anti-nuke discourses and movements but also anarchism or anti-authoritarian politics in a broad sense. Interviews with Mari, a Japanese feminist, anti-capitalist activist, and writer, can attest to that. When I first interviewed her, on June 12, 2011, three months after the disaster, an anarchic sensibility was dramatically in evidence. The complexity of people’s emotions—grief (over the losses), fear (of the coming devastation), panic (due to uninformed dread), rage (against nuclear capitalism and the state), and even joy (tied to the possibility of a regime change)—generated an affective power that fueled a wide range of grassroots organizing, from everyday struggles such as do-it-ourselves radiation monitoring and voluntary evacuation, to all sorts of anti-nuke actions, including legal actions against Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO) and the Japanese government.

In the second interview, which took place on July 1, 2016, Mari explains what happened to the affective climate during the time in between. The complexity of the emotions, once collectivized in an ensemble, could have been the strongest weapon for organizing a resistance movement, but by the time of our second interview, they had been overshadowed by the nationalist empathy for the industrial and commercial reconstruction of Fukushima. This is largely due to the conformism that has long dominated Japanese society, wherein the nation is assumed to be a big family ruled by the emperor, to which family, township, municipality, and civil society are deemed subunits. Even the annual Hiroshima commemoration is not totally free from nationalism.

Yet Mari believes that the magnitude of people’s sufferings post-Fukushima sustains the potential of affective politics to decompose this nationalist empathy. To achieve that, however, the struggles must shift their perspective: from shortsighted political goals to aims related to the enduring quality of radiation contamination, both temporally and spatially.

It has been five years since the disaster. How has the situation changed?

It has taken five years for the public to know how criminal the responses of the government have been. In part this has to do with the temporality of the nuclear disaster, which necessitates time for the victims and evacuees to settle in and reflect on their situations. Around 2013, the nuclear disaster was finally acknowledged as a “man-made disaster” by the government. Meanwhile, thanks to journalists’ tireless investigations, the fact was clarified that TEPCO had totally neglected measures to protect against the effects of a tsunami for over 10 to 12 years.

After the earthquake, a tsunami with a 15-meter wave hit the reactors. TEPCO was not unaware of such a possibility. It repeatedly ignored warnings by specialists. In fact, up until four days before the accident, the discussion concerning the need to take measures had gone back and forth between TEPCO and government agencies. The international code for nuclear policy states that it must be prepared for even a situation that may arise once in 10,000 years. TEPCO not only ignored it but also made special efforts to do away with it. Even after the accident, the government has subtly covered up the evasion. All in all, the people realize they have been consistently tricked and deceived by the authorities. It was some independent bloggers, journalists, lawyers, and reporters who strived to reveal all this. With the retrospective revelations, the victims were naturally infuriated. In this sense, the five years have been spent preparing evidence for lawsuits—about 40 cases with over 10,000 plaintiffs. So criminal actions, too, will follow. Although the legal fight has its limitations, this development requires attention.

All in all, the government has done nothing for or even harmed the disaster victims.

In the first place, the government refuses to count the number of—if I may use this term—the refugees. It has to do with its intention not to define who are refugees. The problem is that the category of those who are desperately migrating in fact and the legal category of refugees are not in sync. This is because the Japanese government, if it grasped the actual number, would not be able to deal with it unless it gave up “business as usual.” Therefore, it would rather underestimate the number by refusing to accept the reality. By paying attention only to the forced evacuees, it chooses to ignore the voluntary evacuees from Fukushima, not to mention those from Tokyo, and even treats them like “illegal immigrants.”

Meanwhile, radiation-related illnesses have been increasing, haven’t they?

Yes. Children’s thyroid cancer has evidently increased. Even the government acknowledges it, although adding a strange proviso that more cases may be discovered because of its obsession to nitpick. But we all know that at some point in the future, the government will be forced to admit the reality. So far, it has looked into the situation only in Fukushima but not in adjoining prefectures. So the people have been investigating the cases by themselves; for instance, in Kashiwa City in Chiba Prefecture, there are as many as 173 cases. In addition, leukemia among the nuclear workers has drastically increased. As someone has said, radiation is an ideal poison, because of the difficulty of proving causality in court.

My friends and I, both in and outside Japan, imagined that a radical change would come inevitably. But in five years, the situation is going in the opposite direction, toward the reinforcement of pronuclear and pro-rearmament nationalism. And yet the disaster continues—since March 11, the majority of people have become disaster victims in different ways and degrees. Not only in Fukushima but also Tokyo, an unprecedented number of residents have been and will be affected by radiation. The fact is made more and more invisible, however, buried by inattention. What do you think is creating this situation?

There are many factors on both personal and social levels. Those who live with dangerous contamination don’t want to think about, admit, and confront the fact, though they know it in their subconscious, because acknowledging it would force them to join along with a radical change in all existential dimensions. Reinforcing the denial is the sense of equilibrium that has been socially shared in the postwar period. Among the many things that have been said about catastrophe in the contemporary history of disaster, the most dreadful is the revelation that the seeds of the catastrophe had been embedded in the midst of the everyday life of the highly consumerist society; the possibilities of planetary catastrophe have been so deeply internalized in the high-consumerist and controlled society called Japan. And to say it in reverse, even a catastrophe of this magnitude is quickly absorbed into the everyday process of social reproduction.

When I visit Japan, walk around the city, and watch television, I am shocked by the normalness of consumer life as well as the images of joy in embracing it—of food, technology, culture, and tourism—co-existing with the radioactive contamination. That is to say, tragedy certainly co-exists in various respects. What is the status as well as the features of people’s emotional responses—rage, sorrow, dread, anxiety, and so on?

One thing I can say is this: There are certainly physical losses, such as health, home, family, subsistence, and so forth, but public discourses often emphasize the “loss of home” or “deprived community”—namely, the loss of what cannot be reduced to a monetary value. All in all, these expressions are saying that invisible things that are indispensable for constituting individuals—a place to live and act, mutual relations, and the ways and means of life—are largely destroyed.

What can one do when this happens? There are no formulas to deal with such situations. So people must continue to record what happens, how the situation changes, and how they feel about it. For instance, it took about 20 years for Michiko Ishimure to begin writing her magnum opus Paradise in the Sea of Sorrow, after her engagement with the Minamata mercury poisoning. The power of the novel, which involves real enunciations and events of the victims along with their movement, exists in her persistent documentation and commemoration of the everyday endless purgatory for oceanic lives, animals, children, farmers, fishers, and so on. Only by this strategy of persisting in the unbearable temporality can the events of even an absurdity that refuses interpretation spark resistance from time to time. The Fukushima nuclear disaster, too, is very much an event of temporality and feeling. And our strategy to confront it must be based on collective, persistent recording and memorializing.

In the entirety of social apparatuses, forces are in full gear to make us forget about and nullify all the events around the accident. The coming Tokyo Olympics 2020 is the symbolic machine for a nationwide obliviousness, but in the larger picture, the civilian use of nuclear power has always involved such effects from the outset. Nuclear accidents and the resulting illnesses involve a time lag that does not follow clean-cut regularity, from which oblivion effects are made to develop.

The nuclear disaster doesn’t have an end, and therefore healing by mourning is out of the question at this point. What unites us is rage, which is the basic weapon to organize ourselves to fight against nuclear capitalism and the state. But in the five years after, rage seems to have been replaced by counterparts—apathy and resignation—leading to passive onlooking rather than engagement. Mourning is solidly shared among the earthquake and tsunami victims, who have physically lost homes, families, and means of subsistence. Still, in this case, where the nuclear disaster immediately followed, another spatiotemporal dimension that is unthinkable for us was imposed, spreading like a social cancer and depriving us of any cathartic solution. In the second dimension, mourning is bracketed, because the effects of radioactive pollution are hard to prove as causes. We need time—until an undeniable number of clinical cases appear, probably after 10, 15, or 20 years, and nobody can then deny the effects as data—or the cathartic phase, which involves a full and massive attack against the nuclear regime, won’t come.

At this moment, the cancer patients along with their families focus more on cure than political action—that which can be organized based on a solid causal recognition. For that matter, the victims of Hiroshima and Nagasaki are still fighting for recognition even today, more than 70 years after the bombs. They are still suspended in devastation. All in all, for the struggles against nuclear power, the crux is how we manage to confront the unbearably long temporality, based on observations and recordings of the situational and sensual mutation. Therefore, at this moment in the struggle against radioactive pollution, sorrow and mourning seem to be futile.

What are you going to do from now on?

There are many things to be done. But I believe the basis for all projects is to patiently observe what is going on and listen to people’s voices. It seems to me that what is lacking is the will to see through the event: what it involves, where it leads, what are the effects to whom and what … Generally speaking, perspectives of social and political movements are too shortsighted.

After Fukushima, we saw a dramatic upsurge of the anti-nuke movement for two years. But after the Oi nuclear plant was restarted in spite of the mass direct action to blockade it, the movement quickly stagnated. The ultraconservative Abe administration came into power, realizing the reform of the U.S.– Japan security treaty toward Japan’s militarization. Thereafter it has been doing almost whatever it wants to do. No protest movements and no progressive politics have been able to stop it. Its policies are centered on a kind of shock doctrine and the politics of spectacle that constantly shift its ostensible focus in order to fade from our attention. To fight against this, we should not just respond to its moves but also construct multilayered strategies based on the non-spectacular developments of events—such as the increasing number of people getting sick or refugees having lives like fugitives—that are invisible in the media and incalculable in statistics.

Even before Fukushima, nuclear problems were always made to be obscure, as exemplified by the issues of nuclear workers and radioactive contamination. As analyzed in the inspiring book by Olga Kuchinskaya, The Politics of Invisibility, on the political situation after Chernobyl, nuclear politics is based on invisibility instead of open debate on scientific truth. In Japan, various safety standards have been set and reset after Fukushima, which have nothing to do with scientific consideration but are pure political decisions made tacitly for the benefit of nuclear industries.

How would you describe the situation people face in Japan after Fukushima?

A phrase from the book Voices From Chernobyl by Svetlana Alexievich speaks to it well:

Something occurred for which we do not yet have a conceptualization, or analogies or experience, something to which our vision and hearing, even our vocabulary, is not adapted. Our entire inner instrument is tuned to see, hear or touch. But none of that is possible. In order to comprehend this, humanity must go outside its own limits.

A new history of feeling has begun.

Ungraspability or spatiotemporal indeterminacy exists at the core of nuclear accidents and radioactive contamination. Radioactivity, which is invisible, omnipresent, and everlasting, has come to determine our future. In my adolescence, the so-called no-future thing was in fashion, yet it has now become reality. After Hiroshima and Nagasaki, during Japan’s postwar period, an obsession with apocalyptic imagery—such as in Godzilla, Japan Sinks, and Akira—flourished in mass representation. But I think that to confront the post–Fukushima disaster situation, we need a much longer view: a planetary history. In this sense, I am interested in the recent debates on the Anthropocene.

Political discourses circulating around today’s Japan, including those of the sociopolitical movements, even feminism and anarchism, avoid dealing with the crux of the event. I would see an ultimate potency for emancipation if not healing not in these discourses but instead in the rumors and panics—the fundamental power to awe deriving from people’s dread and rage. This is to initiate our thoughts about what is really troubling or unsound. This is the only basis for resisting the status quo, which is constantly seeking to absorb the endlessly expanding accident. As Yu-Fu Tuan stresses in his Landscape of Fear, a community that has lost the power to fear will perish.

Meanwhile, as evident with the so-called anarchists in today’s Japan, claiming to be an anarchist and confronting a life in anarchy are two different things. Those who grasp people’s autonomous actions after the disaster as anarchy and go along with them anarchistically are limited. According to my observation, I can see anarchist practice in those who have been actively engaged in people’s autonomous projects to deal with irradiation rather than those who have organized a large-scale anti-nuke movement.

I myself am a feminist, but when I see those who take care of the health of their families—or more straightforwardly, “mothers”—struggling so radically, I feel embarrassed to think in the name of feminism. Those people who live the anarchic situation don’t know the -isms such as anarchism, Marxism, and feminism.

I see that in the exploitation of these existences, there exists the political core of the Fukushima dilemma. If so, it is necessary to discover the moment in which to transversally connect these modes and practices of existence. Would that be possible? Is patiently recording and observing radiation and illnesses—or a certain strategy of information and collective intelligence—helpful for that?

That has to be done, but we don’t know how to do that precisely yet. But the problem is that the discursive realm on the Fukushima disaster, including journalism, media, and academia, has proved futile in terms of dealing with the invisible exploitation of these existences. It is a sine qua non to break out of the form of conventional method and thought to tackle the problematic and then share the results widely. This incapacity has revealed the institutional limit of discourses. People point out the power of what’s commonly called the “nuclear village,” the network of pronuclear authorities, stretching out in the central and local governments, bureaucracy, companies, industries, academia, and media, which constantly discredits and incapacitates the spreading and exchange of critical information. But according to my observation, a village-like network where all anomalies are immediately silenced or ejected entraps all realms of political and intellectual practice in Japan even before the conspiratorial operations of the nuclear village.

I value the work of some independent bloggers, researchers, and journalists who dedicate themselves to analyzing what is happening. But I feel the need of more collaborative efforts toward building a collective intelligence and information-sharing network to fight against the pronuclear status quo. It is necessary to analyze the present situation, involving the incapacitated sociopolitical movements and the complexity of sovereign power. We need, to repeat, patient observation and sharp analysis. If we can share them, we can rise up for rebellion, together with nuclear workers and care workers. Trusting the potency of the people and sharing information and analysis would be the best means of organizing. It goes without saying that demonstrating and campaigning for election are far from enough. What’s necessary is less about stronger protests than a rebellion on wider, existential dimensions.

For a year or two after 3/11, the majority experienced the state of anarchy with fissures running across the social space and everyday life. People were enraged, feeling ferocious, with a desperate need to exert justice. The defeat of the movement was due to the organizers who could not tolerate the state of anarchy beyond their control. They could not deal with people’s power to live, grudge, rage, and panic. They sought to direct the mass impetus toward a well-mannered organization, a civil institution, with enlightened attitudes on politics and science. This was responsible for the stagnation today.

Now it is evident that the waste from the melted core of the Fukushima Daiichi reactors cannot be removed. This has long been known, but now it is being revealed bit by bit by the authority. But the people don’t seem to be infuriated any longer. “Oh, we had known it”—this sense of déjà connu seems to prevail among the public. This is the scariest thing. This is precisely the extension of the mechanism inherent in nuclear power that Günther Anders (1902–92), a German philosopher and antinuke activist, pointed out in terms of “apocalyptic blindness” [Apocalypse-Blindheit]. So it is necessary for us to be shocked, to fear anew. My hope is then to be enraged together—more than ever.

https://thenewinquiry.com/the-nuclear-national-family/

October 10, 2017 Posted by | Fukushima 2017 | , , | Leave a comment

Learning from Fukushima

9781760461393-b-thumb-fukushima.jpg

 

Edited by:

ISBN (print): 9781760461393

ISBN (online): 9781760461409

Publication date: September 2017

Imprint: ANU Press

DOI: 

http://dx.doi.org/10.22459/LF.09.2017

Disciplines:

Learning from Fukushima began as a project to respond in a helpful way to the March 2011 triple disaster (earthquake, tsunami, and nuclear meltdown) in north-eastern Japan. It evolved into a collaborative and comprehensive investigation of whether nuclear power was a realistic energy option for East Asia, especially for the 10 member-countries of ASEAN, none of which currently has an operational nuclear power plant. We address all the questions that a country must ask in considering the possibility of nuclear power, including cost of construction, staffing, regulation and liability, decommissioning, disposal of nuclear waste, and the impact on climate change. The authors are physicists, engineers, biologists, a public health physician, and international relations specialists. Each author presents the results of their work.

http://press.anu.edu.au/publications/learning-fukushima

Download for free : http://press.anu.edu.au/node/3873/download

October 10, 2017 Posted by | Fukushima 2017 | , , | Leave a comment

Fukushima after six years and half: the forgotten victims

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In June 2011 I went to visit my daughter in Iwaki city, Fukushima prefecture, 3 months after the March 2011 disaster, worried about her situation there after the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant accident. Iwaki city is located 43.35 km (26.94 miles) south of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant. I stayed there one month.

Prior to my going to Iwaki, I stopped at the French embassy in Tokyo, to ask them some information about the situation in Fukushima and what measures I could take to protect myself from radiation.

The French embassy informed me that the situation was now under control, but that going there I should as a precaution take a 130 milligram potassium iodine tablet 4 hours before entering Fukushima prefecture.

The French embassy staff giving me one potassium iodine tablet from French army supplies. When I asked to them how long that tablet would protect me, telling them that I would stay there one month, they were out of words for a moment, then decided after all to give me 2 tablets. Somehow their words and their two tablets failed to reassure me.

The house of my relatives, closed to the seaside, had been hit by the Tsunami and had suffered heavy damages, causing them to relocate for the time being in another part of Iwaki city, more inland, at a relative house. Luckily no one had been injured by the tsunami as they were all away from home in town when the tsunami hit their house.

Unable to stay at the already overcrowded relative house, I had to look for an hotel where to stay. No easy, all the hotels in Iwaki city were occupied by Tepco technicians brought from outside Fukushima prefecture after the nuclear accident. I had hard time to find a vacant room. I finally found a small hotel with a vacant room. Everyday I would see the Tepco uniformed technicians returning to the hotel after their shift from the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant exhausted, ashen faced and silent.

During that month talking with my relatives and others on location I learned that the people on location actually knew very little about what had happened inside the nuclear plant before and what was happening at that time. Tepco was giving very little information and the media wanting only to reassure was also not giving details about the nuclear accident.

Therefore the people directly affected and at risk knew practically nothing, as if an official wall of silence was withholding the needed informations from them, keeping them ignorant of the facts.

I also found that people were quite unaware of the consequences of radiation and the measures they should take to protect themselves. In that situation, I found that I was also myself quite ignorant about these things, as radiation and radioprotection were not part of the French school education program.

During my stay I avoided eating green leafy vegetables and seafood, following the advice given to me by the French embassy, therefore eating usually Fukushima beef, to learn later upon my return in France, that the beef had been also contaminated as those cows had been fed Fukushima contaminated hay.

Upon my return in France, I found that the French media were equally silent about the nuclear accident in Fukushima, pretending that the accident had already ended in March 2011 and that everything was back to normal and under control. Somehow I felt that in France too, information about the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear accident was withhold, not surprising in a country so nuclearized, and where nuclear is not owned by a private company but by the State.

Faced with the lack of information, I decided to search on the internet about nuclear technology and its past nuclear accidents, about the consequences of exposure to radiation and possible remediations.

Though I had opened a Facebook account in 2008 I had never used it. End of June 2011 I started using Facebook to communicate about the ongoing Fukushima disaster, with three goals in mind:

1. To use this social network as a mean to break the wall of silence with which I had been confronted.

2. To provide to the people of Japan the information which was not been given to them by their government.

3. To raise awareness in the international community about the plight of the Fukushima people.

So as to reach as many people as possible and to be understood, it had to be done in English and not in French, my mother tongue.

I started in 2011 a Facebook group and a Facebook community page named Fukushima 311 Watchdogs, focused on the Fukushima disaster. The first year was very intense, as at the same time I was educating myself about nuclear, about the current situation in Fukushima day by day, and how to best use Facebook in reaching people. In that first year many of us got burned out and depressed, dealing everyday with the more bad news and the repeated lies coming from Tepco and the Japanese government.

In June 2012, I closed the Fukushima 311 Watchdogs Facebook group, to take a short break, then started a new Facebook group, The Rainbow Warriors, which would still deal about Fukushima and nuclear, but also about the other issues.


Rainbow Warriors is a proactive citizens group fighting against nuclear power and nuclear weapons and their production (the front and back end of the nuclear chain) and the widespread radiation that they produce and emit into the environment including the mining of uranium, and the dangerous unsafe storage of the nuclear waste they produce, actively networking, dedicated to creating a nuclear free world by working for the immediate shutdown of all nuclear power reactors and for an international ban of all nuclear weapons.
Committed to promoting the development and implementation of abundant, cost effective, safe energy from sun, wind, water, and geothermal sources, as well as instituting well-known methods of conservation and efficiency, which have been shown to be capable of meeting all our energy needs.
Additionally, members of this group are joining in the fight against anything that pollutes or that endangers our Earth and our lives by promoting clean alternative energy sources and healthful and natural practices in day to day living.
In this group, we address the burdens modern “civilization” is placing on us, as well as the earth and all its inhabitants. We are here on FB to share informations, but our main goal is to inspire our members to build their own local collective actions to fight the modern evils that we are adressing here, like some of us are doing, and to participate in such national and international actions.

First I encountered the lies of Tepco and the complicity of the Japanese media not bringing the facts out, soon replaced by a massive campaign of disinformation orchestrated by Dentsu (the largest advertising and public relations company in Japan) paid by the Japanese government to deny the existing health risks, always minimizing and twisting the facts, to reassure the population..

Most of the Japanese public, brainwashed to believe the repeated lies of the media lacks empathy and solidarity towards the Fukushima people; and Japanese antinuclear activists have been more focused on keeping the nuclear plants from being restarted than to organize concrete help for the Fukushima victims.

Antinuclear activists abroad are more concerned about closing nuclear plants at home than about the victims of the far-away Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant; interested in the Fukushima Daiichi disaster to the extent that it would serve their own local cause, the human tragedy taking place on location not their primary concern.

I believe that to focus on the technical aspects of the ongoing Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster while ignoring the human tragedy is not to fully grasp the enormity of the situation. The nuclear plant technical aspects should never be our primary concern. We should not give all our attention to the guilty party to the detriment of its victims. We all do know that once started, this triple meltdown disaster will be ongoing for generations.

Especially as the Tepco drama is played out for us step by step under the guidance of Dentsu, a professional PR and advertising company, in a manner to render it more acceptable to the public. Tepco always gives us a sanitized version which leaves out the most essential details, details which come out only after time.

TEPCO and the decommissioning authorities reported on the ongoing delays at Fukushima Daiichi, that units 1-3 have each run into challenges that have further delayed work towards stabilization.

Various delays will push much of the major work until after the Olympic games in Tokyo. There is speculation this is by design for political reasons.

in March 2015, the chief of the Fukushima nuclear power plant, Akira Ono admitted that the technology needed to decommission three melted-down reactors does not exist, and he had no idea how it will be developed.

In a stark reminder of the challenge facing the Japanese authorities, Akira Ono conceded that the stated goal of decommissioning the plant by 2051 may be impossible without a giant technological leap.

For me the victims on location, those forced to live with the consequences of that ongoing disaster should always be our primary concern. Their voices should be heard by all, as only their testimonies will reveal to us the full extent of the human tragedy caused by a nuclear disaster, a disaster sparing no one and touching every aspect of their lives. Only they can teach us what could happen to us tomorrow should a similar event occur in our own backyard, especially as most people continue to believe the fallacy that it could never happen to them: the lies, the shallow excuses, the media manipulations of public opinion, the nuclear plant owner and the government only intent on minimizing their financial liabilities, and an international nuclear lobby always active to deny and minimize the severity of the disaster, how the local people will be largely left alone to shoulder the burden while the others manipulated by the media will ignore the reality of their plight.

I only feel disgust and anger towards those who sensationalize the Fukushima tragedy into fear porn on Youtube, blogs and Facebook just to grab attention for personal glory and/or financial gains.

Why is our attention so diverted from the most essential: the victims on location. Why is that information so minimized as to be almost non-existent?

My main purpose in sharing information about Fukushima, was to draw the attention of the public at large about the plight of the Fukushima nuclear disaster victims, to help as I can make their voices heard, to raise international sympathy and possible support for them.

6 years and half later, I feel that I have failed. General lack of empathy prevails. As long as we will not learn from the nuclear victims themselves and let their voices be heard, the game of let’s pretend and deny will continue, and we will fail to end nuclear, and more nuclear disasters will continue to occur.

I have therefore decided to step back, to begin a new chapter in my life.

Before to turn the page, I would like to give thanks to all those I have been fortunate enough to meet, to work with, to get to know, those who have consistently shown dedication and humility, those of you who have had always the Fukushima people’s welfare at heart.

Best wishes,

D’un Renard (Hervé Courtois)

October 5, 2017 Posted by | Fukushima 2017 | , | 3 Comments

Govt to aid disaster-hit areas in Olympic exchanges to publicize their reconstruction

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Ahead of the 2020 Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics, the government plans to create a “reconstruction host town” program to promote exchanges between countries and territories participating in the Olympics and Paralympics and areas affected by the 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake, it has been learned.

According to informed sources, the government aims to register all 127 municipalities in the three disaster-hit prefectures of Iwate, Miyagi and Fukushima as reconstruction host towns. The new program aims to boost efforts to involve disaster-hit areas in the Games and spread information on disaster reconstruction to the world, the sources said. It is also expected to enhance the image of the “reconstruction Olympics,” as the concept currently lacks concrete measures.

Registration for host towns for the upcoming Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics began in January last year. The government will also create a separate “reconstruction host town program.” Under the new program, all applying municipalities will be registered as reconstruction host towns, in principle, according to the sources. Additionally, the government will dispatch officials from the Cabinet Secretariat and other bodies as needed. The officials will fully support cooperation between municipalities and government ministries, agencies and the Olympic organizing committee, while connecting the municipalities with countries participating in the Olympics and Paralympics. The government might also invite Olympic and Paralympic athletes to tour disaster-hit areas after the Games, with the hope that they will spread information about the areas’ current circumstances.

The current host town program provides financial support to municipalities so they can organize exchange activities with participating countries and territories. The program is modeled on the 1998 Nagano Winter Olympics’s One School, One Country program, in which a country or a territory participating in the Games was paired with a school that would cheer on the country or the territory during events. As of Sept. 14, 252 municipalities across the country are registered as host towns and have launched exchanges with 74 countries and territories in total.

In the three disaster-hit prefectures, Morioka has registered as a host town for Canada, inviting the country to hold Olympic training camps for sport climbing and other events. Iwaki, Fukushima Prefecture, a host town for Samoa, plans to hold a dance festival featuring Pacific nations. However, municipalities affected by the disaster have prioritized reconstruction projects, so only 10 municipalities from disaster-hit prefectures have registered as host towns.

Municipalities registered as host towns can implement sports and cultural exchange programs with partner countries and territories for the duration of the Games, with half of the project costs covered by special tax grants from the government. Municipalities can host training camps by becoming host towns, and can receive government subsidies for renovating athletic facilities.

We are considering additional preferential measures for them,” a senior government official said of the new reconstruction host towns.

In the 2002 FIFA World Cup, which was cohosted by Japan and South Korea, Nakatsue village (now Hita city), Oita Prefecture, hosted the base camp for the Cameroonian national team. The village became famous for its hospitality, which resulted in a massive influx of tourists. Exchanges between the people and Cameroon continue to this day, raising expectations for the host town program to yield similar success.

Reconstruction has been touted as the theme for the upcoming Tokyo Games. However, questions have arisen over how the theme will factor into the Games, with only Miyagi and Fukushima prefectures hosting event venues. Miyagi Prefecture will host preliminary soccer round matches and Fukushima Prefecture will host preliminary softball round matches.

http://the-japan-news.com/news/article/0003945623

October 5, 2017 Posted by | Fukushima 2017 | , , | 3 Comments

Muons suggest location of fuel in unit 3

Some of the fuel in the damaged unit 3 of the Fukushima Daiichi plant has melted and dropped into the primary containment vessel, initial results from using a muon detection system indicate. Part of the fuel, however, is believed to remain in the reactor pressure vessel.

FD3 muon measurements Oct 2 2017)Structures within the reactor building of unit 3 can be seen in images obtained using muon data (Image: Tepco)

 

Muons are high-energy subatomic particles that are created when cosmic rays enter Earth’s upper atmosphere. These particles naturally and harmlessly strike the Earth’s surface at a rate of some 10,000 muons per square meter per minute. Muon tracking devices detect and track these particles as they pass through objects. Subtle changes in the trajectory of the muons as they penetrate materials and change in direction correlate with material density. Nuclear materials such as uranium and plutonium are very dense and are therefore relatively easy to identify. The muon detection system uses the so-called permeation method to measure the muon data.

Tokyo Electric Power Company (Tepco) installed a muon detection system on the first floor of unit 3’s turbine building. Measurements were taken between May and September this year.

Tepco said analysis of muon examinations of the fuel debris shows that most of the fuel has melted and dropped from its original position within the core.

Prior to the 2011 accident, some 160 tonnes of fuel rods and about 15 tonnes of control rods were located within the reactor core of unit 3. The upper and lower parts of the reactor vessel contains about 35 tonnes and 80 tonnes of structures, respectively.

The muon examination indicates that most of the debris – some 160 tonnes – had fallen to the bottom of the reactor pressure vessel and resolidified, with only about 30 tonnes remaining in the reactor core. Tepco said another 90 tonnes of debris remains in the upper part of the vessel.

The bulk of the fuel and structures in the core area dropped to the bottom of the reactor pressure vessel (RPV), Tepco believes. While part of the molten fuel is understood to have then fallen into the primary containment vessel (PCV), “there is a possibility that some fuel debris remains in the bottom of the RPV, though this is uncertain”, the company noted.

Similar muon measurements have already been conducted at units 1 and 2 at Fukushima Daiichi. Measurements taken at unit 1 between February and September 2015 indicated most of the fuel was no longer in the reactor’s core area. Measurements taken between March and July 2016 at unit 2 showed high-density materials, considered to be fuel debris, in the lower area of the RPV. Tepco said that more fuel debris may have fallen into the PCV in unit 3 than in unit 2.

FD1-3 fuel debris - September 2017 - 460 (Tepco)The current understanding of fuel location in units 1-3 (Image: Tepco)

 

Tepco said the results obtained from the muon measurements together with knowledge obtained from internal investigations of the primary containment vessels using remote-controlled robots will help it plan the future removal of fuel debris from the damaged units.

http://www.world-nuclear-news.org/RS-Muons-suggest-location-of-fuel-in-unit-3-0210174.html

October 5, 2017 Posted by | Fukushima 2017 | , , | 1 Comment

Japanese beaches 60 miles away have become major source of radioactivity after Fukushima

beaches contaminated 2 oct 2017Beaches far away from Fukushima are still contaminated, more than six years later

 

Beaches are leaching highly radioactive caesium.

Eight beaches in Japan have been found to have high levels of radioactive caesium from the 2011 Fukushima disaster.

The Fukushima Dai-ichi Nuclear Power Plant was struck by a magnitude 9 earthquake on 11 march 2011, causing reactor meltdowns and the release of radioactive matter into the immediate environment. Beaches up to 60 miles away from Fukushima are now a significant source of radioactive caesium released in the accident, a study in the journal PNAS has found.

The radioactive element caesium appears to ‘stick’ to sand in a freshwater environment, washing far away from the site of the meltdown. Once this water mixes with the salty sea water, the caesium is released from the sand, leaching back into the ocean.

“No-one expected that the highest levels of caesium in ocean water today would be found not in the harbour of the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant, but in the groundwater many miles away below the beach sands,” said study author Virginie Sanial of Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution.

The rate of discharge of radioactive caesium from the beaches was on a par with the direct discharge from the power plant itself, the authors say.

“It is as if the sands acted as a ‘sponge’ that was contaminated in 2011 and is only slowly being depleted,” said Ken Buesseler of Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution.

Sanial added: “Only time will slowly remove the caesium from the sands as it naturally decays away and is washed out by seawater.”

Many other coastal nuclear reactors could also spread radioactive material over great distances through this mechanism, the authors say.

“There are 440 operational nuclear reactors in the world, with approximately one-half situated along the coastline,” they observed.

However, the authors stressed that this groundwater was not a source of drinking water hence poses no health hazards to humans.

“No one is either exposed to, or drinks, these waters, and thus public health is not of primary concern here.”

http://www.ibtimes.co.uk/japanese-beaches-60-miles-away-have-become-major-source-radioactivity-after-fukushima-1641570

October 5, 2017 Posted by | Fukushima 2017 | , , | 2 Comments

Scientists find new source of radioactivity from Fukushima disaster

No one is either exposed to, or drinks, these waters, and thus public health is not of primary concern here,” the scientists said in a study published October!!!

29-scientistsfiThe research team sampled eight beaches in Japan within 60 miles of the crippled Fukushima Dai-ichi Nuclear Power Plant and found high levels of radioactive cesium discharged from the 2011 accident in the brackish groundwater beneath the beaches. The cesium did not constitute a public health concern, but it showed how radioactive material can be transported far from accidents sites, where it attaches to and is stored by sand grains. Credit: Souichiro Teriyaki, Kanazawa University

 

Scientists have found a previously unsuspected place where radioactive material from the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant disaster has accumulated—in sands and brackish groundwater beneath beaches up to 60 miles away. The sands took up and retained radioactive cesium originating from the disaster in 2011 and have been slowly releasing it back to the ocean.

“No one is either exposed to, or drinks, these waters, and thus public health is not of primary concern here,” the scientists said in a study published October 2 in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. But “this new and unanticipated pathway for the storage and release of radionuclides to the ocean should be taken into account in the management of coastal areas where nuclear power plants are situated.”

The research team—Virginie Sanial, Ken Buesseler, and Matthew Charette of Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution and Seiya Nagao of Kanazawa University—hypothesize that high levels of radioactive cesium-137 released in 2011 were transported along the coast by ocean currents. Days and weeks after the accident, waves and tides brought the cesium in these highly contaminated waters onto the coast, where cesium became “stuck” to the surfaces of sand grains. Cesium-enriched sand resided on the beaches and in the brackish, slightly salty mixture of fresh water and salt water beneath the beaches.

But in salt water, cesium no longer “sticks” to the sand. So when more recent waves and tides brought in salty seawater from the ocean, the brackish water underneath the beaches became salty enough to release the cesium from the sand, and it was carried back into the ocean.

“No one expected that the highest levels of cesium in ocean water today would be found not in the harbor of the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant, but in the groundwater many miles away below the beach sands,” said Sanial.

The scientists estimated that the amount of contaminated water flowing into the ocean from this brackish groundwater source below the sandy beaches is as large as the input from two other known sources: ongoing releases and runoff from the nuclear power plant site itself, and outflow from rivers that continue to carry cesium from the fallout on land in 2011 to the ocean on river-borne particles. All three of these ongoing sources are thousands of times smaller today compared with the days immediately after the disaster in 2011.

30-scientistsfi
The new study revealed a previously unsuspected pathway for radioactive material to be transported, stored for years, and subsequently released far from the site where it was initially discharged. Credit: Natalie Renier, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution

 

The team sampled eight beaches within 60 miles of the crippled Fukushima Dai-ichi Nuclear Power Plant between 2013 and 2016. They plunged 3- to 7-foot-long tubes into the sand, pumped up underlying groundwater, and analyzed its cesium-137 content. The cesium levels in the groundwater were up to 10 times higher than the levels found in seawater within the harbor of the nuclear power plant itself. In addition, the total amount of cesium retained more than 3 feet deep in the sands is higher than what is found in sediments on the seafloor offshore of the beaches.

Cesium has a long half-life and persists in the environment. In their analyses of the beaches, the scientists detected not only cesium-137, which may have come from the Dai-ichi plant or from nuclear weapons tested in the 1950s and1960s, but also cesium-134, a radioactive form of cesium that can only come only from the 2011 Fukushima accident.

The researchers also conducted experiments on Japanese beach samples in the lab to demonstrate that cesium did indeed “stick” to sand grains and then lost their “stickiness” when they were flushed with salt water.

“It is as if the sands acted as a ‘sponge’ that was contaminated in 2011 and is only slowly being depleted,” said Buesseler.

“Only time will slowly remove the cesium from the sands as it naturally decays away and is washed out by seawater,” said Sanial.

“There are 440 operational nuclear reactors in the world, with approximately one-half situated along the coastline,” the study’s authors wrote. So this previously unknown, ongoing, and persistent source of contamination to coastal oceans “needs to be considered in nuclear power plant monitoring and scenarios involving future accidents.”

More information: Virginie Sanial el al., “Unexpected source of Fukushima-derived radiocesium to the coastal ocean of Japan,” PNAS (2017). www.pnas.org/cgi/doi/10.1073/pnas.1708659114

https://phys.org/news/2017-10-scientists-source-radioactivity-fukushima-disaster.html

October 3, 2017 Posted by | Fukushima 2017 | , , | 1 Comment