A photo capturing contaminated water at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant, which was taken by a robot on March 21, 2017.
Tokyo Electric Power Co. (TEPCO) failed to locate melted nuclear fuel inside the No. 1 reactor at the disaster-stricken Fukushima No. 1 Nuclear Power Plant in a robot probe, though it found higher levels of radiation toward the bottom of the reactor container vessel, the utility said on March 27.
TEPCO made the announcement after analyzing data obtained from a probe conducted from March 18 through 22, in which a remotely controlled robot was sent into the No. 1 reactor’s container vessel for research.
The power company is set to finalize a decision to take out melted fuel from the No. 1 through No. 3 reactors as early as this coming summer, accelerating work to decommission the facilities. Like a similar robot probe inside the No. 2 reactor last month, however, the latest survey on the No. 1 reactor also failed to obtain data necessary to extract melted fuel, such as where the fuel is located. Therefore, the utility is compelled to consider fetching melted fuel in the absence of sufficient data.
TEPCO injected a robot that can move on a running belt into the container vessel of the No. 1 reactor. The robot hung a wire holding a camera and a dosimeter at its tip from a metal grating for workers and measured the condition of the contaminated water below. From March 18 to 22, the robot examined an area near a slot from which the device is injected into the vessel and measured 1.5 to 11 sieverts per hour of radiation. Between March 20 and 22, the robot explored an area around the openings for workers at the bottom of the container vessel, which is close where melted fuel is believed to be situated, and detected measurements of 3 to 9.4 sieverts of radiation.
Sand-like sediment was found to be spreading across the bottom of the container vessel. Because of accumulated sediment near the openings, the robot could gauge radiation doses only up to a height of 90 centimeters from the bottom of the vessel. Compared to the radiation levels at the same height of an area where melted fuel is believed not to exist, the area near the openings showed higher radiation readings.
It is believed that most of the melted fuel at the No. 1 reactor has spread across the contaminated water accumulating at the bottom of its container vessel. TEPCO believes that melted fuel is likely leaking from those openings.
Naohiro Masuda, head of TEPCO’s Fukushima Daiichi Decontamination & Decommissioning Engineering Co., told a press conference on March 7, “The results of this probe will be precious resources for us to make a decision on our plan.”
New video from inside a crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear reactor shows possible melted fuel.
This paper focuses on the radioactive Cs in seawater and summarizes estimates of the total amount of released radioactive Cs from the FNPP site, spatio–temporal changes in the concentrations of 134Cs and 137Cs not only off the coast of Fukushima and adjacent prefectures, but also in the North Pacific, and adjacent seas such as Japan Sea, East China Sea, based on measurement results and simulation models published during 4 years since the FNPP accident.
14 decembre 2016
Oceanic dispersion of Fukushima-derived radioactive cesium: a review
This review summarizes the more than 70 papers published during the 4 years since the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant accident that occurred on 11 March 2011, and details the radioactive cesium dispersion pattern in the North Pacific and adjacent seas. The total amount of Fukushima-derived radioactive cesium released into the North Pacific via atmospheric deposition and direct release, spatial and temporal changes in the Pacific coast around the accident site, and the concentration levels of radioactive cesium around the Japanese Islands, not only the Pacific coast but also in adjacent seas, such as Japan Sea, East China Sea are summarized. Based on observational data mostly obtained during 2 years since the accident, and simulation results, oceanic dispersion of radioactive cesium in the entire area of the North Pacific is described. The Fukushima-derived radioactive cesium dispersed eastward as surface water and extended to the eastern side of the North Pacific in 2014, and was also observed via a southward intrusion to subsurface waters as Subtropical Mode Water and Central Mode Water. The radioactive cesium movement related to mode water is important in terms of the circulation of cesium into the ocean interior. Some new technologies and techniques concerning emergency monitoring of radioactivity in the ocean environment are also reported, the effectiveness of which has been demonstrated by use in relation to the Fukushima accident.
On 11 March 2011, the Great East Japan Earthquake (Mw 9.0) occurred at the plate boundary off the coast of Tohoku, northeastern Japan. A huge tsunami was generated and caused 15 729 fatalities and 4539 missing in the Hokkaido, Tohoku and Kanto regions (The National Police Agency, as of 24 August 2011). Preliminary surveys reported tsunami waves with run-up heights exceeding 30 m (Mori et al., 2011). The tsunami also hit the Fukushima Dai-ichi Nuclear Power Plant (FNPP) sites located at 37˚25’N, 141˚02’E, and a loss of electric power at FNPP resulted in overheated reactors and hydrogen explosions. Radioactive materials were then released into the ocean through atmospheric fallout (such as aerosols and precipitation) and as direct releases (controlled releases related to safety issues at FNPP) as well as uncontrolled leaking of the heavily contaminated coolant water (Buesseler et al., 2011; Chino et al., 2011; Takemura et al., 2011). This accidental release of anthropogenic radionuclides (mostly iodine-131, cesium-134 and -137; 131I, 134Cs and 137Cs) resulted in severe elevations of these radionuclides in fisheries products in the coastal areas of Fukushima and adjacent prefectures (Buesseler, 2012; Yoshida and Kanda, 2012; Wada et al., 2013; Nakata and Sugisaki, 2015). Owing to its relatively long half-life (2.07 years for 134Cs and 30.07 years for 137Cs), the evaluation of these radioactive Cs isotopes in the marine environment is important for addressing risks to both marine ecosystems and public health through consumption of fisheries products. Generally, cesium is a conservative element and mostly occurs in the dissolved phase in the marine environment. The concentration of radioactive cesium in marine organisms is strongly affected by its concentration in the surrounding seawater. Actually, temporal changes in radioactive Cs concentrations of many pelagic fish species in the near coastal area off Fukushima and adjacent prefectures were associated with those in seawater after the FNPP accident (e.g., Wada et al., 2013; Takagi et al., 2015; Morita et al., unpublished data). Kaeriyama et al. (2015) and Morita et al. unpublished data revealed the time-lagged temporal changes in radioactive Cs in organisms (zooplankton and Pacific saury) and seawater under non-steady-state conditions after the FNPP accident, and showed that the concentration ratios in these organisms had been elevated when compared with those before the FNPP accident. With regard to zooplankton, Baumann et al. (2015) discussed the possible uptake of Fukushima-derived radioactive Cs from phytoplankton dominated suspended particles. As a consequence, radioactive Cs would be transferred to the higher trophic level not only via surrounding seawater but also by prey-predator interactions in the pelagic ecosystem. Shigenobu et al. (2014) reported the radioactive Cs concentrations of fat greenling (Hexagrammos otakii) caught off the coast of Fukushima Prefecture, and reported two outlier specimens caught in August 2012 and May 2013 which had ambiguously high 137Cs concentrations of more than 1000 Bq/kg-wet. Probability analysis indicated that the two outlier fat greenlings had migrated from the port of FNPP. In the port of FNPP, extremely high 137Cs concentrations were reported from Japanese rockfish (Sebastes cheni), brown hakeling (Physiculus maximowiczi) and fat greenling (H. otakii) caught during January and February 2013 (Fujimoto et al., 2015). The maximum concentration of 137Cs (129 kBq/kg-wet) was detected from fat greenlings. Wada et al. (2013) with the corrigendum (Wada et al., 2014) summarized the monitoring results of radioactive Cs concentrations in fisheries products from Fukushima Prefecture and revealed time-series trends. Clear trends include a slower decrease of radioactive Cs in demersal fish compared to pelagic fish as well as spatial heterogeneity; specimens sampled in the area south of FNPP tended to have higher concentrations of radioactive Cs than those caught in the area north of FNPP. Sohtome et al. (2014) reported the time-course trends in concentration of radioactive Cs in invertebrates in the coastal benthic food web near the FNPP. The difference in decreasing trends observed within the organisms and the concentrations of radioactive Cs in some of the sea urchins (Echinocardium cordatum and Glyptocidaris crenularis) were clearly affected by the contaminated sediments taken into their digestive tract.
This paper focuses on the radioactive Cs in seawater and summarizes estimates of the total amount of released radioactive Cs from the FNPP site, spatio–temporal changes in the concentrations of 134Cs and 137Cs not only off the coast of Fukushima and adjacent prefectures, but also in the North Pacific, and adjacent seas such as Japan Sea, East China Sea, based on measurement results and simulation models published during 4 years since the FNPP accident.
Total Amount of FNPP–Released Radioactive Cesium
Information on the total amount of the FNPP-released radioactive Cs into the North Pacific is critical information to enable effective monitoring and resource management. However, despite its importance, estimation of atmospheric deposition is complex due to lack of the observational data in the oceanic environment. The activity ratios of 134Cs/137Cs, decay corrected to March–April 2011, were reported to be almost 1.0 for the entire North Pacific (e.g., Buesseler et al., 2011, 2012; Kaeriyama et al., 2014). This ratio means an equivalent amount of 134Cs and 137Cs was released into the ocean. Under the limitation of data concerning not only the amount of radioactive Cs in aerosols but also on precipitation in the North Pacific, estimation of atmospheric deposition remains a source of considerable uncertainty (5–15 PBq of 134Cs and 137Cs; 1 PBq = 1015 Bq, Table 1). In contrast, the direct release of radioactive Cs (134Cs and 137Cs) into the ocean as uncontrolled leaking of the heavily contaminated coolant water is well estimated as approximating the value of 3.5 PBq, with the exception of Bailly du Bois et al. (2012) and Charette et al. (2013) (Table 1). Dietze and Kriest (2012) discussed the possible overestimates by Bailly du Bois et al. (2012) as a result of methodological issues. Charette et al. (2013) estimated the direct release inventory from the observational data of radioactive Cs with radium isotopes in May–June 2011, and no atmospheric deposition was assumed. Their estimates of direct releases may be included in the atmospheric deposition. Tsumune et al. (2012) clearly showed that direct releases started on 26 March 2011 using 131I/137Cs activity ratios, which varied much more before 26 March 2011 when the atmospheric deposition was the major source. The most recent estimations have revealed that 3–4 PBq of 134Cs and 137Cs were directly released into the ocean and 12–15 PBq of 134Cs and 137Cs were deposited on the surface seawater in the North Pacific (Aoyama et al., 2015a).
Table 1. Estimated total inventory of 137Cs (PBq) in the North Pacific in 2011
Schematic view of current system: (a) in the North Pacific and (b) around the Japanese Islands. Solid lines indicate surface current and dashed lines indicate the movement of mode waters. FNPP: Fukushima Dai-ichi Nuclear Power Plant; STMW: Subtropical Mode Water; CMW: Central Mode Water. Based on Kumamoto et al. (2014); Oka et al. (2011, 2015); Talley (1993) and Yasuda (2003) [Colour figure can be viewed at wileyonlinelibrary.com].
Columban missionary backs bishops against nuclear industry after harrowing visit to Fukushima clean-up
Evacuated: An evacuee rests in a gymnasium serving as an evacuation centre in Yamagata, Japan, in March 2011. Residents from the vicinity of Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant were sheltered at the gym, as officials and workers struggled to contain the situation at the badly damaged nuclear facility.
A COLUMBAN missionary has witnessed a massive contamination clean-up in the Japanese region surrounding Fukushima, where a 2011 earthquake and tsunami triggered a nuclear power plant meltdown.
Fr Paul McCartin, recently visited the Fukushima region, six years after the nuclear disaster, and ahead of a government evacuation order being lifted at the end of this month, which will allow people to return home.
Arriving by bullet train at the town of Kouriyama, 60km west of Fukushima Number One Nuclear Power Plant, Fr McCartin said the first surprise was the large radiation monitor in front of the station.
“Over the next three days I saw similar monitors in cities, beside country roads and along expressways,” Fr McCartin, the Columban Justice, Peace and the Integrity of Creation co-ordinator in Japan, said.
He has worked in Japan since 1979 and visited the Fukushima last September.
“I had taken face masks but our guides gave us better ones,” he said.
“We were told to make sure we washed our hands and around our mouths before eating.
“I was given a small radiation monitor to wear around my neck.
“Over the two-and-a-half days I was exposed to 8.1 micro Sieverts, an ‘acceptable’ amount.”
The Sievert is a measure of the health effect of low levels of ionising radiation on the human body.
As Fr McCartin drove through the Fukushima countryside, he found houses barricaded, roads closed and warnings from officials amidst a massive clean-up.
“I was restricted. There were roadblocks with security personnel,” he said.
“I was advised not to hike in Fukushima as there is a lot of radiation in the mountains, especially at the base of mountains as rain washes it down.
“Buildings and roads are being washed down, and contaminated soil and vegetation being removed.”
He said topsoil to a depth of five centimetres was being removed and replaced with soil from unaffected areas.
“There are large collections of industrial waste bags all over the place. There must be hundreds of thousands, if not millions,” he said.
At the end of March, Japan is set to lift evacuation orders for parts of Namie, located 4km from the wrecked Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant, as well as three other towns.
More than half of Namie’s former 21,500 residents have decided not to return.
Namie, and other nearby centres are now ghost towns, dilapidated, and for many, they conjure horrific memories.
Tsunami damage: Facilities near the seawater heat exchanger building at Tokyo Electric Power Company’s Fukushima Daini nuclear power plant Unit 3 reactor on April 2, 2011, days after an earthquake and tsunami hit the area in north-east Japan.
A government survey showed last year, there were lingering concerns over radiation and the safety of the nuclear plant, which is being decommissioned.
Beyond radiation risks, an unexpected nuisance looms – hundreds of wild boars have descended from surrounding hills and forests into the deserted towns.
The creatures have roamed across the radioactive contaminated region.
In Namie, wild boars occupy the empty streets and overgrown backyards foraging for food.
In the nearby town of Tomioka, local hunters have captured an estimated 300 boars.
Following his visit last September, Fr McCartin is concerned about the spread of contaminated material.
“Low-level waste is being recycled,” he said.
“Highly contaminated waste is being burned.
“So far only one per cent of high-level waste has been burned.
“More incinerators are being constructed.
“Contaminated waste is being used in the wall being built along the shore to prevent another tsunami hitting the area.
“In fact, there is so much radioactively contaminated waste that local facilities can’t handle it, so ‘low-level waste’ is being transported to many distant places for disposal.
“Contaminated fishing gear and nets are being disposed of in the town where I live.
“In this way, radiation is being spread to many parts of the country.
“It would seem to make sense to keep it where it is and avoid unnecessarily contaminating the rest of the country.”
Fr McCartin said the Japanese media was muzzled from challenging the government on Fukushima and the hazards of nuclear power.
The efforts of individual journalists reporting on the issue were often dismissed.
“A Catholic in Yokohama told me last year that after his daughter wrote a piece on Fukushima for the newspaper she works for, her boss told her, ‘No more on Fukushima’,” he said.
“The government has threatened to shut down any media organisation that publishes something the government doesn’t like.
“In the last year or so three forthright and prominent media personalities have been sacked or not had their contracts renewed.”
Fr McCartin said he supported a call by Japanese Catholic bishops to abandon the nuclear power industry.
“I believe that if the government transferred a small fraction of the trillions of dollars it throws at the nuclear industry to the renewable energy industry, the country would be awash in safe energy in a very short time,” he said.
Of the 11 municipalities in Fukushima Prefecture which came under evacuation orders after the 2011 Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant meltdowns, five do not have evacuation plans in case a nuclear accident occurs again, even though no-entry orders are gradually being lifted.
The central government requests local municipalities located near nuclear power plants to draw up evacuation plans in case of a nuclear emergency. According to central government policy, local governments should issue immediate evacuation orders to residents living within 5 kilometers of a plant in case of a “full-scale emergency” — situations including the loss of cooling power at nuclear reactors.
As a basic rule, those living between 5 and 30 kilometers from a plant are subject to indoor evacuation, and when a radiation dose of 20 microsieverts per hour is detected, evacuation should be completed within one week. Immediate evacuation is recommended when the dose hits 500 microsieverts per hour.
A representative of the village of Katsurao, whose residents have started moving back, told the Mainichi Shimbun that the municipal government has not created its evacuation plan because “there are only two officials in charge of the matter.” The official added, “We don’t have expert knowledge (about nuclear evacuations) and we can’t handle it with all the other work we have to do. Neither the state nor the Fukushima Prefectural Government is giving us advice.”
An official from the village of Iitate, where the evacuation order will be lifted at the end of March, said in addition to a workforce shortage, “it’s difficult to make a plan before examining how many residents will come back.” The city of Tamura, whose residents have started coming back, and the towns of Futaba and Okuma, where it remains unknown when residents will be able to return, do not have evacuation plans.
Meanwhile, the towns of Namie and Tomioka have mapped out their plans, which take the basic principle of evacuating all townspeople in case of a full-scale emergency — more drastic measure than central government policy requires — saying that just following the state’s evacuation policy will not protect their residents’ safety. Namie Mayor Tamotsu Baba told the Mainichi, “Residents don’t believe they would be safe if they remain inside a building.”
With regard to local evacuation plans, a support team for nuclear accident victims at the Cabinet Office points out that while such plans are not requirement for the state to lift evacuation orders, local governments should prepare disaster prevention measures.
The stricken Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant is different from other nuclear stations in the country as decommissioning work is in progress for all its six reactors. At the same time, a rough road is expected for the project to remove melted fuel, and the estimated hourly radiation dose inside No. 2 reactor is as much as 650 sieverts.
According to an opinion poll by the Reconstruction Agency targeting residents of the city of Tamura, 61.5 percent of those who said they wanted to live in other municipalities than Tamura cited concerns over decommissioning work and management of the nuclear plant as reasons for not wanting to come back.
Hirotada Hirose, professor emeritus at Tokyo Woman’s Christian University and an expert in nuclear disaster prevention, commented, “The condition of melted nuclear fuel (at the Fukushima plant) is unknown and aftershocks are still continuing in Fukushima Prefecture. It’s a problem that evacuation orders are being lifted while local governments have not come up with their evacuation plans.”
Workers move big black plastic bags containing radiated soil. Fukushima prefecture, near Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant.
Soil from the Fukushima prefecture may be used as landfill for the creation of “green areas” in Japan, a government panel has proposed, facing potential public backlash over fears of exposure to residual radiation from the decontaminated earth.
The advisory panel of the Environment Ministry on Monday proposed reusing soil that was contaminated during the Fukushima nuclear meltdown of 2011 as part of future landfills designated for public use, Kyodo news reported.
In its proposal, the environmental panel avoided openly using the word “park” and instead said “green space,” apparently to avoid a premature public outcry, Mainichi Shimbun reported.
Following an inquiry from the news outlet, the Ministry of the Environment clarified that “parks are included in the green space.”
In addition to decontaminating and recycling the tainted earth for new parks, the ministry also stressed the need to create a new organization that will be tasked with gaining public trust about the prospects of such modes of recycling.
To calm immediate public concerns, the panel said the decontaminated soil will be used away from residential areas and will be covered with a separate level of vegetation to meet government guidelines approved last year.
In June last year, the Ministry of the Environment decided to reuse contaminated soil with radioactive cesium concentration between 5,000 to 8,000 becquerels per kilogram for public works such as nationwide roads and tidal banks.
Under these guidelines, which can now be extended to be used for the parks, the tainted soil shall be covered with clean earth, concrete or other materials.
Such a landfill, the government said at the time, will not cause harm to nearby residents as they will suffer exposure less than 0.01 mSv a year after the construction is completed.
The Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant suffered a blackout and subsequent failure of its cooling systems in March 2011, when it was hit by an earthquake and a killer tsunami that knocked out the facility, spewing radiation and forcing 160,000 people to flee their homes. Three of the plant’s six reactors were hit by meltdowns, making the Fukushima nuclear disaster the worst since the Chernobyl catastrophe in 1986.
Gov’t proposes reusing Fukushima’s decontaminated soil on green land
The Environment Ministry on Monday proposed reusing decontaminated soil from disaster-hit Fukushima Prefecture as landfill for parks and green areas.
At a meeting of an advisory panel, the ministry also called for launching a new organization to map out plans on how to gain public understanding about the reuse of decontaminated soil, ministry officials said.
The proposals come at a time when Fukushima Prefecture faces a shortage of soil due to the decontamination work following the 2011 nuclear meltdown.
TEPCO to reshuffle top managers
Some big changes are in store for the boardroom of the company that operates the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant. A planned reshuffle at Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings is aimed at speeding up work at the crippled plant and moving ahead with business reforms.
The government owns a majority of the shares in TEPCO Holdings, giving it effective control. The company faces a decades-long task of decommissioning the melted down reactors and paying compensation.
Sources say government officials are now putting the finishing touches on a plan to replace Chairman Fumio Sudo. Taking his place will be Takashi Kawamura, chairman emeritus of electronics-maker Hitachi.
TEPCO Holdings President Naomi Hirose will become vice chairman and he’s going to focus on efforts to help revitalize Fukushima Prefecture.
Tomoaki Kobayakawa, who heads the group’s retail unit, will be taking over his job.
TEPCO plans to hold a board meeting as early as Friday to formally approve the new lineup.
State taps director Kobayakawa to become Tepco’s next president
The government plans to appoint Tomoaki Kobayakawa, a director on the board of Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings Inc., as president of the nationalized utility, it was learned Sunday.
Kobayakawa, 53, is president of Tepco Energy Partner Inc., a retail subsidiary.
The government plans to have Tepco President Naomi Hirose, 64, step aside to take the post of vice chairman so he can concentrate on decommissioning the disaster-stricken Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant and compensating the people and businesses affected by the March 2011 triple core meltdown, informed sources said.
To replace Tepco Chairman Fumio Sudo, 76, the government has already asked Takashi Kawamura, 77, honorary chairman of Hitachi Ltd.
Tepco plans to adopt the appointments this month. The new management team is expected to be launched after a shareholders meeting in June.
Tepco is expected to invite Shoei Utsuda, 74, who advises trading house Mitsui & Co., and Kazuhiko Toyama, 56-year-old chief executive officer of Industrial Growth Platform Inc., as outside board members.
By revamping Tepco’s top management, the government hopes to speed up its reform mainly through operational realignment that may involve other companies. This is aimed at improving its competitiveness and raising funds to finance the enormous costs of dealing with the man-made nuclear accident triggered by the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami, according to the sources.
The leaders of Tepco’s subsidiaries are also expected to be replaced.
With Kobayakawa at the helm, the holding company plans to rejuvenate its management team and promote rehabilitation under the leadership of Kawamura, who engineered the drastic recovery of Hitachi’s earnings.
The new Tepco team will face the challenge of balancing work to address the consequences of the world’s worst nuclear disaster since Chernobyl and boosting its earnings capacity.
Tepco plans to draw up soon a new business reconstruction program calling for, among other steps, the integration of its electricity transmission and nuclear businesses with other companies.
Of the unknown number of children who have been bullied for being from Fukushima Prefecture, where a nuclear disaster is still ongoing at a power station six years since its outbreak, one boy who evacuated to Yokohama was bullied and extorted by his classmates of 1.5 million yen in total.
Now in his first year of junior high school, the boy wrote when he was in sixth grade, “My classmates said, ‘You get compensation, right?’ That annoyed me, but I was frustrated with myself for not standing up against them.”
Ironically, news reports say that because the family voluntarily evacuated from Fukushima Prefecture, they are not eligible for the high levels of compensation from the operator of the stricken nuclear plant, Tokyo Electric Power Co. (TEPCO), that some victims are entitled to receive.
Those who evacuated from Fukushima Prefecture due to the nuclear crisis can be largely categorized into two groups. The first are those who were forced to leave their homes under evacuation orders from the central government, because they lived in areas where annual cumulative radiation levels exceeded 20 millisieverts, or otherwise faced extenuating circumstances as determined by the state. Such people receive a certain lump sum from TEPCO as compensation.
The second group comprises people who lived in areas with radiation levels that did not prompt government evacuation orders, but who evacuated voluntarily out of concern for the health of themselves and their children. As a general rule, these people are not eligible for compensation from TEPCO.
In the case of forced evacuations, TEPCO conducts individual interviews with evacuees to assess the value of their property and homes. But this is strictly to compensate for the assets that people have lost.
What has often attracted attention but remains commonly misunderstood, is the monthly 100,000 yen per person that evacuees are said to be receiving as compensation for emotional suffering. Those who evacuated without orders to do so from the government are not eligible for this, either.
Meanwhile, the provision of compensation for emotional suffering to state-ordered evacuees whose homes are in areas where evacuation orders are set to be lifted will be stopped in March 2018. Whether or not such evacuees will return to their homes in Fukushima Prefecture once the no-go orders are lifted, they face the harsh reality that they will be cut off from government assistance. The government is rushing to rebuild infrastructure, and appeal to the world that they are lifting evacuation orders. But whether to return or to relocate is a difficult decision, especially for families with children.
People who evacuated from Fukushima Prefecture have not only been exposed to radiation, but to prejudice and misunderstanding regarding compensation that they may or may not have received.
The false rumor that compensation recipients are enjoying the high life from compensation payments has spread. We can’t deny that some probably indulged in the momentary influx of money and bought property or a fancy car. But because of that, the internet has been teeming with rumors that compensation recipients are tax thieves or calls for them to go back where they came from. And there’s no doubt that such a backdrop of online defamation and scandalmongering emboldened the children who bullied the boy in Yokohama.
The truth is, the family of the boy in Yokohama had evacuated Fukushima Prefecture voluntarily. They received a little over 1 million yen from TEPCO, but the parents said in an interview with an NHK new program, Close Up Gendai, that the money was put toward rebuilding their lives. Voluntary evacuees are exempt from paying rent due to the Disaster Relief Act, but many must restart new lives amid unstable finances.
The abovementioned boy moved to Yokohama with his family when he was in second grade. Shortly thereafter, classmates called him by his name, with the word for “germs” added on to the end. He soon found himself the victim of physical abuse such as hitting and kicking, and once he reached fifth grade, classmates demanded he give them money.
“I was so scared I didn’t know what to do,” the boy wrote. He stole from his parents and gave away a total of 1.5 million yen.
His parents, and other parents of children at the school who realized that something was going on, alerted the school. The school conducted an investigation, but took the bullies’ claims that the boy had given them money willingly at face value, and did nothing to remedy the situation for two years.
I, too, only learned the truth about the case just recently, but I believe the school’s misguided judgment was likely based on ignorance and prejudice toward compensation given to Fukushima Prefecture evacuees.
The boy’s mother had been traveling back and forth between Yokohama and Fukushima. He knew how much his parents were struggling, so he remained silent about the bullying.
What moved the case into a new direction were notes the victim had written in the summer of sixth grade. A message calling on bullying victims not to kill themselves also written by the now first-year junior high school student who attends an alternative school, was also released to the public.
Compensation is given to some victims of the Fukushima nuclear disaster. But there is still too little compassion toward and understanding of the various misunderstandings, discrimination and divisions that disaster victims face.
Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings Inc. will delay a decision on whether to seek an end to its state control by about two years to fiscal 2019 amid ballooning costs stemming from the 2011 Fukushima nuclear disaster, an outline of its new business plan showed Wednesday.
The move is another sign the utility is struggling to revive its business even after receiving a capital injection of 1 trillion yen ($9 billion) from the government in 2012 to bolster its financial standing. But disaster cleanup costs have continued to rise, with the latest estimate reaching 22 trillion yen.
Under its latest business turnaround plan, which will be the third major revision since the first one was formulated in 2011, TEPCO aims to realign or integrate its nuclear and power transmission and distribution businesses with other utilities to improve its profitability. But it is uncertain whether business will get back on track as planned, with other utilities cautious about such tie-ups.
Kids say the cruellest things: A girl bullied at school with the taunt ‘You’ve got the radiation!’ (right) sits at her home in Chiba Prefecture, where she moved after fleeing Fukushima Prefecture in the wake of the March 2011 nuclear disaster
Radiation is a fearful thing. Colorless, odorless, undetectable except by special instruments, it’s one of those evils you can dismiss from your mind altogether, until the special instruments start registering. Then suddenly it’s everywhere, or seems to be — a ubiquitous and ineradicable contaminant.
Children, as we all know, say and do the damnedest things. They mean no harm, they just know not what they do, sometimes. Their innocence is terrifying. Sometimes innocence looks anything but innocent. But all societies recognize it.
Children are not legally responsible for their actions. Parents and teachers may punish them in order to teach them responsibility. But it’s a long process. Until it’s complete, the evil they do, when they do evil, gets filed under “mischief,” in recognition of the spirit in which it was — probably — committed.
When Tokyo Electric Power Co.’s Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant cracked under the strain of a tsunami six years ago and irradiated large swaths of Fukushima Prefecture, refugees streamed out of the stricken area, settling where they could. Forty thousand of them remain out-of-prefecture, 5,100 in Tokyo. Most of them will never go home again. Will they ever be at home where they are?
Josei Seven magazine raises the issue of “nuclear bullying.” Children too young, one might think, to even know the word “radiation” picked it up under the circumstances, and flung it with what seems like gleeful malice at disoriented new classmates who had enough to cope with already. Six years on, says Josei Seven, they’re still flinging it.
“It started immediately,” says one refugee, recalling her son’s transfer to a Tokyo elementary school in the immediate aftermath of the disaster. “‘Fukushima kids are weird,’ they’d shout at him. Kids would crawl under his desk and jab his feet with pencils. In the mornings he began saying he wasn’t feeling well. At the time, frankly, I was too traumatized myself to take much notice.”
Lawyer Yukio Yamakawa, director-general of the Tokyo Disaster Support Network, takes up the story with an account of other children he’s spoken to. What starts with name-calling (“Hey, Radioactive!” “Hey, Bacteria!”) easily escalates into what’s hard not to call torture. One kid is forced to drink a bottle of ink. Another has his shoes tossed into the toilet. A third is met in the corridor by classmates poised as if brandishing guns: “Radiation! Bang! Bang!” A fourth suffers extortion of what adds up over time to ¥1.5 million: “You can afford it, your family gets (disaster victim) compensation payments!”
Yamakawa reports this taunt making the rounds: “Fukushima kids won’t live past junior high school anyway, so you may as well die now.”
“Tanaka-san,” as we’ll call the mother cited above, began to fear her son might commit suicide. A poem he wrote contained the line, “Oh, to be able to go to heaven.” Fully focused now, she transferred the boy to another school. The peace that followed was short-lived. Name-calling, exclusion — it started all over again. The homeroom teacher was well-intentioned and put a stop to it — what she could see of it. What went on behind her back was beyond her control. A lot did, its viciousness increasing.
“I’d been bullied myself as a child,” Tanaka says, incidentally reminding us that the problem is neither new nor necessarily nuclear-related. “I understood what he was going through.”
She transferred him again. That seems to have ended the ugliest persecution, but, once a victim, you don’t simply get over it. The boy as a small child had dreamed of being a botanist when he grew up. Now he simply says, “I have no dreams.” Fukushima No. 1 destroyed much that is quantifiable — lives, property, livelihoods — and much that isn’t.
What to make of little kids who inflict this torment on other little kids? Can innocence itself be evil? Or fictitious? One hypothesis Josei Seven raises is that children merely absorb what they hear from their parents. Lacking critical faculties and adult inhibitions, they act where grown-ups merely talk.
The energy and imagination they put into it make it hard not to suspect they enjoy it. Enjoyment of other people’s sufferings is a well-attested human trait, exploited for mass entertainment at least as far back as the Roman circuses. Nothing has happened since to root it out of us, and if radiation stimulates it today, in that respect at least it breaks no new ground.
Naked fear is a factor too. Radiation, unseen, unheard, is the most fearful of stalkers. Might school kids seriously believe their Fukushima classmates are contagious? If so, the rational response would be to stay away from them, but fear and hatred merge, short-circuiting rationality and generating “Radiation, bang, bang!”
Radiation today, tuberculosis a century ago, different causes producing similar effects. Novelist Ayako Miura (1922-1999), herself a sufferer, made what might be called “tuberculosis bullying” a sub-theme of her novel “Shiokari Toge” (Shiokari Pass), set in late-19th-century Hokkaido: “It was an age when sufferers of tuberculosis were so hated and feared that they were even forced to leave the neighborhood.” A character who innocently brings up the subject arouses horror in his listener: “Mr. Nagano, even if you only mention the name of that dreadful disease it makes your lungs rot!”
“Radiation, bang, bang!” Last July a 26-year-old man slipped into a facility for disabled patients in Kanagawa Prefecture and slaughtered 19 of them, his apparent intention being to free the world from the scourge of disability. Disability, bang, bang. In February Satoshi Uematsu was declared fit to stand trial. A psychiatric evaluation found in him symptoms of a personality disorder but not of incapacity to distinguish right from wrong.
The disorder in question, writes psychiatrist Rika Kayama in the weekly Spa!, amounts to an extreme form of self-love. “Of course,” she writes, “we all love ourselves; we all at one time or another fantasize about being king or queen of the world …” We’d all, in short, be insane, more or less, if we let our fantasies rule our actions. Most of us know when to stop.
Uematsu’s self-love, Kayama hypothesizes, took the form of a conviction of having a mission, a destiny to fulfill. Maybe we all have that too, to some degree. Adults usually stifle it. Children often don’t.
FUKUSHIMA–Even after six years, lingering concerns over radiation loom large over the lives of evacuees from a village in northeastern Tohoku ravaged by the Great East Japan Earthquake and nuclear disaster in 2011.
Residents have agonized over whether to return to their homes in the village of Iitate, one of the most heavily contaminated areas, since evacuation orders are to be lifted on March 31.
Masanobu Akaishizawa, 67, head of an administrative district of Iitate, expressed his concerns at a recent symposium held here in mid-February.
“Experts say radiation doses don’t affect us as long as we stay home,” he said. “But I wonder about the quality of my life if I can neither go to the mountains nor the river.”
Iitate was in the direct path of radioactive materials that spewed from the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant, operated by Tokyo Electric Power Co., following the triple meltdown due to the earthquake, tsunami as well as the government and TEPCO’s shortcomings on March 11, 2011.
Ahead of the lifting of the evacuation order for most of the village of Iitate on March 31, researchers and journalists, who have conducted field surveys since immediately after the accident, shared their views on radiation effects on health and avoiding health risks with villagers at the symposium.
The symposium, titled “Think about the future of Iitate villagers,” was hosted by the Iitate-mura Society for Radioecology, which comprises academics and citizens who committed themselves to continue their support for residents through their expertise.
During the session, Tetsuji Imanaka, a researcher at the Kyoto University Research Reactor Institute, estimated the annual average radiation exposure to residents if they immediately return to the area after the evacuation orders are lifted. He put the figure at approximately 5 millisieverts of radiation.
“How can residents come to terms with the health risks caused by radiation exposure? That’s the issue,” Imanaka said.
Katsumi Furitsu, a doctor at the Hyogo College of Medicine, highlighted the government’s responsibility.
Furitsu has conducted research in the areas devastated by the crippled Chernobyl nuclear plant in Ukraine, site of the world’s worst nuclear accident in 1986.
“Low-dose radiation exposure also has health risks in accordance with the amount,” Furitsu said.
“Offering appropriate health management and medical benefits (for the disaster victims who have been exposed to radiation) is the government’s minimum responsibility just like it issued ‘hibakusha’ (A-bomb victims) health books in Hiroshima and Nagasaki,” Furitsu emphasized.
Hibakusha health books have been awarded to those certified by the government as radiation victims of the 1945 atomic bombings, making them eligible for special health-care benefits, including allowing them access to free medical assistance.
Such a book could also become a powerful weapon to force the government to take responsibility for Fukushima evacuees for future damage to their health potentially related to radiation exposure.
Villagers expressed, however, concern that this could lead to possible future discrimination.
“We understand the necessity of issuing the radiation exposure record books to protect victim’s health,” said one resident. “But high school girls have fears and worries about possible future discrimination that is likely to be caused by possessing the books by posing such questions as, “Can we get married?” or “Can we have children?”
In response to those poignant voices from the disaster victims, Furitsu said, “In Hiroshima and Nagasaki, the same concerns were expressed. However, unjustified discrimination occurred not because of the health book, but because those who should take responsibility didn’t take it.”
“The government should take measures that help residents who had been burdened with unnecessary risks,” Furitsu said, referring to such matters as providing health management, medical benefits, education and other activities to raise awareness of discrimination against disaster victims, especially if they have been exposed to low-dose radiation.
Yoshinobu Ito, 73, a farmer who moved to Iitate before the disaster, was especially worried about the risk radiation could have on children when they return to the village.
He released the results of measurements of radiation levels around his house that he has taken since the Fukushima nuclear disaster.
“Although the levels of radiation dose have dropped, they are still 10 times higher than the figures before the disaster. Even if I return to Iitate, rebuilding agriculture is a hardship,” said Ito.
The effects of radiation also cast a shadow over Japanese cattle farmers such as Kiyomi Shigihara, 62, of Nagadoro in the southernmost section of Iitate. Nagadoro was designated as the only “difficult-to-return zone” in the village.
With regard to the government policy of decontaminating only reconstruction base areas and then lifting an evacuation order after five years, Shigihara said, “Under these circumstances, even if I return home, there’s nothing I can do.”
Unable to repress his emotions, Shigihara wiped tears from his eyes.
Some Nuclear Regulation Authority members are skeptical of continuing to send robots into reactors in the crippled Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant to collect vital data on the locations of melted nuclear fuel and radiation levels.
These regulators are increasingly calling for a new survey methodology after recent investigations utilizing robots controlled remotely generated few findings and were quickly terminated.
“We should come up with a method that will allow us to investigate in a short period of time and in a more sensible way,” said a senior member of the NRA, the government watchdog.
The suggestion followed the failure of the latest probe from March 18 to March 22 in which a robot was sent in the No. 1 reactor to ascertain the location of fuel debris, information crucial to preparing for the decommissioning.
Tokyo Electric Power Co., the operator of the plant, said on March 23 the robot was unable to deliver a camera to planned spots from where images of nuclear fuel debris could be taken.
The utility cited the piping and deposits of what looked like sand accumulating on the piping as impediments that hindered the robot surveyor’s path.
The survey was designed for the robot to reach numerous locations inside the No. 1 reactor to determine the location of nuclear fuel debris and their radiation levels.
The lower part of the reactor’s containment vessel is submerged in water where deposits of fuel debris are believed to reside below the surface after melting through in the 2011 nuclear disaster, triggered by the Great East Japan Earthquake and tsunami.
At one location, the robot succeeded in placing a camera, which is combined with a dosimeter, to a depth 0.3 meter from the containment vessel floor.
The probe measured underwater radiation levels from 3.0 to 11 sieverts per hour during the five-day survey. But it was unable to take images of the debris in the water.
TEPCO and the government hope to start removing molten nuclear fuel from 2021. But they have yet to collect information on the location, amount and condition of the melted fuel.
In a survey of the No. 2 reactor in February, a robot became stuck in deposits and other debris after traveling only 2 meters inside.
Surveyor robots for the No. 1 through No. 3 reactors have been developed by the International Research Institute for Nuclear Decommissioning since 2014, a project costing 7 billion yen ($62 million) by the end of March 2018.
It takes time to develop such multifunctional robots, but the surveys centering around the robots so far have failed to produce meaningful results.
No survey has been conducted at the No. 3 reactor.
A statement by participants to the 6th Citizen-Scientist International Symposium on Radiation Protection （7–10 October 2016）in Nihonmatsu, Japan
Over recent years, some interested parties have claimed that human exposure to low doses（100 mSv/mGy or less）of ionising radiation does not confer an increased risk of cancer, or that the risk is so small that it cannot be estimated.
Our understanding of the risks of ionising radiation leads us to conclude that:
The accrued epidemiological data do not support there being a threshold of risk at 100 mSv for the induction of cancer. [1-11] [12-14]. Most of the available evidence together with mechanistic considerations, point to linearity of dose response at both high and low dose-rates.
Direct measurement of risk below 100 mSv [1-5, 7, 9] and extrapolation from higher doses [3, 5, 6, 10, 11, 15], support the use of the linear dose response model for doses less than 100 mSv and for the estimation of risks for the protection of public health after nuclear accidents.
The INWORKS study of workers is particularly important because the mode of exposure is similar to that which will be experienced by returning evacuees. It provides important information in re- lation to the risks in the dose range 0 to 100 mGy. Over this range the risk（0.8 per Gy）is higher, but not significantly so, than the overall estimate of 0.48 per Gy.This estimate is not influenced by the slope at higher doses.The paper states: “INWORKS thus provides supportive evidence for a positive association between radiation dose and all cancer other than leukaemia, even if less precise when analyses are restricted to data for the 0-100 mGy dose range.”
This position is consistent with:
The 2000 report of the United Nations Scientific Committee on the Effects of Ionising Radiation  （UNSCEAR, subsequently endorsed in their 2012 White Paper  and the 2012 analysis of the 2006 BEIR VII report from the US National Academy of Sciences  the Japanese bomb survivor data .
The World Health Organisation report of 2013  on the Fukushima accident.
We conclude that a recommended “reference level” of 20 mSv/year for returning evacuees from areas adjacent to the Fukushima Daiichi accident will entail an increased lifetime risk of cancer, par- ticularly for those exposed as children.
Keith Baverstock, Department of Environmental and Biological Sciences, University of Eastern Fin- land, Kuopio, Finland.
Iuliia Davydova, Institute of Paediatrics, Obstetrics and Gynaecology, National Academy of Medical Science of Ukraine, Kiev, Ukraine.
John Mathews, School of Population and Global Health, University of Melbourne, Carlton,Australia Sebastian Pflugbeil, Society for Radiation Protection, Berlin, Germany
Ben Spycher, Institute of Social and Preventive Medicine（ISPM）, University of Bern, Bern, Switzer- land.
Wolfgang Hoffmann, Institute für Community Medicine, Urnst-Moritz-Arndt-Universität, Greifswald, Germany
1．Spycher, B. D., et al.,（2015）Background ionizing radiation and the risk of childhood cancer: a census- based nationwide cohort study. Environ Health Perspect. 123: 622-8.
2．Mathews, J. D., et al.（, 2013）Cancer risk in 680,000 people exposed to computed tomography scans in childhood or adolescence: data linkage study of 11 million Australians. Bmj. 346: f2360.
3．Richardson, D. B., et al.,（2015）Risk of cancer from occupational exposure to ionising radiation: retro- spective cohort study of workers in France, the United Kingdom, and the United States（INWORKS）. Bmj. 351: h5359.
4．Kendall, G. M., et al.（, 2013）A record-based case-control study of natural background radiation and the incidence of childhood leukaemia and other cancers in Great Britain during 1980-2006. Leukemia. 27: 3-9.
5．Cardis, E., et al.（, 2005）Risk of cancer after low doses of ionising radiation: retrospective cohort study in 15 countries. Bmj. 331:77.
6．Ozasa, K., et al.,（2012）Studies of the mortality of atomic bomb survivors, Report 14, 1950-2003: an overview of cancer and noncancer diseases. Radiat Res. 177: 229-43.
7．Pijpe, A., et al.,（2012）Exposure to diagnostic radiation and risk of breast cancer among carriers of BRCA1/2 mutations: retrospective cohort study（GENE-RAD-RISK）. Bmj. 345: e5660.
8．Pearce, M. S., et al.（, 2012）Radiation exposure from CT scans in childhood and subsequent risk of leu- kaemia and brain tumours: a retrospective cohort study. Lancet. 380: 499-505.
9．Bithell, J. F. and A. M. Stewart,（1975）Pre-natal irradiation and childhood malignancy: a review of British data from the Oxford Survey. Br J Cancer. 31: 271-87.
10．Preston, D. L., et al.（, 2003）Studies of mortality of atomic bomb survivors. Report 13: Solid cancer and noncancer disease mortality: 1950-1997. Radiat Res. 160: 381-407.
11．Preston, D. L., et al.,（2007）Solid cancer incidence in atomic bomb survivors: 1958-1998. Radiat Res. 168: 1-64.
12．Brenner, D. J., et al.（, 2003）Cancer risks attributable to low doses of ionizing radiation: assessing what we really know. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 100: 13761-6.
13．Brenner, D. J. and R. K. Sachs,（2006）Estimating radiation-induced cancer risks at very low doses: ratio- nale for using a linear no-threshold approach. Radiat Environ Biophys. 44: 253-6.
14．Goodhead, d.T. Clustered damage to DNA:Time to re-evaluate the paradigm of radiation protection. in Proceedings of the Eleventh International Congress of Radiation Research. 2000. Dublin Ireland:Al- len Press, Lawrence, KS.
15．Preston, D. L., et al.（, 2003）Dose response and temporal patterns of radiation-associated solid cancer risks. Health Phys. 85: 43-6.
16．UNSCEAR, Report of the United Nations Scientific Committee on the Effects of Atomic Radiations: Sources and Effects. 2000, United Nations: New York.
17．UNSCEAR, Biological Mechanism of Radiation Action at Low Doses:A white paper to guide the Sci- entific Committee’s future programme of work. 2012, United nations: New York.
18．NAS, Health Risks from Exposure to Low Levels of Ionizing Radiation: BEIR VII – Phase 2. 2006, Na- tional Academy of Sciences:Washington.
19．WHO, Health Risk Assessment from the Nuclear Accident after the 2011 Great East Japan Earth- quake and Tsunami. 2013,World Health Organization: Geneva.
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