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Fukushima’s nuclear signature found in California wine

The Japanese nuclear disaster bathed north America in a radioactive cloud. Now pharmacologists have found the telltale signature in California wine made at the time.
Throughout the 1950s, the US, the Soviet Union, and others tested thermonuclear weapons in the Earth’s atmosphere. Those tests released vast quantities of radioactive material into the air and triggered fears that the nuclear reactions could ignite deuterium in the oceans, thereby destroying the planet in a catastrophic accidental fireball.
Atmospheric tests ended in 1980, when China finished its program, but the process has left a long-lasting nuclear signature on the planet. One of the most obvious signatures is cesium-137, a radioactive by-product of the fission of uranium-235.
After release into the atmosphere, cesium-137 was swept around the world and found its way into the food supply in trace quantities. Such an addition is rarely welcomed. But in 2001, the French pharmacologist Philippe Hubert discovered that he could use this signature to date wines without opening the bottles.
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The technique immediately became a useful weapon in the fight against wine fraud—labeling young wines as older vintages to inflate their price. Such fraud can be spotted by various types of chemical and isotope analysis—but only after the wine has been opened, which destroys its value.
Cesium-137, on the other hand, allows noninvasive testing because it is radioactive. It produces distinctive gamma rays in proportion to the amount of isotope present. Dating the wine is a simple process of matching the amount of cesium-137 to atmospheric records from the time the wine was made. That quickly reveals any fraud. Indeed, if there is no cesium-137, the wine must date from after 1980.
There is one blip in this record, though. The Chernobyl disaster in 1986 bathed much of Europe, and other parts of the world, in a radioactive cloud that increased atmospheric levels of cesium-137 again. Hubert and colleagues can see this blip in their data from wines.
And that raises an interesting question about the Fukushima disaster of 2011, an accident of Chernobyl proportions caused by a meltdown at the Fukushima nuclear power plant in Japan following a huge earthquake and tsunami. It released a radioactive cloud that bathed North America in fissile by-products.
Is it possible to see the effects of the Fukushima nuclear disaster in California wines produced at the time?
Today we get an answer, thanks to a study carried out by Hubert and a couple of colleagues. “In January 2017, we came across a series of Californian wines (Cabernet Sauvignon) from vintage 2009 to 2012,” say Hubert and company.
This set of wines provides the perfect test. The Fukushima disaster occurred on March 11, 2011. Any wine made before that date should be free of the effects, while any dating from afterward could show them.
The team began their study with the conventional measurement of cesium-137 levels in the unopened bottles. That showed levels to be indistinguishable from background noise.
But the team was able to carry out more-sensitive tests by opening the wine and reducing it to ash by evaporation. This involves heating the wine to 100 degrees Celsius for one hour and then increasing the temperature to 500 degrees Celsius for eight hours. In this way, a standard 750-milliliter bottle of wine produces around four grams of ashes. The ashes were then placed in a gamma ray detector to look for signs of cesium-137.
Using this method, Hubert and his colleagues found measurable amounts of cesium-137 above background levels in the wine produced after 2011. “It seems there is an increase in activity in 2011 by a factor of two,” conclude the team.
That probably won’t be very useful for fraud detection in California wine—the levels of cesium-137 are barely detectable, and even then, only if the wine is destroyed.
But the result does show how nuclear disasters can have unexpected consequences long after the fact.
Ref: arxiv.org/abs/1807.04340 : Dating of Wines with Cesium-137: Fukushima’s Imprint
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July 20, 2018 Posted by | Fukushima 2018 | , , | 1 Comment

Fukushima nuclear plant operator resumes TV ads

japan-shut-down-all-reactors-in-the-wake-of-the-fukushima-crisis-the-worst-nuclear-accident-since-the-1986-chernobyl-disaster-1531881035985-7.jpgJapan shut down all reactors in the wake of the Fukushima crisis, the worst nuclear accident since the 1986 Chernobyl disaster

18 Jul 2018

TOKYO: The operator of Japan’s crippled Fukushima nuclear plant on Wednesday (Jul 18) resumed television commercials, seven years after a 2011 meltdown that sparked the world’s worst atomic accident in a generation.

A retail arm of Tokyo Electric Power Co (TEPCO) Holdings said it was placing commercials on television, radio stations, and trains, as competition among energy companies intensifies.

The decision is controversial, with some activists angered that TEPCO is spending on advertising while it remains on the hook for enormous costs stemming from the disaster, including clean-up, decommissioning and compensation payments.

But a spokeswoman for TEPCO Energy Partner said the new campaign was “necessary” to help Fukushima.

“Our achievement of sales targets will allow us to fulfil our responsibilities for Fukushima,” Megumi Kobayashi told AFP.

The commercials feature “Tepcon”, a rabbit mascot who shares “ear-grabbing” information about the company’s electricity and gas packages.

TEPCO took its commercials off the air in the aftermath of the Fukushima disaster, which was triggered by a massive earthquake and ensuing tsunami in March 2011.

The tsunami wrecked cooling systems at the Fukushima plant on Japan’s northeast coast, sparking reactor meltdowns and radiation leaks.

Japan shut down all reactors in the wake of the Fukushima crisis, the worst nuclear accident since the 1986 Chernobyl disaster.

The government has poured billions of dollars into TEPCO to keep the company, which supplies electricity to Tokyo and the surrounding area, afloat.

It faces massive ongoing costs as it stumps up cash for decommissioning the reactors, cleaning up contaminated areas and paying compensation to those who fled their homes due to radiation fears.

https://www.channelnewsasia.com/news/asia/fukushima-nuclear-plant-operator-resumes-tv-ads-10540020

July 19, 2018 Posted by | Fukushima 2018 | , , | 1 Comment

Fukushima groups discuss food promotion in Europe

BEWARE
With the EU-Japan free trade agreement recently just signed, expect Fukushima radiation contaminated produce to be sneakily dumped on the unaware European consumers.
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July 16, 2018
DUESSELDORF, Germany (Jiji Press) — Four European-based associations of people from Fukushima Prefecture held a meeting of their leaders in Duesseldorf, western Germany, on Sunday.
The participants from the associations in Germany, Britain, France and the Netherlands discussed how to strengthen their call for the European Union to lift its remaining import restrictions on foods from Fukushima and ways to promote sales of Fukushima products in Europe.
The meeting was the second of its kind. The first leaders’ meeting of the four associations was held in the Netherlands in June last year.
The EU introduced its import restrictions on foods from Fukushima and other Japanese prefectures following the March 2011 triple meltdown at Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings Inc.’s disaster-crippled Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant.
In December 2017, the restrictions were lifted for part of the foods, including rice from Fukushima. But the EU still requires the submission of certification documents on radiation checks for imports of some items, such as soybeans and part of fishery products from the prefecture.
At Sunday’s meeting, the leaders of the Fukushima-related associations reconfirmed a plan to launch a similar association of people from the prefecture in Belgium to beef up lobbying activities for the EU headquarters in Brussels for the full removal of the import restrictions.
Takeshi Ishikawa, head of the association in the Netherlands, stressed his hope to set up the envisioned new association by the end of this year, while citing difficulties selecting a person who will play a leading role in the establishment of the new group.
The participants also discussed the idea of utilizing various events in Europe to help expand the marketing channels for products from Fukushima.
“We hope to publicize Fukushima and support its reconstruction,” said Yoshio Mitsuyama, head of the association in Britain.
Fukushima is one of the areas hit hardest by the March 2011 powerful earthquake and tsunami, which led to the severe nuclear accident at the Fukushima No. 1 power plant.

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July 19, 2018 Posted by | Fukushima 2018 | , , , | Leave a comment

Foreign Trainees for Fukushima Clean-Up

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Japanese firms used foreign trainees for Fukushima clean-up

13 July, 2018
Vietnamese in Japan for professional training were among those picking up soil as part of decontamination work at the crippled nuclear power plant
Four Japanese companies made foreign trainees who were in the country to learn professional skills take part in decontamination work after the Fukushima nuclear disaster, the government said on Friday.
The discovery is likely to revive criticism of the Technical Intern Training Programme, which has been accused of placing workers in substandard conditions and jobs that provide few opportunities for learning.
The misconduct was uncovered in a probe by the Justice Ministry conducted after three Vietnamese trainees were found in March to have taken part in clean-up work in Fukushima.
The Vietnamese were supposed to do work using construction machines according to plans submitted by the company.
“But they joined simple clean-up work such as removing soil without machines,” an official said.
A powerful earthquake in March 2011 spawned a huge tsunami that led to meltdowns at the Fukushima nuclear plant, causing the world’s worst such accident since Chernobyl in 1986.
One of the four companies has been slapped with a five-year ban on accepting new foreign trainees as it was found to have paid only 2,000 yen (US$18) per day to the trainees out of the 6,600 yen provided by the state as a special allowance for decontamination work.
The ministry is still investigating how many trainees in the other three firms were involved.
The four companies cited in the interim report no longer send foreign trainees to help with the radiation clean-up. It did not name the four firms.
The ministry has finished its investigation into 182 construction companies that hire foreign trainees, and will look into another 820 firms by the end of September.
Japan has been accepting foreign trainees under the government programme since 1993 and there were just over 250,000 in the country in late 2017.
But critics say the trainees often face poor working conditions including excessive hours and harassment.
The number of foreign trainees who ran away from their employers jumped from 2,005 in 2012 to 7,089 in 2017, according to the ministry’s survey. Many cited low pay as the main reason for running away.
The investigation comes as Japan’s government moves to bring more foreign workers into the country to tackle a labour shortage caused by the country’s ageing, shrinking population.
The government in June said it wanted to create a new visa status to bring in foreign workers, with priority given to those looking for jobs in sectors such as agriculture that have been hardest hit by the labour shortage.
The workers would be able to stay for up to five years, but would not be allowed to bring their family members.
The government put the number of foreign workers in Japan in 2017 at 1.28 million people.
But more than 450,000 of those are foreign spouses of Japanese citizens, ethnic Koreans long settled in Japan, or foreigners of Japanese descent, rather than workers coming to Japan simply for jobs. Another nearly 300,000 are students.
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Japan firms used Vietnamese, foreign trainees at Fukushima cleanup

 July 14, 2018
Four Japanese companies have been found to made foreign trainees take part in decontamination work after the Fukushima nuclear disaster.
The discovery is likely to revive criticism of the foreign trainee program, which has been accused of placing workers in substandard conditions and jobs that provide few opportunities for learning, the government said Friday.
The misconduct was uncovered in a probe by the Justice Ministry conducted after three Vietnamese trainees, who were in the country to learn professional skills, were found in March to have participated in cleanup work in Fukushima.
The Vietnamese were supposed to do work using construction machines according to plans submitted by the company.
“But they joined simple cleanup work such as removing soil without machines,” an official told AFP.
A powerful earthquake in March 2011 spawned a huge tsunami that led to meltdowns at the Fukushima nuclear plant, causing the world’s worst such accident since Chernobyl in 1986.
The justice ministry said after the discovery this March that decontamination work was not appropriate for foreign trainees.
One of the four companies has been slapped with a five-year ban on accepting new foreign trainees, and the ministry is still investigating how many trainees in the other three firms were involved.
The ministry has finished its investigation into 182 construction companies that hire foreign trainees, and will look into another 820 firms by the end of September.
Japan has been accepting foreign trainees under the government program since 1993 and there were just over 250,000 in the country in late 2017.
But critics say the trainees often face poor work conditions including excessive hours and harassment.
The number of foreign trainees who ran away from their employers jumped from 2,005 in 2012 to 7,089 in 2017, according to the ministry survey. Many cited low pay as the main reason for running away.
The investigation comes as Japan’s government moves to bring more foreign workers into the country to tackle a labor shortage caused by the country’s aging, shrinking population.
The government in June said it wanted to create a new visa status to bring in foreign workers, with priority given to those looking for jobs in sectors such as agriculture that have been hardest hit by the labor shortage.
The workers would be able to stay for up to five years, but would not be allowed to bring their family members.
The government put the number of foreign workers in Japan in 2017 at 1.28 million people.
But more than 450,000 of those are foreign spouses of Japanese citizens, ethnic Koreans long settled in Japan, or foreigners of Japanese descent, rather than workers coming to Japan simply for jobs. Another nearly 300,000 are students.

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July 19, 2018 Posted by | Fukushima 2018 | , , , , | Leave a comment

First leg of 2020 Olympic torch relay will be in Fukushima

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2020 Olympic torch relay to start in Fukushima on March 26

July 12, 2018
In total denial of the omnipresent radioactive contamination risks…
Weightlifter Yoichi Itokazu, left, waves the Olympic flag while Tokyo Gov. Yuriko Koike, second from right, waves the Paralympic flag during a Tokyo 2020 Games flag tour event at the Okinawa Prefectural Government building in Naha in this Oct. 30, 2017
TOKYO — A coordination council comprising organizations involved in the Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics has decided that the torch relay for the 2020 Games will depart from Fukushima Prefecture on March 26, 2020, as part of efforts to encourage residents affected by the 2011 earthquake, tsunami and nuclear disasters.
According to the Fukushima Prefectural Government, 44,878 residents still remained evacuated within and outside Fukushima Prefecture as of July 5, 2018. At a meeting of the coordination council held in Tokyo on July 12, top officials from the Tokyo Organising Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games, the Tokyo Metropolitan Government, the central government and other organizations agreed to pick Fukushima as the starting point.
The organizing committee had thus far given equal consideration to Iwate, Miyagi and Fukushima prefectures — which were hit hardest by the March 11, 2011 disasters — in line with the banner of the “disaster recovery Olympics” it raised during its bid to invite the games to Tokyo. However, as the number of evacuees from Fukushima stands highest among the three prefectures, and the fact that the prefecture continues to face difficulties emanating from the Fukushima No. 1 Nuclear Power Plant catastrophe, the officials decided to choose the prefecture to symbolize disaster relief efforts.
“We wanted to respect the original starting point of our bidding campaigns,” said former Prime Minister Yoshiro Mori, who chairs the Tokyo 2020 organizing committee.
The council also announced the schedule for the 121-day torch relay, including seven days for the torch to travel between relay courses. Such travel between different prefectures will largely take place by car, while that to Okinawa Prefecture and Hokkaido will be carried out via ferry.
After spending three days being passed from runner to runner through Fukushima Prefecture, the torch will move to Tochigi Prefecture, then travel south to Gunma and Nagano prefectures, before heading to the Tokai and Kinki regions and the islands of Shikoku and Kyushu. After reaching the southernmost island prefecture of Okinawa, the torch relay will start heading north on May 2, 2020, moving to the Chugoku, Hokuriku and Tohoku regions mainly along the Sea of Japan coast, before reaching the northernmost prefecture of Hokkaido on June 14. From there, the torch relay will once again move southward, covering Iwate and Miyagi prefectures for three days each. As of late June 2018, some 5,022 Iwate Prefecture residents and 3,556 Miyagi Prefecture residents remained evacuated due to the 2011 disasters.
From Miyagi, the torch will then be transported to Shizuoka Prefecture using expressways. After a three-day leg each in Kanagawa, Chiba and Saitama prefectures near Tokyo, and a two-day leg each in Yamanashi and Ibaraki prefectures, the Olympic flame will finally arrive in Tokyo on July 10. The torch will then be passed between all of the capital’s 62 wards, cities, towns and villages, including those on islands south of Tokyo’s city center, for a period of up to 15 days.
During the 1964 Tokyo Olympics, the torch relay departed from Okinawa, then still under control of the United States, covering a total of four different routes. The International Olympic Committee (IOC) currently does not allow splitting courses.
The respective organizing committees set up in all of Japan’s 47 prefectures will draw up detailed route maps by the end of the year, while the Fukushima Prefectural Government will select the departure point. After the Tokyo 2020 organizing committee compiles the route plans, they will be finalized upon gaining the green light from the IOC by the summer of 2019. After the routes and the number of runners are decided, each prefecture will start selecting torch bearers.
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The Tokyo Organizing Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games meets on July 12 to approve the start of the 2020 Olympic flame relay.

First leg of 2020 Olympic torch relay to start in Fukushima

The Tokyo Organizing Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games meets on July 12 to approve the start of the 2020 Olympic flame relay.
July 12, 2018
The Olympic torch relay will start in Fukushima Prefecture in 2020 to reinforce the image that the Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics will be about showcasing the reconstruction from the 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake.
The Tokyo Organizing Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games approved the plan at a meeting on July 12 to have the torch relay start in Fukushima Prefecture from March 26, 2020. The relay will then travel through all prefectures of Japan before entering Tokyo on July 10, 2020.
“The struggles and sadness experienced by residents of the three hardest-hit prefectures (of the 2001 earthquake and tsunami) are tremendous,” Yoshiro Mori, the committee president, said at the organizing committee meeting. “Among the three, Fukushima Prefecture continues to be the one with the most number of evacuees.”
Each prefecture will establish a committee to organize the relay within their jurisdiction. Those committees will decide on the exact route the Olympic flame will take through their prefectures. Those courses are expected to be completed by the end of 2018.
The Olympic organizing committee will compile those route plans and decide on the specific course of the torch by summer 2019.
There were two proposals for the start of the Olympic torch relay.
One called for the start to be in one of the three hardest-hit prefectures from the 2011 disasters–Fukushima, Miyagi and Iwate.
The other was to follow the precedent set by the 1964 Tokyo Summer Olympics and start the relay in Okinawa Prefecture.
The experts panel within the organizing committee that considered the two proposals pointed out that starting the relay in the Tohoku region could lead to increased expenses because of the need for measures to deal with the cold weather in late March in those prefectures.
But organizing committee members increasingly held the view that there was a need to transmit the message that the Games would be all about recovery and rebuilding from the 2011 natural disasters and accident at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant.
That led to the decision to start the relay in Fukushima Prefecture.
Under the general outline agreed to, once the flame leaves Fukushima Prefecture, it would proceed south through the northern Kanto region before moving westward to the Chubu, southern Kinki, Shikoku and Kyushu regions. The flame would be transported by ferry from Kyushu to Okinawa Prefecture and back.
The relay would then pass through the Chugoku, northern Kinki, Hokuriku and Tohoku regions before going to Hokkaido. From the northernmost main island, the relay will proceed along the Pacific coast of the main Honshu island and go through Iwate and Miyagi prefectures before making its way around the southern Kanto region and entering the nation’s capital on July 10, 2020.
In Tokyo, the relay will extend over 15 days and pass through all 23 wards as well as outlying cities, towns and villages.
While the International Olympic Committee has set a broad outline for Olympic torch relays that they should be completed within 100 days, the Tokyo organizing committee has been granted an exception, and the relay will take up to 121 days.
Before the start of the Olympic torch relay, the organizing committee will display the flame brought to Japan from the traditional lighting ceremony in Greece as the “light of reconstruction” in Iwate, Miyagi and Fukushima prefectures.

July 19, 2018 Posted by | Fukushima 2018 | , , | Leave a comment

Locals opposed to removal of most dosimeters in Fukushima

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A radiation monitoring post set up near the entrance to an elementary school in Tadami, Fukushima Prefecture, is planned to be removed.
July 9, 2018
TADAMI, Fukushima Prefecture–Officials and residents in Fukushima Prefecture are opposing the central government plan to remove 80 percent of the radiation dosimeters set up in the wake of the 2011 accident at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant.
The Nuclear Regulation Authority (NRA) in March announced plans to remove 2,400 of the 3,000 monitoring posts by fiscal 2020 in areas where dose rates have fallen and keep the remaining 600 in 12 municipalities around the plant.
About 20 residents on June 25 attended a meeting here during which the NRA secretariat explained a plan to remove seven of nine monitoring posts in the town, including those installed at three elementary and junior high schools.
Shoji Takeyama, head of the secretariat’s monitoring information section, asked the residents to understand the objectives of the move.
“We believe that continuous measuring is unnecessary in areas where dose rates are low and stable,” Takeyama said. “The equipment requires huge maintenance costs. We have to effectively use the limited amount of funds.”
Residents expressed opposition.
One described the plan as being “out of the question,” saying that the shipment of edible wild plants and mushrooms in Tadami was prohibited although the town is far from the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant.
The secretariat emphasized that two portable monitoring posts will remain in the town.
NRA officials have said dose rates have significantly dropped in areas other than those near the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant, annual maintenance costs for monitoring posts total 400 million yen ($3.64 million) and that the dosimeters will soon reach the end of their 10-year operating lives.
In late June, the NRA was forced to suspend the plan to remove 27 monitoring posts in Nishigo after the village assembly adopted a statement opposing the plan, saying that sufficient explanations have not been provided to residents.
The Aizu-Wakamatsu city government in May submitted a request to continue operating monitoring posts to the NRA.
The city argues “there are citizens who are concerned about the radiation’s potential impact on their health and possible accidents that could happen during decommissioning work, and such people can feel relieved by visually checking dose rates constantly with monitoring systems.”
The prefectural government says it is “calling on the central government to proceed with the plan while winning consent from residents at the same time.”
A citizens group has sent a statement to the prefectural government and seven cities and towns, calling for maintaining monitoring posts. It has also collected more than 2,000 signatures on a petition to be submitted to the NRA.
Yumi Chiba, 48, a co-leader of the group, said authorities should take into account the reality surrounding those residing in Fukushima Prefecture.
“What is important is not knowing the average but identifying where dose rates are higher,” said Chiba, who lives in Iwaki in the prefecture. “I would like authorities to consider the circumstances facing residents.”
The NRA plans to offer explanations to residents according to requests. The gathering in Tadami was the first of its kind, and similar meetings are planned in Kitakata, Aizu-Wakamatsu and Koriyama on July 16, July 28 and Aug. 5, respectively.
The NRA is also making arrangements to hold meetings in 15 other municipalities.

July 19, 2018 Posted by | Fukushima 2018 | , , | Leave a comment

Loss of radioactivity in radiocesium-bearing microparticles emitted from the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant by heating

In this article, we learn that microscopic glass beads containing Cesium 137 “lose” their radioactivity when, mixed with other radioactive debris, they are burned up in incinerators.
The researchers are pleased to see that the ashes from these incinerators will be free of Caesium 137.
It should be pointed out that radioactivity never disappears like that instantaneously. In the best of cases this Cesium will be, one can dream, filtered in the chimneys of incinerators. Otherwise the incineration will have simply served to disperse the radioactive cesium from the microscopic beads in the form of aerosols.
It is unfortunate that scientists are not working in a free vacuum, but need for their career and for their researches the approval and the financing of governmental and corporate institutions. In this case, those 4 Japanese scientists, Taiga Okumura, Noriko Yamaguchi, Terumi Dohi, Kazuki Iijima & Toshihiro Kogure, just spinned this paper into a ‘scientific’ propaganda to justify the Japanese government backed-up incineration.…
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Abstract
Radiocesium-bearing microparticles (CsPs) substantially made of silicate glass are a novel form of radiocesium emitted from the broken containment vessel of Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant. CsPs have a potential risk of internal radiation exposure caused by inhalation. Radiation-contaminated waste including CsPs is being burned in incinerators; therefore, this study has investigated the responses of CsPs to heating in air. The radioactivity of CsPs gradually decreased from 600 °C and was almost lost when the temperature reached 1000 °C. The size and spherical morphology of CsPs were almost unchanged after heating, but cesium including radiocesium, potassium and chlorine were lost, probably diffused away from the CsPs. Iron, zinc and tin originally dissolved in the glass matrix were crystallized to oxide nanoparticles inside the CsPs. When the CsPs were heated together with weathered granitic soil that is common in Fukushima, the radiocesium released from CsPs was sorbed by the surrounding soil. From these results, it is expected that the radioactivity of CsPs will be lost when radiation-contaminated waste including CsPs is burned in incinerators.

July 19, 2018 Posted by | Fukushima 2018 | , , , , | Leave a comment

Fukushima to open shop in NYC to boost sake exports

My good advice to our American friends would be to stick to their old Bourbon, for their own sake….
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Fukushima Governor Masao Uchibori, front row, fourth from right, is surrounded by representatives from brewers that won the Gold Prize at the 2018 Annual Japan Sake Awards at the prefectural government office in Fukushima.
July 5, 2018
FUKUSHIMA–Prefectural officials are hoping a new specialty shop in the Big Apple will help locally brewed sake make it in the United States.
With interest in the Japanese rice wine growing in the United States amid the Japanese food boom, the officials aim to promote the high quality of Fukushima-produced sake and expand sales channels.
They also hope the shop will help repair reputational damage caused by the nuclear disaster in March 2011.
The project was announced by Fukushima Governor Masao Uchibori on May 31 while he was visiting New York to promote locally brewed sake as head of the prefecture.
It will be the first time the prefectural government has opened a shop for local specialties outside Japan.
Prefectural officials plan to help small-scale brewers export their brands using the shop as a base.
“We want them to become interested in exporting and use the specialty shop to start making efforts to sell their products on a trial basis and do market research,” an official said.
According to the officials, a New York City-based liquor sales company will be commissioned to open the shop by the end of the year.
The officials plan to attract wide-ranging visitors, such as liquor distributors, restaurant industry officials and local residents, as well as host events in which sake brewers based in Fukushima Prefecture will participate.
The shop will be open for a limited time only, but the officials are considering a time period long enough to raise the profile and promote the brand of rice wine from the prefecture.
At the 2018 Annual Japan Sake Awards, 19 sake brands from Fukushima Prefecture were given the Gold Prize, making the prefecture home to the largest number of the top winning sake brands for six straight years.
However, only some of the brewers relatively larger in scale are working on a full-scale basis to export their products.
“Due to fierce competition with other prefectures in overseas markets, we must hone our craft and make inroads or we will lose,” said an official at an association for brewers and distillers in Fukushima Prefecture.

July 8, 2018 Posted by | Fukushima 2018 | , | Leave a comment

Tourists in Fukushima Nuclear Disaster Zone to Stay Away!

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English signs along National Road No. 114 on the border between Namie and Kawamata in Fukushima Prefecture

English signs tell tourists to stay away from Fukushima plant

July 4, 2018
NAMIE, Fukushima Prefecture–English signs now appear along roads in Fukushima Prefecture to prevent curious, thrill-seeking or simply ignorant foreign tourists from entering areas of high radiation.
The central government’s local nuclear emergency response headquarters set up 26 signs at 12 locations along the 70-kilometer National Road No. 114 and elsewhere starting in mid-April. The signs carry straightforward messages in English, such as “No Entry!”
In September, a 27-kilometer section of the road opened in Namie’s “difficult-to-return zone” near the crippled Fukushima No. 1 power plant for the first time since the Great East Japan Earthquake, tsunami and nuclear disaster in March 2011.
The road is mainly used by construction vehicles involved in rebuilding projects and dump trucks transporting contaminated soil to intermediate storage facilities.
Motorists can use the reopened section, but they are urged to refrain from stopping or venturing outside their vehicles. Pedestrians and motorcyclists are still forbidden from the area because of the high radiation levels.
But an increasing number of people from abroad are visiting the area, some to snap photos, according to Fukushima prefectural police.
Many have gotten out of their vehicles or entered the “no-go” zone by motorbike or foot.
Prefectural police asked the central government for help to deal with the trespassers.
“When police questioned foreigners who were taking photos in the difficult-to-return zone, they said they did not know that entering the area was prohibited,” a police official said.
Officials also wanted to avoid any confusion from the signs with technical terms, such as “difficult-to-return zones,” which are the areas most heavily polluted by radiation that remain essentially off-limits even to residents.
An official of the Cabinet Office’s nuclear disaster victim life assistance team, which developed English messages, said they decided to use simpler expressions, such as “high-dose radiation area,” for the signs.
The signs have already produced a positive effect.
“A foreign motorcyclist came here the other day, so I told the person to return by pointing to the English signboard,” said a security guard who monitors the Namie-Kawamata border zone at the Tsushima Gate.

Tourists told to stop taking selfies in Fukushima nuclear disaster zone

Tour guide Shiga and a tourist check radiation levels at Joroku Park, near TEPCO’s tsunami-crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant in Namie town
4 July 2018
Authorities in Fukushima are installing warning signs in English telling thrill-seeking tourists not to stop their cars or pose for selfies in areas that still have dangerously high levels of radiation.
Seven years after the disaster at the prefecture’s nuclear plant, the government’s nuclear emergency response office has placed 26 signs along a 45-mile stretch of National Road 114 and a number of smaller roads in areas designated as “difficult-to-return” for local residents, the Asahi newspaper reported.
One road through the town of Namie was only reopened in September and is primarily used by construction vehicles and lorries removing contaminated waste and debris to landfill sites.
Motorists are able to access the roads, but authorities have installed signs after tourists were spotted getting out of their cars to take photos. Pedestrians, cyclists and motorcyclists are still banned from entering the restricted zone.
The signs read “No Entry!” for motorcycles, mopeds, light vehicles, bicycles and pedestrians, while others warn of “High-dose radiation area” and advise “Please pass through as quickly as possible”.
Fukushima police said they were forced to appeal to the government for help because of the rising number of incidents involving tourists who were unaware that getting out of a vehicle transiting the zone is still prohibited.
The areas that still have levels of radiation that would be harmful to human health lie to the north-west of the Fukushima nuclear plant and were under the plume of radioactivity released when a series of tsunami destroyed the cooling systems of four reactors in March 2011.
Local residents are permitted to return to their homes for brief, closely supervised visits, but the government admits that despite efforts to decontaminate the region, it will be many years before they are able to return on a permanent basis.
Long considered one of Japan’s most unspoilt and beautiful prefectures, Fukushima is today trying to rebuild a reputation among foreign and domestic tourists. A number of other travel firms are now offering tours to some of the towns most severely damaged as a result of the magnitude-9.1 earthquake, the tsunami it triggered and the nuclear disaster.

July 8, 2018 Posted by | Fukushima 2018 | , | Leave a comment

Radiation still too high in reactor# 2 building

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July 2, 2018
A robotic probe has found that radiation levels remain too high for humans to work inside one of the reactor buildings at the damaged Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant.
 
Tokyo Electric Power Company, the operator of the plant, plans to relocate 615 units of nuclear fuel from the spent fuel pool, which is located on the top floor of the No. 2 reactor building and is separate from the reactor itself.
 
TEPCO says the relocation will help reduce risks, including possible damage caused by earthquakes.
 
The No. 2 reactor underwent a meltdown, but did not experience a hydrogen explosion in the 2011 nuclear accident. The building is likely to still have a high concentration of radioactive materials.
 
Last month, TEPCO drilled a hole in the wall of the building in order to use a camera-equipped robot to create a detailed map of the radiation on the top floor.
 
On Monday, workers started the survey and measured radiation levels at 19 points, mainly near the opening. Up to 59 millisieverts were detected per hour.
 
That’s above workers’ allowable annual exposure of 50 millisieverts and more than half of their 5-year exposure limit. TEPCO has concluded it cannot let humans work inside the building.
 
TEPCO will use the results to determine specific ways to remove the fuel from the pool. It plans to start the work in fiscal 2023.

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July 8, 2018 Posted by | Fukushima 2018 | , , | Leave a comment

Fuel removal from Fukushima reactor may be delayed

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June 29, 2018
The operator of the damaged Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant says work to remove spent nuclear fuel from a cooling pool at one of its reactors may be delayed.
 
A total of 566 fuel units remain in the cooling pool at the No.3 reactor, which suffered a meltdown in 2011. Tokyo Electric Power Company, or TEPCO, planned to start removing the fuel as early as this autumn, as part of the decommissioning of the nuclear complex.
 
But on Thursday, TEPCO revealed the control board of a crane used in the removal malfunctioned during a test run last month. It blamed a voltage error and said the board will be replaced.
 
The company said the test run may be delayed by one or 2 months, pushing back the start date for fuel removal.
 
TEPCO’s chief decommissioning officer, Akira Ono, says he takes the glitch seriously as it shows key equipment was not handled properly.
 
He says that although safety must come first, his team still aims to stick to the original timetable and start the removal of nuclear fuel by around the middle of the current fiscal year, which ends in March next year.
 

July 1, 2018 Posted by | Fukushima 2018 | , , | Leave a comment

Mayor of Namie, near shuttered Fukushima nuclear plant, dies at 69

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Jun 27, 2018
FUKUSHIMA – Tamotsu Baba, mayor of Namie in Fukushima Prefecture, died at hospital in the city of Fukushima on Wednesday. He was 69.
First elected mayor of Namie in 2007, Baba was in his third term. He submitted his resignation earlier this month due to illness and was set to leave office on Saturday.
Baba spearheaded the town’s efforts to cope with the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami, which badly affected the Tohoku region, and the subsequent nuclear accident at Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings Inc.’s Fukushima No. 1 plant.
Namie is located next to the towns of Okuma and Futaba, home to the disaster-crippled nuclear plant.
At the end of March last year, Baba decided on lifting evacuation advisories for Namie residents, except for areas that were recognized as heavily contaminated.

July 1, 2018 Posted by | Fukushima 2018 | , , | Leave a comment

Shopping center opens in Naraha, a disaster-hit Fukushima town

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Shopping center opens in disaster-hit Fukushima town as evacuees return
June 26, 2018
Iwaki – A new shopping complex opened Tuesday in the town of Naraha, Fukushima Prefecture, nearly three years after the government’s evacuation order following the 2011 nuclear disaster was lifted.
The public facility, dubbed “Kokonara Shotengai,” consists of 10 shops including a supermarket, a bakery and a barber’s shop.
The Chinese character meaning “laughter” was used as part of the name as a way to encourage and inspire returning residents.
The new shopping complex is adjacent to emergency public housing, a medical institution and a childcare center. It replaces a makeshift shopping district located elsewhere in the town.
Local residents welcomed the latest development in their hometown.
“I’m so glad that the opening day has come. I have been waiting for this for so long,” said 78-year-old Hisako Ishiyama, who, until March, lived in the city of Minamisoma.
Ishiyama previously had to travel by train or in her friend’s car to neighboring towns just to shop.
“Life will be easier,” she said after buying items such as a sliced raw tuna for dinner.
Evacuation orders and advisories were issued for some areas in Fukushima following the disaster. Naraha was the first on which the government lifted the evacuation order for a municipality whose entire population was ordered to evacuate in September 2015.
Most of Naraha lies within a 20-kilometer radius of the crippled nuclear plant, where three reactors experienced meltdowns after a massive earthquake and tsunami hit the eastern Japan in March 2011.
As of the end of May, 3,343 of 7,046 registered residents have returned to the town.
 
Fukushima town opens shopping center for returnees
June 26, 2018
The town of Naraha, Fukushima Prefecture, has opened a shopping center for the benefit of residents who have returned following the earthquake and nuclear crisis in 2011, and to encourage others to come home.
The area where the 3,300-square-meter complex is located includes public housing and medical institutions.
Ten businesses including a supermarket, hardware store and restaurants opened their doors on Tuesday.
The evacuation order in Naraha was lifted in September 2015. As of the end of May, nearly half the town’s former inhabitants had come back.
The town has begun operating free shuttle bus services between all its districts and the center to make life easier for those who return.
One woman said she’s happy that the center is accessible and that it will become a place where the townsfolk can socialize.

June 26, 2018 Posted by | Fukushima 2018 | , , | Leave a comment

Evaluating Different Radiocesium Decontamination Practices In A Forest Plantation Near The Fukushima Nuclear Power Plant

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June 25, 2018
Owing to an earthquake and the resulting tsunami that occurred on March 2011 in central-eastern Japan, the Fukushima Dai-ichi Nuclear Power Plant was damaged by several hydrogen explosions.
This accident released a vast amount of radionuclides, including caesium 134 and 137 (ca. ratio 1:1). Initial fallout contaminated cultivated soils (mainly paddy fields), forests, water bodies, residential areas, asphalt and concrete surfaces. Since then, a variety of decontamination practices have been completed, reducing the ambient dose rates.
In a recent study, published in Environmental Pollution (available online since April 19, 2018) and conducted by Prof. Yuichi Onda (University of Tsukuba, Japan), Dr. Manuel López-Vicente (EEAD-CSIC, Soil Management and Global Change Group), and staff of Onda’s Laboratory and Asia Air Survey Co., eight decontamination practices were evaluated in a forest plantation located 16 km southwest of the power plant and within the exclusion area. The stand is composed of a forest plantation of Japanese cedar (Cryptomeria japonica) and natural understory vegetation. This plantation has an age of 58 years (in 2017) and is located on a steep hillslope (average slope gradient of 25⁰) near Kawauchi village, in the Fukushima Prefecture. Ten runoff plots were installed and managed by the Fukushima Prefectural Forestry Research Centre.
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Radiocesium (Cs-137) concentrations and activities were calculated in soil and litter samples over 27 months (May 2013 – July 2015) and after decontamination practices. One plot was devoted to litter removal; two plots to tree thinning without litter removal (Th_1 with logged area, and Th_2 under remnant trees); two plots to tree thinning with litter removal (Th + LR_1 with logged area, and Th + LR_2 under remnant trees); and three plots to clearcutting with litter removal (CC + LR_1 without matting, CC + LR_2 matting with seeds, and CC + LR_3 matting without seeds). Finally, two plots (Co_1 and Co_2) remained as control plots without application of any decontamination practice.
Differences were statistically significant, and researchers distinguished four homogeneous groups. Tree thinning and litter removal greatly reduced the radioactivity. Tree thinning, clearcutting with litter removal, and litter removal also had higher discharge rates than those rates in the control plots. We only observed low rates in the two plots with matting (soil conservation practice). The temporal variability was explained by (i) the different rainfall depths registered during the measurement intervals (with heavy rainfall events and typhoons: accumulated precipitation from 14 to 361 mm during the measurement intervals); and (ii) the fluctuations of the total ground coverage (canopy and surface).
The vegetation recovery after the countermeasures triggered a reduction of hydrological connectivity in all compartments of the forest plantation. This fact explained the decreasing trend in radiocesium concentration that was very high in 2013, high in the first half of 2014, moderate in the second half of 2014, and low in 2015. This tendency will reduce the possibility of secondary pollution of the neighboring residential and/or agricultural areas. The average proportions of the contribution of Cs-137 discharge by soil and leaf fraction were 96.6% and 3.4%.
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These findings are described in the article entitled Radiocesium concentrations in soil and leaf after decontamination practices in a forest plantation highly polluted by the Fukushima accident, recently published in the journal Environmental Pollution. This work was conducted by Manuel López-Vicente, Yuichi Onda, Junko Takahashi, and Hiroaki Kato from the University of Tsukuba, and Shinya Chayama and Keigo Hisadome from Asia Air Survey Co.
This research was funded by the project “Development of techniques for migration control against radioactive substances in forests (2012-2016)” of the Japanese Forestry Agency; and was carried out by Dr. Manuel López-Vicente during his postdoctoral stays at the University of Tsukuba (Prof. Onda Laboratory) in 2015 (Research Fellowships Program of the Canon Foundation in Europe, call 2014) and 2016.

June 26, 2018 Posted by | Fukushima 2018 | , , , | Leave a comment

Japan touts completion of Fukushima cleanup at tripartite environment meeting in China

Lies, lies… and more lies!!!
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Jun 24, 2018
SUZHOU – Environment Minister Masaharu Nakagawa told his counterparts from China and South Korea on Sunday that radioactive decontamination work following the 2011 Fukushima nuclear disaster is “all done” except for so-called difficult-to-return-to zones.
At the 20th Tripartite Environment Ministers’ Meeting held in Suzhou, in eastern China, Nakagawa also used the opportunity to again request the lifting of food import restrictions from prefectures hit by the Fukushima disaster.
Beijing has banned food imports from 10 prefectures surrounding the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant, while Seoul has blocked Japanese seafood imports from eight prefectures.
Nakagawa explained to Chinese Ecology and Environment Minister Li Ganjie and South Korean Environment Minister Kim Eun-kyung that Japan has strict food safety standards in place that exceed international requirements. “Environmental regeneration in Fukushima is progressing steadily,” he said.
The three ministers also agreed on a policy to discuss the problem of plastic microparticles and their effect on marine pollution at a Group of 20 ministerial meeting on energy transitions and the global environment for sustainable growth in Karuizawa, Nagano Prefecture, next June.
In addition, they adopted a joint statement including a pledge to promote information sharing on the problem of venomous fire ants, which have over the past year repeatedly been brought to Japan in containers shipped from China.
The ministers also decided to hold next year’s tripartite meeting in Japan. It has been held annually in rotation among the three countries since 1999.

June 26, 2018 Posted by | Fukushima 2018 | , , , | Leave a comment