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Rice planting resumes in Fukushima town

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May 13, 2019
Rice has been planted in a town hosting the damaged Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant for the first time since evacuation orders were partially lifted early last month.

Orders for all districts of the town of Okuma in Fukushima Prefecture were issued following the 2011 accident. They were lifted for two districts on April 10.

More than 20 people, including town officials, planted rice seedlings on Monday in a paddy in the Ogawara district that measures about 160 square meters.

Okuma Town resumed rice growing on a trial basis in the district in 2014, three years after the accident.

The radiation levels in all the rice harvested there were within state safety standards.

The town plans to prepare manuals to facilitate the resumption of rice farming in earnest.

The head of the town’s agricultural committee, Tomoko Nemoto, says there are still many problems to address, but that the town wants to pass its farmlands down to future generations.
https://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/en/news/20190513_14/

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May 15, 2019 Posted by | fukushima 2019 | , , | Leave a comment

TEPCO conducts test to halt water injection into crippled reactor

13 may 2019.jpgThis March 11, 2019 photo, taken from Futaba, Fukushima Prefecture, shows the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, which was struck by the 2011 earthquake-tsunami disaster in northeastern Japan and is in the process of being decommissioned.

May 13, 2019
FUKUSHIMA, Japan (Kyodo) — The operator of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant on Monday conducted a test to temporarily halt the water being injected into one of the reactors that suffered a core meltdown in the wake of the 2011 accident
Through the test, which is the first of its kind, Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings Inc. plans to obtain data on how the temperature inside the No. 2 reactor could rise in the event of an emergency and use the input to update its response.
More than eight years on from the start of what has become one of the world’s worst nuclear crises, TEPCO continues to pour water inside the Nos. 1 to 3 reactors to keep the melted fuel debris inside them cool.
At 10:40 a.m. Monday, TEPCO completely halted the water injection into the No. 2 unit, which usually receives around 3 tons of coolant per hour.
The temperature at the bottom of the reactor pressure vessel, a container that is supposed to hold the fuel, stood at about 24.5 C and TEPCO expects the reading to rise by up to 4 C following the 7-hour test.
Hit by a magnitude 9.0 earthquake and ensuing tsunami on March 11, 2011, the Fukushima nuclear complex lost nearly all its power sources and consequently the ability to cool the reactors and spent fuel pools at the Nos. 1 to 4 units.
The conditions of the reactors are now kept relatively stable through recovery efforts, but a massive amount of contaminated water has accumulated at the plant as a result.
https://mainichi.jp/english/articles/20190513/p2g/00m/0dm/071000c

May 15, 2019 Posted by | fukushima 2019 | , , | Leave a comment

Fukushima plant radioactive water could be stored in tanks long term: gov’t source

Heading toward 1.37 million tons of strontium-90 tea, enough to give a 500ml portion to 2.74 billion people
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May 13, 2019
The Japanese administration is considering keeping the enormous and still growing volume of radioactively contaminated water at the disaster-stricken Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant in storage tanks for the long term, a source close to the government has told the Mainichi Shimbun.
Previously, five options to deal with the contaminated water were being compared: releasing it into the ocean; piping it into a deep stratum of the Earth’s crust; releasing it into the atmosphere as steam; encasing it in cement and burying it; and using electrolysis to hydrogenate tritium — a relatively low-impact radioactive element not filtered out with plant operator Tokyo Electric Power Co. (TEPCO)’s current decontamination systems — in the water before releasing it into the air.
However, strontium 90 — a radioactive element that can accumulate in the bones — was discovered in treated water in government maximum-busting concentrations just before August 2018 public hearings on the contaminated water problem. The revelation “completely destroyed the premise for discussions,” the Mainichi source said, and public worries about releasing the water into the environment prompted the government to reconsider.
As a result, a Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry expert committee on the contaminated water issue set to meet in June will add long-term tank storage to the existing five options.
According to the government source, the administration will take the expert committee’s opinions into account when it makes a final decision on the water problem. However, views in the prime minister’s office are apparently split. Furthermore, the government is worried that taking any decision ahead of the 2020 Tokyo Games could invite increased attention on the problem and risks the spread of harmful rumors, making it very difficult to project which method will be chosen.
Any of the options is expected to take about two years to implement, a senior industry ministry official said.
Meanwhile, Nuclear Regulation Authority (NRA) Chairman Toyoshi Fuketa warned at a March news conference that “the time when a decision must be made (on how to deal with the contaminated water) is very close indeed.”
There is already over 1 million metric tons of contaminated water stored on-site at the Fukushima Daiichi plant, while existing plans will see total capacity max out at 1.37 million tons in 2020. At the current rate of increase, all the 10-meter-tall tanks will be full in four to five years. It is thought that the government will look into processing the water in small quantities as the total volume nears capacity, beginning with the most lightly contaminated.
However, “from a scientific and technical standpoint, the only choice is to dilute it and release it into the ocean,” Fuketa said at the March news conference. The industry ministry’s panel of experts has released figures showing this is also the fastest and lowest-cost option.
The water volume continues to increase due to ground water flowing into the fractured reactor buildings, and the need to keep pumping more water into the shattered reactor cores to cool the nuclear fuel debris inside. Just after the March 2011 triple-meltdown at the plant triggered by the Great East Japan Earthquake and tsunami, the amount of groundwater flowing into the reactor buildings was around 400 tons daily. A subterranean ice wall and other measures have cut this by about half, but eliminating it entirely is impossible.
It is expected to take until 2051 to finish decommissioning the Fukushima Daiichi plant, including processing the contaminated water.
https://mainichi.jp/english/articles/20190513/p2a/00m/0na/006000c?fbclid=IwAR073VgJRSeZObQZWxnufaW7bQVUNFuGKIoJAdnxFOI-XzjQhvJa2pvqQQY

May 15, 2019 Posted by | fukushima 2019 | , , | Leave a comment

Fukushima’s mothers became radiation experts to protect their children after nuclear meltdown

 

1The mothers test everyday items including rice, vacuum cleaner dust, seafood, moss and soil for radiation

May 12, 2019
Inside a laboratory in Fukushima, Japan, the whirr of sophisticated equipment clicks, beeps and buzzes as women in lab coats move from station to station.
They are testing everything — rice, vacuum cleaner dust, seafood, moss and soil — for toxic levels of radiation.
But these lab workers are not typical scientists.
They are ordinary mums who have built an extraordinary clinic.
“Our purpose is to protect children’s health and future,” says lab director Kaori Suzuki.
In March 2011, nuclear reactors catastrophically melted down at the Fukushima Daiichi plant, following an earthquake and tsunami.
Driven by a desperate need to keep their children safe, a group of mothers began testing food and water in the prefecture.
The women, who had no scientific background, built the lab from the ground up, learning everything on the job.
The lab is named Tarachine, a Japanese word which means “beautiful mother”.
“As mothers, we had to find out what we can feed our children and if the water was safe,” Ms Suzuki says.

2“We had no choice but to measure the radiation and that’s why we started Tarachine.”

The director of the mothers’ lab in Fukushima said the aftermath of the disaster was “chaos.”
After the nuclear accident, Fukushima residents waited for radiation experts to arrive to help.
“No experts who knew about measuring radiation came to us. It was chaos,” she says.
In the days following the meltdown, a single decision by the Japanese Government triggered major distrust in official information which persists to this day.
The Government failed to quickly disclose the direction in which radioactive materials was drifting from the power plant.

3The mothers lost faith in government officials after they didn’t quickly communicate information about radiation levels.

Poor internal communications caused the delay, but the result was that thousands fled in the direction that radioactive materials were flying.
Former trade minister Banri Kaieda, who oversaw energy policy at the time, has said that he felt a “sense of shame” about the lack of disclosure.
But Kaori Suzuki said she still finds it difficult to trust the government.
“They lied and looked down on us, and a result, deceived the people,” Ms Suzuki says.
“So it’s hard for the people who experienced that to trust them.”
She and the other mothers who work part-time at the clinic feel great responsibility to protect the children of Fukushima.
But it hasn’t always been easy.
When they set up the lab, they relied on donated equipment, and none of them had experience in radiation testing.

4The women had to teach themselves how to use the equipment for their lab.

“There was nobody who could teach us and just the machines arrived,” Ms Suzuki says.
“At the time, the analysing software and the software with the machine was in English, so that made it even harder to understand.
“In the initial stage we struggled with English and started by listening to the explanation from the manufacturer. We finally got some Japanese software once we got started with using the machines.”
Radiation experts from top universities gave the mothers’ training, and their equipment is now among the most sophisticated in the country.

5The women were eventually taught more about testing radiation by world class experts.

 

Food safety is still an issue

The Fukushima plant has now been stabilised and radiation has come down to levels considered safe in most areas.
But contamination of food from Japan remains a hotly contested issue.
Australia was one of the first countries to lift import restrictions on Japanese food imports after the disaster.
But more than 20 countries and trading blocs have kept their import ban or restrictions on Japanese fisheries and agricultural products.
At the clinic in Fukushima, Kaori Suzuki said she accepted that decision.
“It doesn’t mean it’s right or wrong. I feel that’s just the decision they have made for now,” she says.
Most results in their lab are comparatively low, but the mothers say it is important there is transparency so that people know what their children are consuming.

Fukushima’s children closely monitored after meltdown

6Noriko Tanaka was three months pregnant when the Fukushima nuclear plant melted down.

Noriko Tanaka is one of many mothers in the region who felt that government officials were completely unprepared for the unfolding disaster.
She was three months pregnant with her son Haru when the disaster struck.
Ms Tanaka lived in Iwaki City, about 50 kilometres south of the power plant.

7The Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant melted down after the 2011 earthquake and tsunami.

Amid an unfolding nuclear crisis, she panicked that the radioactive iodine released from the meltdown would harm her unborn child.
She fled on the night of the disaster.
When she returned home 10 days later, the fear of contamination from the invisible, odourless radioactive material weighed deeply on her mind.
“I wish I was able to breastfeed the baby,” she says.
“[Radioactive] caesium was detected in domestic powdered milk, so I had to buy powdered milk made overseas to feed him.”
Ms Tanaka now has two children —seven-year-old Haru and three-year-old Megu.
She regularly takes them in for thyroid checks which are arranged free-of-charge by the mothers’ clinic.
Radiation exposure is a proven risk factor for thyroid cancer, but experts say it’s too early to tell what impact the nuclear meltdown will have on the children of Fukushima.
Noriko Tanaka is nervous as Haru’s thyroid is checked.
“In the last examination, the doctor said Haru had a lot of cysts, so I was very worried,” she says.
However this time, Haru’s results are better and he earns a high-five from Dr Yoshihiro Noso.
Doctors found that Haru had several cysts during his last thyroid check, but things look better this time.
“He said there was nothing to worry about, so I feel relieved after taking the test,” Ms Tanaka says.
“The doctor told me that the number of cysts will increase and decrease as he grows up.”
Dr Noso says his biggest concern is for children who were under five years old when the accident happened.
The risk is particularly high for girls.
Girls like Megu could be at greater risk than boys from radiation exposure.
“Even if I say there is nothing to worry medically, each mother is still worried,” he says.
“They feel this sense of responsibility because they let them play outside and drink the water. If they had proper knowledge of radiation, they would not have done that,” he said.

Mums and doctors fear for future of Fukushima’s children

After the Chernobyl nuclear disaster of 1986, the incidence of thyroid cancers increased suddenly after five years.
Dr Noso travels across the country to check up on the children of Fukushima.
Doctor Noso has operated on only one child from Fukushima, but it is too early to tell if the number of thyroid cancers is increasing because of the meltdown.
“There isn’t a way to distinguish between cancers that were caused naturally and those by the accident,” he says.
“In the case of Chernobyl, the thyroid cancer rate increased for about 10 years. It’s been eight years since the disaster and I would like to continue examinations for another two years.”
As each year passes, the mothers’ attention gradually turns to how their children will be treated in the future.

Noriko Tanaka’s biggest fear now is the potential discrimination her children may face.
Noriko Tanaka has a seven-year-old son and a three-year-old daughter.
Some children, whose families fled Fukushima to other parts of Japan have faced relentless bullying.
“Some children who evacuated from Fukushima living in other prefectures are being bullied [so badly that they] can’t go to school,” Noriko Tanaka said.
“The radiation level is low in the area we live in and it’s about the same as Tokyo, but we will be treated the same as the people who live in high-level radiation areas.”
Noriko is particularly worried for little Megu because of prejudice against the children of Fukushima.
“For girls, there are concerns about marriage and having children because of the possibility of genetic issues.”
Noriko fears her daughter Megu will face discrimination because she was born in the fallout zone
Source:
https://www.abc.net.au/news/2019-05-12/fukushima-mums-teach-themselves-how-to-be-radiation-experts/11082520

May 15, 2019 Posted by | fukushima 2019 | , , | Leave a comment

TEPCO to slice dangerous chimney at Fukushima plant

chimney reactors 1 & 2 10 may 2019.jpgA chimney for both the No. 1 and No. 2 reactors remains unrepaired at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant. At left is the No. 1 reactor building.

May 10, 2019
Tokyo Electric Power Co. plans to start work on May 20 to dismantle a 120-meter-tall, highly contaminated chimney that could collapse at the crippled Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant.
It will be the first highly radiated facility at the plant to be taken apart, the company said May 9.
The stack, with a diameter of 3.2 meters, was used for both the No. 1 and No. 2 reactors. TEPCO plans to remove the upper half of the chimney within this year to prevent the structure from collapsing.
The dismantling work will be conducted by remote control because the radiation level around the base of the chimney is the highest among all outdoor areas of the plant. Exposure to radiation at the base can cause death in several hours.
After the Great East Japan Earthquake and tsunami struck in March 2011, pressure increased in the containment vessel of the No. 1 reactor. Vapors with radioactive substances were sent through the chimney to the outside.
TEPCO also found fractures in steel poles supporting the chimney. The damage was likely caused by a hydrogen explosion at the No. 1 reactor building when the nuclear disaster was unfolding.
Since then, the chimney has been left unrepaired because of the high radiation levels.
Immediately after the nuclear accident, a radiation level exceeding 10 sieverts per hour was observed around the base of the chimney. In a survey conducted in 2015, a radiation level of 2 sieverts per hour was detected there.
TEPCO will use a large crane that will hold special equipment to cut the chimney in round slices from the top.
The company set up a remote control room in a large remodeled bus about 200 meters from the chimney. Workers will operate the special cutting equipment while watching footage from 160 video cameras.
http://www.asahi.com/ajw/articles/AJ201905100045.html

May 15, 2019 Posted by | fukushima 2019 | , , , | Leave a comment

Tokyo 2020 – The Radioactive Olympics

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In 2020, Japan is inviting athletes from around the world to take part in the Tokyo Olympic and Paralympic Games. We are hoping for the games to be fair and peaceful. At the same time, we are worried about plans to host baseball and softball competitions in Fukushima City, just 50 km away from the ruins of the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant. It was here, in 2011, that multiple nuclear meltdowns took place, spreading radioactivity across Japan and the Pacific Ocean – a catastrophe comparable only to the nuclear meltdown of Chernobyl.

The ecological and social consequences of this catastrophe can be seen everywhere in the country: whole families uprooted from their ancestral homes, deserted evacuation zones, hundreds of thousands of bags of irradiated soil dumped all over the country, contaminated forests, rivers and lakes. Normality has not returned to Japan. The reactors continue to be a radiation hazard as further catastrophes could occur at any time. Every day adds more radioactive contamination to the ocean, air and soil. Enormous amounts of radioactive waste are stored on the premises of the power plant in the open air. Should there be another earthquake, these would pose a grave danger to the population and the environment. The nuclear catastrophe continues today. On the occasion of the Olympic Games 2020, we are planning an international campaign. We are concerned about the health effects of the ongoing radioactive contamination in the region, especially for people more vulnerable to radiation, such as children and pregnant women.

According to official Japanese government estimates, the Olympic Games will cost more than the equivalent of 12 billion Euros. At the same time, the Japanese government is threatening to cut support to all evacuees who are unwilling to return to the region. International regulations limit the permitted dose for the general public of additional radiation following a nuclear accident to 1 mSv per year. In areas where evacuation orders were recently lifted, the returning population will be exposed to levels up to 20 mSv per year. Even places that have undergone extensive decontamination efforts could be recontaminated at any time by unfavourable weather conditions, as mountains and forests serve as a continuous depot for radioactive particles. Our campaign will focus on educating the public about the dangers of the nuclear industry. We will explain what health threats the Japanese population was and is exposed to today. Even during normal operations, nuclear power plants pose a threat to public health – especially to infants and unborn children. There is still no safe permanent depository site for the toxic inheritance of the nuclear industry anywhere on earth, that is a fact.

We plan to use the media attention generated by the Olympic Games to support Japanese initiatives calling for a nuclear phase-out and to promote a worldwide energy revolution: away from fossil and nuclear fuels and towards renewable energy generation. We need to raise awareness of the involvement of political representatives around the world in the militaryindustrial complex. We denounce the attempt of the Japanese government to pretend that normality has returned to the contaminated regions of Japan. We call on all organisations to join our network and help us put together a steering group to coordinate this campaign. The Olympic Games are still two years away – now is still time to get organised. We look forward to hearing from you, with best regards,

For the campaign „Nuclear Free Olympic Games 2020“:
Annette Bänsch-Richter-Hansen
Jörg Schmid
Henrik Paulitz
Alex Rosen

30 years living with Chernobyl
5 years living with Fukushima

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http://www.radioactive-olympics.org/information-in-english/appeal/artikel/0594b31684814af50e1e2d5f9cfac1ca/tokyo-2020-the-radioactive-olympic-2.html

May 15, 2019 Posted by | fukushima 2019 | , | Leave a comment

South Korea plans to continue to ban all seafood imports from Fukushima Prefecture and seven other prefectures near Fukushima to protect public health and food safety

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SEJONG, May 7 (Yonhap) — South Korea’s new ocean minister vowed Tuesday to ensure that potentially dangerous seafood will not reach South Korean tables.
“There should never be anything that could compromise public health” and food safety, Moon Seong-hyeok, minister of oceans and fisheries, said in a meeting with reporters ahead of his planned meeting with the top Japanese envoy.
Moon is set to meet with Japan’s Ambassador to South Korea Yasumasa Nakamine in Sejong, an administrative hub located 130 kilometers southeast of Seoul, on Wednesday at Nakamine’s request.
Moon plans to stress that South Korea’s import restrictions on Japanese seafood are a legitimate measure meant to protect public health.
South Korea banned all seafood imports from eight Japanese prefectures near Fukushima in 2013. The move came after Japan announced the leak of contaminated water following the 2011 meltdown of the Fukushima nuclear power plant.
In April, the World Trade Organization finalized its ruling in favor of South Korea’s import restrictions on Japanese seafood.
Moon also plans to call for a quick conclusion to South Korea-Japan fisheries negotiations, according to the ministry.
The last bilateral fisheries agreement expired in June 2016. South Korea and Japan have since failed to narrow their differences on fishing quotas and other issues.
Last month, Moon sent a letter to Japan calling for fisheries talks, though there has been no response from Japan.
https://en.yna.co.kr/view/AEN20190507008000320?fbclid=IwAR2lhWxIqnXaIibyjYLtE8bqJp03sBCNpYms0v52KSkj_F2UDCzvbiCO47s

May 8, 2019 Posted by | fukushima 2019 | , , , | Leave a comment

New Discovery At Fukushima Unit 3 Provides Clues To Meltdown Severity, Environmental Releases

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May 3, 2019
TEPCO recently published a video of the work to remove spent fuel from the unit 3 fuel pool. In this video was an unexpected finding with serious implications.
In the video of the fuel assembly removal from a fuel rack inside the spent fuel pool, was a tell tale sign of something significant. Prior to the effort to remove fuel from the pool, the pool underwent significant cleaning work. This included removing most of the debris that fell into the pool along with use of a vacuum to remove small pieces of broken concrete and dust.
What remains adhered to the side of the fuel rack appears to be the same thick white substances found inside the reactor containment of unit 3 and in the pedestal below the reactor vessel. These substances also have the same appearance as those inside containment. They are stuck to both vertical and horizontal surfaces as if they splattered then stuck to where they landed. What these may be and how they managed to end up on the fuel racks is explained further in this report.
Read more:
Simply Info

New Discovery At Fukushima Unit 3 Provides Clues To Meltdown Severity, Environmental Releases

May 8, 2019 Posted by | fukushima 2019 | , , | Leave a comment

Novellas express anger after Fukushima disaster

sacred cesium and isa's deluge“Sacred Cesium Ground and Isa’s Deluge: Two Novellas of Japan’s 3/11 Disaster,” by Yusuke Kimura, translated by Doug Slaymaker (Columbia University Press, 2019, 176 pages, $60 hardcover, $20 paperback)

May 2, 2019
TOKYO >> An anger directed toward Tokyo underlies Yusuke Kimura’s two novellas, “Sacred Cesium Ground” and “Isa’s Deluge.” Born from a keen sense of abandonment felt by the Tohoku region in the aftermath of the catastrophic earthquake and tsunami on March 11, 2011, and the subsequent nuclear accident at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant, this anger plays out across stories exploring the post-disaster relationships between humans and animals.
The protagonist in “Sacred Cesium Ground” is a woman who travels to Fukushima Prefecture to volunteer at the Fortress of Hope, a farm where cattle irradiated by the Fukushima No. 1 power plant meltdown are tended to despite a government order to kill them.
Based on the story of a real post-Fukushima ranch, the novella carries with it a weight of research born from the author’s own volunteering, though it proves ultimately unsatisfying, never quite reaching the moment of reinvention that the lead character hints at throughout.
“Isa’s Deluge” is the more readable of the two, with a flow and pacing that draws in the reader. Shortlisted for the Mishima Yukio Prize after it was first published in 2012, it follows a family of fishermen who relate the story of their uncle Isa and his “deluge” of pain and depression, an allegory of the 3/11 tsunami.
Both novellas highlight peripheral voices in the post-3/11 period and ultimately return time and again to that tension between a “sacrificial” Tohoku and an all-powerful capital. These perspectives are those not frequently heard and challenge the widespread narrative of an ever-dominant Tokyo.
https://www.staradvertiser.com/2019/05/02/news/novellas-express-anger-after-fukushima-disaster/?fbclid=IwAR362Oqn0duTDDCRh0Ta6AIklIq8ippMFC1PbBVUp2bN2v4NupNVg1YS_9I

May 8, 2019 Posted by | fukushima 2019 | , , , | Leave a comment

Japan’s nuclear horror relived as people return to Fukushima’s ghost towns

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April 29, 2019
More than 200,000 inhabitants within a 20km radius were forced to evacuate, after the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant was damaged by the Japan Tsunami in 2011
Wide streets still lie empty, scavenging boar and monkeys the only signs of life.
Only wild animals, and the 6ft weeds, which have rampaged through deserted homes and businesses, suffocating once-chatty barbers shops and bustling grocery stores; strangling playgrounds and their rusting rides which lie empty and eerily still.
Laundry hangs where it was pegged out to dry, clock faces are frozen in time, traffic lights flash through their colours to empty roads, meals laid out on tables in family homes, remain uneaten.
Once unextraordinary, mundane symbols of everyday lives have taken on the appearance of a horror film set in these areas closest to the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power station on the coast of north-east Japan, eight years after the devastating tsunami which caused a meltdown at three of the plant’s reactors, forcing tens of thousands to flee.
The earthquake on March 11, 2011, claimed 19,000 lives, and triggered the world’s largest nuclear disaster since Chernobyl.
Radiation leaking in fatal quantities forced 160,000 people to evacuate immediately, and most to this day have not returned to their toxic towns and villages.
Yet there are now areas, ever closer to the plant, beginning to show signs of awakening.
The government is keen residents return as soon as it is safe, and this month around 40% of the town of Okuma, which sits just west of the plant, was declared safe for habitation thanks to ongoing decontamination efforts carried out on an superhuman scale.
The official mandatory evacuation order was lifted, and while reports reveal just 367 residents of Okuma’s original population of 10,341 have so far made the decision to return, and most of the town remains off-limits, the Japanese government is keen this be seen as a positive start to re-building this devastated area.
“This is a major milestone for the town,” Toshitsuna Watanabe, mayor of Okuma, told Japanese news outlets, as six pensioners locally dubbed ‘The Old Man Squad’, who had taken it upon themselves to defy advice and keep their town secure, finally ceased their patrols.
“It has taken many years to get to where we are now, but I am happy that we made it.”
The Japanese Prime Minister, Shinzo Abe, visited to mark the milestone.
The government is particularly keen to show progress before the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo.
Six Olympic softball games and a baseball game will be staged in Fukushima, the capital of this prefecture, which is free of radiation.
The torch relay will even begin at J Village, which was once the base for the crisis response team. Hearteningly, it is now back to its original function, a football training centre.
But the truth is, it is mainly older residents who have decided to return to their homes.
Seimei Sasaki, 93, explained his family have roots here stretching back 500 years.
His neighbourhood in Odaka district now only contains 23 of its original 230.
“I can’t imagine what this village’s future looks like,” he admitted.
Young families are few and far between – these areas are still a terrifying prospect for parents.
But the re-built schools are slowly filling a handful of classroom seats.
Namie Sosei primary and middle school, less then three miles from the plant, has seven pupils.
One teacher said: “The most frustrating thing for them is that they can’t play team sports.”
A sad irony as the Olympics approach.
And with so many residents still fearful, so the deadly clean-up operation continues.
Work to make the rest of Okuma safe is predicted to take until 2022. The area which was its centre is still a no-go zone.
In the years following the disaster, 70,000 workers removed topsoil, tree branches, grass and other contaminated material from areas near homes, schools and public buildings.
A staggering £21billion has been spent in order to make homes safe.
Millions of cubic metres of radioactive soil has been packed into bags.
By 2021 it is predicted 14million cubic metres will have been generated.
The mass scale operation uses thousands of workers. Drivers are making 1,600 return trips a day.
But residents understandably want it moved out of Fukushima for good.
As yet, no permanent location has agreed to take it, but the government has pledged it will be gone by 2045.
At Daiichi itself, the decontamination teams are battling with the build up of 1m tonnes of radioactive water.
The operator has also finally begun removing fuel from a cooling pool at one of three reactors that melted down in the 2011 disaster.
Decommissioning the plant entirely is expected to take at least four decades.
The efforts to return this area to its former glory are mammoth, and even if they ever fully succeed, it will surely take many more years until most former residents and their descendants gain enough trust to return.

May 1, 2019 Posted by | fukushima 2019 | , , | Leave a comment

Japan insists on pushing its contaminated seafood to South Korea, despite WTO ruling!

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Japan denounces WTO ruling in favor of South Korean ban on some Japanese seafood
GENEVA – Tokyo on Friday denounced a recent World Trade Organization ruling that supported a South Korean ban on imports of some Japanese fishery products introduced in the wake of the 2011 Fukushima nuclear disaster.
“Japan is deeply concerned that the appellate body report dismissed the panel’s findings founded on solid scientific evidence,” Junichi Ihara, Japan’s representative in Geneva, said at a meeting of the global trade watchdog’s dispute settlement body.
The WTO’s appellate body for dispute settlement on April 11 ruled in favor of South Korea’s import ban on fishery products from Fukushima and seven other prefectures, reversing an earlier decision.
It said the initial decision “erred in its interpretation and application” of WTO rules on food safety, but did not look at details related to the amount of radioactive contaminants in Japanese food products or the level of protection South Korean consumers should have.
Calling the appellate body’s judgment “extremely regrettable,” Ihara argued that it “could have a negative impact on perceptions of the safety of Japanese foods and on those seeking to export their products to countries such as Korea.”
The ruling is final, as the appellate body is the highest authority in the WTO’s dispute-settlement mechanism.

May 1, 2019 Posted by | fukushima 2019 | , , | Leave a comment

Japan needs thousands of foreign workers to decommission Fukushima plant, prompting backlash from anti-nuke campaigners and rights activists

Activists are not convinced working at the site is safe for anyone and they fear foreign workers will feel ‘pressured’ to ignore risks if jobs are at risk
Towns and villages around the plant are still out of bounds because radiation levels are dangerously high
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Workers move waste containing radiated soil, leaves and debris from the decontamination operation at a storage site in Naraha town.
26 Apr, 2019
Anti-nuclear campaigners have teamed up with human rights activists in Japan to condemn plans by the operator of the crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant to hire foreign workers to help decommission the facility.
Tokyo Electric Power Co (TEPCO) has announced it will take advantage of the government’s new working visa scheme, which was introduced on April 1 and permits thousands of foreign workers to come to Japan to meet soaring demand for labourers. The company has informed subcontractors overseas nationals will be eligible to work cleaning up the site and providing food services.
About 4,000 people work at the plant each day as experts attempt to decommission three reactors that melted down in the aftermath of the March 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake and the huge tsunami it triggered. Towns and villages around the plant are still out of bounds because radiation levels are dangerously high.
TEPCO has stated foreign workers employed at the site must have Japanese language skills sufficient for them to understand instructions and the risks they face. Workers will also be required to carry dosimeters to monitor their exposure to radiation.
Activists are far from convinced working at the site is safe for anyone and they fear foreign workers will feel “pressured” to ignore the risks if their jobs are at risk.
“We are strongly opposed to the plan because we have already seen that workers at the plant are being exposed to high levels of radiation and there have been numerous breaches of labour standards regulations,” said Hajime Matsukubo, secretary general of the Tokyo-based Citizens’ Nuclear Information Centre. “Conditions for foreign workers at many companies across Japan are already bad but it will almost certainly be worse if they are required to work decontaminating a nuclear accident site.”
Companies are desperately short of labourers, in part because of the construction work connected to Tokyo hosting the 2020 Olympic Games, while TEPCO is further hampered because any worker who has been exposed to 50 millisieverts of radiation in a single year or 100 millisieverts over five years is not permitted to remain at the plant. Those limits mean the company must find labourers from a shrinking pool.
In February, the Tokyo branch of Human Rights Now submitted a statement to the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva demanding action be taken to help and protect people with homes near the plant and workers at the site.
“It has been reported that vulnerable people have been illegally deceived by decontamination contractors into conducting decontamination work without their informed consent, threatening their lives, including asylum seekers under false promises and homeless people working below minimum wage,” the statement said. “Much clean-up depends on inexperienced subcontractors with little scrutiny as the government rushes decontamination for the Olympic Games.”
Cade Moseley, an official of the organisation, said there are “very clear, very definite concerns”.
“There is evidence that foreign workers in Japan have already felt under pressure to do work that is unsafe and where they do not fully understand the risks involved simply because they are worried they will lose their working visas if they refuse,” he said.
In an editorial published on Wednesday, the Mainichi newspaper also raised concerns about the use of semi-skilled foreign labourers at the site.
“There is a real risk of radiation exposure at the Daiichi plant and the terminology used on-site is highly technical, making for a difficult environment,” the paper said. “TEPCO and its partners must not treat the new foreign worker system as an employee pool that they can simply dip into.”
The paper pointed out that it may be difficult to accurately determine foreign employees’ radiation levels if they have been working in the nuclear industry before coming to Japan, while they may also confront problems in the event of an accident and they need to apply for workers’ accident compensation. TEPCO has played down the concerns.
“About 4,000 Japanese workers are already working on the decommissioning and clean-up work at Fukushima Dai-ichi,” the company said. “The amendment to the regulations on workers from overseas is a measure that creates more employment opportunities, including for foreign nationals with specific skills.
“In March, TEPCO explained the new regulations to its contractor companies involved in the clean-up work at Fukushima Dai-ichi and we have also confirmed that those companies will be in compliance with the regulations covering the safety of workers.”

May 1, 2019 Posted by | fukushima 2019 | , | Leave a comment

Safety, language measures needed for foreigners to work at Fukushima plant

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April 24, 2019
Tokyo Electric Power Co. (TEPCO) is preparing to bring in
foreign workers with special technical skills to join decommissioning work on the disaster-stricken Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant.
At present, an average of 4,000 employees of TEPCO and cooperating firms work at the facility every day. Laws and regulations stipulate that workers’ radiation exposure must be limited to 50 millisieverts in a single year, and 100 millisieverts over five years. No one is allowed to stay at the plant once they hit one of these caps, so waves of new employees must be brought in to maintain worker numbers.
Decommissioning the Daiichi plant, which suffered a triple core meltdown in the wake of the March 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake and tsunami, is expected to take 30 to 40 years. Whether the companies involved can sustain sufficient staffing levels will be one factor that determines the success or failure of the project.
When it comes to tapping foreign labor to make up the required numbers, the Justice Ministry — which has jurisdiction over Japan’s immigration system — has already declined to approve sending foreign technical intern trainees to work at the plant. One of the core tenets of the foreign technical trainee program is that the job placements must provide the trainees with skills they can use in their home countries, and working to decommission a devastated nuclear plant did not fit the bill.
TEPCO is now turning its eyes to foreign workers with Category 1 work visas, one of the new residency statuses launched on April 1 and aimed at those with certain skills and experience. Technical trainees with three years’ experience in Japan can obtain this visa without a skills exam.
However, there is a real risk of radiation exposure at the Daiichi plant, and the terminology used on-site is highly technical, making for a difficult environment. TEPCO and its partners must not treat the new foreign worker system as an employee pool they can simply dip into.
The workers’ Japanese level is particularly a cause for worry. To obtain a Category 1 visa, applicants must speak Japanese at only a “daily conversational” level. However, anyone working at the Daiichi site must understand a slew of technical terms related to radiation and other facets of the decommissioning process, meaning a very high level of Japanese is absolutely indispensable. If foreign employees begin working there without having learned the necessary terminology, we believe there is a real risk they could be ordered to do jobs that exposed them to radiation.
TEPCO has said it is up to its project partners whether they employ Category 1 foreign workers. In fact, the majority of people at Fukushima Daiichi are employed by one of the firms that make up the layers upon layers of subcontractors working on the decommissioning. Nevertheless, as the company heading the project, TECPO has a responsibility to oversee the conditions of every worker, right down to the bottom of the pyramid.
Furthermore, if a foreign worker has been exposed to radiation overseas, that dose must be added to their sievert count at the plant. However, it is up to the worker to report any previous radiation exposure, which can make it difficult to properly track and manage their doses.
If a worker develops a radiation-related illness after returning to their home country, will they be able to smoothly apply for workers’ accident compensation? This is also a serious worry.
If Japan is to accept foreign workers to help decommission the Fukushima Daiichi plant, it is absolutely essential to create the appropriate environment, including measures to boost their Japanese skills and strengthen radiation exposure management.

May 1, 2019 Posted by | fukushima 2019 | , | Leave a comment

TEPCO transfers some fuel from Fukushima plant No. 3 unit pool

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This photo taken from a Kyodo News helicopter shows a trailer (bottom center) thought to be carrying nuclear fuel from one of the reactor buildings at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant.
April 23, 2019
FUKUSHIMA, Japan(Kyodo) — The operator of the crippled Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant said Tuesday it has transferred some nuclear fuel from one of the reactor buildings damaged by hydrogen explosions in the 2011 disaster to another location for safer storage and management.
It was the first removal of such fuel from storage pools of the Nos. 1 to 3 units, which suffered meltdowns after losing power in the crisis triggered by a massive earthquake and tsunami.
Seven unspent fuel rod assemblies were transferred Tuesday to a common pool about 100 meters away, according to Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings Inc.
The transfer of nuclear fuel, which emits high levels of radiation, from the No. 3 unit pool is expected to lower the risk of the decommissioning work. The utility began the process of removing fuel there on April 15.
At around 11:15 a.m. Tuesday, a trailer began relocating the fuel assemblies, placed in a cylinder-shaped cask, to the common pool. The task was completed in about 20 minutes, carried out by about a dozen workers donning protective gear.
Since the common pool undergoes regular checkups required by law, the fuel transfer will be suspended possibly until July, the operator said.
TEPCO aims to transfer all of the remaining 559 spent and unspent fuel assemblies in the No. 3 unit storage pool to the common pool by March 2021.
The fuel removal at the No. 3 unit was originally scheduled to start in late 2014, but was pushed back multiple times as high levels of radiation, among other factors, caused delays in preparation of fuel transfer.
In fiscal 2023, the utility aims to start the task of removing fuel at the storage pools of the Nos. 1-2 units and has been assessing their surroundings.
Even if the fuel removal work progresses smoothly, TEPCO still faces the biggest challenge involved in the decommissioning of the crippled plant — retrieval of melted fuel that has dripped down in the containment vessels — at the Nos. 1-3 units.

April 23, 2019 Posted by | fukushima 2019 | , , , | Leave a comment

Fukushima exports beef to the U.S. ?

I am sure that some of our american friends will be interested to know that there is not enough beef in the U.S., that U.S. needs to import Fukushima beef!!!

Fukushima agricultural exports bounce back from nuclear disaster to hit record high

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Farmers harvest onions in Minamisoma, Fukushima Prefecture.
April 23, 2019
FUKUSHIMA – Exports of agricultural products produced in Fukushima Prefecture rose about 2 percent in fiscal 2018 to a record 217.8 tons, according to the prefectural government.
Fukushima’s agricultural exports suffered a long slump due to the 2011 nuclear crisis.
But exports hit a record high for the second straight year, backed by an expansion in rice exports to Malaysia in fiscal 2017 and in exports of Japanese pears and other items to Vietnam and Thailand in fiscal 2018.
In fiscal 2018, which ended last month, exports of peaches and Japanese persimmons were sluggish due in part to unfavorable weather.
Shipments of rice to Malaysia, at about 115 tons, led the total exports, as in fiscal 2017. Exports of apples to Thailand and beef to the United States also grew.
Following the disaster at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant, the prefecture’s agricultural exports plunged due to import restrictions by countries concerned about radioactive contamination, falling to 2.4 tons in fiscal 2012.
The prefectural government has strengthened efforts to boost exports to Southeast Asian countries since the restrictions were scrapped.
In fiscal 2017, Fukushima’s agricultural exports came to 213.3 tons, exceeding the then-record of 152.9 tons in fiscal 2010, helped by about 101 tons of rice shipments to Malaysia.

April 23, 2019 Posted by | fukushima 2019 | , , | Leave a comment