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A message from Forest Measurement Laboratory in Namegawa

March 6, 2021

A message from a representative of the Forest Measurement Laboratory, a group that measures radioactivity in Saitama Prefecture, just north of Tokyo. It was founded in the fall of 2012 mainly by mothers after the Fukushima nuclear disaster.

They thought that measurements by municipalities were not sufficient to protect their children from radiation exposure, so they started this project by themselves.

March 23, 2021 Posted by | Fukushima 2021 | , | Leave a comment

Fukushima, a ‘coordinator’ for the nuclear-stricken area, takes a cue from the U.S. to break away from reconstruction dependent on the government


March 6, 2021, 18:07 (Kyodo News)
 On March 6, a private organization called Fukushima Hamadori Tridec was established to serve as a coordinator between industry, government and academia in the areas affected by the accident at Tokyo Electric Power Company’s Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant. In order to promote the reconstruction that the coastal residents of Fukushima Prefecture desire, the organization aims to unite the demands of the region and take the brunt of negotiations with the government and other parties.
 The 43 founding members include local business people, researchers, and politicians. The organization will be incorporated as a general incorporated association and will invite individual and corporate members. Takayuki Nakamura, vice president of East Japan International University (Iwaki City), who will serve as the secretariat, said, “We will break away from our traditional stance of depending on the government. We will decide our own fate,” he said of the founding principles.

https://www.tokyo-np.co.jp/article/89939?fbclid=IwAR0IVgauLUBacHECWFx2axSSV7o5CUqvtvxw6KcLJtZ6A1bqoHtwcQ-cEl8

March 23, 2021 Posted by | Fukushima 2021 | , , | Leave a comment

Fukushima nuclear crisis evacuees face unresolved issues 10 years on

Almost 10 years on from a devastating earthquake and tsunami that hit northeastern Japan and triggered one of the worst nuclear disasters in history, Seiichi Nakate still has not returned home.

He is just one of around 30,000 evacuees from Fukushima Prefecture who remained scattered around the country as of February this year, according to government data.

Photo taken Oct. 22, 2017 shows makeshift housing in Iwaki, Fukushima Prefecture, built for evacuees from Futaba, a town co-hosting the crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear complex.

March 5, 2021

And while the numbers — including those who voluntarily fled without an evacuation order — have halved from their peak of 62,831 in March 2012, many of the issues facing evacuees remain unresolved.

Nakate, who was living in the prefectural capital of Fukushima when the earthquake struck on March 11, 2011, said the disaster had “pulled the rug out from under” him and left him feeling like he was “fading away.”

While the city was not designated for forced evacuations after the reactor meltdowns at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant some 60 kilometers away, concerns over radiation led Nakate and his wife to decide two weeks later that she and their two children should move to western Japan while he stayed on in the city.

It was not until around a year and a half later that the family finally started living together again, setting up home in Sapporo, the capital of Japan’s northern main island of Hokkaido, where they still remain.

Nakate, 60, currently co-heads Hinan no Kenri, a Hokkaido-based group fighting for the rights of Fukushima evacuees throughout Japan.

The movement was established in 2015 amid government efforts to promote the return of people to Fukushima — a drive that he says was conducted without consideration to the needs and desires of evacuees.

“It had been more than four years since the accident, and the central and local governments were moving forward with lifting evacuation orders, ending compensation, and promoting the return of evacuees as if ignoring our existence and will,” Nakate said.

His organization has a variety of demands for the central government, the foremost being a survey of the actual situation of evacuees, which he believes it has deliberately avoided doing so far.

Critics say the figures compiled by the central government do not accurately reflect reality as they are based on a system under which evacuees voluntarily register themselves as such with their new municipalities of residence.

In December last year, the Fukushima government, using central government data, reported that there were around 36,000 evacuees across Japan, including those within the prefecture. But the total reported by individual local municipalities in Fukushima added up to more than 67,000.

The picture is complicated by the fact that there is no consistency in how municipalities count their evacuees, with some continuing to list all the people who were registered as residents at the time of the disaster.

Nakate also highlighted that economic disparities among evacuees appear to be widening, in part due to “the narrow scope of compensation and the lack of government support.” For example, evacuees who fled from areas without evacuation orders were not eligible for any compensation in terms of rent.

And while some evacuees have fully settled into their new homes, others have been compelled to resettle in the crisis-hit prefecture due to financial difficulties, often caused by family members living separately, he says.

One of the “most pressing issues” his organization is dealing with is trouble over the termination of a scheme financed by Fukushima Prefecture for evacuees to live in vacant units of housing complexes for government workers in other parts of Japan.

The housing was initially offered for free but this arrangement expired in March 2017 for those who fled without an evacuation order, with the accommodation then offered for a maximum of two more years if normal rent was paid.

But some families, claiming financial difficulties, have decided to stay put. The Fukushima government, which had shouldered the rent, demanded in 2019 twice the normal rent as damages and filed a suit last year against four families still living in a Tokyo condominium for bureaucrats.

Yayoi Haraguchi, a sociology professor at Ibaraki University and head of nonprofit organization Fuainet:

Yayoi Haraguchi, a sociology professor at Ibaraki University, said that while most Fukushima evacuees have settled into a rhythm, issues such as poverty, unemployment, a sense of alienation, and mental distress have continued over the past decade.

“It may look like things are alright, but many unseen issues lie under the surface,” said Haraguchi, 48, who also heads Fuainet, a local nonprofit organization providing support to Fukushima evacuees in Ibaraki, northeast of Tokyo.

Haraguchi said she has encountered evacuees in their 20s to 40s who have fallen into depression or become social recluses after they were unable to find a job. Yet others are struggling financially despite having received government compensation for a period of time.

“A study by Fukushima Medical University Hospital showed that those who evacuated to outside Fukushima Prefecture were more likely to suffer from mental issues than those who had evacuated to somewhere within the prefecture,” she said.

While the initial evacuations were often hurried, many of those remaining outside the prefecture have since moved in search of a better life, she said, often choosing to settle in Ibaraki Prefecture bordering Fukushima to its south.

Part of Ibaraki’s appeal to evacuees, she explained, is its cheaper cost of living compared to Tokyo and relatively mild climate.

Post-disaster evacuations were also not limited to Fukushima, with some residents of Tokyo — located about 200 kilometers away from the crippled nuclear power plant — choosing to leave the capital, and even the country, due to their perceptions of how the radiation contamination could affect their health.

Freelance journalist and translator Mari Takenouchi, now based in Okinawa:

Freelance journalist and translator Mari Takenouchi, who has long held strong antinuclear views, fled from Tokyo to Okinawa with her infant son just days after the disaster. She says she picked the southern island prefecture as it is one of the few places in Japan free of nuclear power plants.

“If (the government) doesn’t shut down its nuclear power plants, it is dangerous to live in mainland Japan,” she said. “Japan is on the border of four (tectonic) plates, and 20 percent of the world’s major earthquakes of magnitude 6 or greater occur here.”

Since moving to Okinawa, the 54-year-old has worked to create greater awareness about the effects of radiation on children and fetuses. “The situation after the Fukushima accident has not become better, but worse. Considering the occasional earthquakes, all of us are still at great risk,” she said.

Kaori Nagatsuka, a former Tokyo resident who moved to Malaysia with her two children after the 2011 Fukushima nuclear crisis:

Kaori Nagatsuka, 52, another former resident of Tokyo, moved to Malaysia with her 9-year-old daughter and 2-year-old son in March 2012, also due to concerns over her children’s health.

Shortly after moving to Penang, Nagatsuka assisted other evacuees who were considering migrating outside of Japan by letting them stay in her home and volunteering to show them around potential schools for their children.

“There were quite a lot of people who wanted to emigrate in consideration of their children’s health but in the end couldn’t for various reasons,” said Nagatsuka, who now works for a local Malaysian company as a travel and education consultant.

Nagatsuka said she chose Malaysia due to its lower cost of living compared to other countries and relative proximity to Japan. But despite her husband remaining in Tokyo due to work, she has not returned home even once since leaving.

The family meets on occasion in either Malaysia or Taiwan, where their daughter, now 19, currently studies. And while her children are free to choose where they want to live in the future, Nagatsuka says she personally has taken a liking to Malaysia and has no plans to return to Japan.

“If I return to Japan, my children will likely come and visit me and that worries me because I think it could damage their health,” she said. “I raised my children with an aim that they could live in any country and I fulfilled my goal, so I’m glad I came here.”

https://english.kyodonews.net/news/2021/03/4f4dce2cf53d-feature-fukushima-nuclear-crisis-evacuees-face-unresolved-issues-10-years-on.html

March 23, 2021 Posted by | Fukushima 2021 | , | Leave a comment

Complaint by residents of Iitaté against TEPCo and the State for exposure to radioactivity


March 5, 2021

The commune of Iitaté, located beyond the 30 km radius, was evacuated late. The order to evacuate was announced on April 11, 2011 and the inhabitants had one month to leave. During this time, those who had not left the area by themselves were exposed to radioactive fallout.


29 residents of Iitaté filed a lawsuit against TEPCo and the State and asked for 200 million yen of damages because the authorities had told them at the beginning of the disaster that it was not necessary to leave. The lack of information about the increase in radiation levels deprived them of their right to evacuate and left them unnecessarily exposed.

They also claim that the subsequent evacuation of the entire village caused them to lose their homes and farms, destroyed their community and deprived them of their hometown.


The leader of the plaintiffs, Kanno Hiroshi, says that he has developed illnesses over the past ten years and that concerns about the effects of radiation will never go away. He holds the government and the plant operator responsible.


This is the first class action suit filed to seek compensation for radiation exposure during the early days of the nuclear accident.


It should be noted that the first independent measurements carried out by ACRO in Japan following the Fukushima nuclear disaster concerned Iitaté. See the results and the press release of the time. These results showed an alarming situation.

ACRO wrote that iodine-131 contamination was preponderant, with levels such that it would be prudent to evacuate the village of Iitate: at the place called Maeda, we had detected 1.9 million becquerels per square meter. Regarding radioactive cesium, almost all the areas monitored by ACRO were above the limits set in Belarus for migration.

March 23, 2021 Posted by | Fukushima 2021 | , , | Leave a comment

After 3/11, emergency import of a concrete pump vehicle from China allowed for nuclear power plant cooling

Translated from Japanese by Dennis Riches

March 13, 2021

In order to prevent further damage caused by the accident at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant, caused by the Great East Japan Earthquake that occurred on March 11, 2011, it was urgent to cool the reactors. At that time, a concrete pump vehicle from China was used to perform this critical task. This is the story of how it came to be used.

At that time, TEPCO and the Japanese government searched for various ways to cool the reactors, and none of the attempts, such as dropping water from helicopters or releasing water using fire engines, were successful. Because it had to avoid radiation exposure as much as possible, the helicopter was almost completely ineffective. It had to drop water from a fairly high position and it was pushed back by the wind. The fire engine was not high enough at all, so it had no effect.

Therefore, it was understood that the sort of vehicle used for pumping concrete through a long boom would be needed. A concrete pump truck is a machine used in construction that can pump concrete to a high height through a collapsible boom. Thus TEPCO wondered if this machine could be used to pump water into the reactors. This would be more effective than using fire trucks and helicopters, but there was one big problem.

Regulations of the Road Transport Vehicle Act limited the angle and total vehicle weight to 25 tons, so the length of the boom on machines in Japan was limited to a maximum of 36 m, and there were no 60m-class pump vehicles in Japan that could be used for water-pouring work at a nuclear power plant.

As a result of searching around the world, they found a concrete pump vehicle with a boom of 62 meters in length manufactured by a construction machinery manufacturer called Sanshi Heavy Industries in China. In addition, it was a pump vehicle with very good performance, and it was possible to remotely operate it from two kilometers away. TEPCO immediately told Sanshi Heavy Industries in China that it would like to purchase it through Sanshi Heavy Industries’ Japanese subsidiary, but Mr. Liang Onkon, president of Sanshi Heavy Industries, gave a surprising response.

“Please do not sell to Japan. Don’t sell. Japan is a neighboring country. We share the ocean to our east. Now is the time to reach out to help. The pump vehicle will be donated to the disaster-stricken areas of Japan.” In other words, instead of selling a concrete pump vehicle worth 150 million yen, he replied that he wanted to provide it free of charge. And they didn’t just send vehicles. He said that three expert engineers from Sanshi Heavy Industries would also come to Japan to give lessons on how to operate the machine.

The president of WWB Co., Ltd., a Japanese agent of Sanshi Heavy Industries, looks back on the situation at that time. “When the donation was decided, soon Sanshi Heavy Industries searched for a pump truck with a 62m boom. We found that, very fortunately, there happened to be a concrete pump truck in the port of Shanghai that matched the requirements. The machine was due to be shipped to a client in Germany. I was about to leave for Germany, but the German company readily agreed and decided to send it to the disaster-stricken areas of Japan through the Red Cross Society. The concrete pump vehicle was taken from the ship heading to Germany and immediately put on the Suzhou (a ship going from Shanghai to Osaka) and headed for Japan. After arriving in Japan, I spent two days learning how to operate it in Noda City, Chiba Prefecture, and then I left for Fukushima.”

In this interview, we were able to talk in detail with Tomohiro Kawazoe, then president of Sanichi Japan, a Japanese subsidiary of Sanichi Heavy Industries. “I made a trip by myself from Osaka to Chiba to Fukushima because I had to examine the route in detail to check road width, bridges, tunnels, etc. It is a vehicle with a total weight of 55 tons.”

The police in the prefectures along the route also cooperated fully, and traffic restrictions such as 100 blockades of roads were also carried out in some areas so that they could move safely to Fukushima. Police cars in each prefecture escorted the concrete pump vehicle.

Originally, there were various regulations and it would ordinarily take time to travel on public roads in Japan with such an unusual cargo, but this time the issuance of provisional permits was done smoothly. These were extrajudicial measures because the machine was donated with the Red Cross Society as an intermediary. The project was realized in an unusually short period of about two weeks.

https://news.yahoo.co.jp/articles/75482f8d957a3609194000b3cf87145debe1ecc4

March 13, 2021 Posted by | Fukushima 2021 | , | 2 Comments

I hate those Fukushima disaster anniversaries!

March 11, 2021

For the last ten years, every year, we have the same circus. For one or two weeks the mainstream media comes out with their anniversary articles, over and over repeating the same old songs, old facts, avoiding the really important issues. Along with this the antinuclear divas once a year prerorate their polished spiels basking in their little moment of glory, releasing their pieces on their dot.orgs. while asking for more donations.

In the meantime not much has changed. The ‘decommissioning’ work at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant is a neverending story despite all their nice PR technical blablabla, ignoring the fact that the technology necessary to complete the decommissioning has yet to be invented. At 30 Sieverts level of radiation anyone would get fried within 5 minutes, even their costly robots can’t hold their breath very long.

TEPCO is already gradually releasing partially filtered radioactive water, water still containing radioactive material, into our oceans, our environment. Further, it is their intention to dump all the partially contaminated, radioactive water currently stored in over 1,000 tanks into the sea. The only unknown is exactly when they’ll be able to push it thru.

Despite a few court victories, the victims still have not been properly, sufficiently compensated for all their losses and suffering. People on location are still stuck living in an environment with high levels of radiation, levels the government deems acceptable, thresholds higher than the international standards for nuclear plant workers!

The Japanese government and the nuclear lobby are still orchestrating the denial of threats, of facts, the denial of health risks for the population, campaigning for the evacuees to return.

The Fukushima disaster and its tragic consequences are still hurting the local population. Ten years is NOTHING in terms of radioactive contamination. Contamination that is there to stay. Ongoing… every day.

F these anniversaries!

March 11, 2021 Posted by | Fukushima 2021 | , | Leave a comment

Fukushima, a ‘coordinator’ for the nuclear-stricken area, takes a cue from the U.S. to break away from reconstruction dependent on the government

March 6, 2021, 18:07 (Kyodo News)
 On March 6, a private organization called Fukushima Hamadori Tridec was established to serve as a coordinator between industry, government and academia in the areas affected by the accident at Tokyo Electric Power Company’s Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant. In order to promote the reconstruction that the coastal residents of Fukushima Prefecture desire, the organization aims to unite the demands of the region and take the brunt of negotiations with the government and other parties.
 The 43 founding members include local business people, researchers, and politicians. The organization will be incorporated as a general incorporated association and will invite individual and corporate members. Takayuki Nakamura, vice president of East Japan International University (Iwaki City), who will serve as the secretariat, said, “We will break away from our traditional stance of depending on the government. We will decide our own fate,” he said of the founding principles.

https://www.tokyo-np.co.jp/article/89939?fbclid=IwAR0IVgauLUBacHECWFx2axSSV7o5CUqvtvxw6KcLJtZ6A1bqoHtwcQ-cEl8

March 6, 2021 Posted by | Fukushima 2021 | , | Leave a comment

Decade After Fukushima Disaster Survivor Looks Back

The Japanese town of Tomioka ravaged by the 2011 Fukushima nuclear disaster is a shell of its former self.

March 5, 2021

The Japanese town of Tomioka ravaged by the 2011 Fukushima nuclear disaster is a shell of its former self. In some parts, houses and shops lie abandoned, and bin bags filled with contaminated soil line the streets. For Yuta Hatakeyama, who was 14 when his family had to leave their home, the town evokes bittersweet memories. “I had no idea what was going on back then,” he said. “It has been 10 years since and I have been developing sad feelings.”

A decade after the quake and tsunami, Hatakeyama has returned to the town some 10 kilometers (6 miles) from the now shuttered Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant, and serves as a community spokesperson. The exclusion zone in the town was lifted in 2017 but around 12% of the town still remains a no-go zone where people can’t enter without an official permit.

Hatakeyama remembers a cherry blossom festival in the town, and a lane brimming with food stalls and people. Now it’s cordoned off and dotted with red safety cones. He said he and his family faced discrimination after leaving Tomioka after the disaster for Iwaki, some 50 km (30 miles) away. “When I moved to a new place and heard people there stigmatising us for being evacuated, my heart really ached.”

The 24-year-old now believes the town must get rid of the bags filled with radioactive waste and make the town more liveable. Tomioka, which used to have 16,000 residents before the disaster, is now home to 1,600 people. The town is planning to lift most of its no-go zones by March 2023. 

https://www.republicworld.com/world-news/rest-of-the-world-news/decade-after-fukushima-disaster-survivor-looks-back.html

March 6, 2021 Posted by | Fukushima 2021 | , | Leave a comment

Decade after Fukushima disaster, decontamination work remains incomplete in 85% of regions

Greenpeace says Japan should suspend returning residents to the afflicted region

Mar.5,2021

Decontamination work remains incomplete in 85% of regions where the Japanese government claims to have removed radioactive contaminants from the Fukushima Nuclear Power Plant disaster, an international environment group’s analysis shows.

In a report titled “Fukushima Daiichi 2011-2021,” published on Thursday ahead of the 10th anniversary of the disaster on March 11, Greenpeace urged the Japanese government to discontinue its policy of returning residents to the afflicted region without regard for science-based analysis.

Two weeks after the disaster struck in March 2011, the group sent a team of radioactivity exports to the scene in the first of 32 total visits through November 2020 to survey the radiation impacts in the Fukushima region. The recent report was based on its findings to date.

The Japanese government has announced the completion of most decontamination work for a Special Decontamination Area (SDA), which does not include a region close to the plant with particularly high levels of contamination that prevent residents from returning. Carried out through March 2019, the effort involved a commitment of 30 million person-hours and cost US$28 billion.

But an analysis of government data by Greenpeace showed that of the 840 square kilometers in the SDA, actual decontamination work had only been completed on 120 square kilometers, or 15 %.

In the case of Iitate — the largest of the seven administrative districts located entirely inside the SDA — decontamination had yet to be completed for 18,183 hectares, or 79% of its area. In the second-largest district of Namie, just 2,140 hectares, or 10%, had undergone even some decontamination.

Resident evacuation orders for the two regions were lifted in March 2017 — but according to Greenpeace, radiation levels make them still too dangerous for human habitation.

According to a Greenpeace study last November, the average amount of radiation in five out of 11 sites surrounding one home in Iitate was 0.5 microsieverts per hour (μSv/h), exceeding the government’s target of 0.23μSv/h.

The area immediately outside of one Namie school was found to be open to the general public despite 93% of measured sites showing radiation above the government’s targets.

“The fact that 85% of the contaminated surface area of the seven Fukushima districts inside the SDA has not been subject to decontamination is directly related to the radiological hazards posed by the mountainous forested areas,” the report explained.

“These remain a long-term source of contamination, including recontamination,” it warned.

Shaun Burnie, the Greenpeace senior nuclear specialist responsible for writing the report, urged the Japanese government to immediately suspend its return policy and decontamination program in order to protect residents of the Fukushima region, arguing that they ignore science-based analysis.

The same day, Greenpeace also published a technical report analyzing the decommissioning of the Fukushima Daiichi reactor. In it, Greenpeace proposed that the Japanese government adopt an alternative to its current decommissioning plan, which increases the amount of water contaminated with high-level radioactive material.

As an alternative approach, it suggested replacing water with air as a means of cooling reactor core fuel, while reducing the amount of contaminated water by installing moats to prevent seawater and underground water infiltration around the plant.

Chang Ma-ri, a climate energy campaigner for Greenpeace, said, “The ravages of radioactive contamination caused by the Fukushima disaster will pose a burden on humankind that will not be resolved for the next century or more.”

“The Japanese government needs to start by withdrawing its imminent plans for the release of contaminated water [into the ocean],” she urged.

By Kim Jeong-su, senior staff writer

http://english.hani.co.kr/arti/english_edition/e_international/985626.html

March 6, 2021 Posted by | Fukushima 2021 | , , | Leave a comment

Decade after Fukushima disaster, Greenpeace sees cleanup failure

Greenpeace has recommended that Japan suspend the current return policies, which it says “ignore science-based analysis, including potential lifetime exposure risks to the population” and abandon plans to lift evacuation orders in six municipalities

(FILES) This handout file picture taken and received by Tokyo Electric Power Co (TEPCO) on April 10, 2011 shows an aerial view of the first reactor building of TEPCO’s No.1 Fukushima nuclear power plant in the town of Okuma in Fukushima prefecture, two months after the earthquake and tsunami hit the region on March 11, 2011. – Ten years after the Fukushima disaster, Japan’s nuclear industry remains crippled, with the majority of the country’s reactors halted or on the path towards decommissioning.

Mar 4, 2021

Ten years after the worst nuclear accident since Chernobyl, land Japan identified for cleanup from the triple reactor meltdown of the Fukushima No. 1 power plant remains contaminated, according to a report from Greenpeace.

On average, just 15% of land in the “Special Decontamination Area,” which is home to several municipalities, has been cleaned up, according to the environmental advocacy group’s analysis of government data. That’s despite the government’s claims that the area has largely been decontaminated, the group said.

In addition, Greenpeace said its own radiation surveys conducted over the last decade have consistently found readings above government target levels, including in areas that have been reopened to the public. The lifting of evacuation orders in places where radiation remains above safe levels potentially exposes people to an increased risk of cancer, the report said.

“The contamination remains and is widespread, and is still a very real threat to long term human health and the environment,” the report said.

Japan’s Ministry of Environment wasn’t immediately available for comment. Decontamination efforts have reduced radiation levels in residential areas by an average of 76%, according to the ministry’s website, which has compiled monitoring data through 2018. Fukushima Prefecture wasn’t immediately available for comment.

More than 160,000 people were evacuated from the area surrounding the Fukushima nuclear plant after a magnitude 9 earthquake, the biggest ever recorded to hit Japan, caused a massive tsunami that overwhelmed the plant. While the government has been steadily lifting evacuation orders on towns since 2014, roughly 36,000 people are still displaced.

Greenpeace recommended that Japan suspend the current return policy, which “ignore science-based analysis, including potential lifetime exposure risks to the population” and abandon plans to lift evacuation orders in six municipalities.

https://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2021/03/04/national/fukushima-greenpeace-radiation-health-3-11/

March 6, 2021 Posted by | Fukushima 2021 | , , , | Leave a comment

85% of Special Decontamination Area remained contaminated Fukushima Daiichi decommissioning road map unachievable – a new plan is inevitable

2021-03-04

Mar 4, 2021 (Greenpeace Japan) – Nearly a decade after the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear accident, Greenpeace released two reports today that highlighted the complex legacy of the 11 March 2011 earthquake and tsunami. 

The first report Fukushima 2011-2020 detailed radiation levels in Iitate and Namie in Fukushima prefecture. Our original findings showed that decontamination efforts have been limited and that 85% of the Special Decontamination Area has undergone no decontamination. 

The second report Decommissioning of the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station From Plan-A to Plan-B Now, from Plan-B to Plan-C critiqued the current official decommission plan within 30-40 years of having no prospects of success and is delusional. 

“Successive governments during the last ten years, and largely under prime minister Shinzo Abe, have attempted to perpetrate a myth about the nuclear disaster. They have sought to deceive the Japanese people by misrepresenting the effectiveness of the decontamination program and ignoring radiological risks,” said Shaun Burnie, Senior Nuclear Specialist at Greenpeace East Asia. 

“At the same time, they continue to claim that the Fukushima Daiichi site can be returned to ‘greenfield’ status by mid-century. The decade of deception and delusion on the part of the government and TEPCO must end. A new decommissioning plan is inevitable so why waste any more time with the current fantasy?” Burnie added.

The first Greenpeace radiation expert team arrived in Fukushima prefecture on 26 March 2011, and have conducted 32 investigations into the radiological consequences of the disaster over the last decade, the most recent in November 2020. The key findings of the radiation report Fukushima 2011-2020 are:

  • Greenpeace has consistently found that most of the 840 square kilometers Special Decontamination Area(SDA), where the government is responsible for decontamination, remains contaminated with radioactive cesium. 
  • Analysis of the government’s own data shows that in the SDA an overall average of only 15% has been decontaminated.
  • No time frame for when the Japanese government’s long-term decontamination target level of 0.23 microsieverts per hour (μSv/h) will be achieved in many areas. Citizens will be subjected for decades of radiation exposure in excess of 1mSv/y recommended maximum.
  • In the areas where evacuation orders were lifted in 2017, specifically, Namie and Iitate, radiation levels remain above safe limits, potentially exposing the population to increased cancer risk. Plans to continue to lift evacuation orders are unacceptable from a public health perspective.
  • Up till 2018, tens of thousands of decontamination workers had been employed in decontamination in the SDA. As documented by Greenpeace[1], the workers, most of whom are poorly paid subcontractors, have been exposed to unjustified radiation risks for a limited and ineffective decontamination program. 

The key findings of The Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station decommissioning report[2] are:

  • There are no credible plans for retrieval of the hundreds of tons of nuclear fuel debris remaining inside and under the three Reactor Pressure vessels – it requires a fundamental review. 
  • Water used in reactor cooling and groundwater contamination, and therefore accumulating in tanks, will keep growing into the future unless a new approach is adopted.
  • All nuclear contaminated material should remain on the site indefinitely. If the nuclear fuel debris is ever retrieved, it also should remain on site. Fukushima Daiichi is already and should remain a nuclear waste storage site for the long term. 
  • The current plan is unachievable in the timeframe of 30-40 years in the current road map and impossible to achieve in terms of returning the site to greenfield.

It is recommended that a fundamental rethink in approach and a new plan for the decommissioning of Fukushima Daiichi, including a delay in molten fuel removal for 50-100 years or longer is needed with the construction of secure containment buildings for the long term. The Primary Containment vessel, with reinforcement, should be used as an incomplete primary boundary and the reactor building as the secondary boundary for the medium-to-long term, while developing robotic technology that can perform tasks without high radiation risks to human workers. 

Finally, to prevent the further increase of radioactive contaminated water, cooling of nuclear fuel debris should be switched from water to air cooling, and the Fukushima Daiichi site should be made into a ‘dry island’ isolated from groundwater with the construction of a deep moat. 

ENDS

Links to full reports: 

Notes:

[1] Greenpeace Japan, “On the Frontline of the Fukushima Nuclear Accident: Workers and Children Radiation risks and human rights violations”, March 2019

[2] Report commissioned by Greenpeace from a consulting nuclear engineer, formerly with General Electric including at the Fukushima Daiichi reactors, Mr. Satoshi Sato.

March 6, 2021 Posted by | Fukushima 2021 | , , , , | Leave a comment

Fukushima chief: No need to extend decommissioning target

This Sept. 4, 2017, aerial file photo shows Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant reactors, from bottom at right, Unit 1, Unit 2 and Unit 3, in Okuma town, Fukushima prefecture, northeastern Japan. The head of the wrecked Fukushima nuclear plant said Tuesday, March 2, 2021 there’s no need to extend the current target to finish its decommissioning in 30-40 years despite uncertainties about melted fuel inside the plant’s three reactors.

March 3, 2021

TOKYO (AP) — The head of the wrecked Fukushima nuclear plant says there’s no need to extend the current target to finish its decommissioning in 30-40 years despite uncertainties about melted fuel inside the plant’s three reactors.

Ten years after meltdowns of three of its reactors following a massive March 2011 earthquake and tsunami that devastated northeastern Japan, the Fukushima Daiichi plant has stabilized but faces new challenges.

Nuclear regulators recently found fatal levels of contamination under the lids of two reactors, a test removal of melted fuel debris from one reactor has been delayed for a year, and a recent earthquake may have caused new damage to the reactors.

About 900 tons of melted fuel debris remain inside the plant’s three damaged reactors, and its safe removal is a daunting task that its operator, Tokyo Electric Power Co., or TEPCO, and the government say will take 30-40 years to finish. The removal of spent fuel units from cooling pools is already being delayed for up to five years.

But Akira Ono, who as head of the plant is also its chief decommissioning officer, said he doesn’t plan to change the current goal to finish decommissioning between 2041 and 2051.

“I don’t think we need to revise the target right now,” Ono said Tuesday in an online interview with The Associated Press. “We will stick to the 30-to-40-year finishing target, and will compile a timeline and technology and development plans accordingly.”

He said TEPCO plans to focus primarily on the coming decade and hopefully will release a new 10-year road map by the end of March.

The recently discovered fatal levels of cesium on the bottom of shield plugs atop the primary containment chamber at the No. 2 and 3 reactors will not affect near-term decommissioning work, but could complicate future plans, Ono said.

A lot about the melted fuel, which fell from the core to the bottom of the primary containment chambers in Units 1, 2 and 3, remains unknown, Ono said, adding that it’s too early to decide how the plant should look at the end of the cleanup.

“It is a difficult question,” he said. “If you ask 10 people, everyone has a different answer.” Local officials in Fukushima have said they expect the plant complex to be a flatland where people can walk freely.

Ono said the plant’s end state should be discussed by the government, local residents, experts and other concerned parties, and should be decided by a consensus.

Some experts are still skeptical that the removal of all of the melted fuel debris is possible and suggest a Chernobyl-style entombment of the plant. Ono, however, denied that option, saying a long-term abandonment could pose a bigger risk than a controlled cleanup and hinder the region’s recovery.

Ono said the removal of the melted fuel debris will hopefully progress on track during the 2030s. “The next 10 years for us is to prepare for that goal,” he said.

Massive radiation from the reactors caused about 160,000 people to evacuate from around the plant. Tens of thousands are still unable to return home.

https://www.seattletimes.com/business/fukushima-chief-no-need-to-extend-decommissioning-target/

March 6, 2021 Posted by | Fukushima 2021 | , | Leave a comment

Fukushima resident still can’t return home 10 years after nuclear disaster

Yasuko Sasaki is seen at her house in the town of Namie, Fukushima Prefecture, on Feb. 1, 2021.

March 3, 2021

FUKUSHIMA — Yasuko Sasaki’s house lies just 30 kilometers away from the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station, where a meltdown took place following the 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake and tsunami. On Feb. 1, Sasaki temporarily returned to clean up leaves that had fallen on the grave at the back of the property.

Once a month, the 66-year-old visits her house in the Tsushima district in the Fukushima Prefecture town of Namie from the prefectural village of Otama — 50 kilometers away — where she is currently evacuated to. It has been almost 10 years since she became unable to live at her own residence.

Due to high radiation levels, Tsushima was designated a “difficult to return” zone, where restrictions for entering are in place, and people are barred from living there. Homes without their owners living in them have been ransacked by wild animals. While Sasaki has been away, wild animals chewed up stuffed turtle and bird specimens kept at her house. She continues to clean her house so that she “can return at any time.”

In the grave are the bones of her husband Kenji, who died of illness at age 57 in February 2011, just before the disaster struck the area, her youngest son Shinji, who passed away at 21 due to cancer in August the same year, and her parents-in-law. Sasaki was born in Yokohama, south of Tokyo, and married her husband and moved to the Tsushima district when she was 33. The couple raised their two children in the house, using mountain stream water in everyday life and boiling the bath with firewood.

“The memories that I have of spending time together with my family are here and only here. I want to come home while I can move my body,” Sasaki explained. A calendar at her house still shows March 2011, when the earthquake and tsunami hit.

The Reconstruction Design Council in response to the Great East Japan Earthquake, an advisory panel to the prime minister, deemed that “recovery from the devastating disaster will not be completed until Fukushima soil recovers.” The government has set up Specified Reconstruction and Revitalization Bases within difficult-to-return zones and is carrying out decontamination work and developing infrastructure so that people can reside in the area once again. It aims to lift evacuation orders for the bases in between 2022 and 2023.

However, the areas designated as reconstruction bases are limited. In the Tsushima district, a 153-hectare space surrounding the town hall’s Tsushima branch is designated — just 1.6% of the whole district. Of the 532 households in the district at the time of the disaster, 80% including Sasaki’s house are not included in the reconstruction base area, and there are no prospects for these people to be able to return to their homes.

Sasaki said, “Everything’s still the same, even 10 years after the (nuclear) disaster. I wonder for how many more years I’ll have to continue cleaning (my house).”

https://mainichi.jp/english/articles/20210302/p2a/00m/0na/012000c

March 6, 2021 Posted by | Fukushima 2021 | , , | Leave a comment

Japan undecided on timing, method of Fukushima water release

Storage tanks for treated contaminated water are seen at Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant in Okuma town, Fukushima prefecture.

March 3, 2021

Japanese authorities are undecided on how and when to discharge radioactive water from the devastated Fukushima nuclear plant into the sea or air, amid heightened environmental and public safety concerns from its neighboring countries, including South Korea. 

“The exact timing on when the government will decide on the method and the period is yet to be decided,” said a Japanese government official Wednesday. 

“We are still evaluating the situation. But it’s true that there are limits to the storage space of the tanks, and the government consider it as a task that cannot be delayed,” the official said, reiterating Tokyo’s stance to release the contaminated water, which has been filtered to reduce radioactivity. 

The remarks came during a press briefing organized by the Japanese Embassy in South Korea, as next week marks the 10-year anniversary of the devastating earthquake and tsunami on March 11, 2011, that hit the Fukushima area and caused a meltdown of the three nuclear reactors. Attending the event was officials from the Agency for Natural Resources and Energy, Tokyo Electric Power, the state-run operator of the plant, and Japan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

The liquid, which includes water used cool the power station, was contaminated after the nuclear disaster, and Tokyo has been pushing to release more than 1 million metric tons of treated water it has collected at the thousands of tanks at the site since 2011, as the storage capacity is set to run out by summer of 2022. But such a plan has sparked strong opposition and environmental worries among the public in both South Korea and Japan.

The water is being processed through the Advanced Liquid Processing System, or ALPS, to remove most of the dangerous radioactive materials, except for the traces of tritium, a radioactive substance which is still in the water — albeit at low level, according to Tokyo.

Last November, Japan was set to make a final decision on the water — either between disposing in the sea or vaporizing and releasing it into the air — as both were considered the most “realistic options,” but it has been delayed amid fierce backlash from local residents, the local fishery and agriculture industry and neighboring countries.

The authorities said that relevant decision will be made in consultation with local residents, industry personnel and neighboring countries through diplomatic channels. It also stressed it would carry out safety inspections of the release with the International Atomic Energy Agency, and provide transparent, scientific information to its neighbors as well. 

If Japan decides to discharge the water, it will likely be dumped as early as summer of 2022 when the storage reaches full capacity. 

But the official raised a possibility on the delay of the discharge, considering the filling up of the tank — which includes groundwater and rain that seeps into the plant — inside the storage has slowed down, due to relatively low precipitation in 2020. 

“The period as to when the water will be completely filled will depend on the level of rain and typhoons this year,” the official said. “We will review the plan considering such situation.”

http://www.koreaherald.com/view.php?ud=20210303000971

March 6, 2021 Posted by | Fukushima 2021 | , | Leave a comment

Farmers in Fukushima plant indigo to rebuild devastated town

March 2, 2021

MINAMISOMA, Japan — Because of radiation released by the Fukushima nuclear plant disaster a decade ago, farmers in nearby Minamisoma weren’t allowed to grow crops for two years.

After the restriction was lifted, two farmers, Kiyoko Mori and Yoshiko Ogura, found an unusual way to rebuild their lives and help their destroyed community. They planted indigo and soon began dying fabric with dye produced from the plants.

“Dyeing lets us forget the bad things” for a while, Mori said. “It’s a process of healing for us.”

The massive earthquake and tsunami on March 11, 2011, caused three of the reactors at the nuclear plant to melt and wrecked more than just the farmers’ livelihoods. The homes of many people in Minamisoma, about 20 kilometers (12 miles) from the plant, were destroyed by the tsunami. The disaster killed 636 town residents, and tens of thousands of others left to start new lives.

Mori and Ogura believed that indigo dyeing could help people in the area recover.

Mori said they were concerned at first about consuming locally grown food, but felt safe raising indigo because it wouldn’t be eaten. They checked the radiation level of the indigo leaves and found no dangerous amount.

Ten years after the disaster, Mori and Ogura are still engaged in indigo dyeing but have different missions.

To Mori, it has become a tool for building a strong community in a devastated town and for fighting unfounded rumors that products from Fukushima are still contaminated. She favors the typical indigo dyeing process that requires some chemical additives.

But Ogura has chosen to follow a traditional technique that uses fermentation instead as a way to send a message against dangers of modern technology highlighted by nuclear power.

Mori formed a group called Japan Blue which holds workshops that have taught indigo dyeing to more than 100 people each year. She hopes the project will help rebuild the dwindling town’s sense of community.

Despite a new magnitude 7.3 earthquake that recently hit the area, the group did not cancel its annual exhibition at a community center that served as an evacuation center 10 years ago.

“Every member came to the exhibition, saying they can clean up the debris in their houses later,” Mori said.

Ogura, who is not a member of the group, feels that a natural process is important because the nuclear accident showed that relying on advanced technology for efficiency while ignoring its negative aspects can lead to bad consequences.

“I really suffered during the nuclear accident,” Ogura said. “We escaped frantically in the confusion. I felt I was doing something similar again” by using chemicals.

“We seek too much in the way of many varieties of beautiful colors created with the use of chemicals. We once thought our lives were enriched by it, but I started feeling that wasn’t the case,” she said. “I want people to know what the real natural color looks like.”

Organic indigo dyes take more time and closer attention. Ogura first ferments chopped indigo leaves with water for a month and then mixes the result with lye which is formed on the surface of a mixture of hot water and ashes. It has to be kept at about 20 degrees C (68 degrees F) and stirred three times a day.

Part of the beauty of the process, Ogura says, is that it’s hard to predict what color will be produced.

With the support of city officials, Ogura started making silk face masks dyed with organic indigo.

She used to run an organic restaurant where she served her own vegetables before the disaster, but now runs a guesthouse with her husband in which visitors can try organic indigo dyeing.

Just 700 meters (2,300 feet) from Ogura’s house, countless black bags filled with weakly contaminated debris and soil are piled along the roadside. They have been there since after the disaster, according to Ogura’s husband, Ryuichi. Other piles are scattered around the town.

“The government says it’s not harmful to leave them there. But if they really think it’s not harmful, they should take them to Tokyo and keep them near them,” he said.

The radiation waste stored in the town is scheduled to be moved to a medium-term storage facility by March next year, a town official said.

https://www.startribune.com/farmers-in-fukushima-plant-indigo-to-rebuild-devastated-town/600029579/

March 6, 2021 Posted by | Fukushima 2021 | , , , | Leave a comment