nuclear-news

The News That Matters about the Nuclear Industry Fukushima Chernobyl Mayak Three Mile Island Atomic Testing Radiation Isotope

Japan faces decision over contaminated Fukushima water

hglmThe dismantling of Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant continues in Okuma, Fukushima Prefecture, on Dec. 5, 2019.

 

January 21, 2020

OKUMA, Fukushima Prefecture—At the wrecked Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant north of Tokyo, workers in protective suits are still removing radioactive material from reactors that melted down after an earthquake and tsunami knocked out its power and cooling nearly nine years ago.

On an exclusive tour of the plant, spread over 3.5 million square meters, Reuters witnessed giant remote-controlled cranes dismantling an exhaust tower and other structures in a highly radioactive zone while spent fuel was removed from a reactor.

Officials from Tokyo Electric, which owns the plant, also showed new tanks to hold increasing amounts of contaminated water.

About 4,000 workers are tackling the cleanup, many wearing protective gear, although more than 90 percent of the plant is deemed to have so little radioactivity that no extra precautions are needed. Photography was highly restricted and no conversations were allowed with the workers.

Work to dismantle the plant has taken nearly a decade so far, but with Tokyo due to host the Olympics this summer–including some events less than 60 kilometers from the power station–there has been renewed focus on safeguarding the venues.

TEPCO tries to disclose all information to the public as soon as possible. If something happens at the site, we let people know by email, for example,” said Kan Nihonyanagi, risk communicator at Fukushima, said in an interview at the site.

The buildup of contaminated water has been a sticking point in the cleanup, which is likely to last decades, and has alarmed neighboring countries. In 2018, TEPCO said it had not been able to remove all dangerous material from the water – and the site is running out of room for storage tanks.

Officials overseeing a panel of experts looking into the contaminated water issue said in December choices on disposal should be narrowed to two: either dilute the water and dump it in the Pacific Ocean, or allow it to evaporate.

The Japanese government may decide within months, and either process would take years to complete, experts say.

The Olympics are coming, so we have to prepare for that, and TEPCO has to disclose all the information not only to local communities but also to foreign countries and especially to those people coming from abroad,” said Joji Hara, a Tokyo-based spokesman for the power company who accompanied Reuters during the visit.

TEPCO has opened English-language Twitter and Facebook accounts, he said. It is also preparing to put out basic emergency information in Korean and Chinese, he added.

Athletes from at least one country, South Korea, are planning to bring their own radiation detectors and food this summer.

Baseball and softball will be played in Fukushima city, about 60 km from the destroyed nuclear plant. The torch relay will begin at a sports facility called J-Village, an operations base for Fukushima No. 1 in the first few years of the disaster, then pass through areas near the damaged station on its way to Tokyo.

In December, Greenpeace said it found radiation “hotspots” at J-Village, about 18 km south of the plant.

When Tokyo won the bid to host the 2020 Summer Olympics, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe declared that Fukushima was “under control” in his final pitch to the International Olympic Committee.

In 2016, the Japanese government estimated that the total cost of plant dismantlement, decontamination of affected areas, and compensation would be 21.5 trillion yen ($195 billion)–roughly a fifth of the country’s annual budget at the time.

http://www.asahi.com/ajw/articles/AJ202001210037.html

 

January 21, 2020 Posted by | Fukushima 2020 | , , , | Leave a comment

Japan’s Aeon aims to serve ‘eco-certified’ sushi in time for Olympics

‘Eco-certified’  my @ss, radiation contaminated sushi much more likely…. Lying lunatics!

0050b5d88f7306a71e63d89c1337ab5cA meat sushi plate is seen at Nikuzushi restaurant in Tokyo, Japan

January 21, 2020

TOKYO (Reuters) – Japanese supermarket chain Aeon Co Ltd, Asia’s biggest retailer by sales, said it aims to start selling eco-certified sushi this year amid growing demand for sustainable seafood and in time for an expected surge in tourists during the Tokyo Olympics.

Japan is one of the world’s biggest consumers of seafood. While its consumers are known for paying a premium for high-quality food products, and for setting global food trends, Japan has lagged behind Europe and the United States in adopting policies on traceability and sustainable fisheries.

“I would say awareness has really improved in recent years,” Kinzou Matsumoto, general manager in charge of Aeon’s seafood merchandising planning, said on Tuesday as the company unveiled an expansion of its eco-certified lineup of seafood to include oysters approved by the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC).

“Right now, certified items make up around 15% of our entire seafood products. Ideally we want to bring it to around 20%,” he said, adding that it would soon have enough types of certified fish to assemble assorted sushi packs.

“We want to sell certified sushi to visitors coming to the Olympics, too… and that would have to be by June.”

The MSC said Aeon’s scale would help expand recognition for sustainable seafood among Japanese consumers, and encourage fisheries.

“A commitment from Aeon is critical in driving change,” said MSC’s Asia-Pacific regional director Patrick Caleo.

Japanese businesses including beer makers and hotels are making preparations to cater for record numbers of foreign visitors to Japan this summer as Tokyo hosts the Olympic Summer Games beginning in late July.

Kura Sushi, among Japan’s largest conveyer belt sushi chains, is opening its biggest branch this week – a store with 272 seats expected to draw 2,000 customers a day.

It forecasts that the number of foreigners visiting its restaurants in Tokyo to rise by about a third compared to a usual year.

Kura Sushi President Kunihiko Tanaka also defended the safety of seafood in Japan, including those from Fukushima, the site of the 2011 nuclear disaster.

Government data shows Fukushima seafood is “absolutely” safe, Tanaka said, adding that Kura Sushi planned to open a restaurant in Fukushima.

South Korea’s Olympic committee said in December that it plans to buy radiation detectors and ship homegrown ingredients to Japan for its athletes because of its concerns over food.

https://finance.yahoo.com/news/japans-aeon-aims-serve-eco-085713242.html

January 21, 2020 Posted by | Fukushima 2020 | , , | Leave a comment

Forgetting Fukushima

japan-fuku-iitate-cleanup-2015-greenpeace-lr

21st January 2020

By Jim Green – Nuclear Monitor

Irresponsible tactics are being used to bury social and environmental problems associated with the Fukushima nuclear disaster as Olympics approach in Japan.

Japanese prime minister Shinzō Abe assured the International Olympic Committee in 2013 that “the situation is under control” in and around the stricken Fukushima nuclear plant.

Now, with the 2020 Summer Olympics approaching, and some events scheduled to be held in Fukushima prefecture, all sorts of irresponsible and cruel tactics are being used to bury a myriad of social and environmental problems associated with the nuclear disaster.

Most evacuation orders have been lifted around the Fukushima plant, but 337‒371 sq kms remain classified as restricted entry zones or ‘difficult to return’ zones. There are hopes that all remaining evacuation orders could be lifted within a few years.

Return

Lifting an evacuation order is one thing, returning the area to something resembling normality is quite another. Only 23 percent of those living in nine areas that were declared off-limits after the Fukushima disaster had returned as of March 2019, according to government figures.

Most people aged under 50 who used to live in the towns of Futaba, Namie and Tomioka have no plans to return, an official survey found in early 2019.

The partial lifting of evacuation orders in the town of Okuma in April 2019 illustrates how the rhetoric of progress masks inconvenient truths. Even after the lifting of the order, about 60 percent of the town’s land area ‒ covering 96.5 percent of the pre-Fukushima population ‒ remains off-limits.

A 2018 survey found that only 10 percent of respondents expressed a desire to return to Okuma, while 60 percent had no plans to return. Few people have returned since the evacuation order was lifted.

About 17 million cubic metres of contaminated waste material has accumulated during decontamination work according to the Japanese ministry of the environment. A new occupant in Okuma is a ‘temporary storage facility‘ for some of the contaminated waste.

Contamination

Decontamination work (outside of the Fukushima nuclear plant) has cost an estimated ¥2.9 trillion (US $26.5 billion). A report by the European Geosciences Union, based on approximately 60 scientific publications, gives this assessment of decontamination efforts.

“This synthesis indicates that removing the surface layer of the soil to a thickness of 5 cm, the main method used by the Japanese authorities to clean up cultivated land, has reduced cesium concentrations by about 80 percent in treated areas. Nevertheless, the removal of the uppermost part of the topsoil, which has proved effective in treating cultivated land, has cost the Japanese state about €24 billion.

“This technique generates a significant amount of waste, which is difficult to treat, to transport and to store for several decades in the vicinity of the power plant, a step that is necessary before it is shipped to final disposal sites located outside Fukushima prefecture by 2050. By early 2019, Fukushima’s decontamination efforts had generated about 20 million cubic metres of waste.

“Decontamination activities have mainly targeted agricultural landscapes and residential areas. The review points out that the forests have not been cleaned up ‒ because of the difficulty and very high costs that these operations would represent ‒ as they cover 75 percent of the surface area located within the radioactive fallout zone.

“These forests constitute a potential long-term reservoir of radiocesium, which can be redistributed across landscapes as a result of soil erosion, landslides and floods, particularly during typhoons that can affect the region between July and October.”

Health risks

Greenpeace coordinated a study in the exclusion zone and lifted evacuation areas of Namie and Iitate and published the results in March 2019. The study found high levels of radiation ‒ ranging from five to over 100 times higher than the internationally recommended maximum of 1 mSv/yr ‒ in both exclusion zones and in areas where evacuation orders have been lifted.

The Greenpeace report documents the extent of the government’s violation of international human rights conventions and guidelines, in particular for decontamination of workers and children (who are more vulnerable to radiation-related diseases than adults).

Associate Professor Tilman Ruff, an Australian public health expert and co-founder of the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons gives a sense of the scale of the risk.

He states: “To provide a perspective on these risks, for a child born in Fukushima in 2011 who was exposed to a total of 100 mSv of additional radiation in its first five years of life, a level tolerated by current Japanese policy, the additional lifetime risk of cancer would be on the order of one in thirty, probably with a similar additional risk of premature cardiovascular death.”

Moreover, there is evidence of sinister behaviour to give artificially low indications of radiation levels, for example by placing monitoring posts in areas of low radiation and cleaning their surrounds to further lower the readings.

Risks

Maxime Polleri, a PhD candidate in the Department of Anthropology at York University, wrote in The Diplomat: “In the end, state-sponsored monitoring and decontamination are remedial measures that manage the perception of radiation in the environment.

“However, this does not imply that radioactive contamination is gone – not at all. When we look at the official maps of radiation of northeastern Japan, levels are low, but there are many ways to make them appear low.”

Ryohei Kataoka from the Tokyo-based Citizens Nuclear Information Centre said: “The government’s insistence in lifting evacuation orders where heightened radiation-related health risks undeniably exist, is a campaign to show that Fukushima is ‘back to normal’ and to try to make Japan and the world forget the accident ever happened.”

The Japanese government is promoting next years’ Olympic Games as the “Reconstruction Olympics”. Hence the haste to lift evacuation orders and to skirt around the truth of residual contamination from radioactive Fukushima fallout and the health risks associated with that fallout.

And yet, despite the spin, a poll conducted in February 2019 found that 60 pecent of Fukushima region residents still felt anxious about radiation exposure.

Deflation

Approximately 165,000 people were forced to evacuate because of the Fukushima nuclear disaster in 2011, in addition to an estimated 26,600 ‘voluntary evacuees’.

More than 30,000 of the involuntary evacuees are still unable to return. Those now in permanent accommodation have returned to their former homes (either willingly or because they had no choice), or resettled elsewhere, and some have purchased their previously temporary accommodation.

The number of evacuees has been artificially deflated. For example, the Japanese government’s Reconstruction Agency sent a notice to prefectures in August 2014 stating that only those people who moved to different places because of the nuclear disaster and have the “will” to return to their original homes will be counted as evacuees.

The notice said that if it is difficult to determine people’s will to return, they should not be counted as evacuees. Those who have purchased a home outside their pre-disaster locale, and those in public restoration housing or disaster public housing, are no longer counted as evacuees even if they want to return to their previous homes but can’t for various reasons.

An April 2019 Asahi Shimbun editorial said that the number of people who regard themselves as evacuees is believed to be far higher than the official figure of 40,000 ‒ but nobody knows the true figure.

Akira Imai, chief researcher of the Japan Research Institute for Local Government, told Asahi Shimbun: “This is an act to socially hide the real number of evacuees, which could lead to a cover-up of the seriousness of the incident. The evacuee number is an index that is used to consider measures to support evacuees. The current situation should be reflected properly in the numbers.”

Trauma

The typical experience of Fukushima evacuees has been a collapse of social networks, reduced income and reduced employment opportunities, endless uncertainty, and physical and mental ill-health.

A growing number of evacuees face further trauma arising from the end of housing subsidies, forcing them out of temporary accommodation and in some cases forcing them back to their original homes against their will.

Around 16,000 people who refuse to return to their original homes had been financially abandoned as of January 2019, according to the Citizens’ Nuclear Information Center.

In addition to fiddling with the numbers to artificially deflate the number of evacuees, an increasingly hostile attitude is being adopted towards evacuees to pressure them to leave temporary accommodation and thereby to reduce the evacuee count. The reduction and cessation of housing subsidies is the main component of this problem.

Some years ago, the support structure was modest at best, and many evacuees fell through the cracks. Now, evacuees are being forced through the cracks to reduce expenditure and to create a sense of normality ahead of the ‘Reconstruction Olympics’.

Poverty

The human impact of government policies ‒ national and prefectural governments ‒ are detailed by Seto Daisaku from the Evacuation Cooperation Center. Some evacuees face a doubling of rental payments, some have been deemed “illegal occupants“, some face legal action to have them evicted.

National and local governments promote these policies as necessary to foster independence among evacuees, but as Seto Daisaku notes, “since their income in the places they have evacuated to has dropped precipitously, far from becoming independent they will fall deeper into poverty.”

The April 2019 Asahi Shimbun editorial noted: “After years of living away from home, many evacuees are also struggling with problems such as reduced incomes, the difficulties of finding jobs, deteriorating health and isolation.

“Some are suffering from poverty, anxiety about losing their housing due to the termination of public financial support and physical and mental illness. … The government’s response to the problem has been grossly insufficient.”

Rights

In an October 2018 report, United Nations Special Rapporteur Baskut Tuncak urged the Japanese government to halt the ongoing relocation of evacuees who are children and women of reproductive age to areas of Fukushima where radiation levels remain higher than what was considered safe or healthy before the nuclear disaster in 2011.

Tuncak said the Japanese government’s decision to raise by 20 times what it considered to be an acceptable level of radiation exposure was deeply troubling, highlighting in particular the potential impact on the health and wellbeing of children.

Tuncak said: “It is disappointing to see Japan appear to all but ignore the 2017 recommendation of the UN human rights monitoring mechanism (UPR) to return back to what it considered an acceptable dose of radiation before the nuclear disaster.”

TEPCO is also worsening the evacuees’ plight. Yamaguchi Yukio, co-director of the Citizens’ Nuclear Information Center, wrote in March 2019: “Although the fathomless suffering of the people affected by the accident cannot be atoned for by money, TEPCO has shown no intention of taking any responsibility for the consequences of the accident.

“In the incidents surrounding the petitions by Namie Town, Iitate Village and others to alternative dispute resolution (ADR), TEPCO has refused to agree to the compensation amounts, and rejected the mediated settlement proposal.

“The outlook for resolution of the compensation problem is bleak. This is in complete violation of the three pledges proclaimed by TEPCO: 1) Carry through compensation to the very last person, 2) Carry through rapid and detailed compensation, and 3) Respect mediated settlement proposals.”

This Author

Dr Jim Green is the national nuclear campaigner with Friends of the Earth Australia and editor of the Nuclear Monitor newsletter.

https://theecologist.org/2020/jan/21/forgetting-fukushima?fbclid=IwAR2_aBc0KTBXO6O7qWGkTx0Y224A_9Yf8E996eDW8Y19jItelPshSJOcJ0s

January 21, 2020 Posted by | Fukushima 2020 | , , | Leave a comment

Olympics: Tokyo torch relay to add another Fukushima reactor town

Dentsu Corporation, the hired PR company to calm the fears of the Japanese public, is using every gimmick in the book to deny the existing radiation risks to promote the 2020 Tokyo Olympics

ggjkllJapanese actress Satomi Ishihara, center, attends a promotional event for the 2020 Tokyo Olympic and Paralympic torch relays at an elementary school in Tokyo, on Jan. 16, 2020.

January 18, 2020

TOKYO (Kyodo) — The 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games torch relay is likely to pass through the town of Futaba, which hosts the disabled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant in northeastern Japan, as the government plans to lift the mandatory evacuation order for the town on March 4, sources familiar with the matter said Friday.

The town of Okuma, a co-host of the nuclear plant, was already included in the first day of the torch relay. Fukushima Prefecture aims to highlight on the global stage its reconstruction from the world’s worst nuclear accident since Chernobyl in 1986.

Organizers announced in July 2018 that Fukushima would be the starting point for the torch relay in the country. Last March, Yoshiro Mori, the organizing committee’s president, revealed that the relay would begin some 20 kilometers from the Fukushima plant at the J-Village national soccer training center, which was used as an operational base for handling the nuclear crisis.

The Olympic torch will arrive in Japan on March 20 and the flame will be taken to Ishinomaki Minamihama Tsunami Recovery Memorial Park in Ishinomaki, Miyagi Prefecture.

It will then travel by train through Miyagi and Iwate prefectures before making its way to Fukushima. The three prefectures were hit hardest by the powerful earthquake and tsunami on March 11, 2011.

The Japan leg of the relay will begin on March 26, 2020, two weeks after the flame lighting ceremony in Greece, and will carry the torch across all 47 prefectures in the country over a period of 121 days.

The Tokyo Olympics are scheduled to be held between July 24 and Aug. 9, followed by the Paralympics from Aug. 25 to Sept. 6.

https://mainichi.jp/english/articles/20200118/p2g/00m/0sp/034000c

January 21, 2020 Posted by | Fukushima 2020 | , , , , | Leave a comment

Radiation concerns overshadow Tokyo

Ahead of the Summer Games, independent readings remain high

 

12202029While many are concerned about radiation at venues located north of Tokyo, some readings have shown high levels a few miles from the Olympic Stadium, above.

Jan 13,2020

The 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo is now just over six months away, but rather than excitement, there is growing apprehension regarding the radiation levels in Japan.

In the aftermath of the 2011 Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster, the Japanese Ministry of Environment has downplayed concerns regarding radiation in the country, but local civic groups and environmental organizations around the world still have their suspicions. Looking at the radiation levels of the sites where each sporting event will be held, it is understandable why so many are concerned.

The J-Village, which is the official training site of the Japanese women’s football team and where the torch relay will start on March 26, is located about 10 kilometers (6 miles) south of the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant. The Japanese women’s football team is scheduled to kick off the torch relay across the country.

Operated by Tokyo Electric Power Company (Tepco), the power plant suffered severe damage from the magnitude 9.0 earthquake and tsunami that struck in 2011. The damage to several reactors led to leaks of radiation, which is considered the biggest problem ahead of the Games.

When the environmental organization Greenpeace measured the radiation levels of a grassy area near the parking lot of the J-Village in October 2019, the measurement came out to be 71 microsieverts per hour (μSv/h) close the surface and 32 μSv/h at 10 centimeters (4 inches) above the surface, even though the Japanese Ministry of Environment has pledged to keep the reading to below 0.23 microsieverts per hour, according to a report released by the organization.

In the response to the report, the Japanese Ministry of Environment and Tepco moved fast to remove the soil around the hotspot uncovered by Greenpeace Japan.

Based on a Greenpeace report released in December, the organization returned to the J-Village to conduct tests once again and found that the levels at the specific location had dropped to lower than 1 μSv/h at 10 centimeters. However, on the same day just to the north of that hotspot, Greenpeace tested an area adjacent to the parking lot, where levels were up to 2.2 μSv/h at 10 centimeters. Near the entrance of this same parking lot, Greenpeace measured 2.6 μSv/h at 10 centimeters.

“Many questions and uncertainties remain: how were such high levels of radiation (71 μSv/h at close to surface) not detected during the earlier decontamination by Tepco? Why were only the most alarming hotspots removed and not the wider areas following the standard decontamination procedures?” asked Heinz Smital, nuclear physicist and radiation specialist at Greenpeace Germany.

After a request of the Japanese government, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) agreed to host some of the Olympic baseball and softball games at Fukushima Azuma Baseball Stadium, which is only 97 kilometers away from the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant.

The Miyagi Stadium, located in Miyazaki, is a football venue for the Games and is about 118 kilometers away from the power plant.

Since both sites are located relatively close to the site of the accident, many have expressed concerns, as football and baseball are expected to be some of the most popular events at the Olympics this summer.

Interestingly, there hasn’t been much data published regarding those two sites. But when the radiation levels are measured by the organization that takes care of Azuma Stadium every month, the number doesn’t go any higher than 0.2 μSv/h.

Once again, environmental organizations are suspicious. When Greenpeace measured the radiation levels at Namie, located 10 kilometers north of the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant, the radiation levels were as high as 100 times more than the international limit for public exposure. Although the contaminated soil has been removed, the levels still go up when it rains because the soil from the top of the forest runs down to the decontaminated area.

According to Greenpeace, since the Olympics will be held during the summer, typically a rainy and typhoon-prone season in Japan, the soil from the mountains around the Azuma Baseball Stadium may re-contaminate the decontaminated areas.

Although Japan completed the decontamination process around the stadium, right after Typhoon Hagibis last year, the radiation increased about 2000 times.

Aside from baseball, softball and football, the other 39 stadiums at which events will be held are located within a two-hour radius of the Olympic Stadium in Shinjuku, Tokyo.

The Olympic Stadium is about 244 kilometers from the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant, so the site is not as affected by radiation as the more contaminated regions to the north.

But members of the anti-nuclear movement in Japan have stated that Tokyo also may not be safe. The 2017 Nobel Peace Laureate Tilman Ruff, who is on the Australian Board of the International Campaign of Abolish Nuclear Weapons (iCAN), said in November that radiation has not only reached areas south and west of the power plant like Chiba, Saitama and Fukushima, but contamination levels are also pretty high in the northern part of Tokyo as well.

The radiation level of soil that Tokyo residents have measured themselves has turned out to be as high as 0.443 μSv/h.

One of the biggest reasons behind the controversies regarding the high radiation levels and hosting the Tokyo Olympics has been the limited data provided by the Japanese Ministry of Environment. Officials have repeatedly said that Fukushima is safe, but they haven’t announced detailed data regarding the contamination or decontamination of the area around Fukushima.

Due to distrust in the government, some Japanese citizens have stepped up to carry out their own measurements of the radiation levels in the areas. Since the disaster, Minna-no Data Site, a collective database of citizen’s radioactivity measurements, has collected readings on food, soil and other things.

International environmental organizations are asking the Japanese government to release more measurements and to reveal the current level of radiation.

Despite the concerns, for professional athletes, the Olympics represent a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity that, for many, is the culmination of their entire career. While they might be concerned about the current political situation or safety issues, very few of Korea’s potential Olympians are willing to give up an opportunity that they’ve trained most of their lives for.

Due to this, the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism and the Korean Olympic Committee (KOC) are considering running their own cafeteria to provide food for the athletes using ingredients from Korea.

BY KIM JEONG-YEON [kang.yoorim@joongang.co.kr]

http://koreajoongangdaily.joins.com/news/article/article.aspx?aid=3072530

January 21, 2020 Posted by | Fukushima 2020 | , , | Leave a comment

Fukushima’s Hot Particles in Japan: Their Meaning for the Olympics and Beyond

RADATION-graphic-300x138

January 10, 2020

By Cindy Folkers

Hundreds of thousands of people—athletes, officials, media, and spectators—will flood into Japan for the 2020 Olympics. But radiation exposure dangers from the Fukushima nuclear catastrophe have not ended since the meltdowns and explosions spread radioactive contamination over large areas reaching down to Tokyo and beyond. Soon after the start of the meltdowns in 2011, experts began warning of exposure to radioactive micro-particles or “hot particles”—a type of particle that poses a danger unaccounted for by regulatory agencies. In order to understand the special danger posed by these particles at the Olympics and beyond, we must first understand the current state of radiation exposure standards.

Hot Particles Don’t Fit Current Exposure Models

For decades, protection from radiation exposure has been based on understanding how doses are delivered to the human body. Are the doses high or low? Inside or outside the body? If a dose is internal, which organ is it impacting? Is the dose given all at one time, or over a longer time? Additional consideration should be given to who is receiving the exposure: men, women, children, fetuses—although protection based on age, gender and pregnancy falls short.

The difficulty with hot particles, which can travel great distances, is that they don’t deliver doses in the way experts expect. Current exposure assumptions hold that radionuclides settling in the body, i.e. through inhalation or ingestion, deliver a low dose to surrounding cells where they lodge. But these models are not truly reflecting the damage that is occurring. For instance, precise distribution of many radionuclides within the body eludes experts. And radiation doses delivered inside cells, which may seem low to an entire body, are large doses when just single cells or groupings of cells receive them. Hot particles deliver a much larger dose than what is considered “low.” And once they are inhaled or ingested, they deliver it specifically to the (often unpredictable) area of the body where they lodge.

Hot Particles Make Already Unpredictable Damage Worse

Not only can hot particle doses be unpredictable—so can the damage. Called “stochastic,” damage from radiation exposure may occur at all doses [no matter how small]. The higher the dose is, the greater the chance is that damage will happen. However, the severity of the damage is independent of the dose; that is even low doses of radiation can result in severe consequences. Sometimes these consequences take decades to manifest, but for times of life when fast growth is occurring—such as pregnancy or childhood—the damage may show up in a much shorter time frame.

Since all parts of the human body develop from single cells during pregnancy, the severity of a “radiation hit” during this development can be devastating for mother and child, yet governments and the nuclear industry never consider these exposures as having an official radiation impact. Therefore, NO safe dose CAN exist. Stochastic risk, coupled with the additional unpredictable and unaccounted-for risk from radioactive micro-particles, can lead to impacts that are more dangerous and difficult to quantify with currently used methods.

Olympics 2020 and Beyond

Clearly, as Japan prepares to host the 2020 Olympics, the danger posed by exposure to radioactive micro-particles should be considered, in addition to known and better understood radio-cesium contamination. While most of the radioactive particle dust has settled, it can be easily re-suspended by activities such as digging or running, and by rain, wind, snow, and flooding. Health officials in Japan continually fail to act and stop ongoing radioactive exposures. This lack of governmental action puts all residents of Japan at risk, and also any athletes, spectators and visitors that participate in the Olympics.

Currently, the torch relay is scheduled to begin with a special display of the “Flame of Recovery,” as the torch passes through still-contaminated areas of Fukushima Prefecture. Then, the “Grand Start,” the Japanese leg of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Torch Relay, will occur at “J. Village,” the former disaster response headquarters used during the initial nuclear meltdowns in 2011. It is 12.4 miles from Fukushima-1 wreckage site, and resides close to acres of radioactive topsoil and other material stored in bags. The bags and the cranes moving them are visible on satellite maps dated 2019. After starting in Fukushima, the torch will travel to all remaining prefectures of Japan. Further, there is indication that J. Village (now called National Training Center) is being retrofitted as a practice area for baseball, softball, and soccer. Games hosted in Fukushima Prefecture aren’t the only exposure concern, as radioisotopes have traveled far from the ruined cores of Fukushima’s reactors. Radionuclides from the meltdowns were found in Tokyo’s metropolitan area as late as 2016 and would increase and decrease, researchers observed, based on rainfall and run-off. One “high activity radioactively-hot dust particle” traveled from Fukushima’s ruined core, to a house in Nagoya, Japan—270 miles away.

In our normal lives, each one of us breathes in a modest amount of dust daily. People are also exposed through contaminated food, ingestion of dusts and soil, or through skin contact. Endurance athletes are at a higher risk, since they often eat much more—and take in more breaths per minute—than an average athlete or a person at rest. And, biologically, due to developing cells, children and pregnant women are at a much higher risk from radiation exposure than men. Many Olympic and Paralympic athletes are of childbearing age or adolescents.

Contamination in Japan has not gone away and neither should our awareness. While most of the athletes, coaches and spectators will leave Japan, the contamination remains, impacting generations of people who will have to contend with this danger for much longer than the eight-plus years they have already been through.

Japan’s government policy of dismissing radiation’s dangers, and normalizing exposure to radioactivity, is part of an attempt to resettle people in areas that would allow an external dose of 2 rem per year. Prior to the Fukushima meltdowns, this level was considered high-risk to the general population. This is not an acceptable level of exposure. The radioactive micro-particles found in areas with even lower background levels indicate a significant risk that Japan and governments around the world who support nuclear technologies are covering up. Merely understanding and quantifying these hot particles is not enough. Governments must protect people from exposure everywhere in the world, not just in Japan. The danger of radioactive micro-particles should be added to a long list of reasons why nuclear technology is not safe and should no longer be used.

Thanks to Arnie and Maggie Gundersen at Fairewinds Energy Education for technical and editorial input.

Cindy Folkers is on the staff of Beyond Nuclear where she specializes in radiation impacts on health, Congress watch, energy legislation, climate change, and federal subsidies.

http://nukewatchinfo.org/fukushimas-hot-particles-in-japan-their-meaning-for-the-olympics-and-beyond/

January 21, 2020 Posted by | Fukushima 2020 | , | Leave a comment

Tokyo ‘Recovery Olympics’ offer scant solace to displaced victims of Fukushima nuclear disaster

n-fukushima-a-20191219-870x580.jpg
An abandoned elementary school classroom remains cluttered Dec. 3 with school bags and other belongings left by students as they rushed out after the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami that crippled the nearby Fukushima nuclear power plant in Futaba.
December 18, 2019
FUTABA, FUKUSHIMA PREF. – Nine years after an earthquake, tsunami and nuclear disaster devastated wide areas of the prefecture, the torch relay for the 2020 Summer Games will kick off in Fukushima.
Some baseball and softball games will also be held in the prefecture, allowing Tokyo organizers and the government to label these games the “Recovery Olympics.” The symbolism recalls the 1964 Tokyo Olympics, which showcased Japan’s re-emergence just 19 years after World War II.
But tens of thousands still haven’t recovered in Fukushima, displaced by nuclear radiation and unable to return to deserted places like Futaba.
Time stopped in the town of 7,100 when disaster stuck on March 11, 2011.
Laundry still hangs from the second floor of one house. Vermin gnaw away at once intimate family spaces, exposed through shattered windows and mangled doors. The desolation is deepened by Japanese tidiness, with shoes waiting in doorways for absent owners.
“This recovery Olympics is in name only,” Toshihide Yoshida said. He was forced to abandon Futaba and ended up living near Tokyo. “The amount of money spent on the Olympics should have been used for real reconstruction.”
Japan is spending about ¥2.8 trillion ($25 billion) to organize the Olympics. Most is public money, though exactly what are Olympic expenses — and what are not — is always disputed.
The government has spent ¥34.6 trillion for reconstruction projects for the disaster-hit northern prefectures, and the Fukushima plant decommissioning is expected to cost ¥8 trillion.
The Olympic torch relay will start in March at J-Village, a soccer venue used as an emergency response hub for Fukushima plant workers. The relay goes to 11 towns hit by the disaster, but bypasses Futaba, a part of Fukushima that Olympic visitors will never see.
“I would like the Olympic torch to pass Futaba to show the rest of the world the reality of our hometown,” Yoshida said. “Futaba is far from recovery.”
The radiation that spewed from the plant at one point displaced more than 160,000 people. Futaba is the only one of 12 radiation-hit towns that remains a virtual no-go zone. Only daytime visits are allowed for decontamination and reconstruction work, or for former residents to check their abandoned homes.
The town has been largely decontaminated and visitors can go almost anywhere without putting on hazmat suits, though they must carry personal dosimeters to measure radiation absorbed by the body and surgical masks are recommended. The main train station is set to reopen in March, but residents won’t be allowed to return until 2022.
A main-street shopping arcade in Futaba is lined by collapsing store fronts and sits about 4 km (2.5 miles) from the nuclear plant, and 250 km (150 miles) north of Tokyo. One shop missing its front doors advertises Shiseido beauty products with price tags still hanging on merchandise. Gift packages litter the ground.
Futaba Minami Elementary School, where no one died in the evacuation, has nonetheless been untouched for almost nine years and has the feel of a mausoleum. School bags, textbooks and notebooks sit as they were when nearly 200 children rushed out.
Kids were never allowed to return, and “Friday, March 11,” is still written on classroom blackboards along with due dates for the next homework assignment.
On the first floor of the vacant town hall, a human-size daruma good-luck figure stands in dim evening light at a reception area. A piece of paper that fell on the floor says the doors must be closed to protect from radiation.
It warns: “Please don’t go outside.”
The words are underlined in red.
“Let us know if you start feeling unwell,” Muneshige Osumi, a former town spokesman, told visitors, apologizing for the musty smell and the presence of rats.
About 20,000 people in Tohoku died in the magnitude 9.0 earthquake and resulting tsunami. Waves that reached 16-meters-high killed 21 people around Futaba, shredding a seaside pine forest popular for picnics and swimming.
A clock is frozen at 3:37 p.m. atop a white beach house that survived.
Nobody perished from the immediate impact of radiation in Fukushima, but more than 40 elderly patients died after they were forced to travel long hours on buses to out-of-town evacuation centers. Their representatives filed criminal complaints and eventually sent former Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings Inc. executives to court. They were acquitted.
When Tokyo was awarded the Olympics in 2013, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe assured International Olympic Committee members that the nuclear disaster was “under control.” However, critics say the government’s approach to recovery has divided and silenced many people in the disaster-hit zones.
Under a development plan, Futaba hopes to have 2,000 people — including former residents and newcomers such as construction workers and researchers — eventually living in a 550-hectare site.
Yoshida is unsure if he’ll return. But he wants to keep ties to Futaba, where his son inherited a filling station on the main highway connecting Tokyo and Tohoku.
Osumi, the town spokesman, said many former residents have found new homes and jobs and the majority say they won’t return. He has his own mixed feelings about going back to his mountainside home in Futaba. The number of residents registered at the town has decreased by more than 1,000 since the disaster struck, indicating they are unlikely to return.
“It was so sad to see the town destroyed and my hometown lost,” he said, holding back tears. He reflected on family life, the autumn leaves, and the comforting hot baths.
“My heart ached when I had to leave this town behind,” he added.
Standing outside Futaba Station, Mayor Shiro Izawa described plans to rebuild a new town. It will be friendly to the elderly, and a place that might become a major hub for research in decommissioning and renewable energy. The hope is that those who come to help in Fukushima’s reconstruction may stay and be part of a new Futaba.
“The word Fukushima has become globally known, but regrettably the situation in Futaba or (neighboring) Okuma is hardly known,” Izawa said, noting Futaba’s recovery won’t be ready by the Olympics.
“But we can still show that a town that was so badly hit has come this far,” he added.
To showcase the recovery, government officials say J-Village and the Azuma baseball stadium were decontaminated and cleaned. However, problems keep popping up at J-Village with radiation “hot spots” being reported, raising questions about safety heading into the Olympics.
The radioactive waste from decontamination surrounding the plant, and from across Fukushima, is kept in thousands of storage bags stacked up in temporary areas in Futaba and Okuma.
They are to be sorted — some burned and compacted — and buried at a medium-term storage facility for the next 30 years. For now they fill vast fields that used to be rice paddies or vegetable farms. One large mound sits next to a graveyard, almost brushing the stone monuments.
This year, 4 million tons of those industrial container bags were to be brought into Futaba, and another million tons to Okuma, where part of the Fukushima plant stands.
Yoshida said the medium-term waste storage sites and the uncertainty over whether they will stay in Futaba — or be moved — is discouraging residents and newcomers.
“Who wants to come to live in a place like that? Would senior officials in Kasumigaseki go and live there?” he asked, referring to the high-end area in Tokyo that houses many government ministries.
“I don’t think they would,” Yoshida added. “But we have ancestral graves, and we love Futaba, and we don’t want Futaba to be lost. The good old Futaba that we remember will be lost forever, but we’ll cope.”

December 24, 2019 Posted by | fukushima 2019 | , , , | Leave a comment

High-level radiation hot spots found at J-Village, the starting point of Tokyo 2020 Olympic Torch Relay

1e892707-191026_j_villageThe Japan leg of the 2020 Tokyo Olympic torch relay will start at a the J-Village soccer facility in Fukushima Prefecture.

Tokyo, Japan, 4 December 2019 – High-level radiation hot spots have been found at the sports complex where the 2020 Tokyo Olympic torch relays will begin, according to a survey to be released by Greenpeace Japan. The radiation levels around J-Village Stadium in Fukushima Prefecture were as high as 71 microsieverts per hour at surface level. This is 1,775 times higher than the 0.04 microsieverts per hour prior to the Fukushima Daiichi triple reactor meltdown in 2011.

Greenpeace’s Nuclear Monitoring & Radiation Protection Advisors detected and documented several radiation hot spots on 26 October during its annual survey, which will be published in spring 2020. On 18 November, Greenpeace Japan sent a letter to Minister Koizumi of the Japanese Ministry of the Environment

, demanding immediate decontamination measures and assurance that the public will not be exposed to radiation hot spots during the Olympics and Paralympics events at J-Village. Copies were also sent to the President of the International Olympic Committee, as well as the Presidents of the International Paralympic Committee, Japanese Olympic and Paralympic Committees, and the Governor of Fukushima Prefecture, who is also the President of J-Village. 

Greenpeace has yet to receive a response from the Japanese government but is publicly releasing the information on the radiation hot spots due to an article published today (4 December) by Sankei Shimbun.

The article reports some details of Greenpeace Japan’s letter to the Japanese government and Olympic bodies, which was leaked to the media by an unknown official. The article states that the soil around the particular hotspot with 71 microsieverts per hour at surface level was removed by TEPCO yesterday (3 December).

While general radiation levels were low at the J-Village, these radiation hot spots are of significant public health concern. Radiation hot spots of such high levels can be found in the closed area around Fukushima (so-called Area 3), but should not be present in publicly accessible areas. Yet, they are at a location that has been the focus of an extensive decontamination program and is also the starting point for the Olympic torch relay in Japan. 

These radiation hot spots highlight both the scale of contamination caused by the Fukushima Daiichi disaster, and the failure of decontamination efforts. We have called on the Ministry of Environment to act urgently and to initiate immediate decontamination,” said Kazue Suzuki, Energy Campaigner at Greenpeace Japan. 

The radiation hot spots at the parking lot close to J-Village are of particular concern because they are located in an area that is currently visited by a large number of people. The highest figures were: 71µSv/h at contact, 32µSv/h at 10cm, 6µSv/h at 50cm and 1.7µSv/h at 1m, while the official Japanese government’s decontamination threshold is 0.23µSv/h. 

There is a risk that heavy rain will spread these higher levels of contamination on public roads, and thus re-contaminate already decontaminated surfaces. This could partially undo earlier efforts to decontaminate the public areas in J-Village. From our observations, it is unlikely that radiation hot spots of such high levels re-emerged from re-contamination after the previous decontamination. It is more logical that the decontamination was not sufficiently and thoroughly conducted in the first place,” said Shaun Burnie, Senior Nuclear Specialist at Greenpeace Germany and the team leader of the survey.

To protect public safety, Greenpeace Japan demands that the Japanese government conduct an immediate and extensive radiation survey of the public areas in and around J-Village and nearby Olympic/Paralympic venues. Furthermore, they should promptly conduct decontamination if further radiation hot spots are identified. Regular screenings of the radiation levels in J-Village should be also conducted to monitor possible re-contamination of public areas.

Greenpeace’s Nuclear Monitoring & Radiation Protection Advisors will soon re-test the J-Village to determine if subsequent decontamination attempts have been adequately conducted.

https://www.greenpeace.org/japan/uncategorized/press-release/2019/12/04/11770/?fbclid=IwAR2ipzVjeLhwCvAc4szkNbgg_tBfcL4SU7RM9eeLbY6Zt_W43D3qYfZSbHg

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

OLYMPICS/ S. Korea to bring food, check for radiation at Tokyo Games

korea japan.jpg

December 4, 2019

SEOUL–South Korea’s Olympic committee plans to buy radiation detectors and ship homegrown ingredients to Japan for its athletes at the Tokyo Games because of worries local food may be contaminated by the 2011 Fukushima nuclear disaster.

Japan has posted data to show the country is safe from Fukushima radiation and many countries have lifted Fukushima-related food restrictions.

The Korea Sports & Olympic Committee (KSOC) plans to ship red pepper paste, a key ingredient in Korean dishes, and other foods, and check for radiation in meat and vegetables that can only be sourced locally due to stringent quarantine rules, a KSOC meals plan report shows.

“Apparently, ingredients and food will be transported from South Korea as much as possible, possibly including canned food,” Shin Dong-keun, a ruling Democratic Party member of the parliamentary sports committee who was recently briefed by KSOC, told Reuters in an interview.

“For this Olympic games, food is our team’s main focus so they can provide safe meals for the athletes to erase radiation worries, as opposed to in the past, food was meant to play the supplementary role of helping with their morale.”

KSOC plans to arrange local Korean restaurants to prepare meals for baseball and softball players competing in Fukushima, as shipping boxed lunches from Tokyo is not feasible, it said in the “2020 Tokyo Summer Olympics Meals Support Center Plan.”

“These Korean restaurants should only handle food confirmed as radiation free,”

The Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant, located about 220 kilometers northeast of Tokyo, was rocked by a magnitude 9.0 earthquake and subsequent tsunami in March 2011, sparking three reactor meltdowns.

More than 160,000 residents fled nearby towns in the aftermath as radiation from the reactors contaminated water, food and air.

RADIATION HOT SPOTS

Greenpeace said on Wednesday that radiation hot spots have been found at the J-Village sports facility in Fukushima where the Tokyo 2020 Olympic torch relay will begin.

South Korea has stepped up demands for a Japanese response to concerns food produced in the Fukushima area and nearby sea could be contaminated by radiation from the Fukushima plant.

Japan is having trouble removing more than 1 million tons of contaminated water from the crippled plant.

When it finalizes menus around April, the KSOC will consider asking Tokyo to ease its stringent quarantine ban on South Korean produce, an official at the committee said.

The official said South Korea was preparing a separate meals plan due to concerns from the public and politicians over food safety, unlike the United States and Australia whose athletes will mainly eat food provided by the host country, Japan.

The official requested anonymity due to the sensitivity of the matter.

South Korea’s concerns about possible contamination from the nuclear disaster has become a thorn in already contentious ties with Japan.

Seoul has banned imports of seafood from Japan’s Fukushima region since the nuclear disaster, prompting Tokyo to launch a World Trade Organization complaint. Japan has said many nations such as the United States and Australia had lifted or eased Fukushima-related restrictions.

Japanese officials use international events to promote the recovery of areas hit by the 2011 tsunami and nuclear disaster to show produce from Fukushima Prefecture is safe.

Mineral water from Fukushima was served on tables at the last month’s Group of 20 foreign ministers meeting it hosted in Nagoya.

The South Korean Olympic committee plan to purchase radiation detecting equipment by February and station an inspector at its own cafeteria in Tokyo during the games to check contamination levels, according to the KSOC report.

The budget for the Tokyo Olympics meals service is earmarked at 1.7 billion won ($1.44 million or 155 million yen), which includes twice the amount of money for buying and shipping ingredients than previous games, according to the committee.

http://www.asahi.com/ajw/articles/AJ201912040049.html?fbclid=IwAR1CWlV5oDPx_ROTX5jh4WMeFnTmh7rykUwnbPa3dPHgYGTPqZZUmicAUxo

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

Olympics-Radiation hot spots found at Tokyo 2020 torch relay start – Greenpeace

1e892707-191026_j_village.pngJ-village

December 4, 2019

TOKYO, Dec 4 (Reuters) – Radiation hot spots have been found at the J-Village sports facility in Fukushima where the Tokyo 2020 Olympic torch relay will begin, Greenpeace Japan said on Wednesday.

Greenpeace found that radiation levels around the recently refurbished venue, which also hosted the Argentina team during the Rugby World Cup earlier this year, were significantly higher than before the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear reactor meltdown following the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami.

Greenpeace’s survey found radioactivity readings taken at J-Village on Oct. 26 as high as 71 microsieverts per hour at surface level.

People are exposed to natural radiation of 2,000-3,000 microsieverts a year, so anyone staying in the vicinity of J-Village for two or more days could be exposed to more than that.

These readings, although not deemed life-threatening if exposed for a short length of time, are 1,775 times higher than prior to the March 2011 disaster, according to the NGO.

The Olympic flame is due to arrive from Greece in Japan on March 20, with the torch relay officially starting from J-Village on March 26.

Greenpeace said in a statement that it had sent its findings to Japan’s Ministry of Environment, but had received no response.

“There is a risk that heavy rain will spread these higher levels of contamination on public roads, and thus re-contaminate already decontaminated surfaces,” warned Greenpeace nuclear specialist Shaun Burnie, team leader of the J-Village survey, in a statement.

An ministry official acknowledged to Reuters on Wednesday that the ministry had been alerted to higher radiation level readings in an area surrounding J-Village and that decontamination measures had been taken.

“The ministry cooperated with related groups to decrease radiation levels in that area,” said the official.

“On Dec. 3, Tokyo Electric Power (Tepco) took measures to decrease radiation levels in said area.”

The Fukushima Daiichi nuclear station, located about 220 km (130 miles) northeast of Tokyo, was rocked by a magnitude 9.0 earthquake and subsequent tsunami in March 2011, sparking three reactor meltdowns.

More than 160,000 residents fled nearby towns in the aftermath as radiation from the reactors contaminated water, food and air. Greenpeace called on the Japanese government to conduct more extensive radiation surveys in the area and the NGO planned to return to J-Village soon to “determine if subsequent decontamination attempts have been adequately conducted.”

Tokyo 2020 organisers could not be immediately reached for comment.

Worries that local food could be contaminated by the nuclear disaster has prompted plans by South Korea’s Olympic committee to buy radiation detectors and ship homegrown ingredients to Japan for its athletes at the Tokyo Games. (Additional reporting by Mari Saito; editing by Simon Cameron-Moore)

https://af.reuters.com/article/africaTech/idAFL8N28E0L7?fbclid=IwAR01no7I0LUG2acAbapUgk9ERcWBHsndxvGdEeC1mYvj_fEYJZ-SEHlEr6g

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

Transparency, the olympics, and that damned water, Part 2

Happy-fukushima-peach-01.jpgOfficial messaging about Fukushima focuses on happiness.

Tuesday November 26th, 2019

Part 2: What about the Olympics?

The concerns we hear about the 2020 Olympics are more generalized and less focussed than those about the water in the tanks at Fukushima Daiichi. Some people ask us if it’s safe to come to Japan at all. Others narrow it down to Fukushima Prefecture. A few journalists and others have specifically asked us to weigh in on the potential risks to people who attend the events which will be held in Azuma Stadium in Fukushima City.  Our response to Tokyo businessman Roy Tomizawa was to suggest he build a bGeigie and survey the stadium himself. He did, and wrote about it. Helping people find out for themselves is how we prefer to interact with and inform the public. We often point out that the entire framing of “safety” when it comes to radiation risk is problematic. The guidelines for acceptable radiation limits in food, the environment, and elsewhere are not really “safety” limits, and exceeding them does not mean “unsafe.” They are warning levels that trigger protective actions intended to prevent actually “unsafe” exposures. In each case, the important questions are: Do you understand this risk, and is it acceptable to you? This is where people need help, and where government has so far largely failed in its mission to inform. Once again we think it comes down to transparency.

A quick Google search of “Fukushima Olympics”  will illustrate the widespread belief that athletes and visitors who go to Fukushima next year will be putting their lives at risk. The Korean government has announced that their teams will bring their own food so as not to incur potential health risks from eating local products. Many people suspect that the Japanese Government is holding Olympic events in Fukushima in order to cover up the effects of the disaster and paint the prefecture with a tint of normality. It seems clear that the government lost control of this narrative long ago and may well be unable to recover before the 2020 Olympics begin, and that the negative effects could persist for years afterwards. We do not see any adequate messaging or information about the kinds of risks people around the world are concerned about, presented understandably and accessibly. What messaging we have seen so far is clumsy and tends heavily towards images of smiley happy people intended to suggest that everything is fine. No-one really trusts these blithe reassurances, because they distrust government itself.

Japanese government agencies seem to be operating under the assumption that their authority in matters like this is still intact in the eyes of the public. Their messages appear to be shaped under the assumption that they can simply say, “We’ve had a committee look into it and we’ve determined that it’s safe,” without demonstrating the necessary transparency and breaking the explanation down in appropriate ways. We have no desire to make government’s job easier about any of this, but we care about the people in Fukushima, and so we want government to present clear and accurate information about their situation. Things in Fukushima are not as bad as alarming Google hits often suggest, but it’s definitely not hunky-dory either. Honest messaging would reflect this. We too wonder why the government has rushed to hold Olympic events in Fukushima, ignoring the global public’s existing fear and skepticism. Many Fukushima residents are supportive of the games and hope they will shed a positive light on the progress the prefecture has made since the disasters in 2011. It could be good for local economies as well. On the other hand, it could be another avoidable PR disaster.

We think people can visit Fukushima today without undue fear. The preponderance of data, both independent data like ours as well as official data, shows that typical visitors are extremely unlikely to travel anywhere in the prefecture where external radiation exposure is higher than natural background radiation levels in most of the world, unless they go out of their way to enter very contaminated areas to which access is normally prohibited. If people are willing to consider normal background radiation levels “safe,” then most of Fukushima fits this description. There are a lot caveats, however. There may be cesium contamination in the ground even in places where the external dose rate is in the normal range (Minnanods has published a very good map of their independent measurements of soil contamination). While food produced in Fukushima is closely monitored by both official bodies and independent labs, both of which indicate that it is overwhelmingly “safe,” people should avoid wild mushrooms, wild vegetables, wild game, and other items which are not produced under controlled agricultural conditions and distributed by supermarkets. With few exceptions the forests are not being decontaminated, and radiation levels can be considerably higher there, so it’s probably best to avoid entering unknown forests.

We get a lot of pushback for saying this, but years of Safecast radiation measurements in Fukushima and elsewhere show that short-term visitors to Fukushima will almost certainly get a higher radiation dose on their flights to Japan than they will by spending several days in Fukushima. (You can see Safecast measurements taken during air travel here.) These exposures are not entirely comparable, though, and the equation is different for people who live in parts of Fukushima where they are likely to receive decades of elevated radiation doses. But we stand by our overall conclusions, while pointing out that the only way to be sure is to have good data available for the places you’re going, which Safecast tries hard to provide. We’re very critical of the Korean government’s politically motivated manipulation of fear about Fukushima food despite not presenting any measurement data in support of its claims. On the other hand, Korea has demanded that radiation risks for next year’s Olympics be verified by independent third-parties, which we highly endorse. The Japanese government and the Olympic committee have announced that the torch relay will run though over 20 Fukushima towns, but they have not provided the public with survey data showing the current radiation levels along those routes. Safecast volunteers are ready to measure these routes, and indeed most have probably already been measured at some point, and while our data might indicate no particular risks for participants and viewers in most locations, it might reveal areas of concern. What maddens us is that we have been unable to obtain information about the actual street routes for the Fukushima portions of the relay and do not know how long before the event’s route information will actually become available.

Ultimately, we expect that official messaging about the Fukushima 2020 Olympic events will continue to avoid frank discussions of radiation risks and will continue to focus on “happiness.” The current information void and amateurish messaging are likely to be shattered at some point early next year by a massive and expensive PR blitz which will also focus on “happiness” but with higher production values and market reach. If radiation is dealt with at all, it is likely to be in a superficial and somewhat misleading manner. It doesn’t have to be that way.

Azby Brown

Azby Brown is Safecast’s lead researcher and primary author of the Safecast Report. A widely published authority in the fields of design, architecture, and the environment, he has lived in Japan for over 30 years, and founded the KIT Future Design Institute in 2003. He joined Safecast in mid-2011, and frequently represents the group at international expert conferences.

https://blog.safecast.org/2019/11/transparency-the-olympics-and-that-damned-water-part-2/

December 2, 2019 Posted by | fukushima 2019 | , , , | Leave a comment

Transparency, the olympics, and that damned water, Part 1

DroneDaiichiJan2018-v01-1.pngJoe’s drone image of the water tanks at Fukushima Daiichi, December ,2018

 

Tuesday November 26th, 2019

Questions, questions…

It’s hard to say what we get more questions about lately, the 2020 Olympics or the plan to release water from Fukushima Daiichi to the Pacific Ocean. Both issues involve public safety. How safe from radiation will people be who will attend Olympic games in Japan next year, specifically those who attend events to be held in Fukushima? How safe is it for TEPCO to release the water containing tritium and other radionuclides that is currently being stored in hundreds of tanks onsite at Fukushima Daiichi? These are separate issues of course, but in both cases the answers hinge on transparency. We think the fact that we get so many questions about these issues from both journalists and the general public indicates a continuing lack of trust in what the Japanese government and TEPCO say about anything related to Fukushima. That there can be no trust without transparency has become one of our mantras, and we repeat it at every opportunity. Whether the questions are about the Olympics, the water, food safety, the environment, or health, available scientific data only fills in part of the picture. Time and again we’ve found that even when the science generally supports official policy, the public is not given enough transparent information to evaluate the accuracy of the statements they’re hearing. And all too often we ourselves are forced to conclude that we haven’t seen enough reliable information to either confidently validate or refute official claims.

Part 1: What about the water?

In the case of the water in the tanks, last year I wrote a detailed two-part blog post as well as a newspaper op-ed about the issue. I pointed out the problems we saw then with communication and transparency on the part of both the gov’t and TEPCO, and relayed expert opinions about the risks of releasing the water. At the time, all of the information about the water in the tanks provided by TEPCO and the government referred only to its tritium content, with no reference to other radionuclides. While researching for my articles I consulted TEPCO experts several times, and asked them directly if there was data available showing the actual radionuclide content of the tanks. I asked directly if there was truly only tritium to be concerned about. Each time I was given summary data that indicated only tritium. A few months later, in September, 2018, TEPCO suddenly announced that in addition to the tritium the tanks also contain noticeable levels of strontium, americium, and other radionuclides. The public was as outraged by this dishonesty as we were.

What should we make, then, of the November 21, 2019, announcement from METI, widely (and vaguely) reported in the international press, that the advisory committee had determined that the water release plan was “safe”? In terms of politics and process, we’d like to point out that there has not yet been any announcement of an order from METI, NRA, or other government body to TEPCO to release the water. Similarly there has not been any announcement of an actual request from TEPCO to be allowed to do so. The public position is that no decision has been made yet. But we think it’s a done deal and has been for several years already. What we’re seeing is an ongoing effort to get enough of the public on board to minimize the political fallout when it happens. Someone will have to put their name on the order, and it will surely be politically costly.

To be sure, this entire “crisis” is predicated on the claim that TEPCO will run out of onsite tank space in a year or two, but there is no evidence that the company or METI has seriously evaluated obtaining use of land adjoining the Fukushima Daiichi site, which is currently under the jurisdiction of the Environment Ministry for storage of decontamination waste, in order to build more tanks for long-term storage. This recommendation has been put forward by several groups and individuals at public meetings and elsewhere, but seems to have been dismissed without detailed study. We acknowledge the potential risks of this approach in the event a tank ruptures, but considering that the half-life of tritium is about 12.3 years, it seems plausible that secure storage for several decades could be constructed, during which time the water’s radioactivity would decline substantially. The idea should at least be seriously considered and good evidence presented for why it should not be done, if that is the conclusion.

The November 21st METI document acknowledges the need for monitoring if and when the water is released, stating: “Effective monitoring to confirm both 1) safety at the time of discharge and 2) safety of surrounding environment should be conducted” and “Monitoring results should be shared in a transparent manner, to wipe out concerns.” While these acknowledgements are welcome, we consider them obvious to the point of absurdity. Painful experience has shown that the need for actual transparency in cases like Fukushima can only be met by robust and independent third-party monitoring, which is not mentioned anywhere. The public has a right to this, and as Safecast has proven, we can do it ourselves. We have strongly recommended to TEPCO and the government officials we have spoken to over the years that they allow water samples to be measured by genuinely independent researchers and citizen-run radiation monitoring labs. We had never gotten an explanation of why this could not be facilitated. But in a recent news article, TEPCO spokesperson Hideki Yagi is quoted as saying that necessary safety protocols make independent testing impossible. We see no evidence that TEPCO has seriously investigated how true third-party monitoring could be implemented for the water in the tanks. Adequate protocols seem to be in place for third-party testing of other water onsite. TEPCO should come clean and give adequate access to technically qualified organizations and let them convey their findings before any release decision is made.

Page eight of the recent METI briefing document includes dose estimates for humans after the water is released, which it states have been derived from an UNSCEAR document from 2016, “Sources, effects and risks of ionizing radiation, Annex A.”  METI concludes that “…the impact of the radiation from the discharge is sufficiently small…” This is, of course, the most crucial data, but it is presented in an extremely confusing and sketchy manner. The public should also be given dose rate and radionuclide concentration estimates for the ocean water itself at different points, and for affected marine life. We asked for this information over a year ago, but METI was unable to provide it. Further, the UNSCEAR document cited as the basis for the calculations is really a summary overview document, and we question whether or not by itself it provides a sufficient basis for detailed dose estimates. The METI committee should show its calculations, especially the assumptions made, and we caution that no-one should assume that the estimates are correct until they do so. To ensure true transparency, the public should also demand to be included in developing detailed monitoring plans for the released water, to track the spread of the radionuclides and their concentrations, and to monitor subsequent concentrations in the food chain and in the wider environment. There are many individuals and organizations, including Safecast, who are well-qualified to participate in this oversight and have the motivation to do so. The public should refuse to accept any release plan until this kind of participatory planning and oversight is clearly in place. We are far beyond the point where “Trust Us” is an option.

Azby Brown

Azby Brown is Safecast’s lead researcher and primary author of the Safecast Report. A widely published authority in the fields of design, architecture, and the environment, he has lived in Japan for over 30 years, and founded the KIT Future Design Institute in 2003. He joined Safecast in mid-2011, and frequently represents the group at international expert conferences.

https://blog.safecast.org/2019/11/transparency-the-olympics-and-that-damned-water-part-1/

December 2, 2019 Posted by | fukushima 2019 | , | Leave a comment

Should Fukushima food be served at the Olympics?

To have succeeded to get to host the Olympics in Tokyo thru bribes and lies is one thing, to serve Fukushima food at the Olympics is another thing: totally insane.
And that despite all the propaganda saying otherwise that the Japanese government and its servile media are giving us!
OLY-2020-JPN-JAPAN-FUKUSHIMA-NUCLEAR-FOOD
An employee weighs a flatfish at a seafood market in Iwaki, Fukushima Prefecture, before conducting radiation tests on Oct. 1.
OLY-2020-JPN-JAPAN-FUKUSHIMA-NUCLEAR-FOOD
Fish are displayed at a seafood market in Iwaki, Fukushima Prefecture, on Oct. 1.
OLY-2020-JPN-JAPAN-FUKUSHIMA-NUCLEAR-FOOD
Tomio Kusano shows some of his pears at his orchard in Iwaki, Fukushima Prefecture, on Oct. 1.
Nov 26, 2019
FUKUSHIMA – For years, the government has sought to convince consumers that food from Fukushima is safe despite the nuclear disaster. But will it serve the prefecture’s produce at the Tokyo Olympics?
It’s a thorny subject for the authorities. They pitched the Olympics in part as a chance to showcase the recovery of areas affected by the 2011 earthquake, tsunami and nuclear disaster.
Government officials tout strict checks on food from the prefecture as evidence the produce is completely safe, but it remains unclear whether athletes and sports teams from around the world will be convinced.
In Fukushima, producers are keen to see their products served in the Olympic Village and have submitted a bid to the organizers.
“Fukushima Prefecture has put forward food from 187 producers and is second only to Hokkaido when it comes to meeting the specified criteria in terms of range of products,” said Shigeyuki Honma, assistant director general of the prefectural government’s agriculture and forestry planning division.
“Fukushima wants to serve athletes its rice, its fruits, beef and vegetables. But the committee still has to decide.”
In the years since the nuclear disaster, when tsunami overwhelmed the reactors at the Fukushima No. 1 power plant, strict measures have been in place to screen all manner of local produce.
And officials say the figures speak for themselves.
Japan allows a maximum of 100 becquerels of cesium radioactivity per kilogram. The European Union, by comparison, sets that level at 1,250 Bq/kg and the U.S. at 1,200.
According to officials, from April 2018 to March, 9.21 million bags of rice were examined with not a single one exceeding the Japanese limit.
The same for 2,455 samples of fruit and vegetables, 4,336 pieces of meat and 6,187 ocean fish.
“Only river fish and wild mushrooms have on just six occasions been found to exceed the limits,” said Kenji Kusano, director of the Fukushima Agricultural Technology Center in Koriyama, Fukushima Prefecture, the government’s main screening site.
‘Objective data’
But the figures have only gone some way to reassuring foreign officials: Numerous countries including China, South Korea and the U.S. maintain restrictions on the import of some or all produce from Fukushima.
South Korea, currently locked in a dispute with Japan over wartime issues, has been vocal about its concerns ahead of the Olympics, even raising the possibility of bringing in its own kitchen and food.
“We have requested the Olympic organizers to provide objective data verified by an independent third body,” the South Korean Sports and Olympic Committee said in a statement earlier this year.
“Since Japan repeatedly said its food from Fukushima is safe, we have demanded they provide statistics and data to back up their claims,” an official with the committee said.
The position underlines a long-running problem for Japan: While it points to its extensive, government-mandated checks as proof of safety, many abroad feel the government is not an objective arbiter.
“Generally, Japanese citizens have faith in the government, and we haven’t felt the need to have checks carried out by independent parties,” Kusano said.
But lingering questions have left some officials feeling that “perhaps (third-party checks) may be important from the point of view of foreigners,” he added.
‘Completely safe’
The International Olympic Committee has said it is still weighing how to handle the matter.
“Food menus and catering companies for the Olympic Village are under discussion and have yet to be defined,” a spokesman said.
Tokyo Olympics organizers say promoting areas affected by the 2011 disaster remains a key goal.
“Supporting the area’s reconstruction efforts through the sourcing of its food and beverage products is one of our basic strategies; we are therefore seriously considering doing this,” organizing committee spokesman Masa Takaya said.
He said rules on what food and drink could be brought in independently by teams are still being reviewed.
And, pointing to the strict standards of Japanese checks, he said the organizers “are confident the food we will serve to athletes will be completely safe.”
In Fukushima, producers can only wait and hope for the best.
Tomio Kusano, a pear farmer in Iwaki on the Fukushima coast, struggled enormously after the disaster.
“My world really collapsed, but I never thought for a second of quitting,” the orchardist said.
And his perseverance is finally beginning to pay off: “I don’t get subsidies any more. My pears are inspected and there are no problems. They are selling well again in Japan, and Vietnam has started to import them.”

December 2, 2019 Posted by | fukushima 2019 | , | Leave a comment

Hot particles in Japan: what does this mean for the Olympics and beyond?

1024px-Olympic-flag-Victoria.jpg

November 21, 2019

Hundreds of thousands of people – athletes and spectators – will flood into Japan for the 2020 Olympics. But exposure dangers from the Fukushima nuclear catastrophe have not ended since the meltdowns and explosions spread radioactive contamination over large areas reaching down to Tokyo and beyond.  Soon after the start of the meltdowns, experts began warning of exposure to radioactive microparticles (hot particles)– a type of particle that poses a danger unaccounted for by regulatory agencies.  In order to understand the special danger posed by these particles, at the Olympics and beyond, we must first understand the current state of radiation exposure standards.

Hot particles don’t fit current exposure models

For decades, protection from radiation exposure has been based on understanding how doses are delivered to the human body. Are the doses high or low? Inside or outside the body? If a dose is internal, which organ is it impacting? Is the dose given all at one time, or over a longer time? Additional consideration should be given to who is receiving the exposure: men, women, children, fetuses, — although protection based on age, gender and pregnancy falls short.

The difficulty with hot particles, which can travel great distances, is that they don’t deliver doses in the way experts expect. Current exposure assumptions hold that radionuclides settling in the body, i.e. through inhalation or ingestion, deliver a low dose to surrounding cells where they lodge. But these models are not truly reflecting the damage that is occurring. For instance, precise distribution of many radionuclides within the body eludes experts. And radiation doses delivered inside cells, which may seem low to an entire body, are large doses when just single cells or groupings of cells receive them. Hot particles deliver a much larger dose still, than what is considered “low”; and once they are inhaled or ingested, they deliver it specifically to the often unpredictable area of the body where they lodge. 

Hot particles make already unpredictable damage worse

Not only can doses be unpredictable – so can damage. Called stochastic, damage from radiation exposure may occur by chance, and may occur at all doses down to zero.  The higher the dose is, the greater the chance is that damage will happen. However, the severity of the damage, should any occur, is independent of the dose; in other words, even low doses of radiation can result in severe consequences. Sometimes these consequences can take decades to manifest. But for times of life when fast growth is occurring – such as pregnancy or childhood – the damage may show up in a much shorter time frame.

Since all parts of the human body develop from single cells during pregnancy, the severity of a radiation hit during this development can be devastating for mother and child, yet governments and the nuclear industry never consider these exposures as having an official radiation impact. Therefore, NO safe dose CAN exist.  Stochastic risk, coupled with the additional unpredictable and unaccounted for risk from radioactive microparticles, can lead to impacts that are more dangerous and difficult to quantify with currently used methods.

Olympics 2020 and beyond

Clearly the danger posed by exposure to radioactive microparticles should be considered, in addition to known and better understood radiocesium contamination, as Japan prepares to host the 2020 Olympics. While most of the radioactive particle dust has settled, it can be easily resuspended by human or animal actions such as digging or running; and by weather, such as rain, wind, snow, and floods. Health officials in Japan continue to fail to act and stop the ongoing radioactive exposures. This lack of governmental action puts all residents of Japan at risk, and also any athletes, spectators and visitors that participate in Olympic festivities or games.  

Currently, the torch relay is scheduled to begin with a special display of the “Flame of Recovery”, as the torch passes through still-contaminated areas of Fukushima Prefecture. Then, the “Grand Start”, the Japanese leg of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Torch Relay, will occur at J Village, the former disaster response headquarters used during the initial nuclear meltdowns in 2011. It is 12.4 miles from Fukushima Daiichi and resides close to acres of radioactive topsoil and other material stored in bags. The bags and the cranes moving them are visible on satellite maps dated 2019. After starting in Fukushima, the torch will travel to all remaining prefectures of Japan. Further, there is indication that J. Village (now called National Training Center) is being retrofitted as a practice area for baseball, softball and soccer. Game events hosted in Fukushima Prefecture aren’t the only exposure concern as radioisotopes have traveled far from the ruined cores of Fukushima’s reactors. Radionuclides from the meltdowns were found in Tokyo’s metropolitan area as late as 2016 and would raise and lower, researchers observed, based on rainfall and run-off. A “high activity radioactively-hot dust particle” traveled from Fukushima’s ruined core, to a house in Nagoya, Japan –270 miles away.

In our normal lives, each one of us breathes in a modest amount of dust daily. People are also exposed through contaminated food, ingestion of dusts and soil, or through skin contact. Endurance athletes are at a higher risk, since they often eat much more – and take in more breaths per minute – than an average athlete or a person at rest. And, biologically, due to developing cells, children and pregnant women are at a much higher risk from radiation exposure than men. Many Olympic and Paralympic athletes are of childbearing age or adolescents

Contamination in Japan has not gone away and neither should our awareness. While most of the athletes, coaches and spectators will leave Japan, the contamination remains, impacting generations of people who will have to contend with this danger for much longer than the eight plus years they have been exposed to date.

Japan’s government-wide policy of dismissing radiation’s dangers and normalizing exposure to radioactivity is part of an attempt to resettle people in areas that would allow a dose of 2 rem (2000 mrem) per year. Prior to the Fukushima meltdowns, this level was considered high-risk to the general population. This is not an acceptable level of exposure, and the radioactive microparticles found in areas with even lower background levels indicates a significant risk that governments around the world who support nuclear technologies are covering up. Merely understanding and quantifying these particles is not enough. Governments must protect people from exposure everywhere in the world, not just in Japan. The danger of radioactive microparticles should be added to a long list of reasons why nuclear technology is not safe and should no longer be used.

Thanks to Arnie and Maggie Gundersen at Fairewinds Energy Education for technical and editorial input. Any mistakes are my own. Cindy Folkers

http://www.beyondnuclear.org/japan/2019/11/21/hot-particles-in-japan-what-does-this-mean-for-the-olympics.html

December 2, 2019 Posted by | fukushima 2019 | , | Leave a comment

Tokyo 2020 Olympics: will Fukushima rice and fruits be on the menu?

Japanese officials insist food from Fukushima is safe despite the 2011 nuclear disaster but China, South Korea and the US still restrict food imports from there
Producers are keen to serve local rice, fruits, beef and vegetables at the Olympic Village
 
01
An angler shows off a salmon caught in the Kido River in Naraha, Fukushima prefecture.
 
 
For years, Japan’s government has sought to convince consumers that food from Fukushima is safe despite the nuclear disaster. But will it serve the region’s produce at the Tokyo Olympics?
It’s a thorny subject for the authorities. They pitched the Games in part as a chance to showcase the recovery of areas affected by the 2011 tsunami and nuclear disaster.
Government officials tout strict checks on food from the region as evidence that the produce is completely safe, but it remains unclear whether athletes and sports teams from around the world will be convinced.
In the Fukushima region, producers are keen to see their products served at the Olympic Village and have submitted a bid to the organisers.
“The Fukushima region has put forward food from 187 producers and is second only to Hokkaido when it comes to meeting the specified criteria in terms of range of products,” said Shigeyuki Honma, assistant director general of the local government’s agriculture and forestry planning division.
“Fukushima wants to serve athletes its rice, its fruits, beef and vegetables. But the committee still has to decide.”
In the years since the nuclear disaster, when tsunami waves overwhelmed the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant, strict measures have been in place to screen all manner of local products. And officials say the figures speak for themselves.
Japan allows a maximum of 100 becquerels of caesium radioactivity per kilogram (Bq/kg). The European Union, by comparison, sets that level at 1,250 Bq/kg and the US at 1,200.
From April 2018 to March this year, 9.21 million bags of rice were examined, with not a single one exceeding the Japanese limit.
The same for 2,455 samples of fruit and vegetables, 4,336 pieces of meat and 6,187 ocean fish.
“Only river fish and wild mushrooms have on just six occasions been found to exceed the limits,” said Kenji Kusano, director of the Fukushima Agricultural Technology Centre, in Koriyama, the government’s main screening site.
But the figures have only gone some way to reassuring foreign officials: numerous countries including China, South Korea, and the United States maintain restrictions on the import of some or all produce from Fukushima.
02
Kenji Kusano, director of the Fukushima Agricultural Technology Centre, subjects fish to radiation tests.
 
South Korea, which is currently locked in a dispute with Japan over wartime issues, has been vocal about its concerns ahead of the Olympics, even raising the possibility of bringing in its own kitchen and food.
“We have requested the Olympic organisers to provide objective data verified by an independent third body,” the South Korean Sports and Olympic Committee said in a statement earlier this year.
“Since Japan repeatedly said its food from Fukushima is safe, we have demanded they provide statistics and data to back up their claims,” an official with the committee said.
The position underlines a long-running problem for Japan: while it points to its extensive, government-mandated checks as proof of safety, many abroad feel the government is not an objective arbiter.
 
03
In 2011, tsunami waves overwhelmed the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant.
 
“Generally, Japanese citizens have faith in the government, and we haven’t felt the need to have checks carried out by independent parties,” Kusano said.
But lingering questions have left some officials feeling “perhaps [third-party checks] may be important from the point of view of foreigners,” he added.
The International Olympic Committee said it was still weighing how to handle the matter.
“Food menus and catering companies for the Olympic Village are under discussion and have yet to be defined,” a spokesman said.
The Tokyo 2020 organisers said promoting areas affected by the 2011 disaster remains a key goal.
04
Japanese pear farmer Tomio Kusano shows how he removed the tree skins after the 2011 tsunami and nuclear disaster at his farm in Iwaki, Fukushima prefecture.
 
“Supporting the area’s reconstruction efforts through the sourcing of its food and beverage products is one of our basic strategies; we are therefore seriously considering doing this,” 2020 spokesman Masa Takaya said.
He said rules on what food and drink could be brought in independently by teams were still being reviewed. And, pointing to the strict standards of Japanese checks, he said the organisers “are confident the food we will serve to athletes will be completely safe”.
In Fukushima, producers can only wait and hope for the best.
 
Tomio Kusano, a pear farmer in Iwaki on the Fukushima coast, struggled enormously after the disaster.
“My world really collapsed, but I never thought for a second of quitting,” he said.
And his perseverance is finally paying off, he said.
“I don’t get subsidies any more. My pears are inspected and there are no problems. They are selling well again in Japan, and Vietnam has started to import them.”

December 2, 2019 Posted by | fukushima 2019 | , , , , | Leave a comment