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Man who shot famed tsunami video turned lens on Fukushima’s future

Takashi Hokoi, right, and Yuichi Harada talk amid cherry trees on March 6 in Namie, Fukushima Prefecture.

March 15, 2022

NAMIE, Fukushima — The schoolyard of an elementary school is empty of children, with only rusted playground equipment left on the barren soil. An elderly man looks wistfully around the shrine with cherry blossoms in full bloom.

“During cherry blossom season, children used to come here on field trips,” he says.

It is a scene from a 2016 documentary that chronicled the lives of people in Fukushima Prefecture affected by the March 2011 disaster in the context of the cherry blossom viewing season.

Titled “Fukushima Sakura Kiko” (Fukushima cherry blossom travel story), it was filmed in the spring of 2015 in the Odaka district of Minami-Soma, Fukushima Prefecture, by Takashi Hokoi, a former NHK news cameraman who currently is pursuing a career as an artist based in Fukushima.

The Odaka district, about 15 kilometers north of Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings, Inc.’s Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant, was still under an evacuation order at the time.

Seven years have passed since Hokoi, now 37, shot the documentary.

“I can hear the sound of a lawn mower,” Hokoi said with a slight smile when he revisited the district earlier this month.

With the evacuation order lifted, there are signs of life again, such as windows with open curtains. He knows that many people have not yet returned, but it is a welcome change.

The documentary was widely shown when it was released. However, Hokoi has a much more well-known video to his name, one that was circulated all over the world.

It was also one of the reasons that Hokoi left the world of journalism.

A foaming tsunami wave powers upstream in a river and floods the Sendai Plain. Houses and cars are instantly swallowed up by the wall of water.

The scene was broadcast live from an NHK helicopter at about 3:50 p.m. on March 11, 2011. Recording the destruction was Hokoi, who was in his first year as a cameraman.

Hokoi was working for the NHK Fukushima broadcasting station. He was at Sendai Airport on the day of the disaster. From an NHK helicopter, he was dumbstruck by the scene below and aimed his camera to the ground.

Tsunami waves crashed over main roads and swirled around, and houses were washed away or on fire. As he tried to come to grips with the reality-defying scene, one thought pervaded his mind: There must be people in those houses, in those cars.

The shocking video was given an award by the Japan Newspaper Publishers and Editors Association in September 2011. But Hokoi felt guilty receiving such praise. “All I did was escape to a safe place and film what I was told to,” he thought.

In 2013, NHK spoke to him about a transfer. But he decided to resign, and remained in Fukushima. He had a sense of guilt about leaving the disaster-hit area just two years after shooting such scenes and seeing its future as somebody else’s problem.

After leaving NHK, the idea for the documentary featuring cherry blossoms and people in Fukushima Prefecture came to him, all because of one person he had known.

Yuichi Harada was the third-generation owner of a clock shop and chairman of a local chamber of commerce and industry in the town of Namie, Fukushima Prefecture. In 2014, while Hokoi was planning to create a video about the disaster at the request of his university, Harada guided him around the town, which was still under evacuation orders.

Harada, now 72, had evacuated to the city of Nihonmatsu to the west, where he organized a community of displaced Namie residents and negotiated with TEPCO over compensation. All the while, he also continued tending to cherry trees along a river in Namie with other volunteers.

“If someone returns to the town and the cherry trees in bloom bring back memories, it might change how they feel,” Harada said.

That really hit home for Hokoi, that someone who had lost their beloved hometown could be so optimistic, believing that one day it would return.

Hokoi decided to depict present-day Fukushima through cherry blossoms, the symbol of spring and hope.

Since this spring, Hokoi has been working on a sequel to “Sakura Kiko.” He is motivated because, while interest in Fukushima Prefecture may be fading, the situation there is now more complicated.

Harada continues to look after the cherry trees today. As people could not return to Namie, he was never able to restart his business, and his store was torn down about six years ago.

The evacuation order for his hometown has since been lifted, but Harada has given up on ever returning to Namie. He thinks about moving to Ibaraki Prefecture, where his eldest daughter lives, but his mother, now in her 90s, wants him to stay in Nihonmatsu.

“Life is hard, isn’t it?” Harada said with a sad smile as he gazed at the cherry trees with Hokoi.

The strength of our desires does not necessarily make them come true. That is the harsh reality of disasters. “I want to continue following the lives of people in Fukushima Prefecture and try to find what reconstruction really means,” Hokoi said.

He will continue to face the disaster head-on.

 

■ Evacuation orders

Soon after the nuclear accident at the Fukushima No.1 nuclear power plant, the government designated an area within a 20-kilometer radius as a “warning zones” (evacuation order zones).

Areas outside that zone experiencing high levels of radiation were designated as “planned evacuation zones,” and the government demanded that residents in both zones evacuate.

The range of evacuation orders as of April 2012 extended to all or part of 11 municipalities, but that number has since decreased to the present-day seven.

Within those seven municipalities are areas designated as “difficult-to-return zones,” some of which are being developed as key reconstruction bases to provide a foothold for returning residents.

https://the-japan-news.com/news/article/0008356289

March 16, 2022 Posted by | Fuk 2022 | , , | Leave a comment

Years without forestry education as Fukushima decontamination falls short

Mar 14, 2022

The March 2011 meltdown at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant caused serious damage to forests in the surrounding areas. Even now, 11 years after the accident, little has been done to decontaminate them.

In some areas, projects are underway to restore the satoyama, areas of mountain forest maintained by residents of adjacent communities, but the airborne radiation levels in those areas are still not low enough that children can safely enter, according to a local community leader.

One such area is the Yamakiya district in the town of Kawamata, Fukushima Prefecture. Walking trails in the Daini Oyako no Mori forest are covered by snow, and sunny slopes are lined with zelkova trees.

Yellow and pink vinyl wrapped around the trees indicates the year they were planted by local elementary school students. At the end of March, it will be five years since the evacuation order for the Yamakiya district was lifted. But even now, the voices of children have not returned to the mountains.

In 2016, satoyama restoration projects were launched in the prefecture to improve the forest environment. Decontamination, reforestation and radiation monitoring were carried out in an integrated manner in the mountain and forest areas that had been used by residents.

The projects have been carried out based on the comprehensive forest restoration policy for Fukushima Prefecture, which was compiled jointly by the Reconstruction Agency, the Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Ministry and the Environment Ministry. A total of approximately 800 hectares in 14 municipalities were selected as model areas, including forest parks and walking trails, where fallen leaves and other sediment was removed and thinned.

Toshio Hirono looks at a sign noting a commemorative tree planting by Yamakiya Elementary School’s forestry club at the entrance of Daini Oyako no Mori forest in Kawamata, Fukushima Prefecture.

In the past, the forestry club of Yamakiya Elementary School was active in Daini Oyako no Mori. But since the nuclear accident, the forest had not been cared for and was in a dilapidated state — with thickets growing over the planted zelkova trees.

The town and the local residents chose Daini Oyako no Mori as a site for the project in order to revive the area as a site where children could study forestry. The project was launched in December 2016, prior to the planned lifting of the evacuation order for Yamakiya district at the end of March 2017.

The project covers an area of about 2 hectares. In fiscal years 2016 and 2017, planted cedar and zelkova trees were thinned and cleared, and trees that had fallen due to snow were removed. Logs were spread on slopes as a measure to control topsoil runoff.

Decontamination work was conducted in fiscal 2018. Leaves and branches that had fallen to the ground and other accumulated organic matter were removed in areas covering 5,595 square meters of the forest, including an open square and walking trails. The zelkova trees could die if their surfaces were stripped, so the work focused on clearing the grass and thickets.

Comparing the radiation levels in September 2018, before the decontamination work, and in November the same year, after the work, the average radiation level in the open square had been reduced by 22%, to 0.69 microsievert per hour. Based on the result, the central government concluded that “the decontamination work contributed to creating an environment ready for the resumption of forest study activities.”

However, even after the decontamination process, the airborne radiation levels were far from the central government’s long-term target of 0.23 microsieverts per hour. At some monitoring points, radiation levels exceeded 1 microsievert per hour.

“The area is not ready for children to go back,” said Toshio Hirono, 71, leader of the Yamakiya Elementary School’s forestry club.

Residents are demanding that the forest, where children once enjoyed the greenery, be restored to its original state.

The forestry club, which did its main work in Daini Oyako no Mori, was known both within and outside of the prefecture for its progressive activities that took advantage of the abundant natural resources. At the entrance of the forest, a signboard notes a commemorative tree planting by the group to mark a national commendation they received.

Children belonged to the group in the fourth through sixth grade, and their activities were diverse. They processed thinned cedar trees to create a walking path in their school’s front yard, built bridges over a river and moat in nearby mountains and made a mallet by hand for pounding rice cakes. They learned about the importance of nature by collecting mushrooms and tara buds, and eating rice cakes kneaded with burdock leaves.

These activities came to a halt after the nuclear accident at Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings Inc.’s Fukushima No. 1 plant. Before the accident, Yamakiya Elementary School had 30 to 40 children. But the number of children decreased due to the establishment of an evacuation zone, and the school has been closed since fiscal 2019.

“If it hadn’t been for the nuclear accident, there would have been so much more I wanted to do,” said Hirono.

Hirono has been serving as the third leader of the group for about 20 years, without a chance to pass on his position to a successor due to the suspension of its activities. He feels that although Daini Oyako no Mori has been decontaminated, the level of radiation has not gone down enough.

“If there is even a slight concern, we cannot allow our children to go into the mountains,” he said with a sigh.

Even after the model project ended, Hirono continues to voluntarily clear the undergrowth along the walking trails every fall. He understands that decontaminating all the forests in the town will not be easy, but believes that unless the radiation levels in the surrounding areas of Daini Oyako no Mori are lowered, residents will not be reassured.

“It is the central government’s responsibility to decontaminate until the residents are satisfied,” he said.

https://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2022/03/14/national/fukushima-forest-decontamination/

March 16, 2022 Posted by | Fuk 2022 | , , , | Leave a comment

Radiation still hitting flora, fauna in forests in Fukushima

Radiation levels in mountain forests in Fukushima Prefecture remain relatively high compared with residential areas that have undergone decontamination work. The photo was taken in Namie in the prefecture in December. (Keitaro Fukuchi)

March 11, 2022

SENDAI—On a chilly night in early February, Masatoshi Suzuki hauled a black plastic bag containing four macaque carcasses into his lab at Tohoku University.

The monkeys were killed as agricultural pests, but for researchers like Suzuki, the animals are invaluable specimens to determine the effects of radiation from the Fukushima nuclear disaster.

Nearly 11 years after the triple meltdown at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant, questions remain over the extent of damage to animals and plants caused by the radioactive substances released in the accident.

Suzuki, who specializes in radiobiology, hopes his studies will provide clues on the possible impact of the radiation on humans.

He and his colleagues have studied 709 macaques in Fukushima Prefecture since 2012. Of all the wild species available for study in the contaminated areas, macaques are most similar to humans.

Masatoshi Suzuki, a researcher of radiobiology, at his lab at Tohoku University in Sendai on Feb. 8 (Keitaro Fukuchi)

The four dead macaques were given to Suzuki by farmers who destroyed the animals several hours earlier in Namie, a town that lies about 4 kilometers from the crippled nuclear plant. Parts of Namie are still off-limit due to high radiation levels.

Other primates used in the studies have come from off-limit areas in Minami-Soma, a city north of the nuclear plant, and elsewhere in the prefecture.

The researchers dissect the carcasses to determine if the livers, lungs, thyroid glands and muscle tissues were affected by radiation from the nuclear accident.

Deformations in plant lice and fir trees have been reported since the nuclear disaster started.

But Suzuki said he has seen no credible reports of such physical abnormalities in wild animals, including macaques, as well as domestic livestock.

However, damage might be occurring at the cellular level in the animals.

Background radiation levels in most of the mountain forests in Fukushima and neighboring prefectures are higher than those in residential areas, which have undergone decontamination procedures.

In the nature-filled areas that have not been decontaminated, macaques continue to be exposed to radioactive materials while feeding on polluted fruits and other food sources.

According to Suzuki’s studies, the muscles showed the highest concentration of radioactive cesium among all of the macaques’ organs.

The average radioactivity level in the thigh muscles was about 40,000 becquerels per macaque captured in Namie in fiscal 2013.

In fiscal 2018, the figure was down to about 20,000 becquerels per macaque.

The researchers found that macaques exposed to higher radiation doses had slightly fewer blood-producing cells in bone marrow compared with the animals with lower exposure readings. The nuclear accident may have compromised some macaques’ ability to make blood.

The researchers used the density of radioactive cesium in the macaques’ muscles and in soil at areas where they were captured to calculate the level of radiation doses the animals were exposed to both internally and externally.

Suzuki also said they detected chromosomal abnormalities resulting from radiation damage to genes.

He said radiation exposure can increase the stress level in one organ, but the same dose could have the opposite effect in a different organ. One possible reason for this is that the animal’s defense system was galvanized to curb stress levels following exposure.

Suzuki emphasized the need to continue monitoring macaques and other animals to determine the impact from prolonged radiation exposure.

“So far, we have discovered no significant health hazards in the individual macaques studied,” he said. “But they continue to display changes in their cells and organs, albeit minor ones. We do not know what these changes will translate into in the long run.”

CESIUM PASSED THROUGH FOOD CHAIN

A study by other scientists showed that radioactive cesium from the nuclear accident could be traveling through food chains in the environment.

“If we can track down the movement of radioactive cesium in the food chain, the findings would show us its cycling mechanism in the ecosystem,” said Sota Tanaka, a researcher of radioecology at Akita Prefectural University.

He believes that studying the cycling mechanism of cesium will help to predict its long-term movement and lead to improved use of resources in mountain forests and the rebuilding of agriculture in contaminated areas.

Joint research by Tanaka and Taro Adachi, professor of applied entomology at the Tokyo University of Agriculture, found that radioactivity levels have decreased year after year in rice-field grasshoppers in Iitate, a village west of the stricken nuclear plant that still has some off-limit areas.

In 2016, all of the grasshoppers monitored had radioactivity readings below 100 becquerels per kilogram.

But garden web spiders in Iitate showed a wide range of readings from one year to the next. Their radioactivity levels were actually higher in 2015 than in 2014.

In 2016, one spider had a reading of more than 300 becquerels per kilogram.

Radioactive cesium remains on the ground even after rainfalls.

Plants rarely absorb cesium through their roots, but can become contaminated by falling cesium particles. And the researchers believe the cesium levels in grasshoppers have dropped steadily because they feed on the leaves of living plants.

As for the spiders, they are eating bugs that have high cesium levels because they feed on contaminated dead leaves mixed with contaminated soil, according to Tanaka.

That may be why the eight-legged predators are showing higher radioactivity readings than the grasshoppers, he said.

Their study also found that earthworms had radioactivity levels higher than those for the grasshoppers and spiders, likely because they are eating contaminated soil and withered leaves.

https://www.asahi.com/ajw/articles/14567194?fbclid=IwAR0sgko2lq2dlSUS-Qtzo3-7-hv1JvrLScAZ1TUEAofs5gKPvkQZOX53E4Q

March 14, 2022 Posted by | Fuk 2022 | , , | Leave a comment

Fate of Fukushima reactor cleanup uncertain after 11 years

Men in hazmat suits work inside a facility with equipment to remove radioactive materials from contaminated water at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, run by Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings, in Okuma town, northeastern Japan, on March 3.

March 13, 2022

OKUMA, Japan—Eleven years after the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant was ravaged by a meltdown following a massive earthquake and tsunami, the plant now looks like a sprawling construction site. Most of the radioactive debris blasted by the hydrogen explosions has been cleared and the torn buildings have been fixed.

During a recent visit by journalists from The Associated Press to see firsthand the cleanup of one of the world’s worst nuclear meltdowns, helmeted men wore regular work clothes and surgical masks, instead of previously required hazmat coveralls and full-face masks, as they dug near a recently reinforced oceanside seawall.

Workers were preparing for the planned construction of an Olympic pool-sized shaft for use in a highly controversial plan set to begin in the spring of 2023 to gradually get rid of treated radioactive water—now exceeding 1.3 million tons stored in 1,000 tanks—so officials can make room for other facilities needed for the plant‘s decommissioning.

Despite the progress, massive amounts of radioactive melted fuel remain inside of the reactors. There‘s worry about the fuel because so much about its condition is still unknown, even to officials in charge of the cleanup.

Nearly 900 tons of melted nuclear fuel remain inside the three damaged reactors, and its removal is an unprecedented challenge involving 10 times the amount of damaged fuel removed in the Three Mile Island cleanup following its 1979 partial core melt.

The government has set a decommissioning roadmap aiming for completion in 29 years.

The challenge of removing melted fuel from the reactors is so daunting that some experts now say that setting a completion target is impossible, especially as officials still don‘t have any idea about where to store the waste.

Nuclear Regulation Authority Chairman Toyoshi Fuketa said recently that extra time would be needed to determine where and how the highly radioactive waste removed from the reactors should be stored.

Japan has no final storage plans even for the highly radioactive waste that comes out of normal reactors.

Twenty-four of the country‘s 60 reactors are designated for decommissioning, mostly because of the high cost needed to meet safety standards set up in the wake of the Fukushima disaster.

On March 11, 2011, a magnitude 9.0 earthquake caused a tsunami 17 meters (56 feet) high that slammed into the coastal plant, destroying its power supply and cooling systems, causing reactors No. 1, 2 and 3 to melt and spewing massive amounts of radiation.

Three other reactors were offline and survived, though a fourth building suffered hydrogen explosions.

The spreading radiation caused some 160,000 residents to evacuate. Parts of the surrounding neighborhood are still uninhabitable.

The melted cores in Units 1, 2 and 3 largely fell to the bottom of their primary containment vessels, together with control rods and other equipment, some possibly penetrating or mixing with the concrete foundation, making the cleanup extremely difficult.

Probes of the melted fuel must rely on remote-controlled robots carrying equipment such as cameras and dosimeters—which measure radiation—because radiation levels in those areas are still fatally high for humans.

In February, a remote-operated submersible robot entered the Unit 1 primary containment vessel, its first internal probe since a failed 2017 attempt. It captured limited images of what are believed to be mounds of melted fuel rising from the concrete floor.

Probes have moved ahead at Unit 2, where Tokyo Electric Power Co. (Tepco) plans to send in an extendable robotic arm later this year to collect melted fuel samples.

Tepco Chief Decommissioning Officer Akira Ono said in a recent online interview that robotic probes at Unit 1 and 2 this year are a major “step forward” in the decades-long cleanup. 

March 14, 2022 Posted by | Fuk 2022 | , , | Leave a comment

Fukushima Workers Tell The Harrowing Story Of How They Tamed One Of The World’s Worst Nuclear Disasters

When the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant overheated in March 2011, these heroic workers stepped in. To this day, most people are unaware of their achievements.

03/12/2022

This story, by Fukushima Central Television, Co., Ltd., was published in partnership with HuffPost Japan and is translated from the original Japanese footage.

In 2011, three nuclear reactors melted down, provoking a series of hydrogen explosions and resulting in the world’s most severe nuclear accident. It happened in Japan, which had been long celebrated as a technology powerhouse.

At the time of the accident, the site became a veritable death trap, with extremely high levels of radioactivity and chunks of concrete from the explosion raining down on workers. And yet, there were some who remained on the ground to try and bring the overheating nuclear power plant to a halt.

“I just couldn’t run away when my country was about to sink,” one of the workers said. If this story can be told at all, it is precisely thanks to those who faced one of the world’s worst nuclear disasters out of a sense of pride in their country’s technology, attachment to the community and loyalty to their jobs.

The magnitude 9 Great East Japan Earthquake struck at 2:46 p.m. local time on March 11, 2011. Soon after, a large tsunami hit the ground level of the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant, which consisted of six nuclear reactors.

Satoru Umematsu, a veteran electrical engineer who had taken part in building the ground floor, was there when it happened. Umematsu was 60 at the time, and fast approaching retirement age.

When the nuclear power plant’s power transmission tower was knocked down by the force of the earthquake, causing the loss of external power supply, emergency generators kicked in, ensuring that cooling pumps could continue to function.

When the tsunami struck, however, the emergency generators of reactors 1 through 4, located about 33 feet (10 meters) above sea level, were flooded and stopped working.

When Umematsu rushed to the plant’s earthquake-proof building, about 115 feet (35 meters) above sea level, where the emergency response room was set up, it was packed with people. Inside, ashen-faced power plant executives were bustling around in a frenzy.

A Strategy Forms

As Umematsu and the others realized that the reactors could no longer be cooled down, they moved to secure a vehicle-mounted generator and power cables in order to generate electricity and restore the power supply.

“It was unimaginable that a nuclear power plant would lose all power. So, when it did actually happen, we were overcome by a tremendous sense of urgency,” he said.

For Umematsu, who had experienced all kinds of situations at different job sites in the course of his career, this crisis was an absolute first.

After graduating from junior high school and acquiring engineering skills at a vocational training center, Umematsu had accumulated over 40 years of experience in electrical construction sites, including power generation dams and nuclear power plants. He was familiar with most electrical systems in nuclear power plants. He was proud of the technological capabilities Japan had acquired after World War II and would proudly tell his relatives of his work at the nuclear power plant. He was relied upon by subordinates and colleagues, who respectfully referred to him as “Ume-san.”

Satoru Umematsu belonged to an electric construction group, affiliated company of TEPCO.
Satoru Umematsu belonged to an electric construction group, affiliated company of TEPCO.

In order to complete their task in the shortest possible time, Umematsu and his crew devised a simple strategy. To restore the power supply, they would park the vehicle-mounted generator next to the reactor building and link it to the nuclear power plant by connecting the power cables.

Opening A Path For The Truck-Mounted Generator

However, even the task of moving the truck-mounted generator closer to the reactor building was a daunting one. All kinds of debris and rubble brought by the tsunami littered the area around the reactor building, obstructing the passage of vehicles.

It wasn’t the power plant staff, the Self-Defense Forces, the fire department, nor the police who tackled this problem — it was a local resident.

Yoshishige Tochimoto was the managing director of a local company with about 10 employees. He was 51 at the time. When the earthquake struck, he witnessed the destruction of the nuclear power plant’s critical equipment.

Yoshishige Tochimoto.

“When the power transmission tower on the slope was brought down by the earthquake, it generated huge sparks. They were pink in color. Between 10 to 20 meters in length,” he said.

Situation of damage caused by the tsunami (Photo: TEPCO)

Tochimoto was on the premises as a subcontractor, doing seismic retrofitting work on the nuclear power plant. As he felt the ground shaking, he said he was unable to stand on his feet.

His own car was washed away by the tsunami that followed the earthquake. Luckily, his company’s excavator had suffered virtually no damage and only the caterpillar tracks had been submerged.

Wary of being exposed to radiation, Tochimoto had not actively sought out nuclear-related work in the past. But now he accidentally found himself on the scene of a nuclear disaster.

“This could be really bad, I thought,” he said.

‘I Won’t Be Gone For Long’

Workers from Tochimoto’s business and other local companies assembled in the parking lot in front of the earthquake-proof building.

They took a roll call to ensure everyone was safe. Then, the prime contractor company instructed them to “disband,” as it was feared that some of the workers would have lost some family members, or their homes would have been damaged. Tochimoto remembered what the other workers were talking about at the time.

“There was talk of opening a vent hole to prevent a hydrogen explosion,” he said.

A hydrogen explosion. He was unfamiliar with that word. The matter, however, seemed completely unrelated to him.

Exhaust tower of Units 1 and 2 (Photo: TEPCO)

Worried about his wife and children, he decided to go back to his home, approximately 8 miles (13 kilometers) away. Since his car at the nuclear power plant had been washed away by the tsunami, he asked an acquaintance for a ride home.

What would normally be a 30-minute ride ended up taking them two hours, as the road was heavily congested with people evacuating. After getting home and making sure that everyone in his family was safe, he got a call from the prime contractor company.

“Will you help us fix the nuclear power plant?”

Land side of the reactor building (Photo: TEPCO)

The roads inside the nuclear power plant were impassable by vehicles as they were covered in rubble and fissures in the asphalt had caused uneven gaps. Tochimoto thought that, if it was only a matter of fixing the road, it would not take long and he would be back home soon.

“I won’t be gone for long,” he told his family as he headed toward the Daiichi power plant. The time was around 7:30 pm.

Restoring Power, Fighting Against Fear

It took until nighttime to prepare the equipment needed to restore power. With preparations over, Umematsu gathered some young workers from the power plant and explained to them how to handle the power cables and how to route them.

The cables in question were special high-voltage cables called “Triplex,” which could suffer damage if dragged over the ground. The workers would have to connect the heavy cables, each 1-meter section weighing about 13 pounds (6 kilograms), from the truck-mounted generator parked outside the building to the power panel inside. Due to the building’s complex structure, they would have to lay the cable over a distance of about 130 meters. Many of the team’s members had no previous experience in handling that kind of equipment.

“As graduates of Japan’s most prestigious universities, they knew the theory, but had never actually connected a high-voltage cable. I was the only one who could tell them how to go about it.”


TEPCO employees recording data in the central control room of Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station Units 1 and 2 (provided by NISA)

However, at around 11:00 p.m., radiation levels several tens of times higher than usual were detected inside the building of the Unit 1 reactor. The pressure on the steel “containment vessel” enclosing the reactor holding the nuclear fuel was about to exceed the permissible values. The director of the power plant immediately forbade anyone from entering the Unit 1 building. The signs were unmistakable that the feared meltdown had begun.

If the workers did not complete the operation swiftly, they too could have been exposed to lethal doses of radiation. If only the power supply could be restored, the looming crisis could be averted. It was up to Umematsu to make it possible.

“I’m pretty sure we were all scared. Extremely scared,” he said. “But being scared is different from being hesitant. Some were actually hesitant and did not want to go. We were certainly scared. Incredibly scared. After all, we were going to an unknown site. However, while being scared, we behaved normally.”

Unit 2 Central Control Room, which became pitch black due to a power outage (provided by NISA)

Since Umematsu was not a regular power plant employee, normally he would have been advised to go home. Instead, the power plant managers, relying on his skills, asked him to stay. Umematsu could have walked away while he still did not know how much radiation he would be exposed to. Instead, he chose to listen to his heart.

“I knew my skills were about to be put to the test,” he said. “I was glad my know-how could be of help in such a situation. When your country is as likely to stay afloat as it is to sink, you can’t quit just because you’re scared or because radiation levels are high.”

At that point, he still hadn’t been able to contact his wife and children. Nonetheless, as an engineer, he decided to throw himself into the task and went to work near the reactor building.

An Unsung Achievement

The truck-mounted generator, however, was still a long way away from being able to approach the reactor building. The road had yet to be repaired in order to make that possible. Fissures in the road caused height differences as much as a meter high. Tochimoto’s team studied the situation and considered what to do.

A proposal was made to bring in gravel from a nearby quarry to fill in the gaps, but was abandoned because it would have taken too long. Tochimoto thought that, as long as vehicles could pass, anything would do.

When he tried to turn the key to his company’s excavator, the engine came to life. Using the tip of the excavator’s bucket, he began to strip the asphalt coating in the parts of the road where the gaps were. He then proceeded to remove the gravel from under the paved surface and to press the surface down so as to create a gently sloping incline, at which point it looked as if a car might just be able to go through.

Removal of rubble by heavy machinery (Photo: TEPCO)

“While I was trying to open a road with the excavator, most of the people were actually watching me,” he said.

It seems that it was only thanks to Tochimoto and his excavator that the road was fixed. In just three hours, working by himself, he managed to repair the road inside the nuclear power plant so that vehicles could reach the reactor building.

Had Tochimoto not been there, it wouldn’t have been possible for the truck-mounted generator to approach the building to restore power, nor for fire engines to reach the same building and try to cool down the reactor.

To this day, most people are unaware of his achievement.

Because the road was fixed quickly, vehicles were able to reach the area around the reactor building by midnight. In the following hours, Tochimoto joined forces with workers from other companies to remove the rubble scattered around the reactor building.

A week after the accident, when a Hyper Rescue Team from the Tokyo Fire Department entered the area to cool off the fuel, one of its leaders said: “We were utterly surprised to see how the area surrounding the power plant had been cleared of debris to the point that not a single stone was visible, and our vehicles were able to approach without a hitch.”

Situation of rubble scattered by the explosion (provided by the Ministry of Defense)

The Real Risky Work Begins

Around midnight, a movable generator and a truck loaded with high-voltage cables smashed the nuclear protection gate and headed toward the reactor building.

Directing operations was Umematsu, the veteran engineer. He was hoping that, by connecting the movable generator to the power supply point near the Unit 1 reactor building, power could be restored, and the cooling pumps could start functioning once again.

The power cable was laid out near the reactor building, where radiation levels kept rising. The riskiest part of the work was about to begin.

Unit 2 power supply room (photographed by TEPCO)

Their efforts, however, had to be repeatedly interrupted as magnitude 4 and 5 aftershocks followed one after another. After a tsunami of such enormity, it was only natural that the area would have to be evacuated every time a tremor hit. Umematsu was getting impatient.

“We could have restored the power supply in five or six hours. However, we had to stop working and leave every time an aftershock struck, so things hardly moved at all. We went at it all night long, but most of the time we were sitting on our hands,” he said.

Radiation Levels 30,000 Times Higher Than Normal

A few hours have passed. At a press conference at 3 a.m. on March 12, Yukio Edano, chief cabinet secretary at the time, announced that he instructed workers to open a vent to release the pressure accumulated inside the Unit 1 reactor. Unless internal pressure is lowered in the reactor, he explained, the entire steel pressure vessel enclosing the nuclear fuel will explode. If that were to happen, huge amounts of radioactive material would be scattered across the surrounding area.

However, opening the required valve to ventilate the reactor building was an extremely difficult operation. The power plant operators assembled a “suicide squad” that rushed to where the valve was located, but radiation levels were so high that they had to turn back.

Umematsu wearing a mask and white protective clothes in the bus heading to the site.

Around 6 a.m., just outside the building, Umematsu’s crew began full-scale operations to connect the power cable. Umematsu used a phone to report on progress to the emergency response office. As reception was poor, he kept moving around looking for a place where it would be easier to talk.

Without realizing it, he ended up nearby the exhaust tower through which steam exited the vent. At exactly the same time, efforts to open the valve from the outside finally succeeded.

Steam containing huge amounts of radioactive particles instantly rushed out of the exhaust tower, thoroughly irradiating Umematsu. “When I was near the exhaust tower, the dosimeter, which had been unresponsive for a while, suddenly came back to life with a loud BEEEEP. While cursing my luck, I had no choice but to continue working,” he said.

Japanese law sets maximum exposure levels for the general public at less than 1 millisievert per year (approximately 0.0027 millisieverts per day). Umematsu, on the other hand, was exposed to over 80 millisieverts in just one day.

Just As The Cable Was Connected …

The release vent is believed to have been successfully opened around 2:30 p.m. on March 12. Immediately after, efforts to connect the power cables, which had continued throughout the night, came to a successful completion.

It was now simply a matter of turning on the movable generator to restore power. Umematsu’s crew, in order to exchange places with the group that would operate the movable generator, had to leave the area and temporarily adjourn to the emergency response office in the earthquake-proof building.

“I believe it’s the same in power plants everywhere. Before moving on to the next job, you must let everyone know and get permission. You can’t proceed solely on your own judgment,” he said. “I would always let machine operators know that I finished this task, that I performed that check, and so on, then I would clear things with my superior, and only then would I proceed to the next task.”

Rubble was scattered all over due to the hydrogen explosion (Photo: TEPCO)

It all happened exactly at moment Umematsu and his crew arrived at the emergency response office.

“It wasn’t a ‘whump,’ or a ‘thud,’ it was more like a popping sound,” he said.

At 3:36 p.m. on March 12, a hydrogen explosion shook the Unit 1 reactor.

For an unknown reason, the hydrogen that had filled the reactor building suddenly caught on fire and exploded. Concrete chunks from the gutted building flew across the entire area of the nuclear reactor at tremendous speeds.

“Find an empty car!”

Umematsu was shouting at the nearby workers at the top of his lungs. Radioactive rubble and insulation material was falling from the sky. He sensed that he would be exposed to considerable amounts of radiation just by touching it.

Fukushima Central Television

A fire engine happened to be parked nearby. The workers squeezed into the front and back seats one after another. Over 10 people crammed into a space normally meant for six. They kept the door closed for about 10 minutes. Holding their breath, they waited for the pollutants to pass by.

“‘There’s no going back now. The unthinkable has happened,’ I thought to myself. At that point I felt courage sweep over me. If you are on the scene of a Chernobyl-like disaster, it makes no difference anymore whether you’re inside or outside the reactor,” Umematsu said.

The hydrogen explosion shredded the power cables.

The surrounding area was once again littered with rubble. The repair work being carried out at reactors 2 and 3 had to start anew, which led to the following crisis.

The hydrogen explosion in the Unit 1 reactor could have been averted if only power could have been immediately supplied through the cable Umematsu’s crew had connected … The future could have been different. The expression on Umematsu’s face as his thoughts wandered back to those days, betrayed a deep anguish.

“Back then, if someone could have been with me at the site to issue instructions, if someone had said to me, ‘Leave things with me here and get ready to run power through the cables the instant they are connected,’ we could have done it,” he said.

Satoru Umematsu. Fukushima Central Television

“I immensely regret that we all went up to the office, even though the cables had been connected and we were ready to go. Looking back now, I feel we may have been too complacent,” he said.

Umematsu continued to work to connect the power supply into the following day, but from March 14, his radiation exposure had been so high that he was no longer allowed to work on-site. On the 15th, he had to evacuate the area and move outside of the nuclear power plant site.

It was then that, for the first time since the earthquake, he was finally able to talk on the phone to his eldest son.

Umematsu said: “We’re really in a dire situation, but we’re not panicking yet, so don’t worry!”

One week later, Umematsu returned to the Daiichi power plant.

TEPCO Fukushima Central Television

While he was not allowed to work on-site, he could still help out by preparing food and drinks for those working on-site in a contaminated environment.
“If it hadn’t been for them, the emergency wouldn’t be over, you know.”

Stronger Than Fear, An Obligation To Help

At the time of the Unit 1 reactor explosion, Tochimoto, who had been working on repairing the road and removing rubble, was taking a break in the earthquake-proof building.

“‘What the hell is this!’ I thought. It came as a huge shock,” he said.

He waited for a few minutes and when he went outside, concrete and heat-insulating materials were scattered everywhere. Realizing that unless the area was again cleared of debris, vehicles wouldn’t be able to pass, he resumed working next to the reactor building.

“There was definitely radioactivity in the air, but I hadn’t been given a dosimeter so I had no way to tell,” he said.

Fukushima Central Television/Provided by: Ministry of Defense

Around him, some workers were scared of going to the work area, fearing that another explosion might follow. After all, who wouldn’t be afraid of working at a site rife with radiation as chunks of concrete rained down?

As for Tochimoto, however, another thought had begun to take hold in him. “Stronger than fear was the awareness that I had to do something about it. I felt I had to do everything in my power to help with the situation, even more so since I was a local,” he said.

Tochimoto was born and raised in Fukushima’s Futaba district, where the Daiichi power plant is located. Up until the time the nuclear power plant was built, the area was jokingly referred to as “the Fukushima boondocks,” because of how poor it was.

During the off-season for farmers, Tochimoto’s father would go look for work in big cities like Tokyo. In order to make ends meet and put food on the table, that’s what a lot of families had to do. As his father would only come home once a month, and sometimes not even then, Tochimoto says they never really had time together as a family.

After years of working hard away from home, his father learned how to operate a dump truck and eventually established the family’s heavy machinery company.

Fukushima Central Television

In the following years, the building of the nuclear power plant brought jobs and employment to the area, and the Tochimotos had a family life for the first time. They lived a quiet life, and the sight of his father playing with his grandchildren brought a smile to Tochimoto’s face.

“After things calmed down, my dad used to play a lot with his grandchildren. He would give them rides on his machines and play in many different ways with them. They were so cute,” he said.

The daily lives of local families, the foundation for which had been laid by his father’s generation, had prospered and continued to this day. Tochimoto recounted that while he faced extreme danger at the plant, as a local man, these memories were very strong in his mind.

To Leave Or To Go Back To The Nuclear Power Plant?

Tochimoto was once again opening a road through the rubble so vehicles could pass through. Unaware of how radioactive the scattered debris really was, he worked in close proximity to them, removing them one by one with the excavator.

At some point, the power plant’s female employees tried to evacuate from the area by minibus.

“They were already in the bus, but they couldn’t find a driver. When they asked if anybody could drive them, everyone fell quiet. Knowing that someone had to volunteer, I told them I’d do it. I felt I had to help in any way I could,” he said.

Fukushima Central Television/TEPCO

Driving the evacuation bus meant he would have to drive it back to the nuclear power plant so that more people could be evacuated again. Those being evacuated, on the other hand, would not return to the plant. He got at the wheel of the bus carrying the evacuees and headed to a junior high school outside the nuclear power plant premises. The thought of joining the evacuees himself crossed Tochimoto’s mind.

But eventually he made his way back to the nuclear power plant.

“A part of me didn’t want to go back, but there were still people working at the nuclear power plant. I headed back to the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant while thinking all the time I really should be heading home,” he said.

A ‘Local Guy’ Fighting Alongside Special Forces

After returning to the nuclear power plant, Tochimoto, in addition to removing rubble, also took part in efforts to secure water to cool the reactor. They would go around the site in search of water accumulated in the facilities and transport it to the fire engine.

The system for directly cooling down the reactor was out of order at the time. They were therefore trying to cool it by connecting the fire hoses to pipes that would directly inject water into the reactor.

Fukushima Central Television/Ministry of Defense

On March 14, the Ground Self-Defense Forces arrived at the site where Tochimoto was working. It was the Central Nuclear Biological Chemical Weapon Defense Unit, which was qualified to deal with chemical weapons, including radioactive materials.

After filling the water truck of the Self-Defense Forces with water from the pressure filter tank near the reactor building, six people, including Colonel Shinji Iwakuma, who led the unit, headed to the Unit 3 Reactor. Tochimoto and his crew were also busy pouring water from the same tank into a sprinkler truck.

“I heard a ‘BOOM!’ I looked up and I saw what resembled a mushroom cloud,” he said.

At 11:01 a.m. on March 14, a hydrogen explosion occurred in the Unit 3 reactor.

Once again, countless chunks of concrete fell down from the sky. The members of the Self-Defense Forces were directly below. Four out of six were seriously injured. One of them was bleeding and had to be urgently transported to a specialized medical center by helicopter due to the risk of internal radiation exposure. Tochimoto immediately jumped into a car and left the scene

Around the reactor building after the hydrogen explosion.
Fukushima Central Television/TEPCO

Tochimoto’s crew, in spite of witnessing two hydrogen explosions, resumed their work of removing the scattered rubble shortly after.

“I was told they were having problems at the power plant, so I was asked to help out. I couldn’t just say no. I thought I had no choice but work together with them. We had to assume we could turn things around,” he said.

Radiation levels within the nuclear power plant suddenly soared, and on the night of the 14th, Tochimoto too was finally ordered to evacuate. “Take it from here,” he said to the power plant staff, handing them the excavator’s key.

In spite of never having been closely associated with the nuclear power plant, he fought at the risk of his life until the very the last minute.

Like Umematsu, Tochimoto would later return to the Daiichi power plant. During the two weeks he was away, he learned how to remotely operate a concrete pump for injecting water into the reactor’s spent fuel pool and remained at the forefront of the efforts to resolve the emergency.

Eleven Years Later, ‘One Step At A Time, I Think Progress Is Being Made’

Following the successive meltdowns and hydrogen explosions, during a brief period of comparative calm, a system for cooling the reactor and the nuclear power plant began to be put in place. While Umematsu and Tochimoto were away, the Self-Defense Forces, the National Police Agency, the Tokyo Fire Department and the power plant’s own response team entered the site and began to work to restore power.

Thanks to them, it was finally possible to bring the overheating nuclear power plant to a halt at the last minute.

The worst-case scenario envisioned by the Japanese government, in which half of Japan would be destroyed and Tokyo itself would become uninhabitable, was thus averted by efforts on all sides.

The power plan at the center of this disaster continues to pose great risks. The nuclear fuel debris resulting from the meltdowns remains underground inside the plant. It is estimated to total about 880 tons and it continues to emit lethal doses of radiation, making it impossible for workers to approach it.

The Japanese government has joined forces with the power plant and Japanese companies like Toshiba, Hitachi and many others to tackle the removal of the debris, a difficult project and the world’s first of this kind. The only way to remove the debris is by remotely operated robots.

Eleven years after the accident, veteran engineer Umematsu returned to the site for an inspection.

He wanted to see once again the scene of the nuclear accident that had shattered Japan’s pride in the technological capabilities that had supported its postwar reconstruction, and which may still yield the opportunity for regaining that pride.

Robots small enough to navigate even the narrowest spaces inside this highly radioactive area were removing the rubble from inside the nuclear power plant piece by piece, while sending back images. All the workers operating the robots were young and are allowed to work only after months of training and simulations.

“Even a single piece of rubble is highly radioactive and dangerous. Even the smallest mistake can cause a huge accident, so we cannot afford to make any mistakes,” an engineer said.

Umematsu stared in silence at the young engineer who had said these words. And standing, for the first time since that day, at the site where he had supervised efforts to restore power, he said: “I really think we gave our very best at that time, and yet we didn’t succeed. Power was not restored. But I don’t think it was all in vain.”

“Oftentimes you must suffer multiple failures in order to attain a single result,” he added. “That’s how you move forward. From the perspective of removing the nuclear debris, I think advances are almost insignificant. And yet, one step at a time, I think progress is being made.”

Even though 11 years have passed since the accident, the removal of fuel debris has yet to start. Nonetheless, Umematsu thinks that “nothing is ever in vain.” And the simple fact that he can say these words is proof that the biggest problems have been overcome.

https://www.huffpost.com/entry/fukushima-daiichi-nuclear-disaster-workers_n_62261510e4b012a2628e2128

March 14, 2022 Posted by | Fuk 2022 | , , , | Leave a comment

11 years later, Fukushima still faces a long road to full recovery

Workers remove debris at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant’s No. 1 reactor building.

March 11, 2022

Eleven years after a broad swath of the northeastern Tohoku region was devastated by the Great East Japan Earthquake and tsunami, the government is stressing the progress made in the recovery and reconstruction of disaster-hit areas.

It points out, for example, that its plan to relocate 18,000 houses to areas of high ground for residential land development has been achieved. It also says 98 percent of the local seafood processing facilities have resumed operations in an encouraging sign of recovery of one of the mainstay industries in the region.

But the actual picture is less sunny with the process of recovery and reconstruction only halfway through for most local industries and people’s livelihoods. Local fish hauls are still around 70-80 percent of the pre-disaster levels in Miyagi and Iwate prefectures.

A survey by the Tohoku Bureau of Economy, Trade and Industry found that about 45 percent of affected companies have yet to return to the staffing levels before that day 11 years ago.

DISTRUST OVER FUKUSHIMA CONTAMINATED WATER 

In particular, Fukushima Prefecture, where the catastrophic accident broke out at Tokyo Electric Power Co.’s Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant, is struggling to recover what it lost in the disaster.

Coastal fishing catches last year were only 20 percent of pre-disaster figures. Fukushima’s hardships will be further compounded by the scheduled start in spring next year of TEPCO’s plans to release treated radioactive water from the crippled nuclear plant into the Pacific Ocean.

Underground water that keeps flowing into the melted reactors is generating a steadily increasing volume of “treated water,” or water currently stored in tanks installed within the compound after being treated with special equipment to eliminate most of the highly radioactive materials.

The government emphasizes that it decided to discharge the water into the sea after explaining meticulously to local communities that scientifically the water poses no health hazard. But the fisheries associations in both Miyagi and Ibaraki prefectures as well as in Fukushima have voiced opposition to the step.

“The decision was made in Tokyo and has been imposed on us,” fumes Ayanori Sato, 31, a Sakhalin surf clam fisherman in the Yotsukura district of Iwaki, a city in Fukushima Prefecture.

In Yotsukura, local fishermen restarted Sakhalin surf clam fishing three years after the nuclear disaster. Since four years ago, the district has been holding Sakhalin surf clam festivals once or twice a month as part of its efforts to dispel unfounded negative rumors about the safety of locally caught clams.

The government and TEPCO have pledged to provide proper compensation if the release of treated water breeds rumors that damage local industries. 

A recent Supreme Court ruling on a damages lawsuit filed by people forced to evacuate from their homes due to the Fukushima disaster has increased the distrust of the government and the utility among victims.

The ruling confirmed that the compensation standards set by the government’s interim guidelines are not sufficient. For Sato, who thinks of fishing as his lifelong job, money is not enough to compensate for what he has lost.

The release of treated water is expected to continue for 30 years or so. The government and TEPCO should establish a system to monitor the effects on the environment and locally caught seafood during the period.

There can be no real progress on this matter unless the government and the utility actively disclose information to win the understanding of local communities.

NO PROSPECT FOR MANY EVACUEES TO RETURN HOME 

In Fukushima Prefecture, there remains some 340 square kilometers of land where the evacuation order is still in place, areas near the crippled plant with high levels of radiation, known as “kitaku konnan kuiki” (difficult-to-return zone).

The order is set to be lifted this spring in certain parts of the zone designated as reconstruction priority areas eligible for preferential policy support to help improve the living environment, such as intensive decontamination and infrastructure development efforts.

In the town of Futaba, home to the stricken plant and the only municipality in the prefecture that is still covered entirely by the evacuation order, local residents will be allowed to return home for the first time since the accident, possibly in June.

On March 4, a group of 12 workers, including TEPCO group company employees, were carrying 20 tatami mats, chests of drawers and other items placed on them out of the house of Kiyotaka Iwamoto, 74, located close to Futaba Station.

Although the household goods seemed to be still usable, they had to be replaced to lower the radiation levels in the room. 

Iwamoto is hoping that the work to repair his home will be completed by summer. But he is expecting to have to shuttle between his home in Futaba and his evacuation site in the city of Nasushiobara in Tochigi Prefecture for the time being.

By the end of February, some 20 local households applied for permission to stay in special facilities within the town to prepare for returning to their homes.

There is no family preparing to return near Iwamoto’s home. He is also concerned about the fact that there is no facility within the town that offers rehabilitation programs for his 71-year-old wife, who suffered a subarachnoid hemorrhage after the disaster.

These reconstruction priority areas constitute only 8 percent of the difficult-to-return zone. The government has repeatedly said it will decontaminate the land and houses of local residents who want to return to their homes so that the order can be lifted for the entire zone by the end of the 2020s. But it has yet to offer any specific plan to achieve this goal, keeping the outlook uncertain.

Despite all these problems plaguing affected areas, the government has tried to paint a rosy picture of Fukushima’s future in its “Fukushima Innovation Coast Framework,” a policy initiative to nurture new high-tech industries in such areas as robotics and hydrogen energy.

Goals are important for efforts to rebuild disaster-hit areas. But promoting such an unrealistic dream does not lead to any progress in key goals. The first step in rebuilding ravaged communities in Fukushima should be mapping out down-to-earth visions for the future of the communities based on tough-minded assessments of the reality of Fukushima.

DEVELOP CONVINCING PLANS TO DECOMMISSION THE REACTORS 

At the end of January, a robot arm designed to remove melted nuclear fuel debris at the bottoms of ruined reactors at the plant arrived in Fukushima. A trial run of the machine has started for use at the No. 2 reactor.

This is, however, only a small step in the long and complicated clean-up process. There are an estimated 880 tons of radioactive debris at the bottoms of the Nos. 1-3 reactors. Nobody knows, however, how the debris is scattered about and in what form.

The government has already dropped the goal of removing the debris in 20-25 years, included in the road map for decommissioning the reactors published in December 2011. But the goal of completing the decommissioning process in 30-40 years has been kept unchanged.

One big challenge is finding a location for the final disposal of contaminated soil and waste temporarily stored in Futaba and Okuma, where the plant is located. The completion of the work to deal with the consequences of the accident, which is far more difficult than the ordinary decommissioning process and requires different approaches, is vital for progress in the reconstruction of ravaged communities.

But the government has not offered any clear image of this future nor any reliable estimate of the total cost. While the government has estimated the total cost at 22 trillion yen ($189.15 billion), including the compensation to be paid to victims, one research institute has pegged it at 35 trillion to 80 trillion yen.

The government needs to lay out clear and concrete visions for the ultimate state of the Fukushima No. 1 plant and the process of achieving that state while subjecting the visions to Diet scrutiny. Without such visions, it will remain difficult to clear up the dark cloud of uncertainty hanging over Fukushima’s future.

It is, of course, impossible to find a quick solution to the challenge. The long road to Fukushima reconstruction is strewn with obstacles that have to be overcome one by one.

https://www.asahi.com/ajw/articles/14569666

March 13, 2022 Posted by | Fuk 2022 | , , | Leave a comment

11 years on, Fukushima radioactive waste still tough challenge for Japan

TOKYO, March 11 (Xinhua) — Eleven years after the quake-induced Fukushima disaster, the aftermath of the nuclear meltdown, not least a large amount of contaminated water, remains a grave challenge for Japan as well as for the rest of the world.

On March 11, 2011, a magnitude-9.0 earthquake struck off the coast of Fukushima Prefecture in Japan. An earthquake-triggered tsunami engulfed the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant, causing core meltdowns in units one to three and leading to the worst nuclear crisis since Chernobyl.

Little progress has been made over the past year on the most pivotal and hardest work of decommissioning the Fukushima Daiichi power plant — how to remove the nuclear residue from the meltdown. Japan’s International Research Institute for Nuclear Decommissioning estimated that the total weight of nuclear waste mix from melted fuel rods and other materials in pressure vessels that melted during the accident could be 880 tons.

Since the end of 2011, No. 1 to No. 3 units have been in a stable state of low temperature cooling, but the internal radiation is still very high, making it difficult for personnel to work in close proximity. Relevant work has to rely on remote tools such as remotely controlled robots and mechanical arms, but not a single piece of nuclear residue has been removed so far. The Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO) said it plans to first try to remove the nuclear residue from unit 2 this year.

Hiroaki Koide, a retired researcher at Kyoto University, said the Japanese government and TEPCO’s 30-40 year “roadmap” for decommissioning the reactors was an “illusion” that could not be achieved because it would be “impossible even in 100 years” to remove the large amount of scattered nuclear debris, which would have to be sealed in a “sarcophagus.”

In April last year, the Japanese government officially decided to discharge the nuclear contaminated water into the sea starting in the spring of 2023. The contaminated water at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant contains radioactive cesium, strontium, tritium and other radioactive substances.

The Japanese government and TEPCO said the Advanced Liquid Processing System (ALPS), a multi-nuclide removal system, can remove 62 radioactive substances except tritium, which is difficult to remove from water.

Japanese fishing groups strongly oppose the plan to discharge contaminated water into the sea. Opposition parties, including the Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan, also criticized the Japanese government’s plan and demanded its withdrawal.

About 60 percent of the 42 mayors in the disaster-stricken Fukushima, Miyagi and Iwate prefectures opposed the decision. The Japan Federation of Bar Associations submitted a statement opposing the plan to Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida and others, urging the government to consider other measures, such as mixing contaminated water with cement and sand.

At the invitation of Japan, an investigation team of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) visited Japan on Feb. 14-18 to complete its first field investigation.

Lydie Evrard, deputy director general of the IAEA, said Japan had studied several options for treating the contaminated water, but ultimately chose the option of discharging it into the sea, and the Japanese government invited the IAEA to conduct a safety review, hoping that the agency would give basic policy support to the treatment plan. What she pointed out was that it was up to the host country to decide how to deal with the contaminated water, and that the agency provides only technical assessments, not options.

China is seriously concerned about and firmly opposes Japan’s unilateral decision to discharge the nuclear-contaminated water into the sea and its proceeding with the preparatory work, Chinese Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Zhao Lijian has said.

He stressed that the handling of the nuclear-contaminated water from Fukushima is never Japan’s private matter. Instead, it bears on the marine environment and public health of the whole world.

Japan should heed and respond to the appeals of neighboring countries and the international community, and rescind the wrong decision of dumping the water into the sea. “It mustn’t wantonly start the ocean discharge before reaching consensus with stakeholders and relevant international institutions through full consultations,” Zhao said.

http://www.xinhuanet.com/english/asiapacific/20220312/cb7ee148bd8c4a9cb4f21a16f43d57fc/c.html

March 13, 2022 Posted by | Fuk 2022 | , , , | Leave a comment

11 years later, fate of Fukushima reactor cleanup uncertain

One of the Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings (TEPCO) employees holds a radiation counter as they take AP journalists to the area under the Unit 5 reactor pressure vessel, which survived the earthquake-triggered tsunami in 2011, at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, run by TEPCO, in Futaba town, northeastern Japan, Thursday, March 3, 2022. The government has set a decommissioning roadmap aiming for completion in 29 years.

By Mari Yamaguchi, March 11, 2022

OKUMA, Japan — Eleven years after the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant was ravaged by a meltdown following a massive earthquake and tsunami, the plant now looks like a sprawling construction site. Most of the radioactive debris blasted by the hydrogen explosions has been cleared and the torn buildings have been fixed.

During a recent visit by journalists from The Associated Press to see firsthand the cleanup of one of the world’s worst nuclear meltdowns, helmeted men wore regular work clothes and surgical masks, instead of previously required hazmat coveralls and full-face masks, as they dug near a recently reinforced oceanside seawall.

Workers were preparing for the planned construction of an Olympic pool-sized shaft for use in a highly controversial plan set to begin in the spring of 2023 to gradually get rid of treated radioactive water — now exceeding 1.3 million tons stored in 1,000 tanks — so officials can make room for other facilities needed for the plant’s decommissioning.

Despite the progress, massive amounts of radioactive melted fuel remain inside of the reactors. There’s worry about the fuel because so much about its condition is still unknown, even to officials in charge of the cleanup.

Nearly 900 tons of melted nuclear fuel remain inside the three damaged reactors, and its removal is an unprecedented challenge involving 10 times the amount of damaged fuel removed in the Three Mile Island cleanup following its 1979 partial core melt.

The government has set a decommissioning roadmap aiming for completion in 29 years.

The challenge of removing melted fuel from the reactors is so daunting that some experts now say that setting a completion target is impossible, especially as officials still don’t have any idea about where to store the waste.

Nuclear Regulation Authority Chairman Toyoshi Fuketa said recently that extra time would be needed to determine where and how the highly radioactive waste removed from the reactors should be stored.

Japan has no final storage plans even for the highly radioactive waste that comes out of normal reactors. Twenty-four of the country’s 60 reactors are designated for decommissioning, mostly because of the high cost needed to meet safety standards set up in the wake of the Fukushima disaster.

On March 11, 2011, a magnitude 9.0 earthquake caused a tsunami 17 meters (56 feet) high that slammed into the coastal plant, destroying its power supply and cooling systems, causing reactors No. 1, 2 and 3 to melt and spewing massive amounts of radiation. Three other reactors were offline and survived, though a fourth building suffered hydrogen explosions.

The spreading radiation caused some 160,000 residents to evacuate. Parts of the surrounding neighborhood are still uninhabitable.

The melted cores in Units 1, 2 and 3 largely fell to the bottom of their primary containment vessels, together with control rods and other equipment, some possibly penetrating or mixing with the concrete foundation, making the cleanup extremely difficult.

Probes of the melted fuel must rely on remote-controlled robots carrying equipment such as cameras and dosimeters — which measure radiation — because radiation levels in those areas are still fatally high for humans.

In February, a remote-operated submersible robot entered the Unit 1 primary containment vessel, its first internal probe since a failed 2017 attempt. It captured limited images of what are believed to be mounds of melted fuel rising from the concrete floor.

Probes have moved ahead at Unit 2, where TEPCO plans to send in an extendable robotic arm later this year to collect melted fuel samples.

TEPCO Chief Decommissioning Officer Akira Ono said in a recent online interview that robotic probes at Unit 1 and 2 this year are a major “step forward” in the decades-long cleanup.

“It’s like we have finally come to the starting line,” Ono said. “Before, we didn’t even know which way we were supposed to go.”

Ono said the Unit 2 melted fuel test removal will start from a granule or two, all of which will be sent for lab analysis, meaning a storage facility won’t be necessary until larger amounts are hauled out. Even a tiny amount would provide valuable data for research and development of fuel and debris removal technology for all three reactors, he said.

Hideyuki Ban, the co-founder of the Citizens’ Nuclear Information Center who previously served on government nuclear safety panels, proposes the underground burial of solidified treated water for stable long-term storage, while entombing the three reactors for several decades — like Chernobyl — and waiting for radioactivity to decrease for better safety and access for workers instead of rushing the cleanup.

Since the disaster, contaminated cooling water has constantly escaped from the damaged primary containment vessels into the reactor building basements, where it mixes with groundwater and rainwater that seep in.

The water is pumped up and treated, partly recycled as cooling water, with the remainder stored in 1,000 huge tanks crowding the plant. The tanks will be full at 1.37 million tons by next spring, TEPCO says.

The government has announced plans to release the water after treatment and dilution to well below the legally releasable levels through a planned undersea tunnel at a site about 1 kilometer offshore. The plan has faced fierce opposition from local residents, especially fishermen concerned about further damage to the area’s reputation.

TEPCO and government officials say tritium, which is not harmful in small amounts, is inseparable from the water, but all other 63 radioactive isotopes selected for treatment ‘can be reduced to safe levels’, tested and further diluted by seawater before release.

Scientists say the health impact from consuming tritium through the food chain could be greater than drinking it in water, and further studies are needed.

At one of the water treatment facilities where radiation levels are much higher, a team of workers in full protective gear handled a container filled with highly radioactive slurry. It had been filtered from the contaminated water that’s been continuously leaking from the damaged reactors and pumped up from their basements since the disaster. Large amounts of slurry and solid radioactive waste also accumulate in the plant.

Radiation levels have fallen significantly after decontamination since the disaster, and full protection gear is only needed in limited areas, including in and around the reactor buildings.

On a recent visit, AP journalists used cotton gloves, goggles, a head cover and surgical masks to tour low-radiation areas.

Additional protection, including hazmat coveralls and double rubber gloves, was required when the journalists entered the Unit 5 primary containment vessel and stood on the grating of the pedestal, a structure beneath the defueled core, where officials explained the concept of using robotic probes in No. 1 and 2 reactors.

TEPCO has emptied spent fuel from the No. 3 and No. 4 reactor pools, but removal at the No. 1 and 2 reactors has been delayed several years because of high radiation and contaminated debris, posing concerns of a spent fuel meltdown in case another major quake caused water loss and overheating.

Futaba Mayor Shiro Izawa says the Fukushima Daiichi plant must be safely and fully decommissioned “to make our hometown a safe and livable place again.” Izawa said he wants the government to “wipe out the (region’s) negative image” by tackling the safe cleanup, which is a prerequisite for the town’s reconstruction.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/business/11-years-later-fate-of-fukushima-reactor-cleanup-uncertain/2022/03/11/91c5f4c6-a0fe-11ec-9438-255709b6cddc_story.html

March 13, 2022 Posted by | Fuk 2022 | , , | Leave a comment

A message to all people in the world concerned about the fate of the people of Fukushima

Never in my life has a year seemed so severe as the one that followed, in 2021, the tenth anniversary of the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear accident: I had the constant sensation of being bitten by the icy cold of an ever-lasting winter. I must start by saying that last year I lost five very close friends one after the other. All of them lived in Fukushima and were in their fifties at the time of the accident. I can’t prove that their deaths are related to the nuclear accident, but I can’t help but thinking that they were. And many people around me share the same doubts.

Since last year, the Japanese government, the Fukushima Prefecture and the media have decided to more radically pursue their course. It’s no longer a question of dealing with the dramatic reality caused by the ongoing nuclear accident, but of preaching for the “reconstruction” of the Prefecture and acting only for its implementation. Despite the spread of Covid-19, the Tokyo Olympic Games was imposed in an incredibly authoritarian way. The Torch relay started from Fukushima, more precisely J-Village Stadium, a sports complex which was an important base for the workers in the aftermath of the nuclear accidents. In addition, in April 2021, the government endorsed a plan to discharge into the sea huge quantities of radioactive water accumulated at the Fukushima Dai-ichi plant site, despite the many voices in Japan itself, but also in other countries, which strongly protested this decision.

Yet, the most serious issue for me is the problems faced by the younger generation. The government, in order to replace the numerous evacuees who refuse to return to their commune of origin, allocated in 2021 a budget of 1.8 billion yen (13.9 million euros) to persuade newcomers to settle in the 12 municipalities formerly designated as mandatory evacuation zones after the accident. In concrete terms, a premium of 2 million yen (€ 15,500) will be granted to each household having recently moved into these 12 municipalities. In addition, at four kilometers from the crippled nuclear site, on the lawn of the Great East Japan Earthquake and Nuclear Disaster Memorial Museum, a local tourism company organizes various activities to attract high school and university students as well as young working adults: meals, stargazing nights, yoga classes etc. Finally, at an increasing pace, “discussion meetings” for young people are organized by the Ministry of the Environment and other organizations, on topics such as the release of radioactive water into the sea or the reuse of contaminated soil. All these appear to me as a staging to manipulate the minds of the young people. As for the “Supplementary reader on radiation”, distributed from 2011, after the accident, to all primary and junior high schools in Japan by the Ministry of Education, its latest version considerably reduces the paragraphs devoted to the dangers of radioactivity and the question of responsibilities of the nuclear accident. On the other hand, there are some pages in the appendix that praise the harmlessness of the radio-contaminated water accumulated at the Fukushima Dai-ichi Nuclear Power Plant.

On January 27 this year, six young people who were between 6 and 16 years old at the time of the accident, and who have been suffering from thyroid cancer, filed a lawsuit against TEPCO, the operator of Fukushima Dai-ichi. They demand that the causal link between the nuclear accident and the triggering of their thyroid cancer be investigated. Indeed, the Prefectural Oversight Committee for Fukushima Health Management Survey in charge of evaluating the prefectural health survey still refuses to recognize any cause-and-effect relationship between these two factors. The young plaintiffs hope that this causality, if recognized at the end of the trial, will lead to the establishment of a system of aid for all other post-accident thyroid cancer patients, who are experiencing the same suffering as they are. This would cast a small glimmer of hope on their future. The consequences of the accident are made less and less visible. At the same time, the “reconstruction” of Fukushima (repopulating the evacuation areas, creating high-tech industrial zones, managing experimental agricultural sites to grow edible crops, etc.) is pushed forward at all costs. In this context, it must have taken extraordinary courage for these young people to file such a lawsuit. I call on all adults to support them in every way possible.

As a Fukushima resident and victim of the nuclear accident, I was deeply shocked by the European Commission’s proposal earlier this year to include nuclear energy in the green taxonomy. Nuclear reactors, no matter how small they become or how peaceful their use is claimed to be, use the same technology developed to create the atomic bomb. And throughout all the stages, nuclear energy production leads to the exposure of workers and local residents to radioactivity. Privilege the conquest of great power without hesitating to sacrifice small people – this is, in my opinion, the state of mind that still governs the nuclear industry today. Moreover, humanity has not totally mastered safety and security in this domain, and is also unable to find a solution to the perennial problem of disposal of the toxic waste. Finally, it is clear that nuclear facilities do great harm to the environment. For all these reasons, we refuse to consider this energy as “green” or “clean”.

On a positive note, a growing number of countries are ratifying the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW). So the time has also come to say farewell to nuclear energy production. 

Despite the troubled times we are going through, and all the difficulties we will still face in the future, let us continue to walk together step by step, supported by the solidarity of our fellow human beings who continue the struggle in the four corners of the world.

March 2022 in Fukushima

Ruiko Muto

Chair of the Complainants for the Criminal Prosecution of the Fukushima Nuclear Disaster

Member of Fukushima Women Against Nuclear Power

http://hidanren.blogspot.com

http://kokuso-fukusimagenpatu.blogspot.com/p/blog-page_5112.html

(Translated from Japanese by Nos Voisins Lointains 3.11)

March 11, 2022 Posted by | Fuk 2022 | , , | Leave a comment

311, 11 Years On – For a Peaceful, Nuclear-Free Society, with the People of the World 

3.11.2022

Eleven years have passed since the Great East Japan Earthquake and the disaster at TEPCO’s Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant.

Nuclear power plants that had been deemed “completely safe” by the government and power companies, exploded one after another. Radioactive materials that were supposedly confined behind “five-layered walls” leaked out into the sea and onto land, causing long-term radioactive contamination.

What must not be forgotten is that society as a whole took the mass production and consumption of electricity for granted, and had subconsciously accepted the propaganda of the government and power companies that justified the use of nuclear power plants. The fact that the electricity generated at the power plant in Fukushima was used, not in Fukushima but in the Tokyo Metropolitan Area, and that many workers were forced to suffer radiation exposure in order to operate the plant, were injustices that had not been recognized by many. This structural injustice continues to this day.

The nuclear disaster was not supposed to happen. Thus, there was no legal system for victim relief and no robust regulation of radioactive materials in the environment. In 2011, when the government set a standard for evacuation that was 20 times higher than the exposure limit applicable to the general public, many people struggled with the question of whether to evacuate, or to remain. Many were forced to evacuate without compensation or support.

The nuclear disaster is not over. At least 30,000 people are still living as evacuees. However, public assistance, including the provision of housing, has already been cut off, leaving behind some evacuees who cannot afford to pay rent.

Even though evacuation orders have been lifted one after another and support for evacuees has been discontinued, many people have not returned to their homes. Younger generations have not returned, and one- or two-person households of elderly people are living scattered in different areas.

Meanwhile, radioactive materials are being spread by human activities once again. The government has decided on a policy of reusing contaminated soil and radioactive waste generated by decontamination, rather than taking the path of safe storage. Furthermore, the dumping of large quantities of treated contaminated water into the ocean is also causing the spread of radioactive materials. Not only does this water contain tritium, but also strontium-90, iodine-129, and other radioactive materials. TEPCO has stated that it will conduct secondary treatment, but information on the amount and type of radioactive materials that will ultimately remain in the water has not been disclosed.

Under the guise of “preventing damaging rumors,” the government continues to spend vast amounts of national taxpayer money on propaganda to convince the public that radioactive materials are not dangerous. However, the spread of radioactive materials is substantial “damage.” The term “damaging rumor” obscures the responsibility of the actual perpetrators, the government and TEPCO, and makes those who point out the risks of exposure and contamination appear as though they also bear responsibility.

After the disaster, all nuclear power plants owned by TEPCO and Tohoku Electric Power Company were shut down, and a “nuclear power plant free” Eastern Japan has existed for the past 11 years. After the shutdown of Kansai Electric Power’s Oi reactors 3 and 4 in September 2013, nuclear power plants across the country were out of operation for close to two years, resulting in a nationwide nuclear power plant free period. Even after operations were restarted, nuclear power plants were shut down one after another due to delays in the construction of anti-terrorism facilities, court injunctions against operations, and other issues such as cracked pipes. The cost of construction and safety measures for nuclear power plants skyrocketed, and nuclear power plants were no longer a “stable” or “inexpensive” power source.

Russia’s military invasion of Ukraine has resulted in many casualties. One after another, Russian troops are attacking and taking control of nuclear power plants in Ukraine. Needless to say, war is the greatest form of environmental destruction and violation of human rights and totally unacceptable. In addition, attacks on nuclear power plants lead to the spread of radioactive materials, endangering the lives and health of many people for a long time. The risk of nuclear power plants becoming targets of attacks was indicated in the past, and unfortunately this nightmare has now become a reality.

We stand with the victims, and in solidarity with people around the world who wish for peace, and we have renewed our determination to move forward to realize a peaceful, nuclear-free world.

https://foejapan.org/en/issue/20220311/6962/?fbclid=IwAR3HCl7vH3wfEhPM7nltJ3W0MCQgfRzz6ZnUMWME_gzr6QeLTr1MltVtRvE

March 11, 2022 Posted by | Fuk 2022 | , | Leave a comment

REMEMBER FUKUSHIMA

“We must never forget this catastrophe …We must continue to counter the efforts of the Japanese Government, TEPCO, academics and official bodies to minimise its effects and to ignore the past.” Caroline Lucas MP re Fukushima, 19 March 2019

version-2-2.jpgL to R: Asami Yokota, Fukushima resident mother; Kaori (interpreting); Akiko Morimatsu, Fukushima evacuee mother; Caroline Lucas MP, Green Party, Host and Chair; Dr Ian Fairlie, independant consultant on radioactivity in the environment.

Caroline Lucas MP, host and chair of the Remember Fukushima Parliamentary public meeting on 19 March 2019, opened the meeting with the following speech:

“Eight years ago on March 11 2011, the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster was triggered in Fukushima Prefecture about 150 miles north of Tokyo. Over the ensuing weeks, four explosions and three nuclear meltdowns occurred, over 160,000 people were evacuated and radioactive emissions were scattered over large tracts of Japan.

In 2012, an Investigative Panel of theJapanese National Diet (ie Parliament) concluded that the Fukushima disaster was “… profoundly man-made and was caused by a disregard of the risks of earthquakes by an industry determined to preserve the illusion that nuclear power was absolutely safe.” The Panel attributed the accident to the “collusion” of government, regulator and industry to gamble the public’s well-being on lowering the high cost of safety from an inherently dangerous technology.

The disaster continues to this day, and is still causing immense problems.

Unresolved issues include:

  • Many tonnes of melted nuclear fuel remain in an unstable state under reactors 1, 2 and 3
  • An estimated 300 tonnes of contaminated water are dumped daily into the Pacific Ocean. This water is needed to keep cool the melted nuclear fuel which must not be allowed to melt again.
  • Many millions of cubic metres of contaminated soil remain in huge temporary dumps, with no clear idea on where they will be stored in the long-term.
  • According to NHK World Japan, over 50,000 evacuees remain in temporary accommodation. Despite Government pressure to return to so-called ‘cleaned up’ towns, most evacuees are reluctant to do so.

Official TEPCO accounts of the accident and its toll are unreliable. The most comprehensive unofficial account is by the Simply Info Team in the US. Their March 2019 report (33 pages, 9 MB) can be downloaded at http://www.fukuleaks.org/web/wp-content/uploads/2019/03/SimplyInfoOrg_2019_annual_report_Fukushima_finalc.pdf

The toll of Fukushima is fearsome. Over 7% of the land area of Japan was contaminated to a serious level. Official reports state over 3,600 people have died as a result of the nuclear disaster, including over 2,000 during the evacuations necessary to avoid the large radiation exposures. Over 180 additional cases of thyroid cancer have been recorded in children and teenagers so far: more are expected.  From official WHO collective dose estimates, over 5,000 other cancers will also occur. Reports are now trickling out of other health effects, including recent spikesin congenital heart disease in infants.

But these are just the reported health studies. Who is counting the just as serious numbers of suicides, mental health effects, ‘nuclear’ divorces, and families who remain geographically apart? We shall hear shortly first hand testimonies of these effects.

The restoration, clean up, compensation and recovery costs are immense. The Japan Centre for Economic Research calculates these will range from £240 to £560 billion, about four times higher than Japanese Government estimates.

But we shall probably never know the true full costs of Fukushima.

We must never forget this catastrophe. That is why we are meeting here tonight. We must continue to counter the efforts of the Japanese Government, TEPCO, academics and official bodies to minimise its effects and to ignore the past. This, unbelievably, includes holding some events of the 2020 Olympic Games in contaminated parts of Tokyo and Fukushima Prefecture.

I should briefly mention that the legal fight for compensation is a major issue in Japan. Many court cases are being brought by Fukushima evacuees, parents and others and are now reaching an important stage. Two major class actions are the “Children’s Rights Trial”, which demands that local governments recognize the right of primary and secondary school students of Fukushima Prefecture to enjoy education in a healthy environment. Second the “Parent+Child Trial” which seeks compensation from the Fukushima prefectural and Japanese central governments.

This meeting is about Fukushima, but I wish briefly to refer to the UK situation as it has Japanese parallels. Here, two Japanese multinationals, Toshiba and Hitachi, recently indicated that they no longer wish to proceed with their proposed nuclear reactors in Cumbria and in Wales.  (A third, Mitsubishi, withdrew from its proposed reactors in Turkey 6 months ago.) They are all withdrawing from their nuclear businesses even as the Japanese Government and TEPCO are still pushing for the reopening of old reactors closed after the accident. Why are these Japanese nuclear conglomerates pulling out of nuclear?  A major factor has been the increased costs of safety features in new reactors now required after Fukushima.

I should like now to introduce our speakers tonight.

We warmly welcome to Britain three Japanese mothers from Fukushima, Akiko Morimatsu, Asami Yokota and Ms Sonoda who have been travelling throughout Europerecounting how they were affected and continue to be affected by the disaster.

Initially, Dr Ian Fairlie,an independent consultant on radioactivity in the environment and former scientist within DEFRA, our Government’s environment department, will set the scene, and later make some concluding remarks.”

Video of Caroline Lucas delivering the speech

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“We must never forget this catastrophe …We must continue to counter the efforts of the Japanese Government, TEPCO, academics and official bodies to minimise its effects and to ignore the past.” Caroline Lucas MP re Fukushima, 19 March 2019

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

Fukushima: “An Ongoing Global Radiological Catastrophe”. “A Huge Coverup”. Dr. Helen Caldicott

Caldicott

March 21, 2019

Transcript of 8th anniversary interview with Dr. Helen Caldicott

By Dr. Helen Caldicott and Michael Welch

The eight year anniversary of the triple meltdowns at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear facility passed mostly without comment in mainstream media circles. In spite of ongoing radiological contamination that will continue to spread and threaten human health for lifetimes to come, other stories dominate the international news cycle. The climate change conundrum, serious though it may be, seemingly crowds out all other clear and present environmental hazards.

As part of efforts to normalize this historic event and cover it up in its magnitude, the Japanese government has invested considerable financial, public relations and other resources into what they are billing the ‘Recovery Olympics‘ set to take place in a year’s time in Tokyo. 

But Helen Caldicott warns that the dangers associated with Fukushima have not gone away and remain a cause for concern. 

Dr. Helen Caldicott has been an author, physician and one of the world’s leading anti-nuclear campaigners. She helped to reinvigorate the group of Physicians for Social Responsibility, acting as president from 1978 to 1983. Since its founding in 2001 she served as president of the US based Nuclear Policy Research Institute later called Beyond Nuclear which initiates symposia and educational projects aimed at informing the public about the dangers of nuclear power, nuclear weapons, and nuclear war. And she is the editor of the 2014 book, Crisis Without End: The Medical and Ecological Consequences of the Fukushima Nuclear Catastrophe.

On the week marking the eighth anniversary of the Fukushima meltdowns, the Global Research News Hour radio program, hosted by Michael Welch, reached out to Dr. Caldicott to get her expert opinion on the health dangers posed by the most serious nuclear disaster since, at least, the 1986 Chernobyl event.

Global Research: Now the Japanese government is preparing to welcome visitors to Japan for the 2020 Olympic Games, and coverage of the 8th anniversary of the Fukushima disaster is hardly, it seems to me, registered given the significant radiological and other dangers that you cited and your authors cited in your 2014 book, Crisis Without End. Now it’s been more than four years since that book came out. I was hoping you could update our listenership on what is currently being recognized as the main health threats in 2019, perhaps not registered in the book, that you’re currently looking at in relation to the Fukushima meltdown.

Helen Caldicott: Well it’s difficult because the Japanese government has authorized really only examination of thyroid cancer. Now thyroid cancer is caused by radioactive iodine and there were many, many cases of that after Chernobyl. And already, they’ve looked at children under the age of 18 in the Fukushima prefecture at the time of the accident, and … how many children… 100…no 201 by June 18 last year… 201 had developed thyroid cancer. Some cancers had metastasized. The incidence of thyroid cancer in that population normally is 1 per million. So obviously it’s an epidemic of thyroid cancer and it’s just starting now.

What people need to understand is the latent period of carcinogenesis, ie the time after exposure to radiation when cancers develop is any time from 3 years to 80 years. And so it’s a very, very long period. Thyroid cancers appear early. Leukemia appears about 5 to 10 years later. They’re not looking for leukemia. Solid cancers of every organ, or any organ as such appear about 15 years later and continue and in fact the Hibakusha from the Hiroshima and Nagasaki who are still alive are still developing cancers in higher than normal numbers.

The Japanese government has told doctors that they are not to talk to their patients about radiation and illnesses derived thereof, and in fact if the doctors do do that, they might lose their funding from the government. The IAEA, the International Atomic Energy Agency interestingly set up a hospital – a cancer hospital – in Fukushima along with the Fukushima University for people with cancer, which tells you everything.

So there’s a huge, huge cover up. I have been to Japan twice and particularly to Fukushima and spoken to people there and the parents are desperate to hear the truth even if it’s not good truth. And they thanked me for telling them the truth. So it’s an absolute medical catastrophe I would say, and a total cover up to protect the nuclear industry and all its ramifications.

GR: Now, are we talking about some of the, the contamination that happened 8 years ago or are we talking about ongoing emissions from, for example–

HC: Well there are ongoing emissions into the air consistently, number one. Number two, a huge amount of water is being stored –over a million gallons in tanks at the site. That water is being siphoned off from the reactor cores, the damaged melted cores. Water is pumped consistently every day, every hour, to keep the cores cool in case they have another melt. And that water, of course, is extremely contaminated.

Now they say they’ve filtered out the contaminants except for the tritium which is part of the water molecule, but they haven’t. There’s strontium, cesium, and many other elements in that water – it’s highly radioactive – and because there isn’t enough room to build more tanks, they’re talking about emptying all that water into the Pacific Ocean and the fishermen are very, very upset. The fish already being caught off Fukushima, some are obviously contaminated. But this will be a disaster.

Water comes down from the mountains behind the reactors, flows underneath the reactors into the sea and always has. And when the reactors were in good shape, the water was fine, didn’t get contaminated. But now the three molten cores in contact with that water flowing under the reactors and so the water flowing into the Pacific is very radioactive and that’s a separate thing from the million gallons or more in those tanks.

They put up a refrigerated wall of frozen dirt around the reactors to prevent that water from the mountains flowing underneath the reactors, which has cut down the amount of water flowing per day from 500 tons to about a hundred and fifty. But of course, if they lose electricity, that refrigeration system is going to fail, and it’s a transient thing anyway so it’s ridiculous. In terms… So over time the Pacific is going to become more and more radioactive.

They talk about decommissioning and removing those molten cores. When robots go in and try and have a look at them, their wiring just melts and disappears. They’re extraordinarily radioactive. No human can go near them because they would die within 48 hours from the radiation exposure. They will never, and I quote never, decommission those reactors. They will never be able to stop the water coming down from the mountains. And so, the truth be known, it’s an ongoing global radiological catastrophe which no one really is addressing in full.

GR: Do we have a better reading on, for example the thyroids, but also leukemia incubation—

HC: No they’re not looking–well, leukemia they’re not looking for leukemia…

GR: Just thyroid

HC: They’re not charting it. So the only cancer they’re looking at is thyroid cancer and that’s really high, and you know it’s at 201 have already been diagnosed and some have metastasized. And a very tight lid is being kept on any other sort of radiation related illnesses and leukemia and the like. All the other cancers and the like, and leukemia is so… It’s not just a catastrophe it’s a…

GR: …a cover up

HC: Yeah. I can’t really explain how I feel medically about it. It’s just hideous.

GR: Well I have a brother who’s a physician, who was pointing to well we should maybe, the World Health Organization is a fairly authoritative body of research for all of the indicators and epidemiological aspects of this, but you seem to suggest the World Health Organization may not be that reliable in light of the fact that they are partnered with the IAEA. Is that my understanding…?

HC: Correct. They signed a document, I think in ‘59, with the IAEA that they would not report any medical effects of radiological disasters and they’ve stuck to that. So they are in effect in this area part of the International Atomic Energy Agency whose mission is to promote nuclear power. So don’t even think about the WHO. it’s really obscene.

GR: So what would… the incentive would be simply that they got funding?

HC: I don’t know. I really don’t know but they sold themselves to the devil.

GR: That’s pretty incredible. So there’s also the issue of biomagnification in the oceans, where you have radioactive debris, hundreds of tons of this radioactive water getting into the oceans and biomagnifying up through the food chain, so these radioactive particles can get inside our bodies. Could you speak to what you anticipate to see, what you would anticipate, whether it’s recorded by World Health authorities or not, what we could expect to see in the years ahead in terms of the illnesses that manifest themselves?

HC: Well number one, Fukushima is a very agricultural prefecture. Beautiful, beautiful peaches, beautiful food, and lots of rice. And the radiation spread far and wide through the Fukushima prefecture, and indeed they have been plowing up millions and millions of tons of radioactive dirt and storing it in plastic bags all over the prefecture. The mountains are highly radioactive and every time it rains, down comes radiation with the water. So the radiation – the elements. And there are over 200 radioactive elements made in a nuclear reactor. Some have lives of seconds and some have lives of millions of years or lasts for millions of years will I say. So there are many many isotopes, long-lasting isotopes – cesium, strontium, tritium is another one – but many, many on the soil in Fukushima.

And what happens is – you talked about biomagnification – when the plants take up the water from the soil, they take up the cesium which is a potassium analog – it resembles potassium. Strontium 90 resembles calcium and the like. And these elements get magnified by orders of magnitude in the rice and in the plants. And so when you eat food that is grown in Fukushima, the chances are it’s going to be relatively radioactive.

They’ve been diluting radioactive rice with non-radioactive rice to make it seem a bit better. Now, into the ocean go these isotopes as well, and the algae bio-magnify them by – you know -ten to a hundred times or more. And then the crustaceans eat the algae, bio-magnify it more. The little fish eat the crustaceans, the big fish eat the little fish and the like. And tuna found in – off the coast of California some years ago contained isotopes from Fukushima. Also fish, being caught on the west coast of California contained some of these isotopes. So, it’s an ongoing bio-magnification catastrophe.

And the thing is that you can’t even taste, smell or see radioactive elements in your food. They’re invisible. And it takes a long time for cancers to occur. And you can’t identify a particular cancer caused by a particular substance or isotope. You can only identify that problem by doing epidemiological studies comparing irradiated people with non-irradiated people to see what the cancer levels are and that data comes from Hiroshima and Nagasaki and many, many, many other studies.

GR: Chernobyl as well, no?

HC: Oh, Chernobyl! Well, a wonderful book was produced by the, uh, Russians, and published by the New York Academy of Sciences, called Chernobyl with over 5000 on the ground studies of children and diseases in Belarus and the Ukraine, and all over Europe. And by now over a million people have already died from the Chernobyl disaster. And many diseases have been caused by that, including premature aging in children, microcephaly in babies, very small heads, diabetes, leukemia, I mean, I could go on and on.

Um, and those diseases which have been very well described in that wonderful book, um, which everyone should read, are not being addressed or identified or looked for in the Fukushima or Japanese population.

May I say that parts of Tokyo are extremely radioactive. People have been measuring the dirt from rooves of apartments, from the roadway, from vacuum cleaner dust. And some of these samples, they’re so radioactive that they would classify to be buried in radioactive waste facilities in America. So, that’s number one.

Number two, to have the Olympics in Fukushima just defies imagination. And uh, some of the areas where the athletes are going to be running, the dust and dirt there has been measured, and it’s highly radioactive. So, this is Abe, the Prime Minister of Japan, who set this up to – as a sort of way to obscure what Fukushima really means. And those young athletes, you know, who are – and young people are much more sensitive to radiation, developing cancers later than older people – it’s just a catastrophe waiting to happen.

GR: Dr. Caldicott…

HC:They’re calling it the radioactive Olympics!

GR: (Chuckle). Is there anything that people can do, you know, whether they live in Japan or, say, the west coast of North America to mitigate the effects that this disaster has had, and may still be having eight years later?

HC: Yes. Do not eat any Japanese food because you don’t know where it’s sourced. Do not eat fish from Japan, miso, rice, you name it. Do not eat Japanese food. Period. Um, fish caught off the west coast of Canada and America, well, they’re not testing the fish so I don’t know what you’d do. Um, I mean, most of it’s probably not radioactive but you don’t know because you can’t taste it.

Um they’ve closed down the air-borne radioactive measuring instruments off the west coast of America, uh, but that’s pretty bad, because there still could be another huge accident at those reactors.

For instance, if there’s another large earthquake, number one, all those tanks would be destroyed and the water would pour into the Pacific. Number two, there could be another meltdown, a release – huge release of radiation, um, from the damaged reactors. So, things are very tenuous, but they’re not just tenuous now. They’re going to be tenuous forever.

https://www.globalresearch.ca/fukushima-an-ongoing-global-radiological-catastrophe-a-huge-coverup-dr-helen-caldicott/5672265?fbclid=IwAR2yWNJN9-C7iGm08V1F7ZCKg_kVcL-WzPi2ftoMScrLEmSstrMKlV3BNG4

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

Fukushima 8th Anniversary: 2 events in London

52982003_2282772355274491_3766440453189140480_n.jpg
March 22, 2019
Every year since year 2011, I participated in Paris, France, to the events organized for the anniversary of Fukushima nuclear disaster. This year I decided to do it differently and to go to London, England, to participate there to the events organized by the London antinuclear community and the Japanese community.
Four events were scheduled in London this year for the 8th anniversary:
On the evening of March 11th a vigil in front of the London Japanese Embassy, then on March 16th a march from the Japanese Embassy to the British Parliament, then on March 19th a Parliamentary meeting at the House of Commons with three Fukushima mothers, then on March 20th screening of the film « Munen » (Remorse) followed by a debate with the three Fukushima mothers.
As my very tight budget would not allow me to stay in London for 10 days and 10 nights, I could not go there to attend to all those 4 events, so I decided to go for the two last events on the 19th and 20th, which meant staying in London only 2 nights, arriving from Paris in the mid-afternoon of the 19th and leaving very early morning on the 21st. With my shoestring budget I could only afford to stay at the Keystone House Youth Hostel in the Kings Cross district (cheap dormitory bunk) closed to the St Pancras railway station where I was arriving from Paris on the Eurostar train.
After checking in at the Youth hostel, I went by bus to Westminster district, to attend at 7pm to the Parlementary public meeting  – with three Fukushima mothers in the House of commons, hosted by the member of parlement Caroline Lucas MP, Green Party for Brighton.
The speakers were :
The three mothers of Fukushima : Akiko Morimatsu, Asami Yokota, Ms Sonoda, and also Dr Ian Fairlie, a well-know independent consultant on radioactivity in the environment.
The event was co-organised by Kick Nuclear (London): https://kicknuclear.com; Japanese Against Nuclear London: http://www.januk.org; Nos Voisins Lointains 311 (France): https://nosvoisinslointains311.home.blog/agenda/ and CND (Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament): https://cnduk.org

I was very happy to finally be able to meet in person, Doctor Ian Fairlie, the well-known doctor in radiation biology, Lis field, from the Remember Fukushima blog, David Polden from Kick Nuclear and from CND, Shigeo Kobayashi from Jan UK (Japanese against nuclear UK) Kurumi Sugita from Nos Voisins Lointains 311 (France) who accompanied the Fukushima mothers from Grenoble in France to London, Kurumi Sugita has the excellent blog Fukushima 311 Voices, she is also my co-admin on the FB public page Fukushima 311 Voices and on our FB group Rainbow Warriors, I was also very happy to meet and get to know Robin Lawrence and his wife Camelia, as they came to attend this event, Robin is a longtime member of our FB group Rainbow Warriors.

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Akiko Morimatsu at the House of Commons, London
Each Fukushima mother’s testimony was heart touching, each woman a resistant, a hero of her own :
Akiko Morimatsu, Fukushima mother who evacuated to Osaka with her two young children; leading light in the Japanese anti-nuclear movement & campaigning on behalf of the victims of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster: in March 2018 Akiko appeared in front of the UNHRC (United Nations Human Rights Council) to speak on behalf of the victims of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster, key member of Osaka-based “Thanks & Dream The Great Eastern Japan Earthquake & Nuclear Evacuee Association” http://sandori2014.blog.fc2.com/blog-entry-2062.html.
Asami Yokota, Fukushima mother who remained in Fukushima but evacuated her son to Hokkaido.
Ms Sonoda, Fukushima mother who evacuated with her child and husband; in June 2018 Ms Sonoda attended the 38th UNHRC (United Nations Human Rights Council) as a panellist in the Displaced  Persons session, speaking as a victim of the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear disaster. Kaori Mikata-Pralat was the one interpreting from japanese to english and Vice versa.
The apex of the testimonies was certainly Akiko Morimatsu pointing out that to live in a healthy environment without radiation nor contamination should be considered a basic human right, is a basic human right.
Three brave, courageous women, who stood out to protect their children and for what is right, against all odds, despite all the social pressure exercised on them fueled by the media and the government massive campaign of disinformation. My deep respect to those three very courageous women.
After the meeting went to a nearby english pub, with Robin Lawrence and his wife Camelia, had great time in their company and getting to know better, before going back by Tube (subway) to my Kings Cross Youth Hostel.
*****
Then on March 20th went on foot to another district of London, Bloomsbury, not to far from Kings Cross, spend the day around there near the University of London, discovered a great multiple floors bookstore, Waterstones on Malet Street,  then got a free lunch plate distributed on the street at the gate of London University, lentils and potatoes.
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Then later at 5pm met with Lis Fields, Kurumi Sugita, Akiko Morimatsu and her two children, Asami Yokota, and had a quick early dinner, before going at 7pm to attend the second event, at the Brunei’s Gallery, School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS), University of London.
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That March 20th event also organized by Kick Nuclear (London): https://kicknuclear.com; Japanese Against Nuclear London: http://www.januk.org; Nos Voisins Lointains 311 (France): https://nosvoisinslointains311.home.blog/agenda/ and CND (Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament): https://cnduk.org
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The first part of that event was the screening of « Munen » (Remorse) an 47 minutes animation film made in 2016 by Hidenobu Fukumoto.
Many inspirational episodes in “Munen” film. Below are just some of them.
* Following day of the earthquake and tsunami in March 2011, when the firefighters were working to rescue people, they were ordered to cease the rescue mission due to explosion in Fukushima Daiichi nuclear station. Later, even though they understood the risk of nuclear accident, they felt “remorse” and cried – that if, just if, they kept rescuing, they could have helped some more people in the suffered reagion.
* Three days after the earthquake and tsunami, the second explosion happened in the nuclear station. The TV news said it was “hydrogen explosion”. People in NAMIE town were asked to evacuate but people were not given the answers to their questions:
– What is the reason of evacuation?
– Where should we evacuate?
– Until when they need to evacuate?
* “Nuclear Power – Bright Energy in the Future”. This is the slogan in the banner which has been hung in the town. And it was me who made it in my school days, and I was so proud that it was chosen as our town’s slogan, but now I know the slogan was wrong.
About Munen : Group creates film and story series based on interviews with Fukushima evacuees
Six years ago in March, a firefighter in the town of Namie in Fukushima Prefecture couldn’t save tsunami victims in the wake of the Great East Japan Earthquake, because he himself had to evacuate due to the nuclear crisis at the Fukushima No. 1 power plant.
His anguish has been illustrated in the animated film “Munen”. The film begins with a scene in which the wife of the firefighter explains to her niece why her husband puts his hands together everyday and looks toward Namie.
“He is apologizing to lives that he could not save,” she tells her niece.
At the screening in Paris, the audience of about 100 people stared at the screen. The crowd erupted in applause when the film ended.
France depends heavily on nuclear power, which produces 75 percent of its electricity.
“I could understand clearly the seriousness (of nuclear power). I want many French people to watch this,” said a male university professor.
A citizens’ group that created the film has also produced about 40 illustrated story performances in the last five years, featuring experiences of evacuees of the nuclear disaster and a folk tale set in areas that have emptied of people. The shows have also been screened at various locations.
One story called “Mienai Kumo no Shita de” (“Under the Unseen Cloud”) depicts the life of a female evacuee from Namie.
Another called “Yuki-kun no Tegami” (“Yuki’s Letter”) features an autistic boy who struggles in an evacuation center, while a work titled “Inochi no Tsugi ni Taisetsuna Mono” (“The Precious Thing Next to Life”) is based on a story from the disaster that a manager of an inn heard from a fisherman.
“Munen” was also based on an illustrated story.
“An illustrated story show is easy and inexpensive (to produce). It tends to win the sympathy of the audience as it stimulates their imagination,” said Hidenobu Fukumoto, who heads a group called Machi Monogatari Seisaku Iinkai (Town Story Production Committee).
The 60-year-old former official of the Hiroshima Municipal Government was born in Hiroshima and graduated from Hiroshima Shudo University.
At the city office, he was involved in publishing a public relations magazine and event planning, with many opportunities to create illustrations. He retired in March.
What prompted him to create the shows was a book about the relationship of the atomic bombing of Hiroshima and the nuclear plant in Fukushima operated by Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings Inc. He read the book when he was engaged in volunteer activities in Fukushima after the disaster.
The book by Hisato Nakajima, titled “Sengoshi no Nakano Fukushima Genpatsu” (“The Fukushima Nuclear Power plant in Postwar History”), includes the story of a Tepco employee who was involved in the construction of the Fukushima No. 1 power plant.
The man, who lost his older brother in to the atomic bombing, also helped rescue atomic bomb survivors. In around 1964, he was assigned to work in the town of Okuma in Fukushima and talked to local people who were concerned about hosting a nuclear plant.
“I saw the B-29 bomber that dropped the atomic bomb and the mushroom cloud that soared in the sky afterward. I know the fear more than you all do, and that’s why I studied nuclear power seriously,” the man is quoted as saying. “I believe nuclear power is safe enough, as it is put under extremely thorough safety measures.”
Fukumoto was shocked to learn that the man’s atomic bombing experience was used to convince people to accept the construction of a nuclear power facility.
Meanwhile, the book also tells about a landowner in Namie — where Tohoku Electric Power Co. had planned to build a nuclear power facility — refusing to sell his land because he witnessed the devastation following the atomic bombing of Hiroshima.
“In the 1960s when I was in elementary school, atomic bomb survivors in Hiroshima refrained from talking about the bombing over fear of being discriminated against,” Fukumoto said.
“If the horror of the atomic bombing had been conveyed better, people in Fukushima might have become suspicious about being persuaded, and nuclear power plants would not have been built,” he said, adding that if Fukushima becomes silent, the silence could be used as an excuse for maintaining nuclear power.
In order to prevent that outcome, Fukumoto is determined to convey the stories of remorse triggered by the meltdown disaster, the stories of evacuees, and the individual personalities of the victims.
Every month, Fukumoto makes a round trip of around 800 kilometers between Hiroshima and Fukushima to hold interviews to create new stories.
On Jan. 31, he visited the Namie home of 56-year-old Yoko Oka. Oka evacuated to the city of Fukushima, as her home was in a restricted zone which allowed only daytime access. The restriction was lifted at the end of March this year.
Her home was almost empty after she threw away everything but a chest, which she brought after getting married. There were many holes in the paper doors because they were devastated by masked palm civets, which also scattered feces in the home.
Oka stood in front of a pillar marked with the heights of her two daughters.
“This is the only proof that we lived here,” she said.
Fukumoto listened carefully to Oka and photographed her. Based on such interviews, he uses his computer to make illustrations for new stories and write scripts.
The production group currently has around 10 members, including a hibakusha from 72 years ago. The survivor continues to contact Fukushima evacuees, believing it is not someone else’s problem as they both were exposed to radiation.
There are also many evacuees who perform similar shows in various places.
Hisai Yashima, 51, who evacuated to the town of Kori, Fukushima, belongs to a group of around 15 storytellers.
“I could not have talked about (the nuclear disaster) if I were in my 20s … waiting to get married or expecting a baby,” she said. “Our generation can talk about it and young generations can succeed after they get older.”
After hearing the experiences of those who survived the atomic bomb in Hiroshima, Yashima thought the prejudice echoes the discrimination suffered by the Fukushima nuclear disaster evacuees.
But she is proud that the group was able to visit some 500 locations to screen shows.
“We are able to send out (our message). We will never let people become silent like in Hiroshima,” Yashima said.
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The movie screeningwas  followed by a debate between the three Fukushima mothers, and the people attending. It was less formal than the previous evening at the House of Commons, with plenty time for people to ask many questions, to which Akiko Morimatsu and Asami Yokota, were answering in details, there was a lot to learn there from them, how the Fukushima nuclear disaster had affected their lives, their family life, how it had changed their life forever. Kaori Mikata-Pralat was again the one interpreting from japanese to english and Vice versa.
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Kurumi Sugita explaining what can be done to help the Fukushima people
*****
I was not able to sleep much that second night as I had to go very early at 5 am to the nearby St Pancras station, to get thru immigration and customs to get on the 5:40am scheduled Eurostar train going back to Paris.
This 2 days quick trip, was tiring but not regrets at all. Those two days in London  were awesome, I was able to meet people I had wanted to meet for a long time, and to get to know them now personally, all of them beautiful people, the kind of company who lift your spirit and give you hope and energy to continue, to not give up, to continue to stand for what is right, and help sharing awareness to others.
Thank you all my dear friends for what you are, for who you are.
See you next year March again!

March 22, 2019 Posted by | fukushima 2019 | , | Leave a comment

2019 Civil nuclear power in Japan, Fukushima

51983537_497459597324845_7943532234311467008_n.jpgKolin Kobayashi, accompanying Ex-Prime Minister Naoto Kan and his wife on their antinuclear campaigning tour in France last February 2019.

 

Numbers
Total number of plants: 19 plants
total number of reactors: 54 reactors active before Fukushima.
Number of closures decided: 21 reactors

Number of reactors restarted: 9, 1st dec 2018 (Genkai 3,4, Sendai1,2, Ooi 3,4, Takahama 3,4, Ikata 3)
Number of reactors passed to the control of the new standard: 9
Number of reactors under construction: 3 (Oma, totsu, Shimané)

Total shutdown of all plants:
Zero reactor for almost two years between May 2012 and August 2015. During this period, Japan used coal and fuel plants, but the increase in coal consumption did not exceed 10%. Natural gas + 9%
The share of electro-nuclear before Fukushima: 35%
The increase in solar production: 45 billion Khw that would exceed that of electronuclear (17 billion).

Concerns before the 8th year (March 11, 2019) of the Fukushima disaster
The accident continues and we are still under the state of emergency. It is not yet possible to confine the radioactivity.

Return of inhabitants:

Since the spring of 2017, the prepared areas to be opened are now open and the government and the Fukushima Department are urging people to return to their contaminated areas. Mr. Shunichi Tanaka, former chairman of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, from Fukushima, settled in Iitate to show that there is no radioactive risk. The municipality of Iitaté (40-50 km north-west of Fukushima-Diichi) is a strategic place for both the pronucleair who want to erase this March 2011 bad memory and for the antinuclear who would like to demonstrate that there can be an important contamination even if you are 40 km away. The villagers were not informed that their village had been heavily contaminated. One month later, all residents were evacuated.

The Japanese and French lobbies work together to accredit the myth of radioactivity security, in the continuity of the Ethos project in Belarus, to bring back the inhabitants.

The propaganda of the Japanese and French lobbies plans to organize a study trip for international high school students to Japan, including French high school students, in Fukushima and also at the Fukushima-Daiichi site, to persuade people that the radioactivity is not very serious. A propaganda organized by Japanese and French scientists linked to the sphere of the international lobby ETHOS.

Discharge of contaminated water into the Pacific Ocean:

The quantity of contaminated water now exceeds 1,120,000 tons with more than 1,000 tanks. The limit of the storage margin in the Fukushima site will be reached in two years.

It is found that these waters contain not only more than 1000 trillion Bq in total tritium but also cesium 137 and 134 and strontium. TEPCO and the Japanese authorities recommend dumping it into the Pacific Ocean. They organized three public hearings during which the inhabitants and especially the fishermen were fiercely opposed to this solution. The citizens’ commission of nuclear power (associative organization of the independent scientists) recommends to store it in the large reservoirs for 100 years. For the moment the decision is suspended.

Reuse of contaminated land:

Recycling waste of less than 8000 Bq / kg is allowed.

After the decontamination work, the contaminated waste is stored in the plastic bags and there are today 16 million 50 000 bags: 1100 temporary deposits, 137 000 deposits on the premises. In the municipalities of Okuma and Futaba, two intermediate storage sites are being built, which must finally receive 22 million bags until 2020. To prevent the number of storage increases, the Japanese authorities allow to recycle / reuse contaminated soil of less than 8000 Bq / kg.

The CEO of Veolia said that it intends to make a trade of waste by exporting to Japan those from France of less than 8000Bq / kg.

Removal of the public dosimeters:

The Fukushima Department would like to remove public dosimetry indicators. There are public hearings and here too, residents oppose this decision.

Tokyo Olympics:

The situation created by preparations for the Tokyo Olympics is terrifying. It makes people forget Fukushima The trivialization of radioactivity and ethosian propaganda. The public and the Olympic Committee should be informed of the reality of the contamination.

( Read the text of Prof. Hiroaki KOIDE https://nuclear-news.net/2019/03/03/the-fukushima-nuclear-disaster-and-the-tokyo-olympics/ )

The health consequences:

In Minami-Soma, Fukushima County, according to the local * statistics of the Minami-Soma Municipal Hospital, the number of cases of thyroid cancer is 29 times higher than before the accident, cases of leukemia 10.8 times, lung cancers 4.2 times, childhood cancers 4 times, pneumonia 3.98 times.

* This does not represent the overall situation of the Fukushima Department, but it is significant.

Kolin Kobayashi

January 2019

March 3, 2019 Posted by | fukushima 2019 | , , , | Leave a comment

Japan marks seventh anniversary of 3/11 with moment of silence

Seven years after Fukushima nuclear disaster, more than 70,000 Japanese cannot return home. Many more are living in areas deemed at “acceptable” levels of radioactive contamination.
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An unidentified man offers prayers and a bouquet on Arahama Beach in Sendai’s Wakabayashi Ward early Sunday morning as Japan observed the seventh anniversary of the Great East Japan Earthquake.
Mar 11, 2018
At 2:46 p.m. on Sunday, Japan observed a moment of silence to mark the seventh anniversary of the mega-quake and tsunami that left about 18,000 people dead or missing while triggering the world’s worst nuclear disaster since Chernobyl.
The anniversary of the calamity on March 11, 2011, arrived as about 73,000 people from the disaster-hit areas have yet to return to their hometowns.
They include about 34,000 people from Fukushima Prefecture, who have no choice but to live outside the prefecture due to the radioactive contamination caused by the three reactor core meltdowns at the Fukushima No. 1 power station.
The death toll from the magnitude 9 Great East Japan Earthquake, subsequent tsunami and prolonged aftershocks had reached 15,895 as of Friday, the National Police Agency said, adding that 2,539 officially remain unaccounted for.
As of Feb. 13, over 53,000 of the 73,000 evacuees were living in government-funded temporary housing or public or private rental housing across the country, while nearly 20,000 were living with relatives or acquaintances, according to the Reconstruction Agency. The remaining 271 are hospital patients.
On Sunday a Tokyo memorial ceremony organized by the government was attended by Prince Akishino and Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, along with representatives of the survivors in the hardest-hit prefectures of Iwate, Miyagi and Fukushima, and other guests.
“Is it already seven years? Or, is it only seven years? I don’t know. Even though I think about it often, there are no answers in my heart,” Hideko Igarashi, a 70-year-old survivor from Fukushima Prefecture, said in her speech at the ceremony.
“We should not forget what we have learned from the disaster,” the woman from Soma said. “I sincerely pray for the peace and comfort of the victims and offer my most profound condolences.”
Abe said he believes the reconstruction projects in the Tohoku region are steadily making progress.
“More than 70,000 people are still living as evacuees, and many people continue to endure troubled uncomfortable lives seven years later,” Abe said. “When I think of the despair of those who lost beloved members of their families and friends in the disaster, I am overwhelmed even now with deep sorrow.”
“In areas that were affected by the earthquake and tsunami, the restoration of infrastructure closely related to everyday life is nearly complete, while 90 percent of the new homes required after the disaster are expected to be completed by this spring,” he added. Many of the tsunami-hit areas have been cleared of debris, and some areas are preparing raised areas for new homes to mitigate the risk of future tsunami damage. But despite the progress in these large, long-term construction projects, many evacuees have run out of patience and given up any hope of returning to their hometowns, opting to settle inland.
Abe also noted that evacuation orders are gradually being lifted in areas tainted by the triple core meltdown triggered by the tsunami-linked blackout at Fukushima No. 1, which is managed by Tokyo Electric Power Co. Holdings.
Reconstruction Minister Masayoshi Yoshino said during a press briefing Wednesday in Tokyo that more than 80 percent of the farmland in the area is available for planting again, and that over 90 percent of the fish-processing facilities affected have reopened. While echoing Abe’s remarks about steady progress, Prince Akishino expressed his feelings about those still struggling under difficult conditions.
“The government, local authorities nationwide and large numbers of people, both in Japan and abroad, have offered support in many ways,” he said.
“As a result, we have made progress in various areas such as construction and relocation of housing to higher ground, the resumption of industrial operations, improvement in living conditions, and the provision of new disaster prevention facilities,” the prince said.
“It is important that the hearts of the people remain with the afflicted for many years to come in order to ensure that each and every one of those who are in difficult situations will not be left behind and will be able to live in peace and good health, and that reconstruction will continue to make steady progress,” he said.

March 15, 2018 Posted by | Fukushima 2018 | | Leave a comment