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Queensland’s Smile With Kids helping Fukushima children to rebuild their lives

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Fourteen-year-old Karin Hirakuri relished her time at the beach in far north Queensland.
July 28, 2019
Fourteen-year-old Karin Hirakuri hasn’t been allowed to play outside since she was six years old and every time she goes to the supermarket, she worries her food could be unsafe to eat.
Key points
High school students from Fukushima exercise, play and spend most of their time indoors
Refresh programs in Australia give children the chance to connect with families and experience the outdoors
Some children are finding career inspiration through refresh programs
Growing up in Fukushima, Japan, after the catastrophic tsunami and the meltdown of four nuclear reactors in 2011, Karin’s childhood has been spent mostly indoors to limit her exposure to radiation.
She is one of eight high school students in far north Queensland this week with Smile With Kids, a not-for-profit organisation that pairs children from Fukushima with Australian host families.
The program began in 2014, inspired by other “refresh camps” that aim to give Fukushima children a week of outdoor activities.
“They can just come and enjoy nature without worry,” Smile With Kids founder Maki McCarthy said.
A highlight for Karin was sinking her feet in the sand and feeling the spray of seawater on her face at Palm Cove beach, north of Cairns, on Thursday.
“I wasn’t able to go swimming at the beach for five years,” she said.
“We cannot play outside in Fukushima.
“We have to play in the gym or in the house.”
Ongoing concern for young people
Health risks associated with radiation exposure are low in Japan and extremely low in other neighbouring countries, according to the World Health Organisation.
But illness is still a big concern for some young people.
Karin said the fear of developing cancer was always in the back of her mind.
“We think about it a lot,” she said.
The Fukushima Health Management Survey found rates of psychological distress was far greater in Fukushima compared with other areas affected by the earthquake and tsunami that caused the Daiichi power plant meltdown.
It also found an increased prevalence of lifestyle-related diseases like obesity and hypertension after the disaster.
“It’s had a big impact on people,” Ms McCarthy said.
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Hirotaka Kuchiki has developed a passion for food and organic farming after the Fukushima disaster.
Looking to the future
Despite the ongoing problems some students in Fukushima face, their experience of the disaster has also been a source of motivation.
Sixteen-year-old Hirotaka Kuchiki said he wanted to become an organic farmer after learning about sustainable agriculture on another refresh camp in Japan.
“After the earthquake everything around me changed,” Hirotaka said.
“I couldn’t eat the food around the area, even the fish I couldn’t eat.
“Later I met an organic farmer in the south of Japan and the organic farmer’s life inspired me, and I want to be like the farmer.”
Families connect
Smile With Kids host Catherine Gunn has been accommodating Fukushima students for the past three years and said the experience had been eye-opening.
“It opens my world up,” Ms Gunn said.
“Also the reflection on how lucky we are in Australia.
“We’ve never experience anything like [the nuclear disaster] in Australia, we have a very free life.”
Ms Gunn said she learnt a lot from the students, including some great card-playing skills.
“Because the students can’t go out and play outside, they play a lot of Uno,” she said.
“When one of the students was here we became really keen on playing Uno and every time she beat me.
“Now I am a champion, but we had so much fun.”
Ms McCarthy said the Smile With Kids program had doubled the number of students it was accepting each year, as more host families came on board.
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Maki MaCarthy started Smile With Kids in 2014, three years after the Fukushima disaster and nuclear meltdown.

July 31, 2019 Posted by | fukushima 2019 | , , | Leave a comment

On shaky ground: Australian uranium and Fukushima

‘There is a clear chain of consequence from a failed nuclear facility on Japan’s East coast to the back of a big yellow truck at an Australian mine-site.’

~ Dave Sweeney

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THE POWERFUL EARTHQUAKE that struck off the coast of Fukushima prefecture in Japan last week, is a stark reminder of the deep and continuing safety concerns following the 2011 nuclear disaster.

The stricken reactor complex remains polluted and porous and every added complication leads to further contamination.

Closer to home the renewed tectonic instability highlights the need for urgent Australian government action on the industry that directly fuelled the continuing nuclear crisis.

In October 2011, Robert Floyd, the director general of the Department of Foregn Affairs and Trade (DFAT) Australian Safeguards and Non-Proliferation Office (ASNO) confirmed to the Federal Parliament that

“Australian obligated nuclear material [uranium] was at the Fukushima Daiichi site and in each of the reactors.”

Rocks dug in Kakadu and northern South Australia are the source of Fukushima’s radioactive fallout. There is a clear chain of consequence from a failed nuclear facility on Japan’s East coast to the back of a big yellow truck at an Australian mine-site.

The Federal Government has cravenly ignored this fact and also remains resistant to an independent cost-benefit assessment of Australia’s uranium trade, as directly requested by the then UN secretary general Ban Ki Moon in the wake of Fukushima.

To date there has been no meaningful response from any Australian government, uranium company, uranium industry body or regulator. There have been political platitudes and industry assurances but no credible attention or action.

Indeed, instead of the requested industry review there has been a retreat from responsibility and a rush to rip and ship more uranium ore by fast-tracking risky and contested new uranium sales deals, including to India and Ukraine.

Despite Canberra’s irresponsible fire sale approach the Australian uranium sector is facing tough times.

“Rocks dug in Kakadu and northern South Australia are the source of Fukushima’s radiocative fallout.”

In June, BHP Billiton, the world’s biggest miner, confirmed that it scrapped its long planned, budgeted and approved Olympic Dam expansion in South Australia because of the impact of the Fukushima disaster on uranium demand and prices.

BHP says:

Fukushima changed everything.’ 

And the result is clear — nuclear power’s contribution to the global energy mix is shrinking and is being eclipsed by renewables. Uranium operations are on hold, extended care and maintenance or well behind planning schedules and prices, profits, share value and employment numbers have gone south.

IBISWorld’s March 2015 market report shows that less than 1,000 people are employed in Australia’s uranium industry. The uranium industry accounts for 0.01 per cent of jobs in Australia and in the 20131/14 financial year, accounted for a scant 0.19 per cent of national export revenue. Despite the uranium industry’s promises, uranium mining is not and never will be a significant source of employment or wealth in Australia.

Fukushima is a global game changer with Australian fingerprints. Like Japan, the Australian uranium sector is also on shaky ground and is in urgent need of review. This high risk, low return sector lacks social licence and it is time for less excuses and more examination of the asbestos of the 21st Century.

https://independentaustralia.net/politics/politics-display/on-shaky-ground-australian-uranium-and-fukushima,9778#.WDuZLkVVYdk.facebook

November 28, 2016 Posted by | Japan | , | Leave a comment

Human error the biggest danger in nuclear technology

In 2007, six nuclear warheads were transported from Minot Air Force Base in North Dakota, to Louisiana’s Barksdale Air Force Base – by mistake. It’s a pattern of mistakes where there’s zero room for error.

When We’re Our Own Biggest Nuclear Threat Gizmodo Australia, By Brian Barrett  November 23, 2010 Continue reading

November 26, 2010 Posted by | general | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Speculating on other possible nuclear or uranium targets for Stuxnet computer worm

Dragons, Tigers, Pearls, and Yellowcake: 4 Stuxnet Targeting Scenarios, Forbes, Nov. 22 2010 –  by Jeffrey CarrIn all of the thousands of words that have been printed about Stuxnet, and the many interviews given, there’s been almost no discussion of alternative targeting scenarios for the Stuxnet worm…. Continue reading

November 24, 2010 Posted by | general | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Millions spent on lobbying gets results for Body Scanner Radiation company

spent $271,500 on lobbying so far this year too. In return it has received $41.2 million in government contracts for their scanners this year.

Body Scanner Radiation Machine Makers Spent Millions On Lobbying, Wall Street Window,  – Mike Swanson (11/22/10) The truth comes out. USA Today reports that L-3 Communications, which makes the TSA radiation scanning machines at the center of controversy spent millions on lobbying government officials over the past few years to get government contracts to build the machines. Continue reading

November 23, 2010 Posted by | politics, USA | , , , , | Leave a comment

Australian soldiers, Aborigines, civilians exposed to depleted uranium in ’50s nuclear tests

The government is preparing a study of those who may have been affected, including soldiers, and Aboriginal and civilian populations in the area at the time of testing.

Depleted uranium used at Maralinga Paul Langley’s Nuclear History Blog, 23 Nov 10, Australian Government Confirms Depleted Uranium Used in 1950s The Australian Federal Government announced that it will conduct a health study of Australian volunteers who worked at Maralinga, a British nuclear test site. Continue reading

November 23, 2010 Posted by | AUSTRALIA, depleted uranium | , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

North Korea shows off new nuclear complex

Experts caution, however, that true hydrogen bombs are quite difficult to make, so it seems unlikely that North Korea would succeed in that step anytime soon.

North Koreans Unveil Vast New Plant for Nuclear Use, NYTimes.com, By DAVID E. SANGER  November 20, 2010 WASHINGTON — North Korea showed a visiting American nuclear scientist last week a vast new facility it secretly and rapidly built to enrich uranium, confronting the Obama administration with the prospect that the country is preparing to expand its nuclear arsenal or build a far more powerful type of atomic bomb…….. Continue reading

November 21, 2010 Posted by | North Korea, weapons and war | , , , , , | Leave a comment

USA keen to market nuclear power to Australia

The deal would allow for the United States to export nuclear technology, material and equipment to Australia for atomic power generation

Legislation Would Protect U.S.-Australia Atomic Trade Deal, NTI: Global Security Newswire , Nov. 18, 2010 Recently introduced U.S. legislation would ensure that a civilian nuclear trade agreement with Australia would still enter into force even if its time runs out in Congress, Continue reading

November 19, 2010 Posted by | politics, USA | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Despite its own committee’s warnings, Australian govt quietly does uranium deal with Russia

Joint Standing Committee of Treaties (JSCOT) pointed out that uranium sales to Russia should not proceed unless significant security measures were addressed. Few if any of these measures have been addressed since then.

it seems to be just another case of “business as usual” in Australian politics, in which our country’s resources are sold off to the highest bidder, regardless of the dangerous impacts such sales add to geo-regional security.

New Risks from Australia Russia Uranium Deal – On Line Opinion – By James Norman 19/11/2010 Late last week on the sidelines of the G20 meeting in South Korea, Prime Minister Julia Gillard ratified a deal with Russian President Dmitry Medvedev that should send shockwaves through the Australian electorate. Continue reading

November 18, 2010 Posted by | AUSTRALIA, politics international | , , , , | Leave a comment

The halt on German nuclear transports to Russia

Thousands attend unprecedented anti-nuclear protests in Germany: Local action achieves global impact. Bellona, 19 Nov 10, GORBLEN, Germany .……..The deal that the Germans were preparing with the Russians involved the transportation of 951 spent nuclear fuel assemblies burnt in a research reactor in Rossendorf, Eastern Germany, from a temporary storage facility in Ahaus, Western Germany, to the chemical reprocessing plant Mayak in Russia for final disposal.On November 13, the German news agency DPA reported that authorities in Hamburg – namely, city mayor Christoph Ahlhaus – had refused to allow the port to be used as a transit point for the delivery.
“In October, another decision to refuse to participate in the transportation of nuclear waste had come from the authorities in Bremerhaven, also a port. Therefore, for the time being, there is no suitable seaport in Germany that would agree to serve as a transit harbour [for the waste]. The German government says shipping the 18 containers with nuclear waste may be postponed until April 2011,” the DPA report said (rendered here from the Russian translation). ……

Thousands attend unprecedented anti-nuclear protests in Germany: Local action achieves global impact – Bellona

November 18, 2010 Posted by | Germany, opposition to nuclear | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Despite Republicans’ electoral success, nuclear power industry’s future in USA looking grim

Nationwide, ground has been broken for just four reactors, two twin-unit nuclear plants since the 1970s……both are in locations that are insulated from the market, in Georgia and South Carolina. In both locations, the business risk rests with the ratepayers, not with the shareholders…….

G.O.P. Gains on Capitol Hill May Not Advance Nuclear Power, NYTimes.com, By MATTHEW L. WALD, November 16, 2010 WASHINGTON THE outspoken supporters of nuclear power are mostly Republicans, and the Republicans are about to take control of the House of Representatives and gain six seats in the Senate. Is this good news for nuclear power? Continue reading

November 18, 2010 Posted by | business and costs, USA | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Guangdong nuclear plant radiation leak reported

Radiation Leak Reported at Guangdong Nuclear Power Plant, Economic Observer News-, By Ruoji TangShare    By Yu Huapeng and Hua Yan, November 17, 2010,Translated by Ruoji Tang  Original Article: [Chinese] On October 23rd, during a routine inspection of the No. 1 reactor at Daya Bay Nuclear Power Plant, a small leak of radioactive material was discovered, the third leak detected in a Hong Kong Nuclear Investment Company plant since May this year. Yesterday, Daya Bay Nuclear Power Operations Management Ltd. Co. released a report stating that one of the heat removal pipes had been found to be defective but had since been dealt with….Radiation Leak Reported at Guangdong Nuclear Power Plant- Economic Observer News- China business, politics, law, and social issues

November 18, 2010 Posted by | China, safety | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Port Hope residents should sue govt over radioactive wastes

OSHAWA — The people of Port Hope should sue the federal government “to the tune of millions of dollars” for the exposure to radiation from Cameco, prominent anti-nuclear activist Dr. Helen Caldicott said during a public speech in Oshawa.

(Canada)  Anti-nuclear doctor advises Port Hope residents to sue over exposure northumberlandnews.com Dr. Helen Caldicott gives impassioned talk to standing-room-only crowd in Oshawa Nov 17, 2010

Jennifer O’Meara Continue reading

November 18, 2010 Posted by | Canada, wastes | , , , , | Leave a comment

Growing strength of new international energy agency

IRENA believes that renewable energy use must, and will increase dramatically in the coming years, because of its key role in:

  • enhancing energy security
  • reducing greenhouse gas emissions and mitigating climate change
  • alleviating energy poverty
  • supporting sustainable development, and
  • boosting economic growth.

IRENA – Building a New Energy Agency RenewablesNovember 15, 2010 by Anja Atkinson On the 24th and 25th October, the International Renewable Energy Agency held it’s fourth session of the Preparatory Commission in Abu Dhabi. All together 300 delegates attended from more than 100 countries. Continue reading

November 17, 2010 Posted by | 2 WORLD, renewable | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

BHP Billiton uranium company to be questioned over radioactive waste dumping plans

BHP Billiton boss faces a grilling  (at its Annual General meeting, Perth Australia, 16 Nov) Sydney Morning Herald, Mathew MurphyNovember 15, 2010 “……The Australian Conservation Foundation is also expected to attack BHP over its $20 billion expansion plans for Olympic Dam, the world’s largest uranium deposit.ACF nuclear free campaigner David Noonan said the group will ask the BHP board if the new open-pit mine is only considered economic because it is designed to leak up to 8 million litres of radioactive waste a day.

”This company plans to dump rather than to dispose of their radioactive wastes, and do not intend to rehabilitate the proposed open pit, intending instead to leave a toxic lake as a permanent scar on the landscape,” he said. …..BHP boss faces a grilling

November 15, 2010 Posted by | AUSTRALIA, wastes | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment