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As I See It: Has nothing been learned from TEPCO’s ‘meltdown’ cover-up?

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The March 14, 2011 press conference at the Tokyo Electric Power Co. (TEPCO) head office in Tokyo in which then TEPCO vice president Sakae Muto (second from right) was reportedly told by then company president Masataka Shimizu not to use the expression “core meltdown.”

A third-party panel set up by Tokyo Electric Power Co. (TEPCO) to investigate the company’s cover-up of the core meltdowns that occurred at its Fukushima No. 1 Nuclear Power Plant following the March 11, 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake and tsunami revealed in a report last month that then TEPCO president Masataka Shimizu had ordered the company not to use the term “meltdown” to describe what had occurred. The report also stated that the organizational cover-up took place against a backdrop of “what is presumed to be a request that came from the prime minister’s office.”

Then Chief Cabinet Secretary Yukio Edano has objected to the report, saying that the very people who were involved, himself included, were not consulted by the panel before it drew its conclusion. Edano also said that he sent a letter of protest to TEPCO seeking an apology and a retraction of the report.

There are many missing pieces to the investigative report, but without a doubt, TEPCO acted irresponsibly toward local residents. A meltdown refers to a severe incident in which nuclear fuel melts and leeches out. If the facts had been revealed to the public, they could have fled further and avoided going outdoors. TEPCO bears a heavy responsibility for exposing local residents to risks more dangerous than they would have been otherwise.

On March 14, 2011, three days after the nuclear crisis broke out, then TEPCO vice president Sakae Muto was in the midst of a press conference when a company PR official passed him a handwritten note indicating that a core meltdown had taken place, and whispered into his ear that “the prime minister’s office has instructed that this expression not be used.” The third-party investigative panel concluded that this message was from then TEPCO president Shimizu. In accordance with the instructions, Muto and TEPCO used the term “core damage,” a word with a less serious connotation than core meltdown, making the incident seem less severe than it actually was.

The residents of the Fukushima Prefecture town of Namie — the northerly neighbor of the town of Futaba, one of the two towns that the stricken nuclear plant straddles — were forced to evacuate without crucial information. According to the Namie Municipal Government, some 8,000 of the town’s 21,000 or so residents evacuated on March 12, 2011, to the town’s Tsushima district, further northwest of the nuclear plant. At the time, however, the wind had been blowing in that direction, putting the residents directly in the path of radioactive materials being emitted in massive amounts from the crippled nuclear plant.

Local resident Hidezo Sato, 71, evacuated from the town center and stayed at a community center in Tsushima until March 15. “There were other evacuees who said we should be fleeing farther away, but I didn’t think the situation was that grave,” he recalls. “If we’d known there’d been a core meltdown, it would’ve determined how we evacuated.” The community center where he was taking refuge was overflowing with people. Not knowing that he was downwind from the troubled nuclear plant, Sato sat by a fire outdoors. He also saw children going into grassy areas, where radioactive materials are known to collect.

“I would’ve avoided going outdoors had I known there’d been a meltdown,” says Yoko Hashimoto, 64, who also evacuated to the Tsushima district. “Five years have passed since the disaster broke out, and I’m worried that I’ll start seeing the health effects of radiation exposure. Why wasn’t the meltdown announced right away?” It is only natural for residents whose safety was all but ignored by TEPCO to feel anger toward the utility. The power company had always emphasized the happy coexistence of its nuclear plants and local communities. Yet when a serious incident took place, the local residents were neglected. This more than explains why the residents are distrustful and angry.

It wasn’t until at least two months later that TEPCO admitted that core meltdowns had occurred. And even then, it was only because the then Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency, which has since been disbanded, demanded an overall report on the disaster. Moreover, it wasn’t until February of this year that TEPCO announced that it had discovered an internal company manual stipulating that damage to 5 percent or more of nuclear fuel be defined as a nuclear meltdown. Until then, the utility had cited the fact that it didn’t have any standards by which to define nuclear meltdowns as its excuse for delaying the announcement that such a phenomenon had occurred. But indeed, according to the manual, then vice president Muto could have said at the press conference on March 14, 2011, that a nuclear meltdown had taken place.

Hirotada Hirose, professor emeritus at Tokyo Woman’s Christian University and an expert in disaster risk studies, says that while local residents may have been thrown into confusion if information about the core meltdown had been made public, the merits of them evacuating farther away and reducing their exposure to radiation would have outweighed the possible risks of panic. “The physical and psychological damage that residents have suffered because information was not provided to them are far greater.” He adds, “Regardless of whether or not TEPCO actually received instructions from the prime minister’s office (not to use the expression ‘core meltdown’), it should have decided on its own to release accurate information. TEPCO lacks awareness and responsibility as the operator of nuclear plants that are at risk of creating serious crises.”

There is still much more room for improvement in TEPCO’s attitude toward its responsibilities. After the report on the meltdown cover-up was released, TEPCO President Naomi Hirose was asked at a press conference how the utility expected to work with the prime minister’s office if another serious incident were to occur. He refused to respond in clear-cut terms, instead stating, “That’s a difficult question to answer in general terms.”

On the one hand, the third-party investigative panel should be praised for digging up the fact that then TEPCO president Shimizu instructed the cover-up. On the other hand, however, the probe into the utility’s relationship with the prime minister’s office is insufficient. Residents harbor distrust toward not just TEPCO, but the government as well. Local residents will remain unconvinced unless further investigation into the extent and the manner in which the government interfered with the nuclear crisis is conducted.

Core meltdowns are not a problem specific to TEPCO. Whenever there’s a problem surrounding a nuclear plant, it often turns out that similar things are taking place at other plants run by other utilities. Can we say that TEPCO’s latest case is an isolated event? There’s a fear that when a nuclear accident takes place, we won’t be able to trust the power companies involved to provide us with appropriate information that respects and reflects the needs of affected residents. If utilities are going to restart halted nuclear reactors and extend the number of years its aging reactors are allowed to operate, they must take away important lessons from the Fukushima crisis and be prepared to disseminate information to the public from their standpoint. (By Mirai Nagira, Science and Environment News Department)

http://mainichi.jp/english/articles/20160706/p2a/00m/0na/008000c

July 8, 2016 Posted by | Fukushima 2016 | , , , | Leave a comment

Former Japanese Leader Starts Fund for US Vets Who Helped Fukushima

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Former Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi has started a fund for U.S. veterans who say they were sickened by radioactive fallout from the 2011 disaster at the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant.

YOKOTA AIR BASE, Japan — A former Japanese prime minister is calling on his countrymen to donate to a fund for U.S. veterans who say they were sickened by radioactive fallout from the 2011 disaster at the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant.

“They went so far to do their utmost to help Japan,” Junichiro Koizumi told a news conference Tuesday in Tokyo alongside fellow former Prime Minister Morihiro Hosokawa, according to Asahi Shimbun. “It is not the kind of issue we can dismiss with just sympathy.”

Hundreds of veterans, claiming a host of medical conditions they say are related to radiation exposure after participating in Operation Tomodachi relief efforts, have filed suit against the nuclear plant’s operator, the Tokyo Electric Power Co. A massive earthquake caused a tsunami that swamped a large stretch of northeastern Japan and inundated the power plant. Experts are still dealing with continuing leaks from the reactors.

The suit asserts that TEPCO lied, coaxing the Navy closer to the plant even though it knew the situation was dire. General Electric, EBASCO, Toshiba Corp. and Hitachi were later added as defendants for allegations of faulty parts for the reactors.

Illnesses listed in the lawsuit, which is making its way through the courts, include genetic immune system diseases, headaches, difficulty concentrating, thyroid problems, bloody noses, rectal and gynecological bleeding, weakness in sides of the body accompanied by the shrinking of muscle mass, memory loss, leukemia, testicular cancer, problems with vision, high-pitch ringing in the ears and anxiety.

People can donate to the fund, called the Operation Tomodachi Victims Foundation, at Japanese credit union Jonan Shinyo Kinko, Eigyobu honten branch, account No. 844688.

Donations, accepted through March 31, 2017, will be transferred to a U.S. bank and used, under the management of a judge, to support the veterans, according to a news release from the credit union.

http://www.stripes.com/news/former-japanese-leader-starts-fund-for-us-vets-who-helped-fukushima-1.417867

http://www.military.com/daily-news/2016/07/07/former-japanese-leader-starts-fund-us-vets-who-helped-fukushima.html#.V36SOLg4aTY.facebook

July 7, 2016 Posted by | Fukushima 2016 | , , , , | Leave a comment

Outgoing Fukushima plant chief says long road still ahead

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The crippled Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant has seen improvements over the past three years but it will continue to be a difficult project during its decades-long decommissioning, the outgoing chief of the plant said Thursday.

Akira Ono, who headed the plant for three years until Thursday, said improvements include removing spent fuel rods from the damaged reactor building 4 and reducing the amount of groundwater seeping into reactor buildings, which then mixes with highly contaminated water.

“As for the working environment, workers can now have hot meals at a new, large rest station. In March, we were also able to widen the areas where they can work with their regular clothes” as radiation levels have decreased, Ono said.

Under the high radiation atmosphere, workers have to wear protective suits and full-face masks that are uncomfortable and make it hard to communicate with each other.

But the plant still needs to ensure facilities and equipment are operating more smoothly, and also further improve working conditions over the next two to three years in order to handle decommissioning work expected to take 30 to 40 more years, Ono said.

The Fukushima No. 1 plant faced an electric outage this week, which shut down some of the cooling facilities for its underground ice walls.

Ono said that the decommissioning work will also face other challenges, including identifying the exact location of melted fuel rods.

Shunji Uchida, who will be heading the plant from Friday, said he will spearhead efforts to create a strong foundation for the long decommissioning task ahead.

Ono takes on a new role at the Nuclear Damage Compensation and Decommissioning Facilitation Corporation, a body funded by the government and regional utilities to research technologies for decommissioning work.

http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2016/06/30/national/outgoing-fukushima-plant-chief-says-long-road-still-ahead/

June 30, 2016 Posted by | Fukushima 2016 | , , | Leave a comment

Radioactive cesium fallout on Tokyo from Fukushima concentrated in glass microparticles

Public Release: 26-Jun-2016 Goldschmidt Conference

New research shows that most of the radioactive fallout which landed on downtown Tokyo a few days after the Fukushima accident was concentrated and deposited in non-soluble glass microparticles, as a type of ‘glassy soot’. This meant that most of the radioactive material was not dissolved in rain and running water, and probably stayed in the environment until removed by direct washing or physical removal. The particles also concentrated the radioactive caesium (Cs), meaning that in some cases dose effects of the fallout are still unclear. These results are announced at the Goldschmidt geochemistry conference in Yokohama, Japan.

The flooding of the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant (FDNPP) after the disastrous earthquake on March 11 2011 caused the release of significant amounts of radioactive material, including caesium (Cs) isotopes 134Cs (half-life, 2 years) and 137Cs (half-life, 30 years).

Japanese geochemists, headed by Dr Satoshi Utsunomiya (Kyushu University, Japan), analysed samples collected from within an area up to 230 km from the FDNPP. As caesium is water-soluble, it had been anticipated that most of the radioactive fallout would have been flushed from the environment by rainwater. However, analysis with state-of-the-art electron microscopy in conjunction with autoradiography techniques showed that most of the radioactive caesium in fact fell to the ground enclosed in glassy microparticles, formed at the time of the reactor meltdown.

The analysis shows that these particles mainly consist of Fe-Zn-oxides nanoparticles, which, along with the caesium were embedded in Si oxide glass that formed during the molten core-concrete interaction inside the primary containment vessel in the Fukushima reactor units 1 and/or 3. Because of the high Cs content in the microparticles, the radioactivity per unit mass was as high as ~4.4×1011 Bq/g, which is between 107 and 108 times higher than the background Cs radioactivity per unit mass of the typical soils in Fukushima.

Closer microparticle structural and geochemical analysis also revealed what happened during the accident at FDNPP. Radioactive Cs was released and formed airborne Cs nanoparticles. Nuclear fuel, at temperatures of above 2200 K (about as hot as a blowtorch), melted the reactor pressure vessel resulting in failure of the vessel. The airborne Cs nanoparticles were condensed along with the Fe-Zn nanoparticles and the gas from the molten concrete, to form the SiO2 glass nanoparticles, which were then dispersed.

Analysis from several air filters collected in Tokyo on 15 March 2011 showed that 89% of the total radioactivity was present as a result of these caesium-rich microparticles, rather than the soluble Cs, as had originally been supposed.

According to Dr Satoshi Utsunomiya;

“This work changes some of our assumptions about the Fukushima fallout. It looks like the clean-up procedure, which consisted of washing and removal of top soils, was the correct thing to do. However, the concentration of radioactive caesium in microparticles means that, at an extremely localised and focused level, the radioactive fallout may have been more (or less) concentrated than anticipated. This may mean that our ideas of the health implications should be modified”.

Commenting, Prof. Bernd Grambow, Director of SUBATECH laboratory, Nantes, France and leader of the research group on interfacial reaction field chemistry of the ASRC/JAEA, Tokai, Japan, said:

“The leading edge observations by nano-science facilities presented here are extremely important. They may change our understanding of the mechanism of long range atmospheric mass transfer of radioactive caesium from the reactor accident at Fukushima to Tokyo, but they may also change the way we assess inhalation doses from the caesium microparticles inhaled by humans. Indeed, biological half- lives of insoluble caesium particles might be much larger than that of soluble caesium”.

http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2016-06/gc-rcf062316.php

June 27, 2016 Posted by | Fukushima 2016 | , , , | Leave a comment

Radioactive “Glassy Soot” Fell Over Tokyo After the Fukushima Meltdown

It’s science no one wishes was necessary.

Most of the radioactive material that rained down on Tokyo following the meltdown at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant was encapsulated in glassy microparticles, researchers have found.

The findings, which will be presented on Monday at the Goldschmidt conference in Japan, show that the radioactive fallout from the 2011 earthquake and subsequent nuclear disaster has been poorly understood. Previously, it was assumed that most of the radiation that fell dissolved in rain. This would mean that it would wash out of the soil and through the environment with the hydrologic cycle.

However, what actually happened is that, in the midst of the meltdown, molecules of radioactive caesium and nanoparticles of iron-zinc oxides became embedded in silicon oxide glass. This occurred because of the interaction between the molten core and the concrete containment units.

These tiny glass particles entered the air and fell as soot on the surrounding region. Because the radioactive molecules are contained in an insoluble medium, they will not wash out of the soil with rainwater to the same extent.

“It looks like the clean-up procedure, which consisted of washing and removal of top soils, was the correct thing to do,” says Dr. Satoshi Utsunomiya, who will present the findings on Monday. “However, the concentration of radioactive caesium in microparticles means that, at an extremely localised and focused level, the radioactive fallout may have been more (or less) concentrated than anticipated.”

Beyond the consequences for the environment, there are significant consequences for human health. Breathing caesium encased in glass particles may have a very different impact from exposure to it as radioactive rain, and it may be dangerous at a much higher or lower concentration. The half-life of the material may also depend heavily on the medium.

This information will be valuable in assessing the ongoing impacts the Fukushima disaster. Hopefully, no nuclear meltdown on that scale occurs again, but if one does, this new science will help governments better respond to the crisis.

https://www.inverse.com/article/17503-radioactive-glassy-soot-fell-over-tokyo-after-the-fukushima-meltdown

June 27, 2016 Posted by | Fukushima 2016 | , , , , | Leave a comment

Fukushima 3/11 Breeds Cynicism

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There’s an old saying “disasters bring out the best in people,” but Fukushima 3/11 of March 11, 2011 has put an exclamation point on cynicism rather than heartfelt concern.

Similar to America’s experience of outright lies by its government about the Iraqi Massacre, the blowback of cynicism and contempt bring forth a strain of populism, rejecting establishment, attracting lowly dishonorable politics, as America gooses-up an abomination!

Fukushima’s a horror story of hidden agendas, lies, scare tactics, and harsh secrecy laws, yet it’s held up as a icon of safe nuclear power by clever mastery of pro-nuke Oceania Newspeak, which, in the novel 1984 penalized “rebellious thoughts” as illegal, similar to Japan’s 2013 secrecy law wherein the “act of leaking itself” is bad enough for prosecution, regardless of what, how, or why, off to jail for 10 years. These decadent precepts are hard to accept with a straight face.

However, the day is fast approaching when the pro-nukie crowd, which claims Fukushima 3/11 caused few, if any, major radiation casualties, will be forced to “munch on their own words.” As time passes, it becomes ever more obvious that pro-nuke arguments, supporting big fat cumbersome nuclear power plants, metaphorically, hang by fingertips on an electric fence.

As an aside, it is rumored, thru the grapevine in Japan, that hospitals have been instructed to categorize, and officially report, patients’ radiation symptoms as “stress-related cases.” Hmm!

As for pro-nuclear news:

In spite of this whole theatrical drama the result was…nobody killed or injured, and no indication of long term negative radiation effects on people. So the lesson of Fukushima is that nuclear power is much safer than people thought,” Kelvin Kemm, The Lesson of Fukushima – Nuclear Energy is Safe, Cfact, Feb. 16, 2015.

Another example:

No one has been killed or sickened by the radiation — a point confirmed last month by the International Atomic Energy Agency. Even among Fukushima workers, the number of additional cancer cases in coming years is expected to be so low as to be undetectable, a blip impossible to discern against the statistical background noise,” George Johnson, When Radiation Isn’t the Real Risk, New York Times, Sept. 21, 2015

And, one more:

There were no cases of radiation sickness among plant workers, because their radiation doses were too low to produce sickness,” Georgetown Radiation Expert, Author Reflects on 5th Anniversary of Fukushima Meltdown, Georgetown University Medical Center, Newswise, Feb. 23, 2016.

Bunk! To the contrary, not only have several independent sources in Japan reported cover ups of Fukushima worker deaths, bodies incinerated with ashes hidden in Buddhist temples, and instances of hair falling out, nose bleeding, and assorted serious ailments unique to radiation poisoning, now several deaths of U.S. sailors may be closely linked to this disaster that a pro-nuclear crowd claims demonstrates how “safe” nuclear power really is.

Thus, begging the question: Are the pro-nukites liars and/or are they being lied to, or what’s up? Who knows, and who really cares which, but their published articles, grandstanding nuclear power, are prominent throughout mainstream big time, and small time, magazines and newspapers and hyperspace, Oceania redux.

Whereas, in vivid contrast to this pro-nuke claptrap, one of Japan’s most eminent former prime ministers Junichiro Koizumi (2001-06) declares support for the U.S. sailor’s TEPCO lawsuit, more on this later.

Additionally, PM Koizumi has repeatedly urged PM Abe to halt efforts to restart Japan’s nuclear reactors. He is the second former Japanese prime minister, including PM Naoto Kan (2010-11), to plea for a halt to nuclear power. They claim nuclear power is not safe!

Luckily for the nuclear power industry, Abe is the prime minister.

Yet, there’s a festering problem, prevalence of radiation-poisoned deaths:

The ashes of half a dozen unidentified laborers ended up at a Buddhist temple in this town just north of the crippled Fukushima nuclear plant. Some of the dead men had no papers, others left no emergency contacts. Their names could not be confirmed and no family members had been tracked down to claim their remains. They were simply labeled “decontamination troops” — unknown soldiers in Japan’s massive cleanup campaign to make Fukushima livable again five years after radiation poisoned the fertile countryside,” Mari Yamaguchi, Fukushima ‘Decontamination Troops’ Often Exploited, Shunned, AP & ABC News, Minamisona, Japan, March 10, 2016.

And, here’s another:

It’s a real shame that the authorities hide the truth from the whole world, from the UN. We need to admit that actually many people are dying. We are not allowed to say that, but TEPCO employees also are dying. But they keep mum about it,” Katsutaka Idogawa, former mayor of Futaba (Fukushima Prefecture), Fukushima Disaster: Tokyo Hides Truth as Children Die, Become Ill from Radiation – Ex-Mayor, RT, April 21, 2014.

And, one more:

Mako Oshidori, director of Free Press Corporation/Japan, investigated several unreported worker deaths, and interviewed a former nurse who quit TEPCO: “I would like to talk about my interview of a nurse who used to work at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant (NPP) after the accident… He quit his job with TEPCO in 2013, and that’s when I interviewed him… As of now, there are multiple NPP workers that have died, but only the ones who died on the job are reported publicly. Some of them have died suddenly while off work, for instance, during the weekend or in their sleep, but none of their deaths are reported.”

Not only that, they are not included in the worker death count. For example, there are some workers who quit the job after a lot of radiation exposure… and end up dying a month later, but none of these deaths are either reported, or included in the death toll. This is the reality of the NPP workers,” (The Hidden Truth about Fukushima by Mako Oshidori, delivered at the international conference Effects of Nuclear Disasters on Natural Environment and Human Health held in Germany, 2014 co-organized by International Physicians for Prevention of Nuclear War).

Still and all, PM Abe insists upon fireside chats with pro-nuke campers whilst reopening nuclear power plants even though Japan survived just fine for five years without. He appears to have ants in his pants, pushing hard to restart the ole nuke plants A-SAP.

Meanwhile, in another universe, former PM Koizumi supports the lawsuit of U.S. sailors aboard the USS Ronald Reagan that participated in Operation Tomodachi, providing humanitarian relief after the March 11th Fukushima meltdowns. Allegedly, they were assured that radiation levels were okay!

There is no excuse for Tokyo Electric Power Co. not to give the 400 U.S. sailors and marines who are now suing the company the proper facts. Things are looking especially good for the plaintiffs now that former Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi is backing the lawsuit over the Fukushima radiation,” Support for U.S. Sailor’s Tepco Suit, The Japan Times, June 17, 2016.

Undoubtedly, Koizumi was convinced to help the sailors because they now suffer from radiation poisoning. He said: ‘Those who gave their all to assist Japan are now suffering from serious illness. I can’t overlook them,” Ibid.

According to lawyers representing the sailors, Charles Bonner & Cabral Bonner & Paul Garner, Esq., Sausalito, CA, seven sailors have already died, including some from leukemia.

With passage of time, the number of plaintiffs and numbers of deaths grows as the latency effect of radiation sets in. Thus, over time, the latency effect works against the pro-nuclear squawk talk that “all’s clear.”

Initially, the lawsuit represented less than 200 sailors but over time, the latency effect brings forward 400 sailors claiming radiation-poison complications, including leukemia, ulcers, gall bladder removal, brain cancer, brain tumors, testicular cancer, uterine bleeding, thyroid illness, stomach ailments, and premature deaths. These are youngsters.

The lawsuit process has been exacting for the young sailors: “Lindsey Cooper, for example. The woman who started the whole thing was torn apart on a CNN program by atomic energy experts and was later mocked on conservative radio shows,” Alexander Osang, Uncertain Radiological Threat: US Navy Sailors Search for Justice After Fukushima Mission, Spiegel Online International, Feb. 5, 2015.

As it happens, it’s not disasters that turn people’s stomachs as much as cover-ups and lying, bringing forth cynicism, contempt, and ultimately populist blowback as people get fed up with establishment politics.

It is very likely that, similar to American populist blowback, Japan will meet the same fate.

On second thought:

There is one thing that really surprised me here in Europe. It’s the fact that people here think Japan is a very democratic and free country.” (Mako Oshidori, director/Free Press Corporation/Japan, speech in Germany)

http://www.counterpunch.org/2016/06/21/fukushima-311-breeds-cynicism/

 

June 21, 2016 Posted by | Fukushima 2016 | , , , | Leave a comment

Former Prime Minister Koizumi backs U.S. sailors suing over Fukushima radiation

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Former Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi speaks at a news conference Tuesday in Carlsbad, California.

CARLSBAD, CALIFORNIA – Former Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi said Tuesday he stands behind a group of former U.S. sailors suing the operator of the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant, who claim health problems they now suffer were caused by exposure to radiation after three reactors melted down in the days after a devastating earthquake and tsunami in March 2011.

Koizumi made the remarks at a news conference in Carlsbad, California, with some of the plaintiffs in a lawsuit brought in the United States in 2012 against plant operator Tokyo Electric Power Co., which has renamed itself Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings Inc.

The plaintiffs include crew members of the U.S. aircraft carrier Ronald Reagan, which provided humanitarian relief along the tsunami-battered coastline in a mission dubbed Operation Tomodachi.

“Those who gave their all to assist Japan are now suffering from serious illness. I can’t overlook them,” Koizumi said.

The former premier spent Sunday through Tuesday meeting with roughly 10 of the plaintiffs, asking about the nature of the disaster relief they undertook and about their symptoms.

“I learned that the number of sick people is still increasing, and their symptoms are worsening,” he told the news conference.

Koizumi called on those in Japan, both for and against nuclear power, to come together to think of ways to help the ailing U.S. servicemen.

The group of about 400 former U.S. Navy sailors and Marines alleges the utility, known until recently as Tepco, did not provide accurate information about the dangers of radioactive material being emitted from the disaster-struck plant.

This led the U.S. military to judge the area as being safe to operate in, resulting in the radiation exposure, the group claims.

One of the plaintiffs at the news conference, Daniel Hair, said Koizumi’s involvement made him feel for the first time that Japan is paying serious attention to their plight.

According to lawyers for the group, seven of its members have died so far, including some from leukemia.

Koizumi, who served as prime minister between 2001 and 2006, came out in opposition to nuclear power in the wake of the 2011 disaster. He has repeatedly urged the administration of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe to halt its efforts to restart dormant reactors across Japan.

http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2016/05/18/national/former-prime-minister-koizumi-backs-u-s-sailors-suing-over-fukushima-radiation/

May 18, 2016 Posted by | Fukushima 2016 | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Mayor blasts nuclear power to students visiting from Taiwan

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Minami-Soma Mayor Katsunobu Sakurai discusses the city’s experiences after the Fukushima nuclear disaster before Taiwanese students and teachers in Minami-Soma, Fukushima Prefecture, on May 17

MINAMI-SOMA, Fukushima Prefecture–The mayor here has lamented to visiting Taiwanese students how the Fukushima nuclear catastrophe tore his city apart, with 27,000 residents still unable to return to their homes.

Mayor Katsunobu Sakurai went on to blast nuclear energy in an impassioned speech to the 30 visiting students and their teachers on May 17.

“Putting money ahead of people’s lives is totally unacceptable,” he said.

“I was moved by his speech because he is very concerned about the welfare of children,” a 16-year-old girl said, adding that she is worried about nuclear power plants in Taiwan.

Other students said they were able to grasp the enormity of the 2011 disaster at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant and the city’s efforts to rebuild after Sakurai’s ardent talk.

Sakurai told the students, who are on a school trip from Dali High School in Taipei, that even five years on “27,000 residents including many children are still displaced” and that some elderly citizens died while being evacuated.

The mayor said that the terrible damage was not simply limited to the leakage of radioactive material, and emphasized that nuclear disasters had great potential for driving families apart and destroying local communities.

“Many local leaders tend to refrain from saying this, but I am making a strong plea to the central government, the business circles and the world that nuclear power plants are not needed because (if there is an accident) it can totally ruin people’s lives,” he said.

In replying to a question about the city’s radiation levels, Sakurai reassured the student that readings are now “low enough.” He went on to discuss efforts to decontaminate the local communities and the substantial effort required to rebuild them.

But he added that the municipal government is still monitoring radioactivity in tapping water and food products.

“The fact that we need to conduct such checks even today is unusual,” he said.

Asked about Minami-Soma residents’ reactions to restarting nuclear plants in Japan despite the Fukushima disaster, the mayor said, “An overwhelming majority are against the move to resume the operation of nuclear facilities.”

Minami-Soma is situated between 10 and 40 kilometers from the crippled plant, which stands to the city’s south.

The southern part of the city was designated part of the 20-km “no-entry” zone after the nuclear accident, forcing its residents to evacuate.

At one time, the city, whose population stood at 72,000 before the nuclear accident, had only 10,000 people left because of the evacuation order and voluntary evacation by the residents.

http://www.asahi.com/ajw/articles/AJ201605180045.html

May 18, 2016 Posted by | Fukushima 2016 | , | Leave a comment