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The Fukushima Decontamination, Waste Storage, Processing and Recycling Utopia

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In Fukushima Prefecture, large quantities of contaminated soil and waste have been generated from decontamination activities. Currently, it is difficult to clarify methods of final disposal of such soil and waste. Until final disposal becomes available, it is necessary to establish an Interim Storage Facility (ISF) in order to manage and store soil and waste safely.

The only solution proposed is a storage facility of 16 km2 around the Fukushima plant for a period of 30 years. After that, time will tell, because the problems are endless.

The following materials generated in Fukushima Prefecture will be stored in the ISF.

1. Soil and waste (such as fallen leaves and branches) generated from decontamination activities, which have been stored at the Temporary Storage Sites.

2. Incineration ash with radioactive concentration more than 100,000 Bq/kg.

It is estimated that generated soil from decontamination will be approx. 16 ~22 mil. m3 after the volume reduction incineration, estimated value based on the decontamination implementation plan of July 2013. (Ref: approximately 13~18 times as much as the volume of Tokyo Dome (1.24 mil. m3) .


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Transportation to Stock Yards

In order to confirm safe and secure delivery towards the transportation of a large amount of decontamination soil, MOE implemented the transportation approx. 1,000m3 each from 43 municipalities in Fukushima Prefecture from 2015-2016.

Actual achievement in 2016 as of July 30, 2016

Stored volume: 13,384m3 (58,766m3 in total)

Stock yards in Okuma: 4,883m3; stock yards in Futaba: 8,501m3

* Calculated on the assumption that the volume of a large bag is 1m3

Total number of trucks used: 2,279 (9,808 in total)

Stock yards in Okuma: 815 trucks; stock yards in Futaba:1,464 trucks


To construct facilities, it will need comprehensive area and 2/3 will be assumed to be used for facilitation. The possible volume for installation is to be 10,000m3/ha and 140,000m3/5ha for a storage facility, and will be installed from TSS to ISF sequentially.

Approximate period from contract with operators to ISF operation: 3months for TSS, 6months for delivery & classification, 12months for storage, 18months for incineration.

On the premise that infrastructure construction on roads for Okuma and Futaba IC would proceed as planned, the maximum volume of possible transportation is estimated: 2millions m3 /y before the operation of both IC, 4millions m3/y after Okuma IC & before Futaba IC, 6 millions m3/y after the both ICs operation.

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Landowners are still reluctant to sell their land to put the waste. In late September 2016, according to the official data of the Ministry of Environment, only 379 owners out of 2360 had signed a contract. This represents an area of 144 ha, or about 9% of the total project.



The town of Okuma, is almost entirely classified as “difficult to return”zone, therefore it intends to offer all its municipal land to put the waste. This represents 95 hectares, or about 10% of land considered in the town. This includes schools, the Fureai Park with some sports grounds … The town has not yet decided whether it would sell or would lease its land.

Meanwhile, it is an abandoned village:



The Joban railway line was partially destroyed by the tsunami, as here in Tomioka:


Destroyed Tomioka train station and sorting facility for radioactive waste

Some parts have reopened, but not in the most contaminated areas; between Tatsuta and Namie. Japan Railway wants to fully reopen the railway before 2020, avoiding the coast. Decontamination should produce 300,000 m3 of radioactive waste. The radioactive waste bags are along the railway, but they will need to be take them away. The Environment Ministry is negotiating with landowners owning the land beside the railway, but this is not enough because few responded favorably. So it’s a game of musical chairs that is planned: use the lands where some waste is right now after they’ll freed by the transfer of the waste to the storage center located around the Fukushima Dai-ichi.

Meanwhile, the waste is piling up everywhere:


Radioactive waste in Iitate

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Valley of radioactive waste in Iitate mura

This storage was not expected to last as long, which is not without causing problems because the bags do not hold. Here in Tomioka, weeds grow back:


The equivalent of the Court of Accounts of Japan went to inspect some of these sites and found other problems, according to the Asahi. Those who receive contaminated soil, are elevated in the center so that the water flows over the edges where it can be harvested and controlled because the bags are not waterproof. There are up to 5 levels. With time and the weight of waste, a hollow that may appear in the center, and contaminated water accumulates there. Monitoring is difficult or impossible. See diagram of Asahi:



It is not normal that the Nuclear Regulatory Authority, the NRA does not control these storage sites for radioactive waste.

Regarding the waste from the decommissioning of nuclear power plants, the NRA wants to bury the most contaminated within 70 meters for 100 000 years. This is essentially reactor control rods. Utilities would bear responsibility for 300 to 400 years. They have not yet found where to have the sites … Read Asahi for more.

The government relies on the radioactive decay for these wastes to pass below the 8000 Bq / kg to be downgraded and utilized …

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October 25, 2016 Posted by | Fukushima 2016 | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Where is the Responsibility of the Government and TEPCO?

It is up to each individuals to a carry glass badge to measure and avoid the irradiation. It is up to them to choose food. Now it is up to them to treat the nuclear waste.

Where is the responsibility of the government and TEPCO?



Special workshop to learn how to treat the waste resulting from the accident.
It takes only one day
No charge for the workshop and documents.

Open the black bags.
Separate the waste items.
Then break, burn or bury.

At Iwaki city: December 7th 2016
At Fukushima city: December 20th 2016
At Kôriyama city: January 24th 2017

Open to the people who:
Plan to return to the zone where the evacuation order has been or will be lifted or plan to get a job there;
Plan to get a job in 12 evacuated localities in the future ( Tamura city, Minamisoma city, Kawamata town, Hirono town , Naraha town, Tomioka town, Kawauchi village, Okuma town, Futaba town, Namie town, Katsurao village, Iitate village );
Plan to create firms in the 12 evacuated localities;
Are 18 years or older and;
Not belonging to a Yakuza organization

October 14, 2016 Posted by | Fukushima 2016 | , , , | Leave a comment

News Navigator: How far has decontamination progressed in Fukushima?



The Mainichi Shimbun answers some common questions readers may have about the decontamination of areas that were heavily exposed to radiation in the nuclear crisis at the Fukushima No. 1 Nuclear Power Plant.

Question: What is the situation right now with the decontamination of areas that were exposed to radioactive materials in the Fukushima nuclear incident, where residents were ordered to evacuate?

Answer: In April 2012, areas that were under evacuation orders were separated into three categories based on annual radiation exposure dosages. Decontamination work has not been carried out in areas of the Fukushima Prefecture towns of Okuma, Futaba, Namie, Tomioka, and the prefectural villages of Iitate and Katsurao and the city of Minamisoma — classified as “difficult-to-return zones” with annual radiation exposure dosages topping 50 millisieverts — save for a few areas that were decontaminated on a trial basis.

Meanwhile, in “restricted residence zones,” where the annual radiation exposure dosage is between 20 and 50 millisieverts, and in “preparing for lifting of evacuation order zones,” which have annual radiation exposure dosages of 20 millisieverts or lower, the government is aiming to have decontamination completed by March 2017.

Q: Why haven’t “difficult-to-return zones” been decontaminated?

A: In addition to the fact that all residents had evacuated, it was determined immediately after the disaster broke out that decontamination efforts would be ineffective because of the high levels of radiation there. However, radiation has the property of decreasing as time passes. Indeed, according to measurements taken by an airplane that was released by the Nuclear Regulation Authority in February this year, radiation levels had gone down significantly. And in some areas, where decontamination was attempted on a trial basis, there was some success.

Q: How much does radiation go down through the decontamination process?

A: According to the Environment Ministry, in a trial decontamination of the Akougi district in Namie, Fukushima Prefecture — designated a “difficult-to-return zone” — radiation levels went down by half. However, a ministry official explains that radiation levels there cannot be brought down to zero because even if the area is decontaminated, radiation seeps in via rain and other means.

Q: What is done with the waste that results from decontamination?

A: The Environment Ministry estimates that 16 million to 22 million cubic meters of radioactively contaminated waste will result from decontamination work. That waste will be stored temporarily in municipalities in Fukushima Prefecture, then transported to interim storage facilities in the prefectural towns of Okuma and Futaba. However, only 5 percent of the entire land area needed for storing radioactive waste had been secured as of late July. (Answers by Hanayo Kuno, Science and Environment News Department)

September 5, 2016 Posted by | Fukushima 2016 | , , , , | Leave a comment

Fukushima Disaster’s Victims

I decided to translate this particular article because this article for a change talks about the Fukushima disaster victims and in details how their everyday lives have been affected.
In most of the Fukushima related articles from websites and mainstream media, the writers usually focus on the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant and its technical failures, about its continuous leaking into the Pacific ocean etc. but somehow they almost always forget to talk about the plight of the victims, the victims who are at the forefront of this tragedy.

August 12, 2016

Article written by Evelyne Genoulaz, from a lecture given by Kurumi Sugita,

translated by Dun Renard.

Source : Fukushima Blog de Pierre Fetet

March 11, 2016, Kurumi Sugita, social anthropologist researcher and founding president of the association “Our Far Neighbors 3.11”, gave a lecture entitled “Fukushima disaster’s lives” in the Nature and Environment House (MNEI) in Grenoble, Isere, an inaugural lecture for the commemoration of the “Chernobyl, Fukushima disasters”.

The speaker outlined the concrete and current situation of the victims of the Fukushima disaster, particularly on health issues. Attached to Japan, committed, Kurumi monitored the situation of 60 affected people, for several years, visiting each once a year to collect field data for her associative actions. It is the project “DILEM”, “Displaced and Undecided Left to Themselves”, from the nuclear accident in Japan – the life course and geographical trajectory of the victims outside of the official evacuation zone.

I offer a written return of this conference, courtesy of Kurumi who also was kind enough to add data to date on her return from Japan in June 2016.
Evelyne Genoulaz


I. The contaminated territories

After the disaster the authorities declared a state of emergency and to this day Japan is still “under that declaration of a nuclear emergency state (genshiryoku kinkyu Jitai sengen).” But over time, the zoning of the contaminated territories has been increasingly reduced by the authorities, as shows the chronological overview on these maps (METI).





II. The return policy

Starting this month of March 2016, in fact, many areas were “open”. The return to TOMIOKA is programmed by authorities after April 2017; OKUMA partially in 2018. Only FUTABA is labeled “no projection”. Do note that zoning maps were delineated at the beginning of the disaster zoning by concentric circles, while the radioactivity is deposited in “leopard spots” and today, programmed to be returned to areas are gradually getting geographically closer to the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant even though these areas are dangerous!

The government is preparing to lift the evacuation order at 20 mSv / year, and areas from 20 to 50 mSv / year will enter the opening schedule after spring 2017 establishing strategic points for reconstruction ( fukkô Kyoten).

To speak only of Iitate, which was the most beautiful village in Japan, its mayor is in favor of return, but today the situation there is poignant: it was decontaminated up to 20 meters of the houses, but as it is surrounded by mountains and forests, the radioactivity will remain dangerous …

Measures delegated to individuals

The control measurement of environmental radioactivity will now be based on the individual rather than on space. Thus, everyone is invited to measure himself or herself, to measure what is consumed, so that if the individual is contaminated it will only be blamed upon his or her own negligence!

The absurd and arbitrary at work in the calculation of dose rates

Official figures on the geographical contamination, dose rates displayed, are using a biased calculation.

Usually to measure in the field a dose rate, we get a figure in mSv / h then multiply it by 24 (hours) x 365 (days) to obtain the annual rate. But this is not the calculation undertaken by the authorities.

The authorities makes first a difference between the level of contamination on one hand inside the housing, and on the other hand on the outside. They decided to consider that an individual spends only 8 hours outside. It is also estimated (official rules) that “the radiation inside a building is reduced to 40% of the radiation reading outside.”

Yet, in Minamisoma for example, studies have shown that the contamination inside was at best 10% lower than the outside, sometimes even worse inside!

That is to say that the authorities uses a biased calculation that ultimately determines if we take an example, a dose rate of 20 mSv / year whereas the actually measured dose rate is 33 mSv / year!

Residents who did not evacuate are distressed because they now know fear, for example those of Naraha who no longer recognize their city because it has changed since the disaster: vandalism, insecurity soon as night falls, since it is now black in the streets, some girls were abused …

Furthermore, Naraha is a coastal town with a seaside road and all night – especially at night – they hear the noise of the incessant and disturbing road traffic of the trucks loaded with radioactive waste, without knowing precisely what is carried …

What motivates the return policy? According to Kurumi Sugita, in view of the Olympic Games coming to Japan in 2020, the government pursues a staistics dependent objective: it comes to lowering the numbers! If the evacuees or the self-evacuees leave the “assisted housing”, they are no longer counted as “evacuees”….

III. Works and Waste

The whole territory of Fukushima Prefecture today is littered with waste bags. Everywhere, at the turn of any road you’ll encounters mountains of waste bags, sometimes piled up so high! It is a sorry sight for the residents. And space lacks where to store them, so much that the authorities have even created dumps that they call “temporary intermediary storage areas! “


A “temporary intermediary storage area” in Iitate

A row of uncontaminated sandbags is added around the perimeter of the “square” of the most contaminated bags, so as to reduce the number of the dose rate!

As of March 2016, there were no less than 10 million bags and 128,000 temporary dumpsites in Fukushima Prefecture. Waste bags are omnipresent, despite the residents’ distress; near schools, and even in people’s gardens.


Contaminated waste bags at someone’s house

Short of sufficient storage space, the authorities are forcing residents to an intolerable alternative: if the resident does not want to store the waste on his property, it is his right. But in this case it will not be decontaminated! The resident requesting “decontamination intervention” must keep the waste on his property! This is why we see here and there, everywhere in fact, bags near buildings or in private homes.

Waste incineration

According to the “Nuclear Reactor Regulation Law” (Genshiro tô kiseihô), the recycling threshold of “nuclear waste” is 100 Bq / kg. However, on June 30, 2016, the Ministry of Environment has officially decided to “reuse” waste below 8000 Bq / kg (1).

In practical terms, this waste will be used in public works, covered by cement and land in order to lower the ambient radioactivity.

In order to “reduce the volume” of waste, “temporary incinerators” were built to incinerate nuclear waste and to “vaporize” cesium.


Map of Fukushima prefecture showing the nuclear waste processing establishments locations (shizai-ka center) – Legend: the icons differentiate the various incinerators; red = in operation – blue = under construction – gray / yellow = planned – gray = operation completed

Everywhere on village outskirts there are incinerators of which people know nothing! They often operate at night for two to three months and then everything stops. People wonder what is being burned… Not to mention a rumor about a secret experimentation center where much more contaminated waste would be burned…

Even more frightening, waste processing plants …


At the “Environmental Design Centre”, a poster about the revolving furnace” which decontaminates waste, debris, soil, etc, transforming them into cement”.

For example, the Warabidaira waste processing plant located in the village of Iitate or the Environment Creation Center (Kankyô Sôzô Center) opened in July 2016 in the town of Miharu, treat contaminated waste (ashes above 100 000 Bq/kg) and contaminated soil coming from land decontamination work.

Now these last two categories are not covered by the Waste Management Law (1) so they have no constraints associated with their treatment… To reduce their volume and to make them … “recyclable”!

In addition, these establishments are registered as “research institutes” and, as such, they are exempt from the building permit application commonly mandated in the framework of the waste management law!

We see inconsistencies and even contradictions between laws. We have already seen the contradiction between the limit of 100 Bq / kg set by the Nuclear Reactor Regulation Law and the 8000 Bq / kg recently adopted by the Ministry of Environment.

IV. Residents, displaced and returned

Citizen radiation measuring. Mothers, and also dads, explore the everyday environment to identify hot spots so as to modify if necessary the route recommended for children, for example “the way to school” (as in Japan all children walk single file).

For that purpose associations use “hot spot finders”. Well aware of the health risk to which children are exposed, they attach sensors connected to GPS on their strollers to walk routes and the way to school or to explore parks.

That system is well thought out: it is a vertical rod 1 meter long that leaves the ground and consists of a measuring device at 10 cm from the ground, another one at 50 cm, and a third at 1 meter to take into account the different sizes of children. If a hot spot is located, others are warned of its location and the children are required to change their route, and authorities are asked to decontaminate. For parents, this work is endless …


Hot spot finders

People organize citizen actions thru Internet. These independent citizen online databases are many,

and one of them is even translated into English since November 2014. It is the “Minna no Data”: ambient radioactivity measures, soil measurements, food analyzes (2).

Some associations’ logos:






V. Protest actions

The trial against the three former TEPCO executives which began in spring 2016 is the first criminal trial to take place; it could last ten years …

However, in Fukushima Prefecture, there are many other trials at different levels also taking place. For example, in March 2016, a lawsuit was initiated by 200 parents brought against the Fukushima Prefecture, to “get children out of contaminated areas.” People protest to have the “thresholds” lowered. In their opinion the issue of “thresholds” go beyond the strict framework of Japan. They fear that the thresholds of Japan will end up being generalized overseas, which is highlighted in some of the maps captions eg “against the generalization and the externalization of the 20 mSv / year threshold”. Some victims require, as after Hiroshima, “an irradiation book” (personal records) to be used for their access to treatment.

Radiation free health holiday

To send children on a health holiday is now more and more difficult, because people tend to believe that the disaster is already over therefore requests for help have become complicated.

In the city of Fukushima, for example, referring to the nuclear disaster is now taboo …

VI. Social and family catastrophe

It causes “conflicts” among neighbors (one example, one person’s place is decontaminated while its adjoining neighbor’s place is not), between beneficiaries and others, between the displaced and the residents of the hosting location (there are misunderstandings on the issue of compensations; the self-evacuated are not receiving any compensation, but the hosting city locals think they are).

So today many prefer to return their evacuated Fukushima resident card and acquire the resident card of their hosting town (in Japon you are résident of the village from which you keep the residence card) so as to “turn the page” because they can no longer bear to be called “evacuees”. They want to integrate into the community where they moved. Only older people remain unswervingly committed to their original residence; it is mostly the elderly who intend to return.

In many families of the Fukushima Prefecture men stayed by necessity to keep their jobs to provide for their families, while mothers with children evacuated to put them out of danger; but as time has passed, more than five years already, many families have disintegrated… The father visiting the family rarely, often for lack of resources, the marriage falling apart, resulting in many divorces and suicides.

Women are showing remarkable energy, they are on all fronts, openly, and even heavily involved in actions and trials, so that even the articles of the so-called “feminine” press today are often dealing with topics related to the nuclear disaster. Young women in particular are very active in the protests and rallies. This is a significant change in Japanese society.

 (1) Waste Management and Public Cleansing Law, Haikibutsu no shori oyobi seisô ni kansuru hôritsu, law N°137 from 1970, last amendment in 2001

Nuclear Reactor Regulation Law (Genshiro tô kiseihô).

“Act on the Regulation of Nuclear Source Material, Nuclear Fuel Material and Reactors” (kakugenryô busshitsu,kakunenryô busshitsu oyobi genshiro no kisei ni kansuru hôritsu)

law N°166 from 1957(2) –

English translation of Nuclear Reactor Regulation Law.

(2) – Minna no Data Site (MDS)


After his lecture, I asked a simple question to Kurumi Sugita:

Why has she founded the association « Nos Voisins Lointains 3.11 » (“Our Distant Neighbors 3.11”)? …

In France, where lives Kurumi, several Japanese associations exchange about the disaster.

But Kurumi Sugita founded on January 8, 2013 in Lyon, the association « Nos voisins lointains 3-11 » also to inform the French and francophones who do not read Japanese.

The website of the association publishes valuable and moving testimonies, translated into French.

Thanks to donations, the association helps concretely, as much as possible, some affected families in Japan. 


To know more

The website of Kurumi Sugita’s association:

You may find the victims testimonies on her Facebook page:

And general informations on the Fukushima nuclear disaster:

August 16, 2016 Posted by | Fukushima 2016 | , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Japan’s new environment minister pledges to build trust, contaminated waste storage facility in Fukushima


Environment Minister Koichi Yamamoto speaks during a group interview in Tokyo on Friday.

Newly appointed Environment Minister Koichi Yamamoto said Friday he will further efforts to build trust with people in Fukushima Prefecture to facilitate a stalled project to build a temporary nuclear storage facility.

The 2011 triple meltdown at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant has contaminated a large part of the prefecture while massive amounts of radioactive waste have been generated by decontamination work.

The government is planning to construct a huge temporary storage site near the Fukushima plant, but needs more than 2,300 landowners to agree to use their property for the project. So far it has only secured about 4.9 percent of the 1,600 hectares of land needed, owned by 234 people.

Although the government says it plans to store the waste for 30 years, no other areas have volunteered to host a final disposal site, leading many local residents to fear that the Fukushima site will end up being permanent.

I’m aware that getting landowners’ consent is a very tough issue,” said Yamamoto, 68, a veteran Liberal Democratic Party lawmaker, during a media interview.

Yamamoto has learned from ministry officials that the situation is improving, and hopes to accelerate the momentum.

Storing contaminated waste at the site is crucial for Fukushima’s reconstruction work, which is currently stalled due to large amounts of waste piling up around the prefecture.

Meanwhile, some landowners are reportedly questioning the government’s commitment on this matter, as environment ministers have already changed four times since Prime Minister Shinzo Abe took office in December 2012.

But Yamamoto said the ministers have handled affairs properly. “This administration has been led by the LDP, so of course we have continuity and even (if) the minister changes (often), we share the same thoughts,” said Yamamoto.

He said 99 percent of the handover information he received from his predecessor, Tamayo Marukawa, was about Fukushima-related issues. “I have to make efforts to go to Fukushima often to make stronger connections than Marukawa did,” he said. Yamamoto plans to visit the temporary storage facility on Tuesday.

The government hopes to begin construction of the temporary storage site in October, the ministry said.

August 5, 2016 Posted by | Fukushima 2016 | , , | Leave a comment

Chiba wants radioactive designation lifted from Fukushima-contaminated waste

CHIBA – The Chiba Municipal Government on Tuesday filed for Environment Ministry approval to lift the radioactive designation for waste stored in the city that was contaminated by the Fukushima reactor meltdowns five years ago.

This marked the first application in Japan seeking to lift the radioactive designation for waste tainted by the 2011 meltdowns at Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings Inc.’s Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant.

The move came after the city found that levels of radioactive materials in the designated waste are lower than the national designation standards of over 8,000 becquerels per kilogram.

At present, designated radioactive waste generated by the nuclear disaster is stored in 12 prefectures in eastern Japan, including Tokyo.

The ministry plans to judge whether to lift the designation for waste in Chiba in about one month.

In Chiba, 7.7 tons of designated waste is currently stored at a waste disposal center.

The lifting of the designation will allow the city to dispose of the waste the same way as general waste, but the city plans to continue storing the waste for the time being.

June 29, 2016 Posted by | Japan | , , | Leave a comment

Upper House Election 2016 / ‘Stagnant recovery’ hangs over Fukushima

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From The Yomiuri Shimbun, a pro-government Japanese newspaper

Large black bags piled up like stone walls are a common sight in Fukushima Prefecture.

The bags are filled with contaminated soil left over from the decontamination work carried out in the wake of the 2011 disaster at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant.

The bags of soil are being provisionally stored at about 130,000 spots throughout the prefecture, including in schoolyards and parks.

It has been more than five years since the Great East Japan Earthquake, yet these “temporary” storage sites can even be found in the city of Fukushima.

On May 28, Justice Minister Mitsuhide Iwaki, 66, of the Liberal Democratic Party held a meeting for his supporters at a hotel in the city center. Iwaki represents them in the House of Councillors.

I want to tell the whole world how safe and secure Fukushima is. The Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics in four years are a big chance. I want to show how Fukushima has recovered from the major damage it received,” he said at the meeting, drawing applause from about 250 supporters.

Posters hung around the venue read, “Running flat out toward a true recovery.”

There were about 10.3 million cubic meters of contaminated soil as of the end of last year, enough to fill eight Tokyo Domes. The government wants to move as much as 60 percent of this to interim storage facilities being built in Okuma and Futaba by the time the Olympics are held in Tokyo in fiscal 2020, to give an impression the recovery is making progress.

However, only about 2 percent of the land needed for the sites has been acquired. House of Councillors member Teruhiko Mashiko, 68, of the Democratic Party criticized the delay in moving the contaminated soil at the opening of a campaign office in Koriyama, also on May 28.

“Is the way the LDP is handling things acceptable? Contaminated soil is just being left to sit in schoolyards and parks and beside private houses,” he said.

Mashiko does not dispute the need for interim storage facilities, but since negotiations with about 2,000 landowners are moving slowly, he has proposed nearly doubling the current number of staff from 110 to at least 200 workers.

The number of House of Councillors seats to be contested in the Fukushima constituency this time was cut from two to one in 2013, pitting Iwaki and Mashiko, who currently each hold a seat, against each other. In the 2010 upper house election, Iwaki won a seat but finished second, about 2,700 votes behind Mashiko. This time, Mashiko is set to run as “a joint candidate” backed by opposition parties, so there is a much stronger sense of crisis among Iwaki’s campaign team.

At a meeting on June 5 of the LDP’s prefectural election committee, the chairman of the Election Strategy Committee, Toshimitsu Motegi, urged members of the prefectural assembly and others to join the fray.

“When two sitting lawmakers go up against each other, one must lose his seat. Treat this campaign like it is your own election,” he said.

The Cabinet of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has said the recovery from the disaster is one of its highest priorities. Abe himself visited Fukushima on June 3. If one of his Cabinet members were to be defeated in such a key electoral district, “It would be seen as a rejection of the recovery policies the government has promoted,” a veteran member of the prefectural assembly said.

The DP has its burdens as well. When the disaster struck, the DP’s predecessor, the Democratic Party of Japan, was in power, and the administration’s scattershot response confused operations on the ground. At the launch of his campaign, Mashiko apologized for the party’s track record.

“We put everything we had into the recovery, but the path was steep. I’m terribly sorry,” he said.

In a survey of 200 Fukushima Prefecture residents who were evacuated, conducted in March by The Yomiuri Shimbun, 80 percent said the recovery was behind schedule. “Even if decontamination is completed, the mountains of contaminated soil remain. Many residents say they don’t want to return,” said Norio Kanno, mayor of Iitate, which had to be fully evacuated after the nuclear disaster.

Will either party be able to accelerate the recovery that is still not being felt in many areas hit by the disaster? Voters will likely view both the LDP and the DP with a critical eye.

Final disposal within 30 years

Decontamination has been completed for almost 90 percent of the about 420,000 houses and other buildings targeted for clean-up in Fukushima Prefecture. The evacuation orders for most of the city of Minami-Soma and two villages in the prefecture are expected to be lifted in June or July. However, it has yet to be decided when the evacuation orders will be lifted for Okuma and Futaba, where the damaged nuclear plant is located, and other municipalities with high radiation levels. Storage facilities for the contaminated soil generated by the decontamination effort are intended to be only an interim solution. Legislation has been passed demanding that a final solution outside the prefecture be found within 30 years.

Numerous other issues also need to be dealt with, including decommissioning the damaged nuclear reactors.

Work on developing robots that can collect the melted nuclear fuel in the reactors has only just begun, meaning the decommissioning process could take as long as 40 years. Work on building an “ice wall” by freezing the ground around the reactor buildings is almost completed. This is expected to stop the inflow of groundwater into the site, which should reduce the amount of contaminated water that is generated.

June 11, 2016 Posted by | Fukushima 2016 | , , , | Leave a comment

To cleanup some radioactive fallout!

There are two  main problems in whatever decontamination techniques used:  wash off and scrap up techniques, or phytoremediation:

80% of the Fukushima prefecture land surface is forested mountains, forested mountains which you can neither wash off and scrap up nor phytoremediate.

Forested mountains from which the accumulated contamination ruissels down or flies down with wind and rain to the low land living areas which had been previouly decontaminated, some places have already been decomtaminated up to five times, always the contamination coming back up to the pre-decontamination level.

To decontaminate well and forever you would have to cut down those mountain forests, which is a huge surface to be cut down, a gigantic impossible work, which would as an immediate effect spread a lot of the accumulated various radionuclides and make the radiation level jump high everywhere.

With either of those techniques you quickly end up with a huge quantity of contaminated waste, which accumulates quickly and for which there is no real valid solution for disposal. To reduce its volume by incineration is still re-scattering radionuclides into the environment, as there is no incinerator filter capable of blocking 100% of all radionuclides nanoparticles.





Obviously, the cleanup process is much more involved than this, but you can imagine how difficult it is to keep all that radioactive dust from getting into everything. Phil Broughton is a treasure trove of stories and information. But, if you follow his blog, you’ll learn that he takes the decontamination process very seriously. Something a graduate student learned the hard way when they made a poorly-thought out April Fool’s prank. Phil had this to say about the tremendous task of nuclear cleanup:

…everything exposed to air, everything that rain water might wash over, ALL SURFACE WATER, must be assumed to be contaminated. Want to use that car? Wash it down because it’s got a crust of radioactive crap on it, and if you try to drive it, you just climbed inside your own moving irradiator box.

This is the hard part of fallout decon[tamination] and radioactive waste in general. Nothing makes it stop being radioactive other than time, and human attention spans and lifespans are somewhat incompatible with this. Not living in the higher dose world its very hard to contemplate the “I accept this dose for me, my children, and generations to come” when planning reconstruction.

A while ago, I did a couple of comics about how plants (including tumbleweeds) were being used to help clean up radioactive material. Here’s Phil again:

Fungi, in fact, do amazing work sucking fallout products out of the soils. Instead of having roots, their hyphae draw nutrients out of a very shallow layer and do it quickly. This is also good because fallout actually doesn’t penetrate all that deep below the surface of the soil. One of the ways we monitor how much radioactive material is left in the environment is by sampling the mushrooms that grow and plotting it’s drop off following an event. You may discover that there are new sources contributing to the environment which is to say the event isn’t over yet as there’s clearly a continuing release. You can also do detoxification this way by planting, harvesting, repeat until whatever your crop is isn’t showing any uptake of materials anymore.

Of course other parts of the environment are running on different clocks. It will take quite a while for contamination to get to the ground water and then for the groundwater to be sampled by plants that can tap that deep. Annoyingly, fungi and grasses might detoxify the upper layer of soil within a decade only to have the deep tapping trees pull it up from the groundwater and recontaminate the upper layer a decade after that with their now radioactive falling leaves.

After I drew the phytoremediation comics, the number one question asked by readers was: “So, what happens with the plants after they’ve absorbed the radioactive elements?” Apparently, it’s a very real problem that cleanup crews have to work with. Here’s what Kathryn Higley said when I asked her about the sunflowers being planted at Fukushima:

I’ve looked at the discussions on sunflowers and other phytoremediation techniques. From what I’ve read, they are able to capture the ‘low hanging fruit’, but they lose effectiveness after a couple of croppings/harvesting. This is because the residual material is more strongly attached to soil particles (such as clay minerals). That being said, phytoremediation is a relatively low tech solution. The challenge is then what do you do with the contaminated biomass? When I went to Fukushima you could see large ‘super sacks’ of contaminated vegetation just sitting on the side of the road (see photo below). These large bags have a limited lifespan (~5 years) before they degrade due to UV exposure and all your stored material starts being blown around by wind.


May 1, 2016 Posted by | Fukushima 2016 | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Level of Recyclable Contaminated Waste raised 80 Times

Japanese Ministry of the environment raises to 8000bq/kg

the level of recyclable contaminated waste,

80 times more than the current norm.



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最終処分、9割減量も=福島の汚染土、技術開発で-環境省(時事通信 2016/03/30-10:09)


(満田夏花/FoE Japan)

April 16, 2016 Posted by | Fukushima 2016 | , , , , | Leave a comment

Fukushima Daiichi Contaminated Waste to Be Recycled into Construction Materials

Japan to Recycle Waste Collected during Fukushima Decontamination

TOKYO – The Japanese government announced Wednesday it will recycle the material collected during the decontamination of the Fukushima nuclear plant for construction purposes if radiation levels are found to be sufficiently low.

The government plans to store the waste collected from the radiation-affected region and use it as construction material in places outside the prefecture in northeastern Japan, within 30 years, reported state broadcaster NHK.

According to the country’s environment ministry, residue showing less than 8,000 becquerel per kg could be used in future to pave roads, build anti-tsunami walls and in other public works.

Over 90 percent of the material, accumulated since the 2011 disaster, could be re-used if the contaminated elements are removed, according to the authorities, who are, however, yet to develop the technology to separate waste with high radiation levels.

Currently, Fukushima authorities store the radioactive waste at two depots close to the plant, which can store up to 30 million tons.

The waste will remain at these storage sites for the next 30 years, to be later transferred to a definitive storage place, whose location remains to be determined, and to be used in public works if cleared of high radiation levels.

The Fukushima crisis has been the worst nuclear accident in history after the 1986 Chernobyl disaster in Ukraine.

The nuclear plant, which suffered a meltdown in the aftermath of the earthquake and subsequent tsunami that struck the country on March 11, 2011, is now being dismantled, a task that will take at least four decades to complete.

April 4, 2016 Posted by | Fukushima 2016 | , , , , | Leave a comment

Environment Ministry presents contaminated waste disposal plan for Fukushima

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Environment Minister Tamayo Marukawa speaks at the beginning of a meeting on interim storage facilities in the city of Fukushima, on March 27, 2016.

FUKUSHIMA — The Ministry of the Environment announced on March 27 that the government expects to acquire up to 70 percent of land for interim storage facilities for waste contaminated with radioactive materials emanating from the Fukushima nuclear crisis and bring up to 40 percent of contaminated soil into such facilities by the end of fiscal 2020.

The ministry has a rough road ahead, however, since as of March 25 it had only acquired about 1.3 percent of the land needed to build storage facilities straddling the Fukushima Prefecture towns of Okuma and Futaba, and it also faces serious challenges in negotiations with landowners.

On a total of 1,600 hectares of land, the interim storage facilities will be equipped with disposal sites for contaminated soil and other materials, as well as incinerators to reduce the volume of contaminated waste derived from decontamination work around the Fukushima No. 1 Nuclear Power Plant. Delivering of the waste began in March 2015 as a pilot project and it will be stored at the site up to 30 years.

The Environment Ministry presented the projection at a meeting held in the city of Fukushima on March 27. It announced the plan to secure 640-1,150 hectares, or 40-70 percent of the areas for the interim storage sites, by the end of fiscal 2020. A ministry official explained how it calculated the figures, saying that the ministry has already contacted 1,240 landowners by visiting their homes and “there is a feeling” that they will cooperate with the ministry’s plan.

Up to 28 million cubic meters of waste contaminated with radiation that is currently stored across Fukushima Prefecture is planned to be brought to the storage sites, and the ministry expects to deliver 5 million to 12.5 million cubic meters of that to the facilities by the end of fiscal 2020. Environment Minister Tamayo Marukawa told a March 27 news conference in the city of Fukushima that the ministry plans to remove contaminated soil stored at schools and residential areas first, adding, “We’ve allowed a wide range in the projected figures (as negotiations with landowners are underway).”

Meanwhile, Toshitsuna Watanabe, mayor of the town of Okuma where an interim storage facility is planned to be built, expressed appreciation for the figures presented by the ministry to some extent, saying, “Though it appears to be a rough projection, I recognize that they at least presented the target figures.” He added, “With no goals presented before this, local residents were beginning to suspect the central government’s willingness (to put efforts in the storage project). We hope the ministry undertakes the task to reach those targets.”

A 61-year-old landowner who has evacuated from Okuma to the Fukushima Prefecture city of Iwaki questioned the ministry’s plan, saying that 40-70 percent of land acquisition in five years is “too slow.”

“I have decided to sell the land, but the government hasn’t yet shown me the amount of compensation payment,” the man said.

The village of Iitate, currently under radiation evacuation orders, is working toward the lifting of the evacuation orders by the end of March 2017, excluding areas that are designated as “difficult-to-return” zones with high levels of radiation. Iitate Mayor Norio Kanno says, “According to the ministry’s plan, contaminated waste might not be removed (from the village) for five more years. There are piles of bags filled with contaminated soil and they are preventing disaster recovery efforts,” adding, “I want the ministry to speed up the land acquisition process.”

March 29, 2016 Posted by | Fukushima 2016 | , , | Leave a comment

Land acquisition for Fukushima dump site may reach 70% by 2020: ministry

FUKUSHIMA – The Environment Ministry will likely be able to acquire about 40 to 70 percent of the site it plans to use as an interim storage facility for radioactive soil and other waste from the Fukushima nuclear disaster by fiscal 2020.

The estimate is part of a five-year road map for building the facility that was presented Sunday to a council in the city of Fukushima representing the prefecture and local municipalities.

The 1,600-hectare (3,953-acre) site straddles the towns of Okuma and Futaba, home to Tokyo Electric Power Co.’s heavily damaged Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant, where a triple meltdown was triggered by tsunami spawned by the March 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake.

If 640 to 1,150 hectares are acquired, 5 million to 12.5 million cu. meters of radiation-tainted waste can be stored there. By fiscal 2020, the ministry aims to finish transporting radioactive soil now being stored at schools or residential areas.

Environment Minister Tamayo Marukawa told reporters after the meeting that the ministry’s calculations are based on a realistic approach, adding it will continue lobbying local landowners to support the project.

To complete the project, the ministry will have to negotiate with 2,365 landowners whose property is on the targeted 1,600-hectare site. As of Friday, the ministry had visited about 1,240 of them and acquired a mere 22 hectares from 82 of them.

The negotiations are taking longer than expected due to the need to calculate official compensation. The planned facility is slated to store up to 22 million cu. meters of radioactive waste for decades.

By the end of the month, about 50,000 cu. meters of waste are expected to be transported to a provisional storage facility set up at the site.

In fiscal 2016 starting April 1, the ministry plans to transfer about 150,000 cu. meters to the site and increase the amount in stages, depending on progress with the land acquisition process.

March 28, 2016 Posted by | Fukushima 2016 | , , , | Leave a comment

Interim storage schedule set for contaminated soil

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The Environment Ministry has compiled its first project schedule for the interim storage of soil and other matter contaminated by the 2011 disaster at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant, sources said.

The ministry estimates that by fiscal 2020, it will have acquired between 640 and 1,150 hectares of land, which could store 5 million to 12.5 million cubic meters of contaminated soil.

This is the first concrete schedule the government has created. It is expected to be presented to local government officials at a Sunday meeting in Fukushima Prefecture.

If things go as planned, the government would acquire 40 percent to 70 percent of the land expected to be needed, which could store from 20 percent to slightly over 50 percent of the contaminated soil. However, it is unclear whether things will proceed as planned.

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There is currently estimated to be about 10 million cubic meters of contaminated soil in Fukushima Prefecture, which could eventually rise to 22 million cubic meters.

The national government wants to purchase about 1,600 hectares straddling the municipalities of Okuma and Futaba in the prefecture as an interim storage facility.

However, as of the end of February only 18.5 hectares, or about 1 percent of the land, had been acquired.

Still, about 960 of the 2,365 landowners have given approval for the government to conduct surveys to estimate compensation. A ministry official said, “The pace of purchases is expected to pick up.”

If between 100 and 460 hectares are acquired every year starting in fiscal 2016, the ministry’s estimate of 640 to 1,150 hectares would be reached by the end of fiscal 2020.

As land is acquired, more contaminated soil can be brought to the interim storage facility.

The ministry estimates that if 2 million to 6 million cubic meters are brought to the facility in fiscal 2020, that would bring the total amount to 5 million to 12.5 million cubic meters by the end of that fiscal year,


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

“City” of Waste: Fukushima Cleanup Now Up to 10.7 Million 1-ton Bags of Radioactive Waste



By Matt Agorist

The fifth anniversary of the Fukushima disaster was on Friday, March 11. Since that fateful day in 2011, the Japanese government and the United States have continued to deny the lingering effects of this catastrophic event.

An estimated $21 billion has been spent on cleanup efforts since 2011, including funding for a team of remote activated robots capable of going to high-dose radiation areas of the plant where humans cannot enter and survive.

However, it has now emerged that at least five of these robots have been lost to the dangers that lurk in Fukushima Daiichi’s severely damaged nuclear reactors and waste treatment buildings.

Authorities in Japan want locals to think “nothing happened,” documentary director Jeffrey Jousan told RT.

“The government prints the number of people who died as a result of the 2011 disaster in the newspapers every day. [In some other prefectures], the [death toll] amounts to 300-400 people in each prefecture, but in Fukushima it is over 8,000 people,” Jousan, a US director and producer who has been living and working in Japan since 1990, said.

“It is very telling about the situation in Fukushima. It is hard for everyone who is affected by the tsunami, who lost their homes and lost their families. But [in Fukushima], people are not able to go back home, they are unable to work because people won’t buy food from Fukushima, farmers cannot farm anymore. It is affecting people, and more people are dying because of that.

According to the Fukushima prefectural government, Japan Ministry of Internal Affairs, the Tokyo Electric Power Co., the Nuclear Regulation Authority, the Federation of Electric Power Companies and the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, the numbers associated with this disaster are staggering.

  • 164,865: Fukushima residents who fled their homes after the disaster.
  • 97,320: Number who still haven’t returned.
  • 49: Municipalities in Fukushima that have completed decontamination work.
  • 45: Number that have not.
  • 30: Percent of electricity generated by nuclear power before the disaster.
  • 1.7: Percent of electricity generated by nuclear power after the disaster.
  • 3: Reactors currently online, out of 43 now workable.
  • 54: Reactors with safety permits before the disaster.
  • 53: Percent of the 1,017 Japanese in a March 5-6 Mainichi Shimbun newspaper survey who opposed restarting nuclear power plants.
  • 30: Percent who supported restarts. The remaining 17 percent were undecided.
  • 760,000: Metric tons of contaminated water currently stored at the Fukushima nuclear plant.
  • 1,000: Tanks at the plant storing radioactive water after treatment.
  • 7,000: Workers decommissioning the Fukushima plant.
  • 26,000: Laborers on decontamination work offsite.
  • 200: Becquerels of radioactive cesium per cubic meter (264 gallons) in seawater immediately off the plant in 2015.
  • 50 million: Becquerels of cesium per cubic meter in the same water in 2011.
  • 7,400: Maximum number of becquerels of cesium per cubic meter allowed in drinking water by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

But perhaps the most staggering number of all of these statistics is the fact that the waste is being temporarily stored right next to the waterfront in a Wall-E style. The visual representation of the failure of this nuclear power plant is shocking.

Along the shore at the temporary storage site at Tomioka are 10.7 million 1-ton container bags containing radioactive debris and other waste collected in decontamination outside the plant.

Last year, a drone was flown over the ever-expanding city of waste. After watching the video, we know how ridiculous the government’s claims are that ‘we have nothing to worry about.’

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

Incineration of radioactive waste begins at Fukushima nuclear plant

Tokyo Electric Power Co. (TEPCO) has begun incinerating radioactively contaminated clothing and other waste on the grounds of the disaster-hit Fukushima No. 1 Nuclear Power Plant in an effort to reduce the volume of waste.

A three-story incineration facility has been built on the north side of the plant grounds. Every day around 7,000 people work at the Fukushima plant, creating a massive amount of waste in the form of used radiation suits, gloves and boots. Pre-disaster incineration equipment was destroyed by the March 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake and tsunami, which led to the construction of the new facility.

As of the end of last year some 70,000 metric tons of this kind of waste was being held in storage containers. TEPCO estimates that by the year 2028, 358,000 tons of such waste will have been produced, but claims it can reduce the volume of the waste to as little as about one-fiftieth of its original size by incinerating it.

Radioactive materials contained in the smoke from the incinerator will be removed by filters on the exhaust pipes. The resulting ash will be sealed in specialized barrels, and TEPCO says there will be little danger from radioactive exposure.

However, in addition to the aforementioned waste there were, as of July last year, around 83,000 tons of lumber from trees cut down to make way for tanks storing contaminated water and 155,000 tons of other waste such as power plant debris from the hydrogen explosions that occurred there. These additional kinds of waste are expected to grow to 695,000 tons by 2028, and will not be processed at the incineration facility.

While TEPCO plans to construct facilities to burn this lumber and to break down debris in the future, these are not expected to all be operational until around fiscal 2020.

March 24, 2016 Posted by | Fukushima 2016 | , , | Leave a comment