By Cole Hambleton
On Friday March 11, 2011, following a major earthquake, a 15-meter tsunami disabled the power supply and cooling of three reactors at the Fukushima Daiichi power plant, causing a nuclear accident. All three reactor cores largely melted in the first three days, but were stabilized in the following weeks with seawater. By July 2011, they were being cooled with recycled water from a new treatment plant. An official “cold shutdown condition” was eventually achieved in mid-December 2011.
In November 2011, the Japanese Science Ministry reported that long-lived radioactive cesium had contaminated 11,580 square miles of the land surface of Japan – of which approximately 4,500 square miles (an area almost the size of Connecticut) was found to have radiation levels that exceeded Japan’s pre-earthquake allowable exposure rate of 1 millisievert (mSV) per year.1,2
The Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster also produced the largest discharge of radioactive material into the Pacific Ocean in history. Fifteen months after a quantity of radioactive cesium were deposited into the Pacific Ocean, 56% of all fish catches off the coast of Japan were found to be contaminated. 3 Fishing continues to be banned off the coast of Fukushima up to 20 kilometers from the nuclear plant, where 40 percent of bottom-dwelling fish were recently found to have radioactive cesium levels higher than current Japanese regulatory limits for human consumption. Contamination levels are also still unacceptably high in the base levels of the food chain, including algae and plankton. With contamination being found through the whole food chain, scientists believe that the long-term effects on the Japanese human population’s diet will be significant.4
What Has Been Released Into the Pacific Ocean?
Many different radioactive elements are contained in the water leaking from Fukushima. Plutonium 239, which can cause death if inhaled in microgram-sized doses, is found in the released water and can bio-accumulate in the food chain leading to leukemia and bone cancers if ingested by humans. Both short-lived radioactive elements, such as iodine-131, and longer-lived elements such as cesium-137 with a half-life of 30 years, that have been found in the discharged water can be absorbed by phytoplankton, zooplankton, kelp, and other marine life and then can be transmitted up the food chain, to fish, marine mammals, and humans. Other radioactive elements, including plutonium, which has been detected outside the Fukushima plant, also pose a threat to marine life. 5
Capacity of Ocean to Recover?
The Chernobyl accident in 1986 gave scientists a small amount of information on what to expect during a nuclear meltdown on land, but the world has not experienced a meltdown that affects the ocean. 6 Scientists generally agree that oceans have the unparalleled ability to dilute most contaminants to manageable levels and eventually break down those contaminants over time.
Unfortunately, the types of contaminants released due to the Fukushima disaster are substantially different from the more common oil or other chemical spills experienced by the world’s oceans. How the radioactive materials released from the Fukushima plant will behave in the ocean will depend on their chemical properties and reactivity.
If the radionuclides are in soluble form, they will behave differently than if they are absorbed into particles. Soluble iodine will disperse rapidly. But if a radionuclide reacts with other molecules or gets deposited on existing particulates – minerals, for example – they can be suspended in the water or, if larger, may drop to the sea floor where the water is not circulated or blended as often as the water closer to the surface. 7
If the contaminants make it to the ocean floor, they may be able to avoid being broken down by natural processes for a longer period of time. This type of pollution has never been seen before so the long-term consequences are not fully understood. Scientists are currently monitoring the ocean and land contamination. 8
While most scientists believe that the ocean’s powers of dilution will eventually spread the contamination in its suspended and soluble states over time and return the ocean to normal levels of radioactivity, those same scientists do not agree on the amount of time that this dilution will require. As Fukushima continues to dump contaminated water into the ocean, for the sake of the Pacific Ocean food chain, we must hope that the dilution occurs sooner rather than later.
1 About a month after the disaster, on April 19, 2011, Japan chose to drastically increase its “safe” radiation exposure levels from 1 mSV to 20 mSV per year, 20 times higher than the U.S. limit. This allowed the Japanese government to downplay the dangers of the fallout and avoid evacuation of many badly contaminated areas.
3 Roslin, Alex. “Post-Fukushima, Japan’s Irradiated Fish Worry B.C. Experts.” Straight.com 19 Jul. 2012. Web. 6 Nov. 2012 <http://www.straight.com/article-735051/vancouver/japans-irradiated-fish-worry-bc-experts>
Fukushima seafood: radioactive cesium not detected (i.e., less than the detection limit value) in 95.0 percent of 8,502 specimens
Here’s a correction on last week’s Kyodo News report on Fukushima seafood contamination.
Kyodo said that 95% of the more than 8,000 fish tested had contamination levels that were “hardly detectible”. Japan’s Atomic Industrial Forum reports, “…radioactive cesium was not detected (i.e., less than the detection limit value) in 8,080 specimens, or some 95.0 percent of the total.”
Not detected is considerably different from hardly detectible. JAIF adds that the specimens were taken from the Pacific Ocean within a 20 kilometer radius of F. Daiichi.
(Comment – With severe “radiophobia” infecting millions of Japanese, it is imperative that popular news outlets report accurately. Kyodo News ought to post a correction.)
All Fukushima Seafood Tested in 2016 Falls Below Cesium Standard Value
After the March 2011 accident at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plants, Fukushima Prefecture has been conducting tests on fish and shellfish in coastal waters. It was revealed recently that the concentration of radioactive cesium in all the fish and shellfish collected during tests in 2016 fell below the national standard value of 100Bq/kg. It was the first time since the nuclear accident that all such seafood from Fukushima fell below the standard value in a single calendar year.
According to the prefectural Fisheries Experiment Station, the number of specimens tested in 2016 was 8,502. Among those, radioactive cesium was not detected (i.e., less than the detection limit value) in 8,080 specimens, or some 95.0 percent of the total. The last time that the reference value had been exceeded was in March 2015, after which no instances have been registered.
The inspections, which started in April 2011, include fish and shellfish taken from the sea within a 20-km radius from the Fukushima Daiichi site. The proportion of fish and shellfish exceeding the reference value has been decreasing year by year, as follows: 39.8 percent in 2011, 16.5 percent in 2012, 3.7 percent in 2013, 0.9 percent in 2014, and 0.05 percent in 2015.
Test operations are continuing in limited sea areas in the coastal waters off Fukushima, including fish species in which it is difficult to incorporate radioactive substances.
Radiation from Fukushima has now officially entered the food chain, can it be fixed?
Fukushima, as you may recall, was an accident at a Japanese nuclear complex back in 2011. A combination of an earthquake and a tsunami damaged the facility, allowing radioactive water to pour into the ocean. In fact, ABC news reported that — “The 2011 quake of magnitude-9 was the strongest quake ever recorded in Japan, and it generated a tsunami that knocked out the Fukushima plant, causing the worst nuclear crisis since Chernobyl a quarter of a century earlier.”
Since then, there have been various plans to stabilize the situation, but all have failed. Robots sent in to find the cores have failed. The National Post wrote that — “It takes two years to build them. Each operator trains for a month before picking up their controls. And they get fried by radiation after working for just 10 hours.” That’s right. In just 10 hours, the robots are so damaged, they don’t work. In fact, the article continued by writing — “The reason the robots need to get inside core is that officials need to locate the plant’s melted (and still very radioactive) fuel rods before they can plan on what to do next”.
Wait, you might be asking yourself, what about the ice wall? Well, RT reported that — “In March, (a Japanese) construction company began building the frozen wall of earth around the four damaged nuclear reactors and had completed most of the 1.5-km (1 mile) barrier. TEPCO hoped that the frozen earth barrier would thwart most of the groundwater from reaching the plant and divert it into the ocean instead.
However, little or no success was recorded in the wall’s ability to block the groundwater during the five-month-period. The amount of groundwater reaching the plant has not changed after the wall was built.” That’s right. This plan has also failed.
And while media has effectively been silent on the issue, it does pop up from time to time, such as this article in Science World Report — “(a) Woods Hole chemical oceanographer, tracked down the radiation plume in the seawater. He proposed that the (contaminated) seawater crossed the Pacific Ocean and reached (America’s) west coast.” In fact, that article revealed that — “the seawater samples collected last winter from the Tillamook Bay and Gold Beach in the west coast indicated the presence of low levels of nuclear radiations. Thankfully, the levels were calculated too low to cause any harmful impact on the human or animal population of the region.” But that is missing the point – radiation has now officially entered the food chain.
Although the article in Science World Report notes that the levels were low, it should also be noted that their samples were all the way across the ocean. What if they took a sample in other places? Surely, logic would dictate that it would become stronger, the closer one gets to Japan.
It should also be noted that radioactive water continues to pour into the ocean on a daily, hourly, and by the minute basis. That hasn’t stopped. It is happening right now. It happens while you sleep. It happens while you are awake. It happens even if no one is talking about it and has been happening for more than 5 years, and there is no plan to stop it.
In Yamada, Futaba District, Fukushima, trucks carrying waste after decontamination work, go by spreading unmeasurable amount of radiation.
The Geiger counter hits 9.99 microSv/h which is its limit!
Recovery effort? Is n’t it better to relocate the entire residents elsewhere safe? In Japan, there are many villages and small towns where they suffer with depopulation.
What they do now is just to keep feeding big contractors, not helping affected people…..
Source: Oz Yo
As a writer and priest in Fukushima, Sōkyū grapples with the aftermath of the 2011 nuclear disaster in this short story about a son organising a funeral for his father, who collected radiation-contaminated waste
Rice fields in Fukushima, no longer cultivatable after the evacuation zone was dissolved in August 2012.
Akutagawa Prize winner Gen’yū Sōkyū has an unusual vocation among litterateurs: he is the chief priest of a temple in Fukushima, where nuclear disaster struck following the earthquake and tsunami of March 2011. Both a leader and a major voice in reconstruction efforts, Gen’yū uses fiction to grapple with the catastrophe, and in this story, Mountain of Light, he imagines (perhaps even hopes for) a future of provincial ascendance and “Irradiation Tours”. In this excerpt, the narrator relates his coming to terms with his father’s devotion in collecting the community’s “irradiated” — their radiation-contaminated waste, in other words.
—The editors at Asymptote
The next time I saw Dad was at Mom’s funeral. He himself would die three years later at ninety-five—twenty-five years after our last conversation—of old age, not cancer. After my mother’s cremation, he spoke to me.
“Your ma had a hard time of it, but it was all worthwhile. Thanks to the irradiated, we managed to live meaningfully, right up to the end, and that’s no joke. When my time comes… you’ll burn me on top of that mountain, right?”
His hearing wasn’t so good by that time, so while I said “Don’t be stupid,” apparently what he heard was “Okay, I’ll do it,” although I didn’t realise this until much later. He held my hands in front of Mom’s altar and said “Thank you” over and over again… It might’ve been a misunderstanding, but that was the first time he had ever shown me gratitude.
My brother and sister-in-law had only offered incense at the crematorium, and were no longer there. He was a consultant to an electronics manufacturer, and even though he said he had a meeting to attend, I was sure they had left out of fear. I too had debates with the missus about the effects of low-level exposure, almost every night. Eventually we stopped speaking, and came to see each other as “contaminated.” We’d separated by then. And that’s when I finally realised that we were both being completely ridiculous.
I’m sure all of you will agree—I mean, think about it, academics had all these opposing theories and no one was willing to budge. Some people said that anything up to one hundred thousand times the intensity of background radiation is fine, look at astronauts, they’re fine—and then others demanded that we spend trillions of yen on decontamination to scrape off fertile soil with low-level radiation. The Hormesis and Prophylaxis camps, yeah, that’s what they were called. Both sides wanted the other to calm down and talk things through, but like me and the ex, they just couldn’t do it. You could say my divorce was the result of a proxy war, haha.
People—organisations are even worse—go to terrifying lengths to save face. The ICRP, that’s the International Commission on Radiological Protection, they of all people should’ve created spaces for discussion, but showed no intention of doing so. And then public opinion was set on throwing every last baby out with the bathwater: if nuclear reactors were bad, then all radiation was bad too. In short, no one was calm.
But as you know, after the power plant accident, it was the ICRP who recommended raising the radiation exposure limit by twenty to a hundred times of the normal value. After that was rejected, they just stayed silent, same as me and the ex. Even now I have no idea who’s right. But what’s certain is that the radioactive potassium and carbon and whatnot in our bodies emit a fair amount of radiation, with or without the reactors. Somebody weighing sixty kilos would put out, oh, five thousand becquerels or so. Anyway, the Commission never officially changed their stance on low-level exposure after that. And now we have all of you taking part in this Irradiation Tour, coming to see the mountain my old man made. Radon hot springs are popular once more, and Fukushima’s population is even growing rapidly.
What was I… oh, right—that was quite a ramble—I was telling you about Dad’s request.
For the record, it wasn’t cancer. He might’ve said “Cancer wouldn’t be bad,” but in the end he had a prolonged bout of the autumn flu and kicked the bucket, just like that.
I got the news from my cousin, and when I came back Dad was already laid out in the main room, around there. Yes, right there, where the blond man is sitting, haha. I lifted the white cloth, and saw my old man looking solemn for the first time. It was as if he’d taken off the okame mask—I had never seen that face before, honest.
I spent the whole night thinking. I recalled what Dad said at Mom’s funeral, and I wasn’t sure what to do about his cremation. But the answer soon came to me. You see, my mother’s remains had disappeared from the altar.
Since Mom died eight years ago, I’d started coming back home a little more often. I’d retired from my job, and I didn’t have a family of my own. I wasn’t that worried about Dad living alone, rather I’d come to believe his mountain may have been some kind of miracle.
On one of those visits, he’d told me about their dog’s death, and how he had buried it atop that mountain. Sitting by my old man’s pillow, I looked over at the altar and noticed that while my mother’s picture was there, her remains were not. I put the pieces together and went outside. It was a still, humid night at the beginning of summer.
The sound of insects filled the air. It was my first time ever on that mountain. I realised, halfway up, that it had become much taller than before. It was even taller than it is now, nearly thirty metres, I’d wager. As I went up the winding path, I was aware of the dosimeter packed in my bag, but you know, I didn’t take any measurements. I think my feet were a bit shaky, but I wasn’t scared of anything anymore. Dad did the same thing every day, and he lived peacefully until the age of ninety-five, just like Mom.
Now and then, I felt his presence. Staring at the ground as I climbed, in the dim light of the moon, it seemed my old man was saying “It’s okay, it’s okay” and smiling overhead.
As I expected, there were two pieces of natural stone at the top, set about one metre apart. At some point, Dad had made and maintained a grave for Mom and another for their dog up there. And that’s why this mountain is like one of those burial mounds.
Looking around, I saw the neon signs of the neighbouring town twinkling like countless stars. Of course, the stars in the sky were also countless, and so beautiful. Perhaps Dad built the mountain with the knowledge of this view. I was suddenly reminded of him saying the word “meaningfully” at Mom’s funeral. The last words I’d heard Mom say also seemed to echo in my ear: “Someone come by?”
Thinking back later, the mountain seemed to be glowing faintly that time too, but I couldn’t distinguish it from the silvery moonlight.
I went to the temple the next morning and asked the priest to carry out the funeral at my home. I had the newspapers run not just a death notice, but a full obituary too. My old man had single-handedly taken on the irradiated of this town as well as other parts of the prefecture, so I felt the public ought to know about his death. I might’ve been a little carried away.
The funeral was an incredible affair.
I was very grateful for the hundred-odd wreaths, and the not one but five priests, but this wasn’t your regular congregation—this was a mob. The prefectural governor came, five or six mayors came too. Pretty sure there were over two thousand attendees. But the real highlight came during the cremation, after everyone had gone home.
The priest from my family temple was actually very supportive. When I told him about my old man’s request, he said “Let’s do it. We’ll perform the cremation on top of that mountain.” After the ceremony, the guys from the neighbours’ association carried Dad’s coffin up the mountain. As our ancestors did, we gathered kindling, placed a board on the kindling, and laid the coffin on the board. Straw from nearby rice fields, once considered hazardous, was piled up high on the coffin. It was starting to get dark, and the fire burned beautifully, it did. By that time, the Hormesis school of thought was already pretty mainstream, so I wasn’t surprised by the hundred or so people who had stayed behind to watch from the foot of the mountain. What I didn’t expect was what happened after those people had left. I’d invited the priest into the house, and as we were drinking, I heard a massive bang. I went outside to take a look, and the whole mountain was smouldering, not just the area around my old man’s body.
That wasn’t my old man, it was the priest standing next to me.
After all, the mountain was made up of countless trees, branches, grass, all perfectly flammable. The priest probably also knew that the temperature would go up to five, six hundred degrees at most, and as long as it didn’t go over seven hundred degrees the caesium wouldn’t disperse.
“Is that true?”
“Yes, it’s okay, it’s okay, all of it will stay in the ashes.”
The priest came across as a salesman—no, I hear he used to work at an incinerator, maybe that was it—he spoke with complete assurance. I have no idea which of them first came up with the “it’s okay” mantra. Anyway, we made a makeshift table and continued drinking outside, sitting on upturned beer crates.
That’s when we finally saw it. Where the sky was turning into night, the air had a kind of sheen, it seemed to be lit from some deeper layer. It was the mountain, giving off a pale purple fluorescence. Now and then flames peeked out, smoke billowed up, but the purple aura that encompassed the whole shone with a light that would repel darkness forever. It was as if the cloud bearing the noble Amitābha had descended before our eyes.
The mountain continued to smoulder for several days, gradually shrinking and becoming more compact. And every night, the whole mountain would emit a soft light. No one knows why. All sorts of experts came and investigated the thing, but it’s still a mystery. After the usual forty-nine days of mourning, Dad’s bones were buried close to Mom’s gravestone, and since then the light seems to have become stronger, haha, but that’s probably my eyes playing tricks on me.
Look, there it is, you’ll start to see it as night falls. On your feet, everyone, and let’s ascend the Mountain of Light.
It’s okay, no need to rush. Radiation’s not as strong as it was five years ago, but there’s still plenty to soak up.
Sorry, one more thing—I said earlier that this mountain’s also a burial mound, so first, I’d like all of you to put your hands together in prayer for a moment.
Okay then, please put on your shoes and head outside. Now, now, no pushing. I know you can’t wait to get all the exposure you can, but as in all things, sharing is caring. More and more foreigners visiting these days, but I still don’t have any materials in English, sorry about that. PU-RI-I-ZU KA-MU A-GE-I-N, haha.
Ah, just look at that. You wouldn’t think such beauty could come from this world. Translucent, pure, noble, and absolutely toxic. If it were the colour of lapis lazuli, I guess it’d herald the coming of Bhaiṣajyaguru the Medicine Buddha instead of Amitābha. Wow, even the souvenir store’s neon sign is reflected in the sky—we’re looking at the Pure Land of the East here, everyone.
All right, everyone. Please follow me, single file. The staff will give you detailed instructions, please do as they say. It’s okay, it’s okay. Everyone gets the same exposure. Yes, this is the eighty millisievert course. Hey, you there, no sneaking off to get two rounds in, that’s a violation. Good grief, you guys… Those of you who haven’t changed into your white robes, it’s okay, take your time. Right, we’re heading out now, nice and easy… rokkonshōjō, the sky is clear, rokkonshōjō the mountain shines…
Translated from Japanese by Sim Yee Chiang.
For more of Gen’yū, read one of his early reactions to the events of March 2011 here, translated and published in the July 2011 issue of Asymptote.
- Gen’yū Sōkyū is a novelist and essayist, as well as the 35th chief priest of the Fukuju-ji Zen Buddhist temple in the town of Miharu, Fukushima. Born and raised in Miharu, he started writing novels while reading Chinese literature and drama at Keio University, Tokyo. His second novel, Chūin no hana (Flowers in Limbo), was awarded the prestigious Akutagawa Prize in 2001. His work, which explores the application of Buddhist or Zen teachings in everyday contexts, has been translated into French, German, Korean and Chinese. As an influential leading writer and committee member of the government’s Reconstruction Design Council, Gen’yū is currently a major voice in national reconstruction after the massive earthquake that hit Japan in 2011. His website can be found here.
- Sim Yee Chiang is a contributing editor at Asymptote. He was born in Singapore, received an undergraduate education and a master’s in English from Stanford University, and researched issues of English-Japanese and Japanese-English literary translation under the auspices of the University of Tokyo, where, seduced by the praxis itself, he now hopes to contribute to the exponentially growing mass that is world literature.
What is going on in Japan since March 11, 2011?
Radiation generated by collapse of radioactive material that is invisible to the eye pierces cells of animals and plants and human body.
In Fukushima contamination is now omnipresent, you cannot see it nor smell it, nor taste it but it is there.
And in 2016, an unprecedented public project is about to start in the world. Japan’s contamination is made visible by its 1/1000 second clicking sounds.
You can’t see it but you can now visualize the power of those radioactive disintegrations by hearing their sounds, so that the inoffensive looking becquerel per kg numbers of an invisible contamination now take a new dimension, as the violence of their power is suddenly revealed through their disingration sounds…..
A few days ago Pierre Fetet learned of a map which immediately called his attention.
That map displays at the same time precise and unsettling measurements. Not knowing Japanese, Pierre Fetet asked Kurumi Sugita, the president of Nos voisins lointains 3.11 association, to translate for him the text. She immediately accepted and explained to him what it was:
“The project to measure environmental radioactivity around the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant (Fukuichi shuhen kankyôhôshasen monitoring project) is conducted by a team of relatively old volunteers (who are less radiosensitive than youth) to perform radioactivity measurements with a tight mesh size of 75 x 100 m for radioactivity in air and 375 x 500 m for soil contamination. Measurements of ambient radioactivity and soil radioactivity are carried out mainly in the city of Minamisōma and its surroundings. They try to make detailed measurements so as to show the inhabitants the real conditions of their lives, and also to accumulate data for the analysis of long-term health and environmental damages.”
Thanks to the Kurumi Sugita’s translation and with the agreement of Mr. Ozawa, author of the document, Pierre Fetet was able to make a French version of this map, which I translated into english here below:
Map of Mr. Ozawa’s team (translation first by Kurumi Sugita, then by Hervé Courtois)
In the context of the normalization of contaminated areas into habitable areas, the evacuation order of the Odaka district of the city of Minamisōma was lifted on 12 July 2016, except the area bordering Namie (Hamlet of Ohatake where a single household lives) classified as a “difficult return” area.
Situation of the study area
The contamination map examines the Kanaya and Kawabusa areas of the Odaka district, about fifteen kilometers from the former Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant. Mr. Ozawa, the engineer who launched this investigation, has chosen the precision of the measurements, that is to say laboratory scintillation radiometers are used to measure radioactivity: Hitachi Aloka TCS172B, Hitachi Aloka TGS146B and Canberra NaI Scintillation Detector.
The originality of this map is due as much to the quality of its realization as to the abundance of its informations: it can be read, for each of the 36 samples taken, measurements in Bq / m², in Bq / kg, in μSv / h at three different soil heights (1 m, 50 cm, 1 cm) And in cpm (counts per minute) at the height of 1 cm. For those who know a little about radioactivity, these informations are very valuable informations. Usually, measurements are given in either unit, but never simultaneously with 4 units. Official organizations should learn this way of working.
The measures revealed by the map are very disturbing. They show that the earth has a level of contamination that would make it a radioactive waste in any uncontaminated country. As Mr. Ozawa writes, these lands should be considered a “controlled zone”, that is to say a secure space, as in nuclear power plants, where the doses received must be constantly checked. In fact, it is worse than inside of a nuclear power plant because in Japan the inhabitants evacuated since five and a half years are now asked to return home, whereas it is known that they will be irradiated (Up to 20 mSv / year) and contaminated (by inhalation and ingestion).
This citizen research is remarkable in more ways than one:
- It is independent of any organization. There is no lobby to alter or play down this or that measure. These are just raw data, taken by honest people, in search of truth.
- It respects a scientific protocol, explained on the map. There will always be people to criticize this or that aspect of the process, But this one is rigorous and objective.
- It takes measurements 1 m from the ground but also 1 cm from the ground. This approach is more logical because until now men are walking on the ground no? The contamination maps of Japan often show measurements at 1 m from the ground, Which does not reflect reality and seems to be done to minimize the facts. Indeed, the measurement is often twice as high at 1 cm from the ground as at 1 m.
- It acts as a revealing map. Mr. Ozawa and his team are whistleblowers. Their maps say: Watch out ! Laws contradict each other in Japan. What the government claims, namely that a dose of 20 mSv / year will not produce any health effect, is not necessarily the truth. If you come back, you are going to be irradiated and contaminated.
France is preparing for the same forfeiture, namely that ‘it is transposing into national law the provisions of Directive 2013/59 / Euratom: the French authorities retained the upper limit of the interval: 100 mSv for the emergency phase and 20 mSv for the following 12 months (And for the following years there is no guarantee that this reference level will not be renewed). These values apply to all, including infants, children and pregnant women! ” (source Criirad)
The Japanese government is asking residents to return home and abolishing compensation for evacuees. The Olympics are coming, Fukushima must be perceived as “normal” so that the athletes and supporters of the whole world won’t be afraid, even if it means sacrificing the health of the local population. It is therefore necessary to make known the map of Mr. Ozawa so that future advertising campaigns do not stifle the reality of the facts.
Data on measurements at Minamisōma
Website of the measuring team:
Address of the original map (HD)
Source : Article of Pierre Fetet
(Translation Hervé Courtois)
By Pierre Fetet (translation by Hervé Courtois)
Scientific studies conducted following the Fukushima disaster revealed little by little the consequences of radioactivity on the living and particularly on wildlife. Although published, they are nevertheless rarely circulated. This is why I would like to put a spotlight on some of them and publicize various observations which we do not hear much about, to counter the silly optimism to always relativize the consequences of low doses on life. Any dose of radiation, however small it be, has effects on the living: the ionizing radiation breaks the DNA molecules.
The feathers of birds take radioactive dust released into the atmosphere continuously by the wind. They therefore suffer permanent external irradiation.
We can see this dust by placing a contaminated bird on a radio-sensitive paper for a month. Here is an example with a bird picked in Iitate in December 2011.
Autoradiography also allows to highlight that the birds also undergo internal contamination.
Autoradiography of a bird revealing radioactive contamination in the plumage and stomach (Source Morizumi)
Yasuo HORI has also reported that some swallows Fukushima undergo depigmentation, as had already been found in Chernobyl. The Wild Bird Society of Japan also noted that the tail feathers of some Japanese swallows were not uniform.
It must be said that nests of swallows up to 1.4 million becquerels of radioactive cesium per kilogram (Bq / kg) have been found in the towns of Okuma and Namie. The nests of chickadees, were not better: 1.3 million Bq / kg.
Left: Swallow from Minamisoma (Fukushima Prefecture) – Right: deformed tail of a swallow from Kakuda (Miyagi Prefecture)
According to studies conducted by Tim Mousseau (University of South Carolina), the population of fifteen bird species living in contaminated areas of Fukushima prefecture decreases with time, with a 30% survival rate.
Another research focused on a falcon species returning in the same nest every year was also conducted by a team of scientists led by Naoki Murase (Nagoya University) at a distance of 100 to 120 km from the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant. The interest of this study is that raptors are at the top of a food chain and concentrate radionuclides accumulated by their prey. The authors have shown that the reproductive capacity of the bird was related to radiation measured directly under the nest : radioactivity affects the germline of the bird. The ability of birds to leave the nest fell from 79 to 55% in 2012 and 50% in 2013.
Another study finally published in 2015 by ASN and the Anders Møller laboratory (CNRS), focused on the total dose – internal and external – of birds.
It showed that 90% of the 57 species studied had been chronically exposed to radioactivity dose rate possibly affecting their reproduction.
Simplified representation of the level change of maximum exposure of adult birds (in dose rate) for 57 species of the bird community observed on 300 sites and four years of study. Compared to the range of variation (in blue) ambient dose rate measured on the sites and ranges (red) corresponding to various effects in birds published by the ICRP (2008) (Source IRSN)
So there are three factors that affect living organisms in contaminated areas: the ambient radiation (the dose that is received by being next to a radioactive object), the external contamination (radioactive dust that sticks to the skin, hair, feathers), and internal contamination (radionuclides ingested or trapped in organs).
The first scientific evidence of damage to a living organism by radioactive contamination due to the disaster of Fukushima Daiichi was delivered by the team of researcher Chiyo Nohara (University of Okinawa).
The study highlighted the physiological and genetic damage of a common butterfly of Japan, the maha zizeeria. In May 2011, some show relatively slight abnormalities. But the first female offspring of the first generation showed more serious defects, inherited by the second generation. Adult butterflies collected in September 2011, then showed more severe abnormalities than those collected in May: abortive hatching, infertility, size reduction, slow growth, high mortality and morphological abnormalities (Atrophied wings, curved or in excess number, malformed antennae, bumpy eyes, discolored).
Representative anomalies of butterflies fed contaminated leaves. (Source: Hiyama et al)
In 2014, Shin-ichi Akimoto (Hokkaido University) found that about 10% of certain insects, such as aphids, have malformations in Fukushima. But their survival and their reproduction remain possible.
Sorini aphid T. From Fukushima. (A) normal morphology, (B) Level 3 malformation of the abdomen (Source: S. Akimoto)
The phenomenon of white patches (depigmentation) on the observed swallows in Fukushima and Chernobyl is also found on the cows of Masami Yoshizawa, at the Farm of Hope in Namie, a town located 14 km from the destroyed plant .
A cow of Masami Yoshizawa was brought to Tokyo in 2014 to the government for diagnosis (AFP Photo)
The biologist Hayato Minamoto reported the carnage suffered by Tokuei Hosokawa, an Iitate farmer who lost a hundred horses in two years. Iitate had suffered the brunt of the radioactive cloud from the Fukushima Daiichi plant in March-April 2011.
Between April 2012 and March 2013, researchers led by Shin-ichi Hayama (Japan University of Life Sciences and Veterinary Sciences) analyzed the blood of 61 Japanese monkeys living in a forest 70 km from the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant. The total concentration of cesium in monkeys muscles was between 78 and 1778 Bq / kg. Blood tests in these animals revealed a small quantity of white blood cells and red blood cells, which could make them more vulnerable. The decrease of blood cells was directly proportional to the concentration of cesium in the muscles, which suggests a dose-response correlation. Researchers estimate that exposure to radioactive materials contributed to hematological changes in Fukushima monkeys.
Drawing by Julien Loïs
The consequences of radioactivity on animals are visible to anyone who will bother to observe what happens. In this article, I focused on some animals only (there would be other cases to develop: the population decline of the cicadas, the increased cataract of rodents, etc.). Scientists could conduct similar studies on this strange animal that is man, but it would not be politically correct.
Yet this has already been done, in Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Chernobyl. For example, studies conducted between 1993 and 1998 on Ukrainian children permitted to observe a drop of blood cells, which was related to the exposure of each child to cesium depending on the place of residence. And yet, in Tokyo, from 2011 to 2014, Dr. Mita observed that white blood cells, especially neutrophils, decreased in children under 10 years old. (Which prompted him to move and to ask his patients to leave Tokyo). But no, do not say anything, and do not look into such matter.
In Japan, the denial of the danger is a must. The only mention of a nosebleed in a manga can cause a national affair and censorship … To speak of the negative consequences of the nuclear disaster at Fukushima Daiichi is not accepted.
You must rebuild, you must forget, you must think about the future. Institutionally, only one study is accepted, the monitoring of thyroids of children in Fukushima. That study is the screen that hides the forest of lies.
And yet, despite 131 thyroid cancers confirmed in June 2016, the official Japanese scientists refuse to see them as caused by radioactivity.
To read more:
1) Scientific studies cited in this article
Low blood cell counts in wild Japanese monkeys after the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster, K. Ochiai, S. Hayama, S. Nakiri, S. Nakanishi, N. Ishii, T. Uno, T. Kato, F. Konno, Y. Kawamoto, S. Tsuchida, T. Omi, 2014
Radiological dose reconstruction for birds reconciles outcomes of Fukushima with knowledge of dose-effect relationships, J. Garnier-Laplace, K. Beaugelin-Seiller, C. Della-Vedova, J.-M. Métivier, C. Ritz, T. A. Mousseau, A. P. Møller, 2015
2) Articles and file
Everything You Didn’t Want, Or Do Want To Know About The Dangers Of Nuclear Radiation by Steven Starr, Senior Scientist, Physicians for Social Responsibility
Director, University of Missouri, Clinical Laboratory Science Program
At the Helen Caldicott Foundation Fukushima Symposium, New York Academy of Medicine, 11 March 2013
Before the 2020 Radioactive Olympics of Tokyo, the 2019 Radioactive Rugby World Cup in Japan!!!
World Rugby concluded its latest round of meetings with the Japan 2019 organizing committee in Tokyo Japan Friday, October 14, 2016 in connection with the preparation of the Rugby World Cup 2019.
The Executive Director of World Rugby, Brett Gosper, led a delegation to the quarterly meeting. Three years of the global tournament for the first time on Asian soil, Brett Gosper commented on key issues of the organization.
“We are satisfied with the way things are moving,” he said. “The budget, the planning for the stadiums … the preparations are on track and the foundations are solid. “
Bill Beaumont, president of World Rugby, who will visit Japan next week to take part of the World forum on sport and culture in Tokyo – along with IOC President Thomas Bach – is convinced that Japan 2019 will mobilize entire country.
“The Rugby World Cup will be an event for Japan as a whole,” he said. “Sport is about friendship and this tournament will be the proof with the teams, fans and the Japanese community will live the event together. Everyone is invited to participate in the biggest sporting event in the world in 2019. The host cities will benefit from significant economic benefits, but also sports and culture by hosting one of the world biggest sporting events. By working with the organizing committee, we are determined to make the most of the equipment for the benefit of all. “
Record profits were generated by the Rugby 2015 World Cup the order of £ 2.3 billion (€ 2.5 billion) to £ 1.1 billion (€ 1.2 billion) more to the UK economy through the 406,000 visitors who came and stayed on average 14 days. With 12 host cities, Japan can hope to break records.
The fan base is growing in Japan, especially because of the performance of the national team to the World Cup 2015 Rugby and Rugby 7 team at Rio Olympics Games that finished off the podium. Nearly 50% of fans believe that the Rugby World Cup in Japan will significantly raised the level of rugby in the country and 11 million say they are interested to take part. A total of 59 million Japanese watched the Rugby World Cup 2015.
We are many to think that it is shocking, disgusting and very sad that after over5 & a half years they are still putting their greed above the health of those people who would participate and go to watch these games, not to mention their own people. They should have relinquished as soon as they knew that the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster had contaminated a good third of the country.
Tokyo Gov. Yuriko Koike (left front) and Miyagi Gov. Yoshihiro Murai (left back) wave to the press as they inspect the Naganuma rowing course in the city of Tome, Miyagi Prefecture, on Saturday.
Tokyo Gov. Yuriko Koike on Saturday visited a boat race course in Miyagi Prefecture, a facility emerging as an alternative venue for the rowing and canoe sprint events at the 2020 Tokyo Olympic games.
“Based on this visit, I will start considering venues,” Koike told reporters after inspecting facilities at the Naganuma rowing course in the city of Tome, more than 400 kilometers from Tokyo. Miyagi is one of the prefectures in northeastern Japan hit hardest by the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami.
Games organizers and the International Rowing Federation had already approved the Sea Forest Waterway venue to be constructed on Tokyo Bay, but a metropolitan government cost review panel recommended last month that plan be reconsidered.
The Tokyo Olympic and Paralympic organizing committee has raised concerns that costs could top ¥35.1 billion ($337 million) even if the rowing and canoe sprint events were held at the Naganuma rowing course. But Miyagi Prefecture Gov. Yoshihiro Murai argued Saturday in a television appearance that the overall cost is “estimated at around ¥15 to ¥20 billion.”
On the TV program, Murai also emphasized that most of the costs will be for “permanent facilities” after the Olympic Games, and that the prefectural government would shoulder the cost to remove temporary housing.
Last Wednesday, Murai visited Koike in Tokyo to convey his wish to hold the rowing and canoe events in Miyagi to show the world the recovery Japan has made since the 2011 quake and tsunami disaster.
Koike had told Murai that the Naganuma boat course was an option and she would “make a comprehensive decision” after visiting the site.
The organizing committee, however, has questioned the feasibility of holding those events at the Miyagi site, raising what they said are “nine problems,” including transportation, infrastructure and costs.
Saitama Gov. Kiyoshi Ueda has also said his prefecture is ready to host the rowing and canoe sprint events at Saiko Doman Green Park in the city of Toda.
The Japanese government plans to create ways to encourage consumers to buy food from Fukushima Prefecture. The area still suffers from the perception that its foodstuffs are unsafe due to the 2011 Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant accident.
Reconstruction Minister Masahide Imamura and senior government officials held a meeting on Friday.
The officials reported that a lot produce and processed foods from Fukushima are forced to be sold at prices lower than their pre-accident levels.
They explained farmers and food producers from the region face numerous challenges, such as fewer sales routes and reluctance to buy their products.
They decided to offer benefits to consumers who purchase the food.
Imamura stressed simply advertising won’t be enough and he wants the officials to create a framework that will entice consumers. He noted giving them rewards in a point system is one idea.
Based on the data released by everyone to the Minna-san data website, a map of the soil contamination of Tokyo by radioactivity was put together.
This data is the result of measurements from 2013 to now 2016.
You can see that the radioactive contamination spread over a wide range of Tokyo.
Particularly, Katsushika district, Edogawa district, Shinjuku district, Setagaya district and Bunkyō district.
Radioactive contamination of both radioactive cesium 134 and 137 exceeding 500Bq / kg has been confirmed.
Among other locations: Inagi city/ Katsushi district / Edogawa district / Eto district / Arakawa district / Kokubunji city / Kokuritsu City / Komae City / Mitaka City / Kodaira city/ Shinjuku district / Suginami district/ Setagaya district / Nishitama gun / Ome city / Chiyoda district / Ota District/ Oshima-cho / Machida city / Chofu city / Higashi Kurume City / Higashimurayama city / Hachioji city / Fuchu city / Musashino City / Fukuo city/ Bunkyo district / Toshima district/ Kita district / Tachikawa city.
Read more at: (in Japanese)
“We forget that the water cycle and the life cycle are one.” — Jacques Cousteau
“When drinking water, remember its source.” — Chinese proverb
“Ye shall know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles?
Even so every good tree bringeth forth good fruit; but a corrupt tree bringeth forth evil fruit.
A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit.
Every tree that bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire.
Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them.” — Matthew 7:16-20, Holy Bible
Japan has an amazing food culture thanks in part to the rich volcanic soil and ample rainfall, despite the lack of spacious farms. As it stands, Japan can feed approximately one third of its population from domestic production.
If you watch Japanese TV from time to time, you will see a bizarre and disturbing fetishization of food that borders on the insane. The media and in turn consumers are obsessed with food as not only a source of nutrition and social cohesion (all for the good), but as art, fashion and status symbol, a celebration of gluttony and greed; an infantile obsession with eating for self satisfaction.
I love good and healthy food and appreciate Asian cuisine, but we eat to live, not live to eat. This social pathology affects other cultures as well as seen by increasing rates of extreme obesity especially in Western countries due to the proliferation of shopping malls, junk food and high fructose corn syrup.
How ironic then that a “high food” society like Japan would have to suffer the insult of radioactive contamination. This is not a tuna melt sandwich but a nuclear melt-down sundae.
The long-term consequences of the Fukushima nuclear disaster continue to linger years after the event. Anyone who studies Chernobyl will know that even after three decades radioactive contamination persists. Although a different type of accident occurred there, in the case of Fukushima it was three reactors that had meltdowns instead of one, and even possibly “melt throughs” referring to corium penetrating the reactor buildings in lateral and vertical outward paths.
In the days and months that followed the Fukushima disaster in March of 2011, many people became very worried about radioactive contamination of the food and water supply, especially from short-lived iodine isotopes, followed by the more persistent and harmful cesium, strontium and plutonium. There was much testing by both the government and independent researchers and organizations. Despite the best efforts of the Japanese government, nuclear industry and mainstream media to downplay the crisis, social media proved helpful in educating the public about how to reduce consumer risks.
The worst contamination occurred nearest the disaster site of the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power station (Dai-ichi) which is located about half way up the east coast in Fukushima prefecture.
When I visited Hirano town with my colleague Yoichi Shimatsu in 2013, we traveled on foot within a few kilometers of the site. We observed abnormally high levels of radiation making it unfit for long-term habitation. Decontamination has taken place there but it is not a thorough removal method and basically shifts radiation from one spot to another in the environment.
Today, if you visit the Japanese government website of the Nuclear Regulation Authority (1) you can find a variety reports on radiation levels with most reports citing very low levels of radiation. How the government arrives at such measurements is not clearly explained at the website. Are their measurements reliable or being taken in a selective manner?
The government hopes to normalize the former evacuation zone by allowing and encouraging residents to move back as soon as possible, despite their reluctance to do so.
Only 28% of Fukushima children returning to former schools….
The majority of schoolboys and girls are opting to stay out of their hometowns due to anxiety over radiation exposure and resettlement at evacuation sites (2).
The problem of radioactive contamination is not unique to Fukushima but to the entire region including Tokyo, home of millions. Recall that 60 million people were originally exposed to radioactive fallout from the accident. Japan was actually lucky because the majority of radiation blew out to sea away from Honshu, not back over the population.
While the government moves to allow wide-scale fishing off the coast of Fukushima (3), and the NRA reports minimal levels of radiation leaking from the plant into the ocean, this confidence in a safe environment is undermined by a report from Greenpeace which found “[r]adiation along Fukushima rivers up to 200 times higher than Pacific Ocean seabed.”
Riverbank sediment samples taken along the Niida River in Minami Soma, measured as high as 29,800 Bq/kg for radiocaesium (Cs-134 and 137). The Niida samples were taken where there are no restrictions on people living, as were other river samples. At the estuary of the Abukuma River in Miyagi prefecture, which lies more than 90km north of the Fukushima Daiichi plant, levels measured in sediment samples were as high as 6,500 Bq/kg (4).
The rivers and ocean are connected and one wonders why the media does not report on these worrying hotspots. These dangerously high levels are indicative of the widely scattered hotspots in the region. In contrast, I could find no reports on the radiation levels at river banks and lake beds at the NRA website, only some reports on radiation found in dust, seawater and so on.
For example, one 2014 report states:
Air dose rates in both “Road and its adjacent area” and “Vacant land lot” have decreased more rapidly than we expected considering the physical half-life of radionuclide in 32 months after the accident. Air dose rates in “Road and its adjacent area” have decreased more rapidly than “Vacant land lot” in 32 months after the accident (5).
The Culture Of Cover Up: Spiked!
A few months ago I was shopping at my health food store in central Tokyo when I was asked by the clerk if I would like to be interviewed by a TV reporter from the Asahi News. I said “sure why not.” Japanese TV often has “man on the street” types of interviews and if you put the shop in a good light, you might appear in a news “infomercial.”
The reporter asked me various questions about why I buy organic food and I spoke proficiently in Japanese about the positive benefits of eating organic food including its superior nutrition and flavor, and because it contributes to the local farm economy.
But I shocked the guy at this point when I bluntly stated that due to the radioactive contamination from Fukushima nuclear disaster, I prefer to buy food produced from as far away as possible, never from the northeast or Tokyo regions of Japan. Food from the west and far southwest of Japan has substantially less radioactive contamination.
I’m not sure if the reporter was even aware of the issue, being a “news reporter” you think he might have been. But it was clear from his reaction that this was a one hundred percent taboo topic. Perhaps because I was a foreigner I was perceived as rude and barbaric for raising it, and I knew ahead of time that by mentioning this my interviewed would not be aired, and it wasn’t.
In fact, after the 3/11 accident my regular health food shop very noticeably shifted the origin of their produce away from the northeast and Tokyo and toward the west, southwest of Japan due to consumer concerns. As for the Asahi News who are an arm of the Abe Propaganda Establishment (APE), Fukushima must only be presented to the public as a pristine location whose products are reliable and safe. A recent study reported:
According to the agriculture ministry, 260,538 food items were inspected in fiscal 2015, and 99 percent of farm products had cesium of less than 25 becquerels per kilogram. The tests showed that 264 items, or 0.1 percent of the total, had cesium exceeding the upper limit. Of these, 259 — or 98 percent — were wild mushrooms, game meat, freshwater fish and other so-called “hard-to-control items” (6).
According to this official data, small numbers of becquerels could be – probably are – routinely entering the general food supply, not to mention the issue of Tokyo’s persistently contaminated water supply which contains minute amounts of cesium.
Radiation is the new normal.
Although the majority of food is under 25 bq per kg of contamination, we don’t know the exact amount. If you multiply that small amount by the number of items consumed daily the danger to health grows exponentially over time.
It is good that Japan has strict standards on radioactive food products — the US allows 1,500 becquerels per kilogram versus Japan’s 100 — but the ubiquitous and long-term aspect of the problem is an ongoing concern.
Richard Wilcox is a contributing editor and writer for the book: Fukushima: Dispossession or Denuclearization? (2014) and a Tokyo-based teacher and writer who holds a PhD in environmental studies. He is gratefully a periodic contributor to Activist Post.
1 – Nuclear Regulation Authority
2 – Only 28% of Fukushima children returning to former schools
3 – 83 species now eligible for test fishing off coast of Fukushima
4 – Radiation along Fukushima rivers up to 200 times higher than Pacific Ocean seabed – Greenpeace
5 – Monitoring air dose rates in road/its adjacent area and vacant land lot from a series of surveys by car-borne radiation detectors and survey meters after the Fukushima Daiichi NPS accident
6 – 0.1% of food items exceed radiation limit 5 1/2 years after nuke disaster
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