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Fleeing from Fukushima: a nuclear evacuation reality check

March 4, 2018
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By Dr. Ian Fairlie
(The following is an excerpt from a longer article on the subject of evacuations after severe nuclear accidents. While this section focuses on Fukushima, there are lessons here for all nuclear sites and the likely failure of “on paper” evacuation plans.)
If another severe nuclear accident, such as Windscale (in 1957), Chernobyl (1986) or Fukushima (2011) were to occur, then the most important response, in terms of preventing future cancer epidemics, is evacuation. The other main responses are shelter and stable iodine prophylaxis. Adverse health effects would primarily depend on wind direction and on the nature of the accident.  This article looks primarily at the Fukushima evacuation and its after-effects.
When the Fukushima-Daiichi, Japan nuclear disaster began on March 11, 2011, evacuations were not immediate and some were hampered by the destructive after-effects of the Tsunami and earthquake that precipitated the nuclear crisis.
Once people were evacuated, little, if any, consideration seems to have been given to how long such evacuations would last. For example, the large majority of the 160,000 people who left or were evacuated from Fukushima Prefecture are still living outside the Prefecture. Many are living in makeshift shelters such as shipping containers or prefabricated houses.
2
Deserted town of Futaba, with ironic welcome banner: “nuclear, a bright and future energy source.”
At present, the Japanese Government is attempting to force evacuees (by withdrawing state compensation) to return to less contaminated areas, with little success. Currently, seven years after the accident, an area of about 1,000 square kilometers is still subject to evacuation and no entry orders. This compares with the area of 2,700 square kilometers still evacuated and subject to no or restricted entry at Chernobyl, almost 32 years after the accident.
Experience of the Fukushima Evacuation
In 2015 and 2016, I visited Fukushima Prefecture in Japan with international study teams. These study tours were informative as they revealed information about the evacuations that differed from official accounts by TEPCO and the Japanese Government. From many discussions with local mayors, councillors, local health groups and small community groups, the following information was revealed.
3
An evacuation shelter used by Fukushima refugees.
The most common figure cited for evacuees is 160,000, of which 80,000 were evacuated by the authorities and the rest left to evacuate on their own, often on foot, cycles and carts. It took about two weeks to evacuate all parts of the initial 20 km (later 30 km) radius evacuation areas around the Fukushima reactors.
The main reason for the delays was that many roads in the Prefecture were jammed with gridlocks which sometimes lasted 24 hours a day, for several days on end on some roads. These traffic jams were partly due to the poor existing road infrastructure and partly due to many road accidents. These jams were of such severity that safety crews for the Fukushima nuclear station had to be moved in and out mostly by helicopter. All public transport by trains and buses ceased. Mobile telephone networks and the internet crashed due to massive demand.
Thousands of people either refused to leave their homelands or returned later. Older farmers often refused to leave their animals behind or be moved from their ancestral lands. In at least a dozen recorded cases, older farmers slaughtered their cow herds rather than leave them behind (dairy cows need to be milked daily): they then committed suicide themselves in several instances.
4
A cow wanders down a deserted street in Namie. (Herman, VOA).
According to Hachiya et al (2014), the disaster adversely affected the telecommunications system, water supplies, and electricity supplies including radiation monitoring systems. The local hospital system was dysfunctional; hospitals designated as radiation-emergency facilities were unable to operate because of damage from the earthquake and tsunami, and some were located within designated evacuation zones. Emergency personnel, including fire department personnel, were often asked to leave the area.
At hospitals, evacuations were sometimes carried out hurriedly with the unfortunate result that patients died due to intravenous drips being ripped out, medicaments being left behind, the absence of doctors and nurses who had left, and ambulance road accidents. Many hastily-allocated reception centres (often primary schools) were either unable or ill-equipped to deal with seriously ill patients.
Much confusion resulted when school children were being bussed home, while their parents were trying to reach schools to collect their children. Government officials, doctors, nurses, care workers, police, firepersons, ambulance drivers, emergency crews, teachers, and others faced the dilemma of whether to stay at their posts or return to look after their families. In the event, many emergency crews refused to enter evacuation zones for fear of radiation exposure.
Stable iodine was not issued to most people. Official evacuation plans were either non-existent or inadequate and, in the event, next to useless. In many cases, local mayors took the lead and ordered and supervised evacuations in their villages without waiting for orders or in defiance of them. Apparently, the higher up the administrative level, the greater the levels of indecision and lack of responsibility.
In the years after the accident, the longer-lasting effects of the evacuations have become apparent. These include family separations, marital break-ups, widespread depression, and further suicides. These are discussed in a recent publication (Morimatsu et al, 2017) which relates the sad, often eloquent, stories of the Fukushima people. They differ sharply from the accounts disseminated by TEPCO.
Deaths from evacuations at Fukushima
Official Japanese Government data reveal that nearly 2,000 people died from the effects of evacuations necessary to avoid high radiation exposures from the Fukushima disaster, including from suicides.
The uprooting to unfamiliar areas, cutting of family ties, loss of social support networks, disruption, exhaustion, poor physical conditions and disorientation resulted in many people, in particular older people, apparently losing their will to live.
The evacuations also resulted in increased levels of illnesses among evacuees such as hypertension, diabetes mellitus and dyslipidaemia, psychiatric and mental health problems, polycythaemia — a slow growing blood cancer — cardiovascular disease, liver dysfunction, and severe psychological distress.
5
Radiation dosimeter, Japan.
Increased suicide rates occurred among younger and older people following the Fukushima evacuations, but the trends are unclear. A 2014 Japanese Cabinet Office report stated that, between March 2011 and July 2014, 56 suicides in Fukushima Prefecture were linked to the nuclear accident.
Should evacuations be ordered?
The above account should not be taken as arguments against evacuations as they constitute an important dose-saving and life-saving strategy during emergencies. Instead, the toll from evacuations should be considered part of the overall toll from nuclear accidents.
In future, deaths from evacuation-related ill-heath and suicides should be included in assessments of the fatality numbers from nuclear disasters.
For example, although about 2,000 deaths occurred during and immediately after the evacuations, it can be calculated from UNSCEAR (2013) collective dose estimates that about 5,000 fatal cancers will arise from the radiation exposures at Fukushima, i.e. taking into account the evacuations. Many more fatal cancers would have occurred if the evacuations had not been carried out.
There is an acute planning dilemma here: if evacuations are carried out (even with good planning) then illnesses and deaths will undoubtedly occur. But if they are not carried out, even more people could die. In such situations, it is necessary to identify the real cause of the problem. And here it is the existence of nuclear power plants near large population centres. In such cases, consideration should be given to the early closure of the nuclear power plants, and switching to safer means of electricity generation.
Conclusions
The experiences of Japanese evacuees after Fukushima are distressing to read. Their experiences were terrible, so much so that it requires Governments of large cities with nearby nuclear power plants to reconsider their own situations and to address the question…. what would happen if radioactive fallout heavily contaminated large areas of their city and required millions of residents to leave for long periods of time, for example several decades?
And how long would evacuations need to continue…. weeks, months, years, or decades? The time length of evacuations is usually avoided in the evacuation plans seen so far. In reality, the answer would depend on cesium-137 concentrations in surface soils. The time period could be decades, as the half-life of the principal radionuclide, Cs-137, is 30 years. This raises the possibility of large cities becoming uninhabited ‘ghost’ towns like Tomioka, Okuma, Namie, Futaba, etc in Japan and Pripyat in Ukraine.
This bleak reality is hard to accept or even comprehend. However it is a matter that some governments need to address after Fukushima. It is unsurprising therefore, that after Fukushima, several major European states including Germany and Switzerland have decided to phase out their nuclear reactors.
For the full article with references, read here: http://www.ianfairlie.org/news/evacuations-severe-nuclear-accidents/
For more of Dr. Ian Fairlie’s work, please visit his website: http://www.ianfairlie.org/
Dr. Ian Fairlie is a London, UK-based independent consultant on radioactivity in the environment.
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March 7, 2018 Posted by | Fukushima 2018 | , , | Leave a comment

Evacuations after Severe Nuclear Accidents by Dr Ian Fairlie,

evacuation_orders_and_restricted_march 2011.jpg

 

 

Evacuations after Severe Nuclear Accidents by Dr Ian Fairlie, January 27, 2018:

This article discusses three related matters –

  1. The experience of evacuations during the Fukushima nuclear disaster
  2. Whether lengthy evacuations from large cities are feasible?
  3. Some emergency plans for evacuations in North America

(a) Introduction

If another severe nuclear accident, such as Windscale (in 1957), Chernobyl (1986) or Fukushima (2011) were to occur then the adverse health effects would primarily depend on wind direction and on the nature of the accident. The main responses to a nuclear disaster are shelter, evacuation and stable iodine prophylaxis. The most important, in terms of preventing future cancer epidemics, is evacuation. This article is based on North American evacuation plans. Little is known of UK emergency evacuation plans as few, if any, are publicly available.

In North American plans, if a severe nuclear accident were to occur, able citizens would be requested to leave designated evacuation/no entry zones under their own steam and to find accommodation with family and friends in uncontaminated areas. At the same time, Government authorities would evacuate prisons, hospitals, nursing homes, care homes and certain schools.

Little, if any, consideration seems to have been given to how long such evacuations would last. For example, the large majority of the 160,000 people who left or were evacuated from Fukushima Prefecture, Japan during the accident in March 2011 are still living outside the Prefecture. Many are living in makeshift shelters eg shipping containers or prefab houses.

At present, the Japanese Government is attempting to force evacuees (by withdrawing state compensation) to return to less contaminated areas, with little success. Currently, ~7 years after the accident, an area of about 1,000 square km is still subject to evacuation and no entry orders. This compares with the area of 2,700 square km still evacuated and subject to no or restricted entry at Chernobyl ~32 years after the accident.

(b) Experience of the Fukushima Evacuation

In 2015 and 2016, the author visited Fukushima Prefecture in Japan with international study teams. These study tours were informative as they revealed information about the evacuations that differed from official accounts by TEPCO and the Japanese Government. From many discussions with local mayors, councillors, local health groups and small community groups, the following information was revealed.

The most common figure cited for evacuees is 160,000, of which 80,000 were evacuated by the authorities and the rest left on their own, often on foot, cycles and carts. It took about two weeks to evacuate all parts of the initial 20 km (later 30 km) radius evacuation areas around the Fukushima reactors.

The main reason for the delays was that many roads in the Prefecture were jammed with gridlocks which sometimes lasted 24 hours a day, for several days on end on some roads. These traffic jams were partly due to the poor existing road infrastructure and partly due to many road accidents. These jams were of such severity that safety crews for the Fukushima nuclear station had to be moved in and out mostly by helicopter. All public transport by trains and buses ceased. Mobile telephone networks and the internet crashed due to massive demand.

Thousands of people either refused to leave their homelands or returned later. Older farmers often refused to leave their animals behind or be moved from their ancestral lands. In at least a dozen recorded cases, older farmers slaughtered their cow herds rather than leave them behind (dairy cows need to be milked daily): they then committed suicide themselves in several instances (see next section).

According to Hachiya et al (2014), the disaster adversely affected the telecommunications system, water supplies, and electricity supplies including radiation monitoring systems. The local hospital system was dysfunctional; hospitals designated as radiation-emergency facilities were unable to operate because of damage from the earthquake and tsunami, and some were located within designated evacuation zones. Emergency personnel, including fire department personnel, were often asked to leave the area.

At hospitals, evacuations were sometimes carried out hurriedly with the unfortunate result that patients died due to intravenous drips being ripped out, medicaments being left behind, the absence of doctors and nurses who had left, and ambulance road accidents (see next section). Many hastily-allocated reception centres (often primary schools) were either unable or ill-equipped to deal with seriously ill patients.

Much confusion resulted when school children were being bussed home, while their parents were trying to reach schools to collect their children. Government officials, doctors, nurses, care workers, police, firepersons, ambulance drivers, emergency crews, teachers, etc faced the dilemma of whether to stay at their posts or return to look after their families. In the event, many emergency crews refused to enter evacuation zones for fear of radiation exposure.

Stable iodine was not issued to most people. Official evacuation plans were either non-existent or inadequate and, in the event, next to useless. In many cases, local mayors took the lead and ordered and supervised evacuations in their villages without waiting for orders or in defiance of them. Apparently, the higher up the administrative level, the greater the levels of indecision and lack of responsibility.

In the years after the accident, the longer-lasting effects of the evacuations have become apparent. These include family separations, marital break-ups, widespread depression, and further suicides. These are discussed in a recent publication (Morimatsu et al, 2017) which relates the sad, often eloquent, stories of the Fukushima people. They differ sharply from the accounts disseminated by TEPCO.

(c) Deaths from evacuations at Fukushima

Official Japanese Government data reveal that nearly 2,000 people died from the effects of evacuations necessary to avoid high radiation exposures from the Fukushima disaster, including from suicides http://www.reconstruction.go.jp/topics/main – cat2/sub – cat2 – 1/20141226_kanrenshi.pdf

The uprooting to unfamiliar areas, cutting of family ties, loss of social support networks, disruption, exhaustion, poor physical conditions and disorientation resulted in many people, in particular older people, apparently losing their will to live. www.pref.fukushima.lg.jp/uploaded/attachment/62562.docx

The evacuations also resulted in increased levels of illnesses among evacuees such as hypertension, diabetes mellitus and dyslipidaemia (Hasegawa, 2016), psychiatric and mental health problems (Sugimoto et al, 2012), polycythaemia- a slow growing blood cancer (Sakai et al, 2014 and 2017), cardiovascular disease (Ohiro et al, 2017), liver dysfunction (Takahashi A et al, 2017) and severe psychological distress (Kunii et al, 2016).

Increased suicide rates occurred among younger and older people following the Fukushima evacuations, but the trends are unclear. A 2014 Japanese Cabinet Office report stated that, between March 2011 and July 2014, 56 suicides in Fukushima Prefecture were linked to the nuclear accident. http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2014/08/26/national/social-issues/fukushimas-high-number-disaster-related-suicides-likely-due-nuclear-crisis-cabinet-office/#.Vcstm_mrGzl

(d) Should evacuations be ordered?

The above account should not be taken as arguments against evacuations as they constitute an important dose-saving and life-saving strategy during emergencies. Instead, the toll from evacuations should be considered part of the overall toll from nuclear accidents.

In future, deaths from evacuation-related ill-heath and suicides should be included in assessments of the fatality numbers from nuclear disasters. http://www.ianfairlie.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/08/Summing-up-the-Effects-of-the-Fukushima-Nuclear-Disaster-10.pdf

For example, although about 2,000 deaths occurred during and immediately after the evacuations, it can be calculated from UNSCEAR (2013) collective dose estimates that about 5,000 fatal cancers will arise from the radiation exposures at Fukushima, ie taking into account the evacuations. Many more fatal cancers would have occurred if the evacuations had not been carried out.

There is an acute planning dilemma here: if evacuations are carried out (even with good planning) then illnesses and deaths will undoubtedly occur. But if they are not carried out, even more people could die. In such situations, it is necessary to identify the real cause of the problem. And here it is the existence of NPPs near large population centres. In such cases, consideration should be given to the early closure of the NPPs, and switching to safer means of electricity generation.

(e) Very Large Cities: Evacuations for lengthy periods?

If another severe nuclear accident were to occur, the death toll would depend on wind direction and whether the reactors were close to large cities. For example, Pickering NPP is located 20 miles from Toronto in Canada with an urban population of ~5 million; Indian Point NPP in the state of New York US is located 30 miles from New York City (~9 million); and Dungeness NPP is located 50 miles from London, UK (~9 million). These nuclear stations are just major examples of nuclear power stations located relatively close to urban centres, especially in the UK, US, and France.

If the worst were to occur and radioactive plumes from a severe nuclear accident reached large cities, would it be feasible to evacuate them quickly, and would it be feasible to do so for lengthy periods? There appears to be little literature on these questions, but it is expected that severe logistical problems would exist with the timely evacuation of millions of residents, workers and visitors from major cities,

(d) US Evacuation Plans after nuclear accidents – viability?

In the US, viable evacuation plans are a legal NRC requirement for continued reactor operation. But “viability” has often been a contentious legal issue in the past. http://articles.latimes.com/1987-02-07/news/mn-1732_1_davis-besse.

For example, in the 1980s and 1990s, this issue was at the centre of court battles at the Davis Besse reactor in Ohio and the Seabrook nuclear power station in New Hampshire. It played a critical role in the shutdown of the Shoreham reactor on Long Island, New York state. http://www.nytimes.com/1986/11/14/us/around-the-nation-court-delays-license-for-ohio-nuclear-plant.html?mcubz=3.

After a major 1986 earthquake damaged the Perry reactor in Ohio on the north shore of Lake Erie, the then Ohio Governor, Richard Celeste, sued the US NRC to delay its issuance of the plant’s operating license on the grounds of the non-viability of evacuation of large population centres nearby. The US population within 80 km of Perry nuclear station was 2,300,000. Canadian populations would have been affected but were not included. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Perry_Nuclear_Generating_Station#cite_note-7

An Ohio state commission concluded evacuation of nearby large cities during a disaster at Perry was not possible. http://www.cleveland.com/nation/index.ssf/2011/09/perry_nuclear_reactors_risk_of.html

 (e) Evacuation plans in Canada

In Canada, the Ontario Government has been developing evacuation plans for the Pickering nuclear station near Toronto since 1980, but whether the feasibility of such plans has kept up with the significant population growth around the station over 40 years is an open question.

Their draft plans have involved many Government Departments and hundreds of individuals. See https://www1.toronto.ca/city_of_toronto/office_of_emergency_management/files/pdf/nuclear_rsp.pdf

https://www.emergencymanagementontario.ca/english/beprepared/ontariohazards/nuclear/nuclear_plan_pickering.html

https://www.emergencymanagementontario.ca/english/beprepared/ontariohazards/nuclear/provincial_nuclear_emergency_response_plan.html#P2618_168284

However, the matter of evacuation is relatively undeveloped: future detailed plans remain to be drawn up by local governments in and near Toronto. This is perhaps unsurprising given the difficulties involved, but it appears that many issues remain to be resolved. For example,

  • How long would it take to untangle traffic jams exiting the city?
  • How long it would take for drivers to reach their emergency vehicles and school buses?
  • Would emergency crews enter contaminated zones to deal with accidents?
  • What happens when residents refuse to leave?
  • How to deal with residents who return?
  • How lomg would evacuations last? Months, years,  decades?

Another issue is what happens when people, who are asked not to leave, decide to evacuate?  In 1979, during the Three Mile Island nuclear accident near Harrisburg in Pennsylvania US, evacuation requests were made for approximately 3,500 vulnerable older people, children and pregnant women. The result was 140,000 immediately fled the area, thus creating large traffic jams which impeded the evacuations of vulnerable people. (Ziegler and Johnson, 1984).

The Canadian plans reveal that, in the event of a severe accident, evacuation will be for a radius of 20 km from the NPPs (in the direction of the plume). This differs from the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission’s two emergency planning zones around NPPs – a plume exposure pathway zone with a radius of 16 km, concerned primarily with exposure to, and inhalation of, airborne radioactive contamination. Secondly, an ingestion and direct radiation pathway zone of 80 km, primarily concerned with ingestion of contaminated foods/ liquids and ground radiation from deposited Cs-137. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Perry_Nuclear_Generating_Station#cite_note-6

(f) Conclusions

The experiences of Japanese evacuees after Fukushima discussed above are distressing to read. Their experiences were terrible, so much so that it requires Governments of large cities with nearby NPPs to reconsider their own situations and to address the question… what would happen if radioactive fallout heavily contaminated large areas of their city and required millions of residents to leave for long periods of time, eg several decades?

And how long would evacuations need to continue….weeks, months, years, or decades? The time length of evacuations is usually avoided in the evacuation plans seen so far. In reality, the answer would depend on Cs-137 concentrations in surface soils. The time period could be decades, as the half-life of the principal radionuclide, Cs-137, is 30 years. This raises the possibility of large cities becoming uninhabited ‘ghost’ towns like Tomioka, Okuma, Namie, Futaba, etc in Japan and Pripyat in Ukraine.

This bleak reality is hard to accept or even comprehend. However it is a matter that some Governments need to address after Fukushima.

Wheatley et al (2017) comprehensively examined the historical records of 216 nuclear accidents, mishaps and near-misses since the mid-1950s. They predicted the future frequencies and severities of nuclear accidents and concluded both were “unacceptably high”. Wheatley et al (2016) also concluded that the relative frequency with which nuclear events cascaded into nuclear disasters remained large enough that, when multiplied by their severity, the aggregate risk to society was “very high”. It is unsurprising that, after Fukushima, several major European states including Germany and Switzerland have decided to phase-out their nuclear reactors.

References

Hachiya M, Tominaga T, Tatsuzaki H, Akashi M (2004) Medical Management of the Consequences of the Fukushima nuclear power plant incident. Drug Dev Res. 2014 Feb;75(1):3-9.

Hasegawa A, Ohira T, Maeda M, Yasumura S Tanigawa K (2016) Emergency Responses and Health Consequences after the Fukushima Accident; Evacuation and Relocation. Clin Oncol (R Coll Radiol) 2016 Apr;28(4):237-44.

Kunii Y et al and Mental Health Group of the Fukushima Health Management Survey(2016) Severe Psychological Distress of Evacuees in Evacuation Zone Caused by the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant Accident: The Fukushima Health Management Survey. PLoS One. 2016 Jul 8;11(7).

Morimatsu A; Sonoda M; M.A.; M.K.; Edited by Fields, L (2017) “Seeking Safety: Speeches, Letters and Memoirs by Evacuees from the 2011 Fukushima Nuclear Disaster. https://redkimono.org/fukushima-memoirs/

Ohira T and Fukushima Health Management Survey Group (2017) Changes in Cardiovascular Risk Factors After the Great East Japan Earthquake. Asia Pac J Public Health (2017) Mar;29(2_suppl):47S-55S.

Sakai A and Fukushima Health Management Survey Group (2017) Persistent prevalence of polycythaemia among evacuees 4 years after the Great East Japan Earthquake: A follow-up study. Prev Med Rep. 2017 Jan 12;5:251-256

Sakai A, Ohira T, Hosoya M, Ohtsuru A, Satoh H, Kawasaki Y, Suzuki H, Takahashi A, Kobashi G, Ozasa K, Yasumura S, Yamashita S, Kamiya K, Abe M (2014) Life as an evacuee after the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant accident is a cause of polycythaemia: the Fukushima Health Management Survey. BMC Public Health 2014 Dec 23;14:1318.

Sugimoto S Krull S Nomura T Morita and M Tsubokura (2012) The voice of the most vulnerable: lessons from the nuclear crisis in Fukushima, Japan. Bull World Health Organ. 2012 Aug 1; 90(8): 629–630.

Takahashi A et al and Fukushima Health Management Survey Group (2017) Effect of evacuation on liver function after the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant accident: The Fukushima Health Management Survey. J Epidemiol 2017 Apr;27(4):180-185.

UNSCEAR (2013) Levels and effects of radiation exposure due to the nuclear accident after the 2011 great east-Japan earthquake and tsunami. United Nations Scientific Committee on the Effects of Atomic Radiation . New York.

Weinisch K, Brueckner P (2015) The impact of shadow evacuation on evacuation time estimates for nuclear power plants. J Emerg Manag. 2015 Mar-Apr;13(2):145-58.

Wheatley S, Sovacool B, Sornette D (2016) Reassessing the safety of nuclear power. Energy Research & Social Science Volume 15, May 2016, 96-100.

Wheatley S, Sovacool B, Sornette D (2017) Of Disasters and Dragon Kings: A Statistical Analysis of Nuclear Power Incidents and Accidents. Risk Anal. 2017 Jan;37(1): 99-115.

Ziegler DJ and Johnson JH (1984) Evacuation Behaviour In Response To Nuclear Power Plant Accidents. The Professional Geographer Volume 36, 1984 – Issue 2 Pages 207-215.

http://www.ianfairlie.org/news/evacuations-severe-nuclear-accidents/

Another article from Ian Fairlie from August 2015 deserves another read:

https://sputniknews.com/analysis/201508201025992771/

January 29, 2018 Posted by | Fukushima 2018 | , , | 2 Comments

Fukushima radioactive contamination: Children nosebleed while asleep and also in daytime, especially after playing in the sand!

Soil contamination survey: 80% of schools have amazing figures!!
The government and Fukushima prefecture do not measure the soil contamination, and lifted the evacuation order one after another, as “external radiation dose has come down to less than 20 mSv/year.” Besides that, Fukushima prefecture closed off in March 2017 the free housing support for voluntary evacuees. “Voluntary evacuees” are evacuees who are evacuating from areas outside the evacuation order zone. The exact number is not grasped and it is estimated to be about 17 thousand people.
For voluntary evacuees, there is no mental reparation from TEPCO, which is paid to forced refugees, 100,000 yen (~1000 $) per month, so only the free provision of housing is a lifeline. Many people will not be able to continue the evacuation life if this is cut off.
Sakamoto says, “The prefecture officials repeatedly said at the briefing session for borrowed housing termination,” We do not know about contamination of the soil, because there are people living in Fukushima. ” But this contamination situation of soil extraordinary. We, the residents in Fukushima, cannot protect ourselves if our prefecture does not clarify the details of soil contamination.”
evacuation standards.jpg
In Fukushima prefecture, accurate information was not given to residents after the accident. Some people evacuated in the direction of radioactive plum, and many stayed outdoors for a long time in order to get water and food.
Sakamoto’s second daughter was healthy until the nuclear accident, but for some time after the accident, she suffered from symptoms such as nosebleeds, diarrhea and anemia.
“There are so many people who regret that they allowed their children exposed at that time. We hear that the staff of Fukushima Medical University took iodine, which was not given to residents. We never want children to be exposed. “(Sakamoto)
 
The government and the Fukushima prefecture evaluate the safety only by external radiation dose. Mr. Kono of the citizen environment research institute also alarms the danger of the evaluation.
“Since radioactive material that fell on the ground enters the soil with the passage of time, the radiation dose of the space is shielded by the soil. But it will not be eliminated from the ground and radioactive substances attached to the fine particles soar up and move. Decontaminated ground will be contaminated again and you may suck in and have internal exposure. In fact you do an exact soil survey and decontaminate the place where people live as many times as you can. If the prefecture can not decontaminate, it should give the right to emigrate to people who want to move. It is presumed to be because they do not want to reveal the seriousness of pollution that the government and prefecture do not investigate soil contamination in detail. “
 
Medical Doctor Ushiyama, clinical professor of Shimane University, and in charge of medical departments at Sagami Hospital, who visits medical sites in Chernobyl often, also said, “To judge safety only by radiation dose in space ignores the risk of internal radiation exposure when radioactive substances are taken into the body. “
 
In fact, Mr. Sawada (Fukushima-city) who found that cesium was detected from the urine of her child and she is exposed to internal radiation said:
“I was pregnant when a nuclear accident took place 5 years ago. and I evacuated to Yamagata with my 2-year-old daughter. I gave birth at Yamagata and was struggling to raise children by myself. However, since her eldest daughter became emotionally unstable and wanted to return home, I returned home in January 2014. In Fukushima city, the eldest daughter came to take a nosebleed after playing sand. Nosebleed in asleep and in daytime, and my second daughter also took nosebleed after playing outside.
Now that her eldest daughter became first grade in primary school and she does not play sand, it’s gone … …. “
Mr. Sawada says that if children have nosebleed from now on, they will think about evacuation again.
 
Mr. Endo (Minamisoma city) also talks like this.
“Radioactive dust is terrible because heavy duty trucks carrying decontamination soil and gravel frequently comes and goes back and forth around the school. Her son who goes to the nursery school is picked up by car, but her elder brother goes to
school by bicycle. I worry that my son will inhale the radioactive dust … ”
 
According to a survey group, soil contamination was 449,000 Bq / square meteron the school road in Minamisoma where Mr. Endo lives (around Ishigami 2nd elementary school) . In Fukushima city where Sawada lives, 480,000 Bq / square meter (around Fukushima Daiichi Junior High School) was detected. Ushiyama mentioned that Both the contamination is the value corresponding to the “move rights area” in Belarus ‘(Chernobyl).
 
“Even a trace amount of radioactive substances taken into the body continue to emit radiation irradiate the organs within the body until it is discharged. It いsl be difficult to get out when the radioactive substance enters the lungs. I heard from a Belarusian doctor that there is a possibility that bladder cancer increased by excretion of radioactive substance in the urine. The accumulation in genital organs is also concerned about the influence on the next generation. , It has also been reported that the abnormality worsened if insects are grown with bait contaminated with radioactive materials. “
 
Mothers are exhausted by the irresponsible constitution of the government and the prefecture and the social pressures that force to consider “Don’t worry, Fukushima accident never happened, everything is all right.”
Terumi Kataoka who told me the story that removed the slide says.
“Aizu is believed to have little pollution, but it depends on the location.In Aizu Wakamatsu City, the mayor has declared the safety declaration earlier so it is not even decontaminated.If you want the mayor to decontaminate previously If we asked, “Although tourists are returning, if we decontaminate now, both original and child will be lost” was rejected ”

December 19, 2017 Posted by | Fukushima 2017 | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Evacuating a nuclear disaster areas is (usually) a waste of time and money, says study

This study is corrupted science, on the payroll of the nuclear lobby, to justify future ‘radiation safety’ limits increases.In Japan, after the Fukushima Daiichi the radiation ‘tolerance’ threshold was raised from 1mSv/per year to 20mSv/per year, which is the radiation ‘tolerance’ threshold for nuclear plant workers in the other countries. The nuclear lobby would like to raise further all today’s radiation ‘tolerance’ thresholds.
Which radiation risk model did they use? ICRP, I bet, which is silent on inhaled and ingested radioactivity, and underestimates risk of congenital defects by 10,000 times. If you care about the children run like hell and don’t look back. That was Professor Alexey Yablokov’s advice and it still stands with abundant studies made in the past 30 years to back it up.
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Evacuating a nuclear disaster areas is (usually) a waste of time and money, says study
Over 110,000 people were moved from their homes following the Fukushima nuclear disaster in Japan in March 2011. Another 50,000 left of their own will, and 85,000 had still not returned four-and-a-half years later.
While this might seem like an obvious way of keeping people safe, my colleagues and I have just completed research that shows this kind of mass evacuation is unnecessary, and can even do more harm than good. We calculated that the Fukushima evacuation extended the population’s average life expectancy by less than three months.
To do this, we had to estimate how such a nuclear meltdown could affect the average remaining life expectancy of a population from the date of the event. The radiation would cause some people to get cancer and so die younger than they otherwise would have (other health effects are very unlikely because the radiation exposure is so limited). This brings down the average life expectancy of the whole group.
But the average radiation cancer victim will still live into their 60s or 70s. The loss of life expectancy from a radiation cancer will always be less than from an immediately fatal accident such as a train or car crash. These victims have their lives cut short by an average of 40 years, double the 20 years that the average sufferer of cancer caused by radiation exposure. So if you could choose your way of dying from the two, radiation exposure and cancer would on average leave you with a much longer lifespan.
How do you know if evacuation is worthwhile?
To work out how much a specific nuclear accident will affect life expectancy, we can use something called the CLEARE (Change of life expectancy from averting a radiation exposure) Programme. This tells us how much a specific dose of radiation will shorten your remaining lifespan by on average.
Yet knowing how a nuclear meltdown will affect average life expectancy isn’t enough to work out whether it is worth evacuating people. You also need to measure it against the costs of the evacuation. To do this, we have developed a method known as the judgement or J-value. This can effectively tell us how much quality of life people are willing to sacrifice to increase their remaining life expectancy, and at what point they are no longer willing to pay.
You can work out the J-value for a specific country using a measure of the average amount of money people in that country have (GDP per head) and a measure of how averse to risk they are, based on data about their work-life balance. When you put this data through the J-value model, you can effectively find the maximum amount people will on average be willing to pay for longer life expectancy.
After applying the J-value to the Fukushima scenario, we found that the amount of life expectancy preserved by moving people away was too low to justify it. If no one had been evacuated, the local population’s average life expectancy would have fallen by less than three months. The J-value data tells us that three months isn’t enough of a gain for people to be willing to sacrifice the quality of life lost through paying their share of the cost of an evacuation, which can run into billions of dollars (although the bill would actually be settled by the power company or government).
The three month average loss suggests the number of people who will actually die from radiation-induced cancer is very small. Compare it to the average of 20 years lost when you look at all radiation cancer sufferers. In another comparison, the average inhabitant of London loses 4.5 months of life expectancy because of the city’s air pollution. Yet no one has suggested evacuating that city.
We also used the J-value to examine the decisions made after the world’s worst nuclear accident, which occurred 25 years before Fukushima at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant in Ukraine. In that case, 116,000 people were moved out in 1986, never to return, and a further 220,000 followed in 1990.
By calculating the J-value using data on people in Ukraine and Belarus in the late 1980s and early 1990s, we can work out the minimum amount of life expectancy people would have been willing to evacuate for. In this instance, people should only have been moved if their lifetime radiation exposure would have reduced their life expectancy by nine months or more.
This applied to just 31,000 people. If we took a more cautious approach and said that if one in 20 of a town’s inhabitants lost this much life expectancy, then the whole settlement should be moved, it would still only mean the evacuation of 72,500 people. The 220,000 people in the second relocation lost at most three months’ life expectancy and so none of them should have been moved. In total, only between 10% and 20% of the number relocated needed to move away.
To support our research, colleagues at the University of Manchester analysed hundreds of possible large nuclear reactor accidents across the world. They found relocation was not a sensible policy in any of the expected case scenarios they examined.
More harm than good
Some might argue that people have the right to be evacuated if their life expectancy is threatened at all. But overspending on extremely expensive evacuation can actually harm the people it is supposed to help. For example, the World Heath Organisation has documented the psychological damage done to the Chernobyl evacuees, including their conviction that they are doomed to die young.
From their perspective, this belief is entirely logical. Nuclear refugees can’t be expected to understand exactly how radiation works, but they know when huge amounts of money are being spent. These payments can come to be seen as compensation, suggesting the radiation must have left them in an awful state of health. Their governments have never lavished such amounts of money on them before, so they believe their situation must be dire.
But the reality is that, in most cases, the risk from radiation exposure if they stay in their homes is minimal. It is important that the precedents of Chernobyl and Fukushima do not establish mass relocation as the prime policy choice in the future, because this will benefit nobody.
 
Homes should not be abandoned after a big nuclear accident
 

November 23, 2017 Posted by | Fukushima 2017 | , , , | 2 Comments

Radioactive Contamination from Fukushima Nuclear Disaster: Did You Know that Tokyo Metropolitan Area is Widely Contaminated Too?

We are “GO WEST & COME WEST!!! 3.11 Evacuees from Tokyo area”.

Etsuji Watanabe, one of the members of Association for Citizens and Scientists Concerned about Internal Radiation Exposures (ACSIR), estimates that each year at most 180,000 people may develop cancer and 90,000 will be killed by cancer or some other causes.

Radiation Levels in Tokyo Metropolitan Area (Year 2013~2015: µSv/hour)

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Estimation of the risk for 10 million people in Tokyo Metropolitan area exposed by radiation (2.4mSv/year).

Data provided by Mr. Kirishima.

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* Risk occurrence: 10,000 person-Sv

** According to a book ‘Chernobyl: Consequences of the Catastrophe for People and the Environment’ by Alexey V. Yablokov, ratio of death caused by cancer and not by cancer is 1 to 1.

Fukushima Radiation is Now Spreading to Tokyo and Eastern Japan

The child thyroid cancer which were commonly seen after Chernobyl accident is being found even around Tokyo area after several years from 3.11 Fukushima accident in 2011.

Severe illness such as various cancers, leukemia, and cardiac infarction are increasing too at alarming rate. For some people, immune system has also weakened due to radiation effects, and the conditions of their chronic disease or common cold are worsening.

Therefore some people from Tokyo have evacuated to safer places.

However Japanese government (and main media) continue to ignore the effects of Fukushima radiation even though the radiation level is still dangerously high. The government have recently lifted evacuation orders for the restricted residence areas and cut housing subsidies for evacuees, forcing them to believe it is safe to return.

Therefore some people think it is nonsense to evacuate from Tokyo area and believe the evacuees are over-reacting. Many of the evacuees are feeling very isolated and are living in poverty after moving to safer locations, forcing some to return to the contaminated area against their will.

About 45 million people still remain in contaminated metropolitan area in Tokyo. But many people are started feeling very ill one after another. In fact many of my friends living in Tokyo or Eastern Japan have collapsed from numerous illnesses over these years.

It has proven that an increase of serious illness was seen four-to-five years after 1986 Chernobyl meltdown and hundreds of thousands of people lost their lives.

Now we are facing the same situation in Tokyo and eastern Japan.

Fukushima radiation problem permits no delay. We need to encourage people in Tokyo and Eastern Japan to evacuate to safer places to protect their lives.

In order to fight against the inhumanity of the Japanese government toward lives of people and uncover the fact of radiation effect in Japan, it is urgently needed to spread the information like this to the public.

http://www.gowest-comewest.net/statement/20170825english.html

September 7, 2017 Posted by | Fukushima 2017 | , , , | Leave a comment

Tsunami Evacuation Hindered by Traffic in Iwaki

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Some residents who attempted to drive to higher ground after tsunami warnings in northeastern Japan early Tuesday found themselves caught in traffic.

An official of Iwaki City, Fukushima Prefecture, says a main road from the coastal district to inland areas was filled with cars apparently trying to evacuate.

The official says he saw many cars carrying entire families and that the traffic congestion was unusual for that time of day. He says the atmosphere was tense, as the residents were apparently reminded of the March 2011 tsunami.

He called on residents not to use their cars if they are able to evacuate on foot, as part of the road is designated as an area that could be submerged in the event of a tsunami.

In Ishinomaki City, Miyagi Prefecture, more than 100 people evacuated to a park on higher ground.

But a narrow road leading to the park soon became jammed.

Some drivers parked their cars on the roadside, hindering others from getting by. Traffic was backed up for a long way as a result.

The city has been asking residents to evacuate on foot in principle.

http://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/en/news/20161122_45/

November 23, 2016 Posted by | Fukushima 2016 | , , , | Leave a comment

Reconstruct ‘difficult-to-return zones’ in keeping with residents’ wishes

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In consideration of the feelings of evacuees who want to return home, it is important to promptly present a specific picture of how towns affected by the nuclear disaster will be reconstructed.

Regarding the “difficult-to-return zones” designated following the disaster at Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings, Inc.’s Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant, the government has announced a policy of designating priority areas and carrying out full-scale decontamination work there starting next fiscal year.

Entry remains strictly restricted for the difficult-to-return zones, where the yearly dose of radiation was higher than 50 millisieverts as of March 2012. This is the first time for the government to announce a policy of allowing evacuees to eventually return home in the zones.

The zones spread over seven municipalities around the Fukushima plant, including the towns of Okuma, Futaba and Namie.

The latest policy is characterized by the government establishing “reconstruction bases” that center around town offices and railway stations, and drawing up development plans exclusively for the base areas. The government will implement the development of infrastructure, including roads, concurrently with the decontamination work. It aims to lift the evacuation orders for residents in the year 2022, making it possible for evacuees to return home.

To decontaminate the entire area within the difficult-to-return zones will require a sizable amount of money. It is an appropriate measure to move ahead with the decontamination work by narrowing down the target area from the viewpoint of pursuing efficiency.

In areas where the radiation dose is relatively low, namely areas where residence is restricted and where preparations are being made for the lifting of evacuation orders, evacuation orders have already been rescinded for five municipalities. Another four municipalities have also taken such measures as allowing residents to return home for long-term stays, with the aim of lifting the evacuation orders next spring.

Limited progress in returns

However, in areas where evacuation orders have already been lifted, there has not been as much progress in residents’ return as was hoped. Even in the town of Naraha, for which evacuation orders were lifted last autumn and which is considered a model case for residents’ return, only about 10 percent of residents have come back.

There has not been sufficient development of bases closely linked to people’s daily life, such as medical institutions and commercial facilities. This can be a primary factor in evacuees’ reluctance to return home. Younger generations also have strong concerns about their jobs and their children’s education following their return.

Even if residents of the difficult-to-return zones were able to return, that would be six years from now. It would be difficult for residents to plan for their daily life.

At the moment, matters such as where the reconstruction bases can be located and the details of development plans have yet to be decided. It is important to show residents early on how their hometowns would be reconstructed, so as to fulfill evacuees’ wishes of returning home.

Many evacuees have given up on returning home and rebuilt their lives within or outside Fukushima Prefecture. According to a survey taken last year by the Reconstruction Agency, only 11 percent of evacuees from Okuma and 13 percent of those from Futaba — the towns straddled by the plant — said they want to return home.

How should towns be reconstructed to induce evacuees to consider returning? Each municipality is urged to carefully take up the wishes of evacuees and reflect them in the development plans.

As Fukushima’s reconstruction progresses, the government needs to continue doing its utmost in assisting the prefecture so as not to have the difficult-to-return zones become “left-behind areas.”

http://www.the-japan-news.com/news/article/0003226946

September 20, 2016 Posted by | Fukushima 2016 | , , | Leave a comment

In Fukushima, A Bitter Legacy Of Radiation, Trauma and Fear

Five years after the nuclear power plant meltdown, a journey through the Fukushima evacuation zone reveals some high levels of radiation and an overriding sense of fear. For many, the psychological damage is far more profound than the health effects.

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A radiation monitoring station alongside a road in Namie, Japan.

Japan’s Highway 114 may not be the most famous road in the world. It doesn’t have the cachet of Route 66 or the Pan-American Highway. But it does have one claim to fame. It passes through what for the past five years has been one of the most radioactive landscapes on the planet – heading southeast from the Japanese city of Fukushima to the stricken nuclear power plant, Fukushima Daiichi, through the forested mountains where much of the fallout from the meltdown at the plant in March 2011 fell to earth.

It is a largely empty highway now, winding through abandoned villages and past overgrown rice paddy fields. For two days in August, I traveled its length to assess the aftermath of the nuclear disaster in the company of Baba Isao, an assemblyman who represents the town of Namie, located just three miles from the power plant and one of four major towns that remain evacuated.

At times, the radiation levels seemed scarily high – still too high for permanent occupation. But radiation was just the start. More worrying, I discovered, was the psychological and political fallout from the accident. While the radiation – most of it now from caesium-137, a radioactive isotope with a half-life of 30 years – is decaying, dispersing, or being cleaned up, it is far from clear that this wider trauma has yet peaked. Fukushima is going to be in rehab for decades.

I began my journey with Baba, a small bustling man of 72 years, at Kawamata, a town on Highway 114 that is a gateway to the mountains beyond. These mountains are where the fallout was greatest, and the forests that cover most of their slopes have retained the most radioactivity. The mountains make up most of the government-designated “red zone,” where radiation doses exceed 50 millisieverts a year and which are likely to remain uninhabited for many years.

A second “yellow zone” has doses of 20-50 millisieverts, where returning may soon be possible; and a third “green zone,” with less than 20 millisieverts, is deemed safe to live in, and an organized return is under way or planned. Zones are re-categorized as radioactivity decays and hotspots are decontaminated.

To check progress, I took with me a Geiger counter that measured gamma radiation, the main source of radiation for anyone not eating contaminated food.

Beyond Kawamata, the road was largely empty and houses sat abandoned and overgrown. There was no cellphone signal. At first, houses we measured at the roadside had radiation doses equivalent to only around 2 millisieverts per year, a tenth of the government threshold for reoccupation. But within minutes, as we climbed into the mountains, radiation increased as we moved from green to yellow to red zones.

 

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A map tracing Japan’s Highway 114 through the Fukushima evacuation zone

Despite the radiation, wildlife is thriving in the absence of people, Baba said. There are elk, wolves, lynx, monkeys, and bears in the mountains. “Nature here is beautiful,” he said, “but we can’t fish or collect bamboo shoots or eat the mountain vegetables that people used to harvest from the forests.”

We stopped by an abandoned gas station in Tsushima, a village in the lee of Mount Hiyama, where wild boar had excavated the soil right by a vending machine that appeared remarkably intact. The bright-red digital display on an official Geiger counter read the equivalent of 21 millisieverts per year, just above the limit for human habitation.

The day after the disaster at the power plant began, 1,400 people from Namie came to Tsushima after being ordered to evacuate. “I was among them,” said Baba. “We had no information. People were just told to come. When we arrived, we went to the village police station and found that the police there were in full protective clothing against the radiation. They said it was a precaution in case they had to go to the power plant, but they had obviously been told that something serious was going on that the population hadn’t been told. That’s when our suspicion about the honesty of the authorities began.”

Tsushima has since become an unofficial shrine to the disaster. In the window of an abandoned shop are posters with bitter, ironic messages, some directed at the nuclear plant’s operator, Tokyo Electric Power: “Thanks to TEPCO, we can shed tears at our temporary housing,” read one. “Thanks to TEPCO, we can play pachinko.” But one, in English, just said, “I shall return.”

Back on Highway 114, a car stopped, and a woman got out. Konno Hidiko was driving to Namie – day trips are allowed, but overnight stays banned – to clean her parents’ former house and tidy an ancestral grave before relatives visited during an upcoming religious holiday. “My parents are dead now, but I still clean their house,” she said. “There are mice inside and wild boar have been in. We won’t ever return to live there. But we might build a new house there one day.”

Further along, Baba stopped the car and walked up a path swathed in vegetation. “This is my house,” he said suddenly, pointing to a barely visible building. It was shuttered. But I noticed laundry still hanging to dry in an upstairs window. On a tour of the grounds, Baba showed me his plum trees. “The fruit is too dangerous to eat now, and we can’t drink the water from the well, either.” We found a shed where he and his schoolteacher wife once kept cattle, and a former hay shed where he stored old election banners.

 

 

 

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Baba Isao approaches his abandoned house in Namie.

 

I checked my meter. It read 26 millisieverts per year in the hay shed, but shot up to an alarming 80 in undergrowth outside. That was four times the safe level for habitation. No wonder Baba had no plans to return. “I am just the son of a farmer. I wonder who has a right to destroy our home and my livelihood,” he mused bitterly. “Please tell the world: No Nukes.”

At his local post office, an official monitor by the road measured 56 millisieverts. Mine agreed, but when we pointed it close to a sprig of moss pushing through the tarmac, it went off the scale. “They measured 500 millisieverts here last week,” Baba said. “Moss accumulates radioactivity.”

As we drove on, the roadside was now marked every few kilometers by massive pyramids of black plastic bags, containing radioactive soil that had been stripped from roadside edges, paddy fields, and house gardens as part of government efforts to decontaminate the land. An estimated 3 million bags, all neatly tagged, now await final disposal at facilities planned along the coast. But the task of transporting the soil is so huge that the authorities are building a new road so trucks can bypass the scenic mountain villages along Highway 114.

Through a checkpoint we came at last to Namie town. Just before my visit, major media such as The Guardian and CNN had published images of the town by a photographer who claimed to have gained secret, unauthorized entry to the “ghost town.” He posed in his images wearing a gas mask to show how dangerous it was.

My visit to the town had required a request in advance, via Baba, but no subterfuge. And I found Namie a surprisingly busy “ghost town.” Nobody is yet allowed to live there. But some 4,000 people work there every day, repairing the railway line and roads, building new houses, and knocking down quake-damaged shops, preparing for the planned return of its citizens in April 2017.

There was plenty of earthquake damage, and vegetation pushed through cracks in the roads and the pavement in the front yards. Black bags were everywhere. But the traffic lights functioned, and drivers obeyed them; there was a 7-Eleven and the vending machines had Coke in them. Nobody wore protective clothing or masks. My biggest safety concern was not radiation, but the news, conveyed over the town’s public address system on the afternoon I was there, that a bear had been spotted in the suburbs.

Despite its proximity to the power plant, average radiation levels in the town were down to around 2 millisieverts per year in Namie – lower, in fact, than I recorded in Fukushima City, which was never evacuated.

“I have no idea how many people will come back,” said Baba. “They have a lot of misgivings because of the radioactive contamination. And I think their fears are totally justified. It is totally unthinkable for me to return to my old place, so I cannot encourage them to return to theirs.” He quoted a survey of the town’s 21,000 former residents showing that only 18 percent wanted to come back. That sounded similar to nearby Naraha town, where only a fifth returned after the all-clear was given last year.

 

 

 

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A deserted street in Namie in early 2016.

People especially feared for their children. The biggest concern was reports of an epidemic of thyroid cancer among children exposed to radioactive iodine in the days after the accident. An ultrasound screening program had found an apparent 30-fold increase in cysts, nodules, and some cancers in children’s thyroid glands. It had made headline news.

But at the Fukushima Medical University, doctors and medical researchers insisted that radiation doses were far too low to pose a serious cancer risk, not least because contaminated foodstuffs that could have harbored the iodine were rapidly withdrawn from sale. Ken Nollet, an American who is director of radiation health at the university, insists that the apparent epidemic was evidence only of better searching for disease. He told me a Korean screening study using the same techniques on a non-exposed population found similar rates to those in Fukushima’s contaminated zone.

Thanks to the rapid, if chaotic, evacuation of the area after the power plant began its meltdown, and the controls of foodstuffs, doctors say they believe there are unlikely to be many, if any, deaths among the public from radiation from the Fukushima accident. “A few members of the public got a CT scan’s worth of radiation; almost nobody received more than the dose from a barium meal,” said Nollet.

But there have been deaths nonetheless. Some 60 old people died as a direct result of the evacuation, including several who died of hunger after being left behind, said a doctor at Soma hospital, Sae Ochi. And depression remains widespread among evacuees, she says. There have been around 85 suicides linked to its after-effects. “It’s post-traumatic stress,” said Masaharu Maeda at Fukushima Medical University. “People with very negative views about the risks of radiation are more likely to be depressed. It’s a vicious circle.”

Some doctors told me that while the initial evacuation was necessary, the failure to plan a swift return as radiation levels fell had been disastrous. Apart from a few high-dose areas in the mountains, the psychological risks of staying away exceed the radiological risks of coming back. But the confusion has contributed to a serious loss of trust among the public for medical, as well as nuclear, authorities. “When we try to explain the situation,” says Nollet, “we are seen as complicit in nuclear power.”

It seems increasingly unlikely that the majority of families will return to the abandoned towns as the official all-clear is given. As we drove back from Namie, I dropped in on a group of old women living in an evacuation camp outside Kawamata. One told me they wanted to return to their old homes, but that “most young people simply won’t go back. They fear for their children, but also they have moved on in their lives, with new jobs and their children in new schools.”

And maybe that is not a bad thing. At a kindergarten in Soma City, just outside the exclusion zone, teachers told me that, away from the fear of radiation, there was a baby boom going on there. The crop of new students this year was the largest since the accident.

http://e360.yale.edu/feature/fukushima_bitter_legacy_of_radiation_trauma_fear/3035/

 

September 20, 2016 Posted by | Fukushima 2016 | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

State to lift evacuation order for most of Fukushima village of Iitate from March 31

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FUKUSHIMA – The central government has said it is considering plans to lift its evacuation order for most of the village of Iitate, Fukushima Prefecture, effective March 31.

The village is nearby the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant, which experienced a meltdown disaster in 2011.

Yosuke Takagi, state minister of economy, trade and industry, conveyed the plan to Mayor Norio Kanno and other officials of the Fukushima Prefecture village at a meeting on Wednesday.

The government plans to make an official decision on the lifting shortly, along with a program to be launched in July to allow residents to stay overnight at their homes as part of preparations for permanent returns.

The evacuation order will be lifted for areas with less radiation from the three reactor meltdowns at the Tokyo Electric Power Co. Holdings Inc. plant, which was damaged in the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami.

As of the end of May, 5,917 residents in 1,770 households, or over 90 percent of the overall population of the village, were registered as citizens of such areas.

The government plans to finish decontamination work on houses by the end of this month and on farmland, roads and other facilities by the end of this year.

Visiting the village’s temporary office in the city of Fukushima on Wednesday, Takagi said the government aims to get the residents to return home by “resolving a series of challenges one by one.”

Kanno said, “We still have a long way to go and have to rebuild our village in a new form.”

The evacuation order will remain in place for highly contaminated areas, where 268 residents in 75 households are registered as local citizens.

http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2016/06/17/national/state-lift-evacuation-order-fukushima-village-iitate-march-31/

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June 17, 2016 Posted by | Fukushima 2016 | , , , | Leave a comment

Advisory lifted for most of evacuated village of Katsurao close to crippled Fukushima nuclear power plant

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Radioactive waste contained in thousands of black plastic bags are placed in rice paddies in the village of Katsurao, Fukushima Prefecture, where an evacuation advisory was lifted for most of the village Sunday.

FUKUSHIMA – The government Sunday lifted its evacuation advisory for most of Katsurao, a village near the crippled Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant in Fukushima Prefecture.

This is the first time that an evacuation advisory has been lifted for an area tainted with relatively high levels of radiation with annual doses projected at between more than 20 millisieverts and less than 50 millisieverts.

The government’s move allows 1,347 people in 418 households to return home for the first time since the March 2011 disaster at the plant, operated by Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings Inc.

But only a few people are expected to return home for the time being due to inconveniences in everyday life in the village. Municipal bus services remain suspended while shops have yet to resume operations.

The village government plans to offer free taxi services for elderly people so that they can go to hospitals and commercial facilities outside the village.

Earlier this month, the village’s chamber of commerce and industry started services to deliver fresh foods and daily necessities to homes.

The evacuation advisory remains in place for 119 people in 33 households from the remaining Katsurao area where annual radiation doses are estimated at over 50 millisieverts.

http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2016/06/12/national/advisory-lifted-for-most-of-evacuated-village-of-katsurao-close-to-crippled-fukushima-nuclear-power-plant/

June 13, 2016 Posted by | Fukushima 2016 | , , | Leave a comment

Evacuation lifted for Fukushima village; only 10% preparing return

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Lights appears at only a few houses in Katsurao, Fukushima Prefecture, on June 11, the eve of the government’s lifting of the evacuation order following the 2011 nuclear accident. Waste from decontamination operations is covered with sheets in the foreground. (Yosuke Fukudome)

The government on June 12 lifted the evacuation order for Katsurao, a village northwest of the crippled Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant, but most of the residents appear reluctant to return home.

The lifting of the order covers more than 90 percent of the households in Katsurao. The entire village was ordered to evacuate after the crisis at the Fukushima plant started to unfold on March 11, 2011.

Katsurao is the fourth municipality in Fukushima Prefecture that had the evacuation order lifted, following the Miyakoji district in Tamura, the eastern area of Kawauchi village and Naraha.

Government officials said cleanup and other efforts have reduced radiation levels in Katsurao to a point that poses little problem. The lifting of the evacuation order means that 1,347 people from 418 households, out of 1,466 people from 451 households in Katsurao, can return to their homes to live in the village.

But only 126 people from 53 households, or 10 percent of those eligible to return, have signed up for a program for extended stays in the village to prepare for their return, according to Katsurao officials.

The officials said they believe that many evacuees would rather go back and forth between temporary housing and their homes in Katsurao for the time being, given the situation in the village.

Medical institutions and shops have yet to resume operations in Katsurao. And nearly half of the rice paddies there are being used for the temporary storage of radioactive waste produced in the cleanup operation.

Local officials say they have no idea when the waste can be moved out of the village for permanent storage.

Among the Katsurao residents eligible to return are those with homes in the government-designated “residence restricted zone,” where the annual radiation dose was projected at more than 20 millisieverts and up to 50 millisieverts as of March 2012.

This was the first time evacuees from such a zone have been permitted to return home.

Only the “difficult-to-return zone” carries a higher annual radiation dose.

The government plans to lift evacuation orders for other parts of the prefecture by the end of March 2017, except for the “difficult-to-return zone,” where the annual radiation dose was estimated at 50 millisieverts or higher as of March 2012.

The additional lifting of the evacuation orders would allow 46,000 of 70,000 displaced residents to return to their homes to live.

http://www.asahi.com/ajw/articles/AJ201606120031.html

June 12, 2016 Posted by | Fukushima 2016 | , , | Leave a comment

Demolition work delay hinders Fukushima villagers’ homecoming

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Farmer Hidenori Endo is seen at the empty lot where his home used to stand in Katsurao, Fukushima Prefecture, on June 6, 2016.

FUKUSHIMA — Though the nuclear disaster evacuation order for the Fukushima Prefecture village of Katsurao is set to be lifted on June 12, just 14 percent of demolition work needed before homes can be rebuilt has been completed.

The village currently comprises three evacuation statuses: “areas preparing for the lifting of evacuation orders” with annual accumulated radiation doses of 20 millisieverts or less; “restricted residency zones” with annual accumulated radiation doses from over 20 millisieverts to 50 millisieverts; and “difficult-to-return zones.” As of June 12, the 1,347 residents from 418 households in the former two categories will be allowed to move back home. A return schedule for the 119 residents from 33 households with homes in areas in the last category has yet to be determined as radiation levels remain high.

A survey by the village government showed that nearly 50 percent of residents wished to return home. However, as of June 8 only 126 people, or less than 10 percent of residents, had registered to stay overnight in preparation for their complete return.

The Environment Ministry began demolishing houses in 2012 for those who wanted to rebuild their homes in 11 Fukushima Prefecture municipalities subject to nuclear disaster evacuation orders. Of 347 demolition requests in Katsurao, only 14 percent have been completed. Officials say that field research and paperwork are taking time. Overall, a little less than 40 percent of requested work has been done in all 11 municipalities.

Eight municipalities — including Katsurao and the city of Minamisoma, where evacuation orders are to be lifted on July 12 — are requesting the central government to speed up demolition work as the delay is hindering residents’ return to their hometowns. A senior Katsurao village official says locals have been complaining about the demolition work not advancing as planned.

The Environment Ministry hopes to complete about 90 percent of demolition work by March 2017 by streamlining paperwork, but many residents are expected to be unable to return home even after evacuation orders are lifted, as it will take time to rebuild houses after the demolition is completed.

A ministry official explained that there are people who will be able to return home immediately after the evacuation order is lifted, and that it would be inappropriate to keep the orders in place until all the demolition work is done. At the same time, the official said that the ministry will give those who wish to return priority in the demolition work schedule.

Fukushima University social welfare professor Fuminori Tamba, who helped map out disaster recovery plans for municipalities under evacuation orders, pointed out that the lack of progress in demolitions is problematic, since securing housing is the minimum requirement for residents to return. He added that the availability of housing should be considered when lifting evacuation orders.

Katsurao farmer and cattle rancher Hidenori Endo, 74, applied for demolition of his decaying home and barn last summer. Tired of waiting, Endo paid a private firm nearly 10 million yen to tear down the buildings in May.

“I wanted to go home as soon as possible,” Endo said.

He now lives in a temporary housing unit in the town of Miharu, about 30 kilometers from his Katsurao home. Endo travels an hour by car daily to his property to restart his farming business, but taking good care of his cattle is difficult to do going back and forth. To reboot his business, Endo first needs to rebuild his home. Construction work is to begin this summer, but he does not yet know when the work will be completed, and will have to live in the temporary housing for at least another year.

The central government has set prerequisites, such as infrastructure development and operation of everyday services, for lifting nuclear crisis evacuation orders. However, housing is not included in these criteria.

“Even if I could go shopping, there isn’t much I could do if there was no place to live. It’s not right to be unable to return to home even with the evacuation order gone,” Endo lamented.

http://mainichi.jp/english/articles/20160611/p2a/00m/0na/016000c

June 12, 2016 Posted by | Fukushima 2016 | , , | Leave a comment

Another evacuation order lifted in Fukushima

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The Japanese government has lifted its evacuation order for most parts of a village near the crippled nuclear plant in Fukushima. Katsurao Village became the 4th such municipality after the 2011 nuclear disaster.

Officials lifted the restriction on Saturday midnight except some areas where the radiation level remains high. All of over 1,400 residents there were forced to evacuate. Now most of them are allowed to return home.

According to a survey the village conducted last year, nearly half of the respondents said all or at least parts of their family want to return home when the order is lifted.

Local authorities say they will work to ease concerns over radiation and provide medical services. They will also ask shops to reopen there to sell foods and everyday essentials.
The evacuation order remains in 9 municipalities in Fukushima. This is forcing more than 90,000 people to continue living away from home.

http://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/en/news/20160612_04/

Villagers divided over lifting of order

People from Katsurao have had mixed responses to the lifting of the evacuation order.

Residents who have decided to return to the village include Rinko Matsumoto and her husband.

Matsumoto planted corn seedlings on Sunday in front of her home. She used to eat home-grown corn with her children and grandchildren when they were all living together before the accident.

She says she is happy to be returning home, but that she will miss family members who have no plans of coming back anytime soon.

Akira Miyamoto and his wife spent the day tending roses in their garden and playing with their dog.

Miyamoto says this is the day Katsurao Village has come back to life. He says he wants to enjoy living there surrounded by nature.

Yoshio Matsumoto is one of the former residents who have decided not to return.

Matsumoto lives in temporary housing in another municipality. He says he is not going back home because he is worried about radiation and few of his neighbors are returning.

He says his home has been decontaminated many times, but windy or rainy weather causes radiation levels to rise.

http://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/en/news/20160612_13/

June 12, 2016 Posted by | Fukushima 2016 | , , | Leave a comment

Evacuation advisory to be lifted for most of Iitate, Fukushima, next March 31

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FUKUSHIMA – The central government has informed the municipal assembly of Iitate, Fukushima Prefecture, that it plans to lift the evacuation advisory for most of the village next March 31.

Preparation work for the displaced residents to return to their homes is scheduled to start July 1, as requested by the municipal government in April.

The advisory will be left in place for the Nagadoro district because radiation levels there remain too high to allow people to return.

The government issued the evacuation advisory for the entire village after it was hit by fallout from the March 2011 meltdowns at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant roughly 40 km away.

In June last year, decontamination work was completed in the village’s residential areas, reducing the average radiation level in the air to 0.8 microsievert per hour.

http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2016/06/07/national/state-lift-evacuation-advisory-fukushima-village-iitate-next-march-31/

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

Questions raised over nuclear evacuation plans urging residents to remain indoors

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Residents of Ikata, Ehime Prefecture, disembark from a ferry after its arrival at a port in Oita Prefecture as part of a nuclear disaster evacuation drill, in November 2015

Residents living in areas hosting Japan’s nuclear power plants are voicing concerns about nuclear accident evacuation plans following two recent deadly earthquakes in Kumamoto Prefecture registering a maximum 7 on the Japanese intensity scale.

The government’s evacuation plans are based on the premise of some residents near nuclear plants initially remaining indoors, and having them flee to other prefectures if necessary. But questions have been raised over how effective current plans would be in the event of disasters like those that hit Tokyo Electric Power Co.’s Fukushima No. 1 Nuclear Power Plant in March 2011.

“If there were a nuclear accident, remaining indoors would be impossible. The Kumamoto Earthquake has made me even more anxious,” said Ikue Yamaguchi, a 34-year-old public servant raising two children in the Kagoshima Prefecture city of Ichikikushikino. Her home is just around 15 kilometers away from the No. 1 and 2 reactors at the Sendai Nuclear Power Plant in Satsumasendai in the prefecture. The reactors are the only ones currently operating in Japan.

Before the Fukushima nuclear disaster, areas within 8 to 10 kilometer radii of nuclear power plants were designated as being subject to evacuation plans, but after the outbreak of the disaster, the areas were expanded to a 30 kilometer radius. As a result, 135 municipalities in 21 prefectures are now subject to such plans, compared with 45 municipalities in 15 prefectures before the disaster. Altogether, some 4.8 million people, or about 4 percent of the population, are subject to such evacuation plans.

Under government evacuation plans, those living within 5 kilometers of a nuclear power plant are supposed to be evacuated immediately if there are signs of a nuclear accident, while those living 5 to 30 kilometers away are to remain indoors, and then evacuate further away if there are signs that radiation levels are increasing. The Nuclear Regulation Authority says that radiation exposure can be sufficiently reduced in areas between 5 and 30 kilometers from a nuclear power plant by remaining indoors. It adds that if people in those areas go out of their way to evacuate, they could face a heighted risk of radiation exposure and health damage.

But in the case of an earthquake like the temblors that recently struck Kumamoto Prefecture, which left many homes in danger of collapsing, it would be difficult to remain indoors. And not all shelters offer stable protection, either. As of the end of March last year, 85.7 percent of public facilities in Kagoshima Prefecture supposed to be used as shelters during disasters had been reinforced against earthquakes — a figure lower than the national average of 88.3 percent. Ehime Prefecture, which hosts Shikoku Electric Power Co.’s Ikata Nuclear Power Plant that is expected to be reactivated in late July, has the nation’s third worst rate, at 79.1 percent.

If an accident were to occur at the Sendai Nuclear Power Plant in Kagoshima Prefecture, then according to estimates, it could take up to around 29 hours to evacuate some 210,000 people living within a 30 kilometer radius of the plant who would be subject to evacuation. This, however, is based on the premise of people living in areas within 5 to 30 kilometers of the plant initially remaining indoors — if everyone were to start evacuating at once, then it is predicted that transportation networks would become congested, and evacuation would take even longer.

“Even if we were to evacuate indoors, then we would have to go outside (to receive supplies, etc.) and wouldn’t be able to avoid exposure to radiation,” Yamaguchi says. “I would want to evacuate immediately, but evacuation routes would probably be crowded.”

Shunro Iwata, an official at the nuclear safety control division of the Kagoshima Prefectural Government, commented, “When evacuating indoors, people are not forbidden from going outside, so they can go out if the need arises. There would be no immediate effect on health (for radiation levels below the standard reading). We are not in a position to revise plans, and there is no change to the fact that this is the most reasonable approach at present.”

Naoya Sekiya, a specially appointed associate professor at the University of Tokyo who is familiar with evacuation plans during disasters, said it is not realistic to base evacuation plans on the premise of people remaining indoors.

“Evacuation plans should be made with the presumption of a major earthquake cutting off roads and railways. If evacuation orders are issued to people within a five-kilometer radius of a nuclear plant, then obviously people in surrounding areas will start evacuating, too, resulting in further confusion. An evacuation plan based on the premise of people remaining indoors is not realistic,” he said.

http://mainichi.jp/english/articles/20160502/p2a/00m/0na/021000c

May 4, 2016 Posted by | Nuclear | , | Leave a comment