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Time to get serious about evacuations from nuclear disasters

For example the evacuation plan from Satsuma-Sendai in case of an nuclear accident at the Sendai nuclear plan is totally unrealistic, due to many reasons.

The most important one is that the roads and transports available in that area would quickly cause a bottleneck into which  evacuating people would become  trapped with no real  possiblity of a fast evacuation out.

 

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A man is checked for radiation doses during an evacuation drill in Kagoshima in December 2015 in preparation for an accident at the Sendai nuclear power plant in neighboring Satsuma-Sendai.

Nearly half of the radiation monitoring posts installed for issuing evacuation orders around the Sendai nuclear power plant in Kagoshima Prefecture have been found unable to perform the required function.

Twenty-two of the 48 monitoring posts around Kyushu Electric Power Co.’s Sendai plant can only measure airborne radiation levels up to 80 microsieverts per hour, far below the 500-microsievert threshold that triggers immediate evacuation orders, according to a survey by The Asahi Shimbun.

The survey also found that monitoring devices have not been installed at many of the designated locations around Kansai Electric Power Co.’s Takahama nuclear power plant, where two reactors were restarted in January and February.

The two reactors, however, are now out of service again in line with a recently issued court injunction.

These findings mean there are insufficiencies in the way to obtain crucial data for deciding on whether to evacuate local residents from areas around these nuclear plants during severe accidents.

Despite these serious safety lapses, reactors at the two plants were brought online. How seriously do the utilities, central and local governments take the safety of residents?

Nearby local governments that are in a position to monitor nuclear accidents by using these devices should ask the utilities to suspend reactor operations at least until useful radiation measuring instruments have been installed at all the posts.

Following the triple meltdown at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant, triggered by the Great East Japan Earthquake and tsunami in March 2011, the central government revised its guidelines on responding to nuclear disasters.

The revised guidelines mandate immediate evacuations of residents within 5 kilometers of a nuclear plant where a serious accident has taken place. Residents living between 5 km and 30 km from an accident-stricken plant will be required to stay indoors while the central government decides whether to order evacuations based on radiation levels detected by the monitoring posts.

Immediate evacuations will be ordered if radiation levels reach 500 microsieverts per hour. If radiation levels rise to and stay at 20 microsieverts per hour for an entire day, residents will be ordered to evacuate within a week. In both cases, the central government will issue the orders.

If the network of radiation monitoring posts fails to function properly, evacuation decisions for specific areas could be delayed or misguided.

With financial support from the central government, local governments concerned are required to install these monitoring posts. It is baffling why the local governments that host the two plants consented to the reactor restarts despite the insufficient monitoring installations.

The Nuclear Regulation Authority should not be allowed to shirk responsibility for the matter by claiming that dealing with issues related to the evacuations of residents is not part of its mandate.

The SPEEDI radioactive fallout-forecasting system failed to work properly during the Fukushima nuclear crisis. So the NRA decided to replace the SPEEDI system with networks of monitoring posts to measure radiation levels around nuclear plants for making evacuation decisions.

The NRA should be the one that checks if the posts will be workable in actual accidents.

Even the stricter nuclear safety standards cannot completely eliminate the risk of accidents. That makes it vital to make adequate preparations based on the assumption that nuclear disasters can occur.

The belated acceptance of this internationally common premise doesn’t amount to much if such a lax attitude is taken toward evacuations.

The principle that local governments should take the responsibility to protect local residents from various disasters is reasonable to a certain extent.

However, as far as nuclear disasters are concerned, this principle should not allow the central government to avoid playing a key role and shuffle off its responsibility.

The system needs changes so that the effectiveness of evacuation plans will be sufficiently checked by the central government and especially by the NRA, which has the necessary expertise.

Such reforms will prevent the restarts of reactors under such inadequate evacuation conditions by ensuring central government inspections in addition to safety checks by the local governments concerned.

In some disasters, individuals can make their own decisions concerning their safety. But a nuclear accident is not one of them.

Both the central and local governments should play far greater roles and assume far more important responsibilities in nuclear accidents than in other kinds of disasters.

http://ajw.asahi.com/article/views/editorial/AJ201603150037

March 17, 2016 Posted by | Japan | , | Leave a comment

Fukushima evacuations were not worth the money, study says

For sure such gibberish pseudo-scientific study, totally biased, must have been financed by the nuclear lobby to completely whitewash the Japanese Government failure to take the necessary real measures to adequately and effectively protect the eastern Japan population ( 50 millions people) from the effects of the March 2011 Fukushima explosions’ radioactive plumes, then from the radionuclides loaded gases released by Fukushima Daiichi for the past 5 years continuously contaminating the people, their living environment, plus their food and water supply.

Furthermore it chooses deliberately to ignore all the scientific studies made in the past 50 years about the harmful effects of radiation on various living species.

At the time on March 2011, the US Embassy in Tokyo had advised the Japanese Government to evacuate all the population within a 50-mile radius zone.  To not avail as the Japanese Government chose to evacuate only within a  12 to 19-mile radius zone ,  evacuating  in the end only 160,000 residents instead of the 2 millions residents as advised by the US Embassy.

 

 

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A gate is shut at the evacuation zone in Namie, Fukushima Prefecture, on Feb. 14. In such places, the scars are still obvious and many evacuees who fled are unwilling to return.

Fukushima evacuations were not worth the money, study says

LONDON – The costs of evacuating residents from near the Fukushima No. 1 plant and the dislocation the people experienced were greater than their expected gain in longevity, a British study has found.

The researchers found that at best evacuees could expect to live eight months longer, but that some might gain only one extra day of life. They said this does not warrant ripping people from their homes and communities.

The team of experts from four British universities developed a series of tests to examine the relocations after the Fukushima crisis and earlier Chernobyl disaster in 1986.

After a three-year study, the academics have concluded that Japan “overreacted” by relocating 160,000 residents of Fukushima Prefecture, even though radioactive material fell on more than 30,000 sq. km of territory.

“We judged that no one should have been relocated in Fukushima, and it could be argued this was a knee-jerk reaction,” said Philip Thomas, a professor of risk management at Bristol University. “It did more harm than good. An awful lot of disruption has been caused However, this is with hindsight and we are not blaming the authorities.”

The team used a wide range of economic and actuarial data, as well as information from the United Nations and the Japanese government.

In one test, an assessment of judgment value, the researchers calculated how many days of life expectancy were saved by relocating residents away from areas affected by radiation.

They compared this with the cost of relocation and how much this expenditure would impact the quality of people’s lives in the future.

From this information, they were able to work out the optimal or rational level of spending and make a judgment on the best measures to mitigate the effects of a nuclear accident.

Depending on how close people were to the radiation, the team calculated that the relocations added a period of between one day to 21 days to the evacuees’ lives.

But when this was compared with the vast amounts of money spent, the academics came to the conclusion that it was unjustified in all cases.

In some areas, they calculated that 150 times more money was being spent than was judged rational.

Thomas adds, the tests do not take into account the physical and psychological effects of relocating, which have been shown to have led to more than 1,000 deaths among elderly evacuees.

Other studies have also found that once people have lived away for a certain period of time it can become increasingly difficult to persuade them to return.

After Chernobyl, the world’s worst nuclear disaster, around 116,000 people were initially relocated away from the disaster zone.

Looking back on the incident, the team judged it was only worthwhile to relocate 31,000 people because they would have lost in excess of 8.7 months in life expectancy had they remained.

However, for the rest of the 116,000 people, it would have been a more rational decision to keep them where they were, given that their average loss of life was put at three months.

Four years later, a further 220,000 people were relocated from areas close to Chernobyl. Researchers found this unjustified.

Thomas says the loss in life expectancy following a nuclear accident has to be put into context alongside other threats all people face.

For example, it has been claimed that the average Londoner will lose about 4½ months in life expectancy due to high pollution levels.

Thomas concludes governments should carry out a more careful assessment before mounting a relocation operation of at least a year. A temporary evacuation could be a good idea while authorities work out the risk from radiation, he said.

In the future, Thomas would like to see more real-time information made available to the public on radiation levels in order to avoid hysteria and bad planning.

On a plus note, the team found that other remedial measures — decontaminating homes, deep ploughing of soil and bans on the sales of certain food products — were far more effective.

Thomas has already discussed his findings with colleagues at the University of Tokyo and he is keen that his findings can help better quantify the risks from radioactive leaks.

The project was sponsored by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council, Britain’s main agency for funding research in engineering and the physical sciences. It was intended to give advice for nuclear planners both in Britain and India.

The research team comprised specialists from City University in London, Manchester University, the Open University and Warwick University.

http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2016/03/14/national/fukushima-evacuations-were-not-worth-the-money-study-says/#.Vuhh6XomySo

March 15, 2016 Posted by | Fukushima 2016 | , , , | Leave a comment