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Study: Cesium levels in fish in Fukushima lakes, rivers differ

hklmThe Otagawa river, which runs through Minami-Soma, Fukushima Prefecture, and elsewhere, was surveyed for cesium levels in fish following the accident at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant. (Provided by the National Institute for Environmental Studies)

 

March 27, 2020

A team of scientists discovered that radioactive cesium released from the crippled Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant accumulates in freshwater fish differently in lakes and rivers.

How easily cesium is taken into bodies is determined by what the fish consume in lakes, although factors associated with water quality–such as the ratio of mud particles–are more important for those inhabiting rivers, according to the researchers.

The findings are expected to help predict the cesium concentration in aquatic creatures more accurately even when all of them are not examined individually, the researchers from the National Institute for Environmental Studies said.

The discovery could be used for estimating how the cesium level has lessened in each fish species,” said Yumiko Ishii, a senior researcher at the institution’s Fukushima Branch.

Higher radioactive cesium levels are reported in freshwater fish than those in the ocean in regions contaminated by the nuclear accident that started to unfold at the Tokyo Electric Power Co. plant in March 2011 following the Great East Japan Earthquake and tsunami.

While cesium remains mainly in the flesh, how the substance is ingested differs greatly depending on the species, habitat and other elements.

Sweetfish, char, landlocked salmon, carp and other species are still banned from shipping in certain areas, even nine years after the nuclear accident.

The research team studied how cesium accumulated in different species in areas of Fukushima Prefecture, targeting 30 kinds of fish in lakes Hayamako, Inawashiroko and Akimotoko as well as the Udagawa, Manogawa, Niidagawa, Otagawa and Abukumagawa rivers two to four years after the accident.

The results revealed that cesium levels could change in lakes if the fish consume differing foods. Higher readings were measured for landlocked salmon, char and other creatures preying on small fish, likely because cesium becomes concentrated in their bodies by eating tiny creatures.

On the other hand, the kinds of food they consume do not affect the cesium concentration in fish species living in rivers.

The findings showed cesium accumulates more easily when the water contains a smaller amount of tiny mud particles and carcasses of living creatures. The higher the ratio of those particles, the lower the cesium level becomes.

The researchers said the reason is apparently that cesium in water is absorbed into those particles, making it difficult for cesium to remain in the fish bodies as the substance is discharged in the particles through feces.

Meanwhile, higher cesium levels were detected for larger species both in lakes and rivers.

The discovery has been published in the international magazine Journal of Environmental Radioactivity at: (https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0265931X1830715X).

http://www.asahi.com/ajw/articles/13188720?fbclid=IwAR2fFLnJup-lrp-uzD6XA9_iXMs5zc1wFj5kN4Ugk-o1GM0hAqxuAGWb9yo

 

March 27, 2020 Posted by | Fukushima 2020 | , , , | Leave a comment

State funds to be juggled to cover cleanup costs from Fukushima

okuma storage facilityInterim storage facilities for radioactive waste from the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear disaster are shown in the foreground in Okuma, Fukushima Prefecture. Seen in the background is the nuclear complex.

 

March 18, 2020

The government has moved to revise a law to allow for the diversion of budgetary funds set aside for the promotion of renewable energy to help cover ballooning costs related to the storage of radioactive waste produced during cleanup work after the Fukushima nuclear disaster.

Tax revenues appropriated for renewable-related projects are not permitted to be used for nuclear power programs under the special account law, which governs budgets allocated for specific purposes.

Earlier this month, however, the government submitted a bill to the Diet to revise the law to make the diversion of funds legal. It plans to enact the legislation during the current Diet session and put the revised law into force in April 2021.

This would be the first time for a revenue source earmarked for a specific expenditure to be diverted to a different purpose.

But the revision bill is likely to draw criticism from the public as it concerns the divisive issue of nuclear power and raises further questions about the government’ longstanding insistence that nuclear power is an inexpensive energy source.

Energy-related expenditures are booked under the government’s special account, separately from the general account.

These expenditures are grouped into more categories, such as one for nuclear energy and another for renewable energy sources.

About 300 billion yen ($2.78 billion) a year is allocated for programs associated with nuclear energy, including grants to local governments hosting nuclear power plants, while 800 billion yen or so is set aside to promote renewable energy, energy saving efforts and ensuring a stable energy supply.

Revenues for nuclear energy-related programs are collected under the promotion of power resources development tax, which are levied on electricity rates. Those for renewables are collected from businesses importing petroleum and coal under the petroleum and coal tax.

They are project-specific tax revenues, meaning they cannot be used for other purposes. The amount of those budgets remains at similar levels each year. 

The government’s move was prompted by runaway costs to process a vast volume of contaminated waste due to the 2011 disaster at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant and maintain them in interim storage facilities in Fukushima Prefecture.

The government decided to shoulder some of the costs to help Tokyo Electric Power Co, operator of the stricken plant, and gained Cabinet approval to do so in December 2013.

Since fiscal 2014, it has set aside about 35 billion yen annually for the interim storage facilities. The funds come from revenues earmarked for nuclear energy-related projects in the special account.

But expenditures concerning the storage facilities are running a lot higher than initially envisaged.

An estimate released in late 2016 by the Ministry of Trade, Economy and Industry showed that the project will eventually cost 1.6 trillion yen, compared with an initial projection of 1.1 trillion yen.

The government has allocated an additional 12 billion yen annually for the storage facility project since fiscal 2017.

Government officials say the price tag could further increase in coming years, likely leaving the government with scant financial resources to cover the project.

The revision bill has a clause stipulating that funds diverted to nuclear energy-related programs must eventually be returned to renewable energy project-specific tax revenues.

But it remains unclear if the clause will ease objections from opponents of nuclear energy, even if the fund diversion is a temporary measure.

Yoshikazu Miki, former president of Aoyama Gakuin University and a specialist of the tax system in Japan, called on the government to justify its proposed fund diversion by providing a full explanation of the issue.

A special account budget has rarely been scrutinized during Diet debate, unlike the general account,” Miki said. “The revision bill requires special attention as it is related to a nuclear power plant. Some members of the public may raise objections to the revision. The government needs to explain the matter to taxpayers to defend its need to act in this way.” 

http://www.asahi.com/ajw/articles/13225190

March 20, 2020 Posted by | Fukushima 2020 | , , | Leave a comment

JR East’s Joban Line fully reopens after nine long years following Fukushima disaster

b-tohoku-a-20200315-870x541A train stops at Ono Station on the Joban Line in the town of Okuma, near the crisis-hit Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant, on Saturday as the long-suspended train line connecting Tokyo and Miyagi Prefecture fully resumes service.

 

Mar 14, 2020

FUKUSHIMA – After nine long years, service on the Joban Line is fully back on track.

The reopening of a 20.8 kilometer stretch between Tomioka and Namie near the crippled Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant means that all Tohoku train lines have now completely reopened following the March 2011 triple disaster.

While some anticipate that the improvement of public transport in disaster-hit areas along Fukushima Prefecture’s Pacific coast will lead to an increase in visitors and regional revitalization, others say the impact will be limited as cars remain the mode of transportation of choice for most residents.

Prior to reopening, JR East had offered bus services for the closed section of the Joban Line, a 344-kilometer route that connects Tokyo and Miyagi Prefecture.

Nine JR and private railway lines took more than a year to reopen following the disaster, according to the transport ministry.

The Rias Line, operated by Sanriku Railway Co., had been repaired following the 2011 disaster but was again damaged by Typhoon Hagibis last October.

With services fully resumed, limited express trains linking Tokyo with Sendai, the capital of Miyagi, will make three round-trips per day.

Among the five stations along the recently reopened section, three are in the towns of Futaba and Okuma, which host the crippled plant of Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings Inc., as well as Tomioka.

The three municipalities had been designated by the government as a no-go zone due to high radiation levels. The entry ban was gradually lifted in Okuma and Tomioka and the restrictions for areas near the stations in the three towns were newly removed earlier this month.

As of March 1, only 1,943 people reside in Okuma and Tomioka, while no one lives in Futaba. The three towns had a combined population of around 34,000 prior to the disaster.

Repair work on the damaged stretch of the Joban Line was long-delayed as most of it was located in a zone marked as having high levels of radiation, JR East said.

https://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2020/03/14/business/corporate-business/jr-east-joban-line-reopen-fukushima-disaster/#.Xm0J8XJCeUk

March 20, 2020 Posted by | Fukushima 2020 | , | Leave a comment

Starting the Olympic torch relay in Fukushima should remind us of the dangers of nuclear power

FILES-OLY-2020-TOKYO-JPN-JAPAN-NUCLEAR-FUKUSHIMAA woman protests against the Olympics and the government’s nuclear energy policy Feb. 29 in Naraha, Fukushima Prefecture, where the Olympic torch relay begins this month.

March 13, 2020

VANCOUVER – If the Tokyo Olympics are held on schedule, thousands of athletes will soon come to Japan. Considering the multiple reactors that melted down there nine years ago, in March 2011, the government’s decision to start the ceremonial torch relay in Fukushima Prefecture seems a bit odd, to say the least.

While radiation levels may have declined since 2011, there are still hot spots in the prefecture, including near the sports complex where the torch relay will begin and along the relay route. The persistence of this contamination, and the economic fallout of the reactor accidents, should remind us of the hazardous nature of nuclear power.

Simultaneously, changes in the economics of alternative sources of energy in the last decade invite us to reconsider how countries, including Japan, should generate electricity in the future.

Japan is not alone in having experienced severe nuclear accidents. The 1986 Chernobyl accident also contaminated very large areas in Ukraine and Belarus. As in Japan, many people had to be evacuated; about 116,000, according to the 2000 report of the U.N. Scientific Committee on the Effects of Atomic Radiation. Many of them never did return; 34 years after the accident, thousands of square kilometers remain closed off to human inhabitation.

Events such as these are, naturally, traumatic and result in people viewing nuclear power as a risky technology. In turn, that view has led to persistent and widespread public opposition around the world.

This is evident in Japan too, where opinion polls show overwhelming opposition to the government’s plans to restart nuclear plants that have been shut down. One poll from February 2019 found 56 percent of respondents were opposed to, with only 32 percent in favor of, resuming nuclear operations. Other polls show significant local opposition, one example coming out of Miyagi Prefecture. Even the Japan Atomic Energy Relations Organization, which aims to promote nuclear power, finds that only 17.3 percent prefer nuclear energy, with much larger majorities preferring solar, wind and hydro power.

There is also the immense cost of cleaning up after such accidents. Estimates for the Fukushima disaster range from nearly $200 billion to over $600 billion. In 2013, France’s nuclear safety institute estimated that a similar accident in France could end up costing $580 billion. In Japan, just the cost of bringing old nuclear power plants into compliance with post-Fukushima safety regulations has been estimated at $44.2 billion.

Even in the absence of accidents and additional safety features, nuclear power is already very expensive. For the United States, the Wall Street firm Lazard estimates an average cost of $155 per megawatt-hour of nuclear electricity, more than three times the corresponding estimates of around $40 per MWh each for wind and solar energy. The latter costs have declined by around 70 to 90 percent in the last 10 years. In the face of the high costs of nuclear power — economic, environmental and public health — and overwhelming public opposition, it is puzzling that the government would persist in trying to restart nuclear power plants.

To explain his support for the technology, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe claims that the country cannot do without nuclear power, especially in view of climate change concerns. The claim about the necessity of nuclear power makes little sense. Since 2011, the country has been generating only a fraction of the nuclear electricity it used to generate, and yet the lights have not gone off. Further, starting in 2015, Japan’s total greenhouse gas emissions have fallen below the levels in 2011, because of “reduced energy consumption” and the increase in “low-carbon electricity.” The latter, in turn, is because of an increasing fraction of renewable energy in electricity generation, a factor that could play an important role in the future.

Some, including the Global Energy Network Institute and a group of analysts led by Stanford University’s Mark Jacobson, argue that Japan could be 100 percent powered by renewable energy. Regardless of whether Japan reaches that goal, there is little doubt that Japan could be expanding renewable energy, and that increased reliance on renewables makes economic and environmental sense.

Instead, the Abe government seems to be involved in lowering incentives for the development of solar energy, and promoting nuclear power. Efforts by Abe to support the failing and flailing nuclear sector in Japan are indicative of the significant political power wielded by the “nuclear village,” the network of power companies, regulators, bureaucrats and researchers that controls nuclear and energy policy.

Moreover, Abenomics involves exports of nuclear components and technology, as well as conventional arms, as an important component. So far, despite many trips by Abe to various countries, Japan has yet to export any reactors in the last decade; a project with the most likely client, Turkey, collapsed because of high costs.

This suggests one possible explanation: Perhaps Abe realizes that before exporting nuclear reactors, he first has to shore up the domestic nuclear industry and prove that Japan has fully recovered from the 2011 nuclear disaster. But is that worth the risk?

Restarting nuclear reactors or constructing new ones, should that ever happen, only increases the likelihood of more nuclear accidents in the future and raises the costs of electricity. Regardless of who we cheer for at the Olympic Games, nuclear power does not deserve our applause.

https://www.japantimes.co.jp/opinion/2020/03/13/commentary/japan-commentary/starting-olympic-torch-relay-fukushima-remind-us-dangers-nuclear-power/?fbclid=IwAR3x4IaqlQwkdqMwg816C3CaL95O40DpbRcG6UTRbDRDm3qc63R0HvH5Cq0#.Xmx7IXJCeUl

March 20, 2020 Posted by | Fukushima 2020 | , , , | Leave a comment

Nine years after the Fukushima nuclear disaster: back to normal towards a bright future?

Translated by Hervé Courtois

 

1

 

Episode 1: radioactivity, return to the abnormal

March 9, 2020

A look back at the ninth anniversary of the Fukushima nuclear disaster – following the earthquake and tsunami of March 11, 2011. Today in Fukushima, the authorities are encouraging the return of refugees, without much success.

 

2The restaurant “Atom Sushi” in Tomioka, one year after the reopening of the village, has still not reopened.

 

The decontamination works will last more than 40 years but around the power plant, the exclusion zone is “only” 341 km², and the roads and villages formerly condemned are reopened one after the other by the authorities – anxious to a return to normal.

 

3Everywhere in the town of Fukushima, 80km from the power plant, they try to make people forget bad memories and make tourists coming back.

 

Except that villages like Iitate about fifty kilometers from the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant are still hopelessly empty.

 

4In the countryside near IItate, monitors are present everywhere in the landscape measuring radioactivity in microsieverts per hour.

 

How do we live there? The sociologist Cécile Asanuma-Brice, a researcher at the CNRS has been returning to the area every month for nine years. Ito-san travels the region with a Geiger counter and a shoulder strap dosimeter. Because as soon as we move away from the main axes, the future suddenly looks less bright.

 

5Nobuyoshi Ito returned to live in the previously evacuated area and collects data on environmental contamination

 

Episode 2: living with radioactivity

 

6Mr. Ito is always equipped with his dosimeter, to record the radioactivity accumulated in the reopened area.

 

Authorities are talking about a return to normal, and residents must get used to living with radioactivity. There are only two villages left in the 340 km² that are still too radioactive. Stations will be reopened in decontaminated pockets within these areas, but they will be fully automated to avoid irradiation of employees.

 

7Throughout the city of Fukushima, signs display the countdown of the days before the opening of the Olympic Games

 

And the Olympic flame will leave at the end of the month from the J village, about twenty kilometers from the power plant, and will even pass right by it – but according to a timed route to avoid too much exposure.
Everywhere they want to send the message that the page has been turned: “Forget the radiation, and think about the bright future of the Olympic Games”.

 

8

 

Except that to the rare refugees (no more than 20%) who returned to live in the reopened areas, it is something else that is been asked: to learn to live with radiation, on a daily basis.

 

9In the region, everywhere, radioactivity detectors are omnipresent, to reassure the population.

 

To get used to be living with a radioactivity detector. This is why the company Tepco, responsible for the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant, now speaks of “revitalizing” the area rather than about a return: it is because it had to be admitted that the original inhabitants would not return there.

 

10At Tepco’s headquarters in Tokyo, the company was nationalized after the disaster and announces 30 to 40 years of decontamination work.

 

Episode 3: Fukushima nine years later, it is impossible to turn the page

 

11On the Johoban highway that crosses the Fukushima area, an unbroken line of trucks transports radioactive waste to a disposal center. The soil measured at less than 8,000 becquerels per kilogram will be scattered everywhere.

 

March 11, 2020, 9 years to the day of the Fukushima disaster. And if the country has recovered from the magnitude 9.1 earthquake and tsunami that caused nearly 20,000 deaths, the area around the nuclear power plant is a wound that is far from being closed.

 

12Along the Tohoku coast, a tsunami-proof wall blocks the horizon

 

The radioactivity is still there and the evacuated residents still do not return. More than 44,000 refugees are still missing even though. Despite the radiation that will be there to last, the authorities want at all costs to use the Olympics this summer as an opportunity to turn the page on this regrettable incident. And that’s kind of the message that Tepco wants to give, when it opened a few months ago in Tomioka, a brand new information center, an interactive museum located 10km from the nuclear plant, to tell its version of the story. And necessarily, their version of the story is a little biased.

 

13In Tomioka, Tepco has just opened a museum to tell its side of the story and highlight all its efforts to revitalize the area.

 

No more than 20% of the evacuees returned to live near the plant, and almost exclusively elderly people like Ms. Kimiko. 9 years later, we are still far from the revitalization of Fukushima.

 

14Mrs. Kimiko returned to live in Tomioka 10km from the nuclear plant three years ago, she no longer recognizes her environment.

 

Episode 4: mothers of Fukushima

Nine years after the earthquake, the nuclear disaster is not over. Many are not content with orders to return to normal, given the abnormality of daily life around Fukushima – punctuated by radioactivity measures and prohibited areas. And even outside this perimeter, many associations mainly led by women and mothers, act daily for more transparency.

 

15Kaoru Konta is a medical doctor, she detects thyroid cancer.

 

For example, the MamaBecq, with a “Becq” like Becquerel, who inspect schoolyards with their Geiger counters. Or the Happy Island association, which organizes free screening for thyroid cancer in children. Happy Island is a funny name for such association, but you know how to say “happy island” in Japanese? “Fukushima”.

 

16Marie Suzuki is president of the association “Happy Island”

 

https://www.franceinter.fr/environnement/neuf-ans-apres-la-catastrophe-nucleaire-de-fukushima-retour-a-la-normale-vers-un-avenir-radieux?fbclid=IwAR3bm-4JHogTKj5a9ECW8en4e7X1g2WK4fsVlHo5F5N2o7IlcZOAlZvlIsQ

 

 

 

 

March 13, 2020 Posted by | Fukushima 2020 | , , | Leave a comment

Radioactivity on the move 2020: Recontamination and weather-related effects in Fukushima

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9 March 2020

Tokyo, Japan – Greenpeace Japan’s latest extensive radiation survey

has found evidence of recontamination caused by 2019’s Typhoon 19 (Hagibis) and Typhoon 21 (Bualoi), which released radioactive caesium from the forested mountains of Fukushima Prefecture. 

The survey, which was conducted over three weeks in October and November of 2019, observed concentrated radiation levels throughout Fukushima Prefecture. These localised areas were where radioactivity was observed at higher levels than in previous years, as well as a reduction in levels in some areas, and recontamination elsewhere. 

The survey identified high-level hotspots throughout Fukushima Prefecture, including in Fukushima City. This ongoing and complex radiological emergency in parts of Fukushima Prefecture runs directly counter to the narrative of the Japanese government which continues to push its propaganda of normalization in Fukushima and the effectiveness of its massive decontamination program.

Typhoons no. 19 & 21 deposited large volumes of rain across Japan, including in Fukushima Prefecture. In recent years, scientists have been reporting the effect of heavy rainfall leading to increased migration of radioactivity from mountainous forests through the river systems. 

The results of our 2019 radiation survey demonstrate the complex and persistent nature of radionuclide mobilization and recontamination in areas of Fukushima Prefecture. The mountainous forest regions of Fukushima prefecture, which have never been decontaminated, will continue to be long-term sources of recontamination. The findings from our recent radiation survey definitively disprove the myth of a ‘return to normal’ in parts of Fukushima.” said Kazue Suzuki, Energy Campaigner of Greenpeace Japan.

The main findings of the Greenpeace Japan investigation include:

  • Hotspots measured in all areas surveyed; including Okuma, Naraha (J-Village), as well in Fukushima City.
  • Significant variations in radiation levels from previous years in certain zones that cannot be explained by radioactive decay. 
  • Likely remobilization of radioactivity in the soil and weather-related effects resulting from heavy rainfall was also identified in the reopened area of Iitate, with significant changes in radiation levels comparing across the five year period for which we have data.
  • Along the Takase river in the newly reopened area of Namie, and where the government claims it is safe to live, 99% of radiation levels averaged 0.8 μSv/h with a maximum of 1.7 μSv/h, with 99% exceeded the government’s long-term decontamination target of 0.23 μSv/h measured at 1 meter and were twenty (20) times higher than pre-2011 levels.
  • In a period of four hours, the survey team identified forty-six (46) hot spots in the around Fukushima City central station, eleven of which equaled or exceeded the Japanese government decontamination long term target of 0.23 μSv/h measured at 1 meter; including observed levels of radiation that 137 times higher than the background radiation levels measured in the Fukushima environment prior to the 2011 nuclear disaster. 
  • In an area close to a former school and kindergarten in the reopened area of Namie, annual dose rates would be between 10-20 mSv based on the Japanese government methodology and between 17-33 mSv based on sustained exposure over a full year; which are between 10 and 33 times above the international recommended maximum exposure for the public.
  • Near the new town hall in the newly reopened area of Okuma, and within a few hundred meters of the planned Olympic torch route, radiation hotspots were measured to be of 1.5 µSv/h at 1 meter and 2.5 µSv/h at 10cm (62 times above the background levels of 0.04 µSv/h before the nuclear accident in March 2011).
  • The evidence from earlier typhoons and resulting data strongly suggest that there was a substantial increase in downstream contamination from October 2019. Greenpeace intends to return later this year to further investigate and substantiate the hypothesis of major weathering effects in Fukushima.

The radiation hotspots we found in public areas along the pavements and streets of central Fukushima City, including tens of meters from the entrance to the Shinkansen train line to Tokyo, highlight the ongoing scale of the nuclear disaster in 2011. The hotspots we found are at a level that they would require a special license to be transported and in the category of Dangerous Goods. The government is using the Olympics as a platform to communicate the myth that everything has returned to normal in Fukushima. They falsely claim that radiation has either been decontaminated or is under control. Our radiation survey clearly shows that the government propaganda is not true.” said Shaun Burnie, Senior Nuclear Specialist of Greenpeace Germany.

Mizue Kanno, a resident of Namie who cooperated on the Greenpeace radiation survey said, “I hope the world knows the real situation in Fukushima. Radioactivity is washing down from the mountains due to heavy rain and flowing into the decontaminated areas. The radiation levels found around my house are higher than ever before. Once a nuclear accident happens, it looks like this, and soon we are going to have the Olympics and pretend that everything is okay. It’s not. ”

ENDS

Notes:

Full report in English, here


Photos and videos, here

https://www.greenpeace.org/international/press-release/29250/radioactivity-on-the-move-2020/

March 11, 2020 Posted by | Fukushima 2020 | , , , | 1 Comment

Soil from decontamination work kept in communities

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March 8, 2020

Nine years after the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear accident, more than half of the waste created by decontamination work is still kept near residents’ homes.

About 14 million cubic meters of soil and vegetation has been collected in clean-up operations in areas affected by the nuclear accident in Fukushima Prefecture, except for heavily contaminated off-limit areas.

The environment ministry plans to transfer all such waste to intermediate storage facilities near the crippled nuclear power plant by March 2022.

As of the end of February, only about 6.3 million cubic meters, or around 45 percent of the total waste, had been transferred to the facilities.

The rest was stored at school compounds, parks, and temporary storage sites.

Environment Minister Shinjiro Koizumi told reporters on Friday that the waste needs to be removed from the locations as quickly as possible so that local residents can feel secure.

https://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/en/news/20200308_02/

March 11, 2020 Posted by | Fukushima 2020 | , , | 1 Comment

Japan lifts evacuation order for town hit by Fukushima disaster

Futaba to reopen for start of Olympic torch relay after being deserted for nine years

3448The entrance of Futaba town, which has been empty since the leak at the nearby Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant in 2011.

 

March 4, 2020

Japan has lifted an evacuation order for parts of a town in the shadow of the wrecked Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, weeks before the area is to host the start of the Olympic torch relay.

Futaba, 2.4 miles (4km) west of the plant, has been almost deserted since the nuclear meltdown nine years ago, while other areas in the region have mounted a partial recovery after the government declared them safe for residents.

The start of the relay’s Japan leg at the end of the month is supposed to showcase Fukushima’s recovery from the world’s worst nuclear accident since Chernobyl in 1986, but some residents say their home towns may never return to normal.

Futaba’s 7,000 residents were forced to evacuate after the March 2011 disaster, which was triggered by a powerful earthquake and tsunami that killed more than 18,000 people along Japan’s north-east coast.

The reopening of a 1.5 sq mile area of Futaba means reconstruction workers can stay in accommodation near the railway station, but residents will not be able to return for another two years, when its water supply and other infrastructure will have been restored, according to local officials.

They will be able to enter and leave for short visits without going through security, and will no longer need to wear protective clothing, but will not be allowed to stay overnight.

While the coronavirus outbreak has prompted speculation that the Olympics could be cancelled or postponed, Japan’s government is keen to promote Tokyo 2020 as proof that the region, including Fukushima, has recovered from the triple disaster.

I’m overwhelmed with emotion as we finally bring part of our town operations back to our home town,” said Futaba’s mayor, Shiro Izawa. “I pledge to push forward with our recovery and reconstruction.”

The domestic leg of the torch relay is due to begin on 26 March at J-Village, a football training complex that functioned for years as a logistics hub for crews working to control and decommission the damaged nuclear plant 12 miles away.

Although organisers have said the route is subject to change, the torch is scheduled to pass through Futaba later the same day, before being taken through other parts of Fukushima prefecture over the following two days.

 

3128A guard opens the gate to the town in Futaba.

In addition to building excitement across the country ahead of the Tokyo 2020 Games and promoting the Olympic values, the Olympic torch relay aims to demonstrate solidarity with the regions still recovering from the 2011 earthquake and tsunami,” the organisers said last month.

More than 160,000 people were forced to flee their homes during the Fukushima meltdown. Many have decided not to return, despite government reassurances on safety, and many of those who have returned are older residents.

Futaba is no exception, with just 10% of residents saying they intend to return. Some, particularly those with young children, are concerned about radiation levels, while others have built new lives elsewhere.

Yuji Onuma, a Futaba resident, said recent work to repair streets and decontaminate the town centre was designed to give the world a false impression before the Olympic torch relay.

I wish they wouldn’t hold the relay here,” Onuma told Reuters. Pointing at workers repaving a road expected to be on the relay route, he added: “Their number one aim is to show people how much we’ve recovered. I don’t think people will understand anything by just seeing cleaned-up tracts of land.”

Radiation readings in the air taken in February near Futaba’s railway station were around 0.28 microsieverts per hour, higher than the government-set target of 0.23 microsieverts an hour.

Another part of the town had a reading of 4.64 microsieverts per hour on the same day, meaning a person would reach the annual exposure upper limit of 1 millisievert, recommended by the International Commission on Radiological Protection, in just nine days.

The torch is due to pass through the village of Iitate the following day, but campaigners this week described the relay as inappropriate and warned they had found radiation “hotspots” in the village.

In a survey of 69 locations along and around the proposed relay route, the grassroots group the Radioactivity Monitoring Centre for Citizens said it had found 44 sites with radioactive levels above 0.23 microsieverts per hour, including one “severe hotspot” of 0.85 microsieverts per hour along the torch relay route.

The discovery of hotspots near J-Village by Greenpeace Japan at the end of last year prompted the environment ministry and the nuclear plant’s operator, Tokyo Electric Power, to perform extra decontamination work.

While some independent monitors have said the discovery of isolated hotspots does not present an accurate picture of the overall situation in Fukushima, Nobuyoshi Ito, an Iitate farmer, said the civic group’s findings cast doubts on government claims that decontamination work had been a success.

Radiation exposure for runners passing along the route may not be very high, but the overall situation in places like Iitate is severe,” Ito said. “Levels are several times to as many as 20 times higher in the village than they were before the disaster, and people who moved back have to put up with that 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.”

Of Iitate’s pre-disaster population of 6,100, only 1,200 people have returned, Ito said. “The small number of people coming means that the nuclear disaster is not over yet. The truth is that full recovery from a nuclear disaster like this is just not possible.”

https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2020/mar/04/japan-lifts-evacuation-order-futaba-town-fukushima-disaster?CMP=share_btn_fb&fbclid=IwAR0L6-CAj0LYlEtKWrdeQF_bim4qUZIp_iEvbtV4uxlW4MnwIeSy6T8_CAk

March 5, 2020 Posted by | Fukushima 2020 | , , , , | Leave a comment

In Fukushima, Olympic torch relay faces cool welcome from nuclear evacuees

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March 2, 2020

FUTABA, Japan (Reuters) – Dressed in protective plastic coveralls and white booties, Yuji Onuma stood in front of the row of derelict buildings that included his house, and sighed as he surveyed his old neighborhood.

On the once-bustling main street, reddish weeds poked out of cracked pavements in front of abandoned shops with caved-in walls and crumbling roofs. Nearby, thousands of black plastic bags filled with irradiated soil were stacked in a former rice field.

It’s like visiting a graveyard,” he said.

Onuma, 43, was back in his hometown of Futaba to check on his house, less than 4 kilometers from the Fukushima nuclear power plant, which suffered a triple meltdown in 2011 following an earthquake and tsunami, leaking radiation across the region.

The authorities say it will be two more years before evacuees can live here again, an eternity for people who have been in temporary housing for nine years. But given the lingering radiation here, Onuma says he has decided not to move back with his wife and two young sons.

Most of his neighbors have moved on, abandoning their houses and renting smaller apartments in nearby cities or settling elsewhere in Japan.

Given the problems Futaba still faces, many evacuees are chafing over the government’s efforts to showcase the town as a shining example of Fukushima’s reconstruction for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

While there has been speculation that the global spread of the coronavirus that emerged in China last month might force the cancellation of the Olympics, Japanese officials have said they are confident the Games will go ahead.

The Olympic torch relay will take place in Fukushima in late March – although possibly in shortened form as a result of the coronavirus, Olympic organizers say – and will pass through Futaba. In preparation, construction crews have been hard at work repairing streets and decontaminating the center of town.

I wish they wouldn’t hold the relay here,” said Onuma. He pointed to workers repaving the road outside the train station, where the torch runners are likely to pass. “Their number one aim is to show people how much we’ve recovered.”

He said he hoped that the torch relay would also pass through the overgrown and ghostly parts of the town, to convey everything that the 7,100 residents uprooted of Futaba lost as a result of the accident.

I don’t think people will understand anything by just seeing cleaned-up tracts of land.”

UNDER CONTROL”

In 2013, when Prime Minister Shinzo Abe was pitching Tokyo as the host of the 2020 Games to International Olympic Committee members, he declared that the situation at the Fukushima nuclear plant was “under control”.

The Games have been billed as the “Reconstruction Olympics” – an opportunity to laud Japan’s massive effort to rebuild the country’s northeastern region, ravaged by the earthquake and tsunami, as well as the meltdowns at the nuclear plant owned by Tokyo Electric Power Co.

After the disaster, the government created a new ministry to handle reconstruction efforts and pledged 32 trillion yen ($286.8 billion) in funding to rebuild affected areas.

 

kkmùùYuji Onuma, an evacuee from Futaba Town near tsunami-crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, walks next to a collapsed shop on the street in Futaba Town, inside the exclusion zone around the plant, Fukushima Prefecture, Japan February 20, 2020.

 

Signs of the reconstruction efforts are everywhere near the plant: new roads have been built, apartment blocks for evacuee families have sprouted up, and an imposing tsunami wall now runs along the coastline. An army of workers commutes to the wrecked plant every day to decommission the reactors.

In March, just days before the Olympic relay is scheduled to be held across Fukushima, Japan will partially ease a restriction order for Futaba, the last town that remains off-limits for residents to return.

This means that residents like Onuma will be able to freely come and go from the town without passing through security or changing into protective clothing. Evacuees will still not be able to stay in their homes overnight.

After a few years bouncing between relatives’ homes and temporary apartments, Onuma decided to build a new house in Ibaraki, a nearby prefecture. His two sons are already enrolled in kindergarten and primary school there.

You feel a sense of despair,” said Onuma. “Our whole life was here and we were just about to start our new life with our children.”

When Onuma was 12, he won a local competition to come up with a catchphrase promoting atomic energy. His words, “Nuclear Energy for a Brighter Future” was painted on an arch that welcomed visitors to Futaba.

After the nuclear meltdowns, the sign was removed against Onuma’s objections.

It feels like they’re whitewashing the history of this town,” said Onuma, who now installs solar panels for a living.

The organizing committee for the Tokyo 2020 Olympics did not respond to requests for comment from Reuters.

 

BACK BURNER”

Other residents and community leaders in nearby towns say the Olympics may have actually hindered the region’s recovery.

Yasushi Niitsuma, a 60-year-old restaurant owner in Namie, said the Olympics stalled local reconstruction projects because of surging demand and costs to secure workers and materials ahead of the games in Tokyo.

We need to wait two years, three years to have a house built because of the lack of craftsmen,” said Niitsuma. “We are being put on the back burner.”

Fukushima’s agriculture and fisheries industries have also been devastated.

I was astonished by the “under control” comment made in a pitch to win the Olympic Games,” said Takayuki Yanai, who directs a fisheries co-op in Iwaki, 50 kilometers south of the nuclear plant, referring to Abe’s statement.

People in Fukushima have the impression that reconstruction was used as a bait to win the Olympic Games.”

A government panel recently recommended discharging contaminated water held at the Fukushima plant to the sea, which Yanai expects to further hurt what remains of the area’s fisheries industry.

At a recent news conference, Reconstruction Minister Kazunori Tanaka responded to a question from Reuters about criticism from Fukushima evacuees.

We will work together with relevant prefectures, municipalities and various organizations so that people in the region can take a positive view,” he said, referring to the Olympics.

Local officials also say they are making progress for the return of residents to Futaba.

Unlike Chernobyl, we are aiming to go back and live there,” Futaba Mayor Shirou Izawa said in an interview, calling the partial lifting of the evacuation order a sign of “major progress”.

There were a lot of misunderstandings about the radiation levels in the town, including the safety of produce and fish from Fukushima, Izawa said.

It would be great if such misunderstanding is dispelled even a little bit,” he said.

Radiation readings in the air taken in February near Futaba’s train station were around 0.28 microsieverts per hour, still approximately eight times the measurement taken on the same day in central Tokyo.

Another area in Futaba had a reading of 4.64 microsieverts per hour on the same day, meaning a person would reach the annual exposure upper limit of 1 millisievert, recommended by the International Commission on Radiological Protection, in just nine days.

Despite the official assurances, it’s hard to miss the signs of devastation and decay around town.

The block where Takahisa Ogawa’s house once stood is now just a row of overgrown lots, littered with concrete debris. A small statue of a stone frog is all that remains of his garden, which is also scattered with wild boar droppings.

He finally demolished his house last year after he failed to convince his wife and two sons to return to live in Futaba.

Ogawa doubts any of his childhood friends and neighbors would ever return to the town.

I’ve passed the stage where I’m angry and I’m resigned,” he said.

https://www.reuters.com/article/us-olympics-2020-futaba-insight/in-fukushima-olympic-torch-relay-faces-cool-welcome-from-nuclear-evacuees-idUSKBN20P03M?fbclid=IwAR0G7Exv5bLjdYCHCdmV5PA7L15qoZ3KpCScZIa8F8_TU9AAzNBvSW9aKvE

March 5, 2020 Posted by | Fukushima 2020 | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Japan Lifts Shipment Restrictions on All Fish Species off Fukushima

gkjllmmPeople in the fishing industry, including fishermen and brokers, work briskly on Feb. 7, 2019, at the Matsukawaura fishing port in Soma, Fukushima Prefecture.

Japan Lifts Shipment Restrictions on All Fish Species off Fukushima

February 25, 2020

Fukushima, Feb. 25 (Jiji Press)–The Japanese government has lifted shipment restrictions on all of its designated fish species caught off Fukushima Prefecture that were introduced due to the 2011 nuclear disaster, a panel said Tuesday.

The government’s Nuclear Emergency Response Headquarters announced the lifting after fish of the one last remaining species of the 43 satisfied safety standards.

The restrictions had covered the 43 fish species caught off Fukushima, which hosts the disaster-crippled Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings Inc.’s <9501> Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant. The last one is a species of skate.

In August 2016, the shipment restrictions on the fish were lifted. But in January 2019, the restrictions were reinstated after above-limit cesium was detected from skates caught off Fukushima.

Currently, members of the Fukushima Prefectural Federation of Fisheries Cooperative Associations voluntarily refrain from fishing in waters within 10 kilometers of the TEPCO plant, which underwent a triple meltdown after the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami.

https://www.nippon.com/en/news/yjj2020022501227/japan-lifts-shipment-restrictions-on-all-fish-species-off-fukushima.html

Fishermen in Fukushima now free to ship all catches of fish

February 26, 2020

The last restrictions on fish taken off Fukushima Prefecture were lifted on Feb. 25, freeing fishermen here to ship any species caught in the area.

A ban was imposed on ocellate skate after one caught in the area was found to have levels of radioactive cesium exceeding the government standard of 100 becquerels per kilogram in January 2019. 

The government task force on the Fukushima nuclear disaster removed restrictions on the bottom-feeding species related to rays after the prefecture measured levels in about 1,000 fish, and found none exceeded the standard.

The maximum amount found in the fish was 17 becquerels.

The prefecture has since asked the government to lift the restrictions.

Restrictions were placed on 43 species of fish caught off the coast of the prefecture following the 2011 accident at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant.

The restrictions were lifted in stages after the safety of the fish was confirmed, with some fishing allowed on a trial basis.

In 2019, with trial fishing on limited days and in specified areas, the annual catch from the area stood at 3,584 tons, only about 14 percent of that in 2010, a year before the nuclear disaster.

Discussions will now start to resume full operation.

http://www.asahi.com/ajw/articles/13165594

February 27, 2020 Posted by | Fukushima 2020 | , , | 1 Comment

Releasing radioactive water would further damage Fukushima’s reputation

n-sato-a-20200226-870x580Fukushima’s fishing industry was one of the prefecture’s hardest-hit sectors following the March 2011 nuclear disaster.

Feb 25, 2020

Releasing the treated radioactive water stored at the Fukushima No.1 nuclear power plant risks further damage to the disaster-hit prefecture’s reputation and negates the nine-year effort to dispel negative perceptions about local agricultural produce, fisheries and tourism.

Although the government is considering dumping the water into the ocean, it should find a different solution and listen to the concerns of the people of Fukushima and local industries.

As the governor of Fukushima Prefecture between 2006 and 2014, I had my work cut out for me after the earthquake, tsunami and nuclear accident in March 2011.

Some of my main challenges after the disaster were securing the safety of the residents, ensuring they had access to evacuation shelters, managing the whereabouts of 160,000 evacuees scattered in and out of the prefecture and deciding on the site for interim storage of the soil and waste generated by the decontamination effort.

Determining the site was very difficult, but in the end the towns of Okuma and Futaba, which co-host the crippled nuclear power plant, honorably made the agonizing decision to accommodate it on condition that the tainted waste would be moved to a final disposal site outside of Fukushima within 30 years after the storage began.

During my term, I visited South Korea and China in 2012 to explain to local media using scientific facts that Fukushima produce is safe. I also helped arrange for several national and international conferences to be held in Fukushima Prefecture, based on the belief that coming to the prefecture and trying the local food was the best way to reassure guests that the area was safe and secure.

In December 2012, I lured an International Atomic Energy Agency meeting to the prefecture. Hundreds of nuclear specialists, ministers and other dignitaries from around the world gathered to share the lessons from the nuclear disaster and discuss the need to reinforce nuclear safety.

Today, nearly a decade after the disaster, Fukushima’s reputation is recovering — but only to a limited extent.

Although the government has prioritized ensuring security based on scientific facts, the public sense of security has yet to be restored.

Notwithstanding the central and prefectural government’s message about safety from radiation, local produce still carries cheaper price tags than those from other prefectures and the number of school trips to Fukushima has not bounced back to pre-disaster levels.

The fishing industry along the eastern coast, which the nuclear power plant faces, has taken one of the biggest hits from the negative perception of Fukushima. The prices of fish caught off the prefecture are extremely low when they are brought to Tokyo.

Fukushima is one of the major rice producers in Japan. After the disaster, officials began to check all of the prefecture’s annual output of around 10 million bags of rice for radioactive materials. The blanket testing takes a lot of effort. Even though the inspection confirms the products’ safety, they are cheaper just because they come from Fukushima.

I heard that farmers in the western region of Aizu — one of the main rice producers in the prefecture — asked the agricultural cooperative to use Aizu labels, rather than those of Fukushima, to avoid stigma. The neighborhood is located more than 100 kilometers from the area that hosts the power plant.

According to the Consumer Affairs Agency, the share of people in Tokyo and other metropolitan areas who said they hesitate to buy food products from Fukushima due to radiation contamination fears was 12.5 percent in February 2019.

The stigma from the nuclear disaster has beleaguered tourism in Aizu, which is finally showing signs of recovery. Because the name of the Fukushima nuclear power plant contains Fukushima, it gives the inevitable impression that the entire prefecture is contaminated with radiation.

Discharging water containing radioactive tritium — which cannot be removed by the current filtering technology — into the environment would only exacerbate these problems. Even though the government insists that releasing the water into the ocean is safe, some in Japan and abroad have yet to change their perceptions of Fukushima.

Gaining the understanding of local residents about the release method would be difficult. Rice farmers, for example, have suffered ever since the disaster. Their prime Koshihikari brand of rice, which was the nation’s second-most popular after Niigata’s before the disaster, used to sell out quickly.

Fukushima is a few more steps away from convincing consumers that its agriculture, forestry and fisheries products are safe and secure, so I want the government and plant operator Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings Inc. to prioritize the opinions of people in these key industries when discussing the issue of releasing the water.

When I was governor, the government and Tepco started to curb the amount of water being tainted with radioactive particles because the storage tanks, which could hold 1,000 tons of water each, filled up in just two days.

Doing so required preventing groundwater from flowing into the reactor buildings. We set up an impermeable wall of frozen soil around the reactor buildings to stem the flow of groundwater into the area, but this method did not work well at first.

So we used other approaches to divert groundwater away from the reactors. The combination of the methods reduced water flowing into the buildings from 450 tons to 130 tons a day.

But now the tanks are nearing their capacity, with Tepco estimating that they will reach that point by around the summer of 2022.

I understand that we cannot keep building storage tanks for the water. There is a limit to their capacity.

However, this dilemma calls for pooling scientific and other expertise from around the world to explore potential solutions, while building trust with local residents.

Tepco, which created the problem, and the government should take on the bulk of that task.

https://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2020/02/25/national/social-issues/fukushima-radioactive-water-damage/#.XlYmt0pCeUk

February 27, 2020 Posted by | Fukushima 2020 | , , , | Leave a comment

Fukushima ‘safe’ to host Olympic torch relay: governor

jlmmmFukushima Gov. Masao Uchibori speaks to foreign media on Feb. 18, 2020, in Tokyo

February 19, 2020

TOKYO (Kyodo) — Fukushima Gov. Masao Uchibori said Tuesday the northeastern Japan prefecture, devastated by the 2011 earthquake, tsunami, and nuclear disaster, is safe to host its leg of the Olympic torch relay.

With the Japanese government designating the upcoming Tokyo Games as “Reconstruction Olympics,” the torch relay in the country will kick off on March 26 at J-Village, a football training center in the prefecture that was once an operational base for dealing with the nuclear crisis. Opening matches for Olympic baseball and softball will be played in Fukushima city as well.

“Through this ‘Reconstruction Olympics,’ we would like to show how Fukushima’s reconstruction has progressed in the past nine years as the result of efforts in cooperation with the Japanese government,” the governor told a press briefing in Tokyo.

Holding the Olympic events “doesn’t mean the reconstruction has finished,” he said, adding the prefecture also suffered damage from Typhoon Hagibis, which left a trail of destruction across wide areas of Japan last fall.

The quake and tsunami disasters in northeastern Japan left more than 15,000 people dead and triggered the world’s worst nuclear disaster since the 1986 Chernobyl crisis. Typhoon Hagibis in October caused massive floods in Fukushima.

The safety of the torch relay route has been confirmed through constant radiation monitoring, among other measures, Uchibori said.

Late last year, Greenpeace Japan informed the Japanese government and Olympic bodies that radiation hot spots were discovered around J-Village, prompting Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings Inc., the operator of the crisis-hit Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, to remove the soil in the affected areas.

In the town of Naraha, one of the municipalities hosting J-Village, only about half of the residents have returned after the evacuation, according to Uchibori.

https://mainichi.jp/english/articles/20200219/p2g/00m/0na/024000c

February 23, 2020 Posted by | Fukushima 2020 | , , , | Leave a comment

Fogwater deposition of radiocesium in the forested mountains of East Japan during the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant accident: A key process in regional radioactive contamination

1-s2.0-S1352231020300807-gr1.sml
– High concentrations of 137Cs activity in throughfall were most likely due to fogwater deposition.
– Forested mountain areas were contaminated by fogwater deposition in East Japan.
– Fogwater deposition may have a role in radiocesium cycling in forest ecosystems.
Abstract
Because of limited environmental monitoring data, the regional-scale impact of the deposition of fogwater radiologically contaminated by the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant (F1NPP) accident remains unclear.
To redress this situation, we present an observational report of the radiocesium concentration in fogwater and its deposition in a Japanese forest during the early stages of the F1NPP accident (March 2011). The data were acquired by using a passive collector to capture fogwater above the forest canopy on a monthly basis. In addition, the radiocesium concentrations in monthly throughfall and stemflow were measured under the canopies of four tree species.
The 137Cs activity concentration in fogwater during the observational period was 45.8 Bq L−1, which was twice as high as that present in bulk precipitation. The ratio of 137Cs in throughfall to that in bulk precipitation (TF/BP ratio) ranged from 1.0 to 2.5. The high TF/BP ratios may have been caused by the high radiocesium concentration in fogwater deposition.
Based on this assumption, we assessed the TF/BP ratio according to the 137Cs activity concentrations of throughfall and bulk precipitation measured in various mountainous regions in East Japan. Our results reveal that the TF/BP ratio is high at some sites and that it increases with elevation.
Sites with a high TF/BP ratio were almost entirely situated in areas of fogwater deposition, as predicted by an atmospheric dispersion model. In addition, sites with a high TF/BP ratio were above the cloud base at the time when plumes with high atmospheric 137Cs activity concentrations passed through the areas.
Thus, these measurements of radiocesium in fogwater during the early stages of the F1NPP accident provide evidence that fogwater with high radioactive contamination was deposited in the forested mountain areas of East Japan.
Given the major impact of fogwater deposition of radiocesium, its role should be considered carefully to better understand radiocesium cycling in forest ecosystems.

February 18, 2020 Posted by | Fukushima 2020 | , , | Leave a comment

Fukushima and the 2020 Olympics

by Shaun Burnie –  5 February 2020

As 2020 is the year the Olympics and Paralympics come to Japan, this is an exciting time for sports and for the people of Japan. Amidst all the excitement however, there is the ongoing nuclear crisis in Fukushima prefecture. Labeled as the ‘Reconstruction Olympics’, Prime Minister Abe in 2013 declared that the situation at Fukushima Daiichi was under control. Seven years later there still remains a nuclear emergency at the nuclear plant and surrounding areas. In addition to the enormous challenges of how to safely manage over 1 million tonnes of contaminated water at the site and as much as 880 tonnes of molten nuclear fuel for which there is no credible solution, there remain wider issues regarding radioactive contamination of the environment, its effect on workers and Fukushima citizens, including evacuees and their human rights.

01Greenpeace radiation survey team in Fukushima, Japan

 

These issues were the subject of a 28 January 2020 documentary

broadcast by the U.S. network HBO as an investigative report by the program ‘Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel ’, the U.S.’s most-honored sports journalism series (with 33 Sports Emmy Awards, including 19 for Outstanding Sports Journalism) during the opening episode of its 26th season. 

What does it mean to host the Olympics and Paralympics in the context of an ongoing nuclear disaster, the effects of which are still being felt by tens of thousands of Japanese citizens? What does it tell about the Japanese government and its commitment to respecting the values of transparency and the human rights of its citizens? These are some of the important questions raised by HBO and they warrant careful consideration in the months leading up to this year’s summer games.

02Greenpeace radiation survey team in Fukushima, Japan

 

Greenpeace Japan applauds Olympic values and spirit, while recognizing that the International Olympic Committee (IOC) has the responsibility to ensure the Olympic Games have a minimum impact on the environment and leave a positive legacy for those hosting the Games. The IOC has an opportunity to do this in a way that fulfills the ideals of the environment as the third pillar of Olympism – sustainability – by making the Games a showcase for environmental solutions. Simultaneously, we recognize that hosting the Olympics and Paralympics requires the Japanese Government to ensure absolute safety for athletes, international visitors, and the Japanese public alike. 

The decision to host two sporting events in Fukushima city raises genuine and important questions over radiation risks. The route of the Olympic Torch relay in all the municipalities of Fukushima prefecture includes the districts of Iitate, Namie, and Okuma where Greenpeace Japan’s Nuclear Monitoring & Radiation Protection Team has discovered radioactive hotspots, both in the open areas as well as in the remaining radiation exclusion zones, that remain too high even by revised governmental standards. What does all this mean for the hosting of Olympic events, including for athletes and visitors?

03Greenpeace radiation survey team in Fukushima, Japan

 

By conducting extensive radiation investigations, Greenpeace Japan attempts to explain the complex radiological environment, where nothing is straightforward, and where judging precise risks to health at the individual level is near impossible. In an effort to better understand and explain the radiological situation in parts of Fukushima, as well as the ongoing issues of human rights for both Fukushima citizens and decontamination workers, Greenpeace Japan will be publishing its latest radiation survey results in early March 2020.

Shaun Burnie is Senior Nuclear Specialist at Greenpeace Germany.

https://www.greenpeace.org/international/story/28509/fukushima-and-the-2020-olympics/

February 6, 2020 Posted by | Fukushima 2020 | , , , | Leave a comment

Olympics: Tokyo torch relay to add another Fukushima reactor town

Dentsu Corporation, the hired PR company to calm the fears of the Japanese public, is using every gimmick in the book to deny the existing radiation risks to promote the 2020 Tokyo Olympics

ggjkllJapanese actress Satomi Ishihara, center, attends a promotional event for the 2020 Tokyo Olympic and Paralympic torch relays at an elementary school in Tokyo, on Jan. 16, 2020.

January 18, 2020

TOKYO (Kyodo) — The 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games torch relay is likely to pass through the town of Futaba, which hosts the disabled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant in northeastern Japan, as the government plans to lift the mandatory evacuation order for the town on March 4, sources familiar with the matter said Friday.

The town of Okuma, a co-host of the nuclear plant, was already included in the first day of the torch relay. Fukushima Prefecture aims to highlight on the global stage its reconstruction from the world’s worst nuclear accident since Chernobyl in 1986.

Organizers announced in July 2018 that Fukushima would be the starting point for the torch relay in the country. Last March, Yoshiro Mori, the organizing committee’s president, revealed that the relay would begin some 20 kilometers from the Fukushima plant at the J-Village national soccer training center, which was used as an operational base for handling the nuclear crisis.

The Olympic torch will arrive in Japan on March 20 and the flame will be taken to Ishinomaki Minamihama Tsunami Recovery Memorial Park in Ishinomaki, Miyagi Prefecture.

It will then travel by train through Miyagi and Iwate prefectures before making its way to Fukushima. The three prefectures were hit hardest by the powerful earthquake and tsunami on March 11, 2011.

The Japan leg of the relay will begin on March 26, 2020, two weeks after the flame lighting ceremony in Greece, and will carry the torch across all 47 prefectures in the country over a period of 121 days.

The Tokyo Olympics are scheduled to be held between July 24 and Aug. 9, followed by the Paralympics from Aug. 25 to Sept. 6.

https://mainichi.jp/english/articles/20200118/p2g/00m/0sp/034000c

January 21, 2020 Posted by | Fukushima 2020 | , , , , | Leave a comment