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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

Wild Animals Prefer Nuclear Exclusion Zones to Humans

January 10

The Nuclear Disaster of Fukushima in 2011 was a devastating event, combined with the severe earthquakes and terrifying tsunamis, resulting in the deaths of over 2,000 people in Japan. However, there are now new signs of life within the area, as wild animals are beginning to obtain the land and are reported to be thriving significantly.

The Fukushima Nuclear accident naturally resulted in an exclusion zone being enforced due to the extremely high levels of radiation in the area. This event shares large similarities with the Chernobyl Nuclear Disaster in 1986, with the immediate and extended areas being entirely excluded to humans.

A further surprising link between the two accidents is the revival of natural wildlife to both surrounding areas of the nuclear accidents. In recent years, there have been numerous reports concerning land, within Chernobyl and Pripyat, of wild animals returning to settle down in the nuclear infested areas.

The University of Georgia have been able to conduct research, where they have collected an estimate of 260,000 images of wildlife living successfully inside the exclusion zone. Their studies conclude that more than 20 different species have been identified.

“Our results represent the first evidence that numerous species of wildlife are now abundant throughout the Fukushima Evacuation Zone, despite the presence of radiological contamination” said James Beasley, an associate professor at the Savannah River Ecology Laboratory and the Warnell School of Forestry and Natural Resources at the University.

In addition, with the current suffering and loss of wild animals currently taking place on the other side of the globe in the Australian fires, where estimates suggest that one billion animals have lost their lives. It raises the question as to whether wild animals would prefer to be left to their own devices and enabled to thrive, without human interference. In this instance, the human contribution towards climate change is the leading culprit for the events in Australia.

https://www.euroweeklynews.com/2020/01/10/wild-animals-prefer-nuclear-exclusion-zones-to-humans/#.XhoJtCNCeUk

 

January 12, 2020 Posted by | Fukushima 2020 | , , , | 1 Comment

Failing to protect Philippines people’s health, corrupt Philippines government lifts restrictions on importing Fukushima food

Having lived many years in the Philippines and experienced how badly corrupt the Philippines government is at every level and in every department, to me this decision comes as no surprise. The only question is how much? How much was paid as a bribe, beside the  agreement for Japan to provide a low-interest loan of up to 4.4 billion yen ($40 million) to reinforce major bridges in Manila?

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Philippines lifts restrictions on importing Fukushima food

January 09 2020

MANILA – Philippine Foreign Secretary Teodoro Locsin said Thursday his country has lifted restrictions on Japanese food imports imposed following the 2011 Fukushima nuclear disaster due to lower risks of radioactive contamination.

Locsin said during a meeting with his Japanese counterpart Toshimitsu Motegi in Manila that the Philippines had eliminated the need for radiation test results for shipments of some types of seafood and agricultural products from Fukushima and its surrounding areas on Wednesday.

“I look forward to safe Japanese food reaching many of the people of the Philippines,” Motegi told a joint press briefing after the meeting.

The Southeast Asian country had required the test for beef and vegetables from Fukushima and Ibaraki, as well as seafood from the two prefectures along with Tochigi and Gunma following the March 2011 triple meltdowns at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, triggered by a powerful earthquake and tsunami.

A total of 54 countries and regions took such measures following the crisis. With the announcement by the Philippines, that number falls to 20, with the United States, China and South Korea among countries maintaining restrictions of some kind, according to the farm ministry.

Motegi and Locsin also agreed to step up security cooperation, with an eye to countering China’s militarization of artificial islands in disputed parts of the South China Sea, as well as on boosting economic cooperation including on infrastructure development.

Following the meeting, the two signed an agreement for Japan to provide a low-interest loan of up to 4.4 billion yen ($40 million) to reinforce major bridges in Manila.

https://news.abs-cbn.com/business/01/09/20/philippines-lift-restrictions-on-importing-fukushima-food

DA removes post-Fukushima requirements on Japanese produce

January 9, 2020

THE Department of Agriculture (DA) said it removed the radiation analysis requirement on selected Japanese commodities for import to the Philippines.

In memorandum order no. 1, series of 2020, Agriculture Secretary William D. Dar said that the “certificate of radiation analysis and certificate of origin for the importation of Japanese commodities are no longer required.”

The Bureau of Agriculture and Fisheries Standards (BAFS) had been ordered to conduct a food safety risk assessment of radionuclide in commodities which include fish, beef, apples, and pears from Japan.

The food safety risk assessment concludes that there is no significant food safety threat on fish, apple, pear, and beef imported from Japan,” it said.

In 2011, Japan was hit by a magnitude-9 earthquake and a tsunami, which destroyed the cooling systems at Tokyo Electric Power Co.’s Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant. This caused reactors to melt down and emit radiation into the air, soil, and sea.

The DA issued memorandum order no. 12, series of 2011, which requires plants, planting materials, and plant products originating from the Fukushima area to have certificate of radiation analysis. It also required certificates of origin for other imports from other prefectures.

Memorandum order no. 14, series of 2011 requires dairy products and animal feed imports not from Fukushima and Ibaraki to have a certificate of origin and a certificate of declaration. — Vincent Mariel P. Galang

https://www.bworldonline.com/da-removes-post-fukushima-requirements-on-japanese-produce/

 

January 12, 2020 Posted by | Fukushima 2020 | , , | Leave a comment

Fukushima unveils plans to become renewable energy hub

Japan aims to power region, scene of 2011 meltdown, with 100% renewable energy by 2040

 

4571.jpgWeeds grow in an abandoned apartment complex in Futaba, Fukushima prefecture.

Jan 5, 2020

Fukushima is planning to transform itself into a renewable energy hub, almost nine years after it became the scene of the world’s worst nuclear accident for a quarter of a century.

The prefecture in north-east Japan will forever be associated with the triple meltdown at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant on 11 March 2011, but in an ambitious project the local government has vowed to power the region with 100% renewable energy by 2040, compared with 40% today.

The 2011 accident, triggered by a powerful earthquake and tsunami, sent large quantities of radiation into the atmosphere and forced the evacuation of more than 150,000 residents.

The 300bn yen ($2.75bn) project, whose sponsors include the government-owned Development Bank of Japan and Mizuho Bank, will involve the construction of 11 solar and 10 wind farms on abandoned farmland and in mountainous areas by the end of March 2024, according to the Nikkei Asian Review.

A 80km grid will connect Fukushima’s power generation with the Tokyo metropolitan area, once heavily dependent on nuclear energy produced at the prefecture’s two atomic plants. When completed, the project will generate up to 600 megawatts of electricity, roughly two-thirds the output of an average nuclear power plant.

Despite the Fukushima disaster, the world’s worst nuclear accident since Chernobyl in 1986, Japan’s conservative government is pushing to restart idle reactors.

It wants nuclear power, which generated almost a third of the country’s power before Fukushima, to make up between 20% and 22% of its overall energy mix by 2030, drawing criticism from campaigners who say nuclear plants pose a danger given the country’s vulnerability to earthquakes and tsunami.

All of Japan’s 54 reactors were shut down after the Fukushima meltdown. Nine reactors are in operation today, having passed stringent safety checks introduced after the disaster.

Renewables accounted for 17.4% of Japan’s energy mix in 2018, according to the Institute for Sustainable Energy Policies, well below countries in Europe. The government iaims to increase this to between 22% and 24% by 2030 a target the prime minister, Shinzo Abe, has described as ambitious but which climate campaigners criticise as insufficient.

Abe insists nuclear energy will help Japan achieve its carbon dioxide emissions targets and reduce its dependence on imported gas and oil, but his recently appointed environment minister, Shinjiro Koizumi, has called for the country’s nuclear reactors to be scrapped to prevent a repeat of the Fukushima disaster.

“We will be doomed if we allow another nuclear accident to occur. We never know when we’ll have an earthquake,” Koizumi said when he joined Abe’s cabinet in September.

The government is unlikely to meet its target of 30 reactor restarts by 2030 given strong local opposition and legal challenges.

Japan faces mounting international criticism over its dependence on imported coal and natural gas. It received the “fossil of the day” award from the Climate Action Network at last month’s UN climate change conference in Madrid after its industry minister announced plans to continue using coal-fired power.

Japan is the third-biggest importer of coal after India and China, according to the US Energy Information Administration. Its megabanks have been urged to end their financing of coal-fired plants in Vietnam and other developing countries in Asia.

https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2020/jan/05/fukushima-unveils-plans-to-become-renewable-energy-hub-japan

January 12, 2020 Posted by | Fukushima 2020 | , | Leave a comment

Fukushima Radioactive Water: Towards Environmental Release

Translated from french by Hervé Courtois (D’un Renard)

 

une-quantite-massive.jpgA massive amount of radioactive water is stored on the grounds of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant site ravaged by the tsunami of March 2011.

 

December 24, 2019
The decision is not expected to be announced before the Tokyo Olympics next summer, given the diplomatic risk. Japan is expected to face strong opposition.

Releasing the radioactive water from the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant to the environment (in the sea or in the air) is the only option left since experts have ruled out long-term storage, Japanese officials say.

“The option of simple long-term storage is no longer being considered,” said a state official who wished to remain anonymous. And to clarify that the government’s ambition is to make room for Fukushima Daiichi: once the reactors are demolished and the site cleaned, there should be nothing left, including no water tanks still containing at least tritium.

A massive amount of radioactive water is stored within the confines of this site devastated by the tsunami of March 2011. It comes from rain, groundwater or injections necessary to cool the hearts of reactors that have melted. Filtered several times, it ‘should’ ultimately be rid of a large amount of radionuclides, except tritium, ‘considered’ less dangerous for the environment and living beings.

A water still heavily loaded

Long-term storage, which was recommended by environmental organizations like Greenpeace, being no longer validated, three options remain considered the most feasible, from a technical and economic point of view: dilution at sea, evaporation in the air or a combination of the two.

Experts, including those from the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), have been pushing for dilution at sea for years. But this is not feasible at the moment because, as recognized by the company Tokyo Electric Power (Tepco), a large part of this water is still heavily loaded with radioactive elements dangerous for the food chain.

Tepco estimates, however, that the tanks will be full in 2022.

A final decision should not be made before the Tokyo Olympics in the summer of 2020, given the diplomatic risk. A government subcommittee responsible for the file is thus studying not only the technical implications, but also the potential damage to the country’s image abroad.

Japan is set to face strong opposition, already expressed, from fishermen and farmers in the region, as well as from environmental groups and neighboring countries, starting with South Korea. Seoul did not digest a previous decision to dump radioactive water packages into the sea immediately after the Fukushima accident, without asking its advice.

https://www.sudouest.fr/2019/12/24/eau-contaminee-de-fukushima-vers-un-rejet-dans-l-environnement-6993764-706.php?fbclid=IwAR1F2iWkQMIdhZR3smVVeHAgrkYNt5whKihj0dDnP29wL5WhYn-wsQA8uw8

 

December 30, 2019 Posted by | fukushima 2019 | , , | Leave a comment

Bee swarm affected by Fukushima radiation

80964194_2555913974505240_6862314061955072000_n.jpg
December 25, 2019
Splendid structure of a bee swarm from the village of Iitate
Bees : 2740 bq / kg
Inner swarm : 16 145 Bq / kg
Outer warm : 15 342 Bq / kg

蜂は2,470bq/Kg
(ハニカム部分)16,145bq/Kg
(外殻部分)15,342bq/Kg

 

Special credits to Cecile Brice & Nobuyoshi Itou

December 30, 2019 Posted by | fukushima 2019 | , , | Leave a comment

Fukushima to relax blanket radiation testing for beef cattle

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A cattle farm in Iwaki, Fukushima Prefecture, on Dec. 19
December 24, 2019
FUKUSHIMA–In the absence of significant radiation levels being detected in cattle for more than six years, Fukushima Prefecture decided to switch from blanket to random safety testing.
Similar moves have been seen in Iwate, Miyagi and Tochigi prefectures.
Blanket inspections in those prefectures had been the norm since the nuclear crisis triggered by the 2011 earthquake and tsunami disaster unfolded.
Thirty-three other prefectures which voluntarily inspect cattle for health and safety reasons have also made such a move.
Fukushima prefectural authorities announced the change in policy at a Dec. 23 review meeting attended by beef producers, distributors and others.
Under the plan, at least one animal will be checked per year for each farm, with the exception of “difficult-to-return” zones where radiation levels remain high.
Blanket testing will continue for old cows to be slaughtered for beef.
The decision will receive formal approval in January.
In the summer after the nuclear accident at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant in March 2011, cattle exceeding the provisional standard of 500 becquerels per kilogram were found in Fukushima, Iwate, Miyagi and Tochigi prefectures.
While the central government has allowed beef to be delivered if farms check one animal a year and meet other conditions, all four prefectures have continued conducting strict inspections of their own accord.
Since August 2011 when blanket testing started, no animals in Fukushima Prefecture have been found to exceed the standard set in 2012 of 100 becquerels per kilogram. The prefectural government concluded that safety can be secured without inspecting all cattle.
Still, according to a survey compiled by the prefecture this past October covering 2,584 consumers, 45.9 percent of respondents insisted that blanket testing be continued.
A staff member of a major distributor, said: “It seems that many consumers only trust products that have passed inspections.”
Since March 2011, 159 cattle have been found to exceed the standard across Japan, according to the farm ministry. No cattle exceeding the standard have been found since April 2013.

December 30, 2019 Posted by | fukushima 2019 | , , | Leave a comment

Stations Near Fukushima N-Plant to Be Out of Evacuation Zone

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December 20, 2019
Fukushima, Dec. 20 (Jiji Press)–The Japanese government plans to lift evacuation orders for areas surrounding train stations close to Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings Inc.’s crippled Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant, it was learned Friday.
The government and the town of Tomioka, Fukushima Prefecture, in northeastern Japan, agreed to lift an evacuation order around the town’s Yonomori Station on East Japan Railway Co.’s Joban Line on March 10 next year.
It will be the first instance of an evacuation order being lifted for an area designated as a “difficult-to-return zone” after the March 2011 nuclear disaster. The decision is expected to be made official by the government’s Nuclear Emergency Response Headquarters.
The government is also in talks with municipalities over removing evacuation orders for districts surrounding two other Joban Line stations, ahead of the train line’s planned full reopening by the end of March next year.
The government is holding discussions with the prefectural government and the town governments of Futaba and Okuma, which both host the nuclear plant, on the dates for lifting the orders for areas around Futaba and Ono stations, located in Futaba and Okuma, respectively. According to sources, the negotiators are expected to settle on March 4 as the date for the Futaba station area.

 

December 24, 2019 Posted by | fukushima 2019 | , , , | Leave a comment

Severed section of JR Joban Line in Fukushima to reopen in March

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A train arrives at JR Futaba Station in Fukushima Prefecture during a test run on Dec. 18.
December 19, 2019
FUTABA, Fukushima Prefecture–A disrupted section of the JR Joban Line near the beleaguered Fukushima nuclear plant is expected to reopen March 14, bringing the entire line back in service for the first time in nine years.
A test run to check signal lights, rails and crossings started in Fukushima Prefecture Dec. 18.
As part of the test, a five-car train arrived around 10:20 a.m. at the newly built Futaba Station, about 4 kilometers northwest of the plant.
The Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant suffered a triple meltdown following the Great East Japan Earthquake and tsunami in March 2011, with residents in wide areas ordered to evacuate.
The tests will continue through Dec. 20, with the train making two round trips a day between Tomioka and Namie, the 20.8-kilometer section of the line that has remained out of service.
If service in the section is resumed, the Joban Line will connect Nippori in Tokyo to Iwanuma in Miyagi Prefecture, covering about 344 km.
Futaba Station features a glass-walled corridor connecting the east and west sides. However, many nearby buildings were dismantled following the disaster, leaving plots of empty land.
No residents can be seen around here as evacuation orders due to the nuclear disaster have been in place throughout the town.
As the section set to reopen is within 10 km of the nuclear plant, the train will run through the “difficult-to-return zone” that has excessive levels of radiation.
Japan Railways has been engaged in decontamination efforts in the area since March 2016 to lower radiation levels by removing trees along the tracks and replacing gravel.
Coinciding with the resumption of the entire line, evacuation orders for areas around Yonomori, Ono and Futaba stations within the section are expected to be lifted.
Orders for roads connecting the stations and areas where access is not restricted would also be lifted, allowing passengers to access the stations.

December 24, 2019 Posted by | fukushima 2019 | , , , | Leave a comment

Tokyo ‘Recovery Olympics’ offer scant solace to displaced victims of Fukushima nuclear disaster

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An abandoned elementary school classroom remains cluttered Dec. 3 with school bags and other belongings left by students as they rushed out after the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami that crippled the nearby Fukushima nuclear power plant in Futaba.
December 18, 2019
FUTABA, FUKUSHIMA PREF. – Nine years after an earthquake, tsunami and nuclear disaster devastated wide areas of the prefecture, the torch relay for the 2020 Summer Games will kick off in Fukushima.
Some baseball and softball games will also be held in the prefecture, allowing Tokyo organizers and the government to label these games the “Recovery Olympics.” The symbolism recalls the 1964 Tokyo Olympics, which showcased Japan’s re-emergence just 19 years after World War II.
But tens of thousands still haven’t recovered in Fukushima, displaced by nuclear radiation and unable to return to deserted places like Futaba.
Time stopped in the town of 7,100 when disaster stuck on March 11, 2011.
Laundry still hangs from the second floor of one house. Vermin gnaw away at once intimate family spaces, exposed through shattered windows and mangled doors. The desolation is deepened by Japanese tidiness, with shoes waiting in doorways for absent owners.
“This recovery Olympics is in name only,” Toshihide Yoshida said. He was forced to abandon Futaba and ended up living near Tokyo. “The amount of money spent on the Olympics should have been used for real reconstruction.”
Japan is spending about ¥2.8 trillion ($25 billion) to organize the Olympics. Most is public money, though exactly what are Olympic expenses — and what are not — is always disputed.
The government has spent ¥34.6 trillion for reconstruction projects for the disaster-hit northern prefectures, and the Fukushima plant decommissioning is expected to cost ¥8 trillion.
The Olympic torch relay will start in March at J-Village, a soccer venue used as an emergency response hub for Fukushima plant workers. The relay goes to 11 towns hit by the disaster, but bypasses Futaba, a part of Fukushima that Olympic visitors will never see.
“I would like the Olympic torch to pass Futaba to show the rest of the world the reality of our hometown,” Yoshida said. “Futaba is far from recovery.”
The radiation that spewed from the plant at one point displaced more than 160,000 people. Futaba is the only one of 12 radiation-hit towns that remains a virtual no-go zone. Only daytime visits are allowed for decontamination and reconstruction work, or for former residents to check their abandoned homes.
The town has been largely decontaminated and visitors can go almost anywhere without putting on hazmat suits, though they must carry personal dosimeters to measure radiation absorbed by the body and surgical masks are recommended. The main train station is set to reopen in March, but residents won’t be allowed to return until 2022.
A main-street shopping arcade in Futaba is lined by collapsing store fronts and sits about 4 km (2.5 miles) from the nuclear plant, and 250 km (150 miles) north of Tokyo. One shop missing its front doors advertises Shiseido beauty products with price tags still hanging on merchandise. Gift packages litter the ground.
Futaba Minami Elementary School, where no one died in the evacuation, has nonetheless been untouched for almost nine years and has the feel of a mausoleum. School bags, textbooks and notebooks sit as they were when nearly 200 children rushed out.
Kids were never allowed to return, and “Friday, March 11,” is still written on classroom blackboards along with due dates for the next homework assignment.
On the first floor of the vacant town hall, a human-size daruma good-luck figure stands in dim evening light at a reception area. A piece of paper that fell on the floor says the doors must be closed to protect from radiation.
It warns: “Please don’t go outside.”
The words are underlined in red.
“Let us know if you start feeling unwell,” Muneshige Osumi, a former town spokesman, told visitors, apologizing for the musty smell and the presence of rats.
About 20,000 people in Tohoku died in the magnitude 9.0 earthquake and resulting tsunami. Waves that reached 16-meters-high killed 21 people around Futaba, shredding a seaside pine forest popular for picnics and swimming.
A clock is frozen at 3:37 p.m. atop a white beach house that survived.
Nobody perished from the immediate impact of radiation in Fukushima, but more than 40 elderly patients died after they were forced to travel long hours on buses to out-of-town evacuation centers. Their representatives filed criminal complaints and eventually sent former Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings Inc. executives to court. They were acquitted.
When Tokyo was awarded the Olympics in 2013, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe assured International Olympic Committee members that the nuclear disaster was “under control.” However, critics say the government’s approach to recovery has divided and silenced many people in the disaster-hit zones.
Under a development plan, Futaba hopes to have 2,000 people — including former residents and newcomers such as construction workers and researchers — eventually living in a 550-hectare site.
Yoshida is unsure if he’ll return. But he wants to keep ties to Futaba, where his son inherited a filling station on the main highway connecting Tokyo and Tohoku.
Osumi, the town spokesman, said many former residents have found new homes and jobs and the majority say they won’t return. He has his own mixed feelings about going back to his mountainside home in Futaba. The number of residents registered at the town has decreased by more than 1,000 since the disaster struck, indicating they are unlikely to return.
“It was so sad to see the town destroyed and my hometown lost,” he said, holding back tears. He reflected on family life, the autumn leaves, and the comforting hot baths.
“My heart ached when I had to leave this town behind,” he added.
Standing outside Futaba Station, Mayor Shiro Izawa described plans to rebuild a new town. It will be friendly to the elderly, and a place that might become a major hub for research in decommissioning and renewable energy. The hope is that those who come to help in Fukushima’s reconstruction may stay and be part of a new Futaba.
“The word Fukushima has become globally known, but regrettably the situation in Futaba or (neighboring) Okuma is hardly known,” Izawa said, noting Futaba’s recovery won’t be ready by the Olympics.
“But we can still show that a town that was so badly hit has come this far,” he added.
To showcase the recovery, government officials say J-Village and the Azuma baseball stadium were decontaminated and cleaned. However, problems keep popping up at J-Village with radiation “hot spots” being reported, raising questions about safety heading into the Olympics.
The radioactive waste from decontamination surrounding the plant, and from across Fukushima, is kept in thousands of storage bags stacked up in temporary areas in Futaba and Okuma.
They are to be sorted — some burned and compacted — and buried at a medium-term storage facility for the next 30 years. For now they fill vast fields that used to be rice paddies or vegetable farms. One large mound sits next to a graveyard, almost brushing the stone monuments.
This year, 4 million tons of those industrial container bags were to be brought into Futaba, and another million tons to Okuma, where part of the Fukushima plant stands.
Yoshida said the medium-term waste storage sites and the uncertainty over whether they will stay in Futaba — or be moved — is discouraging residents and newcomers.
“Who wants to come to live in a place like that? Would senior officials in Kasumigaseki go and live there?” he asked, referring to the high-end area in Tokyo that houses many government ministries.
“I don’t think they would,” Yoshida added. “But we have ancestral graves, and we love Futaba, and we don’t want Futaba to be lost. The good old Futaba that we remember will be lost forever, but we’ll cope.”

December 24, 2019 Posted by | fukushima 2019 | , , , | Leave a comment

Olympics no relief for devastated city

resized_250588-8colympics40color_24-28036_t800Weeds grow in an abandoned apartment complex Tuesday in Futaba, Japan. Government officials say it’s the “recovery Olympics” for the disaster-hit areas and residents. But the town of Futaba, home to the tsunami-wrecked nuclear plant, is still largely frozen in time for nearly nine years since the disaster, with thousands of its former residents still unable to return.

December 14, 2019

FUTABA, Japan — The torch relay for the Tokyo Olympics will kick off in Fukushima, the northern prefecture devastated almost nine years ago by an earthquake, tsunami and the subsequent meltdown of three nuclear reactors.

They’ll also play Olympic baseball and softball next year in one part of Fukushima, allowing Tokyo organizers and the Japanese government to label these games the “Recovery Olympics.” The symbolism recalls the 1964 Tokyo Olympics, which showcased Japan’s reemergence just 19 years after World War II.

But tens of thousands still haven’t recovered in Fukushima, displaced by nuclear radiation and unable to return to deserted places like Futaba.

Time stopped in the town of 7,100 when disaster struck on March 11, 2011.

Laundry still hangs from the second floor of one house. Vermin gnaw away at once intimate family spaces, exposed through shattered windows and mangled doors. The desolation is deepened by Japanese tidiness with shoes waiting in doorways for absent owners.

“This recovery Olympics is in name only,” Toshihide Yoshida told The Associated Press. He was forced to abandon Futaba and ended up living near Tokyo. “The amount of money spent on the Olympics should have been used for real reconstruction.”

Olympic organizers say they are spending $12.6 billion on the Olympics, about 60% public money. However, an audit report by the national governments said overall spending is about twice that much.

The Olympic torch relay will start in March in J-Village, a soccer stadium used as an emergency response hub for Fukushima plant workers. The relay goes to 11 towns hit by the disaster, but bypasses Futaba, a part of Fukushima that Olympic visitors will never see.

“I would like the Olympic torch to pass Futaba to show the rest of the world the reality of our hometown,” Yoshida said. “Futaba is far from recovery.”

The radiation that spewed from the plant at one point displaced more than 160,000 people. Futaba is the only one of 12 radiation-hit towns that remains a virtual no-go zone. Only daytime visits are allowed for decontamination and reconstruction work, or for former residents to check their abandoned homes.

The town has been largely decontaminated and visitors can go almost anywhere without putting on hazmat suits, though they must carry personal dosimeters — which measure radiation absorbed by the body — and surgical masks are recommended. The main train station is set to reopen in March, but residents won’t be allowed to return until 2022.

A main-street shopping arcade in Futaba is lined by collapsing store fronts and sits about 4 kilometers (2.5 miles) from the nuclear plant, and 250 kilometers (150 miles) north of Tokyo. One shop missing its front doors advertises Shiseido beauty products with price tags still hanging on merchandise. Gift packages litter the ground.

“Let us know if you start feeling unwell,” Muneshige Osumi, a former town spokesman told visitors, apologizing for the musty smell and the presence of rats.

About 20,000 people in Japan’s northern coastal prefectures died in the magnitude 9.0 earthquake and resulting tsunami. Waves that reached 16 meters (50 feet) killed 21 people around Futaba, shredding a seaside pine forest popular for picnics and bracing swims.

A clock is frozen at 3:37 p.m. atop a white beach house that survived.

Nobody perished from the immediate impact of radiation in Fukushima, but more than 40 elderly patients died after they were forced to travel long hours on buses to out-of-town evacuation centers. Their representatives filed criminal complaints and eventually sent former Tokyo Electric Power Company executives to court. They were acquitted.

When Tokyo was awarded the Olympics in 2013, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe assured International Olympic Committee members that the nuclear disaster was “under control.” However, critics say the government’s approach to recovery has divided and silenced many people in the disaster-hit zones.

Under a development plan, Futaba hopes to have 2,000 people — including former residents and newcomers such as construction workers and researchers — eventually living in a 550-hectare (1,360-acre) site.

Standing outside the Futaba station, Mayor Shirou Izawa described plans to rebuild a new town. It will be friendly to the elderly, and a place that might become a major hub for research in decommissioning and renewable energy. The hope is that those who come to help in Fukushima’s reconstruction may stay and be part of a new Futaba.

“The word Fukushima has become globally known, but regrettably the situation in Futaba or (neighboring) Okuma is hardly known,” Izawa said, noting Futaba’s recovery won’t be ready by the Olympics.

To showcase the recovery, government officials say J-Village — where the torch relays begins — and the Azuma baseball stadium were decontaminated and cleaned. However, problems keeping popping up at J-Village with radiation “hot spots” being reported, raising questions about safety heading into the Olympics.

The baseball stadium is located about 70 kilometers (45 miles) west of Futaba, J-Village is closer, about 20 kilometers (12 miles) away along the coastal area.

The radioactive waste from decontamination surrounding the plant, and from across Fukushima, is kept in thousands of storage bags stacked up in temporary areas in Futaba and Okuma.

“Who wants to come to live in a place like that? Would senior officials in Kasumigaseki government headquarters go and live there?” Yoshida asked, referring to the high-end area in Tokyo that houses many government ministries.

“I don’t think they would,” Yoshida said. “But we have ancestral graves, and we love Futaba, and we don’t want Futaba to be lost. The good old Futaba that we remember will be lost forever, but we’ll cope.”

https://www.nwaonline.com/news/2019/dec/14/olympics-no-relief-for-devastated-city-/

December 17, 2019 Posted by | fukushima 2019 | , , | Leave a comment

Olympics-Radiation hot spots found at Tokyo 2020 torch relay start – Greenpeace

1e892707-191026_j_village.pngJ-village

December 4, 2019

TOKYO, Dec 4 (Reuters) – Radiation hot spots have been found at the J-Village sports facility in Fukushima where the Tokyo 2020 Olympic torch relay will begin, Greenpeace Japan said on Wednesday.

Greenpeace found that radiation levels around the recently refurbished venue, which also hosted the Argentina team during the Rugby World Cup earlier this year, were significantly higher than before the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear reactor meltdown following the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami.

Greenpeace’s survey found radioactivity readings taken at J-Village on Oct. 26 as high as 71 microsieverts per hour at surface level.

People are exposed to natural radiation of 2,000-3,000 microsieverts a year, so anyone staying in the vicinity of J-Village for two or more days could be exposed to more than that.

These readings, although not deemed life-threatening if exposed for a short length of time, are 1,775 times higher than prior to the March 2011 disaster, according to the NGO.

The Olympic flame is due to arrive from Greece in Japan on March 20, with the torch relay officially starting from J-Village on March 26.

Greenpeace said in a statement that it had sent its findings to Japan’s Ministry of Environment, but had received no response.

“There is a risk that heavy rain will spread these higher levels of contamination on public roads, and thus re-contaminate already decontaminated surfaces,” warned Greenpeace nuclear specialist Shaun Burnie, team leader of the J-Village survey, in a statement.

An ministry official acknowledged to Reuters on Wednesday that the ministry had been alerted to higher radiation level readings in an area surrounding J-Village and that decontamination measures had been taken.

“The ministry cooperated with related groups to decrease radiation levels in that area,” said the official.

“On Dec. 3, Tokyo Electric Power (Tepco) took measures to decrease radiation levels in said area.”

The Fukushima Daiichi nuclear station, located about 220 km (130 miles) northeast of Tokyo, was rocked by a magnitude 9.0 earthquake and subsequent tsunami in March 2011, sparking three reactor meltdowns.

More than 160,000 residents fled nearby towns in the aftermath as radiation from the reactors contaminated water, food and air. Greenpeace called on the Japanese government to conduct more extensive radiation surveys in the area and the NGO planned to return to J-Village soon to “determine if subsequent decontamination attempts have been adequately conducted.”

Tokyo 2020 organisers could not be immediately reached for comment.

Worries that local food could be contaminated by the nuclear disaster has prompted plans by South Korea’s Olympic committee to buy radiation detectors and ship homegrown ingredients to Japan for its athletes at the Tokyo Games. (Additional reporting by Mari Saito; editing by Simon Cameron-Moore)

https://af.reuters.com/article/africaTech/idAFL8N28E0L7?fbclid=IwAR01no7I0LUG2acAbapUgk9ERcWBHsndxvGdEeC1mYvj_fEYJZ-SEHlEr6g

December 8, 2019 Posted by | fukushima 2019 | , , , , | Leave a comment

Radiation hotspots ‘found near Fukushima Olympic site’

Greenpeace calls for fresh monitoring of region where nuclear disaster occurred

 

1002.jpegThe Fukushima Daiichi power plant, which was the site of a nuclear disaster in 2011. Officials are keen to showcase the area’s recovery.

Wed 4 Dec 2019

Greenpeace has said it detected radiation hotspots near the starting point of the upcoming Olympic torch relay in Fukushima.

Japan’s environment ministry said the area was generally safe but it was in talks with local communities to survey the region before the 2020 Games, which open on 24 July.

The government is keen to use the Olympics to showcase Fukushima’s recovery from the 2011 tsunami. It intends to use J-Village, a sports complex located about 12 miles from the nuclear plant that was damaged in the disaster, as the starting point for the Japan leg of the torch relay taking place in March.

Originally designed as a training centre for athletes, J-Village functioned for years as a logistics hub for crews working to control and decommission the defunct reactors.

After a cleanup process, the sports centre became fully operational again in April this year, shortly after the torch relay decision.

Greenpeace urged fresh radiation monitoring and continued cleanup efforts, saying it had detected some spots with radiation levels as high as 1.7 microsieverts per hour when measured one metre above the surface.

This compared with the national safety standard of 0.23 microsieverts per hour, and a normal reading in Tokyo of about 0.04 microsieverts per hour. The hotspots showed a reading of 71 microsieverts per hour at the surface level, Greenpeace said.

However, J-Village’s website said the radiation reading at its main entrance was 0.111 microsieverts per hour on Wednesday, while one of its fields showed a reading of 0.085 microsieverts per hour.

The Tokyo Electric Power Company, which operates the Fukushima plant, said it cleaned the spots on Tuesday after the environment ministry told the firm about them.

Greenpeace said it relayed its findings to the Japanese government as well as local and international Olympic organisers. The group will publish a report of its findings in the region next year.

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2019/dec/04/radiation-hotspots-found-near-fukushima-olympic-site-greenpeace

December 8, 2019 Posted by | fukushima 2019 | , , , | Leave a comment

Fukushima Journey, Pt. 2: Olympics Propaganda, Thyroid Cancers, Japanese Govt. Lies – 4 days in Fukushima Prefecture w/Beverly Findlay-Kaneko

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November 28, 2019

This Week’s Featured Interview:

  • Fukushima Journey: The “Disappearing” Nuclear Disaster – 4 days on-the-ground in Fukushima Prefecture with Beverly Findlay-Kaneko continues. She lived in Yokohama, Japan for 20 years until March 2011 after the Great Eastern Japan Earthquake. She worked at Yokohama National University and The Japan Times. Beverly has a Master’s degree in East Asian Studies from Stanford University, and speaks Japanese fluently.

    Since returning from Japan, Beverly and her husband, Yuji Kaneko, have been active in raising awareness about nuclear issues, including the nuclear accident at Fukushima. Their main activities have included organizing speaking tours, giving presentations, networking in activist and nuclear-impacted communities in the U.S. and Japan, and co-producing the annual Nuclear Hotseat podcast “Voices from Japan” special on Fukushima.

    This is the second half of the “Fukushima Journey” Nuclear Hotseat interview, based on more than three hours of source material. Pt. 1 appeared in episode #439 from November 19, 2019.

December 2, 2019 Posted by | fukushima 2019 | , , , , , | 1 Comment

Transparency, the olympics, and that damned water, Part 2

Happy-fukushima-peach-01.jpgOfficial messaging about Fukushima focuses on happiness.

Tuesday November 26th, 2019

Part 2: What about the Olympics?

The concerns we hear about the 2020 Olympics are more generalized and less focussed than those about the water in the tanks at Fukushima Daiichi. Some people ask us if it’s safe to come to Japan at all. Others narrow it down to Fukushima Prefecture. A few journalists and others have specifically asked us to weigh in on the potential risks to people who attend the events which will be held in Azuma Stadium in Fukushima City.  Our response to Tokyo businessman Roy Tomizawa was to suggest he build a bGeigie and survey the stadium himself. He did, and wrote about it. Helping people find out for themselves is how we prefer to interact with and inform the public. We often point out that the entire framing of “safety” when it comes to radiation risk is problematic. The guidelines for acceptable radiation limits in food, the environment, and elsewhere are not really “safety” limits, and exceeding them does not mean “unsafe.” They are warning levels that trigger protective actions intended to prevent actually “unsafe” exposures. In each case, the important questions are: Do you understand this risk, and is it acceptable to you? This is where people need help, and where government has so far largely failed in its mission to inform. Once again we think it comes down to transparency.

A quick Google search of “Fukushima Olympics”  will illustrate the widespread belief that athletes and visitors who go to Fukushima next year will be putting their lives at risk. The Korean government has announced that their teams will bring their own food so as not to incur potential health risks from eating local products. Many people suspect that the Japanese Government is holding Olympic events in Fukushima in order to cover up the effects of the disaster and paint the prefecture with a tint of normality. It seems clear that the government lost control of this narrative long ago and may well be unable to recover before the 2020 Olympics begin, and that the negative effects could persist for years afterwards. We do not see any adequate messaging or information about the kinds of risks people around the world are concerned about, presented understandably and accessibly. What messaging we have seen so far is clumsy and tends heavily towards images of smiley happy people intended to suggest that everything is fine. No-one really trusts these blithe reassurances, because they distrust government itself.

Japanese government agencies seem to be operating under the assumption that their authority in matters like this is still intact in the eyes of the public. Their messages appear to be shaped under the assumption that they can simply say, “We’ve had a committee look into it and we’ve determined that it’s safe,” without demonstrating the necessary transparency and breaking the explanation down in appropriate ways. We have no desire to make government’s job easier about any of this, but we care about the people in Fukushima, and so we want government to present clear and accurate information about their situation. Things in Fukushima are not as bad as alarming Google hits often suggest, but it’s definitely not hunky-dory either. Honest messaging would reflect this. We too wonder why the government has rushed to hold Olympic events in Fukushima, ignoring the global public’s existing fear and skepticism. Many Fukushima residents are supportive of the games and hope they will shed a positive light on the progress the prefecture has made since the disasters in 2011. It could be good for local economies as well. On the other hand, it could be another avoidable PR disaster.

We think people can visit Fukushima today without undue fear. The preponderance of data, both independent data like ours as well as official data, shows that typical visitors are extremely unlikely to travel anywhere in the prefecture where external radiation exposure is higher than natural background radiation levels in most of the world, unless they go out of their way to enter very contaminated areas to which access is normally prohibited. If people are willing to consider normal background radiation levels “safe,” then most of Fukushima fits this description. There are a lot caveats, however. There may be cesium contamination in the ground even in places where the external dose rate is in the normal range (Minnanods has published a very good map of their independent measurements of soil contamination). While food produced in Fukushima is closely monitored by both official bodies and independent labs, both of which indicate that it is overwhelmingly “safe,” people should avoid wild mushrooms, wild vegetables, wild game, and other items which are not produced under controlled agricultural conditions and distributed by supermarkets. With few exceptions the forests are not being decontaminated, and radiation levels can be considerably higher there, so it’s probably best to avoid entering unknown forests.

We get a lot of pushback for saying this, but years of Safecast radiation measurements in Fukushima and elsewhere show that short-term visitors to Fukushima will almost certainly get a higher radiation dose on their flights to Japan than they will by spending several days in Fukushima. (You can see Safecast measurements taken during air travel here.) These exposures are not entirely comparable, though, and the equation is different for people who live in parts of Fukushima where they are likely to receive decades of elevated radiation doses. But we stand by our overall conclusions, while pointing out that the only way to be sure is to have good data available for the places you’re going, which Safecast tries hard to provide. We’re very critical of the Korean government’s politically motivated manipulation of fear about Fukushima food despite not presenting any measurement data in support of its claims. On the other hand, Korea has demanded that radiation risks for next year’s Olympics be verified by independent third-parties, which we highly endorse. The Japanese government and the Olympic committee have announced that the torch relay will run though over 20 Fukushima towns, but they have not provided the public with survey data showing the current radiation levels along those routes. Safecast volunteers are ready to measure these routes, and indeed most have probably already been measured at some point, and while our data might indicate no particular risks for participants and viewers in most locations, it might reveal areas of concern. What maddens us is that we have been unable to obtain information about the actual street routes for the Fukushima portions of the relay and do not know how long before the event’s route information will actually become available.

Ultimately, we expect that official messaging about the Fukushima 2020 Olympic events will continue to avoid frank discussions of radiation risks and will continue to focus on “happiness.” The current information void and amateurish messaging are likely to be shattered at some point early next year by a massive and expensive PR blitz which will also focus on “happiness” but with higher production values and market reach. If radiation is dealt with at all, it is likely to be in a superficial and somewhat misleading manner. It doesn’t have to be that way.

Azby Brown

Azby Brown is Safecast’s lead researcher and primary author of the Safecast Report. A widely published authority in the fields of design, architecture, and the environment, he has lived in Japan for over 30 years, and founded the KIT Future Design Institute in 2003. He joined Safecast in mid-2011, and frequently represents the group at international expert conferences.

https://blog.safecast.org/2019/11/transparency-the-olympics-and-that-damned-water-part-2/

December 2, 2019 Posted by | fukushima 2019 | , , , | Leave a comment