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Japan faces decision over contaminated Fukushima water

hglmThe dismantling of Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant continues in Okuma, Fukushima Prefecture, on Dec. 5, 2019.

 

January 21, 2020

OKUMA, Fukushima Prefecture—At the wrecked Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant north of Tokyo, workers in protective suits are still removing radioactive material from reactors that melted down after an earthquake and tsunami knocked out its power and cooling nearly nine years ago.

On an exclusive tour of the plant, spread over 3.5 million square meters, Reuters witnessed giant remote-controlled cranes dismantling an exhaust tower and other structures in a highly radioactive zone while spent fuel was removed from a reactor.

Officials from Tokyo Electric, which owns the plant, also showed new tanks to hold increasing amounts of contaminated water.

About 4,000 workers are tackling the cleanup, many wearing protective gear, although more than 90 percent of the plant is deemed to have so little radioactivity that no extra precautions are needed. Photography was highly restricted and no conversations were allowed with the workers.

Work to dismantle the plant has taken nearly a decade so far, but with Tokyo due to host the Olympics this summer–including some events less than 60 kilometers from the power station–there has been renewed focus on safeguarding the venues.

TEPCO tries to disclose all information to the public as soon as possible. If something happens at the site, we let people know by email, for example,” said Kan Nihonyanagi, risk communicator at Fukushima, said in an interview at the site.

The buildup of contaminated water has been a sticking point in the cleanup, which is likely to last decades, and has alarmed neighboring countries. In 2018, TEPCO said it had not been able to remove all dangerous material from the water – and the site is running out of room for storage tanks.

Officials overseeing a panel of experts looking into the contaminated water issue said in December choices on disposal should be narrowed to two: either dilute the water and dump it in the Pacific Ocean, or allow it to evaporate.

The Japanese government may decide within months, and either process would take years to complete, experts say.

The Olympics are coming, so we have to prepare for that, and TEPCO has to disclose all the information not only to local communities but also to foreign countries and especially to those people coming from abroad,” said Joji Hara, a Tokyo-based spokesman for the power company who accompanied Reuters during the visit.

TEPCO has opened English-language Twitter and Facebook accounts, he said. It is also preparing to put out basic emergency information in Korean and Chinese, he added.

Athletes from at least one country, South Korea, are planning to bring their own radiation detectors and food this summer.

Baseball and softball will be played in Fukushima city, about 60 km from the destroyed nuclear plant. The torch relay will begin at a sports facility called J-Village, an operations base for Fukushima No. 1 in the first few years of the disaster, then pass through areas near the damaged station on its way to Tokyo.

In December, Greenpeace said it found radiation “hotspots” at J-Village, about 18 km south of the plant.

When Tokyo won the bid to host the 2020 Summer Olympics, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe declared that Fukushima was “under control” in his final pitch to the International Olympic Committee.

In 2016, the Japanese government estimated that the total cost of plant dismantlement, decontamination of affected areas, and compensation would be 21.5 trillion yen ($195 billion)–roughly a fifth of the country’s annual budget at the time.

http://www.asahi.com/ajw/articles/AJ202001210037.html

 

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

Japan’s Aeon aims to serve ‘eco-certified’ sushi in time for Olympics

‘Eco-certified’  my @ss, radiation contaminated sushi much more likely…. Lying lunatics!

0050b5d88f7306a71e63d89c1337ab5cA meat sushi plate is seen at Nikuzushi restaurant in Tokyo, Japan

January 21, 2020

TOKYO (Reuters) – Japanese supermarket chain Aeon Co Ltd, Asia’s biggest retailer by sales, said it aims to start selling eco-certified sushi this year amid growing demand for sustainable seafood and in time for an expected surge in tourists during the Tokyo Olympics.

Japan is one of the world’s biggest consumers of seafood. While its consumers are known for paying a premium for high-quality food products, and for setting global food trends, Japan has lagged behind Europe and the United States in adopting policies on traceability and sustainable fisheries.

“I would say awareness has really improved in recent years,” Kinzou Matsumoto, general manager in charge of Aeon’s seafood merchandising planning, said on Tuesday as the company unveiled an expansion of its eco-certified lineup of seafood to include oysters approved by the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC).

“Right now, certified items make up around 15% of our entire seafood products. Ideally we want to bring it to around 20%,” he said, adding that it would soon have enough types of certified fish to assemble assorted sushi packs.

“We want to sell certified sushi to visitors coming to the Olympics, too… and that would have to be by June.”

The MSC said Aeon’s scale would help expand recognition for sustainable seafood among Japanese consumers, and encourage fisheries.

“A commitment from Aeon is critical in driving change,” said MSC’s Asia-Pacific regional director Patrick Caleo.

Japanese businesses including beer makers and hotels are making preparations to cater for record numbers of foreign visitors to Japan this summer as Tokyo hosts the Olympic Summer Games beginning in late July.

Kura Sushi, among Japan’s largest conveyer belt sushi chains, is opening its biggest branch this week – a store with 272 seats expected to draw 2,000 customers a day.

It forecasts that the number of foreigners visiting its restaurants in Tokyo to rise by about a third compared to a usual year.

Kura Sushi President Kunihiko Tanaka also defended the safety of seafood in Japan, including those from Fukushima, the site of the 2011 nuclear disaster.

Government data shows Fukushima seafood is “absolutely” safe, Tanaka said, adding that Kura Sushi planned to open a restaurant in Fukushima.

South Korea’s Olympic committee said in December that it plans to buy radiation detectors and ship homegrown ingredients to Japan for its athletes because of its concerns over food.

https://finance.yahoo.com/news/japans-aeon-aims-serve-eco-085713242.html

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

Forgetting Fukushima

japan-fuku-iitate-cleanup-2015-greenpeace-lr

21st January 2020

By Jim Green – Nuclear Monitor

Irresponsible tactics are being used to bury social and environmental problems associated with the Fukushima nuclear disaster as Olympics approach in Japan.

Japanese prime minister Shinzō Abe assured the International Olympic Committee in 2013 that “the situation is under control” in and around the stricken Fukushima nuclear plant.

Now, with the 2020 Summer Olympics approaching, and some events scheduled to be held in Fukushima prefecture, all sorts of irresponsible and cruel tactics are being used to bury a myriad of social and environmental problems associated with the nuclear disaster.

Most evacuation orders have been lifted around the Fukushima plant, but 337‒371 sq kms remain classified as restricted entry zones or ‘difficult to return’ zones. There are hopes that all remaining evacuation orders could be lifted within a few years.

Return

Lifting an evacuation order is one thing, returning the area to something resembling normality is quite another. Only 23 percent of those living in nine areas that were declared off-limits after the Fukushima disaster had returned as of March 2019, according to government figures.

Most people aged under 50 who used to live in the towns of Futaba, Namie and Tomioka have no plans to return, an official survey found in early 2019.

The partial lifting of evacuation orders in the town of Okuma in April 2019 illustrates how the rhetoric of progress masks inconvenient truths. Even after the lifting of the order, about 60 percent of the town’s land area ‒ covering 96.5 percent of the pre-Fukushima population ‒ remains off-limits.

A 2018 survey found that only 10 percent of respondents expressed a desire to return to Okuma, while 60 percent had no plans to return. Few people have returned since the evacuation order was lifted.

About 17 million cubic metres of contaminated waste material has accumulated during decontamination work according to the Japanese ministry of the environment. A new occupant in Okuma is a ‘temporary storage facility‘ for some of the contaminated waste.

Contamination

Decontamination work (outside of the Fukushima nuclear plant) has cost an estimated ¥2.9 trillion (US $26.5 billion). A report by the European Geosciences Union, based on approximately 60 scientific publications, gives this assessment of decontamination efforts.

“This synthesis indicates that removing the surface layer of the soil to a thickness of 5 cm, the main method used by the Japanese authorities to clean up cultivated land, has reduced cesium concentrations by about 80 percent in treated areas. Nevertheless, the removal of the uppermost part of the topsoil, which has proved effective in treating cultivated land, has cost the Japanese state about €24 billion.

“This technique generates a significant amount of waste, which is difficult to treat, to transport and to store for several decades in the vicinity of the power plant, a step that is necessary before it is shipped to final disposal sites located outside Fukushima prefecture by 2050. By early 2019, Fukushima’s decontamination efforts had generated about 20 million cubic metres of waste.

“Decontamination activities have mainly targeted agricultural landscapes and residential areas. The review points out that the forests have not been cleaned up ‒ because of the difficulty and very high costs that these operations would represent ‒ as they cover 75 percent of the surface area located within the radioactive fallout zone.

“These forests constitute a potential long-term reservoir of radiocesium, which can be redistributed across landscapes as a result of soil erosion, landslides and floods, particularly during typhoons that can affect the region between July and October.”

Health risks

Greenpeace coordinated a study in the exclusion zone and lifted evacuation areas of Namie and Iitate and published the results in March 2019. The study found high levels of radiation ‒ ranging from five to over 100 times higher than the internationally recommended maximum of 1 mSv/yr ‒ in both exclusion zones and in areas where evacuation orders have been lifted.

The Greenpeace report documents the extent of the government’s violation of international human rights conventions and guidelines, in particular for decontamination of workers and children (who are more vulnerable to radiation-related diseases than adults).

Associate Professor Tilman Ruff, an Australian public health expert and co-founder of the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons gives a sense of the scale of the risk.

He states: “To provide a perspective on these risks, for a child born in Fukushima in 2011 who was exposed to a total of 100 mSv of additional radiation in its first five years of life, a level tolerated by current Japanese policy, the additional lifetime risk of cancer would be on the order of one in thirty, probably with a similar additional risk of premature cardiovascular death.”

Moreover, there is evidence of sinister behaviour to give artificially low indications of radiation levels, for example by placing monitoring posts in areas of low radiation and cleaning their surrounds to further lower the readings.

Risks

Maxime Polleri, a PhD candidate in the Department of Anthropology at York University, wrote in The Diplomat: “In the end, state-sponsored monitoring and decontamination are remedial measures that manage the perception of radiation in the environment.

“However, this does not imply that radioactive contamination is gone – not at all. When we look at the official maps of radiation of northeastern Japan, levels are low, but there are many ways to make them appear low.”

Ryohei Kataoka from the Tokyo-based Citizens Nuclear Information Centre said: “The government’s insistence in lifting evacuation orders where heightened radiation-related health risks undeniably exist, is a campaign to show that Fukushima is ‘back to normal’ and to try to make Japan and the world forget the accident ever happened.”

The Japanese government is promoting next years’ Olympic Games as the “Reconstruction Olympics”. Hence the haste to lift evacuation orders and to skirt around the truth of residual contamination from radioactive Fukushima fallout and the health risks associated with that fallout.

And yet, despite the spin, a poll conducted in February 2019 found that 60 pecent of Fukushima region residents still felt anxious about radiation exposure.

Deflation

Approximately 165,000 people were forced to evacuate because of the Fukushima nuclear disaster in 2011, in addition to an estimated 26,600 ‘voluntary evacuees’.

More than 30,000 of the involuntary evacuees are still unable to return. Those now in permanent accommodation have returned to their former homes (either willingly or because they had no choice), or resettled elsewhere, and some have purchased their previously temporary accommodation.

The number of evacuees has been artificially deflated. For example, the Japanese government’s Reconstruction Agency sent a notice to prefectures in August 2014 stating that only those people who moved to different places because of the nuclear disaster and have the “will” to return to their original homes will be counted as evacuees.

The notice said that if it is difficult to determine people’s will to return, they should not be counted as evacuees. Those who have purchased a home outside their pre-disaster locale, and those in public restoration housing or disaster public housing, are no longer counted as evacuees even if they want to return to their previous homes but can’t for various reasons.

An April 2019 Asahi Shimbun editorial said that the number of people who regard themselves as evacuees is believed to be far higher than the official figure of 40,000 ‒ but nobody knows the true figure.

Akira Imai, chief researcher of the Japan Research Institute for Local Government, told Asahi Shimbun: “This is an act to socially hide the real number of evacuees, which could lead to a cover-up of the seriousness of the incident. The evacuee number is an index that is used to consider measures to support evacuees. The current situation should be reflected properly in the numbers.”

Trauma

The typical experience of Fukushima evacuees has been a collapse of social networks, reduced income and reduced employment opportunities, endless uncertainty, and physical and mental ill-health.

A growing number of evacuees face further trauma arising from the end of housing subsidies, forcing them out of temporary accommodation and in some cases forcing them back to their original homes against their will.

Around 16,000 people who refuse to return to their original homes had been financially abandoned as of January 2019, according to the Citizens’ Nuclear Information Center.

In addition to fiddling with the numbers to artificially deflate the number of evacuees, an increasingly hostile attitude is being adopted towards evacuees to pressure them to leave temporary accommodation and thereby to reduce the evacuee count. The reduction and cessation of housing subsidies is the main component of this problem.

Some years ago, the support structure was modest at best, and many evacuees fell through the cracks. Now, evacuees are being forced through the cracks to reduce expenditure and to create a sense of normality ahead of the ‘Reconstruction Olympics’.

Poverty

The human impact of government policies ‒ national and prefectural governments ‒ are detailed by Seto Daisaku from the Evacuation Cooperation Center. Some evacuees face a doubling of rental payments, some have been deemed “illegal occupants“, some face legal action to have them evicted.

National and local governments promote these policies as necessary to foster independence among evacuees, but as Seto Daisaku notes, “since their income in the places they have evacuated to has dropped precipitously, far from becoming independent they will fall deeper into poverty.”

The April 2019 Asahi Shimbun editorial noted: “After years of living away from home, many evacuees are also struggling with problems such as reduced incomes, the difficulties of finding jobs, deteriorating health and isolation.

“Some are suffering from poverty, anxiety about losing their housing due to the termination of public financial support and physical and mental illness. … The government’s response to the problem has been grossly insufficient.”

Rights

In an October 2018 report, United Nations Special Rapporteur Baskut Tuncak urged the Japanese government to halt the ongoing relocation of evacuees who are children and women of reproductive age to areas of Fukushima where radiation levels remain higher than what was considered safe or healthy before the nuclear disaster in 2011.

Tuncak said the Japanese government’s decision to raise by 20 times what it considered to be an acceptable level of radiation exposure was deeply troubling, highlighting in particular the potential impact on the health and wellbeing of children.

Tuncak said: “It is disappointing to see Japan appear to all but ignore the 2017 recommendation of the UN human rights monitoring mechanism (UPR) to return back to what it considered an acceptable dose of radiation before the nuclear disaster.”

TEPCO is also worsening the evacuees’ plight. Yamaguchi Yukio, co-director of the Citizens’ Nuclear Information Center, wrote in March 2019: “Although the fathomless suffering of the people affected by the accident cannot be atoned for by money, TEPCO has shown no intention of taking any responsibility for the consequences of the accident.

“In the incidents surrounding the petitions by Namie Town, Iitate Village and others to alternative dispute resolution (ADR), TEPCO has refused to agree to the compensation amounts, and rejected the mediated settlement proposal.

“The outlook for resolution of the compensation problem is bleak. This is in complete violation of the three pledges proclaimed by TEPCO: 1) Carry through compensation to the very last person, 2) Carry through rapid and detailed compensation, and 3) Respect mediated settlement proposals.”

This Author

Dr Jim Green is the national nuclear campaigner with Friends of the Earth Australia and editor of the Nuclear Monitor newsletter.

https://theecologist.org/2020/jan/21/forgetting-fukushima?fbclid=IwAR2_aBc0KTBXO6O7qWGkTx0Y224A_9Yf8E996eDW8Y19jItelPshSJOcJ0s

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

Radiation concerns overshadow Tokyo

Ahead of the Summer Games, independent readings remain high

 

12202029While many are concerned about radiation at venues located north of Tokyo, some readings have shown high levels a few miles from the Olympic Stadium, above.

Jan 13,2020

The 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo is now just over six months away, but rather than excitement, there is growing apprehension regarding the radiation levels in Japan.

In the aftermath of the 2011 Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster, the Japanese Ministry of Environment has downplayed concerns regarding radiation in the country, but local civic groups and environmental organizations around the world still have their suspicions. Looking at the radiation levels of the sites where each sporting event will be held, it is understandable why so many are concerned.

The J-Village, which is the official training site of the Japanese women’s football team and where the torch relay will start on March 26, is located about 10 kilometers (6 miles) south of the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant. The Japanese women’s football team is scheduled to kick off the torch relay across the country.

Operated by Tokyo Electric Power Company (Tepco), the power plant suffered severe damage from the magnitude 9.0 earthquake and tsunami that struck in 2011. The damage to several reactors led to leaks of radiation, which is considered the biggest problem ahead of the Games.

When the environmental organization Greenpeace measured the radiation levels of a grassy area near the parking lot of the J-Village in October 2019, the measurement came out to be 71 microsieverts per hour (μSv/h) close the surface and 32 μSv/h at 10 centimeters (4 inches) above the surface, even though the Japanese Ministry of Environment has pledged to keep the reading to below 0.23 microsieverts per hour, according to a report released by the organization.

In the response to the report, the Japanese Ministry of Environment and Tepco moved fast to remove the soil around the hotspot uncovered by Greenpeace Japan.

Based on a Greenpeace report released in December, the organization returned to the J-Village to conduct tests once again and found that the levels at the specific location had dropped to lower than 1 μSv/h at 10 centimeters. However, on the same day just to the north of that hotspot, Greenpeace tested an area adjacent to the parking lot, where levels were up to 2.2 μSv/h at 10 centimeters. Near the entrance of this same parking lot, Greenpeace measured 2.6 μSv/h at 10 centimeters.

“Many questions and uncertainties remain: how were such high levels of radiation (71 μSv/h at close to surface) not detected during the earlier decontamination by Tepco? Why were only the most alarming hotspots removed and not the wider areas following the standard decontamination procedures?” asked Heinz Smital, nuclear physicist and radiation specialist at Greenpeace Germany.

After a request of the Japanese government, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) agreed to host some of the Olympic baseball and softball games at Fukushima Azuma Baseball Stadium, which is only 97 kilometers away from the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant.

The Miyagi Stadium, located in Miyazaki, is a football venue for the Games and is about 118 kilometers away from the power plant.

Since both sites are located relatively close to the site of the accident, many have expressed concerns, as football and baseball are expected to be some of the most popular events at the Olympics this summer.

Interestingly, there hasn’t been much data published regarding those two sites. But when the radiation levels are measured by the organization that takes care of Azuma Stadium every month, the number doesn’t go any higher than 0.2 μSv/h.

Once again, environmental organizations are suspicious. When Greenpeace measured the radiation levels at Namie, located 10 kilometers north of the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant, the radiation levels were as high as 100 times more than the international limit for public exposure. Although the contaminated soil has been removed, the levels still go up when it rains because the soil from the top of the forest runs down to the decontaminated area.

According to Greenpeace, since the Olympics will be held during the summer, typically a rainy and typhoon-prone season in Japan, the soil from the mountains around the Azuma Baseball Stadium may re-contaminate the decontaminated areas.

Although Japan completed the decontamination process around the stadium, right after Typhoon Hagibis last year, the radiation increased about 2000 times.

Aside from baseball, softball and football, the other 39 stadiums at which events will be held are located within a two-hour radius of the Olympic Stadium in Shinjuku, Tokyo.

The Olympic Stadium is about 244 kilometers from the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant, so the site is not as affected by radiation as the more contaminated regions to the north.

But members of the anti-nuclear movement in Japan have stated that Tokyo also may not be safe. The 2017 Nobel Peace Laureate Tilman Ruff, who is on the Australian Board of the International Campaign of Abolish Nuclear Weapons (iCAN), said in November that radiation has not only reached areas south and west of the power plant like Chiba, Saitama and Fukushima, but contamination levels are also pretty high in the northern part of Tokyo as well.

The radiation level of soil that Tokyo residents have measured themselves has turned out to be as high as 0.443 μSv/h.

One of the biggest reasons behind the controversies regarding the high radiation levels and hosting the Tokyo Olympics has been the limited data provided by the Japanese Ministry of Environment. Officials have repeatedly said that Fukushima is safe, but they haven’t announced detailed data regarding the contamination or decontamination of the area around Fukushima.

Due to distrust in the government, some Japanese citizens have stepped up to carry out their own measurements of the radiation levels in the areas. Since the disaster, Minna-no Data Site, a collective database of citizen’s radioactivity measurements, has collected readings on food, soil and other things.

International environmental organizations are asking the Japanese government to release more measurements and to reveal the current level of radiation.

Despite the concerns, for professional athletes, the Olympics represent a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity that, for many, is the culmination of their entire career. While they might be concerned about the current political situation or safety issues, very few of Korea’s potential Olympians are willing to give up an opportunity that they’ve trained most of their lives for.

Due to this, the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism and the Korean Olympic Committee (KOC) are considering running their own cafeteria to provide food for the athletes using ingredients from Korea.

BY KIM JEONG-YEON [kang.yoorim@joongang.co.kr]

http://koreajoongangdaily.joins.com/news/article/article.aspx?aid=3072530

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

Fukushima’s Hot Particles in Japan: Their Meaning for the Olympics and Beyond

RADATION-graphic-300x138

January 10, 2020

By Cindy Folkers

Hundreds of thousands of people—athletes, officials, media, and spectators—will flood into Japan for the 2020 Olympics. But radiation exposure dangers from the Fukushima nuclear catastrophe have not ended since the meltdowns and explosions spread radioactive contamination over large areas reaching down to Tokyo and beyond. Soon after the start of the meltdowns in 2011, experts began warning of exposure to radioactive micro-particles or “hot particles”—a type of particle that poses a danger unaccounted for by regulatory agencies. In order to understand the special danger posed by these particles at the Olympics and beyond, we must first understand the current state of radiation exposure standards.

Hot Particles Don’t Fit Current Exposure Models

For decades, protection from radiation exposure has been based on understanding how doses are delivered to the human body. Are the doses high or low? Inside or outside the body? If a dose is internal, which organ is it impacting? Is the dose given all at one time, or over a longer time? Additional consideration should be given to who is receiving the exposure: men, women, children, fetuses—although protection based on age, gender and pregnancy falls short.

The difficulty with hot particles, which can travel great distances, is that they don’t deliver doses in the way experts expect. Current exposure assumptions hold that radionuclides settling in the body, i.e. through inhalation or ingestion, deliver a low dose to surrounding cells where they lodge. But these models are not truly reflecting the damage that is occurring. For instance, precise distribution of many radionuclides within the body eludes experts. And radiation doses delivered inside cells, which may seem low to an entire body, are large doses when just single cells or groupings of cells receive them. Hot particles deliver a much larger dose than what is considered “low.” And once they are inhaled or ingested, they deliver it specifically to the (often unpredictable) area of the body where they lodge.

Hot Particles Make Already Unpredictable Damage Worse

Not only can hot particle doses be unpredictable—so can the damage. Called “stochastic,” damage from radiation exposure may occur at all doses [no matter how small]. The higher the dose is, the greater the chance is that damage will happen. However, the severity of the damage is independent of the dose; that is even low doses of radiation can result in severe consequences. Sometimes these consequences take decades to manifest, but for times of life when fast growth is occurring—such as pregnancy or childhood—the damage may show up in a much shorter time frame.

Since all parts of the human body develop from single cells during pregnancy, the severity of a “radiation hit” during this development can be devastating for mother and child, yet governments and the nuclear industry never consider these exposures as having an official radiation impact. Therefore, NO safe dose CAN exist. Stochastic risk, coupled with the additional unpredictable and unaccounted-for risk from radioactive micro-particles, can lead to impacts that are more dangerous and difficult to quantify with currently used methods.

Olympics 2020 and Beyond

Clearly, as Japan prepares to host the 2020 Olympics, the danger posed by exposure to radioactive micro-particles should be considered, in addition to known and better understood radio-cesium contamination. While most of the radioactive particle dust has settled, it can be easily re-suspended by activities such as digging or running, and by rain, wind, snow, and flooding. Health officials in Japan continually fail to act and stop ongoing radioactive exposures. This lack of governmental action puts all residents of Japan at risk, and also any athletes, spectators and visitors that participate in the Olympics.

Currently, the torch relay is scheduled to begin with a special display of the “Flame of Recovery,” as the torch passes through still-contaminated areas of Fukushima Prefecture. Then, the “Grand Start,” the Japanese leg of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Torch Relay, will occur at “J. Village,” the former disaster response headquarters used during the initial nuclear meltdowns in 2011. It is 12.4 miles from Fukushima-1 wreckage site, and resides close to acres of radioactive topsoil and other material stored in bags. The bags and the cranes moving them are visible on satellite maps dated 2019. After starting in Fukushima, the torch will travel to all remaining prefectures of Japan. Further, there is indication that J. Village (now called National Training Center) is being retrofitted as a practice area for baseball, softball, and soccer. Games hosted in Fukushima Prefecture aren’t the only exposure concern, as radioisotopes have traveled far from the ruined cores of Fukushima’s reactors. Radionuclides from the meltdowns were found in Tokyo’s metropolitan area as late as 2016 and would increase and decrease, researchers observed, based on rainfall and run-off. One “high activity radioactively-hot dust particle” traveled from Fukushima’s ruined core, to a house in Nagoya, Japan—270 miles away.

In our normal lives, each one of us breathes in a modest amount of dust daily. People are also exposed through contaminated food, ingestion of dusts and soil, or through skin contact. Endurance athletes are at a higher risk, since they often eat much more—and take in more breaths per minute—than an average athlete or a person at rest. And, biologically, due to developing cells, children and pregnant women are at a much higher risk from radiation exposure than men. Many Olympic and Paralympic athletes are of childbearing age or adolescents.

Contamination in Japan has not gone away and neither should our awareness. While most of the athletes, coaches and spectators will leave Japan, the contamination remains, impacting generations of people who will have to contend with this danger for much longer than the eight-plus years they have already been through.

Japan’s government policy of dismissing radiation’s dangers, and normalizing exposure to radioactivity, is part of an attempt to resettle people in areas that would allow an external dose of 2 rem per year. Prior to the Fukushima meltdowns, this level was considered high-risk to the general population. This is not an acceptable level of exposure. The radioactive micro-particles found in areas with even lower background levels indicate a significant risk that Japan and governments around the world who support nuclear technologies are covering up. Merely understanding and quantifying these hot particles is not enough. Governments must protect people from exposure everywhere in the world, not just in Japan. The danger of radioactive micro-particles should be added to a long list of reasons why nuclear technology is not safe and should no longer be used.

Thanks to Arnie and Maggie Gundersen at Fairewinds Energy Education for technical and editorial input.

Cindy Folkers is on the staff of Beyond Nuclear where she specializes in radiation impacts on health, Congress watch, energy legislation, climate change, and federal subsidies.

http://nukewatchinfo.org/fukushimas-hot-particles-in-japan-their-meaning-for-the-olympics-and-beyond/

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

Fukushima Radiation Hotspots Raise Concerns Ahead of Tokyo Olympics

“According to Greenpeace, the figure of 71 microsieverts per hour is “1,775 times higher than the 0.04 microsieverts per hour prior to the Fukushima Daiichi triple reactor meltdown”.

After the accident, the Japanese government took the controversial decision to raise the maximum exposure threshold for civilians in Fukushima from 1 millisievert (=1,000 microsieverts) per year, the figure recommended by the World Health Organization and the International Atomic Energy Agency, to 20 millisieverts per year.

Even on this basis, the annualized equivalent of 71 microsieverts per hour amounts to nearly 622 millisieverts, a figure 31 times higher.”

 

01.jpgArea of radioactive hot spots found by Greenpeace survey team in J-Village, Fukushima prefecture, 26 October 2019.

December 8, 2019

This is one of the most shocking discoveries I’ve made in decades of radiation surveys.”

The troubling discovery was supposed to remain under wraps, until Greenpeace Japan determined on December 4 that it had no choice but to publish a press release entitled “High-level radiation hot spots found at J-Village, the starting point of Tokyo 2020 torch relay.”

The story remains largely unnoticed in Japan, but it raises serious questions about public health, transparency and accountability that transcend the country’s borders all the way to Switzerland and Argentina. It also deals a heavy blow to the Japanese government’s narrative that “all is well in Fukushima,” a region forever tainted by the triple meltdown at the eponymous nuclear plant, as Tokyo gears up to host the 2020 Olympics.

On a deeper level, the sequence of events sheds light on an apparent cover-up that would result in a public relations fiasco — that is, if the media covering the issue were asking the right questions, connecting the dots and delivering the full picture.

This is one of the most shocking discoveries I’ve made in decades of radiation surveys,” says Shaun Burnie, a senior nuclear specialist at Greenpeace who has been the environmental NGO’s point man in Fukushima since the triple meltdown of March 2011. “One of the reasons is that the Tokyo Olympics torch relay is set to kick off from this very location on March 26.”

A Symbol of Fukushima’s Cleanup

The location where the radiation hotspots were discovered, J-Village, is highly symbolic for Japan. Tens of millions of people first heard of it at the peak of the Fukushima nuclear crisis, when Japanese Self-Defense Force troops dispatched in a last-ditch effort to bring the situation under control turned the sports complex into a forward operating base. The location of J-Village, approximately 20 kilometers (12 miles) south of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant, was ideal because it was right at the edge of the mandatory evacuation perimeter imposed by the government — often referred to as the exclusion zone.

Over the years that followed, J-Village became a logistics center for the decontamination of areas tainted by radioactive fallout from the nuclear plant. And in April 2019, the reopening of a completely renovated J-Village National Training Center became the cornerstone of a major public relations campaign to signal that the cleanup of Fukushima was finally complete.

It’s no surprise, therefore, that the administration of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe chose J-Village as the “grand” starting point, on March 26, 2020, of the torch relay that will see the Olympic flame travel across all of Japan’s 47 prefectures — the equivalent of U.S. States — over 121 days.

The Tokyo Games themselves are seen by many in Japan as a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to shine on the world stage. And in the same way that the Tokyo 1964 Summer Olympics marked the country’s rise from the ashes of war, the 2020 edition is being marketed, especially on the domestic front, as the “Reconstruction Olympics” in reference to the triple disaster of March 2011.

An Unexpected Discovery

On October 26, a team of radiation experts from Greenpeace, which has been carrying out annual surveys across Fukushima since the 2011 nuclear accident, detected abnormally high levels of radiation at several points around the sports complex. The survey was part of an annual study covering the main contaminated areas of Fukushima, which involves taking tens of thousands of measurements with high-precision sensors mounted on drones, vehicles and handheld devices.

The highest reading, 71 microsieverts per hour at ground level, was discovered in a parking area. “I was standing less than one meter from the hotspot and two meters from a parked car from which a woman had just come out,” recalls team leader Shaun Burnie. “Just 30 to 40 meters away, soccer players were sitting on the tarmac eating their lunch. There were also sports fans, family members and coaches.”

 

02.jpgYouth soccer game, J-Village Stadium, Hirono, Fukushima. 9 August 2010.

According to Greenpeace, the figure of 71 microsieverts per hour is “1,775 times higher than the 0.04 microsieverts per hour prior to the Fukushima Daiichi triple reactor meltdown”. After the accident, the Japanese government took the controversial decision to raise the maximum exposure threshold for civilians in Fukushima from 1 millisievert (=1,000 microsieverts) per year, the figure recommended by the World Health Organization and the International Atomic Energy Agency, to 20 millisieverts per year. Even on this basis, the annualized equivalent of 71 microsieverts per hour amounts to nearly 622 millisieverts, a figure 31 times higher.

Obviously no one is going to stand over a hotspot for a year, but it indicates that there is a problem with contamination,” says Burnie. “The much more serious hazard is inhaling cesium-rich microparticles. The long-term risks remain a big unknown.”

[Note: The health risks associated with external exposure to such levels of radiation are a highly complex and contentious issue that goes beyond the scope of this article. It is partly addressed in this Scientific American article on the return of Fukushima residents displaced by the nuclear crisis.]

Weighing Options

The Greenpeace team spent only about two hours on location, but it quickly identified six hotspots within approximately 100 meters of each other. “Finding such high levels, especially in areas open to the public, was an unexpected situation to say the least,” says Burnie.

The team immediately discussed and considered three options: 1) an immediate release of the information; 2) informing authorities and urging them to take action; and 3) holding onto the information, compiling the data from the entire Fukushima survey — a process that takes between one and two months — and publishing the annual report as planned sometime at the end of February or early March (see for example Greenpeace Japan’s March 2019 report).

We immediately ruled out the third option because of the high radiation levels,” says Burnie. “The first option was very tempting, but we wanted to give the authorities of J-Village, Fukushima Prefecture and the government an opportunity to take action immediately.” Greenpeace settled for option two, in the form of a letter to Environment Minister Shinjiro Koizumi.

Copies of the letter were sent separately to the Governor of Fukushima Prefecture (who also presides over J-Village), the president of the Japanese Olympic and Paralympic Committee, the president of the International Paralympic Committee, and last but not least, the President of the powerful International Olympic Committee (IOC) in Lausanne.

Birth of a Public Relations Fiasco

On November 18, Greenpeace entrusted the letter to an official from the Environment Ministry’s PR department. The copies were all sent on the same day via registered mail. In the letter, the NGO raised “urgent concerns,” presented the survey’s methodology and findings, and recommended an “immediate and extensive” survey of the public area in and around J-Village.

What followed was two weeks of complete radio silence, despite regular follow-up inquiries by telephone to the Environment Ministry and J-Village’s PR departments. Until, on Monday, Dec. 2, Greenpeace Japan received a phone call from a reporter with the Sankei Shimbun, a daily newspaper on the (arguably hard) right of the political spectrum. The journalist sought confirmation about the survey, which a Greenpeace spokesperson refused to confirm or deny.

On Tuesday, the same journalist called again, this time with the precise figure of 71 microsieverts per hour. The cat was out of the bag, and the Sankei article set to go to print on Wednesday. That is what prompted Greenpeace to go public on Dec. 4 with a full-fledged press release.

 

03.jpgScreenshot of Greenpeace Japan’s website.

The NGO’s original plan, according to Senior Energy Campaigner Kazue Suzuki, had been to wait until mid-December for a proper response from the government and J-Village. At the time of writing (Dec. 8), the only reaction Greenpeace had received from the Environment Ministry’s PR department, according to Suzuki, was a verbal commitment to “work towards being able to reply by Dec.19.”

At this point in time, it would have been reasonable to believe that authorities were simply dragging their feet, all the more so because Greenpeace Japan is not exactly popular in government circles due to its campaigns against Japan’s whaling programs, and the NGO’s highly critical stance on the issue of nuclear decontamination. But the Sankei’s Dec. 4 article also carried revelations that raise a whole new set of questions.

A Discreet Bombshell

The Sankei article, entitled “Starting Point of Olympic Torch Relay Re-Decontaminated,” cited “multiple government sources” confirming Greenpeace’s survey findings, including the maximum figure of 71 microsieverts per hour. It also revealed for the first time to the public the existence of a letter “requesting action from the Environment Ministry, the Japanese Olympic Committee and the IOC“ — but stopped short of mentioning that the letter had been sent 2 weeks earlier.

The government takes survey results seriously due to possible safety concerns among countries participating in the Olympics”, noted the article, before delivering this crucial nugget: “On December 2, representatives from the Environment Ministry, local authorities, Tokyo Electric Power Company (Tepco) and J-Village held a meeting, and on Dec. 3, Tepco removed [contaminated] soil from the surrounding area.”

More importantly, the Sankei article suddenly made it clear, albeit between the lines, that neither the government nor Fukushima Prefecture or Tepco — entities that have repeatedly pledged greater transparency over radioactive contamination — had deemed it necessary to inform the public about the hotspots or their decision to decontaminate those areas.

Also puzzling is the silence of Fukushima Governor Masao Uchibori, who as President of J-Village was a direct recipient of the Greenpeace letter. If this matter came to the attention of his constituents, his administration would most likely have to field questions from angry parents whose children attended summer camps at the facility, among other concerned citizens.

What’s more, there is no sign of any intention on the part of authorities to conduct an immediate and comprehensive survey of the entire J-Village complex, as urged by Greenpeace Japan. “If this were a nuclear facility,” says Burnie, “the matter would have to be reported as an incident and the area closed off immediately.”

Low-Key Media Coverage

Unlike what one would expect in nuclear-powered countries such as France or the United States, none of Japan’s mainstream media have deemed this story worthy of high-profile coverage.

Sankei’s short article was buried on page 26, which explains perhaps why few other Japanese media such as the Mainichi Shimbun picked up the story, all in a similar, low-key fashion. The headlines didn’t read anything close to “Government Occults Radiation Hotspots at J-Village,” nor did the articles raise questions about transparency or accountability.

More often than not, even Greenpeace’s name was replaced with “an environmental protection group,” despite its conspicuous role as the whistleblower that initially brought this matter to the government’s attention.

Bloomberg and AFP were among the few non-Japanese media to pick up the story, but neither offered details about the timeline of events or its wider implications.

Did authorities know of any hotspots at or near the facility before receiving the Greenpeace letter? If not, why did they fail to spot them? Why did they choose to remain silent after determining that radiation levels warranted an intervention? Are they in a position to guarantee that J-Village will remain clean until the Olympic torch relay? Is it reasonable to hold sports training sessions and competitions involving children at the facility?

All of these questions have yet to be addressed, and it’s unclear if they ever will be.

This is not the first time that news related to the nuclear accident at Fukushima Daiichi remained, intentionally or not, under the radar of Japanese media. Nor is it the first time that the government has opted not to disclose matters directly relevant to public health or safety.

 

04.jpgAuthor comparing the readings of handheld geiger counter with official monitoring post in Iitate, Fukushima Prefecture. 31 August 2013.

Notable examples include the Japanese media’s reticence to use the word “meltdown” for 6 weeks after the nuclear accident, opting instead to relay the government and Tepco’s less frightening “partial damage to fuel rods” wording; the general absence in media reports of testimonies from nuclear evacuees openly expressing their distrust of data from the government’s radiation monitoring posts (some claimed to have seen workers regularly decontaminating the area immediately around the sensors, presumably to make sure the readings remained low); and the revelation in February 2012 that the Japanese government, in its darkest hour, had contemplated evacuating Tokyo.

Outside Japan: the Argentina Angle and the IOC

On the international front, the issue that appears to worry the Japanese government the most, as underlined by the Sankei article, is how countries participating in the Tokyo 2020 Olympics might react. But there are other dots that no Japanese or foreign media seem to have connected so far: J-Village was also an important facility during the Rugby World Cup hosted by Japan this year, and served as a training ground for Argentina’s national team less than 6 weeks before the hotspots were discovered.

According to a reporter from Argentina’s leading newspaper La Nacion, who covered the team during the tournament, Los Pumas (as the squad is known) spent at least one week training and sleeping at J-Village in mid-September. Would they have done so if there had been any suspicions about radiation levels in the area?

Neither Argentina’s national squad nor the Argentina Rugby Union could be reached for comment at the time of writing. Details about this story and an offer to collaborate on it were extended to La Nacion’s reporter as early as December 4, but they have yet to elicit a formal response.

The other angle that needs to be pursued is in Switzerland, namely at the headquarters of the Grand Master of Ceremonies itself, the International Olympic Committee in Lausanne.

The IOC is on the list of institutions that received the registered letter from Greenpeace Japan. And just like its Japanese counterparts, it has yet to respond to the NGO — let alone inform the public about the findings. Among the questions that come to mind are: what is the IOC’s position on the matter of radioactive hotspots? And how does it feel about hosting a large-scale public event such as the launch of the torch relay at J-Village, without a comprehensive survey being conducted first?

Here again, a Swiss newspaper, La Liberté, was contacted directly and provided with detailed information about the story, particularly on the IOC angle, but its editors chose not to follow through.

Author’s Analysis

It’s unusual for a journalist to include personal thoughts as part of a news story. But in the spirit of Citizen Truth’s belief “in the power of regular people sharing their news, thoughts and experiences,” this reporter — who, like any journalist, is also an ordinary citizen — would like to switch to the first person to share a few considerations with the readers, while keeping them separate from the story itself.

I spent several years covering the Fukushima nuclear accident as a reporter for Nuclear Intelligence Weekly, and more episodically for other non-Japanese media, including Time, the Independent and Canada’s CBC. I interviewed evacuees, spent the equivalent of one week with a farmer inside the exclusion zone, walked around with an industrial-grade Geiger counter, wrote a long critical assessment of decontamination efforts in Fukushima for the Asia-Pacific Journal, and even participated as an observer in a survey at sea off Fukushima Daiichi aboard a research vessel operated by the Tokyo University of Marine Science and Technology.

What are my takeaways? To name just a few related to this article: Japanese media are notoriously reluctant to disclose any negative information that hasn’t been confirmed by the government or other official sources; understanding radiation figures and what they mean takes a lot of time and effort, and there are still significant doubts about the government’s willingness to be transparent and forthcoming with the numbers, especially when they don’t fit with the narrative that all is well in Fukushima.

Despite the Japanese government’s constant assurances, the consequences of the Fukushima nuclear crisis are not going to go away anytime soon, nor are the radionuclides that have been scattered across large areas of the prefecture. You only have to look at a map to see that 70 to 80 percent of the land most affected by radioactive fallout consists of mountains and forests that can by definition not be “decontaminated” without causing tremendous damage to the environment. The direct consequence is that radioactive particles continue to be scattered across areas designated as “safe to return to,” and although background radiation levels are receding, they will remain above normal even in the reopened parts of Fukushima for decades to come.

To me, it’s no surprise that this story appears to have been nipped in the bud, or at least neutralized for now. The only scenario I can think of that would prompt Japan’s mainstream media to revisit it would be if an official protest were lodged by another country or institution, for example, Argentina’s Rugby Union. Only time will tell.

https://citizentruth.org/fukushima-radiation-hotspots-raise-concerns-ahead-of-tokyo-olympics/?fbclid=IwAR2FpKvrRETg6cTqUt0cSIQ4lXQn-iQ-hZ00rax-yDXnBy_APWWKr0GbUoQ

 

December 17, 2019 Posted by | fukushima 2019 | , , | 1 Comment

Fukushima persimmons to be presented to Pope

Wanting to use the Pope visit to slyly promote contaminated food….
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November 21, 2019
A Japanese Catholic from Fukushima Prefecture plans to present local specialty persimmons to Pope Francis during his visit to Japan from Saturday.
Chuichi Ozawa from Koriyama City has been granted an audience with the pontiff next week.
As a member of the Koriyama Catholic Church, Ozawa has worked to support people affected by the 2011 earthquake and Fukushima Daiichi nuclear accident.
Ozawa proposed presenting Aizu-mishirazu persimmons to the Pope to help dispel concerns about the safety of Fukushima produce due to the accident.
The Vatican Embassy in Tokyo accepted the offer.
The persimmons are known for their creamy texture and refreshing sweetness.
Ozawa visited a farmer in the Aizu region on Thursday and received more than 50 persimmons specially chosen for their colors and shapes.
He plans to bring the fruit to the embassy on Friday.
Ozawa says if the Pope eats the persimmons, it will lift the spirits of Fukushima farmers.

November 25, 2019 Posted by | fukushima 2019 | , , | Leave a comment

Dangerous radioactive hot particles span the globe

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November 17, 2019

Citizen scientists are uncovering risks that governments would rather cover up

By Cindy Folkers

When reactors exploded and melted down at the Fukushima nuclear power complex in March 2011, they launched radioactivity from their ruined cores into the unprotected environment.  Some of this toxic radioactivity was in the form of hot particles (radioactive microparticles) that congealed and became airborne by attaching to dusts and traveling great distances.

However, the Fukushima disaster is only the most recent example of atomic power and nuclear weapons sites creating and spreading these microparticles. Prior occurrences include various U.S. weapons sites and the ruined Chernobyl reactor. While government and industry cover up this hazard, community volunteer citizen science efforts – collaborations between scientists and community volunteers – are tracking the problem to raise awareness of its tremendous danger in Japan and across the globe.

After the Fukushima nuclear disaster began, one highly radioactive specimen, a particle small enough to inhale or ingest, was found in a private home where it should not have been, hundreds of miles from its source, in a vacuum cleaner bag containing simple house dust.

This “high activity radioactively-hot dust particle” came from a house in Nagoya, Japan – after it had traveled 270 miles from Fukushima. The only radioactive particle found in the home’s vacuum cleaner bag, it was an unimaginably minuscule part of the ruined radioactive core material from Fukushima – many times smaller than the width of a human hair. We know it came from Fukushima because it contained cesium-134, meaning that the particle came from a recent release, and we know it is a piece of core material specifically because it was so radioactive that it could not have come from any other material.

 

nagoya-hot-particle.png(Image courtesy of Arnie Gundersen/Fairewinds)

Most of the particle’s radioactivity came from cesium-134 and cesium-137. By the time it was collected, some of the particle’s radioactivity, mostly from iodine-131, had already decayed. Named “corium” by scientists, it was still thousands of times more radioactive (5,200,000,000,000,000 disintegrations per second per kilogram — that’s 5.2 quadrillion more than the average activity (26,000 disintegrations per second per kilogram) found in dust and soil samples collected through community volunteer efforts from across Japan — with a focus on areas around Fukushima — since the 2011 nuclear disaster began. By way of comparison, in the U.S., average soil and dust activity is thousands of times lower.

Due to privacy concerns, we are not permitted to know the identities of the Nagoya residents who participated in the dust sampling collection and in whose home the particle was found. Nor do we know how many people lived in the home; if there were children or babies present; or pets; or pregnant women. And we will never know if there were any other radioactive microparticles in the home that did not make it into that vacuum cleaner bag.

We do not know how the particle got there. No one in the home (nor the vacuum cleaner) had any connection to the Fukushima reactors or the exclusion zone. Was the particle transported by a car tire into their city? On someone’s shoes? Did it fly in through a window after being lofted by air currents? Did it arrive by a combination of forces? We do not know if other particles like this travelled just as far in all directions, or who may have taken a breath at just the wrong moment, so that a similar microparticle might be lodged in their lungs.

We do know the residents in Nagoya were notified about the particle’s presence, and that if it had been inhaled or ingested, it could have proven lethal over time. This corium particle would have destroyed tissue near it, potentially threatening the function of any organ that tissue was part of. But the particle’s additional danger would come from what it didn’t destroy – that is tissue that is damaged but survives and can go on to mutate into cancer or non-cancer diseases.

 

fukushima-nagoya-map.pngA map showing the distance between Nagoya, where the radioactive “hot particle” was found, and Fukushima.

We also know that had scientists and citizens not worked together to collect samples, we would never have known a microparticle of corium existed at all at a distance so far away from the Fukushima meltdowns. If the presence of this particle – and its potential for inhalation – had gone unnoticed, any calculations of the doses to residents of this home would have been significantly underestimated. And while the Nagoya particle may simply be an outlier, it shows how inaccurate radiation risk assessment has turned out to be.  All of these microparticles, even ones less radioactive, may pose significant health risks inside the body that are currently uncalculated.

Citizen and scientists collaborations show us that radioactive microparticles are a worldwide problem. Yet action by public health advocates and government officials has been slow to nonexistent in recognizing this danger, much less working to protect people against exposure from it. Detecting radioactive microparticles is extremely difficult, in part because detecting them and proving their danger requires specialized techniques and equipment. But this is no excuse for governments to ignore the problem altogether as they continue to do. When experts tell us what our risks are from radiation exposure, risks from these microparticles remain unaccounted for in every country in the world.  Speculation swirls around these particles and whether the rapid-onset cancers occurring in Japan are possibly due to their presence.

Radioactive particles across the globe

Collections of various samples (home air filters, vehicle engine intake filters, soils, samples of dust from vacuum cleaner bags) have revealed radioactive microparticles from Fukushima made it as far as Seattle, WA and Portland, OR in the U.S.,and to the Western coast of Canada.

Not surprisingly, microparticles in Japan were much more radioactive than those that made their way to the U.S. and contained more varied radioisotopes, thus posing a much greater health risk. In the case of some filters in Japan, contamination was high enough to be classified as “radioactive waste.”

In addition to catastrophic releases from nuclear power facilities, these particles come from atomic detonations, other nuclear industry processes such as mining and atomic fuel fabrication, and nuclear facility releases of radioactivity, as well as leaking atomic waste dumps. Nuclear workers, First Nations Tribes, and local residents have submitted samples for testing around such facilities. Particles have been detected in the environment and in house dusts in communities around weapons facilities in Los Alamos, NM; Hanford, WA; and Rocky Flats, CO. Thorium, plutonium, and uranium from nuclear facilities were found “outside of radiation protection zones,” including workplaces, workers’ homes and cars. “Given the small respirable size of these radioactive microparticles, they are a potential source of internal exposure from inhalation or ingestion,” according to Dr. Marco Kaltofen of Worcester Polytechnic Institute.

 

rad-shrine.jpgA traditional sacred Japanese shrine, whose backdrop is covered bags of radioactively contaminated soil. (Photo courtesy of Arnie Gundersen/Fairewinds)

In some cases, radioactive particle releases can be higher from nuclear power catastrophes than disasters at atomic bomb facilities. In 1986, Chernobyl also released radioactive particles that still contaminate the environment today. . Forest fires are spreading them further. Current community volunteer citizen science efforts are underway in the environs of the Santa Susana Field Laboratory (SSFL) – a former reactor test site adjacent to Simi Valley, CA – and the site of several unanticipated and unmonitored nuclear releases, a meltdown, and the November 2018 Woolsey forest fire.

Similar work is being carried out in Pike County, OH, host to a uranium enrichment facility for military and civilian nuclear reactors that has spread radioactive contamination to a nearby middle school, the grounds of which have now been quarantined. The U.S. Department of Energy hid the school contamination for two years, prompting public outrage and calls for health investigations into the high incidence of local childhood disease.

Ignoring danger to human health, environment

The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) currently has an existing 10-mile emergency planning radius around commercial nuclear power reactors, a zone the NRC does not place around other nuclear facilities. This 10-mile zone is not large enough to account for exposures that often occur well outside of it.

While the NRC is aware of the radioactive microparticle threat, its dose models fail to provide the extensive, detailed calculations required to actually protect anyone working at or living near these sites. Since radioactive microparticles remain a threat for generations after a catastrophe begins, the NRC should account for continuing exposure to communities and their people for the decades or centuries it takes for such materials to be safe for human or animal exposure.

The author wishes to thank Arnie and Maggie Gundersen at Fairewinds Energy Education for technical and editorial input. Cindy Folkers is the radiation and health specialist at Beyond Nuclear.

Headline photo: “3S0578” by Billy and Lynn is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

https://beyondnuclearinternational.org/2019/11/17/dangerous-radioactive-hot-particles-span-the-globe/?fbclid=IwAR1f6xoC-X36Om7p6anCTPHz9DPeqjcZtP5NX2LYweMyUS3fjnIS1mAB1FA

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November 19, 2019 Posted by | fukushima 2019 | , | Leave a comment

Hotspots in East Tokyo’s Mizumoto Park

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November 12, 2019
The soil of 12 out of 29 spots in Mizumoto Park (Katsushika-ward, Tokyo city) recorded more than 8000 Bq/kg of radioactive cesium. The highest measurement was over 42,000 Bq/kg.
水元公園かわせみの里残土 地図 Sample115
Here is another measurement data of the highest spot in the Park, which was recorded by a local volunteer in March 2019.

November 19, 2019 Posted by | fukushima 2019 | , , | Leave a comment

S. Korea, Russia agree to put radiation detectors on ferries

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November 08, 2019
SEOUL, Nov. 8 (Yonhap) — South Korea and Russia have agreed to put radiation detectors on the passenger ships that ply between the countries, Seoul’s foreign ministry said Friday, an apparent move to enhance their watch against Japan’s planned release of radiation-contaminated water into the Pacific Ocean.
The agreement came at the 14th meeting of the South Korea-Russia Joint Committee on Environment Cooperation held in Seoul on Thursday.
“It is aimed at enhancing the countries’ monitoring of radioactive materials,” the ministry said.
The move comes as Japan is widely expected to soon begin dumping waste water from its nuclear power plant in Fukushima, whose reactors experienced catastrophic meltdown in 2011.
Tokyo claims the radiation-contaminated water will have little or no effect on the environment as it will be discharged after being thoroughly treated.
Seoul has strongly opposed the plan, insisting it may destroy the entire ecosystem in the region.
South Korea currently bans any fishery and agricultural products from Fukushima and adjacent areas, and is checking nearly all food imports from Japan for radiation.
As of end-August, about 5 tons of Japanese food imports have been rejected or destroyed due to possible radiation contamination, the government said earlier.

November 19, 2019 Posted by | fukushima 2019 | , , , | Leave a comment

Citizens’ group in Fukushima puts out radiation map in English

nov 3 2019.jpgThe cover of “Citizens’ Radiation Data Map of Japan” (Provided by Minna-No Data Site)

November 3, 2019

FUKUSHIMA—A citizens’ group here has released an English radiation-level map for eastern Japan created with input from 4,000 volunteers in response to requests from abroad ahead of the Tokyo Olympics.

“We want people outside Japan to understand the reality of radioactive contamination following the nuclear accident,” said Nahoko Nakamura, a representative of Minna-No Data Site (Everyone’s Data Site), which published the map.

The Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant experienced a triple meltdown in March 2011 after a tsunami knocked out its cooling systems during the Great East Japan Earthquake.

Titled “Citizens’ Radiation Data Map of Japan,” the 16-page booklet summarizes the content of the original Japanese map, released in November last year. It also shows projected declines in radiation levels by 2041.

The Japanese version was based on results of land contamination surveys conducted over three years at the request of Everyone’s Data Site.

About 4,000 volunteers took soil samples at 3,400 locations in 17 prefectures in eastern Japan, including Fukushima and Tokyo, and measured radiation levels. The map was compiled with advice from experts.

The group raised 6.23 million yen ($57,500) from 1,288 individuals through a crowdfunding campaign. So far, 15,000 copies have been sold.

Nakamura said the group decided to produce an English version after it received inquiries about the Japanese map from researchers and others overseas in the run-up to the Tokyo Olympics.

Everyone’s Data Site spent about four months creating the English map, working through e-mail and online chats with five volunteer translators overseas, including an American and a Canadian.

The English edition sells for 500 yen, excluding tax. For more information, contact Everyone’s Data Site at (minnanods@gmail.com).

http://www.asahi.com/ajw/articles/AJ201911030001.html

November 4, 2019 Posted by | fukushima 2019 | , , , , | Leave a comment

Fukushima is not safe for 2020 Olympics, nuclear scientists warn

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October 30, 2019

Would Russia hold the 1994 Olympics at Chernobyl, the site of the 1986 meltdown? Only 8-years later, do we really think it’s safe to hold the Olympics on Fukushima soil? What would common sense tell us?

But these are very dark times.

The International Olympic Committee (IOC), the Japanese government, and most news media have ignored the risks one of the worst nuclear disasters in world history: the 2011 Fukushima power plant meltdown.

For years afterward, the Japanese government struggled what to do with millions of gallons of contaminated water and tens of thousands of Japanese refugees. Instead of safer measures, they chose the cheapest solution, spinning the truth in favor of profit and national image over human life.

Scientists warned that almost everything on land is contaminated, and this may include Tokyo which sits 100 kilometers from Fukushima.

Radiation levels may beyond what is safe for humans

According to 60 Minutes Australia, many experts are asking for the Fukushima Olympics to be canceled due to radioactive contamination. Yet, when The Washington Post ran an article on the struggles Fukushima and the residents are facing, there is no mention of what dangers Olympians and spectators may face in an area that has radiation levels way beyond what is safe for humans. Such high levels are likely to continue for decades to come.

In fact, in that same article, Simon Denyer wrote that when it rains, the water itself is radioactive. Residents feel forced by the Japanese government to return, as the government cuts pensions if residents refuse, essentially forcing them and their children for increased risk of cancer and other health problems. Childhood cancer is increasing in the affected zones, Denyer reports.

Why the silence? Where is the IOC? Is it okay for athletes and spectators to spend two weeks in a radioactive zone so that the Japanese government can make everyone forget that radiation exposure is no big deal? Such wouldn’t have to do with money over human life would it? Where is the U.S. news media that often looks for just a big story like this to crack? Why the silence?

As for Japan, what choice does it have but to move forward and accept that almost its entire population is inevitably exposed to radiation.

This is not something they can fix, so the government must reinvent Fukushima as a safe and wonderful place, a place where one can eat the vegetables and fruits from Fukushima, and they can live there healthy and happy. What better way than to repackage horrible facts with a new Fukushima, a safer, healthier one? However, they will have to force their residents to come back in order to seal such a wonderful myth.

Smelling a Nuclear Rat?

Dahr Jamail interviewed Arnie Gunderson that oversaw dozens of nuclear power plant projects in the United States. He faults the Japanese government and the nuclear power plant industry in pushing residents to go back to Fukushima before the 2020 Games. Even more surprising is that the IOC is also, according to Jamail, making very light over the known toxicity of Fukushima where the softball and baseball events will be played. Denyer, however, verified that six total events will take place in Fukushima. Gunderson, with 45 years’ experience with nuclear energy companies says that the goal is profit and that public health is not being considered.

Thyroid cancer, Jamail writes, already is increasing within the 310-mile radius of the disaster, and instances of cancer among children is increasing as well.  In fact, the radiation is not decreasing but increasing at the power plants. Dr. Tadahiro Katsuta of Meiji University in Japan makes the Japanese motive clear: the Japanese government is putting its public image and money over the lives of its citizens. The Japanese government is also putting international athletes and citizens at risk with little regard for their health and safety.

Reporters Dave Zirin and Jules Boykoff went through Fukushima with a radioactive tester. They noted that a reading over 0.23 is seen as unsafe for humans. As they neared the Fukushima Daiichi Unit 1 reactor, the needle read 3.77. The Olympic torch is scheduled to pass near this area.

Who Works in Radioactive Zones without Protection? Athletes and Migrant Workers

They witnessed in Fukushima workers without protective suits putting contaminated soil in black plastic bags and piling them in “pyramids.” While some agencies dispute how dangerous Fukushima is, what is clear is that the Japanese government raised the exposure benchmark for radiation from 1mSV a year to 20 MSV per year, the reporters noted. As an international journalist based in Japan stated, the Japanese government is pushing “propaganda over truth.” The IOC seems happy to play along.

Tens of thousands of Japanese refugees are still displaced and not willing to go back. The question is why wouldn’t people back to their homes, many of which whose families lived there for generations, if it were safe? Why would the IOC be so willing to host the games at a questionable site, even if such posed the slightest risks to athletes?

It does not take a nuclear engineer or scientist to understand that radiation contamination lasts for many years. Why build Olympic venues eight years after that very place had a nuclear disaster? Isn’t such a push egregious, irresponsible, and shameful? Common sense would tell any organizer of any event that such an event should not be placed in areas that could potentially put people at risk.

It’s time to hold the Japanese government and the IOC responsible for their hasty and reckless push to ignore the risks facing displaced citizens, spectators, and athletes and demand that the games be postponed and moved from Fukushima.

These are indeed dark times, where governments and their ties to corporate interests spin truths and make fictions that all of us would like to be real, but sadly money is always at the end of this contaminated rainbow. In the years to come, when the cancer cases mount, these same organizations and governments will pretend they knew nothing. Let’s all remember that.

https://baltimorepostexaminer.com/fukushima-is-not-safe-for-2020-olympics-nuclear-scientists-warn/2019/10/30

November 4, 2019 Posted by | fukushima 2019 | , , | Leave a comment

Warning on Fukushima fallout for Tokyo 2020 Olympians

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International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons co-founder Tilman Ruff.
October 29, 2019
The Australian Olympic Committee has been urged to inform its athletes and team members about the ongoing health effects of the 2011 Fukushima nuclear ­reactor disaster for those attending the 2020 Tokyo Games.
Tilman Ruff, a public health expert who co-founded the Nobel Peace Prize-winning International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN) in Melbourne, said he had written to the AOC to warn that levels of radioactivity in certain areas could be above the recommended maximum permissible exposure level. He said the Japanese Olympic Committee planned to host baseball and softball competitions and part of the torch relay in Fukushima City, 50km away from the ruins of the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant.
In 2011, multiple nuclear meltdowns at the damaged facility caused radioactivity to leak out across Japan and the Pacific.
“It was a catastrophe comparable only to the nuclear meltdown of Chernobyl,” he said. While contamination was not as severe as at Chernobyl, “it was widespread and persists”.
At least 50,000 residents have not yet been able to return to the most affected areas in Fukushima prefecture. “The Japanese government is making a concerted ­effort to present the Fukushima nuclear disaster as over and effectively dealt with in the lead-up to the Olympics. Some of these ­efforts are misleading and should not be accepted at face value,” Dr Ruff said.
He said thyroid cancers had notably increased among young people in Fukushima, with a total of about 200 cases.
He has made several visits to Fukushima since 2011, the latest in May when he provided radiation health advice to the Fukushima prefectural government.
Dr Ruff said he then wrote to the AOC urging it to “properly ­inform and safeguard the best interests of the Australian staff and team, and their accompanying families, especially women who may be pregnant and young children”.
He said short-term visits to areas contaminated by radioactive fallout “now involve low to minimal risk”.
“However, if any (AOC) members or athletes plan to be based in Fukushima or neighbouring contaminated prefectures for weeks or months, they should be informed about the health risks of radiation exposure,” Dr Ruff said.
International physician groups have criticised the Japanese government’s decision shortly after the 2011 disaster to increase the maximum permissible radiation dose for Japanese citizens from one to 20 millisieverts. “Eight years later, it has not reversed that decision,” Dr Ruff said. “No other government in the world has ever accepted such a high level of radiation beyond the immediate emergency phase of a nuclear disaster for its citizens.”
An AOC spokesman said Tokyo 2020 provided regular updates to the IOC regarding the situation. “We have been given assurances that radiation levels in Fukushima City are safe, noting that the IOC Co-ordination Team has made several visits to the region and that ongoing monitoring is conducted independently of the Japanese government,” the spokesman said.

November 4, 2019 Posted by | fukushima 2019 | , , | Leave a comment

Fukushima pushing its radioactive peaches to Southeast Asian neighbors

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Fukushima peaches gain popularity
11th October 2019
Indonesian importer, Laris Manis Utama (LMU), has teamed up with Japanese fresh fruit and vegetable wholesaler, Showa Boeki, in an effort to increase consumption of peaches grown in Japan’s Fukushima Prefecture.
Promotional campaigns during 2018 were effective in introducing consumers to the fruit and encouraged the two companies to further develop the market.
During August to September of 2019, in-store activations were held in 29 stores across Indonesia. 
A key focus of the in-store activations was to educate consumers on the health benefits of the fruit.
In an interview with Asiafruit in September 2019, LMU’s vice director, Hendry Sim, said healthy living is a top priority for Indonesian consumers.
“Indonesians want to eat better and healthier, and fruits are one of the foods that can contribute to good health,” explained Sim.
Although consumer sentiment for the Fukushima Peach is showing positive signs of growth, the reality is peach imports into Indonesia remain low.
In 2018, 202 tonnes of peaches were imported into Indonesia, the majority sourced from Australia (71 tonnes) and the US (61 tonnes).
Apart from Indonesia, the Fukushima peach is also exported to Thailand and Malaysia.

 

October 20, 2019 Posted by | fukushima 2019 | , | Leave a comment

Activists urge Japan to avoid Fukushima in Tokyo Olympics

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Oct 10, 2019
South Korean civic groups on Thursday kicked off a global campaign against potential radiation risks during the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, demanding that Japan ban Fukushima food products and cancel games at the Japanese city.
 
“We launch an international campaign to protect thousands of athletes and visitors at the Tokyo Olympics from radiation risks and to stop the Japanese government from using the Olympics as a tool” to conceal lingering damages from the Fukushima nuclear crisis, the environmental groups told a press briefing in Seoul.
 
Taking part in the initiative are a handful of Korean environmental organizations, consisting of activists and academics, as well as major environmental and anti-nuclear groups based in Germany, Taiwan and the Philippines.
The civic groups demanded the Japanese government and Olympics organizers refrain from providing food produced near Fukushima and cancel games scheduled to be held in the city. They also urged the torch relay to be held in areas outside of Fukushima, which was hit by the nuclear disaster caused by a 2011 earthquake and tsunami.
 
They also claimed that if Japan seeks to misuse Olympic events for a political or commercial purpose, it would goes against the Olympic spirit.
 
The environmental groups said they plan to collect signatures through an online website and hold international conferences to raise awareness on the risks of radiation.
 
Some baseball and softball games are scheduled to take place at Fukushima Azuma Baseball Stadium, according to the Tokyo Organizing Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games website.
 
It also shows that a 121-day torch relay will “commence on March 26, 2020, in Fukushima Prefecture and start its journey southwards” in an aim at “showcasing solidarity with the regions still recovering from the 2011 earthquake and tsunami.” (Yonhap)

October 20, 2019 Posted by | Japan | , , , | Leave a comment