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Dumpling soup from Fukushima like grandma used to make

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“Ganimaki suiton” (front) from Minamisoma, Fukushima Prefecture and “mami suiton” (back) of Naraha.

The Japan Football Village (J-Village) is a soccer training facility located in Naraha, Fukushima Prefecture, where Yoshiteru Nishi, chef for the national soccer team, works.

It is located about 20 kilometers from the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant. After the 2011 accident at the plant, J-Village was used as a base for decommissioning work.

The green grass pitch was covered in gravel and turned into a parking lot. The restaurant was closed.

That summer, Nishi was asked to cook for the decommissioning workers. He had seen the workers eating canned or boil-in-the-bag foods.

“There are people who need my skills,” Nishi thought, and opened a cafeteria at the facility. He served a buffet of fried chicken, grilled fish, simmered dishes and more. He wanted to support those working in a grueling environment with nutritious meals.

Meanwhile, he opened a restaurant in the neighboring town of Hirono, where eating and drinking establishments remained closed due to the nuclear power plant accident.

“I wanted to create a place where the residents returning from evacuation spots can eat warm meals and feel relaxed,” the 54-year-old chef says.

The menu includes “suiton,” a local dumpling soup with chicken and vegetables that was popular at J-Village. Former national team coach Philippe Troussier once commented, “This is grandma’s taste,” and named it “mami suiton” (mommy’s suiton).

Nishi also introduced another version of suiton called “ganimaki,” a local specialty of Minami-Soma.

Ganimaki is a soup of “mokuzu-gani” (Japanese mitten crab) caught in local rivers. They are finely crushed and run through a sieve. When poured into boiling water, the essence floats up in fluffy form. In Minami-Soma, it is a dish served on festive occasions.

When he was small, Nishi would busy himself catching the deep-green-colored crabs in the river. When his mother stir-fried them with eggs, they tasted heavenly.

Due to radiation contamination caused by the Fukushima plant accident, the Japanese mitten crabs of Minami-Soma are not allowed to be consumed.

“I yearn for them all the more,” Nishi says.

For the recipe, he used crabs caught in Iwaki in southern Fukushima Prefecture.

“The food culture of Fukushima has been nurtured by the large number of people who live here,” Nishi says. “I will strive to keep the tradition alive.”

http://www.asahi.com/ajw/articles/AJ201607270008.html

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The Japan Football Village (J-Village) is a soccer training facility located in Naraha, Fukushima Prefecture, where Yoshiteru Nishi, chef for the national soccer team, works.

July 27, 2016 Posted by | Fukushima 2016 | , , , | Leave a comment

Space dose 1.55 micro Sv/h, Koriyama city, park waterside hotspot

Published on Jul 20, 2016 by Birdhairjp

July 16, 2016 (five years & four months from the nuclear disaster)
I monitored radiation around Gohyakubuchi-park of Koriyama city, Fukushima Prefecture, Japan.

Space dose of the height of the chest of the promenade circling the pond, was approximately 0.27 to 0.30 micro sievert per hour.

At the entrance of the park, a sighnboad shows the decontamination result by the city.
Before the decontamination: 2.33 micro Sv/h as of Sep of 2011
After the decontamination: 0.21 micro Sv/h as of Jun of 2016
(Air dose rate 50cm high from the ground level)

My monitor shows space dose 0.47 on the pond-side promenade near a floodgate to the waterway into the woods.

Space dose on the promenade in the park forest is at the height of the breast, was 0.3 to 0.45 micro Sv/h

To the waterside in the forest, there is a hot spot that radioactive material is collected.
Approaching to the place, the value of the dosimeter is jumped.
Space dose of the height of the breast in the hot spots were recorded 1.5-1.9 micro Sv/h.

Measuring instrument that was used during the video shoot, Ukraine made, ECOTEST’s MKS-05.
Koriyama city : population, about 330,000 people.

July 27, 2016 Posted by | Fukushima 2016 | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Fukushima Renewable Future Fund Established to Build Brighter Future

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The Fukushima Renewable Future Fund was established on February 4, 2016, to serve as a repository for donations from both inside and outside Japan to support reconstruction efforts in Fukushima, which was severely affected by the Great East Japan Earthquake (which occurred on March 11, 2011) and the accident at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant that accompanied the quake. The Fund aims to support initiatives in the fields of renewable energy, regional revitalization, and education and welfare, and is led by residents of Fukushima Prefecture trying to help the region recover from the disaster.

The Fund is engaged in two projects. One is a community-based project focusing on reconstruction efforts and future development in Fukushima. This project aims to discover voluntary reconstruction initiatives led by local residents, and to provide them with financial assistance using donations from Japan and abroad.

The other project records and archives memories of the Fukushima nuclear disaster. The project aims to build and operate a memorial hall that will preserve records and memories of the accident. The hall will welcome visitors from Japan and abroad and help to pass on lessons learned from the disaster to future generations.

Three months after the accident, Fukushima residents declared they would create a scenario for the future in which they will pursue sustainable development without depending on nuclear power plants. Originally, Fukushima was a place where residents lived lives emphasizing local history and traditions, showing their gratitude for the abundant blessings of nature, and maintaining warm-hearted ties among people. The Fund aims to revitalize Fukushima in the future while taking pride in the prefecture, as well as to disseminate lessons learned from the Fukushima disaster to the world in an attempt to prevent the tragedy of nuclear accidents from ever happening again here on this earth.

http://www.japanfs.org/en/news/archives/news_id035606.html

July 27, 2016 Posted by | Fukushima 2016 | , , | Leave a comment

Pokemon Will No Longer Appear in Japan’s Nuclear Disaster Site

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Tepco warns Pokémon Go players to avoid nuclear power plants and evacuation errors in pursuit of virtual monsters.

Japan is asking for the Fukushima nuclear exclusion zone to be classified as a no-go area for Pokémon after the discovery of at least one of the game’s characters on a power station’s site.

Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings (Tepco) has requested that Pokémon Go developer Niantic and the Pokémon Company prevent Pokémon appearing in and around areas affected by the nuclear reactor meltdown in Fukushima to help prevent encouraging players to enter dangerous areas.

Tepco said it has tested the Fukushima Daiichi plant, which was partially destroyed by the March 2011 disaster, the nearby Fukushima Daini plant and the Kashiwazaki-Kariwa plant in Niigata Prefecture and found Pokémon on-site.

Japan’s nuclear regulator sent out a warning to national energy providers telling them to tighten security after the incursion of three teenagers into a nuclear power plant in Ohio in the US. Tepco has banned employees from playing Pokémon Go on site.

The Fukushima governor, Masao Uchibori, said that it was not good that people might enter nuclear plants or evacuation zones designated after the nuclear disaster on the hunt for Pokémon and that “the prefectural government will consider how to draw attention to this”.

The city government of Nagasaki has already requested that Niantic remove Pokémon from Nagasaki Peace Park, which is maintained as a memorial to victims of the atomic bombing of the city in 1945. The city has also asked visitors to refrain from playing the game saying that “the Peace Park is a place for prayer”.

Niantic said it would modify the game if the company discovered problems.

Japan, the home of Pokémon, had to wait for weeks after the Pokémon Go’s original launch in Australia, owing to worries about overloaded servers and the commercial agreement with McDonald’s for sponsored Pokéstops.

Since the game’s launch in Japan, reports of minor traffic incidents including that of a Pokémon Go-playing male high school student and a 30-year-old man colliding on a street in Tokyo’s Adachi Ward while riding bicycles.

The Pokémon Go global craze has led South Koreans to flock to a remote region, holocaust museums having to discourage players, naive New Zealanders led to Hell’s Angels clubs and police stations filled with players. It has also caused car accidents, impromptu flash-mobs in the middle of New York streets and people to walk into the sea in pursuit of some of the more rare creatures.

Hiroshi Hase, Japanese minister of education, culture, sports, science and technology, said that global frenzy involving content created in Japan was “gratifying,” but that it’s location-based nature could put gamers and others at risk in certain situations and urged caution.

July 27, 2016 Posted by | Fukushima 2016 | , | Leave a comment

FUKUSHIMA TOXIC SOIL CLEAN UP

CNN’s Paula Hancocks reports from the affected area, and gives a very short and nuanced report from within the exclusion zone in Fukushima prefecture.
The cleanup at Fukushima, the removal of the toxic soil and plants near the meltdown site is a huge task.

July 27, 2016 Posted by | Fukushima 2016 | , , | Leave a comment

Contaminated Bamboo, Iitate, Fukushima

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Bamboo was found to be contaminated by radioactive Cesium in the Komiya marsh of the Iitate village, Fukushima Prefecture.
About 500 / kg of cesium but the Cesium concentrating more in the new leaves.

Incidentally, the soil has 43,000 77,000 / kg of Cesium

https://www.facebook.com/nobuyoshi.itou/posts/1015326065230713

July 27, 2016 Posted by | Fukushima 2016 | , , | Leave a comment

Fukushima banks hope to lure nuclear evacuees back by reopening branches

FUKUSHIMA – Regional banks in Fukushima Prefecture are reopening outlets in radiation-contaminated areas to help lure residents back more than five years after the triple core meltdown at the Fukushima No. 1 power plant laid waste to the region in March 2011.

Residents have been slow to return despite the phased lifting of evacuation orders in cleaned-up areas, so regional banks are eager to play a trailblazing role by allowing residents to use their branches as places to socialize.

Abukuma Shinkin Bank, based in Minamisoma, reopened its Odaka branch there in March 2013 and the branch in the town of Namie on July 12.

The evacuation order for the central part of Namie is expected to be lifted by the end of next March, but there are still structures that collapsed from the March 11, 2011, Great East Japan Earthquake.

We’ll put the light on in the town where people do not live,” said Yoshihiro Ota, president of Abukuma Shinkin, stressing the significance of reopening the Namie branch.

Abukuma Shinkin became the first financial institution to reopen a branch in Namie, which sits next to the town of Futaba, one of the two municipalities that host the crippled Fukushima No. 1 plant, which lost all power after being swamped by tsunami spawned by the temblor. The plant is run by Tokyo Electric Power Co. Holdings Inc.

We hope our branch, where local people can stop by freely and enjoy chatting, will become a place that can console them,” said Takahiro Abe, chief of the Namie branch.

Being the first to reopen a branch in the town will hopefully allow us to attract people and see rises in deposits and loans,” Abe added.

In April, Toho Bank, based in the city of Fukushima, restarted its branch in Naraha, another town close to the Fukushima No. 1 plant.

Although the evacuation order for Naraha was lifted last September, only 8.1 percent of its residents had returned as of July 4.

Financial institutions are indispensable regional infrastructure,” said Hiroshi Yamaka, chief of Toho Bank’s Naraha branch. “Regional banks have a major role to play in helping residents return home.”

But it is not easy to achieve industrial revival in contaminated areas neglected by the long evacuation.

A male business owner who visited Abukuma Shinkin’s Namie branch on the day it reopened said, “The bank told me that they will lend me money, but I can’t decide on new investment because I’m old and there’s no one I can hand over my business to.”

http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2016/07/24/business/fukushima-banks-hope-to-lure-nuclear-evacuees-back-by-reopening-branches/

July 27, 2016 Posted by | Fukushima 2016 | , , , | Leave a comment

960 Bq/kg of Cs-134/137 detected from wild boar in Fukushima

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According to MHLW (Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare), 960 Bq/Kg of Cesium-134/137 was measured from the meat of wild boar in Fukushima.

The sampling date was 6/11/2016. This reading is over 9 times much as food safety limit.

Cs-134 density was 154 Bq/Kg to prove it is contaminated from Fukushima accident.

From this report MHLW released on 7/19/2016, significant density of Cs-134/137 was detected from all of 33 wild boar samples and it exceeded the food safety limit (100 Bq/Kg) in 2/3 samples.

MHLW reports none of these wild boar meat was distributed for sale.

http://www.mhlw.go.jp/file/04-Houdouhappyou-11135000-Shokuhinanzenbu-Kanshianzenka/0000123667_18.pdf

http://fukushima-diary.com/2016/07/960-bqkg-of-cs-134137-detected-from-wild-boar-in-fukushima/

 

July 27, 2016 Posted by | Fukushima 2016 | , , , , | Leave a comment

Surf Contest in Minamisoma, Fukushima

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On July 17, 2012,  they had a national surf contest in Minami Soma city, Fukushima..

In Fukushima, Minami Soma City, after the nuclear accident,  for the first time a  surfing tournament took place.

Competition in Minami Soma after the nuclear accident had been canceled. It was held for the first time in six years.

Before March 2011, Minami Soma was known  as  one of Japan’s leading surfing spots.

The evacuation order having been lifted in most of Minami Soma city, Minami Soma city aimed to boost its reconstruction by reviving its surf contest on its Kitaizumi coast.

200 participants from all over Japan came to engage in that surf contest.

http://sharetube.jp/article/3638/

July 27, 2016 Posted by | Japan | , , , , | Leave a comment

There’s no end to Fukushima crisis while melted fuel remains

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Fukushima Governor Masao Uchibori, left, speaks with Vice Industry Minister Yosuke Takagi

A massive concrete structure encases the wrecked No. 4 reactor at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant, site of the catastrophic 1986 accident.

Dubbed the “sarcophagus,” it was erected to contain the fuel that could not be extracted from the crippled reactor.

I never expected this word (“sekkan” in Japanese) to crop up in connection with the 2011 Fukushima nuclear crisis.

Local governments raised objections to the use of this word in a report compiled by a government organ that supports the decommissioning of the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant.

While the report discusses the extraction of melted fuel as a requirement, it is written in such a way as to suggest that the construction of a sarcophagus is an option that should not be dismissed out of hand.

This outraged the governor of Fukushima, Masao Uchibori, who lashed out, “Containing (the melted fuel) in a sarcophagus spells giving up hope for post-disaster reconstruction and for returning home.”

The government organ has since deleted the word from the report, admitting that it was misleading and that constructing a sarcophagus is not under consideration.

The report lacked any consideration for the feelings of local citizens. But more to the point, just deleting the word does not settle this case.

Even though five years have passed since the disaster, nothing has been decided yet on how to extract the melted fuel. How, then, can anyone guarantee that the fuel will never be “entombed”?

I am reminded anew of the sheer difficulty of decommissioning nuclear reactors. The Fukushima edition of The Asahi Shimbun runs a weekly report on the work being done at the Fukushima No. 1 plant.

The report portrays the harsh realities at the site, such as leaks of contaminated water and accidents involving workers. Efforts to decommission the crippled reactors continue day after day, but the task is expected to take several decades.

Elsewhere in Japan, the rule that requires nuclear reactors to be decommissioned after 40 years is becoming toothless, and preparations are proceeding steadily for restarting reactors that have remained offline.

“Normalcy” appears to be returning, but there is a huge gap between that and the unending hardships in the disaster-affected areas.

http://www.asahi.com/ajw/articles/AJ201607230013.html

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

Radiation levels in seabed off Fukushima ‘100s of times’ higher than prior to disaster – Greenpeace

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A man walks at the empty Yotsukura municipal beach in Iwaki, about 40 km (25 miles) south of the tsunami-crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, Fukushima

The amount of radioactive substances in seabed off Fukushima is hundreds of times higher than before the disaster, a report issued by Greenpeace reveals. The figures mean that there is absolutely “no return to normal after nuclear catastrophe” in the area.

On Thursday, the environmental group released a report addressing the results of the study during which scientists analyzed radioactivity levels along Fukushima’s rivers and in the Pacific seabed off the coast.

These river samples were taken in areas where the [Prime Minister Shinzo] Abe government is stating it is safe for people to live. But the results show there is no return to normal after this nuclear catastrophe,”said Ai Kashiwagi, Energy Campaigner at Greenpeace Japan.

The report showed there is hundreds of times more radioactive substances in the seabed off Fukushima coast than there was prior to 2011. It also stated that the level of hazardous materials along local rivers is 200 times higher compared to the Pacific Ocean seabed.

The extremely high levels of radioactivity we found along the river systems highlights the enormity and longevity of both the environmental contamination and the public health risks resulting from the Fukushima disaster,” Kashiwagi said.

The vast territories including contaminated forests and freshwater systems “will remain a perennial source of radioactivity for the foreseeable future,” scientists warned in the press release.

They analyzed the level of radioactive materials, such as Cesium-134 and Cesium-137 (Cs-137), noting a colossal increase in the figures.

While the amount of Cs-137 in seabed near the Fukushima plant was only 0.26 Bq/kg prior to the nuclear disaster, the current number stands at 120 Bq/kg, the report showed. On the whole, the data showed that Cs will pose a threat to human health for hundreds of years to come.

The radiation levels in the sediment off the coast of Fukushima are low compared to land contamination, which is what we expected and consistent with other research,” said Kendra Ulrich, senior global energy campaigner at Greenpeace Japan.

The current site of the destroyed plant “remains one of the greatest nuclear threats” to Fukushima communities and the Pacific Ocean, the group said.

The hundreds of thousands of tonnes of highly-contaminated water, the apparent failure of the ice wall to reduce groundwater contamination, and the unprecedented challenge of three molten reactor cores all add up to a nuclear crisis that is far from over,” said Ulrich.

Greenpeace also warned against the government’s decision to lift a number of evacuation orders around the Fukushima plant by March 2017.

The Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster, the largest since the 1986 Chernobyl disaster, took place in March 2011 and resulted in three nuclear meltdowns and a leak of radioactive materials. The accident prompted a nationwide shutdown of all nuclear power plants in Japan with Sendai being the first to start working again, in August 2015.

https://www.rt.com/news/352628-fukushima-radiation-seabed-greenpeace/

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

Greenpeace reports jump in radioactive contamination in Fukushima waterways

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Greenpeace Japan member Mai Suzuki removes sediment samples from a remotely operated grabber at Lake Biwa in Shiga Prefecture on March 22.

OSAKA – Greenpeace Japan on Thursday said it has discovered radioactive contamination in Fukushima’s riverbanks, estuaries and coastal waters at a scale hundreds of times higher than pre-2011 levels.

One sample of sediment taken along the Niida River, less than 30 km northwest of the crippled Fukushima No. 1 power plant, revealed the presence of cesium-134 and cesium-137 at levels of 29,800 becquerels per kilogram.

That was just one of 19 samples of dried sediment and soil the environmental activist group took and analyzed from the banks of the Abukuma, Niida, and Ota rivers. The samples were collected by Greenpeace in February and March.

All of the samples but one exhibited more than 1,000 Bq/kg of radioactive material. The lowest level, 309 Bq/kg, was logged at a spot along the Abukuma River.

Cesium-134 has a half-life of about two years, but cesium-137 has a half-life of 30 years and is considered particularly hazardous. The standard limits set for radioactive cesium in Japan are 100 Bq/kg for general foods and 10 Bq/kg for drinking water.

The radiological impacts of the Fukushima nuclear disaster on the marine environment, with consequences for both human and nonhuman health, are not only the first years. They are both ongoing and future threats, principally the continued releases from the Fukushima No. 1 plant itself and translocation of land-based contamination throughout Fukushima Prefecture, including upland forests, rivers, lakes and coastal estuaries,” the report said.

Greenpeace Japan also published the results of tests on dried marine sediment samples collected at 25 points off the Fukushima coastal area, including three river estuaries, during this same period, at depths of between 7.4 and 30.6 meters. The results showed that the highest level of cesium was 144 Bq/kg taken from a sample collected off the coast from the Fukushima power plant, while the lowest total cesium figure was 6.5 Bq/kg off Nakanosaku, well to the south of the plant.

In addition to Fukushima, Greenpeace Japan took dried sediment samples from Lake Biwa at three locations near the shore. The results showed cesium levels to be between 7.1 Bq/kg and 13 Bq/kg at two locations, and negligible at the other two.

The safety of Lake Biwa, which provides drinking water for about 14 million people in the Kansai region, has become a major bone of contention between Kansai Electric Power Co., which wants to restart reactors in neighboring Fukui Prefecture, and residents in and around Lake Biwa who are fighting to keep them shut down.

http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2016/07/21/national/greenpeace-reports-jump-radioactive-contamination-fukushima-waterways/

July 21, 2016 Posted by | Fukushima 2016 | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Fukushima residents need time in deciding on their futures

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The central government lifted an evacuation order for the southern part of Minami-Soma, Fukushima Prefecture, on July 12 for the first time since the massive earthquake and tsunami triggered a devastating accident at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant in March 2011.

It marks the sixth time that evacuation orders have been lifted for locales in Fukushima Prefecture, following such municipalities as Naraha and Katsurao. The number of local residents affected by the latest move is more than 10,000, higher than in any previous instance.

Residents of such municipalities in the prefecture as Iitate, Tomioka and Namie have yet to be allowed to return to their homes. But the central government plans to lift evacuation orders on all areas of the prefecture excluding “difficult-to-return zones,” where levels of radiation remain dangerously high, by March 2017.

The longer people in disaster-affected areas live as evacuees, the more difficult it becomes for them to rebuild their lives.

The lifting of an evacuation order based on the progress that has been made in decontaminating polluted areas and restoring damaged infrastructure will give local residents an opportunity for a fresh start. In Minami-Soma, residents who have been hoping to restart their former lives have already returned to their homes. Various organizations are expanding their activities in the city to help rebuild the local communities.

In previous cases, however, only 10 to 20 percent of the residents said they would immediately return to where they lived before the catastrophic accident occurred.

In addition to residents who have decided to move to other parts of the nation, there are also many people who find it difficult to return home for the time being due to reasons related to employment, education, nursing care and other factors. Some people want to wait a while longer to see how their communities will be revived.

Sooner or later, all evacuees will face the choice of returning or migrating.

For both groups, measures to support their efforts to rebuild their livelihoods should be worked out. But support should also be provided to people who cannot make up their minds yet.

A situation where evacuees are under strong pressure to make their decisions quickly should be avoided.

Take the issue of compensation paid to local residents in affected areas, for example. Tokyo Electric Power Co., the operator of the crippled Fukushima nuclear plant, is paying 100,000 yen ($945) of compensation per month to each of the people affected. But the utility’s cash payments are scheduled to be terminated in March 2018.

A time limit has also been set for the company’s compensation to people who have seen their incomes fall or disappear in the aftermath of the disaster.

Excessive dependence on compensation could hamper the efforts of evacuees to restart their lives.

But there are people who have no prospects of returning to their lives before the accident and therefore have no choice but to depend entirely on a monthly payment from the utility.

A way should be found to keep compensating those who really need the money for a certain period after evacuation orders are lifted, according to the circumstances of individual evacuees.

One idea worth serious consideration is the establishment by lawyers and other experts of a neutral organization to assess the circumstances of evacuees for this purpose. This is an approach modeled on the standard procedures for out-of-court dispute settlements.

The concept of “residents” should also be reconsidered. There are many evacuees who have decided to move to other areas but still wish to maintain their hometown ties. These people say they want to return home someday or to get involved in rebuilding their communities in some way.

Scholars have offered ideas to respect their wishes. One would allow them to have a dual certificate of residence for both their previous and current addresses. Another would permit them to become involved in the efforts to rebuild their hometowns while living in other areas.

These ideas can be useful not just for the reconstruction of disaster-stricken areas but also for the revitalization of depopulated rural areas around the nation.

Reviving communities that have been ravaged by the nuclear disaster will inevitably be an unprecedented and long-term process, which requires flexible thinking.

http://www.asahi.com/ajw/articles/AJ201607190028.html

July 19, 2016 Posted by | Fukushima 2016 | , , , , | Leave a comment

Fukushima Radioactive Feces of Mouse

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Feces of the mouse: Tomioka city, near crippled Fukushima Nuclear power station.

 Cs-134:11917 Bq/kg
 Cs-137:63557 Bq/kg
 Total:75474 Bq/kg

http://www.autoradiograph.org/info/%e6%94%be%e5%b0%84%e8%83%bd%e6%b8%ac%e5%ae%9a%e7%b5%90%e6%9e%9c%ef%bc%9a%e3%81%ad%e3%81%9a%e3%81%bf%e3%81%ae%e7%b3%9e%ef%bc%88%e5%af%8c%e5%b2%a1%e7%94%ba%ef%bc%89/

 

July 19, 2016 Posted by | Fukushima 2016 | , , | Leave a comment

Japan: Returning home after Fukushima nuclear disaster

Minamisoma returnees keen to rebuild lives after lifting of evacuation order for first time since 2011 nuclear disaster.

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Around 20 percent of Minamisoma’s residents decided to come back

Fukushima, Japan – This week, authorities lifted an evacuation order for nearly all parts of Minamisoma city, Fukushima prefecture, allowing more than 10,000 people to return to their homes for the first time since 2011’s nuclear disaster.

Tens of thousands of people across the prefecture had to abruptly leave their homes five years ago after a devastating earthquake and tsunami in Japan’s northeast wrecked the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant.

The lifting of the evacuation order marked the largest number of people allowed back into their hometown – yet only around an estimated 20 percent of Minamisoma’s 10,807 residents in 3,487 households decided to come back.

Since 2014, the government has been gradually lifting up evacuation orders within a 20km radius of the nuclear power plant, following the progress of some clean-up efforts.

Our team drove to Minamisoma from Tokyo along the country’s northeastern coast.

It was not difficult to spot the on-going clean-up efforts.

A great number of big contaminated waste disposal bags were piled up at temporary holding areas on fields across Fukushima prefecture.

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Some holding areas were massive in size, occupying huge chunk of the fields, with a string of trucks constantly dropping off black bags.

Roads into contaminated towns were still blocked by big barricades, and checkpoints were put in place to only allow people with a special permit to enter.

As we drove past contaminated areas, the reading on our Geiger counter, which measures the level of radiation, would from time to time jump above usual levels, reaching as high as 3μSv/h – the government’s long-term reduction goal for areas within a 20km radius of the nuclear power plant stands at 0.23μSv/h.

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Passing through the still largely empty, yet seemingly peaceful streets of Minamisoma, we arrived at the Odaka station in the city’s Odaka district.

Although the train service had been resumed for the first time in more than five years on the 9.4km stretch between Odaka and Haranomachi station, only a handful of passengers were seen during the day.

Trains arrived and departed, largely empty.

What caught my attention was a large screen in front of the station, showing radiation levels in real time.

The reading was 0.142μSv/h, which was higher than 0.06μSv/h in Tokyo – but still below the 0.23μSv/h government goal.

Such screens were set up across the city to assuage the public’s lingering concerns over radiation contamination.

Over the past few years, a growing number of Minamisoma residents settled somewhere else, worried over the potential long-term health effects of a return back home.

However, people who did decide to come back were trying their best to ensure that life in their hometown, albeit slowly, returned to normal.

About a three-minute walk distance from the station, we spotted around 30 young students and residents.

Preparations were under way by a number of local organisations to celebrate the opening of a community centre in a makeshift building, where residents could freely come and talk about their life back in hometown.

An old lady asked passers-by to take a seat as she served local food. Young students were hanging out withtheir friends, doing hula hoop and blowing bubbles.

Many of the returnees told us that despite the uncertainties and doubts, they hoped to restore a sense of community – and thus prove to friends and families who were having second thoughts about coming back that it was worth returning home.

“Although we cannot bring back Odaka to what it used to be before the disaster, as residents here, we want to bring back its spirit and the community,” Yoshiki Konno, a local resident and the head of an NGO, told.

“That is the most important thing we must do.”

http://www.aljazeera.com/blogs/asia/2016/07/japan-returning-home-fukushima-nuclear-disaster-160717182129794.html

July 18, 2016 Posted by | Fukushima 2016 | , , | Leave a comment

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