The Japanese government is set to lift evacuation orders in heavily contaminated areas around Fukushima. It will cut compensation and housing support to survivors, who are still struggling six years later.
Their basic rights to health, housing, and environment are being violated. The government is desperately trying to minimize the disaster at the expense of survivors in an attempt to revive the dying nuclear industry and suffocate other cleaner energy sources. We must say no!
Greenpeace has just published report on the Fukushima disaster entitled “No return to normal”. They made a study of the potential doses of the inhabitants who would return to the evacuated areas, with a focus on Iitate-mura. http://www.greenpeace.org/japan/Global/japan/pdf/NRN_FINweb4.pdf
The report is based on many on-site measurements and makes lifetime dose assessments. It should be noted that the samples were taken by the citizen laboratory Chikurin, founded with the support of the ACRO. http://chikurin.org/
The authorities planned to lift the evacuation order at the end of March in Iitaté-mura, except in areas classified as difficult return zones, as well as in the Yamakiya district of Kawamata. Compensation will stop within one year. This concerns more than 6,000 people in Iitate who are facing a dilemma, as in all the other contaminated territories.
Greenpeace recalls that decontamination concerns only areas close to dwellings and cultivated fields and that forest covers 75% of this mountainous area. Even in areas where decontamination work has been carried out, the doses remain high. Greenpeace carried out measurements of soil contamination and dose in 7 dwellings to estimate the exposure for people who would return. This varies between 39 and 183 mSv over 70 years from March 2017. This may exceed the limit of 1 mSv / year which is the dose limit in normal time and the total dose of 100 mSv from which the Japanese authorities admit that there is an increased risk of cancer. The doses taken at the beginning of the disaster are not taken into account in this calculation.
In its calculations, the government estimates that the dose rate is reduced by 60% in homes due to the screening effect of the walls. But the measurements made by Greenpeace in a house show that the reduction in exposure is not as strong.
Translation Hervé Courtois
Black bags containing radioactively contaminated soil are seen piled up at a temporary storage site in Minamisoma, Fukushima Prefecture, in this June 2016 file photo. (Mainichi)
The radiation limit for soil contaminated by the Fukushima nuclear disaster in an experiment to reuse it in construction was lowered from 8,000 becquerels per kilogram to 3,000 becquerels per kilogram after strong opposition from a local mayor, it has been learned.
The experiment is to be carried out at a temporary storage site in Minamisoma, Fukushima Prefecture, where around 1,000 bags of contaminated soil will be opened, made into construction foundations, and their radiation levels measured. The experiment will be done to check, among other things, whether the radiation exposure dose remains at the yearly limit of 1 millisievert or less. The experiment will cost around 500 million yen. The results are expected to be put together next fiscal year or later.
From soon after the Great East Japan Earthquake in 2011, municipalities including Minamisoma asked the national government to separate out lower-radiation level concrete and other debris for reuse in things like groundwork for coastal forests used to defend against tsunami. At first, the Ministry of the Environment was negative about this, but in December 2011 the ministry allowed such reuse for debris with a limit of 3,000 becquerels per kilogram. According to documents released in response to a release of information request made by the Mainichi Shimbun, some 350,000 metric tons of this kind of debris have been used in Minamisoma and the towns of Namie and Naraha in projects such as groundwork for coastal forests.
Then in June last year, the Ministry of the Environment decided on a policy of reusing contaminated soil with 8,000 becquerels or less per kilogram in structures such as soil foundations for public works projects.
The same month, Minamisoma’s Mayor Katsunobu Sakurai visited then vice-minister of the environment Soichiro Seki, where he questioned Seki about the 3,000 becquerel limit that had been used until being replaced by the 8,000 becquerel limit. Sakurai reportedly called for the 3,000 becquerel limit to be used in the upcoming experiment in Minamisoma.
Sakurai says, “If they don’t use the 3,000 becquerel limit it is inconsistent. It doesn’t make sense for a ministry that is supposed to protect the environment to relax the standards it has set.”
The ministry confirmed to the Mainichi Shimbun that the experiment will only use soil up to the 3,000 becquerel limit, and said that the soil used will on average contain about 2,000 becquerels per kilogram.
Six years after the Fukushima disaster, local government is working with private firms in one Japanese city to rebuild its economy
Tomatoes growing in Japan’s Wonder Farm as part of Iwaki City’s reconstruction efforts after the 2011 earthquake and tsunami.
It’s a cold January day in Iwaki City, 211km north of Tokyo. But here, in a balmy glasshouse, light and sunny, pop music is being piped in, and tonnes of tomatoes are ripening and being picked.
They’re not in the ground; they’re being grown from waist-high pots of coconut matting. These are no ordinary tomatoes. They are growing on Wonder Farm, an “integrated agricultural theme park”, run by Tomato Land Iwaki, which is part-funded by the local city council and the Fukushima prefecture.
But another of the Wonder Farm partners is train firm Japan Rail East, which sells the tomatoes via its own restaurants. Because these small red fruits are part of plans by the local city government and local businesses to reinvigorate the local Iwaki economy after the devastating impact of the March 2011 earthquake, tsunami and nuclear disaster at the Fukushima Daiichi reactor, a mere 50km up the coast.
After such a cataclysmic series of events, rebuilding an economy based on fishing, agriculture and tourism is not easy. It requires some innovative thinking. Luckily, that’s something with which this area is already familiar. Fifty years ago, another of its industries, coal mining, faced decline. Here in Iwaki City, the Joban coal mining company came up with a novel idea. It retrained coal miners’ daughters as hula dancers and created the Spa Resort Hawaiians, Japan’s first theme park, which from its opening in 1966 until the events of March 2011, attracted thousands of visitors a year to its array of pleasures, including golf, a huge swimming pool and hot springs centre, and, of course, hula dancing and fire knife displays.
“We were driven by the need to survive,” explains Yukio Sakamoto, a director at the Joban coal mining company. “Yes, it was a radical change, but it was a success because everyone in the company focused on the plan. It wasn’t about knowledge or expertise, but mindset.” The idea faced considerable opposition: “People said coal miners should just dig coal. But we trained the daughters of coal miners as professional dancers.”
That kind of ingenuity has been called for even more since 2011 in this part of Japan. It’s been hard work for everyone involved to try and get visitors back to the region and to restart the market for local food and produce. The city government has worked with regional and national bodies to measure radioactivity levels in local produce, and the figures are publicly available. But rebuilding trust that food from Fukushima is safe has been slow. The local fish market may be open, but almost all its stock is from elsewhere in the country.
Still, at least it is open and Senzaka Yoshio, one of the officers at the La Mew Mew fish market, which was badly damaged by the earthquake and tsunami, says visitor levels are now back up to 80% of the pre-disaster days.
Further along the quay from the fish market are more fish. Live ones, this time, in the spacious tanks of the Fukushima Aquarium. When the tsunami hit, this aquarium lost 90% of its creatures. It reopened just four months later, in July 2011, a feat possible, according to executive director Yoshitaka Abe, due to teamwork, local leadership and co-operation with other aquarium authorities, who sent specialists and volunteers to help with the reconstruction work.
The Fukushima aquarium, which reopened just four months after the tsunami of March 2011.
For Sakamoto, at the Spa Resort Hawaiians, overcoming the 2011 disaster has been about local people. The resort has brought more than 9,500 jobs to the area. On the day of the earthquake, there were 617 guests in the hotel. All got safely home. But many employees lost family members and homes. “We continue our operation thinking about the people who suffered,” he says. “Our main idea was not to fire people because of the difficulty in the business, but to redeploy them.”
This short article is dedicated to a pro-nuke troll, whose alias is Octo.
Octo, should I indulge the reader, is usually present at the chat of the “Fukushima Diary” blog. He enjoys pushing his propaganda of how nuke is safe.
How Tepco is doing a terrific job at Fukushima Daiichi and is in total safety control of everything.
How radiation is now very low in Fukushima How the fish and seafood is now safe etc.
Everyone is believing his crap *cough*, but he, like all of the other bewildered, confused and baffled Japanese *experts? never gives up.
Watching this video, I am thinking about him and his continuous lies, and also all those other Japanese pro-nuke trolls that I encountered on internet in the past few years.
This video was shot last November 2016 South of Soma, it is the mountain trail to reach the Tetsuzan dam, a place approximately 20km from the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant.
I think all those disinformation spinners paid by Tepco, Dentsu or Government, whose job is to spread lies about the Fukushima disaster on blogs, forums and Facebook, should all go living up there, as they claim it is now completely safe.
They should breath the good air from Fukushima, eat everyday very safe Fukushima rice and vegetables, and of course eat also plenty of safe fish and seafood, and drink plenty Fukushima safe water.
I would give them only one word of advice :
“Don’t forget to smile,
Smile a lot everywhere and everyday, so that the radiation won’t affect you.”
Special credit to the Fukuichi Citizen Radiation Monitoring Project
Every time I read something about the Fukushima disaster my blood pressure rises.
For example, recent efforts to represent (hypothesized) remnants of melted fuel rods in unit 2 as evidence of containment is revealed as misleading when one considers the size of the reactor (larger than a bus) and the amount of fuel contained within unit 2’s:
Justin McCurry January 30, 2017, Possible nuclear fuel find raises hopes of Fukushima plant breakthrough. The Guardian, https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2017/jan/31/possible-nuclear-fuel-find-fukushima-plant
Operator says it has seen what may be fuel debris beneath badly damaged No 2 reactor, destroyed six years ago in triple meltdown
Hopes have been raised for a breakthrough in the decommissioning of the wrecked Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant after its operator said it may have discovered melted fuel beneath a reactor, almost six years after the plant suffered a triple meltdown.
Tokyo Electric Power (Tepco) said on Monday that a remote camera appeared to have found the debris beneath the badly damaged No 2 reactor, where radiation levels remain dangerously high. Locating the fuel is the first step towards removing it. The operator said more analysis would be needed before it could confirm that the images were of melted uranium fuel rods, but confirmed that the lumps were not there before Fukushima Daiichi was hit by a powerful earthquake and tsunami on 11 March 2011.
The amount of fuel contained of fuel in those reactors was substantial. If TEPCO had found all, or most, of the melted reactor fuel they would know it.
According to a November 16 report by Tepco titled, ‘Integrity Inspection of Dry Storage Casks and Spent Fuel at Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station,’[i] as of March 2010 the Daini site held 1,060 tons of spent uranium fuel. The total spent uranium fuel inventory at Daiichi in March 2010 was reported as 1,760 tons. The 2010 report asserts that approximately 700 spent fuel assemblies are generated every year.[ii] The report specifies that Daiichi’s 3,450 assemblies are stored in each of the six reactor’s spent fuel pools. The common spent fuel pool contains 6291 assemblies. The amount of MOX fuel stored at the plant has not been reported.
I suspect that TEPCO knows that most of the fuel is gone from unit 2’s reactor containment and that what remains is a fraction of the total load, which was either dispersed in the explosions or has left the building.
But what bothers me even more than obfuscation around missing fuel are misleading accounts of radiation exposure.
Case in point: The article published in CNBC below last week alleges that Fukushima radiation exposure was “far lower” than previously found:
Robert Ferris. Jan 24, 2017. Fukushima radiation levels far lower than previously thought, study finds. CNBC.Com, http://www.cnbc.com/2017/01/24/fukushima-radiation-levels-far-lower-than-previously-thought-study-finds.html
Radiation levels remaining from the 2011 disaster at Japan’s Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant appear to be a small fraction of what previous measurements suggested, according to a recently published study that followed levels in tens of thousands of people living near the site of the accident.
Science magazine highlighted the research Monday, calling it the first study to measure individual radiation levels in locals following a major nuclear disaster. The study was published in the peer reviewed Journal of Radiological Protection in December.
I’ve seen this type of headline before so I was immediately suspicious. I pulled up the journal article and found a glaring issue that problematizes the validity of this conclusion that radiation levels were lower than previously calculated.
Here is the glaring issue ignored in the CNBC’s optimistic headline: The radiation monitoring badges were provided to residents in August of 2011. The disaster and radiation exposure began March 11, 2011.
Consequently, RESIDENTS WERE NOT GIVEN BADGES TO MEASURE EXPOSURE UNTIL FULLY 5 MONTHS AFTER exposure, a fact that is acknowledged in the title of the research article but ignored in the news coverage:
Makoto Miyazaki and Ryugo Hayano. 2017. Individual external dose monitoring of alltizens of Date City by passive dosimeter 5 to 51 months after the FukushimaNPP accident (series): 1. Comparison of individual dose with ambient dose rate monitored by aircraft surveys. J. Radiol. Prot. 37 1(http://iopscience.iop.org/0952-4746/37/1/1) http://iopscience.iop.org/article/10.1088/1361-6498/37/1/1/pdf
For the measurement of individual external doses, Date City distributed individual dosim-eters (radio-photoluminescence (RPL) glass dosimeters: Glass Badge) to kindergarten-, elementary- and junior high school-children in August 2011. The target group was subsequently enlarged as the production capacity of the supplier increased, and the measurements are still ongoing
How is it possible to conclude that exposure was lower than previously thought when the evidence for that claim is generated from a study that excludes the first 5 months of exposure?
Truth has an especially slippery feel when it comes to Fukushima….
[i] It is worth noting that although this report was produced on 10/26/2010, the file properties indicate the document was modified on 3/13/2011: Integrity Inspection of Dry Storage Casks and Spent Fuels at Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station (16 November 2010), http://www.nirs.org/reactorwatch/accidents/6-1_powerpoint.pdf
[ii] Integrity Inspection of Dry Storage Cask.
Reconstruction Minister Masahiro Imamura addresses an official conference on the reconstruction and rebuilding of Fukushima Prefecture in Fukushima city on Jan. 28.
FUKUSHIMA–Using marathon analogies, opinions on the current state of Fukushima Prefecture almost six years after the 2011 nuclear accident were running far apart between a national minister and local officials at a conference here to discuss the recovery process.
“If this is a marathon, Fukushima’s recovery is 30 kilometers into the race,” said Reconstruction Minister Masahiro Imamura at the beginning of the conference on reconstruction of quake damage and rebuilding in the prefecture on Jan. 28. “Now, we have come to the crunch.”
A disgruntled Fukushima Governor Masao Uchibori refuted Imamura’s optimistic analogy when he was interviewed by reporters after the conference’s close.
“Some regions in the designated evacuation zones are not even at the starting line,” said Uchibori. “Even in the areas where the designation is already lifted, recovery has only just begun.”
The evacuation order in most of the surrounding area of the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant is scheduled to be lifted at the end of March, apart from some “difficult-to-return zones” where radiation readings remain high.
The affected municipal governments are concerned that the central government’s understanding of areas affected by the 2011 disaster has been fading as the sixth anniversary approaches in March.
Aside from the opening, the conference, chaired by Imamura, was closed to the media.
According to one attendee, Imamura told conference delegates that he put “Fukushima first.”
Aping the catchphrase style of U.S. President Donald Trump and Tokyo Governor Yuriko Koike, Imamura apparently meant he prioritizes the recovery of the disaster-hit area of Fukushima Prefecture, but his choice of words failed to impress local officials.
The head of one municipal government said: “It is not a very good catchphrase to use here as it reminds us of the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant.”
“I would like him to be more sensitive about expressions he uses,” another complained.
FUKUSHIMA (Kyodo) — Only 13 percent of the evacuees from the 2011 Fukushima nuclear disaster in five municipalities in Fukushima Prefecture have returned home after evacuation orders were lifted, local authorities said Saturday.
Some residents who used to live in the cities of Tamura and Minamisoma, villages of Kawauchi and Katsurao, and the town of Naraha may be reluctant to return to their homes due to fear of exposing children to radiation, the authorities said.
The evacuation orders to residents in those municipalities were lifted partly or entirely from April 2014 through July 2016. As of January, about 2,500 people out of a combined population of around 19,460 registered as residents of those areas were living there.
Evacuation orders for four more towns and villages in Fukushima Prefecture are scheduled to be lifted this spring, but it is uncertain how many residents will return to those areas as well.
In the prefecture, eight municipalities are still subject to evacuation orders around the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant due to high radiation levels. Three nuclear reactors at the plant melted down and the structures housing them were severely damaged by hydrogen gas explosions days after a massive earthquake and ensuing tsunami on March 11, 2011 knocked out electric power needed to run critical reactor cooling equipment.
I am sharing here with you a sample of Japanese Government propaganda, a video about Fukushima, claiming that everything is now fine.
By watching this propaganda video, you can imagine, you will get an idea of the intensity of propaganda that the Japanese government is subjecting its people with, thru all the government controlled mainstream media, claiming that all is very safely and controlled for everyone’s safety by a safety conscious government absolutely caring for its people safety. Nice, isn’t it?
Propaganda from PM Abe’s government forcefully pushing innocent victims back to live in highly contaminated areas, trying to make believe all is ok just in time for the coming 2020 Olympics. Like when they previously sent children to clean off radiation off route 6 just for propaganda’s sake !
Amazing, Chernobyl is still horribly contaminated after over 30 years, but Fukushima radiation is the new self cleaning kind that just vanishes after 5 years? And that while there are ongoing reactions that are still completely uncontained.
Well isn’t that special. What a load of crap ! How stupid do they think we are to buy this crap?
From what I’ve seen, people should not even be living in certain parts of Tokyo and its vicinity.
I despise with much passion all the ETHOS scoundrels and all those Japanese government criminals. Shame on you. Your pride and your denial will be your downfall.
Long live Fukushima , Long live the Children of Fukushima!
Japan’s Fukushima Prefecture has been making tremendous progress in its revitalization since the 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake.
The area continues to undergo recovery efforts, residents are returning to their everyday lives, and food from Fukushima is being enjoyed all over Japan under strict safety regulations.
The March 2011Great East Japan Earthquake caused an enormous tsunami that overwhelmed the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station.
A continuous water injection cooling system has now stabilized the plant’s reactors and reduced radiation emissions dramatically.
Food grown in Fukushima…
… is widely available and popular across Japan.
All food produced in Fukushima must first pass a test for radiation to be sold on the market.
The standards set by the Japanese government are much stricter than the international standards.
Thanks to these rigorous safety standards, Fukushima rice is enjoyed throughout Japan.
A joint research project was conducted in 2014 by high school students in Fukushima and overseas under the supervision of experts.
The survey found that the radiation exposure levels of students in Fukushima were almost the same as in Europe.
The total area of Fukushima prefecture subject to evacuation orders has been progressively reduced since 2014, as decontamination efforts have lowered radiation to safe levels,
allowing people to return to their homes.
A lot of work still has to be done before the area fully recovers,
but every day we are making progress toward a brighter future.
Watch this new video to learn more:
Japan – The Government of Japan Facebook page
A residential area of namie-Cho, Namie-Cho, radiation measured 1.3μSv/h at 1 meter above ground and 16μSv/h at ground level
As Japan is trying desperately to use any tactics and resources such as “the cult like” ETHOS to incite refugees to return to their radioactive land, just in time to display the reconstruction of Fukushima to dumb tourists who will visit the prefecture during the next Tokyo Olympics, the reality of things with a Geiger counter and willing citizens paints a total different picture.
This is in Namie cho, a residential district in Fukushima.
What tourist won’t see while traveling Fukushima:
– Tons of highly radioactive waste buried hastily under the grounds of school grounds or abandonned at random on forests or radioactive ash poured into rivers.
– Tons of radioactive waste being burned across incinerators in Japan, spraying dangerous isotopes all over – continuously for the past 4 years.
– Children cleaning up roads of radiation so close to Daiichi – most with no real protection.
– Daiichi sinking, leaking, spewing radiation for 5 years into the ground, the air, rivers and the ocean.
– Contaminated food cleverly being distributed, mislabeled, mixed with non contaminated produces to lower the amount of bequerels and served to children in Japan.
– The discrimination within the prefecture between victims over beliefs or aid money (which no one will soon be able to have access to) and non victims.
– The fear of mothers over their children’s health and future.
Enjoy your Olympics !
Special credits to Oz Yo and Nelson Surjon
On January 21, 21, those radiation measures were all taken from one meter above the ground.
At the bottom right one is 6.54μSv/h (underlined red on the map)
The highest radiation measure taken is 7.48μSv/h (underlined red on the map)
Special credits to Oz Yo
These measures are not coming from government radiation monitors but from Oz Yo, a citizen himself taking measures with his own device.
Adopted model for him and his team monitoring project. https://www.facebook.com/fukuichi.mp/?hc_location=ufi
Relatively little research has been conducted on animal life in Japan and its coastal waters after the Fukushima Daiichi disaster but anomalies have already been identified.
One study found a marked decline in bird abundance in Fukushima.[i]
Spiders, grasshoppers, dragonflies, butterflies, bumblebees and cicadas also suffered population declines since the accident.[ii]
Another study found cesium contamination in Japanese macaques, ranging across time from a high of 25,000 Becquerels per kilogram in 2011 to 2,000 in 2012.[iii]
Yet another study published in 2015 found chromosomal malformations in wild mice caught in Fukushima Prefecture, with young mice more adversely impacted than older mice.[iv]
Research conducted by Japan’s National Institute of Radiological Sciences on fir trees near the Fukushima Daiichi plant found significant increases in morphological defects corresponding to radiation exposure doses.[v]
Taken together, these studies point to increased biological risks for flora and fauna living in radiation contaminated zones.
[i] A. Moller, A. Hagiwara, S. Matsui, S. Kasahara, K. Kawatsu, I. Nishiumi, H. Suzuki, K. Ueda, T. and A. Mousseau (2012) ‘Abundance of Birds in Fukushima as Judged from Chernobyl’, Environmental Pollution, 164, 36–39.
[ii] A. Moller, I. Nishiumi, H. Suzuki, K. Ueda, T. A. Mousseau (2013) ‘Differences in Effects of Radiation of Animals in Fukushima and Chernobyl’, Ecological Indicators, 24, 75–81.
[iii] S. Kimura and A. Hatano (4 October 2012) ‘Scientists in Groundbreaking Study on Effects of Radiation in Fukushima’, The Asahi Shimbun, http://ajw.asahi.com/article/0311disaster/fukushima/AJ201210040003, date accessed 6 October 2012.
[iv] Yoshihisa Kubota, Hideo Tsuji, Taiki Kawagoshi, Naoko Shiomi, Hiroyuki Takahashi, Yoshito Watanabe, Shoichi Fuma, Kazutaka Doi, Isao Kawaguchi, Masanari Aoki, Masahide Kubota, Yoshiaki Furuhata, Yusaku Shigemura, Masahiko Mizoguchi, Fumio Yamada, Morihiko Tomozawa, Shinsuke H. Sakamoto, and Satoshi Yoshida Chromosomal Aberrations in Wild Mice Captured in Areas Differentially Contaminated by the Fukushima Dai-ichi Nuclear Power Plant Accident. Environ. Sci. Technol., 2015, 49 (16), pp 10074–10083. DOI: 10.1021/acs.est.5b01554.
[v] Watanabe, Yoshito, San’ei Ichikawa, Masahide Kubota, Junko Hoshino, Yoshihisa Kubota, Kouichi Maruyama, Shoichi Fuma, Isao Kawaguchi, Vasyl Yoschenko, Satoshi Yoshida, “Morphological defects in native Japanese fir trees around the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant,” Scientific Reports 5.13232 (2015): doi:10.1038/srep13232.
FUKUSHIMA, Japan (Kyodo) — A dairy farm near the disaster-struck Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant in northeastern Japan began shipping raw milk again on Tuesday.
It was the first milk shipped for processing and public sale from an area previously designated for evacuation following the March 2011 nuclear disaster at the seaside plant in Fukushima Prefecture, according to the prefectural government.
Milk produced at the farm in the Naraha district had been checked for radioactive cesium every week from last May to December, with no reading ever surpassing the government-set limit of 50 becquerels per kilogram. In fact, the readings were below the testing equipment detection limit.
Around 400 kg of raw milk from 18 cows was shipped Tuesday.
“We were able to start operating this farm again with the support of so many people,” said farm head Hiroaki Hiruta, 48. “I want to pay a debt of gratitude by making good milk.”
Following the disaster, in which a massive amount of radioactive material was spewed into the air and sea, the central government banned milk shipments from the area in March 2011. Restrictions were lifted last December for the area where Hiruta’s farm is located.
Similar restrictions are still in place for eight other districts, including the towns of Okuma and Futaba where the nuclear power station is located.
Fukushima seafood: radioactive cesium not detected (i.e., less than the detection limit value) in 95.0 percent of 8,502 specimens
Here’s a correction on last week’s Kyodo News report on Fukushima seafood contamination.
Kyodo said that 95% of the more than 8,000 fish tested had contamination levels that were “hardly detectible”. Japan’s Atomic Industrial Forum reports, “…radioactive cesium was not detected (i.e., less than the detection limit value) in 8,080 specimens, or some 95.0 percent of the total.”
Not detected is considerably different from hardly detectible. JAIF adds that the specimens were taken from the Pacific Ocean within a 20 kilometer radius of F. Daiichi.
(Comment – With severe “radiophobia” infecting millions of Japanese, it is imperative that popular news outlets report accurately. Kyodo News ought to post a correction.)
All Fukushima Seafood Tested in 2016 Falls Below Cesium Standard Value
After the March 2011 accident at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plants, Fukushima Prefecture has been conducting tests on fish and shellfish in coastal waters. It was revealed recently that the concentration of radioactive cesium in all the fish and shellfish collected during tests in 2016 fell below the national standard value of 100Bq/kg. It was the first time since the nuclear accident that all such seafood from Fukushima fell below the standard value in a single calendar year.
According to the prefectural Fisheries Experiment Station, the number of specimens tested in 2016 was 8,502. Among those, radioactive cesium was not detected (i.e., less than the detection limit value) in 8,080 specimens, or some 95.0 percent of the total. The last time that the reference value had been exceeded was in March 2015, after which no instances have been registered.
The inspections, which started in April 2011, include fish and shellfish taken from the sea within a 20-km radius from the Fukushima Daiichi site. The proportion of fish and shellfish exceeding the reference value has been decreasing year by year, as follows: 39.8 percent in 2011, 16.5 percent in 2012, 3.7 percent in 2013, 0.9 percent in 2014, and 0.05 percent in 2015.
Test operations are continuing in limited sea areas in the coastal waters off Fukushima, including fish species in which it is difficult to incorporate radioactive substances.
Follow Up on Thyroid Cancer! Patient Group Voices Opposition to Scaling Down the Fukushima Prefectural Health Survey¹
More than five years have elapsed since the great earthquake and the accompanying huge tsunami (on 3.11 of 2011), and its subsequent disaster at the Fukushima Dai-ichi Nuclear Power Plant of the Tokyo Electric Power Co. Three nuclear reactors there underwent explosions and another, though without explosion, was highly damaged. A large amount of radioactive material has been and is still being released as a result of the accidents.
Aside from the very difficult issues of how to deal with the melted nuclear fuel rods and with the increasing amount of contaminated water, people all over Japan, particularly those in Fukushima prefecture, are concerned with the effects of radiation on human health from the released radioactive material.
One disease, childhood thyroid cancer, has been recognized even by the authorities including the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and International Commission of Radiation Protection (ICRP), as the result of radiation released by the 1986 Chernobyl disaster in today’s Ukraine. Hence Fukushima Prefecture initiated a health survey of Fukushima citizens, including evacuees, that included scanning for thyroid abnormalities of all children under age 18 at the time of the accidents. It turned out that a large number of children have contracted thyroid cancers over the last five years: 172 out of ca. 380,000 children by the end of 2015. The majority of them have undergone surgery, and many have been found to have metastasized. This number , and the annual rate per 1,000,000, ca 90, is unusually high, compared with the rate 1 to 3 per 1,000,000 under normal circumstances.
The Fukushima prefectural government and the organization charged with conducting the examination are trying to rationalize the results in many ways, without invoking the radiation impact of the reactor meltdowns. If this is indeed unrelated to the radiation from the damaged Fukushima Nuclear Power Plants, a similarly high rate of thyroid cancer should be found all over Japan. The survey should be expanded in order to see whether that is indeed the case. In fact, however, as Aihara Hiroko details, the authorities are interested in scaling down the survey in Fukushima itself. They argue, curiously, that the results are causing anxiety and therefore are an example of “reputational damage,” an interpretation that excludes the possibility of actual harm to health and agricultural produce and other commercial activity. Moreover, they throw out the distraction of the need to respect individual choice, that is, the right of families to refuse screening. It is difficult to understand their reasoning as anything other than an expression of their wish to leave ambiguous the cause of rising rates of thyroid cancer. Thyroid cancer seems to be increasing even among adults. Indeed, Aihara’s article introduces the case of an adult patient, a rare case in which an individual is willing to be identified by name, given the degree of social anxiety generated by the fear of discrimination in Japan.
Thyroid cancer is only one of many health problems observed in the atomic bomb victims and the people affected by the Chernobyl disaster. Indeed, there are indications that many diseases including leukemia and heart diseases are increasing after the Fukushima accident all over Japan (Ochiai, 2015). Radiation is basically incompatible with life, indeed, everything on this earth (Ochiai, 2013). This fact needs to be recognized by the human race. No activity that releases radioactive materials in large quantities, whether for military use or power generation, should be allowed.
Ochiai, 2013: “Hiroshima to Fukushima: Biohazards of Radiation” (Springer Verlag Heidelberg, 2013)
Follow Up on Thyroid Cancer! Patient Group Voices Opposition to Scaling Down the Fukushima Prefectural Health Survey2
The total cost of the damage caused by the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant accident is estimated at thirteen trillion yen. Yet, health damage is hard to see, and even when problems become evident, many of them are neglected. One of the most worrisome of these is thyroid cancer. Five years have passed since the accident of 2011, the threshold year when thyroid cancer began to increase after Chernobyl, according to experts such as Yamashita Shun’ichi, known as the “authority on the health risks of radiation exposure.” Here we try to grasp what is happening on the ground.
“Although getting a checkup was a financial strain and time consuming, I am trying to view the experience positively as my cancer was detected at an early stage. If treatment had been delayed, the probability of the cancer spreading was quite high.”
So says Watanabe Norio, a high school teacher in Fukushima Prefecture who had thyroid cancer surgery in 2015. It was in the summer of 2013, when he and his family had their thyroids checked at a private clinic, that a tumor was discovered. The initial diagnosis was that the tumor was benign but called for observation. After a year, the tumor had grown bigger. Watanabe went to a larger hospital where his tumor was diagnosed, this time, as cancerous, and one side of his thyroid gland was removed.
Once Watanabe was discharged from the hospital, several of his current and former students, who happened to learn about his surgery, came to ask him personally about group thyroid screening: what to expect, the nature of the examination and treatment, and his hospitalization experience. All of them suffered from thyroid problems after the Fukushima nuclear accident.
Self-portrait of Mr. Watanabe in the hospital. Photo by Watanabe Norio
Among them, one had been diagnosed with a primary thyroid cancer with an uncomplicated convalescence and favorable prognosis; another was diagnosed with papillary thyroid cancer. One had thyroid cancer surgery; another stopped going to school, unable to talk to anyone about the surgery. One was shocked by the scar on the neck left by the surgery, while another could not speak of the surgery even to extended family. People react to their illnesses differently: on the one hand, we know people who are leading “normal” lives after the surgery; on the other, there are those who, fearful of discrimination and prejudice, have no one to talk to.
Watanabe recalls that during his hospitalization, a nurse told him that there were a considerable number of people hospitalized for thyroid cancer surgery. Even as an adult, he found the hospital stay and cancer treatment difficult to deal with financially, physically and emotionally. It was an experience that inevitably affected his whole family. Every time Watanabe hears doctors talk optimistically about the “favorable prognosis of thyroid cancer relative to other cancers” in the context of the Prefectural Health Survey conducted by Fukushima Prefecture, he feels put off, as if they were making light of his illness.
What to Expect after the Dissolution of the Reconstruction Agency?
As part of the Prefectural Health Survey, Fukushima Prefecture has conducted checkups on the thyroid glands of children who were under eighteen years old at the time of the accident. Among the 370,000 examined, 172 minors have been diagnosed with thyroid cancer or suspected thyroid cancer. 131 have already had their thyroids removed.
The Fukushima Prefectural Oversight Committee of the Prefectural Health Survey (hereafter “Oversight Committee”) holds that it is “unlikely” that these cases are related to radiation exposure from the accident in 2011, but the residents’ anxiety continues to mount over the abnormally high rate of cancer in children. Doctor Yamashita Shun’ichi,3 the “authority on radiation exposure risk,” estimates the dormant period of thyroid cancer to be four to five years, based upon the Chernobyl nuclear accident (though some argue that an increase in thyroid cancer was observed two to three years after the accident), which suggests that there may be a precipitous rise in rates in the near future.
It is precisely at this moment that plans to reevaluate the thyroid examination program, including the possibility of scaling back, surfaced.4 The rationale is that the screening is “disadvantageous for the children of Fukushima.”
After the nuclear accident, Fukushima Prefecture embarked on the Prefectural Health Management Survey of May 2011 to study the impact of radiation on health and managing resident health. The task was consigned to Fukushima Medical University. It entails a “basic survey” in which all citizens of the prefecture (including mandatory and voluntary evacuees) are queried about their daily activities following the accident in order to estimate their level of external exposure; “thyroid examinations” targeting 370,000 children who were eighteen or younger at the time of the accident; an “internal exposure examination using whole body counters,” which measure the internal exposure dose; a “medical examination” providing a general checkup, including measuring leukocyte counts5 and a “survey on mental health and daily habits” of the residents of evacuation zones; and a “questionnaire for expectant and nursing mothers” who have maternity passbooks.6
Since the establishment of the Survey, however, problems have emerged one after another. For example, in the fall of 2012, it turned out that the Oversight Committee held a “secret meeting,” inviting the members to conform to an interpretation of the Survey results that concludes that a newly discovered thyroid cancer case has no causal relation with the Fukushima nuclear accident. When this secret meeting was made public, Murata Fumio, then vice governor, apologized for it before the prefectural assembly.7 The Committee also received complaints about the term “management” in the title of the Survey, as it suggested that the Survey could lead to the “management/control” of citizens. The Oversight Committee subsequently removed “management” from the Survey name [in 2014, the Survey was renamed the Prefectural Health Survey].
The Prefectural Health Survey (hereafter “Survey”) is administered independently by Fukushima Prefecture. It is to be distinguished from the medical examinations and special health checkups mandated at businesses and schools. Under the supervision of the central government’s Reconstruction Agency, the Act on Special Measures for Fukushima Reconstruction and Revitalization8 stipulates the content of the Survey and provides budgetary assistance. An enormous sum of public funds and funds related to reconstruction poured into the reserves of the Prefectural Health Management Fund for these activities. As of the beginning of fiscal year 2015, the amount in this Fund was approximately 135 billion yen. However, 55.7 billion of that 135 billion has already been spent, and the current balance is estimated to be 76 billion. Although Fukushima Prefecture claims that the national government has pledged to continue to fund the Survey, the Reconstruction Agency itself is scheduled to be dissolved in 2020, and the Fund to be discontinued in 2040. While the prefecture promises “life-long examinations,” with funding and other issues unresolved, continuationof the practice is up in the air.
A New Form of “Reputational Damage” (Fūhyō higai)?
The discussion about “reevaluation/scaling down” began on July 3, 2016 when the Fukushima Pediatric Association (hereafter “Pediatric Association”) adopted a statement at its general assembly, which it submitted to Fukushima Prefecture in the form of a petition on August 25. The statement reads, “[regarding the result of the Prefectural Health Survey] at this stage, it is difficult to make a scientific and objective assessment of the multiple cases reported [of thyroid cancer]. Yet we observe health concerns and anxieties spreading among not only the youth targeted for this examination and their parents but among prefectural residents in general.” Here, the Survey reports are identified as the cause of resident anxiety.
“From the standpoint of alleviating such anxiety,” reads the statement, “current practice regarding thyroid examination as well as subsequent medical treatment and care should be reconsidered in part.” Additionally, the statement announces the launching of a new and independent review committee by the Pediatric Association.
On July 4, Fukushima Min’yū, a local newspaper, first reported the Pediatric Association’s statement under the following headline: “Calling for reconsideration of ‘thyroid examinations,’ Fukushima Pediatric Association to establish independent committee.” About a month later, on August 8, Min’yū ran another article, entitled “Discussion to reconsider thyroid examination; Oversight Committee may reduce scope,” introducing the views of Hoshi Hokuto, chair of the Oversight Committee, and Ōga Kazuhiro, president of the Pediatric Association.
In the article, both Hoshi and Ōga endorse the idea of restructuring the thyroid examinations, despite the fact that the risk of exposure following the nuclear accident remains high in Fukushima. Moreover, neither refers to the importance of early detection and prevention of cancer among children.
“There is little merit to early detection of a cancer that progresses slowly and has a favorable prognosis,” Ōga declares. “Conducting the screening is itself provoking anxiety.” He continues, “Reports of multiple cancer cases can lead to reputational damage, which might disadvantage not only the children but all residents of Fukushima.” It is his personal opinion that “The choice not to take the examination should be respected, and the current practice, in which examinations are conducted in semi-compulsory fashion at schools and kindergartens needs to be corrected. Instead, we should establish a system restricted to those who wish to be screened.”
Showing his respect for Ōga’s opinion, Hoshi states that, “At the very least, we cannot willfully charge ahead with the current form of examination.”
No Expansion in Scope or Substance
Let us now turn to the prefectural take on this issue—the very agent of the examinations.
Ide Takatoshi, director of the health and welfare division, received the petition from the Fukushima Pediatric Association, represented by Ōga, on August 25. In response to my query, Ide stated, “We would like to await the discussions that will take place at an Oversight Committee meeting and an international conference to be held in September in Fukushima.” The 24th Oversight Committee meeting was scheduled to take place on September 14, and Ide did not deny the possibility that the meeting might spark a discussion for scaling down the thyroid screenings (As for the result, please see note 3).
In fact, however, even before the Pediatric Association petition, the Prefecture had already taken steps to prepare for the possibility of decreasing the pool of examinees.
One of these can be seen in the change in the consent form distributed at the second round of full-scale examinations that began in fiscal year 2015. Whereas earlier forms simply had a “consent” box to be checked off, the new form had a new “do not consent” box.
This addition may suggest the desire of the prefecture to respect the will of individuals who do not wish to take the examination. Given, however, the clearly noninvasive technology of ultrasound examination of the thyroid, and the importance from the standpoint of preventive medicine of protecting children’s health through early detection and treatment, does this shift—which proactively identifies children who will not be examined and removes them from the process—not strike at the heart of the principle of “fairness and uniformity” underlying this taxpayer-supported project? This change gives rise to another question, as to whether the prefecture has fully explained the possible consequences of delayed cancer detection. Adding the choice to opt out, I worry, is a means for gathering concrete numbers of those who are not interested, which in turn, might be used to provide “a rationale for scaling down the examinations.”
On August 25: representatives of the Fukushima Pediatric Association submitting a petition to Fukushima Prefecture, asking for reevaluation/scaling-down of thyroid examinations.
With these questions in mind, I had an opportunity to ask Ōga and Hoshi about the motivation behind their statements. Both Ōga and Hoshi said “the newspapers exaggerated,” and denied a part of their statements as cited in the media. Ōga claims, “There was too much personal opinion in my interview article, which wasn’t great. What the Pediatric Association is asking for is not to cut back on the examination, but to revise a part of its procedure. The current thyroid screening practice turns up more and more latent cancer cases, which almost all medical doctors ‘believe have no association with radiation exposure.’” In response to my question on revision of the procedure, Ōga replied, “We will discuss the best procedure to be implemented in our review committee.” But he also made clear that “neither expansion of the examination nor enhancement of its content” would be on the table.
In contrast, Hoshi remained ambiguous: “The Pediatric Association’s petition is one of many opinions. We will continue to discuss the matter, including maintaining the current practice as an option.”
The Disadvantages of Screening?
“Excessive screening? Preposterous. I am quite concerned about the discussion of possible scaling down. I asked the prefectural staff what disadvantages could be expected, with respect to protecting residents and patients. They only said, ‘That’s what the experts say,’ and failed to provide any concrete explanations. They ought to be seriously thinking about what disadvantages there are to be eliminated, and what advantages are to be protected.”
Such is the strong protest expressed by lawyer Kawai Hiroyuki, founding member and co-organizer of the “3/11 Thyroid Cancer Family Association” (hereafter “Family Association”), at a press conference held at the prefectural hall press club after submitting a petition on behalf of the Family Association to Fukushima Prefecture on August 23.9
On August 23: lawyer Kawai Hiroyuki and co-organizers of the “3/11 Thyroid Cancer Family Association” holding a press conference pleading for expansion of the scope and substance of thyroid examinations.
Dentist Takemoto Yasushi, vice-representative of the Family Association, followed up with this appeal: “Some may think that it is the growing frequency of diagnosis that is causing anxiety, but discontinuing the examination would cause anxiety. True relief would come from enhancing the examination and follow-up treatment.”
Shadow of Mr. Watanabe.
Medical doctor and another Family Association facilitator, Ushiyama Motomi, added, “It was just at the five-year point after Chernobyl that cancer cases started increasing. There is so much that we don’t know yet. Given the fact that so many cancer patients were found after the second-round full-scale examination, scaling down the screenings will not benefit residents. Without providing sufficient and appropriate information to patients, it is problematic to leave individuals to decide on their own whether to take part in the examination.”
On September 1,124 groups—domestic and international—jointly submitted a petition to the prefecture. They demand that the prefecture maintain the current practice and further broaden the pool in order to gain an accurate grasp of the situation; to elucidate the causal relationship between cancer and radiation exposure; and to reexamine the appropriateness of the surgeries performed upon 131 patients.10
Watanabe, the high school teacher introduced at the beginning of this article who had his thyroid removed, reflects, “We Fukushima residents have fears about health problems cropping up in the future. Especially for the young generation, continued screening and examination are indispensable. Even adults should have regular checkups.”
For the second-round full-scale examination, there is no compensation for parents who miss work to accompany their children, and transportation is also out of pocket. The Family Association receives complaints about a system that fails to provide for accessible examination and treatment.
Continued vigilance is necessary to ensure that the prefecture not scale back the screening and examination program in response to pressures from one set of doctors and organizations while ignoring the voices of all residents as well as patients.
This article originally appeared in Shukan Kinyobi, no. 1103, Sept. 9, 2016.
It was Norma Field who suggested a contribution from Eiichiro Ochiai as a preface to this article. Without her generous help, recommendations and suggestions, this article would not be made available in English, and in fact, it would be more appropriate to name her as a co-translator. Having said that, however, should any mistakes and factual errors be found in this article, it would fall under the responsibility of myself.
Anders Pape Møller and Timothy A. Mousseau, Uncomfortable Questions in the Wake of Nuclear Accidents at Fukushima and Chernobyl
The website of the Fukushima prefectural government translates Fukushima kenmin kenkō chōsa as the “Residents’ Health Survey,” but in this article, I will employ the term “Prefectural Health Survey”. See here. [All footnotes are by the translator].
The website of the Fukushima prefectural government translates Fukushima kenmin kenkō chōsa as the “Residents’ Health Survey,” but in this article, I will employ the term “Prefectural Health Survey”. See here.
Yamashita was a Nagasaki-born second-generation hibakusha. After working at the Nagasaki University School of Medicine, he visited Chernobyl in 1991 in order to conduct research on children suffering from thyroid cancer. Since then, he has visited Chernobyl over a hundred times. In light of his experience in Chernobyl, shortly following the meltdown of nuclear reactors in Fukushima in 2011, Yamashita was invited to serve as a radiation risk management adviser to Fukushima Prefecture. He is known for his claims, regarding radiation risk in Fukushima, that exposure to 100 mSv of radiation per year is safe and that radiation does not affect people who are “happy and laughing” but rather affects those who are “weak-spirited” and who “brood and fret.” See “Japan Admits 3 Nuclear Meltdowns, More Radiation Leaked into Sea; U.S. Nuclear Waste Poses Deadly Risks” Democracy Now! June 10, 2011. Transcript is available here.
The Fukushima prefectural assembly, in response to a petition opposing cutbacks in health screenings, agreed to maintain the program at its regular meeting on October 13, 2016. See “Fukushima Daiichi genpatsu jiko kōjōsen kensa kibo iji o Kenmin kenkō chōsa, kengikai ga seigan saitaku” (Fukushima Daiichi nuclear accident, thyroid examinations will remain at the same scale; Prefectural assembly adopts petition)
Leukocytosis occurs when white cells (the leukocyte count) are above the normal range in the blood. It is frequently a sign of an inflammatory response, most commonly the result of infection, but may also occur following certain parasitic infections or bone tumors. See here.
The “maternity passbook” is issued to a woman when she reports her pregnancy to the municipal government of her residence. The book provides health advice, and documents the prenatal development of a baby as well as post-delivery health of mother and child. It also allows the holder to receive free public health services. See the website of Fukushima Prefecture: “Health of prefectural residents”.
See “Fukushima kenkō chōsa: ‘himitsukai’ de kenkai suriawase” (Prefectural Health Survey: Producing an agreement by a secret meeting) here and here. The original article in Mainichi Shimbun on October 3, 2012 has been taken down from their website.
Article 26 of the act states: “Based on the Basic Guidelines for Reconstruction and Revitalization of Fukushima, Fukushima Prefecture may conduct Health Management Surveys (meaning surveys to estimate radiation exposure, conduct health checkups on thyroid cancer in children, and otherwise manage residents’ health care effectively; the same applies hereinafter), covering persons who had addresses in Fukushima as of March 11, 2011 and others equivalent thereto.” The document is available here.
The 3.11 Fund for Children with Thyroid Cancer was established on September 8, 2016, with the purpose of supporting thyroid cancer patients and their families. Donations are accepted at the organization website. The first round of applications for the fund began on December 1, 2016. See more information here.
Since this article was published, the number of thyroid cancer patients among those 18 years old and younger at the time of the accident has increased from 131 to 145. “18sai ika no kōjōsengan, kei 145nin ni Fukushima ken kensa” (The examinations show a rise of thyroid cancer patients among children to 145), December 27, 2016.
Source : http://apjjf.org/2017/02/Aihara.html
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