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Olympics: Tokyo torch relay to add another Fukushima reactor town

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

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

January 18, 2020

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Olympics no relief for devastated city

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

December 14, 2019

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Evacuated Fukushima town begins efforts to have produce restrictions lifted

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People are seen planting produce during a cultivation test in the Morotake district of the town of Futaba, Fukushima Prefecture, on Sept. 2, 2019, in this photo provided by the Futaba Municipal Government.
September 9, 2019
FUTABA, Fukushima — Vegetable cultivation trials began in September in this town, which has been completely evacuated since Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings Inc.’s (TEPCO) Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station melted down following the earthquakes and tsunami in March 2011.
The prefectural government has been putting on the trials with cooperation from the town office as well as farmers who were based in the town in northeastern Japan.
At a full staff meeting of the town assembly on Sept. 5, it was explained that if the crops can be confirmed to be safe, then the aim will be to have shipping restrictions removed on a part of the town whose evacuation orders are expected to be lifted next spring. It is thought that doing so will help revive farming in the area.
According to the town office, seeds and saplings for five produce items, including broccoli, cabbage and spinach, were planted at three locations in the Morotake district on Sept. 2. The district is currently classed as an area preparing for the lifting of an evacuation order, from which orders may soon be lifted.
It is the first planting in the town to produce food since the onset of the nuclear disaster in March 2011. Harvesting is expected to take place from late October to mid-November, but because the aim is to confirm data, all of the crop will be disposed of and not distributed.
If the inspection can confirm that the radiation dosage is lower than the national standard of 100 becquerels per 1 kilogram, then the prefectural government will make a request to the national government to have the shipment restrictions on the area removed.
Shipment restrictions are aimed at leafy and non-leafy headed types of vegetables, as well as mustards such as broccoli, and turnips. Immediately after the start of the nuclear disaster, these items all across the prefecture were under restrictions, but as areas have each confirmed the safety of their crops, they have been lifted.
Excluding areas deemed “difficult-to-return” zones, only the parts of Futaba that are classed as preparing for the lifting of evacuation orders remain as areas yet to have the restrictions removed.
(Japanese original by Tatsushi Inui, Iwaki Local Bureau)

September 14, 2019 Posted by | fukushima 2019 | , , , | Leave a comment

Radiation-soaked Fukushima town REOPENS to visitors 7 years after meltdown

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December 16, 2018
The town next to the Fukushima Nuclear Power Planet that suffered a devastating meltdown in 2011 has reopened.
Futaba – on the Fukushima Prefecture – was turned into a ghost town after a huge tsunami swamped the nuclear reactors, triggering a massive radiation leak.
But authorities are now planning on reopening the town – despite warnings of worryingly high levels of radiation.
Shortly after the meltdown, all of Futaba was closed off after critical levels above 50 millisieverts of radiation were recorded.
Those hoping to travel there will need to apply for permission to enter before they will be allowed past a checkpoint
It is thought the town could be rebuilt and ready for evacuees to move back in by 2022 provided it reaches government-set safe levels of contamination by the end of the year.
Officials want radiation levels to be below 1 millisievert for people to live there again.
Photographs taken in the last few years of the areas surrounding Fukushima show something out of a post-apocalyptic war zone.
Last year, shocking images emerged of radioactive boars roaming around several towns in the evacuation zone.

December 20, 2018 Posted by | Fukushima 2018 | , , | Leave a comment

Town that hosts disaster-hit Fukushima nuclear plant aims to allow daytime access to special zone in 2020

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Futaba in Fukushima Prefecture, where restrictions may be lifted to allow daytime access in 2020, is seen in November
December 13, 2018
FUKUSHIMA – One of the municipalities that hosts the crisis-hit Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant is considering lifting restrictions on daytime access in spring 2020 to an area being rebuilt in the town center, sources close to the matter said Thursday.
The town of Futaba, Fukushima Prefecture, where units Nos. 5 and 6 of the complex are located, became a ghost town after the 2011 disaster due to high levels of radiation. Those wishing to visit need to apply in advance for permission to enter and must pass through a checkpoint.
But such restrictions would be lifted during the daytime for access to a special zone several kilometers from the Fukushima plant on the Pacific coast, where government-funded decontamination and reconstruction work is underway, with the aim of evacuees returning in the spring of 2022.
To lift the restrictions, the town will have to meet government criteria to be unveiled by the end of the year. If realized, the move will pave the way for the town to be rebuilt.
After the massive earthquake and tsunami triggered the world’s worst nuclear catastrophe since the 1986 Chernobyl disaster, the whole of Futaba was designated a no-go zone for residents, with radiation levels exceeding 50 millisieverts per year.
The town’s plan to mark the special zone as a reconstruction hub was endorsed by the central government in September last year. The town said at the time that in most of the area radiation levels had fallen below 20 mSv per year, with figures around Futaba Station brought down below 5 mSv per year.
Decontamination work has been conducted to make sure radiation levels will be below 20 mSv per year throughout the special zone by the spring of 2020. The government eventually aims to lower the levels below 1 mSv per year.
The International Commission on Radiological Protection sets radiation exposure under normal situations at 1 mSv per year and says 100 mSv of exposure over a lifetime would increase the possibility of developing cancer by up to 1 percent.
Under emergency situations, the ICRP sets a limit of 20-100 mSv of annual radiation exposure.
In the special zone, which will occupy about 560 hectares, or 10 percent of the town, residential areas and commercial facilities will be built. Futaba envisions some 2,000 residents will eventually live in the area.
With more residents and construction workers expected to come to the area, the town is likely to discuss measures with the central government to beef up surveillance through the use of security cameras or patrols.
Five other municipalities near the Fukushima No. 1 plant aim to build similar reconstruction hubs for the return of their own evacuees.
All six municipalities are planning to have evacuation orders lifted in the hub zones by the spring of 2023 but Futaba is the first to announce plans for free access during daytime.
The Fukushima No. 1 plant spewed a massive amount of radioactive materials after a magnitude 9.0 earthquake triggered tsunami that flooded the facility on March 11, 2011.
Reactor Nos. 1 to 3 suffered fuel meltdowns, while hydrogen explosions damaged the buildings housing units Nos. 1, 3 and 4. Reactor Nos. 5 and 6 achieved a cold shutdown after several days.
The disaster left more than 18,000 people dead or missing. As of November, more than 54,000 people were still unable to return to their homes.

December 20, 2018 Posted by | Fukushima 2018 | , , , , | Leave a comment

Drone footage probably closest evacuees will get to going home

 

gugjh.jpgElementary school pupils in Iwaki, Fukushima Prefecture, watch drone footage of their hometown of Futaba, which they are not permitted to enter due to high levels of radiation, and talk to local officials there via a satellite hookup.

 

hhjl;.jpgChildren living as evacuees are glued to images shot by a drone of their hometown of Futaba during a special presentation at their temporary campus in Iwaki, Fukushima Prefecture, on Nov. 26.

 

jklk.jpgThe children learn about decontamination work under way in Futaba via a satellite hookup during a field trip class held in Iwaki, Fukushima Prefecture, 80 kilometers away from the hometown they were forced to abandon after the 2011 nuclear disaster.

 

November 27, 2018

IWAKI, Fukushima Prefecture–With barely no recollections of growing up in Futaba, a town rendered uninhabitable by the 2011 nuclear disaster, 11 young evacuees had a “homecoming” of sorts on Nov. 26.
The children, fourth- to sixth-graders at two public elementary schools who currently study at a temporary campus in Iwaki, 80 kilometers south of Futaba, attended a special 45-minute presentation in a school gym to watch drone footage of the area where they were born.
A satellite feed allowed the pupils to talk to local officials about efforts to decontaminate the once-bustling community.
Futaba was transformed into a ghost town by the triple meltdown at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant triggered by the earthquake and tsunami disaster. High radiation levels mean that entry still remains restricted.
The children watched aerial footage of scenic spots shot by drones on three 70-inch monitors. Beautiful images of beaches and mountains in fall colors caused them to lean forward and express amazement.
Fifth-grader, Mao Oyano, 11, who has few memories of living in Futaba as she left at the age of 3, expressed surprise at seeing “many more houses than I expected.”
The children fell silent when eerie images appeared of the wrecked nuclear plant.
Ninety-six percent of Futaba, a town that co-hosts the stricken nuclear facility, is located in a difficult-to-return zone because of high radiation levels and remains uninhabited.
Adults must receive permission to enter the area, but children under the age of 15 are not allowed access.
The children were aged between 2 and 4 when they left, and have not set foot in Futaba since then.
Prior to the disaster, Futaba had two elementary schools with 309 pupils. In spring 2014, the town opened a temporary school facility in Iwaki, a coastal city to where many Futaba residents evacuated, but the number of pupils dropped to 31.
The “homecoming” was the school’s first attempt to give the children an opportunity to ponder the tragedy that befell their hometown, according to a school official.
http://www.asahi.com/ajw/articles/AJ201811270053.html

November 30, 2018 Posted by | Fukushima 2018 | , , | Leave a comment

SEVEN YEARS AFTER: Radioactive debris piling up at Fukushima interim facility

March 5, 2018
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Bags containing radioactive soil and other waste are piled up high at an interim storage facility in Futaba, Fukushima Prefecture, on Feb. 17.
FUTABA, Fukushima Prefecture–Stacks of soil and other waste contaminated by the Fukushima nuclear disaster continue to grow at an interim storage facility here.
Black bags filled with radioactive debris collected during decontamination work in various locations in the prefecture have been brought to the facility since October, when operations started.
Heavy machinery is used to stack the bags, and green sheets now cover some of the piles.
The town of Futaba co-hosts the crippled Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant. The interim facility is expected to eventually cover about 1,600 hectares of land in Futaba and Okuma, the other co-host of the plant.
The government has acquired 801 hectares as of Jan. 29, and 70 percent of that space is already covered with contaminated debris.
Negotiations between the government and landowners are continuing for the remaining hectares.
The government plans to move the contaminated debris to a final disposal site outside the prefecture by March 2045. However, it has had difficulties finding local governments willing to accept the waste.

March 5, 2018 Posted by | Fukushima 2018 | , , , , | Leave a comment

Work starts for industrial site in Futaba near Daiichi plant

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Work has begun near the damaged Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant to prepare an area for a new industrial site.
 
A ground-breaking ceremony was held on Sunday in Futaba Town, Fukushima Prefecture, where the disabled plant is located.
 
Speaking at Sunday’s ceremony, Futaba Mayor Shiro Izawa said reconstruction work has finally started in the town.
 
He expressed hope that the site would facilitate the town’s recovery and the decommissioning work of the reactors.
 
The town’s first new industrial site since the accident will be built in its northeastern district.
 
‘The district’s relatively low level of radioactive contamination’ is paving the way for the early resettlement of residents and the resumption of business activities.
 
All residents of the town were ordered to evacuate soon after a major earthquake and tsunami in 2011 that destroyed the plant’s nuclear reactors.
 
The municipality has allocated about 50 hectares for the project. The aim is to make the district partially usable later this year.
 
Reconstruction Minister Masayoshi Yoshino said that along with this project, his ministry plans to decontaminate housing sites so that residents can return.
 
The municipal office says it intends to lease part of the industrial site to companies taking part in the decommissioning of the reactors.
 
The officials say they also plan to set up prefectural archives to preserve records of the 2011 disaster and nuclear accidents. They also plan to build an industrial exchange center where workers can hold meetings and have meals.

January 29, 2018 Posted by | Fukushima 2018 | , , , | Leave a comment

Town of Futaba kicks off radiation cleanup with eye on 2022 revival

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Decontamination work begins Monday in the town of Futaba, Fukushima Prefecture, to make it habitable again by spring 2022 under a government-led reconstruction project.
FUKUSHIMA – Cleanup work kicked off Monday to make radiation-tainted Futaba, one of the towns hosting the meltdown-hit Fukushima No. 1 power plant, habitable again by around spring 2022 under a government-led recovery project.
Cleanup and demolition crews are trying to decontaminate the town, which was tainted with fallout from the plant’s triple core meltdown after the March 2011 mega-quake and tsunami. The plant’s operator, Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings Inc., is shouldering the cost.
The work at Futaba marks the beginning of a series of government-led projects to make areas designated as special reconstruction zones livable again, with an emphasis on new infrastructure.
About 96 percent of Futaba has been designated as “difficult to return to” zone, and an evacuation advisory is still in place for the entire town, which hosts the stricken power plant with neighboring Okuma.
The cleanup will be concentrated in the special reconstruction zone, which covers 555 hectares accounting for 11 percent of Futaba.
“The reconstruction efforts will help motivate residents to return to their homes,” Futaba Mayor Shiro Izawa told officials involved in the project.
“We want you to carry out the work while thinking about the feelings of the citizens awaiting the day they can return,” he said.
Overseen by the Environment Ministry, the first steps will involve removing the top layer of soil in the area near Futaba Station, trimming grass along the streets, and dismantling nearly 60 houses and public facilities.
Along with Futaba, seven municipalities in Fukushima Prefecture have been designated as zones that are difficult to return to.
The government is aiming to lift the evacuation advisory near Futaba station by the end of March 2020, when the Joban Line plans to fully resume operation.
Some evacuees from Futaba had mixed emotions about the start of the work.
A 69-year-old woman residing in a temporary shelter in Iwaki said that her house is in the special reconstruction zone but that she had given up hope of returning because she evacuated over six years ago.
“If this was two or three years after the disaster, I might have a choice to return. But my house became run-down and I got old. Realistically speaking, I don’t think I can live there now,” she said.
On the other hand, Masamichi Matsumoto, who also fled to Iwaki, welcomed the project, saying, “I’m glad that a step has been taken to rebuild the town for the future.”
He said it is unlikely many citizens will return, partly because a nearby facility will be storing contaminated soil collected from the cleanup work.
“But I hope that Futaba will become a town where people can visit some day,” Matsumoto, 54, added.

Decontamination work begins in Futaba Dec 25 2017.jpg

December 27, 2017 Posted by | Fukushima 2017 | , , , | Leave a comment

Incineration, Processing and Interim Storage at Okuma-Futaba Facility

As you may see the Mainichi’s article below does mention the incineration which will take place at this facility. The Asahi ‘s article below on the other hand completely omits to talk about the incineration, lying by omission.
The radioactive debris will be first incinerated to reduce their volume to 1/50 of their initial volume, then processed and stored there. The amount of contaminated soil and other waste reaching  up to 22 million cubic meters (metric tons).
However it is important to point out that whatever the type of screening filters used during the incineration they will not retain all the radioactive nanoparticles, that some radioactive nanoparticles will still be released into the air during that incineration.
Thus “storage facility” is a misnomer as it is actually a processing facility before to be a storage facility.
25 oct 2017 Storage Facility Okuma
An intermediate storage facility under construction in Okuma, Fukushima Prefecture, in February, with the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant in the background
 

Interim storage site for Fukushima contaminated soil to begin full operations

An interim storage site in Fukushima Prefecture for soil and waste generated when areas affected by the Fukushima nuclear crisis were decontaminated will be put into full-scale operation on Oct. 28, Environment Minister Masaharu Nakagawa said.
Contaminated soil temporarily placed on the premises of the facility, which straddles the prefectural towns of Okuma and Futaba, will be brought into an underground storage site on the property.
The storage site will be the first one in the country to be put into full-scale operation to store contaminated soil and other waste.
“There are numerous challenges that must be overcome, but the start of operations at the facility is an important step toward the final disposal of contaminated soil,” Nakagawa told a news conference on Oct. 24.
The Environment Ministry is constructing the interim storage site on an approximately 16-square-kilometer area around the disaster-stricken Fukushima No. 1 Nuclear Power Plant. Operations at a section of the facility located in Okuma will begin on Oct. 28. After contaminated soil is measured for radiation, the soil will be stored separately at the facility depending on levels of radiation.
Waterproof work has been performed at the site to prevent stored soil from contaminating ground water.
At the site, a plant to incinerate weeds, trees and other flammable materials removed from contaminated soil and a facility to manage incinerated ash containing high levels of radioactive cesium will also be built.
The ministry estimates that the amount of soil and other waste removed from decontaminated sites in the prefecture could reach up to some 22 million cubic meters. Decontamination work is still going on in some areas affected by the nuclear disaster, which broke out in March 2011 following the Great East Japan Earthquake and tsunami.
Most of the soil removed from decontaminated areas was put into bags and temporarily stored at various locations in Fukushima Prefecture. Some of the bags have been brought onto the premises for the interim storage site since March 2015.
The central government intends to build a final disposal site outside the prefecture to complete the disposal of contaminated soil by 2045. However, the government has not worked out a specific plan on the final disposal site, such as its location and the timing of its construction.
 

Fukushima debris heading to intermediate storage facility

The Environment Ministry on Oct. 28 will start bringing radiation-contaminated soil to an intermediate storage site in Fukushima Prefecture, despite having acquired less than half of the land needed for the overall project.
The ministry’s announcement on Oct. 24 marks a long-delayed step toward clearing temporary sites that were set up around the prefecture to store countless bags of radioactive debris gathered after the triple meltdown at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant in March 2011.
The entire intermediate storage project will cover a 16-square-kilometer area spanning the towns of Futaba and Okuma around the nuclear plant. It is designed to hold up to 22 million cubic meters of contaminated debris for a maximum period of 30 years.
However, the ministry is still negotiating with landowners on buying parcels of land within the area. As of the end of September, the ministry had reached acquisition agreements for only about 40 percent of the land for the project.
The soil storage facility that will open on Oct. 28 is located on the Okuma side. It has a capacity of about 50,000 cubic meters.
Bags of contaminated soil stored in Okuma will be transferred to the facility, where the debris will be separated based on radiation dosages.
A similar storage facility is being constructed on the Futaba side.
The ministry initially planned to start full-scale operations of the entire storage facility in January 2015. However, it took longer than expected to gain a consensus from local residents and acquire land at the proposed site.
In March 2015, a portion of the contaminated soil was brought to the Okuma facility for temporary storage.

October 28, 2017 Posted by | Fukushima 2017 | , , , , | Leave a comment

First ‘hub’ set up in Fukushima no-entry zone to speed rebuilding

Screenshot from 2017-09-20 21-28-38.pngBags of contaminated soil are stored near JR Futaba Station in Futaba, Fukushima Prefecture. The area has become part of the government-designated rebuilding hub.

 

An area in the no-entry zone of Futaba, a town that co-hosts the crippled Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant, became the first government-designated “rebuilding hub” after the 3/11 disaster.

The designation on Sept. 15 means decontamination will speed up and infrastructure restored so the evacuation order in the town center can be lifted by spring 2022.

Most of Futaba is currently located in a difficult-to-return zone because of high radiation levels. Rebuilding efforts have not started there yet, even six-and-a-half years since the nuclear accident unfolded.

The rebuilding hub covers about 560 hectares of land around Futaba Station, accounting for about 10 percent of the town’s total area. It is almost the same size as an interim storage facility for contaminated soil and other waste that will be built within the town.

The central government will start full-scale decontamination efforts in the hub zone, and plans to initially lift the evacuation order for the area around the station by the end of fiscal 2019 to allow an open thoroughfare and short stays by members of the public.

By spring 2022, the government plans to lift the evacuation order for the entire hub zone. It hopes to bring back 1,400 former residents to the zone by 2027, and also provide homes for about 600 people from outside the town, such as workers at the Fukushima plant.

In the difficult-to-return zone, radiation readings surpassed 50 millisieverts per annum right after the triple meltdown occurred at the plant in 2011. An evacuation order was issued to about 25,000 people in seven municipalities in Fukushima Prefecture, covering 33,700 hectares in total.

The difficult-to-return zones have been excluded from the government’s rebuilding efforts. But a related law was amended in May, and the government is now responsible for rebuilding areas that could be made habitable in the near future after decontamination, meaning a radiation reading of 20 millisieverts per year or less.

In late August, Futaba applied to the government to host a designated rebuilding hub. Other municipalities with difficult-to-return zones are now preparing applications for the program.

http://www.asahi.com/ajw/articles/AJ201709150058.html

September 20, 2017 Posted by | Fukushima 2017 | , , , | Leave a comment

Futaba daruma a symbol of hope, nostalgia for Fukushima

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Many people visited a daruma fair to buy Futaba darumas in Iwaki, Fukushima Prefecture, on Jan. 7.

 

Daruma dolls, traditional round-shaped representations of the Indian priest Bodhidharma used as charms for the fulfillment of special wishes, are typically painted red, the color of his religious vestment, and have black eyebrows and a wispy beard painted on a white face.

But Futaba daruma, produced in Futaba, Fukushima Prefecture, feature blue-rimmed faces. The blue represents the Pacific Ocean, which stretches to the east of the town.

On the New Year’s Day, many of the townsfolk would go to the seaside to watch the first sunrise of the year turning the vast expanse of water into a sea of shiny gold.

But the 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake, which generated massive tsunami and the catastrophic accident at the nuclear power plant partly located in the town, drastically changed the fate of Futaba.

All of the residents were evacuated. Even now, 6,000 or so townsfolk live in 38 prefectures across the nation.

When I asked evacuees what they missed about life in the town before the nuclear disaster, they cited tea they would drink together with other members of the community after farm work, the local Bon Festival dance and local “kagura,” or sacred Shinto music and dancing. They also talked nostalgically about the rice and vegetable fields which they took great care of, the croaking of frogs, flying fireflies and the sweet taste of freshly picked tomatoes.

What was lost is the richness of life that cannot be bought.

Kaori Araki, who has just celebrated reaching adulthood, cited the smell of the sea. “But what I miss most is my relationships with people,” she added.

After leaving Futaba, Araki lived in Tokyo and Fukui, Saitama and Kanagawa prefectures before settling down in the city of Iwaki, Fukushima Prefecture. Her current residence is her seventh since she left an evacuation center.

On that day in March 2011, Araki, then a second-year junior high school student, escaped the tsunami with a friend. At a Coming-of-Age ceremony on Jan. 3, she met the friend, who also ended up living in a remote community, for the first time in about six years.

The government plans to ensure that some areas in Futaba will be inhabitable in five years. The municipal government has estimated that the town’s population a decade from now will be between 2,000 and 3,000.

In a survey of heads of families from Futaba conducted last fall, however, only 13 percent of the respondents said they wanted to return to the town.

A daruma fair to sell Futaba daruma started in front of temporary housing in Iwaki on Jan. 7.

The fair has been organized by volunteers since 2012 to keep this local New Year tradition alive. On Jan. 8, special buses brought people to the event from various locations both inside and outside the prefecture. There must have been many emotional reunions at the fair.

There were some green-colored daruma dolls sold at the fair as well. Green is the color of the school emblem of Futaba High School, which is to be closed at the end of March.

I hope that the daruma sold at the fair will help the purchasers fulfill their respective wishes.

http://www.asahi.com/ajw/articles/AJ201701090024.html

 

January 9, 2017 Posted by | Fukushima 2017 | , , | Leave a comment

Fukushima Trucks Spreading Unmeasurable Amount of Radiation

In Yamada, Futaba District, Fukushima, trucks carrying waste after decontamination work, go by spreading unmeasurable amount of radiation.

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The Geiger counter hits 9.99 microSv/h which is its limit!

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Recovery effort? Is n’t it better to relocate the entire residents elsewhere safe? In Japan, there are many villages and small towns where they suffer with depopulation.

What they do now is just to keep feeding big contractors, not helping affected people…..

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Source: Oz Yo

 

December 29, 2016 Posted by | Fukushima 2016 | , , , , | 1 Comment