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Greenpeace slams Japan’s plan to dump radioactive Fukushima water into the ocean

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22 January, 2019
The decision by the government and the tsunami-devastated plant’s operator to release contaminated water into the Pacific was ‘driven by short-term cost-cutting’, a new study has found
Greenpeace has slammed a plan by the Japanese government and an electric utility company to release into the ocean highly radioactive water from the tsunami-devastated Fukushima Daiichi power plant, saying in a new report the decision was “driven by short-term cost-cutting”.
Released on Tuesday, the Greenpeace study condemns the decision taken after the disaster to not develop technology that could remove radioactivity from the groundwater, which continues to seep into the basement levels of three of the six nuclear reactors at Fukushima.
An estimated 1.09 million tonnes of water are presently stored in more than 900 tanks at the plant, which was destroyed by an earthquake and tsunami in March 2011, with up to 4,000 tonnes added every week.
The decision by the government and the plant’s operator, the Tokyo Electric Power Company (Tepco), to avoid developing the relevant technology “was motivated by short-term cost-cutting, not protection of the Pacific Ocean environment and of the health and livelihoods of communities along the Fukushima coast”, said Kazue Suzuki, campaigner on energy issues for Greenpeace Japan.
“We have raised the water crisis with the UN International Maritime Organisation and firmly stand with local communities, especially fisheries, who are strongly opposed to any plans to discharge contaminated water into their fishing grounds.”
The backlash against the plan jointly put forward by the government and Tepco began late last year after the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI) held public hearings in Tokyo and Fukushima designed to convince local people that releasing the water into the ocean would have no impact on marine or human life.
Anti-nuclear and environmental groups had obtained data leaked from government sources, however, that showed that the water was still contaminated, triggering public anger. Tepco was forced to admit late last year that its efforts to reduce radioactive material – known as radionuclides – in the water had failed.
The company had previously claimed that advanced processes had reduced cancer-causing contaminants such as strontium-90, iodine-129 and ruthenium-106 in the water to non-detectible levels.
Despite the much-vaunted Advanced Liquid Processing System (ALPS) plant at Fukushima, Tepco has confirmed that levels of strontium-90, for example, are more than 100 times above legally permitted levels in 65,000 tonnes of water that have already been through the ALPS system.
n one of the hearings, Tatsuhiko Sato, a resident of Naraha who only returned to his home last spring because of contamination from the nuclear accident, accused Tepco of “not gathering all the data” and failing to adequately investigate reports that dangerous levels of radionuclides were still in the water after it was treated.
Local fishermen used the public hearing to express their “strong opposition” to plans to release the water, with one, Tetsu Nozaki, pointing out that while levels of radiation in locally caught fish and shellfish have been at or below normal levels for the past three years, releasing contaminated water would “deal a fatal blow” to the local fishing industry.
There has also been anger in some nearby countries, with environmental groups demonstrating in Seoul in November and Korea Radioactive Watch declaring that releasing the water “will threaten the waters of South Korea and other neighbouring nations”.
The issue was also part of a referendum held in Taiwan in November, with voters asked whether the government should maintain the ban on imports of food and products from areas of Japan that were most seriously affected by radiation from the disaster.
Japan’s trade ministry, however, still refuses to rule out the possibility that the water will be poured into the Pacific.
“We have established a committee to discuss the treatment of the water that is presently being stored and those discussions are still going on,” Shinji Hirai, director of the ministry’s Nuclear Accident Response Office, told the Post.
“There are five proposals being discussed, including releasing the water into the ocean or storing it underground, and we have not set a deadline for the committee to reach a decision.”
He declined to comment on the findings of the Greenpeace report.
But others have welcomed the new study, with Caitlin Stronell, spokeswoman for the Tokyo-based Citizens’ Nuclear Information Centre, also expressing opposition to plans to dump the water into the ocean.
“There needs to be a lot of consultations before any decision is reached on what to do and it cannot simply be the government making an arbitrary decision,” she said. “The whole story of the Fukushima disaster has been one of lies and half-truths from the authorities and it is very hard to trust anyone in Tepco or the government on this issue.
“People’s opinions have been completely disregarded in the rush by the government to tell us how everything is just fine and we believe the people from the region, those who have lost the most, cannot be overlooked or neglected.”
The Greenpeace report concludes that the water crisis at the plant will remain unresolved for the foreseeable future – and that the only viable option to safeguard local communities and the environment is to continue to store the water.
“The Japanese government and Tepco set an objective of ‘solving’ the radioactive water crisis by 2020 – that was never credible,” said Shaun Burnie, a nuclear specialist with Greenpeace Germany.
“The reality is that there is no end to the water crisis at Fukushima, a crisis compounded by poor decision-making by both Tepco and the government. Discharging into the Pacific is the worst option and must be ruled out.”
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January 25, 2019 Posted by | fukushima 2019 | , , , , | Leave a comment

Technical failures increase risk of contaminated Fukushima water discharge into Pacific – Greenpeace

The nuclear crisis at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant contin
by Greenpeace International
22 January 2019
Tokyo, 22 January 2019 – The nuclear water crisis at the Fukushima Daiichi plant has been compounded by multiple technical failures and flawed decision making driven by short term cost cutting by the Japanese government and TEPCO, a new Greenpeace Germany analysis concludes.
The report details how plans to discharge over 1 million tonnes of highly contaminated water into the Pacific Ocean was proposed by the same Government task force that ignored alternative options that would have avoided threatening further contamination of the ocean.
“The decision not to develop water processing technology that could remove radioactive tritium was motivated by short term cost cutting not protection of the Pacific ocean environment or the health and livelihoods of communities along the Fukushima coast,” said Kazue Suzuki, Energy Campaigner at Greenpeace Japan. “We have raised the water crisis with the UN International Maritime Organization and firmly stand with local communities, especially fisheries, who are strongly opposed to any plans to discharge contaminated water into their fishing grounds.”
The report concludes that the water crisis remains unresolved, and will be for the foreseeable future. The only viable option to protect the environment and the communities along the Fukushima coast being long term storage for the contaminated water.
The discharge option for water containing high levels of radioactive tritium was recommended as least cost by the Government’s Tritiated Water Task Force and promoted by Japan’s Nuclear Regulation Authority (NRA). The Task Force concluded in 2016 that “sea discharge would cost 3.4 billion yen (US$30 million) and take seven years and four months to complete. It concluded that this was cheapest and quickest of the five methods.” However, technical proposals for removing tritium were submitted to the same Government Task Force by multiple nuclear companies with estimated costs ranging from US$2-US$20 billion to US$50-US$180 billion depending on the technology used. These were dismissed as not viable but without detailed technical consideration.
TEPCO has claimed since 2013 that its ALPS technology would reduce radioactivity levels “to lower than the permissible level for discharge.” However, in September 2018 TEPCO admitted that the processing of over 800,000 tons of contaminated water in 1000 storage tanks, including strontium, had failed to remove radioactivity to below regulatory limits, including for strontium-90, a bone seeking radionuclide that causes cancer. TEPCO knew of the failure of the technology from 2013. The Greenpeace report details technical problems with the ALPS system.
The Fukushima Daiichi site, due its location, is subject to massive groundwater contamination which TEPCO has also failed to stop. Each week an additional 2-4000 tonnes of contaminated water is added to the storage tanks.
“The Japanese government and TEPCO set an objective of ‘solving’ the radioactive water crisis by 2020 – that was never credible. TEPCO has finally admitted that its ALPS technology has failed to reduce levels of strontium, and other hazardous radioactivity, to below regulatory limits,” said Shaun Burnie, nuclear specialist with Greenpeace Germany.
“The reality is there is no end to the water crisis at Fukushima, a crisis compounded by poor decision making by both TEPCO and the government. Discharging into the Pacific is the worst option and must be ruled out. The only viable option, and it’s not without risks, is the long term storage of this water in robust steel tanks over at least the next century, and the parallel development of water processing technology.”
Greenpeace offices are calling on the government and TEPCO to urgently reassess options for the long term management of highly contaminated water at Fukushima Daiichi. Paramount in any future decision making should be the protection of the environment and the interests of the those in the front line – the communities and fishing industries of Fukushima’s Pacific coast.
END
Photos and video can be accessed here
Notes:
“TEPCO Water Crisis” briefing can be accessed  here
Contact:
Shaun Burnie, senior nuclear specialist, Greenpeace Germany, sburnie@greenpeace.org – +49 151 6432 0548
Greenpeace International Press Desk, pressdesk.int@greenpeace.org, phone: +31 (0) 20 718 2470 (available 24 hours)

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

This woman is winning the fight for justice after Fukushima

11 March 2018
by Kazue Suzuki and Shaun Burnie
 
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Evacuee and Fukushima survivor, Mrs. Kanno, returns to her abandoned house nearly seven years after the nuclear accident.
 
On the seventh anniversary of the 2011 earthquake, tsunami and Fukushima nuclear accident, our thoughts and deepest sympathies continue to be with the people of Japan.
 
Every one of the tens of thousands evacuees from the 2011 Fukushima Daiichi triple reactor meltdown has a story to tell.
 
In our latest radiation survey we had the privilege to hear the experience of Mrs Mizue Kanno. As we entered the exclusion zone of Namie, Ms Kanno told us of the events seven years ago that were to change her life, her family and those of thousands of others.
 
Mrs Kanno was a social worker in Futaba less than 10 km from the nuclear plant. Eventually she made her way home after the devastating earthquake, and over the next few days thousands of people were evacuated to her home district of Tsushima. Families moved into her home. But soon they were warned by men in gas masks and protective clothing to get out immediately. The radioactive fallout from the nuclear plant, about 32 km away, had deposited high levels of contamination in this mountainous area of Namie.
 
Radiation Survey of Mrs. Kanno's House in Shimo-Tsushima
Evacuee and Fukushima survivor, Mrs. Kanno, watches Greenpeace radiation specialists Mai Suzuki and Laurence Bergot measure for contamination around her home located in the exclusion zone of Namie, Fukushima prefecture.
 
Mrs Kanno now lives in western Japan, many hundreds of kilometres from her home in Fukushima. While she is a victim of nuclear power, she isn’t passive observer – instead she’s a female activist determined to tell her story. She campaigns across the Kansai region against nuclear power and for renewable energy.
 
Like thousands of other evacuees, she has joined lawsuits filed against the Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO), and the Japanese government. Already found guilty in multiple court proceedings of being criminally negligent in failing to take measures to prevent the meltdown, TEPCO and the government can expect many more rulings against them.
 
Because of the support of Mrs Kanno and her friends and neighbours, Greenpeace has been able to conduct a wide ranging survey inside the exclusion zone of Namie, published in our report, Reflecting in Fukushima.
 
While our survey report is filled with microsieverts and millisieverts, it’s far more about the lives and the land of Mrs Kanno her family, friends and neighbours. http://www.greenpeace.org/japan/Global/japan/pdf/RefFksm_EN.pdf
 
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Closed entrance to Shimo-Tsushima school in the exclusion zone of Namie, Fukushima prefecture, Japan.
 
Measuring thousands of points around homes, forests and farmland, it’s clear that this is an area that should not be opened to the public for many decades. Yet the government opened a main artery, route 114, while we were working in Namie.
 
One consequence is that people are stopping off and visiting areas high in radiation. At one house, radiation hot spots were over 11 microsieverts per hour (μSv/h) at one meter, and 137μSv/hat 10 centimetres. These levels are thousands of times the background level before the nuclear accident, and mean you’d reach your recommended maximum annual exposure in six days.
 
Yet, two people were working 10 meters away from the hot spot with no dosimeters or protective clothing. Mrs Kanno and our radiation specialists explained the levels of contamination and why it was necessary to take precautions.
 
In one zone in Obori, we measured radiation that would expose a decontamination worker to the 1 mSv/y limit in just 10 working days. The whole area is contaminated to varying high levels that will remain a threat into next century. How could the government be thinking of opening this area as early as 2023? More importantly, why?
 
It’s actually simple and wholly cynical. The Japanese government is desperate to restart nuclear reactors. Today only three are operating. Having areas of Japan closed to human habitation because of radioactive contamination is a very major obstacle to the government’s ambitions to operate 30-35 nuclear reactors. It’s a constant reminder to the people of Japan of the risks and consequences of nuclear power.
 
Yet, there are signs of positive change. Last month a panel of experts established by the Foreign Minister called for a mass scaling up of renewables, and warned of the risks from depending on coal plants and nuclear power. The voices of Mrs Kanno, the other thousands of Fukushima evacuees and the majority of people in Japan, and their demand for a different energy future, will be heard.
 
Radiation Survey in Obori
Greenpeace radiation specialist Laurence Bergot in Obori, Namie Town inside the highly contaminated exclusion zone in Namie, Fukushima prefecture, Japan
 
Throughout our time in Namie, as we visited the highly contaminated area of Obori and Tsushima – quiet, remote areas of natural beauty – Mrs Kanno told us about the life and traditions of families who for generations had supported themselves by farming. Now all of them are displaced and scattered across Japan. Yet the government is failing to even acknowledge their rights under domestic and international human rights law.
 
This week, we will be traveling to Geneva with mothers who are evacuees from Fukushima to the United Nations Human Rights Council session on Japan. The Japanese government has been under pressure to stop its violations of the human rights of Fukushima evacuees. Last week it accepted all recommendations at the UN to respect the human rights of Fukushima citizens. This included the German government recommendation to restore to a maximum annual public exposure of 1 mSv. This global safety standard has been abandoned by the Abe government.
 
The government’s decision is important, but now they need to be implemented if they are genuine in their commitments to the United Nations. On the 16 March this year, Mrs Kanno and other evacuees and their lawyers will attend the Tokyo high court for a ruling on Fukushima against TEPCO and the Government. One of the evacuee mothers, Akiko Morimatsu, together with Greenpeace, on the same day will speak at the United Nations to challenge the Japanese government to now fully apply the UN recommendations.
 
While we will be thousands of kilometers apart, we will be with Mrs Kanno on her day in court in Tokyo and she will be with us in Geneva. The Fukushima nuclear disaster has shattered lives but it has also brought us together determined to prevent such a terrible event from ever happening again and to transition Japan to a secure and safe energy future based on renewables.
 
Kazue Suzuki is an Energy Campaigner at Greenpeace Japan and Shaun Burnie is a Senior Nuclear Specialist at Greenpeace Germany
 

March 15, 2018 Posted by | Fukushima 2018 | , , , , | Leave a comment

Reflection in Fukushima: The Fukushima Daiichi Accident Seven Years On

 

 
#7 Years of Fukushima Greenpeace Radiation Survey in Namie and Iitate towns.
Greenpeace radiation surveys of the Fukushima Prefecture area in September 2017 showed that while some of the area has levels close to the government decontamination target (0.23 micro-sieverts per hour) there were many areas which were higher, including above 5 microsieverts per hour.

 

March 2, 2018 Posted by | Fukushima 2018 | , , | Leave a comment

Radiation levels in Fukushima zones higher in 2017 than 2016, and still above government target despite cleanup: Greenpeace Japan

Look how the Japanese media are routinely censoring the news about the Fukushima situation.
In the first article  about the Greenpeace recent report, a short article published in Australia, are clearly stated:
1. Fukushima still has radiation 100 times higher than normal.
2. Greenpeace warned all areas surveyed, including those where people have been allowed to return, had levels of radiation similar to an active nuclear facility “requiring strict controls”, despite the fact that residents had lifted restrictions on access after years of decontamination efforts.
3. “This is public land. Citizens, including children and pregnant women returning to their contaminated homes, are at risk of receiving radiation doses equivalent to one chest X-ray every week.
4. This is unacceptable and a clear violation of their human rights,” Jan Vande Putte with Greenpeace Belgium, and leader of the survey, said.
In the second article about the Greenpeace recent report, a longer article published by the Japan Times in Japan, all those clearly stated 4 points have now disappeared, vanished, having been censored and left out, or spinned down, reduced, minimized such as:
1. “radiation 100 times higher than normal” becomes ” radiation levels higher than the government-set target of 0.23 microsieverts per hour, ranging from 0.2 to 0.8 microsieverts per hour” , meaning 4 times higher than the Japanese government-set target.
This is a typical example that shows you how the Japanese media, unfree from the Japanese government heavy censorship, have been for the past 7 years lying, hiding the true facts of the ongoing yet unsettled nuclear disaster in Fukushima, to the majority of the Japanese population.
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A member of Greenpeace checks radiation levels in the village of Iitate in Fukushima Prefecture last October. | GREENPEACE / VIA KYODO
March 1, 2018
Fukushima radiation still high: Greenpeace
A new report by Greenpeace says Fukushima, the sight of 2011’s nuclear accident after an earthquake, still has radiation 100 times higher than normal.
Greenpeace says towns in Japan’s Fukushima prefecture, close to the disaster-hit Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, are exposed to excessive levels of radiation.
In a report published on Thursday, Greenpeace warned all areas surveyed, including those where people have been allowed to return, had levels of radiation similar to an active nuclear facility “requiring strict controls”, despite the fact that residents had lifted restrictions on access after years of decontamination efforts.
“This is public land. Citizens, including children and pregnant women returning to their contaminated homes, are at risk of receiving radiation doses equivalent to one chest X-ray every week. This is unacceptable and a clear violation of their human rights,” Jan Vande Putte with Greenpeace Belgium, and leader of the survey, said.
Japanese authorities have said these areas are progressively returning to normality after the massive 9.1-magnitude earthquake and resulting tsunami which struck on March 11, 2011, triggering the nuclear disaster at Fukushima.
The survey said that in the towns of Namie and Iitate, located between 10 and 40 kilometres from the Fukushima Daiichi plant and where evacuation orders were partially lifted in March 2017, radiation levels continue to be “up to 100 times higher than the international limit for public exposure”.
Greenpeace also noted the “ineffectiveness of decontamination work” in these areas, saying there remained a “significant risk to health and safety for any returning evacuee”, adding that Tokyo’s policy of “effectively forcing people to return by ending housing and other financial support is not working”.
The Japanese government had said radiation levels in the reopened zones posed no risk to human health, noting that its data was corroborated by the country’s medical experts and organisations such as the United Nations Scientific Committee on the Effects of Atomic Radiation.
Considered the worst nuclear disaster since the 1986 Chernobyl disaster in Ukraine, the accident at Fukushima displaced tens of thousands of people, caused serious damage to the local economy.
Radiation levels in Fukushima zones higher in 2017 than 2016, and still above government target despite cleanup: Greenpeace Japan
Following the 2011 nuclear crisis, radiation levels at houses and areas nearby in a Fukushima village remain around three times higher than the government target despite cleanup work having been performed, an environmental group has said.
In some areas of the village of Iitate and the town of Namie, levels of radioactivity detected at some points among tens of thousands checked in surveys last September and October were higher than they had been the previous year, Greenpeace Japan said in a report released Thursday.
Most of the six houses surveyed in Iitate, located around 40 kilometers northwest of the crippled Fukushima No. 1 complex, logged radiation levels higher than the government-set target of 0.23 microsieverts per hour, ranging from 0.2 to 0.8 microsieverts per hour.
Some areas in the village had seen radiation levels rise from 2016, Greenpeace said. “There is a possibility (the environment) was contaminated again as radioactive materials that had accumulated in nearby forests may have moved around,” it said.
One house, located near a municipal office with slightly wooded areas nearby, marked lower radiation levels compared with the previous 2016 survey but levels at another five houses — which are near forests that have yet to be cleaned up — have remained almost the same.
The points surveyed covered areas in Iitate and Namie where evacuation orders have been lifted as well as some parts of Namie that remain designated as “difficult to return” zones following the Fukushima nuclear disaster, which was triggered by the massive March 2011 earthquake and tsunami.
The survey also showed that the effects of cleanup work conducted in 2011 and 2012 in the Tsushima district of Namie, located 40 km northwest of the Fukushima plant, had been limited, with one house there logging radiation levels of 5.8 microsieverts per hour at the highest readings and 1.3 microsieverts per hour on average.
The district is among areas designated as special reconstruction zones by the government. The state plans to carry out cleanup work and promote infrastructure development intensively at its expense to make such areas livable again.

March 1, 2018 Posted by | Fukushima 2018 | , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Nuclear Waste Crisis in Fukushima is a Human Rights Issue

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Nuclear waste storage area in Iitate, Fukushima prefecture in Japan (Oct 2017).
Traditional early morning Japanese breakfast, briefing on objectives, equipment check and drive into the beautiful mountainous forests of this region: this is the daily routine that will allow us to complete our latest investigation into the radiological status in some of the most contaminated areas of Fukushima prefecture.
But there is nothing normal about the routine in Fukushima.
Nearly seven years after the triple reactor meltdown, this unique nuclear crisis is still underway. Of the many complex issues resulting from the disaster, one in particular may have become routine but is anything but normal: the vast amounts of nuclear waste, stored and being transported across Fukushima prefecture.
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A satellite image shows damage at Fukushima I Nuclear Power Plant In Fukushima Prefecture (March 2011).
As a result of the Fukushima Daiichi accident, gases and particulates which vented into the atmosphere, led to radioactive fallout greater than 10,000 becquerels per square meter contaminating an estimated 8 percent, or 24,000 square kilometers, of the landmass of Japan. The highest concentrations (greater than 1 million becquerels per meter square) centered in an area more than than 400 square kilometers within Fukushima prefecture.
In the period 2013-14, the Japanese government set about a decontamination program with the objective of being able to lift evacuation orders in the Special Decontaminated Area (SDA) of Fukushima prefecture. Other areas of Fukushima and other prefectures where contamination was lower but significant were also subject to decontamination efforts in the so called Intensive Contamination Survey Area (ICSA).
Two areas of the SDA in particular were subject to concentrated efforts between 2014-2016, namely Iitate and Namie. A total of 24-28,000 people formally lived in these areas, with all evacuated in the days and months following the March 2011 disaster.
The decontamination program consisted of scraping, reverse tillage and removal of top soil from farmland, stripping and removal of soil from school yards, parks and gardens, trimming and cutting of contaminated trees and plants in a 20 meter area around peoples homes, and the same along a 10-15 meter strip either side of the roads, including into the nearby forests.
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Aerial view of nuclear waste storage area in the mountainous forests of Iitate, Fukushima prefecture in Japan (Oct 2017).
This program involved millions of work hours and tens of thousands workers (often Fukushima citizens displaced by the earthquake, tsunami and reactor meltdown), and often homeless and recruited off the streets of cities, and exploited for a wage of 70 dollars a day to work long hours in a radioactive environment. All this for a man-made nuclear disaster officially estimated at costing 21 trillion yen but with other estimates as high as 70 trillion yen.
As of March 2017, the decontamination program was officially declared complete and evacuation orders were lifted for the less contaminated areas of Namie and Iitate, so called area 2. The even higher radiation areas of Iitate and Namie, Area 3, and where no decontamination program has been applied, remain closed to habitation.
In terms of effectiveness, radiation levels in these decontaminated zones have been reduced in many areas but there are also multiple examples where levels remain significantly above the governments long range target levels. In addition to where decontamination has been only partially effective, the principle problem for Iitate and Namie is that the decontamination has created islands where levels have been reduced, but which are surrounded by land, and in particular, forested mountains, for which there is no possible decontamination. Forests make up more than 70% of these areas.
As a consequence, areas decontaminated are subject to recontamination through weathering processes and the natural water and lifecycle of trees and rivers. Given the half life of the principle radionuclide of concern – cesium-137 at 30 years – this will be an on-going source of significant recontamination for perhaps ten half lives – or 300 years.
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Greenpeace documents the ongoing radioactive decontamination work in Iitate district, Japan. The area is still contaminated since the March 2011 explosions at the Fukushima Dai-Ichi nuclear power plant (July 2015).
So apart from the decontamination not covering the largest areas of significant contamination in the forested mountains of Fukushima, and in reality only a small fraction of the total landmass of contaminated areas, the program has generated almost unimaginable volumes of nuclear waste. According to the Japanese Government Ministry of Environment in its September 2017 report, a total of 7.5 million nuclear waste bags (equal to 8.4 million m³) from within the SDA was in storage across Fukushima.
A further 6 million m³ of waste is generated in the ICSA within Fukushima prefecture (but not including waste produced from the wider ICSA which stretches from Iwati prefecture in the north to Chiba in the south on the outskirts of Tokyo). In total nuclear waste generated from decontamination is stored at over 1000 Temporary Storage Sites (TSS) and elsewhere at 141,000 locations across Fukushima.
The Government projects a total of 30 million m³ of waste will be generated, of which 10 million is to be incinerated, generating 1 million cubic meters of highly contaminated ash waste. Options to use some of the less contaminated waste in construction of walls and roads is actively under consideration.
Government policy is for all of this waste to be deposited at two sites north of the Fukushima Daiichi plant at Okuma and Futaba – both of which remain closed to habitation at present but which are targeted for limited resettlement as early as 2021. Although the facilities are not completed yet, they are supposed to be in operation only for 30 years – after which the waste is to be deposited in a permanent site. The reality is there is no prospects of this waste being moved to another permanent site anywhere else in Japan.
As we conducted our radiation survey work across Fukushima in September and October 2017, it was impossible not to witness the vast scale of both the waste storage areas and the volume of nuclear transports that are now underway. Again the numbers are numbing.
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Aerial view of a nuclear waste incinerator in Namie, Fukushima prefecture in Japan (Sept 2017).
In the space of one hour standing in a main street of Iitate village, six nuclear waste trucks passed us by. Not really surprising since in the year to October over 34,000 trucks moved nuclear waste across Fukushima to Okuma and Futaba. The target volume of waste to be moved to these sites in 2017 is 500,000 m³. And this is only the beginning. By 2020, the Government is planning for as much as 6.5 million m³ of nuclear waste to be transported to the Futaba and Okuma sites – a rough estimate would mean over one million nuclear transports in 2020.
On any measure this is insanity – and yet the thousands of citizens who formally lived in Namie and Iitate are expected and pressurized by the Japanese government to return to live amidst this nuclear disaster zone.
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A contaminated house being demolished in Namie town, Fukushima prefecture (Sept 2017).
Perhaps one of the most shocking experience in our visit to Fukushima was to witness a vast incineration complex hidden deep in the woods of southern Iitate and a nearby vast storage area with tens of thousands of waste bags surrounded on all sides by thick forests. The tragic irony of a multi-billion dollar and ultimately failed policy of decontamination that has unnecessarily exposed thousands of poorly protected and desperate workers to radiation – but which leads to a vast nuclear dump surrounded by a radioactive forest which that can never be decontaminated.
There is no logic to this, unless you are a trucking and incineration business and of course the Japanese government, desperate to create the myth of recovery after Fukushima. On this evidence there is no ‘after’, only ‘forever’.
This new abnormal in Fukushima is a direct result of the triple reactor meltdown and a cynical government policy that prioritizes the unattainable fantasy of effective radioactive decontamination, while de-prioritising the safety, health and well being of the people of Fukushima.
The nuclear waste crisis underway in Fukushima is only one of the many reasons why the Japanese government was under scrutiny at the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) in Geneva last month. Recommendations were submitted to the United Nations by the governments of Austria, Mexico, Portugal and Germany at the calling on the Japanese government to take further measures to support the evacuees of Fukushima, in particular women and children.
The Government in Tokyo is to announce its decision on whether it accepts or rejects these recommendations at the United Nations in March 2018. Greenpeace, together with other human rights groups and civil society in Japan are calling on the government to accept that it has failed to defend the rights of its citizens and to agree to implement corrective measures immediately.
Shaun Burnie is a senior nuclear specialist with Greenpeace Germany

December 23, 2017 Posted by | Fukushima 2017 | , , , | Leave a comment

No Return to Normal in Fukushima

 

Just 6 years ago Fukushima was struck by a deadly earthquake, and then a nuclear disaster. For the survivors, there’s been no return to normal.

March 15, 2017 Posted by | Fukushima 2017 | , , , , | Leave a comment

Stand in solidarity Defend the human rights of Fukushima survivors

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Disasters like Chernobyl and Fukushima remind the world how dangerous nuclear power is. But right now, the nuclear industry is trying to downplay the risks of a nuclear disaster. In Fukushima radiation exposure is still a very real threat despite failed “decontamination”.

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!

Sign now to demand the government provides fair compensation, housing support, and is fully transparent about the radiation risks.

We’ll deliver your signature to the Prime Minister so he hears the global wave of resistance against nuclear!

https://act.greenpeace.org/page/6288/petition/1?_ga=1.23785721.2131293321.1485515415

February 23, 2017 Posted by | Fukushima 2017 | , , , | Leave a comment

High radiation risks in Fukushima village as government prepares to lift evacuation order – Greenpeace

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Tokyo, 21 February 2017 – The Japanese government will soon lift evacuation orders for 6,000 citizens of iitate village in Fukushima prefecture where radiation levels in nearby forests are comparable to the current levels within the Chernobyl 30km exclusion zone – an area that more than 30 years after the accident remains formally closed to habitation. Seventy-five percent of Iitate is contaminated forested mountains.

A recent Greenpeace Japan led survey team found radiation dose rates at houses in the village of Iitate well above long-term government targets, with annual and lifetime exposure levels posing a long-term risk to citizens who may return. Evacuation orders will be lifted for Iitate no later than 31 March 2017, to be followed one year later by the termination of compensation payments.

“The relatively high radiation values, both inside and outside houses, show an unacceptable radiation risk for citizens if they were to return to Iitate. For citizens returning to their irradiated homes they are at risk of receiving radiation equivalent to one chest X-ray every week. This is not normal or acceptable,” said Ai Kashiwagi, energy campaigner with Greenpeace Japan [1].

As Japan nears the six years from beginning of the nuclear disaster, the Japanese government last week confirmed that it has not yet conducted any assessments of lifetime exposure risks for citizens if they were to return to Iitate.

The Greenpeace Japan survey results are based on thousands of real-time scanning measurements, including of houses spread over the Iitate region. This data was then used to calculate a weighted average around the houses, which were then computed to give annual exposure rates and over a lifetime of 70 years, taking into account radioactive isotope decay. The survey work also included soil sampling with analysis in an independent laboratory in Tokyo, the measurement of radiation hot spots and the recovery of personal dose badges that had been installed in two houses in February 2016.

For lifetime exposure due to external cesium radiation exposure, the dose range has been calculated, at between 39 mSv and 183 mSv, depending on either 8 or 12 hours per day spent outdoors, for citizens living at the houses over a 70 year period beginning in March 2017 [2]. Among the thousands of points Greenpeace Japan measured for each house, nearly all the radiation readings showed that the levels were far higher than the government’s long term decontamination target of 0.23µSv/h, which would give a dose of 1 mSv/yr.

The weighted average levels measured outside the house of Iitate citizen Toru Anzai was 0.7µSv/h, which would equal 2.5 mSv per year; even more concerning in addition, was the dose badges inside the house showed values in the range between 5.1 to 10.4mSv per year raising questions over the reliability of government estimates [3].

These levels far exceed the 1 mSv annual maximum limit recommended by the International Commission on Radiological Protection (ICRP) [4] , yet the decontamination program is being declared complete for the area that will have its evacuation order lifted next month.

“The government is not basing its policies on science or in the interest of protecting public health. It has failed to provide estimates of lifetime exposure rates for Iitate’s citizens, nor considered how re-contamination from forests will pose a threat for decades to come,” said Jan Vande Putte, radiation specialist with Greenpeace Belgium.

“The Abe government is attempting to create a false reality that six years after the start of the Fukushima Daiichi accident life is returning to normal. In the real world of today, and for decades to come, there is and will be nothing normal about the emergency radiological situation in Iitate,” said Vande Putte.

Greenpeace is demanding that the Japanese government provide full financial support to survivors, so that they are not forced to return for economic reasons. It must take measures to reduce radiation exposure to the absolute minimum to protect public health and allow citizens to decide whether to return or relocate free from duress and financial coercion.

Greenpeace has launched a public petition in solidarity in defense of human rights of Fukushima survivors.

Notes to Editors:

The report can be accessed here: “No Return to Normal”.

Photo and video is available here.

[1] X-ray dose rates range depend on multiple factors, including the equipment used and the patient. A typical dose per chest X-ray would be 0.05mSv, which if given each week would be 2.6 mSv over a year.

[2] These figures do not include natural radiation exposures expected over a lifetime, nor does it include the external and internal doses received during the days and weeks following the March 2011 Fukushima Daiichi nuclear accident. In the case of many citizens of Iitate, evacuation was both delayed and complex, the early-stage external radiation exposure estimated for the 1,812 villagers where estimations of external radiation dose average 7 mSv, with the highest being 23.5 mSv according to Imanaka. Internal exposure from consumption of contaminated food products is also not included.

[3] The government estimates that levels of radiation inside houses is 60 percent less than outside due to the shielding effect of the building. The Greenpeace results raise the possibility that this is not a reliable basis for estimating dose levels in houses.

[4] ICRP recommendations for the public, sets the maximum recommended dose for areas that are not affected by a nuclear accident at 1 mSv a year. However, the Japanese government set a condition that it is acceptable for the public to receive up to 20 mSv per year in Iitate, as a response to an emergency right after the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear accident.

http://www.greenpeace.org/international/en/press/releases/2017/Greenpeace-exposes-high-radiation-risks-in-Fukushima-village-as-government-prepares-to-lift-evacuation-order/

February 23, 2017 Posted by | Fukushima 2017 | , , , , | Leave a comment

Fukushima 6 Years After: No Return to Normal

 

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.

Source: http://fukushima.eu.org/fukushima-6-ans-apres-rapport-de-greenpeace/

Translation Hervé Courtois

February 22, 2017 Posted by | Fukushima 2017 | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

State Repression Against Greenpeace Antinuclear French Activist Yannick Rousselet

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Ouch … the incredible Yannick Rousselet, the campaigner at Greenpeace against Nukes, Yannick Rousselet, whose ideas and actions of genius are no longer counted, is now a government target.

As everywhere, the state/establishment when under pressure resorts to authoritarianism and force. In France, Greenpeace anti-nuclear activist,Yannick Rousselet, has had his house raided in the early hours of the morning…with the police pulling up outside in their black vans and taking photos (including family photos), computers, USBs, files etc. on the basis that Yannick has been threatening state defence secrets.

It’s what happens when your campaigns are successful enough to threaten the state

By Yannick Rousselet:

A few days ago, I informed you that I had been the victim of an act of “malevolence”. In fact, it was practiced by a state service, DGSI (Directorate General of Internal Security, the former DST).

Indeed, last Tuesday morning, these “good people” parked their black sedans in front of my home, donned their “police” armbands and came to search my family home.

They took all our digital media: phones, computers, internal and external hard drives, USB flash drives, SD cards. In this seizure, files related to our militant activities, but also all our photos and videos of families.

This is an investigation for “compromise of defense secrecy”, the initiative of which would come from the HFDS (Senior Defense and Security Official) and General Riac (National Nuclear Security Officer).

It is the Paris public prosecutor who is in charge of this investigation. They told me that I would be summoned for a police custody soon.”

December 19, 2016 Posted by | France | , , | 1 Comment

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Radiation along Fukushima rivers up to 200 times higher than Pacific Ocean seabed – Greenpeace

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Sediment Sampling at Lake Biwa in Japan: Mai Suzuki from Greenpeace Japan, removes sediment samples from the ROV grabber (Remote Operated Vehicle), at Lake Biwa. Greenpeace has been surveying lake Biwa to conduct baseline sampling. The lake is located as close as 30 km from the Takahama nuclear plant owned by Kansai Electric. In the event of a severe accident Lake Biwa would be at risk of major radioactive contamination. The lake provides the drinking water for 14,5 million people in Shiga Prefecture, the city of Kyoto and the wider Kansai region. The citizens of Shiga recently won a historic legal action that forced the immediate shutdown of Takahama reactor #3, Kansai electric is determined to overturn the legal action on appeal and restart both Takahama 3 and 4 reactor.

Tokyo, 21 July 2016 – Radioactive contamination in the seabed off the Fukushima coast is hundreds of times above pre-2011 levels, while contamination in local rivers is up to 200 times higher than ocean sediment, according to results from Greenpeace Japan survey work released  today.

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

These river samples were taken in areas where the Abe government is stating it is safe for people to live. But the results show there is no return to normal after this nuclear catastrophe,” said Kashiwagi.

Riverbank sediment samples taken along the Niida River in Minami Soma, measured as high as 29,800 Bq/kg for radiocaesium (Cs-134 and 137). The Niida samples were taken where there are no restrictions on people living, as were other river samples. At the estuary of the Abukuma River in Miyagi prefecture, which lies more than 90km north of the Fukushima Daiichi plant, levels measured in sediment samples were as high as 6,500 Bq/kg.

The lifting of evacuation orders in March 2017 for areas that remain highly contaminated is a looming human rights crisis and cannot be permitted to stand. The vast expanses of contaminated forests and freshwater systems will remain a perennial source of radioactivity for the foreseeable future, as these ecosystems cannot simply be decontaminated.

Caesium-137 has a half life of 30 years, and will continue to pose a risks to the the environment and human health for hundreds of years. Cs-137 contamination in seabed samples near the Fukushima plant was measured at up to 120 Bq/kg – compared to levels pre-2011 of 0.26 Bq/kg. Further, the levels of contamination found 60km south of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant were comparable with those found within 4km of the plant. Numerous marine science investigations, have concluded that these higher levels are one explanation for some marine species still showing higher cesium levels than the background levels in seawater.

The radiation levels in the sediment off the coast of Fukushima are low compared to land contamination, which is what we expected and consistent with other research,” said Kendra Ulrich, Senior Global Energy Campaigner at Greenpeace Japan. “The sheer size of the Pacific Ocean combined with powerful complex currents means the largest single release of radioactivity into the marine environment has led to the widespread dispersal of contamination.”

Most of the radioactivity in Fukushima Daiichi reactor units 1-3 core fuel in March 2011 remains at the site.

The scientific community must receive all necessary support to continue their research into the impacts of this disaster,” said Ulrich.

In addition to the ongoing contamination from forests and rivers, the vast amount of radioactivity onsite at the destroyed nuclear plant remains one of the greatest nuclear threats to Fukushima coastal communities and the Pacific Ocean. The hundreds of thousands of tonnes of highly contaminated water, the apparent failure of the ice wall to reduce groundwater contamination, and the unprecedented challenge of three molten reactor cores all add up to a nuclear crisis that is far from over,” said Ulrich.

A radiation survey team onboard the research vessel Asakaze, supported by the Greenpeace flagship Rainbow Warrior, conducted underwater survey work along the Fukushima coastline from 21 February to 11 March this year, as well collecting samples in river systems. The samples were measured at an independent laboratory in Tokyo.

Link to the report, Atomic Depths, can be found here http://www.greenpeace.org/japan/Global/japan/pdf/20160721_AtomicDepths_ENG.pdf

http://www.greenpeace.org/japan/ja/news/press/2016/pr201607211/

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Greenpeace Japan members carry out ROV (Remote Operated Vehicle) operations at Lake Biwa, Shiga Prefecture in Japan. Greenpeace has been surveying lake Biwa to conduct baseline sampling.

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

Greenpeace reports jump in radioactive contamination in Fukushima waterways

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Report on Ecological Impacts of the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Accident 5years Later

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The report is based on a large body of independent scientific research in impacted areas in the Fukushima region, as well as investigations by Greenpeace radiation specialists over the past five years. It exposes deeply flawed assumptions by the International Atomic Energy Agency and the Abe government in terms of both decontamination and ecosystem risks. It further draws on research on the environmental impact of the 1986 Chernobyl nuclear catastrophe as an indication of the potential future for contaminated areas in Japan.

The environmental impacts of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster will last decades to centuries, due to man-made, long-lived radioactive elements are absorbed into the living tissues of plants and animals and being recycled through food webs, and carried downstream to the Pacific Ocean by typhoons, snowmelt, and flooding.

Greenpeace has conducted 25 radiological investigations in Fukushima since March 2011. In 2015, it focused on the contamination of forested mountains in Iitate district, northwest of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant. Both Greenpeace and independent research have shown the movement of radioactivity from contaminated mountain watersheds, which can then enter coastal ecosystems. The Abukuma, one of Japan’s largest rivers which flows largely through Fukushima prefecture, is projected to discharge 111 TBq of 137Cs and 44 TBq of 134Cs, in the 100 years after the accident.

Read here >>

http://www.greenpeace.org/japan/ja/library/publication/20160304_report/

March 4, 2016 Posted by | Fukushima 2016 | , , , , | Leave a comment