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Fukushima Radiation Hotspots Raise Concerns Ahead of Tokyo Olympics

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

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

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

 

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

December 8, 2019

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

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

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

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

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

A Symbol of Fukushima’s Cleanup

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

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

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

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

An Unexpected Discovery

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

Weighing Options

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

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

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

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

Birth of a Public Relations Fiasco

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

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

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

 

03.jpgScreenshot of Greenpeace Japan’s website.

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

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

A Discreet Bombshell

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

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

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

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

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

Low-Key Media Coverage

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

Outside Japan: the Argentina Angle and the IOC

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

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

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

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

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

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

Author’s Analysis

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

High-level radiation hot spots found at J-Village, the starting point of Tokyo 2020 Olympic Torch Relay

1e892707-191026_j_villageThe Japan leg of the 2020 Tokyo Olympic torch relay will start at a the J-Village soccer facility in Fukushima Prefecture.

Tokyo, Japan, 4 December 2019 – High-level radiation hot spots have been found at the sports complex where the 2020 Tokyo Olympic torch relays will begin, according to a survey to be released by Greenpeace Japan. The radiation levels around J-Village Stadium in Fukushima Prefecture were as high as 71 microsieverts per hour at surface level. This is 1,775 times higher than the 0.04 microsieverts per hour prior to the Fukushima Daiichi triple reactor meltdown in 2011.

Greenpeace’s Nuclear Monitoring & Radiation Protection Advisors detected and documented several radiation hot spots on 26 October during its annual survey, which will be published in spring 2020. On 18 November, Greenpeace Japan sent a letter to Minister Koizumi of the Japanese Ministry of the Environment

, demanding immediate decontamination measures and assurance that the public will not be exposed to radiation hot spots during the Olympics and Paralympics events at J-Village. Copies were also sent to the President of the International Olympic Committee, as well as the Presidents of the International Paralympic Committee, Japanese Olympic and Paralympic Committees, and the Governor of Fukushima Prefecture, who is also the President of J-Village. 

Greenpeace has yet to receive a response from the Japanese government but is publicly releasing the information on the radiation hot spots due to an article published today (4 December) by Sankei Shimbun.

The article reports some details of Greenpeace Japan’s letter to the Japanese government and Olympic bodies, which was leaked to the media by an unknown official. The article states that the soil around the particular hotspot with 71 microsieverts per hour at surface level was removed by TEPCO yesterday (3 December).

While general radiation levels were low at the J-Village, these radiation hot spots are of significant public health concern. Radiation hot spots of such high levels can be found in the closed area around Fukushima (so-called Area 3), but should not be present in publicly accessible areas. Yet, they are at a location that has been the focus of an extensive decontamination program and is also the starting point for the Olympic torch relay in Japan. 

These radiation hot spots highlight both the scale of contamination caused by the Fukushima Daiichi disaster, and the failure of decontamination efforts. We have called on the Ministry of Environment to act urgently and to initiate immediate decontamination,” said Kazue Suzuki, Energy Campaigner at Greenpeace Japan. 

The radiation hot spots at the parking lot close to J-Village are of particular concern because they are located in an area that is currently visited by a large number of people. The highest figures were: 71µSv/h at contact, 32µSv/h at 10cm, 6µSv/h at 50cm and 1.7µSv/h at 1m, while the official Japanese government’s decontamination threshold is 0.23µSv/h. 

There is a risk that heavy rain will spread these higher levels of contamination on public roads, and thus re-contaminate already decontaminated surfaces. This could partially undo earlier efforts to decontaminate the public areas in J-Village. From our observations, it is unlikely that radiation hot spots of such high levels re-emerged from re-contamination after the previous decontamination. It is more logical that the decontamination was not sufficiently and thoroughly conducted in the first place,” said Shaun Burnie, Senior Nuclear Specialist at Greenpeace Germany and the team leader of the survey.

To protect public safety, Greenpeace Japan demands that the Japanese government conduct an immediate and extensive radiation survey of the public areas in and around J-Village and nearby Olympic/Paralympic venues. Furthermore, they should promptly conduct decontamination if further radiation hot spots are identified. Regular screenings of the radiation levels in J-Village should be also conducted to monitor possible re-contamination of public areas.

Greenpeace’s Nuclear Monitoring & Radiation Protection Advisors will soon re-test the J-Village to determine if subsequent decontamination attempts have been adequately conducted.

https://www.greenpeace.org/japan/uncategorized/press-release/2019/12/04/11770/?fbclid=IwAR2ipzVjeLhwCvAc4szkNbgg_tBfcL4SU7RM9eeLbY6Zt_W43D3qYfZSbHg

December 8, 2019 Posted by | fukushima 2019 | , , , | Leave a comment

OLYMPICS/ S. Korea to bring food, check for radiation at Tokyo Games

korea japan.jpg

December 4, 2019

SEOUL–South Korea’s Olympic committee plans to buy radiation detectors and ship homegrown ingredients to Japan for its athletes at the Tokyo Games because of worries local food may be contaminated by the 2011 Fukushima nuclear disaster.

Japan has posted data to show the country is safe from Fukushima radiation and many countries have lifted Fukushima-related food restrictions.

The Korea Sports & Olympic Committee (KSOC) plans to ship red pepper paste, a key ingredient in Korean dishes, and other foods, and check for radiation in meat and vegetables that can only be sourced locally due to stringent quarantine rules, a KSOC meals plan report shows.

“Apparently, ingredients and food will be transported from South Korea as much as possible, possibly including canned food,” Shin Dong-keun, a ruling Democratic Party member of the parliamentary sports committee who was recently briefed by KSOC, told Reuters in an interview.

“For this Olympic games, food is our team’s main focus so they can provide safe meals for the athletes to erase radiation worries, as opposed to in the past, food was meant to play the supplementary role of helping with their morale.”

KSOC plans to arrange local Korean restaurants to prepare meals for baseball and softball players competing in Fukushima, as shipping boxed lunches from Tokyo is not feasible, it said in the “2020 Tokyo Summer Olympics Meals Support Center Plan.”

“These Korean restaurants should only handle food confirmed as radiation free,”

The Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant, located about 220 kilometers northeast of Tokyo, was rocked by a magnitude 9.0 earthquake and subsequent tsunami in March 2011, sparking three reactor meltdowns.

More than 160,000 residents fled nearby towns in the aftermath as radiation from the reactors contaminated water, food and air.

RADIATION HOT SPOTS

Greenpeace said on Wednesday that radiation hot spots have been found at the J-Village sports facility in Fukushima where the Tokyo 2020 Olympic torch relay will begin.

South Korea has stepped up demands for a Japanese response to concerns food produced in the Fukushima area and nearby sea could be contaminated by radiation from the Fukushima plant.

Japan is having trouble removing more than 1 million tons of contaminated water from the crippled plant.

When it finalizes menus around April, the KSOC will consider asking Tokyo to ease its stringent quarantine ban on South Korean produce, an official at the committee said.

The official said South Korea was preparing a separate meals plan due to concerns from the public and politicians over food safety, unlike the United States and Australia whose athletes will mainly eat food provided by the host country, Japan.

The official requested anonymity due to the sensitivity of the matter.

South Korea’s concerns about possible contamination from the nuclear disaster has become a thorn in already contentious ties with Japan.

Seoul has banned imports of seafood from Japan’s Fukushima region since the nuclear disaster, prompting Tokyo to launch a World Trade Organization complaint. Japan has said many nations such as the United States and Australia had lifted or eased Fukushima-related restrictions.

Japanese officials use international events to promote the recovery of areas hit by the 2011 tsunami and nuclear disaster to show produce from Fukushima Prefecture is safe.

Mineral water from Fukushima was served on tables at the last month’s Group of 20 foreign ministers meeting it hosted in Nagoya.

The South Korean Olympic committee plan to purchase radiation detecting equipment by February and station an inspector at its own cafeteria in Tokyo during the games to check contamination levels, according to the KSOC report.

The budget for the Tokyo Olympics meals service is earmarked at 1.7 billion won ($1.44 million or 155 million yen), which includes twice the amount of money for buying and shipping ingredients than previous games, according to the committee.

http://www.asahi.com/ajw/articles/AJ201912040049.html?fbclid=IwAR1CWlV5oDPx_ROTX5jh4WMeFnTmh7rykUwnbPa3dPHgYGTPqZZUmicAUxo

December 8, 2019 Posted by | fukushima 2019 | , , , | Leave a comment

Olympics-Radiation hot spots found at Tokyo 2020 torch relay start – Greenpeace

1e892707-191026_j_village.pngJ-village

December 4, 2019

TOKYO, Dec 4 (Reuters) – Radiation hot spots have been found at the J-Village sports facility in Fukushima where the Tokyo 2020 Olympic torch relay will begin, Greenpeace Japan said on Wednesday.

Greenpeace found that radiation levels around the recently refurbished venue, which also hosted the Argentina team during the Rugby World Cup earlier this year, were significantly higher than before the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear reactor meltdown following the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami.

Greenpeace’s survey found radioactivity readings taken at J-Village on Oct. 26 as high as 71 microsieverts per hour at surface level.

People are exposed to natural radiation of 2,000-3,000 microsieverts a year, so anyone staying in the vicinity of J-Village for two or more days could be exposed to more than that.

These readings, although not deemed life-threatening if exposed for a short length of time, are 1,775 times higher than prior to the March 2011 disaster, according to the NGO.

The Olympic flame is due to arrive from Greece in Japan on March 20, with the torch relay officially starting from J-Village on March 26.

Greenpeace said in a statement that it had sent its findings to Japan’s Ministry of Environment, but had received no response.

“There is a risk that heavy rain will spread these higher levels of contamination on public roads, and thus re-contaminate already decontaminated surfaces,” warned Greenpeace nuclear specialist Shaun Burnie, team leader of the J-Village survey, in a statement.

An ministry official acknowledged to Reuters on Wednesday that the ministry had been alerted to higher radiation level readings in an area surrounding J-Village and that decontamination measures had been taken.

“The ministry cooperated with related groups to decrease radiation levels in that area,” said the official.

“On Dec. 3, Tokyo Electric Power (Tepco) took measures to decrease radiation levels in said area.”

The Fukushima Daiichi nuclear station, located about 220 km (130 miles) northeast of Tokyo, was rocked by a magnitude 9.0 earthquake and subsequent tsunami in March 2011, sparking three reactor meltdowns.

More than 160,000 residents fled nearby towns in the aftermath as radiation from the reactors contaminated water, food and air. Greenpeace called on the Japanese government to conduct more extensive radiation surveys in the area and the NGO planned to return to J-Village soon to “determine if subsequent decontamination attempts have been adequately conducted.”

Tokyo 2020 organisers could not be immediately reached for comment.

Worries that local food could be contaminated by the nuclear disaster has prompted plans by South Korea’s Olympic committee to buy radiation detectors and ship homegrown ingredients to Japan for its athletes at the Tokyo Games. (Additional reporting by Mari Saito; editing by Simon Cameron-Moore)

https://af.reuters.com/article/africaTech/idAFL8N28E0L7?fbclid=IwAR01no7I0LUG2acAbapUgk9ERcWBHsndxvGdEeC1mYvj_fEYJZ-SEHlEr6g

December 8, 2019 Posted by | fukushima 2019 | , , , , | Leave a comment

Radiation hotspots ‘found near Fukushima Olympic site’

Greenpeace calls for fresh monitoring of region where nuclear disaster occurred

 

1002.jpegThe Fukushima Daiichi power plant, which was the site of a nuclear disaster in 2011. Officials are keen to showcase the area’s recovery.

Wed 4 Dec 2019

Greenpeace has said it detected radiation hotspots near the starting point of the upcoming Olympic torch relay in Fukushima.

Japan’s environment ministry said the area was generally safe but it was in talks with local communities to survey the region before the 2020 Games, which open on 24 July.

The government is keen to use the Olympics to showcase Fukushima’s recovery from the 2011 tsunami. It intends to use J-Village, a sports complex located about 12 miles from the nuclear plant that was damaged in the disaster, as the starting point for the Japan leg of the torch relay taking place in March.

Originally designed as a training centre for athletes, J-Village functioned for years as a logistics hub for crews working to control and decommission the defunct reactors.

After a cleanup process, the sports centre became fully operational again in April this year, shortly after the torch relay decision.

Greenpeace urged fresh radiation monitoring and continued cleanup efforts, saying it had detected some spots with radiation levels as high as 1.7 microsieverts per hour when measured one metre above the surface.

This compared with the national safety standard of 0.23 microsieverts per hour, and a normal reading in Tokyo of about 0.04 microsieverts per hour. The hotspots showed a reading of 71 microsieverts per hour at the surface level, Greenpeace said.

However, J-Village’s website said the radiation reading at its main entrance was 0.111 microsieverts per hour on Wednesday, while one of its fields showed a reading of 0.085 microsieverts per hour.

The Tokyo Electric Power Company, which operates the Fukushima plant, said it cleaned the spots on Tuesday after the environment ministry told the firm about them.

Greenpeace said it relayed its findings to the Japanese government as well as local and international Olympic organisers. The group will publish a report of its findings in the region next year.

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2019/dec/04/radiation-hotspots-found-near-fukushima-olympic-site-greenpeace

December 8, 2019 Posted by | fukushima 2019 | , , , | Leave a comment

Hotspots in East Tokyo’s Mizumoto Park

detail_a10c97eba47e1a8a483e6eaf1ef8fe12
November 12, 2019
The soil of 12 out of 29 spots in Mizumoto Park (Katsushika-ward, Tokyo city) recorded more than 8000 Bq/kg of radioactive cesium. The highest measurement was over 42,000 Bq/kg.
水元公園かわせみの里残土 地図 Sample115
Here is another measurement data of the highest spot in the Park, which was recorded by a local volunteer in March 2019.

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

Citizens Group Leader in Kashiwa Radiation Hotspot Quits

Kashiwa city, in Chiba prefecture is located 31.3 km ( 19.45 miles ) northeast from Tokyo.

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August 16, 2019

The leader of a Citizens’ Group to Protect Children from Hotspot Radiation in Kashiwa city, Chiba, decided to suspend its activities.

Mrs. Yuki Ohsaku, representative of the group evacuated recently to Kyushu after her two children started nosebleeding and other core members also are considering moving out of Kashiwa city. 10 members have already relocated.

In May the Kashiwa mayor wrote in his blog that those worried about the effects of radiation have some kind of mental problems. Kashiwa city originally had no plan to conduct any survey after citizens reported high radiation levels. Mrs. Ohsaku’s group collected over 10,000 signatures and submitted the petition to the City Council with 100 members, and this made the Kashiwa city start measuring radiation levels in schools and do decontamination work.

However, the group’s activities and her relocation with two children to Kyushu caused lots of problems within her family. Her in-laws are not happy that she is disobeying the authorities and that her name gets published (since she is the group leader). Now the in-laws are demanding that she divorce her husband. She says that old and middle-aged people in general have absolute confidence in the printed media as their news source, and what’s not reported in the newspapers is not conceived as reality.

The mainstream media (including newspapers) has the least coverage on health effects of radiation and only report the government’s “adjusted” radiation levels. Yomiuri News even wrote in May that the information about hotspots in Chiba are based on false rumours and that they doesn’t exist. (Matsutaro Shoriki, ex-president of Yomiuri was a CIA agent and is called the father of nuclear power in Japan according to Wikipedia.) She says her in-laws believe in the Yomiuri report.

Only those collecting information from internet sources are aware of what is really going on regarding radiation issues in Japan. As a result, there the public have split opinions on this subject.

Mrs. Ohsaku says the conflict of opinions on radiation issues has been harder to deal with than the radiation itself. Many people around her chose not to think about it and neighbors don’t want her to make it a big issue. Some members of her group are tired of being ridiculed as “freaks”. Her group wants decontamination but others in the hotspot thinks it’s waste of money. They say “Let’s not worry about it. Think of people in Fukushima. They live in an even worse environment than us.”

https://blog.safecast.org/2011/08/citizens-group-leader/

August 22, 2019 Posted by | fukushima 2019 | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

No way to find hot spots with dosimeter at 1m from the ground

Special thanks for their very important work to Kurumi Sugita of the Fukushima 311 Voices Blog and to Mr Yoichi Ozawa of the citizen’s measurement group named the “Fukuichi Area Environmental Radiation Monitoring Project“.
We have published several articles in this blog saying that to protect the population the Japanese goverment should take into account the soil contamination as well as the radiation dose in the air.  The policy to open the evacuation zones and encourage the population to return to live there (with the end of financial compensation and relocation aid) is based only on the airborn radiation dose measurements (the evacuation order is lifted when the radiation dose is under 20mSv/year).  We have been saying that this is very dangerous, even  criminal, for the air radiation dose rate (indicating the amount of radioactive dose received by a person within a certin period time) is useful with a well-identfied fixed source of radiation, but is not adequate to reveal the overall environmental contamination after a nuclear accident. It doesn’t account for the internal radiation exposure induced health hazards (note 1).
Now we would like to point out another problem related to hotspots: it is nearly impossible to find hotspots by the usual measuring practice of the airborn radiation dose rate (in sieverts per unit of time).  To illustrate this difficulty, we are translating here a Facebook post of Mr Yoichi Ozawa of the citizen’s measurement group named the “Fukuichi Area Environmental Radiation Monitoring Project“.
 
Here are the radiation dose rates, captured vertically above a highly radioactive substance (“black substance” or “black dust”) of 4,120,000 Bq/kg, measuring 79 μ Sv/h.
Below are measurements at different distances from the ground.
5cm:9.112 μSv/h
50cm:0.630 μSv/h
1m:0.251 μSv/h
Nov 30 2017.jpg
Conclusion: it is impossible to discover micro-hotspots right under your feet when you walk around measuring radiation doses at 1m of distance from the ground.
Measuring device:
Aloka TCS172B
Measurements carried out by Mr Yoichi Ozawa.
For 0cm from the ground, Aloka TCS172B, which cannot measure over 30µSv/h, was replaced by Polimaster PM1703M and Radex RD1706. The value is the average of the measurements of these two devices.  
 
Here is the video of the measurement.
As we can see from the graph above, the value in terms of Sieverts decreases drastically with the distance from the ground. At 1m, which is the usual reference height to measure the radiation dose rate, the value becomes very small even with the soil of over 4 million Bq/kg, which is absolutely enormous (note 2).
Some readers might be familiar with the image of a Japanese citizen measuring  radioactivity with a device at about 1m from the ground. This practice, almost unknown before the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear accident, has become widespread among citizens, although it has become rather a rare practice nowadays as many people have more or less become accustomed to live with radiation. Besides the fact that it is hard to live a life worrying about radiation around the clock and some people prefer to stop thinking about it, this “normalisation” of radiation is strongly enforced by a governmental security campaign. One of the methods employed is to focus on the external irradiation risk, neglecting the internal irradiation risk, by spreading the knowledge and data only in terms of the radiation dose in the air (measured by Sieverts), at the expense of other measurements such as the radiocontamination density in soil (surface contamination density in terms of Becquerel/unit of surface).
One of the now well-known problems of radiocontamination of the environment is that the contamination is not homogeneous, but dispersed with what is called a hot spot. This is a serious problem for the population, as the absorption of radioative particles contained in these hot spots can cause internal irradiation related health damage. And as we see above, it is extremely difficult to detect these hotspots, from 1m and above, even with the extremely highly contaminated substance such as “black dust”.
It is widespread belief among the public that if the value of the airborn radiation dose at 1m from the ground is under 0.23µSv/h (note 3), it is safe. This value, diffused by the authorities as well as by media, is indeed applied as the lower limit to carry out decontamination work.  Yet, as we have seen, even with the extremely highly contaminated substance such as “black dust”, at 1m, the radiation dose is only 0.25µSv/h, that is to say, only slightly over the limit of the 0.23µSv/h, which is believed to be the “safety level”.
It is unfortunate to say that for most of the residents taking the measurements of the airborn radiation dose by themselves, the values they observe have become rather an “encouraging” factor to continue living there or to return to live, than an alarming factor, as these values do not reveal but rather conceal the presence of hotspots which can cause internal radiation exposure induced health damage.
It is difficult to find hotspots anyway.  So when the soil contamination is high (see the concentration maps in this blog, for Namie, Minamisoma), it is better to keep the zone closed, continuing to aid the evacuated people.
 
Note 1: In opposition to the external radiation exposure which occurs when the human body is exposed to an external source, the internal radiation exposure is an exposure from inside the body due to the incorporation of radioactive particles through ingestion, inhalation or adhesion to skin.
Note 2: This extremely high level of contamination is understandable, for what is measured here is the infamous “black substance” or “black dust”, a kind of Cyanobacteria, about which we invite you to listen to podocast of Marco Kaltofen with English transcription.
Note 3: In fact, the 0.23µSv/h value is problematic in itself.  This is based on the 1mSv/year value following the ICRP (International Commission on Radiological Protection) recommendations on the public health.  However,  the 0.23µSv/h value is not the result of a simple division of 1mSv by 365 days x 24 hours. The calculation of 0.23µSv/h presupposes that people stay inside for 16 hours/day and that the radiation is reduced by 60% because of the building structure.  Then, the background of 0.04µSv/h is added. (1000µSv÷365÷(8 + 〈16×0.4〉) + 0.04  But in the real life in rural areas such as Fukushima, people spend more time outdoors.  Besides, some recent research has shown that in some cases the radiation dose can be higher indoors than outdoors because of the infiltration of hot particles. Thus, the reality is much more complex to apply uniformly the value of 0.23µSv/h as a safety threshhold. Lastly, many people in Fukushima were victimes of the initial exposure right after the accident. For such population, any exposure, whatever the quantity is, is to be avoided.

December 1, 2017 Posted by | Fukushima 2017 | , , , | Leave a comment

Radiation Hotspots Near Tokyo

From Sugar Nat

Present radiation hotspots in Nagareyama city, Chiba Prefecture (near Tokyo)

 

20992938_1763450760350341_7588483373692891717_n

Measure taken at 1m from the ground : 0.57μSv/h

 

21032739_1763450793683671_4221181375008795887_n

Measure taken at 50cm from the ground : 0.89μSv/h

 

20953963_1763452647016819_2203591793701310620_n

Measure taken at ground level : 2.17μSv/h

 

Read more in Japanese :

http://hotspot-i-t.blogspot.fr/2017/06/blog-post_11.html?m=1

August 24, 2017 Posted by | Fukushima 2017 | , , | Leave a comment

0.24 to 0.72 microsievert per hour at five schools in Kashiwa city, 47km from Tokyo

Capture du 2017-06-12 17-21-21

 

In January 2017, the Chiba Prefectural Board of Education was notified that radiation above the national standard level was measured at the Kashiwa city central gymnasium.

Following that report the Chiba Prefectural Board of Education conducted an investigation in Kashiwa city from late April to the middle of May 2017.

A radiation level exceeding the national standard of 0.23 microsievert per hour was detected on the premises of five schools in Kashiwa City, The radiation measured at 1 meter above ground level ranged from 0.24 to 0.72 microsievert.

At Kashiwa High School, Higashi Tsukuba High School and Middle School, Kashiwa Chuo High School, Kashiwanami High School and Kusanami Takayanagi High School, at places where usually no one enters: near a pool, at the back of a bicycle parking lot, etc..

The prefectural Board of Education decided to cordon those hot spots, to prohibit the entry and to decontaminate those places by soil removal.

They are also planning to conduct a radiation levels survey to the schools outside of Kashiwa city.

http://www3.nhk.or.jp/news/html/20170612/k10011015111000.html

 

Capture du 2017-06-12 20-07-17

Kashiwa city, 47.1km from Tokyo

June 12, 2017 Posted by | Japan | , , , | Leave a comment

Hot Spots in the 5th Year Over 20μSv h in Fukushima city Feb. 23, 2016

Here is the video made by Masa in Fukushima and his group. The video is available in English. This is the reality of 5 years after the nuclear accident. The area in the video is going to be “de-contaminated” in this coming spring, 2016.
Despite that there are numerous hot spots in school routes and parks, Masa says that in Fukushima, nobody talks about radiation anymore.
In the 5th year since the Fukushima nuclear accident, we found hotspots on the riverbed in Fukushima city. They exceeded 20μSv/h. We examine the present FUKUSHIMA which is facing the micro-hot-spots phenomena.

February 28, 2016 Posted by | Fukushima 2016 | , , , | Leave a comment