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The News That Matters about the Nuclear Industry

Contractor overcharging Iwaki, Tamura for decontamination workers’ lodging expenses in Fukushima

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A construction company on Friday disclosed that has been padding the lodging bills of the decontamination workers involved in decommissioning work related to the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant in Fukushima Prefecture.

Hazama Ando Corp. said an internal probe had found that one of its employees instructed a subcontractor to overcharge the Iwaki and Tamura municipal governments by a combined ¥80 million (around $724,770) and to make it appear that more workers were involved. Receipts for their lodging expenses were found to have been altered.

The central government is helping prefectural and municipal governments decontaminate areas tainted by fallout from the triple core meltdown at the Fukushima No. 1 plant in March 2011.

The contractors secure related work orders from both sectors, but the main contractors customarily shoulder the expenses of the subcontractors, after which the state reimburses them and asks Tokyo Electric Power Co. Holdings Inc. to foot the bill.

Toshiaki Nomura, president of the Tokyo-based construction company, apologized for the incident, which involved the padding of bills related to both decontamination and radiation monitoring in the two cities, which are both around 40 km from the crippled complex.

The company was found to have overcharged Iwaki by an estimated ¥53 million and Tamura by around ¥27 million and to have overstated the number of workers mobilized.

Hazama Ando charged Iwaki ¥7,500 per overnight stay instead of ¥5,000, and stated that around 15,000 workers were involved instead of the actual 11,000.

The Tamura Municipal Government was charged ¥5,500 per person for accommodation, or ¥500 higher than the actual amount, and was told that 10,000 workers were involved rather than 5,600.

Hazama Ando is looking into why an employee instructed a subcontractor to overcharge for accommodations and make it appear that more workers were involved. The employee in question has told the company he had acted “haphazardly.”

http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2017/06/09/national/contractor-overcharging-iwaki-tamura-decontamination-workers-lodging-expenses-fukushima/#.WTxByzekLrc

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June 11, 2017 Posted by | Fukushima 2017 | , | Leave a comment

Japan’s post-tsunami recovery plan: tomatoes, fish and hula-dancing

Six years after the Fukushima disaster, local government is working with private firms in one Japanese city to rebuild its economy

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Tomatoes growing in Japan’s Wonder Farm as part of Iwaki City’s reconstruction efforts after the 2011 earthquake and tsunami.

It’s a cold January day in Iwaki City, 211km north of Tokyo. But here, in a balmy glasshouse, light and sunny, pop music is being piped in, and tonnes of tomatoes are ripening and being picked.

They’re not in the ground; they’re being grown from waist-high pots of coconut matting. These are no ordinary tomatoes. They are growing on Wonder Farm, an “integrated agricultural theme park”, run by Tomato Land Iwaki, which is part-funded by the local city council and the Fukushima prefecture.

But another of the Wonder Farm partners is train firm Japan Rail East, which sells the tomatoes via its own restaurants. Because these small red fruits are part of plans by the local city government and local businesses to reinvigorate the local Iwaki economy after the devastating impact of the March 2011 earthquake, tsunami and nuclear disaster at the Fukushima Daiichi reactor, a mere 50km up the coast.

After such a cataclysmic series of events, rebuilding an economy based on fishing, agriculture and tourism is not easy. It requires some innovative thinking. Luckily, that’s something with which this area is already familiar. Fifty years ago, another of its industries, coal mining, faced decline. Here in Iwaki City, the Joban coal mining company came up with a novel idea. It retrained coal miners’ daughters as hula dancers and created the Spa Resort Hawaiians, Japan’s first theme park, which from its opening in 1966 until the events of March 2011, attracted thousands of visitors a year to its array of pleasures, including golf, a huge swimming pool and hot springs centre, and, of course, hula dancing and fire knife displays.

We were driven by the need to survive,” explains Yukio Sakamoto, a director at the Joban coal mining company. “Yes, it was a radical change, but it was a success because everyone in the company focused on the plan. It wasn’t about knowledge or expertise, but mindset.” The idea faced considerable opposition: “People said coal miners should just dig coal. But we trained the daughters of coal miners as professional dancers.”

That kind of ingenuity has been called for even more since 2011 in this part of Japan. It’s been hard work for everyone involved to try and get visitors back to the region and to restart the market for local food and produce. The city government has worked with regional and national bodies to measure radioactivity levels in local produce, and the figures are publicly available. But rebuilding trust that food from Fukushima is safe has been slow. The local fish market may be open, but almost all its stock is from elsewhere in the country.

Still, at least it is open and Senzaka Yoshio, one of the officers at the La Mew Mew fish market, which was badly damaged by the earthquake and tsunami, says visitor levels are now back up to 80% of the pre-disaster days.

Further along the quay from the fish market are more fish. Live ones, this time, in the spacious tanks of the Fukushima Aquarium. When the tsunami hit, this aquarium lost 90% of its creatures. It reopened just four months later, in July 2011, a feat possible, according to executive director Yoshitaka Abe, due to teamwork, local leadership and co-operation with other aquarium authorities, who sent specialists and volunteers to help with the reconstruction work.

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The Fukushima aquarium, which reopened just four months after the tsunami of March 2011.

For Sakamoto, at the Spa Resort Hawaiians, overcoming the 2011 disaster has been about local people. The resort has brought more than 9,500 jobs to the area. On the day of the earthquake, there were 617 guests in the hotel. All got safely home. But many employees lost family members and homes. “We continue our operation thinking about the people who suffered,” he says. “Our main idea was not to fire people because of the difficulty in the business, but to redeploy them.”

https://www.theguardian.com/public-leaders-network/2017/feb/02/japan-fukushima-tsunami-tomatoes-fish-hula-dancing

February 3, 2017 Posted by | Fukushima 2017 | , , | Leave a comment

Futaba daruma a symbol of hope, nostalgia for Fukushima

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

Tsunami Evacuation Hindered by Traffic in Iwaki

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Some residents who attempted to drive to higher ground after tsunami warnings in northeastern Japan early Tuesday found themselves caught in traffic.

An official of Iwaki City, Fukushima Prefecture, says a main road from the coastal district to inland areas was filled with cars apparently trying to evacuate.

The official says he saw many cars carrying entire families and that the traffic congestion was unusual for that time of day. He says the atmosphere was tense, as the residents were apparently reminded of the March 2011 tsunami.

He called on residents not to use their cars if they are able to evacuate on foot, as part of the road is designated as an area that could be submerged in the event of a tsunami.

In Ishinomaki City, Miyagi Prefecture, more than 100 people evacuated to a park on higher ground.

But a narrow road leading to the park soon became jammed.

Some drivers parked their cars on the roadside, hindering others from getting by. Traffic was backed up for a long way as a result.

The city has been asking residents to evacuate on foot in principle.

http://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/en/news/20161122_45/

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

Men Over 30 Whole-Body Counter Examination increasing at Iwaki city Mothers Radiation Lab

Since 2014 the number of men over 30 years old having whole body counter examination(Radioactivity measurement of the whole body) is increasing at the Tarachine Mothers Radiation Lab in Iwaki city, Fukushima,. Most of them are decontamination workers.

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Whole-body counter men examinees breakdown by age.

 

Source :https://www.facebook.com/tarachineiwaki/photos/a.484265838311515.1073741828.475326345872131/1194151407322951/?type=3&theater

 

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

Mother’s Radiation Lab & Clinic in Iwaki, Fukushima

A radiation measuring center organized and run by independent citizens, after being lied, betrayed and abandoned by the Japanese Government.

 

About them :

http://www.iwakisokuteishitu.com/english/aboutus.html

Here is the page of Tarachine in English with donation information using PayPal.

Iwaki Radiation Measuring Center NPO “Tarachine”

http://www.iwakisokuteishitu.com/english/e-donations.html

And some of their participating actions:

http://www.kuminosato.com/

Fukushima Children Fund

https://dunrenard.wordpress.com/2016/09/25/fukushima-children-fund/

East Japan Soil Measurement Project of Minna no Data, Dec.2015 to Sept. 2016

https://dunrenard.wordpress.com/2016/09/26/east-japan-soil-measurement-project-of-minna-no-data-dec-2015-to-sept-2016/

 

October 20, 2016 Posted by | Fukushima 2016 | , , , , | Leave a comment

Fire destroys Fukushima nuclear disaster evacuee housing

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Fueled by strong winds, fire engulfs temporary housing at the Yoshima industrial park in Iwaki, Fukushima Prefecture, on Oct. 6, 2016.

IWAKI, Fukushima — A fire on Oct. 6 destroyed temporary housing for residents of Okuma, Fukushima Prefecture, who evacuated here due to the Fukushima No. 1 Nuclear Power Plant disaster, police said.

The fire broke out at around 4:25 p.m. and destroyed 19 homes in four single-story, prefabricated wooden buildings at the Yoshima industrial park in Iwaki. According to prefectural police, a 16-year-old boy was treated for smoke inhalation. The Okuma Municipal Government will supply the five households that lost their residences with housing elsewhere.

There were 72 households living in 86 of the 31-building complex’s 122 residences. Some 90 percent of Okuma residents’ original homes are within a nuclear disaster no-go zone around the Fukushima plant, and it is unknown when those living in the Yoshima industrial park might be able to return to the town.

Sho Tsukamoto, 29, an employee of a construction company who lost his residence and his possessions in the fire, said, “I even lost the picture of my dead father and other photos of my family that I brought from Okuma.”

http://mainichi.jp/english/articles/20161007/p2a/00m/0na/006000c

October 7, 2016 Posted by | Fukushima 2016 | , , , | Leave a comment

Iwaki mayor makes formal request for city to host baseball, softball games during 2020 Olympics

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Iwaki Mayor Toshio Shimizu on Friday presented a request to 2020 Tokyo Olympic organizers, seeking to host a baseball game and a softball game in the city in Fukushima Prefecture.

Shimizu submitted the request to Yoshiro Mori, president of the Tokyo Olympic and Paralympic organizing committee, and Toshiei Mizuochi, senior vice minister of both the sports ministry and the Cabinet Office.

The request comes as Tokyo Olympic organizers are arranging to stage one first-round game each for baseball and softball in Fukushima Prefecture, one of the areas hardest hit by the 2011 earthquake and tsunami disaster, as part of reconstruction efforts.

They are said to be considering Iwaki, Fukushima and Koriyama cities as candidate sites.

The Iwaki municipal government wants the games played at Iwaki Green Stadium, which is occasionally used for Japanese professional baseball games and was the venue of the Under-15 World Cup baseball competition in July and August.

Shimizu expressed hope that the stadium will be chosen as an Olympic venue as that would “give hope and courage” to survivors of the quake and tsunami which also triggered a nuclear accident in the prefecture.

The main ballpark for the 2020 Summer Games is set to be Yokohama Stadium in Kanagawa Prefecture.

In the request, Shimizu and the mayors of eight nearby towns and villages are also requesting that the Olympic torch relay run on National Route 6 in the coastal area of Fukushima Prefecture.

http://www.japantimes.co.jp/sports/2016/09/09/olympics/iwaki-mayor-makes-formal-request-for-city-to-host-baseball-softball-games-during-2020-olympics/#.V9L7VTX8-M8

September 9, 2016 Posted by | Fukushima 2016 | , , , | Leave a comment

Living with radiation in Fukushima

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In Iwaki city, Fukushima, the Tarachine “screening center” is a fully independent citizen laboratory, well equipped and employing qualified technicians to help the Fukushima population with anything involving radiation measuring or contamination testing.

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For a minor fee people can come to the Tarachine screening clinic to have their foods tested, but also their house lot soil tested, or even the vacuumed dust of their house tested.

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The Tarachine screening center fulfill a very important role for the Fukushima families, as families do not have the means to acquire all the necessary expensive equipment nor the technical qualifications.

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As the Japanese government does not provide such vital service nor could be trusted with radiation measure numbers, some citizens organized themselves to set up such laboratories. There are at present about 100 such laboratories which have spread up, but Tarachine is certainly the most efficient and fully equipped for various types of radiation measures.

For example, since in a lot of places very young children cannot anymore play outside safely, but are kept to play indoors, it is therefore vital for the mothers to constantly control the level of contamination inside their house,  thus they bring to the Tarachine center their vacuumed dust to be measured.

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As an example this mother having brought her house vacuumed dust to be analyzed learned that it is contaminated by 4400 Bq/kg of Cesium 137, 718 Bq/kg of Cesium 134 and 1950 Bq/kg of Potassium 40, thus a total contamination of 5158 Bq/kg. The levels of Cesium 137 and Cesium 134 have too high, 4 times higher than the advised contaminated threshold and could therefore be harmful to the persons living in that house, especially  for children.

 

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As a comparison, you may see vaccumed dust from 3 different locations, one in Iwaki, Fukushima, one in Chiba, nearby Tokyo, and one in Vancouver, British Columbia,Canada:

Vacuum House Dust in Fukushima (Iwaki)
Cs 137 4440 Bq/kg
Cs 134 718 Bq/kg
Vacuum House dust in Chiba (Makuhari)
Cs 137 137Bq/kg(± 2%)
Cs 134 27Bq/kg(± 5%)
Vacuum House dust in Vancouver, BC
Cs 137 <1.08Bq/kg
Cs 134 <0.86bq/kg

 

The Japanese government during the past 5 years has constantly lied to the Fukushima population about the harmful radiation risks, condemning the people to stay and live with radiation. Consequently citizens have learned to rely only on their own for radiation measuring and protection.

 

 

https://www.actbeyondtrust.org/campaign/pledge/tarachine/jp/

Contact adress: Tarachine Screening center

Onahama hanabatake-cho 11-3, Iwaki city, Fukushima Prefecture, Japan

Tel: 0246‐92‐2526

 

 

 

 

June 25, 2016 Posted by | Fukushima 2016 | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Radioactive Dust Vacuumed in Iwaki House

Cs 137 4440 Bq/kg
Cs 134 718 Bq/kg

 

 

40,26 km from Fukushima Daiichi to Iwaki city

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June 17, 2016 Posted by | Fukushima 2016 | , , , , | Leave a comment

The mothers who set up a radiation lab

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Five years ago an earthquake off the coast of Japan triggered a tsunami and a series of meltdowns at the Fukushima nuclear plant. Kaori Suzuki’s home is nearby – determined to stay, but worried about her children’s health, she and some other mothers set up a laboratory to measure radiation.

A woman in a white lab coat puts some yellow organic material on a slide, while grey liquid bubbles in vials behind her. Other women, one of them heavily pregnant, discuss some data on a computer screen. A courier delivers a small parcel which is opened and its contents catalogued.

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But this is no ordinary laboratory. None of these women trained as scientists. One used to be a beautician, another was a hairdresser, yet another used to work in an office. Together they set up a non-profit organisation – Tarachine – to measure radiation in the city of Iwaki, 50km (30 miles) down the coast from the Fukushima nuclear plant.

Kaori Suzuki, the lab’s director, shows me a list of results. “This is the level of strontium 90 in Niboshi, dried small sardines, from the prefecture of Chiba,” she says.

“What about this food?” I ask, pointing out a high number.

“Mushrooms have higher levels [of radiation]. The government has forbidden people from eating wild mushrooms, but many people don’t care, they take them and eat,” she says.

The lab mainly measures the radioactive isotopes caesium 134 and 137, and collects data on gamma radiation. Strontium 90 and tritium were only added to the list in April last year. “Since they emit beta rays we weren’t able to detect them until recently. Specific tools were necessary and we couldn’t afford them,” says Suzuki. Thanks to a generous donation, they now have the right equipment.

Tarachine publishes its findings online every month, and advises people to avoid foods with high readings as well as the places they were grown.

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Five years ago, Suzuki knew nothing about radiation. She spent her time looking after her two children and teaching yoga. The earthquake on 11 March 2011 changed everything.

“I’ve never experienced so much shaking before and I was very scared. Right from the moment it started I had a feeling that something might have happened to the nuclear plant,” she says. “The first thing I did was to fill up my car with petrol. I vividly remember that moment.”

The authorities evacuated the area around the nuclear plant – everyone within a 20km (12-mile) radius was told to leave, and those who lived up to 30km (18 miles) away were instructed to stay indoors. Despite living outside the exclusion zone, Suzuki and her family fled and drove south. The roads were congested with cars and petrol stations ran dry.

“We didn’t come back home until the middle of April and even then we wondered if it was safe to stay,” says Suzuki. “But my husband has his own business with 70 employees, so we felt we couldn’t leave.”

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Although radiation levels in Iwaki were officially quite low, the “invisible enemy” was all people could talk about. Conversations with friends changed abruptly from being about children, food and fashion, to one topic only: radiation. “You can’t see, smell or feel it, so it is something people are afraid of,” says Suzuki.

Above all, people didn’t know what was safe to eat.

“It was a matter of life and death,” she says.

Fukushima is farming country and many people grow their own vegetables. “People here love to eat home-grown food and there’s a strong sense of community with people offering food to their friends and neighbours,” says Suzuki. This caused a lot of anxiety. “A difficult situation would arise where grandparents would be growing food, but younger mothers would be worried about giving it to their children.”

Suzuki formed the group “Iwaki Action Mama” together with other mothers in the area. At first they organised demonstrations against nuclear power, but then they decided on a new tactic – they would learn how to measure radiation themselves.

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They saved and collected $600 (£420) to buy their first Geiger counter online, but when it arrived the instructions were written in English, which none of them understood. But they persevered and with the help of experts and university professors, organised training workshops. Soon they knew all about becquerels, a unit used to measure radiation, and sieverts, a measure of radiation dose. They would meet at restaurants and cafes to compare readings.


Becquerels and Sieverts

•A becquerel (Bq), named after French physicist Henri Becquerel, is a measure of radioactivity

•A quantity of radioactive material has an activity of 1Bq if one nucleus decays per second – and 1kBq if 1,000 nuclei decay per second

•A sievert (Sv) is a measure of radiation absorbed by a person, named after Swedish medical physicist Rolf Sievert


In November 2011 the women decided to get serious and set up a laboratory. They raised money and managed to buy their first instrument designed specifically to measure food contamination – it cost 3 million yen (£18,500, or $26,400).

They named the laboratory Tarachine, after a strong female character in Japanese theatre who speaks the language of Samurai warriors. “We felt as though we were on the front line of a battlefield,” says Suzuki. “When you’re at war you do what you have to do, and measuring was the thing we felt we had to do.”

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Today Tarachine has 12 employees, and more work than it can handle. People bring in food, earth, grass and leaves from their backyards for testing. The results are published for everyone to see. At first the lab was able to provide results after three or four days, but its service has become so popular it can’t keep up. “We have so many requests now that it can take three months,” says Prof Hikaru Amano, the lab’s technical manager.

Amano confesses he was surprised that a group of amateurs could learn to do this job so accurately, but says it is important work.

People began to mistrust the nuclear contamination data provided by the government and by the Tokyo Electric Power Company (Tepco), which manages the nuclear plant, he says.

About 100 so-called “citizen laboratories” have since sprung up, but Tarachine is unusual because it monitors both gamma and beta rays – most can only measure gamma rays – and because it tests whatever people want, whether it’s a home-grown carrot or the dust from their vacuum-cleaner.

The government does take regular readings from fixed points in Fukushima prefecture. It also check harvests and foods destined for the market – for example, all Fukushima-grown rice is required to undergo radiation checks before shipping.

But “if you want to know the level of strontium and tritium in your garden, the government won’t do this measurement,” says Suzuki. “If you decide to measure it yourself, you’ll need 200,000-250,000 yen (£1,535, or $2,200) for the tests, and ordinary people can’t afford to pay these costs. We have to keep doing this job so that people can have the measurements they want.” Tarachine only charges a small fee – less than 2,000 yen (£12, or $17).

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Mother of two Kaori Suzuki now spends much of her time at the laboratory

Tarachine also provides training and equipment to anyone who wants to do their own measurements. “Some of the mothers measure soil samples in their schools. It’s fantastic, they really have become quite skilled at doing this,” says Suzuki.

And the group keeps an eye on children’s health. It runs a small clinic where doctors from all over Japan periodically come to provide free thyroid cancer check-ups for local children. Since screening began, six months after the meltdown, 166 children in Fukushima prefecture have been diagnosed with – or are suspected of having – thyroid cancer. This is a far higher rate than in the rest of the country, although some experts say that’s due to over-diagnosis.

And for parents who want to give their children a break from the local environment, Tarachine even organises summer trips to the south of the country.

Suzuki’s own life has changed dramatically since 2011. “I was just a simple mother, enjoying her life. But ever since I started this, I’ve been spending most of my time here, from morning to night,” she says. “I must admit, sometimes I think it would be really nice to have a break, but what we are doing is too important. We’re providing a vital service.

“If you want to have peace of mind after an accident like the Fukushima one, then I believe you need to do what we’re doing.”

Source: http://www.bbc.com/news/magazine-35784923?SThisFB

An addition to this article, thanks to Beverly Findlay-Kaneko:

The article missed an important point that has news value. Tarachine is trying to expand their health clinic to include more services, including cataract screening for children. This video is in Japanese, but you can see what the inside of their operation looks like.

 

March 13, 2016 Posted by | Fukushima 2016 | , , , | Leave a comment