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Forgetting Fukushima

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21st January 2020

By Jim Green – Nuclear Monitor

Irresponsible tactics are being used to bury social and environmental problems associated with the Fukushima nuclear disaster as Olympics approach in Japan.

Japanese prime minister Shinzō Abe assured the International Olympic Committee in 2013 that “the situation is under control” in and around the stricken Fukushima nuclear plant.

Now, with the 2020 Summer Olympics approaching, and some events scheduled to be held in Fukushima prefecture, all sorts of irresponsible and cruel tactics are being used to bury a myriad of social and environmental problems associated with the nuclear disaster.

Most evacuation orders have been lifted around the Fukushima plant, but 337‒371 sq kms remain classified as restricted entry zones or ‘difficult to return’ zones. There are hopes that all remaining evacuation orders could be lifted within a few years.

Return

Lifting an evacuation order is one thing, returning the area to something resembling normality is quite another. Only 23 percent of those living in nine areas that were declared off-limits after the Fukushima disaster had returned as of March 2019, according to government figures.

Most people aged under 50 who used to live in the towns of Futaba, Namie and Tomioka have no plans to return, an official survey found in early 2019.

The partial lifting of evacuation orders in the town of Okuma in April 2019 illustrates how the rhetoric of progress masks inconvenient truths. Even after the lifting of the order, about 60 percent of the town’s land area ‒ covering 96.5 percent of the pre-Fukushima population ‒ remains off-limits.

A 2018 survey found that only 10 percent of respondents expressed a desire to return to Okuma, while 60 percent had no plans to return. Few people have returned since the evacuation order was lifted.

About 17 million cubic metres of contaminated waste material has accumulated during decontamination work according to the Japanese ministry of the environment. A new occupant in Okuma is a ‘temporary storage facility‘ for some of the contaminated waste.

Contamination

Decontamination work (outside of the Fukushima nuclear plant) has cost an estimated ¥2.9 trillion (US $26.5 billion). A report by the European Geosciences Union, based on approximately 60 scientific publications, gives this assessment of decontamination efforts.

“This synthesis indicates that removing the surface layer of the soil to a thickness of 5 cm, the main method used by the Japanese authorities to clean up cultivated land, has reduced cesium concentrations by about 80 percent in treated areas. Nevertheless, the removal of the uppermost part of the topsoil, which has proved effective in treating cultivated land, has cost the Japanese state about €24 billion.

“This technique generates a significant amount of waste, which is difficult to treat, to transport and to store for several decades in the vicinity of the power plant, a step that is necessary before it is shipped to final disposal sites located outside Fukushima prefecture by 2050. By early 2019, Fukushima’s decontamination efforts had generated about 20 million cubic metres of waste.

“Decontamination activities have mainly targeted agricultural landscapes and residential areas. The review points out that the forests have not been cleaned up ‒ because of the difficulty and very high costs that these operations would represent ‒ as they cover 75 percent of the surface area located within the radioactive fallout zone.

“These forests constitute a potential long-term reservoir of radiocesium, which can be redistributed across landscapes as a result of soil erosion, landslides and floods, particularly during typhoons that can affect the region between July and October.”

Health risks

Greenpeace coordinated a study in the exclusion zone and lifted evacuation areas of Namie and Iitate and published the results in March 2019. The study found high levels of radiation ‒ ranging from five to over 100 times higher than the internationally recommended maximum of 1 mSv/yr ‒ in both exclusion zones and in areas where evacuation orders have been lifted.

The Greenpeace report documents the extent of the government’s violation of international human rights conventions and guidelines, in particular for decontamination of workers and children (who are more vulnerable to radiation-related diseases than adults).

Associate Professor Tilman Ruff, an Australian public health expert and co-founder of the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons gives a sense of the scale of the risk.

He states: “To provide a perspective on these risks, for a child born in Fukushima in 2011 who was exposed to a total of 100 mSv of additional radiation in its first five years of life, a level tolerated by current Japanese policy, the additional lifetime risk of cancer would be on the order of one in thirty, probably with a similar additional risk of premature cardiovascular death.”

Moreover, there is evidence of sinister behaviour to give artificially low indications of radiation levels, for example by placing monitoring posts in areas of low radiation and cleaning their surrounds to further lower the readings.

Risks

Maxime Polleri, a PhD candidate in the Department of Anthropology at York University, wrote in The Diplomat: “In the end, state-sponsored monitoring and decontamination are remedial measures that manage the perception of radiation in the environment.

“However, this does not imply that radioactive contamination is gone – not at all. When we look at the official maps of radiation of northeastern Japan, levels are low, but there are many ways to make them appear low.”

Ryohei Kataoka from the Tokyo-based Citizens Nuclear Information Centre said: “The government’s insistence in lifting evacuation orders where heightened radiation-related health risks undeniably exist, is a campaign to show that Fukushima is ‘back to normal’ and to try to make Japan and the world forget the accident ever happened.”

The Japanese government is promoting next years’ Olympic Games as the “Reconstruction Olympics”. Hence the haste to lift evacuation orders and to skirt around the truth of residual contamination from radioactive Fukushima fallout and the health risks associated with that fallout.

And yet, despite the spin, a poll conducted in February 2019 found that 60 pecent of Fukushima region residents still felt anxious about radiation exposure.

Deflation

Approximately 165,000 people were forced to evacuate because of the Fukushima nuclear disaster in 2011, in addition to an estimated 26,600 ‘voluntary evacuees’.

More than 30,000 of the involuntary evacuees are still unable to return. Those now in permanent accommodation have returned to their former homes (either willingly or because they had no choice), or resettled elsewhere, and some have purchased their previously temporary accommodation.

The number of evacuees has been artificially deflated. For example, the Japanese government’s Reconstruction Agency sent a notice to prefectures in August 2014 stating that only those people who moved to different places because of the nuclear disaster and have the “will” to return to their original homes will be counted as evacuees.

The notice said that if it is difficult to determine people’s will to return, they should not be counted as evacuees. Those who have purchased a home outside their pre-disaster locale, and those in public restoration housing or disaster public housing, are no longer counted as evacuees even if they want to return to their previous homes but can’t for various reasons.

An April 2019 Asahi Shimbun editorial said that the number of people who regard themselves as evacuees is believed to be far higher than the official figure of 40,000 ‒ but nobody knows the true figure.

Akira Imai, chief researcher of the Japan Research Institute for Local Government, told Asahi Shimbun: “This is an act to socially hide the real number of evacuees, which could lead to a cover-up of the seriousness of the incident. The evacuee number is an index that is used to consider measures to support evacuees. The current situation should be reflected properly in the numbers.”

Trauma

The typical experience of Fukushima evacuees has been a collapse of social networks, reduced income and reduced employment opportunities, endless uncertainty, and physical and mental ill-health.

A growing number of evacuees face further trauma arising from the end of housing subsidies, forcing them out of temporary accommodation and in some cases forcing them back to their original homes against their will.

Around 16,000 people who refuse to return to their original homes had been financially abandoned as of January 2019, according to the Citizens’ Nuclear Information Center.

In addition to fiddling with the numbers to artificially deflate the number of evacuees, an increasingly hostile attitude is being adopted towards evacuees to pressure them to leave temporary accommodation and thereby to reduce the evacuee count. The reduction and cessation of housing subsidies is the main component of this problem.

Some years ago, the support structure was modest at best, and many evacuees fell through the cracks. Now, evacuees are being forced through the cracks to reduce expenditure and to create a sense of normality ahead of the ‘Reconstruction Olympics’.

Poverty

The human impact of government policies ‒ national and prefectural governments ‒ are detailed by Seto Daisaku from the Evacuation Cooperation Center. Some evacuees face a doubling of rental payments, some have been deemed “illegal occupants“, some face legal action to have them evicted.

National and local governments promote these policies as necessary to foster independence among evacuees, but as Seto Daisaku notes, “since their income in the places they have evacuated to has dropped precipitously, far from becoming independent they will fall deeper into poverty.”

The April 2019 Asahi Shimbun editorial noted: “After years of living away from home, many evacuees are also struggling with problems such as reduced incomes, the difficulties of finding jobs, deteriorating health and isolation.

“Some are suffering from poverty, anxiety about losing their housing due to the termination of public financial support and physical and mental illness. … The government’s response to the problem has been grossly insufficient.”

Rights

In an October 2018 report, United Nations Special Rapporteur Baskut Tuncak urged the Japanese government to halt the ongoing relocation of evacuees who are children and women of reproductive age to areas of Fukushima where radiation levels remain higher than what was considered safe or healthy before the nuclear disaster in 2011.

Tuncak said the Japanese government’s decision to raise by 20 times what it considered to be an acceptable level of radiation exposure was deeply troubling, highlighting in particular the potential impact on the health and wellbeing of children.

Tuncak said: “It is disappointing to see Japan appear to all but ignore the 2017 recommendation of the UN human rights monitoring mechanism (UPR) to return back to what it considered an acceptable dose of radiation before the nuclear disaster.”

TEPCO is also worsening the evacuees’ plight. Yamaguchi Yukio, co-director of the Citizens’ Nuclear Information Center, wrote in March 2019: “Although the fathomless suffering of the people affected by the accident cannot be atoned for by money, TEPCO has shown no intention of taking any responsibility for the consequences of the accident.

“In the incidents surrounding the petitions by Namie Town, Iitate Village and others to alternative dispute resolution (ADR), TEPCO has refused to agree to the compensation amounts, and rejected the mediated settlement proposal.

“The outlook for resolution of the compensation problem is bleak. This is in complete violation of the three pledges proclaimed by TEPCO: 1) Carry through compensation to the very last person, 2) Carry through rapid and detailed compensation, and 3) Respect mediated settlement proposals.”

This Author

Dr Jim Green is the national nuclear campaigner with Friends of the Earth Australia and editor of the Nuclear Monitor newsletter.

https://theecologist.org/2020/jan/21/forgetting-fukushima?fbclid=IwAR2_aBc0KTBXO6O7qWGkTx0Y224A_9Yf8E996eDW8Y19jItelPshSJOcJ0s

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

Fukushima Journey, Pt. 2: Olympics Propaganda, Thyroid Cancers, Japanese Govt. Lies – 4 days in Fukushima Prefecture w/Beverly Findlay-Kaneko

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November 28, 2019

This Week’s Featured Interview:

  • Fukushima Journey: The “Disappearing” Nuclear Disaster – 4 days on-the-ground in Fukushima Prefecture with Beverly Findlay-Kaneko continues. She lived in Yokohama, Japan for 20 years until March 2011 after the Great Eastern Japan Earthquake. She worked at Yokohama National University and The Japan Times. Beverly has a Master’s degree in East Asian Studies from Stanford University, and speaks Japanese fluently.

    Since returning from Japan, Beverly and her husband, Yuji Kaneko, have been active in raising awareness about nuclear issues, including the nuclear accident at Fukushima. Their main activities have included organizing speaking tours, giving presentations, networking in activist and nuclear-impacted communities in the U.S. and Japan, and co-producing the annual Nuclear Hotseat podcast “Voices from Japan” special on Fukushima.

    This is the second half of the “Fukushima Journey” Nuclear Hotseat interview, based on more than three hours of source material. Pt. 1 appeared in episode #439 from November 19, 2019.

December 2, 2019 Posted by | fukushima 2019 | , , , , , | 1 Comment

Transparency, the olympics, and that damned water, Part 2

Happy-fukushima-peach-01.jpgOfficial messaging about Fukushima focuses on happiness.

Tuesday November 26th, 2019

Part 2: What about the Olympics?

The concerns we hear about the 2020 Olympics are more generalized and less focussed than those about the water in the tanks at Fukushima Daiichi. Some people ask us if it’s safe to come to Japan at all. Others narrow it down to Fukushima Prefecture. A few journalists and others have specifically asked us to weigh in on the potential risks to people who attend the events which will be held in Azuma Stadium in Fukushima City.  Our response to Tokyo businessman Roy Tomizawa was to suggest he build a bGeigie and survey the stadium himself. He did, and wrote about it. Helping people find out for themselves is how we prefer to interact with and inform the public. We often point out that the entire framing of “safety” when it comes to radiation risk is problematic. The guidelines for acceptable radiation limits in food, the environment, and elsewhere are not really “safety” limits, and exceeding them does not mean “unsafe.” They are warning levels that trigger protective actions intended to prevent actually “unsafe” exposures. In each case, the important questions are: Do you understand this risk, and is it acceptable to you? This is where people need help, and where government has so far largely failed in its mission to inform. Once again we think it comes down to transparency.

A quick Google search of “Fukushima Olympics”  will illustrate the widespread belief that athletes and visitors who go to Fukushima next year will be putting their lives at risk. The Korean government has announced that their teams will bring their own food so as not to incur potential health risks from eating local products. Many people suspect that the Japanese Government is holding Olympic events in Fukushima in order to cover up the effects of the disaster and paint the prefecture with a tint of normality. It seems clear that the government lost control of this narrative long ago and may well be unable to recover before the 2020 Olympics begin, and that the negative effects could persist for years afterwards. We do not see any adequate messaging or information about the kinds of risks people around the world are concerned about, presented understandably and accessibly. What messaging we have seen so far is clumsy and tends heavily towards images of smiley happy people intended to suggest that everything is fine. No-one really trusts these blithe reassurances, because they distrust government itself.

Japanese government agencies seem to be operating under the assumption that their authority in matters like this is still intact in the eyes of the public. Their messages appear to be shaped under the assumption that they can simply say, “We’ve had a committee look into it and we’ve determined that it’s safe,” without demonstrating the necessary transparency and breaking the explanation down in appropriate ways. We have no desire to make government’s job easier about any of this, but we care about the people in Fukushima, and so we want government to present clear and accurate information about their situation. Things in Fukushima are not as bad as alarming Google hits often suggest, but it’s definitely not hunky-dory either. Honest messaging would reflect this. We too wonder why the government has rushed to hold Olympic events in Fukushima, ignoring the global public’s existing fear and skepticism. Many Fukushima residents are supportive of the games and hope they will shed a positive light on the progress the prefecture has made since the disasters in 2011. It could be good for local economies as well. On the other hand, it could be another avoidable PR disaster.

We think people can visit Fukushima today without undue fear. The preponderance of data, both independent data like ours as well as official data, shows that typical visitors are extremely unlikely to travel anywhere in the prefecture where external radiation exposure is higher than natural background radiation levels in most of the world, unless they go out of their way to enter very contaminated areas to which access is normally prohibited. If people are willing to consider normal background radiation levels “safe,” then most of Fukushima fits this description. There are a lot caveats, however. There may be cesium contamination in the ground even in places where the external dose rate is in the normal range (Minnanods has published a very good map of their independent measurements of soil contamination). While food produced in Fukushima is closely monitored by both official bodies and independent labs, both of which indicate that it is overwhelmingly “safe,” people should avoid wild mushrooms, wild vegetables, wild game, and other items which are not produced under controlled agricultural conditions and distributed by supermarkets. With few exceptions the forests are not being decontaminated, and radiation levels can be considerably higher there, so it’s probably best to avoid entering unknown forests.

We get a lot of pushback for saying this, but years of Safecast radiation measurements in Fukushima and elsewhere show that short-term visitors to Fukushima will almost certainly get a higher radiation dose on their flights to Japan than they will by spending several days in Fukushima. (You can see Safecast measurements taken during air travel here.) These exposures are not entirely comparable, though, and the equation is different for people who live in parts of Fukushima where they are likely to receive decades of elevated radiation doses. But we stand by our overall conclusions, while pointing out that the only way to be sure is to have good data available for the places you’re going, which Safecast tries hard to provide. We’re very critical of the Korean government’s politically motivated manipulation of fear about Fukushima food despite not presenting any measurement data in support of its claims. On the other hand, Korea has demanded that radiation risks for next year’s Olympics be verified by independent third-parties, which we highly endorse. The Japanese government and the Olympic committee have announced that the torch relay will run though over 20 Fukushima towns, but they have not provided the public with survey data showing the current radiation levels along those routes. Safecast volunteers are ready to measure these routes, and indeed most have probably already been measured at some point, and while our data might indicate no particular risks for participants and viewers in most locations, it might reveal areas of concern. What maddens us is that we have been unable to obtain information about the actual street routes for the Fukushima portions of the relay and do not know how long before the event’s route information will actually become available.

Ultimately, we expect that official messaging about the Fukushima 2020 Olympic events will continue to avoid frank discussions of radiation risks and will continue to focus on “happiness.” The current information void and amateurish messaging are likely to be shattered at some point early next year by a massive and expensive PR blitz which will also focus on “happiness” but with higher production values and market reach. If radiation is dealt with at all, it is likely to be in a superficial and somewhat misleading manner. It doesn’t have to be that way.

Azby Brown

Azby Brown is Safecast’s lead researcher and primary author of the Safecast Report. A widely published authority in the fields of design, architecture, and the environment, he has lived in Japan for over 30 years, and founded the KIT Future Design Institute in 2003. He joined Safecast in mid-2011, and frequently represents the group at international expert conferences.

https://blog.safecast.org/2019/11/transparency-the-olympics-and-that-damned-water-part-2/

December 2, 2019 Posted by | fukushima 2019 | , , , | Leave a comment

Japan gov’t tells embassies risk of contaminated Fukushima water ‘small’

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In this Aug. 1, 2019 photo taken from a Mainichi helicopter, storage tanks for radioactively contaminated water are seen on the grounds of the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station in Okuma, Fukushima Prefecture.
November 21, 2019
TOKYO (Kyodo) — The Japanese government on Thursday told embassy officials from nearly 20 countries that the health risk to humans of water contaminated by the Fukushima nuclear disaster would be “significantly small” even if it is entirely released into the ocean and atmosphere.
The briefing session was held to explain how the contaminated water is being dealt with after it is treated via an advanced liquid processing system that does not remove tritium and that causes small amounts of other radioactive materials to remain.
Government officials explained the health risk to humans would be “significantly small,” as discharging the treated water into the Pacific Ocean and atmosphere over the course of a year would lead to between just one-1,600th and one-40,000th of the radiation that humans are naturally exposed to, Foreign Ministry officials said.
The briefing session, attended by 19 embassy officials from 17 countries and a region, was held as the Japanese government has yet to decide what to do with the treated water that continues to build up following the crisis at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant.
Water used to cool the melted-down cores and ground water near the crippled plant contains some radioactive materials, and is currently being collected and stored in tanks on the plant grounds.
The tanks storing the water are expected to become full by the summer of 2022, according to Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings Inc., the operator of the nuclear power plant disabled by a magnitude-9.0 earthquake and ensuing tsunami on March 11, 2011.
At the meeting, one embassy official asked whether other radioactive materials besides the relatively non-toxic tritium could be removed from the water before being discharged into the water.
A Japanese government official responded that it is possible if purification equipment is used, the officials said.
A similar explanation was offered Monday by the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry at a government subcommittee on the issue.
The government plans to finalize its decision on how to deal with the water after the subcommittee draws a conclusion.
Among attendees at Thursday’s briefing session, South Korea had referred to the treated water as contaminated water at a meeting of the International Atomic Energy Agency in September and expressed concern over ocean discharge.
But the country did not raise any objections at the briefing session, the officials said.

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

Lies dominates typhoon Hagibis Diet debate response

For bags made to resist only 3 years, they fared incredibly well in this powerful typhoon, that after 8 years, more than double their resistance expectancy….
The lies and cover-up continue:
 Koizumi (Environment Minister) insists that “there won’t be any impact on the environment” regarding radioactive bags swept away by the typhoon.
Koizumi said, “I’ve received reports that large bags that have already been collected were not damaged, so there won’t be any impact on the environment.”

Anyway, the radioactive bags are not the main problem. The main problem is the accumulated radionuclides in the forested hills of Fukushima prefecture, 80% of its land surface. Which have never been decomtaminated. that powerful typhoon has redistributed a lot of those forested hills radiation everywhere…. To be inhaled by people….

The plan is to bring the 17 million tons of radiactive bags scattered allover the Fukushima prefecture to the intermediary storage location build between Okume and Futaba, to separate the debris from the soil, to incinerate the debris, so as to reduce the volume of incinerated debris by 50. To store the resulting high radiation waste for the 30 years before to find somewhere a final storage site, and to recycle the low radiation waste into roads and building construction….http://josen.env.go.jp/en/storage/

17 million radioactive bags resulting from multiple partial decontamination of the residence areas and some of the agricultural fields, from less than 20% of the Fukushima prefecture land surface. 80%, the forested parts, hills and mountains have never been decontaminated. And from those the accumulated radionuclides are ruisseling down to the previously decontaminated places, recontaminating them, during the raining season, the typhoon redistributing thos radionuclides all over Fukushima and even outside Fukushima to other prefectures. A never ending story.


Typhoon response dominates diet debate
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October 15, 2019
The government’s response to Typhoon Hagibis dominated Tuesday’s debate in the Diet.
Opposition lawmakers grilled the government on its handling of the storm, including why radioactive waste produced after the 2011 nuclear disaster was not properly protected.
Multiple bags of waste produced from decontamination efforts flooded into a river in Fukushima.
Environment Minister Shinjiro Koizumi says local officials found 10 bags that had been swept away by the storm and are investigating whether there are any more.
Koizumi said, “I’ve received reports that large bags that have already been collected were not damaged, so there won’t be any impact on the environment.”
Another issue debated was the management of emergency shelters.
Opposition members pointed out that a municipality in Tokyo did not accept homeless people at some evacuation centers.
Yuko Mori of Democratic Party for the People said, “We should respect the basic human rights of disaster victims and provide necessary facilities for them. That’s a basic principle.”
Prime Minister Shinzo Abe replied, “I think it would be desirable for each evacuation center to properly accept all people. We will examine what really happened with the local governments and take appropriate measures.”

October 20, 2019 Posted by | fukushima 2019 | , , | Leave a comment

S. Korea slams Japan’s actions over Fukushima plant water crisis

Japan is talking about transparency, what transparency?
The transparency of so many lies, cover-ups, and denials during the past 8 years?
Dishonesty at its maximum?
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South Korea’s First Vice Minister of Science and Information and Communication Technology Moon Mi-ok speaks at an IAEA General Conference in Vienna on Sept. 16.
September 18, 2019
VIENNA–South Korea asked the International Atomic Energy Agency to step in on how to manage radioactive water accumulating at the crippled Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant, citing concerns the water may be discharged into the Pacific Ocean.
During the IAEA’s General Conference here, South Korea’s First Vice Minister of Science and Information and Communication Technology Moon Mi-ok said Sept. 16 that the issue of contaminated water has not been resolved, “escalating fear and anxiety throughout the world.”
She said that if contaminated water is discharged into the ocean, it would no longer be Japan’s domestic problem, “but a grave international issue that can affect the whole global marine environment,” Moon said.
She called on the IAEA to get actively involved in how to deal with the situation and urged Japan to take effective steps to resolve the crisis.
Ambassador Takeshi Hikihara, Japan’s representative to the international organizations in Vienna, dismissed Moon’s comments.
Hikihara said Japan had already accepted on-site inspections by an IAEA team of experts and its actions to deal with radioactive water had been well-received.
Hikihara said Japan is still studying ways to dispose of the water and will continue to disseminate its plans. He called Moon’s comments “unacceptable,” saying they were based on the assumption that the water would be discharged into the ocean.
Another Japanese official stressed that transparency was a key ingredient in conveying information about the Fukushima nuclear accident and insisted they had given detailed explanations to the international community about what was going on.
Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga disputed Moon’s statements at a Sept. 17 news conference.
“What she said was not based on facts and scientific grounds. It is extremely regrettable since it can spread baseless negative publicity,” he said.
Tokyo Electric Power Co., operator of the Fukushima plant, said tanks holding contaminated water are expected to have reached capacity by summer 2022.
One option under consideration is to dilute the water and gradually release it into the ocean.
The plant had a triple meltdown after tsunami spawned by the Great East Japan Earthquake inundated the coastal site in March 2011 and knocked out its cooling systems.

September 26, 2019 Posted by | fukushima 2019 | , , , | Leave a comment

Fukushima map with false data for foreigners

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Via Cecile Brice

Risk communication: they do not hesitate to produce maps with false data for foreigners. What not to do to make believe that everything is fine.

In the picture, we do not see the number given to “Tepco-Fukushima”. No numbers, they removed all hot spots on their map …

 

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

Strawberry shipments start from formerly evacuated Fukushima town

From the Yomiuri Shimbun, a pro-government media… All part of the continous propaganda media campaign by the national and local governments, to incite the people to buy and eat claimed-to-be-safe Fukushima products.

 

fjjklmlm.jpgFukushima Gov. Masao Uchibori, right, and others taste freshly picked strawberries in Okuma, Fukushima Prefecture, on Monday.

 

 

August 20, 2019

IWAKI, Fukushima — Strawberries started being shipped Monday from Okuma, Fukushima Prefecture, a town that was given an evacuation order following the nuclear power plant disaster in 2011, although the order was partially lifted this April.

To mark the occasion, authorities and guests were invited to a strawberry tasting event and a tour of a strawberry cultivation facility in the town.

The facility, measuring about 28,800 square meters, was built in the town’s Ogawara district after the disaster at Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings Inc.’s Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant. It is operated by a semipublic company sponsored by the town.

The facility is installed with waist-high planters that allow workers to stand up when working.

The latest computerized equipment to control room temperature, water temperature and water volume makes it possible to grow strawberries throughout the year.

Two machines to assess radioactive material in fruit were also introduced at the facility.

About 10 tons of strawberries are scheduled to be shipped from the facility this fiscal year. The operator intends to increase the annual shipment to 100 tons in the future.

https://the-japan-news.com/news/article/0005950919

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

Japan’s Government Ultimate Hypocrisy and Arrogance

“Remote-controlled robots that can withstand high radiation exposure are ‘expected in the near future’ to help remove melted nuclear fuel debris out of the reactors”

Uncapable at home to really handle a triple meldown  while sacrificing its own population with an intensive denial and cover-up campaign, Japan is now proposing to the U.S. to help denuclearizing North Korea. Isn’t that the ultimate height of hypocrisy and arrogance?

 

hghkjlmmù.jpg(File photo taken from a Kyodo News helicopter on April 23, 2019, shows the crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant in northeastern Japan, where decommissioning work is under way.)

 

Japan tells U.S. of plan to offer robots for denuclearizing N. Korea

August 16, 2019

Japan has told the United States that it is ready to provide its robot technology for use in dismantling nuclear and uranium enrichment facilities in North Korea as Washington and Pyongyang pursue further denuclearization talks, Japanese government sources said Friday.

As Japan turns to remote-controlled robots it has developed to decommission reactors that suffered meltdowns in 2011 at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, it believes the same technology can be used in North Korea, according to the sources.

The offer is part of Japan’s efforts to make its own contribution to the denuclearization talks amid concern that Tokyo could be left out of the loop as the United States and North Korea are stepping up diplomacy.

Tokyo has already told Washington it would shoulder part of the costs of any International Atomic Energy Agency inspections of North Korean facilities and dispatch Japanese nuclear experts.

The scrapping of nuclear facilities such as the Yongbyon complex that has a graphite-moderated reactor will come into focus in forthcoming working-level talks between Washington and Pyongyang.

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un offered to close the complex — seen as the center of the country’s nuclear material production activities — during his meeting with U.S. President Donald Trump in Hanoi in February.

But the Trump-Kim talks broke down after the two leaders failed to reconcile Washington’s demand for denuclearization and Pyongyang’s call for sanctions relief.

Earlier this year, Japan and the United States held a working-level meeting before the Hanoi summit, in which Washington pointed to the possibility of radioactive contamination near North Korea’s facilities due to its lax management of nuclear materials, the sources said.

Japan then offered “any support,” including technological assistance, according to the sources.

Remote-controlled robots that can withstand high radiation exposure are ‘expected in the near future’ to help remove melted nuclear fuel debris out of the reactors at the Fukushima Daiichi plant, crippled since the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami in northeastern Japan.

For such technology to be used in the decommissioning of a nuclear facility, experts need to inspect its internal structure and check radiation levels. Therefore, Pyongyang’s acceptance of such on-site inspections would be essential.

Trump has said on Twitter that he received a letter from Kim stating that the North Korean leader is willing to meet again after joint U.S.-South Korea military exercises end next Tuesday.

North Korea, which sees the joint drills as rehearsals for invasion, has fired a series of short-range missiles in apparent protest, most recently on Friday, but Trump has played down the significance of such launches.

While Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, who places priority on resolving the issue of Japanese nationals abducted by Pyongyang in the 1970s and 1980s, has expressed his hope to meet Kim “without preconditions,” such a summit appears unlikely.

Abe is the only leader yet to meet face-to-face with Kim among the countries involved in the long-stalled six-party talks on Pyongyang’s nuclear program — the two Koreas, China, Japan, Russia and the United States.

Trump has delivered on his promise to Abe to raise the abduction issue during his meetings with Kim. The U.S. president takes the view that neighboring countries such as Japan need to pay for North Korea’s denuclearization and extend economic assistance in return for Pyongyang scrapping its nuclear facilities.

“Japan’s security will be left out if we fail to be part of the U.S.-North Korea negotiations,” a Japanese Foreign Ministry source said.

https://english.kyodonews.net/news/2019/08/4537c0c21988-update1-japan-tells-us-of-plan-to-offer-robots-for-denuclearizing-n-korea.html

 

August 17, 2019 Posted by | Japan | , , | Leave a comment

Fukushima’s Three Nuclear Meltdowns Are “Under Control”: That’s a Lie

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by William Boardman / June 23rd, 2019

The implementation of the safe decommissioning of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power station is a unique complex case and expected to span several decades: the IAEA Review Team considers that it will therefore require sustained engagement with stakeholders, proper knowledge management, and benefit from broad international cooperation.

– Report by IAEA (International Atomic Energy Agency) Review Team, January 30, 2019

The bland language of the official IAEA report is itself a form of lying, offering the false appearance of reassurance that a catastrophic event will be safely managed “for several decades.” There is no way to know that: it is a hope, a prayer, a form of denial. The IAEA, as is its job in a sense, offers this optimism that is unsupported by the realities at Fukushima.

On April 14, 2019, Japan’s prime minister, Shinzo Abe, visited the Fukushima meltdown site. According to The Asahi Shimbun’s headline, “Abe [was] pushing idea that Fukushima nuclear disaster is ‘under control’.” Abe entered the site wearing a business suit and no protective clothing to shield him from radiation. He stood on elevated ground about 100 meters from a building holding one of the melted-down reactors. He had his picture taken. He told reporters, “The decommissioning work has been making progress in earnest.” Abe’s visit lasted six minutes. This was a classic media pseudo-event, designed to be reported despite its lack of actual meaning – for all practical purposes it was another nuclear lie.

The entire Fukushima site remains radioactive at varying levels, from unsafe to lethal, depending on location. The site includes six reactors, three of them in meltdown, and at least as many fuel pools, some of which still contain fuel rods. The site has close to a thousand large storage tanks holding more than a million tons (roughly 264.5 million gallons) of radioactive wastewater.

The prime minister’s stage-managed visit placed him on a platform where the radiation level “exceeds 100 micro-sieverts per hour,” a low level but less than safe. That’s why Abe’s visit lasted only six minutes. Prolonged exposure to that level of radiation is not healthy. A year’s exposure to 100 micro-sieverts per hour would total 87,600 micro-sieverts in a year. How bad that would be is debatable. By way of illustration, even US regulations, not known for their stringency, allow American nuclear workers a maximum annual radiation exposure of 50,000 micro-sieverts.

Translation: the Prime Minister was posing in an area of dangerous radiation level and pretending it was all fine. Call it lying by photo op.

The first thing to know about the Fukushima meltdowns is that they are not even close to being over. The second thing to know about the Fukushima meltdowns is that no one really knows what’s going on, but officials routinely and falsely issue happy-talk reassurances that just aren’t true. The third thing to know about the Fukushima meltdowns is that they won’t be over for years, more likely decades, perhaps even ever.

Now, more than eight years after the triple reactor meltdown at Fukushima, the status of the three melted reactor cores remains somewhat contained but uncontrolled, with no end in sight. No one knows exactly where the melted cores are. No one has any clear idea of how to remove them or how to dispose of them safely. For the foreseeable future, the best anyone can do is keep the cores cooled with water and hope for the best. Water flowing into the reactors and cooling the cores is vital to preventing the meltdowns from re-initiating.

Clean groundwater continues to flow into the reactors. Then radioactive water flows out into the Pacific. Continuously. A frozen ice wall costing $309 million diverts much of the groundwater around the site to the Pacific Ocean. The water flow is not well measured. Some contaminated water is stored on site, but the site’s storage capacity of 1.37 million tons of radioactive water may be reached during 2020.

One proposed wastewater solution is to dilute the stored radioactive water and then dump it in the Pacific. Fukushima fishermen oppose this. Radioactivity in Fukushima fish has slowly declined since 2011, but the local fishing industry is only at 20 percent of pre-meltdown levels.

When it exists, reporting on Fukushima continues to be uneven and often shabby, buying into the official rosy view of the disaster, as The New York Times did on April 15. The day after Abe’s visit to Fukushima, the Times reported that an operation to begin removing fuel rods from a fuel pool was a “Milestone in Fukushima Nuclear Cleanup.” The Times, with remarkable incompetence, couldn’t distinguish clearly between the fuel pool and the melted reactor cores:

The operator of Japan’s ruined Fukushima nuclear power plant began removing radioactive fuel rods on Monday at one of three reactors that melted down after an earthquake and a tsunami in 2011, a major milestone in the long-delayed cleanup effort….

The plant operator, Tokyo Electric Power, said in a statement that workers on Monday morning began removing the first of 566 spent and unspent fuel rods stored in a pool at the plant’s third reactor. A radiation-hardened robot had first located the melted uranium fuel inside the reactor in 2017.

That is such a botch. The fuel pool is a storage pool outside the reactor. It contains fuel rods that have NOT melted down. They could melt down if the pool loses its cooling water, but for now they’re stable. The fuel pool has nothing more to do with the melted reactor cores than proximity. The fuel pool is outside the reactor, the melted cores are somewhere near the bottom of the reactor. The melted cores are beyond any remediation for the foreseeable future. To pretend that the start of fuel rod removal is any kind of meaningful milestone while the three melted cores remain out of reach is really to distort the reality of Fukushima.

The summer Olympics are planned for Tokyo in 2020. In 2013, two years after the Fukushima meltdowns, Prime Minister Abe pitched the Tokyo site by telling the Olympic Committee in reference to Fukushima: “Let me assure you, the situation is under control.”

This was a lie.

Even now, no one knows where the melted reactor cores are precisely. One robot has made one contact so far. Radiation levels at the core are lethal. There is, as yet, no way to remove the cores safely. They think they’re going to remove the cores with robots, but the robots don’t yet exist. The disaster may not be as out of control as it was, but that’s about the best that can be honestly said, unless there’s another tsunami.

Official government statistics show pediatric cancers almost doubling since the Fukushima meltdowns of 2011. Thyroid cancers are reaching epidemic levels. The Japanese government refuses to track leukemia and other cancers. The official Fukushima death toll is more than 18,000, including 2,546 who have never been recovered. Most of Fukushima prefecture remains uninhabitable due to high radiation levels.

On March 21, 2019, Dr. Helen Caldicot offered an assessment much closer to the likely truth:

They will never, and I quote never, decommission those reactors. They will never be able to stop the water coming down from the mountains. And so, the truth be known, it’s an ongoing global radiological catastrophe which no one really is addressing in full.

The Japanese government doesn’t want to address Fukushima in full because it wants to re-start all its other nuclear power plants. TEPCO doesn’t want to address Fukushima in full because it wants to stay in business as long as the Japanese government is willing to make the company profitable with billions of dollars in bailouts. The IAEA and the rest of the nuclear industry don’t want to address Fukushima in full because they don’t want to see the over-priced, over-subsidized, and ultimately dangerous nuclear industry die from its own shortcomings. With billions of dollars at stake, who needs the truth?

https://dissidentvoice.org/2019/06/fukushimas-three-nuclear-meltdowns-are-under-control-thats-a-lie/

June 27, 2019 Posted by | fukushima 2019 | , | Leave a comment

Comic tale of aging bar hostesses with social punch

I am surprised that this article was published on Yomiori Shimbun (Japan News), usually a pro-government media, with biased information.
This sentence must have escaped the censoring eyes of their editor.
I particularly like the: “Like Chihama, Arata comes from Fukushima Prefecture, where her parents’ home was destroyed in the Great East Japan Earthquake. Brazil in the past and contemporary Fukushima begin to look very similar, in the sense that “those affected are not told the truth.”
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June 10, 2019
This week’s manga Sono Onna Jilba (Jitterbug The Forties)
By Shinobu Arima (Shogakukan)
Arata Usui has a job dealing with customers in a major supermarket chain store when she is transferred to the stockroom, out of sight. This was inevitable, as she is already past 40 and no longer young. Still single, with no boyfriend and no savings, she lacks confidence. One day, Arata is surprised to see a help-wanted notice for bar hostesses in the entertainment quarter of town. The criteria: women 40 or older! Is this some kind of a mistake? Mustering her courage, she opens the door to the Bar Old Jack & Rose, a watering hole aimed at senior citizens in which the average age of the hostesses is 70. Mesmerized by a world completely different from her own, she begins a side job as a trainee hostess under the alias of Arara. She soon learns about the legend of Jilba, the founder and inaugural manager of the bar.
“Jitterbug The Forties” is a comedy with cheering messages for an aging society, played out by lively bar hostesses who seem almost supernatural. The story starts out in such an atmosphere, which in itself is entertaining enough. But readers are taken to a much deeper level. As the hostesses recount their pasts, an alternative postwar history emerges that we have never been told. This transforms it into a work that offers a completely different impression.
Jilba, born Chihama Hoshi, emigrated to Brazil from Fukushima Prefecture. One thing that I learned from this manga was that immediately after the end of World War II, Japanese immigrants in Brazil were divided into two groups regarding the outcome of the war. One group, the “kachi-gumi” (the victors), blindly believed the false information that Japan defeated the United States. This group far outnumbered the other group, the “make-gumi” (the defeated), which believed that Japan lost. Conflicts between the groups eventually led to terrorist attacks, and there were scams targeting immigrants hastily trying to return to “victorious” Japan. Chihama, who loses her husband and children amid the chaos, arrives alone in a Japan that is little but burned-out ruins. She gathers women in similar dire straits and opens the bar. This is the other story line told in “Jitterbug The Forties.”
Like Chihama, Arata comes from Fukushima Prefecture, where her parents’ home was destroyed in the Great East Japan Earthquake. Brazil in the past and contemporary Fukushima begin to look very similar, in the sense that “those affected are not told the truth.” Quite impressed, I realized just how much of a hard-hitting, socially aware work this actually is at its core.
Even so, “Jitterbug The Forties” never loses its balance as a comedy, impressively maintaining a cheerful disposition over five volumes right up to its conclusion. “Jilba” is Japanese-English, originating from the American social dance known as the Jitterbug. No matter how arduous your past was, sweep it away with song and dance. Regardless of your age, life is not to be thrown away. This is a masterpiece that resonates with a powerfully encouraging message to all generations.
Ishida is a Yomiuri Shimbun senior writer whose areas of expertise include manga and anime.

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

Thyroid cancer diagnoses in Fukushima youth not linked to nuke disaster: panel

The lies of denial continue:
“Every lie we tell incurs a debt to the truth. Soon or later, that debt is paid.”
Quote from HBO mini-series “Chernobyl”
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A doctor administers an ultrasound scan on a child to look for evidence of thyroid cancer in this file photo taken at a clinic in the village of Hirata, Fukushima Prefecture, on Feb. 23, 2016.
June 4, 2019
FUKUSHIMA — A prefectural panel of experts here concluded on June 3 that thyroid cancer diagnosed in a second round of prefecture-wide checks in fiscal 2014 and 2015 on people who were aged 18 and under at the time of the meltdowns at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station in March 2011 was unrelated to their exposure to radiation emanating from the disaster.
The panel is tasked with evaluating thyroid examinations conducted by the prefectural government as part of post-disaster health checkups on residents in Fukushima Prefecture, in the Tohoku region northeast of Tokyo. According to their results, the rate of thyroid cancer discovery was higher among children who were living closer to the nuclear plant at the time of the meltdowns. But when taking into consideration factors including age at examination, there was no correlation between high radiation exposure doses and an increase in chances of cancer discovery.
However, as individual exposure doses were not measured and there is no data on those who have yet to be examined, panel members emphasized that its conclusions are provisional. Gen Suzuki, the head of the panel, said, “We haven’t concluded that there are no long-term effects from radiation.” He pointed to the need to continue thyroid cancer screenings for the time being while informing the children and their guardians of the demerits of overdiagnosis.
Following fine adjustments to the content of the report, its conclusions will be presented to an executive examination committee.
The second round of screenings, held in the fourth and fifth years after the onset of the nuclear disaster, is essential for judging the potential effects of the nuclear disaster and were carried out on some 380,000 people. Of those, 71 people were suspected to have some form of the cancer, with at least 52 of them receiving operations for the condition.
(Japanese original by Ryusuke Takahashi, Fukushima Bureau)

June 10, 2019 Posted by | fukushima 2019 | , , | Leave a comment

Teaching about radiation after Fukushima

Figure-2-1024x768.jpgAn interactive model at the Decontamination Info Plaza in the city of Fukushima allows visitors to “decontaminate” a house and yard.

At the entrance to the Fukushima Prefectural Centre for Environmental Creation, a friendly hippopotamus-like mascot welcomes visitors while accepting hugs from children. Buzzing with young families, this government-sponsored scientific hub was created to explain the phenomenon of radiation to the population of Fukushima, the victims of the eponymous 2011 nuclear disaster.
 
Inside the main annex, an interactive model explains how external radiation exposure can be lowered. Visitors are encouraged to increase their distance from a radiation-emitting device while making use of shielding, thereby lowering their overall exposure. In another corner, children are learning about the radioactive isotopes released during the disaster, although representations of these perils are anything but threatening. Using posters and comic books, radionuclides such as plutonium‑239 and cesium‑137 are represented as adorable anthropomorphic figures. Each radionuclide has its own characteristics, such as pronounced eyebrows or a distinctive hairstyle. There is no discussion about how exposure to these radionuclides can cause serious bodily harm—an increased risk of cancer, for example.
 
In the aftermath of the Fukushima meltdowns, which triggered a released of radioactive pollutants, the Japanese state initially decided to increase the mandatory evacuation trigger from 1 millisievert of radiation exposure per year to 20 millisieverts per year. In other words, the public was forced to accept a new threshold of safety. While this policy caused much scientific and public controversy, 20 millisieverts per year remains the benchmark for what is considered safe in Fukushima. Places like the Centre for Environmental Creation downplay the controversy of a raised threshold of exposure.
 
Situated in the town of Miharu and opened in July 2016, the center was established by the prefecture of Fukushima, with the financial support of the Japanese government, to conduct research and provide education on radioactive contamination. The center is one of several government-sponsored revitalization projects aimed at rebuilding the trust of people living in Fukushima. Mostly visited by young families, it represents a new approach to risk communication. As a technical advisor explained to me, this approach aims to “deepen the understanding of children about radiation” by allowing visitors to experience information firsthand through interactive games, fun activities, and cute presentations.
 
Past efforts to present nuclear science in appealing ways have often blended education with propaganda. The 1957 Disney TV episode Our Friend the Atom is a perfect example of this. What are the dangers of resorting to such forms of explanations in the aftermath of a nuclear disaster? In 2015 and 2017, I spent a total of 14 months in Japan examining the public’s interactive experience at state-sponsored centers and public activities that explain radiation. I found that while the information on radiation is easy to understand, many aspects of its hazards are carefully concealed. In particular, the government’s educational approach shifts the post-Fukushima Japanese public’s attention away from manmade danger and toward a vision of naturalness, technological amusement, and scientific amazement. In doing so, this approach downplays the risk inherent to residual radioactivity in Fukushima.
 
The naturalness of radiation. One way to neutralize the perceived harmfulness of radiation is to make the phenomenon appear as natural as possible, by emphasizing the radioactivity coming from natural sources. At the Centre for Environmental Creation, one of the most popular attractions is an enormous spherical theater, where visitors are bombarded with sounds and images in a 360-degree multisensory experience that describes radiation as a natural part of daily life. “It can be found everywhere! From the sun’s ray to the mineral in the earth,” claims the theater’s narrator. “Without radiation, no life would exist on Earth!” After these explanations, an enormous Boeing passes above theatergoers’ heads in the cinematic sky, and the amount of radiation exposure received during an intercontinental flight is said to be higher than the level of radiation found in Fukushima. Their necks strained upward, visitors mumble words of apparent relief.
 
What the theater fails to explain, however, is that there is nothing natural about the radioactive isotopes released during the Fukushima nuclear disaster, and that background radiation has little to do with the hazards of breathing or swallowing fission products—which are not rays, but dust-like particles. For instance, strontium 90, if inhaled or ingested, mimics calcium to enter an individual’s bone marrow and cause lifelong radiation exposure. This exposure can cause mutations in living cells—a permanent alteration that can lead to cancers, genetic problems, or immune disorders.
 
It’s all fun and games. Information about radiation is often promoted through an enjoyable experience that conceals disturbing aspects of the phenomenon. In front of a giant interactive screen, for example, children can move their bodies to “block” radiation. By selecting the proper material, they can block either radioactive alpha particles, beta particles, or gamma rays. They pretend that their bodies are thick metal plates used to hamper harmful external exposure. By doing so, they collect points, and at the end of the game, the child with the highest score wins.
 
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In an interactive game at the Fukushima Prefectural Centre for Environmental Creation, participants use their body movements to “block” radioactive rays or particles
 
By transforming radiation protection into a game that focuses on blocking external radiation, children do not learn of the risk of internal contamination from radioactive particles such as cesium 137, which was released in significant amounts by the Fukushima disaster. If internalized, cesium 137 gets distributed throughout the body, irradiating soft tissues such as muscles and ovaries. And because the children’s game blocks radiation in “real time,” there is no mention of any delayed health effects of radiation exposure, such as potential harmful genetic changes.
 
At the Decontamination Info Plaza, the government promotes similar activities. Situated in the city of Fukushima, the Plaza was established in January 2012 as a joint program between the prefecture of Fukushima and Japan’s Ministry of the Environment. The Plaza’s purpose is to provide information about radiation in general, as well as explanations about monitoring methods, workshops on decontamination, and advice on contaminated sites. Basic information about radiation is presented to the public in a very accessible, visual, and interactive form.
 
For example, an interactive model helps younger visitors understand the process of decontamination. The model consists of a miniature house in a transparent plastic box filled with small white and red balls. The white balls represent uncontaminated soil; the red balls stand for radioactive pollutants and are found on the house rooftop and in the soil. With a toy shovel, visitors can pick up the red balls and dispose of them in a plastic container, isolating them from the rest of the environment. By playing with the toy shovels and trying to “successfully” get rid of the radioactive pollutants, decontamination acquires a tangibility that feels like a safe game. Children do not have to put on protective suits before separating the balls, and there is no recognition that the decontamination process presents health hazards from radiation, either from external or internal exposure.
 
Radiation is our friend! A third way to downplay the perception of radiation danger is to link radiation with the wonders of science and technology. This was particularly apparent during an April 2016 open house organized by the National Institute of Radiological Sciences, Japan’s leading radiological institute, which is situated in Chiba, east of Tokyo. Titled “I Want to Know More! What Can You Do with Radiation?” the public fair was a popular event at which visitors could see the institute’s research facilities, the latest PET scan technology for medical imaging, and the cyclotrons used in nuclear medicine to produce radioisotopes. A special elevator led down to the Heavy Ion Medical Accelerator, situated in an impressive subterranean facility.
 
As I walked through the underground maze of this metallic behemoth, it became apparent that families were overcome by the scale of the apparatus. Indeed, as one parent said to his child, “It looks like a spaceship, right?” At this institute, manmade radiation was effectively linked to technologies that sustain life. For instance, the open house showed how the radiation-related devices at the institute produce particle therapies to treat cancer.
 
While there was nothing inaccurate about the center’s explanations of radiation as a medical treatment, the information presented was unrelated to the dangers faced during a nuclear disaster. If visitors wanted to hear more about such risks, they had to visit the station called “Impact of Fukushima.” The small station was, however, much less appealing than the other venues. It consisted of four small posters that focused on the decontamination process without explaining the adverse health effects of exposure to manmade radioisotopes. Children were much more interested in learning about the giant particle accelerators. Radiation was emphasized as a useful agent that could penetrate the body and kill harmful tumors, as was demonstrated on medical dummies during the event. In the end, by heavily framing radiation information around a beacon of technological wonder, the public opening day glossed over the danger of radioactive contamination and selectively amplified the beneficial aspects of radiation.
 
Education vs. propaganda. In interviews that I conducted with officials and technical advisors employed at the aforementioned places, I was told that Fukushima is afflicted by “harmful rumors” surrounding the real extent of radiation harm and that this misunderstanding stems from public ignorance of radiological science. It is in this context that government-sanctioned approaches aim to provide “basic information” that will help citizens fear radiation in an “appropriate way,” thereby creating an environment in which people feel they can safely return to Fukushima. While this is a worthy endeavor, the government’s approach emphasizes specific understandings of radioactivity that overshadow the particular risks introduced by manmade radioactive pollutants resulting from a nuclear accident.
 
Ultimately, I have doubts about these education programs. They are selective in their nature, making only certain aspects of radiation tangible through their public activities, while rarely explaining in detail the dangers of adverse health effects linked with residual radioactivity. From my viewpoint, their purpose seems to be dual: While they aim to shed light on the phenomenon of radiation, they are also covertly looking to defuse the threat of widespread societal unrest, to reclaim political control and economic stability, and to pacify a fearful public—and in ways that are perhaps more beneficial to the state than to affected individuals.
 
In a community where dangerous residual radioactivity has become a public everyday concern, coming to grips with serious contamination requires more education than ever before. The important word here is education. Not state propaganda disguised as education. There is a fine line between these two, but it is a line that needs to be clearly drawn. While Japanese state approaches are innovative in their interactivity and freedom from jargon, they are less so in their content.
 
I strongly agree that the existence of state-sponsored educational programs is better than to simply ignore radioactive risk. But mobilizing specific explanations that downplay the real risk faced by citizens is not sustainable. Doing so will reproduce the ignorance, secrecy, and values that led to this disaster. Public well-being, democracy, and science cannot thrive in such context. An unbiased effort to educate people about the specific hazards of radioactive contamination, and correct misunderstandings about the risk of radiation exposure, does not have to be delivered in a dry and clinical manner. It can be as fun and engaging as anything the Japanese centers, exhibits, and public days are already doing.
 
There is one scene from my time in Japan that I cannot forget: the unadulterated smile of the happy child who had won the contest of blocking radiation. While the kid had learned much about radiation, he had learned little about the complexity of radiation hazards. I could not help thinking of Major Kong straddling the bomb in the film Dr. Strangelove, enjoying the nuclear ride without thinking about it too much, shouting “Yee Haw!” at the top of his lungs.
Source:

 

March 1, 2019 Posted by | fukushima 2019 | , , , | Leave a comment

Is pushing contaminated product and poisoning people the ‘right’ path to Fukushima reconstruction?

The South Koreans did not want their food and banned it. The WHO and the UN upheld that they would import food from Fukushima. One of the guiding factors was that the US imports the Fukushima food. How much deeper can corruption go when it is all about the economy?

“Fascism should not be defined by the number of victims but by the way they were killed”. Jean-Paul Sartre

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Fukushima group holds food campaign in Brussels
December 3, 2018
BRUSSELS (Jiji Press) — People from Fukushima Prefecture living in Europe have started in earnest to campaign in Brussels to dispel concerns about foods from the northeastern prefecture following the 2011 nuclear crisis there.
The move by groups of Fukushima people in Britain and three other European countries, excluding Belgium, comes as the European Union maintains import restrictions on some Fukushima food products more than seven years after the meltdown at the tsunami-stricken Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant of Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings Inc.
As part of the campaign, sake brands from across Fukushima were served to guests at an event to celebrate the Emperor’s 85th birthday on Dec. 23, held by the Japanese Embassy in Belgium in late November.
The Fukushima groups and the prefectural government ran a joint booth at the celebratory event, offering more than 10 local sake brands while showcasing progress on reconstruction in Fukushima after the March 2011 earthquake, tsunami and nuclear disaster.
The sake brands included Adatara Ginjo of Okunomatsu Sake Brewery Co., based in Nihonmatsu in the prefecture, which won the top sake award in the 2018 International Wine Challenge competition.
The Fukushima sake brands were well received by guests including foreign government and company officials, according to Japanese sources.
The groups of Fukushima people aim to strengthen direct lobbying of the EU to abolish the import restrictions, planning to set up a similar group in Belgium, where the EU is headquartered.
“We’ve renewed our recognition that it’s necessary to give information about postdisaster reconstruction more actively, while promoting sake and fruit [from Fukushima],” said Yoshio Mitsuyama, who heads the British group of Fukushima people

December 7, 2018 Posted by | Fukushima 2018 | , , , , | Leave a comment

Excerpts from Asahi Journalist AOKI Miki’s “Streets Erased from the Map: Post-3.11, the Prohibited Truth”

 

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November 18, 2018
AOKI Miki (青木美希) is a journalist at the Asahi newspaper, one of Japan’s major news companies. Kodansha published her book, Streets Erased from the Map: Post-3.11, the Prohibited Truth(『地図から消される街ー3.11後の「言ってはいけない真実」』), in March 2018. It is the culmination of 7 years of continuous reporting on the 2011 TEPCO nuclear disaster. I have roughly translated and/or summarized some of the stories she documented in this book. (Where she refers to herself in the text, I have translated it as “I”; clarifying annotations/notes are mine).
CHAPTER 1: Local TEPCO Employees Who Can’t Raise Their Voices
Pages 28-39 (summarized):
Before the nuclear disaster, becoming a TEPCO employee was something many people aspired to. People used to say, “For a man to work at TEPCO means lifelong security; women should try to marry a TEPCO employee.” But after the disaster, they were resented. In the evacuation shelters, parents watched as their sons went back to work at Ichi-efu (1F = Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant). Before they left, they would write letters conveying their final farewells. I talked to a father who could not tell anyone at the shelter that his child worked at TEPCO.
I spoke to a young TEPCO worker. He was a local hire with a high school degree. He often went to TEPCO’s public relations museum as a kid, hoping he could one day become part of the future it displayed. When the earthquake happened, he wasn’t worried. The Meteorological Agency estimated that the tsunami height would be 3 meters, so he figured it would be about 1 meter, if it came at all. But as he was working in the reactor building, the power went out. Sea water started gushing in in the darkness. He ran up to the central control room, filled with monitors that would normally display live footage from various sectors of the power plant. But since there was no electricity, there was no information. He couldn’t get any of the pumps to move, since there was nothing to power them. So there was nothing to do but wait. That is where he was when the first hydrogen explosion happened. There were no windows in the control room, so he only heard it—an awful noise. The phones were still working, and he learned from a coworker that reactor 1 had exploded, and was thick with smoke.
About 2-3 hours after the explosion, an older employee said at least all the guys in their 20s and 30s should go to the quake-proof building, which is built with thick steel-enforced concrete [i.e., younger workers should evacuate there because the radiation levels are lower]. By then, more people had come in to work, and there were quite a few present who were in their 40s and 50s. So it was decided that all the younger men would evacuate—about 20 to 30 people total. They put on full face masks, light protective gear, and gloves to protect themselves from radioactive contamination, then ran together to the building, 350 meters away. The area was covered in debris, so they couldn’t use any of the cars onsite. They ended up running about 1 km to avoid getting too close to reactors 1 and 2.
Once they got there, he heard that two coworkers who had been sent to reactor 4 were missing. The building they had evacuated to still had power, so they could use the computers. But they still couldn’t do anything. All they could do was wait. They were still there during the explosion at reactor 3 on March 14th. Then the fuel rods in reactor 2 were damaged. The young TEPCO workers evacuated to a gym at the Daini nuclear power plant. They stayed there until the evening of March 16th, and then were told to go home.
After a week, the young worker was told to come back. His father didn’t say anything, but his mother told him not to go. But he told himself, “Who is there but us? This is happening in the town I grew up in. I need to keep the damage to a minimum.”
He did work like helping other workers out of their protective gear and handling the power switches for various machines at the entrance of a reactor building.
When he had been waiting in the quake-proof building, he had learned that two of his coworkers were missing. Someone started a rumor online that they were just enjoying themselves in Koriyama, drinking and joking about having pretended to be victims of the tsunami. Their bodies were found on March 30th, in one of the lower levels. The cause of death was shock from external bleeding from various injuries. Like him, they had been working in reactor 4 as ordered by their superior when the tsunami hit.
Things started to calm down in fall 2011, and he started to worry about the impact of the working conditions from that earlier period. His radiation exposure levels had not been recorded. He had been working without an APD (active personal dosimeter).
Note: It is industry standard for all workers to carry a personal dosimeter with them to record their external radiation exposure levels. According to a study summarized by the Radiation Work Network (Hibaku Rodo Network), the amount recorded can vary significantly even depending on where the dosimeter is kept on the body. It should also be noted that there are frequent reports of various workarounds to manipulate radiation exposure measurements. Though journalistic reports of the Japanese nuclear industry have suggested that conditions improved when records started being digitally displayed instead of being transcribed by hand, personal dosimeter measurements remain one of the things that are made flexible in a work-related pinch. Some workers who go to areas with high radiation levels are not issued APDs; sometimes a veteran worker might take both his and a subordinate’s APD with him to make that worker’s exposure levels seem lower or higher; etc. (In some cases, workers want their exposure levels to seem lower than they actually are to stay under the exposure limit so they can keep working).
At first, this was because nearly all the APDs were lost in the tsunami. Of the 5000 or so APDs that were onsite, only the 320 or so stored in the earthquake-proof building remained. At first, TEPCO said there would be enough to go around if only one representative from each work team used an APD. But even after huge amount of APDs were sent to 1F from other nuclear power plants, TEPCO kept up with this policy. So about 3000 people continued working without APDs.
Radiation levels varied significantly by location (0.03-0.04 millisieverts/hr in the central control room, versus 1 millisievert/hr+ close to the exhaust stacks where the hydrogen explosions had occurred). But the radiation levels for all members of a team were recorded as the same as that of the team leader.
Note: This account actually understates the extreme degree to which radiation levels can vary onsite. There are small hotspots with extremely high radiation levels, whose locations might change with conditions in the plant. One worker remembered being told to stay away from a particular corner. The radiation levels there were 600-some millisieverts/hour. He was shocked, and said, “600 millisieverts, not microsieverts?” To which he received the dry reply, “That’s right, millisieverts. In microsieverts, it would be 600,000 per hour.” The area was not cordoned or marked off in any way. This was a few years after the meltdown. (For reference, average radiation levels in Fukushima prior to the meltdown were 0.05~0.07 microsieverts/hr; the international standard for the general population’s annual exposure limit is 1 millisievert/year).
On March 31st, TEPCO was issued a warning by the Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency, and subsequently recommenced issuing one APD per person. After that, workers were told that the company would correct its records of their radiation exposure levels. They were asked for details about where they had worked during the first week. But they probably couldn’t do much to correct the numbers, since no one had measurements of the radiation levels in different areas of the site at that time.
The first time they were able to measure their internal radiation levels was in early summer. A bus drove a simplified whole body counter (WBC) to Iwaki city, and measurements were taken. But the data was not shared with the workers. They were told it could not be share with them because it was “personal information.”
After repeatedly asking for it, the young worker finally got his data. He found his internal exposure level had been recorded at 50 millisieverts (mSv). Combined with his external exposure of 30 mSv, he had been exposed to a total of 80 mSv. When he thought about the standards for occupational illness recognition, he became afraid. It’s 5 mSv for leukemia; 25 mSv for a malignant lymph tumor; 50 mSv for multiple myeloma; 100 mSv for stomach cancer or esophageal cancer… He wanted to get married down the road and have kids… What if he got cancer 20 years later?
Note: Radioactive particles cycle through the body at different speeds according to their chemical properties. For example, Cesium-137 and Cesium-134 generally remain in the body for about one month. Additionally, much of the radiation emitted during the early stages of a nuclear meltdown comes from radioactive isotopes with short half-lives. A WBC is unable to measure the amount of radiation that was emitted by particles that already cycled out of someone’s body, nor can it measure the amount of radiation that had been emitted by particles that have already ceased to emit radiation. Consequently, even the figure of 50 mSv is an underestimation of his total internal dose from the nuclear meltdown.
<<Rough translations start here>>
He asked to be transferred, but his superior refused, telling him, “You haven’t gotten to 100 mSv yet. I’ll let out people with high exposure levels first.”
He thought about quitting. His mother encouraged him as well. But, he thought to himself, the reality is that about half of the hires at TEPCO are local people. If we don’t go, who will? Not to mention, all of my neighbors, relatives, and classmates know that I work at TEPCO. If I quit, maybe they will reproach me, asking “Why did you quit?”
It wasn’t just this young worker who thought that way. Many people kept their mouths shut, tortured with worry. Running away was scary; continuing to work was scary.
Every time he left for work, he felt like there was no place for him to run. Some people became depressed a few weeks after the disaster. At first, people were working thinking, “What can you do,” but now that it was fall, he felt like he was becoming depressed…
The young TEPCO worker wondered to himself, as one member of a worksite that tasked itself with providing “the safe energy of the future,” why had things turned out like this for him?
The company created something this dangerous in their pursuit of profit. They ignored the opinions of experts. Why didn’t they implement measures so that even if a tsunami came, they could continue to cool the reactors using the emergency power generators?
There had been times when the president of TEPCO and senior directors came to the site.
“Thank you.”—That’s what they would say. Even though he heard them, he could not feel that he was being thanked for his labor. They were not saying, “I’m sorry that we caused you this hardship,” or “Hang in there.” They said it as though it was entirely someone else’s affair, and he felt the insurmountable distance between conditions on the ground and company headquarters in Tokyo.
Residents of Fukushima often said, “Move your headquarters to Naraha town (where the nuclear power plant is), don’t leave it in the top-class district of Shimbashi [in Tokyo].” Even as a TEPCO local hire, he could understand their feelings.
He feels that people view the circumstances of those like him who are at Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant like, “This is where we are; what else is there to do?” But he wants others to know that it’s not that everyone is resting on their laurels. At the very least, he did all he could in the midst of that terror.
His dad said, “It’s the people on the ground that lose.” That’s exactly how it is.
The young TEPCO worker’s request to be transferred was granted after more than a year had passed. But, he was told it was for a “limited time,” and after a few years he was issued another appointment, and returned to Fukushima.
Pages 40-43:
The Reality That 26% of Men in Their 50s Are Without Work
People chose many paths in the life they lived with TEPCO. There were people who stayed at Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, and there were people who left, seeking a different path. But there are also people who can’t go forward, who can’t help being fixed to one spot. Men in their 50s, who have trouble finding new employment.
A man in in his 50s who had done electricity-related work at Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant was speaking at an evacuation center in Iwaki city, his face red: “I’m never going back to 1F (Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant).” There was an open one-cup sake can next to him. A man I spoke to in Saitama was also saying, “I didn’t know it was so dangerous.” He was also about 50 years old. But, if they left their jobs, there was no way they were going to find work.
Though not limited to TEPCO-related workers, Fukushima University conducted a survey of the residents of the municipalities of Futaba County, which surround the nuclear power plant, in February to March 2017. There were 10,081 respondents. 31%, the largest percentage, responded that they had “little hope” for their future work or lives. 19% responded that they had “absolutely no hope.” 26% of those in their 50s reported being without work.
Note: She says “TEPCO-related” because the nuclear industry is composed of multiple layers of subcontractors. Power companies contract work out to monolith “zenekon,” or general contractors, like Mitsubishi, Hitachi, Toshiba, and so on. These companies then parcel out jobs to a vast array of subcontractors, who then further distribute the work through their own networks. There have been reports of at most 7 or even 12 layers of subcontractors, though a local expert noted that it would probably be impossible for the lowest-level subcontracting company to break even if the reports of 7+ layers were true.
Many people who worked at the nuclear power plant lived in Naraha town, on the southern side of Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant.
A man who was 48 years old at the time of the disaster, who ran a subcontracting company in Naraha town and worked as a site foreman, went to work in Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant right after the accident in March 2011.
The site was wrecked. It completely overturned his sense that nuclear power plants are safe.
He was called to Fukushima Daiichi again in April of that year, but after that he thought, “I don’t want to see that wrecked nuclear power plant anymore,” and went to Saitama prefecture, where his wife and children had evacuated.
In September 2015, Naraha town’s evacuation orders were lifted. Shortly thereafter, he returned to his hometown. He renovated his house, and, wanting his family to return, he left a cumulative dosimeter in the house to measure its radiation levels. After one year, it read 0.1 mSv. He explained to his wife, “The radiation levels aren’t that high. I know because I’ve worked at the nuclear power plant.”
“I don’t want to be close to the nuclear power plant.”
That was his wife’s reply.
While displaced, the man developed diabetes, and in May 2016, he was diagnosed with depression. Since, he has been seeing a psychotherapist.
When I heard his story in April 2017, he was 54 years old. With white hair and a tired face, he looked far older than his fifty years.
His eldest son and eldest daughter are both in their 20s and working. His wife and children already bought a house in Saitama. Before, he would drive two hours and forty minutes one way to be with his family in Saitama. But before he realized it, his visits became rare, and he said he could not remember the last time he went.
Their life over there must be better now…
He wanted to be with his family. He is lonely and sad. He started to drink. Whenever he has time, he drinks. When he drinks, he feels a little better. When he gets sober, he starts to feel sad again. So he drinks again. If he drinks, he gets sleepy. It’s more of a “win” to fall asleep drinking.
But even so, he has fitful sleep, and at the very least he wakes up twice during the night. It’s a cruel cycle.
About 2 months after the national government lifted Naraha town’s evacuation orders, the returnee rate was at the 4% mark. Even later, it did not rise much, and the town stopped publishing statistics with the 11.1% it recorded in March 2017. Instead, it now publishes “town resident percentages,” which include new residents such as new nuclear power plant workers and recovery construction workers.
In the last available statistics on returnees, published in March 2017, 65% were in their 60s or older, and 5% were minors.
In the former site foreman’s neighborhood, only elderly people in their 60s to 80s have returned. He is the youngest in his block. He said to me, “I don’t know what is going to happen at the nuclear power plant so I think I’m going to quit. I want to work a normal job and die normally. It’s not like I can find new work now – what should I do? Right now, we get 160,000 yen per month as compensation, but TEPCO is saying it will stop paying. Are they telling us to die?”
His son was a nuclear worker, too. Their pride in their work, their life with their families, and their health was broken… They don’t have the energy to get back on their feet anymore.
https://jfissures.wordpress.com/2018/11/18/excerpts-from-asahi-journalist-aoki-mikis-streets-erased-from-the-map-post-3-11-the-prohibited-truth/

November 25, 2018 Posted by | Fukushima 2018 | , , , | Leave a comment