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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/

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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.
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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

B.S. Propaganda Explaining that Radioactive Water Sea Dumping in Fukushima is Essential

As always the propaganda organs of the nuclear village and of the Japanese government are lying by omission, twisting the real facts, in order to justify their intention to dump the Fukushima daiichi’s 7 years accumulated radioactive water at Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant into the sea, to dump it into the Pacif Ocean would be criminal, plain ecocide.
As this 920 000 tons of radioactive water is not only tritium-laced water as the media would like the public to believe. It contains also other types of harmful radionuclides as Tepco has recently admitted:
TEPCO Admitted Almost 200 Billion Bq of Priorly Undeclared Radionuclides Water Contamination
Radioactive tritium and other types of radionuclides in Fukushima nuclear plant water, despite water treatment
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‘Carefully explaining treated water discharge in Fukushima essential’

Sept. 4, 2018
How should “treated water,” which continues to accumulate at Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings, Inc.’s Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant, be disposed of? A plan must be quickly decided so this water does not cause delays in reactor decommissioning work.
Water is used to cool the reactor cores that melted down at the nuclear plant. Groundwater also flows into the plant, where it becomes contaminated by radioactive substances. Water collected at the site and passed through a purification facility is called “treated water.”
More than 900,000 tons of such water is being stored in tanks. This volume is said to be expected to increase by 50,000 tons to 80,000 tons each year.
About 900 tanks of various types already have been built on the plant’s premises. Finding space for additional tanks is becoming increasingly difficult, and plans to build more tanks run only until the end of 2020. If these tanks fill up the plant’s premises, there likely will not be enough room to perform the work needed to decommission the reactors.
The problem is that about 900 trillion becquerels of the radioactive substance tritium (an isotope known as hydrogen-3) remain in the treated water. In principle, removing tritium from water is difficult. The most promising option is releasing this water into the ocean. This would be done after dilution to bring the concentration of tritium to acceptable standards.
Tritium is generated daily at nuclear plants in Japan and overseas and then discharged into the sea in accordance with set standards. The volume released from Japanese nuclear power plants during the five years before the March 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake averaged about 380 trillion becquerels per year.
Relieve locals’ concerns
Each year, cosmic rays create about 70 quadrillion becquerels of tritium. Japan’s annual rainfall naturally contains about 223 trillion becquerels. The Economy, Trade and Industry Ministry and the Nuclear Regulation Authority have explained that levels of tritium below a certain concentration have no negative impact on the environment, among other things.
Releasing tritiated water into the ocean, after the safety of this process has been thoroughly confirmed, is unavoidable.
At public hearings held by the ministry in a bid to turn this plan into reality, many attendees offered the opinion that assurances of the safety of discharging this water “couldn’t be trusted.”
Although this is a technically complex problem, the materials and explanations given at these hearings were very simple. As the explanations were made on the assumption that attendees had basic knowledge about topics such as radiation, attendees demanded the ministry “reexamine the plan from scratch.”
Criticism also focused on the fact that radioactive substances other than tritium remain in the treated water. This was triggered by some media reports on the issue just before the hearings.
Since four years ago, TEPCO has explained it attached great importance to efficiency in the purification process. This was to reduce the impact of radiation on workers at the plant and other people. TEPCO plans to remove the remaining radioactive substances when the water is discharged, but this process was not mentioned in the materials distributed at the hearings.
It appears the lack of explanation about possible risks has fueled the backlash to the discharge plan.
Locals, including people involved in the fishing industry, oppose releasing the water into the ocean because of possible damage and losses arising from negative public misperceptions. They are concerned that discharging treated water could once again have a negative impact on confidence in products from the area, which has been slowly recovering.
Of course, efforts must be made to call on local residents to get behind the plan. The government and TEPCO also should take stronger measures over wide areas to counter harmful misperceptions.

September 6, 2018 Posted by | Fukushima 2018 | , , , , | Leave a comment

Extreme makeover: Fukushima nuclear plant tries image overhaul

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Officials have been gradually trying to rebrand the Fukushima nuclear plant, bringing in school groups, diplomats and other visitors
 
August 3, 2018
Call it an extreme makeover: In Japan’s Fukushima, officials are attempting what might seem impossible, an image overhaul at the site of the worst nuclear meltdown in decades.
At the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant, there’s a flashy new administrative building, debris has been moved and covered, and officials tout the “light” radioactive security measures now possible.
“You see people moving around on foot, just in their uniforms. Before that was banned,” an official from the plant’s operator TEPCO says.
“These cherry blossoms bloom in the spring,” he adds, gesturing to nearby foliage.
If it sounds like a hard sell, that might be because the task of rehabilitating the plant’s reputation is justifiably Herculean.
In 2011, a massive earthquake triggered a devastating tsunami that killed thousands and prompted the meltdown of several reactors.
It was the worst nuclear disaster since Chernobyl, and has had devastating psychological and financial effects on the region.
But TEPCO officials have been gradually trying to rebrand the plant, bringing in school groups, diplomats and other visitors, and touting a plan to attract 20,000 people a year by 2020, when Tokyo hosts the Summer Olympics.
 
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Upbeat messaging from Fukushima’s operator TEPCO belies the enormity of the challenge to decommission the plant
 
Officials point out that protective gear is no longer needed in most of the plant, except for a small area, where some 3,000 to 4,000 workers are still decontaminating the facility.
Since May, visitors have been able to move around near the reactors on foot, rather than only in vehicles, and they can wear “very light equipment,” insists TEPCO spokesman Kenji Abe.
That ensemble includes trousers, long sleeves, a disposable face mask, glasses, gloves, special shoes and two pairs of socks, with the top pair pulled up over the trouser hem to seal the legs underneath.
And of course there’s a geiger counter.
The charm offensive extends beyond the plant, with TEPCO in July resuming television and billboard adverts for the first time since 2011, featuring a rabbit mascot with electrical bolt whiskers called “Tepcon”.
But the upbeat messaging belies the enormity of the task TEPCO faces to decommission the plant.
It has installed an “icewall” that extends deep into the ground around the plant in a bid to prevent groundwater seeping in and becoming decontaminated, or radioactive water from inside flowing out to the sea.
 
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About 100,000 litres of water still seeps into the plant each day, which requires extensive treatment to reduce its radioactivity
 
But about 100,000 litres (26,400 gallons) of water still seeps into the plant each day, some of which is used for cooling. It requires extensive treatment to reduce its radioactivity.
Once treated, the water is stored in tanks, which have multiplied around the plant as officials wrangle over what to do with the contaminated liquid.
There are already nearly 900 tanks containing a million cubic metres of water—equal to about 400 Olympic swimming pools.
And the last stage of decommissioning involves the unprecedented task of extracting molten nuclear fuel from the reactors.
“There was the Chernobyl accident, but they didn’t remove the debris,” said Katsuyoshi Oyama, who holds the title of TEPCO’s “risk communicator”.
“So for what we have to do here, there is no reference.”

August 6, 2018 Posted by | Fukushima 2018 | , , , | Leave a comment

Fukushima Prefecture as if nothing has happened

Fukushima Pref. beach opens to swimmers for 1st time after tsunami, nuclear disasters

 

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Children play at Haragamaobama Beach, which opened for swimmers for the first time in eight years in the city of Soma, Fukushima Prefecture, on July 21.
July 21, 2018
SOMA, Fukushima — Haragamaobama Beach here was opened to swimmers on July 21 for the first time in eight years after the area was struck in March 2011 by a massive tsunami following the Great East Japan Earthquake.
The beach is the first in the northern part of the prefecture to reopen after the disaster. Three beaches earlier opened in the southern city of Iwaki.
Haragamaobama Beach attracted about 56,500 people in 2010. However, 207 people in the area died in the March 11, 2011 disaster, and the tsunami littered the beach with debris.
The beach is about 45 kilometers away from the Fukushima No. 1 Nuclear Power Plant, which was struck by meltdowns following the quake and tsunami. The city has not found any detectable levels of radioactive substances in seawater quality tests it started in 2016. It reopened the beach after preparing tsunami evacuation routes.
Sayaka Mori, 29, a nursing care worker in the northern prefectural city of Minamisoma, came to the beach with her 3-year-old daughter and played at the water’s edge. “I grew up at my home in front of the sea. It was natural to play at the beach. I want my child to know the delight of playing in the sea,” she said.

Only 24 of 70 beaches reopen to public since 2011 tsunami

 

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A family plays on Hirota public beach in Rikuzentakata, Iwate Prefecture, on July 20.
July 20, 2018
RIKUZENTAKATA, Iwate Prefecture–A public beach officially opened here July 20 for the first time in eight years, underscoring the destruction of sites along the Tohoku coast that bore the initial brunt of the 2011 tsunami.
Hirota beach in Rikuzentakata, a city that was devastated in the disaster, is one of 24 beaches that will be officially open to the public this summer in the prefectures of Iwate, Miyagi and Fukushima.
That figure is only about a third of the 70 that were available before the Great East Japan Earthquake and tsunami struck the Tohoku region on March 11, 2011.
Miho Mitsui, who lives in Rikuzentakata’s Hirotacho district, visited Hirota beach with her two young daughters on the morning of July 20.
“Until this year, we were disappointed at being unable to go into the sea, especially with the water so clear,” the 28-year-old homemaker said. “I want to come here every day.”
Before the 2011 disaster, Hirota and the city’s other public beach, Takata Matsubara, were key parts of social life among the locals.
Takata Matsubara beach became known as the site where a pine forest was wiped out by the tsunami, leaving only one “miracle pine tree” standing. The tree has since died, and the city is still trying to restore sand at the beach, which is still not officially open to the public.
For “officially opened” beaches, municipal governments and other operators provide maintenance and other care, check the water quality to ensure safety, and operate necessary facilities.
But at some of the sites in the Tohoku region, the beaches have essentially disappeared.
In the village of Tanohata, Iwate Prefecture, more than 100 kilometers north of Rikuzentakata, the two public beaches have been closed to the public over the past eight years for the construction of seawalls.
Tanohata Mayor Hiroshi Ishihara decided to use the Tsukuehama beach as a temporary public beach from July 26, saying it is “undesirable to deprive children, who live in the coastal village, of the experience of swimming in the sea.”
Haragamaobama beach in Soma, Fukushima Prefecture, about 40 kilometers north of the crippled Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant, is also scheduled to reopen for the first time in eight years on July 21.
But south of the nuclear plant, in Iwaki, Fukushima Prefecture, the city government in May decided that Kattsuo beach could no longer be considered a public beach. Much of the sandy area of the beach disappeared in plate movements caused by the offshore earthquake as well as the construction of seawalls.
Nobiru beach and the surrounding area in Higashi-Matsushima, Miyagi Prefecture, will remain closed for now.
A city government official said the beach area will reopen once “escape routes are set up (for possible future tsunami).”
The Iwate prefectural government has set up a technical review committee to explore the feasibility of restoring sand at Negishi beach in Kamaishi and Namiita beach in Otsuchi that were hit hard by the tsunami.

July 23, 2018 Posted by | Fukushima 2018 | , , | Leave a comment

Japan touts completion of Fukushima cleanup at tripartite environment meeting in China

Lies, lies… and more lies!!!
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Jun 24, 2018
SUZHOU – Environment Minister Masaharu Nakagawa told his counterparts from China and South Korea on Sunday that radioactive decontamination work following the 2011 Fukushima nuclear disaster is “all done” except for so-called difficult-to-return-to zones.
At the 20th Tripartite Environment Ministers’ Meeting held in Suzhou, in eastern China, Nakagawa also used the opportunity to again request the lifting of food import restrictions from prefectures hit by the Fukushima disaster.
Beijing has banned food imports from 10 prefectures surrounding the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant, while Seoul has blocked Japanese seafood imports from eight prefectures.
Nakagawa explained to Chinese Ecology and Environment Minister Li Ganjie and South Korean Environment Minister Kim Eun-kyung that Japan has strict food safety standards in place that exceed international requirements. “Environmental regeneration in Fukushima is progressing steadily,” he said.
The three ministers also agreed on a policy to discuss the problem of plastic microparticles and their effect on marine pollution at a Group of 20 ministerial meeting on energy transitions and the global environment for sustainable growth in Karuizawa, Nagano Prefecture, next June.
In addition, they adopted a joint statement including a pledge to promote information sharing on the problem of venomous fire ants, which have over the past year repeatedly been brought to Japan in containers shipped from China.
The ministers also decided to hold next year’s tripartite meeting in Japan. It has been held annually in rotation among the three countries since 1999.

June 26, 2018 Posted by | Fukushima 2018 | , , , | Leave a comment

The Reality of Fukushima Radiation Pollution Exposure

From Kennichi Abe

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“When people nationwide will know about the reality of radiation pollution exposure after 3.11, there are no people who will come to Fukushima prefecture.
There is no report as to the fact that it can be dangerous. There is no news in Fukushima except that it doesn’t matter.”

June 13, 2018 Posted by | Fukushima 2018 | , , | Leave a comment

‘Everything is fine and delicious in Fukushima’ according to the director the Fukushima Reconstruction Promotion Group at the minister’s secretariat of the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry.

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Fukushima, seven years on
by Hideyasu Tamura
May 21, 2018
More than seven years have passed since the Great East Japan Earthquake and subsequent accident at Tokyo Electric Power Co.’s Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant in 2011. A successful decommissioning of the plant and reconstruction of Fukushima is one of the most important missions of the government, especially the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry. Since 2016, I’ve been involved in the ministry’s special unit on Fukushima reconstruction, and mainly charged with a mission to eliminate reputational damage.
After the accident, the government set very stringent standards on the level of radioactive substances in food (in principle, 100 becquerel/kg: 10 times stricter than the Codex radionuclides standard), and any food product exceeding that level is prohibited for market distribution. Food products from Fukushima have undergone stringent monitoring, including all-volume inspection on rice and beef. Since 2015, not a single grain of rice or any piece of beef has been found with radioactive substances exceeding that level.
Nevertheless, around 12 percent of consumers in Japan tend to avoid agricultural and fishery products from Fukushima, according to a Consumer Affairs Agency survey. Since such reputational damage lingers even at home, the popular perception gap concerning Fukushima is likely even more serious overseas. With a view toward bridging that gap, I would like to highlight the following facts.
First, in the 12 municipalities in Fukushima Prefecture where evacuation orders were introduced after the nuclear disaster (Futaba, Hirono, Iitate, Kawamata, Kawauchi, Katsurao, Minamisoma, Namie, Naraha, Okuma, Tamura and Tomioka), the number of companies in the industrial estates has doubled from 35 before the disaster (in December 2010) to 70 in January. Some of the companies that have newly launched operation there engage in business that are relatively new to this area, such as the recycling of lithium-ion batteries and the production of internet-of-things devices that are wearable.
The establishment of the new companies have been facilitated by government incentives, including subsidies on investments that cover up to three-quarters of the investment cost, as well as the development of industrial infrastructure, such as the Fukushima Robot Test Field in Minamisoma and Namie. The test field, where any entity can use an extensive site (approximately 50 hectares) for demonstration experiments of robots and drones, is the core facility of the Fukushima Innovation Coast Framework.
This shows that the areas of Fukushima hit by the nuclear disaster have already become safe enough for businesses to operate. Private-sector companies never launch operations in locations where their employees’ safety is not ensured, even when the government provides most favorable incentives.
Second, as another proof of the area’s safety, the current situation of the Fukushima No. 1 plant should be highlighted. Today, workers can enter 96 percent of the site without any special radiation protection gear because the air dose rate has significantly decreased compared with right after the accident.
In addition, through multi-layered measures (e.g., the construction of frozen soil walls to suppress the inflow of groundwater as well as the pumping up of groundwater), the generation of contaminated water has been significantly reduced and prevented from leaking into the ocean. As a result, the concentration of radioactive materials in the sea water surrounding the plant has declined from 10,000 becquerels per liter as of March 2011 to below the detection limit (less than 0.7 becquerel per liter) since 2016.
The successful management of contaminated water has resulted in the improved safety of Fukushima’s fishery products. No marine products caught off Fukushima has exceeded the standard limit (100 becquerel/kg) in monitoring surveys over the fiscal years from 2015 to 2017.
Third, evacuation orders were lifted in many parts of the 12 municipalities by April 2017, and areas still under such orders account for approximately 2.7 percent of the prefecture’s total space — compared with 8 percent when the zoning was set in 2013. In several municipalities where evacuation orders were lifted up relatively early (such as the city of Tamura and the village of Kawauchi), around 80 percent of local residents have returned to their homes. Even in the areas where evacuation orders remain in place, efforts to improve the living environment have begun to pave the way for return of residents at the earliest possible time.
Needless to say, many challenges remain toward the successful reconstruction of Fukushima. The decommissioning of the Fukushima No. 1 plant is expected to take 30 to 40 years. To carry out the decommissioning, the retrieval of the melted nuclear fuel debris will be a major hurdle, and efforts to probe the inside of the reactor structures just started in 2015. In several towns where the evacuation orders were lifted only last year, less than 10 percent of local residents have returned to their homes. The improvement of living environment is an urgent task for those towns in order to encourage more residents to return.
Despite these challenges, the safety of Fukushima both in terms of its food products and the living/working environment in most parts of the prefecture has been proven. It is a pity that several countries/regions still impose import restrictions on Japanese food products (including those from Fukushima) and some people still hesitate to visit Fukushima for tourism or business. I wish that more people will visit Fukushima to taste the delicious and world’s safest rice, peaches and fish, and that more companies would be interested in utilizing advanced facilities/infrastructure such as the Fukushima Robot Test Field, and invest in Fukushima by taking advantage of the most favorable incentives in this country. Peaches will be harvested every year, but subsidies and other incentives will not last forever — so, the fast-movers will get the advantages.
Hideyasu Tamura is director the Fukushima Reconstruction Promotion Group at the minister’s secretariat of the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry.

May 23, 2018 Posted by | Fukushima 2018 | , , , | Leave a comment

Fukushima Quote of the Day

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“We achieved the sixth straight year of victory despite the severe situation due to rumors about radiation contamination”.

Fukushima Governor Masao Uchibori, speaking at a ceremony after the National Research Institute of Brewing awarded Fukushima Prefecture the national sake title for an unprecedented sixth straight year.

May 23, 2018 Posted by | Fukushima 2018 | , , , | 1 Comment

Amount of food with radioactive cesium exceeding gov’t standards ‘dropping’, so they claim

So they say…..But why should we believe such study coming from the Japanese Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry research team to be true? Especially when we know that their main policy has been a constant denial of the existing risks for the past 7 years…..
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March 22, 2018
The number of cases in which radioactive cesium exceeding Japanese government standards was found in food items dropped to less than 20 percent over a five-year period from fiscal 2012, a health ministry study has found.
 
The government standards for radioactive cesium came into effect in April 2012, which assumed that half of distributed food products contained the radioactive element generated by the 2011 disaster at the Fukushima No. 1 Nuclear Power Plant. It is set at 100 becquerels per kilogram for common food items, 50 becquerels per kilogram for baby food and cow milk and 10 becquerels for drinking water.
 
Based on central government guidelines, 17 prefectural governments, counting Tokyo, check food products in which radioactive cesium is likely to be detected, including items that have been distributed, for the radioactive element. Other local governments have also been independently inspecting such food products to confirm their safety. A Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry research team analyzed data compiled by local governments, excluding that of beef, which has an extremely low detection rate for cesium, as well as products that go through bag-by-bag inspections such as rice from Fukushima Prefecture.
 
As a result, the number of cases that exceeded the threshold set under the Food Sanitation Act totaled 2,359 of 91,547 food products inspected in fiscal 2012. In fiscal 2013, it was 1,025 out of 90,824 products, 565 out of 79,067 in fiscal 2014, 291 out of 66,663 in fiscal 2015 and 460 out of 63,121 in fiscal 2016.
 
Broken down by categories, 641 cases of food items among agricultural produce were found to have exceeded the government standards for radioactive cesium and 1,072 cases were detected among fishery products in fiscal 2012, but the figure had dropped to 71 and 11, respectively, in fiscal 2016. For fishery products, this is believed to be attributed to the reduction of cesium concentration in the seawater as the element had diffused in the ocean. It is also believed that the concentration in agricultural items had dropped as a result of decontamination work and other efforts.
 
At the same time, the number of cases exceeding national standards totaled 493 for game meat in fiscal 2012, and 378 in fiscal 2016. Researchers suspect that because wild animals continue to feed on wild mushrooms and plants with high concentrations of radioactive cesium growing in forests that have not been decontaminated, the figure does not drop among game meat products.
Almost all the foods that exceeded the government standards for radioactive cesium had not been available to consumers as the contamination was detected during inspections before being shipped to markets. However, Akiko Hachisuka of the National Institute of Health Sciences Biochemistry Division who headed the Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry research team says game meat and wild mushrooms need to be prioritized in inspections for the time being and also in the future.
 
Among wild mushrooms and other products that had been distributed to markets, 19 cases exceeding government standards were reported in fiscal 2012, seven in fiscal 2013, 11 in fiscal 2014, 12 in fiscal 2015 and 10 in fiscal 2016.
 

March 22, 2018 Posted by | Fukushima 2018 | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Fukushima tourism finally rebounds from 2010’s triple disasters

Proving that covering up,  disinformation and censorship are working very well. Those tourists are certainly unaware that they might bring back from Fukushima more than just wrapped souvenirs….wrapped inside their body.
5 March, 2018
Nearly seven years after the triple disasters of earthquake, tsunami and nuclear meltdown virtually crippled Fukushima’s tourism industry, the number of foreign overnight travellers has recovered to levels last seen before the disaster.
In the first 10 months of calendar 2017, a total of 78,680 foreign visitors spent at least one night in the prefecture, surpassing the 77,890 visitors in the same period in 2010. Final statistics for the full year are not available, but prefectural authorities expect the 2017 figure to eclipse 2010’s figure of 87,170 foreigners who stayed in the prefecture.
Ouchijuku-Villlage-Fukushima.jpg
Tourist visiting Ouchijuku Village, a former post town along the Aizu-Nishi Kaido trade route in Fukushima
 
Visitor numbers collapsed in the months after the March 11 earthquake and a mere 23,990 foreigners stayed in calendar 2011.
“We have been working with the Fukushima government to promote the prefecture at international events, focusing on events in countries where we have already seen visitor numbers recover, such as Taiwan, Thailand and Australia,” said Kazuhiko Yoshioka, director of overseas promotion for the Fukushima Prefecture Tourism and Local Products Association.
Yoshioka shared that the organisation plugs the prefecture’s samurai history, onsen, fruit, scenery and seasonal highlights as part of overseas promotion. Information on the destination is also shared online.
“Getting the message across can be difficult,” he admitted. “We have found that the best way to overcome worries about safety is to ensure that up-to-date and accurate information is accessible and then to share that information as widely as possible.”
Travel operators concur that visitor numbers have bounced back strongly.
Paul Christie, CEO of Walk Japan, said the company’s walking tour in the footsteps of famous poet Basho in Tohoku are “selling very well – so well, in fact, that they are sold out months in advance.”
“We have found that whatever problems happened in Fukushima seven years ago are no longer in the forefront of people’s minds,” he said. “I have been quite surprised, but it is really not an issue for the vast majority of people.”
At Nippon Travel Agency, Kaho Mori, assistant manager of the inbound division, observed: “There is interest in Fukushima Prefecture as part of our tours of the Tohoku region. We are getting a lot of interest in that part of the country from visitors from North America, although less from European countries.”

March 6, 2018 Posted by | Fukushima 2018 | , , , | Leave a comment