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Farmers in Fukushima plant indigo to rebuild devastated town

March 2, 2021

MINAMISOMA, Japan — Because of radiation released by the Fukushima nuclear plant disaster a decade ago, farmers in nearby Minamisoma weren’t allowed to grow crops for two years.

After the restriction was lifted, two farmers, Kiyoko Mori and Yoshiko Ogura, found an unusual way to rebuild their lives and help their destroyed community. They planted indigo and soon began dying fabric with dye produced from the plants.

“Dyeing lets us forget the bad things” for a while, Mori said. “It’s a process of healing for us.”

The massive earthquake and tsunami on March 11, 2011, caused three of the reactors at the nuclear plant to melt and wrecked more than just the farmers’ livelihoods. The homes of many people in Minamisoma, about 20 kilometers (12 miles) from the plant, were destroyed by the tsunami. The disaster killed 636 town residents, and tens of thousands of others left to start new lives.

Mori and Ogura believed that indigo dyeing could help people in the area recover.

Mori said they were concerned at first about consuming locally grown food, but felt safe raising indigo because it wouldn’t be eaten. They checked the radiation level of the indigo leaves and found no dangerous amount.

Ten years after the disaster, Mori and Ogura are still engaged in indigo dyeing but have different missions.

To Mori, it has become a tool for building a strong community in a devastated town and for fighting unfounded rumors that products from Fukushima are still contaminated. She favors the typical indigo dyeing process that requires some chemical additives.

But Ogura has chosen to follow a traditional technique that uses fermentation instead as a way to send a message against dangers of modern technology highlighted by nuclear power.

Mori formed a group called Japan Blue which holds workshops that have taught indigo dyeing to more than 100 people each year. She hopes the project will help rebuild the dwindling town’s sense of community.

Despite a new magnitude 7.3 earthquake that recently hit the area, the group did not cancel its annual exhibition at a community center that served as an evacuation center 10 years ago.

“Every member came to the exhibition, saying they can clean up the debris in their houses later,” Mori said.

Ogura, who is not a member of the group, feels that a natural process is important because the nuclear accident showed that relying on advanced technology for efficiency while ignoring its negative aspects can lead to bad consequences.

“I really suffered during the nuclear accident,” Ogura said. “We escaped frantically in the confusion. I felt I was doing something similar again” by using chemicals.

“We seek too much in the way of many varieties of beautiful colors created with the use of chemicals. We once thought our lives were enriched by it, but I started feeling that wasn’t the case,” she said. “I want people to know what the real natural color looks like.”

Organic indigo dyes take more time and closer attention. Ogura first ferments chopped indigo leaves with water for a month and then mixes the result with lye which is formed on the surface of a mixture of hot water and ashes. It has to be kept at about 20 degrees C (68 degrees F) and stirred three times a day.

Part of the beauty of the process, Ogura says, is that it’s hard to predict what color will be produced.

With the support of city officials, Ogura started making silk face masks dyed with organic indigo.

She used to run an organic restaurant where she served her own vegetables before the disaster, but now runs a guesthouse with her husband in which visitors can try organic indigo dyeing.

Just 700 meters (2,300 feet) from Ogura’s house, countless black bags filled with weakly contaminated debris and soil are piled along the roadside. They have been there since after the disaster, according to Ogura’s husband, Ryuichi. Other piles are scattered around the town.

“The government says it’s not harmful to leave them there. But if they really think it’s not harmful, they should take them to Tokyo and keep them near them,” he said.

The radiation waste stored in the town is scheduled to be moved to a medium-term storage facility by March next year, a town official said.


March 6, 2021 Posted by | Fukushima 2021 | , , , | Leave a comment

In Rural Fukushima, ‘The Border Between Monkeys And Humans Has Blurred’

Shuichi Kanno, 79, walks in front of his home at dusk. Kanno has been dealing with hordes of macaque monkeys in his neighborhood in Japan. They frequently wake him up as they climb over his roof in the early morning hours.

September 10, 2020

Shuichi Kanno rips tape off the top of a large cardboard box at his house in the mountains in Fukushima prefecture in Japan. He opens the box and rustles around to pull out pack after pack of long, thin Roman candle fireworks. The words “Animal Exterminating Firework” are written in Japanese on the side of each canister.

Kanno has been battling hordes of macaque monkeys that have encroached upon his neighborhood in a rural area of Minamisoma. These fireworks are his main deterrent — not to cause the monkeys any physical harm, but to scare them away with a loud bang. That is, until they regain their confidence and come back a few days later, which they do like clockwork, Kanno says.

Kanno stacks fireworks on his coffee table to distribute to neighbors. The fireworks make a loud noise meant to scare, not injure, the monkeys.

“In the early morning while I’m sleeping, just when I’m about to wake up, I hear the noise,” the 79-year-old says in Japanese as he stacks the fireworks on his living room table. “The sound of the monkeys running around on the roof, getting into the gardens, eating all my food. I have to fight them.”

Hundreds of thousands of people evacuated this area nine years ago, fleeing plumes of radioactive material after three reactors exploded at the Daiichi nuclear power plant, one of the most serious nuclear disasters in history. Whole towns and neighborhoods like Kanno’s were left empty of human life for years — and, much like Chernobyl, nature started to reclaim the space. Plants poke through sidewalks and buildings, while wild boar, raccoons and foxes roam the streets. But in recent years, many evacuation orders have lifted and people have started to return, meaning humans and animals are having to figure out new ways to coexist — or not.

A macaque monkey in a tree in Fukushima prefecture. After the 2011 nuclear disaster, towns and neighborhoods in Fukushima were left devoid of humans for years, and nature started to reclaim the space.

“The monkeys never used to come here, but after the disaster, the border between monkeys and humans has blurred,” Kanno explains. “The houses were empty, but the gardens were still growing — plums, pears, chestnuts, persimmons. It was a wonderland for monkeys, an all-you-can-eat buffet. And they remembered that.”

His neighborhood is on the very edge of the evacuation area, relatively far from Daiichi. People stayed away for only a few years, but by the time they came back, the monkeys had become comfortable. And, Kanno points out, half the houses are still empty and only older people came back. They just don’t have the numbers they need to win the battle against the monkeys without backup.

From left: Shuichi Kanno, Shigeko Hoshino, Hiroyuki Shima and Hachiro Endo are neighbors who moved back to Fukushima after the nuclear disaster and who get regular visits from monkeys that eat fruits and vegetables from their gardens.

That is where the fireworks come in, subsidized by the local government after residents complained. The governments here have provided several different kinds of tools, such as wild boar traps and electric fences for farmers, to help communities with animal problems.

Yuriko Kanno, 75, Shuichi’s wife, comes into the living room, looks at the pile of fireworks and laughs. “I’ve been worried that this village is going to become like that movie, the monkey planet one,” she says, referring to Planet of the Apes. “I’ve seen it — it could happen!”

She walks away giggling. Shuichi Kanno is laughing too. The monkeys are annoying, yes, but they’re also a source of entertainment for the aging residents, he concedes.

Yuriko Kanno, 75, is amused by the battle between her husband and the monkeys.

“Look, I think they’re cute. I would absolutely never hurt them,” he says. “None of this is their fault. It’s nuclear power’s fault. It’s the fault of humans.”

Shuichi Kanno is a leader in the neighborhood, and he’s in charge of distributing the fireworks to any of his neighbors who want them. The neighbors all have to sign an agreement saying they understand the dangers and — most importantly, he says — that they will not hurt any animals.

He loads the fireworks into the trunk of his car and drives down forest roads from house to house, dropping off packs of fireworks at every stop. As he drives, he points to all the natural beauty in the area. The nuclear disaster didn’t just change his relationship with monkeys, he says.

“I loved hiking, and foraging for wild vegetables, finding wild mushrooms. But now it’s so dangerous,” Kanno explains, referring to the high levels of radioactive cesium still present in the dense forests here. “We can’t have a relationship with nature anymore. It’s gone.”

Kanno drives his truck down a main road in his neighborhood, chasing monkeys that he saw scampering around his house not long ago.

He pulls up to the house of Hachiro Endo, 77, whose family has been in the area for generations. The home has a beautiful garden in front and long strands of drying persimmons hanging in the garage.

Endo is delighted by the delivery. He has gone through his entire stockpile protecting his garden. “I’m alert all the time,” Endo sighs. “The monkeys, they’ve taken over my life.”

He says he remembers a time when he was little and his grandfather tried to lure the monkeys down from the mountains into the village, hoping to boost tourism to the area by becoming a monkey town. He was never successful — the macaques were too afraid of humans to come down and stay.

“If only he could see it now,” he says with a laugh.

A troop of monkeys scampers across a road in Fukushima prefecture.

A few days later, Kanno is out on monkey patrol. He has just seen a troop of monkeys running from his house out into the neighborhood. He’s wearing knee-high rubber boots, a bright orange jacket and a baseball cap while clutching a firework in one hand and the steering wheel of his pickup truck in the other.

He drives slowly, leaning forward to scan the hills as he goes. And then suddenly, he slams on his brakes.

“There they are!” he shouts, pointing behind a shed. Dozens of monkeys are jumping toward the forest, scrambling up trees and crawling up the hillside.

He jumps out of the truck and pulls the firework from underneath his jacket, loading it onto a kind of stick so he can hold it far away. He lights the fuse and smiles, pointing it toward the hill.

Kanno grins after shooting off a firework to scare off monkeys that were roaming through the neighborhood.

Three loud booms echo through the trees. The monkeys scatter. Kanno bursts into a grin, giggling. Then he runs to every house nearby, making sure his neighbors know that he just saved their gardens from almost certain devastation.

“They won’t be back tomorrow!” Kanno calls, waving the spent firework, giddy with excitement. “I won today!”

But even as he says that he loads a fresh firework and tucks it into his coat. The monkeys will be back, and the battle will continue.

October 2, 2020 Posted by | Fukushima 2020 | , , | Leave a comment

Beach in Fukushima Prefecture reopens for first time since 2011 disasters

Children play in the sea at Kitaizumi Beach in Minamisoma, Fukushima Prefecture, on Saturday.
July 20, 2019
MINAMISOMA, FUKUSHIMA PREF. – Kitaizumi Beach in Minamisoma, Fukushima Prefecture, reopened Saturday after it was closed following the March 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake and tsunami and subsequent nuclear accident.
After it opened, the beach was filled with the noise of cheering children.
“I was relieved to see the beach crowded with people,” said Saki Yamaki, a 29-year-old Minamisoma resident, who visited the beach with members of her family.
“I couldn’t swim well because the waves were high, but I really enjoyed (my visit),” said Kazuto, Yamaki’s 8-year-old son.
“Seeing the sea makes me feel calm, and the sounds of waves help me forget negative things,” a woman in her 60s who lost a relative in the tsunami. said. “I hope the number of visitors will recover to the pre-disaster level,” said the woman, who also lives in Minamisoma.
Areas of the ocean offshore are well-known surfing spots, and the Japan Pro Surfing Association hosted a surfing competition the same day.
“To dispel harmful rumors (about radiation), we’ve tried to make the beach the safest one in Japan,” said Masahiro Nishizawa, a 49-year-old Minamisoma citizen who played a central role in planning the competition and in work to make the beach safe for people to visit.
“We hope to hold an international surfing competition here in the future,” he added.
A beach volleyball event was also held on Kitaizumi Beach.
Preparations for the beach’s reopening included the construction of a seawall and a public park.
Tests carried out by the Fukushima Prefectural Government in May confirmed that the amount of radiation in the air and the quality of water at the beach were the same as was recorded before the disasters.

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

Former mayor expresses anger at Tepco in trial over Fukushima crisis

December 5, 2018
FUKUSHIMA – A former mayor of a city hit by the 2011 Fukushima nuclear crisis told a court on Wednesday that he wants to express his “anger” on behalf of citizens who had to flee their homes due to the disaster and whose lives are still filled with uncertainties.
Katsunobu Sakurai, who was mayor of Minamisoma at the time the crisis erupted, testified before the Fukushima District Court in a lawsuit filed by 151 people seeking ¥3.7 billion ($32.7 million) in damages from Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings Inc. They say the nuclear accident destroyed their communities due to the evacuations.
Sakurai was chosen among U.S. Time magazine’s 100 most influential people in the world in 2011 after sharing the city’s predicament and calling for support via YouTube in the wake of one of the world’s worst nuclear disasters.
Following the accident, part of the city was designated as an evacuation zone where the 151 people, comprising 47 households, used to live. Most of the city is no longer subject to evacuation orders.
Sakurai said the city was forced to arrange evacuation buses on its own amid a lack of information from the central government, and that he “felt bitter and angry” after learning that the government helped arrange transportation for some other municipalities.
He also said the city’s residents are reluctant to return due to the slow progress of decommissioning the crippled Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant.
“They think they might have to evacuate again,” Sakurai said.
Sakurai had been the city’s mayor until losing his seat in an election in January.
The Minamisoma residents filed the damages suit in 2015 for their losses and changes to their hometown as a result of the nuclear accident, triggered by a major earthquake and tsunami on March 11, 2011.

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

Film on one man’s agony due to 2011 disaster wins key award

Takayuki Ueno continues his search for his eldest son Kotaro and other missing people in Minami-Soma, Fukushima Prefecture.
June 13, 2018
A documentary about a farmer’s years-long quest to retrieve the bodies of four family members killed in the 2011 earthquake and tsunami disaster has won an award that honors a slain journalist.
The Mika Yamamoto International Journalist Award was presented to Chiaki Kasai in Tokyo on May 26 for her “Life–Another Story of Fukushima,” which was completed last year.
The prize was established to perpetuate the spirit of video journalist Mika Yamamoto, who died while covering the civil war in Syria in 2012.
Kasai’s 115-minute documentary charts the struggles of 45-year-old Takayuki Ueno as he tries to rise from the depths of despair over the loss of his two children as well as his parents, who were swept away by tsunami generated by the magnitude-9.0 Great East Japan Earthquake.
Kasai’s story takes place in Fukushima Prefecture, where the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant went into a triple meltdown when the facility’s cooling system was knocked out in the quake and tsunami. It takes place over a number of years.
Ueno lived in the city of Minami-Soma, which was hard-hit by the tsunami.
Ueno had just begun searching for his loved ones when hydrogen explosions rocked the nuclear plant, just 22 kilometers away.
Despite radioactive substances spewing from the stricken plant operated by Tokyo Electric Power Co., Ueno refused to evacuate. No police or Self-Defense Forces members were coming to rescue him or others stranded in the area.
Ueno found the body of his 8-year-old daughter Erika caked in mud and carried her to a makeshift morgue.
He, along with volunteers, still searches for the body of his son Kotaro, 3, as well as others swept away by the tsunami.
At the time, Kasai, 43, worked for a Hamamatsu-based TV station. She spent the best part of five and a half years documenting Ueno’s life. She completed the project in January 2017, and it was first shown the following May.
Six months after the disaster, Kasai visited Fukushima Prefecture, where she heard about Ueno’s family tragedy and realized that many people were unable to search for missing family members because of the nuclear accident.
“I was disappointed with myself,” Kasai said. “I asked myself what we were doing when we fussed about whether or not we should venture several kilometers nearer to the plant.”
Kasai quit the TV station in 2015 so she could devote herself to the documentary and spend more time visiting devastated areas.
Yamamoto, the journalist who perished in a gun battle while covering the fighting in the Syrian city of Aleppo, had made a name for herself covering Afghanistan, Iraq and other war zones around the world. She was 43 when she died.
The award was established in 2013 as a way to encourage news gathering on people living in conflict or impoverished areas to raise awareness of their plight.
The award is given to journalists who cover people living in extreme conditions. Each award-winning work to date was a record of a conflict being waged away from Japan.
“Wars and disasters. There are people who hang in there, no matter what unreasonable things are thrown at them in life.
(Kasai’s) approach to taking time to present her story honestly and in a respectful manner overlapped with Yamamoto’s footsteps,” said Akihiro Nonaka, head of Asia Press International, who served as a member of the award’s selection committee, explaining the decision to choose a work themed on disaster this year.
One scene in the documentary shows Ueno weeping and muttering that he “can’t remember” the sound of his children’s voices.
He later confesses that he is “scared” to see his eldest daughter’s classmates all grown up. Still, encouraged by how his 6-year-old second daughter Sarii, who was born in 2011, is managing, Ueno tries to stay on top of things while continuing to search for his missing loved ones.
A scene toward the end of the film shows Erika’s former classmates dressed in their junior high school uniforms visit Ueno’s home to pray in front of the family’s Buddhist altar. Ueno and his wife Kiho, 41, see the girls off as they leave, soft smiles creasing the couple’s faces. The title of the film clearly resonates with the audience.
Learning that she had won the award, Kasai expressed sadness rather than happiness as Yamamoto is no longer alive, recalling that they once shared a meal together.
“I feel like she gave me a supportive push to keep telling the world what happened in Fukushima,” she said.
Ueno commented that he hoped the documentary would serve as a warning not to allow a similar event to occur again.


June 18, 2018 Posted by | Fukushima 2018 | , , , | Leave a comment

Tepco ordered to pay $30,000 each to 318 people of the Minamisoma’s Odaka District class action suit

TEPCO ordered to pay 1.1 billion yen to evacuees in Fukushima
Junichiro Hironaka, lead lawyer for the plaintiffs, right, speaks at a news conference on Feb. 7 after the Tokyo District Court ordered Tokyo Electric Power Co. to pay 3.3 million yen in damages to each plaintiff in a Fukushima nuclear disaster compensation lawsuit.
Tokyo Electric Power Co. has been ordered to pay 3.3 million yen ($30,000) each to 318 people who were forced to flee their hometown in Fukushima Prefecture after the 2011 nuclear disaster.
However, the plaintiffs are unhappy as they sought 10 times that amount.
“We are stripped of our hometown, livelihood and life, and Odaka will not return to what it used to be,” 76-year-old Isao Enei of Minami-Soma said at a news conference after the Feb. 7 verdict at Tokyo District Court. “I am sorry that the judges did not visit and see the situation of Odaka for themselves.”
The plaintiffs are now considering appealing as they had initially sought 33 million yen each in additional damages in the lawsuit.
“It is significant in a way in recognizing ‘damages for the loss of a hometown,’” said Junichiro Hironaka, the plaintiffs’ lead lawyer. “But the amount of compensation ordered does not correspond to the actual damages they suffered.”
In handing down the ruling, Presiding Judge Yuko Mizuno said that the plaintiffs’ “right to a stable life in a place that was the foundation of their livelihood had been breached.”
TEPCO said it will respond to the court decision after studying it in detail.
The plaintiffs lived in Minami-Soma’s Odaka district before the triple meltdown at TEPCO’s Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant in March 2011.
Odaka was located within the 20-kilometer no-entry zone surrounding the plant from which residents were forced to evacuate.
The plaintiffs contended that TEPCO was liable for causing psychological damage as they were displaced and lost their hometown.
The total that TEPCO must pay to the 318 plaintiffs falls a fraction short of 1.1 billion yen, but the court dismissed claims by three plaintiffs on the grounds that they lived overseas at the time of the accident or for other reasons.
The verdict was the fourth that has been handed down in regard to about 30 similar lawsuits that have been brought across the nation.
In the three other suits, the plaintiffs claimed in the district courts that the government and TEPCO had been negligent, but in the latest case the court was only concerned with the amount of compensation.
The plaintiffs argued for compensation for damages stemming from the evacuation, as well as compensation for a loss of various general benefits that they would have enjoyed if they had continued to reside in their hometown.
The power company rejected the plaintiffs’ claim for additional compensation, citing the payment already made of 8.5 million yen per victim of the nuclear disaster in the district based on the government’s “interim guidelines” for compensation.
It insisted that the plaintiffs’ claim that “Odaka has been lost forever” was not proven.
The evacuation order was lifted for most of the district in July 2016.
But the court stated that even after it became possible for residents to return (to Odaka), it “constitutes a serious violation of the plaintiffs’ life if the foundations of their livelihood were considerably changed.”
TEPCO argued that the government’s interim compensation guidelines were reasonable.
But the court rejected it, saying the district court will not be bound by the government’s guidelines.
Rulings for similar lawsuits are expected in March at the Kyoto District Court and Tokyo District Court.
Fukushima operator Tepco ordered to pay US$10 million in new damages
A Tokyo Electric Power Company (Tepco) employee working near the reactors at the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear plant on Jan 31, 2018
TOKYO (AFP) – A Tokyo court has ordered the operator of the crippled Fukushima nuclear plant to pay US$10 million (S$13.3 million) in fresh damages to residents who fled their homes after the disaster, the plaintiffs’ attorney said Thursday (Feb 8).
Tokyo Electric Power Co (Tepco) was instructed to pay a total of 1.1 billion yen (S$13.3 million) to 318 former residents of the Odaka district in Fukushima, around 20 kilometres from the plant.
The sum is a tenth of what the plaintiffs had demanded, citing the financial hardship and psychological impact they suffered after the March 2011 nuclear disaster in Fukushima that was triggered by a deadly earthquake and tsunami.
Tepco had already agreed to pay each of the plaintiffs 8.5 million yen, but the ruling requires it to pay an additional 3.3 million yen to each of those affected, according to Isamu Oki, one of the lawyers for the plaintiffs.
Residents are technically free to return to Odaka, which the government has certified as decontaminated, but only a few dozen have gone home because of financial and health concerns, Oki told AFP.
“Especially those with small children are worried… while elderly people are unable to come back without any supporting family,” he added.
Junichiro Hironaka, who heads the legal team representing the residents, said Wednesday that the court’s decision showed it recognised “compensation for a lost hometown”.
But he said the additional damages awarded by the court were insufficient, suggesting the plaintiffs might appeal.
Tepco said it was reviewing the ruling before deciding how it would proceed.
Around 12,000 people who fled their homes for fear of radiation have filed dozens of lawsuits against the government and Tepco.
In March 2017, a court in the eastern city of Maebashi ruled that both the government and Tepco were responsible.
A massive undersea earthquake on March 11, 2011 sent a tsunami barrelling into Japan’s northeast coast, leaving more than 18,000 people dead or missing and sparking the Fukushima crisis, the worst nuclear accident since Chernobyl in 1986.
In June 2017, three former Tepco executives went on trial, the only people ever to face a criminal court in connection with the disaster. The hearing is continuing.

February 9, 2018 Posted by | Fukushima 2018 | , , , | 2 Comments

Comparison study of calculated beta- and gamma-ray doses after the Fukushima accident in Minamisoma: skin dose estimated to be 164 mSv over 3 years

Comparison of calculated beta- and gamma-ray doses after the Fukushima accident with data from single-grain luminescence retrospective dosimetry of quartz inclusions in a brick sample
Journal of Radiation Research,
Published: 27 January 2018


To estimate the beta- and gamma-ray doses in a brick sample taken from Odaka, Minami-Soma City, Fukushima Prefecture, Japan, a Monte Carlo calculation was performed with Particle and Heavy Ion Transport code System (PHITS) code. The calculated results were compared with data obtained by single-grain retrospective luminescence dosimetry of quartz inclusions in the brick sample. The calculated result agreed well with the measured data. The dose increase measured at the brick surface was explained by the beta-ray contribution, and the slight slope in the dose profile deeper in the brick was due to the gamma-ray contribution. The skin dose was estimated from the calculated result as 164 mGy over 3 years at the sampling site.


The main fission products from the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant (FDNPP) accident are 129mTe-129Te, 131I, 132Te-132I, 134Cs, 136Cs and 137Cs [1–4]. These radionuclides emit gamma rays and beta rays through β− decay. However, there are few studies about dose estimation from beta-ray irradiation following the FDNPP accident [5–7]. The beta-ray dose contributes to the whole-body dose among small biota, such as insects, plant leaves, and human skin. Therefore, beta-ray dose estimations are important for the risk assessment of the impact of the FDNPP accident (including on small biota) to clarify the effects of this large-scale radiological accident.
Retrospective dosimetry with brick samples has been used to evaluate the gamma-ray dose of the Hiroshima atomic bomb [8–10], the Chernobyl nuclear power plant accident [11–14], and the Semipalatinsk nuclear weapon testing [15, 16]. Recently, Stepanenko et al. [17] used retrospective dose evaluation of brick samples to estimate gamma-ray doses and perform beta-ray dose reconstruction for the FDNPP accident with a similar method to that used for a Hiroshima tile sample [18]. They used a single-grain quartz optically stimulated luminescence (OSL) method (similar to that of Ballarini et al. [19], although layer-by-layer consequences for very thin layers of the sample’s aliquots were used for analysis, with separate dose calibration for each quartz grain) with brick samples taken in 2014 from Odaka, Minami-Soma City, Fukushima Prefecture, Japan [17]. Dose enhancement near the surface of the brick was identified by the OSL measurements [17]. Stepanenko et al. suggested that the enhancement was caused by the beta-ray dose from the deposited fission products [17].
To establish the cause of the dose enhancement near the brick surface, we performed a Monte Carlo simulation of a small brick building with radionuclides uniformly distributed on the ground surface. The calculated results were compared with the data measured by Stepanenko et al. [17]. The depth profiles of the dose in the brick sample for beta rays and gamma rays were estimated separately, and the dose enhancement near the brick surface was discussed.
Particle and Heavy Ion Transport code System calculation
The energy deposition as a function of depth in the brick wall of a small building was calculated using the Particle and Heavy Ion Transport code System (PHITS) Monte Carlo code Ver. 2.52 [20]. The calculation geometries are shown in Fig. 1. The calculation regions were 1 m × 1 m for beta rays and 21 m × 21 m for gamma rays. The calculation regions consisted of ground, air, and the small brick building (red region: 0.5 m × 0.5 m square, 1.5 m high, wall thickness of 10 cm). The brick building was located in the center of the soil surface. Beta- or gamma-ray sources were uniformly distributed in the 5-mm-thick soil surface (brown region). To save calculation time, the previously reported mirror condition was used for these calculations [21]. Figure 1a shows the geometry used to calculate the radiation that entered the calculation region (outer source calculation) via the mirror boundary. First, the histories for the particles were accumulated near the mirror boundary (green lines) without the brick building. Second, the particles were generated from the mirror boundary (back line) in Fig. 1b according to the accumulated histories. The generated particles were transported to the brick wall cells (yellow box) of the brick building. Third, radiation was generated from the surface of the 5-mm-thick soil layer (brown region) in the calculation region (inner source calculation) in Fig. 1b. The energy deposition in brick cell layers of 10 m × 10 cm and thicknesses of 0.1, 0.2, 0.3, 0.4, 0.5, 1, 3, 5, 7.5, 10, 20, 40, 60, 80 and 100 mm were obtained by summing the outer and inner source calculations corrected with the number of particles generated per unit area.



(a) Mirror condition calculation, (b) top view and (c) side view of the calculation geometry.

Beta and gamma rays from 129mTe, 129Te, 131I, 132Te, 132I, 134Cs and 137Cs were calculated separately. Beta-ray energy spectra were taken from the literature [5], and the internal conversion electrons of 137Cs were taken from the website of the National Nuclear Data Center [21]. The gamma-ray energies and emission rates for the radionuclides were taken from the National Nuclear Data Center [22].
The elemental composition of the brick sample was Si: 28.9, Si: 50.4, Al: 17.5, Fe: 1.4 and Ti: 1.8 wt %, and those of soil and air were taken from the literature [8].
Air dose and tissue dose calculation
The air and tissue dose rates at the i-th depth per unit deposition density of 1 Bq/m2, Dijk (Gy Bq−1 s−1 m2), for beta and gamma rays, were calculated from the calculated results of the energy deposition in brick as:
(1) where Eijk is the energy deposition (J) at the i-th depth by beta or gamma rays from the k-th radionuclide, mb is the brick sample mass (kg), and aj is the area of the source (0.75 and 1 m2 for inner and outer beta calculations, 440.75 and 441 m2 for the inner and outer gamma calculations, respectively). Ij is the emission rate for beta or gamma rays per Bq and fc is the conversion factor of the stopping power ratio [23] for beta rays and the kerma ratio [24] for gamma rays between air or tissue and brick to convert from the brick dose to the air or tissue doses.
Cumulative dose estimation
The dose rate at the sampling point can be calculated by the measured deposition density, Ak, for each radionuclide at the sampling point of Odaka, Minami-Some City by multiplying the calculated result by Eq. 1. The change in dose rate over time is assumed to depend only on the half-lives of the radionuclides. Therefore, the cumulative dose, Ditot, for the i-th depth can be integrated by:
(2) where Tk is the half-life for each radionuclide of k = 129mTe, 129Te, 131I, 132Te, 132I, 134Cs and 137Cs (Table 1), and τ is the time period from deposition to the brick sampling date.


Capture du 2018-01-27 19-32-40


Calculated dose rate for beta and gamma rays
A 137Cs deposition density of 308 kBq/m2 and the ratio of each radionuclide to 137Cs deposition density taken from the literature [1] were used to obtain Ak for each radionuclide. The deposition densities for the seven radionuclides are listed in Table 2. The beta-ray dose rates on the brick surface and gamma-ray dose rate at a depth of 0.5 mm in the brick at a height of 80 cm are shown in Fig. 2a and b, respectively. 129m, 129Te contributed less to the gamma-ray dose rate, and accounted for the third and fourth largest contribution to the beta-ray dose rate. This is due to the small gamma-ray emission rate per decay of 129m, 129Te of <10%. The gamma- and beta-ray doses decreased by ~10% and ~30%, respectively, over 1 month. The calculated beta-ray dose rate decreased slower than the calculated gamma-ray dose rate.


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Capture du 2018-01-27 19-39-01

Air dose rates of (a) beta rays and (b) gamma rays over time.

Beck reported conversion factors for various radionuclides to estimate the air dose rate at a height of 1 m from the unit deposition density of radionuclides [25]. The initial gamma-ray air dose rates (15 March 2011) at a height of 80 cm from the ground for each radionuclide obtained by our calculations were compared with the values estimated by Beck conversion factors [25] interpolated at a relaxation depth of 0.65 g/cm2 (Table 2). The present dose rates were estimated to be 57% lower than those calculated by Beck conversion factors. The present dose rates were in-brick values in one of the walls of the brick building, whereas the Beck conversion factor values were free-in-air values. Therefore, the difference of 57% can be explained by shielding effects, whereby gamma rays from behind the building are neglected.
Cumulative dose
The cumulative dose over 3 years, from 12 March 2011 (Unit 1 explosion) to 19 March 2014 (brick sampling by Stepanenko et al.) and the dose rate change over time are shown in Fig. 3. The solid line shows the calculation result, the dashed histograms are the averaged calculation values for the measured sample thickness, and the open circles are Stepanenko’s data [17]. The calculation agreed well with the data measured by Stepanenko et al. in the region deeper than 10 mm. The results indicated that the cumulative dose deeper in the brick was due to gamma rays, and that the dose enhancement at the surface was dominated by the beta-ray contribution. The difference between the calculated and measured doses at the surface was about 2 standard deviations. A possible explanation might be connected with the contributions of low γ emission rate radionuclides, such as 89Sr, 127mTe-127Te, 140Ba-140La, etc. However, the trend in the dose increase at the brick surface was supported by the calculations. Therefore, the single-grain OSL measurement by Stepanenko et al. shows the advantage of dose estimations not only the cumulative gamma-ray dose but also the cumulative beta-ray dose. Thus, we concluded that the single-grain OSL method is a good tool for retrospective beta-ray dose estimation.


Capture du 2018-01-27 19-42-01.png

Comparison of the calculated beta rays (chain line), gamma rays (dotted line), beta + gamma rays (solid line), dose averaged over sample depth (dashed histogram), and data measured by Stepanenko et al. (open circles).


The calculated tissue dose at a brick depth of 50 μm was assumed to be a skin dose, and would be similar to a 70-μm tissue dose. The skin dose was estimated to be 164 mSv for 3 years at the sampling location.


To confirm the cause of the dose enhancement near the surface of a brick sample taken from Odaka, Minami-Soma City, Japan, a Monte Carlo calculation was performed using PHITS code and the calculated results were compared with measurements. The calculated results agreed well with previously published measured data. The dose enhancement at the brick surface in the measured data was explained by the beta-ray contribution, and the gentle slope in the dose profile deeper in the brick was due to the gamma-ray contribution. The calculated result estimated the skin dose to be 164 mGy (164mSv) over 3 years at the sampling location.



January 27, 2018 Posted by | Fukushima 2018 | , , , | Leave a comment

New study says Minami-soma as safe as Western Japan cities – do they really expect us to believe this?

On September 5, 2017, Minami-soma city made a statement on the city’s radiation levels compared to 3 cities in West Japan, which has been reported in several newspapers. It’s important to comment on this study because the statement is intended to persuade the population to return to live there.

We are publishing comments on the articles below after having discussed with M. Ozawa of the citizen’s measurement group named the “Fukuichi Area Environmental Radiation Monitoring Project“. For English speaking readers, please refer to the article of Asahi Shimbun in English. For our arguments we refer to other articles published in other newspapers – Fukushima Minyu and Fukushima Minpo – which are only in Japanese.

Here are the locations of Minami-soma and the 3 other cities.
Here is the article of the Asahi Shimbun

Fukushima city shows radiation level is same as in west Japan


September 5, 2017 at 18:10 JST

MINAMI-SOMA, Fukushima Prefecture–Radiation readings here on the Pacific coast north of the crippled Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant are almost identical to those of sample cities on the other side of Japan.

The Minami-Soma government initiated the survey and hopes the results of the dosimeter readings, released Sept. 4, will encourage more evacuees to return to their home areas after they fled in the aftermath of the 2011 nuclear disaster.

A total of 100 portable dosimeters were handed out to 25 city employees from each of four cities–Minami-Soma, Tajimi in Gifu Prefecture, Fukuyama in Hiroshima Prefecture and Nanto in Toyama Prefecture. They were asked to take them wherever they went from May 29 through June 11.

The staff members were evenly dispersed with their homes in all corners of the cities they represented.

In addition, only those living in wooden houses were selected as different materials, concrete walls, for example, are more effective in blocking radiation.

In July 2016, evacuation orders for most parts of Minami-Soma were lifted, but not many residents have so far returned.

The city’s committee for health measures against radiation, which is made up of medical experts, analyzed the data.

The median value of the external radiation dosage of the 25 staff of Minami-Soma was 0.80 millisieverts per annum, while the average value was 0.82 mSv per annum, according to Masaharu Tsubokura, the head of the committee and a physician at Minami-Soma general hospital.

No significant difference was found in the three western cities.

Both figures were adjusted to include the natural radiation dose, and are below the 1-mSv per annum mark set by the national government as the acceptable amount of long-term additional radiation dosage, which is apart from natural radiation and medical radiation dosages.

The radiation doses in all cities were at levels that would not cause any health problems, according to Tsubokura.

Making comparisons with other municipalities is important,” Tsubokura said. “I am intending to leave the survey results as an academic paper.”

Our comments

1) The difference of life style between city employees and local agricultural population
As we see in the article, portable dosimeters were handed out to city employees. They
 spend most of their day time in an office protected by concrete walls which are efficient for blocking radiation as stated in the article. However, in Minami-soma, most of the population spends more time outside, very often working in the fields. Their life style is different and therefore the external radiation dose cannot be similar to those of city employees. The result of the comparison between the external radiation dose of city employees cannot be used as an argument to say that it is safe for the local population to live in Minami-soma.

2) In the article of Fukushima Minyu, it is stated that in Minami-soma the radiation dose has a wider range than in the other three cities. This means that there are hotspots, which leads to higher risks of internal irradiation.

3) The radiation dose expressed in terms of Sieverts is relevant for radioprotection when the source of radiation is fixed and identified. This is the case for most of the nuclear workers. However, in the case of Fukushima after the nuclear accident where the whole environment is radio-contaminated and the radioactive substances are dispersed widely everywhere, it is not a relevant reference for radioprotection. It is important in this case to measure surface contamination density, especially of soil.

4) 6 years and 6 months since the accident, cesium has sunk in the soil. It is thought to be between 6 and 10 cm from the surface. This means the top layer of soil from 0 to 5 cm is blocking the radiation, reducing the measures of the effective dose. However, this does not mean that the population is protected from internal irradiation, since cesium can be re-scattered by many means, by digging or by flooding, for example.

5) The reliability of individual portable dosimeters has already been raised many times. This device is not adequate to capture the full 360° exposure in radio-contaminated environments as described in point 3 above.

6) In the article, it is stated that background radiation is included in the compared values, but it does not mention the actual background radiation measurements in the 4 cities.

The Table of Fukushima Minyu

Radiation dose of the 4 cities

Screenshot from 2017-09-07 23-58-15.pngValues include the background radiation dose


To summarize, the sample study group does not represent the overall population. The study doesn’t include the risks of internal radiation, for which the measurement of contaminated soil is indispensible. The dosimeters are not adequate to measure the full load of radio-contaminated environments. So, the research method is not adequate to draw the conclusion to say that it is safe for the population to return to live in Minami-soma.

September 7, 2017 Posted by | Fukushima 2017 | , , , | Leave a comment

The Minamisoma Whistleblowers, Fukushima

A few days ago Pierre Fetet learned of a map which immediately called his attention.

That map displays at the same time precise and unsettling measurements. Not knowing Japanese, Pierre Fetet asked Kurumi Sugita, the president of Nos voisins lointains 3.11 association, to translate for him the text. She immediately accepted and explained to him what it was:

“The project to measure environmental radioactivity around the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant (“Fukuichi Area Environmental Radiation Monitoring Project“) is conducted by a team of relatively old volunteers (who are less radiosensitive than youth) to perform radioactivity measurements with a tight mesh size of 75 x 100 m for radioactivity in air and 375 x 500 m for soil contamination. Measurements of ambient radioactivity and soil radioactivity are carried out mainly in the city of Minamisōma and its surroundings. They try to make detailed measurements so as to show the inhabitants the real conditions of their lives, and also to accumulate data for the analysis of long-term health and environmental damages.”

Thanks to the Kurumi Sugita’s translation and with the agreement of Mr. Ozawa, author of the document, Pierre Fetet was able to make a French version of this map, which I translated into english here below:

Minamisoma contamination map oct 2016.jpg

Map of Mr. Ozawa’s team,“Fukuichi Area Environmental Radiation Monitoring Project” (translation first by Kurumi Sugita, then by Hervé Courtois)

In the context of the normalization of contaminated areas into habitable areas, the evacuation order of the Odaka district of the city of Minamisōma was lifted on 12 July 2016, except the area bordering Namie (Hamlet of Ohatake where a single household lives) classified as a “difficult return” area.

Minamisoma contamination map oct 2016 2.jpg

Situation of the study area

The contamination map examines the Kanaya and Kawabusa areas of the Odaka district, about fifteen kilometers from the former Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant. Mr. Ozawa, the engineer who launched this investigation, has chosen the precision of the measurements, that is to say laboratory scintillation radiometers are used to measure radioactivity: Hitachi Aloka TCS172B, Hitachi Aloka TGS146B and Canberra NaI Scintillation Detector.

The originality of this map is due as much to the quality of its realization as to the abundance of its informations: it can be read, for each of the 36 samples taken, measurements in Bq / m², in Bq / kg, in μSv / h at three different soil heights (1 m, 50 cm, 1 cm) And in cpm (counts per minute) at the height of 1 cm. For those who know a little about radioactivity, these informations are very valuable informations. Usually, measurements are given in either unit, but never simultaneously with 4 units. Official organizations should learn this way of working.

The measures revealed by the map are very disturbing. They show that the earth has a level of contamination that would make it a radioactive waste in any uncontaminated country. As Mr. Ozawa writes, these lands should be considered a “controlled zone”, that is to say a secure space, as in nuclear power plants, where the doses received must be constantly checked. In fact, it is worse than inside of a nuclear power plant because in Japan the inhabitants evacuated since five and a half years are now asked to return home, whereas it is known that they will be irradiated (Up to 20 mSv / year) and contaminated (by inhalation and ingestion).

This citizen research is remarkable in more ways than one:

  • It is independent of any organization. There is no lobby to alter or play down this or that measure. These are just raw data, taken by honest people, in search of truth.
  • It respects a scientific protocol, explained on the map. There will always be people to criticize this or that aspect of the process, But this one is rigorous and objective.
  • It takes measurements 1 m from the ground but also 1 cm from the ground. This approach is more logical because until now men are walking on the ground no? The contamination maps of Japan often show measurements at 1 m from the ground, Which does not reflect reality and seems to be done to minimize the facts. Indeed, the measurement is often twice as high at 1 cm from the ground as at 1 m.
  • It acts as a revealing map. Mr. Ozawa and his team are whistleblowers. Their maps say: Watch out ! Laws contradict each other in Japan. What the government claims, namely that a dose of 20 mSv / year will not produce any health effect, is not necessarily the truth. If you come back, you are going to be irradiated and contaminated.

France is preparing for the same forfeiture, namely that ‘it is transposing into national law the provisions of Directive 2013/59 / Euratom: the French authorities retained the upper limit of the interval: 100 mSv for the emergency phase and 20 mSv for the following 12 months (And for the following years there is no guarantee that this reference level will not be renewed). These values apply to all, including infants, children and pregnant women! ” (source Criirad)

The Japanese government is asking residents to return home and abolishing compensation for evacuees. The Olympics are coming, Fukushima must be perceived as “normal” so that the athletes and supporters of the whole world won’t be afraid, even if it means sacrificing the health of the local population. It is therefore necessary to make known the map of Mr. Ozawa so that future advertising campaigns do not stifle the reality of the facts.

Pierre Fetet

Data on measurements at Minamisōma

Website of the measuring team: “Fukuichi Area Environmental Radiation Monitoring Project

Address of the original map (HD)


Source : Article of Pierre Fetet

(Translation Hervé Courtois)


November 12, 2016 Posted by | Fukushima 2016 | , , , , | 1 Comment

Home at last, but little joy as evacuee picks up pieces of her life

3 km’s up the coast. 1.8 miles to Minami-Soma from fuk. …. “The Japanese government steered displaced people toward their return by repeating that an annual exposure of up to 20 millisieverts poses little health risk,”


Tomoko Kobayashi, right, prepares with a volunteer worker for the reopening of her Futabaya ryokan in the Odaka district of Minami-Soma, Fukushima Prefecture, on July 11.

MINAMI-SOMA, Fukushima Prefecture–It was no ordinary homecoming for Tomoko Kobayashi, after an enforced absence of more than five years due to the 2011 Fukushima nuclear disaster.

She says she is “in no mood for celebration” given the daunting task facing her: having to start from scratch at the traditional ryokan inn that has been in the family for nearly 70 years.

The community that Kobayashi had called home was overrun with rats, wild boar and palm civets, and she struggled to protect the family business from that nightmare.

Kobayashi’s journey home to start afresh took her via Ukraine, which she visited in 2013 to learn how victims of the world’s worst nuclear accident–the Chernobyl disaster in 1986–were coping after all those years.

Kobayashi, 63, was shocked by the different approach authorities there had taken compared with that of Japan.

She said Ukraine takes a more cautious approach toward radiation risks.

Kobayashi returned to Minami-Soma’s Odaka district on July 12 after the central government lifted a ban for 11,000 or so evacuees from the district, which is within a 20-kilometer radius of the crippled Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant.

Her initial concern is living with low-level radiation.

She also worries for her future and whether she can get the business up and running. With her husband, Takenori, 67, Kobayashi has reopened Futabaya ryokan. The inn that she took over from her mother 10 years ago has 15 guest rooms and is located in front of JR Odaka Station, which is 16 km from the plant.

Another of her concerns centers on whether her return home to reopen the inn could play into the hands of the authorities.

The central government is eager to wind up the program that compensates the victims,” she said, alluding to a sense that evacuees are being encouraged to return so that financial redress can end.

On the plus side, the radiation level in her neighborhood has dropped to below 0.2 microsievert per hour. Although it is three times the level before the triple meltdown in March 2011, the figure is significantly lower than in the immediate aftermath.

Since the disaster, Kobayashi has closely monitored the radioactivity of food, drinking water and soil by working with a local citizens group. In one instance, radioactivity registered more than 10,000 becquerels per kilogram when she measured the levels of the dust and dirt sucked up in a vacuum cleaner at her home.

Returning home means she still faces the risk of exposure to long-term, low radiation. How this could affect her health is not understood by scientists.

Odaka was previously designated a “zone in preparation for the lifting of the evacuation order,” where an annual radiation dose is estimated at 20 millisieverts or below.

Extensive decontamination work over the past three years paved the way for the evacuees’ return.

Despite the lifting of the ban, only 10 to 20 percent of the residents from Odaka and other parts of Minami-Soma are expected to go back.

Evacuees are reluctant because of the potential hazard of the long-term, low radiation exposure and the new living and social networks built during the five years they were away.

They are also wary of the risks of moving back in the vicinity of the nuclear complex where the unprecedented scale of work to decommission the damaged reactors is under way amid a host of challenges, including an accumulated buildup of highly radioactive water.

Before the nuclear accident, Kobayashi had a staff of five that washed and starched the linen. It was a hallmark of her ryokan’s hospitality. With only one staffer coming back, however, Kobayashi has to forgo the starched sheets.

At one point, more than 60,000 of the city’s 72,000 residents evacuated, including those who left voluntarily.

After she moved into temporary housing in Minami-Soma in 2012, Kobayashi occasionally visited the inn to clean up. The dark waters of the tsunami, spawned by the magnitude-9.0 tremor on March 11, 2011, almost reached the front door of her ryokan, even though it is situated 3 km from the coast.

Her neighborhood, which was blessed with a wide array of edible wild plants, mushrooms and freshwater fish, was transformed into a “gray ghost town.” The landscape became increasingly bleaker as gardens of homes were occupied by piles of black plastic bales containing radioactive waste from the cleanup operation.

Kobayashi had many sleepless nights. She wondered whether she could ever pick up the threads of the existence she led before the catastrophe.

Her turning point came in September 2013 when she joined a tour to the region in Ukraine devastated by the Chernobyl accident.

I was curious to know how victims of a nuclear accident considered more serious than Fukushima’s are faring nowadays,” Kobayashi said.

Kobayashi also wanted to convey her gratitude to those affected by the Chernobyl explosion in Zhytomyr province for sending 150 dosimeters to Minami-Soma. The devices proved to be invaluable at a time when the city badly needed them.

When her tour group visited Zhytomyr, the residents there shared their experiences and answered questions sincerely.

What struck Kobayashi during the trip was the disparity between Ukraine’s local government and Japanese authorities in their handling of radiation risks and programs made available to help the victims.

In Ukraine, authorities are more hands-on.

No Trespassing” and other warning signs were put up in communities, although their doses of radiation were lower than that in Odaka. Ukraine authorities issued a warning on the basis of radioactive contamination in the ground as it could lead to internal radiation exposure of residents through the spread of radioactive dust.

She also learned that a large number of people in Zhytomyr have developed health problems, not just cancer, but also a wide variety of diseases.

But they are guaranteed by law the right to receive treatment or to take refuge.

That is in sharp contrast with the Japanese government briefings with evacuees, which barely touched on the long-term, low radiation risks.

Kobayashi is outraged by this.

The Japanese government steered displaced people toward their return by repeating that an annual exposure of up to 20 millisieverts poses little health risk,” she said.

Kobayashi said she would have been less suspicious of the intention of Japanese officials if they had candidly admitted that they didn’t know about the possible effects on health.

She is also angered about the way authorities treated evacuees in light of the July 12 lifting of the ban.

Evacuees from Minami-Soma’s Kawabusa district, a mountainous area that fell in the “residence restriction zone,” were also allowed to return. The zone is defined as one registering an estimated annual dose of between 20 to 50 millisieverts.

Although a dose in Kawabusa was confirmed to have dropped to less than 20 millisieverts, the clearance came as a surprise to many locals since it ran counter to the government’s previous policy of designating such an area first a zone in preparation for the lifting.

Kawabusa is home to about 300 people, including many children.

Despite a drop in radiation readings in her community, Kobayashi said she cannot ask her grandchildren, who are 8 and 2, to come visit her and her husband yet.

But she is determined to make an effort for rebuilding.

I don’t know how many more years it will take to bring back the happy sounds of children to our community, but I am determined to do what I can do now,” Kobayashi said.


August 5, 2016 Posted by | Fukushima 2016 | , , | Leave a comment

Evacuation order lifted in Minami-Soma after 5 years, affecting 10,000 people


For the first time in five years, a train begins service on the 9.4-kilometer stretch between Odaka and Haranomachi stations in Minami-Soma, Fukushima Prefecture, on East Japan Railway Co.’s Joban Line at 7:33 a.m. on July 12.

Evacuation order lifted in Minami-Soma after 5 years

MINAMI-SOMA, Fukushima Prefecture–In good news for residents, an evacuation order for the southern part of the city here was lifted on July 12 for the first time since the massive earthquake and tsunami crippled the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant five years ago.

However, due to lingering fears of radiation contamination, less than 20 percent of the populace are set to return to their homes.

The central government allowed residents back into the southern region of the city after midnight on July 11. It marks the sixth time that evacuation orders have been lifted for locales in Fukushima Prefecture, following such municipalities as Naraha and Katsurao.

The latest lifting in Minami-Soma affects a total of 10,807 residents in 3,487 households in all parts of the Odaka district and parts of the Haramachi district, making it the largest number of people to be let back into their homes since evacuation zones were established following the 2011 nuclear disaster.

Two residents living in a household in an area designated a “difficult-to-return” zone in the southern part of the city are still not allowed back home.

However, only about 2,000 residents signed up to stay overnight at their homes in the area ahead of the lifting of the evacuation order.

That is likely because many still fear the effects of radiation from the destroyed power plant, which straddles the towns of Futaba and Okuma to the south of Minami-Soma. In addition, five years was more than enough time for residents who evacuated elsewhere to settle down.

With at least some of the residents returning home, East Japan Railway Co. resumed service on the 9.4-kilometer stretch between Odaka and Haranomachi stations on the Joban Line for the first time in more than five years on the morning of July 12. The first train of the morning entered Odaka Station carrying 170 or so people on two cars as traditional flags used in the Soma Nomaoi (Soma wild horse chase) festival on the platform greeted passengers.

The central government is pushing to lift evacuation orders on all areas of the prefecture excluding difficult-to-return zones by March 2017.

Japan lifts evacuation orders in Fukushima affecting 10,000 people

FUKUSHIMA, Japan (Kyodo) — The government on Tuesday further scaled down areas in Fukushima Prefecture subject to evacuation orders since the March 2011 nuclear disaster at the Fukushima Daiichi complex, enabling the return of more than 10,000 residents to the city of Minamisoma.

Following the move, the city will become mostly habitable except for one area containing one house. But many residents seem uneager to return, having begun new lives elsewhere.

The government is in the process of gradually lifting evacuation orders issued to areas within a 20-kilometer radius of the plant of Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings Inc. and in certain areas beyond the zone amid ongoing radiation cleanup efforts.

Eight municipalities in Fukushima Prefecture have areas defined as evacuation zones, which are divided into three categories based on their radiation levels. The most seriously contaminated area is called a zone “where it is expected that the residents have difficulties in returning for a long time.”

In Minamisoma, the government lifted evacuation orders for areas except for the difficult-to-return zone. As of July 1, the areas had a registered population of 10,807, or 3,487 households.

To encourage evacuees to return, the central government and the city reopened hospital facilities, built makeshift commercial facilities and prepared other infrastructure.

Radiation cleanup activities have finished in residential areas, but will continue for roads and farmland until next March.

The government hopes to lift the remaining evacuation orders affecting areas other than the difficult-to-return zones by next March, officials said.



July 12, 2016 Posted by | Fukushima 2016 | , , , | Leave a comment

Japan lifts evacuation order for city near nuclear plant


 Minamisoma is one of the most contaminated places in Fukushima. Decontamination is never permanent. Some places already have been decontaminated up to 5 times already, but the contamination always coming back gradually to the pre-decontamination levels thanks to the ruisseling rain and the wind bringing it from the forested hills where it has accumulated. Fukushima prefecture is 80% forested hills/mountains, all heavily contaminated.

The Japanese Government insists on perpetuating the decontamination lie, pushing the people to return to live in the previously evacuated areas, hammering in the media that low-radiation exposure is not harmful to health. Economic priorities prevailing above people lives.

Quoting Bo Jacobs: “This is entirely about removing legally obligated compensation. When you are forced to evacuate, the government is liable for the costs. When the government says that the radiation in your community is acceptable, then there is no more legal obligation to compensate you for living someplace that is safe. “



Tokyo: The Japanese government on Friday lifted an evacuation order for the entire city of Minamisoma, located near the disabled nuclear plant in Fukushima.

The decision, which is awaiting approval from the local council, will allow the return of 12,000 people to the municipalities included in the restricted area around the plant due to the nuclear disaster in 2011.

Minamisoma, with a population of 46,000, is located north of Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant, and the southern and western part of the city is still under the evacuation order, affecting around 11,700 people.

The government has decided to lift the restriction after completing the decontamination work in the residential and surrounding areas, a government spokesperson told state broadcaster NHK.

From next month onwards, Japan intends to allow evacuees to return to the Katsurao and Kawauchi villages too, which means that around 1,480 and 1,040 people will be able to return to their homes respectively.

The last municipality where the evacuation order was completely lifted was Naraha in September 2015, although the inhabitants have returned in small batches due to fear of persisting radiation, a shattered local economy and scarce availability of services.

Around 74,200 citizens throughout the Fukushima prefecture remain evacuated as a result of the earthquake and tsunami of March 11, 2011, out of which only around 4,500 have returned to the areas where the evacuation order has been lifted, according to the local government in February.

May 14, 2016 Posted by | Fukushima 2016 | , , , | Leave a comment