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Radioactive farm to be leased to wind farm without decontamination

Image of the Rokkaku Farm Wind Power Project (tentative name), which is being planned in Naruko Onsen, Miyagi (Prepared and provided by Japan Kumamori Association)

February 15, 2022

On January 5, it was learned that Tohoku University had leased the Tohoku University Ranch in Miyagi Prefecture, which was contaminated with radioactive materials due to the accident at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant of the Tokyo Electric Power Company in 2011, to a large-scale wind power generation project without decontaminating the land. It was learned on January 5. According to the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology (MEXT), there is no other example of a university leasing land contaminated with radioactive materials, which is highly unusual. However, according to the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology (MEXT), there has been no other case in which land contaminated with radioactive materials has been leased.

 Unusual lease of university land

The project is called the Rokkaku Ranch Wind Power Project (tentative name). The project, tentatively called the “Rokkaku Farm Wind Power Generation Project,” will install up to 20 wind turbines with a maximum height of 200 meters at the Rokkaku Farm in the Tohoku University Kawatabi Field Center, which straddles the cities of Osaki and Kurihara in Miyagi Prefecture. The maximum output will be 70,000 kilowatts, and all the power generated will be sold to Tohoku Electric Power Co. Construction is scheduled to begin in the spring of 2023, with the aim of starting operation at the end of fiscal year 2025.

The operator of the project is Kawatabi Wind Power Generation (President: Toru Suzuki), which is made up of the wind power generation company Shimin Wind Power (Sapporo City) and its affiliate CSS (Sapporo City). At present, the environmental impact assessment is in the second of three stages, the “method statement” stage.

Since the amendment of the National University Corporation Act in 2009, it has been possible for universities to lease idle land to third parties unrelated to their original business. In November 2008, Tohoku University applied to the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology for the lease of 3.76 million square meters of ranch land. The application was approved in March of the following year.

According to Tohoku University, the university signed a contract with Kawatabi Wind Power Generation in March 2020 to lease the land to the university through an open competition. According to Tohoku University, the university contracted with Kawatabi Wind Power in March 2020 to lease the land from the public. The annual rental fee is 80 million yen, and the term is 20 years after the start of power generation.

 No decontamination of hot spots

However, the ranch was a “hot spot” where radiation levels were locally high due to the nuclear accident in 2011. Immediately after the accident at the nuclear power plant, radioactive materials formed a “radioactive plume” that flowed with the atmosphere like a cloud, and passed over the northern part of Miyagi Prefecture on the wind. This is because it fell on parts of the cities of Osaki and Kurihara.

According to Tohoku University, radioactive cesium was also detected at Rokkaku Farm, and cattle grazing was suspended. Although decontamination was considered, it was not carried out due to the vastness of the area, and the ranch was left unattended.

At the Miyagi Prefecture Environmental Impact Assessment Technical Review Meeting held in April last year, one of the procedures for environmental assessment, an expert on radioactive materials pointed out that “10,000 to 30,000 becquerels per square meter fell in the area. This is the first time I have ever seen such a thing. He expressed concern that the construction of the wind power generation facility would cause the radioactive materials to flow into the surrounding areas, saying, “If the soil is tampered with improperly, it may turn into muddy water and flow into areas that are not the university’s land.

According to the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology (MEXT), it has approved a total of 26 leases of idle property to national universities nationwide since the law was revised, but Tohoku University is the only one that has applied for a lease because of radioactive contamination. Tohoku University is the only university that has applied for a lease because of radioactive contamination, and the only other university that has applied for a lease for a renewable energy project is Kyoto University for solar power generation.

Tohoku University said, “We measured radiation levels when we leased the land this time, and while it is not suitable for grazing cattle, there is no problem with radiation exposure when the developer works on the land.

 189 200-meter class wind turbines

The Naruko Onsen area of Osaki City, where the ranch is located, is known for its kokeshi dolls, and is one of the top hot spring resorts in Japan, designated as a “national hot spring resort” by the Ministry of the Environment. In the vicinity of the ranch, seven companies, including Rokkaku Farm, are currently working on a huge wind power generation project. A residents’ group, “Naruko Hot Spring Village,” is planning to build a total of 18 wind turbines up to 200 meters in height.

A residents’ group, “Naruko Onsen no Kurashi to Kofukawa wo Kangaeru Kai” (headed by Yoshitake Sone), pointed out, “If the wind turbines are built without decontamination, not only will contaminants flow out, but wind pressure from the turbines may scatter radioactive materials. If the wind turbines are built without decontamination, not only will contaminants leak out, but wind pressure from the turbines may scatter radioactive materials. Tohoku University must be held accountable for its decision to lease the land without any explanation to the residents,” he said, calling for a complete reversal of the plan. Since the end of last year, we have been collecting signatures on the “” website and other sites. The government’s approval standards are questionable.

 Doubts about the government’s approval standards

The revised National University Corporation Act stipulates that one of the criteria for the Minister of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology to approve the lease of idle land to national universities is that the land “shall not be used for any purpose that may cause inconvenience to the surrounding area, such as generating or using noise, vibration, dust, visual discomfort, bad odor, electromagnetic waves, or hazardous materials.

In addition to radioactive contamination, concerns about health hazards due to noise and low-frequency sound, as well as visual discomfort to the landscape, have been raised by residents’ groups and the prefectural government’s technical review committee members.

The Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology’s National University Corporation Support Division said, “The government approves the project on the premise that the university will make sure that the operator complies with the approval standards. If the operator does not comply with the standards, the government will inquire with Tohoku University,” he said.

Regarding the construction of many wind turbines on un-decontaminated land, a Kawatabi Wind Power representative said, “We will investigate the project during the environmental assessment procedure, and based on the results of the investigation, we will plan the project in a way that will not cause any problems while listening to the opinions of experts.

Hitoshi Izu, 60, director of the Finance Department and deputy director of the Asset Management Center at Tohoku University, said, “In the future, after the government approves the wind power generation project, if any problems are reported by residents, the primary responsibility lies with the project owner, but Tohoku University, which owns the land, will not pretend not to know. But Tohoku University, as the owner of the land, will not just pretend not to know about it. There has been no such discussion at this time, but if there is a problem in the future, we will respond sincerely,” he said.


February 23, 2022 Posted by | Fuk 2022 | , , | Leave a comment

Miyagi officials to OK restart of quake-damaged nuclear plant

The Onagawa nuclear power plant operated by Tohoku Electric Power Co.

November 10, 2020

Local governments in Miyagi Prefecture neared approval for the planned restart of the No. 2 reactor at the Onagawa nuclear power plant that was damaged in the 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake and tsunami.

A meeting of all mayors in the prefecture was held on Nov. 9 to hear their views on resuming operations. Some mayors said it was still too early to bring the reactor online, but the general consensus was in favor of the plan of Tohoku Electric Power Co., the operator of the nuclear plant.

The meeting ended with approval to let Miyagi Governor Yoshihiro Murai and the mayors of Onagawa and Ishinomaki, where the nuclear plant is located, make the decision on behalf of all the mayors.

The three local leaders are expected to hold a meeting on Nov. 11 to approve the resumption of operations, sources said.

After gaining local government consent, Tohoku Electric Power will still have to complete various safety measures before the reactor can go back online, such as building a 29-meter-high seawall to protect the plant from tsunami. The reactor is now expected to be operating again in 2023.

It would be the first reactor to restart after being damaged by the 2011 natural disaster.

The Onagawa plant, located about 130 kilometers from the epicenter of the earthquake, recorded a seismic intensity of lower 6 on the Japanese scale of 7.

Part of the plant’s cooling system was damaged by flooding, but plant officials said they were able to safely stop reactor operations after the quake and tsunami.

The No. 2 unit at the Onagawa plant could also become the first boiling water reactor (BWR) to restart since the quake struck. It is similar in basic design to those at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant that suffered meltdowns in the disaster. The Fukushima reactors have all been decommissioned.

Miyagi, Iwate and Fukushima were the three prefectures hardest hit by the quake and tsunami.

Local residents, fishermen and business people of Onagawa took the initiative to seek approval for resuming operations at the nuclear plant.

About 800 town residents were killed in the 2011 disaster, and Onagawa’s population has decreased from about 10,000 to about 6,000.

Half of the 600 or so companies in the town closed for good. The Onagawa chamber of commerce, which includes businesses that sell supplies to the nuclear plant, submitted a request to the town assembly in February, asking that plant operations be resumed.

In May, the Onagawa branch of the Miyagi prefectural fisheries cooperative made a similar request.

Local fishermen whose homes and boats were damaged received financial support from the town government. They also benefited from outlays in an insurance program that received subsidies from the town government from fiscal 2011 to cover premiums that the fishermen could not afford to pay.

The Onagawa government could provide such support because of the local property and other taxes it receives from the nuclear plant.

The Onagawa town’s fiscal adjustment fund that is the equivalent to the savings it possesses reached 9.4 billion yen ($89.5 million) before the 2011 natural disaster. That figure is about half the amount in the fund for Sendai, the prefectural capital, which has about 100 times the population of Onagawa.

The Miyagi prefectural government has also received about 10 billion yen in tax grants in connection to the nuclear plants in the prefecture.

(This article was written by Shinya Tokushima and Susumu Okamoto.)

November 15, 2020 Posted by | Japan | , , | Leave a comment

Residents in Miyagi file suit to block burning of radiation-tainted waste from Fukushima nuclear disaster

Each Fukushima municipality has one incinerator ongoing (18 if I remember well), trying to reduce the volume of accumulated contaminated debris and soil by incineration,but through it continuing nanoparticles air dispersion as it is highly unprobable that those incinerators filters fully block their release..
11 oct 2018 suit against incineration Miyagi pref.
Plaintiffs hold a sign stating their opposition to the burning of radiation-tainted waste as they head to the Sendai District Court to file a lawsuit on Thursday.
Oct 11, 2018
SENDAI – Residents in Osaki, Miyagi Prefecture, filed a lawsuit Thursday seeking to prevent a local public association from burning radiation-tainted waste generated by the 2011 Fukushima nuclear crisis.
Osaki, located about 120 kilometers north of the city of Fukushima, has been keeping some 6,000 tons of tainted grass and rice straw containing radioactive substances in excess of state standards, and the association in charge of waste disposal is scheduled to start burning it from Monday.
The residents filed the suit with the Sendai District Court in the hope of suspending the ¥21.6 million budget for the incineration, claiming the association failed to keep an agreement that it would alleviate residents’ concerns.
“The agreement was a strong message that we would protect the environment for future generations,” said 79-year-old Tadaetsu Abe, who is leading the plaintiffs. “The public administration has ignored the residents’ wishes.”
The association, called the Osaki Area Integrated Administration of a Large Region Office Work Association, declined to comment, saying it has not seen the plaintiffs’ claim.
The Fukushima No. 1 power plant, hit by a major earthquake and tsunami on March 11, 2011, suffered three core meltdowns and spewed radioactive material into the air, contaminating wide areas of the prefecture.
The waste stored in Osaki contains radioactive substances of up to 8,000 becquerels per kilogram. Each municipality is responsible for radioactive waste disposal.
Some 170 residents opposed to the incineration requested an audit of the city’s budget on the waste disposal, but it was rejected as of Sept. 13.

October 12, 2018 Posted by | Fukushima 2018 | , , | Leave a comment

Miyagi Prefecture to Request Municipalities to Dispose by Incineration the 8,000 Becquerels Below Contaminated Waste


The radioactive waste generated by the TEPCO Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant accident will be disposed in accordance to the contaminated waste standard disposal methods of the country. All to be incinerated in the Miyagi Prefecture existing waste treatment facilities.

First of all, they plan to have incineration tests beginning next year, testing incineration in various municipalities facilities, collecting data during approximately 6 months so as to confirm the safety of the concentration in the incinerated ash. Intending to embark on full-scale incineration from the middle of next year, 2017.
The Miyagi Prefecture summarizes its disposal policy : because the procedure for the disposal of contaminated waste above 8000 becquerels takes a long time, we decided to proceed with the disposal of substandard contaminated waste first.

As a specific method, contaminated waste will be burned while mixed with general waste so as not to exceed again radioactive concentration criteria. In addition, some municipalities which stored large volumes of contaminated waste and may not be able to handle it fully on their own, will get help from other municipalities facilities for disposal.

Next month, the Miyagi Prefecture will open the municipal mayors conference, during which it will the municipalities cooperation.



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

Ishinomaki beef to be farmed overseas



A cattle-breeding corporation in Ishinomaki, Miyagi Prefecture, which was devastated by the 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake, will begin raising about 5,000 beef cattle in Vietnam by the end of this year at the earliest, in collaboration with a state-owned company there.

The Vietnamese company will prepare a ranch and young cattle, and Japanese farmers will provide their expertise in livestock farming.

The Japanese side will be able to receive $3 million (about ¥300 million) annually in consultation fees. It will be a particularly large operation for a move overseas by farmers in a disaster-hit area (see below).

It can be not only post-disaster reconstruction but also a new growth strategy for Japan’s agriculture,” a farming expert said in expectation.

The agricultural corporation that will begin the project in Vietnam is Ushichan Farm Co., one of the largest beef cattle breeders in the Tohoku region. The company now raises about 4,000 beef cattle in Miyagi and Iwate prefectures. It ships out beef rich in fat — called shimofuri — and red meat with less fat.

Tsunami following the tremors washed away cattle barns and about 50 cattle. Due to damage from rumors in the wake of the accident at Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings Inc.’s Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant, sales in the year after the disaster fell by about ¥500 million. However, workers at the company have improved the quality of beef through such steps as utilizing tablet computers in breeding management.

Its Vietnamese partner is Saigon Agriculture Incorporation (SAGRI), a state-owned firm based in Ho Chi Minh City.

In Vietnam, volumes of beef consumption have been rising along with its economic growth. SAGRI paid attention to the high-level production skills of Japanese beef-producing farmers to improve the country’s production volumes and qualities of beef.

Red-meat-type beef is popular in Japan, so SAGRI asked Ushichan Farm to collaborate and the two sides signed a business partnership contract in August this year.

SAGRI will prepare a 500-hectare ranch, cattle barns and about 5,000 young cattle in Ho Chi Minh City. Ushichan Farm will provide such techniques as breeding management that uses individual identification numbers and how to mix feeds.

After conducting administrative procedures in the country, the Japanese company will begin raising the cattle by the end of this year at the earliest. Beef from the Vietnamese ranch will be sold in local supermarkets and other stores starting around 2018. Sales will be evenly shared by the two corporations.

Eyeing the Trans-Pacific Partnership free trade pact, the Japanese side plans to import red meat from the cattle to be raised in Vietnam in the future. Ushichan Farm also aims to prepare for international competition with products from the United States and Australia.

We want to make [the project] an opportunity to send out information about Japan’s livestock industry,” said Kazutaka Sato, 39, senior managing director of Ushichan Farm.

According to an official of the Japan External Trade Organization: “Such a large-scale investment in agriculture in Vietnam is rare. It indicates how high the Vietnamese side’s expectations are.”

Kazunuki Oizumi, a professor emeritus of Miyagi University who is an expert on agricultural economics, said, “Exporting skills and techniques can result in new growth not only in the disaster-hit areas but also in Japan’s agriculture overall.”

Moves overseas by farmers in disaster-hit areas

In coastal areas in Miyagi Prefecture devastated by tsunami, farmers have begun businesses overseas. For example, an agricultural production corporation in the town of Yamamoto has grown strawberries in India since autumn 2012, and farmers in the city of Iwanuma have grown rice in Vietnam since summer 2014. This is partly because exporting products from the prefecture has become difficult, as other countries’ restrictions on imports of farming products from the disaster-hit areas were made stricter in the wake of the accident at TEPCO’s Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant.

October 24, 2016 Posted by | Japan | , , , , | Leave a comment