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Incredible contamination in Namie, Fukushima

 

The evacuation orders of the most populated areas of Namie, Fukushima were lifted on March 31st this year.

Fukuichi area environmental radiation monitoring project” has published airborne radiation measurements map and soil surface density map. The results are simply incredible. This is far much worse than in Radiation Control Zone. Any area becomes designated as such when the total effective dose due to external radiation and that due to radioactive substances in the air is likely to exceed 1.3mSv per quarter – over a period of three months, or when the surface density is over 40,000Bq/m2. In the Radiation Control Zone, it is prohibited to drink, eat or stay overnight. Even adults are not allowed to stay more than 10 hours. To leave the zone, one has to go through a strict screening.

Namie’s radio contamination is far over these figures! And people are told to go back to these areas.

Here is the posting of “Fukuichi area environmental radiation monitoring project” in their FB page on April 20th.

We are uploading the map of airborne radiation rate map measured by GyoroGeiger, the Android supported Geiger counter, during the 38th monitoring action between 3 and 7 April 2017. Dose rate is measured at 1m from the ground.
At 56 points over 100 measuring points, the dose rate was over 1µSv/h. These points are indicated in red. The highest measure was 3.71µSv/h. Conversion to annual dose gives 32mSv. Is it allowed to make evacuees return to such areas?

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Here is the soil contamination map uploaded on April 15th. They even had to introduce 7 scales, for the contamination is so high and they couldn’t deal with the scales they were using before! It is a violation of human rights to let people live in such areas.

namie 22 april 2017
https://fukushima311voices.wordpress.com/2017/04/22/incredible-contamination-in-namie-fukushima/

April 25, 2017 Posted by | Fukushima 2017 | , , , | Leave a comment

Fukushima’s Upcoming Olympics

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Japan will hold soccer and baseball events in Fukushima Prefecture for the Tokyo 2020 Olympics. This is not a spoof. Effective March 2017, the Japan Football Association displaces Tokyo Electric Power Company’s emergency operations center at J-Village, the national soccer training center before the nuclear meltdown occurred.

To naysayers that say this is a joke, the answer is ‘no this is not a joke’. It is absolutely true Olympic events will be held in Fukushima Prefecture, thereby casting aside any and all concerns about the ongoing nuclear meltdown; after all that’s history.

Or, is it?

Here is the announcement as carried in The Japan Times some months ago: “The men’s and women’s national soccer teams for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics will use the J-Village national soccer training center, currently serving as Tokyo Electric Power Co.’s forward base in dealing with the Fukushima nuclear crisis, as their training base, the Japan Football Association revealed Saturday.”

For those who missed the past few classes, Fukushima is home to the worst industrial accident in human history as three nuclear reactors experienced 100% meltdown, the dreaded “China Syndrome.” Molten core, or corium, in all of the reactors, highly radioactive and deadly, frizzles robots. Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO) says it may take 40 years to clean up the disaster zone, but that is a wild guess.

Nobody on planet Earth has any idea where the radioactive molten cores are, within the reactor containment vessels or burrowed into the earth, and/or what happens next, e.g., there’s speculation that Unit #2 is rickety and could collapse from another big earthquake (Japan is riddled with earthquake zones, experiencing an earthquake on average every day) thus collapsing, which leads to an untold, massive disaster, rendering the city of Tokyo uninhabitable.

According to Dr. Shuzo Takemoto, Engr. / Kyoto University, February 2017: “The Fukushima nuclear facility is a global threat on level of a major catastrophe… The problem of Unit 2… If it should encounter a big earth tremor, it will be destroyed and scatter the remaining nuclear fuel and its debris, making the Tokyo metropolitan area uninhabitable.”

Numerous efforts by TEPCO to locate the melted cores have been useless. As of recently: “Some Nuclear Regulation Authority members are skeptical of continuing to send robots into reactors in the crippled Fukushima No. 1 plant to collect vital data on the locations of melted nuclear fuel and radiation levels… investigations utilizing robots controlled remotely generated few findings and were quickly terminated” (Source: Nuke Watchdog Critical as Robot Failures Mount at Fukushima Plant, The Asahi Shimbun, March 24, 2017).

All of which inescapably brings to mind the following question: How could anybody possibly have the audacity to bring Olympic events to the backyard of the worst nuclear meltdown in history whilst it remains totally 100% out of control?

Answer: Japan’s PM Shinzō Abe and the International Olympic Committee (IOC).

According to Naohiro Masuda, the head of decommissioning, TEPCO does not know how to decommission the nuclear facilities. Meanwhile, ongoing radiation is a constant threat to air, soil, food, and water, e.g., state inspectors have discovered deadly high levels of cesium pooling at the base of Fukushima’s 10 big dams that serve as water reservoirs (drinking water and agriculture). For example, Ganbe Dam 27,533 Bq/kg and Mano Dam at 26,859 Bq/kg whereas Japan’s Environment Ministry’s safe limit for “designated waste” is set at 8,000 Bq/kg. That limit is for “waste,” not drinking water. (Source: High Levels of Radioactive Cesium Pooling at Dams Near Fukushima Nuke Plant, The Mainichi – Japan’s National Daily Since 1922, September 26, 2016.)

Japanese officials are ignoring the extraordinarily high levels of cesium at the bottom of the dam reservoirs because the top water levels do meet drinking water standards. The prescribed safe limit of radioactive cesium for drinking water is 200 Bq/kg. A Becquerel (“Bq”) is a gauge of strength of radioactivity in materials such as Iodine-131 and Cesium-137. As it happens, Cesium-137 is one of the most poisonous substances on the face of the planet.

Additionally, open storage and incineration of toxic and radioactive rubble is ongoing throughout the prefecture. In fact, the entire prefecture is a toxic warehouse of radioactive isotopes, especially with 70% of Fukushima consisting of forests never decontaminated, yet the Abe administration is moving people back to restricted zones that Greenpeace Japan says contain radioactive hot spots.

According to Greenpeace Japan, which has conducted 25 extensive surveys for radiation throughout Fukushima Prefecture since 2011: “Unfortunately, the crux of the nuclear contamination issue – from Kyshtym to Chernobyl to Fukushima- is this: When a major radiological disaster happens and impacts vast tracts of land, it cannot be ‘cleaned up’ or ‘fixed’.” (Source: Hanis Maketab, Environmental Impacts of Fukushima Nuclear Disaster Will Last ‘decades to centuries’ – Greenpeace, Asia Correspondent, March 4, 2016).

With the onset of the Fukushima Diiachi meltdown, the Japanese government increased the International Commission on Radiological Protection guidelines for radiation exposure of people from 1 millisievert (mSv) per year up to 20 mSv/yr. As such, according to the standards set by the International Commission on Radiological Protection, ICRP Publication 111, Japan’s Olympics will expose Olympians and visitors to higher than publicly acceptable levels of radiation. After all, the emergency guideline of 20 mSv/yr was never meant to be a long-term solution.

With the onset of Olympic venues in Fukushima, maybe that will open the way for the 2024 Olympics in Chernobyl. But, on second thought that will not work. Chernobyl’s Exclusion Zone is 1,000 square miles (off limits for hundreds, maybe thousands, of years) because of an explosion in one nuclear power plant that is now under control whereas Fukushima has three nuclear meltdowns that remain, to this day and into the unforeseeable future, radically out of control and extremely hazardous.

Mystifying and Confusing?

Yes, it’s mystifying and confusing, but the games go on.

http://www.counterpunch.org/2017/04/12/fukushimas-upcoming-olympics/

April 13, 2017 Posted by | Fukushima 2017 | , , , | Leave a comment

Radiation brings fear, and kids let it all out

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Kids say the cruellest things: A girl bullied at school with the taunt ‘You’ve got the radiation!’ (right) sits at her home in Chiba Prefecture, where she moved after fleeing Fukushima Prefecture in the wake of the March 2011 nuclear disaster

Radiation is a fearful thing. Colorless, odorless, undetectable except by special instruments, it’s one of those evils you can dismiss from your mind altogether, until the special instruments start registering. Then suddenly it’s everywhere, or seems to be — a ubiquitous and ineradicable contaminant.

Children, as we all know, say and do the damnedest things. They mean no harm, they just know not what they do, sometimes. Their innocence is terrifying. Sometimes innocence looks anything but innocent. But all societies recognize it.

Children are not legally responsible for their actions. Parents and teachers may punish them in order to teach them responsibility. But it’s a long process. Until it’s complete, the evil they do, when they do evil, gets filed under “mischief,” in recognition of the spirit in which it was — probably — committed.

When Tokyo Electric Power Co.’s Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant cracked under the strain of a tsunami six years ago and irradiated large swaths of Fukushima Prefecture, refugees streamed out of the stricken area, settling where they could. Forty thousand of them remain out-of-prefecture, 5,100 in Tokyo. Most of them will never go home again. Will they ever be at home where they are?

Josei Seven magazine raises the issue of “nuclear bullying.” Children too young, one might think, to even know the word “radiation” picked it up under the circumstances, and flung it with what seems like gleeful malice at disoriented new classmates who had enough to cope with already. Six years on, says Josei Seven, they’re still flinging it.

It started immediately,” says one refugee, recalling her son’s transfer to a Tokyo elementary school in the immediate aftermath of the disaster. “‘Fukushima kids are weird,’ they’d shout at him. Kids would crawl under his desk and jab his feet with pencils. In the mornings he began saying he wasn’t feeling well. At the time, frankly, I was too traumatized myself to take much notice.”

Lawyer Yukio Yamakawa, director-general of the Tokyo Disaster Support Network, takes up the story with an account of other children he’s spoken to. What starts with name-calling (“Hey, Radioactive!” “Hey, Bacteria!”) easily escalates into what’s hard not to call torture. One kid is forced to drink a bottle of ink. Another has his shoes tossed into the toilet. A third is met in the corridor by classmates poised as if brandishing guns: “Radiation! Bang! Bang!” A fourth suffers extortion of what adds up over time to ¥1.5 million: “You can afford it, your family gets (disaster victim) compensation payments!”

Yamakawa reports this taunt making the rounds: “Fukushima kids won’t live past junior high school anyway, so you may as well die now.”

Tanaka-san,” as we’ll call the mother cited above, began to fear her son might commit suicide. A poem he wrote contained the line, “Oh, to be able to go to heaven.” Fully focused now, she transferred the boy to another school. The peace that followed was short-lived. Name-calling, exclusion — it started all over again. The homeroom teacher was well-intentioned and put a stop to it — what she could see of it. What went on behind her back was beyond her control. A lot did, its viciousness increasing.

I’d been bullied myself as a child,” Tanaka says, incidentally reminding us that the problem is neither new nor necessarily nuclear-related. “I understood what he was going through.”

She transferred him again. That seems to have ended the ugliest persecution, but, once a victim, you don’t simply get over it. The boy as a small child had dreamed of being a botanist when he grew up. Now he simply says, “I have no dreams.” Fukushima No. 1 destroyed much that is quantifiable — lives, property, livelihoods — and much that isn’t.

What to make of little kids who inflict this torment on other little kids? Can innocence itself be evil? Or fictitious? One hypothesis Josei Seven raises is that children merely absorb what they hear from their parents. Lacking critical faculties and adult inhibitions, they act where grown-ups merely talk.

The energy and imagination they put into it make it hard not to suspect they enjoy it. Enjoyment of other people’s sufferings is a well-attested human trait, exploited for mass entertainment at least as far back as the Roman circuses. Nothing has happened since to root it out of us, and if radiation stimulates it today, in that respect at least it breaks no new ground.

Naked fear is a factor too. Radiation, unseen, unheard, is the most fearful of stalkers. Might school kids seriously believe their Fukushima classmates are contagious? If so, the rational response would be to stay away from them, but fear and hatred merge, short-circuiting rationality and generating “Radiation, bang, bang!”

Radiation today, tuberculosis a century ago, different causes producing similar effects. Novelist Ayako Miura (1922-1999), herself a sufferer, made what might be called “tuberculosis bullying” a sub-theme of her novel “Shiokari Toge” (Shiokari Pass), set in late-19th-century Hokkaido: “It was an age when sufferers of tuberculosis were so hated and feared that they were even forced to leave the neighborhood.” A character who innocently brings up the subject arouses horror in his listener: “Mr. Nagano, even if you only mention the name of that dreadful disease it makes your lungs rot!”

Radiation, bang, bang!” Last July a 26-year-old man slipped into a facility for disabled patients in Kanagawa Prefecture and slaughtered 19 of them, his apparent intention being to free the world from the scourge of disability. Disability, bang, bang. In February Satoshi Uematsu was declared fit to stand trial. A psychiatric evaluation found in him symptoms of a personality disorder but not of incapacity to distinguish right from wrong.

The disorder in question, writes psychiatrist Rika Kayama in the weekly Spa!, amounts to an extreme form of self-love. “Of course,” she writes, “we all love ourselves; we all at one time or another fantasize about being king or queen of the world …” We’d all, in short, be insane, more or less, if we let our fantasies rule our actions. Most of us know when to stop.

Uematsu’s self-love, Kayama hypothesizes, took the form of a conviction of having a mission, a destiny to fulfill. Maybe we all have that too, to some degree. Adults usually stifle it. Children often don’t.

http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2017/03/25/national/media-national/radiation-brings-fear-kids-let/?utm_source=Daily+News+Updates&utm_campaign=10c9bd6edc-Sunday_email_updates26_03_2017&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_c5a6080d40-10c9bd6edc-332835557#.WNbGPRjMx2Y

March 26, 2017 Posted by | Fukushima 2017 | , , , , | Leave a comment

SYMPOSIUM: Locals, experts discuss radiation risks, solutions, future in Iitate

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FUKUSHIMA–Even after six years, lingering concerns over radiation loom large over the lives of evacuees from a village in northeastern Tohoku ravaged by the Great East Japan Earthquake and nuclear disaster in 2011.

Residents have agonized over whether to return to their homes in the village of Iitate, one of the most heavily contaminated areas, since evacuation orders are to be lifted on March 31.

Masanobu Akaishizawa, 67, head of an administrative district of Iitate, expressed his concerns at a recent symposium held here in mid-February.

Experts say radiation doses don’t affect us as long as we stay home,” he said. “But I wonder about the quality of my life if I can neither go to the mountains nor the river.”

Iitate was in the direct path of radioactive materials that spewed from the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant, operated by Tokyo Electric Power Co., following the triple meltdown due to the earthquake, tsunami as well as the government and TEPCO’s shortcomings on March 11, 2011.

Ahead of the lifting of the evacuation order for most of the village of Iitate on March 31, researchers and journalists, who have conducted field surveys since immediately after the accident, shared their views on radiation effects on health and avoiding health risks with villagers at the symposium.

The symposium, titled “Think about the future of Iitate villagers,” was hosted by the Iitate-mura Society for Radioecology, which comprises academics and citizens who committed themselves to continue their support for residents through their expertise.

During the session, Tetsuji Imanaka, a researcher at the Kyoto University Research Reactor Institute, estimated the annual average radiation exposure to residents if they immediately return to the area after the evacuation orders are lifted. He put the figure at approximately 5 millisieverts of radiation.

How can residents come to terms with the health risks caused by radiation exposure? That’s the issue,” Imanaka said.

Katsumi Furitsu, a doctor at the Hyogo College of Medicine, highlighted the government’s responsibility.

Furitsu has conducted research in the areas devastated by the crippled Chernobyl nuclear plant in Ukraine, site of the world’s worst nuclear accident in 1986.

Low-dose radiation exposure also has health risks in accordance with the amount,” Furitsu said.

Offering appropriate health management and medical benefits (for the disaster victims who have been exposed to radiation) is the government’s minimum responsibility just like it issued ‘hibakusha’ (A-bomb victims) health books in Hiroshima and Nagasaki,” Furitsu emphasized.

Hibakusha health books have been awarded to those certified by the government as radiation victims of the 1945 atomic bombings, making them eligible for special health-care benefits, including allowing them access to free medical assistance.

Such a book could also become a powerful weapon to force the government to take responsibility for Fukushima evacuees for future damage to their health potentially related to radiation exposure.

Villagers expressed, however, concern that this could lead to possible future discrimination.

We understand the necessity of issuing the radiation exposure record books to protect victim’s health,” said one resident. “But high school girls have fears and worries about possible future discrimination that is likely to be caused by possessing the books by posing such questions as, “Can we get married?” or “Can we have children?”

In response to those poignant voices from the disaster victims, Furitsu said, “In Hiroshima and Nagasaki, the same concerns were expressed. However, unjustified discrimination occurred not because of the health book, but because those who should take responsibility didn’t take it.”

The government should take measures that help residents who had been burdened with unnecessary risks,” Furitsu said, referring to such matters as providing health management, medical benefits, education and other activities to raise awareness of discrimination against disaster victims, especially if they have been exposed to low-dose radiation.

Yoshinobu Ito, 73, a farmer who moved to Iitate before the disaster, was especially worried about the risk radiation could have on children when they return to the village.

He released the results of measurements of radiation levels around his house that he has taken since the Fukushima nuclear disaster.

Although the levels of radiation dose have dropped, they are still 10 times higher than the figures before the disaster. Even if I return to Iitate, rebuilding agriculture is a hardship,” said Ito.

The effects of radiation also cast a shadow over Japanese cattle farmers such as Kiyomi Shigihara, 62, of Nagadoro in the southernmost section of Iitate. Nagadoro was designated as the only “difficult-to-return zone” in the village.

With regard to the government policy of decontaminating only reconstruction base areas and then lifting an evacuation order after five years, Shigihara said, “Under these circumstances, even if I return home, there’s nothing I can do.”

Unable to repress his emotions, Shigihara wiped tears from his eyes.

http://www.asahi.com/ajw/articles/AJ201703250003.html

March 26, 2017 Posted by | Fukushima 2017 | , , , , | Leave a comment

Asking the tough questions on Fukushima

What a load of spun crap, to be polite: “Moreover, the government is lifting the evacuation order for any areas where annual radiation levels are “no more than” 20 mSv. The International Commission on Radiological Protection told the government that once the situation had stabilized in the affected areas, people could return if radiation dropped to between 1 and 20 mSv, but the lower the better. Exposure to 20 mSv for a short period may not be a problem, but it could have harmful effects in the long run.”

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In the thick of it: Industry Minister Yosuke Takagi (right) is exploring a variety of options to boost agricultural areas near the crippled Fukushima No.1 nuclear power plant.

In January, regional newspaper Fukushima Minpo interviewed Yosuke Takagi, state minister of economy, trade and industry. While talking about reconstruction plans for areas near the crippled Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant, Takagi mentioned resurrecting Dash-mura (Dash Village), a farm created from scratch by boy band Tokio for its Nippon TV series “The Tetsuwan Dash.”

The location of Dash-mura was always secret, lest Tokio’s fans descend on the project and destroy its rustic purity. But following the reactor accident caused by the Great East Japan Earthquake, it was revealed that the farm was in an area declared off-limits due to its proximity to the plant. It was promptly abandoned.

A different news outlet, Fukushima Minyu, clarified that the revival of Dash-mura is “nothing more than a personal idea of Takagi’s,” but that he intends to discuss it with related parties. An 80-year-old farmer who once worked with Tokio on the project told Minyu that bringing back the farm would be a great PR boost for the area’s agriculture, which is obviously Takagi’s aim. The show’s producer, however, after hearing of Takagi’s comment, tweeted that he knew nothing about the news, adding cryptically that “Dash-mura is no one’s thing.”

The Huffington Post called the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry to ask if it had any intention of reviving Dash-mura. A representative only “confirmed” that Takagi had “made such a comment” and said METI had no “definite plan” to that end but might “study it.”

Nevertheless, the idea fits in with the government’s goal of getting former residents to move back to the area. Last week, authorities announced they would further reduce the evacuation zone at the end of the month, which means it will have shrunk by 70 percent since April 2014. The concern is that few people want to return. Some have already made lives for themselves elsewhere and see a lack of opportunity in their old communities.

Many also remain suspicious of the government’s assurances that radioactivity has dropped to a safe level. There is still debate among experts as to whether or not the radiation in the area is dangerous. The government says that the problems caused by the accident are now “under control,” and affected residents can soon go back to their old lives.

One media outlet who has challenged this assumption is TV Asahi’s “Hodo Station.” On March 9, the nightly news show sent its main announcer, Yuta Tomikawa, to Iitate, a village located about 40 km from the crippled nuclear facility. All 6,000 residents were eventually evacuated after the accident.

Standing in front of rows of black plastic bags, Tomikawa reported that, according to the government, decontamination efforts have been a success. A safe annual radiation level is 1 millisievert, but a local dairy farmer told Tomikawa that his own readings showed five times that level, adding that 70 percent of Iitate is wooded and forest land had not been decontaminated yet.

Moreover, the government is lifting the evacuation order for any areas where annual radiation levels are “no more than” 20 mSv. The International Commission on Radiological Protection told the government that once the situation had stabilized in the affected areas, people could return if radiation dropped to between 1 and 20 mSv, but the lower the better. Exposure to 20 mSv for a short period may not be a problem, but it could have harmful effects in the long run.

Tomikawa did not say that people who returned to Iitate would be in danger, but he did imply that the government is manipulating numbers in an attempt to persuade evacuees to return to their homes.

The web magazine Litera wrote that TV Asahi is the only mainstream media outlet to question the government line in this regard. Actually, Nippon TV did something similar, albeit indirectly. Last month, it rebroadcasted an episode of its “NNN Document” series about the married manzai (stand-up comedy) duo Oshidori Mako-Ken’s efforts to come to terms with the Fukushima meltdowns and their aftermath.

The couple belongs to the large Osaka-based entertainment company Yoshimoto Kogyo, but ever since the disaster Mako has attended about 500 related news conferences, making a nuisance of herself by plying Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings employees and government officials with questions the mainstream media don’t usually ask.

In order to gain access to the news conferences, she offered stories to the weekly magazine Spa! Her editor there told Nippon TV that Mako is now respected or resented by a lot of full-time journalists, partly because she’s a geinojin (entertainer) who has proved her mettle as a reporter, but mainly because of her hard-line queries, which put her interlocutors on the spot.

Following the disaster, Mako became suspicious when she saw people fleeing Tokyo in large numbers but heard nothing about it on the news. In order to make sense of the situation she’d watch unfiltered news conferences about the disaster on the internet. She realized only independent reporters asked tough questions, so she started attending them herself as a proxy for average people who didn’t understand what was going on. The more officials obfuscated, the more she studied.

She’s now recognized by some foreign press as one of the most informed persons on the subject — she even received a letter of encouragement from Pope Francis — and yet she’s shunned by the Japanese press. Nevertheless, she has dedicated followers, including workers cleaning up the reactor who often feed her questions to ask of officials. She’s won awards for her work, but from citizens groups, not media groups.

Nowadays, Mako and Ken do more free lectures on Fukushima No. 1 than they do comedy shows. One of their main themes is that media reports tend to confuse the public rather than inform them, but that’s really the fault of the government, which would like nothing better than for people to feel as if nothing ever happened.

http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2017/03/18/national/media-national/asking-tough-questions-fukushima/

March 20, 2017 Posted by | Fukushima 2017 | , , , | Leave a comment

Press conference at FCCJ on The Dangers of Low-Dose Radiation in Fukushima

 

Six years after the Fukushima nuclear accident, concerns about low-dose radiation and the decision to reopen much of the evacuation zone to returning evacuees have not been settled. Representatives from the Citizen-Scientist International Symposium on Radiation Protection (CSRP), a non-profit organization based in Tokyo, will explain their concerns and outline their recommendations, which have been signed by experts belonging to scientific organizations from all over the world.
The recommendations are addressed to Japanese authorities in charge of risk communication and radiation protection measures in the area affected by radiation from the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant.
The scientists take a critical look at risk communication currently conducted by the Japanese authorities and list urgent action that is required on behalf of the victims of the nuclear accident. They recommend using the “linear non-threshold model” based on the latest scientific findings and challenge the present return policy for the evacuees to areas below 20 mSv of radiation.
These recommendations are published in the science journal Kagaku in March 2017 and they will also be presented to Japan’s environment minister, the director general of the Reconstruction Agency and the governor of Fukushima Prefecture.

 

March 16, 2017 Posted by | Fukushima 2017 | , , | 1 Comment

No Return to Normal in Fukushima

 

Just 6 years ago Fukushima was struck by a deadly earthquake, and then a nuclear disaster. For the survivors, there’s been no return to normal.

March 15, 2017 Posted by | Fukushima 2017 | , , , , | Leave a comment

After Fukushima disaster, Japanese mothers don lab coats to measure radiation

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IWAKI, Japan, March 9 (Thomson Reuters Foundation) – At a laboratory an hour’s drive from Japan’s Fukushima nuclear plant, a woman with a white mask over her mouth presses bright red strawberries into a pot, ready to be measured for radiation contamination.

Six years after a massive earthquake off the coast of Japan triggered meltdowns at three of Fukushima’s reactors, local mothers with no scientific background staff a laboratory that keeps track of radiation levels in food, water and soil.

As some women divide the samples between different bowls and handmade paper containers, others are logging onto computers to keep an eye on data – findings that will be published for the public to access.

The women on duty, wearing pastel-coloured overalls, are paid a small salary to come in for a few hours each day, leaving them free to care for their children after school.

“In universities, data is handled by qualified students, who have taken exams qualifying them to measure radiation. Here, it’s done by mothers working part-time. It’s a crazy situation,” laughed Kaori Suzuki, director of Tarachine, the non-profit organisation that houses the mothers’ radiation lab.

“If a university professor saw this I think they would be completely shocked by what they see.”

Tarachine was set up 60 km (40 miles) down the coast from the Fukushima plant, in the city of Iwaki. After the magnitude 9 quake struck on March 11, 2011, triggering a tsunami, authorities declared a no-go zone around the plant.

Iwaki lay outside its 30 km radius, with lower radiation levels compared to the rest of Fukushima prefecture.

But with public announcements advising locals to stay indoors in the aftermath of the worst nuclear calamity since Chernobyl, the “invisible enemy” of radiation has continued to worry the mothers working at the lab.

NOTHING TO SEE, SMELL OR FEEL

“As ordinary citizens we had no knowledge about radiation at all. All we knew was that it is frightening,” said Suzuki.

“We can’t see, smell or feel radiation levels. Given this invisibility, it was extremely difficult for us. How do we fight it? The only way is to measure it.”

To supplement readings by the Japanese government and the Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO) that manages the nuclear plant, Tarachine publishes its own findings every month.

With donations from the public that helped them buy equipment designed to measure food contamination, the mothers measure radioactive isotopes caesium 134 and 137, and collect data on gamma radiation, strontium 90 and tritium, all of which were released during the Fukushima disaster.

Strontium-90 gravitates toward the bones when absorbed by breathing it, drinking it in water, or eating it in food. It can remain for years, potentially causing bone cancer or leukaemia.

Tritium goes directly into the soft tissues and organs of the human body. Although it is less harmful to humans who are exposed to small amounts of tritium every day, it could still be a hazard for children, scientists say.

The mothers say other parents trust the lab’s radioactivity readings in local food more than those from the government.

“This issue is part of everyday life for these mothers, so they have the capability to spot certain trends and various problems rather than just accumulating expert knowledge,” said Suzuki.

To handle potentially dangerous materials, the mothers have to study for exams related to radiation and organic chemistry.

“At the beginning I was just completely clueless. It gave me so much of a headache, it was a completely different world to me!” said Fumiko Funemoto, a mother of two, who measures strontium 90 at the lab.

“But you start to get the hang of it as you’re in this environment every day.”

As the lab only accepts items for testing from outside the exclusion zone, most results show comparatively low radiation levels.

But Suzuki says this is an important process and is especially reassuring to the parents of young children. The women also measure radiation levels in sand from the beach, which has been out of bounds to their children.

“If the base is zero becquerels (unit of radiation), and there is, say, 15 or 16 becquerels of caesium, that’s still higher than zero. That means there is slightly more risk,” Suzuki said.

“There are also times when you’re like, ‘Oh, I thought levels were going to be high there – but it’s actually ok’. The importance lies in knowing what’s accurate, whether it’s high or low … unless you know the levels, you can’t implement the appropriate measures.”

MINIMISING THE RISKS

Since official screenings began following the nuclear accident, 174 children in Fukushima prefecture have been diagnosed with – or are suspected of having – thyroid cancer, according to figures from Fukushima’s local government.

Despite the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA)reporting in 2015 that an increase in thyroid cancer is unlikely, the mothers insist there is value in their work.

The first pictures from inside the nuclear plant were released by TEPCO in January, announcing it may have found nuclear fuel debris below the damaged No. 2 reactor – one of three affected by the 2011 disaster.

“In general, the issue of nuclear power is not really talked about much these days. It was talked about after the accident for about a year or so, but today, conversations mentioning words like ‘radiation’ don’t happen anymore,” Funemoto said.

“But I think the reality is different. The radiation isn’t going to go away. That’s why I’m doing this. So many places are still damaged. This idea that it’s safe and that we shouldn’t be anxious doesn’t really add up.”

Ai Kimura, another mother agrees. “My parents think I’m a bit paranoid. They keep saying, ‘it’s okay isn’t it?” she said.

“But what if there’s a chance that in 10 or 20 years time, my own child gets thyroid cancer? And I could have done my bit to minimise the risks. My children are mine and I want to do whatever I can to protect them.”

http://uk.reuters.com/article/japan-women-radiation-idUKL8N1G66K0

March 10, 2017 Posted by | Fukushima 2017 | , , , | Leave a comment

Die-offs on US West Coast linked to Fukushima radiation???

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Charles Perrow, Yale University professor emeritus and Stanford University visiting professor, published Apr 2016 (emphasis added):

Could I just make an observation that’s been missing from this interesting discussion? Fukushima accident is not over – not by any means…

The cancer rate in Japan is going to rise steadily. It’s going to be denied by the government because there’s no transparency on this issue in Japan.

There’s a particular example of the problem that intrigues me is when they put the plant in, they not only dug it out so it’d be closer to the water source – the sea – but they put it where there was a river flowing underneath that area. They went up the hill and they diverted the river so that it flowed down on the sides of the large area there and that was no problem. They never anticipated an earthquake could wreck their diversion.

So know we have a strong underground river flowing directly under the plant where three huge globs of molten fuel are sitting on the bottom, giving off radiation, and sending that radiation into the water through the river that’s underneath the plant.

And it’s going out into the ocean and we’re seeing damage in the marine life on the West Coast of the U.S. and British Columbia.

There’s no way that’s going to be stopped until they get the molten cores out of there, and they have no way — that they know of — of doing that. Nobody has any idea what to do about the continuing Fukushima contamination.

Watch Perrow’s comments on Fukushima here (at 1:34:30 in)

Professor Sonja Schmid at 1:39:16

The question of nuclear becomes a question of democracy and ultimately a question of justice. Who gets to say something? And whether we entrust these decisions to governments and technocrats, or how, if we decide to do so, we democratize the process. And it’s challenging no matter how you plan to go forward, but I think that’s the ultimate lesson of this, that we can no longer have technocrats, scientists and engineers in charge defining “the real risk” and then solving it, and the rest of the population just watches and has no impact whatsoever on these questions or how they are being addressed.”

Charles Perrow’s paper “Nuclear Denial”, published in the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists in 2013

http://cisac.fsi.stanford.edu/sites/default/files/Bulletin_of_the_Atomic_Scientists-2013-Perrow-56-67.pdf

Sonja Schmid is a professor at Virgina Tech. From her bio: “Sonja Schmid teaches courses in social studies of technology, science and technology policy, socio-cultural studies of risk, energy policy, and nuclear nonproliferation. She is particularly interested in examining the interface of national energy policies, technological choices, and nonproliferation concerns. “

http://www.cornell.edu/video/five-years-after-fukushima-lessons-learned-nuclear-accidents

 

March 4, 2017 Posted by | Fukushima 2017 | , , , , | Leave a comment

Ocean survey 1.5 km off the coast of Fukushima Daiichi

 

Results collected in an ocean survey 1.5 km off the coast of Fukushima:
Cesium 137 – 51.6 Bq/kg
Cesium 134 – 16.5 Bq/kg
Strontium 90 – 1.92 Bq/kg

March 4, 2017 Posted by | Fukushima 2017 | , , , | Leave a comment

Fukushima 6 Years After: No Return to Normal

 

The Japanese government is set to lift evacuation orders in heavily contaminated areas around Fukushima. It will cut compensation and housing support to survivors, who are still struggling six years later.

Their basic rights to health, housing, and environment are being violated. The government is desperately trying to minimize the disaster at the expense of survivors in an attempt to revive the dying nuclear industry and suffocate other cleaner energy sources. We must say no!

Greenpeace has just published report on the Fukushima disaster entitled “No return to normal”. They made a study of the potential doses of the inhabitants who would return to the evacuated areas, with a focus on Iitate-mura. http://www.greenpeace.org/japan/Global/japan/pdf/NRN_FINweb4.pdf

The report is based on many on-site measurements and makes lifetime dose assessments. It should be noted that the samples were taken by the citizen laboratory Chikurin, founded with the support of the ACRO. http://chikurin.org/

The authorities planned to lift the evacuation order at the end of March in Iitaté-mura, except in areas classified as difficult return zones, as well as in the Yamakiya district of Kawamata. Compensation will stop within one year. This concerns more than 6,000 people in Iitate who are facing a dilemma, as in all the other contaminated territories.

Greenpeace recalls that decontamination concerns only areas close to dwellings and cultivated fields and that forest covers 75% of this mountainous area. Even in areas where decontamination work has been carried out, the doses remain high. Greenpeace carried out measurements of soil contamination and dose in 7 dwellings to estimate the exposure for people who would return. This varies between 39 and 183 mSv over 70 years from March 2017. This may exceed the limit of 1 mSv / year which is the dose limit in normal time and the total dose of 100 mSv from which the Japanese authorities admit that there is an increased risk of cancer. The doses taken at the beginning of the disaster are not taken into account in this calculation.

In its calculations, the government estimates that the dose rate is reduced by 60% in homes due to the screening effect of the walls. But the measurements made by Greenpeace in a house show that the reduction in exposure is not as strong.

Source: http://fukushima.eu.org/fukushima-6-ans-apres-rapport-de-greenpeace/

Translation Hervé Courtois

February 22, 2017 Posted by | Fukushima 2017 | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

‘The cancer rates have surged enormously due to high levels of radiation’

 

By Christopher Busby

The US Nuclear Regulatory Commission has killed a study aimed at finding out whether nuclear reactors pose cancer risks to nearby residents. According to the Los Angeles Daily News, the decision was made due to the high cost of the probe and doubts that it would prove effective. The project in question, which is worth eight million dollars, would have examined seven nuclear facilities all across the country. The new investigation was supposed to have reassured Americans that it was not dangerous healthwise to reside near a nuclear power plant. A similar study, coming to the same conclusion, was last conducted almost 30 years ago. Several recent European tests revealed rather disturbing links between cancer and minors living close to nuclear facilities. Radio Sputnik discussed the issue with Christopher Busby, British scientist known for his theories about the negative health effects of very low-dose ionising radiation. Mr. Busby is a director of Green Audit Limited and scientific advisor to the Low Level Radiation Campaign.

https://soundcloud.com/radiosputnik/the-cancer-rates-have-surged-enormously-due-to-high-levels-of-radiation-christopher-busby

February 9, 2017 Posted by | radiation | , , | Leave a comment

‘Fukushima catastrophe ongoing: Leakage on a daily basis’

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There are many shoes still to drop at Fukushima Daiichi, said Kevin Kamps, radioactive waste monitor at Beyond Nuclear. If something goes wrong with the radioactive waste storage pools, there could be a release of high-level radioactivity into the air, he added.

Radiation at Fukushima’s nuclear power plant is at its highest level since the tsunami-triggered meltdown nearly six years ago. Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO)  is reporting atmospheric readings inside Daiichi’s reactor No.2 are as high as 530 sieverts an hour, while a human exposed to a single dose of 10 sieverts would die in a couple of weeks.

RT: Can you explain what is likely going on here?

Kevin Kamps: This catastrophe that is ongoing is nearly six years old at this point. The fuel, the melted cores have been missing an action. TEPCO doesn’t know where they are; the Japanese government doesn’t know where they are; nobody knows where they are. What could have happened is these probes, these cameras, these robots, these radiation monitors that are being sent in by TEPCO to try to figure out what is going on, may have encountered the closest they have come yet to these melted cores. They may even have come upon melted fuel that is not under water, and water serves as a radiation shielding. So if this is an open area and there is no water – that could explain.

But what you’ve got are melted reactor cores. Of course, human beings can’t be in operating atomic reactors. They also can’t be in this area where there is a meltdown. There is also imagery – it looks like a melt through of a metal grade. It all stands to reason that the cores melted through the reactor pressure vessels and down into the containment structures right through that metal grating.

It is not unexpected, but we still don’t know where the cores are. There are claims that “it’s all contained, don’t worry about it.” It is indisputable that there is a daily flow of radioactively contaminated groundwater into the ocean. The figures something like 80,000 gallons per day of relatively low-level radioactive waste water. Then you’ve got those storage tanks – we’re talking 800,000 tons of highly radioactive water stored in tanks. Every day they pour a hundred tons of water on each of these three melted down cores. Sometimes they lose those tanks. They leak, they overflow – it is an ongoing catastrophe. 

RT: So the contamination, in this case, could leak out, couldn’t it?

KK: There is some leakage on a daily basis. Then they try to capture as much as they can and contain it in the storage tanks, which they sometimes lose, whether during a typhoon or through human error – they have had overflows. So many shoes can still drop at Fukushima Daiichi. One of the ones is the high radioactive waste storage pools that aren’t even inside radiological containment. They don’t have all of that spent nuclear fuel transferred to a safer location in a couple of the units still. If something were to go wrong with that – those would be open air releases of very high-level radioactivity.

The prime minister at the time the catastrophe began, [Naoto] Kan, had a contingency plan to evacuate all of North-East Japan – up to 50 million people. It was predominantly because of those storage pools. We’re still in that predicament- if one of those pools were to go up in flames. As Tokyo plans to host the 2020 Olympics and bring in many millions of extra people into this already densely populated area -it is not a good idea.

RT: Going back to this specific leak: how does this complicate the cleanup efforts there? Is it possible even to get something in there right now to examine what is going on?

KK: State of the art robotic technology – Japan is a leader in robotics – can only last so long, because the electronics get fried by the gamma radiation, and probably neutron radiation that is in there. That is the situation deep in there. They are already saying it will take 40 years to so-called decommission this, but that may be optimistic.

RT: Also in December the government said it is going to take twice as much money – nearly twice as much as they originally thought – to decommission that. Does this make matters ever worse – this leak? Or is this just kind of the situation to expect at this point?

KK: It just shows how dire the situation is. The figures of $150 billion to decommission – I have seen figures from a think tank in Japan sided by Green Peace Japan up to $600 billion. If you do full cost accounting: where is this high-level radioactive waste going to go? It is going to need a deep geological depository. You have to build that and operate it. That costs a hundred billion or more. So when you do full cost accounting, this catastrophe could cost hundreds of billions of dollars to recover from. We’re just in the beginning.

https://www.rt.com/op-edge/376607-leakage-radiation-fukushima-japan/

February 8, 2017 Posted by | Fukushima 2017 | , , , | Leave a comment

Up to 4.20µSv near the Fukushima Tetsuzan water dam

 

This short article is dedicated to a pro-nuke troll, whose alias is Octo.

Octo, should I indulge the reader, is usually present at the chat of the “Fukushima Diary” blog. He enjoys pushing his propaganda of how nuke is safe.

How Tepco is doing a terrific job at Fukushima Daiichi and is in total safety control of everything.

How radiation is now very low in Fukushima How the fish and seafood is now safe etc.

Everyone is believing his crap *cough*, but he, like all of the other bewildered, confused and baffled Japanese *experts? never gives up.

Watching this video, I am thinking about him and his continuous lies, and also all those other Japanese pro-nuke trolls that I encountered on internet in the past few years.

This video was shot last November 2016 South of Soma, it is the mountain trail to reach the Tetsuzan dam, a place approximately 20km from the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant.

 

nov-2016-tetsuzan-water-dam

 

I think all those disinformation spinners paid by Tepco, Dentsu or Government, whose job is to spread lies about the Fukushima disaster on blogs, forums and Facebook, should all go living up there, as they claim it is now completely safe.

They should breath the good air from Fukushima, eat everyday very safe Fukushima rice and vegetables, and of course eat also plenty of safe fish and seafood, and drink plenty Fukushima safe water.

I would give them only one word of advice :

“Don’t forget to smile,

Smile a lot everywhere and everyday, so that the radiation won’t affect you.”

 

Special credit to the Fukuichi Citizen Radiation Monitoring Project

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

Radiation level at Fukushima reactor highest since 2011 disaster; grating hole found

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TOKYO (Kyodo) — The radiation level inside the containment vessel of the No. 2 reactor at the crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear complex stood at 530 sieverts per hour at a maximum, the highest since the 2011 disaster, the plant operator said Thursday.

Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings Inc. also announced that based on image analysis, a hole measuring 2 meters in diameter has been found on a metal grating beneath the pressure vessel inside the containment vessel and a portion of the grating was distorted.

 

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According to TEPCO, the extremely high radiation level was found near the entrance area in the space just below the pressure vessel. The previously highest radiation level monitored in the interior of the reactor was 73 sieverts per hour.

The hole could have been caused by nuclear fuel that penetrated the reactor vessel as it overheated and melted due to the loss of reactor cooling functions in the days after a powerful earthquake and tsunami on March 11, 2011 hit northeastern Japan.

According to the image analysis, about 1 square meter of the grating was missing.

The plant operator plans to deploy a robot at the bottom of the reactor containment vessel, which houses the reactor pressure vessel, to check the conditions there.

The analysis follows TEPCO’s discovery Monday of a black mass deposited on the grating directly beneath the pressure vessel, possibly melted fuel after the unit suffered a meltdown along with two other Fukushima Daiichi reactors.

Images captured using a camera attached to a telescopic arm on Monday also showed part of the grating has gone. A further analysis of the images found a 2-meter hole in an area beyond the missing section on the structure.

If the deposits are confirmed as fuel debris, it would be the first time the utility has found any at the three units that suffered meltdowns.

Following one of the world’s worst nuclear disasters since the 1986 Chernobyl catastrophe, the No. 1 to 3 reactors suffered fuel meltdowns.

Portions of the fuel in the reactors are believed to have melted through the pressure vessels and accumulated at the bottom of the containment vessels.

The actual condition of the melted fuel has remained unknown due to high radiation levels.

http://mainichi.jp/english/articles/20170202/p2g/00m/0dm/087000c

http://mainichi.jp/articles/20170203/k00/00m/040/079000c

 

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February 2, 2017 Posted by | Fukushima 2017 | , , , | Leave a comment