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Fukushima farm products still dealing with negative image

Toshio Watanabe, seen here in Nihonmatsu, Fukushima Prefecture, on March 8, grows rice on an approximately 20-hectare farm.

April 24, 2022

NIHONMATSU, Fukushima Prefecture–Rice farmer Toshio Watanabe felt strongly embarrassed when he saw the estimate for the selling price of rice to be harvested in 2022.

Farm products of Fukushima Prefecture faced consumer pullback and canceled orders following the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant disaster of 2011.

“People drive a hard bargain against rice from Fukushima Prefecture, which they buy only at lower prices than products of other prefectures, even for the same quality and taste,” said Watanabe, who farms in Nihonmatsu, Fukushima Prefecture.

“We could have put up a good fight if only it had not been for the nuclear disaster. As things stand now, however, we have ended up as the sole loser.”

More than 11 years on, farmers like Watanabe and the public sector in this northeastern prefecture still continue to struggle with lingering reverberations of the effects of negative publicity due to radiation fears.

FUKUSHIMA RICE THE ‘SOLE LOSER’

A document distributed by a local farming association in late February said this year’s rice crop is likely to sell at only 9,500 yen ($77) per 60 kilograms, falling below the 10,000-yen mark for the second straight year.

A rice farmer risks posting a deficit when the take-home selling price is less than 10,000 yen per 60 kg, considering the current production cost of nearly 9,000 yen per 60 kg.

Farmers will likely have to endure difficulties this year like they did in 2021, when rice prices dropped sharply due to a general oversupply and weak demand in the restaurant industry.

Rice harvested in Fukushima Prefecture disappeared from many supermarket shelves following the nuclear disaster, as consumers avoided Fukushima labels due to radiation fears.

More than 11 years on, rice grown in the prefecture has seen its market ratings always stuck in the lower reaches, with trading prices hovering below the national average.

Rice of the Koshihikari variety from the Nakadori (central strip) area of Fukushima Prefecture, which contains Nihonmatsu, was being traded at 11,047 yen per 60 kg, down 17 percent year on year, according to a preliminary report on the “direct trading prices” of rice harvested in 2021, which the farm ministry released in February.

The average price of all brands from all areas of Japan stood at 12,944 yen per 60 kg, down only 11 percent from the previous year. That means the gap has only spread.

CONSUMERS SHOWING MORE UNDERSTANDING

Apart from rice, peaches, grapes and other farm products, which face harsh competition from rivals grown in other prefectures, have also seen, over the past several years, their market trading prices remain stuck nearly 10 percent below the national average.

“Dealers from other prefectures sometimes decline to take products of Fukushima Prefecture when there is too much of products from a good harvest,” said the president of a wholesaler based in the prefectural capital of Fukushima that has dealt in fruits and vegetables from the prefecture for more than 50 years.

“Negative publicity effects remain deep-rooted overseas,” said Koji Furuyama, a 46-year-old farmer who grows peaches and apples in the prefectural capital.

Furuyama has aggressively been venturing into overseas markets. In 2017, for example, he exported peaches to a department store in Thailand.

Following the nuclear disaster, however, food products from Fukushima Prefecture came under embargoes and other import restrictions by 55 nations and regions of the world, 14 of which continue to impose restrictions of some kind or another. 

The central government and Tokyo Electric Power Co., operator of the crippled Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant, have decided to release treated contaminated water from the plant into the ocean.

The water release, which will start as early as spring next year, could cause additional negative publicity effects, Furuyama said.

By comparison, effects of the negative public image are seldom perceptible these days in food items for which product differentiation is feasible, such as by supplying the items in large amounts when there are few shipments of rival products from other prefectures.

Figures of the Tokyo Metropolitan Central Wholesale Market show that vegetables from Fukushima Prefecture, such as tomatoes and cucumbers, have been priced above the national average over the past several years.

Consumers are coming to show more understanding toward the prefecture’s food products.

In a survey conducted by the Consumer Affairs Agency in February 2022, only 6.5 percent of the respondents said they hesitate to buy food products from Fukushima Prefecture for fear of radiation. The percentage is the lowest ever and is below the 10-percent mark for the second straight year.

SALES PROMOTION CAMPAIGN ALONE ‘NOT ENOUGH’

The government of Fukushima Prefecture has so far allocated large chunks of post-disaster rebuilding budgets for campaigns against negative publicity and for sales promotion.

A centerpiece of the latest years, among other things, is a program for promoting sales on major online marketplaces operated by Amazon.com Inc., Rakuten Group Inc. and Yahoo Japan Corp. Dentsu East Japan Inc., an ad agency, has been commissioned to operate the project.

In fiscal 2020, the program earned proceeds of about 3.4 billion yen, a record since the project started in fiscal 2017, although more than 500 million yen was spent on subsidizing the initial costs for sellers on the marketplaces and issuing discount coupons worth 10 to 30 percent.

In fiscal 2021, the prefectural government project earned sales of more than 2.6 billion yen on a consignment budget of only 360 million yen.

That is not bad in terms of cost-effectiveness. However, that is tempered by the fact that marketing efforts that rely on coupons do not necessarily help empower the production areas, and no information is provided to sellers that would allow them to analyze what kind of customers purchased which products.

“This program is premised on the availability of the post-disaster rebuilding budgets,” said an official in charge of the project. “It is certainly not sustainable.”

“Fukushima Prefecture’s products stuck in low price ranges would need to venture into new markets other than the existing ones, but such a venture can seldom be achieved through public relation efforts of the public sector and an ad agency alone,” said Ryota Koyama, a professor of agricultural economics with Fukushima University.

He added: “More money should be spent on production areas to support efforts for improving breeds and the equipment.”

https://www.asahi.com/ajw/articles/14592481

May 1, 2022 Posted by | Fuk 2022 | , , | Leave a comment

Fukushima farmers’ efforts serve to undo TEPCO’s damage

Mobilization of Fukushima farmers. Credit: Fukushima Farmers Federation

April 19, 2022
About Fukushima farmers’ compensation, here is the Tweet thread posted by Mako Oshidori (see note at bottom) translated by us :

“The financial compensation given to farmers after the nuclear accident is designed so that the difference between sales before and after the accident is paid to them as compensation for ‘image damage.

Farmers are developing their own varieties, developing their own sales networks, and conducting experiments to limit the transfer of cesium from the soil to the vegetables.
As a result of all these efforts, when sales returned to pre-accident levels, the compensation became zero.
“Thus, our efforts serve to cancel the damage caused by TEPCO!”

2) Cesium in the soil is still present, so “this is not just an image problem, but real damage.”
Members of the Fukushima Farmers Federation continue to renew their demands for “radiation protection policy for farmers.”

It is TEPCO that benefits from the effects of the slogan “Eating Fukushima products for solidarity” which leads to reducing the amount of compensation received by farmers.
Moreover, if a farmer does not continue to operate in Fukushima, there will be no compensation.

3) Farmers in Fukushima have been trying to find a way to prevent the transfer of cesium from the soil to the crops.
In the years immediately following the accident, vegetables from neighboring counties have been found to have higher levels of cesium than those from Fukushima.

There are still agricultural lands with surface contamination above the standard of the radiation control zone defined by the Ordinance on the Prevention of Radiation Risks.
Negotiations for the establishment of the radiation protection policy for farmers are continuing this year.


Note:
The couple Mako and Ken OSHIDORI are known in Japan as manzaishi (comedy duo in the style of folk storytellers). As soon as the Fukushima nuclear accident began in March 2011, Mako decided to attend TEPCO press conferences in order to access information that was dramatically missing from the media. With the help of Ken, her husband and work partner, she became a freelance journalist, one of the most knowledgeable on the Fukushima issue, and feared as such by TEPCO.
https://nosvoisinslointains311.home.blog/2022/04/19/les-efforts-des-agriculteurs-servent-a-annuler-les-actes-prejudiciables-de-tepco/?fbclid=IwAR1Q9OkhLPO07bp6RxeTxwqHZ-U5HO4Wwaj_igq-aK7dunkrkKvx9J_jy1Y

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

46% of school lunches use ingredients from Fukushima Prefecture, the highest rate since 2010

February 10, 2022

The percentage of prefectural food ingredients used in school lunches in Fukushima Prefecture this year was 46.0% (up 1.8 points from the previous year), the highest since 2010, before the Great East Japan Earthquake. The prefecture’s Board of Education has been supporting the prefecture’s dietary education. The prefectural board of education attributes the increase to efforts to increase opportunities to use the prefecture’s food, including the provision of the “Fukushima Health Support Menu” designed by a company that supports dietary education. The prefectural board of education announced the results on September 9.

 The graph below shows the rate of utilization. In fiscal 2012, the year following the earthquake and the nuclear accident, the percentage dropped to 18.3% due to concerns about radioactive materials, but it has been on a recovery trend since then.

 The utilization rate by region is as shown in the table below. The utilization rate by region is as shown in [Table]. Minamiaizu has the highest rate at 59.1%, which is due to the direct provision of foodstuffs in cooperation with farmers. The prefectural board of education hopes to expand the good practice to the entire prefecture.

 In terms of food items, beans were the most popular at 66.5%, due to the fact that they can be easily incorporated into side dishes and soups as tofu and natto. Rice and other grains accounted for 63.9%, followed by fruits at 54.2%.

 The survey was conducted at a total of 280 facilities, including public schools, municipal community kitchens, and prefectural schools that provide complete school lunches, and looked at the percentage of prefectural food ingredients in the food items used in a daily school lunch over a total of 10 days from June 14 to 18 and November 15 to 19 last year.
https://www.minyu-net.com/news/news/FM20220210-684498.php?fbclid=IwAR0j3BiDuSmR21dggtT97x9ziE_zoUoKK9kpEQFRhqyNOEFpQrZUCA_5BY0

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

Fukushima’s forestry industry still haunted by nuclear meltdown

Yoshihisa Kanagawa, a senior member of the Higashishirakawa forestry cooperative in Fukushima Prefecture, visits a forest in the area.

Feb 21, 2022

Almost 11 years since the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant meltdown, the forestry industry in Fukushima Prefecture is still suffering serious difficulties, with mountains and forests once contaminated by radioactive fallout left untouched.

In addition to declining demand for lumber, lingering worries over the effect of the radiation from the plant hit by the March 2011 quake and tsunami have seen the local forestry industry face acute labor shortages.

Yoshihisa Kanagawa, 65, of the forestry cooperative in the county of Higashishirakawa, still remembers a comment made by a local resident a few years ago.

“Don’t drop anything with radiation,” the resident told him, pointing to bark that had fallen to the ground from a truck loaded with logs Kanagawa was transporting from nearby mountains.

Kanagawa said he felt the deep-rooted mistrust among residents about the effect of the nuclear disaster. “(I was shocked to know) some people were still thinking that way,” he recalled.

Airborne radiation levels in the prefecture’s forests rose immediately after the nuclear disaster at the Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings Inc. plant but have declined over time. The average radiation level at 362 sites in the prefecture was 0.18 microsieverts per hour in the year beginning April 2020, down by 80% from the level in the year through March 2012, according to a prefectural survey.

Under the prefecture’s standards, trees can be felled and transported from a forest if the radiation level in the air at the felling site is at 0.50 microsieverts or less per hour.

The bark that fell from Kanagawa’s truck was from logs in forests with radiation levels within prefectural limits.

There was a time when reducing the exposure of forestry workers to radiation was cited as an issue in the local forestry industry.

“Although few people talk about it, some people are (still) concerned about (any potential health effect of) the radiation,” he said. “It would be a shame if this has had something to do with the drop in forestry workers.”

Manahata Ringyo, a forestry firm based in the town of Hanawa, mainly deals with state-owned forests in the area. The town was the biggest lumber producer in the prefecture in 2018.

While more than 90% of the company’s sales are to businesses in the prefecture, the company attaches the results of radiation tests on waste from the logs when dealing with customers outside of the prefecture, as such tests are requested by some of them.

The practice continues even now, after almost 11 years.

The reasons behind the labor shortage in the forestry industry are said to be the hard nature of the work and a decline in demand for lumber.

Masato Kikuchi, 61, president of Manahata Ringyo, believes that the nuclear accident may have exacerbated the situation. “I want (the central government) to do more to secure human resources for the forestry industry in Fukushima Prefecture,” he said.

The number of people newly employed in the forestry industry in the prefecture has decreased by two-thirds in the 10 years since the Fukushima No. 1 disaster. The number of new workers was 242 in 2010, but it began to decline in 2011 and dropped to 78 in 2020, or only 32.2% of the number a decade earlier.

Alarmed by the situation, the prefecture will open a new training facility inside the prefecture’s Forestry Research Center in Koriyama in April to train people in field work and forest management.

The training facility, Forestry Academy Fukushima, will offer a long-term training course of one year for high school graduates who wish to work in the forestry industry and short-term training for municipal employees and forestry workers.

In the one-year program, trainees will cover forestry-related knowledge and skills, as well as acquire practical skills at a training field in a mountain forest. The facility will be equipped with a simulation room for forestry machines, in addition to classrooms and a building for practical training.

Fifteen applicants who have been accepted into the program will begin their one-year training in April.

At the end of the training period, the prefecture will encourage the trainees to find employment at forestry cooperatives and other forestry-related businesses in Fukushima.

“We will try to develop human resources who will be engaged in the forestry industry over the long term,” an official from the forestry promotion division of the prefecture said.

https://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2022/02/21/national/fukushima-forestry-meltdown-difficulties/

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

TEPCO sprays rainwater before confirming its safety, calls for prevention of recurrence METI Minister Hagiuda

December 7, 2021

Over the decommissioning of the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant, Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO) announced on December 29th that it sprayed rainwater that had accumulated in tanks at the plant before confirming the safety of the water. Minister of Economy, Trade and Industry Hagiuda said at a press conference after the cabinet meeting on November 7, “This kind of mistake must not happen,” and demanded that the company take measures to prevent a recurrence.

On November 29, Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO) announced that it had confirmed that workers had sprayed rainwater from tanks on the premises of the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant without analyzing the water for radioactive materials, which should have been done to ensure safety.

The All Japan Federation of Fishermen’s Cooperative Associations (Zenryoren) has protested the incident, calling it “extremely regrettable.

However, TEPCO needs to gain the understanding and trust of fishermen and other concerned parties in order to decommission the plant, and this kind of mistake should not happen.

In addition, he urged TEPCO to conduct a thorough investigation of the cause of the accident and take drastic measures to prevent recurrence.

On the other hand, regarding the IAEA’s decision to postpone until next month or later the dispatch of a survey team to verify the safety of discharging the increasing amount of treated water from the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant into the sea, he said, “I don’t think this will have an immediate impact on the schedule for future releases, but we will steadily work on what we can do.
https://www3.nhk.or.jp/news/html/20211207/k10013378081000.html?fbclid=IwAR2yjKbI35BHqOXsYB4oPRT7MDtOWJbqJqQX-kt3BgMYfAQxXx8AQ4VfETI

December 7, 2021 Posted by | Fukushima 2021 | , , | Leave a comment

Lake Close to Fukushima Nuclear Disaster Could Stay Radioactive For Another 20 Years

The cleanup from the Fukushima nuclear accident in 2011 would cost hundreds of billions of dollars, but the environmental cost might be far greater, according to a research, with neighboring lakes polluted for another 20 years.

Nov 06, 2021

Lake Onuma’s Radioactivity Concentration

Lake Onuma on Mount Akagi might be polluted with radioactive cesium-137 (137CS) for up to 30 years after the unfortunate incident, according to a group of researchers led by those from the University of Tsukuba.

The fractional diffusional approach was utilized by the researchers to establish that radioactive concentration would occur for up to 10,000 days after the event.

The radiation concentration dropped very fast after the nuclear disaster, but the decline slowed dramatically in the months and years that followed.

Since Lake Onuma is a closed lake, it receives just a little quantity of inflow and runoff water. Professor Yuko Hatano, one of the study’s co-authors, said in a statement that previous research had utilized the two-component decay function model, which is the sum of two exponential functions, to match the detected 137Cs radioactive concentration.

Health Issues Caused by Exposure to Radioactive Isotope 

Cesium-137 has a half-life of roughly 30 years, according to the Environmental Protection Agency. Exposure to the radioactive isotope may result in burns, radiation illness, and death, as well as boosting cancer risk.

The specialists utilized a fractional diffusion model to forecast the 137Cs content in both the lake water and the pond smelt, a common species of fish that dwells in the lake, over the long term.

The quantity of 137Cs in lake water and pond smelt was tested for 5.4 years after the event, according to the researchers. Experts anticipate that radioactive concentration will occur for up to 10,000 days after the catastrophe, based on the formula.

Researchers will be able to better comprehend the radioactive contamination of surrounding lakes that have been closed, as well as provide citizens a clearer sense of living conditions around the lakes, thanks to the formula.

Effects of Radioactive Contamination on the Ecosystem

A different set of researchers discovered last month that species in the region, particularly wild boar and rat snakes, are flourishing and have seen no substantial health consequences.

This is most likely due to the fact that cesium-134, one of the principal radioactive elements released during the accident, saw its levels in the region drop by about 90%, owing to its short half-life of just over two years.

Another study published in January 2020 revealed that more than 20 species, involving wild boar, macaques, and a raccoon dog, were flourishing in the ‘exclusion zone’ surrounding the Fukushima Daichii nuclear plant, which had been shut down.

Researchers found in July that the accident had resulted in a boar-pig hybrid, since both species in the vicinity had mated. The Fukushima tragedy ravaged Japan, irreversibly shifting huge portions of Honshu, the country’s main island, many feet to the east.

It triggered 130-foot-high tsunami waves that destroyed 450,000 people’s houses and melted six nuclear reactors at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant. Thousands of people were forced to abandon their houses as a constant stream of deadly, radioactive pollutants were released into the atmosphere.

https://www.natureworldnews.com/articles/48121/20211106/scientists-lake-close-to-the-2011-fukushima-nuclear-accident-could-possibly-stay-radioactive-for-another-20-years.htm

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

RADIATION lies – theme for OCTOBER 2021

As the world prepares for the Glasgow  Climate Summit , the nuclear lobby aims to get its status approved there as clean, green and the solution to climate change.

New nuclear reactors do NOT solve the radioactive trash problem, despite the nuclear lobby’s pretense on this.

banana-spinThe nuclear lobby is intensifying its lies about ionising radiation, with the cruel lie that it is harmless, even beneficial. The nuclear liars claim that radioactive isotopes like Cesium 137 and Strontium 90 are the same as the harmless Potassium 40 in bananas. They espouse the quack science of “radiation homesis”  – i.e. a little more ionising radiation is good for you.

Ionising radiation is the most proven cause of cancer. The nuclear industry from uranium mining through nuclear power, nuclear weapons, nuclear waste, is the planet’s recent new source of ionising radiation.  Even medical radiation has its cancer risk. Radioactive minerals left in the ground are a minor source.

radiation-causing-cancer

September 25, 2021 Posted by | Christina's themes | , , , , , , | 5 Comments

Lethal radiation levels detected in Fukushima nuke plant reactor lid

A remotely controlled robot inserts a dosimeter into a hole created to measure radiation levels beneath the uppermost lid of the No. 2 reactor’s containment vessel in a study on Sept. 9.

The operator of the crippled Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant could be forced to reconsider the plant’s decommissioning process after lethal radiation levels equivalent to those of melted nuclear fuel were detected near one of the lids covering a reactor.

The Nuclear Regulation Authority said Sept. 14 that a radiation reading near the surface of the lid of the No. 2 reactor’s containment vessel was 1.2 sieverts per hour, higher than the level previously assumed.

The discovery came on Sept. 9 during a study by the NRA and Tokyo Electric Power Co., the operator of the plant.

TEPCO plans to insert a robotic arm into the No. 2 reactor’s containment vessel from its side in a trial planned for the second half of 2022 to retrieve pieces of melted nuclear fuel.

“We will consider what we can do during the trial on the basis of the detection of the concentration of contamination” in the upper area of the containment vessel, a TEPCO official said.

The round concrete lid, called the shield plug, is 12 meters in diameter and about 60 centimeters thick.

The shield plug consists of three lids placed on top of each other to block extremely high radiation emanating from the reactor core.

Each lid weighs 150 tons.

When operators work on the decommissioning, the shield plug will be removed to allow for the entry into the containment vessel.

The NRA said a huge amount of radioactive cesium that was released during the meltdown of the No. 2 reactor in March 2011 remained between the uppermost lid and middle lid.

In the Sept. 9 study, workers bored two holes measuring 7 cm deep each on the surface of the uppermost lid to measure radiation doses there by deploying remotely controlled robots.

One radiation reading was 1.2 sieverts per hour at a location 4 cm down from the surface in a hole near the center of the lid.

https://www.asahi.com/ajw/articles/14440765?fbclid=IwAR0SKOn-ldGGMqEO0fWHwtrby197XOJRM-zE6xdqqwgUqBratw5g23Kv6k0

September 15, 2021 Posted by | Fukushima 2021 | , , | Leave a comment

Fish contaminated with radiation caught off northeastern Fukushima Prefecture

This 2007 file photo shows black rockfish.

February 24, 2021

FUKUSHIMA — Radioactive cesium five times above permitted levels in Japan has been detected in black rockfish caught in northeastern Fukushima Prefecture, according to a Feb. 22 announcement by a local fishing association.

Some 500 becquerels per kilogram of cesium was found in black rockfish caught at a depth of 24 meters about 8.8 kilometers off the town of Shinchi, exceeding the national standard level of 100 becquerels per kilogram.

The Fukushima Prefectural Federation of Fisheries Co-operative Associations has since halted distribution of the fish until it can confirm their safety. The voluntary suspension of seafood shipments by the fishing body marks the first time since October 2019, when 53 becquerels per kilogram of radioactive cesium was detected in a white sea perch, exceeding the standard level set by the group at 50 becquerels per kilogram.

The fishing association has been conducting test fishing since June 2012 on a limited scale. After shipping restrictions on common skate were lifted in February 2020, shipment of all fish was permitted. The fishing body aims to resume full fishing operations in April. https://mainichi.jp/english/articles/20210224/p2a/00m/0na/014000c

February 25, 2021 Posted by | Fukushima 2021 | , , | Leave a comment

Radioactive Materials in Black Rockfish Off Fukushima Coast: Shipment Suspended

February 22, 2021, 7:09 pm

The Fukushima Prefectural Federation of Fishermen’s Associations (FISHMA) has suspended shipments of a fish called “Kurosoy” that was landed on February 22 in an experimental fishery off the coast of Fukushima Prefecture. This is the first time in about two years that radioactive materials exceeding the standard have been detected in the fishery off the coast of Fukushima Prefecture, and in February of last year, the shipping restrictions were lifted for all fish species.

According to the Fukushima Prefectural Federation of Fishermen’s Associations, on the 22nd, radioactive materials were detected in a fish called “Kurosoy,” which was caught in a fishing ground 8.8 kilometers off the coast of Shinchi Town at a depth of 24 meters.

As a result of detailed measurements at a prefectural laboratory, the concentration of radioactive cesium was 500 becquerels per kilogram, exceeding the national food standard of 100 becquerels per kilogram.

The prefectural fishermen’s federation has also decided to suspend the shipment of black rockfish until the safety of the fish is confirmed, as it exceeded the voluntary standard of 50 becquerels per kilogram set by the federation.

The national government’s nuclear emergency response headquarters is expected to order restrictions on the shipment of black rockfish.

The amount of blue rockfish landed in the past year was 3 tons, which is less than 1% of the total landings of the experimental fishery being conducted off the coast of Fukushima Prefecture.

This is the first time that radioactive materials exceeding the national standard have been detected since February of two years ago in the common kasube, a species of ray-finned fish, and in February of last year, the shipping restrictions were lifted for all fish species off the coast of Fukushima Prefecture.

Prefectural Fisheries and Oceanic Research Center: “There is a possibility of fish entering and leaving the nuclear power plant port

According to the Fukushima Prefectural Fisheries and Oceanic Research Center, which has been continuously measuring the concentration of radioactive materials in fish and shellfish off the coast of Fukushima Prefecture, the detected levels have dropped significantly compared to immediately after the nuclear accident.

According to the Fukushima Prefectural Fisheries and Oceanic Research Center, which has been continuously measuring the levels of radioactive materials, the levels detected have decreased significantly compared to the levels immediately after the nuclear accident.

We also examined 50 samples of black carp, and all of them were below the detection limit.

On the other hand, the Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO) once detected a radioactive substance of about 900 becquerels per kilogram in a sample of black rockfish taken for investigation in the harbor of the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant.

Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO) has installed nets at the entrance and exit of the harbor to prevent fish from entering and leaving the harbor, but the prefectural Fisheries and Oceanic Research Center is investigating the possibility that the black rockfish got out for some reason, and is investigating the cause of the detection of radioactive materials exceeding the standard.

Kyoichi Kamiyama, director of the Radioactivity Research Department at the Fukushima Prefectural Fisheries and Oceanic Research Center, said, “Considering the low concentration of radioactive materials in the seawater and seabed off Shinchi Town, we really don’t know why such high levels of radioactive cesium were detected. We would like to investigate the cause, taking into consideration the possibility that fish are coming in and out of the harbor of the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant.https://www3.nhk.or.jp/news/html/20210222/k10012880681000.html?fbclid=IwAR3fsx6QfmBWHfSgpjkrUvc_gDf6q0qUWBf50YGXkWR0KLgwWAM_1GdBwBI

February 25, 2021 Posted by | Fukushima 2021 | , , | Leave a comment

Dynamics of radiocesium in forests after the Fukushima disaster: Concerns and some hope

Dynamics of radiocesium in forests after the Fukushima disaster: Concerns and some hope

80% of the Fukushima prefecture are mountain forests.

February 3, 2021

Considering the massive threat posed by 137Cs to the health of both humans and ecosystems, it is essential to understand how it has distributed and how much of it still lingers.

w/reminder: there’s no such thing as ‘radioactive decontamination’ the correct term would be ‘trans-contamination’

Scientists compile available data and analyses on the flow of radionuclides to gain a more holistic understanding

Forestry and Forest Products Research Institute

After the Chernobyl disaster of 1986, the 2011 Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant (FDNPP) disaster was the second worst nuclear incident in history. Its consequences were tremendous for the Japanese people and now, almost a decade later, they can still be felt both there and in the rest of the world. One of the main consequences of the event is the release of large amounts of cesium-137 (137Cs)–a radioactive “isotope” of cesium–into the atmosphere, which spread farther away from the power plant through wind and rainfall.

Considering the massive threat posed by 137Cs to the health of both humans and ecosystems, it is essential to understand how it has distributed and how much of it still lingers. This is why the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) has recently published a technical document on this specific issue. The fifth chapter of this “Technical Document (TECDOC),” titled “Forest ecosystems,” contains an extensive review and analysis of existing data on 137Cs levels in Fukushima prefecture’s forests following the FDNPP disaster.

The chapter is based on an extensive study led by Assoc. Prof. Shoji Hashimoto from the Forestry and Forestry Products Research Institute, Japan, alongside Dr. Hiroaki Kato from the University of Tsukuba, Japan, Kazuya Nishina from the National Institute of Environmental Studies, Japan, Keiko Tagami from the National Institutes for Quantum and Radiological Science and Technology, Japan, George Shaw from the University of Nottingham, UK, and Yves Thiry from the National Agency for Radioactive Waste Management (ANDRA), France, and several other experts in Japan and Europe.

The main objective of the researchers was to gain a better understanding of the dynamics of 137Cs flow in forests. The process is far from straightforward, as there are multiple elements and variables to consider. First, a portion of 137Cs-containing rainfall is intercepted by trees, some of which is absorbed, and the rest eventually washes down onto the forest floor. There, a fraction of the radiocesium absorbs into forest litter and the remainder flows into the various soil and mineral layers below. Finally, trees, other plants, and mushrooms incorporate 137Cs through their roots and mycelia, respectively, ultimately making it both into edible products harvested from Fukushima and wild animals.

Considering the complexity of 137Cs flux dynamics, a huge number of field surveys and gatherings of varied data had to be conducted, as well as subsequent theoretical and statistical analyses. Fortunately, the response from the government and academia was considerably faster and more thorough after the FDNPP disaster than in the Chernobyl disaster, as Hashimoto explains: “After the Chernobyl accidents, studies were very limited due to the scarce information provided by the Soviet Union. In contrast, the timely studies in Fukushima have allowed us to capture the early phases of 137Cs flow dynamics; this allowed us to provide the first wholistic understanding of this process in forests in Fukushima.”

Understanding how long radionuclides like 137Cs can remain in ecosystems and how far they can spread is essential to implement policies to protect people from radiation in Fukushima-sourced food and wood. In addition, the article also explores the effectiveness of using potassium-containing fertilizers to prevent the uptake of 137Cs in plants. “The compilation of data, parameters, and analyses we present in our chapter will be helpful for forest remediation both in Japan and the rest of the world,” remarks Hashimoto.

When preventive measures fail, the only remaining option is trying to fix the damage done–in the case of radiation control, this is only possible with a comprehensive understanding of the interplay of factors involved.

In this manner, this new chapter will hopefully lead to both timely research and more effective solutions should a nuclear disaster happen again.

###

Reference

Title: Environmental Transfer of Radionuclides in Japan following the Accident at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant, Chapter 5 “Forest ecosystems”

Published in: International Atomic Energy Agency, IAEA TECDOC no. 1927

Link (open access): https://www.iaea.org/publications/14751/environmental-transfer-of-radionuclides-in-japan-following-the-accident-at-the-fukushima-daiichi-nuclear-power-plant

About the Forestry and Forest Products Research Institute, Japan

Inaugurated as a unit for forest experiments in Tokyo in 1905, the Forestry and Forest Products Research Institute (FFPRI) was largely reorganized in 1988, when it received its current name. During its history of over 110 years, the FFPRI has been conducting interdisciplinary research on forests, forestry, the timber industry, and tree breeding with an agenda based around sustainable development goals. The FFPRI is currently looking to collaborate with more diverse stakeholders, such as international organizations, government agencies, and industry and academic leaders, to conduct much needed forest-related research and make sure we preserve these renewable resources. Website: https://www.ffpri.affrc.go.jp/ffpri/en/index.html

About Dr. Shoji Hashimoto from the Forestry and Forest Products Research Institute, Japan

Shoji Hashimoto obtained Master’s and PhD degrees from The University of Tokyo, Japan, in 2001 and 2004, respectively. In 2005, he joined the Forestry and Forest Products Research Institute, Japan, where he now works as Senior Researcher. He is also Associate Professor at The University of Tokyo. He has published over 50 papers and is a referee for over 30 scientific journals. His main research interests are soil and forest science, environmental dynamics, and climate change, among others. Hashimoto has also been an organizer for various events, including two Symposiums on Fukushima Forests and the Japan?Finland Joint Seminar, and serves as the coordinator of a radioecology unit in International Union of Forest Research Organizations (IUFRO).

https://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2021-02/fafp-dor020221.php?fbclid=IwAR0naTuQ7-QqY9KtR9zrGX1ZbVyHjyuoTI_gBnXiDGMx2zHMolY48eRjNrM

February 14, 2021 Posted by | Fukushima 2021 | , , | Leave a comment

Fukushima: Detecting Radiation at Japan’s 2021 Olympic Venues

November 2, 2020

Fairewinds ongoing scientific research with Dr. Marco Kaltofen of WPI has been peer-reviewed and accepted for publication in the Journal of Environmental Engineering Science. As soon as the Journal of Environmental Engineering Science has an online preprint link available, Fairewinds will release details and a link to the publication.

Fairewinds ongoing Japan Project in this peer-reviewed journal article included samples from Fairewinds’ 4th Japan Trip in September 2017.  Fairewinds Energy Education sponsored chief engineer Arnie Gundersen and Dr. Kaltofen for two weeks in Japan to meet with community volunteer citizen scientists, who were conducting sampling and submitted that data for scientific review by Fairewinds and Dr. Kaltofen at WPI. During his three previous trips to Japan, Mr. Gundersen taught citizen scientists how to sample dust for radiological analysis. Fairewinds Energy Education and WPI students have been collecting and testing samples from citizen science volunteers and our crews from Olympic & Paralympic venues and host communities in Greater Tokyo & Fukushima Prefecture.

This unique project tracks the divergent releases of beta versus alpha-contamination in Northern Japan and potential radiation exposures to visitors and athletes at the upcoming 2021 Games that Japan’s government has named the Recovery Olympics. 

Fairewinds is incredibly grateful to Leon and Rosa Cloder, our host in Tokyo Dr. H. M. Homma, and Steve Leeper (the Founding Partner & Vice President of the Peace, Education, Art, Communication (PEAC) Institute Nonprofit) for hosting us. Our special thanks to Fairewinds other friends in Japan for their hard work and support that made this project possible. We would not have been able to conduct the scientific work we do without the individual donors and foundations who have consistently donated to support Fairewinds travel expenses to Japan and any associated project costs. Good Science takes patience, time, and money.

With the acceptance of this journal article for publication, Fairewinds Energy Education continues the scientific journal research work it began in 2011. The publication of Radioactively-hot particles detected in dusts and soils from Northern Japan by combination of gamma spectrometry, autoradiography, and SEM/EDS analysis and implications in radiation risk assessment in ‘Science of the Total Environment (STOTEN)’ was co-authored by Dr. Marco Kaltofen, Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI), and Arnie Gundersen, Fairewinds Energy Education. That Journal article detailed the analysis of radioactively hot particles collected in Japan following the Fukushima Dai-ichi meltdowns. [Full Report here]

In his ongoing scientific work, Dr. Marco Kaltofen has also researched and is the author of Microanalysis of Particle-Based Uranium, Thorium, and Plutonium in Nuclear Workers’ House Dust published by Environmental Engineering Science Journal Vol. 36, No. 2, February 4, 2019. This peer-reviewed journal article describes how X-ray techniques can detect exotic dust particles containing radioactive matter, thus allowing any analyst to remotely detect nano- and micro-scale traces of the radioactive fuels unique to specific types of weaponization activity. The method firmly distinguishes between natural uranium work, uranium enrichment, fission weapon development, and even three-stage advanced fusion weapons used for MIRV’d delivery systems. 

https://www.fairewinds.org/demystify/fukushima-detecting-radiation-at-japans-2021-olympic-venues

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

The Fukushima Nuclear Disaster Recovery That Wasn’t

September 11, 2020

Outside of the photo friendly new train stations and town halls, the region has not seen the miracle recovery promised by Tokyo that would prove the disaster was a mere bump in the road.

Areas that were part of the worst of the fallout zone have been reopened, in many cases being used to compel evacuees to return home.

Japan’s nuclear regulator has approved reopening residential areas in the difficult to return zone without prior decontamination work.

The disaster recovery base allows a section of a town to be decontaminated and some basic services built in that location.

While communities try to reopen and recover business activity, the region near the disaster site has been designated as a storage site for contaminated soil bags from all over Japan.

This is done with the assumption that residents will eventually return and need some basic town functions in order to do so.

In order for residents to live there, they will need to wear a dosimeter, have annual exposures below 20 mSv/year and decontamination work may need to take place.

In some towns, common areas were decontaminated down to desired levels while other parts of the town remained highly contaminated.

In Iitate, part of the “difficult to return zone”, a section of the town was listed as a “disaster recovery base“.

In Futaba, one of the two towns that host the Fukushima Daiichi disaster site, trial cultivation of vegetables is taking place.

Many communities in the region remain abandoned, damaged and degrading, even as the government moves to declare them reopened.

Naraha, one of the early towns to reopen, has seen about 60% of residents return in the last five years.

Reopening metrics have been problematic in other areas already reopened.

With almost 70% of the land based fallout from the disaster deposited in forest areas, the potential for re-contamination remains high.

Decontamination work would result in re-contamination as dusts and soils migrate back in from areas not decontaminated.

The city now wants to do the decontamination work on residential properties themselves to accelerate making the area available for residency.

Futaba plans to have residents to return by 2022.

Farmland, houses and forest areas near homes would need to be decontaminated at least once to pass review.

Futaba was part of the highest radiation fallout levels after the initial disaster.

The government still holds an annual exposure level of 20 mSv/year as the threshold for reopening an area.

The local police officer for Futaba mentioned to reporters that the area may be reopened but no one can live there.

Few have returned to decontaminate residential properties, something key to having residents return.

Futaba plans to reopen the entire town by 2022.

Further north in Minamisoma residents who remain deal with wild monkeys who have moved in due to the lack of people.

In Tomioka, the eastern half of the town has been reopened since 2017.

September 24, 2020 Posted by | Fukushima 2020 | , , | Leave a comment

Fukushima Prefecture Announces New “High-Quality” Rice, Branding

September 4, 2020

With the announcement of a new variety of top-tier rice, Fukushima hopes to further unravel the unfair stigma of the 2011 tsunami.

On Monday, Fukushima Prefectural Governor Uchibori Masao stood before the gathered press and held aloft an indigo-blue print. The painterly, dark-blue brushstrokes depicted rice fields, mountains, and farmers planting and harvesting grains. Below, in the same vibrant indigo, were the words 「福、笑い」: Fuku, Warai, or “Luck, Laugh.” This was the just-announced official design for Fukushima Prefecture’s new high-quality rice cultivar. Fittingly for Fukushima (福島, literally “Lucky Island”), the brand would bear that same “lucky” kanji in its name.

The global image of Fukushima, of course, is not one most would describe as “lucky.” Indeed, the vast prefecture – Japan’s third-largest by area – is often intrinsically associated with the 3/11/2011 nuclear catastrophe at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant. Infamously, the disaster resulted in a zone of exclusion which forced 165,000 residents from their homes. Early government mismanagement of the crisis resulted in a Japanese populace who often distrusted official statements about local food safety. With the name “Fukushima” appended to the plant, the reputation of the entire prefecture and its people suffered.

This was doubly true for those who worked in Fukushima’s vaunted agricultural sector.

A Prefecture Recovering, an Industry Besmirched

Nearly a decade on from the disaster, the zone of exclusion has shrunk dramatically. Villages, once ghost towns, are reopening. Less than 3% of the prefecture remains off-limits. (In fact, at its greatest extent, the ZOE covered less than 6% of the prefecture.) Years of stringent testing have long proven Fukushima-grown produce to be safe. Yet, still, the stigma lingers. The South Korea Olympic Committee announced last year that it planned to bring radiation detectors and Korean-produced food to the (now-postponed) 2020 Tokyo Olympics. They aimed to avoid athletes consuming any Fukushima products.

Such fear-mongering has been especially difficult for farmers in Fukushima. This is in part because the prefecture was actually famous for its high-quality produce previous to the disaster, Fukushima produced 20.6% of the country’s peaches and 8.7% of its cucumbers. The prefecture’s real agricultural showstopper, however, is its rice.

Lucky Island, Lucky Rice

Fukushima is a mountainous land. In particular, parts of the western Aizu region have nary a flat plain in sight. Here, snowmelt from the mountain peaks runs down into regional rice paddies. This pure water helps to give Fukushima rice its high-quality flavor.

The soil, too, assists in producing good rice, as do the prefecture’s hot days and cold nights. Popular rice cultivars like Koshihikari and Hitomebore are grown, as well as numerous sake rice varieties. Fukushima rice is of such high-quality that it famously trades off taking first place with neighboring Niigata in national rice flavor competitions most years. Recently, Fukushima rice was honored three years running. The Japan Grain Inspection Association Rice Taste Rankings awarded multiple Fukushima rice brands its “Special A-Class,” leading the prefecture to take first place in 2017 through 2019.

The high-grade rice also yields high-quality sake (日本酒; nihonshu). The perfect combination of rice and water, paired with breweries with long years of experience, has resulted in some of the country’s best rice wines. Subterranean rivers flowing from Mt. Bandai; water sourced from the Abukuma-do cave; Aizu snowmelt; all these waters serve to help make Fukushima’s sake special. In 2018, Fukushima sake won the coveted National Research Institute of Brewing title for an unprecedented sixth year in a row. Breweries like Suehiro, Okunomatsu, and Kokken are just a few of its renowned sake producers.

Yet the perception of Fukushima rice – even that produced in Aizu, more distant from the nuclear disaster than parts of other prefectures – as being potentially contaminated continues to damage the Fukushima agricultural industry. Governor Uchibori almost certainly had this in mind as he sought to create excitement around Fukushima products with the announcement of the prefecture’s new cultivar.

The Birth of Fuku, Warai

Despite the timeliness of its announcement, the prefecture in fact first began designing this new rice strain 16 years ago. According to the rice brand’s official website, “Niigata no.88, descendant of Koshihikari, is its mother; prefectural cultivation-type Gunkei 627, descendant of Hitomebore, is its father.” Quality and taste-testing repeated since 2006. In 2019, the prefecture official decided to promote the rice. After the rice was announced, 6,234 Fuksuhimans submitted possible names for the cultivar; the government chose “Fuku, Warai” so that it might “bring a smile to the faces of those who produce it, those who eat it, and make them all happy.”

More than that, the prefecture announced an even loftier accomplishment. “Through these 14 months and years, we’ve put our all into creating the ideal rice. We’ve arrived at a new rice, brimming with “Fukushima Pride.”

In a promotional video produced by the prefecture, Sakuma Hideaki, head of the horticulture department of the Fukushima Agricultural Research Center, had the following to say regarding the new rice strain: In terms of its flavor, the grain is quite large and possesses a sweet quality. It has a distinct aroma. You could say it has a soft texture as well. These are special qualities that distinguish this rice from previous Fukushima Prefecture original products up until now.

Ritzy Rice

The new cultivar is being produced as a premium rice, meant to compete with the most luxurious rice strains in Japan. The aim is to have the rice on specialty store shelfs by next fall, following a special preview harvest conducted on 6/6 hectares by 13 specially-picked rice producers.

The new packaging announced on Monday was illustrated by Yorifuji Bunpei (寄藤文平), well-known for his “please do it at home” public service posters on the Tokyo metro. Koriyama-native Yanai Michihiko handled the art direction. Regarding the design, Governor Uchibori said, おいしさや魅力がより伝わるよう、関係者と力を合わせてプロモーションに取り組む。 We’ve put together this promotion by joining with those involved in order to properly convey [the rice’s] deliciousness and value.

With any luck, Fuku, Warai will help with the continued rehabilitation of Fukushima’s impressive agricultural industries. Better yet, it may indeed serve as yet another point of pride for the people of Fukushima.

Sources

(2020年09月01日). 福島県オリジナル米「福、笑い」パッケージ青基調 先行販売へ。Fukushima-Minyu Newspaper.

Official Fukushima Prefectural Fuku, Wari Website.

Sternsdorff-Cisterna, N. (2015). Food after Fukushima: Risk and Scientific Citizenship in Japan. AMERICAN ANTHROPOLOGIST, Vol. 117, No. 3, pp. 455–467,

September 13, 2020 Posted by | Fukushima 2020 | , , | Leave a comment

Low Dose Ionizing Radiation Shown to Cause Cancer in Review of 26 Studies

These results contradict the claims of the Japanese authorities who keep repeating that there is no impact observed below a dose of 100 mSv.

The US National Cancer Institute has dedicated an entire volume of its scientific journal, Journal of the National Cancer Institute Monographs, to the impact of low doses of radiation on cancers. The articles are open access.

 

jncmon_2020_56cover

July 13, 2020

An international team of experts in the study of cancer risks associated with low-dose ionizing radiation published the monograph, “Epidemiological studies of low-dose ionizing radiation and cancer: Summary bias assessment and meta-analysis,” in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute on July 13, 2020.  

It is well established that ionizing radiation causes cancer through direct DNA damage. The general public are exposed to low doses of ionizing radiation from medical exposures like computed tomography (CT) scans, naturally occurring radiation (emitted from bedrock with the earth’s crust and cosmic rays emitted by the sun), and occupational exposures to medical, aircrew and nuclear workers. A key question for low-dose exposures is how much of the damage can be repaired and whether other mechanisms, including inflammation, also play a role. This critical question has been long debated for radiation protection standards.

After combing data from 26 epidemiological studies the authors found clear evidence of excess cancer risk from low dose ionizing radiation: 17 of 22 studies showed risk for solid cancers and 17 of 20 studies showed risk for leukemia. The summary risk estimates were statistically significant and the magnitude of risk (per unit dose) was consistent with studies of populations exposed to higher doses.

A novel feature of the research effort was the investigators’ use of epidemiological and statistical techniques to identify and evaluate possible sources of bias in the observational data, for example confounding, errors in doses, and misclassification of outcomes. After a thorough and systematic review, they concluded that most did not suffer from major biases.

The authors concluded that although for the most part, absolute risk of cancer will be small, the data reinforce the radiation safety principle to ensure that doses are “as low as reasonably achievable” (ALARA).   

Additional research is needed to explore risks for cardiovascular disease (CVD) at low doses. Because CVD is a very common disease, even small risks at low doses could have important implications for radiation protection and public health.  

The 26 epidemiological studies were published between 2006 and 2017 and included a total of 91,000 solid cancers and 13,000 leukemias. Studies were eligible if the mean dose was <100 mGy. The study populations had environmental radiation exposure from accidents, like Chernobyl, and natural background radiation, medical radiation exposure like CT scans and occupational exposure including nuclear workers and medical radiation workers.   

Reference:

Epidemiological studies of low-dose ionizing radiation and cancer: Summary bias assessment and meta-analysisExit Disclaimer,” JNCI Monographs. Volume 2020. Issue 56. July 2020.

https://academic.oup.com/jncimono/issue/2020/56

https://dceg.cancer.gov/news-events/news/2020/low-dose-monograph

September 1, 2020 Posted by | radiation | , , , | 1 Comment