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Temporal changes in 137Cs concentrations in fish, sediments, and seawater off Fukushima Japan

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Demersal fish live and feed on or near the bottom of seas or lakes (the demersal zone). They occupy the sea floors and lake beds, which usually consist of mud, sand, gravel or rocks. In coastal waters they are found on or near the continental shelf, and in deep waters they are found on or near the continental slope or along the continental rise. They are not generally found in the deepest waters, such as abyssal depths or on the abyssal plain, but they can be found around seamounts and islands. The word demersal comes from the Latin demergere, which means to sink.
 
Demersal fish consist of Benthic fish and benthopelagic fish, they are bottom feeders. They can be contrasted with pelagic fish which live and feed away from the bottom in the open water column. Demersal fish fillets contain little fish oil (one to four percent), whereas pelagic fish can contain up to 30 percent.[not verified in body]
 
Benthic fish, sometimes called groundfish, are denser than water, so they can rest on the sea floor. They either lie-and-wait as ambush predators, maybe covering themselves with sand or otherwise camouflaging themselves, or move actively over the bottom in search for food. Benthic fish which can bury themselves include dragonets, flatfish and stingrays.
 
Benthopelagic fish inhabit the water just above the bottom, feeding on benthos and zooplankton. Most demersal fish are benthopelagic.

 

October 15, 2018
Abstract
We analyzed publicly-available data of Fukushima 137Cs concentrations in coastal fish, in surface and bottom waters, and in surface marine sediments and found that within the first year of the accident pelagic fish lost 137Cs at much faster rates (mean of ~1.3% d-1) than benthic fish (mean of ~0.1% d-1), with benthopelagic fish having intermediate loss rates (mean of ~0.2% d-1). The loss rates of 137Cs in benthic fish were more comparable to the decline of 137Cs concentrations in sediments (0.03% d-1), and the declines in pelagic fish were more comparable to the declines in seawater. Retention patterns of 137Cs in pelagic fish were comparable to that in laboratory studies of fish in which there were no sustained 137Cs sources, whereas the benthopelagic and benthic fish species retained 137Cs to a greater extent, consistent with the idea that there is a sustained additional 137Cs source for these fish. These field data, based on 13,511 data points in which 137Cs was above the detection limit, are consistent with conclusions from laboratory experiments that demonstrate that benthic fish can acquire 137Cs from sediments, primarily through benthic invertebrates that contribute to the diet of these fish.
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October 17, 2018 Posted by | Fukushima 2018 | , , , | Leave a comment

Japan recognizes first death related to Fukushima cleanup

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September 7, 2018
The Japanese government has recognized the first death associated with cleanup work at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant after the tsunami disaster in March 2011, according to the Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare.
The government designated the death of an unnamed man in his 50s as an “industrial accident.” The man, who had worked at the plant from 1980 to 2015, was diagnosed with lung cancer in February 2016.
After the 2011 tsunami that was triggered by a 9.0-magnitude earthquake, the man was assigned to “radiation control” work in which he was responsible for monitoring radiation levels and work time of cleanup crews.
The Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare recognized his cancer and death as related to his work at the plant. A committee of experts determined his accumulated radiation level exceeded government standards.
Kunihiko Konagamitsu of the ministry said 17 workers had applied to be considered cases with an “industrial accident” designation, including three with leukemia and one with thyroid cancer. Two workers withdrew their requests, five were dismissed, and five are still under review.
The March 11, 2011, quake was the worst to hit Japan and lasted nearly six minutes. More than 20,000 people died or went missing in the earthquake and tsunami that followed.
Three reactors at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant, operated by Tokyo Electric Power Co. or TEPCO, melted down in the nation’s worst nuclear disaster. The damaged reactors released radioactive materials into the air and more than 100,000 people were evacuated from the area. Forty-five thousand workers were involved in the ensuing cleanup.
In 2015 Japan health officials confirmed the first case of cancer linked to cleanup work at the plant.
In 2016, TEPCO said that decommissioning the reactor was like climbing a mountain and that it could take as long as 40 years.

September 10, 2018 Posted by | Fukushima 2018 | , , | Leave a comment

Fukushima unrecognized threat of radioactive microparticles

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Fukushima Microparticles, An Unrecognized Threat

In the years since the initial disaster there have been disparities between the official radiation exposure estimates and the subsequent health problems in Japan. In some cases the estimates were based on faulty or limited early data. Where a better understanding of the exposure levels is known there still remained an anomaly in some of the health problems vs. the exposure dose. Rapid onset cancers also caused concern. The missing piece of the puzzle may be insoluble microparticles from the damaged reactors.
 
What are microparticles ?
These microscopic bits of fuel and other materials from the reactor meltdowns have been found around Japan since soon after the disaster. Citizens with hand held radiation meters first discovered them as highly radioactive fine black sands on roadsides and gutters. These substances eventually caught the attention of researchers who determined they are tiny fused particles of vaporized reactor fuel, meltdown byproducts, structural components of the reactors and sometimes concrete from the reactor containments. The Fukushima microparticles are similar to “fuel fleas” or “hot particles“. Hot particles or fuel fleas have been found at operating nuclear reactors that had damaged fuel assemblies. These fused particles found around Japan are different in that they are a byproduct of the reactor meltdowns.
The small size of these microparticles, smaller than 114 μm makes them an inhalation risk. Other studies have also confirmed the size is small enough to inhale. These microparticles have been found near Fukushima Daiichi, in the evacuation zone, outside of the evacuation zone and as far away as Tokyo.
 
How microparticles were created at Fukushima Daiichi
The heat of the meltdown processes reached temperatures high enough to cause the nuclear fuel and other materials to break down into small particles. The uranium in the fuel further oxidized and then volatilized once temperatures reached 1900K. As these materials broke down into nanoparticle sized components of the fuel melt process, this set up the conditions for them to condense.  As these materials cooled the fused microparticles were created. Newer studies call these microparticles “CsMPs” (Cesium bearing micro particles).  A 2018 study of how these microparticles were created gives a plain language explanation of the process. https://pubs.acs.org/doi/pdf/10.1021/acs.est.7b06309
“From these data, part of the process that the FDNPP fuels experienced during the meltdown can be summarized as the follows: Cooling waters vaporized, and the steam reacted with Zr and Fe forming their oxides after the loss of power to the cooling system. UO2, which is the main composition of fuels, partially oxidized and volatilized at greater than ∼1900 K. (9,10) The fuel assemblies melted unevenly with relatively less irradiated fuels being heated to a higher temperature as compared with the high burnup fuels and volatilized as evidenced by the 235U/238U isotopic ratio.(9) The fuel assembly collapsed and moved to the bottom of RPV. The temperature increased locally to at least greater than 2400 K based on the liquidus temperature of U−Zr oxides. Locally formed oxides melted to a heterogeneous composition, including a small amount of Fe oxides,(27) which then became a source of Fe−U single crystals and U−Zr-oxide eutectic phases. Specifically, euhedral magnetite nanocrystals encapsulated euhedral uraninite nanocrystals, which would have crystallized slowly at this stage. Liquid U−Zr-oxide nanodroplets were rapidly cooled and solidified to a cubic structure. When the molten fuels hit the concrete pedestal of the PCV, SiO gas was generated at the interfaces between the melted core and concrete and instantly condensed to form CsMPs.(5) The U−Zr-oxide nanoparticles or the magnetite nanocrystals subsequently formed aggregates with CsMPs. Finally, the reactor debris fragments were released to the environment along with CsMPs.”
The microparticles may have left the reactors through multiple processes including containment leaks,  containment venting operations, hydrogen explosions and the later reduction and addition of water in an attempt to control the molten fuel.
 
New study looks at how to quantify these substances
A new study found a useful way to quantify how much of the contamination in an area is due to microparticles (hot particles). By using autoradiography they were able to confirm the number of microparticles in a sample. Soil samples near Fukushima Daiichi ranged from 48–318 microparticles per gram.  The microparticles had high concentrations of radioactive cesiums, in the range of ∼1011 Bq/g. The study stresses the health concern that these microparticles pose due to cellular damage from the highly concentrated radiation level. The authors also mention the risk re-suspension of microparticles in the air poses to the public.
Not just cesiums
A separate study found strontium-90 in the Fukushima microparticles at a ratio similar to what has been found in contaminated soil samples. This study included the amount of hot particles (aka: microparticles) found in soil samples taken in the fallout zone in Fukushima north-west of the plant. They ranged from 0-18 microparticles per square meter of soil. This information confirms that strontium-90 is part of some of these fused microparticles. https://academic.oup.com/jrr/advance-article/doi/10.1093/jrr/rry063/5074550
An ongoing research project and paper by Marco Kaltofen documents these hot particles further. In the 2017 paper they found more than 300 such hot particles from Fukushima Daiichi in Japanese samples.  A hot particle was found in a vacuum cleaner bag from Nagoya, over 300 km from the disaster site. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0048969717317953?via%3Dihub
“300 individual radioactively-hot particles were identified in samples from Japan; composed of 1% or more of the elements cesium, americium, radium, polonium, thorium, tellurium, or strontium. Some particles reached specific activities in the MBq μg− 1 level and higher.”
The study found americium 241 in two house dust samples from Tokyo and in one from Sendai, 100 km north of the disaster site.  The sample set collected in 2016 showed a similar instance of highly radioactive hot particles compared to the 2011 samples. This appears to show that the threat from these reactor ejected hot particles has not gone away. A majority of the collected samples were from locations declared decontaminated by the national government.
The above graph is from the 2017 Kaltofen paper. These represent the highest readings for cesium found in their microparticle samples. The highest in the graph is Namie black sand. These black sand substances found around Fukushima prefecture and as far south as Tokyo were discovered to be largely made up of ejected reactor materials based on multiple studies.
The 2018 study we cited earlier in this report to explain the microparticle creation process also confirms some of these microparticles also contain radioactive isotopes of uranium. This further confirms the creation of some of these microparticles from the fuel itself. Uranium poses a particular concern due to the extremely long half lives involved.
 
How these act differently in the environment
In the case of the microparticles that contained Strontium 90, the isotope would normally move with water in the environment. Due to the insolubility of the microparticles, the strontium 90 stays in the top soils. Studies on microparticles predominantly carrying radioactive cesiums showed that the radioactive substances did not migrate through the environment as expected.
Microparticles were found in road gutters, sediment that collected in parking lots, below downspouts and similar places where sediments could concentrate. These initial discoveries hint at how the microparticles could migrate through the environment. The findings of the 2017 Kaltofen study indicate that microparticles can persist years later, even in places that were decontaminated. This may be due to the natural processes that have caused many areas to recontaminate after being cleaned up. There has been no effort to clean up forest areas in Japan. Doing so was found to be extremely difficult. The forest runoff may be one method of recontamination.
 
The risk to humans and animals
The subject of hot particles and the risk that they might pose to human or animal health has been controversial in recent years. Some studies found increased risks, others claimed a lesser risk from these substances. One study we reviewed may have discovered the nuances of when these substances are more damaging.
Most studies on hot particles aimed to determine if they were more damaging than that of a uniform radiation exposure to the same body part. A 1988 study by Hoffman et. al. found that hot particle damage varied by the radiation level of the particle, distance to nearby cells and the movement of the particle within the tissue. A high radiation particle might kill all the nearby cells but cause transformation in cells further away. Those dead cells near the hot particle would stimulate the transformed cells to reproduce faster to replace the dead cells. https://academic.oup.com/rpd/article-abstract/22/3/149/161256
A hot particle of moderate radiation would cause more transformations than cell death of nearby cells. High radiation hot particles that moved around in the organ, in this case the lung, would cause the most transformations. These acted like multiple moderate radiation hot particles transforming cells as they moved around. Those transformations are what can turn into cancers. This study’s findings appear to explain the results found in other studies where fewer cancers were found than they expected in certain groups.
A veteran who was exposed during US atomic testing had experience over 300 basal cell carcinomas. The study concluded that the skin cancers in atomic veterans could be induced by their radiation exposure. Continued exposure to ultraviolet radiation then promoted those cancers.
Other studies found damage in animal models. A study of hot particles on pig skin showed roughly half of the exposures caused small skin lesions. Two in the higher exposure group caused infections, one of these resulted in a systemic infection. https://inis.iaea.org/collection/NCLCollectionStore/_Public/28/061/28061202.pdf
A mouse study where hot particles were implanted into the skin found increased cancers of the skin. https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/09553009314550501
Workers at Fukushima Daiichi in the group with some of the highest radiation exposures were discovered to have these insoluble microparticles lodged in their lungs. When the workers radiation levels didn’t decrease as expected, further tests were done. Scans found the bulk of the worker’s body contamination was in their lungs. The lung contamination persisted on subsequent scans. The looming concern is that these microparticles in the lungs can not be ejected by the body.
 
Risks have been known for decades 
The US NRC issued an information notice related to a series of hot particle exposures at nuclear plants where workers were exposed beyond legal limits. https://www.nrc.gov/reading-rm/doc-collections/gen-comm/info-notices/1987/in87039.html
Damaged fuel was the source in all cases. Even improperly laundered protective clothing was found to be a risk factor. Contaminated clothing from one facility could make it through the laundry process with a hot particle undetected on bulk scans of finished laundry. This would then result in an exposure to a different worker at a different plant who donned the contaminated gear. The hot particles when in contact with skin can give a high dose rate. Plants with even small fuel assembly leaks saw significant increases in worker exposure levels.
“In addition to any increased risk of cancer, large doses to the skin from hot particles also may produce observable effects such as reddening, hardening, peeling, or ulceration of the skin immediately around the particle. “
These problems are thought to only occur in high dose exposures from hot particles. One worker in the review had an estimated 512 rem radiation exposure from a hot particle.  Workers at US nuclear power plants are subjected to strict screening programs when they exit or return to work. This increases the chance of detecting and removing a hot particle before it can do more damage. This also lessens the potential for one to leave the plant site. The general public exposed to a nuclear plant disaster does not receive this level of scrutiny.
 
How this risk may have played out in Fukushima
Soon after the reactor explosions ripped through Fukushima Daiichi, people in the region began complaining of nosebleeds and flu like symptoms. These eventually began being reported as far south as Chiba and Tokyo.  https://www.aljazeera.com/indepth/features/2011/08/201181665921711896.html
The government responded that these complaints were “hysteria” or people trying to scare others. These problems were so widespread and coming from diverse people it had seemed to be a significant sign in the events that unfolded.
On March 21, 2011 there was rain in Tokyo that may have washed out contamination still being ejected at the plant. Events at Daiichi between March 17-21 caused increased radiation releases.
In 2013 there was an unusual uptick in complaints about severe nosebleeds. This happened at the time typhoon Man-yi made landfall in Tokyo. The bulk of the people who responded to a survey by a foreign policy expert working in the office of a member of Japan’s Diet were from the Kanto region (Tokyo) where the typhoon made landfall.
Children in the Fukushima region that were found to have thyroid problems also complained of frequent nosebleeds and skin rashes.  People have described unusual ongoing health problems such as this woman in Minami Soma near Fukushima Daiichi who had odd rashes, a rapid loss of teeth etc.  Cattle housed 14 km from the disaster site have shown with white spots all over their hides, something previously seen after US nuclear tests. https://www.huffingtonpost.com/evaggelos-vallianatos/the-nuclear-meltdown-at-f_b_4209766.html
The USS Reagan was offshore of Fukushima Daiichi March 11 to 14th. Plume maps for iodine 131 (a gaseous release from the meltdowns) blew in the wind north and at times east out to sea during those dates. These same winds could have carried microparticles out to sea. A number of sailors on the Reagan and those working with the rescue helicopters have fallen ill. Eight have died since the disaster. This newer account of the events on the Reagan raise even more concerns about what happened to those trying to save people after the tsunami.
Namie Mayor, Tamotsu Baba resigned his office in June 2018 after a year of off and on hospitalization. He had been undergoing treatment for gastric cancer. He died a few weeks after resigning. His cancer may have predated the disaster, but in the last year his health drastically declined. Namie is in the area of some of the highest fallout from the disaster.
Fukushima plant manager Masao Yoshida died of esophageal cancer in 2013. TEPCO insisted his cancer was not related to the disaster due to the rapid onset. This is a common claim around cancers that could be tied to Fukushima, yet the number of cancers soon after the disaster has been hard to ignore.
As we neared completion of this report the labor ministry announced that the lung cancer death of a Fukushima Daiichi worker was tied to his work during the disaster. The worker was at the plant during the early months of the disaster and worked there until 2015. TEPCO didn’t give specifics of his work role, only mentioning he took radiation levels. TEPCO mentioned that the worker wore a “full face mask respirator” during his work. All of the workers at Daiichi wore the same after ordered to do so after meltdowns were underway. The worker was not among the highest exposure bracket so he may not have been receiving detailed health monitoring. Radiation exposure monitoring during the early months of the disaster was inconsistent and sometimes missed exposures. https://mainichi.jp/english/articles/20180905/p2a/00m/0na/004000c
 
What microparticles change about the disaster
Highly radioactive microparticles were released to the environment during the meltdowns, explosions and subsequent processes in units 1-3 at Fukushima Daiichi.
Microparticles have been found near the disaster site, in the evacuation zone, far outside of the evacuation zone and south into the Tokyo region. These substances persist in the environment and have been found in areas previously decontaminated.
These microparticles significantly change the exposure estimates for the general public. Individual exposures can not be accurately estimated by the use of generic environmental radiation levels as this does not account for the individual’s exposure to microparticles.
Microparticle exposure has multiple variables that create a unique level of risk to the exposed human or animal. They can in the right circumstances cause significant damage to nearby tissues, persist in the body, cause damage, initiate or promote a cancer.
Microparticle exposures may be the missing puzzle piece that explains a number of odd problems tied to the Fukushima disaster. Health problems that showed up soon after the disaster. Exposed populations with aggressive or sudden cancers and other serious health problems that can be created or exacerbated by radiation exposure.
Microparticles continue to pose a public health risk in some parts of Japan that experienced fallout and increased radiation levels due to the disaster.

September 10, 2018 Posted by | Fukushima 2018 | , , , | Leave a comment

Fukushima episode of Netflix’s Dark Tourist sparks offence in Japan

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05 September, 2018,
Government unhappy after programme hints food in region is still contaminated with radiation and host enters clearly marked no-go zone
The recent Netflix series Dark Tourist is a grimy window into areas scarred by tragedy, providing a perspective as rare as it is compelling – but a controversial Japan-set entry in the series may have gone too far.
The country’s Reconstruction Agency is set to hold talks with the Fukushima prefectural government about a unified response to the second episode in the series, which looked at a tour for foreign visitors to some of the areas worst affected by the 2011 tsunami, earthquake and nuclear-plant disaster.
The episode raised hackles in Tokyo and Fukushima after David Farrier, the New Zealand journalist who hosts the series, was filmed eating at a restaurant in the town of Namie – a former nuclear ghost town which reopened its doors to visitors in April 2017 – and stating that he expected the food to be contaminated with radiation.
Farrier was also filmed aboard a tour bus nervously watching as the numbers on a Geiger counter continued to rise beyond levels members of the party had been told were considered safe.
At one point in the programme, which was released on July 20, a woman holding a Geiger counter says radiation levels “are higher than around Chernobyl”.
Farrier also slips away from the group without permission, and enters an abandoned game arcade within the no-go zone around the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear plant.
The prefectural government and the Reconstruction Agency, which was set up after the disaster to oversee the nuclear clean-up and rebuilding efforts in the region, are reported to be unhappy that Farrier entered a clearly marked no-go zone and the programme’s suggestion that food in northeast Japan was not safe to eat.
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Authorities are also unhappy the programme failed to specify that the high levels of radiation initially reported in the area have fallen significantly, and only a relatively small area is still officially listed as “difficult to return to” for local residents.
“We are examining the content of the video,” a prefecture official told the Jiji news agency.
The Fukushima government declined to provide further comment on Dark Tourist or the action that it might take.
A spokesman for the Reconstruction Agency in Tokyo told the South China Morning Post a response would be prepared after consultations with the prefectural authorities.
“We would like to provide accurate knowledge and correct information about the situation surrounding radiation in Fukushima Prefecture to the domestic and international media,” the official said. “We cannot comment specifically on the Netflix case at this point.”
An estimated 100,000 foreign tourists have visited Fukushima last year, many attracted by the offer of trips described as “dark tourism”.
Authorities, however, have been working hard to get across the message that the vast majority of the Tohoku region of northeast Japan is perfectly safe to visit and that local food and produce is safe to consume.
Campaigns are also under way to rebuild export markets for local foodstuffs.
The condemnation from authorities comes as Japan acknowledges for the first time that a worker at the Fukushima plant died in 2016 from radiation exposure.
The country’s Health, Labour and Welfare Ministry ruled that compensation should be paid to the family of the man in his 50s who died from lung cancer, an official said.
The worker had spent his career working at nuclear plants around Japan and worked at the Fukushima plant at least twice after the March 2011 meltdowns. He was diagnosed with cancer in February 2016, the official said.

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

Fukushima government considers action over Dark Tourist episode

September 4, 2018
DARK Tourist has been a global hit, but officials in Japan are not happy with scenes in this episode.
ITS willingness to boldly take audiences to some of the most offbeat, off-putting and downright disturbing places on the planet has made the Netflix series Dark Tourist a global sensation.
The first season of the groundbreaking documentary series, which was released in July, follows host David Farrier’s excursions to grim locations, from a forbidden ghost city on Cyprus to the Milwaukee sites where serial killer Jeffrey Dahmer murdered his victims.
But the series has landed in hot water due to its second episode that was filmed in Japan.
There, government officials are considering taking action against Netflix over footage from inside Fukushima, which was devastated by an earthquake and tsunami in March 2011.
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The second episode of Dark Tourist sees host David Farrier on a nuclear bus tour in Fukushima.
 
In the episode, Farrier, a New Zealand journalist, takes a bus tour with other foreign sightseers into areas affected by the catastrophic nuclear meltdown at the Fukushima Daiichi plant.
 
The bus passes radioactive exclusion zones and Farrier and the other tourists become increasingly nervous by the skyrocketing readings on their Geiger counters, which measure radiation.
At one point in the episode, the reading is 50 times higher than levels deemed to be safe.
In another scene, the group visits a local restaurant where Farrier is concerned about eating locally sourced food that may be contaminated.
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Farrier was unsure about eating local food.
 
In another, he comes close to being arrested after sneaking into an abandoned arcade that was deemed a no-go zone by the government.
Now, officials from the Fukushima Prefectural Government said they are investigating the Dark Tourist episode, concerned it would “fuel unreasonable fears related to the March 2011 disaster at Tokyo’s Electric’s tsunami-stricken Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant”.
A senior government official told The Japan Times they are working with the Reconstruction Agency in considering how to respond to the footage.
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The camera followed Farrier as he broke away from the tour group and entered an off-limits arcade.
 
“We’re examining the video content,” the official said.
The three issues of apparent concern to officials were Farrier being worried about eating the restaurant’s food, his visit to the off-limits arcade, and the exact location of the bus not being specified when the high radiation readings alarmed the tourists.
Farrier previously said it was “super disconcerting” to visit the areas affected by the Fukushima nuclear disaster.
“Essentially, you’re in the middle of a microwave,” he told the New Zealand Herald.
“You can’t feel anything but this device is telling you that the radiation is way higher than is safe.”
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In the episode, Farrier and the other tourists are concerned about the readings on their Geiger counters.
 
Hundreds of thousands of people fled for their lives when a tsunami swept through Fukushima and set off three nuclear meltdowns at the Daiichi power plant, exposing the region to radioactive material.
The Japanese government has deemed some of the affected areas to be safe to return to, but many remain abandoned. Other areas are still designated as off limits.
But Fukushima’s perceived nuclear danger and its eerie setting have made it one of the world’s most popular drawcards for “dark tourists” — travellers who seek out locations with disturbing histories and associations with death and tragedy.
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Although dark tourism is booming, many area of Fukushima remain no-go zones.
 
So-called nuclear tourism attracted about 94,000 overseas visitors to Fukushima in 2017.
Similar nuclear tours operate in the Ukrainian ghost town of Pripyat, which has been a radioactive wasteland since the Chernobyl nuclear disaster in 1986.
The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade urges Australian travellers to exercise a high degree of caution in Areas 1 and 2 near the Fukushima Daiichi power plant and advises against all travel to Area 3 due to “very high” health and safety risks.

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

Japan’s Fukushima Considering Action Over Netflix’s ‘Dark Tourist’ Nuclear Episode

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August 3, 2018
The local government and the Reconstruction Agency are not happy with portrayals of unspecified high-radiation locations and speculation over contaminated food.
Japan’s Reconstruction Agency and Fukushima Prefectural Government are considering legal action over the episode of Netflix’s Dark Tourist, which visited places still dealing with the aftermath of the March 2011 triple nuclear meltdown.
The episode, the second in the series released on the streaming giant July 20, sees New Zealand journalist David Farrier visit Japan, with just more than half of the program following him on an organized bus tour through areas near the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Plant.
Farrier and the other tourists become concerned as the readings on their Geiger counters showed radiation higher than they were told to expect and what is deemed to be safe levels. The group eventually decides to cut the tour short, but not before eating at a restaurant in the area and Farrier leaving the group to enter an off-limit gaming arcade. While at the restaurant, Farrier talks about his concerns about the food being unsafe, before finishing his meal.
“We’re examining the video content,” a senior official from the prefecture told news agency Jiji.
The parts of the video that the authorities have taken objection to are the section showing the high radiation levels, but not saying where they were filmed, the speculation about food contamination and Farrier’s excursion into the off-limits area.
Almost 100,000 foreign tourists are estimated to have visited Fukushima last year on what have been dubbed nuclear tourism tours.
Nearly 20,000 people died in March 2011, when a huge earthquake set off a devastating tsunami that knocked the cooling systems of the nuclear plant out of action, leading to three reactors at Daiichi melting down.
The local and national government have been working to have bans on food produces from the area rescinded, which they have been gradually achieving.
During the episode, Farrier also visits the Aokigahara forest, an area known for suicides. YouTuber Paul Logan faced a backlash at the beginning of the year after posting a video from the forest, where he had discovered a corpse. Farrier also stays in a robot-run hotel and takes a tour to the abandoned Hashima Island. Once a coal mine, the industrial wasteland of the island has attracted tourists and attention in recent years, appearing in the James Bond film Skyfall and the Japanese Attack on Titan live-action movies.
Other episodes feature tourism related to voodoo, drug barons, mass murderers and survivalists.

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

The nuclear establishment cannot be trusted on radiation

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QUOTE:
“The conventional approach of averaging the energy transfer from radioactive decay events across a whole organ or the entire body is like emptying a rifle into a football stadium and averaging the effects of the 6 bullets across all the 25,000 spectators. The assumption that between them 25,000 people should be able to stop six bullets without any of them feeling more than a tap on the arm will not console the six grieving families. In this example, the 25,000 spectators are the cells of an organ. The six bullets are like six alpha particles. By the averaging model, the energy from the velocity of the bullets is treated as equally distributed to all who feel no more than a tap as a result. But this model simply does not reflect the reality, that the full energy is absorbed by only six spectators but with catastrophic consequences for them. In terms of biological effect, it makes no sense to speak of the impact of six alpha particles distributed over 25,000 cells. Only the individual cells hit will suffer biological damage. The remainder will escape unscathed. The dose is not received by the whole organ. It is absorbed completely by only a handful of cells.”
21st August 2018
When it comes to questions about the safety or not of releasing radioactive particles into the environment the Nuclear Power industry is economical with the truth but get away with it because the mass media tends to accept what they are told and if anyone disagrees they are called scaremongers who don’t understand the science. They delight in pointing out that many of those who oppose them are not scientists but that is hypocritical as their own pronouncements about radiation risks are very poor science. I am sure they will point out that I am not a scientist so my arguments can be dismissed but it is up to you the reader to decide that.
I am a teacher, not a science teacher but a law teacher so evidence is something that I regard as very important and coherent arguments matter to me. I am a long-term anti-Nuclear power activist and I have written this article to teach people about radiation and, in order to teach it properly, I want to explain it in a clear way that people can understand. So, while I am not a “Scientist” I really do understand radiation because I have been studying it for  over three decades and the purpose of this article is to explain why the Nuclear Power establishment’s views on the safety or not of radiation are wrong.
The Nuclear Power industry created the International Commission on Radiological Protection (ICRP) to set the safety standards of the Nuclear Power industry in terms of what they call safe or unsafe “doses” of radiation. Because the Nuclear Power establishment, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) sets international safety limits those limits are essentially self-regulation of their own industry and it is not the independent body that many ill-informed people assume it is – but that’s not their fault because the IAEA prefers to keep the public in the dark and not be too closely questioned. They do not like it when people point out that the problem with the IAEA and ICRP’s definition of a safe dose of radiation is that is deeply flawed because it based on old and outdated scientific assumptions.
Radiation does not affect inanimate objects in the same way as living things such as plants and animals. To put it in a more traditionally scientific way, physics and biology are two different sciences and the ways in which they interact means that the way in which radiation was quantified by physicists does not fit the reality of life as studied by biologists.
But the Nuclear Industry’s concept of a “safe dose” of radioactivity, widely accepted by the mainstream media is a very old and out-dated argument which is why it can no longer be blindly accepted as sufficient because science has moved on since it was first put forward, and it is of no use when applied to genetics which was only discovered in the early 1950s.
The IAEA conceptual model for quantifying a radiation dose is that it means the quantity of energy absorbed by matter is treated as if it is uniformly distributed throughout the mass that absorbs it, i.e., the energy is “averaged” over the entire mass. To do this makes perfect sense within the mathematically oriented discipline of physics. However, this model is woefully inadequate when transferred into the discipline of biology where averaging energy over a mass of living cellular material is, in many instances, a useless concept for determining the biological effect.
This quantitative model that was first developed introduced clarity into people’s thinking about radiation’s interaction with matter and so successful was this approach that it influenced all future thinking on the subject of radiation protection. According to this model, the biological effects of radiation were proportional to the amount of energy absorbed by the target, whether this was a particular organ or the body as a whole.
Radiation protection was given a scientific footing that would allow it to keep pace with the revolution that was taking place in nuclear physics and in the new world created by the Manhattan Project, to build nuclear weapons, which required Nuclear Power stations to provide the basics necessary. The first Nuclear Power station in the UK, at Calderhall, was very inefficient in producing electricity but it was primarily built in order to develop the UK’s nuclear weapons.
But a subtle flaw lay at the heart of the initial model of safe doses of radiation because it was all built upon the unfounded assumption that biological effects of radiation depended solely on the amount of energy absorbed. What made perfect sense from the point of view of the physicist was not in harmony with basic biological realities.
At first, this wasn’t apparent. Only in the latter part of the 1950s, after new fundamental discoveries were made in biology, did the major shortcomings to the model begin to intrude into what was already orthodoxy in radiation physics. Thus, the physics-based model — which was hugely successful in advancing radiation research — turned out in time to have been a conceptual blunder that blinded many to a true understanding of the biological effects of radiation. More significant is the fact that it continues to blind the understanding of people today, even people who have spent years of study on the subject.
At low doses, the equivalent energy delivered by x-rays or gamma rays externally and that delivered by alpha and beta particles internally produce different patterns of chemical disruption to individual cells. As a result, low dose effects from external irradiation cannot be used to predict effects from internal contamination.
Radiation comes in three forms – alpha, beta and gamma. Gamma radiation has the highest penetrative power and has to be encased in thick steel and concrete to prevent it from leaking. Beta radiation is less penetrative and alpha decay comes last as it cannot pass through a piece of paper which is why the Nuclear Power industry regards it as safe. However, alpha particles can cause damage even if they have the lowest penetration power among the three because, if they enter the human body by us breathing them in or if we eat something that is contaminated by them then there are very real dangers.
This was known a century ago when it became obvious that workers painting luminous Radium on the faces of clocks, watches and compasses to make them glow in the dark. World War 1 boosted demand and through the following decades, hundreds of girls and women were employed to paint dials and pointers. They would routinely put the tips of their paint brushes between their lips to obtain a fine point for the trickier numerals but by 1923 it was clear that the Radium they ingested was causing dreadful, agonising and frequently fatal illnesses.
Radium (which emits alpha particles) mostly lodges in bone, so the diseases affected the blood-forming function of the women’s bone marrow, leading to anaemia. Those with higher body burdens had ulcers and their bones were weakened to the point where vertebrae collapsed and legs would break spontaneously. The first deaths directly attributed to Radium Necrosis came in 1925. Court cases, compensation payments and improved workplace practices followed starting with a ban on licking brushes.
The simple conclusion that, dose for dose, internal emitters may produce a more negative biological effect than external irradiation is a disaster for the nuclear establishment and they lose the plot when confronted by it. Using external irradiation as a model, the physicists of the Manhattan Project argued that internal emitters would produce the same biological effect for the same amount of energy deposited by radioactive decay (with consideration given to the quality factor of each type of radiation). To capture this energy transfer in their mathematical calculations, the energy transmitted by alpha and beta particles during radioactive decay was averaged over the entire mass of the target organ to yield an organ dose.
Unfortunately, the IAEA continues to this day to insist that this is the proper way of calculating dosages from internal emitters. Alpha particles on average traverse no more than 30 to 40 microns, approximately 3 to 4 cell diameters but that is the point – it is at the level of the cell where radiation effects become significant, not over large masses of tissue. When emitted from an atom undergoing radioactive decay, these particles travel along discrete tracks within a small volume of cells. Biological damage is produced within individual cells along these particle tracks. While in transit, they initiate the ionization of molecules only along their path of travel, either hitting vital molecular cellular structures, such as the DNA molecule, or missing them altogether. Not all cells within the range of the particle are affected. Biological alteration occurs only in those cells that are hit by the particle. Cells that are missed by the particle suffer no injury. With internal emitters, the unit of interest for gauging biological effects is individual cells, not whole masses of tissue.
This is particularly true for the induction of a cancer. Cancers arise from mutations within a single cell. This being the case, averaging the effect of a particle over an entire mass is ludicrous. Being a hit or miss phenomenon involving individual cells, how can the effect of an alpha or beta particle be averaged over the entire organ?
The conventional approach of averaging the energy transfer from radioactive decay events across a whole organ or the entire body is like emptying a rifle into a football stadium and averaging the effects of the 6 bullets across all the 25,000 spectators. The assumption that between them 25,000 people should be able to stop six bullets without any of them feeling more than a tap on the arm will not console the six grieving families. In this example, the 25,000 spectators are the cells of an organ. The six bullets are like six alpha particles. By the averaging model, the energy from the velocity of the bullets is treated as equally distributed to all who feel no more than a tap as a result. But this model simply does not reflect the reality, that the full energy is absorbed by only six spectators but with catastrophic consequences for them. In terms of biological effect, it makes no sense to speak of the impact of six alpha particles distributed over 25,000 cells. Only the individual cells hit will suffer biological damage. The remainder will escape unscathed. The dose is not received by the whole organ. It is absorbed completely by only a handful of cells.
The IAEA assumption, made long ago,  that external and internal radiation produce the same biological effects has never been validated and is now regarded as an unsubstantiated theory that is deeply flawed. For many years I have heard the Nuclear establishment use this deeply flawed science in a hypocritical way by arguing that when large amounts of leukemia is found in children near Nuclear Power stations that it cannot be because of the Nuclear power station, because the dose released by that station is too low to be the cause. The biased use of poor science by the Nuclear power establishment in a circular fashion can produce ridiculous results that well illustrates why they cannot be trusted.
This became obvious after the Chernobyl nuclear power station disaster in 1986 when huge amounts of radioactive particles were released into the atmosphere over Europe. While the 2005 IAEA report predicted that only 4,000 additional deaths would result from the Chernobyl accident, the most recently published figures indicate that in Belarus, Russia and Ukraine alone, the accident resulted in an estimated 200,000 additional deaths between 1990 and 2004.
When it comes to safety and internal radiation doses, the European Committee on Radiation Risk (ECRR) has, in recent years, identified it as a serious misuse of scientific method in the extension and application of the traditional model. Such a process involves deductive reasoning. It falsely uses data from one set of conditions — high-level, acute, external exposure — to model low-level, chronic, internal exposure. The procedure is scientifically bankrupt, and were it not for political consideration, would have been rejected long ago, according to the ECRR.
It is high time that politicians caught up with the realities of life and realised that the Nuclear Power establishment are hoodwinking them about the safety or not of radiation. That is particularly true when it comes to them making decisions which concerns the release of radioactive particles into the atmosphere as if they accept their assertions without having advice from independent scientists then they are gambling with people’s lives.

August 27, 2018 Posted by | Nuclear | , , | 1 Comment

16.33uSv/h on Route 114, Fukushima

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16.33uSv/h on Route 114, Fukushima, which is over 70 times as high as the decontamination level. The very highway where the gov. lifted a ban on vehicular traffic.
 

August 1, 2018 Posted by | Fukushima 2018 | , , | Leave a comment

Fukushima Route 114 to Namie is No Route 66!

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Even after lifting the ban on R114 last September, the route leading to Namie, a town near the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant, radiation remains very high.

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

Returnee Fukushima farmers offer taste of rice cultivation in hopes of revitalization

Sustaining the hope of recovery despite the radioactive contamination risk
 
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University students covered in mud plant rice saplings in a drained paddy in the town of Namie, Fukushima Prefecture, on May 19, 2018.
 
June 10, 2018
FUKUSHIMA — University students and others from around Japan are coming to the farming villages of Fukushima Prefecture where evacuation orders from the 2011 nuclear disaster have been lifted, experiencing rice planting and interacting with local residents who are facing a difficult recovery and population decline.
Organized by local municipal governments and residents, the visits by people from outside the region affected by the Fukushima No. 1 Nuclear Power Plant disaster are providing inspiration to farmers, who have seen less than 20 percent of the pre-disaster farmland planted, and few inheritors to carry on the region’s farming industry.
The laughter echoed over the idle farmland of the Sakata district in the town of Namie, Fukushima Prefecture, as university students and other participants planted rice by hand in a drained paddy on May 19.
“Everyone looks like they’re having fun,” said Namie resident and farmer Kiyoto Matsumoto, 79, with a smile. “Watching them is pretty enjoyable.”
Students started coming to Namie to experience rice planting two years ago. The idea of the event was to have them learn about the current conditions in areas affected by the March 2011 earthquake, tsunami and nuclear disasters, and to link the awareness with the revitalization of the region. On that day, roughly 60 students worked up a sweat in the mud of the rice paddies. The students can also take part in the harvest of the crops and sell the rice at a local festival held in the town in November.
“I really got a feel for how hard farmers work, and I also learned about the lack of successors to take over the farms and other issues,” said an 18-year-old first-timer, a student at Waseda University in Tokyo. Matsumoto hopes that “the young people (who participate) will be able to feel something through experiencing agricultural work.”
In areas where the 2011 evacuation order has been lifted, rice production has once again become possible. The Fukushima Prefectural Government has been testing all rice produced within the prefecture, and there have been no cases where the rice exceeded the standard limit of the radioactive material cesium from 2015-2017. Still, even after the evacuation order was lifted, residents have not been returning to their pre-disaster homes, and with the added influence of an aging population and a lack of successors, there are few farmers who have taken up rice cultivation again. Of the farmland across the five villages and towns of Tomioka, Namie, Iitate, Katsurao and Naraha, the Odaka Ward of the city of Minamisoma and the Yamakiya district of the town of Kawamata, for which evacuation orders were lifted between 2015 and 2017, only between less than 1 percent to 14 percent of the pre-disaster farmland was in use this spring.
In the village of Iitate, 73-year-old farmer Masao Aita also held a rice-planting event on May 19 for adults and students alike that attracted 32 participants. Aita and his wife just returned to the village the month before. The couple had given up on cultivating rice out of concern that they would not be able to sell what they had produced, and planned to plant the fields with tulips and other flowers. However, they were approached by a volunteer group. The group recommended the rice cultivation event.
Aita plans to send the harvested rice to each of the participants and have them give it a taste. “If people from the outside come visit the village, then it is bound to spark something eventually,” he said.
(Japanese original by Shuji Ozaki, Fukushima Bureau)

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

Fukushima tells world radiation is down, exports up after nuclear crisis

Japanese “sake” from Fukushima, anyone?
The governor of Fukushima was in NYC promoting their food products.
Promoting Fukushima foods is national policy of Japan. No other prefecture in Japan gets this kind of support. Here is a page from the official government’s site:

Fukushima Foods: Safe and Delicious: Six years have passed since the 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake, and the prefecture of Fukushima is making steady progress in its reconstruction and revitalization. Fukushima has long been famous for its agriculture, known since old times as one of Japan’s premier rice-growing regions, and also earning the nickname “The Fruit Kingdom.” Fukushima’s agriculture suffered drastically after the earthquake and the nuclear power accident that followed, but as a result of thorough safety measures implemented through national efforts, foods produced in Fukushima have been recognized as safe by the FAO (Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations), as well as by many individual countries, and the prefecture’s exports are increasing. Japan hopes that more and more people will enjoy the safe and delicious foods from Fukushima in the years to come.

 

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Fukushima Gov. Masao Uchibori speaks about the current conditions of Fukushima Prefecture on Wednesday at One World Trade Center in New York.
May 31, 2018
NEW YORK – Fukushima Gov. Masao Uchibori on Wednesday told the international community that the nuclear-crisis-hit prefecture is mostly decontaminated and that its food exports are picking up.
“Our consistent efforts over the seven years have borne fruit and recovery is underway,” Uchibori said at a news conference at One World Trade Center in New York, a site symbolizing the U.S. recovery from the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks.
He said the prefecture has completed decontamination work for 97 percent of its land after a magnitude-9.0 earthquake and tsunami on March 11, 2011, triggered reactor meltdowns at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant. The governor also said the size of evacuation zones has dropped to 3 percent of prefectural land from the peak of 12 percent.
“The radiation levels of the cities within the prefecture are now the same as any other major city in the world,” he said.
Although a stigma is still attached to Fukushima food products, exports in the year through this March stood at about 210 tons, eclipsing the pre-crisis level of roughly 150 tons in fiscal 2010, according to Uchibori.
Rice and peaches are being exported to countries including Malaysia and Vietnam and a store dealing in its local sake is opening in New York.
As of May 17, about 12,000 Fukushima residents were still under evacuation, according to the Reconstruction Agency. The decommissioning of the crippled nuclear power plant of Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings Inc. is expected to take 30 to 40 years.

June 5, 2018 Posted by | Fukushima 2018 | , , , , | Leave a comment

Fukushima-Daiichi radioactive particle release was significant says new research

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24 May 2018
Scientists say there was a significant release of radioactive particles during the Fukushima-Daiichi nuclear accident.
The researchers identified the contamination using a new method and say if the particles are inhaled they could pose long-term health risks to humans.
The new method allows scientists to quickly count the number of caesium-rich micro-particles in Fukushima soils and quantify the amount of radioactivity associated with these particles.
The research, which was carried out by scientists from Kyushu University, Japan, and The University of Manchester, UK, was published in Environmental Science and Technology.
In the immediate aftermath of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear accident, it was thought that only volatile, gaseous radionuclides, such as caesium and iodine, were released from the damaged reactors. However, in recent years it has become apparent that small radioactive particles, termed caesium-rich micro-particles, were also released. Scientists have shown that these particles are mainly made of glass, and that they contain significant amounts of radioactive caesium, as well as smaller amounts of other radioisotopes, such as uranium and technetium.
The abundance of these micro-particles in Japanese soils and sediments, and their environmental impact is poorly understood. But the particles are very small and do not dissolve easily, meaning they could pose long-term health risks to humans if inhaled.
Therefore, scientists need to understand how many of the micro-particles are present in Fukushima soils and how much of the soil radioactivity can be attributed to the particles. Until recently, these measurements have proven challenging.
The new method makes use of a technique that is readily available in most Radiochemistry Laboratories called Autoradiography. In the method, an imaging plate is placed over contaminated soil samples covered with a plastic wrap, and the radioactive decay from the soil is recorded as an image on the plate. The image from plate is then read onto a computer.
“We now need to push forward and better understand if caesium micro-particles are abundant throughout not only the exclusion zone, but also elsewhere in the Fukushima prefecture; then we can start to gauge their impact”. 
Dr Gareth Law
The scientists say radioactive decay from the caesium-rich micro particles can be differentiated from other forms of caesium contamination in the soil.
The scientists tested the new method on rice paddy soil samples retrieved from different locations within the Fukushima prefecture. The samples were taken close to (4 km) and far away (40 km) from the damaged nuclear reactors. The new method found caesium-rich micro-particles in all of the samples and showed that the amount of caesium associated with the micro-particles in the soil was much larger than expected.
Dr Satoshi Utsunomiya, Associate Professor at Kyushu University, Japan, and the lead author of the study says “when we first started to find caesium-rich micro-particles in Fukushima soil samples, we thought they would turn out to be relatively rare. Now, using this method, we find there are lots of caesium-rich microparticles in exclusion zone soils and also in the soils collected from outside of the exclusion zone”.
Dr Gareth Law, Senior Lecturer in Analytical Radiochemistry at the University of Manchester and an author on the paper, adds: “Our research indicates that significant amounts of caesium were released from the Fukushima Daiichi reactors in particle form.
“This particle form of caesium behaves differently to the other, more soluble forms of caesium in the environment. We now need to push forward and better understand if caesium micro-particles are abundant throughout not only the exclusion zone, but also elsewhere in the Fukushima prefecture; then we can start to gauge their impact”.
The new method can be easily used by other research teams investigating the environmental impact of the Fukushima Daiichi accident.
Dr Utsunomiya adds: “we hope that our method will allow scientists to quickly measure the abundance of caesium-rich micro-particles at other locations and estimate the amount of caesium radioactivity associated with the particles. This information can then inform cost effective, safe management and clean-up of soils contaminated by the nuclear accident”.
 
The paper, ‘Novel Method of Quantifying Radioactive Cesium-Rich Microparticles (CsMPs) in the Environment from the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant’ has been published in the journal of Environmental Science – DOI:10.1021/acs.est.7b06693
Energy is one of The University of Manchester’s research beacons – examples of pioneering discoveries, interdisciplinary collaboration and cross-sector partnerships that are tackling some of the biggest questions facing the planet. #ResearchBeacons

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

Radiation monitors in Fukushima to be scrapped after malfunctioning to the tune of ¥500 million a year

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May 21, 2018
The thousands of radiation-monitoring posts installed in Fukushima Prefecture after the 2011 nuclear crisis have malfunctioned nearly 4,000 times, sources said Sunday as the Nuclear Regulation Authority prepares to remove them after spending ¥500 million a year on repair costs.
“It’s all about the budget in the end. They can’t reuse the devices and there seem to be no concrete plans,” said Terumi Kataoka, a housewife in Aizuwakamatsu who formed a group of mothers to petition the NRA last month to keep the monitors in place. The NRA refused.
Around 3,000 of the monitors were installed in the wake of the triple core meltdown at the Fukushima No. 1 power plant following the March 2011 mega-quake and tsunami. The NRA, which operates the monitoring posts, plans to remove around 80 percent of them by the end of fiscal 2020 on the grounds that radiation levels in some areas have fallen and stabilized.
But the move is being viewed by some as an attempt to cut costs because the government is also looking to terminate its special budgetary account for rebuilding Tohoku by the same year.
Some municipalities and residents oppose scrapping the monitoring posts because they will no longer be able to gauge the risk to their health. They were installed in kindergartens, schools and other places to measure radiation in the air, according to the NRA.
But in the five years since the network was activated in fiscal 2013, the system has been plagued by problems including inaccurate readings and data-transmission failures. The tally of cases stands at 3,955.
Each time, the undisclosed makers of the device and security companies were called to fix it, costing the central government about ¥500 million a year.
In March, the NRA decided to remove about 2,400 of the monitoring posts from areas outside the 12 municipalities near the wrecked power plant and reuse some of them in the municipalities.
Local citizens’ groups have asked the NRA not to remove the monitoring posts until the plant, run by Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings Inc., is decommissioned. That project is expected to take decades.
Kataoka asked the NRA to disclose information on its plans to reuse the devices, but she was told no official documents on the plans had been drafted yet.
On Monday, Fukushima Gov. Masao Uchibori urged the central government to investigate the cause of the monitor malfunctions and take measures to address the issue.
“The accuracy of the system is important,” he said.
Safecast, a global volunteer-based citizen science organization formed in 2011 to monitor radiation from the Fukushima disaster, said some devices had to be replaced because they didn’t work or were not made to the required specifications. Many were placed in locations that had notably lower ambient radiation than their surroundings, and so were not adequately representative of the situation, it added.
“Removing the units seems like a huge step away from transparency,” said Azby Brown, lead researcher at Safecast.
Brown said the public will certainly view the move with suspicion and increasingly mistrust the government, while the continuity of the database is lost.

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

‘Global Consequences’ of Lethal Radiation Leak at Destroyed Japan Nuclear Plant

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May 4, 2018
Lethal levels of radiation have been observed inside Japan’s damaged Fukushima nuclear power plant. And they are arguably way higher than you suspect.
According to Tokyo Electric Power Company (Tepco), radiation levels of eight Sieverts per hour (Sv/h) have been discovered within the Fukushima nuclear power plant, which was destroyed after a massive earthquake and a tsunami in March 2011.
Tepco, the company that operated the plant and is now tasked with decommissioning it, reported the discovery after making observations in a reactor containment vessel last month.
Eight Sv/h of radiation, if absorbed at once, mean certain death, even with quick treatment. One Sv/h is likely to cause sickness and 5.5 Sv/h will result in a high chance of developing cancer.
While 8 Sv/h is deadly, outside of Fukushima’s Reactor Number 2 foundations of a much higher level of 42 Sv/h was detected.
A strange occurrence, and experts are still arguing what caused the discrepancy. One possible explanation is that cooling water washed radioactive material off debris, taking it somewhere else.
But here’s a truly terrifying catch: according to the report, Tepco highly doubts the new readings, because, as was discovered later, a cover was not removed from the robot-mounted measurement device at the time of the inspection, NHK World reports.
Exactly one year ago, Sputnik reported that Tepco engineers discovered absolutely insane levels of radiation of about 530 Sv/h within the reactor. Such levels of radiation would kill a human within seconds. By comparison, the Chernobyl reactor reads 34 Sv/h radiation level, enough to kill a human after 20 minutes of exposure.
The levels of radiation within Fukushima reactor number 2 were so high that Tepco’s toughest robot, designed to withstand 1000 Sv/h of radiation, had to be pulled out, as it started glitching due to high radiation levels. Nuclear experts called the radiation levels “unimaginable” at the time.
On November 2017, the New York Times and other news outlets reported a much smaller figure of 70 Sv/h of radiation, more or less on par with a 74 Sv/h reading gathered before an anomalous 530 Sv/h spike.
While that radiation dosimeter cover negligence prevents precise calculations, the actual picture inside Unit 2 is thought to be much worse.
Japanese state broadcaster NHK World quoted experts saying that if the cleaning of the stricken power plant is not properly addressed, it will result in major leak of radioactivity with “global” consequences.
Richard Black, director of the Energy and Climate Intelligence Unit, says that while the readings are not reliable, they still “demonstrate that, seven years after the disaster, cleaning up the Fukushima site remains a massive challenge — and one that we’re going to be reading about for decades, never mind years.”
Mycle Schneider, independent energy consultant and lead author of the World Nuclear Industry Status Report, criticized Tepco, saying the power company has “no clue” what it is doing.
“I find it symptomatic of the past seven years, in that they don’t know what they’re doing, Tepco, these energy companies, haven’t a clue what they’re doing, so to me it’s been going wrong from the beginning. It’s a disaster of unseen proportions.”
In observing the poor maintenance of plant radiation leaks, Schneider also pointed out that the company stores nuclear waste at the site in an inappropriate way.
“This is an area of the planet that gets hit by tornadoes and all kinds of heavy weather patterns, which is a problem. When you have waste stored above ground in inappropriate ways, it can get washed out and you can get contamination all over the place.”

May 5, 2018 Posted by | Fukushima 2018 | , , | Leave a comment

Stark health findings for Fukushima monkeys

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March 11, 2018
By Cindy Folkers
 
Seven years after the Fukushima, Japan nuclear disaster began, forcing evacuations of at least 160,000 people, research has uncovered significant health impacts affecting monkeys living in the area and exposed to the radiological contamination of their habitat.
 
Shin-ichi Hayama, a wild animal veterinarian, has been studying the Japanese macaque (Macaca fuscata), or snow monkey, since before the Fukushima nuclear disaster. Now, his research has shown that monkeys in Fukushima have significantly low white and red blood cell counts as well as a reduced growth rate for body weight and smaller head sizes.
 
Hayama, who began his macaque research in 2008, had access to monkeys culled by Fukushima City as a crop protection measure. He continued his work after the Fukushima nuclear explosions. As a result, he is uniquely positioned to discover how low, chronic radiation exposure can affect generations of monkeys.
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Japanese Macaque monkeys share close DNA with humans
The macaque is an old world monkey native to Japan, living in the coldest climates of all of the non-human primates. Like humans, macaques enjoy a good soak in the mountain hot springs in the region. It is even said that they have developed a “hot tub culture” and enjoy time at the pools to get warm during winter.
 
However, snow monkeys and humans share more than a love of hot springs. Human DNA differs from rhesus monkeys, a relative of the snow monkey, by just 7%. While that 7% can mean the difference between building vast cities to living unsheltered and outdoors, for basic processes like reproduction, these differences begin to fade. Consequently, what is happening to the macaques in Fukushima should send a warning about the implications for human health as well, and especially for evacuees now returning to a region that has been far from “cleaned up” to any satisfactory level.
 
Hayama’s research group has published two studies, each comparing data before and after the nuclear catastrophe began, and also between exposed and unexposed monkey populations. In a 2014 study, researchers compared monkeys from two regions of Japan, one group of monkeys from the Shimokita region, 400 Km north of Fukushima, and a second group of monkeys from contaminated land in Fukushima.
 
The monkeys in Fukushima had significantly low white and red blood cell counts. Other blood components were also reduced. The more a radioactive isotope called cesium was present in their muscles, the lower the white blood cell count, suggesting that the exposure to radioactive material contributed to the damaging blood changes. These blood levels have not recovered, even through 2017, meaning that this has become a chronic health issue.
 
Changes in blood are also found in people inhabiting contaminated areas around Chernobyl. Having a diminished number of white blood cells, which fight disease, can lead to a compromised immune system in monkeys as well as people, making both species unable to fight off all manner of disease.
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Some macaque babies in the Fukushima zone have smaller brains post nuclear disaster
Hayama followed up his 2014 study with another in 2017 examining the differences in monkey fetus growth before and after the disaster. The researchers measured fetuses collected between 2008 and 2016 from Fukushima City, approximately 70 km from the ruined reactors. Comparing the relative growth of 31 fetuses conceived prior to the disaster and 31 fetuses conceived after the disaster revealed that body weight growth rate and head size were significantly lower in fetuses conceived after the disaster. Yet, there was no significant difference in maternal nutrition, meaning that radiation could be responsible.
 
Smaller head size indicates that the fetal brain was developmentally retarded although researchers could not identify which part was affected. The mothers’ muscles still contained radioactive cesium as in the 2014 study, although the levels had decreased. These mothers had conceived after the initial disaster began, meaning that their fetuses’ health reflects a continuing exposure from environmental contamination. This study mirrors human studies around Chernobyl that show similar impacts as well as research from atomic bomb survivors. Studies of birds in Chernobyl contaminated areas show that they have smaller brains.
 
Although Hayama has approached radiation experts to aid with his research, he claims they have rejected it, saying they don’t have resources or time, preferring to focus on humans. But humans can remove themselves from contaminated areas, and many have chosen to stay away despite government policies encouraging return. Tragically, monkeys don’t know to leave, and relocating them is not under discussion, making study of radiation’s impact on their health vital to inform radiation research on humans, the environment, and any resettlement plans the government of Japan may have.
 
Hayama presented his work most recently as part of the University of Chicago’s commemoration of the 75th Anniversary of the first man-made controlled nuclear chain reaction. His work follows a long, important, and growing line of research demonstrating that radiation can not only damage in the obvious ways we have been told, but in subtle, yet destructive ways that were unexpected before. The implications for humans, other animals, and the environment, are stark.
 
Cindy Folkers is the radiation and health specialist at Beyond Nuclear.
 

March 15, 2018 Posted by | Fukushima 2018 | , , , | Leave a comment