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Court told ex-Tepco Execs were informed barriers could prevent tsunami flooding at Fukushima plant

Feb 28, 2018
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The devastated Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant is seen in this April 2011 file photo
 
An employee with a subsidiary of Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings Inc. testified in court Wednesday that the unit reported a need to install tide barriers to prevent flooding from a tsunami well before the March 2011 nuclear accident at Tepco’s Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant.
According to the worker, the Tepco unit produced an estimate in March 2008 on the basis of long-term assessments released by a government organization, saying that a tsunami could occur with a height of 15.7 meters, which is above ground level at the nuclear plant site.
The estimate was presented at a meeting in June the same year that was attended by Sakae Muto, a former Tepco vice president.
The worker testified during a hearing at the Tokyo District Court that the Tepco unit estimated the tsunami height to reflect the latest information on a possible massive earthquake off Fukushima Prefecture, home to the now-devastated nuclear plant.
After finding that the nuclear plant site was vulnerable to flooding, the subsidiary reported at the meeting that installing 10-meter tide barriers would provide protection from a tsunami, the worker said.
The worker gave the testimony as a witness in the trial of three former Tepco executives, including Muto, 67, who were indicted in February 2016 for allegedly neglecting to take measures against massive tsunami. A prosecution inquest panel comprising ordinary citizens has overruled decisions by public prosecutors twice not to charge the executives. In the indictment, they were charged with professional negligence resulting in death and injury over the accident.
Lawyers appointed by the district court to act as prosecutors have said that former Tepco Chairman Tsunehisa Katsumata, 77, and former Vice President Ichiro Takekuro, 67, were also informed of the tsunami estimates on separate occasions. The lawyers claimed that the three former Tepco executives could have foreseen that a massive tsunami might hit the nuclear power plant.
The former executives denied the claim during the first hearing in their trial in June 2017, saying that the company would have been unable to prevent the accident even if measures were taken based on the estimate.
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February 28, 2018 Posted by | Fukushima 2018 | , , , , | Leave a comment

TEPCO refused in 2002 to calculate possible tsunami hitting Fukushima: ex-gov’t official

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The No. 3 reactor at the Fukushima No. 1 Nuclear Power Plant is seen from a Mainichi Shimbun helicopter on Nov. 21, 2017
Tokyo Electric Power Co. (TEPCO), operator of the disaster-stricken Fukushima No. 1 Nuclear Power Plant, refused in 2002 to calculate the potential effects of tsunami in case of an earthquake off Fukushima Prefecture when a now-defunct nuclear watchdog told the utility to conduct an evaluation, the Mainichi Shimbun has learned.
A former safety screening division official of the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry’s Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency (NISA) told the Mainichi Shimbun on Jan. 29 that TEPCO did not accept the agency’s request even though the latter tried to convince the utility after the government released a long-term assessment report that a major earthquake could hit off the Pacific coast including areas off Fukushima Prefecture, possibly triggering massive tsunami. This is the first time that exchanges between the then nuclear agency and TEPCO following the release of the government report have come to light.
In July 2002, the government’s Headquarters for Earthquake Research Promotion released the long-term assessment report saying that an earthquake similar to the 1896 Sanriku Earthquake could hit off the Pacific from the northern Sanriku to Boso areas. The official held a hearing on TEPCO the following month as to whether the report would affect safety measures at the Fukushima No. 1 plant.
According to the official as well as the statement submitted by the government to the trial of a lawsuit filed by Fukushima nuclear evacuees against TEPCO and the state, NISA told the utility to calculate a possible earthquake-tsunami disaster off the coast from Fukushima to Ibaraki prefectures, pointing out that Tohoku Electric Power Co. had been considering conducting an assessment on areas quite far south. In response, TEPCO representatives showed reluctance, saying that the calculation would “take time and cost money” and that there was no reliable scientific basis in the assessment report. The TEPCO officials reportedly resisted for about 40 minutes on the matter. In the end, the agency accepted the utility’s decision to shelve the earthquake-tsunami estimate.
In 2006, NISA again requested TEPCO to prepare its nuclear plants for massive tsunami exceeding envisioned levels, but the company did not comply, before finally conducting a calculation in 2008. The utility concluded that waves up to a height of 15.7 meters could hit the Fukushima plant, but did not take measures according to the estimate.
The former nuclear agency official said as someone involved in the screening of earthquake resistant measures it was very unfortunate that the accident at the Fukushima plant occurred, but stopped short of commenting on the legitimacy of the agency’s handling of the matter, saying, “I can’t put it in words casually.”
The attorney representing Fukushima nuclear evacuees in the redress suit commented that the finding exposes the maliciousness of TEPCO, while also pointing to the responsibility of the central government. A TEPCO public relations official, meanwhile, said that the company would not comment on the matter because the trial was ongoing.

January 31, 2018 Posted by | Fukushima 2018 | , , , , | Leave a comment

Fulfilling duties to Fukushima must top list in TEPCO reform

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A new plan has recently been worked out for rehabilitating Tokyo Electric Power Co. Holdings Inc. (TEPCO), the embattled operator of the crippled Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant.

The plan is centered on a bold management reform for enhancing the utility’s earning capacity so it can cover the ballooning expenses related to the Fukushima nuclear disaster of 2011, including the payment of damages and the cost of scrapping the hobbled nuclear reactors.

TEPCO obviously has the duty to fulfill its responsibility to the people and communities affected by the disaster. But the plan has set profit targets that are anything but easy to achieve, and some of the components of the plan appear unlikely to be realizable any time soon.

There is a need to continue reviewing the plan so it will not end up as simply pie in the sky.

TEPCO came under de facto government ownership after it could no longer keep operating on its own as a result of the Fukushima nuclear meltdowns. The utility has since been paying damages and otherwise dealing with the aftermath of the disaster while receiving aid in various forms under government supervision.

It was learned late last year that post-disaster processing would cost twice as much as the previous estimate. The government worked out a framework, wherein about 16 trillion yen ($141 billion), out of the total expense of some 22 trillion yen, would be covered either by TEPCO or with profits from the sale of the government’s share in TEPCO.

The rehabilitation plan, which was revised in response thereto, envisages that TEPCO can come up with 500 billion yen in necessary expenses annually over the coming three decades. It also sets the goal of substantially increasing TEPCO’s profits.

Many questions linger, however.

A restart of the idled Kashiwazaki-Kariwa nuclear power plant in Niigata Prefecture, which is expected to be the key instrument for TEPCO’s turnaround, is unlikely to be feasible any time soon. The governor of Niigata Prefecture and others are growing increasingly distrustful of TEPCO, as it recently came to light that the company had failed to inform the government’s Nuclear Regulation Authority that one key building on the nuclear plant site is not sufficiently anti-seismic.

The first order of business is to take thorough safety measures. TEPCO should come up with ways for generating the necessary financial resources without relying on a restart of the nuclear plant.

The centerpiece of new measures for enhancing TEPCO’s earning capacity is a prospective reorganization of its operations along segment lines, such as in the field of power transmission and distribution and in nuclear power operations, which would also involve other utilities. That apparently came against the backdrop of the industry ministry’s hopes that TEPCO’s realignment will trigger a reform of the entire energy industry.

Other major electric utilities, however, are wary of the risk of having to play a part in TEPCO’s response to the nuclear disaster. It therefore remains uncertain whether the reorganization will actually take place as envisaged.

The framework for sharing the burdens of post-disaster processing, which the government has worked out as a precondition for the new plan, is in the first place ridden with problems.

The framework envisages that new entrants to the power supply market, who operate no nuclear reactors, will also have to pay part of the disaster response costs. Critics continue to argue such a plan is about passing the bill on to irrelevant parties.

The 4 trillion yen in radioactive cleanup fees are designated for being covered by profits on the sale of TEPCO shares. But that plan could fail unless TEPCO’s earnings were to expand and its share price were to grow significantly.

Using taxpayers’ money to fill the hole would then emerge as a realistic option.

TEPCO was allowed to stay afloat at the expense of taxpayers on the sole grounds that it bears heavy responsibility to the people and communities affected by the Fukushima disaster.

The government would have to take another step forward if TEPCO were unable to fulfill that responsibility. That would also fuel the argument for dismantling the embattled utility.

TEPCO is expected to soon make a fresh start under a reshuffled management. The utility and the government should not forget about the exacting eyes of the public.

http://www.asahi.com/ajw/articles/AJ201705150018.html

May 17, 2017 Posted by | Fukushima 2017 | , , , | Leave a comment

As I See It: Six years later, no time for TEPCO personnel squabbles

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Former Hitachi Ltd. chairman Takashi Kawamura, left, who will take the post of the next chairman of Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings Inc., and Tomoaki Kobayakawa, who has been tapped to be the next TEPCO Holdings president, are pictured here in Tokyo’s Chiyoda Ward on April 3, 2017.

Six years since the outbreak of the nuclear disaster at Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO) Holdings Inc.’s Fukushima nuclear plant, the utility still faces massive challenges. And yet, what I’ve come to see through my reporting is that efforts meant to help revitalize the company’s finances in order to secure the funds needed to bring the nuclear crisis under control and compensate victims, have been overshadowed by petty feuds over personnel appointments between executives dispatched by the central government — which effectively owns the company — and dyed-in-the-wool TEPCO employees. Rebuilding TEPCO will be impossible if such squabbles are not put to rest.

In March of this year, TEPCO announced an outline of its revitalization plans, with a restructuring of its nuclear power business as a central pillar, as well as a reshuffling of executive personnel. According to the announcement, chairman Fumio Sudo, 76, will be replaced by Takashi Kawamura, 77, the previous chairman at Hitachi Ltd., and president Naomi Hirose, 64, will be replaced by 53-year-old board director Tomoaki Kobayakawa.

After the nuclear crisis began in March 2011, TEPCO was effectively nationalized. The plan has been for TEPCO to increase its earning power by rebuilding its finances under the central government’s management, so that it could secure the funds necessary to decommission the reactors at Fukushima No. 1 Nuclear Power Plant and compensate victims of the disaster.

With the nationalization of TEPCO, the government swept the utility clean of all its old executives and in addition to placing bureaucrats from the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI) on the company’s board, in 2014 it put Sudo, formerly of major steel corporation JFE Holdings, in the position of TEPCO chairman. However, when Sudo, with the backing of the government, implemented cost-cutting measures, grumblings were heard within the company that Sudo was seeking too many results too fast and that staff evaluations were changing too dramatically. Sudo’s clashes with TEPCO president Hirose, who had worked up the ranks and was initially considered pro-reform, grew increasingly serious.

There was an incident in the spring of 2016 that could be considered a prelude to current conflicts. Sudo and METI, unhappy with the fact that Hirose would not cut his ties with former management, tried to re-appoint him to the post of deputy chairman. Hirose resisted and, according to multiple sources involved with TEPCO, was able to get the support of a former TEPCO executive who had close ties with the prime minister’s office. As a result, Hirose stayed in his post as company president, but his relationship with Sudo deteriorated beyond the point of repair. “It wasn’t uncommon for the two to criticize each other openly at management meetings,” a senior TEPCO official said.

At the end of 2016, METI announced that the amount of money necessary to deal with the nuclear crisis would be about 21.5 trillion yen, almost twice the amount of an earlier estimate. Because of the need to secure more funds, the government set up an expert panel, which then offered “recommendations” to TEPCO on how to rebuild its finances. When it was revealed that “the passing of authority down to the next generation” was one of the pieces of advice offered by the panel, industry insiders saw it as another government attempt at bringing Hirose down from his post, a source close to the case said.

Hirose is said to have resisted strongly to such renewed efforts. However, Sudo vowed that he would step down if Hirose did, forcing Hirose to bow to the pressure to resign. Some in the electric power industry have described the latest personnel reshuffle a “tie” in that both “camps” made concessions, but discontent is already spreading among career TEPCO employees. According to a senior TEPCO official, new executives, including Kobayakawa and the new president of a subsidiary company, are “all drinking buddies of outside board members who are former METI bureaucrats.”

TEPCO can’t afford to waste time on personnel feuds. In order to come up with the money needed to bring the troubled reactors under control, TEPCO must earn 500 billion yen per year for the next 30 years. The amount goes up further when taking into account the funds needed for capital investment. Meanwhile, TEPCO’s consolidated financial results for fiscal 2016 stood at just 258.6 billion yen in operating income.

TEPCO’s outline of its latest reorganization plan shows that it is aiming to raise earning power by realigning its various businesses, such as nuclear power, as well as the transmission and distribution of power, with other utilities. However, this plan is a carbon copy of the recommendations given by the government-established expert panel. Some long-time TEPCO employees have said the company only included the recommendation into its reorganization plan because the government has been on its back to do so, and that because other utilities will find no benefit to them in restructuring with TEPCO, the plan will never come to fruition. If people in the company remain this divided, TEPCO will never be able to follow through with rigorous reforms.

If TEPCO drops the ball on management reform and is unable to come up with the money it needs, it could lead to further burdens on the public in the form of higher electricity prices. TEPCO, under normal circumstances, would have gone under following the onset nuclear disaster. So if things go further south, not just the utility, but the central government, which allowed the utility to survive by pumping 1 trillion yen from national coffers into the company, will be held accountable.

Kawamura, who will be appointed TEPCO’s new chairman at the company’s general meeting of shareholders in late June, has the experience of having accomplished Hitachi’s v-shaped turnaround through fundamental management reforms. While his appointment was initiated by the government, many TEPCO employees welcome Kawamura’s pending appointment. The latest personnel change may be the last chance for TEPCO and the government to put its differences aside toward the goal of rebuilding the troubled power company.

Looking back at the latest personnel power struggle, a senior TEPCO official said, “I’m embarrassed when asked if any of the people involved (in the debacle) had ‘our responsibility toward Fukushima’ in mind.” The government and TEPCO must not forget its responsibility toward the victims of the nuclear disaster. If they focused on the fact that there are people out there whose peaceful lives in their beloved hometowns were taken away from them, they could refrain from feuds over personnel appointments. (By Daisuke Oka, Business News Department)

https://mainichi.jp/english/articles/20170512/p2a/00m/0na/014000c

May 17, 2017 Posted by | Fukushima 2017 | , , , | Leave a comment

Where is the Responsibility of the Government and TEPCO?

It is up to each individuals to a carry glass badge to measure and avoid the irradiation. It is up to them to choose food. Now it is up to them to treat the nuclear waste.

Where is the responsibility of the government and TEPCO?

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Special workshop to learn how to treat the waste resulting from the accident.
It takes only one day
No charge for the workshop and documents.

Open the black bags.
Separate the waste items.
Then break, burn or bury.

At Iwaki city: December 7th 2016
At Fukushima city: December 20th 2016
At Kôriyama city: January 24th 2017

Open to the people who:
Plan to return to the zone where the evacuation order has been or will be lifted or plan to get a job there;
Plan to get a job in 12 evacuated localities in the future ( Tamura city, Minamisoma city, Kawamata town, Hirono town , Naraha town, Tomioka town, Kawauchi village, Okuma town, Futaba town, Namie town, Katsurao village, Iitate village );
Plan to create firms in the 12 evacuated localities;
Are 18 years or older and;
Not belonging to a Yakuza organization

https://fkkoyou.net/seminar/detail.php?seminar=178

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

Canada activist found guilty of harassing scientists over Fukushima fallout

Dana Dunford has sensationalized on Youtube for lucrative reasons the Pacific ocean contamination from Fukushima to the American public, having found that making the buzz was quite a good mean to raise donations from people .
He did threaten  those scientists with physical violence on his Youtube videos, calling his fans to carry out “justice”.

Though those scientists studies and research depending on funding from government and corporations may be subjected to their influence, I do not believe that threats of violence are proper nor acceptable.

I personally believe that exaggeration, sensationalism, to not talk about insult and personal threat are absolutely counterproductive to our antinuclear cause.

Only truth will set us free from nuclear. Only stating facts with solid reliable proofs will help us to inform adequately the people to become able to get this dangerous, harmful, obsolete industry stopped. Furthermore, any wild exaggeration can be later used by the nuclear lobby to discredit our antinuclear cause, such as in this present occurence.

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Canada activist found guilty of harassing scientists over Fukushima fallout

A Canadian environmental activist who waged a sustained online campaign against two prominent marine scientists was found guilty of criminal harassment by a court in Victoria, British Columbia, on Thursday.

The court heard that Dana Durnford, 54, threatened violence against Jay Cullen, of the University of Victoria, and Ken Buesseler, of Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution in Massachusetts, and accused them of underplaying the extent of damage to Pacific ecosystems from the 2011 Fukushima disaster.

Durnford was sentenced to three years’ probation.

I expected and was pleased with the judge’s ruling,” Cullen said after the verdict. “Mr. Durnford, on many occasions, threatened physical violence against scientists and others who have focused their attention and expertise to better understand how the Fukushima nuclear disaster has affected the marine environment and human health. Such behavior is criminal.”

Buesseler also welcomed the ruling. Threatening violence is “never an appropriate response to scientific findings you might disagree with,” he said.

Durnford, a former professional diver, has a large online presence.

His unscripted videos, recorded in a mock television studio, present what he purports to be research that contradicts mainstream scientific findings.

He alleges collusion between the global scientific establishment and the nuclear industry over the dangers presented by the nuclear industry and, in particular, the Fukushima debacle.

Durnford, of Powell River, British Columbia, did not respond to phone calls and an email for comment on Friday.

In a video apparently recorded shortly before the trial began this week, he alluded to trouble meeting court-related costs.

They bankrupted us in these court proceedings in order to silence us,” he told viewers.

http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2016/09/23/national/crime-legal/canada-activist-found-guilty-harassing-scientists-fukushima-fallout/#.V-WGbK3KO-c

 

 

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

Didn’t TEPCO betray Fukushima residents by not saying ‘meltdown’?

Was Tokyo Electric Power Co. (now Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings, Inc.) putting top priority on ensuring the safety of residents around its Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant when the accident occurred? The findings of a recent probe have raised doubts even about this.

A third-party panel of lawyers set up by TEPCO released a report on why it took as long as two months after the crisis for the utility to acknowledge that the reactors had melted down.

On March 14, 2011, three days after the accident occurred following the massive earthquake and tsunami, then TEPCO President Masataka Shimizu instructed a then executive vice president during a press conference “not to use” the word “meltdown,” according to the report. The message was delivered via a public relations staffer, citing instructions from the Prime Minister’s Office, the report said.

Subsequently, TEPCO used the description “core damage” in connection with the accident. “The nuclear power plant and the head office shared a recognition that they should refrain from using ‘meltdown,’” the report pointed out.

Then Prime Minister Naoto Kan and then Chief Cabinet Secretary Yukio Edano have completely denied issuing such instructions on their own.

At the time of the accident, many politicians, bureaucrats and others concerned were working at the Prime Minister’s Office. The third-party probe failed to identify who gave the instructions to Shimizu.

This shows the limitations that the third-party panel faced as it probed the accident based only on interviews it conducted with TEPCO officials. Furthermore, Shimizu’s memories of those days were vague.

However, the probe revealed that TEPCO was paying too much attention to the Prime Minister’s Office’s intentions in responding to the accident.

Operator holds responsibility

When a nuclear power plant is hit by a serious accident, residents living around the facility face severe consequences. It is the primary responsibility of the plant operator to respond appropriately.

In such a situation, the highest priority should be placed on the safety of local residents. The operator must accurately provide local governments and residents with precise and necessary information regarding the situation the power plant is facing.

TEPCO chose to use “core damage,” an expression that made the status of the accident unclear, instead of “meltdown,” even though “meltdown” would have clearly shown the severity of the developments the Fukushima plant was dealing with. The operator cannot avoid criticism for having betrayed local residents with this decision. This kind of stance taken by the utility has caused increasing distrust of nuclear power plants.

At the time of the accident, TEPCO had internal manuals that described what constituted a meltdown. The operator must seriously reflect on why it failed to follow these guidelines.

When it came to public relations announcements at the time of the accident, the investigation committees set up by the government and the Diet both pointed out that the Prime Minister’s Office had some involvement.

An official at the then Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency of the Economy, Trade and Industry Ministry was replaced after referring to a “meltdown” during a press conference. TEPCO was told by the Prime Minister’s Office to brief it in advance of any announcements made at press conferences, according to the latest report.

The Niigata prefectural government, whose administrative area is home to TEPCO’s Kashiwazaki-Kariwa nuclear power plant, has called for uncovering the whole process of how information was manipulated, saying this is a prerequisite for reactivating reactors at Kashiwazaki-Kariwa. The government cannot help but cooperate with the probe.

http://www.the-japan-news.com/news/article/0003026750

June 20, 2016 Posted by | Fukushima 2016 | , , , | Leave a comment

“TEPCO reveals only handful knew meltdown manual existed”

Too Late…

Although a manual existed that outlined the criteria for a meltdown, Tokyo Electric Power Co. admitted that only five or so employees at its main office knew of it at the onset of the 2011 nuclear crisis.

Those employees belonged to a section that manages the manual at the company’s Tokyo headquarters, TEPCO said at a news conference on May 30.

The utility has been under fire for the delay in acknowledging in May 2011 that triple meltdowns took place at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant, two months after they actually occurred following the Great East Japan Earthquake and tsunami.

TEPCO had maintained that the reactors at the plant suffered “core damage,” rather than more serious meltdowns.

Explaining the delay, the company initially cited a lack of guidelines for determining a meltdown.

But TEPCO admitted in February this year that the company manual did contain entries defining a meltdown, although the company said it was unaware of the descriptions for the past five years. The criteria requires the company to declare a meltdown when damage to a reactor core passes 5 percent.

Takafumi Anegawa, chief nuclear officer with TEPCO, told the news conference that a third-party panel will investigate why it took the company five years to disclose the existence of the manual.

In April, a TEPCO senior official admitted that he knew of the criteria when the crisis was unfolding at the plant.

http://www.asahi.com/ajw/articles/AJ201605310068.html

 

May 31, 2016 Posted by | Fukushima 2016 | , , , , | Leave a comment

Opinion: Tokyo’s handling of Fukushima aftermath lacks responsibility

BEIJING, May 23 (Xinhua) — In the story of one famous Chinese idiom, a man plugs his ears while trying to steal a bell, foolishly believing that by doing so others won’t hear the sound of the bell when it is moved away.

Of course they do, and he gets caught.

The cautionary tale of burying one’s head in the sand aptly applies to the handling of the Fukushima incident by the Japanese government, which has chosen to turn a deaf ear to the aftermath of the worst nuclear accident in decades triggered by quake-related Tsunami five years ago.

Tokyo’s irresponsible attitudes and acts such as speeding up the return of displaced residents to some nuclear disaster-affected areas of Fukushima Prefecture and reluctance to share relevant information, have sparked doubt and anger domestically and internationally.

A joint opinion poll conducted by The Asahi Shimbun, a national daily, and the Fukushima local press in 2015 showed that over 70 percent of the Fukushima residents were unsatisfied with the government’s response.

In an editorial published on the fifth anniversary of the Fukushima nuclear accident, French newspaper “Le Monde” said the government of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is “eager to turn over the page of Fukushima” and has shown a “willingness to forget.”

On March 11, 2011, a 9.0-magnitude earthquake struck Japan’s eastern coast and triggered a 15-meter tsunami that crippled the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant and sent its nuclear reactors into meltdown. The nuclear disaster was the worst since the Chernobyl incident in 1986.

As a result, up to 120,000 Japanese were relocated as “nuclear refugees” from the region.

A 2015 research found that children living near the Fukushima nuclear facilities are significantly up to 50 times more likely to develop thyroid cancer compared to those children living elsewhere in Japan.

Data on radiation levels collected by Japanese volunteers near the Daiichi nuclear power plant is 8 to 10 times higher than the official number.

At least 300 tons of radiation-contaminated underground water kept pouring into the ocean each day in 2013, but Abe, then vying for Tokyo’s right to host the Olympics, claimed that nuclear contamination was “totally under control.”

Questions over the Fukushima aftermath have never ceased to pop up.

The International Society for Environmental Epidemiology, a global organization, sent a message to the Japanese government this January expressing worry over the high incidence of thyroid cancer among children in the Fukushima region and offering as a professional organization to support the investigation on this matter.

The Japanese government, however, gracefully declined the offer.

The lack of transparency and independent investigation has led to limited access to information about the accident, one of the only two level-seven nuclear disasters according to the international nuclear watchdog.

Tokyo’s approach shows a weak sense of responsibility and the intention to avoid political pressure ahead of the G7 summit later this week and the 2020 Olympic Games.

Japan is concerned with its national image, food security, tourism, nuclear policy, medical compensation and possibility of public lawsuits. But not single one of them should be the country’s excuse for preventing the post-disaster situation from being known to the public.

Given the scale and impact of the Fukushima nuclear disaster, there is no ground for Tokyo to stay secretive and evasive over the handling of the issue.

The international community should urge the Japanese government, if it sticks to the passive attitude, to make public relevant information and its post-disaster management.

The selective amnesia over a disaster out of political or any other purposes is even more terrifying than the disaster itself. Tokyo owes an explanation to the world.

http://news.xinhuanet.com/english/2016-05/23/c_135381193.htm

May 24, 2016 Posted by | Fukushima 2016 | , , , , | Leave a comment

Let Japanese Officials Eat Isotopes To Atone For Fukushima

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Despite the Fukushima and Chernobyl disasters, nuclear energy continues to thrive. Pictured: Fukushima shortly after the disaster.

How Japanese Officials Can Atone for Fukushima

Let them eat isotopes.

The meltdowns and release of radiation from the Fukushima Daaichi nuclear power plant has been an ongoing crisis for five years. Nuclear engineer Koide Hiroaki has been one of the most trenchant critics of how the Japanese government and power company TEPCO (mis)handled the disaster. In a wide-ranging interview at Counterpunch, he offered a way for officials, who have gone unpunished, to atone.

Right now the people of Fukushima have been abandoned in the areas of the highest levels of radiation. And abandoned people have to find a way to live. Farmers produce agricultural goods, dairy farmers produce dairy products, and ranchers produce meat; these people must do so in order to live. They are not the ones to be blamed at all.

As the Japanese state is absolutely unreliable in this matter, these people have no choice but to go on producing food in that place, all the while suffering further exposure. So I don’t think we can throw out the food they produce there under those conditions. Inevitably someone has to consume that food.

Certainly not the residents of the Fukushima area. Hiroaki has a better idea.

We should serve all of the most heavily contaminated food at say the employee cafeteria at TEPCO or in the cafeteria for Diet members [Japanese parliament] in the Diet building. But that isn’t nearly enough. We must carefully inspect the food, and once we’ve determined what foods have what levels of contamination, once that is fully measured and delineated, then those who have the corresponding levels of responsibility should eat it, should be given it.

He’s serious.

I am aware that this is a controversial proposal, but each one of us, especially those who built post-war Japan, bears responsibility for allowing our society to heavily dependent on nuclear energy without carefully reflecting on the risks and consequences of it. And more importantly, we have the responsibility for protecting children.

Even after Chernobyl and Fukushima, nuclear energy thrives. Especially in Russia and China, where they are planning to build floating nuclear energy plants. Huh? From CNN on April 28:

China is planning to build nuclear reactors that will take to the sea to provide power in remote locations. … These small power plants will be built in Chinese shipyards, mounted on large sea-going barges, towed to a remote place where power is needed and connected to the local power grid, or perhaps oil rig.

China has 20 planned; Russia seven. Never mind how much the costs would cascade if another disaster occurs. In January 2014, at Warscapes magazine, I wrote that it was difficult to understand how the advocates of nuclear power can continue to block out the risk of major accidents, especially when they are fresh in our memory.:

Fukushima has just occurred before the world has gotten over the last one, Chernobyl. What if another accident occurs while we’re still knee-deep in cleaning up and bearing the costs of Fukushima, and maybe even still Chernobyl? Casualties and damage to the environment aside for the moment, how can nations afford this? Come to think of it, how do nuclear-power companies afford it, yet continue to forge ahead?

To answer the last question: state subsidies to build nuclear energy plants. Also, of course, much of the cost of cleaning up after an accident is, as you would expect, offloaded to the state and its citizens. Bailing out the nuclear energy is of a piece with bailing out the banks.

http://fpif.org/japanese-officials-can-atone-fukushima/

 

May 4, 2016 Posted by | Fukushima 2016 | , , , | Leave a comment

Defunct government agency exempted from indictment over Fukushima crisis

A panel has upheld a decision by prosecutors not to indict three former senior officials of the Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency over the Fukushima crisis. The agency was responsible for nuclear safety at the time of the accident and has since been dissolved.

The decision by the Tokyo No. 1 Committee for the Inquest of Prosecution, dated April 14, means that the agency is effectively absolved of criminal responsibility for one of the world’s worst nuclear disasters.

The three were accused of professional negligence resulting in death and injury. They include Yoshinori Moriyama, NISA’s former deputy director general for nuclear accident measures.

Tsunami waves flooded the plant on March 11, 2011, knocking out power supplies and causing three reactors to melt down.

The 11-member panel concluded that it was impossible for Moriyama and the two others to foresee that 10-meter-high waves would strike.

Three former Tepco executives, including then Chairman Tsunehisa Katsumata, 76, were indicted in February based on a decision by another committee that examined a prior decision by prosecutors not to lay charges.

Under the revised inquest of prosecution law, which took effect in May 2009, criminal charges are filed if a minimum of eight members of the judicial panel vote in favor of indictment in two consecutive rulings.

NISA was scrapped in September 2012 as the nation revamped its nuclear regulatory setup following the Fukushima crisis. Critics accused the agency of lacking teeth because it was under the umbrella of the pro-nuclear Economy, Trade and Industry Ministry and therefore was seen as hand in glove with the nuclear industry.

http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2016/04/29/national/defunct-government-agency-exempted-from-indictment-over-fukushima-crisis/#.VyUwlmPHyis

May 1, 2016 Posted by | Fukushima 2016 | , , , | Leave a comment