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The danger of sourcing food and material from the Fukushima region

Ground-level nuclear disasters leave much more radioactive fallout than Tokyo is willing to admit
 A storage tank for contaminated water near the site of the Fukushima nuclear disaster
August 25, 2019
International concerns are growing over the Japanese government’s plans to provide meals from the Fukushima area to squads participating in the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. The starting point for the Olympic torch relay, and even the baseball stadium, were placed near the site of the Fukushima Nuclear Power Plant. It seems to be following the model of the Tokyo Olympics in 1964, where Japan’s rise from the ashes of the atomic bombs was underscored by having a young man born the day of the Hiroshima bombing act serve as the relay’s last runner. Here we can see the Shinzo Abe administration’s fixation on staging a strained Olympic reenactment of the stirring Hiroshima comeback – only this time from Fukushima.
But in terms of radiation damages, there is a world of difference between Hiroshima and Fukushima. Beyond the initial mass casualties and the aftereffects suffered by the survivors, the atomic bombing of Hiroshima resulted in little additional radiation exposure. Nuclear technology being as crude as it was back then, only around one kilogram of the Hiroshima bomb’s 64kg of highly enriched uranium actually underwent any reaction, resulting in a relatively small generation of nuclear fission material.
Whereas ground-based nuclear testing results in large quantities of radioactive fallout through combining with surface-level soil, the Hiroshima bomb exploded at an altitude of 580m, and the superheated nuclear fission material rose up toward the stratosphere to spread out around the planet, so that the amount of fallout over Japan was minimal.
Even there, most of the nuclides had a short half-life (the amount of time it takes for half the total atoms in radioactive material to decay); manganese-56, which has a half-life of three hours, was the main cause of the additional radiation damages, which were concentrated during the day or so just after the bomb was dropped. The experience of Nagasaki was similar. As a result, both Hiroshima and Nagasaki were able to fully resume as functioning cities by the mid-1950s without additional decontamination efforts.
Piles of plastic bags containing contaminated soil and other waste, a common site in the Fukushima region
Fukushima’s radiation increases over time
The Fukushima disaster did not result in mass casualties, but the damages from radiation have only increased over time. The nuclear power plants experiencing core meltdowns had the equivalent of around 12 tons of highly enriched uranium in nuclear fuel – roughly 12,000 times more than the amount of uranium that underwent nuclear fission in the Hiroshima bomb. At one point, the Japanese government announced that Fukushima released 168 times more cesium than the Hiroshima bomb. But even that was merely a difference in emissions; there’s an immeasurable difference between the amount of fallout from Hiroshima, which was left over from a total spread out over the planet at a high altitude, and the amount from Fukushima, which was emitted at ground level.
Hiroshima also experienced little to no exposure to cesium-137 and strontium-90 – nuclides with half-lives of around 30 years that will continue to afflict Japan for decades to come. Due to accessibility issues, most of the forests that make up around 70% of Fukushima’s area have been left unaddressed. According to Japanese scholars, around 430 square kilometers of forest was contaminated with high concentrations of cesium-137. The danger of this forest cesium is that it will be carried toward residential or farm land by wind and rain, or that contaminated flora and fauna will be used in processing and distribution. Indeed, cedar wood from Fukushima remains in distribution in the region, and was even shipped off recently to serve as construction material for the Tokyo Olympics. Meanwhile, the incidence of thyroid cancer in children – a rare condition – has risen all the way from one to two cases before the incident to 217 in its wake. Yet the Abe administration has only impeded a study by physicians, using various government-controlled Fukushima-related investigation committees as vehicles for sophistry and controlling media reporting on the issue.
Seok Kwang-hoon, energy policy consultant of Green Korea
Abe administration hoping to cut costs in nuclear waste disposal
The economic consequences have been astronomical as well. From an expert group’s analysis, the Japan Center for Economic Research estimated that the 14 million tons of radioactive waste from collecting Fukushima’s cesium-contaminated soil would result in a financial burden of 20 trillion yen (US$187.98 billion) based on the acceptance costs at the Rokkasho-mura radioactive waste disposal center. Contaminated water from the Fukushima Nuclear Power Plant – which already amounts to 1.2 million tons and is expected to increase to 2 million – was predicted to cost fully 51 trillion yen (US$479.35 billion) in tritium and strontium removal costs alone. Factor in the 10 trillion yen (around US$94 billion) in resident compensation, and the amount is close to the Japanese government’s total annual budget. Hoping to cut costs, the Abe administration announced plans to reuse soil waste in civil engineering, while the contaminated water is expected to be dumped into the Pacific after the formalities of a discussion. But few if any Japanese news outlets have been doing any investigative reporting on the issue.
When Abe declared the situation “under control” during the Olympic bidding campaign in 2013, this truthfully amounted to a gag order on the press and civil society. Having the world’s sole experience of filing and winning a World Trade Organization (WTO) case on Fukushima seafood, South Korea may be in the best position to alert the world to the issue of radioactivity and the Tokyo Olympics. I look forward to seeing efforts from the administration.
By Seok Kwang-hoon, energy policy consultant of Green Korea

September 1, 2019 Posted by | fukushima 2019 | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Controversy over radiation and heat surrounding Tokyo Olympics

156577137108_20190815.JPGAnti-nuclear demonstrators concerned about radiation during the Tokyo 2020 Olympics hold a press conference to criticize the Abe administration’s effort to push through the Olympics despite safety concerns in front of the former Japanese Embassy in Seoul on Aug. 13.




Sports are sports. They are separate from politics.”

On Aug. 13, an official from the Korean Sport & Olympic Committee expressed concern in response to remarks in political circles that hinted at a boycott of the 2020 Tokyo Olympics (July 24 – August 9). With participation rights still to be earned in many disciplines and numerous athletes who have eagerly awaited the Olympics for four years, these remarks are looking too far ahead. It has been pointed out that a more strategic approach needs to be adopted in light of the position of North and South Korea, who are considering making a joint bid to host the 2032 Olympics.

Safety from radiation and heat at the Tokyo Olympics

Most of the issues related to the upcoming Tokyo Olympics, which are now only a year away, boil down to safety concerns over radiation and extreme heat. Some baseball and softball matches are scheduled to be held in a stadium located close to the Fukushima nuclear reactor that took direct damage during the 2011 earthquake. Korean civic groups have also pointed out that the Japanese government has failed to properly control water contaminated by radiation from the reactor. Plans to source some of the rice and ingredients for the Tokyo Olympics Athletes Village from Fukushima are adding to these concerns. Although the level of radiation measured in such rice is within the acceptable standards in Japan, it is believed to exceed Korean standards.

Extreme heat is another potential issue. After an open water test competition in Odaiba Seaside Park, Tokyo, on Aug. 11, Sports Nippon reported, “Many athletes complained about a foul odor and the high water temperature, and one male athlete made the shocking claim that it ‘smelled like a toilet.’” Although the Olympic Committee did not reveal the water temperature on that day, it has been reported that the temperature was 29.9 degrees Celsius at 5am. The International Swimming Federation (FINA) cancels events if the water temperature reaches 31 degrees Celsius. There have also been warnings about road races. On August 8, Yusuke Suzuki, Japan’s star race-walker and world record holder in the men’s 20km, stated, “I tried training on the Tokyo Olympics race-walking course. There was no shade, so it could cause dehydration.”

Tokyo Olympics delegation heads meeting from Aug. 20-22

It appears that the issue of safety from radiation and concerns about food ingredients will be conveyed during the upcoming three-day meeting with the leaders of each country’s delegation in Tokyo on Aug. 20-22, and a request will be made to the Japanese Olympic Committee to change the name of Dokdo used on maps. If the representatives from each country do raise the radiation issue, the IOC will have no choice but to intervene. The Korean Sport & Olympic Committee is also considering providing separate Korean food to Korean athletes through specially prepared meals or lunchboxes.

With Korea seeking to hold a joint Olympics in 2032 between the two Koreas, the country has no choice but to underscore the fact that the Olympics are a festival of peace. Korea is also mindful of the fact that it must avoid giving off any impression of trying to use the Olympics for political reasons.

Getting over our obsession with medals

The 2020 Tokyo Olympics come at a time when Korea is attempting to implement reforms through policies in order to shake off the country’s obsession with winning in elite sports. Plans to reform the special benefits afforded to athletes such as pensions and exemption from military service are already under discussion, and it is also true that the morale of elite athletes is different than it has been in the past. It has been pointed out that while achieving victory in competition is great, excessive competition for medals does not align with current trends. Ryu Tae-ho, a professor of physical education at Korea University, stated, “It is natural that athletes will work hard to reach the pinnacle on the international stage, and the Korean public has become more mature to the extent that we can applaud athletes when they do their best as Olympians, even if they fail to win a medal. It is also best to avoid connecting sports with politics.”

August 22, 2019 Posted by | fukushima 2019 | , , | Leave a comment

The nuclear establishment cannot be trusted on radiation

“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

Oi nuclear Plant ‘Safe’ to Operate

A plaintiff and a lawyer hold signs on July 4 criticizing a ruling by the Nagoya High Court’s Kanazawa branch that nullified an injunction intended to halt operations at the Oi nuclear plant in Fukui Prefecture.

Court overturns injunction, says Oi nuclear plant safe to operate

KANAZAWA–A high court branch here overturned a lower court order to halt operations of two reactors at a nuclear plant in Fukui Prefecture, saying it poses no tangible danger to residents there.
“The danger is within negligible levels in light of social norms,” Presiding Judge Masayuki Naito of the Nagoya High Court’s Kanazawa branch said on July 4, nullifying an injunction against Kansai Electric Power Co., operator of the Oi nuclear plant.
Plaintiffs sought the injunction to block the restarts of the No. 3 and No. 4 reactors at the plant in Oi. They argued that dangers from the plant violated their right to protect their lives and sustain their livelihood.
The Fukui District Court sided with the plaintiffs in 2014, saying the plant was not thoroughly prepared to withstand a powerful earthquake.
The district court focused more on whether a tangible danger existed that could result in a serious accident similar to the one that hit Tokyo Electric Power Co.’s Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant in March 2011, not on the Nuclear Regulation Authority’s decision to clear the Oi reactors for operations.
However, the high court said its decision was based on whether the NRA’s new safety regulations were appropriate, and whether the watchdog’s assessment that the two Oi reactors passed the safety regulations was reasonable.
The stricter regulations took effect in July 2013 based on lessons learned from the Fukushima nuclear disaster.
“They were established by incorporating the latest scientific and technological expertise,” the high court said of the new standards.
The court supported both the NRA’s regulations and its decision to clear the No. 3 and 4 reactors as meeting the requirements.
Kunihiko Shimazaki, a seismologist and a former NRA member, raised doubts about the safety of the plant as a witness in the court proceedings.
He said the NRA’s current formula for calculating the scope of sway in an earthquake may have underestimated the expected maximum shaking from a powerful earthquake that could strike the plant.
The high court rejected Shimazaki’s argument.
“The extent of the maximum shaking was not underestimated because (the calculations) used an active geological fault zone larger than it should be in reality to provide an extra safety cushion,” the judge said.
The court also supported the NRA’s decision that the Oi reactors meet the new regulations concerning measures against tsunami and volcanic eruptions.
As for evaluating the soundness of nuclear power generation, the court said that is not its role.
“It will be possible to abolish and ban the operation of nuclear power plants in light of the grave consequences of the Fukushima nuclear disaster, but judging on the issue goes beyond the jurisdiction of the judiciary,” the court said. “(The nuclear issue) should be widely debated by the public and left to a political judgment.”


July 8, 2018 Posted by | Japan | , | Leave a comment