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TEPCO plans to use new foreign workers at Fukushima plant

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Rows of storage tanks hold radiation-contaminated water on the grounds of the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant.
April 18, 2019
Tokyo Electric Power Co. plans to use the new visa program to deploy foreign workers to its crippled Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant, sparking concerns that language barriers could cause safety hazards and accidents.
The specified skills visa program started in April to alleviate labor shortages in 14 different industrial sectors. TEPCO says it has long lacked enough workers for decommissioning work at the Fukushima nuclear plant.
At a March 28 meeting, the utility explained its plan to hire foreign workers to dozens of construction and other companies that have been contracted for decommissioning work.
TEPCO officials asked the companies to be aware that workers sent to radiation monitoring zones must wear dosimeters and receive special education about the dangers they will face.
The new work visa program requires the foreign workers to have a minimum level of Japanese language ability needed for daily life.
But TEPCO officials reminded the company representatives that Japanese language skills would be even more important at the Fukushima plant because of the need to accurately understand radiation levels and follow instructions by superiors and colleagues regarding work safety.
TEPCO officials said they would ask the contracting companies to check on the Japanese language skills of prospective foreign workers.
But at least one construction company has already decided not to hire any foreign workers.
“The work rules at the No. 1 plant are very complicated,” said a construction company employee who has worked at the Fukushima plant. “I am also worried about whether thorough education can be conducted on radiation matters. It would be frightening if an accident occurred due to a failure of communication.”
According to TEPCO officials, an average of about 4,000 people work at the nuclear plant each day, mostly in zones where radiation levels must be constantly monitored.
To stay within the legal limits on exposure levels, workers often have to be replaced, leading to difficulties for TEPCO in gathering the needed number of workers.
Between April 2018 and February this year, 11,109 people worked at the Fukushima plant. Of that number, 763 were found to have levels of radiation exposure between 10 and 20 millisieverts, while 888 had levels between 5 and 10 millisieverts.
The legal limit for radiation exposure for workers at nuclear plants is 50 millisieverts a year, and 100 millisieverts over a five-year period.
The Justice Ministry has disciplined companies that used technical intern trainees for decontamination work without adequately informing them of the dangers. The ministry has also clearly stated that such trainees are prohibited from doing decommissioning work at the Fukushima plant.
However, Justice Ministry officials told TEPCO that foreigners with the new visa status could work alongside Japanese staff at the nuclear plant.
Although their numbers are small, foreign workers and engineers have been accepted at the Fukushima plant. As of February, 29 foreigners had been registered as workers engaged in jobs that expose them to radiation.
A construction company official said such foreign workers were hired after their Japanese language ability was confirmed.
But concerns remains on whether the new foreign workers will be able to properly understand how much radiation exposure they have experienced.
“Even Japanese workers are not sure about how to apply for workers’ compensation due to radiation exposure,” said Minoru Ikeda, 66, who has published a book about his experiences in decommissioning work at the Fukushima plant until 2015. “The problem would only be exacerbated for foreign workers.”
Kazumi Takagi, a sociology professor at Gifu University, has conducted interviews with nuclear plant workers.
Noting the need for special protective gear to work at the Fukushima site, Takagi said: “Unless workers can instantly understand the language when minor mistakes or sudden problems occur, it could lead to a major accident. That, in turn, could cause major delays in the work.”
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April 23, 2019 Posted by | fukushima 2019 | , , | 1 Comment

TEPCO, despite financial woes, still thinking to make donations

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March 30, 2019
Saddled with massive outlays following the 2011 Fukushima nuclear disaster, the parent company of Tokyo Electric Power Co. is only able to keep going through the injection of public funds.
Yet, it has emerged the company now feels it is in a position to donate about 200 million yen ($1.8 million) to a village in Aomori Prefecture through a special tax program that allows firms making payments to receive a corporate tax break.
The donations would underwrite the cost of three projects totaling 800 million yen that the village of Higashidori hopes will revitalize its economy. One program is for branding local farm and fishery products.
TEPCO gained approval in January 2011 to construct a nuclear power plant in Higashidori, and the initial plan was to begin operations in March 2017.
But the Great East Japan Earthquake and tsunami that triggered the disaster at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant led to an indefinite postponement of construction work. The village had anticipated property tax revenues after the nuclear plant was constructed, but has had to undertake stiff fiscal belt-tightening instead. A number of inns in the village have since closed.
TEPCO Holdings on March 29 proposed the donation for fiscal 2018 to the village and also indicated it was prepared to make another donation for fiscal 2019.
Its largesse is at odds with the fact that TEPCO is effectively under state control, given the huge amounts of public funds pumped into the utility to keep it afloat.
It also faces crippling costs in decommissioning the stricken Fukushima plant and compensating victims of the nuclear accident.
Given the situation, eyebrows will likely be raised if donations are made to local municipalities that play host to nuclear plants seeking to resume operations or serve as candidate sites for new plants.
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March 31, 2019 Posted by | Japan | , , | Leave a comment

Japan gov’t, TEPCO again ordered to pay compensation to Fukushima evacuees

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TOKYO, March 26 (Xinhua) — A Japanese court on Tuesday ordered the government and Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings Inc. (TEPCO) to pay damages to 23 people who were forced to evacuate from their hometowns due to the 2011 nuclear disaster at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant.
The Matsuyama District Court handed down the ruling on Tuesday and awarded damages to 23 of the 25 plaintiffs who had evacuated from Fukushima to Ehime Prefecture in the wake of the nuclear crisis.
The plaintiffs had been seeking compensation amounting to a combined 137.5 million yen (1.24 million U.S. dollars) in damages.
The court, however, ordered the government and TEPCO to pay combined damages of just 27 million yen (244,750 U.S. dollars).
… The court’s ruling was the 10th among 30 similar suits filed across Japan against both the government and TEPCO.
Among similar cases already adjudicated, TEPCO was ordered to pay damages to plaintiffs in nine of them.
The government along with TEPCO have been found liable in five of the similar cases.
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March 31, 2019 Posted by | fukushima 2019 | , , | Leave a comment

Japan’s Tepco fights for return to nuclear power after Fukushima

47833742_401.jpgThe Kashiwazaki-Kariwa plant’s coastal location leaves it open to tsunamis

 

March 11, 2019

Eight years after the accident in Fukushima, preparations are underway to restart the Kashiwazaki-Kariwa nuclear power plant operated by Tepco. But residents fear a second disaster.

Decades ago, nuclear power was supposed to be the perfect solution for Japan’s thirst for energy and for its rural economies. And in the sleepy town of Kashiwazaki, in the prefecture next to Fukushima, the solution was supposed to be the Kashiwazaki-Kariwa nuclear power plant, run by the power company Tepco — the company responsible for the 2011 Fukushima accident.

When in full operation, the Kashiwazaki-Kariwa power plant is the biggest in the world, capable of servicing 16 million households. But all of its seven reactors have been idle since the nuclear accident at Fukushima Daiichi. This is Tepco’s only remaining nuclear power plant apart from the tsunami-stricken plants in Fukushima, in the neighboring prefecture.

Tepco has been repeatedly criticized for its negligence and has been ordered to pay compensation to the residents. The cleanup of the Fukushima power plant has been causing major headaches, while the reasons for the accident have yet to be clarified even eight years later.

Read more :

https://www.dw.com/en/japans-tepco-fights-for-return-to-nuclear-power-after-fukushima/a-47836968

 

March 18, 2019 Posted by | Japan | , | Leave a comment

TEPCO sat by idly on reports of fires, glitches at nuclear plants

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Tokyo Electric Power Co.’s Fukushima No. 2 nuclear power plant

February 14, 2019
Tokyo Electric Power Co. ignored reports on fires and other problems from its nuclear power plants and didn’t even bother to share the information in-house or consider precautionary measures, the nuclear watchdog revealed.
The Nuclear Regulation Authority decided Feb. 13 it will investigate the failure by TEPCO’s headquarters to tackle the problems reported by its three facilities: the Kashiwazaki-Kariwa nuclear plant in Niigata Prefecture and the Fukushima No. 1 and No. 2 nuclear plants, both in Fukushima Prefecture.
A TEPCO official said that the company put off tackling the problems because the deadline for dealing with such matters “was not clearly stated.”
NRA safety inspectors visited the Fukushima No. 2 nuclear plant from November through December last year.
They found that the division at company headquarters in charge of dealing with safety issues and sharing that information neglected reports of four problems that had occurred at the plant.
They cited 17 cases at the Kashiwazaki-Kariwa nuclear plant; five cases at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant and seven problems at the headquarters itself.

February 18, 2019 Posted by | Japan | , | Leave a comment

TEPCO firmly at fault for balking at payouts to disaster victims

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Tomoaki Kobayakawa, left, president of Tokyo Electric Power Co., meets with Fukushima Governor Masao Uchibori in June 2018.
February 9, 2019
The proposals rejected by TEPCO call for larger payments than the amounts suggested in the guidelines set by the Dispute Reconciliation Committee for Nuclear Damage Compensation, a committee within the education and science ministry.
The dispute resolution center, established to facilitate compensation payments to people who have suffered damage from the Fukushima accident, has successfully mediated more than 18,000 settlement agreements, but the institution is now facing a brick wall.
The utility has refused to accept many ADR deals proposed by the Nuclear Damage Compensation Dispute Resolution Center in response to collective requests from groups of residents in areas around the Fukushima No.
It has promised to pay compensation to all victims “down to the last one,” ensure “swift and considerate” payments and “respect” settlement proposals made by the dispute resolution center.
The center was established by the government in 2011 to help settle compensation disputes between TEPCO and victims of the nuclear accident.
Nearly eight years have passed since the 2011 Fukushima nuclear disaster, yet many victims seeking compensation for damages from Tokyo Electric Power Co., operator of the crippled nuclear plant, face uncertainty as the talks are getting nowhere.
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February 11, 2019 Posted by | fukushima 2019 | , , | Leave a comment

Instead of compensating victims, TEPCO compete now into gas business

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Via Bruce Brinkman
 
“In a warm place, people gather.” TEPCO advertises its gas business to move against rival Tokyo Gas, which can also now compete to provide electricity following market liberalization. Instead of compensating victims, evacuees, and all those with radiologically contaminated property, *this* is how they use their taxpayer subsidies — in addition to enriching investors (who would have gone broke without state intervention).
Read also:
Japan’s power monopolies take first steps toward competition
Wed, 31 Oct 2012
 
Tokyo Gas takes aim at TEPCO with household electricity prices
December 25, 2015
 
Japan’s Power Monopolies Face Major Reform Jolt
March 31,2016
 
Which Tokyo Electric Company is Cheapest? (And How to Change Providers)
November 2, 2016
 
TEPCO Energy Partner to offer up to 8% cheaper gas rate from July
May 10, 2017

January 20, 2019 Posted by | fukushima 2019 | , , | Leave a comment

TEPCO’s refusal to settle money talks prompts center to bow out

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Masakazu Suzuki, 68, head of the group of plaintiffs that filed a damage compensation lawsuit with the Fukushima District Court against Tokyo Electric Power Co. in November 2018, stands in a garden of his home in Namie, Fukushima Prefecture, on Dec. 17.
January 15, 2019
A government body set up to mediate in compensation disputes with Tokyo Electric Power Co. over the 2011 nuclear disaster is throwing in the towel because of the plant operator’s repeated refusal to play ball with aggrieved residents.
Officials of the Nuclear Damage Compensation Dispute Resolution Center complained that TEPCO, operator of the stricken Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant, keeps rejecting settlement proposals offered in an alternative dispute resolution process.
The center discontinued trying to offer assistance in 19 cases in 2018 and another one on Jan. 10, affecting 17,000 residents in total.
If the center discontinues its mediation work, residents will have no recourse but to file lawsuits, which take time and money to resolve.
The center was set up in September 2011 to quickly settle disputes between TEPCO and residents who are unhappy with the amounts of compensation offered by the company based on the government’s guidelines.
When residents applied to the center for higher levels of compensation, lawyers working as mediators listened to what they and TEPCO had to say to draw up settlement proposals.
Residents and TEPCO are not legally obliged to accept the proposals.
As a result, some residents resorted to filing lawsuits because they got no joy from TEPCO.
Between 2013 and 2017, the center discontinued mediation work on 72 cases, all of which concerned TEPCO employees or their family members.
The 19 cases that were discontinued last year and the one last week had been mainly brought by groups, each of which consisted of more than 100 residents.
The largest group comprised 16,000 or so residents of Namie, Fukushima Prefecture.
Immediately after the triple meltdown at the Fukushima plant in 2011, all of the town’s residents were ordered to evacuate to other municipalities.
In March 2014, the center offered to add 50,000 yen ($460) to compensation amounts ranging from 100,000 yen to 120,000 yen a month that were offered to each of the 16,000 residents by TEPCO under the government’s guidelines.
It also offered an additional 30,000 yen if any residents were aged 75 or older.
However, TEPCO rejected the proposal, prompting the center to abandon its mediation efforts in the case last April.
Some of the residents filed a lawsuit with the Fukushima District Court in November.
With regard to cases involving groups of residents, the center continued to urge TEPCO to accept its settlement proposals for several years.
As the company kept turning a blind eye to the requests, the center began to discontinue its mediation efforts in those cases from last year.
In its management reconstruction plan, TEPCO says that it will respect settlement proposals made by the center.
However, Masafumi Yokemoto, a professor of environmental policies at Osaka City University, believes it is doubtful that TEPCO will make good on that pledge.
“If TEPCO agrees to offer compensation amounts that exceed the government’s guidelines, people in other areas could also seek increased compensation amounts,” he said.
A TEPCO representative, meantime, said that as settlements (with residents) are closed and individual procedures, “we will refrain from expressing our opinions.”

January 20, 2019 Posted by | fukushima 2019 | , , | Leave a comment

Top court orders TEPCO to pay compensation for voluntary evacuation from Fukushima

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The Supreme Court building is seen in Tokyo.
 
December 18, 2018
TOKYO — The Supreme Court on Dec. 13 upheld the lower court ruling ordering Tokyo Electric Power Co. (TEPCO) to pay about 16 million yen in compensation to a man in his 40s and his family that voluntarily evacuated Fukushima Prefecture to western Japan after the 2011 nuclear disaster.
The top court’s First Petty Bench confirmed an Osaka High Court ruling handed down in October 2017 that recognized the man had developed depression due to the disaster and became unable to work. It marked the first time that a ruling awarding compensation to voluntary evacuees from the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station disaster has been finalized by the top court, according to a legal team for victims of the nuclear crisis.
Meanwhile, the First Petty Bench led by Justice Katsuyuki Kizawa avoided mentioning the rationality of voluntary evacuation and other points in question as it turned down appeals from both sides against the high court ruling due to “insufficient grounds.”
According to the lower court rulings, the man from Japan’s northeastern Fukushima Prefecture city of Koriyama owned multiple restaurants and voluntarily evacuated with his family to locations outside the prefecture shortly after the outbreak of the nuclear crisis. The owner suffered from insomnia and was diagnosed with depression in September 2011, after relocating to the western Japan city of Kyoto.
TEPCO had already paid around 2.9 million yen to the family of five based on the government’s compensation standards. However, the man and his family deemed the amount inadequate and filed a lawsuit demanding about 180 million yen from TEPCO.
In its ruling handed down in February 2016, the Kyoto District Court ordered the utility pay about 30 million yen to the family after recognizing the causal relationship between the nuclear disaster and the man’s depression. The amount included compensation for the man and his wife’s mental suffering and damage caused by the man’s taking a leave of absence from work.
However, it upheld the government’s evacuation order standards. District court judges determined that voluntary evacuation would be rational only until August 2012 because “it’s difficult to recognize health damage from exposure to radiation below 20 millisieverts per year.”
After both parties appealed the district court ruling, the Osaka High Court basically agreed with the decision but ruled that the man only needed treatment for depression for two years due to the disaster, instead of four and a half years. Consequently, the high court had considerably reduced the compensation money awarded to the man due to his absence from work.

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

Tepco as nuclear educator?

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TEPCO Decommissioning Archive Center in Tomioka, Fukushima Prefecture, will educate the public on the 2011 disaster at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant and the ongoing decommissioning work.
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 TEPCO Decommissioning Archive Center in Tomioka, Fukushima Prefecture, which opens Nov. 30, will educate the public on the measures being taken to deal with radioactive water at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant.
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 TEPCO Decommissioning Archive Center shows the central control rooms of the No. 1 and No. 2 reactors when the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant was crippled by the 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake and tsunami.
Fukushima nuclear-disaster museum opens
November 29, 2018
FUKUSHIMA, Japan – A facility that exhibits information about the 2011 crisis at Tokyo Electric Power Co.’s Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant and provides updates about the current condition of decommissioning work opens on Friday in Tomioka, Fukushima Prefecture.
The company unveiled the TEPCO Decommissioning Archive Center to media Wednesday. The renovated two-story building, which has an about 1,900 square-meter space for exhibitions, formerly housed the company’s “Energy Museum,” which was used for public relations activities for its nuclear plant.
A large screen on the first floor shows video footage of the latest conditions inside the plant, explaining the process of the decommissioning work. A model of a robot designed to remove nuclear fuel debris from the plant is also exhibited.
On the second floor, visitors can use an augmented reality device to learn about the 11-day period from when the earthquake struck to the restoration of power. The center also introduces recreated video footage of the central control room of the Nos. 1 and 2 reactors at the time of the accident as well as interviews with five TEPCO employees who dealt with the crisis.
 
TEPCO center in Fukushima educates public on nuke disaster
November 29, 2018
TOMIOKA, Fukushima Prefecture–Tokyo Electric Power Co. will open a center here on Nov. 30 to educate the public about the 2011 nuclear disaster and the ongoing decommissioning process in a facility that formerly promoted nuclear power.
In a video for visitors, TEPCO apologizes for the triple meltdown at the Fukushima No. 1 plant, saying, “We fully realized that the faith we placed in the safety (of nuclear power) meant nothing but our arrogance and overconfidence.”
The company said TEPCO Decommissioning Archive Center is also meant for its own employees.
TEPCO renovated the two-story building of about 1,900 square meters, which formerly served as a public relations facility for nuclear power before closing after the nuclear accident.
The center will feature exhibitions in two parts, based on the disaster at the Fukushima No. 1 plant, which was crippled by the Great East Japan Earthquake and tsunami in March 2011.
The first floor is themed on the status of the current decommissioning work.
It has 11 sections, including an exhibition of the equipment that workers wear, and introduces measures to deal with contaminated water at the plant using projection mapping, which projects images onto models.
“We want visitors to understand the decommissioning process, if even just a little bit,” said Yasushi Shimazu, director of the center.
The second floor, which has 10 sections, shows the memories and lessons from the disaster. It includes sections showing images of the central control rooms at the No. 1 and No. 2 reactors at the Fukushima No. 1 plant and explanations of the events that unfolded over the 11 days between the quake and restoration of power to the plant through use of augmented reality technology.
In the first-floor theater hall, visitors can watch an eight-minute video introducing the Great East Japan Earthquake and tsunami, the nuclear disaster and TEPCO’s responses. It ends with the apology for having placed too much faith in the safety of nuclear power.
The center, which is located along National Road No. 6 between the Fukushima No. 1 and No. 2 nuclear plants, is expected to welcome 20,000 visitors a year.
Admission is free. It is open daily between 9:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. and is closed on the third Sundays of the month and for the year-end and New Year holidays.
TEPCO educational facility opens in Fukushima Pref.
November 29, 2018
FUKUSHIMA — A facility that exhibits information about the 2011 crisis at Tokyo Electric Power Co.’s Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant and provides updates about the current condition of decommissioning work opens on Friday in Tomioka, Fukushima Prefecture.
The company unveiled the TEPCO Decommissioning Archive Center to media Wednesday. The renovated two-story building, which has an about 1,900 square-meter space for exhibitions, formerly housed the company’s “Energy Museum,” which was used for public relations activities for its nuclear plant.
A large screen on the first floor shows video footage of the latest conditions inside the plant, explaining the process of the decommissioning work. A model of a robot designed to remove nuclear fuel debris from the plant is also exhibited.
On the second floor, visitors can use an augmented reality device to learn about the 11-day period from when the earthquake struck to the restoration of power. The center also introduces recreated video footage of the central control room of the Nos. 1 and 2 reactors at the time of the accident as well as interviews with five TEPCO employees who dealt with the crisis

December 7, 2018 Posted by | Fukushima 2018 | , , , | Leave a comment

TEPCO and state slapped with new lawsuit over nuclear crisis

sdggfhf.jpgPlaintiffs in the lawsuit against TEPCO and the government gather in front of the Fukushima District Court in Fukushima on Nov 27.

November 28, 2018

FUKUSHIMA–Dismayed at a breakdown in talks for compensation, residents of the disaster-stricken town of Namie filed a lawsuit against Tokyo Electric Power Co. and the central government for damages stemming from the nuclear accident here in March 2011.
The plaintiffs are seeking 1.3 billion yen ($11.4 million) in financial redress.
The entire town was evacuated in the aftermath of a triple core meltdown at TEPCO’s Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant triggered by the Great East Japan Earthquake and ensuing tsunami.
The lawsuit was filed at the Fukushima District Court on Nov. 27 after five years of negotiations between the town and TEPCO collapsed in April over the utility’s refusal to meet demands for more compensation.
According to court papers, 109 plaintiffs of 49 households are seeking 12.1 million yen in individual compensation.
They stated that the nuclear accident destroyed their community and forced them to live as evacuees for a prolonged period.
TEPCO, under guidelines established by the central government, has been paying 100,000 yen a month to each resident forced to evacuate.
However, town officials argued that the figure was painfully low and should be increased to compensate for psychological suffering caused by the disaster.
In May 2013, the Namie municipal authorities, acting on behalf of residents, asked the nuclear damage claim dispute resolution center, an organization established by the central government in response to the Fukushima disaster, to mediate in the dispute.
About 15,000 residents, more than 70 percent of the town’s population, signed a petition for the mediation in an alternative dispute resolution (ADR) process at the center.
In March of 2014, an ADR proposal called for the monthly compensation to be uniformly increased by 50,000 yen.
The town accepted the offer but TEPCO rejected it, citing potential unfairness to others who had been compensated. In April, the center discontinued the reconciliation process.
Pointing out that TEPCO had reneged on its promise to “respect ADR reconciliation proposals,” the plaintiffs argued that the utility should pay for betraying the trust of residents.
An additional 2,000 or so townsfolk are planning to join the lawsuit.
In a statement, TEPCO said, “We will listen to the plaintiffs’ requests and complaints in detail and respond sincerely.”
Not only were the lives of residents turned upside down by the nuclear disaster, but more than 180 perished in the tsunami that engulfed the town.
Although the evacuation order was lifted for some parts of the town at the end of March 2017, entry to most of the area remains prohibited.
http://www.asahi.com/ajw/articles/AJ201811280053.html?fbclid=IwAR1O0aNAvKOkAVVRm2UH44C6RT88xLhOntskaKyVvL3VSZmDlYSd7SMC1Vs

November 30, 2018 Posted by | Fukushima 2018 | , , , | 2 Comments

Residents of nuclear crisis hit Namie to sue TEPCO, gov’t after settlement talks fail

 

gfg.jpgLawyer Yasuyoshi Hamano (second from right), a key member of a legal team for Namie residents who will sue Tokyo Electric Power Co. demanding compensation for the 2011 nuclear disaster, explains the legal action in Koriyama, Fukushima Prefecture, on Nov. 18, 2018.

 

November 19, 2018
KORIYAMA, Fukushima — Residents of the town of Namie, Fukushima Prefecture, are set to sue the government and the operator of nearby Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station for more compensation over damages caused by the plant’s March 2011 triple core meltdown, lawyers for the residents said on Nov. 18.
The lawyers told a press conference here that the residents decided to take the case to the Fukushima District Court on Nov. 27 after the operator, Tokyo Electric Power Co. (TEPCO), repeatedly rejected settlement proposals offered in an alternative dispute resolution (ADR) process.
The lawyers said roughly 100 people from the town in northeastern Japan are expected to launch the suit, but the number will likely reach about 2,000. Participating residents held a meeting on Nov. 18 to establish a group of plaintiffs in the prefectural city of Koriyama.
This will be the first time that a group of residents has filed a class action lawsuit after an ADR effort over the nuclear disaster was discontinued, according to the attorneys.
The nuclear disaster at the Fukushima Daiichi station was triggered by the Great East Japan Earthquake and tsunami. Damaged reactors spewed out large amounts of radioactive materials into the surrounding environment, forcing many Namie and other nearby residents to flee. Some have since returned to their homes.
In the five-year-long redress negotiations after the nuclear disaster, TEPCO kept turning down out of court deal proposals made by the Nuclear Damage Claim Dispute Resolution Center, despite the utility’s earlier promise to respect such proposals. This forced the center to discontinue the resolution process for some 15,000 Namie residents in April 2018. Over that period, about 850 petitioners, including elderly people, passed away, according to the lawyers.
The would-be plaintiffs will demand additional compensation from TEPCO for “betraying the residents’ expectations” by repeatedly refusing to settle the dispute, explained their lawyers.
“TEPCO has rejected reconciliation proposals by citing irrational reasons. As long as the alternative dispute resolution process is ignored, there’s no way to extend relief to residents so we have to launch a lawsuit,” said lawyer Masaharu Hioki, who heads the legal team for the residents.
In the suit, the residents will demand compensation for being forced to evacuate from their neighborhoods, having their communities destroyed by the disaster and having their expectations for a settlement betrayed by the utility.
Evacuation instructions have been lifted in Namie except in areas designated as zones where it will be difficult for residents to return in the foreseeable future. However, the residents will demand a uniform amount of damages in the suit they will launch. They will also sue the government in order to clarify the state’s responsibility for the nuclear accident in March 2011.
The dispute between Namie residents and TEPCO over compensation dates back to May 2013 when the Namie Municipal Government filed a petition with the Nuclear Damage Claim Dispute Resolution Center for an alternative dispute resolution. The move came when late mayor Tamotsu Baba, who passed away in June this year, was actively advocating for better compensation for the townspeople.
In the petition, the town demanded that the amount of monthly compensation for mental anguish be increased from 100,000 yen per person, as set by the Dispute Reconciliation Committee for Nuclear Damage Compensation, to 350,000 yen. In the petition, the town authority represented about 15,000 individuals, or roughly 70 percent of all its residents.
The committee had calculated the amount based on the figure of 126,000 yen per month paid to traffic accident victims from the automobile liability insurance policy. The 100,000 yen includes money to cover an increase in victims’ living expenses as a result of evacuation.
Town officials argued at that time that it was “unreasonable that residents receive less compensation than that for traffic accidents” when they were forced out of their hometowns, with fears of radiation exposure and evacuation altering their living environments. “Town residents suffer damage equally. It’s only natural for the municipal government responsible for their social welfare to file the petition,” they said.
In March 2014, the resolution center proposed reconciliation, under which the amount would be raised by 50,000 yen per month for those under 75 years old and up to 80,000 yen for those aged 75 or over.
The municipal government accepted the proposal on behalf of the residents. However, TEPCO rejected any uniform increase in the amount of compensation six times, forcing the resolution center to discontinue the resolution process.
(Japanese original by Toshiki Miyazaki, Fukushima Bureau)
https://mainichi.jp/english/articles/20181119/p2a/00m/0na/015000c?fbclid=IwAR1T-NmPAtGQKVV9pjMo_KaAdzX2eFHQHZbQHZgoQbbslXMfKq-JDhV6XKg

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November 25, 2018 Posted by | Fukushima 2018 | , | Leave a comment

Tsunami Couldn’t Have Been Foreseen, Says Fukushima Plant Operator’s Ex-Chaiman

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30.10.2018
MOSCOW (Sputnik) – Former chairman of Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO) Tsunehisa Katsumata said in court on Tuesday that a devastating tsunami that led to the 2011 accident at the Fukushima nuclear power plant could not have been predicted, NHK reported.
During the hearing, the former TEPCO chairman said that he was briefed in 2009 on the possibility of a tsunami by a TEPCO official who sounded very skeptical, adding that he believed in the quality of work of the Nuclear Power and Plant Siting Division and did not doubt existing safety measures, the NHK broadcaster reported.
Katsumata and ex-vice presidents of TEPCO Ichiro Takekuro and Sakae Muto were accused of professional negligence resulting in death and injury, but all of them denied the charges.
The prosecutors argued that the top management was fully responsible for ensuring security at the nuclear plant, the broadcaster added.
The court hearings will proceed with statements by the families of those whose deaths are linked to the nuclear accident.
In March 2011, a 9.0-magnitude offshore earthquake triggered a 46-foot tsunami that led to the accident and shutdown of the plant. The accident is considered to be the world’s worst nuclear disaster since Chernobyl in 1986.

November 3, 2018 Posted by | Fukushima 2018 | , , , | Leave a comment

Tepco apologizes over inappropriate hashtag for image of crippled Fukushima plant

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A post from Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings Inc.’s official Twitter account, seen here, attracted criticism for insensitivity over the Fukushima nuclear disaster
 
Oct 30, 2018
Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings Inc. has apologized after sharing on social media an image from inside its crippled Fukushima No. 1 plant together with a hashtag that means “fascination with factories.”
After the post attracted a lot of negative attention on the power company’s official Twitter and Instagram accounts, a Tepco official said Monday it had been intended to “give a better understanding to the younger generation” of its operations.
But the firm admitted that its social media post had “lacked consideration.”
The term employed in the hashtag, kōjōmoe, has come into use in recent years with a rise in the number of people enjoying views of factories and plants.
However, the utility’s post, which said “Unit4 Spent Fuel Pool at Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station” along with the hashtag, drew a rush of comments such as “Don’t you feel sorry for the nuclear accident?” and “Don’t make a fool of victims” affected by the reactor core meltdowns at the power station following the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami.
It is not the first time that the major power company has been rebuked for being insensitive to public feelings toward the Fukushima crisis, which was the most severe since the 1986 Chernobyl disaster.
Earlier this year, Tepco halted its sale of file folders with photos showing the current conditions of the Fukushima No. 1 complex, following public criticism.
The folders, offered in a set of three for ¥300, had pictures of the nuclear complex’s No. 1 to No. 4 reactors.
The utility had sold them at two convenience stores on the premises of the complex after people involved in work to scrap the plant asked the utility to sell souvenirs.

November 3, 2018 Posted by | Fukushima 2018 | , , | Leave a comment

Distrust of TEPCO Hampers Decommissioning

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Friday, October 19
A major challenge at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant is disposing of water containing a large amount of radioactive tritium. The Japanese government proposed diluting and releasing the water into the sea, but many fisheries in Fukushima are voicing strong opposition to the proposal. Disposal of the tainted water is a must for scrapping reactors at the plant. So, what should the government and TEPCO officials do?
 
Doing away with tritium-tainted water is essential
Every day, more than 100 tons of radioactive water builds up. Despite various measures taken since the 2011 accident at Fukushima Daiichi, groundwater continues to enter the reactor buildings, mixing with water which is being used to cool the reactors.
The Tokyo Electric Power Company uses a system called ALPS to treat the water. Officials have been saying that the system’s high-performance filters can get rid of most radioactive substances, except tritium.
TEPCO is not allowed to dispose of that water because its tritium levels surpass the limit set by the government.
That’s why the utility is storing 920,000 tons of the water in more than 800 tanks. The water is expected to increase by up to about 100,000 tons a year. The government and the firm say that in a matter of years, Fukushima Daiichi will run out of space for tanks.
PowerPoint プレゼンテーション
A government panel of experts has been discussing what to do with the water. The experts concluded that the technology for separating tritium cannot be put into practical use yet. They instead put several options on the table such as:
1) Diluting and releasing the water into the sea
2) Heating and evaporating the water
3) Burying the water deep underground
A report later compiled by the panel said releasing the water into the sea will make the most sense. Experts say this is the cheapest and quickest way among all the options. The question is, is it safe?
Tritium exists in the atmosphere. The government, TEPCO and the Nuclear Regulation Authority say tritium emits a weaker form of radiation than other radioactive substances. They say that even if tritium enters the human body, it will be incorporated into water and quickly released outside. Officials say therefore, tritium is likely to pose few health risks if its concentration is low.
In the past, nuclear power plants across Japan actually released water containing tritium after confirming its readings were below the limit.
NRA Chairman Toyoshi Fuketa has been calling on the government and TEPCO to make a quick decision, saying releasing the water into the sea after its tritium level falls below the limit is the only viable option. He thinks the approval process for the proposal is unlikely to take long, so it will have limited impact on the work to scrap the reactors.
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Mounting distrust among fisheries
After the expert panel compiled its report, the government held public hearings to make a final decision. At a hearing held in the town of Tomioka in Fukushima Prefecture on August 30th, the proposal came under fire mainly from people in the fishing industry.
The head of the Fukushima Prefectural Federation of Fisheries Cooperative Associations said the proposed move will be a devastating blow to the local fishing industry. He said its past efforts will go to waste, and it will deprive the industry of its motivation for rebuilding businesses.
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Fishermen in Fukushima suspended their operations after radioactive materials exceeding the government-set limits were detected in seafood caught off the prefecture following the 2011 accident. But in recent years, no fish from the area have been found to be highly radioactive. Now, fishermen can catch and ship most kinds of fish.
However, some consumers still hesitate to eat marine products from Fukushima. Fish landings are still about one-tenth of levels before the accident. Local fisheries fear that if TEPCO releases the water into the ocean, they will have to delay their plans to resume operations at full capacity and struggle again to make ends meet — even if the water is deemed safe.
The underlying problem is distrust towards the government and TEPCO. There have been numerous instances in which TEPCO withheld the fact that tainted water had leaked into the sea. Locals saw them as acts of betrayal. They fear that once TEPCO begins dumping the water into the sea, consumers may refrain from purchasing fishery products from Fukushima Prefecture even further.
Suspended Fishing Operations At Ports As Fukushima Leaks Prompt Government to 'Emergency Measures'
Public distrust further deepened during the hearings. It came to light that the water stored in some of the tanks contains levels of radioactive substances, such as iodine that exceed the limit. This contradicts the explanation given by the government and TEPCO — that the water treatment system can reduce all radioactive substances to a level below the limit, except for tritium.
My understanding was that tritium was the only radioactive substance in the tanks that exceeds the government-set limits. I was not the only one who was confused. Other participants also expressed concerns that TEPCO may have been concealing the facts.
TEPCO officials explained that levels of some radioactive substances could exceed the limits if the water treatment filters are used continuously. They said that’s not a problem, adding that the goal is to reduce the risk of radiation exposure, and that they have been making the data public on their website.
After hearing this, I checked TEPCO’s website once again. There, I found the iodine levels, but they were buried in a massive amount of data, making it very difficult to find. TEPCO officials didn’t seem eager to provide a full explanation of what has happened so far.
But TEPCO’s claim that this isn’t a problem differs with the public’s view. Its attitude is worsening the problem.
TEPCO officials tend to make decisions based on technical considerations, which often fail to sufficiently acknowledge the concerns of the locals. The officials also appear reluctant to release information that is inconvenient for them. Unless they change their mindset, they will not be able to regain the public’s trust.
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Steps TEPCO must take to regain trust
First and foremost, the government and TEPCO must provide thorough explanations and responses to the questions and opinions expressed in the hearings. They need to clarify why they didn’t proactively explain the level of radioactive substances and provide their exact levels and how they will deal with them.
In addition, the government should hold public hearings at various other locations and communicate more with the public. The latest round of public hearings was held only in Fukushima and Tokyo and this didn’t seem sufficient to regain public support.
Decommissioning of the crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant is a prerequisite for the reconstruction of areas devastated by the nuclear disaster. To this end, treatment of contaminated water is a must, and it needs be done swiftly. However, there will not be progress, no matter which method is taken, without the consent of the people affected by the nuclear disaster.
TEPCO and government officials must offer truthful updates as soon as they happen. While this sounds obvious, it’s the only way to regain people’s trust and resolve the problem of the accumulation of tainted water.

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