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Mega-quake would likely flood more of Fukushima than 2011 tsunami

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Mar 21, 2019
This handout picture released by Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings Inc. on March 21, 2011, shows black smoke rising from reactor No. 3 of the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant after a mega-quake and tsunami knocked off the plant’s backup generators, triggering a triple meltdown crisis.
If a once-in-1,000-years earthquake occurs, the area of Fukushima Prefecture expected to be flooded by subsequent tsunami could be 1.3 times larger than at the time of the March 2011 disaster, the prefectural government said Wednesday.
If such a powerful earthquake takes place, tsunami of up to 22.4 meters high could hit the coast of Fukushima, and some 14,300 hectares of land in the prefecture could be inundated, according to a prefectural government estimate.
The prefectural government plans to call for 10 coastal municipalities to create hazard maps and review evacuation routes by the end of fiscal 2020.
Fukushima is the first of the three prefectures hardest hit by the 2011 disaster to work out such an estimate.
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March 25, 2019 Posted by | fukushima 2019 | , , | 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

Film on one man’s agony due to 2011 disaster wins key award

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Takayuki Ueno continues his search for his eldest son Kotaro and other missing people in Minami-Soma, Fukushima Prefecture.
 
June 13, 2018
A documentary about a farmer’s years-long quest to retrieve the bodies of four family members killed in the 2011 earthquake and tsunami disaster has won an award that honors a slain journalist.
The Mika Yamamoto International Journalist Award was presented to Chiaki Kasai in Tokyo on May 26 for her “Life–Another Story of Fukushima,” which was completed last year.
The prize was established to perpetuate the spirit of video journalist Mika Yamamoto, who died while covering the civil war in Syria in 2012.
Kasai’s 115-minute documentary charts the struggles of 45-year-old Takayuki Ueno as he tries to rise from the depths of despair over the loss of his two children as well as his parents, who were swept away by tsunami generated by the magnitude-9.0 Great East Japan Earthquake.
Kasai’s story takes place in Fukushima Prefecture, where the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant went into a triple meltdown when the facility’s cooling system was knocked out in the quake and tsunami. It takes place over a number of years.
Ueno lived in the city of Minami-Soma, which was hard-hit by the tsunami.
Ueno had just begun searching for his loved ones when hydrogen explosions rocked the nuclear plant, just 22 kilometers away.
Despite radioactive substances spewing from the stricken plant operated by Tokyo Electric Power Co., Ueno refused to evacuate. No police or Self-Defense Forces members were coming to rescue him or others stranded in the area.
Ueno found the body of his 8-year-old daughter Erika caked in mud and carried her to a makeshift morgue.
He, along with volunteers, still searches for the body of his son Kotaro, 3, as well as others swept away by the tsunami.
At the time, Kasai, 43, worked for a Hamamatsu-based TV station. She spent the best part of five and a half years documenting Ueno’s life. She completed the project in January 2017, and it was first shown the following May.
Six months after the disaster, Kasai visited Fukushima Prefecture, where she heard about Ueno’s family tragedy and realized that many people were unable to search for missing family members because of the nuclear accident.
“I was disappointed with myself,” Kasai said. “I asked myself what we were doing when we fussed about whether or not we should venture several kilometers nearer to the plant.”
Kasai quit the TV station in 2015 so she could devote herself to the documentary and spend more time visiting devastated areas.
Yamamoto, the journalist who perished in a gun battle while covering the fighting in the Syrian city of Aleppo, had made a name for herself covering Afghanistan, Iraq and other war zones around the world. She was 43 when she died.
The award was established in 2013 as a way to encourage news gathering on people living in conflict or impoverished areas to raise awareness of their plight.
The award is given to journalists who cover people living in extreme conditions. Each award-winning work to date was a record of a conflict being waged away from Japan.
“Wars and disasters. There are people who hang in there, no matter what unreasonable things are thrown at them in life.
(Kasai’s) approach to taking time to present her story honestly and in a respectful manner overlapped with Yamamoto’s footsteps,” said Akihiro Nonaka, head of Asia Press International, who served as a member of the award’s selection committee, explaining the decision to choose a work themed on disaster this year.
One scene in the documentary shows Ueno weeping and muttering that he “can’t remember” the sound of his children’s voices.
He later confesses that he is “scared” to see his eldest daughter’s classmates all grown up. Still, encouraged by how his 6-year-old second daughter Sarii, who was born in 2011, is managing, Ueno tries to stay on top of things while continuing to search for his missing loved ones.
A scene toward the end of the film shows Erika’s former classmates dressed in their junior high school uniforms visit Ueno’s home to pray in front of the family’s Buddhist altar. Ueno and his wife Kiho, 41, see the girls off as they leave, soft smiles creasing the couple’s faces. The title of the film clearly resonates with the audience.
Learning that she had won the award, Kasai expressed sadness rather than happiness as Yamamoto is no longer alive, recalling that they once shared a meal together.
“I feel like she gave me a supportive push to keep telling the world what happened in Fukushima,” she said.
Ueno commented that he hoped the documentary would serve as a warning not to allow a similar event to occur again.

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June 18, 2018 Posted by | Fukushima 2018 | , , , | Leave a comment

‘It feels like we’re in jail’: Japan spent $12 billion on seawalls after the devastating 2011 tsunami — and now locals are feeling like prisoners

Mar 12, 2018
Japan’s Fukushima disaster – a devastating string of events that included a tsunami with 42-foot high waves – left 18,000 dead in 2011.
In response, many towns along Japan’s coast have since built massive seawalls to help protect against future tsunamis.
Many locals aren’t happy with the walls, saying they feel like they’re “in jail.”
 
This month marks the seven-year anniversary of Japan’s Tōhoku earthquake and tsunami, which caused the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster.
 
The catastrophic Fukushima disaster included a magnitude 9.0 earthquake, a resulting tsunami, and a power-plant accident, which left close to 18,000 people dead in total.
 
The tsunami also took 5 million tons of debris with it. While 70% of the debris sank, 1.5 million tons of it was left floating in the Pacific Ocean.
 
Since the devastation, some towns have prohibited building in flatter areas near the coast, while others have raised their land before building new structures.
 
Others are building seawalls. About 245 miles of seawall structure has been built along the coast to protect from future tsunamis. It has cost Japan about $12 billion to build these 41-foot concrete seawalls, according to Reuters, which block the view of the beaches and sea from residents – and some people aren’t happy with it.
 
“It feels like we’re in jail, even though we haven’t done anything bad,” an oyster fisherman, Atsushi Fujita, told Reuters. Others are worried about the walls discouraging tourism.
 
Ahead, a look at the resulting seawalls along Japan’s coast.
The new seawalls are 41 feet high and made of concrete.
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These newer walls replaced the old 13-foot breakwaters, which were destroyed during the Fukushima disaster on March 11, 2011.
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“It feels like we’re in jail, even though we haven’t done anything bad,” Atsushi Fujita, a 52-year-old oyster fisherman, told Reuters.
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Around 245 miles of seawalls have been built at a cost of about $12.74 billion.
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“The seawalls will halt tsunamis and prevent them from inundating the land,” Hiroyasu Kawai, a researcher at the Port and Airport Research Institute in Yokosuka, told Reuters.
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“Even if the tsunami is bigger than the wall, the wall will delay flooding and guarantee more time for evacuation,” said Kawai.
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Some locals are worried the tourism industry will be negatively effected by the seawalls.
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“About 50 years ago, we came up here with the kids and enjoyed drives along the beautiful ocean and bays. Now, there’s not even a trace of that,” Reiko Iijima, a tourist from central Japan, told Reuters.
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Others find it to be more than just an eyesore. “Everyone here has lived with the sea, through generations,” Sotaro Usui, head of a tuna supply company, told Reuters. “The wall keeps us apart — and that’s unbearable.”
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Part of the seawalls in the city of Kesennuma have window cut-outs.
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“They’re a parody,” Yuichiro Ito said of the windows. Ito lost his home and younger brother in the tsunami. “It’s just to keep us happy with something we never wanted in the first place.”
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A man looks through a window of a seawall at a port in Kesennuma, Miyagi Prefecture, Japan.
 
Initially, many welcomed the building of the seawalls, but have become more critical of them over time.
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Some locals told Reuters that they were not consulted enough in the planning stages, and money spent on rebuilding elsewhere, such as housing, has fallen behind.
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Fishermen are also worried. Some told Reuters that the sea walls could block natural water flows from the land and impact future production.
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Here, the “Miracle Pine,” a tree which is said to symbolize hope and recovery after it survived the 2011 tsunami, stands next to a damaged building in front of the newly built seawall in Rikuzentakata, Iwate Prefecture, Japan.
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Still, some locals are glad to have a wall. “I can’t say things like ‘the wall should be lower’ or ‘we don’t need it,'” Katsuhiro Hatakeyama, who has rebuilt his bed and breakfast business in the same location as before, told Reuters. “It’s thanks to the wall that I could rebuild, and now have a job.”
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March 15, 2018 Posted by | Japan | , | 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

Fukushima: The Earthquake Question

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The general view is the Fukushima reactor meltdowns in japan in 2011 were caused by the tsunami that knocked out backup power to the atomic plant. Nuclear engineers say it is not the full story.

Six years after the nuclear disaster in Fukushima, engineers remain vexed by a key question: What damage did the massive earthquake cause at the atomic plant before it was hit by the subsequent tsunami?

The answer matters because of the potential implications for the earthquake safety standards of other nuclear reactors in Japan, which sits on the seismically unstable Ring of Fire around the Pacific. The area accounts for about 90% of the planet’s earthquakes, with Japan being shaken by 10% of them, according to the US Geological Survey.

Just three out of Japan’s 42 usable reactors are running at present, as operators seek to clear regulatory, safety and legal hurdles and overcome community opposition following the Fukushima calamity. Despite the obstacles, Japan still aims to derive between 20% and 22% of its power from nuclear sources by 2030.

Investigations into the Fukushima accident generally accept that the tsunami knocked out backup power to the Tokyo Electric Power Co. Daiichi plant, causing a failure of cooling equipment and then reactor meltdowns.

However, as much of the site is a radioactive no-go zone, it’s not been possible to investigate effects on the plant from the earthquake itself off Japan’s Pacific Ocean coastline in the afternoon of March 11, 2011. The quake registered a magnitude 9, the largest ever recorded in the country.

 

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A bus driver wearing radiation protective gear rests on the bus during a media tour at TEPCO’s tsunami-crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant in Fukushima prefecture, November 12, 2014.

The impact of the quake is “still actually a question mark,” Mitsuhiko Tanaka, a former nuclear equipment engineer for Hitachi Ltd., said at a press conference in Tokyo.

Tokyo Electric Power (Tepco) has said that the quake at 2.46 p.m. cut off power supply, but operators used emergency diesel generators to keep cooling the reactors. These generators in reactor building basements were subsequently disabled by the tsunami.

No earthquake-related damage to key safety facilities “has been confirmed,” Tepco said in its accounts of the accident. It pointed to the tsunami of “unprecedented scale” that hit the coast 50 minutes later to explain the loss of backup power, which thwarted cooling efforts and ultimately led to explosions and the meltdown of three reactors.

The Fukushima disaster is ranked alongside Chernobyl as the world’s worst civilian nuclear accident, according to the International Nuclear and Radiological Event Scale.

 

This video shows seismic activity around Japan before, during and after the major earthquake on March 11, 2011. Watch the counter at the top left for the magnitude 9 quake at 2:46 p.m.

Earthquake safety ‘inadequate’

In a briefing at the Foreign Correspondents’ Club of Japan a few days ahead of the disaster’s sixth anniversary this year, Tanaka contended that the cause of the station blackout at unit 1 of the Fukushima plant remained unclear.

He also suggested that the piping system that took in seawater for cooling purposes might have been corroded, adding that such pipes were “generally vulnerable to earthquakes.”

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Mitsuhiko Tanaka, a former Hitachi nuclear engineer.

I’m not saying that the earthquake alone caused damage in lieu of the tsunami – the tsunami no doubt had a significant role,” Tanaka said.

But I’m also saying that the anti-seismic design of the power stations was inadequate and I’m also saying that without the tsunami the same accident possibly would have occurred. So even excluding the tsunami, just the earthquake alone could possibly cause a major rupture. I’m stressing that one should not neglect or ignore the issue of the earthquake.”

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A worker wearing a protective suit and mask works on the roof of the No.4 reactor building of Tepco’s crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant in Fukushima prefecture February 20, 2012.

While such comments might appear speculative, Tanaka is in a position to understand a nuclear power station’s vulnerabilities.

He designed reactor pressure vessels for Hitachi, the company that supplied one of the units at the Fukushima Daiichi plant. He conducted stress analysis of the station’s unit 4 reactor pressure vessel and served on the Fukushima accident independent investigation commission set up by the Japanese parliament.

More time

That commission, which had the power to subpoena evidence, differed from other studies by placing a greater emphasis on the potential quake damage. Indeed, its 2012 report said Tepco “was too quick to cite the tsunami as the cause of the nuclear accident and deny that the earthquake caused any damage.”

Naiic Report by Yee Kai Poo on Scribd

https://fr.scribd.com/document/341166435/Naiic-Report#from_embed

The panel, which was also scathing about the lax approach of the then regulators, raised the possibility that the quake damaged equipment necessary for ensuring safety and that a small-scale accident involving a loss of coolant occurred in unit 1.

Looking back at the six-month inquiry, Tanaka said: “It is really quite unfortunate that the investigation committee disbanded without really exposing or explaining much after the accident. Much remains unresolved.”

His view was supported by Masashi Goto, a former designer of reactor containment vessels for Toshiba Corp., who told the same press briefing: “There are many uncertainties still.”

One of the obstacles to finding the truth, investigators cautioned in 2012, was that a lot of the equipment relevant to the accident remained “beyond the reach of inspection or verification”.

That remains a challenge today, as thousands of workers make slow progress on the decommissioning of the plant – a process that is expected to take decades and cost 8 trillion yen ($US70 billion). In addition, 7.9 trillion yen will be spent on compensation from radiation fallout and 5.6 trillion yen on treating and storing contaminated soil, according to latest government estimates.

Push to restart reactors

Meantime the atomic power industry is making slow progress on restarting other reactors in Japan, a situation that calls into question the government’s 2030 target for nuclear power generation.

Takeo Kikkawa, a Tokyo University of Science professor who was a member of the government’s energy mix advisory committee, said achieving the 20% to 22% target would involve “a lot of difficulty.”

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Map of Japan’s nuclear plants.

In a recent speech to the Foreign Press Center Japan, he noted many of the country’s aging nuclear reactors would need to be decommissioned by 2030 if the government stuck with the rule that such closures occur after 40 years of operation.

Tepco, mindful of the huge costs it is incurring at the devastated Fukushima Daiichi plant, wants to restart two reactors at its Kashiwazaki-Kariwa nuclear power plant, which was the world’s largest such facility but suffered damage from a previous earthquake in 2007.

But in a blow to the plans, voters in Niigata prefecture last year elected a governor who, like his predecessor, opposed a restart at Kashiwazaki due to safety concerns.

Just last month, Tepco was ordered to re-submit documents after revealing that its previous assurances about safety measures at Kashiwazaki-Kariwa had been wrong.

Tepco discovered in 2014 that a key building at the site may not be able to withstand even half of the assumed strongest seismic shaking, but this information was not passed on to the regulator, the Asahi newspaper reported.

Tepco’s managing executive officer, Takafumi Anegawa, apologized for the omission, which was blamed on “insufficient” communication within the company rather than a cover-up. A Nuclear Regulation Authority official was quoted as saying the lessons of Fukushima were “not utilized”.

Catastrophic’ implications

Shaun Burnie, a nuclear specialist with Greenpeace Germany, called for a fundamental overhaul of the way the regulator reviews earthquake risks. He praised the engineers who had “spoken out” about the potential pre-tsunami damage at Fukushima Daiichi, saying they were right to demand further investigation.

That is something the nuclear industry is determined to avoid as the ramifications, if proven, would be catastrophic for the future operation of reactors in Japan – but also have major implications worldwide,” he said in an interview.

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A writing inside Ukedo elementary school, damaged by the March 11, 2011 tsunami.

Burnie said the International Atomic Energy Agency and regulators worldwide had based their reviews of the Fukushima accident on the basis that without the tsunami, there would have been no multiple reactor meltdowns.

While this may be the conclusion the nuclear industry want to hear, it may not be correct. It could be many years before this issue is resolved one way or the other. Meanwhile, Japan continues to apply a flawed seismic model for assessing risks at nuclear plants.”

Watch the full press conference here:

 

Source:  http://www.atimes.com/article/unanswered-questions-fukushima-nuclear-disaster//

 

March 8, 2017 Posted by | Fukushima 2017 | , , , | 1 Comment

Fukushima dad finds remains of daughter, but no closure for 3/11

My deep respect for this father courage and perseverance to search for his child beyond his pain and the tragedy. It must be awful to search for the remains of your beloved daughter like he did for 6 years. I have been repeatedly hearing about his relentless search over and over again during these past 6 years. I am happy for him that he finally found her.

My own daughter was very lucky, at the time the tsunami hit the place where they lived on the north-east coast of Iwaki city, right by the sea, they were all in town, far from their house and the seashore. They lost their house but no life.

 

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Yuna Kimura was 7 years old when the 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake and tsunami struck.

 

OKUMA, Fukushima Prefecture–A man’s painstaking search over nearly six years has finally uncovered remains of his 7-year-old daughter who disappeared in the 2011 tsunami.

But the discovery has not brought closure for the father, Norio Kimura, who plans to keep sifting through the debris on the coast of this town in the shadow of the ruined Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant.

I am glad, but only small parts of her have been recovered,” said Kimura, 51. “I will continue my search until I find everything.”

A breakthrough in his private search for daughter Yuna came on Dec. 9, when a volunteer found a scarf she was wearing on the day the tsunami struck. It was near the coast only a few hundred meters from where Kimura’s home once stood in Okuma.

A further search of the area uncovered parts of neck and jaw bones among the tsunami debris.

A DNA test conducted by Fukushima prefectural police showed the remains were of Yuna. Kimura was informed of the test result on Dec. 22.

However, he said he still has no intention of submitting a document to officially certify her death until the rest of her body is found.

Yuna was the last resident of Okuma officially listed as missing.

Kimura’s house was located about 4 kilometers south of the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant and 100 meters from the coast. The tsunami spawned by the Great East Japan Earthquake on March 11, 2011, destroyed the home and swept away Yuna, Kimura’s wife, Miyuki, then 37, and his father, Wataro, then 77.

The bodies of Miyuki and Wataro were recovered that year. But Yuna remained missing.

The meltdowns at the nuclear plant forced Kimura to evacuate from Okuma and halt his search for Yuna.

Although the Self-Defense Forces, firefighters, police and volunteers conducted searches along the coast of the Tohoku region, radioactive fallout prevented extensive checks around Okuma in the early days of the recovery effort.

Most parts of the town are still located in the government-designated “difficult-to-return zone” because of high radiation levels. Access is limited to former residents, but only for short periods.

Kimura resumed his personal search for Yuna at the end of 2011, when the government allowed those limited-period returns to Okuma.

After settling in Hakuba, Nagano Prefecture, with his mother and surviving daughter, Kimura frequently made round trips of about 1,000 kilometers in his search for Yuna. He often wore protective clothing against radiation in his endeavor.

Yuna’s remains were found in an area where Kimura discovered a shoe in June 2012 that his daughter was wearing on the day of the disaster.

Kimura said he intends to increase his trips to Okuma and focus his search on the area where Yuna’s bones were discovered.

I do hold anger toward TEPCO, which caused the nuclear crisis, and the government, which was not committed enough to the body-recovery effort,” Kimura said. “I am mortified that it took nearly six years to find her.”

http://www.asahi.com/ajw/articles/AJ201612260050.html

 

December 26, 2016 Posted by | Fukushima 2016 | , , | Leave a comment

Japan Earthquake: Social Aftershocks of Fukushima Disaster are Still Being Felt

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A fishing boat washed inland by the 2011 Tsunami next to a shrine inside the Fukushima nuclear exclusion zone.

At 5.59am local time on November 22, Fukushima was hit by a 7.4 magnitude earthquake, triggering a tsunami warning. For residents in the same region of Japan devastated by the major 2011 Tōhoku earthquake and its tsunami, the threat of a renewed disaster was very real.

The tsunami warning was lifted a few hours later, and the earthquake was later declared a long-term aftershock from the larger quake five years ago. But for people still coming to terms with that disaster and its aftermath, this new earthquake will severely test their resilience once again.

On March 11 2011, the 9.0 magnitude earthquake created a 15-metre tsunami that inundated the Fukushima Daiichi (Fukushima I) nuclear power station. Power was disabled to three reactors, which caused a serious nuclear accident as cooling systems failed. Large quantities of radiation were immediately released into the environment and approximately 100,000 people were evacuated.

The long-term social consequences of the original Fukushima Daiichi accident have been broad and far-reaching. Perception of risk, the likelihood of exposure to danger, has been at the heart of social controversy after the 2011 disaster. Radiation is invisible, and it is challenging to understand or percieve a threat that can only be detected by specialist scientific equipment. Often women and children are hit the hardest by this, regardless of socioeconomic status.

The concept of Fūhyōhigai, or the “harmful rumour”, was initially used by the media and local government to dismiss local women’s concerns about radiation exposure as weak and unscientific. However, this led to a cultural shift by women known as Fukushima’s “radiation brain moms”, who purchased monitoring equipment and took matters into their own hands, forming citizen radiation monitoring organisations (CRMOs).

By forming these groups of resistance, self-help and support, women rejected their culture’s social norms of obedience and subservience, that could have suppressed them from cultivating outrage over injustice and inequality. Participation in CRMOs has decreased over time, as the social memory of Fukushima Daiichi fades, but citizen science initiatives such as Safecast still provide useful information to many.

The recent earthquake temporarily halted the cooling system at the nearby Fukushima Daini (Fukushima II) reactor, and so there is likely to be a resurgence in monitoring, and a reunion of these support networks. Regardless of what happens now, there has already been a positive seismic shift in attitudes by both the government and scientists toward concerned mothers and community monitoring.

Living in ‘temporary’ permanence

Many impacts of the 2011 disaster have been hidden away in the private spaces of everyday life, with the tragedy putting enormous strain on family relations. Not only were thousands of families displaced from their homes, evacuation has meant the separation of family groups.

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Two girls play on a swing next to a radiation monitor and their temporary housing in Minamisōma, Fukushima prefecture.

Where once three generations could live together in Fukushima’s close-knit rural villages, relocation to cramped prefabricated temporary housing has meant many are forced to live apart. Today, five years after the disaster, 174,000 people are still displaced in a state of “temporary” permanence. Disconnection from the familiarity of place and family, as well as the constant worry about radiation risk, even threatens marital relationships. “Atomic divorce” (Genpatsu rikon) is on the rise, with disagreements on radiation safety, or whether to relocate back to territory now deemed “decontaminated”. News of the recent earthquake will doubtless have jogged memories and resurfaced hidden tensions.

The Japanese government is gradually declaring sections of the 20km nuclear exclusion zone safe and habitable. Despite this, the desire to move back to previously contaminated land has been underwhelming. For example, four months after Naraha Town was declared safe in September last year, only 6% of former inhabitants decided to move home to one of Fukushima’s many atomic “ghost towns”.

In the town of Minamisōma, on the northern edge of the exclusion zone, thousands of mothers and children have refused to return, despite societal pressure not to “betray” their home communities.

Nuclear uncertainty

While Japan’s tsunami warning system worked well, there is still considerable uncertainty surrounding the consequences and likelihood of a further natural hazard causing a nuclear accident in Japan.

The 2011 Fukushima Daiichi accident had already permanently changed the Japanese nuclear landscape. The government has undergone a process of gradual nuclear decommissioning since October 2011, and Fukushima Daaichi and Dai-ni no longer produce energy. Yet, Japan is still heavily reliant on nuclear energy and since 2015 has restarted two of its nuclear reactors, with 24 other reactors in the process of restart approvals.

While social resilience to emergencies has improved since 2011 in Japan, the social aftershocks of Fukushima Daaichi are ongoing. Though many advances have been made that emancipate vulnerable populations and provide increased connectivity, it remains to be seen how much these new technologies and attitudes have improved social resilience and reduced the likelihood of anxiety within the community of Fukushima.

http://theconversation.com/japan-earthquake-social-aftershocks-of-fukushima-disaster-are-still-being-felt-69241?utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Latest+from+The+Conversation+for+November+23+2016+-+6153&utm_content=Latest+from+The+Conversation+for+November+23+2016+-+6153+CID_024bb0c94bf6d40a12017353049b25cd&utm_source=campaign_monitor_uk&utm_term=is+being+tested

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

Tsunami Evacuation Hindered by Traffic in Iwaki

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Some residents who attempted to drive to higher ground after tsunami warnings in northeastern Japan early Tuesday found themselves caught in traffic.

An official of Iwaki City, Fukushima Prefecture, says a main road from the coastal district to inland areas was filled with cars apparently trying to evacuate.

The official says he saw many cars carrying entire families and that the traffic congestion was unusual for that time of day. He says the atmosphere was tense, as the residents were apparently reminded of the March 2011 tsunami.

He called on residents not to use their cars if they are able to evacuate on foot, as part of the road is designated as an area that could be submerged in the event of a tsunami.

In Ishinomaki City, Miyagi Prefecture, more than 100 people evacuated to a park on higher ground.

But a narrow road leading to the park soon became jammed.

Some drivers parked their cars on the roadside, hindering others from getting by. Traffic was backed up for a long way as a result.

The city has been asking residents to evacuate on foot in principle.

http://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/en/news/20161122_45/

November 23, 2016 Posted by | Fukushima 2016 | , , , | Leave a comment

Leaks Unlikely, “presumes” Tepco

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Naohiro Masuda, left, president of Fukushima Daiichi Decontamination & Decommissioning Engineering Co., speaks at the podium in a news conference at the Tokyo Electric Power Co.’s head office on Nov. 22.

Tokyo Electric Power Co. said radioactive water likely did not leak from its stricken Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant following the morning earthquake that spawned a tsunami on Nov. 22. TEPCO declared that everything was ok at Fukushima Daiichi before even to be able to go inspect the facilities.

TEPCO officials said the company manually shut down equipment that was transferring contaminated water from reactor buildings after the magnitude-7.4 earthquake struck off the coast of Fukushima Prefecture. The measure was taken because water being transferred could have spilled out if a pipe in the system was fractured in the quake, and because they would be unable to check the system for leaks.

Naohiro Masuda, president of Fukushima Daiichi Decontamination & Decommissioning Engineering Co., TEPCO’s in-house organization, explained during a news conference at the utility’s head office in Tokyo why the company halted operations of the water transfer facility: “The biggest risk is a tsunami causing contaminated water that has accumulated (in the reactor buildings) to leak and pollute the environment.”

After the Japan Meteorological Agency issued a tsunami warning at 6:02 a.m., the company ordered workers in lower areas of the plant to evacuate to higher ground. The workers stayed out of the lower areas as the tsunami warning lasted for hours. They have been unable to check for possible leaks around the reactor buildings and the turbine buildings near the sea.

It is a bit inappropriate that we’ve been unable to do so,” Masuda said. “That’s why we suspended the transfer facility. We think that no water will leak now.”

Groundwater mixing with contaminated water in damaged reactor buildings has been a serious problem at the plant since the nuclear disaster unfolded in 2011.

TEPCO also reported that pumps to cool water in the spent nuclear fuel pool at the No. 3 reactor building of the Fukushima No. 2 nuclear power plant shut down after the quake. The company said this was an automatic mechanism that kicked in after the water level changed in the tank that adjusts water conditions in the pool. “It is a result of the fact that the automatic suspension device worked normally,” Masuda said. The pumps were later restarted.

In the evening of 11/22/2016, Tepco announced the radiation monitoring post in the sea has been suspended due to the quake. The post is situated at the end of the breakwater of Fukushima plant port. They cannot monitor the radioactive substance spreading to the Pacific with this monitoring post out of order.

TEPCO  declared “everything is safe” soon after the quake. They may have visually confirmed nothing large and significant happened such as a vent tower collapsing or larger building damage,  but they were unable to go in to inspect to actually confirm nothing was damaged, to check for damage in more detail and to check every system now in place at the plant could easily take an entire day.

TEPCO’s prompt claim of no damage after the earthquake at the disaster site, as always was not done after inspections would have confirmed no damage.

http://www.asahi.com/ajw/articles/AJ201611220063.html

http://www.tepco.co.jp/press/mail/2016/1339057_8708.html

November 22, 2016 Posted by | Fukushima 2016 | , , , | Leave a comment

Magnitude 6.9 Earthquake Strikes Off Japanese Coast, Tsunami Warning

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An earthquake with a preliminary magnitude of 7.3 hit northern Japan on Tuesday, the Japan Meteorological Agency said, generating a tsunami that hit the nation’s northern Pacific coast.

The U.S. Geological Survey initially put Tuesday’s quake at a magnitude of 7.3 but down graded it to 6.9.

The earthquake, which was felt in Tokyo, was centered off the coast of Fukushima prefecture at a depth of about 10 km (6 miles) and struck at 5:59 a.m. (2059 GMT) the agency said.

USGS said that it was a shallow quake, at about 10 kilometers, which tended to cause more shaking damage and had greater potential to cause a tsunami.

“The good news here is that the direction the fault was moving is a slight lateral slip. When the faults move laterally they do not create the vertical movement associated with large tsunamis,” the U.S. agency said.

A 60 cm (2 foot) tsunami had been observed at Iwaki city’s Onahama Port and a 90 cm (3 foot) tsunami at Soma Port soon after, public broadcaster NHK said. The region is the same that was devastated by a tsunami following a massive earthquake in 2011. A tsunami warning of up to 3 meters (10 feet) has been issued.

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Japan’s chief government spokesman Yoshihide Suga said that a government taskforce had been established to deal with the quake and tsunami, and called on people in affected areas to evacuate, according to media outlet NHK.

NHK also reported that water could be seen moving bath and forth in Onahama Port and that tide levels were rising in some areas on Japan’s eastern coast. Television footage showed ships moving out to sea from Fukushima harbors as tsunami warning signals wailed.

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Tokyo Electric Power, known as Tepco, said on its website that no damage from the quake has been confirmed at any of its power plants, although there have been blackouts in some areas. Tepco’s Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant caused Japan’s worst nuclear disaster when it was knocked out by the 2011 tsunami.

Tohoku Electric Power said there was no damage to its Onagawa nuclear plant, while the Kyodo news agency reported there were no irregularities at the Tokai Daini nuclear plant in Ibaraki Prefecture.

Earthquakes are common in Japan, one of the world’s most seismically active areas. Japan accounts for about 20 percent of the world’s earthquakes of magnitude 6 or greater.

The March 11, 2011, quake was magnitude 9, the strongest quake in Japan on record. The massive tsunami it triggered caused world’s worst nuclear crisis since Chernobyl a quarter of a century earlier.

An Iwaki city fire dept official said there was smoke or fire at Kureha’s research center in a petrochemical complex in Iwaki city at 6:17 a.m., but it was extinguished at 6:40 a.m. Other details were not clear, he said, adding that no other major damage in the city has been reported at the moment.

One hotel in Ofunato, badly hit by the 2011 quake, told guests to stay in the facility, which is on high ground.

All nuclear plants on the coast threatened by the tsunami are shut down in the wake of the 2011 Fukushima disaster. Only two reactors are operating in Japan, both in the southwest of the country. Even when in shutdown nuclear plants need cooling systems operating to keep spent fuel cool.

At Fukushima Daiichi, the plant workers are reporting they felt shaken even in the seismic isolation building. Most of the workers have not come to the plant for today yet. The situation is still under investigation. No further information yet.

At Fukushima Daini,  Tepco said that its water-cooling system for spent fuel at reactor 3 had stopped working at 6:10AM but that there was enough water in the pool to keep the fuel cool, posing no immediate danger. Tepco rebooted the coolant system of SFP 3 of Fukushima DAINI at 7:47AM (JST).

http://www.jma.go.jp/en/quake/20161122061144495-220559.html

http://www.cnbc.com/2016/11/21/magnitude-73-earthquake-hits-japan-usgs-says.html

https://twitter.com/nhk_seikatsu/status/800825947507212288

https://www.pref.fukushima.lg.jp/sec/16025c/genan10.html

http://www3.nhk.or.jp/news/html/20161122/k10010779181000.html

 

 

 

November 22, 2016 Posted by | Fukushima 2016 | , , | Leave a comment

State ignored predictions 10 years before 3/11 tsunami, says seismologist

The March 2011 tsunami that crippled the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant was foreshadowed almost 10 years earlier, but government interference meant the threat was not acted on, seismologist Kunihiko Shimazaki has said.

Shimazaki said a July 2002 prediction by the Headquarters for Earthquake Research Promotion stated an earthquake as big as one in 1896 that caused monster tsunami had a 20 percent chance of occurring somewhere near the Japan Trench within 30 years.

The trench lies in the Pacific and stretches off the Sanriku area in the Tohoku region to the Boso Peninsula off Chiba Prefecture.

The 1896 tsunami triggered by the temblor that struck off Sanriku killed some 22,000 people.

The prediction by the government panel covered areas including waters off Fukushima Prefecture, home to the Fukushima No. 1 plant, which suffered a triple reactor meltdown due to damage from the tsunami unleashed by the March 11, 2011, magnitude-9.0 earthquake that hit Fukushima and other parts in the Tohoku region.

“Compared with earthquakes that occur in active faults once in thousands of years, the probability (of 20 percent in 30 years) is surprisingly high and cannot be ignored,” Shimazaki, who played a central role in drawing up the long-term tsunami prediction and is now professor emeritus at the University of Tokyo, said.

However, he said that just before the release of a report on the prediction, the secretariat of the research headquarters added a paragraph stressing the uncertainty of the forecast.

“An official of the Cabinet Office responsible for anti-disaster measures insisted on having a different committee discuss long-term tsunami prediction,” he said. “This was something that had never happened before, and I felt pressure.” He added, “It was puzzling and frightening.”

Shimazaki said the Central Disaster Prevention Council (CDPC) of the Cabinet Office ended up making tsunami assumptions that were far removed from the prediction by the Headquarters for Earthquake Research Promotion.

The CDPC assumed that only the northern part of the Tohoku region would be hit by tsunami, based on the premise that a recurrence of the 1896 Sanriku earthquake would occur in the same place, explained Shimazaki.

Huge tsunami around the same location near the Japan Trench have occurred at intervals of hundreds of years, and only about 100 years have passed since the 1896 earthquake, he noted.

The CDPC, which is tasked with devising anti-disaster measures based on the government-affiliated research body’s long-term predictions, chose to focus on the low probability and turned its eyes away from waters off the southern part of the Tohoku region, including Fukushima and Ibaraki Prefecture, just south of Fukushima, Shimazaki said.

He admitted that it is difficult for seismologists to predict earthquakes and tsunami with perfect accuracy, saying that while temblors do take place repeatedly in the same area they occur in somewhat different locations.

But Shimazaki added, “We can make assumptions about the location, timing and size to some extent, within certain ranges.

“Such assumptions were made, but were not utilized for the Fukushima No. 1 plant,” he said.

Shimazaki, 70, has also served as chairman of the Coordinating Committee for Earthquake Prediction and acting chairman of the Nuclear Regulation Authority. At the NRA, he played a major role in the work to create the country’s stricter nuclear plant safety standards based on lessons from the Fukushima No. 1 disaster.

Last July, he appeared in court as a witness for plaintiffs suing the central government and Tepco over the nuclear disaster.

“A lot of people died in the quake and tsunami,” Shimazaki said. “I’m also responsible for failing to reduce the damage.”

Stressing that such a disaster that claimed so many lives must never be repeated, Shimazaki said, “We must find out why it happened, but the causes are not being pursued.”

“The mistakes will be repeated if nothing is done,” he said as he explained why he decided to speak in court.

He also said assumptions of tsunami occurring on the Sea of Japan side of the country, announced by a land ministry working group in 2014, were not sufficient.

“If a catastrophic disaster happens again, they might again claim that it was beyond their assumptions,” he said. “That can’t be permitted.”

Although five years have passed since the nuclear meltdowns, Shimazaki said he doubts anything has changed.

“I see lack of clarity and responsibility in committees of experts organized by the state,” he said.

“In the world of science, we can together look for facts and can reach agreement to a certain extent. That is not the case when the state is involved, and mistakes will be repeated if we are not aware of the difference.”

Science is used for decision-making by the state, but scientists do not challenge how this is done, he said.

“They have to say ‘no’ if they think something is wrong, but they are not doing this,” Shimazaki said, adding that the lack of clarity around responsibility remains in five years.

http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2016/03/23/national/state-ignored-predictions-10-years-311-tsunami-says-seismologist/#.VvLSl3omySp

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

TEPCO rejected requests for anti-tsunami steps before nuclear crisis

Tokyo Electric Power Co turned down requests in 2009 by the nuclear safety agency to consider concrete steps against tsunami waves at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant, which suffered a tsunami-triggered disaster two years later, government documents showed Friday.

“Do you think you can stop the reactors?” a TEPCO official was quoted as telling Shigeki Nagura of the now-defunct Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency, who was then assigned to review the plant’s safety, in response to one of his requests.

The detailed exchanges between the plant operator and regulator came to light through the latest disclosure of government records on its investigation into the nuclear crisis, adding to evidence that TEPCO failed to take proper safety steps ahead of the world’s worst nuclear accident since the 1986 Chernobyl disaster.

According to records of Nagura’s accounts, Nagura heard TEPCO’s explanations of its tsunami estimates at the agency office in Tokyo in August and September 2009 as it was becoming clear that the coastal areas of Fukushima and Miyagi prefectures were hit by massive tsunami in an 869 earthquake.

TEPCO said the height of waves was estimated to be around 8 meters above sea level and will not reach the plant site located at a height of 10 meters, they show.

But Nagura said he remembered thinking pumps with key cooling functions, which are located on the ground at a height of 4 meters, “will not make it” and told TEPCO, “If this is the outcome, you better consider concrete responses.”

In refusing to immediately act, TEPCO said it would wait for related studies to be carried out by the academic society of civil engineers, which it had requested to be done by March 2012.

Nagura also proposed placing the pumps inside buildings to protect them from being exposed to water, but a TEPCO official told him, “Our company cannot make a decision without seeing the results of the (studies by the) society of civil engineers.”

Then another TEPCO official told Nagura, “Do you think you can stop the reactors?” according to the government documents.

Nagura recalled in the documents, “I wondered why I had to be told such a thing.” But he also admitted that, after all, he only encouraged TEPCO to “consider” tsunami countermeasures and did not request that it “take” specific measures.

The Fukushima crisis has revealed how Japan, which had boasted of possessing the world’s safest nuclear power plants, was ill-prepared against a severe nuclear accident. Three reactors suffered core meltdowns after they lost their key cooling functions amid a loss of all electrical power following a huge earthquake and tsunami in March 2011.

The government-appointed nuclear accident investigation panel has already issued a final report, and the government is now gradually disclosing the records of hearings conducted to people involved.

Source: Japan Today

http://www.japantoday.com/category/national/view/tepco-rejected-requests-for-anti-tsunami-steps-before-nuclear-crisis

September 26, 2015 Posted by | Japan | , | Leave a comment