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Fukushima sake shop opens in New York

Plainly criminal. Taking advantage of the unknowing American public and at the same time using such sales as propaganda in Japan telling to the Japanese public that it is safe, look even the Americans buy it. 
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December 2, 2018
The Fukushima government has opened a sake shop in New York specializing in brews from the prefecture.
 
The shop opened its doors on Saturday inside a commercial facility in Manhattan. Officials from the prefecture and the facility celebrated the occasion.
 
Sake sales are booming in the United States. Exports to the US have increased 50 percent in the past 10 years.
 
Sakes brewed in Fukushima Prefecture have performed well in competitions. The shop offers 50 brands from 11 breweries.
 
One customer said he’s tasted Japanese sake several times before, but none were as good as the one he tried in the shop. He said he would like to visit Fukushima someday.
 
A Fukushima tourism official said breweries in the prefecture are having a hard time finding buyers since the 2011 disaster. He said he hopes the shop will boost the image of Fukushima’s sakes worldwide.
 
The shop will operate until March next year.
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December 7, 2018 Posted by | Fukushima 2018 | , , , , | Leave a comment

Are the EPA’s Emergency Radiation Limits a Cover for Fukushima Fumbles?

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The Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant in 2002, before the 2011 explosion. The EPA is poised to issue new radiation limits for a nuclear emergency set thousands of times higher than allowed by federal law.

 

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is poised to issue guidelines that would set radiation limits for drinking water during the “intermediate period” after the releases from a radioactive emergency, such as an accident at a nuclear power plant, have been brought under control. The emergency limits would allow the public to be exposed to radiation levels hundreds and even thousands of times higher than typically allowed by federal law.

Opponents say that under the proposed guidelines, concentration limits for several types of radionuclides would allow a lifetime permissible dose in a week or a month, or the equivalent of 250 chest x-rays a year, according to Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility, a watchdog group that represents government employees.

The EPA has stressed that the proposal is aimed at guiding state and local leaders during a crisis and would not change existing federal radiation limits for the water we drink every day, which are much more stringent, and assume there may be decades of regular consumption. Critics of the new proposal say the emergency guidelines are a public relations ploy to play down the dangers of radiation and provide cover for an agency that fumbled during the Fukushima disaster in 2011.

The emergency limits are even higher than those proposed by the EPA during the final days of the Bush administration, which withdrew the proposal after facing public scrutiny and left the Obama administration with the job of finalizing the guidelines.

Now, in the twilight of the Obama administration, the EPA’s “Protective Action Guidelines” for drinking water are once again drawing fire from nuclear watchdogs and public officials.

“The message here is that the American public should learn to love radiation, and that much higher levels than what are set by the statutory limits are OK,” said Jeff Ruch, executive director of Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER), a watchdog group that represents government employees.

PEER says that internal documents released under the Freedom of Information Act show the EPA’s radiation division hid proposed limits for dozens of radionuclides from the public — and even from other divisions within the agency that were critical of the plan — in order to “avoid confusion” until the final guidelines were released.

“It’s not like this has been done with a lot of openness,” Ruch said. “We had to sue them to find out what levels they would allow.”

EPA Caught With Its “Pants Down” During Fukushima

In 2011, the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant in Japan suffered a meltdown after a deadly earthquake and tsunami and released massive amounts of dangerous radioactive contaminants into the ocean and atmosphere. Ruch said the EPA was caught with its “pants down” as this radiation was detected in air, rainwater and even milk in the United States. The EPA had been working since the early 1990s to develop guidelines on how the government should respond to such a disaster, but specific limits for radiation in drinking water are only now being set.

As Truthout reported at the time, the EPA told the public that radiation from the disaster would not reach the US at levels high enough to pose a public health concern, even as the agency’s own data showed concentrations of radionuclides in rain water far exceeding federal drinking water standards. As Japan struggled with a major nuclear crisis and the media debated the relative danger of radioactive plumes blowing about the world’s atmosphere, the EPA quietly stopped running extra tests for radiation less than two months after the disaster began.

By then, samples of cow’s milk, rain and drinking water from across the country tested positive for radiation from the Fukushima plant, and nuclear critics warned that it was difficult to tell whether there could be impacts on human health in the absence of enhanced radiation monitoring.

The EPA’s radiation division is now on the verge of approving a long-awaited update to its Protective Action Guidelines for responding to such a “large-scale emergency.” Ruch said employees from other divisions of the EPA were cut out of the decision-making process, and internal EPA documents indicate that the concentration limits were set higher than those detected during Fukushima to cover for the EPA’s embarrassing performance.

Ruch points to notes from a 2014 briefing at the EPA’s radiation division, which state that the agency “experienced major difficulty conveying its message to the public” that concentrations of radioactive material in rain water, although higher than federal Maximum Containment Levels (MCLs), “were not of immediate concern to public health” during the Fukushima crisis.

No Safe Dose of Radiation

The EPA’s new proposed guidelines are ostensibly meant to help public officials decide when to take protective actions to reduce exposure to radiation, such as asking the public to switch from tap water to bottled water. Most of the manual has already been finalized, except for the section on drinking water, which has been mired in controversy since the Bush administration.

In June, the EPA put the proposal up for public comment, but only made limits for four types of radionuclides publicly available. Critics say the agency still received 60,000 comments opposing the guidelines, including statements from 65 environmental groups. PEER sued the agency under the Freedom of Information Act in October, and the EPA released the proposed limits for dozens of other radionuclides just days before the Christmas holiday.

Dan Hirsch, president of the Committee to Bridge the Gap, a nuclear watchdog group, attended a briefing with EPA officials on Thursday and told Truthout that the agency intends to finalize the guidelines despite ongoing protests.

“It’s really hard to believe,” Hirsch said.

Underlying the debate are MCLs for radioactive material in drinking water set by the Safe Drinking Water Act of 1974. Hirsch said that the nuclear industry has tried to “get out from under” these limits for years, but federal law prohibits them from being lowered. So, the industry and its allies at the EPA focused on the Protective Action Guidelines instead.

The MCLs are based on the idea that adults should not be exposed to more than 4 millirem (mrem) of radiation in drinking water each year for a 70-year period, for a total of 280 mrem in an average lifetime. Since the “intermediate phase” following a nuclear emergency is expected to be temporary, the emergency radionuclide limits are capped at amounts that would expose adults to a maximum 500 mrem dose of radiation over the course of a year.

Hirsch said that such as dose of radiation is equivalent to receiving a chest x-ray about five days a week for a year. The EPA arrived at these figures by “playing” with the numbers used to calculate radiation absorbed by human organs, which in turn increased the amount of certain radionuclides that can be present in drinking water by hundreds, thousands and even tens of thousands of times.

Hirsch said guidelines reflect the nuclear industry’s longstanding argument that MCLs are far too low, and the public should accept higher doses of radiation as permissible in an emergency.

The EPA claims there have been “advancements in scientific understanding of radiation dose and risk” since it began drawing up the Protective Action Guidelines back in 1992, and its emergency dose guidelines are based on the “latest science.” The guidelines are also designed to provide flexibility for decision-makers responding to a crisis.

Nuclear critics, however, argue that no dose of radiation is safe. Even small doses can cause cancer in small portions of a large population.

“The science has actually worked in the opposite direction over the years,” Hirsch said. “Science has concluded that radiation is much more dangerous than what was assumed in the ’70s.”

The guidelines are based on expected exposure over the course of one year, but both Ruch and Hirsch point out that radiation from nuclear calamity could persist for far longer — just look at the fallout from Fukushima, which Japan has struggled with for years. Radiation from the disaster is still being detected in fish on North America’s western coast. They argue that the public needs better protections in the event of an emergency, and the nuclear industry should not be let off the hook based on inflated safety limits.

“The whole thing appears to be [an attempt to] achieve a post-incident reaction of ‘don’t worry be happy,'” Ruch said.

When even small doses of radiation are understood to pose a health risk, however small, setting radiation limits for a nuclear emergency is bound to be controversial.

Unfortunately, this is the radioactive reality of living in the modern nuclear world.

http://www.truth-out.org/news/item/39044-are-the-epa-s-emergency-radiation-limits-a-cover-for-fukushima-fumbles

January 12, 2017 Posted by | Fukushima 2017 | , , | Leave a comment

Fukushima radiation has reached U.S. shores

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Tanks holding radiation contaminated water at the Tokyo Electric Power Co.’s embattled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant on February 25, 2016 in Okuma, Japan.

Its official. Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute has samples of Fukushima-sourced cesium-134 in salmon off the Pacific Coast of Oregon. Given cesium-134 has such a short half-life the source is linked to the on-going leaks from Japan’s 2011 nuclear disaster. While the amount is still very, very low, it remains a concern given the Fukushima disaster is still not contained after more than five years.

SALEM, Ore. — For the first time, seaborne radiation from Japan’s Fukushima nuclear disaster has been detected on the West Coast of the United States.

Cesium-134, the so-called fingerprint of Fukushima, was measured in seawater samples taken from Tillamook Bay and Gold Beach in Oregon, according to researchers from the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution.

Because of its short half-life, cesium-134 can only have come from Fukushima.

For the first time, cesium-134 has also been detected in a Canadian salmon, according to the Fukushima InFORM project, led by University of Victoria chemical oceanographer Jay Cullen.

Should we be worried? In both cases, levels are extremely low, the researchers said, and don’t pose a danger to humans or the environment.

Massive amounts of contaminated water were released from the crippled nuclear plant following a 9.0 magnitude earthquake and tsunami in March 2011. More radiation was released to the air, then fell to the sea.

Woods Hole chemical oceanographer Ken Buesseler runs a crowd-funded, citizen science seawater sampling project that has tracked the radiation plume as it slowly makes its way across the Pacific Ocean.

The Oregon samples, marking the first time cesium-134 has been detected on U.S. shores, were taken in January and February of 2016 and later analyzed. They each measured 0.3 becquerels per cubic meter of cesium-134.

Buesseler’s team previously had found the isotope in a sample of seawater taken from a dock on Vancouver Island, B.C., marking its landfall in North America.

In Canada, Cullen leads the InFORM project to assess radiological risks to that country’s oceans following the nuclear disaster. It is a partnership of a dozen academic, government and non-profit organizations.

Last month, the group reported that a single sockeye salmon, sampled from Okanagan Lake in the summer of 2015, had tested positive for cesium-134.

The level was more than 1,000 times lower than the action level set by Health Canada, and is no significant risk to consumers, Cullen said.

Buesseler’s most recent samples off the West Coast also are showing higher-than background levels of cesium-137, another Fukushima isotope that already is present in the world’s oceans because of nuclear testing in the 1950s and 1960s.

Those results will become more important in tracking the radiation plume, Buesseler said, because the short half-life of cesium-134 makes it harder to detect as time goes on.

Cesium-134 has a half-life of two years, meaning it’s down to a fraction of what it was five years ago, he said. Cesium-137 has a 30-year half-life.

A recent InFORM analysis of Buesseler’s data concluded that concentrations of cesium-137 have increased considerably in the central northeast Pacific, although they still are at levels that pose no concern.

It appears that the plume has spread throughout this vast area from Alaska to California,” the scientists wrote.

They estimated that the plume is moving toward the coast at roughly twice the speed of a garden snail. Radiation levels have not yet peaked.

As the contamination plume progresses towards our coast we expect levels closer to shore to increase over the coming year,” Cullen said.

Even that peak won’t be a health concern, Buesseler said. But the models will help scientists model ocean currents in the future.

That could prove important if there is another disaster or accident at the Fukushima plant, which houses more than a thousand huge steel tanks of contaminated water and where hundreds of tons of molten fuel remain inside the reactors.

In a worst-case scenario, the fuel would melt through steel-reinforced concrete containment vessels into the ground, uncontrollably spreading radiation into the surrounding soil and groundwater and eventually into the sea.

That’s the type of thing where people are still concerned, as am I, about what could happen,” Buesseler said.

Scientists now know it would take four to five years for any further contamination from the plant to reach the West Coast.

Tracking the plume

Scientists are beginning to use an increase in cesium-137 instead of the presence of cesium-134 to track the plume of radioactive contamination from Japan’s Fukushima nuclear disaster. These figures show the increase in cesium-137 near the West Coast between 2014 and 2015.

Graphic courtesy Dr. Jonathan Kellogg of InFORM, with data from Dr. John Smith, Department of Fisheries and Oceans Canada, and Dr. Ken Buesseler, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute.

http://www.msn.com/en-us/news/us/fukushima-radiation-has-reached-us-shores/ar-AAlkXUr?li=BBmkt5R&ocid=spartandhp

 

 

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December 19, 2016 Posted by | Fukushima 2016 | , , , , | Leave a comment

Radiation-absorption tests under development could save lives in nuclear explosion

Direct measurement (like Becquerels) via blood samples described in the article sounds like the way to go.

The key to understand is that this is something that has never existed and we hope it never gets used,” Josh LaBaer, principal investigator and director of the Biodesign Institute at Arizona State University, told Homeland Preparedness News.

The tests could also have civilian applications as well, LaBaer said, such as in the event of industrial accidents at a nuclear power plant or in medical situations when people are exposed to excessive radiation.

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The U.S. government is funding the late-stage development of tests that would quickly determine how much radiation a person has absorbed in the event of a catastrophic nuclear explosion.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response (ASPR) is sponsoring the development of tests that go beyond detecting whether radiation is on a person’s skin to determining the amount of radiation that has been absorbed into a person’s body.

The key to understand is that this is something that has never existed and we hope it never gets used,” Josh LaBaer, principal investigator and director of the Biodesign Institute at Arizona State University, told Homeland Preparedness News.

ASPR’s Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA) will provide more than $21.3 million over four years to develop the tests. Kansas City, Missouri-based MRIGlobal said in a written statement the contract could be extended for up to $100 million over 10 years.

MRIGlobal is partnering with Thermo Fisher Scientific and Arizona State University to lead the development of the program for BARDA. The agency also will provide more than $22.4 million in funding over two years to DxTerity Diagnostics based near Los Angeles.

The challenge was that in the event of a nuclear bomb in a major American city, there is an instantaneous release of high doses of gamma radiation, which is the type of radiation that travels through the air over large distances,” LaBaer said. “In that type of mass casualty event there would be lots of people who would need to be evaluated.”

The task for researchers was to develop a device that could quickly measure how much radiation large numbers of people had potentially absorbed into their organs and blood cells during a nuclear emergency. Devices currently available today can only detect radiation on the skin.

The amount of radiation that gets absorbed into the body has a direct implication on how that person gets triaged and managed,” LaBaer said. Absorption of a small or moderate dose of radiation could require medication, while a larger dose could require hospitalization and a potential bone marrow transplant.

BARDA is supporting development of the tests with the goal of potentially purchasing them from one or more of the companies for the Strategic National Stockpile.

After a six-year effort, the university has developed the ASU radiation (ARad) biodosimetry test, which would generate results in about eight hours and could be used on people who were exposed to radiation up to seven days after the event. HHS said the potential exists where 400,000 or more tests could be processed a week.

In the test, a blood sample is taken to isolate the white blood cells in order to collect the genes that have been exposed to radiation. Certain genes are more predictive when it comes to determining the amount of radiation the body was exposed to.

We were looking for the smallest number of genes we could use but that still were accurate in predicting dose depending on the time after the event,” LaBaer said.

Work to date has been based on animal studies and developing conversion factors to transfer to humans.

The tests could also have civilian applications as well, LaBaer said, such as in the event of industrial accidents at a nuclear power plant or in medical situations when people are exposed to excessive radiation.

https://homelandprepnews.com/featured/20018-radiation-absorption-tests-development-save-lives-nuclear-explosion/

October 24, 2016 Posted by | radiation | , , | Leave a comment

Plutonium from Japan to be disposed of underground in New Mexico

U.S.-bound plutonium that has recently been shipped out of Japan will be disposed of at a nuclear waste repository in New Mexico after being processed for “inertion” at the Savannah River Site atomic facility in South Carolina, according to an official of the National Nuclear Security Administration.

“The plutonium will be diluted into a less sensitive form at the SRS and then transported to the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant (WIPP) for permanent disposal deep underground,” said Ross Matzkin-Bridger in charge of the operation at the NNSA, a nuclear wing of the Department of Energy.

“The dilution process involves mixing the plutonium with inert materials that reduce the concentration of plutonium and make it practically impossible to ever purify again,” he told Kyodo News in a recent phone interview.

The official made the remarks ahead of the latest Nuclear Security Summit, sponsored by President Barack Obama, which began Thursday in Washington.

The fourth such meeting of world leaders is focused on how to secure weapons-usable nuclear materials all over the globe. The summit started after Obama’s 2009 speech in Prague, in which he called for “a world without nuclear weapons” and for which he was awarded a Nobel Peace Prize later that year.

At the previous summit in the Netherlands in March 2014, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe agreed to return plutonium and highly enriched uranium upon request from the Obama administration, which is seeking to strengthen control of nuclear materials.

The removal of 331 kilograms of plutonium and hundreds of kilograms of HEU from the Fast Critical Assembly, a research facility located in the village of Tokai, Ibaraki Prefecture, was completed before the Nuclear Security Summit kicked off.

Japan received the plutonium and HEU fuels from the United States, Britain and France from the late 1960s to early 1970s for research purposes in the name of “Atoms for Peace.”

The nuclear fuel delivery, however, has generated controversy in South Carolina since it was reported that it was en route to the U.S. government-run SRS facility in the state.

South Carolina is “at risk of becoming a permanent dumping ground for nuclear materials,” Gov. Nikki Haley said in a recent letter to Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz, calling for the freight to be stopped or rerouted.

The final disposal at the WIPP, as described by Matzkin-Bridger, may defuse these local concerns in South Carolina.

The WIPP is a repository — about 660 meters underground — for permanently storing nuclear waste created by the U.S. government’s nuclear weapons program.

“The Department of Energy has signed a Record of Decision to implement our preferred option to prepare 6 metric tons of surplus plutonium from the SRS for permanent disposal at the WIPP near Carlsbad, New Mexico,” Matzkin-Bridger explained. “This includes all foreign plutonium that we bring to the United States under our nonproliferation programs.”

The HEU from Japan’s FCA will be “down-blended” to low enriched uranium at the Y-12 National Security Complex in Oak Ridge, Tennessee, according to the official. In the future, LEU will be used for research purpose at research reactors both in the U.S. and Japan, possibly including the FCA.

“This project was accomplished on an accelerated timeline well ahead of schedule, thanks to the hard work and strong cooperation from both sides,” said a U.S.-Japan joint statement released Friday on the sidelines of the Nuclear Security Summit.

“It furthers our mutual goal of minimizing stocks of HEU and separated plutonium,” the document added, emphasizing the importance of the operation in strengthening nuclear security.

In the statement, the Japanese government made a new pledge to remove and transfer HEU fuels from the Kyoto University Critical Assembly (KUCA), another Japanese research institute, to the United States for down-blending and “permanent threat reduction.”

“If the KUCA’s HEU reactor is successfully converted to a LEU unit, it will have a significant meaning for other reactors in the U.S. and European nations, which are pursuing to convert reactors for LEU,” Hironobu Unesaki, a professor at Kyoto University, said. “The KUCA could provide academic outputs for future LEU conversion process worldwide.”

Officials and specialists in both nations have praised the bilateral cooperation, which aims to reduce the threat of nuclear terrorism through securing sensitive materials.

However, the materials recently transferred from Japan are only the tip of the iceberg. Currently, Japanese utilities possess over 47 metric tons of separated plutonium, which is equivalent to about 6,000 nuclear bombs.

At the last Nuclear Security Summit two years ago, Abe restated the nation’s international promise not to possess any plutonium that it has no use for. But the country’s stockpile of the nuclear material has since slightly increased.

A recent court injunction to suspend the operation of two plutonium-consuming reactors in Fukui Prefecture has made a solution for the plutonium problem more elusive.

http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2016/04/02/national/politics-diplomacy/plutonium-japan-disposed-underground-new-mexico/#.Vv80Iiraw3k.facebook

April 4, 2016 Posted by | Japan | , , | Leave a comment