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Fire crews finally extinguish Fukushima blaze in no-go zone as officials battle “radiation rumors”

The official line is don’t you worry about radiation, it is only radiation rumors!!!

n-fukufire-a-20170512-870x650Ground Self-Defense Force personnel work on putting out fire in a forest in Namie, Fukushima Prefecture on May 4

 

FUKUSHIMA – A wildfire near the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant has finally been extinguished after a 12-day battle waged by firefighters and Self-Defense Force troops in special protective gear left 75 hectares of tainted forest scorched, and local officials scrambling to quash radiation rumors.

The wildfire, which was started by lightning, broke out in the town of Namie on April 29 and spread to the adjacent town of Futaba, which co-hosts the meltdown-hit power plant. It was declared extinguished on Wednesday.

Since the area has been a no-go zone since the March 2011 nuclear crisis, residents are basically banned from returning to large portions of the two irradiated towns.

A local task force said that no one was injured by the wildfire and that there has been no significant change in radiation readings.

Because a large swath of the area scorched hadn’t been decontaminated yet, firefighters donned protective gear in addition to goggles, masks and water tanks. They took turns battling the blaze in two-hour shifts to avoid heatstroke.

Ground Self-Defense Force troops and fire authorities mobilized close to 5,000 people while nine municipalities, including the Tokyo Metropolitan Government, provided helicopters.

The Fukushima Prefectural Government denied online rumors saying the fire was releasing radioactive material into the air from trees and other plant life that absorbed fallout from the power plant, which also lies partly in the town of Okuma. It published data on its website showing no significant change in radiation readings.

We will let people not only in the prefecture, but also in other parts of Japan know about the accurate information,” a prefectural official said.

The Kii Minpo, a newspaper based in Wakayama Prefecture, said in its May 2 edition that once a fire occurs in a highly contaminated forest, “radioactive substances are said to spread the way pollen scatters,” explaining how radiation can get blown into the air.

The publisher said it received around 30 complaints, including one from a farmer in Fukushima, who criticized the evening daily for allegedly spreading an unsubstantiated rumor.

The daily issued an apology a week later in its Tuesday edition.

We caused trouble by making a large number of people worried,” it said.

Atsushi Kawamoto, head of the news division, said that while story may have caused some people anxiety, the newspaper will continue to report on matters of interest to its readers.

That there’s public concern about the spread of radiation is true,” Kawamoto said.

On Tuesday, reconstruction minister Masayoshi Yoshino emphasized that unspecified radiation readings have been unchanged since before the fire.

We will provide accurate and objective information,” he said.

Commenting on the fact that there are no fire crews in the no-go zone, Yoshino said the Reconstruction Agency will consider what kind of support it can offer there the next time a major fire breaks out.

http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2017/05/11/national/fire-crews-finally-extinguish-fukushima-blaze-no-go-zone-officials-battle-radiation-rumors/

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

Multiple wildfires hit Tohoku, approaching near residential areas

9 may 2017

A wildfire continues to burn in a mountain forest in Kamaishi, Iwate Prefecture, on the morning of May 9, 2017.

Helicopters were dispatched to the Iwate Prefecture city of Kamaishi and the Fukushima Prefecture town of Namie on the morning of May 9 as wildfires continue to spread in those areas. Particularly in Kamaishi, a fire apparently came within roughly 300 meters to the closest residential community as of the morning of the same day.

A total of 12 helicopters dispatched from the Self-Defense Forces (SDF) as well as the Iwate, Aomori and Akita prefectural governments started dumping water over mountain forests in the Heita district of Kamaishi at around 5 a.m. An evacuation order has been issued for nearby areas, and as of 10:30 a.m., 71 people had evacuated from their homes. According to the Kamaishi Municipal Government, an area approximately 400 hectares in size has burned down.

Meanwhile, the wildfire in Namie, Fukushima Prefecture, has been burning for over 10 days, and the SDF and Fukushima Prefectural Government have continued efforts to put out the fire.

At the same time, a fire that started in the prefectural town of Aizubange, which burned down eight buildings on May 8 and spread to a nearby forest, was put out on the morning of May 9. The local fire department said a man was cooking wild vegetables in front of his house and rice straw caught on fire.

Meanwhile, Miyagi Prefectural Police detected traces of a bonfire near a forest believed to be the source of the wildfire on May 8 in the prefectural city of Kurihara. The fire burned down roughly 5 hectares, including 11 buildings.

According to the Japan Meteorological Agency, the air on the Pacific side of the Tohoku region has been very dry, with less than 10 percent of an average year’s rainfall recorded over the 10-day period through May 8.

https://mainichi.jp/english/articles/20170509/p2a/00m/0na/019000c

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

Forest fire in the exclusion zone in Fukushima: Why monitoring the radiation dose is not enough for radioprotection

It was announced that the forest fire in Namie was reduced on May 6. Today, on May 7, we still do not have confirmation of the fire’s extinction. Meanwhile, surfing on the internet, we have noticed that many people were looking for radiation dose information, and relied on it for radioprotection.

Since we also received several questions and comments, we have decided to publish additional comments of M.Yoichi Ozawa of “Fukuichi (Fukushima Daiichi) Area Environmental Radiation Monitoring Project”, seen below.

In order to protect yourself from radiation, you must take into account both the radiation dose and the contamination. In the case of the radiation dose, you can imagine something like fixed paint. It requires radioprotection measures against external exposure. For example, in a high-dose place, you control the amount of exposure by staying a shorter period of time. The dose is expressed by units like Sv/h.

Contamination is like a floating powder, which can enter the body by breathing, eating and drinking, and cause internal irradiation. The radioprotection requires equipment such as clothes and masks. Contamination is taken into account in terms of the surface contamination density and the concentration of radioactive substances in the air.

The surface contamination density is the radioactivity per unit area, where radioactive materials are deposited or absorbed on the surface of the material. It is expressed by units such as Bq/cm2 and Bq/m2.

The concentration of radioactive material in the air is expressed by units such as Bq/cm3 or Bq/m3.

The following is a table in the radioprotection training textbook used in the crippled TEPCO Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant. The radioprotection is staged according to the classified areas. The lines in the table show the radiation dose, whereas the columns show contamination (in terms of the surface contamination density and the concentration of radioactive substances in the air). The combination gives 12 areas from 1A to 3D areas, and the radioprotection measures for workers are adapted accordingly.
For example, in the D areas workers are provided with a full mask and an oxygen cylinder.

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Similarly, in the regions affected by the TEPCO Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant accident, we must consider the means of radioprotection by taking into account both the radiation dose and contamination.

In the case of environmental contamination, the air contamination density changes according to conditions such as fire, wind, and rain. Therefore, to protect ourselves, we need to monitor continuously not only during but also after the fire.

Furthermore, it has to be noted that monitoring post and air dust sampling show only gamma rays represented by cesium 137. Strontium 90 and plutonium 239 which emit beta and alpha rays that are most damaging in cases of internal irradiation are not measured. Aside from the question of the amount, these are certainly floating, and the risk of internal exposure cannot be ignored.

Please refer to the contamination map of the areas where the evacuation orders were lifted from last year to this year.
In light of this map and the TEPCO manual, you can see that there are many places in the area where you can return, and where you should wear heavy equipment with a full mask if you were a worker in a nuclear power plant.

The scandalous deficiency of the health scheme in Fukushima

Incredible contamination in Namie, Fukushima

New data show massive radiation levels in Odaka, Minamisoma

In such an environment, ordinary people without a manual, nor professional radioprotection training are allowed to return, including babies and pregnant women.

In addition, whereas the workers are protected by the radiation protection standards shown in the table, in the context of minimization of the accident, residents are exposed to highly radio-contaminated environments without equipment.

If you think about it, it just does not make sense.

https://fukushima311voices.wordpress.com/2017/05/07/forest-fire-in-the-exclusion-zone-in-fukushima-why-monitoring-the-radiation-dose-is-not-enough-for-radioprotection/

 

 

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

Firefighters faced with wildfire in radioactive area near Fukushima Nuclear Power Plant

FukushimaFire.jpgAbove: wildfire near the Fukushima Nuclear Power Plant. Screengrab from KYODO News video.

 

Firefighters are struggling to contain a wildfire in an area that is contaminated with radiation near the Fukushima Nuclear Power Plant that melted down after the 2011 earthquake and tsunami off the coast of Japan (map).

The blaze, estimated at about 50 acres, started April 29 near the town of Namie. The video below shows helicopters dropping water on the fire.

 

http://wildfiretoday.com/2017/05/06/firefighters-faced-with-wildfire-in-radioactive-area-near-fukushima-nuclear-power-plant/

May 7, 2017 Posted by | Fukushima 2017 | , , | 1 Comment

Wildfires in Fukushima: reliable data or disinformation?

The forest fire in the Ide area of Namie in Fukushima prefecture, which occurred on April 29, has been going on for almost a week.
See video 消火活動動画
Video and photo sources 写真と動画の出典 : 陸上自衛隊第6師団; JGSD 6th Division
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The major media reported it at the time of the outbreak, but except for some local television news, the fire has not been covered much. Furthermore, the news does not pop out immediately on web sites, and we have to make a considerable effort to find the information. Let’s keep in mind that most of the nuclear accident victims have only cellphones, and not PCs, which makes it very difficult to search for the information if it involves several clicks and the opening of PDF documents.
The danger of the secondary dispersion of the radioactive substances is not mentioned at all in the announcement of Fukushima prefecture (see the picture below).
Equally, no mention is made about the danger on its homepage.
This is the announcement from Fukushima prefecture. The danger of the secondary dispersion of radioactive substances is not given to the residents, though it’s said that there is the possibility of repression of the fire.
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As for the media, about the secondary dispersion of the radioactive substances that accompanies the fire, they say that there is no change in the radioactivity measurement values at present, and that there is nothing to worry about. The local newspaper Fukushima Minyu (in Japanese) calls for attention to the hoax about radiation risk.
The information source of the risk of secondary dispersion of radioactive substances used by the media is the data of airborne radioactivity measurements by monitoring posts and the airborne dust measurement published on the Fukushima prefecture website.
For those who have difficulties to open the PDF files, please look at the pictures below.
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Are these data reliable?
In addition, the public relations of Fukushima prefecture as well as the major media say that there is no influence on inhabitants’ life and health because there is little variation in the airborne radioactivity measurements. Do the measurement values of the individual dosimeters or of the nearby monitoring post help the residents to judge the situation?
Currently, the “Fukuichi (Fukushima Daiichi) Area Environmental Radiation Monitoring Project” group and “Chikurin-sha” are collecting the data of airborne dusts by setting up linen and dust samplers.
We have received comments from Mr Yoichi Ozawa of the “Fukuichi Area Environmental Radiation Monitoring Project”, that we are reporting below.
A. Airborne radioactivity measures in terms of sievert are not appropriate.
“The problem is of that of the increased radio-contamination”
-The sievert is a measure of the health effect of ionizing radiation on the human body, and not a unit of measure of the environmental contamination (becquerel).
-It evaluates how much pollution has come in with the radioactive plume.
-The representative measuring device is a monitoring post (MP) that measures the radiation dose at one meter from the ground. The monitoring posts are installed after the decontamination work of the surrounding environment.
-MP measures only gamma rays, beta and alpha rays are not covered, and thus it is not suitable for environmental contamination evaluation.
-MP gives an average of 10 minutes measurements. Consequently, the result cannot reflect the passage of radio-contaminated plumes of a few seconds.
-Even if the dose is high, if there is less contamination, the fear of internal irradiation is less.
B. Reliability of the data on airborne dust published by Fukushima.
-The time period of the plume collecting in the environment is too short. The air is flowing.
In normal nuclear facilities, dust sampling takes about 20 minutes. It is because all air in the sealed room is absorbed in this time. However, it is not possible to absorb all air in the open environnent. Therefore, it takes a long time to collect the dust and to measure it. In our case, it takes us a week for sampling and from 2 to 4 days for measurement.
-The measurement time is too short. They should continue measuring until cesium 134 is detected.
-The result should be compared to the data before the accident.
-We cannot help thinking that all data are organized in such a way that they are either under the lowest limit (marked as ND – Non Detected) or they conform to the new standards.
We have installed linen cloths at 10 locations and air dust samplers in 2 places. The installation of linen surrounds the fire scene, like in the case of usual measurements of “Fukuichi Area Environmental Radiation Monitoring Project”. They are installed in Namie Town, Futaba Town, Okuma Town, Tamura City, Katsurao village, and Minami Soma City, surrounding the scene of the forest fire (Mount Jyuman in the map).
good-map-jyuman-eng.jpg
It is premature to draw conclusions about the secondary dispersion of radioactive materials.
I think that the peak will come after three to four days after the extinction of the fire. But then, the contamination will continue to move with the wind and rain.
In addition, a summary of the measurement results of the fallen leaves is underway. They are from the border between Namie Town and Katsurao Village, which is 4-5km west of the fire site. The contamination is lower than that of the fallen leaves collected at the Ogaki dam. We are also measuring the burnt ash.
We are working with Mr. Kazuhide Fukada, another member of “Fukuichi Area Environmental Radiation Measuring Project”, living in Miyakoji District, Tamura city. When we burn the fallen leaves measuring 5,710 Bq/kg, we obtain the ash of 19,500 Bq/kg that is, 3.4 times more densly contaminated in terms of weight. We can concentrate the contamination up to about 30 times artificially, but I think this is about the value in the natural environment.
In about two weeks, the data on airborne dust by the citizen groups will come out. We will publish the information as soon as it is known.
However, it is likely that the the environmental contamination fluctuation will become different by this fire, and we need long-term rather than short-term monitoring.
It would be most dangerous to stop monitoring and paying attention after the fire is extinguished. The current media reports seem to be leading us to that direction.
Just after the Tepco Fukushima Daiichi accident, the central government repeated many times that “there is no immediate risk on health”. The major media fled from Fukushima, and they diffused the news from Tokyo, saying that there was nothing to worry about in Fukushima.
We have not forgotten.
Fukuichi Area Environmental Radiation Monitoring Project web site (in Japanese)

May 7, 2017 Posted by | Fukushima 2017 | , , , | Leave a comment

Mount Juman forest fire in Namie

Namie-Fire-Nippon-TV.jpg

 

A forest fire has been burning in the no-entry zone of Namie in Fukushima since April 29th, and is now in its fourth day. This has been the subject of many news reports of varying quality, and we are following the situation closely.

The site is among the most highly-contaminated by the Fukushima disaster, well within the “difficult-to-return” zone. Clicking this link will center the Safecast web map on the site of the fire at Juman-yama, which we derived by comparing terrain in news videos and in Google Earth.

To summarize what has been reported so far:

The fire is in a mountainous area of Namie Town called Juman-yama, about 10 km from the Fukushima Daiichi plant. The Daiichi plant itself is not at risk from this blaze.

The fire appears to have begun on Sat. April 29, caused by a lightning strike.

Fire-fighters used helicopters to dump water on it, and it appeared to have largely died out on the morning of April 30, but high winds revived it shortly after.

The burned and burning area has been growing, and as of May 2 was approximately 20 hectares.

We don’t have much information about wind direction, which is variable, but predominant winds would blow the smoke eastward towards the ocean (generally over the Daiichi plant site and the towns of Okuma and Futaba).

The most informative news report we’ve seen so far is from Fukushima Chuo TV, on May 1. Prof. Kenji Namba from Univ. of Tokyo notes that the fire can be expected to spread radioactive cesium from the trees in smoke and ash, a general risk pointed out by many experts in the past. He also notes that a monitoring post at Tomioka Station, about 15 km to the southeast of the fire site, has shown what appears to be a very small increase in radiation levels there since the start of the fire. We believe that data from many more points should be examined before ascribing any significance to this kind of reading.

Our closest Pointcast fixed sensor in the area is in Namie, about 7.8 km to the east-northeast of the fire. Its readings have remained relatively constant since the start of the fire, with no appreciable change in radiation levels detected. The time series graph for this sensor showing the change in radiation over the past 30 days can be accessed here.

We also have Pointcast sensors in the nearby towns of Tomioka and Odaka. Neither these nor any other Pointcast sensors show any appreciable increase in radiation levels so far.

Examining readings from government radiation monitoring posts shows what appear to be noticeable “bumps” at some locations around May 1. But these are not large spikes, and in general appear to be within the range of the variation seen in recent months. However, any detection at all would depend on the direction the wind is blowing the smoke plume.

Though any increases in radiation dose rates seen so far appear to be very small, inhaling the smoke from this fire could lead to an internal dose of radioactive cesium. We strongly suggest that people avoid inhaling this smoke. The area surrounding the fire where such risks would be highest are in fact closed to the public and therefore inaccessible, but the additional radiation risk to firefighters is making it difficult to send adequate personnel to battle the blaze.

News videos here:

NHK, Sun. April 30, 2017

Nippon Television, Tues. May 2, 2017

http://blog.safecast.org/2017/05/mount-juman-forest-fire-in-namie/

May 3, 2017 Posted by | Fukushima 2017 | , , , , | 2 Comments

Wildfires in Namie

Wildfire is raging in the highly radio-contaminated area in Namie, Fukushima prefecture. Japanese authorities are minimizing the radiation risk. It is time to provide information from civil movement point of view. We are publishing here the translation of an article by Suzuki Hiroki, a freelance journalist.

What is happening in Namie, the 74th month after the Fukushima Daiichi accident?

There is a wildfire in the forest in the “difficult-to-return zone” causing rising concerns about the secondary dispersion of radioactive substances.
“Is it safe?” Voices of rage from the townspeople towards the central and local governments that hurried the evacuation order lifting.

A forest fire broke out on 29 April in Namie Town, Fukushima Prefecture, where one month had passed since the evacuation orders were lifted from a large part of the town. Moreover, it happened in the “difficult-to-return zone” where radio-contamination is especially high even in Namie town. Strong winds and high concentrations of contamination have made it difficult to fight against the fire and the fire has not been extinguished as of the night of May 1. Although the evacuation orders have been lifted as “the environment for everyday life is sufficiently in order”, it has been made clear that Namie has a perpetual risk of secondary dispersion of radioactive materials in the future. The fact that there is no means to prevent internal irradiation of firefighters as well as of returning residents brought home again the “reality” of the nuclear power plant accident.

[Firefighters cannot get close to the scene]

At the Sports Center near Japan Railway Joban Line Namie station fire-fighting helicopters in Fukushima and Miyagi prefecture land in the parking lot every few minutes. Water is put in the tanks with the hose connected to the fire hydrant. In the direction where the helicopter flew, smoke was still rising from the ridge of the mountain. Only the sound of the propeller echoes in the city empty of its population. Since April 29, the day when “Namie Town Security Watch Corps” rushed to the fire station, the feared forest fire is still ongoing 2 days later. The concern of secondary dispersion of radioactive materials is heightened.

The burned area has exceeded 10 hectares. Although the fire is weakening, the fire department is cautious in declaring the judgment of “repression” and “extinguishing” of fire, for the fire became strong once again after it was judged being “repressed”. On May 2, since 5:00 am, BABA Tamotsu, the mayor of Namie, and OWADA Hitoshi, head of the headquarters of the Futaba Regional Communities Area Union Fire Department, have been busy inspecting the area from the sky by helicopter.

Jyumanyama” (altitude 448.4 meters), where lightning caused the fire, is located in the Ide district, which is designated as a “difficult-to-return zone”. Although the evacuation orders were partially lifted on March 31 from Namie, the “difficult-to-return zone” is still severely restricted from entering. The town’s fire brigade was called up, but its members cannot go close to the scene. It takes two hours on foot from the entrance of the mountain trail to the site, according to the headquarters of the Futaba Regional Communities Area Union Fire Department. The spot could not be specified easily. As soon as it was localized from the sky by the helicopter, firefighters climbed the steep slopes without trails while receiving the guidance of the Forestry agency and Iwaki Forest management office staff. In the meantime, smoke fueled by strong winds reduced visibility like a dense fog. But it’s not just smoke that is dangerous – there is the danger of radioactivity as well The effect of the absorption can attached to the protective mask only functions up to three hours. The exchange in the contaminated smoke is accompanied by the irradiation risk. Considering the health hazards of the members, it is not a good idea to enter the virgin forest without a discussed plan. On April 30 at noon, UCHIBORI Masao, the governor of Fukushima Prefecture requested to dispatch the 6th Division of the JGSDF (Yamagata Prefecture) for the disaster. The amount of water spray exceeds 400 tons by GSDF alone.

However, it is not possible to stop the secondary dispersion of the radioactive material even by the SDF. This is the specificity and danger of this forest fire.

photo-1.jpeg(Top) At the Namie Regional Sports Center parking lot, fire-fighting helicopters came back one after another for water supply. The extinguishing activity from air is scheduled again on May 2 in the morning.

photo-2(Middle) From Jyumanyama mountains there was still smoke.
Secondary dispersion of radioactive materials is concerned. (Taken on May 1 around 11 a.m.)

photo-3(Bottom) Firefighters entered the field in protective gear and masks, but ” practically, there are no means to prevent the exposure to the radiation”.

 

The radiation of the firefighters is unavoidable”.

The secondary dispersion of radioactive materials is an alarming thing, but it has been expected. Judging that ‘the living environment is generally in order’, evacuation orders have been lifted, but once the wildfire starts, this is what happens. Did the government lift the evacuation orders after presenting these risks to the townspeople? I do not have any confidence in the central government nor in the local administration. They are good at appealing that everything is going well in this country. It was the same during the war. In that sense, it is a system of ‘self-responsibility’. I have no choice but to take care of myself”, said a man in his 40s, who was evacuated from the Hiwatari-Ushiwata administrative district. No active effort to announce the secondary dispersion of radioactive materials associated with forest fires was made by the town. It was delivered at last in the Mail magazine of the town at 10:00 a.m. on May 1. The following warning sentence was diffused: “Please do not approach carelessly, for it is dangerous”. It was not known to the townspeople for more than a full day because the fire report is dated Saturday evening. “The administration is difficult to move on Saturdays and Sundays,” said the General Affairs Disaster Security Division. On May 1 at 7:00 a.m., the same content was announced to the entire neighborhood by the disaster prevention radio, and “Notice of forest fire conditions” was published on the town homepage. However, there was no call for wearing a mask related to secondary dispersion of radioactive materials.

No emergency calls have reached the town council members. A certain council member said, “It is a good thing that I happened to learn about it by the television news. Otherwise, I wouldn’t have been able to answer when questioned by the townspeople about this. I want to request to make a contact system because the forest fire in the “difficult-to-return zone” is an emergency situation.”

This council member says, “it is only a personal opinion, but it is natural to assume that radioactive cesium will scatter with smoke and ash, and the fire extinguishing activity should be carried out while measuring how much radioactive material there is in the one square meter. However, it is not realistic, and I have to say that it is not possible to prevent internal irradiation exposure after all.” Another council member also said, “the risk was not examined when the evacuation order was lifted. The danger has been proven by the forest fire this time.” He is ready to take the matter to the Town Council.

As for the irradiation risk of the fire brigade, the headquarters of the Futaba Regional Communities Area Union Fire Department admit that while they can make a point “not to carry out the contaminated materials from the area”, there is no means to prevent the exposure of the fire brigade member. They can only try to shorten the time of stay in the “difficult-to-return zone”, but in reality it takes time to reach the site, and it is difficult to reach it. We have to admit that the exposure is unavoidable.” I wonder if we can consider the situation as “nuclear accident is under control”?

 

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There was a warning about forest fires since even before the nuclear accident. The airborne radioactivity of Tsushima District, which is designated as “difficult-to-return zone” like Ide district, is still high. It is sad to say, but the risk of secondary dispersion of radioactive materials with a fire is high.

 

Difficulty to monitor fine particles

There is no significant fluctuation in the airborne radioactivity measured by the monitoring posts installed inside and outside the town. The local media also actively convey the point. However, Mr. Yoichi Ozawa of the citizen’s group in Minamisoma City, “Fukuichi Environmental Radiation Monitoring Project”, pointed out that “radioactive particulates cannot be caught by a dosimeter or monitoring post.” In response to the forest fire, the above Project and the Citizen Radioactivity Monitoring Center “Chikurin-sha” (Hinode Town, Nishitama County, Tokyo) put several linen cloths in the town of Namie. It is thought that the secondary dispersion situation can be estimated by examining the adhesion of the fine particles that cause the internal irradiation.

The central government also faces a cautious posture about the secondary dispersion of the radioactive materials by combustion. On April 20, at the meeting with the residents of Iitate village the person in charge of the Cabinet Office asked the villagers “not to burn the field until the results of experimentation and analyses about how much radioactive materials scatter and adhere to crops etc. come out.” It is a reality that even the bureaucrats of the central government who rushed the evacuation order lifting are not able to affirm that it is safe.

According to the research by Mr. Ozawa and his colleagues, radioactive cesium of 17,000 Bq/kg was found in the fallen leaves near the Ogaki dam last autumn in the “difficult-to-return zone”. “The radioactive material is concentrated by several dozen times by burning. Some experts have pointed out hundreds of times”, says Ozawa. However, neither the central government nor Fukushima prefecture nor the Namie town warn about the internal irradiation at all.

They lifted the evacuation order saying that it is safe and secure, but it’s not at all,” says a 70 year old resident angrily. A lot of worries about the exposure risk were voiced at the residents consultation meeting just before the lifting of evacuation orders. Some say, “it is useless to worry all the time. Since the nuclear power plant accident has happened, we have to think in a constructive way now”, but unfortunately many townspeople’s worries have become real. Moreover, it’s quite possible that the forest fire was caused by lightning. Namie will have to take the same risks in the future. The fire site continues smoldering. Radioactive materials are slowly spreading.

Published in Taminokoe shimbun, May 2, 2017.

https://fukushima311voices.wordpress.com/2017/05/02/wildfires-in-namie/

May 3, 2017 Posted by | Fukushima 2017 | , , , , | Leave a comment

Sparking Fears of Airborne Radiation, Wildfire Burns in Fukushima ‘No-Go Zone’

Contaminated forests such as those outside fallout sites like Fukushima and Chernobyl ‘are ticking time bombs’

greenpeace_fukushima.jpegKendra Ulrich, senior Global Energy campaigner for Greenpeace Japan on the Asakaze, a research vessel chartered by Greenpeace Japan, doing radiation survey work off shore of Fukushima Daiichi.

 

A wildfire broke out in the highly radioactive “no-go zone” near the crippled Fukushima nuclear power plant over the weekend, reviving concerns over potential airborne radiation.

Japanese newspaper The Mainichi reports that lightning was likely to blame for sparking the fire Saturday on Mount Juman in Namie, which lies in the Fukushima Prefecture and was one of the areas evacuated following the 2011 meltdown. The area continues to be barred to entry as it is designated a “difficult-to-return zone” due to continually high radiation levels.

Local officials were forced to call in the Japanese military, the Ground Self-Defense Force (GSDF), to help battle the blaze, which continued to burn on Monday. At least 10 hectares of forest have burned so far.

“A total of eight helicopters from Fukushima, Miyagi and Gunma prefectures as well as the SDF discharged water on the site to combat the fire,” The Mainichi reports. “As the fire continued to spread, however, helicopters from the GSDF, Fukushima Prefecture and other parties on May 1 resumed fire extinguishing operations from around 5 am [local time].”

An official with the Ministry of the Environment said Monday that there has been “no major changes to radiation levels” in the region, according to the newspaper, but added that they will “continue to closely watch changes in radiation doses in the surrounding areas.”

In a blog post last year, Anton Beneslavsky, a member of Greenpeace Russia’s firefighting group who has been deployed to fight blazes in nuclear Chernobyl, outlined the specific dangers of wildfires in contaminated areas.

“During a fire, radionuclides like caesium-137, strontium-90 and plutonium rise into the air and travel with the wind,” Beneslavsky wrote. “This is a health concern because when these unstable atoms are inhaled, people become internally exposed to radiation.”

Contaminated forests such as those outside fallout sites like Fukushima and Chernobyl “are ticking time bombs,” scientist and former regional government official Ludmila Komogortseva told Beneslavsky. “Woods and peat accumulate radiation,” she explained “and every moment, every grass burning, every dropped cigarette or camp fire can spark a new disaster.”

https://www.commondreams.org/news/2017/05/01/sparking-fears-airborne-radiation-wildfire-burns-fukushima-no-go-zone

 

May 3, 2017 Posted by | Fukushima 2017 | , , , | Leave a comment

Wildfire rages in highly radioactive Fukushima mountain forest

This is bad news. Fires like this in contaminated forests aerosolize the radiation that covers the plants and has been taken up in the soil and redistributes it through the smoke. It makes no sense to bring people back to the territories in the vicinity of the highly radio-contaminated forests.

 

NAMIE, Fukushima — A fire broke out in a mountain forest near the crippled Fukushima No. 1 Nuclear Power Plant on the evening of April 29, consuming an area approximately 20 hectares in size, according to prefectural authorities.

The fire started on 448-meter-high Mount Juman in Namie, Fukushima Prefecture, prompting the prefectural government to request the dispatch of the Ground Self-Defense Force (GSDF) on a disaster relief mission on April 30. A total of eight helicopters from Fukushima, Miyagi and Gunma prefectures as well as the SDF discharged water on the site to combat the fire.

As the fire continued to spread, however, helicopters from the GSDF, Fukushima Prefecture and other parties on May 1 resumed fire extinguishing operations from around 5 a.m.

The area is designated as a “difficult-to-return zone” due to high radiation levels from the Fukushima nuclear disaster, and entry into the area is barred in principle.

According to the Fukushima Meteorological Office, a lightning advisory had been issued for the town of Namie when the fire broke out, and Fukushima Prefectural Police suspect that lightning was to blame for the blaze as they continue to investigate the cause of the incident.

As of May 1, there were no major changes to radiation levels in the heart of Namie and other areas near the fire scene, according to the Ministry of the Environment.

“We will continue to closely watch changes in radiation doses in the surrounding areas,” said a ministry official.

http://mainichi.jp/english/articles/20170501/p2a/00m/0na/003000c

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May 1, 2017 Posted by | Fukushima 2017 | , , , | Leave a comment