Saturday, 23 August 2014

Naoto Kan, his Dilemma over Fukushima, and Australia's Involvement

In March 2011, Naoto Kan, then Japan's prime minister, was caught in the midst of one of the world's worst nuclear crises after a tsunami triggered a reactor meltdown at Fukushima, on the country's eastern seaboard.
At one point he feared he might have to evacuate 50 million people from the Tokyo metropolitan area and surrounding regions.
"Japan as a country would have lost its capability to continue to function for decades afterwards" he said in Darwin on Friday.
Mr Kan, now an avowed opponent of the nuclear industry and an advocate for renewable energy, is beginning a week-long visit to Australia, which will include a trip to the site that supplied some of the fuel for the Fukushima plant – the Ranger uranium mine 250 kilometres east of Darwin .
On Saturday, he meets the site's traditional owners, the Mirarr people, whose opposition to the mine was over-ridden by a succession of federal governments in the 1970s. Ranger eventually began operations in 1980.
Mine-owner ERA has exhausted deposits at two large open-cut pits and is processing ore it has stockpiled at the site. But it wants to expand the mine underground, to the so-called 3 Deeps deposit, a move vigorously opposed by the Mirarr people who fear the environmental impact on the surrounding Kakadu National Park and on their traditional lands.
MR Kan says he wants to learn first hand about the situation at Ranger, having become aware of the debate over its future.
ERA will not disclose its overseas customers, citing commercial confidentiality.
But the World Nuclear Association says Ranger has supplied the nuclear industries of South Korea, China, Britain, France, Germany, Spain, Sweden, and the US as well as Japan.
The risks of expanding the mine's operations were highlighted on December 7 last year, when a so-called leach tank failed, discharging toxic uranium ore leachate over the site.
The federal government suspended Ranger's operations while an inquiry was held, but gave the green light for resumption last month after an interim report found "no adverse environmental impact on human health or Kakadu National Park as a result of the incident",
But a groundwater analysis prepared as part of the investigation conceded there was "insufficient post-spill data to either support or refute that the Leach Tank 1 spill in December last year entered the groundwater underlying the plant."
Over the 34 years of the mine's operation, there have been about 200 incidents of leaks, spills or other breaches of its operating licence, according to the Gundjeihmi Aboriginal Corporation which represents the Mirarr.
NT Environment Centre anti-nuclear campaigner Lauren Mellor says Mr Kan's visit should be a "powerful reminder to the Australian government" to look at weak regulation of the industry and "really re-evaluate our role in that industry".
But the Minerals Council of Australia maintains that the Australian industry remains focused on delivering "world's best practice" in uranium mining.
Despite depressed uranium prices since Fukushima, MCA uranium spokesman Daniel Zavattiero said there was likely to be strong demand in future from China and India as they battled air pollution and tried to meet growing energy demand.

Friday, 22 August 2014

The effects of radiation on our health


Our body is made of billions of cells which are arranged to form organs. Approximately one and a half metres of DNA are stored in each cell.

DNA undergoes permanent attacks and there a numerous aggressive agents. The following can be mentioned: solvents and pesticides, combustion smoke, viral aggressions, ultraviolet radiation, ionising radiation. All molecules can be affected by radiation, but it is when DNA is impacted that there are the greatest consequences for cellular operation.

Measurements to Verify Models of the Fukushima Plume: Significant Radioactivity Heading South in the Pacific

by Jay T. Cullen
This diary is part of an ongoing series here that aims to report measurements of Fukushima derived radionuclides in the North Pacific Ocean to help determine the likely impact on ecosystem and public health in western North America. The purpose of this diary is to report the results of a recently published study by Kumamoto and colleagues in the open-access journal Scientific Reports. The study measured the activity of Fukushima derived cesium (Cs), a tracer for other radionuclides, in the upper 1000 meters of the western Pacific Ocean along the 149 degree E meridian as of winter 2012.

These measurements indicate that 10-60% of the total Fukushima derived 134-Cs in the North Pacific has been transported to the south at a depth of ~300 m below the surface. This result is surprising as most models suggest that transport would be primarily to the east toward North America. The study demonstrates that the amount of Fukushima derived radionuclides being transported to the east towards North America is lower than predicted by previous models and provides important information on the circulation of the ocean.

The disaster at the Fukushima Dai-ichi Nuclear Power Plant (FDNPP), precipitated by the earthquake and tsunami on March 11, 2011, resulted in meltdowns at Units 1-3 and a massive release of radionuclides to the North Pacific Ocean by direct discharges from the plant and by deposition of radionuclides released to the atmosphere. While a suite of radionuclides were released, 134-Cs is a useful tracer of Fukushima impact. 134-Cs has a relatively short half-life (~2 years) that unequivocally fingerprints a Fukushima source. It was also released in large quantities and therefore poses a potential radiological threat to organisms. 134-Cs was released along with 137-Cs (half-life = ~30 years) in a 1:1 ratio from Fukushima.

Scientists use a variety of units to measure radioactivity. A commonly used unit is the Becquerel (Bq for short) which represents an amount of radioactive material where one atom decays per second and has units of inverse time (per second). Another unit commonly used is disintegrations per minute (dpm) where the number of atoms undergoing radioactive decay in one minute are counted (so 1 Bq = 60 dpm).

Estimates of direct release of Cs to the ocean were on the order of 11-15 PBq (10^15 Bq) while the deposition of Cs to the surface of the ocean were about 5.8-30 PBq. In 2012 the authors of the study occupied a series of stations along 149degree E as shown in the figure below:

Location of stations sampled for 134-Cs by Kumamoto et al. (2014)
 in the western Pacific south and east of Japan.
 In addition the surface plume of radionuclides that has been modeled and detected (by InFORM team member Dr. John Smith of DFO) in surface currents heading to the east toward North America depth distributions of 134-Cs in the western Pacific show that a concentrated plume of Fukushima derived radionuclides has been transported to the south at a depth of 300 meters:
 Cross sectional views of 134Cs activity (Bq/m^3)
with depth and latitude along 149 degree East
 Based on the integration of the activity of Cs over the depth the authors estimate that about 6 Pbq (10^15 Bq) are present in the subsurface feature being transported to the south. This represents on the order of 10-60% of the total radiocesium that was introduced to the Pacific by the disaster. This helps to explain the lower activities being measured in the eastern Pacific compared to what models predict and suggests that maximum activities on the west coast of North America will likely fall toward the lower end of model predictions that were in the range of 2-30 Bq/m^3. Simply stated more of the radioactive elements released from Fukushima to the Pacific Ocean are headed south rather than east to North America in the plume than previously thought.
 More direct measurements of radioactive elements in the North Pacific Ocean through the InFORM project will help to determine what activities are likely on the west coast of North American as the plume arrives from 2013 onward. The measurements or radionuclides in seawater, combined with measurements of radioactive elements in marine organisms, will help to assess the risk of exposure of west coast residents to radionuclides from Fukushima.

Doctor links recent outbreaks of ‘mysterious ­rashes’ to Fukushima — Cancer Specialist: “There’s so much societal pressure to not even mention the word radiation”

Time Magazine, Hannah Beech and Dominic Nahr, Aug 21, 2014: Yukie lived in Futaba, a tidy town where many residents worked at the nearby nuclear plant… Yukie entered an arranged marriage with a nuclear worker [who] still works at the plant, which is why she doesn’t want her full name used… After the evacuation order went out, Yukie and her family ran home—just under 2 miles from Fukushima ­Daiichi—to grab a few essentials, like blankets and diapers for her daughter. Then they piled into a car and drove northwest. Unbeknownst to them, the prevailing winds blew radiation along the very same path. Since then, Yukie and her family have moved 10 times, from one set of cramped rooms to another. But the specter of ­radiation—­invisible, odorless, ­tasteless—­follows them. Yukie, 33, and her two small children now live like shut-ins on the outskirts of Iwaki, the biggest city near Fukushima Daiichi… Earlier this year, her daughter broke out in mysterious ­rashes; one visiting doctor speculated that radiation could have caused the outbreaks. (Other doctors, however, blamed different causes.) Yukie suffers from frequent nosebleeds, which she says she never had before the disaster… many parents around Fukushima fear for their children’s health… “There’s so much societal pressure to not even mention the word radiation,” says Sachihiko Fuse, an oncologist who helps run a private medical clinic in Fukushima city. “The national and prefectural governments say, ‘Please, there’s no danger, live as normal.’ But people are concerned.”… no one knows exactly how stress can manifest itself in physical complaints, including nosebleeds.

Speech by Kazuko Ito, Esq., member of the UN Women Regional Civil Society Advisory Group and Secretary General of Japan-based NGO Human Rights Now (At 5:00 in), published by Cinema Forum Fukushima on July 30, 2014: Until now 74 cases of thyroid cancer were identified among affected children, so this is huge. However the government has no plan to expand the health monitoring system… People, especially vulnerable groups such as women and children, are exposed to serious health risks… The government is actively engaged with the safety propaganda, the government conducts no proper guidance regarding the risk of radiation — instead the government underestimates the low level radiation and actively disseminates opinions such as ‘No evidence of physical harm under 100 millisieverts per year.’ Before the accident we talk about 1 millisieverts a year, but now government talks about 100 millisieverts is ok, so how dangerous is it, you could imagine.

Should Japan Restart its Nuclear Reactors?

 By Arnold Gundersen
Only luck and real courage at 14 nuclear reactors on Japan’s Pacific coast overcame the technical failures of nuclear power and prevented the nation from being destroyed by radiation.

The untold story of March 11, 2011 is how close Japan came to three more spent fuel pool fires at Fukushima Daiichi and four meltdowns at Fukushima Daini
When the magnitude 9.0 earthquake off the Pacific coast caused a seismic shock wave that reverberated throughout northern Japan, the country’s nuclear plants shut down automatically, as planned, preventing any further nuclear chain reactions.

Therein lies nuclear power’s fatal flaw, because an automatic shutdown does not stop the ongoing heat generated inside each nuclear reactor.

When uranium atoms split (a process called fission), they release tremendous energy, as well as rubble. Even when the chain reaction stops, the highly radioactive rubble emits decay heat that continues for years. Automatic shutdown simply means that no new nuclear fissions will occur.

A tsunami struck the west coast of Japan at Fukushima Daiichi just 45 minutes after the earthquake and plant shutdown, damaging all six nuclear reactors at the site and destroying shoreline emergency cooling water pumps.

The tsunami flooded Fukushima Daiichi’s emergency diesel generators. This is portrayed as the cause of the triple meltdown, because without diesel generators producing electricity, the plant could not be cooled.

Some have suggested that the diesel generators should be relocated so they are higher than a tsunami could reach, but this is the wrong solution to the wrong problem.

When the tsunami struck, the cooling equipment along the shoreline was turned into a scrap yard of twisted metal. Even if they had not been flooded, without operational shoreline pumps, the emergency diesel generators were doomed to fail, making it impossible to cool the nuclear core. In truth, the utter destruction of the shoreline pumps caused the triple meltdown at Fukushima Daiichi.

The tsunami also wrecked cooling pumps at eight other reactors located at Fukushima Daini, Onagawa, and Tokai.

Twenty-four of the 37 emergency diesel generators located at four separate nuclear power sites, which contained a total of 14 nuclear reactors, failed during the tsunami. Of the 24 diesel generators that failed, only nine failures were due to flooding (eight at Fukushima Daiichi and one at Fukushima Daini). The other 15 diesel generators were not flooded, but were disabled when the tsunami wrecked their shoreline cooling pumps.

The situation in Japan was dire when the sun set on March 11, 2011. At Fukushima Daiichi, three reactors were melting down and three spent fuel pools were at risk of catching fire because they could not be cooled. Conditions were also worsening at Fukushima Daini’s four reactors.

It was good fortune and extreme courage that saved Japan and its people from a more tragic catastrophe.

First, the wind blew out to sea rather than inland. Experts have acknowledged that only 20 percent of Fukushima’s airborne radiation releases blew inland, while 80 percent streamed out to sea. If the wind had blown in the opposite direction, exposure to radiation would have been five times worse, and Tokyo would have been evacuated.

Fortunately, the tsunami-generating earthquake struck during a normal workday, when almost 1,000 people were working at Fukushima Daiichi and thousands more were working at Fukushima Daini.

The employees trapped on site fought courageously to mitigate the escalating catastrophe. Without their efforts, Japan could have had as many as 10 nuclear meltdowns and simultaneous spent fuel fires.

If the earthquake and tsunami had begun at night, only 200 employees would have been working at these plants. With roads and bridges destroyed, none of the necessary staff would have been able to return to work.

Now, more than three years after the Fukushima Daiichi disaster, shoreline cooling pumps throughout the world – including in Japan – remain unprotected from flooding or terrorist attacks.
Japan is prone to earthquakes and tsunamis. Is reopening its nuclear plants worth the risk to its people and their homeland?

The simultaneous technological failure at 14 nuclear reactors due to a single natural phenomenon clearly shows that the nuclear engineers who envisioned and designed nuclear power failed to expect the unexpected.

Unfortunately, the nuclear industry continues to push its message that nuclear power can be made safer. Fukushima, and before it Chernobyl, shows us that nuclear technology will always be able to destroy the fabric of a country in the blink of an eye.

Fukushima Worker Testimony Made Public, Reveals Height Of The Crisis

August 21st, 2014

“Father, Mother, please forgive me for dying before I could fulfill my duty as a son. After the earthquake, I would have wished to hear your voices even once.” “I did not give up on life until the very end.”

As portions of the hundreds of testimonies given to the government investigation into the Fukushima nuclear disaster Asahi Shimbun and Kyodo News have been facilitating their dissemination to the public. Asahi has previously released and translated plant director Masao Yoshida’s interview, while Kyodo has been releasing worker testimony. Workers described the fear, frustration and chaos at the two plants as they tried to regain control.

Some of the workers in the control rooms penned notes to family members, assuming they would die in their efforts to combat the reactors. Two operators at the unit 1 control room took a photo of themselves hoping someone might find the camera if the worst happened. They feared a paper note would burn up.

Workers described forming suicide squads to attempt to vent the reactors. Workers at unit 1 volunteered to form teams to attempt the work, requesting their supervisor stay in the control room to manage the response rather than risking himself. As the workers describe their experiences, it also gives important clues to the state of the reactors at certain times in the events. Hideyoshi Endo was tasked with entering unit 1 and going down into the torus room in the basement of the reactor to open valves that would allow the unit to release built up radioactive steam. Endo mentions what he saw when he entered the building, this was before the explosions.

“After opening the door to the reactor’s building, the reading on Endo’s radiation measurement device jumped to 500 millisieverts per hour. As he lit up the inside of the building with a flashlight, he saw it was filled with what looked like steam or dust.”

“Endo and another member of the team then went downstairs to a room housing a doughnut-shaped suppression chamber at the bottom of the reactor’s containment vessel. They heard a series of large bangs in the dark — a type of noise Endo had never heard before. The radiation meter went back and forth between 900 and 1,000 millisieverts per hour. “I thought we had to move ahead as long as we could see the number on the meter,” Endo said. When Endo was some 30 meters away from the valve, however, he saw the radiation meter reading surpass 1,000 millisieverts. He stared at the meter for a few seconds, but it had gone up all the way and did not come back down. If the radiation level was 1,000 millisieverts per hour, Endo would have exceeded the 100-millisievert radiation dose limit a nuclear power plant worker is allowed to be exposed to in five years in just six minutes. But Endo no longer had a way of knowing how high the radiation level was.”

This was on March 12th, less than 24 hours after the earthquake. The meltdown at unit 1 was already well under way as the workers attempted, then had to abandon their effort to vent unit 1. During this same time many people responding to the disaster like GSDF soldiers were not aware they should be wearing respirator masks as they arrived at the plant.

As workers tried to keep some form of cooling working on unit 3 they discovered that the steam relief valves that allow steam to be released into the torus refused to function. They had lost both the ability to depressurize the reactor vessel and what little cooling they had. In an effort to relieve pressure so water could be injected unit 3 also sent workers down to the torus room to attempt to vent the reactor. This was roughly 24 hours before the time TEPCO now admits that unit 3′s reactor vessel failed, sending melted fuel into the containment vessel. Worker Satoro Hiyashizaki attempted to enter the torus room of unit 3, His task was to confirm if an air actuated venting valve had opened. As he tried to step into the torus room he discovered his rubber boot had instantly melted to the grate.

“It was like being in a sauna. The palm of my hands, covered by rubber gloves, instantly got hot,” After walking up a few stairs and into a narrow passageway, Hayashizaki felt groggy. The valve he had to check was just nearby but to know how much it had opened, he had to step over the rail and walk 5 meters directly above the chamber. The heat was apparently coming from the chamber. He had a bad feeling. Cautiously, he put his right foot down onto the chamber. The rubber sole of his shoe instantly melted, leaving a black smear. “The moment I put my foot down, I felt my shoe slip. The distance is normally nothing to worry about but I was scared of what could happen to me if I tripped at a place where the temperature was that high,” “There was no way to release the heat. I didn’t know what would happen thereafter,” he recalled. He gave up checking on the valve and returned to the control room.“

After Hiyashizaki returned to the control room, unable to complete the task he realized his dosimeter was continuing to climb. Everyone in the control room saw their dosimeters climb. They knew for sure unit 3 was in a meltdown and thought they would die.

The response not just at Daiichi but at Daini was also plagued with frustration and outside help that was less than helpful. The head of Daini, Naohiro Matsuda requested that TEPCO headquarters in Tokyo arrange to have 4000 tons of water sent to Daini to inject into the reactors. Instead they sent him a 4000 liter water truck, assuming he wanted drinking water for the plant.

Managers on site at Daiichi desperately to get water into the reactors found themselves also battling their own fire truck contractors. The plant had contracted with Nanmei Kousan Co to provide required on site fire fighting services to the plant. This is part of routine safety requirements from before the disaster. The fire contractors were refusing to go near the reactors to operate the fire equipment, TEPCO workers had no idea how to operate the fire trucks.

A TEPCO official in Tokyo who had been coordinating information with the Prime Minister’s office demanded Daiichi’s plant manager, Masao Yoshida cease the injection of sea water into the reactors, the only form of cooling left. Why would he make such a bizarre request? The Tokyo official didn’t want to have to tell the Prime Minister that sea water injection had already started after he had previously told him that it had not been begun yet. Yoshida ended up having to lie to everyone in Tokyo so he could continue trying to inject water while they argued among themselves.

One worker at the plant found himself to be incredibly lucky. Mitsuhiro Matsumoto, a TEPCO employee at the plant found himself outside during both explosions. His work was to reconnect destroyed electrical cables and systems to try to regain some power to the reactors. When unit 1 exploded he was getting out of a car near the emergency response building and was showered in building debris. When unit 3 exploded he was leaving the unit 2 building to return to his car. After the dust cleared he found the drivers seat smashed by a concrete block.

There are additional stories to be published by Kyodo, the list so far is below with a few missing from online publication. They are worth reading the entire series of articles as they give much detail of what really happened at the plant during the height of the disaster.

STORY1: Workers grappled with darkness at start of Fukushima nuclear crisis (About 115 lines, due out Aug. 14)

STORY2: Workers race against time to contain Fukushima crisis–STORY2-Workers-race-against-time-to-contain-Fukushima-crisis-18895309/

STORY3: Workers try to save Fukushima No. 1 reactor through venting mission–STORY3-Workers-try-to-save-Fukushima-No-1-reactor-through-venting-mission-18895310/

STORY4: Explosion rocks Fukushima No. 1 reactor despite preventive efforts (About 120 lines, due out Aug. 18)–STORY4-Explosion-rocks-Fukushima-No-1-reactor-despite-preventive-efforts-18912888/

STORY5: Fukushima Daini plant scrambles to evade same fate as Daiichi

STORY6: Seawater injection fuels tensions in work to contain Fukushima crisis–STORY6-Seawater-injection-fuels-tensions-in-work-to-contain-Fukushima-crisis-18929333/

STORY7: Workers witnessed meltdown signs at Fukushima No. 3 reactor

STORY8: Blast at Fukushima No. 3 reactor building drives people into corner–STORY8-Blast-at-Fukushima-No-3-reactor-building-drives-people-into-corner-18929334/

– STORY9: Fukushima plant chief Yoshida feels “it’s all over” amid crisis (About 125 lines, due out Aug. 25)
– STORY10: Kan slams TEPCO over request to “withdraw” from crippled plant (About 130 lines, due out Aug. 25)
– STORY11: Fukushima plant chief Yoshida orders evacuation amid radiation fears (About 125 lines, due out Aug. 28)
– STORY12: Workers leave Fukushima plant with tears, reunion promises (About 115 lines, due out Aug. 28)
– STORY13: 71 workers stay at Fukushima plant, eat canned meat as “last meal” (About 115 lines, due out Aug. 28)


Fukushima Emergency what can we do?: More of the TEPCO lies

Fukushima Emergency what can we do?: More of the TEPCO lies: Troy Livingston 42 mins  ·  Edited     In December 2013 it was clear how bad Fukushima was because having busted TEPCO in...

More of the TEPCO lies

In December 2013 it was clear how bad Fukushima was because having busted TEPCO in a few of it lies again. Then Tepco with its new expensive water filtration system ALPS, that it payed taxpayer money for was starting to fail. 6 months previously (june 2013) TEPCO was forced to admit tons upon tons of highly contaminated water has been and still is leaking into ocean this entire time and that they had no way to stop it. Out of this came the ice wall idea that they projected could be running by april 2014, which we know now also failed.

In Dec 2013 the outdoor radiation levels have reached their highest levels EVER recorded at Japan’s Fukushima (or anywhere els outside in the world). So its surprising Japan would be lifting the food restrictions and living restrictions on the contaminated area 8 months later (Aug 2014) with still no plan for containing the liquefied nuclear core melt-outs from the environment

Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO) detected record radiation levels on a duct which connects reactor buildings and the 120 meter tall ventilation pipe dec 2013. TEPCO measured radiation at eight locations around the pipe with the highest estimated at two locations - 25 Sieverts per hour and about 15 Sieverts per hour, the company said.

This is the highest level ever detected outside the reactor buildings, according to local broadcaster NHK. Earlier TEPCO said radiation levels of at least 10 Sieverts per hour were found on the pipe.

“The highest amount of radiation that will reach the U.S. is two orders of magnitude - 100 times - less than the drinking water standard,” Allison Macfarlane said in Tokyo on Friday as cited by Bloomberg. “So, if you could drink the salt water, which you won’t be able to do, it’s still fairly low.” This does not take into account bioaccumulation within marine life or biomagnification multiplying up 100's times in concentration each step up the food chain. truly a biological hazard.

This high radiation is in there stack because they have been discharging the radionuclides in the air. In July 2014 farmers were mad that there food was more contaminated then the last 3 years, TEPCO said the construction on reactor 3 was the culprit but i don't. I think it the radiation from steam/vapour laced hot particles up the stack.

Lifting the living restrictions in the no go zone around Fukushima:

Lifting the food restrictions around Fukushima no go zone

Ice wall failure

Japans Tokyo with levels of plutonium all over from MOX r3

Japan purposely dumps the radioactive water to sea

health effects being confirmed by privet doctors but denied by the nuclear industry controlled doctors.

Picture source dec 2013:

200,000,000,000,000 becquerels/kg in fuel rod materials found near Tokyo… “the material spread globally” — Composed “major part” of worst Fukushima plume — Persists for long time in living organisms — Must reconsider disaster’s health effects

Presentation by Yasuhito Igarashi of Japan’s Meteorological Research Institute at IAEA’s expert meeting (pdf), Characteristics of Spherical Cs-Bearing Particles Collected during the Early Stage of FDNPP Accident, February 2014

Three and a half years after a catastrophic meltdown, Fukushima is far from fixed [Time Magazine]


Three and a half years after a catastrophic meltdown, Fukushima is far from fixed
AUGUST 21, 2014

Three and a half years after the most devastating nuclear accident in a generation, Fukushima Daiichi is still in crisis. Some 6,000 workers, somehow going about their jobs despite the suffocating gear they must wear for hours at a time, struggle to contain the damage. So much radiation still pulses inside the crippled reactor cores that no one has been able to get close enough to survey the full extent of the destruction. Every 2½ days, workers deploy a new giant storage tank to house radioactive water contaminated after passing through the damaged reactors. We wander past a forest of some 1,300 of these tanks, each filled with 1,000 tons of toxic water, some of which was used to cool the reactors.


In the meantime, Fukushima’s fallout continues to claim victims. Nearly 20,000 ­people—­mostly in Iwate and Miyagi prefectures but also in Fukushima ­prefecture—were killed by the earthquake and tsunami. Yet only in Fukushima, the epicenter of the nuclear catastrophe, does the number of people who the Japanese government says have since died from causes indirectly linked to the natural disaster now exceed the initial death toll. Stress, both physical and mental, has led to a rise in suicides.

About 125,000 Fukushima residents, most of whom used to reside within an 18-mile (30 km) radius of the nuclear station, still exist as evacuees because their homes are within a government-mandated exclusion zone. Some now subsist in prefab units more evocative of a third-world disaster zone than the world’s third largest economy. In June the Ministry of Environment admitted that decontamination efforts in some towns near the stricken plant had failed; residents cannot return, even if they want to. Fear has infected other neighborhoods as parents wonder whether the radiation clouds that spewed out of the ruined reactors in the days following the tsunami harmed their children. At the disabled plant itself, many experienced employees have reached the official limit on maximum dosages of ­radiation—­leaving critical work in less skilled hands.

Despite all this, the Japanese government’s message to the world is, Trust us. Last year Prime Minister Abe visited Fukushima, flashed a grin and bit into a locally grown peach to prove that the area’s ­produce—an economic ­mainstay—was safe to eat. Shortly after his fruit tasting, Abe traveled to Buenos Aires and gave a speech that propelled Tokyo to victory as the host of the 2020 Summer Olympics. “Let me assure you the situation is under control,” he said. But is it? “This was a grave accident in which many mistakes were made,” says Haruo Kurasawa, one of Japan’s foremost TV commentators on nuclear issues. “But no one has gone to jail, and no one wants to take responsibility. Everyone still wants to look the other way. Nothing has really changed.”


Yukie and her family have moved 10 times, from one set of cramped rooms to another. But the specter of ­radiation—­invisible, odorless, ­tasteless—­follows them. Yukie, 33, and her two small children now live like shut-ins on the outskirts of Iwaki, the biggest city near Fukushima Daiichi, about 25 miles (40 km) away. Earlier this year, her daughter broke out in mysterious ­rashes; one visiting doctor speculated that radiation could have caused the outbreaks. (Other doctors, however, blamed different causes.) Yukie suffers from frequent nosebleeds, which she says she never had before the disaster.

[end snip]

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