Blog Archive

Sunday, 5 July 2015

From Chernobyl to Fukushima: an interdisciplinary framework for managing and communicating food security risks after nuclear plant accidents

[snip]

Alexander Belyakov
Journal of Environmental Studies and Sciences. June 2015. DOI 10.1007/s13412-015-0284-2
The final publication is available at
 Abstract
 This comparison of government disaster management and public communications after the Chernobyl and Fukushima nuclear accidents seeks to create a framework for disaster management that enhances food resilience (the ability of food systems to withstand perturbations that could cause disruption of food supply); and in the specific case of nuclear disasters, the avoidance of contaminated food and provision of alternative foods. This paper integrates food security, emergency management, and risk communications perspectives. Misinformation and incomplete information can bias decision-making and political actions. When risk communication is inadequate, the public reacts with fear, mistrust, panic and stress. People have difficulty deciding what they can safely eat and what they should not eat. Many choose to reject all food from affected regions, which can compromise food security. Lack of proper information may lead to such extremes in behavior as avoidance of dairy products and consumption of untested foods, which may in fact have high levels of radioactivity. The measures taken by the USSR after the Chernobyl disaster lacked consistency and clarity and were not effective in providing food security for the affected people. The government also demonstrated a lack of attention to social justice in its dealings with people who moved back to the contaminated area, ignoring government policy that they should stay out. Those people still suffer from food insecurity. In Japan, food that met government safety levels was available, but many consumers nonetheless questioned the safety of food supplies and farmers often were confused about production and marketing. In both the Chernobyl and Fukushima cases, the evacuation of affected people was aimed at reducing exposure to radiation and did not sufficiently consider neither the psychological and physical health impacts of resettlement nor the security and safety of food supplies. Government responses would have been more effective in some regions if a timely distribution program of adequate, safe alternative foods (especially radioprotectors) from non-affected areas had been initiated.

[end snip]
See above for full publication

Saturday, 4 July 2015

Please help the ongoing effort of the team here at Fukushima Emergency FundRaizing Week

Fund Raizer
After 4 1/2 years, I have reached a limit to my own resources, and am in need of support to fund hosting, line and other costs for myself and my contributing authors. Activism is a passion, but over time is certainly not free. Any help would be kindly and gratefully accepted. 

I have maintained this chronology without requesting funding from the Public or my Contributors.

It would certainly sadden me, that after the years of effort to continue to spread the news, and keep the chronology, that my key sites (3-5) would have to close permanently for lack of funds.

The direct donate button on the left, or bottom is the one to make donations via paypal, or you can access the Fundraizer event page through the Graphic above.

My thanks at this time to my contributing Authors and our Readership. Also to the many staunch Activists we have met, and banded with along the way.



NOTE: This is only the Third time I/We have requested funding; 1st: Fukushima Children: 2nd: Alaskan Fishing Industry Radiation Monitoring Group and 3rd: This campaign


Fund Raizer

Friday, 3 July 2015

Sendai reactor fuel to be loaded from July 7


Adding Nuclear Fuel Rods to the Pressure Vessel
Officials at the Sendai nuclear power plant in southwestern Japan say they plan to start loading fuel into one of the reactors next Tuesday.

The Kyushu Electric Power Company reported the plan to the Nuclear Regulation Authority on Friday. Earlier the same day, pre-loading inspections were completed at the Number 1 reactor.

The utility expects it will take 4 days to insert 157 nuclear fuel assemblies into the reactor. Workers will use a crane to transfer the fuel rods one by one from a storage pool in an adjacent building.

Kyushu Electric will then check emergency equipment to inject coolant into the reactor and a device to insert control rods.

Workers will also undergo a drill to rehearse their response to a severe accident.

If all goes as planned, the utility will remove the control rods to activate the reactor in mid-August.

The Sendai plant's Number 1 and Number 2 reactors became the first to clear safety screenings last year.

The screenings were required under the country's new, stricter regulations introduced after the 2011 Fukushima nuclear accident.

The Number 1 reactor began undergoing equipment inspections in late March ahead of the Number 2 reactor.

All of Japan's 43 reactors are currently offline. 

Source: NHK 
http://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/english/news/20150703_36.html



Experts slam closed-door nuclear briefings

A panel of experts has criticized Japan's industry ministry for discussing its new policy for disposing of high-level nuclear waste in closed-door sessions.

The ministry-appointed experts said at a meeting on Friday their call for information disclosure on the basic waste disposal policy has fallen on deaf ears.

They also said that holding sessions behind closed doors could have a negative impact on the issue.

The government decided in May to select prospective sites for burying high-level radioactive waste from nuclear power plants and to ask local authorities for their cooperation in building the facilities.

The new policy was implemented following 13 years of failed efforts to solicit candidate sites due to strong safety concerns.

The ministry said it decided to hold closed-door briefings so that local government officials would feel free to speak out.

The ministry had held briefings in 39 prefectures by the end of June. They were attended by nearly 70 percent of local authorities nationwide. But some refused to attend to protest the closed-door policy.

The head of the panel, Hiroya Masuda, said the ministry must convince local authorities that the briefings don't necessarily indicate candidacy for waste disposal sites. 

Source: NHK 
http://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/english/news/20150703_31.html

Fukushima rejects briefing for nuclear waste site



Current Waste Storage Option in Japan
Japan's industry ministry is holding briefing sessions across the country. It's struggling to secure disposal sites for high-level radioactive waste generated by nuclear plants.

But it will skip the session in Fukushima Prefecture, at least for now, due to strong opposition there.

The government plans to bury high-level radioactive waste at a depth of 300 meters or more in final disposal facilities. But the effort to solicit candidate sites has made no progress because of strong safety concerns among municipalities.

In May, the industry ministry decided to name appropriate candidate sites instead of waiting for municipalities to voluntarily apply.
Since then, it has been holding briefing sessions in 39 prefectures over how to process the highly radioactive waste and how it will select appropriate sites, to deepen understanding of the facilities.

But officials in Fukushima Prefecture rejected the ministry's request to hold such a session. They cited the burden of the on-going scrapping of the crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant.


They also referred to building of intermediate storage facilities in the prefecture for contaminated soil and other materials from cleaning-up work in Fukushima. 


Source: NHK
http://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/english/news/20150703_07.html

Thursday, 2 July 2015

Tepco seeks foreign seal of approval to restart nuclear plant

Tokyo Electric Power Co.’s invitation to the world’s top nuclear agency to review the safety of its Kashiwazaki-Kariwa facility signals the utility’s desire to win international backing to resume operations at the world’s largest atomic power plant.

Kashiwazaki is Tepco’s best bet of returning to nuclear power generation, after the plant was shuttered along with the rest of Japan’s nuclear capacity following the unprecedented meltdowns at the company’s Fukushima No. 1 plant in 2011.


Firing up its reactors would boost Tepco’s profit by as much as ¥32 billion a month, according to Tepco spokesman Tatsuhiro Yamagishi.


They want a foreign seal of approval,” said Robert Dujarric, a director at the Institute of Contemporary Asian Studies of Temple University in Tokyo. “No one trusts what Tepco says. The only way they can convince Japanese residents that this is not risky is to get a foreign institution to certify them being acceptable.”

The International Atomic Energy Agency began its 11-day evaluation on Tuesday and will report its findings to Japan’s watchdog, the Nuclear Regulation Authority, which has the final say on a plant’s safety. A restart would still need local government approval, which presents difficulties as the region’s governor remains a vociferous critic of Tepco.


Tepco expects to spend at least ¥270 billion to bring Kashiwazaki back online, although it says the cost is a secondary consideration. What is needed and what the IAEA brings is the “knowledge, ingenuity, and engineering capabilities to get there,” Takafumi Anegawa, Tepco’s chief nuclear officer, told a news conference at the plant on Tuesday. “Randomly spending money doesn’t assure safety.”


The NRA has visited Kashiwazaki three times since agreeing to check its reactors in 2013, although it has not given a timeline for approval, according to Tepco’s Yamagishi. NRA spokesman Taro Komine declined to comment on Kashiwazaki and the IAEA’s safety study there.


The IAEA was created in 1957 and one of its goals is to promote the safe use of nuclear energy. Tepco, meanwhile, is struggling to convince the Japanese public of improvements in its attitudes to safety amid worker deaths and irradiated water leaks at the ruined Fukushima plant.


Of course Tepco would like them to come online,” Tom O’Sullivan, founder of Tokyo-based energy consultant Mathyos, said by email. However, “I have normally categorized it as a plant that is extremely unlikely to come online. There is huge local opposition.”


Hirohiko Izumida, three-term governor of Niigata Prefecture where the plant is located, has said restarting Kashiwazaki shouldn’t even be considered until Tepco’s safety record and handling of Fukushima are properly reviewed.


Niigata Prefecture spokesman Kenji Kiuchi declined to comment on the governor’s opinion of the IAEA review.


Restarting Kashiwazaki would boost Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s plan for nuclear energy to account for as much as 22 percent of the country’s total electricity supply by 2030.


Thus far, Kyushu Electric Power Co.’s Sendai reactors are the only ones to pass the NRA’s safety requirements and clear local courts. Kyushu is aiming to restart the two units this year. While the NRA judged two reactors at Kansai Electric Power Co.’s Takahama station as safe, legal hurdles have since obstructed any restart.


Tepco is seeking to restore two of the seven reactors at Kashiwazaki, which is located about 220 km northwest of Tokyo on coast of the Sea of Japan. Its only other nuclear plants are Fukushima No. 1, which is being decommissioned, and the nearby Fukushima No. 2 facility, which may be too tainted by its association with the 2011 disaster to ever restart.


In order to ensure Kashizawaki’s safety, Tepco says it has bolstered staff levels, built a 15 meter flood-prevention wall, and built a reservoir to store 20,000 tons of water to cool reactors in case of pump failures.


The IAEA said its primary focus will be assessing the plant’s internal operations. Three months after its review, the agency will send its report to Tepco, the NRA and the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry.


The review will not replace Japan’s regulatory process, said Peter Tarren, the IAEA’s team leader at Kashiwazaki. “Decisions about restarts of the plant are not the authority of the IAEA,” he said.


Source: Japan Times

http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2015/07/02/national/tepco-seeks-foreign-seal-approval-restart-nuclear-plant/#.VZW1F0YfSM9

NRA warns it may halt inspections at Mihama reactor Kepco aims to restart

Although Kansai Electric Power Co. aims to extend the life of the Mihama plant’s No. 3 reactor by 20 years, the operator may be forced to scrap the 39-year-old facility instead.

On Wednesday, Shunichi Tanaka, chairman of the Nuclear Regulation Authority, warned that if Kepco has not decided on the basic ground motion standards used as a basis for plant safety standards in the event of an earthquake by the end of August, inspections now underway will be cut off. The surveys are part of Kepco’s efforts to restart the unit and extend its operating life.


“If the ground motion standards aren’t set by the end of August, a major decision will have to be made,” Tanaka


The 826-megawatt Mihama No. 3 reactor will turn 40 years old at the end of 2016. Ending safety inspections would likely force Kepco to reconsider whether revenues generated over a span of 20 years would cover the costs of restarting it. That’s of particular concern given the reforms taking place in the electricity sector over the next few years, which are expected to boost competition.


Twenty years is the maximum extension possible for a 40-year-old Nuclear Plant.


Kepco has already announced plans to decommission the Mihama No. 1 and 2 reactors, which have roughly the same combined power output as the No. 3 reactor. To decommission these reactors would cost at least ¥67 billion. It would also take at least two decades, and would produce about 5000 tons of nuclear waste, whose final location for long-term disposal remains unclear.

Officials in Fukui Prefecture, especially in Mihama, are also concerned about the fiscal impact of the plant’s decommissioning. Since the mid-1970s, the town of Mihama, which has a population of only 10,000 people, has received ¥27.5 billion in nuclear-related government subsidies.

In 2013, about one third of the town’s budget was funded from such subsidies. Officials and businesses worry that decommissioning the No. 3 reactor will mean less official funding from Tokyo, and the potential loss of various “voluntary subsidies” Kepco has made over the years to the town.

Kepco officials said they will make every effort to restart the No. 3 plant as soon as possible. But the utility, which suffered a net loss of ¥148.3 billion in fiscal 2014, faces growing criticism from shareholders, including the cities of Osaka and Kobe, over its management of nuclear power plants and future energy plans.

Kepco announced at its June 25 shareholders meeting that it was necessary to build new nuclear plants. That’s despite advancements in renewable energy and a government proposal to reduce the nation’s reliance on nuclear power, which provided about one-third of Japan’s electricity in 2010, to about 20 to 22 percent by 2030. 

Source: Japan Times 
http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2015/07/02/national/nra-warns-may-halt-inspections-mihama-reactor-kepco-aims-restart/#.VZV0FUYfSM9

TEPCO: Radioactive water removed from tunnels

Tepco says it has finished removing highly radioactive water from underground tunnels connected to one of the facility's reactor buildings.

Tepco said on Tuesday that workers removed about 4,500 tons of the water from the tunnels linked to the No. 2 reactor building.


Underground space of the building is filled with highly contaminated water that had contact with melted nuclear fuel, raising concerns that the water could flow out to the nearby sea through the tunnels.


Since November, workers had been filling in the tunnels with cement to remove the water.
Officials say they hope to finish similar work at underground tunnels connected to the plant's No. 3 reactor in July.


The company estimates that more than 10,000 tons of such water has flowed into underground tunnels of both reactors.


In April last year, Tepco tried to create ice walls just outside the reactor buildings to keep tainted water out of the tunnels. But the plan did not work, and the utility decided to fill them with cement.


Tepco and the government say "they attach the highest priority to removing contaminated water from the tunnels, to avoid polluting the sea." 


Source: NHK
http://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/english/news/20150630_29.html

1.2 Sv/h measured on unidentified substance overflowing of Reactor 2 / Two parts concealed on Tepco’s source

The picture captured by “PackBot”. Black substance is overflowing from the lid connected to Reactor 2 vessel. The composition is not announced. The radiation level was overscale. 

On 6/29/2015, Tepco announced they detected 1197 mSv/h near unidentified substance overflowing from PCV 2 (Primary Containment Vessel of Reactor 2). Because the highest detectable level of the used dosimeter was 1000 mSv/h, the actual radiation level can be higher than 1197 mSv/h.
In order to collect image data of the inside of PCV 2, Tepco was investigating the access hole on the wall.
The substance was found overflown from the lid of the hole by a remote control robot called “PackBot”.
The second highest reading was 1150 mSv/h. The composition of the substance has not been announced.
Additionally, on Tepco’s source to indicate the location of the issued hole, there are two parts concealed. (Blue circled on the photo attached below)
It is not known what they tried to hide from the press release.





http://photo.tepco.co.jp/date/2015/201506-j/150629-01j.html
http://www.tepco.co.jp/nu/fukushima-np/handouts/2015/images/handouts_150629_05-j.pdf
Source: Fukushima Diary
http://fukushima-diary.com/2015/07/1-2-svh-measured-on-unidentified-substance-overflowing-of-reactor-2-vessel-two-parts-concealed-on-tepcos-source/

Fukushima Evacuees Harder Access To Housing

 

Back in 2011 PM Kan told Fukushima evacuees they could go home very soon. This was probably not what he meant. 

The current Japanese government has been in the process of a push to force evacuees to return to the evacuation zone through a number of measures. Compensation payments would be cut and efforts to reopen some services in the disaster area were implemented. While this would leave many with no further aid, a new effort will make it even harder to not return to the evacuation zone.

In 2013 the Reconstruction Agency told local municipalities to not exempt evacuees from tough requirements to obtain public housing when their compensated housing expires. The Reconstruction Agency admitted that the plan is to force people to return home, they made this statement in that meeting “basically the policy is for a return to Fukushima”. 

So not only will they cut off people’s compensation funding and aid, they will do whatever possible to make it harder for them to leave on their own or stay evacuated.

For more information about how Japan’s public housing system works, the Yen for Living blog at Japan Times has some helpful information.

Central gov't wanted voluntary Fukushima evacuees to enter draws for public housing
The central government told prefectural governments in October 2013 to not exempt Fukushima nuclear disaster voluntary evacuees from having to enter draws for access to public housing after the free rent period for their current residences ends, it has been learned.

Voluntary evacuees are living in regular residences recognized as temporary homes, for which they pay no rent until the end of March 2017. The central government's instruction came in regards to a policy called "Smoothing of (evacuees') entrance into public housing," which is based on an evacuee support law passed in June 2012 under the Democratic Party of Japan administration. The policy is supposed to loosen tough requirements defined by the Act on Public Housing for entrance into local government-run homes, such as income caps, and was included in fundamental policies of the support law that were approved by the Cabinet on Oct. 11, 2013.

The day before the Cabinet decision, the Reconstruction Agency and the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism summoned representatives from the governments of municipalities with many Fukushima evacuees, like those of Tokyo and Saitama and Niigata prefectures, for a meeting. The Mainichi Shimbun obtained minutes of the meeting recorded by multiple municipal governments.

According to the minutes, a representative from the Reconstruction Agency explained that "basically the policy is for a return to Fukushima" and then gave details about the support law and the policy, and responded to questions from municipal government representatives.

When representatives from prefectures including Saitama asked about how to handle voluntary evacuees who want to move into public housing after their free rent period for their current residences ends, a ministry representative said the ministry wanted them to not give those evacuees any exemption from having to enter draws for entrance into the housing.

If voluntary evacuees have to enter draws for access to public housing, they might not succeed, and will be stuck without cheap public housing when free rent at their evacuation home runs out.
When a representative asked about the demand among evacuees for the "Smoothing of (evacuees') entrance into public housing" policy, a government representative said, "The amount of demand is unknown," suggesting that the policy was made without being based on studies of evacuees' desires.
Many municipalities are restricting application for public housing to evacuees who did not originally live in those areas. A question regarding whether these restrictions needed to be changed came up at the meeting, but a central government representative said, "We don't want changes (to the restrictions)," and asked municipal governments to operate regulations regarding public housing application according to their interpretation.

In June 2014, the land ministry distributed to municipal governments a collection of questions and answers about the policy, indicating strict requirements for allowing voluntary evacuees entrance into public housing without having to enter draws. The questions and answers were not released to the public. The Mainichi Shimbun made an information disclosure request and found that publically released documents on the policy make no mention at all of entering public housing without entering draws.

The policy went into effect in October 2014. According to the Reconstruction Agency, 40 prefectural and major city governments are accepting applications for public housing, but due to factors including lack of publicity on the policy, they have only given out 50 applications.
A land ministry representative says, "We cannot treat voluntary evacuees the same as forced evacuees, who are allowed entrance into public housing without entering draws. In the end, the methods taken are the decision of municipal governments."

On June 15, the Fukushima Prefectural Government announced it would consider its own support measures to accompany the end of free rent period for the around 25,000 estimated voluntary evacuees using apartments and the like as temporary evacuation residences.

Source: Mainichi
http://mainichi.jp/english/english/newsselect/news/20150624p2a00m0na009000c.html

Toshiba's 'scorpion' robot will look into Fukushima reactor

A robot developed by Toshiba Corp. is demonstrated at its laboratory in Yokohama, near Tokyo, Tuesday, June 30, 2015. As Japan struggles in the early stages of decades-long cleanup of the Fukushima nuclear crisis, Toshiba has developed the robot that raises its tail like a scorpion and collects data, and hopefully locate some of melted debris. The "scorpion" robot, which is 54 centimeters (21 inches) long when extended, has two cameras, LED lighting and a dosimeter, will be sent into the Unit 2 reactor in August to look.

YOKOHAMA, Japan (AP) — A new robot that raises its tail like a scorpion is scheduled to look at melted nuclear fuel inside one of the three wrecked Fukushima reactors in Japan.
Toshiba Corp., co-developer of the "scorpion" crawler that was demonstrated Tuesday, said the robot will venture into the Unit 2 reactor's primary containment vessel in August after a month of training for its handlers.
Officials hope the robot can see the fuel in the pressure vessel in the middle of the reactor. The fuel hasn't been located exactly and studied because of the high radiation levels.
The difficult work of decommissioning the Fukushima plant damaged by the 2011 earthquake and tsunami will take decades.
The scorpion robot is the second to enter a primary containment vessel, after "snake" robots were sent in April inside the worst-hit Unit 1. One of the two robots used in that reactor became stuck and had to be left behind, and neither was able to spot the melted fuel debris.
This time, the scorpion crawler, which is 54 centimeters (21 inches) long when it is extended, will enter through a duct designed as a passageway for fuel rods. Toshiba has no back up machine.
During the demonstration at a Toshiba lab near Tokyo, the robot slid down a railing as it stretched out like a bar, with a head-mounted LED showing its way. After crawling over a slight gap and landing on a metal platform, the robot lifted its tail, as if looking up at the bottom of the control rod drive, a structure above the platform where some melted nuclear fuel might be left.
Toshiba officials said they hope the robot can capture images of deeper areas of the vessel, though the primary focus is the platform area, so they can design suitable robots that can go deeper into the vessel.
The scorpion also demonstrated it can roll back upright if it hits an obstacle and rolls over. The ability comes from a tail joint in the middle that bends.
One operator controls the robot with a joystick, and another monitors a video feed from the robot and other data. At the Fukushima plant, the robot will be operated remotely from a command center in a separate building.
The work is planned for a full day. The robot is designed with radiation tolerance allowing it to stay more than 10 hours inside the Unit 2 reactor. Protecting plant workers and engineers from radiation exposure is crucial in the decades-long cleanup.
The robot's entry is just the beginning of the reactor investigation required before the most challenging task of removing the melted fuel.
Source: San Diego Union Tribune
http://www.sandiegouniontribune.com/news/2015/jun/30/toshibas-scorpion-robot-will-look-into-fukushima/

TEPCO told to pay 27 million yen to family of Fukushima evacuee who killed himself

FUKUSHIMA--Tokyo Electric Power Co. has been ordered to pay 27 million yen ($219,500) in compensation to the bereaved family of a male evacuee who committed suicide after being displaced due to the 2011 Fukushima nuclear disaster.
Presiding Judge Naoyuki Shiomi of the Fukushima District Court ruled on June 30 that the main reason Kiichi Isozaki, 67, from Namie, near the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant, killed himself was “stress related to the nuclear accident.”
It was the second time a court in Japan has deemed that the Fukushima accident was responsible for an evacuee's suicide.
Shiomi ruled that Isozaki lost the “foundation of his life” when he had to evacuate from his hometown, where he had spent most of his life and enjoyed fishing and home gardening after retirement.
The judge concluded that the prolonged evacuation and economic insecurity about his future added to his anxiety and triggered depression.
Isozaki’s 66-year-old wife, Eiko, and two other family members sued the utility, demanding 87 million yen in compensation.
Isozaki and his family fled from their home on March 12, 2011, the day after the nuclear crisis unfolded at the plant following the Great East Japan Earthquake and tsunami, according to a court statement.
They took refuge in a shelter set up at a high school gym in Koriyama, also in Fukushima Prefecture, about 60 kilometers from their home, on March 13.
Isozaki complained about being unable to sleep there and also lost his appetite.
About a month later, the family moved to an apartment in Nihonmatsu in the same prefecture.
Isozaki's health began deteriorating again around the middle of June, and he often expressed a desire to return home.
His body was discovered in a river in Iitate, a village in the prefecture, in July. Police believe that he jumped from a nearby bridge.
The central issue of the lawsuit was whether his suicide was related to the nuclear accident.
Isozaki committed suicide after developing depression while evacuating from the area of the nuclear accident,” one of the family members testified in court.
But TEPCO claimed, “Isozaki was already suffering anxiety and stress since he had diabetes.”
In the first compensation judgment, the utility was ordered to pay about 49 million yen to the family of an evacuee from Kawamata who killed herself in July 2011. The ruling was made by the same court last August.
The evacuee, 58, had set herself ablaze while on a visit back to her home.
On that occasion the utility decided not to appeal the ruling, and senior TEPCO officials apologized to the family of the deceased.
Source : Asahi Shimbun

Tokyo Electric Power : TEPCO to pay part of decontamination costs it refused to cover

Tepco now plans on paying part of the 76.1 billion yen ($619.4 million) spent so far on radiation decontamination work conducted by municipalities.
Tepco had effectively refused to cover the costs and only paid around 1.7 billion yen, or 2 percent of the total amount so far, saying it had yet to confirm whether it was legally liable for such payments.
However, Tepco has now conveyed to the Environment Ministry its intention of paying around 43 billion yen, or nearly 60% percent of the costs that the ministry had asked it to cover, in response to the ministry's repeated calls. The utility is also considering whether to pay the remainder, the sources said.
A law enacted following the triple reactor meltdowns in March 2011 stipulates that Tepco bears the responsibility of paying for all decontamination work, such as removal of radioactive soil and other waste. Under the current program, the central government first shoulders the cost of cleanup work conducted by municipalities and Tepco later reimburses the expenses.
The utility's planned reimbursement will concern cleanup work conducted by municipalities in Fukushima, Miyagi, Iwate and several other prefectures.
Tepco has paid more than 90 percent of the around 128.5 billion yen spent on decontamination work conducted directly by the central government in heavily contaminated areas close to the Fukushima
Daiichi power station. 
Source: 4 Traders 

Monday, 29 June 2015

Redeeming lives of Fukushima’s irradiated animals

In the wake of the disaster at the Fukushima nuclear power plant, much remains unknown about the long-term health effects of the radioactive substances released.
Seeking answers, Tohoku University Prof. Manabu Fukumoto has been examining the blood and other factors of slaughtered cattle and wild animals caught by hunters mainly within a 20-kilometer radius of the plant.
Over a four-year period, 300 cows, 60 pigs and 200 Japanese monkeys were checked. “Studying animals that lived in areas with high levels of radioactive material will help shed light on how radiation affects people,” Fukumoto said. “In fact, they provide us with a wealth of information.”
Fukumoto discovered that cesium levels in the organs of calves were 1.5 times higher than in those of their mothers. “Calves are known to have excellent metabolism, but it was a surprise to learn that radiation could accumulate so easily,” the 64-year-old professor said. “We have to pinpoint the cause.”
Eggs and sperm will be harvested from such cows for in vitro fertilization. Resulting offspring will then be screened for irregularities in their DNA.
The professor is a pathologist who studied the effects of internal radiation exposure on people who had ingested radioactive substances. After the Fukushima accident, his wife was struck with grief when the government started slaughtering cattle. “If anyone can ensure their deaths weren’t in vain, I know it’s you,” she told him.
Since he was nearing 65, the professor had been contemplating retirement. “I felt I had to prove my mettle as a Japanese researcher,” Fukumoto explained.
No longer spending all day peering through microscopes, he now strives to gather samples around the nuclear plant. The professor was convinced that “this is the quickest way to resolve questions regarding long-term radiation exposure.”
Using the sample collection and data he has amassed, Fukumoto plans to build an archive on animals exposed to radiation from the Fukushima disaster for the next generation.
“I’m all about being a zoologist now,” Fukumoto said with conviction.

Redeeming lives of Fukushima’s irradiated animals
Source : Japan Times
http://the-japan-news.com/news/article/0002159008

WTO to Rule on Ban of Japanese Fisheries Imports

Bilateral talks on Korea's ban on fisheries imports from Japan following the 2011 Fukushima nuclear disaster have collapsed, and the matter will now go before a dispute panel at the World Trade Organization.

Seoul banned the import of 50 fisheries products from Fukushima Prefecture after the disaster, and the ban was expanded to cover all fishery products from Fukushima and seven adjacent prefectures in September 2013 following reports that massive amounts of radioactive materials and contaminated water from the Fukushima nuclear power plant were being dumped in the sea.

Tokyo claims Korea's import ban has no scientific basis and demanded that Seoul lift it as soon as possible.

A government official here said, "We said the import ban was in line with WTO regulations and asked Tokyo to explain its nuclear risk and the state of nuclear reactors."

Tokyo initially requested bilateral consultations with Seoul under a WTO dispute settlement framework.

Source : Chosun
http://english.chosun.com/site/data/html_dir/2015/06/29/2015062901579.html

Is Fukushima Getting Worse?

The Fukushima multiple nuclear disasters continue spewing out hot stuff like there’s no tomorrow. By all appearances, it is getting worse, out-of-control nuclear meltdowns.
On June 19th TEPCO reported the highest-ever readings of strontium-90 outside of the Fukushima plant ports. The readings were 1,000,000 Bq/m3 of strontium-90 at two locations near water intakes for Reactors 3 and 4. TEPCO has not been able to explain the spike up in readings. The prior highest readings were 700,000 Bq/m3.
Strontium-90 is a byproduct of nuclear reactors or during the explosion of nuclear weapons; e.g., it is considered the most dangerous component of radioactive fallout from a nuclear weapon.1 It is a cancer-causing substance because it damages genetic material (DNA) in cells. Strontium-90 is not found in nature. It’s a byproduct of the nuclear world of today; e.g., strontium-90 was only recently discovered, as of August 2014, for the first time ever, by the Vermont Health Department in ground water at the Vermont Yankee Nuclear Power Station. Coincidentally, Vermont Yankee, as of December 29, 2014, is being shut down.
When a fission chain reaction of uranium-235 or plutonium-239 is active in a nuclear power station containment vessel, it produces a vast array of deadly radioactive isotopes. Strontium-90 is but one of those. So, somewhere in Fukushima Dai-ichih a lot of atoms are splitting like crazy (meanwhile Einstein e=mc2 turns over in his grave) and ergo, a lot of strontium-90 pops out and hangs around for decades upon decades. This is not a small problem.
Which may be why Einstein famously said, “Nuclear power is one hell of a way to boil water.”
For example, a large amount of strontium-90 erupted into the atmosphere from the Chernobyl nuclear explosion (1986), spread over the old Soviet Republics and parts of Europe. Thereby, strontium-90, along with other radioactive isotopes, kills and maims people, a lot of people, to this day, more on this later.
Farming in Fukushima
Because of the Fukushima nuclear meltdown, farmers in the greater area have had a tough go of it. For example, on June 6, 2013 Japanese farmers met with TEPCO and government officials, including the official in charge of Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (Translated and Edited by World Network for Saving Children from Radiation).
The 13-minute video of the farmers’ meeting with officials shows farmers testifying about contaminated food that, “We won’t eat ourselves, but we sell it… I know there is radiation in what we grow. I feel guilty about growing and selling them to consumers.”
Well, sure enough, officials from New Taipei City’s Department of Health (Taipei, Taiwan), and other law-enforcement authorities, seized mislabeled products from Japan. It seems that “more than 283 Japanese food products imported from the radiation-stricken areas near the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear disaster were found to be relabeled as having come from other areas of Japan and sold to local customers.”2
Meanwhile, within a couple of months of the illicit underhanded devious mislabeling incident,  Taiwan draws a line in the sand for Japanese foodstuff.3
Not only that but on the heels of Taiwan’s discovery of the mislabeling gimmick, and only three months later, this past week, Japanese authorities are asking China to remove the restrictions.4  Previously, China banned food imports from ten prefectures in Japan, including Miyagi, Nagano, and Fukushima.
Japan would be wise to suggest China first consult with the United States because confidently, audaciously, imperturbably Secretary of State Hillary Clinton allegedly signed a secret pact with Japan within one month of the meltdown for the U.S. to continue importing Japanese foodstuff, no questions asked.5
Meantime, Chancellor Merkel (PhD, physics) ordered a shutdown of nuclear power plants throughout Germany.  Hmm.
Fukushima and Our Radioactive Ocean
According to the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute, Video- March 2015:
When Fukushima exploded, radioactive gases and particles escaped into the atmosphere. Most fell nearby on land and in the ocean. A smaller amount remained in the air, and within days, circled the globe… in the ocean close to Fukushima, levels of cesium-137 and 134, two of the most abundant radioactive materials released, peaked at more than 50,000,000 times above background levels.
Nevertheless, according to Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute:
Scientists who have modeled the plume predict that radioactivity along the West Coast of North America will increase, but will remain at levels that are not a threat to humans or marine life.
To date, based upon actual testing of water and marine life in the Pacific Ocean by Woods Hole, radioactive levels along the North American West Coast remain low, not a threat to humans, not a threat to marine life, so far.
Fukushima and its Ocean Impact
According to Dr. Ken Buesseler, Senior Scientist, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute, March 11, 2015, cesium uptake in the marine food web is diluted, for example, when Bluefin tuna swim across the Pacific, they lose, via excretion, about one-half of the cesium intake that is ingested in Japanese waters.
Expectantly, there are no commercial fisheries open in the Fukushima-affected areas of Japan. On a continual monitoring basis, no fishing is allowed in contaminated areas off the coastlines.
When contamination levels of fish in Japan are compared to fish along the coast of North America, the levels of radiation are relatively low in Canada and in the U.S. As a result, according to studies by Woods Hole, eating fish from the U.S. Pacific region is okay.
Not only that, but rather than categorical acceptance of U.S. government statements about safety from radiation in ocean currents, Dr. Buesseler established a citizen’s network called “How Radioactive is Our Ocean?” where individuals contribute by voluntarily taking samples. Every sample from the West Coast had cesium-137, but the numbers are low and at levels harmless to humans, thus far.
But, on a cautionary note, Dr. Buesseler is the first one to admit the situation requires constant monitoring.
Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute’s findings are not sufficient to dismiss health concerns for many reasons, among of which Fukushima is white hot with radioactivity, tenuously hanging by a thread, extremely vulnerable to another earthquake or even an internally generated disruption.  Who knows? It is totally out of control!
The California Coastal Commission issued a report that agrees with the low levels of Fukushima-derived radionuclides detected in air, drinking water, food, seawater, and marine life in California; however, “it should be noted that the long-term effects of low-level radiation in the environment remain incompletely understood….”6
The risk of long-term exposure to low-level radiation is unclear. Studies of radiotherapy patients and others indicate that there is a significant increase in cancer risk if lifetime exposure exceeds 100,000 microsieverts, according to the World Health Organization. A person exposed daily to radiation at the high end of the levels now seen at Miyakoji [a village in Fukushima Prefecture] would reach that lifetime exposure level in fewer than 23 years.7
Current Status of Fukushima Nuclear Site
According to Dr. Ken Buesseler of Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, who travels to Japan to measure radiation levels: The site continues to leak radioactive materials. In fact, release of strontium-90 has grown by a factor of 100 when compared to 2011 levels. In other words, the situation is worsening. One hundred times anything is very big, especially when it is radiation.
Strontium-90 is acutely dangerous, and as it happens, highly radioactive water continuing to spew out of the Fukushima Dai-ichih facilities is seemingly an endless, relentless problem. The mere fact that strontium-90 has increased by a factor of 100 since the disaster occurred is cause for decisive sober reflection. Furthermore, nobody on the face of the planet knows what is happening within the nuclear containment vessels, but apparently, it’s not good. More likely, it’s real bad.
According to Dr. Helen Caldicott:
There is no way they can get to those cores, men die, robots get fried. Fukushima will never be solved. Meanwhile, people are still living in highly radioactive areas.8
Comparison analysis of Three Mile Island (1979), Chernobyl (1986), and Fukushima (2011)
The world’s three most recent nuclear disasters are dissimilar in many respects. However, all three are subject to the same adage: “an accident is something that is not planned.” Thus, by definition, in the final analysis, the risk factor with nuclear power is indeterminate. Fukushima is proof.
Three Mile Island’s containment vessel, in large measure, fulfilled its purpose by containing most of the radiation so there was minimal radiation released. As such, Three Mile Island is the least harmful of the three incidents.
By way of contrast, Chernobyl did not have an adequate containment vessel and as a result, the explosion sent a gigantic plume of radioactive material blasting into the atmosphere, contaminating a 70 square kilometer (approximately 30 sq. mi.) region, a “dead zone” that is permanently uninhabitable, forever unlivable.
To this day, tens of thousands of people affected by Chernobyl continue to suffer, and die, begging the question of whether Fukushima could be worse. After all, the incubation period for radiation in the body is 5-to-40 years (Caldicott). As, for example, it took 5 years for Chernobyl children to develop cancer (Caldicott), and Fukushima occurred in 2011.
“Fukushima is not Chernobyl, but it is potentially worse. It is a multiple reactor catastrophe happening within 150 miles of a metropolis of 30 million people,” claims John Vidal. Whereas, Chernobyl was only one reactor in an area of 7 million people.
John Vidal, environmental editor, The Guardian newspaper (UK), traveled to Chernobyl:
Five years ago I visited the still highly contaminated areas of Ukraine and the Belarus border where much of the radioactive plume from Chernobyl descended on 26 April 1986. I challenge chief scientist John Beddington and environmentalists like George Monbiot or any of the pundits now downplaying the risks of radiation to talk to the doctors, the scientists, the mothers, children and villagers who have been left with the consequences of a major nuclear accident. It was grim. We went from hospital to hospital and from one contaminated village to another. We found deformed and genetically mutated babies in the wards; pitifully sick children in the homes; adolescents with stunted growth and dwarf torsos; fetuses without thighs or fingers and villagers who told us every member of their family was sick. This was 20 years after the accident, but we heard of many unusual clusters of people with rare bone cancers… Villagers testified that ‘the Chernobyl necklace’ – thyroid cancer – was so common as to be unremarkable.9
There’s more.
Konstantin Tatuyan, one of the ‘liquidators’ who had helped clean up the plant [Chernobyl], told us that nearly all his colleagues had died or had cancers of one sort or another, but that no one had ever asked him for evidence.  There was burning resentment at the way the UN, the industry and ill-informed pundits had played down the catastrophe.10
And still more yet:
Alexy Yablokov, member of the Russian Academy of Sciences, and adviser to President Gorbachev at the time of Chernobyl: ‘When you hear no immediate danger [from nuclear radiation] then you should run away as far and as fast as you can’… At the end of 2006, Yablokov and two colleagues, factoring in the worldwide drop in births and increase in cancers seen after the accident, estimated in a study published in the annals of the New York Academy of Sciences that 985,000 people had so far died and the environment had been devastated. Their findings were met with almost complete silence by the World Health Organisation and the industry.11
The environment is devastated and almost one million dead. Is nuclear power worth the risks? Chancellor Merkel doesn’t seem to think so.
Of the three major nuclear disasters, Fukushima has its own uniqueness. The seriousness of the problem is immense, far-reaching, and daunting as its containment vessels are leaking radioactivity every day, every hour, every minute. How to stop it is not known, which is likely the definition of a nuclear meltdown!
The primary containment vessels at Fukushima may have prevented a Chernobyl-type massive release of radioactivity into the atmosphere in one enormous explosion. Even though, Fukushima did have four hydrogen explosions in the secondary containment structures, and as previously mentioned, according to Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute:
When Fukushima exploded… levels of cesium-137 and 134, two of the most abundant radioactive materials released, peaked at more than 50,000,000 times above background levels.
But, more significant, troublesome, and menacing the primary containment vessels themselves are an afflictive problem of unknown dimension, unknown timing, unknown levels of destruction, as the nuclear meltdown left 100 tons of white-hot radioactive lava somewhere, but where?
“Hell is empty and all the devils are here,” William Shakespeare The Tempest.
Postscript: Quietly into Disaster is an alluring, exquisite, handsome full-length film that examines the consequences of nuclear fission, Produced by: Holger Strohm, Directed by Marcin El.
Source: Dissident Voice
http://dissidentvoice.org/2015/06/is-fukushima-getting-worse/

Friday, 26 June 2015

Hayao Miyazaki Gives 300 Million Yen to Build Kids' Area in Park

Retired Ghibli feature director also drew art for center for families after 2011 quake

 

 

Anime director and Studio Ghibli co-founder Hayao Miyazaki donated 300 million yen (around US$2.4 million) to the town of Kumejima, Okinawa for the construction of an "Interaction Center for Children" in the town's Zenda Forest Park. The project's supervisor and Miyazaki's friend Tomohiro Horino expects the project to take around two years to complete.

The facility will include a two-story, 1,000-square-meter building. The town has allotted 10,000 square meters of the Zenda Forest Park for the project. The project will solicit opinions and suggestions for the project from the town's citizens on a regular basis.

The project was revealed last year. Miyazaki drew the concept illustration above for the facility.
Miyazaki was also asked by a friend last year to draw a logo for the new facility on Kumejima. The facility is intended for families and children, who were displaced from Fukushima, to be outdoors; due to the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station leak after the 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake, there are areas in Fukushima that are no longer safe for children to play.

Miyazaki has retired from making feature films, but continues to work on short films for the Ghibli Museum, as well as pet projects, including a samurai manga for Model Graphix magazine.

Source: Okinawa Times

 

S. Korea, Japan make no progress in fishery import ban talks

SEJONG, June 26 (Yonhap) -- Talks between South Korea and Japan over Seoul's ban on fishery imports from the neighboring country ended without any progress as they stuck to their guns, the government here said Friday.

Seoul imposed an import ban on 50 fishery products from Japan's Fukushima Prefecture shortly after the major earthquake and tsunami caused a nuclear reactor there to melt down in March 2011.

The ban was expanded to cover all fishery products from Fukushima and seven adjacent prefectures in September 2013 following reports that massive amounts of radioactive materials and contaminated water from the Fukushima nuclear power plant were being dumped in waters surrounding Japan.

"The government held bilateral consultations with Japan on June 24-25 at the World Trade Organization (WTO) headquarters in Geneva over our country's import restrictions on Japanese fishery products, but the talks ended after the countries confirmed their differences," the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy said in a press release.

Japan argued South Korea's import ban had no scientific justification, demanding Seoul remove all its import restrictions at the earliest date possible.

South Korea maintained its measures were still necessary to ensure the safety of its people and that they were in line with the WTO's sanitary and phytosanitary measures.

This week's talks came after Tokyo requested bilateral consultations with Seoul under a dispute settlement framework of the WTO.

Japan could ask the WTO to set up a dispute settlement panel if the countries fail to reach a deal within 60 days following Japan's request for bilateral consultations.

Seoul's trade ministry said it was not clear whether Tokyo will ask for additional consultations, but that it will be fully prepared to deal with any legal processes.

"Japan has expressed its position that it will decide its next step after reviewing the outcome of this week's bilateral consultations," the ministry said.

"The government will begin preparing for WTO's dispute settlement process as Japan is expected to ask for the establishment of a dispute settlement panel."

Source : Yonhap News
http://english.yonhapnews.co.kr/news/2015/06/26/0200000000AEN20150626001200320.html

Thursday, 25 June 2015

Government OKs ¥6.5 trillion recovery program for regions hit by triple disaster

The central government approved a ¥6.5 trillion, five-year program to help areas hit by the 2011 earthquake, tsunami and nuclear disaster to recover, under a plan that will see local governments begin to shoulder part of the cost.
 
Local governments in Iwate, Miyagi and Fukushima prefectures are expected to pay about ¥22 billion. The remainder will be covered by the central government in the five-year period starting in April 2016, according to officials.

It program represents a policy shift by the central government because it has paid for all costs for reconstruction projects thus far.

The central government has cited the need to consolidate its debt-ridden finances, instead encouraging disaster-hit regions to promote reconstruction without relying too much on the state.

Under the program, local authorities are required to bear 1.0 to 3.3 percent of the costs for reconstruction work, one-tenth or less of the levels set for public works projects, the officials said.

Local authorities had demanded the state shoulder all the costs for reconstruction work, saying a fiscal burden will undermine their recovery efforts and hit financially weak municipalities.

However, the governors of the three prefectures on Monday indicated they would accept the new formula after the state reduced their share from about ¥30 billion to about ¥22 billion.

According to the officials, the program will allocate ¥3.4 trillion for rebuilding homes and communities damaged by the disaster.

Some ¥500 billion will be earmarked for reconstruction related to the nuclear disaster at Tepco’s crippled Fukushima No. 1 plant, and ¥400 billion for supporting survivors.

The state is calling the five years from April 2016 a “revival and creation period,” aiming to finish reconstruction work in Iwate and Miyagi prefectures and to speed up the reconstruction of the nuclear crisis-hit Fukushima Prefecture.

Including the ¥6.5 trillion, the total reconstruction costs for a 10-year period from the 2011 calamity will amount to ¥32 trillion.

Source : Japan Times


Seoul, Tokyo still at odds over 3/11 fish import ban

Geneva – Japan and South Korea held talks on Seoul’s import ban on Japanese fishery products in Geneva Wednesday under dispute settlement procedures of the World Trade Organization but failed to iron out their differences.

The two sides, however, agreed to continue the talks on Thursday.

The talks were arranged after Japan filed a complaint with the WTO on May 21 over the import ban.

After the meltdown of Tokyo Electric Power Co.’s Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant, caused by the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami, South Korea banned imports of some marine products from eight prefectures including Fukushima. In September 2013, the country expanded the ban to cover all seafood from the eight prefectures.

Japan took the matter to the world trade watchdog because South Korea did not agree to the Japanese argument that the ban lacked scientific evidence.

If the two sides remain at odds in Thursday’s talks and cannot reach an agreement by the July 20 deadline for the bilateral consultations, Japan will seek an adjudication by a dispute settlement panel.

Source : Japan Times
http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2015/06/25/national/politics-diplomacy/seoul-tokyo-still-odds-311-fish-import-ban/#.VYwL8Eb1CM9