Blog Archive

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

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

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

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

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

Shareholders pressure utilities to ditch nuclear power

Shareholders and politicians on Thursday urged the nation’s top utilities to exit nuclear power as the central government moves to restart reactors idled by public safety fears in the wake of the triple core meltdown in Fukushima Prefecture in 2011.

Despite a number of antinuclear proposals pushed at the shareholders’ meetings, however, officials from the utilities said this week they were eager to restart nuclear power plants as soon as possible after their businesses were staggered by the halt of all commercial nuclear reactors in the country after 3/11.

Nine utilities with nuclear plants, including the biggest, Tokyo Electric Power Co., which manages the meltdown-hit Fukushima No. 1 power station — held their general shareholders’ meetings at a time when a nuclear power plant in the southwest is preparing go back online this summer for the first time under tighter post-Fukushima safety requirements.

Japan, which relies heavily on imported energy, invested heavily in nuclear power for decades, making withdrawal from what some believe to be a cheaper, less-polluting power source a difficult proposition to swallow.

At Tepco’s meeting, Katsutaka Idogawa, former mayor of the town of Futaba — which has been rendered uninhabitable by radiation contamination — said pulling out of atomic power is “the only way for the company to survive.”

Tepco, as the utility is known, has “forced people who were living peacefully into a situation like hell . . . I propose that Tepco break away from nuclear power,” the mayor said. Futaba co-hosts the Fukushima No. 1 plant.

Officials from Kansai Electric Power Co., which held its shareholders meeting in Kobe for the first time in many years, faced a barrage of tough questions about nuclear power, its decision to raise prices, and its ¥148.3 billion net loss in fiscal 2014.

Kepco faced sharp criticism for hiking household rates 8.36 percent at the beginning of the month because, as it acknowledges, its 11 commercial reactors are still idle, forcing it to rely more on imported fossil fuels. That was a sore point Thursday with politicians representing cities that hold Kepco shares.

“It’s regrettable the rise in rates is putting strong pressure on people’s lifestyles. Kepco’s efforts at management efficiency are still lacking,” said Kobe Mayor Kizo Hisamoto. Kobe owns about 3 percent of Kepco’s stock.

Osaka Mayor Toru Hashimoto, one of the utility’s harshest critics, was not present Thursday but submitted a motion together with the city of Kyoto calling on Kepco to get out of nuclear power. The motion was voted down. Osaka owns about 9.4 percent of Kepco’s stock.

Kepco’s heavy losses and its plans to restart reactor Nos. 3 and 4 at the Takahama plant in Fukui Prefecture — despite a provisional injunction from the Fukui District Court in April — prompted calls from many shareholders for management, especially Chairman Shosuke Mori and President Makoto Yagi, to resign. But they and 14 other senior executives were re-elected.

“Nuclear power is part of the national energy policy, an important baseload. For reasons of energy security, economics, and reducing greenhouse gas emissions, we need to restart the reactors,” Yagi said at a news conference in Osaka on Thursday afternoon.

Shareholders expressed worries about how Kepco will adjust to the full deregulation of the electricity market next year, which is expected bring new, more flexible competition for electricity service at a time when the company is financially strapped.

In Fukuoka, shareholders at Kyushu Electric Power Co., which is looking to restart its Sendai nuclear plant in Kagoshima Prefecture in August, proposed that the president be dismissed, saying his stance of continuing nuclear power has hurt earnings.

But President Michiaki Uriu told the meeting that the utility “aims to restart nuclear reactors as soon as possible on the premise that securing safety is the priority.”

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe wants to reactivate reactors that meet safety regulations beefed-up by the new nuclear regulator that was set up after the Fukushima crisis. The majority of the public, however, remains opposed.

The government plans to make nuclear energy account for 20 percent to 22 percent of the country’s total electricity supply in 2030, compared with around 30 percent before.
Source : Japan Times

Student volunteers move in with elderly 3/11 refugees in Fukushima

FUKUSHIMA – University students in Fukushima Prefecture have begun providing elderly refugees from the nuclear disaster with a unique form of assistance just by living in the same temporary housing complex where they now live.
By staying close to the seniors and associating with them across generational lines, the young volunteers hope to revitalize their communities.
The aid project was proposed by the Fukushima University Disaster Volunteer Center, which has promoted volunteer visits to temporary housing in the radiation-tainted prefecture. It was adopted by the Reconstruction Agency as a state-subsidized “mental reconstruction” project.
The project involves a temporary housing complex in the Iizaka district in the city of Fukushima where 269 people from the town of Namie, in the exclusion zone near the meltdown-hit Fukushima No. 1 power plant, have taken shelter. About 60 percent of the residents are 60 or older.
Two students will live in the complex for three months, followed by another pair each new quarter, for an entire year. The students will meet the residents and gauge how they are getting by, shop on their behalf and support the activities of the residents’ association.
Last Sunday, about 10 students helped the first two move in, cleaning their dwelling and carrying in furniture.
“Instead of working too hard to fulfill the role of a volunteer, I aim to be accepted as a resident,” Shunichi Sato, a 22-year-old Fukushima University student who volunteered. “I’m looking forward to talking with people who I’ve had few chances to get to know.”
Source : Japan Times

Dismantling of Contaminated Water Tanks in Fukushima Daiichi

TEPCO explains how they will go about taking down the many bolt together tanks at the disaster site, to be replaced with welded tanks in what is becoming a crowded patch of land on the plant grounds.

   Example drawing of the tank preparation process including an air filtration system 
and the spraying of dust inhibitor s prior to disassembly

  Interior of a drained tank with sprayer installed

  Tank with plastic tarp roof

  Partially disassembled tank portion

Tank before final sludge draining

Drained tank before removal

 Building where tank sections will be cut down

  Transport of tank sections for cutting

  Band saws for cutting down tank sections

 Inside saw system

 HEPA dust system installed on the saw.

Tepco says the remaining scrap will be loaded into steel containers and will be stored on site.
Source: Tepco

Wednesday, 24 June 2015

Top nuclear expert says reactor training lacking

Japan's nuclear regulators have come up with a revised plan to provide emergency medical care to residents after accidents at nuclear power plants. The government has until now helped set up hospitals near nuclear plants to treat small numbers of workers exposed to radiation in accidents.
But in the 2011 nuclear disaster at the Fukushima Daiichi plant, local medical facilities were unable to adequately treat the many residents thought to have been exposed to radiation. At their meeting in Tokyo on Wednesday, the NRA, presented a draft of revised guidelines for creating a network of medical facilities. The plan proposes that prefectures within 30 kilometers of plants designate 1 to 3 hospitals as base facilities to deal with nuclear disasters.
The hospitals are to have teams of experts treat patients after accidents and go to other prefectures where nuclear accidents occur.
The draft also calls for designating hospitals and other facilities within around 30 kilometers of nuclear plants as “cooperating organizations." The facilities would check evacuees for exposure to radiation and treat the injured and sick. The NRA is to decide on the revised guidelines after soliciting opinions from the public for 30 days from Thursday. 

The top official of a group of nuclear energy experts says the Fukushima Daiichi accident has made it difficult for Japan to properly train enough nuclear specialists.

Hiroshi Uetsuka, the new president of the Atomic Energy Society of Japan, told reporters on Wednesday that every research reactor housed at universities and other institutes across Japan is idled.

Uetsuka said the operators of those institutes are unable to meet regulations that were revised following the nuclear accident. He said the budgets and staff for the research reactors have been cut.

The president called the situation very serious because of the challenges that both decommissioning and restarting reactors present.

He said his society will put together proposals to address the problem.

Uetsuka said the cause of the Fukushima Daiichi accident is well understood, but investigations have yet to determine what exactly is going on inside the reactors.

Uetsuka said the society will continue to study the accident. He said its members, along with officials of the Nuclear Regulation Authority and power companies, will discuss how to apply their findings to reactor regulations.

Source : NHK

LDP Pushes Evacuees to Return to Fukushima

In 2013, two years after the disaster, Japan’s permanent radiation-exclusion zones were unveiled in the Japanese media. 

The Japanese government identified areas measuring between 20 and 50 millisieverts a year as suitable for restricted living (visitation but not yet permanent inhabitations). 

Areas measuring fewer than 20 millisieverts a year of annual exposure were designated as habitable zones and preparations were made for lifting evacuation orders in these areas (“About 60 Percent,” 2013.)

In effect, Japan increased its national exposure level from one, to up to 20 millisieverts a year, while allowing partial habitation in areas with up to 50 millisieverts. 

In comparison, the Soviets set the Chernobyl exclusion zone at five millisieverts a year “Japan Groups Alarmed,” 2011. 

This elevated level applied for children as well as adults.

In November 2013, Japan announced it was changing its method of atmospheric monitoring to an individualized badge system. According to a November 9, 2013 report from The Asahi Shimbun, the badges underestimated exposure levels by seven times when compared to the atmospheric monitoring technique that had previously been deployed by aircraft “Lower Radiation Readings,” 2013. 

This change essentially increases permissible exposure levels. 
Source : Majia's Blog

Tuesday, 23 June 2015

Old problems and new problems plague Fukushima

As June wanes we find more delays, more problems and new admissions about the extent of the disaster.

TEPCO introduced a new roadmap plan. At the same time they announced that spent fuel removal work for units 1-3 would be delayed again. Currently they are attempting to remove the cover on unit 1 but this process has not actually begun based on visual evidence at the plant. Work at unit 3 had been underway in early spring to remove parts of the crane that fell into the fuel pool. An oil leak was found as they attempted to remove a portion of the crane. Around the same time they discovered damage to the metal gate that connects the spent fuel pool to the reactor well. After this discovery, removal work at unit 3 appeared to cease.

Newer reports also showed that the earlier concept of flooding the reactor containments to remove damaged fuel debris is being phased out. This will require research to be focused on ways to remove fuel without doing so under water. Something that has not been done is to drill under the reactor buildings to check for fuel debris that may have burned through the basement of the reactor buildings. At this point the melted fuel at units 1-3 has not been located. Delays in investigation efforts and denial of the potential extent of the damage will only drive up costs and create years of additional delay.

Bags of contaminated soil stored at sites around Japan and in Fukushima prefecture have began to fail. It was not mentioned how they would remediate the damaged bags or what precautions would be used to prevent bags from failing during the transportation process. Contaminated soil is to be moved to two new storage facilities near Fukushima Daiichi.

The government has decided to allow businesses back into the evacuation zone. Nahara is also a location where reactor debris was discovered. A group of shareholders seeking to hold TEPCO accountable for the nuclear disaster uncovered a 2008 document where TEPCO admits the tsunami risk and that something must be done. Somehow after that 2008 report was discussed by TEPCO executives they managed to bury the document and do nothing to prevent what happened in 2011.

In a recent Mainichi interview, new details of the chaotic evacuations during the nuclear disaster were revealed. Officials raised the contamination level where they would attempt to decontaminate someone from 13,000 CPM to 100,000 CPM. All parties acknowledged that removing people from the unsafe areas was a larger priority than decontaminating them.

Sources :

Fukushima finds 16 new cases of thyroid cancer in young people

Fukushima Thyroid Examination May 2015: 103 Thyroid Cancer Cases Confirmed, 5 in the Second-Round Screening

EDITORIAL: No more half-baked plans for decommissioning Fukushima reactors

Bags of contaminated soil damaged at storage sites

Govt. to allow businesses in evacuation zones

Document shows TEPCO recognized risk of huge tsunami at Fukushima plant in 2008

Protecting nuclear disaster evacuees from radiation still a concern

TEPCO finds problems with hoses at Daiichi plant

The operator of the disabled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant says most of the facility's other hoses like the one that developed a leak last month need repair or replacement.

The leak from a cracked hose in late May sent highly contaminated water into the plant's port, sending radioactivity in the seawater there to the highest level since observations began 2 years ago.

Plant operator Tokyo Electric Power Company believes the crack in the hose was caused by stress from excessive bending. It has checked 159 hoses of the same type at the site, and found that 139 -- or nearly 90 percent -- are also being used in an incorrect manner.

Some are similarly bent beyond the permissible level set by the maker, or have not been coated with material to protect them from damage.

TEPCO says all the hoses that need improvement carry relatively low-level radioactive water, including rainwater tainted at the site. The utility plans to speed up work to replace the hoses with a more durable type. It will also shorten the length of hoses used to carry contaminated water to reduce the risk of leakage. 

Source: NHK

Highway opens near Fukushima nuclear power plant

Japan Contaminated Food: Charges In Taiwan, Japan Asks China To Ease Restrictions

Two men have been charged in Taiwan related to the importing of banned foods from Japan. Authorities in Taiwan have asked Japan to investigate the crime on their end, so far they have received no response.

At the same time Japan is being uncooperative with Taiwan, they are asking China to ease food import restrictions. Japan recently took South Korea to the WTO in an attempt to force them to remove restrictions on suspect food imports. So far there has been no indication Japan intends to do the same to China.

The higher restrictions in place in China have created an additional problem for Japan. If they are able to comply with China’s stringent documentation requirements they have little ability to claim less onerous documentation rules in other countries are too difficult to meet. ipei Times

Taipei Times
South China Morning Post

Monday, 22 June 2015

Japan asks China to ease food import restrictions introduced after Fukushima nuclear disaster

China banned imports of food produced in 10 prefectures in Japan including Miyagi, Nagano and Fukushima following the crisis


A Japanese farm ministry official met a senior Chinese official in charge of food inspection on Friday to request the easing of restrictions on food imports introduced after the Fukushima nuclear disaster in 2011, sources said.
A director general at the Japanese Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries used the meeting in Beijing to stress the safety of Japanese food, the sources said.
China banned imports of food produced in 10 prefectures in Japan including Miyagi, Nagano and Fukushima following the nuclear crisis.
The beginning of such talks reflects an improvement in relations between the two biggest Asian economies.
Ties had deteriorated after the Japanese government bought a major part of the Japanese-administered Diaoyu Islands - known as Senkaku in Japan - in the East China Sea, from a private Japanese owner in 2012. The islands are claimed by China.
Both countries' leaders have met twice since November, indicating a thaw in their tense relations.
The sale and use of Japanese food products has dropped sharply at department stores, supermarkets and restaurants in China since the import ban went into effect.
But potential demand remains strong for such products.
The two countries are expected to set up another meeting of higher-ranking officials.
In another development, Beijing is set to hold a press conference on the arrangements for a grand military parade to commemorate the 70th anniversary of the end of second world war, another grievance between the two nations.
Qu Rui, deputy director of the Military Parade Leading Group, is scheduled to attend the press conference.
The parade, to be held in September, is seen as an attempt by Beijing to exert pressure on Japan over wartime disputes.
But Beijing has said the parade is not targeted at any particular country.
China has said it will invite leaders of other nations to attend the parade.
Russian President Vladimir Putin is expected to be a guest, but it is not known if Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe will be invited.
Source: South China Morning Post

TEPCO investigating water leak at Fukushima plant

Officials in charge of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant say around 20 liters of highly radioactive water leaked from equipment used to treat tainted rainwater. But they say the incident poses no danger to the outside environment.

Tokyo Electric Power Company officials say the leak came to light when an alarm went off around 9 AM on Saturday. Workers found water was coming out of a joint in a pipe.

TEPCO says all of the water fell into a receptacle below the equipment.

The utility says the water contained about 24,000 becquerels per liter of beta-ray emitting substances, a very high amount.

TEPCO officials say a valve that should have been open was closed, and they believe this raised pressure in the pipes and caused the leak.

The utility is investigating to see if there was any error on the part of workers.

Source: NHK

Protecting nuclear disaster evacuees from radiation still a concern

As prefectures and municipalities that host or border nuclear plants upgrade their regional disaster prevention plans based on the nuclear disaster response guidelines for citizen evacuation protocols announced by the Nuclear Regulation Authority (NRA) in April, the problem of how to measure and prevent radiation exposure among evacuees continues to loom large.

"Reactor No. 1 (at the Fukushima No. 1 Nuclear Power Plant) had exploded, and the inside of the offsite center (which was established as the disaster response base of operations within Fukushima Prefecture) also had high radiation levels. The figures for the screenings we were conducting into whether or not residents had been exposed to radiation were raised immediately afterward."

So recalls Tsuyoshi Ebine, 62, chief councilor in charge of nuclear power measures with the Nagasaki Prefectural Government. He was working for the secretariat of the Cabinet Office's Nuclear Safety Commission at the time the nuclear accident occurred, and headed shortly thereafter to the town of Okuma in Fukushima Prefecture to begin engaging in disaster response measures at the offsite center amidst the unfolding chaos.

According to the Fukushima Prefectural Government and other bodies, standards that were in place prior to the nuclear accident held that decontamination procedures should be performed on anyone for whom radiation levels measured near the skin stood above 13,000 counts per minute (cpm). In the case of a one year-old child who had inhaled radioactive substances, this would be equivalent to the thyroid gland being exposed to 100 millisieverts of radiation. (The permissible level of radiation exposure for the average adult is one millisievert per year.)

Following the hydrogen explosion at the No. 1 reactor at the Fukushima plant, however, which took place on March 12, 2011 -- dispersing enormous amounts of radioactive materials -- screening centers for local evacuees were thrown into a state of total confusion. Escaping to safety became the top priority, and acceptable levels of radiation exposure were raised tenfold to some 100,000 cpm. Readings exceeded this level for a total of 102 residents -- a figure, moreover, that represented only those cases that were recorded.

According to the NRA's proposed measures for dealing with nuclear power disasters, the radiation exposure level at which decontamination is to take place is set at above 40,000 cpm for screenings conducted within one month following a nuclear accident.

"For residents, the objective is evacuation -- and speed is top priority," comments Shinichi Araki, who heads the department of nuclear emergency response and radioactive material protection at the NRA's secretariat office. "Here, we are applying the lessons learned from the experience of evacuations following the nuclear accident in Fukushima."

A manual was additionally compiled outlining guidelines for conducting examinations of residents leaving specific areas following exposure to radiation. Hair and shoes are identified in the manual as areas where such exposure generally occurs, and it is explained that if a water source is available, hair should be washed -- and clothing should additionally be changed -- in order to help bring radiation levels down. If subsequent testing reveals a figure below 40,000 cpm, the guidelines continue, the individual can then proceed to evacuate.

In cases whereby residents evacuate knowing that they have already been exposed to radiation, however, alleviating their concerns is difficult.

"I hope that trainings can be conducted in order to avoid the type of chaos that we saw following the Fukushima nuclear accident," comments Araki. "The next step we must take is to allay the fears that exist among residents who have faced radiation exposure."

Nagasaki Prefecture, where radiation exposure has been experienced from the atomic bombing, has been rapidly implementing measures for dealing with potential nuclear power accidents -- with four of its cities lying within a 30-kilometer radius of the Kyushu Electric Power Company's Genkai Nuclear Power Plant.

The prefecture revised its regional disaster prevention plan in June 2012, prior to the national government announcing its future disaster policy guidelines. Provisions were made within the prefectural supplementary budget for radiation-blocking stable iodine tablets, and revisions were made to its emergency radiation exposure medical manual the following year in 2013, including efforts such as increasing the number of medical facilities specializing in early-stage radiation exposure from two to at least three.

Still, however, Ebine comments, "Radiation prevention measures are lagging behind." The number of medical team specialists remains insufficient, and plans are not in place for evacuations at social welfare facilities or other establishments of a similar nature.

"If there were to be an accident at the Genkai Nuclear Power Plant that resulted in residents being exposed to more than 40,000 cpm of radiation, it would not be enough to do as the government advises -- which is to simply undertake decontamination until the figure falls below the target level," Ebine adds. "It is preferable to continue decontaminating until the lowest possible radiation exposure levels are reached -- but no (government) standards are in place in terms of the purpose and methods in this regard."

The medical manual for radiation exposure that was put together by Nagasaki Prefecture includes information regarding concrete methods for decontamination, such as using moist towelettes to wipe away radioactive substances.

"Nagasaki Prefecture has experience with the eruption of the Fugen-dake peak of the Unzen volcano, and we also sent our employees to Fukushima Prefecture following the nuclear accident there," notes Shinichi Yoshida, director of the prefecture's crisis management department. "In addition, we have a framework in place based upon research conducted at Nagasaki University with respect to our history with the atomic bombing."

"Following the Fukushima nuclear disaster, decontamination had to be undertaken with no available water source -- and nobody there knew what was going on," Yoshida added. "We must be ready for any possible contingency -- and we have no choice but to make efforts to educate as many residents as possible about the realities of radiation."

Source: Mainichi

Japan, China to discuss food ban

BEIJING — The Japanese and Chinese governments have agreed to hold negotiations aimed at easing China’s restrictions on imports of Japanese foodstuffs, measures put in place following the outbreak of a nuclear crisis at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant.

The relevant bureau directors general from both sides met in Beijing on Friday, it has been learned. The event marked the first such talks since the crisis began and a move toward compromise by China.

A bureau director general of the Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Ministry participated in the Friday meeting, as did China’s director general in charge of food inspections. The Japan side said it thoroughly supervised agricultural products and urged China to ease its restrictions, saying Japanese agricultural products are safe and that resolving the issue of import restrictions would contribute to the development of both nations.

China agreed to continue talks on the subject.

In addition to banning the imports of foodstuffs from 10 prefectures, including Fukushima, China requires the submission of a “radiation inspection certifi-cate” for the import of certain items from the other 37 prefectures, such as vegetables, fruit, dairy products and tea leaves.

Because the form of this certificate has not been decided, however, imports have been effectively halted.

About 50 countries and regions had curbed imports of Japanese foodstuffs at one point in the wake of the nuclear crisis. But 13 countries have lifted such rules entirely, and the trend toward easing restrictions is growing.

Source: Yomiuri

1,000,000 Bq/m3 of Sr-90 detected in seawater of Fukushima plant port / Highest in recorded history

On 6/19/2015, Tepco announced they measured 1,000,000 Bq/m3 of Strontium-90 at two locations in Fukushima plant port.
This is the highest reading in recorded history. The sample is the port seawater. Sampling date was 5/4/2015.
The location was near the water intake of Reactor 3 and 4, and also the screen of Reactor 4.
The previous highest readings were lower than 700,000 Bq/m3.
Tepco has not made any announcement on this rapid increase.
Source: Fukushima Daiichi

Radioactive cesium levels in Fukushima river seasonal: study

Radioactive cesium contamination levels in a river near the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant rise in the spring and fall in the autumn, a new study shows.

The researchers believe the rise is attributable to very large numbers of leaves containing radioactive substances falling into rivers in the spring. In one year, the radioactive cesium level in the river in springtime was up to five times that in autumn.

Hirokazu Ozaki, research team leader and assistant professor at Tokyo University of Agriculture and Technology, said, "There is a possibility that radioactive substances are concentrated in the bodies of fish through the food chain, so it's important to grasp what's happening in the rivers. This study is unprecedented, and we'd like to continue."

A group of Tokyo University of Agriculture and Technology researchers analyzed sediment samples taken at 35 locations along the middle reaches of the Abukuma River in Fukushima Prefecture, 40-50 kilometers from the atomic power station, in spring and autumn from 2012 to 2014.

The average density of radioactive cesium-137 per kilogram of sediment was 1,450 becquerels in spring 2012, 1,270 becquerels in autumn 2012, 2,700 becquerels in spring 2013, 451 becquerels in autumn 2013, 1,080 becquerels in spring 2014 and 600 becquerels in autumn 2014.

The highest level was 22,800 becquerels at one location in spring 2013, and there is a wide variation from location to location.

According to researchers, fallen leaves and carcasses of animals containing concentrated radioactive materials fall into the river in spring, increasing the amount of radioactive cesium in the river. Then the rainy season from June to mid-July, along with the typhoons that tend to strike during summer and early autumn, causes the amount of water in the river to surge, sweeping sediment to the river's lower reaches and decreasing cesium levels in the fall, they say.

Source: Mainichi

The highest density of all β nuclide detected outside of Fukushima plant port

On 6/17/2015, Tepco announced they measured the highest density of all β nuclide (including Sr-90) in seawater outside of Fukushima plant port.
The sampling date was 6/15/2015. The density was 16,000 – 24,000 Bq/m3.
The sampling locations were the North-East, East, and South-East of the exit of the port. Especially in the South-East of the port exit, all β nuclide had always been under detectable level until this time.
The distance of these sampling locations and the port exit is not announced.
The Strontium-90 density has not been reported either.
Source: Fukushima Diary

Internal TEPCO document reveals executives knew beefing up tsunami defenses was “indispensable”

Tokyo Electric, the operator of the crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, has released a document during a lawsuit brought by over 40 shareholders which reveals the utilities acknowledgment that tsunami defenses at the plant were not adequate.
The internal document from 2008 noted that TEPCO executives had agreed that it would be “indispensable” to further build up coastal defenses for the plant in order to protect against a tsunami larger than had previously been recorded.
The utility has asserted that it could not have foreseen a tsunami of the size or magnitude that hit the plant in March 2011, that it had done everything it could to protect the nuclear power plant, took every available precaution against a tsunami, and has used that defense to protect itself from litigation.
This positioning by TEPCO has allowed the utility to argue that it is not responsible for the triple meltdown, but the internal document casts a definitive shadow over that claim.
Insiders from the nuclear industry in Japan have come forward since 2011 and claimed that TEPCO and the federal regulators ignored warnings of larger-than-expected tsunami in northern Japan for years.  By ignoring these warnings, TEPCO delayed implementing countermeasures, including but not limited to increasing the height of protective wave barriers or removing the critical emergency backup diesel generators from the basements of the reactor buildings to higher ground.

In 2004, Kunihiko Shimazaki, a former professor of seismology of the University of Tokyo, warned that the coast of Fukushima could experience tsunamis more than double the estimates of federal regulators and TEPCO.  His assertions were dismissed as “too speculative” and “pending further research.”
At a nuclear engineering conference in Miami in July 2007, Tokyo Electric researchers led by Toshiaki Sakai presented a paper which concluded that there was a 10% chance that a tsunami could test or overwhelm the defense at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant in the next 50 years.
Engineers from TEPCO confirmed Shimazaki’s concerns in 2008, when they produced three unique sets of calculations that revealed tsunami waves up to 50 feet tall could hit the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant.  The utility sat on the information for nearly a year before handing it over to federal regulators and didn’t reveal the 50-foot wave calculation until March 7th, 2011, but by then it was too late.
In hindsight, it can now be seen that TEPCO scientists realized by at latest 2004 that it was indeed quite probable that a giant tsunami could overcome the defenses at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant — defenses which were based on engineering assumptions that dated back to the plant’s design in the 1960s.
In the weeks following the nuclear disaster in 2011, former Japanese Prime Minister Naoto Kan pointed out the weaknesses in TEPCO’s tsunami defense concisely when he told the Japanese Parliament “It’s undeniable their (Tokyo Electric’s) assumptions about tsunamis were greatly mistaken.  The fact that their standards were too low invited the current situation.”
Source: Enformable

Fukushima Fallout: Bird Mutation, Possible Tokyo Evacuation?

The real picture of the seriousness of the Fukushima nuclear disaster in Japan is being covered up by governments and corporations putting people's lives further at risk.
Fukushima will most probably go down in history as the biggest cover-up of the 21st Century as citizens are not being informed about the actual risks and dangers. The real picture of the seriousness of the situation is being covered up by governments and corporations, according to Robert Hunziker, an environmental journalist.
Tens of thousands of Fukushima residents fled the area after the horrific disaster of March 2011. Some areas on the peripheries of Fukushima have reopened to former residents, but many people are hesitant to return home because of widespread distrust of government claims that it is safe.
One reason for such reluctance has to do with the symptoms of radiation. It is sinister because it cannot be detected by human senses. People are not biologically capable of sensing its effects, according to Dr. Helen Caldicott, as reported by Global Research.
She further added that radiation slowly accumulates over time without showing effects until it is too late.
It was reported by Ben Mirin that bird species around Fukushima are in sharp decline, and it is getting worse over time. Some of the developmental abnormalities of birds include cataracts, tumors, and asymmetries. Birds were spotted with strange white patches on their feathers, Smithsonian reported.
Dr. Helen Caldicott, co-founder of Physicians for Social Responsibility, writes that Fukushima is literally a time bomb in dormancy and right now the situation is totally out of control.
According to Dr. Caldicott, “It’s still possible that Tokyo may have to be evacuated, depending upon how things go.”
The highest radiation detected in the Tokyo Metro area was in Saitama with cesium radiation levels detected at 919,000 Becquerel (Bq) per square meter, a level almost twice as high as Chernobyl’s ‘permanent dead zone evacuation limit of 500,000 Bq’, media reported.
Furthermore, there have been quite a few accidents and problems at the Fukushima plant in the past year causing anxiety and anger among residents there. Earlier it was reported that TEPCO is struggling with an enormous amount of contaminated water which continues to leak into the surrounding soil and sea. But despite the severity of the Fukushima disaster, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton signed an agreement with Japan that the US would continue importing Japanese foodstuff. Therefore, Dr. Caldicott suggests that people not vote for Hillary Clinton.
“The US government has come up with a decision at the highest levels of the State Department, as well as other departments who made a decision to downplay Fukushima. In April, the month after the powerful tsunami and earthquake crippled Japan including its nuclear power plant, Hillary Clinton signed a pact with Japan that stated there is no problem with the Japanese food supply and we will continue to buy it. So, we are not sampling food coming in from Japan,” Arnie Gundersen, energy advisor told Global Research.
However, unlike the United States, Germany is shutting down all nuclear reactors because of Fukushima. In comparison to the horrible Chernobyl accident, which involved only one reactor, Fukushima has a minimum of three reactors that are emitting dangerous radiation.

News coverage of Fukushima disaster minimized health risks to general population

Date: March 11, 2015
Source: American University
Summary: A new analysis finds that U.S. news media coverage of the Fukushima disaster largely minimized health risks to the general population. Researchers analyzed more than 2,000 news articles from four major U.S. outlets. 

Four years after the 2011 Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster, the disaster no longer dominates U.S. news headlines, though the disabled plant continues to pour three tons of radioactive water into the ocean each day. Homes, schools and businesses in the Japanese prefecture are uninhabitable, and will likely be so forever. Yet the U.S. media has dropped the story while public risks remain.
A new analysis by American University sociology professor Celine Marie Pascale finds that U.S. news media coverage of the disaster largely minimized health risks to the general population. Pascale analyzed more than 2,000 news articles from four major U.S. outlets following the disaster's occurrence March 11, 2011 through the second anniversary on March 11, 2013. Only 6 percent of the coverage -- 129 articles -- focused on health risks to the public in Japan or elsewhere. Human risks were framed, instead, in terms of workers in the disabled nuclear plant.
Disproportionate access
"It's shocking to see how few articles discussed risk to the general population, and when they did, they typically characterized risk as low," said Pascale, who studies the social construction of risk and meanings of risk in the 21st century. "We see articles in prestigious news outlets claiming that radioactivity from cosmic rays and rocks is more dangerous than the radiation emanating from the collapsing Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant."
Pascale studied news articles, editorials, and letters from two newspapers, The Washington Post and The New York Times, and two nationally prominent online news sites, Politico and The Huffington Post. These four media outlets are not only among the most prominent in the United States, they are also among the most cited by television news and talk shows, by other newspapers and blogs and are often taken up in social media, Pascale said. In this sense, she added, understanding how risk is constructed in media gives insight into how national concerns and conversations get framed.
Pascale's analysis identified three primary ways in which the news outlets minimized the risk posed by radioactive contamination to the general population. Articles made comparisons to mundane, low-level forms of radiation;defined the risks as unknowable, given the lack of long-term studies; and largely excluded concerns expressed by experts and residents who challenged the dominant narrative.
The research shows that corporations and government agencies had disproportionate access to framing the event in the media, Pascale says. Even years after the disaster, government and corporate spokespersons constituted the majority of voices published. News accounts about local impact -- for example, parents organizing to protect their children from radiation in school lunches -- were also scarce.
Globalization of risk
Pascale says her findings show the need for the public to be critical consumers of news; expert knowledge can be used to create misinformation and uncertainty -- especially in the information vacuums that arise during disasters.
"The mainstream media -- in print and online -- did little to report on health risks to the general population or to challenge the narratives of public officials and their experts," Pascale said. "Discourses of the risks surrounding disasters are political struggles to control the presence and meaning of events and their consequences. How knowledge about disasters is reported can have more to do with relations of power than it does with the material consequences to people's lives."
While it is clear that the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear meltdown was a consequence of an earthquake and tsunami, like all disasters, it was also the result of political, economic and social choices that created or exacerbated broad-scale risks. In the 21st century, there's an increasing "globalization of risk," Pascale argues. Major disasters have potentially large-scale and long-term consequences for people, environments, and economies.
"People's understanding of disasters will continue to be constructed by media. How media members frame the presence of risk and the nature of disaster matters," she said.

Thursday, 18 June 2015

Japanese imports lead to charges

Two business executives on Tuesday were charged with illegally importing and falsely labeling food from areas of Japan affected by its 2011 nuclear disaster.
Each a manager of a local food importer, they are accused of importing snacks and soy sauce to Taiwan from the affected areas.
Authorities said one has done so since last year, while the other began the imports this year.
Neither reported their imports to the Food and Drug Administration or Keelung Customs officials, as legally required, authorities added.
Prosecutors said the defendants knew that they were not allowed to import food products from Japan’s Fukushima, Ibaraki, Tochigi, Gunma and Chiba prefectures, and intentionally hid the origin of their products from downstream firms.
Food products from those prefectures have been banned in Taiwan since the areas are suspected of radiation contamination as a result of a meltdown at the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant in March 2011 after an earthquake and tsunami on March 11.
In March this year, authorities found that products from the five restricted areas had made their way into Taiwan under false labels.
The two managers, surnamed Teng (鄧) and Cho (卓), were charged with falsifying documents and making profits by false pretenses respectively, prosecutors said.
As for potential Japanese accomplices, prosecutors said that they have asked Japan to assist the investigation, but have not yet received a reply.
Prosecutors called on Japan to assist with the investigation to jointly protect customers’ food safety.
Source: Taipei Times