Angry Miyagi residents block gov’t survey of candidate nuclear waste disposal site — The Mainichi

” KAMI, Miyagi — Local residents here blocked an attempt by Environment Ministry officials on Aug. 28 to inspect a candidate site for the disposal of waste contaminated with radioactive substances that have leaked from the crippled Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant.

The ministry was unable to begin surveys on three candidate sites in the Miyagi Prefecture municipalities of Kami, Kurihara and Taiwa as of 1 p.m. because the Kurihara and Taiwa municipal governments had agreed to accept surveys on condition that the ministry simultaneously launch them in all three municipalities.

The ministry aims to complete its drilling surveys on the three sites before winter snowfalls, and hopes to select a site from among the three candidates by the end of the current fiscal year.

The Environment Ministry had notified the three municipalities on Aug. 27 that it would launch surveys at the three candidate sites.

In Kami, Mayor Hirofumi Inomata, municipal government officials, as well as about 200 people including members of an association of 50 groups opposing the construction of the disposal facility, gathered on a road leading to the site in the Tashirodake district of Kami at around 6 a.m., and blocked the street with a banner expressing opposition to the project.

At around 8 a.m., 16 Environment Ministry officials arrived at the scene to conduct a survey — the first since October 2014 — only to be met by protesters.

The ministry officials confronted the mayor as protesters raised their voices expressing stiff opposition to the construction plan.

“We’d like to go ahead with the survey as planned,” a ministry official said.

“This area doesn’t meet the requirements for a candidate site,” the mayor responded.

About 20 minutes later, ministry officials withdrew from the scene, but one of them said the ministry was determined to go ahead with the survey.

“We must ensure that specified waste is disposed of in a stable manner as early as possible,” the official said.

Fukutsugu Takahashi, leader of the anti-disposal site association, which includes a local agricultural cooperative, criticized the construction plan.

“It’s wrong to bring materials contaminated by the nuclear power plant to a beautiful mountain like this,” he said.

As of the end of June, some 3,404 metric tons of rice straw, sludge and other waste containing cesium with a level of radioactivity topping 8,000 becquerels per kilogram — designated under a special measures law as specified waste — is being stored at 39 locations in nine municipalities in Miyagi Prefecture, according to the ministry. A disposal facility that the ministry is planning to build would store such waste. ”

source

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Fishermen OK Tepco plan to dump water from wrecked Fukushima nuclear plant into sea — The Japan Times

” FUKUSHIMA – Fishermen in Fukushima Prefecture on Tuesday approved a plan by Tokyo Electric Power Co. to take contaminated groundwater that’s continuously flowing into the wrecked Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant and dump it into the ocean after removing most of the radioactive materials from it.

Tepco hopes the measure will curb the amount of toxic water that’s building up at the complex. Local fishermen had long opposed the plan amid concern it would pollute the ocean and contaminate marine life.

“I don’t know if it’s acceptable for all fishery operators, but stable work of decommissioning (of the Fukushima plant) is necessary for the revival of Fukushima’s fishery industry,” Tetsu Nozaki, chairman of the Fukushima Prefectural Federation of Fisheries Co-operative Associations, told reporters after a board meeting.

He also called on Tepco to ensure it will only discharge water that does not contain radioactive materials exceeding the legally allowed limit.

The amount of toxic water is piling up every day. Tainted groundwater is seeping into the reactor buildings and mixing with radioactive water generated through cooling the reactors, which suffered meltdowns following the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami.

By pumping up water through drainage wells and dumping it into the ocean after treating it, Tepco said it will be able to halve some 300 tons of contaminated water that’s being generated each day.

In exchange for approving the plan, the Fukushima fisherman’s association on Aug. 11 demanded among other things that the government and Tepco continue paying the fishermen compensation for as long as the nuclear plant damages their business.

On Tuesday, the National Federation of Fisheries Co-operative Associations also gave the green light to releasing the treated water into the sea.

Tepco has been struggling to deal with the toxic water that has been building up at the plant since 2011, with radiation leaks into the environment still occurring regularly at the Fukushima complex.

The company is also behind schedule on a project to build a huge underground ice wall, another measure Tepco hopes will prevent radioactive water from increasing further at the site. ”

source

Updated 8/25/2015: Seawater leak found at Sendai nuclear plant — NHK World; Japan’s Sendai reactor power ramp-up halted due to pump problem — Yahoo! News

Updated Aug. 25, 2015, NHK World:

” The operator of the Sendai nuclear power plant in Kagoshima Prefecture, southwestern Japan, says it found seawater used to cool steam has leaked from some pipes.

The trouble occurred at a condenser for the plant’s No.1 reactor last Thursday. Officials at Kyushu Electric Power Company found elevated salt levels in the machine.

The condenser uses seawater to turn the steam from the power turbine back into water. The reactor has 3 condensers, and each one is equipped with 26,000 thin pipes to carry seawater.

Utility officials have been checking these pipes. They say they found cracks in 5 pipes in one condenser and that seawater had leaked from them.

The officials stopped the flow of seawater by putting plugs in the 5 pipes. They are now checking the other tubes. The utility firm says they will keep running the reactor.

The trouble occurred 9 days after the operator restarted the reactor on August 11th. It was the first to go back online under new regulations introduced after the Fukushima nuclear accident in 2011.

The utility was due to raise the reactor’s power output to 100 percent on Tuesday. But the problems are expected to delay the scheduled work by about one week. ”

source

* * *

Posted Aug. 24, 2015, Yahoo! News:

” TOKYO (Reuters) – Japan’s Kyushu Electric Power has halted the ramp-up of power output from its Sendai No. 1 nuclear reactor due to a problem with a pump in the plant’s secondary cooling system, a spokesman said on Friday.

Kyushu Electric last week began the restart of the Sendai plant, the first of Japan’s reactors to begin operation under new safety standards introduced in the wake of the Fukushima disaster in 2011.

Engineers and regulators have warned that the utility may encounter equipment problems and failures as the Sendai No. 1 reactor has been idled for more than four years.

The utility suspects that seawater has entered one of the pumps in the secondary cooling system, where steam that turns the turbines to produce electricity is cooled, according to the spokesman.

Kyushu Electric had planned to raise output from the reactor to 95 percent by Friday, but delayed the process.

It had planned to achieve full power by Aug. 25 and begin commercial operation in early September after a final check from the atomic regulator.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, a strong proponent of nuclear power, is seeking to reassure a nervous public that the industry is now safe.

Abe and much of Japanese industry want reactors to be switched on again to cut fuel bills, but opinion polls show a majority of the public oppose the move after the nuclear crisis triggered by the earthquake and tsunami four years ago. ”

source

Updated 8/24/2015: Volcano issues unaddressed in nuclear plant restart; Japan raises warning level on volcano 50 km from just-restarted nuclear plant — The Japan Times

Updated Aug. 24, 2015, The Japan Times:

” Japan has seen its first nuclear power reactor restart in more than two years despite persisting safety issues related to volcanic eruptions.

The No. 1 reactor at Kyushu Electric Power Co.’s Sendai nuclear power plant in Kagoshima Prefecture came back online on Tuesday.

But the utility has not designated a site for relocating nuclear fuel in the event of a massive volcanic eruption, claiming that warning signs would give Kepco enough time to prepare and transfer the fuel.

The utility and the Nuclear Regulation Authority have also decided there is little chance of a major volcanic eruption in the next several decades.

In the event of a major eruption, however, pyroclastic flows could reach the plant and disable cooling functions for its reactors and spent fuel, which could trigger massive radioactive emissions.

There are five major calderas around the Sendai plant, suggesting that massive eruptions have occurred there.

The plant currently stores 1,946 fuel assemblies in spent fuel pools. The sheer volume makes it hard to find a relocation site big enough to take them.

A panel of volcano experts advising the NRA has compiled a report indicating that there are currently no technologies that can precisely predict the timing and scale of a major eruption.

Toshitsugu Fujii, a member of the panel and chairman of the Meteorological Agency’s Coordinating Committee for Prediction of Volcanic Eruptions, has said that the panel’s opinion is not necessarily consistent with that of the NRA.

According to experts, the commonly held view is that it is impossible to predict a major eruption from warning signs because such eruptions occur only once every 10,000 years in Japan, so the data are scant.

The panel has proposed launching an advisory organization to the NRA to help deal with volcanic eruption forecasting. Due to time constraints, however, the launch of the organization is expected to be in September at the earliest.

The panel has also pointed out that the NRA should set standards for judgments on whether an impending eruption would be huge, but the time-line for setting such criteria is undecided.

Evacuation-plan worries

Two hospitals and 15 welfare facilities for elderly people within 10 km of the Sendai plant should have evacuation plans in the event that a serious nuclear accident occurs. However, concerns remain.

The prefectural government initially asked welfare facilities within 30 km of the plant to draw up evacuation plans in line with a central government policy. But it later changed course. Kagoshima Gov. Yuichiro Ito insisted that it would be enough if evacuation plans within 10 km are in place and that those beyond that would be unworkable.

The Otama-san no Ie elderly group home, the welfare facility closest to the nuclear plant — about 1 km south of the plant’s main gate — included an evacuation destination beyond 30 km of the plant and four routes to it in its plans.

“This is supplementary to local governments’ evacuation plans,” said Keiji Miyauchi, general manager of the group home.

Under the group home’s evacuation plans, residents will be first taken to a nearby shelter built by the Satsumasendai city government. The shelter, equipped with a filtered venting system that can block radioactive materials, has four days’ worth of water and food.

But Miyauchi said: “The group home has only a staff of two during the night shift. It would be difficult to take 18 elderly residents, some of whom are in wheelchairs, to the shelter.”

Miyauchi is also concerned about the evacuation routes. “Roads would be congested because they are narrow,” he said. “Some roads may be destroyed and made inaccessible if an earthquake occurs.”

Broad evacuation plans are available but details cannot be fixed, said an official at another elderly facility within 10 km of the nuclear plant. “Needs among elderly people change depending on the season,” the official said.

The facility has an evacuation agreement in place for an elderly home located beyond 30 km from the nuclear plant to accept its residents. But how to care for these evacuees remains uncertain.

“A facility alone can’t determine what to do after evacuations, and this is a matter that needs to be decided by the central or prefectural government,” the official said. ”

source

Also read The Japan Times’ article, “Volcanic activity slows at Sakurajima but alert remains in force

* * *

Posted Aug. 17, 2015, The Japan Times:

” The Meteorological Agency said Saturday that Mount Sakurajima in Kagoshima Prefecture, 50 km from a just-restarted nuclear plant, is showing signs of increased volcanic activity and that nearby residents should prepare to evacuate.

In line with the move, the Kagoshima municipal government issued an evacuation advisory to the residents of three districts on the island where the volcano is located.

Sakurajima is one of Japan’s most active volcanoes and erupts almost constantly. But a larger than usual eruption could be in the offing, an official at the weather agency said.

“There is the danger that stones could rain down on areas near the mountain’s base, so we are warning residents of those areas to be ready to evacuate if needed,” the official added.

The agency also said it had raised the warning level on the peak, 990 km southwest of Tokyo, to an unprecedented 4, for prepare to evacuate, from 3.

Japan on Tuesday restarted a reactor at the Sendai nuclear plant, some 50 km from Sakurajima. It is the first reactor to be restarted under new safety standards put in place after the 2011 Fukushima disaster.

Critics have long pointed out that the plant is also located near five giant calderas, crater-like depressions formed by past eruptions, with the closest one some 40 km away.

Still, the Nuclear Regulation Authority has said the chance of major volcanic activity during the life span of the Sendai plant is negligible.

Two years ago, Sakurajima shot ash some 5,000 meters into the air.

Japan lies on the “Ring of Fire” — a horseshoe-shaped band of fault lines and volcanoes around the edges of the Pacific Ocean — and is home to more than 100 active volcanoes.

Last year, Mount Ontake in central Japan erupted unexpectedly, killing 63, the worst volcanic disaster for nearly 90 years. In May, a remote island south of Kyushu was evacuated due to another eruption. ”

source

Proving negligence in Tepco case daunting — The Yomiuri Shimbun

” On July 31, the Tokyo No. 5 Committee for the Inquest of Prosecution announced its decision that former Tokyo Electric Power Co. Chairman Tsunehisa Katsumata, 75, and two other former company executives “should be indicted” in connection with the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant disaster.

In this case the “will of the people” has spoken to counter the prosecutor’s decision not to indict, but proving culpable negligence in an accident associated with a natural disaster will be difficult. The prosecution’s designated lawyer is expected to face an uphill battle to convict the three men.

Concrete recognition

“The decision clearly states that [TEPCO] should’ve been able to foresee the onslaught of the tsunami,” said Hiroyuki Kawai, lawyer for the Complainants for the Criminal Prosecution of the Fukushima Nuclear Disaster, at a press conference held in Tokyo following the decision to indict. “The prospects for the trial are bright.”

The inquest committee and the prosecution, however, are far apart over whether the three individuals accused could “foresee” the likelihood of a massive tsunami and the ensuing disaster.

In 2008, TEPCO published the results of preliminary calculations that predicted a maximum credible tsunami of 15.7 meters based on a long-term assessment by the government’s Headquarters for Earthquake Research Promotion.

The Tokyo District Public Prosecutors Office concluded that establishing “foreseeability” meant more concrete evidence was needed beyond a vague foreboding of danger or anxiety, deemed that TEPCO’s preliminary tsunami reports couldn’t be regarded as having the scholarly persuasiveness necessary and denied foreseeability on the part of the company’s former officers and others.

The inquest committee, made up of 11 members of the public, responded that “it is sufficient that there must be foreseeability given the fact that a tsunami occurred and some sort of response was required.”

The committee stressed that the three individuals accused had a duty to exercise a high degree of care to prevent accidents since they all held positions of responsibility, and that the maximum credible tsunami report “absolutely could not be ignored.”

‘A certain extent’

Nevertheless, a big hurdle must be cleared to prove criminal responsibility for negligence when accidents occur.

“Jurists and the general public look at foreseeability and the duty to exercise care differently,” one veteran judge noted. “Proving foreseeability could be difficult to prove on the basis of preliminary tsunami calculations.”

In the JR Fukuchiyama Line derailment accident in Amagasaki, Hyogo Prefecture, three successive presidents of West Japan Railway Co. were subjected to mandatory indictment on a charge of corporate manslaughter.

The inquest committee for the case, which is currently under appeal, said, “Even in the most basic civic sense, stringent safety measures should obviously be taken as quickly as possible.”

Yet at the trial and the first appeal, the court ruled the three were not guilty as the three successive presidents could not have foreseen the accident.

The Fukushima nuclear disaster was caused by a natural phenomenon that would have been difficult to predict, making the charge even more of a challenge to prove.

“The purpose of criminal law is to pursue the responsibility of individuals,” said Tokai University Prof. Yoshihiko Ikeda, who specializes in criminal-negligence theory. “In terms of large-scale accidents related to disasters, senior management can be held responsible for negligence only to a certain extent.”

Choice of words

Now that a decision to indict has been made, the Tokyo District Court chose Friday three designated lawyers for the prosecution who will carry out supplementary investigations. The three accused might be subjected to mandatory indictment by the end of the year at the earliest.

All eyes are on what TEPCO’s former executives will say in court regarding the unprecedented accident.

Lawyer Motoharu Furukawa, a former prosecutor and author of books like “Fukushima gempatsu, sabakarenai de ii no ka” (Is it right to not take the Fukushima nuclear power plant to court?), published by Asahi Shimbun Publications Inc., says: “It’s of great importance that this be delved into publicly in court. It may even lead to a rethinking of nuclear power safety policy.”

Why did a major disaster that led to reactor meltdowns take place? Was there no way the accident could have been prevented?

Aside from the question of criminal responsibility, Katsumata and his associates need to present the full truth in court.

Doubts over system

The mandatory-indictment system was instituted in May 2009 so the “will of the people” would be reflected in judgments over whether or not to indict, judgments that hitherto had been the sole preserve of prosecutors.

While there is praise for the fact that, with this system in mind, prosecutors have become more cautious in deciding not to indict, a string of cases that used mandatory indictment have nevertheless ended in acquittals, exposing certain problems in the system.

First of all, the mandatory indictment system provides no opportunity for those under inquest to present their side of the story.

The Law for the Inquest of Prosecution makes it mandatory for a prosecutor to present the case prior to any decision to indict, but the accused forced into a public trial through a mandatory indictment has no opportunity to contest the charges beforehand.

“Would it not be a good idea to consider hearing the side of those under indictment, even if just to maintain the fairness of the inquest?” said Yasuyuki Takai, a lawyer who was involved in designing the system.

Then there’s the fact that the role of “inquest assistant,” which gives legal advice to the inquest committee, is limited to a single individual. A lawyer is appointed as inquest assistant, who responds to queries from the committee members.

Yukio Yamashita, a lawyer who has experience as an inquest assistant, pointed out that for a single individual “explaining legal arguments to the general public is difficult.”

“For a truly adequate inquest multiple assistants would be necessary,” Yamashita said.

Another problematic point is how the designated lawyer bears an excessive burden.

Proving guilt in a case where the prosecution has chosen not to indict is difficult — the maximum compensation paid to a designated lawyer for a single trial or appeal is ¥1.2 million.

The Japan Federation of Bar Associations is said to be planning to submit an opinion calling for improvements to the mandatory-indictment system this year to the Supreme Court and the Justice Ministry.

The system must be revised if it is to live up to its original goal, it seems. ”

source

Fukushima: Thousands have already died, thousands more will die — Ian Fairlie via CounterPunch

” Official data from Fukushima show that nearly 2,000 people died from the effects of evacuations necessary to avoid high radiation exposures from the disaster.

The uprooting to unfamiliar areas, cutting of family ties, loss of social support networks, disruption, exhaustion, poor physical conditions and disorientation can and do result in many people, in particular older people, dying.

Increased suicide has occurred among younger and older people following the Fukushima evacuations, but the trends are unclear.

A Japanese Cabinet Office report stated that, between March 2011 and July 2014, 56 suicides in Fukushima Prefecture were linked to the nuclear accident. This should be taken as a minimum, rather than a maximum, figure.

Mental health consequences

It is necessary to include the mental health consequences of radiation exposures and evacuations. For example, Becky Martin has stated her PhD research at Southampton University in the UK shows that “the most significant impacts of radiation emergencies are often in our minds.”

She adds: “Imagine that you’ve been informed that your land, your water, the air that you have breathed may have been polluted by a deadly and invisible contaminant. Something with the capacity to take away your fertility, or affect your unborn children.

“Even the most resilient of us would be concerned … many thousands of radiation emergency survivors have subsequently gone on to develop Post-Trauma Stress Disorder (PTSD), depression, and anxiety disorders as a result of their experiences and the uncertainty surrounding their health.”

It is likely that these fears, anxieties, and stresses will act to magnify the effects of evacuations, resulting in even more old people dying or people committing suicide.

Such considerations should not be taken as arguments against evacuations, however. They are an important, life-saving strategy. But, as argued by Becky Martin,

“We need to provide greatly improved social support following resettlement and extensive long-term psychological care to all radiation emergency survivors, to improve their health outcomes and preserve their futures.”

Untoward pregnancy outcomes

Dr Alfred Körblein from Nuremburg in Germany recently noticed and reported on a 15% drop (statistically speaking, highly significant) in the numbers of live births in Fukushima Prefecture in December 2011, nine months after the accident.

This might point to higher rates of early spontaneous abortions. He also observed a (statistically significant) 20% increase in the infant mortality rate in 2012, relative to the long-term trend in Fukushima Prefecture plus six surrounding prefectures, which he attributes to the consumption of radioactive food:

“The fact that infant mortality peaks in May 2012, more than one year after the Fukushima accident, suggests that the increase is an effect of internal rather than external radiation exposure.

“In Germany [after the Chernobyl nuclear disaster] perinatal mortality peaks followed peaks of cesium burden in pregnant women with a time-lag of seven months. May 2012 minus seven months is October 2011, the end of the harvesting season. Thus, consumption of contaminated foodstuff during autumn 2011 could be an explanation for the excess of infant mortality in the Fukushima region in 2012.”

These are indicative rather than definitive findings and need to be verified by further studies. Unfortunately, such studies are notable by their absence.

Cancer and other late effects from radioactive fallout

Finally, we have to consider the longer term health effects of the radiation exposures from the radioactive fallouts after the four explosions and three meltdowns at Fukushima in March 2011. Large differences of view exist on this issue in Japan. These make it difficult for lay people and journalists to understand what the real situation is.

The Japanese Government, its advisors, and most radiation scientists in Japan (with some honourable exceptions) minimise the risks of radiation. The official widely-observed policy is that small amounts of radiation are harmless: scientifically speaking this is untenable.

For example, the Japanese Government is attempting to increase the public limit for radiation in Japan from 1 mSv to 20 mSv per year. Its scientists are trying to force the ICRP to accept this large increase. This is not only unscientific, it is also unconscionable.

Part of the reason for this policy is that radiation scientists in Japan (in the US, as well) appear unable or unwilling to accept the stochastic nature of low-level radiation effects. ‘Stochastic’ means an all-or-nothing response: you either get cancer etc or you don’t.

As you decrease the dose, the effects become less likely: your chance of cancer declines all the way down to zero dose. The corollary is that tiny doses, even well below background, still carry a small chance of cancer: there is never a safe dose, except zero dose.

But, as observed by Spycher et al (2015), some scientists “a priori exclude the possibility that low dose radiation could increase the risk of cancer. They will therefore not accept studies that challenge their foregone conclusion.”

One reason why such scientists refuse to accept radiation’s stochastic effects (cancers, strokes, CVS diseases, hereditary effects, etc) is that they only appear after long latency periods – often decades for solid cancers. For the Japanese Government and its radiation advisors, it seems out-of-sight means out-of-mind.

This conveniently allows the Japanese Government to ignore radiogenic late effects. But the evidence for them is absolutely rock solid. Ironically, it comes primarily from the world’s largest on-going epidemiology study, the Life Span Study of the Japanese atomic bomb survivors by the RERF Foundation which is based in Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

The lessons of Chernobyl

The mass of epidemiological evidence from the Chernobyl disaster in 1986 clearly indicates that cancer etc increases will very likely also occur at Fukushima, but many Japanese (and US) scientists deny this evidence.

For example, much debate currently exists over the existence and interpretation of increased thyroid cancers, cysts, and nodules in Fukushima Prefecture resulting from the disaster. From the findings after Chernobyl, thyroid cancers are expected to start increasing 4 to 5 years after 2011.

It’s best to withhold comment until clearer results become available in 2016, but early indications are not reassuring for the Japanese Government. After then, other solid cancers are expected to increase as well, but it will take a while for these to become manifest.

The best way of forecasting the numbers of late effects (ie cancers etc) is by estimating the collective dose to Japan from the Fukushima fall out. We do this by envisaging that everyone in Japan exposed to the radioactive fallout from Fukushima has thereby received lottery tickets: but they are negative tickets. That is, if your lottery number comes up, you get cancer [1].

If you live far away from Fukushima Daiichi NPP, you get few tickets and the chance is low: if you live close, you get more tickets and the chance is higher. You can’t tell who will be unlucky, but you can estimate the total number by using collective doses.

The 2013 UNSCEAR Report has estimated that the collective dose to the Japanese population from Fukushima is 48,000 person Sv: this is a very large dose: see below.

Unfortunately, pro-nuclear Japanese scientists also criticise the concept of collective dose as it relies on the stochastic nature of radiation’s effects and on the Linear No Threshold (LNT) model of radiation’s effects which they also refute. But almost all official regulatory bodies throughout the world recognise the stochastic nature of radiation’s effects, the LNT, and collective doses.

Summing up Fukushima

About 60 people died immediately during the actual evacuations in Fukushima Prefecture in March 2011. Between 2011 and 2015, an additional 1,867 people [2] in Fukushima Prefecture died as a result of the evacuations following the nuclear disaster [3]. These deaths were from ill health and suicides.

From the UNSCEAR estimate of 48,000 person Sv, it can be reliably estimated (using a fatal cancer risk factor of 10% per Sv) that about 5,000 fatal cancers will occur in Japan in future from Fukushima’s fallout. This estimate from official data agrees with my own personal estimate using a different methodology.

In sum, the health toll from the Fukushima nuclear disaster is horrendous. At the minimum

* Over 160,000 people were evacuated most of them permanently.

* Many cases of post-trauma stress disorder (PTSD), depression, and anxiety disorders arising from the evacuations.

* About 12,000 workers exposed to high levels of radiation, some up to 250 mSv

* An estimated 5,000 fatal cancers from radiation exposures in future.

* Plus similar (unquantified) numbers of radiogenic strokes, CVS diseases and hereditary diseases.

* Between 2011 and 2015, about 2,000 deaths from radiation-related evacuations due to ill-health and suicides.

* An as yet unquantified number of thyroid cancers.

* An increased infant mortality rate in 2012 and a decreased number of live births in December 2011.

Non-health effects include:

* 8% of Japan (30,000 sq.km), including parts of Tokyo, contaminated by radioactivity.

* Economic losses estimated between $300 and $500 billion.

Catastrophes that must never be repeated

The Fukushima accident is still not over and its ill-effects will linger for a long time into the future. However we can say now that the nuclear disaster at Fukushima delivered a huge blow to Japan and its people.

2,000 Japanese people have already died from the evacuations and another 5,000 are expected to die from future cancers.

It is impossible not to be moved by the scale of Fukushima’s toll in terms of deaths, suicides, mental ill-health and human suffering. Fukushima’s effect on Japan is similar to Chernobyl’s massive blow against the former Soviet Union in 1986.

Indeed, several writers have expressed the view that the Chernobyl nuclear disaster was a major factor in the subsequent collapse of the USSR during 1989-1990.

It is notable that Mikhail Gorbachev, President of the USSR at the time of Chernobyl and Naoto Kan, Prime Minister of Japan at the time of Fukushima have both expressed their opposition to nuclear power. Indeed Kan has called for all nuclear power to be abolished.

Has the Japanese Government, and indeed other governments (including the UK and US), learned from these nuclear disasters? The US philosopher George Santayana (1863-1962) once stated that those who cannot learn from history are doomed to repeat it. ”

source with footnotes and Ian Fairlie’s biography and blog