Greenpeace radiation specialist Jan Vande Putte visits towns near the Fukushima No. 1 site and measures radiation levels in the homes, streets, playgrounds and nearby forests. The government has lifted evacuation zone orders in certain areas like Iitate and plans on lifting evacuation orders in towns like Namie that are still highly contaminated. Putte looks at this issue from a human rights perspective, as residents of these towns are being threatened by the government to move back to contaminated areas because of the termination of their monthly compensation that they use to pay for housing where they have relocated.
” Almost six years after he was forced to leave his home following the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster, the Japanese government informed Toru Anzai that it was safe for him to return to the small agricultural village of Iitate.
Anzai and the rest of the some 6,000 people who once called the village – located about 24 miles northwest of the doomed nuclear power plant – home were told that the evacuation orders were to be lifted by the end of March as the government has completed its decontamination work and reduced the average radiation level in the air to 0.8 microsieverts (µSv/h) per hour – a level deemed by international organizations as safe for human life.
Alongside lifting the evacuation order, the Japanese government also noted that it will end compensation payments to the former residents of Iitate after a year from when an area is declared safe again to live in.
The government’s announcement, however, has been met with skepticism from Iitate’s former residents and widespread criticism from environmental activists and radiation experts around the world. They say that Japan has based its policies not on any interest in public health but on undoing the financial burden of compensation and creating a false reality that life in the Fukushima prefecture is back to normal.
“The Japanese government just wants to say that we can overcome,” Jans Vande Putte, a radiation specialist with environmental group Greenpeace and one of the authors of a report on the cleanup efforts in Iitate, told Fox News. “It’s like they’re running a PR campaign to say that everything is okay and we can now go back to normal.”
Considered the worst atomic accident since the Chernobyl meltdown in the Ukraine in 1986, the Fukushima disaster occurred on March 11, 2011, following a massive 9.0 magnitude earthquake and ensuing tsunami. That tsunami destroyed the emergency generators that would have provided power to cool the nuclear reactors. The insufficient cooling led to three nuclear meltdowns, explosions of hydrogen-air chemicals and the release of radioactive material into the surrounding prefecture.
While Japanese officials assert that the radiation around homes in Iitate have been brought down to an acceptable level since the disaster, Greenpeace said that a survey team it sent into the village found radiation dose rates at houses that were well above long-term government targets.
The organization’s report also noted that annual and lifetime exposure levels in Iitate pose a long-term risk to citizens who may return – especially young children. Scientific research found that on average a newborn girl is seven times more sensitive to radiation as a young adult.
The Japanese government has set a long-term decontamination target of 0.23 µSv/h, which would give a dose of 1 millisievert (mSv) per year, or the maximum limit recommended by the International Commission on Radiological Protection. The sievert is a derived unit that measures the health effect of low levels of ionizing radiation on the human body.
Greenpeace measurements outside on Anzai’s house, however, found that level to be 0.7µSv/h, which would equal 2.5 mSv per year. Inside his home the numbers were even higher, with values coming in at a range between 5.1 to 10.4 mSv per year.
“It is still relatively unsafe to live there,” Vande Putte said. “If thousands of people go back it will be a bad situation and it’s just not wise to go back.”
The radiation levels, experts contend, are even more dangerous outside of the village and the area the government has allegedly decontaminated. Iitate is primarily an agricultural community and 75 percent of the 77-square-mile area is mountainous forest, where Greenpeace contends that radiation levels are comparable to the exclusion zone around Chernobyl.
That means that anyone taking a walk through the woods or even eating something grown in supposedly decontaminated land is at greater risk for a high level of radiation exposure.
“You don’t have to go right out into the forest because they’re not cleaning up areas that are already settled,” Keith Baverstock, a former regional adviser for radiation and public health at the World Health Organization and current medical researcher at the University of Eastern Finland, told Fox News. “If you eat anything grown locally, the levels of radiation are going to be unquestionably a lot higher.”
Baverstock, who for years has been a sharp critic of Japan’s cleanup, said that it could take between 15 and 20 years for the radioactivity in the soil to sink to safe levels if measured at the same speed as that of Chernobyl. But he added that nobody can currently be sure of that rate.
“The Japanese government doesn’t say to these people that they have to accept the risk if they return to the area,” he added.
Greenpeace is demanding that the Japanese government provide full compensation payments to residents of Fukushima prefecture and continue measuring the radiation levels so that people can decide on their own when they want to return.
Outside observers argue that the Japanese government doesn’t have many options if they really hope to protect their citizens from high levels of radiation.
“This is going to cost them,” Baverstock said. “Japan doesn’t have an alternative to waiting it out and resettling these refugees somewhere else.” ”
by Andrew O’Reilly
” An industry group has estimated costs for decontamination work at the disaster-struck Fukushima nuclear plant and compensation for nuclear damage to be around ¥8 trillion ($77.10 billion) more than the current official projection, a source said Thursday.
The Federation of Electric Power Companies of Japan, which consists of the country’s 10 electric power companies, has informally asked Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s government to use state funds to cover the extra costs, the source also said.
The costs are supposed to be covered by the utilities, including Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings Inc., operator of the crippled Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant, where three reactors melted down in the aftermath of the March 2011 quake-tsunami disaster. The government is cautious about using taxpayer money to deal with the issue, the source said.
Under the current estimate, compensation payments are projected to total ¥5.4 trillion, while decontamination costs are forecast to reach ¥2.5 trillion.
Tepco and other nuclear power plant operators have paid contributions for compensation payments to a state-backed fund. As for decontamination costs, the fund will seek to retrieve that money by selling Tepco shares that it owns. ”
” Japan’s Abe administration is pushing very hard to decontaminate land, roads, and buildings throughout Fukushima Prefecture, 105 cities, towns, and villages. Thousands of workers collect toxic material into enormous black one-ton bags, thereby accumulating gigantic geometric structures of bags throughout the landscape, looking evermore like the foreground of iconic ancient temples.
Here’s the big push: PM Abe committed to the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, which shall be a crowning achievement in the face of the Fukushima disaster. Hence, all stops are pulled to repopulate Fukushima Prefecture, especially with Olympic events held within Fukushima, where foodstuff will originate for Olympic attendees.
The Abe government is desperately trying to clean up and repopulate as if nothing happened, whereas Chernobyl (1986) determined at the outset it was an impossible task, a lost cause, declaring a 1,000 square mile no-habitation zone, resettling 350,000 people. It’ll take centuries for the land to return to normal.
Still and all, is it really truly possible to cleanse the Fukushima countryside?
Already, workers have accumulated enough one-ton black bags filled with irradiated soil and debris to stretch from Tokyo to LA. But, that only accounts for about one-half of the job yet to be done. Still, in the face of this commendable herculean effort, analysis of decontamination reveals serious missteps and problems.
Even though the Abe government is encouraging evacuees to move back into villages, towns, and cities of Fukushima Prefecture, Greenpeace nuclear campaigner Heinz Smital claims, in a video – Fukushima: Living with Disaster d/d March 2016: “Radiation is so high here that nobody will be able to live here in the coming years.”
Greenpeace has experts on the ground in Fukushima Prefecture March 2016, testing radiation levels. The numbers do not look good at all. Still, at the insistence of the Abe government, people are moving back into partially contaminated areas. In such a case, and assuming Greenpeace is straightforward, it’s a fair statement that if the Abe government can’t do a better job, then something or somebody needs to change. The Olympics are coming.
The Greenpeace report of March 4, 2016: Radiation Reloaded – Impacts of the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Accident 5 Years Later, exposes deeply flawed assumptions by the IAEA and the Abe government in terms of both decontamination and ecosystem risks.
Ever since March 2011, for over 5 years now, Greenpeace has conducted 25 radiological investigations in Fukushima Prefecture, concluding that five years after the Fukushima nuclear accident, it remains clear that the environmental consequences are complex and extensive and hazardous.
A 17-minute video entitled “Fukushima: Living with Disaster,” shows Greenpeace specialists in real time, conducting radiation tests in decontaminated villages and towns of the prefecture. Viewers can see actual real time measurements of radiation on dosimeters.
For example, in the Village of Iitate, 40 kilometers northwest of the Daiichi nuclear plant, Toru Anzai, an evacuee of Iitate, is told decontamination work on his plot of land nearly complete, and he is to rehabitate in 2017. However, Toru has personal doubts about governmental claims. As it happens, Greenpeace tests show abnormally high levels of radiation where decontamination work is already complete.
“Here we have around 0.8 microsieverts (μSv) per hour,” Heinz Smital, nuclear campaigner Greenpeace, “0.23 was the government target for decontamination work.” An adjoining space registers 1.5-2.0 μSv sometimes up to 3.5 μSv. “This is not the kind of count where you can say things are back to normal.”
Throughout the prefecture, decontamination is only partially carried out. For example, decontamination is confined within a 20-meter radius of private plots and along the roads as well as on farmland, leaving vast swaths of hills, valleys, riverbanks, streams, forests, and mountains untouched. Over time, radiation contamination runoff will re-contaminate many previously decontaminated areas.
Alarmingly, Greenpeace found large caches of hidden buried toxic black bags. Over time, it is likely the bags will rot away with radioactivity seeping into groundwater.
At Fukushima City, 60 km from the plant, Greenpeace discovered unacceptable radiation levels with spot readings as high as 4.26, 1.85, 9.06 μSv. According to Greenpeace: “These radiation levels are anything but harmless.”
The government officially informed Miyoko Watanable, an evacuee of Miyakochi, of “radiation eradicated” from her home. But, she says, “I don’t plan to live here again.” Greenpeace confirmed her instincts: “Although work has only recently finished here, we find counts of 1-to-2 μSv per hour… That’s not a satisfactory for the people here in this contaminated area” (Heinz Smital).
Once an area is officially declared “decontaminated,” disaster relief payments for citizens like Miyoko Watanable stop. The government is off the hook.
Without a doubt, the government of Japan is confronted with an extraordinarily difficult challenge, and it may seem unbecoming to ridicule or find fault with the Abe administration in the face of such unprecedented circumstances. But, the issue is much bigger than the weird antics of the Abe government, which passed an absolutely insane secrecy law providing for 10 years in prison to anybody who breathes a secret, undefined.
Rather, whether nuclear power is truly safe is a worldwide issue. In that regard, the nuclear industry has an unfair PR advantage because of the latency effect of radiation. In general, the latency period for cancers is 5-6 years before statistically discernible numbers. People forget.
Consequently, it is important to reflect on key facts:
In a 2014 RT interview, Katsutaka Idogawa, former mayor of Futaba in Fukushima Prefecture, said: “It’s a real shame that the authorities hide the truth from the whole world, from the UN. We need to admit that actually many people are dying. We are not allowed to say that, but TEPCO employees also are dying. But they keep mum about it.”
Alas, two hundred fifty U.S. sailors of the USS Ronald Reagan, on a Fukushima humanitarian rescue mission, have a pending lawsuit against TEPCO, et al claiming they are already experiencing leukemia, ulcers, gall bladder removals, brain cancer, brain tumors, testicular cancer, dysfunctional uterine bleeding, thyroid illness, stomach ailments and other complaints extremely unusual in such young adults. Allegedly, the sailors were led to believe radiation exposure was not a problem.
Theodore Holcomb (38), an aviation mechanic, died from radiation complications, and according to Charles Bonner, attorney for the sailors, at least three sailors have now died from mysterious illnesses (Third US Navy Sailor Dies After Being Exposed to Fukushima Radiation, Natural News, August 24, 2015.) Among the plaintiffs is a sailor who was pregnant during the mission. Her baby was born with multiple genetic mutations.
Reflecting on 30 years ago, Adi Roche, chief executive of Chernobyl Children International, care for 25,000 children so far, says (2014): “The impact of Chernobyl is still very real and very present to the children who must live in an environment poisoned with radioactivity.”
“Children rocking back and forth for hours on end, hitting their heads against walls, grinding their teeth, scraping their faces and putting their hands down their throats… This is what I witnessed when I volunteered at Vesnova Children’s Mental Asylum in Belarus (February 2014),” How my Trip to a Children’s Mental Asylum in Belarus Made me Proud to be Irish, the journal.ie. March 18, 2014 (Cliodhna Russell). Belarus has over 300 institutions like this hidden deep in the backwoods.
Chernobyl is filled with tear-jerking, heart-wrenching stories of deformed, crippled, misshaped, and countless dead because of radiation sickness. It’s enough to turn one’s stomach in the face of any and all apologists for nuclear power.
According to Naoto Kan, Japanese PM 2010-11 during the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant meltdown: “For the good of humanity it is absolutely necessary to shut down all nuclear power plants. That is my firm belief” (source: Greenpeace video, March 2016).
Over 60 nuclear reactors are currently under construction in 15 countries. China has 400 nuclear power plants on the drawing boards. Russia plans mini-nuclear floating power plants to power oil drill rigs in the Arctic by 2020. Honestly! ”
by David Hunziker
” Maximum interest payments to financial institutions by the government related to helping Tokyo Electric Power Co. pay compensation over the nuclear disaster are projected to total ¥126.4 billion, up some ¥50 billion from an estimate in October 2013, according to the Board of Audit.
If the financial aid for compensation payments related to the crisis at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant reaches a limit of ¥9 trillion, the government will take up to 30 years to collect the funds, the board said Monday in its latest estimate.
Because the interest payments may rise further, depending on Tepco’s financial conditions, the board said that the company needs to boost its efforts to improve its finances and corporate value.
It was the board’s second audit of Tepco.
After the upper limit for government financial aid was raised from ¥5 trillion to ¥9 trillion in December 2013, the board recalculated other figures based on the status as of the end of 2014.
According to the board, aid to Tepco for compensation payments totaled ¥4.534 trillion as of the end of last year.
Meanwhile, a total of ¥189.2 billion in taxpayer money has been spent since fiscal 2011 on decommissioning the nuclear facility and dealing with the buildup of radioactive water, the Board of Audit said.
The board also said Tepco has allocated a massive amount of money for radioactive water treatment facilities and tanks that functioned only for a short period of time, with the amount totaling around ¥68.6 billion.
Tepco has spent some ¥32.1 billion on equipment to remove radioactive cesium from tainted water at the crippled plant, but the facilities stopped operating three months after the start of operations in June 2011, due mainly to equipment failure.
The utility also spent ¥16 billion to build more than 100 tanks for storing radioactive water at the plant. But these are now being replaced with more reliable containers after around 300 tons of highly tainted water was found to have leaked from one of the tanks in 2013.
“The government should give sufficient consideration to ensuring the recovery of the state funds and boosting Tepco’s corporate value” to reduce the burden on taxpayers, the board said, urging Tepco to make further cost-cutting efforts.
The government plans to collect funds for the financial aid from the sale of Tepco shares, contributions by nuclear power plant operators, special payments by Tepco and government subsidies to the Nuclear Damage Compensation and Decommissioning Facilitation Corp.
The board’s estimate is based on the assumption that Tepco pays ¥50 billion, or half of its pretax profit, in its annual special contribution.
To calculate interest payments and how long it will take to collect the funds, the board also assumed that Tepco shares will move between ¥750 and ¥1,350 apiece.
The latest estimate shows that the government will finish collecting the funds as early as 2032, with interest to be paid to financial institutions totaling ¥89.2 billion, or as late as 2044, with interest reaching ¥126.4 billion.
The previous estimate found that the interest would total between ¥37.4 billion and ¥79.4 billion if Tepco receives maximum aid of ¥5 trillion.
The board also said that it will take much longer to collect the funds because Tepco has failed to resume operations at its Kashiwazaki-Kariwa nuclear plant, as assumed in the estimate, and the Tepco share price currently stands below ¥500, far lower than the prices projected in the estimate. ”