Is Fukushima doomed to become a dumping ground for toxic waste? — The Guardian

” This month, seven years after the 2011 Fukushima Daiichi reactor meltdowns and explosions that blanketed hundreds of square kilometres of northeastern Japan with radioactive debris, government officials and politicians spoke in hopeful terms about Fukushima’s prosperous future. Nevertheless, perhaps the single most important element of Fukushima’s future remains unspoken: the exclusion zone seems destined to host a repository for Japan’s most hazardous nuclear waste.

No Japanese government official will admit this, at least not publicly. A secure repository for nuclear waste has remained a long-elusive goal on the archipelago. But, given that Japan possesses approximately 17,000 tonnes of spent fuel from nuclear power operations, such a development is vital. Most spent fuel rods are still stored precariously above ground, in pools, in a highly earthquake-prone nation.

Japanese officialdom relentlessly emphasises positive messages regarding Fukushima’s short- and medium-term future, prioritizing economic development and the gradual return of skeptical evacuees to their newly “remediated” communities. Yet the return rate for the least hard-hit communities is only about 15%. Government proclamations regarding revitalisation of the area in and around the exclusion zone intone about jobs but seem geared ominously toward a future with relatively few humans.

The Fukushima prefecture government is currently promoting a plan, dubbed The Innovation Coast, that would transform the unwelcoming region into a thriving sweep of high-tech innovation. Much of the development would be directed towards a “robot-related industrial cluster” and experimental zones like a robot test field.

The test field would develop robots tailored for disaster response and for other purposes on a course simulating a wide range of hurdles and challenges already well represented in Fukushima itself. Large water tanks would contain an array of underwater hazards to navigate, mirroring the wreckage-strewn waters beneath the Fukushima Daiichi plant, where a number of meltdown-remediating underwater robots have met a premature demise in recent years.

Elsewhere on the robot test field, dilapidated buildings and other ruins would serve as a proving ground for land-based disaster-response robots, which must navigate twisted steel rods, broken concrete and other rubble. Engineered runways and surrounding radiation-hit areas would serve as prime territory for testing parlous aerial drones for a range of purposes in various weather conditions – which would be difficult or impossible to achieve elsewhere in relatively densely populated Japan.

The planned site for the test field would link with a secluded test area about 13km south along the coast to coordinate test flights over the exclusion zone’s more or less posthuman terrain.

Naturally, unlike Fukushima’s human residents, robots would be oblivious to the elevated radiation levels found outside the Fukushima Daiichi facility. In addition, prefectural officials have suggested that the exclusion zone environs could play host to a range of other services that don’t require much human intervention, such as long-term archive facilities.

Proud long-time residents of Fukushima, for their part, see all this development as a continued “colonisation” of the home prefecture by Tokyo – a well-worn pattern of outsiders using the zone for their own purposes, as were the utility representatives and officials who built the ill-fated plant in the first place.

Years of colossal decontamination measures have scraped irradiated material from seemingly every forest, park, farm, roadside, and school ground. This 16 million cubic metres of radioactive soil is now stored in provisional sites in and around the exclusion zone, waiting to be moved to an interim storage facility that has hardly been started and for which nearly half of the land has not yet even been leased.

The state has promised to remove all the contaminated soil from Fukushima after 30 years, and government officials have been scrupulous in insisting that this will be the case – for soil. Yet in a nation with about 17,000 tonnes of highly radioactive spent fuel rods and no willing candidates for secure repositories, it is only a matter of time before it becomes possible for politicians to publicly back the idea of transforming the area around Fukushima Daiichi into a secure repository.

Government officials, including those tasked with nuclear waste storage, describe the quintessentially Japanese strategy of saki-okuri, or calculated postponement, in the context of nuclear waste storage. Such perception management is a subtle business, but by quietly and unrelentingly pushing back the day of reckoning – slowly changing the terms of debate – the broadly distasteful prospect of storing Japan’s most dangerous material in its most tragically maltreated region would become gradually less intolerable to Japanese sensibilities.

The expanse of Fukushima in and around the exclusion zone represents an already contaminated area with, since 2011, far fewer residents to protest against such plans. Such a rare opportunity for relatively unopposed intervention in a struggling area will surely prove irresistible to the nuclear lobby.

Fukushima has been marginalised, disenfranchised, and outmanoeuvred for decades. After all, the electricity from Fukushima Daiichi went straight to the capital, not to Fukushima itself, which bore the risks. Since 2011, Fukushima has been saddled with the staggering burden of the meltdown’s aftermath that, despite government PR, will encumber and stigmatise its citizens for at least several decades. ”

by Peter Wynn Kirby, The Guardian



The comic strip journalist who reports on the fallout from Fukushima — The Spinoff

” On the eve of his appearance at a Victoria University event in Wellington, comic book author Fumio Obata talks to Guy Somerset about his ongoing project chronicling the aftermath of the Fukushima tsunami and nuclear disaster.

At art school, Fumio Obata was taught the importance of “the theme, having something of your own, something only you can do”. The theme that has preoccupied Obata for the past five years is one he has truly made his own. He has been chronicling, through striking comic book reportage, the devastating consequences of the magnitude 9.1 earthquake that struck off the northeast Pacific coast of Japan in March 2011, causing a tsunami and meltdowns and radioactive contamination at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant.

Published in Italian magazine Internazionale and on his website, Obata’s comic strips capture the long-term effects of Fukushima and explore some of the knotty social, political and environmental issues raised by the disaster and its aftermath. The strips are destined to become his second book, his first being 2014’s internationally successful graphic novel Just So Happens, for which The Observer reviewer Rachel Cooke praised his “crazily accomplished” storytelling and described him as “a talent to watch”.

Reviews like that – and there were plenty more where it came from – can bring a writer a lot of opportunities and Obata was no exception, but he laughs: “I haven’t used them very well. Terrible, isn’t it? The good guys who had their debuts the same time as me, they are already on to their third or fourth book. Whereas me, I’m just caught up in this massive theme. Strategy-wise, I’m not very good!”

Obata is at Victoria University of Wellington this week as a visiting scholar in its School of Design. While he’s there, he’s taking part in a four-day international symposium on cultural sustainability, including a free public event with fellow writers Australian Ellen van Neerven and New Zealander Pip Adam.

His trip from the UK, where he has lived since 1991, when his Anglophile parents sent him to boarding school there from Japan, was broken with a stop-off in Tokyo and more reporting from the region around Fukushima, where 19,416 people died as a result of the 2011 earthquake and tsunami. There are still 2553 people listed as missing and 123,000 evacuees scattered around the country.

A YouTube video on Obata’s website gives a sense of what such reporting can entail. In it, dressed in a white protective suit, he walks through an eerily desolate ghost town that is about two kilometres from Fukushima and part of the designated exclusion zone.

“If you become friends with a resident, they have a pass and you can go there with them,” he says. He and his friend wore protective suits, but clear-up and other workers don’t. “They don’t become ill. They say it is fine. Even in the exclusion zone, it’s not all equally radioactive. Because particles are not going to be evenly dispersed. When you walk around with the Geiger counter, you notice that sometimes the figure is very low, then you go several feet away from that spot and the figure jumps up. Even outside the exclusion zone, if you go to the bits closest to the zone you find the figures are very high.”

Obata’s reporting, which he describes as “a kind of journalism, but I’m more doing my philosophical take on it”, begins with him taking photographs and recording interviews.

“Because I’m trying to structure a narrative, usually it’s the words I start with. I listen to the interviews I did and write down as much as I can. Then I take out the key words, the phrases I think are important, simplifying it. It’s very important simplifying the information. Because what I’m making is a comic strip. It’s not an article, which allows you to have I don’t know how many words: 2000, 3000. I need the space for pictures so I can’t have 3000 words.

“After that, I look at the photographs. Again, I may have about 200 photographs. I have to go through them and use about 10 out of 200. Those photographs are going to be my visual sources. Then I start sketching. All those sketches and rough pictures, they are like pieces of the puzzle. I’ve got a dozen pieces of puzzle with words and phrases and I’ve got the other side of the puzzle with the photographs, and I basically put them together.”

One of the most affecting stories Obata tells is that of Norio Kimura, whose father, wife and seven-year-old youngest daughter Yūna were lost in the tsunami. While the bodies of his father and wife were found in April 2011, Yūna’s remained missing. After the official search for her ended, Kimura continued looking, taking 1000km round trips to do so. After five years and nine months, a piece of bone was discovered that DNA testing proved was one of Yūna’s.

“Yūna was torn apart into small pieces, taken away with contaminated debris, now stored around anonymously,” reads one of the story’s panels. “Had they done the search longer and more carefully from the start, she could have been found a lot earlier, with her body almost intact too.”

The story ends with a panel reading: “A child has been left out alone in the shadow of the reconstruction. And her presence now poses a lot of questions to us.”

This is emotionally momentous material, very different to some of Obata’s other work, be it his 2004 anime of Duran Duran’s song Careless Memories for their then stage show or the short comic about the art of pencil sharpening you’ll find on his website.

Getting it right must weigh upon him, one imagines: these are hugely significant events and he’s almost certainly the only person who’s going to approach them in this form.

“Yeah, big pressure,” he says. “It’s very difficult to do. I appreciate people allow me to talk to them. Some say no, of course. I’ve heard tragic stories but they’ve asked me not to write about it. It’s interesting because they wanted to share that with somebody, somebody who’s not shared the same experience they have.

“The father I met is very vocal because he’s angry. He’s just full of anger. He’s trying to change something about the law, for the love of his daughter. It’s very moving. That’s why he basically opened up to me. His story is still developing and he’s still searching for the remains of his daughter.”

Another panel in the same story is of a city skyline at night and reads: “The nuclear plant was built to provide electricity to the capital region. By knowing Fukushima today, Tokyo could look arrogant, with all the excess of lights and luxury.”

It’s a point elegantly distilled – even poetically so.

But Obata is not one to cast simplistic blame. “It is something I have to tell people, especially my students [at the University of Gloucester and other universities around the UK where he teaches as a guest lecturer] when they try to do something about the world. They are angry young men, angry young people, but there are layers to things. There’s no right or wrong; the people are goodies and the people are baddies as well.

“When a tragedy happens, we tend to think there’s a victim and there’s an offender. There’s going to be people who get accused and there are victims who get all the sympathy from the public. But sometimes it’s not like that. Sometimes you can’t make things black and white.

“What’s happening with nuclear is one of these things. If you start reading just a short history of the nuclear industry, or nuclear technology, you see a lot of people believe in the technology and I can’t blame them, because I can’t prove them wrong. They get accused and the people who accuse them have right things to say and I can’t blame them either.

“So basically there are no answers to it and it’s very uncomfortable for the human mind not to have answers. You need a bit of patience and courage to accept that. This is one of the things I am going to say at the end, I think: it’s difficult to accept an open ending but you’ve got to have the courage.”

As for Tokyo: “The consumption of energy really helped to establish today’s Japan’s reputation. And I’m part of it. I can’t really criticise it. I just have to take in the contradiction and try to respond.”

Responding to this and the other contradictions he’s encountered in the past five years still has a way to run for Obata. Asked if he’s going to make the 2018 publication date his website gives for his book, he laughs: “Nah, of course not. I just have to put a lot of energy into it and hope the pictures can deliver the intensity of what I’ve seen.” “

by Guy Somerset, The Spinoff

source with comic strip photos

Fukushima tourism — Mirror Online

As you can see from reading this article by Mirror Online, certain Japanese companies were quick to exploit the loss of Fukushima residents one year after the triple meltdowns, organizing ‘exclusion zone’ tours in evacuated areas 20 km from Fukushima Daiichi, attracting over 5,000 tourists during the first year and over 15,000 tourists by 2015.

Inside Fukushima’s Potemkin Village: Naraha — David McNeill, Androniki Christodoulou, The Asia-Pacific Journal

” Twice a year, journalists are taken on guided tours of the ruined Daiichi nuclear plant, operated by Tokyo Electric Power Co (TEPCO). The drive there from the southern outskirts of the 20-kilometer exclusion zone imposed in 2011 took them through the nearly empty towns of Hirono, Naraha, Tomioka, Okuma and Futaba. The state of neglect could be measured by the encroachment of weeds and wild animals, and the slow decrepitude of housing and infrastructure.

Despite the decline and the still urgent beeping of Geiger counters nearer the plant, there has never been any official talk of abandoning the area. Instead, it was divided up into three zones with awkward euphemisms to suggest just the opposite: communities with radiation of 20 millisieverts (mSv) or less (the typical worldwide limit for workers in nuclear plants) are “being prepared for lifting of evacuation order;” 20-50 mSv are “no-residence zones;” the most heavily contaminated (50mSv) are “difficult-to-return.”

A vast public-works project was started three years ago to decontaminate an area roughly half the size of Rhode Island, at an estimated cost of $50 billion. Compensation by TEPCO was explicitly linked to the possibility that many of the 160,000 nuclear refugees would return, and any hint otherwise was controversial: When new trade and industry minister Hachiro Yoshio called the abandoned communities “towns of death” in September 2011, he was forced to quit a week later.

In September 2015, Naraha, 15km south of the plant, became the first town in Fukushima Prefecture to completely lift the evacuation order imposed after the Daiichi plant’s triple meltdown. At a ceremony to mark the town’s reopening, Mayor Matsumoto Yukiei declared the nightmare that had descended nearly five years ago officially over. “The clock that stopped has now begun to tick”, he said. Explaining the decision, Takagi Yosuke, state minister of economy, trade and industry, said contamination was “not dangerous enough to continue forcing evacuation on residents who want to return home.”

That explanation somewhat inverts reality. A Reconstruction Agency survey conducted last year of evacuees from Okuma, Tomioka, Futaba and the town of Namie, northwest of the plant, found that just one-fifth wanted to go back to their homes. Thousands of refugees have reluctantly made lives elsewhere and fear that their nuclear compensation, amounting to a monthly stipend of 100,000 yen ($837), will be terminated if they refuse to go back to areas declared safe. Many feel they’re being pushed back, not invited.

Naraha is almost entirely state-funded. It has a publicly built shopping centre, a new kindergarten and a secondary school under construction. A new factory on the outskirts of town will design and test robots for use in decommissioning the ruined plant. A team of decontamination workers has been sent to every house – in some cases several times. Free dosimeters are distributed to residents who return, so they can measure airbone radiation. Water at the local water filtration plant is tested hourly, says Igari Yusuke, a local government spokesman. “We probably have the safest tap water in Japan,” he says.

All that’s missing are people: fewer than 200 of the town’s 7,400 residents have returned, admits Igari. Locals say the real number is much smaller. “Some came and left again,” says Yamauchi Kazuo, who is visiting relatives nearby. “There’s nothing here for them.” The town is bustling with men in uniform, mostly construction workers or local government officials who will eventually move on. The returnees include a single young local family, says Igari, but he declines to introduce them, citing privacy issues. Instead, we find the farmhouse of Yamauchi Kohei (79) and Tomoko (75), who say they have come back for good.

Like thousands of other evacuees, the elderly couple fled on the freezing night of March 11, 2011. In the subsequent months, they changed address six times, living for a while with their daughter in Nagano Prefecture , southwest of Tokyo before eventually – like many local people – ending up in temporary housing in Iwaki City about 30km south of Naraha. It was a difficult experience, they recall: apart from the disruption, the walls of their temporary-housing unit were paper thin and they could hear everything said and done by the noisy family next door.

They returned to their home periodically on government-sanctioned visits, wearing masks, gloves and Hazmat suits, eyeing in despair the impact of the elements on their beloved house. Last year, they were allowed to return during the daylight hours to work on making it livable again. Months of backbreaking work and decontamination later, the weeds are gone and the radiation is down to livable levels – about 0.1 mSv per hour, they say.

The Yamauchi home has been in the family for seven generations. In the room off the genkan or foyer, portraits of Kohei’s ancestors decorate the walls. “I couldn’t just abandon it”, he says. In any case, he adds, he and his wife are too old to care about cancer. Life is not the same as before, of course, but perhaps, little by little it will return to normal, he says. “If we return, perhaps the children will see that everything is alright and they will follow us.”

A few miles up the road, closer to the Daiichi plant, communities are still considered uninhabitable. Local police officers wear dosimeters pinned to their chests in case they stray into danger zones.

Hundreds of fields around the prefecture host stacked rows of black 100-kg bags of contaminated earth, stripped from the ground; Naraha alone generated 58,000 such bags, says Igari. Many locals are skeptical that the earth will ever be removed. Though the radiation levels are technically low, mothers are determined to keep their children away, says Kanai Naoko, an evacuee.

The goal of all this work is normalisation. Naraha is a showcase for post-Fukushima Japan, says Igari. “If people won’t return to live here, they won’t return anywhere. We feel a heavy sense of responsibility”. Nobody wants Fukushima mentioned in the same breath as Chernobyl: almost three decades after the world’s worst nuclear accident, life there is still frozen in time, a snapshot of the mid-1980s Soviet Union, complete with posters of Vladimir Lenin on school walls. “The key objective is to communicate to the public that Japan can overcome a nuclear accident,” says Jan Vande Putte, a radiation specialist for the environmental watchdog Greenpeace International. “It’s not economical; it would be a lot cheaper to give people enough money to leave and buy new houses. The goal is political.”

So far, most former residents are not buying it. One element of doubt is radiation. The best result of decontamination is a 50-percent reduction in contamination levels, “sometimes less,” says Vande Putte. The other issue is linked to infrastructure, particularly hospitals, doctors and shops. Within a year, Naraha will have a new government-funded clinic, the new school will have opened; radiation in most places will have fallen to near-normal levels. But will families return? Igari smiles uncomfortably. “We like to think they will,” he says. “Perhaps it will take five or ten years. We hope it will happen sooner but it’s difficult to tell.” There’s no question of forcing people back by cutting off their compensation, he insists. But without an extension, the trickle of money is due to end in 2018.

Following the 2011 triple disaster, Japan closed all 53 of its nuclear reactors. A month before Naraha reopened, it fired up a reactor in Kyushu – the first under tougher safety rules introduced after Fukushima. Operators of another two-dozen reactors have applied to restart — the government’s latest energy plan assumes they will eventually provide more than 20 per cent of the nation’s energy mix. But the restarts are unpopular and virtually every one is the focus of a potentially long-drawn out legal dispute over safety. A survey by Reuters, published after the Kyushu restart said that of the other 42 operable reactors in Japan, “just seven are likely to be turned on in the next few years.” Nine reactors are likely to stay off for good and the future of the rest is “uncertain.”

Many of the roughly 120,000 remaining nuclear evacuees, meanwhile, have built new lives elsewhere and are reluctant to return to communities that have fallen into ruin. Worries over radiation complicate an already difficult decision, particularly for those with young children. Though scientists have repeatedly said the decontaminated areas are safe, many distrust those reassurances, says Kanai. Such worries are highlighted by a hotly contested report claiming that rates of thyroid cancer in Fukushima since March 2011 are 20 to 50 times the national level.

Small signs of life give the returnees hope: newspaper deliveries recently restarted and the post office will reopen shortly. Trains are arriving at the local station again – a digital readout displays the radiation level over the ticket counter.

Do locals bear a grudge about what happened? No, says Watanabe Seijun, who manages a local restaurant. When he was a boy, he recalls, his father worked in the summer but had to travel all the way to Tokyo for seasonal work in the winter. The power plant came along in the 1970s and provided a living for many local people. “There’s no point in blaming anyone for what happened, he says.” Yamauchi Kohei agrees. “We just have to look ahead and try to improve our lot. What else can we do.” ”

by David McNeill and Androniki Christodoulou


Radiation impact studies – Chernobyl and Fukushima — CounterPunch

” Some nuclear advocates suggest that wildlife thrives in the highly-radioactive Chernobyl Exclusion Zone, animals like it, and not only that, a little radiation for anybody and everybody is harmless and maybe good, not bad. This may seem like a senseless argument to tackle were it not for the persistence of positive-plus commentary by nuke lovers. The public domain deserves better, more studied, more crucial answers.

Fortunately, as well as unfortunately, the world has two major real life archetypes of radiation’s impact on the ecosystem: Chernobyl and Fukushima. Chernobyl is a sealed-off 30klm restricted zone for the past 30 years because of high radiation levels. Whereas, PM Abe’s government in Japan has already started returning people to formerly restricted zones surrounding the ongoing Fukushima nuclear meltdown.

The short answer to the supposition that a “little dab of radiation is A-Okay” may be suggested in the title of a Washington Blog d/d March 12, 2014 in an interview of Dr. Timothy Mousseau, the world-renowned expert on radiation effects on living organisms. The hard answer is included further on in this article.

Dr. Mousseau is former Program Director at the National Science Foundation in Population Biology, Panelist for the National Academy of Sciences’ Panels on Analysis of Cancer Risks in Populations Near Nuclear Facilities and GAO Panel on Health and Environmental Effects from Tritium Leaks at Nuclear Power Plants, and a biology professor – and former Dean of the Graduate School, and Chair of the Graduate Program in Ecology – at the University of South Carolina.

The title of the Washington Blog interview is:

Chernobyl and Fukushima Studies Show that Radiation Reduces Animal and Plant Numbers, Fertility, Brain Size and Diversity… and Increases Deformities and Abnormalities.

Dr. Mousseau made many trips to Chernobyl and Fukushima, making 896 inventories at Chernobyl and 1,100 biotic inventories in Fukushima. His mission was to test the effects of radiation on plants and animals. The title of his interview (above) handily serves to answer the question of whether radiation is positive for animals and plants. Without itemizing reams and reams of study data, the short answer is: Absolutely not! It is not positive for animals and plants, period.

Moreover, low doses of radiation aka: “radiation hormesis” is not good for humans, as advocated by certain energy-related outlets. Data supporting their theory is extremely shaky and more to the point, flaky.

Furthermore, according to the Cambridge Philosophical Society’s journal Biological Reviews, including reported results by wide-ranging analyses of 46 peer-reviewed studies published over 40 years, low-level natural background radiation was found to have small, but highly statistically significant, negative effects on DNA and several measures of good health.

Dr. Mousseau with co-author Anders Møller of the University of Paris-Sud examined more that 5,000 papers involving background radiation in order to narrow their findings to 46 peer-reviewed studies. These studies examined plants and animals with a large preponderance of human subjects.

The scientists reported significant negative effects in a range of categories, including immunology, physiology, mutation and disease occurrence. The frequency of negative effects was beyond that of random chance.

“There is no threshold below which there are no effects of radiation,” Ibid.

“With the levels of contamination that we have seen as a result of nuclear power plants, especially in the past, and even as a result of Chernobyl and Fukushima and related accidents, there’s an attempt in the industry to downplay the doses that the populations are getting, because maybe it’s only one or two times beyond what is thought to be the natural background level…. But they’re assuming the natural background levels are fine. And the truth is, if we see effects at these low levels, then we have to be thinking differently about how we develop regulations for exposures, and especially intentional exposures to populations, like the emissions from nuclear power plants….” Ibid.

Results of Major Landmark Study on Low Dose Radiation (July 2015)

A consortium of researchers coordinated by the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) in Lyon, France, examined causes of death in a study of more than 300,000 nuclear-industry workers in France, the United States and the United Kingdom, all of whom wore dosimeter badges, Researchers Pin Down Risks of Low-Dose Radiation, Nature, July 8, 2015.

The workers received on average just 1.1 millisieverts (mSv) per year above background radiation, which itself is about 2–3 mSv per year from sources such as cosmic rays and radon. The study confirmed that the risk of leukemia does rise proportionately with higher doses, but also showed that this linear relationship is present at extremely low levels of radiation.

The study effectively “scuppers the popular idea that there might be a threshold dose below which radiation is harmless,” Ibid.

Even so, the significant issue regarding radiation exposure for humans is that it is a “silent destroyer” that takes years and only manifests once damage has occurred, for example, 200 American sailors of the USS Reagan have filed a lawsuit against TEPCO, et al because of radiation-related illnesses, like leukemia, only four years after radiation exposure from Fukushima.

Japan Moving People Back to Fukushima Restricted Zones

Japan’s Abe government has started moving people back into former restricted zones surrounding the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station even though it is an on-going major nuclear meltdown that is totally out of control.

Accordingly, Greenpeace Japan conducted a radiation survey and sampling program in Iitate, a village in Fukushima Prefecture. Even after decontamination, radiation dose rates measured ten times (10xs) the maximum allowed to the general public.

According to Greenpeace Japan: “The Japanese government plans to lift restrictions in all of Area 2 [2], including Iitate, where people could receive radiation doses of up to 20mSV each year and in subsequent years. International radiation protection standards recommend public exposure should be 1mSv/year or less in non-post accident situations. The radiation limit that excluded people from living in the 30km zone around the Chernobyl nuclear plant exclusion zone was set at 5mSV/year, five years after the nuclear accident. Over 100,000 people were evacuated from within the zone and will never return.” (Greenpeace Press Release, July 21, 2015). ”


Kyle Cleveland, sociologist at Temple University’s Japan Campus — Enenews

Kyle Cleveland’s speech was published on Apr 29, 2015, on Youtube. His speech was taken off Youtube today, but part of the transcript is still available on Enenews.

” Like everyone else we were seeing what was on the media. The media was very alarmist, and I think ironically, some of what were taken as an overreaction or a panic in the first couple of weeks of the crisis subsequently have been vindicated to be in some ways quite reasonable claims and worries as more information have been revealed, as gov’t reports have been written… Those reports have demonstrated that the situation was really quite more serious at the time than certainly what the government was saying, and certainly what TEPCO was saying at the time. My starting point for my research was looking into the government’s FOIA documents. I was very surprised to see that there is a big difference within the United States government as they were trying to determine just how bad this was. And what I realized in those documents is that the Nuclear Regulatory Commission… was recommending a 50-mile (80 km) exclusionary zone. This was an stark contrast to the Japanese government’s recommendation of 30 km. And also I was very interested to see that the the US Navy Pacific Command and particularly naval reactors, was recommending a 200-mile exclusionary zone. So that’s a rather profound gap between 30 kilometers on the one hand with the Japanese government 80 km from the NRC [and] something like over 300 km for the US Navy… But ironically aside from the staff at the Daiichi plant maybe some at the very first people who were hit by the radioactive plume were sailors who run the United States Ronald Reagan Carrier Strike Group… They detected the plume at about 132 miles distance from the Daiichi plant. The FOIA  documents… demonstrate that these government officials… were very concerned about the levels that they were reading. They were indicating that they were about 30 times above background levels, and that they would exceed a ‘protective action guideline’ criteria within about a 10 hour period… The reason the US Navy had recommended a 200-mile exclusionary zone was that the Yokosuka naval base is about a 163 miles from the Daiichi plant… at the same time that the Ronald Reagan aircraft carrier was detecting the nuclear plume, the George Washington aircraft carrier which was ported down near Yokosuka was also detecting a plume and the result that they were getting were really quite alarming to them. “