Japan seeks final resting place for highly radioactive nuclear waste — Deutsche Welle

” With communities refusing to come forward to host the by-product of Japan’s nuclear energy industry, the Japanese government is drawing up a map of the most suitable locations for underground repositories.

The Japanese government is putting the finishing touches to a map of the country identifying what its experts consider to be the safest location for a repository for 18,000 tons of highly radioactive nuclear waste for the next 100,000 years. The map is expected to be released next month and will coincide with the government holding a series of symposiums across the country designed to explain why the repository is needed and to win support for the project.

Given that the disaster at the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear plant in March 2011 is still fresh in the memory of the Japanese public, the government’s plan is not expected to win much understanding or support.

The original proposal for a repository for the waste from the nation’s nuclear energy sector was first put forward in 2002, but even then there were few communities that were willing to be associated with the dump. Fifteen years later, and with a number of Japan’s nuclear reactors closed down for good in the wake of the Fukushima accident, the need for a permanent storage site is more pressing than ever.

Radioactivity release

The disaster, in which a 13-meter tsunami triggered by an off-shore earthquake crippled four reactors at the plant and caused massive amounts of radioactivity to escape into the atmosphere, also underlined just how seismically unstable the Japanese archipelago is and the need for the repository to be completely safe for 100,000 years.

Aileen Mioko-Smith, an anti-nuclear campaigner with Kyoto-based Green Action Japan, does not believe the government can deliver that guarantee.

“You only have to look at what happened in 2011 to realize that nowhere in Japan is safe from this sort of natural disaster and it is crazy to think otherwise,” she told DW.

Given the degree of public hostility, Mioko-Smith believes that the government will fall back on the tried-and-trusted tactic of offering ever-increasing amounts of money until a community gives in.

Government funds

“They have been trying to get this plan of the ground for years and one thing they tried was to offer money to any town or village that agreed to even undergo a survey to see if their location was suitable,” she said.

“There were a number of mayors who accepted the proposal because they wanted the money – even though they had no intention of ever agreeing to host the storage site – but the backlash from their constituents was fast and it was furious,” Smith added.

“In every case, those mayors reversed their decisions and the government has got nowhere,” she said. “But I fear that means that sooner or later they are just going to make a decision on a site and order the community to accept it.”

The security requirements of the facility will be exacting, the government has stated, and the site will need to be at least 300 meters beneath the surface in a part of the country that is not subject to seismic activity from active faults or volcanoes. It must also be safe from the effects of erosion and away from oil and coal fields. Another consideration is access and sites within 20 km of the coast are preferred.

High-level waste

The facility will need to be able to hold 25,000 canisters of vitrified high-level waste, while more waste will be produced as the nation’s nuclear reactors are slowly brought back online after being mothballed since 2011 for extensive assessments of their safety and ability to withstand a natural disaster on the same scale as the magnitude-9 earthquake that struck Fukushima.

Stephen Nagy, a senior associate professor of international relations at Tokyo’s International Christian University, agrees that the government will have to pay to convince any community to host the facility.

“They will probably peddle it as subsidies for rural revitalization, which is a tactic that all governments use, but there are going to be some significant protests because Fukushima has created a nuclear allergy in most people in Japan,” he said.

“I expect that the government would also very much like to be able to phase out nuclear energy, but that is simply not realistic at the moment,” he said.

When it is released, the government’s list is likely to include places in Tohoku and Hokkaido as among the most suitable sites, because both are relatively less populated than central areas of the country and are in need of revitalization efforts. Parts of Tohoku close to the Fukushima plant may eventually be chosen because they are still heavily contaminated with radiation from the accident. ”

by Deutsche Welle

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Fukushima seafood smuggling ring busted in China — SimplyInfo

” 5000 tons of Fukushima fish, scallops and king crab are estimated to have been smuggled out of Japan in the last two years into markets in China, and possibly beyond. The estimated value of the illegal seafood is 34.7 million USD.

The products were picked up in Hokkaido, sent to Vietnam for repackaging to remove evidence that they came from Fukushima Prefecture, then shipped to China and sold. … ”

by SimplyInfo

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“There is so much sickness and death that it cannot be considered simply as ’caused by stress’ ” — Junko Honda via World Network for Saving Children From Fukushima

” Mrs. Junko Honda migrated from her native Kagamiishi, Fukushima prefecture, to Sapporo, Hokkaido, after 3.11. Although she was a successful beauty salon owner who ran two salons in Kagamiishi, she closed down the businesses in 2012 and moved to Sapporo with her husband and two children. Honda took a number of unusual health problems that had happened to her family members, including her teenage daughter, as a serious warning sign for radiation effect on health, and decided to leave everything behind to protect herself and her family. Everything literally means all she had: her successful business, her community ties, circles of relatives and friends. After struggling with emotional and economical difficulties, Mrs. Honda opened a new beauty salon in Sapporo in 2013. She has also been advocating for rights of disaster evacuees and immigrants in her new community.

She recently shared a note on Facebook, in which she had collected unusual symptoms that she had heard about, over the past three years. The nature of her profession as a hairdresser, who deals with many customers and has talks with them, sometimes leads up to issues on health and well-being. Thus she has had opportunities to hear personal stories that otherwise are rarely heard.

Honda says these stories are only some of the stories she has heard, but they are the ones whose veracity she has been able to ascertain.

WNSRC translated Mrs. Honda’s note to show how an ordinary citizen happened to face a series of health problems in Fukushima since the nuclear accident. The municipal and national governments have meanwhile advocated for the safety of living in Fukushima and encouraged former residents to go home. ”

Record of cases on health problems after the nuclear accident in March, 2011

Before the nuclear accident, I had never heard of so much sickness and death in such a short period of time. Are they caused by psychological stress? It’s too easy to say so and such a word is insulting for the people who passed away.
April, 2011

I spotted insect-bite-like reddish eczema on my daughter’s face. They stayed until we evacuated to Hokkaido.
I felt strange feeling in my lymph nodes around the neck. The salon staff also felt the same.
The hair of our pets, a dog and a cat, become uneven because of hair loss to an unusual degree.

September, 2011

1. Kagamiishi: My friend’s father died with a tumor in the lymph glands.

2. Kagamiishi: A man in his 60s died all of sudden.

3. Koriyama: A gynecologist mentioned there was an increase of lymph tumors.

4. Koriyama: A customer in her 40s got ill with a disease that cannot renew blood.

5. Izumizaki: A woman in her 30s died from cardiac arrest after recovering from uterus cancer surgery.

6. Koriyama: A hairdresser friend and her sister have suffered dermatologic eczema since the accident.

7. One of my relatives got infected with herpes zoster for the first time and experienced big weight loss. Coughing started after the accident but the cause cannot be determined.

8. A child of an evacuee from Shirakawa had nosebleeds very often after the accident. The child reported that there are many others at school who had nose bleeding.

March 2012

9. Yabuki-town: Five customers who visited a beauty salon in Yabuki town owned by my friend , experienced funerals of close family members during very short period (from the end of the year 2011 to spring in 2012). Three of the deceased were in their 50s.

10. Izumizaki village: A man in his 30s died suddenly.

11. One of my family members has shadows under her eyes and coughs do not stop. Her child had hives for the first time, and got infected with Influenza A and B, one after the other.

June 2012

12. All the fingernails of a child evacuee from Sugakawa fell off after the accident. They grew back later. Another child had had headaches and nausea since the accident. Their mother experienced hair loss and since then she had sparser hair for a while.

August 2012

13. Kagamiishi: One of my relatives died suddenly of subarachnoid hemorrhage. He was in his 30s.

14. Two classmate of my daughter visited us in Hokkaido. Both of them had shadows under eyes and had colorless cheeks.

15. One of my relatives, a child, came to Hokkaido. Her skin was dark and she had colorless cheeks, and her eyes looked as if they were lightly covered by a membrane. After 3 weeks stay in Sapporo, her eyes brightened, her skin gained its natural color and the cheeks became pinkish.

16. Kagamiishi: A woman in her 40s started to suffer with her already existing illness. She recently had breast cancer operation.

17. Grandmother of an evacuee from Tenei village, Fukushima, had had throat irritation but after she came to Hokkaido the irritation had gone.
A carpenter in Tenei village died suddenly.

December 2012

18. Kagamiishi: A resident in his 30s developed a tumor.

19. Tenei village: A resident in her 40s developed a tumor and died a year later.

20. Sugakawa: A friend of an evacuee’s friend from Sugakawa died suddenly. The friend was in his (her) 40s.

21. Koriyama: Parents of an evacuee from Koriyama decided to take full-medical examinations because their friend, a medical doctor, suggested them to do so, mentioning that his friends have been dying with cancer one after another. Her younger sister, who was a resident of Tokyo, did a blood test and the leukocyte count showed some abnormality.

22. Sugakawa: A child of an evacuee from Sugakawa underwent unsubsidized thyroid examination and the doctor told her that the thymus gland was swollen. Several children who have fled from Fukushima show same symptoms.

April 2013

23. Fukushima: A friend of an evacuee gave birth to a polydactyl child.

July 2013

24. Iwaki: A younger friend of an evacuee from Koriyama got ill with cancer.

September 2013

25. Tokyo: A child of an evacuee had an unsubsidized thyroid examination. Nothing was found last year, but this year they found many cysts.

October 2013

26. Kagamiishi: A female customer, who was in her mid 30s, of an evacuee from Kagamiishi, developed thyroid cancer.
A neighbor of the evacuee in his 60s had several incidents of convulsion, being taken to emergency room, but doctors couldn’t determine the cause. The last convulsion eventually killed him.

27. Sugakawa: A male friend of an evacuee from Kagamiishi was working as decontamination worker and he died suddenly.

November 2013

28. My friend in her 40s had surgery for removal of an ovarian cyst. Her doctor said if the discovery of they cyst had been any later, it would have developed into cancer.

March 2014

29. Sugakawa: A friend of an evacuee, in her 30s, had thyroid surgery.

30. One of my relatives, a middle school student, got ill with rheumatism. Medicine doesn’t work effectively.

Read an open letter written by Mrs. Honda HERE. ”

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