The Fukushima nuclear meltdown continues unabated — Helen Caldicott, Independent Australia

Helen Caldicott sums up the situation here:

” Recent reporting of a huge radiation measurement at Unit 2 in the Fukushima Daichi reactor complex does not signify that there is a peak in radiation in the reactor building.

All that it indicates is that, for the first time, the Japanese have been able to measure the intense radiation given off by the molten fuel, as each previous attempt has led to failure because the radiation is so intense the robotic parts were functionally destroyed.

The radiation measurement was 530 sieverts, or 53,000 rems (Roentgen Equivalent for Man). The dose at which half an exposed population would die is 250 to 500 rems, so this is a massive measurement. It is quite likely had the robot been able to penetrate deeper into the inner cavern containing the molten corium, the measurement would have been much greater.

These facts illustrate why it will be almost impossible to “decommission” units 1, 2 and 3 as no human could ever be exposed to such extreme radiation. This fact means that Fukushima Daichi will remain a diabolical blot upon Japan and the world for the rest of time, sitting as it does on active earthquake zones.

What the photos taken by the robot did reveal was that some of the structural supports of Unit 2 have been damaged. It is also true that all four buildings were structurally damaged by the original earthquake some five years ago and by the subsequent hydrogen explosions so, should there be an earthquake greater than seven on the Richter scale, it is very possible that one or more of these structures could collapse, leading to a massive release of radiation as the building fell on the molten core beneath. But units 1, 2 and 3 also contain cooling pools with very radioactive fuel rods — numbering 392 in Unit 1, 615 in Unit 2, and 566 in Unit 3; if an earthquake were to breach a pool, the gamma rays would be so intense that the site would have to be permanently evacuated. The fuel from Unit 4 and its cooling pool has been removed.

But there is more to fear.

The reactor complex was built adjacent to a mountain range and millions of gallons of water emanate from the mountains daily beneath the reactor complex, causing some of the earth below the reactor buildings to partially liquefy. As the water flows beneath the damaged reactors, it immerses the three molten cores and becomes extremely radioactive as it continues its journey into the adjacent Pacific Ocean.

Every day since the accident began, 300 to 400 tons of water has poured into the Pacific where numerous isotopes – including cesium 137, 134, strontium 90, tritium, plutonium, americium and up to 100 more – enter the ocean and bio-concentrate by orders of magnitude at each step of the food chain — algae, crustaceans, little fish, big fish then us.

Fish swim thousands of miles and tuna, salmon and other species found on the American west coast now contain some of these radioactive elements, which are tasteless, odourless and invisible. Entering the human body by ingestion they concentrate in various organs, irradiating adjacent cells for many years. The cancer cycle is initiated by a single mutation in a single regulatory gene in a single cell and the incubation time for cancer is any time from 2 to 90 years. And no cancer defines its origin.

We could be catching radioactive fish in Australia or the fish that are imported could contain radioactive isotopes, but unless they are consistently tested we will never know.

As well as the mountain water reaching the Pacific Ocean, since the accident, TEPCO has daily pumped over 300 tons of sea water into the damaged reactors to keep them cool. It becomes intensely radioactive and is pumped out again and stored in over 1,200 huge storage tanks scattered over the Daichi site. These tanks could not withstand a large earthquake and could rupture releasing their contents into the ocean.

But even if that does not happen, TEPCO is rapidly running out of storage space and is trying to convince the local fishermen that it would be okay to empty the tanks into the sea. The Bremsstrahlung radiation like x-rays given off by these tanks is quite high – measuring 10 milirems – presenting a danger to the workers. There are over 4,000 workers on site each day, many recruited by the Yakuza (the Japanese Mafia) and include men who are homeless, drug addicts and those who are mentally unstable.

There’s another problem. Because the molten cores are continuously generating hydrogen, which is explosive, TEPCO has been pumping nitrogen into the reactors to dilute the hydrogen dangers.

Vast areas of Japan are now contaminated, including some areas of Tokyo, which are so radioactive that roadside soil measuring 7,000 becquerels (bc) per kilo would qualify to be buried in a radioactive waste facility in the U.S..

As previously explained, these radioactive elements concentrate in the food chain. The Fukushima Prefecture has always been a food bowl for Japan and, although much of the rice, vegetables and fruit now grown here is radioactive, there is a big push to sell this food both in the Japanese market and overseas. Taiwan has banned the sale of Japanese food, but Australia and the U.S. have not.

Prime Minister Abe recently passed a law that any reporter who told the truth about the situation could be [jail]ed for ten years. In addition, doctors who tell their patients their disease could be radiation related will not be paid, so there is an immense cover-up in Japan as well as the global media.

The Prefectural Oversite Committee for Fukushima Health is only looking at thyroid cancer among the population and by June 2016, 172 people who were under the age of 18 at the time of the accident have developed, or have suspected, thyroid cancer; the normal incidence in this population is 1 to 2 per million.

However, other cancers and leukemia that are caused by radiation are not being routinely documented, nor are congenital malformations, which were, and are, still rife among the exposed Chernobyl population.

Bottom line, these reactors will never be cleaned up nor decommissioned because such a task is not humanly possible. Hence, they will continue to pour water into the Pacific for the rest of time and threaten Japan and the northern hemisphere with massive releases of radiation should there be another large earthquake. ”

by Helen Caldicott

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Japan decides to scrap trouble-plagued Monju prototype reactor — Nikkei Asian Review

” TOKYO (Kyodo) — The Japanese government formally decided Wednesday to decommission the Monju prototype fast-breeder nuclear reactor in western Japan’s Fukui Prefecture, which has barely operated over the past two decades despite its envisioned key role in the country’s nuclear fuel recycling policy.

The decision in a ministerial meeting Wednesday, concluding a process that has included discussion of Japan’s overall fast-reactor development policy by a government panel, comes despite failure to obtain local support for the plan.

The government has invested more than 1 trillion yen ($8.5 billion) in research and development for the reactor, having originally hoped it would serve as a linchpin of nuclear fuel recycling efforts as it was designed to produce more plutonium than it consumes while generating electricity.

With resource-poor Japan relying on uranium imports to power its conventional reactors, the government will continue to develop fast reactors in pursuit of a nuclear fuel cycle in which Japan seeks to reprocess spent fuel and reuse plutonium and uranium, extracted through reprocessing.

But Monju’s fate is sure to prompt further public scrutiny of the fuel cycle policy, with many nuclear reactors left idled after the 2011 Fukushima nuclear power plant disaster. The public also remains wary of nuclear power generation after the disaster.

With the facility’s decommissioning, and the accompanying loss of jobs and subsidies, the central government also risks damaging its rapport with Fukui, which hosts a number of other currently shuttered nuclear plants along the Sea of Japan coast.

The government has calculated it will cost at least 375 billion yen over 30 years to fully decommission Monju. It plans to remove the spent nuclear fuel from the reactor by 2022 and finish dismantling the facility in 2047.

Monju achieved sustained nuclear reactions, technically called criticality, in 1994. But it experienced a series of problems including a leakage of sodium coolant the following year and has been largely mothballed for the subsequent two decades.

Restarting operations at the plant would have cost at least 540 billion yen, according to government forecasts.

“We will decommission Monju given that it would take a considerable amount of time and expense to resume its operations,” Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga told Wednesday’s meeting.

“The nuclear fuel cycle is at the core of our energy policy,” Economy, Trade and Industry Minister Hiroshige Seko told reporters after the meeting. His ministry will take over from the science ministry in overseeing the development of more practical fast reactors.

“We will make full use of the highly valuable knowledge and expertise acquired at Monju as we move forward with fast reactor development…first by concentrating on creating a strategic roadmap,” Seko said.

Earlier Wednesday, the central government held a consultation meeting with Fukui Gov. Issei Nishikawa, who told reporters afterward that he remains opposed to the scrapping of the facility.

Nishikawa said in the meeting that decommissioning cannot begin without the approval of both the prefecture and the city of Tsuruga, where Monju is based.

“The governor told us today…that he wants a more thorough explanation of the specific mechanisms by which decommissioning will be carried out,” Seko said after the decision was made.

“We will create opportunities for dialogue with the local area.”

Nishikawa had said at a similar meeting Monday that the central government had not given enough justification for decommissioning Monju or considered the plant’s operation history sufficiently.

He has also argued that the Japan Atomic Energy Agency, which operates Monju, is incapable of safely dismantling the reactor.

A nuclear regulatory body recommended last year that the JAEA be disqualified from operating the facility following revelations of mismanagement, including a massive number of equipment inspection failures in 2012.

Science minister Hirokazu Matsuno instructed JAEA President Toshio Kodama on Wednesday to come up with a decommissioning plan by around April next year. The government has said it plans to take third-party technical opinions into account in working out how the decommissioning will take place. ”

by Nikkei Asian Review

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Japan finds itself backed into an atomic corner — SimplyInfo

” As Japan begins addressing some of their older nuclear facilities they are discovering the pain other nuclear nations have put themselves in.

The fuel reprocessing plant at Tokai began operating in the 1970’s, some 30 years after the US and UK began their nuclear programs. Officials in Japan are now realizing their facility may be suffering from some of the same short sighted practices.

These are just some of the dangerous conditions found at Tokai:

  • A nuclear waste storage pool with no purification system
  • Corroded barrels of nuclear waste, leaking and entangled in cables
  • Nuclear waste containers with no documentation, no one knows what is in them
  • Liquid waste with a deadly 1500 Sieverts per hour level of radiation
  • Potentially explosive high level nuclear waste

Workers will eventually open these undocumented barrels to see what is in them. This alone could be an extremely dangerous task. Cleaning up the facility is expected to take 70 years. The cost for the first 10 years alone is projected to be $1.92 billion dollars. This facility produced MOX nuclear fuel predominantly from commercial power reactor fuel from Japan’s nuclear power plants. It ceased production in 2006. New safety regulations put in place after the Fukushima disaster caused JAEA to permanently shut the facility. This facility ads to the growing list of nuclear facilities in Japan to face decommissioning.

Japan also has a plutonium problem. The country holds 48 tons of plutonium, enough to make 6000 nuclear bombs. They have been able to reprocess spent nuclear fuel to amass this stash of plutonium under an agreement with the US. This agreement allows them to reprocess nuclear fuel to make MOX fuel. The agreement forbids Japan from using their plutonium for nuclear weapons.

Monju and the foreign MOX program provided plausible excuses to continue possessing the plutonium. Plutonium could potentially be burned in Monju’s reactor. Sending spent nuclear fuel overseas to be turned into MOX provided another excuse that the program was not focused on weapons production. Keeping Monju alive in some manner kept the needed excuse in place. This may be the main reasoning behind starting another fast breeder reactor project in Japan. Even if it were never built, development research could buy Japan 10 years worth of time to avoid dealing with their plutonium issue.

Japan also lacks a viable permanent nuclear disposal facility. Seeing all of these current programs end would force the country to face that problem. As facilities reach end of life, are deemed unsafe or too costly, Japan then has to deal with what to do with them along with proving the country is not becoming a weapons proliferation risk. ”

by Nancy Foust, SimplyInfo

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*Joint appeal opposing the Indo-Japan Nuclear Cooperation Deal — Change.org

This petition was delivered to Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe  and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

” We strongly oppose the signing of the India-Japan Nuclear Cooperation Agreement (hereafter: ‘the Agreement’) during the Indian Prime Minister Mr. Modi’s upcoming visit to Japan, expected to be in mid November this year.

The purpose of this Agreement is to allow Japan to export nuclear technology to India, a country that has not signed the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) and in fact possesses nuclear weapons. With the cooperation of Japan, the only country that has experienced wartime nuclear attack, this Agreement will enable India to build nuclear reactors and it is believed it will also allow India to extract plutonium from spent fuel rods used in these reactors. With no effective international safeguards, there is a possibility that this plutonium could be used for military purposes. The already weak international non-proliferation regime, with NPT at its center, will be severely undermined with the legitimization of India’s nuclear weapons, which is, in effect what Japan is doing by signing this Agreement.

It is clear that by signing the Agreement, Japan will negate all its efforts towards global nuclear disarmament and abolition of nuclear weapons, based on its experiences of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Since September this year, tensions between nuclear-armed Pakistan and India over Kashmir have been boiling over, and the danger of a nuclear war erupting is escalating. It is clear that signing the Agreement this November will only increase the military tensions in South Asia.

Furthermore, the nuclear accident which shock the world at Fukushima Daiichi, is by no means over. The moral integrity of the Japanese government is being called into question globally as it tries to peddle its nuclear technology, not just to India, but around the world, when the victims of Fukushima have not even been compensated.

In India, citizens who are concerned about the dangers of nuclear power have mounted large-scale protests, which have been met with brutal repression. Compensation for land acquisition, safety measures in case of accidents, evacuation plans and general compensation is woefully inadequate.

The Japanese government, which has refused to release contents of the Agreement for the reason that it was under negotiation, is now preparing to force through the signing of the Agreement. This Agreement is highly problematic, as we have described above.

We strongly urge both governments not to sign the Agreement and to stop negotiations immediately.

Request

Not to sign the India-Japan Nuclear Cooperation Agreement and to stop negotiations immediately.

Campaign Opposing the India-Japan Nuclear Cooperation Agreement 2016  “

source with Japanese version

Reassessing the 3.11 disaster and the future of nuclear power in Japan: An Interview with former Prime Minister Kan Naoto — The Asia-Pacific Journal

” Introduction

For more than two decades, the global nuclear industry has attempted to frame the debate on nuclear power within the context of climate change: nuclear power is better than any of the alternatives. So the argument went. Ambitious nuclear expansion plans in the United States and Japan, two of the largest existing markets, and the growth of nuclear power in China appeared to show—superficially at least—that the technology had a future. At least in terms of political rhetoric and media perception, it appeared to be a winning argument. Then came March 11, 2011. Those most determined to promote nuclear power even cited the Fukushima Daiichi accident as a reason for expanding nuclear power: impacts were low, no one died, radiation levels are not a risk. So claimed a handful of commentators in the international (particularly English-language) media.

However, from the start of the accident at Fukushima Daiichi on March 11 2011, the harsh reality of nuclear power was exposed to billions of people across the planet, and in particular to the population of Japan, including the more than 160,000 people displaced by the disaster, many of whom are still unable to return to their homes, and scores of millions more threatened had worst case scenarios occurred. One authoritative voice that has been central to exposing the myth-making of the nuclear industry and its supporters has been that of Kan Naoto, Prime Minister in 2011. His conversion from promoter to stern critic may be simple to understand, but it is no less commendable for its bravery. When the survival of half the society you are elected to serve and protect is threatened by a technology that is essentially an expensive way to boil water, then something is clearly wrong. Japan avoided societal destruction thanks in large part to the dedication of workers at the crippled nuclear plant, but also to the intervention of Kan and his staff, and to luck. Had it not been for a leaking pipe into the cooling pool of Unit 4 that maintained sufficient water levels, the highly irradiated spent fuel in the pool, including the entire core only recently removed from the reactor core, would have been exposed, releasing an amount of radioactivity far in excess of that released from the other three reactors. The cascade of subsequent events would have meant total loss of control of the other reactors, including their spent fuel pools and requiring massive evacuation extending throughout metropolitan Tokyo, as Prime Minister Kan feared. That three former Prime Ministers of Japan are not just opposed to nuclear power but actively campaigning against it is unprecedented in global politics and is evidence of the scale of the threat that Fukushima posed to tens of millions of Japanese.

The reality is that in terms of electricity share and relative to renewable energy, nuclear power has been in decline globally for two decades. Since the Fukushima Daiichi accident, this decline has only increased in pace. The nuclear industry knew full well that nuclear power could not be scaled up to the level required to make a serious impact on global emissions. But that was never the point. The industry adopted the climate-change argument as a survival strategy: to ensure extending the life of existing aging reactors and make possible the addition of some new nuclear capacity in the coming decades—sufficient at least to allow a core nuclear industrial infrastructure to survive to mid-century. The dream was to survive to mid-century, when limitless energy would be realized by the deployment of commercial plutonium fast-breeder reactors and other generation IV designs. It was always a myth, but it had a commercial and strategic rationale for the power companies, nuclear suppliers and their political allies.

The basis for the Fukushima Daiichi accident began long before March 11th 2011, when decisions were made to build and operate reactors in a nation almost uniquely vulnerable to major seismic events. More than five years on, the accident continues with a legacy that will stretch over the decades. Preventing the next catastrophic accident in Japan is now a passion of the former Prime Minister, joining as he has the majority of the people of Japan determined to transition to a society based on renewable energy. He is surely correct that the end of nuclear power in Japan is possible. The utilities remain in crisis, with only three reactors operating, and legal challenges have been launched across the nation. No matter what policy the government chooses, the basis for Japan’s entire nuclear fuel cycle policy, which is based on plutonium separation at Rokkasho-mura and its use in the Monju reactor and its fantasy successor reactors, is in a worse state than ever before. But as Kan Naoto knows better than most, this is an industry entrenched within the establishment and still wields enormous influence. Its end is not guaranteed. Determination and dedication will be needed to defeat it. Fortunately, the Japanese people have these in abundance. SB

The Interview

Q: What is your central message?

Kan: Up until the accident at the Fukushima reactor, I too was confident that since Japanese technology is of high quality, no Chernobyl-like event was possible.

But in fact when I came face to face with Fukushima, I learned I was completely mistaken. I learned first and foremost that we stood on the brink of disaster: had the incident spread only slightly, half the territory of Japan, half the area of metropolitan Tokyo would have been irradiated and 50,000,000 people would have had to evacuate.

Half one’s country would be irradiated, nearly half of the population would have to flee: to the extent it’s conceivable, only defeat in major war is comparable.

That the risk was so enormous: that is what in the first place I want all of you, all the Japanese, all the world’s people to realize.

Q: You yourself are a physicist, yet you don’t believe in the first analysis that people can handle nuclear power? Don’t you believe that there are technical advances and that in the end it will be safe to use?

Kan: As a rule, all technologies involve risk. For example, automobiles have accidents; airplanes, too. But the scale of the risk if an accident happens affects the question whether or not to use that technology. You compare the plus of using it and on the other hand the minus of not using it. We learned that with nuclear reactors, the Fukushima nuclear reactors, the risk was such that 50,000,000 people nearly had to evacuate. Moreover, if we had not used nuclear reactors—in fact, after the incident, there was a period of about two years when we didn’t use nuclear power and there was no great impact on the public welfare, nor any economic impact either. So when you take these factors as a whole into account, in a broad sense there is no plus to using nuclear power. That is my judgment.

One more thing. In the matter of the difference between nuclear power and other technologies, controlling the radiation is in the final analysis extremely difficult.

For example, plutonium emits radiation for a long time. Its half-life is 24,000 years, so because nuclear waste contains plutonium—in its disposal, even if you let it sit and don’t use it—its half-life is 24,000 years, in effect forever. So it’s a very difficult technology to use—an additional point I want to make.

Q: It figured a bit ago in the lecture by Professor Prasser, that in third-generation reactors, risk can be avoided. What is your response?

Kan: It’s as Professor Khwostowa said: we’ve said that even with many nuclear reactors, an event inside a reactor like the Fukushima nuclear accident or a Chernobyl-sized event would occur only once in a million years; but in fact, in the past sixty years, we’ve had Three Mile Island, Chernobyl, Fukushima. Professor Prasser says it’s getting gradually safer, but in fact accidents have happened with greater frequency and on a larger scale than was foreseen. So partial improvements are possible, as Professor Prasser says, but saying that doesn’t mean that accidents won’t happen. Equipment causes accidents, but so do humans.

Q: Today it’s five years after Fukushima. What is the situation in Japan today? We hear that there are plans beginning in 2018 to return the refugees to their homes. To what extent is the clean-up complete?

Kan: Let me describe conditions on site at Fukushima. Reactors #1, #2, #3 melted down, and the melted nuclear fuel still sits in the containment vessel; every day they introduce water to cool it. Radioactivity in the vessel of #2, they say, is 70 sieverts—not microsieverts or millisieverts, 70 sieverts. If humans approach a site that is radiating 70 sieverts, they die within five minutes. That situation has held ever since: that’s the current situation.

Moreover, the water they introduce leaves the containment vessel and is said to be recirculated, but in fact it mixes with groundwater, and some flows into the ocean. Prime Minister Abe used the words “under control,” but Japanese experts, including me, consider it not under control if part is flowing into the ocean. All the experts see it this way.

As for the area outside the site, more than 100,000 people have fled the Fukushima area.

So now the government is pushing residential decontamination and beyond that the decontamination of agricultural land.

Even if you decontaminate the soil, it’s only a temporary or partial reduction in radioactivity; in very many cases cesium comes down from the mountains, it returns.

The Fukushima prefectural government and the government say that certain of the areas where decontamination has been completed are habitable, so people have until 2018 to return; moreover, beyond that date, they won’t give aid to the people who have fled. But I and others think there’s still danger and that the support should be continued at the same level for people who conclude on their own that it’s still dangerous—that’s what we’re saying.

Given the conditions on site and the conditions of those who have fled, you simply can’t say that the clean-up is complete.

Q: Since the Fukushima accident, you have become a strong advocate of getting rid of nuclear reactors; yet in the end, the Abe regime came to power, and it is going in the opposite direction: three reactors are now in operation. As you see this happening, are you angry?

Kan: Clearly what Prime Minister Abe is trying to do—his nuclear reactor policy or energy policy—is mistaken. I am strongly opposed to current policy.

But are things moving steadily backward? Three reactors are indeed in operation. However, phrase it differently: only three are in operation. Why only three? Most—more than half the people—are still resisting strongly. From now on, if it should come to new nuclear plants, say, or to extending the licenses of existing nuclear plants, popular opposition is extremely strong, so that won’t be at all easy. In that sense, Japan’s situation today is a very harsh opposition—a tug of war—between the Abe government, intent on retrogression, and the people, who are heading toward abolishing nuclear reactors.

Two of Prime Minister Abe’s closest advisors are opposed to his policy on nuclear power.

One is his wife. The other is former Prime Minister Koizumi, who promoted him.

Q: Last question: please talk about the possibility that within ten years Japan will do away with nuclear power.

Kan: In the long run, it will disappear gradually. But if you ask whether it will disappear in the next ten years, I can’t say. For example, even in my own party opinion is divided; some hope to do away with it in the 2030s. So I can’t say whether it will disappear completely in the next ten years, but taking the long view, it will surely be gone, for example, by the year 2050 or 2070. The most important reason is economic. It has become clear that compared with other forms of energy, the cost of nuclear energy is high.

Q: Thank you. ”

Interview by Vincenzo Capodici

Introduction by Shaun Burnie

Translation by Richard Minear

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**Internal exposure concealed: The True state of the Fukushima nuclear power plant accident — Yagasaki Katsuma, The Asia-Pacific Journal

Yagasaki Katsuma’s article (below) is by far the most complete, well-researched and truthful account of radiation exposure to the Japanese as a result of the Fukushima meltdowns that I have read thus far. I highly recommend that you read this entire article. – MP

” Yagasaki Katsuma, emeritus professor of Ryukyu University, has been constantly sounding the alarm about the problem of internal exposure related to nuclear weapons testing and nuclear electricity generation. Since the explosion at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant (NPP), he has drawn on his expertise to conduct field research, and to support those who evacuated to Okinawa. We asked him to reflect on the five years since the accident at Fukushima Daiichi, and to lay out the issues that lie ahead.

Heading to the blast site 12 days post-explosion

On March 17, 2011, a friend who lived in Fukushima City contacted me. “They’re reporting an onslaught of radioactivity, but we have no idea about any of that”, he said. “We need dosimeters, but there’s no way to get our hands on them.”

I ended up making my way to Fukushima along with several dosimeters for measuring radioactivity. I set up the dosimeters. Fukushima was under a petrol provision restriction, and I could not travel freely. I needed to make arrangements for an “emergency vehicle” to use. I had left Okinawa on March 24, traveled via Osaka by plane to Fukushima Airport, and entered Fukushima City by a bus that went through Kōriyama. The Japan Railways (JR) trains had stopped running. It had been 12 days since the first explosion, which had occurred at reactor No. 1 of the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant (NPP). It snowed the next morning, and I saw that a torrent of radioactivity – 12 microsieverts/hour – was relentlessly falling on the living spaces of Fukushima’s citizens.

From March 25 to 31, I went to eight areas to measure radiation doses in the air, farmland and water: Fukushima City, Iwaki City, Aizu-Wakamatsu City, Kitakata City, Minami-Sōma City, Kōriyama City, Iitate Village, and Kita-Shiobara Village. I engaged in discussions with farmers and other locals about what steps they should take.

At the time, the dose readings from farmland went down by half when just the top layer of weeds and straw litter were removed; digging 3 cm deep reduced the readings by 80%. So I suggested that if people did not plant crops this year, and removed 5 cm of topsoil from their land, they could prevent future batches of crops from radioactive contamination. It was a situation in which both national and local governments were at a loss about what to do; they could not even come up with countermeasures, and were practically without policies. In the end, apart from a few enterprising farmers who followed my recommendations, most farm-owners felt compelled to plant crops, and ended up ploughing the soil to spread radiation up to 20 cm deep.

Of the 2 dosimeters I had brought with me to conduct my survey, I lent one to a farmers’ union for one year, thus doing what I could for them in terms of temporary assistance.

No Measures to Protect Residents

One of the things which stunned me was the absoluteness of the safety myth (anzen shinwa). Even though radioactive dust was falling, no one knew anything about how to protect their bodies. The local governments had not a single dosimeter among them. The evacuation manual for NPP accidents used in Fukushima City’s elementary schools was exactly the same as the evacuation manual for earthquakes.

Furthermore, all attempts to talk about demonstrations of the danger of NPPs were categorically suppressed. Herein lies the root of why no countermeasures were taken to protect residents from radioactivity. No stable iodine tablets were distributed; no SPEEDI (System for Prediction of Environmental Emergency Dose Information) data was announced, and so on.

Before the accident, I had published a book called Concealed Radiation Exposure in 2009 with Shin Nihon Shuppansha, which expounded my view that internal exposure was a hidden kind of exposure more dangerous than external exposure.

The Atomic Bomb Casualty Commission (ABCC) and the Radiation Effects Research Foundation (RERF) have suppressed information about those sacrificed in the atomic bombings. The International Commission for Radiation Protection (ICRP) has concealed the issue of internal exposure in the context of their commitment to the cause of the United States’ nuclear strategy.1 The Fukushima Daiichi NPP accident, through multiple explosions, has scattered between one hundred and several thousand more radioactive materials than the Hiroshima bomb into the environment, resulting in health damage caused by internal exposure. This would ineluctably lead the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and the ICRP to cover up internal exposure and exposure casualties. In other words, I believed that they would do everything they could to cast off health damage to Fukushima residents, and support the Japanese government’s policies to abandon its own citizens. This is what drove me to rush down to Fukushima.

The Accident on Televised Programmes

For two years in 2011 and 2012, I delivered more than 120 lectures each year, and held interviews with the mass media. The mass media did courageously report on the reality and danger of internal exposure, but a distressing incident occurred in the process. This happened during my appearance, on July 2, 2011, as a guest on NHK Television’s Weekly News Insights.

The NHK flipchart that disappeared was based on this graph. 2

I had asked them to make a flipboard for me which showed data on how the rate of child cancer deaths in Japan had jumped five years after the atomic bombings of 1945 to three times their original rate (see graph). It was data which clearly demonstrated that these children were the world’s first casualties of internal exposure. The night before the show, I was handed a script and sat in a meeting discussing the show until past 10 PM. However, the next morning, when I headed to NHK, the director told me that due to time constraints, we could not follow the script we had discussed the previous night. On entering the studio, the flipboard which I had expected to be at my feet was nowhere to be seen. When I asked a nearby staff member to please bring it for me, quickly, the reply was that they could not do that. With 30 seconds to go before showtime, I had no choice but to appear on the show bereft of my data.

The following day, when I requested a written explanation of these events, NHK did not oblige me. Faced against my will with such a situation, I feel strongly that I am responsible for not being able to properly deal with it.

The Society for Connecting Lives

My deceased wife, Okimoto Yaemi, established a society called “Connecting Lives – The Society to Connect Okinawa with Disaster Sites” together with Itō Michiko, an evacuee from Fukushima, and others. They demanded that the Tokyo Electric Power Company explain compensation claims to the victims of the disaster, and even made them come to Okinawa to explain this in person to the evacuees here. It was the first time TEPCO had traveled outside of Fukushima Prefecture to hold an information session. In Okinawa, a group of plaintiffs for a lawsuit to “return our livelihoods, return our region” also came together. 3

In the midst of all her work, Okimoto always came to send me off and to pick me up from Naha Airport. Now that she is gone, I have taken up her role as the representative for the “Connecting Lives” society.

After the accident, the melted-down reactor core was too radioactive to be properly disposed of. It is clear as day from this fact alone that nuclear power generation should not be permitted. In these 5 years, there has been a regime brimming with pollution: it is manifest in things like the lack of intelligence and care on the part of the Japanese government, the utilitarianism that places profits and power above human rights, and the political concealment of the worst environmental radiation disaster in history.

******

It is now 5 years since the Fukushima Daiichi accident, and we are in an abnormal state of affairs in which TEPCO and the national government are forcing people to silently accept their victimization.

Under the Atomic Energy Basic Law, the maximum annual exposure limit for the public is set at 1 millisievert. But people are being forced to accept a revised threshold that is 20 times larger, that of 20 millisieverts per year.

In Fukushima Prefecture, the cessation of compensation payments and the lifting of the evacuation order in highly contaminated regions has forced people to return, at the same time that housing support for the evacuees is also being ended. Of course, there are no measures at all in place to deal with radioactivity outside Fukushima Prefecture.

The Chernobyl NPP accident of 1986 led Ukraine (also Belarus and Russia) to establish laws that protected human rights, which stands in great contrast with the human rights situation surrounding the Fukushima Daiichi NPP accident.4

Claiming Radiation Effects as Psychological

The media reports on the occasion of 3.11’s 5th anniversary contain references to the “fūhyō higai” (damage caused by rumors of radiation) that they claim is hampering the reconstruction process. Why do they not call this as it is, “radioactivity damage”? “Fūhyō higai”is a term that they use in order to replace radiation effects as psychological problems.

Under appointment of the IAEA, Shigematsu Itsuzō (now deceased), the former chairman of RERF (formerly ABCC), carried out a health survey of Chernobyl residents. He remarked in a report he made in 1990 that “there are virtually no diseases that are caused by radiation, but attention must be paid to the psychological stress that is caused by wondering whether or not one has been exposed to radiation”. The theory that “psychological stress causes illness” is a method used to conceal the radiation victimization of the nuclear age.

In Chernobyl, uncontaminated food was distributed to residents of contaminated areas. Respite trips for children are also ensured by the state. And yet, in Fukushima, there is a huge push to “support by consumption” (tabete ouen) and the administration has implemented a policy of “locally-grown and locally-consumed” in providing children’s school lunches. Japan is not attempting to avoid internal exposure as Chernobyl-affected states did; it is doing the exact opposite.

What is at the bottom of this response? Whether it is protecting residents from radiation exposure, or decommissioning of the melted reactor core, or indeed dealing with the contamination of underground water, there are numerous things that need to be addressed even by diverting the budgets of the forthcoming Tokyo Olympics. However, the Japanese government is trying to overcome all these issues with cheaper costs at the expense of people’s suffering. Underlying this is their utilitarianism – an ideology which prioritizes economics over human rights and human lives – as well as their philosophy of abandoning the people.

Following what the government is saying, one is left speechless. “If it’s under 100 becquerels, then sell it [produce]”; “If you don’t sell it you won’t be able to support yourself”; “If you talk about radioactivity you won’t be able to sell [your produce]”; “Don’t talk about radioactivity”. Media reports are controlled by the government, and people can only remain silent.

Providing safe food is the mission of agriculture. Surely there is no more cruel infraction of human rights than to force producers, against their will, to make food that might adversely affect human health by radioactive contamination. There is no solution to this injustice other than to get rid of this system that has been imposed by fiat. Although farmers’ labors have lowered the amount of radioactive contamination in their produce, tragedies will continue as long as they keep the allowable radioactivity in food up to 100 becquerels/kilogram.

Such standard stems from the thinking that economic profits comes before health. Radioactivity even in small amounts can cause harm. International Commission on Radiological Protection has it that carcinogenesis starts with DNA mutation of a single cell. Human susceptibility to radioactivity depends on individuals, and more vulnerable ones, particularly fetuses are affected first. The natural miscarriage rate of the four prefectures including Fukushima since 311 has risen by 13%.5

Consumption of one becquerel of C-137 (with biological half-life of approximately 80 days) every day will result in an internal accumulation of 140 becquerels within about 2 years. If we have to inevitably set any standard for allowable radioactivity in food, we should use the guidelines set forth in the recommendation by German Society for Radiation Protection, which is “no food with a concentration of more than 4 becquerel of the leading radionuclide Cesium-137 per kilogram shall be given to infants, children and adolescents. Grown-ups are recommended to eat no food over 8 becquerel per kilogram of the leading nuclide Cesium-137.”6

Deceitful Dosimetry

The Japanese government’s philosophy of abandoning its people starts with its refusal to trust them, in other words it views them as unintelligent citizens. Fearing that a panic would result, it did not announce SPEEDI data, nor did it distribute solid iodine tablets. It prioritized “emotional stability” over protecting residents from radiation danger. Moreover, it implemented thorough control of information.

It is not simply that residents are seen as ignorant. The government has even actively betrayed their trust. A classic example of such actions by the state is the presentation of data on the radioactive contamination levels in the environment. The government set up monitoring posts (MP) in Fukushima Prefecture and neighboring prefectures and made the readings from them into official data. Along with Yoshida Kunihiro and others from the “Safety and Reassurance Project”, in the autumn of 2011, I checked the dose measurements of the MP. We found clear evidence that the publicly available data of the MP only showed 54% of the actual level of contamination in our readings.

Comparison of Radiation Dose Readings from the Monitoring Posts and Actual Doses

X-axis: amount of radiation (microsieverts/hour

Y-axis: actual doses for residents and measurements at monitoring posts

Black dot-dash line: Actual absorbed dose received by residents

Dotted red line: Measurements at monitoring posts without decontamination

Red line: Measurements at monitoring posts with decontamination

[When laid alongside a graph of the actual recorded radiation doses taken by the authors at the monitoring posts (black line; the absorbed dose to residents), the same displayed readings taken from the same monitoring posts were 58% of that value in the case of non-decontaminated areas and 51% for decontaminated areas.]

[2011 autumn, taken with a certified scintillator counter, model HITACHI-ALOKA YCS172B]

On top of that, there was also a deliberate downplaying in government processing of the numerical data. The level of soil contamination is directly related to the amount of radiation in the air, and an objective measurement of this thus should be obtained from the air dose. However, on the assumption that there is a uniform exposure dose to the whole body, this reading was converted to 60% of its full amount based on the projected dose, an amount called the “effective dose”, a number that divides the exposure dose among the body’s various organs. Furthermore, they made a hypothetical estimate of the time people spent inside and outside their homes, and created a “substantive dose” reading that was another 60% lower. In the background to these machinations lies the will of the international nuclear energy industry.

The health survey being conducted by the Fukushima Prefecture Health Survey Evaluation Committee continues to progress, and the sad news is that it has already located 163 cases of cancer. From a scientific point of view, it is clear that these cases are undeniably caused by radioactivity. I also found, from the ratio of male to female patients, that about 75% of cancers in each sex were induced by radiation. Despite this, the Evaluation Committee continues to assert that there is no proof that these cancers are linked to the NPP accident.

Just as the committee insists that the numerous stark cases of thyroid cancer are not linked to radioactivity, so they will attempt to bury all other adverse health impacts in the sand.

******

Environmental pollution by radiation in Japan is ongoing, and, following the Fukushima Daiichi NPP accident, it is the worst it has ever been. This is true whether we look at the amount of radioactivity being released via the long-term meltdown of the reactor core, which is spewing uncontrollably, while the government and mass media collaborate in the cover-up. From the standpoints of society, economics and preventative medicine, a terrible state of affairs will result if we do not provide public protection to the people affected by the accidents and clarify the nature and extent of environmental damage.

“Cheaper” Countermeasures

The Japanese government has deemed the amount of radioactivity released from the Fukushima accident as one sixth of that which was released from Chernobyl. However, the subsequent revelations suggest that Fukushima’s radioactivity is actually anywhere from 2 to 4 times as high as Chernobyl’s.7 Compared to the explosion of just one reactor at Chernobyl, which had a 1,000,000 kilowatt capacity, the explosion at Fukushima Daiichi involved 4 reactors with a combined output of 2,810,000 kilowatts.

The post-accident maintenance of nuclear reactors between Fukushima and Chernobyl also differs. Seven months after Chernobyl, a steel and cement sarcophagus was built to cover the reactor, thus stopping the further release of radioactive materials. Japan, even after 5 years, continues to let radioactive substances spew out into the air and water, thus worsening the world’s environment.

Without using the necessary basic procedures, they are simply trying to implement “cheaper” countermeasures. The fact that the stricken reactor cannot be managed alone can demonstrate that nuclear power lacks practicality and there is no choice but to abolish it.

As mentioned before, Japan is not honestly disclosing the degree of contamination and is using various measures to underestimate it. They have not published dose readings for radioactive nuclides such as uranium, plutonium, and strontium-90. The monitoring posts, which are supposed to provide public data of radioactivity, give readings that are only around half of the actual doses.

Pediatric thyroid cancer cases in Fukushima have risen to 163. It has been proven scientifically that these are due to radiation. (Tsuda Toshihide et al. have demonstrated this via statistics8; Takamatsu Isamu has examined the relationship between exposure dose and cancer onset rate9; Matsuzaki Michiyuki10 and Yagasaki Katsuma11have studied the relationship of radiation with the sex-differentiated ratio of cancer).

In response to this research, the Fukushima Prefectural Health Evaluation Committee has continued to insist that there is no clear link between cancer and the NPP accident. They are trying to bury all the injuries to health by this denial of a link between radioactivity and the many recorded cases of thyroid cancer. By expunging the record of health damages caused by radiation, they hope to heighten the false impression that NPPs are “safe”. In Japan, excessive utilitarianism goes unmentioned; companies’ profits and the state’s convenience take priority over human life.

The Systemization of Dispersal

The countries surrounding Chernobyl created a “Chernobyl Law” to protect their residents 5 years after the accident. Under this law, the government designated areas that received more than 0.5 millisieverts of radiation each year as “dangerous”, and areas that received between 1 and 5 millisieverts of radiation each year as “areas with relocation rights”, while areas receiving more than 5 millisieverts each year could not be used as residential or agricultural sites. Health checkups and respite trips for children have been covered in a massive budgetary investment by the state in order to protect its residents.

What about Japan? The legal exposure limit for the public is 1 millisievert per year. As previously mentioned, the government has raised the upper threshold to 20 millisieverts per year in their drive to push Fukushima residents to return. The Chernobyl law forbids residence and agriculture in areas where more than 5 millisieverts (per year) of irradiation is expected; in Japan, approximately 1,000,000 people live in such areas.

Under the Basic Law on Atomic Energy, which governs nuclear reactors and related phenomena, the standard for radioactive waste management (the level considered for safe recycling use) is 100 becquerels per kilogram. Notwithstanding this rule, the special law for measures to handle contamination by radioactive substances permits up to 8000 becquerels per kilogram. Contamination dispersal is thus becoming systematized.

A law to support child victims was established, but no maps of radioactive contamination were made, and the areas specified to receive assistance under this law’s “Basic Policy” are limited to Fukushima Prefecture. With this law they have thus made all areas outside Fukushima Prefecture ineligible to receive radioactivity countermeasures.

When looking at the measurements taken by the Nuclear Regulation Authority of the contamination levels in all prefectures, we see that contamination exists everywhere in the country, Okinawa being no exception.

In particular, eastern Japan shows high levels of contamination. 10 prefectures show contamination of more than 1,000 becquerels of Iodine-131 per square meter of land –Tochigi, Ibaraki, Tokyo, Yamagata, Saitama, Chiba, Gunma, Kanagawa, Nagano, and Shizuoka (Readings for Fukushima and Miyagi were not available for a period of time because the measurement equipment were destroyed by the earthquake and tsunami, but other sources confirm high I-131 dispersion in Fukushima). 11 prefectures show more than 1,000 becquerels of Cesium-137, and Cesium-134 – Fukushima, Tochigi, Ibaraki, Tokyo, Yamagata, Saitama, Chiba, Gunma, Kanagawa, Iwate, and Nagano.

These readings are taken from a fixed point, which means that if a radioactive plume does not pass over these points, it will not be measured, and is liable to produce an under-estimation gap by 1 to 2 digits.

Although the Ministry of Education has implemented airborne monitoring, cities with a density of buildings higher than 3 stories present obstacles to this technology, making it unable to record their levels of contamination. Severe contamination is concealed in the Tokyo metropolitan area and other places in the region.

Legal Protection of Citizens

The above facts demonstrate an intentional ignoring of the serious level of radiation pollution. Japanese citizens should recognize radioactivity pollution as a de facto state of affairs.

In order to protect Japanese citizens from radioactivity pollution, the government and administration should take responsibility for protecting victims via a swift application of the regulations exactly as they are laid out under the Basic Law on Atomic Energy. Here we raise some suggestions for administrative policies to enact not only towards evacuees, but all residents. 1. The state should recognize and guarantee citizens’ right to evacuate and relocate. It should also bear responsibility in enacting measures to protect vulnerable victims, especially children.

  1. Health damages that emerge from NPP accidents should be studied on a nation-wide scale, and a study of the conditions of evacuees should be quickly implemented.
  2. Those most vulnerable to radiation should be protected by measures based on a sincere commitment to preventive medicine.
  3. With regard to the numerous early-onset cases of child thyroid cancer that have far exceed such early cases caused by Chernobyl, medical care and compensation should be provided; children and all residents should be protected. Thyroid screening should also be carried out for the entire country.
  4. Measures to prevent the entrance and exit of radioactive substances in all regions should be enacted.
  5. TEPCO’s social responsibility as a victimizer corporation in radioactivity pollution should be clarified.

This is a translation of a modified version of Yagasaki’s three-part article series “Kakusareru naibu hibaku – Fukushima genpatsu jiko no shinso” that appeared in Ryukyu Shimpo on March 16, 17, and 18, 2016. ”

by Yagasaki Katsuma

source with internal reference citations