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Japan

Until the Fukushima accident, Japan had 55 operating nuclear reactors as well as enrichment and reprocessing plants which had suffered a series of deadly accidents at its nuclear facilities resulting in the deaths of workers and releases of radioactivity into the environment and surrounding communities. Since the Fukushima disaster, there is growing opposition against re-opening those reactors closed for maintenance.

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Tuesday
Jan272015

Demolition of symbol of triple calamity: earthquake, tsunami, nuclear catastrophe

As reported by the Asahi Shimbun, demolition crews are dismantling a haunting symbol of the 3/11/11 triple catastrophe of earthquake, tsunami, and nuclear catastrophe (the latter aspect still unfolding, nearly four years later): the central train station in Tomioko, less than 20 km south of Fukushima Daiichi.

The train station was inundated and destroyed by the tsunami. The entire town was then evacuated due to radioactive contamination.

More recently, visitors have been allowed back during daytime hours -- although Asahi Shimbun photos reveal that visitors wisely wear radiation protection suits and dust masks. (Is it enough? The article doesn't report radiation measurements in the air, dust, etc.).

Due to the risk of collapse, and the growing number of visitors to the symbolic site, the authorities have decided to take down the structures.

No date certain has been set for restoration of rail service in the quake and tsunami damaged, radioactively contaminated area.

Tuesday
Jan272015

"Mom’s anti-nuclear stance inspires film"

As reported by Kyodo and posted at Japan Times, the daughter of a long-time anti-nuclear activist who passed on in 1996 has been moved by the Fukushima nuclear catastrophe, and inspired by her mother's lead, to make a documentary film about the ravages of nuclear weapons and nuclear power in Japan and around the world.

Shizuko Sakata was "an ordinary person living in the quiet city of Suzaka, Nagano Prefecture," but moved to warn her fellow townspeople about nuclear dangers, after learning of radioactive pollution from her daughter Yuko, who had moved to the English Channel Islands, immediately downstream from the French radioactive waste reprocessing facility at La Hague.

Shizuko Sakata began publishing her own newsletter on nuclear matters in 1977, and handed them out to passersby in Suzaka, asking them "Could you listen to me?" Her many newsletters were collected into a book, entitled Please Listen.

Masako Sakata, Shizuko's daughter and Yuko's sister, is an environmental documentary filmmaker. She has traveled the world to nuclear hot spots, such as the Marshall Islands where the U.S. tested hydrogen bombs, and Kazakhstan, where the U.S.S.R. tested nuclear weapons. She has also traveled to Fukushima a number of times, carrying her mother's old radiation monitor with her.

Her film is entitled "Journey Without End," and will be available in Japanese and English versions.

Tuesday
Jan272015

"Fishermen oppose dumping radioactive water into sea"

As reported by JIJI and posted at Japan Times, "The National Federation of Fisheries Cooperative Associations called on the Abe administration Tuesday not to allow the release of radioactive water from the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant into the sea."

Tokyo Electric and the Abe administration are planning to begin releases in 2017, supposedly after radioisotopes such as Cesium-137, Cesium-134, Strontium-90, etc. are filtered out (where the contaminated filters will be stored or buried is not clear).

The article does not report, however, that tritium cannot be economically filtered out at an industrial scale. Thus, the official plan, currently, is simply to release the 100 million gallons of tritiated water into the ocean.

Tritium can go anywhere in the human body hydrogen goes, which is everywhere, such as right down to the DNA molecule, where it can cause damage, including genetic damage. Tritium bio-concentrates in the food chain -- just the dynamic the fishermen are concerned about.

Saturday
Jan242015

Childhood obesity included in "fallout" from Fukushima catastrophe

As reported by the Asahi Shimbun, the healthy fear of outdoor radioactive contamination, leading to severe or total restrictions on outdoor play by children, has led to a dramatic increase in childhood obesity in Fukushima Prefecture. Several age categories (7-years, 9, 11, 13) exhibited the increase in childhood obesity, with Fukushima Prefecture ranking as the worst, or second worst, of the 47 prefectures across Japan. In certain age groups, the childhood obesity in Fukushima Prefecture is twice the national average.

Saturday
Jan242015

High-tech experiment merely first, uncertain step to find Fukushima Daiichi's melted cores

As reported by the Asahi Shimbun, cosmic rays called muons will be studied in an attempt to see the "shadow" of what highly radioactive nuclear fuel may still remain in the melted down reactor cores at Fukushima Daiichi, starting with Unit 1.

Estimates vary from the optimistic -- perhaps half of the core remains in the reactor pressure vessel (RPV) -- to the likely more realistic -- "almost all" of the core melted through the bottom of the RPV, fell to the concrete floor beneath, and likely melted some distance down into the concrete and steel layers of the radiological containment structures, if not entirely through them. The exact status of the melted cores remains largely to entirely unknown, nearly four years after the nuclear catastrophe began.

The high-tech experiment is highly uncertain, and limited in its resolution, as well as what areas of the wrecked reactors can be examined.