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.



Socializing halved mortality rate for those hit by 3/11 disaster

As reported by TSUYOSHI KAWAMURA in the Asahi Shimbun.

Of course, the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear catastrophe evacuees -- many of them elderly -- increased such deadly social isolation dramatically, as residents of an entire region were scattered to the wind, landing in evacuation shelters across Japan, isolated from their former family, friends, and neighbors.

For many of those who have survived, this has gone on for seven long years now.

But as the article indicates, not all have survived, due in part to their social isolation while living in, effectively, permanent nuclear evacuation from their former homes, cut off from many to most of their loved ones.


SEVEN YEARS AFTER: Radioactive debris piling up at Fukushima interim facility

As reported by TETSURO TAKEHANA in the Asahi Shimbun:

FUTABA, Fukushima Prefecture--Stacks of soil and other waste contaminated by the Fukushima nuclear disaster continue to grow at an interim storage facility here.

Black bags filled with radioactive debris collected during decontamination work in various locations in the prefecture have been brought to the facility since October, when operations started.

Heavy machinery is used to stack the bags, and green sheets now cover some of the piles.

The town of Futaba co-hosts the crippled Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant. The interim facility is expected to eventually cover about 1,600 hectares [3,950 acres] of land in Futaba and Okuma, the other co-host of the plant.

The government has acquired 801 hectares as of Jan. 29, and 70 percent of that space is already covered with contaminated debris.

Negotiations between the government and landowners are continuing for the remaining hectares.

The government plans to move the contaminated debris to a final disposal site outside the prefecture by March 2045. However, it has had difficulties finding local governments willing to accept the waste.


SEVEN YEARS AFTER: Surprise finding in Fukushima as radiation fears increase slightly

As reported by the Asahi Shimbun, a survey shows that a significant majority of those living in/near radioactively contaminated areas around the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant still harbor fears and concerns about numerous issues -- as rightfully they should!


SEVEN YEARS AFTER: Overburdened staff rebuilding Tohoku face even grimmer times

As reported by the Asahi Shimbun:

Half of the local governments in Iwate, Miyagi and Fukushima--the three hardest-hit prefectures in the March 11, 2011, disaster--expressed concerns about the physical and mental health of their employees.

“Although projects to rebuild are proceeding, the burden of each civil servant is increasing” due to a shortage of staff, said a local official, echoing the desperation shared by many others.

Questionnaires were sent to the 42 cities, towns and villages in coastal areas of the three prefectures between January and February. The municipalities included those ordered to evacuate following the accident at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant, triggered by the magnitude-9.0 Great East Japan Earthquake and tsunami.

According to the study, the number of backup employees was 1,358 in fiscal 2012, 1,353 in fiscal 2017 and will be 1,072 in fiscal 2018.

The article continues:

According to the ministry, the number of backup employees dispatched under its initiative in fiscal 2017 was 1,330, a year-on-year drop of 12 percent.

As of January, the number was 210 fewer than what the disaster-hit municipalities said they needed.

The study also showed that overtime work was increasing in 19 municipalities.

Eight of the 19 municipalities said their busiest workers were clocking 100 to 150 hours a month, beyond the central government’s 100-hour-a-month threshold for acknowledging the risks of “karoshi,” or death from overwork.

Five local governments cited 150 to 200 hours a month.

Nakayuki Fujiwara, a 43-year-old official at the Minami-Soma city government in Fukushima Prefecture, said he works more than four hours of overtime almost every day.

Parts of Minami-Soma are located within the 20-kilometer zone of the crippled Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant.

Fujiwara oversees dozens of central government-subsidized rebuilding projects, such as construction of a certified nursery school and agricultural facility within the 20-km zone.


Disaster is no stranger to residents of the Tohoku region

As reported by the Asahi Shimbun:

March 3 marked the 85th anniversary of the Sanriku Offshore Earthquake disaster that left more than 3,000 people dead or missing.

March 11 is the anniversary of the Great East Japan Earthquake that struck the same Pacific coastline in 2011, generating towering tsunami that left about 22,000 dead or missing.

The latter is also the start date for the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear catastrophe seven years ago, which is ongoing and has no end date (radioactive Cesium-137 and Strontium-90 have hazardous persistence lasting around 300 to 600 years -- 10 to 20 half-lives -- contaminants which have blanketed the region). 

Of course, there are critics who pointed out the risk of building nuclear power plants in such a seismically active area in the first place. One such person is Harvey Wasserman, who warned, in joke form, at an anti-nuclear event held in South Bend, IN in 1997 that future generations would look back at Japanese atomic reactors as earthquake fault line markers.