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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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Wednesday
Oct092013

Fukushima Daiichi workers doused with highly radioactive water in mishap

As reported by AP, six Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant workers were doused with highly radioactive water after one of them mistakenly dismantled the wrong pipe on a storage tank.

7 tons (1,680 gallons) of highly radioactive water have been reported to have spilled out during the incident. The workers' radioactive exposure levels are still under investigation.

Wednesday
Oct092013

Will TEPCO be dissolved amidst ongoing crises and radioactive aftermath of Fukushima Daiichi nuclear catastrophe?

Tadamori Oshima, senior LDP adviserAs reported by Reuters, senior Liberal Democratic Party of Japan officials, such as Tadamori Oshima (photo, left) are seriously considering breaking up Tokyo Electric Power Company in response to its poor job of dealing with the radioactive aftermath of ongoing the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear catastrophe.

The Japanese national government effectively nationalized TEPCO. Now, considerations are under way to carve off the Fukushima Daiichi radioactive water contamination crises, as well as the site's decades-long decommissioning challenges (with a price tab beginning at $100 billion), from TEPCO's traditional electricity generating activities. Another major headache is the radioactive decontamination challenge over a region about as big as the U.S. state of Connecticut.

Thursday
Sep122013

Abe administration upset by French lampoon of Tokyo's successful bid to host 2020 Olympics despite worsening Fukushima Daiichi nuclear catastrophe

As reported by the Asahi Shimbun, the Abe administration plans to file a formal protest against a private French satirical magazine for two political cartoons that address the irony of Tokyo winning the bid to host the 2020 Olympics, despite the worsening radiological situation at Fukushima Daiichi, just 150 miles from Japan's capitol and largest city.

Monday
Sep092013

Stress-induced deaths in Fukushima top those from 2011 natural disasters

As reported by the Mainichi:

The number of deaths in Fukushima Prefecture caused mainly by stress from the nuclear disaster reached 1,539 at the end of August, almost equaling the 1,599 fatalities due directly to the 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake and tsunami, the Mainichi Shimbun has learned.

In addition, bereaved families have filed condolence money applications for at least 109 victims who they say died due to fatigue, stress and aggravated health conditions while living in evacuation shelters and temporary housing. If this number is added, deaths attributable to post-disaster conditions surpass the number of those killed directly by the March 11, 2011 quake and tsunami.

There have been cases of Fukushima residents whose health conditions worsened due to extended periods living as evacuees, as well as those who were driven to suicide.

The Reconstruction Agency had put the total number of these deaths at 1,383 at the end of March this year. According to a Mainichi survey of 25 cities, towns and villages in Fukushima that have certified disaster aftermath-related fatalities, a further 156 people passed away from such causes from April through August.

The city of Minamisoma led the tally at 431, followed by the town of Namie at 291, and the town of Tomioka at 190.

But many municipalities declined to specify the causes of those disaster aftermath-related deaths, saying they would affect future screenings of applications for condolence money.

The Reconstruction Agency's investigations into the causes of 734 deaths in Fukushima Prefecture based on data at the end of March last year show that 33.7 percent died from fatigue due to life in evacuation centers, 29.5 percent died from exhaustion due to relocation to evacuation centers or other locations, and 14.5 percent died of worsening illnesses after hospitals treating them stopped functioning. Nine people took their own lives.

As of the end of August this year, such aftermath-related deaths totaled 869 in Miyagi Prefecture and 413 in Iwate Prefecture.

Thursday
Sep052013

"Japan learns that Olympics and Fukushima radiation don't mix"

Dr. Edwin Lyman, Senior Scientist, Global Security Program, Union of Concerned ScientistsAs reported by EcoWatch, MSNBC's Rachel Maddow interviewed Dr. Edwin Lyman of the Union of Concerned Scientists (photo, left) about the worsening "radioactive soggy mess" at Fukushima Daiichi, two and a half years after the nuclear catastrophe begun, and what can be done about it. Maddow's "One Half-Life to Live" coverage of the nuclear catastrophe comes in the context of Japan's bid to host the 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo, just "two hours" from Fukushima Daiichi.

See EcoWatch's NUCLEAR section for past stories.