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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
Dec312014

"TEPCO's sloppy handling of suppressant led to spread of radioactive dust in 2013"

As reported by the Asahi Shimbun, it has been determined that the cause of large-scale radioactivity releases to air at Fukushima Daiichi was due to "sloppy handling" of dust suppressant, and a low priority placed on workers' and local residents' health and safety.

Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO) was found to have diluted dust suppressant chemicals in ten to one hundred times too much water, and instead of applying them once per day, sometimes only applied them once per two months.

A dozen workers were thus contaminated with radioactive dust, and fallout extended 3 km (2 mi), during debris removal at the ruins of the Fukushima Daiichi Unit 3 reactor in summer 2013.

Previous Asahi Shimbun articles have reported that radioactive dust escaping the debris removal operations fell out over a wide area, even tens of km downwind, contaminating rice crops.

Monday
Dec292014

"Fukushima mothers compile booklet derived from radiation seminars"

As reported by the Asahi Shimbun, the Veteran Mothers’ Society of Minami-Soma, working with a medical doctor since Dec. 2011 to educate themselves and others about the hazards of Fukushima Daiichi's radioactive fallout, have prepared booklets in English and Japanese compiling their lessons learned.

Monday
Dec292014

"Last recommended evacuation warning lifted in Fukushima, but many remain wary"

As reported by the Asahi Shimbun, the national government of Japan has lifted any remaining evacuation orders from the Fukushima Prefecuture town of Minami-Soma, near the wrecked reactors at Fukushima Daiichi.

The area had been under mandatory evacuation orders, the article reports, because:

"The districts in Minami-Soma were designated as such because they were at risk of exceeding the annual accumulated dose limit of 20 millisieverts, or 3.8 microsieverts per hour."

However, government decision makers had lifted the orders, because:

"Central government officials explained their latest decision to the residents and local officials, saying that the health risks are not expected because radiation levels in their sites now measure well below the designated limit of 20 millisieverts."

20 milliSieverts/year, or 2 Rem/year, is a large dose, however. It is the legal limit for radioactivity exposures to nuclear workers in Germany, for example.

"Health risks are not expected" flies in the face of U.S. NAS findings, affirmed for decades, that any exposure to ionizing radioactivity carries a health risk of cancer, and that these risks accumulate over a lifetime of exposures.

The 2 Rem/year "allowable" standard was an emergency level set in the aftermath of the beginning of the 3/11/11 nuclear catastrophe. Before the triple meltdown, the "allowable" level for members of the public had been 100 millirem/year, but this was increased 20-fold, in order to decrease the size of the evacuation area. The health consequences of this decision will unfold over time, in the lives of area residents never evacuated, or evacuees now being pressured to return to their radioactive homes.

Friday
Nov072014

Restart approval for Sendai reactors in Japan ignores science, safety

The governor of the Kagoshima prefecture in Japan, in approving the restart of the two Sendai reactors, has failed to understand the lessons of the Fukushima nuclear disaster and is ignoring science, safety and public opinion, Green Action stated today. All the reactors in Japan are currently closed. Sendai would mark the first two to restart. Aileen Mioko Smith (picured receiving the 2014 Nuclear-Free Future Award in a photo by Orla Connolly), executive director of Green Action which has long fought to end nuclear power in Japan, issued a strongly-worded press release on November 7. Green Action criticized the decision and called for activists around the world to continue to support the current zero nuclear situation in Japan. Read the full press release.

Thursday
Oct232014

Japan's timid coverage of Fukushima led this news anchor to revolt — and he's not alone

“ 'I am a newscaster, but I couldn't tell the true story on my news program,' says Jun Hori, a former anchor for NHK, the Japanese state broadcaster.

"Hori says the network restricted what he and other journalists could say about Fukushima and moved more slowly than foreign media to report on the disaster and how far radiation was spreading. The attitude in the newsroom was not to question official information.

" 'I was on the ground in Fukushima, and a lot of people kept asking me, why didn't you tell us earlier about what is happening?' Hori says.

"Out of frustration, Hori started tweeting uncensored coverage. 'I got a huge response,' he says, 'but then my superiors said the NHK was getting complaints from politicians about what I was saying. They told me I had to stop.' " PRI's The World

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