Fukushima Update Summer 2016, by Kick Nuclear London

Fukushima Update Summer 2016

Five years after the triple meltdowns at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant in Japan, 400 tonnes a day of radioactive water continues to pour into the Pacific Ocean. There are now over 30 million 1-tonne, 1m3 black plastic bags containing radioactive debris from the ‘cleanup’, piling up along the coast, in fields, around blocks of flats, along the edge of school grounds. These bags were designed to last a maximum of 5 years but there is still no permanent home for them – and there won’t be until at least 2020.

Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant was built on an ancient riverbed. For the last five years, water coming from the hills behind the site has poured down this old riverbed, passing through the multiple cracks and holes in the basements of the reactor buildings, where it mixes with the escaped nuclear fuel, becoming radioactive before flowing on into the Pacific Ocean. About 400 tonnes a day. In order to stop this flow, site owners Tepco (Tokyo Electric Power Company) have attempted to surround the plant with an ‘ice wall’. Brine, cooled to -30 degrees C, passes through pipes set into the ground, freezing the soil around them. One problem with this is that the ice wall only goes down 30 metres. Any cracks, fissures or porosity in the bedrock beneath it will provide a route for the deadly contamination to find its way into the ocean – for centuries. Another problem is the risk of thawing should there be an interruption to the electricity required to freeze and maintain the ice wall – also for centuries. A third problem is that now the size of the pool of lethal water has been increased, from inside the building basements to the much larger area within the ice wall as well. In the event of an earthquake fracturing the ice wall or the bedrock beneath the site, this pool will escape. Also the newly waterlogged ground within the ice wall could cause the reactor buildings to subside. Tepco recently admitted that the ice wall will let through 50 tonnes of contaminated water a day anyway. Better than 400, but still a permanent ecological catastrophe.

Meanwhile, the 800,000 tonnes of poisoned water in tanks on the site remains a problem. Tepco claim to be filtering the worst radionuclides out through the ALPS filter process. This produces a thick, highly radioactive sludge which still needs to be stored. And the remaining water still contains tritium – radioactive hydrogen – which cannot be safely removed [1]. Tepco want to dump this in the Pacific, claiming that it will be diluted and therefore not a problem. However they are finding it hard to convince local people, including fishermen, that this is a good idea.

Last year Tepco finished removing the used nuclear fuel from reactor 4. But there are still tonnes of used nuclear fuel in large, swimming pool-like ‘spent fuel pools’ on top of reactor buildings 1, 2 and 3. These are harder to work on due to the massive levels of radioactivity in the buildings. Should another earthquake collapse the buildings or crack and drain the pools, the exposed fuel would catch fire and release massive amounts of radioactivity, causing a global catastrophe.

Tepco have begun preparations to empty spent fuel pool 3, which involves a new floor, 6 metres above the roof, with a 75 tonne crane, and 22 cameras so that workers can operate all this remotely. We’ll just have to wait and see how this turns out, again hoping nothing goes wrong.

Why are Tepco stopping work at Fukushima Daiichi for 2 days during the 42nd G7 summit? The venue is 700km away in Mie prefecture. Does work at Fukushima pose a risk to the bigwig delegates? If so, does it not also pose a risk to the citizens of Japan during the other 363 days of the year?

During the recent multiple earthquakes on the island of Kyushu, the Abe administration ordered NHK, the Japanese equivalent to the BBC, to only repeat government statements and consult no external experts. Not wanting anything to get in the way of restarting the other nuclear power plants?

Back in 2012, Prime Minister Noda established a policy to phase out nuclear power by 2030. Giving the impression that it represented the official views of the US, Washington DC-based think tank Centre for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) was among those who strongly objected and when Shinzo Abe became PM in December 2012 he overturned the nuclear phase-out policy. In 2014 CSIS revealed that it had received at least $500,000 from Japan – one of its top three donors. Other CSIS donors from this time include a number of Japanese and US nuclear industry companies … [2] [3]

But perhaps the main feature of this 5th year of the catastrophe is the process of forgetting Fukushima. Having denied that there had even been a meltdown for the first two months, when they knew at the end of the first day they had one meltdown, and knew within three days that they had three meltdowns, Tepco and the Japanese government now insist that it is the evacuations and the fear of radiation that cause stress and death, not the radiation itself. Is it better that the population remain in place, quietly absorbing radiation, and concentrate on remaining cheerful and optimistic? Many of the 100,000 evacuees are to have their compensation cut off and are being told it’s safe to return to areas that have up to 20 milliSieverts a year (mSv/yr) of radiation. Yet in Chernobyl areas with 1-5mSv/yr were ‘areas with relocation rights’, while areas over 5mSv could not be lived in or even farmed. Under the Japanese Atomic Energy Basic Law, the maximum annual exposure limit for the public used to be set at 1 mSv. But people are now being forced to accept a revised threshold 20 times greater.

The word ‘radiophobia’ is being used to describe the Japanese peoples’ fear of radiation. As if fear were the problem and not the huge amounts of dangerous radioactivity initially released, and the chronic internal exposure to low-level radiation via the ingestion of contaminated food and water and the inhalation of radioactive dust. People whose kids run a high temperature, have nosebleeds, develop a cancer, are told that their worry about radiation is irrational. All so that the other nuclear power plants can be restarted, so that money can be made and ‘restoration’ can proceed, in time for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics? This is, perhaps, the greatest crime to emerge from this tragedy.


[2] www.fukuleaks.org/web/?p=15416

[3] http://carnegieendowment.org/2015/09/29/wagging-plutonium-dog-japanese-domestic-politics-and-its-international-security-implications-pub-61425

Produced by Kick Nuclear, London: www.kicknuclear.com

previous Fukushima Updates can be found here

福島 最新情報 2016年夏












日本では「放射線恐怖症」という言葉が使われています。危険な放射性物質が大量に放出され、汚染された食品や水の摂取、放射性埃の吸気被曝で低線量の内部被曝を慢性的に強いられながら、あたかも恐れを抱くことが問題であるかのような表現です。子どもたちが熱や鼻血を出し、がんを発症しているのに、被曝を心配するのが非合理的だと言われるのです。他の原発を再稼働するために、経済的な利益を得るために、「復興」が進むために、そして 2020年の東京オリンピックに間に合うために?このことはおそらく、原発事故の悲劇から生ずる犯罪のうちで最大なものでしょう。

[1] http://www.ianfairlie.org/news/fukushima-evaporating-tank-contents-is-not-thesolution/

[2] http://www.fukuleaks.org/web/?p=15416

[3] http://www.carnegieendowment.org/2015/09/29/wagging-plutonium-dog-japanesedomestic-politics-and-its-international-security-implications/ii96

文責:キック ニ・ ュークリアー http://www.kicknuclear.com

Fukushima Update Summer 2016, by Kick Nuclear London


May 25, 2016 NFLA publish independent analysis of scientific advice in nuclear related emergency incidents and call for national issuing of stable iodine tablets The Nuclear Free Local Authorities (NFLA) publishes today an independent submission by radiation risks expert Dr Ian Fairlie (1) on the role of science and scientific advice in emergency incidents […]



‘The Babukshkas of Chernobyl’ documentary

Some thoughts by Lis Fields
I found this documentary about “the last specimens of a dying species” inspiring, frustrating and heartbreaking.
It was inspiring to see these elderly women who’d survived the horrors of the Nazi invasion and the Stalin years still so resilient, strong-willed and self-sufficent. And defiant: “I won’t go anywhere [else] even at gunpoint”.
But despite the glorious bright colours of their headscarves and textiles, and the lush green forest around them, their lives are extremely tough: they are living in dire poverty, in decrepit shacks, most of their food grown or foraged from their contaminated land and the surrounding forest. Their meagre pensions are sometimes delayed for months at a time. Apart from one or two elderly neighbours they are isolated as most of their fellow villagers are long gone – dead or living elsewhere. One woman says the doctors used to come once a month to check their blood pressure and give them pills and shots, but not any more.
I feel that these women have been utterly failed by their government and the nuclear industry: why should they have to choose between “five happy years” in their contaminated rural homes or “fifteen years condemned to a concrete high-rise on the outskirts of Kiev”? If they had been rehoused in cottages on plots of uncontaminated land would they still want to return to their old homes?
Why should they be more afraid of starvation than radiation? One Babushka says “They told us our legs would hurt [if they returned to contaminated home], and they do. So what.”
Holly Morris, co-director of the film, says in her 2013 TED talk:
“These women have outlived their counterparts who evacuated by some estimates by 10 years” and “Could it be that those ties to ancestral soil, the soft variables reflected in their aphorisms actually affect longevity? The power of motherland, so fundamental to that part of the world, seems palliative. Home and community are forces that rival even radiation”.
In 2011 Morris observed that “No health studies have been done, but anecdotal evidence suggests that most of the Babushkas die of strokes (my emphasis) rather than any obvious radiation-related illnesses, and they’ve dealt better with the psychological trauma.”
If the ‘anecdotal evidence’ is true and most of the Babushkas do indeed die of strokes, perhaps these strokes very much the consequence of their chronic exposure to the high levels of radiation in their food, water and air:
“Radiation-induced cardiovascular diseases (CVD) include coronary heart disease and arteriosclerosis/atherosclerosis in the vascular system. Strokes are usually included in studies on CVD …. It is now well established (Little MP et al, 2008; Kreuzer et al, 2015) that cardiovascular risks are raised after moderate to high exposures to radiation. In fact, these risks limit the survival times of cancer patients after radiation treatment (Heidenreich and Kapoor, 2009).” Ian Fairlie, TORCH-2016 page 70.
I’m with film critic Ben Kenigsberg who observes:
“Although the danger of the surroundings is suggested through the constant presence of beeping meters, “The Babushkas of Chernobyl” could have done more to shed light on its subjects’ health. Ivanivna, we’re told, was at the reactor site the night of the disaster and had her thyroid removed two years later. Late in the film, she receives a test (briefly interrupted by a ringing cell phone, in an endearing comic moment) in which she learns that her cesium level is elevated but that she’s within the “maximum average dosage.” What does that mean, exactly? The movie implies that the women’s happiness has been a great benefit to their well-being.”
‘The Babukshkas of Chernobyl’ documentary

The Question of “Trust” by Dr Ian Fairlie

The Question of “trust” 
an extract from TORCH-2016 by Dr. Ian Fairlie, commissioned by Global 2000 and Friends of the Earth Austria, published 7th March 2016.
In 2005 the IAEA/WHO stated: 
“What the Chernobyl disaster has clearly demonstrated is the central role of information and how it is communicated in the aftermath of radiation or toxicological incidents. Nuclear activities in Western countries have also tended to be shrouded in secrecy. The Chernobyl experience has raised the awareness among disaster planners and health authorities that the dissemination of timely and accurate information by trusted leaders is of the greatest importance.” 
While this statement is undoubtedly correct, it raises the vexed question of public trust in governments and international agencies which for many people does not exist after Chernobyl and Fukushima.
To re-establish that trust will be difficult. At a minimum, it will require the following to happen:
First, for concerned governments to make clear to their citizens that they will consider safer energy options that do not have the potential for another Chernobyl or Fukushima. 
Second, for a dialogue to be created between agencies such as IARC, IAEA, WHO and national governments on the one hand and various NGOs/health charities on the other to enable exchanges of views on radiation risks and energy policies. Unfortunately, no such dialogue exists at present. 
Third, WHO should no longer be required to have its reports on radiation matters vetted by the IAEA, as presently required under the 1959 agreement between the two UN agencies.http://independentwho.org/en/who-and-aiea-aggreement/ 
Fourth, UN agencies in this area, IARC,WHO, UNSCEAR, IAEA should be required to have independent scientists from NGOs and health charities as members of their main Committees. This does not occur at present. Also these agencies should be required to consult on their draft reports, including the convening of meetings with environment NGOs and independent health charities. This also does not occur at present.
In addition to providing timely and accurate information, government health authorities and disaster planners need to improve their preparedness for future accidents by means of the following:- 
  • providing stable iodine to all citizens within at least 50 km of all nuclear reactors 
  • pre-stocking emergency levels of clean water supplies, long-life milk and dried food supplies 
  • distributing information leaflets to the public explaining what to do in the event of an emergency and explaining why precautionary measures are necessary 
  • detailed planning of possible evacuations 
  • constructing and staffing permanent emergency evacuation centres 
  • carrying out emergency evacuation drills 
  • planning subsequent support of evacuated populations 
  • planning how to help those who choose to remain in contaminated areas 
  • increasing the mental health training of primary physicians and nurses 
  • moving the site of care to primary care settings, and 
  • informing citizens that these measures have been taken 

It may be argued that these measures are unnecessary and/or too expensive. However TORCH 2016 shows that they are indeed necessary. Governments which choose to promote potentially dangerous energy policies should also fund the necessary precautions in case of accidents.

The Question of “Trust” by Dr Ian Fairlie