Fukushima Darkness

“Japan is a totalitarian corporate state where corporate interests are protected from liability by layers of subcontractors and by vested interests of powerful political bodies and extremely harsh state secrecy laws. As such, it is believed that nuclear safety and health issues, including deaths, are underreported and likely not reported at all in most cases. Therefore, the worldview of nuclear power, as represented in Japan at Fukushima Daiichi, is horribly distorted in favor of nuclear power advocacy.”
The radiation effects of the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant triple meltdowns are felt worldwide, whether lodged in sea life or in humans, it cumulates over time. The impact is now slowly grinding away only to show its true colors at some unpredictable date in the future. That’s how radiation works, slow but assuredly destructive, which serves to identify its risks, meaning, one nuke meltdown has the impact, over decades, of 1,000 regular industrial accidents, maybe more.
It’s been six years since the triple 100% nuke meltdowns occurred at Fukushima Daiichi d/d March 11th, 2011, nowadays referred to as “311”. Over time, it’s easy for the world at large to lose track of the serious implications of the world’s largest-ever industrial disaster; out of sight out of mind works that way.
According to Japanese government and TEPCO (Tokyo Electric Power Company) estimates, decommissioning is a decade-by-decade work-in-progress, most likely four decades at a cost of up to ¥21 trillion ($189B). However, that’s the simple part to understanding the Fukushima nuclear disaster story. The difficult painful part is largely hidden from pubic view via a highly restrictive harsh national secrecy law (Act on the Protection of Specially Designated Secrets, Act No. 108/2013), political pressure galore, and fear of exposing the truth about the inherent dangers of nuclear reactor meltdowns. Powerful vested interests want it concealed.
Following passage of the 2013 government secrecy act, which says that civil servants or others who “leak secrets” will face up to 10 years in prison, and those who “instigate leaks,” especially journalists, will be subject to a prison term of up to 5 years, Japan fell below Serbia and Botswana in the Reporters Without Borders 2014 World Press Freedom Index. The secrecy act, sharply criticized by the Japanese Federation of Bar Associations, is a shameless act of buttoned-up totalitarianism at the very moment when citizens need and in fact require transparency.
The current status, according to Mr. Okamura, a TEPCO manager, as of November 2017: “We’re struggling with four problems: (1) reducing the radiation at the site (2) stopping the influx of groundwater (3) retrieving the spent fuel rods and (4) removing the molten nuclear fuel.” (Source: Martin Fritz, The Illusion of Normality at Fukushima, Deutsche Welle–Asia, Nov. 3, 2017)
In short, nothing much has changed in nearly seven years at the plant facilities, even though tens of thousands of workers have combed the Fukushima countryside, washing down structures, removing topsoil and storing it in large black plastic bags, which end-to-end would extend from Tokyo to Denver and back.
As it happens, sorrowfully, complete nuclear meltdowns are nearly impossible to fix because, in part, nobody knows what to do next. That’s why Chernobyl sealed off the greater area surrounding its meltdown of 1986. Along those same lines, according to Fukushima Daiichi plant manager Shunji Uchida: ”Robots and cameras have already provided us with valuable pictures. But it is still unclear what is really going on inside,” Ibid.
Seven years and they do not know what’s going on inside. Is it the China Syndrome dilemma of molten hot radioactive corium burrowing into Earth? Is it contaminating aquifers? Nobody knows, nobody can possibly know, which is one of the major risks of nuclear meltdowns, nobody knows what to do. There is no playbook for 100% meltdowns. Fukushima Daiichi proves the point.
“When a major radiological disaster happens and impacts vast tracts of land, it cannot be ‘cleaned up’ or ‘fixed’.” (Source: Hanis Maketab, Environmental Impacts of Fukushima Nuclear Disaster Will Last ‘decades to centuries’ – Greenpeace, Asia Correspondent, March 4, 2016)
Meanwhile, the world nuclear industry has ambitious growth plans, 50-60 reactors currently under construction, mostly in Asia, with up to 400 more on drawing boards. Nuke advocates claim Fukushima is well along in the cleanup phase so not to worry as the Olympics are coming in a couple of years, including events held smack dab in the heart of Fukushima, where the agricultural economy will provide fresh foodstuff.
The Olympics are PM Abe’s major PR punch to prove to the world that all-is-well at the world’s most dangerous, and out of control, industrial accident site. And, yes it is still out of control. Nevertheless, the Abe government is not concerned. Be that as it may, the risks are multi-fold and likely not well understood. For example, what if another earthquake causes further damage to already-damaged nuclear facilities that are precariously held together with hopes and prayers, subject to massive radiation explosions? Then what? After all, Japan is earthquake country, which defines the boundaries of the country. Japan typically has 400-500 earthquakes in 365 days, or nearly 1.5 quakes per day.
According to Dr. Shuzo Takemoto, professor, Department of Geophysics, Graduate School of Science, Kyoto University: “The problem of Unit 2… If it should encounter a big earth tremor, it will be destroyed and scatter the remaining nuclear fuel and its debris, making the Tokyo metropolitan area uninhabitable. The Tokyo Olympics in 2020 will then be utterly out of the question,” (Shuzo Takemoto, Potential Global Catastrophe of the Reactor No. 2 at Fukushima Daiichi, February 11, 2017).
Since the Olympics will be held not far from the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear accident site, it’s worthwhile knowing what to expect, i.e., repercussions hidden from public view. After all, it’s highly improbable that the Japan Olympic Committee will address the radiation-risk factors for upcoming athletes and spectators. Which prompts a question: What criteria did the International Olympic Committee (IOC) follow in selecting Japan for the 2020 Summer Olympics in the face of three 100% nuclear meltdowns totally out of control? On its face, it seems reckless.
This article, in part, is based upon an academic study that brings to light serious concerns about overall transparency, TEPCO workforce health & sudden deaths, as well as upcoming Olympians, bringing to mind the proposition: Is the decision to hold the Olympics in Japan in 2020 a foolish act of insanity and a crude attempt to help cover up the ravages of radiation?
Thus therefore, a preview of what’s happening behind, as well as within, the scenes researched by Adam Broinowski, PhD (author of 25 major academic publications and Post Doctoral Research Fellow, Australian National University): “Informal Labour, Local Citizens and the Tokyo Electric Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Crisis: Responses to Neoliberal Disaster Management,” Australian National University, 2017.
The title of Dr. Broinowski’s study provides a hint of the inherent conflict, as well as opportunism, that arises with neoliberal capitalism applied to “disaster management” principles. (Naomi Klein explored a similar concept in The Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism, Knopf Canada, 2007).
Dr. Broinowski’s research is detailed, thorough, and complex. His study begins by delving into the impact of neoliberal capitalism, bringing to the fore an equivalence of slave labor to the Japanese economy, especially in regards to what he references as “informal labour.” He preeminently describes the onslaught of supply side/neoliberal tendencies throughout the economy of Japan. The Fukushima nuke meltdowns simply bring to surface all of the warts and blemishes endemic to the neoliberal brand of capitalism.
According to Professor Broinowski: “The ongoing disaster at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power station (FDNPS), operated by Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO), since 11 March 2011 can be recognised as part of a global phenomenon that has been in development over some time. This disaster occurred within a social and political shift that began in the mid-1970s (ed. supply-side economics, which is strongly reflected in America’s current tax bill under consideration) and that became more acute in the early 1990s in Japan with the downturn of economic growth and greater deregulation and financialisation in the global economy. After 40 years of corporate fealty in return for lifetime contracts guaranteed by corporate unions, as tariff protections were lifted further and the workforce was increasingly casualised, those most acutely affected by a weakening welfare regime were irregular day labourers, or what we might call ‘informal labour.”
In short, the 45,000-60,000 workers recruited to deconstruct decontaminate Fukushima Daiichi and the surrounding prefecture mostly came off the streets, castoffs of neoliberalism’s impact on “… independent unions, rendered powerless, growing numbers of unemployed, unskilled and precarious youths (freeters) alongside older, vulnerable and homeless day labourers (these groups together comprising roughly 38 per cent of the workforce in 2015) found themselves not only (a) lacking insurance or (b) industrial protection but also in many cases (c) basic living needs. With increasing deindustrialisation and capital flight, regular public outbursts of frustration and anger from these groups have manifested since the Osaka riots of 1992.” (Broinowski)
The Osaka Riots of 25 years ago depict the breakdown of modern society’s working class, a problem that has spilled over into national political elections worldwide as populism/nationalism dictate winners/losers. In Osaka 1,500 rampaging laborers besieged a police station (somewhat similar to John Carpenter’s 1976 iconic film Assault on Precinct 13) over outrage of interconnecting links between police and Japan’s powerful “Yakuza” or gangsters that bribe police to turn a blind eye to gangster syndicates that get paid to recruit, often forcibly, workers for low-paying manual jobs for industry.
That’s how TEPCO gets workers to work in radiation-sensitive high risks jobs. Along the way, subcontractors rake off most of the money allocated for workers, resulting in a subhuman lifestyle for the riskiest most life-threatening jobs in Japan, maybe the riskiest most life-threatening in the world.
Japan has a long history of assembling and recruiting unskilled labor pools at cheap rates, which is typical of nearly all large-scale modern industrial projects. Labor is simply one more commodity to be used and discarded. Tokyo Electric Power Company (“TEPCO”) of Fukushima Daiichi fame adheres to those long-standing feudalistic employment practices. They hire workers via layers of subcontractors in order to avoid liabilities, i.e. accidents, health insurance, safety standards, by penetrating into the bottom social layers that have no voice in society.
As such, TEPCO is not legally obligated to report industrial accidents when workers are hired through complex webs or networks of subcontractors; there are approximately 733 subcontractors for TEPCO. Here’s the process: TEPCO employs a subcontractor “shita-uke,” which in turn employs another subcontractor “mago-uke” that relies upon labor brokers “tehaishilninpu-dashi.” At the end of the day, who’s responsible for the health and safety of workers? Who’s responsible for reporting cases of radiation sickness and/or death caused by radiation exposure?
Based upon anecdotal evidence from reliable sources in Japan, there is good reason to believe TEPCO, as well as the Japanese government, suppress public knowledge of worker radiation sickness and death, as well as the civilian population of Fukushima. Thereby, essentially hoodwinking worldwide public opinion, for example, pro-nuke enthusiasts/advocates point to the safety of nuclear power generation because of so few reported deaths in Japan. But, then again, who’s responsible for reporting worker deaths? Answer: Other than an occasional token death report by official sources, nobody!
Furthermore, TEPCO does not report worker deaths that occur outside of the workplace even though the death is a direct result of excessive radiation exposure at the workplace. For example, if a worker with radiation sickness becomes too ill to go to work, they’ll obviously die at home and therefore not be reported as a work-related death. As a result, pro-nuke advocates claim Fukushima proves how safe nuclear power is, even when it goes haywire, because there are so few, if any, deaths, as to be inconsequential. That’s a boldfaced lie that is discussed in the sequel: Fukushima Darkness – Part 2.
“As one labourer stated re Fukushima Daiichi: ‘TEPCO is God. The main contractors are kings, and we are slaves’. In short, Fukushima Daiichi clearly illustrates the social reproduction, exploitation and disposability of informal labour, in the state protection of capital, corporations and their assets.” (Broinowski)
Indeed, Japan is a totalitarian corporate state where corporate interests are protected from liability by layers of subcontractors and by vested interests of powerful political bodies and extremely harsh state secrecy laws. As such, it is believed that nuclear safety and health issues, including deaths, are underreported and likely not reported at all in most cases. Therefore, the worldview of nuclear power, as represented in Japan at Fukushima Daiichi, is horribly distorted in favor of nuclear power advocacy.
DW article cited in Fukushima Darkness: http://www.dw.com/en/the-illusion-of-normality-at-fukushima/a-37885120 “Robots and cameras have already provided us with valuable pictures,” says Uchida, adding: “But it is still unclear what is really going on inside.”
And Full-text (PDF) of Adam Broinowski’s cited research paper is available here:

Once severely damaged Fukushima reactor building opened to media to showcase progress

Tepco’s representatives and METI’s officials have spent 15 minutes at the top floor of the reactor 3 building, 30 meters above the ground.
0,08mSv/per hour on the platform and 0,7mSv/per hour near the fuel pool with its 566 fuel assemblies supposed to be unloaded within 6 months. According to Tepco, workers cannot stay up there more than one hour or two per day….
The real content of that fuel pool is still mysterious, as no whole picture of that pool has ever been released.
22 nov 2017 reacytor 3 pool.JPG
The top floor of the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant’s No. 3 reactor building is seen on Nov. 21, 2017. The spent fuel pool can be seen at lower left. (Mainichi)
The top level of the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant’s No. 3 reactor building was opened to the news media on Nov. 21.
The Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry along with plant operator Tokyo Electric Power Co. (TEPCO) guided reporters to the reactor building’s top floor for a tour lasting about 15 minutes.
The building was badly damaged by a hydrogen explosion in the first days of the Fukushima nuclear crisis in March 2011. However, the debris has been cleared away, and radiation that had stood at 800 millisieverts per hour just after the reactor meltdowns was measured at 0.08 mSv/h on the 7-meter-high platform, on which fuel removal equipment and other devices have been installed, on Nov. 21. Closer to the fuel pool, the figure rose to 0.7 mSv/h. According to TEPCO, workers are limited to just one to two hours on the platform.
22 oct 2017 reactor 3.JPG
The top floor is about 30 meters from the ground. The spent fuel pool currently contains 566 fuel assemblies, and preparations are underway to start the removal process as early as mid-fiscal 2018, with equipment for the job already installed on the platform. A net currently covers the pool to prevent anything — or anyone — from falling in.
A semi-cylindrical cover is also being constructed to prevent radioactive materials from escaping when fuel removal operations begin.

Evacuating a nuclear disaster areas is (usually) a waste of time and money, says study

This study is corrupted science, on the payroll of the nuclear lobby, to justify future ‘radiation safety’ limits increases.In Japan, after the Fukushima Daiichi the radiation ‘tolerance’ threshold was raised from 1mSv/per year to 20mSv/per year, which is the radiation ‘tolerance’ threshold for nuclear plant workers in the other countries. The nuclear lobby would like to raise further all today’s radiation ‘tolerance’ thresholds.
Which radiation risk model did they use? ICRP, I bet, which is silent on inhaled and ingested radioactivity, and underestimates risk of congenital defects by 10,000 times. If you care about the children run like hell and don’t look back. That was Professor Alexey Yablokov’s advice and it still stands with abundant studies made in the past 30 years to back it up.
Screenshot from 2017-11-23 20-17-25
Evacuating a nuclear disaster areas is (usually) a waste of time and money, says study
Over 110,000 people were moved from their homes following the Fukushima nuclear disaster in Japan in March 2011. Another 50,000 left of their own will, and 85,000 had still not returned four-and-a-half years later.
While this might seem like an obvious way of keeping people safe, my colleagues and I have just completed research that shows this kind of mass evacuation is unnecessary, and can even do more harm than good. We calculated that the Fukushima evacuation extended the population’s average life expectancy by less than three months.
To do this, we had to estimate how such a nuclear meltdown could affect the average remaining life expectancy of a population from the date of the event. The radiation would cause some people to get cancer and so die younger than they otherwise would have (other health effects are very unlikely because the radiation exposure is so limited). This brings down the average life expectancy of the whole group.
But the average radiation cancer victim will still live into their 60s or 70s. The loss of life expectancy from a radiation cancer will always be less than from an immediately fatal accident such as a train or car crash. These victims have their lives cut short by an average of 40 years, double the 20 years that the average sufferer of cancer caused by radiation exposure. So if you could choose your way of dying from the two, radiation exposure and cancer would on average leave you with a much longer lifespan.
How do you know if evacuation is worthwhile?
To work out how much a specific nuclear accident will affect life expectancy, we can use something called the CLEARE (Change of life expectancy from averting a radiation exposure) Programme. This tells us how much a specific dose of radiation will shorten your remaining lifespan by on average.
Yet knowing how a nuclear meltdown will affect average life expectancy isn’t enough to work out whether it is worth evacuating people. You also need to measure it against the costs of the evacuation. To do this, we have developed a method known as the judgement or J-value. This can effectively tell us how much quality of life people are willing to sacrifice to increase their remaining life expectancy, and at what point they are no longer willing to pay.
You can work out the J-value for a specific country using a measure of the average amount of money people in that country have (GDP per head) and a measure of how averse to risk they are, based on data about their work-life balance. When you put this data through the J-value model, you can effectively find the maximum amount people will on average be willing to pay for longer life expectancy.
After applying the J-value to the Fukushima scenario, we found that the amount of life expectancy preserved by moving people away was too low to justify it. If no one had been evacuated, the local population’s average life expectancy would have fallen by less than three months. The J-value data tells us that three months isn’t enough of a gain for people to be willing to sacrifice the quality of life lost through paying their share of the cost of an evacuation, which can run into billions of dollars (although the bill would actually be settled by the power company or government).
The three month average loss suggests the number of people who will actually die from radiation-induced cancer is very small. Compare it to the average of 20 years lost when you look at all radiation cancer sufferers. In another comparison, the average inhabitant of London loses 4.5 months of life expectancy because of the city’s air pollution. Yet no one has suggested evacuating that city.
We also used the J-value to examine the decisions made after the world’s worst nuclear accident, which occurred 25 years before Fukushima at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant in Ukraine. In that case, 116,000 people were moved out in 1986, never to return, and a further 220,000 followed in 1990.
By calculating the J-value using data on people in Ukraine and Belarus in the late 1980s and early 1990s, we can work out the minimum amount of life expectancy people would have been willing to evacuate for. In this instance, people should only have been moved if their lifetime radiation exposure would have reduced their life expectancy by nine months or more.
This applied to just 31,000 people. If we took a more cautious approach and said that if one in 20 of a town’s inhabitants lost this much life expectancy, then the whole settlement should be moved, it would still only mean the evacuation of 72,500 people. The 220,000 people in the second relocation lost at most three months’ life expectancy and so none of them should have been moved. In total, only between 10% and 20% of the number relocated needed to move away.
To support our research, colleagues at the University of Manchester analysed hundreds of possible large nuclear reactor accidents across the world. They found relocation was not a sensible policy in any of the expected case scenarios they examined.
More harm than good
Some might argue that people have the right to be evacuated if their life expectancy is threatened at all. But overspending on extremely expensive evacuation can actually harm the people it is supposed to help. For example, the World Heath Organisation has documented the psychological damage done to the Chernobyl evacuees, including their conviction that they are doomed to die young.
From their perspective, this belief is entirely logical. Nuclear refugees can’t be expected to understand exactly how radiation works, but they know when huge amounts of money are being spent. These payments can come to be seen as compensation, suggesting the radiation must have left them in an awful state of health. Their governments have never lavished such amounts of money on them before, so they believe their situation must be dire.
But the reality is that, in most cases, the risk from radiation exposure if they stay in their homes is minimal. It is important that the precedents of Chernobyl and Fukushima do not establish mass relocation as the prime policy choice in the future, because this will benefit nobody.
Homes should not be abandoned after a big nuclear accident

Fukushima Class Action Federal Lawsuit Filed in Boston Against General Electric

GE sued for Fukushima disaster
Lawsuit alleges unsafe design, cost cutting
Japanese property owners and businesses near the Fukushima nuclear plant that melted down after a devastating 2011 tsunami filed a $500 million class-action lawsuit against General Electric for negligently designing the doomed plant.
The lawsuit, filed yesterday in federal court in Boston, claims the explosions and release of radioactive material at the Fukushima reactors — likely the most costly industrial accident in history at $200 billion — were caused by GE’s unsafe design of the reactors and further efforts to cut costs that also undercut safety during the construction of the plant.
As a result, the area around Fukushima, according to the lawsuit, became a “ghost town.”
“There are no people. Roads are guarded by men in hazmat suits. And no one will ever live there again,” the lawsuit said.
GE said in a statement it became aware of the lawsuit today and is “thoroughly reviewing the matter.”
The company pushed into the nuclear industry in the 1960s and offered a “cheap reactor … with a significantly smaller, but less safe containment than industry standard” that safety experts repeatedly raised concerns about, the lawsuit said.
GE designed all six reactors at Fukushima — building two on site and advising on the construction of the rest. Original designs for the power plant called for it to be built near a bluff 115 feet above sea level. But GE — to save money — lowered the bluff to 80 feet, court papers say, “dramatically increasing the flood risk.”
Backup systems in the event of a problem at the nuclear plant were also woefully lacking, causing the cooling system to fail, the suit states.
General Electric Named in Federal Lawsuit Regarding Fukushima
General Electric is facing a federal lawsuit because of the Fukushima nuclear disaster that happened on March 11, 2011. The class action lawsuit asks for $500 million and was filed by residents, medical clinics, and companies in Boston who allege that they were affected by the disaster. The plaintiffs allege that they represent more than 150,000 Japanese citizens affected from the nuclear disaster.
Federal Lawsuit Alleges GE Failed to Properly Maintain Nuclear Power Plant
In the federal complaint, filed on November 17, 2017, GE faces serious allegations including failure to properly maintain the Fukushima:
“GE designed and largely constructed the entire Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant at the center of the dispute, and for many years, directly or indirectly through its affiliates, was responsible for the maintenance of the [plant]. To this day, GE has paid literally nothing toward the massive economic and business destruction its actions and failings have caused.”
Reuters.com reported on December 8, 2016 that Japan had more than $188 billion in losses.
The plaintiffs allege that although the Fukushima disaster occurred in 2011, GE’s plan to “dominate the commercial nuclear power industry” in the 1960s meant that the defendant misrepresented how safe the plant would be so that they could earn more money.
GE continues to offer its “heartfelt sympathy” to those who were affected, but wants the matter handled under Japanese nuclear compensation law. Under that law, power plant operators are liable for the damages caused by the incident, regardless of what caused it. A company spokesperson went on to say that the Japanese government found that a tsunami was ultimately responsible and it was not the fault of how the reactor was designed.
GE was made aware of the lawsuit on November 19, 2017 and they are “thoroughly reviewing the matter.”

Tepco Says The Fukushima Cleanup ‘Is Progressing’, But at a Painstaking Pace

Last July 2017 Tepco’s remotely piloted robots transmitted view of what could be melted radioactive fuel inside Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant’s destroyed reactors — actually Tepco wants to believe that it is melted radioactive fuel but has not been able to get it confirmed since then.
The Fukushima Cleanup Is Progressing, But at a Painstaking Pace
Earlier this year, remotely piloted robots transmitted what officials believe was a direct view of melted radioactive fuel inside Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant’s destroyed reactors—a major discovery, but one that took a long and painful six years to achieve. In the meantime, the program to clean up the destroyed reactors has seen numerous setbacks and concerns, including delays on Japanese electrical utility Tepco’s timetable to begin removing the highly radioactive fuel and continued leakage of small amounts of radioactive substances.
Japanese officials are now hoping that they can convince a skeptical public that the worst of the disaster is over, the New York Times reported, but it’s not clear whether it’s too late despite the deployment of 7,000 workers and massive resources to return the region to something approaching normal. Per the Times, officials admit the recovery plan—involving the complete destruction of the plant, rather than simply building a concrete sarcophagus around it as the Russians did in Chernobyl—will take decades and tens of billions of dollars. Currently, Tepco plans to begin removing waste from one of the three contaminated reactors at the plant by 2021, “though they have yet to choose which one.”
“Until now, we didn’t know exactly where the fuel was, or what it looked like,” Tepco manager Takahiro Kimoto told the Times. “Now that we have seen it, we can make plans to retrieve it.”
“They are being very methodical—too slow, some would say—in making a careful effort to avoid any missteps or nasty surprises,” Union of Concerned Scientists nuclear safety director David Lochbaum added. “They want to regain trust. They have learned that trust can be lost much quicker than it can be recovered.”
Currently, radiation levels are so high in the ruined facility that it fries robots sent in within a matter of hours, which will necessitate developing a new generation of droids with even higher radiation significantly smaller, but less safe containment than industry standard” that safety experts repeatedly raised concerns about, the lawsuit said.
GE designed all six reactors at Fukushima — building two on site and advising on the construction of the rest. Original designs for the power plant called for it to be built near a bluff 115 feet above sea level. But GE — to save money — lowered the bluff to 80 feet, court papers say, “dramatically increasing the flood risk.”
Backup systems in the event of a problem at the nuclear plant were also woefully lacking, causing the cooling system to fail, the suit states. ge_sued_for_fukushima_disaster tolerances. Authorities have built a crane on the roof of one melted-down reactor, unit No. 3, to remove fuel, Phys.org reported, though it will not actually be in use until at least April 2018. Disposal of low level waste such as “rice straw, sludge and ash from waste incineration” has only just begun, the Japan Times wrote. The eventual disposal of more dangerous waste will be much more difficult.
At the same time, criticism of the government’s approach is also mounting with concerns it is pressuring residents to return to an area where radiation exposure remains many times the international standard.

Disposal of low-level radioactive waste from Fukushima crisis begins

To call that site a storage site is a misnomer. As there will also be incineration and conditioning of radioactive debris there. It would be more accurate to call it a processing and storage facility….. Temporary storage, supposedly for 30 years maximum….
tomioka 17 nov 2017
FUKUSHIMA – Disposal began Friday of low-level radioactive waste generated by the Fukushima nuclear disaster, more than six years after the crisis was triggered by the Great East Japan Earthquake and tsunami of March 11, 2011.
A disposal site in Tomioka, Fukushima Prefecture, accepted the first shipment of the waste, which contains radioactive cesium ranging from 8,000 to 100,000 becquerels per kilogram, and includes rice straw, sludge and ash from waste incineration.
The Environment Ministry is in charge of the country’s nuclear waste disposal, which totaled 200,000 tons from 11 prefectures as of the end of September. The majority of the waste, 170,000 tons, originates from the prefecture hosting the crippled nuclear power plant.
“I would like to ask the central government to move this project forward while taking adequate safety steps in mind,” a Tomioka official said. “Building mutual trust with local residents is also important.”
Under the ministry’s policy, each prefecture’s waste is to be disposed of. However, Fukushima is the only prefecture where disposal has started, whereas other prefectures have met with opposition from local residents.
In Fukushima, it will take six years to complete moving the stored waste to the disposal site, the ministry said.
The government “will continue giving first priority to securing safety and properly carry out the disposal with our best efforts to win local confidence,” Environment Minister Masaharu Nakagawa said at a news conference.
The government proposed in December 2013 that Fukushima Prefecture dispose of the waste at the then-privately owned site. The request was accepted by the prefectural government two years later.
To help alleviate local concerns over the disposal, the government nationalized the site and reinforced it to prevent the entry of rainwater.

UN body calls on Japan to improve protection of press freedoms

GENEVA (Kyodo) — A U.N. body on Thursday called on Japan to take steps to better protect press freedoms as concerns about the country’s laws aimed at curtailing leaks of state secrets could hinder the work of journalists.
In another of the 218 non-legally binding recommendations on Japan’s human rights record released by the U.N. Human Rights Council’s working group, Tokyo was urged to apologize and pay compensation to “comfort women” forced to work in Japan’s World War II military brothels.
The recommendations reflected the views of some 105 countries. Of the issues raised, the U.N. council will adopt those that have been accepted by the country in question at a plenary session around March 2018.
In relation to freedom of the press in Japan, the recommendation called on the country to amend Article 4 of the broadcasting law that gives the government authority to suspend broadcasting licenses of TV stations not considered “politically fair.”
Japan had already attracted criticism, in particular from David Kaye, U.N. special rapporteur on the right to freedom of opinion and expression, over its law called the Act on the Protection of Specially Designated Secrets, which came into force in 2014.
Under the law, civil servants or others who leak designated secrets could face up to 10 years in prison, and those who instigate leaks, including journalists, could be subject to prison terms of up to five years.
In his report, Kaye noted that the law may be arbitrarily enforced as subcategories under which information may be designated as secret are “overly broad.”
On the issue of “comfort women,” raised at the request of South Korea and China, the recommendation urged Japan to promote fair and accurate historical education, including the women’s stories, and to apologize and compensate victims.
The recommendation also said Japan should abolish or suspend the death penalty, reflecting calls from European Union countries, and continue to provide support to those affected by the Fukushima nuclear crisis caused by the massive 2011 earthquake and tsunami. In particular, a directive to address health issues faced by pregnant mothers and children was noted.
The U.N. Rights Council is mandated to “undertake a universal periodic review” of whether countries are meeting their human rights obligations and commitments.
The examination is conducted on all 193 members of the United Nations in periodic cycles of a few years. The latest review was the third for Japan.
Nuclear-news.net exclusive report from yesterday on the UN meeting;