Fukui town mayor floats idea of dry cask storage for nuclear fuel

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FUKUI, Japan (Kyodo) — The mayor of a Fukui Prefecture town hosting a Kansai Electric Power Co. nuclear power plant where one of its reactors resumed operations just this month has floated the idea of installing dry cask storage within the plant and keeping ever increasing spent fuel there.

Takahama Mayor Yutaka Nose’s idea, though floated only as an option, is a rare one coming from someone in his position given that nuclear fuel is supposed to be moved out of a power station after it reaches the end of its usefulness after generating electricity.

At the same time, Nose has called for the central government’s greater involvement in projects to build temporary storage facilities for spent nuclear fuel outside nuclear power plants.

While Kansai Electric has said the site for its temporary storage facility to be built outside Fukui would be finalized sometime around 2020 and that the facility would begin being used around 2030, “there is no guarantee that (a municipality) outside the prefecture would agree to host the facility,” Nose said in a recent interview with Kyodo News.

But “it’ll be too late if we start thinking about (what to do with spent fuel) after (spent fuel pools) become full. We need to have a backup plan in case (the temporary storage project) goes nowhere,” he said.

Nose has effectively floated the option of building dry cask storage within the Takahama plant and keeping spent fuel there while at the same time continuing to use existing fuel cooling pools at reactors.

Dry cask storage, where spent fuel is kept in metal containers, “will reduce risks” of accidents, Nose said, on the grounds that such a storage method does not need water or electricity to keep spent fuel cooled.

In the 2011 Fukushima nuclear disaster triggered by a powerful earthquake and tsunami, reactors temporarily lost cooling functions in their spent fuel pools, putting a massive amount of fuel at risk of overheating and exposure.

“I’m responsible for the lives of town residents. Even if it is impossible to attain 100 percent safety, it is natural that we think about reducing risks. Not that we want to actively seek (spent fuel), but we have to think about the reality that (spent fuel) would remain in Takahama town,” he said.

The No. 4 reactor at the four-reactor Takahama plant resumed operations on May 17 amid persistent public concerns over the safety of nuclear power following the 2011 nuclear crisis. The plant’s No. 3 unit is scheduled to go back online in early June, while the remaining two units are expected to remain offline for the foreseeable future.

Cooling pools at the plant are capable of storing a total of 4,400 fuel assemblies but must be kept at less than capacity to allow for fuel exchange work. The pools collectively have about 2,700 assemblies already. If all four reactors begin operating there, the pools will reach their capacity within six to seven years.

https://mainichi.jp/english/articles/20170528/p2g/00m/0dm/052000c

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UN Rapporteur Received Reports that Japan Media Avoids Covering Ongoing Fukushima Nuclear Disaster; Reporter Demoted-Salary Reduced for Writing About Fukushima

image27.jpgUSAF bombing of hiroshima-nagasaki fall 1945, color enhanced.

I have also received first-hand reports of newspapers delaying or cancelling the publication of articles, or demoting or transferring reporters after writing articles critical of the government. Several journalists told me that media outlets avoid covering topics that may lead to criticism by the government, such as the Fukushima disaster and historical issues such as “comfort women”. A reporter was demoted and salary reduced after writing an article regarding the Fukushima plant manager’s testimony.” Excerpted from: “Preliminary observations by the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the right to freedom of opinion and expression, Mr. David Kaye at the end of his visit to Japan (12-19 April 2016)” Emphasis our own. See more at: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/NewsEvents/Pages/DisplayNews.aspx?NewsID=19842&LangID=E

Clamp-down on media by (authoritarian) regimes can actually backfire because people cannot know what is going on, which could lead to even more panic than the facts, which are already very dire for Fukushima. Whether or not the reactors literally fall into the ocean, as recently reported by some, long-lived radioactive materials apparently continue to be discharged into the air, groundwater and ocean. Even fairly short-lived tritium, half-life 12 years, will make the ocean water literally radioactive (tritiated water) for around 200 years. (An explanation of the dangerous lie about potassium is found at the bottom of our blog post.)

Groundwater runs down from the highland and seeps into the damaged reactor buildings, where it becomes tainted with radioactive material before flowing out into the ocean.” (AsiaNikkei .com: https://nuclear-news.net/2016/09/29/fukushima-ice-wall-failing-to-deliver-on-promise )

Fukushima geology: http://www-naweb.iaea.org/napc/ih/documents/FDNPP%20presentations/05Marui.pdf

News Release: “Japan: UN rights expert warns of serious threats to the independence of the press TOKYO / GENEVA (19 April 2016) – The United Nations Special Rapporteur on the right to freedom of opinion and expression, David Kaye, on Tuesday called upon the Japanese Government to take urgent steps to protect the independence of the media and promote the public’s right of access to information.

“Japan has well-earned pride in a Constitution that expressly protects the freedom of the press. Yet the independence of the press is facing serious threats,” said Kaye after a week-long visit to the country.

“Weak legal protection, the newly adopted Specially Designated Secrets Act, and persistent Government pressure for ‘neutrality’ and ‘fairness’ appear to be producing high levels of self-censorship,” Kaye said. “Such pressure has its intended effect because the media itself depends upon the exclusivity of the press club system and lacks a broad professional union that could advocate for basic principles of independence.”

“Numerous journalists, many agreeing to meet with me only on condition of anonymity to protect their livelihoods, highlighted the pressure to avoid sensitive areas of public interest. Many claimed to have been sidelined or silenced following indirect pressure from leading politicians. A country with such strong democratic foundations should resist and protect against such interference.”

According to Mr. Kaye, the Broadcast Act, adopted in 1950 to give the Government direct authority to regulate the broadcast media, confuses the professional obligations of journalists, in Article 4, with the Government’s power to suspend broadcasting licenses. “The Government should repeal Article 4 and get itself out of the media-regulation business,” he said.

Mr. Kaye noted that, in this environment, the Specially Designated Secrets Act, still in its early stages of implementation, is likely to have a chilling effect on the media’s coverage of matters of serious public concern. The weakness of whistleblower protection, for example, could lead to information sources drying up, while journalists themselves may fear punishment for their work to gain access to information. Such fears may have particular impact on areas of major contemporary public interest in Japan, such as the future of the nuclear power industry, disaster response, and the national security policies adopted by the Government.

According to the Special Rapporteur, Government pressure also undermines debate on issues of crucial importance, such as the use of “comfort women” during the Second World War. While noting that international human rights mechanisms have repeatedly urged Japan to address the issue, Mr. Kaye voiced his frustration about the attempts to limit debate over the country’s past.

“References to ‘comfort women’ are being edited out of textbooks in junior high schools, where Japanese history is compulsory,” Kaye found. “Government interference with how textbooks treat the reality of the crimes committed during the Second World War undermines the public’s right to know and its ability to grapple with and understand its past.”

Mr. Kaye visited the Diet, where he met the Committee on Judicial Affairs and expressed his interest in ongoing discussions on hate speech and surveillance legislation. “Japan must adopt a broadly applicable anti-discrimination law,” he said. “The first answer to hate speech is to have a law that prohibits acts of discrimination. Once that is in place, broad Government action against hateful expression — such as educational and public statements against hatred — can have a real impact on the fight against discrimination.”

“I want to emphasize as well how important a model Japan presents in the area of freedom on the Internet,” Kaye added. “The very low level of Government interference with digital freedoms illustrates the Government’s commitment to freedom of expression. As the Government considers legislation related to wiretaps and new approaches to cybersecurity, I hope that this spirit of freedom, communication security and innovation online is kept at the forefront of regulatory efforts.”

David Kaye visited Japan at the invitation of the Government and met with various national authorities. He also held discussions with non-governmental organizations, journalists, private media associations and lawyers. The Special Rapporteur will prepare a report to be presented in 2017 at the Human Rights Council on the main findings of his visit.
(*) Check the Special Rapporteur’s full end-of-mission statement: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/NewsEvents/Pages/DisplayNews.aspx?NewsID=19842&LangID=E
ENDS
David Kaye (USA) was appointed as Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression in August 2014 by the United Nations Human Rights Council. Learn more, log on to: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/Issues/FreedomOpinion/Pages/OpinionIndex.aspx
The Special Rapporteurs are part of what is known as the Special Procedures of the Human Rights Council. Special Procedures, the largest body of independent experts in the UN Human Rights system, is the general name of the Council’s independent fact-finding and monitoring mechanisms. Special Procedures mandate-holders are independent human rights experts appointed by the Human Rights Council to address either specific country situations or thematic issues in all parts of the world. They are not UN staff and are independent from any government or organization. They serve in their individual capacity and do not receive a salary for their work.
Check the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights: 
http://www.ohchr.org/EN/ProfessionalInterest/Pages/CCPR.aspx

Original News Release here: http://www.ohchr.org/en/NewsEvents/Pages/DisplayNews.aspx?NewsID=19843&LangID=E ( Emphasis our own).

Oak Ridge (National Nuclear Lab) Associated universities (ORAU) make clear the deception by Ken Buessler, Jay Cullen, and others, regarding potassium. Oak Ridge Associated Universities (ORAU) state: The human body maintains relatively tight homeostatic control over potassium levels. This means that the consumption of foods containing large amounts of potassium will not increase the body’s potassium content. As such, eating foods like bananas does not increase your annual radiation dose. If someone ingested potassium that had been enriched in K-40, that would be another story.
http://www.orau.org/ptp/collection/consumer%20products/potassiumgeneralinfo.htm
General Information About K-40, Paul Frame, Oak Ridge Associated Universities” Radioactive K40 makes up only 0.012% (120 ppm) of the total amount of potassium found in nature. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Potassium-40 On the other hand, radioactive cesium can be taken up in potassium’s stead. Cesium acts as both a chemical and radiological poison. The banana and potato industry need to take Buesseler, Cullen, et. al. to court for trying to scare people away from life-giving bananas and potatoes. Bananas and organic (bio) potatoes are protective. They must have lost a lot of money from this con-game of trying to scare people away from bananas, in an apparent attempt to make man-made radioactive pollution of the earth look ok.

The Irish government seconds Oak Ridge Universities: “Potassium-40, a naturally occurring radionuclide, is present in relatively large activity concentrations in the marine environment. However it is controlled by homeostatic processes in the human body [Eisenbud and Gessell, 1997] and its equilibrium activity concentration in the body is normally independent of the amount consumed. Therefore, while the activity concentrations of this radionuclide in seafood are considerably higher than many other natural radionuclides, its presence does not result in an increased radiological hazardhttps://www.rpii.ie/RPII/files/7d/7dd84765-857b-4c45-9fab-8542a428a3e4.pdf

Beware Fukushima and other Japanese food, as the non-Japanese standards are much weaker than the Japanese ones, meaning that Japan will likely export its radioactive produce.

https://miningawareness.wordpress.com/2017/05/28/un-rapporteur-received-reports-that-japan-media-avoids-covering-fukushima-reporter-demoted-salary-reduced-for-writing-about-fukushima/

 

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Nuclear storage crisis grows as reactor restarts continue

n-nukewaste-a-20170529-870x653.jpgAn official from the Agency for Natural Resources and the Nuclear Waste Management Organization of Japan shows a model of a proposed underground burial facility for nuclear waste during a town hall meeting in Toyama on May 20

More than six years after the March 11, 2011, Tohoku quake, tsunami, and triple meltdown at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant, Japan is accelerating efforts to restart as many reactors as it possibly can. Four have been revived so far, and Kansai Electric Power Co. plans to restart the Takahama No. 3 unit soon.

But the rush to restart them has only highlighted the fact that Japan still has no final repository for its high-level radioactive waste. Original plans to first reprocess spent fuel at the Rokkasho facility in Aomori Prefecture before final disposal somewhere else have long been stalled. After 17 years asking prefectures and municipalities around the country to host such a site, no takers have been found.

So the government has changed its approach, saying it will draw up a map by this summer of “scientifically appropriate” candidate sites around the country.

To explain what that means, a series of town hall meetings are taking place at select locations this month and next month.

On May 20, officials from the Agency for Natural Resources and the Nuclear Waste Management Organization of Japan (NUMO) were in Toyama, which is less than 50 km from the Shika nuclear power plant in neighboring Ishikawa Prefecture.

At present, there are about 18,000 tons of spent nuclear fuel stored in about 40,000 canisters at Japan’s nuclear power plants, said NUMO Executive Director Shinichi Ito. A final disposal site for high-level waste produced when, or if, the fuel is reprocessed would need to be quite large. Most of it would be underground, with an elaborate tunnel system of transport vehicles to deliver and store the waste.

“In terms of scale, above-ground facilities at a final depository would be between 1 to 2 sq. km, and the underground portion would be 6 to 10 sq. km in area, located at a depth of more than 300 meters from the surface. There would be some 200 km of tunnels in total for the storage facilities,” Ito said.

Waste would be stored at the site for around a half century. The basic cost for building a final depository is ¥3.7 trillion.

In drawing up the map of what constitutes a scientifically appropriate site, the government has a list of conditions and standards based on what it does not want.

A site should not be built within a 15-km radius of a volcano, and not near active fault lines at least 10 km long. In addition, it should not be situated in area where there is a lot of geothermal activity.

The government is also seeking a site that is within 20 km of a port where ships carrying the waste could dock, since transporting waste by ship, the government says, is the most appropriate method.

Iwao Miyamoto, director of the public relations office of the Agency for Natural Resources’ Radioactive Waste Management Office, said that, after the map is publicized and dialogue takes place with authorities deemed to have appropriate sites, a three-stage survey process would be carried out.

“The first stage would be to research the seismological and geological history of a potential site, checking to see how frequently earthquakes and volcanoes in and around the area have occurred,” Miyamoto said. “The second stage would be on-site drilling to determine how porous the rock bed is, and the third step is a precision survey to determine if the site can handle an underground storage facility.

“The first survey stage is expected to take two years, the second stage four years, and the final stage around 14 years,” he added.

In an attempt to entice the authorities at a chosen site, the central government will offer funding and economic incentives that the municipalities hosting nuclear power plants have long enjoyed.

“NUMO will work with a government that accepts a final storage facility to renovate and expand its roads, ports, and information systems,” Ito said. “There will also be donations for revitalizing the local economy via support for locally produced goods and for local culture.”

However, overcoming local political resistance in an area judged appropriate for a final depository is likely to be a long, difficult road. Nobody wants to be known as the town or village with a nuclear waste dump, and questions remain about the safety of transporting toxic waste by land or by sea.

Some governors in prefectures with many reactors have made it clear they will oppose any effort by the central government or utilities to bury nuclear waste on site or beside the plant that generated it.

“Fukui has accepted nuclear power plants. But it has no obligation to accept final disposal of nuclear waste,” Fukui Gov. Issei Nishikawa said in 2015. Fukui is home to 13 commercial reactors.

“We have our hands full just dealing with the nuclear reactors we have now,” Saga Gov. Yoshinori Yamaguchi said last year, indicating his prefecture would not accept being the site of a final repository. Saga hosts the four reactors at the Genkai plant run by Kyushu Electric. Yamaguchi approved the restart of Genkai units 3 and 4 in April.

Once the map is published, it is sure to galvanize opinion in those places judged appropriate and become a politically delicate topic. Yet with Agency for Natural Resources estimates showing the spent fuel pools of 17 power plants will run out of space within the next 15 years, if run continuously, the problem of final disposal grows more acute with each passing day. Pressure on those areas that fit the requirements for final disposal is likely to be intense.

At this point, though, the central government says that if a local government with a site deemed appropriate by the map still refuses once the survey begins, that will be the end of it.

“If there is official opposition at the local level at any stage of a survey, there would be no advancement to the next stage,” Miyamoto said.

However, given all of the problems Japan has had trying to make its reprocessing program work, critics say that attempting to draw up a plan for a final repository is a pipe dream.

” The Japanese government knows the current final nuclear waste repository program will never materialize. The whole project depends upon the creation of high-level vitrified waste canisters, i.e. the reprocessing of spent nuclear fuel. But the program also depends on Japan recovering and consuming tons and tons of plutonium

” The Rokkasho reprocessing plant’s commercial operation has been delayed 23 times, and the fast reactor program to consume the plutonium is at square one despite over a half century of effort,” said Aileen Mioko Smith of Kyoto-based Green Action.

http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2017/05/28/national/nuclear-storage-crisis-grows-reactor-restarts-continue/#.WSrbDvUrK3A

The struggle to repopulate Fukushima

Six years after the nuclear disaster, Japan is pushing villagers back to the homes they left

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FROM his desk, the mayor of Iitate, Norio Kanno, can see the beloved patchwork of forests, hills and rice paddies that he has governed for over two decades. A book in the lobby of his office calls it one of Japan’s most beautiful places, a centre of organic farming. The reality outside mocks that description. The fields are mostly bald, shorn of vegetation in a Herculean attempt to remove the radioactive fallout that settled six years ago. There is not a cow or farmer in sight. Tractors sit idle in the fields. The local schools are empty.

Iitate, a cluster of hamlets spread over 230 square kilometres, was hit by a quirk of the weather. After the accident at the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant, 45km (28 miles) away, which suffered meltdowns after a tsunami in 2011, wind carried radioactive particles that fell in rain and snow on a single night. Belatedly, the government ordered the evacuation of the 6,000 villagers. Now it says it is safe to return. With great fanfare, all but the still heavily contaminated south of Iitate—the hamlet of Nagadoro—was reopened on March 31st (see map).

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The only part of the village that looks busy, however, is the home for the elderly. Locals say a few hundred people, at most, have returned, predominantly the retired. Mr Kanno will not reveal how many “because it gives the impression that we are forcing people to live here, which we don’t intend to do.” Yet many evacuees now face a stark choice: return to Iitate, or lose part of the compensation that has helped sustain them elsewhere.

Last month this dilemma was expressed with unusual clarity by Masahiro Imamura, the minister in charge of reconstruction from the disaster. Pressed by a reporter, Mr Imamura said it was the evacuees’ “own responsibility, their own choice” whether or not to return. The comment touched a nerve. “It’s economic blackmail,” says Nobuyoshi Ito, a local farmer. Mr Imamura has since resigned.

Nobody wants Fukushima mentioned in the same breath as Chernobyl. Almost three decades after the world’s worst nuclear accident, life there is still frozen in time, a snapshot of the mid-1980s Soviet Union, complete with posters of Lenin on school walls. By contrast, about ¥200m ($1.8m) per household has been spent decontaminating Iitate, helping to reduce radiation in many areas to well under 20 millisievert per year (the typical limit for nuclear-industry workers). But the clean-up extends to only 20 metres around each house, and most of the village is forested mountains. In windy weather, radioactive caesium is blown back onto the fields and homes.

Nevertheless, Mr Kanno says it is time to cut monthly compensation payments which, in his view, encourage dependence. In 2012 Iitate’s became the first local authority in Fukushima prefecture to set a date for ending evacuation. The mayor pledged that year to revive the village in five years, a promise he has kept. A new sports ground, convenience store and noodle restaurant have opened. A clinic operates twice a week.

All that is missing is people. Less than 30% of Iitate’s former residents want to return. (In Nagadoro, over half said they would never go back.) Many have used earlier lump-sum payments to build lives elsewhere. Before the disaster struck, the village had already lost a third of its population since 1970 as young folk moved to the cities—a process that has hollowed out many a furusato, or home town.

Families left behind quarrel about whether to leave or stay, says Yoshitomo Shigihara, a villager. “Some try to feel out whether others are receiving benefits, what they are getting or how much they have received in compensation. It’s very stressful to talk to anyone in Iitate.”  Some wanted to move the entire village to one of the country’s many depopulated areas but Mr Kanno would not hear of it. In trying to save the village, says Mr Ito, the mayor may be destroying it for good.

http://www.economist.com/news/asia/21722671-six-years-after-nuclear-disaster-japan-pushing-villagers-back-homes-they-left?journey=d

Fukushima prognosis and how radioactivity affects the body: Medical facts from Dr. Helen Caldicott

 

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With specific information on Tritium, Strontium 90, Cesium 137, radioactive Iodine 131, and Plutonium.

By Helen Caldicott, Volume 4, Issue 2 2014, Australian Medical Student Journal

…Fukushima is now described as the greatest industrial accident in history.

The Japanese government was so concerned that they were considering plans to evacuate 35 million people from Tokyo, as other reactors including Fukushima Daiini on the east coast were also at risk. Thousands of people fleeing from the smoldering reactors were not notified where the radioactive plumes were travelling, despite the fact that there was a system in place to track the plumes. As a result, people fled directly into regions with the highest radiation concentrations, where they were exposed to high levels of whole-body external gamma radiation being emitted by the radioactive elements, inhaling radioactive air and swallowing radioactive elements. [2] Unfortunately, inert potassium iodide was not supplied, which would have blocked the uptake of radioactive iodine by their thyroid glands, except in the town of Miharu. Prophylactic iodine was eventually distributed to the staff of Fukushima Medical University in the days after the accident, after extremely high levels of radioactive iodine – 1.9 million becquerels/kg were found in leafy vegetables near the University. [3] Iodine contamination was widespread in leafy vegetables and milk, whilst other isotopic contamination from substances such as caesium is widespread in vegetables, fruit, meat, milk, rice and tea in many areas of Japan. [4]

The Fukushima meltdown disaster is not over and will never end. The radioactive fallout which remains toxic for hundreds to thousands of years covers large swathes of Japan and will never be “cleaned up.” It will contaminate food, humans and animals virtually forever. I predict that the three reactors which experienced total meltdowns will never be dissembled or decommissioned. TEPCO (Tokyo Electric Power Company) – says it will take at least 30 to 40 years and the International Atomic Energy Agency predicts at least 40 years before they can make any progress because of the extremely high levels of radiation at these damaged reactors.

This accident is enormous in its medical implications. It will induce an epidemic of cancer as people inhale the radioactive elements, eat radioactive food and drink radioactive beverages. In 1986, a single meltdown and explosion at Chernobyl covered 40% of the European land mass with radioactive elements. Already, according to a 2009 report published by the New York Academy of Sciences, over one million people have already perished as a direct result of this catastrophe. This is just the tip of the iceberg, because large parts of Europe and the food grown there will remain radioactive for hundreds of years. [5]

Medical Implications of Radiation

Fact number one

No dose of radiation is safe. Each dose received by the body is cumulative and adds to the risk of developing malignancy or genetic disease.

Fact number two

Children are ten to twenty times more vulnerable to the carcinogenic effects of radiation than adults. Females tend to be more sensitive compared to males, whilst foetuses and immuno-compromised patients are also extremely sensitive.

Fact number three

High doses of radiation received from a nuclear meltdown or from a nuclear weapon explosion can cause acute radiation sickness, with alopecia, severe nausea, diarrhea and thrombocytopenia. Reports of such illnesses, particularly in children, appeared within the first few months after the Fukushima accident.

Fact number four

Ionizing radiation from radioactive elements and radiation emitted from X-ray machines and CT scanners can be carcinogenic. The latent period of carcinogenesis for leukemia is 5-10 years and solid cancers 15-80 years. It has been shown that all modes of cancer can be induced by radiation, as well as over 6000 genetic diseases now described in the medical literature.

But, as we increase the level of background radiation in our environment from medical procedures, X-ray scanning machines at airports, or radioactive materials continually escaping from nuclear reactors and nuclear waste dumps, we will inevitably increase the incidence of cancer as well as the incidence of genetic disease in future generations.

Types of ionizing radiation

  1. X-rays are electromagnetic, and cause mutations the instant they pass through the body.
  2. Similarly, gamma radiation is also electromagnetic, being emitted by radioactive materials generated in nuclear reactors and from some naturally occurring radioactive elements in the soil.
  3. Alpha radiation is particulate and is composed of two protons and two neutrons emitted from uranium atoms and other dangerous elements generated in reactors (such as plutonium, americium, curium, einsteinium, etc – all which are known as alpha emitters and have an atomic weight greater than uranium). Alpha particles travel a very short distance in the human body. They cannot penetrate the layers of dead skin in the epidermis to damage living skin cells. But when these radioactive elements enter the lung, liver, bone or other organs, they transfer a large dose of radiation over a long period of time to a very small volume of cells. Most of these cells are killed; however, some on the edge of the radiation field remain viable to be mutated, and cancer may later develop. Alpha emitters are among the most carcinogenic materials known.
  4. Beta radiation, like alpha radiation, is also particulate. It is a charged electron emitted from radioactive elements such as strontium 90, cesium 137 and iodine 131. The beta particle is light in mass, travels further than an alpha particle and is also mutagenic.
  5. Neutron radiation is released during the fission process in a reactor or a bomb. Reactor 1 at Fukushima has been periodically emitting neutron radiation as sections of the molten core become intermittently critical. Neutrons are large radioactive particles that travel many kilometers, and they pass through everything including concrete and steel. There is no way to hide from them and they are extremely mutagenic.

So, let’s describe just five of the radioactive elements that are continually being released into the air and water at Fukushima. Remember, though, there are over 200 such elements each with its own half-life, biological characteristic and pathway in the food chain and the human body. Most have never had their biological pathways examined. They are invisible, tasteless and odourless. When the cancer manifests it is impossible to determine its aetiology, but there is a large body of literature proving that radiation causes cancer, including the data from Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

  1. Tritium is radioactive hydrogen H3 and there is no way to separate tritium from contaminated water as it combines with oxygen to form H3O. There is no material that can prevent the escape of tritium except gold, so all reactors continuously emit tritium into the air and cooling water as they operate. It concentrates in aquatic organisms, including algae, seaweed, crustaceans and fish, and also in terrestrial food. Like all radioactive elements, it is tasteless, odorless and invisible, and will therefore inevitably be ingested in food, including seafood, for many decades. It passes unhindered through the skin if a person is immersed in fog containing tritiated water near a reactor, and also enters the body via inhalation and ingestion. It causes brain tumors, birth deformities and cancers of many organs.
  2. Cesium 137 is a beta and gamma emitter with a half-life of 30 years. That means in 30 years only half of its radioactive energy has decayed, so it is detectable as a radioactive hazard for over 300 years. Cesium, like all radioactive elements, bio-concentrates at each level of the food chain. The human body stands atop the food chain. As an analogue of potassium, cesium becomes ubiquitous in all cells. It concentrates in the myocardium where it induces cardiac irregularities, and in the endocrine organs where it can cause diabetes, hypothyroidism and thyroid cancer. It can also induce brain cancer, rhabdomyosarcomas, ovarian or testicular cancer and genetic disease.
  3. Strontium 90 is a high-energy beta emitter with a half-life of 28 years. As a calcium analogue, it is a bone-seeker. It concentrates in the food chain, specifically milk (including breast milk), and is laid down in bones and teeth in the human body. It can lead to carcinomas of the bone and leukaemia.
  4. Radioactive iodine 131 is a beta and gamma emitter. It has a half-life of eight days and is hazardous for ten weeks. It bio-concentrates in the food chain, in vegetables and milk, then in the the human thyroid gland where it is a potent carcinogen, inducing thyroid disease and/or thyroid cancer. It is important to note that of 174,376 children under the age of 18 that have been examined by thyroid ultrasound in the Fukushima Prefecture, 12 have been definitively diagnosed with thyroid cancer and 15 more are suspected to have the disease. Almost 200,000 more children are yet to be examined. Of these 174,367 children, 43.2% have either thyroid cysts and/or nodules.In Chernobyl, thyroid cancers were not diagnosed until four years post-accident. This early presentation indicates that these Japanese children almost certainly received a high dose of radioactive iodine. High doses of other radioactive elements released during the meltdowns were received by the exposed population so the rate of cancer is almost certain to rise.
  5. Plutonium, one of the most deadly radioactive substances, is an alpha emitter. It is highly toxic, and one millionth of a gram will induce cancer if inhaled into the lung. As an iron analogue, it combines with transferrin. It causes liver cancer, bone cancer, leukemia, or multiple myeloma. It concentrates in the testicles and ovaries where it can induce testicular or ovarian cancer, or genetic diseases in future generations. It also crosses the placenta where it is teratogenic, like thalidomide. There are medical homes near Chernobyl full of grossly deformed children, the deformities of which have never before been seen in the history of medicine.The half-life of plutonium is 24,400 years, and thus it is radioactive for 250,000 years. It will induce cancers, congenital deformities, and genetic diseases for virtually the rest of time.Plutonium is also fuel for atomic bombs. Five kilos is fuel for a weapon which would vaporize a city. Each reactor makes 250 kg of plutonium a year. It is postulated that less than one kilo of plutonium, if adequately distributed, could induce lung cancer in every person on earth.

Conclusion

In summary, the radioactive contamination and fallout from nuclear power plant accidents will have medical ramifications that will never cease, because the food will continue to concentrate the radioactive elements for hundreds to thousands of years. This will induce epidemics of cancer, leukemia and genetic disease. Already we are seeing such pathology and abnormalities in birds and insects, and because they reproduce very fast it is possible to observe disease caused by radiation over many generations within a relatively short space of time.

Pioneering research conducted by Dr Tim Mousseau, an evolutionary biologist, has demonstrated high rates of tumors, cataracts, genetic mutations, sterility and reduced brain size amongst birds in the exclusion zones of both Chernobyl and Fukushima. What happens to animals will happen to human beings. [7]

The Japanese government is desperately trying to “clean up” radioactive contamination. But in reality all that can be done is collect it, place it in containers and transfer it to another location. It cannot be made neutral and it cannot be prevented from spreading in the future. Some contractors have allowed their workers to empty radioactive debris, soil and leaves into streams and other illegal places. The main question becomes: Where can they place the contaminated material to be stored safely away from the environment for thousands of years? There is no safe place in Japan for this to happen, let alone to store thousands of tons of high level radioactive waste which rests precariously at the 54 Japanese nuclear reactors.

Last but not least, Australian uranium fuelled the Fukushima reactors. Australia exports uranium for use in nuclear power plants to 12 countries, including the US, Japan, France, Britain, Finland, Sweden, South Korea, China, Belgium, Spain, Canada and Taiwan. 270,000 metric tons of deadly radioactive waste exists in the world today, with 12,000 metric tons being added yearly. (Each reactor manufactures 30 tons per year and there are over 400 reactors globally.)

This high-level waste must be isolated from the environment for one million years – but no container lasts longer than 100 years. The isotopes will inevitably leak, contaminating the food chain, inducing epidemics of cancer, leukemia, congenital deformities and genetic diseases for the rest of time.

This, then, is the legacy we leave to future generations so that we can turn on our lights and computers or make nuclear weapons. It was Einstein who said “the splitting of the atom changed everything save mans’ mode of thinking, thus we drift towards unparalleled catastrophe.”

The question now is: Have we, the human species, the ability to mature psychologically in time to avert these catastrophes, or, is it in fact, too late?

Disclaimer: The views, opinions and perspectives presented in this article are those of the author alone and does not reflect the views of the Australian Medical Student Journal. The accuracy, completeness and validity of any statements made within this article are not guaranteed. We accept no liability for any errors or omissions.

References

[1] Caldicott H. Helen Caldicott Foundation’s Fukushima Symposium. 2013; Available from: http://www.helencaldicott.com/2012/12/helen-caldicott-foundations-fukushima-symposium/.

[2] Japan sat on U.S. radiation maps showing immediate fallout from nuke crisis. The Japan Times. 2012.

[3] Bagge E, Bjelle A, Eden S, Svanborg A. Osteoarthritis in the elderly: clinical and radiological findings in 79 and 85 year olds. Ann Rheum Dis. 1991;50(8):535-9. Epub 1991/08/01.

[4] Tests find cesium 172 times the limit in Miyagi Yacon tea. The Asahi Shimbun. 2012.

[5] Yablokov AV, Nesterenko VB, Nesterenko AV, Sherman-Nevinger JD. Chernobyl: Consequences of the Catastrophe for People and the Environment: Wiley. com; 2010.

[6] Fukushima Health Management. Proceedings of the 11th Prefectural Oversight Committee Meeting for Fukushima Health Management Survey. Fukushima, Japan2013.

[7] Møller AP, Mousseau TA. The effects of low-dose radiation: Soviet science, the nuclear industry – and independence? Significance. 2013;10(1):14-9.
Originally published: http://www.amsj.org/archives/3487

http://www.helencaldicott.com/the-impact-of-the-nuclear-crisis-on-global-health/

Fukushima child evacuees get comedy classes to loosen up & combat trauma

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Over six years after the nuclear disaster at the Fukushima power plant, school administrators have decided to offer lessons in traditional Japanese stand-up comedy to relieve stress and anxiety among evacuee children, who have still not returned to their homes.
“Many children feel exhausted at home,” Toshihide Takeuchi, head of the education board of Okuma, an evacuated town 5km from the decimated plant, told Asahi Shimbun. “They appreciate what adults are doing to help them, but they also are evacuees. These children work very hard, trying to live up to adults’ expectations.”
The town’s education board, which has been temporarily relocated to Aizu-Wakamatsu, 120km west of the site of the tsunami and earthquake, agreed last month to approve eight-hour courses in manzai, a traditional Japanese mix of stand-up, stage sketch show and clowning.
“Principals should make people laugh at least once a day. Teachers who cannot make students smile in classes will be arrested,” Takeuchi joked to his audience during the meeting.
Professional performers – manzai troupes usually consist of a straight man and a funny man – will come into class and entertain children, before teaching them how to perform themselves. Educators and psychologists complain that Japanese schoolchildren are too uptight – and polite – to express themselves freely to adults, and the course should open up communication channels.
Manzai programs have already been tested by two education boards responsible for evacuee children, and Asahi Shimbun reports that they have proven effective, and were warmly received by the educators.
The inventive measures are born out of necessity: 160,000 moved away from Fukushima in the wake of the March 2011 disaster, just over half of them compulsorily, and about 80,000 have still been unable to return.
While those whose cities have still not been cleared as safe to return receive generous government payments, the so-called voluntary evacuees, many of whom say that they are still too afraid to return, have seen their benefits slashed over the past months, as the government attempts to regain control over the spiraling cost of the accident, currently estimated at just under $200 billion.

KEPCO has huge responsibility in restarting nuke plants

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The Nuclear Regulation Authority (NRA) has formally approved a screening report certifying that the No. 3 and 4 reactors at Oi Nuclear Power Plant in Fukui Prefecture operated by Kansai Electric Power Co. (KEPCO) meet the new regulatory standards.
KEPCO restarted the No. 4 reactor at its Takahama nuclear plant, also in Fukui Prefecture, earlier this month. The utility also intends to resume operations at the Takahama plant’s No. 3 reactor next month.
KEPCO’s four nuclear reactors will be up and running possibly by the end of this year provided that the company can gain consent from the local governments hosting these plants.
The Osaka-based power company intends to restart nine reactors in Fukui Prefecture, including three aging ones. Among major power companies, KEPCO is particularly enthusiastic about relying on nuclear power again despite the outbreak of the Fukushima nuclear disaster in March 2011.
However, local governments hosting these nuclear plants have failed to work out adequate plans to evacuate residents in case of a serious nuclear accident.
The Oi and Takahama plants are only about 10 kilometers away from each other. Should serious accidents occur simultaneously at these power stations due to a natural disaster or other factors, it would be extremely difficult for the utility and local governments to respond to such a critical situation. The NRA has so far failed to seriously consider problems involving the concentration of nuclear plants in a small area. It is hardly acceptable that KEPCO has been pressing forward with reactivation of its nuclear power stations one after another despite such circumstances.
KEPCO reportedly insists that it would be able to lower its electricity charges if it reactivates nuclear reactors and slashes fuel costs at its thermal power plants, thereby improving its financial situation. However, serious questions remain as to whether the management of KEPCO, which depends heavily on atomic power stations, is sustainable.
Electricity generated by nuclear power accounted for about half of all electricity KEPCO generated before the outbreak of the nuclear crisis — the highest ratio of all power companies in the country. Following the nuclear accident, KEPCO’s fuel costs sharply rose because the utility was forced to generate more power at its thermal power stations to make up for power shortages following the suspension of operations at its nuclear plants, forcing the utility to raise its power charges twice and leading it to lose a considerable number of customers. KEPCO President Shigeki Iwane says, “Our biggest business strategy is reactivating nuclear plants.”
However, the costs of wind power and solar power have kept decreasing, and investments in energy throughout the world are now concentrated on renewable energy. Furthermore, nuclear power industries in developed countries have been declining.
The government of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe plans to reduce Japan’s reliance on atomic power in the long run. Measures to ensure the safety of aging reactors could cost power companies more than estimated. If a serious accident were to occur at a nuclear station, it could endanger the existence of the plant’s operator.
The creation of a management structure at KEPCO that will not be affected by nuclear power would eventually lead to the company’s long-term profits. The Osaka and Kyoto municipal governments have proposed at KEPCO’s shareholder meetings that the company decrease its dependence on atomic power on the grounds that such efforts would strengthen and stabilize the utility’s operations.
Attention will be focused on the procedure for gaining consent from the local governments for reactivation of the Oi plant. Considering the possible impact of a serious accident, KEPCO should gain consent from not only the local body hosting the plant but also those within a radius of 30 kilometers from the plant that are obligated to draw up evacuation plans.