Fukushima Decontamination Work Racket Yakuza Arrested

28 sept yakuza decontamination business

Bags containing debris from decontamination work are piled up in a Bags containing debris from decontamination work are piled up in a tentative storing site in Naraha, Fukushima Prefecture. The location pictured is not where the workers in the article were operating.

 

Yakuza arrested in Fukushima decontamination work racket

Three men, including a yakuza gang boss affiliated with Yamaguchi-gumi, Japan’s largest crime syndicate, have been arrested on suspicion of illegally supplying workers for government-commissioned decontamination work related to the 2011 Fukushima nuclear power plant accident.

The three are yakuza group leader Hidenobu Maruta, 48, of Tokyo’s Katsushika Ward, construction company executive Shigeki Yamamura, 59, of Koriyama, Fukushima Prefecture, and Akio Kitano, 51, an unemployed resident of Saitama, Tokyo police announced Sept. 27.

All three deny the allegations of employment brokering without a license, a violation of the Employment Security Law, and intermediate exploitation, which is banned under the Labor Standards Law.

Maruta and Yamamura are accused of supplying two workers from January 2015 to March 2016 to a sub-subcontractor who carries out decontamination operations for the government project, and receiving 160,000 yen ($1,430) together in commission without consent from the labor ministry.

The cleanup work was conducted in Tomioka, Fukushima Prefecture.

Maruta and Kitano are suspected of taking commission amounting to about 920,000 yen from the wages of those two workers, according to the police department in charge of organized crime.

The three suspects are said to have shared cut of 2,000 yen to 3,000 yen from each of the workers’ 16,000-yen daily wage.

Further to the exploitation of the aforementioned two workers, the suspects are believed to have received about 10 million yen collectively through brokering about 10 other workers to the sub-subcontractor.

http://www.asahi.com/ajw/articles/AJ201709280045.html

3 nabbed over alleged illicit job mediation for Fukushima cleanup workers

Police on Sept. 27 arrested three people, including a high-ranking member of a gang affiliated with the Yamaguchi-gumi crime syndicate, on suspicion of illicitly introducing workers to other businesses to engage in Fukushima decontamination work.

The three suspects, including a gang member in his 40s, were arrested on suspicion of violating the Employment Security Act by mediating in paid work without permission. Police believe that the service charges the suspects received were being used to fund gang activities.

Investigators said that the three are suspected of having introduced decontamination workers to other businesses since 2014 and charging introduction fees, despite lacking permission from the Minister of Health, Labor and Welfare that is required by law.

A consulting company based in Tokyo’s Nerima Ward that was effectively run by the suspects’ gang dispatched workers to decontamination zones through other businesses. The workers reportedly engaged in decontamination work in Fukushima Prefecture.

In January 2013, Yamagata Prefectural Police arrested a high-ranking member of a gang affiliated with the Sumiyoshi-kai crime syndicate on suspicion of violating the worker dispatch law in connection with the dispatch of workers engaging in Fukushima-related decontamination work.

http://mainichi.jp/english/articles/20170927/p2a/00m/0na/015000c

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Fukushima Decontamination Work Yakuza Arrested

28 sept yakuza decontamination business.pngBags containing debris from decontamination work are piled up in a Bags containing debris from decontamination work are piled up in a tentative storing site in Naraha, Fukushima Prefecture. The location pictured is not where the workers in the article were operating.

 

Yakuza arrested in Fukushima decontamination work racket

Three men, including a yakuza gang boss affiliated with Yamaguchi-gumi, Japan’s largest crime syndicate, have been arrested on suspicion of illegally supplying workers for government-commissioned decontamination work related to the 2011 Fukushima nuclear power plant accident.

The three are yakuza group leader Hidenobu Maruta, 48, of Tokyo’s Katsushika Ward, construction company executive Shigeki Yamamura, 59, of Koriyama, Fukushima Prefecture, and Akio Kitano, 51, an unemployed resident of Saitama, Tokyo police announced Sept. 27.

All three deny the allegations of employment brokering without a license, a violation of the Employment Security Law, and intermediate exploitation, which is banned under the Labor Standards Law.

Maruta and Yamamura are accused of supplying two workers from January 2015 to March 2016 to a sub-subcontractor who carries out decontamination operations for the government project, and receiving 160,000 yen ($1,430) together in commission without consent from the labor ministry.

The cleanup work was conducted in Tomioka, Fukushima Prefecture.

Maruta and Kitano are suspected of taking commission amounting to about 920,000 yen from the wages of those two workers, according to the police department in charge of organized crime.

The three suspects are said to have shared cut of 2,000 yen to 3,000 yen from each of the workers’ 16,000-yen daily wage.

Further to the exploitation of the aforementioned two workers, the suspects are believed to have received about 10 million yen collectively through brokering about 10 other workers to the sub-subcontractor.

http://www.asahi.com/ajw/articles/AJ201709280045.html

3 nabbed over alleged illicit job mediation for Fukushima cleanup workers

Police on Sept. 27 arrested three people, including a high-ranking member of a gang affiliated with the Yamaguchi-gumi crime syndicate, on suspicion of illicitly introducing workers to other businesses to engage in Fukushima decontamination work.

The three suspects, including a gang member in his 40s, were arrested on suspicion of violating the Employment Security Act by mediating in paid work without permission. Police believe that the service charges the suspects received were being used to fund gang activities.

Investigators said that the three are suspected of having introduced decontamination workers to other businesses since 2014 and charging introduction fees, despite lacking permission from the Minister of Health, Labor and Welfare that is required by law.

A consulting company based in Tokyo’s Nerima Ward that was effectively run by the suspects’ gang dispatched workers to decontamination zones through other businesses. The workers reportedly engaged in decontamination work in Fukushima Prefecture.

In January 2013, Yamagata Prefectural Police arrested a high-ranking member of a gang affiliated with the Sumiyoshi-kai crime syndicate on suspicion of violating the worker dispatch law in connection with the dispatch of workers engaging in Fukushima-related decontamination work.

http://mainichi.jp/english/articles/20170927/p2a/00m/0na/015000c

Multiple challenges remain to Fukushima nuclear cleanup

Japan_Nuclear_Challenges_21065.jpg

This Sept. 4, 2017 aerial photo shows Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant reactors, from bottom at right, Unit 1, Unit 2 and Unit 3, in Okuma, Fukushima Prefecture, northeastern Japan. The three reactors that had meltdowns together have 1,573 units of mostly used nuclear fuel rods that are still inside and must be kept cool in pools of water. They are considered among the highest risks in the event of another major earthquake, because the pools are uncovered. The plant operator, Tokyo Electric Power Co. or TEPCO, plans to begin removing the rods from reactor unit 3 in the fiscal year beginning next April 1. However, the latest roadmap delays removal of the rods from units 1 and 2 for three years until fiscal 2023, because further decontamination work and additional safety measures are needed.

Japan’s government approved on Tuesday, Sept. 26, 2017 a revision to the decommissioning plan for the Fukushima nuclear plant, delaying by two more years the removal of radioactive fuel rods in two of the three reactors damaged in the 2011 disaster. It still plans for melted fuel to be removed starting in 2021, but the lack of details about the duration raises doubts if the cleanup can be completed within 40 years. Kyodo News via AP, File)


TOKYO – Japan’s government approved a revised road map Tuesday to clean up the radioactive mess left at the Fukushima nuclear power plant after it was damaged beyond repair by an earthquake and tsunami in 2011. Decommissioning the damaged reactors is an uncertain process that is expected to take 30 to 40 years.

A look at some of the challenges:

THE FUEL RODS

The three reactors that had meltdowns together have 1,573 units of mostly used nuclear fuel rods that are still inside and must be kept cool in pools of water. They are considered among the highest risks in the event of another major earthquake that could trigger fuel rods to melt and release massive radiation due to loss of water from sloshing or structural damage because the pools are uncovered. The plant operator, Tokyo Electric Power Co., or TEPCO, plans to begin moving the rods from reactor Unit 3 in the fiscal year beginning April 1.


However, the latest road map delays removal of the rods from units 1 and 2 for three years until fiscal 2023, because further decontamination work and additional safety measures are needed. Ironically, because the building housing reactor 3 was more heavily damaged, it is easier to remove that unit’s fuel rods. The fuel rods will be moved to a storage pool outside the reactors, and eventually sent for long-term storage in what are known as dry casks.

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THE MELTED FUEL

By far the hardest part of decommissioning Fukushima will be removing the fuel that melted and presumably spilled out of the reactor cores. In July, an underwater robot for the first time captured images inside the primary containment chamber of Unit 3. They showed a large number of solidified lava-like rocks and lumps on the chamber’s floor, believed to be melted fuel mixed with melted and mangled equipment and parts of the structure.

The search for melted fuel in units 1 and 2 has so far been unsuccessful. The water level is lower, so crawling robots have been tried, but they have been obstructed by debris as well as extremely high radiation levels. Despite the unknowns about the melted fuel and debris and their whereabouts, the road map calls for finalizing the removal method in 2019, and starting actual removal at one of the reactors in 2021. The government-funded International Research Institute for Nuclear Decommissioning is developing robots and other technology to carry out the work.

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CONTAMINATED WATER

TEPCO has treated and stored a massive amount of radioactive water — about 800,000 tons — and the volume is growing every day. Cooling water leaks out of the damaged reactors and mixes with groundwater that seeps into the basements of the reactor building, increasing the amount of contaminated water. The utility has managed to halve the volume to 200 tons per day by pumping up groundwater via dozens of wells dug upstream from the reactors, as well as installing a costly “ice wall” by freezing the ground to block some of the water from coming in and going out.

The water is stored in hundreds of tanks that cover much of the plant property. They get in the way of decommissioning work and pose another risk if they were to spill out their contents in another major earthquake or tsunami. After treatment, the water still contains radioactive tritium, which cannot be removed but is not considered harmful in small amounts. Experts say controlled release of the water into the ocean is the only realistic option, but TEPCO has not moved forward with that plan because of opposition from fishermen and residents who fear a negative image and possible health impact.

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RADIOACTIVE WASTE

Japan has yet to develop a plan to dispose of the highly radioactive waste that will come out of the Fukushima reactors. Under the road map, the government and TEPCO will compile a basic plan during fiscal 2018. Managing the waste will require new technologies to compact it and reduce its toxicity. Finding a storage site for the waste seems virtually impossible, as the government has not been able to find a site even for the normal radioactive waste from its nuclear power plants. The prospect raises doubts about whether the cleanup can really be completed within 40 years.

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http://www.miamiherald.com/news/business/article175387901.html

Spent Nuclear Fuel Removal at Fukushima Plant Delayed Again

Japan muddles on with Fukushima’s melted and “spent” fuel. The three year delay for emptying the reactors “spent” irradiated nuclear fuel into a dry cask storage runs the risk of another major earthquake causing a loss of cooling in the pools without containments and another major release of radiation. Plans for removing the melted reactor cores from Units 1, 2 and 3 still defied by inability to locate it.

 

sept 26 2017 fuel removal delayed.png

Fukushima Nuclear Plant Scrapping Plan Faces Another Delay

A key decision in decommissioning the crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant is being delayed. The Japanese government and operator made the announcement on Tuesday while giving an update on the roadmap for scrapping the plant.

In their first such update in 2 years, officials said they will postpone their decision on the method for removing molten fuel debris by one year, until fiscal 2019.

Experts believe that when the plant went into triple meltdown in 2011, most of the fuel inside the reactors collected at the bottom of containment vessels. They still don’t know the exact location, but possible molten fuel debris was caught on camera in July. The removal of this debris is considered the most challenging part of the plant’s decommissioning.

Originally, officials considered filling the containment vessels with water to block radiation while removing the debris. But now, they say they’re leaning towards a method called dry removal.

Experts say that method comes with safety challenges. “Because the containment vessel will not be filled with water, there is a possibility that radioactive substances may leak and get dispersed,” says Hosei University Visiting Professor Hiroshi Miyano.

Officials also gave an update on plans for the removal of spent nuclear fuel rods in 2 of the plants reactors. The rods are in storage pools and won’t be removed until fiscal 2023. That’s 3 years later than planned. The official timeline for scrapping the plant remains the same — about 30 to 40 years in total.

https://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/nhknewsline/nuclearwatch/fukushimanuclearplantscrapping/

Spent nuclear fuel removal at Fukushima plant pushed back again

n-roadmap-a-20170927-870x438Cabinet ministers attend a meeting at the Prime Minister’s Office on Tuesday to discuss a delay in the road map for decommissioning the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant.

 

The government and Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings Inc. decided Tuesday to further delay the removal of spent nuclear fuel left near two of the three reactors that suffered meltdowns at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant.

In the road map for decommissioning the plant, revised for the fourth time since it was first crafted in 2011, highly radioactive spent fuel will be extracted from the cooling pools of reactors 1 and 2 starting in fiscal 2023 instead of fiscal 2020.

The decision marks the third delay for the removal plan, with the last adjustment coming in June 2015. The government said new technical issues and the need to take safety precautions led to the latest change.

The cleanup process is set to be completed in around 30 to 40 years.

Spent fuel removal at the plant’s reactor 3 will go ahead in fiscal 2018 as planned, having already been pushed back earlier this year.

In the decommissioning process, the removal of fuel rod assemblies from the spent fuel pools in reactor buildings is one of the key steps before extracting melted fuel debris. Reactors 1, 2 and 3 suffered core meltdowns following the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami disaster.

The removal of melted fuel debris has also been delayed, with an extraction plan set to be decided in fiscal 2019, pushed back from the first half of fiscal 2018.

Despite the delay in finalizing specific methods, the road map maintains a 2021 start for debris extraction, the most challenging part of the decommissioning process.

A method currently considered feasible by the government involves removing debris from the sides of the reactors after partially filling them with water.

The road map newly sets the goal of cutting the amount of underground water at the plant to address contaminated water buildup. Underground water — which gets mixed with accumulated radioactive water generated in the process of cooling the damaged reactors — is to be cut to around 150 tons per day in 2020 from the current 200 tons.

The road map does not mention a specific schedule for the disposal of processed water that still contains radioactive tritium.

The plan was first crafted in December 2011 in the wake of the meltdowns, the world’s worst nuclear crisis since the 1986 Chernobyl disaster.

Attempts have been made to confirm the situation inside the damaged reactors using specialized robots. A survey in July this year captured for the first time images of what is likely to be melted nuclear fuel at the bottom of reactor 3.

Isamu Kaneda, deputy mayor of the Fukushima Prefecture town of Futaba, expressed regret over the delay.

The town’s rebuilding depends on the development of decommissioning. It’s unfortunate,” Kaneda said. “But at the same time, the decommissioning process is an unprecedented project. It needs to be conducted carefully, so we can’t just ask them to speed it up.”

https://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2017/09/26/national/spent-nuclear-fuel-removal-fukushima-plant-pushed-back/#.WcqxGxdx3rc

Spent nuclear fuel removal at Fukushima plant to be delayed again

Screenshot from 2017-09-27 00-36-28.png

 

TOKYO (Kyodo) — The government and Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings Inc. decided Tuesday to delay again the start of removing spent nuclear fuel left near two of the three reactors which suffered a meltdown at the Fukushima complex.

In the road map for decommissioning the Fukushima Daiichi plant, revised for the fourth time since it was first crafted in December 2011, highly radioactive spent nuclear fuel will be extracted from the Nos. 1 and 2 units’ cooling pools starting in fiscal 2023 instead of fiscal 2020.

It is the third time that the schedule for spent fuel removal has been pushed back at the Nos. 1 and 2 reactors, with the previous postponement taking place in June 2015. The government said new technical issues and the need to take safety precautions led to the latest schedule change.

The cleanup process is to be completed in around 30 to 40 years.

For the No. 3 reactor at the Fukushima plant, the schedule to remove spent nuclear fuel during fiscal 2018 is unchanged after having already been pushed back earlier this year.

In the decommissioning process, taking out fuel rod assemblies from the spent fuel pools inside reactor buildings is one of the key steps before extracting melted fuel debris from the Nos. 1 to 3 reactors, all of which suffered core meltdowns following the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami disaster.

The schedule for extraction of the melted fuel debris at the reactors was also revised, with the determination of a specific approach to remove the debris to be made in fiscal 2019, rather than in the originally planned first half of fiscal 2018.

Despite the delay in finalizing specific methods, the road map kept the start of the debris extraction, the most challenging part of the decommissioning process, at 2021.

A method currently considered feasible by the government is debris removal from the side of the three crippled reactors by partially filling them with water.

The road map newly sets the goal of cutting the amount of underground water at the plant to address contaminated water buildup at the site. Underground water, which gets mixed with accumulated radioactive water generated in the process of cooling the damaged reactors — is to be cut to around 150 tons per day in 2020 from the current 200 tons.

It did not mention a specific schedule for disposal of processed water that still contains radioactive tritium.

The road map was first crafted in December 2011 in the wake of the 2011 disaster which triggered at the Fukushima plant the world’s worst nuclear crisis since the 1986 Chernobyl disaster.

Attempts have been made to confirm internal conditions of the damaged reactors using robots. A survey robot captured images of what is likely to be melted nuclear fuel at the bottom of the No. 3 reactor for the first time in July this year.

http://mainichi.jp/english/articles/20170926/p2g/00m/0dm/064000c

 

FUKUSHIMA : The silent voices

Documentary: A young Japanese filmmaker expatriated in France goes back to her birthplace near Fukushima City.
Six years after the nuclear disaster, she’s aiming to re-open the debate
with her family on this catastrophe which became a taboo topic.

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“” My name is Chiho Sato, I live in France for 5 years and I was born in Fukushima.
My parents and grandparents still live 60 km from the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant in what is called “the voluntary evacuation zone”.

More than four years after the disaster, radioactivity, invisible but omnipresent, has gradually disappeared from the minds of the inhabitants of the region.

Far from the dramatic and anxiogenic images frequently shown in Europe, I directed an intimate documentary.

A touching testimony about the inhabitants of one of the most radioactive regions in the world.

My objective: Re-open the debate on the situation in Fukushima by including the voice of the inhabitants themselves. “”

https://vimeo.com/ondemand/fukushimathesilentvoices/213498053

Please read also my previous articles about this excellent documentary, the best about Fukushima in my humble opinion:

The Silent Voices”: what is really to be living within the Fukushima disaster

About the documentary film “Fukushima the silent voices”

Fukushima, the Silent Voices”, a documentary with the Japanese culture in the background through the lens of a disaster

Chiba court recognizes nuke disaster evacuees’ ‘loss of hometown’ for first time

chiba court victory 23 sept 2017.png

Lawyers for the plaintiffs in a lawsuit seeking damages from the government and TEPCO for residents who evacuated to Chiba Prefecture following the 2011 Fukushima nuclear disaster hold up banners reading “Government not liable,” left, and “TEPCO must pay portion of compensation,” right, in front of the Chiba District Court on Sept. 22, 2017.

 

When on Sept. 22 the Chiba District Court ordered Tokyo Electric Power Co. (TEPCO) to pay some 376 million yen in damages to a group of Fukushima nuclear disaster evacuees, it gave concrete recognition to the evacuees’ loss — of hometowns, jobs and personal relationships — for the first time.

Six and a half years after the disaster, even in areas where evacuation orders have been lifted, the reconstruction of the communities that once thrived there is still a distant prospect. However, though it absolved the government of legal liability, this court ruling — the second in a slew of class action suits filed against TEPCO and the government — can be said to be a breakthrough far exceeding previous compensation levels.

“The Maebashi District Court (in March) recognized the responsibility of both the government and TEPCO, but this ended up feeling like a victory in name only, with no ‘reward.’ But it can be said that the Chiba (District Court) decision finally reaped ‘rewards,”’ commented lawyer Katsuyoshi Suzuki, lead counsel of the plaintiffs’ legal team in the Maebashi court case, who was at a gathering in Chiba awaiting the Sept. 22 ruling.

The Maebashi District Court awarded a total of some 460 million yen in damages. However, based on “interim guidelines” set for TEPCO by the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology’s Dispute Reconciliation Committee for Nuclear Damage Compensation in August 2011 to ensure swift payouts, it was decided that TEPCO had already paid about 420 million yen. As such, a total of only 38.55 million yen was awarded to 62 of the 137 plaintiffs. Complaints followed that voices of the evacuees decrying their psychological pain had not been heard.

However, in the Chiba case, TEPCO was ordered to pay 42 out of the 45 plaintiffs a total of roughly 376 million yen, even after some 650 million yen was judged as already having been paid by the company under the “interim guidelines.” It was pointed out that the guidelines only set a minimum baseline for compensation, and upon considering the individual cases, the court granted the large damages award.

What stood out was that the court explicitly recognized the payout as compensation for the loss of hometowns, jobs and personal relationships suffered by the nuclear disaster evacuees. The majority of the plaintiffs in the Chiba case were residents of designated evacuation zones, and claimed they lost their livelihoods, relationships and local customs to the nuclear disaster, and were stripped of their right to live a peaceful life. They had sought 20 million yen in compensation each, saying that the interim guidelines did not accurately reflect the pain of losing their hometowns.

Concerning communities where the evacuation orders had been lifted by this spring, including the village of Iitate, Fukushima Prefecture, TEPCO cited falling radiation levels and infrastructure restoration as evidence that the plaintiffs’ claim that they lost their hometowns permanently was false. As such, TEPCO argued that their current compensation standards were sufficient.

However, even in areas where evacuation orders have been lifted, only roughly 10 percent of former residents have returned. The court decision stated, “(The plaintiffs) have lost their close connections to their local communities over a substantial period of time. Simply lifting evacuation orders will not immediately relieve this suffering,” awarding 36 of the plaintiffs an average of some 3 million yen each. Nevertheless, some of the plaintiffs are not satisfied by the results.

“Our lives were disrupted,” said Michiko Saito, 56, who evacuated from the Odaka district of Minamisoma, Fukushima Prefecture, to Yachimata, Chiba Prefecture. “Even if the money is returned to us, we will never get our hometowns back.”

https://mainichi.jp/english/articles/20170923/p2a/00m/0na/018000c