Japan’s government refuses UN call to stop returning evacuees to irradiated areas of Fukushima

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Japan rejects UN call to stop returns to Fukushima

 
Japan’s government lifted its standard for the acceptable level of radiation to 20 millisieverts per year from 1 millisievert after the Fukushima disaster
 
27 Oct 2018
Japan’s government on Friday (Oct 26) rejected calls from a UN rights expert to halt the return of women and children to areas affected by the Fukushima nuclear disaster over radiation fears.
UN special rapporteur Baskut Tuncak on Thursday warned that people felt they were “being forced to return to areas that are unsafe, including those with radiation levels above what the government previously considered safe.”
In the wake of the Fukushima disaster, Japan’s government lifted its standard for the acceptable level of radiation to 20 millisieverts per year from 1 millisievert.
It has been urged to revise that level back down again, but has rejected calls to do so, a decision Tuncak called “deeply troubling.”
“Japan has a duty to prevent and minimise childhood exposure to radiation,” he said.
But Japan’s government rejected the criticism, saying Tuncak’s comments were based on “one-sided information and could fan unnecessary fears about Fukushima,” a foreign ministry official told AFP.
Japan’s government has gradually lifted evacuation orders on large parts of the areas affected by the disaster, which occurred when a massive tsunami sent reactors at the Fukushima Daiichi plant into meltdown in March 2011.
But other areas remain under evacuation orders because of continued high levels of radiation.
Japan’s government has pushed hard to return affected areas to normal, but has faced criticism that what it refers to as “safe” radiation levels are not in line with international standards.
Around 12,000 people who fled their homes for fear of radiation have filed dozens of lawsuits against the government and the Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO), the operator of the stricken nuclear plant.
The Fukushima disaster was the worst since Chernobyl in 1986, though there has only been one death linked to it. More than 18,000 people were killed or left missing in the tsunami that prompted the meltdown.
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Stop forcing the return of women and child evacuees to radioactive parts of Fukushima – UN’s call to Japan

Cathy Iwane:
3 Things:
1. International Commission on Radiological Protection (ICRP) has ALWAYS recommended 1 mSv per year to be ‘safe’ for human living conditions.
2. Japan arbitrarily INCREASED this level 20 TIMES to 20 mSv per year AFTER Fukushima Daiichi blew. Science proves this level DANGEROUS for women & children; thus, the UN calling out this human rights abuse.
3. Japan is funding billions of dollars for 2020 Olympic venues & athletes’ housing in Fukushima; BUT ending support for Fukushima évacuées, forcing many to return to dangerous radiation exposure.
 
 
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Students from Fukushima High School ride a bus and are told by Tokyo Electric Power Co. executive Yoshiyuki Ishizaki, right, about the Fukushima No. 1 Nuclear Power Plant’s No. 1 reactor, which just had a cover removed from its building, in Okuma, Fukushima Prefecture, on Nov. 18, 2016.

Stop sending women & children back to Fukushima fallout zone, UN expert tells Japan

26 Oct, 2018
A UN human rights expert has urged Japan to reconsider its policy of returning women and children to areas still high in radiation after they were displaced by the Fukushima meltdown.
Baskut Tuncak, the UN’s special rapporteur on hazardous substances, criticized the Japanese government’s decision to resettle citizens in areas with radiation levels above one millisievert per year, the threshold of health risk to groups particularly sensitive to radiation, including children and women of childbearing age.
“The gradual lifting of evacuation orders has created enormous strains on people whose lives have already been affected by the worst nuclear disaster of this century,” he said.
Tuncak presented his findings to a General Assembly committee meeting in New York. “Many feel they are being forced to return to areas that are unsafe, including those with radiation levels above what the government previously considered safe,” he added in a news release.
The Japanese government dismissed his concerns, blaming one-sided information and expressing concern that the statement could stoke “unnecessary fears” about the site of the March 2011 nuclear disaster.
After the earthquake and subsequent power plant meltdown, the Japanese government raised its acceptable radiation levels to 20 millisieverts. The UN last year issued a recommendation to return the level to pre-meltdown standards, but Japan ignored the request.
Over seven years later, radiation levels around Fukushima remain high, as has the apparent level of denial within the Japanese government. They recently announced plans to release about a million tons of wastewater contaminated with radioactive elements into the Pacific Ocean, claiming high-tech processing had reduced the contaminants to safe levels, but was forced to admit that 80 percent of the water remained contaminated after local residents protested the dumping plans.
The government has been removing evacuation orders gradually and plans to repeal all of them within five years, regardless of the contamination level in the areas. Japan was slow to enact the evacuation orders initially – only residents within a 3km radius of the meltdown were told to evacuate immediately after the accident, and four days later, residents 30km away were still being told to shelter in place. However, it was already allowing resettlement in areas within 20km of the plant by 2014.
Tuncak has clashed with the Japanese government before. In August, he and two other UN human rights experts criticized them for putting at risk the lives of those involved in the Fukushima clean-up. An earlier UN report showed that 167 plant workers had received radiation doses that increased their cancer risk.
Only last month did the Japanese government admit that even a single plant worker had died as a result of radiation exposure. The unnamed man, whose job included measuring radiation levels immediately after the meltdown, was exposed to about 195 millisieverts of radiation and developed lung cancer after leaving his job in 2015.
 

UN envoy: Halt children’s return to Fukushima

October 26, 2018
A UN envoy has urged Japan to halt the return of children and young women to nuclear accident-hit Fukushima, calling the government’s radiation exposure limit too lax. But the Japanese side is refuting the advice.
Human Rights Council Special Rapporteur Baskut Tuncak on Thursday was speaking to a committee of the UN General Assembly.
The government set the exposure limit at 20 milisieverts per year as a condition for lifting evacuation orders issued for parts of the prefecture after the 2011 Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant accident.
Tuncak criticized the government for not taking into account the council’s recommendation that the limit be one milisievert.
A Japanese delegate countered by saying the limit is based on a 2007 recommendation by the International Commission on Radiological Protection.
He also said the government has been consulting Japanese experts on the matter, and that Tuncak’s reports give Fukushima a negative reputation.
But Tuncak said the experts recommend that the annual limit be one milisievert in normal times. He added that risk remains as long as radiation levels exceed this threshold.
Tuncak urged Japan to apply the principle to children and women of reproductive age.

UN rights expert urges Japan to halt returns to Fukushima

October 26, 2018
GENEVA (Kyodo) — The Japanese government must halt the return of women and children displaced by the March 2011 nuclear disaster back to areas of Fukushima where radiation levels remain high, a U.N. human rights expert said Thursday.
The special rapporteur on hazardous substances, Baskut Tuncak, also criticized in his statement the government’s gradual removal of evacuation orders for most of the irradiated areas as well as its plan to lift all orders within the next five years, even for the most contaminated areas.
“The gradual lifting of evacuation orders has created enormous strains on people whose lives have already been affected by the worst nuclear disaster of this century. Many feel they are being forced to return to areas that are unsafe,” he said.
An official of Japan’s permanent mission to the international organizations in Geneva refuted the statement, saying it is based on extremely one-sided information and could fan unnecessary fears about Fukushima.
Tuncak expressed concerns about people returning to areas with radiation above 1 millisievert per year, a level previously observed by Japan as an annual limit so as to prevent risks to the health of vulnerable people, especially children and women of reproductive age.
“It is disappointing to see Japan appear to all but ignore the 2017 recommendation of the U.N. human rights monitoring mechanism to return back to what it considered an acceptable dose of radiation before the nuclear disaster,” he said.
In the wake of the Fukushima nuclear incident, the Japanese government heightened the annually acceptable level of radiation to 20 millisieverts, raising concerns for the health of residents.
In August, Tuncak and two other U.N. human rights experts jointly criticized the Japanese government for allegedly exploiting and putting at risk the lives of “tens of thousands” of people engaged in cleanup operations at and around the crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant, a claim Tokyo dismissed.

Japan must halt returns to Fukushima, radiation remains a concern, says UN rights expert

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GENEVA (25 October 2018) – A UN human rights expert has urged the Japanese Government to halt the ongoing relocation of evacuees who are children and women of reproductive age to areas of Fukushima where radiation levels remain higher than what was considered safe or healthy before the nuclear disaster seven years ago.
The UN Special Rapporteur on hazardous substances and wastes, Baskut Tuncak, will present a report to the General Assembly in New York today, highlighting key cases of victims of toxic pollution brought to his attention in recent years that demand global action. The expert said the Japanese Government’s decision to raise by 20 times what it considered to be an acceptable level of radiation exposure was deeply troubling, highlighting in particular the potentially grave impact of excessive radiation on the health and wellbeing of children. 
“It is disappointing to see Japan appear to all but ignore the 2017 recommendation of the UN human rights monitoring mechanism (UPR) to return back to what it considered an acceptable dose of radiation before the nuclear disaster,” he said.
Following the nuclear disaster in 2011, which was triggered by a massive earthquake and tsunami, Japan raised the acceptable level of radiation for residents in Fukushima from 1 mSv/year to 20 mSv/year. The recommendation to lower acceptable levels of exposure to back to 1 mSv/yr was proposed by the Government of Germany and the Government of Japan ‘accepted to follow up’ on it, according to the UN database.  However, in the expert’s view, the recommendation is not being implemented.
Japan has a duty to prevent and minimise childhood exposure to radiation, added the UN expert referring to his 2016 report on childhood exposure to toxics. The UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, to which Japan is a Party, contains a clear obligation on States to respect, protect and fulfil the right of the child to life, to maximum development and to the highest attainable standard of health, taking their best interests into account. This, the expert said, requires State parties such as Japan to prevent and minimise avoidable exposure to radiation and other hazardous substances.
The Special Rapporteur said Japan should provide full details as to how its policy decisions in relation to the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear accident, including the lifting of evacuation orders and the setting of radiation limits at 20mSv/y, are not in contravention of the guiding principles of the Convention, including the best interests of the chid.
Tuncak has expressed his concerns at the Human Rights Council in recent years, accompanied by explicit requests and pleas by concerned organisations for the Government to invite the mandate to conduct an official visit. The Japanese Government has a standing invitation to all mandate holders but has not to date invited the mandate on hazardous substances and wastes to conduct an official country visit.
Seven years after the nuclear disaster, actions for the reconstruction and revitalisation of Fukushima are in full implementation process, with evacuation orders lifted for most of the areas, and with plans in place for lifting evacuation orders in even the highest contaminated areas during the next five years. In March 2017 housing subsidies reportedly stopped to be provided to self-evacuees, who fled from areas other than the government-designated evacuation zones.
“The combination of the Government’s decision to lift evacuation orders and the prefectural authorities’ decision to cease the provision of housing subsidies, places a large number of self-evacuees under immense pressure to return,” Tuncak said. 
“The gradual lifting of evacuation orders has created enormous strains on people whose lives have already been affected by the worst nuclear disaster of this century. Many feel they are being forced to return to areas that are unsafe, including those with radiation levels above what the Government previously considered safe.”
ENDS
The presentation of the thematic report at the General Assembly today will be live-streamed on the United Nations Web TV. 
Mr. Baskut Tuncak is Special Rapporteur on the implications for human rights of the environmentally sound management and disposal of hazardous substances and wastes. As a Special Rapporteur, he is 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 that address either specific country situations or thematic issues in all parts of the world. Special Procedures experts work on a voluntary basis; they are not UN staff and do not receive a salary for their work. They are independent from any government or organization and serve in their individual capacity.
For more information and media requests, please contact: Ms Lilit Nikoghosyan (+41 22 9179936 / lnikoghosyan@ohchr.org) or Mr. Alvin Gachie (+41 22 917 997 1/ agachie@ohchr.org) or write to srtoxics@ohchr.org
For media inquiries related to other UN independent experts please contact Mr. Jeremy Laurence, UN Human Rights – Media Unit (+41 22 917 9383 / jlaurence@ohchr.org)
This year is the 70th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, adopted by the UN on 10 December 1948. The Universal Declaration – translated into a world record 500 languages – is rooted in the principle that “all human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights.” It remains relevant to everyone, every day. In honour of the 70th anniversary of this extraordinarily influential document, and to prevent its vital principles from being eroded, we are urging people everywhere to Stand Up for Human Rights: www.standup4humanrights.org

TEPCO to scrap Onagawa NPP’s reactor#1

The 3 reactors at the plant in northeastern Japan have been offline since the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami, and they ain’t comin’ back!
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Tohoku Electric Power Co.’s Onagawa Nuclear Power Station is seen from a Mainichi Shimbun helicopter in Onagawa, Miyagi Prefecture, on March 11, 2011.

Utility plans to scrap reactor at Onagawa plant

October 25, 2018
Tohoku Electric Power Company has told Miyagi Prefecture that it is going to decommission an aging reactor at its Onagawa nuclear power plant.
 
The 3 reactors at the plant in northeastern Japan have been offline since the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami.
 
The utility’s president, Hiroya Harada, conveyed its decision to Miyagi Governor Yoshihiro Murai on Thursday.
 
Harada explained that additional safety steps would create technical difficulties as the No.1 reactor is more than 30 years old. The measures are required under government regulations that were introduced after the 2011 disaster.
 
Murai asked Tohoku Electric Power to put top priority on safety in scrapping the reactor as the work is expected to take a long time. The governor also asked the utility to properly disclose information and maintain stable power supplies.
 
The utility hopes to put the 2 other reactors back into operation. The No.2 reactor is being checked by the nuclear regulator, and the firm is preparing to apply for an inspection of the No.3 reactor.
 
Utilities have decided to decommission 10 reactors at 7 plants, including Onagawa, since the 2011 disaster at the Fukushima Daiichi plant. They cite the huge cost of additional safety measures. These figures do not include the all 6 reactors at Fukushima Daiichi.
 

Tohoku Electric to scrap aging No. 1 unit at Onagawa nuclear plant

October 25, 2018
SENDAI (Kyodo) — Tohoku Electric Power Co. said Thursday it will scrap the idled No. 1 unit at its Onagawa nuclear power plant in the northeastern Japan prefecture of Miyagi, more than 30 years after it began operation.
The company cited difficulties in taking additional safety measures as well as the relatively small output of the reactor that would make the business unprofitable. Tohoku Electric President Hiroya Harada conveyed its decision to Miyagi Gov. Yoshihiro Murai.
“We decided to decommission (the reactor) at a board meeting today. We took into consideration technical restrictions associated with additional safety measures, output and the years in use,” Harada said when the men met at the prefectural government office.
For its resumption, the company has been required to expand safety measures at the unit under stricter standards introduced after the 2011 Fukushima nuclear disaster.
Under the standards, Japanese nuclear reactors are not allowed, in principle, to operate for more than 40 years.
Having entered into operation in June 1984, the boiling water reactor with an output of 524,000 kilowatts is the oldest among four units operated by the utility.
The utility said in a statement that the No. 1 unit lacked additional space to set up fire extinguishing equipment and infrastructure to secure power supply.
Harada told a press conference on Sept. 27 that decommissioning was an option as the unit’s age made it difficult to implement the required safety measures.
In the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami disaster, the basement floors of the Onagawa plant’s No. 2 unit were flooded. The company is building a 29-meter sea wall to guard the complex.
Tohoku Electric aims to resume operations of the No. 2 unit at the three-reactor Onagawa plant in fiscal 2020 at the earliest, and the Nuclear Regulation Authority, the country’s nuclear watchdog, has been screening its safety measures.

Draft bill omits state burden for nuclear accident compensation

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The central part of Okuma, Fukushima Prefecture, is deserted after it was designated a difficult-to-return zone following the 2011 accident at the nearby Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant.
October 24, 2018
After more than three years of discussions, the nuclear damage compensation law will be left largely intact, including unlimited redress from utilities for accidents at their nuclear plants and vagueness about the government’s responsibility.
Only minor changes will be made to the law, such as measures to accelerate provisional payments to victims of nuclear accidents.
Science ministry officials on Oct. 23 presented a draft of proposed legislation to revise the law at a committee meeting of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party. The legislation is expected to be submitted to the extraordinary Diet session that began on Oct. 24.
An advisory committee on the nuclear damage compensation system within the Japan Atomic Energy Commission (JAEC) had been discussing possible revisions since 2015 in part because of the huge compensation amount–now more than 8 trillion yen ($71 billion)–facing Tokyo Electric Power Co. over the 2011 accident at its Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant.
Electric power companies had asked for some sort of limit in the law, given the situation at TEPCO.
One suggestion was to more clearly delineate the responsibility of the central government and the utilities for compensating victims of nuclear disasters.
A committee member who once worked in Keidanren (Japan Business Federation) supported setting a limit, saying the companies would face a serious management problem if they are unable to predict potential compensation risks.
In return, the central government would shoulder the compensation amount above a certain limit, the member proposed.
However, the committee could not reach an agreement, and no change was made to the provision that sets unlimited compensation responsibility on the part of the utilities.
Utilities will have to continue setting aside a maximum 120 billion yen for each nuclear plant it operates as insurance for a major accident.
Although the insurance amount would appear to be a sort of limit on the electric power companies, the utilities must also contribute to the Nuclear Damage Compensation and Decommissioning Facilitation Corp. (NDF), which provides assistance when compensation demands concerning a single nuclear plant exceed 120 billion yen.
The central government also contributes funds to the NDF.
Calls arose to raise the insurance limit for electric power companies beyond 120 billion yen. However, the insurance industry would not agree to any higher amount, and no change was made in the limit.
Some committee members brought up the topic of whether the central government’s responsibility for compensation should be included in a legal revision.
The electric power industry said the central government should shoulder a greater portion of the compensation responsibility for nuclear accidents because it has continued to define nuclear energy as an important base-load energy source.
Members of the advisory committee brushed aside that suggestion, saying the public would never be convinced in light of the Fukushima accident and the various shortcomings revealed about TEPCO’s management.
Other members cited the possibility that utilities would cut back on safety investment if they knew the central government would pay for compensation.
Discussions about the central government’s responsibility never did get off the ground in the advisory committee, even though a number of recent court verdicts in civil lawsuits have awarded compensation while clearly stating the central government’s responsibility for the Fukushima nuclear disaster.
The minor change to the law to allow electric power companies to more quickly begin provisional payments of compensation was proposed to address problems that arose after the Fukushima accident.
TEPCO took about six weeks to begin provisional payments to disaster victims. The delay, according to TEPCO, was because the utility had no idea about the maximum amount of compensation it would have to pay.
Under the proposed change, the central government will provide loans to utilities so they can immediately begin making provisional payments. Utilities will be obligated to compile guidelines that define the procedures for applying for compensation and making those guidelines widely known.
(This article was compiled from reports by Yusuke Ogawa and Senior Staff Writer Noriyoshi Ohtsuki.)

France presents vitrification process for Fukushima

Same insane mentality that came up with NPPs and generating nuclear waste wsants vitrification which will melt long before the nuke waste becomes chemically stable. Amazing how self/other destructive some people are and what they’re willing to risk doing to other people and life forms:
23 October 2018
A project to demonstrate the use of innovative radioactive waste vitrification technology, developed in France, at the damaged Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant in Japan has been under way for the past six months.
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An in-can prototype developed at CEA Marcoule
Since 27 April, the French Alternative Energies and Atomic Energy Commission (CEA), Orano and ANADEC have been evaluating the potential of using the “in-can” vitrification process developed by CEA to treat waste from water treatment operations at Fukushima Daiichi. Such wastes from these operations include contaminated sludge and mineral adsorbents. Vitrification is the process for immobilising high-level radioactive waste in glass.
CEA’s Marcoule laboratory developed a compact in-can vitrification process in which the melting pot is disposable and serves as the primary canister for the solidified glass.
The project to demonstrate the use of the technology at Fukushima Daiichi comprises two main parts.
The first is to develop and study durable waste form conditioning matrix formulations. Tests on a laboratory-scale (100 grams), on a bench-scale (1 kilogram) and near-industrial scale (100kg) will be carried out in France at the CEA Marcoule laboratories.
The second part of the project is to conduct feasibility studies for process implementation, operation and maintenance principles and waste disposal. These studies will be led by Orano.
In a joint statement Orano and CEA said that laboratory-scale test and part of the bench-scale tests have already been “performed with success”. Near-industrial scale tests, they said, are under way. The feasibility studies will then be carried out, with the complete results expected to be delivered by the end of March 2019.
For the project, “technical and commercial interfaces” in Japan are being provided by ANADEC. This a joint venture set up in 2014 between Orano and Japanese nuclear power plant maintenance and radioactive material management company ATOX.
Multiple facilities including a multi-nuclide removal facility – the Advanced Liquid Processing System (ALPS) – are used to treat the contaminated water accumulated at Fukushima Daiichi plant. After the concentration of caesium and strontium contained in the contaminated water is reduced, the ALPS system eventually removes most of the radioactive materials except tritium. The treatment of all highly contaminated water which contained strontium, except residual water in the bottom of the storage tanks, was completed in May 2015. This has helped reduce the risks attributed to contaminated water, such as an increase in radiation dose on the premises or contaminated water leaking from the storage tanks. The water from which caesium and strontium have been already reduced will require additional treatment by ALPS for further risk reduction.

More time needed for confidence to return on Fukushima produce: Lam

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Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam
 
Oct. 22, 2018
HONG KONG – More time is needed for Hong Kong to lift its ban on food imports from Japan’s Fukushima Prefecture imposed in the wake of the 2011 nuclear disaster there as public confidence remains low, Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam said.
In an interview with Japanese media ahead of her first official working trip to Tokyo since taking office as chief executive in 2017, Lam said that while food safety remains a priority, consumer sentiment is another deciding factor for when the ban should be lifted.
“We will have to continue to monitor the situation and to see when is the right time, especially (for) public acceptance,” Lam said.
She said there’s no point in the government relaxing the ban if the public end up not supporting the move. “They will still not buy the food, so we have to find the right situation with the needed assurance before we change the import restrictions,” she added.
Hong Kong in July lifted the ban on imports of foods including vegetables, fruits, milk, milk beverages and milk formula from the prefectures of Ibaraki, Tochigi, Chiba and Gunma nearby Fukushima.
But the ban on food imports from Fukushima, which hosts the damaged Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, remains in place.
Lam said that since the lifting of the food ban from the four prefectures, individual cases of food imports lacking needed certificates have led to law enforcement activities, which in turn impacted public confidence.
China, which restricted the import of foods and feedstuff produced in 10 of Japan’s 47 prefectures over radiation worries, has informed Japan of its intention to relax the ban through diplomatic channels, it was reported, according to the sources.
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is expected to reach a deal when he meets with Chinese Premier Li Keqiang in Beijing on Oct 26.
Defending Hong Kong’s recent moves to outlaw an independence-seeking political party and expel a foreign journalist who hosted a talk by the party’s leader, Lam insisted that the people’s rights and freedoms remain intact.
“I am not suggesting that I should, or the government should put a limit on freedom of speech or freedom of reporting in Hong Kong. I am saying, internationally, there is no absolute freedom per se. If anybody is aggrieved by the executive…they can take us to court,” she said.
Lam said judges from foreign common law jurisdictions, including Britain, Australia and Canada, sitting on the territory’s top court to adjudicate cases is proof that Hong Kong courts are not interfered with or influenced by the Chinese government.
The chief executive will embark on the five-day visit to Japan from Oct 29, a first for a Hong Kong leader since 2010. She is slated to meet with Japanese officials over issues covering government business, trade and investment, education, technology science, tourism and women’s affairs.