Court absolves government of blame in nuclear disaster

hkjml.jpgPlaintiff Takahiro Kanno, left, speaks about the verdict in Chiba’s Chuo Ward on March 14.

March 15, 2019

CHIBA–A district court here on March 14 absolved the central government of responsibility but ordered the operator of the crippled Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant to pay compensation to nine of 19 plaintiffs who evacuated to Chiba.

The Chiba District Court ordered Tokyo Electric Power Co. to pay a total of about 5.1 million yen ($45,630) to nine plaintiffs who evacuated out of radiation fears following the nuclear accident triggered by the Great East Japan Earthquake and tsunami in March 2011.

The 19 plaintiffs were from six households who voluntarily evacuated from Fukushima to Chiba Prefecture. The plaintiffs sought a total of 247 million yen from TEPCO and the central government.

While the presiding judge ordered TEPCO to pay compensation to nine plaintiffs from four households, it denied the central government’s responsibility.

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http://www.asahi.com/ajw/articles/AJ201903150041.html

Fukushima forests contain ‘most of 2011 accident cesium’

March 12, 2019

A study has found that forests contain most of the radioactive cesium released during the 2011 Fukushima Daiichi nuclear accident.

About 70 percent of the cesium released into the environment is believed to have accumulated in forests near the plant.

There has been concern that the radioactive substance could spread to residential and farming areas, because little progress has been made in decontaminating the forests.

Congenital heart disease operations rose 14% after Fukushima nuclear accident

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March 13, 2019

Murase K, et al. J Am Heart Assoc. 2019;doi:10.1161/JAHA.118.009486.

There was an increase in the number of operations performed on neonates and infants with complex congenital heart disease after the 2011 Japanese earthquake and tsunami that resulted in a nuclear accident at Fukushima, according to a study published in the Journal of the American Heart Association.

Although this research focuses on events that occurred in Japan, the potential for nuclear accidents throughout the world is a global health concern,” Kaori Murase, PhD, associate professor at Nagoya City University in Japan, said in a press release. “Our study suggests that a nuclear accident might increase the risk for complex congenital heart disease.”

Researchers analyzed data from annual surveys conducted between 2007 and 2014 by the Japanese Association for Thoracic Surgery. The years that were included in the survey were the 4 years before and after the Japanese earthquake on March 11, 2011. The surveys included information on 45 surgical classifications for congenital heart disease. Patients with congenital heart disease were categorized into two groups based on the time of occurrence during heart development, complexity and the age at operation.

There was a 14.2% increase in the number of operations per 100,000 live births for complex congenital heart disease in neonates and infants. There was no significant change in the number of operations performs in patients aged 1 to 17 years.

The cause of the increase is unknown, but we should consider the influence of the radionuclides emitted from the Fukushima nuclear power plant,” Murase and colleagues wrote. “More specific patient data such as time, location and amount of maternal exposure would be required to determine the cause.” – by Darlene Dobkowski

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https://www.healio.com/cardiology/pediatric-cardiology/news/online/%7B587ccb11-f924-4ead-aa8f-24b7da911c55%7D/congenital-heart-disease-operations-rose-14-after-fukushima-nuclear-accident

https://medicalxpress.com/news/2019-03-newborn-heart-problems-surged-fukushima.html

Ex-Tepco execs’ lawyers make final plea for acquittal over negligence in Fukushima nuclear crisis

The trial, which began in June 2017, ended on Tuesday. The court is expected to deliver its sentence on September 19.

March 12, 2019
Lawyers for three former executives of Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings Inc. called for their acquittal in their final defense plea on Tuesday in a negligence case stemming from the Fukushima nuclear crisis in 2011.
The defense team said that it was impossible for them to foresee the massive tsunami that engulfed the Fukushima No. 1 power plant and caused fuel meltdowns following a 9.0 magnitude earthquake that rocked the coastal Tohoku region.
The day after the nation marked the eighth anniversary of the March 11, 2011, disasters, the lawyers for Tsunehisa Katsumata, 78, Tepco chairman at the time of the crisis, and Ichiro Takekuro, 72, and Sakae Muto, 68, both vice presidents, told the Tokyo District Court they “do not recognize any predictability in the disaster.”
The three men have been indicted for allegedly failing to take measures against the massive tsunami and causing the deaths of 44 hospital inpatients and injuries to 13 others during the evacuations prompted by fuel meltdowns and hydrogen explosions at the plant.
Court-appointed lawyers acting as prosecutors have called for five-year prison terms for the three, claiming they could have prevented the nuclear disaster had they fulfilled their responsibilities in collecting information and taking safety measures.
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https://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2019/03/12/national/crime-legal/ex-tepco-execs-lawyers-make-final-plea-acquittal-negligence-fukushima-nuclear-crisis/?fbclid=IwAR2diwN8B9xxWiBJU5dy6WbXrgx8tSoW32lwWTqR5Vi6gRuwf04Pmi8Ziq8#.XIhZmMn7Tcs

Radioactive Glass Beads May Tell the Terrible Tale of How the Fukushima Meltdown Unfolded

177889_web (1)An autoradiograph image of a radioactive cesium microparticle, which shows the relatively high levels of radioactivity contained in the particle. Credit: Dr. Satoshi Utsunomiya

 

March 11, 2019

The microscopic particles unleashed by the plant’s explosions are also a potential environmental and health concern

On March 14 and 15, 2011, explosions unleashed invisible radioactive plumes from the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant, crippled three days earlier when the strongest recorded earthquake in Japan’s history triggered a massive tsunami. As the plumes drifted over the neighboring countryside, their contents—including radioactive cesium, a by-product of the plant’s fission reactions—fell to the ground and over the ocean.

What no one knew or expected was the fallout also contained bacteria-size glassy beads, with concentrations of radioactive cesium that were far higher than those in similar-size motes of tainted dust or dirt.

Since these particles were discovered in 2013, scientists have plucked them from soil samples and air filters throughout the contamination zone, including filters as far away as Tokyo. The beads could pose an under-recognized heath risk, researchers say, because they are tiny enough to be inhaled deep into the lungs—and their glassy makeup means they may not easily dissolve or erode. They also present an opportunity to conduct what one researcher called “nuclear forensics”: By analyzing the particles’ composition, scientists can piece together a clearer image of what happened during the white-hot violence inside the plant itself, and of the current condition of the debris in the three reactors that experienced meltdowns. This could help inform the strategy for cleaning up the ruins of the plant.

Researchers say a picture of the unusual beads is coming into focus against a backdrop of the Japanese public’s general nuclear wariness, and the government’s desire to put the Fukushima incident behind it—particularly with Tokyo poised to host the 2020 Olympics. “I think, unfortunately, the reaction to this discovery [of the beads] has been not very welcomed in Japan,” says Rod Ewing, a mineralogist and nuclear materials expert who co-directs the Center for International Security and Cooperation at Stanford University.

Read more :

https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/radioactive-glass-beads-may-tell-the-terrible-tale-of-how-the-fukushima-meltdown-unfolded/

8 years on, contaminated water remains big problem for Fukushima clean-up

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March 10, 2019

Okuma – Eight years after the Fukushima nuclear crisis, a fresh obstacle threatens to undermine the massive clean-up: 1 million tons of contaminated water must be stored, possibly for years, at the power plant.

Last year, Tokyo Electric Power Co (TEPCO) said a system meant to purify contaminated water had failed to remove dangerous radioactive contaminants.

That means most of that water – stored in 1,000 tanks around the plant – will need to be reprocessed before it is released into the ocean, the most likely scenario for disposal…

. Fanning out across the plant’s property are enough tanks to fill 400 Olympic-sized swimming pools. Machines called Advanced Liquid Processing Systems, or ALPS, had treated the water inside them.

TEPCO said the equipment could remove all radionuclides except tritium, a relatively harmless hydrogen isotope that is hard to separate from water. Tritium-laced water is released into the environment at nuclear sites around the world.

But after newspaper reports last year questioned the effectiveness of ALPS-processed water, TEPCO acknowledged that strontium-90 and other radioactive elements remained in many of the tanks.

TEPCO said the problems occurred because absorbent materials in the equipment had not been changed frequently enough.

The utility has promised to re-purify the water if the government decides that releasing it into the ocean is the best solution. It is the cheapest of five options a government task force considered in 2016; others included evaporation and burial…

.Another option is to store the water for decades in enormous tanks normally used for crude oil. The tanks have been tested for durability, said Yasuro Kawai, a plant engineer and a member of Citizens’ Commission on Nuclear Energy, a group advocating abandoning nuclear energy.

Each tank holds 100,000 tons, so 10 such tanks could store the roughly 1 million tons of water processed by ALPS so far, he said.

The commission proposes holding the tritium-laced water, which has a half life of 12.3 years, in tanks for 123 years. After that, it will be one thousandth as radioactive as it was when it went into storage…

Read more :

https://japantoday.com/category/national/Eight-years-on-contaminated-water-remains-big-problem-for-Fukushima-clean-up

 

Eight years after Fukushima nuclear meltdown, workers still facing radiation risk

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Workers at the Fukushima plant still don’t know how long they have to stay behind cleaning up the mess from the 2011 nuclear meltdown.
February 22, 2019
TEPCO officials recently said to Akahata that high-risk zones in the Fukushima Daiichi plant have become smaller and that now workers do not need to wear a full-face mask and a protective suit in 96 percent of the plant premises. This is because the level of radioactive materials in the air has decreased as a larger area of the site is now covered with concrete, according to officials. At the crippled nuclear power plant, the number of workers coping with the aftermath of the 2011 nuclear accident, though, is still more than 4,000 per day.
However, the hidden reality regarding contamination risks seems to differ from the impression the utility wanted to create by citing the figure “96 percent.” In a recently published survey of Fukushima workers conducted by TEPCO, of the respondents who are anxious about their exposure to radiation, nearly half feared that their health would be damaged in the future. In another question in the same survey, more than 40 percent were concerned about working at the nuclear power plant.
The most common reason for their concern was that they have no idea how long they need to work at the plant because it is unclear how much work remains to be done. They are also worried about the risk of radiation-induced health damage in the future with no guarantee of a stable income. Without a worker-friendly environment, the decommissioning of the crippled reactors will be extremely time-consuming.
The storage of radiation-contaminated water is another major issue. Around 100-150 tons of polluted water is produced every day at the plant, which means that a 1,000-ton tank is filled up in seven to ten days. Currently, around 1.1 million tons of radioactive water are stored on the plant premises, but under TEPCO’s plan, the maximum planned storage capacity is only 1.37 million tons.
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