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.

Read more :

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

Read more :

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.
Read more :
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

Eight years after triple meltdowns and explosions at the Fukushima-Daiichi nuclear power plant in Japan, major problems remain and many impacts are yet to manifest

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Beyond Nuclear Press Release

Thursday, March 7, 2019

TAKOMA PARK, MD — The legacy of the Fukushima nuclear disaster will continue indefinitely, creating long-term problems for human health, radioactive waste management and the environment:

  • Around 1.09 million tons of radioactively contaminated water — used to cool the destroyed reactor cores as well as groundwater flowing across the site —  is being stored onsite in growing tank farms, which are now at capacity. Absent other options, Japanese authorities are looking to dump this radioactively contaminated water into the Pacific Ocean, a move strongly opposed by Japanese fishermen, ocean protection groups and the worldwide environmental community.

 

  • In an effort to downplay or dismiss the health dangers of radiation exposure, the Japanese government has ended financial benefits to Fukushima evacuees, putting economic pressures on these families to return to the region, even though it has not been — and cannot be — adequately or effectively cleaned up and made safe for human habitation. According to noted physicist, Dr. Bruno Chareyron, who has conducted field measurements in the area, “The radioactive particles deposited on the ground in March 2011 are still there, and in Japan, millions of people are living on territories that received significant contamination.”

 

  • In order to justify the return of evacuees and claim the region is now safe, Japanese regulatory authorities have raised the allowable radiation dose from I milisievert per year to 20, an unacceptably high rate that is especially dangerous for pregnant women and children. This policy has been cited by a UN Special Rapporteur as having “potentially grave impacts on the rights of young children returning to or born in contaminated areas.”

 

  • Plans by Tepco and the Japanese government to begin removing melted reactor fuel in 2021 are fraught with risk and uncertainty since little is still known about its condition and there is no safe, permanent radioactive waste management plan in place.

 

  • The Japanese government plans to hold two events — softball and baseball — in the Fukushima Prefecture during the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, a public relations maneuver to “normalize” the situation. However, in addition to unacceptable radiation exposure doses, particularly from hot spots, the discovery of radioactive particles of reactor fuel debris in the area, including uranium and cesium, would put both athletes and spectators at risk.

 

  • The implications for returning populations to the Fukushima region come with dire warnings from the health findings in Macaque monkeys who have lived there continuously. The monkeys have been found to have bone marrows that are producing almost no blood cells, and mothers are giving birth to babies with reduced brain sizes. With a 7% difference in DNA with humans, these outcomes are alarming.

 

  • Scandals surrounding the ill treatment of workers at the stricken Fukushima plant, many of whom are migrants and already low-income, continue. UN human rights experts found these workers to have been exploited and their health willfully jeopardized, with workers coerced “into accepting hazardous working conditions because of economic hardships, and the adequacy of training and protective measures.”

 

  • Despite widespread public opposition in Japan, the Abe government continues to try to restart nuclear reactors. However, only nine of the 42 still operable reactors are back on line (out of 58 originally). The government has instead turned its attention to the nuclear export market, but this took a serious hit when Toshiba’s Westinghouse nuclear division went bankrupt two years ago and Hitachi withdrew from two new nuclear power plant projects in the UK in January 2019.

http://www.beyondnuclear.org/home/2019/3/7/eight-years-after-triple-meltdowns-and-explosions-at-the-fuk.html

‘Fukushima Speaks’ Explores Lives of Survivors

fukushima-speaks.png
February 25, 2019
On Saturday, March 9, from 1 to 5 p.m., the Fukushima Support Committee will host the North America premiere of “Fukushima Speaks,” a compelling feature-length documentary by award-winning director and independent journalist Toshikuni Doi.
The screening will take place at Art Share Los Angeles, 801 E. 4th Pl. in L.A’s Arts District.
“It is not enough for a journalist to report facts and news of what is happening, but rather it is the journalist’s duty to expose the ‘human’ underneath it all,” Doi stated. “If we fail to shed light on [universal themes]and just succeed in reporting on facts and news, to the audience, it will come across as just a matter that is happening somewhere far away, unrelated to them.”
Four years in the making, Doi has created a heart-wrenching look into the lives of Japanese residents whose lives were devastated by the 2011 Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster. Haunting images and video footage of the aftermath are reinforced by 14 personal stories of despair, guilt, and outrage.
“I lost the cornerstone of my life,” Yoko Watanabe, a self-evacuee, said in her interview. “I was determined to bury myself in Katsurao village. That was taken away from me. The reason to live, volunteering, everything was taken away from me in a flash. Now I don’t know anymore what I live for. I wonder if I am really needed in this life, and I don’t know anymore.”
The suffering of Fukushima survivors continue to this day. While the mourning of lost life is obvious, the film also explores the dire realities that are often overlooked: the loss of livelihoods due to the contamination of land and ocean, the life-threatening risks caused by radiation exposure, the emotional turmoil of families being torn apart by the decision to stay or evacuate, and the discrimination that residents now face because they are from Fukushima.
Another self-evacuee, Hikaru Hoshi, expressed indignation: “They want to blame it on us and say it was our responsibility. Whether to leave or stay…. I do not allow them to shift the burden of the accident of enormous scale to individual choices/individual responsibilities…. We lived in the area that needed to be evacuated right away. That fact was concealed from us, and some of us left on our own, or like me, some did not have time to think it through but left anyway. I felt outraged that this country was putting us against each other. The root of the matter lies somewhere else.”
Doi pointed out the urgency of releasing this documentary: “Eight years since the accident, ‘Fukushima’ is being made into the thing of the past,” he said. “As more people focus on the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, the victims are silenced and their suffering is hidden away behind the news of ‘revitalization.’ However, the wounds of the victims whose lives have been destroyed by the accident are still raw.”
Read more:

Fukushima The Seal of the Sun 太陽の蓋

February 24, 2019

This February 20th I was invited by my friend Kolin Kobayashi in Paris to the avant-première of the movie Fukushima The Seal of the Sun, followed by a short debate, then to the private reception where Japan ex-prime Minister Naoto Kan was present.

Watching this movie brought to my mind the words of Gregory Jaczko, the former chairman of the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission in 2011, in his recently released book titled Confessions of a rogue nuclear regulator :

« And what about the problems that no engineer, scientist, or safety regulator can foresee. No amount of planning can prepare a plant for every situation. Every disaster makes its own rules – and humans cannot learn them in advance ».

« Generations of nuclear professionals have never experienced the confusion of a nuclear accident as it is happening. So it is essential that we remember and teach the lessons of Three Mile Island, chernobyl and Fukushima, for reviewing these accidents shows common themes of missed opportunities, human failings, and technological overconfidence. No amount of forgetting can change these simple facts. »

« As I learned in the wake of the Fukushima accident, crises on this scale are often characterized by incoherent communication and conflicting information. Both the Three Mile island and the Fukushima disasters featured contradictory assessments of the state of the reactor, a limited appreciation of the fact that the damage to the reactor had occured very early, and rapidly changing statements from elected officials. To the public, these statements can appear to suggest prevarication or incompetence. But when government officials – imperfect human beings like everyone else – try to make sense of the complicated physics of a nuclear reactor, they will invariably make mistakes in communication. »

Especially as in the Fukushima accident where TEPCO was not straightforward in giving the true facts to the Japanese government, but always prevaricating.

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Synopsis of the movie Fukushima The Seal of the Sun
On March 11, 2011, Japan is rocked by an earthquake, followed by a tsunami and the triple nuclear disaster of Fukushima. Prime Minister Naoto Kan’s team is trying to cope with this situation.
What really happened at the Prime Minister’s residence at the time of the worst crisis in the country’s history? Has the truth been fully revealed?

3 questions to the director – Futoshi Sato

How did you arrive on this project and how did you work with the producer and actors of the film?

Born in the area that was devastated by the 2011 earthquake, I wanted to talk about it, but I was wondering what might be the approach to make it a movie. For his part, Mr. Tamiyoshi Tachibana wondered about the possibility of adapting the book written by Tetsuro Fukuyama, Deputy Director of the Cabinet of Naoto Kan. “The Nuclear Crisis – A Testimony from the Residence of the Prime Minister” is a fundamental work that tells the truth of the events that occurred on those days at the Residence.

If this project was able to start and be realized, it is thanks to the total and complete implication of Mr Tamiyoshi Tachibana. The entire project team has been involved in the discussions around the script and during our debates, we thought it was necessary to make a choral film with in the center, the members of the Cabinet, but also with the journalists on the lookout for scoops, the workers of the power plant, as well as the inhabitants of the surrounding villages. As for casting, we managed to bring together actors who were completely convinced of the importance of the subject. We gave them all the information so that they thoroughly understand the issues of the film and their characters.

Was it important to you that the events would be experienced in a balanced way through the politicians and the people directly at the forefront of the disaster?

According to the people who experienced these events, their feeling completely varies. To make it a film capable of witnessing this story in all its diversity, we decided to adopt the different points of view of the protagonists. It was not possible to convey this reality to the public otherwise.

I remember that Naoto Kan told us: “If you represent the truth about the nuclear accident with firmness in the film, you can choose any method of expression.” He wanted the facts to be well presented. I started filming in a direction that was not meant to be easy. Instead, it was necessary to treat with audacity, an atmosphere of crisis due to a management and consequences quite unknown.

Which part of the movie is truth and which part is fiction?

The information, as to the reactions and attitudes of TEPCO following the nuclear accident, and those that have been passed on to the government are all true. We also had to do some research to recreate some scenes. In addition, about what had happened during these 5 days, it was impossible to extract and reproduce the huge amount of data.

For these reasons, and in order to stay true to the facts and to make a fiction easier to understand, we created a fictional character unfolding the story. We have made this journalist a kind of guide, to follow this whole story. The words and situations of certain scenes have been created to cover all events. On the other hand, the politicians, who are public figures, appear in the film under their true identities. Their dialogues and actions are also based on true facts.

3 questions au producteur – Tamiyoshi Tachibana

In 2011, you were close to Naoto Kan, the Japanese Prime Minister. Through this film, was it your intention to restore a truth that the latter experienced during this crisis?

At the time, I was simply a friend, one of his cadets in politics. It was only after the earthquake that I became a real member of his support group. It is not to reproduce the experience of the crisis experienced by Naoto Kan that I produced this film. The media and public opinion, manipulated by the latter, were totally hostile to the Prime Minister, accusing him of having aggravated the accident and amplified the damage. Faced with this rejection, I was plagued by anger and disgust as they led me to make this film to put things in order.

The reactors’ accident could, in the worst case, have caused the evacuation of the entire population living within a radius of 250km, including Tokyo, a total of 50 million people. Naoto Kan was the only one to have guessed the extreme gravity of the accident and to have realized that we were one step away from the collapse of Japan. If he had not been Prime Minister, if the crisis had to be managed by another in his place, the country could have been completely destroyed.

You have kept the real names of the various protagonists. What were the reactions of the people implicated, in particular the leaders of TEPCO, the company that managed the Fukushima power station?

Four politicians appear under their real names. In the history of Japanese cinema, this is the first time that characters, in a fiction film, take the true identity of people who really exist. Thus Naoto Kan is still present in the political life of Japan.

As for the other members of the government, as well as the officials and employees of TEPCO (TOBI in the film), these are not their real names, but we can easily imagine who they are!

However, there was no protest or legal proceedings on their part. I do not know if they saw the movie … or not. If they saw it, they did not want to talk about it publicly. I hope that today, they are a little ashamed of this catastrophic situation of which they are, in part, responsible.

What was the impact of the film when it was released in Japan? Has it sparked a real public debate as Japanese nuclear power resumed its place in the country, as if nothing had happened in 2011?

The accident at the Fukushima nuclear power station inspired the authors of “Shin Godzilla” (the new Gozilla), a movie released in Japan on July 29, 2016. That movie was designed by two of the largest film production companies for a total budget of 13 million euros. Thanks to this film, the producers have earned more than 64 million euros!

On our side, our film was screened in independent theaters. Obviously, this has not been the same success, especially in terms of financial benefits.

Citizens continue to organize weekly independent screenings. It should be noted that the 54 nuclear reactors, distributed among the 18 Japanese plants, were shut down in September 2013.

7 years after the disaster, 9 units restarted. The film has become a powerful vector for citizens who speak out against the restart.

Aujourd’hui, environ 70 % de la population est en effet opposée à l’énergie nucléaire.

Sources :

Synopsis of the movie, provided by Destiny Films, translated by Hervé Courtois (D’un Renard)

Confessions of a rogue nuclear regulator by gregory B. Jaczko, published by Simon & Schuster, New York, 2019