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Fukushima Commentary (blog)


Fukushima Commentary

These postings address four questions. What Japanese decisions border on the irrational? Is the Fukushima accident ongoing? Does Fukushima have the potential for world-wide apocalyptic disaster? Are the Fukushima radiation levels health-threatening?

"Fukushima : The First Five Days"...a book taken from the records kept by the operating staff at Fukushima Daiichi during the first crucial days of the crisis. It is now available at all E-book outlets. For the PDF and bundle... (click here)

NEW E-BOOK - "Kimin: Japan's Forgotten People" - the untold story of Japan's 300,000 tsunami refugees, ignored by the world's news media. for Availability... (click here)

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May 10, 2015

260th Carnival of Nuclear Energy Bloggers

The Hiroshima Syndrome’s Fukushima Commentary is proudly hosting the 260th edition of the Carnival of Nuclear Bloggers. This week we have postings by Dan Yurman, Dr. Gail Marcus, Guy Page, Meredith Angwin, Mark Reddemann, Dr. Jim Conca and Leslie Corrice.

Here’s the Fact or Fiction (?) quiz for this week… The atomic nucleus was discovered in May of 1911 by Ernest Rutherford.

Now…for this week’s Blogs. To read the full articles, please click on the individual links. Blog topics for this edition include… Areva is having a cascade of crises, some disconcerting signs of things to come, the need to keep existing power sources, Indian Point fire gets typical antinuclear responses, Columbia Generating Station sets a new record, and a man who has lived inside the Fukushima evacuation zone for three years.

*              *              *

From Neutron Bytes

Can Areva survive a cascade of crises?

Phillippe Knoche, Areva’s CEO, at this point in his brief history at the head of the firm, could probably be forgiven for thinking that without too much trouble he could throw a rock in just about any direction and hear the clang of its impact on side of one of the firm’s major crises. The past month has seen them pop up like a string of volcanic islands rising from the ocean. Areva’s troubles may be because the firm’s financial crisis is growing due to forces that appear to be beyond its control. http://neutronbytes.com/2015/05/09/will-areva-survive-a-cascade-of-crises/

From Nuke Power Talk

Projecting the Future: Some Bad Omens?

Gail Marcus comments on two recent reports that are very different, but both have significant potential implications for the future.  One report involves U.S. investments in R&D in cutting-edge areas, while the other relates to apparent weaknesses in teaching critical thinking skills in some technical areas. http://nukepowertalk.blogspot.com/2015/05/projecting-future.html

From Yes Vermont Yankee – (2)

Slow Renewable Growth Means We Must Retain Existing Power Sources

(A guest post by Guy Page of Vermont Energy Partnership) Despite much hype, and many plans for rapid renewable deployment, the actual growth of renewable power in Vermont remains sluggish.  Meanwhile, Vermont Yankee no longer produces low-carbon power within the state of Vermont.  To keep clean power available for Vermont, the state must encourage the continued operation of hydro and nuclear plants in the rest of New England. http://yesvy.blogspot.com/2015/05/slow-renewable-growth-means-we-must.html#.VU90jnqRlig

(and)

Transformer Fires? Erosion-Corrosion? Recent Events at Indian Point and Vermont Yankee

A Transformer fire at Indian Point nuclear station is getting many headlines. Two antinuclear spokespersons, one national and one from the New England Coalition, imply “The plant is aging and can’t run anymore.” Meredith Angwin says a deeper look shows that less than 1% of last year’s transformer fires happened at nukes… not because they were old, but because they were new. (Repost of a 2010 article showing how nuclear critics make mountaions out of molehills)  http://yesvy.blogspot.com/2010/11/transformer-fires-erosion-corrosion.html#.VU_q06McQdV

From Northwest Clean Energy Blog

The commitment we made

(Guest post by Mark Reddemann, CEO of Energy Northwest) Columbia Generating Station (CGS) just compiled a 683 day breaker-to-breaker run, setting a "personal best" continuous operating record for the plant. This was largely due to the Excellence in Performance Initiative, a structured program which is moving CGS toward  the top quartile of industry performance. The cost of producing power at CGS has decreased by about 4% each year, over the past five years. In the years from 2012 to 2021, CGS operation (plus debt restructuring in conjunction with Bonneville Power Authority) will save more than $1.3 billion dollars in Bonneville rates. https://northwestcleanenergy.wordpress.com/2015/05/09/the-commitment-we-made/

From Fukushima Commentary

Macchan – the animal lover who lives inside the Fukushima evacuation zone

A Japanese animal lover has been living inside the Tokyo-mandated Fukushima exclusion zone for three years. He calls himself “Macchan”, which means “friend”. He returned home to feed his pets, and when the other neighboring animals “went wild” he decided to stay and take care of them all. One Kyoto University doctor said it is inconceivable that a normal person would live inside the no-go zone, but Macchan is anything but normal. http://www.hiroshimasyndrome.com/fukushima-commentary.html

 

From Jim Conca at Forbes Magazine –

 

When Should A Nuclear Power Plant Be Refueled?

 

As infrequently as possible. The Columbia Generating Station in Richland, WA just set a personal nuclear best on the eve of Mother’s Day when it began its latest refueling outage after operating for 683 days without stopping once. During this 683 days, the nuclear plant produced nearly 18 billion kWhs of electricity and operated at a capacity factor of over 98%, exceeding any other source of energy in history. It also averaged less than 5¢/kWh and emitted less than 20 grams of CO2/kWhr. http://www.forbes.com/sites/jamesconca/2015/05/11/when-should-a-nuclear-power-plant-be-refueled/

 

*              *              *

Fact or Fiction (?) quiz answer – Fiction? In a way yes…and in a way, no. We’ll let you decide.

In 1909, Rutherford noticed scattering when he bombarded gold foil with Alpha particle radiation. He asked his student, Ernest Marsden, to measure the angles at which the scattering occurred, especially to find out if any actually scattered backwards. Rutherford did not expect Marsden to find any backwards scattering, but it would test the bright young man’s experimental skills. Though unexpected, Marsden found that many Alphas did seem to scatter backwards. Literally in disbelief, he repeated the experiment many times before feeling confident enough to share his observations with Rutherford. Rutherford took more than a year to publish on Marsden’s work because it suggested that the prevailing atomic model of JJ Thompson was incorrect and would surely lead to wide debate. Rutherford submitted his paper to Philosophical Magazine in March of 1911, and it was published by the Journal in May of that year.  http://www.aps.org/publications/apsnews/200605/history.cfm

May 8, 2015

Macchan – the animal lover who lives inside the Fukushima evacuation zone

I have all the respect in the world for people who love animals. I live with three cats, and we are the best-possible friends. Animals love humans that care for them, and the love goes both ways.

A Fukushima resident (Tomioka Town) loves animals. So much, in fact, that he has wholly ignored the Tokyo mandated evacuation order and has lived within the “no-go” zone for nearly three years, about 6 miles from Fukushima Daiichi. He tends to the animals that survived abandonment resulting from the evacuation order of 2011. His name is Naoto Matsumura. He calls himself “Guardian of Fukushima’s Animals” on his Facebook page.

One might think that a man this bold, literally thumbing his nose at the establishment, would be something Japan’s largely-liberal Press would devour like a hungry wolves. However, the opposite seems to be the case, and it’s same with the major news outlets around the world. Information on this remarkable man can only be found on “second-level” news sources such as the Good News Network, VICE.com, Wamiz (an animal news site) and Mirror.com. The Mirror dubs Matsumura “Last Man Standing” and VICE labels him “Radioactive Man”. I’ll refer to him by his chosen nickname – Macchan – which seems to mean “friend”.

Macchan defied government orders in 2012 intending a brief visit at his Tomioka home to check on his farm’s dogs. He was surprised that no-one tried to stop him at the border of the exclusion zone. He ignored the warning signs and crossed the invisible border. Once he arrived at his empty home, he was struck by the plight of the abandoned neighborhood pets and decided to remain and tend to all of them; including cats, ducks, pigs, ostriches, cattle, and a pony. The animals thrive today because of Macchan. He comes and goes from the no-go zone because there are no laws forbidding him to do it. He manages to pay for needs of the animals, and himself, through personal savings and donations he gets through his web page.

He and his family evacuated to Iwaki when Tokyo ordered everyone to leave, but he eventually returned to Tomioka. Not because of a sentimental yearning to go home. Not because of a middle-aged man’s stubborn refusal to change. He simply could not leave his beloved farm animals unattended. When he first fed his own dogs, others ”started going crazy” so he fed and watered them too. Macchan recalls, “From then on, I fed all the cats and dogs every day. They couldn’t stand the wait, so they’d all gather around barking up a storm as soon as they heard my truck.”

There are many questions we might ask concerning his decision to live in the zone and take care of the abandoned animals.

Is he being stubborn? Perhaps, considering what Macchan told one reporter, “I was born and raised in this town. When I die, it’s going to be in Tomioka.”

Is he concerned that the radiation exposure he is getting will eventually harm him? Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAEA) examined him and said he might be the most radioactive man in Japan. Macchan said, “[JAEA] told me that I wouldn’t get sick for 30 or 40 years. I’ll most likely be dead then anyway, so I couldn’t care less.” 

Does he ever worry about the radiation? “I got used to the radiation. It’s not like I can see it, after all,” he says. Macchan adds that others who come and go from the no-go zone stop worrying about it, as well.

Why isn’t he afraid of radiation, like the vast majority of Fukushima’s evacuees? Macchan waxes nostalgic, “I was scared at first because I knew the radiation had spread everywhere. The next thought in my head was that if I stayed too long I’d end up with cancer or leukemia. But, the longer I was with the animals, the more I came to see that we were all still healthy and that we would be OK.”

Does he have a Geiger counter to monitor his exposure? Macchan answers, “Needles on the Geiger counter never stop moving, so if you brought one with you then you might still care. That’s why I don’t carry one. Even if I had one, I wouldn’t use it.”

One reporter brought a Geiger counter along for an interview with Macchan. Inside his house, the device read 2 microsieverts per hour. Outside, the reading was seven µSv/hr. Even though he lives in a place that exceeds Japan’s severe radiation exposure limit of 0.6 µSv/hr, Macchan is undeterred. One Kyoto University doctor said it is inconceivable that a normal person would live inside the no-go zone, but Macchan is anything but normal.

How does Macchan’s average exposure compare to the high natural radiation levels in the world. Tokyo researchers have found that the maximum amount of time the average farmer spends outdoors is about 8 hours per day. Using these values, Macchan would be getting about 88 µSv/day, or roughly 32 millisieverts per year…well-above Japan’s evacuation tipping point of 20 mSv/yr. However, Macchan’s annual exposure compares closely with the highest recorded populated beach areas of Guarapari, Brazil and Kerala, India, both at 35 mSv/yr. Further, Macchan’s annual dose is nearly eight times lower than what we find in Ramsar, Iran, which has a whopping 260 mSv/yr. In all three cases, the populations have no higher cancer incidences or death rates than their fellow countrymen. Thus, we can safely say that Macchan has nothing to worry about.

What does Macchan envision for the future?  He says, “Animals and humans are the same… it could provide good experimental data for comparison with humans. If the animals survive, then there’s nothing to worry about. But, if the animals start giving birth to deformed young a few generations down the line, then things could get crazy.”

No matter what happens “down the line”, it seems Macchan will be there to witness it.

References:

1. Radioactive Man; VICE America; http://www.vice.com/read/radioactive-man-japan

2. Last Man Standing: Fukushima animal lover stayed behind after nuclear disaster to feed abandoned animals; Mirror, UK; http://www.mirror.co.uk/news/world-news/last-man-standing-fukushima-animal-5338383

3. Four years after Fukushima, just one man lives in the exclusion zone – to look after the animals; Wamiz, UK; http://wamiz.co.uk/naoto-matsumura-macchan-fukushima-animals/

4. Just One Man Remains in Fukushima Radiation Zone – He’s Feeding All the Animals Left Behind; Good News Network; http://www.goodnewsnetwork.org/just-one-man-remains-in-fukushima-radiation-zone-hes-feeding-all-the-pets-left-behind/

April 18, 2015

Japanese court injunction not a result of misunderstanding

On Tuesday, April 22nd, a Fukui Prefecture court issued an injunction against restarting Takahama units 3&4. Maverick Justice Hideaki Higuchi, who headed the Fukui judicial panel, personally attacked the regulatory process administered by Tokyo’s Nuclear Regulation Authority, saying “the standards lack rationality”. On Wednesday, the NRA’s Chairman, Shunichi Tanaka, responded to the judge’s uncalled-for criticism. Tanaka said the court decision must be due to a “misunderstanding” of the facts, and, “many things that are based on misunderstandings are written in the verdict…It is internationally recognized that our new regulatory regime is one of the strictest… but that was apparently not understood (by the judge).”

As I commented in Fukushima Updates on April 16th, it is literally unthinkable that any judge in Japan would say “The [NRA] standards lack rationality” merely based on a misunderstanding of the facts. I find it inconceivable that anyone in Japan would not know about Japan’s regulatory system being hailed as more than sufficiently strict to assure safety. I am of the firm belief that Higuchi’s injunction is a cold, calculated moveintended to needlessly delay nuke restarts. He knows exactly what he is doing. The question thus becomes; why did he do it?

First… he did it because he could. Higuchi headed another Fukui panel that filed a similar injunction nearly a year ago against Oi units 3&4, which are in Fukui Prefecture. With that prior practice under his belt, he did it again, modifying the Oi injunction’s terminology to make the Takahama injunction have greater legal certitude. It doesn’t matter that the local officials of the community hosting the Takahama station, the Fukui Assembly, and the prefecture’s governor have all approved the restart. Higuchi found he could file an injunction, no matter what anyone else might have done. This is the modus operandi of decided antinukes around the world – use legal methods to be as obstreperous as possible and create delays in the process. Judge Higuchi has demonstrated that he is definitely an antinuke.

But deeper, unstated reasons surely exist for Higuchi’s grandiose, self-absorbed action. It is likely he suffers the psychological traumas caused by radiophobia (mortal fear of radiation) and the Hiroshima Syndrome (mortal fear of nuclear energy based, in great part, on the conviction that there is no safe level of radiation exposure).

Higuchi argues that the NRA regulations do not provide absolute assurance of safety, and he asserts that absolute safety with nukes is not possible. In other words, the only “safe” nuke, in Higuchi’s opinion, is one that is not operating.

The plaintiffs in the case allege that safety upgrades at Takahama made since 3/11/11 cannot unconditionally guarantee that an earthquake will never cause another Fukushima. Unless Higuchi has been living in an informational vacuum, he must be well-aware that the Great East Japan Earthquake did not cause the Fukushima accident. The culprit was the massive tsunami. Basing the injunction on earthquake-based conjecture, flies in the face of the facts. As opined in Japan’s largest newspaper, Yomiuri Shimbun, “We have no choice but to call it an irrational decision. Such a stance seeking zero risk is unrealistic.” The bottom line here is that Higuchi doesn’t care about the facts; all he cares about is stopping nuke restarts at all costs.

An even deeper, albeit unstated reason behind the injunction seems to be this… On the vanishingly slim chance that an earthquake of biblical proportion happens, and all the emergency power supply upgrades fail resulting in a Fukushima-like nuke accident, citizens near the plant will be exposed to low level radiation. It doesn’t matter how much or how little exposure manifests, only zero exposure can guarantee absolute safety in the decidedly radiophobic persuasion, and absolute safety is what Higuchi demands. This is the no-safe-level assumption in action. His dread seems amplified by the residual paranoia still gripping millions of Japanese concerning Hiroshima/Nagasaki. A Japanese colleague recently revealed that a rather common belief in Japan is that all ~200,000 who died from the two bombs in 1945 was because of radiation exposure. This is the Hiroshima Syndrome in action. 

Thus, I contend that Mr. Tanaka’s position of Higuchi’s verbal broadside being the result of mere misunderstanding is, in all probability, incorrect. Higuchi is doing what he can to delay due process because he is deathly afraid of radiation. The judge is confused, but not with the facts concerning the NRA. He misunderstands radiation! He needs to learn, and embrace, the realities of radiation; what it can do, and what it cannot. He is contributing to Japan’s wide-spread fear of radiation. Clearly, he would not know a gamma ray from a doorknob…and it scares him to death.

Update 4/22/15 – This morning, the Kagoshima District court ruled on a similar filing concerning the two Sendai units expected to be the first Japanese nukes to restart later this year. Kagoshima’s presiding Judge Ikumasa Maeda rebuked the opinion Judge Higuchi, saying, “No unreasonableness is evident in new regulatory standards set by the NRA for nuclear power generation.” End Update

April 15, 2015

Japanese Press needs education on radiation

On Friday, April 10, 2014, a high-tech robot was sent inside the primary containment (PCV) of Fukushima Daiichi unit #1. The device had traversed more than two-thirds of its planned path when it became stuck. It would no longer move. The robot’s camera, radiation detector, and temperature monitor continued to fully function. But, after two days of trying to get the robot moving again, the operators decided to sever the connecting power cable and abandon it.

Now, here’s the problem. The robot recorded that the radiation level inside the PCV was 9.7 sieverts per hour. All but one of the Press outlets in Japan said that this would kill a human being in an hour. (1)  The clear implication being that if a person were in a radiation field of this magnitude for an hour, they would literally keel over dead. This is pure science fiction, most recently depicted in last fall’s movie Blackhat. In Blackhat, a person inside the high-exposure-level control room succumbs to the radiation in about 10 minutes.

It would never happen like that with the radiation levels depicted in the movie, and certainly not with those detected inside F. Daiichi unit #1’s PCV. If a person were on the 9.7 Sv/hr field for an hour, the exposure would certainly cause Acute Radiation Syndrome (ARS), and the person would possibly die. But, not on the spot!

ARS symptoms from this level of exposure would take time to manifest. In general, the symptoms would be (at ~10 Sievert exposure over a short period of time); nausea and vomiting beginning about an hour after exposure, diarrhea in 1-3 hours, headache in 1-2 hours, moderate to severe elevated body temperature (fever) in about an hour, and an onset of detectible nervous system dysfunction in less than 24 hours. Nearly all symptoms will literally disappear after a day or two, but resurface a few days later with more intensity. Without medical attention, death would take 2-4 weeks to occur.

But not all persons exposed to 10 Sieverts would die… some, perhaps, but not all. As the time needed to reach a potentially lethal exposure increases, our natural cellular and genetic repair mechanisms can significantly counteract the damage being experienced. Thus, an exposure that takes an hour to accumulate will have a much less potential for lethality than one that takes but a few minutes. Further, it is with exposures of 30 Sieverts or more over a short period of time where everyone would certainly die. A key point is that the lowest one-hour exposure that might cause a person to almost immediately swoon is in the 50-100 Sievert range.

The CDC explains that for ARS to occur the radiation dose must be high, the radiation be a type that penetrates (i.e. gamma or neutron), the entire body (or most of it) exposed, and the dose must be absorbed in a short period of time, typically within minutes. The CDC emphasizes that, “After the initial symptoms, a person usually looks and feels healthy for a period of time, after which he or she will become sick again.” In addition, the typical cause of death (if it occurs) would be destruction of enough bone marrow to allow severe infections and internal bleeding. (2)

In other words, a 9.7 Sievert exposure over the course of an hour would take at least a week for death to occur with some people, but it is not an absolute death sentence! Only one Japanese Press outlet (that I have found) got it right – Wall Street Journal’s Japan RealTime. It says, “…short-term exposure to 10 sieverts is enough to kill a person within a few weeks.” (3)

All of the above information could have been uncovered on the internet in less than an hour by any responsible journalist. It is not rocket science, per se. Thus, all of Japan’s Press could have easily, and correctly, reported the medical truth, however all but one failed to make the effort.

Clearly, the Japanese Press needs a good education on radiation; what it can do, and what it cannot. Having radiation-ignorant reporting will eventually cause loss of credibility with the Japanese public. In a country with millions upon millions who suffer radiophobia (mortal fear of radiation), it seems a moral imperative to relate such information correctly and not in a fashion that only proliferates science-fiction-based misinformation.

References:

1. Radiation Levels Reach 9.7 Sieverts inside TEPCO N-Reactor; Jiji Press; 4/13/15. http://jen.jiji.com/jc/eng?g=eco&k=2015041300788 (a representative example from a relatively objective news outlet)

2. Acute Radiation Syndrome (ARS): A Fact Sheet for the Public; Center for Disease Control.  http://emergency.cdc.gov/radiation/ars.asp

3. What the Robot Saw: Images from Inside Fukushima Reactor; Japan RealTime, 4/14/15. http://blogs.wsj.com/japanrealtime/2015/04/14/what-the-robot-saw-images-from-inside-fukushima-reactor/

April 11, 2015

Evaporation is not the answer to Fukushima’s Tritium issue

It seems Tepco will look into any possibility for the reduction of Tritium-laced waters being stored at F. Daiichi in order to dull the pain from the constant socio-political bashing they suffer. However, the latest consideration is nothing more than an exercise in futility… the use of atmospheric evaporation instead of release to the sea.

Hundreds of thousands of tons of water at F. Daiichi have been run through the multistep radionuclide removal process, lowering all concentrations below Tepco’s ridiculously low, self-imposed limits for release…except for Tritium. The Tritium is biologically harmless with the levels found in the Fukushima waste waters, but Tepco is reluctant to do what the rest of the world would do and pump the liquid out to sea. Why? Because any detectible level of radioactivity released to the Pacific exacerbates consumer shunning of Fukushima seafood in Japan’s major markets. Though biologically innocuous, the numbers associated with the concentrations are huge – hundreds of thousands to millions of Becquerels per liter. Big numbers tend to incite panic in the radiophobic demographic, even if below the no observable adverse effect level (NOAEL). All reported concentrations are below NOAEL.

Kurion Corp. is set to provide a Tritium removal technology at F. Daiichi. It will reduce the concentrations by several orders of magnitude, resulting in levels below Japan’s 10,000 Becquerels per liter drinking water limit. However, the process is relatively time consuming and costly. Now, Tepco is considering another couple of options in parallel – evaporation and deep geological burial.

Burial will have its own issues that make it a problem, such as siting the location for it. In all likelihood, public opposition will be considerable, and perhaps impossible to overcome. Thus we might ask… is evaporation a viable, realistic solution?

Evaporation was used to treat waste waters at Three Mile Island. At TMI, about 9,000 tons of contaminated water was evaporated, but it took over two and one-half years!  That was about 10 tons per day. More than 300,000 tons of F. Daiichi waste waters have already been fully processed, and another ~250,000 tons await processing. The numbers increase at a rate of about 300 tons per day. The point is that evaporation is a very, very slow process that will not work fast enough to curb the rate of contaminated water production, let alone make the tiniest of dents in the waters currently stored.

In addition, there’s one historical problem that cannot be avoided. Evaporation will release the Tritium into the atmosphere, rather than isolating or eliminating it. Japan’s numerically-significant radiophobic demographic will like this no more than the thought of releasing it to the sea. Former US NRC chairman Dale Klein explains, "They [Tepco] have huge volumes of water so they cannot evaporate it like they did at Three Mile Island.If they did it would likely be evaporated, go out over the ocean, condense and fall back as rainwater. There's no safety enhancement." In other words, one way or another, it’s going to end up in the sea, and the radiophobic millions in Japan will not in the least be appeased.

I would quibble one point with Mr. Klein. The Tritium concentrations at F. Daiichi are harmless. How can there be a “safety enhancement” on a process that is already absolutely safe? We’re not dealing with actual safety, in this case. We’re dealing with the perception of safety. I think that Klein means there will be no perceived safety enhancement. Evaporation will release radiation, and phobic fear of radiation is the singular issue.

In my honest opinion, here’s the bottom line on what ought to be done with the waste waters piling up at F. Daiichi. Evaporation will have to surmount the same major socio-political hurdles as unrestricted release of tritiated waters. It will be socio-politically unacceptable because evaporation will make the air (shudder) radioactive and will rain into the ocean when the wind blows out to sea. On the other hand, dilution to below Japan’s standard for release (60,000 Bq/liter), and pumping it out to sea…which can begin immediately, by the way…will result in the same socio-political harangues while providing the quickest, cheapest path to an effective, harmless resolution.

The best way to go seems obvious. The only roadblock is unrealistic, phobic public fear. It seems the fear will never be overcome, at least not soon enough to make a difference in the wastewater situation at F. Daiichi. Sometimes, the best thing to do is not the most popular choice. Tepco, and Tokyo’s NRA, should start diluting and releasing the waters ASAP, and decide to live the radiophobic repercussions.

April 4, 2015

Fukushima Accident Chasing

The past three years have witnessed numerous public-generated lawsuits concerning the Fukushima accident. Some want Tepco officials tried as criminals, but many more have tried to make Tepco pay even more to the evacuees than the generous stipends currently being given them. All of these legal actions have one thing in common; none have been successful. But, one thing is certain…the lawyers representing the plaintiffs in the failed cases have succeeded in getting paid.

Now, reason for litigation emerges that defies logic. In this case, the evacuees are neither asking for money nor alleging that Tepco officials are criminals. Rather, they are trying to prove that the government is breaking the law by allowing them to return home! This is a turn-about that takes one’s breath away. For four years, the constant mantra of the Fukushima refugees has been that they cannot return home. Now that some can, they try to sue Tokyo for getting their wish, based on what seems to be a fabrication…and there are attorneys who have agreed to represent them.  

Minamisoma residents are going to sue the Tokyo government for lifting evacuation restrictions on about 150 homes. Rather than be relieved, many are willing to risk their money to prove that the removal of restrictions has placed their health and well-being in jeopardy. Based on what? They contend that the limit for radiation exposure under the law on Special Measures Concerning Nuclear Emergency Preparedness has always been one millisievert per year, but the restriction was lifted at a level of 20 mSv/yr. The plaintiff’s attorney purports, “The government has selfishly raised the limit on annual public radiation exposure from 1 millisievert set before the nuclear crisis to 20 millisieverts, having residents return to their homes still exposed to high doses of radiation. This is an illegal act that violates the residents’ right to a healthy environment guaranteed by the Constitution and international human rights laws.” (1)

However, upon studying both the Act on Special Measures Concerning Nuclear Emergency Preparedness (2) and the inter-related Act on Special Measures Concerning Nuclear Emergency Preparedness (3), we find nothing about a one mSv/yr limitation on repopulation. There is no radiation exposure levels stated for repopulation, at all. Further, there is no mention of 1 mSv/yr anywhere in either of the documents. In point of fact, the lowest actual rate of exposure mentioned in either of the above, is in reference #3. It states that the operator of a nuclear plant must notify local officials when measurements at the site’s property boundary reaches or exceeds five mSv per hour! There are other criteria with higher stated dose-rate trigger points, but the 5 mSv/hr level is the one referenced repeatedly in the Law allegedly being violated by Tokyo. It is the lowest stated exposure level to be found, and it has nothing to do with repopulation.

Further, the stipulation that Japan’s citizens have a right to health and well-being is not in either of these legal documents. It is only to be found in yet another law - Basic Law of Disaster Countermeasures (4) – which applies to all cataclysms. (Article 3; paragraph 1) Even in this law, there is no mention of a one mSv/yr limit for repopulation, or anything else, for that matter.

One mSv/yr was a decontamination goal created by the Tokyo government under the now-deposed Democratic Party of Japan regime. 20 mSv/yr was initially invoked as a decontamination goal, based on guidelines held by the UN’s International Atomic Energy Agency. However, Japan’s politically-vocal demographic claimed that 20 mSv/yr was not safe enough, so the DPJ under PMs Kan and Noda kept lowering the decontamination goal until public pressure became a non-burden to them. The final decontamination goal was set at 1mSv/yr. A goal is not a legal limit, but it seems the future suit’s plaintiffs believe otherwise, and their well-paid attorney is going along with it.

Clearly, there is no just cause for the lawsuit. In the interest of correctness, the attorneys for the plaintiffs ought to advise their clients that they have no case based on what is contained in Law on Special Measures Concerning Nuclear Emergency Preparedness, or the other two laws that apparently overlap it. However, it is not the best of all possible worlds in Japan with respect to the Fukushima accident. If plaintiffs claim harm, or potential harm, relative to the radiation that came from Fukushima, they will always be able to find attorneys willing to be paid as the suit’s legal representation. Whether or not their clients actually have a case doesn’t seem to matter. Instead of chasing ambulances, some attorneys in Japan are chasing the Fukushima accident.

References:

1 – http://ajw.asahi.com/article/0311disaster/fukushima/AJ201504010062

2 - http://www.japaneselawtranslation.go.jp/law/detail_main?re=2&vm=02&id=106

3 - https://www.nsr.go.jp/archive/nsc/NSCenglish/documents/laws/8.pdf

4 - http://www.adrc.asia/documents/law/DisasterCountermeasuresBasicAct.pdf

March 29, 2015

254th Carnival of Nuclear Energy Bloggers

The Hiroshima Syndrome’s Fukushima Commentary is proudly hosting the 254th edition of the Carnival of Nuclear Bloggers. This week we have postings by Dan Yurman, Dr. Jim Conca, Meredith Angwin, Dr. Gail Marcus, Rod Adams, Rick Maltese, and Leslie Corrice.

Here’s the Fact or Fiction (?) quiz for this week… Albert Einstein’s book “Relativity” went through fifteen editions.

Now…for this week’s Blogs. To read the full articles, please click on the individual links.

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From Dan Yurman’s Neutron Bytes (2) –

Areva Struggles to Dig Out of Debt

 http://neutronbytes.com/2015/03/21/areva-struggles-to-dig-out-of-debt/

(and)

Mideast nuclear projects report a mix of progress and perils

http://neutronbytes.com/2015/03/29/mideast-nuclear-projects-report-a-mix-of-progress-and-perils/

From Dr. Jim Conca of Forbes magazine (2) -  

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission Thinks America Should Be More Like Europe

 http://www.forbes.com/sites/jamesconca/2015/03/23/the-nuclear-regulatory-commission-thinks-america-should-be-more-like-europe/

(and)

We Need To Get This Iranian Nuclear Deal Done

 http://www.forbes.com/sites/jamesconca/2015/03/26/we-need-to-get-this-iranian-nuclear-deal-passed/

From Meredith Angwin’s Yes Vermont Yankee (2) -

Distributed Generation for Vermont: Making a Virtue of Necessity

 http://yesvy.blogspot.com/2015/03/distributed-generation-for-vermont.html#.VRG2AzpYjNg

(and)

Support for Ginna: Write a Comment to New York State 

 http://yesvy.blogspot.com/2015/03/support-for-ginna-write-comment-to-new.html#.VRgznDpYjNg

And Meredith Angwin also sends us…

From Northwest Clean Energy (2) –

The next generation…and nuclear energy 

https://northwestcleanenergy.wordpress.com/2015/03/21/the-next-generation-and-nuclear-energy/

(and)

New poll reveals Washington state opinions on nuclear energy

https://northwestcleanenergy.wordpress.com/2015/03/25/new-poll-reveals-washington-state-opinions-on-nuclear-energy/

From Dr. Gail Marcus’ Nuke Power Talk

Nuclear News from Japan, Part 2: An Interesting Rumor 

http://nukepowertalk.blogspot.com/2015/03/nuclear-news-from-japan-part-2.html

From Rod Adams’ Atomic Insights

SMRs – lots of noise but DOE budget that’s 1% of annual wind tax credit

 http://atomicinsights.com/smrs-lots-of-noise-but-doe-budget-thats-1-of-annual-wind-tax-credit/

From Rick Maltese’s Energy Reality Project (2) –

California’s Water Emergency – A Solution Worth Considering

(Guest post by the Thorium Energy Silicon Valley group)

 http://energyrealityproject.com/californias-water-emergency-a-solution-worth-considering/

(and)

Perception versus Reality

 http://energyrealityproject.com/perception-versus-reality/

From Leslie Corrice’s Hiroshima Syndrome

Radiation experts advise Japan’s government to repopulate Fukushima

http://www.hiroshimasyndrome.com/radiation-experts-advise-japan-s-government-to-repopulate-fukushima.html

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Fact or Fiction (?) quiz answer – Fact.

Einstein seemed to have a strong desire to be understood by a wide audience, both scientific and lay. Albert began his quest to bring his ideas to the non-scientific, college-educated demographic, beginning with the first edition of his book “Relativity: The Special and General Theory” in 1916. He kept revising it until he died in order to make it easier to understand and “bring someone a few happy hours of suggestive thought”. The final edition, number 15, was published posthumously in 1961 by his estate. Please note, the book has a secondary subtitling, “A clear explanation that anyone can understand”. I highly recommend this little book to everyone.

 

 

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