Fukushima Third Anniversary
The following is a condensation of three postings in Fukushima Commentary, March 12 through March 28, concerning Japanese and international news reports about the third anniversary of the Fukushima accident.
I. Fukushima Third Anniversary Press: The Negative
A summation of the Fukushima accident is included in almost every newspaper article, regardless of the paper’s opinion on nuclear power. Though not as detailed as the reminders posted last year, they exist nonetheless…even in reports that have little or nothing to do with the Fukushima accident. For example, a Japan Times article about the 267,000 tsunami refugees currently struggling to recover includes “more than 97,000 people remain in makeshift residences in Miyagi, Iwate and Fukushima, home of the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant, where hydrogen explosions and three reactor core meltdowns tainted large parts of the prefecture with radiation. Japan has been thrust into a debate about the use of atomic power because of the Fukushima crisis, characterized as the world’s worst nuclear disaster since the Chernobyl in 1986. All 48 of the nation’s commercial reactors are now offline, but the government wants to restart those that clear new safety regulations despite strong public opposition.” The Times mentions the 267,000 refugees, then immediately segues into the Fukushima accident summation. Again, this is but one example of many. http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2014/03/10/national/267000-still-evacuees-three-years-on/#.Ux25BKOYYdU
1 – Life in Fukushima evacuation centers causes stress. A Jiji Press article provides an example. It says “Sudden changes, which doctors think may be linked to stress from prolonged and uncomfortable living as an evacuee, highlight the plight of the 28,000 people still living in cramped temporary housing in Fukushima Prefecture, home to Tokyo Electric Power Co.'s disaster-stricken Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant.” The article points out that more people have died due to disaster-related causes than were killed by the tsunami: 1664 vs. 1603. However, nowhere in the article do we find how many people in the centers are there due to the Fukushima evacuation and how many are because of the tsunami. Nor is there a distinction between the number of disaster-related deaths from the tsunami and those among the Fukushima evacuees. In fact, there is never a distinction made between Fukushima evacuees and tsunami refugees in any article of this type. Finally, it is subtly but significantly implied that all of Fukushima Prefecture’s refugees are due to the Fukushima accident, which is certainly not the case. http://jen.jiji.com/jc/eng?g=eco&k=2014030700784
2 – The issue of contaminated water at Fukushima is found in most every third anniversary report. We’ll use a Mainichi Shimbun posting as an example. It begins, “Almost three years have passed since the outbreak of the Fukushima No. 1 Nuclear Power Plant disaster, and we have yet to see the 30- to 40-year decommissioning process truly take off. Radioactive water continues to leak from the plant, breeding fears among the public.” It goes on to remind everyone that 1,000 tons of groundwater passes through and around Fukushima Daiichi every day, and some of it probably flows into the Pacific. 400 tons per day is stored in large tanks “from which numerous leaks have been reported”. Additional reminders are posted about two underground water reservoirs having leaked, one tank that overflowed, and the tank leak that caused the Nuclear Regulation Authority (NRA) to declare a level 3 emergency on the International Nuclear Event Scale (INES) of 0 to 7. The article continues with statements about government money being used to pay compensation, the problems with the hi-tech isotopic removal system (ALPS), freezing the earth, and soil solidification to stem the groundwater flow. However, nowhere in the article is it mentioned that there has been no contamination detected in the ocean off-shore of F. Daiichi. The few points at the outlets of drainage ditches where radioactive Cesium has been sporadically detected have been well below the 60 Becquerel per liter standard. Total Beta activity, which includes Strontium, shows nothing measurable at any Pacific sampling point. (Nuclear Regulation Authority data) The lower limit of detectability is 0.001 Becquerels/liter. By not mentioning the fact that the Pacific is not being contaminated, the Mainichi makes it seem as if Fukushima isotopes are pouring into the sea, which is not supported by the intensive level of seawater sampling. http://mainichi.jp/english/english/newsselect/news/20140304p2a00m0na011000c.html
3 – Technology and working conditions for decommissioning are lacking. Once again, we have the Mainichi Shimbun to exemplify this type of story. The article opens with a left-handed admission that the spent fuel removal from unit #4 is going well, then waxes ominous with, “But spent fuel in reactors No. 1, 2 and 3 has remained untouched, and we still lack technology that can withstand high levels of radiation in the decommissioning process… The biggest hurdle TEPCO faces is the removal of molten fuel in the No. 1-3 reactors. Effects of the March 11, 2011 tsunami left the three reactors without their cooling capacity, and temperatures in the reactor containment vessels rose at one point to at least 2,000 degrees Celsius. The majority of the reactors' 1,496 fuel rods are believed to have melted. However, it is unclear whether the quantity and quality necessary for upcoming work at the nuclear plant can be maintained.” Nagoya University professor Akio Yamamoto says, "From the standpoint of the entire decommissioning process, we are now standing at the foot of the mountain range, where we cannot see the mountaintop. There are going to be steep slopes and drop-offs waiting up ahead, such as the removal of molten fuel. Those on the ground face excessive burdens, including dealing with contaminated water." While there is a kernel of truth behind these postings, they drip with uncertainty and doubt. Few reports say where things stand now…three years after 3/11/11. I thought the point of third anniversary reporting was sharing where the situation today, and not spend nearly all copy focusing on future speculations fraught with uncertainty and doubt. http://mainichi.jp/english/english/newsselect/news/20140304p2a00m0na012000c.html
4 - Another common topic is radiation exposure to Fukushima station workers. The Asahi Shimbun posted an article that seems to best exemplify the issue. About half of the people who have worked at the site, more than 15,000 individuals, have received exposure of more than 5 millisieverts. Nearly 3,000 had this level of exposure in one month of 2011. Radiation workers are allowed up to 50 mSv per year and 100 mSv over a five year period. A scientific consensus maintains that exposure below 100 mSv/year shows no discernable negative health effects. The article points out that the Labor Ministry has instructed Tepco to reduce these numbers as much as possible, which has been echoed by the NRA. Measures to meet these instructions are planned to be in place by next March, however the Asahi makes it sound as if program upgrades are “iffy” and the site workers are in mortal danger until it happens. http://ajw.asahi.com/article/0311disaster/fukushima/AJ201403090018
5 – Toddlers and adolescents among the Fukushima evacuees are afraid. Japan Today says the Fukushima accident has made 2-11 year-olds deathly afraid of radiation. Mitsuhiro Hiraguri, director of the Emporium Kindergarten in Koriyama, some 55 km west of the Fukushima nuclear plant, says, “There are children who are very fearful. They ask before they eat anything, ‘does this have radiation in it?’ and we have to tell them it’s okay to eat.” Toshiaki Yabe, an official with the Koriyama city government says fear of radiation is keeping little children from playing outdoors and it is causing physical problems, “Compared to before the disaster, you can certainly see a fall in the results of physical strength and ability tests - things like grip strength, running and throwing balls.” Hiraguri adds that stress is showing up in an increase of scuffles, arguments and even sudden nosebleeds among the children. One major reason for this fear seems to be the children’s parents. “I try to keep from going out and from opening the window,” said 34-year-old Ayumi Kaneta, who has three sons. “I buy food from areas away from Fukushima. This is our normal life now.” A mother at an indoor Koriyama playground was overheard telling her child: “Try to avoid touching the outside air”. Japan Today reports, “Even three-year-olds know the word radiation”. Radiation levels around the Koriyama Kindergarten are now down around 0.12-0.14 microsieverts per hour, from 3.1 to 3.7 immediately after the quake, said Hiraguri, but this has not made a significant impact on many radiation-fearing children. http://www.japantoday.com/category/national/view/children-of-fukushima-battle-an-invisible-enemy?utm_campaign=jt_newsletter&utm_medium=email&utm_source=jt_newsletter_2014-03-10_PM
6 – The Press is doing its best to keep the nuclear debate in the headlines. We again turn to the Asahi Shimbun. This article opens with “Proponents of nuclear energy say the environment, consumers and the nation’s economy will all suffer without the restart of nuclear reactors. Opponents say the disaster at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant caused by the Great East Japan Earthquake and tsunami on March 11, 2011, proves that nuclear energy is just too dangerous to use. They also say Japan has already proved it can get along fine without nuclear energy.” The article pits Kazuhiro Ueta, a professor of environmental economics at Kyoto University, against Tsutomu Toichi, an adviser with the Institute of Energy Economics, Japan. But before getting to the opponents, The Asahi provides some background, explaining how the nuclear moratorium is costing Japan dearly, and “Japan has often had to rely on shoestring operations and unorthodox methods to ensure enough electricity to cover peak demand in summer and winter.” The negativist, Kazuhiro Ueta, says none of Japan’s currently idled nukes need to be restarted because of safety questions, radiation exposures to plant operating staff, and his belief that Japan has survived very well without nukes. He adds that electricity costs are a small fraction of manufacturing costs and household expenditures, so the increased costs of fossil fuels can be ignored. The positivist, Tsutomu Toichi, says the current situation with old, poorly maintained fossil fuel units is not sustainable. Electricity rates have risen 20% since 3/11/11, and they will continue to increase as long as the nukes remain shut down. He adds that restarting nukes will not impinge on Japan’s move toward renewables. Finally, Toichi believes the nuclear waste issue should not hold back restarts if the only thing that remains is a political mandate on a final nuke waste disposal location. http://ajw.asahi.com/article/0311disaster/analysis/AJ201403060060
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For those interested, here are the headlines and links to some of the other negative articles posted.
Fukushima nuclear disaster taking toll on corporate and family finances; Mainichi Shimbun; http://mainichi.jp/english/english/perspectives/news/20140311p2a00m0na018000c.html
Reactors still feared despite new rules; Japan Times; http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2014/03/11/national/nuclear-power-is-still-feared-despite-tests-walls-tougher-safety-standards/#.Ux8Ee6OYYdU
Plans to restart nuclear plants, move residents back to Fukushima criticized; Japan Daily Press; http://japandailypress.com/plans-to-restart-nuclear-plants-move-residents-back-to-fukushima-criticized-1145575/
Fukushima Three Years On; Japan Real Time/Wall Street Journal; http://blogs.wsj.com/japanrealtime/2014/03/11/fukushima-three-years-on/
Fukushima Watch: Questions and Answers on Contaminated Water; Japan Real Time/Wall Street Journal; http://blogs.wsj.com/japanrealtime/2014/03/10/fukushima-watch-questions-and-answers-on-contaminated-water/
Survey: 74% of voluntary evacuees not returning; NHK World; March 7, 2014 (NHK deletes archives after 3-4 days. See my summary of March 10 at http://www.hiroshimasyndrome.com/fukushima-accident-updates.html)
And, finally three links to articles concerning a third anniversary antinuclear rally in Tokyo… http://mainichi.jp/english/english/newsselect/news/20140310p2a00m0na004000c.html -- http://www.rawstory.com/rs/2011/07/31/fukushima-protesters-urge-end-to-nuclear-power/ -- http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2014/03/09/national/thousands-turn-out-for-anti-nuclear-rally-in-tokyo/#.Ux25kqOYYdU
II. Fukushima Third Anniversary Press: The Positive
Unlike last year’s second Fukushima anniversary Japanese press coverage, there have been a few positive (i.e. not negative) articles on the third anniversary of Fukushima.
1 – Fears and rumors continue to circulate over radioactive food contamination, but new research findings make it all seem unfounded. For the past seven months, Co-op Fukushima has tested food samples from Fukushima residents, 90% of which have been foods produced inside the prefecture. What they found was nearly 100 times below the national standard for Cesium isotopes. This level is insignificant when compared to the level of naturally-occurring radioactive Potassium-40 found in the typical Japanese diet, which includes potassium-rich foods like seaweed, tea, bananas, spinach, beef, fish, rice and bread. The average 60 kilogram person, unaffected by Fukushima contamination, carries a total of roughly 4,000 Becquerels of Potassium-40 activity.
Co-op Fukushima is a local consumer’s co-operative, home-based in Fukushima City. They received an average of six meal samples per week from hundreds of Fukushima residential volunteers from July 2013 through February 2014. The samples were analyzed at the Japanese Consumers’ Co-operative Union research laboratory. The highest Cesium-137 concentration found was 2.6 Becquerels per kilogram, and for Cs-134 it was 1.1 Bq/kg. The national standard is 100 Bq/kg. If a person ate only the most contaminated Fukushima foods for every meal, annual internal exposure would be 0.04 millisieverts…the equivalent of the exposure from K-40 in a large bag of potato chips. But, no-one in Fukushima is eating only the most Fukushima isotope-rich foods, so the actual internal exposure is considerably less.
Yoshihiro Shishido, in charge of the survey at Co-op Fukushima, said, “People may have various opinions, so we can’t say this data alone guarantee safety or provide a sense of safety for people. But you can say only extremely small amounts [of radioactive materials] have been detected in our survey. You can say this amount is very low when compared with the state-set safety level of 1 millisievert per year.”
Mr. Shishido lives in what is perhaps the most radiophobic nation on our planet, having suffered the effects of two nuclear bombings and an avalanche of fear-mongering through the Japanese Press. The levels of exposure produced by Fukushima-produced foods are safe. There need not be any qualifying terminology or rhetorical restraint with isotopic levels of this sort. The Japanese people have no reason to doubt the safety of the foods produced out of Fukushima Prefecture. Maybe they did two years ago, but not anymore.
But, what about the seafood caught off Fukushima Prefecture? Shouldn’t consumers be worried about that considering the number of highly contaminated fish reported in the Press? The Fisheries Agency took 1,225 samples in January and February, and only 21…roughly 1.7%...exceeded Japan’s 100 Bq/kg limit. This limit is easily the most restrictive in the world and was set largely for the purpose of political expediency by the Democratic Party of Japan regime. Regardless, out of the total of 19,180 fish samples that have been tested since last April 1, 2013, only 280…merely 1.5%...have been found to exceed 100 Bq/kg. One greenling had 1,700 Bq/kg, so the entire species was banned. One lake smelt was found to have 200 Bq/kg, so that type of fish was also banned. Regardless, commercial fishing off the prefecture’s shores remains suspended, except for some shellfish, squid and octopus. Similar impractical restrictions exist on meats of wild animals, mushrooms, wild vegetables and freshwater fish. The reality is that Fukushima foods are safe, but by only reporting on the occasional above-standard discovery the Press is completely failing the Japanese people by posting what is nothing less than a cover-up.
Surprisingly, the article this was taken from the Japan Times, which may well be the most biased-against-nuclear-energy news outlet in Japan. http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2014/03/07/national/radiation-checks-clear-most-food-items/#.Uxm-2aOYYdU
2 – United States nuclear expert Dale Klein says great progress has been made by Tepco and Japan. Klein, former head of the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission, chairs a group of international advisors Tepco uses for nuclear reform. His speech at Japan’s Foreign Press Center marked the third anniversary of the accident at Fukushima Daiichi. He said the world “wants you to succeed because people understand that if we are to successfully manage climate change and reduce our dependence on fossil fuels, nuclear power will be an important part of the mix. But they also know that public confidence in nuclear power can be enhanced, or diminished, by what happens here.” Klein added that the third anniversary was the time to note the progress that has been made and to appreciate the hard work that made it possible. He stressed that the safe removal of nuclear fuel from Unit 4 is a milestone. But he also cautioned against excessive expectations because the road to Fukushima’s decommissioning will be long and there will probably be setbacks and disappointments along the way. http://www.nrmc.jp/en/news/detail/index-e.html#date_20140311-153000
3 – Some Fukushima fishermen say releasing uncontaminated groundwater into the Pacific might be acceptable. A meeting with interested local fishermen was jointly held by Tepco and the Agency for Natural Resources and Energy. Attendees were told about the situation at F. Daiichi and why releasing uncontaminated groundwater is critical. Some said they would accept the proposal if tests for contamination were satisfactory. A consensus decision about groundwater releases from Fukushima Fisheries is expected later in March. Federation head Tetsu Nozaki said, “This is a difficult decision, but I would consider allowing the release of groundwater in order to help stabilize work on decommissioning the reactors.” http://jen.jiji.com/jc/eng?g=eco&k=2014030700511
The reason for the Fisheries’ restraint is a marketplace fear of radiation. Any products from Fukushima Prefecture are necessarily stigmatized in the minds of a small fraction of consumers, but their actual numbers might be in the millions. The majority of Press reports in Japan about Fukushima concern leaks, the occasional above-standard fish that’s found, plus a plethora of other topics that make negative headlines. Plus, the Press continually posts that there is a controversy over low level radiation exposure, so the impression is given that no-one really knows what the actual level of risk is. In addition, often arbitrarily attached to the term “radiation” and the radioactive isotopes of Cesium and Strontium is another term “lethal”. Regardless, anything released into the sea from Fukushima, whether or not it is actually radioactive, will harm the fish and seafood market from the region. Thus, the reluctance on the part of the fisheries is understandable.
4 – Tepco’s American consultant, Lake Barrett, believes Japan can become a world leader in the nuclear decommissioning business. He says, “There is decommissioning business here beyond Fukushima and it’s a worldwide business. I think it’s an exciting new area. Japan can be a world leader again.” Many people see the current use of robots and other novel technologies at Fukushima Daiichi as the start of a cutting-edge Japanese business. Japan has several reactors that might not be allowed to restart, so their decommissioning could become an additional source of expertise. Japan created the government-funded International Research Institute for Nuclear Decommissioning last year, bringing together nuclear plant operators, construction companies and other experienced nuclear organizations to promote research and development of decommissioning technologies. With more than 400 nukes operating world-wide, and hundreds more planned over the next three-plus decades, this business has long-term possibilities. http://mainichi.jp/english/english/newsselect/news/20140309p2g00m0bu008000c.html
III. Fukushima Third Anniversary: International Press
The International Press has largely commemorated the third anniversary of the Fukushima accident with its usual negativity and appeal to uncertainty and doubt.
a. Some items missing from Japan’s third anniversary Press
While there have been many international reports on Fukushima’s 3rd anniversary, two deserve mention because there is nothing comparable in the Japanese Press…one of which comes from a most unlikely source.
First, BBC News Asia asks “Fukushima: Is fear of radiation the real killer?” The article begins by pointing out that many evacuees live in a state of fear and anxiety…fear for their children and anxiety over whether or not they will be able to go home. Mothers are taking their children to hospitals that provide free tests for thyroid anomalies, out of concern that the radioactive Iodine released by F. Daiichi might give them cancer. One mother says, "After the Chernobyl disaster children were diagnosed many years later. My boys may be fine now, but if there is any risk I need to find out as soon as possible." She is skeptical because, "The government gives us very little information. I need to be completely sure my boys are fine. I want this hospital to follow up next year and the following year and the one after that." The BBC says that because of the plethora of internet sites with horrifying predictions of future cancers due to the nuke accident, it is no wonder mothers like this are scared.
Here’s where the report diverges from the Japanese Press… the BBC asks, “Should they be [scared]?” Fukushima University’s Shunichi Suzuki says the concerns are unfounded, and he is frustrated by the constant comparisons between the Fukushima and Chernobyl accident impacts. He says, "The first thing to understand is that the amount of radiation released from Fukushima was much lower than at Chernobyl. Second, the number of children in Fukushima who got a radiation dose above 50 millisieverts is very few, maybe as low as zero." He refers to Fukushima’s highest 50 mSv level, which was the lowest end of Chernobyl exposures to children and did not cause thyroid cancers. The Chernobyl children who developed thyroid cancer had much higher Iodine intakes than any of the Fukushima children.
But what about the 33 cases of cancers that have been found in the more than 260,000 Fukushima children who have been screened? "In Japan there has never been a survey on this scale done before," Suzuki explains. "Once you start using very sensitive equipment to check for thyroid cancer in a very large group of children then you will inevitably find an increase in the number of cases. That is why we are seeing the increase now. These cases are not related to the nuclear disaster." Suzuki and his team feel strongly there will be very few, if any, child thyroid cancers that will be medically connected the accident.
The BBC goes on to say that there have been many deaths among the Fukushima evacuees, but none of them due to radiation exposure. Anxiety has caused many evacuees who have died since the evacuation to give up and allow themselves to slowly lose their health, while others resort to suicide. But none of these deaths came from radiation exposure. Did fear cause them to die? http://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-26483945
The next third anniversary report with important new information comes from a source that has been quite antinuclear for the past 3 years – Al Jazeera. Two interesting things are to be found here. First, the “official” number of people killed by the quake and tsunami may be understated. The government and national police put the figure at 15,884, with another 2,636 listed as missing. However, the Fire and Disaster Management Agency says the number of actual deaths is 18,958, with about the same number of “missings” as the official reports continually posted by the Japanese Press. The reason for the discrepancy is how the figures are established. Tokyo says they only count the number of death certificates that have been issued, and the police say they “only count bodies”. On the other hand, the Fire and Disaster group says that more and more people have been reporting deaths of family members each year, which are not included in the “official” statistical counts. Last year alone, another 465 were added to the F&D listing. While this certainly adds to the depressing aftermath from the quake and tsunami, the Japanese press is neglecting this information. Is it because it might make the Fukushima accident somehow seem less fearsome?
The second interesting part in the Al Jazeera report deals with the one group in Japan most concerned with trying to counter the irrational fear of radiation fomented by Japan’s antinuclear demographic – The Society for Radiation Information. I have seen nothing about this Society in any Japanese news report, which is a terrible dis-service to the Japanese people. One of their officers, Sempei Takayama, said that like Copernicus and Galileo, it must persevere to try to dispel myths about radiation, which is why it is organizing a conference on the subject for October, 2014. After three years of ongoing mistrust between the public and the government (as well as Tepco), Al Jazeera says it will be interesting to see if rational debate can overcome political hyperbole. Business consultant Toshiaki Taji wonders if there might not be something cultural which prevents “good scientific information” from being believed. He added that while science and politics should be separate, they are continually overlapped in Japan. http://www.aljazeera.com/indepth/features/2014/03/fukushima-anniversary-japan-remembers-201431193647770563.html
b. The negative Press threads
The bulk of nearly all international reports focuses on problems, political issues and opinions designed to keep the nuclear debate alive. Specifics include the popular anti-nuclear sentiment that the accident spawned in the Japanese public, the anti-nuclear demonstrations held in Tokyo, the several leaks of contaminated water from storage tanks at F. Daiichi, assumptions of on-going Pacific Ocean contamination due to groundwater flow, and rumors passed by un-named “whistleblowers”.
Another topic concerns a Tokyo government report on 1,656 “indirect” deaths following the quake/tsunami/nuclear calamities of Fukushima Prefecture. Everything is either openly or implicitly tied to the nuclear accident. However, the same sort of after-effect (to a somewhat lesser degree) has happened with all three of the prefectures that most-devastated by the tsunami – Miyagi, Iwate and Fukushima – but this is not mentioned in the international reports. While many of the indirect deaths in Fukushima may be attributable to the nuke accident, sum must necessarily be quake/tsunami sourced.
The increased incidence of detected child thyroid cancers in Fukushima is also a paramount topic. Recent reports that it is not due to the accident are mentioned, but this is followed by reminding the reader that radiation continues to leak from the plant and public trust in official statements is low. What is never mentioned is that intensive testing sometimes produces false positives, and this is the most intensive testing for thyroid anomalies in children ever attempted in Japan. Also not mentioned is that the same procedures have been run in three prefectures hundreds of kilometers from Fukushima, and all three have shown higher rates of anomalies and thyroid nodules than the Fukushima cohort.
Next, the phobic reaction to detectible Fukushima isotopes expected to reach the west coast of North America gets continual international coverage. It doesn’t matter that the amount of Cesium that might be detected will be several orders of magnitude less than the naturally-occurring radioactive materials already in the Pacific. It only matters that enough people go paranoiac at the mention of even the slightest possibility of Fukushima radiation to make this sort of coverage profitable. Thus the non-issue gets mentioned in the international reports.
The following are two articles that seem representative…there are many more. http://asiancorrespondent.com/120450/3-years-on-events-questions-mark-fukushima-anniversary/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=3-years-on-events-questions-mark-fukushima-anniversary -- http://www.abc.net.au/news/2014-03-10/plan-to-send-residents-back-to-fukushima-meets-opposition/5311046
Another third anniversary story concerns an anonymous whistle-blower who allegedly works for Tepco. He supposedly worked at the plant for more than 20 years. He says the situation is not under control and no-one knows how to fix it, “There are too many systems and they all have problems. For example, too many water tanks with too many lines – it’s very difficult to operate. It’s made worse because all the experienced workers have reached their radiation limits, so TEPCO has to rely on staff that don’t know the site and who aren’t trained.” He also believes the staff at the plant are either incompetent or don’t care, “The other day when contaminated water overflowed from a tank, an alarm was ringing but they didn’t go and check. I couldn’t believe it. It was ringing for nine hours and they thought the alarm was out of order.” He also says the damaged reactors will never be decontaminated and that people should not be moved back into the evacuation zone, "We just don't have the technology to fix it. It currently doesn't exist. We just can't deal with the melted fuel." He then makes the dire prediction that “…it is impossible to fix before my death."
There have been several whistle-blower reports about F. Daiichi since 3/11/11, none of which have ever been verified. There have been more than 15,000 people who have worked at F. Daiichi since the accident was brought under control, and thousands of them have been Tepco employees. It is almost certain that at least a few would have strong negative opinions – let’s face it, people are people. The Press bends over backwards to find them, always including a statement that the whistle-blower must remain anonymous for fear of being fired. Stories such as this definitely appeal to the emotions, which is the unspoken life-blood of the popular Press. However, they have yet to bear any tangible results. http://www.abc.net.au/news/2014-03-10/plan-to-send-residents-back-to-fukushima-meets-opposition/5311046 -- http://asiancorrespondent.com/120450/3-years-on-events-questions-mark-fukushima-anniversary/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=3-years-on-events-questions-mark-fukushima-anniversary
Finally, we come to some provocative copy concerning a rather infamous former Nuclear Regulatory Commission Chairman – Gregory Jaczko. He has told Japan’s Press that nuclear accidents cannot be prevented, and the report was greedily picked up by the International news media. He stressed the need for accident preparation, but said, “This has to be remembered — that there are certain accidents that are not preventable. The question Japan has to ask itself is: Is the country willing to have another accident? And if the answer is no, then the answer has to be no more nuclear power.” Jaczko added that while Tepco failed to take adequate safety measures, “…at the end of the day, Tepco didn’t create the earthquake, Mother Nature did that.” He believes that the plant is still releasing contaminated waters, someone considerate of people’s health ought to be in charge, and restarting Japan’s nukes should not be allowed due to a lack of public support. He further evoked kismet when he said Japan was lucky the wind was blowing out to sea the first three days of the accident or things would have been much worse. Jaczko’s conclusion is, "The lesson has to be: This kind of accident is unacceptable to society. And that's not me saying it. That's society saying that."
However, it is not what Japanese society is saying. It is clearly what Jaczko’s saying, worded to divorce himself from his own words. A clever rhetorical ploy, to be sure. It must be noted that Jaczko was the principle person behind America’s unnecessary 50km evacuation around F. Daiichi that sparked a mass exodus of US citizenry from Japan in March, 2011, and severely strained US-Japan relations. The following summer, the NRC said that the order was a mistake and recanted. But, Jaczko has never admitted his error and continues to insist that he did the right thing…a clear-cut case of self-absorbed arrogance. Further, he has been touring the anti-nuclear speaking circuit ever since his ugly resignation as NRC chief in May, 2012. While it was a “resign or be fired” situation, he spins it this way… so much unfolded at Fukushima that he could no longer support the licensing of reactors in the U.S., so he quit. http://bigstory.ap.org/article/us-ex-nuclear-chief-fukushima-lesson-phase-out -- NHK World; US nuclear expert calls for strict safety measures; March 12, 2014 -- http://blogs.wsj.com/japanrealtime/2014/03/12/fukushima-watch-is-japan-ready-for-another-nuclear-accident/
c. Former Japanese PMs oppose nuclear energy
Two former Japanese Prime Ministers who oppose nukes are covered in several third anniversary reports. The first is Morihiro Kosokawa who says restarting idled Japanese nukes is a risk not worth taking because "The causes of the accident haven't been investigated properly. Contaminated water is still leaking, and compensation for victims hasn't been sorted out. I think in these circumstances it is very irresponsible to turn the reactors back on." However, the causes of the accident have been sorted out by about a half-dozen official Japanese investigations, not to mention the International Atomic Energy Agency, America’s Nuclear Energy Institute, and the American Nuclear Society, just to name a few. He’s clearly twisting the facts on this one. And, considering that nearly $35 billion has been doled out to the evacuees, to date, Hosokawa is conveniently ignoring the truth with their compensation. He’s gone on record to say that the tens of thousands who evacuated voluntarily – from outside the mandated exclusion zone – should get the same compensation as those who were forced to leave their homes by Tokyo. He ignores the fact that they have been given about $3.5 billion in compensation, up to this point. It also begs the question… do people who flee out of unbridled fear deserve to be compensated?
Another former PM is Naoto Kan. He was in office when the Great East Japan Earthquake and Tsunami struck on 3/11/11. He has gone on record saying he’s man who saved Tokyo and preaches his self-aggrandizing gospel to anyone willing to listen. His most recent statements include attacks on the current PM Shinzo Abe over restarting the nukes idled by Kan’s arbitrary nation-wide moratorium, "They are trying to restart the nuclear reactors without learning the lessons of the March 11 accident.” He also says nukes cannot be restarted until full evacuation plans are finished and fully tested, “I submitted written questions to Prime Minister Abe and his response from the Nuclear Regulation Authority says it only decides on limited technical issues and won't judge local disaster prevention plans; that is, whether residents can escape safely or whether the residents can ever return. It's becoming clear they are trying to restart the reactors with no regard for people's safety."
In an interview with Amy Goodman of Democracy Now! Kan explains his beliefs and Chernobyl, "So, at the time, what I was thinking about was about the accident at Chernobyl. Of course, the accident there was of huge scale, but there was one reactor in this case, in Chernobyl. I received information that at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, all of the electricity had been stopped, and not only this, but all of the cooling functions at the plant had failed. And at the time of hearing this information, I felt this terrible chill or cold all over my body and a feeling which I can never forget. And the reason for this was, of course, knowing that even though the nuclear plant had been stopped, for a long time after this it was continuing in this critical situation, and there was the potential risk that the nuclear fuel could actually go into meltdown. It was almost impossible to have any kind of accurate information. When we were thinking about the situation at Fukushima, at the Daiichi plant, there are six reactors and seven spent fuel pools. And then, 12 kilometers from there, at the Daini, the second Fukushima nuclear power plant, there are four additional reactors and four spent fuel pools, meaning that when you combine both Daiichi and Daini together, there’s 10 reactors and 11 spent fuel pools altogether. And if we were to lose control of all of this, it would mean that the accident, the disaster, could be on a scale of many tens or even hundred times more radioactive materials being released than what happened at Chernobyl. If the accident had spread just a little further, then 50 million people around Tokyo would have been evacuated for a long time and that would have put Japan in chaos for 20 to 30 years."
Then Kan explained how he single-handedly saved the day, “On March the 15th, the minister for the economy came to my office, came to me, and he said that the TEPCO headquarters had requested to him for the workers from the Daiichi site to be withdrawn from their positions. However, then considering what would happen on the site if all of TEPCO’s technicians from on-site were withdrawn, considering the fact that there were six reactors and four spent fuel pools at the Daiichi site itself, this would mean the potential of being—losing control completely of this whole site…I called in the president of TEPCO to tell him this, and also I physically went myself to the headquarters of TEPCO at 4:00 a.m. to directly tell this to the officials of the company.”
But, no such plans were ever considered by Tepco, which is a fact common to all of the numerous investigative reports that exist. Kan is the only one making this claim, and the world’s antinuclear demographic is eating it up. Further, his other statements in the Goodman interview concerning what is now known to have been direct interference with the emergency actions being taken at F. Daiichi, make it seem as if he had no other choice. But, he did have other choices – he should have stayed out of what was happening at F. Daiichi because he was entirely ignorant of the technology, how it responds in an emergency situation, or the need for emergency action alacrity due to decay heat build-up. His order to delay depressurizing unit #1 for three hours in order to hold a press conference and extend the evacuation out to 3 kilometers, were the likely causes of all three hydrogen explosions, greatly exacerbated the degree of core damage in all now-melted fuel cores, and ultimately forced the evacuation of 85,000 people and frightened many tens-of-thousands more enough to flee out of sheer panic.http://www.abc.net.au/news/2014-03-10/plan-to-send-residents-back-to-fukushima-meets-opposition/5311046 -- http://www.democracynow.org/2014/3/11/ex_japanese_pm_on_how_fukushima