‘Self-service’ radiation measuring facility set to open in Kashiwa
KASHIWA, Chiba — A private facility to measure radiation levels in food and soil is scheduled to open on Oct. 11 in Kashiwa, Chiba Prefecture, where relatively high levels of radiation have been detected in the wake of the disaster at the Fukushima No. 1 Nuclear Power Plant.
The facility called “Bekumiru” in the shopping district on the east exit side of JR Kashiwa Station was founded by Motohiro Takamatsu, 47, who runs a computer software development firm. The facility will provide radiation measuring services at lower prices than those at other private inspection organizations because customers themselves operate the measuring devices at the facility. Many people have already been visiting the facility ahead of its official opening.
Takamatsu, the father of nine-year-old and four-year-old daughters, bought a German-made radiation measuring instrument for one million yen to “protect his children,” instead of buying a new car. While inspecting food for radiation at home, he started to think of opening a radiation measuring facility.
There is nothing like his facility elsewhere although there is a measuring station run by a civic group in the city of Fukushima. “The children in this district have to face radiation for a number of years. I hope this facility will serve as a venue where parents and their children can feel secure after inspecting the food that they eat every day,” Takamatsu said.
Fees for using the facility are: 980 yen per 20 minutes for a device with a detection limit of 20 becquerels per kilogram for radiation levels, and 3,980 yen per 20 minutes for a device with a detection limit of 10 becquerels per kilogram. Private inspection organizations are said to charge 7,000 yen to 15,000 yen for similar services. At the facility, a user is supposed to beat food or soil with an electric mixer, put it into a container and operate it to measure levels of radiation.
The facility opened to special guests on Oct. 4. Government officials and researchers have also visited the facility. From the neighboring city of Nagareyama, Masa Yoshida, who runs a farm and a natural food shop, visited the center. “I want to use this facility as much as possible because the fees are lower than those at inspection organizations,” Yoshida said.
The center uses a membership system with an initial fee of 500 yen and is closed on Thursdays and Sundays. The facility is available by advance reservation.
(Mainichi Japan) October 5, 2011
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Schools in crisis-hit Minamisoma to limit outdoor activities to 2 hours
FUKUSHIMA (Kyodo) — The education board of Minamisoma, Fukushima Prefecture, has decided to limit outdoor activities to two hours a day for students at five schools to be reopened on Oct. 17 in areas between 20 and 30 kilometers from the crippled nuclear plant, local officials said Tuesday.
In a move that followed the government’s lifting of an evacuation advisory for the areas last month, students will also be urged to wear long-sleeved shirts and long pants as well as masks during physical education classes on the schools’ playgrounds to minimize exposure to radiation.
The city of Minamisoma closed schools located between 20 to 30 km from the Fukushima Daiichi power plant after the advisory was issued on April 22 and offered classes to their students at schools outside the affected zone.
The five schools to be reopened have been decontaminated and the amount of radiation observed there is now about 0.1 microsievert on average per hour at one meter above ground.
The government is aiming to hold annual radiation exposure of children below 1.0 millisievert as soon as possible. In the case of Minamisoma, exposure from two hours of outdoor activities will amount to about 0.3 millisievert a year, the officials said.
“We haven’t been able to hold any outdoor activities at all up until now. We are planning to increase activities in stages,” an official of the city’s education board said.
(Mainichi Japan) October 5, 2011
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Minami Soma City in Fukushima Prefecture is one of the cities whose designation as “evacuation-ready zone” have been lifted and where the residents are supposed to return. The city had been urging the residents to return well before the designation was lifted, and as part of the efforts to encourage the residents to return and live in the city as before, the city has been busy “decontaminating” kindergartens and schools and other public places with advice from Professor Tatsuhiko Kodama of Tokyo University Radioisotope Center.
However, if you look at one and only result that the city has published, the decontamination didn’t quite decontaminate, i.e. remove the contamination. If the city has better results elsewhere, it is not showing.
Article continues at:
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NGO “FoE Japan (Friends of Earth Japan) did its own survey of radiation contamination in Watari District in Fukushima City with the help from Professor Tomoya Yamauchi of Kobe University. Watari District has high radiation levels throughout the district, but the national government has so far refused to designate anywhere in the district as “evacuation recommended” area.
If the government designate an area as such, the government has to pay for the relocation cost. As the result, the designation in other cities like Date City has been very arbitrary and spotty, rendering the whole exercise worthless. Often, the residents are simply moved to the other parts of the same city with slightly lower radiation.
Professor Yamauchi already released the result of the air radiation survey of Watari District, but today (October 5, 2011) FoE Japan held a press conference and announced the result of the soil contamination survey.
The links at the NGO’s site are broken unfortunately, but the newspapers reporting the press conference,the highest contamination was 300,000 becquerels/kg of radioactive cesium. Here’s one from Asahi Shinbun (10/5/2011), which is one of the better Japanese newspapers that tend to keep the links alive longer.
Judging from Professor Yamauchi’s air radiation survey (in Japanese), this particular location looks like the one that had 23 microsieverts/hour radiation at 1 centimeter off the surface of the dirt in the roadside drain. Professor Yamauchi hypothesized that radioactive cesium from surrounding mountains and forests washes down the drain after the rain, and naturally gets concentrated in the dirt.
In my communication with Professor Yamauchi, I asked if the decontamination as currently practiced in Fukushima works at all, given the non-result in Watari District which he surveyed. He said the spot decontamination like removing the dirt and sludge is useless as radioactive materials simply come from somewhere else, so the district-wide decontamination including the surrounding mountains would be necessary to “decontaminate” in the true sense of the word – to remove radioactive materials, not reduce.
He also said that spraying water with high-pressure washers hardly work at all on concrete and asphalt surfaces, as radioactive cesium is now deeply embedded in the concretes and asphalt. The only way to decontaminate concrete and asphalt, the professor said, was to physically remove all concrete structures – houses, fences, pavement, etc., which he said would destroy the neighborhood. He is of the opinion that all the residents in the district should be evacuated first, with the government paying for the cost, and the experts should get to work to truly “decontaminate”.
Professor Yamauchi also wryly observed the the word for “decontamination” in Japanese, 除染 (jo-sen), is misleading. Looking at the characters for the word, it does mean “removing the contamination”. So by doing the “jo-sen” work people think they are removing the contamination, when all they may achieve is to reduce the level of contamination somewhat (not much, if Watari District is any indication). He even said it was as if the government was encouraging “decontamination” so as not to evacuate people.
Or in the case of Minami Soma City, it is as if the residents in contaminated areas could feel comfortable enough to remain there by doing the “decontamination” work, as one volunteer related in the US ABC News interview in August. “If this radiation is going to stick around here for five to 10 years, we have to learn to live with it,”she said, instead of moving away from the high radiation area. For her, shoveling dirt from the kindergarten playground was a way to live with “it”.
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Breaking News: Children have started to get thyroid disease
10 children from Fukushima had a medical check at Shinshu University Hospital to see if there are any changes in their thyroid gland function.
The medical investigation was conducted on 130 children from Fukushima prefecture, at the Shinshu Uniiversity Hospital on the expense of an authorized NPO (nonprofit organization) named “Japan Chernobyl Foundation (or JCF)”.
From the results of the medical investigation, gathered on September 4, it became clear that in case of 10 children there was a decrease in the production of thyroid hormones.
It is not clearly spoken if there it has anything to do with the nuclear accident at Fukushima Daiichi.
Considering the fact that in case of the Chernobyl nuclear accident, which took place 25 years ago, the peak in the outbreak of thyroid cancer in children was about 5 years after the accident, Minoru Kamata, Chief Director of the NPO, said “At this stage, we cannot talk about a disease, but a long term monitoring it necessary. ”.
The medical investigation was made on children between 0 ~ 16 years old who are refugees from Fukushima Prefecture and lived in Chino city from Nagano prefecture at that time.
This is the original article:
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Finally, this is an older article, from 30 August of this year. Can’t remember if I included it in the news summaries or not. Just FYI:
August 30th, 2011
A worker at Fukushima Daiichi has died. He is reported to have worked at the plant for a week for one of TEPCO’s first tier subcontractors. The worker began at Fukushima in early August, worked for seven days before becoming extremely ill. He died on August 16th. The worker was 40 years old and was involved in radiation exposure admin and doorway admin. No further details were given about the nature of his work at the plant. The diagnosis of acute leukemia is a PR-speak way of saying radiation poisoning.
TEPCO claims the worker had zero internal exposure and had no health problem before he began working there. His radiation exposure according to TEPCO was .5 mSv. We do know that workers at the plant have been purposely under reporting their exposure through methods like leaving their dosimeter somewhere with lower radiation while they go work. TEPCO has been plagued with worker safety failures. Many workers early on didn’t have dosimeters. A number of workers received internal radiation exposures due to faulty equipment or inadequate training. Many workers have been treated for heat stroke over the summer.
There is also the instance of another worker death at the plant where the worker came down with heat stroke. TEPCO claimed his death was a heart attack totally unrelated to his heat stroke. At that time there were no heat mitigation strategies going on at the plant. Since that death rest areas, water sources and cooling packs were added but workers have told the public the measures still fail due to logistics while they are working.
The worker in this new incident worked at the plant for 7 days. He was hospitalized for 7 days according to the Mainichi article (Eng. trans at end of page). He died on August 16th. By backdating these events his work at the plant took place during the first week of August, when they were doing gamma camera survey work. This was when the 10 Svh radiation pocket was found in a pipe near the vent stack. TEPCO also mentioned finding a second 10 Svh pocket of radiation in the vent stack itself. The worker pictured in this story caused some concern as he is depicted standing very close to these two 10 Svh sources of radiation. That worker likely received a very high dose while standing there. This survey work included mitigation of various areas to remove debris and to mark areas of high radiation. This would likely be included radiation exposure admin at the plant.
Some reference exposure levels:
100 mSv = lowest one year dose clearly linked to increased cancer risk
400 mSv = causes symptoms of radiation poisoning if received in a short time
2000mSv = (2 Sv) Severe radiation poisoning, in some cases fatal
4000mSv = (4 Sv) usually fatal
8000mSv = (8 Sv) fatal dose even with treatment
10,000mSv = (10 Sv) radiation per hour found in bottom of vent stack between two reactors.
50,000mSv = (50 Sv) Ten minutes next to the Chernobyl reactor core after the explosion and meltdown
We do not know the identity of the worker that died or if he is the person pictured. We do know that the worker that died was working the week TEPCO was doing survey work to find hot spots. This worker was involved in “radiation exposure admin”, this somewhat vague category of work could involve the survey work that was being done. If this worker was involved in those efforts he could have been exposed to one of the known very high radiation sources or to another radiation concentration pocket that wasn’t mapped. At this point it is speculation and we are looking for more data.
What is known is that a worker is dead under very suspicious circumstances. We know that radiation survey work was going on the week he was there. TEPCO is now using the same avoidance tactics they previously used to try to explain away the worker who died of heat stroke earlier this summer. More information needs to be released about the circumstances of this workers death.
Below is the English translation of the Mainichi article and also one from Jiji, many thanks to Ob_Li for providing the translation: