Day 263 Saving tourism more important than public health?

Towns avoid govt help on decontamination

Keigo Sakai and Tomoko Numajiri / Yomiuri Shimbun Staff Writers

Workers decontaminate a park in Misato, Saitama Prefecture, on Nov. 16.

MAEBASHI–Municipalities contaminated with radiation as a result of the crisis at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant are concerned that the central government’s plan to designate municipalities for which it will shoulder the cost of decontamination will stigmatize those communities, according to a Yomiuri Shimbun survey.

As early as mid-December, the government plans to begin designating municipalities that will be subject to intensive investigation of their contamination, which is a precondition for the government paying for decontamination in place of the municipalities.

Municipalities with areas found to have a certain level of radiation will be so designated. The aim of the plan is to promote the thorough cleanup of contaminated cities, towns and villages, including those outside Fukushima Prefecture.

However, many local governments are reluctant to seek such designation, fearing it may give the false impression that the entire municipality is contaminated.

Based on an aerial study of radiation conducted by the Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology Ministry in mid-September, municipalities in Tokyo and Miyagi, Fukushima, Ibaraki, Tochigi, Gunma, Saitama and Chiba prefectures were candidates for the government designation.

The aerial study examined radiation in the atmosphere one meter above the ground. Municipalities with areas where the study detected at least 0.23 microsieverts of radiation were listed as candidates. About 11,600 square kilometers of land, equivalent to the size of Akita Prefecture, reached that level, the ministry said.

The Yomiuri Shimbun has asked municipalities in the prefectures–excluding Fukushima Prefecture–whether they would seek the government designation as municipalities subject to intensive investigation of radiation contamination. Fifty-eight of the cities, towns and villages that responded to the survey said they would seek the designation.

Almost all the municipalities in Gunma and Ibaraki prefectures had areas where radiation in excess of the government standard was detected. However, only 10 municipalities in Gunma Prefecture and 19 in Ibaraki Prefecture said they would seek the designation.

The figures represent only about 30 percent of the municipalities in Gunma Prefecture and about 40 percent of those in Ibaraki Prefecture.

The Maebashi municipal government said it would not request the designation.

In late August, radioactive cesium exceeding the government’s provisional regulatory limit was detected in smelt caught at Lake Onuma, located on the summit of Mt. Akagi in northern Maebashi. The opening of the lake’s fishing season for smelt has been postponed.

Usually, the lake would be crowded with anglers at this time of year, but few people are visiting this season.

However, in most of Maebashi, excluding mountainous regions, the radiation detected in the September study was below the regulatory limit.

“If the government designates our city [as subject to intensive investigation of radiation contamination], the entire city will be seen as contaminated. We decided to avoid such a risk,” a senior municipal government official said.

The Maebashi government wants to prevent the city’s tourism and agriculture from being damaged further, the official added.

Daigomachi in Ibaraki Prefecture, a city adjacent to Fukushima Prefecture, said the city has also refrained from filing for the designation. Usually about 700,000 people visit Fukuroda Falls, the city’s main tourist destination, every year, but the number has dropped to half since the nuclear crisis began, the town said.

“If our town receives the designation, it may deliver a further blow to our image, already damaged by radiation fears,” an official of the town’s general affairs department said.

In recent months, citizens in the Tokatsu region of northwest Chiba Prefecture have held protests demanding local governments immediately deal with areas where relatively high levels of radiation were detected. All six cities in the region, including Kashiwa, said they would file requests for the government designation. The Kashiwa municipal government said it had already spent about 180 million yen on decontamination.

“People are loudly calling for decontamination. We hope that the designation will eventually lower the cost of decontamination,” an official of the municipal government’s office for measures against radiation said.

Observers have said one of the reasons the six cities decided to request the designation was their low dependence on agriculture and other primary industries that are vulnerable to fears of radiation.

Kobe University Prof. Tomoya Yamauchi, an expert on radiation metrology, said: “It will be a problem if decontamination activities stall due to local governments’ fears of stigmatization. To prevent misunderstanding of radiation, the government needs to do more to disseminate correct information.”

(Nov. 28, 2011)
My comments…
In late August, radioactive cesium exceeding the government’s provisional regulatory limit was detected in smelt caught at Lake Onuma, located on the summit of Mt. Akagi in northern Maebashi. The opening of the lake’s fishing season for smelt has been postponed.
    Now how do they propose to “decontaminate” Lake Onuma? Drain it and wash down the sides and then put fresh water in it along with new smelt and all the other life in the ecosystem that takes years to create?

The Maebashi government wants to prevent the city’s tourism and agriculture from being damaged further, the official added.

     That’s what marketing is for. [I sense an opportunity for an unethical advertising company somewhere. “We have tested below the regulatory limit. Therefore, it is perfectly safe. Come and bring your family and your tourist yen. Experience the wonders of Maebashi for yourself. Never mind that we have areas where radiation is at least 0.23 microsieverts. They are just in specific locations. No, we don’t actually give you a map pointing them out so you can avoid walking through them with Grandma and Grandpa. Oh, look, it’s fall and the leaves are changing color. Isn’t it beautiful?”]
(Nuking your tourists will eventually put the industry out of a job, won’t it?)
–  +  –  +  –  +  –  +  –
    And you say, “All right, Uh-oh, what’s YOUR plan?”
    First, get the families with kids out of Fukushima prefecture, Tochigi, Gunma, and anywhere else that has high readings  – anywhere that the kids will be walking or playing, breathing or eating. Government-backed production of alternative energy source production would create jobs in the prefectures where they would be evacuated so that families could stay together. If the gov’t could put up the money to back nuclear, it can require the industry to pay for the removal of the plants they built, and divert any plans/funds to build new ones into renewables ASAP.
A good start:

Fukushima recovery plan will seek scrapping of every reactor in pref.

FUKUSHIMA, Japan, Nov. 30, Kyodo

Uh….. You’re joking, right? This is nauseating:

Japan shows world it is safe with help of JET teachers



Sean Dowty, left, eats lunch with students in the Yahagi Elementary School in Rikuzentakata, Iwate Prefecture, on Oct. 6. (Shigeki Tosa)

When Sean Dowty got accepted into the Japan Exchange and Teaching Program, he had some anxiety when he learned he would be teaching students in the quake-ravaged zone in northeastern Japan.

Article continues at:

    DUH. If they all were eating in, say, a classroom on the outskirts of Kyoto, or Toyota, or Yamaguchi, I might agree…

    Remember the cesium map that the government issued a short time back? Rikuzentakata is along the coast, right about where the arrow is pointing….



Remember this?

Full article at:


Japan Nuclear Accident Plans Still ‘Inadequate,’ Greenpeace Says

November 30, 2011, 2:53 AM EST

By Stuart Biggs and Chisaki Watanabe

Nov. 30 (Bloomberg) — Japan’s plans for containing nuclear accidents are “completely inadequate” and haven’t been updated nearly nine months after the disaster at Fukushima, Greenpeace International said.

Government maps simulating a reactor meltdown project a release of low-level radiation only as far as 10 kilometers (6.2 miles), the environmental group said in a statement yesterday. The bulk of radioactive contamination extends as far as 30 kilometers from the leaking Fukushima plant, according to Japan’s science ministry. Some areas may be uninhabitable for decades, government officials have said.

Japan should keep nuclear plants offline until adequate plans are in place, Greenpeace said. More than 80 percent of the country’s reactors are either damaged or idled for repairs and safety checks after the March tsunami and earthquake caused meltdowns of three reactors at Tokyo Electric Power Co.’s Fukushima Dai-Ichi station. Atomic power provided about 30 percent of Japan’s energy before the catastrophe.

The government’s maps are based on “a radiation release in the order of 10,000 times less severe than what could happen during a major incident,” Jan Vande Putte, a nuclear campaigner with a degree in radiation protection from the University of Utrecht, said in the statement. “Hoping for the best is absolutely the wrong way to devise an emergency response plan.”

Greenpeace cited documents obtained in a freedom of information request to the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology.

Mapping Radiation

Japan’s system for projecting the spread of radiation, called SPEEDI, is limited to low-level releases and needs upgrading to cover areas beyond 10 kilometers, Greenpeace said, citing interviews with government officials it didn’t identify.

Yu Sumikawa, an official in charge of disaster management for the science ministry agreed the government’s projections on how far radiation would spread from Fukushima were inadequate.

“SPEEDI can’t be 100 percent accurate, but we need to improve its accuracy,” he said. The science ministry is requesting funds to expand the scope of SPEEDI.

“The Fukushima Daiichi emergency response effort was slow, chaotic and insufficient, and it appears the government has learned nothing from it,” Junichi Sato, Greenpeace Japan Executive Director, said in the statement. “There is a strong risk of reactor restarts being pushed through without a proper, science-based assessment on the real risks being conducted.”

–Editors: Aaron Sheldrick, Peter Langan


Fukushima residents call for evacuations as fear of contamination continues.

FRI, 11/18/2011 – 15:15
Listen to the entire segment:
  • Year: 2011
  • Length: 6:13 minutes (5.69 MB)
  • Format: MP3 Mono 44kHz 128Kbps (CBR)

Eight months after the Fukushima nuclear disaster, thousands of people – including children – remain in contaminated areas and citizens groups continue to push the government to assist in evacuations and clean up.

A new study out this week from the National Academy of Science warns that soil samples in the northeast of the country show unsafe levels of radiation for farming and on Thursday, Japan said it was restricting rice exports from Fukushima after grain was found to contain radioactive contamination higher than safety levels.

For more, we go to Kyoto, Japan to speak with Aileen Mioko Smith. She’s the executive director of Green Action Japan, a citizens group that has been monitoring the issue since the Fukushima disaster began in March this year.

Finally, some interesting entries over at Check them out:

Inspector Alert Case Study Update

Posted: November 30, 2011
This post is an update of Geiger Counter Case Study: Inspector Alert published on SurvivalJapan in which some questions remained open, mainly about the relatively high values (although still in the safe range) which I measured with the system kindly lent to me by Safecast and from whom I received some further advice.

The Safecast bGeigie system is designed to measure mainly gamma rays (high energy protons, akin to X-rays) and hence is used at least one meter above ground in their radiation maps. Since I live in the monitored land, several hundred miles away from Fukushima, gamma radiation is low and not really a concern. Therefore I had measured instead beta radiation (high energy electrons or positrons which are emitted back from the ground after radioactive fall-out) at about one foot above ground. For convenience, I monitored the level of radiation with the Safecast display which communicates by radio with the Inspector Alert safely cast in its lunchbox style (in Japanese “bento”) box, along with the GPS and SD memory card to geo-locate and store results. The Safecast team advised against this methodology for beta radiation pick-up and advised me to use the Inspector Alert alone for that matter – which I did….

Article continues at:

Analysis Of Japanese Government Radiation Spread Report

Posted: November 29, 2011 

Nine months after the disaster, the Japanese Science Ministry finally gave birth to a report about radiation spread across Japan, as published by Asahi Shimbun newspaper (article also reproduced below). Although from the relatively small size of Japan compared to Chernobyl-stricken Belarus, it was obvious from the onset that Cesium would fall “all over Japan” (breaking news title from the Asahi Shimbun article), the issue was to assess concentrations.

 Since the Japanese government policy remains to downplay the risk, after censoring radiation reports in the news and in the blogosphere, data should be taken with a grain of salt. Last week, the Japanese government has turned its back on the company it had contracted to monitor radiation in parks and school playgrounds around Fukushima, after it suddenly discovered that the accuracy of the Geiger counters it had ordered was substandard (Cf. Mainichi Shimbun news article and comment in Geiger Counter Case Study: Inspector Alert in SurvivalJapan). MEXT data for all regions but Fukushima falsely reported radiation levels close to natural background radiation for months so that I only trust citizens reports such as Safecast. On the Japanese government radiation map below, it is a safe bet to assign to each concentration the level range above each reported, i.e. for 0-10.000 Becquerel/sq.m, the real value is probably between 10.000 and 30.000 Becquerel/sq.m.
Article continues at:

Geiger Counter Case Study: Inspector Alert

Posted: November 28, 2011 

Choosing an appropriate Geiger counter to monitor environmental radiation levels in Japan can be confusing due to the large choice of devices, including handheld electronic dosimeters that offers similar capabilities. Counters differ by the type of radiation that they can detect (alpha, beta, gamma, X-rays and sometimes even neutrons), their accuracy, price, availability, etc. Rather than presenting an extensive comparison between all devices, this post introduces a specific Geiger counter used bySafecast to map radiation mainly in the no man’s land: the Inspector Alert distributed by International Medcom (SurvivalJapan has no interest in promoting this company, this review is purely on a volunteer basis and I decline all responsibilities as to opinions shared here). It is also the device used by Pr. Frank Daulton, Ph.D., Applied Linguistics, Ryukoku Univ., Kyoto, Japan when he detected 0.377 uSv/h close to ground around his home in Otsu-City, Shiga Prefecture, not far from Kyoto and 311 miles (500 km) from Fukushima as reported on Earthfiles website.


1 comment
  1. Julia said:

    Love this! Your comments are so on the mark, very compelling stuff to read, please keep going, there is a book in this for you!


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