If we wait a bit, I suppose a government-backed academic will give a press concert saying only sad people are bothered by strontium and that it’s perfectly safe for happy, smiling people…
90Sr is a by-product of nuclear fission found in nuclear fallout and presents a health problem since it substitutes for calcium in bone, preventing expulsion from the body…. radioactive 90Sr can lead to various bone disorders and diseases, including bone cancer.
Water containing strontium leaked into sea from Fukushima plant
TOKYO (Kyodo) — Tokyo Electric Power Co. said Tuesday that around 150 liters of water containing strontium and other radioactive substances has flowed into the Pacific Ocean from its crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant.
The utility known as TEPCO said the amount of radioactive substances is estimated at around 26 billion becquerels, adding that the impact would be “negligible” even if people continue to eat marine products from the area.
The water leaked from a water processing facility after undergoing a process to remove radioactive cesium. But the facility is not capable of removing strontium, which tends to accumulate in bones and is feared to cause bone cancer and leukemia.
The seawater near the plant has already been contaminated not only by massive radioactive fallout since the March 11 earthquake and tsunami triggered the nuclear crisis, but also by accidental releases of polluted water.
In the latest case, TEPCO found on Sunday that around 45 tons of water had accumulated inside a building housing part of the water processing facility and some of it was seeping through a concrete crack in the building to a nearby gutter, which leads to the sea about 500 meters away.
According to TEPCO’s press release, the water contained radioactive materials including about 11 billion becquerels of strontium-89, 15 billion becquerels of strontium-90 and 4.4 million becquerels of cesium-137.
The water processing facility is essential to create water for injection into the crippled Nos. 1 to 3 reactors, as they have lost their key cooling functions since the March disaster.
The water used to cool the reactors contains massive amounts of radioactive substances and is channeled to the water treatment facility so it can be recycled as a coolant.
TEPCO said the latest incident has not affected the injection of water into the reactors.
(Mainichi Japan) December 7, 2011
Want to help the animals left behind in the evacuation zone? Act ASAP – rescus groups will only be allowed in until December 27th
Animal Rescue Groups Finally Allowed Into Disaster Zone As Winter Sets In
December 7th, 2011
As the nuclear accident spiraled out of control, nearby residents were told to evacuate immediately. They were also told to leave their pets behind as they would be allowed to return home in a few days. That never happened. This resulted in thousands of suddenly abandoned animals that the owners would have never left behind had they known the government assurances were a lie.
Months went by, many pets have died of starvation and disease as they struggled to find food and water. A few very brave souls have been defying the law and sneaking into the disaster zone to rescue animals and leave behind food. Animal welfare groups have been begging the government for one simple thing for all these months, legal entry into the zone. Instead the government has upped the stakes, installed roadblocks and added security cameras.
So far a number of groups have applied for entrance to the evacuation zone, the Hoshi family, Angels Shiga, SORA and Animal Friends Niigita. Hachiko Coalition is tracking what groups as they apply for entry. If you are in Japan and would like to volunteer to aid with the rescues contact TJARG. The Hoshi family already have a Paypal page for donations to help cover the costs for these urgent rescues. Japanese info and Paypal link at the top of the page, English at the bottom. Hachiko Coalition is working hard to track all the groups and compile a list of those going in to do rescues along with their donation pages so people can help what will be a massive effort in a very short time window.
Worries are that this government agreement may be too little too late, many pets have already died of starvation and the rescue groups will only be allowed in until December 27th.
Escape to Okinawa
December 6, 2011
Fukushima fallout refugees meet at Naminoue beach in Okinawa
As radiation hot spots emerge in Tokyo and nuclear contamination plagues the country, some Japanese are fleeing to the Okinawa island chain to avoid the fallout from Fukushima. But is it too late?
THREE days after Japan’s biggest-ever earthquake and its colossal shock waves pummeled Fukushima’s coast, reducing the TEPCO Daiichi nuclear plant to radioactive wreckage, Mari Takenouchi cycled frantically through East Tokyo with her baby strapped on her back.
The Tokyo-born translator had set aside a small window of time to do last-minute errands before she and her one-year-old son fled to the Okinawa islands – Japan’s southernmost prefecture, 2000 kilometres south of the unfolding crisis. En route to the airport, she rushed to get to a dentist appointment, taking her baby with her.
Takenouchi, and millions of others, were unaware of the radiation cloud over the capital. Three full meltdowns had already happened — uranium-packed fuel rods had overheated and liquefied, triggering a series of blasts on March 12 and 14.
Mari Takenouchi with son Joe.
“It was a fine day with some breeze. I’ll never forget the wind hitting my face, while I was riding my bicycle with my baby on my back,” she says.
The cloud was at its thickest during the three hours Takenouchi and her son, Joe, spent outside before fleeing the mainland. According to the Tokyo metropolitan government’s air samples, which were measured in Setagaya Ward, where Takenouchi was riding her bike, Joe was exposed to 145 times the normal level of background radiation in the city.
Kyoto University’s reading was on par with that of hot spots in the deserted voluntary evacuation zone just 20-30 kilometres from the still-leaking plant.
Singer-songwriter Ua sings for refugees at a concert.
“I really want to turn the clock backwards,” Takenouchi says. “Our flight was booked for the morning, but I moved it to 3pm so I could do some chores like getting my phone fixed and finishing off my dental work. Looking back, I probably could have done these things in Okinawa. But at that point, we were told Tokyo was a safe distance away.”
At that stage, Tokyo Electric Power Company was playing down the possibility of radiation being released from a major core meltdown. A government spokesman has since admitted to initially denying the extent of the crisis to prevent public panic — the three meltdowns were not fully acknowledged by Japanese authorities until June.
But the lack of alarm after the explosions kept Takenouchi and Joe in Tokyo half a day too long to dodge the fallout, which gradually dispersed in a cruel lottery of wind, rain and snow that contaminated homes, farms, wilderness, and eventually a schoolyard in Takenouchi’s neighbourhood.
Refugee children take part in a documentary about the nuclear crisis.
The Adachi Ward elementary school, where soil taken from a drainpipe emitted 16 times the level of radiation regarded as safe by the local government, is just one among a spate of radiation hot spots to emerge since March.
In the south of greater Tokyo, a Yokohama resident discovered sediment containing strontium-90 — which is linked to bone cancer — at nearly twice the levels of the highest traces mapped in Fukushima and more than 10 times that remaining from Cold War-era weapons testing.
But the main cause of radiation anxiety is caesium-137, which lingers in the environment for decades and can increase the risk of cancer if exposure exceeds certain levels. The total release from Fukushima of the long-lived radionuclide amounted to about 42 per cent of that emitted in the 1986 Chernobyl disaster, according to a new Norwegian study.
The Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant.
Based on worldwide data from Nuclear Test Ban Treaty monitoring stations, the Norwegian research more than doubles the official Japanese government figure, which did not account for radiation spikes in other countries or in the ocean.
It also does not include radiation released in recent months, as workers have tried to stabilise the shattered plant and prevent nuclear fuel from melting into the ground.
An estimated 20 per cent of this initial fallout ended up on land — not just countryside but also in densely populated cities.
In the city of Kashiwa, caesium-laced late-March downpours were blamed for significant daily concentrations of ground-level radiation near a playground — levels comparable with having more than half the average person’s yearly dose of natural background radiation.
While Takenouchi evacuated before the hot-spot scares, she still worries about damage to her child’s health, damage she fears may be irreversible.
“No doctor in the world fully understands the effects of low-dose radiation on adults, let alone on young children. So how can the government say there is no health risk in Tokyo,” she says.
Coincidentally, on the eve of March 11, Takenouchi was putting the finishing touches to a Japanese translation of the Petkau effect — a controversial theory that claims even low levels of radiation can cause terminal diseases.
Scientists remain divided on the effects of low-dose radiation, but clusters of leukaemia, thyroid cancer, Down syndrome and birth defects in Chernobyl-exposed populations point to some of the known risks of the only other nuclear emergency rated on par with Fukushima.
“When I heard how high the radiation was that day, and I realised my baby could have breathed in those particles, exposing him to the risk of internal radiation as well as external, I was very angry that nobody warned us. That is what shocked me, not the accident itself — which had long been predicted.”
Takenouchi first heard forecasts of an earthquake-triggered nuclear power blackout in Japan 10 years ago at a symposium of American nuclear safety experts. After that, she
earmarked Okinawa as a permanent getaway in the wake of a nuclear accident.
Within days of north-east Japan’s natural and nuclear disasters, she traded her apartment in Tokyo for a boxy studio in
Naha, which is home to more than half of Okinawa’s 1.5 million people.
A former trading empire with a distinct culture and language, the subtropical island chain is scattered between Taiwan and Kyushu in the East China Sea and is a popular holiday destination for Japanese, Taiwanese and Chinese tourists in summer.
In the main drag of her new inner-city neighbourhood of Kumoji, a backpacker and local activism hub, police calmly patrol what have become regular protests against the US military base located on Okinawa island. Now there is a new catch-cry —“no nukes”.
More than 200 people, mostly evacuees from the mainland, took part in a recent demonstration against nuclear power. The demonstrators are just some of the 17, 521 Japanese who migrated to Okinawa between March and August this year – a 12.3 per cent increase from the same period in 2010.
Okinawa prefecture is the largest region in Japan without nuclear plants.
Okinawa island, the largest in the group, has beautiful beaches, a slow-food subculture and thriving music and arts scenes. It attracts thousands of sea-changers every year, but only recently has this included
worried parents who would never have considered a move to Okinawa before the Fukushima disaster.
In a cheap-housing block in Naha, Takenouchi and 30 other refugees from around the mainland — mostly mothers with young children — share the same anxieties. They talk about bizarre rashes, high fevers, blood noses and government and industry failures “they can never forgive”.
Displaced by the March 11 tsunami, Sendai refugee Yuriko Tanaka chose to leave temporary accommodation on the north-west border of Fukushima prefecture because she did not believe her children were safe. And she was worried about a persistent rash on the body of her four-year-old son.
“It’s been there since August and left scars all down his arms and hands. The doctor gave us steroid cream, which only made it worse,” she says. “My friend’s child, who lives in the same area as us, got a similar rash mid-year.”
As it was difficult to prove whether something in Fukushima’s fallout caused the skin reaction, Tanaka decided to take her own precautions and move to Okinawa.
Minaho Kubota is another parent who decided to seek refuge on the island. She says her life in Japan changed course the moment she heard news of the disaster .Until then, the mother of two had never even heard of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant.
Her seven-year-old son, Daito, was playing outside when she turned on the the radio and heard about a series of nuclear explosions 190 kilometres north of her house in Mito City in Ibaraki Prefecture.
“I just cried,” she says. “Then Daito developed a rash on his neck.”
Four weeks later, when she was already considering leaving Japan, Kubota’s baby son got his first-ever blood nose. “I decided to move as far away as possible within Japan, but it took two months to convince my husband it was a good idea.
“He thought there was no point worrying so much if there was nothing we could do about it.”
Like many of Kubota’s neighbours and friends who treated Fukushima as a “taboo” subject, her husband did not like to talk about radiation.
Kubota told teachers at her son’s school not to give him milk after batches with excessive amounts of caesium were recalled. The school ignored her requests.
“In the end I made up a story that he was allergic and they finally stopped giving him the milk.”
Kubota says she had “no choice” but to leave. I don’t want to wait and see if my kids are part of future statistics on the consequences of Fukushima.”
Meanwhile, several NGOs have linked some people’s health problems to fallout from Fukushima.
Thyroid abnormalities were found in 10 out of 130 non-evacuated Fukushima children who were exposed to excessive amounts of iodine-131 in March.
In June, door-to-door surveying in non-evacuated areas 60 kilometres from the plant revealed clusters of residents with persistent nose bleeding and diarrhoea. The same symptoms were also found among Tokyo residents.
Hiroshima survivor Dr Shuntaro Hida, who runs a non-profit hospital for Chernobyl and Hiroshima atomic bomb victims, assessed 50 patients at a one-off clinic in the middle of the year.
“People presented with purple spots, nose bleeding, high fevers, diarrhoea, aching bones, and extreme fatigue, ” he says.
These symptoms appeared to varying degrees in people exposed to fallout from the Hiroshima bomb, which contained caesium and iodine but also high levels of strontium-90. Longer-term effects included malignant tumours, spinal problems, birth defects, leukaemia, breast cancer, thyroid dysfunction, radiation cataracts, and liver and heart diseases.
After seeing patients at the clinic with multiple radiation symptoms, Hida is concerned about radiation in Tokyo. While there is still no urgent public health threat in Japan, according to the World Health Organisation, he believes those people who fled to Okninawa are far from paranoid.
“It’s a personal choice, as every individual has their own priorities and perceptions of the health risk. But as someone who has seen the delayed and immediate health impacts of nuclear fallout, I tend to err on the side of caution.”
Takenouchi, who helped translate one of Hida’s books on Hiroshima victims, telephoned him when her son’s temperature exceeded 38 degrees for the eighth time within two months of arriving in Okinawa.
“He told me that seeing I’ve already left the mainland, and can’t take back those hours of exposure on March 15, the best thing I can do now is just keep on loving my child and try to give him a normal life here.”
Jane Barraclough is an Australian freelance journalist based in Japan.
About the baby formula containing cesium, from EX-SKF:
A 6-month old baby drinks 4 cans of powdered milk per month, I was told. The net weight of a can of Meiji Step milk is 850 grams, so the baby would consume 3.4 kilograms (850 grams x 4) of the powdered milk per month. 3.4 kilograms of the powdered milk would contain 102 becquerels of radioactive cesium (30 becquerels/kg x 3.4). The baby would be fed with 3.4 becquerels of radioactive cesium per day.
That would be 34 to 340 times more than the pre-Fukushima accident level of radioactive cesium intake per person per day.
Read the entire article at:
Gov’t nuke crisis compensation guidelines criticized for lack of rationale
Dissatisfaction is rife over new guidelines drawn up by a government panel to determine compensation payments for victims of the ongoing Fukushima nuclear disaster who stayed put or evacuated voluntarily.
Under the guidelines set Dec. 6 after months of deliberation by the Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology Ministry’s Dispute Reconciliation Committee for Nuclear Damage Compensation, the compensation amount for such victims will be much lower than what people who evacuated under government order are set to receive. The actual costs of evacuation and other expenses will furthermore not be covered.
The committee had stipulated in a mid-term report in early August that unlike those who had been ordered by central or municipal governments to evacuate, those who had evacuated of their own volition would not receive any compensation. However, the decision was met with widespread objections, and it was agreed that compensation eligibility would be extended to those who fled without government orders.
Following a fact-finding investigation on voluntary evacuations and interviews with victims of the disaster, the panel announced in late November that victims who had not evacuated would be given the same amount of compensation as those who had evacuated on their own, explaining: “Those who did not evacuate also face the concern of radiation exposure.” On Dec. 6, the committee debated the specifics of compensation, including which areas affected by the nuclear crisis would be eligible for damages, and how much.
The committee blamed the four-month delay in laying down compensation guidelines on “a lack of any reference in establishing the scope and amount of compensation.”
Panel chair and Gakushuin University professor Yoshihisa Nomi led the debate on compensation for populations that are particularly sensitive to radiation, such as children 18 years and younger and pregnant women, by saying: “(Based on damage lawsuit precedents) it is possible that the amount will be between 200,000 and 500,000 yen.”
In response, some panel members argued for compensation of close to 500,000 yen, considering that those who did not evacuate have a greater concern of radiation exposure, and those who did evacuate have had to spend a lot of money. Others questioned whether the amount was too high in comparison to the 100,000 to 120,000 yen per month that those who evacuated on government orders are eligible to receive.
When Nomi asked the rest of the panel, “Do you think 400,000 yen would be all right?” a voice from the gallery called out, “None of you have the right to bargain!”
Nomi acknowledged that it was difficult to flesh out a rationale for compensation that applied across the board because of the ever-changing nature of the circumstances. At the same time, he requested public understanding, explaining: “The guidelines are meant to stipulate compensation based on what all the victims have in common. It does not dismiss the possibility of other types of compensation.”
The committee decided that compensation payments for the rest of the population who did not evacuate or evacuated voluntarily would be 80,000 yen. The amount was based on the 100,000 yen set to be distributed to resident of areas where the government issued orders for people to stay indoors, and according to a committee member, “it is unavoidable that the amount be a bit lower than that.”
(Mainichi Japan) December 7, 2011
GSDF troops begin cleanup at Fukushima municipal gov’t offices
FUKUSHIMA, Japan, Dec. 7, Kyodo
About 900 Ground Self-Defense Force troops began decontaminating local government buildings on Wednesday in areas around the disaster-hit Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant in Fukushima Prefecture.
The cleanup operation at municipal office buildings in the towns of Naraha, Tomioka and Namie, and the village of Iitate is set to last two weeks. The work is to prepare operational bases for full-fledged cleanup that will start next year as a nuclear decontamination law goes into effect in January.
The 900 troops consist of members stationed at camps in the prefecture and those trained to deal with radiation. Of the total, 300 were each assigned to Tomioka and Iitate, while 150 were each sent to Naraha and Namie.
Read the entire article at:
Fisheries trainees to help track floating debris
Japanese fishery high school students training at sea are to help track millions of tons of debris drifting the Pacific Ocean since the March 11th tsunami.
Japan’s Environment Ministry plans to conduct simulations and analyze satellite photos to see which Pacific Rim countries could be affected by the up to 3 million tons of debris from Japan’s northeastern coast.
The ministry has sought cooperation from Japan’s fishery high schools whose students do fishing and maritime survey training in the Pacific Ocean.
The schools’ training vessels ride ocean currents to save fuel, which means they are highly likely to encounter floating debris. Students on such vessels are to be asked to report what they see.
Vice Principal Masaki Kumagai of Miyako Fisheries High School in Iwate Prefecture says the school sustained heavy damage on March 11th, and that a large part of the floating debris is from the city.
Kumagai says the survey has huge significance for students who are expected to take over the city’s fishing industry in the future.
Wednesday, December 07, 2011 16:41 +0900 (JST)