Fukushima rice farmers asking ‘until when will this continue?’
FUKUSHIMA — With the government announcing a possible ban on future rice planting in areas where contaminated rice was detected, farmers in Fukushima Prefecture are on the verge of losing the little hope that has kept them going amidst months of torture.
“What should I do? There’s really nothing to be done. I had to receive medicine from my doctor because I can’t even sleep at night,” says Eiji Watanabe, 62, a farmer from the Yoshikura (former Shibukawa) area in Nihonmatsu.
On Dec. 8, the government banned the shipment of rice harvested in Shibukawa this autumn after detecting radiation doses surpassing the provisional upper limit of 500 becquerels per kilogram in some of the region’s paddies. A few weeks later, on Dec. 27, it was announced that rice planting in the region will likely be banned for the next harvest year.
For farmers like Watanabe, however, — in whose rice radioactive cesium has not been detected — this means one more year of enormous financial and emotional damage.
Surrounded by six tons of stored rice packages, harvested this autumn, and with nowhere to ship them, Watanabe is at a loss as to what to do. “I understand that they (the government) can’t allow the shipment of potentially affected rice, but if we can’t plant next year it will be very difficult. I wonder until when this will continue.”
Prior to the Fukushima No. 1 Nuclear Power Plant disaster, Watanabe — the eighth generation of a family of farmers — used to ship about 50 tons of rice to small shops in Tokyo and other retailers every year. However, in mid-March he received a call from a shop owner, to whom Watanabe had sold rice for 17 years, telling the farmer he can no longer buy his rice. “Customer won’t buy it,” he was told.
The shop cancelled orders for some nine tons of rice from this year’s harvest and 2.7 tons of last year’s — the total sales of which usually stand at about 2.98 million yen. Watanabe was also asked to sign a cancellation contract, the postscript of which read: “If the government and Tokyo Electric Power Co. (TEPCO) had taken appropriate measures after the nuclear disaster, we wouldn’t have had to do this. The rice had been very popular among our customers.”
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[And if the people had said to TEPCO, “No, we do not want your subsidies, your sports stadiums, your street lights, your libraries, your public spaces and other bribes. WE WANT OUR LAND, free of nuclear radiation for our children, our grandchildren, and future generations,” then you wouldn’t have had to do this.]
And this, filed under “Duh.”
Many Fukushima evacuees remain reluctant to return to homes near nuclear plant
Municipalities near the crippled Fukushima No. 1 Nuclear Power Plant have started preparations to return to where they were before the outbreak of the nuclear crisis in March following the central government’s announcement on Dec. 26 to redraw evacuation zones, but many evacuees are reluctant to return to their homes due in part to fears over long-running effects of radiation.
Local government leaders are trying to persuade evacuees to go back to where they were before the nuclear power station was crippled by tsunami triggered by the Great East Japan Earthquake on March 11, but an increasing number of affected people have become accustomed to their lives in areas where they have taken shelter.
Most of about 3,000 residents of Kawauchi village, whose eastern part falls within a government-designated evacuation zone within a radius of 20 kilometers from the troubled nuclear power complex, evacuated from their homes in the wake of the nuclear crisis. But an emergency evacuation preparation advisory was lifted in late September for the western part of the village where the municipal government building stands. Levels of radiation there are now low.
Kawauchi Mayor Yuko Endo is expected to declare it is safe to return home soon and urge all villagers to return to their homes by building 50 temporary houses in the western part of the village by next April. The local government functions, which have been operating in the Fukushima Prefecture city of Koriyama since the outbreak of the nuclear crisis, are expected to be relocated back to where they were.
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Let’s see, Koriyama… Oh, yeah. Isn’t that the place where, just the other day, the mystery video man showed the world the reading of 15.15 microsieverts/hour outside the NHK offices in Koriyama?
Yeah, here it is (again):
And here another update from 23 Dec, from EX-SKF:
Radiation in Japan: Koriyama Resident Measures Radiation Levels in His City – 42.85 Microsieverts/Hr on the Drain Lid
Armed with his geiger counter, the Ministry of Education’s radiation map and the Professor Hayakawa’s radiation contour map, he went measuring radiation levels in Koriyama City on December 23, and they were high.
Air radiation level at chest height: maximum 1.51 microsievert/hour
On the sand on the side drain cover: 42.85 microsieverts/hour
If the surface radiation is that high, it would be several hundreds of thousands of becquerels/kg of radioactive cesium in that sand. No one does a thing, and life goes on, because all the national and municipal governments care about is air radiation at 1 meter off the ground.
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And this, filed under “understatement”:
TEPCO dissatisfied with panel’s view of severe accident measures
TOKYO (Kyodo) — Tokyo Electric Power Co. showed dissatisfaction Tuesday with a view suggested in an investigation report on the nuclear accident at the Fukushima Daiichi power plant that the utility should have taken precautionary measures to deal with severe nuclear accidents triggered by tsunami.
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DISSATISFACTION? Only “dissatisfaction”? How about RAGE / FURY / OUTRAGE?
Now this is more like it!
Fukushima tells TEPCO no more nuclear plants
The Fukushima governor has told the president of Tokyo Electric Power Company that the prefecture will request that all nuclear plants in Fukushima be decommissioned.
Governor Yuhei Sato met with TEPCO President Toshio Nishizawa in Fukushima on Tuesday. It was their first meeting since Nishizawa assumed the president’s post in June.
Nishizawa said he visited the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant on Monday and instructed staff to ensure safety by keeping the reactors stable and preventing further release of radioactive substances.
He added that TEPCO is expediting its compensation payments.
Governor Sato explained the prefecture’s intention to request all nuclear plants in Fukushima be shut down.
He said Fukushima hopes to build a society which doesn’t rely on nuclear power. He added that many children have been forced to evacuate their homes and urged Nishizawa to think deeply about the current hardship of the Fukushima people.
Nishizawa had no comment on the decommissioning issue.
Tuesday, December 27, 2011 19:34 +0900 (JST)
Hence, the name of this blog…
Govt panel says M9.0 quake possible
A Japanese government panel says a huge earthquake of magnitude 9.0 could strike central to western Japan in future.
The panel of experts studying massive quakes and tsunami predicted near the Nankai Trough in the Pacific Ocean released its interim report on Tuesday. The study group was set up following the magnitude 9.0 quake that hit northeastern Japan on March 11th.
The report says that if major quakes occur simultaneously along the trough, their focus zone will span over 750 kilometers. The total area would be about 110,000 square kilometers, or 1.8 times larger than earlier predictions.
The panel says the quake’s magnitude would be up to 9.0, compared to the previous estimate of 8.7. This would make the quake’s energy nearly 3 times greater than earlier predictions.
The panel also says tsunami could rise from the seabed near the Nankai Trough. The observation is based on a report that the March 11th tsunami was magnified near the Nippon trench, where bedrock slides.
The panel plans to publicize its estimates of the earthquake’s intensities and the sizes of tsunami early next year. And it plans to begin work on predicting damage by autumn.
Considering the new estimates, the central and local governments are likely to revise their anti-quake and tsunami measures.
Tuesday, December 27, 2011 18:00 +0900 (JST)
Now now, Number 2, there’s nothing to be nervous about. Just open wide and say, “Ahh.”
TEPCO to conduct endoscopy of Fukushima reactors
The utility says the 10-meter long and 8-millimeter wide device will be deployed from next month to measure temperatures and observe other conditions inside the containment vessel at the No.2 reactor.
The government announced on December 16th that all the reactors have been brought under control. But there is not much information on the inside of the containment vessels in the reactors.
The endoscopy will provide the first opportunity to see the inside of a containment vessel of one of the 3 reactors since nuclear fuel melted down in March.
At the bottom of the containment vessels, parts of the nuclear fuel are believed to be piled up after melting through the wall of the pressure vessels.
The firm will start drilling a hole in the northwest wall of the containment vessel at the No. 2 reactor next month so that the high-level radiation proof endoscope can be inserted through it.
TEPCO said it wants to study the extent to which existing technologies can be used for the decommissioning of the reactors before it develops new ones.
Tuesday, December 27, 2011 05:23 +0900 (JST)
And where there are cedars, there is…. class?
High radiation detected in male cedar flowers
Extremely high radiation levels of more than 250,000 becquerels per kilogram of radioactive cesium have been detected in male flowers of cedar trees in the no-entry zone near the damaged Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant.
Japan’s forestry agency collected male cedar flowers at 87 locations in Fukushima Prefecture from late November to early December to measure the levels of radioactive cesium.
The agency detected 253,000 becquerels of the radioactive substance per kilogram in the flowers collected at Omaru in the town of Namie, 11.3 kilometers from the plant. 29 locations saw levels exceed 10,000 becquerels.
The maximum amount of cedar pollen measured in the air when in season by the environment ministry was 2,207 grains per cubic meter.
The forestry agency says if people breathe this concentration for 4 months they would be exposed to 0.553 microsieverts of radiation.
The agency reports this is not a great health hazard as it is only about 10 times what a person would be exposed to from normal background radiation in Tokyo’s Shinjuku Ward.
Tuesday, December 27, 2011 19:05 +0900 (JST)
That’s all I can do for today. Will resume in the morning. There’s more out there. Oyasuminasai.