Well, here we are, 311 days after 3-11. The anniversary of the Great Hanshin earthquake on January 17, 1995, in which close to 6,500 people perished. Our thoughts are with those who lost loved ones in the disaster.
Kobe area marks 17 years since deadly quake, honors Tohoku victims
KOBE (Kyodo) — A series of ceremonies and commemorative events marked the 17th anniversary Tuesday of the Great Hanshin Earthquake which ravaged Hyogo Prefecture and its surrounding areas in western Japan, claiming about 6,430 lives.
Residents of the Tohoku region in northeastern Japan, which was devastated by the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami, were among those who took part in events in Kobe and elsewhere to mark the anniversary of the disaster.
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A read of Uh-oh Japan 2 asked very early on after the Tohoku disaster about the children who were orphaned in the quake/tsunami. Here is an update:
Tsunami disaster orphans estimated at 240
The Great East Japan Earthquake and tsunami left a total of 240 orphans in the three most severely affected prefectures, Miyagi, Iwate and Fukushima, latest prefectural estimates show.
According to authorities in the three prefectures, 126 children in Miyagi, 93 in Iwate and 21 in Fukushima were orphaned in the disaster. The numbers represent children under the age of 18 at the time of the disaster, whose parents have been confirmed dead or still remain missing.
The numbers were highest in Miyagi Prefecture, with most children coming from areas that were severely damaged by the earthquake-triggered tsunami, including 49 from Ishinomaki, 21 from Natori, 17 from Kesennuma and 10 from Onagawa.
In Iwate Prefecture, orphaned children were mostly centralized in three cities, with 35 being from Rikuzentakata, 23 from Kamaishi and 17 from Otsuchi.
In Fukushima Prefecture, six of the 21 children are from Soma and five from Iwaki.
Based on the fact that in all three prefectures numbers have not changed over the past several months, authorities say estimates are most likely “final.”
Meanwhile, in all three prefectures, approximately 60 percent of the children’s guardians have registered to receive governmental benefits, showing that an increased number of people have become familiar with the program.
A total of 113 households (51 in Miyagi, 47 in Iwate and 15 in Fukushima) have received financial assistance under the kinship foster care program, given to guardians within three degrees of kinship to an orphan. The number of ordinary foster parents who have applied for governmental assistance were 41 for all three prefectures, with 28 being from Miyagi, 10 from Iwate and 3 from Fukushima.
(Mainichi Japan) January 17, 2012
Filed under “Told you so.”:
TEPCO announces 17% rise in electricity charges for companies
TOKYO, Jan. 17, Kyodo
Tokyo Electric Power Co. said Tuesday it will seek an average 17 percent rise in electricity charges for corporate users to finance growing fuel costs stemming from boosting thermal power generation in the wake of the disastrous accident at its Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant.
The electricity rate hikes, which take effect April 1, will affect some 240,000 contracts for 50 kilowatts or more, and boost revenue at the company known as TEPCO by 400 billion yen annually.
With all of TEPCO’s nuclear reactors expected to be shut down by March for regular checkups or other reasons, TEPCO President Toshio Nishizawa said, ”If the current situation continues, we think our business condition would deteriorate further, and at no distant date, fuel procurement and stable supply of electricity may be affected.”
More on yesterday’s story about the radioactive crushed stone:
New condo’s foundation radioactive
Quarry sourced crushed stones from hot-zone city of Namie
FUKUSHIMA — High levels of radiation have been detected on the first floor of a newly built condominium complex in Nihonmatsu, Fukushima Prefecture, the municipal government said.
Crushed stones used in the building’s concrete foundation came from the exclusion zone around the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant, local government officials said.
A quarry firm said Monday it shipped some 5,280 tons of crushed stones from Namie, Fukushima Prefecture, to 19 contractors after the nuclear crisis started last March 11, including some 1,065 tons distributed to a concrete maker that provided the material for the Nihonmatsu building’s foundations.
The firm is investigating its shipments to determine if crushed stones contaminated with radiation also were used in other buildings.
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And another from EX-SKF:
“Radioactive” Crushed Stones Used over 400 Job Sites in at Least 4 Cities in Fukushima
Nevertheless, the latest news on the “radioactive” crushed stones is:
- The stones were sold and widely used in construction of apartments, houses, and roads in at least 4 municipalities including Fukushima City in Fukushima Prefecture;
- The Nihonmatsu city government knew about the high radiation exposure of the residents in the apartment back in December but didn’t tell the residents.
- The Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry knew about it on December 28, 2011 when the city emailed the Ministry asking for guidance, but didn’t do anything until January 10, 2012 because it was New Year’s Day holiday and then a long weekend on January 7, 8 and 9.
- The residents in the apartment weren’t informed at all, until the news finally broke in the media.
Oh and one typically Japanese bit of information: the concrete company in Nihonmatsu City who delivered the concrete with these crushed stones in it for the apartment foundation has since closed business, and they already destroyed all the documents detailing how much concrete was sold to which job site. Probably only to emerge as a new company under a new name, as often happens in Japan.
Many residents of the apartment are evacuees from Minami Soma City and Namie-machi, having escaped the radiation from the Fukushima I Nuclear Plant accident, only to receive added extra by settling in Nihonmatsu City in this apartment.
Article continues with translation of article from Sankei Shinbun at:
New Fukushima Investigation Promises to Dig Deeper Into Nuclear Crisis
By Tsuyoshi Inajima and Kanoko Matsuyama – Jan 17, 2012 2:38 PM GMT+0900
The head of Japan’s latest investigation into the Fukushima nuclear disaster promised to dig deeper than previous inquiries into the events that unfolded after an earthquake and tsunami struck the country in March.
A separate government investigation concluded last month that the Fukushima Dai-Ichi plant withstood the shaking of a magnitude-9 quake on March 11, before succumbing to the tsunami that followed, endorsing findings by Tokyo Electric Power Co. (9501) Three reactors had meltdowns after cooling and backup power was knocked out at the plant in the worst nuclear catastrophe since Chernobyl in 1986.
“The most important question the panel needs to answer is how much damage was caused by the earthquake, rather than the tsunami,” Tetsuo Ito, the head the Atomic Energy Research Institute at Kinki University in western Japan, said by phone yesterday. “If the panel finds evidence the quake damaged critical functions, all of Japan’s atomic stations will need to be reviewed.”
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For readers in Canada…
Radioactive iodine in rainwater: Public was in the dark
BY ALEX ROSLIN, THE GAZETTE JANUARY 14, 2012
But last March, a Health Canada monitoring station in Calgary detected an average of 8.18 becquerels per litre of radioactive iodine (an isotope released by the nuclear accident) in rainwater, the data shows.
The level easily exceeded the Canadian guideline of six becquerels of iodine per litre for drinking water, acknowledged Eric Pellerin, chief of Health Canada’s radiation-surveillance division.
“It’s above the recommended level (for drinking water),” he said in an interview. “At any time you sample it, it should not exceed the guideline.”
Canadian authorities didn’t disclose the high radiation reading at the time.
In contrast, the state of Virginia issued a don’t-drink-rainwater advisory in late March after iodine levels in rain in a nearby city spiked to 3.4 becquerels per litre on a single day. That was less than half of the level seen in Calgary during the entire month of March.
Radioactive iodine also appeared in smaller amounts in March in Vancouver (which saw an average of 0.69 becquerels per litre in rainwater, up from zero before Fukushima), Winnipeg (which got 0.64 becquerels per litre) and Ottawa (which had 1.67 becquerels per litre), the data shows.
These other levels didn’t exceed the Canadian limit for drinking water. But the level in Ottawa did surpass the more stringent ceiling for drinking water used by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
The data still isn’t posted on Health Canada’s web page devoted to the impacts of Fukushima.
Pellerin said he doesn’t know why Health Canada didn’t make the data public. “I can’t answer that. The communication aspect could be improved.”
The rainwater data also raises questions about how Ottawa monitors radiation after a nuclear crisis:
Some of Health Canada’s numbers are much lower than those reported by other radiation researchers. Simon Fraser University nuclear chemist Krzysztof Starosta found iodine levels in rainwater in Burnaby, B.C., spiked to 13 becquerels per litre in March – many times higher than the levels Health Canada detected in nearby Vancouver.
Rain was tested only at the end of each month, after a network of monitoring stations sent samples to Ottawa. This meant the radiation spikes last March were only discovered in early April, after rainwater samples were sent to Ottawa for testing – too late to alert the public, including those who collect rain for drinking and gardening.
In contrast, the EPA tested the rain for radiation every day and immediately reported the data on its website.
Over EPA limit: Cesium levels in San Francisco area milk now higher than 6 months ago
Hosono calls for review of storing spent nuclear fuel
Goshi Hosono, state minister in charge of the nuclear disaster, will ask electric power companies to stop storing spent fuel rods inside their reactor buildings, a setup that compounded the crisis at the Fukushima plant.
This from Enformable at:
SPEEDI information provided to United States Military but not Japanese Citizens
Representatives of the Japanese Ministry of Education were called as witnesses by the Accident Investigation Board in charge of discovering the true nature of the Fukushima nuclear disaster. During questioning it was determined that the predictive data from SPEEDI, which forecasts and predicts spread of radioactive material after a nuclear disaster, had been provided to the U.S.Military.
According to NHK, the data had been compiled immediately after the accident, and provided to the US through the Foreign Ministry. The Ministry of Education decided that the published data did not accurately predict the actual situation, and may have lead to unnecessary confusion if released to the public. For these reasons the data was not published immediately, and evacuees were abandoned to make decisions with the government only telling part of the story.