Day 359 3-year-old quickly learns the word “hoshano” (radiation)

To friends from Iran, thank you.

Iranians pray for Japanese quake victims

Iranians have prayed for the reconstruction of northeastern Japan. The area was devastated by an earthquake and tsunami almost a year ago.

In a ceremony held by the Japanese embassy in Tehran on Sunday, Iranian musicians played a traditional tune dedicated to victims of the disaster.

Pictures showing the devastation in the affected areas were on display, and visitors offered prayers for the victims.

Iran, like Japan, is known as a quake-prone country. More than 40,000 people were killed when a major quake hit the southeastern city of Bam 8 years ago.

An Iranian official from the Red Crescent Society led a relief team delivering 50,000 cans of food to the quake-hit Sendai City in Miyagi Prefecture immediately after the disaster.

The official said that he was impressed to see Japanese people patiently struggling to recover from the calamity when he visited Japan again 2 weeks previously. The official said the experience convinced him that people can recover from whatever hardship they encounter.

Japanese Ambassador Kinichi Komano expressed his gratitude for Iran’s assistance. He said the 2 countries became closer through the experience.

Monday, March 05, 2012 08:07 +0900 (JST)

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In the eyes of a child: 3-year-old’s life turned upside down by Fukushima crisis

DATE, Fukushima — “Grandpa, radiation scares me. Let’s go back.”

Those were the words of 3-year-old Yuka Kanno to her grandfather Hitoshi, 61, when he took her out for a walk in this city shortly after the meltdowns at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant.

Almost a year after the beginning of the nuclear crisis, triggered by a massive earthquake and tsunami on March 11, 2011, radiation doses in Date are still high. As a result, Yuka’s world has changed drastically — from playing outdoors to staying at home alone, watching anime and playing with her dolls.

“She always plays quietly on her own,” Yuka’s 53-year-old grandmother Tomoko says, as she reflects on how the nuclear disaster has affected her granddaughter’s life.

“I couldn’t leave her alone at the time,” Tomoko recalls, still regretting how at the beginning of the nuclear crisis, fearing that there would be no food left in the city, she took Yuka with her when she went out to buy supplies. It was only much later that she learned that radioactive iodine from the Fukushima plant had fallen on the region.

One after another, most families with children around Yuka’s age have left Date. This April, the 3-year-old will enter a kindergarten near her family’s house. Originally, 13 children were scheduled to enroll with her. Now, there are only two others.

However, Yuka’s mother Miyuki — a 27-year-old pharmacist — fears she won’t be able to find a job if she leaves the city. After months of anxiety, she decided to stay with Yuka and her parents in Date. It was not an easy choice, made with much fear and hesitation.

“Miyuki’s expressions on her face had changed for a while since the outbreak of the nuclear disaster,” her mother Tomoko recalls.

Yuka now spends most of every day watching animated kids’ shows on satellite TV, which her grandfather — who retired from teaching last year and is now a farmer — subscribes to so that Yuka wouldn’t get bored and lonely while stuck indoors. She gets to play outside her house sometimes, too, though for no more than 20 minutes at a time, once every few days.

“She was quick to remember the word ‘radioactivity,'” Hitoshi says.

When Tomoko has to take her granddaughter out, she carries her on her back to prevent the curious Yuka from touching dirt and plants along the way. She often tries to grab things anyway, and Tomoko stops her every time.

What Yuka is allowed to eat has also changed drastically. Before the disaster, Miyuki used to feed her rice from Hitoshi’s fields, but has now switched to rice from the prefectural city of Kitakata, far from the nuclear plant. Even though tests last year showed Hitoshi’s rice was not tainted with radioactive cesium, Miyuki still worried that it wouldn’t be safe enough for her daughter.

Regional produce is also forbidden at the family table, though Yuka loves fried “tara” sprouts — a local vegetable.

“I really want to eat it,” Yuka often tells her grandmother who, unable to fulfill Yuka’s wishes, is heartbroken every time.

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Medical personnel quitting Fukushima due to lingering fears of radiation exposure

One-year-old Himari, center, held by her mother Tomomi Sato, left, undergoes a radiation screening test at the welfare office in Oyama, Fukushima Prefecture, on May 24, 2011. (Mainichi)

One-year-old Himari, center, held by her mother Tomomi Sato, left, undergoes a radiation screening test at the welfare office in Oyama, Fukushima Prefecture, on May 24, 2011. (Mainichi)

FUKUSHIMA — Fears of radiation exposure continue to haunt people in Fukushima Prefecture, nearly one year after the March 11 megaquake and tsunami triggered the crisis at the Fukushima No. 1 Nuclear Power Plant.

Some residents are falling ill after being deprived of an ordinary life at home and in the office. Meanwhile, 62,674 residents, or roughly 3 percent of the prefecture’s pre-disaster population, have evacuated outside the prefecture as of Feb. 23.

Article continues at:

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Discovery of Neptunium-239 in Iitate-mura Finally Published by a Peer-Review Magazine (Nearly One Year after the Discovery)

A paper by a researcher at Tokyo University about discovery of neptunium-239 and other short-lived nuclides in Iitate-mura seems to have finally been accepted and published by Environmental Pollution, a peer-reviewed scientific magazine. It was made available online on January 20, 2012, and is published in the April 2012 issue of the magazine.

It took nearly 1 year for off-line readers to know about the discovery. The researcher took the samples of soil, plants and water in early April last year.

In August last year there was an article of neptunium-239 having been discovered in Iitate-mura, 35 kilometers from Fukushima I Nuclear Power Plant, by a researcher at Tokyo University. The article was written by a husband and wife comedian couple. (For more, see my post on August 15, 2011.) They were criticized for not revealing the source (name of this researcher) or the details. Their response was that the researcher was submitting the paper to a peer-reviewed magazine.

Well here it is, published by a peer-reviewed magazine nearly one year after the accident, and now utterly irrelevant except for some academic curiosity. The information, as it sat in limbo of peer-reviewing process, was not used to educate, warn people in Fukushima, particularly in Iitate-mura, so that they could decide what to do. If they had known their soil and vegetation were extremely contaminated with short-lived radionuclides with strong radioactivity, they might have done things differently.

I hope the researcher at least warned the villagers privately.


Environmental Pollution

Volume 163, April 2012, Pages 243–247

Deposition of fission and activation products after the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant accident

* Katsumi Shozugawa (a), Corresponding author
* Norio Nogawa (b),
* Motoyuki Matsuo (a)

* a Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, The University of Tokyo, 3-8-1 Komaba, Meguro-ku, Tokyo 153-8902, Japan
* b Radioisotope Center, The University of Tokyo, 2-11-16 Yayoi, Bunkyo-ku, Tokyo 113-0032, Japan

* Received 22 August 2011. Revised 24 December 2011. Accepted 1 January 2012. Available online 20 January 2012.


The Great Eastern Japan Earthquake on March 11, 2011, damaged reactor cooling systems at Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant. The subsequent venting operation and hydrogen explosion resulted in a large radioactive nuclide emission from reactor containers into the environment. Here, we collected environmental samples such as soil, plant species, and water on April 10, 2011, in front of the power plant main gate as well as 35 km away in Iitate village, and observed gamma-rays with a Ge(Li) semiconductor detector. We observed activation products (239Np and 59Fe) and fission products (131I, 134Cs (133Cs), 137Cs, 110mAg (109Ag), 132Te, 132I, 140Ba, 140La, 91Sr, 91Y, 95Zr, and 95Nb). 239Np is the parent nuclide of 239Pu; 59Fe are presumably activation products of 58Fe obtained by corrosion of cooling pipes. The results show that these activation and fission products, diffused within a month of the accident.

► We collected environmental samples near the Fukushima nuclear power plant. ► We observed 239Np and 59Fe along with many fission products. ► 239Np is evidently an activation product of 238U contained in nuclear fuel. ► 239Np is also parent nuclide of 239Pu. ► Our results show that activation products diffused within a month of the accident.

If the data in the paper is not much different from what the researcher had put on his own website last year, Iitate-mura had several thousand becquerels/kg of neptunium-239, exceeding one of the two sampling locations in front of the Fukushima I plant gate. Iitate-mura also had a host of other radionuclides in amounts exceeding the immediate vicinity of the plant or the front gate of the plant or even inside the plant.

You can see the charts for yourself, here. They are from the researcher’s presentation last year, not from the paper submitted and accepted at Environmental Pollution.

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Radio-isotopic Analysis of Post-Fukushima Accident Japanese Soil Samples

And the Japanese Soil Sample Report Data here at:

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Anxious Fukushima town residents await review of no-go zone

The Okuma Town Hall in Fukushima Prefecture is partially covered with snow on Feb. 26. (Mainichi)

The Okuma Town Hall in Fukushima Prefecture is partially covered with snow on Feb. 26. (Mainichi)

OKUMA, Fukushima — This town frequently witnesses many vehicles carrying workers to and from the crippled Fukushima No.1 Nuclear Power Plant.

Okuma has a total area of about 78 square kilometers and is one of the municipalities that host the nuclear power plant. But the annual radiation dose tops 20 millisieverts for its east side, of which 70 percent still logs an annual radiation dose of more than 50 millisieverts.

As a result, roads, irrigation facilities and other infrastructure badly damaged by the Great East Japan Earthquake and tsunami and subsequent nuclear crisis have yet to be repaired.

In October last year, the town government mapped out a reconstruction blueprint to rebuild mainly areas where radiation doses are relatively low. But the central government is contemplating a review of the no-go zone as early as April, and it is not clear which area will be dropped from the no-go zone.

Article continues at:

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Path of tsunami debris mapped out

By Jonathan AmosScience correspondent, BBC News, Salt Lake City

Almost a year after the Japanese Tohoku earthquake and mega-tsunami, the Pacific Ocean is still dealing with the consequences of the catastrophe.

Article continues with animation of how the Japanese tsunami debris field has spread since March 2011 at:

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From the Safecast list serve 4 March:

On December 28th NHK (the National broadcasting company of Japan) aired a game-changing program focusing on the risk of low dose radiation.They visited a town in Sweden in which the cancer occurrence ratio increased by 34% with a radiation level of 0.2mSv/yr due to the Chernobyl nuclear accident, and they interviewed Martin Tondel who says that the cancer risk from low dose radiation is higher than the ICRP (The International
Commission on Radiological Protection) estimate.

They visited a family living in the suburb of Chicago with three nuclear power plants whose daughter had a brain tumour. Her father, a pediatrician, obtained health records of 1200 residents and found out that the occurrence of brain tumour and leukemia increased by 30% only in the area surrounding the power plants.

They attended an ICRP meeting and was told that there are serious questions inside the ICRP about the applicability of the applied ICRP rate for low dose rate exposure. According to Christopher Clement of the ICRP, the data from the atomic bombings in Hiroshima and Nagasaki after a revision in the late 1980s indicated that the risk of low dose radiation was in fact twice as high as previously assumed. However, the ICRP did still not revise its risk assessment and they kept their safety standard unchanged.

13 out of 17 members of the ICRP were either members of government agencies or institutions promoting nuclear power.

Charles Meinhold, who was an ICRP member from the 1970s to mid 1990s, finally agreed to be interviewed after several requests. He was in charge of safety regulations for nuclear power plants at the Department of Energy.

He said that people in the nuclear industry wanted to keep the safety limit high and the ICRP safety standard was made in consideration of nuclear power plant operators. The report compiled by him and other U.S. members estimated that if the safety standard on radiation exposure was revised, facility modifications would cost $3.64 million and and included a recommendation that the ICRP do not raise the safety standard. (19:30~on the video) He and other members strongly protested higher ICRP safety standards. The ICRP actually decided to lower the safety standard by 20% in certain areas so that workers in the nuclear plants weed allowed to work longer hours.

The NHK program also drew attention to the fact that the ICRP is an organisation of scientists that make policy measures, and that the ICRP is funded by the nations promoting nuclear power.

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Japan launches quake reconstruction bonds with special coins

TOKYO, March 5, Kyodo

Japan launched special government bonds Monday aimed at raising funds for reconstruction from the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami, saying it will present buyers with commemorative coins three years later bearing the image of a ”miracle pine” that has come to symbolize hopes for recovery.

The coins — gold coins worth 10,000 yen and silver coins worth 1,000 yen — are engraved with the design of a 30-meter-high pine tree in Rikuzentakata, Iwate Prefecture that was the only one of about 70,000 pines on a stretch of coast to survive the massive tsunami.

One gold coin will be given per 10 million yen worth of bond holdings as of April 15, 2015, the Finance Ministry said. One 1,000-yen silver coin will be offered for every 1 million yen’s worth.

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I guess the gov’t wants to sell the bonds so that they can pay for moving radiation around the country more easily.

Japanese Government’s All-Out Offensive to Push Disaster Debris All Over Japan

The push has gotten noticeably stronger in the past week or so, gearing toward the one-year anniversary of the March 11, 2011 disaster.

Even the far-away prefecture like Okinawa, some of whose islands are physically much closer to Taiwan than to the Japanese mainland, eagerly wants disaster debris from Tohoku to be shipped there (I hate to think how much it would cost), much to the despair of parents who have thought they escaped to Okinawa with their children to avoid radiation contamination.

Now, Prime Minister Noda has promised a beefed-up support (i.e. more subsidy, i.e. more taxpayers’ money) to those exemplary municipalities who take the debris and burn, on a TV show.

Jiji Tsushin (3/4/2012):


Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda appeared on a program aired on Nippon Television in the evening of March 4. About the wide-area processing and disposal of the debris from the March 11, 2011 earthquake/tsunami disaster, he said, “We will have to support the municipalities that will accept the debris. The national government will support the testing of radioactivity, which is the only way to dispel fears. In some cases, the national government will conduct the test”, indicating the policy to financially support the municipalities that accept the debris.


The prime minister also promised the financial support from the national government when the municipalities expand the existing disposal sites or build new disposal sites. He said emphatically, “The most important thing is to get approval from people near the disposal sites. If necessary, we will go ourselves to explain to them.”


The national government makes it the goal to dispose all the debris by the end of March 2014. However, there is a limit to how much debris can be processed at the disaster affected areas, and the prime minister called for cooperation from municipalities in Japan in wide-area debris processing in the press conference on February 10. However, only Tokyo, Aomori Prefecture, and Yamagata Prefecture have accepted the debris, because of the fear of radiation contamination of the disaster debris.

Oh boy. This prime minister may have been a good speaker on the street corner in his younger days, but he doesn’t seem to live in the reality-based world.

1. No one outside the government believes the numbers that the government churns out regarding radiation contamination. Even the ranking official at the Ministry of the Environment has admitted that people do not trust any government numbers.

2. His understanding that the only people that should matter are the residents near the final disposal sites is plain wrong. The debris will be burned elsewhere, and the residents near the incineration plants do matter. Besides, the final disposal sites are often located near or at the water source, and even without radioactive materials there have been numerous problems with contaminated runoffs polluting the water and soil, affecting people and businesses downstream.

3. Capacity to process the debris at the disaster-affected area is a matter of debate right now. More and more municipalities and waste management industry people are saying they want the debris to stay where they are, instead of wasting money to transport it as far away as to Okinawa.

But it doesn’t seem to matter to the Japanese government a bit. They seem to think if they repeat the same words over and over again people will get weary and give up.


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