Fukushima Update - Summer 2015

Fukushima Update


How are things looking, 4 years after the triple meltdown at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant in Japan?
120,000 people remain evacuees. The government has just announced that in 2017 they will stop paying compensation to those people who were evacuated from contaminated zones with up to 50 mSv (millisieverts) per year of radiation, putting enormous pressure on them to return. To put this into perspective: the world limit for workers in the nuclear industry is 20 mSv a year, the ICRP (International Commission On Radiological Protection) limit for citizens is 1 mSv/year. Yet the Japanese government now declares 50 mSv/ year to be ‘safe’?!

UNSCEAR (United Nations Scientific Committee On The Effects of Atomic Radiation) studies repeatedly calculated radiation exposures by combining figures: by taking the exposure figures for residents of Fukushima prefecture and mixing them with those for the entire population of Japan, they were able to present insignificant cancer risk projections.
Dr Timothy Mousseau, Professor of Biological Sciences at University of Southern Carolina, who has been studying the wildlife around Fukushima has concluded: "Most organisms that we have examined showed significantly increased rates of genetic damage in direct proportion to the level of exposure ... Many organisms showed increased rates of deformities, developmental deformities, developmental abnormalities, eye cataracts, and even tumours and cancers." In April 2015 he said: "Now we see this really striking drop-off in numbers of birds as well as numbers of species of birds".

A study by Nagoya City University and NPO Goshawk Protection Fund found that goshawks hatching rate around Fukushima reduced from 90% in 2011 to 67% in 2013. They found that 0.1 μSv/h increase in atmospheric dose reduces breeding success by 10%. Even when the level drops, the breeding success continues to decline. This adds to the experiment in which caterpillars were fed leaves from the Fukushima area which contained caesium. Abnormalities and deformities in the first generation, worse in the second generation. And the third generation? There was no third generation; they all died.

In Fukushima province, 92 out of 92 swallow’s nests that were tested contained caesium, in the mud the birds used to build them. The highest amount was 90,000 Bq/kilo. So the baby swallows nestled up in these nests will have received a hefty dose. Add this to the other doses they will have received from the insects fed to them and their future is not bright.

Over time, foods that are known to be contaminated are tested less and less often. Beef is tested in provinces far away from Fukushima, again and again, giving the impression that cases of contamination are becoming rarer. Consumption of the most highly contaminated foods, such as wild berries, wild mushrooms and wild game is warned against, but now these foods are no longer tested for contamination, so the overall percentage figures look better. Meanwhile, Taiwan has found contaminated food from Fukushima mislabelled - as not coming from Fukushima. So Taiwan has banned all food imports from Japan. Japan's reaction is not to improve their own testing and labelling, but to file a WTO trade complaint, as they have already done to South Korea for restricting Japanese food imports. Japan only conducts spot checks on its food exports, routinely exporting untested food.

During demolition work on Fukushima unit 3, large volumes of contaminated dust blew off site. Only one on-site detection alarm went off, for a brief time. This was not immediately connected to the demolition work but assumed to been due to contaminated water. Months later TEPCO admitted the extent of the dust release after a research crew found increases in contaminated dust in Miyagi prefecture, 20 miles away, and contamination in rice grown there.

400 tons of radioactive water continue to flow into the Pacific each and every day, having come into contact with the melted fuel itself in the reactor's basements. This mixture of water used to cool the fuel and groundwater passing through the buildings and the site, is currently the greatest source of contamination at Fukushima and plans to block it continue to fail. Tepco put a new layer of concrete over the floor of the port, but they didn't say what they were trying to block by doing this. Any groundwater surfacing in the port will surely find another route. You can't concrete over the floor of the whole Pacific.

The long-term effects of this are unknown, but the mass deaths of seals, starfish, grey whales (12 since April), anchovies, sardines and auklets off California are quite possibly related. Most marine scientists seem to be staring intently in the opposite direction; "we don't know what it is but it can't be Fukushima".

70% of the Japanese population are now against using nuclear power. 1.2 million applications have been lodged for renewable energy projects, mostly solar. If all these projects go ahead, Japan could leave its nuclear power stations switched off. Solar power installations in Japan have jumped from 4.9 GW to 23 GW since 2011. But the Abe government and the electricity companies have moved to throttle this growth, preferring nuclear. They have slashed the price paid for electricity from solar - the ‘feed-in-tariff’, and declared that the grid, can't take any more new sources. This is easily to fix: build some more power lines! But the power companies own the grid, and have no incentive to let in independent producers, as they have invested heavily in nuclear. So the nuclear village drags Japan back into the most toxic, expensive and dangerous energy industry ever built by the human race.

And throughout all this is the constant chant from the authorities, repeated endlessly like a mantra. "No immediate threat to human health". No, no immediate threat that these levels will kill you in minutes, hours or weeks; things are (luckily) not that bad. Just cancers, heart disease, deformities, infertility starting to appear over a few decades, and spreading out over centuries. And that few decades delay is what this deadly power source/money spinner, the nuclear industry, has always hidden behind. They get the money, we get the cancer. Later.

To keep up to speed on developments, visit
http://enenews.com/ www.fukuleaks.org or www.fairewinds.org