Jump to content
SnowJapan Community
  • Sign Up
Sign in to follow this  
Chriselle

Arnie Gundersen...

Recommended Posts

Posted this in the main quake thread but here as well.

 

-

 

Friend sent me this, I believe from the Independent though I couldn't find it. Anyway.

 

Why the Fukushima disaster is worse than Chernobyl

 

Japan has been slow to admit the scale of the meltdown. But now the truth is coming out. David McNeill reports from Soma City

 

Yoshio Ichida is recalling the worst day of his 53 years: 11 March, when the sea swallowed up his home and killed his friends. The Fukushima fisherman was in the bath when the huge quake hit and barely made it to the open sea in his boat in the 40 minutes before the 15-metre tsunami that followed. When he got back to port, his neighbourhood and nearly everything else was gone. "Nobody can remember anything like this," he says.

 

Now living in a refugee centre in the ruined coastal city of Soma, Mr Ichida has mourned the 100 local fishermen killed in the disaster and is trying to rebuild his life with his colleagues. Every morning, they arrive at the ruined fisheries co-operative building in Soma port and prepare for work. Then they stare out at the irradiated sea, and wait. "Some day we know we'll be allowed to fish again. We all want to believe that."

 

This nation has recovered from worse natural – and manmade – catastrophes. But it is the triple meltdown and its aftermath at the Fukushima nuclear power plant 40km down the coast from Soma that has elevated Japan into unknown, and unknowable, terrain. Across the northeast, millions of people are living with its consequences and searching for a consensus on a safe radiation level that does not exist. Experts give bewilderingly different assessments of its dangers.

 

 

Some scientists say Fukushima is worse than the 1986 Chernobyl accident, with which it shares a maximum level-7 rating on the sliding scale of nuclear disasters. One of the most prominent of them is Dr Helen Caldicott, an Australian physician and long time anti-nuclear activist who warns of "horrors to come" in Fukushima.

 

Chris Busby, a professor at the University of Ulster known for his alarmist views, generated controversy during a Japan visit last month when he said the disaster would result in more than 1 million deaths. "Fukushima is still boiling its radionuclides all over Japan," he said. "Chernobyl went up in one go. So Fukushima is worse."

 

On the other side of the nuclear fence are the industry friendly scientists who insist that the crisis is under control and radiation levels are mostly safe. "I believe the government and Tokyo Electric Power [Tepco, the plant's operator] are doing their best," said Naoto Sekimura, vice-dean of the Graduate School of Engineering at the University of Tokyo. Mr Sekimura initially advised residents near the plant that a radioactive disaster was "unlikely" and that they should stay "calm", an assessment he has since had to reverse.

 

Slowly, steadily, and often well behind the curve, the government has worsened its prognosis of the disaster. Last Friday, scientists affiliated with the Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency said the plant had released 15,000 terabecquerels of cancer-causing Cesium, equivalent to about 168 times the 1945 atomic bombing of Hiroshima, the event that ushered in the nuclear age. (Professor Busby says the release is at least 72,000 times worse than Hiroshima).

 

Caught in a blizzard of often conflicting information, many Japanese instinctively grope for the beacons they know. Mr Ichida and his colleagues say they no longer trust the nuclear industry or the officials who assured them the Fukushima plant was safe. But they have faith in government radiation testing and believe they will soon be allowed back to sea.

 

That's a mistake, say sceptics, who note a consistent pattern of official lying, foot-dragging and concealment. Last week, officials finally admitted something long argued by its critics: that thousands of people with homes near the crippled nuclear plant may not be able to return for a generation or more. "We can't rule out the possibility that there will be some areas where it will be hard for residents to return to their homes for a long time," said Yukio Edano, the government's top government spokesman. "We are very sorry."

 

Last Friday, hundreds of former residents from Futaba and Okuma, the towns nearest the plant, were allowed to visit their homes – perhaps for the last time – to pick up belongings. Wearing masks and radiation suits, they drove through the 20km contaminated zone around the plant, where hundreds of animals have died and rotted in the sun, to find kitchens and living rooms partly reclaimed by nature. "It's hard to believe we ever lived here," one former resident told NHK.

 

Several other areas northwest of the plant have become atomic ghost towns after being ordered to evacuate – too late, say many residents, who believe they absorbed dangerous quantities of radiation in the weeks after the accident. "We've no idea when we can come back," says Katsuzo Shoji, who farmed rice and cabbages and kept a small herd of cattle near Iitate, a picturesque village about 40km from the plant.

 

Although it is outside the exclusion zone, the village's mountainous topography meant radiation, carried by wind and rain, lingered, poisoning crops, water and school playgrounds.

 

The young, the wealthy, mothers and pregnant women left for Tokyo or elsewhere. Most of the remaining 6000 people have since evacuated, after the government accepted that safe radiation limits had been exceeded.

 

Mr Shoji, 75, went from shock to rage, then despair when the government told him he would have to destroy his vegetables, kill his six cows and move with his wife Fumi, 73, to an apartment in Koriyama, about 20km away. "We've heard five, maybe 10 years but some say that's far too optimistic," he says, crying. "Maybe I'll be able to come home to die." He was given initial compensation of one million yen (£7,900) by Tepco, topped up with 350,000 yen from the government.

 

It is the fate of people outside the evacuation zones, however, that causes the most bitter controversy. Parents in Fukushima City, 63km from the plant, have banded together to demand that the government do more to protect about 100,000 children. Schools have banned soccer and other outdoor sports. Windows are kept closed. "We've just been left to fend for ourselves," says Machiko Sato, a grandmother who lives in the city. "It makes me so angry."

 

Many parents have already sent their children to live with relatives or friends hundreds of kilometres away. Some want the government to evacuate the entire two million population of Fukushima Prefecture. "They're demanding the right to be able to evacuate," says anti-nuclear activist Aileen Mioko Smith, who works with the parents. "In other words, if they evacuate they want the government to support them."

 

So far, at least, the authorities say that is not necessary. The official line is that the accident at the plant is winding down and radiation levels outside of the exclusion zone and designated "hot spots" are safe.

 

But many experts warn that the crisis is just beginning. Professor Tim Mousseau, a biological scientist who has spent more than a decade researching the genetic impact of radiation around Chernobyl, says he worries that many people in Fukushima are "burying their heads in the sand." His Chernobyl research concluded that biodiversity and the numbers of insects and spiders had shrunk inside the irradiated zone, and the bird population showed evidence of genetic defects, including smaller brain sizes.

 

"The truth is that we don't have sufficient data to provide accurate information on the long-term impact," he says. "What we can say, though, is that there are very likely to be very significant long-term health impact from prolonged exposure."

 

In Soma, Mr Ichida says all the talk about radiation is confusing. "All we want to do is get back to work. There are many different ways to die, and having nothing to do is one of them."

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I find the way that generally there does not seem to be outright alarm at the managed slow drip of worse and worse news very unsettling.

 

Someone said it somewhere else on here - like a frog slowly getting boiled in water.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Originally Posted By: Ctrl-Z
I find the way that generally there does not seem to be outright alarm at the managed slow drip of worse and worse news very unsettling.


I definitely agree that the news is being "managed".

Its also unsettling to see the burden of proof falling on those who say the radiation levels are dangerous, not on those who say they are safe. In Japan of all countries.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Originally Posted By: gnarly-dude
Is this kind of thing being reported overseas or not?

My family said that they had hardly heard anything since April.


Heard the same while I was back over summer.

"Hows Japan getting on then? Haven't heard anything on that for a long time" was the usual comment.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

They're surely going to pick up on things like this if they continue.

 

While the levels still remain "safe for health" (ahem), I think people in this town are pretty shocked to hear that there were those levels found here. We're 250km away from Daiichi, on the other side of lots of mountains.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Originally Posted By: gnarly-dude
Is this kind of thing being reported overseas or not?

My family said that they had hardly heard anything since April.


In the foreign mainstream press, I guess there is next to no news.

In the foreign minor press, some of the revelations have been bigger than anything reported in Japan. One example is The Independent's report about the nuclear accident starting before the tsunami hit. The significance of that is massive for any debate over the future of nuclear power in Japan. German tv has reported on farmers outside the exclusion zone being refused government testing and has interviewed the journalist who went undercover into the plant and took the photos that the Guardian etc. used. If you search youtube for zdf and fukushima you can find the reports. Some have been subtitled into Japanese.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Originally Posted By: Heather Locklear Rocks
Lets see how the rice harvest goes................


Apparently they've already cleared the rice in most places. For whatever reason (probably to cover something up) they tested the water the rice was grown in rather than the rice itself.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I think Arnie is talking about a wider area of rice - Niigata, Yamagata and further afield.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Seems to be talk today of bad stuff being detected in Tokyo and also Yokohama

 

YOKOHAMA--The Yokohama city government has launched a survey on soil in the city's Kohoku Ward after private analysis found radioactive strontium in accumulated dirt on the rooftop of a local apartment building.

The strontium appears to be linked to accidents at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant, which is about 250 kilometers away.

The Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology Ministry, however, has not detected strontium in areas more than 100 kilometers from the Tokyo Electric Power Co. plant in any of its own testing.

According to the city's health and safety division, residents of the apartment building collected dirt on the building's rooftop in mid-September and asked the Isotope Research Institution in Tsurumi Ward, Yokohama, to examine it.

The city was then alerted by the residents that strontium-90, which has a half-life of about 30 years, was found in the dirt.

The city government has declined to comment, with one official saying, "We can't make [the details] public as we haven't confirmed anything yet."

On Oct. 4, the municipality asked the research institution to analyze a sample of soil taken from the ward. It will announce the results of the analysis as soon as they become available, the official said.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

"it appears to be from the Fukushima plant".................is there possibly any other ay that Strontium-90 could be found on a roof in Yokohama??

 

MEXT have failed to find anything in their surveys.....wow, there is a surprise...I am absolutely taken aback and you can knock me down with a feather

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

turns out that the Tokyo one was not Strontium but Radium. Same reason as the beach in Scotland that is radioactive.....it was used as a scrap yard by the RAF after the war and over theyears accumulated lots of plane dials that used radium to enable the dials and various odometers to glow in the dark. Separately they were fine but accumulation of these devices meant that it was now a minor problem.....seems the old guy who lived in the house used to be a painter and had some sort of glow-in-the-dark stuff....whether it was lights so he could continue painting or paint for various dials etc I don't know, but thats where it came from. Probably been emitting radiation for years and years and no-one has been any the wiser but because everyone is sensitive about this now and many people now have a geiger counter, they have detected it

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Sign in to follow this  

sjf2019l.png

About SnowJapan

SnowJapan.com is the independent guide to skiing and snowboarding in Japan and has been online since 1999.

SnowJapan.com covers the whole of Japan. We are here to introduce the world to unbiased, honest and detailed information about winter sports in Japan. We publish exclusive and in-depth and daily content throughout the winter season and we add new functionality and content to the site every year.

We are not here to promote any specific destinations or resorts, or to sell our readers any kind of products or services. We are not a travel agency and we do not own any ski resorts, ski schools, accommodations or other related businesses.

×