- As of May 19th, 880 fuel bundles have been safely transferred out of the unit #4 storage pool. This marks a 57.4% completion point with the project. http://www.tepco.co.jp/en/decommision/index-e.html
- A Health Ministry group wants a lifelong analysis of all Fukushima workers. The panel says this will show if any of the 19,000 people who have worker at F. Daiichi have impaired health due to radiation exposure. The panel also says those who have received exposures above government limits should have blood tests with every checkup. Panel chief Toshiteru Okubo says the results could serve as a guideline for the health impact on local resident exposures. The group says they will submit a full report later this month and hope it will be approved so the testing program can begin later this year. NHK World; Panel urges lifelong survey for Fukushima workers; May 19, 2014.
- The manga (comics) story about radiation-induced nosebleeds continues in the news. Comics are popular reading fare for adults in Japan, providing a break from reality much the same as western soap operas. The recent issue of a manga depicting repeated nosebleeds for its main character being exposed to ambient radiation by a one-time visit to the Fukushima has caused a furor. Areas outside of the exclusion zone in Fukushima are on par with – and in some cases lower than – background radiation levels in the world where healthy life continues. Objections from Fukushima officials have dominated the news reports. The Fukushima Prefecture’s government filed a formal complaint which says (in part), “The feelings of the Fukushima people were totally ignored and deeply hurt.” Now, Prime Minister Abe is involved. He said there is not a single case of someone’s health being damaged due to Fukushima exposure and, “There is no confirmation that someone’s health has been directly affected by radioactive substances. There is a need for the state to make all-out efforts to deal with baseless rumors.” http://www.japantoday.com/category/national/view/nosebleeds-food-and-fear-how-a-manga-became-center-of-a-debate-on-fukushima?utm_campaign=jt_newsletter&utm_medium=email&utm_source=jt_newsletter_2014-05-18_AM — http://mainichi.jp/english/english/newsselect/news/20140518p2g00m0fp005000c.html The final episode of the comic series was issued today, May 19th. The publisher announced that the series will be suspended and a special story will highlight the many criticisms of the manga. The publisher said the uproar caused by the story is not the reason for the suspension. Rather, it says the cessation of the comic had been planned from the start. The last issue includes the views of 13 “experts” from both the positive and negative camps. Chief editor Hiroshi Murayama said, “We take criticisms and the severe dressing-down seriously, and we will review the depictions in the series.” http://jen.jiji.com/jc/eng?g=eco&k=2014051900483
- PM Abe says that results of medical surveys with Fukushima residents show no differences compared to other prefectures. During a visit to a Fukushima Medical University on Saturday, he said, “I would like to disseminate this accurate information in a manner that helps people understand easily. [The central government] bears responsibility for ensuring the health of Fukushima Prefecture citizens and children.” He also stressed the Tokyo will do its utmost to wipe out unfounded rumors. http://jen.jiji.com/jc/eng?g=eco&k=2014051700279
- The Fukushima government says all local fruits and vegetables were below government limits for fiscal 2013. It is the first such result since they began testing agricultural and marine products for radioactive Cesium in fiscal 2011. All samples of milk, meat and eggs were below the national standard for the second year in a row. In addition, the Health Ministry has reduced the number of items required for pre-marketplace testing from 98 down to 65. An official said, “We are seeing a lot of food in which radioactive cesium is not detected. We determined that a review was necessary to facilitate effective testing.” However, the prefecture’s list of 461 items being tested has remained unchanged. Regardless, Fukushima growers are dissatisfied with the health Ministry because “The central government’s perception is very different from that in the field. The effects of unfounded rumors are still strongly rooted.” An official with the Shin Fukushima chapter of the Japan Agricultural Cooperatives (JA) group said, “It is inconceivable to say we have a choice of not conducting the testing just because radioactive substances have not been detected.” On the issue of how long will the testing of foodstuffs continue, a Fukushima agricultural union official said, “Sometimes I wonder just how long we have to continue [conducting the monitoring]. We need to carry out the testing at least until the stage in which trouble at the nuclear plant, including the contaminated water issue, does not occur at all.” http://www.fukushimaminponews.com/news.html?id=346
- This past week’s compensation pay-outs to Fukushima evacuees has raised the total, to date, to more than $38 billion spread uniformly among the 85,000 mandated evacuees. http://www.tepco.co.jp/en/comp/images/jisseki-e.pdf
Numerous lawsuits against Tokyo and Tepco are pending. The common thread is the pain of a “loss of homeland” which money cannot assuage. The first suit was filed in December of 2012, and at least seventeen have been submitted since. All interviewed plaintiffs say the money they receive is not enough. One said, “There is so much sadness and suffering that only someone who has been driven from their homeland can understand.The current compensation system, in which the perpetrators of the damage assess the victims’ needs, fails in trying to understand the suffering. That’s why I decided to seek a court decision.” Tsuguo Hirota, an attorney for some who filed suit, defines the loss of one’s homeland as “the destruction of irreplaceable assets, such as nature and communities, as well as unique culture and traditions that people have created and built.” He continued that this is a type of damage that has never been seen in pollution and lung disease lawsuits. http://mainichi.jp/english/english/newsselect/news/20140519p2a00m0na010000c.html (Comment – The news reports continually post the $1,000 per month each evacuee gets for mental anguish, but universally fail to mention the other generous pay-outs each evacuee receives.)