• A recent study concludes that Japan’s Fukushima doses are less than natural background exposures. This important scientific finding comes from a paper published through the Society for Radiological Protection, entitled “An assessment of the doses received by members of the public in Japan following the nuclear accident at Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant”. Specifically, the report says, “It is evident that the estimates of dose typically received by members of the public who are representative of the populations, across the majority of Japan and neighboring countries, were very low. For example they were estimated to be less than the annual average dose from natural background radiation in Japan. Even in the regions local to Fukushima Daiichi NPP (and not affected by any form of evacuation) the maximum lifetime effective dose was estimated to be well below the cumulative natural background dose over the same period.” The team analyzed all reputable data from just about every imaginable perspective. While the initial intent of the work was to codify modeling based on meteorological patterning, the exposure-related conclusions are significant for every person in Japan! This needs to be widely disseminated. Bedwell, Mortimer, et. al.; An assessment of the doses received by members of the public in Japan following the nuclear accident at Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant; Journal of Radiological Protection, No. 35; ppg.869–890, November 26, 2015.
  • Only 0.046% of Fukushima’s 2015 seafood exceeded the radioactive Cesium limit. Of the 8,577 samples tested in 2015, only four were found to have greater than 100 Becquerels of Cesium per kilogram. This is the second consecutive year of a less than one percent failure. Last year, 75 out of 8,722 specimens were above the standard (0.9%); the first year below 1% since 2011. Some 180 species were tested in 2015. The prefecture says the drop-off by a factor of nearly 1,000 is since 2011 in due to several reasons: radioactive decay of Cs-134 (~2 year half-life), the significant reduction of contaminated waters entering the Pacific Ocean since 2011, and the “generational changes” in the tested species. http://www.fukushimaminponews.com/news.html?id=618
  • Twenty-seven percent of Fukushima’s school lunch foods come from the prefecture. This is a 5.4% increase since 2014. The percentage is nearing the 30% mark recorded before March, 2011. The survey is run by the prefectural education board. The prefecture has been trying to make residents aware of the safety of Fukushima-produced foods by posting their annual data and having parents try the foods being provided to their children. The board feels their efforts have allowed parents to understand the safety and wholesomeness of Fukushima rice, vegetables, and other ingredients in school lunches. http://www.fukushimaminponews.com/news.html?id=617
  • Some Japanese utilities reconsider earthquake-absorbing buildings for emergency response. Now they are looking at earthquake resistant structures. The possible shift could affect 16 units at seven nuclear stations. All of the units have been submitted for restart screenings. The Takahama and Ikata units presently approved for restarts in 2016 have committed to earthquake-resistant structures, after first planning on absorbing buildings. At issue is the lack of response data on quake-resistant technology. The emergency response center used during the accident at F. Daiichi is quake-absorbing, and experienced no tremor damage. However, there is question as to whether an absorbing building will return to its original shape after a major quake and be able to withstand major aftershocks. Quake-absorber buildings were not designed for quakes worse than design basis. The singular experience at F. Daiichi is insufficient to make a sweeping judgement. The regulations say emergency response facilities should “be built in such a way as to prevent their functions from being lost to the biggest assumed earthquake through quake-absorbing and other means.” Some critics say the move to quake-resistance structures is merely a cost-saving measure. NRA chairman Shunichi Tanaka responded, “If the move is for saving money, we will inspect it severely,” and that both types are acceptable if they meet the required criteria. http://mainichi.jp/english/articles/20160119/p2a/00m/0na/012000c
  • A former Tepco executive starts a Minamisoma tomato farm. Eiju Hangai is president of Minami-Soma Fukko Agri KK and hopes the farm will help ease local struggles. He said, “We aim to offer not only job opportunities in the agricultural sector, but also train people for future managers in the industry.” He and other local businessmen have invested over $9 million in a 2.4 hectare property to raise tomatoes. More than 70% of the total comes from a Tokyo grant to help local businesses. Mayor Katsunobu Sakurai comes from a farming family and said, “Since I started in agriculture myself, I am fully aware of the frustration of farmers who could no longer do their work. I would like you to channel your frustration into hope and take pride in working in an industry that protects life.” The company employees fifty people, hopes to begin shipment of greenhouse-grown produce in early March, and sell up to 660 tons per year. http://ajw.asahi.com/article/0311disaster/recovery/AJ201601210044