• The latest Fukushima information on child thyroid cancers. Fukushima Minpo emphasizes that the February 15th release of current FMU results shows that one new cancer diagnosis was found since the last data release on September 30th. This brings the grand total since the program began in 2011, to 116. Hokuto Hoshi, who chairs the Fukushima Health Committee, reiterated that radiation exposure from the nuclear disaster is “unlikely to have caused any direct effect” on the local incidence of thyroid cancer. In addition, the committee announced that the rate of Fukushima’s babies born with congenital defects was 2.3%; significantly less than the 3-5% rate considered typical across Japan. http://www.fukushimaminponews.com/news.html?id=632
  • Takahama unit #4 restarted on Friday, and SCRAMed on Monday. The automatic shutdown occurred due to a problem in the unit’s electrical generator just as the first trickle of power was about to be produced. The incident posed no safety problem with the reactor or release of radioactivity. Regardless, the Japanese Press’ unbridled fixation on MOX fuel continued. Over the weekend, all of the major Japanese news outlets made sure to mention that the unit is running on Mixed Oxide fuel (recycled), although only four of the 157 bundles in the core are MOX! Meanwhile, Takahama unit #3’s full commercial operation, announced 37 minutes before unit #3 start-up, was largely ignored. http://the-japan-news.com/news/article/0002775073http://jen.jiji.com/jc/eng?g=eco&k=2016022900677http://english.kyodonews.jp/news/2016/02/399513.html
  • Two British Columbia newspapers report the “no Fukushima radiation” announcement we covered February 25th. The BC edition of the national Globe and Mail cites Fukushima InFORM’s Jay Cullen extensively. One quote is most definitive, “Because no c-134 was detected in these fish, it is not possible to say whether detectable cesium-137 can be attributed to Fukushima contamination.”  He adds that the detectible levels of the isotope in off-shore seawater is not hazardous, “It’s thousands of times below the maximum allowable [level] of cesium in our drinking water. It’s still a very trace level. In order for us to detect it, we have to use the most sensitive techniques that we have.” The Vancouver Sun posts another Cullen quote, “While we expect the contamination in fish to increase … we don’t expect those levels to approach levels that will be a danger to human health.” http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/british-columbia/radiation-from-fukushima-nuclear-disaster-not-found-in-bc-salmon/article28846578/http://www.vancouversun.com/news/radiation+from+japan+fukushima+disaster+found+fish/11737813/story.html (Comment – These are the only two news reports we have found on the InFORM announcement. The Popular Press inside and outside Japan obviously do not find it to be “newsworthy”.)
  • Jay Cullen, head of Fukushima InFORM spoke at Bucknell University on February 18th. He explained Fukushima InFORM, the group’s findings, and his experiences with conspiracy theorists. Cullen stated the reason for creating Fukushima InFORM, “The measurements that [the Canadian government] were taking and the monitoring they were doing was very good, but the outreach and communication were very poor.” After focusing on the levels of Fukushima contamination his group has found (or rather, the lack of it), he addressed the problems created by conspiracy theorists, which he has personally experienced. Cullen believes these people generally reject scientific data, have limited scientific literacy, and distrust their government. He added, “Many people don’t understand what radioactivity is … or how it happens … they don’t understand what academics do, how we’re compensated, how we spend our time.” Regardless, Cullen says the job of getting scientific understanding correct data into the mainstream of the public is critically important, “No matter what topic you’re working on, communicating with the public is fundamentally important … our duty as scientists is to communicate the results of research in a way that is useful and improves understanding.” http://bucknellian.net/61399/news/visiting-professor-discusses-radiation-communication-and-conspiracy/
  • A Fukushima medical team finds no internal exposures greater than 1 millisievert per year. The study was run by Jyoban Hospital’s Tokawakai Group in Iwaki City. Hospital head Hiroaki Shinmura, group adviser Shigeaki Kato, and Masaharu Tsubokura of Minamisoma Municipal General Hospital, presented their findings at a February 15th Press conference. Dr. Shinmura reported that the probability of negative health effects from this miniscule level of exposure is “extremely low”. http://www.fukushimaminponews.com/news.html?id=633 (Comment – Once again, Fukushima Minpo is the only news outlet in Japan to report this good news. Minpo is only circulated in Fukushima Prefecture.)
  • Japan’s largest newspaper says Japan’s 40-year licensing limit is “nonscientific”. The Yomiuri Shimbun says, “The rule that permits reactors to operate for no more than 40 years since they started has no scientific basis. The nuclear reactor regulation law should be reviewed again.” The newspaper also points out that the Mihama unit #3 will pass the 40-year limit in November, and the Nuclear Regulation Authority is literally scrambling to process owner Kansai Electric’s submittal for a licensing extension. The Yomiuri added that the review of license extensions, in addition to all other restart requirements, has stretched the NRA’s staff to its limit. If only the relative safety of the middle-aged units being judged, the licensing reviews would take no longer than those for restart. But, that is not the case because of Japan’s arbitrary 40-year operating rule. The Yomiuri argues that the extension of licensing should occur once the safety nukes is confirmed. http://the-japan-news.com/news/article/0002771643
  • Photos of terrible “radiation effects” on Pacific Ocean sea life are false. Snopes.com, a popular site for debunking urban legends, has posted an expose’ on the deceitful practice of finding frightening pictures of sick and diseased Pacific wildlife and blaming them on the nuke accident. The main focus of the posting is a devious piece published by Superstation 95 last October. Snopes says it “…used half-truths, misleading statistics, and unrelated photos in order to convince its readers that they had been ingesting radioactive seafood.” The Superstation 95 photos have been used recently by fear-mongering fanatics on social media sites to supplement negative Fukushima 5th anniversary reports.  Most of the pictures were actually taken years before the nuke accident happened. http://www.snopes.com/fukushima-radiation-marine-photos/
  • Three ex-Tepco executives have been indicted for the nuke accident. Court-appointed lawyers in Tokyo accused Tsunehisa Katsumata, Sakae Muto, and Ichiro Takekuro as being professionally negligent. They allegedly ignored evidence which showed a tsunami that would engulf F. Daiichi was predictable enough to upgrade safety measures. The indictment says their disregard supposedly caused the deaths of more than a dozen elderly patients during the evacuation of a Futaba hospital. The case was originally heard by Tokyo prosecutors in 2013, and charges were dropped because prosecutors said the tsunami could not have been foreseen. However, a panel of citizens voted to indict them last July. Trials are not expected to begin before the end of the year. The main point of contention in the trial concerns whether or not a 2008 prediction of the massive tsunami was enough to make Tepco upgrade protective measures.  http://the-japan-news.com/news/article/0002780607http://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/en/news/20160226_23/
  • Former PM Noto Kan goes to sea with Greenpeace. As the group’s flagship, Rainbow Warrior, set to sea, former PM Kan was part of the crew. Before embarking, he said, “I once believed Japan’s advanced technology would prevent a nuclear accident like Chernobyl from happening in Japan. But it did not, and I was faced with the very real crisis of having to evacuate about 50 million people at risk from the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear accident. I have since changed my mind. We do not need to take such a big risk. Instead we should shift to safer and cheaper renewable energy with potential business opportunities for our future generations.” Shaun Burnie of Greenpeace Germany explains the reason for the excursion, “There is an urgent need to understand the impacts this contamination is having on the ocean, how radioactivity is both dispersing and concentrating and its implications. TEPCO failed to prevent a multiple reactor meltdown, and five years later it’s still an ongoing disaster. It has no credible solution to the water crisis they created and is failing to prevent the further contamination of the Pacific Ocean.” This is the 25th sea-going investigation by Greenpeace since March 2011. http://peakoil.com/enviroment/greenpeace-surveys-fukushima