• Rural decontamination is complete in more than half of the evacuation zone. Fukushima Prefecture has completed decontamination in six of the 11 municipalities inside the Tokyo-mandated exclusion zone. In addition, it has been finished in 11 of the 36 communities outside the zone. Outside Fukushima Prefecture, the work has been completed in 50 out of 58 communities. Decontamination of all locations is expected to be finished as early as next March. However, the Environment Ministry says that delays are possible because of public opposition to establishing temporary storage sites. http://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/en/news/20160306_15/
  • Tokyo finds setting a cap on evacuee compensation is difficult. The Special Committee on the Nuclear Damage Compensation System is studying whether or not there should be unlimited liability for nuke accidents. Some countries have limited liability, and others do not. All committee members feel that all evacuees must be fully compensated. However, it is difficult to clarify the scope of operator liability. Meiji University’s Kiyoshi Shimizu says the future of Japan’s nuclear businesses may riding on the committee’s decision, especially with Japan’s de-regulation the power retail market. Satoshi Onoda of the Federation of Electric Power Companies advocates limited liability, with the government covering compensation beyond the limit. http://www.jaif.or.jp/en/special-committee-on-the-nuclear-damage-compensation-system-finds-it-difficult-to-set-liability-cap/
  • Science Magazine posts a rather balanced Fukushima 5th anniversary article. It asks “is it safe to live near Fukushima”. While not providing a direct answer, some important information is provided. Perhaps the most significant point is Minamisoma Mayor Katsunobu Sakurai saying, “There has been no education regarding radiation. It’s difficult for many people to make the decision to return without knowing what these radiation levels mean and what is safe.” (Aside – As our regular readers surely know, this has been a continually emphasized by this writer. – End aside) Over-all, the article is well-written, contains few appeals to uncertainty, and (unlike nearly all 5th anniversary articles elsewhere) is unafraid to cite appropriately knowledgeable experts. It even mentions the recent study by Fukushima high school students showing they get no more radiation than the average European student. http://www.sciencemag.org/news/2016/03/five-years-after-meltdown-it-safe-live-near-fukushima?utm_source=sciencemagazine&utm_medium=facebook-text&utm_campaign=fukushimafeature-2703
  • Science Magazine also posted an overview on the Fukushima child thyroid issue. It says the apparently large number of thyroid anomalies detected since the nuke accident, is not unusual for Japan, in general. Using state-of-the-art ultrasound, researchers are finding the rate of anomalies with Fukushima children is not demonstrably different from the rest of the country. T Science also notes that a similar upsurge in the rate of detected anomalies occurred in South Korea 15 years ago, after the use of then-new ultrasound detection was used to screen patients. Seiji Yasumura, vice director of the Fukushima Prefecture Health Management Survey, says the upsurge in detected anomalies is not something to get upset about, but “finding small lesions causes patients anxiety.” He laments that it has caused over-reaction, resulting in Fukushima children having their thyroids surgically removed. Yasumura feels that “careful observation” would have been the better option. http://www.sciencemag.org/news/2016/03/mystery-cancers-are-cropping-children-aftermath-fukushima
  • The recent NRA finding of a “seismic” seam under Shika unit #1 is challenged. Hokuriku Electric, owner of the nuke station, says “it [the NRA finding] is far from convincing” and wants a “compatibility examination” to be run as soon as possible. The company believes that the Shika units all meet Japan’s new regulations and should not be barred from starting. Hokuriku added that if data obtained from its investigations were examined by the NRA, it would conclude that the geologic seam in question is not one “that could possibly become an active fault in the future.” http://www.jaif.or.jp/en/hokuriku-electric-power-voices-objections-to-report-on-crushed-rock-fault-zones-at-shika-npps/
  • Tokyo says 3,400 Miyagi, Iwate and Fukushima Prefecture disaster survivors have died due to prolonged personal disruption. As of last September, the Reconstruction Agency had documented 3.407 disaster-related deaths; more than half in Fukushima. In addition, the agency reported that as of February 12th, nearly 175,000 quake/tsunami refugees remain displaced from their former homes, with over 156,000 in prefabricated temporary housing or apartments rented by the government. Further, more than 43,000 former Fukushima residents now live in other prefectures. http://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/en/news/20160305_20/
  • The international antinuclear “5th anniversary” crusade keeps rolling. The Asahi Shimbun, Japan’s second-largest and perhaps most antinuclear popular Press outlet, reports that nearly 2/3 of Fukushima Prefecture believes “recovery [is] not in sight”. Of course, the percentage of doubters is high, but the fact that this most recent poll shows that attitudes for a small fraction are getting better is barely mentioned. On the other hand, the highly negative responses get heavy focus. For example, the poll shows that 77% disapprove of reactor restarts, which is much higher than the Asahi’s national poll showing 54% disapproval. Next, we have the Japan Times that gives free publicity to Greenpeace’s dire predictions concerning Fukushima’s forests. For example – “Greenpeace said signs of mutations in trees and DNA-damaged worms were beginning to appear, while ‘vast stocks of radiation’ mean that forests cannot be decontaminated. This is immediately followed by citing three pseudo-scientific reports claiming Fukushima-caused mutations in fir trees, butterflies, and worms. But, Greenpeace claims “most of the findings in [them] have never been covered outside of the close circles of academia,” – a clear appeal to those who blindly swallow conspiracy theories. Greenpeace antinuclear writer Kendra Ulrich is quoted as saying that Tokyo and the IAEA are spouting “misleading rhetoric” that Greenpeace counters with “accurate and complete information”. http://ajw.asahi.com/article/0311disaster/recovery/AJ201603040061http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2016/03/04/national/science-health/mutations-dna-damage-seen-fukushima-forests-greenpeace/#.VtmJEZBf0dU
  • More international Press reports on the future trial of three Tepco executives. It seems the Press will go to extremes for new copy, citing impressive-sounding, albeit previously unheard-of sources. Case in point… CNN… citing Miwa Chiwaki, head of the Fukushima Complaints Criminal Prosecution of the Fukushima Nuclear Disaster group, said, “No one took responsibility although an irrevocable nuclear accident happened. Victims were spared and nuclear plant restart has been promoted in this irresponsible society. Clarifying the criminal responsibility of those who caused the accident will lead us to prevent the same tragedy from happening again and create a society to live without fear of death and threat to our health.” (Aside – I’ve Googled and Googled, and can’t find anything about this group. I can’t even find a website for them. CNN has given this person instant credibility, however. Don’t be surprised to see this name again. – End aside) Then there’s Greenpeace Japan talking head Hisayo Takada, who is cited in The Diplomat, “The court proceedings that will now follow should reveal the true extent of TEPCO’s and the Japanese regulatory system’s enormous failure to protect the people of Japan.” http://www.cnn.com/2016/02/29/asia/tepco-bosses-indicted-fukushima/http://thediplomat.com/2016/03/3-tepco-execs-to-face-trial-for-fukushima-nuclear-disaster/