This action might not be possible to undo. Are you sure you want to continue?
BY MIKA OMURA SENIOR STAFF WRITER 2011/09/29 Print Share Article Ikuro Anzai (Yoshiyuki Suzuki) Since the accident at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant, concerns have increased about radiation contamination of food products. With the problem likely to be around for a number of years, Ikuro Anzai, professor emeritus at Ritsumeikan University who specialized in radiation protection, was asked about measures that can be taken. Excerpts of the interview follow: Question: What are your views about the current state of food contamination? Anzai: Sufficient testing is not being conducted. On top of that, beef from cattle that ate rice straw that exceeded government standards was distributed on a national basis. Although the central government said it would not allow food to reach the market if it contained radiation that exceeded provisional standards, concerns are being raised as to whether that promise is being kept. The most important issue right now is that the sense of trust among consumers is being hurt. Q: What do you think about the view that the central government's provisional standards are too weak? A: The fundamental point is to try not to become exposed to radiation. Standards should be made much more strict and lower. However, we have no way of knowing if even the current standards are being kept. While calling for even lower provisional standards, the first step is to force the government to thoroughly stand by the provisional standards. If a sense of trust should develop through such action, we can proceed to the next step of believing that even lower standards will also be protected. Q: What should be done to reduce concerns among consumers? A: The current measurement methods are being conducted according to strict procedures in order to produce accurate figures, but the number of tests is therefore limited. Such tests are important as basic information for conducting scientific debate. However, what consumers are most concerned about is whether the food they eat every day is contaminated with unbelievable levels of radiation. One option may be to place simple measurement devices at public health centers, hospitals, schools and supermarkets to allow those people who are worried to conduct measurements. The measurement time would be limited to three or five minutes. While the accuracy may decrease, people will be able to check for extreme contamination so a considerable level of worry can be resolved. Q: Can such a measure be implemented immediately? A: Radiology departments at hospitals as well as research institutes and specialized institutions at universities working on radiation-related matters should be able to provide some of the equipment
and personnel that they have. There are several thousands of people in Japan who, like me, are specialists in radiation-related subjects. There is a need for such people to make every effort for the sake of society. If measurements are continued over the next year, and especially until spring of next year so we have covered all the seasons, we will be able to understand the trends in contamination. Q: What do you think about the differences among people in how they think about food contamination? A: That is correct. If a 71-year-old grandfather named Ikuro Anzai should eat some food contaminated with radiation and he is told, "You may develop cancer in about 20 years," he will probably die of other factors before then. However, in children cell division is still very active and they are very sensitive. Because they will live much longer, they will also have a greater possibility of being exposed to radiation than adults. I believe parents are deciding to feed their children food that they consider to be more safe. For example, I can understand their feeling, when faced with a choice of spinach grown in Fukushima Prefecture or Ehime Prefecture, to choose the Ehime-made produce. That spinach will undoubtedly have a smaller probability of being contaminated based on the principles of radiation protection. However, there is also the view that if we closed our souls the moment we hear that something was made in Fukushima, that would further upset producers in Fukushima. Q: How should we act? A: People have the freedom of action based on the judgment that they do not want anything that is contaminated with radiation even if the level is under government standards. On the other hand, there is also the freedom of criticizing such acts by saying, "That is an irrational act that only causes producers to suffer." Rather than a coercive method such as fining people who refuse to buy products from disasterstricken areas, what will be important is to recognize those two freedoms as freedoms. On top of that, people should think about what they would do after exchanging opinions with each other. The actual condition of radiation contamination is spreading nationwide in such a manner that will not allow for easy acceptance. I believe everyone should be prepared to face living in a troublesome time.
High cesium levels detected as far away as Gunma Prefecture
BY HISAE SATO STAFF WRITER 2011/09/29 Print Share Article Radioactive cesium from the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant has spread more than 250 kilometers toward the southwest, reaching as far as Gunma Prefecture, the science ministry said. The Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology has been measuring contamination levels in each prefecture in eastern Japan, including Gunma Prefecture from Aug. 23 to Sept. 8 using prefectural government helicopters.
According to the measurements released Sept. 27, most of the radioactive cesium first spread about 60 km northwest from the Fukushima nuclear plant, then changed course and spread to Tochigi Prefecture and further to Gunma Prefecture. A plume of radioactive materials was carried by winds along the mountain range and then fell to the ground, according to ministry officials. In Gunma Prefecture, the largest amount of cesium-137 accumulated in the northern part of the prefecture. Cesium-137's half-life, the period it takes for materials to be reduced by 50 percent, is 30 years. The radioactive accumulation reached a range between 100,000 and 300,000 becquerels per square meter in a mountainous area encompassing the cities of Midori and Kiryu in the eastern part of the prefecture, about 180 km from the Fukushima nuclear plant. Even in areas in the western part of the prefecture, which are located about 250 km from the Fukushima plant and border Nagano Prefecture, the accumulated radioactivity exceeded 30,000 becquerels. In the aftermath of the 1986 nuclear accident in Chernobyl, areas where radioactivity levels exceeded 37,000 becquerels were designated as contamination zones. In mountainous areas of Gunma Prefecture, where accumulated cesium amounts were quite large, the radiation levels were 0.5 to 1.0 microsieverts per hour. In other areas of the prefecture, the radiation levels were less than 0.5 microsieverts. The criterion that requires removal of radioactive materials from schoolyards is more than 1.0 microsieverts. The ministry has released the results of measurements in each prefecture on its Japanese website: http://radioactivity.mext.go.jp/ja/1910/2011/09/1910_092714.pdf.
Ministry sets radiation levels requiring decontamination
BY HARUFUMI MORI STAFF WRITER 2011/09/29 Print Share Article Workers decontaminate soil with high-pressure water nozzles in Minami-Soma in Fukushima Prefecture. (Asahi Shimbun file photo) The Environment Ministry will decontaminate areas with an estimated annual dose of 5 millisieverts or more from the accident at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant, which the government will shoulder as its burden in cleaning up the mess. All the areas recording 5 millisieverts or more are in Fukushima Prefecture and encompass 1,778 square kilometers, or 13 percent of the prefecture's area. Five millisieverts in an annual dose is equivalent to about 1 microsievert per hour based on the assumption that people spend eight hours outdoors and the rest of the time indoors.
The latest standards are translated into an exposure of about 1 microsievert of radiation per hour. The cleanup work is aimed at removing soil up to about 5 centimeters down from the ground surface, a point where cesium is concentrated. The decontamination will also clean up so-called "hot spots" in urban areas where unusually high levels of radioactive substances were measured, such as side ditches and gutters, if the projected annual reading is 1 millisievert or more. The ministry set decontamination standards for hot spots taking into account the impact on the livelihood of residents in the neighborhood. As for cleanup of forests, it has decided to remove radioactive materials by scooping up fallen leaves rather than scraping off the topsoil. The maximum amount of soil, fallen leaves and other debris to be removed under the decontamination plan is set at 29 million cubic meters, the equivalent of 23 Tokyo Domes, according to the ministry's calculation. But critics said no matter how much the government emphasizes the legitimacy of the latest figure, setting the government standards will be meaningless unless municipalities and residents are convinced of their safety. Most of the decontamination operations are expected to get under way next year. The ministry presented results of its estimate for decontamination work to a meeting of experts on Sept. 27. Hisaki Mori, executive managing director at the Radioactive Waste Management and Nuclear Facility Decomissioning Technology Center and one of the experts sitting in the ministry meeting, called for the government to explain its radiation standards to help ease public concern. "The government is accountable (for the standards)," Mori said. The government said in its provisional policy for decontamination released in August that it aims to bring the projected annual dose of radiation to 1 millisievert in the long run. But the environment ministry decided on the 5 millisieverts a year level for now based on a projection that the cleanup operation would not generate a significant effect in areas with a reading of lower radiation levels even if the work was carried out. A senior ministry official said the ministry's conclusion was arrived at weighing the pros and cons of cleanup and labor costs against the predicted results. "It would be ideal to set it at 1 millisievert, but we would not be able to complete decontamination if we insisted on that," the official said. The ministry expects to eventually bring down radiation exposure levels to 1 millisievert in part as some of the radioactive cesium will have a half-life of two years. But such cleanup work will not be done in forests. The environment ministry said instead retrieving fallen leaves and trimming tree branches would suffice, citing a study by the education ministry. Environment ministry officials said that the removal of leaves and branches would reduce the quantity to be eliminated by one-fifth or one-sixth, compared with the amount of soil that would need to be scraped off in the comparable area. Another advantage of ridding leaves and branches instead of soil, the ministry said, is to allow officials to further reduce the volume of tainted materials through incineration. Forests account for about 70 percent of the areas to be covered in the government's decontamination operation.
As for hot spots in urban areas, the government will need to decontaminate about 640 square kilometers in Fukushima and four neighboring prefectures alone. Officials are expected to use high-pressure water nozzles and other methods to clean up those areas. About 400,000 cubic meters of soil are expected to be removed as a result. While the government sets its standards for radiation levels requiring decontamination work, municipalities will likely decide on their own figures. If they seek to carry out cleanup in areas with radiation levels lower than the government standards, they are required to pick up the tab for the decontamination work. Meanwhile, the Fukushima city government announced its decontamination plan on Sept. 27, covering all the 110,000 housing units, schools, parks, roads and public facilities in the city. Its goal is to lower radiation levels in the air to 1 microsievert per hour or lower in all areas where residents live, by the end of fiscal 2012. It will start the work next month, beginning with areas with a reading of about 3 microsieverts per hour.
Government to raise multiple taxes; young DPJ lawmakers upset
2011/09/29 Print Share Article Hirohisa Fujii, chairman of the DPJ tax commission, addresses a meeting on Sept. 27. (Hiroshi Kawai) The government's decision to raise taxes to gain 9.2 trillion yen (about $115 billion) for recovery efforts in the disaster-hit Tohoku region drew continued grumbling from ruling party lawmakers fearing voter backlash in elections. Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda and Democratic Party of Japan Secretary-General Azuma Koshiishi decided to start the tax increase plan as early as fiscal 2012 during a meeting of government and ruling party leaders on Sept. 27. Under the plan, income taxes will be raised starting in January 2013 and continue for 10 years. Higher tobacco taxes will also be maintained for 10 years starting in October 2012, but part of the higher tobacco taxes, which is scheduled to be supplied to local governments, will end after five years. A previous plan to reduce corporate taxes will be frozen for three years from April 2012, according to the government. Hirohisa Fujii, chairman of the DPJ's tax commission, said in its general meeting on Sept. 27 that an increase in the fixed-amount portion of residential taxes paid by individuals will be maintained for five years from June 2014. The delay in starting this tax hike won the approval of party lawmakers who had opposed tax
increases. But opposition to the tax hikes during the DPJ tax commission's general meeting on Sept. 26 was so fierce that the government may be forced to delay the start of the tax increases. Younger DPJ lawmakers remain particularly opposed, given the timing of the plan. In 2013, when the income tax increase will start, the tenures of half of the Upper House lawmakers and all Lower House members will expire. In the following national elections, the DPJ plans to make the consumption tax rate hike one of its campaign pledges. "Considering the schedules of the elections, the tax increases will be unbelievable," a rookie DPJ lawmaker said. "I cannot understand what the government of Prime Minister Noda is thinking." The government and the DPJ plan to gradually raise the consumption tax rate to 10 percent by the mid-2010s as part of sweeping, simultaneous reforms of the tax and social security systems. That means the public will face multiple increased tax burdens in the coming years. The DPJ will start negotiations on the tax plan with opposition parties as early as this week. However, the Liberal Democratic Party and New Komeito are already showing opposition to the tobacco tax hike. The government hopes to reduce the total amount of tax increases by raising more nontax revenues than the scheduled 7 trillion yen. The government's Tax Commission initially planned to obtain 5 trillion yen in nontax revenue. But DPJ policy chief Seiji Maehara said the amount should be raised to 7 trillion yen. The additional 2 trillion yen will include revenue from the two-stage sales of all the governmentowned shares in Japan Tobacco Inc. The DPJ's tax commission also said the party and the government will raise funds by reducing the number of Diet seats and selling dormitories for public servants, state-owned land and assets of government-affiliated organizations. However, the commission did not specify how it intends to carry out these measures. Meanwhile, the government's third supplementary budget of fiscal 2011 totaled 12 trillion yen, larger than about 11 trillion yen decided by the DPJ. It includes funds for recovery efforts of the March 11 Great East Japan Earthquake as well as Typhoon No. 12. The budget will also include a fund worth 350 billion yen for Fukushima Prefecture to deal with the accident at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant, including the budget for removal of soil contaminated by radioactive materials from the plant. Another project under consideration is construction of a medical facility to treat people exposed to radiation. The government plans to use this fund as a "main attraction" of the third supplementary budget plan. The establishment of the fund means allocations for Fukushima Prefecture in the extra budget will total 500 billion yen.
9 月 28 日 18 時 59 分
原発事故で拡散した放射性物質を取り除く除染について、政府は２８日、福島県内の自治 体への説明会 で、年間の被ばく線量が５ミリシーベルト未満の地域については局所的に 線量が高い場所を除いて財政支援は行わないとする方針を明らかにしました。これに対 し、自治体からは地域全体での除染ができなくなるとして反発する声が相次ぎました。 内閣府と環境省が福島市内で開いた説明会には、福島県内の４２の自治体から除染の担当 者が出席しま した。この中で、政府の担当者は、年間の被ばく線量が５ミリシーベルト 以上の地域については、地域全体の除染を国が財政的に支援するとした一方で、１ミリ シーベルト以上５ミリシーベルト未満の地域は、局所的に線量が高い側溝などを除いて現 時点で財政的な支援は行わないと説明しました。自治体によっては、今 後、除染を計画 していた地域が財政支援の対象にならないところが出てくるとみられ、説明会に出席した 自治体からは、「一部分だけの除染では住民が安心して 暮らせない。財政的な裏付けが ないと地域全体の除染を進めることができない」などと、政府の方針に反発する意見が相 次いだということです。政府は２９日以 降、各自治体を回ってこの方針に理解を求めた いとしています。政府の福島除染推進チームの森谷賢チーム長は「国の基本的な考え方は これまでも示してきたつ もりだったが、きょうの反応を聞いて、もっときめ細かく説明 しておけばよかったと思っている。今後、さまざまな事態が起こることが考えられるが、 国として 柔軟に対応していきたい」と話していました。
9 月 29 日 5 時 45 分 東京電力福島第一原子力発電所１号機の配管にたまっていた水素の濃度は、６０％余りと いう高い濃度だったことが分かりました。東京電力は爆発のおそれはないとしていますが、 ２９日、水素を抜き取る作業を行うことにしています。 福島第一原発１号機の格納容器につながる配管では、水素がたまっていることが分かった ため、東京電 力は、２８日、爆発を防ぐため、詳しい濃度の測定を行いました。その結 果、配管の中の水素濃度は６１％から６３％と、全体の３分の２近くを占める高い濃度 だったことが分かりました。この水素は、３月の事故の際、核燃料が損傷したことによっ て発生し、爆発を引き起こしたものの残りだとみられています。配管の 中のあとの３０％ 余りは、事故後に注入された窒素だとみられています。東京電力は、配管の中には酸素が ないことなどから、爆発するおそれはないとみていま すが、２９日、配管から水素を抜 き取る作業を行うことにしています。東京電力は、２号機と３号機についても配管などの 水素濃度を調べるよう国から指示を受 けていて、今後、１号機と同じように調査を行う ことにしています。
9 月 26 日 5 時 49 分 東京電力福島第一原子力発電所１号機で、原子炉の格納容器につながる配管に水素がたまっ ていることが分かったことを受けて、経済産業省の原子力安全・保安院は、２５日夜、２
号機と３号機でも同じように水素がたまっていないか調査するよう、東京電力に指示しま した。 福島第一原発１号機では、格納容器につながる配管に、３月に水素爆発を引き起こしたと 見られる水素 が、今も引き続きたまっていることが分かり、東京電力は近く、詳しい水 素の濃度を測定することにしています。これを受けて、原子力安全・保安院は２５日 夜、 １号機と同じように水素爆発を起こすなどした２号機と３号機でも、同じように水素がた まっているおそれがあるとして、配管などの水素濃度を詳しく調査 するよう東京電力に 指示しました。東京電力は、１号機の配管については、濃度を測定したあと、窒素を送り 込むなどして爆発が起きないようにすることにして いて、２号機と３号機でも水素がた まっていることが分かれば、同様の対策がとられる見通しです。 ・１号機水素 ６０％超の高濃度 ［関連ﾆｭｰｽ］ ・１号機配管 水素濃度を調査へ 自動検索 ・１号機の配管に高濃度の水素 High hydrogen levels in pipes at No.1 reactor The operator of the crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant says that high densities of hydrogen have built up in pipes connected to the No. 1 reactor. Tokyo Electric Power Company says that an explosion is unlikely as there is no oxygen in the pipes, but that it will begin work to drain the gas starting on Thursday. TEPCO began measuring the density of the gas on Wednesday after finding it accumulating in pipes connected to the reactor's containment vessel late last week. It found that the density of hydrogen was high, at between 61 to 63 percent. TEPCO says the hydrogen is likely the remains of gas that caused explosions at the plant in March, following the quake and tsunami disaster. The utility has also promised to check the density of hydrogen in pipes in the No. 2 and No. 3 reactors, in line with instructions from Japan's nuclear safety agency. Thursday, September 29, 2011 08:06 +0900 (JST) ↑↑↑ yesterday’s news: 3 Fukushima reactors cooled below 100 degrees The temperature of another troubled reactor at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant has fallen below 100 degrees Celsius for the first time since the nuclear disaster in March. Tokyo Electric Power Company or TEPCO says the temperature in the lower area of the Number 2 reactor stood at 99.4 degrees at 5 PM on Wednesday. Temperatures at the Number 1 and 3 reactors have been maintained below 100 degrees Celsius since August. The utility says its cooling efforts have achieved results although it is too early to say that it has attained a state of cold shutdown for all 3 troubled reactors.
Cold shutdown is a state where temperatures below 100 Celsius are sustained and the situation remains stable. The utility now says it is important to ensure a reliable cooling system to achieve cold shutdown. Wednesday, September 28, 2011 20:23 +0900 (JST)
Fukushima nuclear plant moves closer to 'cold shutdown'
In this June 1, 2011 file photo released by Tokyo Electric Power Co. (TEPCO), workers inspect equipment inside the cesium absorption tower, part of the radioactive water processing facilities at the Fukushima No. 1 Nuclear Power Plant in Okuma, Fukushima Prefecture. (AP Photo/TEPCO) TOKYO (Kyodo) -- Tokyo Electric Power Co. said Wednesday all three crippled reactors at its Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant have met a key condition in achieving a stable state known as "cold shutdown." The utility made the announcement after the temperature reading at the base of the No. 2 reactor pressure vessel at the plant, which has been crippled since the March 11 earthquake and tsunami, fell below 100 C. Bringing the temperature at the base of each vessel to below 100 C is a key condition for achieving a cold shutdown of the plant. The Nos. 1 and 3 reactor vessels are already below 80 C.
In this June 12, 2011 photo released on July 5, 2011, by Tokyo Electric Power Co., masked workers in protective outfits prepare to drop a sliding concrete slab into a slit of the upper part of the sluice screen for the Unit 2 reactor at the tsunami-crippled Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant in Okuma, Fukushima Prefecture, northeastern Japan, in their effort to decrease the leaking of
radiation contaminated water into the ocean. (AP Photo/Tokyo Electric Power Co.) As of 5 p.m., the base of the No. 2 reactor vessel was at 99.4 C, the utility known as TEPCO said. The government and TEPCO believe that the other condition -- reducing the leakage of radioactive substances from the plant -- is also about to be met. According to the road map for containing the nuclear crisis, efforts are currently at the "step 2" phase aimed at achieving a cold shutdown. To step up restoration efforts, TEPCO has adopted a method of showering water onto the Nos. 2 and 3 reactor cores.
Tokyo Electric Power Co. (TEPCO) begins a trial run of a contaminated water treatment system, developed by France's Areva SA, on June 15. (Photo courtesy of TEPCO) The radiation level around the plant site has fallen to 0.4 millisievert per year, lower than the government-set reference limit of 1 millisievert. Though the figures indicate that the plant has achieved a cold shutdown, it is "somewhat too early" to make such a judgment as the radiation readings have yet to be confirmed, TEPCO spokesman Junichi Matsumoto said at a press conference. (Mainichi Japan) September 29, 2011
This action might not be possible to undo. Are you sure you want to continue?
We've moved you to where you read on your other device.
Get the full title to continue reading from where you left off, or restart the preview.