Sunday, August 5, 2012

The Environment in Japan

"Flooding, mudslides kill at least 26 in Japan" July 16, 2012

TOKYO — Thousands of people in southern Japan ­remained cut off Sunday by floods and mudslides ­triggered by torrential rains that have killed at least 26 people, local authorities said.

Evacuation orders issued a day earlier for a quarter of a million people were lifted in most areas Sunday as the rains subsided, allowing many to return home.

But thousands remained cut off by landslides or fallen trees that blocked roads in mountainous areas.

More than 3,000 people were left stranded in Yame, in Fukuoka Prefecture in southwestern Japan, where roads were cut off to seven districts, the Kyodo news agency reported, citing local authorities.

The Japanese military airlifted food by helicopters to stranded districts.

Local officials raised the death toll from the torrential rains in the northern parts of the Kyushu region to 26 and six people remain missing in Kumamoto, Oita, and Fukuoka prefectures, Kyodo reported.

Most of the victims were in their 70s and 80s.

In Yame, a 70-year-old man was killed after being caught in a landslide, while another died in Yanagawa, also in Fukuoka, after being retrieved from a car at an irrigation channel floodgate, according to local authorities, Kyodo reported.

In Kyoto Prefecture, in western Japan, heavy rainfall of up to 3.5 inches per hour flooded around 100 houses each in Kameoka and Kyoto, Japan’s old capital, Kyodo reported.

Sections of high-speed mainline rail service on the main southern island of Kyushu were suspended at the height of the storm, and local lines stopped running, according to the website of Kyushu Railway Co.

The Japan Meteorological Agency said that the worst was over, but it predicted more rain and thunderstorms in some areas through Monday.


Related: Thousands flee Japan’s floods

"Japan’s deadly rains, flooding subside" Associated Press, July 17, 2012

TOKYO — Most of the quarter-million people who fled massive flooding in southwest Japan were able to return home by Monday, but the danger had not fully passed from record rains that have killed at least 28 people.

Thousands of homes and hundreds of roads were damaged, and hundreds of landslides were reported. The military airlifted food by helicopter to stranded districts.

The rain ‘‘was like a waterfall,’’ Yoko Yoshika said in Yamaguchi prefecture. ‘‘It was horrible.’’ Yoshika, wife of an award-winning Hagi-yaki style potter, said workers used a bucket relay with plastic pails to get rid of the water flowing into their shop....


Another disaster not so quickly forgotten:

"Antinuclear protests grow in Japan" Bloomberg News, July 17, 2012

TOKYO — Tens of thousands of people packed Tokyo’s Yoyogi Park on Monday for Japan’s biggest antinuclear rally since the Fukushima disaster last year, as protests grow against government moves to restart atomic reactors.

Speakers at the demonstration, which broke into three marches through Japan’s capital, included Nobel laureate Kenzaburo Oe and musician Ryuichi Sakamoto.

Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda angered nuclear opponents last month when he approved the restart of two reactors at Kansai Electric Power Co.’s Ohi plant, which were shut down along with other units for safety checks after the meltdown and radiation release from the wrecked Fukushima station.

Related: Koreans United Against United States

A Mainichi newspaper poll on June 4 showed as many as 71 percent of Japanese opposed the restart.

When was the last time a government actually listened to its people anyway?

‘‘No to Nuclear Restarts’’ has become the rallying cry of protesters every Friday evening since the end of March in demonstrations outside Noda’s official residence....


So how is Fukushima coming along anyway?

"2 Fukushima nuclear fuel rods removed" by Yuri Kageyama  |  Associated Press, July 19, 2012

TOKYO — A giant crane removed two fuel rods from the damaged Fukushima nuclear plant Wednesday, starting the long and delicate process to reduce the risk of more radiation escaping into the environment.

All of the 1,535 rods in a spent-fuel pool next to reactor No. 4 at the Fukushima Daiichi plant in northeastern Japan must eventually be moved to safer storage — an effort expected to take until the end of next year, according to the government.

The building containing the pool and reactor was destroyed by an explosion following the failure of cooling systems after a massive earthquake and tsunami on March, 11, 2011. The cores of three reactors melted in the world’s second-worst nuclear disaster after Chernobyl.

Fears run deep about the large amounts of radioactive material stored in the pool, which unlike fuel in the cores of the reactors is not protected by thick containment vessels....

According to a worst-case scenario prepared by the government about Fukushima’s conditions, a loss of coolant in the spent-fuel pool at reactor No. 4 could have caused a massive release of radiation and forced millions of people to flee....

A year and a half after the disaster, the pool’s cooling system has been fixed and reinforcements have been built. But Tokyo Electric recently said the wall of the building is bulging, although the pool has not tilted.


Related: Fukushima Failure

Yes, they are still spraying to cool it down because its still spewing. Nothing to worry about, though. My corporate media assures me of that.

"Japan investigates alleged nuclear coverup; Plant suspected of falsifying radiation reports" by Mari Yamaguchi  |  Associated Press, July 23, 2012

TOKYO — Japanese authorities are investigating subcontractors on suspicion that they forced workers at the tsunami-hit nuclear plant to underreport the amount of radiation they were exposed to so they could stay on the job longer.

Labor officials said Sunday that an investigation had begun over the weekend after media reports of a coverup at the Fukushima Daiichi plant, which had multiple meltdowns following the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami disasters.

A subcontractor of plant operator Tokyo Electric Power Co., or TEPCO, acknowledged having nine workers cover their dosimeters with lead plates late last year so the instrument would indicate a lower level of radiation exposure.

The investigation marks the first time the government has looked into the case, believed to be part of a widespread practice at the plant since it was hit by the worst atomic crisis since Chernobyl.
The government more than doubled the emergency radiation exposure limit soon after the accident, but lowered it back to the previous level in December....

The issue reflects a growing concern among the government and TEPCO about how to secure a continuous flow of workers to finish cleaning up the plant. Officials say it will take about 40 years to decommission the plant’s four wrecked reactors — three with melted cores and another with a spent fuel pool in a shattered building....

The environment never changes when it comes to power.  

A study released this month concluded that radiation from the Fukushima nuclear plant may cause as many as 1,300 cancer deaths globally.

That is so woefully low it's beyond comment.

The March 2011 nuclear disaster may cause as many as 2,500 cases of cancer, mostly in Japan, according to the study by scientists at Stanford University.

They incorporated emission estimates into a global atmospheric model to predict the effects of radiation exposure, which was detected as far away as the United States and Europe.

Cancer cases may have been at least 10 times greater if the radiation hadn’t mostly fallen in the sea, said Mark Jacobson, coauthor of the study, the first detailed analysis of the event’s global health effects.  

It was DUMPED IN, it didn't fall in!


Related: Fukushima probe shows new openness in Japan

Japanese are aware of their environment:

"Thousands in Japan protest restarting of reactors" Associated Press, July 30, 2012

TOKYO — Thousands of people formed a human chain around Japan’s Parliament complex Sunday to demand the government abandon nuclear power, the latest in a series of peaceful demonstrations on a scale not seen in the nation for decades.

I think they are trying to make a point.

Also Sunday, voters went to the polls in a closely watched election for governor of southwestern Yamaguchi prefecture, where an outspoken antinuclear candidate was running. Japanese media reported his loss late Sunday, citing exit polls.

The results were encouraging for the antinuclear camp, with a strong showing by Tetsunari Iida (35 percent of the votes, according to the public broadcaster NHK, with 99 percent of the votes counted) in a region considered to be a conservative stronghold.

Protesters said they were angry the government restarted two reactors earlier this month despite safety worries after the multiple meltdowns at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant in March last year. The reactors were the first to return to operation since May, when the last of Japan’s 50 working reactors went offline for routine checks.

Banging on drums and waving balloons and banners, protesters marched from a Tokyo park and lined up along the streets around the Parliament building chanting, ‘‘Saikado hantai,’’ or ‘‘No to restarts,’’ and later lit candles.

‘‘All these people have gotten together and are raising their voices,’’ said Shoji Kitano, 64, a retired math teacher who was wearing a sign that read, ‘‘No to Nukes.’’

Kitano said he had not seen such massive demonstrations since the 1960s. He stressed that ordinary Japanese usually don’t demonstrate, but were outraged over the restarting of nuclear power.

Similar demonstrations have been held outside the prime minister’s residence every Friday evening.


Radiation delivered in a different way:

"Truman’s grandson at Hiroshima event

TOKYO — A grandson of President Truman, who ordered the atomic bombings of Japan during World War II, was in Hiroshima on Saturday to attend a memorial service for the victims. Clifton Truman Daniel visited Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park, laying a wreath for the 140,000 people killed in a Aug. 6, 1945 blast authorized by his grandfather (AP)." 

Related:  Japan remembers Hiroshima

I Hear You, Hiroshima

I can never say sorry enough.  Has it been cleaned up yet?

One who survived: Isuzu Yamada, 95; actress thrived in ‘tough girl’ roles

Also see: Americans re-embrace Japanese cars, lifting sales