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 JAPAN's radiation EXPOsure

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Nombre de messages : 429
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Date d'inscription : 23/09/2009

JAPAN's radiation EXPOsure Empty
MessageSujet: JAPAN's radiation EXPOsure   JAPAN's radiation EXPOsure EmptySam 02 Juil 2011, 9:49 am

En ce Week-End de fête du manga et de la culture japonaise au parc des expositions près de Paris, n'oublions pas que les radiations durent plus longtemps que les unes des journaux!

Le dénommé Alex a fait un compte rendu régulier (en anglais) sur la catastrophe de Fukushima.

L'un de ses derniers messages, cette fois en français. Un homme énervé:

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Nombre de messages : 429
Age : 47
Localisation : Ile de France
Langue : Français
Emploi/loisirs : Enseignant
Date d'inscription : 23/09/2009

JAPAN's radiation EXPOsure Empty
MessageSujet: Re: JAPAN's radiation EXPOsure   JAPAN's radiation EXPOsure EmptySam 02 Juil 2011, 10:22 am

Il faut reconnaitre que lorsque dans les journaux de la semaine on peut lire des articles de ce genre, cela doit conditionner la manière dont on perçoit les choses: a écrit:
Sunday, June 26, 2011

JAPAN's radiation EXPOsure Fl201111
Boxing clever: Staff at a Chiba Prefecture depot of the Daichi wo Mamoru Kai mail-order food-delivery company carry out a radiation check on vegetables. TOMOKO OTAKE PHOTO


Irradiated food poses moral dilemmas

Staff writer

Mail-order food-delivery companies and cooperatives have long been among the leading campaigners for — and custodians of — food safety in Japan.

Although they are small in scale compared with major supermarket chains, since they first began to appear in the 1960s and '70s these groupings have garnered a loyal community of health-conscious and ecologically minded consumers who, as members, order food from them through catalogues every week.

To differing degrees, these organizations have also championed the idea that, by building and fostering long-term relationships with farmers and other food producers, they can not only deliver safer, organic food to people, but also institute social change by facilitating direct exchange between suppliers and consumers and taking joint action on wider related issues such as the environment and the government's policies on food.

Daichi wo Mamoru Kai, a Chiba-based company founded by Kazuyoshi Fujita, is a prime example. Fujita, a 64-year-old former student radical, founded the organic food delivery business in 1975 after realizing, he says, that putting one pesticide-free, safe radish on the market is more pressing than chanting anti-government slogans or staging peace demonstrations on the streets.

At the time of the group's launch, Japan was just beginning to face the consequences of its hurried economic recovery from the ruins of World War II, with widespread air and water pollution from industrial complexes causing mercury poisoning, asthma and other health problems. Even so, Daichi's message took time to gain traction.

"When we started our organic farming movement, very few farmers were interested, and even our consumers were in the minority, like mothers with children with atopic dermatitis," Fujita recalled recently at Daichi's office in Roppongi, Tokyo, where the lights were off and the windows were wide open to let air in. "To grow things organically is easier said than done. You have to keep bending down to manually pick out weeds, and deal with insects. ... We have cleared these issues (with farmers) step by step."

Now, in the wake of March 11's triple disasters — the Great Eastern Japan Earthquake and tsunami, and then the nuclear meltdowns at the Fukushima No.1 nuclear power plant — these guardians of safe food in Japan are torn between supporting their longtime partners in the farming/fishing sectors in the afflicted regions of Tohoku and northern Kanto, and their consumers, who expect them to offer radiation-free, or minimally irradiated food.

The harsh reality is, however, that no food distributors have been able to provide food from these regions labeled "radiation-free." In fact, even the most environmentally conscious, anti-nuclear-power food providers have had no option but to go along with the government-stipulated safety limits, set at the end of March, of 2,000 becquerels/kg of iodine-131 for vegetables and fish, and 500 becquerels/kg of cesium-134 and cesium-137 combined for vegetables, meat, fish and eggs — levels that a wide variety of domestic produce now no longer exceeds. Prior to March 11, there were no such government standards for domestic produce.

However, if Daichi and similar distributors were to cease patronizing their many suppliers affected by the disasters, they would lose their source of income from tomorrow.

"A lot of our suppliers happened to be concentrated in the Tohoku region, and one of our mushroom growers in Minami-Sanriku (in Miyagi Prefecture) was actually killed by the tsunami," he said. "There were many others whose homes, fishing boats and processing plants were washed away. Our biggest issue since the disaster has been how to support these people."

After the disasters, Daichi lost no time in appealing to its 100,000 members to donate money to its suppliers affected by the magnitude-9 megaquake and tsunami. It has raised ¥90 million so far, and the money keeps flowing in.

In contrast, another attempt by the group to help those farmers — by starting to market a range of vegetables grown in Fukushima and the surrounding Ibaraki and Gunma prefectures — has met with mixed reactions.

Fujita said that the company currently sells about 2,000 of these "Cheer Up by Eating" units every week to mostly elderly customers who buy the produce "out of feelings of gratitude for providing them with safe, organic food over the years."

But his office has also been bombarded with "cries for help" from customers with completely different sentiments. These callers — who numbered up to 2,000 a day after cesium levels twice the safety limit for infants were detected at a water-treatment plant in Tokyo in late March — were mostly young mothers with small children, he said, and they were skeptical of safety assurances from the government and demanding that Daichi provide less-irradiated food.

"Many of them said they would stop buying from us if we sold veggies containing ones from Fukushima and northern Kanto," Fujita said. "Others were anxious whether we could deliver mineral water, whether we were testing the veggies for radiation, and if they could really trust what the government says."

Part of the moral dilemma facing Fujita's group and others in the field stems from the fact that radiation contamination, unlike other food-safety threats such as pesticides or additives, is something that farmers and fishermen play absolutely no part in introducing to their products.

Another group in the same predicament is Seikatsu Club, a co-op that serves 350,000 households in Hokkaido and the Tohoku, Kanto, Chubu and Kinki regions, and has dealt in low-pesticide, additive-free, non-genetically-modified — and less-irradiated — food for decades. Due to the ongoing Fukushima nuclear disaster, however, it has declared a "state of emergency" and on April 12 suspended its previous self-imposed 37 becquerel-per-kg limit for cesium in its produce.

That limit had been set by Seikatsu Club following the 1986 Chernobyl accident which, despite occurring 8,000 km away from Japan, led to radioactive particles coming to earth here. Fortunately, though, that year only one tea product from Mie Prefecture was found to exceed the cesium limit, forcing it to be withdrawn from sale to the co-op's members. The following year, when it passed all the checks, it was put back on sale by the group.

The reasoning for the 37-becquerel threshold was more psychological than academic, officials acknowledge, saying it was in response to a government decision back then to impose a safety limit for cesium of 370 becquerels per kg for imported foods.

But this time around, because of the scale of the radiation leaks, it is practically impossible for the group to adhere to the same logic and impose a threshold 10 times tougher than the government's, said Akira Ishii, an official of Seikatsu Club.

As a result of it abandoning its 37-becquerel limit, though, the group soon faced a barrage of angry calls and petitions from its members, some of whom voiced disappointment at its change of policy and canceled their membership.

However, Ishii, said it is just not realistic for the group to keep the old standard, as it is not able to compensate the huge numbers of farmers who would be affected.

"It's totally understandable for consumers to turn to us, looking for radiation-free food," Ishii said. "But the truth of the matter is that there is no Noah's Ark (to take people away from all this)."

Ishii also voiced fears that much of the nation's primary industry could be obliterated if the farmers and fishermen in the Tohoku and northern Kanto regions have safety standards imposed on their produce that are beyond their power to achieve.

Nonetheless, amid mounting consumer concerns, food distributors are beefing up independent testing of their produce and are spending millions of yen on dosimeters and advanced equipment that minutely analyzes radiation levels in food.

But even with such devices, some of which cost more than ¥15 million, their tests will for the time being be restricted to measuring levels of radioactive cesium and iodine. That's because to test for contamination by radioactive strontium-90, uranium and plutonium requires a high level of training and technique, and even government agencies don't have enough trained personnel for the task, said Yoshiaki Uchida, another Daichi official who is in charge of quality assurance at its distribution center in Narashino, Chiba Prefecture.

Since early May, Daichi has been screening all of its food for radioactive iodine and cesium at the center. So far, none has exceeded the limits set by the government, he said.

In addition, now that more than three months have passed since explosions at the Fukushima nuclear plant released radioactivity into the air, and as the levels of radiation have declined for many food items from Fukushima and neighboring prefectures, the government should lower the threshold in order to make consumers feel safer about food, said Fumiyo Mihara, an official of Palsystem, a food-distribution cooperative with more than 600,000 active users.

Like Daichi and Seikatsu Club, she said that by the winter the co-op will also have bought radiation monitors and will have begun to check its food.

Earlier this month Daichi also started selling a range of mostly organic vegetables grown exclusively in western Japan. Despite the relatively high price — ¥2,180 for six or seven items (including a ¥100 donation to the farmers) — the vegetable set is exceedingly popular and is now selling 2,000 units each week. Daichi now has plans to increase the supply of these sets to 3,000 units or more in the coming weeks.

"Wanting to protect farmers and not eating their food might appear contradictory, but it is natural among consumers in the same country to feel this way," Fujita said. "We are going through a lot of wavering as we make our decisions."
Sunday, June 26, 2011

JAPAN's radiation EXPOsure Fl201110


Experts urge great caution over radiation risks

Staff writer

In order to address public concerns over post 3/11 food safety, the government should be more forthcoming in the monitoring and disclosure of data regarding radiation contamination of soil, Akira Sugenoya, mayor of Matsumoto City, Nagano Prefecture, told this reporter recently.

Sugenoya, a medical doctor, speaks from experience, having spent 5½ years from 1996 in the Republic of Belarus treating children with thyroid cancer. He was there because the incidence of that disease in children surged after the Chernobyl disaster in neighboring Ukraine in 1986. In that April 26 event, which involved an explosion and a fire at the nuclear power plant there, large amounts of radioactive substances were released into the atmosphere.

Consequently, due to his unique experience, Sugenoya — who has held his position as mayor since 2004 — was asked by Japan's Food Safety Commission to share his opinion as an expert at a series of meetings convened in late March to set emergency radiation limits for domestic food.

Commenting on these to the JT, Sugenoya said it is his understanding that the current limits set by the commission (see table) are "relatively stringent" by international standards.

However, he added that infants, children up to the age of 14 and pregnant and breastfeeding women should avoid eating food contaminated with even the small doses of radiation. In fact he said that adults should leave safer food for these more at-risk segments of the population even if it means they will eat contaminated food themselves.

Sugenoya also pointed out that what is fueling people's concerns in particular is the slow disclosure of soil contamination data, despite the fact that it is only through such data that it becomes clear where, and even whether, safe vegetables can be grown. Instead, he said, the government has been occupied only with monitoring radiation levels in the air.

"I think some municipal governments have only recently begun to release soil data in response to mounting calls from the public," he said. "But the central government should have taken the initiative to release them much earlier ... . What the central government must do now is release all data, no matter how bad, because if it doesn't it can only add to people's suspicions that it is manipulating information.

"So many people in Japan are now saying that they can't trust their own government."

Adding to such concerns are the views of Richard Broinowski, a former Australian diplomat who is now adjunct professor at the University of Sydney. In response to recent emailed questions from the JT, Broinowski — who is currently writing a book about the Tohoku disasters — said he doubts whether the Japanese authorities have done the most thorough research into the irradiation of food.

Specifically, he said, "What I am anxious to know is: Are qualified Japanese epidemiologists and public health experts (that is, those not in the pay of the nuclear industry) undertaking objective and impartial research into how deeply and to what intensity, radiation dispersal of cesium-137, strontium-90, iodine-131, noble gases and plutonium-239 ... has spread, and how much the general population of the Tohoku region and other regions of Japan have been exposed?"

He added: "I also suspect that full disclosure of such data is not in the interests of the Japanese nuclear industry." a écrit:
Friday, July 1, 2011

Radioactive debris dilemma unresolved, growing worse
No grand plan; hot spots spread; schools just hide dangerous soil

Staff writer

Second of two parts

JAPAN's radiation EXPOsure Nn201110
Survivor: A man climbs over tsunami debris March 15, in Soma, Fukushima Prefecture, four days after the quake. AP PHOTO

The government's master plan to restore the quake-hit region includes moving housing from the coastline to higher ground, creating "eco-towns" that rely on reusable energy and "making Tohoku better than what it was before the disaster."

The goals are ambitious.

But the long road to recovery remains stuck at square one, with the government unable to decide how to handle the rubble and radioactive debris that still plague much of the region, not to mention the radioactive waste that is being found far outside of Fukushima.

"This is an issue that affects the safety of the public and calls for a certain amount of thorough examination," Chief Cabinet Secretary Yukio Edano said last month.

More than three months after the quake and tsunami, the Environment Ministry on June 19 finally released a guideline for managing radioactive debris and waste. It included the terms "for the time being," and "undecided."

Specific measures and locations to handle radioactive waste haven't been settled yet, leaving local governments in Fukushima and other parts of Japan stuck with piles of hazardous waste that exceed the government-set level of acceptable radioactivity.

"This is not something that the central government can unilaterally decide and order. We need close negotiations with the local governments and residents" to come up with complete measures, Edano explained.

Compared with Miyagi and Iwate, the two other prefectures hit hardest by the March 11 calamity, Fukushima got off easier in terms of disaster debris with a total of about 2.8 million tons.

But removing the wreckage is proving to be extremely complicated because much of it has been exposed to radiation, and because there were no official guidelines on how to handle it.

The June 19 release by the Environment Ministry was one of the first guidelines to address the issue, but it is far from comprehensive.

According to the ministry, any radioactive waste measuring 8,000 becquerels of cesium per kilogram can be managed by disposal sites, but separately from other garbage and only if the facility is equipped with special filters.

The ministry said officials settled on 8,000 becquerels because that level is deemed safe for the people directly involved with handling the waste.

Burned and noncombustible waste will then be buried in waste dumps if it shows less than 8,000 becquerels of radiation contamination. Where the burial facility will be constructed remains undecided.

Meanwhile, any waste with more than 8,000 becquerels of cesium will be removed and sealed away while the government mulls over what to do with it next, the ministry said. The June 19 guideline also didn't cover the debris and waste within the evacuation zone around the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant, which remains untouched.

Finding a location to manage the waste appears to be one of the major reasons for the delay. The Environment Ministry originally outlined plans to build the facility in Fukushima, but this was quickly rejected after the prefecture said it "won't gain the understanding of the public."

"We just need to take a certain amount of time to make a decision" on the specifics, Edano said.

But time is not a luxury many have, as radiation has contaminated waste found outside of Fukushima Prefecture.

For example, it was learned last month that ash from a sludge plant in Koto Ward, Tokyo, had a level of radioactivity of about 170,000 becquerels per kilogram.

A group of local mothers argue that the area is now a radioactive hot spot and made a request to the metropolitan government to conduct thorough examinations. Pundits fear the lack of a precise guideline may result in contamination at similar sites around the country as there is no specific rules on handling radioactive waste.

The government's indecision will also be a burden for many students in Fukushima as the summer heat begins to hit the region.

"The temperature is way past 30 degrees, but we need to keep the windows closed. We don't have a choice," Takahiro Saito, an official with the Nihonmatsu board of education, told The Japan Times.

Located in central Fukushima Prefecture, some schools in Nihonmatsu were forced to remove soil from their playgrounds after radiation from the Fukushima No. 1 plant contaminated the region.

The education ministry has set a nonbinding target to reduce radiation exposure of Fukushima Prefecture students while they are at school to 1 millisievert or less a year, which means the radiation on school grounds has to measure less than 1 microsievert.

Although radioactivity rose above 6.0 microseiverts per hour at some school grounds in his area, Saito said the numbers improved dramatically after the topsoil was scraped away. The campuses are now below the government-set limit, he said.

And yet the dirt was merely dumped at corners of school grounds and covered with blue plastic tarps because it can't be handled as normal industrial waste. The central government hasn't set up a guideline on the matter.

To cope with the heat, Nihonmatsu in May became the first city in Fukushima to come up with a plan to provide air conditioners in all of its elementary and junior high schools.

According to Saito, 306 air conditioners will be set up by the end of July.

The monetary cost will be high, but measures against the heat — especially with the windows sealed tight to avoid inflow of contaminated dust — is indispensable.

"We needed to answer the concerns of the parents, who were simply terrified with the thought of their children spending the summer in classrooms with the windows shut tight," Saito explained.

Some experts fear that leaving the scraped topsoil on school grounds will only do more harm, and they have called on the government to quickly construct a facility where it can be taken.

In a report by the Atomic Energy Society of Japan, University of Tokyo professor Muneo Morokuzu warned that simply piling the contaminated soil off to the side of a school campus or burying it won't be sufficient.

In fact, such handling may cause more problems in the medium and long term, he wrote.

Since sweeping it under the rug is not an option, many are requesting that the entity responsible for the disaster act fast.

"I think Tepco needs to be in charge of handling the radioactive material," Nihonmatsu's Saito said. "It's a matter of course that those responsible for contaminating our region should be held responsible for taking care of the debris."
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Nombre de messages : 429
Age : 47
Localisation : Ile de France
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Emploi/loisirs : Enseignant
Date d'inscription : 23/09/2009

JAPAN's radiation EXPOsure Empty
MessageSujet: Re: JAPAN's radiation EXPOsure   JAPAN's radiation EXPOsure EmptySam 02 Juil 2011, 10:34 am

Pour compléter la vidéo, l'article référencé: a écrit:
Wednesday, June 15, 2011

City plans fall distribution to address parents' fears
34,000 children in Fukushima to get dosimeters


FUKUSHIMA — Amid growing concerns over exposure to radiation, the Fukushima Municipal Government said Tuesday it will give dosimeters to all children attending preschools as well as elementary and junior high schools in the city.

The city said it will hand out the gauges for three months from September to about 34,000 children as part of its efforts to ensure their health.

City officials will collect data once a month and examine the results in cooperation with medical institutions.

It will also distribute the gauges to parents with children less than 3 years old at the request of the parents.

The move comes after a similar decision by the city of Date, Fukushima Prefecture, which has radiation hot spots where exposure could exceed the 20-millisievert limit during the course of a year.

Another town adopting this kind of measure is Kawamata, part of which sits in the government's no-go zone near the stricken Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant.

The plant has been crippled since it was damaged by the March 11 quake and tsunami, triggering the country's worst nuclear accident.

The dosimeter outlay is another step taken by local governments at the urging of worried parents.

The central government basically remains noncommittal about the school radiation issue, except for changing numbers in the radiation levels for schoolchildren.

On May 27, the education ministry said it will strive to limit radiation exposure of students to 1 millisievert or less a year while they are at school.

The move came after a barrage of criticism from parents in Fukushima Prefecture, who fear radiation leaking from the nuclear plant could increase their children's chances of developing leukemia or other types of cancer.

But the new limit is only a "best effort" target, and an earlier — and binding — radiation limit is still intact.

In April, the ministry set a limit of 3.8 microsieverts per hour for playground use at schools in the prefecture.

Together with estimated exposure from outside of school grounds, total annual exposure could grow to 20 millisieverts.

Many schools in Fukushima Prefecture have already acted on their own and banned students from using their school grounds over fears of radiation exposure.

Numerous schools are also attempting to scrape away contaminated soil.

et un autre plus récent: a écrit:
Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Tepco water treatment hopes elude

Tokyo Electric Power Co. continued struggling Monday to restart a newly installed water treatment system at its crippled Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant, aiming to resume full operations Tuesday.

The treatment system is designed to remove highly radioactive materials from the massive amounts of water accumulating at the plant, thus its full operation is vital for efforts to contain the three-month-old nuclear crisis, because Tepco hopes to eventually recycle the water to cool the plant's damaged reactors.

But the new system was halted at 12:54 a.m. Saturday, after becoming fully operational at 8 p.m. Friday, because the radiation level of a component to absorb cesium had reached its limit and required replacement much earlier than expected, Tepco officials said.

Tepco has been trying to ascertain why the component didn't work as hoped and is probing ways to solve the problem, company officials said.

Tepco meanwhile said Monday it fully opened the doors of the reactor 2 building to lower the humidity inside so workers can enter the site, and denied this would have a negative impact on the environment.

The ventilation helped reduce the humidity, the nuclear safety agency said, adding that it declined to between 58.7 and 89.9 percent from as high as 99.9 percent before the doors were opened.

If the humidity falls to around 70 percent, people can work inside the building with full-face masks, which could allow Tepco to start injecting nitrogen into the reactor to prevent a hydrogen blast and adjust measuring equipment there, the Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency said.

Meanwhile, a robot called Quince jointly developed by Chiba Institute of Technology, Tohoku University and other institutions will be sent to the Fukushima complex, NISA said.
Workers await results

While authorities slam Tokyo Electric Power Co. for exposing workers to excessive radiation — especially internal exposure — around 1,400 Tepco workers are still waiting for the results of their checkups.

About 3,700 people worked at the Fukushima No. 1 power plant from the time the March 11 disasters struck to the end of that month, but detailed checks for internal radiation exposure had only been completed on around 2,300 of them by late May.

Hidehiko Nishiyama, a spokesman for the Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency, said one of the reasons they haven't been able to get the checkups done quickly is that the utility doesn't have enough whole body dosimeters, which are designed specifically to measure radioactivity within the human body.

The situation is serious because the nuclear crisis is still unfolding and a large number of people are risking their lives to get the plant under control.

Internal radiation exposure can increase the incidence of cancer and leukemia dramatically.
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