Tag Archives: fukushima

Life at a Japanese evacuation center

Japan evacuees

Life in an evacuation center (you can forget privacy)

I just found these reports from a nuclear consultant who lives (well, lived) in Tomioka, a town near the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant. He and his family were evacuated, and he has reported his experiences in a 3-part series in English.

[Tomioka is about 10 miles north of Hirono, the town I lived in. – Andi]

Tohiro Kitamura reports frustration with the government and the lack of consideration for the evacuees, ranging from insufficient bathrooms (1 toilet for 500 people, in one case) and rations of expired food, to discrimination with ‘optional lodgings’ (if you have the money, then you can stay at a hotel or inn with some government compensation) and unclear directions (‘voluntary evacuation’ and radiation testing with nothing to show for it).

Take a look for yourself:

Kitamura’s evacuation experience – part 1 (PDF)

Kitamura’s evacuation experience – part 2 (PDF)

Kitamura’s evacuation experience – part 3 (PDF)

In his reports, Kitamura mentions people crossing the “No Entry” zones to get to their home, however to do so requires a car and fuel. One man traveled alone in the evacuation zone to take photos of homes for evacuees who couldn’t make the trek themselves:

http://goo.gl/bUyND

[Visiting Yonomori Park for the cherry blossoms is one of my fondest memories of living in Japan. The park is filled with cherry trees, and the city would put in lights to shine up through the branches of the cherry trees for the evenings when people would sit under the trees and have picnics with the blossoms falling like snow. -Andi]

Reports provided by JAIF. News by Mainichi Daily News.

Japan update 5/2/2011

Work continues on the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant. They are in the process of installing air filters in the No. 1 reactor building, which should reduce the amount of radioactive materials by 95% when operated for 24 hours. Eight workers are set to enter the No.1 reactor building as early as Thursday. They will be the first to do so since a hydrogen explosion occurred one day after the March 11th earthquake and tsunami. Assuming that the air filters work, TEPCO will then install air filters in the No.2 and No. 3 reactor buildings.

And in other news: A group of Tohoku Electric Power Company (not the Tokyo Electric Power Company, which runs Fukushima Daiichi) shareholders will submit a motion calling for the closure of the company’s nuclear plants. 220 individual stockholders decided on the move ahead of the company’s annual shareholders’ meeting at the end of next month. The investors are demanding that the  utility state in its agreement with shareholders that it will close its nuclear power plants and end its investment in a reprocessing plant in Aomori Prefecture and similar projects. The shareholders say the problems at  the Tokyo Electric Power Company’s Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant was a warning that accidents at any nuclear plant can lead to dangers that cannot be contained by any one company. They will deliver documents on the demand to the  company on Monday. The subject is expected to be discussed at this year’s shareholders’ meeting.

News courtesy NHK and JAIF 5/2/2011.

Update: Fukushima nuclear reactors 4/21/2011

It looks like it will take some time for the reactor situation to resolve.  On Monday TEPCO announced a 6-9 month containment plan. The first three months would attempt to achieve a steady reduction in radiation, then the next stage over the following three to six months would involve controlling the release of radioactive materials. Japanese government officials say that residents from the area around Fukushima Daiichi may be able to return to their homes in six months at the earliest, i.e. midway into the TEPCO containment plan timetable.

In other nuclear reactor news this week:

High radioactive levels detected in reactors
Robots have detected high levels of radioactivity inside the reactor buildings of the crippled Fukushima nuclear plant. The plant operator says the radioactivity must be reduced to allow work inside the buildings to bring the crisis under control.

Tokyo Electric Power Company surveyed the interiors of 3 reactor buildings on Sunday and Monday using robots equipped with dosimeters and cameras. TEPCO says that over 50 minutes the robots found 18.9 millisierverts of radioactivity in reactor Number 1 and 6.46 millisierverts in Number 2.

(NOTE: The maximum allowable amount of radiation that won’t show any clinical symptoms is 200 millisieverts per year.)

The levels are hazardous to humans even over a short period. Levels of radioactivity were not available in the Number 3 reactor.

TEPCO says it will need to install air conditioners to ventilate and clean the air of radioactivity before people can work there.

Levels of radioactive water rising despite efforts
The operator of the troubled Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Plant continues to transfer highly radioactive water near a reactor to a storage facility. Tokyo Electric Power Company says work has been underway since Tuesday to move 10,000 tons of highly contaminated water accumulated in the turbine building of the Number 2 reactor to an on-site waste processing facility. The water has been pumped into the facility at a rate of 10 tons per hour.

TEPCO says the toxic water level in a tunnel near the turbine building was 2 centimeters lower as of 6 PM on Wednesday. But it says because there was no change in the water level in the basement of the turbine building, the leaking of toxic water into the basement appears to be continuing.

SDF may transfer people out of no-entry zone
Japan’s Self-Defense Forces are studying the possibility of helping transfer people out of the 20-kilometer zone around the crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant.

Self-Defense Forces and local municipalities have found that several tens of people are still living in the area, which will be designated a legally-controlled, off-limits zone on Friday. They are people who are unable to evacuate by themselves such as the elderly or those in need of nursing care.

Self-Defense Forces are considering transferring these people out of the area with their vehicles if they are requested to do so by the local governments.

They are also considering taking people to their homes in the off-limit areas on temporary visits and then decontaminating them for radiation after the trip.

Evacuees visit their home before government no-entry zone in effect
Evacuees from near the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant drove to their homes on Thursday before a no-entry zone covering their areas goes into operation at midnight on Thursday.

Police checked the driving licenses of car drivers at a checkpoint about 20 kilometers from the power plant and asked where they are going.

In the afternoon, people carrying clothes, appliances and other goods from their homes were seen driving through the checkpoint on their way back to evacuation centers.

Fukushima Governor dismayed at Government and TEPCO response
The Governor of Fukushima prefecture issued a statement on April 11 condemning TEPCO and the Japanese government for “betraying” the people by claiming nuclear power is safe:

“The Japanese Government and TEPCO have been saying that nuclear power generation is absolutely safe with multi-layered safety measures. I feel this was a betrayal.

I have, therefore, strongly demanded the Japanese Government and TEPCO to come up with solutions to this incident. However, there has yet to be any sign of improvement in terms of restoration of the facilities.”

As a sidenote, Japanese culture places an emphasis on being vague and using ‘softening’ words when making a request of any sort. Strong language is avoided because it could cause more harm than good.

The fact that the Governor used the word ‘betrayal’ reflects just how strong his feelings are. And then to make those words public? That demonstrates a lot of strong emotion. It shocked me to read his statement because you just don’t talk like that in Japan. You don’t.

*****

More news updates next week.