Tuesday, July 12, 2016

The Fukushima Disaster is NOT Over!

Recently, a well-credentialed member of the College of Physicians and Surgeons at Columbia University Medical Center published an article asserting that the Fukushima disaster is NOT over after visiting the region:
Andrew R. Marks. 2016. The Fukushima nuclear disaster is ongoing. The Journal of Clinical Investigation. http://dx.doi.org/10.1172/JC188434

The 5th anniversary of the Fukushima disaster and the 30th anniversary of the Chernobyl disaster, the two most catastrophic nuclear accidents in history, both occurred recently. Images of Chernobyl are replete with the international sign of radioactive contamination (a circle with three broad spokes radiating outward in a yellow sign). In contrast, ongoing decontamination efforts at Fukushima lack international warnings about radioactivity. Decontamination workers at Fukushima appear to be poorly protected against radiation. It is almost as if the effort is to make the Fukushima problem disappear. A more useful response would be to openly acknowledge the monumental problems inherent in managing a nuclear plant disaster. Lessons from Chernobyl are the best predictors of what the Fukushima region of Japan is coping with in terms of health and environmental problems following a nuclear catastrophe.
This assertion supports my own analysis of the events from afar.  However, despite ongoing problems with the ice-wall and contaminated water production, the central government is lifting evacuation orders in Japan within a 20 mile radius of the plant, as these articles address:
Nuclear disaster evacuation order covering 10,000 Minamisoma residents lifted. July 12, 2016. (Mainichi Japan) http://mainichi.jp/english/articles/20160712/p2a/00m/0na/018000c

MINAMISOMA, Fukushima -- Some 10,000 Minamisoma residents were officially permitted to return home after Fukushima nuclear disaster evacuation orders covering parts of the city were lifted on July 12.

Eleven municipalities near the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant were evacuated after the March 2011 meltdowns, but this is the first order to be lifted covering so many people. However, as five years and four months have passed since the disaster and concerns about radiation persist, many evacuees have already put down roots elsewhere, and only a portion of residents are expected to return.

Japan lifts evacuation orders in Fukushima affecting 10,000 people. July 12, 2016 (Mainichi Japan) http://mainichi.jp/english/articles/20160712/p2g/00m/0dm/031000c

The government is in the process of gradually lifting evacuation orders issued to areas within a 20-kilometer radius of the plant of Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings Inc. and in certain areas beyond the zone amid ongoing radiation cleanup efforts.

Eight municipalities in Fukushima Prefecture have areas defined as evacuation zones, which are divided into three categories based on their radiation levels. The most seriously contaminated area is called a zone "where it is expected that the residents have difficulties in returning for a long time." In Minamisoma, the government lifted evacuation orders for areas except for the difficult-to-return zone. As of July 1, the areas had a registered population of 10,807, or 3,487 households.

The central government is saying its safe to return but there is contaminated waste everywhere and the new exposure level allows up to 19 millisieverts a year for adults.

As one can imagine, few people are electing to return despite losing homes, farms, and businesses that have been in families for generations.

When I look at the webcams every day, I conclude the former residents are wiser than the central government: