Veneer Peels Off Fukushima Disaster

The carefully crafted veneer of recovery from the Fukushima nuclear disaster by the government is peeling in many ways. Protesters who have been camped out in front of the METI agency office since 2011 were told by a court to pay about $240,000 for their protest. The encampment has been a thorn in the side of the agency who was without a way to disperse the group of protesters and no interest in hearing their grievances.

The Tokyo district court claimed the protesters were illegally occupying state owned (aka: public) land. News reports didn’t cite what law they were apparently breaking or if ordering citizens to pay for protesting is a normal legal action in Japan. Either way real estate prices in Tokyo are quite high.

Little mentioned in the Japanese press as  UK’s Prince William is touring select parts of Japan, is the protest of nuclear evacuees. Many accuse the tour as a stunt by PM Abe to try to create PR to help his effort to restart nuclear reactors in Japan. The tour appears to be a series of carefully crafted photo ops for the government while ignoring the reality for many in the region.

Japan’s government has made returning people to the evacuation zone a major portion of their response to the disaster. Money has been put into efforts to decontaminate land and repair infrastructure in locations they want people to return to. Additional money has been put into image programs to try to make the areas appear to have support for business investment and other normal aspects of life. Decontamination efforts have had limited success in actually lowering radiation levels. The government has also continued to use an artificially high “safe” radiation level of 20 mSv per year as the measure of where people should return. ICRP’s living standard is 1 mSv per year or less. Asahi Shimbun reported this week that only between 10-20% of the residents from these evacuated areas plan to ever return. This figure should prompt discussion if spending even more money on “recovery” efforts is a wise expenditure if so few would even consider returning.

The NRA reprimanded TEPCO this week for their handling of one of the two contaminated water leaks to the sea this week. TEPCO waited 90 minutes between a high radiation alarm on the drainage canal and actually shutting the canal gate at the port. NRA demanded that TEPCO investigate the source of the leak and establish a method to rapidly close the canal gate if a detection alarm goes off. TEPCO still does nothing unless they are made to.

Fishing associations in Fukushima expressed their outrage and betrayal by TEPCO at a meeting yesterday. TEPCO has made efforts to convince local fishing groups of their “safety” and precautions in order to gain the approval of these groups for dumping partially treated water into the sea. Now it is apparent to everyone that TEPCO was not just withholding information but lying to these groups. TEPCO’s rather weak excuse for hiding this information was that reading 1km out to sea didn’t rise so they didn’t need to tell anyone they knew highly radioactive water was still leaking into the sea.

The NRA also announced that anyone outside of 30km from a future nuclear disaster would be asked to shelter in a building rather than any attempt to evacuate those people. This appears to waive responsibility by local officials to come up with evacuation plans for anyone further away from the plant. Even the order to shelter in a building would require an arbitrary decision from national officials at the NRA. As seen during the height of the Fukushima disaster, that did not happen.

The only sure thing since the disaster is that people always seem to come last.

image credit | addicted2decorating.com

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