Fukushima Monday Mashup, Nobody Trusts The Government Edition

There is a growing major distrust of the Japanese government. What is less obvious is that it has developed along age related lines that mirror where internet use stops and starts. Those who get their news from the internet or a variety of sources hold a drastically different view of the government and the accident. The ongoing whitewashing of the disaster and understating of the magnitude has been very obvious to anyone who gets their news from more than mainstream media in Japan.

Prime Minister Noda and TEPCO have declared “cold shutdown” but nobody believes it. Members of Noda’s own political party have called it fiction. A member of Noda’s cabinet cited an attempt to reassure other countries as the reason for the declaration. Experts from Japan Atomic Energy Research Institute and National Safety Commission have individually told the media the claim is doubtful. The US media isn’t buying it. The New York Times and Wall Street Journal both expressed doubt about the reality of Noda’s claim. Even mayors of the nearby towns don’t believe it. The mayors of Minamisoma and Namie both doubt the “all safe” claim of the national government. Maybe a better question would be who does believe there is a “cold shutdown”?

Even the minister in charge of the disaster is waffling on cold shutdown. Minister Hosono recently said that they don’t know where the fuel is but he is sure it is being cooled. He provided no basis for this claim.

A long time nuclear expert had his life turned upside down by the disaster. He bought a house in Fukushima prefecture as his retirement. Now he lives in temporary housing, his home so radioactive he can never return home or sell it. After suffering through the stress of evacuating and the indifference many evacuees have faced he has begun public speaking sessions to explain the true cost of nuclear power.

At least 52 workers at the Fukushima Daiichi plant site have come down with norovirus. It appears the workers may have housing or a specific work location in common. Norovirus spreads quickly and could become a major complication if it should spread further among workers at the plant.

462 trillion becquerels of radioactive strontium have leaked into the Pacific since the start of the March disaster. Stronium 90 has a half life of 28.8 years and targets bones. There is an obvious risk to seafood and specifically any bone byproducts.

TEPCO plans to drill a hole and look inside the containment of unit 2 before the end of this year. We mentioned previously that TEPCO has ordered special cameras from a Swedish firm that are radiation resistant. Hopefully TEPCO will share their findings in an honest and timely manner with the public.

Contaminated soil is going to be stored near Futaba and Okuma near the Fukushima Daiichi site. No word how this would impact any intentions of either town reconstructing.

Meanwhile the government is rushing to declare areas safe to return. The government has decided to adopt the ICRP temporary emergency standard as the ongoing daily living “safe” standard of 20 mSv/year. This appears to be the defacto cut off for compensation and aid. This is also the maximum level of radiation a German nuclear worker can be exposed to in a year.

Companies are fleeing Fukushima in numbers larger than is publicly perceived by the local government. Various companies citing reluctance of clients and even salespeople to come to Fukushima to do business as one reason for their plans to move.
The central government and local governments are not able to guarantee our security and safety,” said Kei Wakabayashi, Xebio spokesman. “We have no choice but to start action ourselves.”
Everything from sporting goods to brokerage houses are leaving for somewhere safer to conduct business. Other prefectures are more than happy to court them, seeing jobs and tax revenue.

Another business suffering from the losses in Fukushima is the Shoei private high school. So few students are left in Minamisoma that the school has decided to close. They left the option to reopen the school if people decide to return in a few years.

With both residential property taxes and businesses destroyed, shut down or leaving the region around the nuclear disaster local government is seeing revenues drop. Local governments are attempting to make up some of the losses by asking for handouts from the national government or like the towns near Fukushima Daini, imposing large taxes on TEPCO.

Google has started a page to collect and share photos of the disaster region. They took before and after Google street view images of certain areas and are providing a way for people who were able to save photos and video of the area to share them online.

A school in Saitama is making children garble with Saitama green tea. The school claims some of the natural substances in the tea help prevent flu viruses. The tea from the area is also known to be full of cesium. Extremely high levels of stronium have also been found in Saitama, 348 bq/kg of stronium.

Among all the chaos, lawyers are helping disaster victims negotiate for compensation. Lawyers have been consulting with some of the victims and have decided to form a collective bargaining group after seeing that the proposed compensation was nowhere near sufficient to meet the real costs people have incurred due to the nuclear disaster.

Safer prefectures have seen an influx in people moving to the area. Some areas of Japan had been seeing population declines due to people moving and over all population decline in the country. The desire for more residents and tax revenue may be the catalyst to get evacuees more help moving that the national government is failing to provide. One such area is Okinawa prefecture. They have established a page of resources for people wanting to move there as evacuees trying to start their lives over. They listed everything from emergency housing and living expenses to child care, job retraining programs and even kennel assistance so people could bring their pets with as they resettle.

The animal rescuers in the zone over the summer and again recently have mentioned finding animals with major hair loss and unidentified skin diseases. Many have been dogs and cats but they have also seen it in wild animals like tanuki and in livestock. The broad range of animals raises doubt it is caused by one source like mange or fleas. Luckily most animals recover once removed from the evacuation zone and given some minor medical attention. In some better news, there are some happy stories of rescued animals doing well.

Back in the US the issues around Fukushima are getting a somewhat schizophrenic treatment by the media. While many are critical of declarations the disaster is over or in any way safe, others are soft pitching the disaster as if it didn’t even happen. The New York Times recently published an Op-ed pointing out that Indian Point near NYC is another Fukushima in the making. USA Today makes the bizarre statement that nuclear power is indispensable to the US  even though it only accounts for 20% of our generation power or less. They then go on to claim to downplay the disaster as simply a learning opportunity.

This article would not be possible without the extensive efforts of the SimplyInfo research team
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