— On March 31, 2017, Japan cuts off free housing for “voluntary” evacuees; one mother’s story

Posted on Nuclear News

March 4, 2017
Mother who evacuated with her children to Niigata (wishes to remain anonymous)

The background to my deciding to voluntarily evacuate (with my children) came after I comprehensively evaluated the incidents which I describe below.

At the time of the accident, I learnt that, previously, the radiation dose limit for the general public was stipulated by law as one millisievert in a year (or 0.23 microsievert per hour).

Before the nuclear power plant accident, the radiation level in Fukushima city was 0.03 microsievert per hour. Immediately following the 2011 accident, even inside homes, the level was 0.6 microsievert (approximately 20 times the normal level), and outside, the level was commonly 2 microsievert or higher (some 66 times the normal level). This amounts to levels far in excess of one millisievert per year. I thought that this was abnormal (and a violation of law).

On April 19, 2011, in Fukushima prefecture, the level at which children were permitted to engage in outdoor activities was changed to 20 millisievert a year, or 3.8 microsievert per hour. Thus, the former standard of 1 millisievert per year was raised to 20 times that level.

In May, the Board of Education issued notice limiting the outdoor activities of elementary, junior high, and high school students to a maximum of three hours per day.

On April 29, Toshiso Kosako, advisor to the Cabinet Office, held a press conference announcing his resignation in protest against the height of the levels. In tears, he stated the following:

“It is very rare even among the occupationally exposed persons to be exposed to radiation levels even near to 20mSv per year. I cannot possibly accept such a level to be applied to babies, infants and primary school students, not only from my scholarly viewpoint but also from my humanistic beliefs.”

The press repeatedly reported the government’s explanation that “the levels would not have an immediate effect on the human body or on health.”

Meanwhile, amid a confusion of various other information, I resolved to evacuate from Date city to Niigata, wanting to take care of my children in a safe environment in peace of mind. Now, Fukushima prefecture has started to discard evacuees, under the banner of “Acceleration of Reconstruction.”

In June 2015, Fukushima prefecture announced that it would stop providing rental housing for voluntary evacuees at the end of March 2017. The provision of free housing for voluntary evacuees will end.

Five years ago, when I voluntarily evacuated from Fukushima prefecture to Niigata, I had to start from zero. Many people were kind in their support, including local people I met, and those at my children’s school. But with the upcoming changes, the livelihood which I have finally built up after five years will be taken from me, and I will be deprived of my right to evacuation.

In Fukushima, decontamination of residential grounds has reduced radiation levels from the post-accident levels, and a false sense of security is spreading, even though radiation has not reached pre-accident levels.

With its eyes set on the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, Japan is lifting the evacuation orders and discontinuing compensation, and it is firming up policy to end housing support for voluntary evacuees. I strongly resent that Japan is gradually cutting financial housing support, and forcing people into poverty, after which they are encouraged to return home and are then abandoned. Rather than the proclamation which Prime Minister Abe made for the Olympics that everything is “under control,” I want to convey a message to him of “One for all, all for one.”

I want Prime Minister Abe to retract his statement, and instead, I want him to tell the world that support will continue “One for all, all for one,” for all of the people who suffered so much from the disaster, while TEPCO was said to be “under control.”

People who were previously under evacuation orders were known as compulsory evacuees. The term “voluntary evacuation” is widely used. However, this is in no way voluntary evacuation. Using the term “voluntary evacuation” in contrast to “compulsory evacuation” implies that people made a choice of their own volition, therefore the term which should be used is “evacuation from areas outside of areas designated under evacuation orders.” Voluntary evacuees from outside of designated areas are being forcibly returned home, or forcibly evicted.

I want to tell the whole world that this is what is really occurring in Fukushima now.
Translation: Anthony Davis, Kobe, Japan, March 2017


The Politics of Invisibility: Fukushima, 6 years after 3.11


— Obama administration final gift: EPA adopts huge increase in allowable drinking water contamination

From Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility

For Immediate Release: Jan 19, 2017
Contact: Kirsten Stade (202) 265-7337


Final Approval for Radical Radiation Rise in Water Supplies after Nuclear Release

Washington, DC — In a not so lovely parting gift, the Obama administration today formally adopted a policy of allowing public exposure to radioactivity following a nuclear release at levels many times the maximum limits of the Safe Drinking Water Act. Last-minute modifications ladled in by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to address public health concerns afford scant comfort, according to Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER).

The “Protective Action Guide (PAG) for Drinking Water after a Radiological Incident” was finalized today by its publication in the Federal Register. This policy lets the public consume water containing radiation at levels hundreds and thousands of times what is permitted for the more than 100 chemical elements that can emit radiation (radionuclides) under the Safe Drinking Water Act.

“Since this policy authorizes leaving people in contaminated zones and not providing them bottled or other potable drinking water for long periods, it should be called a ‘Protective Inaction Guide,’” stated Jeff Ruch, Executive Director of PEER which had to sue EPA to force release of information specifying what levels of which radionuclides EPA would permit public exposure to. “Under this policy, affected Americans would be guinea pigs in an untimed radiation experiment.”

In its final action, the EPA claims to have tightened the policy with respect to duration of public exposure, the nature of the triggering event and protections for infants and nursing mothers. PEER disputes the accuracy and efficacy of these supposed mitigations for the following reasons:

  • Duration. These rollbacks cover the “intermediate period” after the radiation release has been brought under control (not necessarily stopped but no longer growing). EPA now contends that this period may last for “week to months but not longer than a year.” However, the PAG itself states that the early, intermediate and late “phases cannot be represented by precise periods of time” and suggests their duration be viewed as “in terms of activities, rather than time spans.” Nor does EPA specify what happens if this intermediate period extends beyond a year;
  • Trigger. EPA now says application of the PAG is limited to “nationally significant radiological contamination incidents” but does not define the term. The PAG itself states that it covers “a wide range of incidents,” not just reactor accidents but also spills. By contrast, the EPA website FAQ posting says the PAG applies in “any radiological emergency”; and
  • Sensitive Populations. The PAG allows 500 millirems (mrem) of radiation exposure for the general population but only 100 mrem for the most sensitive populations (e.g., infants, children, pregnant women and nursing women). But EPA never explains how non-nursing children will get only one-fifth the radiation their parents receive in situations lacking clean drinking water.

“EPA’s qualifications tacitly concede the dangers to public health but do little to solve them,” added Ruch, noting that PEER is considering a lawsuit to nullify the PAG. “Among other legal vulnerabilities, this policy flies in the face of the anti-backsliding requirements of the Safe Drinking Water Act.”


View the Federal Register notice

Examine redline showing recent EPA rewrites

See EPA’s public relations motivation for the PAG

Look at the full Drinking Water PAG

Read the non-explanatory EPA blog posting


— Taro Yamamoto MP: Defending the rights of Fukushima victims, humanitarian and environmental crisis — debate in Japan’s Parliament (VIDEO)

Global Research, January 01, 2017
Fukushima 311 Watchdogs 14 December 2016

Taro Yamamoto of the Liberal Party is a member of the Chamber of Deputies. He is one of the few parliamentary members defending the rights of victims of the TEPCO Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant disaster.

The Association Nos Voisins Lointains 3-11 translated the questions of Taro Yamamoto to the Chamber of Deputies’ Special Commission on Reconstruction on 18 November 2016*.

The content of his questions reveals the inhuman situation faced by the victims in the framework of the Japanese government’s return policy .

Taro Yamamoto’s questions (video in Japanese)

See Transcript Below

● Taro Yamamoto

Thank you. I am Taro Yamamoto from the Liberal Party. I would like to ask questions as the representative of a parliamentary group.

Declared on 11 March 2011, the state of nuclear emergency has not yet been lifted to date, 5 years and 8 months after the accident at the TEPCO Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant. Today, I will address a subject that is well known by the members here present.

I will start with the subject of the radioactivity controlled area. This is a demarcated area frequented by workers with professional knowledge who are exposed to the risks associated with ionizing radiation, such as an X-ray room, a research laboratory, a nuclear power plant and so on.

Here is my question. There are rules that apply to controlled areas of radioactivity, are not they? Can we eat and drink in such a controlled area?

● Government expert (Seiji Tanaka)

Here is the answer. According to the Ordinance on the Prevention of Risks from Ionizing Radiation**, eating and drinking are prohibited in workplaces where there is a risk of ingesting radioactive substances orally.

● Taro Yamamoto

Of course, it is forbidden to drink or eat there. So it’s obvious that it’s not possible to spend the night there, is it? Even adults cannot stay for more than 10 hours.

You are well aware of the existence of this Ordinance. This is a rule that must be respected in order to protect workers exposed to risks related to ionizing radiation in establishments such as hospitals, research laboratories and nuclear power plants, isn’t it?

It contains the definition of a radioactivity controlled area. This is Article 3 of the Ordinance in File No. 1. It states that if the situation corresponds to the definition described in Article 3/1 or to that specified in Article 3/2, the zone shall be considered as a controlled area and a sign shall be posted there. I will read parts 1 and 2 of this article.

1: The area in which the total effective dose due to external radiation and that due to radioactive substances in the air is likely to exceed 1.3mSv per quarter – over a period of three months! When the dose reaches 1.3mSv over a period of three months, a zone is called “controlled radioactivity zone”.

Part 3/2 refers to the surface density in the attached table.
Here is File No. 2. What will it be if we do the conversion of the density of the surface per m2?

● Government expert (Seiji Tanaka)

The conversion gives 40,000Bq/m2

● Taro Yamamoto

Thus, with 40 000Bq / m2, the zone is classified as a “controlled zone of radioactivity”. It is therefore necessary to monitor not only radioactivity in the air but also the surface contamination, ie the ground dose of radioactive substances, ie other elements in the environment, and to manage the area in order to protect workers from radiation-related risks, isn’t it?

A radioactivity controlled area is defined both by the dose rate of the ambient radioactivity and by the surface density of the radioactive substances. The point is that the risk in a situation where the radioactive substances are dispersed is quite different from that in the situation where the radiation sources are well identified and managed.

At present, the evacuation order applied to the evacuation zones following the nuclear power plant accident is lifted when the ambient radioactivity dose rate becomes less than 20mSv / year.

Here is my question. Concerning contamination, apart from the dose rate of ambient radioactivity, are there any conditions to take into account in order to lift the evacuation order? Please answer yes or no.

● Government expert (Takeo Hoshino)

Here is the answer.

Concerning the conditions necessary for the lifting of the evacuation order, as far as the radioactivity measurements are concerned, it is only the certainty that the annual cumulative dose rate of ambient radioactivity is less than 20 mSv.

● Taro Yamamoto

You did not understand. I asked you to answer yes or no. Are there any other conditions other than the dose rate of ambient radioactivity? To lift the order of evacuation below 20mSv / year, what are the conditions regarding the contamination?

The fact is that regarding contamination, there are no other conditions than the dose rate of the radioactivity in the air. This is abnormal. You, who belong to this Commission, certainly understand to what extent this situation is abnormal.

In the definition of a radioactivity controlled zone, apart from the dose rate of radioactivity in the air, account is taken of the substances dispersed and then deposited, that is to say contamination in the soil etc., which means a criterion of 40 000Bq / m2 is established for surface contamination.

However, in the return policy to return populations to territories where the annual cumulative dose rate is less than 20mSv / year, the condition of soil contamination is not considered necessary.

The latter is not an evaluation criterion, the only criterion used is the dose rate of the ambient radioactivity. Politicians and officials who consider this to be a regular situation do not deserve to receive wages paid from tax revenues.

Our job is to protect the life and property of the people. Now, you lighten those conditions. You create, at your discretion, a rule that is less stringent than that applied to workers with a professional knowledge of radioactivity. What are you doing !

Following the Chernobyl accident, laws have been established in Russia, Belarus and Ukraine, measuring both the dose rate of radioactivity in the air and the contamination of the soil. Why ?

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