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A powerful 6.2 magnitude earthquake has struck off the coast of Japan near Fukushima.

Details of the extent of the damage have not yet emerged regarding the quake which hit 281km South East of Kamaishi.

The depth of the earthquake, which struck at 2.37am local time, was measured at 10km.

A similar earthquake back in 2011 killed 15,894 people and injured 10 more when a tsunami, landslides and fires broke out as a result. But experts are predicting today's quake should pass by without causing any harm

A similar earthquake back in 2011 killed 15,894 people and injured 10 more when a tsunami, landslides and fires broke out as a result. But experts are predicting today’s quake should pass by without causing any harm

A similar earthquake back in 2011 killed 15,894 people and injured 10 more when a tsunami, landslides and fires broke out as a result.

But experts are predicting today’s quake should pass by without causing any harm.

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The United States knows that peaceful power from atomic energy is no dream of the future. ..To hasten the day when fear of the atom will begin to disappear from the minds of people, and the governments of the East and West, there are certain steps that can be taken now.

President Dwight D. Eisenhower’s address before the General Assembly of the United Nations on Peaceful Uses of Atomic Energy, New York City, 1953

The island nation of Japan is ranked third in the world in terms of the number of functioning nuclear reactors on its territory.

Why would the one country to experience the destructive potential of nuclear power in wartime, the culture that gave the world ‘Godzilla,’ and has endured the meltdowns of three reactors in 2011 continue to embrace nuclear power?

As part of the Global Research News Hour’s commemoration of the sixth anniversary of the Fukushima Daichii nuclear catastrophe, we focus on the historical and political context of the disaster.

First up, we hear from Professor Peter Kuznick about the early years after the War. He explains the role of Japan in America’s postwar geostrategy, and comments on the public relations campaign that convinced the population of the Asian country to stop worrying and love nuclear power.

Later, Canadian nuclear expert Gordon Edwards returns to the program to comment on Canada’s connections with the Japanese nuclear industry and on how the Fukushima disaster should have informed Canadian nuclear policy and regulations.

Finally, we hear from celebrated Kyoto-based anti-nuclear activist Aileen Mioko Smith about the evolution of the anti-nuclear movement within Japan.

We also hear from a short video produced by Fairewinds Energy Education (fairewinds.org) outlining the fallacy of nuclear power as a strategy for fighting climate change.

LISTEN TO THE SHOW

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‘Wild boars that took over Japanese towns vacated after the Fukushima disaster are being culled as officials attempt to re-inhabit areas affected by the nuclear fall-out. The animals moved into towns made inhospitable to humans by high levels of radiation.

“It is not really clear now which is the master of the town, people or wild boars,” Mayor of Namie Tamotsu Baba told Reuters. “If we don’t get rid of them and turn this into a human-led town, the situation will get even wilder and uninhabitable.”

The town of Namie, located 4km (2.5 miles) from the Fukushima power plant, is scheduled to see residents return at the end of March. More than half of the 21,500 former residents have decided not to return, citing concerns over radiation and the safety of ongoing operations at the nuclear plant, which is currently being decommissioned.’

Read more: Radioactive Fukushima boars culled to clear way for returning residents 

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Ealier today, Barack Obama became the first sitting US president to visit the memorial of the American atomic bombings of Japan in Hiroshima, however without offering no apology for the attacks. The trip comes amid Japanese protests over alleged crimes committed by US troops stationed in Japan.

“We have a shared responsibility to look directly in the eye of history. We must ask what we must do differently to curb such suffering again,” Obama said in a speech at the memorial. Some of the speech highlights:

“We’re not bound by our genetic codes to repeat the mistakes of the past. We can tell our children a different story. Those who died, they are like us. Ordinary people understand this I think. They do not want more war. The world was forever changed here. But today, the children of this city will go through their day in peace. What a precious thing.”

Obama placed a wreath in front of a cenotaph at Hiroshima
Peace Memorial Park in Hiroshima

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31:20 in — Not many people directly feel the dangers of radiation yet, but if the Fukushima radiation contamination continues, not even Canada will be safe. The Japanese government is still dumping contaminated water into the sea.

31:35 in — Hisako Sakiyama, former head researcher at Japan’s National Institute of Radiological Science: “There is a lot of strontium as well as tritium in the contaminated water. There will be serious problem if those matters reach outside… Buts since the Fukushima accident, the contaminated water has been flowing underground… It is flowing into the sea from somewhere. So the sea is also becoming contaminated.”

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Last week TEPCO admitted that the frozen wall would not fully contain groundwater flowing through the plant. Original estimates of groundwater flowing through the plant were about 600 tons per day. The frozen wall will allow 50 tons per day to flow through the reactor block area. While this is a significant reduction, it isn’t water tight. This is the first time this has been disclosed to the public.

Some reasons why it may not be water tight include small cable ducting tunnels, similar pipes that run through the area or where roads lead in and out of the reactor block area. Installing pipes in these road areas would be problematic. Even creating small bridging structures would be difficult as most of the vehicle traffic is heavy equipment. This photo below shows the frozen wall pipes installed before the connecting system is installed. This shows why freezing actively used road sections could be problematic. TEPCO has not specifically addressed this issue to confirm the status of road sections related to the frozen wall.

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Water tanks crowding the Fukushima Daichi nuclear plant site

Here’s the problem in a nutshell—or rather a thimbleful—facing the Japanese government and Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO), the operator of the crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant.

There are over 1,100 large steel tanks brimming with filtered water—except for a low contaminant called tritium—clogging both the plant and an expanding area outside the site.

The water is a mix of tons of groundwater flowing into the plant’s basements and tons of contaminated water that have become radiated after draining down there through the three damaged reactors the water was injected into to keep the melted uranium cores cool. This lethal liquid mix is pumped out the basements and decontaminated before it overflows and seeps into the sea; some of it is recycled back as coolant into the reactors while the rest is pumped into the storage tanks.

This process continues hour after hour, day after day, year after year: a cunningly worthy punishment of the gods for the latter-day Sisyphus, TEPCO. Consequently, every week or two a new tank-full of treated water is added to the forest of steel now covering the area like giant alien mushrooms. The total amount of stored water exceeds 800,000 cubic tons and is inexorably heading for one million tons and more without an end in site.

The cost is enormous, and picking up the tab is the Japanese taxpayer—not TEPCO, which is undergoing a ten-year reconstruction since a government bail out saved it from bankruptcy.

So the million-ton-plus dilemma for the government has boiled down to three options: keep on with the endless and expensive tank building and filling; find a way to remove the tritium from the water; or have TEPCO discharge (dump) the water into the ocean.

The latter option is by far the easiest and least expensive method, except that the water is tritiated: that is the water has become radioactive.

Without context, that’s a scary word, until you remember that sunbathing and eating bananas are pleasant radioactive pastimes. The point being that the energy tritium gives off is so low as to be unmeasurable with a dosimeter. And the particles (not rays) tritium expels can be stopped by plastic wrap—as Shunichi Tanaka, head of Japan’s Nuclear Regulatory Authority, told the press recently.

That’s a fact, but it’s not the point, say environmentalist foes of the dumping method. Ingesting tritium is a concern for health they argue. And they have experts to back up such concerns, though they are mostly theoretical. Meanwhile, there are experts on the other side of the debate pooh-poohing such worries and asking to see some solid proof to back up the theory.

Conclusion: Those supportive of nuclear power tend to minimize the health risks of tritium, while those opposing the use of nuclear power tend to exaggerate its risks.

What is not debatable is the negative psychological impact releasing the water into the sea will have on Japan’s nervous neighbors, the suffering people of the northeast, the region’s fishing industry and the Japanese electorate.

Given such concerns and uncertainties, organizations like Greenpeace urge the government to err on the side of caution. The best option, says Greenpeace, is to continue storing the water while exploring all technical options for tritium separation.

On the face of it, that seems reasonable. But then experts opposing this stance, like Lake Barrett, a nuclear industry consultant advising TEPCO, point out that while it may be possible to create a method of separating the tritium, it hasn’t been found yet, despite much effort; and it would likely cost a couple of billion dollars to develop and perfect in any case. It’s no surprise that TEPCO and the government have reached the same conclusion.

“All that money could be better spent on schools, hospitals,” Barrett told me. “And you can’t go on building tanks forever.”

Besides, he adds, “The very low levels of tritium in the stored water are not a meaningful health risk. After verification that the radioactivity levels are within conservative Japanese health risks, I would not hesitate to drink it, bathe in it, or eat fish or shellfish harvested from it.”

Now there’s an idea. If the government is to discharge the tritiated water into the ocean without turning a large portion of the electorate against it, it needs to persuade a majority of citizens that it is safe within reason to do so. This will require a number of carefully thought out steps.

The government will have to clearly explain the pros and cons of its action and the reason for its decision; it must establish a mechanism to compensate the fisherman for the shortfall they will undergo following the release; an international panel of independent, knowledgeable people, including environmentalists of the non-hysterical variety, is required to verify the tritiated water does indeed fall well below internationally accepted standards for release; and the panel members must be granted access to monitor the process at any time they wish.

Then for the coup de grâce, Prime Minister Abe, his cabinet members along with TEPCO executives should visit Fukushima Daiichi, and while standing in front of one the giant tanks each drink a glass of the tritiated water. This won’t sway everyone, of course, but it would give the government the minimum moral authority required to make such a contentious decision.

http://www.forbes.com/sites/jboyd/2016/05/01/how-can-japan-can-settle-the-fukushima-daiichi-tritium-issue-drink-it/#250de9662739

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| 20 April 2016 | Japan was plunged into fresh panic today as a 6.1 magnitude tremor hit the northern coast – the third major earthquake within a week. The tremors struck near the northern island on Honshu around 60 miles southeast on Sendai. To the dismay of rattled survivors, the latest quake happened close to the site of the Fukushima nuclear disaster – which saw 15,000 killed in March 2011.

Japan faces fresh earthquake panic as 6.1 magnitude tremor hits coast near Fukushima nuclear plant

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Five years after the Fukushima nuclear accident, local residents are reporting a marked increase in serious birth defects, but due to an ongoing coverup by Japanese authorities, and a severe lack of scientific studies being performed, very little information on the subject is reaching the public.

A February, 2016 broadcast on LaborNet TV featured interviews with evacuees from the affected areas near the Daiichi nuclear plant, who provided firsthand accounts of babies being born with extra limbs caused by a structural birth defect called polymelia.

The interviewees also reported a large number of stillbirths, as well as numerous abortions performed due to “inconvenient pregnancies” – in other words, pregnancies in which birth defects were detected prenatally, causing doctors to recommend abortion procedures.’

Read more: Parent’s worst nightmare: Wave of babies born in Japan with extra arms and legs due to Fukushima radiation… Stillbirth numbers on the rise 

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Beprepared.com (Homepage)

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The melt down of three nuclear reactors at Fukushima in the wake of the earthquake and tsunami of 11th March 2011 seems to have quietly slipped out of our collective awareness – as quietly as the cauldrons of radioactive elements that were once within the active cores of the reactors invisibly bleed into the groundwaters and seawaters of the region. This event has become yet another minor detail in the distorted mosaic of ruin that mirrors the latter days of a civilisation in free-fall.

Arnie Gundersen is looking a little weathered these days. He has just returned from a five-week long speaking tour of Japan. He spent much of that time in the company of many whose lives have been indelibly seared by the Fukushima catastrophe. What he reports is unlikely to appear in the mainstream media, but such has ever been the case when it comes to the hidden machinations of big government and big business.’

Read more: The Slow Bleed: Fukushima Radiation Five Years On

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| 14 April 2016 | A massive deadly earthquake that hit Japan left many fearing a Fukushima-like tragedy could happen after the epicentre rocked homes and building just miles from THREE nuclear reactors. At least three people have died after the quake levelled homes and businesses in the city of Kumamoto, on the island of Kyushu, earlier today. The initial earthquake hit just seven miles to the east of the city and measured 6.4 magnitude. A second tremor, measuring 5.9, then hit the region just hours later – causing more destruction.

Nuclear reactor fears after huge earthquake strikes Japan leaving 3 dead and hundreds hurt

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| 12 April 2016 | The radioactive material, tritium, is nearly impossible to remove from the huge quantities of water used to cool melted-down reactors at the Fukushima Dai-ichi plant, which was wrecked in March 2011. The water is still accumulating since 300 tons are needed every day to keep the reactors chilled. Some is leaking into the ocean. Huge tanks lined up around the plant, at last count 1,000 of them, each hold hundreds of tons of water that have been cleansed of radioactive cesium and strontium but not of tritium…Calls to simply release the [radioactive] water into the Pacific Ocean are alarming many in Japan and elsewhere.

Japan prepares for release of radioactive material from Fukushima nuclear plant

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| 06 April 2016 | Communities in northern Japan are being overwhelmed by radioactive wild boars which are rampaging across the countryside after being contaminated by the Fukushima nuclear disaster. The animals’ numbers are increasing as the boar breed unhindered in the exclusion zone around the stricken Fukushima Daiichi plant, and they are causing damage to farms well beyond the area poisoned by radiation. Hunters are shooting the boars as fast as they can, but local cities are running out of burial space and incinerator capacity to dispose of their corpses.

Radioactive boars run wild around Fukushima nuclear reactors

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U.S.-bound plutonium that has recently been shipped out of Japan will be disposed of at a nuclear waste repository in New Mexico after being processed at the Savannah River Site facility in South Carolina, according to an official of the National Nuclear Security Administration.

“The plutonium will be diluted into a less sensitive form at the SRS and then transported to the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant (WIPP) for permanent disposal deep underground,” said Ross Matzkin-Bridger, who is in charge of the operation at the NNSA, a nuclear wing of the Department of Energy.

“The dilution process involves mixing the plutonium with inert materials that reduce the concentration of plutonium and make it practically impossible to ever purify again,” he said in a recent phone interview.

The official made the remarks ahead of the latest Nuclear Security Summit, sponsored by President Barack Obama, which began Thursday in Washington.

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In early February, the anti-narcotic unit of the Tokyo police was in the limelight after arresting Kazuhiro Kiyohara, a former star professional baseball player, on suspicion of unlawfully possessing stimulant drugs. But the case is just a tip of the iceberg as illegal drugs keep permeating through Japanese society with no end in sight.

A former anti-drug police officer has pointed to a lack of ability on the part of the authorities charged with controlling narcotics such as the police and the health ministry, saying, “Why did it take so long to arrest a guy like Kiyohara who had been heavily dependent on drugs?”

Indeed, it was in March 2014 that the weekly Shukan Bunshun magazine reported that Kiyohara, who had long been rumored to be using stimulant drugs since the 1990s, was rushed to a hospital after suffering drug poisoning.

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