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Japan Power News

Japan's Nuclear Refugees, Still Stuck In Limbo 78

Posted by Soulskill
from the moving-at-the-speed-of-bureaucracy dept.
mdsolar tips this story at the NY Times: "Every month, Hiroko Watabe, 74, returns for a few hours to her abandoned house near the damaged Fukushima nuclear plant to engage in her own small act of defiance against fate. She dons a surgical mask, hangs two radiation-measuring devices around her neck and crouches down to pull weeds. She is desperate to keep her small yard clean to prove she has not given up on her home, which she and her family evacuated two years ago after a 9.0 earthquake and a tsunami devastated the plant five miles away. Not all her neighbors are willing to take the risk; chest-high weeds now block the doorways of their once-tidy homes. 'In my heart, I know we can never live here again,' said Ms. Watabe, who drove here with her husband from Koriyama, the city an hour away where they have lived since the disaster. 'But doing this gives us a purpose. We are saying that this is still our home.' While the continuing environmental disaster at the Fukushima Daiichi plant has grabbed world headlines — with hundreds of tons of contaminated water flowing into the Pacific Ocean daily — a human crisis has been quietly unfolding. Two and a half years after the plant belched plumes of radioactive materials over northeast Japan, the almost 83,000 nuclear refugees evacuated from the worst-hit areas are still unable to go home."
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Japan's Nuclear Refugees, Still Stuck In Limbo

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  • How about.... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by durrr (1316311) on Wednesday October 02, 2013 @03:45PM (#45018009)

    That you give us actual fucking measurement numbers in millisievert per unit of time instead of scaremongering with ambigious definitions.

    If I were 74 years old and my home had an annual 5mSv radiation dose(technically in excess of 2x civilian limits). I would live there, whole fucking year. And if I die of cancer, I'd have done so anyway.

    • Re:How about.... (Score:5, Informative)

      by Russ1642 (1087959) on Wednesday October 02, 2013 @03:48PM (#45018067)

      It's not that simple. It isn't a constant exposure. You hang around long enough and you'll ingest stuff, which is a whole other ball game.

      • by durrr (1316311)

        Import food and use rainwater reserviours/wells.
        Trying to present it as more dangerous by saying "you're too stupid to understand this terribly complex affliction" is just a bullshit alarmism tactic for hiding your ignorance.

        • by Russ1642 (1087959)

          I was simply saying that they can't simply provide a measure of the radiation exposure and report it. You'd basically have to do a long-term study to figure out what the danger from exposure is. Care to volunteer?

          • by Anonymous Coward

            I was simply saying that they can't simply provide a measure of the radiation exposure and report it. You'd basically have to do a long-term study to figure out what the danger from exposure is. Care to volunteer?

            No, because am young (30). But if I where 74 and volunteering meant staying in my home that I had lived in for many years. I would do it. So let her volunteer. Then spend a few days educating this people and then let them return if their over 50.

          • There are already effectively volunteers - There's a fair number of old folks who moved back into their homes on the outskirts of Chernobyl. Thus far their cancer rates are tracking with that of those outside the affected area.

            It's my understanding that it's a group a lot like one set of my grandparents - they consider that one spot home and want to stay there, risks or no risks.

        • Re:How about.... (Score:4, Insightful)

          by dunkelfalke (91624) on Wednesday October 02, 2013 @04:04PM (#45018263)

          And also don't breathe. Because dust can be radioactive.
          Maybe the people aren't as stupid as you think they are. Maybe you are not as clever as you think you are.

        • Re:How about.... (Score:5, Insightful)

          by AmiMoJo (196126) * <mojoNO@SPAMworld3.net> on Wednesday October 02, 2013 @04:05PM (#45018269) Homepage

          Yeah, a 74 year old woman is going live like a fucking frontier pioneer.

          I don't think you understand what those people even miss. It's not the building or their land, it's the home they had and the community it existed in. Both are gone now and can never come back - even if they finished decontamination tomorrow half the people have moved on with their lives and won't come back.

          • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

            by Solandri (704621)
            It's worth pointing out that this sort of dislocation of people from their homes is hardly unique to nuclear plants. Construction of Three Gorges Dam [wikipedia.org] included forcefully relocating 1.3 million people. Itaipu [stanford.edu] required relocating 59,000 people. About 3000 were relocated for Grand Coulee [wikipedia.org]. And the failure of the Banqiao series of hydroelectric dams [wikipedia.org] resulted in 11 million people losing their homes (in addition to ~170,000 being killed).

            At least with Fukushima, these people were dislocated only because of
            • by AmiMoJo (196126) *

              Not, it's not worth pointing out. The fact that other people have been forced out of their homes does not lessen the suffering of the Fukushima refugees. Also, comparisons between Japan, the world's third largest economy and a very modern democratic country, with places like China are not very useful.

              Most people will never be able to reclaim their homes or most of their possessions. It either isn't possible or isn't worth decontaminating them so at best they may be replaced, but then they will be left with

          • by squizzar (1031726)

            I thought the WHO did a study that discovered the effects of mass evacuations were far more damaging than simply staying in the affected areas were - that the stress caused by panic and hysteria over doses of radiation that aren't particularly high is more damaging than the radiation could be. This is the first google result I could find [financialpost.com] but I'm sure there was a proper report from the WHO.

            I also notice that the rhetoric has changed from 'all radiation is deadly evil' to 'ok it's probably not that bad... bu

        • Re:How about.... (Score:4, Informative)

          by nospam007 (722110) * on Wednesday October 02, 2013 @06:18PM (#45019911)

          "Import food and use rainwater reserviours/wells."

          Nice try, but they'll live in tents for the rest of their life.
          That's THE risk of nuclear power, they have no insurance, so you'll get about 10.000 bucks for your lavish home if you're lucky.
          BTW on other news, the Swiss are complaining to the EU that Germany ruins their nuke Spiel by exporting cheap Solar and Wind energy to Switzerland, a third cheaper (4 cents instead of 6), so even their pumping reservoirs aren't being used anymore for spikes at midday, Germans solar power is way cheaper.

      • Re: (Score:1, Interesting)

        Is the situation at all like Chernobyl? My understanding is that wildlife there is strangely thriving. Possible this isn't true, but it may be interesting.

        Maybe, maybe not. [wikipedia.org]
      • by sjames (1099)

        At 74, it'd still be a reasonable bet.

    • Re:How about.... (Score:4, Interesting)

      by AmiMoJo (196126) * <mojoNO@SPAMworld3.net> on Wednesday October 02, 2013 @04:00PM (#45018215) Homepage

      Even if you don't care about your own life long term, what do you expect your life to be like living there? No younger people will go there, most of your neighbours will have gone, no services, no support. As an added bonus any chance of getting compensation will disappear because you proved your home is habitable. Of course everything in it is worthless now, at least until it is decontaminated and most of it just isn't worth the hassle. That is assuming it even works, a lot of stuff fails if not maintained or used for a couple of years.

      Also cancer tends to be a painful and unpleasant death, so it's not something you just decide to take a chance on. Don't expect the doctor to visit you in the exclusion zone either.

    • by TKane (1069880)
      Check out the graphics in the article. They have a friendly color coded map. Green is 50. There is a lot of red on the map.
      • Re:How about.... (Score:4, Informative)

        by Tailhook (98486) on Wednesday October 02, 2013 @05:28PM (#45019343)

        Green is 50

        No. The green is clearly labeled "Less than 20". The yellow is 20-50 mSv / year, 50 being the annual limit for workers in the US.

        There is a lot of red on the map.

        Looks like about 15 sq. miles of red, unintended nature preserve, with >50 mSv/year. All the iodine-131 is long gone so that map is depicting cesium and strontium decay, which will persist for 300 years.

    • by citizenr (871508)

      actual readings are less than Chernobyl exclusion zone (that is being repopulated for over 3 years now).

    • That you give us actual fucking measurement numbers in millisievert per unit of time instead of scaremongering with ambigious definitions.

      If I were 74 years old and my home had an annual 5mSv radiation dose(technically in excess of 2x civilian limits). I would live there, whole fucking year. And if I die of cancer, I'd have done so anyway.

      Well the city of Namie (within the 10km radius) that is mentioned in the story, was sort of lucky and didn't get all that much fallout and has something like the 5mSv of a yearly dose rate like you mention. But it i surrounded by other communities that has more than 10-20 times higher dose rates, even though some of them are further out in the 20-30 km radius. There is no scaremongering, just reporting on a serious situation. Also I don't think a 74 year old woman is likely to do very well in a communit

  • by Hatta (162192) on Wednesday October 02, 2013 @03:49PM (#45018073) Journal

    How about letting the elderly live there? It takes time for low level radiation to cause tumors. If you're old enough that you won't be around to see the cancer, you have nothing to worry about.

    • by a.d.trick (894813) on Wednesday October 02, 2013 @03:57PM (#45018183) Homepage
      Old people usually need younger people to take care of them.
  • I propose a challenge.

    I challenge the wealthy individuals that have made The Giving Pledge to fix this problem.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Giving_Pledge [wikipedia.org]

    These people are the wealthiest people on the planet. They have the greatest level of resources available to them, both in the form of personal wealth and that of continued control of the worlds most powerful--and capable--corporations on the planet.

    I challenge you--those that have made the pledge--to set aside your differences, political and financial

    • Re:A challenge. (Score:5, Insightful)

      by CrimsonAvenger (580665) on Wednesday October 02, 2013 @03:56PM (#45018171)

      Umm, just exactly what problem are you asking them to solve?

      I thought the subject was Fukushima, which is NOT "a threat to all life on our planet".

      • Re: (Score:1, Troll)

        by Anachragnome (1008495)

        "I thought the subject was Fukushima, which is NOT "a threat to all life on our planet"

        You don't see four nuclear reactors leaking radioactive substances directly into the ocean as a threat to life on this planet? Do you realize that TEPCO has no plan to even decommission these reactors, let alone clean up the mess that they have now? I don't think you realize the seriousness of the situation. This is potentially far greater then Chernobyl. There are four reactors, all the associated hardware and 4 spent fu

        • I guess then the new cover building and fuel transport crane that has been built over unit 4, doesn't exist. Not to mention all of the work to restore the service floor and fuel handing machinery plus the testing and inspections that are being done in preparation of starting to remove stored fuel next month is a figment of peoples imagination. The 123 pgase updated TEPCO decomissioning plan approved June 27 by Japan's Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry must be a fairy tail. Care to try again with som
        • by khallow (566160)

          You don't see four nuclear reactors leaking radioactive substances directly into the ocean as a threat to life on this planet?

          You got it right in my case as well. I don't see that because it isn't a threat to life on this planet.

          TEPCO is in charge of this mess...and they do next to nothing. Do you have any better ideas?

          Sure, move that stuff aside, recycle what nuclear fuel you can, and let the rest cool down for a few centuries. Meanwhile, build a new group of reactors there. You have this great place for nuclear reactors - plenty of land, water, and it even has a nice wide exclusion zone. And now you know how bad earthquakes and tsunami can get. So that particular disaster will never catch you off guard again.

          For the

          • by MrKaos (858439)

            You don't see four nuclear reactors leaking radioactive substances directly into the ocean as a threat to life on this planet?

            You got it right in my case as well. I don't see that because it isn't a threat to life on this planet.

            Personally I go off of evidence. The evidence for this danger is in the nature of bioaccumulation and the quantity and type of radionuclides being released, which is being suppressed. I get really tired of people ranting about "it isn't a threat to life on this planet" who couldn't even figure out basic risk management. Risk management can handle long term risks as well as short term ones.

            In reality there is a threat, it's just difficult to quantify. A more accurate statement would be "We don't know what

            • by khallow (566160)

              Personally I go off of evidence. The evidence for this danger is in the nature of bioaccumulation and the quantity and type of radionuclides being released, which is being suppressed. I get really tired of people ranting about "it isn't a threat to life on this planet" who couldn't even figure out basic risk management. Risk management can handle long term risks as well as short term ones.

              At least, you have the language down. Now all you need is the thinking. I suggest starting by looking at evidence.

              So, pu-239 presents to the metabolism as a micro-nutrient. In Plutonium's case it presents as Iron to a metabolism. In the ocean a *lack* of iron is what stops metabolic processes, so Iron is readily absorbed ergo Plutonium is readily absorbed. So a small sea creature absorbs the plutonium and it gets eaten by steadily larger creatures, like a fish and then it's in the human food chain. Considering the size and variety of the human food chain, this is inevitable more than once.

              Scary, dangerous radiation isn't the only thing that dissolves in water. Let us keep in mind that there is a lot of steel in the structure of Fukushima and that dissolves in water as well. So we have trace amounts of plutonium mixed in with non-trace amounts of iron. Iron bio-accumulates too.

              A single micro gram of plutonium is a fatal dose to a human being when ingested.

              Nope. If it is breathed in, that's the claimed lethal dosage. We need to recall that this may be a bit of

              • by MrKaos (858439)

                At least, you have the language down. Now all you need is the thinking. I suggest starting by looking at evidence.

                As I pointed out, the evidence is not being made available which is why I said it's just difficult to quantify. A more accurate statement would be "We don't know what threat Fukushima poses to life on this planet" . In absence of hard data the only thing that remains is estimations, known facts about operational characteristics of the reactors, the status of the reactor during the disaster a

        • You don't see four nuclear reactors leaking radioactive substances directly into the ocean as a threat to life on this planet?

          No, I don't. Perhaps because I have an idea of how much natural radioactivity is already in the oceans of the world (hint: grind up the four reactors in question, and dump them into the oceans, and you won't even be able to measure the increase over backgound).

          The numbers for Fukushima sound really big, But once you spread them through 1,250,000T tons of water, they don't look s

          • by fritsd (924429)

            No, I don't. Perhaps because I have an idea of how much natural radioactivity is already in the oceans of the world (hint: grind up the four reactors in question, and dump them into the oceans, and you won't even be able to measure the increase over backgound). The numbers for Fukushima sound really big, But once you spread them through 1,250,000T tons of water, they don't look so significant....

            I suddenly have a mental image of Fat Bastard (from Austin Powers fame) in a full train waggon, having just fart

        • by Anonymous Coward

          What a tragic example of ignorance and innumeracy.

          The overwhelming majority (>95%) of radioactivity released into the environment was realeased in the first week after the accident. All other releases are extremely minor; a trickle. That includes all the enormously hyped water "issues" that everyone is hearing about. The entire amount of radioactivity released into the Pacific Ocean since the accident is only on the order of one millionth the overall amount of naturally-occurring radioactivity in that

        • by lennier (44736)

          Do you realize that TEPCO has no plan to even decommission these reactors, let alone clean up the mess that they have now?

          Arguably "decommissioning" Fukushima Da-ichi isn't a problem because the reactors are already way, way out of commission. Decommissioning is what you do to unexploded reactors. The problem now is containment (very difficult because of groundwater flow) and then cleanup (a very long-term job).

          There is no current plan to remove those spent rods--they just sit there.

          Actually TEPCO is planning on moving the spent fuel rods from the mostly-unexploded reactor come November, but they're going to want to do it very very carefully [reuters.com]. Getting them moved seems like an important thing, but ac

    • by MightyYar (622222)

      You want them to spend their money fixing a problem in a rich country? A problem well within the financial ability of Japan to pay on its own? Gee, where do I sign up for donations?

  • I am really friekin' confused as to the radiation around Fukushima.

    She considers weeding her driveway so risky that she waved away a visitor who offered to help, pointing to her dosimeter showing readings two and a half times the level that would normally force an evacuation.

    Why is the radiation in her driveway so high? Why is it safe to walk around there, but not to weed the driveway?

    Every time she visits, she said, she receives a dose equivalent to one or two chest X-rays even if she remains indoor

    Where is that radiation coming from if they are inside their house?

    • by AmiMoJo (196126) * <mojoNO@SPAMworld3.net> on Wednesday October 02, 2013 @05:56PM (#45019707) Homepage

      The radioactive material from Fukushima Daiichi accumulates in the soil and in the plants. Digging and pulling plants out of the ground is pretty much one of the most dangerous things you can do around there.

      • by MobyDisk (75490)

        But the soil contamination flowed from the plant, toward the sea, not toward land. So how did the soil further inland get contaminated?

        • by AmiMoJo (196126) *

          It's not like a liquid that flows in one direction, it gets blown around and spread in all directions.

  • by mdsolar (1045926) on Wednesday October 02, 2013 @05:47PM (#45019603) Homepage Journal
    The problem seems to be not knowing if the clean up will happen or not. Since no one knows how to do the job, that is not too surprising. But, at least there is a promise of compensation for lost property if the clean up is a no go. If the same thing were to happen at Indian Point, the NRC has said there would be zero compensation. http://www.nextgov.com/defense/2013/09/new-york-wonders-where-nuclear-cleanup-funds-would-come/70800/?oref=ng-dropdown [nextgov.com] And, if you check your home owners policy, there is nothing there either.
  • by tlambert (566799) on Wednesday October 02, 2013 @06:53PM (#45020243)

    Radiation levels & evacuation

    The Japanese government is coming close to lifting the evacuation order; the radiation is declining quickly. Here are the cumulative numbers from 3/23/2011 to 5/2/2011:

    5/2/2011: 24.14 milli-sieverts (3/23 - 5/1); +2.99 milli-sieverts from previous week)
    4/25/2011: 21.15 milli-sieverts (3/23 - 4/24; +3.17 milli-sieverts from previous week)
    4/18/2011: 17.98 milli-sieverts (3/23 - 4/17; +3.5 milli-sieverts from previous week)
    4/11/2011: 14.48 milli-sieverts (3/23 - 4/10; +4.14 milli-sieverts from previoius week)
    4/4/2011: 10.34 milli-sieverts (3/23 - 4/3; +5.527 milli-sieverts from previous week)
    3/28/2011: 4.813 milli-sieverts (3/23 - 3/27; +3.276 milli-sieverts in 3 days)
    3/25/2011: 1.537 milli-sieverts (3/23 - 3/24)

    Source: http://www.mext.go.jp/a_menu/saigaijohou/syousai/1304002.htm [mext.go.jp]

    They intend to allow unrestricted repopulation of the area in early 2017. To get the 20 mSev level for 40 days, they had to pick the days right after the disaster.

    The radiation levels are actually not that high these days, since most of the continuing leakages is from the poorly isolated holding pond, which they have failed to repair, into the the ocean, as opposed to into the air, which is what happened initially.

    • by AmiMoJo (196126) *

      Those are the overall levels measured in free air. Because the material accumulates there are hot spots everywhere, and activities like playing or digging in the earth are dangerous. The government won't allow people back until the decontamination is complete, and at the moment it looks unlikely to be done by 2017 because in areas where it has been attempted it has failed.

      In any case, how many people do you think will want to go back after 6 years? They will have moved on, got new jobs, maybe started a fami

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Let me start by saying that the govt's policy about not giving compensation if they think that people's homes can be cleaned isn't right. For all homes within regions that are over 20 mSv/year (the evacuation threshold), the owner should be given full compensation, to buy a new home elsewhere, if they want it. Not only is it uncertain how long cleanup will take, but it should be their choice. I also take the point about how if an area has been evacuated, it is hard to restart a society and economy, which

    • by mdsolar (1045926)
      Jim,

      Just click "log in" in the upper right and you'll be offered a chance to get a laughably high user number like mine. I think you are mistaken on a number of areas here. For example, people can buy flood insurance. They can't buy nuclear accident insurance.
  • I know that feeling, it can be a challenging game at times. But I'm sure these refugees are smart enough to figure out the puzzles if they persist.

Entropy requires no maintenance. -- Markoff Chaney

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