Fukushima Reactor Global Security Issue: Japanese Former Diplomat
Thursday, June 7, 2012
Tokyo- (PanOrient News) The Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Plant Number 4 reactor presents a security problem for the entire world, Mitsuhei Murata, Japan's former ambassador to Switzerland said.Fukushima Daiichi plants are "not under control at all... and the situation with nuclear reactors in Japan is like vehicles being driven without a license," Mr. Murata told a news conference at the foreign correspondents' club of Japan on June 5. Four nuclear plants in Fukushima Daiichi were damaged by last year’s great earthquake and tsunami. Recently, people have expressed concerns about Unit 4’s spent fuel pool which stores more than 1500 rods. The unit would be too fragile to withstand an M7-class earthquake.The Japanese government also thinks that the Unit 4 problem is critical, and are planning to move many of the rods from the pool in 2013. 324 Civic organizations from all over the world have submitted a petition called "An Urgent Request for UN Intervention to Stabilize the Fukushima Unit 4 Spent Nuclear Fuel", Mr. Murata said noting that those organizations are also demanding a moratorium on Japan's nuclear reactors. "This reflects a loss of confidence in the government and Tokyo Electric Power Company, TEPCO,” he said. Expressing strong anxiety regarding Japan's nuclear policy, Murata revealed he had advised PM Yoshihiko Noda that the only way to restore honor for Japan and himself as prime minister is to establish a national policy by August of non-dependence on nuclear energy. Warning of the acute danger of Unit 4. at Fukushima Daiichi, Murata said that recent revised estimates by the Japanese government found that the probability of a 7.0 magnitude earthquake in Fukushima within the next three years is 90%. "But Unit 4 reactor, which was substantially damaged by the tsunami and subsequent explosion will not survive a 7.0 magnitude earthquake," he said. He pointed out "the nuclear village and nuclear dictatorship is exposed, and public opinion and their movements are strong.”Nuclear village is a term for the Japanese distorted social structure in which the pronuclear politicians, scholars and companies have more power than those who are skeptical of nuclear energy. Anti-nuclear protests have been ignored for more than 40 years.He concluded that "the lessons of Fukushima have reminded the whole world of the great principle for humanity. The possibility for unbearable consequences must be zero" and stressed the need for “the shift from priority of economy to priority toward life. The true cause for the present crisis is lack of ethics."Mr. Murata was Japan’s ambassador to Switzerland form 1996 to 1999.
City in Fukushima to seek redress from TEPCO over damage to hospital, water supply operations
June 04, 2012(Mainichi Japan)
Crisis hotline faces overload / 20,000 calls received each day by call center set up after earthquake"Tomoko Endo, secretariat chief of the support center, said: "I'm sure there are many other people who have serious problems. I want the government to expand this kind of support system."
The Yomiuri Shimbun
A government-subsidized free telephone consultation service that started in March in response to growing social problems after the Great East Japan Earthquake is being overwhelmed, it has been learned.
Calls from people with various worries have surpassed the hotline's capacity. This reflects the severity of the current social climate, as the hotline takes many calls about serious concerns such as "I want to die" and "I haven't eaten anything for five days."
The around-the-clock service, named "Yorisoi (staying together) Hotline," is operated by the Shakaiteki Hosetsu (social inclusion) Support Center, a general incorporated association based in Tokyo.
As a support service that accepts calls about issues such as poverty, unemployment and bullying, the hotline has become a well-known resource. About 20,000 calls are received each day but only about 1,200 of them are connected.
At each of the hotline's 38 call centers located throughout the nation, 30 lines are open from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. At other times 10 lines are available. Two consultants are in charge of one line and a total of about 1,200 counseling staff take turns accepting calls.
Local lawyers who have cooperated with the project provide advice when needed. If problems are life-threatening, support staff from welfare organizations rush to callers' locations.
As awareness of the hotline spread through word of mouth on the Internet and other means, it became difficult to get through to a consultant. Currently, a call is only connected after 20 attempts on average.
About 70 percent of problems concern everyday issues, with many of the callers in their 30s to 50s. Their problems are mainly about poverty and solitude. Their troubles include "I lost my house after I became unemployed," "There is no point in living" and "I just wanted to talk with someone."
A man in his 30s who lost his job and has applied for welfare called for help, saying, "I have no money and haven't eaten anything for days." The consultant who took his call judged the man was in a life-threatening condition from his worn-out voice. The consultant contacted a support center, which delivered some food to him. The man was grateful, saying, "No one had helped me before even though I consulted some offices."
Twenty percent of consultations are about suicide. A man in his 30s called the hotline at the end of March, saying, "I have prepared a kitchen knife as I intend to kill myself." The man was quoted by a consultant as saying he was a bachelor whose parents had passed away. He had to quit his job due to illness. The consultant listened to his woes for two hours before contacting a support center. A staff member then raced to help the man. The man is now starting to regain his will to live, according to the support center.
Consultations about violence against women and sexual issues each account for 6 percent of calls.
Tomoko Endo, secretariat chief of the support center, said: "I'm sure there are many other people who have serious problems. I want the government to expand this kind of support system."
The center started the hotline service in Sendai in October last year. The hotline was chosen as an assistance project by the Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry, which aims to help people solve their problems when facing difficulties. After receiving subsidies of around 2.1 billion yen from the government, the hotline service has expanded nationwide.
Dounreay staff offer advice on Japan's Fukushima
Japan is trying to deal with the aftermath of the Fukushima Daiichi disaster
Efforts to clean up a seabed off Scotland's coast could provide Japan with solutions to dealing with its earthquake-hit Fukushima nuclear plant.
Radioactive particles were flushed from Dounreay in Caithness into the sea through the plant's liquid discharge pipe in the 1960s and 1970s.
The fragments contaminated local beaches and seabed. Work to recover the seabed particles started in 2008.
Staff from Dounreay have been to Japan to offer advice.
The Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant was crippled after being hit by a tsunami in the aftermath of a huge earthquake in March 2011.
Radiation leaks were recorded following subsequent explosions and fires.
Late last month, power company Tepco said reactors at the plant were stable.
But there was concern about the spent fuel pool on the top floor of the badly damaged reactor number four building.
If it collapses, it could cause another catastrophe, officials have warned. But Tepco said it has reinforced the structure against another earthquake.
Meanwhile, tens of thousands of residents remain evacuated from an exclusion zone around the plant.
Phil Cartwright, senior manager in charge of contaminated land clean up at Dounreay, said lessons learned in Scotland could help Japan deal with radioactive contamination.
He said: "At Dounreay, we had a release of radioactive material beyond the site, increasing public anxiety in the late 1990s about the potential health effects and controls put in place to protect public health."
A strategy was produced to deal with contamination, including efforts to detect and recover particles from the seabed near the site, he said.
Mr Cartwright added: "Japan is at the start of a much bigger clean-up project with significant challenges both on and off site but the issues they face are similar to those we had to work through, even though ours were on a much smaller and more localised scale.
"They were very interested in our experience."
Dounreay has already donated equipment to Japan for use in dealing with the damaged Fukushima Daiichi complex.
Dounreay Site Restoration Limited (DSRL) gathered a van-load of respirators, hand-held radiation survey kit, masks and suits.
The equipment was driven to Sellafield, in Cumbria, for distribution.