General Electric is facing another Fukushima-related legal battle after property owners and businesses near the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant filed a $500 million class-action lawsuit against the US nuclear reactor manufacturer for negligence that led to multiple reactor explosions and meltdowns in March 2011.
Plaintiffs in the suit, which was filed in the Massachusetts District Court in Boston on Nov. 17, claim that the earthquake and tsunami that triggered the meltdowns was predictable given regional history and that the explosions were a result of deficiencies in GE-designed reactors.
The nuclear disaster caused large swathes of land to be contaminated, forcing the evacuation of around 160,000 residents, the majority of whom are still unable to return to their homes.
Among the plaintiffs are businesses – most notably clinics and other medical entities, located in parts of the radiation-contaminated area near the nuclear plant, which is currently in the early stages of a 40-year decommissioning plan, which includes the removal of melted nuclear fuel from four devastated reactors.
They claim that the disasters were also a result of cost-cutting measures by GE during the construction of the plant, among them the lopping down of a 35-meter high bluff next to the Pacific coast.
While this made the pumping of seawater to cool the reactors during normal operation easier, it also meant some of the plant’s most crucial safety apparatus were located below sea level. This had “dramatically increased the flood risk,” according to the plaintiffs.
Indeed, the location of those safety apparatus meant they were rendered inoperable by the massive tsunamis that inundated the plant, knocking out all electrical power supplies.
The resulting disaster, which is expected to cost more than $200 billion to clear up, had turned the area around the plant into a ghost town to which nobody will return, the plaintiffs claim.
Fukushima Daiichi was designed and constructed by GE and Tokyo Electric Power Co. (TEPCO) and commenced operations in 1971. All of its six reactors were designed by GE, three of them supplied directly by the US multinational conglomerate, which is headquartered in Boston.
From an early stage, GE engineers expressed concerns about the company’s BWR-3 Mark I reactor design – which was also used at Fukushima Daiichi.
The plaintiff also argue that the region in which the plant is located is notoriously quake-prone and experts had long warned of historical evidence that a massive tsunami could strike the coastal area near the plant.
TEPCO was itsef aware of this and had raised the height of its ocean defences to 5.7 meters, though these were easily breached by the 15-meter tsunami that hit the region in March 2011.
The lawsuit follows two other cases this year, both in Japan, against TEPCO and the Japanese government, which resulted in payouts totally almost $5 million to residents who were forced to evacuate their homes by the disasters.
Meanwhile, TEPCO and GE are currently being sued in a U.S. court by around 400 US sailors who claim to have been sickened by radiation that was emitted from the plant and passed over them as they were stationed on boats anchored off the Pacific coast. The sailors, many of whom were part of a 5,000-strong relief team aboard the USS Ronald Reagan, had been taking part in relief operations in the tsunami-affected area.
The Japanese government has been left with egg on its face after the bulk of municipalities in the tsunami-ravaged Tohoku region spurned an exchange program connected to the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games.
Just 11 of 127 municipalities in the three prefectures that were worst hit by the March 2011 earthquake have signed up for the Reconstruction “Arigato” Host Town international exchange program, with the 116 that snubbed it saying they were simply too busy focusing on rebuilding their tsunami-wrecked towns.
The Japanese government saw the program as a way to push reconstruction in the region as a central theme for the Tokyo Olympics, which many have seen as little more than an effort to placate those in the region who from the outset were critical of Japan even bidding for the Games.
The idea behind the program was to allow athletes, rescue workers and others who have provided support to the disaster victims to see the ongoing rebuilding programs in the three worst-hit prefectures -- Miyagi, Iwate and Fukushima.
According to media reports enthusiasm for the project was so muted that government officials were forced to push those municipalities that did eventually agree into participating.
According to one Miyagi resident, who works for a local NPO supporting residents in the devastated region, such projects were merely a show.
"Tens of thousands of Tohoku residents continue to live in temporary homes, without jobs and with financial, health and other problems that are not going to be solved by shaking the hand of an olympic athlete," the official said on condition of anonymity.
A study by Japanese scientists evaluating the biological impact of the 2011 Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster has uncovered growth differences in wild Japanese monkeys since the disaster.
Shin-ichi Hayama and colleagues at the Nippon Veterinary and Life Science University in Tokyo performed external measurements on fetuses collected from 2008 to 2016. They found that compared with the 31 fetuses conceived before March 11, 2011 -- the date if the disaster -- the 31 conceived after that date had "significantly lower" body weight growth rate and head size.
Hayama has been studying the monkeys since 2008, in particular the bodies of those wild monkeys that are part of annual culling, (or "systematic management," as Hayama calls it) by the Fukushima City government in order to curb the population of monkeys, which are well known for destroying agricultural crops. It was through these studies that Hayama became aware of the changes induced by the exposure to radiation that contaminated large swathes of land in Fukushima and caused the evacuation of around 160,00 residents.
The Fukushima disaster exposed a large number of humans and wild animals to radioactive substances, Hayama states in the paper, which is published in the peer-reviewed Scientific Reports, a Nature publication. While several studies of wild animals in Fukushima looked at the health effects of the disaster, such as abnormalities found in pale grass blue butterfly, carp and wild mice, "there is no research investigating long-term exposure to radiation on mammals that typically have long life-span to date," according to the study. "This study is the first report to observe long-term biological effects of the pre- and post-NPP disaster on non-human primates in Fukushima," it continues.
According to an article in Forbes, Hayama recently presented his research as part of the University of Chicago where he said: "I’m not a radiation specialist, but because I’ve been gathering data since 2008 ... it seems obvious to me that this is very important research. I’ve asked radiation specialists to take on this research, but they have never been willing to take this on because they say we don’t have any resources or time to spare because humans are much more important ... If we don’t keep records, there will be no evidence and it will be as if nothing happened.”
Hayama's team had previously studied radioactive exposure and its effect on the health of Japanese monkeys in Fukushima City. The prefecture capital is located approximately 70 km from the Fukushima No. 1 Nuclear Power Plant that experienced multiple meltdowns and explosions in March 2011, but had nonetheless shown high concentrations of radiocesium in its soil. The team looked into chronological changes in muscle radiocesium concentrations in monkeys inhabiting the city from April 2011 to June 2012. The cesium concentration in monkeys’ muscle captured at locations with high radioactive concentrations actually decreased over the 3 months following the disasters, only to increase again in some animals during and after December 2011, although it returned to previous levels the following April.
The results suggested that "the short-term exposure to some form of radioactive material resulted in hematological changes in Fukushima monkeys," according to that study.
"The effects associated with long-term low-dose radiation exposure on fetuses are among the many health concerns," Hayama states. "Children born to atomic bomb survivors from Hiroshima and Nagasaki showed low birth weight, high rates of microcephaly, and reduced intelligence due to abnormal brain development. Experiments with pregnant mice or rats and radiation exposure had been reported to cause low birth weight, microcephaly or both."
Hayama's team also identified a similar study on wild animals following the Chernobyl nuclear accident in 1986. The report found that "the brains of birds captured in the vicinity of the Chernobyl NPP weighted lower compared to those of birds captured elsewhere."
The full report can be found here
The Japan government has announced that soil contaminated by the Fukushima No. 1 Nuclear Power Plant will be transported to an intermediate storage site in on of the towns worst affected by the March 2011 nuclear disaster.
According to the announcement made by the Environment Ministry the relocation of the radioactive soil will commence on October 28, even though the amount of soil to be moved is more than double that of the land so far acquired to accommodate it.
The move sticks of desperation, with the growing number of temporary sites housing millions of bags of radioactive debris around Fukushima Prefecture becoming a veritable eyesore and yet another stigma on the shattered communities. The debris has been painstakingly collected in the aftermath of the march 11 2011 disaster, where the Fukushima No. 1 plant underwent multiple reactor meltdowns and explosions.
The newly created intermediate storage site, located in Okuma and Futaba towns, which house the plants 6 reactors, will cover a 16-sq.-km area and is designed to accommodate up to 22 million cubic meters of radioactive debris. It's lifespan is a maximum of 30 years, after which it will need to be transferred to more permanent storage.
Such permanent storage became a hot topic in September when the government drew up a nuclear waste map earmarking places throughout Japan where temporary storage facilities could be installed. Those facilities are estimated to take up to 100 years to complete
The environment ministry is continuing talks with landowners in the area with an eye to purchasing more land for the temporary storage site. So far it has managed to finalise acquisition agreements for just 40 percent of the required land for the project.
The facility was originally slated for the start of 2015 but found resistance from residents, causing several delays.
On Oct. 28, contaminated soil that has been stored within Okuma will be moved there and a similar facility is being scheduled on the Futaba side.
Following on from an earlier blog on Sept. 14, Japan’s nuclear watchdog has now approved safety measures implemented by TEPCO at its Kashiwazaki-Kariwa nuclear plant in Niigata, clearing the way for the restart of two of the reactors there.
The approval is the first for the beleaguered utility since the March 2011 nuclear disasters at its No. 1 nuclear power plant in Fukushima.
The Nuclear Regulation Authority said yesterday that the No. 6 and No. 7 reactors at the Kashiwazaki-Kariwa plant -- which is one of the world's largest -- now met the new safety criteria that was put into force following the multiple meltdowns explosions in Fukushima that forced the evacuation of around 160,000 residents.
Before the restarts take place, the NRA will seek approval from the public. Residents living near the plant are expected to oppose any restarts. It is believed by some experts that the plant sits atop as many as 23 seismic faults.
It will also ask the views of the head of the ministry of of economy, trade and industry, which will be charged with overseeing TEPCO's management policy concerning its restart initiative and its decommissioning of the stricken Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant.
Concerns have been raised about the utility's commitment and responsibility toward that decommissioning effort -- which is estimated to take 40 years. As mentioned in an earlier post, it came to light last month that workers at the Fukushima No. 1 plant had erroneously set water gauges to measure groundwater levels of wells around reactor buildings. As a result it is thought that leaks of highly contaminated water to the outside water, including the ocean, may well have taken place.
Local media is reporting that the restarts are not guaranteed even if TEPCO passes all the required tests and screenings. It also will be required to gain the approval of local governments
Niigata Governor Ryuichi Yoneyama has said that he will wait until his prefectural government completes its own investigation into the cause of the Fukushima disaster before making any decision on restarts at Kashiwazaki-kariwa plant. This is expected to take another three or four years to complete.
There is not a little irony in the NRA seeking approval from the industry ministry. As mentioned in Yoshida's Dilemma, the ministry was deemed to have been a key player in a number of nuclear industry scandals, including coverups involving the doctoring of data and airbrushing out reactor defects and the outing of industry whistleblowers. In the aftermath of the Fukushima disaster it was decided that the cozy ties between the nuclear industry and nuclear regulator should be severed and a new regulatory body, the NRA, that was completely unconnected to the economy ministry, was established. Experts have commented that there is a growing tendency for the NRA to start resembling its corrupt predecessor, NISA.
A Japanese court has ruled that Fukushima No. 1 Nuclear Power Plant operator TEPCO is responsible for the March 2011 nuclear accident that forced around 160,000 residents to evacuate their homes.
The district court in Chiba has ordered the utility to pay evacuees ¥376 million (US$3.3 million) in damages, considerably less than the the ¥2.8 billion sought by the 42 plaintiffs.
However, the same court has absolved the Japanese government of any responsibility in the multiple meltdowns and explosions at the nuclear facility, which was inundated by a megatsunami triggered by a magnitude 9 earthquake off the coast of northeast Japan on Mar. 11, 2011.
Judge Maseru Nakamoto of the district court in Chiba Prefecture, which is located just east of Tokyo, said the government "was able to foresee" but "may not have been able to avoid the accident" caused by the tsunami that smashed into the Fukushima plant around 45 minutes after the quake. Judge Nakamoto thus rejected demands by the plaintiffs that the the government also pay compensation.
As mentioned in Yoshida’s Dilemma, some 12,000 residents have filed around 30 class action lawsuits against TEPCO and the government. Each cases has revolved around whether the government and TEPCO, both responsible for disaster prevention measures, could possibly have predicted such a huge tsunami.
Yuichi Kaido, one of the lawyers representing the plaintiffs, said it was well-known that TEPCO knew of the possibility of a big tsunami hitting the region – the utility’s own research in 2010 had come to that conclusion, while paleo-tsunami research in the 1980s and then 2001 indicated similarly devastating historic tsunami – and once that became common knowledge it was likely that TEPCO would have to accept negligence liability, both from stockholders and public plaintiffs.
According to the Act on Compensation for Nuclear Damage, TEPCO must automatically acknowledge strict liability, Kaido said. “This means that unless the accident was unavoidable, an act of God, then they must accept responsibility. At first TEPCO claimed it was an unavoidable accident, but even the government rejected that.”
In a seemingly contradictory bid to escape any blame, TEPCO at first pointed a finger at the government nuclear regulators for not forcing the utility to comply with new regulations that were introduced to further bolster defenses against natural phenomena, he added.
Indeed, TEPCO had also sought to evade responsibility in order to dodge a compensation lawsuit by company stockholders against TEPCO’s management. In a notice dated Jan. 13, 2012, the utility’s corporate auditor denied any lack of due diligence on TEPCO’s part that would warrant a liabilities claim.
The latest judgment in Chiba plus others that have preceded it would seem to suggest he is right, and also, for the first time gave concrete recognition to the plaintiffs for their losses of homes, communities and livelihoods.
The daily Mainichi newspaper commented that six and a half years after the disasters the reconstruction of communities affected by the nuclear accident is still a distant prospect, even where evacuation orders have been lifted. Despite the government being absolved of legal responsibility, and despite the relatively small payout ordered, the Chiba court ruling could be seen as "a breakthrough" as it far exceeds previous compensation levels, the newspaper said.
There is also evidence that the government may have to accept some responsibility. In March this year the Maebashi District Court in Gunma held both TEPCO and the Japanese government responsible for the accident and ordered both parties to pay ¥38.55m ($0.34m) to 62 plaintiffs.
"The Maebashi District Court recognized the responsibility of both the government and TEPCO, but this ended up feeling like a victory in name only, with no 'reward.' " said Katsuyoshi Suzuki, lead counsel of the plaintiffs' legal team in the Maebashi court case "But it can be said that the Chiba decision finally reaped 'rewards,' '' he added at a gathering in Chiba before the recent ruling.
The issue of responsibility has long been a contentious one, with some plaintiffs, such as Ruiko Mutoh of the Fukushima Nuclear Accident Plaintiffs Association demanding that individuals also be held to account. In June this year, three former TEPCO executives went on trial, making them the only individuals to face a criminal lawsuit in connection with the 2011 disaster. While public prosecutors had previously refused to press charges against the men on two occasions due to what they believed was insufficient evidence and little chance of conviction, a judicial review panel made up of ordinary citizens ruled in 2015 that the trio should be put on trial.
TEPCO recently revealed that last week it received a ¥71.3bn ($640m) payout from the Nuclear Damage Compensation and Decommissioning Facilitation Corporation (NDF) as a funding grant to cover its compensation payouts.
The NDF is government-backed, meaning those funds, such as those used for cleanup operations to decommission the plant — including the building of a multibillion dollar ice wall to prevent contaminated water leaking from the plant — will come out of taxpayers’ pockets.
In an effort to recoup some of its own losses, TEPCO has enforced several electricity fee hikes.
Some of those losses have related to compensation handouts already made by the utility. The following is taken from the Mainichi:
The Maebashi District Court awarded a total of some 460 million yen in damages. However, based on "interim guidelines" set for TEPCO by the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology's Dispute Reconciliation Committee for Nuclear Damage Compensation in August 2011 to ensure swift payouts, it was decided that TEPCO had already paid about 420 million yen. As such, a total of only 38.55 million yen was awarded to 62 of the 137 plaintiffs. Complaints followed that voices of the evacuees decrying their psychological pain had not been heard.
However, in the Chiba case, TEPCO was ordered to pay 42 out of the 45 plaintiffs a total of roughly 376 million yen, even after some 650 million yen was judged as already having been paid by the company under the "interim guidelines." It was pointed out that the guidelines only set a minimum baseline for compensation, and upon considering the individual cases, the court granted the large damages award.
Stricken Fukushima No. 1 Nuclear Power Plant operator TEPCO recently admitted that incorrectly configured monitoring equipment at the plant meant the groundwater flowing beneath the plant from the nearby Abukuma mountains may have become contaminated since April.
In order to mitigate a longstanding groundwater problem — that some experts, including a prime minister’s advisor, claim existed since the 1970s — TEPCO sunk numerous wells. According to the utility incorrect gauge settings were used to measure groundwater levels in six of those wells, which are situated near reactors 1 through 4, all of which were which were destroyed by the 2011 nuclear disasters.
The water gauges had been installed with the specific aim of keeping groundwater levels in the wells a meter higher than the contaminated water in the buildings. However, the faulty monitoring equipment meant groundwater readings were about 70 cm lower than what TEPCO was measuring, meaning contaminated water had been leaking into the ground for almost 6 months.
Between May 17 and 21, groundwater reportedly fell as much as 20 cm below the safety levels at least eight times.
Two reactors at Tokyo Electric Power Co.'s Kashiwazaki-Kariwa nuclear plant in Niigata Prefecture came into the news yesterday, with media sources proffering widely differing views regarding the question about their fitness for restart.
While the Asahi indicated that Japan’s nuclear watchdog, the Nuclear Regulation Authority, had given “conditional approval” Sept. 13 to TEPCO’s application to resume operations of its Kashiwazaki-Kariwa nuclear plant, the Japan Times, quoting Japanese news wires, stated that the reactors would be staying idle — for now.
The NRA had “held off certifying the safety of two idle reactors” at the Niigata plant due to “a lack of debate on specific safety measures taken,” the article continued.
Reports seemed to be in agreement, however, that once more tests had been undertaken, the restarting of one of the world’s largest nuclear power complexes was not far away, even if the NRA still harbours grave concerns about TEPCO’s fitness to operate a nuclear plant, especially, says the Asahi, given the utility’s “tendency to put its balance sheet ahead of safety precautions.”
The utility’s poor record in that department notwithstanding, concerns about the Niigata plant go much deeper than managerial competence or ethics. It has long been held by some seismologists and other experts that the Kashiwazaki-Kariwa nuclear plant sits on an active geological fault, although TEPCO and the Japanese government have long insisted the plant is seismically safe.
That claim was shown to be spurious a decade ago when on July 16, 2007, a powerful earthquake brought the nuclear plant to a standstill.
Of course, a nuclear plant coming to a standstill after a quake is no bad thing — emergency systems at nuclear plants are in place to ensure operations cease following a significant event, including natural disasters such as a magnitude 7 quake.
But it soon became obvious that the plant had experienced other potentially disastrous problems after the 2007 earthquake.
Aafter the quake, I headed straight up to Niigata, primarily to cover the disaster, which caused widespread devastation in Japan’s northeastern Chuetsu region, leaving tens of thousands of people homeless, but also to try and locate relatives of a friend who hailed from one of the worst-hit towns.
Even then there were rumours of a leak at the nuclear plant, and some residents who had been evacuated to temporary shelters said they were more fearful of a nuclear leak than the regular aftershocks that shook the area.
It was only a couple of years earlier that some of those residents -- backed by seismologists and other experts -- had tried to get the plant taken offline due to concerns of the active fault beneath the plant — a case that was summarily rejected.
As mentioned in my book, "Yoshida’s Dilemma", in the aftermath of the 2007 quake, when it came to light that hundreds of barrels of contaminated water had been toppled by the quake and that a door had been jammed preventing entry into the reactor control rooms, distrust in a system that had long seemed to side with the nuclear industry deepened.
“In 2007,” writes Temple University researcher Jeff Kingston in the Japan Times, “Mother Nature overruled the judge, raising questions about relying on old evaluations by institutions favoring nuclear energy in assessing site safety.”
Concerns surrounding the safety of the Niigata plant (and several others in Japan, for that matter), especially since the 2011 Fukushima nuclear disaster, have been at the centre of arguments by local politicians and residents who have been opposed to the its restart. Restarts of other nuclear plants in Japan face similar opposition, though the sheer size of Kashiwazaki-Kariwa — seven reactors with a capacity of 8,200 megawatts (enough to power 16 million households) all clustered together on one site — have added significant gravitas to those arguments.
Over the years, nuclear skeptics have been elected to power in Niigata Prefecture, largely due to concerns expressed by the world nuclear body, the IAEA, about the plant, but also due to the appearance of reports in 2002 regarding TEPCO’s falsification of data about some of its 17 reactors, in particular those in operation in Fukushima. In "Yoshida's Dilemma", I talk in length about these coverups, and the underhand way in which TEPCO exposed the identity of some of the whistleblowers who came forward to bring the utility's wrongdoing to light.
While slowly diminishing, public oppposition to nuclear restarts in Japan is still high, with one poll late last year showing 57 percent oppose recommencing operations of the nation’s nuclear fleet, though just under one-third support it.
That fleet had stood at 54 reactors, but has been significantly reduced since the 2011 disasters, placing further strain on the nation's electricity demands and a greater dependency on fossil fuels. A number of nuclear reactors are slated for decommissioning — including the six reactors at Fukushima No. 1 nuclear facility, the site of the 2011 accident, while others have been forced to close by the sheer weight of public opinion.
In Niigata, Governor Ryuichi Yoneyama has made efforts not toward preventing the reopening of the Kashiwazaki plant per se, but rather to ensure that prior to its restart all possible safety checks and thorough contingency plans in the event of an accident are researched and implemented. He has also called for a comprehensive review of studies looking at the impact of the Fukushima accident on public health, another issue discussed in Yoshida's Dilemma.
Some have seen this as nothing more than a delay tactic, but it would appear that despite the huge costs incurred from such checks and cleaning up the Fukushima crisis, TEPCO is hell-bent on getting the plant back up and running. Furthermore, it would seem from the recent announcement that pragmatics may eventually win the day. TEPCO has plowed ahead with its plans to get Niigata back up and running and the prefecture is slowly recognising the importance — often called “nuclear dependency” or “addiction” by critics — of the trillions of yen it has received over the decades in subsidies, not to mention tax revenues and thousands of jobs.
Two new international studies examining the impact of the 2011 Fukushima nuclear accident on the north Pacific Ocean have concluded that radioactive contamination levels in the waters and most marine life inhabiting them are now within acceptable safe levels.
An international team of researchers, headed by Daniel Madigan of Harvard University, tested large predators, including tuna, swordfish, and sharks in the waters off Japan, Hawaii, and California, and found no detectable levels of “Fukushima-derived” radioactive cesium 134 and 137.
“The cesium (134 and 137) isotopes are of particular concern because they were discharged in large quantities following the disaster, exhibit relatively long half-lives (2.1 and 30 years respectively), and tend to accumulate in the muscle tissues that people like to eat,” stated a blog post from the Virginia Institute of Marine Sciences, whose Kevin Weng, an assistant professor from the department of fisheries Science, was a co-author of the study.
“Our work shows that radioactivity from the Fukushima disaster is very low in open-ocean vertebrates,” Weng commented in the blog.
Lead author Madigan, of Harvard University, concurred, saying that calculations of how much radioactive cesium a person would ingest by eating seafood from the north pacific “shows that impacts to human health are likely to be negligible.”
“For marketed fish to be restricted from trade, the cesium levels would have to be more than 1600 times higher than in any samples we measured,” he added.
Meanwhile, another study, headed by chemical oceanographer Jay Cullen of the University of Victoria in Canada, found radioactive contamination following the Fukushima disaster never actually reached unsafe levels in the north Pacific, either for marine life or human health.
The Fukushima nuclear plant experienced multiple reactor meltdowns and explosions after becoming inundated by megatsunami, which were triggered by a magnitude 9 earthquake that led to a huge release of radioactive materials both into the air and sea resulting in the evacuation of 160,000 residents.
While Madigan and his team had found that contamination levels in the north Pacific had now returned to pre-Fukushima accident levels, Cullen claims that the levels are now lower than they have been for over 50 years.
Indeed, those contamination levels were about one-tenth of those found in the north Pacific in the late 1950s and ‘60s before the ban of nuclear weapons testing, his study claims.
"We're confident in saying that the levels that we see now in our part of the Pacific from Fukushima are below those levels that represent a significant health risk either to the Pacific Ocean or to human beings in Canada or the west coast of North America," said Cullen.
Surveys undertaken in Japan would tend to support these findings, though it is interesting that while those studies claim no detectable levels in marine life tested in the waters off Fukushima the Madigan-led international study found high levels of cesium in an olive ridley sea turtle.
Indeed there are others who have their doubts about whether the Pacific could justifiably be labelled as free of Fukushima-derived radiation. Just over a year ago, Ken Bessemer, a marine radiochemist with the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) and director of the WHOI Center for Marine and Environmental Radioactivity, stated in an article for PBI that levels radiation levels in the Pacific, while not dangerously high, indicated that radioactive materials continued to leak into the Pacific.
unprecedented in its total release of radioactive contamination into the ocean. "[T]he fact remains that this event is unprecedented in its total release of radioactive contamination into the ocean," Bessemer wrote. "... it is incorrect to say that Fukushima is under control when levels of radioactivity in the ocean indicate ongoing leaks, caused by groundwater flowing through the site and, we think, enhanced after storms."
Yesterday, I had an article published in The Japan Times about the mental health problems that are still being tackled by Fukushima nuclear plant workers and other early respondents to the disasters.
Titled "Battling nuclear demons: Mental health issues haunt those who were the first line of defense after 3/11" the feature article includes interviews with response workers, including a former employee of plant operator TEPCO, and researchers who have been involved in surveying the mental health of hundreds of plant engineers who were at the Fukushima No. 1 plant when it experienced multiple meltdowns and explosions in March 2011.
It also looks at the impact of the nuclear fallout on the health of hundreds of US sailors who are now in the process suing TEPCO.
In "Yoshida's Dilemma" I touched upon this subject, though it was only while research this story that I understood the full impact that the nuclear crisis had on some of the plant workers, some of whom have suffered far more intense and persistent symptoms of Post Traumatic Stress Responses than others. It was also disturbing to hear some of the stories of the US sailors who have suffered a variety of ailments allegedly due to radiation exposure. Most prominent among them are mental health issues.
Over the next week I will include additional information about this issue on this blog, as well as an interview with one of the legal team representing the US sailors.