Friday, April 1, 2011

For Farmers In Fukushima, Japan, Growing Uncertainty

A farmer stands in front of a mountain of spinach, disposed after gathering in Fukushima, Japan, on March 26. The government has banned the sale of milk, spinach and other leafy vegetables from Fukushima and neighboring prefectures. Jason Beaubien - As Japan continues to grapple with the effects of the March 11 earthquake, the prefecture of Fukushima faces some of the biggest challenges.

Fukushima's roads were damaged in the earthquake, its coast was battered by the tsunami, and now leaking radiation around the crippled Dai-ichi nuclear power plant has made parts of the prefecture unlivable.

The tsunami pushed seawater more than 2 miles inland in some places. Rail lines in Fukushima — Japan's third-largest prefecture — were destroyed along the coast; train traffic still hasn't resumed through the prefecture. Radiation from the leaking nuclear complex has forced tens of thousands of residents from their homes. The sale of many vegetables from Fukushima has been banned.

Akio Nagato, the director general of the Fukushima governor's office, says the tsunami and earthquake mainly affected the coast but the radiation is affecting the entire prefecture, which spans more than 5,000 square miles.

Even outside the 12-mile mandatory evacuation zone around the Fukushima Dai-chi nuclear plant, Nagato says, businesses are packing up and moving. He says the cleanup along the coast has barely started because vehicles can't travel through the nuclear exclusion zone.

"We are not just talking about rebuilding houses," Nagato says, speaking of the Fukushima coast. "We are talking about places of work, ports, railroads all being unusable. We are talking about the big picture here. We are talking about putting everything back together."

Unsafe Food

The nuclear disaster is now also a disaster for Fukushima's farmers. The government has banned the sale of milk, spinach and other leafy vegetables, not just from here but also from neighboring prefectures.

The Japanese Health Ministry found that the radiation level in these foods exceeds legal limits for human consumption. This has left farmers such as Shinichi Asaka with goods they can't sell.

"We are going to have throw it out," he says through an interpreter, regarding rows and rows of green spinach. "Get a big tractor, load it up and throw it out. There's nothing else to do." ...

via For Farmers In Fukushima, Japan, Growing Uncertainty : NPR.

9 comments:

Ann said...

April 5th, page 1, NY Times:
"U.S. Sees Array of New Threats at Japan’s Nuclear Plant" by James Glanz & William Broad:

"United States government engineers sent to help with the crisis in Japan are warning that the troubled nuclear plant there is facing a wide array of fresh threats that could persist indefinitely [note!], and that in some cases are expected to increase [note!] as a result of the very measures being taken to keep the plant stable, according to a confidential assessment prepared by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission. ..."

http://www.nytimes.com/2011/04/06/world/asia/06nuclear.html?_r=4&smid=tw-nytimes&seid=auto

The crisis is hardly over.

Xeno said...

Thanks for the updates Ann. It's a long nightmare.

Ann said...

Xeno, I try, but the updates are actually days behind. But, I think it's important for all of us.

The following shocking news is from the L.A. Times (why the L.A. Times? Because the L.A. Times is not pro-nuc industry as much as the NY Times and the news networks that are owned by GE.)

"Japan's ocean radiation hits 7.5 million times legal limit." Kenji Hall and Julie Makinen, April 5, 2011

http://www.latimes.com/news/nationworld/world/la-fg-japan-nuclear-20110406%2C0%2C2697428.story

Ann said...

Xeno, you shouldn't have encouraged me!

Good news and bad:

Daiichi plant leak plugged but further blast feared, April 7, 2011
David McNeill, Irish Times
http://www.irishtimes.com/newspaper/world/2011/0407/1224294096050.html

Meanwhile, both the EPA and comparable agencies in Europe are raising the standards for radiation in food:

"... the new standards would result in a 'nearly 1000-fold increase for exposure to strontium-90, a 3000 to 100,000-fold hike for exposure to iodine-131; and an almost 25,000 rise for exposure to radioactive nickel-63' in drinking water."

April 5, 2011 Brandon Turbeville
America and EU Agree: Raise Radiation Levels for Food
http://www.activistpost.com/2011/04/eu-follows-epa-raises-acceptable.html

Ann said...

Now compare this with what the U.S. local, state and federal gov'ts did after Hurricane Katrina:

"Kan pledges to build 70,000 temporary houses," April 10, 2011
Japan Broadcasting Corporation

"Prime Minister Naoto Kan has told the governor of quake-hit Miyagi Prefecture that the central government will build 70,000 temporary houses as quickly as possible. ..."

http://www3.nhk.or.jp/daily/english/10_14.html

Ann said...

As Japan's foreign minister Takeaki Matsumoto pitches Japanese nuclear technology abroad, ...

"Japanese nuclear power plant operator TEPCO expects to stop pumping radioactive water into the ocean on Monday, days later than planned ..."

Meanwhile,

"In Tokyo, around 5,000 people took to the streets in two separate anti-nuclear protests on Sunday. Some carried placards reading 'No More Fukushima' and 'No Nukes' ..."

WRAP UP 1-Japan fails to stop radioactive discharge into ocean
Reuters
Yoko Kubota and Kiyoshi Takenaka
Tokyo, April 11/Apr 10, 2011
http://www.reuters.com/article/2011/04/10/japan-idUSL3E7FA05820110410

Ann said...

VOV News, April 11, 2011:

"Strongest radioactive cloud covers Vietnam"

"Cs-134 was found in the pine needle samples (which are often used to indicate radioactive pollution in the atmosphere and vegetation) in addition to the isotopes Be-7, K -40, U-238, Th-232 and Cs-137 but the level of Cs-134 was very low and does not affect human health."

And, ...

Cesium-137 forecast shows high altitude radiation cloud concentrating over California, western US on April 12 (VIDEO)
April 11th, 2011

http://enenews.com/cesium-137-forecast-shows-high-altitude-radiation-cloud-concentrate-over-western-us-on-april-12-video

Ann said...

The Japanese gov't raised the crisis level of the Fukushima Daiichi power plant accident from 5 to 7, the worst on the international scale.

The same as Chernobyl.

Apr. 12
Japan Broadcasting Corporation
"Japan to raise Fukushima crisis level to worst"
http://www3.nhk.or.jp/news/html/20110412/t10015249911000.html

You know, it's like no would have guessed that some day Japan, which lies along the earthquake-active "Pacific Rim of Fire," would have an earthquake or tsunami that would disrupt a nuclear power plant.

Who would have known? Certainly not the myopic executives at TEPCO. So, why worry about any type of technology or real environmentally safe procedures that might be needed in case of an accident?

But, because of TEPCO's lack of responsibility and foresight, the citizens of Japan end up paying:

TEPCO receives total $24 bil. emergency loans
Japan Broadcasting Corporation
Apr. 12
http://www3.nhk.or.jp/daily/english/12_01.html

This kind of reminds me of the corporate bailouts in the U.S.

When will taxpayers of the U.S., Japan and elsewhere finally get tired of corporate socialism and make their gov't favor them, the people?

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