Friday, September 27, 2013

How a Scientist Was Censored by the Japanese Government After the Fukushima Accident

The following was written on September 20, 2013, for an e-mail communication on some mailing lists, based on the information from the Japanese news and a Japanese blog that summarized a series of Asahi Shimbun articles, called Prometheus Trap: Order to Suspend Radiation Monitoring, published in February 2012.  Although the English version of this Prometheus series is available online, only a limited number of articles can be accessed without monthly payments.

Although this post was not originally intended to be publicized as a blog post, it seemed appropriate to include it here because it is important to address Aoyama's statement in view of his past struggle with the governmental interference. 

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On September 18, 2013, the Japan Meteorological Agency scientist, Michio Aoyama, told the audience at the IAEA 2013 Scientific Forum "The Blue Planet - Nuclear Applications for a Sustainable Marine Environment," that 60 GBq of Cesium-137 & Strontium-90 directly go out to the ocean outside of the Fukushima Daiichi port daily, contradicting the Japanese Prime Minister Abe's words about the contaminated water being blocked from going beyond the port.

It turns out that Fukushima Daiichi's undamaged Unit 5 and 6 take up the Fukushima Daiichi port water for cooling and release the contaminated effluent north of the port, directly into the Pacific Ocean.  This fact, by default, invalidates the Prime Minister Abe's infamous "total block" statement.

Michio Aoyama, a senior scientist at Geochemical Research Department of Meteorological Research Institute, Japanese Meteorological Agency, and a long-time researcher of environmental impact of radioactivity, had his research censored by the government shortly after the Fukushima accident.  First, his team was deprived of funding to check environmental radioactivity almost immediately after the accident and ordered not to take any measurements.  (His team learned of the explosion on TV and immediately began taking samples to take measurements.  The radiation levels were so high that their instruments were not able to take proper measurements, so they were in the middle of making adjustments to enable the necessary measurements when the order came not to take any measurements).  But Aoyama's team ignored the order and continued the measurements with the underground support by other research institutes.  Then Aoyama was told not to release his research findings, co-written by Ken Buesseler and slated to be published in Nature, which stated that the Fukushima oceanic contamination was several orders of magnitude higher than that from the past nuclear testing and at least one order of magnitude higher than the contamination in Black Sea and Baltic Sea due to the 1986 Chernobyl accident.  His superior said to take this part out, which was actually written by Ken Buesseler.  Aoyama could not publish this study due to the Meteorological Agency not giving him permission. 

IAEA's Scientific Forum this year happened to be on radiation and ocean, and Aoyama might have seized the moment to reveal the truth.

However, this does not seem to be taken up by the foreign media.  It might be because this is considered a "routine" release.  However, it does not seem to be a common knowledge amongst the general public that normally operating NPPs release so much radioactivity into ocean/river/lake, so the media might not want to draw attention to it.  In Japan, it became a news item because it directly opposed what the Prime Minister Abe told the International Olympic Committee about the contamination being totally blocked at the port perimeter.

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References

IAEA 2013 Scientific Forum Program PDF
Japanese blog covering the summary of the Prometheus Trap series.
The Prometheus Trap: Order to Suspend Radiation Monitoring (a series of 15 stories)


Friday, September 20, 2013

Is a Study Abroad Program in Japan Safe?

Everyone has to make their own decisions about participating in a Study Abroad Program in current Japan, but here is one female college student's experience.

"I studied abroad in Japan last fall, from late August to late November. I spent the majority of my time in Kyoto, albeit a few weekend trips to nearby cities. My last two weeks in Japan were dedicated to an independent research study, during which I traveled to Tokyo for five days, Nikko for two days and Sendai for two days. While in Nikko, I experienced a constant headache. From there, I took a bullet train through Fukushima up to Sendai. I experienced a severe migraine while traveling through Fukushima by train, and by the time I got to Sendai, I felt fine. I have a history of migraines since Feb. 2009, when I suffered a concussion from a car accident. Despite that, I hadn't experienced a migraine for at least six months before I went through Fukushima. 

Within the three weeks following my visits to Nikko and Sendai, I experienced on-and-off headaches and migraines. At the time, I was not sure if I could attribute that to radiation exposure or something else like altitude sickness or poor sleep. It was nonetheless unusual for me. 

One week after returning to the United States, I began experiencing more severe symptoms of radiation exposure. I had daily bloody noses that lasted until mid-January. I had frequent stomach pain and nausea. In mid-December, I experienced 48 hours of constant vomiting. I've had food poisoning before, and this was much much worse. It was one of the most painful experiences of my life. During the rest of the week, I continued to vomit on and off, but not continuously. Until about mid-January, my headaches, migraines, nausea and dizziness continued. I did not see a doctor during that time because I was traveling; I had made these plans before my trip to Japan, and I was nowhere near my regular physician. When I saw my doctor after the symptoms had stopped, I was told that there was no way of knowing whether I had experienced radiation sickness or still have radiation in my body. Doctors and nuclear experts have told me that my symptoms were typical of low radiation exposure. It's amazing to me that one can get so sick even from being exposed to radiation for such a short period of time. And for the record, I haven't had any of those symptoms since January. 

In Nikko and Sendai, I ate no fish and drank only bottled water and green tea. In Nikko, I probably had hot tea at my hostel. In Tokyo, I ate sushi near Tsukiji market. No other fish. I didn't eat dairy products, and I had no way of knowing where my rice and vegetables were coming from. At the time, my Kanji knowledge was very poor. "

Sunday, September 15, 2013

JFK "Our children and grandchildren are not merely statistics."

The world would be a much better place if all adults shared this sentiment.

Excerpt from President John F. Kennedy's historic speech
http://www.presidentialrhetoric.com/historicspeeches/kennedy/nucleartestban.html
Video 
http://www.jfklibrary.org/Asset-Viewer/ZNOo49DpRUa-kMetjWmSyg.aspx


JOHN F. KENNEDY
Radio and Television Address to the American People on the Nuclear Test Ban Treaty
Washington, D.C.
July 26, 1963

"The number of children and grandchildren with cancer in their bones, with leukemia in their blood, or with poison in their lungs might seem statistically small to some, in comparison with natural health hazards. But this is not a natural health hazard-and it is not a statistical issue. The loss of even one human life, or the malformation of even one baby-who may be born long after all of us have gone-should be of concern to us all. Our children and grandchildren are not merely statistics towards which we can be indifferent."