Fukushima Nuclear Crisis, News for February 2012

“Thinking of my two children’s safety, I don’t intend to return for the time being.” Takayuki Sekine, in response to calling of the government of Kawauchi to return in the evacuated village (source: MDN).

“A year after the disaster that hit the Japanese nuclear plant in Fukushima, radioactive contamination has decreased sharply but is now “chronic and durable.” The French Radioprotection and Nuclear Safety Institute (source: Le Monde/AFP).


  • Highlight of interview with Mr. Yoichi Funabashi, founder of RJIF
    YouTube, February 29, 2012 (Japanese).

  • The Independent Investigation Commission on the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Accident
    The Independent Investigation Commission on the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Accident was established by the Rebuild Japan Initiative Foundation (RJIF). The foundation is headed by Yoichi Funabashi, the former editor-in-chief of The Asahi Shimbun.
    Asahi Japan Watch, Feb 29, 2012.

  • Scientists: Far more cesium released than previously believed
    A mind-boggling 40,000 trillion becquerels of radioactive cesium, or twice the amount previously thought, may have spewed from the crippled Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant after the March 11 disaster, scientists say.
    Akiko Okazaki, Asahi Japan Watch, Feb 29, 2012.

  • A new nightmare: Radioactive ash has nowhere to go
    Temporary disposal sites for incinerated ash containing radioactive cesium are rapidly filling up, and no alternative landfills are available.
    Asahi Japan Watch, Feb 29, 2012.

  • Panel lays bare Fukushima recipe for disaster
    Conflicting authority, mistrust, meddling add to poor.
    Jun Hongo, The Japan Times, Feb 29, 2012.

  • Plant chief: Fukushima nuke plant still vulnerable
    Officials said the worst is over but the Fukushima Daiichi plant remains vulnerable. “I have to admit that it’s still rather fragile,” said plant chief Takeshi Takahashi, who took the job in December after his predecessor resigned due to health reasons. “Even though the plant has achieved what we call ‘cold shutdown conditions,’ it still causes problems that must be improved.”
    Mari Yamaguchi, Associated Press, Feb 29, 2012.

  • Fukushima’s ‘cold’ reactors pose a constant threat
    Twisted metal beams still jut from the top of Japan’s Fukushima Daiichi stricken reactors, almost one year after a massive tsunami triggered nuclear meltdown.
    Hilary Whiteman, CNN, Feb 29, 2012.

  • One year after Fukushima, contamination is ‘chronic and durable’
    A year after the disaster that hit the Japanese nuclear plant in Fukushima, radioactive contamination has decreased sharply but is now “chronic and durable,” said Tuesday the French Radioprotection and Nuclear Safety Institute (IRSN), which publishes informations based on the reports of its local teams and the data provided by Japan.
    Le Monde/AFP, Feb 28, 2012.

  • Private panel blames TEPCO’s ‘systematic negligence’
    Systematic negligence by Tokyo Electric Power Co. contributed to the Fukushima nuclear disaster, according to a non-government panel.
    Jin Nishikawa, Asahi Japan Watch, Feb 28, 2012.

  • The Fukushima Psychiatrist: ‘It’s Amazing How Traumatized They Are’
    Since the Fukushima catastrophe almost one year ago, Jun Shigemura has been providing psychological care to workers from the stricken nuclear facility. In an interview with SPIEGEL ONLINE, he tells of the immense challenges facing TEPCO employees — and why most of them have elected not to quit their jobs.
    Heike Sonnberger, Spiegel International, Feb 28, 2012.

  • Fukushima visit: I wanted to rip my full-face mask off more than once
    Entering the heart of Japan’s nuclear disaster means going through the same procedures as the thousands working there.
    Justin McCurry, The Guardian, Feb 28, 2012.

  • BLOCKBUSTER! FOIA Documents Reveal NRC Cover-Up, Deception Over Fukushima Nuclear Disaster
    According to several stunning editorials by authors Lucas W. Hixon and Joy Thompson on the website Enformable.com, evidence obtained through an FOIA request reveals a ‘cover-up’ by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission in an effort to conceal the severity of the meltdowns in Fukushima, Japan.
    Tony Muga, The Intel Hub, February 27, 2012.

  • Japan Weighed Evacuating Tokyo in Nuclear Crisis
    In the darkest moments of last year’s nuclear accident, leaders secretly considered the possibility of evacuating the Japanese capital.
    Martin Fackler, New York Times, Feb 27, 2012.

  • Director documents hometown in Fukushima’s no-entry zone
    Takemitsu Sato has filmed a powerful documentary about the lives of evacuees from the no-entry zone around the stricken Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant.
    Maki Okubo, Asahi Japan Watch, Feb 27, 2012.

  • Aerial photos of Fukushima nuke plant an eerie sight
    A cold eerie quietness envelops the stricken Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant. There is no activity among the snow-dusted buildings, and reminders of the devastation caused by last year’s Great East Japan Earthquake and tsunami are everywhere.
    Takayuki Kihara e Jin Nishikawa, Asahi Japan Watch, Feb 27, 2012.

  • High radiation level logged in town near Fukushima plant
    According an Environment Ministry survey – conducted between Nov. 7 and Jan. 16 – high levels of radiation have been detected in municipalities in evacuation zones around the crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, with the highest reading of 470 millisieverts per year recorded in Futaba.
    Kyodo News, Feb 25, 2012.

  • Poor communications botched radiation monitoring on March 12
    Japan failed to monitor the spread of radioactive materials due to a lack of communication among ministries the day after the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant was damaged by the March 11 Great East Japan Earthquake.
    Toshihiro Okuyama and Hiroo Sunaoshi, Asahi Japan Watch, Feb 24, 2012.

  • DIY Geiger counter smartphone app to measure radiation
    In the wake of Japan’s Fukushima disaster, amidst a climate of general mistrust of government radiation data, a number of crowdsourced initiatives for mapping radiation levels sprang up, such as Japan Geigermap, in which radiation readings from citizens are aggregated and displayed online using a web service called pachube.
    Kat Austen, NewScientist, Feb 23, 2012.

  • Cruise finds Fukushima pollution
    Radioactive elements from the damaged Fukushima nuclear power plant have been detected in seawater and marine organisms up to 600km from Japan.
    Jonathan Amos, BBC News, Feb 22, 2012.

  • Radiation levels in Fukushima now available in real time

    Radiomap - Real-time measures in Fukushima Prefecture

    The science ministry has begun posting real-time radiation levels on its website at 2,700 locations across Fukushima Prefecture, including schools and parks (Radiomap).
    Asahi Japan Watch, Feb 22, 2012.

  • How the Yakuza went nuclear
    What really went wrong at the Fukushima plant? Tomohiko Suzuki, one undercover reporter risked his life to find out.
    Jake Adelstein, The Telegraph, Feb 21, 2012.

  • Fukushima: Return to the disaster zone
    A year since the Fukushima nuclear plant was destroyed, the fight to prevent disaster goes on. In an exclusive dispatch from the reactors, David McNeill becomes the first European journalist to revisit Japan’s ground zero.
    David McNeill, The Independent, Feb 21, 2012.

  • Cesium in Tokyo Bay focus of new study
    The government is trying to get a clearer picture of radioactive cesium accumulations at the bottom of Tokyo Bay, which derive from the crippled Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant.
    Asahi Japan Watch, Feb 21, 2012.

  • Only 5% of debris generated in March disasters disposed of
    Only 5 percent of the debris generated by the devastating earthquake and tsunami last March has been incinerated or otherwise disposed of, Environment Minister Goshi Hosono said Tuesday, as he called for more cooperation on the massive task from local governments nationwide.
    The Mainichi Daily News, Feb 21, 2012.

  • Fukushima manager dismisses fears that reactors are overheating again
    Takeshi Takahashi says removing melted nuclear fuel will be difficult, but blames overheating fears on faulty thermometer
    Justin McCurry, The Guardian, Feb 20, 2012.

  • NRC failed to fully disclose their knowledge of events relating to Fukushima Daiichi
    Following the March 11th Fukushima disaster, the NRC was overwhelmed by a constant ringing of phones, and ever escalating number of unread inbox messages. By Sunday March 13th, Elliot Brenner, sent out an e-mail to upper level NRC counterparts clearly narrating the sequence of events. ”While we know more than what these (press releases) say, we’re sticking to this story for now.” writes Breener, during the weekend he labled “very hectic”.
    Lucas W. Hixson, Enformable, February 19, 2012.

  • 3 films on 3/11, nuclear disaster win acclaim in Berlin
    Three Japanese documentaries depicting the changed reality for people impacted by the Great East Japan Earthquake and the accident at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant and their resilience have wowed critics at the Berlin International Film Festival. The three are “Nuclear Nation,” directed by Atsushi Funahashi; “friends after 3.11,” directed by Shunji Iwai; and “No Man’s Zone,” directed by Toshifumi Fujiwara.
    Ken Matsui and Nami Hamada, Asahi Japan Watch, Feb 18, 2012.

  • Ministries to measure radiation in Tokyo Bay
    The Environment Ministry will begin Friday checking the levels of radioactive substances in the water and bottom sediment near the mouths of the Sumidagawa and Arakawa rivers that run into Tokyo Bay, sources have said.
    The Yomiuri Shimbun, Feb 17, 2012.

  • Making Music For a Ghost Town
    This year’s Music from Japan festival at Merkin Concert Hall, was inspired by the village of Iitate, near the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant.
    James R. Oestreich, The New York Times, Feb 16, 2012.

  • Govt, TEPCO battle over management rights
    A fierce tug-of-war between the government and Tokyo Electric Power Co. over the utility’s management is becoming more apparent as the government seeks a level of control over the company.
    Takeo Miyazaki and Kunihiko Yasue, The Yomiuri Shimbun, Feb 15, 2012.

  • Thermometers a Hot Topic at Fukushima Daiichi
    Fukushima Daiichi operator Tokyo Electric Power Co. on Tuesday said that one of the thermometers attached to its No. 2 reactor was almost certainly on the blink.
    Phred Dvorak, The Wall Street Journal, Feb 15, 2012.

  • Could Fukushima Daiichi Be Ground Zero for the Next Big One?
    The heft from last year’s powerful March 11 earthquake shocked a sleeping fault line close to the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant back to life, according to a new scientific study. And based on their findings, the scientists who conducted the study warn the battered nuclear power plant should brace itself for another big one.
    Yoree Koh, The Wall Street Journal, Feb 15, 2012.

  • Japan Ignored Nuclear Risks, Official Says
    In surprisingly frank public testimony, Haruki Madarame, Japan’s nuclear safety chief said the country’s regulations were fundamentally flawed and laid out a somber picture of a nuclear industry shaped by freewheeling power companies, toothless regulators and a government more interested in promoting nuclear energy than in safeguarding the health of its citizens.
    Hiroko Tabuchi, The New York Times, Feb 15, 2012.

  • AP Interview: Japanese official who outlined worst nuclear scenario blames plant’s design
    The government official who outlined Japan’s worst-case scenario for the unfolding nuclear disaster last March defended how his study, warning that millions of people might have to flee, was kept secret.
    Yuri Kageyama, Japanese official who outlined worst nuclear scenario blames plant’s design. Associated Press via Yahoo, Feb 14, 2012.

  • Civic group files petition with Osaka city over nuclear power
    A civic group seeking a referendum on whether to keep nuclear power plants said Tuesday it has filed a direct petition with the city of Osaka to hold a plebiscite on the issue in the wake of the nuclear disaster at the Fukushima Daiichi plant.
    The Mainichi Daily News, Feb 14, 2012.

  • Japan: 2 Reactors Are Cleared to Restart
    Japan has cleared the way to restart two idled nuclear reactors in coming months for the first time since the nuclear crisis in Fukushima last year.
    Associated Press, The New York Times, Feb 13, 2012.

  • Radiation concerns keep municipalities from helping with disaster-area debris
    Concerns about radiation are preventing the massive amount of debris left in areas hit by the March 2011 tsunami from being sent to other areas for processing.
    The Mainichi Daily News, Feb 13, 2012.

  • Fukushima reactor readings raise reheating concern
    Temperature inside No 2 reactor may have risen to 82C, and Tepco reportedly steps up cooling efforts.
    Justin McCurry, The Guardian, Feb 12, 2012.

  • Tokyo governor lashes out at nuclear referendum plan
    Shintaro Ishihara, the outspoken governor of Tokyo, says he has no intention of supporting a referendum on nuclear power being sought by a citizens group.
    Asahi Japan Watch, Feb 11, 2012.

  • Video shows debris inside Fukushima reactor storage pool
    New video footage of the storage pool inside the No. 4 reactor building of the crippled Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant showed that little had changed since observations made last May.
    Asahi Japan Watch, Feb 11, 2012.

  • A Confused Nuclear Cleanup
    As 500 workers in hazmat suits and respirator masks fanned out to decontaminate this village 20 miles from the ravaged Fukushima Daiichi nuclear reactors, their confusion was apparent.
    Hiroko Tabuchi and Yasuko Kamiizumi, The New York Times, Feb 10, 2012.

  • Tsunami exceeded 21 meters near Fukushima plant, say researchers
    The tsunami unleashed by the Great East Japan Earthquake exceeded 21 meters at one point on the coast between the stricken Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant and the Fukushima No. 2 plant, according to a survey of physical evidence left by the deluge.
    Asahi Japan Watch, Feb 9, 2012.

  • Anti-Nuclear Campaign in Japan Moves Forward, Acknowledges Struggles
    A citizen’s group in Japan says it has collected five million signatures – halfway to its goal – on a petition calling on the government to permanently shut down all nuclear power plants in the country. But amid traditional apathy among Japanese toward political movements and longstanding strong ties between power companies and lawmakers in a resource-poor country, anti-nuclear campaigners are acknowledging an uphill struggle.
    Steve Herman, Voice of America, Feb 8, 2012.

  • Scientist: Cesium sank 20 cm in Tokyo Bay mud
    Radioactive cesium likely from the crippled Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant has sunk more than 20 centimeters deep in the mud of the seabed in Tokyo Bay, according to a scientist. While it is known that more than 90 percent of cesium deposits remain in the uppermost 5-cm layer of soil on land, Hideo Yamazaki, a professor of environmental analysis at Kinki University, said he found that seabed cesium concentrations peaked at much greater depths at one location.
    Nobutaro Kaji, Asahi Japan Watch, Feb 8, 2012.

  • Tokyo group gathers enough signatures for nuke referendum
    A citizens group seeking a local referendum on the use of nuclear power in Tokyo said it has collected enough signatures to file a petition calling for an ordinance to hold the vote.
    Kosuke So, Asahi Japan Watch, Feb 7, 2012.

  • Tepco Injects Boric Acid Into Reactor as Temperatures Rise
    Tokyo Electric Power Co. injected boric acid into No. 2 reactor at its crippled Fukushima nuclear plant to prevent an accidental chain reaction known as re- criticality after temperatures rose in the past week.
    Tsuyoshi Inajima, Bloomberg, Feb 7, 2012.

  • Gov’t probe into cover-up of nuclear fuel disposal costs finished without full questioning
    A government probe into the 2004 concealment of estimates on the cost of disposing of spent nuclear fuel has come under scrutiny after two of the 25 people held to have been questioned over the cover-up disclosed they were actually punished without any questioning.
    The Mainichi Daily News, Feb 6, 2012.

  • Nuke plant operators paid $2 bil. to localities
    Newly disclosed documents show that nuclear power plant operators in Japan have paid more than 2 billion dollars to local authorities hosting their facilities over the past 4 decades. NHK obtained information about the payments from 44 prefectures and municipalities based on the information disclosure system.
    NHK World, Feb 6, 2012.

  • Govt to measure radiation levels in no-fly zone
    Japan’s government will measure radiation levels around the troubled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant as a step toward revising the no-fly zone over the site. No aircraft has been allowed to fly within a 20-kilometer radius of the plant since the nuclear accident.
    NHK World, Feb 6, 2012.

  • Reference radioactive materials finally arrive in Japan
    Research institutions in Japan have started a joint program with the International Atomic Energy Agency to enhance the accuracy of radioactivity measurements to meet international standards, the University of Tsukuba said Feb. 3.
    Akiko Okazaki, Asahi Japan Watch, Feb 4, 2012.

  • Experiment to dispose of nuclear waste hits another roadblock
    An experiment to convert radioactive liquid waste into an easier-to-dispose-of glassy substance at a spent nuclear fuel reprocessing plant has been delayed because preliminary work has been marred by trouble.
    Jin Nishikawa, Asahi Japan Watch, Feb 4, 2012.

  • Bird numbers plummet around stricken Fukushima plant
    Researchers working around Japan’s disabled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant say bird populations there have begun to dwindle, in what may be a chilling harbinger of the impact of radioactive fallout on local life.
    David McNaill, The Independent, Feb 3, 2012.

  • Indictment of contractors exposes illicit work at nuke plants
    Three people and two firms were indicted Feb. 2 on charges of dispatching a worker to the Oi Nuclear Power Plant in Fukui Prefecture under a falsified contract in violation of the Employment Security Law.
    The Mainichi Daily News, Feb 3, 2012.

  • City switches off TEPCO for its electricity needs
    A satellite city of Tokyo will end its reliance on Tokyo Electric Power Co. to supply electricity to most of its large facilities from April 1. The city government of Musashimurayama in northwestern Tokyo announced on Feb. 2 that 24 of its 27 large public amenities, including schools and public halls, would switch their electricity supplies to companies other than TEPCO from April 1.
    Daisuke Shimizu and Takashi Hirashima, Asahi Japan Watch, Feb 3, 2012.

  • Fukushima Nuclear Crisis Update for January 31st – February 2nd, 2012
    Wolfgang Weiss, the Chairman of the United Nations Scientific Committee on the Effects of Atomic Radiation (UNSCEAR) said that massive evacuations and the fact that 80% of the nuclear fallout from the Fukushima Daiichi disaster landed in the ocean have contributed to lower radiation impact on human health (Reuters Jan 31, 2012). According Greenpeace, Weiss did not address the impact of radiation on seafood and possible effects on the food chain, nor did he discuss long-term effects of low-level radiation, which are still being studied.
    Christine McCann, Greenpeace, Feb 3, 2012.

  • Fukushima farmers furious over lack of consideration in decontamination subsidies
    Municipalities and farmers in Fukushima Prefecture are furious at the national government for ignoring the state of local farmland in extending subsidies for decontamination of areas tainted with radioactive substances.
    The Mainichi Daily News, Feb 2, 2012.

  • TEPCO says 8.5 tons of water leaked from Fukushima No. 4 reactor
    Tokyo Electric Power Co. said Wednesday that 8.5 tons of radioactive water leaked from the No. 4 reactor of the crisis-hit Fukushima Daiichi power plant because a pipe connected to the reactor dropped off, but added that the liquid has not flowed outside the reactor building.
    The Mainichi Daily News, Feb 2, 2012.

  • Parents’ dilemma: Is letting kids play in possible contaminated areas risky?
    Since the accident at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant in March last year, many parents have refused to let their children play outside, fearing radiation contamination. But parents are also torn because playing outside is considered indispensable for children’s growth.
    Satomi Sugihara, Asahi Japan Watch, Feb 2, 2012.

  • Robot pair to explore inside Fukushima nuke plant
    A pair of robots will be sent into the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant as early as mid-February to measure radioactive materials and survey 3-D structures inside the buildings. The Chiba Institute of Technology’s Future Robotics Technology Center unveiled the latest version of Quince on Jan. 30.
    Naoya Kon, Asahi Japan Watch, Feb 1, 2012.

  • See also the news archive for 2012 and 2011.



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    About Backyard World

    Backyard World is an art and information architecture project on the Fukushima crisis. The project was started March 17, 2011.
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