Japan confirms some areas surrounding Fukushima Daiichi likely permanently off-limits to habitation

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A few hours after the earthquake and subsequent tsunami, the reactors at Fukushima Daiichi began to leak radiation into the environment reportedly first from the Unit 1 reactor shortly after 17:00 when radioactive steam was released from the primary circuit into the secondary containment area to reduce mounting pressure.  Radioactive material has been released from the Fukushima containment vessels as the result of deliberate venting to reduce gaseous pressure, deliberate discharge of coolant water into the sea, and accidental or uncontrolled events.

Japan rapidly approaches the anniversary of the March 11 disaster, the nuclear power industry, which just over a year ago supplied a third of its power, is virtually in paralysis.  The Japanese government has been unable to control the spread of radioactive material into the nation’s food,  water, and materials.   Radioactive material has been detected in a range of produce, including spinach, tea leaves, milk, fish and beef, up to 200 miles from the nuclear plant. Inside the 12-mile evacuation zone around the plant, all farming has been abandoned.

This week, Japanese officials have confirmed that some areas surrounding the Fukushima nuclear power plant like  the town of Futaba, to the northwest of the plant  that was wrecked last year by a massive tsunami will likely remain permanently off-limits.

A final report by the environment ministry, expected in the coming weeks, is expected to declare as permanently off-limits to human habitation any area with contamination of more than 50 millisieverts per year.  This in contrast to the Japanese governments stance in August 2011, when they believed that it might take “more than 20 years before residents could safely return to areas with current radiation readings of 200 millisieverts per year, and a decade for areas at 100 millisieverts per year”.

A survey in Iitate has also shown that the local citizens not only face the worry of health effects from the disaster, but also the desperate loneliness of living in separate locations, one-third of all surveyed families live apart from their children, while 50.1 percent live away from other family members (including elderly parents) with whom they lived before the disaster.

Iitate was designated by the government as an emergency evacuation preparation zone on April 22, 2011, approximately a month and a half after the outbreak of the nuclear disaster at the Fukushima No. 1 Nuclear Power Plant following the Great East Japan Earthquake and tsunami.

“Stress is causing disputes among many evacuated residents,” Iitate Mayor Norio Kanno told the Mainichi in a recent interview. “Depression and the collapse of families are increasing. There are conflicts between family members, people from different generations, and people who want to return and those who can’t go back,” Kanno said.

“Many residents feel that they have been forced to evacuate because of a man-made disaster, not a natural calamity,” says Kanno. “Before, when bad weather or other problems occurred, everyone was on the same boat — so people had the will to help each other. In the case of a natural disaster, people know that even if there are difficulties at the beginning, they can eventually start all over again even from scratch. However, when one is fighting against radiation pollution, starting a new life three, or even five years later is not easy. That is one of the characteristics of (the invisible damage caused by) radiation.”


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  1. Thank you Luke for your dedicated work in reporting the truth about this unprecedented situation. Let’s find a way to solve it and make sure this doesn’t happen again with clean energy technologies and replacement of corruption in the leadership of the establishment responsible for the health of our planet.


    Gracias Lucas por su dedicada labor al informar la verdad acerca de esta situación sin precedentes. Vamos a encontrar una manera de resolverlo y asegurarse de que esto no vuelva a ocurrir con las tecnologías de energía limpia y la sustitución de la corrupción en la dirección del establecimiento responsable de la salud de nuestro planeta.


    شكرا لوقا لعملكم المتفاني في الإبلاغ عن الحقيقة حول هذه الحالة لم يسبق لها مثيل. دعونا نجد طريقة لايجاد حل لها والتأكد من عدم حدوث ذلك مرة أخرى مع تكنولوجيات الطاقة النظيفة واستبدال فساد في قيادة المؤسسة المسؤولة عن صحة كوكبنا.

  2. Luke thank you for your work on this subject. I am currently living in Yokohama Japan and I evacuated my family on March 11 we came back 4 months later. I have a question. Is there still a Danger of getting radiation sickness from the food water exc. ? The reason why I am asking is becuase the news doesnt really say to much. Is there still a danger should I still get my family out of Japan?

    1. Steve Buy or rent a Geiger Counter that you sure is calibrated and then use it often…

      Radiation is now spread over a very wide area and is much more of a problem for kids than adults since they will be exposed to it while they are growing…

      Trust in those that share your concern and avoid TEPCO advisories since they have proven to be suspect.

      When in doubt, MOVE OUT!

  3. Hello Steve, thanks for the update.

    There are still reports of contamination coming out of Japan, and while I am not in any place to advice as to relocation, I personally have weighed a decision to go to Japan on an extended research project, and ultimately decided that it wasn’t a decision I felt comfortable with.

    The effects of radiation are highly contested, and often you hear attempts to pacify any fears, but I would rather approach the situation with a keen sense of precaution.

    There was a nuclear disaster in Chernobyl, almost 20 years ago, and the areas are still reeling from the effects. It is not an area with a great appreciation for the governments response, and we are beginning to see the same frustrations in Japan.

    Personally, I would also keep in mind that the disaster is far from over.

    There are a multitude of situations that I can present that expose the exisiting risk at Fukushima Daiichi, one of the largest in my opinions are the spent fuel pools.

    TEPCO will have to maintain a state of coldshutdown for years, do you believe that they will do it without any event?

    The spent fuel pools potentially have more risk than the fuel in the reactors at this point, and the structures are more degraded than ever.

    Earthquakes are occuring in more powerful clusters, and it just seems like too many variables to take into account.

    That’s just my take. Feel free to e-mail me and I’d love to hear more of your thoughts.

    1. Good advice!

      The EQ threat alone is enough to keep all residents far away until the spent fuel rods are safely stored far away from Fukushima…

      Remember any big EQ could make Fukushima many times worse than it is now! We are ALL now just holding our breath with our fingers crossed and there is nothing that the nuclear industry can do about it except deny it!

  4. TEPCO wants to restart #5 and #6 and that is their goal; forget about making the Complex stable and or safe forever…

    They have gambled against Nature and lost; now they want to save some face while betting the Health of the Northern Hemisphere thae Nature will not make fools of them yet again!

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