Japan: on-going radiation, protests, and an earless rabbit

It has been 13 weeks since March 11, 2011 when an earthquake and tsunami devastated Japan’s northeast and the frustration is growing as the problems show no signs of abating. The nuclear crisis continues with the situation at Fukushima still not under control and nearly 100,000 evacuees remain in crowded shelters. Coastal regions are covered in millions of tons of rubble and will require a decade of rebuilding. The country has a growing mountain of debt as it faces its worst postwar crisis and the political leadership in Japan is in turmoil trying to deal with the issues. The official death toll stands at 15,401 with another 8,146 reported missing.

Despite the destruction caused by the quake and resulting tsunami, the overriding fear has stemmed from the on-going problems at the stricken Fukushima Daiichi plant. The cries about the mishandling of the catastrophe and the calls for resignations of leaders continue as new information continues to be leaked telling of situation which seems to have been grossly underestimated by TEPCO. It is now said that the radiation released from the plant was twice as much as the power company reported.

While emergency crew are hoping to bring into stable “cold shutdown” between October and January, it would seem that the tide of support for nuclear power has turned. The worst nuclear accident since Chernobyl a quarter-century ago has shocked the world and countries like Germany and Switzerland have made decisions to abandon atomic power. Japan is signalling a major shift toward renewable energy as protests in the country cry out against the problems caused by Fukushima. A 20-kilometre zone around the plant has been declared a no go zone and its 80,000 residents have been evacuated with no sign they will be able to return. Their picturesque home area is now only populated by starving livestock and abandoned pets.

Japan marks three months since tsunami with protests

Saturday saw Japan mark the third month since disaster struck the country. While some were solemn in their recognition of the natural catastrophe, others took the occasion to protest both the government’s slow response and the resulting nuclear crisis. The headquarters of the Tokyo Electric Power Company was the scene of a rally organized online by the Japan Congress against Atomic and Nuclear Bombs. Thousands of demonstrators marched in front of the building, some carrying placards reading: “We don’t want nuclear power plants”.

A minute’s silence was observed at various places nationwide at 2:46 p.m., the moment the 9.0-magnitude quake struck.

Russia Today – Jun 11/2011

Anger over Fukushima spills on streets in Tokyo anti-nuke protests

It’s exactly three months since the devastating earthquake and tsunami hit Japan, causing widespread destruction and leaving some 15,000 people dead. The nuclear crisis that followed shows no sign of abating as radiation continues to leak, forcing tens of thousands of evacuees into crowded shelters. Our correspondent Sean Thomas is in Tokyo where anger over the situation is spilling onto the streets.

Earless Rabbit

New fears about nuclear radiation have come out after a rabbit born close to Fukushima was discovered to have no ears. The oddity apparently occurred in the town of Namie Tsushima, which is outside the 30 kilometer area or outside the mandatory evacuation zone. Is this just a naturally occurring genetic mutation or something caused by radiation? The question is moot as it is well serving to panic an already upset public.

Russia Today – Jun 3/2011

Fukushima mutant rabbit: Earless bunny born near radiation zone

A nuclear rabbit has sparked online panic in Japan. Amateur footage shows an earless mutant rabbit, and the person who made the video claims it was shot just outside the exclusion zone near Japan’s crippled Fukushima plant. The clip has given rise to fears the radiation threat in the area is far worse than previously thought. The funny bunny has caused an online frenzy, with predictions that babies in Japan may soon be born with mutations.

Uploaded by connectingdots1 on May 24, 2011

Fukushima “ear-less bunny” is first, deformed human babies may be next in the list.

After the nuclear accident, government and the media said there was no immediate effect on the health. But in the town of Namie Tsushima, which is outside the 30 kilometer area or outside the mandatory evacuation zone, it happened.

[This appears to be a copy of the original amateur video clip.]

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E9XTcmxiANE

(The Montreal Gazette, The Times of India, The Daily Mail)

References

Wikipedia: 2011 Tōhoku earthquake and tsunami

The 2011 Tōhoku earthquake, also known as the Great East Japan Earthquake, was a magnitude 9.0 (Mw) undersea megathrust earthquake off the coast of Japan that occurred at 14:46 JST (05:46 UTC) on Friday, 11 March 2011, with the epicenter approximately 70 kilometres (43 mi) east of the Oshika Peninsula of Tōhoku and the hypocenter at an underwater depth of approximately 32 km (20 mi). It was the most powerful known earthquake to have hit Japan, and one of the five most powerful earthquakes in the world overall since modern record-keeping began in 1900. The earthquake triggered extremely destructive tsunami waves of up to 38.9 metres (128 ft) that struck Japan, in some cases traveling up to 10 km (6 mi) inland. In addition to loss of life and destruction of infrastructure, the tsunami caused a number of nuclear accidents, primarily the ongoing level 7 meltdowns at three reactors in the Fukushima I Nuclear Power Plant complex, and the associated evacuation zones affecting hundreds of thousands of residents. The overall cost could exceed US$300 billion, making it the most expensive natural disaster on record.

Wikipedia: Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster

The Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster is a series of equipment failures, nuclear meltdowns, and releases of radioactive materials at the Fukushima I Nuclear Power Plant, following the 9.0 magnitude Tōhoku earthquake and tsunami on 11 March 2011. The plant comprises six separate boiling water reactors maintained by the Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO). This accident is the largest of the 2011 Japanese nuclear accidents arising from the Tōhoku earthquake and tsunami, and experts consider it to be the second largest nuclear accident after the Chernobyl disaster, but more complex as multiple reactors are involved.

Wikipedia: Timeline of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear accidents

Monday, June 6

NISA releases new estimates of the times at which the reactor pressure vessels were breached: 5 hours after the great earthquake for reactor 1 (20:00 March 11), 80 hours for reactor 2 (22:50 March 14), and 79 hours for reactor 3 (22:10 March 14).

Tuesday, June 7

The Japanese government raises concerns that nuclear fuel has melted through the bottoms of the reactor pressure vessels.

Wednesday, June 8

The ministry of education says that Strontium 89 Sr and 90 Sr have been detected in soil samples 22-62km away from Fukushima Daiichi plant, collected from late March to early May. Highest values reported in Namie town, at 1,500Bq/kg of Strontium 89 Sr, and 250Bq/kg of Strontium 90 Sr.

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