SVCF Bulletin No. 30 issued on December 15, 2012

Current State of Affairs and the Future of SVCF

It has been nearly a year and a half since SVCF first stepped forward.  We were told at that time by TEPCO that they didn’t have the wherewithal to bring SVCF in, and to this day, we are still unable to get involved in the work at Fukushima #1 Nuclear Power Plant. The SVCF members who have signed up for this project have experienced nothing but continued frustration.  Therefore, I would like to take this opportunity to figure out what the problem is, and determine what the future activities of the SVCF are going to be.

1. SVCF’s Appeal

The SVCF’s request has always been simple and clear: to allow seniors to help out with the post-accident cleanup. Behind the refusal of our appeal are a variety of organizations and regulations, as well as societal and economical barriers.

2. Fukushima #1 Nuclear Power Plant’s Emergency Services

A gradual, 40-year decommissioning of the 1F reactor is planned, which means that basic facilities that will withstand earthquakes and tsunamis are required. However, for example, when it comes to the temporary levee (please see photo #2, below) during this 40 year period, there are no plans to reconstruct a permanent levee to replace it.  The situation is similar for the storage tanks that hold the contaminated water and the pipes. Cleaning up the 1F will be a significantly more difficult project than rebuilding the production equipment and buildings.  However, TEPCO does not have the ability to administer or implement such a project.  In comparison, during the Three Mile Island disaster, a leading engineering company called Bechtel was brought in to administer and operate their project.

3. The Radiation Issue at Fukushima #1 Nuclear Power Plant

The radiation issue is something that must be dealt with.  In 2009, the nationwide radiation levels at the nuclear facilities were 84 Sv/person, but in the year since the accident, the radiation levels at 1F alone was 247 Sv/person (the levels at 1F alone was three times that of the entire country), which will inevitably lead to big problems as they try to find workers for the next 40 years.  Additionally, when debris was removed after the accident at Three Mile Island, greater radiation exposure than immediately after the accident was revealed, which confirms our belief that more drastic measures, including the involvement of SVCF, is necessary.

4. Administrating and Operating Framework at the Fukushima #1 Nuclear Power Plant

The multi-layered subcontracting system is responsible for the recent “radiation concealment” and “illegal dispatching” issues, which have been written up in newspapers and magazines.  It has become the major structure that has helped support Japan’s heavy industries, but it is a structure in which the party placing the orders can deny responsibility, and it is not a system that is commonly found outside Japan. Under this system, TEPCO has 120 employees, and 2200 individuals that are employed by their subcontractors, over whom they have no control – this has become the norm. Unless we rebuild this structure, SVCF will have no chance to get involved. Nor will we be able to create a structure in which the radiation levels of the workers are monitored.

5. SVCF’s Future and our action agenda

It is now obvious that we need to prepare ourselves to deal with this issue in the long term. In order to realize our simple request: to help out with the post-accident cleanups, we must continuously appeal to Japanese government to make the following structural changes.

(1) The management of cleanup and decommissioning of reactors in Fukushima Daiichi must be operated as a National Project, and be completely independent from TEPCO’s control.

(2) All the hidden data and issues of Fukushima Daiichi must be disclosed to the public in order to call upon a great amount of expertise to resolve this cleanup and decommissioning project.

(3) The multi-layered subcontracting system must be abolished and an integrated project management system, which can effectively (control the workers’ radiation exposure and allocation of workers, needs to be established.

(4) International inspection teams must be formed to maintain the transparency of this project.

Along with the above appeal, we will continue to engage in other radioactive contamination related activities (ex. support action for the repatriation and resettlement of the refugees in Kawauchi village) and visit other countries to disseminate our appeal.  Our activities require great amounts of patience and persistency and we believe that one of our biggest challenges is not to give up, and to continue inspiring our next generation.

SVCF will visit TEPCO’s Fukushima Daini (No.2) Nuclear Power Plant in January, 2013

We will visit TEPCO’s Fukushima Daini (No.2) Nuclear Power Plant on January 16, 2013. This visit is one outcome of our negotiations with TEPCO. In Fukushima Daini there are four reactors, No. 1, 2, 3, 4 and all of them are currently under suspension.  Our main purpose of this visit is to study reactor No. 4. We are expecting to receive a lecture about the current status of the plant from the director of this facility.

We will continue to exert our efforts to visit more facilities through negotiation with TEPCO and we would like to make this first visit a fruitful one.  Another outcome of the negotiations with TEPCO is that we have managed to get two of our representatives accepted to take part in a “Radiation Management Personnel Training Course”.  This training course is hosted by the Japan Atomic Energy Agency (JAEA) and it will be held from Dec 17 to Dec 21, 2013.

Coach tour project “Let’s study more about Kawauchi Village”

On December 1 (Sat), SVCF organized a tour on a reserved coach to visit Kawauchi Village, Futaba County, Fukushima Pref. The number of participants was 25.

SVCF holds an agreement with the village office to provide assistance services in their repatriation program and has since been working according to this agreement.  The purpose of the tour was to allow SVCF members and supporters to know more about the village, and to contribute to a possible restart of the village’s tourism business, which is a part of the rehabilitation development programs of Kawauchi Village.

The coach started in front of Tokyo Station at 7:00 in the morning.  It started raining en route, and the rain gradually changed to snow as we proceeded to north.  Strong winds then turned the snowfall into a blizzard.  Fortunately the weather cleared up in the afternoon and we could enjoy the beautiful landscape of hills and dales colored in green, yellow and red, furthermore covered with a thin layer of snow.

We arrived at Kawauchi Village around noon.  During our lunch at a soba-bar “TENZAN”, which was a subsidiary of a Japanese-style Inn “KOMATSUYA”, we exchanged greetings with the landlord Mr. Ide, a member of the village assembly and chairman of the local chamber of commerce.  He regaled us with a spirited narrative of his experiences as a businessman preparing for the village’s rehabilitation.  There had been two inns in the village but one was closed for business due to the disaster.

Then we visited the village office and attended a briefing session by Mr. Juichi Ide, Manager of the Reconstruction Section.  He handed us a 24-page detailed dossier titled “Circumstances of Kawauchi Village after the accident of Fukushima Daiichi NPP and the story of evacuation, repatriation and reconstruction, prepared for the visit of SVCF members to Kawauchi”.  He explained the road of hardship from the accident until the present day, in line with the information booklet, for about an hour.

After the session Manager Ide guided us on a tour of the village for field observation.  The first highlights were Abukuma Folk Craft Museum and Tenzan Collection (jointly called Kusano Sinpei Memorial).  Next we visited a workshop of Kodomo Energy Co. Ltd., which was moving into Kawauchi Village, and also Kikuchi Seisakusho Co. Ltd., already operating in the village, where we, by courtesy of the company, got a demonstration of a gamma camera; we were coached by tour member Mr. Kunio Ito in the use of this camera for monitoring radiation.

During the tour Manager Ide, acting as a bus guide, explained , in considerable detail at the different locations the progress of decontamination and of infrastructure reconstruction . Some projects were at the land preparation stage, while some business hotels were already completed.  I still remenber his saying “The first prerequisite of returning home is the availability of shopping rather than that of employment.”

The tour was a one-day whirlwind trip, 9-hour riding and 4-hour short stay in the village, but I thought that it was a significantly meaningful one, containing the exchange with people of the affected area and a deepening of mutual trust; especially because it gave the first time visitors first hand knowledge of the devastated district.  (by Tour Leader Yoshio Hirai )

Signature campaign also conducted in Kansai

At 3 pm on Sunday, Nov. 18, 5 SVCF members and supporters who live in the Kansai area, in the western part of Japan, started a petition signature collecting campaign around the Nanba station in Osaka. It was the first street campaign in Kansai area.

In the neighborhood, the Christmas sale had already started and the streets were crowded with shoppers. Although the members were quite voluble, their voices were almost drowned out by the noise of the crowded street.  They still managed to collect signatures from one person out of 30, asking in a spirit of “go for broke”.

It was so cold that they wrapped up the campaign in an hour and a half, and had an evaluation meeting in a pub.  They discussed necessity of tools and techniques such as a campaign flag, a campaign bib, and so on.  Some member suggested a tour to Fukushima from Kansai area that might help participants understand the current Fukushima Nuclear Power Plant situation.