SVCF Bulletin No. 45 issued on November 5, 2013

Regular Diet Meeting held

On Thursday October 24, 2013, the 26th regular Diet meeting was held in meeting room No. B103 of the House of Councilors Hall, with approximately 50 attendees.

One main topic this time was a lecture on the radioactive damage due to the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant accident, by Mr. Tatsuo Hirano, House of Councilors member, former Minister of Recovery in charge of East Japan Great Earthquake issues, maverick, who has recently visited the actual site to access the damage.

Another main topic was a problem presentation on “Seniors’ role: what should we do for the clean-up work in the damaged Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant,” by SVCF Director, Mr. Yoshio Hirai.

Diet member Hirano’s foremost concern was what views and expertise Ukrainian doctors and researchers concluded regarding the value of radiation level of 20 millisievert per year stipulated as an evacuation standard by the Japanese government.  To this theme, he mentioned that he hardly heard negative views against his expectation.

In the subsequent discussion with participants, he commented on the clean-up works for the damaged Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant; “I understand we are to proceed within the framework that puts together international power and wisdom in technical challenges. The Japanese government engages itself too. However, I don’t understand why TEPCO should remain disassociated.”

Following the lecture by Diet member Hirano, Mr. Yoshio Hirai, Director of SVCF, took the podium. Reminding us of the original principle of SVCF, he presented his personal plan of what direction SVCF should take in the future; a lively discussion ensued. (Please refer to next page).

At this point, Ms. Tomoko Abe, the House of Representatives member, Future Japan Party, Ms. Hiroe Makiyama, the House of Councilors member, Democratic Party, and Mr. Hiroshi Sakurai, House of the Representatives member, Liberal Democratic Party visited and gave complimentary greetings.

Kawauchi Village Reconstruction Festival

Fifteen SVCF members, both regular and supporting, took part in the 2013 Kawauchi Village Reconstruction Festival on October 20, 2013. In the SVCF booth a professional photographer, Mr. Hiroaki Miyagi, took portrait photos for visitors free of charge. Ms. Yoko Matsubara, painter, and Ms. Yuriko Sugiyama, portrait painter, similarly drew portraits free of charge. They were well appreciated.

One of our participants, Mr. Hiroji Nasuno, contributed a report.  The following is his text for your reference.

Joining the 2013 Kawauchi Village Reconstruction Festival

This is my second time, after my first meeting with President Yamada when he came down to Nagano city in November 2012 for a teach-in session in the Nagano area.

My personal reasons for applying to join SVCF were: 1. Mood, management, and Secretariat members. 2. Active members. 3. If enrolled, what can I as a novice do about radiology.

Entering the Fukushima prefecture, we noticed widespread growth of the weed solidago altissima, tall goldenrod, a symbol of devastation, all over the so-called middle area. The growth was so dense that we hardly saw the original land shape after 3 desert seasons.

In the mountainous area of Kawauchi village, we saw a worrisome area due to land slide where trees had been cut down and underbrush had been weeded on a steep slope.  We wish to weed most in fallow fields and their surroundings. Although weeds are quite useful for making soil fertile and for preventing landslides, we still felt sorry to see rampant weeds.

In a social gathering on October 19, I was moved to learn of the high motives of the various members. On the main day it rained since morning, however, lots of people showed up at the festival. In the afternoon, Dr. Shiotani guided Mr. Miura, Mr. Sakamoto and myself in the village. Dosimeters installed by Kyushu University and Kyoto University were acknowledged. As for the Fukushima Project by Child Energy, which had built a factory in the village after the earthquake, we learned of a plan for restoration of an old thatched house, as a community space for the symbol of reconstruction.

In the blog of Child Energy, I saw an original image of this old thatched house before the restoration. When I saw the restored thatched roof and inside ceiling and compared it to the original shape, I had to admire “how marvelously the details were restored.”  It seems to me a classic example of local company.

Only by being on site we could really see the support and assistance coming from Kyushu, Kyoto, Osaka and other places throughout Japan. If Kawauchi village were among the first to declare the returning home it would be a good example. There must be towns and villages that have lost the chance of media coverage. In the future, we need to watch and follow these forlorn autonomous bodies.

Seniors’ role: What can we do for the cleanup work in the damaged Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant?

Problem presentation in the 26th Diet Meeting

The following is a summary made by Director Yoshio Hirai for a problem presentation at the Diet meeting on October 24. (Full text is presented on the SVCF Website.)  “Though this is strictly my personal view, I wish you to develop further discussion on this springboard. Yoshio Hirai, Director”

In the year 1986 Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant accident, so many people were sacrificed on the altar of fire fighting and containment in the early stages. There is a cenotaph in their memory. This is heroic sacrifice indeed. This word “heroic sacrifice” was also used in the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant accident. On March 16 immediately after the accident, United States Assistant Secretary of State called Japanese Ambassador to America in his office and stated “Hundreds of instances of heroic sacrifice may be necessary.”

The then Prime Minister Naoto Kan ordered a call-out to the Self Defense Ground Force. A helicopter, hovering at the height of 30 meters amid horrifying radiation levels of 247 Sievert per hour, discharged tons of cooling water onto the stricken reactors. The Chief of Staff, Ground Self-Defense Force, even planned a desperate mission which would have forced paratroopers shouldering packs of boracic acid to rope down from hovering helicopters onto the site.

Mr. Eiji Oguma, sociologist and professor of Keio University, who had met and discussed with former Prime Minister Kan at a debate concerning the retreat of Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant workers between TEPCO and the Prime Minister residence immediately after the accident, mentioned the following in a magazine, Gendai Shiso, March 2013 edition. (Seido Publisher)

“In order to maintain the nuclear power generation system, a group of technicians who obeys a dangerous order, which may be fatal, must be established somewhere in the government. Otherwise, a systematic and ethical defect, not in an emotional but logical sense, remains intrinsically.” “Where will such a group be formed, under what administration in the government? Who does so?”

The Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant accident posed this quite serious question to our society. Against “Who does so?” in chief, Senior Veterans Corps for Fukushima applied upmost. Thus, our starting point was a sort of suicide squad to undertake possibly deadly missions.

The most advantageous point for the engagement of seniors in an action plan lies in assuming and lessening a radiation risk in place of young workers on the site. If we push this idea ahead, we don’t have to limit our role in a deadly mission at all. If seniors take even a small part, the irradiation of young people decreases in proportion to the seniors’ input.

Nevertheless, SVCF has not been allowed to participate in any clean-up works, even more than two and half years since the accident. The greatest obstacle is that the Japanese government left all the decision-making to TEPCO to settle in the historically configured stubborn multi-layered subcontracting system. As an alternative, we have proposed a legislation of a national project to manage the decommissioning of stricken reactors. Put simply, the reason why we so propose is not aiming at our participation but worrying the incompetence of the TEPCO’s management under the present organizational approach.

Voices against TEPCO’s own authority gain momentum day by day. Diet member Toshimori Oshima, Director of Promotion of Recovery Headquarters, Liberal Democratic Party proposed three plans to the Prime Minister on September 18.

1. Decommissioning Department is to be separated from TEPCO. TEPCO main body concentrates on management and recompense.

2. A Decommissioning Agency is to be established in the Executive Branch

3. An Independent Executive Body to exclusively handle decommissioning is to be established.

On September 17, the Democratic Party summed up a plan to establish a newly authorized “Decommissioning Institute” to expedite clean-up works. Constituent personnel and technology are recruited from TEPCO in charge and research organizations. National funds are to be appropriated clarifying the responsibility and reliability as a national project.

A movement toward the nationalization of clean-up works seems to be increasingly dominant in our public mind. What if the clean-up works were legalized, how should the SVCF be engaged in the project?

As to how we could be able to engage, I will state my rough idea.

In the body of a nationalized project, we establish a specific unit for seniors to educate themselves, to practice, train and let them work in various stages.

The unit goes into action for essential works that need manual input, since robots cannot cope in some highly radiating conditions.

The unit stands by for desperate missions in order to prevent a catastrophe from happening in an emergency.

Besides the above particular case, the unit will be properly deployed in every clean-up work.

They publicly solicit necessary personnel.

When the particular senior unit is established as a part of the national project, SVCF disbands the body and constituent members apply for the recruitment. This is merely my individual plan. When it comes to naming a national project, plenty of forms are available. Government bureaucrats may take a lead with the remaining multi-layered subcontracting system and enforce the present vested-interest structure for seeking national funds.

On the other hand, we don’t have to wait for the establishment of seniors’ units in the national project. We should stay consistent in requesting our participation in clean-up works.

According to a chart drawn by Mr. Mori of the Watchers’ Team, in which the horizontal axis represents degree of work difficulty and the vertical axis shows radiation strength, low difficulty and high radiation works appropriate to SVCF’s intent and present capability, are monitoring in the site, surveillance of absorbing vessels, routes, and storage water tanks.

In particular, the watching of storage tanks is very important, in view of the necessity to cope with the serious issue of contaminated water leaks. A request to make SVCF members available for patrol staffing really serves this purpose. We may add this in an agenda for the regular meeting with TEPCO.

Nevertheless, if the present system for clean-up works remains intact, SVCF’s tank surveillance may still be accepted, and we will be virtually incorporated in the TEPCO’s subcontracting system. Some say this goes against SVCF’s principle; consistently seeking for the nationalization of clean-up project.

In closing, I wish to hear your views and opinions. Also I invite lively discussion.