Meiji ignored tipoffs on cesium in formula (Japan Times, Dec 11)

Meiji Co. was tipped off on three separate occasions in mid-November that its milk formula may be contaminated with radioactive cesium, but ignored the information for about two weeks, sources said.

The major food maker only looked into the matter after it was approached by Kyodo News and a citizens’ group earlier this month, the sources said.

Meiji said it had initially concluded that “further investigation was unnecessary” because one of the tipoffs was made by an anonymous caller and the other two, from concerned consumers, cited Internet information the company was unable to confirm.

Meiji subsequently found up to 30.8 becquerels per kilogram in its Meiji Step milk powder.

“We would like to respond with greater sensitivity (to such tipoffs) from now on,” a Meiji official said.

On Nov. 14, an anonymous caller informed Meiji’s customer service section that a citizen’s group in Fukushima Prefecture had detected cesium in the company’s milk formula in late October, according to sources.

Two consumers also contacted Meiji the same day, saying they had seen information about the suspected contamination of its milk powder on the Internet. Meiji’s customer service, however, told them that the company conducts monthly checks on its products and assured them there was no problem with Meiji Step, the sources said.

Health minister Yoko Komiyama said Friday that the ministry will regularly test baby food products for radioactive contamination in light of Meiji’s cesium-tainted milk powder, even though the level detected was far less than the government-set limit of 200 becquerels per kilogram.

The tests will be conducted at least every three months, she told a news conference.

The radioactive cesium found in Meiji’s milk formula was the first time contamination has been detected in baby food since the start of the nuclear disaster at the Fukushima No. 1 plant.

The case has attracted much attention amid concerns that babies are more susceptible to the harmful effects of radioactive materials than adults.

“As mothers and other consumers are very concerned (about radiation), we want to carry out regular tests,” Komiyama said.

The ministry found no radioactive cesium when it tested 25 baby products in July and August.

Half of Fukushima examinees exposed to radiation above annual limts (Asahi, Dec10)

FUKUSHIMA — Hundreds of residents in Fukushima Prefecture checked for radiation exposure after the nuclear accident there had levels exceeding what the government says is the safe annual limit

Residents exposed to high doses of radiation (Yomiuri, Dec.10)

A Fukushima prefectural government survey on residents’ external radiation exposure showed those in government-set evacuation zones were likely exposed to annualized radiation doses of up to 14 millisieverts, government sources said Friday.

This is the first statistical data indicating external radiation exposure among people living around the crippled Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant.

The prefectural government sent questionnaires to about 29,000 residents from Iitatemura, Namiemachi and the Yamakiya area in Kawamatamachi, which are designated as in either a no-entry zone or expanded evacuation zone, between late June and mid-July, ahead of those in other areas. The survey covered the four months after the crisis began.

The figure is based on analysis of questionnaires from 1,730 people who responded early. The prefectural Fukushima Medical University and the National Institute of Radiological Sciences analyzed the results of the survey.

About half of the surveyed residents from the three municipalities are believed to have been exposed to external radiation of at least the government-set annual limit of 1 millisievert, according to the sources.

While the prefecture projected the annualized external radiation exposure would be up to 5 millisieverts for most residents, the figure was 10 millisieverts or higher for about 10 residents.

Among those examined, a Fukushima plant worker was estimated to have been exposed to a maximum annualized dose of 37 millisieverts, while the highest dose among non-plant workers was 14 millisieverts. The resident is suspected to have gone through a highly contaminated area at the time of evacuation, according to the sources.

The prefectural government has been conducting health surveys on those who lived in the prefecture when the crisis broke out at the plant.

The prefectural government plans to release the survey results by the end of December.

Meanwhile, the city government of Koriyama, also in the prefecture, announced Thursday four primary and middle school students’ cumulative radiation exposure exceeded 0.40 millisievert in the month from Oct. 5. The dose translates into an annualized dose of 4 millisieverts or more, city officials said.

The data was obtained from measurements by dosimeters that gauge cumulative radiation exposure. The city government distributed the dosimeters to 25,551 primary and middle school students. The cumulative radiation exposure levels among the students ranged between 0.01 millisieverts and 0.45 millisieverts, the city said.

“Experts told us the figures [for the four students] do not represent health problems, but we’d like to question the students to find out why their radiation exposure levels were high,” a city official said.

The International Commission on Radiological Protection sets the annual limit for radiation exposure at 20 to 100 millisieverts at the time of an emergency and 1 to 20 millisieverts after the disaster has been contained.

Fukushima officials: Rice checks inadequate (Asahi, Dec 10)

After a spate of rice crops were found with cesium levels exceeding safety limits, the Fukushima prefectural government has come under fire for insufficient testing and initial announcements that this year’s harvest was safe

Wild monkeys to carry forest fallout monitors (Japan Times, Dec 8)

Fukushima University researchers plan to measure forest radiation levels in Fukushima Prefecture by placing special monitoring collars on wild monkeys

TEPCO shelves plan to dump radioactive water into sea (Asahi, 12/10) | Fisheries demand TEPCO drop water-release plan (Dec 9)

3,790 Bq/kg from mushroom logs (Fukushima Diary, Dec 8)

EDITORIAL: Education ministry needs to get its act together(Asahi, Dec 10)

Radioactive water leaks at Genkai (Dec. 10, 2011 Japan Times)

Mayor irate as utility fails to reveal glitch at suspended reactor…

SAGA — Kyushu Electric Power Co. said Saturday that 1.8 tons of radioactive water leaked in the purification system of an idled reactor at the Genkai power plant in Saga Prefecture, and drew flak for failing to promptly disclose the incident to local authorities.

The utility detected the leak Friday morning but only told local governments it was having pump troubles with its No. 3 reactor, which is undergoing a regular check.

The lack of disclosure upset Genkai Mayor Hideo Kishimoto.

“It should have been reported properly (to the town of Genkai and Saga Prefecture). I have been repeatedly telling Kyushu Electric to change its corporate culture,” he said.

The water leaked from a joined area involving the pumps but did not result in radioactive material exiting the reactor building, the utility said.

The water has been completely recovered but the intensity of the radioactive matter it contained is unknown, Kyushu Electric added.

On Friday, the company said the leak alarm system was triggered after the temperature at the base of one of the pumps passed 80 degrees, but that the leak wasn’t discovered because the water did not leave the purification system.

The Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency said the leak within the purification system did not pose an immediate safety threat and urged Kyushu Electric to investigate the cause.

The plant’s reactor 4 resumed operation in early November, becoming the first to be restarted since the nuclear crisis erupted at the Fukushima No. 1 power plant.

The reactor had been taken offline after developing a technical problem.

Japan Split on Hope for Vast Radiation Cleanup (NY Times, Dec 6)

Indignez-Vous! ‘Fukushima,’ New Media and Anti-Nuclear Activism in Japan by Nicola Liscutin (Japan Focus)

Anti-nuclear activism in Japan has grown at astonishing speed in response to the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear crisis and its handling by the authorities. Over the past months, not a week has gone by without anti-nuclear protests taking place somewhere in Japan (see the nation-wide action calendar). In September, an intriguing array of new and established citizens’ movements had called for an ‘anti-nuclear action week’ that was packed with rallies, lectures, symposia, film screenings, exhibitions and various other events. On 9.11, protests were staged across Japan, with three demonstrations in Tokyo alone. The action week culminated in a c. 60,000 people rally in Meiji Park on September 19 (link) kicking off a movement to collect 10 million signatures for the Sayonara Gempatsu petition (link). Given that by the summer, forgetting seemed already to have begun, at least beyond Tōhoku,6 the nation-wide spread of these protests and their demographics are remarkable: from seasoned demonstrators to the many who confessed that this was their very first protest action; from families bringing their toddlers and children, to teenagers, students, freeters, the middle-aged, and pensioners. These demonstrations may still be small by comparison to the largest historical demonstrations, but as Karatani Kōjin emphasized in his speech at the Shinjuku rally, ‘by demonstrating we create a society that will protest.’7… Read more here