Thursday, September 28, 2017

A summary of the nuclear power plants and disaster victims

   Thank you for your daily attention to the Fukushima victims. I am doing the best I physically can to write about the nuclear power plant and Fukushima victims, please have a read if you can. I appreciate your interest.

[The nuclear power plant and Fukushima]

    Tokai Power Station was Japan’s first nuclear power station. It opened on October 26th, 1963.
     The Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO) started construction for the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Plant on September 29th, 1967.  The plant started operations on March 26th, 1971. The Great East Japan Earthquake and Tsunami happened 40 years later, on March 11th, 2011. One day after, on the 12th, the unit one reactor exploded. Then, on the 14th, the unit three reactor exploded. The wind carried the radiation and spread radioactive pollution all around Fukushima, the Kanto region, and to the Pacific coast.

     The Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant is located in the towns of Okuma and Futaba, in Futaba County, Fukushima prefecture.
     It is said that the disaster area from the nuclear power plant was mainly in Futaba County and Minamisoma City. (the actual radioactive contamination has polluted further areas around Fukushima.) The town of Okuma in Futaba County, and the town of Futaba are where the reactor units exploded. Areas affected by the disaster include: the towns of Namie, Tomioka, Naraha, Hirono, Kawauchi village, Tokuro-cho, Katsurao village, Tsushima, Iitate village, and Minamisoma City (which includes Kashima, Haramachi, and Kodaka).

     On March 12th, at 1:36pm, the first reactor unit experienced a hydrogen explosion. But the victims were not informed about it.

    In the town of Okuma: They say residents evacuated to community centers after the earthquake. People heard the explosion. However, the residents were not informed about the hydrogen explosion. Kids were innocently playing outside and victims believe that’s when they were exposed to radiation. About 10 buses arrived and residents were told to get on the bus. Residents had to wait several hours for the bus to finally take off, but no one knew anything. Even though they had plenty of time, they didn't go back to get their valuables because they were not aware of the situation. Many regretful victims said that if they had known the buses were for evacuation they would have gone back to get valuables. Okuma town residents were evacuated to Urabandai. Later, temporary housing facilities were built in Aizuwakamatsu and Iwaki City, and they lived there.
    In the town of Futaba: Mayor Idogawa knew about the dangers of radiation, so he was against building a nuclear power plant in Futaba. Because of his opposition, Futaba received comparatively less in their regional revival grant from the government than other cities. Futaba was struggling financially as a result. When the mayor found out about the explosion, he and other Futaba residents evacuated to Kazo in Saitama prefecture.

[The government’s response to the nuclear power plant victims]

    The government did not take responsibility and did not compensate for the nuclear disaster. Instead, it put all the responsibility on TEPCO, including compensation for the victims.
    TEPCO determined those eligible for compensation to be individuals within a radius of 20km from the power plant. TEPCO and the government have declared that they are not responsible for anyone outside the 20km zone.

    For those within the 20km zone, affected people have been given 100,000 yen per person every month since March 2011, plus rent money and medical expense coverage until they are given permission to return home. I repeat though, TEPCO only offered compensation to people within the 20km range and nothing was offered to those outside of it. Radiation was blown by the wind and reached beyond 20km, so some locations outside the 20km zone have experienced even higher radiation. However, since TEPCO defined the compensation range as 20km, anyone farther than 20km has not been given any compensation or help.

    Even in the case of tsunami victims, TEPCO did not even consider them if they were outside the 20km, and they did not qualify for compensation. However, the government did offer a consolation payment of 3,000,000 yen for families that lost their main income provider and 2,800,000 yen for anyone else lost.

[Types of Fukushima victims that need help]

    Those that lost their homes and everything because it was wiped out by the tsunami. There are people who cannot get back on their feet and rebuild their life and who cannot survive off of just the national pension. (Those in Kashima of Minamisoma, Haramachi, Kodaka, Namie, Futaba, Okuma, Tomioka, Naraha, and those along the coast in Hirano)

    Those victims outside the 20km zone struggling economically due to radiation contaminating their farms, and thus affecting their income. People who live alone without family support, the elderly, the sick, and those who are struggling in general.

    The hometowns of the disaster-affected people, where they have not returned for 6 years, have become a wasteland. They are now home to wild animals, with no hospitals and shops; it’s no place for anyone to live. Despite this, the government made a declaration this March that it is safe to return back to these places. The government closed the temporary housing facilities. I believe disaster-affected people who returned to their hometowns (which are in bad condition) are in dire need of everyone’s help. Especially those who cannot fix their homes because they don’t have money, those who don’t have any family members, those who are living alone, the elderly, and the sick.

    Along National Highway No. 399, between elevation levels of 400m to 700m, are Kawauchi village, Tokuro, Katsurao village, Tsushima,and Iitate village. Because of their high elevation, it is extremely cold. These villages, towns, and cities do not have many industries and sources of income, so they were already struggling financially. Now, with the radioactive contamination, the economy is getting worse and decontamination work is becoming the main source of income for many people.

    We kindly ask for those who can help to help as much as possible. Thank you.

[Contact Information]

Momoko Fukuoka
Fax: 047-346-8675

(I would like to request that calls to be made between 11:00 AM - 5:30 PM local time in Japan. Depending on my health, it may take some time for me to respond. If this happens, please try calling back again.)

Translation: Erica Kohagizawa
Editing: Karen Rogers, Rachel Clark

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