Wednesday 4 September 2013

Contaminated Water

Contaminated Water - osensui  汚染水 - we hear the word all the time but it's another new word which along with the word for Decontamination - josen  除染 -  you won't find in any Japanese dictionary. How our lives have changed.

Contaminated Water, particularly the issue of leaking tanks at Fukushima Daiichi, has been top of the national news and made headlines across the world. After the Prime Minister announced last month that the government would step in, money has been found from this year's budget and a special 'Contaminated Water' post set up within METI (Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry). Today there was an announcement of government plans to tackle the problem. Promises of money (which is welcome) but nothing new.

There are over 1,000 tanks holding 340,000 tons of contaminated water on-site. The current problem is with 300 tanks which are bolted rather than welded together. Yesterday's paper says extremely high airborne radiation of 1,700 mSv/hr has been detected in one of the tank areas. Spare a thought for the 3,000 people working there, in radiation suits, full face masks, and with temperatures still reaching highs of 30'C.

Maybe the government can coordinate policy on contaminated water and work out ways to stop it increasing and ways to deal with it - in place of the stop-gap measures until now. But with the Prime Minister swanning off on foreign trips to sell nuclear power overseas (you'd think he'd get his own house in order first), with no discussion in the Diet (broken up for elections in July and not back until October), there's still a general lack of a sense of crisis. No wonder the fishermen at a meeting with Tepco today were getting very angry indeed.

Electricity bills in our region (Tohoku Electricity) went up on the 1st of the month, the first increase in 33 years. The cost of electricity will rise 9% for households and 15% for businesses. This is the price we have to pay for the nuclear power stations being shut down - the cost of all that imported LNG. But it is strange. There doesn't seem to have been a shortage of electricity this summer - and it was a very hot summer. It does make you wonder what all that saving back in the summer of 2011 was for? There were peak cuts, fines for businesses, everyone was cutting back hard on usage. Maybe if people had kept in saving mode, we wouldn't have needed the price increases? But it seems consumption is back to normal, more fossil fuel LNG is being used, and prices are going up to pay for it. Not a good situation.

There's a typhoon sitting south of Kyushu that won't budge so we've had high humidity (60% on my home thermometer) for the past two days with unsettled weather. Hope it improves by the weekend. I'm going camping!

1 comment:

  1. Anne, please continue with your thoughtful posts. They are a useful compliment to the other news being posted about the situation in your part of the world. If you happen to know about any worthy causes or groups operating locally, do either write about them or let me know through email...many thanks!