Date : October 11 - 12, 2017
Report: Fukushima Press Tour（Date : October 11 – 12）
post date : 2017.12.20
A press tour to Fukushima, six years after the Great East Japan Earthquake.
１．Current state of Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station and
measures for decommissioning and handling contaminated water
２．Fukushima’s efforts to ensure food safety
Eleven journalists from nine media organizations joined this press tour, from China, Denmark, France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Switzerland, the US, and Vietnam. The tour visited Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station and Naraha Remote Technology Development Center to learn about the current condition of the power stations and the latest efforts towards its decommissioning. The journalists also learned about the repeated testing carried out in a cooperative effort between government, producers, and distributors to ensure agricultural and fisheries products shipped from Fukushima are safe.
[Press Tour Details]
Wednesday, October 11 to Thursday, October 12, 2017
２．Press Tour Schedule:
Click here for tour announcement
[Day 1: Wednesday, October 11, 2017]
(1) Fukushima Prefectural Office
At the Fukushima Prefectural Office, the tour received a briefing from Mr. Nobuhide Takahashi, Deputy Director of Fukushima Prefecture Revitalization and Comprehensive Planning Division, about the process of reconstruction in the six years since the Great East Japan Earthquake. He spoke about how evacuation orders due to the nuclear disaster continue to be lifted, and presented detailed data showing the declining trend of the radiation air dose rate measured through environmental radiation monitoring. He also explained the Fukushima Innovation Coast Initiative, which aims to create new businesses and employment through research and development related to decommissioning and robotics, in order to help businesses and employment in the Hamadori region which were damaged by the earthquake and nuclear disaster to recover, leading to residents returning to the area and helping the recovery of the prefecture as a whole. Mr. Takahashi also commented how since baseball and softball matches will be held in Fukushima during the 2020 Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics, the prefecture would like to put even greater efforts into tourism recovery as well.
The journalists asked questions such as “Compared to 2011, how has the total productivity of Fukushima prefecture changed,” “What do you think about restarting nuclear power plants? Will you be pushing for the decommissioning of Fukushima Daini Nuclear Power Station,” “How do Fukushima residents feel about the treatment of contaminated water and soil? What solution would they like to see,” “You mentioned that tourists are returning to tourist spots in Fukushima prefecture, but have there been any changes to the routes taken for tourism since the earthquake,” and “When will J-village (soccer training camp for national team) reopen?”
(2) Fukushima Agricultural Technology Centre
At the Fukushima Agricultural Technology Centre, the journalists learned about radiation monitoring tests which are carried out on all agricultural, forestry, and marine products produced in Fukushima intended for sale, followed by a briefing from Mr. Kenji Kusano, Subdirector of Fukushima Prefecture Agricultural Safety Promotion Department.
In order to avoid affecting the products to be tested, only a few journalists entered the testing room as representatives, with the rest viewing from outside the room. According to Mr. Kusano, after the products to be sampled are prepared by washing and cutting them, analysis is carried out using 11 germanium semiconductor detectors. Over 150 samples are tested per day, with the results posted on the prefecture’s website.
Mr. Kusano mentioned that every year many reporters and delegations visit the Centre from abroad. He also noted that there were cases of import restrictions being lifted thanks to reports making accurate information available in those countries on the steps taken to insure food safety.
Journalists asked questions such as whether normal food products were tested as well, if tests were being carried out on products from throughout the entire prefecture, and if the price of agricultural products had returned to pre-earthquake levels.
Photo: Taken from outside the testing room
(3) Fukushima Marine Products Test Station*
Mr. Yoshiharu Nemoto, Director of Fukushima Prefecture Fishery Environment Division, explained the unique characteristics of the fishing industry in Fukushima, the effects of the nuclear accident on the fishing industry, and radiation monitoring tests on seafood, providing detailed data and pointing out specific types of fish as he did so. According to Mr. Nemoto, approximately 200 fish and shellfish specimens are tested every week in Fukushima, with a total of 192 species having been tested since the earthquake. The results of the radiation monitoring tests indicate that the concentration of radioactive cesium in seafood has noticeably dropped, with zero specimens in the over two years since April 2015 having levels over the safety level specified by the national government. During all of 2016, no radioactive cesium was detected in 95% of the specimens tested.
However, with the total catch in 2016 only about 8% of pre-earthquake levels, due to operations being carried out only on a trial basis, the journalists asked questions such as “Is the catch so small because of the lower numbers of fishers and because of damage to boats, or is it due to restrictions on selling the catch,” and “What is the biggest obstacle to the fishing industry?”
*As the Fukushima Marine Products Test Station was under renovation, the briefing was held at the facility at Onahama Port.
(4) Spa Resort Hawaiians
Mr. Masahiro Gunji, General Manager of Spa Resort Hawaiians, explained the history behind Hawaiians being made in the coal mining town of Iwaki, its recovery after suffering major damage in the Great East Japan Earthquake, and the activities of its hula girls. The journalists then watched a performance by the hula girls, and were able to see how busy Hawaiians was with tourists, despite it being a weekday.
The journalists were surprised to find out that the number of guests using Hawaiians, both guests staying overnight and those not, had surpassed pre-earthquake numbers, and the resort had succeeded in increasing revenue and profit. Questions included what the ratio of foreign tourists visiting Spa Resort Hawaiians was.
[Day 2: Thursday, October 12, 2017]
(5) Onahama Port
Fukushima Prefecture is carrying out monitoring to ensure the safety of types of fish specified for current trial operations of the fishing industry, but in order to be even more sure, a testing machine has been set up in the fish market in Onahama Port to carry out voluntary testing whenever a catch is brought in. The Fukushima Prefectural Federation of Fisheries Co-operative Associations set their independent guidelines for acceptable radiation levels to ship fish at 50 becquerels per kilogram. This is in order to ensure that they will never sell any fish with radiation levels over those set by the nationally government, 100 becquerels per kilogram. The journalists interviewed local members of the fishing industry, and watched the voluntary monitoring tests being carried out.
The journalists asked questions such as what compensation fishing industry workers received while they are unable to fish, and what actions they would like to see the government take.
(6) Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station
Mr. Daisuke Hirose, Group Manager of Public Relations and Press Division, Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings, Inc. explained the current situation with Units 1 to 4 at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station, the roadmap for removing melted fuel (fuel debris), measures to deal with contaminated water, placing impermeable walls, and improving the work environment for workers in the power station. The journalists then took a specialized bus into the station’s grounds, getting off the bus at specific points and view Units 1 to 4, contaminated water tanks, and damage from the tsunami that is still visible. It is no longer necessary to wear a mask and coveralls over the entire face and body when entering the station’s grounds, and so the journalists entered by wearing vests, helmets, goggles, disposable non-woven face masks, gloves, socks, and safety shoes over their normal long-sleeved shirts and ankle-length pants. The “green zone” where it is safe to travel through and work in this type of clothing now covers 95% of the site.
The journalists asked questions such as how much water was contaminated each day, how long it took to purify the contaminated water, whether the position of the fuel debris within the reactor had been determined, and whether all the impermeable walls had been completed.
Photos: Taken by a representative
(7) Naraha Remote Technology Development Center
To decommission Fukushima Daiichi, remote controlled robots will be required for performing work in areas with a high air dose rate. The Naraha Remote Technology Development Center is involved in developing and performing trial tests of these types of robots, and has also been developing technology to allow workers to control robots using a virtual reality system. After hearing an explanation about the Center from its director, Dr. Masahiro Ishihara, the journalists took a tour of the test wing guided by Dr. Hiroyuki Daido, Senior Associate.
Below are some of the articles and programs produced by the journalists based on this press tour.
Click the title of the articles below and you can read the original articles.
◆Xinhua News Agency (China)
◆ABC Spanish Daily Newspaper（Spain）