This tag is associated with 9 posts

Post-disaster evacuation boosts elderly’s mortality risk against non-evacuees, fukushima minpo, 11/29/2015

The rate of mortality among nursing home residents in the first year after being evacuated due to the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster was 2.68 times that in the previous five years, while the rate for those who were not evacuated was only 1.68 times, according to a study by researchers involved with hospitals in Fukushima Prefecture’s Soma region in northeastern Japan.

The study was published in an international medical journal by Shuhei Nomura, a researcher at Imperial College London, Masaharu Tsubokura, a physician at the Minamisoma Municipal General Hospital, and others studying evacuation-related mortality risks among elderly evacuees in the wake of the 2011 nuclear disaster.

Nomura and his team had published data on post-evacuation mortality rates at five elderly care facilities in Minamisoma city in 2013. In the latest study, they added data from two facilities in Soma city that were not evacuated for comparison and analysis. The study population comprised 1,215 residents at seven elderly care facilities, including those in the five years before the accident.

From the cases in Minamisoma and Soma cities, evacuation resulted in a mortality rate 1.82 times that of non-evacuation. When focusing only on initial evacuation from the original facility, mortality risk was 3.37 times higher. Meanwhile, no significant increase in mortality risk was found in subsequent evacuation cases thereafter in which preparations were believed to be more adequate.

(Translated by Kyodo News)

Gutted structure to be preserved as reminder of tsunami devastation, asahi shinbun, 1/8/15

SENDAI–The shell of a municipal building that stands as a symbol of the devastation caused by the 2011 tsunami disaster is to be taken over by the Miyagi prefectural government with an eye on preservation.

The 12-meter-high three-story disaster-management center building in Minami-Sanriku’s coastal Shizugawa district was gutted by waves of up to 15.5 m after the magnitude-9.0 Great East Japan Earthquake struck.

Forty-three residents and town employees were swept away.

The building withstood the onslaught, but was stripped bare with only its skeletal structure remaining. It became a site of mourning for many people.

However, the town government struggled to keep up with maintenance costs and decided in September 2013 to dismantle the structure.

Minami-Sanriku residents are divided over the building’s fate. Some believe it should be left as it is so future generations understand the extent of devastation, while others say the mere sight of it brings back painful memories.

To address these concerns, the prefectural government held a meeting of an advisory council in December to discuss preservation of other sites as well.

The council concluded that the structure had become “well-known around the world as a symbol of the disaster,” and that it was on par in terms of symbolic power with the Hiroshima Peace Memorial, or Atomic Bomb Dome. It recommended that the Miyagi prefectural government undertake its management.

The prefectural government decided to preserve the building on behalf of the town government out of consideration for survivors, as well as the economic strains faced by Minami-Sanriku. The town government is expected to accept its decision.

As public opinion remains divided on whether or not to permanently preserve the structure, the prefectural government will manage the building until 2031, the 20th anniversary of the disaster, before making a final decision on the fate of the structure.

The prefectural government’s decision reflects similar delays that affected the Atomic Bomb Dome, now a UNESCO World Heritage site. The Hiroshima city council made its final decision to preserve the structure only in 1966, 21 years after the city was leveled in the atomic bombing.

Gov’t poised to end evacuation advisory spots in Minamisoma in October, fukushima minpo, 9/27/2014

The central government is expected to remove as soon as October the designation of evacuation advisory spots in all of Minamisoma city implemented after the 2011 accident at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant of Tokyo Electric Power Co. in the wake of reduced radiation levels in the places involved. The move was made clear on Sept. 26 during a meeting between government officials and municipal assembly members at the city hall. The government side also indicated it will continue paying compensation for psychological damage suffered by residents and reimburse their evacuation expenses for three months after the designation is lifted.
The city has a total of 142 spots in seven districts where annual radiation levels exceed the maximum tolerable dose of 20 millisieverts, affecting 152 families. About 80% of some 720 residents in the areas have been evacuated.
Radiation measurements conducted in July and August by the government’s disaster task force in Fukushima city covering the residences of the affected families averaged 0.4 microsievert per hour at a point 1 meter above the ground, about 20% of the level at the time of the evacuation advisory designation. The maximum measurement was 1.08 microsieverts an hour, equivalent to an annual dose of around 5 millisieverts. This raised the prospect of an annual cumulative dose falling below the maximum allowable level of 20 millisieverts, prompting the task force to eliminate the evacuation advisory labeling.

Minamisoma hospital reopens, japan times, 4/23/2014

A municipal hospital reopened in this Fukushima Prefecture city Wednesday, three years after it closed due to the nuclear crisis at Tepco’s Fukushima No. 1 power plant.

The Odaka hospital in Minamisoma is the first permanent medical institution that has reopened in any of the areas near the crippled power plant where the evacuation advisory has yet to be lifted.

There are currently three types of evacuation areas, depending on the degree of radiation an area received after the triple reactor meltdown in March 2011. Citizens are banned from staying at their homes overnight inside these areas.

The Minamisoma government aims to lift the evacuation advisory for much of the city by April 2016. Minamisoma officials hope that reopening the hospital will help accelerate preparations for the eventual return of local residents.

Tomoyoshi Matsumoto, 66, and his wife came to see a doctor shortly after the hospital opened at 8 a.m.

“We live nearby and I feel comfortable because I know some doctors here,” Matsumoto said.

The couple live in Minamisoma, in a provisional home near Odaka. Before the hospital reopened they had to travel two hours to a different institution.

The Odaka hospital will be open three days a week, with four doctors working on shifts. It accepts outpatients with relatively mild symptoms.

Local residents on temporary visits to their homes and decontamination workers are expected to be among the hospital’s patients.

The main building remains unusable due to damage from the March 11, 2011, earthquake, so the hospital reopened in a one-story building that was previously used as a rehabilitation center.

Some businesses, including factories and service stations, have also reopened in the district.

Elsewhere in the prefecture’s evacuation areas, a provisional clinic has opened in the town of Namie, and a second one is expected to be set up in the town of Naraha soon.

Minami-Soma OKs rice planting for 1st time in 4 years, asahi, 12/14/13

MINAMI-SOMA, Fukushima Prefecture–The rice fields have lain fallow in this northern coastal city since tsunami deluged the area in 2011. But now, for the first time since then, farmers will start planting rice for harvest on about 3,200 hectares of paddies.

A general meeting of a council consisting of city officials and an agricultural association decided Dec. 13 to allow farmers to plant anew.

The farmers voluntarily refrained from growing rice after the onset of the crisis at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant.

Although the paddies to be replanted are located outside the evacuation zone, the central government continues to prohibit the cultivation of rice on about 5,300 hectares of the fields within the evacuation zone. It is expected to decide on an extent of the restriction for 2014 in January at the earliest.

Farmers planted rice on about 123 hectares of paddies in Minami-Soma on an experimental basis earlier this year.

But partly due to a delay in decontamination work at the paddies, radioactive cesium exceeding the government’s safety limit of 100 becquerels per kilogram was detected in some of the crops from those fields.

At the Dec. 13 meeting, one farmer said that they should wait until safety is confirmed before going ahead with replanting.

“(The council) should hold a thorough investigation to determine why radioactive cesium is exceeding the safety limit,” the farmer said.

However, with the city pledging to fully support the restart of rice growing, the Dec. 13 meeting decided on the resumption of rice planting by majority vote.


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